Continuing Tales

Tales from the House of the Moon

A InuYasha Story
by Resmiranda

Part 14 of 42

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Tales from the House of the Moon

"Record and play, after years of endless rewind;
Yesterday wasn't half as tough as this time."

- Barenaked Ladies, Too Little Too Late

The first thing that Sesshoumaru, the Prince of the Western Lands, King of the Moonlit Country, and Lord of the House of the Moon, learned on his bizarre quest with the Miko of Time was that humans, in sufficiently large numbers, were strange and unpredictable creatures. The second thing he learned was that Kagome inspired him to act approximately twelve years old.

They ran across a village in the late afternoon of that first day. Kagome and Myouga had been chattering nonstop for almost seven hours, and by the time they finally shut their mouths Sesshoumaru found himself suffering from an incredible headache. Since she had somewhere to be and he did not, he trailed her on the road and as such was able to listen to her speak of her life now that she was no longer traveling with Inuyasha and her group of friends. Unfortunately, it was incredibly dull, if only because he had no idea what half the words she used meant. From what he could gather, she had been studying history - by which she seemed to mean this time - and that she was so erudite that she was now a scholar and was going to continue her studies. It also appeared that while it had been fifty years since Naraku had finally been hunted down and defeated on a late autumn morning, only six years or so had passed for her. That explained her lack of age more succinctly than the simple explanation Myouga supplied him, which was merely that she was a time traveler.

She told Myouga about her friends and a boy she had 'dated' - Sesshoumaru assumed this meant courting - and how her brother had grown up and would be going into high school soon. Her 'classes' sounded just as dull as her life, although if he thought about it her life wasn't much duller than his own. He found that prospect incredibly depressing.

Half of the conversation was Myouga prattling on about himself and, tangentially, Sesshoumaru, which was even worse than hearing about Kagome's life since he already knew the ending, as it were. During long rhapsodies about his battle and the every day state things Sesshoumaru did, the demon allowed his mind to go pleasantly blank, a talent he had developed in the briefing chambers and for which he was eternally grateful. It served him well, it seemed, no matter where he was, or what babble to which he was forced to listen.

The sun was sliding down the sky when he caught the scent of many humans living close together, which was not the most pleasant of scents. He wrinkled his nose.

"So anyway, I said to Eri-chan that there was no way I was going to date her brother because he never brushes his teeth and I just couldn't stand that - " Kagome was saying as Myouga nodded sympathetically when Sesshoumaru cut her off.

"There is a village not far from here to the west," he announced from his position behind her. Kagome jumped - she'd nearly forgotten that he was back there. Whirling abruptly in her path she almost collided nose-to-armor with him. Ignoring her near brush with a bloody nose, Kagome clapped her hands.

"Excellent!" she exclaimed. "We should go there so I can start looking for Machiko."

Sesshoumaru said nothing, merely stared down at her. She was looking extremely energetic for someone who had been half-delirious the night before. He waited for her to strike out in the direction of the village with that annoying spring in her step, but she just stared up at him.

He was on the verge of asking her if he had grown another head when he wasn't looking when she blushed and looked down. "Um..." she said. "Could you lead the way? I have no idea which direction is west." Then, to his complete shock, she beamed up at him.

Slightly taken aback, Sesshoumaru stepped away from her bright smile. "Do you mean to tell me that you have had no idea which direction we have been going all this time?" he asked.

The girl in front of him gave a nonchalant shrug. "Well, I thought if I walked on a road long enough I was certain to run into a village at some point," she told him gaily.

Sesshoumaru stared.

Kagome waited for him to say something. He was looking at her again with those eerie golden eyes that only rarely revealed what he was really thinking. They were so different from Inuyasha's eyes, which may have been weird and golden, but at least they were wide and expressive; Sesshoumaru's were narrow, and a lighter shade than his brother's. The overall effect was something familiar but alien. Inuyasha had been everything to her, but looking into his brother's eyes was like coming home to a house with all the furniture rearranged.

Shifting from one foot to the other uncomfortably, Kagome wished he'd yell at her. That, at least, would be familiar enough to be comforting. Instead, after a long moment, he simply shook his head ever so slightly and veered off the path they had been following. Feeling stupid, she followed him.

There wasn't a lot of underbrush in this direction, which was a good thing, but she had the distinct feeling that Sesshoumaru was angry, which was bad. Kagome wondered if the situation could be considered a wash.

After about five minutes, Myouga, perched next to her ear, cleared his throat. "Don't worry, Kagome-sama; Sesshoumaru-sama also travels in random directions without knowing where he is going sometimes," he said in a low voice.

"He does?" Kagome whispered back, frowning. "Then why did he shake his head at me if he does the same thing?"

The old flea shrugged. "Perhaps he is surprised that anyone could be as insensible as he?" Myouga postulated.

In front of her, Sesshoumaru came to a stop.

"I heard that," he announced to the world at large before walking on as if he had said nothing at all.

As Kagome waited for her heart to start again, Myouga shouted from her shoulder. "Ah, Sesshoumaru-sama! Please forgive me!" he yelled, although to her he didn't sound terribly sorry at all.

