Hey, readers. Writing is damn hard. I suck and am lame. Anyway, here's a really long chapter. (p.s. This chapter contains sexual content—reader discretion advised.)
Also, I don't own Inuyasha. You knew that.
Miko - priestess. Reiki - holy aura/energy. Hanyou - half-demon. Inu - dog. Ookami - wolf. Neko - cat. Ryu - dragon. Kitsune - fox. Youkai - demon. Youki - demon aura/energy. Daiyoukai - great demon. Moko moko - Sesshomaru's fluffy fluffy tail. Kappa - toad. Dokkaso - Sesshomaru's poison. Hime - princess. Kami - gods. Oni - ogre/troll demons. Baka - idiot. Hentai - pervert. Hai - yes. Yatta - I did it!/Hooray. Houshi - Buddhist priest. Taijiya - slayer, exterminator. Tanuki - raccoon dog. Tengu - bird demons. Namazu - catfish demons. Kaiju - strange beasts.
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Chapter 27: Scandal at the Academy!
"Reporter Catriona MacFarlane here live from outside the Academy of the Order in old downtown. We're in day two of 'Aurapocalypse!' and the monstrous energy emanating from the historical Dog Suite shows no signs of letting up. As you can see behind me, the abnormal aura activity is causing wild behavior in some residents and visitors to the old downtown area. Adulators are gathered on the sidewalks, some are spilling into the streets with no regard to traffic. People are throwing confetti and waving streamers. Local bands have even turned out to play for these crowds and ravers are throwing chalk dust on the vehicles driving down Campus Row."
"Protesters have also gathered outside the walls of the Academy. Though interviews have revealed multiple reasons for the protest, signs have been seen with such controversial slogans as, 'Auras Against Humanity,' 'Down with Dogs,' and 'Emotes Go Home.' Humanity First and the Society for Secure Lands have both made organized pushes against this aura event and the celebration of it. Tensions are running high between protestors and adulators. A mass fist fight occurred just hours ago between the two factions. No serious injuries have been reported. There were forty-two arrests in relation to this incident."
"There have been reports of hospitalizations due to heat stroke and dehydration as the high temperature and high emotions take their toll. Emergency medical technicians are on standby. Officers of the Whitestone Perch Central Police Department are working hard to contain the crowds and keep a steady flow of traffic through the area, but citizens are advised to avoid old downtown."
"While this is going on outside of the Academy, the Order has placed an armed guard on the walls of the compound and warriors are patrolling the campus. Classes are still cancelled for both students and the public and the compound is completely locked down. Twenty-seven civilians have already been apprehended while trespassing on the campus and they were handed over to the WPCPD. This number includes the three minors who were reported missing from Ahean Public Middle School yesterday and were found early this morning on campus. No word yet on whether the Order will be filing charges based on these arrests. Police Chief O'Hara has made a statement recently suggesting the city is nearing a point of riot. No reports of looting or vandalism as of this moment."
"This reporter would like to remind viewers that GTWX News has received confirmation that there are indeed two distinct category one monstrous auras emanating from inside the Academy of the Order. No word yet on whether the Order has made contact with Fuko the Inu Youkai since this drastic rise in aura activity began. Citizens sensitive to auras report feeling distressed and fearful but interviews with those among the adulators here in old downtown reveal they are drawn to the Academy by sensations of heat and pleasure. We can only speculate as to what this means for our fair city, but station experts claim that the aura fluctuations from the Dog Suite are equivalent in power to the Thrasher Kraken disaster of fifty-three."
"Academy Headmaster Aiden Ambrus of the Order is scheduled to hold a press conference on the steps of City Centre Court House at ten this morning. Stay tuned to GTWX, Glinishmore's leading news station, to hear a minute-by-minute report as 'Aurapocalypse!' continues. Casey, back to you in the studio."
The scene on the street below was like a vernal equinox carnival. Loud. Garish. A bit risqué. Youths of all ages pranced in the road, naked limbs tanning in the open air, hair wild and undone, eyes beaming with frenetic energy. Some danced before the musicians that had gathered. Others danced alone on the sidewalk accompanied by no music that he could hear. Others still ran and leapt, their laughter straining high, sounding more like the screaming of a plains cat than human noises fueled by mirth.
Some were inexplicably bare foot, most had flowers woven into their hair, and Renar could not fathom where any of them had come from. He would suspect drugs if he didn't know any better, but even he could feel the effects of the pulsing demonic energy coming from the Academy. An undisciplined part of him wanted to join the revelry below.
And then there were the picketers. As if the crowds of tipsy dancers weren't enough to put his tight-knit community of warriors on edge, they also had a band of malcontents lining the far side of the street. When the wind blew just right, not even the raucous music or the cries of pleasure were enough to drown out the protesters' hateful chanting.
The C-rank warrior received a hearty clap on the back before he was even aware of anyone standing behind him—which just went to show how much he needed to be relieved from his guard duty. Thankfully, that was just what the other warrior had come to do.
"You're dead on your feet, pal. Go get some sleep. I'll watch the crazies for you," the other warrior said.
Renar nodded and thanked him before he turned to climb down from the wall. It had been a long shift that had started as the sun was setting. Now the pale lights of dawn were starting to filter though the tall buildings of the city. He would have liked to have been in bed before seeing this, but he didn't not regret his profession and he would never shirk his duty.
After coming down off the wall, he and several other warriors walked though quiet corridors, acknowledging each other only in tired glances and nods. Renar split off from the larger group, heading south down the long corridor that lead to his dorm. His footsteps were the only ones echoing on the stone tile. If he were not drained from a night of constant vigilance, he would not have been caught unawares by the one who followed him silently.
He was shoved hard from behind into an alcove between the pillars that lined the hall. His hands came up and slammed against the wall with enough force to sting—had he not caught himself, he'd likely have a broken nose. He whirled to face his attacker, knowing already who it was.
Byme. The C-rank warrior had been harassing him since that first incident outside Sensei-sama's chambers. He had followed him between duties, cornered him outside the dorms, and had once even interrogated him through the stall wall while Renar took a crap in a restroom cubicle. Byme had been relentless, but Renar had always had an avenue retreat before. Not this time, not while he was too tired to fight him off.
"Don't you think it's about time you told me what's going on?" Byme asked. The words were casual. The threat was in the context.
Renar straightened. The difference in height between the two men meant that Byme was still towering over him. "For gods' sake, man. Just leave me be. Aren't there more important things to worry about right now?"
"Fuck that." Byme grabbed Renar by the collar, yanking him off the wall he had pushed him against. The casual demeanor was gone. "Do you think I'm stupid? What you're hiding is the direct result of this mess and if you try to tell me otherwise, I'll—"
"You'll what?" came the soft injury from behind him. "Will you assault your fellow warrior just to satisfy your curiosity, Byme McIver?"
Byme turned and Renar shrugged off his hands as he also looked to see who had interrupted. The answer was better than he expected and worse than he had hoped. It was Nolan Brady, the very soldier who had raised his gun against their sensei's new demon companion after watching his closest friend get maimed.
At the sight of him, Byme took a step back from his quarry. Nolan was considered by his peers to be a rising star. Though he was a lowly C-rank now, he was young and all signs pointed to his reaching to at least rank A. Many believed he would become one of the elite. One had to think twice before giving offense to someone like him and Byme thought twice.
He glanced from Nolan to Renar, curled his lip in a barely suppressed sneer, and then walked away without another word. His boot heels thumped loudly down the hall with his retreat.
Renar and Nolan watched him go, neither taking his eyes off the persistent soldier until he left their line of sight. Then Renar let out a sigh and turned to his rescuer. "Nolan. Thank you. I…"
Nolan regarded him with a look of such anger that his words trailed away into nothing. "Do not thank me," the young soldier said, his tone low and empathic. "That thing cut off Ian's hand. His focus hand. His career is ruined. Now it's up there causing mayhem. If I weren't carrying this badge, I would have told Byme and everyone else in the world what we brought into the city. It's a menace. Sensei-sama was wrong to bring it here."
Renar was stunned by the other man's ferocity and could only shake his head in disbelief. "Hey, hey. Ian was hurt, but he's not ruined—"
Nolan turned away, cutting him off, "Save it. I could not care less about the excuses everyone gives! Ian's power won't come back the same. He'll never be the fighter he was." The warrior clenched his fist so tightly that his knuckles went bone white. "That… That thing severed a limb with its bare hand and kept moving without even a hitch in its stride. It didn't glance back when Ian screamed. Why would it? It had crushed a bug. Stepped on a blade of grass." His right hand, his focus hand, began to shake, but he quickly clutched it with his left to stop the tremors. After a moment of silent, he said, "It shouldn't be here. It doesn't belong here." Then Nolan strode off down the hall, back the way he had come.
Renar closed his eyes for a moment. He listened to Nolan footfalls until they faded away and then he left, too, continuing on toward his dorm room and his bed. The excitement had woken him up, but not in a good way. His nerves buzzed like a live wire and he could feel the exhaustion still lingering on the edges of his body. He would crash soon without rest.
But as he took the next turn in his route, he remembered that this was the direction into which Byme had disappeared. Was he now lying in wait somewhere ahead of him, ready to ambush him again? Probably, it was his style of attack: stalk and ambush. So, Renar did an about face and trotted off in another direction.
All he wanted was a bed, but any flat surface would do. Or perhaps not flat, but cushioned. He could find an arm chair in the library to curl into, or maybe a friend would let him sleep on the floor of their room. But then, most of his friends were girls. He could just imagine the looks he would receive if he tried to sneak into one of the girls' dorms, no matter what explanation he gave.
He was approaching a three-way crossroad when he heard light footsteps coming towards him from the right—it sounded like it might be two people, but it was hard to be certain. Renar did not want to take the chance that it was Byme. Stress made him paranoid, paranoia made him quick and precise. He drew his aura into himself, concealing his presence, and at the same time he darted off headed in a random direction away from his intended path.
Several turns and flights of stairs later he slowed and listened. He was in a deserted area of the Academy, some distance from public classroom areas. At this time of day, he should hear nothing and that was what he heard. Nothing.
Renar took a sharp turn down another corridor and listened hard without breathing. Still, there was a comforting nothing.
It was several seconds before he began to relax. And of course, when he relaxed and stopped listening for footsteps or some other sound of pursuit, he heard the voices. Thin and wispy words came from the grate in the wall near his heel. Curious, he knelt down and concentrated, not even thinking of the possible consequences of eavesdropping. He could just catch the edges of their words.
"But, do you think they're right?"
"Who? The anointed ones? Or that blowhard Crestfield and his yes-men?"
"I do not think Sensei-sama is in danger. The building would be demolished if she were engaged in a true battle."
Renar's eyes widened slightly and he glanced at the walls around him. Just how far had he run? Before panic could set in, he let just the barest hint of his aura loose and suddenly felt the thrashing weight of two demonic auras as they tangled. They were close, too close. Somehow, he had come very near the epicenter of the 'abnormal monster activity' that had sent the city into a tailspin. And this area was very restricted.
As he realized where he was, the voices he heard gained context. They must be two of the elite of the Academy, those exceedingly skilled disciples trusted with the highest order of operations in the organization. He was eavesdropping on elite warriors in a restricted area! And it sounded like they were talking about Fuko-sensei and her new companion.
He could not help but agree with the second speaker. It certainly felt like a battle was going on in the private apartment, but could that cold, inhuman being actually be hurting their great and powerful teacher? Despite having been face-to-face with Lord Sesshomaru and despite having come close to losing a limb like Ian, Renar honestly didn't think so. He had been in the transport that had smuggled the demon into the city. He had watched Fuko-sensei stroke his hair while he lay comatose. Tears had glittered in the demoness' eyes as she petted him and check his vitals every few minutes. She cared for her white-haired companion very much—it would have been obvious to anyone who saw them together. He must care for her, too. He must. Fuko-sensei wouldn't be tricked into liking someone who meant her harm.
But what the hell was happening in that apartment?
A loud sigh brought his attention back to the grate. "You are right, of course. But, Mackenna Curran's testimony was clear. Her subordinate lost a limb from merely trying to forestall this new demon. Sensei-sama does not have full control of him."
"What happened was unfortunate. That warrior has a long road of rehabilitation ahead of him, but he is not permanently disabled. He vowed to face injury and death with courage when he joined the Order. This was his fate from the start. That said, those civilian empaths shuffling about outside our walls are losing their wages and some of them their jobs because of the new demon. This aura is too intoxicating, it disrupts the whole city. For the good of all of us, we cannot allow this incident to go on much longer. Thankfully I heard Headmaster Ambrus has organized a party of masters. They will make a push toward the apartment after he has reassured the public."
"What!? You've been holding that back this whole time? Well, I say finally! Do you know who is assigned—"
The auras inside the apartment suddenly stilled.
There was a beat of silence between the two elites before one asked, "Gods, is it over?"
"I can still feel them, but—"
"They are sleeping."
"This is… unbelievable! After three days, they just fall asleep?"
"I must inform the headmaster. This will change their plan. Monitor them closely."
The voices faded away from the grate, and as they did, Renar heard near-silent footsteps heading toward him from the stairwell to his right. He got up to flee, but the elite warrior was too fast. Just as he turned, he heard a shout from behind him, "Halt! Who goes there!?
Renar flinched, let out a thin hiss, then turned to face him. At the shout, the other elite pelted up the stairs and confronted him as well. He hadn't been able to place their voices, but their faces immediately brought their names and ranks to mind. He threw himself into a low bow in an effort to save face. Elites Brian Mallory and Stephen Lenwiser, neither of them masters of an art but both well deserving of their status. If two such high-level warriors had been tasked with guarding the area, then the situation was of the utmost sensitivity and seriousness.
