A/n: Yea, so you guys are gonna kill me. I can already see it now: What?! Over two years with no update and we get this shitty chapter?!
Well, I'm sorry. OTL Please forgive me. Uh, yea, I don't think this is gonna make anyone happy... but, what will! I finally figured out what's going to happen, and I remember now what I was planning for upcoming chapters so... yay? Heh, heh... aheh... I'm sorry. I had half of this written for about... well, since I last updated, so if you see a random style change in the middle, that's why. I did my best to match how I used to write, so... we'll see how it goes. :x
I would do review replies, but there were so many since my last update... ^^; Uh, just know that I really appreciated all the lovely reviews you guys gave me, and I'm sorry to keep you waiting so long. I promise I'll do review replies in the next chapter!
Chapter Eight: Of Favor Asking and Uncomfortable Feelings
What in Kami's name was that fox demon doing here? Sesshomaru thought he'd gotten rid of him when he'd refused to become his mate, all that time ago… it felt like such a long while, but in all actuality it had only been a few months. He watched as the vaguely purple blur grew closer, ignoring as Inuyasha came to stand beside him, crossing his arms and looking suspicious as always. The daiyoukai really wasn't in the mood for this right now. If Inuyasha didn't remember the fox demon he wasn't going to bother explaining again. It was simply too much of a hassle— not to mention the hanyou had hated him way before he'd agreed to become Amatsu's mate… wait.
Wait. Waaaiiitt. Amatsu… had made Inuyasha jealous, with his rather flirty demeanor and demon lord status. And if he had made him jealous once, it would be no hard task to do it again. Suddenly, Amatsu's presence seemed to come with a silver lining, and as the demon grew closer Sesshomaru stood a bit taller, bearing the slightest bit of his neck. Operation Seduction was now under way. "Fluffy! I knew I'd find you out here." Amatsu stopped directly in front of the golden-eyed daiyoukai, completely ignoring the hanyou and humans who had gathered around as well. There was something different about him, Sesshomaru noted. He seemed to glow with a certain… happiness that he hadn't before. There had always been arrogance in his demeanor, but now he was giving off an aura more of confidence than anything else. Sesshomaru nodded in greeting, determined to be as cordial as possible.
"Don't call me that."
…Well, old habits die hard.
"Who the hell is this?" Inuyasha said, brow furrowing as he took a whiff of the other male. Sesshomaru rolled his eyes, ignoring the hanyou in favor of studying Amatsu further. "Well?" Inuyasha repeated, and Miroku patted his shoulder lightly, shaking his head. The only information Inuyasha seemed to be able to dig up about the demon in front of him in his broken memories was that he really didn't like this guy. Not to mention he was staring at his brother in a way that was far too friendly for his tastes. The hanyou turned his eyes to the monk for an answer and Miroku floundered for a bit.
"This is… an acquaintance of Sesshomaru's," he said rather vaguely, not really explaining much of anything at all. Ah and Un seemed to be regarding the new demon rather curiously, though they didn't do anything more than lift their heads before laying them down on the soft grass once more. Inuyasha frowned at the statement that didn't really explain anything at all, eyeing the so called 'Amatsu' with his hand placed over the Tetsaisga. He'd learned long ago not to trust 'acquaintances' of his brother, especially ones that smelled so damn powerful.
"If you insist," Amatsu said teasingly, ignoring the monk and the hanyou's conversation entirely in favor of grabbing the demon lord's hand and placing on It a soft kiss. Sesshomaru quirked an eyebrow, not pulling away out of sheer curiosity. The fox daiyoukai knew that nothing was going to happen between them. Had he really not give up yet? With how annoyingly persistent he was Sesshomaru wouldn't have been surprised, but it was still a bit odd… "I have a favor to ask of you, Sesshomaru," Amatsu sighed once he'd let go of the pale appendage, eyes lingering on the magenta stripes painted across the wrists.
"A favor?" The demon lord repeated, wondering what on earth the other male could possibly need his help with.
