Chapter 1: Sour
By : The Hatter Theory
Chapter 1 : Sour
Disclaimer: I don't own Inu Yasha, and I'm not making any money off of this.
AN: I'm currently copying everything over from FFNet to have everything in one spot. This story was originally published on June 30, 2001, and completed December 11, 2011
Excitement sent him flying out of bed. Sleep had not come easily, but it had come. However, the minute night began to shift into day, a mental alarm had gone off, waking him and urging him to be ready. The servant hadn't even arrive and he was washing at the basin, banishing any lingering traces of sleep that his own elation had missed.
By the time the servants had arrive with the new armor and a the elegant bow and quiver of arrows, he was clean and his hair, still damp, had been pulled into a high tail to match his father's, the tips of the leather thing swaying as he tried to stay perfectly still, his trembling betraying his inner frenzy to be ready.
The door opened, and the daiyoukai stepped in, his eyes flashing over the boy, smiling that wide, toothy smile that only he seemed able to muster.
"Leave us, I will see to the rest," The deep voice commanded. The servants, silent as ever, obeyed. Only their eyes betrayed their own curiosity, though even those questions were focused on the floor as they bowed themselves out. Only when they had gained some distance from the room did their questions start.
"Thank you father," The boy said, his eyes still on the ground respectfully. He heard a chuckle and looked up at the man he adored, a sudden smile blossoming in answer. Armor was pulled on, tied, tightened to his form.
"Do they suit?" The man asked, looking down at his son. The boy didn't even look at the armor, an almost exact copy of what the older inu wore in miniature, as he nodded happily.
"And your bow?"
"Then gather them and be ready, your mother awaits. Then we will be off." With that, the older inu moved away, out of the room. The second he was gone, Sesshoumaru let his excitement take control, if just for a few minutes, and gave himself a silent cheer, the new armor shifting almost noiselessly with him.
Once he had released enough energy to act calm once more, he slung the quiver over his shoulder and grabbed the boy. Truly it was a beautiful thing, perhaps made even more so because it had been commissioned for this exact day. Everything had a special glow, and nothing could be bad in his eyes. Even the ringing silence in the corridors of the shiro as he raced to the entrance, silence that was unusual in their home, couldn't penetrate and dim his excitement.
It wasn't until he was close to the front hall that he slowed, the voices, though quiet, enough to make him stop. They were angry! And they belonged to his parents! As an inuyoukai, he could hear everything, but the tone more than anything bothered him.
"He is still too young," His mother's voice insisted.
"He will have to leave your side sooner or later. Accept this, it will make it easier."
"He's too young-"
"He is my heir. As such, he must learn now."
The tone brooked no argument, and was said just as he was coming into their sight. His mother turned to him, her eyes full of resignation. When he stood before her, suddenly uneasy, she bent down and hugged him, earning a startled gasp from him. The Lady was not a demonstrative woman, and such a move served to further his apprehension.
"Obey your father," Was all she said, her tone as disconnected as it had been insistent moments ago.
"Yes, mother," He told her. She stepped away and bowed her head slightly. "My Lord, bring my son back to me safely." It was not her customary farewell, which Sesshoumaru had seen in the past. Normally, she wished her mate a safe journey and a swift return. Sesshoumaru was too busy staring at his father to see the narrowing of her eyes, or the warning they held.
"It is as you say," The daiyoukai rumbled. He walked away, not acknowledging his son's presence until they reached the two dragons waiting for them.
"Hayai is yours from now on."
"It's a girl," Sesshoumaru retorted snidely, staring at the green beast before him.
"She is faster than most, a gift from Ryukotsusei in honor of the occasion. She will serve you well."
"But it's a girl dragon," The boy whined. He was silenced with a look from the older man, and put his foot in the saddle, refusing to pout. It didn't work and it might make his father change his mind about allowing him to accompany him.
"Father, why are we riding there when we'd be faster in our own forms?" Sesshoumaru asked.
"It is wise to save energy, we will need all of it we can get," The daiyoukai replied blandly. "When we arrive, you will stay on Hayai, she will keep you above the field. You may use your weapons from there."
He wanted to be on the field, fighting with his father. Being relegated to a position where there was no danger seemed cowardly to the small inu, who had been taught that courage and honor was everything. What honor was there in taking a position where defense was as assured as his own attacks would be?
"I will not have time to worry about you. You will do as I say," He heard as the wind rushed by them, buffeting their hair. It was as if the old man had known what he was thinking.
They did not speak, not even when the sounds of the battle reached them, a cacophony of noises that threatened to deafen the boy even from a distance. His father only gave him another look, a wordless command to obey him, and was off. Hayai, seeming to understand only the older inu's orders, flew further up in the sky.
"My arrows won't reach anything here," Sesshoumaru told her, trying to force command into his tone. His father made it seem so easy. The dragon however, didn't listen.
"Just a little further down," He tried again. The dragon paced in the sky, finding a seeming grip on air. He tail twitched in agitation. Taking aim, he searched for something to shoot at. He could see his father on the field, the eye of the storm as his attacks flew through the field. The ground tore beneath the bursts of energy, and the child wondered why his father hadn't yet pulled Sou'unga from it's sheath. Surely the famous hell sword would end the battle quickly.
The wind changed, shifted, and Sesshoumaru felt something at his back. Turning in the saddle, his eyes widened at the sight of the youkai grinning at him. He had seen the demon before, and he almost gave thanks for his new dragon when he noticed the red eyes narrowed, the grin showing
"I told your father it wasss too sssoon," The dragon hissed. Sesshoumaru felt his stomach bottom out. Ryukotsusei leered at him, his eyes flashing victoriously.
"My father will defeat you!" Sesshoumaru challenged, refusing to let his fear enter his tone. Surely his father would see, would notice the youkai up in the sky, threatening his son?
