Increase Text Size Decrease Text Size Divider Print This Chapter Divider

Eternal Rest by Serena530

Chapter 1

Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha or his characters, and have no right to it except as a long time fan.

Eternal Rest

She was having one of those days again.

It wasn't really surprising. It had been coming on for a few days now. She was so tired and wanted to sleep all the time. In fact, she was sleeping as much as she could, which wasn't much considering who she was traveling with. Needless to say it wasn't nearly enough.

She was slow to start her days, and barely ate anything. Her appetite was gone and she only nibbled on things so no one would ask why she wasn't eating. She cared less about all the things she used to care about. Well, she should actually say she cared less about forcing herself to care. She was barely keeping up the appearance of caring.

She thought the only one of the group to notice was her little Shippo. Well, and possibly Kirara. The fire neko was spending more time with her than usual, and, if she didn't know better, following her around.

Kagome would have thought it sad that a kit and a neko that couldn't talk had noticed something was wrong with her, but she just didn't care and didn't have the energy to try.

And the weather isn't helping. Came the morose thought.

Snow covered the land around them, everywhere except the merry fire burning in the middle of their camp. Everyone but Inuyasha had a sleeping bag. Kirara shared with Sango when she felt like being close to the young woman, and Shippo shared with her since he was too small for one of his own and liked to share hers in any case.

Miroku had his own and he slept close to Sango, and Inuyasha didn't want one preferring to sleep in trees and distinguish himself from the weak pathetic ningens he traveled with.

Her sleeping bag was keeping her warm and Shippo's little body snuggled up to her helped to keep them both warm. It should have been enough to ease her into sleep. She was definitely tired enough, but she was fighting it. She would sleep soon enough, but not there in the comfort of her warm sleeping bag.

They shouldn't even be out in this weather, but of course Inuyasha insisted on continuing the hunt. He always got his way since no one wanted to argue with him. She herself had stopped a long time ago. No longer caring or having the energy to do so.

It wasn't always this way. Kagome thought as she gazed into the flickering fire. She wasn't always this way. She was happy, cheerful, and full of life. Even after she fell down the well and encountered all manner of danger she had managed to keep that aspect of herself.

But then she fell in love with an Inu hanyou and was treated to his verbal abuse. She hadn't thought of it as verbal abuse at first, just thinking it was the way he spoke, but it dawned on her after witnessing him speak kindly, nearly reverently, to Kikyou that that's what it was.

The constant degrading names, being told she was weak, useless, stupid, and more began to wear on her. The deep love she felt for Inuyasha began to fade, but her promise to always remain by his side kept her chained to her abuser.

So she endured. Told herself that she had Shippo to take care of and her friends, not to mention she needed to fix what she had broken and needed to put the Shikon jewel back together.

But as time passed it seemed everything was her fault. Inuyasha continued to degrade her and take out his anger and frustrations on her, and Sango and Miroku began to follow suit.

She needed to stay back from fights because she was weak and didn't have training. Her arrows wouldn't help her or them. She would just get in the way and be in danger of being kidnapped. She couldn't sense spiritual energies so she wouldn't sense traps. She couldn't control the minimal amount of reiki she had.

Kagome could sense the jewel shards but she had shattered the jewel in the first place. It was her fault Naraku was so powerful, her fault Sango's village had been attacked and her family dead, and her fault Inuyasha and Miroku couldn't get their vengeance.

She was embarrassing with her futuristic clothing, making people think she was a whore. They didn't say the word but she knew that's what they meant, especially when they looked at her a certain way.

However, despite their complaints and verbal abuse they had no problem telling her what they wanted her to bring back from her time. They had no problem relying on her for food, items to keep them cool in the heat and warm in the cold.

It seems like that's all they think I'm good for. Sensing jewel shards and providing for them.

They didn't even need her to find the jewel shards. Kikyou was around and she could still sense them despite her resurrected state. She knew it was what Inuyasha wanted anyway. To replace her with Kikyou so he could be with the one he wanted and get the vengeance he wanted.

After all, Kikyou was more powerful, trained, and knew how to conduct herself in that time without drawing attention to herself.

The only one who seemed to enjoy her company and wanted her for more than what she could do for them was her little Shippo. He cared for her and was happy just being around her.

Now here she was out in the middle of nowhere, in the freezing snow, and so very very tired. She was with a group of people using her who barely had a kind word for her, not even a thank you when she brought things back from her time. It was like they expected nothing less.

Only Shippo, her little kit, had kind words for her. Only he seemed pleased with her presence. Only he thought she was good at anything, and she hated that it wasn't enough. Hated that she was weak, too weak to be what he needed. She hated that she was going to be a disappointment to him, but she could not stop herself.

