Continuing Tales

Tales from the House of the Moon

A InuYasha Story
by Resmiranda

Part 12 of 42

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Tales from the House of the Moon

"Very few things happen at the right time, and the rest do not happen at all. The conscientious historian will correct these defects." - Herodotus

Strangely, now that she was trapped inside her own folly, Kagome wondered why she hadn't seen it. The myth crowded her inside her mind, shoving out the fact that she felt like she was dying.

…She was beautiful and fleet of foot, like a deer, but her fear blinded her to the danger, and Machiko found her ankles snagged by tree roots and she fell to the earth, crying piteously…

…It came to pass that the prince of dogs was strolling through the forest and heard her weeping. Moved by her sad tears he ran swiftly to her aide, but when he reached her he was struck dumb by her beauty, and he picked her up and dried her eyes. He kissed her in the darkness of the forest and made her his own, and she was so grateful that he had come to her and so awed by his presence that she gladly went to him…

She'd loved fairytales when she was younger. The tales of enchantment and beauty, so full of love and passion had always excited her. Kagome had always wanted to live in one, where she was rescued by a prince and crafted into a princess, and where beauty and goodness went hand in hand.

If she'd known that fairytales were just big, fat lies, she would never have jumped into the well a second time.

Stupid, stupid fairytales, she thought.

Kagome was sitting with her hand on her foot in the middle of a cold forest. Her nose was running and her teeth were chattering, and Sesshoumaru was standing stock still at the edge of the clearing, gazing at her with those piercing golden eyes. She desperately wanted to know what he was thinking.

Here I am, Kagome thought giddily. This is me, sitting on the ground in the past. This is me, in the woods, with an ankle the size of a softball. This is me, sock in hand, twigs in hair, a stinking bear carcass ten feet away, and a cold. A great, stuffy cold and god, this ankle hurts.

And there he is. The thought flashed across her brain as though she were trying to give it no more weight than a simple observation, not entirely unlike, "the sky is blue," or "it appears that my pants are on fire," or "I am going to lose my virginity to a dog demon four hundred years in the past."

That stupid myth had got it all wrong. She was a miko, she had no family, and she wasn't pretty or kind. In fact, she was feeling extraordinarily cranky for someone who was apparently about to get laid. Kagome had never had sex, but at this very moment with the weight of history bearing down on her all she could think about was his hair, falling around her like silver waters. And sex. She wondered what both would feel like, and she wondered how many bruises she would get from the tree roots she was sitting on. The fever must be really getting to me, she thought.

It had been nearly a minute since he had first appeared and Sesshoumaru was still standing there – just standing and staring seemed to be his favorite pastime, she mentally grumbled – and Kagome decided, right then and there, that if she ever got home she was going to burn the university library to the ground.

She was regretting a good many things as well. Why couldn't she have slept with a nice boy who was studying to be a doctor? Why couldn't she have just stayed at home where things weren't so weird and dangerous? Why was her first sexual experience going to be on the dirty ground four hundred years away from where she belonged with a murdering demon and hot breath on her ear and the aching slide of tongues on skin and hair like silken water pooling on –

Kagome realized she was getting sidetracked and gritted her teeth. Stupid, stupid Sesshoumaru and his stupid, stupid pretty hair, she thought angrily. This is all his stupid fault.

Briefly, Kagome wondered how she had arrived at this point. Of course, now it all seemed so logical. Of course she was going to get knocked up in the woods by her ambiguous enemy, if only because it was the worst possible thing that could happen. Bad things liked happening to her. They'd been happening since she'd landed, less than a week ago, in the past.

The shrine was now built, and as such there had been an initial moment of panic when Kagome realized that she had landed inside a building and thought that the well wouldn't let her through. She was quickly disabused of that notion when a young girl – younger than herself, even, and dressed in miko garb – came barging into the well house and attempted to shoot her full of arrows as Kagome clambered out of the well and landed inside the newly built shrine. It was a good thing she was a lousy shot or Kagome would have found herself better ventilated than she had ever wanted to be.

