Miracles of Fate
The rising sun silently crept through the silken window coverings, its warmth slowly sinking into the three who lay upon the bed. Night had changed their positions little, Shikyomi waking to the warmth of her closest friends around her. Miroku’s arm had become a pillow for her head, the other stretched across her until his hand rested in the curve of Kei’s side, effectively holding them both. The little fox was still close to her, both arms around her waist, her head tucked under Shi’s chin. She smiled softly. Good friends were a fine comfort for an aching heart.
“He is quite the warm one, is he not?” Kei commented, moving so that her hands were no longer buried in his muscular stomach. She had been grateful for the warmth he had shared with them last night. Leaning back slightly, she looked into amber eyes, glad to see that they were clear with only a small lingering sorrow. This was nowhere near the first time they had slept together for comfort, the worse being the night that Touga had passed. This was more bittersweet than the raging grief that had spanned that night and several others.
“hmm” Shikyomi agreed, pressing her back into his chest slightly. He was in fact very cozy. “A perfect cuddle mate for certain. The woman in his heart will be blessed should she get around to taking him.”
Kei glanced up mischievously, “are we deciding to meddle there?”
“Not at this time. This one prefers another to come to their rescue.” Shi said, happily. However, should things go as she planned for them, she seriously doubted the two would loan him out for cuddling which was a clearly sacrifice on her part.
“Just as well.” Kei said stretching, “I have my own game to plan with a certain copper headed, grumpy inu.” She nearly giggled at Shi’s expression.
“When did this happen?” She asked. Kei had long picked on Hokoru, but it was almost hard not to. Shi would have to pay better attention to the things going on around her in the future, else she might lose her touch for manipulating things to her liking.
“Well, you have been distracted.” Kogirei petted her head in mock comfort.
A masculine chuckle alerted them to the man in the bed waking. The monks purple eyes sparkled merrily as he met theirs. “A wonderful morning to wake with two such beautiful and charming ladies.” His smile was teasing, knowing the tone of their conversation. Shi laughed while Kei flung a pillow at his head.
They prepared to leave, the three meeting at the door after taking their turns in Shi’s private bathing chambers. Miroku bowed to them, biding them a good day, a nervous feeling somehow creeping into him for some unknown reason. The two women smiled and answered cheerfully, fully aware of the burning stares focused on his back from the shadows. After all, a little trouble could be a most amusing distraction.
Sesshomaru had decided to keep his self-made promise and gathered his mates and children up to spend time in his private gardens. He wanted to have just a little peace before plunging forward into the coming battle that lay ahead of them.
He had spent his night between his lovers, both giving him solace, though he was not as bereaved as he supposed that he would be. The last moments that he had spent with Katsumi made it clear to him that she was content with her own passing and did not wish for their sorrow over the matter. Rather than grieving for her death, he felt wrath towards the one responsible.
Due to the nature of the beast, so to speak, the inuyokai grew quickly as children, much like the rapid pregnancy of the mothers. This was probably genetics way of surviving in a world where living was a hard thing to do. They would continue to grow quickly until they were passed the toddling stage and able to run and eat on their own. Then time would begin to gradually slow for them until it appeared to stop all together. Which is why none but Kagome expressed surprise when her day old babies suddenly rolled to their bellies, heads lifted as they examined the world around them almost as soon as they were laid on the brown fur that covered the grass of the garden. Only Toshihiro remained on his back, his wide eyes taking in the sky above him in apparent awe and wonder.
“are you sure they should be doing that yet?” she asked, eyeing them worriedly as Tetsumi managed to snag one of Takshi’s ears with her fingertips, much to the pup’s annoyance. They just seemed so tiny, smaller than any of the babies she had held before.
“They are as they should be.” Sesshomaru said, pulling her down on his lap as he rested against his favorite tree. She eyed him questioningly, but made no protest, settling herself against him. Inuyasha sat down beside them, his back propped against Sesshomaru’s side as he watched the pups with joy and pride.
