Continuing Tales

Tales from the House of the Moon

A InuYasha Story
by Resmiranda

Part 13 of 42

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Tales from the House of the Moon

"One of the lessons of history is that 'nothing' is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say." - Will Durant

Caught in his claws, his hair looked like ropes of moonlight twined through the branches of a tree; shining and incandescent when he turned his hands to the light, grey like the ravenous sea when he let the shadows fall, and always sliding like silk over his skin – heavy, and difficult to hold. Distracted from his original purpose of picking out a few stray leaves, Sesshoumaru gazed at the net of silver, and thought of his mother.

It was so strange to suddenly have her on his mind – he hadn't thought of her for years. Indeed, he couldn't remember the last time she had tiptoed into his head, the same way she had tiptoed into his room at night when he was still a little boy, her sly smirk half-hidden behind the long sleeves of her indigo kimono, her silver hair in wild loops and waves. She always hated to have it pulled back; his father wore a queue, scraping his hair back from his face, but she always liked to be unfettered, letting it fall where it may, curling over her slender shoulders and down her back, sweeping over her throat, brushing the delicate bones of her cheeks.

He remembered that she wasn't pretty. Her build and hair were her best features, but her face was too bright and open; she'd never been demure like all the ladies of court. She had freckles and a snubbed nose. Her mouth was too wide, her eyes too small, and she always had that devilish smirk on her face so he could never tell if she was planning some silly prank or not, though it was usually best to just assume that she was. When she would slip into his room and slide the door shut, she always filled the room with her bright scent. She smelled brilliant, like a warm, orange sunset.

"Papa?" he would ask. He was so young when she was alive. So little. Just a pup, though he liked to think differently.

"Asleep," she would whisper. "He had a hard day."

"I see," he would say, and she would always laugh and swoop down on him and lift him from his bed and swing him around in the air before pulling him close into her strong arms and rubbing her snubbed, crooked nose against his straight one. Sesshoumaru closed his fingers around the silk strands of his hair and tried to remember her voice.

"So solemn, my little boy! You should smile more."

"You smile enough for both of us," he said. His mother just laughed softly in the dark as she carried him over to the window, where she set him down.

"Now," she said, hands on hips, "tell me what my boy did today."

"I learned my numbers," he informed her.

Her eyes twinkled a little as she smoothed her kimono and settled in front of the window. Patting her lap, she held out a hand. In the dim light of the stars, the tips of her claws gleamed softly. "And...?"

He sighed. She always treated him like such a child, but he went over to her anyway. Always impatient, she grabbed him and drew him into her lap.

"And why don't you say them for me?"

So warm and soft. He supposed he could relax a little bit. Gingerly, he leaned back into the curve of her body, and her arms slid around his chest and pulled him close.

"I learned how to write them, too," he said.

"Oh really?" she laughed. "Here." In front of him, her right hand unfolded and bloomed, white skin, like a flower in the moonlight. "Draw them on my palm."

Frowning in concentration, Sesshoumaru extended a finger and, carefully so as not to scratch her hand, began to draw.

"Ichi," he whispered, tracing a long, flat line. "Ni – " a short line over a long one," – san – " two short lines over a long one, " – shi, go, roku – " his favorite shape, " – shichi... ku?"

"Ah-ah," his mother said. Her chin was resting on the crown of his head. "Ku is after..."

Sesshoumaru bit his lip. He could feel the skin sliding over his thick, straight hair and gathering at the edges of her jaw, grinning.

"H... haaaaaaa..."


"Very good!" she exclaimed. "And then?"

"Ku... and jyu."

Retracting her hand, she placed her arm across his chest again. "Smart boy," she said fondly.
"I know," he replied.

"Oh! Arrogant, too! When will you learn that only your mother is perfect?"

"Hmph," he grunted.

"So pompous," she told him, tapping his nose. Suddenly she clapped her hands together. "I have an idea! Let's count the stars."

Sesshoumaru lifted his eyes and looked dubiously at the sky. "I don't think I learned that many numbers," he said doubtfully.