She was too tired. She was just too tired.

She needed it all to stop; needed to rest; needed to sleep.

Kagome looked around slowly. Her eyes landed on Kirara first. The one who would be the major obstacle to her rest. She was snuggled up with Sango who was holding her tightly. Of course she hadn't missed the anger and jealousy when Sango noticed Kirara paying so much attention to her.

That hadn't really stopped Kirara at first, but she thought the little neko noticed Sango's aggression toward her and pulled back for that reason. In any case they both appeared deeply asleep and their aura's said likewise.

Miroku was deeply under as well, which was very good. She didn't want to deal with his stare if he woke and saw what she was up to. She knew he would be angry that she was risking herself and that it would mean them having to go get her. They didn't like having to waste time rescuing her after all.

She didn't even have to look at Inuyasha to know that he was out cold. His aura was calm and she knew from experience that when he had a full stomach and deemed the area safe he slept deeply. By his strange logic it was safe because nothing would be out in this weather. Themselves not included.

That left her little kit. She looked down and saw that he was also deeply asleep, warm and safe in her arms. She was going to disappoint him, but he would be safe. She carefully pulled a necklace she had made over her head and slipped it over his head. She watched as it glowed gently before shrinking to fit him.

She merely blinked at the sight. Glad that he would be protected from those who would hurt him even when she was no longer around.

Kagome slowly and carefully eased out of the sleeping bag, and quickly closed it back up, keeping in the warmth for Shippo as her last act as his mother figure.

Part of her didn't want to leave him, didn't want to make him lose another mother, but the other part knew that she was no longer in a condition to take care of him. Her mind was no longer right and she didn't care enough to fix it.

She looked around one more time to be sure no one had woke up then walked off into the snow covered trees in nothing but her pajamas and socks. She walked and walked, snow wetting her socks and chilling her feet as she moved through the trees, shivering in the cold.

She knew it would be terribly cold with no protection from the harsh element, but she knew that the colder she became the more tired she would get and she would eventually fall asleep and not wake up. It was the quickest and least painful way she could think of considering they were in the wilderness.

Kagome continued on through the dark night until she couldn't go any further.

She collapsed to the ground with a groan and crawled further, the freezing snow stinging her hands, and when she couldn't do that anymore she pulled herself to the base of a tree and automatically curled up, trying to keep in warmth even though she mentally welcomed the cold.

=oOo=

Sesshomaru walked along his path, unbothered by the cold, as he patrolled his land and made sure none threatened what was his. Rin and Jaken were at his home, out of danger and safe from the unpredictable weather. Both were too small to travel safely with him, and he had wanted the time alone anyway.

For some reason his beast was restless, and therefore he was restless. Patrolling his lands was really only an excuse for him to get out and try to ease his agitation since anything that could possibly be a threat was busy staying out of the elements.

He reached a wooded area and felt his beast come to attention. That alertness alone told him his beast knew what they were looking for. So he easily merged with his beast, his eyes bleeding red, and let him guide their movements.

They moved swiftly, all their senses on high alert, as his beast searched. Suddenly they paused as they sensed others in the area. He narrowed his eyes and focused on the auras, and found it was the half-breed's pack. They were all asleep, but he and his beast realized almost instantly that one was missing.

The miko. His beast rumbled.

Sesshomaru hadn't seen the miko in months. In fact, he hadn't seen any of the group in that time. Not since he decided he was done trying to get the Tessagia and therefore done with Inuyasha. His father had deemed the sword necessary for the half-breed to keep his father's powerful blood from taking over, and he was fine with that, and had no reason to see the half-breed or any in his group ever again.

He and his beast moved toward the sleeping pack, taking in the lack of any defense disapprovingly, and silently moved in close to see if the miko was simply not traveling with them since even he knew she didn't have the training to mask her aura. He noticed her strange yellow bag was there and her strange sleeping roll with the small kit inside, and he grew more agitated then before.

They searched the area and eventually found footprints that were just visible, the fresh snow fall nearly concealing them, and followed them. The prints disappeared after a few dozen feet, and he continued in the direction they would've gone, his beast guiding him.

His red eyes flickered here and there, searching for footprints and the young woman herself, only to see small snow piles gathered around trees and drifting further into the path, beginning to obscure it. As he moved passed a larger mound it shifted and snow trickled from the top down.

Sesshomaru paused and stepped back before he knelt and cautiously began brushing away the snow. His eyes widened as he uncovered a small body. Further effort revealed it to be the miko. He had nearly walked passed her, and only her shivering had gave away her presence.

