Chapter 8

A light breeze swept the tall grasses of the darkened meadow softly, a barely-there hiss of sound that no one was around to hear. The stars lay cold and still above while open areas that lay away from the shelter of the trees were bathed in the cool wash of the almost full moon.

Suddenly, a bright flash of white burst into the wide clearing, moving through it so swiftly that it didn't even disturb the feeding rabbits and mice before it was gone once again – only to be followed by another white flash of light some seconds later.

Sesshoumaru raised his muzzle and let out a deep bell-toned howl, then listened intently for the answering howl from ahead so that he could gauge Kagome's proximity. When it came, he snarled – she was not too far ahead of him now, and it wouldn't be long before he caught her.

He'd been shocked when Kagome had transformed herself into a female inu after he'd told her the basics of a normal inu mating, but the moment she'd done so in such a challenging manner his patience had abruptly run dry and he had decided then and there to commence the mating. Which began with a chase... she'd led him a merry one so far, he had to admit – he suspected she was cheating somehow, moving so fast, but it mattered little – sooner or later he would have her, and that would be that.

It appeared it would be sooner, though they had traveled a very great distance from his palace on their run and he would need to fly them back to it. He was determined that the actual mating would be conducted in his palace, in what would always now be their rooms. For their first time... they would be in their human forms. If she wanted to mate in their inu forms at another time he would be quite happy to oblige, but for this first time... he had plans, things he wanted to do to her that wouldn't be possible in his true form.

He passed through a bit of forest and right over a large river, and then once more pushed past the tree line and onto a huge plain; with a triumphant growl he caught sight of Kagome's fleeing form not too far ahead. She appeared to finally be tiring just a little, and he had to admit he was getting a bit tired of running, as well. He was certain this was one of the longest chases any one of his clan had endured – they'd run across a great deal of the entire island, and were long since out of the Western Lands.

Gathering his youki he pushed his power into his body, increasing his speed to begin the final push of the chase; slowly, bit by bit he crept up on her and prepared himself to pounce. Once in position, with her sleek body just barely before him he gathered himself as every muscle in his body answered his call and pushed off into the air, coming down on her perfectly, his jaw just at her neck as he clamped his fangs around the extra skin and fur that lay there, protecting her delicate flesh. With a deep snarl he demanded her submission, and after a quick attempt to dislodge him, when it became evident that he had too good a grip and she was well and truly caught she went limp and let out a low whimper, submitting as he'd demanded.

Flushed with triumph – and other things – Sesshoumaru released his hold on her and stepped back before releasing his energies and taking his human form once more. He didn't have to say a word to Kagome; instinctively understanding what he wanted she also slipped back into what was her true form, and he watched, fascinated as she did – it was a different process entirely than his own transformations.

When he changed it was all done through his youki, and there was a large explosion of his power when he did so. With Kagome it was more of a simple blurring of her form and a swirl of light, and once you could actually focus on her again, she was in another shape. There was little power used, apparently, and it was a quicker transformation.

"Tell me, miko," he said, the word 'miko' coming out mockingly as it always did now whenever he used it. "How did you figure this-" he gestured at her vaguely, "-change out?"

She knew what he meant. "It just kind of occurred to me earlier – if I'm supposed to be change, what more basic change is there than changing your own form? I wanted to get to the floating islands in your garden, and so I decided to try it and see if I could. It was actually surprisingly easy, even to change into things I hadn't ever thought of before – like a hawk."

"Hn. I am curious. When you spoke earlier of the fight with the black inu, you said that you knew that it would be to the death because of the instincts running within you. Do you mean to say that when you change, it is not just the visible form – but that you actually become whatever it is you have chosen to take the shape of?"

Kagome nodded, her own brow furrowed in thought. "Yes. Apparently the change of shape is absolute. So when I became the hawk earlier I immediately wanted to go to sleep, since that type of bird is diurnal. I had to fight the urge."

"One wonders what other surprises are hiding inside you, Kagome," he said, eyeing her curiously as he took in her words. "Will I ever know everything there is to know of you?"

A nonchalant shrug was his answer. "I don't know. Does it matter right now?"

He canted his head to the side in an oddly adorable way – at least to Kagome's eyes – and demurred. "No."

An almost awkward silence fell for a moment as he just looked at her, and she fidgeted. "So... what's next?" she finally managed to ask as her cheeks darkened with a pretty blush. She couldn't believe she was asking him that – or that she was having to prompt him.

A flash of movement and then the world dipping and swaying around her was her answer as Sesshoumaru swept her into his arms and launched himself into the air. "We return to the West."

Her eyes narrowed; was he becoming even more taciturn than he usually was? "And then?" she asked pointedly.

He glanced down at her with a cocked brow. "We mate, woman."

Yep, he was becoming more taciturn. "Is there a reason you're giving such bare bones answers? I mean, you've never exactly been loquacious, but this is getting ridiculous – especially in these particular circumstances," she retorted, her fingers coming up to tighten in his hitatare.

A nearly inaudible sigh escaped his lips; of course there was. He was busy imagining things that were probably better left unspoken, and she was ruining that with her seeming need to speak.

"What is it you wish me to say, Kagome?"

She glared up at him impatiently. "Well, an explanation of what next to expect would be nice! After all, you did say this whole-" she waved her hand around in the air in a vague manner meant to indicate the mating, "-thing could go several different ways. I'd like to know what's coming, you know!"

Fair enough.

"We will return to the palace, where our first mating will be conducted in these forms. After the first time-" a clearly knowing, perverted smirk crossed his face, "-we can do anything you wish to do, woman. But for the first time, there are things I wish to do to you that cannot be done in my true form."

The blush deepened and her eyes fell; she looked everywhere but back up at him, to his everlasting amusement. "Oh."

"And now you are the one becoming taciturn," he pointed out, mocking laughter clear in his voice.

