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Ladies Choice by SunsetMiko

Ladies Choice

Inuyasha couldn't stop twitching with a combination of excitement and impatience. Tonight was finally the night. He studied his surroundings in hopes that it would make the moment come sooner. He was sitting in a large circle of all the village men, a brightly burning bonfire in the center. He wasn't the only one looking eager, either. Most of the men held the same expression as he did, with only a few exceptions.

It was the annual fertility festival, held to bring good luck and healthy crops. Last year's harvest had been meager at best, and somehow the villagers had gotten it into their heads that if a miko of Kagome's power were to participate, they would be guaranteed a much better result. It might have had something to do with all the less than subtle hints Inuyasha had dropped. After a lot of persuasion and begging from the community, Kagome had finally agreed to participate.

It was 'ladies choice' as the miko from the future had called it. All the men sat, waiting and watching, as every woman of age came out one by one. She would dance around the bonfire before selecting the male of her choice. The married women chose their husbands, of course, while the single women chose their desired husband before leading them away to continue in a more private location.

The hanyou couldn't wait. Kagome's turn was coming, being placed directly in the middle of the line of women to mark the midpoint of the ritual. She would choose him and finally he would get to see her, touch her, and most importantly, rut her like he'd wanted to do since he first laid eyes on her several years ago. There was no doubt in his mind that he would be her choice. Who else was there? She wasn't interested in a simple villager, Miroku was sure to be claimed by Sango, and there was no way in hell she would even consider the block of ice sitting two spots away. Inuyasha didn't know why his brother was even there. No village woman would dare to approach him and he would end up alone at the end of the ritual. The hanyou smirked. It would serve him right to be humiliated in such a way, the arrogant prick.

-

Sesshoumaru watched as each woman danced around the circle before choosing their desired mate. He couldn't really explain what he was doing there. He'd joined Inuyasha's traveling party some time ago in hopes of a quicker defeat of Naraku, but that didn't mean he needed to be here! Still, after a great deal of mental debate, he'd been unable to stay away. He was surprised that Kagome had agreed to participate in something she'd explained was a pointless exercise. Crop growth was dependant on weather patterns and the richness of the soil, not on how many villagers paired up to mate on a given night. Still, she had caved and from that moment on, he'd had an uncontrollable urge to be there waiting when her turn came.

The taiyoukai watched with disinterest as the slayer came out of the village hall and began her dance. She was shy, hesitant, but after circling the bonfire once, she stopped in front of the monk as expected and allowed him to lead her away, a bright red blush coloring her cheeks. Finally, it was the miko's turn.

-

Kagome was nervous. She knew what she had to do and who she intended to choose, but that didn't make things any easier. The whole idea was intimidating, but she'd agreed and would not let them down by backing out at the last minute. The villagers looked up to her, had accepted her despite her obvious differences, and they were convinced that her participation would help.

She sucked in a deep breath and stepped outside, seeing the looks of hope and eager anticipation on nearly all the males' faces as she entered the circle. It was her turn.

-

Inuyasha's eyes widened as he took in the sight of her. She looked incredible in a traditional multilayered silk kimono. It was more ornate than the other women's had been, as it had been decided that she was the most important participant of the ritual. It shimmered in the firelight as she moved, swaying her hips seductively as she looked over each male that still remained. She had a lot to choose from still and, as was tradition, she had to evaluate each one, searching for the best match for her.

She saw Inuyasha's face light up as she passed him and a wave of guilt flooded through her. He was not going to be happy. Still, she had made her choice and her pace quickened as she spotted him. She continued her dance, rounding the fire one more time, before pausing before the hanyou. When he rose to his knees, ready to leap to his feet, she placed her hand on his forehead and pushed him back down.

"I'm sorry, Inuyasha," she whispered, knowing he would hear anyway. She watched as confusion flitted across his face before anger took its place. She knew this wasn't going to be easy, and it wasn't. Still, she knew she had made the right decision. Inuyasha wasn't the man for her. She needed someone who saw her for her, who appreciated her strengths instead of constantly calling attention to her weaknesses. She refused to spend her life living in the shadows of the woman who came before her, and she would not simply sleep with Inuyasha for the sake of the festival. She couldn't. She believed that sex should mean something, and she only hoped she hadn't been seeing something when there was nothing.

Kagome came to a stop in front of Sesshoumaru, a shiver running down her spine when his eyes locked with hers. There was such heat, such promise. Still, he didn't move. Unlike Inuyasha, it seemed, he would be following the rules of the ritual. He was waiting for her.

