Continuing Tales

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 59 of 60

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He stood in the middle of his penthouse bedroom in the dim light of dawn. The bed sat untouched and avoided, a keen reminder of the one thing he wanted to escape most. With nimble fingers, Sesshomaru tied a perfect Windsor knot at his neck and stared at the bed glumly. A gray T-shirt lay strewn across the far pillow where she had left it.

Turning away, he shrugged on his perfectly tailored Italian suit to complete the façade of CEO and corporate power player. He settled his shoulders against the tightness that always sucked the oxygen from his lungs. It had been months since he last spent more than a few minutes in the master bedroom of his city home. 'Since the last morning...' Something itched along his skin and he recognized the familiar impatience to get out of the room and away from silent memories that only served one purpose. Grabbing his watch from the dresser, he left the memories behind, shutting them away for the time being.

Hiraiku waited patiently in the kitchen, looking up as Sesshomaru walked briskly across the tile floor. He watched his overlord turned friend with a critical eye. He seemed more tired than normal.

"Perhaps you should take today off, Sensei. Your brother can handle the initial negotiation."

The taiyoukai paused and looked at Hiraiku with narrowed eyes. "And why would I do that?"

Hiraiku steeled himself and spoke clearly, refusing to be silent when he was only concerned. Of course, he would rather not have his arms torn off so kept his words general, "I merely wish the acquisition of this new company to go smoothly." He bowed in respect before adding, "The first day is all posturing anyway."

Grunting, Sesshomaru glared at Hiraiku, not fooled for a moment. It was odd to watch his family be both angry and worried at the same time. Keeping up the front that kept them at arm's length, he grabbed his perfectly cut wool coat and slung it over his arm. "Let's go, Hiraiku."

Sighing in resignation, the large bear youkai grabbed his own coat and mumbled, "Yes sir."

The same morning…

It had been a few weeks since the incident at the House of the Moon and Kagome was forcing her life back into a routine. However, this time she had her friends and school. It did not seem to require the herculean effort.

She slipped into the back of a lecture hall and crept to the nearest empty seat. She had been running late that morning, on an exam day no less, and had to dash across campus to make her next class after struggling to finish a particularly brutal essay portion. She had been so preoccupied with her test and then getting to her next class, she didn't even notice the buzz floating through the air. The dim lights brought the giant projection screen at the front of the room into sharp contrast. There, larger than life was an enormous white dog soaring through the air over a village far below, and in his mouth was an equally large dragon. Her lungs seized as she stared at the beautifully stitched tapestry of Sesshomaru's father. Her hands grasped her notebook tightly as her professor recounted the ancient tale of a great dog demon that protected humans from other demons.

"The great dog demon died soon after this battle according to the myth, and there was a resurgence of evil throughout Japan," he went on as he flipped through slide after slide of youkai ravaging humans. He flipped through a few more until he stopped on a final image.

Kagome made a noise that caused several people to turn and look at her briefly until they were drawn back to the beautiful image saturating the screen. "This tapestry just became available to the public from a private collection." The professor stared at it a moment before pulling himself together. It was of a large white dog curled around the top of a mountain, its red eyes staring at the viewer with defiance and a touch of uncertainty. Its massive paw curled around a single lotus flower as a crescent moon hung overhead. Dotting the mountain were small villages, large forests and streams that flourished with animals.

Kagome's eyes were riveted to the dog's eyes until her professor's voice cut through the cluttered thoughts tumbling through her mind. Some of the small stitched characters were being debated among the historical community as to their meaning and significance. He flipped the slide to a detail shot in the lower right corner of a beautiful woman with long black hair and a staff. She was looking up at the dog as she held a small round object in the other hand. Kagome recognized Hoshi and the sweet sadness that enveloped her pose.

The professor speculated as to her identity, none of which was even close to the truth. If Kagome hadn't been so shocked at the discovery of such a familiar piece of her own personal history, she would have had a hard time not laughing at the conversations being had around her. The professor gained the classes attention by announcing the next slide with excitement.

