Chapter 3: Stories and Sweet Dreams
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"Why the hell are you here, Sesshomaru?" The miko's accusatory tone and the obvious lack of affection caught the attention of everyone present and the majority were incredibly pleased with it, but one in particular was not so appreciative of the miko's bold words. 

"Insolent wretch! How dare you address My Lord, the mighty Lord Sesshomaru, son of the legendary Toga-sama of the Silver Inu, in such a disrespectful tone. I shall skin your hide for your discourtesy!" The shrill declaration by the Western Lord's retainer made everyone present flinch, especially the demons with their overly sensitive ears. Waving the Staff of Two Heads with his bulbous and sickly yellow eyes fixed on the offensive miko, Jaken charged forward. His trek, however, was stopped with a single command from his master. 

"Silence." The demon lord was busy analyzing the apparent changes in the miko who sat before him, and he didn't need the ear splitting voice of the kappa interrupting him.

Yes, there were changes within the onna. The most obvious was that her lack of affection for him was clear in both her scent and her demeanor. He noted immediately how her blue eyes were wary and looked at him with both anger and annoyance, a fact that he thought was presumptuous on her part but he digressed. 

The next thing he noticed, practically in relief, was that her scent was no longer overpowered by the rancid smell of the curse, but this led to a dangerous discovery. Hmm, delicious. Sesshomaru's beast purred as they were both assaulted with an intoxicating scent, a scent like none Sesshomaru had ever encountered. How can a dirty human smell so, so....

Heavenly. His beast supplied a content rumbling deep in his doggy chest as he pawed at his cage, trying to get closer. Sesshomaru hated it, but he had to agree, reluctantly. The base of her scent was a very relaxing combination of green tea and jasmine with a hint of something pure, like rain water. It reminded him of his lands and had none of the stench of death that all other mortals seemed to carry. He even enjoyed how her agitated state led to her baser scent to be slightly over powered by the spike of her reiki which sparked like fire.

As he was processing all this new information, Kagome just kept staring at him, waiting for an answer.

Why does he keep staring at me? Kagome couldn't help but feel creeped out by how the demon lord's golden, cat-like eyes remained fixed on her. Deciding this was getting her nowhere, she collected herself and stood with Shippo still firmly in her arms. Yes, Sesshomaru had calmed to a degree with the blood lust since he gave up on taking the Tessaiga, and he must not be all bad since he allowed the little ball of energy, Rin, to travel with him, but that doesn't mean she trusted the powerful youkai. 

"What are you staring at?" Kagome asked in irritation. His blatant staring was starting to piss her off. Hasn't anyone ever told him it's rude to stare? The silver inu's hardly there look of bewilderment vanished as his stony mask fell back into place at the rude way in which the miko was addressing him. 

"Hn," The inu gave his customary response before looking over the stiff posture and defensive stance of the miko—clear signs of her return to her normal character around him—before deciding her desire to protect the kit must have overpowered whatever curse the half-breed spider had cast. 

Not bothering to answer either of her questions, Sesshomaru turned away from Kagome with a dignified flick of his sleeve and began to walk away from the Inu-taichi. "Come, Rin. Jaken." 

Kagome watched with minor annoyance over his self-centered behavior, but she was used to it and fighting would only make him stay longer. Plus, he might just kill her for daring to insult one such as him

"Whatever." Kagome muttered under her breath before turning to see ecstatic smiles on all her friends faces. "What's gotten into you guys?" Kagome laughed at the ridiculously goofy smile Inuyasha wore and the relieved expressions of both Sango and Miroku as her kit just resumed nuzzling the side of her neck. For some reason, things felt right and, at the same time, it felt like things hadn't been right for quite some time. That was her last coherent thought Kagome had before a pain like no other shot threw her heart. 

"Ahh!" Kagome cried as she stumbled to her knees, holding Shippo close to keep him from falling out of her embrace. "What the hell is this?" Kagome sobbed as she once again felt an iron hot blade tear into her chest. Tears came like raging rivers down her cheeks and the pain actually made her start to feel dizzy. 