"Don't laugh at me, Sesshoumaru, or I'll put a crimp in your plans by putting this whole thing on hold," she said warningly, glaring up at him fiercely, despite her red cheeks and her continuing inability to actually meet his eyes. She was giving the hoary eye to his crescent moon, it seemed, and he rumbled against her, more amused than he could ever remember being. She would certainly liven up his life, there was no mistaking that.

"Do not count on it, little one. You are the one that brought this on yourself at this point in time; I had not planned on mating you quite this quickly, but the way you challenged me earlier and then taunted me sealed your fate," he countered, amusement still in his voice though there was now a warning edge to it.

Choosing to ignore his words completely she shivered, then looked plaintively up at him after another shiver swept through her. "I'm cold," she said, and it was more than obvious she was waiting for him to fix the problem. And he would, too – after all, she was now his to protect... in every way, even from something as insignificant as a little cold air.

Without a word mokomoko moved from his shoulder to wrap around her and then squeeze lightly, and Kagome practically purred as Sesshoumaru began releasing his youki in dark waves to thrum against her soul; it was like being caressed by a million tiny fingers and she went limp in his embrace, too relaxed to continue talking to Sesshoumaru's distinct pleasure. It allowed him to get back to what he had been doing previously – planning out his next moves, a step-by-step guide laid out in his mind to everything he wanted to do to the wily female he wanted with such... desperation.

Already he was hard and wanting, and that fact didn't bother him as he'd thought it would. Though it spoke of a loss of control, which was something he'd always hated before he couldn't really complain; it was a lesson he'd finally learned – nobody was perfect, and if she was his only weakness then so be it. After all, if he had no problem controlling himself with her then she would be no different than any other female he'd ever come across, and he had no wish to be tied for eternity to a female he could ignore so easily. That was why he'd never even considered taking a mate before now – he'd never come across a female that didn't basically bore him to death, and he refused to spend any amount of time tied to a female that did nothing more than put him to sleep – or left him with the desire to gut her, as many truly had.

She was such a pleasurable weakness to have, he mused as he glanced down at her. Even just holding her as he was made his skin prickle with awareness and his body respond ardently to the touch of her soft, delicate flesh. He was absolutely certain that his own skin was a thousand times more sensitive than it normally was just because he was holding her and the sheer need he felt to be touching her was heightening his desire even more. It was a circle, vicious and perfect in its grip – and he had no desire to escape it – it felt magnificent to actually allow his body free reign to feel so very much for the first time in his entire life.

For so long he had kept himself apart, and nothing he'd come across in all the centuries since his birth had tempted him to wish to feel anything more than the anger he'd carried towards his half-sibling. And he hadn't. So when Kagome had taunted him, daring to stand against him in his father's tomb that very first time, the anger and curiosity he'd felt towards her had shocked him. Nothing else besides his vendetta against his father by way of his brother was important enough to engender any feeling whatsoever – but her. That fact had fed his anger – but also his fascination.

And of course, he'd always sought power. When she'd proven her power there at the end, finishing Naraku off in such a spectacular fashion that had been the final straw, so to speak – he would find answers to his questions about her, so that then he could file her away in his mind and forget about her.

It hadn't turned out that way. He smirked to himself. No, instead she'd snared even more of his attention, and before long she'd done what no other being had ever done – she'd incited his desire.

Sesshoumaru wasn't the type to deny himself anything he wanted; there was no reason to, after all. And the moment he'd accepted that he desired her, the little miko who was no miko, he'd accepted the fact that he would mate a female that was not youkai with absolutely no remorse whatsoever. He answered to no one but himself, and if he wanted this female that seemed so human and yet was not then he would take her, and anyone who questioned his choice would either be ignored, or if they actually attempted to stop him from taking the female he desired, would die. Simple as that. He would tolerate no interference whatsoever.

The first clue that something was wrong actually came from the stiffening figure of Kagome; wondering why his little female, who had just moments before been so relaxed she'd almost been limp was now stiff and unwieldy in his arms, he tightened his arms around her.

"What is wrong, Kagome?" he demanded softly.

She didn't answer right away, but just as he was beginning to become agitated she said, "Don't you feel it? We're almost home, but there's someone waiting for us."

He frowned, not sensing anything. "Who?"

Surprised eyes flashed up to meet his questioning ones, and she shook her head. "You can't feel him?" she frowned to herself. "Then why can I? That makes no sense."

"Kagome," he growled, becoming agitated as he began to feel something... off nearby, though he still couldn't get a sense of who was there.

"It... it feels like your father, Sesshoumaru," she whispered with large eyes meeting his stunned gaze. "I remember him, you know, from when we fought Sou'unga. It feels like him."

Immediately he searched the area around them as he settled back to the earth, straining every sense he had and wondering why Kagome could feel what he could not. Perhaps because of her connection to kami, or her own amorphous and unknowable power – and the fact that his father was still in the other world, though he was no longer really dead in the true sense?

He opened the portal and then stepped inside – only to to see that Kagome had been correct as he was confronted with one he hadn't thought to see on this side again, since he'd said he would be remaining on the other side.

The question begged to be asked as his sire glanced at him and then turned his attention on the woman in his arms. "Why?"

He was forced to wait as his father's gaze seemed to be taken with staring at Kagome; she returned his look with curiosity – and awe. After a moment a large smile brightened her face.

"Inuyasha really does look like you!"

Sesshoumaru relaxed minutely as his father smiled at Kagome's cheerful announcement, though he was still so surprised that his aggravation that their mating had been interrupted – yet again – hadn't quite reared its head yet.

"Father?" he prompted, his voice edged with something that finally tore his sire's attention away from Kagome. "I thought you had chosen to stay on the other side despite Tenseiga's mercy."

"I was overruled. Kami came to me there and told me that things always happen for a reason, and that Tenseiga hadn't returned me to life for me to stay in the world of the dead." His eyes grew pensive then. "And I found myself suddenly yearning for things that the dead do not. I wanted to smell life again, rather than the death to be found in the underworld; because Tenseiga resurrected me I once more had the senses of the living – and their desires, as well. Even without the interference of the kami, I do not think I could have stayed there for long."

