The young girl looked down at the light brown Chow who was staring back at her with a serious expression. Its leash was held in the hand of a tall demon with long silver hair cascading over his shoulders, he was watching the silent exchange with a regal eyebrow raised. His chow was not normally this sociable, if you could even call this strange staring competition sociable.
The girl was dressed in a kimono and the Yokai got the impression she had probably been on her way to the shrine a few streets away. Her eyes were molten brown and she wore an endearingly large gap toothed smile.
“Can I touch him?” the girl asked the Yokai, the first inclination she had made to realising the demon was even there.
Sesshoumaru and the Chow looked at each other for a while and Sesshoumaru raised a brow. The Chow let out a short bark and Sesshoumaru turned back to the girl “He does not mind”
“Cool” she said extending a hand politely to let the dog sniff it before she petted him. Sesshoumaru was amazed at her patience and understanding, most children just petted dogs without being courteous enough to allow the dog to scent them first.
The young girl had dropped to the dog’s level and he took this to his advantage and licked her face. She didn’t seem to mind and merely giggled before petting him some more.
“Child,” he began
“Rin” she supplied without looking up from the Chow
“Where is your mother Rin?” Sesshoumaru asked
The little girl blinked and looked around expectantly “Rin!” a woman’s frantic voice called out as a blue kimono wearing figure hurtled round the street corner. The woman had long wavy ebony hair that fell to her waist and huge emotive blue eyes that seemed to mimic a stormy sky.
She was breathtaking.
She stopped dead in her tracks when her eyes fixed on the Chow her daughter was petting and Sesshoumaru was nearly knocked over backwards at the stench of pure terror that rolled off her in waves. The fragile woman looked as if she was about to faint from it.
“Stay here” Sesshoumaru commanded the Chow and catching the young girl’s hand he dragged the unwilling child over to the woman.
She seemed to snap out of it slightly when he led her by her shoulder around the corner and pressed her daughter into her waist.
“Um...thanks for helping Rin” Kagome offered lamely her eyes darting back to the corner time and time again.
“This one merely allowed her to pet the Chow” he said gently, more gently than when he had talked to the child even. “Is it too much to presume that you are scared of dogs?”
“Scared is putting it mildly” she muttered rubbing her left hand over her right elbow.
“Perhaps I could help” he offered “I own a dog rehabilitation clinic, I am sure that given time you could get over the fear”
She looked up into his eyes and shook her head, laughing darkly “I doubt it”
“I am Sesshoumaru Taisho” he informed her “this is my card” he pressed it into her palm “if you do not wish to live your entire life in fear then please, call me”
With that he turned on his heel and walked away. She watched his silver hair until it flashed around the corner and he vanished.
“I liked him and his doggy, Okasan” Rin confided tugging on her mother’s sleeve
“Yeah” Kagome muttered clasping her child’s hand in hers she gave her a look that promised retribution. “And what have I told you about running off like that young lady?”
Kagome sat in the window of her mother’s sitting room with a mug of coffee clasped in her pale hands and her forehead resting on the window pane. She watched her daughter run around the shrine grounds giggling hysterically and chatting animatedly to her great grandfather who was trying to help out with New Year’s prayers and fortunes.
She felt a hand on her shoulder and glanced up at her Souta her favourite and only younger brother before leaning back against him and smiling.
“She’s sure happy” he commented
“Mmm” she mumbled wrinkling her nose slightly “I didn’t think you were coming home for New Year”
“Mum was very convincing,” he sighed “she’s a natural in the art of unintentional guilt trips”
She smirked “Would you really have left us here all alone anyway?”
“No” he smiled “how are you?”
“Fine” there was a pause and she knew he wanted more from her. She could feel his brown eyes boring into the back of her head. “Another year I guess”
“Yeah” he rubbed her shoulder soothingly “but the only way we can possibly go is up”
She giggled at that “I’m supposed to be the eternal optimist in this family not you! Are you trying to usurp me?” she asked in mock suspicion as she prodded him in the chest
He backed away and held his hands out in a non threatening gesture before dropping a mocking bow to her “I would never dream of it dear sister”
She stuck her tongue out at him and he smiled cheekily back at her. She would go on, because she had to, because she had her family. Because of Rin.