"Oh, no." Sango lamented as she crouched down to, once again, hold a trembling miko in her arms. 

"Oh no, indeed. It seems the curse has not been lifted." Miroku's violet eyes expressed just how disappointed the news made him. He should have known Naraku's curse wouldn't be so easily dealt with, if anyone should've known, it should've been him. 

"What... Curse?" Kagome panted out between clenched teeth. She had no idea what was going on. There is no reason her heart should be experiencing a pain even greater than when she decided to give up on Inuyasha. 

"Kagome..." Inuyasha's voice told of his desire to comfort her, but they all knew Inuyasha had no idea how to comfort a crying woman. He would gladly bear her pain if he could, but since that was not an option he just stood near her, watching dumbly. 

"Mama." The little kit patted his only parental figure on the arm as he tried to sooth her. His animal instincts were young and inexperienced but they were still screaming at him to do something for her as he moved to rub his cheek against hers, feeling the warm tears that had escaped her tightly closed eyes. 

"That assessment seems to be correct, Monk." The deep baritone that interrupted the helpless inu-taichi was followed by a shuddering gasp of relief from the miko. Glazed over eyes, still hazy from the lingering memory of the pain, once again met impenetrable gold. "To the displeasure of this Sesshomaru."

Kagome blinked the tears out of her eyes and took a good long look at the youkai who had just returned to them. She saw his silver hair flow like a river of silk down to the back of his knees, framing his imposing image in a halo of moonlit silver. Regal brows sat under an lavender crescent moon that proclaimed his proud heritage as a member of the House of the Moon. Yet, the moon was not the only demonic markings he bore as magenta stripes lined his steely gaze while two more graced each cheek. The visage of the inuyoukai screamed power and pride as he looked down his nose at the miko, but for once she saw more than that. She saw a noble aura that bordered on celestial in his pristine white robes only colored by his trademark honeycomb design that bled red on the mostly white silk. How could such a magnificent being exist? How could perfection be vivified to such a degree? 

Wait, stop right there missy! Kagome broke from her trance with a desperate shake of her head as an internal shout nearly blasted her eardrums from the inside out. "Ugh!" Kagome grunted as she pushed her hands against the sides of her head where it felt like two formidable foes were facing off. What's going on? 

Kagome screwed her eyes shut to delve deeper into her subconscious to examine what exactly was happening to her—a handy trick taught to her recently by Kaede. What she found was confusing. 

A foreign energy of deep purple and black swirled like an angry vortex against a pink barrier of her reiki—one her subconscious must have erected. The pain in her head must have been the physical manifestation of her subconscious' struggle to erect such a barrier because even now she could see her reiki working hard to maintain the...What in the world is that?

Kagome's mind spun as she tried to get a closer look, maybe even see if she could make a conscious effort to help her reiki expel the intruding energy, but she could already feel her mind shutting her out as her time was up. Since she was new to the whole "inner sight" thing, she could never manage it for long. With a snap, she was back in the clearing, surrounded by concerned friends and an ever unaffected demon lord. 

"Alright," Kagome grumbled as she used all her energy to stand back up on her own two feet. "Someone better start explaining what's going on here. Why is there some purple-black cloud of energy locked in my head, and what" Kagome pointed an accusatory finger over at the silently observing Sesshomaru. "does it have to do with him?" Kagome practically barked, making Sesshomaru raise a single brow (his only usual form of expression) and his beast to release a hearty chuckle. Now that is an Alpha Bitch if I have ever seen one.

"You mean to tell me I've been chasing that bastard's tail for the last five days thanks to a curse Naraku cast!" Kagome shouted in outrage. She couldn't believe it! The last thing she remembered was Mr. Demon Lord trying to liquify her. Again!

Oh how she was going to kill Naraku. No, not just kill, she was going to purify his soul to the ends of time right after she kicks his ass for playing with her heart—she's had enough of that already, thank you very much!