Dropping back a little further, Kagome put a hand to her mouth and whispered behind it. "Do you think he bought that apology?" she asked Myouga.

"No," Sesshoumaru said loudly from fifteen meters in front of her.

"Eep!" Kagome squeaked.

This time Myouga didn't even bother to keep his voice down. "Sesshoumaru-sama knows that I am a loyal servant of his house, and as such I mean no disrespect when I say such things. I am old, and have a deep love of the truth," he told Kagome.

"You do?" Kagome wondered. This was news to her.

In front of her, she distinctly heard a snort.

"And I heard that, Sesshoumaru-sama!" Myouga shouted.

"I know," said the demon, raising a clawed hand and slicing through a thickly overhanging vine.

Deja vu, Kagome thought. Worse, irritating deja vu. She was distinctly reminded of Inuyasha and Shippou, except not at all.

They walked in silence for a while, Kagome remembering other forests and other times, and Sesshoumaru thinking god-knows-what.

Kagome ran a hand down the red fabric of her hakama - she'd donned the traditional garb that Edo's miko had foisted upon her so that she would be easily recognizable on sight - and wondered if she looked like Kikyou even more now. Every time she felt sad or was reminded of the past, she thought she must be even more like her predecessor. If Sesshoumaru were to turn around now, she wondered what he would see.

"We are here," the demon lord announced, jolting Kagome out of her thoughts. Even though her legs were tired and her injured foot was beginning to twinge just a little, she jogged to his side and looked out from the edge of the forest at the little village that looked like every other little village in Japan.

"What now, Kagome-sama?" Myouga asked.

In all honesty, Kagome had no idea. Miroku would have found the biggest house in town and offered to perform an exorcism, but Kagome had no idea how to even pretend to do such a thing. She shrugged. "I guess we'll go find the miko of this village," she said aloud.

"Excellent idea!" Myouga concurred. Sesshoumaru said nothing. It was starting to dawn on Kagome that Sesshoumaru said nothing if he had nothing to say; it was somewhat of a novel concept to her, so she let his silence pass and forged ahead.

The village was quiet and medium-sized, very similar to Edo fifty years ago, although Kagome had no idea what this village would be in the future; whereas Edo would be Tokyo, she had very little concept of where she was in terms of her own time. The farmers were probably still out in the forest, setting snares for a little meat for dinner, and the women were taking care of household things, perhaps preparing food and tending to children. It was peaceful in the chill of the late afternoon sun.


Startled, Kagome turned her head. Emerging from between a few huts was an old man, smiling and waving a hand as he bowed. He didn't stop bowing as he hobbled toward her, giving her the impression of one of those little duck toys that bobbed up and down until they fell over. Kagome shifted uncomfortably - she'd never really grown used to being treated deferentially, and the old man was taking so much time bowing that he probably wouldn't reach them until nightfall. Glancing behind her Kagome assured herself that Sesshoumaru wasn't going to kill the man. Since the demon lord could not have looked more bored if he'd tried, she assumed it was all right to approach the villager, and so she turned back and walked toward him.

"Good afternoon, ojii-san," she greeted him, opting for formality.

"Good afternoon, miko-sama," the old man beamed and executed another bob. "What brings you to our village and how may I help you?"

"Er... well..." Kagome said. "I guess I was looking for the miko of this village."

At this proclamation, the man's face fell, which, considering the number of wrinkles he sported, was not a pretty sight. He bobbed. "I am sorry, miko-sama, but we lost our miko rather recently. We are currently without a priestess."

Kagome frowned. "I'm so sorry! Didn't she have time to train another miko?"

The old man shook his head. "Alas, but no. She was very young. I am sorry if you came to see her." He bobbed again.

Kagome looked away from him - all the bobbing was making her seasick - and bit her lip. "I don't suppose you would... let us stay here for the night?" she said hesitantly. "I can do small spells and I have a knowledge of medicines..."

The old man cut her off with a smile that creased his face into a number of wrinkles. He looked like a deferential raisin. "Miko-sama, you are too kind! I will take you to the head of the village and he will decide."

"Thank you," Kagome said, and bowed, completing the great circle of bobbing.

The old man turned and hobbled down the lane in the direction of a large house. Kagome's foot was beginning to smart, so she hobbled after him, and she could feel Sesshoumaru following behind her.

The village was quaint and tiny and full of dirt, just like all the other villages she had passed through in her time in the Sengoku Jidai. There were children bundled up against the cold, playing in a field behind the little houses, and as Kagome passed one hut, she saw a woman inside, her face in her hands, crying. She had to check her impulse to break away from her tiny entourage and ask the woman what was troubling her. With difficulty, she tore her eyes away and kept her gaze on the ground for the rest of the short trip.

When they finally arrived, the old man turned to her and gestured for her to wait, so Kagome unshouldered her bow and leaned on it as he approached the door.

"Kagome-sama," Myouga said, next to her ear. "Are you feeling all right?"

Kagome shook her head. "I'm fine. My foot just hurts, that's all," she told him.

