Disclaimer: I don't Inuyasha, but you don't need me to tell you that to know it... or do you?

AN: I know I said I wouldn't be starting any new fics for a while but I just had to get this one out of my head and onto the web before someone else got the idea! Anyhow, this is just going to add onto my long list of continuing fics and probably slow me down - but if I get good responses I'll probably be more enthusiastic about updating (I'm throwing you all a massive hint here)

BTW: this is kinda AU cause it doesn't follow the original story, but it IS set in feudal Japan with the same circumstances and everything - but the characters are all in different positions and situations.

Also this is definitely Inu/Kag but sometimes people get worried because it starts off strange...

So read - and most of all - enjoy! That's why I write these things - so people can enjoy them ^_^

Soul Exchange

The Deal

The bushes scraped at her bare calves and snagged at her clothes as she pounded through the thickets. Her breath came in short gasps, half sobbing as she ran for all she was worth. At one point her sleeve caught on a bush and brought her dash to a staggering halt, but she didn't pay it much heed as she ripped her arm forward with a cry of effort and ran on, leaving part of the sleeve of her kimono behind her.

She couldn't allow anything to slow her down... every precious second counted...

Kagome screamed sharply as her ankle caught on a low outstretching branch across her path. Out of reflex she threw her arms out before her to catch her fall, but still landed awkwardly, grazing her hands and her chin.

She swallowed another cry as she moved her ankle and pain shot up her leg. It didn't matter - all that matter was finding the old Goshinboku tree...

Kagome lifted her head, about to drag herself to her feet and continue, when she stopped dead. She'd found it... she'd all but fallen to it's roots. It took her a few seconds to register where she was in relation to her village now... and came to the conclusion that she was quite some distance indeed. Her cousin's village was only around the hill from here.

But she wasn't looking for her cousin's village.

With a gasp she lurched to her feet and stumbled across the uneven ground to fall to her knees before the old tree and began ripping away at the earth with nothing but her hands. It would have been easier if the ground had been wet and muddy, but it hadn't rained in days, and the earth was as dry as bones, and just as hard.

The dirt streaked stains across across her worn old white kimono, and covered the dark blue material of her pinafore tied at the waist. She'd lost her sandals long ago... and she sorely missed them now, but she didn't dwell too much on it.

"Come on... come on..." she breathed urgently as she tried to stifle the shaky sobs that rose in her throat.

The stones in the ground were cutting her hands and fingers up worse than they already were, but she couldn't find it... and she had to keep searching. Desperately she thumped the earth beside her and scrambled along the roots to another part of the ground and began to dig there, pulling the grassy stumps out of the way in order to get to softer ground beneath.

She must have been at it for an hour, and she was still searching among the roots, crying freely in anguish... until her hands were so raw she couldn't dig anymore. She crouched down and pressed her forehead against her knees, angry at her failure, but mostly at herself for giving up. It was no use though... she could spend a week looking around the tree for her mother's box and by then it would be too late... in fact... that very moment she was probably too late.

"Forgive me..." she whispered hoarsely into her lap, grimacing as the tears sprang up and spilled down her cheeks.

"For what?"

Kagome gasped as she whipped around and quickly backed herself up against the tree. She hadn't realised she had company... and she wasn't glad of it either. A man, or what sounded like a man, was sitting on a large rock behind her, swathed in an encompassing white baboon pelt. All she could see of the actual man was the smooth, young outline of his jaw beneath the face of the baboon, and his hands resting in his lap.

"Who are you?" Kagome demanded shakily, though she knew she commanded no real authority.

"Someone who could help you." The man responded calmly.

Kagome swallowed past the lump in her throat and lifted her chin high. "With what exactly?"

"Why are you crying?"

Kagome's determined expression faltered and fresh tears shimmered in her eyes. "I... I..."

"He'll die won't he."

"H-how do you know that?" Kagome started and stared at him openly. "I didn't say anything..."

"I don't need you to tell me what I already know." He said simply and stood up to walk towards her. Kagome pressed herself back against the tree further. "Tell me... how much do you love him..."

