The Depths of my Reflection
Pairing: Undecided. It was going to be Sesshoumaru/Kagome but I'm sort of leaning toward Naraku/Kagome. We'll see how it goes, if it goes anywhere. The status of this piece is officially undecided.
The entire piece is written in first person-Kagome.
I don't know how long I stood there. Peering into the mirror, but the reflective glass was deceiving. My eyes were no longer my own, my soft, clean hair wasn't my own feature anymore. No, I thought sadly. Even my name meant nothing. Not really anyway. I was the walking, living shadow of a semi-legendary miko that had died protecting the accursed Shikon no Tama. I was nothing more than the reincarnate of a miko called Kikyo. I had no value beyond that which Kikyo had stood for.
I was the moving picture of a memory that wouldn't die. A twin image of a girl that had been revived but not truly renewed to life. An image that was corrupt by hated, a true mockery of her old self. No, I was that true self and I hated it.
My own mind rebelled against such observations. I wasn't anyone's reincarnate. I was Kagome. For 15 years I had been Higurashi Kagome, just Kagome. I reminded no one of anyone but me. I had never fallen in love with one, although I had been lucky enough to be admired by some.
I had never been subject the heartbreak that now plagued me daily upon each new day or the closing of one. I had never been set aside for someone else, and had to suffer the humiliation and heart wrenching pain repeatedly. I sighed to myself and lowered the mirror.
Across the field, Sango and Miroku were talking. Shippou and Kirara had gone off too, but I didn't know where. When that particular part of the conversation had taken place I had been sitting where I was now. Across the field, alone, reflecting, thinking, pitying.
Inuyasha was also gone. It had taken but a moment to notice the slinky bodies of the soul stealing youkai that Kikyo employed and he hadn't missed a step in going after them. Rather than following I had plopped down into this field of wild grass and flowers and hadn't moved since.
I was envious. I wished someone would care about me so much as to drop everything and everyone at a moment's notice and come after me. Inuyasha came to my aid but it wasn't the same. He'd never forget Kikyo, and I wasn't sure I wanted him too, but I'd never be as special as her. Inuyasha was my first love but Kikyo was his. It was an unpleasant reality but one I couldn't escape.
Hauling myself up, I took one glance at Sango and Miroku. Miroku was inching closer and I smiled noticing one of his hands was moving toward Sango slowly. I turned away from the sight and stalked off into the surrounding forest. I prayed silently to myself that no matter where I ended up or with whom that it wasn't Kikyo and Inuyasha. Anyone at all but them, I'd had enough of interrupting their private conversations. I couldn't take another one.
It was the sound of joyful laughter that both startled and confused me. How many people laughed happily in the middle of a forest? I didn't move toward it but was curious about it. Rather, I kept on the path I was on, one that led away from the laughter.
Each step took me farther away from my friends. Farther away from Sango and Miroku. Two of the people who I valued dearly. Valued them especially because I never worried about them seeing Kikyo in me. I was just Kagome, I always had been and I always would be. Because with them, it was me, not Kikyo who had come first.
I didn't know where I was, but the fear of being lost hadn't hit me yet. I could, theoretically turn back at any time and find my way back. After all, I had gone in a straight line, I could conceivably find my way back, right? I wasn't concerned with it at the moment. I didn't want to think about them, Sango and Miroku, or Shippou, or Kikyo and least of all, Inuyasha. I didn't want to go home but I didn't want to stay here. I needed a break.
I was blissfully unaware of everything but the unmarked path in front of me. Only a blur of movement caused me to stop. It hadn't been in any way threatening, and I didn't see anyone. There were no Shikon shards about either, but that didn't mean that a youkai wasn't lurking in the trees ready to rip me in two.
I paused and waited. Movement again. I turned to my left but the youkai that appeared apparently wasn't going to hide. He stood in full view of me silently and motionless.
"Sesshoumaru," I commented idly.
Of all people to encounter, I'd never expected him.
He said nothing but stared at me.
"It's been a while since I've seen you," I remarked, more to myself than to him thinking he wouldn't appreciate me talking to him.
"Are you that pathetically stupid, human?"
"Unfortunately sometimes it seems that I am," I replied, turning my gaze away.
Perhaps my comment surprised him, for he said nothing further.
"Why? Have I done something particularly stupid and not realized it yet?"
"You are without the company of the hanyou and without your annoying weapon."
"There is little I can do about that when he abandons company with me," I replied unable to repress the note of bitterness that had arose suddenly.
"One or another I suppose, all humans have the same worth to you, don't they?" I was bitter, so what? Didn't I have right to be?
It was clearly rhetorical and he didn't comment but he didn't leave either.
"Are you aiming to rid the world of me today, or just wandering around?" I turned back toward him. I moved not bodily, only my gaze.
Sesshoumaru was standing stoically as he did. His stance and appearance alone boasted of his proud, and important upbringing. His presence spoke of his superiority. At least, it would to him. It didn't bother me one way or another whose son he was, or that he was Inuyasha's brother. It didn't matter even that he was a demon, albeit a Royal One.
His appearance too was deceitful but differently than mine. Underneath that beautiful face and false body he walked about in, was a demon heart. Beneath the fine kimono and battle armor was the true Sesshoumaru- a towering demon dog with blood red eyes and fluffy masses of white fur. Perhaps his ability to walk about in this human-like form was a subtle hint of his power. Hadn't someone told me that only the most powerful demons could take human forms, or had I imagined that?
Either way the thought didn't really matter, did it?
