Warnings (and stuff): This is going to be a pretty typical fic for me. Which means that there's gonna be a lot of blood, gore, angst, death, and some squicky scenes just for fun. I'm terrible at writing romance, so if you are expecting some sappy little love scenes, too bad! If you like a huge helping of angst then you're in the right place. *evil grin*
I'd also like to point out that I've seen a total of five eps of Inu-Yasha. (The first one I caught was the establishment of 'sit' and I was hooked.) Most of what I know about the characters is from what I've seen on fansites or fics. I'm trying my best to keep the characters in character, but they are going to be a little bit different. So if anyone is too off, could you let me know, and I'll try to fix it. As for events, this is a huge AU, cuz I'm really not sure about the timeline of things.
As for Kagome: she's not too bad in this chapter, but eventually, some of you may see her as just plain evil. I like to think of it as proactive, but … *shrugs* In this fic, she's actually got some brains. (I swear, when she asked Inu-Yasha if he would protect her forever after he gets Tetsusaiga, I thought I was gonna ralph.)
Two more things. Obviously, Inu-Yasha chose Kikyo over Kagome, and I'm gonna explain the specific circumstances of that later on. Just wanted to clear that up before hand. Also, if you want me to e-mail you when I update this, then let me know. I don't mind looking up your addy if you're signed in, but if you aren't then please leave it for me.
Thanks for listening to me ramble, and please, please review. I really want to know what you think! ~Landlady
Disclaimer: Inu-Yasha belongs to Rumiko Takahashi and some other people. Although I did manage to get Fluffy to stay for a while … he's a sucker for dog treats.
Chapter 1: Blood Oaths and Squashed Toad
She had trekked nearly all the way across the island of Japan, though it felt as though she had been twice that far. She had been attacked by demons, humans, and wild animals, and nearly killed more than once. It had been embarrassingly easy to get past the guards at the gate. But now, this, this toad thought he could stop her from seeing the person that she had risked so much to see.
Kagome was not amused.
Directing her glare downwards at the slimy servant she asked with the most menacing voice that she could muster, "What did you say?" Adding to the fact that she looked half-dead and the cheery shine in her eyes had been replaced with an emotionless shield which betrayed a glimmer of anger bubbling under the surface, it was enough to make even Jaken think twice before arguing with her.
Unfortunately – for the toad demon – he wasn't smart enough to take the warning. "I said," he began, drawing himself up to his full two and a half feet, "Sesshoumaru-sama has better things to do that to grant an audience with the likes of you."
Kagome growled, and bent over to stick her face into the green one, making Jaken's eyes bulge out even more than she had thought possible. "You listen to me you little worm. If you don't want to end up a puddle of goo, you better go to your master and tell him that I want to see him right now."
It took Jaken a little bit longer this time to recover, but he did, straightening again, and preparing to tell the girl off again, when a giggle from behind cut him short. He turned with a glare, not wholly surprised to see the girl-child Rin standing behind him. She giggled again, waving at Kagome.
Kagome smiled back, a flat smile, as if it was an effort to do so, and straightened, walking around Jaken as though he was nothing more than a chair to greet the girl. "Hi, Rin. How are you doing?"
"Rin is good, Kagome-san. Sesshoumaru-sama takes good care of Rin."
"Good, good. Hey Rin, why don't we go find Sesshoumaru-sama?" Rin grinned widely and nodded so enthusiastically that Jaken was sure that her head would come off.
"Hold on a minute," the toad demon began, but Kagome and Rin scampered off before he could get another word out. Not waiting to even see which way they went, he scurried off himself to go warn his master.
Sesshoumaru, the Lord of the Western Lands, watched as his half-brother's wench entered his study, led by his Rin. She stopped as soon as her eyes fell on his still form, grabbing Rin's shoulder, stopping the girl as well. Without taking her eyes off of him, Kagome rested both hands on the child's shoulders, keeping Rin in front of her.