The group had decided it was better to set up camp before launching into the details of what had transpired the last five day, and were they sure happy they had. Kagome's aura was chaotic to say the least, but she was putting in a mighty fine effort to keep from exploding since she didn't want to blow away all their supplies. 

Sango and Miroku watched from their spot on a fallen log as Inuyasha sat high up on a tree limb with a quivering Shippo buried in his long white hair. No, they weren't really afraid of the little miko's outburst per se because they had trust she wouldn't let it go too far, but they had never seen her so livid before and decided it was best to be out of range. For safety reasons, of course. 

Sesshomaru's little pack had also set up camp a short distance from the Inu-taichi, and therefore could hear and see the raging of the upset miko. Jaken had squaked as a particularly painful whip of reiki lashed across his cheek when he began to insult the "emotional creature" known as Kagome, and now he also stood out of range, cowering behind the beefy legs of Ah Un. On top of the dragon, little Rin watched in awed fascination as Kagome threw her tantrum. Like the other Inu-taichi, Rin wasn't worried that Miko-sama would hurt her, so she had no fear in her eyes as, to her, the swirling storm of magenta light looked quite pretty and she enjoyed watching it. 

Sesshomaru, on the other hand, was at the end of his leash. "Stop this tantrum! You're behaving like a sniveling pup and you forget your place. You will control your emotions and your reiki and you WILL cease referring to this one as anything other than his proper title, Sesshomaru-sama!" 

Seshomaru had braved the storm of reiki so that he could be in the woman-child's face when he barked his command. This was completely unacceptable behavior and, if the others could not control her, he would make it known that such behavior would not be tolerated in his presence. 

All was quiet as Kagome's focus moved on from her anger at Naraku's curse to the narcissistic lord that stood looking down at her like she was the epitome of trash. 

"Sama?" Kagome's voice had returned to a normal volume, and all those around except Sesshomaru knew that was a dangerous sign."Sesshomaru-sama? You insist I call you that?" Kagome's eyes widened at the unbelievably arrogant being that stood before her. Well, you might have the looks of a god, buddy, but that doesn't make you one!

"Of course, it is as to be expected to distinguish between our vastly different standings. Now, learn your place, Miko." Sesshomaru's face remained its usual impenetrable mask, but Kagome could feel the utter contempt he held for humanity within those words, and that made the little miko even more furious. 

Sesshomaru then turned to walk away, thinking the miko would consider herself properly scolded and act accordingly, but Kagome proved that was simply not the case as she spoke a sentence few had ever dared to speak to the Western Lord, and fewer yet had lived to speak of it. 

"I refuse." The bold declaration was met with a heavy silence as the group waited to see how Sesshomaru would respond to their stubborn miko, knowing that Sesshomaru would have to experience the normal Kagome's headstrong nature sooner or later if he would be traveling with them, even if only temporarily. 

Eyes as cold as a frozen tundra turned on the disrespectful wench who had dared to openly go against him, and he was met with eyes of blue fire that barely held the woman's righteous indignation at bay.

"What did you say, human?" The words were spoken in something barely over a whisper, but for any normal person they were 100 times more bone-chilling than if Sesshomaru had been yelling—Kagome and him had that trait in common. 

"I. Refuse." Kagome's eyes flashed once again in her anger. "Sesshomaru, to refer to someone as 'sama' would signify a show of respect, but I am incapable of holding even a shred of respect for anyone who is incapable of showing me respect in return," Kagome paused to let her words sink in before continuing. "And, I also refuse to address you in such a manner simply out of fear. So if you wish to treat me like dirt, Sesshomaru, that is fine, go ahead, but don't expect me to revere you as some living deity either." Kagome finished her striking speech with as much fire as her soul could muster, and even her friends were a little shocked by her bravery (or foolishness). 

