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Impression by The Hatter Theory

Chapter 1

AN: I don't own Inu Yasha. I don't own the Sentinel. I'm screwing around for funsies. I haven't written these two in awhile, andI'm dipping my toes in to try and get a feel for the characters again.

This is based off of a trope / show (Sentinels/Guides) that you can look up over on tvtropes. Instead of youkai, there are sentinels (humans with one or more enhanced senses) and guides, humans that help keep them grounded in reality by varying means (there's a huge range, but in this story it's everything from standard psychology to pheremones). 

****

The punch reverberated through him, shattering the haze of scents that had sucked him down and out of himself. Aching, awful feeling returned, the rasp of scabbed skin dragging along his chin like sandpaper. He could feel his pupils dilate, light flooding and scouring his vision in a haze of dots and shifting lines.

“Sesshoumaru! God fucking shit!” Inu Yasha howled, his other fist coming out to strike. Sesshoumaru watched it, incoherent lines and movement. Sensation bloomed, shards of glass on his skin, in his ears. “Let go!”

The snarling echoing in his ears was his own. Abruptly he shoved his half brother away and stepped back, blinking against the light. The outlines of officers surrounded them, a claustrophobic circle coming into focus. Too much focus, the twisted ply of a thread catching his eye. He dialed his sight back, throttled it with ruthless efficiency until the thread was lost in the weave, the weave becoming nothing more than a shirt.

He'd zoned out, gotten lost in palpable haze of scents in the room. Again.

“Well?” Inu Yasha demanded, getting to his feet and glaring at the onlookers. “Nothing to see here. Fuck off!”

The tight grouping of officers, two of which had tranq guns in hand, began to disperse. Not fast enough but too fast and too heavy, a stampede of hard rubber soles struck the carpeted floor and scuffed along it, mixing with the staccato of heartbeats and the movement of lungs and digestion, papers rustling and cloth moving. Ignoring the blatant gawking, Sesshoumaru stalked away from his brother towards his office. Air prickled against his skin, the brush of his shirt on his shoulders almost as painful as the throbbing in his jaw.

“Sesshoumaru!”

He ignored the captain's voice, tried to block out the echo that grated on his already raw nerves. Inu Yasha ignored his obvious mood and followed him into his office. Resentment fueled rage, made his blood pump hot beneath his skin and urged for violence. By sheer force of will, he kept his fists loose at his side. The door slammed behind his half brother, echoing in his ears like shrapnel tearing through his eardrums.

“Sesshoumaru, what the hell was that?” Inu Yasha demanded, words grinding out from behind clenched teeth. Sesshoumaru flicked his gaze over Inu Yasha, took note of the blood smearing the torn white fabric of his sleeve, the way Inu Yasha held the limb cradled to his chest. A still healing wound reopened, nothing more. He hadn't frenzied, hadn't done the initial damage, just aggravated it.

“Are you zoning again?” Inu Yasha demanded incredulously.

“No,” Sesshoumaru bit out, sitting down behind his desk. Nothing was pulling him in too deep into one sense or another, nothing was pulling him out at all. Not anymore, at least.

“That's the third time in a month,” Inu Yasha observed, sitting in the edge of the desk. Sesshoumaru glared up at his brother, hoping he projected at least some of the distaste he felt for the other's presence. Damn Saiten for calling Inu Yasha anyway, he would have come out on his own. “And it looked a hell of a lot like you were about to skip normal and hit feral.”

“I'm fine.”

“You zoned in the middle of the precinct. That's not fine,” Inu Yasha reminded him. “That's dangerous.”

“I do not need or desire your interference.”

“Fine,” Inu Yasha snapped, sliding off the desk and yanking open the door. “See if I save your ass from the tranq gun next time they pull me up here.”

Sesshoumaru didn't comment, and he did not growl when Inu Yasha spitefully slammed the door shut. A quick glance at the time on his computer told him he'd only lost ten, maybe fifteen minutes. Not as bad as the others, but not good by any stretch of the imagination.

Half an hour and two thirds of a report later, his work phone buzzed. Glancing down at the screen, he saw the captain's number attached to a text.

'My office. Now.'

That didn't bode well. The captain's office was used for three things. Imparting sensitive information, giving bad news, and delivering private reprimands. As the only office on the whole floor that had a white noise generator and soundproofed walls, it was the only room not designated for interview and interrogation where people could speak without fear of being overheard or recorded.

