A/N: Again, sorry for the late update. I haven't had any motivation to write. My muse vanished for a while on a mini vacation. That wasn't too nice, huh?
Unfortunately, this is the end of my story.
Once again, thank you for voting for BHL in the awards! It won 1st Place Best Drama in the 2nd quarter 2012 Dokuga awards!
DISCLAIMER: All Inuyasha goodness belongs to the amazing Takahashi-san!
The Battle of Heart and Land
Chapter Forty-Four: Family is Pack, Pack is Life
Kagome lay on her bed, reading a scroll with the faint candle light while the rain poured outside. She had taken a habit to reading most of the scrolls on pup development in Sesshoumaru's study. She had learned a lot and was glad to know that Kichirou was indeed right on track with his growing; Sesshoumaru had assured her as such, but it still felt good to read it in words. He was already four years old, goodness did time fly, but appeared to be the age of a seven year old human.
"Reading once more, Mate?"
She let a smile curl up her lips when she felt his aura brush against hers, her bond mark throbbing in glee at his presence. "Yes, I can't seem to get enough of it."
Sesshoumaru walked over to their cot and sat down on the edge of it before removing his boots. It had been a long day with meetings and paperwork, as well as playing with his pup; he definitely had too much energy. "You have too much time if you are able to read frequently."
She rolled the scroll up and poked him in the back with the end of it. "Don't be jealous because I finish my work in a timely matter and you don't." She let out a laughing squeal when he pounced on her, pinning her back against the bed.
He lowered his lips to her ear before rumbling into it, "Oh, is that so?"
She shuddered beneath him as he ran his tongue along the shell of her ear. She nodded and ran her hands up his shoulders and into his hair. "Yep, maybe I could teach you a thing or two about how to handle your time."
He gently nipped along her neck line. "I believe I am handling it quite well."
She rolled her eyes at him, but didn't stop him when he began to pull apart her summer yukata. She moaned as he ran his hands down her bare body, his fingers framing her breasts and his thumbs running over her nipples. She now had no problem with baring her flesh to him compared to a few months ago. She had told Sesshoumaru of her insecurities soon after the Elder was defeated and, despite him scoffing at her, he had helped her get back into shape by training every day. She was thankful for how patient and how understanding he was with her, even if he didn't completely agree with her self-esteem issue.
She loosened the obi around his hakama and watched as they dropped, his haori parting open as well. She felt the familiar rush in her blood as the need began to tingle inside her when he settled between her legs. She lifted herself enough to press her lips hard against his, anticipating the action to come.
Right as he moved forward, the head of his shaft pushing just barely into her, he heard a whimper at their door. Sesshoumaru released a warning growl and then another when it continued. He then looked down at his mate with disbelief when she smacked his arm and wriggled out from beneath him.
"Don't you growl at him," She scolded and then pressed a kiss to his cheek when he laid down next to her and pulled their blanket up to modest levels. "Come in, Kichirou-chan."
The door slid open and then popped in Kichirou's silver head. "Okaa-sama, Otou-sama…the sky is making loud noises."
Kagome patted the bed next to her. "It's alright, come here."
He gave a fangy grin and quickly ran over to the bed before leaping on top of it. He settled down in between his parents and looked over his father with his crossed arms. "Otou-sama, can we start training tomorrow?"
The Western Lady blinked. "Training? Already? I wasn't told of this!"
Kichirou's eyes widened before he retreated closer to his father's side, away from his mother. "O-Okaa-sama! I am already four years old!"
She stared at her mate who placed his hand on his son's head. "Were you going to tell me of this?"
"He is able to hold a sword. I do not believe there is anything wrong with teaching him defense." He replied and grabbed her wrist gently, pulling her towards his chest, their son stuck in between. "Do not fret, Mate, he will be fine."
"Please, Okaa-sama?" Their pup begged, frowning up at his mother with wide blue eyes.
She sighed in and closed her eyes. "Fine," She said with a pout. "I guess it just means you're growing up."
