Continuing Tales

Tales from the House of the Moon

A InuYasha Story
by Resmiranda

Part 38 of 42

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Tales from the House of the Moon "Woman, strip me of my clothes and my doubts. Undress me, undoubt me."
- Eduardo Galleano, The Book of Embraces

* * *

In the end, Sesshoumaru decided, it wasn't so bad, after all.

Except for the bells. And the clapping.

Damn, but he was sick of clapping. And bells. If he never heard another bell as long as he lived, it would be too late because the damage was already done. Oh, he loathed bells, and he vowed, when he was free, to melt the bell of the shrine, first thing. It was a good goal in that it was achievable and uncomplicated, unlike every other goal or problem that would present itself once he was free. But still, it wasn't so bad, after all.

Of course, it took quite a while to reach this conclusion. Five seconds after he hit the ground, Sesshoumaru was feeling very un-Zen about the entire situation, and decided that it simply couldn't be happening to him. He was not nearly so careless as to allow himself to be sealed.

Six seconds after he hit the ground, the first villager hit Kagome, and Sesshoumaru realized that this was hell.

The priestess must have felt his power straining her spells almost to the breaking point - though not quite, to his further fury - because no more than half a minute passed before she put a stop to the beating. He could hear her hatefully cajoling voice calling for compassion, ordering them to bind the girl and carry her back to the shrine. Unfortunately from Sesshoumaru's perspective this was not much of an improvement, since as far as he was concerned that just meant she was being abused out of ear-shot.

He raged, youki clawing at the bindings, body struggling to revert to its true state. He was certain that, given a few more hours, he would have succeeded in breaking the spells just enough to escape, but it was not to be.

His bonds had only weakened slightly when a group of disgusting, smelly villagers swept down upon him and lifted him up - the feel of their hands made him want to cut them off, or at the very least retch - and carried him a short distance to running water. There they divested him of his armor and his swords, which only pissed him off more, and then washed the mud away; later he supposed he should be grateful for that, but at the time being cleansed by a mob of dirty humans was simply too repulsive to endure.

Then the villagers laid him down and began to build the shrine around him.

The next morning, the stupid bitch that Kagome should have killed returned to his side and, in the first of many rituals, began to construct his prison of binding spells.

Fifty-four thousand one hundred and forty seconds after he hit the ground, Sesshoumaru decided that he was distinctly unamused.

If there was anything about the situation that wasn't miserably unjust and infuriating, Sesshoumaru decided that it was his continued consciousness and acuteness of sense, because at the very least he was able to find out what had happened to Kagome. As the days ground onward and the building rose around him, he heard some variation on this conversation more times than he could count:

Shina-sama is so wise and good, so virtuous that she let that sorceress live! I would not have merely banished her if it were up to me, Village Idiot Number One would say. Village Idiot Number One could be anyone, of course; it didn't really matter which villager was actually speaking since they were all idiots.

Oh, yes, Village Idiot Number Two would agree, she is merciful as well as powerful! We are lucky to have her.

Those first few years, Sesshoumaru derived a fair amount of idle amusement from imagining himself in the role of Great and Powerful Demon Lord Speaking to Village Idiot Number One.

Shina-sama is a merciful woman, he imagined Village Idiot Number One saying.

No, he would reply genially, right before brutally disemboweling Village Idiot Number One, Village Idiot Number One's family, his friends, their friends, and anyone else who looked at him in a manner he didn't like, which was essentially anyone who looked at him. Anyone who didn't look at him, too.

Sesshoumaru found this exercise quite cathartic.

Not nearly as cathartic as, perhaps, actually living it out would have been but he had to take what he could get, because one billion one hundred seven million eight hundred seventy thousand eight hundred and eight seconds after he hit the ground it finally dawned on him that he was going to be stuck in there for a long, long time.

He'd held out hope for a while, though. The first few weeks he had bided his time, impatiently waiting for Kagome to stop dragging her feet and come back, but after a few cycles of the moon Sesshoumaru was forced to reluctantly acknowledge that his home and lands had probably been overrun by now. Strangely, he found himself only vaguely concerned about the fate of either his holdings or his employees and acquaintances; there was no doubt in his mind that Myouga had escaped - the flea always did - but as for the rest of them he couldn't muster the energy to care. They'd never really done anything for him, and so he found their loss peculiarly without pain.

Almost idly he hoped they'd burned the House of the Moon. It would have been good to do it himself, but the end result was the same, so it probably didn't matter. Really, the gesture would have been just a formality, since he had already shuffled off the dead shell of that life; destroying the physical remnants of it would have merely been a simple acknowledgment that there was no home, no tattered family honor to repair, nothing to hold him any longer.

The Sesshoumaru who had cared about those things was gone, burned away, and he was what was left.

Time and time again, Sesshoumaru wondered, almost sadly, if this strange liberation was what his own father had sought in the arms of a human woman - liberation from duty and obligation, liberation from the suffering of his beloved, dying wife, liberation from all the small, sad reminders of the fading life he had cherished so much. Liberation from all that he used to be, but was no longer.

But his father was dead, and there was no way to know any more.

Time crawled on.

Thirty-one million eight hundred and four thousand six hundred and fifty seconds after he hit the ground, Sesshoumaru decided that he hated Kagome. Hate took up a lot of time and would keep him occupied, and besides, it was her fault he was in this predicament in the first place.

This might have kept him going for decades, but after about twenty years Sesshoumaru gave up; he had tried, but he just couldn't lay the blame at her feet. That he was here was not her fault. The truth was that the fault was his.

His decision to follow her, his decision to keep her safe, his decision to turn back and fight with her, his decision to bring her back from the dead - all of those had been his decisions. She had not forced him at all, and, unlike practically everybody else, Kagome had never asked him for his help. That was the most important thing to remember - this was what he had chosen. Whatever the outcome was, it was his and no one else's.

So he decided that he hated himself, instead. This time he didn't even have to try.

For almost two centuries Sesshoumaru could not stop replaying those final moments before the first knife hit, wondering if he could have done anything differently, could not stop his anger at this weakness. One moment of inattention was all it had taken, and now he was here, trapped, waiting for Kagome to return to him.

There wasn't a day in which he did not imagine his release, did not list towards her return in his mind, did not long for her to sweep back into his life, dragging his freedom behind her.

There wasn't a day in which he did not remember her.

He missed her.

Time crawled on.

Determined to be just as strong - or, preferably, even stronger - when he was free, every day Sesshoumaru executed his combat training, over and over again in his mind, remembering what each movement, each slice felt like, so that when he finally escaped he would not have lost his edge.