-

He hadn't been able to keep the smirk off his face when the miko rejected his younger half-brother. The boy did not deserve her, had never treated her right. He was only thankful that she had finally realized this. When she came to a stop before him, his heart rate sped up in a way that had never happened before, his blood heating in his veins. Still, he waited. He would not be so presumptuous as to assume her pause meant she had chosen. The look in her eyes spoke volumes and his beast rose up in his mind, demanding he go to her, that he take what she was offering. He continued to wait, however, as she stared at him.

"Sesshoumaru," she whispered, her voice shaking as much as the hand she raised towards him in invitation.

As the taiyoukai moved to rise, Inuyasha snarled. "Oh, hell no!"

"Sit," Kagome said softly as her chosen male stood and took her hand, sending the half-demon crashing to the ground. "You will not ruin their ritual, Inuyasha."

"You're not going with him," the hanyou growled, lifting his head from the ground. "Over my dead body."

"That can be arranged, little brother," Sesshoumaru said, his tone warning the boy to test him.

"I have chosen, Inuyasha. You will sit here," she paused as her friend hit the ground again, this time more gently, " and finish the ritual."

In a gust of wind, the miko and taiyoukai disappeared, leaving behind an angry and hurt Inuyasha. Still, he knew attempting to follow would only end in more pain, both physical and emotional. He could only hope that Kagome would realize her mistake and come back to him. It's not like Sesshoumaru would mark her or anything. He'd rut her and abandon her, leaving her to come crawling back to the hanyou, who would accept her, after he made her grovel a bit. With a sigh, he sat back up, shooting glares at anyone who dared to look at him. The rest of the night was going to suck. No one would choose him, a half-demon. Now he suddenly wished he hadn't manipulated the situation to get Kagome to participate. Things hadn't turned out like he had planned at all.

-

Kagome gasped as she tried to regain her balance. It felt like her brain was still swirling in her head. She'd never moved so fast before in her life! Finally she looked up at Sesshoumaru, her nervousness obvious, though the look in his eyes calmed her greatly.

"Tell me, Miko," when she frowned at him, he corrected himself, "Kagome. If I had not been there, would you have chosen the whelp?"

"No," she replied softly, shaking her head.

"You would have chosen a simple village man?"

"No," she answered again. Seeing his eyebrow raise, the corners of her lips turned up in a small smile.

"You would have backed out after agreeing to participate then?"

"No." When he growled in frustration, she elaborated. "I knew you would be there."

His still raised eyebrow quirked even higher and Kagome couldn't help but giggle. "How could you possibly know such a thing? I did not decide to attend until the last minute."

"That's not true and you know it. I knew you would be there. That was the only reason I agreed in the first place." Seeing he needed more, she continued. "It was in your eyes, Sesshoumaru. When we were all talking about it, when I was trying to make up my mind, I saw it in your eyes. Then I spent the rest my time before the ritual worried that I'd only imagined it. I shouldn't have. I should have known you wouldn't let me down."

Sesshoumaru's hand came up to gently cup her cheek, before tucking her hair behind her ear. "You must understand that I will not simply rut you and leave." When she gave him a questioning look, he explained. "I will make you my mate."

Kagome's eyes widened in surprise. "But why would you... I'm just a human."

"No, Kagome, you are so much more. You are kind and loyal, compassionate and brave, powerful and honorable."

"What if I needed more time to think about it?"

"Then I would have to return you to the village until you have made your choice."

"So, you can't just have sex with me?" He shook his head. "Not even if I'm considering becoming your mate?"

"No."

"Why not?" she asked, more curious than anything.

"Because I have wanted you for far too long. My beast would ensure that you are marked, with or without your permission. I will not mate you against your will."

The miko smiled softly. She'd always known he had honor. "Well, I can't let the villagers down."

Sesshoumaru frowned, turning slightly so she couldn't see his face. That little sentence had hurt more than he'd expected. . "You would give yourself to me in the name of a ritual you described as a pointless superstition?"

Kagome laid her hand on his back, but when he tensed at her touch, she pulled back. The taiyoukai immediately regretted it. Her touch had felt so good. Still, he would not mate her if that was her reason. He wanted her, all of her, of her own free will.

"Sesshoumaru," she whispered. "I was only teasing. You should know me well enough by now to know I would never do that."

