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The One to Steal My Heart by BelovedStranger

Chapter 1

AUTHOR'S NOTE

I dedicate this first chapter to the Tou-sama Challenge!

I was going to stop here, but Stella encouraged me to make a twoshot, so expect another chapter. The first chapter is NOT M/A for sexual content; however, the second chapter WILL be M/A sexually. No YIM’s!  

Thank you, Stellaki, for editing and being a treasured friend! You are always an inspiration to me.

A woman with long, black, flowing hair, which cascaded down her back in waves, contrasted starkly against the white haori worn by miko, was kneeling upon the grassy ground, picking herbs on a small hillside near the forest, while her village lay behind her on the other side of the hill in the distance.

A small smile of contentment graced her lush lips as her hand reached out to pluck yet another plant, but just before wrapping her long, supple fingers around the tall stem, a small cry filtered to her ears, freezing the woman momentarily.

Brown eyes lifted from the plant to gaze around the hillside, her intense gaze taking in everything. She stood without haste, her ears picking up nothing more sinister than the light breeze that ruffled her clothes and blew her hair to the side in gentle waves. However, she was not fooled by the deceptive calm.

She took a small step towards the trees when she paused. Towards her left, the brush rustled before a small form stumbled out, almost falling in his or her haste. Beautiful, silver hair caught the sunlight as the small figure glanced back into the forest, all the while trying to put more distance away from the trees.

Seconds later, a massive wolf emerged, growling at the small figure, its hackles raised. Kagome was instantly on the move, her bow clenched in her fist; she notched an arrow in a quick motion born from experience and took aim at the creature that was no ordinary wolf, its large size and aura signifying it to be a youkai.

The wolf youkai pounced as the child fell to the ground with a small, feminine cry, but before the child was harmed, an arrow filled with purifying light pierced its hide, dissolving the youkai in midair.

Kagome slowly walked towards the tiny form huddling on the ground, trembling. Kagome did not want to frighten the child more, so when she got close, she set her bow to one side as she lowered herself to her knees, getting her first real look at the child.

Kagome could see that this child was in fact a girl as she took in the child’s delicate features. Round cheeks smudged with dirt and red from running, a tiny nose and chin, but what really caught Kagome’s attention were the demonic stripes no amount of dirt could hide and a pair of wide, frightened eyes unnatural in hue, for they were a vibrant amber color. Pointed ears peaked out from the silver main, and tiny fangs were revealed with every panting breath.

Kagome could feel the demonic energy emanating from this child, an unmistakable sign that what sat before her, trembling in fright, was no ordinary child but a youkai. Regardless, Kagome smiled, hoping to calm her.

As a miko, it was her duty to eradicate youkai as many humans believe them to be evil; however, Kagome did not share in this belief. Like humans, demons had the same capacity to be kind and generous, like some humans could me cruel and wicked. A person’s species did not dictate if he was good or bad. Understanding the distinction, she refused to kill indiscriminately just because someone was born a certain way.

Looking at this beautiful child, who wore a dirty but obviously expensive lavender kimono, Kagome knew she could not kill her. Smiling again, making sure she did not appear threatening, Kagome spoke in a low voice. “You are safe now, child. No one shall harm you.”

The girl did not respond but continued to watch her with no lessoning of fear. Kagome was not offended by her lack of response and mistrust. Instead. she continued speaking in the same low tone, hoping to calm her.

“I am Kagome, little one. I will not harm you. What is your name?”

Still no response.

“You are safe,” Kagome repeated. “Where is your family? I’m sure they are worried about you. I’ll help you find them.”

At that moment, golden eyes filled with tears. “I—I don’t know where they are.” The vulnerability lacing the words caused Kagome’s throat to tighten.

Unable to help herself, she opened her arms to the girl. She didn’t expect the child to react, but Kagome couldn’t stop herself from making the offer to comfort the obviously distraught girl. Surprisingly, after a second of hesitation, lavender silk blurred before a small, trembling form collided against her chest, holding onto her haori tightly.

Kagome wrapped her arms around her slight frame, laying her cheek on the silver head, stroking a small back soothingly. “I’m sure you mother will find you soon. I’ll wait here with you, alright?”

Kagome leaned back obligingly when the child moved to gaze up at her. “My haha is dead, but my chichi… I can’t find him.”

More tears welled and spilled down the girl’s face, and Kagome’s heart went out to her, for she understood the pain and loss of losing a mother at such a tender age.

Bringing out a white handkerchief, Kagome used it to first dry the child’s eyes, before gently removing the dirt that coated her porcelain skin, baring her demonic markings in full view. They were a striking maroon color, one on each cheek, and further cleansing revealed what her bangs concealed, a blue crescent moon at the center of her forehead.

Kagome understood such markings signified a very powerful youkai clan; though, she knew not which clan this one represented. She was slightly apprehensible herself after uncovering that particular mark but hid her feelings by gathering the child close to her chest once more, stroking her fingers through her silver mane. She hoped this child’s father was not violent as she did not wish to fight him, but if he decided to attack the village..? She held the girl tighter, waiting for him to show.

