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Chapter 6: (Lemon Warning!)

Battle filled their days and most of their nights, but once in a while there came a evening of peace. And in those few evenings, two of the unlikeliest of kindred spirits sought each other out.

Sesshomaru tucked the book of haiku into his sleeve with haste as he sensed the approach of the miko. He contemplated the meaning of the poem he'd just read as Kagome sat in the grass near him on his left. He found them fascinating. They drew insight and elegance in a couple measures. Pain and passion, two things ningen seemed able to capture well in the meager span of their short lives. Far from the rage and hate that his kind tended to glorify.

Kagome broke into his reverie. "Would you like some tea, Sesshomaru?"

He took the cup she offered with a grateful nod. The aroma of the tea teased his nose and before he could stop himself, he sneezed, holding the tea away from him so it wouldn't spill on his kimono. Giving himself a full body shake, he sipped the warm and soothing liquid. Only then did he notice the way Kagome held a hand over her mouth. The way her eyes danced told him that she stifled a laugh at his expense. He raised a brow in question.

"Just now, you reminded me of Inuyasha." Then she did giggle.

Mood souring, he set the cup in his lap. "This Sesshomaru should not like to be compared to that hanyou."

"I-I know. I just, you know, it's hard sometimes to believe you're related. You're polar opposites." She shrugged, her hands waving to illustrate her point. "He's hot-tempered where you seem . . .."

"Cold? Merciless?" Interested in how she saw him, he pressed the issue. "Does the miko find it off-putting?"

"No, not really. We need more level-headedness around here, I think. Plus, I don't think you're all that cold." She eyed him out of the corner of her periphery. "Or merciless."

His first instinct told him to refute her, to treat her words like a challenge. He did not want to be thought weak. Sesshomaru drawled, "I have been both. And more."

"I don't doubt that, Sesshomaru-sama." She set her bow aside and lay back in the grass, looking up at the stars that twinkled in the firmament. "I've thought about it a lot. About how you think."

"Oh?" Her presumption compelled him to ask.

"And I think . . . distance, and detachment are the key. You hold yourself far away so as to seem untouchable and powerful."

"Am I not, then? Powerful and untouchable?" Unprepared, he twitched as her hand came out to rest over his newly re-grown left hand. He felt a warm rush glide up that arm and swim around his chest cavity, lighting little fires in its wake. Sesshomaru fought a dozen conflicting primal urges then, at a loss as to what to do. "Miko . . .."

"Can you not call me Kagome? After all the time we've spent in conversation, does my name still escape you?" her voice chided with a warm playfulness. He let her draw him down by his arm until he lay prone at her side. "Come. Watch the stars with me."

He could hardly do so for the weight of his awakening awareness of the soft female form so close to him. He felt an uncharacteristic nervousness flood his mind and body. Never could he recall being more unsure. He felt immobilized by indecision and lay still and quiet, in case something should topple him into the strange abyss that seemed so near somewhere within him. His senses buzzed, the stars seemed likely to dazzle him with their intense luminosity.

Then a shape rose up to eclipse them and he found himself looking deep into blue eyes as deep and mysterious as the sky behind her head, unable to look away. She froze over him and he trembled.

What power did the tiny woman have over him to make him do so? He did not care to name the fear and delight that warred in him, and suddenly that abyss did not seem so terrible. If he should fall, would it be with gladness?

Swallowing past a tongue that felt thick and clumsy, he managed, "Kagome, you are not watching the stars."

She smiled down at him with aching tenderness. "Yes, I am."

The dam broke and he reached for her, rolling them in the soft grass. It should have shamed him how the hunger for her blossomed and grew until it encompassed the world. Her lips he captured in his, nipping them until they swelled and tasted of her spicy blood. He worried for a moment about having harmed her, but then she moaned with such want that his beast roared for more and he dove back in, nuzzling and licking every part of her that lay exposed. Soon that didn't satisfy and he all but ripped her clothes off to be nearer her flesh. His own kimono and hakama lay in a heap nearby.

Running his hands over her unbelievably soft skin, he quaked and panted. Everything about her filled his senses to the brim. Her scent, her welcoming embrace, the little sounds of pleasure he could draw from her with a simple swipe of his palms down her body. Over the sweet mounds of her breasts, the delicious swell of her hips, his fingers danced. His nose led him down to her center, where he breathed deep, eyes rolling back into his head. Obeying a voice at the core of him, the song of his canine soul, his long tongue swept over her glistening sex.

Sesshomaru moaned, low and deep as she bucked up under him. His cock grew so hard that it pained him, weeping his essence onto the grass below. She tasted so sweet, so pure. He could do this forever and be grateful. Her sounds grew frantic and he watched her come undone before his very eyes. The walls of her quim contracted on his tongue in waves and he had trouble thinking past the idea of what that might feel like around another part of him. When she pulled at his shoulders, he crawled up her body until they met eye to lust-clouded eye.

He rested the tip of his manhood at her entrance and growled, "Submit."

And she did not, much to his mounting frustration. He growled and nipped at her chin. The light of confusion made her eyes even more beautiful, though she remained defiant. "Sesshomaru-?"

"Submit!" he growled, even deeper, his beast taking control. His youki started to escape in magenta streamers around his striped cheeks and no doubt, his eyes bled red fire. Again, he nipped her jawline.

This time, understanding seemed to strike her and with deliberate care, she bared her throat to him. He lunged, holding her sweet flesh between his fangs, but taking care not to puncture or tear. With a single thrust, he broke through her maidenhead and filled her. She cried out in pain. He licked her neck in apology and stroked her dark hair until her body relaxed under his. He ran his hands over her shaking limbs, kneading and trying to comfort. When she gave an impatient little wriggle of her pelvis, he smiled against her neck before taking it between his teeth once more.

'Pin the female. Ravage her!' spoke the beast and he grunted in refusal of that base creature. Instead, he worked a slow and easy rhythm, exerting what tremulous control he still possessed. He felt he might go mad with such a pace and whined, hot and needy.

"Sesshomaru," she called, cradling his face in her hands. He pushed his raging instincts back long enough to pull away and look at her. Tears rolled down her cheeks, but the smile she bestowed on him glowed with a blinding radiance. "It's okay. Let go." Then she pulled his mouth back down to her throat and smoothed both palms over his shoulderblades.

With a muffled shout, he plunged into her with abandon, losing that last little bit of restraint. How he kept from breaking her in half with his wild rutting, he did not know. He groaned against her, repeating one word over and over, just, "Mine!"

Her tight tunnel pulled and milked at his member, threatening to make him spill before she found completion. His pride would not allow that and used his hands to roll and tweak her nipples, sliding one down to work the bundle of nerves at the apex of her cleft. The way she arced under him told him she approved and soon, she called out his name breathless and quivering. He closed his eyes at the sensation of her squeezing him with her inner muscles. It felt just as wonderful as he'd imagined and with one long, ululating howl, he joined her in bliss. His heart seemed likely to burst in his chest with the force of it. Sesshomaru couldn't remember a climax anywhere near as potent in all his life. It consumed him.

He came to his senses, a gradual climb back to rationality. Kagome's hands traced figures over his skin, tingling and teasing. It felt so very nice, her legs and arms cradling him.

Then it struck him just what he'd done and he jerked away from her, lifting himself clear. She looked up at him in alarm, brows drawing together.

Sesshomaru felt terror coil in his guts as he stared down at her. He'd just lain with a ningen. And liked it. No, he'd loved it. His body still sang with pleasure, though he tried to deny it. Had he not said to others that one might as well hump the beasts of the field as seek pleasure with human women? All the spite and bitterness he felt before rose up in him then. He cast about for blame, his pride demanded a culprit for this heresy. But she looked so beautiful, still, with the starlight kissing her sweat-adorned skin and her ebony hair making a perfect fan of black satin under her paleness. He shook it free with a growl and a snap of his teeth.

Kagome lay her hand over his heart and he saw her confusion escalate into true worry. "Sesshoma-"

"No!" He interrupted. Then he made his face cold to her, though his heart beat a mad rhythm against his ribs at what he knew he had to do. "No. You will not rule this Sesshomaru."

Her face fell at his words, mouth dropping open in dismay. He turned from it before it destroyed what little resolve he had left.

The taiyoukai stood and dressed, feeling more and more secure as the layers of cloth draped over him. His inner defenses, shaken that they may be, fell into place with familiar implacability. He made to walk back to camp to gather his followers and leave this place of uncertainty and doubt before it became his undoing. Some distance, that's what he needed. And with distance, some perspective might find him.

Her soft voice stopped him in his tracks. "I was wrong. You are merciless."

No power in the world could have kept him from wincing then. But he kept walking. He knew his duty. To his people and to his legacy. Where his heart lay in all that was of no consequence. None, whatsoever.

Chapter 7:

The assembly around him argued in a loud and vehement assortment of yowls, hisses and hooting calls. For the most part, he ignored them as he dipped a brush into his bowl of ink. He held his sleeve back with his off hand. An old, beaten book lay open before him, held that way with a heavy golden figurine. With a few masterful strokes, he composed his latest thought in prose-

'Left with strange bounty.
A curse becomes a blessing.
Winning a future.'

With a sigh, he realized the latest questions had been directed at him. He thought back to what they might have been and found that he didn't care. "Lords and ladies of the West, what would you have of me?"

An old boar demon snuffled and grumped, "See, our lord cannot even be moved to satisfy the simplest inquiry."

"Take a care how you speak to this Sesshomaru." He did not have to speak loudly to show how deadly the edge of his temper could be. "Have I not been a good lord? Do you and your peoples not prosper?"

A cacophony of shouts went up after he spoke. Some saying, "We need more territory! Push south-" "No! East!" "Baka, we should war on the North!" Others demanded, "The humans grow ever more insolent! They spread like a wasting disease! What will you do about this!"

Though he did not show it, he despaired for them and their short-sightedness. They had plenty, yet they wanted more. Always more. Even if they owned the whole of the world, they would dig deep and eat its heart, too. He said, with a note of sarcasm, "We war on the East already. Shall we split our efforts on three fronts?"

Byakko, wearing his father's white-striped pelt over green lacquered armor, stepped forth, an ingratiating smile on his tiger's face. He purred as his tongue flicked out to wash his whiskers. "As your general, I would not recommend such a course. Our numbers dwindle. Too many fall and not enough rise to replace them."

This caused a new outcry among the people of his court. Sesshomaru listened with half an ear to problems of which he had already been aware. Low fertility among the pure-blooded along with higher defects from the inbreeding. The search for the virtues of pedigree made his people go to extreme measures. He no longer wondered why there had been no youkai in Kagome's stories of the future.

Their very natures made that reason apparent.

But Byakko had another card to play, it seemed. He bowed before his lord and said, "If only Sesshomaru-sama would take a female to wife and whelp on her a litter, then the future of the realm would be secured."

He wanted to laugh. "This Sesshomaru's activities in his bed-chamber are not for you to speculate upon. When I feel the need, then I shall wed and whelp."

"Why the hesitation, my lord?" said a buzzard youkai in the third tier of this round room in which Sesshomaru sat the chair of eminence. Flames licked out of his mouth with every word, "Does it have anything to do with the mysterious boy child you were seen leaving your estate with ten moons ago?"

"Yes! Give us news!" "Who is this pup?" "Whose brat is he?" The shouting fast wore on his nerves, but he kept his serene mask in place.

"If you're seeking a boy, Itsumade, look to your own harem of catamites." In the mocking laughter that followed, Sesshomaru swept his gaze all around the chamber. "Where I go and what I do are my business alone. It is my right and none of yours to question. Any who disagree are welcome to challenge this Sesshomaru for the Western Lands. Singly or all at once, if you so dare. Do not think me unaware of your concerns. Rest assured I will always have my people's best interests in mind."

"But who exactly are your people, my lord? You spend weeks far from your lands. You let the humans encroach on our territories. We heard you even leased them the fertile fields of the Kobe delta." Byakko, always the sly one, genuflected with oily ease, even as his words incited. Sneaky old tiger, using 'our' and 'we' so as to make the source of these accusations vague and unclear. As if the inu lord didn't know.

"Enough." Sesshomaru tested the ink on the page before him to see if it dried and well pleased, closed the book with a snap, tucking it away. He stood and the assembly held their collective breath. "Someone must grow the rice and see to the trusting beasts. If not the humans, then who? Our youths who itch for battle? The lords who encourage them? Perhaps we should focus on breeding, well and diversified, instead of warring for a few generations-"

They didn't even hear his words, so wrapped up were they in who offended who and who deserved to be decimated. He didn't expect them to, in any case. Some habits never change. Saddened, he flared his aura and roared, "Silence!"

