Continuing Tales

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 45 of 60

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Tiger father begets tiger son. ~Chinese Proverb

Sesshomaru reluctantly left Kagome with Hoshi after the run in with InuYasha. The woman was exhausted so he forced himself to leave.

After pacing an hour, he felt Kagome's aura mellow into the smooth rhythm of sleep. With a weary sigh, he settled down enough to contemplate ways he could distract her the next morning from InuYasha's thoughtlessness. He was just relaxing into sleep when a sound at the door connecting their rooms roused him. Leaning up on his elbows, he peered into the darkness and caught his breath. Standing with a hand still on the now closed door, Kagome surveyed the dimly lit room until her eyes found him. With only a moment of hesitation, she pushed away from the smooth wood and crossed the distance to stand at the foot of the low bed.

He was about to ask if something was wrong when she dropped onto the soft mattress and began crawling on hands and knees toward him. The words lodged in his throat at the sensual sight of her dark eyes and cascading hair shining in the waning moonlight. She reached his side and leaned back, letting her gaze roam the length of his body brazenly. A tiny palm glided up his chest to the small patch of skin at the base of his neck where she hooked a finger under the layers of his kimono and tugged gently. His hand lightly grasped her wrist, a questioning gaze meeting her sultry stare. She leaned forward, her chest brushing against his until her cheek rubbed with a whisper soft sensation that lit a fire in his blood.

Sesshomaru inhaled deeply and froze. Instead of her soft scent, a muted aroma of smoke and pine wafted toward him. Throwing an arm out, he hurled her across the room just as a sharp pain exploded in his shoulder. The smell of blood filled the air and natural instinct took over as the warm liquid dripped down his arm. Leaping from the bed, he landed on the other side of the room to face her, finally noticing what he should have from the beginning. Her hair was a few inches too short, eyes a shade too light and her frame about an inch too tall. Whoever this was, it was not the little miko that had become so familiar over the past year. Holding his shoulder as the blood trickled down to pool at the floor by his feet, he snarled, "Who are you?"

The deep voice coming out of the figure before him sent a chill down his spine. He moved like a panther, prowling along the edge of the room, stalking in a low stance ready to pounce. "Wouldn't you like to know?"

The youkai finally released some of his aura and Sesshomaru tensed, realizing that without a sword and injured, he would have to act quickly in order to prevent further damage to his body. Glancing to the side, he took in the distance between himself and his swords sitting against the edge of his bed where he had left them only a short time before. As the youkai rushed forward, he dove to the side of the bed and grabbed Tokijin with his good arm. Twisting fluidly, he allowed the sword to release from its sheath at the moment he struck out at the youkai, catching his enemy on the arm. Hissing, the youkai's eyes flashed a bright orange before turning back into a caramel color. It helped remind Sesshomaru that this was not Kagome he raised his sword against. With a bellow of rage, the youkai ran at Sesshomaru, fangs bared as its form morphed from Kagome to a scaly beast not quite human, not quite reptile. Jamming its shoulder into Sesshomaru, they both landed with a jolt. Sesshomaru flipped the youkai over his head and rolled with him until he landed on his feet with Tokijin pressing against the youkai's chest. Heated orange eyes glared up with hatred. His form morphed quickly from a beast, to Kagome and then to a perfect replica of Sesshomaru himself. The uncanny resemblance shocked the young lord as rage boiled under the surface to know that this is the youkai who had used his face to get close to Kagome and ultimately brutalize her.

Lifting Tokijin high, he drove the mighty sword downward and watched in frustration as the youkai changed forms yet again, this time to a black mist swirling violently back toward the doorway that connected their rooms. An ominous laugh floated through the air, turning his blood cold. Cursing, he struggled to pull Tokijin from the floor where he had buried it halfway through the bamboo planks before sprinting to the door, yanking it open so fiercely that it broke into pieces. Gripping the hilt tightly, he found Hoshi lying on the floor and the cruel look alike with his hands around Kagome's neck, squeezing her as she thrashed against the crushing hold. Sesshomaru sent a poison whip at the youkai, wrapping it around his arm to burn the meaty flesh on contact. With an agonized cry, he dropped Kagome and pulled back.

