The Toll Taken By Love
The night came, a hellish, tortuous night. She had never before been so irritated and turned on at the same time. From the moment they had entered the bedroom late that night, they had teased and tormented each other. Kagome had pit herself against Sesshomaru’s iron will, and although she had lost the battle, she could feel him burning with the same agony before her bond closed off again in the early morning hours.
She found herself annoyed, unable to hold the bond open even though she tried. The very worst thing was that her punishment lasted until night fall. By that time, they would be journeying to the western palace, Shikyomi and Katsumi, along with Sango and Miroku, traveling with them. Kagome groaned just thinking of it, pulling one plush pillow over her head. She had never thought in her wildest, teenaged fantasy that her blood could hum and burn with such intensity for so long a time.
“Issues, Kagome?” Inuyasha asked, amused as he sat up in their bed. Sesshomaru was already up, smirking from across the room as he dressed.
Frustrated, she rolled on top of him, repeatedly beating him with the pillow. “Ass.” She commented through her teeth.
Laughing out right, he pulled the weapon away from her and brought her down to his chest. He gently rubbed her back, enjoying her weight on top of him as she snuggled down. Despite the heat left over from the night, she found herself nearly drifting off to sleep again.
Suddenly, she was tugged back and away from Inuyasha’s warmth. “No more laziness today, little koi. We leave within the hour.” She groaned again as he set her on her feet, resting her head against him. “Unless you really want to be back in that bed, still hours away from night fall,” he whispered huskily, nipping at his mating mark on her neck. He smiled slightly when she glared up at him.
“You are cruel.” She grumbled as she pulled away from him, “just plain mean.” Kagome gathered her clothing together and headed for their bathing chamber. “Damn, fucking inuyokai.” They heard muttered before the door closed behind her.
“She is picking up your bad habits.” Sesshomaru said to Inuyasha, who was still propped up in the bed.
“Yeah.” He rested, his hands behind his head. “It’s taken many years, I’m so proud.” He grinned at his brother’s glare. There was an advantage to an always open bond, he could read his mates’ better than they could each other. He knew that Sesshomaru was far more frustrated than he had shown to Kagome. Not that Inuyasha was not also, but he found humor along with the irritation.
Eyes narrowed dangerously, Sesshomaru leaned down, his hands to Inuyasha’s sides, loosely trapping him. “You seem to be enjoying this a little much, Otouto. Why?”
He looked up at him, smile still in place. “Did you notice Kagome, who, by the way, is ready to start launching stuff at your head? Standing up to you, playing around with us, that is the Kagome I know. For whatever reason, she has come back to herself. Even this damn aggravating punishment of yours can’t make me any less happy about it.”
“Hn.” Sesshomaru agreed with him, before leaning closer. “This punishment was not meant to be yours, Otouto.” He felt the muscles in Inuyasha’s stomach tighten as he slowly drew his hand down it.
The younger inu’s breath caught before he deftly rolled away. “Not happing. You two are not painting a target on my back, Ani, or anything else. We can all wait for night fall.” He too grabbed his cloths and headed for the door. If he served as a distraction for the two of them, he would be well worn out before the morning hours were through, much less trying to get through the whole day.
Sesshomaru waited until he the door closed before he laughed softly. His brother was becoming wise. Stifling a sigh at the present state of events, he began preparing for their journey. It was going to be a long, long day.
The group left the sky palace with little fanfare, only Aoi seeing them off. They would have nearly a week of travel, not intending on using the inu’s speed unless absolutely necessary. Katsumi thought that it would be a good idea to give Inuyasha and her some time to work on the problem with her bonds. Kagome wondered if the passing of time was the only thing that could solve it, time that they really didn’t have. All were aware that her giving birth would be the most vulnerable time for a strike against them, another reason they were headed toward the more guarded western palace. Precautions had to be set in place within two very short months.
They started out simply, their pace easy, but not slow. The first day was passing fairly quickly and quietly, the warm sunshine adding a summer feel as it filtered down through the tree tops onto the path below. Kagome smiled as she closed her eyes, lifting her face into the warm light. She paused, her hands resting on the beings dancing beneath her skin. They were becoming livelier, more real, as each day passed. “Are you ok, Kagome?” Inuyasha asked, concern lacing his voice.
