A/N: We're getting there, we're getting there.
Chapter 39: The Properdin
"Are you okay?"
Kagome's head snapped up at the sound of her mother's voice. She offered her a quick smile before nodding her head. "I'm just tired."
Truth be told, she had not been able to sleep peacefully lately. Sesshomaru's attitude towards her had been strange lately - to say the least. He was questioning everything, he asked questions and made statements he never would have done before. He was dragging her towards a slippery slope, one she had been desperate to avoid. He said things she wished he would have said before, but now it was too late for her to hear them. At this time, she was forcing herself to focus on things that were attached to a certainty - like her daughter. She had long dreamed of the impossible and it had never come true in the past. Why would this be any different?
"Natsuki is keeping you up?" It looked more than simple tiredness, but - she could only go as far as her daughter was sharing. In this case, she had to assume tiredness was the cause of the expression on her features.
"Yeah." Natsuki and her father. But that part was left unsaid.
"I don't mind staying over if you two need a break." Thing were now quiet and calm back at the shrine. She was mostly by herself all the time since her children were grown up and had lives of their own. And… well, Kagome and Sesshomaru had a lot of issues to work through for the moment. Her other child, Sota, was in his teenage years, and it meant he was not home quite often. The same way she had done with Kagome, she was allowing him to live his life.
A nervousness spread through Kagome's chest as she tried to meet her mother's glance. She did not know why but looking at her filled her with a sense of shame and its spread within her bloodstream, forcing her cheeks red. It was a strange thought to have since her mother was the most understanding person she had ever met, and she was not one to pas judgment. Despite that, she felt as though it was unbearable to stare her in the eyes. She let out a sigh before allowing her head to dip backwards while the air exited her lungs.
"If you want to sleep, I can take care of my granddaughter."
"I'm okay." Should she tell her? Should she bother her mother with a situation that could not be helped? "I'm confused."
Her mother met her eyes but did not say anything, allowing her to continue.
"Do you think Sesshomaru could…could he have… could he be…" What was the right word? What did she want him to be? Most of all, what did she need him to be?
"Human?" her mother offered.
Human was not the right word either, it was not the one she was looking for…because human would never be right. Sesshomaru was not human, and she would never want him to be human either. As a matter of fact, she was fairly certain that she could not be with a human. How could she? All the time she spent time travelling sent her into a spiral that changer her to her core. She was not even sure if she fell under the category of a human. Miko powers aside, she became different. To top it all off, her mating to Sesshomaru had turned her into something else - someone who could lived through the hardest struggles.
"Could he feel?"
Other youkais felt - very intensively - but he did not seem to be plagued by feelings. Why was it? Why was he so different?
"Yes." The answer came out without skipping a beat. Sesshomaru came to her in the past and he had questions - and from that moment on, she never doubted his ability to feel.
"I'm not so sure." Why was her mother so convinced of a truth that she could not see? Was she not the one who actually knew him? "What if he can't?"
Her mother offered her a shrug, as the worst case scenario was not that bad in itself. "Will you leave him?"
"If he can't feel, if you never try to see if he can, will you leave him?"
"No." That was insane at this point. Her entire life was tied to his for eternity and he was now her child's father. She was not going anywhere, so this was going to be her life no matter what. She would not risk hurting her daughter and she had no desire to turn her own life upside down. They had made it work this long, and there was no reason to turn back now.
"Then what do you risk losing?"
Her life could get worse and more much complicated than it already was. Instead of peacefulness, she would experience an awkward, and tense life. She would rather not do anything and keep the peace between them than to try something that was going to ruin her entire life. They had found a middle ground that worked for the both of them - why should they take that away? It was best to keep things as they were this time. She did not want to get her heart broken; it had happened enough in the past. There was no logical reason to ruin everything - whatever she could gain… it was not enough. It was bet if she held it all in until it all disappeared. That way, eventually, it would all settle and they would move on from it.
"I don't think it's a good idea."
"He might surprise you." Whatever Sesshomaru had shared with her in the past, she would not reveal. However, she could urge her daughter to ponder upon the matter. She would never make her life decisions for her, but - she could be happier than this.