A deadly voice rang on the cool night air, "She will die, Sesshomaru. And I'll enjoy draining the life from every inch of her delectable body." With that, the youkai melted into a fog of smoke and dissipated on the breeze that drifted in from the open doors leading to the porch.

Breathing heavily, Sesshomaru swung his gaze to Kagome. She was sitting in the middle of the large bed, a dazed expression on her pale face. Clenching his jaw, he sheathed Tokijin and moved to the side for a better look. Eyes roving over her, his concerned words broke the dazed silence left by the youkai attack. "Are you injured?"

She shook her head stiffly, "No." Staring off into the distance, her small hand began rubbing absently at the bruise forming around her neck. Emotions flitted across her features before a muffled cry sent her scrambling across the bed, "Hoshi!" Kagome almost fell to the floor, crawling to Hoshi's unmoving form near the open doorway.

Sesshomaru followed and helped Kagome move the woman to the center of the bed. Checking her over quickly, he breathed a sigh of relief that she was only unconscious. Though she would likely wake up with a nasty headache if the bruise on her forehead was any indication. He was surprised that Hoshi had been caught off guard enough to allow for a blow that could knock her unconscious. Placing a hand on Kagome's shoulder, he pulled her back gently and met her frightened gaze with sincerity. "She will be fine, I promise."

Nodding, she sniffled slightly and allowed her eyes to travel over his face and then down his neck to his shoulder. With a gasp, she reached out and put a hand on his blood soaked chest. "You're hurt too!" Her words were full of censure and alarm all at once. "I can't believe I didn't notice. Does it hurt?"

Sesshomaru grunted a negative response, irritated that she would think him weak enough to feel such a minor wound.

Hiraiku and Shizuka came through the door at that minute, effectively distracting the pair as a flurry of activity was issued to search the castle and move Hoshi to her chambers for immediate care. When the scene settled, Hiraiku stepped forward to assist Sesshomaru but was stopped with an unyielding command that surprised both of the hardened warriors.

"I'll tend to his wounds. Will you please go and check on Sango and Miroku? I worry about my friends when they are so far away." Her pleading voice softened the bear youkai's resolve to help his lord. After an almost imperceptible nod from Sesshomaru, he bowed quickly and left the two alone.

Sesshomaru noted that she didn't mention InuYasha, but he ignored the hint of satisfaction it caused and remained quiet. An awkward silence followed, but Kagome quickly shook it off, drawing herself up with an air of no nonsense that settled around her like a cloak. "Come on and let me take care of that wound."

"I'm fine." His terse reply didn't seem to faze her in the least. A disapproving sound escaped her lips and she grabbed his hand, tugging him forward.

As they passed through the doorway, she glanced at the broken frame, "Nice handy work Rambo." He paused in confusion at her odd words but she pulled him on insistently.

He went willingly, not sure when his resolve to avoid her had disappeared. Stopping by the bed, she turned and pushed against him steadily. No matter how hard she pushed she would never be able to budge him, but once again he found himself giving in to her wishes and sat on the bed to watch curiously as she fetched a pitcher of water and empty bowl. Grabbing one in each hand, she brought them back to set at his feet. Water splashed into the bowl and Kagome grabbed a towel from a nearby table. Yanking the cloth, she grunted as she struggled to tear it apart. Sesshomaru watched her face turn red as she labored for a moment before plucking it deftly from her hands with a sigh. Slicing it with a claw, he dropped the strips into her waiting hands.

Blushing, she whispered a demure thank you and began dipping the strips into the bowl. Turning back to the surly taiyoukai in front of her, she found the edge of his kimono and finally looked at his face. Their eyes collided and held, one nervous, one grudgingly mesmerized. "I need to take this off." Her innocent words fired his blood and he had to restrain his thoughts from taking off into dangerous territory.