He longed for physical movement; it would have made things so much easier, though, of course, would have negated the need for mental training in the first place. Regardless, it took a great deal of imagination and more than a little concentration to carry out this routine, and Sesshoumaru had never had an excess of either, but after a few years he managed to recreate his training in the darkness of his head.

The only problem with this approach was that concentrating on the physical sensations of combat had the unforseen side-effect of bringing to mind other physical sensations that he hoped to experience upon his release. Not that thinking of these things was bad, per se, but as the years went by his mind would stray more and more often to different movements, different textures against his fingers - and other parts of him - and all in all it was terribly distracting. And frustrating. Very, very frustrating.

So frustrating that, four billion eight hundred twenty five million seventy five thousand and six seconds after he hit the ground, Sesshoumaru decided he had endured enough.

He resolved to concentrate on the control of his youki. He didn't have much of a need for practice since he had always been exceptionally good at it, but it did have two huge advantages. One - he didn't even have to think about moving to do it, and two - there was a slim chance that it would help him escape.

There were a few false starts. This sort of ki training took a great deal of concentration; it was difficult to extend it beyond the binding spells without giving himself a headache, and at first the only beings he could pinpoint as targets to reach for were the priests of the shrine, whose holy auras were weak but still palpable from inside the binding spell.

Unfortunately when he did succeed, his priestly prey did not take kindly to the sudden demonic aura brushing over them, and would immediately swing into action, purifying the shrine, saying the prayers passed down from the sorceress that would strengthen the binding spells, and generally making a nuisance of themselves.

After this happened a couple of times, Sesshoumaru decided that strengthening his bonds was probably contrary to his goals, and settled for aiming for worshippers, whom he couldn't feel at all from inside the barrier, but who always kindly announced their presence with the clank of coins. The desired result was, of course, to strengthen himself enough to put a crack in the spells that held him immobile, and it would have been a brilliant plan if the priests weren't so scrupulous in their observance of the yearly rituals. Still, it felt like progress, and after a while that was enough for him.

Time crawled on.

Five billion three hundred and sixty-one million one hundred twenty thousand nine hundred and ninety-eight seconds after he hit the ground, right in the middle of a particularly uneventful stretch of history, Sesshoumaru decided to go crazy.

It seemed a very sensible thing to do at the time; as far as he knew, crazy people were very good at entertaining themselves in ways that did not involve tedious training, being a nuisance to pilgrims, or obsessive preoccupation with running a tongue down the long, taut line of muscle on the back of Kagome's thigh. So he decided to try it out, just to see if it was preferable to his usual sane but frustrating diversions.

Unfortunately, after only six months he quit in disgust; apparently being insane was not nearly as interesting as he had been led to believe and hadn't eased his frustration at all, so, rather disappointed, he ended the brief, flirtatious experiment and went back to being sane once more.

Insanity, it seemed, just wasn't for him. He wasn't even certain that he had been doing it right, anyway.

Time crawled on.

Seven billion one hundred ninety million two hundred and eleven thousand thirty four seconds after he hit the ground Sesshoumaru decided that it was tolerable, as long as he could keep himself occupied.

He found himself quite interested in the occasional smells. He could only discern them very faintly, and they had to be very strong, but there was always a story in each of them.

Other times he listened to the sounds of the villagers. His hearing was still incredibly acute, even from under the floor, and he was able to get a haphazard view of current events from gossipy conversations, like the progress of wars, famine, or pestilence, the general political climate, and who was sleeping with who's husband. To his surprise he found these conversations only moderately tedious. At the very least they passed the time.

And there was sleep. There was always sleep. Sesshoumaru enjoyed sleeping quite a bit - all his life he'd never been able to get enough of it, but now, with nothing to do and no way to do things even if there were, he found that he had a lot of time for sleep. He could sleep for days on end.

And sometimes, when he slept, Sesshoumaru dreamed. Sometimes he dreamed of his family, all of whom were long dead now.

Sometimes he dreamed of Rin, who had been so bright and brief. It had been so long, and still he looked to find her, sweet and untouchable, his own strange devotion filling the void where she had been.

Sometimes he dreamed of Kagome, and promises.

Time crawled on.

Finally, seven billion nine hundred sixteen million five hundred thirty-seven thousand eight hundred and twelve seconds after he hit the ground, Sesshoumaru decided that it wasn't so bad, after all.

True, he itched to move, but if he had not ended up here in this stupid shrine, he would have ended up doing - what? He hadn't really had a plan after the initial defiance of burning the House of the Moon and leaving his father's lands. Perhaps he would have crossed the sea, but most likely the only difference would have been that he would have killed his opponents in a different landscape, and possibly fallen ill from suspicious foreign foods.

Not to mention one very troubling thing he finally noticed, one day long, long after he had been sealed, which was that there seemed to be no more youkai.

Though he doubted very much that other youkai could feel him in his prison, he could still feel their pressure against the walls. Now, however, it had been years since a demonic aura brushed against the shrine; so many years that he couldn't even remember the last time it had happened. He could only assume the decline had not been sudden, merely his notice of it, as though one day they had finally slipped into obscurity and vanished. It seemed there were no more, or at least no more who dared to come close to a human settlement; something had apparently happened to them all, and Sesshoumaru wasn't certain how to process this observation.

Not that he wouldn't have been able to survive whatever it was that had laid all those lesser youkai low, but if there had been a sickness, or a mass extermination, or just a brutal war that had killed them all, or driven them underground, then it just might be possible that his little prison was, in fact, a fortress that had guaranteed his survival. True, he couldn't get out, but on the upside no one else could get in.

After pondering this idea for quite some time, Sesshoumaru decided that he liked this new perspective, and cheered himself further with thoughts of how fun it would be when he was once again unleashed on a world that had forgotten him.

Fortune was, apparently, all in how he looked at it.

Time crawled on.

To Sesshoumaru's gratified surprise, after about two and a half, maybe three centuries went by the world started to get really, really interesting. There was political upheaval and revolutions and lots and lots of war, and since at some point the little village Kagome had called Edo had become the most important city in Japan, Sesshoumaru felt right in the middle of it. There were ever more people talking about things that he could only vaguely imagine, like new weapons and mundane magic. Often he would think back on the things he and Kagome had talked of - or rather, the things she had said and that he had listened to - and would try to draw lines between where the world was now, and where it would be when she finally came to him.

At one point there was a particularly large and destructive war - humans had apparently advanced quite a bit since he had been sealed away - and then the war was lost and there were a lot of strange-spoken foreigners in the city for a while. And then it seemed as though the country threw open its doors and invited the outside world in.