Energy shot out, breaking the chest plate of his armor, cracking it in half. The force knocked him clear of the saddle, and even though he knew he could fly, knew he could transform, all he could do was stare at the mass of bodies he was hurtling towards in horror. Paralyzed by his terror, the battle seemed to rush up to meet him, a tangle of bodies and snarls and weapons clashing, the vivid, sharp lines of the crowd looking as if they would swallow him whole.
His landing was broken by another youkai, and the snarls that erupted were dimmed when it's eyes lit on him.
"What are doing here?" It shouted over the din, pulling the small body to him.
"Ryukotsusei threw me down here, I think he was trying to kill me!" Sesshoumaru cried out, eyes wide as he took in the sights of the battle. The youkai, obviously loyal to his father, was cutting down any that came at them, holding his sword one handed as the other kept the child pressed to his side.
"Inu no Taisho!" He called, trying to throw his voice over the noise of battle. But it was useless, even with the inu's hearing, it was bedlam on the field, and any call would be swallowed in the cries of the dying and the clash of swords and claw.
"Stay close, and don't let go," The youkai commanded. Sesshoumaru nodded, fighting back tears. Blood splashed over his clothing, even splattering on his face as a youkai fell next to hem. The sword in his savior's hands seemed to sing as the boy watched, wanting to turn away but too frightened of what could happen if he did. Fear pierced through him as even his savior seemed to lose himself in the rage of battle, snarls erupting from him that only proved how close he danced to the edge of sanity.
Finally, his father's silver hair came into view, and Sesshoumaru almost called out to him in relief. Instead, the inuyoukai turned, and Sesshoumaru was taken aback at the bloodlust in the youkai's eyes. Taisho was barely recognizable in the heat of battle, the noises coming from his throat unlike anything he'd ever heard before.
"Inu no Taisho!" His savior called.
"Roiyaru?" The red of his bloodlust flickered in his eyes, crimson bleeding out into gold.
"Your son was thrown from his dragon, said it was Ryukotsusei!" Roiyaru shouted, making himself heard to the inu. For the first time since Sesshoumaru had seen him on the field, his father looked to him, surprised to even see him there, as if he hadn't noticed.
"Get him out of here, now!" He was pulling the sword from his back, and Sesshoumaru swore he could hear deep, dark laughter. "Transform if you have to, but get him away from here."
"But the rules of battle-"
"This battle is a ruse to begin with, get the child out here!" Taisho snarled.
Roiyaru moved back, and Taisho held his son's shoulder. Other youkai came at them, trying to harm his father and get at the transforming youkai. Light flashed, but none stopped. The transformed Roiyaru, a red dog, stood before them and Sesshoumaru felt himself thrown into the air. He grappled at the fur and held on, barely able to get is seat when he was in the air again.
He heard his father shout something, felt the energy cleaving the air and looked back.
It looked like a purple tornado engulfing the field, leaving nothing but broken bodies and scarred earth in it's path. The screams echoed in his ears, and the roar of wind whipped his tears from his face. Bile rose in his throat, threatening to empty his stomach and he swallowed it down, stalwartly refusing to vomit into the other inu's fur.
They kept flying, and even when they were beyond the sounds of battle, Sesshoumaru could not forget the screams of the dying. His head clamored within, replaying everything in his head again and again, each time the sights becoming darker, more detailed and more frightening. Every trace of excitement became disgust.
The sour taste in his mouth lingered even when he was finally back in his home, his mother washing the blood from his face.
Chapter 2: Bitter
By: The Hatter Theory
Chapter 2: Bitter
Disclaimer: I don't own Inu Yasha.
Only as a small child had he used shinai. Once he had mastered the sword, he had left the bokken behind forever. Now he used live steel even for practice as he cleared his mind and let his feet move through the kata.
His mother had once remarked that he looked like a dancer as he went through the movements, first slowly, then again more quickly. He had banished her from watching him train that day.
Second set done, he sped up again, this time trying to recall the pace of that long ago battle. The sword came down, the metal humming as it flashed through the air. After several minutes he did one last set, slowly this time. He noted the shine of the sun reflecting off of the blade and decided that before he ate, he needed to bathe.
"Every morning, without fail, I can find you here."
"Strange, I barely ever see you here."
'Here' meant more than just the dojo to him, and his father knew that.
"Your mother left last night."
"I know." And I know why.
Silence permeated the dojo, and Sesshoumaru turned from the wall to face his father, schooling his expression.
"Since you were a child, you've been so serious about your swordsmanship. Is it because of the battle?"
He referred to his son's first brush with real violence, and Sesshoumaru knew that. But he refused to have the conversation that his father seemed determined to have.
"There have been many battles," He replied blandly. And there had. From the moment had had woken the day after that experience, he had trained, and trained hard. Determination to never be useless again, indeed, to ever be frightened of such an experience, had driven a young boy and made him close out the world. Scholastic pursuits had taken a far second to his study of war and weaponry.
When most his age were seeking their own pleasures, -rutting, parties and drink- he was throwing himself in battle after battle, whether in war with allies or one on one with anything he could find to challenge him.
"Your mother blamed me, for all of it. I think it's why we grew apart."
"If you seek forgiveness, you come to the wrong person. There is nothing to forgive."
"And yet you condemn me. Is it because of the woman?"
Another thing that his father referred to vaguely, and yet there was a specific person in mind. And as before, Sesshoumaru knew exactly what was on his father's mind. And also refused to acknowledge it.
"Your endeavors are your own."
"She is pregnant with my child. A son, I'm sure. You will soon have a little brother."
"He may be your child. He will not be my brother."
Sesshoumaru's tone had never changed from flat and apathetic, but his father's eyes narrowed, one of the few signs the man ever gave of his anger.
"I fight Ryukotsusei tonight."
"I understand, father."
The daiyoukai sighed as he stared down his son, trying to understand just how it had gone so wrong. The boy had been lively, had been loved and loving. Personality aside, his son was perfection given form. None could rival his abilities with a sword, or even in hand to hand. His mind worked quickly, and proved a match for his father's, or anyone else that challenged him. Despite the boy being emotionally frigid, there were many, many offers of daughters, all of which had been declined without even a glance.