Surprise her? He had already surprised her in the past, but this felt like a big leap for him. And yet, she kept on being surprised by the amount of faith her mother had in him - as though she knew something that she was not sharing. "We'll see."
It was the best she could do at this time. She felt like past experiences had caused her to be burn and hurt and she was would be careful from now on.
Only time would tell.
You are doing something right.
That was it. That was all she had said to him prior to vanishing from his sight as though nothing had taken place. It was strange. It had been a quiet statement, one uttered in passing with a few barely audible words that she said prior to her departure. He did not know what to make of it. He did not even have the slightly clue as to what it referred to actually. And now, he was unable to inquire about…he was simply left to ponder and wait. Usually, Kagome's mother was a straight forward woman. Why was she suddenly leaving a trail of inexplicable clues?
The soft sound of Kagome's voice finally attracted his attention. She came into view, her eyebrows raised, her short hair tousled and confusion shining in her pale eyes as she tried to gain his attention.
Had he been so out of it?
She arched an eyebrow, startled by his lack of organization. Sesshomaru was not one to be easily destabilized. What had him so engrossed that he was unaware of his surroundings? Then again, his guard was more down around her than most. He had learned to trust her and usually he seemed at ease when she was present. Although, this was peculiar for him.
"Are you hungry?"
He shook his head.
She knew that her food was not the most appetizing meal in the world, but - then again… he was not one to eat much in the first place.
"How was your day with your mother?"
"Fine." It brought up a lot of questions and not a many answers. Even now, she simply felt awkward at his side. She was not quite sure what she was supposed to tell him and how to face him.
There was something off - unKagome like - about her answer. There was a tremble in her body and a waver in her aura as she moved around and made a point to avoid all eye contact with him. Was this a type of situation where one was expected to push the issue or was it best to not touch the subject? He had already offended her once when he tried to approach the sensitive topics of feelings and he did not wish to make that kind of mistake again. But then it seemed worse to let it go and to leave it be. He did not like this, he did not like caring enough for this to bother him. He did no want to have it affect his life; he had predicted that this would happen.
"Are you well?"
…And he asked anyway. Why did he do that?
"Is it because of our conversation the other night?"
Why did he act so nonchalant about it?It was not an easy type of conversation to have and he approached it as though he was speaking about the weather. Already her cheeks were turning red and she could feel the flare of her own aura. She had shut down this conversation previously, but it seemed that she was giving the impression that door was still open.
"You do not wish to speak of it."
She felt like an immature child who was in presence of its parent. He was willing to talk about it, lay it all out in the open but she was not able to do the same. How could when she was the one with the most to lose? He would survive her, he would survive anything; he was Sesshomaru. He had made it through the downfall of his kind, through the centuries and through a changing world. Her and her life? It was nothing but a mere speck in the grand scheme of life. Even if she lived longer, she would never have a life expectancy that would match his.
"I do not believe I know what you are referring to?"
"Why now?" she tried to clarify without using too many words. She did not want to touch the subject.
"I do not know. There is no specific reason for it."
"Then why talk about it?"
"I was under the impression that it was something that you desired?"
It was and it was not. She did long for normalcy, for a real relationship and for something more than a make belief marriage. But, she also wanted authenticity, something that was going to last. Why should they put themselves in a difficult situation?
"Past tense," he noted.
"What do you want me to say?"
She was defeated; she felt like she was stuck in an impossible situation. He wanted to giver her something that she had wanted for a long time… but she was keeping herself at bay. Both her mother and him did not seem to understand why she was shying away. Was she the one in the wrong? Why was she seeing things in a different perspective than everyone else? Was she making it more complicated than it had to be? She did not know anymore.
"There is nothing I wish for you to say. I have misunderstood some of our previous conversations." It did not matter how much time he spent with her or other humans. Emotions baffled him. "I believed you desired more."
"I do." It slipped her.
"I am confused." She wanted it - then she did not. And she did not wish to talk about it either - but now she did want it. What did she expect him to do? And how did she expect him to understand? This was the hassle he was attempting to avoid by staying away from feelings.