Though Sesshoumaru could not inhale deeply at will and therefore could not utilize his sense of smell to the fullest, he still managed to pick up the change in scents that came sweeping in. They weren't very good smells, but they heralded a great deal of interesting noises as well. For years Sesshoumaru listened to the rumble of automobiles, to the steady pounding of construction, and entertained himself with trying to imagine what everything looked like. He wondered what sort of house Kagome lived in, and if he had heard the sounds of its birth.

And then, twelve billion six hundred and forty-five million nine hundred and fifty-eight thousand two hundred and forty-nine seconds after he hit the ground, he felt her.

It took his breath away.

It was only for a second, and then the sensation of her was gone, sending him into a frenzy and then leaving behind only the tantalizing memory to keep him awake for many nights on end. Anxiously, he waited for it to come again, but it didn't. After a few years he concluded with deep annoyance that he had imagined it; clearly his desire for her was causing him to hallucinate.

Except then, a few years after that, he felt her again, and this time she was definitely nearby. Every part of him ached to reach out and touch her through his bonds, but he hesitated, suddenly uncertain as to what he should do. Was she looking for him? Had they even met in the past yet? Would contacting her screw things up?

So he kept his youki to himself, though it was hard. Only two weeks after the second time, she seemed to come near and simply stay there, and he had to assume that she had taken up residence nearby. Either that, or she was a heartless bitch who liked to torture him, which, though that was probably not the case, was what it felt like.

Every time she disappeared for longer than a week, Sesshoumaru became nearly frantic with hope and sudden anxiety. She had been with him for over a month during their last time together, so it stood to reason that if she was gone for more than four weeks on end then his time here was almost done.

Waiting was absolute agony.

Each time her absence stretched out, Sesshoumaru forced himself to stay awake, to wait for her to come back, cursing when she returned too quickly, and it was like that every time, until the day she left and he waited for over four weeks, growing delirious with exhaustion before his mind shut down in a coma-like stupor.

Which was how he managed to sleep right through the majority of Kagome's frantic rescue mission, up until the moment Kagome ripped the first knife from his chest, and even then he was convinced, absolutely convinced that he was hallucinating or dreaming, that she couldn't be real.

This delusion lasted for a grand total of ten seconds before he felt her hands on his body. Then he was positive it was a dream, right up until the moment she ripped the second knife out, which hurt far more than he would have expected and he finally realized what was happening.

Sesshoumaru waited in absolute stillness, certain that she would disappear if he made a wrong move, while she ran her hands up his chest.

Twelve billion eight hundred sixty-six million seven hundred forty two thousand nine hundred thirty-four seconds after Sesshoumaru hit the ground, Kagome tore the final dagger from his shoulder.

Then, for the first time in over four hundred years, he opened his eyes, and the very first thing he saw was her bruised and battered face, shadowed blue, coarse and twisted with foolish, agonized longing.

No, he thought.

Not so bad, after all.

* * *

After a few moments Kagome realized that she was going to pass out from lack of oxygen if she didn't calm down. Since keeling over and dripping snot all over Sesshoumaru's remarkably well-preserved kimono did not seem to be the most gracious way to greet someone who had ostensibly been waiting four hundred years to see her, she hastily backed away, covered her face with her arm and struggled to stifle her sobs.

It took only a minute, but it felt like forever before the tears subsided. When she was finally down to only shuddering breaths and the occasional hiccup, she lowered her arm and dabbed gingerly at her face, wincing when she touched a bruise.

There was a rustling as Sesshoumaru sat up; at the edge of her field of vision she could see the shining white silk of his clothing move and flow with him. Kagome kept her eyes trained on the floor.

Neither of them said anything. Somewhere, very far away, a siren howled, a reminder of the city - the time and place - that surrounded them.

Silence settled.

Well, crap, Kagome thought miserably after a moment. She hadn't really thought this far ahead in her rescue plans - perhaps trying to inure herself to the disappointment she had thought was inevitable - but really, what should one say in this situation?

She was clueless as her brain flipped frantically through its playbook, desperately searching for the proper etiquette for the circumstances, but was unfortunately coming up with a blank. Nothing worked. 'What's new?' was ridiculous, 'you held up well, I guess being buried alive suits you!' was just insulting, and 'haven't seen you in a while, what have you been doing?' would just rub it in.

She could feel him staring at her.

Wiping the last tears from her cheeks, Kagome took a deep, shaky breath, and looked up at him.

Sesshoumaru gazed back. He sat very still, the blue moonlight painting him in sharp relief against the soft darkness of the shrine, sliding down his high cheekbones, pulling the brightness of his markings down into dark indigo, sheltering half his face in shadows. Golden eyes regarded her almost curiously.

Kagome felt a little pang in her chest.

He looked... fine, and almost disturbingly calm and collected, as if he had only been waiting a few hours instead of a few hundred years.

A thought struck her - what if the madoushi had been wrong? What if he truly had slept, the way Inuyasha had? What would he do? Was it even right to free him into this world that wasn't for him?

He was still staring at her. Say something! she commanded herself. If I were him, what would I want to hear from me?

Only one thing came to mind.

"I'm sorry!" Kagome blurted suddenly, the words slightly garbled in her haste.

Sesshoumaru blinked and cocked his head.

Shrugging, she looked at him helplessly. "I'm so sorry," she said again, her hands fluttering uselessly in a gesture of surrender.

With vague despair, she watched as his face melted into its faint, customary scowl.

It wasn't enough, was it? Nothing would ever be enough, he would never forgive her for this, and all she could say was -

Sesshoumaru sniffed, and, in a movement far too graceful for one that had been immobile for the past several centuries, unfolded his body until he was standing. Mutely, Kagome watched as he stepped from the hole in the floor and brushed tiny bits of sawdust from his sleeves. When he was done, he looked back down at her.

"Do not be a bore, Kagome," he said.

Kagome blinked at him.

Then, in the depths of her brain, something went clunk.

"What?" she demanded. Hastily, she scrambled to her feet with significantly less grace than he had employed to stand in front of him, swaying dizzily under the sudden change in altitude. "What did you just say?"

Sesshoumaru quirked a brow in that way she both adored and hated. The shadows of his face creased and deepened as he smirked at her.

"I said, do not be a bore," he repeated. "Only bores constantly apologize."

Kagome stared, repressing a primal scream of frustration.

He was just so... so him that she couldn't stand it!

"You bastard!" Kagome hissed. "Where's that knife?" Angrily she whirled away from him with resounding rejection. The effect was only slightly spoiled by her traitorous right foot, which chose that moment to slip dangerously on the rubble.

