Saturday, February 11, 2006

Property - Chapter Four

Somebody—probably Sango—knocked on Kagome's door early in the morning.

"Hold on, I'm changing," Kagome lied. Hastily, she gathered her pale green sheet and tried to stuff it in the back of her bottom drawer.

Sesshoumaru hadn't done what Kagome had expected. Instead of finding a secluded spot in the gardens somewhere, he had instead led her to her room, quietly and steadily. If Kagome hadn't seen his red eyes, she would have thought that his earlier violence had been merely a figment of her imagination.

Kagome had never thought of herself as particularly reckless. Even as she had followed him docilely back to her own room, she had thought of the consequences of her actions. She knew that it might impair her eligibility as a bride, but she had always expected a political alliance, and nobody cared about her virginity unless there was a scandal. Especially since she would be expected to find love outside of her marriage.

Since they were in her room, there would be no scandal. Even if he announced it to the world, most people would just see her indulgence as her taking advantage of a virile pleasure slave. Most people wouldn't even consider him a person and would therefore think little enough of it. Sometimes, husbands even bought their wives pleasure slaves to "bring the spark back to their marriage."

Still, thinking back on it now, Kagome suspected that her brain and logic had had very little to do with the decision. After the kiss, her mind seemed to have stayed in neutral and let her body take over.

Certainly, the kiss had been superb. The kisses after that, too. Kagome felt herself blushing just remembering what had happened. She hadn't thought about it before, but she realized that she should have known that a pleasure slave would know what to do, even if he was only going on instinct and muscle memory.

Kagome turned aside from the thought of the countless women he had been with before and probably thought nothing of. She had gone into it knowing that he wouldn't remember. Depending on him not remembering so that nothing would become awkward between them. So that he wouldn't become angry at her for taking advantage of him.

Kagome didn't know that there was so much that could be done with his mouth and his hands. She remembered sometime during the night when he had held her hands above her with one strong arm. He had distracted her with kisses and she had forgotten everything else as she looked in his intense red eyes, with specks of gold showing through. His other hand had touched her in the most frustrating ways that left her wanting and she couldn't even remember where he had touched her. Everywhere, she thought. And it had been hard to remain lucid enough to remember not to cry out. She had kept her mouth open to pant quietly.

Particularly when he bit her neck. Kagome had never thought that she would enjoy somebody biting her, but there had been something erotic about the way he had done it. Maybe it was that she could feel his weight on top of hers. Or that she felt warmed by his body heat. Or maybe it was just because it was Sesshoumaru.

She thought she had heard him murmur something then, but it couldn't have been anything important. Youkai weren't coherent when their demon side deprived them of reason.

But then he had stuck a piece of him in between her legs, and that had been painful enough to wake her out of whatever daze she had been in. He had continued the touching and the kissing, but the stinging in between her legs had made it not as enjoyable.

When he had finally spent himself, he had left her bed quietly and fell asleep on his own bed in her sitting room. Kagome had felt the bite of the cold air on her bare skin and pulled up her blanket before falling asleep in her own bed.

This morning, she had felt sore, but otherwise fine. She had thought that all had gone well until she looked at her bed and realized that the red spot was bound to cause a scandal. She barely managed to stuff it all into the drawer and shuffled the blanket a little before Sango announced that she would enter no matter what.

"Hah! I knew it," Sango declared. "You were doing something fishy. You're all dressed."

"I was getting dressed," Kagome protested, but felt her face heating up at being so transparent. Of course, Sango was one of the few people who could always tell if something was up with Kagome.

Sango took a look around the room before her eyes landed on Kagome's bare mattress. "Why isn't there a sheet on your bed?"

"I... spilled tea on it last night," Kagome lied. At Sango's suspicious glance, Kagome added, "It was really late, and I didn't want to wake the servants, since it's just blanket, and you know how tired they always are, especially after what happened at dinner last and all. And I don't know where the sheets are, so I can't get them myself and—"

"You're babbling," Sango cut Kagome off. "Besides, I don't really care if you spilled tea or something else as long as you are going to be fine for my wedding. You know that you are my friend no matter what."

Kagome smiled weakly but knew that Sango would keep her secret. Still, Sango would tease her at every turn.

"So, when is Miroku coming?" Kagome asked.