"What are you doing lurking in the shadows, C-rank?" Lenwiser demanded. "This area is restricted. Are you looking to get reprimanded?"
He didn't dare look up from his bow. "No, senpai."
"And yet a reprimand's the least of what you will receive. I—"
"Leave him, Lenwiser. You have business with the headmaster now. You!" Mallory glared at him. "You are Renar Arthfael, aren't you?"
"Get back to your dorm and stay there. Do not think that this infraction will be forgotten."
Lenwiser jogged off without a word and Mallory gave him another stern glare before going back to his post. This left Renar bowing alone in the hall. He stayed perfectly still for a moment, still suppressing his breathing and aura, his heart thundering. Then he relaxed his ki and felt Fuko and the one she called Sesshomaru. Their demonic energy was sluggish and peaceful. They were sleeping. But, what the hell had gone on in that apartment?
That wasn't a question he'd get an answer to tonight. The young warrior turned and darted away toward his dorm.
Sesshomaru strode down the short hall leading to the entertainment room, passed the floor-to-ceiling wall-to-wall window without a glance, and then went into the hall leading to the main entrance. He reveled in how easily his power rose to meet his call. In the scant few seconds it took for him to reach the door, his aura had thickened around him like a triumphant mantle. He could feel the humans outside shuddering under the weight of his power. The knocking stopped. He came within an arms-length of the door and flared his power further. They scrambled back. Their sharp intakes of breath and the blossoming scent of their fear were somewhat gratifying.
But then, their energies flared in response to his power. The odd, as-of-yet-unexplained human auras pushed back in protest and the energy of the reiki-users sizzled as it came into contact with his, but the demon lord was unconcerned. His aura continued to weigh on them, dark and foreboding as he let several silent seconds pass.
The nearest human, presumably the one who had knocked and shouted previously, drew in a quick breath and approached the door again. Sesshomaru could only speculate whether it was courage or foolishness that prompted this.
He spoke in Japanese, "Hello. I am Aiden Ambrus, headmaster of this academy. I must ask—who am I speaking to?"
Sesshomaru's lips tilted in the slightest hint of a smirk. His power pulsed and eddied around him in an almost intoxicating display and the humans were forced further back. He spoke into their fearful silence, "Sesshomaru, Lord of the Western Lands and betrothed of the one you call Sensei-sama."
Stifled gasps came in answer to his announcement and a smattering of voices murmured to each other, some words coming in Japanese and some in that foreign tongue. Several humans repeated the word "betrothed" in incredulous tones. The smirk fell from Sesshomaru's face and his eyes narrowed. He was unaccustomed to having his words questioned by weaker beings.
The same male voice responded to him in cautious but respectful tones, "Lord Sesshomaru of the Western Lands, Sensei-sama has spoken of you. It is good to finally speak to you myself. I regret that we could not meet sooner."
"This one cares not for your niceties, human," Sesshomaru interrupted. "You disturb the peace of these rooms. This one's intended is indisposed and cannot answer your call. Leave and do not disturb us again."
Though his youki rose in tandem with his words, the humans beyond the door did not flee from his crushing power. Sesshomaru's jaw clenched as he felt the auras of the reiki-users surge forth to shield and bolster the other humans present.
The man spoke again, "I regret any disturbance we have caused, Lord Sesshomaru, but we cannot leave until we have spoken to Sensei-sama. We care for her deeply and are concerned for her well-being."
The demon lord loosed a growl so low that it was below the range of human hearing, but the fresh burst of their fearful scent proved that they sensed it all the same. "This one does not repeat himself. My intended will contact you in her own time. Be gone."
Inexplicably, they did not retreat. There were a few quiet words in that foreign language from one of them towards the forward of their party and then a female voice responded, coming from the rear. The mouthpiece nearest the door, the one who claimed to be a "headmaster," said something in response to this exchange.
And then the strange auras of the mortals rose, reiki and that other power which was undeniably human but not anything he had encountered before. The stone floors of the Academy resonated with the energy. The plaster began to flake and the timbers of the walls groaned under the stress. Together, the humans formed a vibrant barrier and where his energies touched it, he could taste their defiance and their willingness to battle. Amidst this tumult, the man spoke yet again, "We will not be gone and you do not have the right to demand that of us. You stand within the walls of our institution, an institution that holds loyalty to Sensei-sama at its very core. We must speak to her! We are concerned for her safety, but there are other urgent matters she must see to, matters she herself would insist on seeing to were she the one speaking to us now! Lord Sesshomaru, you only invite her ire by keeping us from—"
The didactic speech choked to a stop when Sesshomaru yanked open the heavy wooden door in front of him. The humans in the hall froze, their power falling away as they stared at his imposing figure in all its naked glory. He was painful perfection, pure paleness over a lithe, chiseled physique, his coloring contrasted by the exotic demon marks that kissed his skin at key intervals. His perfect face was as calm and smooth as a mountain lake, but his hair was an artfully tousled testament to savagery and passion—long and flowing, reaching far past his waist, the silken locks twisted and tumbled like ribbon. Precise as a machine and yet animalistic. Inhuman. Perfect. Not a one of the elites of the Order would ever forget this first look at the newest dog demon in the world.
Sesshomaru looked down his aristocratic nose at the collection of human warriors, unimpressed by their slack-jawed expressions of awe. He was just as unimpressed by their show of defiance.
In an instant, his hair lifted on demonic winds and his eyes filled with lurid scarlet. His power spiked to a level that was simply unendurable. Without wasting another word, he shattered their already-flagging barrier and protections and forced them back with youki alone, ignoring their shouts of pain and horror. The reiki-users tried, for a second they rallied and stood against him, but in the end, they could do nothing.
He did not kill them. Fuko would be displeased if he did. Instead, he pushed them back steadily until they were passed the threshold of the hallway beyond. Some of them retreated further, blood sweat seeping from their pores. A few attempted to weather his power, but they were only cast physically from their feet and flung from the hall.
Once the last of them was removed, Sesshomaru gave a pleased grunt and formed his own barrier around the suite. It extended passed the door to the apartment and in to the outer hallway. He built it up thick and strong and glaringly powerful. No one would dare approach. If they were foolish enough to do so, they would be badly burned.
Satisfied that he had had the final word, he shut the door with a resounding slam. Then he made his way back to the bedroom, strutting as he went. He found Fuko in the same position he had left her in, belly down, arms nestled under her and long legs spread slightly. Her face was half-buried in the tattered bedclothes. The scent of her and him and them and what they had done permeated the room. It flared the fire burning in his gut. She had somehow become more tempting during his brief absence and now there was no one to interrupt him.
He pounced, landing in a crouch over her, and then he took a moment to admire her luscious curves, her wild, untamed hair, and the enticing innocence of her sex-flushed skin. She looked the epitome of a newly ravished maiden. He threaded his fingers into her hair and grasped a fistful of the satin locks, his touch rough and his ownership certain. He called tauntingly, "Fuko…" But she did not stir. He tugged her hair lightly. "Fuko. Wake up."
She gave no reaction. He growled as his teasing mood darkened into something else. Something ravenous and obsessive. He wanted to devour her. It did not occur to him to let her rest. It did not occur to him that he should be sated already, that three days was more than enough to have gotten his fill—he was not thinking in terms of how he should or should not be acting or feeling. His focus was on the girl and her perpetual disobedience.
"Fuko..." The demon lord buried his nose in the crook of her neck, reveling in her fresh, heady scent. Then he opened his mouth against her and let her feel the edges of his teeth. The hand that was not fisted in her hair slid down her side and then between her legs. He toyed her for several minutes as she lay sleeping—threatening punishment and promising reward in equal measure—but aside from a pleasing blush that spread over her skin and the faint stirring of her aura, she did not respond. He shifted, moving down her body and trailing small bites along her spine. He just barely kept from drawing blood. She twitched and stretched her legs. Her sex wetted his palm. A slight growl issued from her throat. But she did not wake up.
Sesshomaru drew back. He wanted to be inside of her. Her innards would feel like molten silk coiling and rippling around his cock. He could remember exactly how she felt and yet somehow it was not exact enough. He needed to feel her around him again to be sure that every detail was as he remembered. The bliss of her center clasping him, the soft skin of her back against his chest, the plush cushion of her buttocks on his crouch, the tight muscle of her calves against his legs—he craved all of that and more. She had swirled and swiveled her hips for him last night. She had panted and whimpered his name last night. She had arched into him as if she needed to feel him with every inch of her skin.
She could do none of those things while she was asleep.
A low growl built in his throat until it shook his chest. His thoughts all seemed afire, it would be mere moments before his mind burn away into a wisp of smoke. He wanted her awake and worshiping him with her body. And she was ignoring him. She could not treat him like this. She could not keep herself from him like this. Intractable girl. This was intolerable. Unacceptable.
So, he released her. He forced his body away from hers, sprang to his feet, and then left the room with a purposeful, stiff-legged gait.
Fuko stirred from her deep, dreamless slumber. She thought at first that she had sleep paralysis and was hallucinating again. Her limbs were heavy and her skin was intensely warm. Her butt felt like it was being gripped and squeezed. Her lips were being kissed? Her mouth opened on its own and the taste that swept over her tongue was… water but not.
She shivered as vivid memory washed over her. There had been a desperate, days-long battle for control of her body, his body, and how their bodies moved together. She remembered the taste of him, of all of him, and she remembered the feel of his hands on her skin and her hands on his skin. She remembered the awesome pleasure that had destroyed her. She remembered how he had begged, pleading with her in an insensible jumbled of growls and gasps as he moved over her. And he had made her beg and sob like a crazy person as she moved against him. He had taken her repeatedly and she had given herself to him until he was consumed.
They had done so many perverse things to each other, things she never would have allowed, things she shouldn't have even known how to do. It was too much, too fast! These memories bordered on the unreal. She didn't let any one touch her like that. She didn't have sex. She wouldn't let someone so close. It couldn't have been her. It must have been an insane dream or some titillating nightmare.
The kissing stopped. Her memories started to recede. Oh. A dream. Yea. She was tired and this was all a strange dream.
Fuko teetered on the edge of sleep again, but suddenly she was submerged in water. The instant she started to breathe it in, she jerked upright, flailing. Her feet couldn't find any ground to stand on. Even with her body entering 'emergency swim" mode, she struggled to wake fully. Strong arms, as sturdy as steel bands, held her up while her limbs splashed in the water. She coughed and sputtered. She opened her eyes and he was there, clutching her in the steaming bath of her apartment.
"Wh-what? 'Shomaru...?" Her vision was unfocused and her mind was still fogged with sleep, but she knew it was him. He grunted softly in answer and then lifted a hand to wipe water from her eyes. As soon as he saw she had some clarity, he cursed her and bent to capture her mouth with his. She moaned, growled, and purred all at once. The sound vibrated into his throat and he growled back. Her insides fluttered. Was this a feedback loop or was it muscle memory?
Oh no. Oh dear. It hadn't been a dream. They had done all those perverted things for real. She knew it not because she remembered clearly at the moment, but because she ached to do it all again.
He stood up with her, letting her legs swing down as he moved. Then he lifted her hips clear of the water line, hitched one of her legs around his waist, and thrust into her.
They both exploded with groans as they were joined again. In one instant, Fuko became very awake. In the next instant, she was all over him, threading her fingers into his hair, yanking, winding her long legs around his hips, forcing his head back. She kissed him deeply and thoroughly. Her aggression made him stumble in the water, but then he lurched forward and perched her on the edge of the tiled basin.
He got the upper hand as he laid her back against the floor, but when he tried to pin her wrists, she revolted. His rocking rhythm was challenged and complicated by her writhing. They were a flurry of limbs as his hips moved, firmly working himself in and out of her. In the struggle, he managed to catch her hands and twine their fingers together while he held them down. She started nipping his chin, neck, and chest, growling as she punished any part of him she could reach in retaliation. His eyes were closed or else she would have glimpsed them rolling upward in ecstasy.
While this lustful scene played out in the bath room, there was movement in the apartment beyond. Neither demon noticed faint sounds coming from the down hall outside the bathroom door. A mechanical click, an electric whirr, and the softest pat pat pat of small pseudo feet on the carpet. It came closer and closer, but still the two dogs failed to take heed.
A small form, low to the ground, leaned around the door frame and entered their line of sight, if they only would have looked. The dome of glass that was its eye glinted as it spied on the two demons. They were well and truly distracted, but this creature went unnoticed mostly because of its lack of aura and biological scent. This was an autonomous surveillance device of recent invention. It was called a spyder by hobbyists and law enforcement alike for good reason. Its limbs were many and lined with metal. Its two arms terminated in filament attachments which allowed for fine motor manipulation. Its central omni lens offered a three-hundred-and-sixty-degree view of the space around it. It was about the size of a dinner plate but could slip into small cracks or holes, anything that its dome could fit into, and this it had done in order to enter the apartment suite though the broken window while Sesshomaru had been distracted by the team of humans at the door.
The spyder lingered in the threshold for a long moment, and then slowly, almost reluctantly retreated. The click-whir of its footsteps went unheard as tension built between the two demons and their auras began to stretch and thread into each other.
A savage howl forced its way out of Fuko's throat as her entire body seized. Her claws dug into his back. Her legs wound tight around his buttocks, so tight that he could not withdraw from her. Even so, Sesshomaru was too far gone to stop the movements of his hips. He ground himself even deeper into her as she spasmed around him again and again.