"With all my heart..." Kagome's breath came in ragged gasps. "I need him... I need to find my mother's healing talisman... I need to heal him before he dies..."

The baboon man said nothing.

"Please... can you help me find it?"


"Then go away - you're creeping me out!" Kagome burst out and stood up precariously and started to edge her way around the other side of the tree. She didn't get far when her path was blocked. "Leave me be!"

"I can't help you find the healer's talisman... he's already dead you know."

Kagome felt something break within her and a broken choke escaped her mouth before she clapped a hand to cover it and sank down the tree to the ground. Shaking with heart broken sobs.

"But I can bring him back to you... I can make it so that you can be together forever... live together... forever..."

"How could you do that?" Kagome managed to get out. "What are you?"

"A spirit..." he answered.

Kagome tried to see more of his face from her vantage point on the ground, but shadow seemed to consume the rest of it. "How would you bring him back to life?"

"It isn't hard." The stranger told her. "But there is a price to such happiness."

"Let me guess... I have to give you my soul..." Kagome said bitterly.

"How did you know that?" the mysterious tone disappeared from his voice in surprise. "Have we met before?"

Kagome stared at him. "Oh my god... you're serious..."

"Yes... well..." he drew himself up again. "Naraku doesn't go around offering such a wonderful deal to every love struck girl he sees."

Kagome tried to get to her feet again, but her ankle protested with a searing pain and she sank back down with a gasp.

"And as a bonus, I'll heal that for you too." He added.

"Go away..."

"You haven't thought this through..." The man crouched before her, so close that she could smell the musty odour of the old pelt he wore. "Kouga is dead, Kagome..."

A small whimper escaped her throat.

"I know... death always hurts... and it will go on hurting for a long, long time to come. Time heals all wounds... but you're pretty much a cripple until it does."

Kagome dropped her head, her hair hiding her face.

"Just think of the possibility, if you will." He said slowly, in a deep and trance like tone. "I can revive your lover... bring him back to you... I can make you both immortals so you can live with each other for the rest of time... you want that don't you."

Kagome gave the slightest of nods.

"And all you have to do is give me ownership of your soul. And what will I do with it? It's not like I can take it from your body while you live. All I can say, is that I own it... but it will still be with you."

Kagome was unusually quiet.

"And I'll heal your dud foot too." He hoped that would swing the deal.

"What's the catch?" Kagome asked timidly.

"There is none... other than you cannot legally say you own your soul..." Naraku spoke softly, close to her ear. "It will always be yours... I cannot use it... make the deal..."

"I can't do that..."

"Yes you can... think of Kouga..." he told her seriously. "If you do not agree then you will never see him again. You will live the rest of your life wondering about what might be if you had made this deal. He'd be alive and with you, so what more do you want?"


"Make the deal... or Kouga leaves your for the underworld..."

"I don't..."

"Make it... I'll never offer it again..."

Kagome was silent for a long time as she went over the possibilities in her head. "He and I will live forever?"

"Till the end of time."

"We'll be together?"

"Indeed." He smiled slightly, knowing she was already his.

"Then... I agree... ok..." Kagome said in a hopeless tone.

Naraku stood swiftly and began to walk away.

"Where are you going?" Kagome called after him, shocked at his sudden departure. Where was the deal? Where was Kouga?

"Run home little girl, your lover awaits you..." Naraku disappeared into the cover of the forest, leaving Kagome by herself.

Slowly she rose to her feet and looked down as her ankle stood strong and didn't scream in pain. There was a bruise... but it was mended. She looked up hurriedly to try and see the man again... but he'd long gone now. After that Kagome wasted no time and ran for all she was worth back home. Not caring about her torn clothing this time because she didn't dare waste a precious second without Kouga...


Lady Inu sat in her throne, trying to block out the voices of her advisors. They were all talking at once in rather fast speeches and she hadn't caught a single word of what they were crying at her. She just gazed demurely at her folded hands in her lap and hoped they would be done soon and just leave her alone.

