Perhaps the reason you are so uneasy is that you know you shouldn't be there?"
Kagome looked around her. There was something off about the scenery. She was inside a mountain setting. Snow and cherry petals fell like rain, and she wasn't cold. Turning back to the strange kami, kagome felt overwhelmed with the energy rolling off of him.
"Come sit with me. We will talk for a little while." The man had white hair and beard as if he was an older man, but his face was ageless. He wore a beige robe and sat a chabudai with tea in front of him though she was sure he hadn't had it a moment before.
"Who are you?" she asked, and the man smiled. He motioned for her to sit on a tatami mat across from him. Looking down, she was out of her regular clothes and wearing an expensive-looking kimono. Bowing her thanks, she received the cup.
"I know you, kagome. Much better than you know yourself," he said
" that seems to be common," she said, and he laughed, but his face turned serious.
"Yes, that is why I've brought you here. You cannot trust the demon Sesshomaru if you value your life." the being took a severe tone.
"Then you know about my reincarnations. Do you know who I am? Do you know what I'm supposed to do when the demons find the citadel?" she leaned forward.
"I can tell you this. I have known that demon a thousand years. You are very important to him, but not for the reasons he has said."
"I can honestly say that I couldn't fully buy into the whole lost love thing. It's so cliche." she rolled her eyes. The kami chuckled again.
" so it is. And many other cliches will come to pass before the truth is revealed," he answered gravely. Kagome knew from looking at him that there was more that he needed to tell her, but there was an air of anticipation indicating that she needed to ask the question first.
"Can I ask you something else?" she ventured, and seeing him nod, continued. " who is the person that Sesshomaru claims that needs to repay with this discovery?" she asked, and the man looked relieved.
"My, my kagome. You go right to the heart of the issue as always, such the intellectual." she watched him muse over her question for a moment before answering. "I am." he smiled, and she felt a sickening recognition.
"Am i-" she began, and he shook his head.
" not anymore, my child." he motioned around him. "When you return. Everything will make sense. All of your memories will return. Until then, you have to keep your guard up. This inugami is smart, strong, and ruthless. Remember this always." he said, and Kagome felt a rushing sensation as if she was falling.
"Whats-" she felt restrained, pulled down to earth with a sickening drop.
"You're waking up, Kagome. Don't forget. If you wish to speak again, go to any shrine and whisper my name. It is Tenjin."
Kagome began to wake up in a haze of confusion. Opening her eyes, she saw the daw through the window. Her head was still on Sesshomaru's chest, and feeling a sense of dread, looked up to see if he was awake. He was.
" did you sleep well?" he seemed amused, and she felt herself blush. Covering the wariness from her dream with nervousness, she pulled herself away from him and sat up to rub the sleep from her eyes and clear her mind. Taking a breath, she looked back at him, and he was still there observing her.
"Yeah, I was dreaming…" she said and got up. Rifling through her clothes and grabbing the day's outfit, she went to the washroom and cleaned up before getting dressed. Her mind was racing when she came out to the communal space. She felt the demon's eyes on her again.
"We have a full day, Mrs. Taisho," he smirked when she blushed. The title carried descent. He was a liar. He lied to her mother, the students, the university, and her when he said she would be enrolled as a graduate student.
"Yes, I suppose we do." Kagome felt herself playing along as if she meant it. He seemed satisfied with her response. Coming to rest his hand on her back, Kagome was aware of the poisoned tipped claws, capable of doing fatal damage if she gave him the reason. "I have begun doing some research of my own on the topic."
"Oh?" he seemed curious.
"Yes, I've decided that I was going to write a paper on youkai traditionalism. I read Zilla Papp's "Monster wars" about the changing dynamics of youkai perception in modernizing society. I think, with this excavation, I will be able to contribute a different perspective to the topic."
"What an interesting idea," he said, seeming to like the proposal. "While you are studying the youkai, perhaps your spiritual energy will be unlocked," he said, leading her to ask how. "You must concentrate, feel the energy flowing around you, and through you, to harness your true powers," he said it as though it were a simple objective.
Kagome nodded, thinking that it was strange that he asked her for her spiritual energy again. "I will try. Perhaps I should visit the shrine-" she started and saw an alarmed look in his eyes. Stopping her words in their tracks, she watched him recover with a small breath and closed eyes.
"We cannot let the kami know what we are doing here. If they know we are headed for the citadel, they will try to stop us. If that happens, some of my students will die, and I cannot allow that to happen." he made an emotional appeal that kagome suspected was another lie, but instead of showing it on her face, she nodded.
