Hello, all! I have reposted chapter one for you all because something went wrong with the original. I'm sorry for the inconvenience! Chapter twelve will be up as soon as I finish it!

Citrus Severus

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters of Inuyasha.

"Kagome! Hey, Kagome! Will you wait up?"

Inuyasha growled at Kagome as she sped up, ignoring him. Inuyasha caught up with her and proceeded to move himself in front of her so she would have to stop. And she did.

"Leave me alone, Inuyasha." She hissed.

"What the hell is your problem, Kagome?"

She glared at the hanyou. Behind them, Sango, Miroku, and Shippo sat on Kirara, watching the fight unfold.

"My problem, Inuyasha? My problem? Think about it!"

Inuyasha raised an eyebrow. Obviously, he had no clue as to what she was babbling on about.

"Oh. So you really don't know, then. Well, let me refresh your memory! This morning…your forest…behind the well…almost right in front of me. You. Kikyo. Kissing."

His eyes widened.

"I didn't think you would be back today!"

"Oh. So that makes it okay, then."

"No…I was just…"

"Save it, Inuyasha. I've heard the excuses before. And you know what? I'm through. I'll help you find one more jewel shard, and then…I'm going home!"

"But, Kagome…I—"

"SIT, SIT, SIT!"

Kagome shouted. Inuyasha slammed to the ground, creating a crater. Both Sango and Miroku shook their heads. Lately, this had been happening more often…Inuyasha and Kagome…fighting over Kikyo. Shippo had been sleeping, and had not heard the commotion that had taken place. He awoke long after, questioning both Kagome and Inuyasha as to why the scent of anger and hatred was so strong in the air. As they walked, Inuyasha fell behind to walk with Sango and Miroku. Kagome was in front of them, while Shippo walked beside Inuyasha briefly.

"Inuyasha…why are you and Kagome so angry with each other? Why did you fight? I can smell it."

"No reason, Shippo." Inuyasha lied. And Shippo knew it.

"You're lying to me, Inuyasha! What did you do to Kagome this time?"

"What…did…wait! Why the fuck is it always me that does something to her? Why can't she ever do anything to me?!"

"Because my okaasan's not a big meanie like you, Inuyasha. She would never treat you like you treat her." Shippo stuck out his tongue.

SMACK!

"Owww! Okaasan! Okaasan! Inuyasha hit meeee!" Shippo yelled. Kagome turned around to face Inuyasha from the front of their little line, glaring heavily at him.

"Why do you always have to pick on him, Inuyasha? What did he ever do to you?"

"He—"

"I don't care if you think he started it first, Inuyasha! This is ridiculous! He has never done anything to deserve being hit. You are so…"

She paused.

"C'mon, Kagome. Say it. I'm what?"

"You're such…you're such a bastard, Inuyasha!"

"Well, Kagome. Now that we know how you really feel about me." Inuyasha snarled.

"I wouldn't have to if you would just wake up and realize that you're rude, crude, and you…you're in love with a dead woman!"

"You take that back, bitch! She's not dead!"

"She is. And you know why? She's made…out…of…clay!"

"Damn it, Kagome! You take it back!"

"No! I won't! She doesn't belong here…she isn't supposed to be alive! And she's tried to kill me on more than one occasion…yet you still love her! Do you remember that she took half of my soul? Kami, Inuyasha! What the hell is wrong with you?!"

"There's nothing wrong with me, Kagome. But there's about to be something wrong with you, if you don't shut up!"

"Oh, Inuyasha. You're right." Kagome planted a fake smile onto her face. Then, Inuyasha knew what she was going to do.

"I will shut up. But first…"

"Kagome, don't…"

"SIT, SIT, SIT, SIT, SIT!"

"Oh…chikushou…"

SLAM!

Inuyasha again slammed into the ground, groaning briefly before passing out completely.

"Kagome…you really did a number on him." Sango called out.

"Yeah. I did. That jerk! Who does he think he is?" She shouted.

"My dear Kagome," Miroku started as he slid off of Kirara's back. "You must be patient with Inuyasha…he is simply too idiotic to realize how utterly important you really are to him."

"I've been patient with him long enough, Miroku. This is the last straw. He loves her…Kikyo. He always has. I will never be good enough for him…and as long as Kikyo is in this world…lingering…I will cease to exist to him. When he looks at me, I can see it in his eyes. He's thinking of her. And I'm tired of waiting around…for something to happen. It never will. She will always be in my way."

"Kagome, you mustn't give up hope."

