Summary: Every day in the feudal era Kagome found herself gambling, whether it be with Shikon shards, her grades, or even, her life. So why not go "all in" and bring this whole thing to an end? Challenging the two most dangerous demons in the land, however, might not have been the smartest move.
Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha.
(A/N: This is another story I started a few years ago that's just been siting around. I'm cleaning out my "in-progress" files if its not obvious. It was inspired by "Poker Face" by Lady Gaga, (of which I do not own) and no laughing at me. I tried to keep them IC as much as possible, but they will be sitting and civilly playing a game, so there is that bit of OOC. Anyways, enjoy!)
Chapter 1: Humorous Visual
The thought had been floating around in Kagome's head for a solid month now, refusing to abate or even dwindle. At first it was simply an amusing picture, but the more she thought about it, the more legit it sounded as a way to end this whole mess with the Shikon Jewel. Sure, it was possible it could turn out to be a catastrophic disaster, but the odds would be in her favor that at least some good would come of it. She'd been running through every possible outcome, fine-tuning and calculating exactly how to get this abstract plan into motion, and now, it was time to commence.
Let's back up for a second. Where did this bizarre plot originate? Well, from a harmless game of poker between friends in the modern era. Kagome was losing horribly and the stray thought of, "If only I had a poker face like Sesshomaru or was skilled in manipulation like Naraku this would be so much easier," crossed her mind. It then diverged into an image of the Shikon Miko playing a 'friendly' game of poker with the aforementioned two, thus causing a huge laughing fit right in the middle of her game. Obviously, her friends were confounded by such a sudden outburst.
A few days later, in the feudal era, right after another one of Naraku's complex schemes, Kagome realized they were basically playing a real-life version of poker. Gambling with Shikon shards, betting the one used in said scheme in an attempt to gain more of the same. The visage of poker, applied to her quest remained a constant. She began to plot a way to actually goad both demons into the game and practiced it herself every chance she could. If everything went according to plan, she could end this whole mess without any more bloodshed.
The one weakness all demons seemed to share was pride. It was all too easy to challenge any one of them into a fight to the death simply by implying that they were weak, as she had seen several times with the way Inuyasha handled the many demons they had encountered. Her plan was the same, challenge them to a game of wits, the price, their most prized possession. Naraku would wager the completed jewel, but she still had yet to decide on her own wager and had no idea what Sesshomaru really cared about. She wasn't about to ask him to bet his title, lands, or companions, she wasn't cruel after all. The whole point of bringing Sesshomaru into this was purely odds. The more skilled players, the lower Naraku's chance of winning, he would be formidable in this after all.
Her first step was gathering the players, hence the reason she had stealthily slipped back into the feudal era on her own. Her companions likely would only try to stop her, not understanding, nor agreeing with, her reasoning. She was heading into the general area where they knew Naraku's barrier to be, due to the recent night of the new moon when it weakened, even though they were unable to get passed it. She was sure that he would detect her presence nearby anytime now and steeled her nerves in preparation for the encounter.
She didn't have to wait long before Kagura was sent out to intercept her. It was quite odd for the miko to be traveling alone and Naraku ordered her to figure out the reason before taking the 'appropriate' action.
"For what reason are you here and alone?" Kagura stated bluntly, eager to get this task over with. Really, it was immensely boring being charged with such menial errands.
Kagome stood tall, not letting Kagura talk down to her, "I have a proposition for Naraku," this actually seemed to pique Kagura's curiosity, "one I'm sure he won't be able to resist."
"Oh, and what might that be?" she wasn't completely convinced yet.
"It pertains to the jewel shards, but if you don't think he'd want it..." Kagome trailed off and started to turn around. She had gotten a plethora of practice at bluffing lately.
Kagura knew the consequences should she not act according to Naraku's wishes, even if those wishes hadn't been explicitly stated. "No, I will let him know," she hastily replied, playing right into Kagome's hand. "Remain here." Kagome nodded, she had no intention of leaving until she accomplished this phase of her plan anyways.
Meanwhile, Kagura's emergence from the barrier caused her scent, that which is identical to Naraku's, to catch upon the wind and travel the lands. It lured the three beings that not only had the keen senses to detect it, but also the motive to want its owner dead. Little did they know they were converging on what would be the most interesting high stakes poker game the feudal era had ever seen. In all likelihood, it was also the first poker game, but that was irrelevant.
Kagome heard Naraku before ever seeing him, his voice echoing around her, "I have to admit, I am quite intrigued as to what you are here for. What could you possibly want from me in return for your jewel shards?"
"A game," Kagome stated simply, drawing Naraku into her own little web, dragging him in by his own curiosity.
Naraku deemed this the time to show himself and stepped through the last of his barrier to stand a few yards from the potentially dangerous priestess. He had not forgotten the damage she had managed to inflict upon him the last time he underestimated her. He kept a close eye on her bow and arrows, just to make sure. "Elaborate. What kind of game would be worth the jewel shards you work so 'diligently' to protect from demons such as myself?" he was suspicious, this was unlike the girl he assumed her to be.
