Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Property - Chapter Seven

Sango would have expected to see more buildings crowding together, reaching higher and higher into the sky as she walked toward the center of the village. Instead, the buildings looked more and more misshapen and crumbled when she approached the village square. She and Kirara picked their way through the debris that lay across some of the streets when they finally saw the village square. It reminded Sango of the aftermaths of youkai attacks on human villages.

Ah, Sango thought, people. Upon closer inspection, though, she realized that they were all youkai, which probably explained why they had ignored her. On the other hand, though, if a youkai had attacked the village, it had been a strong youkai. Or just a lot of youkai.

That thought made Sango uncomfortable. Few youkai would dare to attack a youkai village, especially one so close to the wolf territory. Unless the wolves attacked them, but she thought there had been an alliance between the village and the wolves. Or perhaps it was the Lord of the Western Lands who had attacked, but he had no motivation, since the wolves' mountain divided this village from his lands.

Sango looked around. Men and women of all ages were helping to clear the debris. Boys ran around, helping where they can. Girls carried food to their parents and giggled as they gossiped.

"Uh, excuse me?" Sango interrupted one group.

"Yes?" The girl answered politely. She looked only a couple of years younger than Sango, with long chestnut hair and pretty honey-colored eyes. She looked completely human.

"I was wondering..." Sango considered how to phrase her question.

"Yes?" The girl looked around her friends. The three of them focused their attention on Sango.

"Have you seen a man—a human man? He's taller than me, with black hair, probably in a short ponytail. He usually carries a staff with him..."

"Oh, him." The girl turned to look at Sango speculatively. "You mean the guy with the pretty purple eyes?"

"Yes, he has purple eyes," Sango agreed, wondering how the girl had had a chance to look into Miroku's eyes.

"They are so pretty," another girl gushed and giggled. "I wonder if he's married. He's so sweet."

"But, Yoko," the third girl admonished. "He's human. You can't actually marry him."

"Do you know him?" The first girl asked. "Is he married?"

"Yes, I'm acquainted with him," Sango answered to the first question. She considered telling them that he was married. Or that at least he was engaged. But he hadn't shown up to the wedding, and only the gods knew why he was lingering in this village. Although, Sango thought she could take a fair guess just seeing these young gushing youkai. "I don't know if he's married."

"Really?" the girl name Yoko asked.

Sango refused to debate further. She'd have her talk with Miroku first. "Do you know where he is?"

They shared a glance. "Sure," the first one answered. "I saw him walk that way."

Sango thanked the three girls—youkai girls, she reminded herself—and followed where the girl had pointed. Seeing those girls had been unsettling, because they had appeared so... human. If youkai could be blood-bound, then these girls could be, too. But if these girls could be blood-bound, what would stop humans from enslaving other humans? Only the fact that humans didn't have youki? But humans were ingenious, Sango mused darkly, and she was sure there could be some way to bind humans.

Sango found Miroku at near the rice fields. Funny, how she had never thought that youkai would eat rice. He stood in his usual purple robe, holding onto his staff and staring serenely over the bare fields waiting to be planted.

"Miroku," Sango greeted to his back as she approached him.

She saw Miroku jump, hesitate a little, and then turn around to face her. His expression was so pleasant that it made her want to throw something at him. Sometimes, she wondered if he was naturally cheerful or it was all a mask.

"Sango," Miroku replied. "It's a... surprise to see you here."

"I'll bet it is," Sango muttered under her breath, but made sure that it was loud enough for Miroku to hear. Then, she asked, "Well, do you want to tell me why you weren't at the wedding? Our wedding?"

Sango had been worried for him. She had thought that something awful had happened to him because she couldn't believe that he would voluntarily miss the wedding. Apparently, she hadn't known him as well as she thought because he was here, whole and well, and not there, where there should have been a wedding.

"I..." Miroku scratched his head as he kept the smile on his face and tried to think of a plausible excuse. "I'm... I was..."