The taiyoukai of the West had been away at Keade's village, checking on Rin and her pups when he received a letter of concern from Kohaku. The boy had stated that one of their sons had been wounded by a boar youkai, the wound so bad he feared impending death. Sure enough, when Sesshoumaru arrived, the boy had just passed, leaving his adopted daughter a wreck. Coming prepared, he brought Tenseiga and rived his human grandpup, giving him life once more.
The two day visit was cut short when he felt a twisting pain in his gut and he knew it could only mean one thing. Shifting into his ball of light, he had sped off towards home and was greeted by Taku.
"Hurry, Sesshoumaru!" The general shouted as he saw his friend land in the courtyard of the Western palace. "You are going to miss it!"
"I will not miss it once more," He growled out, running towards the medical wing of the kingdom. No, he would not miss the birth of his second pup. He would be there for her this time no matter what. Guilt had already attacked him for leaving the two days that he had, but Kagome had told him to go and take care of Rin.
He rushed into the medical wing and watched as the village healer and her trainees bustled around his wailing mate. He instantly went to her side and grasped her clammy hand within his. He nearly recoiled when she turned to face him and released a snarl that would make any inuyoukai proud. Her fangs were bared and her markings jagged, sapphire blues eyes mixed with gold.
"You're late!" She snarled once more, her aura flaring.
He ignored the angry pink and purple sparks and tightened his hold on her hand. "I am here, that is all that matters." He cooed, leaning down to nuzzle her temple.
She was about to shout at him once more, but pain took ahold of her body, the cramps becoming too much. She gripped his hand tighter and pushed, sweat beading her forehead and lower back. She screamed loudly as she felt the pressure begin to build between her legs.
"I see the head! Come on Kagome-sama, keep pushing!" The healer urged from between her legs. She looked at the closest assistant. "Prepare the basin with warm water!"
"Hai!" She shouted before running to prepare the water.
"AH!" Kagome shouted again and pushed harder, her face turning red from the effort. She panted heavily before sucking in another breath and grunting once more as she continued to push.
"The head is out! One more final push, Kagome-sama!" The healer commanded.
She did as told and pushed harder. She felt the pressure dissipate and she fell back against the pillows on the cot, her chest heaving almost painfully as tiny wails filled the room. She smiled weakly up at her mate and he stroked her sweat-dampened hair. She leaned into his touch and let her eyes fall onto the healer as she cut the umbilical cord and set her pup in the water, rinsing the blood from it.
"Here you go, Sesshoumaru-sama, Kagome-sama, a perfectly healthy female pup." She said after wrapping the pup in a soft cloth and carrying it over to the Lord and Lady of the West.
When the pup was held out for Kagome, she shook her head and smiled up at her mate. "I think it's your turn to hold a pup first."
"Are you certain?" He asked, looking down at her. When she nodded, he held his arms out for his pup and awkwardly took her into his arms. He had never really felt comfortable holding Kichirou when he was a mere pup; he always felt as if he was too delicate, too easily broken, it almost made him nervous. But, as he gazed down into mirrored golden eyes, he could not help but smile and hold her tighter to him.
Kagome smiled up at him as he stared at their daughter with loving eyes. "What should we name her, Sesshoumaru?"
The Lord 'hn'ed softly in thought as he ran his finger over the stripe on her left cheek. He kept his eyes locked on her bright ones. "Do you find Akemi agreeable?"
She let another soft smile curve her lips. "Akemi… 'bright beauty', I love it."
"Akemi," He repeated as he stared down at his daughter. "Hime of the West." With that, he handed her off to her mother, making sure his movements were slow and careful.
She happily took her into her arms and took her in new pup. Atop her head was a soft patch of black hair, each cheek was decorated with a single magenta stripe, and a crescent moon adored her forehead. "My little girl." She cooed. She pressed a kissed to her forehead and smiled when she felt Sesshoumaru nuzzled her temple once more.
Sesshoumaru turned his attention to the door when he heard soft rapping. He felt his son's aura expand, letting him know it was him. "Enter, Kichirou."
