"Grandfather, do you know anything about Inuyoukai?" she asked into the receiver. Kagome examined the gold coin as she sat on the edge of her bathtub. The demon had gone to bed, but she suspected he would overhear if he could, and so she whispered with the water running to mask the sound of her voice.
" Inuyoukai, you say?" he asked loudly. Kagome turned the volume down on her phone and affirmed his question.
"Yes, grandpa. I have a man here, and he says he knows you, and I just want to make sure that he's telling me the truth," she said, sighing and setting her head back against the tile.
" there was a shrine that was going to be destroyed when I was a boy. I and the others in the neighborhood rallied together and kept it from being turned into a shopping market," he recalled. "Aside from that, there is no- oh wait." she listened very closely as he paused to gather his thoughts. " There was this one night that I swore I saw one. It must have been a dream, but I thought it was a spirit-"
" What happened? " she asked, and he began to sputter.
"Kagome, I am an old man, and that was so long ago I'm having trouble-." he faded. She sighed and thought about calling her mother next. "What did you say he wanted from you kagome?" he asked.
" he wants me to come home and help with a project at the university there," she said and heard his exclamation.
" that would be great. Your mother will be so happy when she hears this," he yelled for his daughter, and hearing her mother's questioning voice, he told her loudly that she was coming home early.
"What happened?" her mother was worried about her being so far away but knew how much it all had meant to her."
"I'm trying to figure that out," she said, and grandpa began to retell the tale of her call. Her mother listened, fascinated, and then asking the obvious, she spoke again. "Do you trust him? I don't know anything about Inu youkai or any demon from our past." she sighed, and the group stopped when they heard a knock at her bathroom door. Kagome shushed her family and went to the door, sure she had been quiet.
"Yes?" she asked and met the demons' eyes unflinchingly.
"May I speak to your mother," he said, and Kagome gasped.
"What?" she asked and then, after a moment and then handed him the phone. Her mother asked him what he was doing there in her apartment.
"I mean her no harm," he said and then hung up the phone crushing it in his grip.
"You jackass!" she scolded him, picking up the pieces of her latest smartphone.
"We are leaving in the morning," he said
"I was making arrangements. Where do you suppose that I will stay while in Tokyo? With you?" she laughed, and he looked her dead in the eye.
"You may find it preferable to the drive to and from the university," he said, and she laughed then.
" I take the train! She said, and he shook his head.
"Don't make this difficult." he sighed, and she backed further into the bathroom.
"Are you threatening me?" she asked, getting madder.
"If it suits me," he said, looking unflinchingly.
Kagome thought about fighting him, thought about the odds that someone in the apartment would see what happened. Still, as she ran through the scenarios playing in her mind, Kagome decided that she wouldn't fight this. She would wait until she found out what was going on and what his true intentions were.
"I am not your enemy, Kagome," he said, and she snorted again.
"We will see," she said, and he laughed. "What's so funny."
"Some things never change," he said and handed her a parcel from the pocket of his hakama. Taking it with hesitance, she retreated once more and closed the door in his face.
Kagome went to the side of the tub once more and leaned against the tile. Her hands fiddled with the ties around the brown package, and finally opening it, she found an old photograph and gasped at the quality eh had kept it preserved. Nearly unwrinkled and only slightly faded, she examined the artifact with apt interest. Kagome absorbed details of the paper, light, and exposure levels. All of these things stood out, first, but at the moment, she remembered the first rule of examination was to answer the obvious questions first. Turning her attention to the subjects of the photo, she nearly dropped it. It was the demon, as he was, unchanged by time. He was standing next to a woman dressed in a priestesses robes and brandishing a longbow. Her eyes glued to the woman in the photo. Her face, her eyes, they were kagome. She saw herself and put the image down.
Kagome took a breath, trying to calm her beating heart, and looked again at the two's faces in the snapshot. She recognized herself. It was as if she was looking at one of her photos. In a moment of reflection, felt like she had held this once before, but in an instant, the thought faded, and she was left holding the photo and looking at the door.
Standing up and going to where she could listen to the other side of the door, Kagome tried to hear where he was and found the television on once more. Sighing, she opened the door and walked straight into his chest.
"This is you," he said, and she looked up at him with wide eyes.
"This looks like me," she replied. Sesshomaru was shaking his head.
"You told me to show you this if you were too hard to convince," he said and tried to make her understand.
"I? I told you to show this to myself?" she asked, and he nodded.
"This is you," he said, and she sighed.
"Why don't I remember."
"I have been working on that for quite some time," he said, and she began to understand with sickening realization.
"You know what I am saying. It is connected. We are connected." Sesshomaru said
"How?" she demanded, and he looked away.
"Oh no!" she retreated once more.
"Kagome," he said as she walked away. Hesitating only a moment, she heard his next words. "You have to come home. Everything depends on it." she stopped.
"I said I would go. You agreed to give me a doctorate for my effort. That is all that I can handle right now." Kagome looked down at the photo in her hand and reached out to give it back. "You should have this," she said, and he shook his head.