"So am I," she said as she slumped over the counter. "Why now?" she asked again. What happened to saying it when she was pouring her heart out to him? What happened to the moment when she revealed her heart's desires? This could have been easier and simpler.
Then again, nothing in her life was ever simple.
Why did she expect this to be any different?
"If you wish for me to no longer bring up the topic, I will respect your wishes."
But she did not think it was what she wanted. "I don't know what I need - or what I want."
"Do you want something from me?"
Everything and nothing. She did not know. "I want a good life, I want to have it all - if I could." She sounded selfish. And she should not be. Already, life had given her more than she could ever hope for and it was enough. She never thought she would have a child of her own, a life, a husband… "What do you want? Why do you want it? What happened to the Sesshomaru that showed up in my hospital room?"
"I have changed. I am a different person."
He was. He did not want to be, but he was and now here they were. Despite his desire to remain who he was, he knew that years and events could transform a person. He was no longer the youkai she had originally met five hundred years ago. He had a different life than the one he had envisioned for himself; he had a mate, he had a child. They were things he never thought he would have and he did not think he would be this person. He fought it every step of the way, and he even held back to try to limit the damage done to their lives. And now he was not.
"Why doesn't it bother you? What if you change your mind?"
Her life never had certainty, it was always ominous. At some point it had been filled with time travel, and at another time it had been about death. She had never been in control of it. Could she risk it again?
He was not a fickle creature and he found her comment to be offending. He was not someone who simply threw words around without meaning them - he had more honor than that and he thought it was a quality she recognized. He would not do this for the sake of pleasing her, and he would not say it simply to lie. He also appreciated organization and structure in his life.
"I do not lie or pretend."
He was not wrong; he had always been upfront with her, tellings her things as they were and not once did he sugarcoat reality. But if that was the case, why did she have such a hard time believing him?
"I know." There was no apology but regret was laced with her voice. "'I'm scared." She was the problem - not him.
She had too much to lose and she was not wiling to lose it.
"What do you fear?"
"I never thought I'd end up in this situation." It was Sesshomaru; the guy who almost melted her to death with acid. Who would have thought that they would end up together? Who would have thought that she would end up loving him and having a heartbreak over him? This felt like she was in another universe. "I mean, you and me? That's crazy."
He let a faint chuckle slip him. "It is." Never in a million year did he think he would tie his life to a human - especially not her. She had been his brother's and never had he even considered her. His disgust for humans had been at an all time high when they had first met.
"What am I doing? What are we doing?" She needed him; he breathed life back into her and she needed his comfort and solace. He showed her how to stand on her own two feet again and she was grateful for that. She had ocnisdered that her feelings might be rooted in her gratefulness but she knew better. Her heart was aching for him. "Could we do this? Can you do this?"
Her hear was beating so fast, it was making her nauseous. She had been fighting against this, she had been holding on to the good positive things like her daughter. Would she really consider throwing it all out of the window?
"I do not know what I am capable of providing." He knew that he had changed and he had developped in ways that he did not think were possible. However, he could not guarantee that he could provide her with the same thing a human could. But he would keep the same kind of honor as before; he would never disrespect her. How could she wanted out of this was up to her.
She knew that - and she did not expect him to be someone that he was not. After all, that would mean that he was no longer himself. But she feared that she might become too human for him. She had been known to live and experience her feelings fully and she did not know how he felt about that. Up to this point, she had merely been half of her old self, but she remained unsure of how much more healing she would do. Her duaghter was bringing out a better ide of her and she was thriving to improve herself for her sake.
"And if it does not work?"
"I can hardly see this as a possible outcome." If he did not consider her as someone with whom he could potentially stay forever, he would not have done the mating or have had a child.
"If it doesn't," she repeated.
"We would deal with it at that time." He leaned his head backwards slightly. "If this is to be something that is complicated or unwanted, then perhaps it should not be."
She was put on the spot, she was demanded more than she could offer at this time. She could finally closed the door as she had wanted, or she could take the perch he was giving her. Which of these choices was the right one? She did not know. Neither felt like the good answer.