"Oh, Miroku. You just don't understand it from my point of view. I appreciate your trying to help me…I really do. But, the fact of the matter is…the only reason I am here is to find the jewel shards. And if that's all I'm good for, I don't want to stay here anymore. It would hurt too much. That's why…I've decided to go home."

"Well, when you come back…"

"I won't be coming back, Miroku. You don't need me here. The jewel shards are practically being brought to us. And Inuyasha…once he completes the jewel…he and Kikyo can finally be together. And I don't have to worry about not being able to get home. You will forget about me, eventually. And you will live a happy life. I'm sure I'll hear about you someday in the future. And I'll hear about Inuyasha and Kikyo, too. But this is just too painful. I can't do this to myself anymore. I'm…dying…inside."

A tear slid down Sango's face as she listened to Kagome's heartfelt explanation for leaving.

"Kagome, please don't leave us. I know you don't think so…but we really do need you here. And though Inuyasha will not admit it, he cares for you too."

"Not in the way I care for him. And it will never be that way."

"Okaasan! Please don't leave me! Inuyasha will torture me when you are gone! And I will miss you!"

"Oh, Shippo. If I could bring you with me, I would. But…I don't think that modern Japan would be ready to see a Kitsune cub…I really…I wish I didn't have to go!"

Tears began flowing down her reddened cheeks as she bent down to hug her adopted son.

"Then don't! Or come back and visit! But…please…don't leave us!"

"I can't do that, Shippo. Because, someday, when the Shikon is complete, I won't be able to come back and see you anymore. Kikyo will most likely take over the duty of protecting the jewel again once I am gone…if she doesn't drag Inuyasha to hell with her. Which…right now…sounds like a plan to me."

"But…"

"I know it's going to be lonely…I'm going to miss you too. But maybe you'll see me again in the future. I mean, you are a full-blooded demon, you know. You'll live for a long time."

"What about Sango and Miroku?"

"They know what I have to do…why I have to go. They will miss me too. But it's the right thing to do."

"No!" Shippo clung to Kagome's legs as she stood up from the ground.

"Shippo…please…"

"You can't leave me! You're the only okaasan I have! Don't leave me like my other one did…"

Sango slid off of Kirara and ran to Shippo and Kagome. She knelt down to Shippo's level and gently pried him from her leg.

"No! No!" He cried. This made Kagome begin to cry even harder. She turned to Miroku and handed him the shards of the jewel that hung around her neck.

"Thank you so much, Miroku…for being my friend. For being there when I needed you. You have no idea how much I appreciate that."

"It was nothing, Kagome. You are truly a great person, and I admire you for staying so long…under such stressful conditions."

"I…I'm going to miss you, Miroku." Kagome cried as she hugged the monk tightly. For once, he did not try to grope her, but instead, returned the hug wholeheartedly and in a friendly way.

She let go and made her way over to Sango, who was still holding the sobbing kitsune.

"Sango, you have been like a sister to me all this time. And you have never once treated me otherwise, from nearly the first moment I saw you. You have looked out for me. And I will treasure our relationship for the rest of my life. I will never forget you, Sango"

"Nor I you, Kagome. I'm going to miss having you around. You're going to leave me the only human girl here. I mean, I'll have Kirara, but it's just not the same."

"I know. Just try…try not to give Miroku too hard a time. And tell Inuyasha when he wakes up…that I know that he and Kikyo will one day find happiness together. And the only way that could ever happen is if I was out of the picture. I'm doing this for me…and for him, in a way. Call it a sad, sweet, parting gift, if you will."

"Oh, Kagome….take care of yourself in the future. I don't think I'll ever see you again…so…if I don't…look for me in those history books of yours…maybe we'll be in it…in some legend or something."

"Okay, Sango." She smiled slightly. Shippo, who was still in Sango's arms, did not turn to look at Kagome. He was still sobbing.

"Goodbye, Shippo. I love you, my son."

That was the first time she had ever vocally acknowledged him as her own son. He had called her 'okaasan' many times before. And she had loved him for it…so he had always known from that point on that he was her son. But she had finally said it. She turned from the group of people she knew would be her truest friends throughout her life…although she would meet many others. No one could replace Miroku, Sango, and Shippo. And even Inuyasha. They had all been with her through thick and thin. But she just couldn't take the constant heartbreak any longer. It was as she had explained. The hurting…the aching of her heart for Inuyasha…was causing her to die inside. She was no longer whole. She trudged, dejected and weary, to the sight of her final journey back from the Sengoku Jidai. The well.

