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Carpe Demon by Aurora Antheia Raine

Carpe Demon (Part 1 of 2)

The first loud wail of a newborn reverberated through the once silent halls of the elegant house of the west, quickly followed by a relieved sigh from the demoness mother as she fell back against her futon, worn from her hours at child birth. A light sheen of perspiration dotted her forehead and Rin, the ever doting granddaughter, wiped it away with the silk fabric of her kimono sleeve.

"What a beautiful son he is, Lady InuKimi," Rin whispered excitedly, eyes sparkling as the bundle, comfortably wrapped in a navy blanket embroidered with pale blue crescent moons, was transferred to rest in the burrow of the mother's arms. Upon their first physical contact, the pup fell silent, rubbing at his closed eyes with tight fists while resisting the urge to sleepily yawn. The tuft of moon spun silver hair adorning his head bounced with his every move, bringing a smile to Rin's face from the cute image he provided.

The demoness smiled as well, bringing the bundle closer to her chest as the door to her chamber swung open, revealing her mate in all his fulsome glory. He approached with heavy footfalls and brushed calloused yet gentle fingers down the side of the pup's face. The infant's nose twitched, familiarizing himself with his sharp senses as his eyes slowly fluttered open, revealing icy blue eyes, hazy from birth, identical in shade to his father.

"What a fine son you have given me, my love," Masashi said, his stance revealing how proud he truly was of the son they had created together. "He will be known as Suguru. Excellence."

"A most fitting name, mate," InuKimi murmured as she drifted into slumber, her face peaceful though worn with exhaustion.

He pressed a kiss to her damp temple before ushering for the staff to take Suguru to his chamber. One by one, his staff quietly left after thoroughly cleaning their Lady and ensuring that all was taken care in a way that would not anger the Lords of the house. Masashi released his armor then, dropping it to the floor before laying down beside his mate. He circled her waist with his arm, buried his nose in her hair, and rested beside her, feeling more content than he ever had before.

- A -

Jaken quietly slipped into his Lord's personal office and swiftly bowed. "Milord, Lady InuKimi is resting with Lord Masashi. The pup has been named Suguru and is slumbering peacefully in his own chamber."

Sesshoumaru looked up from his stack of documents and nodded. "Excellent. Inform the guards to be particularly observant for potential intruders."

"Hai, Milord," Jaken said, bowing low at the waist again before departing, the door quietly clicking shut behind him.

With a stifled sigh, Sesshoumaru dropped his calligraphy brush and leaned back in his seat while still maintaining his rigid posture. The day Masashi had mated his mother, Sesshoumaru had known this day would come; when more burdens would rest upon his shoulders and he would be forced to deal with the existence of yet another half  brother.

At least his mother had the decency and honor to remain faithful to his father for so long before finding a new mate. The same could not be said for InuTaisho and it had been his unfaithfulness that had brought him his demise. Still, Sesshoumaru could begrudgingly admit that Masashi was a fine mate for his mother. He was a strong warrior and trained his army well as general. They had built a sturdy treaty with each other, combining their respective lands when the mating took place. It was not a decision he regretted as it only served to fortify his power.

However, with a rise in power, additional threats were sure to follow. Such is the case for the birth of Suguru, for he was born a full blooded Inuyoukai, once thought extinct after Sesshoumaru, but Masashi had merely been lying low to fend off claims for his life much like the constantly on guard Sesshoumaru.

The ones who fear the power Inuyoukais possess, those who sought the destruction of Inuyoukais, would attempt to strike Suguru in his current state of innocence and helplessness. His life would be in danger on a daily basis and it would be up to Masashi and Sesshoumaru to protect him until InuKimi fully recovered from her labor. As a demoness, it would not take long. Until then, Sesshoumaru vowed to protect Suguru with all the powers he possessed, beginning with patrolling his land for any signs of malicious activity.

Decision made, Sesshoumaru swept his papers to the side, informed Jaken to let Masashi know of his whereabouts, and left the castle in the safety of his trustworthy guards and general, but two weeks later, upon his return, the entire castle was in utter chaos.

