Frozen inside, Sesshoumaru did not react as his mother and the leader of his council gave him their demands. He would never let either of them see just how much their words pained and enraged him... never.
He merely stared at them blandly, his icy demeanor the same as it always was. But he swore that one day... both would die most terribly by his hand.
"I have seen the way you look at that human miko, Sesshoumaru," his mother spat hatefully, "and I will never tolerate my son following in his damned father's footsteps. You will take Yue to mate and produce pure inuyoukai as heirs for the West. If you so much as look at that disgusting human once more, she and that kitsune she cares for will not only die at my claws... they will suffer at them. I will not remove the threat to them until you have mated Yue."
Bored expression firmly in place, Sesshoumaru met his mother's eyes. "You must truly despise her to throw her to the fate you are in forcing my hand in this matter. I greatly detest being forced into anything, you know this."
Looking surprised, Satori stared suspiciously at her son. "I adore Yue – what makes you think I dislike her?"
Pointedly examining his claws, Sesshoumaru said, "You are condemning her to a life of hell, forcing me to mate her. I despise the bitch. On my father's blood she will be miserable. I vow it."
The hitherto silent leader of the council spoke up then, his own eyes narrowed angrily. "My daughter is perfect for the role as Western Lady. She has the breeding and the power to be a match to you. What is there to hate?"
Turning to look slowly at the male, something in his eyes gave him away and the older male shrank back slightly, suddenly not so certain that forcing the deadly Sesshoumaru's hand in this manner was a good idea. But once Satori got something into her mind that was it, and he was well aware that it was too late to back out now – his daughter would be the Lady of the West.
And kami help them all, because one day Sesshoumaru would get his revenge.
"Your daughter is just one of the many useless, greedy, and boring females that inhabit the courts, always trying any trick to entice me into mating them. You will regret this one day, this I promise you." His gaze moved to his mother, who was scowling. "You as well, woman." He stared her down for several more moments, and then said, "Very well. I will mate the wench the next time her fertile cycle comes."
With that the cold Lord walked away, not looking back once at his now satisfied mother.
But inside rage and hatred burned, and he swore that he would have his vengeance one day.
As you have denied me happiness, mother, so I will deny your little pet bitch Yue happiness. Mark my words... you will all three rue the day you threatened the miko and forced my hand.
Trying and failing to appear demure, the day of Yue's fertility arrived and she prepared herself to be mated by the male every female youkai lusted after. Head full of self-satisfied dreams and wanting nothing more than to gloat to the world that he was about to be hers, she went to her fate...
And found it wasn't what she'd thought it would be.
She had been so certain that she would be able to wrap him around her finger with just a little coaxing – after all, she was a beautiful female and was well-liked by his mother. She had the bearing to be the Lady of the West and was quite powerful on her own – a perfect match for him. They would create powerful pups between them, something she had been so certain would please him.
But the day of her mating showed her just how wrong she had been...
Looking forward to being bedded by the gorgeous male she had prepared herself for his pleasure and gone to his rooms, thinking that was where she would be sleeping from now on – only to find out how wrong she was. He had personally thrown her out of them, having Jaken take and show her to her new rooms – on the other side of the palace and as far away from him as possible.
As if that wasn't bad enough, when he did show up to commence the mating and she attempted to be seductive for his benefit he had been very blunt in letting her know of his hatred and contempt for her, his complete lack of attraction to her, and that he required nothing from her other than that she present herself for mating with no fuss so that he could get his unpleasant duty over with as quickly as possible.
Shocked, she had assumed the position – at which point he had rejected her, saying that she wasn't yet in the height of her heat and he would wait. When she'd asked why that mattered, confused, she'd been stunned even more when he'd stated that as he had no intentions of ever touching her again once he'd sired the all-important heir on her, he wanted to wait 'til she was at her most fertile so he would only be required to touch her once and no more.
Bewildered by his coldness, she'd asked why he hated her so... and he told her.
