Continuing Tales

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 51 of 60

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Absence diminishes small loves and increases great ones, as the wind blows out the candle and fans the bonfire. ~François Duc de La Rochefoucauld

Kagome waited for the warm reception, but it never came. After an increasingly awkward pause of her hugging him, but him not hugging back, she separated herself and looked up at Hiraiku who had yet to move a muscle. When he only stared, she gripped the lapels of his black suit and shook gently.

"Hey, aren't you glad to see me too?" she asked with a tight smile, even as worry began to creep into the back of her mind.

"Um,.. yes. O..of course I am," he stuttered. Glancing around the hallway, he gently removed her hands from his coat and stepped back. "What're you doing here?" he asked absently, eyes flitting in every direction but at her.

Frowning, she watched him carefully, noting that his expression was closed. Distress clearly written into the lines of his face. "I'm here on a tour with my class," she answered defensively. "We were invited," she added almost as an afterthought.

She could almost see thoughts whirl through his brain when he suddenly locked in on something tangible. With a groan, he pinched the bridge of his wide nose with two meaty fingers. "Damn it Hoshi," he muttered under his breath.

Kagome's heart tripped wildly, "Hoshi?! Is she here too?"

Hiraiku fixed her with a pleading stare. "Yes," he answered hesitantly. Grabbing her elbow gently, he steered her down the hall and back toward the front of the house. "But right now, you have to leave."

Digging her heels in, she sputtered indignantly, "Wait, why?" When Hiraiku didn't answer, she pulled uselessly against his iron grip, "Hiraiku stop! What the heck? What's wrong with you?"

He hauled her through the house quickly, pausing at the door that led back to the courtyard. Pulling her in front of him, he wrapped her in a tight hug long enough to whisper softly, "I'm beyond happy to see you Kagome. Truly I am. Please take care of yourself."

Faster than she could blink, she was shoved out into the courtyard and the door shut firmly at her back. Her classmates were already loading into the bus. Professor Takahama glanced around and caught sight of her by the front door. His eyes went wide with relief and he waved frantically for her to join them. Slowly, she descended the stairs and crossed the courtyard to the bus. Perplexed and bleak, she turned back to the House of the Moon and could feel Hiraiku watching her from the shadows, making sure she boarded the bus and left. What she couldn't understand was why he seemed so uneasy in her presence, or how he could be so indifferent to seeing her again. After all, it had been over 500 years for him. Even though she had never sought the fate of her friends, she had always had it in the back of her mind the possibility of meeting with them again. In that secret part that she never acknowledged, she envisioned a far different reunion if she had.

Choking back tears, she turned and climbed aboard the bus. It was a long ride home as she tried to figure out what could have possibly happened to make Hiraiku push her out of the House of the Moon like she was a leper. His desire to escape her presence stung like a hornet directly against her beating heart.

Just as they were pulling into the parking lot of the university, a thought crashed down from somewhere high above her normal plane of understanding. Evaporating like mist, the foggy confusion was chased aside by dawning realization. Cold dread circled her heart only to be replaced by white hot anger a moment later. 'That's it!'

She sat up in her chair and drove a fist into her thigh, startling the people around her. "Dammit Sesshomaru!" she snarled at the high back of the seat in front of her.

"Look," she sighed tiredly, "I know you've told me every day this week that there's no Hiraiku or Hoshi that work there, or that it isn't even called the House of the Moon anymore, but if you'd just let me describe them to you, you might know who I'm talking about. I'm sure they go by a different name now." Kagome huffed as another excuse was calmly uttered through the phone.

"Listen, could you just have the huge guy that works there call me. He looks like a bear. Burly, gigantic. Kinda like a landmass." She slammed her hand against the table in frustration, "You have to know who I'm talking about!"

Another polite excuse and the line disconnected. Kagome slammed her cell phone down on the kitchen table next to her other hand. Dropping her head back she yelled at no one in particular about stubborn youkai.