He and his beast took in her stiff hair, pale face, slightly blue lips, and thin nightwear. It didn't take much to realize she was freezing to death.

I do not want her to die. He and his beast thought in unison.

Sesshomaru wouldn't deny that he had tried to kill her on multiple occasions, but that was because she was always interfering in his business with the half-breed. Had it not been for that he would have ignored her.

Still, she had survived his attempts, which was an impressive feat since what he wanted dead usually died, and she deserved to live for that. He also respected her for her power and loyalty. She wasn't trained by any means, but he could sense the depth of her power, and he had seen her loyalty time and time again. Although, it went without saying that her loyalty was wasted on the half-breed she bestowed it on so readily.

Why is the miko out here? The thought suddenly occurred to him.

Bring her home. His beast rumbled, his restlessness having faded once she was found.

Sesshomaru narrowed his eyes at his beasts' words, his eyes watching as a feeble shiver trembling along her body. His words had merit. He would have to do something if he wanted her to live. His instincts instantly rebelled against returning her to her group, unwilling to do so without the answer to why she was freezing in the snow and the rest were slumbering peacefully, and she needed to be alive if he was going to have his question answered.

He nodded slightly and gently scooped her body into his arms becoming instantly dismayed at how light she was. He wasn't at all used to carrying ningen around, but he knew she should be heavier with her height. She felt almost lighter than Rin.

She obviously is not eating as she should. She should not be out in this weather in her condition. The cold, and the traveling she must be doing alone, would be death of her. He thought as he wrapped his fur around her chilled body.

He made sure she was covered completely and began to hurry back home. He went to the center of his lands and flared his youki in a specific pattern. A few feet in front of him the air swirled in a circle before a gateway appeared and opened. He stepped inside and into a landscape that looked no different than the lands he had just been in. It was covered in snow and frozen, but there were no wild youkai and destructive ningen and evil hanyou.

It was wild and untamed and completely beautiful. It was the true western lands.

No one on the outside knew about the true west or where he lived except his mother. She knew of it, but couldn't get to it because she was not Lord of the West and wasn't welcome in any case. Even Inuyasha wasn't aware of the place. His mother had never known of it and therefore couldn't tell him. Even if he did know he wouldn't be able to find it let alone enter the untamed land.

Sesshomaru took to his youki cloud and traveled over the land quickly until he reached his home. It was a large single level shiro built on top of a hill and purposefully around a large hot spring. It was his private hot spring, but he had arranged it so that it forked off in two directions to make two smaller ones inside the shiro.

He lived with his small pack of Rin, Ah-Un, and Jaken. He also had a few trusted servants, youkai and hanyou, that lived there, and took care of his home when he wasn't in residence and cooked for Rin.

He landed in the medium sized courtyard and walked through the closest door. It was late so Rin was asleep and Jaken was mercifully elsewhere, so things would remain quiet; not that he believed the imp's screeches would wake the miko in her condition.

He moved toward his hot spring and once inside he lay her on the floor, removed his fur, and stripped her of her thin clothing. He frowned as he took in just how thin she was. Her ribs were showing, her legs and arms were thinner than they were the last time he had seen her in her indecent green and white clothes, and the bones in her face were visible.

Pulling his own clothes off quickly he lifted her and eased into the heated water. He made sure to lower head just enough to wet her hair and scalp, and used his hand to gently bathe her face. Once her skin began to gain some color he stood and lifted her out of the water. He dried them both off and carried her out to a room across the hall and pulled the covers back and placed her in the bed.

He quickly lit a fire in the specially designed fireplace and tended it until it was going strong. He then climbed under the covers and joined the miko in bed curling around her and making sure he was pressed flush against her. He knew this method was the quickest way to warm up a being that was close to freezing.

A few hours passed and when he noticed she was starting to sweat he removed himself from the bedding, deeming her warm enough to not need his aid any longer.

=oOo=

Kagome woke up, lying on something soft and comfortable, her body incredibly warm. It was a nice feeling but it let her know she had not succeeded in obtaining her eternal rest.

She didn't understand what happened. She remembered collapsing to the ground, too cold and weak to continue, and curling up next to a tree. She remembered the freezing cold, how much it hurt against her skin, and remembered slowly falling asleep; helpless against the pull yet completely willing.

She clearly wasn't in the snow anymore and she was still feeling tired all around so she couldn't be dead. She knew that if she wanted to figure out where she was she needed to open her eyes, but she found she didn't care and her curiosity wasn't nearly enough to inspire her eyelids to struggle open.

So she let her mind drift and eventually slipped back to sleep, exhausted and aided by the warmth surrounding her.