It was a little over an hour later when Kagome sensed a powerful demonic aura approaching. The girl had fallen asleep in her arms after crying her heart out, and Kagome’s knees had gone numb from the extra weight placed upon them. The aura was familiar to the child’s, so Kagome knew instinctively who their visitor was. Thinking about her useless legs, she knew if the youkai chose to attack, she would be unable to do much considering the circumstance; however, she would defend herself the best she could if need be. Even though she was young herself, only fifteen summers, she was not completely defenseless.

A tall shadow appeared among the trees, hidden from her view until he stepped forward and into the sunlight. He was beautiful, was Kagome’s first unwarranted thought. Her eyes took him in quickly, drinking in his almost feminine beauty; though, there was no way to deny his masculine physique. His shoulders were wide, a strange white pelt at his right shoulder, and spiked armor covering an elegant, white haori with a red flower design near the bottom of the huge sleeves. His hakama were white as well, clenched at the ankle around black boots. A yellow obi with a blue striped design towards the ends held up two swords sheathed at his left hip.

Kagome hoped they stayed sheathed. Her eyes settled on his claws almost hidden from view by his sleeves, knowing he did not need to draw his swords to be a danger to her. She could tell he was suppressing his aura, making him an even more powerful opponent than she had previously conceived. She wondered if she would survive a battle with him should he choose to attack.

Her eyes went back to his regal face, his elfin features spellbinding, and she noticed that he had similar demonic markings, two magenta stripes on high cheek bones and a crescent moon proudly displayed on his forehead. Even his hair was the same silvery sheen as the little girl’s, but his reached down to his thighs, the wind playing with the glistening locks.

Again she thought that he was the most beautiful creature she had ever had the privilege to lay eyes upon, until her brown orbs met icy golden ones so like the little girl’s if not for the cool, detached gaze he leveled upon her. Kagome knew instinctively that she was in the presence of a predator, a hunter that would show no mercy to his enemies.

The child woke with a jolt in her arms, her head swiveling around to look up at the male, before crying out happily. “Father!” Then she squirmed in Kagome’s arms, and Kagome allowed her to escape her embrace and run towards the tall, white figure. Her small hands clenching in his hakama when she stood before him. The top of her head didn’t even reach her father’s hips.

Kagome watched as his eyes left hers to watch his child approach before leveling a comforting hand on her head, gently stroking. “Are you well?”

His voice was deep and caused tremors of awareness to shake Kagome’s frame. His voice was a wicked temptation that she had never heard the like before.

Nodding, the child answered, looking up at him with a bright smile. “Yes!” Then the girl looked over at Kagome, still smiling. “She saved me from the wolf youkai and then waited with me until you came for me.” She sniffled, rubbing her face in his pants. “I knew you’d come,” came her muffled reply.

The powerful youkai bent at the waist, picking up his child, before standing straight once more. His eyes again met Kagome’s with a slightly less frosty expression. He bowed his head to her in thanks before turning his back and disappearing into the trees.

Kagome watched, unmoving for long minutes after their departure, until even his aura was gone, before she stood with difficulty, her legs protesting the blood that rushed through her abused limbs. Her bow in hand, she used it as a crutch until her legs could support her without aid. She returned to her abandoned basket of herbs, gazing down at it unseeing, while her mind conjured up an image of the youkai’s tall, masculine frame.

One week later, Kagome was once again at the hillside picking herbs, but her mind was elsewhere. Ever since that day she had saved that silver haired child and met the girl’s father, Kagome had felt his demonic aura on several occasions. She had never caught sight of him, but she knew he was there, watching her; though, she knew not why, and it was troubling her.

Why did he not show himself?

She felt him now, but she did not bother looking for him, knowing he would only show himself when he wanted her to see him. Would he ever approach her? Did she want him to?

A small girl’s laugh interrupted her thoughts, and Kagome gazed up to see the same silver haired child run towards her, squealing her name with a huge smile. “Kagome!”

Setting aside her basket, she opened her arms just in time to catch the girl, who hugged her fiercely. Kagome smiled fondly at her, hugging her close. Before she could do anything more, the child was leaning back, gazing up at her with those unforgettable eyes.

“I’ve missed you, and Chichi let me come see you.”

“Your father?” Kagome looked over the child’s head to see the imposing youkai staring back at her with a bland expression.

Kagome felt her heart skip a beat and a flush spread across her face as she realized she had missed him. Both of them, she amended silently, holding the child tighter. Her eyes still on him, she watched as he inclined his head in greeting before sitting, settling against a tree trunk.

“Did you miss me, too?” the bundle in her arms asked shyly.

Seeing the anxiety in those inhuman eyes, Kagome smiled fondly down at her, stroking her striped cheek. “Yes, I missed you very much.”

She received a hug in answer, and the girl settled against her with a content sigh. Kagome’s eyes went to the silent youkai who watched them with a steady gaze. Carrying her light yet precious burden, Kagome walked towards the male before stopping several feet in front of him. Lowering to her knees, the child stubbornly clung to her, and played with her black locks.

Kagome had a few questions for him, but by the child’s words and actions, it was obvious his child had asked to see her again, and he had been unable to deny her request. Picturing this imposing figure doting on is young melted her heart.

“You have been watching me to see if it was safe for your daughter, haven’t you?”

His eyes lowered to his child before answering. “My pup wished to see you.”