He hadn't answered my question, I realized, but didn't press him about it. He was right. I was stupid. I had walked off because I was feeling depressed and weepy. I had walked away from the protection of my friends and even without means of defending myself.
Sesshoumaru was completely right. I was an idiot.
"You're right of course. How utterly stupid of me to be carried away on emotions without thinking of the dangers, but it's too late. I've already encountered the most danger I could get myself into,"
I, of course, meant him. Other demons I might be able to handle, if I had my bow. But Inuyasha had said himself. Sesshoumaru was not an enemy that could be defeated easily, and certainly not by a miko's arrow, let alone mine. Maybe Kikyo could've put up a fight, but I'd fall like a loose tree branch in a storm.
I was never anything to compete with him. I never would be. He was superior to me. He had right then for his arrogance, but I couldn't help the way I was born. He was a demon and I was human.
Maybe the others were looking for me now, but I was caught. Held firm and steady in the gaze of the golden-eyed demon lord who was staring at me. They both have gold eyes, I thought absently, but Sesshoumaru's were different.
Sharper, I realized. Sesshoumaru's eyes were sharper; perhaps age or experience had brought that and marked it in his eyes.
"Find me fascinating, human?"
I smiled. "You're brothers- but nothing alike. That's interesting, isn't it?"
"No," he growled.
"I suppose it wouldn't be to you."
I wasn't aware that he was coming toward me at first, having averted my gaze, but it was all too apparent all too soon. He didn't look menacing but his silence was threatening enough and his movement was even more so.
Armless. He was one arm short of complete demon supremacy, I thought vaguely before he loomed before me, glancing down apathetically as though he were about to squash a bug.
"Have you missed me much, woman?"
My eyebrows shot up in surprise. He hadn't remarked on our previous encounters alone, the two of them there had been. The first time had been an accident. I'd encountered him by the Bone Eater's Well when I'd returned one evening. Inuyasha had been absent; it wasn't hard to figure out why when the slinky youkai of Kikyo's streaked across the night sky. There were few reasons for Inuyasha to abandon me but Kikyo was the truest and most consistent.
The other time too had been unintended. Neither was important. A battle had not taken place between them. Both times he had been alone without Jaken and Rin and I couldn't begin to guess where the two were. He had twice allowed me to slip through his fingers, freely and unharmed. We had no business together but now we had run into one another again. A third time and alone no less, was it coincidence?
Perhaps his take on the situation was different than mine? What did he mean, miss me much', did he think I was looking for him?
"You're not really all that pleasant company honestly," I replied daringly. "Seeing as you seem to hold the threat of death over my head without ever breathing a word of intent to do so. "
"You are human," he spat, but only stepped closer, and I stepped back accordingly. "We have nothing in common, why are we together?"
Was he really asking? I had no clue why we were here, but they were and not for the first time. The one hand he had he brought up and grasped my chin firmly. I could feel the fine, sharp points of his claws as they rested against my flesh. I wondered then, where Inuyasha was. Not to rescue me, but to see me. What would he do if he caught me with Sesshoumaru the way I caught him with Kikyo?
"We aren't together," I heard myself respond.
I pulled my head back sharply, and it slid out of his grasp gently. My gaze flew right harshly, eyes narrowing. There was no mistaking the feel, the pull of the Shikon on my senses. Sesshoumaru, responding to my alarm stepped back and turned slightly in that direction.
I barely registered his movement as a branch of the tree a few feet off to my right cracked eerily before shooting straight downward. I screamed, running forward out of the path of the huge branch now about to crash to the forest floor. It hit the ground with a harsh, final thud, leaves falling, and dirt clouding the air.
I didn't see Sesshoumaru anywhere, but there were the twitching remains of an unidentifiable youkai scattered about a small area by the tree. I quickly began searching for the shard, hoping to find it before the creature returned to life and smiled victoriously to myself when I did. I extracted it from the warm, gooey flesh with a grimace, as the body decayed rapidly to dust and blew away. I held the shard in my hand. Now I was a moving target with the Shikon shard on my person, I sighed. There could be no helping that now, but how would I explain this to Inuyasha?
He'd never believe I got it on my own. I could always lie, but that didn't seem right. I'd simply slip it into the jar and not say anything; he was likely not to notice anyway.
"Another piece of the damn jewel,"
I gasped, whirling around. "You know," I breathed. "You are really alarming, sneaking up on people like that,"
He gave me no reply, but was instead staring at the hand with the jewel shard in it.
"You don't want it, do you?"
"Only fools and weaklings need magic to increase their power," he growled.
"So I can have it?"
"I care not," was his detached reply.
I paused. "Well then for whatever reasons you killed that thing thank you."
"Then you are in my debt woman,"
"Eh?" He didn't actually want something? "I-I guess so,"
He looked smug and victorious and I was bewildered. Had he won something over me?
"Return to the stupid hanyou," he ordered me suddenly.
I almost became indignantly angry and snapped at him when he grabbed the collar of my uniform shirt and turned me in that direction and pushed me tactlessly forward. I stumbled but didn't fall and twirled around, but he was gone. Not even a rustle of leaves gave hint of the direction he'd disappeared in.
I sighed heavily and paused one moment more and then took off running back toward the grassy clearing. I didn't travel far before I heard Miroku and Sango calling out desperately for me, and I returned to the group as he told me. But the strange encounter didn't vanish, but only plagued me further.
