Scent of Acid

BY : FlameWolf
Category: InuYasha > Het - Male/Female > Sessh?maru/Kagome > Sessh?maru/Kagome
Dragon prints: 585
Disclaimer: I don’t own anyone or anything from Inuyasha. This is just for fun and no profit will be made from this.

Disclaimer:  I don’t own anyone or anything from Inuyasha.  This is just for fun and no profit will be made from this.

 

WARNING!!:  Underage Sex with 16 Year Old.  Extreme gore and Violence.  Graphic Rape.

 

Author’s Note:  Had to take five days to go visit family.  Promise schedule will be more consistent now.

 

 

 

Scent of Acid

 

By: FlameWolf

 

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~First Month~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

    After a quick explanation from Sango, Kagome felt more than a little stunned as she looked from her mate to her former crush; who was dusting himself off with a disgusted look.  The half-breed’s pointed ears were tilted backward, a disgusted sneer on his face as his amber eyes shifted to the taller male in front of him.  All at once, the girl felt overwhelmed with gratitude, running to nearly tackle Sesshomaru with a tight hug.  “Thank you,” she whispered, knowing all too well just how easily Inuyasha could have wound up dead.

    The mighty youkai only purred, nuzzling the top of her head as his tail wound around her.  Knowing exactly what she was talking about, the taiyoukai didn’t bother to ask for clarification; simply took in her scent.  The Sakura that clung to her like an aura was in full bloom, all signs of the earlier rotting gone for the most part.  It would only be a little longer before she was much better.  As much as his pride smarted, he had to admit Kagome’s suggestion about asking the group’s permission for time with her was working.  Not only was she improving but her pack was actually beginning to trust him, a fact evidenced by their actions today.

    During the fight with Inuyasha, either one of them could have stepped forward to stop it but they hadn’t.  Instead, it seemed like they had willingly accepted the possibility he would end up their alpha.  In fact, they were already going back to normal; the Slayer and her male hopping onto the Nekomata that always followed them around.  Even Inuyasha was acting as if nothing all that important had happened, simply asked Kagome if she wanted to resume their shard hunt before shifting his gaze to the Western Lord.  “Would that be alright with you too shithead?” spat the hanyou, a surprising lack of real bite behind the insult.

    Narrowing his eyes, Sesshomaru gave a barely perceptible nod; his eyes following his adopted daughter as she ran up to the giant, two tailed cat.  It was only the knowledge that the beast was considered harmless by Kagome herself that stopped him from placing himself between Rin and the creature.  Even then, it was a close thing.  Nekomata were not exactly well known for being all that friendly to ningen.  However, when the giant feline merely lowered it huge head to nuzzle the girl, he felt himself relax just a little.  “Can I ride the big kitty?” the small girl chirped, surprising no one with her request.

    Soon they were all in the sky, Inuyasha riding on Shippo with a sour expression on his face and his arms folded into his sleeves.  Rin, of course, was perched on Kilala’s head; laughing loudly as she appeared to be having the time of her young life.  As for Kagome, the time travelling teen was riding next to her mate on a cloud he had formed from his youki; Ah-Un following close behind with Jaken on his back.  If any of the villagers or travelling merchants along the way had looked up, they would have seen quite an intimidating sight.

    Feeling the wind blow through her ebony hair, the sixteen year old honestly felt relieved she had some alone time with the Lord to her right.  She still didn’t know too much about him and, while it was expected for women of the time to know nothing about their husbands, she couldn’t just let things stand the way they were.  She wanted to learn everything about the stoic male.  His hopes, his dreams, his fears.  Most of all, she wanted to find out just what kind of Lord he was.  Did he treat all those who lived under him fairly?  How did he treat the human villages?  Did he have enough honor to see past his prejudices and treat them fairly?

    All she really knew for certain was that he was a youkai of honor and that he had a soft spot for Rin that now seemed to include her as well as Shippo.  Just the fact that he had so willingly adopted a kit he had no affiliation to just because he was her son told her he at least had some morals.  Still, she had a job to do and she allowed her gaze to travel to the trees speeding under them.  Letting out a slow breath, the young girl allowed her senses to stretch out; honing in on a familiar trio of jewel shards.  Grimacing, Kagome quickly shifted targets; not really wanting to have a run in with that particular shard bearer.  Thankfully, there was another one the complete opposite direction of the familiar cluster.  “Over there!” she called, pointing out the one she was hoping they would go toward.

    “There are more over there and those are closer,” reasoned a baritone from above her, making her heart sink.

    “Oh but we don’t really want to go after those Sesshomaru.  Trust me, that one waaaaay over there is much easier at this time,” the teen argued, feeling a cold sweat appear on her skin as her mind began to whirl.  Of all the things she didn’t want to happen, running into Kouga at this point in time was definitely on the top of her list.

    The wolf Prince had made many a claim on her, quite loudly and often in an effort to pick a fight with Inuyasha.  Now that she was actually mated and pupped by the hanyou’s half brother, the arrogant lupine would likely be unbearable.  It was highly probable the misguided youkai would try to start a fight with Sesshomaru over mating rights.  A fight the taiyoukai was bound to win, despite it not mattering much anyway.  Kouga was nice and all but he wasn’t her type.  It certainly didn’t help matters that he was so pushy about things he really had no say in.  Unfortunately, his normally brash behavior wouldn’t fly this time.  All she could really hope was the inu noble decided to go against logic.

    Sour and yet sickly sweet, he could smell fear dripping from the blossoms of her scent.  Cocking a brow at her strange decision, Sesshomaru merely shook his head in response.  It made no sense to go out of the way for one shard when there were three that were much closer.  Besides, her reaction had made him curious about what she seemed to be trying to hide from him.  So, despite her heartfelt pleas, the Lord of the West turned toward the three crystals just a few feet to the left.

    As they turned, Inuyasha lifted his nose to the air and chuckled.  Shippo, on the other hand, felt just a bit of apprehension.  While the kit held no love for the arrogant wolf, he knew his adopted mother held the cur in high esteem.  If Kouga mouthed off around Sesshomaru, the Lord would no doubt dispatch of his would-be rival.  Needless to say, seeing someone so close to her die would have an adverse effect of Kagome.  “Inuyasha... make sure things don’t go too far down there?’ the young fox whispered, loathing the fact he had to ask Inubaka for anything.

    “Why should I?  Runt’s been rubbin’ it in my face that Kagome belonged to him for years.   I’d love to see him get his face punched in by his royal stick up his ass,” the half-breed groused, rolling his eyes as they began to descend into the forest.

    “I know but he’s one of Kagome’s friends.  Think of how she’d feel if she watched him get murdered,” Shippo pointed out, his words making the male riding him flinch.  He obviously hadn’t thought about that.

    “You really didn’t think about her feelings?  Man, no wonder she chose your brother,” the kitsune prodded, getting a punch to his balloon-like body.  The shock of the hit forced him to change back to his normal form mid-air, the pair barely having time to blink at eachother before plummeting downward.

    In an instant, Kilala was diving; catching Shippo while ignoring Inuyasha.  The crimson clad male let out a string of curses that would make a sailor blush on his way down, stopping when he finally impacted with the ground.  Unaware of what had happened behind them, Kagome nibbled her lip as they got closer to the ground.  “B-before we land, there’s something I should tell you..,” she began, stopping when she saw the telltale tornado approaching them.  Sesshomaru went stiff beside her in response, a gruff growl escaping him.

    A wolf youkai, not just any wolf but the leader of the Eastern Wolf Tribe.  The mutt had the shards.  Already he could feel his blood heating at the prospect of a real battle with a being that might come close to being his equal.  He looked forward to showing the whelp that the power he had gained from the crystals was nothing compared to that of the Lord of the West.  That the power he was depending on was a false one.  Hand itching to take Tokijin, Sesshomaru tried to put Kagome somewhere safe but found her practically wrapped around his arm.  “Please, please don’t!” gasped out his mate before springing away from him like a guilty teenager caught with their boyfriend by her parents.

    All he could smell was apprehension as his hand fell away from the blade, confusion filling him as the whirling dervish came to a stop in front of them; dissipating to reveal his fellow Lord.  Cocky as ever, the younger male had his hands on his hips while remnants of his self made maelstrom blew his ebony colored ponytail.  A smirk was painted across his handsome face, a fang poking over his lower lip.  Blue eyes scanned over the small group, faint confusion clouding his tanned brow as his tail twitched in curiosity.  “Hey, mutt-face, since when did yer brother start taggin’ along,” he growled out, his voice sounding a bit like a wolf trying to sound human.

    A low snarl ripped from the taiyoukai, his mixed youki flaring as his claws twitched.  The only thing that kept him from charging forward was the way his mate was looking at him, terror wrapping around her sweet scent.  It was almost as if she feared for this other male, making him feel both furious as well as just plain confused.  Was this other noble part of her pack?  Was he her friend?  Yet the smug expression on his half brother’s face told him something else was going on.  As soon as the upstart ruler’s eyes landed on his mate, he knew what it was in an instant.

    The cerulean orbs roamed over her body in a way that was indecent, as if he had staked a claim to her.  The way she hunched and seemed to blush in reaction told him such attentions were not reciprocated but she still cared for him.  Growling quietly, Sesshomaru made a note to ask about it later; watching as the Lord of the Eastern Wolves approached his mate.  When she was swept up in the canine’s arms as if she belonged to him, it was a very near thing to him fully transforming.  “Doesn’t matter s’long as yer still takin’ good care of my woman fer me,” he cooed, his words come close to being the straw that broke the camel’s back.

    Praying to all the Kami above that Sesshomaru was able to hold out, Kagome squirmed like a greased fish to get out of Kouga’s grip.  To her horror, she heard the lupine holding her inhaling deeply; all movement stilling as he stiffened.  Lowering her slowly and backing away to an arm’s length with his hands on her shoulders, the young Prince frowned slightly before leaning in to sniff the mark on her neck.  “Wh-what is this?” he murmured, hurt and rage mixing in his husky tone as his eyes met hers.

    Ignoring Sesshomaru for the fur clad monarch, the reincarnated priestess felt her heart break for him.  “Kouga...,” she started, a spike of guilt spearing her heart as she watched the pain wash over his face.

    “Y-you’re mated?  And... you’re...  To him?!” spat the jilted youkai, gesturing to the seething Lord behind her.

    “Yes, it happened very quickly but...  I think I love him already...  I certainly love the pup I’m carrying,” she whispered, a small smile on her face despite the pain raging in her heart.  She hated seeing a dear friend hurting so badly because of her.  That was one of the many reasons she had found it so hard to tell him her real feelings in the first place.  Still, as she watched the anguish take over this proud creature, she couldn’t help but think he would have been hurt less if she had been honest from the beginning.

    Holding his head in his hands, the distraught demon shifted his gaze from her to Sesshomaru and back again; shaking his head back and forth as he backed away.  “No...  You were my woman....  I... I can’t just sit back and let this filthy mutt steal you from me,” he hissed, his voice starting out small and broken but growing more enraged as he continued to speak.  Seeing what was happening immediately, Kagome moved to head off the disaster before it could start.  Running up to the seething wolf, she shot an apologetic look to her mate before placing both hands on the other male’s chest to get his attention.

    Thankfully, this seemed to work; Kouga looking down at her curiously while Sesshomaru tensed in the background.  He was so focused on the pair in front of him that he completely ignored the Slayer and Monk despite the fact they were disembarking their Nekomata right behind him.  Even the impromptu entry of Shippo and his useless half brother wasn’t enough to phase him, his right hand itching to draw his deadly Tokijin and just have done with the disrespectful cur.  It was only his loyalty to his mate that stilled his hand, a low growl bubbling up from deep within his chest.

    Inuyasha, who had been ready to lay into his half brother as soon as his bare feet touched the ground, took one look at the pissed inu and decided to rethink his actions for once.  The taiyoukai looked about ready to kill someone as it was.  All he had to do was shift his gaze slightly forward to see the reason why.  While he didn’t know much about his own species, even he knew it was miracle Sesshomaru hadn’t killed the wolf simply to prove who Kagome belonged to.  As much as he wanted to point out the fact the mighty male had turned into a whipped puppy over the miko, he decided to keep his mouth shut and just watch the show.  There would be more than enough time to tweak the asshole’s nose later.

    Unaware of any of what was happening behind her, Kagome made sure her friend’s eyes were on hers before she spoke.  “Kouga, did I ever actually agree to be your woman?” she whispered, a vice gripping her heart as she watched the youkai react as if he had been slapped.  Shaking his head slightly as realization and despair appeared on his face, Kouga sagged and hung his head slightly.

    “No but...  You never really said no either.  Besides, you always acted so happy to see me,” he protested, not making any move to stop her when she backed up to put some distance between them.

    “Because you’re my friend Kouga.  A very dear friend.  I wish I had found the courage to tell you this a lot sooner.  I never saw you as my... mate.  Besides, unless you’ve forgotten, you’re already spoken for,” the teen pointed out, her words straight to the point and making the older male’s eyes widen.

    “You mean Ayame?!” he growled out, his gruff voice full of disbelief as his head tilted to one side.

    Kagome could only sigh, her heart breaking slightly for the female wolf.  Kouga honestly didn’t mean to be inconsiderate.  His proposal to the young pup had been so long ago he had forgotten.  In all likelihood, he hadn’t even really meant the words he had told her when she was a child.  He had just been trying to cheer her up, give her something to cling onto as she grew older.  He had probably assumed she would grow out of it and had pushed it into the back of his mind as harmless folly.  “Oh Kouga, don’t you remember at all,” the sixteen year old breathed, only feeling worse as comprehension as well as horror came over the Prince’s face.

    “Wait, wait, wait!  Ya can’t tell me she thought I was serious!” he protested, his eyes shifting from side to side as if looking for a way to escape.  It was at that moment Ginta and Hakkaku caught up to him, grasping their knees as they fought to catch their breath.