After a few moments, she fell back on the tile, limp and gasping for air. His low continuous growl deepened as he straightened over her, clutched her hips, and then lifted her into him. She could only twitch and whimper as he thrust into her thrice more before sinking in to the hilt and holding himself there, at the extreme. She felt hard pulsing and a spreading warmth, a sensation now familiar from repeated experience. It felt so good, too good. She felt like she was melting, like she would just become a puddle of breathless goo. She never wanted to stop. It was a wonder that she wasn't filled with pups right now, even if she wasn't in heat at the moment. With all he had spilled inside her and considering how deeply he liked to plant himself—
The lewdness of her own thoughts startled Fuko and her skin warmed with embarrassment. He was turning her into a pervert.
She started sit up, trying to think of something to say to him, but before she could he tugged himself from her depths. She could barely formulate a protest or complaint as Sesshomaru grabbed her legs behind the knees and shifted them both to the side. She was rolled belly down on the cool tile in one fast, efficient motion. She looked over her shoulder at him then, incredulous. His gaze was focused on her privates and her skin flashed hot with the realization that all the evidence of their time together could be seen on her skin.
She tried to rise up on her elbows but his heavy hand found the nape of her neck and pinned her in place. His gaze snapped to hers, "Submit."
The challenge in his voice fired her blood again in a delicious way. She opened her mouth to say "Make me," but he drew the fingers of his free hand through the downy fur covering her mons. Her teeth snapped together in a growly purr and her eyes squeezed closed. She couldn't help it.
He laughed. It was a dark sound of delight. If a ruthless smirk could be a laugh, then that was this. He thought he had her right where he wanted her. Maybe he did, but so did she.
Fuko was bent over the edge of the basin, but she was far from helpless. She kicked out into the water until her feet found perches on the bottom and then she pushed up onto the balls of her feet, bowing her back so that her bottom and thighs were prominently displayed. His gaze slid down to what she offered him and fixed there. He didn't see her grin. She wiggled her hips and his restraining hand slid off the nape of her neck. His pleasuring hand slid from between her legs. He grasped her waist and she bit her lip as he pulled her back toward him. The tip of his cock touched her center, but she shifted, squirming at the last second. He brought them together again. She shifted. She continued to thwart him like that again and again, swaying and wiggling each time he tried to align their bodies.
It took a several misses and her mischievous giggle to make him realize he was being played—and then he lost all semblance of control. He fell upon her like an animal, teeth bared, claws pricking rosy skin. He held her still with the weight of his chest on her back. He used his hands to guide them together, and then his hands were on her hips and he yanked her onto him with a snarl.
The pleasure was so sharp it made her cry out. She reached back, caught a fistful of his hair, and then pulled until his chin was just over her shoulder. "Submit," she growled in his ear. His snarling became oddly choked as he continued rocking into her. In a few moments, his rough movements would pound them both into another splendid orgasm.
Above them, the Ichorite tablet that lay on the desk in her study began to chirp plaintively. A picture of a human appeared on the screen, one they both had seen but only Fuko would be able to identify as Headmaster Ambrus. Neither demon was of a mind to answer this com-call. Consumed in each other as they were, they did not notice the chirping go on and on above them and then they did not notice it stop mid trill.
Sesshomaru collapsed over her back. Fuko's head fell forward on her crossed arms. After a few moments of blissful mindlessness, she began to rock from side to side, trying to unseat him. "'Shomaru," she mumbled. "You're heavy."
He stirred and nipped the back of her shoulder, earning a squeak of protest. He snorted in response and then lazily rolled off. His softening cock slipped out of her with the motion.
She whimpered at the odd empty sensation he left behind and then surreptitiously glanced over at him. He lay on his back with his eyes closed, his usual paleness replaced by prettily flushed skin. The pulse visible in the vein of his throat was quick. His breathing was deep and slow, as if he was trying to quiet his heart. His hair was a beautiful mess, so different from its usual unruffled state. It pooled beneath him in waves and his long dark lashes lightly brushed his cheeks.
She bit her lip and looked away. Sometimes the sight of him made her ache. He was way too beautiful. It wasn't fair! But, of course someone like him would look like that after a night of debauchery. She should have expected this.
Fuko pushed herself up and then stood, forcing her limbs to move though they felt heavy and uncooperative. She rubbed her face, trying to brush away the locks of hair that clung to her skin, but the loose curls kept coming back. Frustrated, she scooped up some bath water to wash the sweat away.
Behind her, she sensed Sesshomaru sit up. She froze. He wanted to go again, she realized. She could tell by the way his aura caressed hers. Even after all of that, he wanted her again. And though certain key parts of her felt raw, she wanted him too.
She brought her cupped hands to her face and finished splashing herself. After she brushed the water from her eyes, she glanced over her shoulder at him. Their gazes caught and held intensely.
This felt dangerous. Part of her wanted to get away so she could process what had happened and what she was feeling, but the thought of leaving him, if only to hide upstairs for an hour or two, made her anxious. Despite her beliefs about romance, she was now firmly entangled. Was this how it was meant to be between two adults in a relationship? Was this normal? She liked it and did not know if she should like that she liked it.
Huffing softly, she turned away from him and dropped herself into the water. She could feel his eyes on her back even after the water closed over her head, so she began to wash in earnest, trying to ignore him, her burning ears, and the strange yearning in her belly.
She tried to be quick, but her body was tender in so many odd places. When she ran her hands over her arms and legs, she found healing claw and fang marks all over. They were concentrated her hips and butt, more were clustered around her shoulders and upper back—they were like a heat map on her body of Sesshomaru's favorite places to grab her.
Fuko was still submerged when she felt a hand on her back, another in her hair, and then he hauled her out of the water like a prized trout or a half-drowned kitten. She sputtered and flailed at him. He didn't let go and so a sort of clumsy, undignified wrestle ensued. Either he lost his footing or she tripped him and they both fell in the basin, sending water splashing up onto the tiled floor. The water broiled with their rolling and thrashing but he got his feet under him again and then stood, clutching her. His mouth sought hers though his hair covered his eyes, but she twisted away from him, laughing. He threw an arm around her neck and held her against him, brushing his lips over her skin where he could reach. He pressed his hips hard against her side, telling her without words that he was extremely ready for round three. Or round ten. Or fifty, whichever round it would be.
"Kiss me," he demanded. His voice was a low rasp by her ear.
Her laughter broke off with a whine.
His claws pricked her belly. "Give in to me."
She wanted to. Or at least, the option occurred to her and she knew it would feel very good. Instead, she turned around in his embrace and buried her face in against his chest. Hugging him tight, she said, "'Shomaru, hold still for a second. Just wait…"
His hands slid down her sides then up her back and he scoffed, "For what?" He took her shoulders and tried to pry her off of him, but she had her arms wound around his body tight. "Fuko. Defiant girl, look at me."
"If I look up, you'll kiss me." Her lips brushed his chest as she spoke and a tremor went through her as she realized again how soft his skin was. She tucked her face into him more firmly. "We should talk. D-don't you… Don't you want to talk?"
"No, I do not."
She groaned, nuzzling into his firm pectorals, and then she licked him.
He sucked in a sharp breath and took a half-step back, but she held on. His fingers worked their way into her hair as she bathed his chest with her tongue, paying special attention to the taunt, pebbled flesh of his nipples. He snarled as she switched from right to left. He staggered in the water, seemingly having trouble standing while she did this to him. He began tugging at her hair—neither of them able to tell if he meant to stop her or urge her on.
Then, over their heavy panting and the thundering of their hearts, they heard a voice from out in the hall call, "Sensei-sama! Sensei-sama, if you can hear, please answer!"
Sesshomaru jerked back from her at the same time Fuko flailed away from him. She was out of the water in an instant and he followed close behind. She grabbed the door to the bath room and leaned around it to peek out. "Headmaster!? What…!"
Sesshomaru moved passed her into the hall, summoning dokkasu to his claws as he moved. There was not a human at the height he was expecting and when he glanced down, he found something that angered and confused him. That elderly human male from before was displayed on the screen of that glass tablet Fuko so enjoyed carrying around. The tablet itself was propped up by a strange creature, a thing that was like a crab made of metal and wire with a single glass eye on the crown of its carapace. "What is this?" the demon lord demanded, bristling.
Fuko stomped her foot, red-faced with embarrassed indignation. "What the hell are you doing, Ambrus?! When I said no one should come in here, that sure as hell went for spy bots too!"
"Sensei-sama, I apologize for this intrusion, but—,"
Sesshomaru loosed an acid whip from his fingertips and destroyed the screen and the spyder behind it with one fluid flick of his wrist.
Fuko shrieked in outrage, rounding on him. "Why did you do that!?"
He blinked, taken aback. "He was intruding. You said it was a spy—,"
"And so you decided to break my tablet?! Not that you hadn't damaged it once already, but now-! Kami, do you know how expensive those things are!?"
He tensed and his jaw flexed as he answered, "Cease screeching at me, girl. I will get you a new one."
She flung up her hands. "How!? With what!? You don't have any money! You don't even know what money looks like here!"
"I said that I will." He shifted forward and towered over her. "My word is enough. You doubt me?"
His attempt at intimidation had the opposite effect. Her voice reached unforeseen heights of hysteria. "Do I doubt that you can just go out and get an Ichorite tablet when you have no money, don't speak the native language, and don't know where to find one!? I—"
A chirping sound came from the entertainment room as the home assistant computer came out of sleep mode and displayed a com-call coming through. Fuko slapped her hands over her face to muffle her frustrated scream—but the scream got louder and not so muffled as she finally realized that the barrier she had placed around her apartment rooms had fallen and it was Sesshomaru's youki that shielded them now.
Sesshomaru shifted back a bit, unsure of what caused the wild panic in her eyes or if she would lash out at him because of it. But, after a long (painfully loud) moment, her wailing petered out. She dropped her hands and stared down at them in disbelief. Then she looked at him, aghast.
"Sesshomaru, when did you raise this barrier?"
"Hn." His stance softened somewhat now that she was not yelling at him. "Less than an hour ago."
The chirping continued from down the hall. She asked, "And, was my barrier still in place when you did it?"
Sesshomaru considered it for a moment, thinking back. "No, it was not."
"Shit," she whispered. "Shit, shit shit shit!" She darted down the hall, hissing curses. The call that HAAI displayed on the hologram field was coming from the office of the Headmaster and she interrupted herself to give the computer the order to answer the call but put the man on hold. Then, desperate for clothes, she ran into the bedroom, but when she reached the doorway she could only reel back in shock.
"What happened in here!?" she cried. But, she knew exactly what had happened in here.
Sesshomaru came up behind her as she wailed this question, but he sensed it was rhetorical. He passed a hand through his hair, absently straightening it. The room was in a state of chaos in the aftermath of their rutting and it was a tad sobering to see such evidence of his loss of control. He could not regret their activities, but he did think that they would have to show some restraint in the future—or else they would always have to come together in a place they did not mind demolishing.
Shaking off her shock, Fuko went over to a busted dresser and opened a drawer—or rather she tried to open a drawer. It had been knocked off its track from being repeatedly slammed into. Impatient, she gave a sharp tug and broke the front panel off. She snagged some clothes from inside and dressed in a whirl of movement. Then she froze, bowed her head, and stood motionless as her power rose around her.
His barrier was a big, vibrant "fuck-off." It walled in the entire apartment and a little bit of the halls beyond and it was made with the intent to harm anyone who dared to touch it. It would ward off anyone with the slightest ability to sense auras for miles around—in short, there was nothing discreet about it. She pressed on his barrier with her aura but it held firm. She pressed harder and felt a dull pain blossom across her shoulders as if she were trying to lift a crushing weight. His barrier was not made to harm those within it, but it would not be taken down without a serious contest of wills.
"What are you doing?" Sesshomaru demanded. He seized her arm. "Stop this."
She winced and tried the shrug him off, but when he wouldn't let go, so she turned and grabbed his forearm. They gripped each other as their auras ground against each other, fighting to occupy the same space. Then, after a minute of struggle, his barrier suddenly opened channels that allowed her youki to flow through.
Fuko extended herself outside of him and her concealing influence blanketed his youki easily. In an instant, it was finished. Instead of a neon shield of daunting strength, those outside of the academy would sense nothing at all. Those within the main building would sense Fuko's stern repelling force, and then only those who stood on the edge of these rooms would sense the threat of the male daiyoukai's barrier.
She let out a sigh of relief and let him go. "Thank you."
He let her go as well. He almost seemed to talk to himself as he said, "I did not intend to do that."
Her ears piqued. Weird. If he hadn't meant to do it, why had it happened?—but, she didn't have time for idle questions. "Thanks all the same." She patted his back as moved around him, heading for the entertainment room.
Once the headmaster was actually on the line instead of on hold, a video feed of his office was projected onto the holo-scape. His expression was grim. His salt and pepper mustache bristled with tension. And he was not alone. At his left hand stood the Mistress of Technologies for the Academy, a woman with stunning intelligence and a questionable sense of humor. She was named Wyva MacChruim. At the headmaster's right hand stood Murdoch Sláine, a soft-spoken man who had been named the Master of Public Relations only five years after completing his graduate courses. That was many years ago now and he had only become savvier.
Fuko bit back a bitter sigh. The Master of Public Relations wouldn't be on this call without reason. There was no use hoping that the general public hadn't noticed something going on at the Academy.
Headmaster Ambrus opened his mouth to speak, but she quieted him with a wave of the hand and looked to the male on his right, "What's the damage?"