- A -

Kagome tossed another pinch of freshly ground herbs into the salve she was making for a villager who had injured himself when he tripped and fell, causing the piece of heavy lumber he carried to land on his back. She stirred the concoction until a creamy consistency was formed, ensuring all the ingredients were evenly mixed in before slathering it onto his bare back, ugly with the bright blue and purple of his bruises.

With care, she wrapped the bandages firmly around him with assistance from the villager's wife, sealing in the salve for maximum effect. She left careful instructions on how to continue caring for his injury and only smiled in response as his wife thanked her profusely for her services. Kagome convinced her it had been no trouble at all while packing all of her supplies into a small sack before waving goodbye and heading back to her own hut.

Five years had passed since the defeat of Naraku and the fusing of the Shikon no Tama, which Kagome had selflessly wished away. It was also the day she made the decision to stay in the feudal era, causing the Bone Eater's Well to close the portal to her modern home forever. She had stayed for Inuyasha and their budding love, adjusting to her new life without technology and modern comforts, but eventually, their love had fizzled out, leaving nothing but content friendship.

It was something Kagome could accept. Her duties often kept her busy enough to the point where she didn't even have time to consider the possibility that she might be alone for the rest of her life. While she cared for the villagers that had made her feel welcomed when she'd permanently moved in, she could never see herself settling down with one of them. When she had stayed, she had envisioned forever with Inuyasha, never planning for the possibility that Inuyasha was not her future.

But, as Kagome was quickly beginning to learn, love was not the most important thing in life. She could dedicate herself to assisting the village and healing the people, much like Kaede. That, too, would be a fulfilling life. She would not ask for more.

With a quiet sigh, Kagome rounded the corner to her home, coming to an abrupt stop upon noticing the small bundle resting in front of her entrance. It was not unusual to find something there as the villagers often gave her small tokens of appreciation for her services, but she had never seen such fine and warm material in the village before. Somehow, she knew the package did not come from the villagers.

Cautiously, she approached the bundle wrapped in a blue blanket, her miko senses burning with the tinge of youkai aura in the air. Instantly on guard, Kagome committed the aura to memory, knowing she might need the knowledge of it later. She gasped in surprise when something in the bundle suddenly moved, a soft cry emanating from the mysterious object.

A hand flew up to cover her mouth as the baby erupted into high pitched wails, crying out his loneliness. Heart leaping to lodge within her throat, Kagome rushed forward and gently picked him up, wondering who would be so cruel as to leave a helpless infant alone outside her residence.

The blanket covered half his face and Kagome moved it to the side, taking a closer look at the red faced babe. He continued to cry and Kagome rocked him gently in her embrace, lulling him to silence as his obvious demon aura clashing against hers. It was different from the previous aura she felt, but even if she hadn't, she would have known his heritage from appearance alone with the tiny claws for nails, the wisp of silver hair, and eyes bluer than she had ever seen before - like a heavy layer of ice tinged cyan.

The question was... who did the pup belong to and why had he been abandoned in a human village of all places?

Coddling the pup against her chest, Kagome dropped her sack of medicinal supplies inside her hut before heading towards Kaede's home, knowing that Kaede would be far more knowledgeable than her.

- A -

"What do you mean kidnapped?" Sesshoumaru growled, pink fury tingeing his eyes as he balled his hands into a tight fist, claws digging into his palm.

"I-I-I apologize, Milord!" Jaken squawked, falling to his knees and shaking in pure terror. He hated angering his lord, but it truly hadn't been his fault this time. He had warned the guards repeatedly, taking his lord's words to heart, but somehow, it had still happened, as though the event had been inevitable. "I warned the guards as you instructed, Milord! But the kidnapper still snuck in somehow. P-Please forgive me, Milord!"

Another growl rumbled low in his throat and while he knew that Jaken was not to blame, he still kicked him to the side, releasing some steam from the buildup of anger. Jaken squeaked in pain, but Sesshoumaru had already moved on, having tracked down Masashi by scent to be in his chambers, comforting his distressed mate.

Masashi must have sensed Sesshoumaru's approach because he quickly exited the room as soon as Sesshoumaru arrived, quietly shutting the door behind him.

"Sesshoumaru," he greeted wearily. "You have returned."

"Indeed."