"Don't worry!" she whispered. She bent her head, letting the heavy curtain of wild hair fall to the side, and some of it brushed his shoulder, causing him to shiver a little bit. Weaving her long fingers into the shining loops, his mother drew a section of hair in front of them, locks falling over locks, slipping down and around itself until it looked like a silver cobweb, excruciatingly fine and deceptively fragile. "Catch the stars with this. Then we can take our time."

"That's impossible," he huffed.

He couldn't see her face, but he was certain she arched an eyebrow. It always looked so impish on her, but whenever he practiced in a mirror, he looked snobbish. "Is it now?" Quick as lightning, she passed a hand over the makeshift net, pushing it into the window, against the sky. When she brought her hand away, Sesshoumaru felt his eyes widen. Caught in the strands of her hair were tiny crystals, sparkling in the light of the moon.

Running a hand down his cheek, she kissed the top of his head. "See? Magic."

Sesshoumaru said nothing. His mother sighed and began to pluck the stars from her hair and toss them back out the window. "They'll find their way back," she told him.


She laid her chin on his shoulder. "Laugh, my darling, laugh. It's something wondrous. Don't be so solemn."

One by one, the stars flew out his window and back to the sky.

It was only a few weeks later that he learned that the stars were just crystallized poison that she had created from her claws, and he had felt such disappointment it was almost a physical pain. She was always telling him stories and playing pranks; she loved a good joke. And when she died, she never laughed again.

She'd been dead for a week when he tiptoed into her room, a sullen teenager with a tongue so swollen from repressed tears he could barely breathe. Softly he'd stepped inside and stood there, looking at her bedding and her low tables, her wardrobe full of thick kimonos, for what seemed like an hour before he finally walked over to the low table on the side of the room where she had spent so many hours sitting and reading or writing.

His footsteps sounded loud in the silence of the room, even as he tried to mask them. When he reached the table, he let his eyes fall on the polished surface and tried to categorize the objects there, tried to impassively slide the detritus of her existence into tiny compartments, tried to shut out the one thing that had strung them all together.

There was a scroll on it, and a little collection of seashells, and a cake of ink and paper with nearly incomprehensible scribbles on it. He couldn't bring himself to look at them. Slowly, he extended a hand and lightly ran his fingertips over the scroll and the seashells, feeling them. He was hovering over the paper, just feeling its texture but not reading it when out of the corner of his eye he noticed something that had been accidentally knocked under the table. Unnecessary movement was painful and tiring, but he knelt anyway and picked it up.

It was her silver hairbrush, polished and gleaming, and caught in the bristles were long strands of her luminescent hair, curling and wild even in death. Carefully, he ran a finger down one wavy, silky thread as it curved up from the bristles and down almost to the floor.

Irrationally, he had wanted to do something symbolic, like leave little poisoned crystals in her hairbrush, or gather all the strands together and keep them inside his sleeves or tucked close to his heart. Something – anything – to keep her with him, and he wrapped the hair around his fingers and stifled a strangled growl. He should make a gesture, to show he loved her, to show he wanted her back. His father needed her, he needed her, and her scent was still all around him, and if he could just do the right thing, it would be okay –

As abruptly as it came upon him, the feeling passed, leaving him with a heavy emptiness.

It's too late, he thought then. Too late for that.

As if moving through water, he laid the brush back down. He looked at it for a moment before turning his heel and leaving it behind, never to return to that room until years and years in the future, when she was all but forgotten.

Now, sitting far from the House of the Moon, Sesshoumaru wished he had kept her hair. It was too late to sink his claws into her and keep her by his side, but he'd learned that it was never too late to regret.

As his own hair, tame and straight and thick, slid between his claws it caught the morning rays of the sun, and suddenly he was holding fire in his hands. It was a fire that didn't burn. Odd, that.

A snuffling sound reached him and he turned his head to look at the lump of miko in her strange cocoon-like bedding. He breathed deeply and found that she smelled less ill this morning, which was good.

Sesshoumaru pulled himself to his feet, and went to wake her.

There was a toe rhythmically digging into her back, and Kagome was becoming quite irritated by it. Her head hurt, her sinuses felt like someone had taken steel wool to the inside of her face, and all she wanted was only five more minutes before she had to wake up and chase some naïve little knocked-up hime all across Japan.