“This is so,” Shi agreed as she joined them, laying on her stomach, her forehead touching Tekeshi’s, making the baby smile. “Their father was also in a hurry to leave infancy behind him.” Rin, Shippo, and the quieter Ayameko could be heard running in the background. Their laughter seemed to emphasize the brightness of the day, the gentle breeze from their scampering feet adding the earthy scents of grass and soil to the sun warmed air.
“So their development is normal for pups?” Kagome asked, wanting to be certain, a new mother’s anxiety holding her firmly in its grasp. It was like she was in school again, forced to take another test she had not had time to study for. Only this time, there were four precious little beings whose futures were on the line instead of her own.
“Of course not,” Shikyomi said as she raised the tiny girl pup into her arms, “they carry this one’s blood. It is only natural for them to be especially brilliant and never such a dull thing as normal.” She smirked at them.
Sesshomaru caught the barest glimpse of something in her tone and a suspicious light in her eyes. “Okaasan?”
“What are you hiding, lady?” Inuyasha asked outright, Sesshomaru’s thoughts confirming what he was reading from her. She was almost gleeful.
“The day of their birth, Katsumi shared something with me, though this one is still unable to detect it myself.” She snuggled the baby before turning her so that she sat on her crossed legs, facing her parents as she leaned back against her grandmother’s stomach. “It would seem that our darling princess carries the scent of a bride.” Her grinned widened in absolute enjoyment at the looks on their faces. Inuyasha’s scowl, Kagome’s near shock, and Sesshomaru’s barely clenched jaw she had all well predicted.
“But she is inuyokai,” Kagome wondered out loud, the effects of it not quite hitting her as it had the men.
“Never the less, she will have your powers and probably with greater strength, priestess.” Shikyomi practically gleamed with pride, “She is truly the first of her kind.”
“Wait,” Inuyasha said, his irritation and near panic clear in his voice, “Does that mean that men are going to chase after her like they have Kagome?”
“What men?” Kagome asked as Sesshomaru looked in his direction.
“Huh,” he huffed, not really surprised at her confused look. She could be blind about some things. “You want the list? Hojo, past and future, the thunder brothers, Miroku, Jinenji, Koga, Naraku, Muso, Hisuhebi, Kidotta, several random villagers we passed along the way…”
“B…but half those people were trying to kill me!” Kagome exclaimed. She felt Sesshomaru’s arms tighten around her slightly.
“Yeah, but they smelled of lust every time they would look at you.” He still felt anger, even though most of them had died, would die by his hand, or given up any hope of having her for themselves.
“Not to mention Inuyasha and Sesshomaru.” Shi added helpfully, “From what is told, they both tried to lustfully kill her as well.” She received a cutting look from her sons that made her laugh outright, disturbing the pup who had nestled down in her lap.
Miroku walked the winding halls of the western castle, the tension he had felt early that morning slowly increasing until it buzzed across his skin like an electric current. He had bumped into lord Hokoru earlier and he swore red fire was leaking from the man’s eyes, making the lighter shade of purple seem darker than Miroku’s own eye color.
Correctly guessing that the inu was Kei’s target, he decided it would be best to avoid him until she pinned him down. Jealousy, it seemed, would follow him all the days of his life. Being a naturally charming and friendly sort, it was a just a burden that he bore, he thought with a small grin.
He had not seen Sango yet. Normally, the monk would at least check on her every day, but it seemed she was avoiding him. Just for the day, he would allow her to. When he went to Shi last night, Miroku had been fully aware that she would hear of it and that she would most likely misconstrue things. Feeling a little heart sore himself, he felt it was best for them to spend some time apart. He was not giving up on her yet, but also was in no mood to sooth her unfounded anger either. Love was a painful thing and sometimes he needed a break from that constant sentimental longing for someone who might never become his.
For now, Miroku headed for a quiet place he had found not long before the attack on the western castle. It was a small pool of shallow water fed by two miniscule waterfalls in a tucked away corner of the forest not too far from where they had fought Hisuhebi’s men.
Striping away his top robe, he sat cross legged on a flat, sunken boulder and took in a deep breath. Slowly letting it out, he let the sound of the water as it steadily carved deep paths into the unforgiving stone take him away from his earthly struggles; each drop finding its way down, never ceasing until it reached the pool below, rippling as it became one with nature’s harmony.
