To the Masses: Umm…can't think of anything…Oh! Thank you for all who reviewed and added me to their favorites/alerts lists. Special shout out to those who left longer reviews; they never fail to make my innards feel all warm and fuzzy.
There's not as much Kagome bashing in this, because the whole story about the Beads of Subjugaion/kotodama actually has a loop hole built in so I have an excuse to keep her around. Kagome still isn't all that liked, I just find that I can do more damage to the character if I keep her around instead of dumping her like a hot potato. To those of you who never held a hot potato before; it really hurts.
Warnings: OOC and AU, Kagome Bashing, Slash/Yaoi, Slavery, Abuse, Reiteration of Episode 69 (sort of), OC, and more.
Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha
I don't know any parents that look into the eyes of a newborn baby and say, How can we screw this kid up. – Russell Bishop.
Kagome's mother watched her daughter take in a deep breath, the first since she'd started the hyper explanation of her day. She had started talking as soon as she found her mother in the kitchen and didn't pause as the woman ushered her to the table and served them both drinks. When she was finally done speaking, after having outlined exactly what Souten looked like and just how cute she was, they had already gone through two pots of tea.
Souta and their grandfather had eventually joined, and from time to time the old man would add his own two yen. All the while her mother sat calmly and listened patiently.
The elder woman was possibly more aware than even Kagome was of what was going on. After all she did have a degree in psychology and had worked extensively with troubled families. Higurashi Asami not only listened to what her daughter said but watched her body language, and kept track of the emotions that changed from day to day. She kept a mental file of the ups and downs of Kagome's moods and the causes for them, but more than that –she was one of the few to sit down and have a conversation with the other have of the dilemma, Inuyasha.
The half demon proved to have no qualms talking about their mission to collect the Jewel Shards or the fights he'd won to protect her daughter and their friends. It was only when Asami probed about his family life did he seem uncomfortable. Kagome's mother had seen the thinly veiled emotions in his amber eyes whenever they talked about more personal issues.
Asami had learned that Sesshomaru was a sensitive topic and did not question him in depth about their relationship. From what he did say she had to discern that it wasn't right for demon's to leave their kin to grow up alone, but it was fairly common for them to fight as viciously as they did. Their first battle after Inuyasha's reawakening was explained casually, it was no big deal to take an eye or an arm in a fight between demon siblings because they would be able to regenerate their body parts, unlike humans.
When Inuyasha talked about the monk or the demon slayer it was with caring amusement as if he were talking about human siblings or best friends. He had once said that they understood the position he was in, whatever that meant. Asami thought maybe he'd meant his status as their leader, but over time she wondered if he meant something else. Maybe something Inuyasha was ashamed of or was forbidden from speaking of.
Then there was little Shippo, and that had Kagome's mother worried. Her daughter would often tell tales of how brave he was for someone so small, a joke he'd played, and sometimes she spoke of how much he loved her. Asami knew her daughter saw herself as a mother to the lost kit, but she couldn't help but feel that not all was as Kagome said. On one of Inuyasha's visits she'd mentioned it as casually as she could.
"Kagome seems rather fond of Shippo, but I haven't heard anything about him for a while now," Asami had said pleasantly, setting a bowl of rice and a plate of thinly sliced beef in front of the half-demon. She had wanted to do something nice for him, since he was struggling to wait so patiently for Kagome to return from school.
She watched his reaction carefully, taking in the flash of annoyance and then the swell and ebb of rage. His hand had come up to touch the beads around his neck before he let his hand drop onto the table. Asami knew the origin of the necklace and knew that those very beads were what kept Inuyasha from killing her daughter in the early days of their journey. No matter how grateful she was for Kaede's fast thinking she still couldn't help but think that the thing should have been removed a long time ago.
