Continuing Tales

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 30 of 60

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Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anyone else expects of you. Never excuse yourself.
~Henry Ward Beecher

Sesshomaru sat behind his desk and methodically arranged, then rearranged stacks of paper into neat piles, ignoring the pair sitting nervously across from him. The silence in the room was formidable.

Hiraiku squirmed uncomfortably as he watched Sesshomaru obsess over the various stacks. Every minute that passed only made his stomach knot up more. He was ashamed at his loss of control and for allowing Hoshi to goad him into a fight. It was no secret that she was a longtime ally of the Inu Youkai family and that her role as Sesshomaru's housekeeper was one of many. He had grown up hearing rumors of the peculiar sorceress with an alliance to the House of the Moon and the mysterious powers she could wield. There were even whispers among the staff that she was responsible for the recent destruction in the garden, which looked more like Sesshomaru's handiwork than a small woman, albeit a mysterious one.

In all honesty, Hiraiku would have to admit that he had always felt threatened by the woman. She came into the house, unknown to everyone with an air of self-important nobility that instantly grated against his humble modesty. She was presented as the housekeeper, keeping both the castle and staff in line and nothing more. After a few months, it had become apparent that Sesshomaru held her in high esteem, valuing her beyond a mere housekeeper. Of course there were also rumors among some of the staff that she and Sesshomaru maintained a much more personal relationship. However those who entertained such rumors had the good sense to keep their speculation behind closed doors.

Hiraiku resented this seemingly close relationship and the secrecy surrounding the woman. After all, he was the one that had fought side by side with Sesshomaru as they strived to regain control of the Western Lands. His bravery and loyalty had gained Sesshomaru's respect and subsequent promotion to head the Western Land's Elite Guard. This was a responsibility Hiraiku had taken great pride and honor in earning.

It was for this reason that Hoshi's comments in the dojo had crawled under his skin and burned, shaking the control he always battled to maintain in her presence. Her questioning attitude and lack of respect broke the inner wall he had carefully erected. Years of resentment rose up and consumed the fragile hold on his control, suddenly leaving no other in the room but the two of them. Decades of fierce training and war overtook his mind, blinding him to all else. One minute he was attacking the vicious little hellcat, the next he was laying on the floor watching Hoshi raise her deadly blade. The cold look in her eyes and frighteningly strong attack shook him to the core.

As he quickly made peace with his life, a streak of black materialized in front of him as if by magic.

The little miko, mortal and fragile, grabbed the blade in her bare hand and pushed it away, not allowing the final blow to be delivered. Her courage was astounding. He would never understand what motivated her to save someone at such personal risk. Nor would he understand why she, a miko, would step in front of a blade destined for a youkai. The maiden's courage didn't falter, even after Hoshi, who at this point seemed caught up in bloodlust, threw her to the ground and blasted everyone in the room with a surge of power that would knock even the most powerful youkai to their knees. Seeing her tiny body being tossed like a rag doll all because she had tried to stop Hoshi's fierce blade was burned into his memory. He couldn't take his eyes off her, even after Sesshomaru entered the dojo. The cold sadness that radiated from her didn't make sense as a single tear slipped down her cheek and dripped onto the smooth wood next to her hand. Hiraiku knew next to nothing about this small human and yet her sorrowful look had drawn a reaction from somewhere deep inside that was surprising.

Hiraiku glanced quickly to his left at Hoshi who sat calmly beside him. She had yet to acknowledge him even after leaving the dojo but instead seemed deep in thought. With a blank expression she watched Sesshomaru; her luminous eyes followed his hands intently as they gracefully moved the paper around his desk.

The silence stretched while Sesshomaru finished organizing the piles in front of him. Pulling his hands back, he slowly tucked them into the long sleeves of his kimono.

Hiraiku looked sideways as Hoshi took a deep breath and seemed to relax slightly.

Sesshomaru's gravelly voice shattered the bitter stillness. "Someone better explain to me how the two of you came to blows in my dojo," he paused for a moment and pinned both of them with a steely glare, "and the reason better not make me angry."

Hoshi bit back a grin at his words.

"I lost my temper my lord. I have no excuse other than I was goaded into foolishness. I accept any punishment you feel necessary." Hoshi's words were smooth and sincere as she lowered her head in a show of respect.