"Very brave of you," Sesshoumaru noted disinterestedly, "using the girl as a shield."
Something flashed in the wench's eyes and she turned the girl slightly, "Hey Rin, why don't you go tell toady that I said thanks for all his help." The girl looked from Kagome to Sesshoumaru and dashed out of the room without a protest. When Kagome looked up again, Sesshoumaru understood the reason for Rin's unusual behavior.
"I had to get in here somehow, without being killed."
Sesshoumaru smirked, the girl was smart, no doubt about that. "What do you want?"
Without warning, her cool façade fell as she became uncertain. It was as if she had planned her meeting with him only up to this point and was now unsure of what to do. Taking a deep breath, she gathered her courage and looked him in the eyes and plunged forward, "I want to talk to you."
"We are talking," Sesshoumaru reminded her, smirking at her blush. He rose from his seat and walked over to her, leaning down so that their noses were inches apart. He was enjoying the waves of fear that radiated off of her, despite the fact that she smelled of old blood and filth. "So talk."
Kagome turned around quickly, clenching her fist, before she turned back, looking him in the eyes this time. "What I really want is to go home. But, I made a promise to gather the Shikon shards first. And I can't do it alone, hell, I nearly got killed about six times on the way here, and I wasn't even carrying any shards with me. And Inu…" she trailed off for a moment, loosing her momentum and staring off into space.
"What about my idiot half-brother?" Sesshoumaru asked after a moment, his patience wearing thin.
The girl blinked, coming back to reality. "I can't hunt the shards with Inu-Yasha anymore," she continued flatly suddenly perfectly calm once more.
"And you expect me to help you," Sesshoumaru finished for her.
"Not for nothing you know." The demon lord blinked. Once again, the girl had switched tones; she was back to the sadistically cheery Kagome that had first entered the room. "I think, no, I know that I can get you Tetsusaiga."
Sesshoumaru stared silently at the girl, betraying no emotion. This little thing that was trembling under his gaze was going to give him the sword that he desired most? The demon lord had a hard time believing that.
Kagome must have guessed what he was thinking, for she quickly continued, "You have to admit that I am probably the best chance you've got to obtain it. After all, you've tried several times before and failed. This isn't a sword that you can take, someone must give it to you."
Realizing she was right, Sesshoumaru growled. Faster than lightening, he had her pinned to the wall with a hand around her neck. For just a moment, she seemed truly afraid … until suddenly she glared, and anger replaced any other emotion that was there. Not discouraged, the demon leaned forward until their noses were practically touching, and hissed, "What makes you think that as soon as I have the sword, I won't just kill you?"
To her credit, Kagome didn't even flinch, even though she was obviously having a hard time breathing. "Because, you are going to give me your word that you will protect me, until my task is finished. If you kill me after I give you the sword, then you will break your oath. And despite the fact that I don't trust you, I know that you are a man of your word and I will trust you to uphold that." Then she smirked, "Besides, killing me would upset Rin."
Sesshoumaru growled once again and released her. How dare she! How dare this wench use Rin against him! She had found his weakness and was exploiting it. There was no reason why he shouldn't just kill her now, and forget about her. There was no reason why he should worry about her problems.
However, he had to respect her intelligence, not to mention her guts. Besides, she was probably right in saying that his best chance to get the sword from his brother was through her. He turned away and strolled back to his desk, ignoring her coughing while he turned all of the possibilities over in his mind. By the time she had regained her breath, he had made up her mind.
"Very well," he said, turning to look her in the eye, "I, Sesshoumaru, swear that I will assure your survival throughout the duration of your task."
Kagome straightened, "And I swear that in return for your help, I will bring you the sword Tetsusaiga and make sure that you can use it." Sesshoumaru was a little surprised that she willingly added the last part of her oath, but put that observation away for later.
