A Visit with Mother

Disclaimer: I do not own the characters of Inuyasha.

~oOo~

It had been a week since Kagome had come back from her time, and the group had made some progress – there was a credible rumor that Naraku had been seen in the east, and so the band of spider hunters set off in that direction, eager to kill the villain and finally end this long quest.

Sango, Miroku, and Inuyasha had watched with awed eyes as a strange sort of bond between the little miko, and her protector, began to become noticeable. Up to that point, the relationship between the two had seemed on the level – a miko, and the being protecting her because she needed it so they could finish their quest.

But that wasn't what was on display now.

Now, there was a certain intimacy between them – as though there were secrets shared, and knowledge only the two of them knew.

For Sango and Miroku, it was the strangest thing they'd seen.

For Inuyasha, it was a nightmare.

But there was a third player here, that no one knew about – though that was about to change.

~oOo~

Satori, Sesshoumaru's mother, had been watching her son for weeks, ever since he'd left her palace after she'd brought his little girl child back from death. She could see the changes in him, and wondered at them – just exactly what was this miko doing to him?

It was bad enough that her son was showing so many signs of being like his father, but now – for him to be protecting a miko, traveling with her, and naming her pack? Promising to stay with her for both of their long lifetimes? She was pretty sure he hadn't realized it, but he'd basically declared himself as her husband-to-be. Vows like the one he'd made to her weren't made lightly by youkai.

After all, vowing to stay with her for the rest of both of their lives? That was a bond that wouldn't really allow for other possible spouses to exist in – it was an intimate vow.

She would admit it – as she'd watched some of the goings on within the group, and especially the interactions between her son and that miko, she'd become curious. Very curious. Because her son was right when he named the girl wise... despite her youth.

That in itself was enough to rouse her curiosity – humans rarely held such wisdom – and never the young ones. After observing things between her son and the miko for several weeks, she decided that perhaps a visit was in order.

She would meet this miko who was changing her son face-to-face, and see just what the attraction was – and whether her stubborn son had yet realized the consequences of the vow he'd given her.

~oOo~

Sesshoumaru growled slightly as he caught the first tendrils of his mother's youki beginning to reach out for him, and ordered the rest of the group back as he went out to meet her. He would be certain before he let her near that she was no danger to his pack – or the others that weren't his pack.

Everyone watched, fascinated, as a huge feminine looking inu descended from the sky, and Sesshoumaru took on his inu form to greet her – and also let her know that he was willing to fight her if she chose to attempt to harm anyone under his wing.

But it appeared as though she had no intention of attacking, as she simply settled to the ground before him, and then, in a swirl of energy, folded herself into her humanoid form.

She waited patiently enough as he studied her, then finally also assumed his humanoid form. "Mother. What is it that you do here?" he asked bluntly.

Satori was about to answer when her attention was caught by something behind him, and he turned, though he didn't even need to, as he could feel the miko moving up to stand just behind him.

"Sesshoumaru-sama?" she asked, her voice sounding so innocent and sweet as she questioned the circumstances. "Is this your mother? She's really beautiful."

Satori's brow rose as she looked at the young woman standing behind her son so trustingly, then up at Sesshoumaru. It was clear in his stance, and the warning light in his eyes that he would not tolerate her harming this girl... just like the other one – the little one.

But this girl wasn't little – it was clear that, though young, she was at an age for marriage, and was perfectly fertile, to boot. Yes... this situation was much, much different than his simple caring for a child, such as the other one was.

"I am his mother, girl, my name is Satori," she said, in her usual lofty tones.

Kagome stepped cautiously around Sesshoumaru's still watchful form and studied the female before her with clear, knowing eyes, and suddenly, Satori felt like the child – there was an ancient light in her gaze that Satori had only seen once before – in her former husband's eyes.

She moved forward slowly, non-threateningly, to lift the girl's chin. "What are you, really, child?" she murmured, feeling awkward even calling her that. "For certain, though you carry the air of one fresh to the world, you are not – you are something... new."

Tilting her head thoughtfully as Satori let her chin go, Kagome said, "Does it really matter what I know, and don't know? We all grow and learn, through many different lifetimes, supposedly-" there was a knowing twinkle in her eye for a moment, "-and each person's knowledge is unique to them, ne?"

Satori shook her head in bemusement, then looked at her son, who was now studying the girl, as well. "Leave it to you, Sesshoumaru, to find the one, simple ningen that isn't really a simple ningen. She is a cipher, eh, my son? And you were always fascinated by puzzles. I begin to see why you could not resist this one," she said lightly.

She was rather taken aback when the small girl's eyes narrowed, and then she said, "Oh! I have a bone to pick with you, Satori-sama. I can't believe you taught your son that comfort has to be earned! That's a horrible way to go about teaching a child!"

There were gasps from every person there save Sesshoumaru himself, who thought to himself wryly that he should have expected such from her, as Satori stared at the little miko with surprise in her eyes.

"Oh? You criticize my raising of my son, miko?" she asked haughtily, and Kagome nodded.

"Yes! That was the saddest thing I've ever heard in my life. Love, comfort, compassion – those are things that cannot be earned. If they have to be... then they aren't genuine," she said sadly, staring at the beautiful, but cold, inu woman with sorrowful eyes. "To have any meaning, comfort, love, and compassion, have to be given freely, of the person's own will, otherwise... well, it would be the same to place a spell upon a person to coerce their affections. I can't help but feel sorry for someone who thinks the way you do – it means you were raised that way, too, and that's just heartbreaking."