Kagome was inwardly glad he would indulge his ‘pup’s’ wishes, for truthfully, she had wished to see them again—to see him. She didn’t know why she was so attracted towards this man, this youkai, but she was happy just to see him, to be talking with him.

“I’m happy to see her again,” Kagome admitted, omitting the fact that she was also glad to see him.

They were silent a moment while his pup continued to play with her hair, obviously content just to be held. Kagome noticed the girl would sometimes bury her nose in her haori, taking in her scent most likely. Her heart melted once more towards the child.

“What is your name? I’m Kagome; though, I’m sure you already knew that.” Kagome stroked the pup’s mane, enjoying its silky softness. Part of her wished she could do the same with the child’s father, but she refrained from reaching out to touch the few strands that fell over his breast plate.

“Sesshomaru.”

“’The Killing Perfection,’” mussed Kagome with a small smile. She had no doubt that he lived up to his name and then some.

“I’m Amaterasu!” piped in the little girl, leaning back to look up at Kagome with proud eyes.

Amaterasu meant ‘illuminates Heaven’ and ‘sun goddess’. Kagome could see this precious child also lived up to her name as her smile could rival that of the suns.

“That’s a very beautiful name, Amaterasu,” Kagome told her truthfully.

For the following months, Sesshomaru would bring Amaterasu to see Kagome while they played or Amaterasu helped Kagome pick herbs, learning about all their uses and how to prepare them. Sometimes, Kagome would even bring rice balls or other small treats; thought, the first few occasions Kagome had to allow Sesshomaru to check for poisons.

Kagome wasn’t upset by his mistrust as he was simply being cautious where his pup was concerned and even consented to eat one after weeks of presenting the treats to Amaterasu and both of their insistence he try one. Kagome felt immeasurably pleased to give Sesshomaru food she had prepared, no matter how humble the fare.

Once he even brought cooked trout to go with the tea Kagome had gotten into the habit of bringing since that was usually all Sesshomaru would accept from her. Kagome was happy and wished she could see them more often, but she never pushed. It was enough that he was there, never late on those cherished days.

Kagome felt closer to him every time she saw him, and sometimes she would catch an answering look in his gaze when she would happen to catch him staring at her. Her heart would flutter every time, her flesh heat up, but neither of them ever did more than exchange intimate glances, knowing that fate had dealt them different destinies.

She was a ningen and a shrine maiden at that while he was a powerful daiyoukai. Any relationship beyond friendship was impossible between them, and they accepted it without complaint even though their hearts, their very souls, cried out for the other.

They had been meeting at the same sport on the hillside for half a year when a traveling monk named Eiji came to her village. He had just planned on passing through, but he had become ill and feverish. He was a monk, set in his ways with strong faith, but when he saw the beautiful woman who took care of him with such gentle hands, he fell in love.

By her clothes he knew her to be a miko, her raven hair tied back in the traditional style of shrine maidens and he knew one such as her normally did not take a husband, but after four days of being in her company while he recovered, he knew he had to have her as his own.

After he had regained his strength, he asked her if he could speak with her alone.

Eiji walked with her through her small village, not touching her; except for the heated glances he could not help but shoot her way. Finally, he built the courage to speak.

“Miko-dono, there is something of some importance I wish to ask you.”

“What is it, monk?” Her voice was music to his ears, soft and soothing. He tried valiantly to turn his thoughts away from unchaste images of Kagome, but it was near impossible.

He cleared his throat. “I know we have just me and I was ill, but I beg for you to hear me out.”

He paused and was grateful when she did not interrupt while he marshaled his features and turned to look at her, stopping in a secluded part of the village. He took her right hand in both of his, a stern look on his face as he refused to show emotion or how much this moment meant to him. He was a highly disciplined individual, able to school his features in a permanent straight face so as not to give away his innermost thoughts.

Unlike this woman who glowed with an inner light, her eyes giving away her emotions always, but he didn’t mind, not with her. He wished one day that she would gaze up at him as she was now but not with kind regard but with love.

He stroked her wrist while he spoke. “I would take you as my wife, miko–dono, Kagome.”

He saw her part her lips to speak, but he interrupted her before words could fall. “I don’t own much, but I would care for you, protect you always. I am not an unkind man, and I would always treat you with respect.” His lascivious thoughts taunted him when he spoke the last part, imagining her naked with her limbs tangled with his own.

Her eyes did not shine with happiness at his words as he had wished but sadness, and he knew before she spoke what she would say.

“I am sorry, monk—” she began before he tightened his hold on her hand, interrupting her once more.

“Eiji, please. Kagome, I must insist you use my name.”

“Eiji,” she obliged him, and his member swelled at the sound of his name coming from her luscious lips, lips he wished to put to more pleasurable use around the flesh that strained between his thighs.

“Kagome,” he whispered her name, his face showing his yearning as he allowed her, only her, to see his true feelings. He had to have her.

Before he knew what he was doing, he pulled on her hand, bringing her flushed against his chest, feeling her breasts pressed against him. Then he was kissing her. One hand tangled in her hair, untying the white ribbon so the black mass would cascade down her back in waves, while he kept her close to him with his free hand at her lower back, pressing her into his stiff erection.

She was stiff against him, but he didn’t notice. All he could feel was her ripe lips against his, her body flushed with his, and he was on fire. He tried to deepen the kiss by stroking his tongue along the seam of her lips, but she refused to open for him. Instead, she pushed against his chest with surprising strength, her arms muscular from labor and long hours of practicing with her bow and arrows.