The younger daiyoukai couldn't deny that he was glad to have his father returned in some ways, but in other ways... "What of the Western Lands, then?" he asked as he allowed Kagome to slide to her feet, suddenly uncertain of what the future was to hold; he no longer had the ambition to fight his father and kill him in a battle for supremacy, but he wasn't willing to give up what he'd held and even expanded for the last two hundred years, either.

At that, his father turned his full attention to him and held him in a weighing gaze. It was a familiar look to Sesshoumaru, and it took him back to the many times as a pup he'd been pinned by that same gaze. A bit of nostalgia pinched at his usually well-hidden heart – one that was more open at this time because of his pending mating.

Which reminded him...

Before he could say anything else his father spoke, commanding his attention once more.

"I am not here to take control of the lands back from you, Sesshoumaru. You are doing an excellent job with them, and I am pleased with your performance. No... this time I am free of that responsibility, free to do whatever it is that I want to do. I am, however," he smirked at his son, "still your sire, still alpha. Do you wish to challenge me for it?" he asked.

"As long as you stay out of my business, then no, father, I do not. But you must understand, I run my own life, and refuse to answer to anyone else."

The Inu no Taisho merely nodded as his son marked his personal boundaries; he could say little, since he had done the same with his sire once he had reached his maturity. It was normal for all pups to grow up and become somewhat independent, despite the pack mentality.

"Where is your brother?" he asked, his eyes drifting over to a clearly fascinated Kagome. "I can see I have interrupted something-" he chuckled at her vivid blush, "-and should take myself off."

"Your sense of timing is exquisitely awkward, as usual, father," Sesshoumaru said blandly, "as Inuyasha is also in the midst of taking a mate. I daresay, since he has been at it longer, that if you were to show yourself now he would probably attack you in a frenzy for interrupting at such a crucial time."

"I see," he said, plainly pleased. "And his mate?"

"One of mother's attendants. Hiroko."

"Ah, yes, your mother," the inuyoukai murmured, a certain look on his face intriguing Kagome. "I should go see her, I think. It would be only proper to greet her."

Sesshoumaru inclined his head. "Enjoy that, father. She has not changed at all. She is just as caustic as she always was."

A dry expression on his face the Inu no Taisho took to the air, heading for the outside world. "I did not think it had, Sesshoumaru – it is ingrained in her to be so. Blessings be upon your mating, my son. You could not have chosen better."

Chosen? Hardly, father, since I was already fated to be her mate by the kami. He shrugged that thought off and picked a silent Kagome back up and took to the air himself, flying serenely back up to the palace floating above them.

"I'm glad your father approves of me," Kagome said after a moment, still too surprised by that little visitation to say much else.

"Sophistry," Sesshoumaru snorted, not meeting her eyes. "Since he is the one that politely informed me that I was born for one purpose, and that purpose was to be a 'prize' for you. The kami gifted me to you for doing your duty," he finished, a certain distaste for that fact in his voice.

Kagome blinked, then blinked again, and then stiffened just as he landed and set her down. Moving back away from him, she stared at him in horror. "W-what did you say?" she whispered. "You don't really want me, you are just doing what you've been told you have to?"

She was taken aback at the harsh bark of laughter that met her words. "Come, Kagome – when have you ever known me to meekly go along with fate or the kami? I make my own choices. Yes, father pointed out that my purpose in life was to be by your side. But if I had not wished to be, I would have had no compunction about telling them all 'where to get off', as I overheard someone say in your world."

Inappropriate or not, Kagome couldn't help the laugh that tore from her throat at his words, though she was far from happy at this point in time. It was clear she didn't quite believe him.

"If the gods chose you as my... 'prize', as you say, then they would have made sure to make the idea pleasing to you, Sesshoumaru. It would have done little good to put a couple together that could not stand each other," she murmured, withdrawing from him. "You haven't chosen me of your own will, but by the will of the kami. I can't accept you on those terms... it's not right for them to force the issue in such a way, either. You should be free to choose for yourself."

Amused at her answer because it had been the same as his he shook his head and took her hand, leading her into the confines of the palace. "At first I said the same when father told me. But he pointed out that just because the kami know the choices that we will make does not mean they made them for us." He flicked a quick glance at her over his shoulder, noting her mulish expression. She was being stubborn... "Had the kami no place in this matter at all still my desires would not change. So the kami knew we would make a match. I do not care. It simply means that you are perfect for me, and since I already think this what the gods intended in this situation means exactly nothing to me at all."

Trust Sesshoumaru to trash the gods as having no say in anything when it comes to him, Kagome thought wryly, allowing him to tug her into the palace without resistance, even though what had been said still lay like a bad taste across her tongue. Despite the fact that she could understand his words there was still something distasteful to her in that the gods had any part in such a subject at all. Still, there was nothing she could do about it and so she shrugged her distaste off and turned her mind to other things.

Of course at such a time there was only one place for it to turn, and Sesshoumaru visibly stiffened before her, tension tightening his shoulders and his grip on her hand as arousal coiled off of her body and beckoned to his. Little did she know that he was seconds away from picking her up and flying through the palace to reach their rooms all the faster.

"Unless you wish to be taken right here in the halls of the shiro, Kagome, you had best think on other things," he growled warningly as her scent spiked again. He cast a scarlet-hazed golden glance at her over his shoulder, the heat simmering in the look enough to knock the air out of her lungs.

Oh, dear gods, she thought, unable to look away as he continued to stare at her over his shoulder while still leading her along through the halls with unerring accuracy. He looks like he'd like to eat me alive with just his eyes. Her body shuddered and her eyes slid to half-mast, her imagination supplying her with a very naughty vision of him doing just that.

