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Chasing Your Tail by Drosselmeyer

Chapter 1

Kagome couldn’t really say what possessed her to do it. But she did, she committed, and now she would have to learn to live with that decision.

The smell of her own gathering sweat made her wrinkle her nose as she walked a little too quickly up to the auctioneer’s desk with her payment in hand.

“Higurashi?” the man asked.

Nodding, she held out her money, decidedly ignoring the way her palm glistened underneath the wad of cash. “That’s me.”

If he noticed her dampness slowly saturating the yen notes in her hand, the older gentlemen didn’t comment on it. With a kind smile, he simply took her money, marked something down on the papers before him, and pointed to her left.

“You can pick up your item through that door. Just ask for Jun.” He put her payment in a cash drawer and chuckled. “I haven’t seen a bidding war like that in quite some time.”

She laughed, the sound a bit too high-pitched for even her own ears. “Yeah, I guess I let the excitement get to me.”

As the auctioneer settled her purchase, Kagome glanced over her shoulder. There were eyes on her. She could feel it. Closing her own eyes, she took a deep breath and tried to calm herself. This was a public space. She was surely safe in such a crowd.

She glanced over her shoulder again, trying to ignore the way her muscles twitched and tensed, ready to run.

“Ma’am?”

“Oh!” Kagome extended her hand, grasping the corner of a paper. In her paranoia she hadn’t heard the man talking to her. She laughed nervously again. “All that excitement. Sorry.”

Old eyes crinkled at the corners as he handed her a ticket. “It’s not uncommon, especially for first time buyers. But I hope you had a good experience.” He nodded to the door he had previously mentioned. “You certainly got a unique item.”

Unique doesn’t even begin to cover it. A tight smile pulled at her face as she accepted the proof of her payment, and Kagome tried to ignore the feeling of eyes drilling a hole into her back. “Yeah, I suppose I did.”

Another smile. “Come back anytime.” Chuckling, the auctioneer settled back in his seat. “You and that young man certainly provided us all with a good bit of entertainment.” He nodded someplace over his shoulder. “He’s a tough one to beat. Been here before.”

Kagome swallowed and simply nodded, not able to speak. The old man had no idea how true that statement really was.

“Thank you again.” Then, clutching the ticket in her hand like it was her lifeline, Kagome kept her eyes down on the floor as she made a beeline for the door that had been pointed out to her to claim her purchase.

She couldn’t have pretended to not notice the hard, golden glare following her if she had tried.

______________

She looked ridiculous.

Kagome cursed as she walked home. She had no one to be angry with but herself for not being able to hire a ride, having used the last of her money on her to outbid someone she probably shouldn’t have. And now? Now she couldn’t even glance over her shoulder to make sure sudden death wasn’t upon her.

An unholy mass of white fur was blocking her view.

“How on earth did he manage this?” she grumbled to herself, shifting the snowy pelt swallowing her whole.

It had taken her thirty minutes just to leave the auction house after picking up her item. Bigger than she had remembered it being, she had spent twenty of those minutes just trying to figure out how to carry the damn thing out before settling on trying to drape it around herself as he had worn it—unsuccessfully given the mess she looked now. The next ten had been spent trying to find the door.

“Not your best idea ever, Kagome,” she groused, once again shifting the fluff. She could barely see in front of her let alone behind her.

And really, it wasn’t. Once the shock of seeing someone she had never expected to see again had worn off, she had turned into a mad woman. And not even she knew why. The only conclusion she could reasonably come to in her head was that the last ten years locked on this side of the well had been lonelier than she had realized, and it was enough to bring out her crazy and pit her against the Lord of the West for his own property.

“I’m not lonely.” Kagome spit fur out of her mouth and pursed her lips, using her chin to push down the mound of white currently blocking her view. She wasn’t prepared for tears to obscure her vision also. “I’m not.”

I am.

Her vision cleared a bit as the tears rolled free, and she sniffled. She was lonely. She had been since the day the well locked her out and separated her from her friends and the only people who would ever understand what she had been through. And it was enough to make her desperately fight to try and hold onto the unexpected discovery of a small piece of that time, even if it was to her own detriment.