After a short inquiry, I had managed to quell the curiosities of my friends. We were all again settled in the clearing. Sango and Miroku were having a discussion that was laced with weakly disguised flirtations. I felt like taking another walk but didn't. I didn't want to run into Sesshoumaru again, charmingly dangerous as he was. I was quieter than normal when Inuyasha returned and I think everyone noticed but no one said anything. Not even Inuyasha.
Rather he declared we call it a night and set up camp where we were and hurriedly draped himself in a tree, lounging. But his thoughts were with her, which was obvious enough to everyone. I looked down and tried to avoid eye contact or talking to him for the rest of the night, not entirely because of Kikyo, Sesshoumaru had a large part in that too.
The thought that I was in debt to him' plagued me continuously for the weeks following. Sometimes, the thought would appear out of nowhere. I had been right, Inuyasha had never noticed the Shikon shard that I had acquired due to Sesshoumaru.
We returned to Kaede's village soon after. I sat alone in one of the huts. No friendly fire blazed, it was dim and cold. The patter of rain outside seemed to make sitting by yourself even lonelier. The rain subsided, and as it did, I felt suddenly tired and drained. I grabbed my yellow bag and stepped outside into the misty gray afternoon. The ground was wet, puddles were scattered sporadically about me. I walked forward through the delicate haze, entering into Inuyasha's forest.
I stalked into Inuyasha's forest, off somewhere to my right where the clear sights and sounds of a battle, but there was no presence of a Shikon shard, so I didn't need to be there. Rather, I used the opportunity to head toward the well; if Inuyasha was busy he couldn't stop me from leaving. I grinned to myself anticipating the joyful feeling of a meager victory over the hanyou.
However the further I went the more I became uneasy. There was an agitation in the surrounding woodland that was disconcerting. Things didn't feel or sound the way they should have. The gray afternoon sky didn't help things feel anymore cheery but added to the sopping, unwelcoming atmosphere of the encompassing wilderness.
I wasn't paying as close attention to my surroundings as I should have, when I was suddenly grabbed roughly and moved beyond human speed backward. I did hear the quiet displacement of air as an arrow shot unnervingly close past my head. Only then did I come to the realization of two things. Kikyo was dangerously close and shooting arrows at me and that it was Sesshoumaru that had come to my rescue, but there wasn't any time for talking.
There was no time to thank Sesshoumaru or to run or yell anything at Kikyo. I couldn't ask her what on earth she was thinking- it was pointless anyway. She was a miko corrupted by hatred; naturally she would hate me too. After all, I was connected to Inuyasha in a way that most definitely threatened Kikyo's territory' wasn't I? I was so sick of the whole situation.
A glittering cloud swirled and formed around my feet and I was suddenly lifted up off the ground. Another arrow shot upward toward us, but Sesshoumaru merely extended and arm and caught the arrow between two fingers before it melted. Now that I'd seen before, having tried the same exact thing, but neither time had it worked, not for Kikyo, not for me.
"You know," I mumbled. "That's very impressive when it's not my arrow you're melting."
When he pulled his arm away, the arm I had been clutching to since we were pulled magically off the ground, I threw myself around his waist fearfully. If he was going to travel with me, he had to warn me about stuff like this. I only seen him with the cloud thing once and I didn't fully trust it, so if it suddenly evaporated underneath me, I at least wanted something to hold onto and he was the only thing around.
"What did you do that for?"
"Save your pitiable human hide?" he asked as though he were enjoying insulting me and enjoying it even more because I'd given him occasion to do so.
"I told you wench, you owe me. I'm not about to let Inuyasha's bitch interfere with what is Sesshoumaru's."
"Excuse me?" I snapped before I could think better of it. "I am not a possession, regardless of what you think I owe you!"
"Quiet or I will drop you," he calmly replied.
I was feeling bold so I continued. "Oh? I thought you needed me for something?"
He didn't so much as spare me a glance. "Unfortunately that is the case."
"You still haven't said what for."
"Nor do I intend to, so shut up," he ordered.
I huffed. Stupid egotistical males, they were more alike than I gave either of them credit for. The beauty of the scenery beneath me held no appeal. I was on a very dangerous floating cloud with an even more dangerous youkai lord that wanted me for unknown reasons. I sighed to myself, only I could get into so much trouble.
During the trip I pulled away from Sesshoumaru's kimono and reattached myself to his arm, he didn't seem to notice or was tactfully ignoring me. I guessed it was the latter. I gripped his arm tightly as we began to descend quite rapidly, shutting my eyes tightly, almost wincing when I felt my feet touch solid, albeit damp ground.
I had never been so happy to be standing on my own I almost danced around in circles. But seeing how he was giving me strange looks, I did not.
"Eh so, what do you want, anyway?"
"It's come to my attention that you are a miko with unusual abilities."
He was now in the process of walking away from me. He didn't turn back, stop, or even slow his pace but kept walking, so I followed dutifully. I wasn't about to be left out here alone at least with him I was afforded some protection although I don't know how much.
"Really, how did such a thing come to your attention?" I asked conversationally.
"Do you, or not?"
"That depends, of course, on what type of abilities you need me for." I replied hoping I sounded cryptic or mysterious but knowing really that I didn't.
He stopped. "I was told that you can see things others cannot, and that you are immune to Naraku's toxic miasma."
"Oh, those things? Sure, I thought you were going to ask for something hard like spell casting or barriers, I can't do that kind of thing," I replied. "How'd you find out about that anyway?"
"It matters not." He replied and continued walking. "Naraku has stolen something that belongs to me, I want you to get it back."
"That sounds hazardous on every possible level. Why don't you get it back?" I inquired audaciously.