"Ah," he replied sagely. "It will be good to finally get off it, yes?"

Kagome smiled. "Definitely. I really hope they have a spare room or something," she whispered back. "I'm about ready to collapse."

"Why did you not say something?"

Surprised, Kagome looked over her shoulder. "Oh, it's nothing," she assured Sesshoumaru. The demon stared back in the flat, yellow afternoon.

She didn't look away this time. It was beginning to dawn on her just how little she knew of him. He was a lord, and a powerful demon, but about him she knew next to nothing, except that he had lost his little girl. His thoughts were obscured to outside observers, and as such, she was at a loss with how to react to him, or what sort of feelings she should ascribe to him in various situations.

For lack of a better word, Sesshoumaru was confusing. Even now, he was regarding her with what could only be described as bored intensity, as if he really, really, really didn't care. Kagome held his gaze as best she could.

For his part, Sesshoumaru was beginning to question his impulse to follow her, and since second-guessing his own motives was something he did maybe once a decade, the sensation of self-examination was making him rather uncomfortable.

It had been years since he had been in a human village, when his father would instruct him to follow and observe the lives of humans as he looked in on the villages under his rule. They had always kept at a distance, looking from the trees of the neighboring forests, or walking through the towns at night. It was strange now to be in the middle of one, following a human for whom he had no true affection or ties; she was only empty memories, loosely tied together, of a time that had passed.

Yet he followed her anyway. Sesshoumaru wondered why.


Kagome nearly jumped out of her skin. Whirling around, she snapped to attention. "Yes!" she cried, her voice more shrill than she'd intended. Standing at the top of the small steps to his doorway, the village leader gave her an odd look, but seemed to quickly shake it off. He was a nondescript man, like a hundred other village leaders she'd seen. He was much taller than she, though he seemed to walk with a permanent stoop. He hurried down the steps and stopped in front of her, bowing low. This impressed Kagome to no end since she thought he could not slump down any lower. "Miko-sama, allow me to introduce myself. I am Hiro, and I am in charge of this village. I would like to welcome you! It is an honor!" he exclaimed.

Kagome nodded at him. "Likewise, Hiro-sama," she returned with a smile.

The man stood up, but kept his gaze downward. "Miko-sama, please step inside my house. There are things I wish to discuss with you."

Startled, she almost took a step back. "A- all right," she replied. What now? she wondered. She caught a subtle flickering of the headman's eyes even as his head was bowed; she knew he was surreptitiously studying the demon behind her. Good, she thought. Inuyasha usually caused comment, but Sesshoumaru was definitely an attention-grabber; with luck, word of the miko and the youkai would reach the right ears.

Straightening, the man turned and led them into his house.
No one seemed to comment on Sesshoumaru's presence; he was ushered in with deference, though Kagome could see his nose wrinkling ever so slightly. Snob, she thought.

Once they were comfortably settled in a fairly spacious room, tiny cups of sake sitting on trays in front of them, the headman cleared his throat. In the crowded moment before he began to speak, Kagome found that it was very difficult to separate the present from the past; this scenario was so familiar, had happened so many times fifty years ago, that she almost glanced at the figure in white next to her, expecting to see dog ears in place of the elegantly pointed ears of a full youkai. She refrained.

"Miko-sama, I wish to beseech you for your aide," the headman said. "For the past month, our village has been attacked by a boar youkai. It has been years since a youkai has even appeared near our village, so we are at a loss as to how to dispatch it, and it has killed seven people in a month, and trampled five huts into dust.

"We will give you shelter for the night, and food for your journey if you will help us," he finished, and bowed.

A mere six years ago, Kagome would have said yes immediately, but something was nagging at her mind. Narrowing her eyes, she regarded the headman suspiciously. "Might this boar youkai have had any part of the previous miko's death?" she asked slowly.

Immediately the headman sat up. "Aha-ha!" he laughed nervously. "That might, er, have had something to do with it."

Cue sinking feeling. Enter resignation, stage right, Kagome thought.

"But surely," the headman said, apparently not finished, "a miko who has subdued a demon would find our own small youkai problem to be but a trifling thing!"

Kagome frowned. "Subdue?" she wondered.

The headman nodded at Sesshoumaru. "Your pet, miko-sama."

There was a brief moment where the world seemed to stand still. Then Kagome choked and the sake that had been sitting so benignly in her mouth promptly went up her nose. Spluttering, she tipped forward, leaning on one hand and covering her mouth with the other.

Next to her, Sesshoumaru was still as stone, considering his options. He hadn't been paying strict attention to the conversation, but someone had mentioned the word 'pet' and nodded in his direction, so it seemed to be a safe bet that his honor had been thoroughly impugned. He wasn't in the habit of killing wantonly, but sometimes it just seemed to be the most expedient thing to do.

Kill him now? he thought, Or later? Choices, choices.

Drawing out a poison-tipped hand, the demon lord thoughtfully cracked his knuckles.

His concentration was shattered when a shaking arm shot into his line of vision, palm facing toward him as if to ward him away from the source of the insult, and almost too late, Sesshoumaru remembered that he had given his word to refrain from killing. He turned to the coughing girl next to him and wondered what the hell he had been thinking to promise a damn fool thing like that.