He said into the silence that reigned thereafter, "We diminish and refuse to see why. Our society has grown stagnant for lack of outside stimulus. I shall do all that I can, for as long as I can. As I have always done. Use your reason, august beings of infernal might that you are. See to your future or we will soon have none."

Sesshomaru left them then, passing missives to his assistants. Orders for resupply and re-deployment for his troops at the front. Byakko met him in the hall. He eyed the tiger youkai with wary appraisal before nodding a greeting. No, Byakko would not strike yet, not so early in the game anyway.

His general said, "My lord."

"Byakko. I do not suppose you had anything to do with Guhin's betrayal." The unsubtle accusation did not so much as cause a waver in the general's confidence. Sesshomaru applauded the demon his audacity from behind a polite facade.

"I would be a fool to say I had, but no, that baka acted on his own as far as I am aware of."

Not likely. But that thought remained locked behind many mental barriers. "I want the mountain tengu to know that their leader's traitorous actions did not go unnoticed. Make an example of a few of them. We need to keep the tribe alive to fill the ranks, do we not?"

"Yes, Sesshomaru-sama." Byakko bowed at the waist with a flourish. Really, the tiger was wasted on the battlefield. He should have been a courtier. As cunning and conniving as any snake in his stable of vipers. The general paused before turning to leave. Sesshomaru gave him permission to speak with a wave of one hand. "Lord, when heirs were mentioned at assembly, I couldn't help but notice a complete lack of worry from your esteemed self. So lacking as to be inverted. Is the legacy secure?"

He debated a moment on his response. Such roundabout inquiries remained pretty standard among youkai, as hiding one's young until they reached maturity tended to be the prevailing fashion. He let a smirk alight on his face and decided on an ambiguous answer that should have the old tiger chasing his own tail for months. "Very. One might say . . . tremendously so."

Byakko let drop a salacious wink and purr as he left. Let him think Sessomaru had dozens of whelps out there to succeed him. The longer it took for the general to pinpoint Kenshin's location, the more ready and able the boy would be to defend himself. Demons tended to think in the long term so the probability of Byakko rushing out in force to ransack every ningen village . . . probably dwelt down there at next to nil. Plus, he wouldn't want to draw attention to himself any more than he had to. Such a thing could provoke his lord into taking retribution.

It'll take years, no doubt. Sesshomaru hummed a low pleased sound as he exited the courtly wing of his estate and headed into his own modest, personal residence. Jaken rained praises on him from the moment the imp saw him come through the doors. The lord ignored his servant and went to his inner sanctum. With refreshment in the form of rice wine and clean parchment at hand, he set to work. Like all great swordsmen, he took pleasure in out-thinking an opponent, letting his enemy work themselves into a corner before he struck the decisive blow. This game promised to be an interesting one.

He thought long and hard about which strategy to employ and set things into motion with a few short messages. No doubt this plan might take decades to come to fruition, maybe a century. But what is a century to one such as I. No time at all. A blink of a golden eye.

He addressed the imp who still waited on his pleasure, "Jaken."

"Yes, Sesshomaru-sama?"

"Would you ever bow to a hanyou master?"

"Sesshomaru-sama! Please do not say such things! I would never want to be brought so low as to be pressed into the service of a filthy half-breed."

"Even if he were worthy?"

The imp stuttered and coughed, disgusted. "I find it hard to believe that such a thing is possible!"

"Hn," he said, copying out the letter to some of his southern governors for information regarding the expansion of human provinces and who led them. It did pay to keep tabs. Maybe he could spot the tipping point before it happened. "Perhaps it is, perhaps it is not."

"Sesshomaru-sama, why the strange questions?"

"No reason that should concern a servant."

Thus rebuked, Jaken slouched in on himself in misery. Despite being loud and prostrating himself to the point of idiocy, Jaken had an eye for survival, Sesshomaru knew. The imp became a virtual weather-vane for how conflicts turned out. Sesshomaru need only look opposite the way the little youkai ran to find trouble. Though, in recent years, Jaken grew something of a backbone. Loyal, but cowardly. The lord could depend on the imp to be consistent in that regard.

"Ready Ah-Un. I go east for the winter. And I wish to take presents."

"Presents? For whom, Sesshomaru-sama?"

"You will find out. Someone must tend the beast, after all."

The way the imp groaned fed a tiny smirk on his lord's face that lasted til long past the first gatepost.

Chapter 8:

He tried so very hard to stay away. It didn't help that their two groups seemed to meet at every crossroads. Fate pushed them together in their mutual struggles against Naraku and his abominable minions. Further and further out of his control, his path always led him back here.

Sesshomaru reflected on failing to be the master of his own destiny as he, Rin and Jaken crested yet another hill to find a too familiar sight before them. The nekomata who played companion to the demon slayer raised her feline head and bobbed it in greeting to the demon lord. Rin ran past him to embrace Shippo. The two children laughed and spoke fast-paced to catch each other up on what happened to them while they had been parted.

Miroku, the priest with the ravenous hole in his hand, said, "Won't you join us, Sesshomaru-sama? It is late and there is room."

Unable to help himself, he looked to the miko, whose turned back said everything. A strange, bereft feeling flickered in him. He sublimated it with effort before answering, "The dark hanyou moves on the South. This Sesshomaru has pledged to the Southern lord to assist. I should not tarry."

Inuyasha snorted and laid a glare upon him, full of disdain and impudence. "You heard him. He's too good for the likes of us. Go on, then."

Sango turned a frown on Inuyasha. "Shh! Be polite. He's saved us from death many times."

"As many times as we've done the same for him and his!" Inuyasha shot back, jabbing a talon in the taiyoukai's direction. "But he's never going to admit he needs us. He's never going to say, 'thank you,' is he? Peh!" The hanyou threw his hands into the air.

"Kagome-chan! I was just telling Rin about that story you told me the other night. Won't you please, please, please read it to her?" The fox kit made a show of begging, kneeling in the dirt and wringing both hands together in the air. Rin copied him with comical accuracy and the kit tackled her. The pair wrestled around in a mass of flailing limbs and laughter.

Rin broke away to stand before Sesshomaru, pleading with him with her eyes. "Can Rin not stay to hear these fables, Sesshomaru-sama? Rin promises to be extra good."

As though she'd been bad. He appraised his ward with sharp eye and saw in her a fear of this. Did she think their groups' separation somehow her fault? He'd forgotten that she noticed things, sometimes showing startling insight. If she'd noticed his reluctance to remain near Kagome's pack, no telling what conclusions the child drew on her own. It wasn't fair to her to let her continue believing she caused the rift that divided them.

He dropped a hand on her head and said, "This Sesshomaru will only stay if the miko allows it."

In his periphery, he saw shock ghost over the adults' faces. All eyes turned to Kagome, who finally turned to face him with calm and serene countenance. In a voice, both placid and cheerful, she said, "Of course, he can stay. Far be it for this miko to tell the great lord whether he may stay or go."

Barbed, that remark cut him. He frowned at how he seemed to bleed with no wound. His response, of which he knew he really had none, got cut off by the loud and boisterous exclamations of the pups as they danced in a ring, swinging each other around and singing the miko's praises. When his eye thought to seek her out again, the miko had gone. He breathed deep of the evening air to locate her. She'd not gone far, though, only a few paces outside of the firelight and into the trees.
Sesshomaru debated following her for much longer than he really should have, but decided not to tread those waters if he could help it. As the others made ready to bed down for the night, he pulled the book of poems from his sleeve. He pondered the pages that had wrinkled even more from his frequent handling and the strange metal cylinder that he found out became some sort of writing utensil with a twist. He did this now and turned to a blank page.

Writing with the device felt strange to him, the way he could feel the very grain of the paper with every swipe. Nothing like drawing with a brush. He wrote-

'Cold hands mean cold heart.
A lord must be vicious; cruel.
Or so I've been taught.'

Truth, but an unsatisfying one. It made him wonder if he could ever be more than the sum of his learnings. He flipped back a few pages to read the one of the first he'd added-

'Strange, scholarly child.
Idiosyncratic girl.
Frustrating me thus.'

Sesshomaru sighed and closed the book. A soft voice from above made him look up to see his half-brother lounging on the low branches, "You hurt her."

The taiyoukai readied himself for battle. If the hanyou felt truly incensed, no meager and weak blood-tie would keep him from trying to destroy Sesshomaru. Nor did the lord expect it to.

"I don't know the details, nor do I wanna, but you hurt her," Inuyasha accused, "I told her you would, but she wouldn't listen to me. And now . . .. Well, let's just say the last few weeks have been downright depressing."

"You warned her away from this Sesshomaru and she did not heed?"

"That's what I said, isn't it? Anyway, so now, I appeal to your common sense, since she seems to have lost hers somewhere near Edo. Stay away from her. Keep to the youkai way. No good can come of it. I mean," Inuyasha said, then swept a hand to indicate himself in self-deprecating manner, "just look at me."

Part of him bridled at the hanyou's presumption. Another heard his own words flung back at him with growing dismay. Yet another, a deeper voice said, Ningen live close to death every day. They strive and toil to spite it. Does not the book in your pocket prove that they can do wonders? How, then, are they value-less?

The hanyou spoke on, "Soppy human onna. Mooning over your girlish looks day and night. I mean, what did she see in you anyway? You're such an asshole. It's a wonder she even thought there could be something under all that pompous arrogance. Probably imagined it. Sucks that you proved her right, but at least now she knows, ne? What you see-" Now Inuyasha gestured at him head to toe before finishing, "is what you get. Just a whole lotta asshole."

"You would do well to be quiet," Sesshomaru cautioned, his patience nearing its end.

"Or what? You'll fight me? Keh, as if I'm scared of you. If she hadn't made me swear to keep the peace, I'd be trying to make you eat Tessaiga right now." The hanyou leapt down to stand in front of the seated lord. "You're an idiot if you think hurting my best friend didn't put me in a killing mood. You're lucky she's generous or you'd be wormbait by now."

"Your concern for the miko is noted. This Sesshomaru would not have her harmed further." It shook him how true that statement felt. It pinged off deep places in him, causing dissonance.

Inuyasha looked at him askance. "Good. Keep it that way. And if you're going to stick around this time, take care you don't end up pissing her off. Even I'm scared of her when she's mad."

"Now it seems you are concerned over what might become of me. This Sesshomaru is touched."

"No, no, that's not what I mea-. Just. I want her to be happy, is all." Inuyasha bit his lip and scowled. "For a long while there, it didn't seem like she'd ever be happy again. I had a lot to do with that. Then she was for a bit. And then she wasn't again."

"The hanyou has learned how to take responsibility, then?"

"I own my mess. And I can't go back and fix what's broke. Nor would I. But she knows me. She knows I'm sorry." The hanyou shook out his hair with a grunt. "Hn. For whatever good that does."

Sesshomaru sat in pensive silence as his half-brother walked away. Meanwhile, Kagome returned and sat with the children telling stories til they became too sleepy to listen any more. He found his eye kept catching hers at odd moments and without his meaning to. Though Inuyasha's words still rang in his ears, he found himself trying to devise a way to explain to her his actions. He owed her that much, at least.

Do I? The thought blindsided him. He, who never made excuses or ever felt the need to, now sought to earn forgiveness, of all things. The irony struck him then and he snorted to himself in aggravation. For one who expounded the virtues of responsibility to his brother, he sure didn't care to do so himself. Part of taking responsibility is admitting one's mistakes. He started to miss his simple existence of yore, when all that mattered was the strength of his arm and finding victory in his enemy's defeat. Though, then he wouldn't have Rin. Or Bakusaiga. He'd have remained as purposeless as a sword without one to wield it.

His ruminations took him well into the night, and soon he alone remained awake. Sesshomaru could stand it no longer. Something must be done to quell the riotous anxiety within him, even if that meant inviting more turmoil. He withdrew the tome and flipped to his latest haiku. The one about lordship. With hurried hand, he added another in the margin and tore the page free as neat as he could. He then folded it into a paper lily.

Sesshomaru crept to where Kagome lay asleep, her hair spread across her pillow. He had an insane urge to run a hand through that dark mass, but stopped himself from doing something so foolish. The lily he set just under the edge of her covering, then all but ran back to his vacated seat at the edge of the clearing. His thoughts turned to the words he'd added-

'I might have been wrong.
I might have never known you.
I might never change.'