"Distracted," Sango filled in for him. "I know. I saw those youkai girls, too."

"Sango," Miroku tried to placate. "Don't be like this."

"Don't be like what?" Sango found herself shouting despite her plan to talk it out. But she had trusted him, and now he was here. Frolicking with insipid youkai girls. "Don't be upset that the groom didn't show up for my wedding? Or don't be upset that you are here flirting with other girls? Well, you know what? I can tell already what kind of marriage we would have had and I'm glad that we weren't married."

"Sango..." Miroku tried to interject as she took a breath.

She plowed right through, though. "You want to sleep with someone? You want to have that precious heir? Well, that Yoko girl was perfectly willing to elope with you. Marry her! Have your heir with her! Though I don't know what you would give the child."

Miroku shook his head. "Nothing good," he answered quietly.

Sango had run out of things to say. So she glared at him belligerently. "Well?" she demanded. "Aren't you going to give me an explanation?"

Miroku's head shot up. She still wanted him to explain? But what could he say? He hadn't realized the extent of his curse, but his hand had started to throb persistently since he arrived at the village and tried to counter the youkai who had attacked it. Should he answer that he had decided that marriage with her would be too cruel for her? That he would have to die early? That their child would be cursed for life? He looked away again, unable to face the hope that still shone in Sango's eyes. No, he wouldn't to marry her.

"I have no excuses," Miroku said quietly.

Sango felt herself washed over by disbelief, a numbing, almost cleansing feeling. He was not even going to try to explain? He made a job conning people, and he couldn't even find one little paltry excuse to make it better? Was he that sick of her already?

Sango clenched her fists by her sides. Well, she didn't care. If he wanted one of those demure little youkai girls, fine! She had always known that being a taijiya would hinder her love life, but she had thought that Miroku looked past that. Well, apparently he did and decided it wasn't worth it—she wasn't worth it.

"So you didn't think that I deserved to know that our wedding was canceled?" She asked, her voice more calm. She hated the slight tremble, but she couldn't help it. "When did you decide this anyway?"

Miroku had turned back to looking over the bare fields. "Here."

"So, it's Yoko."

For a long moment, Miroku remained silent. His purple eyes gazed calmly at the bare rice fields, and she didn't know if she was more upset with him for leaving, angry at him for abandoning her, upset with herself for not suspecting, or angry at Yoko for... doing whatever she had done.

Then, Miroku broke the silence. "Youkai attacked this village."

Sango looked away from Miroku back to the bare fields. "How many?"


"Two bands?"

She saw Miroku shake his head out of the corner of her eyes. His little ponytail waved. "Two," Miroku reiterated.


How could only two youkai tear apart a youkai village? Especially since these youkai were obviously powerful enough to have humanoid shapes as their base form. Sango tried to understand what had happened in the village—it was safer than thinking what had happened with Miroku.

"It was... horrible," Miroku continued. "People running everywhere when the fires started. Then the woman started throwing things with her fan and the little girl just stood there, still as a doll, while her mirror sucked the souls out of the youkai. They stopped suddenly and turned to leave. The little girl returned the souls—or the mirror can't hold them very well. I think some people might have died, but most are just dazed and upset."

"I see."

Miroku sat down. "I think they were looking for something—or somebody. They didn't find it. Or maybe they just got bored and decided to have some fun. I don't know. But the little girl... she was pale as anything, and she just stood there and sucked the souls out of people. I could hear their souls wailing."

"So, Taiyoukai decided to attack the village."

Miroku shook his head. "It wasn't Taiyoukai."

"Then, who? The wolves?"

Again, Miroku shook his head. "I think... they might be Kagura and Kanna. I've never met them before, but I've heard about them."

Sango wondered if she was supposed to recognize these names. As a taijiya, she was required to know all of the important and powerful youkai, but she had never heard of their names, or anybody like them. "Why are you telling me this?"

Miroku hesitated before answering, "I don't want you to get hurt."