Not waiting for him to respond, Kagome hooked arms with Sango, gathered her bathing supplies, and marched in the direction Inuyasha had mentioned the hot spring was located in earlier, followed by a skipping kit who was very happy to have his strong willed mama back. Kagome didn't even flinch as she walked past the still glowering inu lord to reach out her hand and offer for Rin to come bathe with them, which she accepted happily, despite the tense atmosphere. 

The only answer to her little tirade, at least on the demon lord's side, was an arched brow and golden eyes that revealed glimpses of the two dueling emotions within him, fury over her brazen behavior and being impressed with her persistence to stand up to him— a feat few dared to do. Despite himself, he may even be leaning towards feeling impressed.

After a long relaxing soak in the hot springs, Kagome returned to camp with a sleepy slayer and two giggling children. Shippo had decided to ride Kagome's shoulder in deference to Rin, who was currently residing in his usual place, snuggled up in Kagome's arms. The two then began to laugh as the miko launched into a tale of two mischievous children, Hansel and Gretel, after she had compared Rin and Shippo to the two due to their lovable trouble-making natures. 

"And then, because the children had eaten all the candies and treats off the witch's house, they were as fat as wild boars and could no longer run away from the wicked witch. So the two siblings had to think fast and find a way to escape the witch's candy house before she came back and made them her pets. They tried everything to slim down before the witch returned. They jogged in place. They did jumping jacks. They did crunches. But nothing worked! The two then became frustrated and fought, like all siblings do, but after a particularly strong shove by Hansel, Gretel thought of a way to escape. You see, the two children were actually so fat that they could just roll down the hill. So as soon as the witch unlocked the door, both children launched at her, knocking her down and escaping back to their village where they both lived happily ever after!" 

Kagome finished her bed time story and watched as the two children clapped and happily exclaimed they'd like to eat so many sweets they could roll down a hill. Yeah, it wasn't the traditional Hansel and Gretel story, but she didn't want to emphasize children being eaten in a time period when it could actually happen. 

"Miko-sama?" Rin asked, in a sleepy yet somehow still lively voice. 

"Yes, dear?" Kagome looked over at the sweet child and wondered what could make her look so timid all the sudden. Shippo watched with a sly little smirk as he laid on his stomach with his feet in the air, ankles and arms crossed. 

"Shippo-chan says that you know what candy is, can you explain it to Rin?" Oh, the light bulb went off then. Meeting the overly innocent emerald eyes of her kit, Kagome knew what game he was playing. If he had asked for candy, Kagome would have said no, but if Rin asked what candy is, he knew she'd most likely give her some as she explained it. Clever boy. 

"Of course, sweetheart." Kagome smiled down at the little girl and brushed a lock of hair behind her ear. "Candy is just another term for sweets. They can come in all shapes and sizes, but some of the most popular are chocolate candies, sugar candies, and hard candies." Kagome began like a teacher would a lesson. "I have some in my bag," Kagome started as Shippo leaped up and moved in close to sit next to Rin, "But kids shouldn't have sweets so late at night, so you can see them now but no eating them till tomorrow." 

Kagome's tone held the authority of any mother figure and Shippo, who she was mainly looking at, only gave her a sheepish look before holding out his hands to see the pretty candies as well—Rin proceeded to copy him. Kagome rolled her eyes at how cute the two kids were, but she reached over for her bag anyways. She then let Rin hold the plastic jar of sugar candies she had. She had chocolate as well, but she knew she made the right decision when Rin raved about the pretty colors and flower designs on the small, rounded balls of sugar. 

"Yeah, they are pretty, but again, we can't eat them late at night. It will make your tummies hurt and you'll have bad dreams." Kagome said this as a warning, the little white lie being necessary to keep her kit's sneaky paws out of her bag later that night. "Now, it's time for bed!" 

With those words said, Shippo tried to escape, but Kagome snagged his foot before he could make it two feet. "Now where do you think you're going?" Kagome asked in an innocent voice, one that made Shippo shake. 

