Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha.
(A/N: Sorry this took so long. *Looks at calendar.* Oh, its been less than a week… still, I felt my own self-imposed pressure. This is why I write several chapters ahead before posting anything, it don't produce well under pressure, but I think this turned out pretty good. Forgive any minor typos, I didn't let this sit and ferment before returning to it with a fresh mind like I usually do.)
Naraku noticed the pattern that Sesshomaru was employing, sitting back and only casting small wagers, letting his stack of chips dwindle until he had a strong hand and then going all in, drawing the most chips possible and resuming the lead. He would not allow him to do so again. This time, he was prepared. He would halt the dog's attempts to trap him and turn the tables, forcing him into a corner. It was approaching such a time, Naraku had regained a strong lead with 30, leaving Sesshomaru with only 20.
'As long as I keep this steadily climbing lead, Sesshomaru won't be able to catch up,' Naraku told himself. 'I will be victorious. The entire jewel will be mine, not to mention the bonuses of Inuyasha's only means to defend himself, Sesshomaru at my mercy, and that troublesome priestess's innocence. Four threats neutralized at once, I will have to thank the priestess for all but handing me this conquest. Hmm, what to do first with these prizes? Kouga, I have no use for him or his claim on the girl, since defiling her innocence would be a far sweeter a prize. I bet she would feel marvelous. So like, and yet unlike Kikyo; maybe that would finally satisfy Onigimo's tainted lust. Her humiliation would assist in darkening the jewel with twisted malice. What to do with the sword? Its not like I can wield it, but keeping it out of Inuyasha's hands renders him weakened, having none of his own strength. What if I were to offer it back to him if he watches Kagome being defiled? It would increase her mortification and transfer Inuyasha's hatred into the darkening jewel.' His smirk grew large at the thought. 'That only leaves Sesshomaru. What would get under the human-hating demon's skin the most? Of course, he hates humans, and the act of bedding one, would sully his name and body. I could have him be the one to take Kagome's innocence, with an audience. Displaying his shame for all to see. Laughing in the face of Sesshomaru's disgrace, the lasting sight of that would trump any brief lay.'
Sesshomaru was not one to miss the scent of arousal coming off of Naraku. It was not hard to figure out just which boon he was distracted with. 'Your wandering mind will be your undoing,' Sesshomaru noted without a single indication as to what he discovered. While Naraku was distracted, he had been bidding him up silently, placing a few chips at a time and watching Naraku match the bid each time. With 14 chips stacked up from each of them, Sesshomaru spoke, jolting Naraku out of his daydream, "All in."
'Ha, not this time Sesshoamru,' Naraku scoffed to himself. 'I'm not falling for that again.' "Fold," Naraku stated confidently, crossing his arms and flipping his hand showing a decent, but in no way winning hand.
Sesshomaru smirked and flipped his as well, revealing absolute garbage. He had successfully out manipulated Naraku. The dark demon was furious he got tricked after all, and let his anger show on his face and in his aura. "You may forfeit at any time, Naraku, and save yourself any further humiliation," Sesshomaru advised. His lead of 34 was now more than double Naraku's paltry 16.
Naraku tried to remind himself that he would recoup his losses, just as he always had, and this time, give it his entire attention. But that is not what happened, for Sesshomaru's passive tactics changed dramatically and he became aggressive, relentlessly battering down his opponent and bidding amounts Naraku could not compete with. Naraku began to panic, becoming desperate as his stack dwindled bit by bit. 5 chips, that's all he had left, and if he didn't do something soon, he'd lose those too, along with the jewel he'd worked so hard to gather and taint. As the next hand was dealt him, he made up his mind to turn this around and smirked approvingly at his hand. He placed 3 chips in the center and leaned back, appearing completely calm despite his desperate situation. Sesshomaru gave no reaction and simply matched the 3 chips. Naraku let a grin spread and declared, "All in." He was trying to scare Sesshomaru off and gain back some leverage, but Sesshomaru is not one to feel fear and matched the 5 chips while appearing dreadfully bored. Naraku frowned that his bluff was called, now it was all up to luck. If he would have learned one thing by now, in all his years of scheming, if should have been that luck is never on his side, and this was no exception. Even with a Straight, Sesshomaru still topped him with a Royal Flush. (A/N: And yes, I'm aware of how low the chances of this happening are, but still.) All eyes had been watching intently to learn the outcome, and when the cards were revealed, Kagome cheered with a squeal. Her exclamation was enough to inform the slower canines that Sesshomaru had won, the better option between the two demons.