_________________________________________

The next time Kagome woke she was still tired, which wasn't surprising, and she rolled onto her side to go back to sleep in the comfort and warmth she was surrounded in. She vaguely wondered where she was, but still didn't care enough to open her eyes and find out.

"You are awake." She suddenly heard a deep masculine voice comment. The voice was vaguely familiar and she struggled to open her eyes. Everything was blurry and she slowly blinked again and again until her vision cleared.

Sitting in a chair next to her bed was a beautiful youkai, which she'd only been able to tell he was a youkai by his appearance since she wasn't trying to sense anything, and a familiar youkai at that though he was dressed differently than the times she had seen him.

He wore black hakama, gold gi, and a black kosode with a pattern of gold leaves blowing across it. She was slightly surprised by that since she thought he always wore his white silk with the red honeycomb design.

"Sesshomaru-sama." She said respectfully in a soft barely there tone.

"Miko." He greeted her in return. "How are you feeling?"

"Tired." Kagome answered with a weary sigh.

"Are you in any pain?" He asked.

"No." She said and he nodded.

"Besides nearly freezing to death you appear to be fine. You are lucky there is no damage to your limbs." He said.

Kagome made a noncommittal sound and closed her eyes, wanting to sleep regardless of the dangerous cold hearted youkai Lord in her presence. She was almost asleep when she heard his voice again.

"Why were you out in the snow miko instead of with your pack?" Sesshomaru asked.

She opened her eyes and looked at him before her gaze drifted away. She took in the spacious room with its light wood walls and doors that made it look like a room from her time. There was even an actual fireplace with a merry fire crackling and lighting up the room. She looked closer to where she lay and realized she was lying on a raised bed covered in silk sheets and heavy furs.

"I wanted to sleep." She finally said as she looked back to him. "I was so tired, tired of everything, and just wanted to sleep."

Sesshomaru's brow creased ever so slightly as he frowned. She went out into the snow to sleep? She left the safety her pack, as dubious as it was, in thin clothing to sleep in the snow?

His eyes widened slightly, and just like that he understood. She had wanted to fall asleep and not wake up.

He didn't understand why she would want to die. He didn't really know her, but from the little he had seen she was friendly, cheerful, and always smiling. She was surrounded by those she considered friends, her pack, and the kit she cared for. She was always in the company of the one she obviously held affection for, though even he knew that those feelings weren't returned the way they should be.

Did something change since I last encountered the half-breed's pack? He wondered. It had to be drastic to cause the miko to want to end her life. It was probably more than one thing to drive her toward this end. He considered thoughtfully as he eyed her.

He remembered her practically emaciated body, and even now he could see the dark smudges under her eyes, the dull look in her eyes where there had once been a fierce fire.

"Why did you bring me here? Why didn't you let me sleep?" Kagome asked and he looked at her as his beast whined pitifully.

"I did not want you to die." Sesshomaru answered simply.

=oOo=

As the days passed Sesshomaru thought long and hard on how to help the miko as it was clear from her own words and his observations that she had given up on life. He eventually decided he needed more information. He needed to know how she had gotten to this point, so he was going to go visit her group.

He made sure she was comfortable and left her room, where he had been stationed since he brought her to his home, and went to inform Rin and Jaken. His pack was aware of her presence, but he wanted to make sure they didn't disturb her. He informed them that he was leaving for a while and that they were both to stay away from the miko.

He knew she usually wouldn't mind Rin's presence since she was a child and the miko was always kind toward children, but her mind wasn't in the right place and it would just make Rin unhappy when the miko didn't react the way she expected.

Both his pack mates agreed to stay away from her, but he returned to her room and placed a barrier anyway since Rin had a habit of disobeying him and convincing herself that it was alright.

Once he had the protective measure in place he left, traveling outside the true west on his youki cloud, toward the area he had last seen the half-breed and his pack.

They had obviously moved from their camp in the intervening days, but he still managed to find them despite the snow that had fallen. The half-breed's aura and the monk's spiritual power were easy to sense.

Sesshomaru masked his own aura and scent and moved stealthily toward their camping site in the fading daylight. Just because he had decided to pay the small pack a visit didn't mean they would know he was there.

As he got within visual range he could see that everything with the group was normal. They appeared to have just finished making their camp, and were beginning to cook their meal. He thought it was outrageous of them to be traveling in that weather, especially with a kit with them.

And the kit is the only one of them that looks troubled. He thought before he shifted his gaze away to the older members of the pack.

He watched as the taijiya dug around in the strange bag the miko usually had with her the few times he had seen her. She had clearly left it behind since she knew she wouldn't need it where she had been going.