It was not very surprising when he turned on her and grabbed her up into his arms, just as he'd warned her, because she was completely unable to stop those wicked thoughts from crossing her mind and within a few, blurred seconds they were facing the doors into their chambers. She barely had the chance to blink and recognize the doors before they were inside, those same doors sliding closed behind her with a finality that made her breath hitch with fearful excitement.

She clutched at his shoulders for a moment, her head spinning as he set her down on her feet; she looked up and met his heated, molten gaze and swallowed hard at the sheer amount of desire that he was looking down at her with. In all her life she had never expected to be looked at with such demanding need, and her flesh pebbled and she shivered as his eyes roved over her slowly and languorously, those eyes darkened and sensual promising all sorts of unspeakable pleasure just waiting to be had.

No words were spoken; none were needed as they came together slowly, her eyes falling closed in order to savor the feel of his demanding lips as he engaged her, unerringly hitting just the right spot to cause her to open to him without pause. The kiss was hot, wet, and urgent as the simmering passion between them exploded fiercely. Kagome couldn't help the long, low moan that sounded from deep in her throat as she clutched at him, pulling herself closer to his body mindlessly. He swallowed it, swallowed her breath, deepening the kiss that much more as his hands swept down her back and molded her small form to his much larger one.

Despite the differences in their sizes she fit perfectly to him, every soft, rounded place on her body matching to his hard plains and edges as though cast from the same mold.

It was a perfection only to be found by those that had truly been created for each other – as they had.

Her tongue dancing with Sesshoumaru's and running the length of his fangs with passionate abandon Kagome moaned her pleasure to her lover, unable and even unwilling to hide her reactions from him. She wanted him to know how he was making her feel, just as she wanted to know how she was making him feel. To her everlasting pleasure, Sesshoumaru was not a silent lover as so many males were. He was half feral already and very vocal with it as she caressed his tongue and fangs with her own tongue and swept her hands over his shoulders, down as much of his back as she could reach, and down his arms as well as his magnificent chest and tight abdomen.

But his clothing was in the way of her explorations, her need to feel his flesh against her hands making her rip impatiently at his hitatare and sash with a displeased little snarl that Sesshoumaru found absolutely adorable as he pulled away from the kiss, the need for air finally forcing him away from her lips. Seeing her irritation and understanding its cause he pulled away from her entirely, cherishing the small whine that came from her then as a sign of her need for him. With no ceremony he pulled his hitatare away after ripping off his sash, flinging them carelessly off into the room somewhere followed swiftly by his kosode, leaving nothing but his now-loosened hakama on his body.

Kagome's eyes were immediately drawn to his waist as his hakama lay low on his hips, revealing much even as it hid even more. His arousal was more than obvious, the silk of his hakama molding to his hardness lovingly and emphasizing his immense size. But rather than being frightened by it as another, more experienced woman would have been, she was simply fascinated by his body – far too much to pay attention to anything else.

He was beautiful.

No, she shook her head absently as she stared with wide-eyed wonder at the daiyoukai who was standing proudly, holding still almost breathlessly so that she could look her fill, beautiful doesn't even begin to explain it. I don't think there's a word for him. His beauty could only be of the gods. Kagome felt very small and insignificant then – but only for a moment, as her eyes caught the markings tracing around his hips to curl suggestively towards that certain part of him that would soon be driving her to heights of pleasure she'd only ever dreamed of in the deepest and loneliest parts of the night. At those times, when the world was sleeping around her and she was the only one awake, her mind would turn to what it would be like to feel the touch of another on her body. And she had always wanted to find out – at the hands of the very male that was watching her reaction to his body with a satisfied growl that spoke volumes of his pleasure in and need of her. It made her feelings of inferiority fade away, leaving only thoughts of pleasing him in her mind.

Eyeing those stripes with a suddenly watering mouth and the wicked desire to taste them Kagome didn't stop to even think, she simply followed that desire; falling to her knees, her tongue met his hot flesh and with scarcely hidden need she licked him. A relishing sound broke from her throat as the taste of him washed over her tongue. She barely noticed Sesshoumaru's shocked hiss at her bold move, too busy savoring the taste that could never be mistaken for anything other than him. Nothing else so perfect could ever exist in this earthly realm.

Change incarnate I may be and yet there are things that I would never change, not for anything in the world, and he's definitely one of them, she thought as she trailed her tongue hotly down one curving stripe. But she didn't get the chance to do anything further as she was suddenly yanked away and tossed onto the futon, before being covered by a hot – and completely nude – body. She didn't even have the chance to blink – or protest. She found that she was also now naked, bared to her lover completely. How did that happen so fast? she wondered vaguely, though the thought floated away before she could even really notice it.

She pouted, looking up into his blazing eyes. "I wasn't finished," she said, the taste of him still coating her tongue and driving her sense of taste wild.

"Oh, but you are," he breathed as he swooped down and took her lips, forcing them open and sending his tongue deep into her mouth, growling as he found the taste of his own body there. Her and I together taste divine like the ambrosia of the gods... and it will be even better when I finish combining us... He pulled away after a moment, waiting for her to open her eyes; when she did he shivered at the sleepy, heavy-lidded look she sent him.

"You are very forward for a virgin, woman," he said, even more hotly turned on at the realization. Apparently the normally timid, frightened and uncertain behavior of virgins had grown annoying to him. Kagome was... anything but normal in the best of circumstances, however, and where most probably would not like that, he certainly did.

"I can act timid if you want me to," she said huskily, "but it would be an act, because for some reason I just don't really feel that way."

"I would not have you cloak yourself in pretense, Kagome – it certainly does not suit you," he said with a punishing nip to her bottom lip, before beginning to map a path of painful pleasure across her flesh with lips and fangs and tongue that soon had her forgetting whether she was timid or forward, up or down, Kagome or even someone else. Pain and pleasure, poison and antidote all in one... she thought disjointedly as he swept a hand down her side and across her belly and then up to cup a breast. Yes... poison...

