All Inuyasha properties belong to Rumiko Takahashi. I'm just futzing around with her ideas.
As always, big thanks to: Someones Desire for reviewing. Also to: Kattana, fluffbons, ttcouplesluvver, 2featherbraids and Isis36 for placing this on their alerts. Also to: ttcouplesluvver for putting this on their favorites. Thanks guys!
*Note: Some of the concepts Kouga will talk about about are addressed in Draconic Ban-Sidhe's story: Unsung Silence. While the concepts themselves aren't new in European literature, I've never seen them incorporated in an Inuyasha story until then. While I did not copy, there are probably going to be similarities, unconscious or not. (If you like long Sess/Kag fics, you should check it out.)
They were both cradling a cup of re-heated tea and sitting on Kagome's bed after they had both showered. Kouga took a few minutes, trying to figure out how to start. Words were never really his strong suit but he tried his best.
Youkai had made a new world for themselves. The emergence of humans was an annoyance for the once dominant species. When it was made clear that humans would not be eradicated, the youkai had gone in search of a place where they did not have to deal with this new breed of pest. While humans had used their technologies to conquer the skies and what they could see, youkai used their magic and extra senses to turn their gazes inward. They discovered a new plane of existence. Kouga likened it to another dimension. It was still on earth, but it was a completely different world.
The youkai had migrated into this new place. It was perfect. Still wild and spacious, youkai could run and rule themselves without worrying about being eradicated. But their new space had to be protected. The way in was limited to four gates. Each Cardinal Lord had one, and for Sesshomaru's gate, Kouga had been asked to be Gatekeeper.
"I accepted. I still had some Pack on this side too. This way I could watch both halves of my people. Ginta oversees those across the Divide and Hakkaku keeps the Pack in line over here. I make sure the Pack has a good living everywhere. That grocery store we were at? That was mine. It's run solely by youkai and I have a few business holdings all over Japan. That way youkai are employed without having to worry about being discovered." Kouga thought carefully before addressing what had happened to him.
"On the other side… It's still like the Feudal Era. Kill or be killed. Unfortunately, some youkai think they would rather tear apart a human or two instead of each other. When that does happen, it's my job to stop them." He took a long sip of tea before continuing.
"The gate is not a physical thing. It's a spiritual force and my youki is all tied up in it. So when someone tries to pass when they're not authorized, it keeps them on their side and lets me know. Most often, it's a lost human or a nosy demon. And sometimes it's a pack out for blood."
Kagome had tried to be silent as he talked, but this time she couldn't hold in her gasp. He gave her a soft grin.
"It's just you?" She exclaimed.
He shrugged, not being prideful, just honest. "They're usually just knuckleheads. Pups or younglings with their heads too far up their ass to realize how much damage a gun can do. No one has gotten through. I have a perfect record," he declared, this time being prideful. He smiled sardonically at himself straight afterwards. "But sometimes they get a few licks in."
Kagome's eyes narrowed. "How often does…this happen to you?"
Kouga winced under her gaze and shrugged. He thought of all the times he had dragged himself back to his apartment and spent an agonizing night alone. In those times, he missed the Pack the most. Waking up to another warm body and just being in a place full of people had been the best thing he had felt since he had accepted his job.
"It's a good deal," he defended.
"But… you're all alone?" She questioned.
Ouch. Kagome knew where to hit a wolf where it hurt. He couldn't help the grimace that stole across his face. Kagome stared at his canine teeth, fascinated.
"It's not a bad deal," he repeated.
Kagome let it go. They sat in tense silence for a few seconds, before she gasped. He snapped into alertness, looking around the room for the danger.
"What?" The demon asked sharply.
His friend gave him a sheepish smile. "Your tail is back." She admitted.
He looked down at the bedspread. There, between their knees, was his tail lying docilely between them. He looked down at his claws and when he spoke, his fangs were visible. His ears had also returned to their points too.
"No," Kagome stopped him. "I was wondering why I could never see your tail."
He smiled. "Kagome," he chastised, "I can't let my youki go on a shrine. It's rude."
She giggled at his prim tone. "I promise, the owners don't mind." It was good to see him like this. No more secrets.
He flicked her with his tail. "Why thank you. But if I hadn't been healing, I probably would have not allowed my glamour to fall."
She waved it off. "Can I ask you another question, Kouga?"
He refilled his cup. "You don't have to ask that. Just do it."
She took a nervous breath. "Are you alone? I mean… is there anyone else that… that you can go home to?"
He froze. Why did she need to know? His heart started pounding as he weighed the implications of such a question. Did she want to know?
"You mean romantically, then?"
A small bit of red crept up her neck, but she met his gaze steadily. "Maybe. Is there anyone that takes care of you?"
His instincts were clamoring so loud, he almost did not hear her. That was exactly what he wanted her to ask. It was a question a good potential mate would ask. He would provide protection and she would provide comfort and healing. A little old-fashioned maybe, but he was over five hundred. It was habit and written into his DNA.
But still, he couldn't muck this one up.
He looked her straight in her eyes when he answered. "No."
"Why not? Haven't you found someone yet? I mean, it's been over five hundred years."
He hid his smile behind his cup. "Five hundred years honestly does not mean the same thing to me as it does to you. Sure, I have had a lot of time and I've met some women. But we age slower than you. If I look twenty-six that's because I probably have the physical maturity of a twenty-six year old. After that, I have many, many more years. No need to rush into things."
Kagome did not look convinced.
"Why aren't you with someone?" He shot back.
Fair enough. She nodded her defeat then said firmly: "In that case, if that ever happens again, you can come here..." The priestess thought of something. "You should come here."