Maybe she would take the stranger up on his offer after all. She was tired of fear; her irrational fear of dogs was something she could do something about. She was determined.
A little less fear had to be good for a girl.
Kagome looked up at the house with trepidation clearly visible in her eyes. She had never met a house so daunting, even though a certain part of her brain reminded her that this house was just like every other house on the street. Except it wasn’t, because he lived there.
“I’m fine” she breathed in deeply through her nose and exhaled sharply through her mouth “He promised that he wouldn’t have any dogs here”
She looked back at the house and worried her bottom lip between her teeth. Somehow her own words weren’t as comforting as she would have liked them to be.
“Are you going to talk to yourself all day or are you going to come in?” the Yokai’s amused voice made her jump with a little squeak into the air before she glared at him. He was stood in the door way to his house, leaning against the door jamb with his arms folded across his chest.
“Why’d you do that?” she demanded
“It’s not my fault that you’re painfully unobservant” he pointed out. She glared at him and he relented “Are you coming in or not?”
She followed him into the house and he ushered her into a sparsely decorated living room that housed an arm chair, a sofa and a grand piano. There was no television and there were no personal touches to the white room. It had the same sterile feel as a doctor’s office. And there was no stench of dogs. That, at least, served to calm her slightly.
“So” he settled himself into the armchair and she perched herself on the edge of the sofa “what made you decide to call?”
“I guess it’s like you said, I’d rather not live with my fear” she shrugged
“I wonder if you truly posses the nerve to see this through” his golden eyes bored into her own and she shuffled uncomfortably but answered with conviction.
“I do” she said fighting to keep her fingers still in her lap.
He could tell the woman was extremely nervous and realised abruptly that the technique of ‘Flooding’ probably wouldn’t be the best approach on one so jittery. It would seem he would have to employ the systematic desensitisation approach.
“Is this fear you posses for dogs simply taught due to someone else’s fear or did you once suffer a traumatic experience with dogs?” he asked
She chuckled darkly and pulled up the arm of her shirt so that it exposed her elbow. There was a gruesome scar of embedded teeth around the elbow. “Traumatic enough?” she asked
“Indeed,” he said examining the bite closely “explain to me what happened exactly”
She glowered at him and sighed heavily “When I was younger my next door neighbour had a Pit-bull that didn’t really like anyone very much.” There was a pause as her gaze went unfocused and she gazed at a point over Sesshoumaru’s shoulder. He interlocked his fingers and waited for her to return to the conversation patiently.
“One day my brother kicked his ball into the garden of the house next door. I went to get it for him, I thought that the dog was tied up but apparently it wasn’t and when I stepped inside it bit down on my arm and refused to let go” she rubbed her temples and breathed in deeply through her nose
He nodded slightly “On a scale of one to ten, with ten being very and one being not really, how anxious are you when faced with dogs?”
“Ten” her answer was almost automatic in the speed of its delivery and he smirked slightly.
“And, in your opinion, how rational are you?” he queried
“You are perfectly capable of understanding” he pointed out
She narrowed her eyes at him “I’m perfectly rational”
“Hn” he pursed his lips “we shall see”
“What do you mean?” she demanded
He ignored the hastily tossed question and went over to the coffee table. He picked up the simple white folder that rested there and flicked through it for a moment before sitting down, but this time he sat next to her on the sofa, so close that their knees brushed. She shuffled away and he fought down his smirk.
“Using the same scale as before would you care to tell me how anxious you become when you see this” he handed the human woman a large A4 photograph of a pit bull running through some kind of park. The tendons in its powerful legs were clearly visible, as were its teeth were the muzzle had pulled back. It looked as if it were lunging after something.
Her eyes widened fractionally as they became fixated on the muzzle of the dog before her, her hands were gripping the paper with perhaps more force than was strictly necessary. He listened intently for a moment as her heart beat picked up in speed and nodded.
“Seven, maybe” she whispered
“What is it about the picture that bothers you?” he asked
“The teeth, the fact that it’s in motion?” it sounded like a question “I don’t know” she dropped the picture and rubbed her arms with her hands as if she was cold.
