The Bargain

Kagome sat huddled on the edge of the Bone-Eater's well, reflexively trying to protect herself from the cold wind that was trying to push her to the ground. In her hands, she clutched the Tetsusaiga's scabbard. In the silence of her heart, she prayed.

From where he stood hovering at the edge of the treeline, Sesshomaru could see his brother's human wench. He wondered idly why she hadn't worn something warmer, something that would protect her more than the skimpy outfit that was all he had ever seen her wear. Not that it mattered, really. Soon he would have what he wanted, and this human would be of no more concern to him. And with Tetsusaiga in his hands, he, Sesshomaru, would have fulfilled his last obligation to his noble father. He stepped into the clearing, ignoring the wind that clutched at his white kimono, making it snap.

The sound startled her, and Kagome jumped, looking around frantically. A flash of white caught her eye, and she froze. She had been waiting for him, but now that he was here she wanted nothing more than to jump into the well and flee this cursed time. This was the man, no the *demon*, who had taunted and tested Inuyasha to his limit, and here she sat, waiting to give him Inuyasha's only legacy. But there was no other way, was there?

Sesshomaru slowly made his way across the clearing until finally he stood before her, staring impassively down into her face.

"Where is the sword?" he asked, having seen that the scabbard was empty before he had even entered the clearing.

"It's hidden," Kagome replied, her first move in this negotiation that was to be.

"It is mine now. Bring it to me." His countermove, entirely predictable.

Her fingers clenched on the scabbard. "No." She looked up, and knew that he would be able to see that her eyes were red-rimmed from crying. "He gave it to me. It's mine."

Sesshomaru's face showed no emotion, but he had expected this. The woman knew how he valued the sword, and no human would pass up the chance to make a profit, even from the death of someone they claimed to love. He could torture her, he supposed, but it seemed like a wast of effort. He had fought this wench often enough to know that she was obstinate. It pained him to do it, but he asked the question anyway.

"What do you want?" What would it be, he wondered. Gold? Jewels? Were there enough jewels in the world to purchase such a weapon?

Kagome remained silent for several moments, studying the creature facing her. She wondered what he was thinking. He had always been impossible to read. Even when he and Inuyasha had fought Sesshomaru had displayed a detachment that had frightened her. How would he react? Would he accept?

"Naraku has all but one piece of the Shikon." She told him. It sounded like a non sequitur, but they both knew it wasn't. Inuyasha had died on their quest to prevent it. Well, in a way he had. Naraku had killed him, at least, even if it hadn't been over the gem.

Sesshoumaru didn't respond, waiting instead for her to continue.

"I need to find it. I was the one who broke it. I need to make things right again." That was the heart of the matter, she thought. For years she had been coming to the Sengoku-jidai, destroying her life in her time to make right what she had done. But if it had been impossible with Inuyasha, how much more so would it be now?

From her scent Sesshomaru could tell that she was speaking the truth, and that shook his control enough that his surprise showed in his eyes. A human with a sense of duty? How very unusual. She truly wished to repair the damage done three years ago when her arrow had shattered the stone. And all these years he had thought that it was her love for Inuyasha that kept her in a world that was so obviously not her own.

"What do you want?" He repeated. He wanted to hear her say it.

"Help me find the stone and stop Naraku."

Sesshoumaru found that it wasn't as hard as he expected to find his answer. The Tetsusaiga. And although he would never admit it, vengeance for his brother.

He nodded. "Very well."

Their bargain was struck.

***

Notes: Well, is it worth continuing?