"Someday you will understand," He appealed to his son.
Sesshoumaru walked past him, and Taisho watched him move further and further away.
"Do you insist on going, father?" He asked his fathers back.
"Will you stop me, Sesshoumaru?" The voice held no sign of the pain he was feeling. He stared at the moon, fighting the change that was slipping through him, his bones aching to shift into their natural size.
"I won't try to stop you. However, before you go, entrust Tessaiga and Sou'unga to me." The boy's voice was as cold as the bitter wind around them.
He didn't want to acknowledge the hurt in those words. His son, his heir, cared nothing for him, wouldn't even ask him to stay away long enough for his wounds to heal. Even if he could do no such thing, the effort itself would have been a kindness. But there was no kindness in the pup's heart.
"And if I say I won't? Will you kill me, your father? Do you desire power so much?" Taisho asked, ignoring the stab of pain from his shoulder. It had been pierced clean through, and even with his own abilities would take days to heal. His side had already become numb, although if it was the cold or shock, he wasn't sure.
When there was nothing but silence, he gave a made a rude noise and continued on. "Why do you seek power?"
"I walk the path of supreme conquest. It is power that will lead the way."
Taisho's eyes widened a fraction, then narrowed. For a boy that had bee given a taste of war too soon, he had overcome it, only to try and become a cause. It bothered him that a father's pride had brought this upon them both. Had it been too soon, had he been too young yet for even a distant view of battle? It hadn't mattered. But if he had just listened, would his son be different? Would he be happy? It was a question that haunted him.
"The way of supreme conquest. Tell me Sesshoumaru, do you have something to protect?"
"Something to protect?" He heard repeated. It was said in such a bewildered tone that Taisho wanted to weep. His son felt the need to protect nothing and no one. A cold, lonely existence, even for one who didn't realize it. Had he done this?
"I, Sesshoumaru, have no need of such."
It was too much. His son's heart was dead, and Tenseiga was perhaps the only thing able to revive it. Without looking back, he knew the stubborn pup was getting ready to come at him and take the swords by force if necessary.
Letting the change take him, he reveled in his natural form. No matter how much it felt like his heart was breaking, nothing could taint the joy of the change. Bones crunched and snapped and reformed, and the pain over in mere seconds.
He channeled his anger and despair for his heir into a call that rang out over the beach, getting lost in the roar of the ocean's waves. Then he lifted himself to the sky, running to Izayoi's love as much as he was running from his son's indifference.
"What use have I for a sword that cannot cut?" He asked himself. Bokusenou sensed his mood and said nothing for several minutes.
"Your father was a very wise man, and I am sure there is good reason for it."
He would not tell the inu those reasons, for Bokusenou had been the daiyoukai's closest friend, despite being a simple tree youkai. Nor would he mention the resting place of the black pearl. Myouga had said everything was taken care of, and he trusted in that. Now time would play it's role, and see to the wishes of the dead.
Sesshoumaru took the sword and tucked it into his sash, however tempted he was to leave it there. It had belonged to his father, and that was enough to make it worth keeping, even if it was useless to him. But those servants, they all should have known better. Briefly, he wondered if they held the others.
The most logical choice would be Totosai. Without a backward glance or a word to the tree youkai, he walked away, trying to recall where the blacksmith's forge was. Determined to receive the other swords, and to exact punishment on the ones foolish enough to keep him from his true inheritance, he glanced again at the sword on his hip.
If it had been his father's wish for him to receive the Tenseiga, then the old man had been as mad as Sesshoumaru thought. Dying for a human woman and a hanyou child, and now this. A strange feeling dimmed the sun and focused the world to a pinpoint. Determined to ignore it, he kept on the move, musing over the puzzle of his father's will.
Chapter 3: Savory
By: The Hatter Theory
Chapter 3: Savory
Disclaimer: I don't own Inu Yasha or anything affiliated with it. I'm just screwing around with it (albeit a very serious sort of screwing around).
Three high pitched screams pierced the air and he glanced at the dragon bearing his charge. Rin was in place, as well as the kitsune pup. The miko was falling, one of Magatsuhi's detachments unwrapping from around her. Her screaming stopped, although he could see her eyes clenched shut. Rin's shrieks only heightened in pitch and sound.
The sight of the battle seeming to rush up at him crowded his mind's eye. The fear that had paralyzed his mind, negating any chance of flight or transformation, stabbed him. She was a human, even less able than he, and had chosen to protect the children and fire that foolish bow. But she was not naive as he had been. And yet...
He knew he was a blur as he moved to catch the woman, and he resented her for taking him away from the battle. If she had not been so infernally weak she could protect herself. Catching her midair, he returned her to her seat on Ah Un and told them to go to ground. Kagome nodded, taking the reins and directing them down. He directed his mind to the battle, refusing to acknowledge the breath he had been holding. She had been spared his fate, at least.
The Tessaiga flashed and suddenly he felt the familiar tug of the meido. He turned, eyes widening as Inu Yasha made to swing the sword down.
The detachments spread even further apart, and Sesshoumaru snorted at the obvious ploy.
"Follow me," He told the monk and taijiya. He still hadn't bothered to learn their names. They did, and he led them, drawing the pieces of the spirit's earthly body closer in on itself. He noticed Ah Un's presence and was about to snarl at the miko when he noticed the absence of his ward.
"They're with Jaken, he got them away from here!" Kagome supplied, pulling the bowstring back.
Her miko powers were not in evidence, and he knew she was painfully aware of that fact. But she let the arrow fly and made no comment when it hit it's mark. Content that his ward was safe, and the miko safe enough to keep her mission from being suicidal, he began circling again, pulling the pieces back to the host.
"You're on your own now," He told them once his task had been finished.
He had fallen so low that even the hanyou pitied him and regretted receiving the path to the meido. A hanyou pitied him! The insult was too great. He would kill the spirit himself, even if he had to rip it apart with his claws.