"Stop! I'm Kagome!" she'd cried, saying the first thing that came to her mind.

"Well, damn it!" the miko had exclaimed and thrown her bow at the wall. "I hate archery!"

Kagome, crouching on the floor, hadn't known what to say to that. "You'll get better?" she said finally. Then the miko had burst into tears.

In the most inauspicious start to a journey yet, Kagome had found herself carrying a sobbing girl back to her hut. If she'd known that the beginning had been indicative of how the rest of her quest would go she would have turned around and gone home right then. Ungifted with the power to see the future, she had stayed.

Sinayo was dead. It hadn't been a surprise, but Kagome felt unhappy about it all the same. She felt like she had brushed past a ghost on her way to do something more important; it was as if Sinayo had only wheeled into her life to serve a purpose, and now that the purpose was done she was gone. After the initial excitement of introducing herself all around again she had curled up underneath her thin blanket – she hadn't known it would be winter and was regretting not grabbing warmer clothes – and felt a twinge of guilt. Sinayo had passed in and out of her life and now she would never see her again.

It was difficult to classify the feeling. It wasn't the same as when she thought of Inuyasha, but it was similar, though more tinged with guilt. Kagome felt as though she'd brushed away an entire life without knowing it, and now it was just a tumbling shadow in her memory that passed through her skin and out again.

When she woke up the next day, Kagome had contracted a cold and the new miko, whose name turned out to be, weirdly enough, Kagura, was cooking up something hot over the fire.

"Eat up!" she'd said as she ladled the thick soup into a bowl. "I'm a bad cook, but my stew isn't too bad and you've got a quest ahead of you!"

Kagome had frowned as she accepted the bowl. "How do you know that?" she asked the miko. She couldn't bring herself to think of this little girl as Kagura; Kagura had died before she had lived, long ago.

The miko had shrugged and grinned. "Just a guess!" she'd said happily. "Besides, when you come to our time, you always have to go on a quest. Sinayo told me that."

"I see," Kagome had said as she took a sip of stew, which tasted atrocious. She swallowed anyway – the heat felt good on her throat and the pungent taste opened up her sinuses. Kagome tried to distract herself from the horrible concoction by listening as the miko prattled on.

"I'll give you provisions and things if you need them," she was saying. "We have dried fish and rice and such. Oh, and a bow you can borrow – you could have mine, I hate archery – and maybe an extra change of clothes…"

"How long since I was last here?" Kagome cut in after a minute of this. The miko stopped talking and looked at the ceiling, counting on her fingers.

"Hmm," she had said speculatively. "Lets see… Sinayo died last year, and two years before that was the blight, and there was that outbreak the year before that… or was that the same year…? Hang on, let me think! I'll get it eventually!"

Kagome had wondered, uncharitably, if the miko was defective. She seemed to be lacking the fundamental filter in her brain that prevented normal people from saying whatever crossed their minds. After almost a minute of the miko's chatter Kagome wanted to shoot her, but was able to determine that she was only ten years ahead of her last visit.

It had been a relief when she had left, striking out in the vague direction that she thought was northwest. The miko had wanted to accompany her, but Kagome had declined even though it seemed no one else wished to be her guide. Kagome didn't mind terribly much; she may have been vaguely lost, but at least she wasn't buried under a mountain of words any longer.

Except it was cold and windy and the forest was dark and starting a fire was difficult and Kagome longed for company. Her head hurt most of the time and her nose was like a faucet that she couldn't turn off. She found that, on the cold roads that sometimes all but disappeared into the undergrowth, her memories clustered in closer, and she would find herself lost in melancholy thought. She was lonely.

And there were the bears. Kagome felt that she had been quite inconvenienced in the bear department since she thought bears hibernated all winter, but this was apparently not the case. Perhaps the food had been scarce in the summer, or perhaps she was just grossly misinformed about bears, but the fact remained that she had been forced to shoot not one but two bears in the past five days of trekking northwest. The first had been depressingly easy to kill and had fallen quickly to her arrows. The second one, on the other hand, was a real bastard.