"You're poison, Sesshoumaru," she cried out as the mind-blowing and dangerous sensation of his touch washed her away. "My own brand of poison," she finished in an almost tortured whisper as her eyes fell closed and her brow furrowed, a fading echo of her earlier bit of angst over his cold nature and her needing heart rippling the surface of her mind for a few moments. I can't turn you away even without love... I could never turn you away...

Her eyes flickered back open as a fierce and crescendoing growl ripped up from somewhere deep within him and he looked up at her, baring his fangs. "I am poison, woman, deadly poison, but it is far too late for you to escape for you are already infected with the need for me, you are already mine!" A dark, knowing smile widened mobile lips for just a moment. "And by the time I am done with you I will be running though your very veins. Should anyone ever think to shed your blood they will be burned to their deaths by the caustic nature of what it will become once I am through here tonight, Kagome. By the time the sun vanquishes the pale light of this night, all will know that you belong to this Inu Lord, and what the penalty for touching you will be!" he finished fiercely and triumphantly, holding her widening eyes for several long, warning seconds before falling on her like an avalanche and devouring her flesh inch by inch - in ways Kagome's 'til that moment rather innocent mind had never even imagined.

What Sesshoumaru did to her there in that darkened room through the long hours of the night resembled nothing that Kagome had ever heard of. Nowhere was it anything like the soft, romantic couplings she'd dreamed of when younger, nor did it resemble even any dark, sexual act she'd ever heard whisper of in her world. He took her over, took her hard and in ways that reminded her time and time again that while Sesshoumaru may have a human form, he was not one. It couldn't even be rightly called animalistic, because he resembled no kind of mortal animal that ever existed. And it was addictive, the sensations and the pleasure that blended with the most perfect knife's edge of pain as he parted her skin and sipped of her blood in tiny increments before running his tongue over the little slice, making it feel as though he were a drug, spreading pleasure across that same skin he'd just partaken of.

She knew instinctively that no normal human woman that had ever lain with a human man would know what she experienced there through the hours of the night, that only those females who'd had the pleasure and sweet pain of a youkai mate – and only the ones that were close to Sesshoumaru's caliber – would ever know.

For Sesshoumaru Kagome was a feast of delights. Her skin had a perfect, slightly musky but delicate flavor that he couldn't seem to get enough of, and he laved her body like a male savoring a fine meal. Her blood was even more exquisite; like nothing he'd ever tasted before, even with all his years. It was like no human's blood he'd ever known, and it was also nothing like any youkai blood, either. It was heady like fine sake, rich and full-bodied and it sizzled across his tongue with all the fullness of her power, sending pleasure skating along all his nerve endings and shivers down his spine. He couldn't wait to taste it once his poison had merged with it, adding that dangerous and spicy edge to it. It would be like the liqueur of the gods, intoxicating beyond measure – and it would be all his.

The thought spun fire through every nerve in his body, and actually electrified by the thought he felt the sensitivity of his skin increase to almost hyper-awareness, wiping every thought from his mind.

He nipped sharply at her collarbone, a subsonic, low rumbling growl erupting from him as she moaned his name in heady abandonment. It was a continuous sound that Kagome couldn't hear but could feel, and he enjoyed the pebbling of her skin as her body responded to it. Moving down towards her left breast, he stopped just above her heart and without warning sank his fangs into her skin until he found a vein and then began the process of fusing his poison into her system by feeding her the first little bit of it.

She froze as he'd known she would, and pulling his fangs from her after a few moments he lapped up the single droplet of blood that came to the surface before his poison sealed the small wound and headed for her heart. He hadn't told her everything about mating, since some of it wouldn't really change anything with who and what she was. But the concept of 'becoming one' that the humans spoke of was something that they got from the little they knew of youkai mating, and with youkai it wasn't just a concept or sweet words – it was nothing more than the literal truth.

Once the mating process was completed, they would literally be one being in two bodies. Their auras would bind and become identical to each other and their hearts would beat with the same cadence, even their souls would be bound as one – and their blood and power would also become one. The only thing that wouldn't change was their appearances. Even their scents would change, becoming a combining of both of their natural scents. Possibly the most intimate part of the process was the sharing of their emotions, and for Sesshoumaru was one reason that he'd never considered taking a mate.

He eschewed open emotion even more than most of the peoples of this land – youkai and ningen both. Obviously he had them just like all the creations of the kami did, but they were kept under strict and very tight control. He was an intensely private and reserved being, and the sharing of that most hidden and private part of himself was not something he'd ever desired. There was also the matter of trust; in order to share such a part of yourself you had to implicitly trust the one you were sharing yourself with, and he had never trusted anyone at all – let alone that much.

He did trust Kagome, though. And so while he would never speak aloud the words she had so wished to hear earlier, once he had her mated, bonded, and sealed she would not need to hear them because she would be able to feel the emotions she inspired in him for herself. That was why he had not worried overmuch when he'd realized where her mind had gone and why her aura had saddened. Soon enough, they would both be completely exposed to each other, all their strengths, weaknesses, emotions and thoughts would be known openly and shared between them.

Already, as his poison flowed towards her heart he could feel her response to the feel of it inside her – unlike what most would think, in small increments and when done in this manner it was intensely pleasurable and sensual rather than painful or dangerous. She was responding to it even now, undulating beneath him and looking at him with dilating pupils as she began to become intoxicated by it.

"Sesshoumaru," she crooned, eyes falling closed as the intensity built slowly within her, and a dark smile edged his lips as he continued on to tease a furled nipple, running his tongue around the aureole but deliberately ignoring the hardened flesh at the tip of her breast. She cried out, the sweet pain of unfulfilled desire echoing harshly through her voice as he teased her. Arching up, she offered herself without even thinking about it, and after long moments of that teasing as he drew out the painful edge along the sharp pleasure he finally gave her what she wanted and closed his mouth over the nipple, suckling on it in strong draws that knocked the breath right out of her.