"This next slide is a detail shot of a small village at the base of the mountain. As you are about to see, there is obvious meaning here, but it will likely take several long years of research and analysis to discover the truth behind these images…if ever." He flipped the image and the class sat in silence. Most wouldn't see what the few who knew a lot about feudal Japan would see. A lone well sat in the center of a small village, lovingly tended to compared to the other homes and structures of the village. Protective sutras were strung all around the rim and flowers dressed the bottom. Just beyond the well was a young family near a small house closest to the well. A man in purple with a gold staff, a beautiful woman with long brown hair and four small children played in the summer sunshine, their happiness evident by the smiles and laughing faces.

She took all this in at an instance, but it was the form along the tree line that captured her. Hiding among the trees on the outer edge of the village was a shadowy figure that was only visible to those that looked for it. The tall form stood with a bowed head, a hand resting on the hilt of one of two swords strapped to his hip. His long hair curled slightly in a soft breeze and the only color that showed in his form was the vibrant few stitches of his eyes that glowed like sunshine.

Before Kagome knew what she was doing, she stood up and raised her hand. When her professor paused, she asked with a shaky voice, "Who is the artist?"

He pushed his glasses up his nose with a look of regret. "It is unsigned, and regretfully the history of the piece is unknown."

Kagome pressed on, the desperation evident in her voice and pale features, "Who owns it?"

Her professor blinked, bemused by her obvious emotions over the answer. "It came from a woman who resides in France. She only said that it had been in her family as long as she could remember. Kira Shizuka, I believe was the name."

Kagome nodded shakily and sat back down, or maybe her legs just gave out. Her eyes never left the screen as she sorted through turbulent suspicions. 'Could it be a coincidence?'

When the class finally ended, she gathered her things and left the building, mind focused on the new riddle before her. The tapestry had to have been made by a member of the House of the Moon, but who? 'Shizuka?' She stopped to dig her phone out of her bag when the buzz of excitement around her finally made it through stumbling thoughts.

"Do you know what it means? It seems like a riddle or something…" a young woman said to her friend as they hustled toward the bus stop at the corner.

Kagome looked around and saw groups of people huddled together, some staring at their cell phones, others holding bright orange pieces of papers. The one thing they all had in common was the confused and speculative looks on their faces. A few were pointing to a poster on the side of the bus stop ahead of her, their bodies blocking it from view. She was about to shrug it off when a large truck drove by, its pace slower than usual for that time of day. Hand around her phone; she was pulling it out of her bag when she turned toward the truck, which happened to have a large billboard strapped to the bed. She started to read the words on the sign, her interest piqued when suddenly the message stopped her cold.

The wind has gone, and the mountain will spend a lifetime mourning her.

She watched the truck until it turned the corner and lumbered to its next destination. Rooted to the spot, she noticed a tumbling orange piece of paper cross the street and stop at her feet. Stooping down, she picked it up and read the same message. There was no signature or identifying aspect, only the simple message that made no sense to anyone but a handful of individuals who had known each other for centuries.

She listened to the chatter around her as she slowly made her way to the bus stop. It seemed to be the talk of campus as student after student came and went from the corner. Kagome realized that her own bus must have come and gone before she finally snapped out of it long enough to climb aboard the next to pull up to the curb. Sitting close to the back, she looked up and noticed that all of the advertising had been changed to the mysterious message. Glancing out the window, she saw more and more of the messages, covering every available surface, taped to light poles, wrapping buses, and digital signs gleaming in the afternoon light from the side of buildings. 'It's everywhere.'

A couple sat in front of her and she heard the girl say as she pointed to one of the signs, "Would you do something like this for me?"

The man laughed uneasily, "Do you know how much all this cost?" he waved a hand toward the top of the bus that was covered with the message, "I couldn't do it even if I wanted to." He put his arm around the girl and leaned into her with a sly smile, "Besides, it's probably just some movie promo or something."

"Ugh!" The girl grumped and crossed her arms over her chest as she stared at the sign above her, "How'd I get stuck with the least romantic boyfriend in the world?"

Kagome stared at the sign too. Her heart had yet to slow down as she tried to make sense of the past hour. Her stop came and went as she thought about what she felt and what she wanted. Her brother's words rang in her head and she glanced at the orange paper in her hands. 'If you want it, you can't be afraid to reach out and take it.'

