Continuing Tales

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 40 of 60

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We do not remember days; we remember moments. ~Cesare Pavese

He had every intention of staying away from her. That was why there were three guards stationed all around her room. If not, he would be far too interested in every sound and fluctuation in aura that came from the other side of the sturdy wall that separated them. Regardless, he caught himself twice at the door straining to hear or feel any possible danger.

Lightening cracked at the far end of the valley as a thunderstorm raced toward the castle. He stood on the balcony in the same spot they had shared only a few hours before, white knuckles gripped the rail in aggravation. How had she affected him so? It was unlike him to feel anything other than mild disinterest in females, especially humans.

His white hair whipped on the rising wind as the storm built in intensity. Leaving the rail, he strode by the cushion that Kagome had occupied only a short time before and grabbed the blanket that he had taken from his room to cover her. Tossing it back onto his bed, he ignored the enticing scent that clung to it and wafted through the air. His youki was agitated; crawling under his skin until he felt he would burst. Impatiently, he shrugged out of his kimono and tossed it into a corner, soon followed by his outer hakama. The close fitting summer hiyoku was sleeveless and snow white, making the magenta markings appear brighter against his pale skin. Sitting at the end of the bed, he placed his forearms on his knees and leaned forward. Long hair slid to cover his eyes and trail onto the floor to pool at his feet like silver ribbon. Sorting through the confusing thoughts, he railed at the traitorous part inside that seemed to be inherited from his father.

If Hoshi saw him this way, she'd be laughing at his perplexed state, delighting in his wayward thoughts. She had told him long ago that he resembled his father in ways that he was not ready to accept. Lightning illuminated the room and the crack of thunder that directly followed announced the storms imminent arrival. Sesshomaru slid the door to the balcony shut just before the rain unleashed in a torrent. Falling into a cushion, he leaned back against the wall that separated the miko's room from his. Closing his eyes, he tried to escape from the troubled thoughts into the world of dreams.

The storm raged for several hours, the duration seeming especially long to the taiyoukai. He dozed, only stirring when a particularly loud crash of thunder shook the roof of his home. A fissure of energy pulsed at his back and his mind came fully awake. He was on his feet and at the door that led between the rooms before he knew it. Sliding it partially open, he slipped through and scanned the room quickly. She was easy to find in the center of the large bed curled into a ball, her aura again distressed as it was all those evenings ago when he witnessed her nightmares for the first time.

He wanted to turn around and leave her, but a small whimper called to that traitorous part, pulling him to her side as if she had a string attached to his chest. Lightning flashed again and a glint of silver caught his attention. He noticed that she wore the bangles, obviously to keep her wildly fluctuating powers in check while she slept. More for the comfort of the youkai in the house than for her, he thought. Leaning down, he brushed the hair back from her drawn brow. She stilled under his hand and a sigh escaped her parted lips. Drawing back, he watched her slowly tense again as the nightmares continued to plague her without mercy. He wondered what it was about her past that caused such painful dreams to stalk her slumber. The amount of energy that she expended certainly explained her chronic fatigue during training and also her lack of a complete recovery since coming to the House of the Moon. Whatever it was that held her in iron fists prevented her from moving on. Instead, it lay in wait until she was vulnerable and pounced when she could do little to defend herself.

He sat on the edge of her bed and placed a hand back on her brow, the softness of her hair teasing the rough skin of his hands. She relaxed at once, this time rubbing her head ever so slightly against him as she snuggled into her pillow. With equal parts frustration and curiosity, he settled back and kept his eyes on the stormy deluge beyond the window.

Hours ticked by into the early morning and she had been sleeping quietly as long as he remained next to her. Without warning, his name seemed wrenched from her lips as she shook violently under his hand. He was pulled out of his wandering thoughts and back to the room his mother used to call her own. The storm still raged, though it seemed to be losing some momentum. Expecting to see her awake and wondering why he was in her room, he glanced down and found her still asleep. Her body was engulfed in a soft pink and he felt her energy rising to burn against his own. Drawing his hand back quickly, he worried about purification for the first time since she had entered his home. Observing her carefully, she seemed to be fighting an unseen force. Her hands came up to block her face, body flinching as if receiving physical blows. Reaching out to her tentatively, she shrunk back from his touch, scooting away from the contact. Puzzled, he stood and rounded the end of the bed to try and put her back in the middle, afraid she would fall onto the hard wood floor.