So gently that she barely even felt it he once again sank his fangs into her flesh, savoring the drop of blood and once more sending a drop of poison into her as her flesh quivered and pebbled even more strongly. "Your blood laced with my poison is divine, woman," he said as he lifted his head from that breast to move to the other, repeating his torture on that one before also piercing it and feeding it that bit of poison. "The nectar of the gods," he breathed with relish, a satisfied thrill running through him at the thought of always having such an erotic bounty as their combined essences to feed from. The sexual act had never before been so desired as it now was to him...

Kagome didn't respond in words; quite simply she was unable to as pleasure spread through her body from every spot that he pierced and slipped his poison into. She'd never felt anything like it; never imagined anything like it even in the darkest of her dreams. She could literally feel every drop as it spread slowly throughout every part of her system like a warm tide. Little did she know that an orgasm was waiting at the end of it; once he had fed her body all the poison it needed to change it permanently, the pleasure would overwhelm her mind and she would be one of the lucky few that would intimately understand the term 'the little death'.

Detaching himself from the second breast, he continued on, laving her skin with his tongue and at certain carefully chosen and symbolic points, piercing her delicately with his fangs and feeding her more of himself.

The exchange was even however, because even as his poison entered her system, opening her skin with his fangs meant that her power also entered him - giving him the same effect as his poison did her. He was so aroused, more than at any other time in his life. It was exhilarating, like being at the center of a storm and feeling all the power of nature flowing through your body. It enervated him and he needed to hurry and take her, because he instinctively knew that when he finally released it would be unlike anything else he'd ever experienced, and with her he would never allow himself to release outside of her body. His seed would only ever be spent inside her.

He'd never allowed himself to spill inside a female, always he'd pulled away at the ultimate moment, because in his mind such a thing should only be reserved for one's mate – only a mate should receive her male's seed. Females he'd used only for release had never received such an intimacy from him.

Sliding his way down as she moved sinuously beneath him in her poison-drugged pleasure, Sesshoumaru came to her navel and pulled back a little to look at it. A tender feeling passed swiftly through him, interrupting his pleasure-seeking haze for just a moment; she was so soft there, so delicate and vulnerable and he leaned down and kissed that flesh, delving his tongue against her softly and wringing a cry of submission and pleasure from her. That cry was music to his ears and it tugged at his instincts, once more submerging his higher thought processes and immediately returning him to a state of rapidly intensifying need.

Finally he found himself at the point where her thighs met her torso, and with unerring accuracy pinpointed the spot where the femoral artery, pulsing with her lifeblood, was located. With a hiss and narrowing eyes he stared at the blue vein for a moment, his left hand already caressing the exact same spot on her left side. This was a very important spot... and swallowing harshly, he dipped his head and with a deep, dark sound of ultimate satisfaction sank his fangs in, poison already dripping from the tips of them in anticipation.

It was a good thing he'd gripped her thighs to hold her in place; the moment his poison entered her there she gasped and her body convulsed, so much pleasure spiking through her blood that she lost her breath. Sesshoumaru knew it, he could feel it more and more as their blood and power aligned, pulling their souls together as well. The final seal would be when he pierced her left femoral artery, sending the last bit of his poison on its journey to her heart.

It is almost done, he thought with savage and almost frightening satisfaction. Just one more time...

The moment he sent his poison into that last place, both of them convulsed in a pleasure so intense it was overwhelming even to him; white light burst in his mind as he howled bestially, followed swiftly by red fire that swarmed through his bloodstream as her power flowed through him. Finally, blackness descended on him, a blackness that was warm and welcoming. He could feel her there in the darkness with him and wrapped himself around her, finalizing the binding as pleasure swept through both their bodies, giving Kagome her first release of the night. He managed to hang on – barely.

He could tell her core was weeping for him as his mind returned from the darkness, burning hot and spinning more fire through his bloodstream just at the scent of it. As the darkness receded fully and his consciousness returned he moved without hesitation to that place, slowly spreading her open and plunging his tongue deep inside her. A harsh moan combined with a growl was ripped from his throat at her sweet and arousing taste, and it was to that sound that Kagome herself awoke from her very first trip into orgasm.

"Oh," she whimpered tightly as what he was doing to her registered; her fingers gripped the bedclothes beneath her as the cool strands of his iridescent hair brushed against her incredibly sensitized skin. His tongue, warm and wet and just slightly rough sent a chill over her skin, and made her ache deep inside. Instinctively she knew that feeling of emptiness within could only be eased by his body conquering hers and she writhed beneath him in exquisite pleasure combined with that now familiar knife's edge of pain, pleading with him to just take her.

For Sesshoumaru, her begging for him to invade her body with his own and fill her was the most pleasurable thing he'd ever heard. It spread a horrible and wonderful pain through him as his arousal surged and his manhood began to hurt even worse, needing her as much as she needed him. Without conscious thought he ground himself against the bedding, trying to ease the ache for just another moment, just one more taste. As badly as he wanted to finally and forever take her body with his as he'd already bound it to him he couldn't stop tasting her, wanting her taste always on his tongue and her scent always in his nose. Nothing so perfect to delight his senses could possibly exist besides her.

He shuddered as she lifted one leg and ran it along his body trying to get him to move, the feel of her tiny toes brushing his flesh so damned enticing. She made a small, distressed sound as her need rose sharply within her, and for Sesshoumaru that was it. It gave him the strength to tear himself away from her and surge up her body in preparation for finally taking it with his own.

Feeling him moving finally Kagome cried out with relief, her eyes opening and surprising Sesshoumaru with their glow. He had not expected that, never having seen her eyes glow before but it was a fleeting curiosity, the wonder fading as fast as it had appeared. He was too far gone in his lust to really notice anything right now besides satisfying it, and had anyone tried to interrupt them they would have been facing a feral and deadly enemy.