She slapped his face, her cheeks red not with passion but anger, as her brown orbs flashed at him with indignation. He refused to touch his stinging cheek as she began to speak.

“I would appreciate it if you did not manhandle and maul me, monk. I am sorry, but I do not return your feelings nor can I become your wife. My father is sick, and I must take care of him. I do not have the luxury of marriage, Eiji.” Kagome started out heatedly, but then towards the end calmed her words, not wanting to hurt his feelings even after his actions towards her.

Eiji stood stiffly before her, his features once more schooled to hide his hurt feelings and anger at her total rejection of him as a man. He bowed his head stiffly, murmuring words of apology. “Forgive me, miko-dono. I did not mean to offend. If you do not mind, I need a moment alone.”

When she nodded her head, he turned away from her and started walking. He had to get away from her. He was angry at her refusal, and an eerie calmness stole over him while he went over her words. She may not return his feelings, but it seemed it was her father that kept her from him. If only her father wasn’t in the way, he thought maliciously.

Though he was a monk, Eiji knew he had un-monk-like tendencies he knew others would consider…despicable; however, he always justified himself in one form or another, and as a plan of obtaining Kagome as his wife formed, a handy excuse filtered like a dark whisper in his mind. It was merciful to end the suffering of sick, old men, wasn’t it?

The next day was the day Sesshomaru brought Amaterasu to see her, and Kagome was thankful for the distraction as she sought to forget about the monk Eiji. She was picking flowers with Amaterasu, teaching her the meanings behind each, but another part of her mind was preoccupied. She may not have welcomed or enjoyed Eiji’s kiss, but her mind replaced the monk with Sesshomaru.

What would it be like to kiss the regal daiyoukai? To be pressed intimately against his powerful frame without his armor between them. Unconsciously, she pressed her fingers to her lips as her imaginings got away with her. She didn’t even noticed she’d become silent in her lessons when Amaterasu tugged at her sleeve to regain her attention.

Blushing at her wayward thoughts, Kagome looked down at the child. “Uh, yes, Amaterasu?”

“Are you alright, Kagome? You’re quiet and your face is red.”

Before she could answer and reassure the child, Sesshomaru was there, standing tall before her. Her blush intensified at his close proximity when she remembered his part in her not so innocent musings.

“Sesshomaru?” Was that her voice? It came out low and breathy, embarrassing her. She hoped he hadn’t noticed, but she just knew he had. She had come to learn that nothing escaped his notice.

She stood with her head tipped back to stare up at him, waiting for his response, almost afraid to hear what he had to say. Instead, he lowered his head, her eyes widening as her heart stuttered in her chest, her mind jumping to conclusions. He was going to kiss her.

Her eyes lowered slightly as his face drew closer, his breath against her cheek, but instead of placing his lips over hers, his forehead descended on hers.

“You are warm, miko.”

Kagome blinked in confusion until his words sunk in and she blushed fiercely. “No, I’m not sick. I’m fine, really,” she tried to reassure him when he leaned back and gazed down at her with unbelieving eyes.

Then she saw his nostrils flare as if he were sniffing the air. His eyes widened slightly before they lowered and became heated. Her stomach clenched at his gaze, her breath coming in sharp pants. His hand rose to cup her cheek, lightly stroking.

“Miko—” he began but was interrupted as a shrill feminine voice echoed his words. Kagome reached for him unconsciously when he lowered his arm and stepped back, his gaze turned away from her.

Dropping her arm, Kagome turned to follow his gaze, seeing a village woman she recognized running towards them, calling out to her. “Miko! Oh, miko, come quick!” 

Facing the older woman fully, Kagome focused on her, brows lowered in a frown of worry.

“What is it?” Kagome’s hands came out as the woman reached for her, holding onto her hands tightly.

“It’s your father,” the older woman panted between breaths, before her words came to a halt after noticing the tall youkai behind Kagome, gazing up at him in wonder. It was obvious the woman could not tell he was a demon, but it was just as obvious she was spell bonded by his angelic features. 

Slightly jealous but mostly worried, Kagome shook the woman’s hands that still held hers. “Tell me what has happened to my father!”

The woman gave a violent start before her eyes fell once more on Kagome and began tugging at their bound hands, dragging Kagome forward.

“He is ill! He was found by another villager, thrashing upon the ground, clutching at his throat! He was taken to his home and is now unconscious.”

Eyes wide in fear, Kagome ran across the field, over the hill towards the village, forgetting about Sesshomaru and Amaterasu in her panic to see her father. She knew that Sesshomaru followed close behind, his aura giving him away, but she did not once glance back at him as she ran. She had never run so fast in her life as she raced through the village until she came to the hut she shared with her father, rushing through the flap at the opening without removing her sandals as was custom.

She went into the back where her father’s small room was and saw that Eiji was already there, bent over her father. He glanced up at her entrance, his eyes narrowing in recognition at the presence behind her, but Kagome was unaware of his reaction while she knelt by her father. She took his withered hand in hers, but he was unresponsive even after she called out to him.

“Father? Father, please wake up.”