The two daiyoukai turned at the sound of the voice, both having completely forgotten that Inuyasha was there. That was good, Sesshomaru told himself. It was the first time he'd managed to get the hanyou off his mind since this whole lost memory business. Perhaps Amatsu would prove even more useful than he'd originally thought.
"Just who are you, and what do you want with Sesshomaru?"
The dog demon rolled his eyes. Even when Inuyasha had no memories of their relationship, he was still a jealous asshole. Figures.
Amatsu turned to face the hanyou, his hair swaying a bit with the movement. "You mean you don't remember me? I'm surprised. And hurt." Amatsu sniffed. "I am Amatsu, Demon Lord of the Southern Lands." He bowed with a flourish that made Sesshomaru have to consciously suppress a sigh. But Inuyasha only quirked an eyebrow, the usual furrow of his brow and pout of his lip plastered on his face— the one that made him look like a petulant child. "Sesshomaru, I don't really have a right to ask anything of you, but I'm afraid there is a matter at my castle that requires your utmost attention."
Inuyasha looked like he was going to speak again— or at least yell obscenities, but Miroku stopped him with a hand over his mouth. Sesshomaru frowned, tilting his head up a bit but keeping his eyes trained on the demon lord. He didn't want to postpone the journey to regain Inuyasha's memories just to assist this arrogant bastard. But… the new moon would be soon. And Inuyasha wouldn't want to travel that night, so they'd lose ground anyway. Why not spend that night in the safety of Amatsu's castle? Dealing with him couldn't be any worse than trying to deal with an Inuyasha who didn't remember what they had.
"What is it?" The demon lord asked, curiosity piqued. They had parted on... amicable terms, he supposed, but they didn't exactly have the best history.
Amatsu's face saddened, and for a moment he went very still. This reaction made the demon lord even more curious, as rarely did Amatsu stray from the usual cocky, carefree persona he bore. And yet, he looked... worried?
"It's Shiuchi... do you remember him? Something is terribly wrong, I fear. He has been acting so strange... my healer Leiko thinks he may have been poisoned." The indigo-haired male lifted his head, looking at Sesshomaru once more. His expression was earnest, and the demon lord couldn't help feel a bit confused. There was something... "Sesshomaru, she believes that if she can get some of your poison she may be able to make an antidote."
Sesshomaru frowned, remembering vaguely the demon the other was speaking of. "How was he poisoned?" He asked, and Amatsu merely shook his head in response.
"I'm afraid I don't know. It happened very suddenly, ever since yesterday he has developed a high fever and has bouts of strange behavior..." Amatsu sighed. "Please, my friend. Will you help?"
Sesshomaru was hesitant. Though it would not be a large inconvenience, there was something about the situation he found strange. And he was not even certain that an antidote could be drawn from his poison claws...
"We don't have time to go around saving every demon in need," Inuyasha grumbled, kicking at the ground. Miroku looked over at him, aware that the half demon was only being difficult.
"You don't mean that Inuyasha," Kagome said, patting his shoulder. "If there is anyway that we can help Shiuchi, of course we will." She was indeed worried about the demon, but admittedly she did have an ulterior motive. She was certain that if she could just spend a bit more time with Inuyasha, she could win him over. She just knew that he had feelings for her, somewhere... or at least, that he had, before Sesshomaru came along. She was positive that she could bring them back.
Sesshomaru sent the miko an irritated look- there was no 'we', he was the one who would be helping, thanks very much, he failed to see how it was her decision. Amatsu seemed to realize this as well and had not even bother looking over at the human woman, eyes remaining trained on Sesshomaru. After a moment, the demon lord nodded his head. "I will assist you."
A wide smile split the fox demon's lips, and Sesshomaru leaned back a bit when he moved forward to embrace him. "Oh, thank you, thank you my friend."
"Release me at once."
Amatsu smiled sheepishly. "Sorry."
