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Inconsequential by Archerdiana

Chapter 1

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Initiate

 

When Kagome chose to remain in the past, it had seemed a static, fixed place. But time passed there all the same, bringing summer to winter and summer again. The world around her grew accordingly. 

 

Sango and Miroku tied the knot, and set out to rebuild the slayer’s village. Shippo earned another tail as he became a stronger fox yokai. Kaede’s movements slowed with old age, and she relied more on Kagome for simple errands. Inuyasha and her grew into friends, best friends, and nothing more.

 

It was a cloudy February evening when she noticed yet another change.

 

Lord Sesshomaru’s visits to Rin were not a novelty. The villagers would spot a white figure in the distance, and the girl would run out squealing in happiness not long after. Rin would tell him of her adventures while he was away, play with Ah Un and ignore Jaken’s chiding. It was endearing. So what was up with the depressing atmosphere this time?

 

Kagome stood on her tiptoes and squinted to get a better look at Sesshomaru and his ward. She almost jumped back when Kaede called out from inside the hut “Kagome, is that you?”

 

‘That’s what I get for being nosy.’ She thought to herself and straightened up. “Yes Kaede san! I brought your medicine!”

 

In the village, of course, one chore always led to the other: fires to start, herbs to dry, patients to check up. It was like Kagome was never finished, merely done for the day. 

 

Still she made an effort every night to step out and look at the stars.  In her time they had never been as beautiful, as close, as they were here. The moon was waning, and as every month she worried how Inuyasha would fare without his powers, far away on the slayer village. Maybe this time he’d come back before the new moon.

 

The rustling sound of grass blades startled her out of her thoughts. Kagome looked to her side to find Ah Un with an unconscious Rin. Sesshomaru was a few paces behind, barely visible in the moonlit night.

 

“Oh gods! She fell asleep?” Kagome asked, trying to keep her voice down. It wouldn’t have been the first time Rin insisted on staying up late to see her beloved mentor. But as Kagome went to gather the girl in her arms, she noticed her swollen eyelids and tear stained face.

 

She was about to ask Sesshomaru what had transpired, when she really saw him. He must have finally indulged Rin on braiding his hair. And the girl had made the most of it, creating tumbles of braids in every pattern, and sticking flowers on a few for added effect. She managed to contain her surprise to just raising her eyebrows.

 

The daiyoukai ignored her and picked Rin up from the mount and went to place her on her sleeping mat inside the hut. Once he emerged he motioned Kagome to follow him away from the dwelling.

 

“I will be going away for a considerable time.” He disclosed as they walked.

 

“That’s why Rin looked sad today.” Kagome mused. “So you let her play with your hair as compensation?”

 

Sesshomaru uttered a slight “Hn” even as he averted his gaze.

 

A small giggle, a breath, escaped her lips. “I can help you brush it out, if you want.” She offered. It was partly for herself -Sesshomaru made too strange an image with a coil of wildflowers hanging from his head.

 

He stopped and regarded her with a new interest. “You would do that?” He asked, cocking his head to the side.

 

“Sure! I mean if that’s not- if… ” Kagome’s heart sped up, and she hoped she hadn’t overstepped their tenuous truce. She hadn’t meant to be pushy. She didn’t want to scare him away.

 

“It’s no big deal, right?” She said.

 

“None at all” Sesshomaru replied. 

 

There was a glint in his eyes that she couldn’t exactly place, but Kagome pushed the thought aside while she went to get her comb.

 

‘It’s no big deal.’ She had to remind herself as she looked for it frantically; as she ran back outside; as she sat behind the stoic yokai. She reached out to touch his tangled hair and stopped to admire him silently for a moment. The way he sat even then, spine straight, shoulders back and alert. Despite Rin’s atrocious styling, he looked like a dignified spring god.

 

He turned his head the slightest, spying her from the corner of his eye. Waiting.

 

"Let's get started!" She said cheerily, and grabbed a plait to unbraid. Her face felt warm, but she ignored it in favour of her task.

 

'Now this is hair worth killing for, Yura.' Kagome thought. It was soft, almost like a fur coat she had touched once. And so silky that the flowers and knots might have fallen away without her intervention.

Sesshomaru sat still to let her work on his strands of moonlight, and her comb glided from roots to ends, pulling petals and small twigs out of the way. They settled on a comfortable silence -so of course, she had to speak.