He knew she'd found his message when she pressed a note into his hand as they parted ways the next morning. Sesshomaru spent a long while during the trek just staring at it, the simple folded square of paper. What did she write? Did it contain something to calm and comfort his ceaseless confusion? Or was it something else? A denial or confirmation? Forgiveness? Understanding?

His imagination painted all sorts of fanciful scenarios until he finally unfolded the message and read. His heart grew heavy and dark, thudding from some unnameable feeling. He kept wanting to call it . . . sorrow.

Chapter 9:

He lamented the passing of years, as they had the habit of flying by much too quick for his taste. Only in the stolen moments with his progeny did it all slow down enough for him to count. Then he counted every second lost between visits as well.

Sesshomaru forgot how fast youkai pups matured, slower than ningen, but there existed a biological imperative for children of such a volatile race to fast become able to stand on their own. So when five years went by almost without his noticing and he showed up to find a whelp already showing his father's height tussling with Inuyasha in Kaede's yard, he stopped in shock. Where had the stumbling two-year old of his last visit gone?

The demon lord paused under the trees before approaching and just watched, keeping his aura and scent cloaked. The pair cavorted, chasing one another with that mindless joy dogs have, living in the 'now'. Kenshin seemed happy, if the perky set of his ears and the glitter of his blue eyes told a true story. Nearby, the demon-slayer and her husband, the priest, laughed at their antics from the porch, their small ningen children at their feet.

Rin, now a woman, called encouragement from the sidelines. At her side, the kitsune, Shippo, grown tall and lanky, stood with cocky grin plastered across his face. Such a charming domestic scene called to Sesshomaru, starting a warmth in his chest that made him almost wish to leave it untouched. But he knew that it wouldn't stay that way for long. Opposing forces already slithered in the shadows, ready to strike. Time for Sesshomaru to take his son's education in hand.

He decided to let them have another hour of dalliance as he watched, indulging himself as much as they. Suddenly, a presence made itself known to him and his gaze cut to one side to see a face almost identical to his own, only softer and feminine. The last person he'd thought would find this place, or even want to search it out. He nodded and said, soft and careful, "Lady-Mother."

"Sesshomaru," she answered with a regal tilt of her head. Then she chuckled. "Do not look so surprised, my son. I have known of this place since you fought for Rin's soul in Hell. I was curious what could change my son so, or hold his attention for so long. You did get bored so easily when you were a pup."

His head bent to concede to her point and her tenacity.

"I see he bears the mark." She baited him with quirked brow. So that's where he learned it from. One could say all sorts of things with a judiciously tilted brow. How intriguing.

He decided to take control of the conversation. "Have you ever heard the word 'extinction,' lady?"

She volleyed, "Oh, do call me 'kaa-san', like you once did."

Sesshomaru retorted, "This Sesshomaru might think 'babaa' is more appropriate."

"Now that's just cruel," she said, pouting at him, "how did I raise such a heartless boy? 'Old woman', indeed."

"It is from you that I learned heartlessness."

"It is also me that showed you how to take one's heart back."

He smiled a wry smile into her golden eyes. "Not a line will ever grace your face, kaa-san. You will always look as though you sprang from the earth fresh and new at the start of every season."

"Oh, stop." Yet she hid a pleased smile behind her fan. "I should have known flattery lay in your arsenal along with your swords."

"One finds weapons for every arena." He took her hand in his and lay a kiss to her cold palm. "Now this Sesshomaru desires an answer to his question."

"Well, I recall having heard it once or twice. Why do you bring such unpleasantness up? Such a concept reeks of finality."

"A . . . learned onna this Sesshomaru knew once told him about massive beasts that existed millions of years ago. They dominated every other beast of their era, they owned the world. Then the world changed and, unable to adapt, they were sloughed off its skin, never to walk upon it again."

"Hn." Far from stupid, she drew the parallel he knew she would. For it had once been her dream. "Sounds familiar."


She watched the boy with him and he saw wheels upon wheels turning in her eyes. A dainty finger stroked her bottom lip as she thought. Then she turned a wondering gaze on him. "Oh, my son, you play a deep, deep game."

"How can I not when one's opponent is Death?" He hummed. "Certain things must occur. We must disappear so that the right future happens, but I do not think the world will be done with us just yet. I think we'll be needed again someday."

"And he?" She pointed to his son, who laughed so carefree out there. "Will he know you use him so?"

"Did I? No, I did not see your fingers tangling the skein of my fate until it was already too late. Only, unlike you and my father, I will play it better. I won't fail."

His Lady-Mother looked upon him with awe and a sad smile lit her features. "Yes, my son, I believe you shall. When my grandson is old enough, bring him to me. I have yet a few things I can teach him better than you."

"This Sesshomaru shall do as you say." He bowed to her and when he looked back up, she had gone.


The boy learned quickly. Already, he'd countered the advance of Sesshomaru's lances. Pretty good, considering the pup had only learned how to play this game in the last week or so. The shogi board lay between them, father and son. The demon lord caught a few shy glances in his direction and admonished, "Concentrate, whelp. Looking at me instead of the board will not help you be victorious."

His son's ears went flat in dejection. A habit that would have to be corrected. Kenshin tapped his fangs with his claws as he focused on the game. Then one ear began to flick with dubious and sly intent. No doubt, the boy had finally spotted the opening Sesshomaru left on his right flank. With a decisive flick, the hanyou pushed his knight forward, forking a bishop and a promoted rook in the process. Then he looked up at his father with a smug smirk and crossed his arms as though to say, What now, oh, high and mighty Lord of the West?

How unfortunate for the boy that moving that knight opened his king up for check, which Sesshomaru did, gliding his silver-general into position. The jaws of the trap shut. "Ote."

Disappointed, Kenshin conceded defeat and sat, sullen and silent.

Sesshomaru raised a brow at him. No, he would not be allowed to wallow. "Where did you go wrong?"

"I . . . I was too eager, tou-san. And didn't think ahead." Shame colored Kenshin's cheeks in a light pink and his gaze dropped to his own hands where they wrung together on the edge of his jacket.

"Hai. You give yourself away before you even move the pieces. The way you sit, your face, your posture should present a blank slate to all who look upon you. They will think to write their own motives upon it and thereby tip their hand to you." He demonstrated the point with absolute stillness.

"I thought you said to not look at your opponent." A flash of confusion mixed with a tiny touch of anger filled the eyes that flitted up to meet his.

"You listen to your enemy to hear what he does not wish you to do. Then you would be wise to defy him."

"But I thought you were teaching me." The boy's tone said it lacked fairness, not letting him know at the outset what was expected of him.

Very few things in the world possessed fairness. A lesson he'd teach his son very well. "You have learned the moves. Now you must teach yourself with each failure and success."

He watched the boy puzzle this over and felt a flash of pride when Kenshin met his gaze with an understanding beyond his years. "Again?"

"Set up the board, my son." The spark of pride he'd felt before bloomed into full-blown exultation with the next few games. Oh, Kenshin would grow into brilliance. His moves remained raw and untempered, but no longer did he twitch or fret and he watched his father with a keenness that bordered on hostile appraisal. Finally treating his father like an enemy. Good.

And in one audacious move, when the boy captured his gold-general, that serene countenance lifted to his and one brow arched up under the pup's silver bangs. Sesshomaru felt a bubbling laugh rise up in his throat. He stopped it before it could escape, but let himself reach out and tousle his son and heir's curly locks. The boy's face broke out in a wide grin which he answered with a smirk.
"Tomorrow, the sword."

All that careful control shattered and dropped to the wayside as Kenshin leapt to his feet in an excited scramble. "Really?!"

He nodded, then watched the boy sprint away. Excited shouting sounded throughout the priestess's house, followed by the raucous addition of Inuyasha's laughter. If he knew his brother, then the hanyou probably warned Kenshin that he might regret his exuberance by this time next eve. Probably would, thought Sesshomaru with a small feral grin.
The fox youkai, who'd been watching them play from the shadows under the house's eaves, approached and bowed with graceful courtesy. Sesshomaru pondered its meaning before nodding in greeting. "Kitsune."

"Sesshomaru-sama." Shippo sat opposite him and picked up one of the shigo pieces. Mysteries lurked in the young demon's eyes and the lord felt a wave of unease for a moment. Until the fox said, "If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were setting yourself up to be his foe when he grows up."

"This Sesshomaru is a traditionalist. Should I not wish for my son to surpass me?"

"Only, I know how most youkai do it. Not the fox way. I only would have had to prove myself cleverer."

"And would you have?"

Youki flared on the kitsune's fingers for a moment and Shippo turned the piece in his hand so Sesshomaru could see the kanji on it. A 'promoted' gold-general? The letters twisted and writhed so that they almost said 'king' as well. Shippo drawled, "Oh, yeah."

"Your confidence is admirable." Sesshomaru said, amused. "I gather from your tone that you might have issues with what this Sesshomaru hopes to accomplish?"

"You could say that. You could say that no one here wants to see Kagome's kid in trouble. Or hurt. Or . . . killed, even." The fox made his tone flat and threatening in an obliquely non-threatening way. "I'm just saying. I know that pup. I don't think he can be as heartless as you."

"Shippo," He said, taking in the kitsune's shock with hidden amusement. How easy it was to unbalance them with a few well chosen words. If he could find a word that could kill, he'd be tempted to give up the sword forever. He continued, "this Sesshomaru is counting on it."

Later on, inside Kaede's crowded house, Sesshomaru sat at his son's bedside and looked down into the young face that slept such a profound sleep. Would he ever sleep so after he found out what life had in store for him? In his memory, he heard the boy ask-

"Tell me about my mother, tou-san." Only natural for a child to ask such a thing.

"She was fair and dark of hair. You have her eyes. She was a powerful miko and slaughtered many enemies." The lonely ache in his chest that had never gone away burned at his heart. "She was young and defiant and . . . and funny. She amused this Sesshomaru on many occasions."

"Did you love my mother, tou-san?"

His mouth dried and even though he'd told himself that this time of the day, the hour before his child slumbered, he would put aside title and bearing and be father only, he still found it so very difficult to admit the truth. "Hai, Kenshin. She ruled in the court of this Sesshomaru's heart."

"Only, uncle said that demons can't love. Is that true?" The boy's eyes, her eyes, looked up at him and seemed to demand truth. How could he deny it?

"Once this Sesshomaru had no use for softer emotions like love. It was no weapon he could wield in his hand. But he learned better." He leaned close to Kenshin and hissed, "Love is
dangerous. And it is far more so in the hands of the one who possesses it within him than any who would seek to use it against the possessor."

He confused the lad, he saw. So he sat back and ruffled the hair that begged ruffling. The boy giggled under his hand. Then he said, "Shippo-kun says that my mother read them stories, he and Rin, when they were pups. Do you know any stories, tou-san?"

Sesshomaru sighed and thought back to those days. Then he intoned, "In a faraway war-torn land, there once lived a powerful daimyo named Arthur. And with him, he had a circle of samurai loyal only to his hand . . .."

Sesshomaru stood and walked back out into the common area. He took the cup Rin proffered with a grateful nod. Inuyasha eyed him from across the fire, but didn't turn his back. Progress. "He sleeps."

"So he does. And soundly, too. Must have gotten bored listening to you drone on and on." It seemed half-hearted baiting at best. The hanyou flicked a lazy ear in his direction and said, "There have been a couple incursions already. I took care of them."

"There will come more."

"Nothing I can't handle." Inuyasha cracked his knuckles in front of him and grinned.

"Still, it is best the whelp get trained as soon as possible. He will have many enemies." He already does. Sesshomaru sipped the hot tea and sighed, relaxing a bit.

"I'll make some shinai tomorrow."

"No. I will not have him get used to the weight and heft of bamboo when he should know the soul of steel. Find one for his height."

Kaede looked shocked and muttered, "But he's only a boy-"

Shippo flicked a piece of straw into the cookfire and drawled, "He won't be for long. At his age, I helped fight Naraku. Youkai grow up quick."

The taiyoukai nodded in agreement. "Or not at all."

Chapter 10

Over and over, he read them, but they retained their power despite his best efforts to feel nothing. He tasted ashes as he thought of her answer-

'Do you think I weep?
Do you think you've broken me?
As if I'd let you.

Suffer not, oh lord.
Stay in your castle of ice.
Let pride comfort you.'

Shame, an emotion with which he'd started to become very familiar of late, clutched at his innards. He stayed in his lands for a long time after that, brooding. Sulking, his inner cynic told him. Pining, an even unkinder one chimed in. He had no answer for them, nothing to refute their claim.