"Sensei-sama." Sláine leaned forward intently. "The auras of you and your companion could be felt throughout the city. It was disruptive to say the least. There were civilians gathered outside the compound—your usual anti-dog demon protestors but also others who seemed enthralled by the rampant monster energy. The media called them adulators, but the anointed believe they were victims of some level of possession. These factions, the protestors and the adulators, have dispersed but we expect litigation on the behalf of those that felt compelled to come. We may face covering the lost wages of the possessed and the lost revenue of businesses in our vicinity that were impacted by the incident."
She nodded. "And what are we facing globally?"
"There has been no official word as of yet from our news media but several foreign media outlets have picked up on recent events. They all speculate wildly, but by now all sides are reporting that there is another category one demon at the academy."
"Shit indeed, Sensei-sama. From what I understand, you wanted to keep his presence here a secret. I believe this will no longer be possible."
"What do you recommend?"
"Announce him. Show him to the world and state your position before speculation gets any wilder."
Fuko made a low sound of distress. "Give me another option."
"Misdirection. There are several plausible theories floating about in the public. We could turn one or parts of several to our advantage—" Sláine's gaze broke from hers. All three of the humans suddenly focused on something over her shoulder
She turned. Sesshomaru stood there behind her, completely nude.
(One might argue that the length of fur over his shoulder counted as clothing, but it did not in Fuko's book since it didn't cover his junk or even his nipples.)
"WAH!" She barreled into his chest but it barely moved him back a step. It certainly did not move him out of sight of the com-call like she wanted. She tried to shove him again, but he didn't budge. "What are you, a brick wall?!" she shouted. "Move!"
He raised an imperious brow.
Recognizing a brick wall when it looked down its nose at her, she whirled back to the screen and snapped at the gawking humans in Common, "Don't stare at him!"
Headmaster Ambrus harrumphed but he and Sláine averted their eyes obediently. Wyva MacChruim leered. "Oh, Fuko-chan, I saw what he did to you in the bath. Please tell him that I admire his work."
Fuko let out a bark strangled with outrage. She threw out her arms to shield Sesshomaru's bare skin from the tech-genius' lecherous gaze. "He's mine! Look away!"
The woman affected a wounded look. "Fuko-chan! I may admire another woman's toys, but I wouldn't dream of stealing—especially not from my precious sensei."
Her teasing tone did nothing to assuage Fuko's jealousy. She pinned her with a vicious slit-pupil glare. Her voice reverberated with a bass growl as she said, "Avert your gaze, MacChruim, or I will break your bones."
The woman's face drained of color and she looked away quickly. Just that quickly, Fuko relented, surprised at herself and sickened by the look of fear she had put in Wyva's eyes. She would never hurt her. The threat had been completely empty. But, just that quickly, she had given the woman a fright she would never forget.
Sesshomaru picked that moment to lean into her from behind and subtly place his hand on her back. He had no way to tell what was being said while she and the humans conversed in that rough foreign language, but he could recognize her distress and her territorial posturing without words.
Fuko jumped slightly at his touch, turned to face him, and then had to convince herself not to fondle his bare chest. He was so very naked and it wasn't as if she could pretend to be uninterested anymore. He had shown her exactly what he could do with his body and every second she looked at him triggered another vivid memory.
"Um. Sesshomaru." She cleared her throat, and then froze as his exhale stirred her hair. He was standing so very close to her. Wincing at how deeply that shook her self-control, she glanced up at the male. "Uh. Would you please go put on some clothes? Your hakama and haori should be in the dryer upstairs."
He blinked at her slowly, but then chuffed before turning away and heading for the laundry room.
Once he was out of sight and she had a moment to calm down, Fuko turned back to the humans. "I'm sorry, you guys, I don't know what came over me. Wyva, I shouldn't have growled at you. I'm really sorry."
The woman glanced back at her reluctantly and with a bit of trepidation. Fuko bowed deeply and held the pose for a long second. When she straightened, she saw Wyva had bowed as well, as deeply as she could over the desk that the three humans were behind.
"I apologize as well, Sensei-sama," she said. "My behavior was inappropriate."
Fuko waved her words away. "Don't start calling me that now." Wyva had always been irreverent. She had always appreciated that about her and she did not want it to change. The woman was one of those few who treated her like just another person. "Let's just forget the last few moments, okay?"
The woman nodded and then smiled hesitantly. "Yes. But just the last few moments. I've seen some things today that I don't want to forget."
Fuko made herself smiled back. She usually enjoyed joking with the Mistress of Technologies. Usually. She'd never had a boyfriend to be sensitive about before. "Yeah. Um. Well, Sláine, I think you had the right idea at the start. Of course we should announce him. It's a bit late to hide anything. We'll be found out." She scratched behind one ear and let out a little laugh. "Forgive me. I guess-I guess I just wanted to keep him to myself? In any case, you do have a plan of action, don't you?"
"I do, Fuko-sensei."
"What do you need from me?"
The Master of Public Relations' lips thinned and his gaze became unfocused as he thought. "It is now a little past noon. I can easily arrange a press conference at five to be aired live on all the district news networks. If we answer the big questions in a single statement and field a few light questions about your companion, it will take no more than a half hour and our version of the story will be the first available to the public. First is best in the battle we are fighting. For the press conference itself, I would need Lord Sesshomaru dressed in something low-key. He should be ready to stand calmly and quietly while you give the statement. Even with so few people knowing of him, he already has a fearsome reputation. Excuse me, Fuko-sensei, but he does not engender trust or reassurance. Yours is a familiar face and so you must be at the forefront. We should do as much as we can to minimize his foreignness. As far as we and anyone else should be concerned, he is just an extension of you, just one more inu youkai. Not a big deal."
Fuko frowned. "And the statement?"
"I will prepare it. Headmaster Ambrus has taken the liberty of availing me totally of your situation."
Her ears flattened into her hair. "I get to read it before hand, right?"
"Of course, Fuko-sensei."
"Alright. I'm putting my trust in you, Sláine. And Headmaster Ambrus, you were going to say something before?"
The headmaster settled back in his large high-backed chair. "Nothing that has not already been said, Sensei-sama. Except, I had wanted to begin by apologizing for the manner in which we sought your attention. I ordered the deploy of our surveillance equipment only as a last resort. These measures will certainly not be taken again. I assure you that anything we may have witnessed will go no further than this room and I offer a personal apology for our gross invasion of privacy."
Fuko glanced down at her bare toes and shifted uncomfortably. Just how much had they seen? "It's fine. This is important. Well worth the interruption. I wish it hadn't come to this…. and, you guys should definitely try knocking next time."
Wyva cut in. "We did, Fuko-chan. Repeatedly over the course of the last few days. The only response we got was this morning when your friend came to the door."
Fuko tensed and groaned again. "What…? No, he wouldn't—but of course he did." She closed her eyes and shook her head. Sesshomaru no baka. "I didn't realize he'd done that. Did he hurt anyone?"
The headmaster's mustache rippled with displeasure as he answered, "There was no lasting damage, but I must say that he did not gain any admirers." Ambrus glanced at the demon lord as he re-entered the room. His jaw tightened as he remembered the pain of being forced from the hall and the injuries his subordinates had sustained. Whatever excitement he had felt when he learned of the new dog demon's existence was gone. It had been replaced by a growing dread. His presence here would change so much, perhaps too much.
Sesshomaru met the elderly human's gaze coolly, certain that he was talking about him though he could not understand what they were saying. He could guess that they were complaining to Fuko about him. How annoying.
"Argh. I apologize for him," Fuko said. "I should have been the one to answer the door. I should have answered the first time you knocked. I've really messed things up, haven't I?"
Perhaps, Ambrus thought, his gaze lingering on the pale inhuman creature that hovered just behind her. Out loud, he said, "It is nothing that cannot be rectified, Sensei-sama. We are grateful to see that you are well. We were very concerned for your welfare."
His steady gaze flicked to her. "The energy coming from your rooms was singularly intense. Some thought you might be fending off an attack, though of course now we know—"
"Yeah, I guess now you know!" Fuko covered her face with her hands, cringing. "I'm fine! We're both fine! We just got carried away. Things got out of hand—a-anyway, I can't imagine what that must have been like to you all on the outside. I'm sorry to have worried everyone." She scrubbed her face with her palms and then looked up at the holo-scape again with her shoulders squared. "Enough about that. We have work to do. If you all would arrange for some clothes for him, I'll get us prepared for the press conference. Charge them to my account. I'll send you his measurements."
Sláine and Wyva bowed and Headmaster Ambrus nodded. "Understood."
Then the Mistress of Technologies raised a hand, "Ah, Fuko-chan, not to bring up trivial matters, but I lost all contact with my spyder when your friend…disabled it. Would you have that returned to the technology department? I imagine it's been beyond repair, but we could salvage the parts."
Fuko winced. Another expensive piece of equipment she would have to replace. "Will do. I'll talk to you guys in a bit."
She ended the call and then turned to Sesshomaru. He was clothed. She looked him over, thinking of the many things they needed to talk about. She took a breath to begin, but instead of any of the very important stuff that was in her head, she blurted out, "Kami, take off those clothes."
He quirked a brow at her. "You must make up your mind. Am I to be clothed or not?"
She looked away, sucking in another fragrant breath. "Clothed. But, you can't wear that. And we should take a bath. We both, well, we smell like we've been doing exactly what we've been doing for the past few days."
"As we should."
She snorted, grabbed his hand, and then tugged him back toward the bathroom. He let her pull him, listening with a smirk as she insisted they would take a quick, platonic bath and talk during.
Fuko escaped from the tiled room an hour later followed by a billow of steam and then Sesshomaru, loose-limbed and walking sedately. They had not talked much while they bathed (and "accidently" did other things), but at least they were scrubbed clean. The demoness muttered to herself, trying to think of the fastest way to made up for the lack of communication as she led him back to the wrecked bedroom. She threw on a large cotton shirt, fetched a towel, tied it around his waist, and then took him back to the entertainment room and put him in front of the computer. She posed him with his legs spread shoulder width apart and his arms outstretched, then she had HAAI scan his dimensions so that someone could send them some appropriate clothes.
"Okay, so you know how we're in the middle of a giant city?" she finally asked as an array of lights slid over his skin. "When we-uh. While we were having… sex before, well, everyone could feel it. Not it but our youki. The barrier I had up before required some attention all the time and I wasn't able to focus on anything while—Anyway, the barrier I had concealing us broke down. That was my fault. I'm sorry. I've never been distracted like that before. With all the… sex and stuff."
"So! The big problem with the barrier failing is that now the city knows you're here, and because the city knows, the world knows or will know soon. The big problem with that is that I am, as an inu daiyoukai, considered to be a category one monster, a creature that could drive humanity to extinction. The disparate human nations of this world came together a long time ago and decided each category one monster had to be monitored and confined to a territorial range or else destroyed. I can see you scoffing at this idea, but let me finish. The youkai of this world, well, you wouldn't call them youkai. You might call them kaiju, beasts. I wouldn't go so far as to say that they're animals, but they aren't organized into anything like tribes or societies. They are not without intelligence, but their intelligence is different from ours. Talking to them is… uncomfortable. It's difficult and unpleasant for me and it is impossible for the humans. And kaiju outnumber humans one thousand to one."
"So, the humans have devised laws and treaties so that they can live lives of careful avoidance, staying far away from those monsters who could literally wipe them out. I'm the exception to this rule because I can talk. And, I guess, because I'm affiliated with the Order. I've forgotten what exact term they have for my legal status, but I'm considered a nationless entity unto myself. I fought hard for this distinction. In the past, humans have fought wars over which country would 'claim' me, not that I would have gone along with whoever won—that's beside the point."
"Now there's you. Another category one, reasonable demon. To their minds, unaffiliated. There's going to be that old speculation, can we can we make this demon work for us, get this demon to fight for us—the answer to that would be no, of course. Some humans won't be smart enough to know that without trying. They'll come for you, in one way or another. I'm not worried about that, but it will be annoying. Let's say that I claim you for the 'nation' of inu daiyoukai. That creates another potential big problem. There's two of us. Imagine if a rival nation on the border of the Western Lands suddenly doubled in population and power. That would be a security concern at the very least, wouldn't it?"
Sesshomaru, who had been paying close attention during this speech, snorted softly at this question. "They would be foolish enough to attempt war with us?"
"No. I doubt they'll go so far. But, they'll react poorly and I, being a landless nation, have to consider the pressure this places on my host, the District of Glinishmore, and my close allies, the Order of Disciples." Fuko sighed, leaning back onto the couch. HAAI's scanning lights winked out and Sesshomaru sat down beside her. "Glinishmore relies heavily on free trade," she continued as she input his data into a message for the Public Relations team. "If one of the other nations levied sanctions or some sort of trade embargo, then the Order would suffer. Kami, the other nations would suffer as well since the Order is by far the most accomplished at combating the monsters of this world. This whole thing is going to be a huge headache."
"You are allowing yourself to be troubled by human politics."
"How can I avoid it?" Her ears drooped. "I can leave this world at any time, but I won't leave without you. We can't leave until summer. I know they can't harm you, but they will cause trouble. That's all I wanted to avoid by hiding you. Trouble. Just a few months and I couldn't even manage that. Now the Order will face the consequences…"
"Calm yourself." The demon lord did not do something so demonstrative as hug her to his side, but the trailing end of his moko moko did curl over her knee. It was disquieting for him that she cared so deeply about the dealings of humans. Caring about her allies, perhaps that was understandable, but the opinions of a factious world of mortals should not concern her. "You have said yourself that the Order is the most capable of fighting the strange beasts of this world," he said. "These foreign powers cannot be so idiotic as to cripple their best line of defense."