"The kid's fine," Inuyasha had replied very bluntly just before picking up his chop-sticks. "Actually," he'd changed his mind apparently, and looked at Asami as he spoke, "he is having a hard time with learning his mathematics. I was kind of wondering how you taught Kagome hers." For the rest of the hour Asami shared what parental tips she thought wouldn't be lost on the demon. From him she learned that Kagome wasn't an active participant in teaching Shippo anything, and the girl preferred to coddle and spoil the kit instead.
All the while she was listening to Kagome talk of the new child she wondered what Inuyasha would have to say about her, and Asami looked forward to the talk they would likely have in only a couple of days. As much as she didn't care to admit it; Inuyasha was the parent out of the two, but she couldn't fault her own daughter. Kagome was only sixteen, almost seventeen, and in Inuyasha's time that might mean she was an adult but she still had the mind of a child. In their time sixteen year olds made plenty of mistakes, and Asami could only hope that Kagome's wouldn't be too bad.
"Mama?" Kagome asked, trying to get her attention back.
"Oh, I'm sorry Kagome. My mind got away from me for a moment," Asami said pleasantly. "I was just wondering how Inuyasha is taking it all," that was blasé enough to warrant an answer without giving away her own thoughts.
Kagome stopped in he chattered for a moment and her family turned to her for an answer. Then, just as her mother expected, he turned her head sharply with a 'humph.' "Who knows," she said with a bit of frustration in her voice, "it was his choice to pick her up and take her back to the village with us, but I bet he just sees her as another head to bop." Of course, it was widely known that Kagome didn't approve of Inuyasha's 'teaching' methods. She associated a whack to the head as child abuse, never mind that demon children healed faster than humans and didn't feel pain as deeply.
Asami decided to just wait and see what the half demon had to say, or not say. "Alright dear," she said with a scant bit of empathy and then changed the subject, "would you like to help me with dinner?"
She hadn't expected the young girl to jump at the opportunity, but she did hope that her daughter would have shown some maturity. Instead Kagome stood and ran her slim fingers through her hair, "Eh, Mama I have to go take a bath. I'm all covered in dirt and demon grime. Not to mention they don't even have shampoo in the Feudal Era." Without another word Kagome rushed up the stairs and into the bathroom, leaving her family at the table.
"Do you know what I think," the old man spoke up. Asami pretended to listen avidly as she went about preparing dinner, ignoring her father-in-laws rant about demons. She just hoped he got it out of his system in the next two or three days or she would have to give him another stern talking-to about insulting their guests.
"Mama," Souta interrupted a few moments later.
"Yes Souta?" Asami inquired as she turned to look at him with a calm expression.
"You would think with all of the fighting and taking care of her friends and stuff, Kagome would be more adult-like. Like you, and help out a bit," the child had a point, one that she'd been contemplating for a while.
"Maybe she's just tired. After all, she is helping to find the Jewel Shards so that our time doesn't fall into darkness," Asami reasoned to him patiently.
"You're right," her son said and sighed heavily. Kagome's absences did more than hinder her school work, and Asami could tell that her younger brother missed her company dearly. "I'll still help you though," he perked up a moment later and approached the counter.
Asami offered her youngest child a warm smile and set him to sifting the rice. As she watched Souta concentrate on his one menial task her mind began to wonder again, creating images of one child that she'd only seen in pictures and another that she'd only heard of. She may not have known Inuyasha very well, but from what she had seen she knew that his children would turn out strong and caring. Maybe she should purchase another set of crayons for Shippo and the little girl, Souten before Kagome went back.
Myouga was relieved to see that he'd finally found the demon he was looking for. Totosai was becoming more and more elusive as time went by, most likely hiding from both Sesshomaru and Inuyasha. It seemed that both brothers had taken a new liking; tormenting the old demon for information about their father's fangs.
The flea demon really couldn't blame him for running though, because he did the same in an attempt to keep himself alive and well. Neither of the brothers were really aware, but they grinded an old demons nerves like no one else in all of Nippon.
"Totosai," Myouga called out called out, jumping as fast as he could to catch up with the three-eyed cow and its owner. "Totosai," that time Myouga's voice caught the old buzzard's attention.