"Well, too late," Sango replied caustically. He had no right to act as if he cared. "Because I already did."

Kagome snuggled closer to the solid warmth. The steady heartbeat comforted her.

Wait... heartbeat?

Reluctantly, Kagome roused herself from sleep. She wasn't quite lying down, she noticed. Instead, she lay... against Sesshoumaru.

This was so embarrassing, Kagome thought. She wasn't just lying next to him which seemed to happen often; she was sleeping in his lap. How was she supposed to explain that? To gain time to think of an adequate excuse, she tried to remain still. Maybe he wouldn't notice that she woke up.

"Are you feeling better?" he asked.

He didn't sound upset, Kagome was grateful to note, but scrambled quickly out of his lap just in case. She winced when her wound hurt her. "Yes, thank you," she answered politely. "I'm sorry about..." Feebly, she gestured in his general direction.

Sesshoumaru nodded. "I don't mind."

Kagome felt herself blush harder. Now she felt like she had taken advantage of him even more, since he was being so nice about it. "Um... what now?"

"Now you eat and then we train," he said.

"You mean, I don't get to rest and heal my wound?"

Sesshoumaru's smile was amused, making his amber eyes sparkle. "You're a priestess, you heal fast. Besides, you asked me."

Kagome thought about it. "I guess you're right."

"Of course," Sesshoumaru answered gravely. "I, Sesshoumaru, am always right."

Laughing at his serious expression, Kagome swatted at Sesshoumaru's arm. "Nobody's always right." Then, before he could protest, she added, "But this time, you're probably right."

At Sesshoumaru's clap, a servant brought food into the room. Kagome was curious to note that the servant was human. Then, she thought about how youkai enslaved humans. If youkai treated humans the same way most humans treated youkai, this human would be living horribly...

"They made you something easy to eat," Sesshoumaru interrupted her train of thought. He scooped a spoonful of the miso soup. "Here, try some of the soup."

Kagome opened her mouth obediently. The soup was good. She tried to take the spoon so she could feed herself, but Sesshoumaru pulled it away. "I can feed myself," she told him.

"But you're sick. You need to be taken care of."

She glanced at Sesshoumaru, but he seemed in earnest about taking care of her. Then, she just needed to let him know that she could handle herself fine. "I can still feed myself."

Reluctantly, Sesshoumaru handed her the spoon and she started eating. She hadn't thought that she was hungry, but that first sip of soup had awakened her appetite. After some more bites of food—the fish was good and the noodles tasted divine—she noticed that Sesshoumaru was looking at her quite intently.

"What?" she asked.

"Nothing," he answered.

"Why are you staring at me?"

"Well..." Sesshoumaru pretended to ponder and grinned. "You are the most beautiful thing in this room, and I accept nothing less than the best. So, I have to look at you."

"Oh." Kagome tried really hard not to stare back at Sesshoumaru. Apparently, he hadn't noticed the mirror in the room, because with his lean body, his beautiful face, and his languid grace, she was not competition. And when he smiled... her heart fluttered.

She took another bite of the udon. "Thanks," she remembered to mumble. Then, to change the topic and because she really wanted to know, "Where are we?"


Kagome swallowed the bit of noodle. "And where's that?"

"It's a youkai village."

"Hmm," Kagome thought about that. They were being treated fairly well by the youkai, considering that there were two humans in the entourage. "Is it the youkai village you wanted to go to last night?"

Sesshoumaru nodded once. "I should have insisted, but I plan to exact vengeance from him anyways."

Kagome thought he actually sounded dangerous. "It's okay." She didn't want him to get into any fight and endanger himself, especially since he had already saved her life. Besides, seeing the look on Sesshoumaru's face, she thought she felt rather sorry for whomever he planned to take revenge on. "I mean, we have to thank him for finding the Shikon on Tama, right?"

But Sesshoumaru's good mood was gone. "It's going to be more dangerous now that your powers can't conceal the jewel completely anymore."