Another thought hit her like a bolt of lightning. She pulled her phone out and dialed a familiar number. It rang only once before Hoshi's dulcet tone answered. "Hello darling."

"Did you do this Hoshi?" her voice was perhaps a little sharp, but she felt as though her head would explode if answers did not start quelling the roaring questions jammed into every available space of her cranium. The couple tossed her an odd look before turning back around and murmuring to each other.

There was a pause before Hoshi answered somewhat bewildered, "Do what? What are you talking about?" A slight pause more before her voice seemed to sharpen, "Is everything alright?"

Puffing out a breath, Kagome whispered fiercely into the phone, "This message all over the place. Did you do this hoping I would think it was Sesshomaru?"

"Kagome, I have no idea what you're talking about. What message? Where are you?"

Impatiently, she gestured to the window even though Hoshi could not see her, "All over Tokyo, Hoshi. It's everywhere and it reeks of something you'd totally do!"

Hoshi's tone took on one of affront, "Child, I've been in Hong Kong for two days. I have no idea what you're talking about and I would appreciate you not blaming me for something that I didn't do. You know I'd admit to it if I did."

Kagome's heart jumped. "Do you promise that this wasn't you?"

Hoshi chuckled, "My darling, I don't even know what this is."

"Okay. I'll talk to you later. Bye."

She hung up her phone and stared out the window again. Was this for her? Was he telling her that he missed her? Or was she just grasping at the last vestige of hope by latching on to a set of circumstances that have nothing to do with her. 'That sounds more like it,' she thought darkly. Another billboard flashed and she drew a shallow breath against the feeling of her heart creeping into her throat. She needed to know. Digging through her bag, she found a crumpled piece of paper. It was the letter from the Lotus Foundation with that handwritten number at the bottom. She dialed it quickly and waited with baited breath.

"Yamamoto Technologies, Yamamoto-san's office, how may I help you?"

Kagome blinked and stuttered, "Um, can you give me your address?"

The lady on the other line read off an address in the heart of Tokyo that Kagome scribbled down quickly. "Thanks," she said and hung up a minute before her phone flashed a low battery signal. Sending a silent prayer up, she glanced out the window to her surroundings.

At the next stop, she climbed down to the pavement and looked around. She had no idea where she was, only that she was somewhere in the general vicinity of her apartment building. She flagged down the next taxi. Shoving the paper up to the small window, she asked breathlessly, "Take me here as soon as you can, please."

The cabbie glanced at the address and nodded. He pulled away from the curb and sped along the streets as the wind picked up and thunder rumbled overhead. It was the first thunderstorm of the spring.

A short time later, they pulled up to a large and imposing building. It climbed into the sky like a mountain and she had to smile at the irony. It was only fitting that Sesshomaru would build something so impressive for his modern empire. It was strength incarnate.

She ran across the courtyard to the large set of doors that led into the main lobby as the rain started to fall. Once inside, she felt overwhelmed by the simple grandeur, its understated beauty so much like the owner. The lobby was busy as people hurried to and from, oblivious to the young woman that seemed so small and out of place. Taking a deep breath, she steeled herself against growing anxiety as she walked to the large desk along the far wall.

A beautiful blond smiled as she finished a phone call and hung up. "May I help you?"

"Um yes. I am looking for Sess…" she stopped herself quickly and cleared her throat, "I mean, Yamamoto-san. I need to speak with him."

The woman looked at her speculatively, "Do you have an appointment?"

Chewing her lower lip, she hedged, "Um, no, but I'm an old friend. I can wait if he's busy."

The woman smiled again, though this time it was apologetic. "I'm sorry, but without an appointment, I can't let you upstairs."

Her shoulders slumped. She was about to turn around when a familiar voice drifted toward her.

"Kagome-chan, is it really you?" a soft voice with a French accent had her turning.

Shizuka was crossing the lobby with a genuine smile, her hands held out in welcome.

Kagome started forward, her own surprise must have been evident as the fox youkai laughed musically a moment before enveloping her in a warm embrace.

"I'm so happy to see you, my dearest girl. It has been too long." She leaned back and met Kagome's eyes, "Are you here to see Sesshomaru?"

"I was hoping to, but they won't let me upstairs."