Jaw flexing, he steadied his control. Standing only inches in front of him, her soft curves were outlined in the dawn light streaming through the windows at her back. Her pink tank top dipped low, exposing a creamy expanse of neck and chest that made his mouth water. Tiny fingertips were trailing fire across his chest while she worked the heavy silk over his shoulders a layer at a time. Leaning into him, she gently pushed the sleeves off his arms, taking care to avoid his injured shoulder. Closing his eyes, he felt her breath caress his neck and his heart sped up at the pieces of ebony hair ghosting over his cheek. When she finally extracted his other arm, she stepped back and stooped to pick up the bowl at their feet.

When she placed it on his lap he raised a brow sarcastically. "What?" she asked, daring him to say something snarky. He shook his head, not sure if he could keep his tone from showing how much she was affecting him. 'It must be the loss of blood…'he tried to convince himself.

Carefully, she bathed the wound, clearing away the dried blood and dirt. He held himself as still as stone, not even wincing as she applied pressure when the wound began to bleed again. After a thorough examination and she felt satisfied that it was clean and he would no longer bleed to death, she stepped back with a satisfied expression. "I'll be right back."

His hand shot out and grabbed her arm before she could take another step. "Where are you going?"

Blinking in surprise, she stuttered at his sharp tone, "Ju…just next door to get my bag. I'll only be a second."

"I'll go with you." He started to rise but she pushed him back down. Stepping back, she held his steely gaze in a determined one of her own.

"You stay right here so this wound doesn't start bleeding again." Prying herself free, she straightened. His eyes were full of rebellion, but he held his tongue. "I'll be back before you know it. If anything happens I'll call out for you." She smiled at him and his stomach flipped when she reached out and brushed his bangs from his forehead in a gentle caress, "I promise."

The surprise of her tender touch was the only thing that allowed her the time to step out of his reach. Within seconds, he gathered his composure and strained to listen to every sound in the next room. A thump sounded in the distance and she grumbled something about not being able to see in the dark and stubbed toes. All fell quiet soon after that and he held his breath, listening intently. When he could no longer even hear footsteps he fairly shouted, "You better be alright in there, Kagome."

She reappeared as the last of his threatening words echoed in the dawn air, her yellow bag hanging limply from her hand. The look on her face had him concerned until her shocked reply stopped him cold. "You called me Kagome."

He blinked at her, not sure what to say in response. Truth be told, he purposely hadn't used her name in order to stave off the growing fascination that plagued him when she was near. By keeping a distance, he was able to convince himself that he didn't care for her beyond the practical usefulness of a healer. Gritting his teeth, he succumbed to the knowledge that sometime over the past few months he had lost the battle with his traitorous self.

Setting the bag next to him, she held his gaze with a piercing acuteness that made him shift uncomfortably. Whether she took pity on him or merely lost her courage, he breathed a sigh of relief when she began rummaging through it to pull several items from its mysterious depths.

Kagome set to work, smearing the wound liberally with antiseptic before bandaging the deep gash. He decided not to tell her that by tomorrow he would only be sore and all of her effort was unnecessary. Instead he let her minister to his wounds, enjoying the attention and gentle touch of her soft hands. Having her near soothed his restless inner beast, which had become increasingly upset with the threat that seemed to be pursuing her. Even without the Jewel this youkai wanted to kill her, and despite his extra precautions, had been able to gain access to her on multiple occasions. It was maddening to his protective instincts that she could so easily be accessed through his layers of defense. He sucked in a breath at the revelation that he actually cared if something happened to her.

"Oh! I'm sorry. Did that hurt?"

Her apologetic tone shook him from his wayward thoughts. Looking up into her beautiful face, he realized that he was heading down a road that could only be considered foolish. His father's satisfied face flashed before his eyes and he had to blink away the memories. Kagome's sweet scent pulled at him, calling to him in a way that nothing ever had. Her nearness was like a drug that held him in its warm embrace, dulling the ingrained need to run away from the memory of his father. Lifting his other arm, he pushed her hair back behind her shoulder. "No, you didn't hurt me." As he spoke, his hand traced the curve of her neck and the faint red marks left behind by the youkai attack.

