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Murphy's Law

Chapter Text

It was one of those days.  It was a day where if it was going to go wrong at all, Murphey’s Law was going to kick into fucking overdrive .   Higurashi Kagome breathed and mentally tallied the day’s incidents as she tried to calm down.

She had overslept — by three hours.  Accompanied by loss of her contacts case, snags in all the stockings she could find, and an unholy Armageddon of roaches showing up in her cheap-ass new apartment’s kitchen.

This led to missing half of her entire first day as a new pediatrician at the local hospital.  Her (literally) fire-breathing boss had nearly set the whole ward on fire as she violently lectured the importance of punctuality, and several children in with casts and stitches undid all the healing they’d managed in the ensuing panic.  Kagome was scolded for that , too.

Then, oh then was the cherry on top: the hospital’s current CEO, the infamous hero and surgeon Taishou Sesshoumaru, had descended down from his throne of gold just to demand her presence in his office at once , lest she be busted down to pushing book carts for the next decade or two.

Thus she stood, fingers pinching at the bridge of her nose, breathing deeeeep, cleansing breaths in an attempt to calm down before entering his lair.  Two.  Three.  Four.  Five. Six. Seven.  Ei-

“Loitering is prohibited.  Enter before your job is evacuated as your ward was.”

Not sure whether she wanted him to see just how much she hated him and everything else in that moment or not, Kagome marched through the door and closed in solidly behind her, face set in a disdained grimace that was attempting to look neutral.  With his fingers steepled imperiously above his paperwork, he examined her from behind reading spectacles she highly suspected he did not need.

“Six hours late, the ward set fire to and evacuated, and nearly a dozen patients set back months in their care.  Your first day is not promoting you well, Higurashi-sensei.”

Doing her best not to reply through gritted teeth, she responded succinctly, “Murphey’s Law is my other quirk.”

He arched a brow.  She obliged him an explanation.  “My quirk is Chakra Management; however, my bad luck powers are strong.  People have said Murphy's Law was my other quirk since before I can even remember.”

“... That’s your defense.”

“We thought Murphy’s Law was my quirk until the real one kicked in,” she deadpanned.  His face read You must be joking , so she pulled out her phone, opened her Facebook app, and proceeded to scroll through a timeline full of memes… of her, in various levels of fail.  “I ended up a thing, if you can’t tell.”

That Day when even Satan Pities You was typed in large block font over one particular picture, in which she stood soaking wet in a swimsuit at the front of class  with the teacher chewing her out over… failure to understand a math problem?

“... Tell me the story one day.”

With a tired sigh he waved her out.

Chapter Text

Kagome did indeed prove herself.

Now that first day might have been a disaster — and it took less than a week for new Higurashi Memes to start perforating the office — but despite Murphy’s Law, she proved herself an exemplary practitioner.  She was quick, efficient, precise, and absolutely unflappable no matter how ridiculous the situation.

Like explaining to adults that yes, sometimes there are toddlers that masturbate.  Like when a budding artist drew skulls and crossbones all over a chart.  Like when a precocious child with less-than-sufficient parental supervision shat in her chair, peed in her coffee — and when none of those got her, proceeded to puke down the front of her blouse.

Higurashi Kagome was a fucking tank when it came to bad situations.  She just plowed through and kept on.

Sesshoumaru observed a new meme crawling about the office — “Murphy’s Rainbow,” a compiled picture of Higurashi’s multitude of Keep Calm, Carry On mugs in a ridiculous range of colors.  Few colors had been repeated, from what his receptionist said.  Despite an apparent aptitude for trouble, Sesshoumaru had no choice but to recognize his new pediatrician’s positive attitude was nigh perfect.

Of course, then he had the privilege to hear her muttering “Just keep smiling, smiling, smiling …” through gritted teeth one day — to the tune of Just Keep Swimming , at that — and he thought that probably revealed her nature very well.

Chapter Text

Several months after she started at the Taishou Private Hospital, Taishou Sesshoumaru really did come and ask her story about the swimsuit meme.

“Oh, that was one of my best ,” she said sarcastically, heaving a sigh and slumping back in her breakroom chair.  “See, there was this guy Houjou that practically all the girls were swoony for in middle school.  He had his eye on me though, and the bullying was getting out of hand just about then.”

Sesshoumaru didn’t comment on the bullying, but she noticed that almost imperceptible downturn of the lips that signaled he was listening, and didn’t like the idea.

“So random day of the — wait, was that a Thursday?  Probably Thursday.  So we had swimming for PE that day, and I go back to my locker where lo and behold, my uniform had gone missing.  No matter how I told the teacher that it was stolen, my rep as Murphy’s Law incarnate was pretty solid, so he insisted I lost it.  The guy was an ass, but at least he wasn’t a perv; still made me attend the rest of the day in my swimsuit, and I was called for in class but my math notes were covered in so many cuss words and death threats I couldn’t read them anymore, so when I tried to freehand the problem and made a mistake he got mad at me.”  She took a deep gulp of coffee, and continued neutrally with, “That was one of at least three times in middle school I was nearly assaulted.  I’m not going to count high school because we’d never leave if I did.”

For someone being so white-skinned already, Kagome almost thought it hilarious she could tell he’d gone pale.

“My condolences.”

Chapter Text

“Is the bastard in?”

Kagome twitched, breathed deep, and turned to level the flattest glare she owned at the young man with incredibly long, luxurious, black hair that now stared her down with the best scowl she’d seen in a while.  At his side, a girl at the height of cuteness was humming and rocking back and forth, distracted by the paintings on the walls.

“You’re going to have to give me a name , sir.”

“... wait, you’re new.  Right.  Is That Bastard Sesshoumaru in?”

“He is not.”

“...”

“...”

“I can hear his voice, bitch.”

“If you say one more cuss word in my ward I swear to the gods I’m going to toss you from my office window and watch you fall.”

Chapter Text

Realizing that Sesshoumaru’s brother was of the same quirk had her curious.

“Taishou-sensei, what is your quirk?” she asked, yet another break where he joined her.  He seemed to consider her for a moment.

“We have a possession-type quirk known as Dog General.  As far as we are aware, our father was the first to manifest it.”

“The difference in appearance?”

“Childhood trauma.”  She pursed her lips, contemplating him.  When his golden eyes met hers, he sighed, “Yes?”

“... No, it’s just hard to imagine anything traumatizing you.”

Chapter Text

Rin was Inuyasha’s daughter, and she was adorable to the nth power squared.  Her speech was polite with a touch of lisp, her energy contained in fidgets and rocking until she was given her code words: Free Time.

Free Time was literally free, go do what the hell ever time in Inuyasha’s dictionary, which meant she could play pranks or run parkour or do whatever she wanted within that period of time.

Rin’s problem was that her Dog General quirk supplied too much energy she was never able to release.  The nervous energy built up inside her so much that she would have trouble sleeping, and sitting still in school was almost impossible.  She didn’t have trouble paying attention though; Kagome tested that.  She could be running full-speed circles around the physical therapy room, be all the way on the other side when Kagome asked a question, and Rin would still answer properly while never slowing.

Sesshoumaru supplied that Rin was the first female with the quirk; adults found this sort of behavior normal in boys, but highly questionable in girls, and it had put Inuyasha and his wife, Kikyou, in all sorts of uncomfortable positions.  Rin never lamented her father’s quirk though; great admiration for her Uncle Sesshoumaru had assured that.

Kagome tried to apply her quirk to managing Rin’s energy, but it resulted in a dreadful fever.  She didn’t try again.

Chapter Text

Inuyasha was surprisingly sociable.  His vocabulary and temper aside, he had friends and went out and doted on his circle in a roundabout rough-n-gruff sort of way.  Kagome found that while threats did not work, actions did; it really had come to tossing him out a window at one point, but then the bastard had proved the Dog General a more impressive quirk than she realized when he casually hopped from the flagpole to the opposite roof.

Still, out of respect for her vigor and making good on her threats, the cursing stopped — mostly.  The odd one still filtered out when he wasn’t paying attention.

“So you and Kikyou…?”

“Work my old man’s charity foundation.  We try to provide training and emotional support to brats in the system that have dangerous quirks.  Since they don’t have folks to fall back on, they always need somewhere else to run,” he said, sipping on a cold, coffee-ish drink.

“Never would’ve thought it of you.”

“Keh.”  She observed him quietly for a moment.  His ears twitched a little, as if she grated on his nerves by doing so, and they turned a little red.  “What?”

“I’d normally ask Taishou-sensei this since I’m the direct type, but I’ll ask you instead I guess.  When I questioned his coloring in comparison to yours—”

“He gave you some line about it being childhood trauma, didn’t he.”  Inuyasha made a face and scratched behind the ear she’d been observing.  “He lied.  Really, it’s because—”

“No, don’t tell me.”

“I thought you were—”

“I want to know,” she admitted firmly, “but it’s not your story to tell.  If he’s not willing to tell the truth, that’s the line he’s drawn.”

She didn’t bring the subject up again.

Chapter Text

“Y’know, Murphy-sensei’s pretty cool.”

“Who?”

Sesshoumaru found himself neatly flummoxed, a rarity even when his brother wasn’t the instigator.  The overgrown brat had the gall to snicker .

“C’mon, who else would be called some foreign-sounding name like Murphy ?”

None but Higurashi, of course.

“What makes you say so?” he asked, ignoring the sarcasm.  Inuyasha was perched on the edge of Sesshoumaru’s home office desk, chewing on a most fragrant piece of jerky.  He didn’t really turn to meet eyes, so Sesshoumaru simply resumed his work… at least until Inuyasha answered.

“Plucky wench asked me if you lied to her or not about your ‘childhood trauma’ excuse.”

Pen frozen above the paper, it took all of three seconds for normal function to start returning… just barely, barely enough to ask, “What did you—?”

“I told her you lied.”  Sesshoumaru made to protest, but Inuyasha waved him off with a, “Aww, c’mon, don’t get your panties in a wad.  I said she was cool for a reason.”

“Just because she doesn’t react—

“She can’t react if she doesn’t know , bastard.”

Sesshoumaru took a minute to mull that over, observing his practically preening little brother.  It occurred to him that they were on strangely good circumstances now, their introduction considered.  It was rare of Inuyasha to really take to someone, much less praise them.

“What did she do?”

Inuyasha turned to lean close, face just inches away, and said in a plain, low voice, “She refused to hear it from me , because she wants to hear it from you .  Said ‘If he’s not willing to tell the truth, that’s the line he’s drawn.’  Ain’t you lucky.”

“... She really said that?” he inquired softly.  Inuyasha smirked.

“Exactly that.  She’s really something.”

“Especially when you love spreading my sordid past around.”

“The fact you can call it sordid without cringing means you’ve grown up inside quite a bit, don’t it,” Inuyasha joked, but Sesshoumaru couldn’t deny it.

In the past, he wouldn’t have wanted to hear any part of this conversation.  It would’ve sent him into such a tailspin.  It would’ve made him a ruin of a man for weeks.  He had to admit, the relationship with Inuyasha is what had (ever so begrudgingly, mind you) started to mend him.

“What do you think she’d say if she knew Murphy’s Law applied to you, too?”