Across the compound, two strong women clashed together, the sound of their swords ringing out on the sparring field. Sweat clung to them as Sango attacked forcefully, only to be blocked and thrust away from her opponent. Breathing harshly, she looked up at the calm expression of the white eyed inu and allowed her sword to fall to the side. She just was not her best, her mind in turmoil over things she had no idea how to change.
Sheathing her blade, Tsuyoi sat beside her. “Your mind is unsteady, do you wish to speak of it?” Being someone’s confidant was new to her, but she did not like seeing her only close friend in such painful inner conflict.
“I doubt it would do me any good if I did,” she sighed, placing her hands upon her knees. “I was so certain that it was right when I made the decision to remain as his friend. It was right, but I cannot bear it when he turns to others.” Sango whispered, her dry eyes aching for tears that no longer came for her.
“You are wrong.” Tsuyoi stated simply. Ignoring the comical astonishment on the slayers face at her words, she continued, “you made a choice all on your own, not taking into account how cruel it was to him, how your family would feel at their beloved daughter casting her life away well before it was done, or how your heart constantly fights against the fear in your mind. This causes you a needless pain that none wish for you.”
Anger sparked as the words slammed into her like blows. “It was my choice to make,” she insisted, before they really sank in. Tsuyoi just stared at her steadily, letting her mind churn over the things that she had said. “How am I cruel to him?” Sango asked finally, that being one of the major accusations, besides basically being called a coward. She trusted the inu and part of her knew that she was not intending to put her down, but it still hurt.
“Do you not find it so?” Tsuyoi asked her instead. “You refuse to be with him, but also refuse to let him go. The monk is quite steady. He flirts a lot, but I think it is done without thought. Like a child taught a greeting, he charms effortlessly, but it’s you he shows true caring for. He makes sure that you have all that you need, even distance when you ask it of him, but you do not give him the same comfort. Your fear of loss is foremost in your mind and you allow it to remain there. You give him no peace, Sango.”
“You do not understand…” She tried to argue, but Sango knew that she was right.
“I do understand. I too have lost family.” Tsuyoi gazed off into the distance, seeing not the peaceful surroundings but a burning battlefield filled with smoke, the fire not even slowing as a torrent of rain and lightning fell to the ground. She had fallen, a wound across her back. Holding onto her sister, her twin, as the last of life drained from her, she had awaited her own death blow. The large dragon in human form had laughed as he raised his sword, only to have his head torn away by the poisonous claws of Shikyomi. Tsuyoi had lost all that day, her parents along with two litter mates. She knew all too well the agony Sango suffered from. She still carried scars, the one on her back and the one in her heart, but they no longer pained her. Perhaps this is why she was so drawn to the human couple, her instinct urging her to see to their care.
“H…” Sango spoke, drawing her attention away from the past, “how did you accept it?”
Tsuyoi smiled softly. “I did not at first. I headed out into every battle I could find. Shikyomi saved me several times, then gave me purpose. She told me that I had done all that I could to save them and if I were going to so foolishly throw away the life that they had cherished and fought to save, it might as well go in the saving of others who hopefully would not be so idiotic.” She could not help a small laugh at the memory, “it was what I needed to hear.” Tsuyoi placed a comforting hand on her companion’s shoulder, “for both of you, think it over once again before the chance is lost.”
Sango nodded. Perhaps she was right, maybe she had let fear gain to strong a foot hold within her. It was never her desire to cause him pain, but to keep herself and others from it. If they were suffering anyway, it was a hollow and useless sacrifice.
“I can ease your worry a little.” Tsuyoi stood, offering her a hand up.
“How is that?” she asked.
“Miroku and lady Shi were not intimate last night. It is a common thing among the inu for pack mates and friends to sleep together for comfort. They will in times of grief especially, but even a cold winter’s night is enough of an excuse. We are strange to humans, I guess, with our need to come together thusly.”
“I do not think that it is strange, just something I am unused to,” Sango said, taking her hand and pulling herself to her feet. “Even though I have given up the right to, I still worry about him. I even suffered jealousy when he began to watch you as well.” She admitted sheepishly.