Masashi ran a hand over his face, his mate's haywire emotions washing over his every pore in waves, further agitating his already anxious state.

"What is the situation?" Sesshoumaru asked, not in the mood to make small talk when Suguru's safety hung on the line.

"I have sent what guards I could to scour our lands," Masashi explained. "It occurred last night, but there was no aura, no scent, and therefore, no trail. Even Suguru was completely masked as he was taken from his crib. We are dealing with a professional, Sesshoumaru."

"How is my mother?" He asked, more out of necessity than genuine concern. InuKimi was a strong demoness; she would not be defeated because her pup had been taken. Rather, she would relish in revenge when the culprit was captured.

"Upset as any mother would be," Masashi stated. "She is determined to join the search, but I fear for her safety despite knowing the extent of her power. I do not want her wandering where the youkai could be hiding and using Suguru as bait in order to capture her."

Sesshoumaru nodded, quickly formulating a plan as he turned to leave. "Very well. I will leave our lands and our castle in your hands, Masashi."

"Where are you going?"

"Off Western lands. As a professional, he will know he is most vulnerable on our property."

- A -

"Ye have fallen into a very peculiar situation, indeed," Kaede agreed with a soft grunt as Kagome finished explaining the details of how she had discovered the youkai pup at her door. "It is dangerous for the demon child to remain here. Perhaps that was the intent."

Kagome nodded. "I thought so too. As a miko, it is my duty to destroy youkais as they are supposed threats to humans, but they do not know that I am not like other mikos. He can't stay here, Kaede, but I don't know how to find his pack. There are no clues."

"A strange predicament, indeed," Kaede murmured to herself, staring at the silent infant with her good eye.

As though sensing her judgmental gaze, the pup opened his bowtie mouth and released an anguished wail. Kagome immediately began rocking him, but he only cried louder, fat droplets of his tears sliding down the corner of his eyes.

"No, no, no," Kagome exclaimed, rocking him even faster, eyebrows scrunching in confusion. "Please don't cry."

"Gently, Kagome," Kaede said harshly. "He is fragile. Ye will injure him this way."

She immediately slowed her motions, horrified at the idea that he would get hurt by her hands, but he only continued to cry.

"Milk, my child. He could be hungry."

"Oh," Kagome gasped, frazzled by both her inability to care for him and his shrill howls. "But where?"

"Goat milk will suffice," Kaede instructed. "Leave him with me, but hurry now. We must not leave him hungry for long."

"Right, right," Kagome muttered to herself, carefully passing the bundle into Kaede's waiting arms before dashing out of the hut with an old tin cup taken from the corner shelf.

She returned moments later, panting and out of breath, holding the cup filled half way with milk. It sloshed from side to side as Kagome returned to her place on the floor mat and Kaede handed the hoarse pup back to her. Cradling him carefully in her arms, she raised the cup to his lips and poured a small amount into his mouth, but in her frenzy to silence him, it was still too much.

The pup choked, breath strangled between crying and coughing. Tears sprang into Kagome's eyes in frustration as she gently patted him, uncertainty apparent with her movements.

"Patience. You will learn," Kaede said, watching their interaction.

Taking a deep breath, Kagome tried again and the pup quieted as he happily swallowed the milk she successfully provided. She fed him until he had his fill and followed Kaede's instructions in lifting him to lean against her shoulder as she patted his back. It wasn't long before he fell asleep and she held him closer to her chest, fingers absentmindedly running over the blanket.

Kagome peered down at the resting pup, smiling at how much his silver hair reminded her of Inuyasha and the way she had used to love running her fingers through it. Her eyes widened in realization and her hand stilled. She glanced at the blanket wrapped snugly around the infant, taking in the smattering of crescent moons stitched with care onto the fabric.

Crescent moons.

Silver hair.

Sesshoumaru.

Could he be Sesshoumaru's pup?

Kagome frowned. The last she had heard of him, Sesshoumaru's pack had still only consisted of Rin, that impish toad, and the two headed dragon, but it had also been years since she had last seen or heard of him - since the final battle with Naraku - and it was entirely possible that he could have taken a mate at this point. It was possible that she could be entirely wrong in her assumptions, but this was the only clue she had and it was oddly fitting. It was a chance she had to take for the safety of this innocent pup.