" then it would be wise to stay away from them," she said
Sesshomaru approached her and taking both shoulders in hand. He pulled her against him. "I can't lose you again, Kagome," he said, and she felt a pit forming in her stomach.
Kagome was in the library with the second group. The oni, Kuro kappa, and Neko were with her and Sesshomaru. He was acting as the perfect professor, attentive, openminded, and more than anything else, he was overly concerned with her comfort. Taking all of this in, Kagome could not escape the feeling that the entire lie was constructed to distract her from happening. Looking t the clues, she felt embarrassed that she was taken in so quickly. The lies. Oh, the lies! How could she ever believe someone who lies so effortlessly to everyone around him?
Determined to make the discovery, she began planning. Outlining her points, Kagome wrote out the things she knew for sure.
The kami are real
The youkai are real
The rituals have real-world effects
There are seven central kami and millions of minor kami.
The citadel is an ancient myth connected to creation and destruction.
Then, she wrote the things that she had questions about
What is the power source of youkai?
How are they connected?
What is my role in the excavation?
How are the youkai affected by the modernizing world?
Kagome felt like she was making progress and noted several sources that she could use to find precedence for her research. Grateful for her background in the subject, she wrote down the authors of several para scientific journals, the modern youkai watchers, and cryptozoologists specifically relevant for japan. With over four hundred years of study to look over, kagome wrote out a reading schedule and started by finding the first book on her list. With the university library database at her disposal, she flipped through the pages on her cellphone.
"You are working pretty hard over here." the kappa came to see what she was doing. She smiled when she looked down at the young-looking green creature. His glasses fell down his beak, and with a sniffle, he slid them back into place.
"Yes, I am looking forward to receiving my doctorates in anthropology," she answered.
"I want to go to the united states to study one day," he said, taking a seat beside her. Kagome nodded, making a note of his thoughts.
"Why don't you?" she asked, and he scoffed. "My father would never allow it. We had a cousin who went over there. He never came back, and father is afraid that ill disappear too." he said
" that happens easily. The United States is so big that many students finish their classes and decide not to go back. I might never have come back myself if Sesshomaru hadn't come to get me." she slipped. "Figure of speech." She tried to cover her mistake.
"I understand." The kappa was already engrossed in his reading material and making notes. Kagome stood to stretch her legs and, opening her notebook to her reference materials, began looking at some of the old texts in the archives department.
The Neko was by the bookshelf already with her nose in an old newspaper. Kagome saw her and nodded, thinking that Neko usually took animal traits. Making a note of it on a separate page, kagome approached her. "Can I ask you an incredibly human question?" she began quietly. Orange eyes focused on her.
Neko closed the newspaper like an American businessman at breakfast. "What is your question?" she asked in return. Kagome was aware of the sadistic nature of Neko.
"Why don't you wear your ears and tail?" she asked, and Neko smiled slyly.
"Then you notice I am half-demon?" she said, and kagome perked up.
"Half demon? Then there are more qazi-youkai? Is this a new event? I've never heard of any other half-demon." she explained, and Neko quirked a brow.
"Lord Ses- Professor Taisho hasn't told you about his brother?--" she wondered, and Kagome stopped her note-taking to look up at her surprise.
"He is a very private man. There is still so much to learn even after five years."
"It's true. I met him fifty years ago in my home village. He had a quest that he asked my father to assist him with-"
" Why did he ask your father? Kagome interrupted curiously.
"He is the head of our people," she answered. "Anyway, he was looking for-"
Sesshomaru was behind kagome. She could feel it, and seeing the Neko girl's eyes flicker to the tall youkai stopped talking. "I appreciate the enthusiasm you have for your topic but, please return to the assigned work Miss Bunko," he said, not too gently to Neko. She nodded quickly and returned to her newspaper.
" if you have any further questions, I will be happy to supply you with answers." he ushered her out of the shelves of books and back towards the tables. One of the onis had joined the kappa, studying with him at the table.
"Of course you will." she smiled and turned to a new page. " do you have any siblings?" she asked, and he sighed and nodded.
"One. a brother. I don't wish to talk about him."
" Parents living?" she asked, and he sighed once more.
Taking a breath, he shook his head. "Both dead," he said, and she nodded.
"Exact age?" she waited and saw him thinking.
"I don't know," he said. She furrowed her brows but nodded.