“Kagome,” Eiji tried to gain her attention, but she was busy feeling for her father’s pulse. It was there, but weak. His skin was ashen, sweat saturating his hair and clothes. He was sick, possibly dying and she had no idea why or how.

A hand settled on her shoulder, and Kagome reached back, thinking it was Sesshomaru, but she didn’t feel claws. Glancing back, it was Eiji standing behind her after moving silently while she had been busy fretting over her father. She lowered her hand, gazing back at her beloved father’s face.

Images of her mother’s face in death came to haunt her, and she closed her eyes in denial. He wouldn’t die, he couldn’t.

As if he read her thoughts, Eiji said, “Kagome, I am sorry, but he is dying.”

“He’s fine,” Kagome replied fiercely.

“Kagome—” Eiji tried again, but she interrupted him rudely.

“Please, leave.”

She felt his hand tense on her shoulder, before pulling away. “As you wish.”

Kagome didn’t watch Eiji move around Sesshomaru and exit the room, but she heard him, and she knew he had to know what Sesshomaru was. When she sensed Sesshomaru move, she thought he was about to leave, too.

“Please, stay.”

She didn’t want to be alone right now, didn’t want him to leave her to her sorrow.

She looked up when she saw him kneel on the other side of her father where Eiji had been, his eyes looking down at her father, and she wondered what he thought about ningen. He could live for centuries while humans couldn’t even live to one.

Now in this moment, she needed him, needed his strength to get her through this emotional ordeal. Her eyes went back to her father as she yearned for Sesshomaru to take her into his arms and hold her, comfort her, but she did not ask.

“He has been poisoned.”

Kagome looked up at Sesshomaru sharply. “Poisoned? But how?”

“I do not know, but he is nearly gone.”

Kagome stifled a cry at his words.

“But I may be able to save him.”

“How? Please, tell me!” Tears were in her eyes as well as hope while she watched Sesshomaru. He lifted his gaze to meet hers, the calmness there affecting her, slowing down her panic racing heart.

“I have poison of my own. I might be able to counteract the toxins in his body by administering it. However, it may already be too late, and he was frail even before the poison.” Sesshomaru was warning her not to get her hopes up, and in that moment she knew she loved him.

She lowered her gaze in case it was written all over her face. “Do it. Please, help my father, Sesshomaru.”

Reaching out and with gentle hands, Sesshomaru raised her father’s kimono sleeve, baring his left arm. Kagome watched as Sesshomaru’s sharp claws pierced the flesh of her father’s wrist, a green glow emanating from them. After only a few seconds, Sesshomaru released her father, his wrist flaming red, the nail marks burnt black.

She winced at the pain her father must have felt, but he hadn’t even flinched and this worried her. She feared it was because he was already dead as she could not see his chest moving.

Fear choked her. “Is he..?”

As if reading her thoughts, Sesshomaru answered. “He yet lives. You must watch him this night, miko. If my poison works, then he should wake tomorrow.”

Tears spilled over as Kagome gazed at him with gratitude. “Thank you. Sesshomaru, thank you.”

He nodded his head, his eyes softening at the sight of her tears.

After composing herself, wiping her moist eyes, Kagome stood. “Would you like some tea? It’ll only take me a moment to prepare.”

Kagome silently compelled him to agree. She wasn’t ready for him to leave her just yet. When he stood, she feared he meant to decline and leave her, but instead, he nodded his head. She smiled in relief, leaving the room to bustle around the fire pit in the central room, Sesshomaru following her and knelt on the other side while she prepared the tea.

After handing him a cup, Kagome couldn’t help but give into temptation and sat beside him, blowing on her own cup of steaming green tea. They drank in companionable silence for a short spell before conversing quietly.

They talked about Kagome’s childhood, how she grew up with her father and older sister Kikyo, who played the mother after their mother had died when she was young, about her dreams and wishes. Then she asked Sesshomaru to tell her about himself and was surprised when he complied. He spoke about his childhood as well, about his powerful father, his battles, and also about his pups.

Kagome learned that he had three other pups, all males. She was sad that they no longer had a mother and she said as much.

“Amaterasu said your wife died. I’m sorry for your loss.” And she was. He probably cared deeply for his deceased wife as his pups must surely do.

“She died defending our pups when a dragon youkai sought to kill off my line while I was away. I returned earlier than expected and was able to kill the dragon, but she was already gone.”

Her heart going out to him, Kagome placed her left hand on his right one, their tea long gone. Instead of pulling away as she thought he might, his clawed hand curled around hers, holding on to her, causing warmth to blossom in her chest.

She blushed at her next question, but she couldn’t seem to stop the words from falling from her lips. “Do you…ever have thoughts about marrying again? I mean your pups are so young. Surely at least Amaterasu needs a mother’s influence.”

She did not, however, mention if Sesshomaru missed being with a woman.

“Someday, I will take another mate,” he informed her.

Looking at her lap, feeling despondent and jealous over the faceless woman, Kagome forced a smile to her lips. “I see. That’s good.”

“What of you, miko? Do you wish to have a mate?”

She blushed harder, her heart pounding. “Uh, why do you ask?”

“You told me of your wishes and dreams, but not once did you mention mating.”

“Oh, that? Well, you see miko normally do not take a husband. At least not the younger siblings. It’s their duty to be of service, not to settle down and have a family. My sister Kikyo is the eldest, so having offspring of her own is part of her duty, to have children with spiritual powers.”

