Note to whomever asked what the partly-song fic song was in the last chapter… it was "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" by Aerosmith.

And no, Naraku is not "evil," he doesn't even play a key role. He is simply there so I can put Kikyo somewhere when I'm done with her. And he's obviously a family man, if he's "reluctant to expose" his children to Kikyo. I'm sure he's had a shady past, but I don't know if it'll make it to the story.

This Rose of Velvet

Chapter Ten: The Debut

His debut had not gone as planned, but luckily it was still salvageable. He was impatient and that hadn't aided him in the end, but for some reason the Lady Luck was rooting for him. And who in their right mind disputes that sort of help?

It had started with a simple lie to immerse himself directly into the politics. Sesshoumaru was to play a servant, a messenger type, between two large business men in the underground. One of the business men was none other than Naraku, so Sesshoumaru did not think he would have to worry about his lie being unearthed. The other was the burly brother of Hiten Senzra, Manten.

Sesshoumaru was not particularly fond of Manten, but the oaf's stupidity gave him plenty of give when it came to the push and shove of an airtight alibi. Manten, for some reason, was interested in becoming a force of his own in the underground, independent of his brother.

Ambition is the core of the easily manipulated.

What small unraveling that had occurred happened when Hiten got wind of his brother's business with the infamous Naraku. Suspicious that a man so well known would seek out the idiot of the Senzra family, Hiten had put an ungodly amount of oily men on Sesshoumaru's proverbial tail. If that wasn't enough, at least ten had been dispatched to poke at his background.

Considering that at that moment his alias of "messenger" hadn't been given a past yet, Sesshoumaru panicked. Fortune smile upon him, Naraku had gotten wind of it and had immediately notified InuTaisho and Sesshoumaru, and had given his old business associate's white-haired son a suitable fake background as well.

InuTaisho took great pride in the fact that Naraku was invincibly clever and imaginative. Naraku himself was also immensely proud of this, and although Naraku was a prideful creature to begin with, Sesshoumaru had to admit that he had sufficient reason to pat himself on the back.

The messenger's name was Rawn. Rawn had had a troubling past, complete with an abusive father and gang-related violence galore. Naraku became of his acquaintance through his daughter Kanna, as they both went to the same junior highschool. Rawn had been quite submerged in the teenage underground in America, and Naraku had formed dealings with him about illegal merchandise.

Rawn, having proven himself on numerous occasions and now a devoted lackey to Naraku, had been sent to Japan. The reason being that his age made him easy for international travel, as security had no reason to be suspicious of a fourteen-year old.

Naraku also dropped numerous hints about there being an arranged marriage between Rawn and Kanna to scare off any that might hurt him.

"Or so that's how it ends. Picking up here," Sesshoumaru mumbled to himself.

Hiten had only bought his story on account of intimidation factor from Naraku, and that wouldn't keep him from blabbing to his friends, and they would definitely try to keep on eye on him. Sesshoumaru thanked whatever Gods there were that Hiten wasn't involved with Fori.

Tucking his hair up into a courier hat, Sesshoumaru put on a green tweed jacket and faded jeans. Thrusting his delicately clawed hands into the tweed with more than a little disgust, he walked out of his front door and onto the street quickly, not wanted to be associated in any manner with the Hazunuma home.

It only took him about twenty minutes to get to the outskirts of an ugly, graffiti-covered town, the official marker of underground territory being a thin clothesline strung with small bones, human and animal, that hung from building to building like a lost communication line.

Lumps of people covered in dirty rags hovered anxiously about a fire in a large barrel. They were covered from head to toe and shivering. The coldest dropped to his knees and then sat, inches away from where Sesshoumaru walked. Had the city been of skin, they would have been marred flesh, scars telling of a battle between paychecks and drugs.

Wrinkling his nose in mild disgust, he walked further.

Turning down an alley on his left, he followed it to its dank, dark end. The wooden door to the right side was embedded in the brick sadly, like a fly caught. Light shone out from above and beneath the door, littering the garbage cans opposite with false shine. Sesshoumaru pushed on the door lightly and felt it give underneath his fingers.

It opened to a large room with round tables scattered all over, chairs even more topsy-turvy than their larger counterparts.

He walked in as if he belonged, which Sesshoumaru supposed he did, now. By now they'd all heard of Rawn, newspaper boy to Naraku. They all stared rudely, either unaware or uncaring that they were now ill-mannered scum.

Their grins were mostly toothless and utterly bereft of charm. However, as he could not afford to be picky, he sat down next to what he had come to know as a "familiar" at this quaint alcohol-serving establishment.

"Kouga," he greeted as he forced himself to relax in what had to be the hardest goddamned chair in the entire world. The man beside him was cleaner than the rest, at the sweet age of sixteen and reeking of vanity.