 

“What’s the reason for your trip this time, Sesshomaru sama?” She asked. “Not that you have to tell me, I know you’re very private. It’s just that, well, Rin counts the days between your visits already. It’s good for her to be with other humans and children her age, of course, but- but she waits for you.”

 

Kagome couldn’t see his face but the tension in the air was palpable. ‘Backtrack! Backtrack!’ her mind warned.

 

“What I mean to say,” she babbled. “Is that time is different for us humans, especially kids. Our lifespans are preciously short. You visit her about every moon turn and that’s alright. When your visits grow further apart she takes it hard; for a kid like Rin, a month is like a lifetime. Look at all the stories she has to tell everytime she sees you.” Kagome smiled as she remembered the girl’s lively demeanor.

 

In the quiet night, his voice was low and deep. “You have realized that time cannot affect you, Miko.”

 

Kagome made a strangled sound from the back of her throat - both confirmation and denial. She let the topic slip and returned to her tak. Her comb slipped easily through his hair now, undeterred by twists or ornaments -her job was done. She drew her hands to her lap and tightened her grip on the comb, grateful to have an anchor of sorts.

 

“Please try to come back soon, so she can tell you more.” She allowed herself to feel the slightest smirch of self pity. “I guess I worry so much about Rin missing you because I know what it’s like to wait month after month-”

 

She stopped abruptly when she noticed that Sesshomaru had turned to face her, looking more baffled than she’d ever seen him in the battle.

 

“You wait?” It was more an assessment than it was a question.

 

Kagome flustered all the same. “Well, I-” Did she hold out for Inuyasha still? For them to release one another, perhaps.

 

“Yes.” She said quietly, eyes lowered. It was late, and she had much to think about. Kagome made to bow and excuse herself-

 

Then there was a flash, lightning; an explosion of youki. She scrambled back on instinct, only to see Sesshomaru transforming into his true form.

 

“What?” She breathed, unable to stop her instinct to flee from the huge white dog. Had he grown even larger since the last time?

 

“Sesshomaru sama, can you sense an enemy?” She shouted. She couldn’t feel any aura close by, but maybe that was why the inu youkai had transformed all of a sudden.

 

He looked defensive, certainly. The way he pushed all his weight on his haunches, stretching his back. And leaping closer to her.

 

The ground shook upon impact beneath him, and Kagome had to hold back a cry. She was between Sesshomaru’s paws now -each as large as a car- and his head hung feet above her, offering a terrible spectacle of powerful jaws and sharp canines, swinging from side to side. Each puff of his breath was a cloud of steam. 

 

If this was the true Sesshomaru, it was a reminder of his raw power. Not only was he gargantuan in size, but his body was comprised of tight muscle poised for attack. The only scar on his silver fur was at the place where his arm had regenerated. She watched, dumbstruck, as he landed on that paw, so close she almost lost her footing.

 

“Sesshomaru sama! Please stop!” She pleaded, raising her hands slowly. “We’re friends remember?”

 

There were screams from the village. “Earthquake!” They cried. “A demon!” Said others.

 

Kagome tried to meet his canine gaze, hoping to make sense of their situation. But there was none. She tore her eyes away and turned to the village. “No! It’s not an earthquake!” She bellowed. “Go inside!”

 

It took repeating her message a few times before they listened. One family insisted on staying outside, and an old man was convinced the daiyoukai would eat them all. She was glad Rin and Kaede hadn’t woken up with all the ruckus.

 

When Kagome finally had the chance to look back at the field, Sesshomaru stood there still, but in his human form. She could have sworn he was meeting her gaze, despite the distance. Then he jumped into the air, and flew away.

 

The sun rose. The villagers repeated the explanation Kagome had given them -that  Sesshomaru would not harm the village of Edo as Rin lived there, and they should not be alarmed. The sun set, some juicier event happened, and everyone forgot about the night a daiyoukai had shown his true form.

 

'What did Sesshomaru meant to do, transforming like that?'Kagome still asked herself. 'What did he want?'

 

Time continued its slow passing. The last remnants of winter ice melted. The fields were cleared in preparation for sowing. New sprouts of shy green emerged from hardened tree branches. 

 

With the brighter days came Inuyasha and Kohaku, bringing news of Sango’s village. Rin was cheered up by seeing her friend, with a special kind of light Kagome hadn't noticed in the girl before.