For his part, it was dawning on Sesshoumaru that he had probably failed to say the right thing, though, given their history together, why Kagome should be surprised by this was a total mystery. Frankly, he had thought she would appreciate a little levity. This did not appear to be the case.

As she slid perilously over the floor he made a move to catch her before she fell, but impressively her ire seemed to override the laws of physics, and, righting herself with righteous indignation, she flounced out of his reach, kicking splinters of wood this way and that as she went.

"You absolute prick!" she was saying. "I'm going to get one of those knives, and then I'm going to stab you in the goddamn face, and I'm going to seal you back up and only let you out after you've learn some goddamn manners, and before you say it, no, bad manners don't count - "

"That will be unnecessary," Sesshoumaru cut in, a little too hastily. His limbs were not stiff but it was still strange to suddenly find himself in control of them again, and he wasn't sure he'd be quite quick enough to keep himself from becoming more perforated than he liked. Also, she would probably feel bad about it and start crying again, and that was not a desired outcome.

"And why not?" Kagome demanded, still rooting through the rubble, not caring how much noise she was making. "With less than ten freaking words you managed to make me forget exactly why I care about what happens to you. You piss me off so much, and if I don't find a knife soon I'm just going to give up and strangle you instead. Arg!"

She felt her toes hit something hard and muffled a curse before bending down to pick up her gloves and crowbar and reminding herself that whacking him in the kneecaps probably wouldn't go over very well. It sure would be satisfying, though.

Her head hurt. He hadn't been awake five minutes and already he had given her such a whanging headache that each pounding of her heart sent a wave of pain through her skull and caused her vision to pulse alarmingly. He was a jerk. A big stupid jerk that had just spent four hundred years waiting for her to get it together and it was all her fault and now he had lost everything and... and he made light of the situation, and didn't kill her...

It would have been better if he were angry. It would have been better if there had been some way to repent. There wasn't, though. He had brushed off her apologies as if they didn't even matter.

"You are tired."

She started violently at his voice and whirled around, managing not to pratfall this time. "What?" she said inanely. "Oh... yes. But! That is beside the point! My state of mind has nothing to do with your rudeness."

"That," he said, stepping towards her, "is a matter for debate, and perhaps another time."

Oooo! He was just so damn arrogant -

He stepped in even closer, so close she had to tilt her head back to keep glaring at him.

Then he reached out and took her face in his hands.

Kagome promptly forgot how to breathe.


Her skin rippled and shivered. Inside her skull, it was as though her mind had been poured out, replaced with the heady scent of thunderstorms and forests, of wild snows and grey skies; it sent the world skating wildly away from her, dipping and turning as she swayed on suddenly trembling legs.

"You are still injured," she heard him say, and she could feel the deep rumble of his voice slide over her even as the movement of his lips dragged her gaze from his eyes to his mouth.

His mouth...

A thumb gently traced the bruise around her eye.

O - kay... Kagome thought distantly through the strange haze. This is... something. Very definitely something. Um.

Thinking was hard.

The pressure of his hands increased slightly; he was pulling her in, towards him, and Kagome felt her legs move sluggishly, stumbling forward -

The sound of rubble shifting beneath her feet reached her, jerking her out of her strange trance. Without thinking she took a step back and pulled away, her heart still pounding at the base of her throat.

"We should get out of here," she blurted, her voice coming out hoarse and breathless.

She watched as Sesshoumaru blinked, his hands still suspended between them. He seemed confused.

"It's just that, uh, we're in a shrine," she managed. "I broke quite a few written and unwritten laws to, uh, get you out. So we should go."

He still did not respond, so she just shrugged, helplessly, kicking herself for interrupting... well, whatever it was that he had been meaning to do. Apparently she was still the world's leading expert at screwing herself over. Miserably she looked away.

In the privacy of his head, Sesshoumaru was cursing surprisingly colorfully and hurriedly rewriting his script.

It pained him deeply. It had been a good script, painstakingly crafted over several centuries, lovingly revised and rearranged until it had been utterly perfected. She had already skipped over the first part by failing to leap into his arms immediately upon his release, but that hadn't been strictly necessary. What had been necessary was the part where he pulled her to him, she melted into his embrace, and together they would engage in one or more strenuous yet enjoyable activities. Then he would take a nap, wake up the next morning refreshed - maybe dabble in a little light conquering before lunch - and go from there.

But now that was all shot to hell and he was going to have to improvise. Dammit.

"All right," he said abruptly. "Let us go."

He reached out.

Kagome barely had time to raise her head in mild surprise. She almost didn't even see him move. One minute she was just standing there and the next she was being dragged out the door and down the moonlit steps of the shrine by her wrist. He hadn't even looked to see if anyone was there.

"Hey, wait - " she stuttered breathlessly, her tired feet tripping to keep up with his long strides. Her toe caught in one of the flagstones of the courtyard and she stumbled forward.

God! Four hundred years certainly hadn't made him more progressive; he still seemed to think he could manhandle her whenever the fancy struck him.

"Hey!" she cried, momentarily forgetting her potential legal perils should she be caught with a cantankerous demon in the middle of a vandalized shrine. Angrily she yanked her arm from his grasp. In front of her he skidded to an abrupt stop and cast an annoyed glance back at her over his shoulder.

"What?" he demanded.

"Keep your voice down!" she hissed. "And what the hell do you think you're doing? You don't even know where I live!"

His golden eyes glinted. "Very well," he said after a moment. "By all means, lead the way, Kagome."

"Fine!" she snapped. "This way!" Clenching her hands into fists Kagome stomped past him, acutely aware both of how exposed they were and how little she cared. She could almost feel him smirking at her behind her back as they made their way out into the Tokyo night.

It took less than five minutes to walk the half block to her flat. Kagome kept glancing behind her to see Sesshoumaru peering about him he trailed behind. He didn't seem particularly surprised, merely curious, though in typical Sesshoumaru fashion this curiosity lasted a whole of two seconds before he appeared to assimilate whatever anomaly he was observing and subsequently lost interest. Around them the stillness of the early morning hours pressed in, belying the bustle that would probably begin in less than an hour. Kagome hurried on.

"This is it," she said at last, stopping in front of the lobby door; behind the glass the foyer was deserted as a tomb. She watched as Sesshoumaru looked up at the facade with mild disappointment.

"What's wrong?" she asked, feeling a familiar exasperation creep up her spine. She was definitely too tired to deal with this crap in a calm manner.

For a moment he didn't reply, then shook his head. "Oh," he said absently, "they make so much noise; I thought they would be more aesthetically pleasing than this."

