“Momma, what are you doing?” the eight year old girl asked. She had entered the kitchen only to find her mother engaged in a staring competition with a scarily life-like stuffed-toy dog.
“Making friends with the dog” Kagome supplied
“She’s crazy” Sango commented, she had picked Rin up from school due to Kagome’s insistence that she had something to do but this was just weird.
“I’m trying to overcome my fear” she said
“The dog looks pretty real” her lifelong friend commented punching the toy lightly.
“Do you have to punch everything?” Kagome inquired
“Miroku is in America with work” Sango shrugged “so my punch bag of choice is out of reach”
“You still aren’t allowed to hit my therapy” Kagome insisted.
“And how is this therapy?” Sango asked
“It’s to try and get me used to dogs” Kagome shrugged
“Hmph” Sango frowned at the dog “you think it’ll work?”
“I hope it will work” Kagome corrected “and he insists that it will work”
“Sesshoumaru Taisho” Kagome shrugged “apparently he is a dog handler extraordinaire and wants to help out.”
“I know that name” Sango said in surprise “he’s the co-owner of the zoo”
“I thought Kouga-san owned the zoo” Kagome wrinkled up her nose in confusion
“He did but he got into some debt a while back and Sesshoumaru and his father Sugimi offered financial stability, Sugimi as the silent backer and Sesshoumaru as the partner. I have to say; working there has been a lot more relaxing since Sesshoumaru started to manage some affairs.” She smirked “we haven’t had nearly as many problems”
Sango worked at the zoo as head of the wild cat enclosure and loved her job, though she often mocked her arrogant boss Kouga.
“He seems to be inexplicably confident in me” Kagome frowned drumming her fingers against the table top.
“He’s just confident all round” Sango shrugged settling herself on the table cross legged. Anyone else would never have done such a thing, fearing it impolite in someone’s house to sit upon their table. But Sango had never been one to sit on furniture conventionally. “his confidence attracts women like bee’s to honey. You should see the fan club that materialises whenever he deigns to step foot in the zoo, some of them are old enough to know better”
“But if the man is a demon then he’s really old” Rin pointed out and the two adults turned to look at the little girl in shock; they had almost forgotten she was there. The child picked up the apple she had pilfered from the fruit bowl and bid a strategic retreat to the living room. Within seconds they heard the unmistakeable sounds of after school cartoons.
“I guess so” Sango said in regards to Rin’s last comment “but to be honest the trails of drool that the fan club produces are not exactly pleasurable to clean up after”
Kagome laughed at that “It can’t be that bad!”
“It is” Sango said shortly “it’s like they all lose any sense they once had and turn into mindless, clucking chickens”
“He is good looking I suppose, but still” Kagome fixed Sango with a gimlet stare “are you sure you aren’t exaggerating?”
Sango grinned “You know me too well” she twirled a long strand of brown hair around a finger. “but why’s he helping you?”
“I think he realised how afraid I am” Kagome shrugged
Sango rolled her eyes “And name one man that helps a girl out of purely the goodness of his heart, he wants something and I have a feeling it’s inside those blue panties of yours”
Kagome blinked in shock a few times before fixing her friend with a shrewd look “And how in the hell do you know what colour my underwear is?”
Blood. Pain. Tears. Growling. The intensity of it building up until the pain is strangely numb, until the sounds of Souta screaming are warped and distant. Until the only things she is aware of are those teeth and her arm crunching. Blood pouring, flesh tearing, tears falling. No sounds. And then she looked up into the eyes of her tormentor and her heart stopped beating. There was no intelligence there, just the brutal understanding that she was not getting away.
And so she screamed.
Kagome sat bolt upright in bed and cursed every god she could think of. Her back was clammy with sweat and her face sticky with the tears she had cried in her sleep. She flopped back down onto the bed and curled into the foetal position staring at the pillow next to her. The dog that she had been given was there and she threw it away savagely, something she was not normally prone to.
Those dreams that only he could banish, but he wasn’t there anymore.
She felt a few more tears leak out at that and roughly wiped them away with the back of her hand. She had to stop crying. She had to.
“Momma?” Rin whispered as the bedroom door opened slightly. He child was thrown into relief by the moonlight drifting in through her bedroom windows.
“What’s wrong Rin-chan?” Kagome pulled herself together and turned on the soft bedside lamp. It filled the room with a soothing ruby hue and she smiled at her daughter.
