Chapter 1: Ruthless

The forest floor was dark, the faint silver glinting like knives off of the softly rustling leaves. The same silver cast shone over a silently contemplating figure. His iridescent hair and alabaster clothing adapted to the greying hues around him; he could have been a silver sculpture, shining in immovable nobility and superiority over all that surrounded him.

The moon was only a sliver in the sky, the month would soon come to a close. The time had come to carry out his purpose. In all of his glory, he lacked only one thing now. The only unsettled affront to his dignity, the only lasting wound to his ego.

Now he had found a way to remove even that stain. One such as himself should never have to endure being... imperfect. And perhaps at the same time, he could gain a measure of satisfaction-- a taste of suffering returned to those who brought this indignity and inconvenience upon him.

Inuyasha felt his half-brother's approach before he saw him.

The day had been unusually quiet, a sense of foreboding growing in him all day. The others seem to have caught the mood as well, the usual cheerful banter given way to wary silence. Even Shippou was quiet as he rode in Kagome's bicycle basket.

Inuyasha's unease grew as Sesshoumaru's scent grew steadily closer, unhurried and calm. There could be little doubt that Sesshoumaru was purposely coming to him, but Inuyasha could not imagine what his purpose might be. His half-brother had not seemed that interested in him lately, not since the forging of Toukijin. His companions quickly picked up on his unease.

"Inuyasha? What's wrong?" Kagome had noticed him stop and carefully sniff the air.

He looked at her, his gruff voice expressing little of the concern he felt. "My stupid brother is nearby. He's coming here."

"Why? What does he want?" Miroku asked.

"How the hell should I know?" Inuyasha's voice rose angrily. "Probably just wants to make my life as miserable as possible." His hand was on Tetsusaiga's hilt, poised to draw at the slightest provocation.

As if blinking into existence, Sesshoumaru's calm form materialized on the trail in front of them, as if he had been waiting there all day for them to arrive. His gold eyes took in the hanyou and his companions with a sort of detached indifference as Jaken scurried out of the forest behind him. The small girl Sesshoumaru kept was not with them, Kagome noticed.

Instinctively, Inuyasha positioned himself protectively in front of Kagome. "What the hell are you doing here, Sesshoumaru?" he growled.

Sesshoumaru regarded him for a moment, as if he had ignored the question. 'It will be difficult to accomplish this without damaging it,' he thought. 'He is especially protective.'

"You have something I want," Sesshoumaru finally responded. "After I have it, I will go on my way."

"Something you want?" Inuyasha mumbled in confusion. "You're still after Tetsusaiga?"

Sesshoumaru glared at his brother's stupidity. "I no longer desire that battered excuse for a sword." His eyes traveled away from his brother to the woman sheltered behind him. "I am here for something else."

Kagome almost shuddered when his cold eyes met hers. She had forgotten what it was like to be under the demon-lord's stare. She involuntarily took a step backwards.

Inuyasha realized Sesshoumaru was looking behind him as if he didn't even exist. Kagome's hands reached out and tangled themselves in his clothes, trembling slightly. "Kagome..." he whispered.

His blade flashed out, transforming. He didn't know why Sesshoumaru was suddenly so intent on Kagome, but he was worried. "You want Kagome." It was half a question, half a threatening growl.

Sesshoumaru smiled coldly. "That was unusually quick of you. If she comes with me now, I will not be forced to harm anyone."

"What do you want with her?" Inuyasha reached behind him, holding Kagome's wrist possessively.

Sesshoumaru glared at him in a way that clearly showed he was not going to offer an answer.

Kagome squirmed behind Inuyasha in worry, afraid of the way Sesshoumaru kept glancing at her. She didn't know what she could have done to attract the demon's lord attention, but he was here now, demanding her.

"Miroku, Sango, take Kagome and get away from here," Inuyasha hissed.

In an instant Sesshoumaru's sword was drawn. "She stays here," he commanded. "Or I will be forced to hunt her." His voice took a feral tint at the word 'hunt' that made Kagome's blood run cold. Miroku and Sango stood indecisive, knowing that Sesshoumaru would be able to catch them.

"Um...Sesshoumaru-sama?" Kagome began uncertainly. "Could you maybe tell me exactly what it is you want from me?"

He blinked once, surprised to hear her speak. He regarded her calmly. "You will find out soon enough. However, it would be best for all of you if you came freely with me now."

Kagome cast a nervous glance at her companions, obviously trying to decide what the odds would be like should a battle take place. She took a hesitant step forward. She couldn't let the others get hurt.

Inuyasha growled angrily and snagged Kagome around the wrist.