"Asshole," Inu Yasha muttered. He heard the miko berating his half brother as he shot forward, sifting through the myriad scents flavoring the air. All of them were too obvious for what he sought. Pushing further into the air, he tried harder, determined to find it.
Darting past pieces of the host body, ignoring the head entirely, he drew Tenseiga. It hummed in his hand, suddenly energetic and eager. He guided it's edge through the insubstantial field, and he felt it's elation as clearly as he felt his own satisfaction.
He heard more than felt the spike through his chest. His blood roared in his ears and the miko screamed her horror.
"I will say it again. You. Are. Weak." Magatsuhi mocked, his eyes filled with satisfaction.
Then he was surrounded. Youki swirled around him as his body urged the change in it's own defense. But it would be useless in this case. Throwing himself into the task of getting free, he ignored the appendages tightening, trying to crush him. His claws sank into the flesh, rending it. But the body still regenerated around him.
He heard his brother and the miko shouting, could feel them through the oppressive jyaki.
"Sesshoumaru, I'm not going to let you die like this!"
How sentimental. This Sesshoumaru does not need you. Does not need anyone.
"Inu Yasha, get back!" The miko screamed.
"You don't have your powers Kagome, what the hell do you think you're doing?"
"Distracting Magatsuhi. Sesshoumaru can make it out!" She called. "Get me near the head!"
"Sesshoumaru can do it, trust him for once!" The woman snapped hotly. For once he wanted to thank the onna. She was the only one that could control that hanyou, and despite her humanity, she was right. For once.
I will never need their help or their pity. I am the killing perfection. None can equal me.
His claws sank in deeper, pulled at flesh, and he called his own youki from within, intent on releasing a huge blast. Power sang through him, his wildness urging for some declaration. He settled on a booming roar that was lost in the release of energy.
He was free. And something itched strangely, pins and needles lancing up and down. More physical than the ghost pains of his lost arm. He looked down at the stump and was stunned by the light there. An indistinct shape, one that he had once prayed for, lay within the dancing light.
He smelled as much as heard the blacksmith.
He went after Magatsuhi with a renewed vigor, calling upon those days of endless training. He had giving up everything to be the perfect warrior, the perfect killer, and now, when it was most important, he would not let the movements desert him.
Whatever the sword touched fell, and disintegrated. A dark, fierce joy welled up in him as he noted the effects of his blade. The parts were crumbling, turning to dust. The head was halved as easily as the wooden targets from childhood practices.
He searched for the real body of the spirit, and could smell nothing.
"So, he escaped."
"Well, you finally got it," Totosai's voice creaked. Sesshoumaru turned to him.
"What happened?" Kagome asked, staring at the sword, then at his arm, a blush coloring her pale cheeks.
"That's not some memento from his father. That sword has been lying dormant within him, waiting for the moment he stood on his own as a daiyoukai."
"He's been doing perfectly well-" Jaken began.
"Shut up, toad," Totosai cut the imp off. "Sesshoumaru no longer desired the Tessaiga, or even depended on the Tenseiga. That sword isn't a fang either. It's purely his energy given form. Bakusaiga."
Sesshoumaru stared at the sword in wonder, then at his hand. Youkai healed easily. But healing was one thing, regenerating a limb was completely different. And to create a sword purely out of his determination? Not even his father-
"I figure you guessed it about now. You've surpassed your old man. He'd be proud of you."
Proud? Sesshoumaru didn't need the pride of a dead man. But the sword, perfectly balanced and beautiful, was light in his hand. He savored the feel of the handle, the cloth brushing against flesh that was as callused as the former appendage had been. It was as if he hadn't lost it at all.
Though he had been just as deadly before this moment, now he felt perfect, symmetrical. Whole.
"Let me see it," Totosai insisted. Sesshoumaru handed it to him, although his reluctance was visible.
"Sesshoumaru-sama!" Rin cried, running for the youkai.
"Lord Sesshoumaru, your arm!" Jaken gasped, his normally bulging eyes bugging out of his head in awe.
"Now Sesshoumaru-sama can hug Rin!" The child cried happily. He noted the sharpening interest of everyone in the group, as if they were all holding their breaths, waiting for his answer. Except the miko. She tilted her head, her eyes beseeching. Everyone else seemed ready to comfort the child. She was silently asking him, just once, to honor the child's request.
'It is a day for miracles. If the gods have seen fit to reward this Sesshoumaru for his efforts, then the child's request cannot be denied.'
He ignored the gasps and guffaws as he bent and pulled the dark eyed child to him, trying to be gentle. He knew he was strong, and he knew his armor could easily pierce her clean through. But her arms went around his neck and she cuddled into his shoulder.
It was over in seconds, but when he pulled away, he saw the tears of happiness in her eyes. His own expression impassive, he looked to the miko, then to Rin.
"You will go with the miko and Kohaku's sister. They will protect you." He turned and began to walk from the group.
"Oi, where you going asshole?"
"Magatsuhi. He escaped. This Sesshoumaru will find him."
"See you soon Lord Sesshoumaru!" Rin called.
"-swift journey and great victory!" Jaken tried to make his own cheer heard over the little girl's.
But it was the almost sighed farewell that almost made him turn around in askance. It had been the miko's voice.
"Be safe, Sesshoumaru."
Chapter 4: Salty
By: The Hatter Theory
Chapter 4: Salty
Disclaimer: I don't own Inu Yasha and co.
"I can't help what I look like," The voice, deeper and husky with the sound of frustration and tears, cried. "It's not my fault I look like her!"
Unsure whether or not to interrupt the obviously irate miko, he looked at the saddlebags filled with dried meat and rice, along with new sleeping pallets for both his ward and her teacher. The visit was long overdue, as it had been a whole season since looking in on the girl. But the woman inside, his brother's wench, was in a state, one he did not wish to see or witness.
Seemingly answering his question, the heavy pelts hanging in the doorway of the hut were pushed aside and a woman -the woman he had wanted to avoid- stomped out, eyes bright from fresh tears that tracked trails down her cheeks. Not wishing to become the focus of her attentions, he stayed perfectly still, and was further surprised when she passed him without comment, making her way determinedly towards the forest that had taken his brother's name.
