Second Alliance – Chapter 24

Back to Chapter 23: White Knight

Chapter 24: Selfless Act of a Daiyoukai

Sesshomaru knew the moment she began to wake.  He had listened to her breathing for hours, followed the gentle pulse of blood in her veins. He relaxed fractionally with each degree of increase in her temperature. Her breath stirred against the hollow of his throat and her limbs twitched slightly.  He held her tightly – for a few brief hours giving in to the need to shelter her above all else, His arms tensed. The smooth, soft skin of her cheek rubbed against his collarbone and she mumbled insensibly.

His mother had reminded him that Kagome would be in danger every day she was at his side. Kimi had told him to trust that Kagome could protect herself, if given the tools to do so. Her words, spoken out of experience and the deep, but oft-concealed love for her son, nevertheless grated against his protective nature.  Kagome was his – she would always be his – but he had to trust that she was worthy of being the Lady of the West. The Lady was not just the Lord’s mate, she was the tenacious protector of all in her pack – of every life in the West.  She was strong, as her Lord was strong.  Sesshomaru knew Kagome had those qualities, it was one of the many reasons he had decided that he would mate her. His challenge would be to allow her to become everything she was capable of being when he desired to prevent any harm to her.

As the Saidai Mao he had been alone, depending on no other, for centuries. He had armies at his disposal, allies that would aid him – had aided him – when called. He had defeated threats to the superiority of the West: the remnants of the Northern army after InuTashio’s death, and the invasion from the mainland. When neither his sword alone or his skill in leading an army was enough, he had engineered alliances to defeat his enemies – Naraku and the pox. The irony of being brought to his lowest point by an enemy so small he could not see it was not lost on him; nor was the use of reiki, youkai’s greatest threat, to overcome it. His most stubborn hindrances had been turned to his advantage as his allies: Inuyasha and Tessaiga, even Kagome with her ability to withstand his poison had been brought to the West to add to his greatness.

Through her deep, recuperating sleep he had come to the frightening realization that the power she had over him was far stronger than any enemy. Her pain…her death…he forced his beast down at the thought of such a possibility.  Without her he had been the strongest, highest among demons. The rightful sense of honor and pride that usually accompanied a reflection on his power was noticeably dimmed. An uncomfortable shadow of something…humility, perhaps…fell across his ego. His mother had shown him the truth: with her he could be even greater. They had not yet mated, but it did not matter. Kagome was already a part of him; her energy was within him, as his was in her. That was as it should be. It was right. The intense connection – the desire he had for her that went beyond lust for her body or power, beyond an alliance or even friendship – was not something he could name. Although the emotion was unfamiliar he knew they were tied together by feelings as well. Having glimpsed what she had brought to him, what they would be together, he knew that without her his name, his titles, he would be…diminished.

It was a sobering and formidable reality.

For a time, in the moments before she woke, he nearly hated her. He hated what he had become. Softer, weaker, vulnerable.  Ever truthful with himself, that black feeling turned inward. In the past, when the things he held close were threatened – his lands, his honor, Rin – he had reacted with anger. Furious, bitterly clear rage had allowed him to overcome any challenge. Kagome had touched something else inside him.  She had broken some barrier within him that kept him from feeling too deeply.  His concerns, cares for his people, even his daughter, had grown with what his miko had freed.  But with it had come the possibility, the fear, which could paralyze him with indecision and wrack him with guilt.  A daiyoukai, the Saidai Mao, could not be ruled by fear.

If she had only healed Rin and then gone back to her time he would not have experienced such fear.  If she had not come to the West, he would be dead, he also realized.

She stirred, derailing his thoughts momentarily, as her reiki shimmered and caressed his youki in a pleased greeting. Her lips brushed against his skin and his concerns faded. He was calm in a way that he had never been before, even with his cold mask and unbreakable logic. She had made him vulnerable, but she had also given him something he had never known he was missing. She was his mate, the one intended for him, made for him. She made him complete.  He refused to give her up, so he would find another way to control, if not erase, his fear: he could make her stronger. She was a part of him and he would not be without her.