Flipping his high ponytail over his shoulder, Kouga turned and grinned widely at him. His smiles had a feral look about them, yet they were endearing nonetheless. Sesshoumaru couldn't help liking the guy, even though he was impulsive and hot-tempered.

"Rawn! Did you hear the news?" Kouga spouted excitedly.

Sesshoumaru smiled quietly to himself. "I did not. What is it?"

Kouga always looked disconcerted when Sesshoumaru spoke, for "Rawn"'s speech was far too cultured to be normal underground. Sesshoumaru simply could not bring himself to use slang. "Dude! I heard the--" Kouga leaned in conspiratorially. "-- that a group has formed on the North side of the city… a group against the Black Queen herself!" Kouga shuddered dramatically. "Once she gets a sniff o' that, she'll go on a friggin' rampage!"

They both thought about that. Both had heard first-hand accounts of the Black Queen's emotional reactions, and they weren't pretty. Usually someone was killed, and it wasn't painless.

Unable to stand the silence no longer, Sesshoumaru turned to Kouga. "Who's behind it?"

"Not a lot of information about that. A handful of people, all plenty powerful and all plenty ballsy. I guess they're keepin' the names on the down low or somethin'."

That was good, at least. Finally, something goes right. "Will you be joining them?"

"Fuck no… do I look suicidal to you? I mean, I'm all for that stupid bitch being put in her place 'n' all, but my father works right under her. I'd be killed as a warning, probably."

"Yes, I suppose you're right." Sesshoumaru declined the waitress's offer of beer. He waited until she had left earshot before continuing. "Your father isn't interested in taking her down? He'd probably make a much better leader…"

He hated lying to Kouga. Somehow, Sesshoumaru had started regarding him as a friend. But Kagome came first.

"Yeah… He keeps saying so," Kouga commented offhandedly. "He's torn between his fear of her and his desire to be in charge. I think he's just waiting, seeing what happens. If her other supporters turned against her he'd probably be among them, y'know?"

"Hm. Yes."

Kouga took a last gulp of his beer then stood. "Ready to hit the town, li'l man?"

Kagome held her hand before her face, her thumb and forefinger pressed together.

Between them, a long, white strand lay.

He had been here. Kagome cursed inwardly as she let the strand drop across her lap. She leaned back against the pillows awkwardly, sighing. Why couldn't she have been awake?

Still, it comforted her that he had even come in again after his outburst.

'I'm sure he's still mad at me,' she thought, a line creasing her brow as she frowned. 'But then why would he come? That means there's hope. That means there's something there… a true friendship.' She was quite sure of it; she had a solid friend. A great victory had been won, against Fori… against Kikyo… They had lost, partly.

The thought drifted to her chest and rested there comfortably. She quite liked the feeling of accomplishment. Although no doubt Fori and Kikyo wouldn't have cared… at least not as much as Kagome did. But still. Victory was victory, no matter how you dressed it up, no matter how you stomped it down.

Victory felt good.

"Oh, Kikyo…" InuYasha groaned into her breastbone. His breath ticked along her neck as he kissed up it….

His hands felt immature, fumbling and shaking. Pressing, squeezing… How could he not know it hurt when he grabbed her chest like that? The feeling of his weight on top of her made her feel sick. She turned her head to the side for fresh air, pressing her face through his hair to get away… Away!

The act itself was unbearable. He thrust wildly. Unlearned. Every time he drove in, up to the hilt, she winced in pain, felt the tears sting her eyelids, felt her throat close up as it tried to contain a scream. Her entire body jarred into the mattress when she did not move with him… and she couldn't force herself to move with him.

InuYasha felt lost in an ocean of pleasure, oblivion. Her thighs, her stomach, all of her felt so good against his bare skin. His body screamed in bliss, don't stop, don't stop! He buried his face in the crook of her neck as he felt himself nearing the edge.

The orgasm came in an earth-shattering instant, his muscles contracting desperately before utterly relaxing. Unable to hold himself up, he fell onto Kikyo's softness. Sweat slicked is stomach, lubricating. As the feeling left him he pulled himself up to her mouth and kissed her.

She let him kiss her. His fingertips fluttered across her arms, causing goosebumps in their wake. Ignoring the pain slicing up through her body, she tried to turn herself to stone. It didn't work.

He pulled out of her heavily, obviously reluctant to leave. He let his lips linger all over her, then dropped back to kiss her on the lips again. As her breasts brushed against his chest, he breathed in shakily.

Kikyo could barely stop herself from weeping as she felt him grow hard again.

Sesshoumaru was restless. Kouga kept going to low-grade parties… when Sesshoumaru wanted to go to the big guys… the guys with power. He wanted to talk with the ones in command, but as Kouga didn't know any, he had reached a dead end.