"Otou-sama, I am sorry for being late, Sensei assigned me for classroom cleanup duty." He said as he entered the room, making his way over to his parents.
"Kichirou-chan!" His mother cooed and smiled as she took in his middle school uniform. She had missed her son immensely. He had made the decision the beginning of the year to start going to school in the future and stay at his grandmother's house. He was six, but looked as if he was ten in human years. His aging had slowed down, so she knew he wouldn't have trouble fitting in as long as he remembered to conceal his markings and they could easily say that he was homeschooled.
But, when they asked him why, he said that when the time came for him to rule the West, he wanted to have the most knowledge possible. It had made Sesshoumaru proud, but Kagome's heart cringed at the thought of her son being gone for five days at a time, but at least she would see him on the weekends and on breaks. It was Inuyasha's job to make sure he traveled safely through the well each time since he couldn't on his own.
"Okaa-sama!" He grinned as he came up to her side and gave an embarrassed flush when she pressed a kiss to his cheek. He still thought he was too old for such love affections from his mother, but would never deny them. He smiled down at her and then at his sister. "Ah! It's a girl! What is her name?"
"Akemi," She replied and looked back down at her. "Your beautiful little sister."
"Hai, I can't wait to tell grandma. She has been waiting for you to 'pop' as uncle Souta said."
Kagome rolled her eyes. "I doubt my little brother will ever change," She mused and then smiled. "Yes, we will have to pay her a visit soon!"
"NO!" The mother of almost four screamed as she thrashed anything she could in their sleeping quarters. She could not believe what had happened. She dared to glance down at her sleeping yukata once more and felt her eyes fill with tears at the sight almost instantly. The entire front, and most likely the back, was covered in blood. She had been woken up by an intense pain in her abdomen and knew that she had lost her recently conceived pup.
What had gone wrong? What had she done to cause this? Had she strained herself too much? But how? How were the Kami so cruel!?
Having another surge of hate, she grabbed the decorations off the wall and tossed them to the floor. When she reached Hogorokkotsu, she hesitated for a heartbeat before throwing it as hard as she could across the room. It slammed into the wall and fell to the floor, a 'chink' sound soon following it.
Sesshoumaru soon burst through the door, immediately feeling his mate's pain and raging emotions from his desk inside his study. He had feared the worst, the emotions so similar to what had happened when she was pupped with Kichirou. He only hoped his suspicious were incorrect and that his unborn pup was fine.
"Kagome?" He asked softly and when she slowly turned towards him, he knew exactly what had happened and that his hopes were shot down, the blood giving it away. He caught her as she crumpled to her knees and sat back onto the floor with her, clutching her close to him as she began to sob into his chest.
A five year old Akemi watched from outside the door, her head barely poking in from the door. She bit her lip, knowing her mommy was hurt, but not how. She jumped when she felt someone tap her shoulder and turned to see Taku, who held a finger to his lips. She nodded and reached out for his hand when he held it out to her, but stopped when she saw something shiny catch her eye. She reached over and grabbed the piece of purple stone off the floor before standing up with Taku and walking away.
The miko sat beneath the large sakura tree in the Western gardens. She sat with her youngest pup in her lap, his silvery white hair and golden eyes making him the closest resembling pup to her mate. She sighed heavily and stroked his hair absent mindedly, thinking of her recently passed friend. She wondered how her husband and children were taking the news and hardship.
Another sudden wave of rage raked her body and she shuddered at the power behind it. "Oh, Minoru-chan, your papa is not taking this well at all," She breathed. "I hope he calms down soon."
Curious golden pools looked up at his mother. "Papa not happy?" Asked the two year old pup.
"Papa is sad," She replied, and looked up when she saw Akemi stroll over with two large baskets full of flowers. "Those look beautiful, Akemi-chan."
The girl nodded, tucking a strand of her ebony hair behind her ear, her ring with the purple stone shining in the bright sun. "I want to make Rin-san's burial the best for Papa." She sighed and looked down at the flowers. She was now twelve, but her body was that of fifteen year old.