Ineffectually, she swatted at the air in the vague direction of her back. "Stop it, Inuyasha. It's too early," she mumbled, pulling herself further into her sleeping bag like a disgruntled turtle.

Her tormenter stopped and Kagome breathed a sigh of relief as she felt slumber creeping over her. It was so warm and nice in this sleeping bag...


There it was again, except harder this time – a very insistent toe nudging her between the shoulder blades. "Nnnn!" she moaned in protest, but her pathetic cries for mercy appeared to have no effect.

Poke. Poke.

Just ignore him, and he'll go away, Kagome thought desperately to herself, even though that particular course of action had never made Inuyasha go away before. Ignore, ignore, ignore...


Poke, poke.

Poke poke poke poke poke –

Kagome squeezed her eyes shut, shot straight up in her sleeping bag, and shrieked.


Nothing happened. Cautiously, Kagome cracked one eye open and saw white clothes and black shoes. Her gaze traveled up the white clad leg, to the bright obi, on to the heavy armor, and finally came to a stop at the face of Sesshoumaru who was looking, if his expression could be described as something at all, annoyed.

Any other time she would have been afraid to see the demon lord upon waking, but something was marring his cold, dangerous appearance.

Kagome tilted her head to the side. "Did you know you have a leaf in your hair?" she wondered out loud.

If anything, Sesshoumaru looked even more annoyed as he lifted a striped arm and daintily plucked the offending foliage from his pristine silver bangs. Slowly, as if to make certain that she was watching, he held it between his index and middle fingers, and before her eyes the leaf disintegrated in a rush of poison. He lowered his hand.

"And now I do not," he informed her.

Kagome laughed nervously as she shifted in her sleeping bag. "Nope," she agreed. "You certainly took care of it." He didn't reply, merely stared down at her, and she found that on the list of most comforting of sights early in the morning, having a feudal demon lord looking as though wondering how one's head would look as a trophy on his wall was definitely on the bottom of the list. Squirming uncomfortably, she looked away in search of a distraction.

The first thing that caught her eye was the fire – oddly, it was higher than she had left it last night. Frowning, Kagome probed her mind. Her memories of last night were a confusing jumble, and she shook her head slightly as if to jar them back into place.

She remembered being very, very incoherent. Feverish. She'd lost her campsite somehow, and her leg was hurt...

Kagome drew her foot out of the sleeping bag and inspected it with a hard eye. There didn't seem to be any major swelling, and it was only a little tender when she probed it with her fingers. She shrugged; it could not have been anything too severe or her foot would be purple and swollen to the size of a Honda. What else?

A blush crept across her face. She remembered someone carrying her, and she had been enraptured with his hair. Unable to bring herself to look at Sesshoumaru, who was still parked stoically by her bedside, Kagome shoved the memory out of her mind. Moving on! she thought brightly. What else?

There was running, and fear. Something had chased her, and it had been large and hairy. Kagome felt ill. Slowly she turned to Sesshoumaru and opened her mouth.

"Did I – did I kill a bear last night?" she asked him, feeling guilty for killing an animal.

Sesshoumaru had watched with interest as she had inspected herself to make certain all her limbs were still in their proper places. Her question sounded fairly odd; he assumed she had been too feverish to remember. "Yes," he told her. And quite impressively, too, he appended mentally. She was fairly strong for a human, but wouldn't last long against a real opponent.

Kagome saw his eyes glitter a little bit, and she thought she saw approval in his face. She blinked and it was gone. "Ah," she commented, nodding as another idea struck her. She really wasn't a morning person lately. "And... why are you still here?"

The demon looked mildly affronted, and immediately a wave of horrified embarrassment swept over her. Kagome clapped a hand over her mouth. Dimly, she realized that she still wasn't thinking very clearly; her mother would have been disappointed. "Oh, god, I'm sorry!" she exclaimed. "That was really rude! What I meant to say was... well, I meant to say, 'why are you still here,' but what I should have said was... um... thank you?"

The demon stared down his nose at her. "For what?"

Kagome squirmed out of the sleeping bag and stood up, keeping her weight off her injured foot. She was still a head or two shorter than he, but at least she didn't feel quite so little now. "For carrying me back," she reminded him. "Thank you."