They were all doing coke, and dancing. The warehouse was abandoned, and lights had been set up everywhere and were flashing spastically. There were various sluts dancing on small stages. Some were on the dance floor, and it got to the point where you couldn't tell who was a whore and who wasn't.

Sesshoumaru declined the drug so many times that night that he figured "No, thanks" was going to be his new nickname underground. He had been given sultry looks from the sluts that he ruthlessly ignored. His eyes roamed about lazily, when they saw a new face to the scene.

He focused a bit on the subject. His breath caught in recognition. Kurina Senzra. She was the sister to Hiten and a one-woman powerhouse in the underground. She was Kurina's left-hand at the moment… She had been for at least three months now. Fori was well-known for changing her favor as quickly as her socks.

He had discarded the jacket and was left in ratty jeans and a tight tank top. It hugged his torso like an enraptured prostitute. Bringing his cap down lower on his forehead so she couldn't see his eyes, he leaned against the wall as if in boredom.

Relying on his magnetism was a longshot, he'd decided, but he couldn't approach her without her being suspicious. She wasn't beautiful by any standards, pretty, but not beautiful. It would be better if she came to him.

It didn't take long. Kurina saw him right away and watched him for quite a while. When he didn't move, she stood and walked over casually. She wore a low-cut, skimpy outfit that could only be described as a leather swimsuit that shrunk in the wash. But, she wore it well.

Sesshoumaru let his eyes drift over to her slowly, their gazes locking. He smiled slowly and raised an eyebrow minutely.

Encourage, she strode to him, finally standing in front of him. Way inside his personal space bubble. He reminded himself that this was for Kagome.

"Hello," she said, her eyelashes fluttering a bit.

Sesshoumaru stood fully, looking at her with interest. So what if she mistook that interest for interest in her? Interest was interest. Even though he was only fourteen and stood only at five foot seven, he dwarfed her easily.

"Hello," he purred out convincingly. He could be a good actor when it was needed.

"Dance with me," she ordered, obviously used to getting her own way. She grabbed his collar with one finger and tugged lightly towards the dance room floor.

"With pleasure," he responded readily, allowing himself to be pulled along like an errant puppy. Inside, her bristled at the way he was treated, and promised to exact a personal revenge on all who considered him either a lowlife or a toy.

When they got to the dance floor, she pressed against him. He was male, and felt her body, and couldn't control the fire that swept through his blood at the contact. Barely managing to keep himself in restraint, he pressed back.

"I'm Kurina," she whispered, looking at him through her lashes.

"Rawn," he answered, looking at her as if she was the only woman in the world. And if you had asked him later, he probably would have said so… just for different reasons than she surmised. Made it easy enough.

"Sexy," she commented, then pressed into him again.

Later, they sat at a table. She ordered a fancy drink. He ordered water. She raised her eyebrows at his choice, then sipped her drink daintily.

"Like to keep yourself clean?" she asked, smirking to herself.

"In certain respects."

She grinned at that, biting her lower lip. Kurina, a woman of twenty-two and an adamant liver of life, was not one to miss innuendo. "Cleanliness is next to Godliness, they say."

"'They' would be correct."

"Where did you say you came from?"

"America. I'm a correspondent of Naraku's… I've also been asked to check things out, to see how things are developing underground in Japan. He doesn't seem too happy with what he's seen."

She frowned, not expecting the sudden seriousness of the conversation. Still, it intrigued her. "What does he not like?"

"He says that… this Black Queen is not a leader with vision. He feels there are ways to expand upon the underground, to make it more powerful in the city, and the Queen just isn't suited for the job."

Kurina looked ready to defend Fori, but he could see the doubt and captivation in her eyes. Sesshoumaru cut her off quickly.

"He's been looking for some other, more promising leaders to reinstate…" Letting the sentence drop, he sipped his water, forcing a look of thoughtfulness on her face as he looked at her.

The Senzra sister looked nearly breathless with anticipation. She sat up a little straighter. Her elbows rested in the table, and she folded her fingers together, leaning her chin on them. "And… am I on the list?" But he could tell from his face that she was.

"Yes," he said, smiling. "He thinks you have more leadership qualities, more astuteness when it comes to the business applications of this… entitlement."

She didn't say more, looking a bit fearful of eavesdroppers, but dropped back into her chair and sipped her drink slowly, thinking. Sesshoumaru felt himself scream in victory beneath his easy-mannered façade. He had gotten to her, had taken a great chance when it came to her loyalties. Obviously, being loyal wasn't prized when it came to a leader like Fori.

He masked his smile by bringing his glass to his lips for a sip.

A/N Done with this chapter! Whooo… seemed a lot shorter than it really was. It just kept going… the words seemed sorta forced… I may just come back to it and brush up on it. But! As I've kept you waiting too long, I'll give you it beforehand!

Happy reading, faithful readers!