He watched for a while and it became clear that they were using the miko's belongings without a care. There was no hesitation or wondering if she would need those things when they found her. In fact, it didn't even look like they were looking for her. There was no anxiousness, no concern for the cold elements beyond how it would affect them, no plans being discussed for locating her the next day; nothing.

Sesshomaru sensed the approach of a lesser youkai and watched as a glowing serpent like creature slithered through the air toward the pack. He easily recognized it as a soul collector. It began to move away and the half-breed was out of his perch in the tree and following after it. He followed them stealthy and soon found himself watching the half-breed and the dead priestess hugging.

He wrinkled his nose disgusted with the display. How could the half-breed stand her stench?! With the air fresh and crisp with snow it was extremely strong. Then he grimaced slightly as they kissed. He didn't want to imagine what that felt like, but he couldn't help it. It had to be a cold, probably hard, sensation, and he couldn't understand how the whelp could engage in such an act with one that was an animated dead body.

He pressed his lips together and quietly moved away and back toward the pack, having seen enough of the pair. He had assumed from their obvious displays when in each other's presence that the half-breed and the miko would eventually become mates, but that had either changed or despite their displays it was never going to happen.

From what he knew of the miko he thought it was likely the half-breed going after the dead priestess as the reason why they had never become mates. He didn't know if the whelp had been trying to have them both or if he was trying to keep the miko attached to him without giving anything in return, and he decided it didn't really matter.

What matters is that his behavior likely contributed to her mental downward spiral. He thought as he moved silently through the woods.

Sesshomaru made it back to visual range of the camp and gazed at the pack members with narrowed eyes. He had no idea what part they played but considering their current behavior he was positive they had in fact played a part.

His eyes landed on the kit and he corrected himself. The kit was only a child and wouldn't be part of what sent her down that path. He appeared sad, sitting away from the taijiya and houshi, toying with something around his neck.

His eyes moved to the neko that sat at the kits side and wondered if the little female had a part in the miko's wish for eternal rest or if she too was saddened by her absence.

Either way he now had part of the information he sought. The older members of the pack had played a part in the miko's current condition. He would have to get her to speak with him to learn how extensive that part was, and what else had factored into her condition.

He eyed the kit once more before he turned and silently left the area.

=oOo=

Sesshomaru was once again in the room he had placed the miko in watching her sleep as he sat at her bedside. He had feed her minuscule portions of soup over the few days that had passed since he returned from his visit to the half-breed's pack. He noted that she hadn't seemed to care that he was personally feeding her, and he got the feeling she was only eating what he gave her because he was literally in her face and didn't have the will to protest.

He had decided that she needed to be stronger before he questioned her, and besides that before any questioning started he needed to figure out what role he wished to play in her life; otherwise the questions would be for mere curiosity alone.

He didn't want her to die and there was no question that he was going to help restore her health, but he needed to decide what form that help took and what would happen after she was back to the way he remembered her.

The miko used to be happy, bright, and full of life. She was loyal and protected her friends and those in need of help, and she was motherly toward the kit she traveled with. And that was what he noticed from being on the periphery. He knew she was powerful and unafraid to stand up to those more powerful than her.

He respected her for all those things, especially her courage in the face of his attempts to kill her. For those things alone she deserved to live and not fade away as if she had never existed.

Then there was the fact that she had caught his attention. Ningens didn't usually attract his attention, but in the last few months two had accomplished the feat. Rin because of her innocence and extreme loyalty, and the miko because of her loyalty, fearlessness, and uniqueness.

He had rewarded Rin's unquestionable loyalty by claiming her as his ward and was well on his way to considering her his daughter in all but blood. He was unsure how he would handle the miko gaining his attention.

Beyond that there had been his and his beasts' restlessness the night he discovered the miko in the snow. He remembered back on his beasts' alertness. He had known what he was looking for, and had calmed immediately once they had found the miko. His beast had also been the one to suggest they bring her home or rather told him to bring her to his home.

Despite his beast being the one to say it he had agreed easily. He hadn't wanted her to die and didn't want to return her to the group she traveled with. It was clear that he had had an affinity for the miko before he found her, an affinity his beast had been aware of an accepted.

Sesshomaru blinked and paused his thought; something suddenly occurring to him as he gazed at the sleeping female.

Is she the one you have chosen? He asked his beast. An inu youkai's beast was always the one that chose their mate, not the youkai themselves. The beast had a better perspective to work with, and wasn't distracted by outside influences that its other side would be affected by.

Yes. His beast answered instantly, rumbling in a serious tone. I was first interested by her strange appearance, and from there I watched each and every interaction you had with her. I was impressed by her fearlessness of us, her courage, her loyalty, her uniqueness, her caring and protective nature, and the fact that she is clearly not prejudiced against our species. I want to know more about her. I want to know what it is like to have a real conversation with her, and I want her loyalty.