Luckily for Kagome, she was rescued by the familiar sound of her daughter's cries. This was something she could not ignore and relief released the tension in her shoulders as she immediately began to head in direction of Natsuki's room.
"I got her."
These were the last words she spoke before disappearing from Sesshomaru's view.
This was more of a struggle than a facilitation.
The awkwardness was going to kill her.
Kagome was well aware that Sesshomaru would not approach the topic again. If she wanted this to move forward, she now had to be the one who talked about it. She had managed to keep herself busy all day, taking care of her daughter and doing a few house chores. Sesshomaru had stayed out of her way, leaving her alone for the rest of the day. Now however, they were about to find themselves in the same confine space; their bedroom. She had managed to sneak in a shower, and now she was standing in front of the door like an idiot. The white towel hung in her hands while her damped hair stained her yellow shirt with water droplets. All she had to do was go in and the matter would be resolved.
Her hand was shaking as she wrapped it around the handle, hoping to make the least amount of noise possible. Unfortunately for her, the wooden door creaked as she made her entrance. The noise attracted Sesshomaru's attention as he slowly lifted his eyes from his book. He had been feeling her presence on the other side of the door for quite a while now, but he had not expected her to come in. Her own uncertainty had been irking him as he had been able to feel it. Now that only thing left to determine was if she was intending on speaking with him or if she was going to resume the silent treatment. Some of her recent interactions made him unsure. Did he want to proceed? Did he want this kind of complicated behavior?
She briefly met his eyes before focusing her glance on the ground. She quietly closed the door behind her and then, took small steps as she headed for the bed. She grabbed the edge of the blanket with two fingers before lifting it, and sliding her body under its warmth. So far, so good. Sesshomaru had long ago re-directed his attention to his book and she thought it was best this way.
A distance had been kept between them ever since the birth of their child - even before that. There had been a few moments but nothing that had led to something concrete. It was best this way - if not, it would make everything messy. She had let herself become weak to him a few times. Ad, usually, the situations had ocurred out of both of their controls. Was it a repress need, or was it life messing with them?
She could not do this anymore, she could not be this anymore. She had to rectify the situation. She turned around, her chest filled with as much courage as she could muster and she stared at him. His movements stilled and although his eyes remained on the book, she could easily tell that she was the one holding his attention now. "Sesshomaru…" but there were no right words to say what she wanted to say.
Instead she moved her arm forward, on the other side of his body, and leaned towards him. He was somewhat trapped between her and the bed, the edge of his book digging into her stomach. From that angle, he could easily see the top of her breasts dangling in front of him, right at the level of his eyes. He finally tilted his head backwards and tried to search her face for the meaning of the situation. He did not find anything. Instead, she completely closed the distance between their lips, and pressed her mouth to his, pouring her emotions out of her. She felt him fumble, she sensed as he pushed his book aside, carelessly putting it on the night table. His hands rose to her hips and he held them down.
He had almost given in not too long ago. If it had not been for the cries of his child, he would taken her that night. But now she had just put their daughter to bed, there were no interruptions to come; it was just the two of them. And for the first time in a long time, Kagome was coming to him, not the other way around. Nobody was in a state of sleep, or weakness; they were both consenting adults. The tips of his fingers touched her cold skin, lifting her shirt. She inhaled against his lips, her body molding against his. She felt fuller than the last time he had touched her. Knowing this was an uncomfortable position that she would be unable to maintain due to her fleeting strength, he took matters into his own hands. He wrapped his arms around her small waist and used his position to flip her on her back. Now, he was the one over her, his long hair draping around her face like a curtain, shielding them both from the outside world.
"What is this?"
"I'm not sure yet," she whispered against his lips.
His presence alone was making her dizzy, her skin being set aflame. Could she ever pull away from him?
There were words she could not speak, and there were things she knew he would never utter to her. It did not mean he did not think them, it did not mean he did not feel them, but there were words that would never pass his lips. She knew that - he knew that. What was she trying to prove by bringing his body closer to hers? His lips were torn from hers, and found their way to her neck. He pepper the length of her throat with kisses, sending tingles throughout her whole body. When was the last time she was touched? When was the last time she felt him? She could not even remember. His fingers felt like silk as they glided through her skin, applying just the right amount of pressure as he explored her curves.
