Feeling' Clucky by Sereia

Feeling' Clucky

"Why do we have these again?"

Kagome chuckled as she threw the last hand of seed into the pen, a flurry of feathers and angry pecking descending upon the food source.

"I think they're cute."

Kagura scoffed, rolling her shoulders in disgust. "You're the only one who thinks so."

A soft smile touched Kagome's lips. "Not the only one."

The other woman pulled off her apron, hanging it next to the door to the outside enclosure.

"Yeah, right. Like anyone else would actually enjoy being surrounded by a mob of angry chickens." Kagura didn't wait for a response, throwing the only set of keys in Kagome's direction before waving goodbye and heading inside to finish her paperwork for the day.

Kagome sighed, dusting off the keys from where they'd fallen on the ground, then turned back to the hoard of poultry. "Don't worry, guys. I'm sure Rin will be by today. And if you're good, I'll even let you play in the field for a bit, okay?"

The chickens clucked their indifference, puttering along the ground as she moved to the next pen, two older foxes hissing at her.

"Hey! I'm not even coming in there today! I just wanted to see how Shippou is doing!"

The pair curled protectively around their new offspring, not taking their eyes off her, and Kagome glared at them.

"See if I let Rin play with you today," she grumbled, heading back inside. The Shikon Shelter had somehow gained a reputation for housing all the less typical and more dangerous animals among all the shelters in the city. They housed chickens, foxes, raccoons, and even skunks now and then, giving them time to heal and recuperate before being released back into the wild.

Kagura, the only other daytime employee, complained about it on a regular basis, constantly wishing for something 'normal' like a cat or dog, but those somehow always ended up in the other shelters. Kagome didn't mind so much; sure, a lot of them were surly and overprotective of their personal space—she couldn't count the number of times she'd gone home with bite marks—but if it weren't for them, she never would've met—

The front door chimed, a petite brunette with missing front teeth bouncing across the floor.

"Rin!" Kagome caught the girl as she jumped towards her, spinning her around. "I knew you'd be coming today!"

"Can I go see them?" Rin asked, cutting right to the chase.

Kagome chuckled as she put the girl down. "Give the chickens a few minutes to finish their lunch, and then you can go in. I'm sure Shippou would like to see you, though."

Rin clapped in excitement, then ran out the back door, greeting all the animals by name. The names she, herself, had given them.

"You always spoil her so."

Kagome flushed but greeted Rin's grandmother with a smile and a slight bow. "Afternoon, Inukimi-san. How has your day been?"

The shelter should've been the last place someone like Inukimi Taisho ever set foot in, but the stylish woman, clad in a lush, plum business suit today, brought her granddaughter by almost every other day.

"It is always a good day when Rin is so energetic."

Smiling, Kagome nodded in agreement, then held the door open for the woman before they both followed Rin towards the chicken coop.

"Thank you for always bringing her here. The animals always love seeing her." She opened the gate, Rin quickly rushing inside. The chickens swarmed her, pecking playfully at her feet before chasing her around the pen.

"It is always her first request."

Kagome couldn't help but laugh—what other eight-year-old actually wanted to play with recovering animals? Rin's father was always busy with his job, though Kagome still hadn't figured out what he did for a living, but instead of placing Rin in an afterschool program, she spent the rest of her afternoon with her paternal grandmother.

And loved every minute of it.

"How did the fundraiser go?"

Some of the happiness drained out of her, a sigh escaping her lips. "Not as well as expected. The food expenses alone are putting us in the red, especially with the new addition to the fox family."

"I am sorry to hear that. If we had only been able to attend—"

"You've done enough, Inukimi-san. We can't rely on one person to—" Kagome shook her head, "—anyway, bringing Rin here does more than any dollar amount could ever do."

"But you said you would have to close if—"

"Close? You can't close Kagome! Where would all the animals live?" Rin grabbed onto the inside of the metal fence, looking up at her with worried brown eyes.

Heart clenching, Kagome gave her head a reassuring pat. "Don't worry, Rin. They'll always be safe with people like you taking care of them."

"Are you sure?" Rin asked, biting her lip.

"Of course! Now, why don't we see the raccoons? You can play hide and seek with Hachie."

The distraction worked, a smile breaking out onto the girl's face.

Rin spent the next two hours helping Kagome feed and clean the animals, the two chatting about nothing and everything, while Inukimi watched fondly from the safety of each gate. Partly to give the two space, but also because there was no way she was setting foot into a place where animals rolled around in their own feces.

She shuddered at the very thought of having to wash any amount of it from her high-end stilettoes.

They moved inside, and Rin requested her grandmother's phone to show the shelter owner photos from her recent day of cooking with her father. The girl feigned innocence, but they both knew that half the photos she took were for Kagome's benefit.

Her son had never seen fit to bring Rin here himself, but Rin was more than willing to share things about her life with Kagome. Her stories about the headstrong but caring patriarch had piqued Kagome's interest from the beginning, but the woman had fallen head over heels when she'd laid eyes on the first picture Rin had shown her.

And Rin was fully aware of it.