"Hn." The taiyoukai couldn't bring himself to turn around and face her. She hadn't denied him yet, but she certainly hadn't accepted either and a part of him was terrified that she would reject him.

"Sesshoumaru, look at me," she said softly. Her tone called to him and he found he couldn't deny her.

Kagome shifted around for a moment, loosening the many layers of silk that seemed to be weighing her down more and more every second. Finally he turned and locked eyes with her, making her smile.

"If I were your mate," she asked, "would you protect me, keep me safe?" As she spoke the question, the outermost layer fell to the ground around her and she took a step towards him.

"Yes," he replied, more heatedly than he'd intended. He couldn't help it. There she was, his desired mate, slowly removing her clothing.

"Would you provide for me?" Another layer slipped off her shoulders and she stepped closer.

"Yes."

"Would you be true to me, be with only me?" One more fell. One more step.

"If you were to be my mate, Kagome, I would not so much as glance at another woman."

She smiled softly. "Would you support my dreams?" Another silken kimono drifted to the ground, growing the trail of discarded items behind her and she took another step in his direction.

"I would support you in anything you desire to do." 

"Would you," she paused, blushing slightly pink, "please me?"

"Yesssss," he hissed, aching for her by now, the slow striptease like torture.

When she didn't speak again, he decided to continue, moving to stand directly in front of her. He slid his hands under the outermost layer that remained of her kimono, dropping it to the ground as she spoke, just as she had been doing. "I would worship you, live only for your happiness."

He repeated the action again, adding to the growing pool of silk around her ankles. "I would gladly live my life on bended knee as your servant if it were to make you smile."

"Sesshoumaru?" She looked up into his eyes as nervousness flooded her scent.

"Anything, Kagome. I will give you anything, everything."

"Could... could you love me?" The miko watched in awe as he smiled at her.

"I already do."  Sesshoumaru stood frozen as she dropped the final layer, leaving her in nothing but strange little scraps of fabric that covered just the essentials, making his blood heat further.

"Show me?" Her hands were shaking as reached up to cup his cheek. He leaned into her touch, his smile growing into a wicked smirk.

"As you wish." The taiyoukai leaned down, capturing her lips with his own and kissed her passionately, so much so that Kagome felt lightheaded while heat suffused her body from the top of her head to the tips of fingers and toes. He sure knew how to kiss a girl! Then, just as quickly, he pulled back and studied her face. "Kagome, I need to hear you say it."

She gave him a dumbfounded look for a moment before gathering her wits and grinning like a fool. "Yes, Sesshoumaru, I would be honored to be your mate."

In an instant he was on her again, long tapered, claw-tipped fingers slipping under the straps on her shoulders and sliding them down. "A very wise choice."

-

Inuyasha had yet to wipe the scowl off his face as he watched woman after woman come out, dance, and choose someone other than him, just as he'd expected. He was in a world all his own, not really paying attention anymore as he mentally ranted and raved at Kagome for betraying him and Sesshoumaru for being the biggest bastard he'd ever met by accepting her.

"She didn't choose you," a soft, feminine voice whispered, causing the hanyou to look up.

"No, she didn't," he growled, his voice laced with hatred.

The young woman appeared to hesitate for a moment, looking as if she was considering moving on before deciding against it. "Would you accept a consolation prize?"

Inuyasha's eyes snapped to her face in confusion, finally really looking at her for the first time. She had long, straight hair and soft brown eyes, with features so like Kikyo's. She was beautiful, but shy and the hanyou smiled. This wasn't the first time he'd noticed this angel, but he'd always decided against pursuing her because of his obsession with Kagome. Perhaps... Maybe Kagome wasn't meant to be his after all. Maybe this sweet little soft spoken thing was his destiny. She looked so much like his first love, even more that the miko from the future, and from everything he knew about her, she was similar in temperament to Kikyo as well, the Kikyo of better times.

He realized he must have been thinking for too long, as she'd begun to fidget nervously. "You're not a consolation prize. You're beautiful, Wench." When she held her hand out to him, Inuyasha rose and took it, allowing her to lead him away. Kagome could deal with the mess she'd made by choosing Sesshoumaru. It wasn't his problem and he was going to be far too busy with his new girl.

-

Kagome was smiling brightly while absently trailing her fingers along chiseled muscles covered with silken skin. "This turned out better than I'd imagined."

Sesshoumaru leaned closer, nuzzling his head against hers before burying his nose in her hair. She smelled of him now, his mark ensuring everyone would know who she belonged to. "Indeed."

 

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