Continuing Tales

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 47 of 60

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"Evolution is fascinating to watch. To me it is the most interesting when one can observe the evolution of a single man." - Shana Alexander

Sesshomaru was consumed with rage at the sight that met his eyes when descending through the trees. With a force that he could barely contain, he landed and threw the dragon from Kagome, preparing to rip the loathsome creature into tiny pieces. It was only the gentle whisper of his name that pulled him back from the brink of furious insanity. Mindful of her semi exposed position near the rock, he launched himself at Sora and the two crossed blades in mid-air.

"So, you were able to break the chains? I must have underestimated you dog." Sora flipped and shot a blast of fire from his menacing blade. "But if you don't mind, we were in the middle of something before you so rudely interrupted." The dragon tossed a hungry glance at Kagome's crouched form.

Sesshomaru's eyes bled crimson and his markings grew ragged. With a heavy blow, he sent Sora into the ground with a crash, breaking trees and earth under the force. His voice was clipped and full of contempt, "You are filth." He unleashed Tokijin, its blue flames cutting through the mountainside at a dizzying speed. A large tree sheared off at its base in the melee, catching Sora in the side and dragging him back to the ground with a crunch of bone and flesh.

Sesshomaru dropped down lightly and held Tokijin under Sora's chin. "There was never any doubt who would win this battle," he snarled. Angrily, he drove his sword through the dragon's arm, nearly severing it. Sora howled in pain as his upper body twitched while his lower half remained trapped under the tree. Sesshomaru drew the blade from the ground and rolled the large tree from his prey with a booted foot. A flick of the wrist sliced the dragon from navel to chest, exposing internal organs and muscle with ruthless precision.

Kagome approached from behind, her steps slow as she took in Sesshomaru's wild aura snapping against the damp air. Not sure if he was fully in control, she halted a step away, not sure if her presence would make the situation worse. Glancing down, she watched Sora's blood trickle over the ground slowly to pool against her bare feet. Weariness and pain dragged against her raw nerves, pushing her to close the small distance and wrap her arms around Sesshomaru from the back. Inhaling his comforting scent, she pressed her forehead against his snowy hair not at all caring what anyone thought about her actions. Sesshomaru paused, looking down at the small, bloody hands that gripped the front of his haori in tight fists. His control almost slipped again but her muffled plea stopped him.

"Please Sesshomaru, can we just go home?"

Turning to face her, he fought the reappearing fury that her battered appearance evoked. She was exhausted and frightened, reminding him too much of the woman that he brought to his house a year ago and again through the well a few weeks ago. The need to comfort her warred with the need to destroy Sora for causing such damage. The words tumbled out before he could stop them, "He should suffer for hurting you."

She gifted him with a watery smile, "Maybe." Clutching her clothes to her, she glanced uneasily at the rock with a chill at what might have been, "But right now, the only thing I want to do is leave this place." She met his eyes and held them, "Please," she whispered.

Seeing her anguish, he relented. She could have asked for anything at that moment and he would have given it to her. The thought should have scared him, but for once it seemed irrelevant. Protecting her was something that he would not be ashamed of. Brushing his hand through her bangs, he tipped her face up to force her to meet his steady gaze. Searching beneath the exhausted expression, he finally relented after seeing that no permanent damage seemed to have been done to her. Nodding curtly, he turned away to face his dying enemy.

"If it were up to me, you would have lived until you begged for death and showed the world what a dishonorable coward you are." He glanced down at the left hand holding his sword, "You're fortunate that she's not vindictive like youkai."

He took the dragon's head off with a fluid arc of Tokijin's razor sharp blade. Dispassionately, he flicked the blood away and sheathed the mighty sword with smooth grace. Turning to Kagome, he found her looking down at Sora's body with a blank expression. Reaching out to her, he ran the backs of his fingers along her arm to draw her attention away from the gruesome sight, "Kagome?"

The wind picked up and she shivered as the cool air passed through her tattered clothing. Dragging her gaze away from the dead dragon, she watched as Sesshomaru shrugged out of his outer kimono and wrapped it around her, tugging it closed with dexterity. She glanced down at the oversized garment that fell to her knees and far past her fingertips but relished the warmth that lingered from his body. Kagome's continued silence spoke louder than any words and his heart squeezed at her bottled up emotions. Stooping, he gathered her in his arms and took to the sky, wanting to put as much space between her and the past few hours as possible.

