Hide and Seek by Sereia

Chapter 1

Magical Monthly Prompts (August 2022): Isolation, Protection from nightmares, Poppy (calmness, luxury), Gladiolus (strength of character), "Just breathe."


It started as happenstance, a place she'd taken shelter from during a sudden storm. The rain never bothered her, but the lightning flashing across the sky had made her wary, and she'd been forced into the nearest cave.

Or what she'd assumed was a cave.

Kagome had ventured a little further in and had realized that the space actually belonged to someone. There had been a small firepit, as well as a basket of fruit, proving that the owner had only recently vacated the premises.

The lush pile of furs in the back had her settling in for the night instead of waiting at the mouth of the cave. She'd been on her way back to the village after disposing of a nasty worm youkai poisoning the villagers' soil and had planned on collapsing on her futon as soon as she made it inside her hut.

The furs had been so inviting, the scent of earth and pine lulling her into a deep, restful sleep as soon as she'd laid down. She'd expected to be jarred awake by the den's owner, but as morning dawned bright and clear, there had been no indication of anyone but herself being there during the night.

And so, she'd left, noting where the cave was, but assuming she'd never be back.


It became her secret getaway—a place she could sneak off to when the din of the village became too much. She loved her friends, loved her role as the village healer, but sometimes the constant knocking at her door became too much.

She would like to know who the den belonged to, though.

Even after a month, she hadn't come across anyone. The basket of fruit was always fully stocked, and she'd given into the luscious scent of peaches and fresh citrus from the mandarins, using the peels as a way to keep her laundry fresh.

She thought about leaving a note, but on the off chance her presence was unwelcome, Kagome didn't want to lose out on her weekly excursions. She did find it strange that she came here as often as she did but never even crossed paths with the owner.

She didn't even know if they were youkai, as no trail of youki, or otherwise, was ever left behind, leaving her to wonder if they, too, used it as an escape.


The scent had returned.

Sesshoumaru sucked in large gulps as he settled down on the furs, tension leaking out of his body as the mysterious smell invaded his senses.

He had various dens, some much more luxurious than this one, but the sweet scent of honeyed citrus only appeared in this particular one and was a balm to his wearied soul.

Most youkai survived on less sleep than hanyou, and far less than humans, but they still found rest after a few days. Sesshoumaru usually went weeks without it, but it was by no means due to choice.

Every time he closed his eyes, the images of those close to him who had nearly fallen prey to his enemies flashed through his mind, plaguing him with nightmares that even he could not fight.

Rin in the underworld.

Kohaku captured by Magatsuhi.

The miko unconscious inside Naraku.

He was the Lord of the West, a daiyoukai by birth, and yet even with his immense power, Sesshoumaru had been too late to help any of them. And the look of betrayal on their faces every time he closed his eyes was too much.

And then he'd returned here.

He'd been caught in a storm and had only planned on waiting inside long enough to dry off, but the mysterious fragrance had lured him further in, calming his disquiet with every step, until he'd all but collapsed on the bed of furs.

He'd slept an entire day before rousing, his mind clear of wraiths and burning guilt.

Sesshoumaru returned every night, the scent slowly fading until he wasn't sure if it was still there or just this memory playing tricks on his battered psyche. Perhaps the peaceful sleep itself had been a hallucination, a figment of his imagination brought on by extreme fatigue.

And then the scent returned.

It slid over the walls, surrounding the basket of fruit he kept for emergencies, but was most potent on the furs, and he was chagrined to admit that he'd rolled around on them, coating himself in the soothing scent before succumbing to slumber once more.

He needed to find the owner.


Kagome ducked into the cave, breathing heavily as she adjusted the strap of her backpack. How it had lasted so long after her return to the feudal era was beyond her, but she was grateful, nonetheless.

Sango suddenly going into labour had put a dent in her weekly routine, and Kagome hadn't been able to get away for nearly three weeks. All things considered, the first two pregnancies had been fairly consistent, but this last one left them all shaken. The baby had shifted two weeks before its due date, leaving Sango to try and deliver it breech.

No matter how much Kagome prodded, the baby wouldn't budge, and even Sango had started to tire, giving her no choice but to yank the baby out by its feet. Sango had torn a little more than usual, even with it being her third birth, and had lost a lot of blood.

Inuyasha had been a wreck.

Kagome had eventually thrown him out, tired of his constant questions and incessant badgering, going so far as to raise a barrier around the hut so he couldn't get back in. Once the baby had been born, and she was sure both he and Sango were safe, she'd finally let him back in—but not before giving him an earful about how hard his mate had fought for their son.

He'd given her a panicked look, ears flat against his head as he'd asked if they were alright, hands trembling around the hilt of Tessaiga. She'd taken pity on him, giving him a reassuring pat on the shoulder before reminding him that Sango was tougher than him and to go apologize for being an ass.

She'd originally planned on finding a spring first, to wash the sweat and grit from her skin, but the cave had called to her, so she'd grabbed her pack and dashed out of the village, intent on collapsing on the bed of furs.

The hope that the rain would hold off until she got there was short-lived, dousing her in a heavy deluge before she'd made it inside the mouth of the cave.

"So much for needing a bath," she grumbled, squeezing water out of her hair. Sighing, she dropped her pack on the floor, tearing into a mandarin as she trudged towards the bed of furs. She'd bathe later; right now, she just wanted to—

A flare of youki had her turning towards the cave's entrance, a piece of mandarin stuck between her teeth. She felt like she'd been caught with her hand in the cookie jar, and she swallowed quickly, barely able to stop the downward motion of dropping onto the furs.