Sesshomaru nodded slowly to himself, understanding completely now that he knew. With that revelation from his beast he knew that his beast never would have allowed him to kill the miko, which is why he had never succeeded.

His beast wanted the miko, had chosen her as his life mate, so all he could do was get to know her. The affection would come in time, but first he needed to get her healthy. Not just physically but mentally as well.

With his beasts choice he now knew he would be very involved in helping her, and hopefully along the way she would gain feelings for him. Because with his beasts' choice he knew there would be no other for him.

=oOo=

Sesshomaru started slow in his care of the miko. He bundled her up in warm furs to keep her warm, hand fed her himself, and read her interesting scrolls. He held her in his lap like a child, like he did for Rin when she used to have nightmares, and talked to her to keep her awake and aware. He told her exactly where she was and all about the western lands, and began to tell her a little about himself and his life through the years.

With his careful and considerate actions Kagome eventually began to slowly tell him about herself and what drove her to her depression.

She told him of her being from the future, what her life was like there, and how everything changed when she was pulled down a well on her family shrine. How she had found Inuyasha pinned to the tree and was forced to release him or be killed by the youkai that pulled her down the well in the first place.

She described dealing with Inuyasha trying to kill her because he thought she was Kikyou, and learning she was the reincarnation of the same woman. The Shikon jewel being ripped from her body and being shattered, and learning that Inuyasha wanted it to become a full youkai.

She went on to describe meeting Shippo and taking him into her care. Kikyou's resurrection, the missing piece of her soul because of it, and the constant pain because of the missing piece. And finally meeting Miroku and later on Sango.

Kagome continued on saying that Sesshomaru knew how Inuyasha spoke; that his language was something she was used to, but as time went on he focused it more on her and his language grew mean, derogatory, and insulting. After Miroku and Sango were with them for a while they seemed to start doing the same thing.

They all began to push her away, making her stay out of fights, telling her she would be useless and just get in the way. She couldn't sense spiritual energies and couldn't control the little reiki she had.

They even had a problem with the way she dressed. She was an embarrassment to them because they thought she dressed like a whore. They never said it but their expressions said it for them.

They all began to blame her for everything. She shattered the jewel so it was her fault Naraku was so powerful, her fault Sango's village was destroyed, and her fault they couldn't get their revenge.

Despite all that, despite how useless and embarrassing they thought she was, it didn't stop them from telling her what to bring back from her time. It didn't stop them from relying on her for food, items to keep them warm, and items to keep them cool.

It got to the point where she wondered why she was even there. The only thing they seemed to need her for was the different things she brought from her time and sensing the jewel shards. Even then she thought they didn't need her for that because Kikyou could do that as well. She was the one who was powerful, trained to use her powers, and knew how to fight.

Sesshomaru listened to it all, slowly gaining an understanding of the miko and what drove her to want death over life. Pushing aside for the time being that she was from another time. It seemed not all was as right with the unusual pack as he thought.

It appeared that as time passed they all started to focus their frustrations on the miko and it escalated from there. His earlier thoughts about the kit and neko had been right. She didn't mention them so they were obviously innocent of any wrong doing toward her.

Beyond that he was disgusted that the adults of the pack were using her despite their apparent issues with her. He had seen the strange rolls they slept in and knew that despite their look they must have been adequate to keep them warm or they wouldn't have used them while traveling in the snow.

He had also seen them using the things inside her strange yellow bag. She may have brought them from her time but common sense told him that those things weren't free. She had to have paid for them.

Sesshomaru didn't usually care what other people did with their time or belongings, but the miko was someone his beast had chosen and whom he respected. She had obviously spent time getting those items she brought for the half-breed and ningens to use, and if she didn't then likely her family did. Especially considering she spent most of her time in this time with the half-breed.

The money for those items was likely coming out of her family finances. He wasn't sure how things worked in the future or how much money the miko and her family had, but regardless that money that could be used for her family was being used for the ungrateful group.

Then there was the half-breed constantly comparing her to the dead priestess. Allowing her to walk around with a piece of her soul missing, and taking her feelings for granted. Actually he did more than take her for granted; he used her.

He knew how she felt and gave her just enough affection to keep her thinking or rather hoping that he felt the same and just didn't express his feelings well. He allowed her feelings to develop as far as they did. He wouldn't go so far as to say the half-breed did it to help keep her around, but that eventually became a benefit.

Sesshomaru held in a sigh as he looked to the woman in his arms.

"Why did you stay with them?" He asked.