He knew she was a virgin. And while most would have been preparing themselves to go slowly, to attempt to be gentle he was not, because his poison swimming through her veins would only turn the pain of breaching into pleasure for her. He didn't even bother to warn her as he positioned himself to finally and forever conquer the only female on earth that was worthy of him. Reddened eyes met and held hers, and with a savage sound of feral pleasure Sesshoumaru surged forward, taking her body over from the inside out as he announced his conquest to the world with a howl so loud it was probably heard for miles.

For Kagome, the feel of him filling the emptiness inside was a shock. Exquisitely painful while also just as perfectly pleasurable, the sensation knocked the breath from her lungs and every thought from her mind. Every single nerve in her body reacted as though she'd been hit by lightening as he slid forward inside her, the motion seeming one long, hot thrust that would never end. White fire filled her mind surged through her blood and burst in her core, and she rippled around the burning intrusion into her body, wrapping around him and gripping him so tightly he could barely continue moving. The howl that ripped from his throat as he took her excited her, deafening her even as it surged even more pleasure through her, the knowledge that he was so pleased with her feeding her emotional side and making tears fill her eyes.

"Ah!" she cried, her voice rising in counterpoint to his own, though overpowered by his as she arched up into him welcomingly, allowing him to take every bit of depth he could possibly take as her thighs parted even further around him. As the fire swept through her she savored the feel of him inside her, savored the feeling of fullness where before there had only been needy emptiness.

Sesshoumaru shuddered as he thrust forward and her inner flesh gripped around him; he'd never felt anything like it before in his life. Every single inch of her fit completely to him, caressing him in ways he'd never known he could be. He snarled as he finally came to the end of her, his head just pressing against her cervix as his hips came to rest against hers. She was a perfect fit in every way.

"Perfection," he growled lowly, his voice deepening impossibly and sending shivers up Kagome's spine at the arousing sound of it. "So perfect, Kagome," he crooned.

She quivered all over, every inch of her body still electrified and trembling with restless energy as she tried to still her quaking muscles. She was unsuccessful however, as she could feel him throbbing inside her and the sensation sent her heart pounding as his matched hers beat for beat and she realized that everything she was feeling, he was also feeling. She gasped, stunned, as he'd not told her about any of this and managed to look up at him with confused and questioning eyes.

"We are one," he said in response to that question, "our bodies, souls, power, minds and even hearts are one, Kagome." He growled again, this time even lower at the feel of her around him as his mind began to cloud over once more with need and desire, but he fought it off for a few seconds longer to finish reassuring his lover, his mate... his heart and soul. "It is the bond of the youkai and where humans got the phrase, 'becoming one'." A small snarl curled his lip. "For humans it is merely a pretty phrase, but for us... it is nothing but the truth."

As Kagome's eyes flared with light at his words, he could feel the surge of sheer love that flared up and surrounded him in that moment, stunning him with its strength and purity. He'd figured out quickly that she had those feelings for him; Kagome was not one to mate someone just because she was physically attracted. But to feel it was something entirely different from just knowing it, and Sesshoumaru froze as his body and mind was overwhelmed by it.

He could feel parts of himself that he hadn't realized were cold and damaged, even dead, warming back into life with the healing power of her soul, and knew that he was irrevocably changed as she wound her life and warmth indelibly into his own heart and soul. He had told her already that youkai rarely changed but that when they did it was absolute. But even he had not expected what was happening now, and he could do little but stare back into her eyes, both their bodies shivering in reaction to what was happening as well as their painful stillness. It was a sharing beyond time or space, and neither was ever sure afterward just how long they lay like that, bodies joined as one and sharing the entirety of who and what they were between each other.

When it was over and the sharing was complete, both showed differences that would be quite visible to all around them. In Kagome's eyes there was a stillness, an ancient light that had not been there before hinting at the untold knowledge and power that Sesshoumaru contained within him and that he had shared with her.

But it was in Sesshoumaru that the biggest change could be seen; there was now a much more relaxed quality to him and a knowing glint in his eyes showing just a hint of Kagome's more playful nature. He looked down at her with hooded eyes and his lips crashed against hers in a commanding and powerful kiss as he attempted to show his feelings through his actions – feelings that were now freed from their prison in his heart and surging to the surface with almost frightening intensity in an attempt to match the power and purity of hers.

I knew, he thought, almost in shock, I knew of this sharing... and yet... I did not. I never expected something like... this. But then again, I doubt it would ever have been anything like this with anyone other than her. Perhaps it never has been in the history of the youkai race, and I am simply more blessed by kami than any other. Satisfaction surged inside him at the thought even as he battled Kagome's tongue into submission and finally gathered enough of his mind back together to begin moving, his body screaming in agony at the need for friction, for movement, just as hers was.

Her muscles jolted at his slow withdrawal and she inhaled on a shocked gasp as sharp ecstasy ran over her in a huge wave of pleasure, drowning her in sensation. "Sesshoumaru," she moaned into his mouth as he pulled away just a little, nipping at her lips with his fangs and enjoying the reaction as her flesh shuddered beneath him.

"Yes, little mate?" he asked huskily as he settled into a steady rhythm, hard and just marginally fast – for a human. He bent his head and scraped his fangs down her neck, taking a long, decadent lick right behind it as she gave off a quavering moan that excited the beast that he truly was – the beast that was hiding in human skin. When she didn't answer he thrust harder into her, shocking a yelp out of her. "Speak to me, my lover. Do you enjoy how it feels when I taste your blood?"

His tone was dark and rich with power as his eyes actually glowed like rubies, and Kagome's own eyes widened as he slammed into her, a drop of her blood still clinging to one fang. She watched spellbound as his tongue reached up to lick it away. As he did, the most erotic expression she'd ever seen crossed his face, exciting her to no end and causing her core to contract strongly around him.