The three-eyed cow stopped and Totosai turned around, his spine cracking in distress. "Ah, Myouga," the sword smith greeted, "I fear you bring news of those two brats. So, what is it they've done now?"
"Inuyasha," Myouga started to say, but his breath was short and he took several more moments to sooth the fluttering of his lungs. In the time it took for him the bovine had begun to walk again, and by the looks of it they were headed to the north-west. "So you have heard already, that Lord Inuyasha has taken in the last of the Thunder Demon Tribe?"
"No," Totosai replied calmly, his bugged eyes still staring straight ahead of them. "I had intended to pay a visit to the youngest son with news that I have in regards to his Beads of Subjugation. It's good to know that his demon nature is still intact though, otherwise he would likely have left the child to his fate of an early death."
"Her," Myouga corrected. "I have heard from my sources that Lord Inuyasha's new ward is female, not even a hundred years old."
"I don't suppose after all of these years you would finally tell me who those sources of yours are?" Totosai inquired almost immediately. It had been bothering him for more than a few hundred years, how the flea demon seemed to know almost everything at the drop of a hat, but he'd claim only that his information came from super secret sources. Even Inutaisho had his fair share of curiosity whenever his retainer would pop out of the earth with ground breaking news. When Myouga didn't answer Totosai took the hint and dropped the subject, choosing another question, "a young girl you say? The last of a tribe to boot." His voice held a healthy dose of astonishment, "has anyone warned him that he'll likely have to beat the demons off of her with something more powerful than the Tetsusaiga when she comes of age?"
"Of course not," Myouga said crossly, "those closest to him have yet to think that far ahead, and I certainly won't die over a simple matter of mating."
The two old men rode in comfortable silence for a few miles before Myouga spoke again, "you mentioned finding information about the kotodama m'lord wears?"
"Yes," Totosai said in short. Only when Myouga cleared his throat loudly did he continue, "You recall there was a purge not long after Inutaisho defeated the lord from the south. I worked very hard to ensure that those beads were destroyed; crushing and burning them until there was nothing left but a lump of coal."
"Of course," the flea demon replied, "the lord refused to even return home until the threat had been removed, but we always knew there was a possibility that those collars had fallen into the hands of petty slave traders."
"Yes, I also remember such a worry," the other conceded, "I also recall that our Lord had taken his son with him to destroy their creator; the daughter of a corrupt priestess and an ogre. It has occurred to me that perhaps she is not as dead as she was thought to be, and created the very beads around Inuyasha's neck for another priestess."
Myouga took a moment to collect his thoughts, "that would make sense," he agreed. "It would also explain how they came to be in the hands of Lady Kaede, but who could have commissioned such a thing?"
"I have come to believe that maybe it was the Priestess before, the one that young Inuyasha pursued," the sword smith said gravely, and bowing his head.
"Poor Lord Inuyasha," Myouga said in a similar tone, "and of course you will be the one to tell him all of this."
"No," the other demon said almost immediately, "why do you think I went through all of the trouble to explain it to you. I most certainly don't want to be the one to loose their head, so you can tell him."
"Oh no," the flea demon stood from the place he'd been resting and picked up his tiny pack. "I feel that you would be the best candidate to tell Lord Inuyasha," and with those last words the flea jumped from the bovines back and into the grass bellow.
"Well," Totosai said, now to himself and his tree-eyed cow, "maybe he won't kill me." In the face of danger he could either be optimistic or give up, and though his words spoke of the former he leaned forward to turn his steed in another direction. It would be safer to tell Lord Sesshomaru first, so that he could explain such things to his younger half-brother, and then Totosai planned to disappear.
It had only been a day when Inuyasha woke to feel the tickle at the edge of his thoughts. It was just a matter of time until his mind started to drift, leaving him open to attacks and much taunting at the hands of his comrades. He had an inkling that they knew his 'day dreaming' wasn't what it seemed, that it was a side effect of being too far away from Kagome, but their light teasing helped bring up the mood.