Unsure if he was relieved she had not deigned to notice him, or vaguely chagrined that she had been oblivious to his presence, he opted for the former and stepped inside the hut, surprised once more when his ward didn't rush to greet him. Tears -not sweat as he had initially thought- still hung in the air, thickening it to soup to his tender nose.
"Greetings, Sesshoumaru-sama," The older miko sighed, standing with the aid of a thick, gnarled walking stick.
"I have brought provisions," He intoned, setting the saddlebags down. Rin didn't even stir from her spot, eyes shining with tears of her own.
"Kagome is back. We all thought it would be wonderful, but it's not," The young girl -young woman, he corrected himself- sniffed sadly. Knowing what was coming, for his ward had been subject to emotional outbursts ever since she had begun her stay in the human village, he allowed her to curl up to his side and her hands to weave into the fur of his tail. Her human habits were becoming more and more prevalent, and he knew that she would never return to the world of youkai, not now. That bitter realization had dawned months ago, when he had seen her blushing shyly at the hunter boy, Kohaku.
'Humans,' He thought, already over the sting his ego had felt. 'So emotional.'
And yet he allowed her to cling to him anyway.
"It is still wonderful she has returned, Rin," The old miko admonished as she busied herself with preparing food for the evening meal. The woman's comment ripped a wail from his ward's throat that pierced the air and rattled in his over sensitive ears, ricocheting painfully.
What could have made the supposedly welcome return of the young miko affect his ward in such a manner?
"Rin," He said quietly, voice cutting through her wail and quieting her immediately. At least she still respected his near apathetic commands, if nothing else.
"Inu Yasha is stupid," She muttered under her breath, although more than easily enough for his ears to hear, despite the ringing echoing in them. It was not a statement he disagreed with in the least. From what he could deduce, Inu Yasha had done something to the miko, and whatever it was had been bad enough in his wards eyes to stain the joy of the woman's return.
"Inu Yasha was merely surprised," Kaede replied, as if her hearing was as keen as his own. Her tone left little room for argument, and she gave Rin a rather pointed look. In turn his ward made a disagreeable sound and snuggled deeper into his fur.
"Sesshoumaru-sama, if you cared about someone, it wouldn't matter what they looked like, would it?" She asked, voice trembling slightly, as if afraid of what his answer would be. Unsure what she was referring to, he tilted his head to the side just barely, although it was enough for her to understand.
"Inu Yasha hurt Kagome's feelings because she looks like, who, Kaede?" The girl asked.
"My sister, the one who sealed your brother to a tree," The old miko replied without looking up from the fish she was spearing.
Immediately he remembered the miko, the not living and yet not dead body. What he did remember of her was not complimentary, and it was little enough. Mostly the stench of graveyard soil and bone, along with the rancid tastes of hopelessness and fury. Nothing about the woman had been pleasant. However, while there was a physical similarity between the two women, there was nothing else that could match the two.
If his brother considered the women so alike, then he had inherited little of their father's nose and sight. It almost stirred pity, if the thought were not accompanied by the understanding that -obviously- his half brother had also inherited his human mother's brains and overly sentimental nature.
"Kagome came back from her own time just to be with him and he refused her," The girl clinging to him sniffed, clutching his tail even more tightly. "It's a fairy tale with the wrong ending."
He personally thought the miko was probably better off, considering how foolish the half breed was. Although Rin's choice of words bothered him, provoking his curiosity.
"Her own time?" He finally asked, curious about Rin's comment.
"Kagome is from the future," Rin supplied blithely, as if it were only a small thing. To him however, the fact was a revelation. A woman from the future?
Suddenly her strange idiosyncrasies, and peculiar, rather vulgar clothing were explained. And yet the whole of it, of the woman herself, remained a mystery. Curiosity piqued, he stood, ignoring his ward's startled gasp and strode from the hut, already scenting out the trail of his quarry.
It was not difficult to find her. She sat crumpled and defeated deep within the forest, legs hugged tight to her body. Tears hung in the air, and her small sniffs broke through the night, muffled by her knees.
"Go away," She muttered, not even deigning to look up at him. "I just need to be alone."
"You are from the future?" He asked instead, ignoring the pained, half choked gasp those words evoked.
"Yes," She finally murmured, looking up at him with bloodshot eyes.
"You will be unhappy here?"
He watched her consider the question, pleased that she hadn't responded immediately. Several minutes passed in contemplative silence, and he waited patiently.
"Yes, for now at least " She finally admitted. "Why?"
"I offer you employment. Tell me of the future, in exchange you will have the time away you feel you require."
He could see her weighing the choice in her head, her eyes, seemingly unfocused, giving away her concentration. A small frown tugged her lips down.
"You don't like humans."
"Useless humans," He amended. "You can be useful."
"And when I am not?"
"I will return you here."
"And the future, how much do you want to know?"
The petite ningen ran a hand through her unbound hair, tousling it. The frown firmed into a thin line, showing only her determination. When she stood, it was with a resolve that he remembered from years before, a blink of an eye really. Now he saw the differences in the woman. In her maturity, she had come to resemble the dead priestess a bit more, face having leaned down and hair grown long and straightening from girlish waves. But the startling difference between the two of them remained. Blue eyes, such as he had never seen in a human, filled with pride and laced with anguish, would forever separate her from the dead miko.
"It's a deal," She told him, extending her hand. He peered down at it, unable to understand what she was doing. "In my time people shake hands," She informed him smartly. "It's a sign that the bargain has been struck."
Loathe to touch a human that was not Rin (who he avoided touching unless necessary) he regarded the extended hand for a long moment before extending his own. She gripped it in a surprisingly firm hold and shook it gently. Her palm was soft against his own, her clawless fingertips resting on his skin warmly.
"A deal," He intoned, pulling away from her grasp. She nodded once.
"May I inform my friends of my employment?"
"We will leave in the morning."
