Author's Notes: Wow, so here I go starting another story. It's always exciting when a new idea comes to me and then I can't wait to start writing it. But never fear, I am still working on my other two stories, I'm just struggling right now with an absolutely crazy schedule since I'm having shoulder surgery this Tuesday. I'll do my best to get chapters for both of my other stories posted before then, but no promises, okay? Just have a little patience…I'm not abandoning either of them.
As for this story, it's an alternate universe where Inuyasha is a slave who helps start a revolution to try and regain his freedom, and Kagome is a woman who gets caught in the crossfire. Eventually, as in all my stories, they will fall in love, and she will help Inuyasha and become his greatest ally. This was the story you all voted for, so I hope you enjoy it. Here we go!
Title: Impossible Dreams
Rating: PG-13 (rated for language, violence, and implied sexual situations)
Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha.
It wasn't so awful being a slave…so long as you didn't mind being told what to wear, what to eat, when to sleep, and what to do every waking minute of your life. You weren't allowed to be with anyone unless it met with the master's approval, your friendships were closely monitored, and you would never think of laughing, frowning, crying, or flying into a rage unless instructed to do so with the threat of punishment hanging in the air. Even in your dreams, you were frequently ordered around because you were a suppliant, without a mind of your own.
It was so easy to fall into such a trap. To lose one's individuality and simply become one of the many throngs of people working in the fields, or slaving in the kitchens over hot stoves was almost less of a punishment than trying to remain strong and true. It numbed the pain. It made one's existence easier to bear.
And so all who had been cast into slavery in that black year seemingly so long ago had given in to the temptation…had given up hope.
All that is, except one.
The hanyou Inuyasha glanced up at the sky as the poorly crafted cart rolled along, jolting his body from side to side uncomfortably where he sat, trying desperately to brace his body against the outer rim and form some semblance of balance. But the rope binding his hands together chaffed against his raw skin and caused a distraction, and at one point because his arms were held fast behind his back he lost his fight for balance and toppled over to his side as the cart rolled through an overly large pothole. As his shoulder slammed into the cart he became aware of the snickers of the driver, though he did his best to ignore the sound.
"Keh," he grunted, managing, with the help of the man beside him, to return to a sitting position, once more trying to find that sense of balance that eluded him, wishing like crazy at that moment that he could cross his arms in a more comfortable pose. The tips of his fingers were going numb from a lack of circulation, and he knew the bruises the chafing would leave behind would remain for at least a week when the ropes were finally removed.
But at that moment he decided that was the least of his problems.
"Are you alright, Inuyasha?" The man who had helped him asked, and the hanyou glared at him, causing him to look away. His name was Miroku, and he had a kind face, albeit a dirty one, with black hair pulled into a small ponytail over the nape of his neck. Unlike Inuyasha, he was very much a human, and the proud hanyou found it slightly embarrassing that Miroku had maintained his balance while he could not.
"What do you think?" He finally muttered in reply, his voice practically dripping venom. "Not only am I humiliated every day of my life, but I'm in constant pain. I'd rather die than be where I am right now, at the mercy of these fools."
"Silence, slaves!" The middle-aged man driving the cart whipped his head over his shoulder with an icy glare. "There will be no talking between the two of you. You have no rights, after what you did."
Inuyasha rolled his eyes at the old man's ignorant self-righteousness. "We had every right to do what we did. We fought for our freedom, something all men should be guaranteed at birth." He narrowed his sharp amber eyes dangerously. "And it won't be the last time, old man. You would be wise to remember that."
"Is that a threat?" The man laughed as though he found the prospect entertaining. "You are in no position to be threatening me, slave; I hold your life in my hands. I could slit your throat right now if I so desired, and no one would be the wiser."
"Actually," Miroku chose that moment to add his opinion, "The man who bought and paid for us would know we are missing. And besides, if you don't deliver us, you don't get paid." He always was the sensible one, his insults and retorts veiled in a shroud of manners and polite conversation.