    “Of course she did!  Why wouldn’t she?!  Kouga, Ayame has been following you this whole time because she hopes you’ll uphold that promise to her,” Kagome whispered, some of Sesshomaru’s youki wrapping around her to comfort her as her distress grew.  The tribe leader could only rub the back of his head, a flush over his cheeks as he shifted uncomfortably.

    “She’s just a pup...  Besides, she grew into quite a lovely bitch.  Any wolf would be lucky to have her.  I ain’t good enough.  I hafta use these stupid shards in my legs just to have enough strength to defend my own pack,” he confessed quietly enough that only she could hear, his blue eyes shifting to the group a few feet behind her.

    “She’s certainly not a pup any more.  Besides, she’s spent this long chasing you.  What makes you think she’d give up now?” the teen reasoned, turning her head slightly as she sensed the bit of youki that still clung to her mate closing the distance; feeling a slight bit of panic when she saw a hint of red in his sclera.

    Thankfully, the young Lord across from her was too distracted by his thoughts to notice when she backed away from him even more.  Hoping the added distance would help placate Sesshomaru, Kagome watched as Ginta and Hakkaku came to his side.  “What happened Lord Kouga?  Did Lady Kagome turn you down?” the mohawked one asked innocently, oblivious to the now dangerous aura pouring from their master.

    “Looks like she did.  Why else would she be trying to get him to date Ayame?” sighed the other one, running a hand over the lighter gray back of his hair.

    Feeling equal parts amused as well as horrified, the reincarnated priestess giggled when Kouga turned on his men and fairly roared at them.  “Rrrrrgh!  Shut the Hell up you bakas!!” he spat, his fangs bared as a dark cloud of anger almost seemed to sprout around his body.

    “What’s wrong sire?  A-ayame’s a perfectly good bitch to have as your woman,” Ginta tried to soothe, his tail bushed out as he shielded himself from his leader’s wrath.

    While things seemed to be going much better and his mate was a sufficient distance away from the other canine, Sesshomaru found himself discontent with being left out of the loop.  Besides, she had spent far too long away from his side for his liking; a fact he intended to rectify whether she liked it or not.  With her carrying his first pup, it was only natural he would feel a need to be close to her.  Still, as his arms wrapped around her and he allowed his nose to burrow into her midnight tresses, the taiyoukai felt a tension he didn’t know he had been holding melt away.  It was as if some part of him had been afraid she would be hurt despite the fact there was no definite threat.  “Sessho!” hissed a half mortified protest in his ear, his mate turning to give him a glare as he gave her to most neutral look he could muster.

    She could protest and struggle all she wished but he wasn’t going to release her until he was ready, an actuality made more apparent by his tail unraveling from his shoulder to wrap around her waist.  To his relief, she simply sagged into him; accepting his hold as she returned her focus to the cur arguing with his men.  From the sounds of it, Kagome was trying to steer his attentions to another wolf that already longed for his heart; something he heartily approved of.  If the whelp had his own mate, he would likely leave the miko alone.  At this point, the taiyoukai wanted nothing more than that.

    Even all his best protests sounded hollow, as if he was making up excuses.  Just hearing him made Kagome realize something.  While he had certainly had affection for her, he had been using her as a means to run from the youkai he truly loved.  He obviously held the female wolf in very high regard with all the fears he was spouting.  Finally he was gripping his hair in both hands, letting out a frustrated snarl that effectively cut off his brothers.  “Alright, ya wanna know why I don’t want to give in to Ayame?!  Fine!  I still have to get rid of Kagura and Naraku!  I can’t have someone as naive as her gettin’ involved!  I can’t watch another person I love die at that filth’s hands,” he spat, the truth hanging in the air like a guillotine blade.

    While not really surprised given his behavior, it still stung the young girl to hear it.  If only slightly.  After all, no woman likes to hear they were just a means to forget someone else.  “Don’t underestimate her.  She’s become very strong and she’s gonna follow you no matter what.  You might as well accept her into your group so you can protect her,” Kagome pointed out, taking comfort in her mate’s slightly sharp scent as Kouga spun to look at her with an utterly guilty expression.  Yet, unlike a certain hanyou, he made no effort to cover up what he had blurted out.  Instead he avoided her gaze, tail wrapping around his left leg insecurely.

    “I didn’t mean for you to hear that...  I don’t want ya thinkin’ I never loved you, cause I did.  I just...  I’ve loved Ayame since that night really.  I knew she was too young and likely to forget me but I intended to come back for her when she was older.  That was when...,” he explained, trailing off as a pained expression crossed his features.

    “That was when Naraku happened and you ran into me.  A woman who not only knew how to fight but could find the shards as well as help defeat your enemy,” the highschooler finished, giving him a forgiving smile when he flinched.

    “Its okay.  Really.  Like I said before, I never saw you in a romantic light in the first place.  I would like us to remain friends though,” she assured the weight of her mate’s chin on her shoulder reminding her that she had really lost nothing in all of this.  All that had happened was the truth was finally known, a huge relief on the part of both parties.

    Kouga merely gave her a sad smile, nodding his head before his gaze shifted to the Western Lord holding her; his expression sobering immediately.  Narrowing his eyes, the lupine youkai snorted as he locked gazes with his fellow alpha.  Snarling quietly in response, wolf Prince simply crossed his arms as he leveled the other youkai with a glare.  “You better take care of her Lord Sesshomaru.  If I find out your were just using her to get to Naraku, I can promise the entire Eastern Wolf Tribe will wage war on the West.  A war that won’t cease as long as I draw breath,” he declared, his words more of a growl than actual speech; eyes blazing as his pupils became slitted.  Sesshomaru merely narrowing his eyes, nuzzling the mark he had made on her neck in an effort to show just how much the female meant to him.

    While she wasn’t entirely sure what was occurring between the two canine youkai, Kagome could tell whatever it was the problem was being resolved peacefully.  In fact, just a simple nuzzle on her marking had made her friend relax considerably; a sad smile on his face as he gave a small nod.  “Okay, now that’s out of the way.  Kagome, I’m glad you’ve found happiness.  I always knew that mutt-face didn’t have near enough balls to admit he liked ya,” the wolf in human form quipped, chuckling when his old rival shot him a dirty glare.

    Then he was bowing to her, the sudden subjugation making her heart feel funny as he exposed the back of his neck to her.  Looking at the alpha male with a disconcerted expression, she had to bite her lower lip against her natural inclination to ask him to get to his feet.  Lifting his head to look at her, the young noble took both her hands in his; his eyes briefly going to Sesshomaru as if to ask permission and getting a barely perceptible nod in response.  “As of today, the wolves of the East pledge their allegiance to the House of the West.  Especially to the Lady.  She will be our first priority, her Lord our second.  If the West should ever mistreat its Lady, we will be ready to exact her revenge,” he announced, his azure eyes holding a seriousness she had rarely seen in him.

    Still meeting her gaze steadily, Kouga plunged his sharp claws into the shin of his left leg; pulling out a tainted shard while he ignored Kagome’s cries of horror and shock.  Placing the blood coated stone on the dirt, he ignored the girl’s pleas for him to stop as he ripped out the shard in his right leg as well.  “My mistress needs them more than I do if she is to defeat Naraku.  The Shikon is the key to all of this, right?” he explained, his gruff voice holding a slight hint of pain as he took out the shard in his right bicep.  Picking up the one he had placed on the ground, he presented the trio of shards to their reincarnated keeper with a grim expression on his face.

    “Kouga...  I can’t...  You need them too,” she tried to protest, not the least bit disgust by the blood coating them after all the gore she had seen.  The only thing that bothered her was that it was her friend’s blood as well as the fact that he was still bleeding from his three injuries.  The wolf only shook his head, turning one of her hands over to press them into her palm.

    “I will find another way to be stronger.  I’ve relied far too much on something that will never truly make me gain strength.  If I’m going to protect you, I will need to stop relying on false power.  It may be hard but I’m sure Ayame’s old man has a few tricks to teach me,” the young male assured, his blood still pattering onto the ground as he gave her and her pack a small wave while he straightened.  Then he was off in his self-made tornado, Ginta and Hakkaku looking frustrated before they began chasing him once more; calling for him to wait up.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Second Month~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

    It had taken some fast talking to explain her relationship with Kouga to her mate, a fact Inuyasha had been far too smug about.  In fact, the hanyou had been so annoying she had eventually had to resort to using the word for subjugation; feeling no guilt as she and Sesshomaru left the prone half breed behind.  Rising above the trees on the taiyoukai’s youki cloud, she and her pack had headed off toward the next shard; leaving the former alpha to find them with his sense of smell alone.

    The next few weeks had passed quickly, Kagome putting off going back to her time as long as she possibly could.  Unfortunately, she still had school.  In fact, she intended to keep physically attending until she started to show.  As such, she was coming up to a point where asking to go back would be unavoidable and now she had two males to worry about when she asked.  Her only consolation was that they had gathered a large number of shards.  That meant that at least Inuyasha might be a bit more willing to go back.  Sesshomaru, on the other hand, was bound to be a huge sticking point.

    As her second month had progressed, he had clung to her like glue; unwilling to let her get more than a few feet away from him at a time.  To her embarrassment, that had also meant when she went to the bathroom.  No amount of pleading or crying would dissuade him either.  While some part of her was charmed by his protectiveness, she also felt a touch annoyed.  Before he had come along, she had been able to pretty much take care of herself.  Granted, she had a few rough days in the beginning but she had gotten much better since then.  She had been able to hold her own, in fact she often been forced to with all the times she had been kidnapped.

    Sighing as she leaned forward to pat one of Ah-Un’s heads, Kagome was at least grateful she wasn’t riding right beside the overpowering male.  While she did love him, a fact she still found baffling after how short a time she had actually known him, she desperately needed some space.  She was much more used to Inuyasha’s aloofness and she hadn’t really pegged his more stoic sibling to the clingy type.  It was honestly exhausting and sorta reminded her of Hojo only not as bad.  However, if the taiyoukai started offering her all manner of natural remedies, she would gladly go back to her time to deal with the well meaning teen instead.  It just seemed less weird when her school mate did it.  “Do you think I have any chance of convincing him I need to go back for at least a week?” she asked her mount, chuckling when both heads shook as if in reply.

    “Yeah, didn’t think so but I have to try,” huffed the young girl, taking the moment to check on the other members of their travelling party.

    Rin was still riding on Kilala, the novelty of riding a giant cat not quite worn off yet.  This time, however, Jaken was also with the young child; having outright refused to ride with Kagome.  Inuyasha was still perched on top of Shippo’s balloon body, his normal brooding expression all over his tanned face.  If she was honest, the young miko was surprised the hanyou hadn’t brought in Kikyo yet.  It was obvious to everyone in the group that he was in love with the undead priestess.  Now that he had a straight shot with his previous woman, it was strange that he wasn’t taking it.  Making a mental note to talk to him about it, the young teen could only wait until either she sensed a jewel shard or they decided to land for the night.

    That was when she felt it, a faint tickle against the fringes of her senses that tugged at part of her soul.  It was a shard, something she had never thought she would be relieved to feel.  Thankfully, Sesshomaru was keeping a peripheral eye on her; making it fairly simple to signal him to land.  Giving her a nod when he saw her gestures, the taiyoukai began to descend; the others following suit.  Sliding off the dragon once they were on the ground, the schoolgirl brushed off her jeans; grateful she was finally wearing some practical clothes.  Most of the time she had just worn her uniform out of sheer laziness but, as she had travelled more, she found the short skirt was more than just a little impractical.  It didn’t offer much protection for her legs and she’d had to explain many a scrape, cut or bruise to her classmates as part of her illness.  That, of course, had led to Hojo following her like a lost puppy for weeks; giving her all number of remedies he had found for bruising and bleeding disorders.

    Unaware of all the turmoil going through his mate’s head, Sesshomaru extended his senses into the forest around; a bit stunned when all he could sense was a youkai bear cub off in the distance.  Frowning, he raised his nose into the air to try to scent the mother; getting nothing but the smell of blood and great pain.  Frowning as his beast rose slightly, the mighty inu turned to look at his newfound pack as they landed.  With him taking over as their alpha, their safety was now his responsibility.  “Stay,” he ordered, his eyes mostly focusing on his mate.  While he was certain the others would listen, Kagome was a whole other matter.

    The girl seemed to have no sense of self preservation, especially given how she had reacted during all their brief encounters.  If he had wanted to kill her those times, it would have been depressingly easy; a fact that was disconcerting given the amount of affection he held for her now.  So he wasn’t too surprised when she got a certain glint in her eyes and the spicy scent of her temper accentuated the natural scent of her sakura before stomping her way toward him.  “Listen you, just because you’re alpha of this pack doesn’t mean you can just go around ordering me what to do,” she spat, missing the irony of her own words as she poked his chest rather ineffectually.

    “Technically, it does,” the Lord pointed out, inwardly grinning at his mate’s capriciousness.  Outwardly, he looked as stoic as ever; though slightly pissed.

    Rolling her eyes, Kagome huffed as she shook her head.  “Alright, I have to give you that one but I never listened to ‘Yasha and I’m not just gonna listen blindly to you now,” she pointed out, giving his muscled chest another hard jab despite the fact it hurt her finger.  Sesshomaru merely raised a singular brow in response before simply heading into the forest, the sixteen year old close on his heels.  A little stunned he had acquiesced without much of a fight, the time travelling miko decided not to open her mouth and jinx it.  Besides, it wasn’t as if she didn’t have her own weapons to protect herself with.

    Still, as they got closer to where the shard was, she couldn’t help but feel a slight bit of apprehension.  This would be the first time she would be fighting using her reiki while it was mixed with Sesshomaru’s youki.  While she had control of some of her pure, holy energy, most of what she had available had merged with the taiyoukai’s own energy and more was being lost to the combination all the time.  All too soon, their energies would be fully merged and she had no clue just what that would do to her powers or if she would even be able to use her reiki.