Quickly, she revealed her thoughts to Kaede and her desire to take the pup back to his family, the stirrings of excitement coursing through her.

"It is dangerous for ye to go alone," Kaede said disapprovingly. "Ye are not knowledgeable in the ways of caring for an infant."

Kagome shook her head and smiled. "You can tell me all I need to know before I leave and throughout these years, you have helped me hone my miko abilities. As we've both said, it is dangerous for the pup to remain here. If his family found out, they might think we were the ones to kidnap him. They could attack us and we are already a weak village, still trying to recover from the past. We don't even know what differences there are between a human child and a demon pup. We cannot afford to wait."

Kaede was unable to argue with her valid points. She sighed. "Ye are right. Be safe then, my child, and take a goat with ye for nourishment. Ye must go towards where the sun sets to reach the house of the West."

Kagome nodded, slowly climbing to her feet as to not jostle the sleeping pup. "I will be safe, Kaede. The pup as well. Please do not worry. I will return soon."

She bid Kaede farewell before preparing for her journey. When the sun started to set over the horizon, Kagome began trekking on foot towards the Western lands, the pup comfortably attached to her back with a cloth carrier and a goat leashed to her wrist, hoping her intuition wouldn't lead her in the wrong direction.

- A -

Three weeks of sleepless nights and splitting headaches from Aikito's incessant crying had passed as Kagome made camp again, ready to settle in for the night. The sun would be completely setting soon and Aikito, as she had named him, would be safer if they weren't traveling after dark.

The fire had been started, he had been fed, the goat was grazing on grass, leashed to a tree, and Kagome had slipped into her worn sleeping bag to nibble on some stale bread. All was peaceful for a moment before Aikito began screeching again. She ran a shaking hand through her tangled hair as her headache came back in full force. With a cry of distress, Kagome lifted him up from his makeshift crib, a simple mat, and rocked him. "Please stop crying, Aikito. Please. I'll do anything for a moment of peace."

But he only continued to cry and tears of remorse ran down her cheeks as she sighed. "Am I doing something wrong?" She asked him. "Are you sick? Tired? You can't be hungry, I just fed you. I changed you too. Are you hot then?"

Aikito answered her with an even sharper cry and Kagome felt like screaming. All she wanted was a break, but every night for the past three weeks had been the same and he would cry until he tired himself out and fell asleep. She always feared that he would attract the attention of nearby youkais, but luckily that had not happened - yet. "Please Aikito. I am desperate right now. Can't you just tell me what you want?!"

Suddenly, a tall figure burst through the clearing, cast in dark shadows from surrounding trees. Kagome quickly scrambled to her feet, cuddling teary-faced Aikito to her chest protectively as she backed away. His voice was slightly muffled, but still rang clearly in the stillness of the night. "Hush, Aikito. Please," she murmured.

The figure remained silent but rushed towards her in a burst of demon speed, his aura crackling around her. She felt her powers flaring to life, but quickly quelled it for fear that it would harm the pup. She turned away from the demon, but he was a mere streak of light and she was no match for him as he snatched Aikito out of her arms and returned to his initial position.

"No! Please, no!" Kagome screamed, her throat sore with the force behind her words as she desperately tried to reach for Aikito. Her heart felt like it had stopped, her breath caught, and she blindly ran towards the demon, ready to attack, but then the strangest thing happened.

Aikito fell silent.

She paused mid-lunge and felt her mouth gaping open in shock. A faint rumbling sound met her ears and it didn't take Kagome long to figure out the soothing noise came from the demon holding the pup. Sensing her curious gaze, the figure stepped beneath the moonlight and Kagome gasped.

"Sesshoumaru-sama!"

"What are you doing with Suguru?" He hissed, narrowing his golden eyes at her.

"Suguru?" Kagome asked, confused. Realization dawned upon her a moment later and she smiled. "So you know him then! Is he your pup?"

He didn't answer her question as he continued to stare her down. Completely unfazed now that she knew she was relatively safe, Kagome focused her attention on the pup. "So that's your name, huh? I have to admit it sounds a lot better than Aikito. Is that why you kept crying, because you didn't like the name I gave you?"