Meanwhile, during all of this, Inuyasha's brother, Sesshomaru, had been traveling home from a recent hunt when he spotted the group as he was on his cloud in the sky. He heard the argument between his foolish hanyou brother and his stupid ningen wench. He laughed cruelly to himself.

'This is what that fool Inuyasha should have gotten all along. He does not deserve that ningen bitch. Even she is better than that hanyou.'

He listened to the girl explain to her friends why she must leave. And it suddenly hit him. She would not be coming back…wherever she was going. He watched her sob, tears running freely down her cheeks. He heard her call the small kitsune cub 'son.' He hadn't known she had borne a kitsune cub…was it possible that she had taken it in as her own? And then he noticed that she was headed in the opposite direction. Alone.

'Foolish child. Does she not know that any number of youkai could be out…for human flesh? And she chooses to walk alone. She is truly a stupid ningen.' Suddenly, a thought popped into his mind.

'The girl is no longer traveling with my imprudent brother. She is going home. And has nothing to come back to the group for. They will not come searching for her…and she is a miko…untrained…but a miko, nonetheless. She could be of some use to me, not to mention the fact that she obviously takes a liking to small children. And Rin could use a human female's influence in her life right now…youkai just isn't doing enough…someday the girl will have to go off on her own. She needs to be taught things that neither Jaken nor I can teach. Hai…this girl will do nicely…'

He followed her until she was well out of sight of her friends before he slowly descended from the sky to the forest. He trailed silently and quickly behind her until he was no less than ten feet away.

As she walked, Kagome could sense something in the forest. She had never been properly taught how to use her miko powers, as there was not enough time. However, pure instinct told her that something was not right. She called out to the presence.

"Hello? Helloooo? I know someone's there! Who is it? Show yourself! Hello? Hello?"

No answer from a corporeal form…just the wind blowing silently through her hair.

"This is really creeping me out! Whoever's there, show yourself! I won't hurt you…unless you try to hurt me! So just show yourself, okay? Inuyasha? Sango? Miroku? Hello? Anyone?"

Silence.

The hair on her arms and neck stood up as the feeling got worse…she knew then and there that she could be in danger. Slowly, she plucked an arrow from the pack on her back (A/N:…most people would call this a backpack…heh…but I hate that word. Back…pack…why can't you just call it a pack on the back?!  Back to the story!) and proceeded to notch it into her bow. But before she could, Kagome heard something behind her. A twig snapping…the rustle of grass. She whirled around quickly, and what she saw terrified her so much that she forgot she was holding the bow and arrow…and dropped them to the ground, backing up and away from the figure of horror that stood in front of her. The source of many of her nightmares.

"S…Sesshomaru!" She whispered, frightened.

He took a step closer to her.

She backed away…until she ran into a tree. And there was nowhere else to go unless she turned away from him. And that was not a good idea.

"Miko. You are alone in this forest, ne?" His cold voice sent shivers up her spine.

"Uh…heh…you see…I was just on my way to get some things, and then I was going to go back to Inuyasha…"

"Do not lie. You are alone in this forest, and you are leaving the hanyou. You are not returning."

"I…I am not lying!"

"I overheard your interesting conversation, ningen. And I can sense it when those who are in my presence are lying when asked a question. Usually, they do not live to see another day when they lie to me."

He smiled evilly and flexed his claws as a green, acrid poison seeped out of them and to the ground. He inched closer to her, sensing her fear rise. How he longed to force her to run…to hunt her…to kill her then. Her scent was intoxicating to him. Small pinpricks of red began to tint his golden orbs as he sniffed the air around them once more.

Kagome's eyes widened. He was sniffing her?

"I…"

"Tell me the truth…and I might spare your worthless life, bitch."

"I…I…was…leaving Inuyasha to go home…and…and…"

"And?"

"I was…not going to come back…like…like you said…"

"You are at a disadvantage, then, miko. All alone in this dark forest. With so many dangerous youkai about. You could get yourself killed." He flexed his claws again as he inched even closer to her. Soon, he was but mere inches away from her face. She flinched as he brought his hand to her neck, tracing it, and then moving to her jaw line.

"Ah. You are frightened of me. Good." He hissed, which made Kagome shiver.

"Uhh…" She stammered.

"And you should be. Because…I…am not a kind youkai, little miko. I kill pathetic humans like yourself for pleasure."

"Then why haven't you killed me yet?"

"Perhaps I am playing with you. You could be my next meal."

"Didn't your mother ever tell you not to play with your food before you eat it?" She sneered.

'This one has spunk. It will be a pleasure to break her.' He thought as she glared angrily at him.