Still trying to regain the use of her lungs, Kagome watched the demon lord through streaming eyes, unable to articulate the one thought in her head. You promised! She had no idea how she would stop him if he decided to make Filet of Headman, but surely her purifying powers might be able to make a dent. She really, really didn't want to use them, though. Please, just let it go! she begged silently, though she feared her message was lost in a flood of snot and irritated tears. Visions of decapitated bodies danced in her head - which, upon further reflection, was rather grisly. Kagome waited, the future hanging in the balance.

The world was slowing down. To her horror, Sesshoumaru slowly unfolded to his full height and leveled an icy glare at the still ignorant man at the head of the room.

Then he turned his heels and left.

The flood of relief was so palpable that Kagome began to cough all over again. The headman looked puzzled. For the briefest of moments, Kagome felt a deep and compelling urge to slap him across the face - that blithe, ignorant face, gazing at her with an expression of profound befuddlement, that face that had no idea how close it had come to being just a shish kebab on the poisoned claws of a youkai that regarded everyone as beneath him. In the back of her mind, Kagome knew his contempt included herself.

"I would appreciate it," she said, very slowly, "if you would not say that again."

"I don't understand," the headman said. "Do you not control that youkai?"

Clearing her throat, Kagome considered the options, settling for a close truth. "He is a... comrade," she said, dabbing at her lips and swiping at her leaking eyes.

"A comrade?" the headman asked. "I have never heard of a miko with a demon comrade."

There's a first time for everything. "He and I once fought against a common enemy," she informed him. "But, and I want to make this absolutely clear, I do not control him. He promised me that, unless threatened, he would not kill anyone as we traveled together, but..." Kagome considered her words carefully, "he can sometimes be, er, forgetful."

For her ears only, Myouga chuckled.

The headman was regarding her with wide eyes. "Miko-sama?"

Kagome gave him a bright smile, hoping to change the subject. "I wouldn't worry about it," she said. "You're still alive, so I'm sure he'll forget about it soon! But I have to ask you a question, if you would be so kind."

Slightly dazed, he nodded. Kagome felt a small pang of sympathy.

"I am looking for a hime named Machiko. Do you know of her?" she asked cheerfully.

To her disappointment, Hiro shook his head. "Er, no. I have not heard of such a hime."

Waving the sinking feeling away with a hand, Kagome shrugged. "That is fine. I just wanted to ask." Sitting back, she smoothed her hakama, and held her head up high. "Now, tell me about this boar youkai."

The small collection of village girls was giggling about him again. He could hear them. And if they said one more thing about his sexy ears, he was going to slice them into pieces, promise or no promise. Sesshoumaru supposed that ears could, theoretically, be quite erotic, but that generally had little to do with the shape and more to do with what one did to them. Whether they were pointed youkai ears or rounded human ears was completely irrelevant. Myouga, on his shoulder, was sniggering.

Ostensibly, the gaggle of young women was hiding in a doorway and waiting to see the miko demolish the youkai that had plagued their village, but they seemed more interested in the youkai who wanted nothing more than to flee than the one that wouldn't stop hounding them. Which, if Sesshoumaru remembered his father's vague talks about females, was just in their nature. Pay attention, and they wanted you to leave; ignore them, and they'd fall at your feet. Sesshoumaru wondered who had designed such a ridiculous creature; surely they should be reprimanded for such an unimpressive job. The beginnings of a headache pooled at his temples.

He kept his eyes focused on Kagome and tried to drown out the high-pitched whispers about his - apparently - well-shaped face. The miko was standing at the edge of the town and facing the direction from which the boar usually attacked, bow and arrow in her hand. Sesshoumaru noted that she was favoring her non-injured foot, and wondered just how brave a face she was putting on for the sake of the villagers. It was folly to go, wounded, into a battle in which one did not know the enemy. Myouga had tried to tell her this, but she had brushed him off, saying that she needed to do this because her spiritual powers came with an obligation. Sesshoumaru secretly suspected that she was doing this merely because she didn't want to sleep on the ground in the cold for another night.

High above, the moon shone in the sky, and a frigid breeze was lifting the long, black ponytail that hung down her back.

Kagome was freezing and extremely nervous. She'd never really taken on a youkai by herself before. The youkai at her back might have made her less anxious if she hadn't slowly happened upon the realization that he never made any actual promises to protect her, and the cold wasn't helping her jitters any. Her fingers were numb, her lips felt as though they were about to fall off, and her nose was running. She sniffled a little bit to clear it, but only succeeded in causing it to run a little faster. Come on, she thought. Let's get this over with so I can go to sleep. Unfortunately, the boar was not cooperating.