He sorted out the mess to the south while skirting well clear the Eastern lands. Rin asked him everyday when they would go back to see the miko and her friends. He didn't know, but he told her the first lie he'd ever told her. "Soon."

Sesshomaru should have known that providence would intervene.

Flying far above the open grasslands adjacent to a swamp, he spotted a battle in progress below. Narrowing his eyes, he made out two figures, one much smaller than the other, fighting a desperate fight against a huge multi-form youkai that resembled a dragon crossed with an octopus. It coiled around the pair at its mercy and tried to dodge in past arrows that sparkled. In alarm, he thought, Glowing arrows?

His cloud swerved at his silent command and he dropped lower to see the conflict better. It confirmed his fears. Kagome pit herself and her bow against the monstrous demon, the fox kit at her back. Where the others happened to have got to, he couldn't tell. She held her own fairly well, but even he could see she tired. Blood striped her uniform in a dozen places. Yet, none of that touched the fierce determination on her face. It blazed with it. She snarled as one of her arrows flew into a mad, rolling eye. He knew then that she'd lay her life down for the fox kit without hesitation.

An angry growl of denial tore itself from his throat.

It shrieked and tossed its head. Sesshomaru grit his teeth and jumped from his cloud, pulled into action by something that welled up from deep within him. The thing couldn't be allowed to harm her further. Bakusaiga appeared in his hand as he plunged hundreds of feet straight down, right into the center of the mass of writhing coils.

Above the howls of the thing, he heard Kagome shout something to him and point. He shook his head at her, not hearing her. In that moment of distraction, a huge section of the beast's body swung around and hit him full in the chest, knocking the wind out of him. He landed amidst the squirming, fleshy tentacles that made up its extremities. They gripped and pulled at him, keeping him from swinging his sword with any sort of effectiveness. Trapped, Sesshomaru felt the bonds holding his beast in check start to unravel.

He didn't want that to happen. Fully manifest, the beast within had trouble being discriminate. Kagome and Shippo could die by his hand and he may not even notice. No!

Light burst before his eyes and he found himself staring at a fiery arrow, sunk right where this group of sucking tentacles joined the belly scales. They dissolved from the purifying energies that imbued the arrowhead. Wrenching himself loose, he cut a swathe to where the miko and her kit fended off the worst of the seeking tendrils.

Kagome pulled him to her by his pauldron and shouted in his ear, "The tongue! Shard's in the tongue!"

He took off, leaping high to where that huge maw snapped and threw gobs of saliva to and fro. He sliced through as many of the reaching squirmy appendages as he could on the way to buy the onna behind him some time. The sizzle and stink of decomposing flesh from where his blade touched the demon's flesh reached his ears. There! In the back of its throat, something sparkled.

It saw him! The wild flailing of its head brought its regard upon the inu lord and it opened its mouth wide to devour him. He smirked and swung his sword around, releasing its energy attack right down its throat. Another earth-shaking scream split the air, ringing Sesshomaru's ears. He reached past fangs the length of his arm and grasped the offensive, flopping tongue in one fist and started pulling.

Panicking, it snapped down upon his arm, one long tooth piercing his upper bicep. He hissed and used the pommel of his Bakusaiga to shatter that fang. With a mighty yank, he ripped his prize free. The demon disintegrated before his eyes, becoming just so much dust. He sheathed his sword just as he touched down, the jewel shard in his opposite fist. The bit of tooth embedded in his arm he pulled loose with a grunt of disgust.

"Sesshomaru!" The panic in her voice made him wheel and sprint to where she sat cradling the fox kit in her arms. Something was wrong with the kitsune. A green foam leaked out from between his lips and his eyes, bloodshot, rolled back into his head. "He's poisoned!"

"Where is Inuyasha and the others? Why are you out here alone?" He tried not to think about what might be thundering through his own veins at that moment.

"Too far. There is no time. Take him!" She thrust the boy into his arms. His head lolled limp against his bracers. She shouted, "Find help! Medicine!"

Stunned, he hesitated, looking down into her furious blue eyes. How they sparked with so much anger. How could he just leave her here injured and alone?

She screamed at him, "Go! Damn you! Go! Save him!"

Her voice galvanized him into action. His youki cloud formed at his feet and with one last look at her tear-streaked and bloody face, he took off. The shard he flicked to her. Kagome's hand came out to deftly pluck it from the air. His last glimpse of her, she'd sunk to her knees on the torn turf.

She looked so small then. He prayed she found safety before something else came along to kill her.
Healers. He had to find healers. Thoughts that used to run like quicksilver slowed to treacle. He spotted a temple on the horizon. His limbs felt so heavy, all of him turned to lead, it seemed.

Speed! He thought at his youki and saw that far dot grow larger much faster. Barreling at it at breakneck realized he had very little strength left to slow his fall. The cloud dissipated at his feet and he sped through sky on sheer willpower alone.

The roof of the temple rose up beneath him and he had just enough awareness left to curl his body around the small life entrusted to him before he crashed through it. Darkness swallowed him then.


Pain! His first thought, unpleasant though it happened to be, told him that he'd not expired saving a woman who hated his guts.

His second thought rose up in panic, Kagome! He sat bolt upright then fell back as agony lanced him like a spear. His whole body swam with tiny stings, but the source seemed to center around his left arm. Oh no, not again.

With effort, he turned and looked down at his shoulder, followed it past a blood-soaked bandage and felt relief when he spotted his hand, all five fingers intact.

A soft snort from the side drew his attention and he met blue eyes under black bangs. Kagome sat in a chair next to his bed and watched him with tired aloofness. A wry smile lifted a corner of her mouth. "Just checking?"

"Hn." Parched tongue clung to his soft palate. Pulling it free, he licked his lips and managed, "The fox kit."

"Alive. Resting. The monks here had a store of medicines for victims of that monster."

"Is . . . there water?" Even speaking so few words seemed to aggravate the skin inside his throat and he coughed, dry and painful. Someone placed a cup at his lips and he lapped at the liquid with shameless thirst.

When he finished, he leaned back on the plump coverings of the narrow bed someone had laid him in. He looked around for clues as to who lived here and found very little to base any sort of picture on. Ah, that's right. A temple. A place of asceticism.

His eyes snapped back to the miko as she cleared her throat. She smiled a wan little smile at him before saying in a grim tone. "I feel bad for making you fly in your condition. I didn't know you'd been bitten by that thing."

Sesshomaru waved it off. He felt his youki overcoming the last of the toxin, soon it would start to knit his flesh back together. He would be whole in a matter of hours. "It probably saved this Sesshomaru's life as well."

Her eyes flicked away from his in guilt. Then she turned back to him and reached out to grasp his hand. "Thank you, Sesshomaru-sama."

The use of the honorific pricked him, though he knew he deserved her distance. He turned his hand to interlace his fingers with hers. "You are welcome, Kagome."

He felt her hand tremble and released her. She pulled away with a touch of haste and stood, nodding her head to him in respect. As she approached the sliding doors, he called, "Kago-"

"Rin," she interjected, stopping there on the threshold. The miko glanced at him and stroked the doorframe with one finger. She seemed nervous as she continued, "Rin, she, uh, I mean, it's good for her to be around kids her age. Shippo misses her. Kohaku doesn't play with him. Too busy doing demon-slayer stuff and getting revenge on Naraku. I mean, we're all doing that, but, it's just-I-. Oh listen to me, I'm rambling. I mean to say, you're always welcome in our camp. Rin, too. And that Jaken, though he's a pain in the ass." With that she bowed to him and said from under her bangs, "I don't know how to express how grateful I am you saved Shippo."

Just as the door shut, he whispered, "I did it for you."

Was it just his imagination or did that door pause just a hair before clicking closed? He sighed and closed his eyes, feeling truly weary for the first time in ages. Then his golden orbs snapped open and he said, with a touch of annoyance, "Where are this Sesshomaru's clothes?"

He cast about for them, but didn't see them laid out anywhere. Perhaps they lay in the wardrobe in the corner. On the arm of the chair the miko just vacated, he saw a familiar brown hidebound book. He reached for it and pulled it to him. Now a touch of embarrassment ghosted up his spine as he thought of her reading his ramblings. He flipped it open to find that his marker had been moved. Under the silver writing utensil, he read the haiku she must have stumbled upon. The back of his neck grew hot as the words leapt out at him-

'The winter lies deep.
It fills me and binds my heart.
She is the summer.'

Seems he was found out. Sesshomaru thought about how she might have taken it. What she might have thought. It worried him a tad. Then he remembered that instead of mockery in her face and words, she'd welcomed him back into the fold. Perhaps she didn't detest him all that much then? The familiar unsteadiness filled him with nervous energy. But with it something else, something like hope.

End of Part One
Her Eyes (Part Two)
Part Two of Five. AU/AR. Some time after Kagome is ripped out of the past after the final battle with Naraku, a mysterious package arrives on Sesshomaru's doorstep. What will investigating this new arrival lead to? Bit of angst, some touching moments. Something about this idea tickled me, so here it is. Disclaimer: This is fanfiction. I do not own anything here. I am not profiting in any way from this, other than personal enrichment of spirit. That is all.
Title: Her Eyes
Category: Anime/Manga » Inuyasha
Author: bluekrishna
Language: English, Rating: Rated: M
Genre: Drama/Romance
Published: 10-08-13, Updated: 11-26-13
Chapters: 23, Words: 49,618

Chapter 1:


This feeling that swept through him threatened to topple the taiyoukai where he stood. He looked down into that small face topped with white curls and felt suddenly so very tiny. Fluffy ears turned this way and that as the boy dreamt, declaring his mixed parentage for all to see. He traced the delicate stripes on each cheek with one long claw, gentle lest he scratch that tender pale skin. Frosted lashes flickered and the pup's eyes opened to flash all the colors of the ocean at him in indignation.

Her eyes.

His already racing heart climbed to another plateau of thumping, filling his sensitive ears with a roaring, thunderous clamor. Sesshomaru took a hitching breath and blinked. He looked away from his son . . . his son . . . before he lost all his composure. Snapping a look at the servant who held the pup up for his inspection. "Where?"

"A wandering one-eyed hermit left the basket on your doorstep."

"Hn." No ningen should ever have been able to get so close as to do so. "Did you question him?"

"Sesshomaru-sama, your guards did not stop him as he approached. He walked between the gateposts unmolested and left the same way." The female neko-youkai trembled as she looked up into his face.

Was he truly that fearsome?

"Were they bewitched?"

"I know not, my lord, but it is possible." The woman looked ready to fall over in fright if he so much as growled in her direction. Not with his whelp in her arms, she wouldn't.

Before he'd really even thought about it, he scooped his pup out of the female's arms, frowning down into his son's serious face. A warm something lanced him in the heart as the boy mirrored his frown. Far from the disgust he'd expected to feel. After all, this pup represented everything he used to hate; the watering down of his mighty bloodline. The breaking of certain laws and customs.

So where was all that carefully crafted disdain? Absent. Perhaps this Sesshomaru is his father's son, after all.

Again, he felt all balance leave him as a scent he'd thought never to smell again wafted up to his nose from the babe's strange coverings. Sesshomaru leaned his face close and breathed deep. It sparked a memory . . ..

"Aishiteru, Sesshomaru," she whispered to him in the dark, her dark hair fanning over his chest.

"You would say such a thing on the dawn of this day?" he asked her, wondering if she heard how his heart sped up at her words. Or if her weak ningen senses kept her oblivious to how she affected him. "
This day of all days?"

"I would have you know. You know, in case . . .."  She lifted her head from his shoulder and looked him in the eye. He saw there the fire that drew him in the first place. Strength and wisdom beyond her scant few years. For all that he'd lived centuries, this onna had the power to make him feel . . . unsure, unsteady. A rare thing that he never thought to tolerate, let alone seek out.

She tested him. In every way. Sesshomaru relished the challenge and rose to meet it. He rolled her small form under his and stared into eyes as blue as the sea. "This Sesshomaru does not require your love. Only that you submit."

And she does and, in so doing, shows him that she trusts him with her life, her heart, everything.

Such perfect faith made him want to be worthy of it.

But later, in the aftermath of the final battle, when he'd found himself surrounded by the screams and howls of her pack, he couldn't tear his eyes away from the last place he'd seen her. His pitiful half-brother clawed at the earth there, as though he would find her buried there.

Sesshomaru knew better. The miko had gone out of the world, back to her own time, no doubt. He bit his lip to keep himself from joining them in their ululations. The loss he felt too keen to share.

"Rin. Jaken." Sesshomaru spun on his heel and started to walk away. His followers falling into step behind him. He took the reins of Ah-Un in hand.