"Then I suppose I'm not going to eat you then, am I, bitch?" He crooned.

"What do you want with me?" Kagome whispered.

'Are you sure you really want to know?' Her subconscious answered in her mind.

'Yes! I mean, if he's going to keep me…and alive…I might be able to contact Inuyasha somehow, and he'll come and save me!'

'Bull, Kagome. He doesn't care about you. He loves Kikyo. Hell, he'd probably rejoice if he knew Sesshomaru had you…he'd never have to worry about seeing you again.'

She was having an argument with her subconscious. How insane was that? She mentally slapped herself and looked back into the golden orbs of Sesshomaru.

"You are coming with me."

"But where?"

"You do not have the right to address me."

"What?"

"Did you not hear me, ningen? Bitches such as yourself are not allowed to have any physical contact with me unless I permit it, nor are they allowed to speak to me unless given permission."

"I don't care what they are or aren't allowed to do! This is called kidnapping! And I'm not going! Do you hear me?! And…I have a name! It's Kagome! Ka-go-me!"

"I do not care what your name is. You have not earned the right to be called by it, bitch." He snarled dangerously.

"Stop calling me that!"

"I have had enough of your disobedience, girl. You will shut your mouth now, or face the consequences of your actions."

"And what would those be, Sesshomaru?"

He blanched at hearing his name said so informally by a human.

"You will watch your tongue when addressing me, ningen."

"What exactly does that mean, Sesshomaru? I can't call you that?"

"No. You will address me as Sesshomaru-sama, or Lord Sesshomaru." His face was a stoic mask.

"Then I suppose calling you Fluffy is out of the picture."

"You try my patience. It is wearing quite thin."

"I don't care! I'm going home!"

"You will not move an inch. Do you understand me?"

"No."

"No? Well. I suppose I will have to make you." He whispered into her ear.

"You…"

She stopped in mid-sentence as she realized how incredibly close he was to her body. His chest was pressed up against hers. She could feel his warmth. All of a sudden, she felt an arm wrap around her waist. And another arm…wait…another?

'But…how…is that possible? Inuyasha severed it at the battle for the Tetsusaiga in their father's grave!'

"How…did you get your arm…back…" She trembled.

"Ah. It is rather fascinating, you see. One thing my foolish imbecile of a brother failed to remember is that when a demon's appendage, such as an arm, is severed, it can grow back. It may take a while, but eventually, one will regain the use of…in my case…an arm." He smirked malevolently. Kagome shivered.

He tightened his grip on her, and pulled her so close to his body, she could not only now feel his chest, but his groin pressing on her thigh as well. She blushed, and for a moment, felt very aroused by her position.

Sesshomaru sensed this rise in her arousal, and smirked inwardly.

'She is embarrassed…and aroused by our close proximity. This is quite interesting. So many emotions. I will take pleasure in showing her complete and total submission to my will. And fear. Oh yes…I must not forget to show her pain. And suffering. At my hand. This miko will break, and will bend to my every command when I am finished with her. Only then will she be fit enough to raise my Rin. But…I do not want to completely break her spirit…or she will die. And I will have to search for a motherly figure once more. I will not allow that to happen.'

"Miko. You are coming with me. Now."

And in no less than a second, before Kagome could even react…they bounded into the sky, and were traveling through the cool air on a red cloud. He was holding her in his arms, hers were wrapped around his neck. As she looked down, she saw the ground and the few houses and people scattered about.

'Ohhh…I hate heights! This is bad…this is very bad…oh kami!'

She turned her head and buried it in Sesshomaru's chest, blocking her view of the earth and sky beneath them.

"What's the matter, little miko? Afraid of heights, are we?" He chuckled slightly. It reverberated in his throat, vibrating to meet Kagome's ears. She calmed somewhat.

'So he wasn't planning on dropping me, then.' She let out a sigh of relief.

"You ningens are so fragile. And frightful. Do you not think that if I wanted to drop you, I already would have?"

"Mmph…I don't know…" She said, her voice muffled in the thick cloth of his haori.

"You are strange, little miko. I do not understand why else my brother would keep you around other than for a shard detector. You are highly annoying."

"I am not!" She shouted, still not turning her head from his chest.

"You are. And you are virtually helpless for a miko. You are a burden. You slow Inuyasha down considerably. I can see why he would not want you at all now. He instead chose the dead miko Kikyo. Is that not true?"

That struck a chord in Kagome's heart. She had wanted to go home and forget all about that stupid hanyou. But here she was, discussing him with a taiyoukai, while flying on a red cloud to kami knows where.