"Yes Sesshomaru-sama. I have no excuse and extend my deepest apologies," he too sunk into a formal bow and waited. He didn't know what to expect but decided to follow Hoshi's lead since she somehow seemed to know what was going on.

"I expect you to never engage in such reckless and imbecilic behavior again. There are members in this house that need protection and I will not tolerate personal agendas taking precedence over assigned duties."

Hiraiku and Hoshi rose. Sesshomaru looked them in the eye as they each answered, "Yes my Lord."

"You are excused Hiraiku," Sesshomaru closed his eyes and waited as the bear youkai lumbered out of the room to attend his wounds.

Hoshi remained, her calm expression never wavering but inside she braced herself. The repressed anger that Sesshomaru was feeling would finally make an appearance. The moments spent organizing the objects on his desk were purely to keep control and from physically harming either one of them. Hoshi had known Sesshomaru since his birth and had learned long ago that his favorite coping mechanism was to create order when on the brink of losing control. The act of methodically creating order out of chaos brought back his focus and ordered his own thoughts into perspective.

He pinned her with a golden glare.

"What were you thinking?" his voice rumbled an octave deeper than a moment before.

"I let Hiraiku get under my skin and I acted on impulse. I can hardly believe my own foolishness."

"After what happened the other night, I cannot believe you would let yourself be so reckless. You had your blade pointed at her chest. You threw her to the floor Hoshi!"

"Yes. I don't know what came over me. You can believe me when I tell you I would never do anything to harm her. She holds too great of value."

Hoshi's voice cut off quickly and they both stared cautiously at each other. Hoshi silently berated herself for revealing such interest in the girl.

"Value? Is there something you have been meaning to tell me Hoshi?" Sesshomaru narrowed his eyes and leaned forward slightly.

"Of course not my Lord. I am only making an observation based on personal opinion." She flashed him a dazzling grin.

"Hmm," he grumbled as he continued to stare. "Why do I never believe a word you say sorceress?"

"The same reasons as your father, Yama." She smiled fondly at the young lord who so resembled his father.

Sesshomaru leaned back against the wall and took a deep breath.

"Your riddles are infuriating."

Hoshi flashed him another brilliant smile and bowed low before rising to her feet.

"With your permission, I would like to go and check on Kagome. I have some apologies to make and ensure that I did not do any lasting damage." She didn't even wait for an answer as she glided toward the door.

"I should keep you away from her for a while. It would serve you right to be kept from this bizarre fascination you seem to have with her." He added, trying to provoke her a bit before she retreated.

She didn't even pause as she cheerfully answered over her shoulder. "If you wish. Of course that would require you to stay the night in her room and comfort her after her nightmares every evening."

She finally snuck a glance over her shoulder as she slid the door shut. Sesshomaru was looking straight ahead, a slight frown on his face.

Hoshi smiled all the way to Rin's room.

Red eyes gleamed from the shadows outside Rin's window. The miko and girl were playing a game and laughing, heedless of the lurking danger only a few feet away.

Jagged teeth gleamed in the shadows, still recollecting the events in the dojo only a short time ago. The miko's reckless actions while trying to protect the Captain of the Guard were an added bonus. It was the perfect key to Sesshomaru's ultimate destruction. Her impetuous nature and human compassion were weaknesses that could be easily exploited.

Hoshi's voice sounded through the glass panels and the creature quickly slipped away, falling deeper into the darkness.

"Look Kagome-chan, this is Jaken in a girl's kimono!" Rin's sparkling laughter lit the room up like the sun as she held a rather well executed drawing of the little toad youkai in a pink kimono with cherry blossoms behind one pointed ear.

Kagome held her stomach and laughed until tears streamed down and her cheeks hurt. When she finally caught her breath, she sat back up and grabbed one of her own.

"I drew him as a koi fish," she choked out as both rolled back onto the floor and laughed again.

Hoshi had been quietly observing the pair for several minutes before finally coming forward to scoop the drawings from the floor and shuffled through them. She held back a smile that tugged at her lips.

"It looks like you are both very gifted artists. These are all rather good." Hoshi held back her laughter until she got to the last drawing of Jaken as the koi fish. Mirth bubbled up in her chest as she stared at the little toad. His bulbous lips and stubby flippers grasped at Sesshomaru's Mokomoko desperately. Hoshi chuckled as the scene played out in her head, Jaken's high pitched squeal piercing the air as his slippery fins tried to hold on for dear life.