"I'm sure he will appreciate them, my love, even if he does not express it. For Papa, Rin was kind of like his first child." She explained, more to Minoru than Akemi for she already knew.
Minoru furrowed his brow. "But I am Papa's pup. Brother and sister too! Does that mean Rin was a youkai too?"
Kagome let out a soft laugh. "No, little one. You see, pack sometimes goes deeper than just sharing the same blood. If you share a deep connection with someone and would do anything for them, then they may be considered pack too."
"Ah! Does that mean Taku-san is also pack?" Akemi asked suddenly, her golden eyes gleaming with hope.
The Lady blinked. "Well, I suppose so. I definitely consider him like a brother to me, Tekkan too."
"I believe I have heard my name."
"T-Taku-san!" Akemi stammered, standing a little straighter
Kagome did not miss the way her daughter brightened when Taku arrived in the garden, nor the blush that crossed her cheeks when he met her gaze. Still, she decided not to comment on it until they were alone. "Taku-san, good morning."
He gave his lady a weak smile. "It is not such a good morning, especially with Sesshoumaru-sama's angered aura."
She nodded in agreement, but decided to change the subject for the sake of her pups. "Is Kichirou here yet?"
"Hai, he has just arrived with Inuyasha. He is going to talk to his father in an attempt to calm him for the ceremony." He answered. "I am going to go and help him. It is probably best if you stay here with Minoru-sama and Akemi-sama just in case."
She nodded to him when he bowed and then watched carefully as he bowed to Akemi, making the girl blush and bow back in a low posture.
"No, Taku, we can't," The seventeen year old breathed heavily as he nibbled on her neck, his hand coming up to cup her breast from the outside of her kimono. "If we're found out, he will kill you, friendship forgotten." They had to stop meeting like this. Yes, she had agreed to meet him in the back garden at high moon. Yes, she wanted nothing more than to spend time with him, but at this rate they would be caught and it would be the end of them both.
He growled against her creamy skin at the truth of her words. "I will speak to him of my desire to mate you."
Akemi flushed. "M-mate? Really?" She asked, happiness coursing through her.
It had only been a little over half a year that they had actually begun to spend time together. At first, he had been beyond reluctant to even admit to being attracted to her. He had seen her grow up since the day she was born, and had told her that she was his closest friend's daughter and that he could not disrespect his friend, much less his lord. Still, she was undeterred and continued her pursuit. She didn't think it would go this far, but was glad it did.
"Yes, if you will have me." He asked, pulling away from her tempting skin to stare into her eyes, icy blue meeting molten gold.
"Hai! You don't even have to ask!" She looped her arms around his neck and pressed her lips hard against his. She melted against him as his tongue found its way between her lips and rubbed against her own. She released a soft moan and then a whimper when he pulled away. She opened her eyes and let out a scream when she saw her love pinned to the floor by the exact person she wanted to avoid: her father.
"You dare touch my pup in such a way?" Sesshoumaru snarled into his general's face, his hand tightening around his neck.
"Papa! No!" Akemi screamed and lurched forward, but was stopped when someone's arms wrapped around her torso and pulled her back. She turned and looked to see her eldest brother. She glared at him before struggling in his arms. "Release me, Kichirou! I have to help Taku!"
"What do you think you can do, Akemi? And what did you think you were doing in the first place? You are the Hime of the West!" He snapped at her, his grip unfaltering as she clawed at him.
Tears began to well in her eyes as she found no answer to reply to him. Instead, she watched helplessly as Taku was punched by her father. "Papa, please…!"
Her words fell on deaf ears. He continued to glare down at his general, his friend who had just betrayed him. "You would go against me? Did you not think I did not notice her coming to morning meal smelling like you for the past several days?"
"G-," He choked as his lord tightened his grip. "Gomen, Sesshoumaru-sama," He stressed the honorific, especially since he never used it when it was just the two of them. "It was not my intention to go against you."