The moment his hands slipped under her back and knees, she unleashed a torrent of cries, her little fists pummeling his chest and neck as she fought against him like a wild animal. He dropped her back to the bed and pinned her arms, "Miko," he said quietly, trying to wake her without calling too much attention from the sensitive youkai ears in the castle. When she still fought him, he called again a little louder. "Miko, wake yourself."

She stilled for a moment and he thought the dream world had finally released her. Letting go of her arms, she remained still with her eyes closed tightly. In a flash, she was rolling away from him and crawling toward the other side of the bed. A sob escaped her lips as she called out his name again, this time her voice broke on the last syllable.

Completely confused, he did the only thing that seemed to make sense. Grabbing her ankle, he pulled her back across the bed and hauled her up by the shoulders to face him while she struggled violently. "Woman!" he nearly barked the words, only inches from her now tear streaked face.

Kagome froze. She had been fighting Naraku and the misty black element as they took turns beating her, only after killing her friends that tried to come to her rescue. She kept hearing Sesshomaru call to her, but she couldn't seem to find him among the black mist and slimy tentacles that grabbed at her body. She was just about to give up when she felt herself being lifted off the ground. Knowing that if she couldn't get away, she would be dead too. Sesshomaru was her only hope so she fought the steely grip, screaming his name into the darkness.

She heard Sesshomaru call to her again, his tone commanding. Blinking rapidly, she found herself staring into a pair of beautiful golden eyes as the dream finally released its tenacious hold. The injury in her shoulder ached from his strong grip, but she was transfixed by the look of confusion mixed with concern that shone from his gilded gaze. "Sesshomaru?"

He watched her carefully. The sleep faded from her eyes and with it the terror. She relaxed between his hands and he set her gently down in front of him. Her hair was in wild disarray, features flushed and clammy from her efforts to escape the nightmare. Jaw tight, his mind fought desperately to keep traitorous thoughts from going down the tempting road of identifying other activities that could cause her to look so deliciously tousled.

Lightning flashed, followed by thunder that rattled the walls and floor of the castle. Kagome started at the sound, her face finally turning to the windows. It was obvious that she had no idea the thunderstorm had been raging around her for hours.

"What were you dreaming about?" his deep tones blended perfectly with the thunder.

Keeping her eyes averted, she clenched her hands between them. When she didn't answer, he pushed the hair back from her face and off her shoulders. The gentle action surprised Kagome enough to finally turn and with considerable effort, she imparted a truth that she had yet to fully come to terms with. "I hate thunderstorms now."

The words confused him. "Without rain, there is no renewal. As a miko, I would think that you appreciate the natural order." He meant it as a distraction, but her tormented eyes held him mesmerized. Her frank honesty had always fascinated him, even when she had traveled with his half-brother.

Tears gathered in the corner of her perfect chocolate eyes but failed to spill over. "Renewal." Shaking her head slightly, she smiled half-heartedly, "If only the rain could wash away all the bad things that've happened."

He was about to ask what she meant but she withdrew from his grasp and crawled back to the middle of the bed. Sinking into the soft depths, she covered herself up to her chin.

Her need to be alone was easy to discern. Rising to his feet, he left her without another word. Checking on the guards at the two entrances to her room, he assured himself that she would be well protected. By the time the storm ended just before daybreak, all was quiet in the two largest rooms in the House of the Moon.

Hoshi walked along the stone corridors with tired feet, but a light heart. The pillars that lined the walkway rose up into the inky black sky, their sheer size awe inspiring. The entire castle was enormous and if she didn't know her way around, she would surely be lost for eternity. The white stone glowed softly, casting an ethereal light to help the sorceress find her way.

She paused at a doorway that was covered in sheer white fabric. Open flame sconces burned around the edges of the circular room, their fires danced brilliantly to cast the room in a warm glow. Brushing the soft fabric aside, she entered the room and saw the tall youkai standing on a large balcony through the doors on the opposite side of the room.

Her musical voice danced across the space between them, "It took you long enough my friend."

Hoshi grinned at the saucy tone and strode across the room to join her oldest friend on the balcony. They embraced, the years of separation falling away like water over a stone ledge.

"How long has it been?"