Inukimi sighed; the number of times her son had complained about Rin insisting he visit the shelter was only second to the number of times Rin had done so. The girl was convinced her father would have the same reaction as Kagome if only she could get them together.

And Inukimi couldn't agree more. The child was immensely astute and made a point of capturing candid photos of her father in order to further her matchmaking scheme.

"Oh, Kagome, look at this one! I took a video of Papa cooking, and look! He's in the apron I bought him for Christmas!"

It was only a few seconds long, but it was enough. Kagome had never heard him speak before, and her reaction was priceless. Inukimi hid her smirk behind her ornate fan.

The folder Kagome had been holding fell to the floor, forgotten as she stared at the phone, the low timbre of his voice playing on repeat. Inukimi watched the muscles in the woman's throat working slowly as she took in the images of a man she'd never met in a frog-covered apron making pancakes.

You have been picking up on your father's boardroom tactics, little one.

Rin's gaze was knowing as she stared at Kagome, not bothering to stop the video. The loop played another seven times before Inukimi cleared her throat.

"Rin, it is time to leave. Your father will be home soon."

Kagome jerked, her cheeks turning a deep scarlet as she collected the folder from the floor.

After her granddaughter had run back for a second 'last hug', Inukimi escorted her out of the shelter.

"Grannie, if the shelter closes, where will the animals go?"

Apparently, Kagome's distraction had not been enough to alleviate the girl's worries.

"I am not sure, little one. I am not familiar with the intricacies of animal rehabilitation."

A few more steps were taken before Rin spoke again. "And what about Kagome?"

"It is likely that she would have to find a new place of employment."

"So I wouldn't be able to see her?"

Inukimi squeezed her hand. "We would find a way to visit her, but it is unlikely it would be as often."

Rin's steps slowed as she processed all the information, her young mind trying to find a solution. Inukimi gave her a secretive smile.

"Perhaps you should talk to your father, little one. I am sure you would be able to convince him to help out those pitiful animals."

Contemplative brown eyes widened before Rin wrapped her arms around her grandmother, her toothless grin bright and enchanting.

"Grannie, you're a genius!"

"Of course I am. Now come, we shall go over the details, so your father has no choice but to accept."

"Mother, I do not have time for this."

Inukimi smacked the back of his head with her fan. "You should at least be aware of where your money goes."

"Rin sees it almost daily. And then tells me about it when I get home. I am quite aware of how my money will be spent here."

"Then you can at least let the young woman who runs the establishment thank you for your generosity."


 "Mother," Sesshoumaru sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. "The whole point of an anonymous donor is so they do not know where the money comes from."

Inukimi smirked. "Where is the fun in that?"

Amber eyes narrowed. "The fun is in not having to deal with another female fawning over me in an attempt to gain favour—monetary or otherwise."

She ducked into the shelter, Sesshoumaru holding the door open for her. "If you truly believe Kagome is capable of that kind of behaviour, then Rin needs to work on her storytelling skills."

Sesshoumaru rolled his eyes, looking around for his daughter. His mother motioned to another door, and they followed Rin's excited chatter out into the back enclosure, the little girl once again running around inside the chicken pen.

A frown creased his features. "I did not think she was serious about chasing chickens."

"Have you ever known her to lie?" Inukimi asked. "Embellish, perhaps, but all children do that. Kagome's views of honesty align with yours quite nicely."

It was at that moment that Rin noticed they'd arrived and waved enthusiastically before scurrying out of the pen. The woman with her yelled something, managing to close the gate before any of the chickens could get out.

"Papa! You finally came!"

"You insisted I do."

Rin pouted and crossed her arms. "I've been insisting for months!"

"You are spoiled enough, Rin. It is unhealthy to—"

"Rin! What have I told you about taking off like that? You left the gate wide open!"

Rin and Sesshoumaru both jerked at the tone of her voice; Rin bowing her head in shame, Sesshoumaru's curiosity immediately piquing.

He'd meant what he said about Rin being spoiled, not only by himself and his mother, but also anyone trying to curry favour with his company. Females were constantly trying to get his attention by praising his daughter—they thought she was an easy target and that by pampering her, they'd seem nurturing and worth a second look.

It always had the opposite effect.

Regardless of her age, Rin needed to be held accountable for her actions. It was something he'd been trying to teach her since he'd first adopted her. He made sure to provide a supportive and loving atmosphere, but he didn't want her coddled to the point of feeling entitled.

The fact that this woman was actually scolding her was intriguing.

"I'm sorry, Kagome. I was just excited because—"

Sesshoumaru expected the woman to wave it off, but instead, her hands went to her hips, sapphire eyes hardening.

"You're allowed to be excited, but you still have to think before you act. Remember what happened the last time you forgot to close the gate?"

He saw his daughter wince. "One of them got into the skunk pen."

"And we spent three days washing the stink out, didn't we?"

A pale eyebrow rose—his daughter had failed to mention anything ever going wrong during her visits.