"But Mama, I wanna stay up a little longer! Miroku and Inuyasha aren't even back from bathing!" Shippo pouted as he had been pulled back into Kagome's lap as they sat on her sleeping bag. He didn't usually act so spoiled, but he was afraid that if he went to sleep now, he'd wake up to the unnatural, spell-bound Kagome. He wanted to be with her a little longer, but that thought didn't last long when he heard Kagome's next question. 

"Shippo. What time did I say it was?" There was no room for argument in Kagome's tone, and Shippo knew if he looked up he would see sparkling blue eyes and a threatening smile looking down at him, daring him to disobey. 

"Bed time." The kit answered with his shoulders practically to his ears with the pressure Kagome's alpha-like aura was exerting on his tiny frame. 

"Good." Kagome said, but this time with a genuine smile as she leaned down to kiss his forehead. Shippo then moved behind her to burrow into her open sleeping bag as Kagome turned to Rin. 

"You too, Rin-chan. Bed time, and I want no objections." Kagome's words were, again, firm, but the loving smile she wore made the little girl feel like they were spoken out of concern for her sake. Still, she felt a little sad. 

Head drooping and lip barely jutting out, Rin gave a, "Yes, Miko-sama," before turning to leave. She only made it a few steps before the miko called her name once again. Turning, she saw a brilliant smile on Kagome's face and her arms were spread wide. 

"I didn't get my goodnight hug, Rin-chan." That was all it took. Rin ran the few steps back and propelled herself into the miko's arms. This is what she wanted. Rin would never say so, but she wanted the warm miko's motherly affection. No, she would never complain about Sesshomaru-sama. He was the perfect protector, even if in her head she referred to him as Daddy, but he was a warrior nonetheless. He didn't have time to be so openly affectionate, even the young Rin knew this. However, that didn't mean she didn't feel a little tug on her heart when she saw Shippo interact with Miko-sama. Even tonight, she didn't want to leave the miko's side just yet, but by being called back for something as affectionate as a hug, Rin could now go to sleep with no regrets and that's just what she did.

Golden eyes watched the "normal" miko while reclined against a tree, one knee bent so his lone arm could rest upon it. The miko had returned from her evening bathing ritual in a much better mood, a fact all present were grateful for. 

He still couldn't believe such a tiny onna had the audacity to confront him in a manner that no one, demon or human, had the courage to-- other than his sire. 

Earlier he might have been impressed, but that was at the novelty of the situation, not the miko. That was clear because he knew there was nothing special about her except a slightly larger than average source of reiki. 

Really, the wench had wasted her entire night telling a silly fable to his ward and her kit. It was ridiculous in light of the situation she awoke to find herself in merely a few hours ago. It was only after Rin had been returned to him and her kit had fallen asleep that she bothered to go and discuss the situation with the monk. They debated for hours but the best they could come up with was that they would use the houshi's sutras during the night to reinforce her internal barrier's defenses, but in the morning she would have to awaken and do some deep meditation to have any real chance of warding off the curse's affects.

With that, they went to sleep, and Sesshomaru was left alone with his thoughts. Well, his thoughts and his beast, and the creature was being a nuisance more than usual with his inability to focus on anything besides the miko. 

She will make a good mother. Puts pups first. He observed with obvious delight. As if it matters to this one if she has such capabilities. Regardless, any that hail from her will be weak. She coddles them too much. Sesshomaru growled internally as he tried to focus back on the other miscellaneous business he had waiting for him back at the castle. This journey was taking far too long and it would be another week before they reach the Dragon Priestess' lair. Thinking of the paperwork that must be piling up left the Western Lord on the verge of a headache. His beast didn't help. 

Not weak. Strong. They will have her spirit as well as her immeasurable power. His beast argued with him, and Sesshomaru allowed himself to internally heave a sigh as he acquiesced to having this discussion. His beat obviously wasn't going to shut up. 

Immeasurable power, hm? Even if that is so, which this one seriously doubts, it will be wasted on the half-breed. His beast made a gruff sound in the back of its throat. 