Before she realized what was happening, Sesshoumaru was once again too close for comfort. With a grim face, he wiped some of the blood that was dripping from the scratch marks that he had caused on her neck and smeared it onto her right hand. Slitting his finger with a claw, he dropped some of his blood on his hand and grabbed hers, melding the two bloods together. "Now it is sealed," he whispered, "You can no longer change your mind."
"Neither can you," Kagome reminded him, and the demon nodded solemnly. She stepped back and for the first time, Sesshoumaru took a good look at the girl he had just promised to protect. She was filthy. Her dark hair was mussed, parts of it were clumped together with what looked like mud and dried blood. She was wearing the oddest outfit that he had ever seen, what used to be a short green skirt and what looked like some kind of white shirt. However, it was kind of hard to tell, since both her shirt and skirt were as filthy as her hair and torn to pieces as well. Her shoes looked a little better, but he had no doubt that they were almost worn out. The rest of her was covered in new and old scratches, bruises and scrapes. Not to mention she smelled as though she had been wading through a pile of dead demons.
Kagome shifted slightly as Sesshoumaru was attempting to see if she had any serious wounds, and opened her mouth to say something. She was interrupted by the shoji door sliding open and Jaken's frantic, "Sesshoumaru-sama! Your half-brother's wench is demanding…" He trailed off as he noticed Kagome standing off to the side.
"I noticed, Jaken," he said with a slight tinge of amusement coloring his voice. Jaken knew better than to think that Sesshoumaru was happy about the situation and immediately threw himself down on the floor, profusely apologizing for his tardiness. Sesshoumaru brushed it off with a wave of his hand and a set of instructions. The toad demon rose, obviously furious at being given the duties of a common servant, directing his glare towards the girl as if this was all her fault. "Oh and Jaken," the servant turned to him with a cringe, "if the girl comes to any harm while she is under my roof, I shall hold you personally responsible. You may go." Grumbling, the toad obeyed, gesturing for the girl to follow him. Kagome, for her part, shot him a confused look before leaving as well. And Sesshoumaru returned to his desk, only to shut the book that he had been reading and signal for another servant. He had an idea, something his half-brother would have never thought to do.
Kagome sighed in relief as she stepped into a steaming bath. She should have guessed that someone as immaculate as Sesshoumaru had a proper bathhouse, complete with a masseuse. But it had been hard to see someone as evil as she perceived the demon lord having a place so pretty. The baths themselves were outside, with only a roof to shelter them from the weather. All around were weeping willows and various flowering plants that added to the tranquility of the setting. For the first time since she had first fallen down the well, Kagome felt safe. She was in a fortress, after all, and Sesshoumaru … Sesshoumaru had promised to protect her. It was hard to believe. Sure, she had come all this way for one last hope, but even so, she really hadn't really believed that he would agree.
Yet he had. Holding up her hand, she gazed at the spot where their blood had mixed. She didn't completely understand the implications of what ha happened, but she had a good idea. Sesshoumaru was a stickler for tradition.
With another sigh, Kagome decided that she had better get out before she got wrinkled. The moment that she made a move to get up, a servant, a female human servant, rushed to help her. Blushing, Kagome allowed the woman to give her a hand out of the bath and wrap a towel around her. When the servant reached for a kimono, she stammered, "Where are my clothes?"
The woman didn't even blink, "Sesshoumaru-sama is having others brought. You can wear this for now."
"But, my clothes are just fine," Kagome protested, even as she slipped the light silk kimono on. It felt nice, especially compared to her dirty uniform.
The maid held up a tattered green piece of fabric that was doing a good impression of swiss skirt. "Oh really?" the woman asked skeptically.
Kagome blushed and ducked her head, "Ok, so they're a little ragged."
"Just a little," the maid agreed. "Come. I'll take you to your room and have some food brought. You look like you could use some." Kagome's stomach rumbled its agreement, and they both chuckled as the woman led her down the hall.
