NOTE: Definitely AU. Some episode spoilers. Sango has joined the group. They've met Rin, Sesshoumaru's ward. Things are tense between InuYasha and Sesshoumaru. Naraku is still on the loose.

NOTE: I've used japanese and english terms intermittantly. I'll probably post a glossary or reedit the file some point in the future but right now I'm impatient to get the fic up for reviews so enjoy!!

AN: A Prologue, of sorts.


~*~ In the Beginning ~*~

"Are you all right?" Sango asked the time-travelling miko with some concern. Of their group Kagome was the most vulnerable despite her miko powers; she was gentle and wanted everyone to be happy and safe; an unlikely wish to be fulfilled in the Feudal Era.

Kagome Hiragushi smiled brightly. "I'm fine Sango," the teen reassured the taijiki. "I just want to make sure everyone is okay."

Sango nodded. "I know what you mean. I still can't understand it, why on earth did the Great Western Lord deign to protect a village of lowly ningen?" She spoke sardonically. Sango had little good experience with demons. Her village had been destroyed by youkai sent by Naraku. She and her fellow taijiki, including her father and younger brother had been attacked by a spider-youkai controlled by Naraku. Sango had survived the attack but her brother Kohaku had been badly injured and was now a puppet kept alive by Shikon shards and controlled by Naraku. It was Sango's dearest wish to avenge her fallen friends and free her brother.

Kagome's hand shook as she remembered. Somehow a praying mantis youkai found out InuYasha was vulnerable, that he turned human, during new moons. The youkai formed a hunting party and attacked the village where the group was spending a few days resting from their search for the Shikon shards. What they didn't know was that InuYasha preferred to spend new moons away from the group. Sometimes Kagome couldn't understand the hanyou's actions; he had wanted the Shikon to become human for Kikyo, but here he was almost ashamed of being human.

Miroku, Kagome, Sango and Kirara had fought hardest but there were far too many youkai. Everyone in the village would have been killed if it hadn't been for Sesshoumaru. He had unexpectedly shown up and destroyed the attacking youkai and had been badly injured in the process.

Good manners, common sense, and compassion told Kagome she should do what she could to make the tai-youkai feel better and recover faster. He had been injured in defense of her friends after all. Kagome ground down the instinctive desire to run and hide in favour of doing what she 'knew' was right: helping the wounded.

Easy enough for a twentieth century teenager who had taken first aid courses and CPR training when she started spending more and more time to the past. At first her mother pressured her to take a first aid kit and Kagome soon found it was inadequate to look after humans injured in the aftermath of youkai attacks. Guilt pressured her into signing up for classes at local community centers – to help the poor who followed superstitious folklore remedies when they couldn't afford the quack treatments of learned physicians. Later on she expanded on her knowledge talking to clinic nurses and botanists about traditional pharmacopoeia in her own time. What they taught made her far more competent than any Feudal Era doctor.

She spent a few minutes doing a quick triage of the wounded grouping them into degrees of severity and pain before handing out painkillers, alcohol swabs and antibiotic cream. The resident midwife, herbalist and miko marveled over the items and promised to follow her instructions, to use boiled water and boiled bandages, diligently. After making sure the villagers were looked after she turned to the one patient she was reluctant to face, the one avoided by everyone: Sesshoumaru.

The Western Lord was tolerating the fussing of his hyper-active retainer, Jaken, and the barely restrained sniffing of the human girl that accompanied him, Rin.

Even though he stood straight with apparent disdain Kagome could see the weariness in the lines of his posture. That was enough to seal her choice.

Sesshoumaru frowned as he filtered out the babbling rambling rants of Jaken. The toad-youkai was loyal but he had no sense of proportion. Jaken was more worried about the insult to Sesshoumaru's person than Sesshoumaru himself.

He felt a familiar small hand tug at the hem of his blood stained haori. The tai-youkai looked down into the small worried face of his ward Rin.

"Are you all right Sesshoumaru-sama?" She asked in fear-tinged tones.

"I am fine." He replied in his usual monotone.

"Don't be a baka!" An unexpected crisp female voice.

Sesshoumaru suppressed the urge to tear out the throat of the intruder and settled for lancing her with a freezing amber gaze. It failed to have any effect. Expected given that the target was that irrepressible ningen miko that ran with his hanyou brother.