"You're not going to touch her. You'll have to kill me first." Inuyasha's fury was building. He was not going to let Sesshoumaru have Kagome. His blood boiled at the thought of his Kagome at the mercy of someone like him. He pushed Kagome towards Sango and Miroku, keeping himself between his brother and her at all times.

"As you wish," Sesshoumaru said softly. He had no compunctions over killing Inuyasha to get what he wanted. He charged.

Inuyasha barely saw him move, bringing Tetsusaiga up slightly too late to completely block Toukijin's downward slash. The blow glanced down his sword arm, scraping it to bits. Inuyasha winced and sprang away, swinging his sword with both hands as blood began to soak his right arm. He grimaced in determination. He could not let Sesshoumaru have Kagome.

"Inuyasha!" Kagome screamed when he was struck. She tried to fight her way forward, but was held back firmly by Sango and Miroku. As the combatants broke apart, Sesshoumaru gave the struggling girl a brief glance. Her emotions were written all over her. Even now, the strange little thing was more worried for the hanyou than herself. Foolish of her, but as long as the others kept her away from the battle, he wouldn't have to worry about accidently injuring her. She was no good to him dead.

He saw his brother prepare his attack, his movements obvious. The hanyou always over-reached when he used the kaze-no-kizu. He had no finesse. By the time the arches of energy reached him, he had already abandoned his position, racing behind his brother while he was still off balance. He slashed again, movements too quick for the human eye.

To his surprise, Inuyasha whirled and managed to bring his sword around in time to stop the blow, lashing out with his claws as he repelled Sesshoumaru.

Three sharp points tore into the side of Sesshoumaru's neck, ripping downward as Inuyasha let out an enraged cry. Sesshoumaru felt a few lines of blood trickle down his collar, slightly startled that Inuyasha had managed to strike him. Inuyasha was always a lot faster if he was worried about the miko. He had also avoided Sesshoumaru's attempt to bait him further from the girl.

Inuyasha was panting now, most of his right sleeve soaked in blood. No more playing. Sesshoumaru flashed forward, no more than a silver-white blur. He swung again, this time releasing Toukijin at his brother with a smirk. The blade flew at the hanyou, imbedding itself in his left shoulder an instant before Sesshoumaru's poison claws sank into his gut.

The weight of the other demon threw Inuyasha heavily to the ground. He skid for a moment, leaving a streak of red on the dirt path. Before the hanyou could rise, Sesshoumaru was on him, one foot holding down his sword arm while his only hand twisted the blade in his shoulder. Tetsusaiga's transformation faded.

Inuyasha screamed in pain. Sesshoumaru yanked Toukijin from his shoulder, laying the point across his neck. Inuyasha glared at him, his breaths jerky and panicked as Sesshoumaru looked down at him dispassionately. He could tell Sesshoumaru was not in a merciful mood. If he died, there would be no one left who could stand up to him and Kagome would be lost.

Sesshoumaru smiled slightly. "Remember Inuyasha. You chose this fight, chose to die today. You should have given me what I wanted in the first place."

"No!" shouted a slightly shrill feminine voice. Without moving his sword, Sesshoumaru let his eyes track over to the miko. Her friends had a hold on both her arms as the girl twisted and kicked against them. Tears were streaming down her face as she tried to reach the hanyou.

Inuyasha stirred under him. "Kagome! Get out of here, now!" His voice quivered with anger and fear.

Kagome shook her head violently. "I won't! Sesshoumaru, please don't kill him! I'm begging you. I'll do whatever you want, just stop!"

"Don't you fucking dare, Kagome!" He thrashed and attempted in vain to throw Sesshoumaru off of him, suddenly uncaring about Toukijin at his throat. "Sesshoumaru, your fight is with me, leave her alone!"

"You have already lost our fight," Sesshoumaru said smoothly. "And you are very much mistaken if you think she is not involved." He quirked his head at Kagome, who had ceased her struggles and was hanging still in Miroku and Sango's grasp. "Let her go."

Kagome tore herself away from the other two and looked despairingly at Inuyasha. She met his gold eyes, sad but resigned. She had already made up her mind. "Don't even think about it Kagome, you idiot," Inuyasha hissed at her. "I'm not letting you do this."

Kagome turned back to Sesshoumaru. "Whatever you want," she whispered, tears running freely, though her voice was steady. "As long as he lives." Everyone was still, waiting for Sesshoumaru's response.

Sesshoumaru regarded her stoically. "Walk to Jaken."

Kagome did as she was told, her eyes on the ground as tried not to hear Inuyasha yelling and begging her not to comply. Miroku and Sango moved to stop her, but were stopped by a glare from the youkai lord.

