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The Waiting (is the Hardest Part) by Sage McMae

Chapter 1

Like the land changes with the seasons, their relationship transforms over time. 

It begins with touches that linger longer than necessary. Seemingly friendly gestures take on a different meaning. Fleeting words are second-guessed and backward glances are over-analyzed. She spends far too many nights hunched over Sango’s fire, asking for her opinion on the matter.

Her best friend has little advice other than, “Why don’t you just purify him?”

Sango has reservations about the Lord of the Western Lands. Kagome knows it’s partially because he's a full demon, unlike Inuyasha, but it’s also because of how Sesshomaru has treated the slayer in the past. Kagome has forgiven him. Sango has not.

“You could let Miroku and I set you up with someone in the village,” Sango suggests one evening.

“No,” Kagome waves her off.

“Why not?”

“Because Inuyasha will try to scare them off,” Kagome tells her friend.

Sango snorts. “If Inuyasha can scare them, then they aren’t worthy of you.”

“Then no one in town is worthy,” Kagome points out, “because they are all terrified of him.”

Her friend sighs and nods in agreement.

Kagome doesn’t mention that one person who visits the village often (but isn’t afraid of Inuyasha) is Sesshomaru. She knows Sango won’t be pleased by this fact. Kagome keeps the thought to herself and remains grateful for Sango’s help.

She’s tried talking to Sesshomaru— more than tried, if she’s being honest. Each time has been an epic failure. He has either walked away from her or stared at her until she became so uncomfortable that she fled. Kagome doesn’t remember a time when they’ve actually had a full conversation.

So why is it his face that she sees each time as she drifts off to sleep? Why does her heart pound every time he is near? Why does the sound of his voice make her shiver? And why is it his touch that she craves?

Kagome is sitting by the river, staring into its depths, asking herself these exact questions when he appears.

“Miko.”

She topples forward, careening headfirst into the river.

A clawed hand on her elbow keeps her from plunging underwater. It is joined by a second that snakes around her waist and drags her back into a solid chest. She winces when her spine collides with his armor.

Instantly, Sesshomaru releases her.

Kagome pitches forward, landing on her hands and knees in the dirt.

“What were you doing?” he inquires.

“Thinking,” she answers angrily.

Kagome is embarrassed that he managed to catch her off-guard. His yokai is powerful, far more potent than other demons. Usually, she senses his approach, but today her mind is preoccupied.

“About?” Sesshomaru questions.

“Nothing,” Kagome replies hastily.

He stares at her. Clearly, he doesn’t buy her lie. 

“Are you here to visit Rin?” she asks, wiping her hands along the front of her red hakama as she stands. 

“No”

She blinks and studies his expression. As always, it’s impossible to read. He’s an enigma but Kagome suspects she’s beginning to understand what lies beneath the layers of mystery. 

“Did you come to see me?” she guesses tentatively.

“Indeed.”

Her blue eyes go wide. Sesshomaru has never been this direct before. They’ve been dancing around each other for months but neither has acknowledged anything beyond the friendly alliance they struck years ago. Kagome was beginning to think she was imagining things. 

It’s not that she has much to compare him to. Her relationship with Inuyasha ended almost before it began.

Choosing to return to the Feudal Era was a huge sacrifice— one that Inuyasha appreciated but appreciation isn’t the same as love. Kagome knows he will never look at her the way he did Kikyo. His heart belongs to the woman he lost, not the woman who came back to him. Even though they’ve separated, they remain close friends. Kagome can't imagine her life without him. After all they've been through,— the good and the bad —she knows him as well as she knows herself. And it's because she knows herself that she chose to end things.

Kagome will always love Inuyasha, but that love isn’t the romantic kind. He’s become an older brother to her— supportive and insanely overprotective, which she suspects might be a Taisho trait.

She has seen the way Sesshomaru dotes on Rin. She’s also witnessed his wrath when the little girl broke her arm sledding. He nearly burned the entire town to the ground. If it hadn’t been for the joint effort of Inuyasha, Miroku, Sango, Kohaku, and Kaede talking him down, Kagome is convinced he would have. Of course, the fact she was able to heal Rin’s arm with her reiki also helped.

Regardless, it still took two seasons for the village children to ask Rin to join them again.

His deep baritone brings her attention back to the present.

“I am uncertain of the customs of your tribe so I discussed the proper etiquette with my brother. He’s the only one of your friends who has traveled to your village. As you have no kin here, he is the logical choice for permission,” Sesshomaru informs her.

He got Inuyasha’s permission? For what?

“I desire to court you.”

Kagome stares, frozen in place. She suspected that things had changed between them but hearing him say it out loud does funny things to her chest. Suddenly, she can’t catch her breath. 

“I believe I have waited the appropriate amount of time,” he continues. 

“W-what?”

“Inuyasha advised the need to wait one full year before approaching you,” Sesshomaru responds.

“Why a year?”

He frowns. “That is the standard mourning period for a failed relationship, is it not?”