"I broke the Shikon jewel. It's my responsibility to collect the pieces and put it back together, but I can't do it on my own. I'm not strong enough." Kagome answered. "Besides that, I promised Inuyasha I would stay by his side, and I had Shippo to take care of and my friends to help."

Sesshomaru closed his eyes briefly before he opened them again. The miko was definitely damaged if she was still thinking of those ningens as her friends. Her promise to the half-breed was foolish, but it had been made when she had feelings for him and likely before he became verbally abusive. At least verbally abusive toward her.

Her responsibility to the jewel he could understand, and something he would definitely help her with once she was better.

"Why are you caring for me? Why are you trying to make me better? What do you hope to gain?" Kagome asked quietly, not understanding why the cold youkai Lord was being kind to her.

"I want you to get better. I respect you and believe you do not deserve the end you were trying to achieve." He answered. "Beyond that, my beast chose you."

"What do you mean your beast chose me?" She asked with a frown, and watched as his eyes suddenly shifted from gold to red as his youki spiked.

"Since our very first meeting you gained my attention. I watched you closely through each preceding encounter with my other half." She heard him say, his voice taking on a growl. She understood then that his beast was actually the one speaking to her now.

"I enjoyed what I saw of your behavior; I liked that you were not afraid of me or my other half. I appreciated your loyalty even though I believe it was misplaced for the most part; I liked that you cared for and protected the kit even though he was not of your blood, and I definitely like your uniqueness. You, miko, are one of a kind."

"I want your uniqueness for myself. I want you to be my mate." He stated as he gazed at her. "I have chosen you out of every female we have ever come across. There will be no other for me."

Kagome took his words seriously but was unsure and hesitant what with what she went through with Inuyasha. The last thing she wanted was to end up dealing with that type of behavior from another male. Especially since she and Inuyasha didn't actually have a relationship beyond their supposed friendship.

And she didn't know much about Sesshomaru aside from the fact that he was Inuyasha's older half-brother, and the things he had told her of since her stay with him began.

Eventually Sesshomaru and his beast managed to convince her to give him a chance; explaining that not all youkai and hanyou were like the half-breed. They would show her how she should be treated by a male who appreciated her.

For the next few weeks afterward Sesshomaru and his beast incorporated their courtship into Kagome's healing. They made sure that the basics were handled; that she stayed warm, ate enough, and got exercise. Beyond that they talked to her, read to her, and provided her scrolls to read.

=oOo=

As Kagome's health and mindset improved Sesshomaru asked her if she wanted to see her family and spend time with them, and she declined, saying that she didn't want them to see her the way she was.

He respected her decision and could understand why she wouldn't want them to see her in such a weak state with her personality so altered.

Eventually he decided to go retrieve the kit as a surprise for Kagome since she was doing much better then she was and he thought with the kit she saw as hers she would heal quicker. It would also hopefully make her happy since she couldn't see her family beyond the well.

The miko was taking what she called a nap, so he decided to leave at that point, positive he would be back when she woke or at least not long after. He found the half-breed's group close to the forest named after the half-breed, and saw with disgust that there was an addition to the group.

_________________________________________

Shippo sat by himself next to a tree watching the others he found himself traveling with as they stopped for a short break. After Kagome disappeared things had gone downhill as far as he was concerned.

He realized after a few days, after her disappearance, that they weren't looking for Kagome. Then a few days later Kikyou joined the group.

He'd been particularly upset about that, and let everyone know it. Sango and Miroku didn't seem to like her appearance, but they accepted it without a word. He'd separated himself from the group after that; staying with them because he couldn't go off on his own without fear of being attacked, but he didn't join in talks, what little talk there was, and slept close to the fire but apart from them.

Shippo kept Kagome's bag with him, though he could only get it after they used all her food and bandages. All that was left was her sleeping bag, her clothes, and the things they didn't recognize or understand. Still, he was determined to protect the rest of her belongings.

He and Kirara were the only ones that seemed to care she was missing. He knew she was torn between concern for Kagome and loyalty to Sango, and he watched, silently wondering which one would win out in the end. He thought it was simple. Loyalty meant nothing if Sango was willing to abandon a loyal caring ally. Who knew who she would abandon next.

He thought at least he didn't have to worry about being hit by Inuyasha anymore. Kagome may have disappeared but she had left him with a necklace to protect him.

That was something he learned when he made his anger known at Kikyou's presence among the group. Inuyasha had tried to hit him, most likely thinking he could do what he wanted without Kagome there to protect him, when he was rebuffed by a strong barrier that wouldn't let him anywhere near him.