"You are a scheming whore, along with my worthless mother. You may have succeeded in placing yourself as the Lady here with my mother's connivance, but I despise you as much as I despise her – and the easy life you'd thought to have at my expense will not be what you get. You will quickly come to regret ever being part of this scheme, I promise you, wench."
Sure enough, when her scent showed her to be at the height of her heat he ordered her into position, mounted her, and forced himself to perform. Within an hour her scent had shifted, proving she was indeed pupped... and he left her rooms, his duty done, never to return to them again.
Satori and Yue learned the hard way that they had bitten off more than they could chew with what they had done – Satori hadn't been smart enough to constrict his behavior more through threats to the little miko he was so obsessed with, only requiring that he mate Yue and sire an heir on her in return for leaving Kagome alone. Because of this they left an open field for the daiyoukai in terms of how he dealt with them both, and even Yue's father could do nothing about it.
Satori was tossed from the Western Palace and forbidden entrance ever again. Her word held in bond she couldn't even take out her anger on the completely ignorant Kagome, and was left with no recourse but to watch the goings on in the Western Palace from afar and be able to influence those happenings not at all. Sesshoumaru made his hatred of her quite clear, and told her bluntly that if she ever approached him or ever attempted to access his heir she would die.
She couldn't miss that he meant every word, and was left to stew in her impotent anger in her own palace, firmly locked out of the life she'd so enjoyed in the Western Courts and unable to assist her friend Yue in her now hellish life.
As for Yue, she found that her attempts at seduction, at gaining her mate's attentions were completely in vain – and in fact nearly ended up with her death on more than one occasion. True to his word, once she was impregnated he never came near her or touched her again, and quite blatantly forbid her presence anywhere he was. He began taking all his meals in his study, and rarely left it unless patrolling his lands. When duty called and he was forced to attend the Lords of the other lands for whatever political reason she was not on his arm, and when asked, he stated straight out that she was a political consideration and that he absolutely detested her and would never appear with her in any setting whatsoever.
Her father was unable to do anything to help her – Sesshoumaru was looking for the slightest reason to be able to kill him, and he didn't dare push himself forward in any way. The only thing he could tell his daughter was that she must simply wait and hope that at some point his anger would abate, and that he would then become more amenable to her.
As she grew bigger with child Yue began to hope that with the birth of his heir he would warm to her – she could not understand why she couldn't manipulate him as she had her other lovers. He should have been happy to get between her thighs, much as all the others had been...
And Sesshoumaru simply bided his time, knowing that one day he would be able to gain his revenge on the three for interfering with his chance at happiness.
I am bitterly yours, mother... most bitterly yours. And someday I will return that bitterness to you, I promise.
Not that Kagome had known of his interest in her. He had just decided to ask her permission to court her before his mother had forced his hand – he would never do anything that would endanger her, and so she had never realized that he cared for her.
For the longest time he had watched her from a distance, thinking she would end up with his brother, but in the end that whelp had forsaken her for the undead miko, leaving her alone in a world that wasn't hers but which she was trapped in, the well having closed when the jewel was destroyed.
Now the most he could hope for was occasional visits with her as no more than a once ally rather than the lovers he had so hoped to be. He had been bitterly certain he would be forced to watch her age and die since, as he hadn't been able to mate her, she would not have his life-span... it became apparent however, after about fifteen years that she wasn't aging for whatever reason, and though he was surprised he was quite pleased with that fact.
It gave him an idea... and a hope that maybe having her as his someday might not be so impossible as he'd thought – if he had patience.
Time went by, and Sesshoumaru's heir was born and grew in power and skill, resembling his great father completely and his manipulative mother not at all to his sire's great relief and pleasure. The pup, within a very few years refused on his own to have anything to do with his mother, being very intelligent and easily able to see her for what she was – a greedy, manipulative female with no redeeming qualities. She'd tried one too many times to use him to get into his father's good graces, and it had never worked. He had no desire to be used by his mother in such a manner and was very happy when his father finally ordered her to stay away from him.