"I just told you why woman, pay attention!" he barked. "At the center of the Western Lands is the Western Estate. There are two youkai guards at the front of the entryway. Naraku has afflicted my guards with Shikon shards and enclosed my mansion in the black miasma, making it inaccessible."
"Why don't you just kill the guards?"
"Did I not explain it already?" he replied short temperedly.
I sighed. "I guess so," I replied weakly. "Although I really can't imagine why you need me for this task it seems trivial."
"Finding amusement in my plight will shorten your lifespan considerably."
He didn't even turn in my direction, but his voice seemed to exude seriousness. Was it more dangerous than he was saying? Of course anything with Naraku was dangerous but still, it didn't make any sense for the Lord of the Western Lands to need me.
"So, what if I can't help?"
"Then you will die in the effort of doing so."
I rolled my eyes. "Really, why don't you just tell me I should be honored at being given the opportunity to serve the great Lord of the Western Lands?"
"Finally realize that, did you?"
I growled but he ignored my attitude and me. What a jerk. It wasn't hard to tell when we were approaching the castle. The air became thick and I could sense two Shikon shards on the edge of my senses. I noticed Sesshoumaru stopped but I did not. I yelped rather as Sesshoumaru's body collided with mine and we both impacted against a tree, with me taking the brunt of the crash. A stream of crescent shaped blades of energy tore down the path where we had been standing kicking up dirt and all sorts of rocks. I straightened painfully feeling my entire torso protesting in pain before most of it lessened but I could already feel the bruises forming.
Great, I thought. Kagura was here too. I didn't see her, but that wasn't really the pressing issue. Rather, Sesshoumaru was still embarrassingly close, I could feel the warmth of his body seeping into mine, as he remained pressed against me.
"I'll distract the bitch, free my castle!"
"With what? My bare hands, that'd be quite a feat," I snapped irritably as he put his one arm around me and leaped back as Kagura attacked again.
"Do not doubt me wench! I've brought a bow and arrows for you to use, they're ahead on the path. You'll need to find them on your own. I am going no further than this!"
I sighed, his arm around my body was rather painful considering the crash from earlier.
"Miko's arrows?" I asked wondering why it mattered at the moment.
He gave no reply as he continued to dodge as Kagura attacked. She had spoken but both of them had ignored her. He rushed forward suddenly and thrust me forward. Taking a deep breath I stepped inside the black curtain of miasma and disappeared from his sight.
Kagura did not pursue me. I was completely alone in the hazy darkness of Naraku's evil fog and without a bow. I had to find it on my own. I wondered then, why I was helping the obnoxious youkai lord.
Perhaps, I thought as I stumbled forward, that I was being charmed by that badass attitude and beautiful face. No one could deny the appeal Sesshoumaru held over others. Youkai or not, he was most certainly eye-catching, but I pushed the thoughts aside, I couldn't think about things like that right now.
I tripped when my foot struck an object at my feet, and as I hit the ground I registered the feel of a familiar string tension. The bow! I quickly grabbed the bow and slung the quiver of arrows across my chest and daringly proceeded forward. It just barely occurred to me that I had completely lost my mind.
I walked forward aimlessly, not thinking, at least trying not to. Each step took me closer to the supposed mansion' in front of me, but I didn't see it. The vapor was thick, but I remained unaffected by its evil presence.
I paused suddenly, stopping as I felt a chill run down my spine and turned back the way I came. What was this bad feeling? Had something happened to Sesshoumaru? I couldn't tell anything. Following my instincts strung an arrow in the borrowed bow and let it loose flying backward toward Sesshoumaru.
He'd hate the interruption of his battle for certain but he'd get over it. The cloud of miasmas surrounding the arrow was burned away as it created a light trail. I wasn't even sure that the arrow would travel far enough because I wasn't sure how far I'd walked.
I was hoping that Sesshoumaru would appear beside me and scold me for interfering and call me a stupid wench or human or anything as long as I wasn't alone. But he didn't, I was alone. Alone and risking my life for a youkai that couldn't care less about me, what was wrong with me?
I turned and kept on the path unaccompanied by anyone but the darkness. I was fast approaching the mansion, or at least one of the guards as the presence of the Shikon grew stronger. It was very close now.
Feeling as though it were before me, I dove behind a tree fearfully. I am such a coward. I watched in mute horror as a huge youkai guard stalked past by me without notice. How did he expect me to kill that!? Clearly someone had given him an outrageous account of my abilities!
The thing had to be ten feet or more tall and half the width of my house! Gathering my courage I strung an arrow and pulled it back, praying for strength and a true, straight path to the enemy as fervently as I could do silently and released the arrow.
It glowed lighting it's own path as it struck the youkai in the center of the back, immediately puncturing a great hole through it's chest. I ran forward and searched him for the shard when I found it upon its forehead. I snatched it quickly before the youkai could recuperate and quickly ran for cover again. The demon didn't get up again, but lie there bleeding. I didn't know if it was dead and I didn't want to find out, so I quickly ran in another direction.
I was hoping the other one would go down as easy but somehow I had a sinking foreboding feeling that it wouldn't. I felt the approach of the demon through the shard on its body. It was faster than the other one or no!
It knew I was here, I realized too late as the demon slashed through the dark mist, just missing my body but tearing into the flesh of my slender forearm painfully. I wasn't fast enough to dodge it; this thing was going to kill me, if I didn't figure something out! I couldn't hide in the mist, somehow it sensed me; maybe it smelled me. It would be easier for it to find me now that I was bleeding.
