AN: Yay! No more hiatus!
Disclaimer: I don't own, please don't sue!
"Legends are best left as legends, and attempts to make them real are rarely successful." - Michael Moorcock
Kagome sighed as she entered her home and kicked off her shoes. She loved the kids that she had in her classes, but some days they were adolescent hellions. Her sock feet made soft padding sounds on the tile of the kitchen and became silent on the carpet of the hall. She stopped to hang her jacket and bag in the hall closet before looking a few doors down with a small amount of apprehension.
Steeling her nerves, Kagome walked down to the warded door and gently turned the knob. The door swung open to reveal the great white dog that she had brought down from the mountains almost one week prior.
With the help of Inuyasha's credit card, Sesshoumaru had been able to put on a noticeable amount of weight. He wasn't nearly as bulky as Kagome was sure he should be, but he no longer looked like a fur-draped skeleton. His eyes were no longer glassy, and it seemed as though his body had started to repair itself as he had lost and regrown several pearly white fangs.
Kagome glanced to Sesshoumaru's several bowls and saw that all were empty. As she stepped past the doorway's barrier and into the room she said, "Let me refill these for you, and then we're going to have a…well, a pretty one-sided chat."
Returning to the kitchen, Kagome placed all of the bowls in the sink so that she could wash them before putting more food in them. With Sesshoumaru still recovering, Kagome didn't want to take the chance of food borne bacteria making its way into his system. Retrieving her sponge and dish soap after placing chicken broth on the stove to heat, Kagome began the almost meditative task of washing dishes.
Considering everything that had transpired the previous weekend, the week had been pretty uneventful. Kagome went to work, graded papers, cooked, cleaned, and everything else she usually did during the week; the only difference was that she occasionally had to refill the bowls of a malnourished yet aloof dog demon. Inuyasha still wasn't answering or returning her calls. Sighing, she thought, 'I can't really blame him. I knew exactly how he felt about Sesshoumaru's disappearance, and I shouldn't have tried to hide him.' Placing the last bowl on the counter to be dried, she narrowed her eyes slightly in aggravation. "He didn't have to yell at me like that, though."
It only took a few minutes to dry the large plastic bowls and line them up to receive their fillings. The first bowl was filled with several trays of ice and then filled the rest of the way with water. The second bowl was filled with various chopped vegetables that she had prepared that morning. The third bowl was filled with meats including fatty cuts of steak, boneless chicken breasts, and deboned fish. The fourth bowl was filled with the warmed chicken broth. The final step was to drizzle olive oil over the bowl of meat. It wouldn't do much for his health, but it would help improve his skin and coat.
Sesshoumaru watched from his position on the comfortable bed as Kagome brought in his water and broth bowls to place them on a large towel. She exited the room once more and he reflected on his current arrangements. He had been taken from his mountain and brought gods knew where. He still wasn't quite strong enough to take his humanoid form, and he was being tended to by a human woman—his half-brother's priestess, at that. His strength was gradually returning, but he had quite a way to go until he reached the level he had once been at. The big question was what awaited him once he was able to leave this woman's care.
Kagome returned with his meat and vegetables, and Sesshoumaru slowly stood so that he could step from the bed and eat. Taking a seat on the corner of the bed to watch Sesshoumaru eat, Kagome glanced back to where he had been lying. The comforter and bed sheets were stained with dirt and grime, and she wrinkled her nose slightly before turning her attention back to Sesshoumaru.
"I bought some new sheets and blankets, you know," she spoke. The slight swivel of one ear was her only indication that he was listening. "You've been here almost a week. I was thinking that…maybe…we could try to give you a bath?"
This brought all of Sesshoumaru's attention on the fidgeting woman. She frowned at the intense look that he was giving her and said, "Hey, it doesn't sound like a thrilling evening for me either, but it needs to happen. You're covered in a few hundred years' worth of dirt and who knows what else. I'd rather get away with buying some new sheets now instead of new sheets and a new mattress later."
Sesshoumaru wasn't entirely sure what a "mattress" was, but based on context he could infer that it was what he had been lying on for the past several days. He stared pointedly at Kagome's bandaged arm before catching her eyes again. He would not stand to have his fur pulled at so roughly again.
"Yeah," she drawled as she rubbed the rough bandages. "I don't really want to repeat that either. I think I have a better plan than last time, though. You just finish your food and I'll get the bathroom ready, okay?"