"Two hundred years at least," Hoshi answered, her face showing the distaste that she felt. The two women ambled along the balcony as the stars twinkled all around them. Hoshi's kimono was more animated than usual as the little crescent moons danced brilliantly.

After pacing along and catching up with small talk, they paused and the other woman waved her hand. A pair of soft cushions appeared and the two settled to look at the stars that surrounded them in magnificent splendor. Hoshi never tired of her visits to this castle in the sky.

"So…" her friend began slowly, hesitation only apparent to one that had known her for more than a millennium, "How is my son?"

Rin towed Kagome along the hallway. The girl's excited chatter ringing in her ears the entire way. Sesshomaru had given her a reprieve from training on account of her sore shoulder and sleepless night for which she was grateful. She had slept most of the morning and only dragged herself from bed when her growling stomach could no longer be ignored. A short time later Shizuka had brought Rin by at Sesshomaru's order to alleviate Kagome's boredom. To her chagrin, she found herself grateful to the taiyoukai for the second time that day.

"Come on Kagome-chan, we're going to be late!" Rin's worried voice seemed strained as she pulled Kagome along.

"I'm not sure this is such a good idea, Rin. I mean, isn't this something that only Sesshomaru and you enjoy together?" Kagome's stomach churned at seeing him again. She wasn't sure what she would say and was still embarrassed by having to be rescued first from a creepy entity that had twice attacked her, and then again not 24 hours later from her voracious nightmares.

"Oh no, I'm sure Sesshomaru-sama will be happy to have you join us. He asks me about you all the time. Today, he can just ask you himself."

Kagome stopped at her words, pulling the young girl to a jerking halt with her. "What do you mean he asks about me?" Kagome leaned down, her eyes wide with surprise, "What about?"

Rin shrugged nonchalantly and chewed her bottom lip, "Umm…well. Like…where you are from and why you speak and dress so oddly." Rin smiled at her, "You know, the things that I ask you about."

Kagome was stunned at his apparent interest in her. She was also a little miffed that he didn't bother to ask her these questions himself and instead seemed to be using a little girl as his personal spy. 'What a sneaky little shit!' she thought hotly. Rin took advantage of her silence and began dragging her down the hall again. Before Kagome had a chance to find some composure, she was hauled into the tea room. Blinking rapidly, she couldn't stop herself from staring into an equally surprised pair of golden eyes. To Kagome, he looked frustrated and a little angry.

"Uh…hi." Kagome wrung her hands as she stood awkwardly by the entrance. Suddenly aware of her attire, she regretted that she hadn't put on a kimono this morning and elected to wear a blue tank top and grey yoga pants because it had been easier to put on with the limitations of her sore shoulder and no Hoshi to help. Rin started to chatter as she began to prepare the tea, blissfully unaware of the turmoil she had just caused.

Sesshomaru recovered first and settled into his customary place at the head of the low table. Rin sat on the other side, diligently working on the tea preparation. She paused only once to ask why Kagome hadn't sat down.

"Well… I um…" she looked around nervously, "I don't want to intrude." She bowed quickly and turned to leave, "I'll just see you later Rin."

"Miko." His deep tone rumbled through her like a tiny earthquake. She stopped and turned back to face the pair. "Sit."

It only took a moment, but she registered the look of hopeful excitement on Rin's face and the glint of daring on his. Stiffly, she sat across from Rin and kept her eyes on the table until a cup was shoved under her nose. Blinking, she looked up with a blush, "Thanks."

"How is your shoulder?" he asked quietly.

"Oh! It feels much better, thanks." She smiled brightly as her hand unconsciously grazed her upper arm. His eyes followed and stayed on her bare shoulder for a moment before he seemed to drag them back.

"Good." He sipped his tea slowly, with a grace that made Kagome feel like an elephant. Setting the cup down without a sound, he added, "Your training can resume tomorrow."

"Aww man! I enjoyed sleeping in this morning," she moaned as her nose wrinkled.

"Considering the inability to save yourself yesterday, I would think you eager to continue your training."

Color rose in her cheeks as the words slipped out before she thought better. "That's a little unfair considering whatever that thing was has managed to escape you twice now."

The room was silent, even Rin seemed unsure of the response that the taiyoukai would have to such a statement. His jaw ticked at her terse words but not for the reasons she expected. He was angry with himself for allowing the enemy to escape even once. Of course, both times he had chosen her safety over killing the mysterious elemental that had attacked her, but it was contrary to his normal instinct. The bruise he could see on her shoulder only served as a reminder of her fragile body and the growing desire to make sure she stayed out of trouble.

