A/N: Short chapter. A "bridge" if you will, to head into the last part of the story which will start it's ascension into an ending we're all waiting for. Yay.
Next update will be after finals, December 6th I think.
The alarm clock went off at six but when Kagome tried to move, Sesshomaru's grip around her middle tightened. They had fallen asleep on the bed, over the covers, as she'd spooned into his protective embrace.
"I'm just hitting the alarm," Kagome whispered as she yawned.
"I know," Sesshomaru said firmly, his eyes still closed.
Kagome's fingertips walked to the edge of the bed until she reached the snooze button and smashed it brutally, silencing the room.
She sniffled for a second, trying to shake off some sleep, "I have to sit up, Sesshomaru," she said in the same whispered voice.
"Why?" his face tucked into the nook of her neck.
Sesshomaru's eyes opened and he leaned upwards, supporting himself on one elbow, "What flight?"
"Paris," Kagome stretched out and wiped her eyes, "We leave in," she glanced at the clock, "three hours."
Sesshomaru used the arm wrapped around her middle to turn her around and face him, "They leave in three hours," he corrected.
"What do you mean?"
"You're staying," Sesshomaru hurriedly kissed her and stood from the bed, "Don't pack anything," he felt around his pockets then fished out his phone.
Kagome sat up to watch him, "I'm coming back—don't give me that look—I am coming back, I just need time-"
"Time for what?" Sesshomaru asked calmly as he rapidly texted.
"I don't know," Kagome was fully awakened by his sudden energy, "Time to get my stuff-"
"-You have a duffel bag right there-"
"—I need more clothes than that-"
"—We'll see to it from here then-"
"Well I need to talk to Souta," Kagome's exasperated tone came from an amused smile.
At that Sesshomaru paused, realizing what she meant. She did have things she needed to settle. And he would let her, because he wasn't a child who would throw a tantrum and demand otherwise. But he wasn't going to admit to her, only to himself, that for the next few days she wouldn't be leaving his sight.
Call it insecurity or overprotectiveness but in his mind, the small voice of a fairy princess reminded him, 'Trust but verify.'
"Hand me your phone," he said curtly, holding out his hand. He received a skeptical look, "I won't ask twice."
She crawled to the end of the bed, leaned over and shuffled through her bag until she pulled out her cell, handing it over.
She typed the code in for him and gave it back.
Sesshomaru shuffled through it, "Your Angry Birds score is atrocious."
"Don't worry," he said as he closed the app and went for the phonebook, "It only slightly changes the way I feel about you."
She lightly laughed and excused herself to the bathroom as he copied the numbers he needed to have. Lightly tossing her phone on the bed, he knocked on the bathroom door and told her to order breakfast. He took a room key and departed for the lobby.
Seji and Souta met him in one of the small guest reception areas half an hour later.
Sesshomaru, realizing his hasty depart from Kagome's room had left his appearance lacking, had used the main bathroom of the hotel to wash his face and tame his hair.
However nothing could be done about the wrinkled white shirt that had small remnants of tear stains. But on the confident body of Sesshomaru, it would raise no complaints.
Seji and Souta was the picture of professional perfection but Seji gave him a welcoming smile.
Pleasantries were passed all around and coffee was brought by a concierge. Sesshomaru was the only one who declined it.
As he opened his mouth to speak, he was cut off.
"She's staying, isn't she?"
Sesshomaru watched Souta's troubling stare as he decided to get right to the point. He mixed sugar in his black coffee, focusing his eyes on the hot liquid.
"Yes," Sesshomaru answered simply.
He was surprised by Souta's reaction.
It was pure relief. There was no other way to describe it.
The tenseness that had been building in the young boy seemed to flood out from him on all sides and the long-hidden weariness emerged, his look of exhaustion clearly visible.
"Thank god," Souta placed his coffee on the small table then put his face in his hands and breathed deeply before sitting up and rolling his neck, "She's so miserable. Everything else doesn't work. Maybe you will."
"Count on it," Sesshomaru promised confidently, as if it were the only logical solution.
Souta took another few moments to compose himself then met Sesshomaru with such a steely and serious stare, he was almost jealous of it.
"There are some conditions," Souta entered business mode, "And negotiations are prohibited."
"I'll be talking to her every day," Souta assured, "That's just the way we are. But I want to hear from you too. Not daily but frequently. Call it whatever you like, spying or-"
"I get it," Sesshomaru said, "She's been trying to protect you as best she can and she'll be trying for a while longer. I may not tell you everything, Souta, but what I do say will be the truth."
The boy nodded.
Then looked uncomfortable.
Sesshomaru crossed his legs to get comfortable, "I'm aware of them."
Souta still looked unsure, "She'll barricade herself in her room but there are some stuff you can do to make it easier."