Kouga was smirking at him when he passed through the pool of lower ranking detectives, all of them staring at him like sharks. Blood in the water. He wondered if they knew about the prior two zone outs, or thought he was getting reprimanded for a first. Either way, he was pathetically grateful when he stepped into Saiten's office and closed the door. The white noise generator was already going.

“Sit.”

Despite his natural inclination to ignore the command, he sat down and looked across the desk to his Captain, who wore a suspiciously neutral expression. Bland.

“You know the drill. Three incidents and the union gets a call. This is the third time I know of,” Saiten began, ignoring pleasantries. It was one of the things Sesshoumaru appreciated about him, the captain's efficiency matched only by his determination. It made it easier to ignore the jibe. It had only been the third time he'd gotten lost in one of his senses, the others shutting down and leaving him oblivious to his surroundings. The sense of vulnerability he'd easily shaken the first two times still hadn't entirely vanished, making him want to lash out.

Control.

Saiten was just doing his job, even if Sesshoumaru didn't agree with it.

“I understand.”

“Then you know that the union normally requires a psych eval, because under normal circumstances, it means our guides aren't helping.”

Sesshoumaru calmed the twitch of a sneer and schooled his expression into a neutral mask. “I understand,” He repeated, keeping his captain's gaze. Saiten didn't seem impressed, much less fooled by the display of apathy. If anything, the captain seemed to be bracing himself, gathering steam for a lecture.

“Except you're not normal. Our guides won't work with you, and you won't work with them. You're the assistant director's son, and some of us remember when your father was still working in the DA's office. Yamauchi, this is a hell of a problem, because I know you're fine.”

Sesshoumaru almost relaxed, because even though he was zoning and spiking, he was fine. His captain knew that.

“Unfortunately, the union doesn't see it that way. I wish they'd accept that you're overworked and this is because you put in as much time here as I do. But they don't. Frankly, we both know most of them are willing to take whatever problem they have with your father out of your hide.”

“What was their ultimatum?” Sesshoumaru asked. The wind up was too sympathetic, Saiten was being too careful. An ultimatum or termination was the only option. Given his closing rate, exemplary record, and the department's increasing demand for sentinels, he doubted termination was on the table. Not yet, at least.

“They wanted you on administrative leave until you find a guide.”

Sesshoumaru withheld the oath that almost escaped. If that was the only option, he would tender his resignation and save them all the trouble. “But?”

“But I reminded them that the process takes time. The compromise wasn't ideal, but it was the best I could do.”

Getting information was like pulling teeth. “And my options are?”

“Desk duty until you find a guide, at the least one you can work with here, though the insinuation was that bonding would be preferable. You've got ninety days, and then a panel will determine whether or not you can go back in the field.”

“Or they terminate my employment.”

“That's what was implied.”

Logically, it was the best offer he could have gotten. It was certainly better than being put on leave. But it was still an ultimatum, and he was still being put on notice. Over a decade of working within the department with not a single mark against him, it rankled.

“I need your notes for your open cases. If anyone has any questions I'll send 'em your way.”

“Thank you,” He said, standing. Saiten waved him off, already looking back to his computer to go over notes. Sesshoumaru stepped out and felt the stares of his colleagues bearing down on him. Barely contained, there was an undercurrent of malicious glee.

He knew too well what they were thinking. The paragon had slipped. It was something the lesser detectives would celebrate. That knowledge made it all the easier to act, to pretend as if nothing extraordinary had occurred, to move through the bullpen back to his office and close the door behind him. Immediately the whispering started, echoes of voices shooting back and forth, delighted and speculative. Kouga's voice, in particular, was grating.

Sesshoumaru sat and imagined the sundial in his mind, the gnomon casting no shadow. Increment by increment, he watched a shadow appear and stretch, grow to encompass it. The whispers grew more and more quiet until they were almost nothing, the sundial mostly shadowed. It would do. The lingering migraine however, refused to abate.

He cursed softly, not even bothering to try and massage the migraine away. From memory he sorted through his top drawer and found the bottle of painkillers, too focused on the frustration gnawing at his control, threatening another spike. A guide, a leash to manipulate and drug him if he 'got out of hand'. Some new age type indoctrinated to believe that a quiet voice and aromatherapy could keep him stable. A little twit that would follow him around chanting feel good mantras all while 'regulating' him with their damn pheromones.

Over two decades of exemplary control, and it was crumbling. Worse yet, he had no idea why.