Kagome felt her mouth twist. "So you were awake all that time?" she asked.

Sesshoumaru glanced down at her, an odd look on his face. "Yes, of course," he replied.

"Oh." Arg! "Uh... what was it like?"

He raised a brow. "Boring," he said. "What else would it be like?"

And you didn't... you know... go insane? she wanted to ask, but for some reason it seemed to be a ridiculous question to ask someone. Oh, by the way, are you bonkers? Just asking!

Wearily she shook her head, turned to the door, and opened it. Together they went inside and up the stairs.

When the door finally clicked into place behind her Kagome felt herself visibly sag. Closing her eyes, she leaned against it and tried to take calming breaths, wondering just how the hell she had ended up here.

One minute he was asleep, the next he was awake. One minute they were in the shrine with four hundred years between them, and the next they were bickering as if only four minutes had passed. It seemed like there should have been more to it than this, and yet here she was... and there he was... behind her...

Warily she turned and peeked at him from the corner of her eye.

She could not see him very well, here in the darkest hours of the morning, but only his features were blurred; his figure stood out against the gloom, pale and luminous and old. He was standing very still; the dim light that filtered in through the windows cast most of his face in shadow, but she could still see the eerie gleam of his golden eyes staring intently at her. Inhuman. Predatory.

A little shiver, like an icy feather trailing over her skin, brushed up her spine, but there was no fear in it. Her fingers twitched against the wood of the door, and, low in her belly, something tightened in unknown anticipation.

"Let me see your injuries."

The sudden rumble of his voice in the silence reverberated through her head, and Kagome found herself stepping towards him without pausing to reconsider.

Good. She didn't want to reconsider.

Dreamily, she moved forward.

His hands floated through the darkness to meet her, alighting on either side of her face and sending a heady wave of heat straight through the center of her brain.

"Um - " Kagome stammered, mouth running on automatic as he loomed over her, "let me turn on a light so you can see better - "


"But - "

A warm, smooth thumb traced over her lip, catching softly on the broken skin there. A tiny stab of pain sparked against the fog in her head.

"Oh," she breathed. Instinctively her tongue flickered against the wound to soothe it, brushed over his skin. Over the pounding of her heart, she heard his sharp intake of air, saw his golden eyes flicker.

Then his hands were sliding down her shoulders, fingertips trailing down the tender backs of her arms before sweeping forward and in to rest against her ribs, just beneath her breasts.

Don't, she thought, plaintive and desperate.

Don't stop there.

With painstaking care, he began to explore.

She couldn't seem to catch her breath, couldn't seem to form a coherent thought; somewhere, far away from here, outside her mind, all her doubts gathered, calling to be let in, calling for her to be sensible, but their voices were soft and muffled and she didn't care. She was tired, and he was warm, and her body ached -

Kagome swallowed hard.


The painfully gentle probing of his fingers eased, hovered tantalizingly. She wanted to take his hands in hers, guide them over her body, up over the soft swell of her breasts, down and under to the shadowed spaces where she burned.

In the hollow of her chest, Kagome felt the dark and hungry thunder of her heart.

She should have been frightened by the intensity of it, should have run far away, but she didn't want to; there was no reason to look behind her any more. There was no reason to be afraid. But she didn't want to presume, either.

She had to know.

Nervously, she licked her lips.

"What - " she said, breathlessly, " - what are you doing?"

The question dropped into the darkness between them, falling like lead to the ground. The air was thick with the din of silence, choked with things unsaid, and she wanted to snap the tension, wanted to abandon all pretense, but something held her back. It was not her pretense that needed to be shed.

I would have waited for you, she thought distantly. I would have waited for the rest of your life.

Kagome held her breath and waited, listening to the hammering of her heart in her head.

Sesshoumaru struggled with his reticent brain to decipher her meaning - he could feel the heat of her rolling off her body in waves, carrying the heady scent that obliterated all other thoughts from his mind.

He had been... checking for injuries. Even as they made their way without haste here to this place saturated with her scent, she had held her body stiffly, as though her very skin hurt her.

It was terrifying how fragile she was, how easily hurt. How quickly she could die. He'd almost forgotten that she could die in the time it took to fall down a mountainside, the time it took to shoot an arrow, the time it took to be sealed away. All it took for her to be lost forever was the space of a breath.

It only took a moment to die.

Beneath his aching fingers, he could feel the rise and fall of her ribs as she panted from his touch. Her question still hung in the air.

Slowly, Sesshoumaru blinked.

"I am - " he began -

- then stopped, startled.

To his own ears his voice was rough, his breathing ragged; he could hear himself coming undone, unraveling to weave himself around her, through her, binding himself to this mortal creature.

And he thought, There is still time to walk away.

His brain went cold -

- he was so tired, and the woman in front of him didn't bring him new life, didn't even make him forget how tired he really was, but here, now, with Kagome, all his tattered thoughts and all his melancholy weariness were suddenly not so staggering, were just a part of him -

- and then the chill was gone, taking the echo of habit with it.

"Sesshoumaru?" he heard her whisper tremulously.

And then he thought: One day she will never speak again.

She could die in a moment, and it would leave him tired and worn, hollow through and through. but, really, in the end, that was okay.

Because surely, if it was possible to die in a moment, then surely, surely it was possible to live in one as well.

Deliberately, breathlessly, he met her gaze. Lifted his hands to her face, wove his fingers into her hair, pulled her to him.

He heard her gasp as she tumbled in to rest against him, her eyes going wide at his boldness, and it was so sweetly innocent that he felt the corners of his lips curve into a tiny smile.

Slowly, he leaned in, and in the cacophonous quiet, he murmured:

"I am weary of wasting your time."

Then Sesshoumaru bent his face to hers. Pressed burning lips to burning lips -

- and all his sadness, his weariness, his weakness shrank before her, skittered away like shadows melting before the rising sun -

- and now that she was standing in the moment she had hoped for, now that they had crossed that line into this unexplored country, Kagome thought she would die.

It was so overwhelming, so immediate and intimate that it couldn't last, there was no way her body could withstand it, and there was nothing in the universe except his mouth on hers, hot and soft and so, so urgent.

She could read his intent in the delicious pressure of his mouth. She knew what he wanted, what he needed, and just the barest thought of his naked body on hers sent a blazing heat rocketing through her, turning her bones to glass.

Unable to help herself, Kagome made a soft, pleading noise, reached up, twined her arms around him, his cool, silky hair running through her fingers like water. Her skin was too tight, electrified by the feel of his fingers against her face, and she wanted more.