Sesshoumaru couldn't deny he was pleased with his heir, and the two were very close, rarely apart from each other as the daiyoukai trained his scion for what would one day be his duties. Ginkoutaishii, for that was his name, was even well aware of his father's desire for the young human miko he'd seen many times while on patrol – his sire always made a trip to see her while out of the palace.
He liked her – she was warm and welcoming, and didn't have a false bone in her body unlike his own mother. He was quite willing to see his sire court and mate her... once his mother was taken care of and out of the way, of course.
And so passed more years...
Kagome sat back on her heels and sighed, looking around with a resigned expression at the lack of dokudami in the clearing she was in. Putting a hand to her back, she wrinkled her nose at the thought of getting up and moving to another area only to get back down to harvest the needed herb.
"I'm getting too old for this," she joked to her companion, and Shippo laughed.
A full grown kitsune now with two tails, the fox she'd raised grinned at her. "Whatever you say, mama. Old. Ha. You don't look any older than you did when the hunt for Naraku ended, and that was what... almost sixty years ago?"
She stood, shooting him an exasperated look. "Sure, Shippo, make me feel better by bringing up how old I really am," she said. "I'm getting a crick in my back and all you can do is tease me. Fat lot of good having a strong, healthy son is doing me right now."
Bowing teasingly at her, he took the basket from her and tucked her arm solicitously under his. "Come on then, honored mother, I will assist your feeble form in completing your chores," he chuckled, ducking when she swatted playfully at him before laughing and taking her basket back.
"Oh, give me that, you brat. Now I know why Inuyasha was always pounding you on the head, you pain in the rear!"
The two wandered further into the woods as they teased each other back and forth, just enjoying each other's company.
It had been almost sixty years since the fall of Naraku, and Kagome and Shippo had been inseparable since the day she'd found her way home no longer working.
Forsaken by Inuyasha when a somehow living Kikyou showed up in the village with no explanation as to how she'd gotten that way, Kagome had quickly chosen to move with Sango and Miroku to the slayer's village they were determined to rebuild, and along with Kohaku had been the first members of the new village.
They'd been there ever since, Kagome making an excellent healer and village miko. Though Sango had tried many times to interest her in some man or another, not wanting to see her friend alone, Kagome had never shown any interest in anyone since Inuyasha's betrayal. And so she was still alone, even as she'd watched her friends marry, produce a family, and just a few years ago pass on together to go to the next world. It wouldn't have mattered even if she had shown interest, though... since who would marry a woman who wasn't aging?
Her only remaining companions from her original shard hunting days were now Shippo and Kirara... and several times a year Sesshoumaru would show up and visit.
As Shippo took off to meet with some friends from the village to go hunting for the cooking pits, Kagome's thoughts turned to the real reason she'd never shown interest in anyone else... the daiyoukai.
No one had ever known that by the time Inuyasha had turned away from her for Kikyou she'd no longer cared, her interests laying in the opposite direction. Kagome had grown too much, matured too much to remain attracted to Inuyasha – instead his gorgeous, elegant and mature older brother had stolen her heart right out from under the oblivious hanyou.
She'd always known that she'd never have a chance with him, of course, and she'd been surprised the first time he'd come to visit her after Naraku's fall. She'd been honored he'd even thought of her as a useful ally, and that he'd remembered her at all. It had been something she'd been hopelessly happy about every time he'd show up to visit – usually four or five times a year. He never spoke about his life, simply inquiring about hers and carrying on different discussions with her, so when he'd shown up with a younger version of himself the first time she'd had a hard time hiding the pain she'd felt at knowing he'd married and had a son.
She'd felt so alone then, forlorn in a way she'd never felt so deeply before – not even when Inuyasha had run off to Kikyou so many times in her younger years. But she'd clamped down hard on those feelings, reminding herself that she had no right to feel that way – Sesshoumaru wasn't hers and never would be.