Naraku sat back, a scowl on his face and his mind working furiously to salvage this situation, 'I still have Kohaku, so even if they gather the remaining pieces, I doubt it will be decided to end the boys life. That means I still have some time to remedy this situation. Sesshomaru has been offered the shards once before, by Kagura, and he declined, so I doubt he will want the jewel for himself. The jewel's guardian is not so strong of will to keep it from me. Worse case scenario, I simply have to take it back. This may even end with both the wolf and half-dog neutralized; Kouga's shards combined to the jewel and Sesshomaru taking Inuyasha's weapon. That only leaves Sesshomaru and the priestess-'
"Naraku," Sesshomaru addressed. "The jewel." He looked up to notice that he was surrounded, and with his heart currently in his body, he was vulnerable. Even with his barrier a short ways away, he would have to outrun Sesshomaru and Kouga to get to it. And even then, Inuyasha had the Red Tessaiga to break their way in if its location was revealed. He really had no choice but to hand it over. He wondered what Sesshomaru would do with it. The blackened jewel, with only a sliver missing, emerged from the flesh of his palm and he held it out for Sesshomaru to take it. He did not move to retrieve it, however, and only called to Kagome, "Miko, retrieve it." She nodded and rushed over to get the jewel before minds could be changed. Naraku watched as her lightest touch rid all the hard work he had put into making the jewel a beautiful black.
"It would seem your manipulation has worked, Kagome," Naraku pointed out, as she stood before him, not really having her as his target, but those listening instead, specifically the one who currently held power of the rest. "You even managed to con Lord Sesshomaru to do your bidding." As expected, the demon Lord narrowed his eyes at the insinuation that a mere human female exploited him. "Do not be angry at me, Lord Sesshomaru; I was not the one to orchestrate this scheme. It was the girl who played you, not I."
"What is your point?" Sesshomaru snapped, patience wearing thin at the picture Naraku was painting of him.
"I am merely making observations," Naraku spoke casually. "If it were I, I would be sure to punish her for her disrespect, but you may do as you please. Oh the tortures I could inflict…"
Kagome tensed, realizing what Naraku was doing, "Well, You are not the one who won, Sesshomaru is, and he gets to decide what to do, not you. I'm sure he's not near as cruel and won't go punishing me for this." She crossed her arms defiantly and turned to look at Sesshomaru, her confidence fell when he was looking at her with a scowl.
"You think to speak for me, Miko?" he was not happy about her actions, in getting him here or in assuming what he would do about her, and he let it show.
"I, uh, I mean…" she stuttered, left without words under his heavy gaze.
Kagome foolishly played right into Naraku's plan, "Lord Sesshomaru, I offer my services in implementing her punishment, so you need not waste you time on a weak mortal such as she. I will make her regret even thinking herself equal to you." 'Give her innocence to me, so that I may barter it back to her in return for the jewel she now holds. She will surely return it to me if it means escaping the fate I have planned for her,' he summarized his strategy in his mind. "Unless, of course, you desire to sully yourself by bedding with scum such as this."
(A/N: Now, take note that Naraku's suggestions/fantasies were the variety of endings I was debating on, but it seems more people call for Sesshomaru to win instead, so I opted for my other preference. This portrays both possibilities in one ending rather than working harder to spit out two.)