"What did you do before you were a professor?" she asked.
His eyes rolled. "Wandering lord."
"What does a wandering lord do?" she looked up from her notes irritatedly.
"Protect my lands and my people." he thought the answer was appropriate because she snorted and wrote it down.
"Are all of these students children of powerful youkai families?" she asked, and he paused.
"Everyone, including myself, has been carefully chosen for this task." he was stepping closer to revealing yet again too much information when he took her hands in his. "Let's continue this over lunch. I must return to the students."
He left kagome and went to the two onis, stopping them from using a set of daggers to fight with from the samurai section. They stopped when he barked a command, and as he approached, they looked like they genuinely feared the youkai professor. Watching him, Kagome could feel a cold wind on her skin and, knowing that there were no windows, looked at the other students who had their eyes on Sesshomaru.
"I have already warned you-" he used a calm voice, but the three large boys looked as if he had screamed.
"Yes, Lor-Professor. We won't do it again."
" See that you don't," he replied and went to manage the other groups.
Everyone was exceptionally well behaved. When Sesshomaru dismissed them for lunch, she could almost hear the sigh of relief. Even the desk associate seemed to be extra polite when they signed out.
" he's in one of those moods." the young boy wore a name tag that said Haru. "I had his class two years ago in undergrad, and he is a very strict professor." he was flipping through the list of checked out items and made a note of a few.
"I have my moments." Sesshomaru was at her side without either of them realizing it.
"He also hears everything. Don't bother whispering. He has ears like a Shiba inu." Haru never looked up from his notes, nor did he see the smirk that appeared on the demon lords face.
They went to the cafeteria. Kagome made a note of what he ordered. Where he decided to sit and who greeted him on the way to and from the table. There were too many similarities in the way people greeted him. Bowing slightly lower than intended and with a formal hello as if they all saw him as their senior. Even the older professors.
" So we were about to discuss the status of my students, or was it the transition into modern times?" he started the conversation as she took her first bite of rice, and he had to chew before she could answer.
"It seems like making appearances is a large part of modernizing." she made the statement. "Why is that?"
"Our homes have been assimilated into Tokyo. Our rivers, forests, bogs, hunting grounds are here under the progress of humans. The only way to survive has been to use what the humans have created." it was an honest answer.
She continued eating thoughtfully—that made sense. The idea of their homes being displaced was not only evident, but it made more sense for them to re take their lands through legal means, buying and restoring their families. Taking note of that, she smiled, thinking that it might be a good paper.
Sesshomaru saw her smile and felt a sense of relief. For a moment, he wondered if she had forgotten their tentative truce and had gone back to distrusting him. " is there anything else I can help with?" he asked.
" oh, I would like to go out tonight. Do you know anywhere good?" she asked, and he nodded.
"You won't be disappointed." Sesshomaru observed her as she continued eating. She looked up at him a few times with a faraway look in her eyes, then sank further into her thoughts. It seemed like she was getting back to herself. She was almost as suspicious and dedicated to studying as the first memory he had of her. Watching through the undergrowth, he watched her reading scrolls alongside the riverbank. She was not far from the shrine where the other priestesses practiced. He recalled receding into the forest to find himself stopped short by a thrown dagger buried in the tree in front of him.
"Why are you watching me?" Kagome asked.
He came back to himself with a start. Dropping his chopsticks, he grabbed them again before they hit the ground.
"Wow." She was impressed. "What time did you want to be back in the archives?" She was already done eating and waiting for him to finish. He shook the daydream from his mind, and watching her as he ate lunch, wondered where he'd gotten such a memory.
" they will wait for me," he replied
"Okay. Then let's talk about us." she pushed her tray back. Kagome thought about the man she had seen in her dreams. She knew she couldn't trust a dream, that it was all just a manifestation of her daily problems compiled. But she couldn't shake the doubt that she was feeling. " I put everything on the line to be here, my doctorates, my life in the United States, and most of all, my life. You say that you have pursued me, for my specialty in demonology, more that I am someone who can help you and that you care deeply for. I don't know who you are through all of those pretenses." she said, and he nodded, still eating.
"You wish to know me," he observed.
"To put it simply." she said, "how are we going to achieve that goal."
"I know away."