Sesshomaru breathed deeply of her scent and his lips twitched in a smile at how his fate had been forced upon him. In order to walk the path of conquest – to achieve perfection – he would have to admit his own weakness. He would have someone to protect. The Great Dog General, so like Inuyasha with his loud laugh and fierce emotions, would have teased Sesshomaru mercilessly if he were still alive.

Those he cared about could be exploited against him that was true. But a pack was always stronger than a single youkai. It was why they banded together. It was why they took mates and had pups, why they forged alliances and sought to strengthen kin. He had long believed that he was stronger alone. Even after joining Inuyasha’s motley pack and witnessing how the individuals – all would have been murdered by Naraku had they remained alone – gained strength in their reliance on each other, he had viewed any permanent connection as unnecessary to augment his strength. However, time and again, his crude and untrained brother had risen to previously unknown levels of skill to protect his pack.  The humans had pushed beyond the limits of their own frailty to swing the battle in their favor.  Even the kit, weak and ineffectual on his own, had strengthened the group.

Sesshomaru did not conceal the small snort of disgust and mingled amusement as he recalled how his miko had controlled Inuyasha, into a face full of dirt, and how that control had been exactly what the hanyou needed in his most desperate moments – when his blood overcame him. Perhaps even those things that seemed to be detriments were actually benefits. Not that Kagome would ever control him in such a disgraceful manner. It was not necessary, and he, of course, would never allow it.

The daiyoukai settled his thoughts, content with his conclusions, and buried his nose in her hair. He was pulled from the deliciously comforting inhalation of her scent by movement.

She stretched, her dull nails pressing against his chest and her toes burrowing into his leg.  He forced himself to loosen his hold, to reach out for the kimono left to dry over a rock near the fire.  The white silk was stiff with salt, but warm.  Mokomoko shifted and he had the garment over her shoulders before her lids were fully open.  Dark blue eyes blinked at him.  She opened her mouth to speak and a strange look came over her face.  From her scent, even layered under his own and the dried remains of salty ocean, he could tell she was confused, anxious, and still harboring fear.

He forestalled her questions, although he wanted to reassure her as well, in favor of her physical needs. “There is an alcove behind you where you may relieve yourself, and a stream of water that you may wash and drink. Food has been prepared for you.”

“Ah-” Her voice was scratchy and she coughed painfully into her sleeve.

“Your throat will be sore from the seawater, Kagome.” He brushed his thumb across the hollow between her collarbones. His voice – he surprised himself with how easily a gentle tone came to him – was soft, “You should not speak until you have something to drink. Do you need assistance standing?” He was prepared to help her up, to carry her even, if she gave the slightest indication that she was in pain or merely too tired. He had to force himself to wait for her response – to let her decide if she needed his help, rather than coddle her as he wanted to.

She shook her head, the sweep of her hair tickling his skin and hiding her face.  He breathed deeply as she sat up away from him, and slowly stood, stretching her muscles. He felt each wince she made like a thorn in his chest. The borrowed kimono shifted, exposing a myriad of bruises and cuts – half-healed from his attentions but they still looked painful. He could feel the tug on his youki as she drew on both her power and his to control her trembling and steady herself. She held her injured arm close to her body, hunching over it as though to shield it from further harm. Her own scent of magnolias and cherry wood was muted by a swirl of emotion that fluctuated and changed so quickly he could not pick out any single one beyond pain and discomfort.  He felt a frown mar the skin between his brows as she stepped out of sight, and he did not bother to conceal it. Kagome, his miko, was nothing if not full of emotion and fire. Sesshomaru pulled on his pants and loosely knotted them. She would have been justified to scream at him for allowing her capture, to accuse him in a shrill voice that would hurt his ears – stinging his nose with shame that he did not go to her sooner. He expected tears over her experience. Anger at her treatment. Fury, terror, guilt, shame, exhaustion, relief. None of those things were easily distinguished by his nose.