He did not reply.

It's too early in the morning to be this awkward, Kagome thought as the silence stretched out.

"So... why are you still here?" she asked again, noticing her breath curling in the cold air. It was the only thing she could think of to break the frozen stillness of the winter morning.

Sesshoumaru just looked at her intently before giving an elegant shrug. He wasn't entirely certain himself, but there was nowhere else he really needed to be at the moment. Here was as good as anywhere.

Kagome waited, but it seemed he wasn't going to offer any more information. He was really making her uncomfortable; when he wasn't fighting he could look really intense, like a dog with a bone. Briefly, Kagome considered grabbing a stick and throwing it, just to see if he would chase after it, but that idea was quickly abandoned as it was probably fraught with peril. Casting about helplessly, her eyes lighted on her backpack.

Ah-ha! she thought triumphantly. A safe topic! Turning to Sesshoumaru, she put on a bright face.

"Would you like breakfast?" she asked, trying to be as chipper as it was possible to sound with a stuffed nose.

"No," he answered.

She felt her forehead wrinkle. "You aren't hungry?"

The thought of food made his stomach turn a little bit. "No."

"So you don't want breakfast?"

His eyebrow twitched. "No."

Kagome felt herself running quickly out of polite options. "Tea, then?" she suggested.


"What about coffee? Or water?" she said desperately.

He gave her a look filled with bored irritation. "No," he replied.

Kagome's tenuous hold on her patience snapped. She was feeling sick, her foot was still sore, and it was cold. "Would you like to not be so difficult, then?" she demanded.

Sesshoumaru blinked.

For half a second, Kagome's heart stopped. She remembered that there weren't any enchanted rosaries now. Why isn't my life flashing before my eyes? she thought. That's supposed to happen before you die, right? She almost squeezed her eyes shut, but didn't move.

Finally, Sesshoumaru opened his mouth.

"No?" he answered. Bizarrely, he sounded confused.

Kagome chose to not press the issue any further. "Okay!" she said brightly. "Then I'm going to have tea, if that's okay with you." She found she didn't necessarily enjoy his company, but it was still nice to have someone else around to distract her from her solitary thoughts.

Another annoyingly elegant shrug. Incongruently, Kagome decided that his shoulders had to be very well shaped in order to be strong enough to shrug with all that armor weighing on them. Shaking her head, she turned to her backpack and dug out a bottle of water, a kettle, a stand, a slightly squashed teabag, and a thick plastic cup. As efficiently as possible, she bustled around the still demon and began to do the little things that kept her chaotic life in order and her tattered sanity intact.

Observing her, Sesshoumaru wondered if she was still a little addled. She moved as quickly as possible as her injured foot would allow, as though she were trying to keep her mind from something. Interesting, he thought.

The familiar actions calmed her. Placing the kettle above the still cheerful fire, Kagome turned back to Sesshoumaru. "Would you like to sit down at least?" she asked him.

She felt a sharp pang of relief when he gracefully lowered himself to the ground next to her sleeping bag. Kagome shuffled the short distance to him and did likewise. They sat in, if not companionable silence, then at least quietly and vaguely comfortably. Kagome found herself relaxing just a little bit in the cold air when Sesshoumaru shifted, very slightly, where he sat.

"What brings you here, miko?" he said, suddenly.

Kagome jumped. What? she thought, before realizing it would be better if she articulated that thought rather than stare at Sesshoumaru like a stunned fish. "What?" she said out loud.

Sesshoumaru turned his head to look her in the eye. It was a simple question. "Last night you said that you were looking for a hime. Is this true?"

She lowered her eyes and stared at her hands; she felt a blush rising on her cheeks. "Yes, I am," she confirmed.

"Why?" he demanded.

"Because I'm supposed to," she replied.

Sesshoumaru repressed the urge to roll his eyes. "No. Why are you here in this time?"

Startled, Kagome glanced up. "You know about that?" she asked. "Who told you?"


Stupid flea, she thought crankily. Her time-traveling was supposed to be a secret. "Oh," was all she could think to say to that.