"Hai. It is."

"And that is why you left him."

"Hai."

"He will not miss you, miko. You are better off with me."

"What?!"

"I do not repeat myself, miko. You will learn this in time. You will stay with me in my castle, and I will train you to be the miko you are destined to. And in turn, you will help me."

"How?" She asked, finally raising her head to meet his, down-turned golden orbs penetrating her dark chocolate eyes.

"You will find this out once we arrive at our destination."

"Why can't you just tell me now?"

"Be quiet."

"But I—"

"I said, silence."

"Yes, Lord Sesshomaru." She sighed.

'What's this, then? She has decided to call me by my formal name. This may be somewhat easier than I had anticipated.'

"I am surprised, miko. It did not take you long to speak my name formally. Why is it that you chose to?"

"Because…I…I hoped…you said…I hadn't earned it yet…to be called by my name. I…thought if I called you by yours…the way you wanted it…you might extend me the same courtesy. I know I hate being called bitch…"

"Do not curse in front of me, miko."

"Gomen…I know I hate being called dirty names…and…I figure that you don't like being addressed so…commonly."

"You are correct in your assumption. But what makes you think I will some day extend the same courtesy to you?"

"I don't know…I just hope."

He lifted his head up to glance once more at the sky, and she could not see it, but his eyes sparkled slightly in amusement, and the corners of his mouth twitched faintly.

Kagome soon found herself getting quite cold in the air that they were flying through, and her body gave off a small shiver. Sesshomaru noticed this.

"Miko. You will let go of me."

"What! I knew this was too good to be true! You're gonna—"

He dropped her from his body, and as she began to scream, she realized that she was standing on something solid.

"Your cloud…I'm…not falling."

"No you are not." As he spoke, he removed the outer layer of his haori and held it out to her.

'I do not know why I am doing this…I do not care about this ningen, or her weakness. But for some reason, I do not want her to be uncomfortable…especially around this Sesshomaru.' He thought.

She stared at him for a moment, confused.

"You are to take this, and wear it. I notice you are cold."

"Hai…I am…thank you."

He nodded slightly, and took the robe from his outstretched hand. She hurriedly put it on, and immediately felt warmer.

He could sense her aura change from angry and scared to warm and content…it seemed that for that moment, she was happy.

"You know, once you get over the initial height factor, it's really beautiful."

He did not speak, but simply raised an eyebrow at her.

"Oh. Right. Excuse me. I can't talk to you unless I'm given permission." She spat.

She was angry again.

'Ningens. Their emotions change so quickly'

"That is correct."

"Why is that?"

"Excuse me?"

"I mean, why can't I talk to you? Who else am I supposed to talk to? Myself?"

"Weak and foolish ningens such as yourself are not permitted to speak with demons of noble blood such as this Sesshomaru."

"I'm not weak, and the last time I checked, I wasn't foolish."

"You do not understand. These are our customs in the Western Lands. Therefore, you will follow them. I can see by your way of dress that you are not from these lands. In your village, I am certain that you may speak with whomever you choose. This is not the case in my kingdom. You will not speak unless spoken to when around nobility. As for the servants, you may have conversations whenever you wish. Except at dinner and all other meals. You will respect their presence, and nod when you receive your plate. Other than that, your mouth is to remain shut, and the only thing that will be heard out of you is the sound of your breathing. Do you understand?"

"Fine."

"You will not speak in such a disrespectful tone. When I ask you a question, you will reply with the proper words in which to address me."

"Fine. Hai, Lord Sesshomaru."

"That is better. Your attitude needs improvement, however. Had you been any other ningen, I would have killed you already. You are of some worth. And this is the only reason you are still breathing."

'How comforting. Jeez! What a jerk!'

Kagome gave up on speaking with the taiyoukai and stood on the cloud next to him, gazing down at the ground below them.

Slowly, however, her feet and legs began to tire greatly from standing for such a long period of time. She wanted to sit down, but wasn't sure she could.

'I would ask. But I can't. Because 'Lord Fluffy' over here has issues about 'lowly ningens' asking him questions.'

As soon as she had thought that, however, the taiyoukai chose to speak.

"We are almost at the castle. I will tell you this only once, miko, so listen carefully. For if you do not understand, I will not be responsible for what becomes of you. At night in my castle, there are servants, guards, and a few of my kin that wander around uninhibited. You are not permitted to, under any circumstances, wander beyond your place of rest. If you do, those who are demon in my household will not hesitate to hunt you and kill you. Ningens who are on my property are killed immediately after being seen, unless directed otherwise by myself. However, even though I will give strict orders for you to be left to yourself, I cannot control what happens while I am away or busy."