Inuyasha stepped into his path, growling, "After everything, you're just going to walk away?"

"Hn." He stared down at his half-brother, feeling a familiar sort of contemptuous anger bubble up in him. How dare the hanyou stand in his way? "I have lands to administrate. Now that Naraku is dead, I shall no doubt find that task much easier."

"But what about Kagome?" the kitsune kit wailed as he clung to the demon slayer's leg.

"Don't worry, Shippou, we'll get her back." Inuyasha said, shooting Sesshomaru a glare. "And Lord High and Mighty Asshole here is going to help."

"There is nothing this Sesshomaru can do." They didn't see how much this admission of impotence cost him. Nor would they, if he could help it.

That damn halfbreed made to halt him again. How sorely the baka tested his patience. "How can you say that? You won't even try!"

"Whatever magic allowed her to travel between our worlds is gone. The Shikon jewel is no more," said Sesshomaru as he stepped around Inuyasha. "Be glad she is alive and home. We could instead be burying her this day."

"Let him go, Inuyasha." Miroku grabbed the hanyou's arm before he could continue in his unwise course. Sesshomaru felt a shard of gratitude towards the monk. She'd never forgive him if he slaughtered the insolent pup.

"Keh. That son of a bitch never cared."

How wrong you are, little brother. How very wrong. None of this made it past his stiff lips as he strode away from them. The ones she'd loved. He took one more glance at the place she'd once stood so proud and defiant and whispered, "Aishiteru, Kagome."

He snapped out of his reverie with a curt, "Hn."

Small hands played in his long hair as he nuzzled the pup.

Sesshomaru became aware that his servant had been speaking. He turned his golden gaze upon her to see that she had a scrap of paper in her hand, holding it out to him. He took it from her and commanded, "Leave us."

Us? How easily the boy wormed his way into his regard. The corner of his mouth quirked up in a sardonic smile.

Setting the pup back in his basket, the lord lifted both and sat at his writing desk. Making sure the child lay close at hand, he opened the letter.

'My Sesshomaru,' "And they say I'm the arrogant one." He hummed in amusement and continued reading.

'All these long months, I wondered how you were. What you were doing. If you found happiness. Nothing I could find in my grandfather's library could tell me of what happened to all of my friends. To you. I watched my belly grow with joy and sorrow. And on the day he was born, how I ached wishing you were there to see him. He's beautiful, is he not? Those cute ears.

It is because of his . . . differences that I send him to you, though it breaks my heart to do so. He is not safe here. There is something happening in Tokyo that I don't understand as yet. Strange occurrences that have our people baffled. All my power and knowledge I bent to the task of giving our son a chance to live. And know his father. A boy needs his father.

I know it will be hard. He is hanyou. And you hate the idea of them so much. But please soften your heart to him, as you once did to me. If you ever had an ounce of caring for me, please . . . acknowledge him. Do not turn him away.

His name is Kenshin.


He read with dawning horror. Acknowledge him? Did she not know that naming this pup his heir would most assuredly make him the target of every assassin in Japan? Not to mention his own court bowing to a hanyou? Impossible. Just impossible. How could he set this boy before any full-blooded pup of his he might whelp on a youkai female?

Fear lanced through him as he contemplated raising the pup himself. Was he up to the task? Or would he end up hating the boy when he failed to live up to his father's expectations. It seemed inevitable. He looked over at his son and brushed a lock of silver hair away from one downy cheek. "Oh, miko, what have you done?"

Chapter 2:

It began with a question.

"Sesshomaru-sama, why do you stare so out over the meadow?" A soft, warm voice broke his meditation. He waited for annoyance to ripple through him, felt a tad bereft when it failed to.


He felt his brow crease as he turned to that voice. Blue eyes, bright even under the gibbous moon looked back at him with honest curiosity. Ah, the miko who had his half-brother on a leash. He appraised her with a raised brow. Human meant inconsequential in his vocabulary, but this onna had the annoying habit of having thwarted him on more than one occasion. True, she is the Shikon Miko and houses a power in her weak human body that rivals lesser demons. And some . . . not so lesser.

Contemplating her question, he surmised there to be no harm in answering, "I watch."

"Watching what, lord?" Her courtesy shouldn't have astonished him, since it was his due. But from her, it seemed somehow different. More sincere, maybe.

He tilted his head as he looked down at her. Her senses must truly be feeble. Spreading his one hand out toward that field, Sesshomaru let his aura, his jyaki, flare. There came an immediate response, a chain reaction of bright motes of light in that meadow as the multitude of tiny beings that resided there fled his threatening presence. Thousands of small globes of radiance flew upward and away.

A glance to the side took him aback for a moment. The miko's face filled with rapturous delight as she watched. It made her seem so young, as young as his ward, Rin. He looked back at the field and tried to see it as she saw it. Something commonplace, banal even, but somewhere in it, she saw more. What could she see that he did not? She said, awe coloring her tone, "What are they?"

"Spirits, no bigger than a grain of sand." What sort of miko did not know this?

"So pretty," she whispered, breathless. The lights flew about each other in a dizzying display, even he had to admit they had an aesthetic quality.

Sesshomaru almost started at a light touch on his arm. She would dare? He stared down at the offending appendage, then a little higher at the miko, but so entranced was she that his ire went unnoticed. He couldn't remember the last time someone laid a hand on his person without his permission. This strange little ningen's bravery astounded him.

She made a sound of disappointment as the field emptied, hand reaching out as though to catch the spirits and bring them back. "Aw, why are they leaving?"

"They believe this Sesshomaru wishes to devour them." He smirked at the look of dismay she shot him.

"You wouldn't do that, would you, Sesshomaru-sama?"

"Do not presume to tell me what I would or would not do." The demon lord flashed narrowed eyes at her, though, in truth, her impudence didn't raise more than a whisper of anger in him. But respect is everything. He felt a touch of surprise when she didn't shrink away.

Instead, she looked up at him with a cheeky grin. "If you had wished to eat them, you wouldn't be just watching them."


"I think you find them pretty, too. I think you find it soothing." Her playful tone teased him. Then the hand that he, for some unaccountable reason, hadn't removed at the wrist squeezed his arm and shocked him with a surge of mysterious warmth that tingled along his skin there. She continued, "I think you like to watch them dance."

He suppressed a growl with difficulty. Ningen, always overstepping their bounds. "This Sesshomaru cares not."

Silence followed his soft declaration and when her hand left his arm, he frowned at the foreign emotion that flickered in him. A sort of disquiet he wanted to label disappointment. Why he should feel it now that the onna remembered her place, he didn't know. He watched her face turn back to look into that field, saw it gain a pensive cast. Nothing remained in the meadow to hold his attention. Besides, he'd found a much more intriguing mystery in the human female beside him.

She broke the silence first. "We're getting closer."

"Hn." Sesshomaru flipped his long hair back over his shoulder and ran his hand over his moko-moko. "The dark hanyou makes many mistakes. Soon, this Sesshomaru will end him."

"Very soon, I hope. We'll catch up to him and . . . and we'll . . .." She faltered, and her fingers flew up to play with her bottom lip.

"The time for squeamishness has passed."

She sighed. "Yes, it has. Naraku will reap what he's sown. No one who's done what he's done should get away with it." The miko dropped a fisted hand into open palm, strength filling her stance. "We'll kill him."

He expected to be amused at this kitten playing at being a tiger, but in that moment, she did seem imposing. Sesshomaru knew then that he made the right decision joining forces with her pack. They made good allies. They'd help him fulfill his personal vendetta with that filth, Naraku.

The miko sighed again, sadness in the soft exhalation. Sesshomaru turned his head to see what caught her attention and saw a long serpentine shape ghost over the trees, a white orb in its clutches. He mumbled, "A soul stealer."

"Hmm," she intoned, eyes turning stormy under lowered brows.

"The undead miko is nearby." He'd felt her presence enter the forest long before the sun went down and they made camp, but dismissed her as unimportant at the time.

"Kikyo. Inuyasha will go to her."

Sesshomaru watched her chew on her lip for a time before commenting, "This bothers you."

"Used to. Now I'm more . . . resigned than anything."

"Then why do you still follow him?"

"Other than finding all the jewel shards? And defeating Naraku?" She paused, looking thoughtful. He allowed her this time as he knew she gave his question all due consideration. It pleased him that she didn't take him or his query lightly. Slow, as if she drew it from her like water from a deep well, she said, "He was the first."

Puzzled, Sesshomaru leaned toward her and drew in a deep breath through his nose. Her hair tickled his face. He closed his eyes as he searched her scent for a change. No, her virginity remained intact. He opened his eyes to see that she stared at him with wide saucer-like eyes. This close, his face inches from hers, the moon illuminated her well enough so that he could see the flush that spread over her cheeks and nose. Frowning, he settled back on the tree he'd rested on previous to her arrival. "You are as yet untouched."

The miko gave him a tight, too-bright smile as she leaned away from him for a moment. Her embarrassment confused the taiyoukai. She hid her chagrin behind one elegant hand. "I didn't mean that way, Sesshomaru-sama."

"Hn." He gestured that she explain then.

"I-I, well,-" she sputtered, clearly flustered. Then she coughed and calmed herself. She peered at him from under ebony bangs. "Have you never known love, Sesshomaru-sama?"

He suppressed a snort. "Love is a useless emotion."

"Really?" she queried. Under the politeness, he heard dissent.

"Love does not clothe or feed this Sesshomaru. Love does not keep my lands in order or defeat powerful enemies like Naraku," he began, suddenly aware that this was the longest he'd ever conversed with any one being. The miko gave an almost imperceptible shake of her head. He mused, "You disagree."

"All I know is I didn't feel as much before I met him. I was a silly girl then, infatuated and naive." She looked up at the moon and hugged herself. "I thought love was all roses and chocolate. And happy endings. He-he touched a well in me and made ripples. It . . . woke me up. The world became brighter, clearer. More precious. With the highs came the lows. But I was glad all the same. I didn't know love could be so sad."

"It sounds like weakness. Why hurt if one is not bleeding?" Better to not have it at all then.

"Food feeds the body. Love feeds the soul. Makes it strong. Brave." She laughed, a light musical sound that drew him closer. She gestured to herself in a self-deprecating sweep. "Without it, I don't think I could have ever come this far."

Such a thing almost made his vengeance seem petty. It gained him nothing but the prevention of further diminishment. He struggled to dismiss this unwelcome thought. No, nothing could be as important as addressing the slight to his honor. Naraku deserved to die just for that. But still . . . there could be no denying the pull of her assertions. What could there be in this fanciful notion called love that others found rewarding?

"Not that it matters," the miko said, shrugging, "I'll always come second to her in his eyes. She's better than me in every way, I suppose. Definitely better at this miko nonsense. He loves her and I guess that means he'll never see me for me. I'm just her shadow."

"No, miko. She is just your shadow. You are the Shikon Miko. Your soul empowers that construct. My half-brother," he spat the word, how it burned to acknowledge the baka even that much, "sees only the woman from his past, not the clay imitation of the present. Someday, he will know his folly."

The miko made a non-committal noise in her throat, but turned a sweet smile upon him. "Careful, Sesshomaru-sama, someone might think you care."

He felt a tremor of doubt fill him. Did he care? He felt a frown tug at his mouth. Just then a flash of red caught his eye out there in the treetops. "He goes."

The miko at his side turned on her heel and stalked back toward camp. Her voice called to him and he turned to see her shoot him an unreadable look over her shoulder. "This Kagome cares not."

His brows lifted in surprise as he watched her slip through the forest and settle at her bedroll. The fox kit and Rin squirmed into her lap the moment she sat and soon the trio slumbered in the firelight. A half-smile played around his lips as he pondered her words. They meant to mock him, surely, yet he could find no umbrage in him about it.

The meadow seemed so empty now as he turned his attention back to it. His flashy and prideful demonstration would probably keep the lowly spirits away for a fortnight. Too bad, for though he'd never admit it to anyone, he did 'like' to watch their small movements in the tall grasses. Think about how they lived their simple existences. A soft noise left his mouth and he startled himself with the realization that it sounded like a short chuckle. So much so that it begged a repeat. He listened to himself laugh with a touch of wonder. Had he ever laughed before? He couldn't recall.
The rest of the night he spent in heavy contemplation of all he'd experienced the night before and the small miko at the campsite at his back.

Chapter 3

Sesshomaru, lord of the Western Lands, deliberated for six whole days.