"Miroku and Sango, go get her, you morons!" Inuyasha shouted at them, woozy from the pain as Sesshoumaru continued to press on his injured arm.

Kagome hesitated for a moment in her slow walk.

"Take a step towards her and will kill you," Sesshoumaru promised.

Kagome glanced back quickly. "Please don't," she mouthed. Her face was pale with fear, her voice refusing to rise. It seemed to take forever, but she finally reached Sesshoumaru's henchman.

"Kneel," Sesshoumaru commanded as he continued to hold Inuyasha down.

Trying to keep herself from shaking, she slowly lowered herself to her knees. She choked back her tears. 'I'm not going to cry anymore,' she told herself. 'I'm not going to let him know how scared I am.' She stared resolutely at the ground, biting her lip. A couple of drops disobediently spilled over her eyes, running cooly down her nose.

"Jaken," she heard Sesshoumaru order the toad-like creature. She tensed as her bow and quiver were ripped off her back. She did not fight as cold clammy fingers grabbed her wrists and pulled her arms roughly behind her. Cords wrapped around her wrists, binding them together behind her. A throaty whimper escaped her mouth as the rope constricted painfully tight as the toad deftly tightened the knot. She immediately felt weaker, the rope must carry some sort of spell.

"Serves you right for defying Sesshoumaru-sama," Jaken snapped at her, prodding the girl in the side with his staff.

Inuyasha yelled at her one more time, his voice echoing distantly in her ears. "Kagome, no!" And quieter, "Kagome, I'm sorry."

"I'm sorry," she whispered in return just before a gag was forced between her lips. Jaken yanked her head back sharply by the gag, and Kagome fought the reflex to retch. He made no attempt to spare her hair as he tied it around her head. The ropes made her feel miserable. 'Why is all this necessary?' she wondered. 'I gave my word, and its not like I could escape anyway.' She watched Inuyasha from the corner of her eye, her expression apologetic and pleading.

Sesshoumaru noted his servant's overly-rough behavior, but did not take his attention away from Inuyasha. "Your woman is much smarter than you, half-breed. You should listen to her more often." His voice was teasingly soft.

"You bastard!" Inuyasha coughed. "What the hell do you want a human for? Are you doing all of this to get to me?"

"Don't think so highly of yourself," Sesshoumaru scoffed. "Why waste my time on something like you?"

"Why her?" he hissed.

Sesshoumaru scowled. "You don't need to know." He glanced down at Inuyasha's pinned hand, white knuckles clutching Tetsusaiga. "Grab your sword by the blade."

Inuyasha gave him a confused look. "What?"

Sesshoumaru ground his foot against Inuyasha's wounded arm. "Do it, or I will make the girl suffer in your stead."

Scowling, Inuyasha slid his sword in his hand until he was holding it lightly by the base of the blade. In an eye blink, Sesshoumaru's hand wrapped over Inuyasha's on the katana. He whipped the sword up, squeezing Inuyasha's hand as he manipulated the blade. He shoved downward, the rusty blade thrusting into the hanyou's chest and traveling through into the ground.

Kagome screamed into her gag.

Inuyasha's eyes widened in pain and shock. Sesshoumaru released his hand as Inuyasha's pinned body convulsed and a few drops of dark blood spewed from his mouth. Sesshoumaru bent and retrieved Toukijin, replacing it at his hip while ignoring Inuyasha's throes. He returned his eyes to his captive human, her glistening eyes full of fear and hatred. She couldn't move, but her whole body was shaking as she attempted to. Her shadowy hair rippled over her shoulders as she trembled. She felt used, betrayed... and guilty. Let her.

Kagome fought with her horror as Sesshoumaru neatly impaled Inuyasha on Tetsusaiga. She bit down on her gag and tried to struggle, but the bonds on her wrist inexplicably kept her entire body still and kneeling. 'No! I did not surrender so that Inuyasha could die!' She tried again to stand, or crawl, any movement at all, but she was held fast. When Sesshoumaru turned back to her, she sent him a look of pure venom. 'How dare you.'

His eyes narrowed, seemingly in response to her unvoiced accusation. He stalked over to her, but she found she could not even lift her head to look him in the eye. She felt his one arm slither around her ribs, hauling her up. He glared once at Kagome's companions. "Don't follow."

Without another word, he pulled Kagome tightly against him and was gone. The last thing Kagome saw was Inuyasha's form, his hair spilled around him with his own bloody hand wrapped around his sword in his chest.

Um... I promise I'm going somewhere with this. Why do the first chapters of my stories always suck?

Please Review!

This chapter last modified: Saturday, August 23, 2003