It was the following Saturday and Kagome was spending the morning working her way through an exceptionally hard passage of one of her research books when a knock startled her out of her concentrated stupor. Now that she was firmly settled into her apartment, she had been waiting for Sota to stop by and help her move her sofa and dresser. Absently, she grabbed her notebook and carried it to the door as she scribbled notes down about a possible Shinto shrine in the north that had some interesting history vaguely similar to Midoriko.

Unlocking the door, she opened it and glanced up absently, "It took you long enough…" Trailing off, she blinked at the massive pair of shoulders that seemed to take up the entire hallway. The pair of behemoths appeared to be hunched in the confined space, their uneasy expressions showing how uncomfortable they felt. Kagome immediately recognized them from her meeting with the Lotus Foundation earlier in the semester and was surprised to see the burly men standing outside her small apartment.

Bewildered, she asked, "Can I help you?"

The largest one pinned her with an intent stare, "We need you to come with us. There's someone who would like a word with you."

Stepping back, she clutched her notebook firmly across her chest to hide the rapid beating of her heart. "Who?"

With a sly smile, he answered in a low voice that sent ripples of fear down her back. "I believe it is an old friend of yours…with very little patience."

Her heart leapt into her throat. 'How dare he?!' she thought with annoyance. She had returned four years ago and spent the first waiting for one of her friends to find her. Any of them. Regardless of how she left, she had hoped that they would still seek her out, at least care enough to know how she was doing. When the weeks turned into months, she felt the despair creep in and overtake her cheerful disposition until one day she woke up to a tear soaked pillow and realized she had not left her room for two weeks. It was that morning that her grandfather had fallen and broken his hip after he slipped off a ladder in the storeroom. He had lain there for hours alone and in pain before her mother had come home from a morning full of errands. Kagome had never gotten over the guilt of her selfish wallowing. That day she vowed to pick herself up and never look back.

"You know, I'll have to respectfully decline. Have a nice day." Shutting the door, she locked it before she could lose her nerve. She made it halfway back to the table before an insistent knock sounded again. Sighing, she dropped her notebook and pen on the table and turned toward the door with hands on her hips. "Go away!" she yelled loud enough for them to hear her.

A grumble sounded through the door followed by another low mumble. She waited and was met with a brief silence before another knock, this one shaking the door precariously.

She rushed forward and wrenched it open. "If you don't go, I'm gonna call the cops. Do you hear me!?"

The giant man merely shrugged. "We have orders miss. We have to bring you back with us."

She stared at him, weighing her options. He seemed tense, waiting to see what her next move would be. Crossing her arms over her chest, she glared first at one man, then the other just outside the door. "What if I refuse?"

The first looked over his shoulder at the other man. He looked back and shrugged a massive shoulder. It was like a wall moving on an invisible wave. "Our employer doesn't take no as an answer. We have to deliver you, one way or another."

She sucked in a breath at his insinuation. She went to close the door quickly but his hand stopped it easily. She stared at the splayed palm, his fingers almost as thick as her wrist. Fear shot to the surface and she let go of the door with a shaking hand. The two men shifted uncomfortably but said nothing. Not sure what else to do, she grumbled, "Fine, but I'm leaving a note for my family so they know where to send the homicide detectives." The closest giant cocked his head to the side, giving her an odd look. She grabbed her coat and keys after scribbling a quick message and followed the men out.

Stepping outside of her building, the fierce autumn wind blew, chilling her to the marrow in an instant. Clutching her coat, she looked up and saw a large black limo parked ominously along the curb. Feeling like she was suddenly in the middle of a mob movie, she bit back a hysterical laugh. Glancing around, she felt a gentle pressure at the small of her back. They walked to the sleek car and she watched as if in a dream as the door was opened by the smaller of her giant abductors, and she was urged in with an ease that both shocked and amused her muddled mind.