***

Kagome stood across from her twin, wondering how they'd shared a womb, much less the same DNA. It wasn't the first time Kikyou had walked into the house with 'The Lecture' ready, Kagome had gotten used to it and knew how to fend it off or ignore it. But unlike every other time her sister had approached her about the subject, now it was as though Kikyou was going out of her way to be cruel.

“He's dead because he zoned! He needed someone like you,” Kikyou continued, the words coming out as both a reprimand and an accusation. “Do you know how many sentinels are out there? Without guides?”

It was condemnation, and Kagome almost demanded to know if it was so important, why Kikyou wasn't bonded yet. Almost. As much as she would love to finally give in to her temper, she refused to sink so low, to engage in the same manipulation her sister was attempting.

“Do you know how many of them would ignore how important my work is?” She countered, trying to keep her voice down. “They'd drag me along behind them like their personal service animal! They wouldn't care what I do here. We're talking about children!”

“Exactly. They are children,” Kikyou reminded her. “They aren't facing the dangers of the real world. But there are sentinels losing themselves crossing intersections, and you're here babysitting.”

“Most of our kids need more than just normal care, and not all of them are sentinels.”

“Oh yes, Rin,” Kikyou snapped. Kagome had thought she was angry, but Kikyou's easy dismissal of their newest addition to the household was beyond enraging. “She'll be fine. It's not like she has to worry about falling out of a tree because a stray noise distracts her.”

“I can't believe you're dismissing how vulnerable she really is,” Kagome accused.

“She's not as vulnerable as the sentinels out in the world,” Kikyou argued.

“Kikyou,” Nodoka said, walking into the room, cutting off the tirade Kagome felt rising in her throat. “Kagome's work is very important, not just to the guides, but to the sentinels as well. All of them need a place to be safe. Children forced online are particularly vulnerable. All of them,” Her mother added. “Not just the sentinels.”

“The numbers are awful,” Kikyou protested. “For every four functional adult sentinels there's only one guide. We lost another one today when he walked into traffic while he was zoning.”

“Are you sure he was zoning?” Kagome snapped, her face flush with anger. She would not feel guilty for something she'd had no hand in, no matter how her sister tried to spin it. She was not at fault. “Or did his guide divorce him?” Sentinel suicides always came in waves, typically when one guide tired of being treated like a slave and separated from them, inspiring others to the same action. There had been a string of 'accidents' recently, coinciding with a rash of divorces. Despite knowing how awful it was, that people had died, a part of her felt a vindictive satisfaction when rage flickered through her sister's features before vanishing.

“There are low functioning guides like mom who can help the kids-”

“We can choose who and how we help,” Kagome interrupted, furious at the mention of their mother's legal status. “Just because we're not shackled to a sentinel doesn't mean we're inferior!”

“Girls,” Nodoka warned. “I've already said it once. You will not argue in my home.”

Kagome ignored her sister’s dour expression and turned away, grateful for the reprieve. It was only temporary, Kikyou would make sure of it. But it was a reprieve nonetheless. Kagome was willing to take what she could get, the time to calm down was more than welcome.

The others were going through their night routines, her brother helping Shippou and Rin with brushing their teeth and flossing, Sango and Miroku helping Kohaku in the shower. Her room, which had become her and Rin's room, and sometimes Miroku's haven, was blessedly empty.

She pushed the curtains around her bed to the side and dropped onto the mattress, knowing she could only expect a few minutes of privacy before Rin came in. Colors and patterns shifted and moved on the fabric, but the optical illusion didn't comfort her as it normally did.

Guilt needled and pricked. Another sentinel dead, a casualty to a zone out or a dissolved bond. Either one was-Awful. It was horrible, and she knew that. Losing control and zoning was bad enough for a sentinel, but a broken bond was worse by far. And it was bad for both parties. Memories of her mother suffering after her father's death made her clench her eyes shut against the layers of colors and patterns. With each moment her anger receded, self recrimination grew. Just because she hadn't known them didn't mean she had a right to make assumptions about their deaths. She didn't have the right to use someone to prove a point.

Her door opened, the sound of it closing followed by the sound of feet scuffling across the carpet. Rin climbed up onto the mattress, already in her nightgown. The smell of cinnamon toothpaste breathed out with each exhale, and Kagome noticed some on Rin's ear. She decided not to ask, wiping it away instead.

Kagome pushed herself up against her headboard and let Rin crawl into her lap. Three months of the same nightly routine had turned habit into ritual, and the little girl's head resting over her heart allowed her to relax for the first time since her twin had walked into the house.

“Will Shippou die?” Rin asked bluntly, the words hanging in the air.