"I'm really sorry, Kagome. I'll try harder to remember that next time," Rin bowed her head, and Sesshoumaru's chest swelled with pride. Perhaps he was doing a better job at raising her than he thought.

"See that you do. Actions have consequences, okay?"

"I know." Rin peeked at him, then looked back at the woman, practically bouncing on the tips of her feet. "Can I be excited now?"

The woman laughed, the sound melodic and carefree. He was instantly entranced.

"Of course. Do you want to—"

"Papa came today!"

Sesshoumaru watched her intently, preparing himself for the fawning and overexuberance of false niceties, but it never came. The woman's body froze, blue eyes widening before her head slowly turned towards him.

She hadn't even realized he was here.

How humbling.

The expression on her face was a mixture of shock, awe, and fear. Sesshoumaru's curiosity increased when a dark blush broke out onto her cheeks, the woman seeming to hyperventilate as she looked at Rin and his mother in panic.

"But—why? T-There's no—ummm… Why?"

Rin grabbed onto her arm, giving her a broad smile. "It's okay, Kagome. He wants to see the chickens too!"

Sesshoumaru gave an indignant snort, earning him another smack from his mother's fan. Rin decided to ignore it, grabbing his arm as well and leading them towards the various pens, trying to pull the woman into conversations about the animals and the care they received.

"Rin, I'm sure your father doesn't care about—"

"Of course he does! Here, you tell him about how Shippou is doing, and Grannie and I will get the supplies for Hachie's bath."

"No, wait—"

But Rin was already running back towards the main building, leaving the woman to stammer, eyes darting between him and the ground. Sighing, Sesshoumaru held out his hand, trying to alleviate some of the tension.

"I apologize for my daughter's actions; she is very energetic. I am Sesshoumaru Taisho."

"I know."

He raised an eyebrow, a smirk tugging at the corner of his mouth as she squeaked, taking his hand and shaking it in a jerky motion.

"M-Meaning Rin has told me all about you. She loves you a lot—of course she does, why wouldn't she?" She took a deep breath and gave him a tight smile at him. "I'm Kagome Higurashi."

"So I gathered."

Her blush returned, but her hand stayed in his.

Curiouser and curiouser.

"Rin spends a lot of time here."

Higurashi nodded, her smile widening. "I love having her here! The animals love her, and she's so sweet with them. Most of the ones we have here aren't the 'I want to take them as a pet' type, but she treats them like they are."

"She has always been the type to befriend the downtrodden."

"Does she get that from you?"

Sesshoumaru almost laughed. Higurashi's words seemed to register at the same time she noticed their hands were still connected. She stumbled backwards and would have ended up on the ground if Sesshoumaru's hand hadn't tightened around hers to keep her upright.

"Are you always this clumsy?"

His comment seemed to ignite a spark in her, and she yanked her hand away. "No! I mean, no. It's just… You make me nervous."

He would've enjoyed her candidness if not for the meaning behind it. Being the CEO of a well-known company had its advantages, many of which he enjoyed, but it also meant a lot of false pretences, greedy solicitation, or being generally overwhelmed due to his annual income. It seemed Higurashi fell into the last category.

Steeling himself, he tore his gaze from her, pushing away his growing interest. "You need not feel that way. Rin's request to save the shelter was a just one and—"

"What does that have to do with it?"

Her confusion was genuine and caused his brow to furrow. "The donation to save the shelter—"

"Oh! Did Rin tell you about that? Isn't it wonderful? We're going to be able to get some new medical equipment for the animals," she said, a brilliant smile lighting up her face.

Sesshoumaru tried not to notice how dazzling it made her.

"I am aware. The donation came from my company."

Her happiness was overcome with shock and excitement. "It did? Do you know the owner? I'd love to thank them personally!"

He couldn't stop his mouth from falling open. Sesshoumaru once again felt humbled; had he become so used to people throwing themselves at his feet that he now expected it? Shame heated the back of his neck, and he ran a hand through his hair to cover it up.

"I will pass on the message."

"Thank you."

She flashed him a soft smile, holding his gaze for a long moment before clearing her throat and motioning to the other pens. "Did you want to see the other animals?"

Sesshoumaru inclined his head, and she led him to the next pen, confidence lifting her chin and energizing her hands as she explained what was ailing each creature.

He quickly found himself enthralled.


Rin giggled, clasping tightly at her grandmother's hand every time Kagome smiled at her father.

"They're getting along so well!"

"Indeed. The fact that he did not dismiss her within the first few minutes is impressive."

"Do you think he'll ask her out?"

Her grandmother smirked. "It is unlikely. You will have to convince him to do so."

"I can do that! Kagome is so wonderful, and she likes Papa a lot."

In the distance, Kagome laughed at something they couldn't hear, the sound softening the expression on her father's face. The pair was standing a lot closer than they had before.

Rin grinned, already making plans.



Voting for the Feudal Connection is now open! "The Sweetest Sounds" has been nominated for Best Serial and "Behind Closed Doors" has been nominated for Best Alternate Universe/Reality and Best Canon Divergence so please take some time to vote. There's so much great art and stories nominated for this quarter!

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