An hour later, Kagome was stuffed for the first time in weeks. Sesshoumaru had a great cook. Yawning, she was about to try out the bed when a knock sounded on the door. "Come in!" she called cheerily. The woman that had been assigned as her maid entered with a pile of clothes in her arms.
"Here you are dear," she said kindly, handing the outfit to Kagome before leaving again to give her some privacy while she changed.
A full-length mirror stood at one side of her bedroom. Standing in front of it, she twisted from side to side, examining her new outfit. "You have got to be kidding me," she muttered. A pair of tight black pants clung to her legs, and a mini wrap skirt in deep blue draped around her hips. Her top was black as well, sleeveless and as tight as her pants.
"It seems to fit," a smooth voice sounded from behind her. Kagome swore that she jumped three feet in the air, and twisted to see Sesshoumaru leaning casually in her doorway, frowning for some reason.
"What the hell is this?" she asked, gesturing at her clothing. "If you think that I'm going to wear these because you like looking at my ass, you've got another thing coming."
The demon lord blinked a few times, his only expression of surprise, "Your usual attire is more revealing than that." It was obvious from his tone that he found the idea of checking her out revolting. Kagome sighed, and nodded her agreement, but that didn't stop her from wincing when she looked in the mirror again. "I've got something else for you," he continued, turning and motioning to someone outside her room. When he turned back, he held out a weapon to the girl, who reluctantly took it. It looked like a spear, except that the blade was longer and slightly curved. "A glaive," Sesshoumaru explained, "I'll teach you how to use it."
Kagome turned the weapon in her hand, watching the light glint off of the blade curiously. "But I can already use a bow," she protested.
Sesshoumaru snorted, clearly not impressed. "A bow is a long distance weapon, and it will do you no good if an enemy gets close to you. With the glaive, you are far enough away to avoid most attacks, but can still repel the short-range ones."
"But I can purify my arrows."
"With practice, you should be able to purify the blade. There may come a time when I am drawn away from you in an attack, and you will need to defend yourself for a short time. We will not leave until you learn the basics of defense."
Kagome sighed, but she saw the sense in his words. There had been more times then she could count when Inu-Yasha had been drawn away from her, and it was a wonder that she had not been attacked while defenseless before. "When do we start?"
"In the morning, bright and early. I suggest you get your sleep." With that, the demon lord left Kagome wondering why he even cared.
The next day, Kagome found out that when Sesshoumaru-sama said bright and early, Sesshoumaru-sama meant bright and early. Her sudden revelation came about by waking up to a very unhappy toad-face well before dawn. So the girl did what any sleepy, modern female would do. She shrieked.
Not two minutes later, Sesshoumaru appeared in the doorway only to duck as Jaken was hurled through the entrance to Kagome's room. The girl herself was clutching her sheets to her chest, yelling about hentai toads trying to feel her up in her sleep. The demon lord looked back once to make sure that his servant was still alive before turning back to his charge (who had by now stopped screaming). "I think you'll do all right," he remarked with a smirk before leaving, dragging Jaken unceremoniously with him.
Kagome flopped back onto the bed, shutting her eyes again with a yawn. Just as she was falling asleep again, the arrogant dog demon stuck his head in the door and shouted for her to wake up. The girl jumped up, heart pounding, and shot the demon a glare before slamming the door shut in his face so she could dress.
She met him in a large dojo that was attached to the main castle, all decked out in her new outfit, and carrying her glaive. Sesshoumaru was already there, raising an eyebrow at her tardiness (it had taken her a little while to find her pants), to which Kagome made a face.
"If you intend to be this late every day, we'll never be able to leave," he remarked calmly.
"Oh no! I'm a whole ten seconds late! The world is going to end!" Kagome sneered sarcastically. It was way to early to put up with his arrogant demon attitude.
To her surprise, Sesshoumaru barked a laugh. Kagome stuck her tongue out at him, and he laughed again. Despite her total shock, the girl decided that she liked his laugh; it made him seem more approachable somehow, more human, although she would never tell him that.