She no longer desires the hanyou as she did before. You can tell by her scent. It was true. Kagome had made it pointedly clear to act nothing more than friendly with Inuyasha since she had come out of the curse's control. Even Sesshomaru had noticed that her scent did not seem to hold anything other than platonic feelings, but that didn't mean that he was happy his beast had noticed the same thing. Sesshomaru was starting to worry that his beast was paying too much attention to the little miko.

Regardless, her powers will either be wasted on a human, who will undoubtedly become corrupted like the rest of its kind despite its mother, or she will spawn a disgusting hanyou and the demon blood will dilute her reiki's influence. Either way, the child will be weak.

The beast barked from within his cage. His logical side was too damn closed-minded. That is not the only option!

Sesshomaru's brow twitched at the insistence in his beast's tone. What other option could there be? He could think of none. It was inevitable that the child would be either human or hanyou, and to him both equated to being weak. 

If the miko mates a powerful demon, considering her power, there is a chance she could birth full demon pups. The statement hung, suspended, in Sesshomaru's mind as he turned it over for thought. Sensing his other half's hesitance, the beast offered another tempting possibility for Sesshomaru to consider. Not only that, there is a chance that the pups would then be resistant to reiki, at least any weaker than her own. Who knows, maybe they will even be able to wield both youki and reiki. 

Sesshomaru didn't want to contemplate what his beast was saying, but even to one of such a logical nature as himself could see the reason behind his words. Unbidden, the picture of a tall and strong inu warrior with flowing silver hair much like his own stood within his mind, ready for battle. One of his hands glowed green, like Sesshomaru's own poisonous claws, but the other projected a bright, magenta light, a light that seemed oddly familiar. It wasn't until he noticed the piercing gaze of the young youkai that Sesshomaru was violently jerked back to reality. The eyes, they were the most striking crystal blue. 

Sesshomaru woke with a start. It seems he had fallen into a shallow slumber while talking to his beast. Even after a few moments, the image of the inuyoukai remained in his mind, as if it had been branded on the back of his eyelids. 

Frustrated with his beast for even implying such a thing, knowing it had something to do with the dream image, Sesshomaru roamed over the camp with his eyes. 

His small little pack was settled still, Rin sleeping close to him, her head resting on the tail of his mokomoko-sama. Jaken seemed to have been squashed under the belly of Ah Un, and had fallen asleep there when the beast most likely refused to move. Yes, his pack was fine. Was normal. It was the other group being so close that had him so on edge. Especially since only a few yards away, Sesshomaru knew a very troublesome existence was sleeping peacefully, waiting for her chance to annoy him with the coming sun.

"Wake, Miko." Sesshomaru's tone left no room for discussion as he not so gently nudged the side of the sleeping Kagome with his booted foot. Stirring, the miko turned on her opposite side and gave an annoyed little "hmph" before going back to bed. 

Having long lost his patience after a night of nothing but trouble, Sesshomaru leaned down to whisper in a threatening tone. "You will wake, Miko. Or this one shall take you and your kit and throw you in the nearest river." His threat had the intended effect as Kagome finally managed to muster up the energy to sit up and throw him a sleepy glare. 

"Why are you waking me up, Sesshomaru?" Kagome's voice was thick with sleep, but she kept it at a whisper since the rest of her friends were still sleeping. 

"This one heard of your plans for meditation and shall not risk your laziness allowing the curse's effects to once again surface. Come, this one shall monitor your progress." With that said, the proud inu lord moved to the edge of the camp and proceeded to disappear into the trees. 

Kagome debated ignoring the presumptuous demon in exchange for sleeping a little longer, but she knew he was right (and that his threat was very much real). Sighing, she didn't even have time to change out of her pajamas as Kagome had to jog to keep up with the fleeting figure she saw in the distance. If you're gonna wake me up, you could have at least waited. 

Grumbling to herself, the miko finally managed to catch up to her demon drill instructor, and even she could see the displeasure in his eyes. "What? I'm here, aren't I?" Kagome asked with her hands on her hips, the picture perfect definition of a hot mess.