Inuyasha grunted in exasperation, but he knew this would be for the best. They had needed shelter for the night of the new moon regardless, so he supposed they'd just stay with this Amatsu character until it was over... getting some of Sesshomaru's poison couldn't possibly take that long. Then they'd continue on their way to Mount Gakuran, nothing gained nothing lost. He sighed, though his mind was made up. He wondered where Amatsu lived...
"We shall stay at your camp for tonight, and tomorrow I will escort you to my castle," Amatsu declared. He moved closer to their campfire and breathed deeply, looking curiously at his surroundings. His eyes lingered on Ah Un for a moment, before he seemed to find a suitable spot, and he sat down, sitting indian style with his palms flat on his knees.
Inuyasha watched the demon suspiciously, still not trusting him. No one had really explained to him who this guy was. The lord of the Southern lands? Okay. A friend of Sesshomaru? Okay. ...Okay. Well, maybe they had explained who he was, but he still didn't trust him. There was something about him that just really grated on his nerves...
Slowly they all returned to their places, Miroku sitting in between the two demon lords. "Tell me Lord Amatsu," the monk asked, "How have you been faring? Before this whole ordeal, I mean."
Amatsu tilted his head, as if he was confused because a human was addressing him. He leaned forwards a bit, nose twitching. "My lands have always been prosperous," he said vaguely, and then a smile curled his lips. "And unlike Sesshomaru, I don't spend half my time roaming who knows where."
The demon lord's eyes narrowed a bit, but he stayed out of the conversation. He had much to think about, and didn't feel like wasting energy on conversing with Amatsu. Even though he had instructed the lord not to call him by that irritating nickname, it was almost stranger to hear his regular name from the other's mouth.
Kagome watched the other demon lord from across the fire for a moment, before turning back to Inuyasha. The half demon appeared to be deep in thought, and the small smile on her face wavered. Despite his memories being lost, Inuyasha didn't seem to be acting any differently towards her... even though he'd kissed her back, nothing had changed. Maybe it was because they were always around the other's? Inuyasha always seemed more willing to accept her advances when they were alone...
She cleared her throat lightly, causing his ears to twitch, and amber eyes to turn towards her. She directed a smile up at him, tilting her head. "Inuyasha?" She asked, hands clasping together in her lap. "Um... can I speak with you?"
The half demon glanced over to the three others, Amatsu explaining something he didn't care about to an interested-looking Miroku, Sesshomaru looking off to the side and ignoring them both. Honestly, he was hesitant to leave them alone with the strange demon, but knew that Sesshomaru could handle it if anything happened. He looked back at Kagome, seeing the pleading expression on her face, and knew he would not be able say no.
He stood, walking away from the campfire and towards the field where Sesshomaru and he had trained before. Kagome got up and followed, unaware of the golden eyes that watched them go.
Sesshomaru had to work very hard to stop himself from following them, nostrils flaring as the miko strayed close to his mate while they walked. He was so close to just flicking his wrist and slicing her in half. It was a near thing. He could not even hear Amatsu's voice any longer, the sound drowned out in his own thoughts, his youkai's snarls, his nails digging into the fabric of his pants...
There was a hand on his wrist.
He could feel his eyes beginning to bleed red, a growl forming in the back of his throat, but he pushed back his fury quick enough, eyes snapping over to glare at the monk. Miroku looked rather wary, but kept his hand where it was.
"Are you all right, my lord?" He asked, and Sesshomaru barely managed a 'fine' quick enough to be believable.
Amatsu was removing his armor, and regarded them curiously.
Though Sesshomaru would never admit it, the contact was nice. It was not his mate's, but it was enough to soothe his wounded pride.
Had the miko no honor? No dignity? Was she truly going to attempt to draw Inuyasha away from him, right from under his nose? It was cruel. While her intentions could be pure he had a hard time believing so.
He turned his head away so he could no longer see them, choosing instead to look up at the sky. For all his inner strength, he simply could not sit there idly.
The half demon watched Kagome warily, his hands resting in his sleeves. The wind was starting to pick up, just a bit, and it sent a sweet scent hovering over the grass. She was smiling, softly, sweetly, and he was not sure what she wanted from him. What she expected. The raven-haired female took a small step forward, a deep sigh leaving her.