She shivered at the electricity running along her limbs as the tension between them grew thicker. Realizing that they had stopped moving, she turned back to her task with a bright blush. "Okay, good. Almost done."

When he was sufficiently bandaged, Kagome packed up her bag as Sesshomaru shrugged on a new kimono. Kagome stood next to the door, nervousness evident in her aura. "Um…so, should I go and stay with Hoshi?"

Sesshomaru looked around the room before finally answering, "Are you still tired?" he knew that she was, seeing it etched into her face.

Sheepishly, Kagome bobbed her head back and forth, "Sort of, but sleeping seems to be a rather dangerous pastime for me." She meant it as a joke, but his eyes darkened slightly at the reminder.

Motioning to the bed, he spoke softly in a tone that sounded almost hesitant to Kagome. "Lay down for a while. Hoshi won't be awake for several more hours and there's little you can do for her until she does. I'll stay nearby and you can sleep in peace."

Holding her hands out in front of her, she laughed nervously, "Oh no, it's okay really. I can just go and sit with Hoshi until she wakes up." Turning, she made it about two steps before an arm looped around her waist, lifting and depositing her next to the bed. Tipping her head back, she met his determined gaze over her head. "Or I'll just take a nap here," she muttered under her breath as she dropping her bag to the floor. Tiredly, she crawled onto the soft bed. Scooting to the middle, she looked back at him, "Where are you going to sleep?"

He stared at her intently. His inner beast was whining, urging him to stay near her and warning that the danger had not passed. Ignoring the weakening voice in his head that warned to keep a safe distance, he sat on the edge of the bed next to Kagome and pulled his legs up to sit on top of the covers. She watched him warily, but didn't say a word. Pulling up a blanket, she snuggled down, disappearing into the softness. She lay there for several minutes, too attuned to the long body resting only a few inches away. Finally exhaustion marched forward to drag her into sleep.

After an hour of listening to her steady breath and heartbeat, he reached a hand out and pulled a lock of hair toward him. Rubbing it between his thumb and forefinger, a forceful thought surfaced from somewhere deep in response to the youkai's earlier taunt, 'I won't let you die.'

As if hearing his vow, she turned slightly and reached out toward him, her hand coming to rest next to his. Flexing his index finger, he rubbed her wrist unconsciously as he recalled the visions witnessed when they were joined by the Crown. He had gotten a glimpse into the nightmares that haunted her and if he could kill Naraku again, he would make sure that it was a slow, intensely vicious death. He nodded off to visions of torture and splashing blood.

Several hours later, Kagome awoke to find the sun streaming through the windows of Sesshomaru's room. Turning, she noticed that he hadn't moved from his position next to her. The sun made his white hair and clothes glow like fresh snow and she spent a few quiet minutes studying him. His features had relaxed and Kagome hoped that he was asleep considering how she was ogling him shamelessly. Sitting up slowly, she carefully moved to a better vantage point closer to his feet. His long hair pooled around him and Kagome's palms itched to touch it.

Reaching out, she stopped her hand in midair and drew it back. She had lost the battle with herself once earlier when she brushed her hand through his bangs. She had thought he might smack her hand away, but instead he allowed it and then later used her name for the first time since they had met. She still couldn't believe that! He had always seemed to barely tolerate her presence, but over the past few weeks something had changed.

She tipped her head to the side and considered him lying there, serene and relaxed. He had always been such a fearsome opponent for the years that she traveled with InuYasha. It had taken a year living under the same roof for that fear to turn into a respect and, to her growing discomfort, odd sort of affection that she was sure he did not return. Reminding herself of his hatred toward humans, she started running her fingers through her long hair to untangle the mass of black locks and thought about what she would do now that the Jewel was no longer her responsibility. A pang of sadness rippled through her but she pushed it away ruthlessly. It could not be undone, nor would she do it differently if she were given the chance. A chapter of her life was ending, and she would close it with dignity and grace.