    As they reached the clearing where the signal was the strongest, all further thought left her mind as she took in the horrifying scene.  What looked like hundreds of trees had been either ripped out of the ground or simply torn in half, creating the meadow they now stood in.  Gore was splattered everywhere, coating the trees and ground.  Pinching her nose shut against the overwhelming stench of blood and offal, Kagome allowed her dark eyes to roam over the horrifying tableau.

    Chunks of meat, gristle and organs were tangled amongst the tall blades of grass.  Bits of intestine and unidentified, bloodied hunks littered the trees that still stood.  In the middle of the mess was a titanic, black furred body; a larger, deformed, twisted copy of whatever the animal had been stood over it.  The thing looked like a youkai bear but forced into a monstrous form, pieces of its arm bones sticking out of its hide.  Some of its spine also seemed to have pierced through the skin of its back, its hulking form shaking as it stared at what was left of its fellow ursine.  “M-mama...,” gurgled a choked, clogged voice that made her arm hairs stand on end while her stomach proceeded to turn loops inside her.

    “Oh God...  The shard...,” she gasped out, losing her battle with nausea as her stomach heaved.  She had just enough time to run to a bush, puking as quietly as she could and hoping the bear demon couldn’t smell it over the mess.

    Smelling the sourness of her sickness, Sesshomaru immediately went to her side; keeping an eye on the transformed cub.  “Th-the shard... it transformed him.  Made h-him lose his... his mind,” gasped his shaking mate before she was heaving again, the breakfast she had eaten just minutes earlier pattering onto the ground.  Nodding, the larger demon nuzzled the distraught girl; straightening as the bear lifted its nose and scented the smell of vomit.  Turning its giant head, the transformed cub bared its teeth at the pair of strangers; gore dripping from its deformed muzzle.

    Snarling in response, the Aristocratic Assassin withdrew his Tokijin; rushing forward in a blur of speed while his mate got to her own feet behind him.  Unbeknownst to him, the sickened girl was notching an arrow on her bow; a determined glint on her eye.  Brown eyes scanned the hulking creature rapidly, her green tinged reiki covering the tip of the arrow.  Seeing a glint of tainted pink, Kagome took a breath and fired on her exhale; the arrow flying straight through the air to pierce the cub’s heart.  A mighty roar ripped through the air as the ursine reared onto his back legs, blood oozing from its mouth as it seemed to sway in place for a few seconds.

    Clutching its chest with one paw, it let loose a bloodcurdling bellow that shook the ground and made Kagome sink to her knees.  Hands flew to her ears as a pained expression came over her face.  With a vocalization of his own, Sesshomaru swung his demonic sword downward.  “Dragon Strike,” he snarled, pushing as much of his reiki tainted youki into the sword as it could handle.  A strange wind began to whip his platinum hair out of his sculpted face as a dragon made of pure energy burst out of the tip of the weapon.  Coil after coil of the mighty beast wound free, the ethereal creature curling behind its summoner.  Its huge, cloud-like body was tinged a faint pink where it would have normally been pure white.

    For endless moments, it seemed to just float there; its eyeless face seeming to glare at the twisted cub.  As it readied for battle, the youki serpent took a moment to caress Kagome’s cheek with its tail.  Then it was shooting forward, its jaws opening as the wind it created made a roaring sound.  The unfortunate youkai child only had a moment to see what was coming before it was simply torn apart and vaporized as it exploded into a blinding burst of light.  One last yowl of agony escaped its maw before it simply disappeared from existence.

    Kagome could only stare at where it had been, her heart aching as she watched the corrupted shard float slowly to the ground.  Swallowing the tears that threatened to come, the sixteen year old bent to collect the piece of jewel; the small crystal turning pink as soon as her skin made contact.  Closing her eyes, she pulled out the small jar hidden inside her t-shirt; placing it inside with the others.  “Won’t be too long before we have enough to add to the big piece of the jewel I have,” she announced, her voice shakier than she would like.  As much as she tried, she couldn’t stop thinking about how they had essentially killed a child.

    Eyes travelling to the mutilated mother, she sank to her knees with her hands clasped in front of her; offering a prayer to the dead beast.  “Forgive me for what we had to do to your son.  He was in great pain and had lost his senses,” she whispered, leaning into the taller figure that had walked up to her; kissing the hand that landed on her shoulder.  Instead of saying anything, the taiyoukai merely bent his head; seeming to join in.  Then, with a wave of his hand, the remains of the mother were vaporized in a flash of his green poison.

    Sickly sweet nausea as well as stinking, sulphur-like guilt; both these things mixed with the sweet scent of her sakura and made his beast come dangerously close to taking over.  Her pureness was so fragile and yet so important, calling him to protect it; to nurture it.  Yet, some part of his darker nature longed to corrupt it, to see it darken due to his own influence.  It was part of being a youkai and why so many miko fought to exterminate them.  All too often, a demon would be drawn by the pureness of the priestess simply out of the want to see her suffer; to see her shining soul slowly grow corrupt and wither.

    As powerful as he was, he had yet to feel such a base urge.  Until he had come across the ningen he was now taking into his arms.  It was as if her soul was the exact opposite to his, completing him while making him hate it for complimenting him so well.  It certainly didn’t help that the longer he was around the young girl, the more he felt something stirring in the back of his mind.  It was as if some distant memory was beginning to stir, something from a past life that had meant a lot to him at one time.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Third Month~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

    To say it had taken a lot of convincing for Sesshomaru to allow her to go home would be an understatement.  It had taken until the start of her third month to finally convince the stubborn male to take her back to the well and only under the condition that he be permitted to come with her.  Over and over she had tried to tell him it wouldn’t be possible, no matter how much he wanted to.  Yet he had been unwilling to budge a single inch towards the well until she had agreed.  That hadn’t stopped her from trying to sneak away however.

    Every single attempt was thwarted within seconds by her overprotective mate, to her rage and her companions’ amusement.  As a whole, with the exception of Inuyasha, they seemed to agree that she should at least allow him to try.  After travelling with him for so long, even Kagome had a hard time saying he still held his same hatred for humans.  There had been many villages that had needed her help and he had done nothing to harm any of them.  In fact, he had used his vast knowledge of herbs and salves to help; pointing out plants that turned out more potent than any Kaede had known of.

    So, with a feeling of deep apprehension, she had finally agreed; making him promise on his honor not to attack anything without her permission.  Even if it seemed dangerous.  Often, the things that seemed the most dangerous in her time were the most harmless; a contradiction that only seemed to confuse the youkai Lord.  Still, he had given his consent via a small nod; scooping her into his arms before setting off on his cloud back toward the well.  That had been a couple days ago and Kagome was beginning to wonder if her mate was delaying on purpose.

    Letting out a soft sigh, the sixteen year old looked up at the powerful inu holding her.  The muscles in his pale cheeks were taut, making the magenta stripes on his cheeks more prominent as his cold, amber eyes glared forward.  All her earlier bravado drained out of her as she felt his irritation as well as worry flowing through the connection made by his youki and her reiki.  “I do not like the idea of you going to your time alone.  Especially when you carry this one’s child,” hissed his gruff voice, his teeth clenched as his clawed fingers twitched on her sides.

    “If I cannot follow you, do not linger.  Certainly do not stay a whole day,” he continued before she could say anything, the sternness in his voice making something inside her protest.

    “Hey, hold on a...,” she began, feeling slightly indignant that he felt like he could just order her around.

    Growling, Sesshomaru placed his fangs against his mark; exuding authority through his youki.  As much as he normally loved the piquant scent of her temper, he would not be argued with on this matter.  His nerves already felt stretched thin allowing her to be around a pack he didn’t know in her condition.  If she did not trust or value the group as much as she did, he would have whisked her off in her first month.  As an inu youkai, his instinct was practically screaming at him to keep his mate and coming offspring safe.  Just the thought of being trapped on the other side of the well, a whole timeline away from his mate, made his fur stand on end.

    “Do not argue with me.  Please, this Sesshomaru begs of you.  It is hard enough to let you go in the first place,” he hissed, his sclera reddening as his darkness surfaced.

    Kagome could only look at him in confusion, unaware of the inner storm currently overtaking her mate.  Hearing him plead with her was what had gotten through and she finally nodded with a heavy sigh.  She had planned to stay there a week, maybe two.  All plans she’d have to change if he came with her.  At least she would be able to be there a few days to get some of the homework she had missed as well as turn in everything she had finished while travelling.  Even doing that could prove to be a challenge as she could just bet the Western Lord would demand to accompany her to her school.

    That in and of itself could be a fiasco.  Just getting him into appropriate clothing alone would no doubt be a challenge as the stubborn dog would see it as below his stature.  Then there was his hair and tail, things that just couldn’t be easily hidden.  On top of that, Sesshomaru had never seen any vehicles beyond horse drawn carts in his life.  His first encounter with a car or a bus was bound to be harrowing, to say the least.  The best she could hope for was that he would be stuck on this side, allowing her a few hours to get her affairs in order.

    Reluctantly nodding in agreement, Kagome bemoaned her school record.  At this rate, her grades would never improve.  She was doomed to getting a low end job simply because fate had decided to play a cruel trick on her.  Instead of being a normal teen, she was on the treasure hunt from Hell and mated to a taiyoukai to boot.  To add to the fun, she was pregnant with a hanyou child at sixteen and would more than likely end up having to give birth in some hut in the woods.  She certainly couldn’t risk a hospital birth in her time.  She couldn’t even make doctor’s appointments, dreading the eventual ultrasound.

    The moment they saw the child inside her, she would be in a lab until she gave birth.  From that point, they would likely take the child away to experiment on; liking using some chemical to either make her forget or drive her insane.  Just thinking about it made her shudder, a hand coming up to rest on her flat tummy.  While being a mother so young scared her, she already loved her little bean.  She would do anything to protect the growing dot and honestly looked forward to holding her child six months down the road.

    Scenting her distress, Sesshomaru let out a low rumble as he nuzzled her; descending slowly as they grew closer to their destination.  Instead of saying anything, he allowed his mixed youki to rub her skin in reassurance; glaring over the top of her head as they moved ever closer to the small box sticking out of the earth.  While he had no idea what scared her so much, he would do everything in his power to protect her from it.  Still, it was with great reluctance that he allowed her to move from his side to the strange portal.

    Just like before, it smelled of death as well as a strange magic; drawing a quiet growl from deep within him.  Keeping his focus on his expectant mate, the youkai walked toward the well.  Already, he could feel the beginnings of fear as well as a sense of loss.  It was as if he had failed without even trying yet and he clenched his fangs as he fought off the urge to let out another growl.  He was the Lord of the House of the Moon!  He would not be scared by some wooden box that had been planted in the ground by a ningen!  So, when his miko hopped through with a flash of purple, he followed without hesitation; not even bracing himself for impact with the hardened dirt at the bottom.

    For a few minutes, it felt like he was both upside down and rightside up at the same time.  He felt a strange pulling sensation on both his body and soul, feeling unpleasantly stretched as something seemed to be trying to anchor him to his time.  Snarling in defiance, the stubborn canine kept pushing forward while continuing to fall.  It was a strange paradox of gravity that made him feel sick.  Then he was through, the stench hitting him as soon as he felt the earth under his back.

    Stomach already uneasy from the strange trip, the Killing Perfection flipped onto all fours; his tail unwrapping from his shoulder to move out of the way as he started to wretch.  Due to not eating for several years, nothing came up but thick strings of drool; not making him feel any less humiliated by the betrayal of his body.  He was a noble, a being that was supposed be well above something as petty as vomiting.  Unfortunately, his ravaged body begged to differ; heaving for several minutes until it finally saw fit to settle.

    Hacking as defensive rumbles left him, Sesshomaru found himself simply unable to cope with the assault on his nose.  The stench he had smelled from the well seemed like bouquet of roses compared to this outright reek.  There were so many repulsive smells on top of one another that he wondered how his human could stand such a vile place.  Shuddering as he fought to cling to consciousness, the taiyoukai grabbed his mate’s waist; burrowing his nose into her stomach in an effort to drown out this world of rot with her sweet scent.

    Staring down at the shaking male, Kagome felt all her earlier fears and anger simply melt away for sympathy.  Being a full blooded youkai, it only made sense Sesshomaru would be more affected by the smells of her time than his half blooded brother.  Petting his head as he buried his face in her stomach, she wondered if there was anything she could do to help his transition.  The only thing that came to mind was vapo-rub under the nose, a solution she doubted highly would work for the dog in human form.  It would likely only be a thin veneer over the stench and would probably make things worse.

    Watching as the powerful male nuzzled her shirt, the highschooler was struck with a brilliant idea.  Fighting the urge to pet the top of his head and tell him things would be okay, she took hold of the left sleeve of her t-shirt and yanked; grimacing at the sound of tearing cotton.  It was loud enough, the distraught noble was looking up at her; his nose still safely hidden in her shirt.  “I had a thought.  Here, hold this against your nose.  It should help until we get you inside,” Kagome offered, giving him the sleeve she had ripped off.  Nodding in response, he took in a deep breath before straightening; pressing the material to his lower face.  Taking a cautious inhale, a tension went out of his body as his eyes widened in surprise.

    Ginning up at him, she took his hand in hers; pulling him behind her.  Exiting into the warmth and brightness of the sunshine, the teen took a moment to nod to her stunned Grandpa before continuing on her way.  All she could hope was that the old man wouldn’t start throwing his fake sutras at the intimidating demon she was leading behind her.  She somehow didn’t think the taiyoukai would see the humor in it.  As she entered the house, she realized a whole new set of problems.  This would be the first time her mother would be meeting the demon that had gotten her pregnant.   Not to mention her little brother as well a Buyo.  There was no telling how a true inu youkai like Sesshomaru would react to a cat.  “Kagome?  Honey, is that you?” called a matronly voice from the kitchen, making her heart freeze as apprehension filled her.