Kagome quieted down and sat up, folding her hands in her lap demurely.

Hoshi sat in a chair in the corner and put the drawings aside. She looked over at the now quiet woman.

Kagome too looked up and met Hoshi's gaze. She could see the concern and sadness etched into the usually immaculate housekeeper's features. The nervousness disappeared as she realized that the incident in the dojo was obviously an accident. Kagome stood and walked toward the woman that had become a friend.

She placed a hand on Hoshi's arm, looking her directly in the eye.

"I am fine Hoshi-sama," she murmured quietly.

Hoshi held her gaze a moment and took a deep breath. "Shall we take a walk Kagome-sama? I would think that you might prefer a bath after your training this morning."

Kagome smiled at the thought. "I would love a bath."

Hoshi stood and turned to Rin and Shizuka who were cleaning up. The little girl ran to Kagome and wrapped small arms around her waist.

"Do you have to go Kagome-chan?"

Kagome glanced up and caught the meaningful look that passed between Shizuka and Hoshi. Shizuka gently pulled Rin from Kagome and spoke quietly to the little girl.

"Rin, it is almost time to have tea with Sesshomaru-sama. I'm sure you don't want to miss that?" the fox demon's quiet voice was like music as she steadily pulled Rin along toward her bedroom.

Rin glanced back at Kagome with indecisive eyes, torn between staying with the young woman and wanting to see Sesshomaru.

"Don't worry Rin, we can do this again soon," Kagome called out to the little girl, hoping to reassure.

Rin smiled and waved goodbye before running off to change.

The two women stopped by Kagome's room for a fresh kimono before making their way to the bathhouse.

Just as they rounded the last corner, a large figure loomed massively in the doorway. Hoshi stiffened next to Kagome as she looked up and saw Hiraiku, his formal uniform once again spotless and giant ax strapped across his back.

Kagome smiled timidly as she backed up a step and craned her neck.

Hiraiku thought her movement was out of fear and stepped back as well. He dropped to a knee and bowed his head, ignoring Hoshi completely as he addressed the young woman before him.

"Miko-sama, I am in your debt for your actions in the dojo this morning," his deep voice was low and genuine.

Kagome could see that he was sincere. "Please, you are not in my debt. I'm sure you would have done the same for me." Kagome's voice was soft and nervous, sounding like the gentle breeze of summer to Hiraiku.

"Before today, I assure you I would not have. However, from today I will do whatever I must to help Sesshomaru-sama protect you, at least until my debt is repaid."

She wasn't sure which part of his declaration surprised her more, the part that he wouldn't have protected her before this point or that it was obvious to those in the house that Sesshomaru was committed to protecting her. Her reasons for being in the House of the Moon were never fully explained and to hear that she was here, at least in part, to be protected was somewhat surprising.

Kagome glanced at Hoshi, questions burning in her eyes. Hoshi peeked at her out of the corner of her eye as she bowed her head in silence. Honor demanded that she remain quiet during this exchange.

Kagome had no idea what to say to Sesshomaru's captain. She did however know that the thought of anyone in her debt was uncomfortable and went against her nature. "Hiraiku-sama, you owe me nothing. Please, just forget about it."

Hiraiku's eyes snapped back to the woman standing before him, stunned. She was an interesting creature, nervous and fearful as she stood in front of him now, yet had boldly stepped in front of a deadly blade only a few short hours ago to save his life.

"Are you asking me to deny my honor and shame my family?" his voice grew louder, not wanting to become angry with her but his confusion at her response made the battle difficult.

Kagome's eyes grew wide as she shrunk back from his raised voice. "No, no. I just don't want you to feel like you owe me anything. I would have stopped anyone from getting hurt." Her voice was childlike as she tried to placate the giant youkai.

Hiraiku watched carefully as her eyes dulled and she trembled with distress. The look on her face brought back the memory of seeing her in the dojo and the empty expression in her eyes.

He dropped his voice, trying the same tone he used with Rin. "Miko-sama, I take my honor seriously. The incident in the garden has proved that you have enemies, even in this house. The safety of this house is my first responsibility. Regardless of your wishes, I will honor my debt and keep my warrior's respect."

With that he bowed and continued down the hall. Hoshi slid her arm around Kagome and squeezed it lightly.

"Come. A warm bath will feel good."

She nodded, following Hoshi's gentle nudge as they began walking toward the bathhouse.

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 30 of 60

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