The entire group of people were now staring at Kagome in awe – to take a female like Satori and reprimand her? Satori herself was gazing at the little miko in awe mixed with consternation – she hadn't expected this little visit to commence thus, and it left her floundering a bit.

And then Kagome struck again, as she reached out and took Satori's hand and gently led her to a place to sit down, the inu female now looking bewildered as she followed Kagome without an argument.

Kagome turned to the rest of the group and asked for certain things to be done, and within minutes, a small fire had been made, and water fetched, and Kagome was making tea for everyone. Satori seemed fascinated with some of Kagome's modern effects, and Kagome pulled out her special box of teas, offering the woman the chance to pick the one she wanted to try.

Satori seemed intrigued with the tea bags, as in her era, they did not have such, simply placing the leaves in the cup, and drinking it leaves and all. Eventually, she chose a most aromatic mandarin tea.

With a happy smile, Kagome prepared everyone's tea, knowing which ones were everyones favorites – though she also had Sesshoumaru choose his own tea, as he enjoyed variety more than the same tea every day.

And that was how Satori found herself sitting in a clearing, drinking tea (hers was delicious, she had to admit) with her son – and a group of ningens. This had been the strangest day of her life, so far, but it was entertaining, for sure.

After the tea had been consumed, and polite conversation taken care of, the inu female stood and bid the group goodbye. After a last, lingering look at a smiling Kagome, she said, "I came to speak to you, Sesshoumaru, about a matter of some importance."

The inu Lord, who had been silent through the whole of his mother's visit, nodded, and led her away from the group, far enough away that no one would be able to hear.

She started with a question. "How was it that the hanyou was polite to this one? Usually, he is most uncouth."

"The miko keeps him in his place," he replied. "Did you not see the sharp, warning look she cast him in the beginning?"

Nodding thoughtfully, she pondered that for a moment, then passed over it, and on to the next subject.

"You gave your vow to the girl that you would always be together, and named her as pack," she stated. "Do you realize, I wonder, the ramifications of what you have done?"

Sesshoumaru's brows furrowed slightly, a questioning light in his eyes. "What do you mean?"

"The vow that you gave her, my son, is tantamount to a declaration of intent to wed her. Did you not realize? With a bond as close as you have forged with this little female," she said, eyeing her son's now shocked countenance, "do you really think that you could marry another? Any other female coming into your pack to be a mate to you, would have to challenge the miko to combat for alpha female, which is what the miko is at this time. Your little priestess would have to fight to the death."

Stunned, Sesshoumaru ran over everything she had said, and realized his mother was correct. That is how it would happen if he chose another as a life-partner.

"And would you tolerate other males that might want the miko to attempt to steal her from you?" she asked leadingly, her hunch paying off as her son instantly snarled his rage at the thought.

"They would be disemboweled and torn to shreds before I would allow another to steal someone I have claimed as pack," he growled.

Satori noticed how he worded his sentence, and laughed inwardly – he still did not realize fully what he had declared with his vows to the miko. There would be no other mate, there would be no other attempting to court the miko away from her son.

With a light sigh, she flicked her fingers at her rather obtuse son, and smiled. "Still have your head in the sand, Sesshoumaru. But your attempts to hide from the knowledge you already carry will not last much longer. Perhaps then you will remember my words. If you do not desire to be tied to the miko as a mate, then rescind your vow now, before it is too late."

And with that, she turned and once more took on her inu form, disappearing rapidly into the afternoon sunlight, leaving her son behind her with roiling thoughts.

Rescind... my promise? This Sesshoumaru does not go back on his word...

But... the miko... as a mate? A wife? I would not follow in my father's footsteps, I swore long ago as I watched him with his kept mistress. As much as Inuyasha believes I hate him because father cheated on mother, it wasn't that easy. Mother is a cold woman, and I did not begrudge father seeking warmth elsewhere. But she could not live as an inu did – she was ningen, and father attempted to live as a ningen for her. That was his folly, for you should not have to change who you are for another.

And then a certain conversation came back to him from some few weeks ago - when he'd taken his little pack to the ruins of the palace that was a constant reminder of his father's mistake.

"This one may walk as a ningen, but he is not one. Inuyoukai males do not normally live in palaces. We are spirits of nature, and of the land."

But then why did your father..?"

"This palace was built for him to live in with his ningen mistress – Izayoi. She was a hime, unsuited for a life lived off the land. She could not exist without her ningen comforts."

"So... where did you live?"

"When still a pup? I lived in the palace of my mother. Inuyoukai bitches are more like ningens – they prefer to live easy. When I became older, I traveled the lands... just as I do now."

"Eh, not all ningens are afraid of living outside, ya know. Sure, some of the comforts of home are nice, but... I've found that whenever I am home, I miss this place. Of course, I do like to be in out of the weather..."

He studied the miko still patiently waiting for his return for several seconds after recalling that conversation.

Perhaps... I am not so much like my father as I thought. For Kagome is certainly no Izayoi.

Still... what mother suggests... it is ridiculous. I have no need of a mate, so there is no conflict with who is alpha female of my pack.

And with that, he turned and made his way back to his pack, ignoring the tiny voice inside that insisted that he was being a blind fool.

~oOo~

A/N: Kagome seems to confuse youkai a lot, so I figured, why would it be any different for Sessmom? Looks like Kagome's got a new youkai fascinated by her...

As for Sesshoumaru – well, he's admitted he cares for her... but he's far from giving in to anything else. Nope, he doesn't want to know how he cares for her... it certainly isn't in the same way as Rin. He's trying to bury his head in the sand, just as his momma told him.

And now the readers from ff . net are caught up with Dokuga!

Amber