Sesshomaru narrowed his eyes at the miko's disheveled appearance and improper choice in sleepwear. A mop of thick and wavy, blueish-black hair fell in disarray around her petite frame, falling just past mid back and serving as the only means of cover for otherwise revealing ensemble. A spaghetti strap top clung to her chest and abdomen, making her now fully developed figure clear for all to see. Her bottoms were no less indecent as they didn't even reach mid-thigh, leaving her shapely legs bare. However, unlike her top, the bottoms were of a loser material, but they still managed to showcase her womanly hips and her well rounded ass...

Woof. Was all his beast had to say as he appreciated the view the miko presented, but Sesshomaru was of the opinion her attire made her unseemly. If he wanted a whore, he'd go to a brothel.

Kagome waited for a response, but since she never got one she just sat down on the ground. She would admit to liking the spot Sesshomaru had found. She currently sat on the edge of the forest her friends were still sleeping with in, trees surrounding her back and a lazy river directly before her. The sounds of the early morning also helped ease her mind as she closed her eyes to begin her meditation. 

"Miko, there are things you should know of meditation." Sesshomaru began, only to notice the onna's eyes were already shut. Thinking the insufferable thing was trying to go back to sleep, Sesshomaru kneeled to roughly shake her by her shoulder. "Miko!" 

Kagome scrunched her eyes at the commanding tone, and opened them once again with a complaint already passing her lips. "What the hell, Sesshomaru...sama." 

With the abrupt shift in the Miko's tone and with him being crouched down to her eye level, Sesshomaru could practically see the miko's inner light begin to dim as the curse's effects take over. 

Big blue eyes went from glaring at him to glorifying him in a matter of seconds. A soft and loving smile took control of the miko's lips and a small voice called to him. "Sesshomaru-sama."

An hour later, the miko and Sesshomaru were still sitting near the river. Sesshomaru had decided to willingly engage the spell-bound miko for the first time in an attempt to jostle the normal miko back into existence. 

He had tried insulting her. Belittling humans. Threatening her friends. Everything, and still she remained spell-bound. The demon lord had no idea he would ever be wishing to see even the tiniest flash of the miko's fiery temper or a mere flare of her reiki, but for now that's all he wanted. 

He knew the miko, in her normal state of mind, could conjure a strong enough barrier to contain the curse's effects. He would admit she was strong enough for at least that much, but this other miko, this mindlessly obsessed miko, was worthless. Oh, she was willing to follow his commands without hesitation, a fact he should have enjoyed, but she had no will, no fire within her. Sesshomaru even found her more intolerable than the "normal" miko. 

"Come, Miko. Try to focus." Sesshomaru instructed for what felt like the 100th time. "Look inside yourself and find the foreign energy. Do you see it?"

Kagome pursed her lips as she sat at the foot of her tree, in the exact position her loved one had instructed her. "Hmmm, nope." Kagome giggled, and she popped the "p" in nope. "Why is this important Sesshomaru-sama?" Openly trusting eyes gazed at him, and Sesshomaru nearly gave in to his desire to heave an exasperated sigh.

"Because we must contain the curse. Now, again, Miko." Sesshomaru crossed his arms as he looked down at the infatuated Kagome. 

"What curse?" Kagome asked as her head tilted to the side in a very inu like manner and allowed her thick ebony waves to fall over her shoulder. Sesshomaru's eyebrow twitched. He would almost rather be talking to the half-breed... almost. 

"The curse that makes you believe you are in love with this Sesshomaru." Sesshomaru answered back in his typical monotone. He thought that, perhaps, making the situation clear, even the curse affected miko would be able to show some resistance. Oh boy, was he wrong. Kagome did show resistance, but not to the curse. 

"What do you mean, Sesshomaru-sama? I truly do love you!" Kagome's voice became desperate as she forgot one of the three rules and stood to throw herself into Sesshomaru's chest. He hadn't been expecting that and it most certainly was not welcome. 