“Did you hurt yourself?” Rin asked blearily
“I'm fine” Kagome smiled, though she was pretty sure her daughter couldn’t see it.
Rin padded over to the bed in bare feet and climbed in. She wrapped herself in her mother’s arms and tucked her warm face into her neck, Kagome shivered as Rin’s cold feet came into contact with her bare legs.
“Thank you Rin-chan” Kagome murmured, but the small child was already asleep. She smiled and rested her chin on top of the small child’s head as she stroked her back.
Maybe he wasn’t the only one who could make the nightmare’s go away.
“So?” he asked carefully
She gave him a look.
“How did you fare?” he asked. They were back in Sesshoumaru’s living room for their next session and they were both in bad moods.
“The toy seriously did not help with the nightmare’s” she informed him
“You have nightmare’s?” he asked raising a brow “why was I not made aware of this?”
“You didn’t ask” she shrugged
He glared at her and she stared innocently back at him until he relented “These nightmare’s are they recurring or do they change?”
“They are recurring, the incident when I was... when it happened is repeated” she rubbed her scarred arm reflexively.
“Have you always had them?” he asked “do they happen every night?”
“Ever since it happened” she sighed and ran a hand through her hair “and just after the... incident they happened every night, but now they mostly happen if I’m stressed or upset”
“Is there anything in particular that helps?” he enquired
“...no, nothing” at least, there isn’t any more “sometimes it helps to sleep with Rin”
“Your daughter” he nodded “she holds no fear for dogs”
“No, she doesn’t, we were very careful about making sure she never picked it up” Kagome shrugged
“We? I was under the impression you were single” he asked
“I am widowed” she chuckled darkly “not that you can even call it that, he died before we actually got married.”
“I am sorry” he said
“Are you?” she asked and he gazed into her eyes. It was there, that shadow that was left behind when love was lost. She had felt it too, that pain.
“I am” he said and she shivered as his eyes became reflective. He had felt the same pain as she had.
“Sorry” she whispered
“It was a long time ago” he said
She gave another dark chuckle “But that doesn’t make it any better”
“You are correct” she bowed her head and he cleared his throat “perhaps we should return to the main point of this meeting” he said
“Yeah” she said smiling
“You seem to be more comfortable around the dog” he pointed out
“I do?” she was incredulous and then she followed his gaze, she was absentmindedly stroking the toy dog in her lap. “Funny, I was always more of a cat person”
He made a noise of derision and she chuckled properly this time.
“I take it you are not fond of cats” she said
“Not in the slightest” he glanced down at the toy and pursed his lips “I—”
The phone rang, cutting him off and he cursed as he opened it “Speak” he scowled when the voice on the other end spoke “are you incompetent? I’ll be there in five minutes”
“What was that?” she asked
“I help run the zoo” he offered as he stood and grabbed his coat “and apparently the idiot who works for me has managed to loose a small child from the school group”
“The school group?” she demanded
“Yes” he sighed and looked frustrated for a moment
“I’m coming with you” she stood up and pulled her own coat on
“Excuse me?” he asked
“There is a lost child somewhere in that zoo of yours Sesshoumaru-san, I wouldn’t be a mother if I didn’t want to help” she started to push the bewildered demon out of the door and, due to his shock, he let her.
She had met a bewildered Sango at the zoo and they had hastily split from Sesshoumaru to cover the cat enclosure. But after half an hour of fruitless searching and hollering for the child their searches had yielded nothing and the airwaves were silent over Sango’s walkie-talkie.
They came to the zebra pen and split up, Kagome taking the track that would lead around the pen and eventually to the elephants and Sango took the route that would lead to the exits.
“Kanna!” Kagome yelled “Kanna?”
People were looking at her funny but she didn’t really care, in fact she was a bit annoyed at the less than subtle glances she was greeting. It was plaintively obvious she was trying to find someone, was there really a need to stare at her?
“Kanna?” she nearly fell over something and was caught by a pair of strong arms.
She looked up into icy blue eyes and realised that her rescuer was so close she was going cross eyed. She pulled back slightly to take in the fanged smirk that was kind of... lecherous.
“Hello there beautiful” he practically purred into her ear
“Um hi” she would have escaped by now except he had caught her at an awkward angle and was supporting all of her weight. She wasn’t sure she could get out of his hold anyway.
