"Miko," Sesshoumaru said, stated, vocalised in order to draw her attention away from the fire they were sharing and towards him instead. "I am led to believe that you have some education. What do you know of philosophy?"
"I know that there are lots, and lots of different philosophies available to study," she answered. "I also know that I really don't like my philosophy class," she added with a sigh. "Was there some particular philosophy or set of philosophies that you were inquiring about?"
Kagome had been separated from InuYasha, from Sango, from Miroku, from Kirara and even from Shippo and Myoga during their last confrontation with Naraku – the real and genuine Naraku this time, rather than any of his incarnations. Just as well they'd won, really, even if they had all been separated. Kagome had the jewel shards in her bag, just waiting for her to make the annoying thing whole again.
Sesshoumaru had joined her in this cave shortly after the rain began. No Jaken, no Rin, no Ah-Un. Just him. And her. And the fire she'd built to make herself some tea over. And the rain that was pouring down outside the cave mouth.
"I have heard of a philosophy of 'wholeness' from the continent represented by a circle painted in black and white," Sesshoumaru said.
"Oh, yeah. I know that one. Yin and Yang. It's a kinda famous philosophy actually," Kagome answered. Heck, even people who didn't study philosophy knew about that one, even if they only knew the grossly over-simplified versions.
"Really?" Sesshoumaru said, eyebrow raised in speculation. "Speak on it," he instructed.
Kagome spluttered for a moment, gaping at the command, but decided that directly going against an order from Sesshoumaru that, really, wasn't about to cause any harm, was something not in her best interests.
"Uh, well, okay. I guess I'll find out how much I remember from class then. Um... It's about... how opposites... kind of... er, are connected I guess. How you can't have one without the other. I'm never totally clear on which part of the circle is the Yin and which is the Yang, the black or the white, but I can remember what each of them is generally given to represent I think?" she offered.
Sesshoumaru nodded. "I would not have raised the subject if I did not wish to hear what you knew of it Miko," he stated.
"Right," Kagome agreed. "Uh, right. Yin. Okay, uh... Yin is associated ...with water, the earth, the moon and the night, and femininity. I think it might be the black half of the circle, since it's night, and the moon would be the white dot in the circle." Kagome beamed. "I'll probably remember them that way from now on if that's right," she said happily. "Uh, what else? I think sensei said that Yin is supposed to be slow, soft, yielding, cold, wet... can't think why it's associated with femininity then, but there you have it. Er, there was something else... oh yeah, diffuse was the other word. Though I'm not one-hundred percent on what that word even means," she grouched.
Sesshoumaru grunted. "Continue Miko. What of Yang?" he said.
"Oh, right. Yeah, Yang. Well, it's all that other stuff I guess. Opposite to Yin. So Yang would be associated with fire instead of water, air in opposition to earth – or was it the sky? – and the sun and the day. And masculinity I guess, in contrast to femininity. Fast instead of slow, hard instead of soft, solid instead of yielding, hot instead of cold, dry instead of wet..." she trailed off.
"And focused instead of diffuse," Sesshoumaru finished for her. "And these two parts make the whole?"
Kagome shrugged as she nodded. "It's balance," she answered. "Complementary opposites I think is what sensei called it. Something about everything having aspects of both Yin and Yang, but in varying quantities." Kagome shrugged again. "I don't think I'll ever really understand philosophy though, even if I memorise all I can, that's not the same as understanding."
Sesshoumaru nodded in silent agreement to this last statement by the girl, and turned his attention to the rain falling beyond the cave mouth once again.
Silence descended once more. Kagome turned her attention back to the fire for a moment, before looking up at the large, cavernous space above her. It was really a stupidly large cave, and the only reason she was able to catch the warmth from her small fire was because she was sitting so close and had a wool blanket over her shoulders. The heat from the fire all headed upwards before beginning to fill the rest of the space after all, and that was a lot of space for the little fire to try and fill.
Kagome's mind went back to when she had met Sesshoumaru. Not the best of days, all told. Not for him, not for her, not for Myoga. InuYasha was probably the only one who would have looked at that as a good day, and only because he ultimately got the Tetsusaiga. Though Myoga's "bad day" had only been not being able to run away fast enough for his liking.
For Sesshoumaru, he hadn't been able to get the sword he'd gone to such trouble to find, he'd had to suffer the indignity of his brother getting past the barrier that had stopped him and then a mere human girl succeeding where both of sons of the great Inu no Taisho had failed – which had lead to Kagome's part of the bad day: his go at killing her. Honestly, she still had no idea why or how she'd survived that, and if she was being really honest, she'd admit that giving InuYasha his father's sword probably hadn't been one of her brightest moments.