Tilting her head, she looked up at him, not realizing that he had come so close and that they all halted a few steps beyond where she had stopped. “I’m fine.” She assured them. Sesshomaru scrutinized her, seeming satisfied, he nodded.
“Perhaps this would be a good place to rest for a moment.” Shikyomi said, her eyes scanning the trees canopy. There was not anything specific and she was not truly worried, but something seemed off. Her instinct had been stirring for the last hour, an uneasy feeling of being watched. The jewel at her throat gave no warning and she could not scent any danger, but something had her on edge. A glance at Katsumi told her that she shared her unrest.
“It would be a good time for you two to go.” Katsumi said to Inuyasha and Kagome. She did not like that even she could not pick up on what was making them uneasy. There should be nothing that she could not scent, but all she could catch was a slight disturbance, like a sudden small down draft of air for no apparent reason. “It would also be a good time for the alpha to hunt for his pack.” She said, staring pointedly at Sesshomaru.
“We can set up camp,” Sango offered, “It is not that far from nightfall.” It seemed just like it used to when they would travel together, minus the strain of Kikyo on them. Miroku smiled her way, nodding his agreement.
“Let’s go, Kagome.” Inuyasha held his hand out to her, new maturity shinning in his eyes that she was not accustomed to.
She was surprised to find her hand shaking slightly as she lifted it toward him. Kagome had the feeling that they would breach things she had hoped never to have to deal with again, but the past still haunted her heart, even if she was not aware of it in her day to day life. The warmth of his hand covered hers, chasing away the chill that had set into it. he threaded his fingers through hers and gently led her away from the rest of the group.
“What is it?” Sesshomaru questioned Katsumi as Shikyomi changed into her smaller form and headed into the woods, opposite of where Inuyasha had chosen.
“Nothing, most likely. These are unsettling times, koinu.” Sharp, white teeth flashed as he glared at her. “This one will hunt for food, you will want to find a comfortable den for your mates, yes?” Katsumi laughed out right at his annoyance before he walked away, disappearing into the shadows of the forest.
Inuyasha led her to a small clearing, hidden from the world by the dense vegetation around it. It was beautiful with green, gold, and red in the trees and the odd, brave flower that peaked through occasionally. There was even a small spring, the soothing sound of the water flowing giving an air of comfort and tranquility. Kagome sat by the bank of it and waited, unsure how they should begin. She had certainly thought that she had gotten beyond these awkward moments with this man, her lover, closest friend and mate, but life liked to prove her wrong on many levels it seemed.
“Kagome?” Inuyasha sat beside her, admiring the picture she made, her legs folded beneath her as she ran her fingers through the leisurely flowing water. Sighing he stated quietly, “I think the main problem you have opening your bond is that you have yet to forgive me, to trust me.”
She stiffened briefly before her forcing her body to relax. This was something that had to be done and could not be willed away. “Maybe.” She agreed softly, “But why would that affect my bond with Sesshomaru too?”
“Trust. You do not yet trust either of us enough to give your heart wholly.” He tossed a rock into the water, absently watching the way it distorted it before clearing once more.
“Sesshomaru has no trouble and I doubt that he trusts us completely.” She wondered out loud.
“He is not motivated by emotions like you and he trusts us more than you may believe.” He shook his head, ruefully. “I was a fool, I think. I jumped at the chance to be your mate, thinking that if you would just be close to me again, then everything would fall back into place and you would love me the way that you did.” He looked away from her. “It took me a long time to understand that there is a toll taken for love and that it is pain. the agony of being near that person and not being able to be with them, to have to watch them, their sadness, their suffering, and their joy, knowing that you are not a part of it until that person's heart opens to you. That is the price I made you pay for years without fully realizing it, the cost that I never fully understood until you cut me out of your heart.”