"Wh—"

"Do you understand?"

"Hai, Lord Sesshomaru, but—"

"There will be time for questions later, miko. For now, you should be silent and do what I tell you to."

She nodded silently.

'Boy, if Inuyasha could see me now…oh…Inuyasha. Why did you choose Kikyo over me? What did I do wrong?' She thought as they descended through the clouds. A large castle soon appeared. She could see a garden behind it, and what looked to be a large dojo…at least ten to fifteen times larger than she had ever seen.

"This is a really big dojo!"

"Keep your mouth shut, miko. I do not like to repeat myself. And I will not do it again."

Kagome glared at Sesshomaru. Soon, they were on the ground, in front of the dojo. She was amazed at the beauty of it, and the plants and flowers surrounding the large building.

'This is prettier than most of the shrines…and it's a building where you're taught to fight!'

As she began to unconsciously walk towards it, a firm hand being placed on her shoulder stopped her.

"You'll not go anywhere near that dojo unless I tell you to."

'The great Lord Fluffy again. Wonderful. Can't I do anything right?'

He continued speaking.

"Some of my most powerful soldiers train there every day…all day. And if they see you around, they are most likely to use you for target practice for their powers. If you disobey me, you might pay with your life."

'Sure. That's his answer to everything. Why should I even be surprised?'

"Come, miko. There is something I must show you."

But before she could even follow him, she saw the doors of the impressive dojo open. His grip on her shoulder tightened. She knew he wanted her to be silent and respectful.

Out of the dojo came a group of demons, all of who kowtowed to Sesshomaru respectfully, and stared at the strange human girl with interest. Many of them, however, left after taking a whiff of her. They knew that she had been brought by their lord, and would not interfere with her.

One remained. He was a tall demon, with long hair the color of a tinted blue ice placed into a high ponytail atop his head. He had eyes that burned into her, although they matched his hair in intensity. Ice cold. He had a navy blue jagged mark that lined his right cheek, and she noticed he was wearing a hakama the color of a smoldering fire.

"Good evening, milord."

"Ah. Sorahiko. Practicing in the dojo again, I see."

"Hai, milord. I have been training my men to prepare for their tests. I believe most of them are worthy of your army. A few are lacking in the proper skills, however. They will be dealt with later, I can assure you."

"Good. I trust there has been no problem with your new slave?"

"Not any. She is completely submissive. Where did you find such a jewel?"

"I have my sources."

Kagome turned to face Sesshomaru. He smirked.

'I can't believe they're talking about slaves right in front of me. How rude! Slavery is wrong!'

She blushed in anger as she turned back to stand facing the blue eyed demon once more.

Sorahiko sensed her anger soar at hearing mention of his slave. He hadn't known a ningen wench could be so passionate about something so trivial as slaves. He decided to break the ice and try to make friends with this girl since it appeared to him that she would be staying for quite some time.

"And just who, may I ask, is this enticing sakura blossom you have standing in front of you?"

"A girl I captured not even a day ago. From my half-brother. The hanyou I was talking about."

"Ah…Inuyasha, was it?"

"Hai."

"And what is her name?"

"I believe it was Kagome, was it not, girl?"

She nodded.

"She is very silent, ne? Such a good ningen. You don't meet many that are respectful. Or who know their place."

"Hai. You don't. However, I have instructed this one not to speak unless given permission. She neither knows her place, nor is respectful in the least."

Kagome glared angrily at no one in particular…but Sorahiko knew that look was meant for Sesshomaru. If looks could kill, he would have been struck dead at that very moment.

"I see. Well, she may speak in front of me, if that is not a problem."

Kagome turned to look Sesshomaru in the eye. He removed his hand from her shoulder, and nodded.

"I'm…Kagome Higurashi."

"Nice to meet you, Kagome. I'm Sorahiko. I work for Lord Sesshomaru."

"He is one of my most trusted soldiers." Sesshomaru spoke up behind them.

"Oh." Kagome said, not knowing what else to talk about.

"Where are you from, Kagome?"

"Uh…around…it's…not a village you know about."

"You do not look as if you come from around here. The way you are dressed would suggest you came from some distant world…none of the ningens I have seen in my travels have worn such provocative clothing."

She blushed.

"Letting such a beautiful young woman such as Kagome run around in these clothes is taking a great risk, Lord Sesshomaru. Kami knows what would happen to her if she were on her own…ningen or not…an unruly demon would take her."