She cringed and clenched her eyes shut. “Oh gods, I am crazy.”

“Foolish, perhaps.”

Kagome screamed at the sound of a painfully familiar voice behind her and jumped, but her foot got caught in the dragging end of the fur wrapped around her legs.

She pitched forward, and there was no way to break her fall. Her arms were tangled up in the pelt as much as the rest of her body, and there was nothing to prevent her from cracking her skull against the pavement.

But just before her face made contact with the sidewalk, an arm snaked around her and pulled her upright. And she didn’t quite know what to make of that.

Her eyes widened as she was caught under the ribs, though she couldn’t see much more than fluff, and her heart raced. She could feel him, pressed close to her back with only his pelt as a barrier between them, and the razor-sharp tips of deadly claws pricked at her skin.

The instinct to run took over.

Kagome lurched, intent on getting away, but he must have felt her coil to move before she managed because his grip tightened, and the breath rushed out of her.

Tch.”

Panicked, clammy hands scrabbled through the impossible mass of fur and pulled at the arm holding her in place. “Let me go!” She stomped her foot as hard as she could, feeling her heel come down on a shoe and scratched again at the arm around her. “Let me—”

“Calm yourself,” he ordered sternly, and Kagome froze.

His other arm had joined the first, and she could feel his breath blow across her ear as he spoke. It was enough to startle her out of her panic. Before she realized it, she was doing what he had said, and her body relaxed somewhat in his grasp.

“That is better.”

Kagome’s pulse raced. Everything around her was sharper. Keener. Though she couldn’t see much beyond the pelt wrapped around her, she could smell more, hear more, and feel more than she had before he had surprised her.

She closed her eyes and willed her breathing to slow.

His arms were like iron, but he wasn’t hurting her. Their grasp was firm, not restrictive, and he loosened them gradually, understanding without her telling him that too quickly would land her back on her face.

Unconsciously, she tilted her nose down into the pelt as his grip around her continued to ease. The forests. It smelled like the forests from long ago. Pine, cedar, and…

“Hinoki wood,” she whispered. “You always smelled like hinoki wood.”

“Hn.”

She blushed a bit then, not quite sure why she said that aloud, but she could’ve sworn she heard a smile in his voice.

The arms holding her in place finally let go and began the process of untangling her from the pelt, and she didn’t fight him as he did.

“Spin to your left.”

Kagome did as he said, and the pelt loosened more.

It took a few more minutes of unwinding, twirling, and stepping over things, but at last the pelt slid free of her body.

She felt bereft.

Biting her lip, she looked at the ground. She sniffled again, and her vision once more began to blur. It was stupid. She knew it was. They hadn’t even been close—like, at all. But it was something. And now, it was gone too.

Willing her tears back, Kagome finally looked up and really looked at him for the first time.

The pelt was bunched loosely in his hand, the rest of the long mass spilling onto the ground. He hadn’t changed much. Not really. She dared to meet his eyes and search his face, trying to note any changes. His markings were hidden—whether by makeup or magic she wasn’t sure. He looked a little older, but still young. Still fresh.

Still handsome.

Kagome glowered internally.  Of course, he’d do what all men do and just look better as he aged.

The modern clothing took her aback somewhat, even though she’d seen him in it earlier. Then, she’d been too preoccupied to really take note of it. But surprisingly, the charcoal slacks and navy button up fit him. He didn’t wear a tie, and the collar was unbuttoned. Casual.

She looked down at his sleeves and noticed they also had been loosened and rolled up.

But the biggest difference was his hair. It was still long, though it was shorter than it had been. Instead of sweeping down past his knees it was cropped just below his shoulder blades and held back in a low tail.

Suddenly, she regretted running out the house in jeans and a loose t-shirt with her hair high on her head in a ponytail.

“Miko?”

“Kagome,” she automatically corrected, not thinking. She cringed internally when she realized it. But it didn’t really matter. Not really.

