AN: I do not own Inuyasha. Cheers!
Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me; the carriage held but just ourselves and immortality. – Emily Dickinson
Kagome's eyes widened as a large hand faintly smelling of autumn leaves wrapped itself firmly around her mouth.
"Quiet, miko. Or I will shout loud enough for the hanyou's guards to come and find out who dares to disturb his rest." The voice was low, an angry rumble that made her want to quiver like a frightened deer. She hadn't heard him in a long, long time, ever since she'd made that accursed wish.
Pushing her fear away, she stilled and nodded, hoping against hope that he had come to take her away from the Western Citadel and Inuyasha. She almost squeaked when a hard arm came around her stomach, tightening her abdomen instinctively as he pushed off from the ground and ran like the wind through the night-dark forest. She made no sound as he carried them farther and farther away from her wish, from the pain she had inflicted on herself and the Western Lands.
After about half an hour, he launched into the air, a cream-colored cloud forming at his feet. He put her down once they were safely airborne and she had no where to run, looking back at the moonlit palace in the distance, her gaze following his movement. She caught her breath at its beauty, eyes roving over the glimmering turrets, the high walls laced with flowering vines of jasmine. The lotus-dotted river gleamed in the lantern lights of the huge city surrounding the palace, a small slip of green valley separating its inhabitants from the forest. Kagome looked away a second before he did, pushing away the burn in the corners of her eyes.
They flew in silence towards a far corner of his former lands, landing by a hot spring. He released her the second they touched down. "Wash. That scent on you can be followed."
So saying, he turned his back to her and leapt into the shadows, presumably to catalogue the reaction of her 'protectors' and to hide their trail.
Kagome hurriedly undressed, sending out a small flare of her aura to see if any dangers lurked close by. Sensing nothing more than a family of red pandas, she set her clothes to soak and scrubbed herself with handfuls of sand gathered from the bottom of the pool. Before she washed her hair, she hung her clothes up to dry, grimacing at the beautifully plain blue youkai silk. It had been a gift from her would-be mother-in-law, a woman she had come to hate for her petty attitude. Another small flare of her aura brought no sense of danger and she returned to getting Inuyasha's scent off of her skin, a scent that she had grown tired of over the past few months. She sighed morosely as she felt the coil of anger deep inside of her whip at the thought of the twisted souls in the pink bauble she'd spent four years completing. Tying up her anger and burying it beneath her guilt, she climbed out of the pool and found a little bit of moss to wipe herself off with. Putting on her damp clothes, she reminisced on the last time she'd come to a hot spring.
Kagome made a face as she felt the red pandas stir. She hadn't enjoyed the visit at all, her heart curiously numbed to the pain of watching Inuyasha fawn over his past lover like a puppy with his first crush. And Izayoi… Izayoi had done nothing but make sure Kagome watched them. Turning to face the north, she flared her aura as she tied her obi as skillfully as she could without a servant to aid her. The simplest of knots defined her curves beneath the three layers of silk. Each layer brought out different shades of the ocean in her eyes. Despite the lack-of-embroidery that would identify her as a member of the royal household, Kagome looked lovely enough to be a princess. For once, she was grateful that Kikyou's jealousy had kept the palace clothier from stitching the Western symbol on her kimono. It would be easier to remain unidentified without the crescent etched between her shoulder blades.
Sighing, she knelt by the hot spring, automatically smoothing the ruffles of her kimono with a graceful hand- as drilled into her by the Etiquette Master. She watched the steam rise into the darkness of the night, giggling when a small furry head nosed its way under her hand. "Hello, little one. Couldn't sleep?"
The red panda cub yipped at her, purring as she scratched its back and curling up in her lap. Its large silver eyes drooped beneath heavy eyelids as she continued her ministrations on the cute creature.
Kagome remained lost in thought, watching as dew began to form on the leaves around her.
"Miko." His voice was quiet, the angry rumble almost forcing her to shiver. "Rise. We must leave this place now. The hanyou has noticed your absence."