    “Y-yeah mom.  Uh, I brought company,” she replied, her pulse racing her ears while the Lord of the West lowered the bit of cloth against his face carefully.

    “Oh?  Well, its been a while since we’ve seen Inuyasha,” came the reply that made a cold sweat pop up over her skin.

    “I-its not Inuyasha mom,” Kagome corrected, giving a side glance to Sesshomaru as he began to actually sniff the air; seeming to enjoy what he was smelling.

    That response got her mother moving, the older woman walking to the open entry to see what was going on while wiping off her hands with a dishrag.  “I thought he was the only one who cou....,” the matron began, trailing off when she saw just who saw standing there.  Eyes that so matched her daughter’s looked over the form of the strange creature, pausing on his markings, armor, clothing and tail.

    “This is Inuyasha’s half brother, Sesshomaru,” the nervous girl introduced, a bit shocked when the arrogant, haughty youkai bowed to her mother.

    “Forgive this one for the manner of our introduction.  Had I the forethought, I would have asked you for the right to pursue your daughter.  As it is, this Sesshomaru can only humbly ask permission to continue to be by her side.  I will protect her and our child my life.  She will want for nothing,” he growled out, his speech making the stunned girl’s heart flutter.

    Even Mama Higurashi was a bit astonished, staring at him like he was from another planet.  A light pink coloring her cheeks, the housewife  cleared her throat before closing her eyes and taking a deep breath.  Giving the demon before her a glare that didn’t match the sparkle in her eyes, she cleared her throat before giving her best ‘take care of my little girl’ speech.  “Thank you for your apology mi’lord.  But I should be the one to bow to you.  Besides, Kagome must love you a lot to even consider having a child at her age.  While its normal in your time, girls here don’t get pregnant until they’re in their twenties or thirties.  I want you to take care of her and, if you’re still alive, come back too see us after the well closes in our time.  I want to know my new family,” she announced before giving the ‘Aristocratic Assassin’ a tight hug.

    “Thank you for making her smile again.  The light had been gone from her eyes for so long, we never thought it’d come back,” she continued, worried eyes travelling to her eldest child.  Kagome could only shift in embarrassment, rubbing the back of her head as she blushed.  She didn’t even have to ask to know her mother was talking about her former crush.

    “Hnnn,” rumbled the pure-blooded youkai, his brow darkening as he began to wonder just how terribly his own blood had treated the young priestess.

    Making a note to ask her later, he simply came into the small home; a massive curiosity filling him as he took in all the strange devices littering the oddly structured dwelling.  It was unlike any building he had seen, almost matching the palace nobles built for themselves while remaining humble.  Peeking into the kitchen briefly, the Lord was fascinated by the strange items he saw but merely continued onward.  As much as he wanted to investigate the room further, even showing an interest in cooking was far below his station.  He couldn’t afford to seem weak while in a new territory with his mate’s family.

    So, despite all the questions he longed to ask, the heir to the West moved up the small set of stairs; following Kagome’s scent to a strange looking door.  While made of wood like many in his own home, it had a strange, metal ball sticking out of it and wouldn’t slide to the side no matter how hard he tried.  Backing away to examine the entry, Sesshomaru was stunned when his human merely grinned up at him before turning the metal ball and pushing the wooden board inward.  Then she was leading him into what could only be her room, the scent of cherry blossoms so strong he thought he had walked into an orchard for a few moments.

    Watching the dog demon as he proceeded to poke and sniff all of her possessions, the sixteen year old couldn’t help but smile despite the fresh apprehension filling her.  He had only shown curiosity so far, making her feel just the slightest bit of tentative hope for what had to happen next.  She hoped to make a trip to her school today to get the trading of assignments done and over with.  If everything went well, they wouldn’t have to stay longer than today and some of tomorrow.  Her mother would no doubt not allow her just to run off after not seeing her so long.  Not to mention the fact the older woman probably had a lot of questions for the stoic taiyoukai.

    Sure enough, a half hour later and she found herself begging him to put on clothing that had once belonged to his father.  With his height, it had proven a lot harder to find something that would fit Sesshomaru.  Even most of the stuff that had belonged to her dad was a bit too short on him.  It was only after some thorough digging through all the clothes her mother had packed away that Kagome had finally found something, a suit that was too long for her patriarch.  They had meant to get it tailored but he had passed away before it could happen.  It was the only time the teen was grateful for his procrastination.

    Still, none of that had proven as much of a challenge as just getting the stubborn aristocrat to even look at the clothing.  All her explanations and logical arguments landed on deaf ears, the male before her simply refusing on the grounds that he would not wear ‘human clothing’.  Fighting her extreme urge to grit her teeth and stomp her feet like a spoiled child, Kagome plastered a sweet smile on her face.  A smile the inu before her was quickly beginning to learn meant trouble.  “All right, but if you don’t wear it that means you have to stay here while I make the trip.  I can’t have you starting a panic or drawing unnecessary attention.  Your hair and markings are bad enough,” she pointed out cheerfully, not at all intimidated by the growl that ripped out of the bristling demon.

    Moments later and they were walking down the street, a certain taiyoukai twitching every so often while he made displeased noises.  He was almost acting like a dog with a cone around its neck, making the time travelling miko giggle at the image that put in her head.  Sesshomaru was sitting on all fours, a disgruntled expression on his handsome face as a plastic cone encircled his neck.  Her brain even provided him scratching at the cone with his hind leg, only increasing her laughter.  This earned her the same look she had envisioned, nearly making her dissolve in hysterics.

    Pressing a scarf she had given him against the lower half of his face, Sesshomaru felt a strange mixture of annoyance and begrudging affection for his odd female.  She was unlike any ningen or youkai he had met before, utterly unafraid of him and willing to forget all the times he had tried to destroy her.  She treated everyone equally, adopting both the kit and Rin with relative ease.  Just thinking about how she would care for their own pup filled him with a foreign warmth.  Huffing slightly as he rolled his eyes at her antics, the Western Lord merely continued toward this place called ‘school’.

    As they walked, he found himself thinking about how quickly things had changed.  Not too long ago, he wouldn’t have even considered taking a human as a mate; let alone having a hanyou child.  Now he found himself feeling honest affection for a holy woman, was even protecting her and putting himself through unusual situations just to ensure her safety.  All too often, he now found himself in situations he had once considered below him and yet was undertaking with no complaint.  As much as he wanted to be enraged about all of this, he simply was unable to find the fire inside him to do so.  It certainly didn’t help that the miko seemed perfectly happy in this environment, not even blinking at the loud, metallic creatures that belched a stinking gas in their wake.

    Finally, he found himself in front of a building that stank of ningen reaching their hormonal peaks.  From what he had heard, this place was where people around his mate’s age came to learn several subjects; an idea entirely alien to him.  It was as if there were no caste system of any sort in this time, no lords or nobles.  Instead, most of the ningen seemed to exist in a strange, pseudo-equality.  There were still hints of the past here and there, evidenced by certain groups excluding others for not being the same but it was still different than anything he had known.

    The thing that probably disturbed him the most was the lack of any youkai scent.  He could even sense hidden youki, the implication disquieting him more than anything so far.  As his ebony haired bride walked ahead of him, he found himself hanging back.  Despite wanting to stay by her side, he found himself wanting to investigate what his nose and senses were telling him.  He needed to know if any of his kind existed here and he had a pretty good way to do so without being noticed.

    Before she had turned to face her school, Sesshomaru was right behind her.  When she looked back to see if he was still following her, he was gone.  Eyes widening as dull panic began to fill her, she used the reiki connected to his youki to sense his location.  She was only slightly relieved when she got a rush of reassurance through their bond.  Whatever he was doing, he would be back.  So, with a slight tinge of apprehension, she merely turned and went into her school.  As soon as she was inside, she was swarmed by her worried friends; making her forget her current problem for all of her new ones.

    After a marathon question answering session while making her way to her homeroom, Kagome finally managed to hand over her hard work.  When she was handed all the work she had to make up, she felt her heart drop as a sigh escaped her lips.  Thankfully, she had at least managed to placate her friends with a series of pretty lies so they wouldn’t attack her on her way back out the door.  In fact, they were under the impression she had left the jealous guy for someone so much better that they were gossiping about it when she had left them.  Shaking her head as she left the school, she felt immeasurable relief when she saw Sesshomaru waiting outside the gate; his scarf still wrapped around the lower half of his face.

    Sadness and disbelief weighed heavily on his heart as he waited for his young mate to close the distance between them.  As much as he hated to admit it, his kind didn’t seem to exist here.  He had even failed to find any sign of himself, only adding to his disquiet.  Looking down at the young girl who held his mark as she asked him where he had gone, he simply wrapped his arms around her; burrowing into the small crescent mark that graced where he had bitten her.  “I went to find the truth.  This Sesshomaru did not like what he found,” he confessed, leading her back the way they had come.

    As they walked, he couldn’t help but dwell on what he had learned; making a silent vow to take steps to rectify the extinction of his species as soon as they returned to the time he was from.  All he could do was hope the fact that he had sensed nothing today wasn’t a bad sign.  While he didn’t really know how all of this worked; he had a suspicion that if what he had done succeeded, he would have sensed something.  Still, he had to try; he saw little choice but to.  He certainly wasn’t willing to let all the youkai in the world go extinct.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Fourth Month~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

    The rest of the visit had gone surprisingly well, her mom accepting Sesshomaru without batting an eye.  Souta had been more excited than anything, bombarding the quiet male with question after question about youkai and inu in general.  Her grandfather had been a whole other story, slapping a fake sutra over the taiyoukai’s crescent marking with a yell.  The Killing Perfection had, thankfully, taken it in stride; removing the strip of paper with a stone-faced expression.  They had left soon after that, the powerful male anxious to be reunited with his daughter.  There was also the fact that he just seemed to want to get back to his time as soon as possible, pulling her to the well in the middle of saying her farewells.

    Taking her into his arms, he had simply jumped into the wooden structure; seeming to have an easier time on his second time through.  At least he didn’t get sick like the first time, seeming to have no more ill effects than he would from walking across a room.  Then he was vaulting out of the well with her still in his arms, flying off into the air before the rest of her pack even knew what was going on.  It didn’t take long for him to figure out he had left everyone behind, however, and he stopped long enough for the rest of the group to catch up.  At that moment, they had both come to an important conclusion.  For better or for worse, Sesshomaru had adopted her pack as his own.  An outcome Kagome doubted the inu had in mind when he deposed Inuyasha of the position.

    The strangest part of all of it was that the ragtag group was growing accustomed to it.  Over the months, everyone in the travelling party was trusting Sesshomaru with more and more.  To the point that it became apparent they now trusted him as much as they did their former leader.  He had yet to lead them into danger, going out of his way to make sure they were safe.  There was also the way he treated the children, allowing them to clamber over over him how they pleased.  He’d even started to teach Shippo some of the finer points of being a youkai, including how to use some of his powers.

    He’d even allowed her to continue hunting shards as she entered into her fourth month.  Looking around the group as they settled around the fire for the night, Kagome was honestly stunned about how comfortable everything felt.  It was as if he had always been a part of them, Even Inuyasha had stopped trying to pick fights; simply sticking to his normal brand of good natured bad-mouthing.  Even now, the hanyou was perched on a branch to watch for intruders.  All was as peaceful as it could possibly be, meaning it would be the perfect time to talk to her friend about her previous incarnation.

    Making sure Sesshomaru was still buried under both Shippo and Rin, the time travelling teen wandered over to the tree her former crush was currently perched on.  “Hey, ‘Yasha can I talk to you?” she whispered, smiling as his honey colored eyes focused on her.

    “Of course Kagome.  Is something wrong?  Is shit head still treatin’ ya alright?  Cause if he ain’t I can always...,” the enthusiastic half inu began, hopping off his branch to give his distracted half sibling a withering glare.

    “No, no!  Its nothing like that!  Sesshomaru has been surprisingly sweet,” she reassured rapidly, feeling a slight bit of amusement at the disgusted expression that came over her friend’s face.

    “Ugh, stop right there.  Just thinking about the asshole being nice is enough to make me feel like I’m going insane.  So, what is it?” he deflected, waving his hands in the air to stop any further conversation.
    “W-well, I was wondering why you haven’t brought Kikyo into the pack yet.  Its been a few months now and...,” she began, stopping when she saw the dog eared boy grow more and more uncomfortable the longer she went on.

    Shooting a glance to his half brother and getting a subtle nod, Inuyasha flattened his ears against his head.  “Let’s... go for a walk...,” he requested, shuffling in place as he waited for her answer.  The stunned girl could only nod, her heart sinking slightly as she followed the crimson clad hanyou into the woods that surrounded their camp.  Picking a trail that ringed the camp while remaining close, he began to walk; staring at the sky as an unfathomable pain welled in his golden eyes.

    “I tried...  She... she ain’t the same woman I remember.  She has so much hate in her scent, so much ill intent...  To mate her would be like an abomination to the woman she used to be.  She... she tried to get me to give her the shards you had by using my affection for her.  For the first time since she was brought back, I saw what others were saying when they told me she wasn’t Kikyo.  The Kikyo I fell in love with is gone,” he confessed, stopping in his tracks to lower his head so his bangs hid his face; his shoulders shaking as he turned his back toward Kagome.

    Watching her macho friend seem to cry, Kagome felt her heart ache for him.  She had figured out long ago the golem that held part of her soul wasn’t even close to being Kikyo reborn.  Her actions while she’d had the pieces had been more than enough proof of that.  Still, the teen had hoped there was still a little of her incarnation inside the clay doll.  At least enough to fight off the rising hate and bitterness from all Kikyo had been robbed of in life.  Even when the undead miko had taken some shards for Naraku, the sixteen year old had clung onto the notion the husk of her former self was playing some kind of angle.  “I... I’m sorry,” she whispered, wrapping her arms around him in a loose hug as she placed a cheek against the rough fur covering his broad back.