"It's not just any game, Naraku," she thoroughly enjoyed having the upper hand. "It's called Poker, and it is a gambling game. Each player gives up something as a wager to enter and the winner takes all as reward."
"Hmm, and why would I be inclined to participate in this game of which I know nothing about? It seems obvious you would have the advantage. It would be unwise to go through so much trouble when I could just as easily kill you now," he reasoned, but was shocked when all she did was laugh.
"So predictable. I knew you would say something like that. Did you really think I'd be so foolish as to seek you out on my own if I carried the shards with me?" she spoke through her giggles before returning to serious. "I have hidden the shards in a place you can never reach Naraku." His eyes narrowed as he looked into hers. She held no deception. "Besides, some of the main facets of this game are manipulation and deceit. I assume you can handle yourself under such conditions, but if I am mistaken, perhaps I have been overestimating your prowess this whole time." Her face took on the look of a disappointed pout at the taunt.
"You attempt to entrap me into this facade of playing a game by implying I am incompetent?" he seemed annoyed at her novice tactics.
"Yes," she admitted shamelessly, "but it's up to you if you want to play. Either take me on in this game of wits, of have the last remaining shards forever out of your reach."
She was better at this than he expected. "Very well," he agreed, a sinister smirk making its way onto his face, "this may prove to be entertaining."
"I will explain the game after I have secured the other player," Kagome stated, not worried about Naraku's opinion. He wouldn't harm her yet because she was the only one who knew where the shards were.
"And who might this other player be?" he didn't seem pleased with this development.
"Sesshomaru," she answered casually. "The game is so much better with more than two players." She smiled to herself, pleased that things were going according to plan.
"How do you plan on finding him?" Naraku challenged, breaking Kagome out of her gleeful mood.
"Oh man, I forgot about that part," she admitted sheepishly. "I don't suppose you know where he is?" This was the girl he remembered, naive and unsure of herself.
Naraku chuckled at her, "I do. Would you like to know?"
"Well, duh!" Kagome bit out sarcastically, "of course I would. Why else would I have asked?"
"There," he pointed right at her, no, not at her, behind her. She spun around and lo and behold there he was, in all his glory, as a light breeze ruffled his haori.
"Oh," she muttered stupidly before snapping out of it, remembering her purpose. Clearing her throat, "How long have you been there?"
"Long enough to know you had intentions of seeking me out. For what purpose?" he demanded, his question sounding nothing of the sort.
"I wish to put forth a challenge to you, Sesshomaru, common in my homeland," she spoke in as formal a way as possible. "It is a game of wits and manipulation where each participant will offer something as a wager, the one winner, claiming all these offerings as their reward." 'Now time to secure his participation.' "I trust you are up for the challenge? Or will you concede that I am your superior now?"
His eyes narrowed angrily, fully aware that this girl had completely entrapped him using his honor against him. Everyone present already knew his answer, he had no choice but to accept, not wanting to speak it out loud, he opted instead for, "What manner of wager need be offered?"
Her eyes sparkled, immensely pleased with herself, "Why, only the individuals most prized possession, of course." She looked towards Naraku. "Naraku will put up the completed Shikon jewel, of which I have several pieces in a secure location, but I have yet to determine what my own wager will be and no one knows just what you care about either, MiLord." She ended her explanation while facing Sesshomaru.
"We will continue this discussion later," Sesshomaru turned towards the forest.
"So it seems," Naraku agreed, having also sensed the distractions rapidly approaching.
Kagome just looked between the two demons and the indicated direction before seeing a cloud of dust and sensing two jewel shards. "Oh great," she muttered, annoyed that her well laid plans where being diverted.
"Now you know how it feels miko," Naraku chided. "You and your troublesome companions have a tendency to interrupt my workings as well." She only glared at him as he reveled in her frustration.
"Don't worry, Kagome," Kouga's voice rang out, "I'll save you from that vile fiend."
"Shut up you mangy wolf," Inuyasha bellowed from barely behind him, "I'm the one that's going to rescue Kagome."
Said miko face-palmed, "Really? They both found us." She looked incredulous. Head still in her hand, and sighing deeply, Kagome moved to position herself between Naraku and the approaching canines. He was sure to be their target after all.
When Inuyasha got within hearing distance, a softly spoken 'sit' sent him sprawling. It was the easiest way to stop his rampaging behavior. Her attention then turned to Kouga, "Kouga, stop!" Her voice was firm, on the verge of anger, insisting that he listen.
"K-Kagome?" Kouga stuttered, confused as to why she wouldn't want to be rescued. "What are you talking about?"
"What was that for?" Inuyasha grumbled out a complaint at his subjugation as his face was still buried into the earth.
"Just... listen," she began. "I'm trying to bring this whole Shikon jewel disaster to an end. I've already got my plan underway, just trust me, okay?"
Finally pulling himself out of his hole, Inuyasha barked, "By joining that monster?" Inuyasha accused while pointing at Naraku standing casually behind Kagome, enjoying the sight.