Sesshoumaru gave a nearly inaudible snort at her display of absurdity and Kagome turned to him, admonishment dancing in her eyes. "And you; it would have been considerate of you to announce your arrival as to not scare the caretaker of your pup."

"He is my mother's," Sesshoumaru stated flatly, as if that made all the difference.

Her eyes widened in surprise. "Oh, I didn't know she had re-mated."

"Hn."

His hair shone beneath the luminous moonbeams as he spun around, fully prepared to leave and take Suguru back home where he belonged.

"Wait!" Kagome called out and he paused. "Why did Suguru get sent to me?"

Sesshoumaru stiffened before slowly turning back around, the pup now sleeping soundly in his hold. "He was kidnapped by a youkai masking his aura."

"I felt his aura," she blurted out. "I will know it if I sense it again. I can help keep Suguru safe."

His eyes narrowed in consideration of her offer. "Where were you taking him?"

"To you," Kagome answered honestly. "I thought he was your pup. It was the silver hair and the crescent moons on his blanket that gave me the clue, but I wasn't sure. I just wanted him safe."

When Sesshoumaru didn't respond, Kagome continued, "You know what would have happened if he had stayed in my village. You should also know what would have happened if he had been abandoned at another miko's door. I think he is very fortunate."

"Indeed," Sesshoumaru finally said, reaching a decision. "I am certain my mother would like to personally show her gratitude for your considerate behavior regarding the pup. Come along then." He turned in another attempt to leave, only to be stopped by Kagome one again.

"Wait," she said sheepishly.

He whirled around, jostling the pup in his arm. "What?" he growled.

"I... I haven't had a decent night's sleep in three weeks. Can I rest tonight and travel tomorrow? Please?" Kagome pleaded, flustered at having to admit how difficult it had been for her when Suguru had been nothing but well behaved since Sesshoumaru's arrival. "I am sure you've been traveling restlessly in search of Suguru and could use a break as well."

Sesshoumaru reluctantly nodded his agreement before wordlessly finding a spot against the trunk of a large tree beside the fire Kagome had built and sat down, cradling Suguru in the crook of his bent arm. Kagome followed suit as she slipped into her sleeping bag and settled in, but no matter how she tossed and turned, she couldn't get comfortable and she knew why.

Hesitantly, she sat up and stared at Sesshoumaru who chose to ignore her blatant stare.

"Um... Sesshoumaru-sama?"

His eyes, illuminated by the flame, flickered over to her, one eyebrow quirked in question.

"Can... can I hold Suguru? It feels empty without him sleeping beside me and I feel more relaxed knowing that he is safe by my side."

Sesshoumaru sighed at the complexity of this human woman as he stood and approached her, passing the bundle in his arms with care into hers. Kagome breathed a sigh of relief as she held Suguru close to her, not realizing how tense she had been until the moment he was back in her arms. Scooting back into her sleeping bag, she cuddled him in her arms and slept peacefully for the first time since her journey as Suguru remained quiet throughout the entire night.

- A -

Kagome awoke with a start, immediately patting the empty space where Suguru had been sleeping last night. Panic tore through her as she leapt out of her sleeping bag, frantically looking for the oddly quiet pup before spotting him in Sesshoumaru's hold.

Her entire body went limp and she sank to her knees, feeling her heartbeat slowly return to its normal pace upon realizing he was safe. She watched with wonder as Sesshoumaru waved a clawed finger in front of the infant's face, bending it almost playfully while Suguru tried to mimic his movement with his own small fingers. Her eyes roved over the almost relaxed stance of the stoic demon lord and the way the half-siblings auras melded so fluidly with each other.

She stood slowly, testing her legs to ensure they wouldn't buckle with weakness from her near panic attack before approaching them. "Thank you for allowing me rest last night," Kagome began with a small smile as Sesshoumaru looked at her with his impassive face. "If you can spare me a few more moments to eat and clean up the campsite, we can resume our travels."

Sesshoumaru firmly nodded once, his head barely moving in acknowledgement of her request. If she had blinked at the most inopportune time, she would have missed it entirely. Luckily, she noticed the permission given and she smiled at him. "Thank you, Sesshoumaru-sama."