She curled into his warmth and inhaled deeply, her forehead resting against his throat. His arms tightened around her small frame comfortingly and she felt hot tears gather. His gentle hold stood in stark contrast to the last few hours, breaking the grasp she had on her emotions. Turning into his chest more fully, she let the sobs rack her body as pent up emotions poured from her like a waterfall. Tiny hands fisted in his clothing with a fierce grip and he felt every shuttered breath rip through him until exhaustion finally took mercy and claimed her.

Repositioning her slightly, he bent his head and nuzzled her still wet cheek. Frowning, he sniffed her hair and growled at the unwanted reminder that burned his nostrils. Picking up the pace, he streaked toward the House of the Moon with even more purpose.

He touched down in the courtyard near dawn. Hoshi was waiting, her pale features strained from the last few hours. Anxiously she brushed Kagome's matted hair back to look at her sleeping form. Glancing at Sesshomaru, he shook his head at her unspoken question. Hoshi sighed, her shoulders crumpling from relief.

"Bring me her things," was all he said to the quiet sorceress. With clear intent, he left her and strode to the bathhouse, sliding the door open with his foot.

Kagome barely stirred as he set her on a soft cushion near the door. Stripping down to a thin pair of close fitting pants, he was tying his hair back with a strip of leather when Hoshi brought a bag and clean kimono draped over her arm.

"The dragon?" she asked quietly, her eyes searching his rigid features.

"Dead. What of Taro?"

Hoshi shook her head sadly. "We found his body in the woods. After you revived Hiraiku, he organized a contingent of guards to deliver Taro and Emi's body to the North."

Sesshomaru nodded curtly and faced Kagome's sleeping form. The dragon's smell was all over her and it was driving him insane. Had he been minutes later, water would not have been able to wash away the damage. He repressed the shudder that ran along his limbs at what could have happened.

Hesitantly, Hoshi placed a hand on his arm, "I can take care of her, Yama. You should go and rest. Your injuries have taken their toll, I can feel it."

He only shook his head and carefully lifted Kagome. Sitting on a nearby bench, he finally met the housekeeper's eyes. "I'm not the one that needs rest. Go."

Eyeing him speculatively, she raised a brow. His expression remained blank as he only met her gaze steadily. After a drawn out minute, she finally nodded before placing the kimono and bag on the bench next to him. To his relief, she slid the door shut behind her without a fuss. The calming sound of water soothed his raw nerves as did Kagome's pliant warmth and strong heartbeat. Whispering her name, he juggled her until she was almost upright. Her eyes fluttered open and softened the instant they focused on his face.

"I need you to wake up for a couple of minutes." His voice was husky in the stillness of the bathhouse, the glowing firelight added to the soothing environment that helped patch his frayed nerves. Standing her in front of him, he tugged at the knot on the kimono until it fell from her slender shoulders to pool in a heap of fine silk around her ankles.

She blushed brightly as she clutched her tattered clothing with eyes pressed shut. Taking a deep breath, he hooked a finger under the remaining strips of cloth left from her tank top and pulled gently until it gave way. She sucked in a breath but remained still, trust evident in the control she maintained over her miko powers. His fingertips brushed along the skin at her stomach as he set to work cutting off the yoga pants that had survived marginally better. She shivered as he carefully bared her skin inch by inch, leaving only her bra and underwear when he was finally done.

Standing, he waited for her to open her eyes and almost chuckled when they grew large as they roved over his bare chest and shoulders.

"Um?" she stumbled over her words and stared. Her embarrassment seemed to be forgotten and replaced by bold curiosity as her eyes roamed the expanse of flesh in front of her.

With a self-satisfied smirk, he grabbed the bag and held it open in front of her. She hesitated for only a moment before grabbing two white bottles from within.