“I did not cut you out of it, Inuyasha.” Just his words brought the memories flying back to her. Their moments of happiness and the feeling of it crashing every time he would turn away from her. It was far easier to accept the greater pain of not having him for a shorter time, than the never ending agony of waiting for him to come to her, leaving his past love behind. “I pulled away from you and accepted that you would not be mine, I was moving on, but you could never fully leave my heart.”
“I am unworthy of it,” he said, a fierce light nearly glowing in his golden eyes, “but I want to be. I want to be worth the pain that you went through and the joy that we could know in this new life we have been given. I will not let you hurt again, Kagome. If the shell of Kikyo showed up here this very moment and begged me for just one word of comfort, I would not give it. The person that I knew and loved is far gone from this world, the person that I love is you. I will prove that to you.”
Kagome was speechless. He had never been so serious, his stare so pricing. He meant it and she believed in him, his words echoing through her, but still, the link between them remained closed. After a moment, she turned away, a tear making a slow trail down her cheek, even though she smiled softly. “Things are never as simple as we want them to be, are they? I needed to hear this from you, but I still don’t feel as if I could open the path between us purposefully.”
He smiled, drawing her into his lap as he brushed the tear away with his thumb. “If it were too easy, it would not be you. You never have taken the effortless path, Kagome, and things always turn out better for it.”
“When did you become so mature? Normally, you just tell me to get over it already.” She relaxed her head on his chest, while he rested his chin on top of the softness of her hair.
“It was about seven months ago when the person who meant the most to me sat on a stump and said, let’s not do this anymore.” He held her tightly to him.
They stayed that way for a little while before she stirred again. “How do you manage to leave your bonds open?”
“I guess I just got nothin to hide.” An idea came to him. He pushed her back onto the grass, covering her body with his own. She met his eyes, the deep blue drawing him in. “Maybe we should try keeping your bond open first.”
“More torcher? She asked, her gaze turning into a heated glare. “Aren’t you missing your partner in crime?” her words were grumpy, but he noticed her glance hopefully at the sky.
Grinning, he bent down and captured her mouth, her hands following the muscles of his back as she accepted his tongues gentle assault. Her hands tangled in his hair, her spine bowing as she tried to urge him closer. The path between them opened slowly. He pulled back and looked into her eyes, his hand gently tracing her face as he sent thoughts and images through the link. His words of love, emotions, and sensual pictures overwhelmed her mind. She responded in kind as he rested his forehead against hers, trying to consciously stay connected to him.
“It would seem that you only have no problem when we are physically touching you.” His low voice came just to the left of them. Sesshomaru had been watching them for a few moments. He was certain that Inuyasha had noticed, but Kagome was too far into her head to sense him. That was also a danger they would have to work on.
“Not entirely.” She told him, slightly smug as she sent all that they had shared to him. This was the only time she could control her bonds somewhat, she now realized why. The only times she trusted them completely is when they were intimate or when they were protecting her life. Recognizing it was the first step in solving this problem. A slight smile graced her lips when she thought of that. Kagome doubted that they would throw her in life threating situations, well at least not while she carried their children, she rethought. Sesshomaru had once thrown a pack of yokai at her to improve her archery. Literally. Either way, she would have to continually practice opening and holding open her bonds. There was a wicked part of her that was amused and anticipating the training.
Inuyasha rose up, helping her to her feet. The pathways were already trying to close off, but she relaxed, willing herself to be open to them. “I thought you were hunting.” Inuyasha said to him.
Sesshomaru smirked and looked toward the sky, their eyes rose as well. Bright pinks and golds adorned the heavens as darker shadows of purples and deep blues seemed to chase after the sun as it retired. The moon had begun to rise, its crescent shape still indistinct in the brilliant firmament, seeming to smile down upon them secretively. Night had come at last. The molten heat from the night before returned with ferocity as they slid their hands into his. Gathering them close, the three disappeared in a flash of vivid light.
The clearing returned to its peaceful setting, the colors dimming in the sky reflecting off the clear water. With only the closing flowers to notice, a silent, obscure shape rose from the tree line, its sharp eyes not missing a thing. It drifted through the air currents, returning to the one who waited.