Dropping her hands in her lap, she considered the taiyoukai in front of her. If she were going to be leaving anyway, why not do the things that she had always wanted? What would it matter? No one would remember her for very long anyway, and most would not even be alive in her time to recall behavior from the past. Throwing caution to the wind, she leaned forward and grabbed a hand full of his hair, pulling it into her lap before she lost the nerve. With a skillful hand, she separated the pieces and twisted a small section into a loose braid, delighting at how perfect and soft his hair felt. The spicy scent of sandalwood and mountain air drifted up from the silky strands and Kagome lifted it to her face and inhaled.

"What are you doing?" His deep voice made her jump, dropping the strands as if they burned her skin.

She looked at his face and noticed his eyes were still closed. The momentary courage evaporated, "Um, well…" wringing her hands in her lap she looked around frantically, mortified that he caught her momentary lapse of manners.

He opened his eyes and picked up the half braided hair between two fingers. Sliding his golden gaze back to her, he raised a brow.

Embarrassment flooded her face with color and words began to spill out quickly, "Well, I think your hair is beautiful and… well, it smells good. I didn't mean to offend you. In fact, most people would take it as a compliment… but then again, I don't know if youkai feel the same way, so… I guess… if they don't…"

She froze when he leaned forward and pressed his thumb against her mouth, stopping her nervous rambling. His eyes roamed her face and ended on her mouth where his thumb rubbed her lower lip lightly. "You talk too much Kagome."

Pulling back, he stood up and held a hand out to the dumbfounded woman. "Let's go and see how Hoshi is feeling."

Kagome sat next to Hoshi's bed and waited patiently for her friend to wake. Sesshomaru had left reluctantly a short time before to attend to household business, but only after Hiraiku arrived to stand guard. He had made her promise rather vehemently not to go anywhere alone or do anything reckless if she found herself face to face with the unidentified enemy pursuing her. She laughingly responded with a joke but sobered quickly when she realized he was deadly serious.

The woman lying next to her stirred and Kagome jumped up, taking her hand gently. "Hoshi?"

Opening her eyes, she squeezed Kagome's hand and focused on the young woman's face with almost instant clarity. Without hesitation she asked, "Kagome, are you alright?"

Kagome shook her head and a watery smile broke over her face. "Yes. It's you I'm worried about."

Lifting herself up, Hoshi turned and looked into Kagome's troubled face. "I'm fine, really. Tell me what happened last night, I only remember a little."

With a deep breath, she launched into retelling the events that led up to that morning. Hoshi smiled knowingly at Kagome's blush when she skimmed over the details about Sesshomaru's wound and subsequent treatment.

Hoshi's gaze never left Kagome's face and with a serious tone, grasped the younger woman by the shoulders firmly, "This enemy is clever. Promise me you'll be extra careful until we catch him."

Kagome laughed, "Sesshomaru made me promise the same thing. I promise you too." She smiled at the other woman and squeezed her hand affectionately just as Sesshomaru entered the room.

His eyes swept systematically over the room until they landed on Kagome, softening immediately. Hoshi instantly noticed the change in his aura and had to hold back her sigh of relief. He was starting to come to terms with a destiny he had no chance of changing, even if he wished.

Rin pushed past the tall lord and ran to the bed, throwing her arms around Hoshi first and then Kagome a moment later. Meeting his eyes over the exuberant chatter, Kagome smiled at the amused taiyoukai as she assured the little girl that she was okay. He leaned against the wall and watched the women as they tried to console the little girl and alleviate her fears. His eyes remained on Kagome, observing every expression and analyzing her emotions to see how she was handling the events from the previous night. His interest piqued when she caught his gaze and blushed, her spiked heart rate played in his ears.

Rin snuggled into Kagome's arms and looked up, "Can we go out and play in the garden? I'm so tired of being inside." Rin's pleading tone pulled at her heartstrings.

Placing her hand on the young girl's head, Kagome looked questioningly at Sesshomaru. After a stiff nod from him, she agreed and they left Hoshi to recover in peace.