Fuko hummed, not agreeing or disagreeing as she ran her claws lightly through the white fur that had shifted into her lap. It was very soft. She blinked and realized mid pet that he had given her his tail to comfort her. She smiled. Sláine was wrong—Sesshomaru could be reassuring! It was super unlikely that he would let anyone else pet him, but the impulse had been there. He just needed more practice.
"And should they attack us, they will only die by our blades," he continued. "I doubt either one of us would have trouble with a human army. Together it would be a slaughter."
Fuko rolled her eyes and stopped petting his fur. "I would rather avoid killing people, 'Shomaru." Okay, so he needs a lot more practice. "Since there's no hiding you anymore, we plan to formally introduce you to humanity. In a couple hours, we're going to go out and there's going to be a lot of humans. They're going to gawk at us. They're going to shout in Common, but maybe some of them will try Japanese to get your attention. I know you can handle it, but I need you to do me a huge favor. Let me do the talking, okay?"
He answered without hesitation. "Yes."
"Yes?" She leaned forward, surprised. "Really, just 'yes'?"
"You have experience in this regard. I will leave it to you."
"Okay, great!" She glanced away, rubbing one ear "You're so agreeable. I don't know why I thought this would be a struggle."
His expression was perfectly bland. "You assumed I would not be willing to concede control to you because of how I acted in the past. That is understandable, however in this instance you have explained the situation to me adequately and thus I am prepared to lead from behind."
Fuko fought the twitch that wanted to develop in her left eye. "Lead from behind. Is that what you'll do? How wonderful."
He raised a brow ever-so-slightly. "The thought annoys you."
"How can you tell?"
He reached over and laid a hand between her ears. Her skin prickled as he began to scratch her scalp. "Become accustom to it and do not complain. As your alpha, it is my duty and my right to lead. This will happen often in the future."
Her eyes closed. This guy could be annoying, but damn, he was good with his hands. "You're not my alpha—"
"I will be—"
"—but whatever. That's fine for now. Just make sure to lead from all the way behind, like wa-ay back…" She opened her eyes and smiled at him. "Sesshomaru. Thank you."
"Hn." He paused in his caresses and studied her for a moment. Then, his claws touched her scalp more firmly. "Is that all?"
Her eyes widened as he leaned in close. His hand slid from her hair, the other joined the first to cupped her face. In another moment, he was nearly on top of her.
"What…do you mean?" she asked. Her lips brushed his chin with the words.
He kissed her lightly and ran his hands down along her back, pressing her forward into him. "Is that all you wished to speak on? You seemed adamant that we talk earlier."
Her eyes narrowed and pushed him to an arm's length. "That's right! Damn, you're too distracting." She rubbed her face, missing his irritated look as she gathered herself. "I think we have enough time. I wanted to talk about us." She glanced up and regarded him pensively. "How are you feeling?"
He frowned slightly and flexed his aura. "I am recovered."
She gave a short laugh. "Obviously. I meant emotionally."
"Yeah. We haven't actually talked to each other for a few days and I just wanted to touch base." She smiled, staring at him expectantly.
Sesshomaru considered his options. His chosen often reacted negatively to his silence, especially in response to a question she had asked. She obviously wanted to hear something specific. What was it? As he pondered, his gaze drifted down to her lips—and then he realized that he had been silent too long. So, the demon lord spoke the truth, seeing as it was the most expedient answer. "Emotionally, I am unchanged."
Her smile became a little forced "And what do you mean by that?"
"My feelings have not changed from what they were previous to coming here."
She paused, frowning a little. "You… seemed pretty depressed when you were sick. Now you feel like your usual self? Is that what you mean?"
"No." Frustration flickered across his face. "I do not feel like my 'usual self.' I am stranded in a world foreign to me, an "Earth" which actively seeks to kill me."
Guilt began to pool in her stomach. There it was, the bitterness she had been expecting from him. Fuko had only made the mistake of carrying someone between worlds once before. It had been Lady Asuka, the one who had been left in charge of her when her father went off to… wherever he had gone off to. The priestess had resented her from that moment until her death, always looking upon Fuko with the dark shadow of it lurking behind her eyes.
Was there any way to salvaged this before Sesshomaru began to hate her for what had happened? There had to be. He'd had sex with her. He had initiated it. He still wanted her. There had to be some words she could say to smooth things over, but she didn't know what they were. "I'm sorry," she ventured. "I know it's awful. This is probably the last place you ever wanted to be."
"I am undaunted." Sesshomaru flicked a long lock of pure white hair over his shoulder. "I merely acknowledge how trying my circumstances have become. As they change, I must adapt. This is the basis of survival. I say that my feelings are unchanged only in regards to you."
She blinked and sat up straighter. "Oh! Oh. You… you really don't feel any differently about me?" After few moments of his steady gaze, she glanced away, smiling ruefully. "I'm… relieved. I almost can't believe it. You were having such an awful time before. I would understand if you didn't like me anymore." Her ears flattened to her hair and she focused on her hands which were clasped in her lap. "I mean, I've always tried to tell you that something is going to change your mind about me and this—," she flung one hand out to indicate the city beyond the large window, "—isn't some little inconvenience. This is a lot to take. You're on another planet. Or in another dimension. Or both. And you're trapped here for a year at least. You know, if you stick with me, there's a chance this could happen again."
Sesshomaru reached over, took her hands, and then squeezed gently until she looked at him. "Fuko. I did not choose you lightly. While I could not have predicted this incident, it has done nothing to change my plans for us."
The demoness stared for a few long seconds and then laughed shakily. She tugged one of her hands free to wipe at her eyes. "Ha, ha… Okay. That's… It makes me happy to hear your feelings haven't changed. I… I think I feel that way, too. The way you feel." She peeked at him. He met her gaze with steady intensity. She looked away again, her insides quaking. "I've liked you for a while, to be honest. A lot. I like you a lot, I mean. E-ever since we reached the Western Lands, or maybe before that. It's tough to pin down exactly when..."
Again, she peeked at him. Sesshomaru stared back. He had finally earned her affection. That was good news. This development fell in line with his plans perfectly. She was be more pliant, more willing to accept his touch now. It did not seem that she was any more inclined to obey him so far, but it was only a matter of time before she agreed to become his mate. The certainty of it swelled his chest and made him crave a more carnal form of confirmation.
But, why did she act so nervous now? And the more he stared at her, the more anxious she seemed to get. Why would she admit to having such affection for him if it put her ill at ease?
"I've never been with anyone like this before," she continued, her gaze drifting down and away. "We fight all the time, but no matter what I say or do, you're never afraid of me." She laughed, but the sound was high and tense with nerves. "That's a silly thing to point out to you, right? Of course, you wouldn't be afraid of me. But, to me, it's kind of remarkable. I've spent most of my life with humans. They scare so easy. Most of them, anyway. And they aren't wrong to be afraid of me. I'm a mons—a predator." She shook her head. "When it comes to other demons, I spent half my childhood afraid of them. I always kept my distance and ran at the first sign of danger. Then I got stronger and suddenly they were afraid of me. I was the one to be avoided. I seemed to skip the step in between—this step, when neither of us is afraid—or we're equally afraid. I don't know. Sorry! I'm babbling."
When she looked at him next, her gaze was still nervous but it was also steady and earnest in her effort to communicate. "What I mean to say is, it's not an accident that I hadn't been intimate with anyone before now, Sesshomaru. It's not like I've never thought about it or never had the urge. I just decided a long time ago to avoid romance. Everything I saw or heard about it just seemed so complicated and painful from the outside. And now with you, it is complicated. It's painful sometimes. But, I still like you. I like having you around. I don't want to leave you behind."
She reached out and he allowed her to lay her palm on his chest. To him, her touch was soft and exploratory. To her, his body was warm and solid. He had just started to shift toward her when she dropped her hand and tucked her two fists into her lap. She looked embarrassed and struggled again to hold his gaze.
"Now we've—last night, and the night before. This morning. We've…Well, I didn't expect for this! I didn't think it would happen here. In the Western Lands, I thought, maybe. Soon. Then I thought, not here, not when you're all sick and upset. But then—!" She rubbed the back of her head and groaned softly. "It was kind of sudden, wasn't it? I thought something romantic would happen and then we'd ease into it—but we didn't do any easing and we're not a very romantic people, are we? W-we were kind of rough with each other, weren't we? Is that normal for dog demons?" She gave him an imploring look, but then put her hands up and shook her head. "No, don't answer! Never mind it, I don't care." She made another low sound of distress as her hands fell into her lap. "It doesn't matter if it was normal. I was okay with it—I'm still okay with it! I'm happy it was with you. I just hope I didn't do anything to you that was too weird. Um, if I do something that's too weird, you have to say so, okay? We should have a safe word. Wait!" She prodded him in the stomach sharply. "I can't believe we did all that without a safe word! That is so irresponsible. Sesshomaru, listen, if I bite you too hard or something, say 'apple,' okay?"
His head cocked to the side ever-so-slightly as he considered this request while also trying to compartmentalize the vivid memory of her sensual bite. It had never been too hard. Even when she broke the skin, her bite had only wound him higher and higher toward orgasm. But, why was 'apple' a safer word than any other? If she somehow bit him "too hard" in the future, could he not just tell her to stop?
She prodded him again. "Does that work? As a safe word…? 'Apple'?" After a few seconds, she crumpled, overcome with her embarrassment. She covered her face with both hands and her words came out muffled. "You know what? Never mind. Forget everything I just said. Please forget. Just, the point of all this is that I like you. You're my boyfriend, after all. So, it's not weird or—or out of bounds that I feel…like I feel. A-anyway, my feelings haven't changed either. But, maybe you didn't know how I felt before. But now you do. Sorry. I should have said all that to begin with. I'm just having a hard time because…" She trailed off as she felt his fingers sink into hair again.
Fuko looked up. Sesshomaru met her gaze impassively, petting her between her ears. She didn't know how to react to this. Was he even listening to her? She wondered if she should be offended that he would pet her like an animal, but his fingers felt so good running over her scalp and ears. He really was good with his hands.
He cupped the back of her head and urged her toward him, still teasing her scalp as he did so. "It pleases me to hear of your affections," he finally said, his voice low. "However, such revelations deliver more impact though demonstration."
She licked her lips. "Demonstration…?"
"I will show you." He laid back on the couch, drawing her over him as he did.
A little less than an hour later, a call came in over HAAI's communications system. A picture of Sláine popped up on the hologram field. Fuko glimpsed it over Sesshomaru's shoulder. She growled, fangs bared and pupils narrowed to slits. She did not recognize the man in that moment, only the coming interruption. Sesshomaru snarled in response to her growl. He did not take any notice of the com-call, he only gripped her tighter and kept thrusting. The call went to voicemail.
Around ten minutes later, Fuko squirmed out from under him where his dead weight had her pinned to the couch. She fell to the floor, groaning, legs too wobbly to support her just yet. Her skin was rosy from mortification and a post-coital high as she said, "HAAI, play the most recent voicemail, please."
The call she had missed was one informing her that a liaison was waiting at the end of the hall with a package of clothing for the new youkai. "We could not send him to the door with the barrier up." Sláine said. "Perhaps you might have your companion take it down. Ahem. The press conference has been scheduled for five o' clock. I need you both ready for briefing at three-thirty. Headmaster Ambrus has suggested we meet in conference room 2-East. Call me back if you have any questions or concerns."
Fuko bit her lip as the message ended. She'd done it again. She had missed something important because he had her distracted. "We can't keep doing this," she whined.
Sesshomaru shifted on the leather cushions and she felt his long fingers thread through her hair. Then he formed fist and tugged at the captured locks lightly. "We can. Come back up here."
Fuko slapped at his hand and pulled away, losing a few strands of hair in the process. Indignant, she stood over him and called him lazy. She demanded that he get up. He rolled over and crossed his arms behind his head, his movements languid. He eyed her challengingly as his cock twitched back to attention and rose proudly over his stomach. She leaned back, staring in shock. How was that even possible?! Then she lunged forward and jabbed him in the chest, exclaiming that was not what she had meant.
She left him on the couch swathed in fox fire, a quick fix for the mess they had made with their activities. She hoped the leather didn't stain. They had already damaged it enough with their claws.
She wiped herself down with fox fire as well as she went to throw on some more appropriate clothes. The large shirt that she had been wearing had not stood up to Sesshomaru's attack. He had torn out it out of his way without hesitation. She would have to talk to him about his habit of tearing her clothes.
She put on the first clean, undamaged things she touched in the mess of her bedroom, white panties, gray bra, a pair of loose knee shorts and a plain tank top—but then she noticed the fading bite marks on her shoulders and pulled a black t-shirt with elbow length sleeves over the tank. When she came back out, Sesshomaru was still on fire and on the couch, though now he was sitting up. She ignored his heated gaze and trotted over to the bath room to get the clothes he had discarded, thinking as she went that she really should have bought him more than one pair of lounge pants. The ones he had were now in ribbons on the bedroom floor. In the hall, she also picked up the two halves of the spyder and the two halves of the tablet.
Peeved again about the waste of technology, she threw his clothes over his head on her way to the kitchen. She opened a few drawers and found a food baggie. She bagged up the ruined spyder and the tablet, wincing at the acrid smell. MacChruim would hardly get anything useful from this mess, even with her throwing in the tablet.
The demon lord was still on the couch, still nude, but no longer on fire when she came back to the entertainment room. He was grooming himself, gracefully combing his claws through his long hair at an unhurried pace. She paused at the end of the couch and stared blankly at the sight for a long moment before remembering what she had been about to say. She asked him to drop his barrier and to put on some pants, then she let him know that she was stepping out for a bit to get him some new clothes for the press conference.