Positive thoughts, positive thoughts. How about, when it shows its stupid face, I'm going to kill it extra, just for good measure, she thought grumpily. Flexing her toes, Kagome reflected that she had been in a perpetually bad mood for the majority of her time here, and found she didn't like it. The sullen demeanor with which she was attacking this task was not very characteristic of her, but, she reasoned, anyone would be slightly put off by such a mission. The only thing that comforted her was the presence of Myouga; at the moment, Sesshoumaru was more stressful than comforting. She wondered if he would leave after tonight. Part of her wanted that - no more unnerving stares, no more moments of heart-stopping terror, no more awkward silences - but the other part of her was glad for his company, however stoic and overbearing.

Kagome shook her head and tried to concentrate. The silence of the forest in front of her was beginning to become unsettling, and she'd traveled in enough forests to know that silence was much, much worse than sound. The light giggling and vague, somber prattle of the villagers behind her was also beginning to grate on her nerves. She was certain they were talking about her; maybe criticizing her stance, maybe laughing at her strange mannerisms. Teetering between humiliation and anger, Kagome tried to dismiss it as paranoia, but the feeling persisted. God, for a bed, she sighed inwardly. A warm, soft bed, with sheets and a pillow and my teddy bear, Mr. Hugglebuns... Homesickness clawed at her stomach. She wondered what her mother was doing right this moment. Cleaning dishes? Sewing? Chatting with her grandfather?

I wish I could be with them, she was thinking, when a noise cut through her reverie.

Actually, it was not so much a noise as the hint of a noise. The light, non-noise of footfalls in the distance, and Kagome snapped to attention, suddenly on high alert. Straining, she could hear the crash of something heavy, coming toward her. The knot in her stomach tightened.

"Right," she muttered out loud, voice sounding low and gravelly to her own ears. "Come and get it."

She didn't have to wait long.

It came through the trees suddenly, branches breaking away before its hooves. It was huge, with gleaming tusks and ribbons of drool swinging from its jowls; even its bristles looked black and barbed. It's small, piggy eyes were glowing crimson, and as it paused at the edge of the forest, it swung its great head ponderously from side to side, surveying the village and the people who had come to see. Kagome could feel it watching her - evil, and looking for blood. Kagome took an involuntary step backwards in fear.

Which turned out to be a mistake as a bright lance of pain shot through her ankle. She stumbled a little, regained her footing as the boar lowered his head, raised her bow and drew the string, and the youkai tilted in her direction and thundered forward.

Be calm, breathe in, breathe out, she thought frantically, her mind going fuzzy with panic. Breathe in, breathe out… release…

The string whipped by her ear as the arrow flew, and she felt the bow twist in her hand as she watched the glowing projectile arc through the air, up and then down, bright and true -

The boar sidestepped neatly, and kept coming.

Kagome shrieked and pivoted out of the way, and she could feel her hair brushing the boar's side as her fingers groped in her quiver for another arrow. Suddenly she was no longer cold, but burning. Swiftly she slid another arrow into place with trembling fingers as the boar turned in his tracks, digging up furrows in the ground as it changed direction, and charged again.

Too slow, she thought despairingly, as, seemingly in slow motion, she slid the arrow home, and the boar trampled past her. As it went by, he slipped a tusk between the bow and the string, pulling it with him.

"Oh!" she cried, the bow whipping out of her hands so quickly it burned against the skin of her palms. The youkai was just toying with her, she knew, and this time there was no one to help her, no one to scoop her up and take her away from the danger. Distantly, she could hear the screams of terrified villagers, no doubt running and seeking cover while she stood, alone and shaking with paralyzing fear, to face the boar.

Sesshoumaru watched the swift battle play out. The youkai was much faster than it looked - its enormous weight belied a surefootedness that would have been unnatural on a normal boar. The miko had already cried out twice, and had stumbled once. Next to his ear, Myouga was yelling urgently, telling him to help her, to save her.

But something in her scent made him wait. Something shining, that smelled like waterfalls and sunlight, different from her normal scent. Something strange, and almost uncomfortable to him. Sesshoumaru stayed where he was, and gazed at her stoically as the boar wheeled around for the last charge and she fell to the earth.

Kagome felt the jarring impact of the ground against her knee, the vision of the giant boar youkai vibrating a bit with the sudden hit before clearing again. She was panting hard, trying to regain her breath, never taking her eyes from her opponent, but now bereft of a weapon. In the piggy eyes, she could see triumph. Leisurely, the boar tossed his head and trumpeted.

It was taunting her.

A sudden wave of anger crashed down, washing over her shoulders and through her chest, hot and burning, and in her heart, Kagome felt rage flare up, burning her where she knelt. Her ragged breathing, scraping against her throat, came faster and faster as the boar lowered its head a final time, and ran.

Just her breath and her heart could be heard, drowning out the sound of cloven hooves, and her fingers curled involuntarily around her itching palms.

"No," she whispered, alone at the edge of the forest. "No."

The youkai soared at her, and Kagome's hands flew in front of her, and in her limbs she felt her power growing, pushing outward, unable to be denied.

"NO!" she screamed as her fingers flared with power, and then the youkai was bathed in light, screaming his own scream, as his body was thrown back and his flesh burned away.

It carried on screaming for a long time, well after Kagome's shoulders slumped and her hands fell to her sides, exhausted.