When she returned, to wash her hands in the small pool and cup them against the water running down the wall, he focused on what he could see instead.  The wound on the side of her face – clearly made by a sharp claw – was nicely scabbed from his ministrations and the bruises were already beginning to turn.  His fists clenched at the sight, anger building again that he had to push out in a long breath before he could continue his examination of her.  The cuts on her arms were healing as well. Her spine was slightly rounded and her gait slow, not like her usual straight posture and quick step but explained by the strain of her escape and near drowning.

She seated herself by the fire, tucking her legs under her properly and mechanically eating one of the prepared fish.  Her face was blank, calm.  She did not smile or frown. Her lips did not tremble or her cheeks flush.  Her borrowed kimono was wrapped loosely around her, and he was nearly shocked at her lack of care for her own modesty.  When he reached her eyes…

He felt it like a physical punch to the stomach.  Her beautiful blue eyes stared at nothing. She barely blinked. There was no sparkle, no hint of sadness or joy – no spark of anger. No life. Pain spiked in his chest, followed closely by a return of his rage.  Sesshomaru would not allow Ryustokokken, the craven filth, to dim the incredible, bright life that Kagome exuded.  Mokomoko went with him as he put youki into his movements and flashed across the cave, settling her into his lap before she could realize what was happening.

“Sesshomaru? Wha-?” She was obviously confused, but no other strong emotions brightened her scent or moved her features.  Sesshomaru knew what he had to do. Logic was irrefutable, and it would be in Kagome’s best interests – but he felt pain on her behalf for what must be done.

He interrupted her, instilling undeniable command into his voice, “You will tell This One exactly what happened.”

“Sesshomaru-”

His tone to allow no room for argument, “Begin with your arrival at the infirmary.”

Her strangely calm expression made him want to comfort her, to cradle her close and press her against him, to rumble in the language of the inu that he would not let anything hurt her, that he would not make her ever think on what had happened again.  But that would not help her. After a brief pause, she acquiesced.  At first, her tale was spoken in a monotone, and the murky pool of her emotions continued to frustrate and worry him.  He breathed deeply when she related how Gakuto had thrown her, hit her.  His own fury would not help Kagome. He sank his claws into her hair, loosening tangles and soothing himself with the motion.  With each word, every action she described, a coil of white-hot rage within him was wound tighter. A small part of that anger was at himself, at his stubborness. The vast majority was for his enemies. Their blood would be on his hands, he promised himself.

The first crack in her dead expression came as she described how the northern soldiers had been injured to test her powers.  Pepper and salt, blended together, rose above the bland wash of her scent.  Anger. Sadness. He knew her, understood that she would feel such emotions.  Anger for the treatment of another being – even her enemy. Sadness for their pain. The sour taste of her guilt followed close behind.  Sesshomaru wrapped his free arm around her, discarding her half-eaten fish and holding her closer to him.  His miko would feel guilty that another had been forced to suffer as part of her own imprisonment. He did not speak, unwilling to interrupt her retelling, but did his best to soothe and encourage her with his actions.

He tried not to focus too much on her words.  He feared that if he heard and understood all that had happened, he would not be able to control himself. His vengeance, revenge for her, was not as important in that moment as helping Kagome to expose the wounds to her spirit so that they could begin to heal.  She continued, and her scent grew stronger; not just the scent of Kagome, but that of her emotions burned his nose and nearly made him regret forcing her to tell her story. A rumble started in his chest and Sesshomaru felt a heat growing behind his eyes as his youki swelled with fury over her state. She was angry, yes, but also ashamed and…grief stricken.

Camphor overwhelmed her scent as she spoke about Ko, a wind demoness the Dragon Lord used to torture Kagome’s mind. The miko’s body was stiff with tension and his skin grew wet with her tears. His claws gouged deeply into the rock floor as she clung to him, crying, “I couldn’t stand to watch, but I couldn’t look away!” Sobs shook her hunched shoulders and made her nose run. She choked on her own tears, gasping for breath even as the outpouring continued.  He rubbed soothing circles on her neck while she exhausted all of her pent up emotions, finally subsiding into sniffing and heavy breathing.