About two seconds was all it had taken for the bear to cross the clearing to her campsite, and the arrow she put into its shoulder didn't slow it down very much. It took less time than the space of a thought for her to turn her heels and take off into the darkness of the forest, the flight instinct too strong for her to stand her ground.

A few crowded minutes later – branches tugging her hair and clothes, the cold air burning in her throat, and always the lumbering sound of pursuit behind her – and a bright pain lanced through her leg. Kagome went down, stars in her eyes, and an arrow in her hand. She'd turned, breathlessly, and shot it behind her.

When her vision cleared, there was a panting, dying bear only three meters away, an arrow straight through its eye. It didn't take long for it to die.

And then she was alone in the middle of a dark forest, with only the vaguest of notions how to get back to her campsite, a cold, a twisted foot, and the temperature dropping rapidly.

Kagome let out a stream of curses so loud and vile that Inuyasha would have been proud. Or shocked. Neither for the first nor the last time, she wished he was there.

Gingerly she'd dislodged her foot from the crevice in which it was wedged and peeled off the sock covering it. Her ankle was already swelling, but a quick inspection had revealed that she had only sprained it, which was a silver lining even if she wasn't feeling terribly disposed to appreciate it. Muttering under her breath, Kagome had begun to stretch the sock out so she could use it as a makeshift bandage.

That was how she found herself in this horrible position; she was still cursing and hissing with the pain and missing Inuyasha and Sango and Miroku so badly that she thought she would die when she caught the youki on the air. And then she had looked up to see Sesshoumaru standing there, a look of either extreme boredom or intense interest on his face. All she could think about was how she was suddenly speared through the heart by a story, made to do its cruel whim. She didn't want to do this, here, in the cold beneath a tree in a time where she didn't belong. It was like one of those cheesy romance scenes in the books that her friend Eri-chan used to read behind her history books in class. Nerves, adrenaline, and fear warred with each other, and Kagome bit her lip.

In the silent moments that stretched between them in the dark winter night, Kagome thought she heard the universe laughing.

Then she sneezed.

It was the sneeze that startled Sesshoumaru out of his small reverie. He had been wondering why it didn't seem strange to him to run into her again; in his sleep he'd heard her hauntingly familiar voice in the quiet of the night uttering the most creative curses he'd witnessed aside from his brother's lexicon, and when he'd finally pried his eyes open and caught her scent on the air it seemed only natural that he would come to investigate.

Seeing her, disheveled and afraid at the base of a tree with the corpse of a bear only a few feet away, had given him pause, though. She appeared to be injured. He stared at her, and she at him; she looked very young in those moments, and in his chest there was that strange tug, so very like the tug that caused him to abandon the House of the Moon in the dead of winter.

He'd been wandering for less than one cycle of the moon, but he hadn't yet found whatever it was he was looking for. He wondered if this miko – Kagome, he remembered – would know what it was he sought.

She looked like a tapestry; like a painting on a screen, in shadow and light, in blue and black. He remembered her well, as he was certain only very few left in this world remembered her, and he knew she remembered him. There was a strange comfort in that fact; human though she may be, her memory still held him after all those years.

When she sneezed, he caught the slight odor of disease. So, she was sick as well. An unfamiliar feeling of consternation swept over him as he remembered all the times Rin had let herself fall ill. Just what the hell did she think she was doing alone in the middle of nowhere, sick and injured? He crossed the clearing to stand in front of her.

"Kagome – " she jumped a little at the sound of her name, " — what are you doing here?"

Wide eyes stared up at him, and her face was washed and pale from the light of the moon high above them. She opened her mouth to speak, but it was too dry. Closing it, she swallowed, licked her lips, and tried again.

"I don't know," she answered. "I'm a miko, not a hime."

Sesshoumaru turned this answer over in his mind for a brief moment, deeply confused. Unfortunately, he didn't have much time to dwell on her cryptic declaration, because, to his horror, she burst into tears.