The driver muttered something inaudible, to which Inuyasha smirked triumphantly. "It's not like you could kill me anyway old man," he boasted, puffing his chest out in pride as much as he could with his arms still bound behind his back.
"I wouldn't be so sure of that," the man replied, indicating a small black diamond jewel around Inuyasha's neck. "So long as you wear that, you are powerless, and you know it."
"Keh…who the hell cares? All that does matter is the fact that you know you would die quickly if not for the help of black magic," Inuyasha spat back, the restraint on his strength and power always a sore subject. But at least the ring of truth in his words convinced the driver to stop talking and turn back to face the muddy, deserted road instead.
At that moment lightening flashed overhead, followed by the roar of thunder, and all three occupants of the cart groaned at the prospect of getting soaked, though it was the driver who spoke up. "Damn rains! Damn thunder storms! The gods couldn't wait at least until I made my delivery?"
Inuyasha rolled his eyes and glanced out in front of him at the passing countryside. They crossed a river at one point, and he seriously considered trying to roll over and just sink to the bottom, allowing nature to take its course. At least that would be better than his life now.
He hadn't always been a slave. Once, he was the son of the mighty Inutaisho, the Lord of the Western Lands, and had been in line for the throne behind his older half brother, Sesshoumaru. His mother had been sweet and gentle and loving toward her hanyou son, and though he was scorned by many of the villagers surrounding their castle, she had sheltered him enough that he never lacked in love.
But then everything had changed one day when his father caught wind of a mounting attack from the north of a band of demons, led by a man called Naraku. Assuming he could be easily defeated, Inutaisho had ridden out with his best soldiers to meet the threat head on, promising his wife and two sons the head of the monster that was responsible for all the trouble. In truth, it had been his own head that was brought back, and Inuyasha would never forget the day he had watched the gates of the castle fall as the demons appeared, dressed in black capes with hoods covering their faces, showing no mercy and killing all in their way.
Inuyasha's mother had taken her two sons and ran for the cellar, clutching a ten year old Inuyasha and a sixteen year old Sesshoumaru to her side desperately. At first they thought they had escaped disaster as the sounds of fighting, struggle, and pillaging had faded. But then the cellar door opened, and Inuyasha came face to face, for the first time, with the demon Naraku.
He had been wearing, of all things, a strange animal cloak with a baboon's head that covered all parts of his face save for his jaw and mouth so that they could see when he was and was not speaking. And at that moment, Inuyasha had witnessed the cruelest smirk he could ever remember.
"Here's your great husband and father," he had chuckled, and brought forth his arm, hurling forward the head of the mighty Inutaisho. Inuyasha had shrieked in surprise, not caring that he was supposed to be a grown up young man by then, Sesshoumaru had simply stared with a look of pure hatred, and their mother had paled so dramatically Inuyasha had believed she would faint.
Finally, after several minutes of silence, Naraku had moved forward to take the sons, but their mother had stepped in front of them protectively, declaring she would have to die before she would see them harmed. And so Naraku had killed her too, right there before Inuyasha's eyes, and it was a memory he would never forget.
Before they had even had a chance to defend themselves, he and Sesshoumaru had found themselves bound and chained as Naraku placed about their neck black diamonds, telling them that the black magic would drain them of their super human strength and healing abilities, making them no better than an ordinary man. Then the brothers had been separated and never seen each other again.
And so, for the past seven years Inuyasha had been forced to work as a slave for different masters, knowing the whole time that his home, the palace where he had once lived with his father, mother, and brother, was now occupied by his mortal enemy, the man he had sworn to kill one day.
He ground his teeth and clenched his hands, trying to circulate the blood to his fingers as he thought about all the rage and the hatred that had been simmering in his heart with each crack of a master's whip over his head…with each barked command…with each reminder that his life was no longer his own.
"Inuyasha? Are you okay?"
The hanyou blinked, having been so lost in memory that he hadn't even noticed when it started raining, only now realizing that his bangs were plastered to his face, his long silver hair matted into a knotted mess, his dog ears atop his head flickering sensitively every time they were hit with a rain drop.