“Is there someone you wish to mate?”

Not wishing to lie, but not wanting to be totally truthful in telling him that if their destinies had been different, she would have wished to mate with him, she said, “There is no one who lives in the village I wish to marry, no.”

She was thankful he did not pursue the subject.

When night began to fall she knew Sesshomaru had to leave. He had left Amaterasu in the clearing, and he needed to get back to his pup. They stood outside of the entrance to her father’s hut, and she gazed up at him with the love she could never voice to him, while he met her gaze with his mesmerizing golden orbs.

Blushing, she said, “Thank you again for helping my father. It means a lot to me.”

Instead of answering, he cupped her cheek once more, and she allowed herself to nuzzle into his touch. When he lowered his palm, ready to turn and leave, she reached out and clutched at his hand.

“Sesshomaru, could you do me one more favor?”

“What is it, miko?”

“Could you tell Kikyo what has happened? She lives in the next village over. She’s pregnant right now, so I doubt she will be able to make the journey, but she needs to know.”

Sesshomaru nodded his head, and she smiled in thanks. She would have said more but her father’s coughs had her turning with a small wave and running into the hut. She did not see the longing that graced Sesshomaru’s features as he watched her leave, but Eiji did.

He stood in the shadows, watching. A dark anger settled in his gut. He had been waiting for the youkai to leave for hours, hoping to warn Kagome about her ‘guest’. He wondered how she was unable to sense his demonic energies, but as night began to set, he had a sinking feeling she did in fact know but didn’t seem to care.

He had been confused as to why the youkai had not followed him outside when Kagome had asked him to leave. Jealousy clawed at him when he realized it was only him she had wanted gone, not both of them. Now they had spent hours alone together, doing only kami knew what, but his mind conjured up images of a naked Kagome lying on a pallet with her thighs spread for her youkai lover while her father lay dying.

Eiji, like many, believed youkai to be devil’s spawn and should be eradicated from the face of the Earth. He also hated youkai loving ningen, believing they were betrayers to their own race and must be killed as he must now kill the woman he thought he loved, for she had most assuredly lain with this demon. She was tainted.

What was worse, he recognized the handsome youkai. That morning after asking Kagome to marry him the day before, he had followed her outside the village, hoping to change her mind before resorting to poisoning her father, but she had been clutching a silver haired child in her arms, and a man had been watching them. Both were obviously youkai, and Eiji had at first been fearful for Kagome’s safety until he saw how she interacted with the child.

Against his better judgment, he had left her alone with them; his moment lost to speak with her and poisoned her father. He had wished to be the one to comfort Kagome in her sorrow and hopefully gain entrance to her bedchamber and spend the night comforting her with sex, but it seemed the white devil had taken his place, and he wanted revenge on them both. 

Eiji knew the demon was about to leave and send Kagome’s message to her sister, leaving his pup vulnerable to attack. He decided the two lovers would be the instruments to slay one another, and if by chance one lived, he would finish the job.

First grabbing a few items, he left in search of the youkai child, knowing she was probably still where he had last seen her, on the hillside near the forest.

A cold grin split his face when he caught sight of her silver hair in a tree, sleeping on a branch. Lifting the bow he had stolen, notching an arrow, he infused his spiritual powers into the projection. The weapon felt clumsy in his hands, but he did have some skill in the weapon as his father had taught him at a young age as they hunted, but that had been many years ago.

Still, archery was more a skill for miko than monks, so when he shot his arrow, intending to pierce the child’s small chest she left open as she reclined against the tree’s trunk, his aim was slightly off; though, he didn’t know it.

He heard the child cry out and saw her fall from the tree, landing painfully upon the ground. Chuckling, he thought her dead, but he stopped laughing instantly when he saw her get up and race off into the forest but not before she gazed over her shoulder at him, her golden eyes glowing in the twilight. Then she was gone.

Cursing, he ran towards the spot that she had fallen, knowing he had no chance to catch her now. Thinking his plans foiled, he chanced to look down and saw his arrow. He leaned down to pick it up when he noticed two things.

First, there was blood on the arrows tip. A smirk plastered itself on his face as he allowed his emotions to show since no one was around to witness it. His arrow had been fused with his spiritual energy. She was too young to fight the pure energy now coursing through her small body. She would die this night from exposure.

Then his hand clutched his second prize, an item that would help him in his vengeance.

Kagome had fallen asleep beside her father when screams woke her. It was still dark when she ran outside to shouts of ‘fire’. Kagome followed the villagers and the smoke that rose into the night sky. She came face to face with one of the huts completely engulfed in flames.

“Is anyone still inside?” she screamed over the roar of flames. She had to repeat herself twice before a village man answered.

“No, everyone was able to escape, miko. Please, help us put out the fire before it spreads!”

Moving into action, Kagome helped the villagers douse the flames with sand and water.

Sesshomaru was on his way back to Kagome’s village after spending most of the night traveling first to her sister’s village where he imparted Kagome’s message, and back, wanting to collect his pup. He planned on staying near Kagome’s village instead of heading home as he had always done after his weekly visits, not wanting to leave the miko alone at this time.

He knew his feelings towards her could never be, but he could not help but care for the ningen, even love her. He couldn’t leave her, not now.