She sighed. Then, an awful thought occurred to her. "It's not Taiyoukai who attacked me, is it?"

Sesshoumaru looked surprised. "No, it's Naraku. He's a filthy hanyou."

"Is it... bad... to be a hanyou?" Kagome asked tentatively. "Do youkai marry humans so rarely?"

He looked back at Kagome for a long, indecipherable moment before answering, "No, it's not bad to be a hanyou. They are rare only because most youkai mate instead of marry, and it is rare to find humans who are... compatible.

"Naraku is a different story. He used to be human. He was poor and ugly and old. He stole and lived in a cave. One day, he went in a rich man's house to steal. He thought the rich man would not notice as easily, and he was right. But he wasn't prepared for the rich man's excesses. The gold and silver were everywhere, but so were candles that lit the hall. He knocked one down, accidentally, and burnt the whole house down.

"The rich man and his family escaped the fire fine. But Naraku had been stealing, and so he tried to sneak out of the mansion. His clothing had caught on fire, though, and in his panic, he only tried to run from himself.

"In the end, he collapsed on his way towards his cave, tired, hurt, and burnt. It was a priestess who found him. The priestess was gentle and kind. She took pity on the poor thief and brought him to his cave. She knew that the villagers would offer no sympathy for him. So, each day, she went to the cave herself to tend to him until he became better."

"And?" Kagome asked when he had stopped.

Sesshoumaru smiled at her child-like curiosity. "I'll tell you if you continue eating."

"Oh." She hadn't realized that she had set the udon and the chopsticks down.

When she started eating again, he continued, "So the priestess went to the cave and healed the poor thief. And every day, the worthless thief watched the priestess' beautiful face as she healed him. And he came to want to keep her to himself.

"One day, he said to her, 'Will you stay with me?'

"The priestess was surprised, and she replied, 'Until you are well.'

"The thief persisted, 'And after?'

"The priestess replied, 'I go where I'm needed.'

"The thief pleaded, 'You are needed here, for you hold my heart.'

"The priestess replied, 'But my heart is already given. I am married.'

"A dark countenance came over the thief then, and he shouted, 'To whom?'

"The priestess replied, 'To my husband, a great youkai.'

"And every day after, the thief and the priestess remained silent as she came to heal him, until one day, he was as well as he his old, abused body should be. As she had promised, the priestess left him and never returned. The thief railed at this 'injustice' and refused to believe her. He thought she must have been denying him because he was merely human.

"So, when Death finally called to him, he grabbed onto dear life. He soaked his thoughts in evil and welcomed all the lesser youkai to feast upon that black heart. His thoughts were so evil, that they overcame the youkai, and he stole the power of the youkai and became a half-youkai, half-human creature.

"That is the story of the birth of Naraku," Sesshoumaru concluded.

"Did he ever go after the priestess?" Kagome asked. She had finished her udon and started feel tired again, but she felt that the story hadn't finished yet.

"He did," Sesshoumaru answered grimly. His voice had lost its lyrical quality. "She rejected him, and he tried to kill her and her husband. Only her husband survived."

"That's... grim," Kagome observed with a yawn. "I'd hoped he'd become a good person. Or at least, give up."

"He had already turned evil when he stole from the youkai. Or maybe even before," Sesshoumaru reminded her.

She shrugged a little. "Well, there's always hope."

He declined to answer. He would let her keep on believing that if she wanted, but he knew differently. He had seen people turn evil and revel in it. There was no turning back for them.

When Kagome yawned again, she decided she needed another nap and told him so. She snuggled down in the blankets this time and fell asleep before he even had time to reply.

Sesshoumaru knew that he should leave now, as Kagome had fallen asleep on the bed instead of on him this time. The youkai would not harm her because she was under his protection. Besides, it wouldn't be gentlemanly to watch her sleep.

But he hadn't been a gentleman for five hundred years. And if another attack occurred, he was still the one who could protect her best, and he needed to be here if something did happen.