Miroku was giving him a strange look.
"I'm fine," he grunted in reply, glancing up at the sky and letting dozens of tiny droplets pelt his face, wishing they would fall just a little harder so he could really feel the pain. At least then he would be forced to think about something other than his current position.
"What do you think our new home will be like?" Miroku wondered aloud as he bowed his head to protect his eyes.
Inuyasha just shrugged. "I have no idea, and I don't care. It will probably be no different than the other places we've lived, with a master and his slaves."
"Things are changing," Miroku reminded, both of them recalling the rebellions that had been started only to be quickly put down.
"True, but so far they always seem to find a way to stop us."
"I said no talking, slaves! Especially about that. There will be no mutinies on this little trip." This time the driver actually sounded slightly nervous.
The hanyou and his friend fell silent, deciding it wasn't worth the risk of being cast out of the cart and left to die on the road, instead staring at each other and passing the silent message that they would not give up, and that, once settled in their new home, they would try again to rebel.
In the beginning, Naraku had been able to conquer most of the land without trouble, people succumbing in fear, not coming close to comprehending that, by surrendering, they were signing their lives away. The only people allowed to remain in their homes were those who pledged their loyalty to Naraku, and they in turn became the slave masters Inuyasha hated so much.
Traitorous bastards. In his mind, they were no better than Naraku himself.
But now, at last, times were changing, and the general population was growing more courageous, deciding that death was better than living life as animals. And so, wherever Inuyasha and Miroku went, they managed to spark a rebellion, meaning they were constantly moving from home to home, master to master. Both men had long since lost count of how many masters they had served, and how many different beds they'd slept in. All they did know was that their freedom depended on the courage of their fellow slaves, and they would do anything in their power to rouse that courage into a roaring fire.
Naraku's time was coming to an end. And Inuyasha longed for the day when he could personally deliver that message.
The sky was just beginning to turn dark with the coming storm when the young woman returned to the stables, giving her mare over to one of the stable hands, who bowed in respect before leading the animal away to be groomed and fed as she walked quickly back toward the large mansion that was her home. She walked slowly at first, in no apparent hurry, but a crack of thunder sent her scurrying a little faster through the doorway and into the safety of the main hallway, lit with candles and illuminating the many fine portraits and long, elegant stairway.
"Where have you been?" A strong male voice called out almost the minute she was inside the large entryway. Kagome Higurashi looked in the direction of her father's study, where she knew the older man would be at that moment, sitting at his desk doing paperwork as he always did in the afternoons.
"I was out riding," she replied confidently as she stepped through the doorway and into the elegant room, seeing exactly what she had expected, her father at his desk by one of the many windows, a mound of papers on his desk.
He looked up and raised an eyebrow skeptically. "In this weather?"
"It's not raining yet."
"Kagome, I've told you before I don't want you out riding alone, it's not proper for a lady."
"And since when did I ever care about etiquette?" Kagome sat down on a small plush chair across from him, folding the skirts of her simple blue dress out of the way, and began to remove her riding gloves, ignoring the way he put his head in his hands as though he could hardly find the strength to sit up straight. "One of the groomsmen said you were looking for me?"
"Yes," Mr. Higurashi raised his head and looked at her, his dark blue eyes intent on gazing at Kagome's smaller, heart shaped face. "I was thinking you might want to go and visit your grandfather today. It's been a while since we've seen him last, and I think he misses your company."
Kagome raised an eyebrow suspiciously. The only time her father ever cared at all about her mother's father was when he wanted to get his daughter out of the house.
"Does he?" she reiterated, making sure her voice didn't betray her curiosity about why he wanted her gone. Maybe he would tell her on his own. And anyway, she had her suspicions.
"Yes, and since you love him so much, I didn't think you would mind going."
She regarded him for several minutes in silence, an eyebrow raised as she tried to measure the words pouring from his mouth, trying to weigh what was true and what he was saying that was a cover-up for something else.