    The hanyou only turned his head slightly before seeming to sag, his hands coming up to cover hers as his ears flattened against his skull.  “You ain’t got nothing to apologize for...  You tried to warn me.  Everyone did...  I just... I just couldn’t bring myself to believe that Kikyo was really gone.  If I had realized the truth sooner...,” he mumbled, grimacing as he turned to look at the woman behind him.  Kagome could only lick her lips nervously as a feeling of apprehension began to fill her.  This only intensified when his amber eyes travelled to the subtle bump of her stomach.

    “This pup would have been mine...  You would have been mine...  Instead I...  Heh, never thought I’d see the day where I actually envied the asshole...  He better take good care of ya and that pup,” Inuyasha continued, a faint chill coming into the air as a familiar youki filled the atmosphere around the pair.

    Rolling his eyes at the clear warning, the half inu shot a glare over the top of Kagome’s head before returning his focus to her.  “I’ll always be there for ya both.  Even after we get all of this settled with Naraku,” he continued, placing a kiss on her forehead before steering her back toward the camp.

    “And I don’t care what shithead thinks about it,” grumbled in her ear, likely in response to stinging caused by the swirling aura sent out by his half sibling.

    Sighing and rolling her eyes at the antics of the pair, she gave her glowering mate a pleading look as soon as they stepped back into the camp.  Narrowing his eyes, the taiyoukai simply turned his back on the pair and went into the forest.  Figuring that was as close to actual acquiescence as she could get, Kagome heaved a long suffering sigh before plopping in front of the fire; next to a smiling Rin.  “Rin, honey, be grateful your boy problems haven’t even begun,” the teen lamented, ruffling the confused child’s hair with a small smile.

    Huffing softly as he stopped a few feet away from his pack, Sesshomaru raised his eyes to the stars above him.  He was convinced his old man was laughing at him somewhere up there.  Especially after their final conversation just before his father had gone off to save Izayoi.  As much as he wanted to leave the small group for a while, he couldn’t.  He now valued them on the same level as his mate, taking his responsibility of keeping them safe very seriously.

Not only were these beings tolerable but he actually found himself enjoying their company more often than not.  The slayer’s antics with her monk were always amusing and watching his adopted pups bonding was an experience he found himself not wanting to miss.  Even being around his half brother wasn’t as tedious as he thought it would be.  To his surprise, he was beginning to feel a kinship with the mongrel.  All too often, their small fights felt more like two brothers simply giving eachother a hard time.  There was no true seriousness behind their words or their actions toward one another anymore.

    On top of all of this was his pregnant mate.  Just the thought of her being alone was enough to set his teeth on edge.  He needed to be near her.  So he found himself sniffing along the outskirts of the camp for prey, inwardly annoyed at his own reluctance.  Still, he found it hard to argue with the part of his soul that seemed almost scared for her.  The part of him that he was beginning to remember more and more.  A part of him that he was starting to dream about.

    Dreams that involved heartache and the scent of sakura tainted by blood as well as madness.  Dreams filled with the stink of acid as a lonesome howl shattered the sky.  Dreams about a priestess that looked so much like his Kagome but held much more wisdom as well as sadness.  Just thinking about it made his fur stand on end and his beast rise dangerously close to the surface.  Gritting his teeth as he fought against his urge to just go back, he lifted his nose to sniff for nearby deer.  A familiar, dusty musk graced his senses, effectively distracting him with a deep, ravenous hunger.  Sparing a last glance toward the light of the fire, the mighty demon slipped off into the forest for his dinner.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Fifth Month~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

    Flashes of a past she had never lived haunted her for weeks, a fact she had tried to hide as long as she could.  Unfortunately, it had begun to affect her ability to shard hunt and she had started leading them in the wrong direction.  It was so bad, she could barely keep her eyes open even when under attack.  So, as much as she hated to admit it, she wasn’t too surprised when both Inuyasha and Sesshomaru insisted they stop travelling to allow her to rest.  Though the two brothers were split on where said relaxation would occur.

    While the hanyou wanted her to go back to her time alone for a few days, Sesshomaru wouldn’t even hear of the idea.  The closest thing to a compromise the Western Lord could manage was proposing she stay in Kaede’s village, a suggestion the worn out sixteen year old had leapt at.  The strange dreams she was having were exhausting her mentally as well as physically.  It was like Midoriko was trying to tell her something and it was important.  She just wished she knew what it was so it would stop slowly driving her crazy.  The worst part was, it looked like Sesshomaru was being effected.  Just lately, the aristocrat seemed almost worn out himself; dark circles surrounding his glowing eyes.

    Elsewhere, a pair of hollow, brown eyes stared up at a miasma surrounded palace.  The smell of the poison thick in the air would be enough to churn even the strongest of stomachs but the woman standing in front of the looming doors seemed to take no notice.  Not even when a gust of strong wind whipped a good whiff of the shit straight into her nostrils.  “My, my.  Seems Naraku’s little toy has come back,” purred a husky female voice that seemed to be carried on the breeze, a demoness appearing above her on a giant feather.

    “Is he here or isn’t he?” came the brisque response, the voice coming out of the golem just as dead as her eyes.  The wind youkai merely rolled her dark pink eyes before slowly landing beside the clay doll that was known as Kikyo.

    “Yeah, he’s been waiting for you.  Don’t see how you can stand being around him.  What with him being the one who basically tore you and Inuyasha apart,” sighed the ebony haired creature, returning the feather she had been riding on to her tresses.

    “I no longer care about any of that.  I care about nothing, can feel nothing.  For the first few months after this soul entered this vessel, I could feel.  Yet, as I am dead, it soon became clear what I was experiencing was nothing more than a mere shadow of what humans feel.  All I want is all of this to end, I don’t care how,” sighed the husk, a lone tear rolling out of her dead eyes.

    If she had been in a different position, Kagura would have felt some sympathy for the resurrected miko.  As it was, she could only feel a dim sort of disgust due to the fact her ‘father’ currently had hold of her heart.  Just thinking about it made her grimace, a hand coming up to rub where a beat should be.  “You’re not the only one longing for an end...,” she murmured, her pink highlighted eyes narrowing as the double doors flew open.  Kikyo didn’t seem to hear, walking toward an unseen presence that let out a low rumble of satisfaction.

    “I trust you bring good news my dear Kikyo,” purred a loathsome slither of a voice, the sound of it making Kagura shudder in disgust.

    Kagome shot up into a sitting position, her eyes staring blindly into the darkness of the hut Kaede had let her borrow.  Panting harshly, she jolted slightly when something soft and furry wrapped around her.  “Shhhhh, this Sesshomaru is here,” rumbled a soft baritone, filling her with a sense of comfort as the faint smell of musk filled her nose.  Whimpering, she turned in to the larger demon; not caring about the fact that he was as naked as the day he was born.  Visions of what she had dreamt still filled her head.

    She had been Midoriko, her furthest past life.  She had been nestled in the arms of someone safe, of someone that held immense power.  The person held a scent that was achingly familiar.  She was happy, her partner cradling her as if she was his greatest treasure.  Yet there was a tension, a faint feeling of doom as clawed hands rested on top of a domed stomach.  Then there was the sound of rushing feet and loud voices, a deep baritone commanding she stay where she was while the male holding her released her to get to his feet.  Then a blur of silver, white, and magenta; orbs made out of deepest honey locking on her.  Screams for him to stay clogged in her throat as the body she inhabited merely nodded despite her heart racing in her chest.

    That had been when Sesshomaru had awoken her, leaving her to wonder what all of it meant.  Why did the youkai feel so familiar to her?  Why was she reminded of the noble who was currently nestling the marking on her neck?  A marking that now looked more like a moon tattoo than a bite scar.  Why did it feel like she wasn’t the only one who had seen the vision?  “Sessho... did you see...  It... it feels like...,” she murmured, hating how ridiculous it all sounded.

    “Yes... I have been having the same dreams.  They are memories of the past...  Our past...  Who we were together...,” husked a sleep worn voice, fangs gently prickling her neck and drawing a groan from her lips.

    “Do you... do you think that we’re...,” she whispered, her voice small as a feeling of astonishment began to come over her.

    The scent of her sakura became much clearer, almost sharp as his mate finally began to comprehend what was happening.  What had been happening from the beginning.  Their souls were drawn to eachother, effectively forcing them into this odd situation.  Yet, as much as it should rankle him that fate had stolen their choice, he found himself actually happy.  It was as if he had found a missing piece of himself, a part that had been lost for far too long.  “Yes... we are soulmates Kagome.  I have been drawn to you since that first meeting in the hot spring,” he confessed, not liking the sharp, salty smell of her sadness mixed with the muddy smell of confusion.

    Then she was pulling away from him, curling upon the dome of her stomach in the gloom.  “S-so what does this mean?  Do you have any affection of your own for me or was it all just brought on by your subconscious memories of our past lives?” whispered her soft voice, a hint of betrayal edging into her tone.  Sesshomaru was there in an instant, wrapping her into his arms despite her doing her best to ward him off.  The more she squirmed, the tighter the hold became; the youkai letting out a quiet growl in an effort to get her to sit still.

    “The innate connection between our souls was part of it but there is so much more.  You are a strong woman, capable of so much more than an ordinary ningen.  You’re kind to a fault, often putting others before yourself.  I have seen you do many great things, learned more about you than I would have any demoness.  I have come to love you over our time together, something I couldn’t say about any of the courtesans my mother was flinging at me,” he reassured, a bit surprised he had meant every word.

    Smelling a hint of bright surprise in the sea of salty sadness, Sesshomaru allowed himself to grin as his grip around her softened.  “Inu youkai...  Mating for love in our society is almost unheard of.  Especially within the noble class.  Knowing very little or not even wishing to be around the one you are mated to is fairly common.  In most cases, it is mere instinct that keeps couples together.  Being around you, learning about you, enjoying your presence; all these are things others of my kind would not receive,” he explained, allowing a deep purr to bubble free of him as he continued to nuzzle his mark.

    “You mean, only lower inu youkai are allowed to find real love?  That, if it weren’t for our buried memories, you would have been in a hollow relationship?” whispered a voice teetering on the edge of sorrow as the small human he held wrapped her arms around him in a misguided attempt to offer comfort.

    Inwardly amused at her compassion, Sesshomaru simply allowed it; nosing into her chocolate colored locks and inhaling deeply.  There was nothing for her to feel guilty about.  How would he have even known what he would have been missing if he had never met her?  It wasn’t as if he expected more out of being mated to whichever female his mother would have inevitably chosen.  There was no point in feeling sad or robbed by such an occurrence.  “Do not mourn for what does not matter,” he sighed, not too surprised when his human’s sorrow only increased.  She was a ningen, much more in touch with her feelings than youkai normally were.

    Purring louder, the powerful assassin extended his senses to be sure no one was near before giving his mate’s cheek a lick; savoring the taste of her tears on some primal level.  As a demon, suffering of others held a strange fascination for him.  While he fought against this innate part of his nature, there were far too many others that took true joy in causing said strife.  In fact, he wouldn’t be surprised if that was the reason for lack of demons in the future.  “Oh Sessho...  I just can’t wrap my head around your logic.  Even your half brother longs for a real relationship, to share his hopes and dreams with someone he truly trusts,” a soft voice pointed out, drawing him out of his strange thoughts to focus on the girl in his arms.

    Kagome could only look up at where she thought the taiyoukai’s face was, her poor night vision making it hard to see more than shadows.  Despite how truly blasé the male sounded about his situation, she couldn’t help but feel sad.  The only reason the youkai trying to comfort her didn’t feel robbed was he didn’t expect any better.  Him mating her had been a very spur of the moment action and likely wouldn’t have happened if she hadn’t been around him while on her period.  The thing that really struck her was just how calmly he was accepting something that went against everything he had been taught.  He almost seemed content, something she doubted he would have been with a Lady from another clan.  A fact she doubted the arrogant creature fully recognized.

    Sighing as she rested her cheek on his bare chest, she merely shook her head as callused hands moved over her delicate skin.  She could continue to waste her breath on something the male was destined to never understand or she could simply accept the fact that this was just the way things were.  Maybe, over their long life together, he would gradually begin to realize just why she felt so much sympathy for youkai in his position.  As it was, all she wanted to do was resolve what was going on with their past lives.

    While she agreed that there was more than their subconscious memories keeping them together, the sixteen year old found herself wanting to know for sure.  After her experience with Inuyasha, she had a reasonable fear about interference from past lives.  She needed to know that the feelings she had were her own and not just Midoriko’s.  Not just for herself but for the child she carried and the dog demon doing his best to lure her back to sleep with low rumbles and gentle licks.  So, with a gentle kiss under her mate’s neck, the schoolgirl allowed herself to go back to sleep; hoping she might be able to talk to her past self in her dreams.

    Gradually, oh so gradually, endless blackness turned into a misty pink.  A pink that swirled around her body to form a fog that held the scent of cherry blossoms.  “Welcome child.  It has been a long time since we have spoken.  You have so many questions, so many worries,” whispered a voice that sounded so much like hers.  Yet it was older, a touch raspier and held a depth of sadness the teen couldn’t even begin to fathom.

    “Y-yes!  After what happened with Kikyo, I need to know..,” began her own voice, sounding echoey and distant in the massive chamber.

    “I know.  I am you after all.  And yet... I am not.  I can understand your concerns as well as thirst for the truth.  Yet, to do so, you must remember your own past.  You must remember just who Sesshomaru used to be to us and why he will continue to be so,” sighed the voice from before, the pink mist swirling to form a pseudo window.  Inside the window, a sepia toned movie began to play.  Walking forward, Kagome felt her reality tilt forward as she fell into the past.