"InuYasha acts like a baby when it comes to treating injuries, surely the Great Western Lord does not fear stinging alcohol wipes and bandages?" He could see the crafty precision in the miko's eyes. She was choosing words that would generate a reaction. Should he give it to her. Iie.

"I think not miko." He responded icily. "I am a tai-youkai. I have greater tolerance to pain and faster healing. I have no need for your ningen medicine."

Kagome was surprised. He did not respond as InuYasha would, hotly defending his male courage.

"Well, yes," she admitted deferentially. "But you were hurt defending us and I feel honor bound to offer what aid I may."

"I defend the Western Lands." He corrected coldly. "This village is under my protection. It is on the edge of my property but it is Mine." He stressed. "Those renegade youkai broke protocol by attacking my domain."

Kagome quickly back-pedalled. Okay, never cast aspirations on his honor.

"All right." She admitted. "You defend your property and that includes the villages and villagers. If you recover quicker you can fend off any other attacks on your property and that will save lives: that is what I care about."

Amber eyes studied the determined stance. A miko willing to work with youkai so that the ningen are protected. Was that why…?

"Why do you travel with my half-breed brother miko?" He asked abruptly.

Kagome started before deciding to answer honestly.

"Do you know of the Shikon no Tama?" She asked carefully.

The delicate features twisted with distaste.

"Yes. The human talisman that belonged to the miko Midoriko. Lesser youkai seek the power it grants the owner."

"But you do not seek the Shikon shards." Kagome noted delicately.

Sesshoumaru huffed. "I do not need human magic to give me power. I have enough of my own."

"Then why do you want the Tetsaiga?" Kagome asked daringly. "I know it was made by your father but it was designed to be used to protect humans."

"Foolish ningen! How dare you question the Great Lord Sesshoumaru-sama!"

Kagome's leather shod foot accidentally came down on the toad-youkai's head grinding his face into the ground. Rin giggled and clapped her hands.

Sesshoumaru had to hide a smile at her action before he gathered enough composure to glare down at the female before grudgingly answering her query.

"The other tai-youkai question my ability to rule my lands. I may be powerful but I cannot fight all of them if they ally with each other. If I have the Tetsaiga, which can kill a hundred youkai with one stroke, they will never dare to ally against the Western Lands."

Kagome frowned. Feudal Era youkai politics was turning out to be a bit more complicated than she had thought. It wasn't just a dog-eat-dog, kill-kill deal.

"And why do you seek the Shikon shards miko?" Sesshoumaru continued relentlessly.

Kagome hesitated before explaining. "I am its Protector. I'm not a very good one though," she confessed. "I didn't know I Am its Protector until Centipede-Lady attacked me."

Sesshoumaru frowned. "Then why do you travel with my brother?"

Kagome motioned to the ground.

"I'll answer your questions if you sit down and let me clean and bandage your wounds." She negotiated craftily.

Grudgingly he obeyed her instruction and sat on the ground and removed the bone armor before removing the blood-stained haori. Kagome turned and spoke to Rin quietly before sending her off. With a great deal of protest Jaken obeyed Sesshoumaru's instructions to follow and protect Rin.

A tendril of heat curled up in the pit of the modern teens stomach. Kagome had never felt it before but she knew good and well what it was from the frank gossip fests with her school friends: lust.

No one could deny Sesshoumaru was gorgeous, almost angelic with his finely featured face, silky platinum hair, and lithely muscled body. Even the crescent moon and maroon-purple markings looked right on him. The lines on his wrist formed a vine-like design that coiled around his arms, shoulders and torso. The chiseled perfection was marred by the bleeding slashes and the absence of the left arm below the shoulder. Kagome winced. She stopped her hand from reaching out to touch the stump.

"I am sorry." She spoke in hushed inadequate tones.

He stared at her confused. "For what?"

"For your arm."

What strange creatures ningen were. "I fought with InuYasha and lost it in combat with him, not with you." He pointed out in placid tones that did nothing to hide his bitterness at losing the powerful heirloom to his crude younger hanyou sibling.

Kagome shrugged as she pulled out a container of baby wipes to remove the worst of the blood and grime. Good thing these were biodegradable. It wouldn't do to confuse some archeologist with five hundred year old twentieth century disposable baby wipes.

"Yes. And you have attacked us ever since but I can still regret the pain you suffered and the loss of your arm. This might hurt a little."