After all, it had made Sesshoumaru's day even worse – something that by now she was quite willing to admit was a result she wasn't happy with – as InuYasha had proceeded to remove his left foreleg.
Actually, that brought up a point. InuYasha had called the giant dog version his half-brother's "true form".
"You know, if you want, there's probably space in here for you to take your true form," Kagome said, still staring up at the ceiling of the cave.
Sesshoumaru stiffened almost imperceptibly – and the minimal notion was completely missed by Kagome, who wasn't looking – before he stood and released his youki. Released the false image he wore from one day to the next. Released all the tension that had been accumulating in his compressed muscles. He stretched out in the large cave and resettled himself on the cool stone once more.
Kagome lowered her face from gazing at the top of the cave and looked at the great white dog that was Sesshoumaru. Her eyes were drawn to where Sesshoumaru should have had a leg but, because of InuYasha, didn't.
"I wonder if the reason all the other arms you tried didn't last was because you didn't attach them to your true form," she mused quietly, but out loud.
In the cave there was just the two of them, with no other sounds but the gentle crackle of the fire and the stead fall of rain. There was no doubt that Sesshoumaru, with his sensitive hearing, had heard her.
"It grows back slowly," he said, his voice a rumble, and his words not seeming to be shaped by his lips. "Faster when I am in this form."
Kagome nodded in acceptance of this once her brain had computed that, yes, Sesshoumaru could still talk and she could still understand him when he was in this form. "I'd offer whatever healing powers I might have as a miko, but I'm barely trained and I wouldn't want to risk purifying you by mistake," she said.
"Not trained?" Sesshoumaru asked. "How can this be?"
Kagome shrugged. "Didn't know I needed training until I was fifteen, and since then I've been too busy with hunting jewel shards and trying to keep up my regular education at the same time. Even when the monk joined us -" she knew there was no point in naming Miroku for Sesshoumaru, so she didn't bother. "- I've really only learned as things came up. Even my archery. InuYasha just grabbed a bow off a dead guy, pushed it into my arms and told me that Kikyo was a master archer, like that automatically meant I had to be one too," she grumbled.
Sesshoumaru snorted. In the cave, that sent both a rush of warm air around and caused something of an echo. "My little brother is an idiot," he stated.
"I'm not about to argue with you on that," Kagome said, a wry smile on her face. "But with those ears, at least he's a cute idiot."
Sesshoumaru snorted again. "Approach me, Miko," he ordered simply, and without any trace of malice in his deep and rumbling voice.
Kagome, deciding that Sesshoumaru in his really big dog form was perfectly capable of squishing her, decided not to dwell on the irony of a dog telling a human to 'come when called' as it were, and just did as she was told. She stopped a few feet away from his muzzle.
"I will instruct you in the correct ways to channel your powers," he said, then huffed a little in amusement at the way Kagome gaped like a landed fish.
"Thank you very much Sesshoumaru!" Kagome said, bowing low before him.
Then the instruction began. It was really most convenient that Kagome had her bag with her, as Sesshoumaru was able to guide her through the use of her powers by applying them to some of the things that Kagome carried with her.
It had been noon when the rain began, but the cave was soon illuminated exclusively by the fire light, without the extra seeped-in grey light that always came with heavy rain. Neither of them noticed, too intent on the lesson.
Then Kagome's stomach complained. Loudly.
Sesshoumaru huffed in amusement as Kagome's face was suddenly crimson in embarrassment.
"Eat Miko," Sesshoumaru instructed. "You will need all your strength for your next lesson. I am going to let you try to re-grow some of this," he said, nudging his amputated limb with his nose.
Kagome had quite efficiently learned how to properly channel her energies, how to infuse those energies into objects other than her arrows – something which happened mostly by luck before – and how to direct her powers to achieve different results: the passive uses such as sealing, making barriers or removing them, even making a second subjugation necklace out of a bit of junk jewellery she'd been carrying around without knowing it.
Healing was going to be the final lesson, but Sesshoumaru was starting hard. After all, re-growing a limb wasn't standard procedure for any healers, doctors, or even miracle workers that Kagome knew. On top of that, she was going to have to make sure she didn't accidentally purify Sesshoumaru even a little bit at the same time, because the one thing that made the procedure possible at all – that Sesshoumaru was a demon and had crazy demon healing abilities – was also going to make the whole thing more difficult. Still, as Kagome ate and Sesshoumaru explained what she was going to do, he also mentioned that if she could restore his arm without him feeling even the slightest sizzle of her powers trying to purify him (and they would only try, not succeed) then she might be able to do perform similar 'miracles' for humans, though to a lesser extent.