 

Inuyasha and her kept watch on them from afar as the youths talked, with animated gestures and too-loud laughs. 'They're in love.' Kagome realized. Rin and Kohaku were now the younglings crushing on each other. And Inuyasha and her - she studied him from the corner of her eye- they'd become adults, and not in love.

 

"You should come back with us." Inuyasha grumbled just then. "To the slayer village.” He was looking straight ahead while he spoke; as always, guarding himself from a rejection.

 

“You know I can’t.” She answered in automatic. “Kaede needs me around.”

 

He barked out a resigned keh! “The whole village looks after her. It won’t make a difference, but you-”

 

“And I’m teaching Rin.” She interrupted.

 

“-don’t want to move on, Kagome.” He spoke over her. “I don’t know what keeps you here. It’s not being a miko, and it’s not us. So what is it?” He demanded.

 

“I’m just busy.” She said, turning away from him.

 

And she was. There were so many herbs to gather that time of year; everyone was coming down with a contagious cough; and their hut needed a good spring cleaning. When Inuyasha and Kohaku went to say their goodbyes before parting, it felt like she’d barely seen them.

 

Demonstrate

  

The temperature was just a little higher, the days more pleasant and less hurried. She would see countless butterflies, bees and insects on her free evenings. Rin made flower crowns to pass the time -for Lord Sesshomaru, she knew. Waiting.

 

And one day, unprompted, his aura was tingling, just at the edge of her senses. Kagome was bandaging a wound, so she couldn’t exactly run out to meet him -not that she would. She heard Rin’s excited scream as she ran to meet her mentor. She heard a commotion outside too, and villagers trying to contain astonished comments. ‘What now?’ she thought as she finished up with her patient.

 

She feared for a second that he’d returned wounded. Her feet picked up the pace, because she desperately needed to see that he was alright. She pushed past curious people, watching from the street, with barely enough breath to say ‘sorry’. Flustered and wild, she stumbled into the field where Sesshomaru and Rin usually met.

 

He was fine. Pristine, unfazed, if a little more worn than usual. Upon inspecting her, his face became guarded, his brow creased. Rin took the interruption in stride and prompted Kagome to say how much Rin had improved in her archery lessons, and hadn’t she worked very hard?

 

“She’s an excellent student.” Kagome appraised, and the mask of village miko slipped back on easily. She fixed a polite smile on her face and dared to look at Sesshomaru; yet as she did something caught her eye.

 

Ah-Un was not by his side, but had stayed far behind, under the shade of a tree. The brave beast appeared unbothered by its disproportionately large cargo. The burden in question was the size of a large canoe, and it curved the same way; but the thing was made of translucent material. It was- it was a-

 

“What is that?” She blurted, dumb and transparent.

 

“It’s what remains of Lord Sesshomaru’s opponent.” Jaken scoffed. “The claw of Shigeyuki, the Southern dragon -only his smallest claw.”

 

“Really?” Rin said in awe.

 

Kagome flexed her pinky absently. Sesshomaru had fought a thing that size? As Jaken retold the fight with unabashed reverence for his master, her attention kept going from the stoic youkai to the obscene battle trophy.

 

The daiyoukai grew bored of his retainer. He met Kagome’s gaze. “Miko, come.” He ordered, and spun on his heel, sure of being followed.

 

She followed him to where Ah-Un waited with the dragon claw. But she had been wrong; it was easily the length of a small boat. Traces of youki lingered on it. It hadn't been dead long -and she realized then that Sesshomaru hadn't been gone for even a month, despite his warning.

 

"You defeated this youkai." She whispered, admiring the cracks and smaller scratches on the claw that told of a fierce fight; perhaps Sesshomaru had finally met a worthy opponent to defeat.

 

"It is yours." He declared, pulling her out of her musings.

 

Kagome almost jumped away. "What? the uh-ehrm! this ah-" she winced at her own babbling. 'Come on, speaking is the one thing I'm good at' she chastised herself.

 

"I thank you" she said, regretting her awkward choice of words and strangled voice. "But what should I do with this?"

 

He was annoyed at her question, evidently. He approached the claw, laid his hand on it as if confirming its existence, and paced away.

 

"It's an impressive feat, Sesshomaru sama." She prattled, because she really couldn't handle his sudden displeasure. "And you're back so soon."

 

"Shigeyuki claimed to be the strongest in the land." He almost hissed. His posture was tense and threatening, his hands in tight fists. "I bring his claw, for it was a small feat."

 

"I believe you." She agreed. "I've seen you fight."