It was with a straight back and set shoulders that she walked from the clearing, as if the promise of departure was all that kept her going beneath the weight of her own disappointment. As she moved deeper into the shadows towards the village, a solid thump echoed behind him.
"Promise you won't hurt her," His half brother asked quietly.
"Funny that you would be the one to ask that," He intoned, unable to resist voice the jibe. It truly was a strange turn of fortune, that he would be with the woman his brother obviously loved, but could not stand to be near. Fate's little ironies often displeased him, but this one would bring a small flicker of vindictive pleasure every time he thought of it, that much he acknowledged.
"She looks too much like Kikyo. I could never-not without thinking about her."
"Then you are a sentimental fool."
For several minutes the wood was quiet except for the distant sound of the young miko stumbling through the darkness, mumbling so quietly even his enhanced senses could pick up nothing.
"Just take care of her, alright? You were good to Rin. Kagome will need that too."
Saying nothing, he walked from the clearing, back to the village where his ward waited. Unlike the hanyou, he would not abuse those he traveled with, especially since this one was so useful. As long as she had information to provide, she would stay that way. Others relied on seers and prophecies, he would have no need to. Such a unique proposition would not be abused, even if the information came from a silly human female.
Chapter 5: Sweet
By: The Hatter Theory
Chapter 5: Sweet
Disclaimer: On certain days I wish I could be R.T., but then I remember how much fun fandom is, and I shrug it off. I don't own Inu Yasha. Just silliness.
Despite his court's obvious disdain for the miko, he had kept her in his household as a revered guest. She had made her own friends among those that would deign to befriend a human, and the staff were fiercely loyal to her, ensuring her safety.
He also took her on patrols, and she found a strange delight in traveling, one that often mystified him. On occasion they would meet other youkai or hanyou she had befriended years before, and he would be further stumped as to her abilities to span the gap between species. Having just left the hut of a hanyou healer, a giant known for his remedies, he marveled at her ease in any situation.
"I think today is my birthday," She sighed, eyes gazing up at the sky. "Although I can't be sure. I know it's around the right time."
She had explained birthdays to him before. A novel idea. Most could only name the season they had been born in, and for one such as himself, years no longer mattered so much as signs of maturity. However, he was curious why she seemed so sad at the thought of her own. Several seasons, years even, he supposed, she had stayed with him as his story teller, and he had noticed only the subtle signs of aging.
"How old will you be?"
"Twenty three. I've been with you almost five years."
Five years. He supposed time did fly when one could live centuries. But she had aged, now that he took more notice. Granted, she had not begun the slow decay of most humans, she was, for lack of a better word, in her prime.
"Is there more to tell me?" He asked with an ease that came only from years of speaking with her.
"It depends. You have the basics. To tell you everything would take decades, perhaps centuries," She answered blithely as they walked side by side. Ah Un ambled behind them, carrying her travel supplies.
He did not doubt her, not after the information she had given, all things too fantastical for one mind to dream. She had even used her knowledge to predict events just on the horizon, and he had watched them come true with no little amazement.
"Do you wish to return?" He had never asked that before, but mortals were notoriously short lived. Even now she would be considered an old maid, although with her powers and knowledge, it would not be hard for her to find a husband, or even a mate with one of the more open minded youkai. The idea of giving her up however, did not appeal. Suddenly he wished he could take the question back.
"It would be difficult to return to that life," She admitted. "And will become even more difficult the longer I stay in your employ."
It was a neat side step to his question, so much so that it took him a moment to realize that she hadn't answered him at all. Never before could he remember her avoiding an issue, or refusing to answer a question directly.
"That is not what I asked," He rumbled with quiet authority, a tone he rarely used with her, but often with his court. It had never failed to provide him with what he sought.
"Yes and no." It was a slow response, as if she hadn't wanted to say it at all. An ambiguous answer for a plainly worded question, something he did not appreciate.
"Explain." Another word he often used, although mostly when speaking with her. This was not a situation he had ever thought to use it in, a situation he had never considered at all.
"I like to think that perhaps we are friends. I would not want to give that friendship up for the world." Her statement hung in the air, open ended.
"But?" Normally he would not press for information from anyone, but the mantle of sadness that began wrapping itself around her reminded him of many seasons ago when he had first offered her employment, and he did not relish the thought of repaying such loyalty with grief.
"I wish I had a child," She finally told him, forcing the statement out in a quick breath. Her whole body had gone rigid, her steps awkward as they walked along. Tense shoulders came up, as if any second she expected a blow for her admission.
It was not the child that bothered him, but the events the preceded a child. Or was she thinking of taking in a foundling? Her son, an adopted kit, spent most of his days training with other kitsune, able to visit only occasionally. Adding to that, the kit had not aged at all in the five years since she had returned. Perhaps she craved a child she could nurture as her own, that would grow into adulthood before she withered and died.
Silently he wished there was a way to extend her own lifetime to match his own. Of course there were the common ways, but none were suitable to him or her. He would not take a human mate, and he doubted she would consider being life bonded to him as slaves were, even if he were to never treat her as one.
"You're thinking very hard," She commented in an offhand manner, although he heard the question beneath it. "Your ki reflects your displeasure."
It was a little allowance he gave her, letting her poke and prod as she did. Often times she was able to give him perspective on a puzzle based on nothing but her unique experiences. What had once been a resented intrusion had become a welcome perspective.
"If offered a chance to live as long as I, would you accept it?" He asked, for once unsure of himself. It was a new feeling he did not like and wished he had avoided, but once again the question was in the air and he could do nothing to take it back.
As she had the night he had offered employment, she mulled over the question, although this time she took much longer. Her scent gave nothing away as they walked side by side. The sun began it's descent and still they moved forward. Stars appeared one by one in the darkening sky and still she said nothing, only kept moving forward. The moon, a perfect crescent mimicking the mark of his house, gave them little light as they followed a path through the forest.
Finally he could take no more. For once the talkative onna was unnerving him with her silence.
"We will make camp here."
"Could I still adopt a child as my own?" She blurted.