He surveyed the room. It was clean and serviceable, as most village elders' homes were. A simple framed calligraphy adorned the white walls. A few brushes lay on the table and their bags piled around the chair. A plain rug covered most of the wood floor. The unfinished portion of Kagome's food was on the nightstand.

Sesshoumaru was just about to call somebody to take the food away when the bags rustled. He stilled... and sensed a faint youki. A youkai hid in one of their bags.

The bag continued to rustle as Sesshoumaru pulled in his own youki so that it was undetectable. He stalked the bag silently. Then, with one swift movement, he pulled out a bundle of orange hair.

A kitsune was attached to the hair, tears swimming in its wide brown eyes. Sesshoumaru clamped a hand over the kitsune, who looked a bit familiar, before it had a chance to cry out and wake Kagome.

He narrowed his eyes at it. It sniffed and tears leaked down its cheek.

Right, Shippou was its name, Sesshoumaru remembered and relaxed slightly, but its reason for hiding in the bags was still suspect. It had lived in the Higurashi house. He wondered if it had followed Kagome to spy on her. Or maybe it spied on him.

The kitsune made some more muffled noises, gesturing wildly in the air.

"Be quiet," Sesshoumaru ordered it and it nodded fervently a couple of times before he set it down.

"I'm hungry and you're a brute," was the first thing out of Shippou's mouth. Although he whispered it, none of the spitting anger was lost. "I'll tell Kagome."

"What, you think she'll punish me?"

Well, Shippou considered, the inuyoukai didn't really look intimidated by Kagome. Still, Kagome must be able to do something... "You like her," he declared, and had the satisfaction of seeing the inuyoukai's face become impassive, even if it scared him a bit. But Shippou was a brave youkai. "And I'll tell her that she can't marry you."

"Oh?" Sesshoumaru asked quietly.

Maybe it was because Shippou had been raised by Kagome. Or maybe it was because he had grown up with humans. But either way, he lacked the common sense to back down when the inuyoukai's attention was entirely concentrated on him.

"Yup," Shippou declared proudly.

"She wouldn't listen to you," Sesshoumaru stated.

"Of course she would," Shippou argued. "She's my mommy."

There was a long, tense silence. Well, tense for Sesshoumaru. Shippou smirked for his imminent victory.

When Sesshoumaru growled deep in his throat, Shippou scampered back in alarm.

Shippou looked up to see the inuyoukai's eyes glowing red, just like the evil youkai that had killed his father. But Kagome wouldn't let an evil youkai near her. So, was this inuyoukai hurting his mommy? Then, he'd have to protect his mommy, Shippou thought.

Sesshoumaru felt his anger flare out of control, and he didn't care. The kitsune's father deserved death—worse than death. Gods, if this kitsune was five or eight—Seshoumaru wasn't very good at judging children's ages—then Kagome must have been ten or twelve when she had slept with the father. Worse, she must have loved him—or at least thought she did—if she had retained her priestess powers...

"Where is your father?" Sesshoumaru demanded, the urge to growl making his question barely coherent.

"U-uh..." Shippou stuttered. He didn't know—how was he supposed to know? The evil youkai had killed his father and taken the skin. He didn't know where the evil youkai was. "I-I... uh... d-d-d-don't know."

Sesshoumaru took one step toward the kitsune. His red eyes gazed coldly down his nose at the kitsune. "Then where did she meet him?"

"Huh?" The inuyoukai looked scary, Shippou felt himself thinking. Why would the inuyoukai ask such a weird question? "He... uh... n-never... uh... met her...?"

Sesshoumaru took another step toward the kitsune, making it squeak. It didn't wake Kagome, though. He lifted a mocking eyebrow, saying that he heard the question mark at the end of its answer "Then, how come you are here?"

"Um..." Shippou didn't like telling people about what happened, but that being known as a former blood-bound is better than death. He said in a rush, "My daddy died and I became a blood-bound and Kagome found me and freed me and now she's my mommy."