Sango accepted the change of subject. "On the morning of the wedding, he said. Otherwise, he'd be too tempted to... visit me," Sango said with a grimace. "I hope he realizes that I'm not going to be anything special is bed."

"It's not what you do, but who you are," Kagome said.

Sango raised one eyebrow. "Oh?"

Kagome decided to ignore Sango's teasing and nodded seriously. "That's why it's true love."

"And you would know..."

"Because I come from a long line of priestesses, of course," Kagome said. "Everybody knows that priestesses don't marry until they meet their true loves."

Kikyou tugged at her priestess outfit as she stood and waited to officiate the wedding between Sango and Miroku. Even though she knew she looked no different, she felt as if the white shirt no longer fit her. After all, she was no longer virgin white.

Maybe she shouldn't even officiate this wedding. After all, she wasn't a true priestess anymore.

She'd never liked weddings. Killing youkai and healing the sick were things she could do, but weddings rubbed at her the wrong way. Maybe it was because her parents were never married—and therefore she became the charity case. Maybe it was because vows had been proven empty between Inuyasha and herself. Maybe it was because she thought the whole idea of it was rather silly.

After all, why tie yourself to somebody else? Forever? If two people were meant to be, nothing could pull the apart. And if two people grew out of each other, they would break free of even the strongest chains.

Still, officiating weddings were one of the functions of the Higurashi priestess, like most showy ceremonial bullshit.

Sango tugged at the pillow in the back of her kimono, jerking it awry. Kagome pulled it back in place for the umpteenth time.

"It's all right," Kagome tried to calm Sango down. "You said he is not going to be here until this morning. Maybe an axel broke or something."

Sango looked at the clock unhappily. "He's half an hour late for the wedding already, and he was supposed to be here two hours before the wedding. What could have held him up? What if there was a carriage accident?"

"I didn't say accident," Kagome corrected herself quickly. "I was just saying—"

"What if a youkai attacked him?" Sango seemed intent on following her own train of thought to its grisly end. "The woods can be quite dangerous, and he can handle a lone youkai fine, but what if some of them gang up on him?"

"You know youkai in that wood aren't intelligent enough to—"

"What if there were human bandits?" Sango continued. "They can be quite malicious and Miroku doesn't know what to do without his holy powers which would not harm humans. Bandits wouldn't even leave him with his cart. He'd have to walk the rest of his way. And if he were attacked by a youkai without even his staff—because that is quite an antique, you know?"

"Yes, I know," Kagome agreed. "But you mustn't think that anything bad happened to him."

"Nothing bad has happened to him?" Sango repeated.

"Probably," Kagome said hesitantly. "You can't just believe the worst case scenario."

"Well, if nothing has happened to him..." Sango paused in thought and Kagome had a really bad feeling about what Sango would say next. Kagome was right. "Then, he must have decided that he doesn't want to marry me after all."

Sango sat down suddenly, her tears making her makeup run and ruining her kimono. "I knew it. I knew why he always wanted to sleep with me and said all those pretty words and..."

"Sango," Kagome tried to think of something appropriate to say. "You know that he loves you. He would do anything to have you in his life. You don't know what happened... So—"

"You're right." Kagome's last comment had brought energy and purpose back to Sango's expression. "I don't know what happened. So, I will find out. If he doesn’t get here soon, I'm going to find out why he isn't here, and it better be a good reason. Because I will have my boomerang and I know how to use it, too."

"Sango?" Kagome said when Sango finished.


"Just make sure you give him a chance to talk first."

Kikyou undressed herself and folded the officiating clothes carefully. Kagome had informed her that the wedding would be delayed. It would mean more anticipation. More anxiety. And more watching people who would be so happy that two souls were joined as one.

Kikyou snorted. As if anything in the world had the power to do that.

As she pulled on the last of her practice clothes, she heard the door to her room open. Turning around, she saw Inuyasha. "What do you want?" She demanded, harsher than she meant to, but he deserved it all the same.

Inuyasha's gold eyes looked away, as if he wasn't sure either. "I knew you weren't feeling very happy..." he started.

"Don't bother," Kikyou cut him off. "You aren't getting freed a second time."

"I don't want to be freed," Inuyasha said quietly, surprising Kikyou. "There's a reason repudiation is the harshest punishment." His gold eyes held Kikyou's brown ones. "Besides, I like knowing what you feel. I want to know how I can help you. I don't... want to be cut off from you."