They pulled away from the curb and sped along the roads of Tokyo in silence. The shade was drawn so she couldn't see the driver, but they navigated the roads with an ease that spoke of skill and experience. The buildings gave way to trees until they were climbing high into the hills. She must have held her breath the last few miles because as she was helped out of the car, air rushed into her lungs and she swayed slightly. A large hand steadied her, but released contact almost immediately. Gesturing with a meaty hand, she was ushered into the House of the Moon and through the hallways until they reached a small room at the end of a hallway she had never known existed. Stopping in front of a white door, she stared at the beautiful inlaid purple crescent moon that spanned its width.

Flanked on either side by her giant escorts, she reached out and traced the beautiful carving with her fingertips. A soft voice called out from within and one of her companions eased the elegant door open. Kagome looked up into his eyes and saw a hint of a smile in his stoic features. With a deep breath, she forced herself to walk forward. A dark head was bent over a mahogany desk that faced away from the door toward the window ahead. When it rose, a strangled cry escaped Kagome's tense lips. Rushing forward, she stopped as the woman stood and turned around, pinning her with lavender eyes. Kagome felt rooted to the spot as if in a dream.

A smile broke over the other woman's face and held a small pale hand against her chest. "It's about damn time!"

Tears sprang to Kagome's eyes and she closed the distance in a few steps. Wrapping arms around each other, Kagome broke into a watery smile as she whispered, "Hoshi."

The women laughed and drank tea, catching up on small talk. After a short time, the mood settled into a slightly awkward dance around the elephant in the room until the words finally tumbled out of Kagome's mouth in a jumble of tear soaked anguish.

"Why didn't you come to find me? Where have you been for the past four years? How is everyone?"

Hoshi took Kagome's hand and squeezed it comfortingly. "Hush child, all will be explained. I promise."

When Kagome had quelled the shuttering tears that had overtaken her control, she was finally able to meet Hoshi's patient gaze.

Drawing in a long breath, Hoshi started from the beginning.

"After you left, the house wasn't quite the same. Several youkai from the north came to the castle and demanded compensation for the loss of their taiyoukai. There was unrest for several years and we all feared an all-out challenge to the West. Luckily it never came." Hoshi refilled her tea and sipped the steaming liquid. Her eyes shined like lavender chrome as the faraway memories played behind the luminous orbs. She smiled slyly and continued, "Then Rin turned eighteen and the world seemed to tip on its end." Raising her gaze to Kagome, she held the other woman's curious stare with a mischievous glint. "She met a local farm boy that lived a few miles away and it wasn't long before she was over the moon in love and there was nothing any of us could do about it." Hoshi laughed, the husky sound brought warmth to Kagome as she drank in her old friend's presence.

"How did that go over?" Kagome asked, smiling back.

Hoshi's gaze focused in a serious moment, "How do you think? I thought the poor boy would be gutted right in front of us. Luckily, Hiraiku interceded and kept him alive long enough for good sense to intercede." Hoshi stood and pulled Kagome to her feet.

As they left the small room, they paced leisurely through the hallways as Hoshi told Kagome all about the boy, named Keigo, and the sweet love story that befell Rin. Kagome felt the hot sting of tears behind her eyes, but she held them in check. Hoshi had yet to mention Sesshomaru, Kagome noticed anxiously. She wondered why and before she knew it, the words slipped out quietly as they turned down a familiar hallway. "How is he?"

She held her breath as Hoshi stopped and kept her eyes averted. The thunder of her heart escalated at the other woman's silence and Kagome barely heard her muttered answer over the staccato beat.

"I hardly know."

The forlorn expression tugged at Kagome's heart. Taking the older woman's hand, she ducked her head to meet her gaze. "What do you mean? He's still alive isn't he?"

Hoshi's laugh was brittle. "If that's what you want to call it." Drawing Kagome's arm through her own, she started walking again until they reached Kagome's old room. Sliding the door open, she walked through and Kagome paused at the threshold, marveling at the sense of déjà vu.