Sesshomaru was willing to listen, deciding to omit that Kagome's barricading days were over. He wouldn't allow it.
"Don't wake her," Souta warned, "Like by pounding on the door. It just makes it worse. And put a bowl or a bucket near her bed. And a bottle of water. And she does this thing," Souta swallowed, "In the morning. Either she pretends like nothing happens or she confronts you because she thinks you're pitying her by not talking about it. It's fifty-fifty but lately she just plays ignorant."
"Souta," Sesshomaru couldn't help himself, "Where is your father? You shouldn't be dealing with that alone."
Souta gave a nonchalant shrug, "He calls sometimes but he just hides in the work. Kagome isn't mean or crazy. She's just dealing with it the only way she knows how. We all are."
Souta's way had been trying to distract himself from his own feelings by trying to address Kagome's. The time for change, for different methods, could only be beneficial.
But then again who would help Souta along with his awakening demons for the time being?
Sesshomaru and Seji traded looks that said it all. This hope that Kagome would finally start to heal would let Souta start that process as well. He'd been holding everything back for her sake and with this temporary loving reprieve, he could rest knowing she was in good hands.
And Seji would take good care of Souta until the siblings would have their inevitable reunion.
"Is there anything else?" Sesshomaru calmly asked.
Souta's eyes slowly slid to the side, "The pills…"
"I'll work on that," Sesshomaru answered abruptly, "and we'll talk."
Quietly, Souta simply nodded once more.
"I'll need to talk to your father," Sesshomaru requested, "His number isn't in her phone. Also, Kagome's waiting for you. She ordered breakfast."
Souta contemplated the information, the coming of changes, for a few moments before standing and straightening his perfect suit.
He shot Sesshomaru a look of gratitude, happy to have another person for support.
Sesshomaru returned the look, happy to receive the blessing of Kagome's most important person.
"Can you help him out?" Souta asked Seji, who nodded.
Souta departed the meeting to say his tearful farewells.
By eight thirty Sesshomaru had Renge Higurashi on the phone, pulled away from a very important business meeting.
"What can I do for you, Mr. Takahashi?" came the familiar voice of a man who had his world suddenly come crumbling down around him a few months ago.
"Good morning. I just want a moment of your time," Sesshomaru said, trying to hold back any aggression in his voice, "I'll talk fast so we could make this a lot easier. Is this agreed?"
A little taken aback by the teenager's frank disposition, Renge had no words to offer which meant it was a silent affirmative.
"I'm not going to reprimand you about your absence with your children," Sesshomaru began, "People do what they are accustomed to and when it comes to the Higurashis, that seems to be burying a problem until they can function as normally as possible-"
"I beg your pardon but-"
"That being said," Sesshomaru interjected, this time using a bit of authority in his tone, "I am calling you, as a gesture with respect of course, to inform you that Kagome will be in my care for the time being. To speed things along, yes, I know about every one of her circumstances and conditions. Yes, I am prepared and willing to handle them. No, I am not too young or under qualified.
There is some information that I need you to have and let me just say this now so that there is no confusion," Sesshomaru gave a slight pause to make sure Renge was listening, "This is not a request. I am not asking your permission or input. Take note that I am not ordering you to do anything; this is not a list of demands. It is a list of responsible requirements to do what's best for Kagome."
There was a long pause and Sesshomaru could tell that it was mostly because this grown man, a business mogul, was trying to adjust being spoken to in such a way by an eighteen year old.
"All right," Renge said eventually, "Talk to me."
Sesshomaru gave a small physical nod even though it went unnoticed, "Kagome will not be living with me, "he began, "I've already had my assistant line up some suitable apartments in good neighborhoods close to me. Kagome and I will fax along the rental paperwork to you after she's made her decision."
"That seems…suitable," Renge replied.
"The second thing you should know is that Kagome will not be contacting you until she sees fit," Sesshomaru informed, "There is some animosity with your decisions to medicate her without understanding her needs and until that is resolved, it is best if you don't contact her in any form until she makes the first gesture."
There was no response to that one either by guilt or anger so Sesshomaru continued,
"And the last thing is that I think you should contact Souta more often. He'll need someone other than his guardian and if you'll excuse my boldness, you've missed your chance with Kagome but it's not too late for you to be a father to him."
Sesshomaru let the silence hang for as long as it took.
"Thank you for your call Mr. Takahahsi," Renge said without commenting on the terms, "I appreciate it."
Sesshomaru wasn't surprised when the call ended right there and then.
Wanting Souta and Kagome to have as much privacy as possible, Sesshomaru sent Kagome a text and went home to take a shower and freshen up. They had a busy day ahead of them to get her settled back into Japan but the thought of it wasn't daunting to him at all.
He was divorced.
He had full custody.
And finally, he had Kagome.
For the first time in a long time, there was a strong and overwhelming feeling of peace inside Sesshomaru.