Still... she'd never understood his visits... sometimes wishing she had the courage to ask him, but she didn't. She didn't want to make him rethink them and stop coming, because those visits were the highlights of her life... as sad as that was.
Sitting back and brushing her locks back over her shoulders as the breeze flirted with them she sighed, a bit melancholy. Never, back when she was younger and going back and forth through an old wooden well would she have thought her life would turn out this way...
"An old maid, alone and with no hope for anything else," she said slowly to herself. "What a mess."
She let her mind wander, wondering about his wife. What's she like? And why doesn't he ever talk about her? It's so strange – he never speaks about anything personal except his son. Shaking her head, she wondered what he would do if she were ever to actually ask about her.
Chuckling to herself she said, "Probably ice up on me and tell me that she was not the concern of a lowly ningen such as myself."
After another moment she put aside such useless thoughts and turned her mind back to her gathering, wanting to get done with it before dark. She didn't really want to have to come out here tomorrow as well, though the peace outside the village was nice sometimes.
She worked for some time gathering her stores of herbs, and was just getting ready to head back to the village she called home when the attack came.
Turning, she had mere seconds to put up a barrier before youki slammed into it, sizzling into nothingness against her power. Confused, she stared at the youkai now standing outside her barrier with hatred pouring from her aura.
"Who the heck are you, and why are you attacking me?" she asked in confusion, totally blindsided. This was a personal attack, and the woman staring at her with such hatred was after her, specifically – she could feel it. She was beautiful, wearing obviously expensive clothing, and was quite powerful as evidenced by her attack.
She was also someone she had never seen before.
"You are nothing but a wretched human, even if you are a miko! Yet you are the reason my mate rejects me!" she snarled, obviously enraged as her eyes bled scarlet and fangs and claws lengthened. It was clear that she was about to transform.
Dumbfounded, Kagome blinked, her jaw dropping in shock. "Ummm, if you could enlighten me... I don't even know who you are. And who's your mate? I'm afraid I'm at a loss to understand what you're talking about," she finished, her confusion more than obvious.
It took the female youkai aback and she blinked narrowed eyes at Kagome, beginning to wonder if what she'd been told was correct – but only for a moment.
"My mate is Sesshoumaru, and my name is Yue. Do you deny that you know him, then?" she asked haughtily.
Startled, Kagome shook her head, barrier still firmly in place. "Of course I know Sesshoumaru – we were allies against Naraku. But that was long ago, and I only occasionally even see him when he stops in the village and visits myself and my son Shippo. So what did you mean that I'm the reason he's rejecting you? Whatever gave you an idea like that? Sesshoumaru hates humans!"
"Liar! You are the one my father told me of – the reason that my mate has never wanted me. If I kill you then he will have no further reason to turn from me," Yue snapped, bringing her youki up again to attempt to break through the barrier keeping her from destroying the human that her Lord wanted so badly.
Kagome was getting irritated by this time, and it showed in her voice as she poured more power into her barrier. "I don't know what your father told you, but I have nothing to do with how Sesshoumaru treats you or doesn't. We're nothing more than somewhat friendly former allies, and how you can think that has any bearing on how Sesshoumaru feels about you is beyond me!" she retorted.
"You foolish bitch!" The half-transformed Yue gave a wretched scream. "It is because he is in love with you that he rejects me! His mother and my father forced his hand on the matter of taking me as his mate – and it is an insult that he had to be coerced into mating one such as I, and all over a useless, filthy human bitch like you!"
Stunned breathless, Kagome couldn't do anything more than stare at the female, eyes wide and totally shocked. It can't be true... that's... no, something's wrong with this picture. Sesshoumaru would never love a human. It's ludicrous... but oh... how I wish it were true, she thought, her battered heart bleeding just a little more at that sad thought.