Though he gave her a look that suggested he did not like her orders or her news, he did not speak against them and off Fuko went. She felt his barrier recede as she opened the front door and so she padded barefoot down the hall, expecting to pick up a bundle of clothes from a young aide or courier. Instead she found Renar Arthfael the C-rank warrior standing stiffly at the mouth of the hallway leading to her apartment, his arms laden with shopping bags and boxes.
"Oh, hey," she called, smiling. "What are you doing delivering clothes?"
"Fuko-sensei." He turned and smiled back at her, but then winced. "The disciplinary review board tasked me with delivering the new demon's clothes. Lord Sesshomaru's clothes, sorry."
Bringing something to the apartment is a punishment now? "Oh, yeah?" She winced with him. "What'd you do to deserve it?"
He glanced down. "Minor infraction. Wandering some place where I oughtn't. But, I'm suited to the task since I already know about the, well, him and no one else wanted to come."
Fuko laughed though what he said wasn't funny so much as it was disheartening. He laughed politely when she did though he realized after speaking that what he said might have been offensive. Then, feeling awkward and shifting his weight uneasily, he explained that he was supposed to stand by while she checked if the clothes were to her liking.
The demoness tilted her head. "What, I'm supposed to look at them out here and be able to tell if they're any good for him? Or do I take them in while you wait? That's—No, no. You come with me." After seizing upon an idea and to the young man as well, she dragged him down the hall back toward the apartment.
When they came in the door, they found Sesshomaru waiting for them (wearing pants). He reacted poorly to seeing her in the company of another male and she reacted poorly to his reaction, but after a few tense moments when the C-rank warrior was sure that the male demon would strike him dead, she got him to back off and things settled down. Fuko ushered two males into the entertainment room while she explained to her short-tempered boyfriend that Renar was here as a practice human for him to interact with. Sesshomaru sneered at that idea. Then she added that Renar was also there to keep them on task so that they didn't get distracted. The demon lord liked this news even less.
Fuko asked the human warrior to wait in the kitchen with an apology in her eyes, but actually Renar was relieved to have an excuse to escape the new demon's line of sight. He had to be the living embodiment of the phrase "if looks could kill." As soon as the words left her mouth, Renar agreed and ducked down the hall and into the kitchen. Once he was safely in the other room, he sat on the barest edge of a stool with his hands fisted on his knees, trying not to eavesdrop.
Fuko reached over and took Sesshomaru's hand, drawing his attention away from the hallway that the C-rank warrior had gone down. She admonished him in a low murmur, "Sesshomaru! That was not okay. You can't glare and threaten every human we see. This cannot be how you act at the press conference."
He frowned very slightly. It was almost a pout. "You were touching him."
She stared for a moment, blank-faced, but then she pursed her lips. "You do realize that the special way I touch you is very different from the way I touched that boy, don't you?"
"He is hardly a boy." His lips curled in a snarl. "And do not talk to me like I am a child."
Then don't act like one, she thought. She didn't say it though. A fight wouldn't help anything right now. She patted his hand instead. "Okay, I won't. But I'm warning you, chill out or else." She turned toward the packages on the floor, rolling her eyes once she was turned away from him—missing the fact that he rolled his eyes as soon as she turned. "Let's see what we have to work with here," she said.
The articles of clothing that had been chosen for Sesshomaru were just as Sláine had prescribed. Low-key. The style was young elite—something she would expect the teenaged son of a wealthy professional to wear casually. Popular brands, not too high-end, but respectable. Very middle-of-the-road. Just the thing to make him seem unremarkable to the press. Fuko gave Sesshomaru all this running commentary while she tossed a plain gray pair of boxers at him and then sifted through the choices. She picked out a white v-necked shirt that had a stripe of red over the right shoulder and black pants with straight-cut legs, several seemingly pointless pockets, and a studded belt.
Despite the vehement resistance he had given her when she tried to dress him while he was ill, when she unthinkingly tossed the shirt over his head and pulled it down onto him, he stood by peacefully. She realized her mistake after a few seconds and her movements slowed as she was threading his hair through the neck of the shirt. She glanced up at him. He quirked a brow in answer to her questioning look and eventually she just shook her head and continued. So, she was allowed to dress him when he was perfectly capable of doing it, but not when he needed her help? She shook her head some more as she buttoned his fly. She would have a brain aneurysm if she tried to make sense of him all in one sitting.
When she finished, she took a step to check him out.
He looked all wrong! The clothes were low-key, but the person in them looked like a fashion model. Sláine had obviously ordered the attire based on his exact proportions. Every line and angle showcased the demon's svelte and sinewy build. The white and red of his shirt complimented his striking coloring far too much—she should have realized it would be too eye-catching since those were his preferred colors. A sinking feeling in her gut told her this wasn't going to work.
Pushing that thought away, she pulled those clothes off of him and tried something else, a button-down royal-blue shirt with elbow-length sleeves and dark pants with a series of chains looped around the waist. Then, she took that off him and tried again with a plain white t-shirt, red cotton pull-over, and beige cut-offs. It was somehow worse!
Fuko kept trying until Sesshomaru finally pointed out that she had selected in same outfit for the third time, and then she finally had to admit it to herself. He was sexy no matter what he wore. If it was possible to hide how freakishly attractive and inhuman he looked with mere fabric, those mythic robes hadn't been made available to her.
"Why…? I can't even…" The demoness shook her head, sighing. "What do you want to wear, Sesshomaru? You pick."
She left him to his choice while she went back to the bedroom to find something for herself. It took no thought—she opened the blessedly-undamaged bureau in the back corner and pulled out a white dress shirt and a black pleated skirt that would fall to her knees. Both were sealed in their own protective plastic bag. The shirt came with a bowtie and the skirt had suspenders. The wardrobe prepared for her visits always included something more professional for matters of state.
She brushed her hair up into a high pony-tail and secured it with a black ribbon before slipping into her outfit and then she tugged on some delicate white socks. The only shoes she had besides sandals were her boots—they wouldn't match, but they would have to do.
Finally, she returned to the entertainment room to find that Sesshomaru had put on the royal blue button-up and the black pants with the many pockets. He leaned on the back of the couch, waiting. He looked nothing like a businessman's son, he was far too elegant and mature for that. She sighed again and the sound was an odd mix of desire and resignation that drew his attention.
He gave her a lingering look, taking in her change of clothes the same way she had taken in his. With a soft snort, he straightened and moved toward her. "You do not have any clothing that is more modest?"
She blinked, glancing down at herself to see if a boob had popped out or if her panties were showing. He caught the edge of her skirt and tugged as if he expected it to stretch and cover more of her legs.
"H-hey!" She slapped at his hand. "This is perfectly modest! Besides, my kimonos were shorter than this. You never complained before."
"This shirt is nearly transparent." He hooked a claw behind one of her suspenders. "What are these?" Before she could answer, he released the strap and it snapped back, slapping her right on the breast.
She flinched and gasped, her pupils dilating and her scent spiking with arousal. Sesshomaru straightened in surprise and his eyes roamed over her. She could almost see his insidious intelligence working to assimilate data, solidify cause and effect, and to predict desirable outcomes. His eyes narrowed and he reached for the strap again, but Fuko disappeared.
In the kitchen, she greeted Renar with forced cheer and announced that they were ready to head for the conference room.
They exited the apartment as a three-person unit, Renar leading the way, Fuko behind him, and Sesshomaru behind her. He attempted to move ahead of her as soon as they reached the edge of her youki barrier, but she would not let him. She tossed a glare at him, whispered, "Quit it," and then they were beyond the hall leading to the apartment.
The demon lord could sense a great many myriad humans, but he had not been able to see them until they exited the hall. The walls around him were the same wood-paneled décor that dominated the apartment, but they had come out on a large balcony that extended in a walkway that went off in either direction. The floor was stone and the railing seemed to be segmented glass. The mezzanine overlooked a wide-open space that dropped off into several more floors below them. The passageways below were teeming with mortals.
Fuko took his hand and laced her fingers through his. She squeezed. "Ready to go?"
He snorted. "Of course."
"I'm taking point on this one."
"We have spoken on this."
She nodded, her gaze lingering on him. Renar glanced back at them and the way he held his body telegraphed his anticipation of what was to come. They had only paused for a handful of seconds, but it was with a sense of finality that Fuko turned from him. They headed down the walkway to the left, walking at a smart clip.
It was not long before the wood paneling gave way to white plaster. They entered an empty hall with many doors along one wall and Renar's footsteps reverberated quietly on the tile. The demons were silent. Then, a door ahead of them opened and two young females moved into the hall, their attention focused on each other as they chatted.
Just as their three-person unit would have passed them, the girls looked up and noticed Fuko. They gasped and bowed to her, star-struck and delighted by the sight of their most prestigious teacher. The demoness quickly smiled and waved as they walk passed, but then Sesshomaru had moved into their line of sight. The girls froze, staring. Fuko winced, tugged Sesshomaru a little more firmly, and picked up the pace of their walk. They left the two startled school girls behind when they turned the corner, the scent of their fear and fascination permeating the air that swirled in their wake.
The next hall was empty, as was the staircase they took leading to the next floor. The hall after that was not. They crossed paths with a class of third-year student being let out of a lecture on jungle taxonomy. Fuko smiled and gave a little wave, but despite how they hurried along, the students froze and gawked. When a few of the third-years started to follow after them, Renar broke off from the point of the unit to stop and warn them off. Fuko rushed her boyfriend on ahead. Their human escort caught up only moments before they ducked into conference room 2-East and he remained outside the threshold with his back to the door, guarding this meeting from any would-be eavesdroppers.
The room, rumbling with voices one moment before, fell silent upon their entry. The humans each stood from their seats at the long, hardwood table in the center of the room. In addition to the Headmaster Ambrus, Sláine, and Wyva MacChruim, there were several elite warriors of the Order of Disciples—a diverse group in age and looks but all were similarly skilled in their respective fields. Each elite was the best at what they did, the masters, and it fell upon them to run the Order as a collective.
Sesshomaru paused and let his cool gaze sweep the room. He vaguely recognized most of the humans from the confrontation at the door to the apartment that morning. He could see recognition on their faces as well. He was not fazed by the silent stares or the muted perfume of fear that blossomed throughout the room. This was not so different a reaction from that he might have received after walking into a council meeting of the lesser nobility in the West.
Fuko ducked around the demon lord and pulled the door closed behind him sharply. Then, she turned and greeted those in the room cheerily in Japanese, singling out a few that she hadn't seen in a long while, commenting on how they had grown. Sesshomaru surmised that she must have known them all as children. Those few and the rest gave her distracted smiles and respectful greetings.
She laced her fingers through his again and drew him further into the room, toward the head of the long table where two chairs had been made available. She did not sit and so neither did he. She waved for those gathered to take their seats again. As soon as she had her audience, she began, gesturing to Sesshomaru as if he were an interesting item in a show case.
"This is Sesshomaru, Lord of the Western Lands. An inu daiyoukai, like me. I'm sure you've all been told about him and I understand that some of you have even met him before. Those of you who came to the door this morning to check on me were greeted with violence. I'm sincerely sorry about that. I must ask that you excuse him. That was a misunderstanding. This has all been a series of misunderstandings." Fuko paused and cleared her throat. She thought that her apology was not well-received, but she did not realize that the disquieted expressions on the faces of the elites came in response to the chilling narrowing of Sesshomaru's eyes. He did not appreciate being apologized for like ill-mannered child.
The demoness continued, none the wiser that her words were agitating her companion. "Again, I can only say I'm sorry. Sesshomaru's not used to people and I didn't do much to prepare him. I didn't think we'd leave the apartment before I could take him home. He's experiencing severe culture shock. More than culture shock, actually. Try to imagine being spirited away from all you knew, to a place where even the quality of the light and air seemed different and wrong. You'd be on edge, right? But, look at him now—," she glanced at him and didn't see anything other than his usual blank-yet-grumpy expression. She squeezed his hand and when he glanced at her, she smiled encouragingly and then looked again to her audience. "He's here, he's happy to meet you all—," (Again, she missed seeing his annoyance. The humans did not.) "—and most importantly, he's willing to learn," she finished. "I know you guys are willing to learn too. So, why don't each of you introduce yourselves?"
There was a moment of silence. And then another. And then a male stood from his seat. He was tall, broad-shouldered but wiry, and he had a light-colored complexion. He spoke Japanese like a laborer but with an odd rolling rhythm. "I am Driscoll Underwood, Master of Swords here at the Academy." The male met Sesshomaru's gaze with dark eyes and held it. An aura of notable power stirred around the human. His was not one of the fearful scents fouling the room. "I was among those that felt your strength this morning, Lord Sesshomaru. I can feel it even now. Impressive! I'd be glad to face you on the training grounds one morning soon, if you're up for it."
The demon lord lifted one brow very slightly. Fuko put up her hands, drowning out the alarmed hisses and quiet gasps from others in the room as she exclaimed, "Oh! Ho, ho ha! Driscoll Underwood, what a—card you are! Sit down! I'm sure you and Sesshomaru will hang out at some point, but right now, you know, we have to get things settled and stuff. You know. Anyway! Who's next?" She clapped her hands together.
Headmaster Aiden Ambrus stood and introduced himself again, coming to her rescue. He offered a polite and respectful greeting in even tones, making no reference to their previous meeting, but his scent revealed him to be one of the fearful. This roused Sesshomaru's curiosity. Was he not the leader of this whole organization? Among demons, such a show of weakness would not be tolerated from those in the highest leadership roles, but then, humans had odd ways about them. He doubted they could even smell the fear in the air, as heavy as the scent was.