His castle seemed empty, with the way his servants crept from room to room, showing a surprising talent for stealth. He knew they felt anxious, unsure why their lord brooded and fearful of what he might do once he left his self-imposed confinement. With senses that extended throughout the whole of his abode, he heard them scurry and whisper. Already, the rumors spread.

The pup he left in the care of the neko demon that found him. After warning her of the consequences should she lack discretion, of course. The look of abject terror in her eyes gratified him. It told him she'd handle the boy with care. He'd know if she didn't. Nothing occurred under his roof without his knowledge. He knew when the pup slept, when he ate, when he cried out for the absent comfort of his mother's presence. Thankfully, this did not happen often. Those gusty wails that rang through his halls provoked a headache in Sesshomaru's already crowded mind.

With reluctance, the lord realized how ill-equipped he was to handle the situation on his own. And, while he knew he could trust his vassals to the point of pain, his court remained a completely different matter altogether. Between the intrigues and politics, assassinations, frequent shows of military prowess and securing of his borders, his son had a very low chance of survival. Here, at least.

Sesshomaru stood from where he'd sat for the last week and, with practiced ease, dressed for travel. He pondered for a moment his left arm, how the skin still seemed a tiny bit paler in comparison to the rest of him. Since regrowing it and acquiring Bakusaiga, he still marveled at times on how easy certain simple tasks became with the aid of two hands. As he prided himself on his self-sufficiency, he'd spent a lot of time learning how to cope with just one arm. But some things resisted mastery, like . . . tying knots one-handed. He managed. Maybe not with as much grace as he'd like, but still. How nice to not have to deal with that any more.

Armed and armored, he strode to his courtyard. A hush followed him. The few servants he encountered abased themselves before him. Pride touched the lord, then. Responsibility for these lives had sat on his shoulders alone since a young age, younger than when most lords came into their power. He knew he'd done well. The Western Lands prospered under his rule.

But now came a challenge that might throw all of that into chaos. Would, in all likelihood. Odd that it came shaped as a half-breed child.

"Jaken." The most faithful of his vassals appeared at his soft call.

"Yes, Sesshomaru-sama?" The imp-like demon said from where he bowed in the dirt. For a moment, Sesshomaru felt the temptation to give Jaken a little kick, as he did in days past to merely pass the time.

"Bring me the pup. Wrapped for warmth against the fall chill." Within moments, Jaken accomplished the task and the boy lay in the crook of his arm, looking around with those so curious eyes of his. So like little mirrors of the sky they seemed. Sesshomaru cocked an eyebrow at their voracious interest. "Jaken, mind the household."

Bending his powers to his will, a small cloud of youki formed at his feet and bore them aloft. The boy made a sound of pure delight as they flew over the walls and fields surrounding his castle. He felt a stirring urge to smile with the babe and indulged. No one else could see him after all, except a pup who couldn't let anyone know the great and terrible inu-youkai smiled for no other reason than to do so.

He passed the stones that marked the edge of his domain within the hour, heading east. Something tickled at his nares and he breathed deep, trying to identify it. Another youkai. Headed in his direction. He squinted against the wind to focus on a speck on the horizon. With a practiced flick of a thumb, he released the knots that secured his swords into their scabbards and waited.
That dot resolved itself into the familiar shape of Guhin, tengu lieutenant of his armies of the West. The mountain goblin gripped a halberd in one hand. Not many would meet their lord with naked blade unless something dire happened or they planned something very foolish. Sesshomaru frowned at the other's unexpected intrusion.

The tengu wheeled to bring himself alongside his lord. Sesshomaru acknowledged him with a nod. Guhin eyed the bundle in the lord's arms and said, "Why does the lord leave his lands at so inauspicious a time?"

"This Sesshomaru does as he pleases," his stern tone warned, "Return to your people's mountain aeries and worry not over the business of your betters."

"Your servant apologizes, Sesshomaru-sama." The mountain goblin genuflected mid-air, his light armor clanking. "General Byakko merely wished to know if the lord needed an escort to . . .."

Sesshomaru didn't rise to the bait, suspicion raising red flags in the back of his mind. "Where I go is my own business, tengu. Byakko would do well to remember who commands the West."

Guhin swooped in front of him, making him stop or collide with the feathered upstart. "Your court demands your presence. They have questions about . . .that." The tengu jabbed a thorny talon in the direction of the pup.

The thought of impending battle made a pleasant thrumming alight along his skin. Sesshomaru cradled the pup in his moko-moko, knowing that, as an extension of himself, it wouldn't let his son fall. In a pleasant, but deadly tone, he said, "They . . . demand?"

"The war with the Eastern youkai rages on and the lord has yet to produce an full-blooded heir. They wish only to have . . . assurances-," the bird youkai stammered, rubbing his long beak of a nose, "and now you leave your house to fly east with a hanyou basta-SQUAWK!"

A second later, if the tengu had been the tiniest bit less prepared, Guhin would have been spitted on Bakusaiga. The ring of steel on steel filled the air as they fought above the tree tops. But as fast as the mountain goblin attacked, Sesshomaru countered with very little effort. The inu felt grim satisfaction in every exchange. "I have to admit, I didn't expect the court to make so bold a move this soon."

Guhin grunted as he defended with wild slashes. "Some in your court believe your judgement is slipping! Perhaps it is time for a change!"

"This Sesshomaru thinks the traitor might speak a truth of sorts. Though you will never see it come to pass!" With a last thrust, Sesshomaru buried Bakusaiga in the tengu's breast. He yanked it free and watched as the youkai's body disintegrated as it fell to the ground. Sheathing his sword, he once more took his son into his arms and spoke down into blue eyes that looked up at him in awe, "Lesson one: Respect is everything. It must be taken. There is only one punishment for betrayal. That baka tengu should have realized he sealed his fate with the flapping of his tongue."
He sighed as small, pudgy fingers buried themselves in his hair. "We'll revisit this lesson when you're older . . .. Often."

The wind in his face, the rush of adrenaline in his veins did well to distract him from unpleasant thoughts of the vipers he left back there in his house. Once his son was as safe as one could realistically hope, Sesshomaru planned to do a little weeding. He mused, Culling might be a better word.

The sun lay on the horizon before he reached his destination. He landed outside of the human settlement so that he wouldn't falter mid-flight as he passed through the village's protective barrier. As he breached the boundaries marked by rice paddies, he couldn't help but shiver at the purifying energies that washed over him. Sesshomaru thwarted them with a wave of his hand and they ceased pestering him. He'd been here before many times and meant no harm.

He sought out a familiar house and waited in front as he always had for the ningen inside to feel his presence. The older one probably felt him coming miles away. The door slid open and a young girl who looked older than he remembered threw herself out to greet him with a shouted, "Sesshomaru-sama! Rin is so happy to see you!"

She slid to a stop before him, all eagerness and affection. Her brown eyes sparkled up at him and he couldn't resist resting one hand on her messy black hair for a moment. "Rin."

"We didn't expect a visit from you til spring, lord." Kaede said from the doorway. "A long way to travel so close to the end of the year."

"What is a few leagues to this Sesshomaru?" He followed them as they beckoned him inside with words of welcome. He left his sandals on their porch and sat with them at their small hearth. "Is that hanyou residing here?"

Kaede chuckled, and said, with a warm smile, "When your half-brother deigns to grace us with his ill manners and foul temperament, yes."


"Rin hasn't seen Inuyasha for three moons, Sesshomaru-sama," said the girl who sat to his right.

For all that she seemed on the verge of puberty, her eyes still exuded wonderment and adoration. Pleasant to be regarded so past his titles and airs. Only one other had ever done so.

Just then, his pup hiccoughed, loud and unmistakable. Sesshomaru watched with hidden amusement as the old priestess dropped her ladle into the soup kettle with a clang. She turned to him with glacial slowness, shock on her face. Kaede swallowed as her eyes moved to his arm, where the boy lay concealed in his moko-moko. He watched her screw up her courage to ask, "What do you have there, Sesshomaru-sama?"

He revealed the tiny pup to them. Rin exclaimed in wordless amazement as she peered down into the boy's face. Kaede crowded close as well, though leery of testing Sesshomaru's tolerance of her proximity. Her sharp eyes flicked from the babe's face to his and back. Sesshomaru nodded to confirm the question in her eyes.

"Oooh, so kawaii!" Rin, bold as ever, tweaked one of the boy's soft little ears. It elicited a displeased little growl from his son, along with a monstrously huge yawn. Sesshomaru felt his lips twitch in response.

"How?" Kaede asked.

"I know not. A one-eyed hermit brought the pup to my doorstep. I had my guards search for him after, but they did not find a single sign of him."

"Strange . . .."

"May Rin hold him?"

He deposited his son into her arms and turned to the elderly priestess. "When will Inuyasha be back?"

"He's never away for long."

"Good." When it looked like she expected more, he arched a brow at her and waved a hand towards his son. "I have a task for him."

Kaede looked taken aback. Her hand flew to her chest. "Are you sure that's-"

Sesshomaru warned her against questioning his judgement with a look. Did he not spend six sleepless days and nights thinking about this? Not that he really needed sleep as much as ningen did, but she should know by now that he never did anything without due consideration. "He shall not do it alone."

"No, of course not. Rin will help. Rin will go get goat's milk for Sesshomaru-sama's pup." With that, she passed the babe on to Kaede and bounced out the door.

Kaede handled the boy with ginger care, arranging him in her arms. She hand a wizened hand over his short silver curls and smiled. "He is beautiful, lord. I see much of you in him. And her, as well."

"Hn." He kept his face serene. She didn't need to know how her observation pleased him.

"It may be several weeks before that Inuyasha shows up." Her eyes told him if he needed her to keep the boy so he could be on his way, she would do this. For the pup's sake as well as for her lost friend's.

"This Sesshomaru will wait." He had a feeling that the importance of this task might need to be communicated with force. Such things required a delicate hand when dealing with his volatile half-brother. But in that, he'd learned a few tricks from the miko. Tricks that he knew would come in handy someday.

Chapter 4

"-'. . . is clouded with a doubt)— To the island-valley of Avalon; where falls not hail, or rain, or any snow, nor ever wind blows loudly; but it lies deep-meadowed, happy, fair with orchard lawns and bowery hollows crowned with summer sea, where I will heal me of my grievous wound.'" Her soft voice lilted in an interesting cadence as she read from a book to the children at her feet. Rin and Shippo made twin sounds of amazement that turned sour as Kagome placed a fallen leaf in the book to mark the page. "And I think that's enough for tonight. Time to sleep."

Sesshomaru listened close as his ward asked, "Rin doesn't understand. What does it mean?"

"And-and where is this Avalon?" added the fox kit. Soon questions flew about the miko as she struggled to answer one before another leapt upon her. All leading to one question that both children spoke in tandem. "Did any of that really happen?"

Kagome ran a hand over her face and sighed, then looked down into their tense and waiting faces. "Truth is, no one knows if King Arthur really existed or not. Whether a peerless warrior, or a symbol of virtue, or naive victim of fate, he's really more of an . . . idea than anything."

Shippo threw his hands in the air. "Bah! Then what's the point?" His huge eyes belied the cynicism of his words, however.

"Well, he and his Camelot are an ideal to strive for, a dream of a golden age. Sort of saying, 'Look at the heights we climbed to. See that we can get there again someday.' It is said that on his empty tomb, there is an inscription-'Hic iacet Arthurus, rex quondam, rexque futurus.' Here lies Arthur, once and future king."

"Future?" Rin asked, pulling at her bangs.

"Yes, the legend has it that when the world needs him most, King Arthur will wake from his slumber and return and a new Camelot shall rise, forevermore." With that, the miko admonished them, "Now sleep. I'll read more tomorrow night. If you're good."

"Kagome-chan, do you think I could be like that Mer-leen when I grow up?" Shippo yawned and rubbed his eyes.

The miko placed a kiss on the kit's brow and giggled. "I bet you can be even better at sorcery than Merlin."

"Rin wants to be like the pretty lady in the water."

Kagome gave her a little poke on the nose and said, "Kagome thinks Rin will be a very pretty lady one day."

Once the children slept, the miko stood and approached Sesshomaru, walking past her dozing companions. The inu lord nodded to her in greeting. The slim volume from which she'd read the fascinating story drew his eye where it lay tucked under her arm. "May I see it?"

She smiled and handed it over. Sesshomaru felt of the almost bark-like cover, read the neat characters on the front and spine. He opened it to a random page and saw how crisp and white they were. Such fine and thin wood-pulp paper he'd never seen. Curious, he licked a corner of a page, trying to discern its origin by taste, to no avail. And the words themselves a marvel, concise and spaced with flawless precision. He thought to himself, This is not calligraphy. Aloud, he said, "No brush has ever touched this paper."