 

He bent his chin down, perhaps reflecting on something about their exchange. Perhaps not, because his face elongated, and his youkai burst in an explosion as he shifted into the now familiar shape of a giant dog.

 

What was she supposed to do? She wondered as he jerked around in erratic movements. He clearly wanted something from her, and it wasn't a fight, but it wasn't submission either -she'd tried.

 

"What does he expect me to do?" She asked Jaken, and the kappa refused to acknowledge the question. Rin confessed she had no idea. 'Maybe he hit his head really hard in that fight, and this is just the contusion acting out.' She tried to reason.

 

She wanted to question Sesshomaru on his antics, once he turned back to his humanoid shape. But he looked aloof as he took leave with his mount, his retainer; and left behind the giant claw. She didn't know what to do with that thing either.

 

The days felt eternal after he left. Kagome was plagued constantly with thoughts of Sesshomaru. What did he expect her to do? And why did it bother her so much that she had done nothing?

 

There was no escaping the thought, because his kind gift was a reminder. It turned out, dragon claws had many uses, and she was able to exchange chunks of it for rice, good fabric and other goods, while keeping some for remedies. 

 

The moon hadn't given a full turn when his pale figure was spotted in the horizon, alone this time. Kagome decided to sit this one out, in case Sesshomaru wanted to act weird some more.

 

Besides, she had recommended he visit more often for Rin's sake; it was only fair the girl got some alone time with her sort-of-father-figure. Strange as he might be.

 

"I'm busy anyways." She reminded herself as she looked for some clothes to mend. Anything.

 

By nightfall Kagome had huddled close to the brazier to re-read one of her old textbooks, the pinnacle of boredom. Mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell, indeed.

 

She felt Sesshomaru's presence even before he said "Miko." He stood at the door of the hut, carrying a sleepy Rin.

 

"Oh, I'll take it from here." She said and rushed to receive the girl from his arms. Rin was of course, far too old to be playing such tricks -too heavy. But given the girl's past, neither felt like denying her the chance to be a kid.

 

Kagome took her time tucking her in, brushing her hair aside, and looking into her happy, slumbering face. It felt good to have someone to care for; it felt right.

 

She hadn't expected to find Sesshomaru lingering by the entrance. She had a feeling his eyes had traced her movements, had seen her soul be settled. But in that moment she didn't mind being observed. She smiled at him, open. And she giggled.

 

"Rin's been at it again? You have a flower -here." She pointed at the spot over her left ear, and he raised the opposite hand.

 

"No, it's-" She sighed. "Let me take care if this."

 

The daiyoukai stood very still as she reached out to untangle the small bloom from his hair. Her fingers didn't hesitate, even when she brushed against the shell of his ear. It was a familiar touch now.

 

*There." Kagome said, once the flower was free of his long silvery tresses. It was a rare blossom; she twirled it around in her hand, trying to remember its name.

 

"Not a big feat." She heard him say, in a stilted attempt to be casual.

 

"No big deal." She agreed.

 

His silks rustled as he stepped back. "Walk with me." He instructed.

 

She hoped he meant to walk on two legs; it felt rude to ask him somehow. Instead they strolled in peaceful silence a long while. All the stars were out, and without her notice the new moon had come and gone; now a crescent shone down in them.

 

"You mentioned time was different for humans." He prompted.

 

She supposed she should be a specialist in just how different time could be for everyone, given its preference for toying with her.

 

"Yes. Humans are particularly good at disregarding the present and remembering the past, or an imaginary future."

 

"To my understanding, this future is not imaginary to you."

 

"My time is five hundred years away." She said, letting a known sadness seep into her tone. "It might as well be imaginary."

 

Sesshomaru seemed to consider that before replying "Yet it is not."

 

She gave an uncomfortable chuckle. "I'm sorry, that wasn't your question. Here or there, we feel the passage of time the same. Moments of distress feel the longest. But we live for happy times."

 

She smiled. "People will tell you about their life through the things they celebrate. Weddings, holidays, the birth of children."

 

"Meeting." He supplied.

 

"Yes, meeting someone important!" She agreed. “The townspeople here speak fondly of good harvests.” She remembered an unpleasant thought. “They’re saying already that this year the crops will be bad. I guess we’ll have to find out.”

 

He gave a noncommittal “Hn” and they kept walking, eventually returning to her hut. Sesshomaru left without a word, without weird gimmicks and unrequested shows of power. Kagome had a peaceful  night’s rest.