Awkwardly, she looked over at the steaming water. "Sesshomaru, I don't…"

Not waiting for her to finish, he put a hand on her back, guiding her to the water. After a few steps she lurched and sucked in a sharp breath and stopped. Looking down, he saw the bloody remnants of her barefoot escape as pieces of sharp rocks and pine needles were still etched into her feet. Without hesitating he scooped her up and sloshed into the water. Wading over to a submerged bench, he sat down and pulled her into his lap. Twisting around, he grabbed a small wooden pitcher from a nearby ledge and dunked it under the water. Positioning her in front of him, he carefully poured the water over her hair, brushing it back as the warm water streamed through the ebony locks. She sat still, holding herself away awkwardly as his hands worked through the thick tresses until they were dripping.

Plucking the bottle of shampoo from her hands, he stared at the end, turning it in his hands with a puzzled expression. When he seemed at an impasse, she took pity on him and flipped it open with her thumb. A smile played at the edges of her mouth and he nearly sighed in relief that she was coming out of the seemingly catatonic daze he had found her in. To keep up appearances, he grunted at her easy mastery of the odd vessel. Remembering how Rin had told him about Kagome's special soap that smelled like roses, he squeezed the bizarre substance onto her head and stared with fascination as it turned into a fragrant foamy lather. She giggled as he struggled to tame her thick locks and he felt his chest tighten. When he had finally gotten all of it, he began the arduous task of rinsing the rose smelling bubbles away. Relishing the return of her comforting scent, he felt the rest of his anger finally drain away, replaced with tranquil reprieve.

Pulling her back into his chest, he grabbed her left arm and lifted it from the water to find a thin sealing chain wrapped around her wrist. Concentrating his youki into his fingertips, he snapped its hold and unwound the delicate spell from her skin, tossing it to the edge of the room. Carefully, he rubbed the irritated skin with his thumbs in soothing circles. Kagome held her breath as he washed the dirt and dried blood from her hand and arm with a gentleness that surprised her. When he was satisfied, he started on the other arm, first removing the sealing chain and then the remnants of her desperate flight through the dark woods. His body pressed against her back and she felt every ripple of chiseled muscle stretch and contract behind her. Where Sora had disgusted and frightened her, Sesshomaru's powerful body curving around her invoked the feeling of protection and a rush of adrenaline that rippled deeply in her stomach.

Bringing his large hands up to her shoulders, he rubbed the soap along her collarbones and upper arms. Tipping her head to the side, she closed her eyes as his gentle touch washed away the rest of the tension and fear that had coiled deep inside like a venomous snake.

He watched her as if under a spell, something in his chest swelling at every hitched breath and stammered heartbeat. He concentrated on keeping his movements steady, but the smooth skin under his hands was intoxicating like a sweet fragrant wine. As she tipped her head to the side, he let his gaze travel down the smooth line of her neck and the glistening water droplets that beaded across her skin. Wayward thoughts invaded his thoughts with every caress, dragging him into a new realm of visions that he knew could only ever exist inside his mind.

When she turned her face toward him, he realized that he had stopped moving with his palm resting just above her breast. She met his gaze and her heavy lidded eyes set fire to his blood. Leaning in toward her, he pulled her back into his body further, his other hand coming to her ribcage. Her whimper broke through his foggy brain and he drew back. The pain of her multiple injuries reminded him of her fleeting mortality like a bucket of ice water. With a mumbled apology, he slipped from behind and came around to kneel before her. Carefully, he lifted her left leg and washed first her foot, pulling pine needles and rocks from the bruised flesh, and then working his way higher. When he got to her mid-thigh, she pulled away and scooted to the back of the bench, bright red suffusing her cheeks becomingly. Sesshomaru relented and grabbed her other foot to do the same. After he was satisfied, he pulled her to stand in front of him and washed her stomach and back carefully, his eyes taking in every inch of skin to make sure all remnants of the past day were stripped away. To his chagrin, he could not wash away the lasting bruises that would only fade with passing time.

Kagome's embarrassment rose, knowing that she was covered with bruises and cuts. She knew that it was hardly an attractive sight for anyone, even though she was sure Sesshomaru was the last to think of a human that way. "I must look terrible," she blurted out quickly as he finished rinsing her back.

Turning her around to face him, he met her eyes steadily. "You look far from terrible."