"Inuyasha, you... never gave me an answer."
He shifted a bit uncomfortably, having to look past her for a moment before he was able to meet her eyes. "An answer to what, Kagome?"
She chewed briefly on her lower lip, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. "I... when I told you I loved you, you... never said anything." She looked away shyly, taking in a breath to strengthen herself. "Do you... feel the same way, Inuyasha?" Her brown eyes met his amber ones, and her brow furrowed. "Do you? Or is this feeling in my heart just..."
She didn't finish her sentence, the words trailing off and being swept away by the wind.
Inuyasha could feel his heart start to beat faster, a nervousness settling in his chest that was impossible to ignore. She was coming closer, and he had to say something. He had to say something, and he didn't want her to cry. When did this become so difficult? He remembered... he thought that he... didn't he?
"Kagome I..." He swallowed, arms falling down to his sides. She rested her hands against his chest and looked up at him, looking entirely too vulnerable.
"Do you love me, Inuyasha?"
It was too quiet. Not even the sounds of the wind could fill the silence that followed after that question, and Inuyasha found himself confused. Why was he so hesitant? He didn't understand... there was something that he felt he was forgetting, something important, but he couldn't quite...
Kagome's lower lip trembled, and he caught her hands in his.
"Idiot," he chided gently. "Of course I do."
A wide smile broke out across her lips. "Oh, Inuyasha!"
She leaned forward, moving into his arms and pressing their mouths together. His hands spasmed in mid air for a moment, but soon they came hesitantly to rest at the girls waist. She shuddered in his hold, her mouth immediately surrendering to his, and he found himself at a loss. It should feel good, right? Kagome was soft, she was warm. Beautiful. But... he couldn't help but feel that she was... too soft. It didn't make sense, no matter how he said it, but that was how he felt...
Still, he couldn't bring himself to end the sudden kiss. He loved her, he was certain he had to, and she loved him. She loved him, and so he was going to make her happy.
His tongue probed at her bottom lip, and the miko made a quiet squeaking noise, her hands tightening at his shoulders. Inuyasha pulled away, a flush tinting the bridge of his nose. "Uh, sorry..."
She shook her head. "No, it's okay..."
He took in a breath, turning his head. "We should probably head back."
She nodded, leaning forward to rest her head on his shoulder. "Okay." Her voice was quiet, content, and he stared down at her for a moment, a strange feeling churning in the pit of his stomach. They stood there in silence for a moment longer, before beginning to walk back to the campsite. Kagome clung tightly to his arm, a small, happy smile on her face.
She could scarcely believe it.
He'd said that he loved her... he loved her. And he'd kissed her. She brought her free hand to her lips, touching them shyly. There was happiness overflowing inside of her, but somewhere in the back of her mind it was tainted with the feeling of guilt...
Despite everything, she couldn't help but feel bad for Sesshomaru... but she just knew it was better this way. He was so cold and lifeless all the time, there was no way Inuyasha could be happy with someone like that. And not only that, but they were brothers... even though they were demons, there had to be something wrong with that.
They would make new, better memories together.
Sesshomaru watched the two go, feeling mildly dizzy. He quite suddenly did not feel well, felt like if he tried to move his body would simply disobey. He had to breathe through his mouth, even though his nose worked perfectly fine. His ears felt as if they'd been stuffed with cotton. Belatedly, he wished they had been.
He would not be returning to the campsite anytime soon.
He could not bear to look at Inuyasha after witnessing something like that, such a blatant and utter betrayal... he knew that his memories were lost, however he...
Sesshomaru turned, watching the grass ripple in the wind for a moment before looking up at the waning moon.
Was that what Inuyasha wanted, then? Someone who would fawn over him? Someone direct? Open? He was not raised that way, nor would he want to have been. He preferred the barriers he put between himself and others.
Inuyasha had made his choice.
Foxgirl: ...I'm sorry. OTL The next one will be bett-... actually, I can't promise that.
Vixen: You monster.