"I agree, Sorahiko. She will be given new clothes when I can get her measurements."

"Well. It was a pleasure meeting you, Kagome Higurashi. I hope we shall meet again soon. Good day, milord."

Sorahiko knew he would be meeting her again soon…he was to show her to her room. Sesshomaru had instructed him to do this earlier…he had known he was going to bring someone back for the young Rin. It had been decided earlier that week that the great taiyoukai would find someone suitable and bring her to the castle.

He nodded. As Sorahiko walked away, Kagome blushed a great deal. He had been so nice to her. Most of the upper-level demons that Kagome had met, such as Sesshomaru, had treated her like she was dirt…well…besides Koga.

'And he called me…heh…an…enticing sakura blossom…'

Her thoughts were interrupted when she heard someone clear their throat behind her.
"You are wasting time, miko. You are to be shown to your rooms promptly, and…"

"Sesshomaru-sama! Sesshomaru-sama!" A voice broke through his sentence, causing him to turn his head to face the intruder. It was a little girl, Kagome realized.

'A…human…girl? Why would he…wait! This is the girl that Sesshomaru had traveling with him before! What was her name?' She thought.

"Rin…"

'Ah, yes! Rin!'

"Rin missed Sesshomaru-sama! Where did Sesshomaru-sama go? Jaken-sama said that Sesshomaru-sama was leaving Rin because Rin is annoying."

"Do not pay any attention to Jaken's ramblings, Rin."

"Hai, Sesshomaru-sama! Sesshomaru-sama, who is the pretty lady standing in front of Rin?"

"This…" He motioned for Kagome to move towards him. "This is Kagome."

"Hi, Kagome! Rin is Rin!"

"Nice to meet you, Rin."

"Is Kagome going to stay at Sesshomaru-sama's castle and be Rin's friend?"

She looked at him. He raised an eyebrow, as if to say, 'You're on your own.'

"Umm…hai…for a little while, at least."

"Yay! Rin has a new friend! Rin is happy!"

Rin ran in circles around Kagome and Sesshomaru, shouting how happy she was, until Sesshomaru kneeled down to the ground, and stopped her.

"Rin, what have I told you about interrupting?"

"Rin is sorry, Sesshomaru-sama." The little girl looked truly upset when Sesshomaru reprimanded her. "Rin missed Sesshomaru-sama so much…Rin couldn't wait to say it when Sesshomaru-sama came home…Rin did not think about interrupting. Rin is sorry." She hung her head in embarrassment and shame. Sesshomaru took a claw and hooked it under her chin, bringing her eyes up to meet his.

"Rin, you should know better. But I am not angry with you. It is all right to miss someone while they are gone. However, you could have waited to speak with me. Is that understood?" He spoke gently.
"Hai, Sesshomaru-sama. Rin will not interrupt again."

"Good girl."

The little girl smiled, eyes twinkling, at Sesshomaru. Kagome could tell that Sesshomaru, although he had a cold exterior, loved Rin with all of his heart…like his own daughter. And Rin thought her demon father to be a hero.

"You may go and play now, Rin. I will be in shortly to talk with you."

"Hai, Sesshomaru-sama!" The small child spoke happily, skipping off into the main house. Sesshomaru stood from where he had been talking with Rin, and faced Kagome.

"That was Rin. She is my ward…and the girl you will be looking after."

"The girl…looking after…that…that's why you brought me here?"

"Hai."

"Why?"

"Because I do not want Jaken to look after her any longer. She needs a female's influence. A ningen female. And I thought you to be the best candidate."

"Well. As flattered as I am…why in the hell didn't you just tell me this in the first place? I would have said yes!"

"I didn't tell you because I wasn't sure of your reaction."
"Well, now you know."
"I suppose I do. In return for your services, I will be instructing you in miko training."

"Miko…but you're not…"

"I know much more about mikos than you give me credit for, girl. I am the most suitable for your tutoring around my lands. And I do not wish to pay someone for their services. You will begin training with me in one week, once you have settled into your routine. But first I will test your skills."

"But…you're not even giving me a choice! What if I don't want to train at all with you?"

"You are not being given a choice because you do not have one. I will make most of your decisions for you in this castle, besides what you will wear and eat. Other than that, I am your master, and you belong to me. You have no other option. Unless you wish to die. And I do not believe you wish for that."

"Why you…"

"You will watch your tongue, miko. Perhaps I did not explain the repercussions of disobeying this Sesshomaru. Or misbehaving."

"Oh. And what exactly would those be?"