 

She woke up late next morning, only to find Kaede kneeling by her with an astonished expression. "You'll want to see this, child.'  She said, pointing her chin to the door.

 

Once she reached the outside, she saw no one. It was extremely quiet for a late morning in the town. No one in the fields, no fires running, not a soul in sight.

 

"Miko sama!" A young boy called from afar as he ran to her, his sandals slapping loudly against the ground. "Come and see!" The boy crashed into her, grabbed her hand and pulled her along.

 

They didn't go far into the forest -once Inuyasha's forest- before meeting up with the rest of the villagers. And everyone was there, from the youngest boys to the oldest grandmother bent to the task of harvesting some sort of slain boars. A lot of them.

 

“What’s going on?” Kagome asked to no one in particular.

 

One of the town elders turned to regard her from his place on the ground. “The protector of our village!” He said, jovial.

 

She had a feeling he meant Sesshomaru. She seeked him out among the multitude of people, game, and quickly filling up baskets. Her eyes searched near and far; she stumbled around, disoriented. The townspeople greeted her with great cheer and clapped her back, thankful to her for some reason.

 

“It’s great news, isn’t it, Miko sama?” Said the town chief in his gravelly voice, up to his elbows in gore. “We feared a famish; now our only worry is bandits hearing of our good luck.”

 

Kagome tried to come up with a response. It was good news, of course. Except the scene was a tad too… visceral for her. She was saved from the awkward moment when she noticed a familiar figure in white, looking over them from a gentle hill.

 

“I have to talk to him.” She mumbled.

 

It wasn’t fair. She was out of breath and sweaty by the time she’d made the climb. Her hair must be a mess too -oh she would have killed for an elastic right then. And meanwhile Sesshomaru stood, looking at the horizon unperturbed, hair dancing on the soft breeze.

 

“Hello! Ah...the boars?” She said, panting.

 

“They were annoying.” He regarded her for a second before turning his attention to the skies again.

 

Kagome hummed in faked agreement. “Uh huh. All of them?” She’d counted about twelve only on her way to him, each slaughtered with a precise snip at the neck. Even for a youkai of his speed it must have been tedious.

 

She shook herself. ‘What is wrong with me?’ She thought. The daiyoukai had provided food to their starved village; if he wanted to be modest about it, he had every right to be.

 

“Pardon me, Sesshomaru sama.”  She began in her most polite voice. She bowed to him. “The village of Edo is grateful for this grand favor-”

 

“No.” He cut in, visibly irked.  “It is nothing.” He asserted, taking a step towards her. Then he hesitated; retreated.

 

Did he not want to feel like a good guy? Was that it? ‘I thought we were past that stage’ Kagome thought to herself.

 

“As simple as brushing hair.” He continued with a nod. “No big deal.”

 

Kagome knew her face contorted into an unflattering grimace at hearing the modern phrase coming from his lips, but it was completely beyond her control. Now she was certain Sesshomaru must have hit his head somehow. She was contemplating how to ask him about any recent cranial injury when he departed with a simple “Farewell, miko.”

 

She really should have pressed the issue, because things only got worse.

 

Not three weeks later she was woken in the wee hours of morning because a hoard of bandits was seen coming their way. She ran out, bow in hand only to find said group of crooks being ordered about by Jaken to -of all things- build a palisade around Edo.

 

Sesshomaru’s pale form was golden under the sunrise. She stomped over to him, waving her arms about. “What is this?” She demanded. “What is going on?”

 

He spared her a bored glance. “Nothing of significance.”

 

She looked over her shoulder when Jaken threatened to burn one of the bandits for slacking off on the wall’s construction.

 

“It’s something alright.” She retorted, not understanding the animosity that sprang inside herself. The daiyoukai’s actions were generous on the best case, convenient at worst. He was looking out for Rin; it didn’t involve her.

 

Kagome resolved to mind her own business. Summer was approaching, and she would be too busy to spare a thought on the inu youkai. If Sesshomaru kept visiting with ever growing frequency? that was swell. It surely made Rin happy, although the novelty wore off a bit. The villagers were thrilled about ‘their protector’ sticking around? Great for them.

 

Except she always broke; she’d go to him and start a conversation -in all fairness, she enjoyed talking to him. But inevitably he would turn it into something weird, presenting her with some choice body part of his latest kill or his weird metaphors about hair brushing. 