Sesshoumaru said nothing else. He found that silence made people try to fill it up and eventually they would say something useful. The trick was to look intensely interested while thinking about something else entirely until something he could understand popped up.

He didn't have to wait long. "I... I read a story." Kagome was aware of how silly that sounded, and tried to amend it. "I mean, I read a story that I was in, and since I hadn't, um, done it yet, that meant I had to go back in time and take care of it."

Sesshoumaru nodded. Ah, duty, he thought. That was something he could understand.

"So... that's why I'm here." Kagome twirled a lock of hair absently around her finger and bit her lip. The demon lord was still staring at her, as if expecting something, and Kagome hated to disappoint people. The knowledge of what the hime and the demon prince had done in the woods was a large, uncomfortable – not to mention embarrassing – thing in her mind, like an elephant that she didn't want to look at or talk about. She had come back to find him, and here he was, albeit ahead of schedule.

Now that he was actually in front of her, Kagome wondered just what the hell she thought she was going to say to him when she had found him. How exactly did one broach the topic of one-night stands with someone, especially someone she didn't know well? They'd fought against a common enemy, sure, but that hardly put them on anything other than nodding acquaintance terms. It had been years – years – since he had last tried to kill her, but he had still tried; though even then it hadn't been anything... well, personal. Damn him! There was just no way of knowing what sort of terms they were on, and even though she knew she had to ask, Kagome was suddenly extremely uncomfortable. She found that she would rather be anywhere at this moment than here, about to ask a dangerous demon lord about his sex life.

In her mind, Kagome tried out several segues. Pardon me, but did you have sex with a human hime nine months ago? Yes? Surprise! You're going to be a daddy! God that sounded horrible. So... accidentally have sex with a human in the woods lately? No, no. That was ridiculous. Following in your father's footsteps, eh? was even worse. She wondered how long she would live after she asked that question.

He was still waiting for her to say something. Oh, damn.

"I came to find you," she blurted out, then immediately regretted it. Smooth, she thought. That was like butter. Kagome wanted to kick herself.

Sesshoumaru had been cataloguing the number of leaves on the trunk of the tree right behind Kagome, but at her sudden declaration he lost count. His plan to stay silent until she said what he wanted to hear suddenly forgotten, he cocked his head ever so slightly. "Me?" he said. Well. That was unanticipated, he thought. He didn't know what he had been expecting her to say, but it wasn't that.

"Ahaha!" Kagome giggled nervously. "Um, yes. At least, I think I was looking for you. Well, I was supposed to look for you after I found the hime, but yes."

Confusion reigned. "Why would you need to find a human hime before myself?" She was blushing again, and he could smell her blood, heated and fast, circulating close to the skin.

"Ahaha!" she said again. Sesshoumaru wondered if that spill she took from running away from the bear had rattled something in her brain. Perhaps a connection had been knocked loose. Did it work like that? He noticed that she was worrying the sleeves of her haori, just like she had that night he had seen her, before he was himself again.

"Well?" he prompted.

"Ah!" the miko cried and covered her face with her hands. She wasn't doing very well. "Um... ah... oh, god..."


She looked like she was having a fit. "Oh, no!" she wailed, shaking her head back and forth.

Sesshoumaru wondered what on earth had come over her, and he wished Myouga was around to tell him if this was normal behavior or not, but the damn flea had wandered off in search of a snack.

She was still moaning into her hands when Sesshoumaru decided he'd had enough. He reached out, grabbed her wrists, and pried her hands from her face, looking her straight in the eyes.

"What?" he demanded.

Kagome shut her eyes and strung the words together, knowing if she didn't get them out fast enough she would never say it. "Didyoumatewithahumanhime!" she squealed, her face burning with humiliation. His hands felt like manacles. She tugged, but he held fast.

I'm dead! Oh, god, oh god, oh god, I'll just be a little puddle of smoking green goo when he's done with me! Kagome gave up and hunched over, waiting for the death blow. Mama, Jii-chan, Souta, I'm sorry!

There was a long pause, wherein nothing happened. After a moment, Kagome cracked open her eyes. The sight that greeted them was so priceless that she had to open them all the way.