Wyva MacChruim stood next. She was a well-fed woman, thick of thigh and breast, and beautiful. Her eyes were keen and hungry. She spoke in a smooth, cultured Japanese that was spoiled somewhat by that rolling rhythm that Sesshomaru was beginning to recognize as an accent shared by the humans of this world. "Sesshomaru-sama~, I am Wyva MacChruim, Mistress of Technologies. It is a pleasure to see you again. I was not one of those at the door this morning, but I believe we have met before, in our own way." She winked and sat. Fuko frowned. Sesshomaru registered the fact that her scent was the opposite of fearful and then dismissed her from his mind and nose.
Murdoch Sláine stood. He was slight and soft-bodied, but his scent was free of fear. His greeting was somewhat curt, but he was as polite and respectful as the Headmaster, "Greetings. I am Murdoch Sláine, Master of Public Relations. I look forward to working with you in the future, Lord Sesshomaru."
Another male stood next, this one further along in life and nearly a foot taller than Sláine, who was not a short man. Despite his advanced age, he was still fit and burly with muscle. His skin tone was dark and his graying facial hair masked the lower half of his face. His Japanese was brutish and his voice was extremely deep. "Lord Sesshomaru. I am Kris Tighe, the Academy's Master of Beasts. We met this morning. I greet you." And then the big male sat. Another scent was eliminated from those among the fearful.
There was a slight pause in the proceedings before a matronly female stood. She was pinched. In expression, posture, and tone, she was pinched. Sesshomaru guessed it was fear that made her this way, since nothing of her sturdy build nor her masculine features spoke of congenital weakness. He recognized the sting of the woman's reiki from that morning, but her aura was drained, barely a wisp of strength. Obviously, her experience had shaken her. "Lord Sesshomaru. I am Saibh Finola Cavanah, Mistress of Wards. I greet you," she said, and then she sat. Fuko frowned again, this time with concern.
Another reiki-user stood next, this one male and comparatively young. His aura flagged, his voice shook, and he did not meet the demon lord's gaze as he said, "Fraser McNeil. Master of Scrolls. I, ah… I greet you. Excuse me—" He glanced up from the table in front of him and smiled genuinely at the demon lord despite his fear. "You are very strong. I was there this morning and, I must say, I've never sweated blood before! It was interesting, from an academic perspective. Personally, I found it terrifying." Laughter broke out from some of those around room, short guffaws that acknowledged both the humor and the bizarreness of this situation. The scent of human fear lessened slightly on the whole.
Sesshomaru did nothing to indicate his thoughts as he stared silently at this "master of scrolls," but he acknowledged that this particular human may not be as weak as he seemed, even if he was physically pitiable.
Fraser McNeil sat, still smiling slightly and scratching his scruff of a beard. Again, there was a pause before the next human stood. Her aura fluttered harmlessly yet held more strength than either of the reiki-users that went before her. The female looked first at Fraser and then at Fuko, absorbing their encouraging looks before she managed to glance at the demon lord. Of course, her scent was tinged with fear. She made a small sound of distress before speaking in a voice that was almost a whisper, "I'm Ethna Quickley. M-mistress of the Healing Light. I greet you, Lord Sesshomaru."
She sat down and Fuko clapped softly, murmuring, "Good job, Ethna!" Others around the table joined in a smattering of applause. The woman seemed to wilt with embarrassment, but she nodded, accepting their praise. Sesshomaru glanced at Fuko questioningly, but she was not paying attention to him. He snorted very softly, left at a loss as to what exactly was happening.
The applause died down—except for one human who continued to clap well after the others stopped. He was the male in wrinkled clothing seated closest to the door, slouching in his chair. His gaze was locked on Sesshomaru and remained on him for a full ten seconds as he clapped alone. And then he stopped. And then he smiled. He was the last to introduce himself. "Yo," he said with a wave of his hand. He did not stand nor did he straighten from his slouch. "My name is Gobán, Master of Shadows. We met before. I was one of those guys you crushed this morning, remember? But tell me—how did someone like you become betrothed to our Sensei-sama? I'm curious."
Sesshomaru regarded him and only had time to begin to smile—for an instant the temperate in the room dropped to an icy, preternatural extreme—but then the human named Gobán (who had been in such awful danger a milli-second before) disappeared from his sight. Fuko stood behind the spot where he had been, holding his chair a few feet off the ground. She kicked at something near her feet, under the table. "Gobán-chan! Your chair privileges have been revoked!"
A groan drifted up from the floor, but then the human replied affably, "Fair enough, sensei."
"Take back what you said!"
"I take it back."
"Apologize to Sesshomaru!"
"I apologize, Lord Sesshomaru."
"And to me!"
"I apologize, sensei."
Fuko kicked him again. "Say it!"
"I'm a little shit."
The demoness huffed and glanced around at everyone with furrowed brows. Her buzzing youki did a lot to warm the room. Sesshomaru blinked slowly, holding back laughter. The way her aura sizzled along his almost tickled. How annoying. She was always doing something unexpected. After such disrespect from a lesser being, he should not be satisfied with her acting on his behalf, but he felt no drive to punish the human on the floor. It seemed that the insolent male's humbling at her hands was enough.
"Sesshomaru and I are dating, okay?" she said. "But that doesn't have anything to do with anything! Nobody listen to Gobán for the rest of the day!"
The humans chorused, "Yes, Sensei-sama."
Fuko put the chair down (over the human on the floor) and then walked back to the head of the table. She glanced around again, ears flicking with ire, and then she let out a sign and turned to Sesshomaru. "Gobán is a troublemaker, but he's actually very capable and trustworthy. Don't let this first impression sink in too much." She gave him a pained smile and then bowed. "Fuko of the North, Sensei of the Order of Disciples. I welcome you to the Academy."
The demon lord continued to consider her as she pulled out her chair and sat. She was not "mistress" of anything here, is that what she meant by introducing herself so? The display she had just put on said otherwise. These humans, leaders of their people, had readily accepted her humiliating treatment of one of their own. "Sensei" must then be a rank far above "master" and "mistress."
She raised her eye brows at him meaningfully and gestured to the room at large. He stared at her. She gestured even more emphatically from him to the humans. He knew what she wanted. He would acquiesce, but on his terms.
Eyes on hers, he dipped his head in a deferent bow and said, "Sesshomaru, Lord of the Western Lands. Your hospitality has given me great pleasure."
She froze for a moment. Then she glanced at the humans before looking back at him with pinkened cheeks and narrowed eyes. "Ah, well, thanks. I had a good time… hosting." She yanked the chair next to her out from the table. "Take a seat and we'll start this meeting in earnest."
Headmaster Ambrus cleared his throat and took leadership of the meeting. He thanked everyone for attending and listed three points of interest that would be brought to the table: the coming press conference, the fallout of the aura event, and the future of dog demons in Glinishmore. They had less than an hour to convene and many things to discuss. He suggested Sláine present his report first and with no objections from those gathered, the Master of Public Relations began.
He produced a glass tablet from the leather case that sat on the table in front of him and passed it down to Fuko. She woke it up with a deft tap of the screen and began reading the document he had set up for her. As she did, he informed her of the legal quandary the Academy currently faced.
"It has come to our attention that Sibéal Delma McKay was caught up in the thrall caused by your aura event, Sensei-sama. She alone is leveling a suit against the Academy for an astronomical sum, claiming lost revenue as her flagship store was left unmanaged and several clients missed their appointments. Add to this her failure to film her weekly instalment of Beyond Belief and missing her podcast recording sessions—"
Fuko put up a hand to stop him, finished reading the paragraph she was on, and then glanced up from her prepared speech to ask, "Who in the world is Sibéal Delma McKay?"
The was a few seconds of silence in the room as the elite of the Academy glanced around at each other, their expressions a mix of incredulity and amusement. Sláine cleared his throat and explained, "Sibéal Delma McKay is a mystic who offers predictions, life advice, and societal commentary. She is extremely famous, a household name and a media darling. It is likely you've never heard of her because she only rose to prominence in the last decade or so."
Fuko itched the back of one ear. "I was never any good at keeping track of media personalities. So, you're saying we better play nice with McKay or take a lot of blowback from her fans."
"That is the long and the short of it, Sensei-sama."
"How much does she want?" she asked.
It was subtle. If she had blinked, she would have missed it, but she didn't. Just before speaking, Sláine winced. "Well—,"
Fuko winced in response and flapped a hand at him, halting his answer. "Don't tell me, don't tell me! Pit our legal team against hers—nicely—and then give me a final figure. Handle it that way for everyone who files a suit because of this fiasco. I don't know how I'll pay for all of it, but I will."
"Sensei-sama," Headmaster Ambrus cut in. "No one expects you to shoulder this burden alone. The Academy will handle the reparations."
"No way. I'm paying for this. This was my mistake."
Ambrus frowned deeply. "Allow us to help you."
"You guys are already helping. I'm paying for this," she repeated, eyeing the older man until he nodded in reluctant acceptance. "Thank you," she said and then looked back to Sláine. "Please continue."
Sesshomaru sat and watched the interplay between his future mate and her human followers. The one called Sláine spoke for some time on the number of humans affected by the raucous energies released during their first rut. Fuko split her focus between him and the tablet in her hands. Sesshomaru could not quite follow on their reasoning. Why was it her fault that some mortals had shirked their duties and instead stood outside this building for days on end, wallowing in their cast-off youki? He would have advised Fuko to ignore all these petty complaints, but judging from what she had told him back in their apartment and from her attitude now, he could guess that she would not heed him.
How was it that these humans had been able to sense their coming together in the first place? He had never before heard of mortals being influenced by the mere presence of sexual demonic energy. Yes, they could be controlled to an extent with youki. Possession wasn't unheard of, but it usually took a great amount of willpower and focus. Such things did not happen without intent, and certainly not on the scale that Sláine described. Mortals were typically blind, deaf, and dumb to the auras around them, except for those with reiki.
But, this was a different world. A different Earth. He had already encountered a dozen seemingly unexplainable things today, not to mention he sat in a room with humans who had a power that was neither reiki nor youki. Apparently, the humans here were so different that any stray wisp of energy could compel them.
The meeting turned to the minutia of the prepared speech and Sesshomaru's attention drifted farther from it. This discussion was comparatively quick, Fuko had read through the speech and had her comments ready when talk of legal battles died down. They worked together to correct the details that were wrong and to edit out the information that the general public did not need to know—like what the two dog demons had been doing to cause the aura event, for example. Fuko made it clear she did not want that information out there, no matter how delicately put it was. Then she and the humans began discussing larger plans of how the coming press conference would be handled in other countries and in foreign news outlets.
This is where the presence of the other humans revealed its necessity. The Mistress of Wards and her juniors were leaders in the spiritual community with many connections to sects outside of Glinishmore. The Master of Swords had military connections in countries abroad, the Master of Beasts had served as Ranger Commander for large swaths of the Great Below in several countries, and the Master of Shadows was the leader of covert operations and intelligence for the Academy. He often worked closely with Wyva, Mistress of Technologies, to mine information from the internet and occasionally partake in organizationally unsanctioned bouts of "unauthorized access" to foreign computer servers.
Conversation began to flow freely up and down the table and Sesshomaru allowed himself to fade further from the words that were said. Though Fuko had the least to add, seeing as she was in the least amount of contact with foreign leaders, the elite of the Order of Disciples deferred to her in every instance, even going so far as to interrupt themselves in order to clarify some point if she gave the slightest indication of not understanding.
Again, the demon lord could not help but notice their seeming devotion to her. The longer the meeting went on, the more comfortable the humans became. The scent of their fear had faded to light, effervescent hints in the air, a mere memory of what it had been before. It was only when they looked upon him that they became tense. This was the natural way of things. Both he and she were to be feared, they were predators. And yet, their manner with her was completely relaxed.
Sesshomaru did not believe the difference was only in how she treated them and in her friendly demeanor. That alone could not overcome the instinctive fear that humans felt when in the presence of demons, just as a gentle wolf could not overcome the fear of a rabbit. It would die of fright before becoming accustomed to a predator's company. It must be Fuko's many years of interaction with them that had trained the humans of this world take ease in her presence.
Headmaster Ambrus cleared his throat. "Pardon me, it is now four-forty. This meeting must adjourn soon, but we have yet to discuss your plans, Sensei-sama. Is it still the case that you plan to stay until next year?"
"Ah, well." Fuko blinked, visibly changing mental gears from speculating on the sharp rise of monster hunter licenses since the fifteen-fifties. "We hope to be gone by summer. By fall at the latest, no—" She glanced apologetically at Sesshomaru. "Definitely summer."
"So, a year, then." The headmaster gave her a measuring look. "You said before that you planned to stay in your apartment for the duration, but you did not mention teaching any courses. You know we would love to have you as an acting instructor again, for as long as you are able."
She laughed. "I hadn't planned on getting in front of a class, but now I need the money, don't I?" Then Fuko paused and glanced again at the daiyoukai seated on her left. "Actually, I'll let you know later, once Sesshomaru and I have had a chance to discuss it." She slid her chair back from the table and stood. "Are we all done, then?"
The elite of the Order took their que from her and stood as well. The meeting was brought to a hasty close. They only had a small amount of time to prepare for the coming press conference and Sesshomaru's big debut.