The barking laugh was a perfect response, the brothers grinning sardonically at the circumstances, sharing a dark in-joke they both wish they didn’t have.  Still, Sesshoumaru felt confident enough, for the first time in his life, to say, “I don’t think I have it nearly so badly as she does.”

“Dude, imagine your pups.  If this is  a quirk, the world might implode with the next generation.”

Sesshoumaru didn’t dignify that with an answer.

Chapter Text

Kagome needed something to keep her in shape; it was a new town, her force-fed ballet classes far behind her, and she wanted something useful … and hearing that litany, Sesshoumaru might (might, mind you) have called in Rin, who wielded the most irresistible puppy eyes in the world.  The next thing she knew, Kagome was trying parkour with the rest of the young potentials in Rin’s class… and oh, if there was a way to fail, she was doing it.

Run into the wall? Check.

Fall off the fence? Check.

Face-plant into a window? Check.  A few times.

After her third time falling off a low beam they used for practice, the instructor may have politely asked her to do some balance training and come back.  She may have responded to the tune of, “Does twelve years of ballet sound like balance training?”

He may or may not have gone ghostly pale and suggested she try less dangerous activities.  Like knitting.

“Knitting is not exercise.”

“Yoga?”

“...”

“...  Tai Chi?”

“... know anyone?”

“Let me get you the number.”

Chapter Text

On Monday she used yellow.  On Tuesday it was orange.  Wednesday was blue, Thursday green, and Friday was an indescribable and somehow offensive shade of purple.

When he mentioned this to Inuyasha, he asked if Sesshoumaru was referring to Kagome’s underwear before being shown a picture of Murphy’s Rainbow.

The next week it was a monochromatic journey of pinks, the following a study in popular textile patterns, and the last week of the month looked like she’d introduced her cabinet to Texas as every single mug held at least four mugs’ worth of coffee, all in unabashedly bright colors.

Every single one of them inscribed with variously designed text reading Keep Calm and Carry On .

Sesshoumaru had unconsciously been tallying how many cups were in the Murphy Rainbow, and had come to the conclusion that Higurashi Kagome somehow managed to horde over seventy mugs (he counted seventy-three in all) in her apartment, which Inuyasha told him was the size of a shoebox.

Why Inuyasha knew such a thing he had no idea , but did his best to ignore the thought with vigor.

Higurashi Kagome had now worked at the hospital for almost three years, and where once he had wondered at her competence, Sesshoumaru was now proud to call her the head of their pediatrics ward.

One could not describe how the celebration had gone on after that mummified old hag Urasue finally left her post, declaring that she’d had enough of “Black cats wandering the halls and causing all sorts of misfortune.”  Even the children had joined in the celebration, boys doing wheelies in their chairs and girls tossing confetti made of complaint letters.  Kagome’s promotion was a unanimous vote, and Sesshoumaru had no reason to stop it.

Their relationship involved mostly coffee breaks and occasional dinners with Inuyasha and RIn en tow, but Sesshoumaru felt obligated this year to purchase her a birthday present.  It was her third birthday in his acquaintance, and while the first had happened when neither of them had much to do with the other and the second when they were just starting to get along, this birthday was not one to be missed.

This was the sort of thought that inspired him to observe his… friend… more closely than ever.  Murphy’s Law, pediatrician, and mugs seemed to sum her up, and figuring out something to get her with just that seemed so difficult.

Several days before the date that had him so worried, he still hadn’t managed to decide on a gift; it was then that Rin made a most excellent observation.

“Kagome-sensei, do you have so many mugs because you lose them?”

Ever the bastion of unflappable clumsiness, Kagome choked on her third coffee of the day, patted her lips with a handkerchief, and responded, “You noticed, huh.  Yup; sensei is unbearably clumsy, so she’s always breaking, misplacing or somehow just plain losing her cups.”

“How many do you have?” Rin continued to question, still casually coloring away.  Kagome seemed to think about it for a minute, fingers ticking away as if to count.

“Right now, I think there are about ten survivors.  I’ll have to pick up a few more next payday.”

So the big day arrived, and and Sesshoumaru dropped a long, somewhat heavy wooden box across the length of her desk.  Kagome stared at the box neutrally for a moment before turning a suspicious gaze toward her superior.

“I take it there’s a reason for this?”

Sesshoumaru wanted to tear his hair out, but with a bit more red in his cheeks than usual (he’d never admit it), he tapped a claw-tipped finger on her desktop calendar.  She continued to stare at it blankly.

“Higurashi, your birthday .”

“... is next month?”

He paused.  Double checked his watch and her calendar, and sure enough he’d presented her gift a month early.  Her eyes took on an amused sparkle as she realized what he’d done; instead of incessantly teasing him though, she proceeded to pull the lid off the box before her, ignoring his attempts at protest.

Inside were a line of mugs; five patterned in red, stylistic flowers with the words Keep Calm and Carry On .

The last two, plain off-white with simple arrow silhouettes, said Namast’ay In Bed.

“You’re only allowed to use the last two on the weekends.”

Chapter Text

With a fresh influx of interns in May came a new kink in the hospital’s works.  Their names were Nishino Sango and Shinooka Miroku.

Sango was a new surgeon; she showed promise, was precise, quick, and had a no-nonsense attitude that Sesshoumaru highly approved of.

Miroku was a new nurse, and Kagome found that thwarting his egregious behavior with the fairer sex was going to become a new mainstay of her job if she was going to keep him.  His abilities as a diagnostician, while not developed, were astounding; his hand was steady with a needle, and he indeed had the patience of Buddha (unsurprisingly, as his house was a monastery).

Putting the two of them in a room, however, often led to catastrophic results.

Verbal jabs aside, they had, for the third time in as many meetings, found it necessary to physically restrain Sango from beating Miroku’s head in.  Sesshoumaru was already fairly certain that no matter how many warnings the nurse was given, his habits would not change.  Kagome approved of Sango’s ability to stand up for herself, but breaking hospital property (including the nursing staff) was still a no-no.

Thus, for the first time, Sesshoumaru and Kagome decided they would have to combine their strengths and plot to save the hospital’s future… and Miroku’s life, if they were honest.

Chapter Text

Miroku tugged nervously at the collar around his neck.  Sango stared at the little key fob in her hand, completely expressionless.

“Now, Shinooka-san, we have lowered the output of this particular device,” Kagome said calmly, smiling in a way that brooked no argument.  “You will be acting as Nishino-sensei’s closest assistant for the next three months.  If she is offended by your behavior, that shock collar’s remote is in her hand, officially attached to her photo ID.  If the remote goes missing, our generous CEO Taishou-sama has agreed to replace it at the cost of the hospital.  Nishino-sensei, we ask that you apply this manner of behavioral correction with all discretion; please be fair in your judgments.”

“Higurashi-sensei… you can’t be serious…?”

“If you have any questions or concerns, please bring it up with myself or Taishou-sama.”

Chapter Text

Miroku slumped into a corner of the break room, releasing a sigh long and desperate enough to send happiness running for the hills.  Inuyasha casually sipped his coffee, waiting for a Rin’s checkup to end.

“Sango giving you that much hell?”

“The lovely Nishino-san threatens me for so much as calling her delightful name, Inuyasha.  I am most distraught.”

“Can’t say I sympathize.”

Violet puppy-eyes turned to the young man, baleful as they could possibly be.  “You are a cruel friend.  The lovely Kikyou-sama is wasted on you.”

Thirty seconds of heavy silence later, he said, “I am sorry.  That was out of line.”

Chapter Text

Kagome tapped her chin as she observed Miroku and Sango, now a month and a half into their “partnership.”  Sango was cool as could be, and Miroku somehow continued to smile like an idiot.  She half expected it to be Sango blaming him for more indiscretions and Miroku laughing them off in his way.  Instead…

“Nishino-sensei, now I know his condition concerns you, but your surgical techniques were impeccable.  I wager a good coffee from that cafe you love that the fever will break in twenty-four hours.  He’ll be pestering the nurses for pudding by tomorrow afternoon, and in three days I see him drawing skulls and crossbones all over Kagome-sama’s charts again.”  Sango continued to sit somewhat stubbornly outside the recovery room, and Miroku kneeled in front of her with a big smile on his face, hands securely on the charts in his arms.  “You will see, I promise.  For now, these divine hands of yours have a patient in OR 3 that needs his kidney operation.  I will check with the floor leader here every hour if it will ease your mind, but away we must.”

“... every thirty minutes.”

Kagome left knowing that somehow, Miroku had won.

A moment of contemplation later, a strangled cry followed by a belligerent “Perv!” let her know that Sango was far from domesticated yet.

Chapter Text

“Now see, that wasn’t so bad was it?”

Sesshoumaru could swear that was one of the most well-used — and most suspicious — lines he heard from the mouth of Shinooka Miroku.    He snuck a glance around the corner to see Nishino Sango, pouting in a way he had never thought possible, being waltzed down the corridor on Miroku’s arm.

“You’re terrible.”

“How so?”

“You trapped me into a date, for starters.”

“Now, you are the one declaring it a date, my dear.  I only made a bet for a coffee.”

Her pout turned into a sulk.  “Which turned into coffee and pie, and even though you won you still paid for me.”

Miroku patted the hand threaded through his arm indulgently.  “Now, now, what sort of man would I be if I let a lady pay?  I am many things, my lady, but never so boorish as that.”

Sango gave him a side-eye the likes of which he hoped to never see again, and stated with a familiarly belligerent tone, “Your tendency to touch far overreaches boorish.”

She didn’t remove her hand from his arm though, and the two continued to walk down the hall in a strange sort of companionship.  Sesshoumaru wondered if this was what Kagome had in mind when she’d handed Sango the leash, but there was no accounting for accidents, either.

Chapter Text

Kagome had taken to sulking in Sesshoumaru’s office on occasion.  The Iron Doctor had a limit after all; and some days instead of waiting until she made it home, she just stalked into his office, huddled behind the perfunctory fake ficus tree in the corner, and started chiding and crying and occasionally screaming into a pillow she pilfered from the nurses’ station.

One night, after a long shift, Sesshoumaru decided to offer Kagome some advice.  “Kikyou uses a mirror.”

She stopped yelling into the pillow.  “What for?”

“She would yell at the mirror as if it were the person who angered her.  She would reason with it, say anything she could not bring herself to say in person.  Inuyasha said it would go on for hours sometimes; she would talk to the mirror, walk away, come back.  It could take days for something to get out of her system on occasion, but it would eventually go away.  She would feel much better.”

Kagome seemed to think about that for a while.  She continued gripping the pillow, and Sesshoumaru continued filtering through his paperwork.

Would ?” she finally asked.  

Sesshoumaru’s lips thinned, though she couldn’t see it, and eventually, he answered, “He said so a long time ago.”

Chapter Text

Their first dinner alone was nothing short of a scheme, as Inuyasha said they would all go out and celebrate Sesshoumaru’s birthday.  Instead, he arrived at the restaurant with Higurashi on his arm, only to realize the reservation was for two at an outside table overlooking the bay.

“You won’t resent me if I throw Inuyasha out my office window again, will you?” she asked solemnly.