Kagome tried to contain her reaction to the question and failed, knew Rin registered her shock as much as the flinch. She should have seen it coming though. After seeing and feeling her parent's deaths, the topic was bound to surface sooner or later. Kagome had hoped for 'later', and she'd never expected it to be about anyone but Rin's parents, or even the other people that had been there during the incident.

“Why would you ask that, sweetie?”

“Kikyou said the man died from zoning, and Shippou zoned out because of Rin's heartbeat. Will he die because of Rin?”

“No,” Kagome said, keeping her voice even. It was pathetic how accomplished she felt for it. “When a sentinel zones, they're just-You know when you watch television, and you get really into it?” At Rin's nod, she continued. “You don't notice anything else going on around you. When a sentinel zones, they're focusing really, really hard on one thing, and they don't notice anything else. Shippou was focusing on your heartbeat. That won't hurt him,” She promised.

“Then how did the man die?”

“He zoned in a dangerous place.”

“And that's why they need us, right? To make sure they don't get hurt.”

There were hundreds of things she could have said in the affirmative, all of them true. But Kagome didn't want Rin to feel that pressure, to feel like someone's survival hinged on her. That shadow stretched long and into the future, the same darkness that had followed her out of her own childhood.

“Sometimes,” She finally said, hoping it was enough of a compromise.

Rin's brown eyes were fathoms deep, far too wise to be the eyes of a child staring into her own.

“The right one,” Rin said, blinking slowly.

“Hmm?”

“Like the stories. The right ones make each other whole.”

Kagome nodded, not having the heart to tell Rin the truth. Rin didn't seem disturbed, didn't even seem to notice as she rolled off of Kagome's lap and onto the bed.

“Can you tell me a story?”

“Sure sweetheart, what about?”

“The one with the animals.”

Kagome settled deeper into her pillows and let Rin cuddle into her side before beginning.

***

Family dinner nights, which was just code for interrogation, had long since become habit, in more ways than one. While he wouldn't openly defy his father, Sesshoumaru had learned to embrace the little things that annoyed him. Normally he paid attention to the gossip his father and brother shared, and even what Izayoi would quietly partake in. It was as good as a spy network, sometimes. But tonight was quiet, nothing sounding at the table but cutlery and chewing.

“So. You want to tell dad about work?” Inu Yasha asked, smirking at him from across the table.

“Not particularly.”

“He's on a desk until he finds a guide,” Inu Yasha went on. “And he's probably facing a panel if he doesn't find one.” The little bastard sounded overjoyed at being allowed the privilege of delivering the news. Sesshoumaru imagined retribution. Mace would linger in the sinuses for days. Too bad he'd be smelling it too.

Still. Might be worth it.

“Is that true?” Touga asked from his spot at the head of the table, genuine concern pulling his lips into a frown.

“Union call,” Inu Yasha said when Sesshoumaru continued looking at his plate. “Three zones in a month and he almost went feral right out of the last one.”

“I don't require a guide,” Sesshoumaru intoned, trying to remain calm. “And I didn't frenzy. I simply had the very natural impulse to murder you.”

“Three zones in a month says otherwise,” His father said, leaning forward. The second half of the comment went ignored. “It's not weakness to need a guide. You've lasted over twenty years without one, a miracle by anyone's standards. But it's time for you to stop pretending you're above it.”

“I don't believe I'm above it. I simply choose not to pursue such a relationship,” He said, the word rolling off of his tongue like poison. Even if they were all aware of the sudden tension in Touga's shoulders, it was polite to pretend otherwise. “Perhaps you should be more worried for the son that's burned through the local guide population and remained unbonded.”

“Hey, at least I don't fucking zone because of stakeout funk,” Inu Yasha bit out.

“Both of you will cease this nonsense. Sesshoumaru, you have a choice. Either give up your badge, or find a guide. I'm sure the union will help you, or barring that, the liaison office. Inu Yasha, stop attempting to torment your brother. You've absolutely no ground to stand on.”

Sesshoumaru smirked at his half brother.

“Good luck finding someone that can stand you,” Inu Yasha muttered, stabbing at his plate.

***

“You feel stressed,” Miroku said, dropping down next to her, a deep inhale sounding as he slowly shrugged himself into the fabrics around them.

“Pushback on the article,” She managed around a groan as she stretched. Saving her draft, she closed her laptop and turned to him, smiling at the way he practically nuzzled into the various textures of her pillows. “Same old, same old.”

“You’re too radical for them,” Miroku laughed, shaking his head.

“Someone has to be.”