Regardless of those trivial things, Inuyasha shook his head and thought of the pups. Souten had proved the day before that she knew almost nothing of hunting. The extent of her knowledge was actually 'eat what you kill,' with no cognition of how to deal a killing blow to an animal or how to clean up afterwards.
Inuyasha never remembered it being so hard to catch a single buck, but his wards proved him wrong as they chattered behind him with no mind to how much noise they were really making. He corrected them casually when he could, and as time went by fewer twigs snapped and less childish conversation was heard. Eventually he did manage to catch their dinner, and that led a lesson on skinning and cleaning.
The majority of the meat went to the younger demons, and Inuyasha had sacrificed a great deal of his share because his human blood allowed him to draw nutrients where a demon couldn't. He also knew he would get at least a snack when he went to visit Higurashi, but planned to bring the children back a bit of chocolate if they behaved for his human friends.
The half demon had thought that catching a naturally skittish animal while being followed by the two little noise makers was hard, but clean up was far more difficult. Neither brat wanted to get into the water, even after Inuyasha had explained that they couldn't enter the village covered in animal blood or sleep with the others smelling like they did. He wasn't used to Shippo's reluctance, because the kit had always been eager to jump into the water to play. Inuyasha suspected that his new found stubbornness was adapted from Souten's own distasteful looks towards the water. When enough was enough though, Inuyasha picked them both up by the scruffs of their necks and hurled them into the water. Afterwards he couldn't seem to get them to leave.
Once the smell of deer blood had left them Inuyasha called for their clothes, which the children had tossed in his direction with a little too much enthusiasm, and built a fire for them to dry over. As soon as their clothing was dried and the little bit of armor was checked for rust, Inuyasha had called for the children, it was time for them to head back to Kaede's to sleep. He didn't like to let Shippo sleep out in the open if he could help it, but after difficult days when the kit was over-tired he would refuse to leave Inuyasha's side. He felt that Souten should also have a roof over her head, so long as he could provide one.
The children had denied him when he called, so he'd shouted again. After a few minutes of argument the half demon had finally threatened them with a spanking if he had to go into the water after them, and that seemed to do the trick. The little brats had grown too tired either way, and after Inuyasha dressed them in their warm clothing he'd carried them back to Kaede's for sleep.
Reluctantly he'd laid down next to the children, cradling Tetsusaiga underneath his side and the hilt to rest under his head. The human's watched quietly and from a distance as Shippo moved first to nestle his head close to Inuyasha's stomach. Souten moved not too long after and rested her own curls against his chest, and her servant imitated them not long after that.
Inuyasha recalled all of the night before as he struggled to greet the world past the haze in his mind, and shortly after that did he realize something was amiss. Apparently Miroku (because it was usually the monk that instigated such things, and Sango who was coerced into following) had thought it funny to sleep against his back, the monks own head rested on the half demon's rib cage. Sango had taken a place a little further away in an attempt to escape the monks wondering hands, but Kirara made up the space between them.
Kaede sat clear across the room, sipping tea while watching the mixed puppy-pile with open amusement.
Inuyasha was embarrassed and considered flogging the monk with his own weapon, but thought better of it as Souten fidgeted and mumbled incoherent things before her breathing pattern evened out again. It wasn't as if he really minded either. After all, the pits he dug to stay cool in the summer weren't exactly big and they would all weasel their way next to him without so much as a how-do-you-do. There was just something about being stared at as he slept that bothered him, but he figured he could forgive Kaede just that once.
It also bothered him that he couldn't move an inch without disturbing someone in the pile, and he urgently had to relieve the pressure on his bladder. So he huffed and turned his head for a second time to gaze at the humans that encased his back and then down at his pups and the little red dragon before he looked back at the old woman.