“I will not,” he confirmed, still pulling out the chair for her and helping her scoot in once she was perched.  “I believe this is his declaration that we are not close enough for his taste.”

“What sort of taste is that?” she asked with a grimace.

“The taste that says I’ve been single for too long and insists he wants nieces and nephews to dote on.”

She considered that statement as well as the wine menu, eventually giving in and saying, “When I first met him, I never would have considered Inuyasha being fond of children.  He’s great with Rin, but…”

“But he still acts as juvenile as the youth of our school days?”

“Yes, exactly .  What am I missing?” she asked, helping herself to a breadstick.  The waiter came, received their drink orders, and left unobtrusively.  “He loves kids even if he acts like he doesn’t. He’s actually super together for his age… wait, how old is Inuyasha?  He’s friends with Shinooka-kun, so I assumed they were the same age, but… Rin’s what, ten? That can’t be right.”

The waiter returned, chill-fogged glasses of water and impeccable crystal wine glasses filled with something deep and red finding their ways onto delicate coasters.  Sesshoumaru quietly ordered for the both of them, choosing foods that suited their drink choice and were just expensive enough that Kagome wouldn’t have had the courage to order them herself.  When the waiter took his leave again, the silence dragged on for a long while. Kagome thought he wouldn’t ever answer her, and was on the verge of changing the subject when she finally saw signs of Sesshoumaru’s struggle to get the words out.

It still took another ten minutes, past the time their food came, past another refill on both their glasses, for him to answer.

“It is… something of an additional quirk.  Not a separate one; just a… residual effect, if you will,” he tried, clearly avoiding a great lot of detail.  She could see him swallow discreetly, and her lips thinned at how he struggled with the subject. “Our line is…”

Noting how he trailed off, struggling again, Kagome sighed and placed her fork beside her empty plate.  “Taishou-san, if it makes you so uneasy, I won’t ask. You don’t have to tell me. I will place a question mark next to ‘Age’ in all three of your files up here,” she said, lips quirking in a gentle smile as she tapped her temple.  “My discretion is yours for the using, but if you’re not ready, there’s hardly a reason to rush.”

There was a reason to rush.  Inuyasha knew that, and he was pushing it.  This was his less-than-subtle hint that time was a commodity they especially could not afford to waste.

The words just wouldn’t come.

Chapter Text

Kagome had a sneaking suspicion that her boss — something like unprofessionally, unofficially almost-dating good friends, not that that had a specific label — was not aware that his little brother and niece were nigh-permanent fixtures in her apartment.

It felt strange when the casual birthday dinner had been just days ago, but here they were.  Kagome continued to question just how close she was to this family, as clearly they felt more comfortable with her than she’d realized.

She knew the basics, at this point.  Inuyasha’s wife, Kikyou, had passed. It had been a long time coming.  They were grieving in their way, but as the man currently sprawled upside-down on her couch had put it, “You provide the distracting entertainment.  How many times do lost delivery boys come to your door a night again?”

Neither of them was crying.  In fact, they looked like they were basking in her presence which was unnerving as hell dammit but she wasn’t going to stop them.  If her consistent stream of misfortunes was giving off a healing aura, who was she to argue?  So instead of trying to induce the tears she thought they should be shedding, she allowed Rin to help her locate the multitudes of missing pieces to Murphy’s Rainbow, allowed Inuyasha to occasionally embarrass her by finding her underwear that liked to evaporate not unlike her mugs, and taught them both the mystic art of roach-busting… an unfortunate fact of life, as her neighbor was a hoarder and possessed of many cats.

Her suspicion, however, was corrected; another week in, Taishou-san himself showed up on her doorstep, overnight bag in-hand.  Together, the three of them curled up on the living room floor in a pile of pillows, quilts, and long hair.

Her worries were also corrected when a late-night ramble to the kitchen saw all three of them crying in their sleep.

Chapter Text

Kagome stared at herself in the mirror.

Oh, the courage it had taken, but when working with Miroku on rounds that afternoon, she’d asked him about Kikyou.  About why, on the gods’ green earth, the Taishou family was enjoying an extended vacation on her living room floor. The solemn press of his lips was unnerving on a face that normally laughed off everything (except Sango’s ire, and sometimes even that), but she found the answer… informative.

Apparently, she looked like Kikyou.  A lot. A very, very lot.

So when she went home that night to Inuyasha busting roaches and Rin helping Sesshoumaru make dinner to the backdrop of some anime on TV, she stepped into the kitchen and helped.  She was Higurashi Kagome.

She would only ever be Higurashi Kagome.

They ate.  They joked.  They shared the duties of washing the dishes and tidying small messes, and all of them worked together to lay the extra futons on the floor with a fortress’ worth of blankets and pillows, and once the light was out, Kagome surprised them all by slipping into the pile between Sesshoumaru and Rin.

Kagome left them speechless when she kissed each of one of them on the forehead, including Sesshoumaru.

“I am Higurashi Kagome ,” she stated with a quiet imperiousness.  “I’m not Kikyou, even if I look like her. But I am here for you.  I’ve got no intention of going anywhere, so get used to it.”

Rin crumbled into quiet sobs, hugging Kagome for dear life as she settled onto the mattress.  Inuyasha wrapped his arms around both of them silently, face drenched in grief.

At her back was Sesshoumaru; and though she couldn’t see his face, she could feel his touch at her hip.  She could feel the nose that tucked into her hair, breathing steady as a heartbeat. She knew, without ever looking at him, that her words were exactly what they needed to set them free.

Chapter Text

Kagome had to admit, she was surprised.  Sango asking her out for coffee was odd enough, but here they sat, sipping their drinks at the surgeon’s favorite spot, and the young woman had hardly spoken two words before blurting, “Is it against hospital policy for me to be involved with a coworker?  Is it?! I mean, we’re… wait, can we do this off-record? Off-record girl talk, please?! I know it’s weird since we’re not exactly friends and we’re in different departments and we can probably tally the number of hours we’ve spent with each other on one hand, but I really just—!”

“Need someone to vent to much?”

Sango turned a loud shade of pink as she snapped her mouth shut.  Kagome found herself giggling quietly. How long had it been since she’d met someone so candid?

“Are we talking about Shinooka-kun by any chance?”

The undignified squeak that escaped before Sango hid behind her coffee cup was adorable — and an answer.  “... Oh my gawsh, I must be so obvious.”

“I have no doubts that he’s completely clueless,” she opined, taking a measured sip of coffee.  “Shinooka-kun seems convinced you hate him, honestly.”

“... I don’t like that, either, but- but if I say something he’ll get unbearably cocky won’t he?” she stammered, pouting.  “He’ll start doing whatever he feels like and won’t listen to a thing I tell him.”

“Shinooka-kun doesn’t listen to much of what anyone tells him anyway,” Kagome remarked, taking another measured sip.  Sango looked ready to bang her head against the table.

“I know.  Dammit.”

Kagome considered her quietly before telling her quietly, “Count yourself lucky though; at least he’s in a similar position.”

Sango seemed to come back to herself for a moment.  She was a critical thinker, a very logical person; her emotions could still run away with her sometimes, but at the root she was keen.  Three long, meditative breaths later, she returned, “I think your relationship with Taishou-sama is fine, regardless of your position.”

“We’re not in a relationship.”

“I’m not so sure about that.”

The steady gaze that held between them was heavy,  full of weight in an unbearable way. Sango thought they were… what, dating?  Involved? Her statement didn’t read as ‘just friends,’ which Kagome would admit to.

Taking a long drink of coffee, Kagome said, “When we get back to the hospital,  I’m telling Shinooka-kun.”

The statement broke all tension as Sango turned crimson while trying not to scream, not to jump from her seat, and failing miserably at both.

Chapter Text

Shinooka Miroku had never once given a sign of inclination to have a personal relationship with Taishou Sesshoumaru.  The CEO was well aware of Inuyasha’s friendship with the man. He was all-too-familiar with how the nurse sighed and swooned over Sesshoumaru’s most favored surgeon, Nishino Sango — soon to be his chief surgeon if Jaken’s reports on the current one’s after-hours activities were true.  Sesshoumaru was even aware, in a very peripheral and determined-to-forget sort of way, that Miroku was informed of the family’s… circumstances.

Still, it had never once occurred to him that Miroku would skip Inuyasha, Kagome, and the veritable gaggle of female employees from all wings of the hospital and come to him for advice.

“You see, I’m aware of the hospital’s stern policy on fraternization,” he emphasized in a questionable earnestness, “and I am determined to have your permission.”

Sesshoumaru refrained from sighing, dropping his head into his hands, or showing any further signs of irritation before this man.  “Shinooka, you’ll have to explain why you came to me , first.”

He blinked owlishly, as if in genuine surprise.  “Whatever do you mean?”

“Higurashi-sensei is your direct superior,” he suggested, mentally acknowledging how much easier it would be to get her sympathies over his.  “You are also a close companion of my brother and niece; it would not me unusual for you to seek their… aid, in gaining my approval.”

He had a blinding smile, this man, and it was as fake as Monopoly money.  “Ah, but you are the chief executive officer of this lovely establishment, are you not?  I’ll not waste time beating about the bush when your office is so conveniently located.”

“It isn’t convenient when it’s on the opposite end of the hospital from the pediatrics wing.”

“True indeed, but no journey is too far for my lovely Sango.  I need your permission, my liege.”

Sesshoumaru eyed him critically.  “No, you don’t. This Sesshoumaru will not condemn any relationship of genuine meaning at this hospital.  You do , however, need to convince your Lady Murphy if you want to escape that shock collar any time soon.”

Chapter Text

The Lady Murphy was indeed a trick… but not in the way Miroku or Sesshoumaru expected.  She presided over her office with an iron gaze at great odds with her reputation for bad luck and klutz genes, blue eyes glinting as she assessed them both.

“So you’ve brought him here to… what, ask my permission to perv on someone during work hours?”  Sesshoumaru had to admit the mighty effort in took, keeping his ears from turning red. Miroku continued to grin unabashed at his side.  “Shinooka-kun, if you’ve got any sense of self-preservation, you will refrain from behavior worth litigating against, do you hear me?”

He made the most exaggerated le gasp face either doctor had ever laid eyes on.  “My dear Kagome-sama, what manner of beast do you think I am?”

“A tricky, conniving, outlandish one.”  The nurse pouted, and for once it wasn’t put on.  Not too much, anyway. Sesshoumaru was not ignorant to the… what, an amused sparkle , was it?  No, Kagome’s eyes were sure enough glittering just a bit with signs of mirth.  “Shinooka-kun, this is a direct order .  If Nishino-san doesn’t initiate, you are not to pursue this relationship any further.  Are we clear?”

In the most forlorn voice Sesshoumaru had ever heard, including childhood with Inuyasha and Rin’s desires for all the sugar she could never have, Miroku managed to reply, “Yes, ma’am.  As my lady wishes.”

Chapter Text

“Whatever are you plotting?”

Kagome was on the edge of maniacal laughter, and Sesshoumaru could surely see it now that Miroku had departed the room.

“Who said I was plotting?”  The muted glare of disbelief threatened to uncork all her carefully controlled giggles.  “Okay, I’m plotting.”

“Are you going to tell me why?”