“Mourning period? Wait, what?” Kagome asks, unable to believe what she’s hearing. “What failed relationship? You mean Inuyasha? I don't think you can call that a relationship. I mean, we never even—.”

Howls of laughter fill the air. Kagome whips around, spotting her best friend and Miroku falling over each other. She places her hands on her hips and glares at them.

Correction. Former best friend.

Inuyasha wipes tears from his eyes. “I told you, didn’t I?”

“I can’t believe it worked,” Miroku replies, clutching his side.

Kagome starts to march toward them when a hand comes down on her shoulder.

“Allow me,” Sesshomaru says.

He stalks forward, unnoticed by the two chuckling idiots.

“...so gullible,” Inuyasha is saying when Sesshomaru and Kagome appear in front of them. He quickly changes his tone. “Eh, hey.”

“Brother.”

Miroku hedges away. “Is that Sango calling? I think I’m late for dinner.”

“Not so fast,” Kagome grumbles, heading him off. “What are you two doing hiding over here?”

Inuyasha glances nervously between her and Sesshomaru. He seems to be trying to determine whose rage is safer. Miroku cowers behind him.

Chicken, Kagome thinks.

“Uh.” Inuyasha scratches the back of his neck sheepishly. “Well...” He trails off, glancing at the monk.

She waits for one of them to speak. They wordlessly nudge each other, neither willing to be the first to speak. Eventually, the jabs become shoves. Kagome taps her foot on the ground and clears her throat.

“Ah, you see, Kagome, we thought it would be funny to set Sesshomaru up,” Miroku begins.

“Set him up?” she repeats skeptically. She already doesn’t like the sound of this.

“Yeah. His mom keeps pestering him to find a mate but Mr. High-and-Mighty over here doesn’t like anyone so we thought it would be funny to give him a taste of his own medicine,” Inuyasha explains. “I mean who else is as stubborn as this bastard? No one.” 

“Except you,” Miroku adds. 

Kagome glares at him. 

“You have half the village trying to court you and you've never considered anyone once,” he revises his statement before adding, "We knew it wouldn’t amount to anything."

Her heart drops into her stomach. “You thought I’d say no?”

“Well, yeah,” Inuyasha scoffs. “It’s not as if you actually like him. I mean, it's Sesshomaru.”

Kagome resists the urge to ‘Sit’ him. Seriously? How stupid is he? Obviously, he hasn’t been eavesdropping outside of Sango’s hut.

She opens her mouth to tell them that they are wrong. Very wrong. As embarrassing as it will be to confess her feelings in front of Inuyasha, Sesshomaru deserves to know the truth. She turns to tell him, but the words never make it off her tongue.

He's gone.

Kagome glances around, trying to spot the silver-haired daiyoukai. She doesn't see him anywhere— not in the village, not in the sky, and not even on the hillside.

“I’ll deal with you idiots later” Kagome snaps. It’s all she manages to get out before she’s sprinting across the river.

She doesn’t catch the smirk her friends share as she darts away. 

Kagome has never considered herself exceptionally athletic but after fighting Naraku and his many incarnations, she’s learned the value of exercise. Morning runs help her keep in shape though she’s never been as grateful for them as she is now.

She makes it up the hillside in record time.

Breaking through the tree line, Kagome pauses to look around the clearing. There is no sign of the demon lord. She bites her lower lip, considering which way to go. Deciding on right, she spins around and slams into a wall.

Kagome stumbles backward, blinking in surprise. “Sesshomaru?”

“I do not require an apology,” he tells her flatly.

“I’m not here to apologize. I mean, I am sorry about what they did, but that’s not why I came up here,” Kagome insists.

“Why have you come?” Sesshomaru inquires.

Her cheeks burn. Kagome wants to blame it on her sudden sprint but she knows that’s not the reason.

“Yes.”

“Excuse me?”

“Yes, I accept or whatever I’m supposed to say,” Kagome clarifies. “I’m not sure if that’s right but I’ve never been courted before so I hope that’s good enough.”

He is so still as he stares at her that Kagome wonders if he’s even breathing.

“You accept?”

She nods.

Sesshomaru takes a step closer to her. “Was I required to wait a year?”

Kagome shakes her head.

He scowls.

“You could have just asked me. I would have told you,” she says.

“That is not how things are done,” Sesshomaru replies.

“Maybe not here but where I’m from, couples talk to one another about how they are feeling,” Kagome explains.

“And how are you feeling?” he questions, taking another step.

Kagome has to tilt her head back to maintain eye contact. The color on her face deepens. “Happy. Nervous. Maybe a bit worried,” she admits.

“Worried?”

“I can’t tell what you’re thinking. Maybe your offer was sincere. Maybe this is the second part of Inuyasha’s joke,” Kagome points out.

“I do not joke,” Sesshomaru tells her, reaching a single finger forward to tuck her hair behind her ear.

Her eyes go wide. “Oh, okay. That’s...good. So what now?”

“I kiss you.”

When his lips press to hers, Kagome smiles and thinks. 

Finally. 

 

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