It wasn't quiet, lady-like weeping either. She was sobbing in huge gulps and burying her face in her hands as if that would hide the fact that she was wailing like an injured cow. Sesshoumaru felt a vaguely shocked frown crease his brow. Just what the hell is going on here? he wondered. He was at a loss. He was always lost when women cried.


Startled, Sesshoumaru turned his head and saw that Myouga had finally awoken from the warmth of his breastplate and resituated himself on his shoulder. He was clearly upset that the miko was upset – the little flea looked as though he were having some sort of attack from the way he was jumping up and down and waving his arms. Sesshoumaru watched at the old retainer hopped from his shoulder and landed on Kagome's knee.

"Kagome-sama!" he cried. "Please do not cry! We will help you!"

We will? Sesshoumaru wondered. Events seemed to be moving a little too quickly for his taste, and he wondered if Myouga was going to consult him before he made any more decisions.

For her part, Kagome was experiencing a moment of severe cognitive dissonance. If she had to pick the least sexy thing in the world to save her from thoughts of possible meaningless passion, Myouga, hopping up and down on her knee, would have been at the top of the list. With difficulty, Kagome scrubbed the tears from her eyes and focused on his rotund body and wrinkled face.

The back of her mind poked her, hard, and Kagome could feel a certain logic forming, and it calmed her somewhat. In fact, she felt so sure of herself that she could taste her relief in her mouth, and she was suddenly herself again; she wasn't the hime. She was still the miko, and Sesshoumaru was… well, he was still himself, but the pieces of the puzzle were suddenly clicking, if not into place, then into some semblance of order. She knew this with certainty.

Because no one in their right mind would have sex with Myouga watching; he was better than a cold shower.

Kagome wanted to kiss him, but refrained. She was feeling a little lightheaded, and everything had taken on that strange sense of the surreal, the way it did when she was in college and had stayed up too late studying for a class. Blinking very slowly, she swiped a hand across her eyes, drying her tears. "Sorry, Myouga-jii-chan. I'm just, um… a little upset right now."

Myouga gave her a look full of sympathy. Hopping down to her ankle, he made a big display out of inspecting it. "Ah!" he said finally. "Do not worry! You will be able to walk as soon as tomorrow!"

Kagome gently probed it with her fingers again – already it seemed less sore, but it still hurt, and she hissed between her teeth. Ignoring the fact that she needed to be able to walk now, rather than tomorrow, she carefully lifted the foot and placed it on her knee. She was somewhat surprised to find that the limp sock she had been stretching was still in her hand – though if she had expected it to disappear, she was obviously in more trouble than she thought – and set about wrapping it as best she could around the ankle. "Thank you," she said as warmly as possible. "But how did you find me?"

She had addressed Myouga, but it was Sesshoumaru who answered. "You made a fuss," he informed her, boredom leeching his voice of color.

Kagome felt a stab of annoyance, and would have glanced up to glare at him if she hadn't been so occupied with the damn sock. It was probably his fault she was feeling so out of it right now. Him and his stupid pretty hair. "Yes, well," she replied, pulling it tighter, "not all of us can be perfect. Some of us cry when we get hurt."

Sesshoumaru arched an eyebrow. "Quite loudly," he said.

Looking up, Kagome frowned. "Well, do pardon me," she snapped before returning to her sock. She was experiencing difficulties getting it to tie into place as it simply wasn't long enough. Her head hurt, her nose and throat were stuffed and scratchy, and she felt like she was going to either fall asleep or cry again. Kagome suspected she might be a little overwrought.

The demon lord felt his nose tickle with the smell of her unshed tears and his mouth twisted with irritation. He couldn't stand it when people cried. Maybe if she was distracted she would refrain from that horrible braying.

"You still haven't answered my question," he said quickly, hoping to make her think about something other than whatever was making her cry. After a moment's thought he amended the statement with, "…satisfactorily."