It had been 4 years, but it seemed like only yesterday. Memories long since repressed rushed to the fore, drowning Kagome with their bittersweet longing. Following Hoshi, Kagome paced through the dark room until she came to stand at the wide window seat. She ran her hand over the polished surface as the sound of Hoshi's low humming replayed in her mind. Wiping a stray tear, she turned and found Hoshi regarding her with a closed expression. When Hoshi turned to the door, Kagome spoke the words that had never quite made it past her intensely guarded inner walls. "Thank you for keeping me sane during those first few months."

The words seemed to stop Hoshi cold as she was preparing to open the heavy door to the back garden. Looking up with an arrested stare, she only blinked as her mouth opened slightly. Kagome gave her a small smile, tears glittering in the dim light. "I would have lost myself if you hadn't reached into the darkness to pull me out."

Straightening, Hoshi nodded. "You know… you never told me what happened to you. What that wretched beast did."

Kagome held her gaze, neither saying a word as dust particles danced through the beams of sunlight that pierced through the edge of the screens. "He never told you?" she finally asked.

Understanding lit Hoshi's pale gaze and Kagome could see the truth as it passed across her features. "He told me once that he knew. That the Crown had shown it to him during those few moments that you were bonded together. But when I asked, he told me that they weren't his memories to tell, nor did I really want to know because it would anger me." Hoshi held her gaze solidly, "Whatever it was that happened to you, it affected him. That's all I know for certain."

Kagome swallowed the lump in her throat. The ache in her heart was almost unbearable as she pictured Sesshomaru's face, imagining his stoic features in her mind. A shutter ran through her when Hoshi pulled the door to the garden open, spilling light into the room in a blinding rush. Blinking, Kagome peered around the edge of the door tentatively, afraid that it would look different, but more afraid that it would look exactly the same. Steeling herself, she walked out onto the wide porch and surveyed the wild tangles that had become the garden. It was nothing like it had once looked and she choked back her inevitable disappointment. Bracing herself against one of the thick pillars that held up the shingled room of the porch, she whispered sadly, "What happened?"

Hoshi's grave face said it all. "He laid waste to it the day he returned from the well."

Kagome's head jerked to the side. "He went to the well? When?" she hated herself for the sudden hope that colored her insides, voice sounding like a traitorous second personality that was trying to take over her body.

"About a week after you left. He was gone for only a day but when he returned, he came here and destroyed everything. Then he banned all to come here or enter your room ever again." It was what Hoshi didn't say that broke Kagome's heart all over again.

"He forbid you to find me too, didn't he?" Kagome was holding her bleeding heart together by sheer will, but she could feel herself hemorrhaging, same as she did four years ago as she walked out of the courtyard and from a life that had become her everything.

Hoshi's voice was low, shame evident in the single word. "Yes."

Anger seared her like flame. "When have you ever listened to him, Hoshi? Or maybe you agreed with him?" Kagome turned and walked back into the room, pushing a chair aside as she nearly ran to the door.

Hoshi followed quickly, her legs closing the distance easily. Grabbing her arm, she tugged at Kagome. "I've tried to reason with him. You have no idea how many times Kagome." Pulling her to a stop, Hoshi stepped in front of her and grabbed her shoulders. "He barely even speaks to me anymore because of it."

For the first time, Kagome saw Hoshi's own pain simmering just below the surface. "So what, the Lotus Foundation is your way of absolving yourself of any guilt?"

Hoshi shook her head. "It was the only way I could have any contact with you. To keep track of you until I could change his mind." Wrapping her arms around Kagome, she squeezed her tightly. "I couldn't think of any other way."

Pushing away, Kagome met her eyes directly. "Did you invite my class here?"

"Of course I did. I was hoping you'd figure it all out." Brushing Kagome's hair back from her face, Hoshi smiled wryly, "He can't kill me if you figure it out on your own."

Kagome snorted, "Yeah, he'll just kill me."

Hoshi laughed. "No, he wouldn't. If he'd wanted to do that, he wouldn't have spent the first 100 years after you left finding out ways to buy up all of the land that any shrine sat upon in Edo."