"Yes," she managed to get out just as he moved, pulling back and spreading his own thighs between hers and forcing her to open further to him. He grabbed her hips and pulled her back into him, her buttocks and thighs now suspended above the bedding and held in place by him as he pounded into her body. "Oh, gods!" she shouted then as he hit something deep inside her she'd not known about, and as her eyes fell closed and she clenched her jaws tightly together she missed the devilish look cross Sesshoumaru's face.

Taking note of her surprised shout and its meaning, he angled his hips to continue hitting that spot inside her, bewitched by how she looked and sounded in her pleasure. He could feel his own but it was distant, hiding behind his need to see her release with him inside her. He needed to watch her, needed to know he was pleasing her and that she was finding her pleasure at his hands before he could allow himself to release, to drown in his own pleasure and forget who he was for a while.

Deliberately slowing down from the driving pace he'd set, Sesshoumaru watched Kagome's face intently as he almost gently pulled from within her, cherishing the pleading whimper that came from her lips as he turned her onto her stomach and then pulled her hips up just enough for him to slip back inside. As he did, she pushed back against him, "Oh, please," slipping breathlessly from her as he slid all the way in and pressed his hips against her sweetly curved backside.

"Please what, Kagome?" he managed to get out as his voice broke on a growl at the feel of her sheath tightening around him in loving welcome. His entire body was so sensitized by this time that the feel of her soft skin against his was painful torture. He needed to release so badly... "What is it you want from me, my Lotus?"

Desperate for release from the talons gripping her with sharp pleasure-pain, Kagome looked up and into wild eyes with a suddenly knowing gleam in her own, and smiled. Reaching down, she grasped one of his hands and pulled it away from her hip, then took one finger and pressed the sharp claw against the spot over her heart that he'd pierced with his fangs earlier just enough to draw a little blood. Then she lifted his hand to his mouth and pressed him to take his finger into his mouth, and without looking away from her he did, savoring the taste of her blood and his poison now mixed as one. "Take everything that you need from me, Sesshoumaru," she said, her voice husky. "Everything that I am is for you."

Electrified by her words and erotic actions her new lover and mate found another source of energy and passion, once again withdrawing from her and rolling onto his back as he pulled her atop him. Surprised for a moment, Kagome seemed to realize what he was wanting from the prodding of their newly established bond.

With a wicked smile that captured Sesshoumaru's attention completely Kagome settled upon him, taking him back into her body with a sinuous shimmy that stunned him – for a moment, and then a dark smirk tilted his lips - he'd known she had such hidden passions... but even he was surprised at just how passionate she really was. She was truly like no other female around, and he was quite pleased with that.

Both his hands sliding up her taut belly he cupped her breasts and played with the tips, watching as her head fell back and she moaned deeply. The pace had slowed and she kept it that way, rising up and then slowly coming down upon him with a peculiar little twist of her hips and clenching of her internal muscles that about blew his mind.

"Faster," he urged her huskily, but she merely smiled cheekily and shook her head, enjoying teasing him and that desperate look in his eyes too much to cooperate.

"I don't think so, she taunted softly, slowing even more.

With a loud growl she found herself flipped onto her side as he once again took control, baring his fangs at her when she looked over her shoulder at him in surprise. This had gone on too long, now - he was in pain with his need and he was done with playing.

Speeding up rapidly even with this slightly more awkward position, Sesshoumaru gripped his mate's thigh tightly and pulled it up higher on his own leg, opening her to his rapid thrusts more. But with an aggravated growl he once again pulled out, that position just not giving him the speed and depth he craved with every bit of his soul.

Yanking her back onto her knees once more he plunged into her grasping flesh with a howl, going hell bent for leather and pounding into her all too willing body as she writhed and pleaded and gasped out her pleasure. Totally out of his mind, Sesshoumaru could barely hear her sweet voice exhorting him, his blood roaring in his ears and blocking out everything but the fangs of ecstasy nipping at every inch of his body.

Kagome was in no better shape than he was, her climax almost upon her as her body tightened up with such fierceness that she knew she would be very sore tomorrow. She couldn't seem to find it in herself to care however, and the thought floated away into the depths of her mind as she was pushed to the very edge of the precipice.

With one hard slam of his hips and a grind deeper into her she fell off that cliff, thrown into the abyssal depths of euphoria as her vision dimmed and then inverted. For several seconds she could even see the capillaries in her eyes as her vision turned - and then her mind shut down, too overwhelmed to cope as she went limp in her mate's grip.

Sesshoumaru felt her reach her peak with an agonized howl, her body gripping his so tightly that he snarled as he pounded into her once, twice, then three times and let himself follow his new mate into the depths, his length so hard that his orgasm actually had a fine edge of pain that he found he thoroughly enjoyed. Held rigid as his body raged in release he howled again in triumph, holding her now limp body up by the hips until his body weakened in his release and he finally finished, falling forward against his mate's back before he managed to catch himself.

Panting and barely able to hold himself up over her he forced himself to turn onto his side, drawing her still limp body with him as his great strength spent itself and he closed his eyes, just so stunned at what had just happened. Rutting some wench for release was certainly not like that, that was for certain.

After a few seconds Kagome stirred; he was not worried, as he could feel her as though she were his own body and he knew that she'd simply passed out in her release. Well, it isn't called the 'little death' for nothing, he thought, a chuckle rumbling from his chest.

He didn't try to stop Kagome when she finally tried to move, instead waiting for her to turn as he could feel she wished to do and look at him. When her still stunned eyes met his he smiled, the look of awe in them pleasing him.

"And now you, Kagome, avatar of the Gods and Change personified, belong to this Sesshoumaru. You and all your possibilities and power are mine - I will never let you go, little mate. I am, indeed, your particular brand of poison."

She stared at him, unable to even think of a reply, her mind still not really functional. But she didn't have to be all there to realize that was not just a declaration – it was a warning.

Poison...

Yes... he is my poison...

And I am his Lotus – deadly to any other but him.

We are... poison and power.