Kagome looked up again and furrowed her brow. "What?" she asked, puzzled.

"Why are you here?"

Myouga, still on her leg, turned to her as well. "That is an excellent question, milord. Kagome-sama, what brings you here again? Did you read another story?"

"Um…" Kagome fiddled with the sock. Her head felt full of cotton.

"Story?" Sesshoumaru asked, narrowing his eyes. If she doesn't stop worrying that sock, I'm going to melt it, he thought. His patience was stretched rather thin tonight and he wondered if he'd ever be able to go back to sleep.

Kagome avoided his gaze and addressed Myouga instead. "Sort of," she said. "But I don't know if I can talk about it." She twined the fabric through her fingers.

Gritting his teeth, Sesshoumaru reached down and plucked the sock from her hands.

"Hey! I need that to bandage my foot!" Kagome exclaimed and without thinking made a grab for it. The tips of her fingers brushed it before Sesshoumaru jerked it out of her grasp. She immediately sent him a glare.

"Why are you here?" he demanded for a third time.

"Give me my sock and I'll tell you," she retorted.

Sesshoumaru said nothing, merely arched his eyebrow again. Kagome briefly fantasized about shaving it off while he slept before realizing that she was probably not in any position to negotiate. She didn't think he'd kill her, but she'd been wrong about things before. She pressed her lips together and sat back, crossing her arms.

"I'm… looking for a hime," she said.

Sesshoumaru said nothing, merely waited for her to fill the silence.

Heaving a sigh, Kagome dropped her eyes. "I have some business with her."

Myouga hopped up onto her knee. "What sort of business, Kagome-sama? What is her name?" he asked.

Kagome shrugged. "I'm not very certain, but I just have to find her. Her name is… Machiko."

Through lowered lashes, Kagome tried to observe Sesshoumaru's reaction to the name, but like always he kept his mask in place. Maybe Machiko had never mentioned her name? It seemed unlikely, but stranger things had happened.

"But why are you here?" Myouga asked. Kagome was getting tired of that question.

"I just have to be in the northwest. She'll find me," Kagome informed him, although now that she thought about it Machiko probably wouldn't be able to find her if she didn't actually go to villages and spread word about herself. Frustrated, she sighed again. She'd been too focused on getting the responsibility done that she had overlooked her actually doing it. Annoyed with herself, Kagome slumped. "Anyway, may I please have my sock back, now?"

Sesshoumaru gave her a withering glance, and before Kagome could say anything, shredded the sock into one long strip.

"Hey! I don't have very many of those!" she cried, snatching it out of his clawed fingers. "It's cold enough with socks, I don't think I'd survive without them!"

Sesshoumaru shrugged. "You will not survive very long at any rate unless you find some way to make yourself warmer," he informed her.

"Oh, thanks for pointing that out," she huffed. "I honestly thought I could just sit here all night and be peachy in the morning, but I'm glad you're around to tell me differently." She coughed violently, which caused her head to hurt even more.

Sesshoumaru couldn't decide whether to question her use of the word 'peachy' or to annoy her further by telling her that she was welcome, so he said nothing and merely watched as she wound the ruined sock around her ankle, making small sounds of pain as she did so. She looked broken, and ill.

There was an unfamiliar feeling stirring in him, spreading across his chest and up his throat. Sesshoumaru thought of the years he'd wasted in the East, of the endless days in which he did nothing and was nothing. He thought of the little girl this miko had befriended for such a short while, and of the young woman she had helped him avenge. He thought of the House of the Moon, standing again, because of her. And here she was, cold and sick and injured.

He felt guilty.

Myouga was speaking. "Kagome-sama, if I find a branch for you do you think you could walk back to your campsite? You would be able to lean on it!"

"I don't know," he heard her mutter. She seemed in danger of falling asleep.

Myouga thought so, too, apparently. He hopped onto her shoulder, his voice suddenly strained and urgent. "Do not fall asleep, Kagome-sama! It is dangerous in the cold!"