And there was nothing to hold them back any longer.

She let her tongue escape to flicker against his mouth, reveling in the dark, clean taste of him as his lips parted and he tangled his tongue with hers.

Crowded, clash and slip and slide, the demanding circle of his arms... every part of him spoke to her of the predator that slept behind his eyes - she could feel the strength in his hands, the wild, electric energy of his youki, could feel the sharp, dangerous points of his fangs brush lightly over her tongue as she explored his mouth. He was so alien, so perilous that a dark thrill coursed up her spine, but there was no fear at all, only the need for him that blazed inside her.

His hands were everywhere, down her back, splayed over her ribs, brushing up her stomach, leaving little furrows of flame branded into her flesh as he kissed her. Eagerly her fingers abandoned his hair, smoothed their way down to his chest until she felt the thick, reinforced edge of his kimono, double folded silk sliding beneath her hands, and then she was working her way downwards, feeling the gentle, rounded hem curve down and under, and then her fingertips met the thinner under-kimono.

And then, just a little further, and she was brushing against bare skin.

She felt his breath catch in his throat, gasping against her lips.

He was warm, too warm, too good to be real. Almost of their own volition her boldly shaking hands slipped over him, the firm, smooth muscle of his chest, snaking between his skin and his clothes, and then she shoved the fabric from his shoulders, exposing his bare chest to her curious touch.

With an agonized groan, he broke away from her. The loss of him was almost painful, and she whimpered in protest.

Don't leave - don't leave me here like this -

But then he was clumsily shrugging out of his kimono, leaving it to hang messily about his waist, and reached for her again. Kagome remembered the first time she had seen him like this, so many years in the past, remembered how badly she had wanted to touch him even then - and now she could. Wonderingly she reached out, pressed her hands to his scalding skin, and he felt so smooth and strong that she wanted nothing more than to pull him around her, live forever cradled in his body.

Then she felt a low rumble race through his chest, and he was back, holding her close, his hands pulling her hips to his in primal urgency, his mouth working feverishly down her body. Kagome moaned.

Sesshoumaru felt himself falling - her kiss had stripped him of the centuries, had shredded his self control, and now, inside their conflagration, the strange, shadowy, wild place inside of him seemed to uncoil, stretching its wings to the sky.

He was starving for her - hungrily he opened his mouth, tried to devour her as he moved over her jaw, down to her throat, and through the searing fog he heard her cry out as she tipped her head, exposing herself to him, begging for more. Her hands were trembling against his arms as she held him closer, urged him to take what he wanted, and she tasted good, like nothing he could describe - he held her fast to him as he rasped his tongue over the tender line of flesh that trailed from her ear to her shoulder, relishing the flavor of her as she moaned plaintively and pressed in closer.

Her soft belly moved tantalizingly over his hardened length.

A strangled noise escaped him as Sesshoumaru felt himself sway alarmingly beneath the wave of heat that threatened to pull him under, but even through the dizzying desire he could feel her little hands - her scarred, calloused warrior's hands - working away at his obi as she rubbed herself against him.

Feverishly he scraped his fangs over her throat. Over the pounding of his heart, he heard her call his name.

Then she was stepping back, moving somewhere past where they stood, her hands still tugging at his hakama. Her dark eyes beckoned him.

"This way," Kagome said, her voice rich and throaty with arousal. "My bedroom."

Sesshoumaru found this suggestion acceptable.

She turned from him and he followed as she lead the way, never taking his eyes from her form - it was as though someone had stripped away a veil, allowing him to see her clearly for the first time, and everything about her called out to the wildness inside him. No longer tentative, no longer perhaps, but yes and please and -

Though she was not looking behind her, Kagome could still feel his gaze as she tugged him towards her room; each imagined glance was like a physical caress, driving her higher and higher. Between her legs, in the aching tips of her breasts, the pressure mounted, begging for release.

She should have been embarrassed at her boldness, should have thought twice about it, but in the pit of her stomach something rebelled, quashed all maidenly qualms, and she was sick of shrinking away from what she wanted. Maybe tomorrow she would blush madly, maybe tomorrow she would have second thoughts, but none of that mattered right now.

Right now, she had to have him. She needed him, and something in the way he touched her, something in the way he looked at her made her think that maybe, just maybe, he needed her, too.

Hyperaware of the sensations around her - the plush carpet giving way beneath her bare feet, the dim light of the streetlamps floating in through the window, the harsh, labored sound of breathing in the early morning silence - Kagome swallowed hard and stepped into her room, each light footfall carrying her closer and closer to the softness of the bed.

She was just two steps away from her goal when his arms were suddenly wrapping around her, pulling her back, tucking her into his body as his hands slipped beneath her shirt and his mouth found her ear. The tip of his tongue traced the winding folds as his ragged breath curled inside her head.

Kagome shuddered as the world rippled around her. Knees buckling, she fell back against him, the hot, bare skin of his chest scorching her through the clothing she still wore - blindly, she reached up, her fingers finding his hair again, and there - there - below the small of her back, something hard nudged her intimately.

Her mouth went dry.

In the vaguely functioning part of his brain that was not completely fixated on the woman in his arms, Sesshoumaru was beginning to feel slightly dissatisfied by the garment situation. He had not, admittedly, had sex in a very, very long time, but he did seem to vaguely recall that there were generally fewer clothes involved than the amount currently employed, and he was beginning to get impatient. Kagome seemed to think so, too - the moment his fingertips brushed over her soft stomach she sighed sweetly and rubbed against him in the most delicious, dizzying way.

Breathlessly he smoothed his way upwards, and as his fingers gently traced along the fine scars left behind by old battles, along the still-fresh wounds inflicted by the villagers when they had torn her away from him, he felt a strange, irrational surge of pride.

He turned her in his arms, ran his teeth along her earlobe, tugged at the hem of her shirt.

"Let me see," he murmured hoarsely, his lips brushing over her ear as she trembled in his embrace.

"Yes," he heard her whisper, and then she was peeling the soft, dark material from her skin, lifting it over her head, tossing it to the floor.

The sharp scent of her nervous need filled his head. Sesshoumaru sank to his knees before her.

Wrapping an arm around her, he spread his hand against her back, holding her in place as her trembling fingers found his shoulders. With agonizing care, he let his mouth trail over the angry lines imprinted across her abdomen, traced the memories of her courage with his tongue, and then his other hand found her still-clothed breast.

Suddenly she was quaking and helpless, almost unable to stand, her scarred little fingertips weaving their way through his hair, her soft cries filling his head as his fingers gently closed over her. His tongue wandered, dipping down into her navel as his other hand slid down over her rounded hips, traced down and in to the darkness between her legs.