She held her breath while throwing her head backwards, giving him a better access. It was not too long until he was nestled between her legs, the warmth of her enticing him. He could already sense how wet and ready she was - but that had never been the problem for them. Her shaky hands moved to his backs, her fingers slowly hacking at the fabric of his white shirt. She wanted to feel his skin, but she could not. Unconsciously, she began to raise her legs and then slowly wrapped themselves around of his waist, closing the distance that was left between them.
"Are you sure?"
His voice was a mere whisper but she heard it. She offered him a nod as an answer.
She was confused, and she needed him. She wanted to know how much she could feel, she wanted an answer that she could not have. This might fix nothing, but she needed it. Had she not already answered the main question? No matter what, it was too late to walk away. And that applied to the both of them. She would not be able to leave him behind and he would not be able to shut her out. She was in his head and he was in her heart. It had happened while they were not looking, unbeknownst to them, and now it could no longer be taking away.
His lips were like fire on her skin, and she was reminded of the first time he had taken her. It had been messy, it had been right and wrong at the same time. She grabbed at his shirt until his midriff was showing, allowing her to palm at his skin. He seemed to understand the signal she was giving, and he tore himself away from her long enough to discard his shirt. Once he touched their bodies together again, she was able to feel his warmth. Her fingers tangled themselves in his long locks, a shiver traveling from her chest to her toes.
Already, he was fumbling with the waistband of her sweatpants as they slowly made their way past her rear. The cold air wrapped around her skin and she arched into him. His hands felt everywhere, his mouth was tasting everything and her heart was ready to explode. She could feel tears pooling the corner of her eyes but she ignored it. She felt ready to burst from the inside but she kept it bottled in. This is what she wanted. Not his hands on her, not his mouth teasing every inch of her skin; she wanted him close to her. At some point, she had fallen and she was unable to detach herself from him. She was her own person, she had learned to grow, she had learned to heal, but he had become a part of her.
He was her mate, he was the father of her daughter. How was she to ever walk away from him? How could she not fall? How could she not simply take whatever was offered and make the best of it? Her heart ached, and fear ran through her but - but it could not be stopped. As her lips met his, she found herself lost within him. Even if she tried to push him away, she would not be able to do so. She did not have that inner strength. She only knew how to fall.
Sesshomaru was able to notice her distraction, but since she kept caressing him, kissing him, he initially thought nothing of it. His body was burning, his temperature was rising, as though he had found his remedy. He had needed this; a closeness. There had been a few close calls, and most of them had been initiated by him and the fact that he had been unable to control himself. Lack of control was not something that he usually displayed. Then again, when it came to Kagome many aspects of his personality were different. He was not the same person.
"I do not know what I am capable of."
"I know," she answered breathless.
"And if it displeases you?"
He used to think he brought up the topic because of her - because she needed it, but as he was beginning to feel dizzy from her scent, he was not convinced. Did he need it?
"I don't know."
"You do not know?"
"I don't know, Sesshomaru," she repeated, a few of the tears escaping her. It was the best answer she could give. They had gone into all of this without knowing where it would lead them. At first, they did not even know if it might work. They even thought they could avoid touching each other - what a big mistake that had been. All of it had been out of their control and yet she regretted nothing. She held on to everything she had and she was grateful for her life. When she had learned about her cancer, she had lost all of the control. Ever since that moment, she had been craving for it but - but she had been wrong. She did not need to know, she did not need to be in control.
Life was taking her down a path.
She did not know the destination, but she had lived through enough to almost hope it would work out in the end.
Her heart ached for him, his touch was making it soar. She had not wanted to get hurt, she did not want to lose everything when she did not even know if she could come back from it. But she was too far gone to pull away. He was dangling it right in front of her and she was hopeless. The only thing she was able to do, was to take it. If she got burned… she would regret it but there were no other options for her.
She would fall.