With a wobbly smile, she dropped her gaze to his chest again and he saw the beginnings of desire reflected in the firelight. Grabbing the nearby soap bottle, she squeezed a generous amount into her hand and rubbed her palms together until they were covered in lather. With a hesitant look, she held them out and tentatively placed her hands on his chest. She might as well have kicked him in the stomach. Swaying slightly, he backed up the few steps to the bench and dropped down with less grace than usual. She remained still, unsure why he moved away and worried that she had made him angry. His long arms reached out and grabbed her wrists, tugging her to stand between his bent knees. Carefully, she resumed her gentle movement, concentrating on the wound that still lingered on his shoulder, having been reopened during his battles with Sora.

Noticing a smudge on his cheek, she wiped her soapy hand over it tentatively. When he didn't pull away, she let her eyes drift over his markings, thinking the closest thing that she could compare them to in her time was a tattoo. Curiously, she ran her fingers over the stripes on his cheeks, pure fascination guiding her movement. His breath was suspended in his lungs as he watched the mixture of bold inquisitiveness and wonder play across her features.

Without warning, she switched her attention and tugged him forward so that she could kneel on the bench behind him. Pushing his hair over one broad shoulder, she soaped up his back and let her hands run appreciatively over the corded muscles that jumped and twitched under her small hands.

She rinsed his shoulders and leaned back. Dipping her hands into the water, she scrubbed at her face, removing the last of the dirt and sweat from her harrowing journey. Before she had rubbed the last of the water from her eyes, she gasped as she felt his arm hook around her back and pull her through the water. When she opened them, she found herself once again sitting on the bench, her back pressed against his chest with his arms looped around her middle. One hand rested loosely around her forearm and his thumb rubbed the inside of her wrist comfortingly. He rested his chin on top of her head and took a deep breath.

"Sesshomaru?" she asked quietly.


"Thanks for...well, you know."

He didn't answer, but she felt his thumb pause on the inner side of her wrist as his body tensed slightly. Something inside told her that he was replaying the events in the woods a short time ago.

Wishing to distract him she added, "How long are we going to stay here?"

"Until I no longer smell him on your skin."

Her heart stilled at the simple statement, the meaning behind such words tipping her world on its axis. She wondered if he was as confused as she was by the tumultuous feelings that their growing bond seemed to be fostering. Settling back, she relaxed into him and wrapped her other hand around his forearm under the water.

They remained in contented silence, neither feeling a particular necessity to move away from the cocoon of solace they had been able to find in the warm waters of the bath house.

Red eyes watched with interest from outside the bathhouse. The taiyoukai was becoming completely enraptured by the woman. Since the Jewel was gone, the game had now become about revenge.

Snarling, the red eyed youkai thought about the trouble the hot headed dragon had caused. Letting the arrogant youkai remain in the house had been a risk that didn't play to his advantage. The only good that had come of it was how the taiyoukai now seemed completely focused on the miko, which would open him up to attack. Smiling, he slithered back through the garden and to the castle. Biding time was becoming increasingly difficult when the targets were so vulnerable, but waiting had also put several new and unexpected victims within range.

Smiling evilly, he slipped though the shadows. Just a little bit longer now.

Sesshomaru carried Kagome back through the quiet house, nodding to servants as he went. All those that he came across bowed in respect and watched him slowly pace the distance to his room. Reaching it after a few minutes, he slid the door shut silently and surveyed the familiar space dispassionately. His staff had put the room back in order, but he could still feel and smell the remnants of the battle that had taken place.

Approaching the bed, he placed her in the fresh linens and crawled in next to her. Pulling up a blanket to cover her shoulders, he set his swords against the wall beside the bed. She rolled toward him and sighed contentedly, settling into a deep sleep almost immediately. Sliding down, he faced her with one arm arced over her head and the other resting on the bed between their stomachs. Before long he too fell into a comfortable sleep, lulled by her steady heartbeat and sweet scent.

Hours passed until a noise in the hall drew them both from contented sleep.

Kagome felt warm and comfortable, not wanting to wake from the deep slumber that had cocooned her in its rejuvenating embrace. Another noise shook her more fully from the darkness and she squeezed her eyes shut. Turning her head into the softness under her head, she arched her back to stretch her sore muscles, relishing the comforting warmth that seemed to be surrounding her.