Shizuka's eyes narrowed and she glanced over Kagome's shoulder. "Nonsense! I'll take you up myself." She stared at the lovely blond as they walked by and the woman visibly paled.

Kagome stopped Shizuka with a gentle hand. "She was only doing her job. I don't want her getting in trouble for that."

The young woman looked back and forth between Kagome and Shizuka. The fox only shrugged and nodded before turning back to the elevators. Kagome looked back at the blond and smiled. The other woman mouthed a thank you with a relieved expression.

Running after Shizuka, they stopped at an elevator at the far left. To Kagome's surprise, no one else from the crowd entered when the doors opened. When the door closed, she looked at Shizuka, "Why didn't anyone else get on with us?"

"This elevator only goes to the executive level on the top floor," she added the last with a knowing look.

She swiped a small gold card in a reader before pressing the single button. The elevator shot up like a rocket. Grabbing the rail, Kagome sucked in a breath at the forces pushing against her stomach. She always hated that weighted sensation, particularly at a time like this when her nerves were frayed. Shizuka chuckled again.

Keeping her wits about her, she looked over at the other woman and asked the question that had been picking at the inside of her brain all day. "Did you just loan a tapestry to the University?"

Shizuka's smile never faltered. "I loaned it to a museum that is allowing the university to study it."

Kagome digested that information and then asked, "Did you make it?"

Shizuka's smile dulled a bit and she seemed to have to swallow before answering, "Rin and I made that tapestry after you left." She looked back at Kagome and her smile returned to its full warmth, "I like to share a little bit of Rin with the world when I can. She loved all of us so much. Her design and passion went into it. I merely provided her with an extra set of hands, some spun silk and lots of encouragement."

Taking Kagome's hand, she squeezed it as the elevator finally came to a slow stop and chimed musically. "She was still a child when you were with us, but she saw more than most of us like to admit. She watched as he mourned the loss of you until the day she died. It broke her heart and she always hoped that you would find us again and bring back peace to the only father she knew." Guiding Kagome off the elevator, she stopped before a set of glass doors. "We all hope for that, even now."

With an encouraging nudge, she whispered, "Last door on the left."

Kagome started forward when she heard Shizuka call out as she got back into the elevator, "And Kagome," she waited for the younger woman to meet her eyes before smiling, "be firm about your beliefs, but keep you heart open to change. It's the key to everything you need to know about relationships."

The door closed and Kagome stared at her own reflection in the polished steel. Her courage faltered for a brief heartbeat before she steeled her spine and spun on her heel. 'I won't run away again,' she told herself as she pushed through the glass doors and into a quiet, but tense office space. Mahogany walls and desk furniture gave it a masculine ambiance while the charcoal, cream and blue fabrics softened the décor, the space had a solid and capable feeling of warmth. 'It's just his style,' she thought wryly.

She moved forward, looking to her left and right as she passed offices, mostly with closed doors, though a few were open to reveal large austere spaces with important looking people meeting or talking on the phone. She hesitated, unsure of whether she should wait for someone to greet her, or if she should just barge in on Sesshomaru and hope he didn't throttle her for showing up uninvited.

The orange flyer was still gripped in her hand and she glanced down at the wrinkled and battered hope contained in her fist. She had come this far…

With resolve edging the fear out by a fraction, she walked purposefully to the last door on the left and gripped the knob. With a deep breath, she turned the knob and walked in. "I know I didn't call, but I…" she trailed off as she looked around the large room. It was empty.

Disappointment flooded her immediately as she shut the door quietly and walked into the room, marveling at its beauty. His desk sat facing the door on the right, its massiveness impossible to ignore. Large television screens covered the wall opposite to the floor to ceiling windows, each displaying charts and graphs labeled by country that updated constantly by a live feed. A massive set of double doors were closed behind the desk set off slightly to the left. In front of the desk was a large seating area of the finest leather and granite tables positioned in a circle for conversation. Turning around slowly, Kagome dropped her bag and jacket into the nearest chair on her way to inspect the desk and the item hanging on the wall above it in a solid looking glass case.