Punishment ,” she replied in a voice most gleefully evil.  “Nishino and I were having coffee and she said something silly.  It’s just a bit of payback.”

Her boss, friend, more-than-just-friends? Glared at her suspiciously.  “You are complicating things.”

It couldn’t put a stop to the satisfied grin that accompanied the statement, “I am, yes.”

“You are called Murphy-sensei for a reason,” he reminded.

“Yes,” she confirmed.  “I occasionally spread around my consequences for others.  Life is more amusing when we’re all miserable together.”

“Never would have thought it of you,” he said cautiously.

The silence stretched a beat or two, where Kagome took long, satisfied draughts of her coffee — from one of the cups he’d purchased for her mistaken birthday, no less — before murmuring quietly, “Oh, I’m not that vindictive and you know it.  They were going to be working at odd purposes sooner or later.  I told Shinooka-kun to wait until she initiated knowing he would be desperate to take anything as initiation.  Sango-chan is having difficulty figuring out if he knows or doesn’t and probably thinks I’ve told him something, so she’ll be careless.  It’ll work out. You’ll see.”

There was another long, pregnant pause as Sesshoumaru considered her.

“And you called him tricky.”

Chapter Text

Kagome may have more bad luck than a dozen broken mirrors and a scratch of black cats besides, but her intuition was on the nose with this one.

Sango would bring him a cup of coffee, and Miroku would adamantly kiss her hand… to which Sango would blush and stutter like mad before retreating.  Miroku, poor bastard, would be sighs and puppy eyes for the remainder of the day, thinking perhaps he had overreacted to something that wasn’t ‘initiation’ after all… even though it was.

Sango would bring him papers instead of leaving them in his mailbox.  Sango would return his forgotten cell phone. Sango would stop him from running nose-first into a wall because he was spaced out over her… and oh, oh, oh the flirts that ensued, the debonair smiles, the seductive croons and confident swaggers.  Alas, Miroku did not seem to realize his attempts at being suave were unfortunately counterproductive.

“Would it kill you to chill out for a bit?” Inuyasha snapped — his version of advice over coffee.  Miroku whined from his place across the break room table, nose smushed to the Formica surface.

“I have no choice, my friend!  The Lady Murphy has forbidden me from initiating signs of courtship with my fair maid, and my love Sango has offered so many small gestures of sweetness.  They are confusing… no, confounding ,” he stressed, “and am I to neglect such opportunities and never consider them advances?”

“Can’t you just spit it out and be done with it?”

“I am absurdly certain that such would violate the terms set by the lovely Higurashi-sensei.”

“So?”

Miroku sighed deeply.  “My dear friend, do you not recall the training device I was bound to for so many weeks?  I’ve no wish to return to the days of bondage.”

Inuyasha was so very close to teasing him, remarking on how the nurse had started to take a masochistic sort of pleasure in the punishment… but he refrained.  Now really wasn’t the time for such humor.

Considering his best friend, and considering his own plans for his exceedingly stubborn brother, Inuyasha dragged Miroku closer by the nape and whispered in the most conspiratorial tone there ever was, “Well, what say we start a’scheming?”

Chapter Text

It was a rare thing (actually, a first in their four-year acquaintance), but Sesshoumaru found his office occupied by a giggling Kagome who held a large bottle of vodka coquettishly to her chest.  She was rosy-cheeked and obviously drunk, but however alarming, he allowed her to remain in his chair and drink as she would. He wasn’t sure whether he’d ever hear what was going on, but eventually, she looked him in the eye and confessed all.

“My great-aunt Kaede died today.  She was my favorite relative outside my immediate family, and the only one that ever gave a damn about us,” she said frankly.   “I was both her favorite and her least favorite though; said I looked exactly like some other relative that disappeared years ago.  Ran off with a younger guy whose family thought she fell short of their snobby standards.”

Sesshoumaru tried not to show how the thought stung.  In multiple ways, so many ways, her story hurt. Kagome smiled at him kindly, eyes crinkling in a way that displayed the starting of crow’s feet at the corners.  His chest ached at the sight.

“I loved that old woman, Sess,” she said, calling him affectionately in a way he was sure would disappear with the alcohol in her system.  “She was a spunky old bat; some latent talent from her generation showed up in me, so she taught me how to really use my quirk.”

Kagome rambled on for hours, and Sesshoumaru sat and listened.  He heard so many stories of her childhood, so many failures and triumphs, that he could almost see it all coming to life in the woman before him.

In the wee hours of the morning she drifted off, and Sesshoumaru tucked her into one of the cots in the on-call room, settling on a chair by her side so that, at the very least, she would not be alone in the morning as she had been earlier in the night.

Chapter Text

It was the most inglorious timing, but Inuyasha admitted — just a little — that now was not the moment to be plotting world-bending pranks.

Kagome looked miserable.

She was pale in the face and had dark circles under her eyes… and though her attitude was no different than her usual, invincible tank of determination, she wasn’t quite as spunky as usual.  Rin patted her arm affectionately, and the doctor’s wan smile was hardly a comfort. Well, damn.

He wasn’t above dirty tricks, but timing was everything .  

Her Great-Aunt Kaede’s passing had her more affected than he’d expected, even after Sesshoumaru’s phone call.  Kagome was borderline family at this point, depending on whose perspective you took. Inuyasha sure as hell claimed her.  Rin did, too.

He’d never say it, but Kikyou had been so happy those last days.  She’d been ready to claim Kagome, too.  With a thoughtful stir to his coffee, Inuyasha admitted he was glad he never told Rin the “How I met your mother” story.

“Hey, Kagome?”  She looked up at him, now deep in the dregs of her fifth cup of coffee.  “Y’ wanna come have a slumber party tonight? With Rin.”

“And you?”

“And Sesshoumaru.  He’d like it, too,” he admitted, scratching thoughtfully at the back of his head.  “‘Cause… y’know. Stuff.”

Because Kaede’s dead.  Because you need us. Because we want you.  It wasn’t the most elegant plot to ever plot, but when her eyes smiled more than her mouth did, and she set the mug down to hug his little girl and pat his hand, Inuyasha knew this one was timed just perfect.

Chapter Text

Kagome was distracted.

She was more of a ghost in the halls than a tank, and she knew it.  It was showing in how she interacted with the kids. Even the rowdy ones that normally took pride in giving her migraines were looking at her confusedly, wondering what happened to the unflappable Doc Murphy.

True, she was grieving.  Even more true was that she was somehow invited to a sleepover with her boss-not-boyfriend-but-more-than-friends.  Bossfriend? Was that a thing? Kagome took a moment to wonder which unlucky charm she’d committed to have this situation now upon her.  She was going, though; she was going to that damn sleepover, she was going to bury up in a room with them somewhere, in a pile of futons and duvet covers and pillows and sheets and — knowing Rin — stuffed animals.  Maybe she could take a day or two off, and just… marathon episodes of Supernatural or something. Maybe she could get in their kitchen and make the most sinfully delectable chocolate desserts yet known to mankind. Or omelets.  She could make omelets and get Inuyasha to eat something besides ramen for once. Maybe they would order an unconscionable amount of Chinese delivery. Sushi. Sushi was good.

No doodles on her files, no whoopee cushions in her chair, no ill-begotten parental wisdom could pull Kagome out of her daze. She drifted through the remainder of her shift with a strange and muted longing for the comfort of a pile of blankets and companions all about.

Miroku found that his schemes were wasted at the moment; not because he couldn’t pull them off or because he felt sorry enough to refrain, but simply because his Lady Liege would not — could not? — react.  An affectionate note in Sesshoumaru’s carefully-forged hand, a missing sweater, thrice the normal amount of sugar in her coffee… Miroku even dared to touch Sango as she stood next to him, a hand pressed to the small of her back despite the lack of instigation.

No reaction.

As Inuyasha came by for a late coffee break, Miroku protested the inattention.  “Kagome-sama has become a ghost, my friend. The neglect breaks my heart.”

Rin, who stood plaiting Inuyasha’s hair to calm her fidgets, said plainly, “Kagome-sensei is very sad right now.  You shouldn’t be mean to her.”

Aghast in his usual exaggerated way, Miroku lamented, “Be mean ?  I would never!  T’was but a few small, affectionate pranks, Lady Rin… those should hardly be considered mean .”

She looked at him with sullen, flat eyes that were a dead-ringer for Kagome’s ‘don’t screw with me’ face; for the first time, Miroku admitted that family ties did not have to exist before family resemblances.  Rin quietly continued to plait Inuyasha’s hair, electing to ignore him rather than correct him.

Inuyasha muttered quietly, “Well, I was plotting some stuff, too.  It wasn’t just him.”

Rin kept her imperious, disapproving glare.  This time, she leveled it at her father.

Inuyasha didn’t flinch, but he wasn’t above pouting.  “You want her as family don’t you?”

She nodded silently.

“You know how damn stubborn your uncle is, don’t you?”

More hesitantly, she nodded again.

Inuyasha hauled her into his lap, his long, silky hair slipping immediately out of the braiding.  Rin didn’t protest the handling and allowed herself to be tucked under her father’s chin. “Well, we may be plotting, sure… but if we want to keep her, we’re going to have to help those two along.”

Miroku silently repented his teasing and prayed that Murphy-sensei’s typical luck wouldn’t hold out for much longer.

Chapter Text

She was two hours late despite leaving thirty minutes early, and missing half her things even though she’d made a list and checked no less than five times.  Kagome showed up on the stoop of Sesshoumaru’s large home covered in mud and red in the face from crying.

“Oh, you know how it is,” she said, not the least bit embarrassed at her trembling, hiccuping voice.  “I left to be early, but then the Uber got stuck in traffic. It was a dead stop for blocks on blocks, so I jumped out and decided to walk, but when I stopped to pay the driver someone stole one of my bags.  The policeman on the bike couldn’t catch him, and they told me to tell them what all was in the bag. Nothing traceable. Then a wheel snapped off my suitcase and I dropped my phone in a drift and it stopped working…”

Her lip wobbled horribly, and Sesshoumaru wasn’t sure if that was the end of the list or the beginning.  Instead of inquiring, he pulled the doctor inside and shut the door, hefting her bag out of her arms. She almost collapsed into him as she removed her shoes, too exhausted to stand.  He said nothing. There was nothing that could be said, nothing to make it better.  Grief was what brought her here, but all the smaller irritations were exacerbating the issue.

Inuyasha appeared in the foyer and took off with Kagome’s suitcase to who-knew-where.  Rin silently came and hugged her around the waist. When the wobble in her legs proved walking to be a challenge, Sesshoumaru lifted her into his arms without a comment.

They had expected her to show up with her iron determination to get better.  The whole house had been waiting for her to barge in with irrational tears, eat gallons of ice-cream, yell indignantly at inane television shows and challenge them to meaningless games of chance that losers could be indignantly sore over.  

Instead, she rested in Sesshoumaru’s arms listlessly, eyes dull and vacant.  

There was a nest on the floor in the den, much like the one that had taken up her living room for several weeks.  It was full of flannel sheets and blankets, soft down comforters and piles upon piles of pillows, and yes, a good lot of stuffed animals in the softest minky that ever existed.  They didn’t bother with the television, or the stereo, or inane conversation. The small family simply tucked her in their midst; Rin under one arm, and the two men wrapped around her in mute solidarity.