Sesshoumaru watched as Kagome stood and exited the room once more. He wondered what she could possibly have planned, but he decided that he didn't care as long as it got him clean and didn't pull his fur out. He would never admit it to her, but the dirt that had worked its way deep into his fur made his skin crawl.
It was several minutes after Sesshoumaru had finished his supper that Kagome returned for him. She went about removing the sealing charms from the door and doorway, but Sesshoumaru was wondering what the woman was wearing. The clothes that she wore during the week stuck him as strange enough, but this was…indecent.
The bright blue bottoms that she wore barely covered her bottom and showcased her long legs which were strangely hairless. Was she ill? It could possibly be a birth defect. Her stomach was bared to him, and despite being nicely toned it was not something that was to be shown to a male who was not a mate. The upper garment wasn't much more than an equally bright blue scrap of cloth that covered the majority of her breasts. It had no sleeves and appeared to tie behind her around her ribcage and at the base of her neck.
The woman showed no signs of embarrassment over being dressed in such a way. Was this socially acceptable attire for human females? If so, what had happened to what little shame the humans had held?
"Okay, Sesshoumaru," Kagome said as she placed the small stack of papers on a nearby dresser. "Let's get started, because I have a feeling that this is going to take a while. Follow me."
Kagome waited as Sesshoumaru stood up on the bed and stretched. As he slowly stepped onto the floor and ambled towards her, she wondered if his sedated pace was because he was still healing or because he felt no need to keep to her schedule. Once he got within a couple of feet she turned and made her way towards the stairs. It was still a little startling to be around a dog that easily came up to her chest.
The large demon followed her up the stairs and into a room that had white tile floors. "Okay, hop into the tub and we'll get started," Kagome instructed. But when all she received from Sesshoumaru was a blank stare, her shoulders slumped because she knew that he wasn't going to make this easy. "I promise that I'll try really hard not to pull your fur this time. Just please get in the tub, Sesshoumaru-sama."
Seeing the young human before him press her palms together in a pleading gesture and address him properly, Sesshoumaru decided to humor the woman and see what she had planned. He tentatively stepped over the short white walls and into the large empty basin where he sat and waited.
"Okay, we're not going to have any surprises, so I'll let you know what I'm doing before I do it." Kagome looked to Sesshoumaru for any kind of indication that he had heard or understood her, but when she only received the same blank stare as usual she silently mused that his expressions didn't vary much from human to canine form.
Kagome reached over to grab the detachable shower head and showed it to Sesshoumaru. "Step one is to get your fur nice and wet." She slowly turned the knobs for hot and cold until a good temperature was reached. It was all that she could do to stifle her giggles as the great Western Lord started when the stream of warm water hit him. Sitting on the edge of the tub, Kagome slowly and methodically worked the water into Sesshoumaru's dirty but thick coat. The bottom of the tub was filled with dark rivulets that ran to swirl down the drain.
Rinsing her hands and turning off the water, Kagome replaced the shower head and reached into a basket she had prepared and placed next to the bathtub. "I was able to find unscented shampoo and conditioner for you. I don't think you're supposed to use conditioner on dogs, but since you aren't really a dog I think it'll be okay," Kagome reasoned. She put the large bottle she had picked up back into the basket to choose another. "We'll get to that lather, though," she said. "What I'm going to use now, I wasn't able to find unscented, but I got the mildest scent that I could find. This is a leave-in conditioning spray that I'm going to use with a detangling spray. Hopefully together they'll help me brush out your coat before I start to shampoo you." It suddenly struck Kagome that she was speaking about several modern items and she mumbled, "It's not like you're going to understand what all of this is, anyway."
Sesshoumaru glared at the scantily clad woman before him. Granted, he didn't know exactly what many of the words she was saying were referring to, but he was far from unintelligent. He understood the gist of what she was yammering about.
Kagome proceeded to use almost two bottles of both the conditioner and detangling spray; Sesshoumaru's large figure was covered in lots of fur. She couldn't imagine trying this if it was at its full thickness. The next hour and a half was spent slowly brushing out the matted off-white fluff in silence, occasionally stopping to clean the shed fur from the comb.
When the tedious and nerve-wracking task was complete, Kagome was surprised at just how much better Sesshoumaru was starting to look. A small smile began to replace her tired expression as she took the shower head once more to rinse what she could from the tangle-free fur.