Kagome swayed on her feet slightly. "You mean it's true? Sesshomaru is our shrine's benefactor? He's the famous Yamamoto that everyone keeps talking about?"

Hoshi nodded her head and turned to lead Kagome back toward the front of the house. "Yes. He's the famous Yamamoto, head of the largest weapon and security corporation in Japan."

Kagome nearly tripped as Hoshi went on to explain that Sesshomaru had built up one of the greatest empires in the Asian world. Over the centuries, he had Shizuka, Hiraiku and Hoshi all play vital roles in disguising all of their immortality, taking on the role of a Yamamoto at one time or another. Currently, Sesshomaru was in America working on a deal with a software firm that would become the leading standard in cyber warfare. Kagome barely contained her disbelief.

"When did he start caring about the human world?"

A pained look crossed Hoshi's eyes. "Since Rin and her family were killed by war. I thought it would be what finally drove him away from the human world, but instead it seemed to only propel him more firmly into it." They reached the massive door that led out to the courtyard. Turning to her, Hoshi tilted her head slightly, "He may not have come to find you, but it isn't a coincidence that there's both a firehouse and police station less than a mile from your shrine. Not to mention a newly created security division now assigned to the same district in east Tokyo that your new apartment is located."

Kagome nearly choked again on the tears that threatened. Her hand found the blue scarf that hung from her neck and she gripped it firmly. Clearing her throat, she drew Hoshi into a warm embrace, grateful for the information that finally answered some of the questions that had plagued her over the years. "He's such a stubborn ass."

Hoshi laughed and hugged Kagome tightly. "Stubborn doesn't even begin to describe our Yama." They released each other and Kagome felt the tension she had been holding onto for four years start to slip away.

They stepped onto the front porch and came to an abrupt stop. A sleek white BMW was pulling through the large gate; its tinted windows obscured the driver from view. Hiraiku stepped around the front of the limo and cursed just as Hoshi held an arm out in front of Kagome and groaned.

Kagome looked at her friends and then back at the car as it came to a stop in the middle of the courtyard. Hiraiku moved so quickly that Kagome barely saw him. The next thing she knew she was being hauled into the limo, his voice low as he told her to be silent and his massive hands slammed the door with jarring pressure, rocking the entire car with its force.

She watched in trembling horror as Sesshomaru stepped from the elegant car, his perfectly tailored suit hugging his powerful form to perfection. Hair just brushing the collar of his shirt, he looked the same, yet remarkably different than her memories. He glanced at Hiraiku by the car and over to Hoshi. She could see his eyes narrow at them and she held her breath. Her heart slammed in her chest, urging her to get out of the car. Something primal stopped her, alerting her that it wasn't the time or place for their reunion. She watched as words were exchanged between the three before he started toward the castle. As he climbed the stairs Hiraiku got into the driver's seat and started the limo. He pulled the car forward, not too fast, but also not as slow as he normally might have if circumstances were different.

Kagome craned her neck to watch as Sesshomaru passed Hoshi, stopping suddenly. His hand shot out to grab Hoshi's arm and the housekeeper's worried gaze flickered to the retreating limo. Kagome held her breath as he lifted her palm to his face. In a blur of Armani and silver, he slammed a fist down in the middle of the hood of the limo as it jerked to halt just under the massive gate. Kagome tumbled off the seat, landing in a heap on the floor. The engine made a whining sound, sputtering and hissing as steam rose from under the hood. A huge dent was in the center, crumpled hopelessly where his fist rested.

She heard Sesshomaru's angry command muffled through the steel and glass. "Shut it down Hiraiku…before I decide to kill you instead of merely beat you senseless."

Kagome was just getting back onto the seat when the door was wrenched open and fierce golden eyes nearly burned her in their intensity.

"H..hi Sesshomaru," she barely forced out through the tremors that shook her soul. His eyes narrowed and she thought with sullen despair, 'After everything, I'm going to die in the back seat of a car. How depressing.'

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 51 of 60

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