For all their planned wildness, they found the silence no less comforting.

Chapter Text

Sleep is the fuel of the Murphy Tank, apparently.  The next morning was met with great forcefulness as she ransacked their kitchen, cooked a feast, and proceeded to complain most comically about the previous day’s misadventures.  After breakfast Rin secured a promise to watch every Disney movie in their collection in chronological order; they were a scant hour into the first of said marathon when Kagome dropped off again, and out she stayed until noon.

The cycle then repeated.

As she dropped off in the middle of Dumbo , a movie she claimed to adore, Sesshoumaru put in a call to Jaken and had him contact the doctors and nursing staff for the pediatrics unit.  Murphy-sensei was being placed on no less than three days rest, and even then he would monitor her condition. Personally. He was already carefully turning over the logistics in his head of how Inuyasha would get into her apartment for more of her things, what money it would take to replace the items that were stolen, how much hot chocolate and whip cream would be necessary, and quite possibly whether or not there was a masseuse in his acquaintance that would be willing to make a house call.

“Sesshoumaru-ojisama?”  He hummed in response to Rin’s muted whisper.  She tucked herself even closer under his arm, reaching out to pat Kagome’s head where it rested next to his thigh.  “Sesshoumaru-ojisama, aren’t you going to keep Kagome-sensei?”

He stilled.  “Did… Inuya- your father, did he mention something?”

She pursed her lips.  “Just a little. Daddy’s never been good at secrets.”

Sesshoumaru’s hand had rested thoughtfully on Kagome’s arm when he wasn’t paying attention, and he considered it ruefully.  “Rin, I decided a very long time ago — when your father was still but an infant — that I would never take a partner for myself.  I could not.”

“You can , you just won’t he says.”

“Rin, I cannot.”

She pursed her lips, but the way her eyes watered wasn’t false, nor was it the fault of the movie in the background.  She turned back to the screen but quietly insisted, “You can .  And you should.  And… and you don’t have time to waste, you know.  None of us do.”

He ached looking at her, and wished for once that her body looked as old as her soul.

Chapter Text

It was sometime in the middle of the night when Kagome woke up.  Sesshoumaru had tucked her into the couch on one of his sides, and Rin was spanning his lap and the cushion on the other side.  Inuyasha had casually tucked himself under her feet and sprawled with apparent comfort across the other end of the sectional. The DVD’s menu played in an eternal loop, Cinderella’s title scrawled across the screen.  Lights off, any ticking clocks covered by the music, Kagome eased herself from the pile and stood.

And just stood.

There wasn’t any reason for her to be awake, but she was.  There wasn’t any reason for her to be up, but she was. While she didn’t feel particularly grieved by Kaede’s passing, there was a pervasive sense of loneliness that followed.  It never occurred to Kagome before, that you could miss someone you rarely ever saw.  Just knowing they were gone left you feeling vague and detached, your ties to them now hopeless loose ends.

She had wandered like this in her apartment too, if she were honest; awake for no reason at an unreasonable hour, Kagome had rambled about her terrible little apartment, sometimes picking at cleaning something and other times just standing in the middle of a room, staring into space.  This wasn’t home. It was a behemoth of a house, and she wandered from the family room to the hall, to the kitchen… staring into space. Steps that paused eventually led her back to the hallway, and it wasn’t on purpose but she wandered up the stairs unseeing. She noted the carpet and its softness, the banister handrail and its exquisitely smooth polish.  Eyes trailed without purpose to the wall, to the frames…

To the pictures in the frames, black and white and sepia even… and there stared back her face.

It shook the breath out of her lungs before she could scream.  That was her face. That was her face, but the hair was smoother, straighter… she was wearing a delicately-patterned kimono and dark-colored hakama , a serious face with eyes that glittered in amusement.  It was her face that didn’t look like her at all, somehow.

She ran, darting down a hall, filled with more pictures of her that weren’t her.  She tried diving into a room, but there were more pictures. Rin in a yukata with a her that was aged with crow’s feet at the corners of her eyes.  Inuyasha holding and kissing a slightly older her with profusions of wrinkles around her face.  A younger her , with Kaede , and an Inuyasha that… that was still just exactly the same.

She didn’t realize it, but she actually was screaming.  She was screaming and crying and having a mental breakdown to that was the end result of her last twenty years as the irreproachable student, the most exemplary daughter, the unflappable hot mess of Murphy.  She hadn’t cried like this since she was in her single digits, too young to really remember anything; but here she sat, wailing in an unknown bedroom and feeling like she’d seen her own ghost.

No, she’d witnessed her own past, present, and future self, hadn’t she?  She’d seen a life she never lived, a sweet and sickly twisted nightmare. The youngest portrait looked like her, at her Shichi-Go-San, in the same kimono she’d worn with a dark lip color she’d been so proud of.  Then there was the picture, a snapshot really, of her in a hospital bed, old and grey and terribly pale as Inuyasha and Rin cuddled on each side of her, asleep. Those were the beds in the hospice care ward. She’d only been there once or twice, on matters of such little importance she’d forgotten what they were.  Still, she knew those beds.

Was that where she died?

And Kagome cried loudly after, for hours, even when arms wrapped around her and hid the pictures from her wet and weary eyes.  She cried even when this mansion-sized photographica of her life dimmed from her vision. She cried even when she slept, seeing nightmares of a life she’d never lived, and hoped wasn’t a promise for the future.

Chapter Text

There were ways to break news, and there were bad ways to break news, and even Rin knew this was a bad way.

Somewhere along the line, they’d forgotten to account for all the photos that lived on the walls.

Kagome sat with puffy eyes and an oversized mug of hot chocolate in hand, looking the picture of misery as they tried to figure out the next steps in addressing the new problem in the life of Murphy.

“Am I supposed to marry you?  I mean, not even Harry Potter had pictures of the future, but I certainly just saw my life preserved before my eyes.  Rin’s adorable, I don’t mind keeping her, but I swear I only like you as a friend,” she rambled. Inuyasha’s flailing and sputtering couldn’t cut through the flow as she muttered, “I mean, you’re a great guy.  Don’t get me wrong. I’m still shocked at how good you are with kids. Who was that person next to me that looked like Aunt Kaede? Serious dead-ringer. That was unnerving, you know.”

“It was Kaede.”

Sesshoumaru’s statement made it through, much like a hot knife through butter.  Kagome stared at him wordlessly. Inuyasha scratched behind an ear, red all the way down his neck.  Rin shifted uncomfortably, looking guilty. Sesshoumaru knelt on the floor at her feet, and held her gaze as he slowly explained.  “It’s our Quirk. Dog General is an enhancement quirk, but it is not limited to our physical abilities. We are stronger, faster, and more… long-lived.  Those pictures were not you, Higurashi. They were of your great-aunt Kikyou, Inuyasha’s wife.”

Chapter Text

Kagome was of the habit of sleeping when stress was overwhelming.  She shut down physically and apparently suffered a rather difficult ‘reboot’ process.

Sesshoumaru considered discovering the longevity of his family — and their otherwise carefully hidden family relations — was absolutely a valid reason to reboot, even so soon as this.  As much as the Murphy Tank barreled through on a daily basis without blinking an eye, she deserved the rest.

Inuyasha grumbled over pizza, “Between you two, the universe is going to implode.  Damn, your kids are going to break shit. We’ll need Dr. Who on speed dial.”

Sesshoumaru continued not to dignify the insinuations with a response.  Rin nodded and lightly quipped, “I know it’s dangerous to the neighbors, but I want nephews.  Lots of nephews please, Sesshoumaru-ojisama.”

“Rin—”

Only his niece could manage a pout and a glare at the same time with such effectiveness.  “Kagome-sensei knows now.  Aren’t we going to tell her the rest of the truth?”

Sesshoumaru suddenly dearly wished he could sound a similar retreat.

Chapter Text

Kagome woke with a ravenous appetite.  She couldn’t rightly recall her last full meal, given all the sleeping… but she found a table surrounded by grave faces when she entered the kitchen.  Sesshoumaru looked so very uncomfortable that it wouldn’t have even taken her blank-face-reading expertise to decipher it.

Normally, her first reaction would be to promise she was over it… but she wasn’t.  She was still trying to figure out if Rin was older or younger than her. How the hell did Inuyasha and Miroku become friends with that age gap?

Sesshoumaru’s hair was probably white with his years… but if so, what about Inuyasha?

The thought stayed with her as she rummaged through the fridge and pantry, glances frequently finding their way over her shoulder.  Rin, notably less fidgety than usual, silently left the Round Table of Despair to assist in Kagome’s unspoken mission to prepare a meal.

Onigiri were supposed to take longer to prepare; when she wanted to get back to something urgently they always took ages, but the overflowing platter of variously-flavored rice balls were done so much sooner than she hoped.  It left her standing over the dish silently, wondering if she could hear them out more calmly from the shelter of the kitchen island. Probably not .

I’m not married to Inuyasha in the future.  He’s just lost his wife of over 50 years to age.  She looks like me. Exactly like Miroku said… sorta.  C’mon Higurashi Kagome, pull up those big girl panties!

She found herself stomping across the kitchen at a march, almost slamming the plate on the table as she took a seat, spooking the men out of their deep, dark brooding.  Ah, the Twilight references would never end; the shiny vampire, Miroku swore there was a ‘wolf’ they never talked about, the Human — well, this one didn’t manage to become immortal, but details — and her .   What am I, the daughter the wolf whisks away?  Please no.

So with a deeeeeeep breath, and calling on every Murphy Steel™ Nerve she owned, Kagome prepared herself to ask… only to hear a weak thud on the kitchen floor.

Chapter Text

Rin’s black hair spilled across the tiles, now matted with blood.  It was a minor abrasion; excessive bleeding from a tiny spot she hit when she fell.  What really had Kagome worried was the heartbeat, fluttering wildly and weakly in her chest.

“Taishou, get a bus on its way.  Tachycardia, shortness of breath…  ”

Inuyasha was white as a sheet; even whiter than his very pale brother, which was saying something.  She bit back a curse, but kept her fingers pressed to the pulse point on the child’s delicate throat.  She could hear Sesshoumaru on the phone, reporting the information to 110 in clipped tones before demanding her shuttled to his hospital post-haste.

With more hesitation than she’d ever had before, Kagome let her Quirk slip into Rin’s skin.

The last time she tried to manage Rin’s energy, the results had been disastrous.  The fever plagued her for days until the flow righted itself again. Most children had such chaotic energy about them that a little bit of regulation fixed all their ails, but not Rin.  Her energy simply raged. It crested like the waves in Hokusai’s famous painting, threatening to drown her small body, making tiny aberrations worse… like now. A trip from Rin’s heart, an unexpected hesitation or stutter… and the energy swept ahead, beating her beneath it rather than letting her ride it out.  

The last time Kagome tried to use her Chakra Management quirk on Rin, rather than calm the waves, it created something like eddies… which became whirlpools.    The energy trapped itself, knotted in on itself… there was hardly a way to describe it. Now though… now was apparently the time for her to try again. The power in Rin’s body was rioting, and rather than calm and follow Kagome’s lead, it seemed ready to consume the new energy coming into contact with it.