He dove forward but I wasn't quick enough and he caught my right arm and I felt the force of the impact cause a subtle crack. No! My arm! It hurt from my wrist to my shoulder. It exploded in a firestorm of pain, but I'd be in more pain if I didn't kill the youkai. Grabbing an arrow with my left hand I slammed it with all the force I could muster into his back, not expecting any damage at all. The tip of the arrow shot out a white light and sank into his flesh. I grabbed the Shikon shard from its forehead with my last coherent thought.
I rallied myself up and stumbled forward. My arm was killing me but the pain had subsided somewhat. The body's natural painkillers were kicking in but they wouldn't last long and the pain would be back full force. I stumbled blindly forward, my eyes blurry from angry, painful tears. I was on the verge of emotional breakdown caught between desolate loneliness and anger.
How long had it been since Sesshoumaru had sent me in here? An hour? Two? More? Less? It hurt to breathe; perhaps I'd impacted that tree earlier harder than I thought. The panting from the exhaustive battle really didn't help.
Spotting a grassy knoll underneath a tree I staggered toward it and sank down at its base. Such a nice place to rest. The last thing I felt was my head fall back against the rough bark of the tree.
When my vision cleared I was in a dim room lying on a futon. A thin white blanket was spread over my prone body. My head lie comfortably against a small pillow. The room was weakly lit and I appeared to be alone. To my right was a wall of shoji screens that had a strange fuchsia backlight making them appear to glow.
I sat up with some difficulty, my head ached dully, and my arm hurt at every shift or jar. By the time I managed to sit myself up, my blanket was ruffled at my feet.
There was a candle lit by the window and it was flickering delicately. I turned when I heard the familiar sound of a sliding door.
"Ah, you've awakened, the Master will be so pleased."
A small, human woman stood in the doorway. She had a garment folded in her arms. She stepped inside and slid the door closed again.
"Please allow me to assist you in dressing, my Master will wish to see you soon,"
I groaned in pain as she came closer kneeling down beside me.
"Who's your master?" I asked curiously, half fearfully.
She looked up. "The Great Lord Sesshoumaru," she replied.
Eh? I watched her wearily. Sesshoumaru, employing humans? I immediately doubted her but didn't verbally say so. Rather I nodded silently and stood up, allowing her to assist my out of my tattered-
My school uniform was gone! I had apparently had been cleaned and redressed in a thin white kimono. She helped me slip into the new, fine white patterned kimono. I reveled silently at its beauty, but didn't remark upon it to the woman. The servant woman smiled weakly and withdrew from the room.
I froze as an arm wrapped around me, enclosing me, from shoulder to shoulder and pulling me back against a warm body.
Was Sesshoumaru holding me? The thin, pale arm had two magenta streaks at the wrist and was wrapped in a white kimono. I turned my head to the right; a soft bundle of white hair fell over my shoulder.
His hand trailed back, across my collarbone, the sharp points of his claws pressingly threateningly through my kimono and I shivered in response. I couldn't help the reaction, it was automatic, my body betrayed me, and I couldn't help but find the danger of those claws somewhat appealing. Even more appealing was his gentle use of them only furthering my attraction.
"What are you doing?" I asked, my heart pounding quickly in my chest.
As his hand trailed father, closer to the bottle of Shikon shards about my neck, they lit suddenly and shot out a white light. He drew his hand back sharply as though burned. He drew away silently.
I twirled about and stared at his retreating back. What was going on? I scampered to my feet and followed him down the hall. At the end of the hall we took a right and he stopped in front of a sliding door and pulled it open slightly.
"Oh!" My eyes lit up. "Hot springs!"
He turned and moved away and I slipped into the room, sliding the door closed behind me. With some difficulty I managed to discard the kimono covering my body and dropped it at the edge of the water before sinking into the hot pool.
The shards however remained bound at my neck. What had happened? Was I asleep? I wondered suspiciously. This was too much like a weird dream, although the pain in my right arm was all too real. I sank it further into the water, completely immersing it. It had swollen, and was now horribly bruised and discolored. Still, these were more the symptoms for fracture instead of break. I sighed relaxing into the water.
What was worrying me was Sesshoumaru. Even more so than his unusual behavior was how the Shikon shards had reacted to him. I'd never seen the shards repel anyone like that. Although suspicious, I wasn't sure what to make of it. All the times we'd met I'd never seen him handle a shard with the exception of that one time when he'd had one in his arm. Even then he hadn't been trying to take it from me.
Could if have been because he is evil and the shards are pure with me? The possibilities seemed endless, and the doubts continued to nag me, even when I left the bath and retired to my room again.
It was the same dimly lit, relatively empty room that greeted me upon my return. I was informed that Master' Sesshoumaru was out and that I was to await his return in my room. That brought more questions.
Where were Rin and Jaken?
I scoffed at my masters' instructions and, securing my kimono about me, I headed toward the doors. I slid one open and glanced around. It opened onto a veranda and beyond it a garden. There was a tall, stone wall at the edge of the garden and past that I could see the tops of the forest I'd come out of.
I was in Sesshoumaru's mansion, which could be concluded to be truth.
"Leaving me, so soon?" a deep voice purred from behind me.
Not good, I thought, not good at all. I turned and smiled.
"Just wanted some air, that's all," I lied.
He could probably tell but what did it matter? He should've known I'd escape. He knew me better than this whether he wanted to admit to it or not, he did. We'd talked on our previous encounters, sure they weren't sit-down heart-to-hearts, but it was discussion.
