A few days passed, everything within the castle seeming to have stopped at Nikki’s suicide attempt. No one was surprised at her reaction to Mai’s testimony, nor was anyone surprised when she had found a way to hear it. Nikki remained locked away in her room for a few days, Sesshomaru, Higashi, Izayoi, and Jiro were the only ones allowed in for a bit. Everyone seemed to breathe a sigh of relief once they had been able to convince her out of the room and away from harming herself.
“Nikki, would you like to join Sango and me for a bath?” Kagome asked her softly at dinner as Nikki looked at them curiously. Apparently, in her time within the castle, the female taiji-ya had made almost immediate friends with Kagome and would like to with Nikki as well. Sango was highly interested in the one deemed the warrior princess.
“Yes, thank you,” Nikki answered as the two smiled and nodded in agreement as Higashi watched her. Izayoi smiled as she held Eri close and Sesshomaru looked prepared to protest.
“Shut it, pup,” Nishi ordered him as Sesshomaru shot his father a look while the older inu just shook his head. “While the girls are enjoying their peace from us meddlesome males, you can come talk with me.” Sesshomaru rolled his eyes as Inuyasha smirked at his older brother.
“Are you excited to return home?” Nikki asked the girls as they each slid into a tub of hot water and relaxed. Sango had winced looking at her back, but Kagome quickly motioned to stay quiet and shook her head at the subject.
“Yes, but more because I know Izayoi and Nishi are worried about the kingdom,” Kagome answered as Sango listened in curiously. “They left a vassal in charge, but he’s been known to get a little power crazy.” Sango chuckled as she nodded, that’s a reason. “He’s not a terrible little imp, can’t stand Izayoi, Inuyasha, or me but worships the ground Sesshomaru and Nishi walks on.”
“I can’t imagine being on a first name basis with a lord or lady,” Sango said shaking her head as Kagome chuckled and nodded.
“It took them forever to break me of the proper way of saying things,” Kagome chuckled as Sango laughed a little. “Nishi kept saying his old inu ears didn’t like it.” Nikki wore her smile as she listened though her attention was obviously far away.
“Nikki, have you considered coming with us to the Western Lands?” Kagome asked her to try and pull the neko hanyou into their conversation. Sango listened in as Nikki jumped a little as she was pulled out of her thoughts and then looked at her.
“I meant to discuss it with father,” she replied as Kagome nodded, a reasonable answer, “it’s just been so busy…I’ll let you know tomorrow at the latest.”
“I’m sure Sesshomaru would like it if you went home with him,” Sango said with a grin as Nikki smirked a little and nodded. “Has he properly proposed yet?”
“No,” Nikki answered as she shook her head and washed, “but we’re not ready yet either.” Sango nodded as she listened, kind of surprised that Sesshomaru hasn’t marked Nikki as his court.
The girls giggled and gossiped while they bathed, which took longer than it usually does for Nikki. They pulled the neko princess in their conversations but also allowed her to relax and muse on her own thoughts as well.
“So, how much does the boomerang weigh?” Kagome asked as they walked out of the bathrooms.
“Hiraikotsu? It’s heavy,” Sango answered as she thought about it, “but I’ve practiced with it for so long, it just an extension of me at this point.” Kagome nodded as she thought about it.
“Kouga doesn’t think you can actually throw it effectively,” Nikki mused as Sango looked at her surprised. “The prince to the Northern Tribes, the oldest son. He’s a bit arrogant when he wants to be, but he figures you’re a human female, it’s either really light or a shield.” Sango sighed as she shook her head in thought.
“And here I thought he was attractive looking,” she mused as Kagome giggle at the thought. “Maybe I’ll show him next time we’re all outside.” Nikki shrugged and nodded, she knew precisely what she had done there. “I hear Nikki is one of the best swordsmen in the castle.”
“The last time I saw her train, she was the best in my castle,” Kagome replied as Nikki shrugged.
“I haven’t trained in about a year,” Nikki told them with a shrug, “so I’m probably not as good anymore.”
“Maybe one day you’ll have to show us,” Sango suggested as Nikki shrugged. There was obviously once in time that Nikki would have jumped at the idea, but now she was responding with demure responses. It was obvious she was still quite upset and traumatized. As they approached her room they noticed a maid waiting for her with something.
“Princess,” she said smiling and bowed with the tray held appropriately, “the lord wished for me to bring you this beverage, he says it’ll help you rest tonight.”