He gave her a knowing glance, sitting up with obvious reluctance. “Have you considered taking a break, just for a little while?”

Of all her family, Miroku was always the most straightforward with her, but in his way, the most understanding. It was the only reason she didn’t dismiss his suggestion. “Am I that bad?”

“Not even often,” He teased lightly, his understanding smile taking the sting from the truth. “But enough.”

“I’ll talk to mom.”

“That hotel in Hokkaido is nice. Quiet.”

“I’ll take it under consideration,” She sighed, sobering. “I’m sorry.”

“Nothing to be sorry for. You need a break, we all do from time to time.”

Except it felt like things were winding up, more and more to do piling up. She wasn’t sure what would happen if she stepped away, even for a few days. Her family was more than capable of handling life in her absence, but the idea of letting it go, even for a day-

“I really do need to get out,” She sighed, realizing where her thoughts had been going.

***

Sesshoumaru tried to dial back his senses, the high pitched screaming of the little girl channeling from a knife in his ears to the beginnings of a migraine. A sentinel. Of course his brother would drop a newly awakened sentinel in the middle of the precinct like the stork from hell. Sesshoumaru wondered what bright individual mentioned their interrogation rooms were free. He needed to kill them.

So much for reviewing the security footage.

He heard a guide begin trying to calm her down, force her senses back to something tolerable, but nothing was working. Information shot out like wildfire, an explanation that was probably going unheeded. The little girl had just watched her brothers die, the trauma bringing her online in the middle of a raid. Her tireless, pitching screams made it difficult to peg her age exactly, but a part of him tensed at the realization that she couldn't be any older than seven or eight. The scent of gunmetal and coffee probably wasn't making her feel any better. He almost felt a pang of sympathy, remembering how awful the world had been in those first moments. His body had been a weapon he'd been defenseless against, everything pushing against him, too bright, too vivid and sharp. Too much everything to his heightened senses.

Just a quick glance. Someone coming online was something he'd never seen before. When he opened the door, the bullpen was it's own form of quiet chaos, most of the officers moving back and forth, heads craning to take in the scene while not being obvious about it. Most of them failed.

He didn't try to hide his gaze.

“My sister's good with the young ones,” A voice said, cutting through the girl's screams. The other sentinels were beginning to get antsy, and he watched Kouga leaning in towards the woman that had spoken. She stepped closer to him but didn't take her attention off of her phone. He could see Kouga calming down, eyes heavy lidded. His own gaze narrowed, a wave of distrust making his skin crawl. Guides. They all acted the same way, thoughtlessly using their own body chemistry to control their environments. To control sentinels. He turned on his heel and closed the door behind him, curiosity forgotten. Hopefully the door would dull the sound of the child's squalling and prevent the guide's pheromones from affecting him.

It did, but only just barely. The sound continued to echo through the doors and inside of his ears. The child's scent flooded the area, acrid like a burnt matchstick. Terror. It was overpowering, blotting out the guide's attempts to pacify them all. He kept his gaze focused on his computer screen, watching figures moving back and forth.

There was no break in the squalling, and he was debating whether or not to pack up and leave for the day when his brain lurched inside of his head.

Drift ice and willow, vanilla, copper-

He followed the scent all the way to his door, his hand already on the knob when he realized he'd moved at all.

Guide, he thought, lip curling into a sneer. He opened the door and leaned against the frame, eyes on the scene before him.

“It's alright,” The guide murmured, voice low and kind as she knelt in front of the girl, not making any move to touch her. “I know it's loud and bright. I want you to imagine a big fluffy pillow. Now bring it over your ears. The sounds are getting quieter. Just like that.” She continued on, and three sentinels, two of which didn't even work homicide, were watching her intently. While not unexpected, his brother was there. What was a surprise was how he completely ignored the new arrival and focused on the guide in the pantsuit.

Watching her, he realized she looked similar to the first. Sisters, twins, maybe.

“Okay, now the sounds are muffled. Are there too many smells?” The second guide asked the child, voice still soft.

He watched as she worked through the child's senses, hitting on three. Hearing, smell and sight. The worst, in Sesshoumaru's opinion. Or at the very least, the most difficult to handle in Tokyo.

When she finally straightened, the little girl buried her face in her knees. Kouga leaned in closer, blue eyes focused on the guide.

“Step back,” The woman said in a carefully modulated tone. Kouga grinned, inhaling deeply. A vulgar, but unfailingly direct statement coming from a sentinel.