    At first, it felt like she was suspended in mid-air; neither floating or falling.  Then the wooden floor of a feudal shrine came rushing up at her and she was hitting it with a sound ‘smack’.  Groaning as she slowly pulled herself up, Kagome felt her jaw dropping open as she took in a scene that looked like it could be a memory from the future rather than the past.  There, in the arms of a being that looked far too much like Sesshomaru, sat an older priestess that was her mirror.  The hairstyle was different and the features held an inner wisdom and calm she could only hope for, but the woman looked exactly like her.  Even more so than Kikyo ever had.

    Holding her head as she tried to wrap her mind around what she was seeing, brown eyes travelled to a swelled belly and she felt dizzy.  Midoriko was heavily pregnant; a serene, yet worried expression on her young face.  In fact, the miko looked only a couple years older than she was currently; a wisdom beyond her years in chocolate colored eyes.  “They’ll be coming soon Noriyasu.  Coming to stop the birth of our baby.  Soon, one or both of us will be dead and a half truth legend will be spawned in our wake,” whispered a voice so like her own.

    A low growl was the response, a thick aura filling the room and making Kagome shudder.  It felt just like youki and yet it was mixed with holy energy, very similar to what was happening now with Sesshomaru.  “I will not allow any of them to lay a finger on you.  You will both be safe, even if I have to lay down my own life to assure this,” rumbled a deep, animalistic voice, holding a deep rasp that made goosebumps cover the teen’s skin.  Midoriko could only smile sadly, her eyes travelling to where Kagome stood.  This made the schoolgirl jolt slightly, feeling like her past self could see her despite that not being possible.

    As if to solidify this assumption, the shadow of the past gave her a sad smile.  It was then the door to the chamber was thrown open, a panting guard standing in the entry with wild eyes.  “Mi’lady, mi’lord... the villagers... they’re...,” he began, interrupted by loud yells that came from the courtyard.  Instead of answering, the dog demon was on his feet; heading toward the guard to walk with him out to the courtyard.  Midoriko could only watch, looking like she very much wanted to stop the youkai.  Instead, she merely gave her male a nod of consent when he turned to spare her one last glance.  Heaving a sigh as he left the room, the priestess looked skyward as she closed her eyes and began to pray out loud.

    “I know what we have done is considered the highest sin but I will never ask forgiveness for the fault of finding love where there should only be hate.  All I ask is that the vision you gave me was false.  I do not want to lose both in the same day,” she whispered, tears streaming down her pale face as her shoulders shook.

    Suddenly the scene changed to outside, obviously some time later given the dead bodies and how exhausted and battered Noriyasu looked.  Platinum locks hung in his pale, blood coated face.  His eyes were feral and on the edge of madness as he bared his sharp fangs at the oncoming wave of warriors the villagers had hired to ‘kill the demon corrupting their miko’.  Claws were fully unsheathed and the green stripes on his high cheekbones were now jagged as he bordered on changing into his true form.  He had lost a lot of blood and his left arm was hanging uselessly by his side, mirroring an event that would happen to his reincarnation in the future.

    Watching as the gruesome scene unfolded before her, Kagome felt her heart sink into the pit of her stomach as a hollow sore began to form in the center of her chest.  As much as she wanted to rush forward to protect this creature from the rush of humanity charging him, there was nothing she could do.  This was nothing more than a past that had already happened and she was a mere ghost witnessing it.  Still, none of this stopped her from hollering out to the youkai to stop as his youki began to swirl around him; signaling his imminent transformation.

    For just a second, the demonic Lord tilted his glance toward where she was.  Then he was swallowed up by a pink tinged energy that would have normally been pure white.  With a silent explosion of air, the cloud grew and dissipated to reveal a massive, horrifying looking dog.  Wide, wild eyes stared down at the humans now backing away, its floppy ears tilting back as the fur around its neck stood on end.  Letting out a roar that shook the earth and threatened to shatter eardrums, the beast shot forward with murder in it blazing gaze.

    Unfortunately, the warriors appeared to have knowledge of demon slaying.  Other than backing away, they showed no fear.  In fact, the leader wordlessly coordinated his men to scatter around the berserk canid.  Then, with a wave of his hand, he called his men to reach into their shirts for what Kagome could only assume was a poison bomb.  Swallowing the sick feeling forming inside her, the young girl placed a hand on her own rounded stomach as tears flowed freely from her eyes.  Still, she watched; knowing that this was the whole reason she was here.  To learn what had happened in her original life and how it was affecting her current life.

    Yet, as a poisonous miasma exploded around the towering creature, it was all she could do to keep what she had eaten earlier where it was.  The howl the youkai let out also didn’t help, full of an agony she couldn’t comprehend.  Immediately, the white canine staggered; coughing as blood began to pour out of its mouth.  Shuddering as it sank briefly, the noble being closed one eye before standing tall and letting out a howl that nearly brought down the very sky itself.  A vocalization that told everyone he intended to take as many as could with him.  Then he was plunging his claws into the soil below him, an acidic, green substance bubbling forth within seconds.

    Watching in horrified fascination, Kagome observed the substance melt a samurai in seconds from the feet up.  The man was alive and screaming until his vocal cords had been dissolved, his face still showing his agony up until the end.  The taiyoukai that had called forth the gunk wasn’t unaffected, his own body beginning to melt away much more slowly than the human caught in the noxious puddle.  Letting out a soft snarling sound that resembled a dog trying to laugh, the terribly beautiful canid fell to his knees; splashing his own poison onto his shimmering, white body.  Huffing out what looked like a defeated sigh, the canine that was Noriyasu tilted his head back to let out one last, mournful sounding howl.

    With a whirling motion that made the sixteen year old feel dizzy, the scene changed back to Midoriko.  Comprehension was all over her beautiful visage, her eyes wide as her hands cradled her large belly.  “Please, kami no...,  n-not now,” she breathed, her voice breaking as her expression twisted into terror filled pain.  Then the scene slowly began to go black, blood spreading out from under the miko’s robes as she began to call for help.  Help that would never come.

    As the blackness began to part, Kagome was greeted with the sight of a hollowed out Midoriko giving service to some sick villagers.  All spoke of her kindness and her capacity for just giving everything she was.  Yet, there were some whispers, whispers that made the sixteen year old feel sick at heart.  Whispers of how it was fortunate she had been broken free of ‘that demon’s spell’ before she had given birth to an ‘abomination’.  Whispers the broken woman undoubtedly heard, a hand going to a her flat stomach; as if to comfort a child that was no longer there.

    Then she was getting to her feet, wandering out of the village as reality rippled and shifted to even further in the future.  They were inside a cave now, the previous version of herself seeming to meditate as demons threw themselves against a barrier she had built.  Opening her tired eyes as a sheen of sweat coated a sickly brow, Midoriko held out her palms while a small, pink light formed inside them.  “I knew just making the jewel could draw demons to me but I didn’t care.  I could feel myself dying without him and I wanted to do one last thing for him before I died.  For us both.  I wanted to make a heaven for us both, somewhere we wouldn’t be separated due to our souls being polar opposites,” sighed a voice in Kagome’s ear as she watched the Shikon Jewel slowly form.

    With a flash of blinding pink, the small trinket settled into the exhausted miko’s hands as all the life seemed to drain out of her.  Her once pink skin was now gray and dull looking, her shiny hair hanging like a limp wig as she seemed to slump.  All at once, the barrier protecting her was gone; allowing the flood of demons waiting just outside to rush in.  The first to grab her was a serpent youkai, the others coiling around it in an effort to stop it from eating the jewel that had called them like a siren’s song.  The half swallowed holy woman only smiled before letting out a breath, forcing her soul into the jewel.  Unfortunately, due to her tenuous control over her powers, the youkai were caught and pulled in with her; freezing their corpses in place as the souls inside began their eternal battle over the object’s polarity.

    Kagome jolted awake, a foreign name dancing on her tongue as her eyes stared into the darkness.  A soft rumble from behind her only set her off, the floodgate yawning open as she turned to sob in a muscled chest.  A chest that was inhumanly warm.  Callused, claw tipped fingers rested on her back as a nose nudged the top of her head, a soft, worried noise escaping the normally emotionless creature holding her.  “I know Kagome...  I saw it too but it changes nothing.  It is merely a chapter in our lives that has long since passed.  At least our souls found eachother in the end,” assured a deep baritone from above her, holding just a hint of emotion.

    His mate merely shook her head, the salt of her memories nearly choking him as his own tears struggled to surface.  He remembered more than the images themselves.  He could feel the emotions involved, his heart nearly breaking by the time it all ended.  He had loved the woman Kagome had once been very deeply.  So deeply his soul felt compelled to reincarnate until he found her.  With this in mind, it was no wonder the very thought of mating anyone before he had met her had turned his stomach.  Just thinking about it had made him feel like killing something and was one of the reasons why he was away from his lands so often.

    Huffing as his brow crinkled, he found himself actually thinking about his mate’s very human ideals about relationships.  Maybe the way his kind had been going about it was wrong.  Maybe just mating for position and family wasn’t as fulfilling as he had once believed.  Maybe just instinct wasn’t enough to make either party truly happy.  Maybe actually feeling a connection to your mate was the right way after all.  Licking some of the tears from his miko’s cheeks, Sesshomaru allowed his mind to wander as the night wore on.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Sixth Month~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

    A purple clad figure watched the small group gather the pieces of his broken jewel, a sickly pale hand moving through ebony locks as a sneer curled purple tinged lips.  Dark purple eyes narrowed as he picked up one of the crystal slivers the golem at his feet had brought him.  As much as he wanted to act now, he resolved himself to wait.  Things would be so much more entertaining the closer he struck to the miko’s birth date.  Still, he could only be idle for so long.  Next month was the latest he was forcing himself to wait til.

    Gritting his teeth as he fisted his hand in the clay doll’s hair, Naraku took some pleasure in the faint sound of phantom pain from the figure.  The thing may look and sound like Kikyo but it was only some sick re-creation.  An unholy thing that held a languishing piece of soul trapped inside its earthen body.  An abomination that preyed on the souls of the dead to prolong its own, tortured existence.  He couldn’t even say if the thing had any actual feelings or not.  Still, it was warm and moist where it counted; looking enough like the fallen priestess he had lusted over to allow himself to relieve his sexual tension.

    He had tried to find pleasure in other women before, Kagura being his first and only experiment.  The wind youkai had been a newborn, barely conscious and still covered with fluid from her strange birth.  Pink, empty eyes landed on him, bangs like Kikyo’s framing the wide, innocent orbs.  Kneeling before the fully grown woman he had created, Naraku found himself overcome by the resemblance to the miko that had created him.  In a swift motion, he had pulled down his hakama to shove his hard, aching organ into a warm mouth.

    As soon as his turgid flesh had touched her tongue, it had gone limp; his burning passion turning into a sickening guilt.  Pulling free of his ‘daughter’ the hanyou redressed himself as comprehension finally began to show in her orbs.  Even now he still wasn’t sure if she remembered what he had done but sometimes, when she thought he wasn’t paying attention, she would give him a hate filled glare that filled him with suspicion that she did.

    **Growling as he looked down at the paltry copy of the woman who controlled far too many of his emotions, Naraku found himself reluctantly grateful for the fact that his ‘affliction’ didn’t go as deep as to require consent.  He hated this poor creature for entrapping him as tightly as he was.  So he took pleasure in fucking the shade of his miko as roughly as he could.  Even now, he was pulling the golem up by her surprisingly real hair; sneering at her blank face as he untied his obi.  Reaching into his baggy, violet colored hakama, he grasped his hardened member; poking the rigid flesh through the small opening.

    Lowering her head down to his erection, the half kumo tilted his head back as his eyes fluttered closed.  Warm, wet mouth surrounded his aching flesh, a faraway sound of gagging filling his ears as he moved her up and down on his shaft.  “You deserve every bit of this pain.  For putting me through what you have,” he hissed, his muscles tensing as the sound of sucking fills the chamber.  He is coming close to his end far too fast and he grits his teeth as he pulls free to shoot his load over a face that has haunted many a dream.

    Not quite done with her, the enraged hanyou pulled the former miko to her feet; positioning her exposed slit over his softening manhood.  Since she had arrived, he had forbidden her any form of covering over her feminine parts.  He wanted her open to him at all times, a fact the earthen creation hadn’t objected to.  Even now, as he was sliding his half flaccid sword into her sheath, she simply looked down at him with maddeningly dead eyes.  Snarling, he shoved her head down onto his shoulder as he began to thrust; the feeling of her walls around him only partially satisfying.**

    Kagome shuddered as she felt a pair of malicious eyes slide over her skin.  Looking up at the sky as she stopped, she placed a protective hand on the swell of her womb.  At six months pregnant, it was now extremely difficult to travel.  As such, the time hopping teen had begrudgingly accepted a hut that had long been abandoned.  A fact even Inuyasha didn’t argue against.  Instead, the normally vocal half-breed had seemed almost relieved she had consented to stay; glaring at the others if they so much as mentioned the word ‘jewel’ around her.  Only her own mate seemed neutral on the matter, expressing the opinion she would be safe as long as she was with him so she could do as she pleased.

    Sighing as a prickle of reiki tainted youki touched her arms, the teen sighed as she allowed her gaze to travel to the taiyoukai who was her constant companion.  Despite an outward appearance of aloofness, Sesshomaru was protective to a fault; making sure to stay near her even though he was out of sight.  At least he wasn’t clinging to her like in her earlier months.  In fact, sharing the memory of their past lives had seemed to calm him.  He almost seemed at peace, the warmth in his eyes growing steadily deeper as time went on.  It almost seemed like he was legitimately falling in love with her, a fact that made her feel warm on the inside as well as a little nervous.

    Over their months together, she learned a lot about the dog that was her mate.  His character, while a bit abrasive, was fairly strong and held good morals.  As such, she could also feel herself falling deeper for this youkai; a being she would be with for as long as they both continued to exist.  If their circumstances had been normal, the taiyoukai would have likely courted her over a long period of time.  As it was now, it was like reality was trying to catch up to where they now found themselves.  All the things that should have happened before the mating where happening now and the teen found herself more than a little amused.