Through the next hour of their lesson, she tried to pay attention, but her thoughts kept turning toward her teacher's unusual behavior. An hour later, when Sesshoumaru picked up a sword – a real sword, not one of the wooden practice ones – she gulped. And when she found herself doing better after that, part of the reason was that she had finally figured it out. This was the demon lord's home, therefore, he was less guarded her because he felt safer. Heh, Kagome thought smugly as she dodged a blow, I knew there was a reason why I sought him out here.
Two hours into their lessons, Sesshoumaru called a halt for breakfast. Kagome, who was utterly sore already and beginning to wonder if she would ever use her arms again, got up the guts to tease him about giving up on her so soon. For a moment, when he began to advance toward her, she wondered if she had made a mistake. He merely corrected her defensive pose that she had slipped into without thinking, and smiled. It wasn't a huge or overly enthusiastic grin, but it was a real smile, almost as if he was pleased with her actions. Not that he really cared, Kagome reminded herself sternly when she felt a bit of unexpected warmth at the thought.
After they ate, he returned her to the dojo and showed her a simple kata which she was to perfect by evening. Kagome bitched good-naturedly, but she obeyed, which was all that the demon cared about. One wall of the dojo was mirrored, and she used that as she practiced, trying to remember the way Sesshoumaru had done it. Though the form had seemed simple, her clumsy motions didn't want to imitate it, and as the day went by, Kagome began to get more frustrated with her moves. And then, if that wasn't bad enough, something flicked in the corner of her eye, distracting her.
She turned, expecting to see Rin, or maybe Jaken. Instead, she caught an eyeful of Sesshoumaru, twirling gracefully through a kata of his own. Her mouth dropped open of its own accord. How could something so deadly be so beautiful? His eyes flicked to her for a split-second, but he waited to finish before stopping.
"You remind one of a dead fish," he remarked offhandedly. Funny, for some reason, she had thought that the demon lord had more manners than his brother.
Kagome's mouth snapped shut with an audible click, only to open again as she asked, "How do you do that? It's so pretty."
Sesshoumaru frowned, obviously not taken with her choice of adjectives. "Pretty?"
Kagome blushed and waved her hand vaguely. "Like a dance," she explained.
The youkai snorted, humans and their foolish ideas. "You are supposed to be practicing."
"You distracted me! How do you expect me to concentrate when you are over there twirling?" Sesshoumaru growled, putting down his sword and stalking over to the girl.
"You must learn to work around distractions. Ignore them if they are not an immediate danger to you." Kagome gulped. It didn't take an expert to understand the stress that the youkai put on immediate and what it meant. She nodded, returning to her work. This time, the demon lord didn't go back to practicing on his own, but stayed and corrected her, forcefully, every time she was a centimeter off. Naturally, by the time they stopped for lunch, she was in a less than good mood, to put it lightly. The fact that the youkai was smirking at her didn't help much either.
Rin's atrocious table manners calmed her down a bit as she taught the girl the importance of chopsticks as something besides a tool to poke Jaken with. After they ate, Sesshoumaru told her to rest; they would continue their lessons later when it was cooler. Gratefully, Kagome obeyed, and headed off to her room for a nap. But then, Rin caught up to her.
The next few weeks went much the same as the first, with a few exceptions. Kagome was now almost constantly covered with small cuts and bruises. Sesshoumaru considered his decision to train her with live steel a good one. He was always careful only to scratch her, but the lesson was well learned, and she was progressing faster than she would have if all she had to show for her mistakes were a few bruises. Kagome continued to progress through harder and harder katas; and slowly, she learned to ignore the distraction of his own practices. Rin's increasing frequent interruptions still affected her however, even though she was no longer stopping to talk to the child. The only reason that the youkai didn't complain was that the fact that she could learn a kata while carrying on a conversation was fascinating.