“Do toy dogs encourage the same reaction?” he queried
The look she shot him was one of disdain “I am not completely foolish you know”
“Hn” he said and stood carefully. He brushed his impeccable clothes of non-existent fibres and exited the room.
Kagome breathed a sigh of reprieve at his departure and placed a palm over her still rapidly beating heart. Stupid heart.
He exploded back into the room, or at least it appeared that way to Kagome, and she nearly fell off her precarious perch on his sofa.
He walked over to her with his hands hidden behind his back and a small amused smirk on his face.
Why’s he doing this? The smiles make it seem as if he’s just some twisted sadist and I’m here to satisfy his need to make someone squirm, but if that was the case surely he would have just thrown me into a cage of dogs? I’m so confused.
She watched him approach her with wary eyes. “What?”
“I want you to look after this for a week” he said he voice inviting no arguments. They glared at each other for a moment before he moved so fast she didn’t even see it. Suddenly she was staring at the muzzle of some kind of dog.
He winced. “Calm yourself, it is a toy”
She rubbed away the tears that had collected at the corners of her eyes harshly and glared at the amazingly life like dog toy that he was presenting to her. It looked like any moment it would move. She stared at it uneasily for a while before he got impatient with just standing there and shoved it abruptly into her lap. He ignored the dirty look she shot his way.
“Can you handle this?”
“I’ve just got to take it with me?” it didn’t sound so bad, she could put it in the cupboard under the stairs for a week and then bring it back.
He rolled his eyes at the hopeful look in her eyes. “No, you must keep it with you permanently.”
“What?” she balked
“Sleep with it in your bed, when you eat put it on the table in front of you, when you read sit it upon your lap” he commanded
“What about work?” she demanded, surely he couldn’t expected her to cart the stupid thing to work with her!
“At work, place this photograph upon your desk” he handed her a miniature version of the photo he had first presented her with inside a small silver frame.
She was shaking slightly at the enforced presence of the malignant toy and the feral picture. She glanced up at him with slight terror in her eyes.
“Tell me that you can do it” he said gazing directly into her eyes
“I can do it”
“That lacked the proper determination”
“Well I’m sorry if I don’t want to sound like a fool!” she bit out
“Are you an optimist?”
“Yeah” she muttered
“Then you are probably constantly telling yourself everything will be fine” he said “this is no different, if you tell yourself you can do it then your mind will accept it as fact”
“Easy as that”
“Correct, humans often overcomplicate things” he sneered at her
She rolled her eyes and then blinked in shock as she realised he had briefly distracted her from the ‘phantoms’ in her hands for a moment.
“You will do well” he told her, nodding in a satisfied way.
“If you say so” she muttered
“I do say so, and this Sesshoumaru is never wrong” he glanced at the watch adorning his wrist “it would seem this session is over”
“Sesshoumaru-san” she said as she stood up, her voice was hesitant and he waved a hand for her to continue. “Why are you so confident?”
“Because you are rational” he informed her “your fear is simple; you associate dogs with the pain you received as a child and as such you respond to the adverse stimulus with fear.” He shrugged lightly “but as a rational person when faced with the fight or flight scenario you seem to adhere more towards fight”
“But that’s because they were just pictures” she said her lack of confidence in his assumptions clear in her tone.
“Which shows you are rational” he pointed out “and also determined to triumph, this means that there is a greater likelihood that you will succeed.”
“I hope you are right” she smiled slightly at the unwavering confidence saturating his tone.
“Once again Higurashi-san I hasten to point out that I am always correct” he smirked very slightly.
“Thank you for your time” she held out a hand for him to shake and he clasped her slight hand in his larger clawed one. She glanced down at the claws in interest.
“Not to be rude,” she said tremulously “but what type of demon are you?”
His eyes flickered for a moment before he answered “I am a Doku Yokai” he wasn’t lying per say, but he wasn’t being exactly truthful either.
She nodded slightly and he walked her out, watching as the small onna made her way home. He did not relish lying, but he knew that at this stage in their relationship knowing precisely what kind of Yokai he was would not be beneficial. Not at all.
A/N: I don’t own Inuyasha. Doku means poison in Japanese by the way!