He was brought up short when he heard the unmistakable call of his pup not where he had left her. She was hurt he knew without a doubt. He raced towards her, worry and fear racing through his veins.

He found her crumpled on the ground, delirious. He knelt beside her, taking her into his strong arms carefully. She was dirty, her clothes ripped, and she was barely breathing. He could sense purification powers emanating from her and located the wound on her arm.

He had no idea how this could have happened. Then his mind went to the only solution. The miko was the only one who knew where his young had been, but why would she try to kill Amaterasu? It made no sense. His pup was dying, so without further delay, he flared his youki, hoping to counteract the purification by drowning it in his much more powerful aura. After he saved his pup, he vowed to kill Kagome, hardening his heart to the task even though it hurt him just to think about taking her life, watching her eyes glaze over in death. But he would.

Tired, feeling elated by their success, Kagome went back to her home, and entered her father’s room only to stop dead in her tracks, a scream building in her throat until it spilled out.

Her cry had the villagers running, barging into her home and saw her crying over her father’s dead and mangled body. His throat looked as if a beast had slashed his throat, four deep gashes almost severing the head, blood everywhere.

Kagome lifted up, gazing down at her father with a teary expression when something silver caught her eye. Picking up the item with shaking fingers, her eyes beheld a silver strand of hair that had been on her father’s dead body. There was only one man she knew who possessed such hair—Sesshomaru.

She gazed back at the claw marks on her father’s neck, a horrible realization sinking in. Had Sesshomaru killed her father? Why? This didn’t make any sense, but evidence pointed towards him. This had to be some kind of mistake, but there was a small taint of demonic energy that was similar to Sesshomaru’s. Her heart clenched at the realization that she had to kill him and stop him from taking another innocent life.

When the sun rose, both Kagome and Sesshomaru arrived at the hillside at the same time with hollowed hearts. It was as if this moment in time was fated. Both of them stood silently, their throats choked on emotion as they asked each other silently, ‘why?’

Then Sesshomaru flicked his wrist, a green whip materialized, coming straight at her, and when Kagome raised her right hand, erecting a shield before her, she knew this fight was inevitable. She must kill the man she thought she loved.

His whip cracked against her barrier over and over, his arm swinging in wide arcs, trying to break her shield, but it held strong under his onslaught. Not waiting for him to succeed or try something else, Kagome raised her other hand, two fingers pointed up while the others were curled into her palm. She made a complex design in the air, murmuring a few enchanted words and watched while roots shot up from the ground, wrapping around Sesshomaru’s legs, trying to immobilize and trap him.

Before they could reach his thighs, Sesshomaru quickly slashed at the enchanted roots, freeing himself as he used his demonic speed to come up behind Kagome where she was unprotected by her barrier. He slashed at her with his deadly claws. He almost looked away, unable to watch as he struck her down, but roots shot up between them and his claws cut them down. Her defense did not come swift enough, and his claws cut into her back.

Her haori ripped with a load sound of shredding cloth, blood welling from shallow wounds to stain the white fabric. He hesitated when the metallic smell of her blood reached his nose, long enough for her to turn and thrust a dagger into his shoulder as his chest and consequently his heart was protected by armor. Her reiki burned him, causing him to growl at the pain, and he jumped back, somersaulting in the air so she couldn’t do more damage. He could have lashed out at her, could have taken her head off, but he’d hesitated, and ultimately, he’d chosen to retreat.

Several feet apart once more, Sesshomaru griped the handle of the small knife and pulled the burning blade from his flesh, the blade scraping against bone. He threw it away from him as they watched each other, unmoving for long seconds.

He drew his sword, unable to prolong the battle as his heart was not in it. He just wanted it to end. He hating the scent of her blood, despising that he was the one to injure her. He had to kill her fast or lose his nerve. He infused his youki into the demonic blade, intending to obliterate her in one strike. He knew he would be unable to do so again, the pain in his chest was that fierce.

Kagome lifted her bow, notched an arrow from her quiver that had fallen to the ground after the strap had been broken by his claws, her back stinging. However, the wounds were not life threatening, just painful. Seeing the blood that covered his white haori made her sick. She had hurt him, intended to purify him in a second, and her heart was not in it.

It took every bit of resolve she had to pull back on her bow string and aim her arrow at him. She knew she would not be able to fight him much longer as her heart broke further with every passing second.

You are my enemy, thought Sesshomaru.

I have no choice but to kill you, thought Kagome.

But I don’t want this, they both thought at the same time without realizing it.

Just before either could release their final attack, a small figure raced between them, screaming for them to stop.

“Stop, Father! Kagome!” Amaterasu stood defiantly between their flaring energies. Both Sesshomaru and Kagome dropped their weapons in an effort not to release their attacks, afraid that if they didn’t, they would kill Amaterasu.

Sesshomaru watched Kagome drop her bow and arrow, stunned. Hadn’t she tried to kill his pup just hours ago? Why would she refuse to strike now that he was wide open for attack?

Kagome breathed a sigh of relief that she had been able to stop herself in time before accidently hurting Amaterasu with her released reiki.

“What are you doing!? Why are you fighting?” Amaterasu demanded with tears streaming from her eyes, and she allowed her father to pick her up and nuzzle her neck comfortingly.