Kagome ate and packed quickly, trying to finish her morning routine before Sesshoumaru grew impatient with her. She didn't want him to leave her behind because she was too slow, but he had more patience toward her than she had previously assumed. Soon enough, they were ready to resume their travel; Suguru in Sesshoumaru's safe grasp and the goat tied to her wrist once more.

They walked mostly in silence, save for the occasional cooing and giggling sounds that came from the growing pup's mouth. At first, Kagome walked behind Sesshoumaru, allowing him to be alpha of their temporary two point five and a goat pack, but as the day wore on, she ended up walking beside him. They traveled without breaks except to feed and change Suguru and even though fatigue wore at her body, Kagome continued, wanting to prove herself as strong and capable despite being human.

When night fell, Kagome set up camp with her usual routine and awoke the next morning still following her schedule and with each day that passed, the routine was repeated. Sometimes she would ask Sesshoumaru a question out of curiosity or boredom and it was always a pleasant surprise when he answered them in his usual flippant tone. Half the time, she thought he would simply ignore her, but he had yet to do so. Their companionship was an oddly comfortable and respectful one as they traveled, slowly growing closer day by day.

They didn't hit their first conflict until approximately two weeks into their travel when mid-conversation, Kagome gasped, her words dying in her throat. She paused and almost wildly, began scanning their surroundings, eyes darting back and forth nervously.

"What is the matter, Kagome?"

"You don't sense that?" She whispered, circling in place as her gaze flitted from tree to tree.

"Sense what?" Sesshoumaru asked, his voice tinged with exasperation at her vague reply.

"The aura. I know it," Kagome explained. "It was the aura I felt outside my home when I found Suguru."

He immediately tensed, passing Suguru to her while using his senses to seek the aura she mentioned, but he felt nothing. "He is still masked," Sesshoumaru growled, fingers curling with tension in preparation to use his dokkaso if necessary. "Where do you sense him?"

Kagome squeezed her eyes shut and concentrated on isolating the aura. When she identified the location, she immediately pointed in the appropriate direction and Sesshoumaru shot off in a blur just as her eyes fluttered open. She stared down at the look of wonder in Suguru's wide eyes and bit her lip nervously as the first grunts of two youkais striking each other reached her ears.

She lifted her gaze in the path Sesshoumaru had disappeared to but was unable to see anything. Kagome was confident that Sesshoumaru would defeat the mastermind behind Suguru's kidnapping, but a part of her was still concerned. What if he sustained injuries during the battle?

Kagome began fretting when the forest became all too quiet, but a scream of fear tore through her as the two figures suddenly crashed into the area she was standing in, fists flying and blood shedding. Startled by the unexpected noises, Suguru began to cry and she hugged him reassuringly, gently patting his back, but his bawling caught the attention of the hissing female youkai.

For the first time, Kagome had a good glimpse of the Neko. Her catlike green eyes glared daggers at both her and Suguru. Her body was lithe and flexible, judging from the way she moved as she fought off each of Sesshoumaru's attacks, her tail swaying in an almost hypnotizing way as she watched Sesshoumaru with calculated glances.

Sesshoumaru swung his claws at her, but she dodged swiftly, using her tail wrapped briefly around his wrist to swing herself across Sesshoumaru's back, lunging at Kagome and the pup. Caught between the flare of her miko powers and the constant fear of injuring Suguru, Kagome locked her purifying ability within herself as she spun the pup away from the direct line of danger. She had no time for anything further before searing pain tore through her shoulder.

Kagome collapsed from the force of the attack, twisting so that she wouldn't land on Suguru while managing to tuck him in close to minimize the jarring impact. She felt the loop on her wrist slipping and heard the faint echoes of her goat's footsteps as he quickly trotted away from danger while Suguru shrieked out his fear in loud howls. Kagome fought through the hazy pain to soothe him with her trembling touch, knowing that the Neko was still there, knowing that this might be the end of her, but also knowing that she still had to keep the pup safe.

"You should have just killed him," the feline youkai hissed from behind, sinking her claws back into Kagome's shoulder. She cried out at the dizzying pain, her stomach rolling with nausea, but in the next moment, the Neko was torn away by an enraged Sesshoumaru.