"Away, onna!" Sesshomaru growled as he pushed Kagome towards the trees with a little too much force. "You know not of what you speak!" Sesshomaru was quickly losing his patience, and the poor girl didn't realize how far her next words would push that struggling inu off the edge of control. 

"I do! I do know. I love you, Sesshomaru-sama. I want to be by your side forever. I wish to be your mate!" Kagome had tears running down her face and she wiped them away with the back of her hands before risking a glance back at the man she believed herself to love. However, what stared back at her was no man, it was a beast. 

Sesshomaru glared at the little onna who stared at him with watery eyes of such open devotion and love that it made him uncomfortable. His beast was rilled up and practically at the surface due to the reckless words of the sobbing miko. Sesshomaru knew it wasn't really the miko's fault, it was the curse (even he knew that), but he couldn't let such words pass without punishment. Without even a second thought, Sesshomaru relinquished some of his hold over his beast. 

"Enough!" The great inu snarled. Moving with blinding speed, Sesshomaru had Kagome pinned to a tree in less than a second. His clawed hand reached up and cupped her face as the mighty demon lord leaned down to peer at her with eyes glowing red. The dominating act was done to show the girl her place, to prove to her that he was not some kind creature who would allow her incessant pestering to continue, but again Kagome showed no fear at the silver inu's murderous glare, the jagged marks that donned the sides of his face, or the deadly claws that were poised along the side of her face and neck, ready to crush her skull or allow his clawed thumb to gouge the skin of her throat. How can she still show no fear? Is it the spell? 

Sesshomaru's beast stirred ever more violently at the bitch's show of defiance as it demanded she bare her neck in submission to them, to her alpha. She's an alpha female. Subjugate her! His beast howled his desires to dominate the strong young woman before them, and Sesshomaru had to fight to keep the beast from fully taking over. She is not ours to teach. She is not a pack! Sesshomaru's lips pulled back in a snarl at the persistence of his beast. She is for now, and we are much better suited to be her alpha than the half-breed. Take her! 

Sesshomaru's retort for his beast at how unappealing the idea of taking the defiant miko was for him was interrupted by a gentle hand on his cheek. Startled at the sudden contact and cursing himself for getting distracted in his argument with his beast, Sesshomaru regained some composure as golden-red eyes locked back on Kagome. 

The miko was still staring at him, but her somewhat blank stare of mindless devotion had become something entirely different. As Kagome ran a tentative finger along the edge of the markings on Sesshomaru's cheeks, he saw a softening of her features as she looked somewhat in awe of him. 

"So soft," The miko breathed out in a distracted sigh as she became more daring and decided to cup his cheek and stroke the marks with her thumb. 

Sesshomaru had to grind his teeth in an effort to ward off the pleasurable shiver that wished to descend his spine at her gentle caress. He had never let anyone other than his father and mother touch his markings before, and even that had only occurred a select number of times while he was still a pup. 

He was also momentarily caught off guard by the change in the miko's scent. Instead of the sickeningly sweet scent she usually had when under the spell, it had become much more subtle. Instead of the suffocating smell of cheap perfume, he could now smell pleasant scents such as cool summer rain with hints of lavender and jasmine. It was a relaxing scent, one that could even calm the heart, if he had one. 

Coming out of his stupor and overlooking what those rising scents could mean, Sesshomaru grabbed the offending appendage and pinned it over the miko's head along with her other arm and released a deafening snarly in her face.

Kagome blinked slowly for a second before a confused whisper of his name answered him, "Sesshomaru..."

"Well wench, if you wish to be this one's bitch, I will reluctantly grant you a taste of what it's like to be with a ruthless animal like one such as this Sesshomaru. Maybe, after you've been taught what its like to be ravaged like a true bitch, you will learn how utterly incompetent and unacceptable you are for fulfilling such a role. If not, at least you will learn your place and never again oppose this one's place as alpha." Sesshomaru's menacing promise was followed by him descending on Kagome's parted lips, stopping whatever it was she was about to say.