Sesshoumaru approached her slumped figure, measured steps evenly covering the ground between them. The heavy sound of her panting reached his ears as he stopped, slightly to the side and behind her. From his shoulder, Myouga hopped down his sleeve and onto the miko's bent knee.

"Kagome-sama, that was magnificent!" the flea cried, bouncing up and down on the red fabric. "Truly magnificent! Inuyasha-sama would have been proud! Wonderful! Excellent!"

Kagome made no move to indicate that she had heard, though this did not stop Myouga's effusive praise.

"Beautiful! Midoriko-sama could not have done better herself! That was just fabulous!" the flea cried, lost in his own excitement. "You have performed a difficult task, and you did it well! Sesshoumaru-sama," Myouga turned to him, "do you not think so?"

Sesshoumaru had to admit the sudden burst of pure light had been a sight to see, and was glad that he had been behind the miko, rather than in front. He shrugged. "Impressive," he remarked, coolly regarding the boar youkai thrashing fifty meters away, noticing that the trees had stopped its flight through the air. A grim smile tugged at his lips. He knew from experience that trees hurt quite a bit.

"See?" Myouga was saying eagerly. "Even Sesshoumaru-sama, who is a great warrior, thinks you did well!"

"Really," Kagome breathed, but she did not sound happy. Myouga immediately stopped in mid-bounce.

"Kagome-sama?" he asked, worry tingeing his voice. "Are you all right?"

Instead of answering, the miko clambered to her feet, tossed her frazzled hair over her shoulder, and wheeled in her tracks to face Sesshoumaru, who was mildly shocked to find her face completely flushed.

"You," she cried shrilly. "What the hell did you think you were doing?"

A slight widening of the eyes was all he would allow himself to show of his shock at her audacious tone. Sesshoumaru wondered if it was a trick question. "Nothing," he told her. He noted with interest that her hands were clenched into fists at her sides.

"That's right! " she cried, as if she had just proved a point. "You did nothing, while I almost got turned into road kill by an overgrown pig with a miko fetish!"

To punctuate her accusation, the boar screamed again. It was clearly in agony, a state of being that Sesshoumaru usually supported wholeheartedly, but the cries were getting on his nerves. So was Kagome.

"Who the hell do you think you are, just standing by while I almost get my bones ground into little tiny pieces?" she was saying. "Why didn't you help me? I risked my damn life, and all you do is stand around looking bored!"

Sesshoumaru blinked, failing to see the connection between her fight and his inaction. Surely she didn't expect him to take responsibility?

Her finger flew up and pointed at him accusingly. "Just like that!" she cried.

Sesshoumaru suspected that he had missed the point of the conversation somewhere back down the road. "What?" he asked, completely perplexed.

To his continuing shock, the miko stamped her foot like a spoiled child. "Like that! " she reiterated. "You look just like that! Like you can't be bothered to care about anything. You know me, and yet you didn't help! Why? Because I'm human? Because I'm a miko? Because I'm tainted by your brother? Why? "

Abruptly cutting herself off, Kagome took a slight step backward and crossed her arms, waiting for an answer.

Having considerable difficulty grasping Kagome's string of thought, Sesshoumaru seized the only part of her barrage of words that he actually understood and clung to it like a lifeline. "I always look like this," he informed her. In the background, the dying pig squealed again.

Kagome lost it. Cold, sick, injured, and alone, she was suddenly sick to the bone. "Ooooooh!" she squealed. "You jerk! "

"I beg your pardon?" the youkai lord said coolly, his voice low and dangerous, but Kagome was past the point of caring whether or not she offended him.

"You heard me!" she cried, shaking finger still pointing at him. "You just stood there while your companion almost got killed," she accused. "Is this how you treat your allies?"

Sesshoumaru felt his jaw clench as he took a step forward and leaned in. Theatrically, he sniffed the air.

"And what the hell are you doing?" Kagome demanded.

Ignoring her, he took another long whiff. "Oh!" he said in mock surprise. "What's this I smell?" He sniffed again as she took a step backwards, and then straightened, putting a look of slight shock on his face. "Why, I do believe it is the stench of hypocrisy!" he exclaimed. "Someone is ranting on about allies when she does little or nothing to contribute to her companions' welfare or protection! How terribly odd."

"Oh!" Kagome cried. Her brain was pointing out with great, detached interest, that Sesshoumaru had lost his famous composure. Oh, look, her mind said. Those lines on his face are going all jagged, perhaps we should step away? Kagome ignored it and plunged on. "I do believe we have a contender for World's Biggest Jerk," she said. "Someone attached himself to me, not the other way around, without even asking me if it was all right, and then when something happens to me, he does nothing! Astonishing!"

Golden eyes narrowed down at her. "Someone," Sesshoumaru bit out, "made no stipulations that I should act to protect her in such a situation."

Blue eyes narrowed right back at him. "And someone," Kagome hissed, "should use some common sense!"

"Oh, well, if we're talking about common sense, one might point out that a certain miko went into battle already injured and without proper knowledge of her enemy's capabilities."

"One might also point out that a certain youkai could have very easily dispatched said enemy!" Kagome shot back.