"Her 'punishment' shall be dealt by my own hands," Kagome flinched as Sesshomaru shut down any further attempts by Naraku to salvage his loss. "It would be wise to take this opportunity to flee, Vermin. I will exterminate you another day."
Recognizing that Sesshomaru saw right through him, he vanished in a swirl of miasma to behind his barrier. He could watch the rest of the proceedings from a safe distance.
"Why'd you let him go?" Inuyasha growled to his brother.
Instead of answering to his inferior, he turned his attention to collecting the remaining wagers, "you have something that belongs to me, Inuyasha."
"What? Still after my sword, are you?" Inuyasha placed his hand to the hilt, ready to fight for it once again.
"Stop, Inuyasha," Kagome spoke up. "This is why I was trying to keep you guys out of this challenge, I didn't want you to lose anything." She sighed sadly, "but you did wager Tessaiga in order to play, and Sesshomaru won, which means it now belongs to him."
"But, Kagome, I-" Inuyasha staggered.
"It would be dishonorable to dispute that fact," Kagome let that last thought drift around for Inuyasha to struggle with.
Inuyasha was obviously warring with himself over what to do, flexing his grip on the hilt of his precious sword. Didn't Sesshomaru know what would happen to him if he gave it up? He'd completely lose control of his demon blood the first time he got into a dangerous situation and kill everyone, even if they are friends. But if he didn't, Sesshomaru would probably try to kill him for being a shameful disgrace and his honor would be compromised. There was no competition; he'd gladly take the disgrace if it meant protecting his friends, even if it is from himself.
Before Inuyasha could decline, Sesshomaru spoke up, "I will allow you to keep that which controls your blood, if you acknowledge your inferiority and subordinate position in our lineage." Both Kagome and Inuyasha looked up in shock and confusion. They both thought Sesshomaru only wanted the sword.
'Is he really content to let Inuyahsa keep Tessaiga in exchange for a simple show of respect?' Kagome pondered, surprised at the show of generosity. 'Now that I think about it, he's always so calm and its Inuyasha losing his temper, throwing insults, and starting fights.'
Inuyasha on the other-hand, had a whole new dilemma to worry over. As much as he hated his brother and despised the idea of submitting, it was favorable to becoming a danger to all those he cared about and losing his very soul. With great difficulty, he let his head bow, a pained expression on his face the whole time as he slowly slipped down onto his knees, "I, I submit, Sesshomaru." Kagome covered her mouth with her hands to muffle her sympathy for her dear friend's emotional pain. She knew he was very prideful and this was difficult for him.
"Whoa, Mutt," Kouga took the opportunity to further humiliate his rival. "I never knew you were this pathetic."
"Wolf," Sesshomaru's voice turned on him, "you will give the jewel shards in your legs to the priestess, then leave. You have no business here."
"What, no way!" Kouga got into fighting stance.
'Not this again,' Kagome shook her head. "Kouga, you wagered your claim on me and the completed jewel was another wager. Please just hand them over, I don't want to see you get hurt."
"You don't think I can defeat Sesshomaru?" he stepped back as if slapped.
Kagome sighed, "No, Kouga, I don't think anyone can beat him." Her honest words flattered him, but he did not show it and just watched her try to handle the situation. 'With Tenseiga on his hip, he's invinsible. Yet, I highly doubt he would need it for any opponent besides the very swords his father wielded, meaning Inuyasha,' she pondered.
"Then I'll just have to prove to you how strong I am," Kouga lunged at the demon lord, but even with his jewel enhanced speed, his attack was sidestepped and followed by a glowing green acid whip that accurately sliced both jewels from the demon's legs, leaving them to land right at Kagome's feet. It was a blessing that Sesshomaru left him alive.
"This is your last warning, Wolf," Sesshomaru spoke, two fingers held up and ready to strike. "Leave." Struggling to his feet, instincts on high alert, Kouga knew now that he hadn't a chance. He backed away before turning and staggered back towards his pack.
There was only one more reward to collect. "Miko," Sesshomaru addressed, noting how her short kimono revealed more skin on her legs as she leaned over.