Kagome had never really been close to her father. It was like he had never known what to do with children, and even when she was young she had memories of him giving her cold stares and harsh glances, telling her she displeased him. Yet he had always been kind and loving towards her in spite of it all, and she had been content. But upon the death of her mother, during all the upheaval Naraku had caused when he killed Lord Inutaisho and took over the palace, Kagome had slowly watched him evolve and change into the man she now saw sitting before her with a face that was carefully hiding some truth from her.
Mrs. Higurashi had died that day when the demon soldiers had come to their home, led by a young woman called Kagura the wind sorceress. She had refused to give up her daughter, and she had died as a result. Kagome had seen the whole thing and then turned to run behind the legs of her father since she had only been nine years old at the time.
Maybe it had been the fact that his wife lay dead at his feet, or perhaps it was his own fear of enslavement, but Mr. Higurashi had declared himself loyal to Naraku at that moment, and so Kagura had left with her soldiers. Before long, slaves had begun to arrive to work the fields surrounding their home, the crops produced always handed over to Naraku, and over time Kagome had watched her father become a cruel slave master, no better than those guilty of killing her mother.
Now he regarded her coolly, and she returned the gesture, both eyeing one another warily before Kagome sighed and looked him straight in the eye. "Why don't you just tell me what is really going on?"
He waved her comment away with a flick of his hand. "It's nothing that concerns you."
Her eyes flared in indignation. "That's always your answer."
"Because that's always the truth."
Kagome sighed in frustration and glanced out the window as the storm poured rain onto the ground, turning all the dirt into mud. The fields were going to be a mess to work tomorrow.
"How many?" She finally asked, and he raised an eyebrow.
"What do you mean?"
"How many slaves are arriving today?"
By the look on Mr. Higurashi's face, Kagome knew she had hit the nail square on the head. He knew she hated slavery, and as such sent her away whenever new slaves arrived. One of the few attempts he made at being sensitive to her feelings. But she refused to be put out of the way this time.
"Two," he replied after a long silence.
"Only two?' Her voice was bitter as she chuckled. "I thought you were more the t type to buy in large numbers."
"These two are rebellious, and no other master would take them. But I promised I would break them of their natures before long."
Kagome sighed dejectedly, her dark eyes clouding over in pain. "Why, father? Why do you have to support this? You know it's wrong…" Her voice sounded tired, even to her ears, reminding Kagome of how long she had been fighting this battle with him.
"It's the only way we survive," he reminded her, and she looked at the ground for several minutes, knowing full well that if it hadn't been for his allegiance to Naraku that day, they would both be in chains as well.
"Maybe I would rather be a slave, or dead, than support that monster," she whispered in reply, and his head shot up.
"What did you say?"
"You heard me," her voice was laced with venom as she gathered her courage. "Mama would have never approved of this, and you know it. Every day you oversee the slaves, you betray her."
They both stared at one another fiercely, neither willing to back down. Kagome knew it was like driving a knife into his heart every time she mentioned his wife, but she didn't care. He deserved every minute of pain she gave him, considering what he did to the poor people under his command.
It was the sound of a horse's hooves that finally broke the moment, forcing them to look away as they both glanced out the window to see a wagon pulling up to the front of the mansion, the driver and the two occupants looking positively soaked. Knowing who they were, and why they had come, Kagome returned her attention to her father. "You will not hide me away this time, father. I will welcome them, just like you, and let them know that in me they will find some form of kindness."
He seemed suddenly tired. "Kagome, this is no place for you."
"If you are going to insist on having slaves in my home, then it involves me, papa," she retorted, straightening her gown and smoothing her hair. "Now, unless you intend to keep them waiting in the rain forever, I suggest you get up and open the door."
She turned and swept out of the room quickly, before he could come up with a reason to keep her away. Why she was being so insistent on watching as two more slaves came to her home, Kagome would never know, but for some reason she felt that it was important she do so. She wanted to comfort them, whoever they were…to make their lives even a little less painful.