For some reason he was willing to find her a dozen children of every breed if she would agree to extend her lifespan. The words were on the tip of his tongue when he clamped down on them firmly and only nodded his approval of the idea.
"How long will you live?"
He decided not to mention that his life could be snuffed out in an instant, taking hers with it. Instead, he tried to calculate his mother's age as a baseline, and failed.
"I am at least five centuries old now, I have lost count. My mother was at least nine centuries old when I was born."
"She looks like she's barely over thirty."
"I will age as such."
Another lengthy pause, and he could see her weighing her options.
"What if I have nothing else to tell you after decades, or even a century or two?"
He somehow doubted that would ever happen, if nothing else she could explain new 'technology' as she had dubbed it, to him as it appeared, and he told her so.
"And if I wish to die?"
That was something he had not considered. Few humans were given such a long life, and he was unsure how one would endure the centuries. The chosen few had either blossomed or sequestered themselves away from the world. As it was, he was not sure which she path she would walk.
"You will not."
She smiled at him, one of her soft, genuine smiles that she always seemed ready to bestow upon him, and with a careless shrug of her shoulders, she nodded.
"I trust you," She told him. "Besides, it'll be fun to see you on a train for the first time."
Though it was in and of itself an impulsive action and thus abnormal behavior for him, he refused to back down from his own offer. Instead they made camp, which always consisted of him watching her arrange her bedroll and blankets. Before she could ask which direction the water was in (for he had taken to bringing them close to a body of water each night) he stood and began walking, knowing she would follow.
The brook, for it was little more than that, provided fresh, cool water for her to drink and splash on her face. In the years he had known her, she had changed, and he took a moment to reflect on it. Far from the impulsive, emotional child he had offered employment, she had grown quiet, though no less joyful. It was a quiet sort of happiness, one that radiated slow, steady warmth instead of spiking and falling quickly as it had years before. For a brief second he wondered if it was his own influence, or if that was just the way she would have turned out. What would happen in a century, or two or four? Would she fall to madness, or would she have asked to be released by then?
"I'm ready," She told him quietly, eyes still fastened to the running water glistening in the spare moonlight filtering through the trees.
"It might be painful," He warned.
"I trust you."
Those words held a wealth of meaning he did not understand, and did not wish to examine. Sitting from the damp creek bed, he gestured for her to come closer, and settled her on his lap. It was the first time he had touched her since striking their deal, and like then she was strangely warm and alive. Deeper instincts not fully within his control lunged against their tethers, sensing prey offering itself up to him. Telling himself again and again that she was not prey, he tried to calm the maelstrom of his own warring thoughts and instincts.
She trusted him, knowing who and what he was. He had killed hundreds of her kind, thousands. And yet she trusted him. Was willing to submit to a bond that would tie her life to his, no matter the consequences. Above all, she was willing to endure centuries with him. It shocked him for a moment to realize he would not mind the march of centuries with her by his side. His adviser. His story teller.
'My friend,' He admitted, if to no one but himself.
With a claw he cut open a wound on the back of her neck, where it joined with her skull scant inches below her hairline. So sharp was the pointed tip that she didn't even react to the cut itself, shuddering only when his lips made contact with the skin. Her blood was deceptively sweet, then the power she possessed stung pleasantly, like mint but a hundred times sharper. Unable to resist the temptation, his tongue moved over the wound, lapping at it greedily until the blood flow stopped entirely.
It was only when he pulled away that he noticed the faint tinge of arousal drifting through the air, notes of her own mixing with his. Knowing he could not deny the intimacy of their act, he did not try, although the headiness of it filled him. No longer was she prey. She was becoming pack, the means itself be damned. Bringing his arms around her, he used the claw on his thumb to create a gash in his palm, cupping it as blood welled up. For a normal human, a few drops would do. But she was a miko, and he would take no chances.
When he was satisfied with the amount pooling in his palm, he brought it to her face, wondering if she would be disgusted by the act of drinking his blood. But she surprised him again, tilting her face down and beginning to lap at the pool, pink tongue reddening with each touch. As he had, she continued lapping at the wound until the flow of blood was stemmed. Furthermore, he was shocked when she licked her lips to clean them of any trace of his blood.
"How strange," She murmured, voice breaking the silence in a sleepy mumble.
"It was sweet, and tingled."
He chose not to inform her that her own blood had been much the same. Instead, he held her for several more moments, still wrapped in the heavy blanket of their strange closeness. Only when she fell asleep did he wash her wound and take her back to camp, laying her down gently.
Centuries loomed, and he found a new sense of adventure in them. She would not wither and die, instead he would be able to share them with her, each new discovery she spoke of as if they were fairy tales. Remembering his ward's description of the onna's tale, he smirked.
Perhaps it was not the fairy tale ending his ward would think appropriate, but then, there were centuries to go before it ended.
Chapter 6: Piquant
By: The Hatter Theory
Chapter 6: Piquant
Disclaimer: As always, a groveling bow in the direction of whatever powers that be own Inu Yasha, because as of the moment, all of my funds are sunk into piercing supplies. So don't sue me unless you want pokey things and an autoclave (please god, don't take the autoclave, it wasn't cheap).
It was with a heavy heart that he stepped into that home. Her warnings were coming true, although he had not wanted to believe them. A war in which all the world would become entangled. A thousand stories served to warn him of the future, each one more frightening than the last. A teenaged hanyou with bright red hair came barreling down the stairs and almost knocked into him as she skidded to a stop.
"Mama's in the garden," Lin murmured. He smiled at her. The human cat hybrid took his hand and tugged him through the house and out to the back, where Kagome was planting several flowers she had started in her hothouse. It pained him to think he would be telling her to leave it all behind for a move to a home where her children could not be themselves, as they could in this secluded place. Her flowers would be destroyed, perhaps her home even. He had chosen a safe place in a neutral country to escape to until after the second war she warned of was over. Who knew what they would come back to after decades away.