“She was so brave,” Kagome whispered.  Sesshomaru felt each word, every detail of her humiliation and the demoness’ pain, like acid under his skin. It burned and stung, causing more damage the longer he had to listen without taking action.

Ryukostokken had invaded her spirit – soiled the innocent naiveté that was as much a part of Kagome as her bright smile and selfless heart. It was something she had held onto even through the horrors she had seen while chasing Naraku. Sesshomaru had to remove his hand from her hair to dig all his claws into the stone floor of the cave or risk tearing something apart. I will skin him alive, he snarled to himself.

As strong as the salty scent of her tears was, it battled sharp pepper for his attention.  Finally, she sat up straight, her eyes red and puffy from crying and her skin blotchy.  She wiped at her nose with her sleeve; her mouth was pulled down into an angry frown.  “I wanted to kill him, Sesshomaru. I want to kill him now.”  The sharp scent of turnips and dry mace blended with the sour smell of her guilt – but nothing was as strong as her anger.  The familiar pepper of it deepened and sharpened. It burned his nose and sent licks of fire along his tongue. With a sense of sadness over the loss of a part of her innocence, he categorized the scent of togarshi chilli seeds as hatred. She sat on his lap, her face mere inches from his and growled as a pink glow sparked at her fingertips where they clutched his shoulder. “You have to help me go back. I will burn him into a pile of ash if it is the last thing I do.”

The furor, the intensity of her words and expression brought both a sense of pride and of concern out in Sesshomaru. He struggled with himself for a brief moment, torn between sheltering her from the action she wanted – perhaps needed – to take, and allowing Kagome to fulfill her potential: capable, determined, and committed to making difficult decisions. A part of him was saddened at the knowledge that a little bit of his miko’s innocence had been taken, and could not be regained. He quickly resolved himself. He did trust her. She shouldn’t, didn’t, need his constant protection – as much as that irritated his instincts.  She did need his support, which he would give without equivocation.

“Ryukostokken will die,” he agreed. He pulled his claws loose from the stone and stroked her hair. He met her gaze with promise, trying to will his own reserved intent into her. “We will not allow this to go unanswered,” he held his breath, knowing that as he had not wanted to put anything before Kagome, she would not wish to put any one friend’s safety below that of a stranger, “but there is more to consider than one youkai female.” Kagome’s anger flared, and Sesshomaru cupped her cheek to forestall her argument. “The Ko you speak of is most worthy of any assistance the West can provide, but we must also consider the northern armies, and how to make certain our enemy is defeated – permanently – with as few lives lost as possible.”

“Ko-”

Sesshomaru interrupted her before her words could put distance between them, “Your friend stayed so that she could help defeat Ryukostokken.” He softened his tone so that his next words would not be too harsh, “Do not let your feelings overshadow her duty – her revenge.” He watched her struggle for a moment, her scent wavering between anger and sadness. The tightness around her eyes and mouth lessened as her hatred gave way to sorrow.

“I know you’re right.” Her good hand fisted against his chest briefly before she sagged, deflated, defeated. “I believe you, Sesshomaru, but…every day that she stays there, he is hurting her, violating her – all over again,” she whispered. Her eyes closed and tears leaked out, leaving salty trails on her skin. “I can’t stop seeing it.” Her voice broke, and she began to tremble. “I can’t stop picturing him over her, raping her. He didn’t touch me, but I can’t stop feeling his hands on me. His eyes. I-”

Sesshomaru did not let her finish, but silenced her with the press of his mouth against hers. He would not allow the reptile from the North to make her feel weak. She could not take back the innocence that Ryukostokken had ripped away, but he would not let her lose her passion, her fight, her fearless desire to live and protect those around her.