Slowly, deliberately, he pressed one long finger against her.

She whimpered and squirmed, pushed back, tried to ride his hand with rocking hips.

"Sesshoumaru - "

He could hear the pounding of her heart over his own.

" - please."

In one breathless moment Kagome felt the world tip and tumble, and then against her back she felt the mattress give way, creaking gently as Sesshoumaru settled himself over her, and oh, god, the feel of his weight bearing down on her sent white-hot blades of pleasure through her body.

One hard, muscled thigh insinuated itself between her legs as she raked her fingernails over his chest. To her delight he made a strange noise in his throat, his hips rocking instinctively, pressing his burning erection into her thigh, and she gasped at the sensation, at the knowledge of what was going to happen, of what she was doing and who she was doing it with.

The ache at the cleft of her legs intensified - she was empty, so empty - restless, needy, she shifted against him, renewed her battle with his obi as his breath trailed ragged edges over her throat. A claw traced over her skin, following the line of her collarbone, the swell of her breast before dipping beneath the lace of her bra.

The room hitched when he slipped the strap from her shoulder and peeled the lace away, exposing her to the cool air, and when he finally, finally sucked one aching tip into his mouth, Kagome sobbed with pleasure. The feel of his tongue rasping over her nipple made her back arch as she moaned, and he took the opportunity to slide his arms beneath her, lifting her up, tugging her legs around his waist as he rocked back onto his knees, and then that searing length was pressed against her.

Her neck went limp as she threw her head back and rubbed herself over him, trying to ease the nearly painful ache he inspired in her. She could feel the tug of his mouth all the way down to her curling toes.

"Please," she gasped, barely even aware of her own voice. "Please. More."

Kagome heard the sudden rumble deep in his chest - a growl so low that she could feel it rolling through her, shaking her heart - and then he released her breast and dragged his fangs over her collarbone as he abandoned all pretense of civility by neatly slicing through the back of her bra. His hot, greedy fingers pulled it down her arms, and then she was sliding it off, tossing it to the floor as he spread one large hand against her back and pressed her to him, rubbing her breasts over his thrumming skin.

This was - she wanted -

It was so hard to think, so hard to know what he would like and what he wouldn't, but his hands on her were maddening, and she wanted him to be as crazy for her as she was for him.

Shyly, Kagome nuzzled his throat.

Against her back, on the swell of her hip, she felt his claws twitch convulsively, leaving little tiny pinpricks behind. Encouraged, she leaned in, boldly brushed her mouth against his hammering pulse, then parted her lips and suckled lightly, letting her tongue flicker against him.

She felt rather than heard his needy moan against her mouth, and then he was curling around her, pressing harder into the sweltering darkness between her thighs. The world blurred.

Sesshoumaru felt drugged as he shuffled off the last tatters of his self-control, half-wild with the strength of his want. He could smell her, could smell the slickness that gathered for him, rich and heady and intoxicating, and he was so hard it burned.

Unceremoniously he tipped her onto her back and knelt between her legs, the strange, stiff fabric of her clothes rough against his hands as he ran his fingers over the strange fastenings that kept her from him. Growling in frustration, he clicked his claws against the metal.

Her hand fell over his. He glanced up.

In the dim, silvery light she so looked incredible - flush and helpless, her soft lips parted as her breathing became more and more labored, her long dark hair spread over the soft, cool bedding - that he felt himself go still, unable to comprehend just how he had managed to reach this point, nor how it could feel so good to be here.

Fortunately Kagome seemed to have no such problems; instead she gave him a soft, nervous smile, and then slowly began to undo the fastenings of her clothing.

His breath caught as she slowly worked her hips free of the constraining cloth, taking her undergarments with it, and then with a slight contortion and one quick tug she was free.

Her intoxicating scent hit him; with something akin to reverence he slid his hands up her strong legs, up and up, towards the place that called out for his attention. Quite by accident, his fingers caught on the scar left by her training, the one that had scared him so badly, and a fierce possessive need welled up below his heart, buoying it into his throat.

He reached up, let the back of one finger glide over her slick, waiting flesh as he watched her face, trying to get a feel for what she wanted of him.

Beneath his hand she groaned softly and pressed forward before suddenly pulling herself up, her hands finding his obi, loosening it further, what she wanted writ clear on her face. Overwhelmed, he let her attack his clothing, pulling and tugging until a sweet noise of triumph escaped her as it, too, was tossed to the floor, and she peeled away the front panel of his hakama, parted his kimono, exposing him to her curious eyes.

He thought he was going to explode. Desperately he reached out, brought her face to his for another starving kiss, and then he felt her calloused hands close around his quivering erection.

"Kagome," he whispered hoarsely, letting his need trip from his tongue to hers as she moaned into his mouth and gave him one experimental, mind-blowing stroke.

In one crowded moment, Kagome found herself on her back again as Sesshoumaru hastily divested himself of the last of his clothing, and then he was looming over her, his cool, beautiful hair - his stupid, stupid pretty hair - cascading over his body to pool against her hot skin. For a long second, he simply looked down at her, his golden eyes gleaming brightly, his heaving chest brushing over hers with each labored breath. His elbows dug into the mattress on either side of her, his body trembling -

- and the look on his face was so desperately tender, so lost and wanting, that she didn't even notice that her hands had stayed around him until he closed his eyes and gave one slow, luxurious thrust, his satiny skin sliding easily through her fingers. The soft, damp head of his erection brushed over her slick folds in an electrifying caress.

The world fluttered, flickered in and out, her eyes rolling back as she arched upwards.

"Ready?" she heard him murmur over the roar of blood in her ears, and Kagome looked up at him, opened her mouth to tell him yes, yes, god yes, she was ready, should have been ready a long time ago, but even as the words climbed up her throat, she stiffened at the sight of him -

- the stripes on his face were seeping over his skin in jagged lines, his bared teeth just a little sharper than normal, and he looked so untouchable, so strangely luminous in the dim light -

- and all of a sudden, Kagome was shocked to remember that he was a beautiful creature.

Of course, she had always known, but she hadn't thought of him that way in a long while. He no longer really existed in her head as an image; instead, he was a landscape, fashioned of stories, full of shadowed secrets that only she knew, and she was suddenly awestruck by the strange disconnect between the beautiful demon hovering over her and the man she knew lived behind those eerie, otherworldly eyes.

She wanted him so badly, but could not speak -

The moment dragged out, punctuated only by the sound of his strained breathing, by the sound of her hungry heart.

