Summary: Accustomed to living in the past, Kagome must now prepare for the future by surviving the present. This is an InuYasha and Yu Yu Hakusho crossover focusing on Hiei and Kagome.

Note: When I first started writing The Protector (many, many years ago), I had only read a few volumes of InuYasha; therefore, please be aware that I am going to deviate from the manga a fair amount. With respect to Yu Yu Hakusho, the fanfiction's events take place after the Dark Tournament and before the Chapter Black arc.

Disclaimer: (1) InuYasha is (c) Rumiko Takahashi, Viz Comics, et al. (2) Yu Yu Hakusho is (c) Yoshihiro Togashi/Shueisha, FUJI TV, Shonen Jump, and PIERROT. Licensed by FUNimation Productions, Ltd.

THE PROTECTOR

CHAPTER ONE

Higurashi Kagome twisted her head and saw that a youkai, one of Naraku's numerous offspring, was at her heels. With eyes of bloodlust and saliva seeping from the mouth, it was a terrifying sight to behold. There was no doubt that it had carnivorous tendencies and she was its chosen repast.

Tempering her morbid fascination of the beast, she made herself to look elsewhere and continued racing through InuYasha's Forest. Having lost her bow in an earlier scuffle, she could not offer opposition, so she kept running and prayed for the best.

It was commonplace for her hanyou guardian, InuYasha, to make an apropos appearance when situations similar to this arose. She realized, however, that there would be no fortuitous arrival on this occasion because he was otherwise engaged.

Kagome was left to fend for herself.

Her fist reflexively tightened around an etiolated jewel. A jewel that her companions and she had dedicated the last three years of their lives in assembling piece by precious, burdensome piece. The Jewel of Four Souls. Shikon no Tama.

Today was the first time since her fifteenth birthday that the Shikon no Tama was whole. More importantly, it was whole and with her where she intended it to remain.

Like so many instances ere, she was fortune's favored and, in her aimless flight, happened upon Hone Kui no Ido - the gateway between modern Tokyo and Sengoku Jidai, also known as the Bone Eater's Well. Her hopes soared. All she had to do was reach it and she was home-free, literally.

Guilt enveloped her at contemplating abandoning her friends who were currently combating Naraku and his minions in Kaede-baa-chan's village. Leaving them to deal with the threat just seemed... dishonorable. Nonetheless, there was no alternative. Her primary responsibility was the Shikon no Tama. She had to keep it from Naraku for everyone's sake. For the sake of those in the past and those in the future.

The youkai was practically breathing down her neck when Kagome scaled the well and set for transport. Peering over her shoulder, she briefly locked gazes with her ardent pursuer. She permitted herself to jump and a taunting victory smile tugged at her lips amidst descent.

Her victory celebration was to be fleeting.

As the enchanted well engulfed her, she noticed that an energy ball had been hurled in her direction and was closing in fast. She was shocked to see that it was traveling through the portal with her. With dawning horror she gathered that she would not get out of this predicament unscathed for, when she landed on the other side, there would be no dodging the lethal orb. The blast would hit her dead-on. Dead being the operative word. Kami, she was going to die.

The only solace to be found was that the Shikon no Tama was with her and safe from Naraku.

x x x

A middle-aged woman and older man were on their knees excavating the wreckage that had been their well house. It was apparent that the pair was hunting for something. Rather, someone, a veiled bystander amended when a beseeching wail rent the air. "Kagome!"

Whereas most would sympathize at the distraught couples' plight, Hiei watched with detachment. He cared little for the casualties and more for the causation. His instructions were to ascertain why the well had exploded and, subsequent to the explosion, why a backlash of reiki had been unleashed. Immense power that had been felt throughout Makai and Reikai, inducing an uproar in the inhabitants.

"That tree-" Kurama pointed to indicate which he meant, and faltered.

The falter earned a sidelong glance from the Koorime outcast. "What?"

"It's... calling me."

From anyone else, Hiei would have declared the comment absurd. His partner was not merely anyone though. If he said the tree talked, the tree talked. "Hn."

"Goshinboku." The God Tree.

Both of their interests were piqued and they surreptitiously made their way across the grounds to better inspect Goshinboku. It required minimal exertion to stay concealed from the mourning ningens. Consumed by their sorrow, they had attention for nothing beyond the debris of the decimated well house. Neither was in any state to detect the otherworldly presences trespassing on their property.

Again, the wail for "Kagome" filtered to them. There was still no reply.

Halting at their destination, Kurama flattened his palm on Goshinboku and concentrated. As he attempted to mentally converse with the tree and discover whether or not it had any connection to the recent power surge, Hiei rounded and physically examined it. In the course of his scrutiny, he was brought up short. His countenance flickered in surprise.

He hated being surprised.

A teenage girl slumbered against the base of the tree. Her rest would have been construed as peaceful had she not been attired in a tattered green and white uniform that barely covered her battered form. So battered that her facial features were indistinguishable due to bruising and swelling. If it had not been for the rise and fall of her chest, he would have assumed that she was deceased. Reiki was inherent in all ningens, varying in degree, yet, peculiarly, not her. How was this possible?

"Kurama-"

"Goshinboku's silent now," Kurama simultaneously remarked.

"Kurama," Hiei repeated. "Here."