Shampooing the giant dog turned out to be much more enjoyable than she had initially anticipated. Palm full after palm full of the unscented liquid was applied as needed and massaged into a fluffy lather. She used her blunt fingernails to work the shampoo deep into the fur and down to Sesshoumaru's skin. While she worked her way from the top of his head, down to his feet, and back to his tail, Kagome constantly had to tell herself that she was washing a dog and not bathing the tall demon lord from her memories.
As the shampoo was washed away, the dirt followed. Silvery white fur began to peek through, and Kagome was glad that she had been adding the oil to Sesshoumaru's food. The conditioner worked into his fur smoothly, and Kagome found herself running her fingers through the soft strands for a while even after the conditioner had been applied. The rinsing process actually made Kagome a little jealous of how smooth and silky the fur was. 'And it had been in such bad shape!' She thought.
Grabbing a towel, Kagome stood and dried her arms and legs. She knew she was bound to get wet during Sesshoumaru's bath, and she was glad she had opted to wear her swimsuit. Kagome stretched her stiff limbs and heard a few of her lower vertebrae pop as she leaned backwards. She looked over to Sesshoumaru just in time to see him stand, and she knew what was coming next. Lifting up the towel to act as a barrier, she flinched as the great dog shook himself partially dry. Once things had calmed down and the water was no longer flying, Kagome looked around her bathroom and sighed at the sight of water droplets covering the floor, walls, and even ceiling.
'Not much I can do about it now,' she thought. Picking up a fresh towel, Kagome made her way over to Sesshoumaru and said, "I'm going to try to towel dry you as much as I can, okay?" She didn't receive any kind of affirmation but she didn't receive a growl either, so Kagome took Sesshoumaru's silence as what was as close to approval as she was going to get.
She gently rubbed the cotton towel across his head and face, down his neck and chest, over his legs and torso, and finally around his fluffy tail. Now only slightly damp, Kagome let Sesshoumaru step out of the tub and prepared herself for what was to come. It was safe to assume that Sesshoumaru was not going to be pleased. Kagome dug out her hairdryer and a large paddle brush. "Sesshoumaru, since I can't have you running around the house wet, I'm going to finish drying your fur with this, okay?" She asked as she held up the blue plastic dryer to show him.
Sesshoumaru stepped forward tentatively to sniff at the odd appliance. He had never seen anything like it before. As he sniffed what he assumed was the back portion he drew back quickly and shook his head before sneezing. Kagome laughed nervously and said, "Yeah, they can smell a little funny. What you probably smell is singed hair where I've gotten it too close to my head."
Narrowing his eyes at the foul smelling contraption, Sesshoumaru took a couple of steps back and shook his head. If the thing was able to produce enough heat to singe hair, it could most certainly singe his fur. He finally felt clean after centuries, and he wasn't going to have his fur ruined by some human device.
It took Kagome a moment to realize what had caused Sesshoumaru's shift in mood from curious to defensive, but when it finally dawned on her she quickly shook her head and waved her hands. "No, no, no," she back peddled. "I only ever singed my hair when I got distracted and got the hairdryer too close. I can only imagine what you would do once you got all of your strength back if I singed you," Kagome laughed awkwardly at her half-joke that got no reaction whatsoever. "The only thing you should worry about is the sound. It's a little loud."
Plugging in the hairdryer and scooting closer to Sesshoumaru, Kagome flipped the hairdryer onto its lowest setting and saw what she supposed was the equivalent of a grimace on Sesshoumaru's face. Kagome wasn't sure what more she could say to the demon, so she focused on the task at hand. Starting at his neck, Kagome used the brush to separate small sections of fur at a time and dried them with a careful hand. The more fur she dried, the more she realized just how fluffy Sesshoumaru's canine form was. She had seen the larger version during her travels only a handful of times, though she had been distracted by the very real threat that he had posed at the time. It was almost funny. At fifteen, she had never once imagined that she would be playing dog groomer for the intimidating lord.
As Sesshoumaru's fur dried the strands became light and formed a layer of fluff around his body. Kagome snuck in a few pets here and there as she worked, because she was fairly certain that Sesshoumaru wouldn't appreciate being treated like a pet. It took a while to work the brush and dryer though all of Sesshoumaru's coat, but when she was finished she was able to see some of the demon of her memory starting to shine through. Despite still being too thin, he still held a regal air about him.
Kagome sprawled out on the floor once the dryer was turned off and heaved a sigh of relief. That was one large chore taken care of. Stretching her arms above her head, Kagome grunted before saying, "I still need to change the sheets on your bed, but first I'm going to get something to eat." Kagome stood up and looked at the dog that wasn't much shorter than she was. "Since you're all nice and clean now, you can wander around the house and explore or whatever you want to do," she said as she turned to make her way down the stairs. "Just don't break anything, please!"