"A certain miko did not ask."

"A certain miko was too busy trying not to get killed! "

The sharp sound of someone clearing his throat sliced through the tension in the air. Both Kagome and Sesshoumaru whirled around and glared at the intruder, who turned out to be the headman.

"Yes, Hiro-sama?" Kagome said testily.

The headman laughed nervously. "Um," he said, his voice high and strained. "I am loathe to interrupt you during such a spirited discussion, but could one of you perhaps finish killing the boar?"

Both Kagome and Sesshoumaru stood stock still for a long moment. Then, with great restraint, Sesshoumaru walked the fifty meters to the twitching youkai, and sliced neatly through its neck with his claws.

The boar died shortly thereafter, and Sesshoumaru gazed down at it and tried not to smile at the unfamiliar, thrilling sensation of anger. Not sullen, cold anger, but high, burning anger that would soon dissipate, and he almost laughed out loud as a fragment of memory floated down to him. His mother, smirking at him as he seethed over some perceived slight from a childhood friend whose name he could no longer remember. "Anger is good," she told him. "It is the gods, telling you that you are alive." Flexing his claws, the youkai lord took a deep breath, and felt clean.

Behind him there was a soft footfall, and he turned to see the miko looking drained and uncertain. He could smell salt tears on her skin.

She approached him slowly. Adrenaline coursed through her limbs, causing her to tremble violently, and she couldn't believe such horrible words had come out of her mouth. How could I be so cruel and foolish? Kagome thought. Why didn't I think? The world tipped around her as Sesshoumaru turned and let his again cold golden gaze fall on her.

She wanted to cry. "Sorry," was all she could think to say.

Sesshoumaru shrugged, turned, and walked into the forest without looking back.

Kagome collapsed to her knees on the ground, and tried to regain her breath.


She gave a strangled cry, belatedly remembering that Myouga had taken up her shoulder as his new perch. "Myouga-jii-chan," she sighed, looking at him through tired eyes. "I really screwed up, didn't I?"

To her surprise, Myouga chuckled. It was a warm, rich sound that reminded her of times past. A little strength returned to her limbs. "Why are you laughing?" she asked with a tired smile.

Myouga only chuckled harder and harder until he was out-right howling and in hysterics. Too tired to make the effort to cut through his laughter, Kagome waited.

Finally, Myouga wiped his eyes. "Ah, Kagome-sama, that was quite entertaining!"

"Maybe to you," she said, "but Sesshoumaru left. I insulted him, and he left me." It was very cold where she knelt, and Kagome rubbed her arms. A thought occurred.

"Wait," she said. "Why didn't you go with him?" she demanded.

Myouga chuckled again. "He will be back tomorrow morning," he announced confidently. "He merely needs to take some time away from this village."

"He'll be back?" Kagome repeated dumbly.

"Oh, yes," Myouga replied. "He never admits it, but he likes it when people stand up to him. Like battle, only without the imminent threat of injury. Now let's go inside, it's cold out here."

"Wait a minute," Kagome said. "I thought he hated it when people argued with him. And I was so rude…"

"Kagome-sama," Myouga said warmly, "I am an old man, and I constantly insult Sesshoumaru-sama and spar with him verbally. How do you think I am not dead yet if he does not enjoy it?"

Behind her, Kagome could hear the approaching footsteps of the villagers, wary and cautious, coming to take her to a warm hut with a bed and food.

"He'll be back?" she said again.

"Yes," Myouga assured her. "Now get up. My nose is going to snap off if it gets any colder."

Exactly as Myouga said, Kagome walked out of her hut the following morning to find Sesshoumaru waiting for her.

She had stared at him, and he at her.

"I trust a certain miko is finally awake and ready to continue our journey," he had finally said, coldly.

Kagome had studied him. If she hadn't known better, she would have thought there was a slight tilt to his lips.

"Only if a certain youkai can be troubled," she had shot back.

Abruptly, Sesshoumaru had turned his back, and began to walk away. Kagome distinctly heard him utter a small, "Hmmph!"

She grinned as she set out after him.

And now she found herself standing in the snow, fifty meters from their current village of residence, and arguing with him for what seemed like the millionth time in two weeks.

"Funny," she said, "but I thought we weren't going to be picking fights with humans since, you know, then you kill them."

As if his only aim was to upset her, Sesshoumaru yawned. "Perhaps you were too busy fiddling with your hair, miko-sama, but those humans picked a fight with me. "

Kagome ground her teeth. Sesshoumaru may have enjoyed their little exchanges, but she found them frustrating as well as slightly thrilling. "Yes, but you could have just walked away. My mother always told me that walking away from a fight takes an even bigger person than walking into one. I know that sounds silly, but they weren't really hurting your pride, were they? It's not like it was you they propositioned! So you could have just kept walking, even if they did keep calling after me. I can take care of myself, you know!"

Sesshoumaru didn't answer. Kagome had the distinct impression that she was talking to a wall, except a wall would have been more receptive. Experimentally, she extended a finger and poked him in the chest.

He wobbled ever so slightly, which Kagome found highly amusing. She did it again.