It was trying to make her part of the storm.

Kagome bit her lip until it bled.  Her energy was malleable by nature; it was what made her Quirk possible.  Never before had someone else’s energies threatened to eat her alive like this.  Not one child, not even an adult, had ever exhibited such a roar of life force, too much and too wild for anyone to control.

Ironic then, that it would be killing her like this.

With the taste of iron in her mouth, the metaphysical third eye that made her abilities possible flailing for purchase, Kagome croaked out a plea.  “ Sesshoumaru .”  He was there before her mouth could even close on the last letter, but it felt so horribly long.  Her ears caught the edges of an echo, an ambulance in the distance that would be there far too late if she didn’t do something.  Her boss, her friend, her bossfriend or whatever he was supposed to be… Sesshoumaru, just himself, knelt next to her on the tile, and she begged him quietly.  “Wrap your arms around me. Get as close as you can. I need you to play samurai for a minute.”

He didn’t ask questions.  Some part of her wished he had, just to have something to ground her in the maelstrom.

Sesshoumaru’s arms banded about her waist, and she felt when his broad chest eclipsed her back.  He was another energy source, but as her mind opened to it… oh, how soft. It was rich as old earth, and sturdy as trees that saw century upon millennia, strong as stone.  She felt tiny as a newborn fawn beneath the canopy of an ancient wood before him, but she dipped carefully into that energy and directed it and it’s timeless endurance into Rin’s body.

The storm raged, but Kagome built a mountain in the center of it.  Sesshoumaru’s soul, so stonily adamant, built barriers and windbreaks throughout Rin’s tiny form.  It dispersed waves, warded them away; a power so great as Sesshoumaru’s demanded their obeisance, and it was had.

Rin’s heartbeat was still faltering, but it was no longer embattled by the storms.

Chapter Text

It was the first time in a long time that Kagome had to face the whiteness of hospital walls as a visitor instead of a doctor.  It was her hospital, her ward, her co-workers… and yet she sat in the waiting area, disoriented and at loose ends and wishing it were darker and warmer and smelled of something nicer than alcohol and accidents.

Inuyasha paced and did his best not to curse.  He’d promised no expletives in her ward, after all.

Sesshoumaru sat stonily at her side.  Though their bodies were separated, he still held her hand in a firm grip, a stone tether in her confusion.

“Kagome-sama?”  Miroku leaned into her line of vision quietly.  She couldn’t even muster the energy for surprise, but watched as the nurse crouched down to meet her eyes properly.  “Kagome-sama, everything is alright now. Rin-chan is fine. She is stable. I’m willing to bet a healthy raise she’ll be asking for you in the next few hours, and teasing her esteemed uncle about future nieces and nephews again in the next three days.  You’ll see.”

She smiled weakly.  “You’re right too often for that to be a bet, Miroku.”

He seemed to startle at the use of his name, but a smile came with it.  Quietly he jested, “All the better to comfort you with, my dear.”

She couldn’t help the reactionary squeeze she gave Sesshoumaru’s hand, any more than she could help the deep breath that suddenly came much easier than any of the shallow ones before it.  Miroku said it was going to be alright. His intuition was painfully accurate, quirk or not; in fact, he was listed as Quirkless, so surely not? Well, if Murphy’s Law can be my non-Quirk power, I guess Miroku can see the future.

“I hope your non-Quirk is stronger than my non-Quirk,” she muttered, and however mild the smile on his face, Miroku’s eyes sparkled.

“I will win,” he quietly confirmed, “and you will coax the lovely Sango into a date with me.  Perhaps we can go doubles, I with my darling, and you with our esteemed CEO.”

“Wasn’t this not-a-bet for a raise?  You’re as bad as Inuyasha.” And Rin .  

The nurse nodded cheerfully, whispering, “Worse, Kagome-sama.  I’m sure I am much worse.”

With a conspiratorial waggle of his brows, Miroku rose from his crouch and strode from the room, giving Inuyasha’s shoulder a solid pat in passing.  She watched as his posture relax by increments until eventually, the nurse long gone, Inuyasha slumped into a chair and promptly went to sleep.

Sesshoumaru squeezed her hand gently.  “If Shinooka says it will be alright, it will be alright.  He’s vexing like that.”

Kagome let herself enjoy the moment a little.  Rin may be sick, but she was okay. Inuyasha looked so peaceful, passed out in his hard-as-rocks waiting room chair, and Miroku clearly felt comfortable enough with the situation to tease.  Kagome let the stress, the confusion, the frustration and the impatience go… and just for a little while, she leaned on Sesshoumaru’s shoulder, content with the feeling of his fingers knitted with hers.

Chapter Text

Rin’s third serving of applesauce was disappearing rapidly when she said, “Sesshoumaru-ojisama still hasn’t told you the truth, has he.”

Kagome considered that for a minute, checking charts that weren’t hers to check.  Professional hazard — she was back to work and Rin was in her ward, regardless of who her attending was.  Miroku was mostly a surgical nurse, but he volunteered to check in on the girl often enough. Inuyasha lived in the nurses’ station now, and his ears could even hear Rin when she whispered.  Sesshoumaru, regardless of his schedule, made time to stop in no less than twice a day.

Kagome glanced at her watch.  “Have you been teasing Sesshoumaru-sama about us again?”

“I’m not teasing.  I’m encouraging,” she muttered around her spoon.  “Because I don’t want you to grow up and leave me behind.”

Well, Miroku was spot-on; it was just inside 70 hours since he made his statement about Rin’s requests for nieces and nephews.  He wins again. Kagome was too beleaguered to be embarrassed at this point. At the same time, she looked into Rin’s stubborn brown eyes and asked, “How old are you really, Rin-chan?”

She didn’t look older than ten.  Her record said ten. Rocking back into the pillow, eyes wandering to her white-swaddled legs, she said, “I’m 42 next month.”

No crows feet, no laugh lines… like any other 10-year-old, Rin looked… innocent.  Untouched. Kagome couldn’t help but think about how she was already investing in anti-aging creams and thinking about starting a savings account for eventual facelifts.  Rin was almost the same age as Kagome’s own mother when Kagome was in middle school. She remembered seeing the start of wrinkles and sunspots, her mother’s quiet frustration with dry skin on her hands, and the occasional hesitations she would have when straightening up from sitting or leaning over.  40s were supposed to be poking the door of old age.

Rin smiled up at her, small and softly rounded with childhood.

Despite her woes of age, Kagome felt almost too young.

Chapter Text

Rin’s hospitalization dragged out a whole week for security more than anything.  Kagome felt responsible for the mess; Rin was attached to her — a bad idea from the start — but add that on top of her mother Kikyo's death, Kagome’s grief over her great-aunt Kaede, her things being stolen and then that blow-up over the pictures…

It was clear to Kagome, at least, that Murphy’s Law had stressed the Rin until her energy levels outran her.   Nothing like being the cause that needs to be cured .

Tonight though, negative thoughts were off limits.  Tonight was Rin’s release party; they were going to gather in a nice restaurant, in a private room, and celebrate the return of health and normalcy.  That was the plan, and Kagome was determined to stick to it. With a stop by the ladies’ room for a quick touch-up to her lipstick and powder, Kagome dashed for the nearest entrance where Miroku said he would be waiting to drive them to the designated restaurant.

“Ah, Kagome-sama, you are a vision as always,” he enthused with a playful smirk.  Sango gave him the stink-eye, but his arm was clearly wrapped around her waist — a sign of progress, perhaps?

“Keep those visions for the patients if you don’t mind,” she said, slipping into the back seat.  As Sango followed, Kagome leaned over and whispered, “Or have his eyes finally glued on you?”

Red-cheeked noncommittal followed.

“Why aren’t you riding with Taisho-sensei, Kagome-chan?”  Sango’s tone broke awkwardly despite her casual question.

A little more used to the ribbing than her peer, Kagome smiled indulgently.  “No reason in particular.”

Except I don’t know how to face him after inducing cardiac arrest in his niece.  There’s that.

Oh, it was so hard to admit.  She felt ashamed, honestly; Rin insisted she come to their little celebration, but Kagome felt her heart sinking.  She’d gotten so involved in the Taishou family.  True, that Sesshoumaru was the CEO.  True, that Inuyasha and Rin were his family — even more than they were patients.  True, there were no hospital policies that forbade relationships between colleagues from different departments such as they… but a niggling voice she’d been facing down for years pointed out, in despairing detail, all the ways she’d made their lives more difficult.

It was proving to be one of those times where laughing it off as “Murphy’s Law is a formidable curse indeed!” simply wasn’t possible...

Chapter Text

Miroku pulled in to the restaurant far too soon for her liking, but she still stepped out as he passed the keys to the valet.  Rin stood at the front door, bouncing on her toes, admiring the string lights quietly.

She… wasn’t smiling.

Kagome felt herself go on high alert, because god forbid that her talent for bad luck had shown up again.  Surely it was over now? Surely the spate was at an end? One look at Rin and she could tell, though; Rin’s energy was the usual overflow, not excitement or celebratory cheer.

“Rin-chan?”

Miroku, astute to a fault, gave a weak smile.  “Rin-chan, something’s happened, hasn’t it.”

Sango observed silently.  Kagome’s happiness to see her stand just a little closer to Miroku disappeared like a vapor, and even if they were nearly blocking the entrance, she knelt down to look the child — no, the young woman — in the eye.  “What is it?”

Rin’s smile was a dauntingly bleak.  “It’s not Kagome-sensei’s fault. Sesshoumaru-ojisama has Murphy’s Law, too.”

Chapter Text

Rin didn’t right off explain herself.  No, she turned and led their small group through the restaurant toward a quiet VIP room, where Sesshoumaru and Inuyasha both bore complicated looks and the evidence of alcohol consumption already underway.  When the group entered, Sesshoumaru looked up at her dazedly as Inuyasha sunk down into an exceedingly exaggerated slouch at the table.

Inuyasha aside, Kagome had never seen such a vague expression from Sesshoumaru.  He held more focus than any other person she’d ever met in her life, but he looked so lost right now—

“So Miroku.  The old hag’s gone.”  Inuyasha’s statement grated out.

Miroku had the face of a man neatly flummoxed when he blurted, “Wasn’t she already?”

A rude snort answered.  “Not that kind of gone, bastard.   Gone gone.  Dead. Deceased.  Jumped off the mortal plane.  Thank god for small miracles even this fucking late.”

Kagome’s attention snapped to the young man — or really, not so young?  He was probably older than her grandfather, truth be told, and that was threatening to blow her mental fuse box.   Still, she swallowed and struggled against a suddenly sand-dry throat to ask, “Who?”

Kagome was almost distracted and utterly boggled by Rin casually helping herself to her father’s elegantly chilled glass stein of beer.  Her inner pediatrician was screaming, just not loud enough to get through the thick, icky melancholy in the room.

Miroku gave a stunted sigh — maybe a huff of exasperation? — and took both Sango’s and her elbows, leading them to empty seats at the table.  “I believe the plan was to tell you about Madame Kimiko at this dinner, Kagome-sama. You’ll have to pardon them as neither the topic nor the apparent timing is pleasant.”