Sesshomaru sighed, "I only meant that the sooner you can protect yourself from such attacks, the sooner you can be independent and not rely on your friends to save you in battle."

Kagome seemed to shrink at his words as her anger deflated like a balloon. She groaned and closed her eyes, "I'm sorry. You're right." Opening them slowly, she met his steady gaze. "Thank you for saving me yesterday," she tucked a stray hair behind her ear and added softly, "Again."

Her sincere gaze melted his icy demeanor. "Of course," he answered with a curt nod. Turning to Rin, he changed the direction of the conversation to give the miko, and more importantly himself, a break. "So Rin, tell me about your lessons."

Hoshi finished and waited for her friend's reaction. The silence that met her across the low table was not promising.

The other woman reached a striped hand out and tipped a pitcher of sake to refill her cup. With a deep breath, she drained and placed it back down with a soft thump. "So, you're telling me that my son is going to take this human miko as a mate?"

Hoshi clenched her hands in her lap at the sharp tone, "I know this isn't what you want to hear, but I know this is what Kami has decided."

She snorted as her golden eyes shot daggers. "Yes, well, you'll have to forgive me. Kami has not always proven to be fair, nor a good judge, in my experience."

Hoshi felt the sadness roll off her friend and not for the first time wished that she had been given a happier story. Not willing to let her play the victim completely, she added solemnly, "You're the one that decided to leave us."

The faraway look that bled into the golden orbs was familiar. "You know why I left," she said quietly.

"Yes, I know. We all miss him."

The women looked at each other, thoughts of the great Inu no Taisho playing through their minds fondly.

Hoshi shook herself out of the memories first. "You remember the promise I made all those years ago?" pulling the necklace from her kimono, she held it between her fingers. It glowed in the dim light like a flame.

A chuckle filtered over the dark sky and an equally bright stone was pulled from beneath the thick folds of her friend's kimono. "Yes. The full moon was calling to me that night."

"I've kept it. As much as I wish you had been there for him yourself, I have kept the vow that you asked of me."

The lady youkai turned her sad eyes from the stone and nodded. 'Sesshomaru is so like his mother,' Hoshi thought. Their quiet reserve was often interpreted as cold distain. In truth, they are both loving and extremely loyal to those that they care for. It showed in the fact that Sesshomaru's mother still carried a deep abiding love for the great Inu no Taisho even after he left her for InuYasha's mother. It nearly broke her apart, but the loss of her mate's life was the only thing that could drive her from the Earth to her castle in the sky.

"But you're also going to keep the vow you made to him?" Hoshi's look of surprise seemed to amuse her friend. "What…you did not think that I knew?" she refilled her sake and drained the cup in a fluid movement. "He told me the night he left to battle Ryukotsusei."

"Yes. I promised him. I'll keep both promises." Hoshi raised her chin as if to defy her friend to contradict her.

A beautiful smile passed over her face and the golden eyes that so resembled her son's softened. "I know. I expected nothing less from you."

"You know, I was once a mortal human myself," Hoshi's eyes twinkled.

Her friend sighed loudly, "Don't remind me of such unpleasantness." She cracked a smile at Hoshi and poured them both a full glass. "Now tell me, what is it you need? I know that you didn't come all this way to merely talk about the past."

Hoshi had the good grace to blush, but only for a moment. She was never one to beat around the bush when it came to important matters.

"I need a body."

Kagome landed with a thud, her backside taking the brunt of the impact. With considerable effort, she climbed back to her feet and faced Sesshomaru again. He seemed to be enjoying this sparring match way too much. Of course, she could be concentrating better if he had not stripped down to his under kimono that had no sleeves. His muscles were rather distracting to her female sensibilities.

Her bangles jingled in the morning air as she came at him again, powers rising enough to help her foot graze his arm. She hoped that he at least felt it, but sadly she was pretty sure he didn't. Twisting around, she swung out at him again but quickly found herself punching empty air. The momentum of her strike carried her body forward and she stumbled to a stop, turning her head to see Sesshomaru only a few feet away with a smug look on his face.