The onna shifted from one foot to another under his questioning stare. Reluctantly, she said, "No, it's printed."


"It . . . would be hard to explain."

"Do you think this Sesshomaru ignorant?" A note of warning entered his tone.

"What? No, no! I just-if-" she backpedaled, much to his amusement. "I'd have to explain a whole lot of other . . . things if I tried. Things you may not believe."

"I might surprise you with what I'd believe." He smirked and closed the book in his hand. "This Sesshomaru might have wondered where the miko goes when she leaps down the old well. He might have pondered the meaning of the ningen girl who dresses so scandalously and watched as she rode a strange two-wheeled contraption across the whole of Japan. She appears to know nothing of engineering or the forging of such a device, so one might conclude that wherever she hails from, these marvels must be commonplace."

Kagome gulped as she looked up at him, her face flushing. She seemed to have lost her voice, or perhaps he'd stolen her breath. Strangely satisfying to be the one to surprise her, for once.

He continued, "This Sesshomaru sees an inconsistency. The miko is obviously native to this country, but dresses in foreign attire made from plant fiber not found on this island. A cloth woven finer than any ningen homespun cotton. She carries books she can clearly read better than any peasant. She is no noble, nor wealthy enough to afford such largesse. How can this onna seem to belong, yet not belong? This Sesshomaru would know."

She gaped at him, blinking. After a long moment, she managed, "Sesshomaru-sama sees a lot."

"Indeed. Will you honor him with the truth?" Sesshomaru gestured for her to walk with him. The miko glanced back at her friends as though loathe to leave them without protection. He assured her with a drawled, "I will know if a threat approaches."

Thus comforted, she strode along the forest floor at his side. He waited for her to gather her thoughts. She laughed to herself and said, "I don't even know where to begin."

"Begin where it is always prudent to. The beginning." He favored her with a small half-smile and an encouraging wave of his one hand.

Kagome cleared her throat and nodded to herself. She looked at him from under her thick black lashes. "Well, it all started two years ago when a centipede youkai pulled me into the sacred well . . .."

He listened to her story with growing amazement, which he hid under a stoic mask. He interjected a few times to ask questions, and to clarify certain points. Despite his earlier words, he found himself struggling to believe. But logic told him that all evidence pointed in the same direction, confirming the veracity of her tale. When she reached the present, he asked, "And where are the youkai in this modern world of yours?"

"Gone. Disappeared or maybe hidden. They're remembered as legend only, part of a mythic age that never really existed."

Sesshomaru made a show of touching his own shoulder and chest. When she turned a questioning eye on him, he said, dry and amused, "This Sesshomaru feels very solid for being a mere myth."

Kagome giggled. "I can't believe you just made a joke. Can it be that there is a sense of humor under that all that pride?"

"This Sesshomaru has much to be proud of. The discipline to never show what he is thinking or feeling, for one." He half-turned to her and watched the moonlight glisten in her hair. "It does not mean he is incapable of either."

"I'm sorry. You're just so serious, most of the time." She flashed her teeth at him. From experience, he knew this as a display of pleasure among the ningen. Not the threat it meant among his own kind. He subdued the urge to rise to the challenge as his beast prodded him to and forced his muscles to relax once more. Kagome noticed his discomfort right away. "Did I do something wrong?"

"It need not concern you." To distract himself from her pale throat, he hefted the book once more. "So, this . . . poetry. It comes from your age?"

"As we've adopted the Gregorian calendar, I come from the year 1999 AD. This is sometime in the late 1400's. Idylls of the King was written in 1859."

"The prose is far more elegant than I'd thought westerners capable of."

Again, she seemed startled. "You . . . know about Europe?"

He frowned. "This Sesshomaru has traveled." He found her incredulity a tad insulting.

"I didn't mean to offend, Sesshomaru-sama. I just meant, you know, limits of technology, plus Japan is an island-"

It seemed safer to interject before she truly did offend. "Youkai can fly. And I wasn't always tied to lordship."

"Of-of course." She averted her eyes. That pleased him. Then she surprised him with a question. "So you've been to other countries? Are there other youkai and things there?"

"This Sesshomaru has seen many strange places and peoples in the last five hundred years. The ancient land of the Han people with their stodgy, bureaucratic gods. The far northern wilderness where trees still walk. A land of dark-skinned ningen where Death himself owns residence." He resisted preening before her wondering gaze. "The westerners who wrote this book of poems of yours were not much but barbarians on the verge of eating each other when last this inu looked upon them."

"The dark ages," she whispered, in awe.

"It did seem a wolf's age," he agreed. Then he drew her attention back to the book. "Do you have anything of Japan?"

"I-I did, but this semester was British Literature, sooo . . .. Wait, I might have-I'll be right back." She sprinted back towards camp. Sesshomaru found in him the uncomfortable urge to give chase, nip at her heels. Maybe bring her down under his weight like the graceful deer she seemed running in the misty midnight gloom and-

He shook his head clear of such odd thoughts and growled softly at himself. What ailed him? For a moment, he almost had an answer, but a swelling denial swept through him before it could coalesce into more than a foggy inkling.

Sesshomaru looked up as she returned with another bound tome in her hands, much smaller than the one he still held. She passed it to him without a word. He, in similar fashion, gave her back the book about the sleeping king. He perused through the first few pages, noting that each page contained only three lines. Further study garnered an interesting tidbit, which he deigned to share. "Always, five, then seven, then five again. Why?"

"They are called haiku, Sesshomaru. Poems that follow a specific pattern, but in that pattern, limitless combination."

"I see. Three lines, only ten-and-seven syllables. One whole concept." The idea charmed him. He flipped to the back where the pages seemed a bit more wrinkled. There he found hand-written ones along with a slim metal cylinder that marked the latest entry. He shot her a query with his eyes.

"Oh, I, uh, I wrote those. Some publishers leave empty pages in the backs so you can add to them if you choose."

He read one aloud, "'I lay in my bed/ wishing exams were over/ so I could go back.'"

"I didn't say they were good." Embarrassment played about her face. He found it endearing, the way her eyes kept darting around, avoiding him. When she finally did meet his mirthful gaze, she stopped and her brows drew together. "Are you laughing at me, Sesshomaru-sama?"

"This Sesshomaru doesn't recall making a sound that could be construed as such." The corner of his mouth twitched, despite his best efforts to keep a straight face.

"You are laughing at me!" She made a show of mock anger, hand on hip. Her finger stopped just shy of his chest. Sesshomaru snapped at it, clicking his teeth closed only an inch from her fingertip. Kagome pulled it back with a frightened, "Eep!" Her eyes went wide as she stared at him.

In truth, his action puzzled him as well. It seemed he lacked control over his compulsions around her. To cover up his obvious fumble, he smirked at her. This Sesshomaru meant to do that.

The miko burst into laughter. He started at the sudden sound. Her mirth stretched on and on until he started to get concerned that she might pass out from lack of air. He tucked the book of haiku into the tamoto of his empty sleeve and reached out to grasp her quaking shoulder. "Kagome, breathe."

She sucked in oxygen between gasps, clutching her ribs. Calm restored, though her eyes still gleamed and her cheeks remained deeply flushed. Pink on porcelain. It came together in an alluring way. He felt an itch to let his hand slide up her long column of a neck and feel the pulse thrum there under her skin. Jerking his hand away, he stood stock-still, flustered.

Her rosy lips parted and she whispered, "I think that's the first time you've ever said my name."

He found he couldn't refute her claim.

Kagome swept her bangs out of her eyes slowly, locking stares with him. His heart accelerated as some undefinable feeling arced in the air between them like lightning. The tension mounted until he could barely stand still, a thing unheard of in his experience.

After what felt like an eternity, her eyes flicked away from his. Sesshomaru almost swayed in the absence of it. Reason reasserted itself and he watched her turn and head back toward camp. She said over her shoulder, "Thank you for the company and conversation, Sesshomaru."

The taiyoukai nodded, giving nothing away of his internal struggle for control. Unwilling to go back to camp until he had a few things sorted, he sat on a tree bole. He had much to think about this night.

Chapter 5

"What's he doin' here?" So began most of their conversations.

"This Sesshomaru is pleased to see you, too." Sarcasm colored his tone with sourness. The taiyoukai ran a hand through his hair, feeling the past try to manipulate him into reacting to his half-brother's vitriol as he'd always done. With violence. That would not do for his purposes.

"Hn." Inuyasha stomped into the small house and plopped down on the other side of the cookpot. He rolled over onto his side, presenting his back to the demon lord.

For his part, Sesshomaru felt torn between amusement and offense. And therein lay a sort of comfort in the idea that nothing had changed the dynamic of their relationship. Though, now, that also would deviate like a river from its well-worn familiar path, of course, but it couldn't be helped.

"Is that any way to greet your brother, Inuyasha?" Kaede admonished, waving a ladle in protest.

Sesshomaru smirked as he mouthed in sync with his brother's next words. "Half-brother!"

"You are ever predictable, half-brother," said Sesshomaru.

The hanyou lunged to his feet and shook a fist in his direction, shouting, "And you're still a stuck-up, prissy little motherfu-!"

"Inuyasha!" Armed with ladle, Kaede struck all along that thick skull until the hanyou shrank away from the blows, cowed and still cursing. "I won't have you say such filthy things in my house! I don't need prayer beads to put you down!"

Sesshomaru, impressed by the old priestess's fury, pursed his lips to keep them from spreading into a smile. He decided to extend the olive branch. "Do you not truly wonder why I am here?"

"Tch. To see Rin, like always."

"At least listen to the lord, Inuyasha. He's waited a long time for you to show up."

"Oh yeah? Well, I'm here. Now you can go back to your little castle and toy soldiers."

Sesshomaru sighed. It truly was difficult to speak to his crass fool of a brother. "This Sesshomaru finds himself in the unpleasant, but necessary position of asking a favor of his brother."

"Half-brother and you can-Wait. What?" Now, the hanyou pricked up both ears and swung an incredulous face to him.

Just then, Rin returned from market, the boy in a sling across her chest and a basket under one arm. Tufts of silver hair peeked out over the rough cloth. "Rin is home. She found many good things for Sesshomaru-sama, Kaede-sama and herself to eat, along with fresh milk for the pup."

"The . . . pup?" Inuyasha gaped anew.

"Hello, Inuyasha! Rin missed you." The girl set down her groceries and handed the boy to Sesshomaru before turning to embrace the hanyou.

He put her by with a light shove. "Nevermind that nonsense! Who's kid is that?"

Sesshomaru let a smile surface on his face as he peeled back the sling's swaddling. He lifted the boy for the hanyou to see and said, with no small amount of smug pride, "Why, mine. Of course."

With the word 'mine', he flared his aura, leaving no doubt in anyone's mind how he felt about the matter. Inuyasha took one slow step after another until he stood only a foot away. Then he dropped into a crouch and stared, unbelieving, into a face topped by fluffy, pointed ears, so like his own.

Sesshomaru watched thought after thought race over his brother's naked countenance and almost felt pity. Kagome had told him something of Inuyasha's life as an outcast.

"Knocked up some poor ningen girl, did we? Well, who is she so I know where to send my letter of consolati- . . .." His words trailed off as the babe opened silver-fringed eyes to reveal irises of an unmistakable color. "No . . .."



"An oft-asked question. To which this Sesshomaru has no real answer."

"I would have known if she'd come back through the well."

"As would I."

"Then how?" Inuyasha's eyes burned into his own and Sesshomaru was reminded that, while his brother's skill at combat did in no way approach his own, Inuyasha had a bonfire at his heart. Somewhere in his mixed blood, his two natures came together to make him all the more formidable. Demon strength, human passion. Would that his own son grew to be as such.

Sesshomaru chuckled to himself, How strange to see a flaw in myself after so long believing demons were flawless. And to see a virtue in the weak ningen inhabitants of these lands. "I have given you the answer to that already."

"Now, you have my attention. What do you want?" Inuyasha sat to his left, where he could clearly see the boy's face.

Sesshomaru brushed a finger over the back of the pup's hand. "I would have him safe. And this Sesshomaru can think of no place safer than among the people who loved his mother and could come to show him love."

"So you're just going to ditch him here." Bitterness flew from the hanyou's mouth. "I knew it. When it comes down to it, you're just the same selfish prick who hands his problems over for other people to take care of them."

It tempted fast and bloody retaliation, but Sesshomaru took a deep breath to calm the raging of his beast before looking at his brother full in the face. "Would you have him be like you?"