It took a moment for Sesshoumaru to process what Shippou had said. "Then she adopted you. You're a youkai."

"Duh!" Shippou gathered the nerve to say. The inuyoukai's eyes were gold again, and it gave Shippou courage. "What, did you think I was a tulip?"

"No," Sesshoumaru answered with a snort. "But your intelligence is comparable."

Shippou felt his eyes watering again at the insult. The inuyoukai didn't know anything about him and was insulting him. "Kagome, Kagome!" He called out as he dodged away nimbly from the inuyoukai's hand and jumped onto the bed. "Kagome," Shippou wailed. "The inuyoukai is being mean to me!"

Kagome grumbled in her sleep. Then, Sesshoumaru heard her say, "Sit."

Still puzzled, he listened as Shippou explained hurriedly, as if something was holding Sesshoumaru from attacking and that something would stop soon. "It's another inuyoukai, Kagome. It's not Inuyasha."

"Huh?" Kagome grumbled. It felt like she had just fallen asleep and that she had an awful nightmare of being attacked. Or maybe the whole thing of Sesshoumaru was in her imagination.

"Kagome," Shippou persisted. "If you marry this inuyoukai who's not Inuyasha, you have to make him be nice to me."

"What?" she opened her eyes to find Shippou and Sesshoumaru hovering over her, both looking at her expectantly. Marry? What? Kagome found that her side still hurt. Guess it wasn't a dream. "What?"

Shippou couldn't believe what grogginess had done to his usually intelligent mommy. "He likes you, but he doesn't like me. So you have to make him like me before you marry him." He paused and thought about it. Then, he added, "Of course, if you don't like him, you can always marry someone else."

It took a moment for Kagome to process what Shippou had said. When she understood, she felt the blood rushing to her face and pulled up the blanket to hide under it.

After a while of silence, Kagome decided that Sesshoumaru hadn't left tactfully and that she might as well face him.

A wry smile was on Sesshoumaru's face. "You don't have to say anything," he saved her. "Children only blurt out the truth they see."

"Oh," Kagome said and returned to hiding behind the blanket. She wasn't quite sure how to take that last comment. Perhaps, she thought, she was just thinking too much about what he had said. It was just probably a bit of wisdom he had learned from his long, youkai life.

He must've lived a long time, Kagome thought. If he were a taiyoukai like the Taiyoukai family, he could have lived for hundreds of years already, way longer than her own measly sixteen.

"You need more rest," Sesshoumaru said, interrupting the silence. "I'll make sure the little turd doesn't disturb you."

"Hey," Shippou yelled, full of indignation. "I'm not a turd."

Sesshoumaru picked Shippou up by the collar of his shirt and took him outside the room. "Of course not; you're a tulip."

"Hey!" Shippou's voice filtered back into the room.

Kagome smiled. Shippou always knew how to liven up the day. She had wanted to keep him safe in the Higurashi house, since she didn't know what Taiyoukai would do. But she realized that she should have expected him to find a way to tag along.

"Be nice to him," she requested of Sesshoumaru.

"Of course," he acquiesced regally.

With this assurance, Kagome found herself drifted back to sleep. She hoped she got well soon, because she did not like the drowsiness that hung persistently over her. She figured, though, that the more she slept, the sooner it would probably go away.


RadioActiveOrange said...

"You need more rest," Sesshoumaru said, interrupting the silence. "I'll make sure the little turd doesn't disturb you."

"Hey," Shippou yelled, full of indignation. "I'm not a turd."

Sesshoumaru picked Shippou up by the collar of his shirt and took him outside the room. "Of course not; you're a tulip."

"Hey!" Shippou's voice filtered back into the room.

Had to paste that in a comment even though you wrote it. Possibly my favorite funny thing in ANY fanfic i have EVER read. lol I can see it in my minds eye and it just cracks me up "Of course not, you're a tulip." .... k lol

I see you don't have many comments on your blog. I don't know why . . . but I'm commenting to tell you how much I love your writing.