Eyes wide and mouth slightly agape, Sesshoumaru was looking dumbfounded. She'd only seen him look that way once before, when she'd accidentally pulled the Tetsusaiga from the throne like some silly, latter-day Arthur, and she found she liked it. It was nice to see him discomfited by her for a change, rather than the other way around.

Slowly he unlocked his fingers from her wrists and sat back. Kagome rubbed her arms where she could still feel the imprint of his hands and watched him warily. Since he hadn't killed her right away, it was probably a good bet that he wasn't going to, but regardless she wanted to keep on her toes. Not that keeping on her toes would do any good, since he was inhumanly fast. Finally, blinking a little, he spoke.

"I am unable to understand the state of mind required to contemplate even thinking about that question," he told her.

Kagome knew what he meant. "Sorry?" she offered.

Sesshoumaru merely raised his eyebrows.

Waving a hand, Kagome tried to explain. "Well... the story – that I found, the one that I'm in, remember – mentioned that the hime had a son by... um... the inu-ouji. I just assumed that it was you."

Sesshoumaru could feel his mouth twisting in displeasure. "It is me," he informed her. "But I assure you that I have not touched a human hime." Then, just in case she didn't get it the first time, he added: "Ever."

"I believe you!" Kagome assured him, since his eyes were narrowing again and she found she didn't like that at all. "It's just - I guess the story got it wrong?"

"Yes," he said. "It did."

Kagome paused. "Are you sure?"


"Great!" Kagome replied hastily. "Then, um, I wasn't looking for you, I guess." Irritation flooded her. Running into a principle player of the story early on would have made her job just that much easier, but it seemed that she was back at square one.

Sesshoumaru shot her a look. "Are you upset that I am not so unprincipled that I would lay with a human?"

Great. She'd offended him. "Well, it would have made my life simpler, but it's okay," she said, her hand held up in a placating gesture. "So I guess I'll just find a village and look for the hime and you can go do..." She trailed off, then rallied. "Well, whatever it is you do."

"Hmph," he said. "Is this why you were prattling on about my nonexistant son last night?"

Kagome blushed. She was getting rather good at blushing. "Yes. Sorry," she said again.

Sesshoumaru nodded, as if that explained everything.

Turning away, Kagome sighed. Back to the drawing board again. She felt heavy, and tired. The momentary invigoration she had felt, thinking that she would be finished with her task sooner than anticipated had completely evaporated, and that, coupled with believing she was about to be killed twice this morning, left her completely drained. She tried to concentrate and think back to the last time she'd crossed a road. One day ago? Two? It was so difficult. She'd cry if she didn't need her strength.

Kagome leaned forward, propped her head in her hands, and closed her eyes.

Sesshoumaru watched the miko as the life seemed to leak out of her, and felt a pang of sympathy. He could see that she was bowed under the weight of a burden; he'd known that same feeling of crushing duty many times before. Anything could crush someone, when properly applied, just like almost anything could kill them if used properly. She was half-dead beneath her obligation; he wondered how long she could continue if something didn't bend soon.

Not for the first time, he was reminded of Rin. Rin, who had never wanted for anything and who had never felt the chains of duty snake around her limbs and drag her down. She had lived a happy life because he had kept her under his care, telling himself it was because her life was his when really had been the other way around. He'd sacrificed and lost so much because of her – no, for her – because it was his happy obligation to do so. And he'd lost her, but this miko, who had come back because of stories, because of tales from the past, had reconciled his loss and desire, and now he could feel the same black waves of exhaustion – the same that he felt not a scant month ago – roll from her body.

She looked very young and afraid, and very, very tired.

Sesshoumaru reached a decision.

Kagome looked up and was surprised to find the demon lord still sitting there. For some reason, she thought that he would have left by now, without a word as she'd seen him do so often. She gave him a wan smile. "I guess this is good-bye," she said, thinking he might be waiting for her dismissal.

Sesshoumaru shrugged, and Kagome frowned. "Is there something more you want to know?" she asked him. She couldn't for the life of her think what else he would want to ask, but she would try to help him.

He didn't answer. "I believe I will stay," he announced instead.

Kagome's mouth dropped open.

"Huh?" she said intelligently.