Sesshoumaru glanced around the small room that they had occupied for quite a while and decided to see what the priestess's home had to offer. He padded down the stairs and was about to investigate some of the stranger things that he couldn't begin to name when he heard a commotion in another room. Following the noise, Sesshoumaru found Kagome rummaging through a large white box. Or was it a pantry of some sort? His brow furrowed as he approached and sniffed around the edges of the contraption. There was definitely food in the white box, and the inside was chilled. Looking around Kagome's form—and noticing that she was showing considerably less skin—Sesshoumaru peered into the box. Though the inside was chilled, he could find no ice. Could humans have become much more proficient at magic?
When Kagome found what she was looking for, she removed the covered bowl from the refrigerator and took a few steps over to the microwave. Once the seal of the bowl's lid had been cracked a little and was placed in the microwave to be reheated, Kagome turned to lean against her counter and face Sesshoumaru. She could see his eyes looking at this and that, and his nose was twitching wildly. 'Well, without the ability to reach out and touch things, it makes sense that he would rely much more heavily on what his nose was able to tell him.' She suddenly felt very sorry for Sesshoumaru.
He was completely displaced from the world that he knew. Demons no longer roamed the countryside. Money held more value than honor for most people. He was no longer the ruling force over the western lands. There were many things that he would need to learn and quite a few that he would need to re-learn. Catching the great canine's eye, Kagome spoke sadly, "The world is a very different place from what you once knew, Sesshoumaru."
Sesshoumaru damned the woman's inability to understand him in this form. There were many questions that he had, and he was receiving no answers. All that he ever seemed to get from this woman were vague statements with no further explanations on the matter. He was thinking of ways that he might be able to get his questions answered, but a loud, sharp noise suddenly echoed through the room and made his ears ache.
But the noise stopped when Kagome opened a small door and removed a bowl. As she removed the lid, Sesshoumaru could see steam rising from the contents. She paid him very little mind as she grabbed a set of chopsticks from a drawer and exited the room. He followed so that he could watch how she interacted with her surroundings. Surely he would be able to come to his own deductions about the strange objects around him if he was able to see a native use them.
Kagome sat on her couch and grabbed the remote to her TV. She knew that Sesshoumaru was watching her, but she decided to ignore him for the moment in favor of a little normalcy. As soon as she hit the power button and the TV screen flared to life, Sesshoumaru's head whipped in the flat screen's direction and he let a small growl escape his throat. Kagome was a little worried about her TV's safety as the massive dog demon approached it, but she relaxed once she saw the he was merely sniffing it from a distance. He stared at the images on the screen for a moment before he turned to look at her pointedly. When he looked to the TV and back to her again, she let a grin spread across her face.
"Why not come have a seat with me?" She asked as she patted a spot on the couch beside her. Sesshoumaru didn't budged and Kagome knew that he was waiting for an answer to his unspoken question. "I'll tell you what; once you're able to take your humanoid form again you can ask me all the questions that you want. I'll try to answer everything that I can, but I can't guarantee that I'll have all of the answers that you want. Let's call it incentive to get better soon!"
Sesshoumaru growled at the insolent woman when she patted her hand on a cushion beside her once more. Turning away from her with a small huff, Sesshoumaru found a different piece of furniture that looked mildly comfortable and piled himself into it. The rest of Kagome's meal was spent in silence as he tried to puzzle out the strange moving pictures. Later, after the picture screen went black and Kagome had given his bed new linens, Sesshoumaru rested in the darkness of his room and silently contemplated on whether he was any better off in this strange new world than he was in the mountains.
AN: Please excuse any glaring errors in this chapter. I tried to proof it while I was watching the Alabama/Notre Dame game, and I kept getting distracted. But I wanted to get this new chapter out tonight, so I'm posting it now and hoping for the best. Also, please excuse any writing style differences between chapters three and four. There was a pretty big gap between when the two were written! I will proof the chapter a little more thoroughly tomorrow. Anyway, let me know what you thought of the chapter and, as always, thanks for reading!
EDIT: Okay, I did a little more proofing. I think I got most everything. But here's a fun fact: If you have a dog with dry skin or a dull coat, adding some oil (olive, vegetable, etc) to their food will help moisturize their skin from the inside out and give them a nice shiny coat!