“I don’t want it,” Nikki replied as she moved into her room. The maid sighed and nodded as she headed off to get rid of it while Kagome and Sango looked at each other worriedly. They knew it was alright to leave her to herself in her room, Sesshomaru would be right there anyway within a few minutes if he wasn’t already.
Later that night found Nikki relaxing in her garden, despite the bitter cold air surrounding her. The castle was quiet, the human occupants were in bed and resting, their youkai and hanyou counterparts close by in case they were needed. Sesshomaru was close by, Nikki knew he wouldn’t leave her truly alone, but was allowing her some of her own private time to think. She looked up as someone joined her, relaxing as his scent hit her before his shadow approached.
“You should be inside resting,” he grumbled as he sat down beside her. “It’s awfully cold out here.”
“I’m not a child,” she replied softly as he smirked and nodded. He sighed and scratched the back of his head as he thought.
“I know,” he grumbled as he thought about it, “I guess at times I forget that all of my kittens are grownups now…”
“Not too grown up,” she muttered as he chuckled and nodded. “You should be resting as well.” He shot her a look and shook his head.
“I’m your sire, girl, you think I rest much? I haven’t in almost two hundred and ten years,” he said as he mentioned her oldest brother’s age. “There’s just so much to think about.” He looked around as he sighed and fell into his own thoughts. “I know why you like it out here now, no matter the season, day or night, its paradise.” Nikki nodded in agreement as she pulled her knees up and wrapped her arms around them. “I heard Kagome has invited you to the Western Lands to help with her mating ceremony preparations.”
“Yes,” she answered absently as she stared ahead, “I haven’t decided if I’m going to go or not.” He nodded as he listened. “I’m sure it’s a good idea to get me out of here for a bit, and it adds in learning how to prepare for a mating ceremony for some day.” Higashi nodded in agreement as he thought about it.
“I don’t know if he’s spoken with you,” Higashi started hesitantly, “but I know Sesshomaru was thinking of asking you to be his mate.”
“He’s brought up the subject, we are not officially courts or anything,” she answered as her father looked at her curiously. “We’re not ready, even he’s agreed, and we’re not ready. I have all of this going on and he needs to figure out his quest for supreme power or whatever the hell it is.” Her father nodded impressed, they weren’t being unreasonable about it.
“How are you holding up, sweetheart?” he asked her as he looked at her after a bit of silence between the two.
“I haven’t fallen yet,” she answered with a sigh. “I’m sorry about the other day.” He looked at her curiously as she looked at the ground and clawed at it a little. “I guess it just…she’s so hateful and I don’t know why…I thought I was ready to face her then and you’re all right, I wasn’t anywhere near ready.” Higashi nodded as he listened.
“Sometimes we have to make mistakes to learn about ourselves,” he mused as she looked at him curiously. “I don’t know if I was fully ready to hear what she had to say, but I know I needed to. It wasn’t really hit in though, until I spoke to your brothers afterwards.” Nikki nodded as she looked down; she remembered her brothers’ faces after hearing what their mother had to say, she remembered the pain they all revealed in their own ways. Nikki sighed as she thought about this whole mess and shook her head.
“I just wish it had all been so different,” she said softly as her father nodded in agreement.
“I do too kitten, but it’s not over just yet,” he agreed as Nikki looked up at him, “tomorrow is the last day.” Nikki nodded in agreement as she listened. “Your mother’s mark will be removed tomorrow morning; Kagome is a miko and can do that, before she is executed.”
“Alright,” Nikki replied as he looked at her and thought.
“You don’t have to go, no one is expecting you to go,” her father informed her.
“I should,” she replied as he sighed and looked at her. “Mother has this idea that she won, I was beaten…I don’t want her to die thinking that way. I want her to be sorry for what she did, for the pain she caused. I want her to be remorseful.” Higashi nodded as he listened. “Plus, do you honestly think my shadow is going to leave me alone?” He smirked and nodded, he knew Sesshomaru was somewhere close by watching over her. Plus, for the next day she had him and her brothers for support, though they would need it as well.
“I worry, kitten,” he admitted as she nodded, “you’ve been so depressed and it’s not uncalled for. All I’ve ever wanted for you or your brothers is for you to be happy. I know before you were happy.” Nikki looked up at her father in the moonlight, he looked so much older than she ever realized. She understood his concerns; the other day diving off the tower probably didn’t help either.
“I think I’m going to go lay down,” she said softly as she got up. She kissed him on the cheek before heading inside. Higashi sighed as she vanished into the castle; he knew his family would survive this, if not a little more broken.