"You surely don't know Sesshoumaru then, if you think that, since he would never allow himself to feel anything like love for a simple human," Kagome finally returned, turning her mind to the battle about to commence. With her being Sesshoumaru's mate Kagome couldn't bring herself to purify her – even if she and he were on bad terms she didn't think the daiyoukai would appreciate her killing his mate and the mother of his heir. So what could she do? For now simple defense, and hope the female got tired of attacking her after a while.
She was surprised to see the woman draw a katana from her obi, and with a sigh realized that Yue was probably going to channel her youki through that. Damn! I wonder what kind of attacks that one has? I really didn't need this...
Before Yue could do more than draw her weapon however, two auras practically exploded onto the scene, dropping to the ground right in front of her barrier. When the dust cleared, Kagome was surprised but relieved to see Sesshoumaru – and his son Ginkoutaishii. Silver crown prince, Kagome thought idly as the fading sunlight hit the younger male's hair, lighting it as beautifully as his sire's. A more appropriate name I could not imagine for him... sweet personality, too. Hard to believe that woman's his mother.
Confronted by her furious mate Yue shrank back, bitter, angry – and very afraid. His aura was raging, and that never meant anything good. She started to speak but he cut her off immediately.
"Silence," he snapped icily, his voice quiet and soft, but oh, so deadly. Not looking away from her, he said, "Take the miko and escort her back to her village, Ginkoutaishii, and stay there with her. I will come to you when I am finished dealing with this... situation."
Kagome watched all bewildered as Sesshoumaru stared his mate down, and then turned to look at Ginkoutaishii as he turned to her and motioned for her to drop her barrier. Nodding she did as asked, and he moved forward to take her arm with courtly grace. "Are you unharmed, Kagome-sama?" he asked, his voice concerned as he led her from the clearing without a backwards glance at his beyond angry father or his mother.
Dazed, she could do little more than nod as she attempted to get her whirling brain to settle down. "Umm," she started, then hesitated before finishing, "what was that really all about?" in a confused rush.
The young inuyoukai prince shrugged. "Yue has finally gone too far in her quest for power and control of Father, and he will probably kill her. It will be no great loss," he said casually, to Kagome's shock.
"But... isn't she your mother? You don't mind that he's going to kill her?!" she asked, horrified.
She didn't miss his displeased expression.
"It is technically true that the female did give birth to me. However, she is no mother to me. And as for her finding her death at father's hands, it is about time if you ask me. She has gotten away with far too much, but only because of my father's mother's threats against you. However, Yue has now acted against their agreement and because of that she has negated it. Actually, I believe that Yue, her father, and Father's mother will all find their ends at Father's claws this day. I cannot say I blame him – had they done to me what they did to him, I would have killed them as well."
Looking back over her shoulder as a high-level barrier went up, Kagome frowned as something he'd said sank in, and her head whipped around as she stared at the crown prince of the Inuyoukai with solemn lapis eyes. "Wait a minute... what did you mean Sesshoumaru's mother threatened him using me?"
Gintoukaishii met her gaze calmly. "That is something for father to explain when he arrives at your home, Kagome-sama. I have said enough as it is." He eyed her concerned and confused gaze, and sighed. "Please, do not feel badly for Yue's fate, or the fates of the others. Youkai and ningen do not see eye to eye on many things, death and the dealing of it being one of them. All I can say is that they have kept my father from happiness for decades with their actions, and now he is finally going to be free to gain that which he has desired for so many years."
Shaking her head uneasily Kagome could do little more than accept his words, since she was completely in the dark about all the undercurrents floating around suddenly. Unless someone decided to clue her in on what was happening she couldn't judge anything about this situation. So she simply led the young inu to her house at the edge of the village nearest the gates and invited him in to take tea with her as they waited for his father's arrival.
Hopefully it wouldn't be a long wait... Kagome was ready to fly apart with tension and worry over what had transpired already, and according to Ginkoutaishii was still to occur.
She needed answers, and by the kami she was going to get some when the normally stoic daiyoukai arrived to retrieve his son.
Whether he liked it or not.