"It is getting late in the morning," she answered the unasked question, "and I would like to take yer children to help gather herbs for the day. This old back will hardly bend anymore."
"It's fine with me," Inuyasha replied, "I gotta go visit Higurashi anyway." What he didn't say was that he would also need to find a way to be close to Kagome, only for a moment so that his mind would become clear again. Kaede understood all of that though, because he'd managed to get that message across before without actually disturbing the beads.
Without any prompting Miroku sat up from behind him, having been awoken by Inuyasha's voice. "Is it morning already?" he asked innocently enough, though Inuyasha knew better. In turn his own voice woke Sango and she sat up as well, wiping the sleep out of her eyes.
Once they had moved Inuyasha could roll back and sit up without disturbing the pups too much, but the lack of warmth was noticeable prompting Shippo, Souten, and Koryu to curl against each other. Kirara had awoken around the same time as Miroku and Sango, but she walked over to the children to snuggle against Shippo's back in the same manner as Koryu did to Souten.
They looked so cute to everyone watching, but it could only last so long. Inuyasha would need to wake them up before he left so they could avoid the drama that would ensue if the pups woke up to find him gone. So Inuyasha pealed Kirara way first, handing her to Sango as she mewed in annoyance at the offender. Then he grabbed Shippo by the base of his fluffy tale and held him steady as he pulled Souten away from her servant by the back of her armor. He arranged them against his chest carefully before he spoke, "Hey brats," he said in his normal gruff tone.
Shippo stirred first, better recognizing the owner of the voice. His green eyes popped opened once he registered that there would probably be a whack to the head if he didn't wake up on his own. Instantly after his eyes opened his body was alert and he was ready for the rest of the day, it would only be a matter of minutes before he started speaking and he wouldn't stop for some time afterward.
"Wake up," Inuyasha said again, this time directing his voice at his little girl.
Souten only opened one eye to stare at him with, keeping the other once closed until she could rub it with the back of her hand. "Uh?" she grunted in confusion. She knew who Inuyasha was, could feel that he was her guardian and protector, and was relieved that she didn't have to wake up in a broken down house. None of those positive thoughts added up to her being a morning person though. Not even the mocking look she received as Inuyasha recognized her reluctance to enter the waking world could quell her annoyance.
"I'm going down the well, but I should be back before the sun is at its highest," Inuyasha explained patiently. Shippo was already used to the visits made to the future, so further explanation was mostly for Souten's benefit.
"He must see Lady Kagome," Miroku explained, "so the Beads of Subjugation do not act too harshly to her prolonged absence. Also, please remind Higurashi that Kagome has run low on bandages." The last statement was of course, directed at the young demon.
"Whatever," Inuyasha said calmly, but they knew he would. Kagome's modern day medicines and bandages were too handy to not use in abundance.
Inuyasha sat both children down on the wooden floor and stood before he spoke to them again, "Granny needs you two to help her pick weeds today, too. She's old and ain't as limber as she used to be, so don't give her a hard time. If she says you brats were good I'll bring you something back, got it?"
Shippo agreed whole heartedly, knowing their prize would be worth the effort. Souten followed quickly, her index finger was once again resting on her lower lip as she looked at him with excited red eyes. Inuyasha knew she didn't like the idea of being in the company of humans for any measure of time, so it would to Shippo to make sure she stayed in line.
"You keep an eye on the brats," Inuyasha said next, addressing Koryu tried to salute him with his small arms.
"We will behave as well," Miroku added in mock excitement. Just as he'd spoken his left hand had wondered a little too far to the side and grabbed a handful of Sango's backside. The half demon was gone even before the usual smack of demon bone against human skull could be heard through the village.
It took almost no time for Inuyasha to go through is morning rituals. First he marked the territory, choosing a tree that was a safe distance from prying eyes before he untied his hakama. Then he washed his hands and face in a cool stream and drank a healthy amount of water. One quick run around the village ensured that there were no threats to his pups, friends, or those other humans that happened to be around. After he had finished all of that did he gather all of his remaining wits and leap into the well.