Then he blinked, and the moment snapped out of existence as lowered his head, let his tongue flick over her throat, let his breath curl hotly in her ear, and whispered urgently: "You may admire me later, Kagome. Right now, tell me if you are ready."

And Kagome smiled.

This was not a dream. He was real, he was here, here, and he was so... so him, so not what she would have chosen. He was arrogant and proud, cold, rude, self-centered, and he wasn't even particularly good or kind, and when he was it was usually by accident, but somehow none of that really seemed like a such bad thing after all.

Funny how it worked out like that.

Kagome reached for him, one arm twining around his neck, the other hand moving between her thighs to guide him to her. She hooked her legs around his waist, nudged his hips with hers, the empty ache inside her raging for release.

She heard him groan with pleasure as he lowered himself, burying his face in her hair and inhaling her scent as she whimpered plaintively. The head of his erection nestled firmly against her -

- and then he was pressing into her with an agonizing slowness, filling the emptiness with himself.

Kagome felt the world go blank -

- and then there was nothing but his trembling body -

- nothing but the long, languorous spread of him as he moved forward -

- nothing but his tattered breath dragging over her -

- nothing but the painful pleasure as her body bloomed before him -

- opened wide and invited him in -

- and then he was inside her, filling her completely, and there was nothing between them any longer, no separation, no past, no future, no thought - just... this.

It was like nothing she had ever known. Not completion, not a joining of two parts to make the whole, not an end or a beginning or anything in between, but simply -

- the way it truly was.

...and he had been a part of her, had known her so intimately, had dwelled in her heart for so long now that this was just -

- just...

The world went quiet with epiphany.

And then Kagome was reveling in revelation, drowning in the feel of him against her, the in feel of him inside her, in his sweat-slick skin, in his pleasure-parted lips, in his scorching body, in all the tiny ecstasies of him that threatened to consume everything that was her -

This is true, she thought.

This is true.

Above her, Sesshoumaru struggled for air. She felt so good, so incredibly good, just as slick and snug as he knew she would be, and he was almost afraid to move for fear that the intensity of her, of all of this, would grab his heart and wring it dry. Tightly, he shut his eyes.

Then, to his utter shock, she moved under him, drawing back just a little before pressing forward again, instinctually seeking the pleasure she knew he could give her, and it was too much, too much.

With a strangled groan, Sesshoumaru pulled out, his brain going white and fuzzy at the edges, and then thrust forward again, gasping at the soft, slick, searing heat of her, at the way she parted before him, at the way her body gripped his -

Beneath him, Kagome cried out and wiggled in discomfort and pleasure at the invasion. He clenched his teeth, feeling every move she made ripple around him, and tried to hold himself perfectly still. For a long moment his body pulled taut with the effort of it, of not hurting her, of staying here with her as long as possible.

Then he heard her whimper, felt her fingers thread their way through his hair, dragging shivers behind them.

"I'm sorry! ...please, don't stop," she whispered, her voice strange and desperate, her breath hot as it ghosted over his ear, her whole body arching like a bow as she slid against him. "I'm sorry I'm not... Please, I'm not scared. Don't stop."

He wanted to tell her that it was okay, that this was all he wanted, was what he had chosen, that he would have waited a thousand years, ten thousand years just for this, don't be sorry, don't be sorry, but he couldn't find breath enough for speech, and Sesshoumaru could feel all her heartbreaking trust, all the beautiful briefness of the moment wind around him and bind them together, and there was no more fear, just her, just now -

His lips found hers in the darkness, kissed her softly. Then, slowly, he rocked his hips against her.

"Yes," she hissed against his mouth, and then she was straining with him in a helpless rhythm, each urgent undulation begging him to ease the pain of her desire.

Panting, he angled himself against her, knowing that he wouldn't be able to hold out for long, needing her to come, and then he felt himself burn over just the right spot inside her and she cried out, a pleading, shuddering sound, and closed around him.

If he could have, he would have smiled.

She was perfect, pressed into the mattress with his weight; her legs were locked high around his waist, her hands raking hungrily over his body, along his back, over his hips, down his stomach as though she could taste him in her fingertips. Sesshoumaru could hear her gasp in revelation with every thrust.

"Oh," she whispered rhythmically. "Oh, oh, oh - "

Kagome was dying - this was too much, was so much more than anything she had ever known, and each time he rocked against her she blazed, bright and dark, toes curling, pressure mounting. Her hands tangled in his hair, sliding against his sweat-slick back. Soft moans escaped, sounds she had never thought she would make, and he answered her with his own heavy breath and low growls, moving deep within her, and she couldn't take it, wanted it to never end, wanted to crawl inside him - desperately she clung to him, her legs hooked over his hips, her teeth sinking into his shoulder, his clean, salty taste filling her head. She heard him groan her name, and the world was drawing taut, humming, tighter and tighter, and it was going to break, she was going to break -


- and the world snapped, washed over her, sent her reeling, tumbling over and over into the darkness -

Her legs tightened, drawing him in, so deep he thought he would be lost inside her forever, and then the ruthless ripple of her body reached through him and pulled -

- and then his hips jerked forward beneath the wave of pleasure so intense it was almost pain, thrusting, violent, bestial, as she drew him out of himself and he poured into her...

Slowly the world faded back into focus.

Above her Sesshoumaru collapsed, barely keeping his weight from her as he rolled to the side, still clasped inside.

Kagome stretched languorously, twining her arms around him as he nuzzled her cheek and slowly slid out, sending one last zing of pleasure through her veins. Her legs were trembling, her body still sparking with the aftershocks, but there was nothing in her except satisfaction and a strange, fierce tenderness.

"Mmmm," she sighed.

His lips brushed over her brow, and immediately she strained upwards caught him in a long, soft kiss.

"Mm," she said again, breaking away and drawing back a little to look at him. She could feel the collected traces of them sliding down her thighs, and it was probably going to ruin her bedspread, but she couldn't bring herself to care. Perfectly and utterly contented with the world, Kagome burrowed into his arms and listened to the soothing sound of his breathing returning to normal.

"That was good," she murmured sleepily as he brushed her damp locks from her neck.

His sharp little laugh buzzed against her nose. "You expected me to be bad?" he asked softly. She could the stirring of his breath in her hair.

Kagome smiled into his skin, already drowsing. "No," she mumbled, "I expected you to be great. For god's sake, just take the compliment already..."

He watched her fall asleep before closing his own eyes.

And in his mind, as he drifted off, Sesshoumaru gently folded the moment around them and lived there forever.

Tales from the House of the Moon

A InuYasha Story
by Resmiranda

Part 38 of 42

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