Sesshomaru followed the girls closely, his senses on high alert as he struggled to focus on his surroundings and not the little miko that paced slowly in front of him. Shizuka trailed at a distance, her own senses focused on the garden. The fox youkai was highly trained, more so even then Hiraiku, which was why he entrusted Rin to her care. It had helped that she had become just as fond of the little girl as Rin had of her.

Kagome stopped abruptly and picked a late summer flower that was growing along the path. Turning to Rin, she tucked the yellow bloom behind the girl's ear and smiled. "There, this suits you." Straightening, she started walking again and Rin trotted ahead, chattering about finding a flower for Kagome. As she and Shizuka continued down the path, Kagome slowed to watch the little girl fondly. Sesshomaru drew up next to her and let his gaze follow hers. Their hands brushed and Kagome pulled back shyly to maintain a respectful distance. Sesshomaru barely restrained himself from the nearly uncontrollable desire to close the space she put between them. 'Stop this nonsense,' he growled to himself.

Wringing her hands, Kagome started down the path again. "I'm glad Hoshi's okay."

Jaw flexing, he followed her silently. With every passing hour, the feelings that she aroused seemed to increase in intensity, pulling him off balance. He was grasping for a foothold, but was felling completely at the mercy of an unknown source that toyed with him treacherously. This was all new territory for the young lord. He had always been free to indulge in life's pleasures and if something pleased him, he could care less what others thought. It was the reason that Rin had been allowed to travel with him and ultimately why he fought to regain his rightful inheritance. Now, it pleased him to keep Kagome nearby and safe. He was unfamiliar with the deep seated need that arose when she was threatened, but knew that if she were harmed, it very might well send him into a rage that would bring destruction to the West the likes of which had not been seen in over a century.

A pink rose caught his attention, though it was initially hidden among the dense leaves of the bush that supported it. Its beauty and perfection was unrivaled by the other blooms that tried to hide it from view. Sesshomaru was not immune to the parallel of the rose and the beautiful woman that walked a few steps ahead. He hadn't noticed her at first either, but now that he did, he would never be able to ignore her vibrant existence, nor how all others seemed to pale in comparison. The soft hue of the delicate petals perfectly matched her aura, breathtaking and vivacious. Deftly, he plucked the bloom and followed her until she finally paused by a koi pond to look at the brightly colored fish gliding lazily through the water. Reaching out, he slipped the flower under her chin and waited.

Kagome was trying to calm her racing heart. Ever since the previous evening, she was reacting to his nearness in a way that was surprising and confusing. By the time she stopped by the pond, she could feel his stare like a brand on her skin. Rubbing her clammy hands on her pants, she caught her breath as a perfect pink rose was held out in front of her. Her eyes traveled up his arm and was instantly lost in the golden warmth that seemed to envelope her like an embrace. Her fingers grasped the rose as their gazes held, tension and heat ripe on the air. Letting go, he grazed her cheek gently with the backs of his fingers to brush the hair away from her eyes. Slowly, he stepped into her until their bodies were almost touching.

He opened his mouth as if to speak when a loud crash echoed through the garden. They both turned and Sesshomaru's expression darkened as a dragon rose up over the garden from the valley below, its giant wings propelling it into the air with a thundering blast. Red eyes focused on Kagome with a deadly glint as thick saliva dripped from its massive fangs.

Kagome stared in horror until a wall of white silk wrapped around her and the earth dropped away from her feet. In a blink, she was set down on the porch of the castle and Sesshomaru took her face in his large hands. The desperate look in his eyes made her heart flip. "Remember your promise," he said insistently.

Grabbing his hands with her own, she watched his stony facade fall away for the briefest moment at her touch to reveal the emotion and turmoil behind his words. The rawness made her knees wobble. He pulled away quickly, leaving her behind to watch in helpless agony as he quickly transformed into his true form and launched himself toward the dragon.

"Sesshomaru," she whispered fearfully.

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 45 of 60

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