She glanced down at what she had tripped over and noticed a child’s white shoe. Glancing around quickly she spotted a small girl, deathly pale wearing the school uniform she had been told to look out for. She had short white hair and her dark eyes were fixed on the zebra grazing in front of her. She was missing both shoes and her socks, like she preferred being bare foot.
“Can you let me up?” she asked
“And why would I do that? When I’ve finally got you where I want you?” he asked wiggling his eyebrows in a way that reminded her of Miroku.
“Because the lost child is behind you” she pointed out
He immediately set her to her feet and walked over to the child. He began to yell at her for getting lost but Kagome didn’t hear it.
Because it was unimportant.
The important thing was the tail. This man who had stopped her from falling on her face was very obviously sporting a long brown tail. It swished from side to side as he talked.
Her brain shut down and her limbs locked in place. Her heart was beating so fast it was almost painful and tears formed a glassy film over her eyes. she was breathing like she had been submerged under water for years and though her entire body was still her hands were trembling.
Worse, dog demon.
“Kagome?” a deep soothing voice questioned, and suddenly she was submerged inside the soft yet unrelenting grip of someone. She didn’t know who, the only thing she knew was that being inside these arms was so familiar it hurt. It reminded her of the safety she had felt before in another’s arms. But this was tangibly different.
This saviour was taller, stronger and more secure. She tensed as she realised, as much as she wanted to deny it, she felt safer in the arms of this man that she had in his arms. The tears which had formed over her eyes fell freely now, and she had no idea what she was crying for.
Sesshoumaru. She recognised the voice the same time her legs gave out and her hands reached up to fist in the front of his shirt, clinging to him as if she would never let him go she sobbed again. Sobbed because of her fear, sobbed because of these arms, sobbed because she was a traitor. To feel like this with any other man made her wicked and she let out a tortured cry that nearly made Sesshoumaru collapse under the weight of it.
And what made it worse were his arms tightening in response and the soft smoothing of her hair. Because she liked it.
The noise of her crying increased.
Sesshoumaru had never been very good at dealing with crying women. And yet he found himself in this situation purely on the whims of his long forgotten instincts demanding that she be comforted. The stench of her fear had made him hug her and he had never hugged anyone, save for his mother, before. But when she had begun to cry he had nearly lost it, some deep and primal part of him agonised at the scent of her tears. But he had no idea on how to make her stop. So he held her, stroked her hair and prayed. He’d never prayed before either.
“I’m sorry” Kagome said sleepily. Apparently she had cried herself out and was now falling asleep in the passenger seat of Sesshoumaru’s car. She kept nuzzling the chair as she tried to get comfortable and he smirked slightly.
“It is fine” he wasn’t going to press her for details; she might start crying again, he wasn’t sure if he could handle that.
She chuckled softly at his expression and yawned hugely “I really... am ...sorry” she murmured before she actually fell asleep leant against the seat in his car.
He smiled a small smile and carefully tucked a strand of dark hair behind her ear. He wasn’t sure why he cared for this woman, but he did and he was pretty sure nothing was going to change that.
He pulled up outside the small house she had given the address to and climbed out of the car. As he opened the passenger door he pondered waking her to let her walk to the house on her own but decided against it and instead scooped her from the seat and cradled her to his chest.
He didn’t even need to knock on the door before it was opened and he looked down into the familiar eyes of the girl, Rin, who had befriended his Chow.
She gave a questioning glance towards her mother.
“She is sleeping” he said softly so as not to wake her “where is her bedroom?”
“Oh my god!” a female voice screeched and he almost rolled his eyes at the woman who appeared from what was apparently the sitting room. “What did you do to her? Let her go!”
“Sango?” a bleary Kagome asked as she cracked open an eye to look at her friend
“Kagome!” Sango yelped “are you okay?”
“Mmm, just sleepy” Kagome yawned and snuggled back into Sesshoumaru’s embrace- not that in her sleep befuddled state she realised who was holding her “please be quiet” and she promptly fell back asleep.
Sango did an excellent goldfish impression at her best friend and glanced at Sesshoumaru.
“Where is her room?” he asked
Sango was about to answer but Rin cut in “I’ll show you” she said quietly smiling at the demon.
Sango, watching the three of them head up the stairs, conceded that there was obviously something more to Sesshoumaru than she had first thought. Which was creepy in and of its self. She rubbed her temples.
A/N: I don’t own Inuyasha. Please review!