Miroku placed himself on the other side of Sango, next to Inuyasha.  The round table allowed them to see each other easily, an excellent choice for a celebration… but perhaps not so much for the sort of conversation where you want to hide.

And Sesshoumaru quite clearly wanted to hide.

Feeling rather more like a harbinger of doom, telling herself not to be silly, and hoping — just the tiniest bit, mind you — that Sesshoumaru would take her support, Kagome dared to wrap her hand around his.  The grip was returned quickly, and with such ferocious strength she nearly flinched.

The hoarse croak of words that followed made her flinch anyway.

Chapter Text

“Kimiko is my mother.  She was born in the Kamakura period, perhaps the early 1200s, to parents who each bore Quirks before they were called such.  One was immune to all sickness and injury, and one was long-lived and youthful. The resulting quirk — Kaguya’s Blessing, they called it — is what keeps we three young and almost impervious to injury and the passage of time.  

“During the Muromachi period, she was wed to the Dog General of the East.  He was called a demon, a god of victory… many things. By similar token, she was known as a celestial maiden.  Their reputations had more to do with their beginning than anything else, but the end was unmistakable. They were wed, and Kimiko was deathly in love with her husband.”

The silence that followed that statement seemed to weigh a metric ton.  The murky, uneasy atmosphere in the room was so unnerving that a server, having seen their faces when entering, retreated from the room at lightspeed without a single question.

Kagome couldn’t blame him.  This was hardly the time to be asking if she would be having champagne with her dinner or wine.

Sesshoumaru stalled in his story, to the point where the silence stretched on for nearly ten minutes.  He dreaded the ending… or was this the middle? It was hard to tell. Eventually, Inuyasha took a long, long draught of his drink before picking up with a hard, “And then the old bastard met my mother, and it went to hell.”

“Don’t say ‘The End,’ old friend,” Miroku muttered in steely-edged politeness.  “You have been putting off the truth too long as it is. Also, Sesshoumaru-sama?  It would do you well to mind your strength. Just a suggestion.”

Too overwhelmed by the tension, Kagome hadn’t dared bring attention to the white-knuckled grip Sesshoumaru had on her hand.  Thank God for Miroku-sama. He unclenched her had by unwilling and miniscule degrees, but she still gave him a reassuring squeeze once the pressure was loose enough for her muscles to contract.

With a nod, Miroku subtly encouraging Sango to hold on to his arm rather than his sleeve and spoke ever so softly again.  “Come now. Perhaps like teeth, this story will be better for a swifter telling.”

Chapter Text

Inuyasha took another bracing gulp and slammed the stein on the table so hard the glass filled with spidersilk-fine cracks.  Kagome held her breath for both the story and the glass’ sake.

“He met my mother in the early Edo period, a princess of disgraced royalty.  Don’t know what he was thinking, but next thing you know he’s having an affair right under his wife’s schnoz.  Even got mother a job at their castle as some sort of kitchen help, I don’t remember,” he bit. “You know how it goes.  Sex and no contraceptives makes girls a fertile breeding ground, and there I was, right in the middle of that clusterfuck.

“Kimiko found out.  It wasn’t hard. One look at me and she knew I was Touga’s bastard.  Even I can tell from the one old photo we’ve got that we’re dead ringers for each other.  I twenty when she saw me, still lookin’ like a toddler, and it wasn’t a day before she murdered Mother and Touga in cold blood.”

Kagome didn’t like the thought of that, or how her heart stuttered at hearing it.  Her grip tightened on Sesshoumaru’s hand, even if it took everything just to clench his fingers back.  His hold was firming again, bracing against this story that still ached. Inuyasha, who until then had been angrily glaring at the fractured glass, met her gaze with a ferocity that spoke of much older times than she ever had or ever would see.

“Kagome, I nearly died that day.  I nearly died, but Sesshoumaru saved me.  He nearly killed his own mother to protect me.  I can still remember the sight of body parts and blood painting the shoji screens, how my mother had time to gasp and cry for mercy with her bowels pulled out of her for display .  I remember how that bitch seemed to debate how long she should keep me alive, how much she wanted to draw out my pain in punishment for what my parents did to her… and then out of nowhere, there’s Sesshoumaru.  

“He and his mom look so alike with that coloring of theirs that I… didn’t know, at first, that it was him when he touched me.  I nearly took his arm off, thinking it was her. I know damn well he still has the scars. Even if I was a bastard son that did that to his family, he chose to protect me.  Kimiko’s been in prisons and mental hospitals ever since.”

Kagome recalled, nigh on five years ago now, how she had once said it was difficult to imagine the impervious, impeccable Taishou Sesshoumaru being traumatized by anything.

It was more painful than she ever thought possible to realize she was wrong.

Chapter Text

Rin gave a wan smile.  “Rin has never met Kimiko-sama.”

“Keh.  That’s a good thing, kid.  Remember?” Inuyasha managed a better smile, wry though it was, and wasted no time in mussing Rin’s hair affectionately.  Kagome found herself blinded by that cheerfulness, heart still stuck in the darkness of their past. She’d once admired their family resemblance — the long, fine-textured hair, the high, elegant cheekbones, their height and similar breadth of body.  Rin shared many of those traits, promising to be a handsome woman just like the two men in her life. How many of the differences, then, did their different mothers account for? Sesshoumaru’s more elegant jawline from his mother? His hands? His more delicate touches on an otherwise strong, solid frame, were all of those from…

Sesshoumaru’s punishing grip gentled and he drew close enough to whisper under the cover of Inuyasha’s affected exuberance.  “She is gone, Kagome. I was informed of her suicide just this afternoon by her attending physician. There is no grief left in me for her.  Rather, I am so utterly relieved my fear of her still doesn’t know how to resolve itself. Be at ease.”

“I’ll be at ease if you let me help with whatever aftermath there is to be.  I mean, funerals are —”

“There will be no service,” he murmured.  “We are all she had left, and none of us wants to think anything about her more than necessary.  She shall be cremated and interred beside my father. The proper facilities have been notified.”

“Then for you.  You’re not okay.  Don’t lie and say you are.”

She hated the way her body reacted to the softening of his eyes, but Kagome still allowed him to lean just a bit closer anyway.  “Indeed, I am far from perfect condition. Your… sympathy… will be welcome.”

She wanted to say it wasn’t just sympathy… but that took courage.  And meant admitting things she wasn’t admitting. Or rather, it meant acknowledging things first, because she had to acknowledge that she loved him before she could admit—

Dammit .

There it was, ringing in her head at the most inopportune of times.  She loved him. Far from keeping things professional, far from staying friends, Kagome found that the second the word love resounded in her head there was no going back.  Her heart was already beating for him. It pounded with compassion, affection, empathy… sounds of adoration she never knew a heart could make were resonating through her body, spiking through the nerves where their fingers met, warming the tips of her ears beneath his breath.  

With love, there came despair.  For where there was Kagome there was inevitably Murphy’s Law.  There would be spilled coffees and crash cart accidents and thefts and suicides and stress-induced heart attacks in small, precious children.  After centuries of jumping at shadows because of his mother, Kagome felt the presence of her chronic bad luck like an obariyon , weighing her down until it felt crushing.  Why, oh why , would she ever think to burden him with this?

Her love wasn’t — no, shouldn’t be his problem, as it inevitably would be if she let the feelings run amok.

When Sesshoumaru briefly pressed his cheek to hers, she reveled in it.  Then she leaned into his shoulder to hide the tears she couldn’t quite keep at bay.

Chapter Text

It was only easy to admit for the kids, but Kagome sometimes had to remind herself that Anxiety, as a disorder, enjoyed being a royal bitch right alongside Murphy’s Law.  Just because she was afraid Sesshoumaru would somehow telepathically intuit that she was in love with him didn’t mean it was actually going to happen, and no, her face was not that readable.  Anxiety — bastard that it is, was, and forever will be — made no good reason for her to avoid her boss(friend), his brother, and her favorite patient.

Her favorite patient was, at this moment, planning the double date Miroku had proposed as a reward for his typically transcendental intuition.  Rin needed to relearn the meaning of ‘no,’ along with the rest of her hospital’s population apparently.

No, she wasn’t going on a date with Sesshoumaru.

No, they weren’t dating already.

No, there would be no children in the near future.

No, they hadn’t set a date for their non-existent wedding.

NO.

Then Sesshoumaru showed up in a dashing suit with his hair done more aesthetically than she had ever seen, and Kagome had to tell herself no, they weren’t in love.

But apparently, her heart didn’t grasp the concept too well, either.

Chapter Text

“You look surprised.  I’m quite sure Rin made her plans apparent,” he offered in great amusement.  Kagome barely resisted sticking her tongue out at him. Just.

“I told her over and over that we weren’t dating.  What ever happened to the No Means No campaign?”

“Admittedly, it gained greater traction in Canada and the States than here,” he offered obtusely.  No help would come from his quarter then.

“Sesshoumaru, are you going to ask me out?”

“We are going out.  This very evening, in fact.”  He said it plainly, as if even the weatherman’s typical inaccuracy was of more import.  “If you wait much longer, we will be forced to stop and purchase appropriate clothing for you on the way.”

“Sesshoumaru.”

“Yes?”

“Are you going to ask me out, or are you going to assume like everyone else and leave me no option.”

The gentle, butterfly-inducing way his eyes softened — it wasn’t even a real smile , dammit, but it still got the same reaction — still couldn’t prepare her.  “Kagome, you and I have danced miles about this bush. Let’s at least come close enough to have a look at what flowers it bears.”

“What if there are more thorns than flowers?” she dared, because analogies were safer than just saying it out.  Sure, love could have pretty flowers and sweet nothings and sexy nights and mornings, but what about the thorns?  What about when Murphy’s Law inevitably kicked in again? What about a month from now, a year, five years, ten? What about…  She choked even thinking about it, but what about in fifty years, when she was dying of old age? What then? Would Sesshoumaru be doomed to live through her death the same way Inuyasha and Rin had lived through Kikyo's, mourning the fleeting life that they must now pass centuries more without?  Her chest tightened, stomach clenched, lungs struggled beneath the promise of a panic attack as she asked, “Sesshoumaru, what if the flowers can’t be had for the thorns?”

“What if the moon were red?” he asked in return.  “Would it be any less beautiful? Would the tides be less drawn to it for the color?”

Kagome couldn’t bring herself to look him in the eye as he asked.  What had she been telling herself for the last few weeks, only to be faced with love and the fear that came with it so quickly?  She heard him take a deep, quiet breath. The sound of his shoes on the linoleum, an ordinary sound any other day of the week, seemed to carry all her fears with it this time.

What if.

What if.

What if, indeed.

“Kagome,” he started, a hand reaching for hers where they wrapped around a forgotten chart.  “Kagome, are you less caring because of the constant crises you endure? Is Inuyasha less childish for his years?  Is Rin less your patient for the decades she has lived?”

“... No,” she croaked, just barely a whisper.  He leaned in, so close their bangs brushed.

“Then do you love me any less for the blood I have seen?  For the battlefields I’ve faced? For the centuries I have lived, Kagome… do you love me less?”