Kouga could not help himself. He grinned and used her arm to tug her over. He buried his face into her hair. "Thank you." He breathed.
On Mondays, they started going on field trips. Kouga took her to some of the businesses he owned, and some he didn't. She met a lot of youkai who were delighted to meet someone who remembered the "good old days." The fact that she was the Shikon Miko made them respect her even more.
Kouga had placed only youkai he trusted with his life as the managers of his businesses. He had a hand in everything from grocery stores to real estate. Kagome was sufficiently impressed and realized by the success of all of them, that he must be pretty rich.
"You own a lot of things." She stated the obvious.
Obvious or not, he still seemed a little embarrassed. "At the beginning, Sesshomaru would provide the capital. I was given shares in return for overseeing everything. After I had accumulated enough money myself, people started turning to me. The people that run these things have the ideas. It's their work, I just write the checks and make sure everything is squared away legally wise."
They had been sitting in the office of the tanuki who ran the market Kagome loved. The youkai had been delighted that the Shikon Miko frequently patronized her store, and to Kagome's embarrassment, had rushed out to gather some free samples of everything the priestess had said she liked. The tanuki had shuffled in right on time to hear Kouga's capitulation.
"Don't listen to him!" The glamoured youkai had exclaimed, excitedly. She thrust free products into Kagome's arms so she could gesture widely at Kouga. "He has a fantastic business mind. If anyone starts failing, he cleans it up right fast. He's the exact person that you can go to if you need help. He-"
Kagome giggled at Kouga's blush as the older tanuki happily extolled Kouga's virtue.
"Seems you've got a fan." She whispered once they had escaped.
He decided not to respond.
The rest of Kagome's days were spent selling traditional medicines and they were actually a huge hit. Word of mouth served her well and even people from different cities came to see the miko. Her grandpa was over the moon. There were more and more visitors who actually did not mind hearing his stories or the abridged ones Kagome had told him. Even the gift shop revenue picked up and for the first time in years, their finances were finally in the black. Kouga was happy for them. A year passed.
Kagome also practiced her archery. The bow in her fingers felt like an old friend. She did not tell Kouga she was practicing. But she knew that when she finally proposed her plan, she would need to be convincing. Her determination made it so she was in top form in no time.
It was just as well, because when Kouga dragged himself into her house with his arm almost torn off, she could not hold her tongue any longer.
"There has got to be a better way to do this!" She huffed when she woke up and realized Kouga had migrated from her bed upstairs to tangle himself up in the guest futon with her.
Kouga looked abashed. "I'm sorry, I'll just-"
"No," she amended, placing a hand on his arm. "You can stay, but I cannot let you go and guard such an important place by yourself."
He looked at her warily, not relaxing. "What do you mean?"
Her chin jutted out in stubbornness. "I mean that I am coming with you."
They fought about it repeatedly. Not because Kouga did not believe in her, he just wanted her out of danger for once. She retorted that all she knew was fighting. She was not the clumsy, gangly teen he used to know. She had grown and her abilities had matured. He had retorted by saying she had responsibilities to the shrine and that he did not fight all the time. There were times of peace where she was not needed.
Kouga forgot that it was next to impossible to win a fight with a woman, much less with Kagome.
"Exactly! You don't fight all the time. I'll just go with you when you sense someone is at the gate and come back afterwards." She said.
"No. It doesn't work that way." He stated, crossing his arms.
Kagome's stance shifted from combative to plaintive. "You need someone to have your back. You know I can do it. You wouldn't let anything happen to me, and I won't let anything happen to you."
Kouga's resolve broke. She did not realize that she was everything he wanted. She wanted to be partners with him, which was perfectly in line with what his demon side was looking for in a mate. She had to be strong enough to bear his pups and contend with him. And she was. Kagome was a whirlwind of determination mixed with stunning kindness. The youkai community loved her. The human community loved her.
He loved her.
And he couldn't deny her a thing. He believed in her. So he took it up to Sesshomaru. The inuyoukai had simply raised a brow and told Kouga to do whatever he felt was best, but that miko powers intertwined with the gate's barrier would make it stronger than it had been since its foundation. The convoluted answer was Sesshomaru's new way of saying "yes."
Soon, the story of the Wolf Lord and the Shikon Miko guarding the gate became legend among the youkai. The other Lords were jealous of Sesshomaru's guardians and the Lord of the West was smug. There were hardly attacks after that, but their services were soon requested by other Gatekeepers. Kouga was proud of his partner and Kagome was glad hers was safe.
It took him another year to finally kiss her. They had been taking a much needed break under the Goshinboku with a meal of freshly made rice balls in between them. Kouga just couldn't take it anymore. So even while she was talking about a tourist she had met that day, he had pulled her over and melded his lips to hers. Six hundred odd years of experience or not, kissing someone you were truly committed to made the experience about a thousand times better. The Lord and Gatekeeper was immensely glad he was sitting down for that one.
They pulled apart, shocked at how brilliant a simple kiss could be. Kagome licked her lips and Kouga almost offered to do that for her. She spoke before he could.
"Does this mean that I'm your woman?" She joked breathlessly.
He laughed and pulled her close so he could bury his face in her hair. "Only if you want to be, Darling."
She just giggled in return and wrapped her arms around his shoulders. There they sat, with the wind sweeping their hair every which way. They had put the past aside and for the first time in a long time, were looking forward to the future.
They were ready.
And that is it. Hope you enjoyed it! If you did or did not, I would like to ask you to please leave a brief comment-if you please-about why. Thanks, I appreciate it. :)