A rumble erupted from under her cheek and she stilled, breath caught in her throat. Opening her eyes, she saw the expanse of white silk spread out before her, capped by two black boots. She followed her arm that was draped across his chest and up into liquid gold eyes that burned with intensity. She started to sit up but was stopped by the steely arm that was looped around her waist tightly. Worried that she had done something wrong, she glanced around quickly, taking in his taught frame. His other hand fisted in the sheets at his side as if he was in pain.

"I'm sorry," she stuttered as she tried to put as much distance between her body and his, though his iron grip didn't allow for much.

Sesshomaru fought with every ounce of strength he possessed against the traitorous part of himself that wanted to claim her right then and there. He woke up to the feel of her lithe body pressed against every inch of him, his own arm had moved to pull her more firmly into his warmth sometime during their slumber. Her arm was draped over his chest and his hand had been over hers possessively. He was about to extract himself when a husky moan escaped her lips and she arched her soft curves into his already over heated body. The impact of his feelings stunned his mind into silence until all he could focus on was her humming aura and seductive scent. It didn't help when she finally looked up at him and the split second of desire that mirrored his own shone through the brown depths. She continued to squirm next to him, trying to separate herself from him but only succeeding in rubbing her perfect curves more firmly against him until he could take no more. "Please Kagome, stay still!" his voice was far more harsh than he intended.

She stopped and he felt her uncertainty immediately. Pulling her with him, he sat up and held her still in front of his rock hard frame. Dropping his forehead to her temple he whispered into her hair, "You'll be the death of me yet."

She looked up at him questioningly and he only shook his head. Neither ready to explore the feelings that seemed to be propelling them toward a future that was beyond sight.

Days slipped by and the House of the Moon slowly righted itself. Hoshi recovered and after a heated discussion, Kagome was moved back into the room next to Sesshomaru's while he was left to pace the floors and prowl the grounds every night looking for danger.

"You can't keep her with you at night and you know it." Hoshi's stern voice chided him that day. "If you do, then you need to take her as your mate. Otherwise, it's insulting to her reputation, not to mention the serious jeopardy that she'd be facing from rival youkai."

Sesshomaru stopped his pacing and glared at her, "No one would dare touch her. Not after the message I sent with the dragon."

Hoshi huffed and put her hands on her hips. "Either you claim her, or you leave her alone. There is no middle ground."

Kagome entered the room at that moment and he watched her in silence as she and Hoshi made plans for the departure of her friends. She ignored him quite successfully, which irritated him endlessly. Earlier that morning he and Kagome had a rather unpleasant argument about InuYasha and he was still feeling restless about their heated exchange.

After demanding that his brother leave the grounds, she had surprised him by defending the hanyou and making demands of her own.

"If you're going to make them leave, then it'll be after Kikyo is well enough to travel. When that time comes, you'll provide them with a horse so that she doesn't have to walk the entire way back to her village." Kagome turned away from him and gestured toward Kikyo and InuYasha. "You can stay as long as you need." Turning back to Sesshomaru, she pinned him with a look that dared him to contradict her, "Right Sesshomaru?"

With a grunt, he only nodded and left the room to wait outside while she helped her friends plan their departure from the Western Lands. To his surprise, they were all leaving together within the week and he watched with growing discomfort as Kagome's emotions swung from happiness to despair.

During one of her low moments later that morning, he lost his temper and burst into her room, the newly repaired door cracking down the middle from the force of his hasty entrance.

"Why are you so upset at my mangy brother's departure? After he pushed you aside repeatedly for another, I'd think you happy to finally be rid of him!"

Kagome's initial shock at his sudden appearance disappeared even as Hoshi shouted his name in warning from across the room. She stood up, a shoe still in her hand from a recent stroll in the garden. "How dare you? Just because he always loved Kikyo doesn't mean that he didn't love me too. It was just different between us."

Sesshomaru snorted. His arm gestured to her as he snidely responded, "So you grieve for the loss of a man who always considered you second best?"

Kagome drew back and let her shoe fly, rebounding off the back of his wrist that had come up to block a direct hit. "Get out!" she shouted and bent to grab her other shoe. Holding it up she took a step toward him when he didn't move, "Get out now!" she screamed.

Turning on his heel, he left her alone only to be followed by Hoshi.

"What is wrong with you?" she hissed as she slid the mangled door shut behind them.

"What?" he growled as he strode out onto the large balcony. The wind whipped ferociously, matching the mood of the house.