After about two weeks, Sesshoumaru was nearly ready to allow them to begin their journey. As he strode down the hall to wake Kagome up (he had stopped sending Jaken after she had nearly killed him with her newfound strength), the demon lord reviewed everything that he had taught her. Considering what she had learned, he wouldn't be happy with expecting her to defend herself, but for something very strange that she had done a few days ago…
She had left her right shoulder glaringly open as she leapt back from his attack. As usual, he was beating the crap out of her, which was obvious by her various bleeding scratches and heavy breathing. He lunged forward to remind her to watch her shoulder, but at the same time, she sprung towards him as well. He had only meant to scratch her, but with her unexpected move, the sword point dug deeply into her shoulder. Guilt flashed through him as he pulled back, only to realize that the blade of her glaive was resting on his neck in the 'kill' position…
He had told her to take the rest of the day off after he bandaged her arm up, but a few hours later, she was back out in the dojo, practicing her katas. The bandage on her arm had turned bright red from her exercises, and after watching for a moment, Sesshoumaru had silently intervened, grabbed the protesting Kagome by her uninjured arm and dragged her to her room, threatening to tie her to her bed if she didn't rest.
But he had been proud of her, and the very fact that she had sacrificed her arm in order to win impressed him. He hadn't thought that the girl whom he had perceived as his brother's wench to be anything more than a soft, defenseless whore whom Inu-Yasha had picked up along the way for some fun. It was obvious that there was a lot more to her than that. It had immediately become obvious the second that she had walked through his study door.
Sliding open the door to her room, the youkai started as he realized that she wasn't there. He frowned, but it was pretty obvious were she was. Turning from the empty room, he headed for the dojo.
Kagome was there, practicing her latest kata … or trying to. She seemed to be having some trouble, what exactly became obvious as the youkai neared her. Without a word, he slipped up behind her, repositioning her hands and nudging her feet with his to put her in the proper position. Holding her close, he ran through the form, taking her with him.
When they got through the part that she had been having trouble with, she exclaimed, "That's what I was doing wrong!" She twisted slightly in his grasp and grinned up at him. "Thanks, Sesshoumaru." For a moment, she reminded him of Rin in her happiness. Until suddenly, she blushed, realizing how close they were. Sesshoumaru let go of her almost immediately, as he too, seemed to realize their proximity.
Kagome smiled at him again, "Did I wake you? I couldn't sleep, so I came out here to practice."
"You've been out here all night?"
Sesshoumaru rolled his eyes in despair. "We are going to have to work on your sense of time."
Kagome blinked at looked at the sky, "It is morning. Whoa."
The youkai nearly had to fight to keep from laughing at the sight before him. The tiny thing that he had sworn to protect had her head tilted back to look at the waning night sky, and a glaive held loosely in one hand. The contrasting pictures of innocence and deadly beauty formed a very interesting – albeit accurate – visage.
Yes, Kagome was a lot like his little Rin at times, curious almost to a fault, always asking questions, innocent, or seemingly so. And yet, she had another side to her; one that had seen death and pain and suffering; one that had survived, and become stronger because of what it had been through. The duality intrigued him, partially because he recognized some of it in himself, although to a much lesser degree, and partially because it was so obvious. One only had to look at the girl's face to see her thoughts, Sesshoumaru knew from first-hand experience. Despite the fact that they hardly spoke, or even saw one another, when they were not practicing, he felt as though he had known the girl for far longer than the two weeks that they had been together. And all that he had learned only left him wondering about what he couldn't see.
"Show me the kata," the demon lord commanded, shaking his disturbing thoughts away. He didn't want to get to know this girl; all he wanted was the Tetsusaiga. Kagome obeyed, running through the form that she had been practicing all night and this time doing it right. He nodded in approval, grabbing his sword. They sparred for a bit, and then Sesshoumaru sent her off to get some rest.
"By the way," he added just as Kagome stepped out of the door, "We'll be leaving tomorrow." Kagome nodded once in acknowledgement before heading – predictably – for the baths.