Sesshoumaru stared down at the raven-head intent on cleaning his wounds with the stinging squares of thin paper-cloth.

"I attack InuYasha for the Tetsaiga, not you or your friends." He corrected mildly.

Kagome sat back on her heels and met his gaze squarely. "Yes. But when you attack my friends you attack me." She countered. "Consider us allies and honor bound to defend and protect each other."

Sesshoumaru nodded and noted the information before repeating the question foremost in his mind.

"Then why do you travel with InuYasha? Why are you his…ally?"

Kagome hesitated before explaining as she continued to clean the wounds.

"When Centipede-Lady attacked me for the Shikon no Tama I did not know I was a miko and its Protector. I freed InuYasha from the _____ Tree to stop her from getting the sacred jewel. When more youkai came looking for the jewel," Kagome's eyes became dark as she remembered the carrion-crow-youkai carrying off the boy. "I was afraid of one youkai getting its power so I fired an arrow. Unfortunately the arrow shattered the jewel into shards that scattered all over.

"InuYasha wants the jewel to become a full youkai. I can track the shards power and purify them after InuYasha defeats the youkai that has it so we work together."

"And if you assemble all the shards?" Sesshoumaru inquired pointedly.

Kagome shrugged. "I don't know. I hope InuYasha gives up on his foolish wish to become a full youkai. Most of the ones I've met are quite nasty and have no self control. I'm afraid if InuYasha becomes a full youkai he won't be InuYasha any more."

Sesshoumaru nodded. "You are correct miko. InuYasha was not raised with the discipline a tai-youkai needs to remain sane."

Kagome shuddered and nodded remembering how the youkai blood lust over powered InuYasha's control.

Sesshoumaru shrugged. "As much as I prefer having a youkai for a brother I will not appreciate having to kill an insane youkai brother." Amber eyes lanced into the ningen teenager. Kagome shivered, a mixture of avatistic fear and desire. "A hanyou brother is an irritant but an irritant that can be ignored."

Kagome stopped cleaning the wounds. Her eyes widened. "You have been ignoring him all along! You have no true desire to kill him. You just want the Tetsaiga. But without its sealing power InuYasha's youkai blood will overpower him and drive him mad. If you get it you will kill him to stop him from going on a rampage. That's why you have been so relentless when you attack."

He inclined his head acknowledging her hit. "Very true miko."

Kagome frowned. "Stop calling me miko." She groused. "You sound like InuYasha, only he calls me bitch or wench. My name is Kagome. Ka-go-me."

Heavily lashed eyes lowered. "Very well Kagome-san."

Kagome smiled cheerfully. "Great." She squeezed daubs of antibiotic onto gauze pads and pressed them over the wounds that were already closing. "This stuff kills germs that cause infections. It also has a pain killer so you should feel numb in a few minutes." She warned as she used strips of sticky tape to hold the gauze pads in place. "From what I know of youkai healing your wounds should close in about thirty hours. You should be able to remove the gauze pads tomorrow evening." She smoothened the strip of tape over his bicep and patted it. "Okay, now turn around."

Surprisingly he obeyed without question leaning forward to allow her to repeat the procedure on his back. Once she was finished Sesshoumaru slipped into an undyed cotton yukata Jaken had procured from the villagers and left followed by his retainer and his ningen charge.

Kagome watched the trio vanish into the forest feeling slightly subduded by the greater understanding she gained into InuYasha's brother. Sango had to call her name several times before Kagome responded.

"Kagome, are you all right? He didn't do anything to you, did he?"

"Iie, Sango-chan. Sesshoumaru didn't do anything. I was just thinking."

"About what? How gorgeous he is?" Sango asked half teasingly. "He may be a tai-youkai but he is more beautiful than most women."

Kagome blushed and giggled. "Sango!!! Let's just go get something to drink. I'm starving. Do you want any ramen?"

Both girls settled into the usual relaxed chatter as they walked to the central building where they were quartered.

Unknown to anyone, Kagome had not escaped the youkai attack unscathed. A tiny fragment of flying stone had opened a wound in her scalp just inside her hairline near her temple. As she leaned over the tai-youkai's back cleaning the worst of the blood and gore blood from her head wound dripped into the open wounds in Sesshoumaru's back. This minor almost insignificant event would turn out to have major repercussions in the near and distant future.

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