The words hit their mark with unerring accuracy. Sesshomaru felt some measure of regret for the agony he saw in Inuyasha's eyes. But then taiyoukai pressed on, "This Sesshomaru would not have others look upon his son and say words like 'outcast' and 'abomination.'"

"Words he himself used not long ago," accused the recipient of the same. Inuyasha ducked his head so that his bangs covered his eyes.

"It is true that I have fought for most of my life to keep the youkai and ningen worlds separate. You came to represent the worst of both to me. I saw only crudeness and lack of discipline. Perhaps that was wrong." Sesshomaru ran his fingers through his son's hair, felt of the softness of it. The downy fur along those ears tickled his hand as they flicked in reaction.

"Are you really admitting you were wrong?"

"This Sesshomaru is not infallible, as was proven to him on many an occasion. Much to his dismay." Sesshomaru almost laughed at the comical look of astonishment that crossed over his brother's face then. All of their faces, really. Even Rin's. "Do not seem so shocked. You strove so hard to witness such a thing once upon a time. Be glad."

"Yeah, but to hear you actually say it." Inuyasha shivered and glanced around. "Maybe someone should go check to see if hell froze over."

"I'd offer to send you there to check, but that would be counterproductive."

Kaede and Rin laughed at his wry quip while Inuyasha reeled in stunned amazement. The hanyou shook himself all over and said, "I can't believe I'm hearing this. And that you're-Or that I'm considering doing what you ask."

"Shall I beg?" Sesshomaru raised one elegant eyebrow to let him know that had no chance of happening. "My options are few. Father never took you to court, did he?"

"No, he didn't. I was too young. I'm sure he didn't want to flaunt his hanyou bastard, either."

"The slings and arrows you endured in the ningen world are nothing compared to the machinations of centuries-old demon lords. Their ambitions know no bounds. Most don't know an ounce of pity or remorse. They would not hesitate to devour an infant. Rip him to pieces and leave him for the carrion birds." He saw horror etched on their faces and felt gratified he'd gotten his point across. "They know of his existence, but not my intentions. Some may come to claim him, but here, away from the court and its influences, he might have a chance at more than just surviving."

Inuyasha's eyes told the story of what would become of any youkai that dared try to lay a hand on his nephew. Sesshomaru knew he had him, then. The task, though hard, would not find its champion wanting. "Where will you be?"

"Doing all that I can to thwart them. I have a responsibility to them as their lord. But I will come at times to see my son grow and attend to his lessons. He has much to learn."

"As long as you don't teach him to be an asshole, he should get along fine."

"You have no pride, brother. I would have him respected."

"You would have a lot of things, wouldn't you. Tch!" Inuyasha leaned closer so that they sat nose to nose. Sesshomaru felt his hackles raise meeting the challenging stare. A large part of him wanted to put this baka in his place. He refrained with difficulty. The hanyou said, low and cold, "Tell me this. Why would you even bother with this half-breed mutt?"

Sesshomaru deliberated for a long moment before doing something he thought he'd never do before the hanyou. One by one, he let his defenses down, the walls he built up to protect his innermost self from outside forces. Layers of ice around his heart fell away. He let his true feelings filter through his gaze. The pain, the grief, the horrible regret. The worst parts of him lay bare. But also the best parts, like the shining warmth he'd learned from one unassuming woman from the other side of time and the compassion he'd learned after taking Rin as his ward. The mastery of his baser side and its unthinking cruelty.

From the way Inuyasha blinked, Sesshomaru knew the hanyou saw. And knew the cost. Inuyasha sighed deep and long, then averted his eyes.

"There was a time when this Sesshomaru believed you'd stolen something from him. A deep desire, a challenge to end all challenges. If our father, the Inu No Taisho hadn't taken a ningen concubine to bed and whelped a half-breed brat on her, maybe I would have had the chance to best him in single combat and prove my worth to him. Taken all that was his for myself. But then he died saving you and your mother from other ningen. The fool rushed in wounded after his battle with Ryukotsusei and was defeated by weak humans. How could I help but feel robbed?" Sesshomaru stroked his son's head as he spoke of hurts long buried. "How could this Sesshomaru help but feel put aside for something that should not even exist. Hanyou, wretched things that belong to neither world and cause chaos in both. They disrupt the natural order of the world. A worthy son defeats his father, proving the strength of his blood, and the right to his existence. The youkai have always done it this way.

"And therein lies a fatal flaw. In youkai law, there is only desire, might and retribution. What you desire, you take. What you take, you fight to keep. And if something is taken from you, you pay it back sevenfold. We fight and we hardly know why we fight. We slaughter each other by the thousands over nothing but the pleasure in doing so. It is an empty existence. And I believe it will cost us everything."

His ominous words rang through the silent hut though he didn't speak much louder than a whisper.

Inuyasha pierced him with a steady gaze, and asked, showing a larger awareness and intelligence than Sesshomaru ever suspected, "What exactly are your intentions, Sesshomaru?"

Sesshomaru let a fearsome smile curl his lips, the edge of a sharp tooth just visible. He loomed over his son and pressed a kiss to his soft forehead. Channeling his power to that point, Sesshomaru felt with growing satisfaction his work take hold. When he pulled away, the demon lord looked there and saw the crescent moon of his house adorn that pale skin between the brows. A skittering of fierce joy washed through him, as well as a terrible need to see what this half-breed pup of his would make of the future.

To those that watched with awe, he said, "He is my acknowledged heir."

He tickled the pup's cheek to hear him giggle and growl, then turned to his brother, for he could no longer deny their kinship with half-measures. All or nothing. He'd never settle for something in between. "Would you like to hold him?"

Wordless, Inuyasha reached out to receive him. His round features relaxed as he looked down at the babe in his arms. "What's his name?"


"'Modest truth', I like it." Inuyasha tossed the boy into the air and caught him easily. The hanyou laughed to hear Kenshin cry out in a happy gurgle. "Cute little bastard."

Oh, yes, they will get on swimmingly, thought the demon lord as he watched them play.

As he left later, flying away on his youki cloud, he ignored a pang in his heart. He looked to the moon, full and splendid and said, "And in this, too, father, I have bested you."

I have done what you could not. He might or might not have laughed then.

End of Part One
Her Eyes
SessXKagome fic. Part One of Five. AU/AR. Some time after Kagome is ripped out of the past after the final battle with Naraku, a mysterious package arrives on Sesshomaru's doorstep. What will investigating this new arrival lead to? Bit of angst, some touching moments. Something about this idea tickled me, so here it is
1. You must post these rules.
2. Each person has to share 10 things about them.
3. Answer the 10 questions asked to you, and invent 10 new questions the people you tag will have to answer.
4. You have to choose 10 people, and put their icons on your journal.
5. Go to their pages and inform them they are tagged.
6. Not something like "You are tagged if you read this".
7. You have to tag 10 people.

Things About Me:

1: I spend far too much time and money escaping reality. I find this strange cuz reality's not so bad when you really look at it.

2: I think doubt is important.

3: I live in a state where the people attach an almost supernatural significance to its size and breadth.

4: I own a business.

5: The people around me and my clients are the only reason I come to work at all.  The money's nice, but it's not important. It's only there to support what I tend to look at as a really cool hang out spot.

6: I hurt people daily. That used to bother me, but then I think, 'hey, it's their money.' Or maybe I've just grown callous.

7: I liek dinosaurs. 

8: I believe there's really only about 100 unique people in the world and they repeat. Everything else is just subtle nuances. This is the only explanation I have for meeting the same people everywhere I go.  And every group has a Vegeta.

9: I'm half Korean. My mum is a tiny angry asian woman.

10: Hmmm, the last thing?  I'm half-assed writing a novel, but it's not going anywhere yet. The world-building is difficult cuz I'm trying not to use your standard fantasy backdrop.

:iconraven-jadewolfe: questions:

1-What inspires you to keep writing/reading a story? Well, for me a story is a series of bright nodes. Sometimes it's a scene, or a single line of dialogue that makes up these nodes. So, when I write, it's a long struggle to these points of interest. Once written down, I get the most exhilarating rush. The idea has shape now. It's there. I can see it.  Reading others' work, these gems when unearthed fill me with wonder. 

2-It's the end of the world. You come across one other person after months of being alone. Who would it be? Can be fictional.  That's a toughie. Two people can't repopulate the earth, so I guess I would go with someone who seems fun to hang out with until the final hour. Ummm, Christopher Walken, cuz he seems like he'd have some badass stories.

3-What would you rather the earth be invaded by, aliens or mythical monsters (werewolves, vampires, etc)? DINOSAURS. Aw, they don't count as mythical monsters, do they? poot. Aliens, I guess.

4-When your time is up, what will your eulogy be summarized as?  Would it be the Oh Shit there he/she was this one time type or something else?  I dunno. I'd rather skip through that bit and go right on with the week long wake.

5- Kodiak, Hammerhead, or Mako? pfft mako, of course.

6- Do you play ME 3 multiplayer? If so, what is your favorite class(es) to play? I'm bad at everything but adepts.

7- This is a multi-fandom question. If you could romance/marry any character (even unromancables) from s game/tv/movie/etc, who would it be and why? i'm gonna go with Garrus Vakarian. It's all about the bad boy thing wiv all the awkward innuendo.

8- Dream house? Cabin in the woods? Spacious flat on the Citadel? What? beach house/hovel/shack

9- You are given the opportunity of a lifetime. Free internet (but no skype or other phone related thing), free cellphone use (but no data plan type stuff), or free satellite tv (every channel world wide) for the rest of your life, but you can only have ONE. Which would it be? internetssssss

10- If you could have one talent (ESP, biotics, cooking, violin, opera singing,  looking like a supermodel after working and/or chasing over-sugared children all day), what would it be and why? flying. i would fly the fuck everywhere. EVERYWHERE.

Now, for my questions of DOOOOOOM!

1: Got a villain you love to hate? Why?

2: Elvis or the Beatles?

3: Tell me your best crazy relative story. C'mon, everyone has one.

4: Truthfully, if you had super powers, would you use them for good?  Or for awesome?

5: What makes you feel the most nostalgic?

6: Have you ever been so moved that nothing ever seemed the same after?

7: If you had a choice to visit any realm of imagination, which would it be? No holds barred here, if you wanna fight orcs in LoTR or live in Neverland, it's whatever.

8: If you knew that you were going to die tomorrow, what would you spend the remainder of your time doing?

9: Is there some widely loved thing (a book or movie or tv show, etc.) that you just don't like? If so, why?

10: Do you work better under pressure or unfettered by time or deadlines?

My Victims:
:iconbarbexy: :iconlady-krios: :iconsharrukin-of-akkad: :Spyke1985: :iconrodwad: :iconOrifiel-M: :icongrievousgirl: :iconmosva: :iconPereprin: :iconmiri1987:


Artist | Professional | Varied
United States
Well, I went to the Art Insitute of Phoenix, where I got an Associates' in 3d animation, but found that it didn't suit me to sit in an office staring at a computer screen, moving vertices around so I decided to find something else. Art as a career came later, after a brief stint in the world of retail, which I was appallingly good at and which I indeed hated. Eventually, a friend of mine, who was a tattoo artist said to me, "Why don't you try tattooing?" I think he was just tired of me bitching about 'entitled' people who think I can just conjure last year's discontinued duvet cover with the tacky animal print all over it they need so very desperately to match their equally tacky drapes. Anyway, I digress. I'd never really thought about tattooing as a job before, but he was opening a shop in a town near to where I lived and I apprenticed there, paid my dues and voila! I found that I love it, the people, the stories, (did I mention I love a good story?), the art of it. The industry has come a long way since the time of bikers and sailors, the skin has become just another canvas and there are exciting and wonderful things happening out there in the world of tattooing and I am humbly grateful to have been a part of it for close to eight years now.

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ShadowPhoenixRisen Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the fave :)
Attn2DTale Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2014
Thanks for the "Ozymandias" :+fav:!
bluekrishna Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2014  Professional General Artist
you're welcome!
barbexy Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Happy Birthday!!! Party PARTY HARD Happy DeviantART Birthday 
bluekrishna Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2013  Professional General Artist
aw, thank you!
PatrickALyon Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2013   Traditional Artist
Thanks for the fave Mia :) (Smile)
bluekrishna Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2013  Professional General Artist
you are very welcome!
DragonoftheDark Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
Thank you so much for the fave! :love:
Sharrukin-of-Akkad Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Aha - found you. :) (Smile) 
bluekrishna Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2013  Professional General Artist
yup! you found me. lol.
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