So far he learned that anything with youki couldn't hurt him. He just hoped it worked against reiki as well, because he didn't like the way Kikyou had been looking at him. She looked like she wanted to purify him just because he was there, and maybe because he had no problem asking when they were going to go find Kagome.

Now he watched as said dead woman walked off into the trees and Inuyasha follow after her like he was on some invisible rope. His eyes shifted to Miroku and Sango and he watched as they merely glanced at them and talked about how they hoped the two didn't take long to come back so they could continue traveling.

He glanced around before he remembered that Kirara had walked off before Inuyasha and Kikyou, most likely to find herself a snack. He was a little hungry himself but he wasn't going to ask them for anything since he knew they didn't have anything and wouldn't go find him something anyway. He had seen how they treated Kagome and knew they wouldn't help him.

He sighed quietly and shifted before a large clawed hand suddenly covered his lower face and pulled him back. Everything blurred and felt he was being moved quickly until it suddenly stopped.

Shippo groaned as he adjusted to having moved at such a high speed then blinked as he looked around. He didn't hear Sango and Miroku and knew that they were nowhere near. Of course even if they were close he was unsure they would help if he called for them.

He realized he was being held and looked up. His eyes widened when he saw that he was being held by Inuyasha's scary older brother. He blinked, his mouth dropping open in surprise, and shivered in fear. He was so scared he couldn't even think of anything to say.

Sesshomaru stared down at the kit as he adjusted the miko's strange yellow bag on his shoulder.

"Kit." He said and listened as he whimpered. It was obvious the kit was afraid and he needed him calm before he began to travel. The last thing he wanted was for the miko to be upset with him for scaring the child.

"I have come to take you to the miko." He said and that was enough to distract the kit.

"You know where she is?" Shippo asked and watched the older youkai nod.

"You only need to keep calm and wait, and you will soon be with her." Sesshomaru stated.

Shippo nodded eagerly realizing belatedly that the youkai lord had also grabbed Kagome's bag. He then sat quietly and as calmly as he could as the youkai lord made a cloud of youki beneath his feet and began to fly off into the sky.

=oOo=

Kagome had been with Sesshomaru for a few months now and she was feeling better then she had in a long time. She was feeling calm, content, and even happy. She hadn't felt that way in a long time. She hadn't been through the well to see her family since before she left the group, but she thought it was for the best.

They hadn't known how much Inuyasha and the others were damaging her, and she wanted to keep it that way. It was better if they just thought she found a better protector and that the others simply weren't the friends she thought they were. She would see her family in time, but in the meanwhile she had Shippo whom she thought of as another part of her family.

She had definitely been surprised to see Shippo when she woke from a nap one day. Their reunion was in turns happy and sad as they were glad to be reunited, but sad at why she had left. Her poor Shippo had been distressed when she informed him of her reason, and hadn't exactly understood until Sesshomaru had taken him aside and explained it to him.

A few days after Shippo's arrival Sesshomaru started teaching her how to access her power and manipulate it like a youkai would. She didn't know if he had a purpose other than training her to use her power, but it helped her confidence grow the better she got, which even she knew she sorely needed.

Now after all his help so far she couldn't help noticing how much better she was feeling, and how mystified she was that Sesshomaru was the one to care enough to help her. Sesshomaru even believed she would be well enough by the time winter ended, and they could begin traveling which he believed would aid her recovery.

He had done so much to help her, even telling her of her former friends at her insistence. She believed that if she knew what they had been doing in her absence then it would help her move on. Help her let go of the friendship she thought she had with them.

And she had been right. Learning that they hadn't looked for her, had used her belongings, and had brought Kikyou into the group let her know that they had never cared.

Inuyasha bringing Kikyou in once more confirmed that the undead priestess was who he wanted, and finally cemented in her mind that her feelings for him had been nothing but an intense crush. Her first brush with love, puppy love.

She was sure that's what it was since she was beginning to feel strongly for Sesshomaru, especially as he helped her and treated her like he cared about her feelings and concerns.

That brought to mind their courtship and how it was going better than she had even thought to expect. She had learned so much about Sesshomaru and had been pleasantly surprised that he had been willing to listen to everything she had to say, whether it was facts about herself, her family, or things she had experienced.

Things were beginning to shape up nicely and as far as Kagome was concerned she would get her eternal rest, only in a different way then she had expected. Instead of escaping from her life in the hope of finding better in the beyond she was becoming more confident that she could find happiness, respect, and love right where she was.

She just had to give it time.

Author Note: Not completely happy with my first Inuyasha oneshot, but hoping to do better next time.

 

INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
No money is being made from the creation or viewing of content on this site, which is strictly for personal, non-commercial use, in accordance with the copyright.