    Watching a cool being like Sesshomaru learn what true love was an interesting as well as heartwarming experience.  It seemed to color his everyday actions, especially with the children.  Overall, he seemed more patient; even caring.  All too often, he was actually playing with Shippo and Rin; allowing the kit to practice magic on him while the small girl adorned him with countless flower wreaths.  It made her almost look forward to their own child.  With the way the taiyoukai was acting, he would be putty in the pup’s tiny claws.  While he certainly loved both the kitsune and his adopted daughter, this child would be his own blood; undoubtedly unlocking instincts he didn’t know he had.

    Giving a smile to the trees that no doubt hid the male stalking her, Kagome made her way to Goshinboku.  Visiting the ancient tree helped her stay calm despite her urge to move as well as gave her a sense of peace overall.  Despite knowing it was best she stop now, especially with the shards being further and further away from Kaede’s village, the young miko couldn’t help but feel antsy at just how long she would be forced to be idle.  In the time it would take for her to give birth, Naraku could likely get his hands on all the pieces she had missed.  This would put the hated hanyou at an advantage.

    As he watched his mate make her way to the sacred tree his brother had been pinned to, Sesshomaru could smell each emotion as she felt it.  Confusion, frustration, anxiety and contentment.  Quite a heady mix for inu youkai but, as her other half, the taiyoukai found himself especially affected.  He both wanted to whisk her into his arms for some time away from both their pack as well as their children and just pin her against a tree to show her with fang and claw just who she belonged to.  Snorting out the thick mixture in his nose, the western lord shook his head as he forced himself to focus.

    As the son of the house of the moon, he was above such base urges.  Besides, his human deserved better.  Over the past few months, she had proven her worth as his companion and their pasts together had nothing to do with it.  While the knowledge made him feel whole in a way, his past wasn’t him.  Up until he had mated Kagome, he had lived life on his own terms.  While he would never regret mating the young girl, he would forever hate the fact their mating was so rushed.  Looking back on how things played out and adding it to how he felt about her now, he wished for more time to actually allow all of this to occur before he had marked her.

    Yet, as much as he hated to admit it, he knew it wouldn’t have happened that way.  Even with their past lives out of the picture, he was unlikely to have developed such deep feelings for the ningen before he had taken her as his own.  His upbringing ran far too deep in his psychology, making any form of romance seem superfluous to the canid.  As things stood now, he could make up for all of it.  He could allow his walls to fully come down, to woo the time travelling priestess.  He could show her just how much he cared about her, just how far he would go to see a smile on her face.

    No matter how long he lived, he doubted he would get past the irony of everything that happened.  Yet, he felt almost blessed as he watched the sun dance off her ebony hair; one of her hands almost constantly resting on the highest point of her domed belly.  Just seeing her so laden with his child filled him with urges that were nigh impossible to deny.  Not to mention her scent, the aroma rolling off her becoming almost like an aphrodisiac the further she progressed.  Lately, all he wanted to do was have his way with her as often as possible against as many surfaces they could find.  He wanted to taste her skin, her sweat, her blood as he took his pleasure from her, their pup moving under his hands as she wailed his name to the heavens.

    It was only his ignorance on pregnancy that kept him from acting.  As much as it galled him, Sesshomaru had made no effort to gain any knowledge on the subject.  He had deemed it something only women and midwives should know, a fact he was frustrated at himself for now.  Because of his arrogance, he was now unsure if having sex with her at this stage of pregnancy would be dangerous for her or their pup.  Not only that, but he found himself reluctant to expose his defect to her by asking.  He had no doubt she would have the answer he sought but some part of him didn’t want his mate to see him as anything less than perfect.

    Leaning her head against the rough bark of the ancient tree, Kagome smiled up at the sunlight dappling through the leaves.  A particularly large spot was centered on her swollen tummy, as if the ancient foliage was celebrating her condition.  Sighing softly as she closed her eyes, she silently gave in to something only she knew; her form slumping as her grin held a defeated tinge.  “Alright Seshho, I know you’re there.  Might as well enjoy eachother’s company,” she called, not surprised when her mate was by her side as soon as she finished speaking.

    A low rumble that vibrated the ground was his only verbal response, his body language abnormally tense as his eyes went from her face to her large dome and back again.  It was almost as if he wanted to ask her something but was too shy to do so, an idea that charmed her as much as it amused her.  What would a nobleman like Sesshomaru possibly be too ashamed to ask her?  Inwardly rolling her eyes at her own thoughts, Kagome simply leaned into the reticent male; closing her eyes as a strong arm wrapped around her shoulders.  “This one...  How is our pup...,” the Killing Perfection whispered, his tone telling her he wanted to ask so much more than just that.

    “Seems to be healthy.  Haven’t felt any kicks yet but I think that’s fairly normal for this stage,” she replied, deciding to play innocent for the time-being.

    The smell of her sakura on the verge of ripening into cherries was slowly driving him mad.  Huffing out a gruff noise filled with need, he felt his beast rise slightly to the surface as he placed his free hand on the crest of her full womb.  “Good.  Now we wish to ask you something else,” rasped the darker part of himself, leaning in to lap and nip at the blue crescent mark nestled in the crook of her neck.  He could smell hints of her spicy-sweet lust blossoming in her natural aroma, only pulling him deeper into his feral mindset.

    Fangs growing large in his mouth while the edges of his vision began to color crimson, his demon took more and more control; having grown tired of its host’s hesitance.  If ending their torture meant asking a simple question, then he was damn well going to do it.  The beast did not care for petty arrogance or looking like less in front of its chosen mate.  All it wanted was an end to its maddening need.  “We wish to ask if mating with you would hurt the pup,” it sighed, sucking an earlobe into its mouth as it pet the bulge caused by their growing offspring.

    “Wh-what?” came a half conscious response, her sweet voice muzzed with need of her own as she arched up into the heat of his body.

    “We want to rut our mate.  Even moreso with your pregnancy.  Seeing you swollen with our child drives us wild.  But we cannot slake our thirst as long as there might be a chance we can harm you or the child,” the dark being explained as calmly as he could, his instincts dangerously close to taking over.  The only thing keeping him grounded was his proximity to his brand, his nose burrowed in the center while his palm cupped the taut flesh protecting their child.

    “O-oh...  Uh, i-it won’t.  Not until the later months of the pregnancy.  From the eighth month on, there is a small chance such... activity could bring on premature labor,” came a response that had an immediate reaction.

    As soon as she was finished speaking, he was covering her; his vision going blood red as his platinum hair came down in a curtain around their faces.  Her plump pink lips beckoned him as they parted to speak, all words dying in her throat as he took her lips with an intense hunger.  Growling low in his throat, he felt his barrier come up around them on its own; making him feel more at ease now that they wouldn’t be interrupted.  Letting off the pressure of his kiss a bit, Sesshomaru removed the clothes that separated him from his gravid mate.  “‘Maru!  W-wait!  I-I mean, right here?!” gasped a breathy voice in his ear, sounding halfway between violated and eager.

    “Yessssss.  Rrrright here my chosen.  After so long without you, we cannot bear to wait,” husked his voice, sounding like two of him were speaking at the same time as his sclera turned a horrifying vermillion.

    His youki whipped into the air around him, her reiki coating the powerful energy like a blanket as it caressed the young miko’s skin.  Kagome could only squirm, her milky cheeks pinkening as embarrassment was added to the heady cocktail of her pheromones.  “We will not be found, my Kagome.  I still do not wish for anyone but me to see your ravishing beauty,” he assured, his beast taking a few steps back but still lingering near the surface.  Thankfully, that assurance seemed to be enough, his woman giving him a slow nod as she closed her eyes.

    Her breath caught in her throat as the powerful inu above her let out a raspy snarl in disapproval.  “No, I want you to watch me as this Sesshomaru take you,” hissed an inhuman vocalization, making her open her eyes on sheer instinct.  What she saw made her very much want to close them again.  To say the taiyoukai made an intimidating figure would be a severe understatement.  The white in his eyes had gone blood red, the markings on his cheeks had gone jagged, his canines were so long that they easily poked over his lover lip.  Even the fur on his tail was bushed out in, the appendage having unwrapped to stand in the air.

    As soon as her eyes landed on him, however, he seemed to gentle; an inner tension releasing as he relaxed.  Snarl turning into a lust filled smirk, her intimidating male nosed at his mark before proceeding to rip open her red maternity shirt.  Gasping as slight mortification mixed with the desire burning within her, Kagome nervously licked her lips as she wrapped her arms around Sesshomaru’s thick neck.  “Just be gentle?” she whispered, her eyes widening as surprisingly careful lips covered hers.

    “As long as you carry our child, I will do nothing too rough.  After you give birth, however, you are fair game.  We cannot begin to tell you the thing we wish to do to you, only that you are sure to find new heights of pleasure with each one.  You have made us realize what true hunger is, our Kagome, and we are starving,” rumbled in her ear, the dual tone making the small hairs on her arms stand on end.  Then the monster in the skin of a human was kissing his way down her still developing body, stopping to take one of her small breasts into his hot mouth.

    As a slightly rough tongue wrapped around her tender flesh and began to suckle, it was all she could do to keep from uttering a deep groan of satisfaction.  The smoldering embers in the pit of her lower belly flared into a full on bonfire as she arched into the towering male.  While she would never admit it out loud, the teen had missed the sexual attention from her mate.  This feeling only increased the further she got in her pregnancy and she had started to secretly question if he was disgusted by her changing body.

    With him pinning her down while switching to her other breast, she found herself glad to be proven completely wrong.  That was when her breast milk began to flow, effectively halting all thought as an electric current of pure need shot right to her nethers.  Moaning out the youkai’s name, the young miko wound her hands in the impossibly silky locks as she felt Sesshomaru pull mouthful after mouthful; soft purrs of need leaving him.  One of his hands moved out of her sight, a sudden rush of cold air on her nethers telling her he had removed what remained of her clothes.  Then two roughened digits were pressing on moistened folds, swirling and teasing around her pearl in tandem with his suckles on her nipple.  Just as she was edging into madness, everything stopped and she fought just to catch her breath enough to give the arrogant Lord a piece of her mind.

    Swallowing the sweet, faintly sakura tainted fluid, Sesshomaru found himself fighting off an extreme urge to cum already.  Gritting his teeth as he used all of hs legendary willpower to stave off his end, he released her tantalizing flesh as he pulled his fingers from her wetness.  Chuckling as he smelled the faint beginnings of her peppery temper, the Aristocratic Assassin gingerly placed himself on her quivering opening before thrusting forward.  Just the feel of her was nearly his undoing, his beast surging forward to clamp his fangs on the squirming girl’s neck.

    Her blood flowed rapidly in her veins, the sound of her pounding pulse tempting him to taste the sweet nectar just below the skin.  Still, he held himself back.  As long as she cradled their pup in her body, she was safe from his darker urges.  So he contented himself with lapping at her pounding jugular, his hips moving slowly as she began to moan long and loud.  Exclamations of his name echoed off the tree he was rutting her against, blunt nails scraping harmlessly down the contours of his muscles.  He could tell by the passage fluttering around him that his chosen was close as he found himself cradling her belly with both hands as he encouraged her to cum.

    With a cry of his name, she clamped around his forming knot; drawing him to his own nirvana as he exploded within her.  Letting out a howl of conquest, Sesshomaru burrowing his claws in the soil beneath them to prevent the deadly weapons from going into her soft flesh.  Even if she had been a youkai, it was unlikely she would be able to withstand his acidic venom.  He doubted even he could take a good dose of it after what he’d seen happen to himself in the past.  Nuzzling into the bosom of his panting beloved, the canid shuddered slightly as he felt himself become stuck fast within the sixteen year old.

    Trying to catch her breath as her vision came back, the young woman began to giggle slightly as she turned her head to kiss the demon’s cheek.  “I love you Sesshomaru.  And after all the time we spent together, I finally have a good idea.  You can sense the jewel shards, can’t you?” she pointed out, her declaration coming out of nowhere and startling the male badly.  Funny thing was, the teen was surprised she hadn’t thought of it sooner.  Not only had he been able to help pinpoint locations but he had even started that altercation with Kouga over the fact his pieces had been closer.

    Such a simple thing could be the answer to all her hesitations and guilt over having to be idle.  The only hiccup would be whether or not she could convince Sesshomaru to travel on his own.  With how protective he was, the taiyoukai was unlikely to acquiesce in this century.  “Indeed, this one can.  Yet this Sesshomaru fails to see why you would ask such a thing,” rumbled a deep baritone, holding just the faintest edge of warning.  Sighing and deciding to ignore the clear signal, Kagome decided to ask anyway; knowing it would be one Hell of an uphill battle.

    “I would like you to go look for shards for a while...,” she whispered, grinning nervously as the Lord of the West unleashed a low snarl of displeasure.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Seventh Month~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

    No matter what she said, Sesshomaru refused to budge from her side.  As much as he shared their pack’s hatred for the half spider, he didn’t want to leave Kagome for even a few minutes.  So, as much as she loathed to do it, she had stopped pushing the issue and merely accepted her circumstances.  Not that she had much room to complain, mind you.  With the knowledge she wouldn’t harm their pup, the assassin had grown much more amorous.  In fact, he took every opportunity to drag her off somewhere for a session of lovemaking that made her quiver on the inside just thinking about it.

    Still, that didn’t mean she didn’t need some space to herself just to relax; the constant presence of her mate irritating her just as much as it comforted her.  Before she’d mated him  she’d had at least gotten some breathing room.  Now she almost felt suffocated, as pleasant as his presence was.  So, as much as it drove the taiyoukai batty, she often took walks when he was distracted; enjoying her very brief time alone.  What she didn’t know was that Sesshomaru’s concern for her was more than warranted.