"The Wolf clans on the mainland are poised to attack - the sentries say they keep seeing scouts on the shores of the island."

"Has anyone caught a wolf yet?" Lady Inu asked.


"Then they're probably just seeing things again." She said simply.

Another advisor jumped in with another threat. "But his late lordship's eldest son is all but converging on the border this minute! He's got an entire army at his command - he wants the throne now that his father has passed on."

"He won't DARE step foot on these lands while Inuyasha is here." Lady Inu snapped in a rather motherly command. "If he knows what's best for him he will be happy with what land he has."

"Sesshomaru demands the Southern Kingdom - he claims that he is the heir!" the advisor gushed on. "If we don't surrender the land he will take it by force and join it with his Northern Kingdom."

"And like I said - Inuyasha is the heir - Sesshomaru cannot take what does not belong to him." Lady Inu said evenly.

"But we keep telling you, my lady..." the advisor bowed humbly. "If Lord Inuyasha does not take the throne then he has no claim to the Kingdom."

"Hm." Was all she said. "What else should be brought to my attention?"

The advisors looked nervously to one another. "Um... the young Lord Inuyasha..."

She sighed deeply. "What's the matter with him now?"

"He discovered your attempts to marry him off to Lady Mitako..."

Lady Inu dropped her head in dread. "And?"

"Sufficed to say... he's not feeling especially delighted towards you."

As the advisor said this, a loud rumbling boom sounded deep within the palace, shaking the drapes and rattling the ornaments on the mantels. Lady Inu didn't react as the throne beneath her vibrated slightly. When it had faded she shook her head. "He needs to learn how to control his temper..."

"Forgive us... but he has been this way since his lordship's departure..." the advisor speaking to her bowed again, though he looked very eager to run away.

A loud smash sounded even closer now, a sound that made the advisors jumped and glance uneasily at the large double doors of the throne room. Lady Inu darted a glance between them all before sighing. "You can go if you wish... I'd take the back entrance if you value your lives..."

"Will you be alright, milady?" one of the advisors paused hesitantly while the other three scampered off gratefully.

"Best leave now or forever suffer his wrath." She warned lightly, making him bolt for the smaller door behind a drape against one of the walls behind her.

Lady Inu waited patiently a few moments, inspecting her fingernails and picking at something in her teeth. She wasn't kept waiting long, as a few moments later both large, incredibly heavy oak doors burst open with the force an ogre might express, but through the doors stomped a much smaller, but no less livid, little hanyou.


"Hello, Inuyasha!" she called cheerfully, giving him one of her brightest smiles. "How are you feeling today? Ready to take the throne, I hope."

"Not today." He stopped a few metres below her throne, and from here she could see him clenching his jaw and fists in a massive effort to keep from blowing up. Well... at least he was making an effort this morning.

"Goodness... whatever is the matter? You look like you've just eaten Sango's spice surprise?" Sango was Lady Inu's Lady in Waiting - mostly because she was the only other human woman on the island. She was also widely known for he infamous use of spice in her cooking...

"I don't believe you... YOU have just sunk to a fucking new low- just when I thought you couldn't sink much lower than the mud!" Inuyasha hissed rather venomously.

Lady Inu's light smile was gone in a flash. "I hope you don't kiss Miss Mitako with that mouth." She said with a slight smirk, intending him to catch the mocking tone in her voice.

At that Inuyasha's rather limited control snapped and he kicked the antique table beside him, shattering it soundly. Lady Inu looked on with pursed lips, silently glad that she didn't keep the really expensive furniture in the throne room. "You planned to marry me off to that snobby nosed little cow from the mainland!"

"I thought she had a rather nice nose..."

"And you DIDN'T bother to TELL ME!" he roared, looking around for another table to smash so he couldn't direct his violence on his mother.

She just watched him stomp off to the side to kick in a large ornate pot that had been made in the thirteenth century. She winced slightly before reminding herself not to get angry. Getting angry just seemed to feed her son more anger, and that wasn't what he needed.