"…I'm fine…" she mumbled. Sesshoumaru watched as she propped her head on her hand and tried to focus on the bandage. With fumbling fingers, she tied it in place and uncrossed her legs, preparing to heave herself to her feet.

Sesshoumaru reached a decision.

For a brief moment, Kagome thought she had been mistaken about the whole sex thing, because, without warning, there were strong hands around her waist, and then she was being lifted into the air. Whee! she thought giddily. After all, there were worse ways to lose one's virginity than to someone who had such pretty hair.

And then she was able to examine that hair much more intimately than she ever thought possible as her stomach came into sharp contact with something hard. "Oof," she expelled as she landed on Sesshoumaru's shoulder.

"Watch out for me, Sesshoumaru-sama!" Myouga cried as he hopped away and to Sesshoumaru's other shoulder. The demon ignored them both as he snaked an arm around her legs and began to walk in the direction from which she had come.

"Hey, it's polite to ask if you can do that," she informed him, though her voice was somewhat muffled.

The demon said nothing.

"Well, fine," she said. "I guess I won't talk to you then."

Considering that she had managed to confuse him approximately fifty percent of the time she spoke this evening, Sesshoumaru did not object.

For almost a full minute Kagome was silent. Her eyes felt heavy and everything hurt and all she wanted to do was pour out the hot tea she had started to make and go to bed beside a hot fire, but she barely had the energy to stay awake. Unfortunately, she was also feeling giddy at the same time, and the hair in front of her face – long, silver, and stupidly pretty – was swaying gently as he walked. She found it mesmerizing.

"You know," she eventually said conversationally, trying not to think about how close his face was to her dirt-and-leaf covered behind, "no one's thrown me over their shoulder for ages. The last time someone did that, he took me back to his cave and tried to make me his woman." How long has it been since I thought of Kouga? she wondered, and felt sad.

"Indeed," Sesshoumaru replied. There didn't seem to be much he could say to that. He sniffed the air and took a turn. Between the trees he could see the light of her fading campfire.

"You don't have to do this," Kagome tried again. "I hate to inconvenience you."

Sesshoumaru said nothing. He wondered what she would do if he dumped her on the ground and left her there.

Kagome felt light-headed. "It's okay, really. I'll make it up to you somehow. I mean, I'll help you find that girl and stuff, and then you'll be happy, right? With your son?"

He stopped walking. "What?" he demanded. He tried to turn and look at her, but instead got an eyeful of her backside. Which wasn't bad, as backsides went, but he inevitably felt silly giving it a withering glare.

Kagome giggled. "Oh, yeah, that's right. Never mind, that's a secret," she said. She tittered again. His hair was really pretty. She'd touch it, but some self-preservation instinct reminded her that he had a tendency to be cranky about that sort of thing.

Sesshoumaru said nothing as he walked into her campsite, since she was obviously feverish and unable to hold an intelligent conversation. He set her down by the fire as gently as possible while still being unceremonious, and she sagged forward as she hit the ground.

"Go to sleep," he said, hoping she would be susceptible to authoritative voices in her fevered state.

"Not a problem," she muttered. She was so tired. Her sleeping bag was only a foot away, so she crawled into it without even bothering to brush off the leaves that peppered her hakama.

He just watched her as her breathing slowed until a small voice broke the stillness.

"Sesshoumaru-sama," Myouga said from his shoulder, sounding slightly awed, "why did you do that?"

Sesshoumaru just shrugged. "I do not need to explain my actions to you," he replied. Good thing, too, he thought. The truth was he had rarely done things out of guilt before, so the sensation was fairly new to him. As he laid more tinder on the fire, limning the campsite in warm tones of orange and yellow, he made a note to not make it a habit; no doubt he had a lot to feel guilty about.

In her sleeping bag, Kagome sneezed again as she drifted into dreams. Sesshoumaru propped himself against a tree, and waited for the night to end.

Tales from the House of the Moon

A InuYasha Story
by Resmiranda

Part 12 of 42

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