Her father came out of his study a few minutes later, staring at her briefly before opening the main door to reveal an elderly gentleman who was sopping wet and shivering from the cold, behind him two men who Kagome couldn't quite make out in the dark of the unlit hallway as the candles were extinguished by a gust of wind from outside.
"Are these the two men I am expecting?" Her father asked in his usual authoritative voice, and the man nodded, water dripping down his forehead as he did so.
"They are, my lord, just like you requested. Now, if you don't mind, I'd like my pay and I'll be on my way. It's a terrible storm, and I'd like to get home to my wife and dry off."
Her father was about to pay the man when Kagome made her appearance, her head held high in pride, a kind smile on her face. "Nonsense, father, the man should stay tonight at our house as a guest." She looked at him, taking in his appearance, from his shaggy, patched clothing to his raggedy hair, tinged with gray. "I couldn't in good conscience send you back out into the storm, sir."
He seemed surprised by the offer, but nodded his head. "Why, thank you, miss. You are too kind, and I would be eternally grateful if I could dry off and rest a bit."
"Of course," Kagome replied, motioning toward the kitchen, "If you just go in there, our cook will fix you something warm to eat, and then you can go up to a guestroom and change."
The man could clearly hardly believe his luck as he nodded and scurried past her into the kitchen before she could change her mind. Kagome just smiled after him, ignoring the look she was currently receiving from her father. She knew how much he hated it when she interfered in his affairs.
It was then that she remembered there were still two men standing on the porch, looking just as wet and cold as the driver of the wagon had. Stepping forward slightly, she observed them more closely, noting that one was clearly not a human because of the dog ears atop his head and the glowing black diamond around his neck, meaning he was under the submission of black magic. His cold amber eyes regarded her with hate, and Kagome resisted the urge to shiver. She had never been looked at that way before, but then, her father also prevented her from ever associating with the slaves, except for Sango, her maid.
In reality, her life was very lonely and isolated.
And yet in that moment she wasn't entirely ungrateful for that. She didn't think she could survive if all the slaves gave her such looks.
"Where are my manners," she commented aloud, trying to ignore the strange demon-man's penetrating gaze as she smiled at the other, clearly human, companion, with his black hair and somewhat kind eyes. "You two probably want some warm soup and a bath to clean up, right?"
They looked at each other for a split second before regarding her again as though she had sprouted horns, and her father stepped up with a frown on his face. "That's enough, Kagome; I think they will be just fine going out to the slave quarters."
But Kagome shook her head, knowing, at the very least, how drafty and cold the slave quarters were, with their ramshackle walls and leaky roofs. She wouldn't send these already chilled men out to catch pneumonia. "Nonsense, for tonight they can stay in the house. And if that displeases you father," she glared at him pointedly, "Then you don't have to speak to either them or myself for the rest of the evening."
Her eyes glowed with triumph as she felt she had won the battle, but then was surprised when the demon shook his head, his glare still in place.
"We don't want your pity, woman," he hissed, and Kagome felt something fall in her gut. There was such contempt in his voice. Surely he didn't think she agreed with slavery? Not after offering to help him?
"It's not my pity I offer to you," she replied, somehow managing to hide the quaver in her voice, "But my hospitality."
"And I say again, we don't want it." His amber eyes flashed, and Kagome lowered her eyes, her cheeks tinged red with embarrassment as her father looked on with a slight amount of superiority, now that he felt his daughter had been put in her place.
"If that is your wish," she muttered, and turned to walk away, but was stopped by a hand on her arm, and she turned to see her father giving her a meaningful stare.
"Don't retire yet, Kagome, I want to speak with you."
That brought her back to life, and Kagome looked up, her own eyes flashing in anger, her cheeks flushed, both from embarrassment and frustration. She knew very well what he wanted to say. He wanted to gloat, and tell her he hoped she'd learned her lesson about helping slaves. "Whatever you have to say to me," she replied coldly, "Can wait until morning. I've lost my appetite for dinner and conversation."