" Just look at it," he said and then turned away and went to the living room. Kagome let out the breath she was holding and felt her head spinning. Going to her bedroom, Kagome began to pack. She folded her clothes, put away her manga and textbooks, and then flopped down on her bed.
Bringing the photo back into view, she looked at the faces and knew that he was telling her the truth, of some kind. The authenticity was dubious, she was not an expert, But it looked damn close from her archives department's adventures. Sighing, she turned and thought hard about the demon in her living room. He was called lord Sesshomaru. He was an Inu youkai from the western prefecture. He said that they had some connection and that he knew her grandfather. All of these things held some nagging grain of truth, but it was all just too fast. Shifting through her textbooks, she went to her reference guide and found the appropriate section.
"Inuyoukai…" she began to read, and as she absorbed the traits festivals and locations worshiped, she found that something was missing. It was something that she couldn't name, but it was some obvious error that she had never fathomed. Frustrated, kagome shut the book and began thinking about the things she had learned during her studies. And from her grandfather. "Sesshomaru. What do you want from me," she whispered.
Sesshomaru could hear everything within the apartment complex; Human smells, and noises, seeped from every surface. There were few demons there in the northwest. Tengu and coyotes ran rampant with unobserved freedom outside the city's borders and into the expenses of natural escapes. He felt like running. Like escaping the noises, but he had to be sure that she was not going to escape as she had three hundred years before.
He remembered the diligent searching he had done to find her living in the German countryside as an artist. After nearly three days of convincing her to come home, she was murdered by a stranger on the streets in a random act of violence. He had held her dying body tree other times, and he swore that this would be the last life. And they would spend it together.
Going to the balcony, he looked out at the lighted streets, homeless walking, and late-night drivers going to and fro on the ever-living streets. He was amazed each time how far her lives had taken her after the first. When the world had opened up, he had no desire to explore it. But, Kagome had gone and done everything in the world while he had stayed home, fortifying the strength of his power and influence. For five hundred years, he had searched for the chance to correct his old mistake, to go back to the life that he had lost when she died the first time.
Kagome rode with Sesshomaru to SeaTac, where they bought and boarded a plane. It was nine hours in Tokyo. Kagome grabbed the window seat, and with a little conversation, she endured the ride, falling asleep and making Sesshomaru hold her things. He had not brought anything other than a passport and his cash. Finding that strange, she tried not to say anything, finding that the demon lord garnered no attention from anyone who saw him. "Why can't they see you."
"Only you see what I am," he replied. Kagome sat back once more.
"I'm going to sleep. Don't try anything funny," kagome warned, and once more, Sesshomaru was silent in reply.
Kagome fell asleep, clutching her backpack to her chest. She kept a few things from her time in the US: some souvenirs, her textbooks, and the pictures of her and the friends she had made while there. She held those memories to her heart and vowed that she would be back to finish what she started. Sighing kagome, let her eyes go to the arm of the demon male beside her. He had claws, claws, and if her research was correct, they were poison-tipped. Her shoulders dropped.
" where are we going when we get to Japan," she asked.
" I live just outside of Tokyo- he started, and she started upright.
"Aren't you a professor at the university?" she asked, and he confirmed. "And you want me to stay at your house while I attend the college?" she asked, making the taboo obvious.
" we will be working with a team that is also staying on the estate," he said, and she sputtered.
"Oh," was all that she said and wondered what kind of team she was going to be working with. "Are they demons too?" she asked, and Sesshomaru looked at her, not knowing if he should say anything. " I see." she nodded. " then they are. Let me ask you this then. Will I be the only human?" she eyed him skeptically. He looked down at her without saying anything, and he watched her face fall. "then I will be." she slumped in her seat. "Final question," she said
" what?" he said, feeling tired.
"Are you a part of the university?" she asked, and he blinked.
"Of all things, you are still worried about your doctorates?" he said slowly.
Her face turned red, and she let her anger touch her face. "You know, I worked hard to write my dissertation," she said, and he nodded.
" I am one of the professors in Tokyo university, I head the demonology department, and most of my students are demons," he said, and she gaped.
"You are lying." she shook her head, and he shook him in the negative.
"I am not. Kagome, you are essential in finding the site." He explained.
"This is because of our previous relationship?" Her question made him glower, and she knew that she was testing his patience. She pictured him in another time, touting even strength and power over others, but clustered in the cab of a flying shuttle, they were on equal footing. She smiled slowly, "I thought so."
Kagome pulled out the picture and made sure to measure his face against the one in the photo. It was him. He grabbed the image from her, and she could see that he had treasured the item and, with great care, tucked it away in his pocket.
Seeing a small vulnerability exposed, she felt a small guilt building in her stomach. "You cared about her." She observed hesitantly. His eyes looked at her with irritation, and then looking away, answered once more with his silence.
"It was a long time ago, but yes, I did." He was beginning to hate this version of her. She was always quick-witted, but the blatant questioning of every detail made him uneasy. Already too much had been outed before he felt she was ready to know. This Kagome was severe, skeptical, and well studied. All things that he needed for the excavation. He sighed.