“The miko tried to kill you—” began Sesshomaru, but Amaterasu interrupted him, while Kagome recoiled in shock at his words.

“No, she didn’t! Some man attacked me. He was wearing monk robes.”

“Eiji!?” Kagome exclaimed confusedly, for he was the only monk around at this time.

“He was the man kneeling by your father, miko?” Sesshomaru asked in a deadly calm voice.

“Yes, but why would he try to kill Amaterasu?”

“Not everyone is as kind hearted as you, miko.”

Now Kagome understood why Sesshomaru had attacked her. He thought she had tried to kill his pup, not because she had found out about his betrayal. The reminder sliced at her already fragile heart.

“Sesshomaru? Why…how could…you killed my father!” she choked out, tears glistening in her eyes. She had to kill him, but as he held his daughter close to him in a protective gesture, how could she take this child’s father as he had done to hers?

“I had left at your behest to send word to your sister. I did not kill him, miko.”

“But he has claw marks on his neck, and I found a strand of your hair on his body. If not you then who?”

Kagome had a horrible premonition. Was someone out to smite them, forcing them to kill one another? Could it be Eiji?

“Allow me near the body. I might be able to catch the killer’s scent,” offered Sesshomaru as he put his child down after she had calmed.

Amaterasu ran to Kagome, needing the contact with her as well to ascertain that she was alright, too. She jumped towards Kagome, who caught her easily.

Kagome stroked her silver hair, her eyes on Sesshomaru. “Thank you, Sesshomaru.”

If the killer was in fact Eiji, Sesshomaru already knew his scent and would know instantly.

All of a sudden, golden chains appeared around Sesshomaru before tightening around him, trapping him, sparks flying off the restraints. Though he made no noise, Kagome knew he must be in pain as she felt the powerful spiritual energy from the chains.

“Sesshomaru!” Kagome put the child down, intending to use her own powers to break the enchantment. “Amaterasu, stay back!”

Before she could take two steps, a voice called out to her in a familiar voice, so she paused and turned towards Eiji, meeting his cool, dark gaze and shivered. Something was wrong with his eyes. They were so empty, as if they didn’t really see her, at least as anything human.

“You were supposed to be mine, Kagome. That’s why I went through all the trouble to kill your father, but now I see that you have already been seduced by evil.”

“You killed my father!? Because I refused to be your wife?” cried Kagome, sickened by Eiji’s words.

Eiji didn’t seem to be paying attention to her words, his voice distant. “It is my duty to eradicate evil and save your soul from further taint by killing you as well.”

“Eiji, you’ve got it all wrong—” she tried to explain, but his eyes left hers as he focused on something beside her.

“Still alive? I’ll make sure you die properly this time,” he said to Amaterasu, extracting a sutra from his robes, infusing it with his powers before throwing it at the girl.

Kagome stepped between Amaterasu and the flying sutra, destroying it by bringing her bow down on the projection, ripping it in half.

“Get away now, Amaterasu!” Kagome demanded before engaging with the charging monk. Coming upon her swiftly, he brought down his staff, intending to bash her skull in, but she again raised her bow, deflecting the blow. He was stronger than she, and she was unable to use her reiki to defend herself as it only worked against youkai.

She thought to use her powers to try and bind him with roots as she had with Sesshomaru, but Eiji continued to attack her, lashing out with his staff so that she didn’t have time to perform her enchantment.

He kicked her stomach with such force, Kagome was flung back, landing on the ground hard, gasping for breath. 

Sesshomaru growled fiercely, but he was ignored. His eyes bled crimson, the marks on his face turning jagged, and fangs burst like daggers from his gums as he partially changed, unleashing his youki to combat against the chains that bound him with spiritual light.

Kagome lifted her bow just as Eiji swung his staff down, aiming for her head. Her bow shattered under the powerful blow, and he laughed in triumph as he lifted his staff again.

“Die, whore!”

Kagome thought she was about to die, unable to move in time, but Eiji froze, his expression frozen on his face as they both looked down at the center of his chest where Sesshomaru’s clawed hand was protruding. Kagome’s face filled with horror at the grisly sight, but she felt no sadness as Eiji became limp, held up only by Sesshomaru’s strength.

His clawed hand was covered in dark red blood as he stood behind Eiji, a fierce expression on his regal face. Throwing the dead monk to the side as if he were nothing but garbage, Sesshomaru knelt before Kagome, worry etched slightly on his proud features. 

“Miko, are you well?” he asked, his left, un-bloodied hand rested on her shoulder, while she gaped at him.

“Uh, yes. Yes, I’m alright, Sesshomaru. Thank you, again.”

Their eyes locked as strong emotion swirled inside both of them. They would have killed each other if Amaterasu hadn’t arrived when she had. Kagome watched his face lower towards her, and she knew by the look in his heated gaze that this time he was going to kiss her, and she was going to let him. She moved closer to him, eager for what he offered, but Amaterasu chose that moment to jump into her lap and wrap small arms around her neck.

“Kagome! I was so scared,” the pup cried into her neck.

Kagome flushed, grinning, as she hugged Amaterasu, her eyes still on Sesshomaru. His answering grin made her heart flutter in her chest, and then he was hugging her, his arms around her back with Amaterasu between them. 

 

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