"Why would you say such a thing to her? The two of you have seemed rather content with each other recently. Why upset that with such a thoughtless comment?" Hoshi approached and stood directly in front him, demanding that he meet her angry gaze.

"Why is she so sad that he's leaving?" he answered petulantly.

Understanding lit her eyes and she drew back to pace to the other end of the balcony. Leaning against the rail, she waited for him to join her. When he finally did, she added, "Yama, Kagome mourns the loss of her previous life. Everything that she once knew is disappearing as she and her friends' part ways. She's frightened that she will never be happy again." Straightening, she pinned him with a knowing look, "It reminds me of a young taiyoukai that I once knew. One who watched as his father gave up everything for love, and with it cast his son and mate into chaos."

Sesshomaru's shoulders slumped and he dropped his eyes to the hands clasped tightly in front of him. "Yes, and all of that sadness was a waste of time that changed nothing."

"Perhaps, but if I remember correctly, you didn't think so at the time." With a comforting pat on the arm, she added, "Step back and remind yourself to think about it from her point of view." She left him to stare out onto the valley and search his mind for a way to understand the woman that drove him crazy with her turbulent emotions and beautiful smile.

Later that evening, he found Kagome alone on the porch leading to his mother's garden. She was wrapped up in a thick blanket to watch the last of the fireflies perform their swan song in the cool early autumn air. She glanced up at his approach and quickly turned away, obviously still angry.

He sat next to her and searched for words that might bridge the gap between them. She broke the silence first, leaving him in no doubt of her mood.

"If you're here to insult me again, you can just leave right now."

He shifted as her angry tone cut through the dim light of the crescent moon. "I didn't come here to argue with you. I came here to ask you a question."

Raising her brows, she raked him with a skeptical glare. "And what is that?"

Tucking his hands in his wide sleeves, he sat rigidly with his eyes locked on the far side of the garden. "I've asked you this before, but I want the real answer this time. Why do you believe the only place for you is with him?"

Thinking over his words, she sat next to him until a sad smile crossed her face. "Because the only other people that wanted me around were after the Jewel. Now that it's gone, there's no reason anyone has to keep me around at all." The words were said in a light tone, but he could hear the truth she felt behind them.

His response bit into the air caustically, "Your value is not tied to some trivial stone. Why would another see value if you fail to see it yourself?"

He waited and when she didn't answer, he stole a glance from the edge of his vision and saw the thoughtful expression that she turned toward the moon. Softening his tone, he added, "I never protected you because of the Jewel. And it was only because of your miko powers in the very beginning." Fixing her with his steady gaze he continued pointedly, "Decide to do something because you want to. Not because it is expected or proper, but because it is what you desire."

"What would you do if you were me?" she asked suddenly. It was meant as a clear challenge to his words since the last time she asked him this question, he refused to answer.

Biting back a smile, he turned to her and met her cynical gaze. "I would remain in the House of the Moon and do everything that the great Sesshomaru commanded of me."

Kagome's eyes went wide for a brief second before laughter bubbled to the surface, washing away the rest of her anger and replacing it with the comfortable ease that had come to define their growing relationship. She pushed against his immovable shoulder with her hand, mirth dancing through the air like music. As her giggles died out, she caught his heated gaze. "What?"

He only shook his head and reached out, wrapping a long arm around her and dragging her across the smooth wood until she sat right next to him. Leaning down, he fairly growled into her ear, "Laughing at the great Sesshomaru is not permitted."

She pulled her head back and met his eyes unflinchingly, "If I can't laugh then what am I permitted to do when he says ridiculous things?"

Leaning into her, the smell of sandalwood and pine filled her senses. Their noses were nearly touching as his husky voice brushed over her like a caress, the tension in the air thickening, "I never say ridiculous things."

Her brilliant smile lit the space between them and she cocked her head slightly, "Too bad. A little ridiculous never hurt anyone."

"Says the miko that throws herself into danger to protect youkai…on more than one occasion I might add."

She leaned her head against his shoulder and quipped back without hesitating, "Says the taiyoukai that saves that same miko from certain death…on more than one occasion."

With a grunt, he relaxed and together they watched the moon rise high into the sky.

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 47 of 60

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