Sesshoumaru reached a decision as he stared at the falling snow: he was going to kill her.

He'd sworn that he wouldn't; in fact, he was honor bound not to do so, but after this much aggravation how much was honor worth, really? After all, no one had seen him promise to keep his claws from her throat... so actually, it was like he had never made the promise at all! Right? And he could always bring her back with Tenseiga. It would teach her a lesson, and it would be well learned, too. If only arguing with her wasn't so damn enjoyable, he would have taught her proper conduct days ago.

Idly, he wondered how long it would take her to learn the numerous lessons he required of his charges. They were relatively simple, so perhaps he would only have to kill her once for her to get it. Perhaps he should write them down for her first so she could study them.

He found he liked this idea. Sesshoumaru began to list various things he wished she'd been trained to do before he had decided to accompany her.

Do Not Aggravate the Demon. That was a good one, a nice catch-all for every situation. What else? Do Not Annoy Demon with Constant Chatter. Excellent. Sesshoumaru chose to ignore that she'd already warned him that she talked excessively, since such things only needed to be corrected. Treat Demon with Respect. Keep Hands To Self at All Times. Quit Poking Demon In Chest, Please, Thank You. That one would be particularly useful right about now...


Startled, Sesshoumaru tore his gaze away from the fluttering flakes of ice and refocused on the snow-covered miko who was jabbing one surprisingly pointy finger in his chest.

Kagome watched as the demon lord slowly came back from whatever vapid planet his brain was currently occupying and refocused on her face. "Are you even listening to me?" she demanded.

Sesshoumaru blinked, and Kagome observed small chunks of snow dislodge themselves from his eyelashes and tumble softly down his cheeks. "No," he told her.

"That's what I thought." Huffing, Kagome stepped back and put her finger away, even though in the two weeks they had traveled between villages together he had never made a move to threaten her. Other people, yes; her, no.

"Sorry," she said.

He gave no sign that he had heard.

"HEY!" Kagome said again.

Sesshoumaru visibly started. "What?" he snapped.

Kagome clenched her fist. "Let's try this again. I can take care of myself, okay?"

The demon lord slowly raised one insolent eyebrow. "That is not what you said two weeks ago," he informed her.

"Excuse me?"

Sesshoumaru sniffed, and ran a clawed hand through his hair, a gesture Kagome was certain he did only to distract her. "If I recall, you were caterwauling about how you needed to be protected."

"No," Kagome insisted, "I said I might need help once in a while. There's a difference."

"Not from my point of view. One way or another, it just means I pull you out of trouble."

"Yes, but that was just small trouble," Kagome shot back. They'd only encountered one other youkai in their journey, and she had dispatched it expeditiously. Kagome felt more than equipped to deal with cat-callers.

"Small trouble?" he said lazily. "I had no idea you took rape so lightly. Next time, by all means, encounter your trouble."

"That's not what I meant! " Kagome shouted.


"I meant, I have my bow and arrows. I could have taken care of them."

"I doubt that. You can't stand to step on lizards. What makes you think you can harm a human being?" he replied.

Kagome crossed her arms. "I could have taken care of it."




"Oooh!" she squealed. "You know, you are really pissing me off right now. Why are we even out here in the first place?"

"Because you did not want the villagers to hear your nagging?" Sesshoumaru postulated.

"No. Because you couldn't keep your stupid growling to yourself!"

"And you cannot keep your ridiculous opinions as your own counsel."

Kagome seethed. "My opinions are not ridiculous!"

"As your… what did you say? Ally? Yes. As your ally, I feel compelled to point out that your opinions give rise to silly notions like taking care of insolent guards all by yourself even though you have deep moral objections to taking the life of a caterpillar."

"And as your ally, I'm trying to keep us out of trouble long enough to-"

At the edge of her hearing, there was a rustling, and she knew someone was behind her. "Excuse me?" a feminine voice piped up, confirming her suspicions.

"Now what?" Kagome yelled, and pivoted in the snow to face the intruder.

The sight that greeted her eyes and the slipperiness of the ice beneath her feet would have caused her to end up sprawled on the ground had Sesshoumaru not caught her around the waist and kept her from falling any further than into his side.

In front of her was a very young, very pregnant girl with impossibly long black hair and wide eyes. Even before she said anything, Kagome knew who she was, and all around her, she felt the long forest strolls and pleasant, annoying bickerings grind to a sudden halt.

Inexplicably, she felt sad.

In front of them, the girl opened her mouth. "Please forgive me," she said, gaze settling on them like a mantle. "I am Machiko, and I'm looking for the miko Kagome." She looked away, seemingly slightly nervous. "Um… they said I would find you here? Are you Kagome-sama?"

I'm wearing miko clothes, aren't I, genius? Kagome wanted to say, but refrained.

Beside her, Kagome heard Sesshoumaru snicker slightly, clearly thinking the same thing, and she sighed.

Well, she thought cheerfully. At least he didn't sleep with her!

It was going to be a long night.

Tales from the House of the Moon

A InuYasha Story
by Resmiranda

Part 14 of 42

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