"Sweet words," Kikyou said bitterly. "But they won't get you anywhere."

"I don't understand..."

"What do you mean you don't understand? Do you think I don't know what you are trying to do? Always trying to take advantage of me. Everybody's always trying to take advantage of me. You. The Higurashis. The people that want help from me. They all think I should just give every bit of myself away. But I'm not like that. I want some things for myself, too, but I guess priestesses aren't allowed that privilege."

Kikyou got a hold of herself and took a deep breath. "Besides, you don't think I've forgotten about Kaede, do you?"

Inuyasha looked away again. "I know you feel guilty for her death—"

"You know nothing!" Kikyou said fiercely, taking a step toward him.


"You don't know, do you?" Kikyou asked suddenly. Then, she laughed, a brittle, mad sound like a broken mirror. "You don't remember, do you? But of course you don't."

Inuyasha frowned in puzzlement. "What..." Then, his gaze cleared and he stepped back in shock. "You don't mean... that Kaede was... that I..."

Kikyou only nodded, calm again. "That you killed Kaede? Yes, that's exactly what I mean."

"But... I couldn't have."

"Oh, you're strong enough, no doubt, and she trusted you," Kikyou said, twisting the knife with her words, wanting Inuyasha to feel all the anguish and hurt she had felt for the past two years. "And I saw you with my own eyes. I couldn't believe that you would do that just after I had believed in you and freed you, but I guess I didn't know you very well."

"Kikyou..." Inuyasha took a step toward her and stopped. If what she had said were true—and it added up with all the other facts—then there was nothing he could say to her. If he really killed that easily, even in the aftermaths of repudiation, then she was right to bond him again. "I guess you were right to bond me then. You never should have freed me in the first place."

"Inuyasha?" Kikyou asked, a bit uncertain. She had been ready for disbelief and anger and accusations, but his simple acceptance pulled at a love that she had thought long dead.

"It's okay, Kikyou," Inuyasha said solemnly. "I lived only to serve you. And now I do. And you can never keep me too far away from you."


"Good night, Kikyou."

Kikyou let Inuyasha walk away without saying anything further. What was there to say? They both knew that an apology would be both worthless and meaningless, since Inuyasha was in a demonic haze when he had killed Kaede.

For some absurd reason, though, Kikyou felt as if there was something left to be said.

There was a guest waiting, the servant had informed Kagome, pulling her out of her stroll through the gardens. Kagome wondered what kind of guest. Most of the taijiya were staying in the Higurashi house, and she thought perhaps it was taijiya business, since she didn't expect anybody.

At the receiving room, though, she found a man sitting belligerently with both his arms and legs crossed. He dressed in what looked like rags of animal fur covering pieces of armor. His black hair was tied into a pony tail with a hair band to pull up any stray hair. Kagome suspected that he had not cut his hair in a long time. He eyed her insolently as she entered the room. Overall, he looked barely civilized and Kagome was impressed that he knew how to sit and wait at all.

"Hi, I am Kagome Higurashi," Kagome introduced herself, following protocol, something that her father had taught her so that she would not offend youkai.

"So, you are the daughter," the man—no, youkai, Kagome amended as she saw his pale blue eyes—said instead of introducing himself, as protocol demanded. He didn't even stand up.

"And may I inquire after the nature of your business at the Higurashi house?" Kagome demanded as she sat down across from him. If he refused to follow protocol, she could be rude, too.

"Oh, well, your father saw me several days ago, and said you'd be interested in an alliance," the youkai answered.

Kagome searched her memory for several seconds before she returned to staring at him. "You are Kouga?"

Kouga pointed a thumb at himself. "Yup," he answered, grinning wolfishly. "Wolf Prince Kouga, that's me. Pleased to see you."

Kagome sighed as she reached across to shake his hand. At least, he was starting to behave somewhat civilized. There must be hope still if he knew how to shake hands. Even if the hope was minimal.

"So, why isn't my father here with you?"

"Oh, that..." Kouga shifted his weight on the chair. Then shifted again before settling down. "Well, he met me at my lair, and then he left. I sent two of my men to lead him out of the mountains. They were both unconscious when I found them, and... somebody who didn't like your father took him."

"You mean, he's being held hostage?"

Kouga nodded reluctantly. "I don't know who did it, but the bastard is going to pay for messing with me in my own territory."