He couldn't contain his smirk when she strobed a penlight in the detective's face, making him step back with a curse before falling into his chair, hands over his eyes.

“Kagome,” The other guide hissed.

“He's fine,” The newcomer dismissed, the very picture of indifference. Kagome. He rolled the name around in his head, watched her bend down and pick the girl up. “I'm sure you can do the paperwork.”

“She might have family-”

“If she does,” Kagome said, running her fingers through the girl's hair. The child buried her face in the woman's jacket and was, by some miracle or another, beginning to relax. He couldn't scent any of the guide's pheromones at work, and it bothered him. Surely she'd done something to help calm the girl down. “We deal with it then.”

“The liaison office has safe rooms.”

“Under the circumstances, do you think anything that remotely resembles law enforcement will sit well with her? Whoever brought her here was an idiot.”

Sesshoumaru had to give the woman a point. The little girl was probably terrified of more than just her newly awakened senses. That she'd unwittingly called Inu Yasha an idiot was an incidental bonus. But he took a moment to savor the look of embarrassment that colored his half brother's features.

The other guide opened her mouth and slammed it shut when his brother shifted, bringing attention to himself. “Take her to the shrine. I'll let my boss and child services know the liaison office is dealing with it.”

“Thanks,” Kagome replied curtly, not even bothering to look at his half brother before turning on her heel and stalking out.

His brother didn't move to follow, or even to leave. His gaze was fastened on the first guide, amber eyes flicking over her in something that Sesshoumaru would have pegged as longing. Stepping back, he closed his door and walked back to his desk, shoving his Inu Yasha's neverending search for a guide from his mind.

The shrine. Something needled in his mind, an echo of a memory.

He shook his head, as much an attempt to shake off the sense of deja vu as it was to pull himself away from the scent of ice and willow.

***

Kagome left Souten with Sango, closing the door behind her and walking past the door to her room, where Rin was already asleep. The entire house seemed to be asleep, or on the verge of it. Except for her.

The illusion of solitude was shattered when she saw her mother sitting outside, staring at the Goshinboku.

“Are you alright?” Nodoka asked, voice quiet. Kagome took a seat next to her mother and tried to see what her mother saw. Memories abounded in the shrine, but very few of the ones she knew were actually hers. They were stories, as out of reach to her as fairy tales. No matter how often she'd imagined her father proposing to her mother beneath the Goshinboku, she hadn't been there.

“I'm fine.”

“You seemed distracted.”

“Kids will do that,” She murmured, still gazing at the tree.

“Are you sure it's Souten?”

Kagome wasn't sure, which was the problem. She'd felt something when she'd gone to pick up the little girl, and she still had no idea what it was. A moment of hypersensitivity, maybe. Or she was going insane. It wouldn't be the first time a guide had lost their mind, although it was usually the sentinels that felt things that weren't there.

“I thought I felt something,” She admitted, purposefully vague.

“Is your control slipping?”

“No,” Kagome sighed, shaking her head. “Something physical. Like-It brushed up against me, and then it was gone.”

“What did it feel like?”

“I don't know,” She lied, staring straight ahead. The sensation of fur sliding against her arm had felt so real at the time, warm with the life beneath it. Whatever it was it had breathed on her, a gust of warm air and moisture that had vanished between heartbeats.

“Did you sense anything from it?”

“It was while I was helping Souten,” She hedged. And it was the only reason she hadn't panicked. It had been-Curious, maybe. Nothing more.

“There are more things in the world,” Nodoka said, something she'd been repeating since Rin had shown up. Kagome felt uneasy having the statement applied to her. She was an average guide, nothing more. Not at all like Rin, whose fledgling abilities outstripped even the most talented guide's. They sat and gazed for several more minutes, Kagome staring at the outline of the Goshinboku. She tried to imagine her father proposing to her mother, asking her to marry him and to be his bond mate. She tried to imagine her mother, how she'd reacted.

“I miss him too,” Nodoka murmured softly, rubbing her shoulder before getting to her feet. “Try to get some sleep tonight.”

“Sure thing,” Kagome said, still staring at the tree. There was no telling if she would sleep or not.

The door opened and closed behind her, leaving her alone.

Her imagination refused to cooperate with her, providing nothing of her mother and father beneath the tree. Instead she imagined a shadow moving beneath it, insubstantial and weightless. It prowled back and forth, patient. The more she tried to give it shape, the more it blurred at the edges, until there was only the sense that she was being watched.

“Go away,” She whispered, staring at the darkness below the tree.

The sensation lingered, following her back into the house.

 

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