Something snapped in her in that moment, finally fed up with his superior sense of self. She had bested him in battle before, albeit with InuYasha's help, and she could do it on her own this time. Dropping to one knee, she bowed her head and concentrated on her powers, pulling them in and around her in a condensed circle. Raising a barrier, she focused her aura and then charged up her hands until they radiated a soft pink. She located his aura in the center of the room about ten strides away, Hiraiku at the far end observing their sparing match in a semi-bored silence.

Sesshomaru watched her curiously, wondering what she would do next. He had pushed her more in this session than ever before, wanting to see how far she could go before she hit the breaking point. He didn't like that she was uncomfortable and with every impact her body took, he cringed inwardly at the knowledge that the effects of this training would show on her fragile body for the next few days. Her aura built to an uncomfortable level, even with the bangles, and she slowly raised her head to look at him. His heartbeat increased as he recognized a steely resolve that had only been seen a few times from her, and all of those times in battle with InuYasha at her side.

Before he could take preventative action, she leapt to her feet and sprinted at him. He dropped slightly, preparing to leap into the air but he misjudged how quickly she was moving. Her barrier hit him first, knocking his senses into confusion as the burning sensation shocked his system. Her petite body slammed into him next, her palms finding his chest and releasing a muted fissure of energy into his body like an electrical shock. The force of her attack knocked him off of his feet, landing on his back on the wooden floor of the dojo. Her tiny body landed on top of him a second later.

The soft pink glow faded and with it the burning pain that had distracted Sesshomaru from the fact that a tiny little Miko had just knocked the great taiyoukai off his feet. She looked up from his chest just as he looked down at her. He tried to ignore the warmth that seeped from her perspiring body and the soft skin that teased the hand that had come to rest on her bare arm.

Her eyes darted around as she took in their position and she started to pull herself off him, "I'm sorry," she said but then stilled. Her eyes hardened slightly and she looked back at him, "No wait. I'm not sorry," she looked around again and realization dawned on her. A brilliant smile erupted on her face and he caught his breath, "That was awesome!" she yelled as she sat up between his long legs and turned to face away. He sat up slowly and stared down at her head, feeling joy radiate from her aura like warm sunshine. It was an intoxicating feeling.

She turned around quickly and her head bumped him in the chin. "Ow!" she crowed as her hand came up to rub her head. Looking up, she found him staring down at her with an uncomfortable expression. Mistaking it for pain, she reached up to place her palm against his jaw. "Are you okay?"

He didn't move, he didn't even seem to breathe. Kagome stared, still high on her successful attack a few moments ago. Looking over her head, he saw Hiraiku's slack jaw at the recent turn of events. Sesshomaru grabbed her hand and pulled it away, not liking the feelings that the gentle question had elicited.

"I'm fine." His response was brisk, though his eyes didn't seem to hold the same coldness. In fact, they seemed almost to glow from within.

He scooted back and got to his feet in a fluid motion that Kagome resented. Leaning down, he offered her a hand. "We're done for today."

She grabbed it and lifted herself to stand in front of him. "Okay." She looked at him expectantly, hopefully. He had lived with Rin long enough to know what she sought, but as a typical woman would never come out and ask for.

He smiled inwardly, for the first time finding the ridiculous female sensibility almost endearing. He flipped her long braid over her shoulder and said, "You did well today, little miko."

Her smile blinded him for a moment, but dimmed as she fell into step beside him as they returned to the castle. "Can't you call me by my name?"

Just to get a reaction he quipped, "Perhaps. What is it again?"

She growled at him and he had to bite back laughter. "You know very well that my name is Kagome!"

"Why would I ask a question that I already knew the answer?"

She huffed as they turned down the final hallway and stopped at her door. "Are you going to stand there and honestly tell me that you don't know my name after all these years?"

He raised a brow at her seemingly innocuous question, "What reason would I have had to learn it?"

She gasped at his words and turned bright red, anger replacing her previous joy. "Oooohhhh, I don't know why I bother!" she bellowed before wrenching the door shut with a bang.

He stared at the closed door. His palm itched to open it and say something to make her less angry, but he knew that he couldn't because it was too easy to be comfortable around her. Too easy to forget that she was a human and beneath his consideration. Just too damn easy to forget that she was merely a tool to have on hand in case of another attack against Rin.

It was also too easy to see why his half-brother was willing to risk his life to protect her time and again.

"What reason indeed," he whispered to the silent hallway.

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 40 of 60

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