The silence left behind in the clearing between the two inuyoukai was deafening – and cold. Sesshoumaru said not a word to Yue for some time, inwardly struggling for control.
Finally, after decades of misery the day of his freedom from the chains his mother had bound him with was at hand – Yue's actions negated the agreement he'd had with his mother, and he was now in a position to protect Kagome if need be while destroying his mother and her pet bitch – she would be unable to harm the miko before she was dead at his hand, just as he'd promised that day so long ago.
After several minutes of simply staring at her blankly, enjoying seeing Yue cower before him, he held up his right hand and cracked the knuckles in preparation – and slowly smiled, a deadly expression that had Yue panicking as soon as she saw it.
But Sesshoumaru said nothing, not responding to her pleas at all nor her screams, and within minutes she was dead, her body dissolved by his poison as though she'd never even existed.
From here on out the only evidence that she ever had would be his heir, his son.
As the barrier dropped he flashed into his orb form, a wicked light in his eyes as he headed for his mother's palace.
Now it is my chance to return my bitterness to you, bitch.
Be thankful that I need to return to my miko quickly – it is the only thing that spares you a long and much more painful death.
She hadn't even known what was happening as he'd landed on the steps of her palace and stalked up to her pretentious 'throne' – not until he'd actually laid hands on her and thrown her away from it, to her shock as well as everyone's there. But with his youki elevated and raging as it was no one dared to approach him, especially not in defense of a female that was universally disliked, anyway.
"Sesshoumaru! What is the meaning of this?" she'd screamed, struggling to her feet after landing so hard against the granite floor of the palace that she'd left a hole in it. "How dare you put your hands on me!"
He'd stared at her with an inimical expression on his face that had her blood running cold, though she'd refused to show her fear.
"I warned you the day you forced me to mate that repulsive bitch Yue that one day I would have my revenge, wench," he drawled coldly, "and thanks to the foolish whore you pushed on me, today is that day. She attacked the miko, Satori, and that means that the agreement we had has been broken."
Satori's eyes widened with horror. "What have you done to her?" she gasped, unable to keep her normally haughty expression under Sesshoumaru's icy glower.
Her day got a thousand times worse when he began to grin, a dangerous, sharp expression to match the gleaming fangs he was baring at her, and he answered sibilantly, "Why, I killed her, what else? Did you really think I would let any of you live once I was in a position to get my revenge for your manipulations? You made my life a living hell, where I could barely stand to be in my own home for the disgust I felt at even looking at your pretentious little pet whore," he spat, "could you have possibly been such a fool as to believe I would just stay forever under your thumb like a meek little lamb? The moment that bitch attacked the miko she bought her death as well as her father's and yours, and I took great pleasure in taking her life." He raised his claws, letting his eyes fall closed as he licked one, to his mother's horror almost sensually, clearly remembering the taste of the blood he'd cleaned from them before coming after her. "Her screams were so satisfying and her blood, though base and far too common for my taste normally, was nonetheless also satisfying in its own way." He opened his eyes and pinned her with them. "I wonder how yours will taste? Probably just as common and base, but one cannot have everything, I suppose," he shrugged.
With no warning he disappeared in a streak of light, and all those still gathered on the portico froze in horror as the blood began to flow, the screams being ripped from Satori's throat gradually dying down as Sesshoumaru literally tore her to pieces. By the time he was done there was little left of his mother but ruined flesh and a blood-soaked pelt laying in a gory pile at the foot of her throne.
Into the terrified silence Sesshoumaru, who was not even breathing hard spoke, his voice cold enough to freeze the blood in those still living. "Clean this mess up. When I eventually return I want all of her personal possessions and clothing gone from here. This place is now mine, and I will decide what I wish to do with it in good time. Am I making myself clear?" he asked, glancing around the portico with an icy gaze.
No one said a word, and he turned and leapt over the balcony and into the air, leaving behind not one regret for his mother's death. She had made his life hell for decades with her manipulations, and he was merely returning the favor.
Now it was her turn to dwell in hell.