Sesshomaru kept his nose in the wind for several moments, wondering what to make of the creature before him. It was obviously a man without a stitch of clothing to call his own, and as soon as he'd realized that he had ordered Jaken to continue on the way to the Village of Edo and to take Rin with him. He had no desire to explain to the little human girl why that man had a piece of anatomy that she clearly did not possess. Only after he'd sent her away did he concentrate on the fact that the nude man also had no face and smelled of Naraku.
"Who are you?" Sesshomaru asked while watching with a cold glare as the faceless man ambled towards him.
"I do not recall," the man said, "what a wonderful face," it continued on. "I should like to have a face like that," and with those words the being launched itself at Sesshomaru.
The Demon Lord hadn't been expecting a sudden attack, but defended himself admirably and found he was a hundred times more grateful that he'd sent his child and servant ahead. "You cannot have this face," Sesshomaru said evenly while drawing his sword, "now answer me; what is your name?"
"I do not recall," the faceless man said and for a second time he lunged at Sesshomaru with his hands held out as if he could only latch onto the Dog Demon's face and peel it right off.
The continuous lack of answers and the mystery of why the man without a face smelled so much like his enemy only added to his frustration, and Sesshomaru recoiled from the Faceless Man's hands before replying with an attack of his own.
With a graceful side step and a downward thrust of his only remaining arm, Sesshomaru separated the Faceless Man from one of his own limbs. Any human would have bled out in minutes, a lesser demon would have done the same, but the Naraku-scented pile of wasted flesh didn't shed a single drop of blood. The creature didn't even cry out in pain, only tilted its head to the side in a bit of confusion before an all-too recognizable swarm of insects made their way towards the pair.
Sesshomaru's gaze hardened even more, and the fun had been drained from the battle as he watched a new arm being forged from Naraku's insects.
There were some moments Sesshomaru longed for the days when shedding blood and taking lives had been easy. He had been bored at the time, that was true, but he didn't have to worry about anyone other than himself. There had also been few occaions when Sesshomaru would have been willing to retreat in the face (or lack of one) of a foe that didn't seem to have a weakness. Those were also the days when he didn't have much to fight for, and Sesshomaru knew that if Naraku or any of his castoffs were allowed to live then Rin could die. Again, and he wouldn't be there to bring her back to life.
The Demon Lord was caught off guard for a moment as his mind turned think of his half-brother and two pups, one of them still remained faceless in his mind, and it was possible that they could also die before their time. All it would take was once deadly blow, much like the one he'd just managed to doge, which could ruin what remaining sense of family Sesshomaru had left.
Sesshomaru dodged again, the tree-like limbs of the Faceless Man cleaved the flesh on his cheek and his blood spilled onto his mokomoko. Didn't the stupid creature know how hard it would be to get his blood out of the white fluff, he seethed as he lunged again, digging his sword into the chest of Naraku's incarnation.
Apparently the man didn't know, as he aimed another blow to Sesshomaru's arm-less side; clearing flesh, bone, and muscle to make a gaping hole in his shoulder.
"That is enough," Sesshomaru growled. His pupils dilated, his jaw widened, and before the Faceless Man could react he could found between the pearly fangs of Sesshomaru in true form and then spat out again.
The giant white dog turned his back with the intent of draining the rest of his energy if that just meant he could reach Rin or Inuyasha's Forrest. He hadn't expected the swarm of Naraku's insects that blotted out the sun and funneled into the pile of meat he'd made out of the Faceless Man. Likewise, he hadn't expected tree-like limbs to shoot towards him and pierce the underside of his belly.
To Those Who Just Read:
I don't know what to say…Three A.M. is a horrible time to write. Chapter will be reread and reposted after I take a short (eight hour) nap.
I was thinking I also suck at writing battles. This fic will provide me with ample opportunity to fix that.
Reviews, I like them so much.
Until next time,