 

The last time she agreed to go for a walk with him he’d been acting wild; circling around her as if he wanted to attack her, but wouldn’t.

 

All of that paled in comparison to the times he turned into his dog form. The transformation was always unexpected, unprompted. And it was only her that seemed to mind. The villagers disregarded the rice fields he would trod over because he was their great protector. Rin thought it was fun. Kaede -yes, even Kaede- merely attributed it to his youkai nature.

 

Kagome stared at the ceiling of her hut at night and wondered what she’d done to break Sesshomaru.

 

Manifest

 

The travelers made their way through a forest of yellowing leaves. The path was so scantily used, only the hanyou could make it out. So Inuyasha lead the party, followed by Sango on Kirara’s back, with Miroku and Kohaku on the rear. They were visiting Kagome as a surprise -the last trip before Sango was due.

 

Inuyasha was quiet as he led them. The closer they were to Edo, the scent of Sesshomaru got stronger: he’d been in those woods, and often. They had settled on a truce of sorts, and Kagome was even training his brat. Still, he found it odd.

 

“What the hell?” He hissed, as trees gave way to open fields. He looked at the devastation on the farmland surrounding the village. Deep craters and crushed crops covered the fields. His hand tightened on his sword instinctively.

 

Sango gasped and clutched at her heavily pregnant belly. It looked like the aftermath of a battle. And then again, not; there were no bodies strewn about, no weapons, no stench. “Let’s keep going.” She instructed the rest, brows knit in worry.

 

On they went, to a stranger landscape. The village of Edo was unrecognizable. Thriving.

 

“When did they build this border wall?” Miroku wondered.

 

“I don’t know.” Kohau confessed. “It wasn’t here last time we came.”

 

They walked through the open gate, through streets which now boasted gutters for rainwater. There was a certain affluence to be felt around town; everyone looked plump and well clothed. The delicious aroma of cooked food wafted from every door. And it all felt strange.

 

“Guys!” Shouted a familiar voice. The group turned to find a lanky, growing Shippo, who ran to catch up with them. “What’s happening here?” The kitsune asked. He’d clearly just arrived -his sack of belongings hung over his shoulders.

 

It was clear they didn’t know either, and so the reunited friends resolved to continue to Kaede’s hut, where they could hopefully get some answers.

 

But first, there was the excitement of reuniting. Kagome was practically vibrating with happiness once she saw her friends. She went to get Rin, who was likewise excited. The miko hugged each of them at least three times; she marveled at Sango’s advanced pregnancy and at how much Shippo had grown; she shed a few happy tears a being reunited.

 

“Alright, enough!” Inuyasha exclaimed, uncomfortable with the touchiness. “Now explain, the hell’s going on with this town?”

 

Kagome’s eyes widened as she tried to play naive about the subject.

“I know we’ve been away for a while, but it’s rather changed.” Miroku acknowledged.

 

“It’s because of Lord Sesshomaru.” Rin replied with her preternatural calm when talking about her protector. “He became friends with Kagome and now he gives her gifts.”

 

Kagome choked at her words. “Why don’t you kids go outside and play?” She suggested with a firm smile that allowed no arguments -even the fact that the kids were not that younger. Rin practically ran, Kohaku complied obediently, and Shippo followed begrudgingly.

 

Once they were out of earshot, Kagome let her facade fall and turned to her friends with an expression that could only be described as haunted. “Sesshomaru has gone insane.” She confessed.

 

Inuyasha made his usual threats and insults regarding his brother.

 

Kagome ignored him in favour of trying to explain. "It's not like he's harming anyone. He's just acting different. You know, a little bit unpredictable." She reasoned.

 

"Well, what does he do?" Sango prompted.

 

"You could call it village improvements, I suppose. Sometimes that's giving me his latest kill or trophy or whatever. Sometimes that's making basic infrastructure. Actually, I can appreciate that one." Kagome continued, caught up in her train of thought. 

 

"Perhaps-" Miroku began before being cut off.

 

"But then he denies all of it!" Kagome cried. "He acts bored and says 'it's not a big deal' with those exact words mind you! Which doesn't even make sense because the rest of the time he's perfectly good conversation." She sighed. "The one person I could talk to acts like he wants to kill me." Kagome lamented.

 

"Wait, what?" Inuyasha shouted.

 

"Oh, I forgot to mention that part. Every so often he'll transform to his true form and make a mess. Just like," she tried to mimic the way Sesshomaru stalked and leaped around her in agile movements. She probably looked more like Buyo chasing a light beam.