“Kagome,” his voice was lower, throatier than he expected. “Do not give him this power over you. You will not let these memories define you.” He spoke, his lips brushing against hers with every word. When he pulled back, he gently forced her chin up so that he could meet her eyes. “His touch is nothing.” He paused for the briefest of moments, considering how he could best rid her of those memories without taking her control, “I will replace it.” His free hand followed the edge of her kimono, his claws dancing along the edge, but he did not look away from her.  Her will had been overridden by the Dragon; he would give it back. “Will you allow this?” Her lips were parted, her eyes wide and blue – wet and bloodshot from tears. She stared at him for long seconds in which he wondered if he had made an error. Humans, females regardless of species, were not something he often dealt with. Emotions, delicate feelings, had always been suppressed by him – brushed aside as foolish and an unimportant distraction. Hers were not. He found himself in the unfamiliar situation of desiring to excel at something that he had no experience with – comfort. Her eyes fluttered shut, and a new scent of sweet carnations brushed at his senses.

“Yes,” she whispered, “please, Sesshomaru.”

His heart surged to life at her words, her trust, and his cock quickly followed.  Sesshomaru frowned, even as he leaned in to trace the line of her jaw with his nose. This action was not about his lust. It was not even about their future mating. This was for Kagome, only her. His desires would wait.

She stiffened slightly as his nose met the cut on her cheek, left by Ryukostokken’s wooden dagger sheath, but Sesshomaru did not pause. With long, firm strokes he licked along the wound, coating it with his saliva, and then continued to work on the deep scratch on the side of her face.  The numbing and healing properties of the inu quickly began working, drawing out a soft sigh from Kagome. When he reached her temple, he pressed a soft kiss into her skin.  He used the claws tangled in her hair to tip her head back further. Her mouth parted slightly, and he traced the open edge with his tongue. Her lips tasted of salty tears and cooked fish. Cold mountain water and her.  He breathed deeply, re-memorizing her scent, noting every slight change from when last he held her at the castle. His free hand gently repositioned her injured arm to lie on mokomoko beside them and smoothed the silk over her ribs before slipping between the stiff fabric and her skin.

Fresh cut cherry wood. Her skin felt drier and more frail than it had been the last time he held her.  New, dewy magnolia blossoms. Her whole body was thin; his fingertips could trace the bumps of her ribs. Concern, care, and his protective instincts flattened his palm across her torso. Fading camphor. His large hand spanned from the indentation in her belly to her breast. The tips of his claws rested against the lower curve and he paused, inhaling to make certain that he was not pushing the intimacy quicker than she would like. The wet, muddy, slow smell of shame still clung stubbornly to her.  He pulled back slightly so that he could watch her face as he parted the folds of her kimono.

He had seen her naked in the springs, had changed her garments once, but never before had she been bared so openly to his eyes in the light. The pale almond of her skin darkened on her shoulders and arms, disappearing into her sleeves.  The full, heavy weight of her breasts was thrust towards him. Her dark pink nipples pebbled under his gaze and tempted him to taste, to suckle, to bite – not too hard, just enough. He tore his hungry eyes away and followed the indentation of her waist to the swell of her hip.  She was fuller there than he recalled from their time battling Naraku. In the intervening years, she had aged – as humans did. She had become a woman, and his lust, his instincts, responded to the sight of her body. He knew she had been made for him.

He did not linger on the neat, dark patch of hair between her legs, knowing that if he did he would struggle to keep from taking her as he wanted. Instead he lifted his eyes, gold against blue, and whispered the thought that she needed to hear – as much as he need to say it. “Beautiful. Beautiful Kagome.” Tears welled in her eyes again, and if he hadn’t experienced the strange contradiction of human emotions before, if he hadn’t smelled the gentle tide of sweet, fresh carnation that she emanated, he would have worried. Instead he admired the pink of her cheeks and the strain of embarrassment that remained with her, despite her determination, her need.