She picked up the red panda and placed him beneath a small frond for protection before jumping down from the boulder. She did not use her powers to place a barrier around the small creature, in case her aura was recognized. "I don't still smell like him, do I?" She met his eyes for the first time since he'd taken her.
There was rage in his gaze, a fine, razor-sharp rage that threatened to burn down everything in his path the second he unleashed himself. "No. Come."
He took her hand this time, helping her onto the cloud before speeding away over the border and towards the Northern Isle. He still didn't speak and so she remained silent as well, knowing that his silence meant she wasn't allowed to speak either. He slowed as they reached the Northern Lands, circling around the curve of the island before swooping down towards a small crevasse rampaged by fierce, crashing waves. He waited until the waves had receded a second and then zipped into the cave, ignoring her gasp and the small hand grasping his armor.
He put her down quickly, waiting until she could stand on her own and then turning and walking deeper into the darkness. With a careless thought, he lighted the torches for her, knowing that if she was injured it would be months before he could find another miko as powerful, maybe even years. Maybe never.
She followed as he stalked ahead, not wanting to get to their destination and receive the tension singing through his body. When he finally stopped she had to hold in her gasp. The circular cavern was massive, easily able to hold many inuyoukai in their true forms. Pillows and rugs were piled over the cold floor in elegant disarray, tapestries and bookshelves covered the walls alongside maps and portraits of what she assumed were members of the nobility. Two staircases curved up like snakes along the walls to open onto a balcony, framing alcoves with burning fires and lighted crystals.
"You will tell me exactly what you said in that foolish wish, miko." His voice was freezing, laced with the thread holding back the flames of his fury. His golden eyes blazed at her, murdering her where she stood and his long, silver hair moved in an invisible wind around his body.
"I wished for Inuyasha's happiness. I had no idea that his happiness would entail such disaster for everyone involved." She knelt, head bowed and fighting the tears she'd refused to shed in the Western Palace. "I'm sorry."
He growled, raising the hairs on the back of her neck. "Did you even think before you acted miko? Did you read your history? My father, the Great Dog Demon General, was a bloodthirsty, aggressive male with little to no regard for the people he governed. Bringing him back was one of the worst acts of idiocy ever committed on the face of this planet! His youngest son, now his heir, is just as selfish and cruel as he is. No one but Inuyasha and Izayoi were ever happy under the Inu no Taisho's rule. Noone. You gave all three of them the power they had years ago just when I had begun to rectify their mistakes. Do you think that city was there the day my father died? Do you think the title of Western Lord was coveted the day it was bequeathed to me?"
He whipped away from the tears in her eyes, hating to acknowledge that she couldn't be blamed for her innocent desire. "You took from me my lands and my people, threw both to the hands of an uncouth barbarian. You took from me the daughter whom I cared for and the only pack besides my mother I had ever acknowledged. You took from me my title and my birthright! You are a fool, miko! A cursed, blind, moronic fool!"
Kagome was too guilt-ridden to be shocked at his anger, the loss of his famed control. She bowed her head beneath the weight of the past years.
"And for that," he said quietly, reigning in his fury and waiting until she looked at him, "you will assist me in taking back what is mine."
His golden eyes held a strength of conviction and possessiveness that shook her. His stance was calm and able, loose with an aura of accepted responsibility that demanded respect. Her eyes dried as she flicked her gaze over him.
He was nothing compared to Inuyasha's father, the current Lord of the Western lands, was almost non-existent in comparison with the Inu no Taisho's aura and yet… she sat back on her heels. He was so much more.
There was more than cunning in those golden eyes, there was intelligence and compassion. She knew, without a doubt, that she would never be forced to show this man respect. He would earn it, would not merely demand it.
She bowed to him. "What would you have of me, Lord Sesshoumaru?"
He reclined on a set of cushions in front of her, muscles still stiff with anger. "Make yourself comfortable, miko. We have much to discuss."