It was night when kagome followed him out into the darker trails leading away from the small reenactment village. Shivering, Kagome pulled her jacket tighter to close the airgaps. The wind picked up. "What are we doing out here?" she asked, and he turned to look at her. He was walking ahead, robes looking ethereal in the moonlight dappling through the leaves. There was a strange air about him. When he stopped, she nearly ran into his back, but he had appeared behind her instead, grabbing her, so she didn't stumble.
"I will remove the glimmer hiding my true power." he was quiet, leaning to her ear. "Don't be afraid."
"I'm not afraid!" she said defensively.
"Don't run," he warned as he reached around his neck to the amulet he had crafted by an old alchemist two hundred years previous. It had been a long time since he was able to unleash his real power. Feeling suddenly excited to free from his restraints, he unclasped the amulet and felt a rush. There was a fire in his veins, bones, and muscles surging with unused power forced him to lurch forward. Kagome caught him, unsure of the scope of his pain and grabbed her, and pushed her back. He wasn't prepared for her to fall straight to her bum and look at him with pure terror.
"What happened? I can see fire around you!" she was horrified at the feel of darkness and the twisting innate danger that her body recognized as her mind tried to process. When he straightened to look at her, she saw that he had grown taller, looked fuller.
"I have not taken the amulet off in many years. There is more energy being suppressed than I even recognized." he sounded different. Cold. his eyes were intense, thoughtful, and looking at her like he was seeing someone else. "I have been waiting to see you again, kagome. It's funny that this life would even fate you the same name as before. Come to me." he said as an order. And shuffling to her feet, Kagome felt like there was no choice but to comply. Her hands were shaking when he grabbed them and pulled her to him. Claw wrapping in the back of her hair, there was a clear danger when he yanked her head back and breathed in deeply. "You are afraid. How strange."
"Why are you so different?" she asked shakily.
"I have been hiding my true self, my demonic energy. This is me," Sesshomaru said, and she drew in a shaky breath and reached for his hand to uncurl his finger from her hair.
"True self? Does that mean that the person I have been living with is another lie?" she asked, feeling both brave and terrified at once.
"I am what you see now," he said and let go of her completely. Taking a few steps back, Kagome looked at someone she knew had massive amounts of demonic energy. When she was back from him, the level of power never faded.
She could feel movement in the trees, different energies approaching, and as she whipped around looking, she saw small creatures, corn heads, and white sprites flowing through the trees towards him. She went to Sesshomaru, then not knowing what it was coming out after them, and he smirked.
" I see your fear fades away when you know that I protect you," he said, laughing at her fear. Narrowing her eyes, she watched the small youkai stop in line and bow to Sesshomaru.
"Master, are you calling us to move?" a larger demon came through the ranks and kneeled in front of the rest.
"Yes, I would like you to prepare my house for my departure in three days," he said it as an order, cold eyes looking at them with disdain. Kagome saw the interaction with some questions in mind. With the evident hatred he had for the lesser demons, they trembled but wanted to serve him that much more, and with the command, the entire army mobilized through the trees towards the house she had seen a few days before.
"What was that?" she asked, and he smirked.
"A small example of power," he said and turned. "Come, there is still much to show you before the night ends," he said, and kagome wondered what else he could have to show her.
They came to a clearing, the trees there were manicured, but the grass was scarred up and marred from what kagome could only guess to be demonic clawing. "This form I take is proof of my power, but not the true face of what I am."
When he said this, Kagome stopped and looked at him, really looked at him, before taking a seat on the grass. "I know what you are, now show me." she was excited and afraid again as she felt his power magnify once more. He was going to turn, she knew it, and then she would see an actual inu demon! A powerful one and be the first scholar in her age to specialize in this particular youkai!
There was so much going on in her mind to see his transformation in entirety. Still, watching the inu form grow larger and larger, she realized that she was far too close even at this distance. Standing up to get out of the way, Kagome felt teeth grab the back of her coat, and she was flung through the air. Expecting to be thrown, she screamed before landing on soft fur. Holding on to keep from falling, Kagome felt the wind rush past her face. He was running.
"Hold on to me," she heard his voice in her head and nodded, burying her face in silver fur. When she stopped hearing the sound of paws on the earth, she looked and saw that he was flying.
"How can you do this?" she asked.
"I have been alive far longer than most of my kind. We are given power as youkai age," Sesshomaru said plainly. Kagome felt something in his voice. It was enjoyment. He was having fun running through the night sky.
"Will you become as powerful as a kami?" she asked, and he laughed then.
"I already am."
AN: thank you for reading! Hope you stay with me for more intrigue!Idreamofinuyouaki out,