His palm slipped down to span her thigh, his thumb brushing briefly against her core. Her eyes widened, and he continued his reassurances, his truths. “Strong,” he stated, squeezing the lean muscle of her leg. His fingertips followed the crease of her hip and ghosted behind her to grip one sweet globe of her bottom firmly. “Passionate.” He was rewarded with the taste of satsuma oranges and the sweet cinnamon spice of her desire.  He reluctantly abandoned that flesh to stroke his way to her sternum. With her heart under his palm, his thumb and smallest finger each brushed against a nipple and her excitement increased before he even spoke. “Caring. Loving.” He held her eyes and skated across her breast, down her arm, to interlace their fingers.  He pulled her hand up and examined it. Her wrist was bruised, cut by what he estimated must have been a metal cuff. He licked the wound and kissed her palm, reminding himself to attend her other wrist later. The skin across her knuckles was dry as well, cracked in places. Her nails were short and blunt – so unlike a demoness. Her reiki thrummed deep under the surface, answering the unconscious call of his own youki. He had to steady his own voice before he spoke again and temper the growl that wanted to break free. “Powerful.” He pressed his lips to each fingertip, tasting their texture with the end of his tongue. He was eager to nip and lick, but held himself back.

My Kagome.

He released her hand, folding it over his shoulder. His hands met behind her head, cradling it as though she was the most precious, the most rare thing in the world. She was. “Intelligent. Cunning.” He kissed her forehead, then trailed his lips down, across her nose, until they met her own. “Kagome.” He did not whisper, and the strong, low tone reverberated against the walls of the cavern.  She nodded against him, her arm snaking around his chest to hold him, grip him, and pull him down for her kiss.  He reveled in it. The taste of her. The sweet smell of his miko, his Kagome, free finally of the shame.

“Please, Sesshomaru,” she spoke into his mouth. Her breath was hot against him and stirred a desire to swallow her words, to take everything that she would give him and return it better, more – with everything he had. “Touch me. I only want to think of you.” He reaffirmed his control, knowing what she was asking and swearing to himself that he would do whatever was necessary, whatever she needed, and only that much.

My miko.

He distracted her with a kiss as he sat her upright so that he could remove the kimono from her shoulders. Mokomoko was already there, curling against her bare back and head to warm her and wrap her in his scent. He shifted so that she was nestled more firmly between his thighs, perpendicular to him, her hip pressed against his erection. He bent his knees, allowing her to lean back against one while the other parted her legs.  Her limb closest to the fire slid to the floor to be wrapped in white fur. Her other, injured arm, remained gently immobilized by Mokomoko. Exposing her core released a powerful burst of scent that flooded his mind and released the low growl that he had been struggling to hold back.  He pressed deeper into her mouth, learning the inner curve of her cheek, the smooth, dull shape of her teeth, the warm demand of her tongue. When he pulled away, licking at her lips, she tried to follow him. Her sounds of displeasure over the end of the kiss both excited and amused him.

My intended.

“I think of you, Kagome.” He touched her, caressed her, learning the feel of her body. One palm cupped her cheek, while the other smoothed along her arm, her ribs, found the curve of her breast and gently squeezed. He kissed the corner of her mouth. “I read reports of my lands, and I wonder what your opinion would be.” He ran his tongue along her bottom lip and kneaded her breast, drawing a breathless gasp from Kagome and biting back his own groan.  “I hear Rin’s laugh and want to know if you caused it.” He sucked gently, pulling the delicate, red skin into his mouth. He released it only to kiss her again, plunging his tongue inside her with more force than he intended, but she did not seem to mind. His fingers found her nipple and he rolled the berry between them. “My brother grows stronger. He takes on responsibility and I know that it is your doing.” He pinched, and a quiet, keening sound vibrated in her chest. Sesshomaru felt an answering growl building inside him.  He leaned his face into hers, pressing his nose against her cheek and breathing hard.

“You have done what no other would ever attempt. You have slipped my defenses, Kagome. Without trying, you have ensnared me. And I am willing. I think of you – no other. I think of you and I admire your strength.” His hand slipped down her belly, caressing her hip and leg before his claws drew circles on the sensitive skin of her inner thigh. “I hunger for your passion. You do nothing without giving everything.” His whispers raced ahead of him along her jaw to her ear. His mouth followed, tracing the shell and nipping at her lobe. Her fingers tightened on the back of his neck and he listened to her heart pound.