"Then what was it, exactly?" He snarled, his eyes bleeding red. He did not want anyone touching his daughter or taking her away, especially after losing Rin a few years before.
"Your daughter is my intended," He winced when Sesshoumaru slammed him harder into the ground. "She is!"
"Sesshoumaru!" Kagome shouted as she ran towards the scene, a seven year old Minoru following behind her. She could feel his anger through their bond as well as sense her daughter's distress. When she was close enough, she put her hand on his shoulder and growled back when he growled at her. "Let him go!" When he didn't budge, she sent a charge of her reki into his shoulder. "Now!"
With his jaw clenched tight, he roughly released his neck and stood up, his claws digging into his palm. "Do not come near my daughter again."
Taku quickly rose to his feet, rubbing his neck. "Like it or not, Sesshoumaru, I love your daughter and I have every intention of making her my mate."
Sesshoumaru released a snarl, which earned him a shove from his mate. "Did you not hear what I said?"
"Sesshoumaru!" Kagome warned and then glanced at her eldest. "Let go of your sister."
Knowing when to obey his upset mother, and fearing her wrath much more than his father's, he did as told. He watched as Akemi bolted away from him and latched herself onto Taku's side, her arms going around him.
"Taku," She cried, burying her face in his neck. "I'm sorry, so sorry! Are you okay?"
He rested his hand on her hair and nuzzled her gently. "Hai, do not fret," He replied before stepping away from her. "You should go with your parents."
With a quivering lip, she nodded and wiped the tears from her eyes. She then turned towards her parents, shot her father a menacing look of hate, and then continued on towards the castle. Kichirou gave a sigh and followed on after her, going to give an attempt to convince her not to completely hate their father.
His mate gave him another shove, a gentler one this time, to tell him to go ahead inside. Sesshoumaru gave Taku another glare before going back inside, the look his daughter gave him bothering him, and Minoru at his heels.
Kagome turned and looked at her brother-like figure. "I will talk to him, Taku. Don't give up hope." She said reassuringly before turning to follow her family.
"Oh, my love," The miko-youkai cooed as she looped her arm with Sesshoumaru's. She rested her head against his upper arm and gazed over their family from their spots in their thrones. They were currently hosting a festival for tomorrow's big ceremony. "I think we have done a good job with our family."
He gave her a soft smile and put his free hand on hers. "I agree. Our pack has grown significantly."
She nodded and looked over at Minoru as he flirted with his intended, the girl giggling and blushing like a school girl in her time. She let her eyes roam over to Akemi and her family. She watched as she smiled lovingly at Taku and then down at her swollen stomach where his hand rested. Next to Taku's side was their first, second, and third born along with their own mates and pups.
Finally, her eyes fell on her first pup. Kichirou was clad in a black hakama, his haori white and blue to match his hair and eyes. A fur pelt was draped over his shoulder; it was much like Sesshoumaru's when she had first met him. Next to him was his intended, a beautiful inuyoukai who loved him for him, not his promised power. They couldn't bring themselves to arrange a marriage for him, even if he said he would follow everything by book to get the throne.
"I can't believe Kichirou is to be mated tomorrow," She breathed, tightening her hand in his. "Have we really been ruling for a hundred years?"
He nodded and turned his head to look at her. "It does not seem to be that long, does it?"
She shook her head. "No," She then smiled slyly at him. "Are you upset to be giving up your throne so soon?"
"It is true that it is not normal to rule for such a short amount of time, but I believe Kichirou will be the best to take my place." He stated proudly.
Kagome gave a soft laugh and nodded. "Yes, it is time for him to begin his other life; and it all starts with his mate and the throne."
A/N: -sobs- BHL is over. I am seriously a little sad over this! T^T But, I have had such an amazing time writing it, and all of you kept me going by your reviews and praise. Thank you everyone for following me and this story until the end. Thank you so, so much!
Side Note: Okay, so, I know this is confusing, but this is the age differences in the pups. Kichirou is six years older than Akemi. Akemi is ten years older than Minoru.