He roared at the youkai, eyes bleeding red and magenta stripes growing jagged, before sinking his own claws into her, his dokkaso acid eating at her flesh from the inside out. "Our child should have been the heir to your lands. We would have been the most powerful pair," she screeched in between gasps at the corrosion of skin and bones. "But your mother had to get in the way of my plans."

"Your delusional breed disgusts me, Neko," Sesshoumaru snarled. "I would never mate you."

With one last screech, the Neko fell limp and lifeless. Tossing aside the still body, he crouched down beside Kagome and lifted the pup out of her loose arms. Kagome sobbed as waves of pain shot through her body, tears slipping down her face from the unbearable throbbing. Sesshoumaru calmed Suguru before placing him on the floor to tend to Kagome's wounds. He gently turned her onto her stomach, removed her supply sack, and cut open her top with careful fingers, peeling the fabric back to reveal the damage to her flesh, knowing what had to be done in order to save her.

"Do not be surprised," Sesshoumaru murmured, his voice slightly raspy.

The first touch of his tongue over her torn flesh sent an explosion of flavors and sensations to his taste buds as Kagome cried out in pain. He slowly laved at her flesh as she continued to whimper, feeling the wound closing with each upward sweep of his tongue. He could taste the sweetness of her innocence, the bitter of her pain, and the jolt of her purity. It was an intoxicating combination.

Sesshoumaru had never once considered using his saliva to heal anyone before. It had always seemed like a rather intimate gesture, but after Kagome's show of bravery and her commitment in protecting Suguru, it was the least he could do to ease her pain. The idea, when it first occurred, had made him nervous, an emotion he had never felt before, but as he continued his ministrations, it had slowly gave way to something even more worrisome - a tugging of his heart, an ache for the pain she experienced because he had not protected her and Suguru well enough.

He didn't stop until her wounds had fully closed, leaving nothing but a scar that would only fade with time. Sesshoumaru had to force himself to take a step back as Kagome slowly sat up, a light pink dusting her cheeks as she held her top together as best she could. "Th-thank you," she whispered, voice catching.

"Hn," Sesshoumaru grunted, but it didn't carry the usual detachment as he scooped the pup into his arms and turned, giving Kagome the privacy she needed to change into another top.

"I lost the goat...," Kagome stated softly a few moments later and Sesshoumaru looked at her, eyes trailing from her face to her clean shirt and back up again. Her hand grasped at the strap of her carrier bag so tightly, her knuckles were white.

"But you are now safe," he stated.

"Suguru will be hungry soon," Kagome explained. "I will have nothing to feed him."

Sesshoumaru closed his eyes as he exhaled sharply, knowing what he had to do, but not at all prepared for the emotions it invoked at the mere idea of it. When he opened them again, the intensity of his gaze startled her. Wordlessly, he approached her and pulled her flush against him by the waist, a gasp of surprise escaping between Kagome's lips. Losing the goat was for the best, allowing Sesshoumaru to use his abilities in order to travel faster. Suguru rested between them as he formed his cloud at his feet and lifted them up in the air, traveling to his castle as fast as the cloud could take them.

The silence this time; however, was not at all comfortable. In a simple twist of events, something had changed between them.

- A -

They landed at the gates to Sesshoumaru's castle two hours after Suguru began his relentless crying to be fed. Sesshoumaru had been rather calm throughout the entire ordeal, to the immense surprise of Kagome who had a splitting headache. With his sensitized hearing, she wondered how he had been able to bear it for so long but decided against questioning him. What was important was bringing the pup to his mother for feeding.

As soon as the guards noticed their lord, the gates were swiftly pulled open and Masashi met him on the other side, having scented both Sesshoumaru's arrival and Suguru's presence. He immediately reached for his son and held him close, appraising Kagome with curiosity, but more concerned with the relief washing over him at having his pup safely back in his arms, but despite cuddling against his father, Suguru kept weeping.

"What is wrong with him, Sesshoumaru?"

"He is hungry, my lord," Kagome interjected, not wanting to waste anymore time. "I apologize, but I lost the goat used to feed him his milk. It is imperative that he is fed quickly."