In the south-western suburbs of Whitestone Perch, fifteen minutes from the center of down town by sky-rail, there was a mid-sized town house that was deemed "the perfect fit for a nice middle-class family" by the realtor who had sold it to the current owners. And it was. Three bedrooms and an office, two and a half bathrooms, a spacious entertainment room, and a full kitchen and dining room—there was just enough room and the family had settled into fill all of it.
The adults of the household were not home at the moment. The children were there, unsupervised as they so often were after school while their mother and father finished up their respective work days. The eldest teen, a willow-thin girl, sat on the rug in her darkened second-floor bedroom with her laptop computer resting on her crossed legs. The glow of the screen was reflected in her thick glasses.
Aoife Jardine feverishly scrolled through the most recent posts on the ASPDD main forum. The live feed page was populating with several new posts every second! It was the same on every news website and social aggregate. Everyone was talking about the Aurapocalypse, celebrating it, worrying over it, speculating on what it could mean. This was the most exciting time in the history of her membership of the Association for the Study and Preservation of Dog Demons. She couldn't imagine anything better.
And then a post loaded up with a title in red, screaming, HIGH ALERT font, the kind only the forum administrators were allowed to use. Her undulating index finger froze. Even as new posts flooded in, this one remained pinned to the top. She clicked.
2ND DOG DEMON! NEW DOG DEMON ANNOUNCEMENT! 5PM PRESSER LEGIT! FUKO TO SPEAK! PREZ/JR. PREZ ATTENDING! LIVE NEWS FEED, LINK BELOW!
Her body tensed as she read the short post. She clicked the link in the body of the announcement, lamented the milliseconds it took for the streaming website to load, and then groaned as an advertisement for Power Blast soda started to play. Inexplicably, there was no flashing "SKIP" button for her to hit, only a timer in the corner of the stream counting down from 120 seconds. She couldn't bear to wait that long.
Aiofe bolted up, scattering her bowl of snack chisps in her hurry to get down stairs to the home assistant computer with its big projection field. Even though she ran faster than she ever had before through the hall and down the stairs, she kept her laptop level in front of her as she opened a chat window and typed furiously with her right hand, messaging all the demonologist she knew from school.
Down the stairs and through the open threshold on the right, there was a large family room with small, intimate black couches, hardwood end tables, and center console. Scenes of gore and swordplay were projected across the screen, and though the volume was low, the wailing of a guitar rift still raucously serenaded the bloodbath.
The boy sitting on the floor before the screen looked over his shoulder when he heard her enter. "What now? I already turned it down!"
Aoife didn't even look up. "Tele, switch to GTWX news."
The image projected on the center console changed to a shot of rolling green hillside and a smooth male voice waxed poetic about the perfect cup of coffee from the best brand on the market. The girl gritted her teeth, restraining a scream at the sight of another ad. No one was answering her instant messages. They were probably already watching the news broadcast.
The boy, her younger brother Brady, gave a shout of outrage. "Hey, what the hell?! Why—"
"Go away," she hissed, eyebrows furrowed. "Tele, volume up."
"I was watching that!"
Another commercial came on, this one for a luxury personal aircraft. She bared her teeth in a wince. The stream on her laptop still hadn't started. "Come on, come on…" When Brady shouted her name and scrambled to his knees, she turned on him with a nasty glare. "Shut up! Shut up or I'll tell mom and dad about your little girlfriend!"
"You—!" He fell back, but then defiantly shot her a rude hand gesture—one she didn't see since she had already turned toward the console. "She's not my girlfriend!" he snapped. "Why are you even down here? Why can't you just watch in your room?"
A few seconds past after he shouted those questions, just long enough for him to realize that his sister wasn't going to answer, much less look away from the screen, and then the commercial break ended and GTWX news station returned to its scheduled programing.
Aoife dropped to her knees with a hair-raising squeal as the news cast focused in on the press gazebo on the grounds of the Academy of the Order of Disciples. Headmaster Aiden Ambrus stood at the podium and began to speak, but the girl could not hear him over her own screams and the rush of blood in her head. Behind the him, along with other elite members of the Order, stood Fuko the Inu Youkai, her idol. And beside her, on her left and slightly behind her, was a tall humanoid creature of mind-rending beauty and inhuman grace.
"What the hell...?" Brady gasped and then hissed out a long exhale as he dropped fully onto his butt, eyes focused on the breaking news. The banner scrolling across the bottom of the screen blared the words. "SECOND DOG DEMON! ANOTHER DOG DEMON HAS BEEN REVEALED! LIVE BROADCAST!"
The teen boy blinked wonderingly at the words, reading them again and again and then eyeing the fae-looking white-haired dude standing next to Fuko the Inu-Youkai. The new demon looked just as unreal as the news felt. Some part of Brady was still pissed about his sister changing the channel on him—and he was nowhere near as obsessed with Fuko and demonology as his sibling was, but even he couldn't ignore historic events as they unfolded right in front of him him.
The press conference continued and the girl finally stopped squealing as the headmaster finished his introductory remarks and stepped back from the podium. The camera immediately switched to a close up of Fuko and that beautiful, beautiful creature beside her. It panned to follow her as she walked toward the podium. That new, strange person walked with her and stood by silently as she began to speak. Both teens went still and hung on her every word.
As Fuko introduced him to the shifting herd of humans, Sesshomaru let his gaze sweep over their gawking faces and their flashing and glowing recording devices with icy derision. Since the first moment he had stepped out of the conference room in which the meeting had taken place, he had been subject to the collective gaze of the human race. They had lined the halls. They had leaned around corners and peeked over railings. As he had walked down hall after hall and crossed paths with mortal after moral, they had gathered and followed in his wake like a swelling tide moving toward the front of the build. Even though they kept a wide, wary berth around him, their presence was like the first wave of a tsunami arching over his head, hanging in the air just behind him.
At first, he was irritated with these insolent mortals. He was no oddity on display in a zoo. He was to be feared. And he had made plans to make them fearful. The daiyoukai let nothing show on his face or in his posture, but if one of the herd had approached him then or dared touch him during that first long walk through the Academy of the Order of Disciples, he would have cut the fool down without hesitation, along with anyone who stood near to them.
But Fuko had slowed her pace to walk at his side. She had taken his hand and had played with his claws as they moved. She had done nothing else, not even look up at him, but this contact proved enough to calm his growing agitation and shift his focus.
In truth, he was accustomed to being the object of intense interest or even fixation. Since he had been introduced to the noble society of the Western Lands as a boy, others had watched him as if he were a dangerous, unknown creature. The circumstances of his birth, being the heir of the great Inu no Taisho and the foretold son of the powerful and well-connected Lady Kimiko, had set him apart from others since the start.
After Fuko's touch, he had settled into grim resignation. Now as he stood beside his intended and listened to her prepared speech, he was resigned to the hundreds of eyes that examined his every inch and detail, trying to comprehend the whole of him. They did not matter, they were only another trial to endure on this bizarre misadventure his chosen had brought him along on.
Sesshomaru turned slightly and watched as she talked to the assembled masses. Though distracted somewhat by her pink lips and her odd clothes (and those intriguing straps he fully intended to experiment with once they were alone,) he eventually noticed something strange about her mannerisms. She smiled and talked to the crowd amicably, but she did not seem completely at ease. There was no playful lit in her voice, no flashy, unnecessary hand gestures. In fact, her hands were folded in front of her and her smiles hid her teeth. For a moment, he thought that this difference came from the fact that she was not speaking her own words but those churned out by something she had called a "PR machine," but that was not the whole of it. She was holding back, suppressing the idiosyncrasies and the vivacious energy that were uniquely hers, and she was also hiding her claws and fangs, the features that were overtly predatory.
This was a new wrinkle he had not anticipated and it skewed his sense of understanding. There were different levels of comfort between the humans outside the Academy and the humans within. Had she spent her childhood among these humans or not? How was it that, in this land in where she was well-known and celebrated, she still felt the need to hide her nature?
Fuko felt his gaze and glanced him then. When their eyes met, she smiled with just a bit of her usual fire and fang, but then she turned back to the crowd and it was gone.
She felt the need to hide from them but she revealed herself to him without thought. Sesshomaru blinked slowly, wondering at the strange warmth spreading through his body. Her words about their relationship came back to him in a rush. He was unafraid of her, she was unafraid of him, and so she could be herself, her whole self, with him. He found upon brief reflection that he felt the same way about her. It was so simple a truth to realize and yet it filled him with pride. And something else. This warm… was this… admiration he was feeling for her? What else could it be?
How ridiculous, he thought, flicking a lock his hair over his shoulder in annoyance. There were squeals of astonishment from the assembled reporters and cameras flashed frantically in an attempt to capture the graceful movement. Sesshomaru ignored them entirely, glancing again at his chosen female out of the corner of his eye. There would be no good in letting her know that he admired her. He had no doubt in his mind that she would tease him about such a confession and he had already resolved to hold her at a greater distance than he had before. She affected his state of mind too easily already. He would have to find some way to stifle this warmth he felt.
"In closing, I offer my sincerest apologies for disturbing the peace of this city," Fuko said, bowing as much as the podium allowed. "Sesshomaru and I will stay at the Academy for less than a year, so in the scheme of things, our impact will be small. As small as it will be, we also hope to overcome this rough start and leave a good impression. We want to thank all of Glinishmore for welcoming us and allowing us refuge here." Then she straightened and offered the cameras a small smile. "Now, I have time for a few questions, if you all have any?"
There was a mad scramble among the humans and many calls of "Sensei-sama!" "Lady Fuko!" and "Fuko-sensei!"
Fuko leaned forward, searching, and then she pointed. "You there! The gentleman from the Whitestone Star."
The others went quiet with only moderate grumbling. The designated man looked down at his notes briefly and then looked up and projected his voice in manner of one well used to shouting over crowds. "Lady Fuko! We still have not heard a cause for this aura event. Can you tell us what happened in your apartment to cause such strange energy signatures to spread over the city?"
"Uh. No. Next question!"
Without missing a beat, voices rang out over the crowd. "Sensei-sama!" "Lady Fuko!" "Fuko-sensei!"
She pointed. "You there, from University Review!"
A young woman waved her hand like an eager pupil. "Fuko-sensei, Fuko-sensei, when you say that you cannot give us a cause for the aura event, do you mean to say you don't know what caused it?!"
"Nooo. Of course I know what caused it, and I won't let it happen again. Next quest—"
"Sensei! Please, a follow-up!"
"Uh." The demoness looked pained. "Go ahead."
"Why are you withholding this information from the public!? Don't you think we have a right to know?!"
"If it were a danger to the people, I would certainly tell you. But, what happened was not dangerous. It was confidential. Next question! You, the lady from GTWX!"
"Lady Fuko, our resident monster expert at GTWX, Dr. Lomán MacDermott, has likened this aura event to the mating thrall caused by the red-clawed cave bear! Is this an adapt comparison!?"
She froze and her ears flattened to her skull. With huge eyes, she sputtered, "I wouldn't, uh, I wouldn't compare—"
Another reporter shouted out from somewhere in the crowd, "Are you and Sesshomaru lovers!?"
There were cries of intrigue and outrage from the press corps—some seconded demands to have the answer to this question, others simply cried out in shock, and a loud contingent shouted down the very idea that anyone would baldly ask Fuko the Inu Youkai such a salacious question. The presser had become a cacophony of voices.
"L-listen! Listen to me!" Fuko put up her hands for silence, and after a few fraught moments, she got it. Only then did she continue. "What happened in my apartment was private! End of story! Aside from the fact that I will do everything in my power to keep it from affecting the public in the future, there's nothing for you all to know about it! Now, if this line of questioning continues, I'm going to have to cut this short. Understand? Yes? Alright, next question!"
"Lady Fuko!" "Sensei!" "Fuko-sensei!" "Sensei-sama!"
She pointed wordlessly.
"Fuko-sensei!" The teenage boy she had pointed to at random stepped forward. "DuBlx, 20 million subscribers. Junior President of the ASPDD. Despite speculation, our official records show that you have never been involved romantically with either a man or a woman—we have to know, is Lord Sesshomaru your first lover?"
Over the press corps' shouts and gasps, Fuko smacked the podium and snapped, "Stop calling him that! He's my boyfriend! Stop saying 'lover!' Who says that!? What's wrong with you people?!"
The cries of the reporters changed into a strange baying as their collective focus shifted. Even those who opposed this line of questioning could not contain their interest. Her outburst was recorded and broadcast across the entire district instantly. Minutes from now, it would be posted on the internet for millions worldwide to dissect and analyze word by word.
Realizing this, the demoness mumbled, "No more questions," and then scrambled over to Sesshomaru, grabbed his hand, and lead him off stage. The news cameras panned to follow their exit, not bothering to capture the action at the podium where Headmaster Ambrus shouted over the wailing herd of reporters, attempting to regain control of the press conference.
Back in that mid-sized town house in the south-west suburbs, Aoife Jardine squealed wordlessly and jumped up and down while her brother sat in stunned, slack-jawed silence. In households like this one across the district, people of all ages were taking this news and processing it with a rainbow of emotions. In apartments, hotel rooms, on trains, in cafes, anywhere there were screens tuned to the news, humans reacted. Disbelief. Excitement. Hope. Fear. Rage. They gasped, they grimaced, they punched walls, they hugged pillows.
But interestingly, overwhelmingly, teen girls across the globe had one reaction. They were squealing, squealing, squealing. Exotic. Brooding. Perfect. Suddenly Sesshomaru was the name scrawled across their hearts.
With one television appearance he had become, in a phrase, a teen heartthrob.
— _ — _ —_ —_ —_ —_ —_ —
Next time on Westward Bound-
Chapter 28: Fans and Foes