Marveling at seeing it in such an open place, Kagome smiled at Tokijin, gleaming as it rested on an intricate stand suspended directly above Sesshomaru's chair. It was an obvious show of power, though most would never realize that he could actually use the weapon. She had asked once, when they were lying in bed, if he still had both blades, but he never answered. Now she knew that he kept his past, his heritage, close by. He would never be able to walk away from it. If she was honest, she did not want him to. It was too important to him. She understood that now.

Running her hand along the buttery smooth surface of the desk, she crossed around to the back and stared at the black leather chair, wondering if he ever sat there and thought about her. About them. Her eyes drifted over the chair and noticed a suit jacket slung over the back. Without thinking, she dropped the orange flyer onto the desk and pulled it from the chair with a whisper of fine wool against cowhide. Holding it to her face, she closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. Pine and sandalwood, safety and strength, comfort and passion all converged to her chest, pushing against her until she could barely stay upright.

Turning back to the middle of the room, she swung the coat around her and pulled her arms through the over-sized sleeves. Wrapping it around her closely, she sunk into one of the leather chairs that sat perpendicular to the desk, its high back angled away from the double doors and wall of windows that looked out onto the city. Curling her slender frame into a ball, she waited, breathing in his scent. She recognized the irony that it took her the longest to figure out that she would take him any way she could get him. He would never be a typical mate and the sooner she came to accept that, the sooner she could move past this obstinate reluctance and move forward. Even if they never married, he was not the type to break promises. If he promised to love her forever, she could count on that being the truth.

Sitting in the silence, she thought about everything she wanted to say to him. What she wanted him to say back. Through a mixture of equal parts dread and excitement, she was lulled by the softly ticking clock on his desk into a dream-filled sleep.

A short time later, the double doors opened and shut quietly. An exhausted figure strode silently to a small table near the desk to pour a glass of century old scotch.

Kagome came awake to the sound of movement, clinking glass and the splash of liquid. She opened her eyes and saw a shadow cast against the far wall, recognizing in an instant that it was Sesshomaru. Frozen to the spot, incapable of speech or movement, she watched as the shadow turned and moved to sit at the desk.

Peeking around the side of the chair, she saw him holding the orange paper, staring at it strangely. His hair was slightly ruffled, eyes tired as he sat in just a dress shirt with sleeves rolled up to the elbows. His tie had been pulled loose and hung limply to one side. Her heart sped up as she felt an overpowering need to smooth the wrinkle in his brow away. As though a magnet was attached to her, she uncurled from the chair and stood up to face him.

She could tell the exact moment that he realized that she was there because the room became deathly still. "Kagome," he whispered faintly.

Sesshomaru sat at his desk, convinced he was either hallucinating from exhaustion or dreaming. He had spent the last six hours in a meeting trying to hammer out a partnership deal with a small, but exceptionally talented software company. It had come up quickly and he had been focused on it ever since. It was a welcome reprieve, giving him something other than Kagome to obsess over. Wrapping up negotiations for the day in the boardroom next door, he came back into the sanctuary of his office. The moment he had walked in, he felt something comforting wash over him, wrapping his frayed nerves in a cocoon of warm silk to assuage the strain of the day away. Lotus and vanilla tickled his nose and he sighed wistfully. It was not the first time his senses forced him to acknowledge how much he missed her. 'Maybe I'm finally losing my mind this time.'

Tossing back a rather large dose of scotch, he poured another and took it to his desk where he dropped into his chair and stared at an offensively bright scrap of orange paper on his desk. With a heavy hand, he flipped it over and stared at the bold black letters that he had commissioned cover the city only 24 hours before. He stilled as all the clues coalesced into one truth. He looked up just as she rose from the chair directly in front of him.

"Kagome," he whispered faintly, sure that she would disappear suddenly just like all the merciless dreams that came before.

She waited, her own insecurities making her wonder if she didn't completely confuse the situation. When he only stared at her, she fidgeted with the edges of the jacket sleeves, her hands twisting and turning as she watched him carefully. She had no idea that he thought his overly tired brain was playing tricks on him.

Clearing her throat, she kept his gaze, "Did you have that message put up?" she pointed at the paper under his hand.