“The monk has an eye for beautiful things, I would not think too much of it.” They began to walk toward the palace, falling in step with each other.
Sango grinned, “Is it not vain of you to say so when we were just speaking of him following you?” She wondered to herself if all of the inuyokai were so certain of their superiority.
“It is not vanity to speak the truth, only when it is all you can speak of does it become so.” Tsuyoi replied. “You are also quite beautiful,” she continued, not unaware of the red creeping into her friends cheeks, “I am sure he finds you the most stunning of all.”
“What makes you think that?” she stammered slightly.
Tsuyoi looked down at her, a new playfulness in her gaze. “Why have eyes, Sango, but for to see with.” A passing guard called out to her with a message. Bidding the stunned slayer farewell, she went about her duties, amusement she did not often feel warming her chest.
Sango stood still, watching her leave, unsure if she had been serious or teasing with her comment. Shaking her head, she returned to her room, determined to go over the inu’s words and her own choices. Deep inside, she wondered, or perhaps hoped that she would have the strength to change her mind. Sometimes the biggest terror was not the creature you faced in battle, but the one within.
Kagome walked around Sesshomaru’s private garden. The beautiful landscape was peaceful and serene, though quiet after her mates and children had left. It still prayed on her mind how Katsumi had not let her even try to help, even though Sesshomaru’s words had eased her somewhat. Perhaps it was not Katsumi that she continued to feel bad for, but Shikyomi. Katsumi’s soul was probably quite contented in the heavens, but her daughter, though hiding it well, still held an aura of sorrow and loneliness.
As the thoughts kept swirling through her mind, unconsciously she rolled the Shikon no Toma between her fingers like a worry stone. There had to be something she could do to make this more bearable for her family that had become so dear to her. The tale of the inuyokai’s battle with Hisuhebi and the events that had led Shi to live with several lifetimes of lonely rage and war played through her mind like a slide show. She had had to bear more than enough of her fair share of tragedy and Kagome’s soft heart cried out for want of healing for her in any small measure.
Lost in her own thoughts, Kagome nearly drooped the jewel in shock as it throbbed in her hands. Another soul cried out as well. Giving no thought to what she was doing, or any danger that it may have possessed, she opened herself and her power to that voice, reaching out her hands in the thick darkness. It was nearly like digging through cool tar, the resistant and clinging mass trying to pull her in even as she latched on to that one pure soul.
With surprising ease, Kagome drew back, coming to herself with dizzying speed. Before her was a beautiful warrior, her ancient armor rustling as her sword dropped from her hands, the woman falling to her knees. “Please, my lady,” she whispered harshly, “I cannot hold them there very much longer.” Looking in her hand, the Shikon was now a swirling mosaic of dark colors, individual lights flashing as the things inside hit against the weakening prison.
“I understand.” Kagome told her as she knelt by her side, somehow feeling perfectly calm. Whether it was her own design or another part of her fated destiny, she could not say, but she was instantly aware of what she must do. Concentrating once more, she drew upon the amazing reservoir of power deep within her. A burning, purifying light struck the jewel until it glowed with white intensity. So focused was she that she did not feel her mates rush into the garden, nor see the shocked expression of the one who followed behind them, a name slipping from her lips in wonder. All she could see was that blinding white as she willed the once fearsome entities into nothingness. When it was done, the simple glass remnants shattered in her hands before dissolving away. The Shikon no Toma was no more.
“Thank you” the woman’s honey colored eyes slid closed as she fell back, exhausted from centuries of fighting a never ending struggle.
“You are welcome.” Kagome whispered before falling herself, slightly light headed. Shadows covered her, making her glance up, her head tipping back. “Uh oh,” she said, looking at two red eyed gazes before she was swept up. Glancing back over Inuyasha’s shoulder, she could not help but be pleased at the sight of Shi touching the woman’s face, her trembling fingers giving her away. It was very worth whatever lecture and punishment her mates would likely give her for the joy in Shikyomi’s small smile as she looked on one who had been lost to her.