    Evil eyes watched from the darkness of the branches, fixing on a gravid stomach as a disgusted snarl fought to escape from a pair of twitching lips.  The foolish woman had been taking the same path alone for weeks now, making what was about to happen all too easy.  So, pulling back the head of his baboon hide, Naraku dropped upon the unaware priestess; covering her mouth as he used his miasma to knock her out.  Once she was limp, he was taking off; knowing her absence would be more than enough to set off alarm bells.

    Unaware of what happened, Sesshomaru rolled his eyes as he watched the children.  Right now, Rin was busy playing what was called ‘house’ with the fox kit.  A game he wasn’t entirely sure he approved of.  From what he could gather, it involved Shippo being the ‘father’ while the small girl acted as ‘mother’.  Little dolls made of grass were the children, the way the pair acted making him feel more than just a little disconcerted.

    Raising his head to look at his halfling brother, the deadly inu gave the hanyou a silent command to watch the children.  Then he was spinning on his heel to spread out his senses, an almost aggravated expression on his sculpted face as he tried to assess where his miko had run off to while he’d had his back turned.  When he could find no sign of her, instant unease and boiling fury welled up inside him.  “Naraku...,” he spat, his eyes narrowing as the sclera turned a vicious red and his youki snapped in the air like angry tentacles; effectively alerting his pack to the fact there was something desperately wrong.

    Well used to how the youkai worked after months of travelling with him, Miroku and Sango gathered the two children to them; letting Jaken fend for himself as they watched their alpha.  Taking a singular glance to assess the small gathering, the Lord of the House of the Moon formed his youki cloud under him before heading into the sky.  The others followed suit with their weapons at the ready, the squawking toad lagging behind as he hollered for them to wait up.  This complaint was, of course, largely ignored.

    Even Inuyasha made no move to take over or even question his half brother, merely riding on Shippo’s balloon-like body as they headed in a seemingly random direction.  While he couldn’t so much as scent his missing friend, he knew his ass of a brother could.  Hell, the bastard could likely just sense where she was through their mating mark; filling him with a jealousy tinged relief.  As much as he hated to admit it, Sesshomaru was good for Kagome.  She was smiling again, joking more and even seemed a lot more patient in general.  It was as if the asshole were smoothing out all of her rough edges.

    As much as it hurt him on the inside, he felt an odd happiness to watch her blossoming.  While he was unlikely to ever truly find what she had, he was content just being by her side.  So he had taken a background role, being silent when he normally would have thrown a few barbed insults.  Even now, as much as he wanted to just rush blindly ahead, he followed his hated half sibling.  Begrudgingly, he silently admitted he would be lost without the arrogant prick.  Kagome’s safety had to be first, especially with her carrying his niece or nephew.  He just hoped they could make it before Naraku did anything too awful to her, just the thought of it making his blood roar in his ears while his vision grew far away and red tinged.

    The smell of something sickly and rotting, almost indescribable and filling both her nose and mouth as her eyes fluttered open.  Gagging thickly as she fought to keep down the food she’d eaten, Kagome covered the lower half of her face as she curled around her stomach protectively.  A purplish, sickening mist filled the air so thickly that it appeared violet, thick waves of smoky tendrils visible in the gloom.  Coughing as her eyes began to tear up, the heavily pregnant teen immediately began to look around her for a means of escape; despite knowing full well she would find none.

    Heart racing in her chest as she found only steel bars encircling her, the time traveling miko placed both hands on her stomach as her youki tainted reiki formed a green tinged, pink bubble around.  Over a matter of seconds, the tainted air is changed to clean.  Yet, she hoped her poor child hadn’t gotten too large a dose.  Heaven only knew what that miasma did to an unborn fetus, especially given what it was capable of doing to adults.  “Kukukukuku...,” cooed heinous, cold laughter that held more madness than humor, making her hair stand on end as all her earlier worries were wiped away by fear and hate.

    “So good to see you could finally join us my dear.  However, I’m afraid your meager attempt at self defense will prove useless,” slithered a cruel baritone, the tone sliding over her skin like something slimy and making her shudder with disgust.

    “You’re free to try Naraku but my reiki has changed since you’ve last met me,” she challenged, the fury zinging through her veins making her sound more confident than she really felt.

    On the inside, Kagome was utterly terrified.  All she wanted was to get through this with her baby intact, a venture she doubted would be easy.  Still, she refused to show this monster just how scared of him she was.  She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of seeing her shuddering like some trapped rabbit.  She would stand toe to toe with him, defiant until her last breath.  Not even when Kikyo stepped up to stand by his side did she falter.  Only the golem’s battered state filled her with a vague sympathy, something that was easily shaken off in this tense moment.  “Oooooh, aren’t we confident for a mere reincarnation.  Are you still so confident against the powers of the one who came before you?” rasped the hated chimera, his purple eyes flashing as Kikyo sent out a wave of reiki to clash against hers.

    Sesshomaru jolted slightly in the air, his eyes widening before  he was forcing himself to go even faster.  He could sense the impact against his woman’s energy barrier, urging him to get to her side at all costs.  By some miracle, his pack was keeping up with him; filling him with pride as he sped toward a point in the horizon.  Thankfully, it wasn’t much longer until he could see a purple haze in the air at an incredible distance away.  Gritting his fangs, he felt his inner beast mixing into his consciousness; adding to his strength as well as viciousness.  If anything dared to hurt his mate or his pack, they would have Hell to pay.

    The others could only do their best to keep up, determined not to be a burden on the taiyoukai in his hour of need.  He would require their strength in the fight to come, not to mention the fact they were invested in Kagome’s well-being as well.  They would be there to help fight, come Hell or high water.  Sango alone considered the younger woman as a sister, let alone how the two children felt.  There were none in the small group that wouldn’t lay down their lives for her.  Still, they felt a small measure of relief when they felt a blaze of familiar youki come from below them.

    Even Sesshomaru was unperturbed by the lupine’s presence, silently accepting the wolf Prince’s help as they gradually closed in on their destination.  Wishing he could go faster, the Lord simply kept his eyes focused on the foggy spot they were closing in on.  Every so often, his body would shudder as her protective field was impacted again and again.  Thankfully, she hadn’t been injured so far; his youki seeming to strengthen the aura surrounding her.  Yet he had no idea just how long that could last, only adding to the crawling feeling on his skin as he tried to force some more speed from his cloud.

    Standing her ground as holy energy continued to explode against the greenish pink dome around her, Kagome closed her eyes as she closed her eyes and focused on the well of reiki still inside her.  Immediately, she was greeted by her mate’s angry youki; the stinging energy wrapping around her in a protective cocoon.  Then it was surging out from her, feeling as if it was coming from Sesshomaru himself as it charged past her barrier to knock over both Naraku and her previous incarnation.  Taking a breath, she forced the foreign energy into phantom claws to hold them down as she stretched out her senses.  When she felt Sesshomaru not too far away, she began to feel a bit of hope for getting out of this mess alive.  Yet, she knew she couldn’t keep this up for much longer.

    Already, she could feel her energy draining; her body growing more fatigued as the confrontation continued.  It wouldn’t be much longer before she simply couldn’t defend herself, a prospect that truly terrified her.  “Sesshomaru, hurry,” she pleaded, watching as the trapped pair struggled against the seemingly endless youki.  A powerful pulse was her only response, the earth seeming to shudder as a terrible power became noticeable off in the distance.  Stilling briefly, the sneering half kumo turned his head to glare at the ceiling; a disgusted smirk on his almost handsome face.

    “Yes, hurry you giant mutt.  Hurry so you can watch as I tear your child from your woman’s womb!” he spat, his eyes flashing as his miasma surrounded him in a thick, pseudo chrysalis.  Then he was bursting out of it, effectively dispelling the youki pinning him and the shade of Kikyo down as extra, spider-like limbs burst from his back.  Chuckling insanely as his demonic eyes fixed on the sixteen year old, he charged forward; hitting her barrier with all the force he could muster.

    It was all Kagome could do not to show how afraid she was, glaring at the strange hanyou as the claws at the ends of his horrible limbs scrabbled against the almost glass-like dome.  To her absolute horror, the tip of one of them actually managed to scratch the hard surface formed by her mixed reiki.  With a bone-chilling screeing noise, it wiggled into the fissure the very tip of the appendage beginning to make its way inside.  All she could do was hold her breath and pray, the intense power from earlier growing closer at an alarming rate.

    Just as the wriggling limb began to cause cracks to form in the shimmering half circle, a loud roar split the sky; threatening to shatter eardrums from the sheer volume.  Then something titanic was slamming into the building, bits of wood and debris flying up into the air from the impact.  Freezing in place, Naraku turned to look at the settling smoke cloud; an uneasy expression on his visage as he saw the massive silhouette pulling itself up into a standing position.

    Two, blood colored eyes opened in the gloom, glowing brightly as a low, grinding noise began to vibrate the entire manor.  It was almost like two continents grinding together, the powerful youki pouring off the hulking thing enough to bring most to their knees.  Paling as his eyes widened, the hanyou began to try to pull free of the reiki barrier; growing frantic when he found himself trapped.  Cursing, the once cocky abomination placed both hands on the smooth surface of the energy in an effort to force himself free.  All he got was a shock that burned his palms for the attempt.

    Another of those inhuman noises came from behind him, only causing the terrified terrorizer to increase his pitiful attempts.  Even trying to tear off the limb wasn’t working, some of the miko’s reiki wrapping around the enclosed limb to prevent such an action.  “Release me you foul wench,” spat the panicked half-breed, his formerly human features twisting into something dark and monstrous.  Something that made Kagome scream despite her resolve not to show fear.

    Then there was swift movement, something impossibly large moving.  The wind caused by the creature’s action whipped Kagome’s hair out of her pale face, a fur covered limb knocking Naraku away from her.  The only thing left was his twitching ‘leg’, a noxious fluid leaking from the arachnid-like limb.  It was black with a sludgy texture, looking and smelling like something that had been rotting in the sun for weeks.  Gagging thickly, the extremely pregnant girl sank to her knees as she covered her nose with both hands; doing her best to keep down the lunch she’d eaten.

    A grating, beastly sound boomed through the remains of the building, Kikyo slowly getting to her feet as the canine shaped behemoth obscured by floating dust leapt where the loathsome Naraku had flown.  Blood poured out of the former priestess’ mouth, hollow, yet sad eyes fixed on her reincarnation.  A deep tiredness also shown in those faraway orbs, a shaky hand pulling out a short dagger from the depths of her haori; bringing the blade up to her neck while the horrified teen lowered her only protection.  “No, no please don’t do this,” cried a voice that had yet to see a fraction of the pain she had.  Smiling bitterly, the clay zombie cut her own throat; gargling on the blood that immediately threatened to choke her.

    Feeling sick to her stomach as she knelt by the dying ‘woman’, the sixteen year old found herself openly sobbing as she pleaded for the other female to hang on.  Hands immediately flew to the gushing gash, pressing against the torn flaps of skin as she tried to call forth her healing energy.  Unfortunately, none was coming forth; her powers exhausted from their excessive use.  Vision going watery as Kikyo’s breathing began to grow ragged, the broken girl could only motion frantically to Inuyasha as he hopped off a transforming Shippo.

    As the hanyou rushed toward the pair, an awful ripping sound was heard no too far away; followed by gut wrenching screams of unimaginable agony.  “What is it?  Are you...?” the worried male began, his words halting in his throat as he took in the scene before him.  Almost immediately, his heart was dropping through the floor; the center of his chest becoming a black hole as he knelt to take the shoddy copy of his former lover in his crimson clad arms.  As false as she was, that didn’t make watching her die again any easier and he found himself broken as he looked at a helpless Kagome.

    “‘s okay Yasha....  W-wan... die... wan.. Wan p-peace...,” garbled her choked voice, her life’s fluid flowing freely from both her neck and her mouth as her skin grew paler.  Swallowing thickly, the hanyou could only nod; broad shoulders shaking as he bent to take her lips in a final kiss.

    Kagome could only stare at the floorboards, caught between vomiting and sobbing as the gruesome sounds in the background began to taper off.  Although she couldn’t see it, she could sense when the formerly respected miko passed; feeling a piece of herself finally return.  Inuyasha’s tortured howl confirmed it, her heart clenching for her friend as she felt the powerful youki of her transformed mate approach them from behind.  A low, gentle rumble vibrated her small body as a broad nose pressed against her back, the ground shaking slightly beneath her as the giant dog that was her mate took a seat beside her.

    To her shock, his own mournful howl joined that of his half brother; creating a haunting chorus for a woman that had both brought incredible pain and fantastic joy in her revival.  Even in her final moments, her passing was being grieved.  Wishing she could join in, the teen leaned into the furry leg of Sesshomaru’s true form; listening to the strange funeral song until it ended.  Soon, they were all gathered in a field far away from that forsaken place.  A modest hole had been dug for her body and a modest service was given to her as she was buried.  Inuyasha insisted on there being no marker on the grave to prevent another Urasue incident.  Then they had left, only a wreath from Rin to mark the place where a revered miko rested.

    Burying his nose in his mate’s hair as he allowed her untainted scent to soothe him, Sesshomaru lett out soft purrs to comfort his distraught female.  From the scent of salt on her sakura, she was just as affected by the clay creature’s death as his bastard half brother was; a fact that baffled him to no end.  “‘Maru?  I-is the bastard dead?” whispered a half hopeful voice, the question perking his interest as he shifted his gaze to the top of her head.

    “Yes, this one made sure.  He was melted in this Sesshomaru’s poison after being torn apart so badly he couldn’t possibly muster the energy to escape,” he assured, the way she relaxed in his hold warming his heart.

    “Good, at least we can gather the rest of the Shikon without worry now,” sighed her sweet voice, the faint sound of the monk exclaiming happily coming from behind them as they made their way back to Kaede’s village.



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