The look he gave her made her feel like an idiot. "I will stay."

She must still be dreaming. That had to be it. "Why?" she demanded. "Don't you hate humans? Why would you stay with me?"

He shrugged. "My reasons are my own," he said cryptically.

Anger flared. "Wait, I didn't say you could travel with me. That is what you're planning to do, right?"

He nodded.

"Well, you don't have to," she informed him haughtily. Oh, god, someone to talk to, someone to take your mind off it, someone there... she thought incoherently. She pushed the whispering voice away. "I won't be a burden on anyone."

This time she knew it wasn't her imagination; a look of annoyance flickered across his face. "Do not insinuate that I am so weak that you would be a burden," he said, just as haughtily.

"That's not what I meant!" she fumed. "I meant, don't you have better things to do, other than follow me around? Don't you have a kingdom or something to take care of?"

Sesshoumaru thought hard. "I am taking – " what was that word Myouga had used? " – an extended constitutional."

Kagome wrinkled her nose. "A holiday?"

Though he'd never heard the word before, Sesshoumaru took a good stab at it. "Yes."

"You want to spend your holiday with me?"

Snorting, he turned away from her. "I did not say that," he reminded her. "I said I would stay."

"I don't need you to stay!"

"I suppose you will escape the next bear on your wounded foot," he said nonchalantly. "And the next. And you will of course adequately defend yourself from gangs of bandits with your bow and – " he glanced at her quiver, " – three arrows."

"Oh!" she fumed. "I can take care of myself."

"That's what I just said," he retorted.

"Well, then you don't have to come with me," she snapped back.

"But I will."

If she'd been standing, she would have stamped her foot. "Why?" she demanded again, wanting to give in, needing company, missing Myouga, missing her friends, missing him as he sat in front of her.

I'm lonely, she had told her mother. She wanted to throw something.

Sesshoumaru didn't see what was so difficult about the situation, so he said the only thing he knew she would understand, the only reason he could give. "Think of it as repaying a debt," he replied.

All the air went out of her, and Kagome deflated. Abruptly she clambered to her feet and turned away from him, not wanting him to see her face.

She felt like she had been punched in the gut. Even knowing what she had helped him do, she had never thought he would feel that he was in her debt. It was just something she was supposed to do, like finding the jewel, like loving her friends, like giving up her happiness for the future of the world. It had always been a responsibility that she had fulfilled; she'd never thought that anyone would be grateful for what she did.

Ever since that first day, she'd done what she had to do, and suddenly someone had noticed.

Kagome turned back to him, and saw him in the new dawn.

Standing in the light of the morning, the miko appeared almost insubstantial, as though a breeze would blow her away. Sesshoumaru entertained himself with the thought of pushing lightly on her chest and watching her fall over while he waited for an answer.

At last she appeared to capitulate. "Fine. But you can't kill anyone," she announced.

Sesshoumaru frowned. "But – " he began.

"Those are the terms!" she cut him off. "Unless we're being attacked, you can't kill anyone! Or fight! I have to go to a lot of villages, and I can't afford to make people afraid of me. Or, I guess, more afraid than they'll be anyway." The idea, that word of a miko with a youkai would travel faster than just a wandering miko, tickled her mind, and Kagome liked it.

She watched as Sesshoumaru slowly inclined his head. "Agreed," he said.

"And you're not going to kill me," she told him.

"If I was, do you not think I would have already done so?" he asked reasonably.

Kagome put her hands on her hips. "Well I thought you would at least twice today," she informed him.

"That is merely a healthy respect," he replied. "But no. I have my honor."

Kagome gave up. "And I talk a lot," she said.

He raised an eyebrow.

"Just to warn you," she added.

He snorted. "I did not need a warning. I already knew."

This time she did stamp her foot. "You – !" she began, but was cut off abruptly.

"Kagome-sama! Please look where you are stepping!"

Glancing down, she watched as Myouga hopped up the folds of her clothing and came to rest on her shoulder. "I am back from my breakfast. Did I miss anything?" he asked.

Kagome groaned, and in the morning air the tea kettle began to whistle.

Tales from the House of the Moon

A InuYasha Story
by Resmiranda

Part 13 of 42

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