Maybe he wasn't dreaming this time. He glanced down and back at her before nodding dumbly. He had done it on a whim, not thinking that it would really change anything. It was something that he wanted to say to her, but didn't know how. How do you tell someone that you can't live without them? Well, not that you can't live without them exactly, but that you don't want to? He sat silently, unsure of her thoughts and not wanting to do anything to run her off again.

She swallowed audibly, "Did you mean it?" she asked quietly. The softest trace of hope colored her tone.

He nodded again, trying to keep his own hope in check.

"Okay," she said lamely. When he stayed quiet, she felt the dread she had been holding at bay rise. "Okay, well… I guess," she turned away and grabbed her bag blindly; "I guess I'll leave you alone so you can get back to whatever it is you were doing."

Desperation grabbed at him viciously. He tensed in his chair but forced himself not to move. Instead, he replayed the look of barely concealed hope in her eyes and took a chance. His soft voice stopped her cold, "Could you at least not steal from me this time before you run away again?"

It took her a moment to catch his meaning. Mortified, she looked down at the dark material and blushed hotly. 'Crap!' she thought horrified. Starting to shrug the loose garment from her shoulders, she heard the chair move and felt more than saw him move around the edge of the desk toward her. The rest of his words seemed to finally dawn on her and she turned her head to glare at him over her shoulder, "For the record, I wasn't going to steal anything…and I'm not running away."

He raised an eyebrow, "Really? What is this then?" he asked as he gestured at the coat.

"Well…I was cold and I saw this on your chair and put it on," she lied. His brow rose even higher and she growled low in her throat. "It's not like you care anyway."

He snapped back, impatience clear in his tone, "I just spent three months of my entire company's profits to buy up every available advertising space in this city. I think even a cynic would have to admit I care a little."

Kagome's eyes dropped in regret at her petty outburst. She heard him sigh and close the rest of the space between them. Gently, he brushed the hair from her eyes and whispered, "I care more than I'll ever be comfortable admitting."

Hr heart dropped. "That makes me think you wish you didn't feel anything at all."

He shook his head and dropped to his knees in front of her. She sucked in a surprised breath as he wrapped his powerful arms around her waist and pulled her into him, burying his face into her soft stomach. After a few heart stopping nuzzles, he turned and pressed his cheek into her abdomen. "It took me a long time to come to the conclusion that these feelings only make me better. My regret is solely reserved for the years of wasted time."

Kagome's eyes watered as she felt his honesty rip through her warmly. His hands were rubbing smooth circles into her lower back and hip as he held her still in front of him. Tentatively, she dropped her hands into his hair, having missed the silky texture between her fingers. He closed his eyes and soaked up the feel of her gentle caress.

"I don't care anymore."

Sesshomaru's heart stopped at her forceful words. He looked up at her with a clouded expression, his hands tightening unconsciously on her as if she might disappear. Before he could ask, she hurried on.

"I don't care about a human wedding." She dropped down in front of him so they were at eye level. Taking his face in her hands, she held his gaze pointedly, "I just need you to promise that we can be partners in this relationship. That my opinion means as much as yours and that we will both promise to work hard to make each other happy." Her thumb brushed over his cheek, his markings visible only when he chose not to hide them in the modern world. "That's all I need from you Sesshomaru."

He tipped his forehead down and pressed it against hers. "I'll promise you anything if it means you'll stay with me."

She couldn't help but smile at his tone, one of desperate longing and insistence. It reminded her of her little brother when he was younger, promising to do all her chores for a month just to get what he wanted for that one day. Her smile seemed to be all he needed. Pulling her into his lap, he kissed her hungrily. She went willingly, pliant and obliging.

When she was finally able to pull back enough for air, she laughed musically and hugged him close, whispering in his ear, "Are you sure you aren't going to change your mind?"

Shaking his head, he picked her up with ease from the floor. Turning, he sat her on the desk in front of him. Flashing a canine, he eased the jacket from her shoulders and tossed it away. He braced his hands on either side of her against the desk and leaned in until their noses were faintly touched. She shivered at the familiar look in his gilded gaze.

"If it takes a lifetime, I'm going to show you how much my mind is made up."

Kagome swallowed and only nodded as his lips found her throat.

The Wind and the Mountain

A InuYasha Story
by Mearasama

Part 59 of 60

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