He reached out and grasped the ornate sleeve of my kimono and tugged me inside, leaving the door open a crack as I had left it. Rather I was pulled to the floor rather roughly, too quickly to shield my arm from the impact of the unexpected trip and it resonated with pain for a few agonizing seconds.
"What'd you do that for?" I snapped.
He had moved from in front of me to behind me. Apparently he was on the floor as well as I could feel him breathing past my ear. I wasn't sure whether to shrink away or not.
"You don't wish to leave already, do you wench?"
How could someone sound so seductive and still be such a jerk? Thought vanished however as I felt his cold, clawed hand on my ankle. My breath caught sharply as my heart began to pound loudly. A blush crept across my cheeks as his hand trailed up the curve of my calf and then up and around to my knee. The kimono crumpled as he moved higher, sliding his cold hand along the top of my thigh.
What the hell was I doing allowing this?! But I was fixed, staring back at him with those mesmerizing gold eyes, following the progress of his hand only by it's frigid touch upon my skin. Reality seemed to strike me harshly as his hand slid down to my inner thigh.
My left hand shot out and I fully expected to slap that damned smug expression off his gorgeous face but the contact wasn't forthcoming. Instead of connecting with his face, he'd caught my hand and was now holding it by my wrist in his grip, still smirking haughtily at me. I growled in displeasure, but it only amused him further.
"Most humans aren't so spirited," he contemplated aloud. "They usually accept their fate or they attempt to flee from it."
"What has fate to do with anything? Why am I the one reminding you, you don't like humans!" I snapped.
It was a good and bad thing he had a hold of my wrist because it was suddenly hard to sit up without supporting myself and I couldn't put my other hand down.
He grinned weakly. "One can always make exceptions."
I attempted to scoot, or otherwise slip away from him but could not. Rather, I was pushed down onto the cold wood floor and could only stare up in horror. My voice had suddenly abandoned me. Oh no, he wasn't really going to-
Where is Tensaiga? I blinked. There was no sword at his waist; I'd never seen him without it before. Reflection wasn't an option as he was sudden looming in my face. I attempted futilely to squiggle out of his grip, but my wounded arm impeded me as did his demon strength and I was trapped half underneath him.
His lips pushed upon mine harshly. The sharp points of his teeth pressed down on my bottom lip. I squeezed my eyes tight; tears brimmed behind the closed lids and escaped sliding down my cheeks.
I couldn't open my eyes, even when he pulled his mouth away from my own. I shivered when I felt his tongue slither up my cheek, leaving a saliva trail where my tears had fallen.
"Open your eyes!"
Afraid of what he might do, I complied and looked up at him. The gold orbs seemed to glow in the half dark room. He was grinning again. Nothing made any sense. Something was wrong.
He stiffened suddenly, momentarily before returning the now lustful gaze down at me again. The feel of the Shikon pervaded my sense. Shikon I thought. Too many to be anyone but Naraku. I panicked and attempted with more energy to rid myself of my youkai captor.
"Have you lost your mind? Naraku is here!" I grimaced, moaning in pain as he slammed my injured arm against the floor.
I opened my eyes weakly, squinting against the pain. Left arm? I closed them again as he assaulted my injured arm in his tight grip. Left arm? Left arm?
My eyes flew open in horror and surprise. Left arm! It was his damn left arm! Without full realization of my actions I raised my left hand, with an open palm to his chest. The room was lit by a flash of bright light, I felt the power leave my hand although I was just short of clueless as how to tap in to such power without my arrows.
He flew back away from me, disintegrating into a speckle of blue lights that faded into nothing.
A trap, I thought weakly. It was all a trap, nothing but another of Naraku's detachments.
Then it was there, upon me, Naraku was in the room.
"I thought you would have been more receptive to the youkai lord with as much time as you've been spending with him. Does Inuyasha know you want his brother?"
I struggled to raise myself from the floor, groaning in pain. I hadn't heard him move but he had somehow ended up behind me, wrapping his arms around me and helping me up, surprisingly gently.
He ran a hand down the side of my face, examining me.
"He was too rough was he?"
"What are you doing here?" I spat.
"Visiting that damn pest, Sesshoumaru. I wasn't expecting him to bring you along, what a nice surprise." He grinned the grin of evil planning as though this was the best news he'd heard in weeks.
His hands still held me but they were merely resting against me.
"Ah but you are an appealing sight, tousled, injured, delicate skin just begging to be raked across in the throes of a wild passion."
I gasped softly, unable to turn my eyes away from his, hypnotized it seemed by his very presence. I had no idea Naraku, or anyone could be so enthralling, so utterly heart stopping, or in this case, heart pounding. My blood was racing through my body as though it wished to flee from the source of its terror.
He wrapped a hand gently around my injured right arm, trailing his fingers painlessly up to my shoulder and then down around my back, settling at my waist.
"Kikyo," he murmured deeply in my ear and I stiffened in anger, his effect on me suddenly dwindled to nothing. "What an interesting thing that you should be her reincarnation when you are so dissimilar"
I couldn't speak, my voice was gone. I was caught, torn between anger and a strange new feeling that I couldn't identify but I knew deep within, I shouldn't have been feeling it. One hand tangled deeply in my hair and yanked suddenly, snapping my head up painfully toward his. A hiss of pain barely escaped my lips before he was leaning over me, his lips pressed against mine. His lips were firm against mine, not shy, not gentle, straight forward, and demanding.
I did nothing, but stood there held hard by his hand at the back of my head. My unresponsive mouth dropped open when his other hand curled around my breast. His tongue lashed between my lips, but I did not respond to this either although it was hard. My lack of response to him did not seem to bother him in the slightest however as he pulled away from me slowly, eyes glazed slightly.