"Will you tell me about her. Whether we share a spirit or not, I am not her." She tried to be understanding but knew that she had an abrasive way of questioning that hadn't made her popular outside of her academic circle. He seemed to react to her question, and this time he looked at her, questioning her intentions. She put her hands up, showing that she meant no insult.
He sighed and nodded. " yes. She loved white lilies, was skilled in archery, and had tremendous power in purification."
"White Lillies? What else did she like?" She asked. He raised an eyebrow.
"She liked the rain. She looked to walk in nature. She was an artist painted. She had a knack for language…"
"She seems intelligent." She observed remembering the intense eyes of her counterpart. "Was she happy?" She wondered, and he sighed.
"Women are neither happy nor unhappy for any length of time. Our finest days were well behind us when she was killed." He said, frowning.
"Oh...it was sudden, then?" He couldn't look at her or answer her question.
It was five more hours before they came to the final airport. Tokyo shone with glittering lights and people bustling. Crowds of black-haired heads flowed in synch, following the strict walking traffic and heading from one restaurant to another.
Kagome took in the familiar sights and smells and could not help but feel happy to be home. Spice and perfume assaulted her at random, and the fashion culture like nowhere else. A few times in the crowd, she thought she saw a demon among the cosplayers but shook off the feeling. Sesshomaru hailed a cab, giving an older man his address. Sesshomaru held the door open for her to get in.
Looking at it for a moment, she thought about running. The thought brought a familiar ache in her stomach, and not understanding where it was coming from, she tried to make the right choice.
His eyes watched her with nearly fearful concentration. She had a sickening feeling when she thought about running like she had run from something else and had been hurt. A stabbing pain shot through her stomach, and reaching out to catch herself on the door of the cab, found herself holding his hand.
Looking up at the amber-eyed demon, she found herself thinking that she had seen him before. She had seen him somewhere before, and she could not quite remember. How ridiculous, she thought. As she felt that, she accepted his help in the cab and watched him let go of the breath he had been holding when he slid in beside. Almost protectively, he shut and locked the door just as a man ran into the side of the cab. Police were chasing him, and as he collided with the taxi, they took hold of his writhing form.
Kagome screamed and felt the cab pull forward to get off of the scene. She looked back through the window and tried to slow her racing heart. "What are the odds of that." She said.
"Two in five," he answered, and looking at him, she started connecting the dots.
"How many times have I died?" She asked. "Have I ever gotten this far?"
Sesshomaru steadied his hands. They were shaking as he prepared himself to watch her refuse and die once more, but she hadn't, not this time. "Four, this is the fifth time that I've found you, Kagome. You had never come willingly before, never remembered." He stopped there, but she could tell that he wanted to say more.
"Oh, so you're also saying that I'm stubborn." She breathed. The irony was that her mother always swore her stubbornness would be her downfall. "Is this real?" She asked, and with all seriousness.
"It is truly a dilemma."
Thinking with some objectivity, she began filling in the unspoken words with the apparent distress all of this was causing him. "Sesshomaru?" she ventured.
"I believe you." She said and shifted to see his face. The cab was pulling into a long driveway. She still hadn't noticed the wooden buildings or gardens that lined either side of the road.
"That will make things much easier." He said, not sure if he believed her.
"What do I have to do then? She asked.
Finally, something he was sure of. Sighing, he nodded. " you will be my wife. I have already told the students I was going to be picking you up from the airport. They are expecting you to be an expert on demonology and a field researcher capable of helping to find the citadel."
"You lied that we are married? She said, alarmed, and he pulled out a ring.
"Yes. Kagome, become my wife again, and I swear I will restore your memories and give you the biggest demonic unearthing of the century."
Her reservations were back. Had he tricked her all this way to play house like it was normal? Looking at the ring, she noticed that it was ancient. "Is this hers?" She asked, and he nodded slowly. Sighing, she allowed him to put the ring on and then narrowed her eyes. "I am a high maintenance woman. Remember, this was your idea. I'm not going easy on you." She said and moved to open the door. He nodded, knowing the truth of her words.
Setting her feet on the walkway, Kagome found herself within a cluster of shrines and altars set up as a village. Each demon had their temple, and with the diversity of youkai, she found a few humans mixed in.
Students greeted him respectfully. She watched as the different demons bowed respectfully, wearing the uniform of the college. She was behind him, walking at a distance when a student stopped and turned to her.
"Mrs. Taisho, we have all been awaiting your arrival. We are so grateful to have your expertise," he said, and she blushed, embarrassed. "You must be proud of your husband. He is single-handedly giving us a chance to survive here, ma'am. Thank you both." Kagome was taken aback by the comment, and she tried not to act too surprised. Behind her, she felt Sesshomaru take hold of her shoulders
Thank you for your kind words, but Mrs. Taisho needs to adjust from living abroad. Her bed awaits." He spun her around and, signaling the cab driver to carry in her bags, they went to the last wooden structure on the pathway and entered the house. "We are at home."