The problem, really, was that Kagome had the most experience with directing her powers exclusively towards the act of purifying, which is actually a destructive force. She was only now, after everything was over, learning how to direct her powers into the more passive pathways. Healing, which was a creative power, was in contradiction to the use she had set her powers to for so long. Kagome knew she was going to have a hard time.
Learning to be passive was much, much harder than being destructive had been, but still would be easier than being creative would be.
At least, Kagome had assumed that learning this healing would be harder. She was proven wrong the instant she began to use her powers to coax the bone to grow and the muscles to re-form and the skin to cover and the fur to spring forth once more. Healing came to Kagome even more easily than purifying had.
"Stop," Sesshoumaru ordered when Kagome reached the ankle/wrist joint. "The bones of the paw are complicated. This Sesshoumaru is satisfied with what has been accomplished. Eat now Miko. You have used much of your energy this night."
Kagome wanted to object, to keep going, but she knew that it was pointless. She could tell that, as easily as the healing had come to her, she had very nearly burned herself out.
"And how long, if you stay in your natural form, will it take for your paw to grow back?" Kagome asked as she banked the fire and withdrew a muesli bar to eat while she set up her sleeping bag for the night. "I remember InuYasha was essentially back to normal nearly over night after you put your hand through his middle."
"I did not destroy any of his bones," Sesshoumaru countered. "However, I am a full demon and have some of your healing powers still lingering and itching beneath my skin. My paw will be restored by tomorrow afternoon."
Kagome nodded in understanding, slipped into her sleeping bag, and bid the large demon goodnight. It didn't take her long to fall asleep, and once her breathing evened out, Sesshoumaru allowed his mind to turn to their earlier conversation of philosophies.
Yin and Yang. Woman and Man. Human and Demon? It certainly seemed to fit. As a male, he was Yang. He was solid, powerful, fast and hard and bright as the day with his white pelt. In contrast, the little human sleeping just a few feet away was delicate, gentle, slow and soft and ... she was night with her dark hair and deep brown eyes. And she was female.
There was another philosophy that Sesshoumaru had learned, long ago. It was the philosophy of what made a man a true man – be they human or demon.
It was the philosophies of Wen and Wu. It was because of these philosophies and his adherance to them that he was able to instruct the miko in the proper uses of her powers. It was also these philosophies that he measured all males against, and why he continued to find so many of them lacking. Particularly his little brother. A mastery of both Wen and Wu was vital to being a true and exemplary male specimen. InuYasha barely conducted himself properly for half of the Wu philosophy. No, InuYasha wasn't even half a man, however half human he may have been. The few aspects of Wu that InuYasha had any talent in – martial, physical, battle-readiness – he was still poor in. His deficiencies were hidden by his possession of the Tetsusaiga of course, so that he looked strong even when the strength was all of the sword.
The brat lacked power, he lacked self-control, he lacked the ability to contain himself at all. He had no skills in persuasion and little in the way of body to brag about. No, InuYasha was a deficient man by the standards of Wu.
By the standards of Wen, on the other hand... InuYasha may as well have been a eunuch. The brat didn't seem to use his brain at all. He was uneducated and did not seek to alter this. He was about as unrefined as it was possible to be and if faced with the prospect of anything vaguely political would likely start waving his sword around.
The philosophies of Wen and Wu were not of brawn over brain or brain over brawn, but rather of having both intelligence and strength in equal quantities while tempered with self-control. Self-control was the one aspect that was part of both these philosophies. Sesshoumaru was a master of it. He sometimes doubted that his little brother had ever even heard of the concept.
The thought struck Sesshoumaru then that the miko embodied Wen and Wu better than InuYasha did, and he snorted softly in amusement. Perhaps they went towards making a 'true woman' as well, and compounded by her being Yin... and himself being Yang...
Sesshoumaru shook his head, trying to forcefully rid himself of such thoughts. He clearly hadn't slept long enough recently.
Crossing his forelegs at the wrist – and yes, his left wrist was there in its entirety now, and he was beginning to re-grow the bones for his toes – Sesshoumaru lay his head down and closed his eyes. Yes, sleep would banish the strange thoughts that the human girl, the miko, was anything to do with him but a companion of his foolish little brother.