Brushing off her embarrassment, she finally met his eyes again. With an awkward smile, she simply shrugged. “Hi, Sesshoumaru.”

It felt strange to say his name again.

A small smile pulled at his lips, barely lifting the corners as a single, amused brow lifted. “Hello.”

They didn’t say anything for a minute, simply observing each other. Kagome resisted the urge to bolt but crossed her arms over her chest, the protective gesture somewhat mollifying her unease. Her eyes took in the pristine state of his leather shoes, and she tried to ignore the mud on her own—oh gods, did it get on his pelt?—as she continued to take his put-together self in.

When she couldn’t stand the silence anymore, she ducked her chin, and the first thing that came to mind blurted out.

“You look good.” She felt her face heat and quickly waved her hand in front of her in some nonsensical motion, trying to explain away her statement. “You know. Not old.”

Cringe. That is completely and totally cringe-worthy, Kagome.

She chanced a peek back up at his face, and what she found wasn’t what she expected.

His lips were pursed, the tight line of them fighting—failing—to suppress a smile. His cheeks hollowed slightly as he did, and she noticed, not for the first time, the fine structure of his cheekbones. The high arch set off eyes that had once been too exotic for words, now softened even with their unique color by a rounded pupil.

She frowned.

It was wrong. His face without the markings, his wrists without the stripes, his eyes too like hers…it was all wrong. Too human. And Sesshoumaru was anything but.

Kagome stepped forward. She didn’t know what possessed her for the second time that day to let her actions with him be bolder than she would have ever dared in the past. But her hand reached out and traced the fur she had run off with right under his nose.

This. Him. They were the link to her past she needed and craved. It didn’t matter that they hadn’t been close. Didn’t matter than there had been a time she feared him.

Her fingers wrapped in the pelt as the evening breeze picked up, and the scent of hinoki wood once again washed over her.

She closed her eyes.

There was a memory, a rare moment when it had been just them alone together. And it was so ironic. At the end, they had found themselves back where they’d started—back in the belly of a demon. Only this time he was her protector and not her enemy.

He had fought with her. Searched with her. And when he picked up on where those they had lost were waiting, she had grabbed that same pelt in her fingers, clinging to it with all she had as he soared through what could have easily been hell.

Only there was hinoki wood and the forests.

She hadn’t realized she remembered that much of him until today.

The sound of him clearing his throat brought her back to the present, and she opened her eyes to find his still on her, his head tilted somewhat as he watched her.

Considering. Relaxed. Curious.

And that’s when she realized she had nothing to lose.

Kagome swallowed, steeling her reserve as she took another step forward. “You can have this back”—she gripped the silvery fur in her fist, refusing to let go—“after dinner.”

His eyes narrowed. “Is that so?”

Her palms sweat and her arms trembled, but Kagome lifted her chin and met his steely gaze. “Yes.”

“Hn.” His head tilted further, and he plucked the pelt from her grasp.

Her fingers, like jelly from her nerves, let it go against her will. The fur slid from her grasp, the soft plushness of it slipping through her fingers as it returned to its owner. She watched with no small amount of panic as he settled the fur back over his shoulder where it was always meant to be. The modern clothing did nothing to detract from the rightness of how it looked there once again on him, and the cold reality of its loss sank straight to the pit of Kagome’s stomach.

I can’t…not again.

When he turned to walk away, she almost broke. That sinking feeling—that ice rooted too deep to bail out on her own—threatened to take over, spreading over her chest until the cold fingers of its misery clutched at her throat.

And it would have broken her then. It would have swallowed her whole and left her with the unbearable knowledge that a remnant was left but that she was still alone.

Except that he didn’t let it.

Sesshoumaru stopped ahead, peering back at her over his shoulder.

“Your place or mine?”

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A/N: Dedicated to Mythicamagic, thetroll, LadyoftheLemons, and Ladygoshawk.

Inspired by a prompt dropped by Mythicamagic - Random fic idea 401: Mokomoko is on sale at an auction. And then several others stepped in and encourage the madness. :)

 

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