Kagome jolted when Sesshomaru addressed her, causing her to drop the two shards she was bent over picking up. Quickly gathering them, she stood straight, quivering in worry over just what Sesshomaru was going to do to her. Inuyasha could not help her, he already submitted, meaning he agreed to no longer fight his brother; she was on her own. "Y-yes, Lord S-Sesshomaru?" she stuttered.
"Come," was all he instructed before turning and walking away. She trembled even more, but figured her punishment would be even more severe if she disobeyed now.
'He must be mad at me for tricking him into helping me, but I didn't have a choice. If I had challenged Naraku on my own, I would have lost everything to him, and even if I had managed to win, who is to say Naraku would have even abided by the rules and handed over the jewel,' she rationalized her action. 'He must realize this, right?' "I'm sorry for the way I went about gaining your help, Sesshomaru, I was only trying to prevent more suffering because of this stupid jewel. I had to get it away from Naraku and knew it was unlikely I could do so without help. I needed to bring in someone who could out strategize him, and you were the only one who came to mind. I really meant no harm-"
Sesshomaru said nothing as she continued on her one-sided explanation. He realized she probably thought he was taking her somewhere to torture her, just as Naraku had suggested earlier, putting those foul ideas into her head. He hadn't really given any indication for or against such possibilities. She had no idea just what, exactly, he desired. Unbeknownst to all of them, Naraku had done him a favor in proposing her innocence as her entrance cost. It had been a persistent urge in the depths of his instincts, an urge he repeatedly suppressed, along with so many other basal actions, but one that continued to resurface. Every time he encountered her in his brother's little pack, his beast would roar at him once again, demanding her to be splayed beneath him and accept his desires.
Tuning back into her rambling, he heard her continue to beg forgiveness, "-so you see, I really didn't have any other choice. I'm sorry, please don't hurt me."
"Did it ever occur to you to simply ask for my assistance?" his simple question brought her to a dead silence.
That was not the response she had been expecting, "Ask you? But, I didn't think you would ever listen to a mere human…"
"You are correct," his strides not slowing in the slightest. "I do not heed humans."
"See, so that really was my only choice," she repeated.
"You are more than a mere human," at her confused sound he continued. "You are Miko; you hold your own power." 'A power I desire to experience,' he added in his mind. It really was an irritating thing how demonic energy was so drawn to the purity of ones such as she.
"I do?" he didn't answer, leaving her to think over his words. 'I wonder if he would have helped me if I simply asked him. That certainly seems the case from what he just implied.' Her mood seemed to improve, just by the little bit he talked to her, and the cheerier she got, the brighter her aura shone. "I was wondering, where are we going?"
"Where we will not be interrupted," he answered her simply.
"Oh, where is that- Wait, interrupted? What won't be interrupted?" she panicked again, but continued to pace after him, her short legs having to take twice as many steps to maintain the brisk speed. She was sure that was just proof that he was going to punish or torture her, and just when she was finally calming down, too.
Before she could complete a step, he spun and pinned her against the nearest tree trunk. She clamped her eyes shut in fear of what he was going to do to her. Had he finally gotten upset at her constant talking? Her eyes snapped back open when she felt his body press hard into hers, "Your innocence, belongs to me." She was stunned silent, both by the feral look in his golden eyes and his declaration. She never would have thought he would have any interest in her. He was a crush she nipped in the bud due to its incredulous likelihood, but here he was, pressed up against her so intimately, declaring her purity to be his to take. All worries of torture and incomparable pain evaporated into those never explored, wayward desires.
That evening was definitely one to remember, from the time he shredded her clothes it was filled with mind-numbing indulgence. The raw, sinful things he did to her would be branded into her mind for the rest of her life. Looking back, this was the best possible outcome, for she won not only the jewel, but also the most pleasurable experience of her life. It was a gamble worth taking.
(A/N: I'll leave it at this for now, but may make an alternate ending at some, indeterminate point.)