"And you are here because?" Kagome pushed him back to the subject at hand. She had decided that Kouga didn't know the meaning of elegance—he had used "bastard" in the presence of a woman he didn't know—and that blunt was probably the best way to deal with him.

"Oh," Kouga answered. "For that alliance your father asked."

"And how would that work?" Kagome asked, more than a little suspicious. Even if Taiyoukai was significantly more powerful than Kouga, what could possibly induce Kouga to ally with the humans temporarily? Unless he somehow planned to make it permanent, and Kagome didn't see how that would work.

Kouga grinned. "Why, you marry me, of course."

Kagome choked in shock. "Marry you?" That would certainly make the alliance permanent.

Kouga frowned at her inability to understand him. "You are the princess of the Higurashi house. I am the Wolf Prince. If our houses are allied, humans would stop hating us, and we'd be able to hide in villages without fear of youkai and humans attacking us."

"Wait. You plan to hide in villages from youkai? Then, what happens when the youkai attacks the village?"

"We run to another village."

Kagome sighed in exasperation. "And how, exactly, do you propose to help us?"

"Oh, that," Kouga said.

Yes, that, Kagome thought as she gritted her teeth and forced herself not to say it aloud.

"Well, we're youkai," Kouga explained, with a generous smile showing off his fangs. "Since your father wanted somebody youkai to fight alongside humans to boost their morals, we can do that."

"Yes," Kagome agreed warily. "Alongside humans, not behind humans."

Kouga shrugged. "All the same. So, when are we getting married?"

"Well, we are in the middle of something right now," Kagome said. "I don't know when this is going to be wrapped up. And for a political alliance like this, I really need to wait for my parents' permission and draft up all the legal documents. We still need to decide on the details—"

"It's okay for me," Kouga said, displaying obvious naiveté at handling anything political. "I can see you're cute."

"Well, I need time to prepare, then," Kagome restated. "And in the meanwhile, I'm sure that you are tired from traveling all the way from the mountains. I'll have a servant show you to your rooms."

"Sure," Kouga agreed easily. "Don't take too long, though. My brothers are waiting for my glorious return."

Kagome refrained from sighing as she left the room and Kouga followed the servant.

"You smell like youkai."

Sesshoumaru's comment stopped Kagome as she walked through the sitting room to sleep on her bed. It was still early, but she felt weary and let out a sigh. "I know."

"Who is it?" Sesshoumaru demanded, even though he knew he probably shouldn't, but since he had come out of heat, he had found that his attraction to her had increased instead of waning as he had expected. His blood was supposed to have cooled with the end of being in heat.

Kagome did not want to think about the encounter she just had. The "Wolf Prince" had not been what she had expected. He had caught her at a bad time, what was with Miroku not showing up. He had expected her to marry him... and started off with her on the wrong foot. Then, he had told her that her father was kidnapped, probably by the most powerful youkai in the world. "Just... don't talk to me about it."

Sesshoumaru's eyes narrowed at her command, but his glare was lost on her since she was walking toward her bedroom again. And the fact that he smelled male, unmated youkai chafed at some part of him that he didn't care to analyze.

"So who is it?" Sesshoumaru found himself asking again despite her command. And without pain for disobeying her.

Kagome sighed. She just wanted to flop down on her bed and sleep for a week and wake up to find that none of this had happened and that it was still the day before Sango's wedding. "Kouga."

Sesshoumaru hadn't heard Kagome's answer; he had been too busy trying to understand why the blood-bond was... not acting like a blood-bond. He could sense her emotions—fatigue, trepidation, irritation—and so the blood-bond must still exist. But it had been altered somehow, sometime, and Sesshoumaru had had no idea.

"Who?" Sesshoumaru asked again.

"I'm sleeping. Don't want to talk anymore," Kagome informed Sesshoumaru before she dropped onto her bed and fell asleep, without even taking off her slippers.

The way she laid diagonally across the bed with her feet hanging off the edge looked extremely uncomfortable. Sesshoumaru found himself walking over and slipping the shoes off of her feet and gently placing her so that she could sleep comfortably. He pulled the green blanket—which did not match the navy blue sheet—to cover her a bit.

Sesshoumaru was about to leave when he found himself staring at her again and wondering how the blood-bond could have changed without disappearing. He knew of only one way, but it couldn't have happened...

Sesshoumaru tested the bond again...