His claws – he had never been so aware of how dangerous they were, not even when he was using them to kill – traced along her outer folds. Cinnamon and oranges flooded his nose, washed across his tongue in a citrus spice that sent a thunderstorm of desire crashing through his veins. Her fingers tangled in his hair.  Her mouth had fallen open, and she pulled in breathless gasps as he pressed his lips against her cheek. “I smell your scent on my clothes, in my fur, even when you are not near.” He used the claw of his thumb to remove the fine point from his index finger and tested it for sharp edges. He slid his claw, the smooth outer curve carefully fitted against her skin, between her lower lips.  She moaned, and her head fell back further, exposing the column of her neck.

She was wet for him. The thin honey of her desire seeped around his digit, coating his skin and making him long to bury himself inside her.  He bolstered his restraint, biting his own cheek – drawing blood to keep himself focused on his goal. He wanted Kagome to feel, to know, that she was more than a pawn. More than a weakling to be kidnapped and used as bait. She saved herself – she was not some helpless hime, destined to wring her hands and wait for another to decide her fate, determine her worth.  She would be the Lady of the Western Lands, mate of the Saidai Mao. He wanted her to know that she was desired, cherished. He pressed firmly, and his finger slipped inside her. Sesshomaru closed his eyes and for a moment did not breathe.

She was tight. Hot. Wet. Her body gripped him as if she never wanted to let him go. She was untried. Even if he had not already known she was a virgin, the way her walls seized around him – indecisive whether to push him out or pull him in – would have told him.  His cock jerked. His youki rose. Kagome moaned, “Sess-ho-mar-uuu.”

He breathed out, and when he inhaled again the taste of spices and magnolias was thick in the air.  Mindful of his claws, he pressed forward again, forcing her to sheath him up to his second knuckle.  He wet his thumb in her juices and applied pressure to the bud hidden between her legs. Kagome made a mewling, pleading sound, her breath coming faster, her legs shifting restlessly. Sesshomaru was distantly surprised he could hear her over the pounding of his own blood. His mouth left her ear to lick a path down her throat. He found her pulse, surging wildly under the skin at the joint of her neck and shoulder. He laved, allowing the slightly rough texture of his tongue to excite the sensitized flesh, arousing her further. She shuddered.

“I smell you, Kagome.” His voice had grown rough as he tested the edge of his control. He breathed against her and kissed her. His thumb circled slowly, building her to a climax that he knew she had never reached before.  She tossed her head, her inky hair dancing across mokomoko and tangling in his claws. “Magnolias.” He licked the sensitive spot on her neck again and pumped his finger slowly. “Cherry wood, freshly cut.” He pressed his lips to her skin, wet with his saliva, and ran the dull edge of his claw along her bundle of nerves. She cried out, soundlessly. “I breathe you in,” he paused, baring his fangs to graze against her, “and you may undo me.” He crooked his finger and stroked, surely, firmly. She seized around him, her walls fluttering and clenching.  Her eyes were closed and her mouth open on a scream that was lost to the power of her pleasure.

Sesshomaru pulled away, forcing himself to withdraw his hand and remain content to merely stroke her hip.  She was beautiful. Her skin glowed with a sheen of sweat; her cheeks and chest were flushed pink with blood. Her lips were swollen and red. His eyes fell on the bruise already forming under the skin of her neck and he was nearly overcome with fierce pride and hot lust.  Kagome turned into him, curling against his heat. She was struggling to open her eyes, and the scent of her exhaustion and shyness grew, muddling the fading spice of her desire.  The daiyoukai clenched his jaw, reminding himself again that he had done this for her. There would be time later for him.

“Shhhh,” he brushed her hair out of her eyes with his nose, nudging her for a kiss. “Relax, sleep. When you wake, we will be home.”  She fell asleep quickly, murmuring against his bare chest.  As Sesshomaru prepared them to leave, he cradled her closer to him. There would be time later for much more.

Chapter 25: Measuring Contest

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