Another deep sigh, "No, Inuyasha, I have not joined him. I've challenged him, along with Sesshomaru, to a gam-"
"Challenged him, are you crazy?!" Inuyasha exploded. "You have no chance against either of them on your own. They'll kill you."
"SIT!" Kagome screamed out, exasperated at the short attention span her friend possessed. "Let me finish, Inuyasha. I challenged them to a game of intellect, not physical strength. I know that I wouldn't stand a chance against either of them physically. I'm not stupid."
"That's my woman," Kouga boasted, "always clever."
"She ain't your woman," Inuyasha snarled.
"I'm not your woman," Kagome growled under her breathe simultaneously.
"As amusing as it is to see my foolish 'little brother' plummet to the ground, I would not like to linger here any longer than necessary," Sesshomaru's smooth baritone interrupted the emerging argument.
"Fine," Inuyasha agreed, "but if you insist on this 'game,' whatever it is, I will play as well, to protect you."
"Wha- but, you can't-" Kagome was interrupted.
"Me too," Kouga jumped in, "can't leave your safety in that useless mutt's hands."
"But, guys, you don't know what-" again Kagome was interrupted.
"Accepted," Kagome spun around to see Naraku smirking at her. "Did you not say, miko, that this game of yours is more entertaining with multiple players?"
Her jaw dropped, she'd been caught in her own web, "Y-Yes, but-"
"Then it is settled," Naraku spoke decidedly, "all five of us will participate in this 'Poker' game."
Kagome growled to herself. "Fine," she reluctantly agreed, still not wanting to drag her friends into her scheme. "The rules are as follows. One, each person must wager their most prized possession in order to purchase their way into the game. The lone winner then is awarded each of these wagers."
"Most prized possession, huh?" Kouga began pondering what he'd be willing to offer up.
"We already know I will be wagering the completed Shikon Jewel," Naraku interjected to get things rolling, "as the Miko herself has repeated several times already."
"Kagome, why'd you do something so stupid," Inuyasha lectured. "What if Naraku wins the jewel?"
"I have no intention of losing, Inuyasha," she was becoming quite exhausted with the brash pup. "Now, what do you have to wager?"
"How about that sword of yours, Mutt?" Kouga supplied. "Kagome did say to offer your most prized possession."
Inuyasha growled, "Fine, but only if you offer your 'claim' on Kagome." Kouga growled back. "If you are unwilling to protect her, you don't deserve your 'claim' anyways."
Inuyasha's taunting obviously worked. Kouga ground out, "Deal."
"Now that those two are figured out," Kagome began, trying to get her plan back on track, "Lord Sesshomaru, what will you wager?"
"Only thing that asshole cares about is his 'flawless' image," Inuyasha mumbled to himself, but everyone heard him anyways. Sesshomaru only glared at his sibling.
Kagome gasped, "That's a good idea, Inuyasha."
"Huh? What'd I say?" he asked dumbly.
"Sesshomaru, I think you should wager your dignity," Kagome began as Sesshomaru's glare landed on her instead. "Meaning that the winner gets to decide on some embarrassing or degrading action for you to perform. Okay?"
"This Sesshomaru declines such a ridiculous notion," he attempted to regain control. "You will find a suitable alternative."
Kagome smirked, "Really, Sesshomaru, the only reason you would have for refusing the wager would be if you know you will lose. That's okay, you are free to back out and flee if you like." His glare intensified, at again being goaded into agreeing with her. He would be sure to punish her when this was all over.
"Hn," he barely nodded an agreement.
"It would seem you are the last that needs offer up a wager, Kagome," Naraku's slick voice sent unwanted chills up her spine.
"Oh, I know, Ramen, every flavor, as much as I can eat," Inuyasha suggested excitedly.
"I think not, half-breed," Sesshomaru countered.
"Might I make a suggestion?" Naraku inquired, having every intention of doing so anyways. "Your innocence." His sinister smirk spread wider as Kagome gulped, suddenly very uncomfortable as Naraku advanced on her, lifting her chin to make her look directly into his devilish eyes. "You did say it was to be your most valued possession. I can not think of anything a virgin priestess would value more than her purity."
This was not a scenario that would have ever crossed her mind. Sure, she was betting that Naraku would not win, due to the shear numbers against him, but what if Sesshomaru won. As her back-up plan, it was a very real possibility. But then, would he even be interested in such a thing; he is supposedly disgusted by humans, after all. And she highly doubted Inuyasha or Kouga being able to outsmart her, Sesshomaru, and Naraku. The answer was simple; she had to win.
"Deal," she said definitively, swiping his hand away. Dropping her bag and turning around to rifle through it, Kagome finally fished out her deck of poker cards. "Okay, the game is played as follows..."
(A/N: I have two chapters to post, but after that it might take a bit since I'm waiting for opinions before I'll write the ending(s). So, review if you want the wait to be shorter, via stimulating my muse, and the story more in depth.)