"Of course," Masashi agreed, quickly taking Suguru to his mate while leaving an odd but vacant hole in Kagome's heart as she watched the pup disappear from her view.

"Come," Sesshoumaru instructed. "I will have Jaken show you to your chambers."

With an emptiness she wasn't accustomed to, she followed Sesshoumaru into his home before allowing Jaken to guide her to her room. Once alone, Kagome laid down on the comfortable futon and blankly stared at the ceiling until she drifted off to sleep.

- A -

Sesshoumaru frowned at the silence that seemed to echo from Kagome's room. It was past noon and though she must have been exhausted from the duration of her journey, there still should have been some signs of movement. Concerned that perhaps something was wrong, though he would never admit it out loud, he paused outside her door.

Almost hesitantly, he knocked, but there was no response. He knocked again with more force, but all was still as it had been the entire night. Had she slipped away unnoticed? With a quick turn of the knob, Sesshoumaru stepped inside, eyes immediately drawn to the figure lying in bed.

He quietly approached her bedside and looked at her, eyebrows shooting up in surprise as she stared back at him. Something was very wrong. Her eyes were glassy and dazed, not at all sparkling with emotions as he was accustomed to.

"Kagome."

She blinked.

"Are you ill?"

"...I feel kind of cold," she whispered slowly, her voice scratchy. "Empty."

"I do not understand," Sesshoumaru admitted, but she didn't respond. He waited but she didn't speak again.

With a stifled sigh, he left the room, shutting the door behind him.

- A -

Sesshoumaru checked on Kagome a few hours later with the same results. He didn't know what kind of illness caused desolation and coldness. He couldn't understand what she meant by it being too quiet. She had cried silent tears, but he didn't know how to cure her.

He paced in his office, not wishing to disturb his mother and Masashi during their reunion with their pup. At the very least, he knew that time was reserved solely for the three of them. He would not interrupt with questions regarding the issues he could face himself.

A knock sounded at his door and he called for them to enter, pausing when Rin came in and closed the door behind her. "Sesshoumaru-sama," she greeted respectfully, a smile on her face. "You have returned. I was only just informed."

"I arrived last night with Kagome," Sesshoumaru said.

Her face lit up with excitement as she rushed towards him, still very much like a child despite her age. "Lady Kagome is here? May I see her? Oh, I haven't seen her in such a long time!"

He hesitated for a moment. "She is... ill."

Rin's crestfallen face tugged at his heart, but it could not be helped. Kagome's behavior was odd and he did not wish for Rin to see her like that. Kagome was a woman filled with life, lying dejected on a bed was not what she was meant to be.

"How so, Sesshoumaru-sama?"

He found himself describing Kagome's odd symptoms to her, hoping that maybe Rin would be more knowledgeable than he, seeing as they were both human and both woman. Sure enough, Rin laughed softly when he fell silent. "Sesshoumaru-sama, she's not ill. She probably just misses Suguru."

He quirked an eyebrow in a silent demand for an explanation.

"Lady Kagome has essentially become Suguru's mother for the past moon cycle. If he was suddenly torn out of her life, if he was suddenly no longer there after constantly being in her presence, I am sure she would miss him tremendously."

Sesshoumaru thought about her statement and slowly began to realize that perhaps Rin was correct. He had only spent two weeks in her presence, but he had already become accustomed to her chatter, her laughter, and her refreshing take on life. Now that she was only a shell of the woman she once was, Sesshoumaru longed to get the real Kagome back. Wasn't it the same in the end, what Kagome was going through for the pup and what he was experiencing with her?

Kagome's motherly instincts must have been strong and Sesshoumaru knew in that moment that she would make a fine mother some day in the future. He suppressed a sigh. "I believe you are right, Rin, but what am I to do?"

Rin wanted to smile, but she didn't want to offend her lord. He had never asked for her opinion or for her help before. It felt nice to be needed, especially by someone she deemed a father figure. It also showed how much Sesshoumaru cared for Kagome, even if he hadn't realized it himself yet, but she had a feeling that at some point, maybe soon, he would.

"Perhaps spend time with her, Sesshomaru-sama? Do not let her be alone."

- A -

 

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