 

She stopped. "Even in humanoid form he's gotten sort of jumpy." She mumbled.

 

"And you have no idea why Lord Sesshomaru is acting this way?" Sango asked, something about her tone humorous.

 

Kagome stuttered. She felt exposed and strangely defensive. “Maybe he got brain damage. From his fights.” She resolved.

 

Inuyasha snorted. But his expression wasn't entirely unkind, and he spoke with a soft voice. “Things have really changed around here, haven't they?”

Kagome looked at him, letting her inner turmoil show clear on her face. Inuyasha meant something bigger than weird gifts and crushed paddies,and now it was her who lacked the words to address her heart issues.

 

 “Sesshomaru will be here any minute.” She blurted instead. “I’ll go greet him away from the village because… well, he’s a big dog.” She took her leave with the clumsy statement, only to find Rin, Kohaku and Shippou standing outside, clearly eavesdropping.

 

The kids at least had the decency to look embarrassed. Shippou, despite his blush, spoke up. “Momma, Rin says you started the whole thing. That you were grooming Lord Sesshomaru.”

 

Kagome’s eyebrows shot to her hairline as she turned to see the girl’s impish grin. “Rin saw you brushing his hair.”

 

She sputtered. “But that was nothing.”

 

“Ah, no big deal!” Miroku called out from inside the hut, and she didn’t need to see his face to know he was wiggling his eyebrows.

 

“What we do for the people we care about always feels inconsequential.” Kohaku said, surprisingly eloquent.

 

Kagome released a breath she hadn’t known she was holding. She looked around at their now prosperous village; what a roundabout way of flirting.

 

Sango poked her head outside the hut. “Why aren’t you running to him already?” she asked.

 

And there was no reason to put it off longer. Kagome turned, and ran with a light heart beating in her chest. She passed the new walls that protected her home; she skipped over paw-shaped craters; she ran to where his spirit called hers.

 

He was at the field, that had at some point become their field, concentrating on a small object in his hand. As always he looked untouched by time an effort, while she felt like she’d popped a lung. “Sesshomaru!” She called.

 

“A pearl guarded by the mermaids, from depths unknowns to mankind.” He said once she came to stand in front of him, and let her see the oblong pearl of dove gray on his grasp. 

 

He grabbed her own hand and pressed the bead to her palm, his thumb tracing over her skin while he did so. His touch had grown familiar over the many gifts of trinkets; she didn’t feel like pulling away. Rather, she wanted to hold him.

 

“It’s impressive, Sesshomaru.” She breathed.

 

Displeasure settled on his features. “They were weak creatures, and the task mundane.” He asserted.

“Ah, I see.” Kagome said, still panting from her sprint. “It’s no big deal to you. I still think you’re very strong.” She admitted.

 

“And?” He cued, and she could see his youki stirring as much as his interest.

 

“Don’t you go transforming on me.” She warned, and immediately he stood straighter, more subdued. Kagome nodded. “Good. I need to have this conversation in human words. It’s crazy enough that you’re… whatever you’re doing.” she said, waving between them.

 

“Courting you.” Sesshomaru replied.

 

“Yes-”

 

“Have I proven myself to you?” He inquired, and from his voice she could tell he wasn’t sure.

 

“You never needed to. Sesshomaru, you have nothing to prove, I know who you are!” She declared; yet something about the stubborn tilt of his chin told her he wouldn't let it go. She rolled her eyes. “Yes, you have proven yourself, oh mighty youkai.”

 

He looked pleased as he stalked forward. He’d done that before too. Kagome took a step back, eyebrows knit in confusion. He took a step forward.

 

She stepped to the left, and he followed.

 

Could Sesshomaru, killing perfection, actually be playing with her? She tentatively sprinted a few steps; his expression was pure seriousness but he chased letting her have the lead. He was playing all this time? ‘Stranger things have happened.’ Kagome reassured herself.

 

So she ran, and he chased close enough to reach her, but he let her get away at the last second every time. Until finally he pulled close and laid the softest peck on her lips.

 

She didn't move even when he pulled away the slightest. That tenous thing between them, she didn't dare disturb.

 

"Is that not supposed to be a big deal?" She asked, her breath brushing against his.

 

He tilted his head away to peer at her through his eyelashes. "Perhaps I did it wrong." He said, pulling her in close again.

 

INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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