"Inuyasha... it's been six months..." she said in a patient tone as she glared stonily at the tiled floor before her. "Your father has not returned, nor shall he ever return. The throne is up for grabs, and if you don't claim it then your brother will."

"He can't! Because Pa is still alive - you can't steal the throne from the King when he still owns it!"

Lady Inu clenched her fists. "When are you going to get it into your thick skull that your father is DEAD!" her immaculate control snapped too. "I don't believe you! Six months! We haven't received any word that might indicate that he is alive! The only thing we have received in his absence is his crown and his sword... Tessaiga..."

Both she and Inuyasha knew very well that Inuyasha's father didn't go anywhere without his precious sword carved from his own fang.

"That doesn't mean anything... he might have just dropped it..." Inuyasha narrowed his eyes.

"And his crown too?" Inuyasha's mother slid from her throne and stepped shortly down the steps, stopping before she reached the bottom two so she could still look down on her son, since she was distinctly shorter than he was now. "Maybe he did drop them... but then why hasn't he sent us a note? A message? Some sign that he is alive?"

"No one's found his body - he could still be out there!" Inuyasha snapped, stomping back over to her to face her.

"In a ditch!" she yelled back, as proud as ever, but a small glistening or water in the corner of her eye gave her away. Inuyasha saw it at once, and sobered quickly, he hated making his mother cry... he just felt like an evil monster when he did that.

Lady Inu dashed away the lone tear at once and glared angrily at her son. "The throne is yours... take it... if you don't it will be taken by Sesshomaru by force of war. Do you want to be responsible for hundreds of lives of the Inu Youkai in this kingdom?"

Inuyasha looked away.

His mother set her jaw and steppe down the last two steps from her throne and grabbed his ear to pull his head back around. "Look at me when I'm talking to you!"

It hurt like hell, but he wasn't going to give her the satisfaction of screaming like a little baby. She continued anyway. "Take the throne and the people will be loyal to you!"

"They won't follow me - I'm a Hanyou!"

"Is this what it is about?" she released his ear which he rubbed quickly. "Are you scared of taking the throne because they might not accept you?"


"That is not a valid concern! They loved your father - they love you to!" his mother said hotly. "Don't abandon them all now!"

Inuyasha just glared back at her. "Pa is not dead... he'll be back... you'll see..." he turned and began to stalk out of the throne room.

"Six more months, Inuyasha!" she yelled after him. "Sesshomaru won't wait any more than that! You MUST take the throne by then and master Tessaiga for our protection."

"Six months and I'll find Pa!" Inuyasha yelled tersely over his shoulder. "I'm leaving now - I'll find him myself!"

Lady Inu's blood ran cold and she took a few steps after him. "No... No! If Sesshomaru learns of your absence he will attack at once! He only fears you and the sword! Leave now and he'd be merciless to the rest of us!"

"Then don't let him find out!" Inuyasha turned as he reached the doors and clenched a fist at her. "YOU may have given up on dad - but I haven't! I'll bring him back and then the Kingdom will be safe again! And then I WON'T have to be forced into these stupid marriages!"

He whirled and was gone from sight in an eye blink. Lady Inu released a shaky breath and slumped to her knees. These arguments with her son were taking their toll on her... he was a man now... not a little boy protesting about bath time... He was stronger than she was... maybe verging on stronger than his own father... but he didn't know it. And it was growing harder and harder to keep it that way... she didn't want to lose a fight to him, that would be too dangerous.

But it was heading that way. He was disobeying her, cancelling the marriages she arranged for the Kingdom's benefit, and running away at times when his people needed him most. She was losing control because he was growing up... and he was clinging to the ridiculous belief that his father was still alive...

She needed help. There was only so much she could manage on her own. A Kingdom she could handle. But playing single parent to Inuyasha was a whole different kettle of fish...

AN: Wow - there's the first chapter done. Right, I don't want Kouga to stay with Kagome... so they'll be broken up next chapter ^_^ Plus, Inuyasha and Kagome will meet too. Watch this space...