Sesshoumaru was just as drenched as she was, though perhaps it was more so, considering how the water pooled around his feet. Silver hair was plastered to his face but didn't hide the feral gleam in his eyes as he stared at her.

"Ummm… Hello," she said, easing away from the furs. "Did you get caught by the rain too? Or—" Kagome blanched, looking around the cave. "Does this place belong to you?"

There was a slight incline to his head, and she cursed under her breath. Trust her to find the den of the one youkai who'd actively tried to kill her. "I'm sorry, I'll leave. I never realized it was yours."

"This is not the first time you have been here."

She winced—it wasn't a question. "I found it a few months back but never came across anyone. Is it supposed to be a secret? I never felt your aura here—"

"It has been 23 days since your last visit."

Another statement. "Sango was having problems with her latest pregnancy. She just gave birth a few hours ago." She wasn't sure if Sesshoumaru was even interested in his new nephew. The brothers had made peace with each other, but the daiyoukai never went out of his way to see Inuyasha during his visits with Rin.

"Look, I'm sorry for intruding. Like I said, I didn't know this place was yours. I'll just grab my stuff and—"

"You will not leave." There was a hard edge to his voice, one that had her instantly on alert.

"You can't tell me what to do—" She never saw him move, only felt the weight of him as they tumbled onto the pile of furs, deadly claws brushing the back of her neck as he buried his face in her hair. The wind was knocked out of her, leaving her gasping and disoriented as she stared at the ceiling.

"What the—"

"Do not leave."

Kagome jerked at the desperation in his voice and suddenly realized the trembling of his body had nothing to do with the dampness of his clothes. She attempted to shift into a more comfortable position, but his grip only tightened, her own heart twisting in turn.

What had happened to the stoic daiyoukai who left even the bravest of soldiers quaking in their boots?

Resigning herself for a fitful sleep, she wrapped her arms around him, drawing calming circles on his back. "Just breathe," she whispered. "You're safe."

He seemed to shudder in relief, tension slowly leaving him as he succumbed to slumber. Kagome continued to whisper reassurances to him even as he slept, eyes filled with concern until the gnawing fatigue claimed her as well.


He woke several times in the next few days, his eyes glassy each time he reached for her. And she'd been there every time, always within an arm's length, if he wasn't already curled around her.

"You're not so bad," she mused aloud, running her fingers through his hair, his head in her lap, "when you're not threatening anyone." She felt his chest expand and leaned back, wondering if he'd wake fully this time. His arms encircled her waist, his face nuzzling her stomach as he took another long drag.

Assuming it was another false alarm, Kagome continued with her ministrations, brushing the tips of his ears as her fingers slid through his hair. He froze, the air turning cold around them as he slowly sat up, eyes boring into hers.

She swallowed thickly, giving him a small smile. "Good morning." She watched as his mask slid into place, heart clenching as she grabbed his face, startling them both. "Don't… Don't do that. You were in trouble, and I'm here to help. You can trust me."

He regarded her for a moment, eyes half-lidded, before he leaned forward, nose sliding along her clavicle up to her ear. Kagome shivered but remained where she was. "Do you have insomnia?"

"No. When I stay awake, it is by choice."

"Why would you choose to stay awake?" He clearly had no qualms about personal space, though that might've been an inuyoukai trait in general. Or perhaps he just needed sleep that much that he—she pulled back for a moment, gold meeting sapphire. "Nightmares."

His eyes narrowed, fangs bared, and he would've pulled away completely if not for the firm grip of her arms around his neck. "Release me," he growled.

"No way!" she replied, forcing him back down onto the furs. "You've spent almost three days snuggling me—I get to ask questions."

Sesshoumaru sneered at her, opening his mouth to likely blast her with a retort before his eyes widened, gazing towards the mouth of the cave. "It has been that long?"

Kagome nodded but didn't release him, not taking any chances. "Do you remember coming here?" He gave her a single nod, refusing to meet her gaze. "You knew I'd been here before, that it had been a while since—"

"I did not know it was you," he stated. "Only that someone had entered the den on a regular basis."

"But you still let me come back," she pushed. "The basket of fruit was always full when I got here."

"I had—" The muscles in his jaw clenched, and he tried to pull away again, sighing in resignation when her grip on his neck tightened. "Your scent is soothing."

"My scent? Has… Has me being here been helping you sleep?" It seemed too strange to be true. She knew how vital scent was to inuyoukai, but if Sesshoumaru had been suffering from nightmares—


"Why didn't you tell me?" He raised an eyebrow at her. "Right, didn't know it was me, got it. But now you do, so…" She worried her bottom lip. "Don't push me away."

He leaned back against the wall, resting his arm across one bent knee as she finally relinquished her hold on him. "It is not an easy fix, miko. The nightmares are…" He didn't finish, and she didn't press.

"I didn't expect it to be. But it seems silly for me to be here only once a week when you need it more often than that."

Golden eyes slid sideways. "You would do this?"

Kagome shrugged, feigning a nonchalance she didn't feel. "You need help. And it seems like a simple enough fix. It's not like I do anything at night anyway. I sleep just like everyone else in the village." It wasn't like her skin tingled everywhere he'd touched her. Not at all.

"Indeed." The tension that had made its way back into his frame finally lessened as he grabbed her, pulling her back flush with his chest, his forehead resting on her shoulder.

Taking a deep breath to calm her stuttering heartbeat, she leaned against him. "Still tired?"

"No." It was the only answer he gave and one that had heat climbing up the back of her neck and into her cheeks.

Oh, well, she sighed. It's not like this is a permanent thing, right?


INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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