"Is it that time already?" She asked, not even looking up at him. Over the centuries she had become an expert at reading his aura, had even professed once that she could taste and smell his emotions. It had been a strange effect of their bond, one that he had been annoyed with in the beginning, but had, as with everything else concerning her, grown used to, even accepted, in time.
"I have secured us a home in Switzerland, and my assets have been moved to their banks."
"I'll miss it here," She sighed as she stood and pulled off her gardening gloves. Lin, seeming to understand the gravity of the situation, called for the other children to follow her back into the house. The three that had been playing followed their older sister inside, earning a small sigh from Kagome.
"Even in Switzerland things will be difficult," She told him. "But it is perhaps our safest bet."
"I will not risk the lives of the pack," He informed her, surprised when she embraced him. Her fear needled at his senses, and he wished he could make it go away. In the centuries they had endured, rarely had she been afraid, trusting in him completely, but this oncoming war terrified her, and it worried him that it did.
"You will always keep us safe," She told him.
"Inu Yasha will not come, he insists on staying."
"It is his decision."
He knew she didn't fight it not because she still hurt from the hanyou's dismissal of her, but because his half brother had separated from the pack, intent on forming his own and never quite achieving that goal. Had a mate and children been involved, he had no doubt she would fight the half breed with as much spirit as she had fought him over the years.
"What is our new home like?" She finally asked, moving away from him and over to where her gardening tools lay. One by one she put them back in the bamboo basket that held them, dropping her gloves in last.
"It is secluded, with good farmland. There are several hands that were willing to stay on after I bought out their former employer. The forest bordering it is almost three miles across, and several miles long. It separates the farm from the local village."
"Is it beautiful?"
He had hunted for over three years to find such a place in the small country, and despite the former owner being reluctant, he had -knowing it would be ideal- fought for it, paying more than twice the farm's worth.
"It is. The trees are different, the scents, the animals. But it is beautiful, and peaceful. When the hands go back to their families at night, the children will have no cause to worry about their disguises."
"And the house?"
"It is almost complete, and the smaller homes are already finished. There is enough room for all of them, even a few more should you find anyone."
'Them' meant the pack, over which he presided. The need for an heir had long ago died, and he had never felt the urge to take a mate. Instead, his family had become the miko and her children, and their mates and children. All in all there were almost two dozen of them, but the land itself could easily fit the entirety of the pack and the homes they required. He and Kagome, for the first time in almost a century, would be sharing a home, the main house, along with her four newest foundlings while the older or mated 'loved ones' as she called them, would share the smaller homes with their families.
A lengthy pause passed in utter silence, and it was perhaps the first time she had held back from him since admitting she wished for a child. Even more than that time, her reticence bothered him.
"What is it?" He demanded in a gentle tone, knowing it would provoke an answer.
"Miko-" He began.
"It's not the time."
Considering time was all they seemed to have, he wondered at her choice of words. When she began walking for her small hothouse, he stopped her with a hand on her shoulder and forced her to face him. When she refused to look up, he nudged her under her chin and was surprised by the sight of bright blue eyes shimmering with the first signs of tears.
"Tell me," He commanded again gently.
"I worry about you," She admitted in a small voice. At first he didn't understand her meaning, but then he remembered their bond, something that often eluded him despite it's constant presence in both of their lives.
"I will be safe. I will not risk your life," He intoned. When his statement was met with a wave of frustration and anger, he stepped back, wildly confused by her reaction. The miko he had lived with, spoken with, even fought with on occasion, threw the basket down to the ground and stamped her foot angrily, tears creating wet paths down her cheeks.
"I don't care about myself you blind idiot. I wouldn't want to live if anything happened to you!" She shouted, the words echoing angrily in his ears, disabling any ability to think on them until the ringing stopped. It was then that he was able to actually understand what she had said, but not the implications, not fully. Not until she determinedly pulled him down by his western suit lapels and kissed him solidly on the mouth.
She was tangy and spicy and sweet, reminding him of the curry she made especially for him. Too stunned to even react to the kiss, he watched her pull back, struck by her determination.
"I have wanted to do that for almost two hundred years," She announced. He could hear cheers being shouted from their home, and assumed the children had been watching from one of the windows.
"Two hundred years?" He choked, eyes widening in amazement when she nodded.
"I learned patience from you," She quipped.
He had, at varying times throughout their relationship, considered the notion of trying the very thing she had just done, always to eschew the idea. Not because she was human, because at some point she had become more than 'just human'; but because his own honor prevented such an action, as he never wanted her to feel as if her bond to him hinged on such a thing. But he had considered it, and it was those musings that came to the forefront.
"Perhaps it will be easier to travel as husband and wife," He told her, the idea holding more appeal than he would have thought. The image of her as his wife was stunningly easily to picture, now that he allowed his mind to travel that road.
"No," She answered firmly, shocking him.
"But-" He began, his own stunned surprise making the word sound dumb falling even from his lips.
"I won't settle for just husband and wife."
"Taking you as my mate should have gone without saying," He growled, immediately understanding her intent and approving. That she wished to be his mate, not just his wife, pleased him beyond measure, although her tone left something to be desired.
"And a baby."
"This one will try to the best of his ability." Of course. That also should have gone without saying. Not having a need for an heir was one thing, but wanting a son or a daughter of his own was an entirely different matter.
"And lots of practice."
He had forgotten how forward she could be when she wished to be, and he hoped that by now the children had moved on to an activity that wasn't eavesdropping, although he wouldn't bet on it.
"Perhaps now?" He asked.
"I have a curry waiting," She informed him smartly, moving to pick up her gardening tools. Reaching the end of his patience, with strong arms he lifted her over his shoulders and carried her inside, ignoring her pithy remarks. When he saw the children, wide eyed in the kitchen and watching him and their mother with smiles, he inclined his head in the direction of the door.
"Go outside and play," He commanded in a rumbling voice.
The ensuing crash of noise could have qualified as a stampede.
"A little eager aren't we?" She remarked. Reflecting over their past centuries as companions, he should have known she wouldn't fall into his arms like any other woman.
"I think we have both waited long enough."