He stared at me a few moments in silence before licking his tongue across my bottom lip, and then across my top lip. My breath caught uneasily, was there no end?
Although I was not finding the experience to be unpleasant or in any way terrifying. It was however shockingly new, and dangerous and disturbing. Disturbing that I should be sharing such moments with such a hated enemy.
I was becoming uneasy by the way he was staring at me with those red tinted eyes, but then he stepped away and I saw him leave the room.
I vaguely realized that the presence of the Shikon was gone.
I was tired. My arm was throbbing painfully and my head was spinning.
The calm haze of morning greeted me. I rolled onto my side only to shoot from the comfort of my bed as I turned onto my aching arm and then smacked my head onto something hard as I sat up rapidly to stop the pain.
"Ah! Stupid human!" I heard a voice croak as I collided with its chin.
I blinked myself awake and stared quizzically into the large pale yellow eyes of Jaken.
"What are you doing in my room, toad?" I demanded ignoring my throbbing head and arm.
"This room belongs to Sesshoumaru-sama! You, filthy human, are but borrowing it!" he corrected.
I looked around.
This room wasn't the same one as I was in last night. I had been tucked into a futon with soft blankets over me. Where there had been a line of shoji screens was now a very secure wall. There were cabinets on one side of the room and a low lying table at the far center of the room with an unlit candle and a small, potted shrub on resting on it's surface.
Jaken had apparently been speaking while I zoned out' and I was brought back to his presence when he whacked me on the head with the Staff of Heads.
"Get out of my room!" I reiterated.
He lifted his chin arrogantly. "Sesshoumaru-sama demands you dress yourself and come to the dining room."
"No," I replied simply.
"No," I replied again. "I want to leave. Right now."
I wasn't asking. I wasn't going to see Sesshoumaru. No I couldn't do that. Not with the memory of what had occurred here last night, if it had been Naraku or not. It had been the face of Sesshoumaru and that wouldn't leave me.
What was reviling about the whole thing was that I had let him touch me! I shivered, forgetting about Jaken again.
I only realized he was leaving when I heard him mumble, "I will tell him."
Jaken was probably hoping that Sesshoumaru would accommodate my wishes and toss me out this moment. I shook my head and stood up. I was wearing another white kimono, or the same, I couldn't tell. Jaken, I thought. Check one for authenticating this Sesshoumaru as real.
I had barely set my feet upon the floor when the door slid open with an agitated impatience. A familiar figure loomed in the doorway a scowl adorning his delicate features. I immediately looked over him. The left sleeve of his kimono was armless- check two. My eyes fell just below that, Tensaiga was tied securely at his waist, check three.
I was in no way pleased to see him and he seemed to feel the same of me.
"My wishes will not be disobeyed."
"There's no reason for us to be talking and no reason for me to be here."
"I will make those determinations. You owe me an explanation of what went on here!"
The only thing keeping me calm was that he remained in the doorway.
"Why do I always owe you things? I happen to think you owe me for saving your sorry castle!"
That was stupid, I realized only too late. If I wanted him to stay away I should've just done what he asked me. But no, I had to be difficult and irritate him even further causing him to stalk into the room in an attempt to make me feel threatened.
He didn't need to bother himself with the effort. I felt threatened enough with him at the doorway let alone less than two feet away glaring for all he was worth.
"A lover's tryst?" he scowled. "Does my brother know you are slaking the lust of his most hated enemy?"
I couldn't repress the gasp. I had never expected
"I found you sprawled upon my floor, your clothes wrinkled and smelling of the stench that is Naraku."
"That's not what happened!" I protested.
He scoffed. "You still smell of him."
"Then don't stand so close!" I barked in reply. How dare he make such assumptions! What kind of person did he think I was, anyway? "And even if I was, which I am not, it's none of your business!"
He snarled. "You were here for a specific reason, not to make a brothel of my home!"
"I did no such thing and don't act like it's my fault Naraku was here okay? It wasn't. Don't forget, it was you who brought me here!"
"I have been generous enough with you bathe yourself," he growled.
I had no problem with that, provided he stayed away. Jaken appeared in the doorway.
"Is the human coming, Sesshoumaru-sama?"
He looked down at me pointedly. I sighed and walked toward Jaken.
He was much less agitated with me when I saw him next. I had been wandering around pretty aimlessly until I found myself in the same enclosed garden I had been looking out into the previous night. The stone gray wall the marked the edge of the garden. Azalea's surrounded the small pond while other trees decorated the elegant clearing.
Rin was sitting next to a bed of flowers, a bunch of dark violet colored ones in her hands as she waved toward me. Sesshoumaru was standing next to her and because of that I was hesitant to move. Rin was check four.
I simply settled for waving back and she took the initiative and ran over to me. Sesshoumaru lingered where he was, but drifted slowly in our direction.
"Rin has been waiting for you! Do you want to pick flowers with Rin?"
I smiled. "I'd like to but I have to be going," I said.
In all honesty I couldn't wait to get out of here.
"Oh" she was clearly disappointed.
"But I guess I could pick a few before I go, right?"
A smile brightened her small face and she took me by my good hand, thankfully, and led me to where she had been sitting. I settled down onto the grass beside her and listened as she spoke enthusiastically about flowers, Jaken and Sesshoumaru, occasionally mixing all three topics together.