She glanced once more at the two men still standing in the doorway, the black haired youth looking slightly surprised, but the demon-man with silver hair still giving her that hateful stare, before turning and gracefully ascending the stairs, only once she was out of sight allowing the shiver to pass through her body. Those amber eyes, she knew, would haunt her for many days to come.
"Kagome, is something wrong?"
Kagome whirled around to see her maid, Sango, standing just outside the door to her bedroom, a concerned look on her face.
"Oh Sango," tears came to her eyes, and Kagome found herself collapsing against her longtime friend, who just put her arms around her and let her weep silently.
They had been friends long before the revolution with Naraku. Sango was also the daughter of a noble family but, unlike Kagome's father, both her parents, and her younger brother, were killed when their home was attacked, and Sango had refused to ally herself with Naraku. It had only been after much pleading that the woman had been spared a harsh life and instead sent to live with Kagome.
Finally, after several minutes Kagome pulled away, her eyes red, and Sango gave her a steady, questioning look. "What's wrong, Kagome?"
Stepping into her room and sitting down on her large, four poster bed, Kagome sighed and looked at her friend, who sat down beside her. "Father just paid for two more slaves today."
Sango sighed. "You would think he has enough by now to produce more than enough crops."
"It isn't just about the crops any more, Sango; he's become so immersed in this world he's no longer the man my mother married…or the father I knew as a child."
"But is that all that's bothering you? You were never this sad before when new slaves arrived."
"That's because I never met them face to face before. God, Sango," Kagome looked away, trying to block out the image of those cold amber eyes. "One of them looked at me with so much hate; you would think I was responsible for his current condition."
"Kagome," Sango sighed, "All slaves are going to blame anyone who is not a slave, because it means they are allies of Naraku."
"But I'm not!" Kagome shouted but then spoke softer. "It's not my fault my father aligned himself with Naraku when I was only nine. He would have stopped me if I'd tried to rebel, anyway. At least with you, your parents were already dead, so they couldn't stop you from doing what you wanted."
"I don't blame you, Kagome," Sango assured her, "In fact, if it weren't for you, I would probably be out in the fields in chains every day. I still don't know how you negotiated for me to become your maid."
"By throwing myself at my fathers feet and begging," Kagome replied, recalling the day, only a month after her mothers death, when Kagome had seen Sango passing by on the road to another master's home. She had literally fallen to the floor in tears, begging her father to give her the money to buy Sango and, in the end, he had relented. It was one of the few things he had done for her in her young life.
"Either way, you saved me, and I know you would save hundreds more if you could."
"But that doesn't matter." Kagome was shaking her head, her voice suddenly monotone. "I've never talked with any of father's slaves before on a personal level. Only when I go to help them in groups. Do they all look at me the way that one does when my back is turned? Do they all assume I am like my father, and approve of this? Do they all think it is only pity I have to offer them?"
"No," Sango hastily moved to assure her friend. "I talk to them often, and they have nothing but kind things to say about you. Give these two new men time, Kagome; they'll come to understand that you are not like your father at all."
Kagome shook her head again. "But that's not enough."
"What do you mean?"
"I have to do more."
Sango sighed, having had this discussion many times before. "How?"
"By actually going to talk with all the slaves more than I do, and letting them know that I am their friend. Maybe I can even try to bring them food once in a while."
"Kagome, they don't want your pity."
"I'm not offering them my pity!" Kagome snapped back, angry that it was the second time she had heard that phrase in the same evening. "I'm offering them my help!"
Seeing her determined face, Sango sighed and nodded her head. "Alright, but if you're going to do this, I'll need to help you. You'll have to do it secretly, because you know your father won't approve."
"I know," Kagome looked away, out the window in the direction of the fields. At the edge, she could just barely make out a line of huts, which were the slave's quarters. She didn't care what her father thought; she had to do something. What she didn't realize, however, was that soon she would be asked to do more than she was ready for. If only she could have known in that moment that fate had dropped an entire revolution into her lap with the arrival of the silver-haired hanyou, Inuyasha.