Kurama joined him, demonstrating no outward sign of startlement at spying the girl. His troubled tone belied the composed facade. "She's alive with no reiki. This has to be why Goshinboku beckoned us."

The reikai tantei did not appreciate that such a creature existed, ningen or no. Without reiki to trace and if properly trained, she would be capable of taking the strongest of youkai unaware, themselves included. It was a disturbing prospect.

Another wail for "Kagome" resounded.

"The ningens aren't planning on giving up their search for a while. We should transfer the girl to Reikai for healing and interrogation."

At Hiei's nod, the red-haired youkai incarnate crouched and cautiously hefted her into his arms. She moaned in protest but did not rouse. Shifting for comfort, her clenched hand settled itself directly above her heart as she dozed.

"Konnichiwa, Kagome-san," Kurama greeted and commenced walking.

x x x

Never before had I seen the baboon pelt absent from Naraku. It was unfair for a vile, unconscionable monster to be that attractive is my initial coherent thought. He ensnares me by the scruff of the neck and I freeze in abject terror, all thoughts of his attractiveness dissipating. Indeed, his maniacal glare alone makes him quite unappealing.

I cringe when he touches the curve of my breast, idling prior to edging upwards and wrenching the handmade necklace supporting my kakeras. If he combined my kakeras with his, the Shikon no Tama would be restored.

This was bad. Real bad.

The urge to weep and concede defeat is almost overpowering. With the Shikon no Tama in his custody, how could he be stopped? For once, I maintain control of my wayward emotions, understanding that it is crucial to have my wits about me should there to be an opportunity to retake the jewel.

InuYasha was going to be furious with me. If I had not defied his order to hide, none of this would have occurred. My excuse for disobeying is, as always, sentimental - observing a massive amount of youkai bombarding Kaede-baa-chan's village, the community that had warmly welcomed me, obligation drew me into the fray. I had to help them.

Oh, how I should have listened to InuYasha.

In truth, I have attended plenty of battles. A greater truth is that I am by no means a seasoned warrior. More often than not, I was a spectator at these battles and not a participant. My lack of battle skills led to an effortless capture for Naraku.

Why had I not listened to InuYasha? Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb.

Speaking of whom... InuYasha must have a sixth sense of when I am in danger. There is no other explanation. Only seconds after I am in Naraku's grasp, the earth trembles from Tessaiga's wrath. Kaze no Kazu, wound of the wind, creates a path to my captor and I.

InuYasha angrily strides forth and there is no blustering or posturing, as per norm, when confronting his nemesis. "Return what's mine."

He is determined to reclaim what he deems rightfully his - the Shikon no Tama and me.

"Kukukuku." Naraku has no intention of relinquishing either. Using me as a shield, he withdraws his portion of the Shikon no Tama and is on the verge of uniting them with the kakeras previously pilfered.

At this juncture, InuYasha becomes indecisive. Allow Naraku to complete the jewel or attack and risk harming me, those are his options.

I try to make his decision easier. "InuYasha, you baka, do it!"

My beloved emits a grief-stricken howl at the command and charges with InuTaisho's fang. Holding it aloft, he is prepared to strike while knowing that there is no way to come into contact with Naraku besides going through me. I was to be sacrificed for the good of the world.

This is the end...

Kagome awoke with a gasp. Her body ached in all the wrong places, meaning everywhere. Was this hell? Cracking a lid to view her surroundings, she was distressed to find a stoic, three-eyed youkai staring at her.

She screamed.

TO BE CONTINUED

Terms To Know:

baa-chan: Grandmother.

Baka: Idiot.

Goshinboku: The God Tree.

Hanyou: Half-demon.

Hone Kui no Ido: The Bone Eater's Well. A portal between modern Tokyo and five hundred years in the past, Sengoku Jidai.

Kami: God.

Kaze no Kazu: Wound of the Wind. One of Tessaiga's attacks. Others include Bakyruuha, Hijinkessou and Sankontessou.

Kakeras: Shards.

Konnichiwa: Hello.

Koorime: Youkai ice maidens that live on the floating island of Hyouga in Makai (demon world). Hyouga is Hiei's birthplace.

Makai: The world of demons.

Ningen: Human.

Reikai: The spirit world.

Reikai Tantei: Spirit detectives.

Reiki: Spirit power that is inherent in denizens of Reikai (spirit world) and Ningenkai (human world). Power levels vary.

-san: Denotes respect to a person and is typically used between equals of any age. The closest analog in English are the honorifics: Mr., Miss, Mrs., and Ms. -san is almost universally added to a person's name, in both formal and informal contexts.

Sengoku Jidai: A period of constant civil wars in 15-16th century Japan.

Shikon no Tama: Jewel of Four Souls. It is a powerful, sacred jewel that contains the souls of an ancient warrior, Midoriko, and many demons. To possess even a fragment of the jewel will dramatically increase its owner's strength.

Tessaiga: A sword made from the fang of InuYasha and Sesshoumaru's father, InuTaisho. It is capable of destroying one hundred demons with a single stroke. Types of attacks include, but are not limited to, Bakyruuha, Hijinkessou, Kaze no Kazu, and Sankontessou.

Youkai: Demon.

Youki: Spirit power that is inherent in demons. Power levels vary.