Chapter Text

It was the hardest thing to act normal when they finally showed up at the gallery, Miroku and Sango there ahead of them.  Miroku smirked as though he had done something particularly intelligent, and Sango blushed as though she couldn’t quite believe what he’d done.  Normally Kagome would be keen to find out exactly what happened, because Miroku was a little bastard some days… but her personal problems seemed to take precedence just then.  She couldn’t work up more than a passing curiosity, and the impression that Miroku was the cat to Sango’s smitten canary.

Do you love me less?

The words echoed in her head.  She’d say her heart stopped when she heard it, but no, it was still beating.  It had taken days for Kagome to convince herself that just because she admitted it didn’t mean Sesshoumaru would know… but he did.  He knew she was in love with him.

Do you love me less?

It was so hard to tell what he was thinking, what all emotions were packed into his voice when he said it.  What was real, and what was just wishful thinking? Pain. Longing. Anxiety — an old enemy she knew too well to mistake — and perhaps, just maybe, desperation?

Some part of her dared to suggest he loved her, too, but that couldn’t be right.  It just couldn’t.

The gallery walls were lined with canvases of such varied sizes Kagome couldn’t quite decide what to think until they wandered closer.  A picture that spanned three pieces taller than herself and two people wide followed discovery, joy and despair that accompanied love — and felt painfully appropriate.  Next to it was a canvas just a foot square. A child in a red room framed in darkness. An even tinier canvas, just a few inches big, was a child’s sneaker, abandoned and dirty.

A picture several feet long and only a handwidth in height followed the flight trail of a wounded raven.  Another canvas two hands high and wide, showed a lovebird mourning his mate. Another was, again, a large canvas where an unclothed man sat beneath the moon, surrounded by sleeping wolves.

“The artist… is very skilled,” she observed, somehow managing to speak around the dryness of her mouth.  Sesshoumaru hummed agreeably and squeezed the hand that even now perched tentatively in the crook of his elbow.

“A recent patient of mine.  A most… informative case.”

“Symptoms?”  Because nothing like a dose of professional discourse to bring her back to an even keel.

He shook his head.  “The symptoms were of little import.  There was a great deal of physical distress brought on as tertiary consequences of his Quirk.  They were little more than after effects.”

Quirk after effects, like Rin’s unholy amounts of energy, weren’t unusual.  Kagome’s after effects happened to be hellish periods with energy drain so severe she was generally asleep for two days straight at some point to make up for it.

“His Quirk?”

He tilted his chin, subtly motioning her attention again to the painting Moon Wolves .  “A modest secret, even in this age I’m afraid.”

“You’re going to leave me hanging like that?”

Soft eyes, the gold of them fairly glowing, gazed down at her.  “Soon, Kagome. That is one reason why even your ‘no’ could not sway me.”

Chapter Text

Soon sounded like she was being put off, but after they had traversed the gallery and its many lonesome, heartrending paintings, Sesshoumaru pulled Kagome from the crowds to an elegantly appointed garden behind the gallery’s starkly modern structure.  Groomed sand and weathered lanterns lazed about statues of wandering monks and sleepy kitsune. Beyond that, a bamboo forest framed a teahouse, dark and largely unnoticed, within its green stalks. The main compound’s interior lights were vanquished behind darkly-tinted windows, leaving them in a silent, spangled landscape.

Boarded walks offered nary a creak beneath their steps.  Sleepy nighttime warbling of songbirds mixed with the breeze and cricketsong.  There was a touch of the ancient here; Kagome found herself wondering if perhaps this scape was nostalgic for Sesshoumaru.  Hadn’t he said something about being born around the late Muromachi period, the Warring States Era… while the gardens were a product of his mother’s time, surely they would still be memorable?  Even now, he drew her across the walks with an unhurried gait; despite the slightest tension she could feel in his arm — nerves, she guessed — the man drew her toward the teahouse with an unerring sense of purpose.

Sesshoumaru slipped from his shoes once they arrived to the stone steps, and ascended to open the sliding doors.  He turned, offering a hand for balance as Kagome struggled with her footwear’s elaborate buckles and her dress’ unforgivingly tight fabric.  His guidance certainly prevented her from falling, but an unfortunate trip on the steps rent the stockings and bloodied her toe anyway.

Kagome chuckled ruefully.  “Murphy’s Law just won’t take a break, you know?”

Sesshoumaru produced an impeccably monogrammed handkerchief from his pocket and bandaged her foot with the sort of uncanny serenity she’d come to expect.

“You didn’t just bring me here to admire the moon, did you,” she guessed, when his hands continued to linger on her foot.  Sesshoumaru nodded, gaze trailed on the bloodied slip of cotton.

“I did not… though the moon is… it is indeed beautiful.”

There was the briefest moment where he looked up, and how she knew she wasn’t sure, but his face chased off doubts much the way moonlight chases off clouds.   He loves me.

What a thing to realize when he both did and didn’t say it.

There was an almost bashful pause, eyes falling away to her foot again, and it was quite possibly the most romantic thing she’d ever witnessed when he leaned in to press a kiss to her ankle, ignoring the runs in her stocking and the busted toe.  Sesshoumaru swallowed, again and again, as he gathered the nerve to speak.

“There is… so little time, you see.  The lives of mortals are brief as tides, fragile as a butterfly’s cocoon.  We are painfully aware of it, Kagome,” he murmured, voice hoarse.  “Kimiko’s Quirk was essentially a fountain of youth, and by virtue of its nature, could be shared you see.  With just one other, the Quirk would share itself… and the starkness of that hope is not unlike a night where all stars save Venus seem banished from the sky.

“The story… our parents’ story, you see, is the reason Rin continues to push us together.  Kimiko shared her Quirk with Touga, who eventually turned away from her for Inuyasha’s dam, Izayoi.  While biologically our father’s Quirk — Dog General — was passed on with the long life bestowed on him by Kaguya’s Blessing… the ability to share in that longevity was not.  That is why Inuyasha was unable to bind Kikyo to him the way my mother bound Father.” More fearful than she had ever seen him, Sesshoumaru looked up and rasped, “That is why I have hesitated to bind you.  I have long resented the ability to keep for myself what has been denied my brother and his child. I swore I would never — rather, I would deny even my soulmate, my twin flame. Why should I have my love with me forever, when they are to face the centuries and death without?  And yet they have long wished for me to find my moon, who would draw me as the tides… and they are frustratingly certain that moon is you.”

It took a minute.  Several minutes, really, as she parsed out Sesshoumaru’s first legitimate ramble and then as she realized just what it was he wanted.  Poor man, he just couldn’t speak plainly, could he? Her throat tight with the threat of tears, Kagome finally managed to tease, “Frustratingly, is it?”

“It is.  And they have pestered me ceaselessly.”

Chapter Text

“So you’re saying… that this Quirk allows sharing?” Kagome tried after a while.  The silence had stretched, but not uncomfortably. Sesshoumaru fairly hovered over her, as if debating how much physical contact was welcome.  The corners of his eyes tightened again at the topic.

“Only once.  Even should the partner pass on before me, I will not be able to bind another.”

“How do you know?”

“Mother apparently once tried it on a physician.  The bond did not take.”

“Who’s to say that a lack of willingness on his part wasn’t what prevented it?” she posed.

Sesshoumaru went quiet, considering the question as his eyes strayed up to the moon again.  “Even then, I cannot imagine choosing another.”

“You say the nicest things.”  Kagome was thankful for the dark.  Even if she kept her voice teasing, there was no hiding the ravenous blush that inked her skin from ears to collarbone.  “Weren’t we something like ‘just friends’ until recently? When did we come to this?”

“We’re supposed to take note when destiny catches up?” he asked, so blithely that his smirk was audible.

“You—!  I never would’ve pegged you as one to believe in destiny.”

He was smiling widely enough for the moonlight to glint off fangs she often forgot he had.  “What else would you have me call it then, when a doppelganger of my brother’s doomed bride walked into my children’s ward and promptly set the whole place on fire?  Inuyasha met Kikyou when her school was targeted in the war. He saved her from a burning building. Your bad luck powers are a match for mine, our positions deem us close as equals, your…”

What had been a light and quirky rant trailed off for a moment, and Kagome wondered what he was thinking so hard about.  Sesshoumaru leaned until his head rested against hers, and sighed quietly.

“Your compassion equal to your pride, and together they bolster a sterling work ethic that defies Murphy himself.  If you ask when we became this , I cannot answer… but I can assure you I knew my brother’s teasing was not unwarranted when you welcomed us into your home, uninvited and underfoot, and brought us to heel with your affection.”

Flustered and flattered, Kagome couldn’t begin to keep her voice even this time as she repeated, “You say the nicest things.  Bastard.”

Chapter Text

The gallery was open long into the night, the stars wavering against the sunrise.  Sango wilted against Miroku’s side, bleary-eyed and pliant. He teased her quietly, “Sango my love, if you cannot stay awake I will have to carry you.  Shall I bring you to my humble abode this evening?”

Contrary to his insinuations, Miroku’s typically nomadic hand remained chastely at her hip, thumb sliding soothingly against the silk.

“M’ not your love,” she protested, blinking stubbornly in an effort to wake up.  “Y’r a liar. Who lies. ‘n y’r… you’re a cad .”

It might’ve stung more if she hadn’t accused him in a pouty, slurred voice… but it did still sting a little.  Miroku turned his eyes to the thinned crowd, observing the artist that looked in his mid-teens, and his manager… a woman of barely better age with hair a near-unnerving shade of red.  The hour so late it was early, he wondered if waiting for their respective superiors was still prudent. I could check the registry, or the coat check… but then I’d have to get up.

Getting up meant moving Sango.  Damned if it wasn’t akin to a prickly cat’s rare willingness to sleep on your lap.

“Sango, I believe it is time for you to go to bed,” he sighed, regretting every word even as he carefully helped her stand.  The gods granted him a boon when she tumbled neatly into his chest, too sleepy to stop herself or move away once she realized what happened.  There were nuzzles involved, that he stopped only because the reactions were less than gentlemanly and would be notable as he swept the two of them toward the door.  A brief stop at the coat check to retrieve their possessions revealed that Lord Taishou and Lady Murphy had abandoned them quite a long time ago. Miroku wondered if he’d wasted a precious opportunity.

“Shinooka-kun, this is a direct order.  If Nishino-san doesn’t initiate, you are not to pursue this relationship any further.  Are we clear?”

Miroku considered the words.  He allowed very few things in this world to bind him, but he’d chosen to honor the contracts with Kagome, just as he’s taken Inuyasha’s words to heart those ages ago when he and Rin had been unlikely classmates in middle and high school.  Promises were for keeping, and offering too many had a way of tangling one beyond one’s limits. They were to be sparing and precious.

The silent drive to Sango’s unassuming apartment gave him time to review his memories with this glorious woman.  Each was a treasure, a moment as pristine as meticulously cut jewels. Her worry over her patients. Her pouting and blushing and blustering over their first date, coffee and pie.  That damned shock collar, courtesy of Lady Murphy.

Memories Sango didn’t have yet.  Memories they shared.

Miroku dared to lean over and press his nose to her hair, breathing in the scent of jasmine and oranges, and he quietly said, “I bet you’ll make it difficult, but all the more worth it.”