I had woken late, so noon came early for me. When it did Rin ushered me to the dining room, the last place I wanted to go, but ended up there anyway. I ate little during the meal, not because I wasn't hungry, I actually was, but because the hand I used for eating was for the moment was out of play. I settled then for sipping my soup.
I was saved from further distracting activities with Rin when Jaken led the girl off. Where to, I know not and I didn't ask either. Instead, I turned back to Sesshoumaru, who had been for quite some time, watching me.
"I want to leave now," I stated deciding it was best not to mince words.
"You have not answered my question yet."
"Are you talking about this morning? Nothing happened. Naraku was here, Naraku left."
"You would lie to me, woman? You smelled of him!" The accusation was softly spoken but it didn't sound any more pleasant.
"That was a detachment, one of his children. They all smell like him! Or at least that's what Inuyasha says- anyway it doesn't matter. I have things to be doing, you know." I wasn't about to tell him that I had actually seen and touched the real Naraku as well. I couldn't imagine why he cared anyway.
I don't know why I never learned from my mistakes. Comments like that only irritated him, and I knew this
"You have nothing to do but what I tell you, wench."
"I use your name, the least you could do is use mine," I remarked dryly, doubting he'd care. It was more of a statement to myself. "As for Naraku's detachment, let's just say he got a little closer than I'd have liked. Okay?"
"Where is this detachment'?"
"You talk about it like it's some kind of tentacle hiding in the wall. It's a full sized person just like Kagura, and it's dead."
He raised a brow.
"And don't give me looks like I'm incapable of killing something okay? You brought me here to rescue your house."
The comment made me feel smug. The entire situation felt bizarre. Somehow though it reminded me that I needed to get back to Inuyasha. He was probably going out of his mind, that or he was being successfully distracted by Kikyo.
I didn't hate Kikyo, although my jealousy was making it an effort. I did feel sorry for her, she and Inuyasha had been caught in a nasty trap, but it wasn't my fault. It wasn't my fault they didn't trust each other enough, I didn't break them up, I had nothing to feel guilty about! It didn't stop the feeling though.
I was staring at him. Staring at Sesshoumaru and thinking of Inuyasha, I wonder if he knows. I blinked and looked away, sighing despairingly.
"I have to go."
He didn't try to stop or dissuade me.
"Can you tell me how to get to the Bone Eater's Well?"
"South-east," he replied.
"Right can you you know point in that direction or something?"
The corners of his mouth turned up in a smile as he rose from his chair and came toward me. He brushed past me gently and I followed him. The door at the front was open and he stood just outside.
It looked like it was going to be a nice day until I got a good view of the sky. An army of rain clouds, dark ones that promised a potentially violent storm, was besieging the clear blue horizon. Well, maybe not, but they looked ominous. It could be nothing but a rainstorm.
Great weather for walking, I thought darkly. It would rain within the hour, I was certain of it.
When I came to stand at his side, a reasonable distance away, he lifted a hand. In his palm I could see what appeared to be a folded sheet of rice paper. He raised the paper to his mouth and blew into it gently. The folded paper inflated and with some fidgeting, I recognized it as an origami cube. Kanji glowed on all sides, and with a capricious flick of his wrist he threw it at me.
It bounced once in my hands before I caught it.
"It's a long distance to travel by yourself and injured as you are. As long as you keep it with you, it should block the aura of the jewel around your neck. It will afford you some safety."
I looked down at it skeptically, but didn't question him. Instead, I undid the string with the Shikon shards in it and wiggled the string through the cube and tied it back around my neck.
It looked funny, but if it would really block the aura of the shards then it would be useful. After all, the trip was going to be hard enough without power hungry youkai on my trail. He had no reason to lie to me about it.
"You succeeded in what I asked of you, I will see you safely back to your companions."
Before I could say anything in reply, a tall two-headed youkai was leering down at me. Well, maybe it wasn't leering? How could you tell with a face like that? In any case, it looked mean enough. He heaved me up effortlessly onto the back of his beast.
"You are too weak to traverse such a distance safely. Go now," he waved a hand and I yelped.
"How do I know this thing is safe?" I yelled back but he didn't reply. He watched me as I got higher and then turned and disappeared back into his mansion.
That's how the day ended, I was let down into a clearing with the bone eater's well and the beast took off the moment I was off it's back. I sighed heavily, dropping to my knees. It had been a day at least; the others were sure to be worried about me, if that they hadn't realized I'd not gone home, anyway. I stayed there for some time, just staring into the sky before the earlier gray clouds heavy with rain finally found me.
As the rain poured over my prone figure in the clearing I couldn't help wonder if Sesshoumaru's scent was being washed away in every droplet. If Inuyasha would smell him on me if he were to suddenly appear. And better yet, what I would say to his questions or accusations when they were hurled at me.
I sighed, lowering my head. I had helped Inuyasha's brother Sesshoumaru yesterday. I had found that beneath the distaste and fear lies an attraction for both Sesshoumaru and perhaps even more disturbingly, Naraku.
Naraku, I thought, my enemy. I could still feel his breath upon my face, his hands across my skin, his lips upon mine – Naraku was dangerous. I had discovered last night what made him the master strategist he was as he weaved himself around me. He had shown just how masterfully I could be manipulated, making me half-want to fall to his trap. It was easier to fall when the target was no longer standing upon solid ground and he was chipping at my foundation. As the wind picked up I caught a chill and pulled myself off the quickly muddying ground and walked the two or three paces to the well. I sat down upon its rim, turning about to let my legs dangle inside.
I licked my lips before pushing off and falling into the depths on my way back home. This quest for the Shikon no tama would never be quite the same.