"Would you like to find out? Keep trying my patience, and you will."

Kagome gave a shudder. Somehow, she knew that he was not kidding. And she knew Sesshomaru to be ruthless…she could only imagine what type of punishment he was talking about.

"I don't know. Do I?" She snapped.

"Tsk, tsk, little miko. You have not learned submission at all, have you? Well. We shall have to work on that."

In the blink of an eye, Kagome was whisked off of her feet and thrown over Sesshomaru's armor-clad shoulder. She hissed in pain as her ribs came in contact with the cold, hard metal. She noticed that he had taken her inside of the dojo. He slammed her down on the floor, where she unceremoniously landed on her buttocks, causing her to screech in pain. He merely stood in front of her, staring down his nose at her cowering form.

"Did I not tell you that I would punish you, little miko? You will learn what it means to be a ningen living in my household. You will learn your place, and how to respect me…among others."

"You can't tell me what to do! I don't belong to you!"

"But you do, miko. My scent is all over you. And if Inuyasha were to come and attempt to save you now, he would run. Because of my scent. He wouldn't be able to stand smelling me on you, now would he? You and I both know this. It would break him. But…because my baka of a brother does not know where my castle is, that will never happen. And you cannot escape me. For wherever you go, I will eventually find you."

"I want to go home…" She muttered.

"You will not go anywhere until I am no longer in need of your services, wench!"

"I'm not a wench! I'm Kagome! How many times do I have to tell you!"

Pinpricks of red began to bleed into the angry taiyoukai's normally golden orbs.

"I have had enough of your tongue, girl. It is time that you learn who you are and where you belong."

"I belong at home! Not here, with you! I don't care what you need me for! You kidnapped me, and that's—"

"SILENCE!"

She only remained so out of fear and astonishment. She had never been yelled at before as she just had. The voice was loud…domineering.

"Stand up."

"What?"

"Stand up, bitch."

She hurriedly did so. A loud growl sounded low in his throat.

"You are rude and disrespectful. And you have no manners."

"I do too—"

"You are interrupting me! Shut your mouth, or I will be forced to shut it for you!"

"Oh right…you know…"

He slapped her firmly across the face, then, emitting a small yelp of pain from her pink lips.

"You will be silent. Or I will do it again. Understood?"

She nodded. She had spoken out before, to defend herself. But now, she wouldn't even do that. She had never before been slapped, much less by a man. It shook her.

"There are rules that must be followed…and I have explained them to you. But you refuse to follow them. And there are punishments that follow disregarding any of my rules. I have spared you from death, miko. Because I thought perhaps you would be useful. However, I can see that now, it was a possible mistake on my part. Unless…you are willing to submit to me. Only then will I allow you to live…and your punishment will be reduced."

'Submit to him? What the hell is he talking about?'

As if reading her mind, he replied.

"You will agree that you belong to me, and all of your decisions will be made by either myself or, if I am not here, Sorahiko, who replaces me in my absence. And you will not leave until I permit you. Nor will you try to escape, on penalty of death."

"Death…" She murmured, frightened.

"Submission is the only way to live, miko. You will make your decision now, or I will kill you where you stand. I have had enough of explaining things to you, such as my rules, only to have you disobey them constantly. And this is only the first day you have been at my castle. If you keep this attitude up, you will not survive."

"But…I…have to go home, or my family will…"

"I am your family now, girl. And you are home." He snapped.

Kagome felt lost and afraid. Tears welled up in her eyes as she lifted her head to glare at the angry taiyoukai.

"You will never be my family! So I don't care what you do to me, you arrogant bastard! I hate you!"

This angered him. He knew the girl would be trouble, but he hadn't known it would take this long to bend her to his will.

'I do not have the patience to deal with this little bitch. I am not her caretaker. If she does not want to live with me, in my castle, she shall live no more. She belongs to me now. She will not leave this castle. Or she will die.'

"Very well, then. I see you have made your decision. What a pity. I thought Rin would enjoy having you around. I can see I was wrong." He snarled. Before Kagome could speak again, he had one of his hands wrapped around her throat, pinning her to the wall of the dojo.

"You should thank me now, girl. I promise I will make your death swift."

She struggled to speak with the pressure he was applying to her windpipe. Her words came out in gasps of air.

"Please…I…don't…want…to…die…Sesshomaru…"

He heard her gasp his name as her body slackened slightly. But he was not swayed from punishing her for her disobedience.

"You should have thought of that earlier. But it is too late for you."

She thrashed about violently, trying to loosen his hold on her. But he simply tightened it, cutting off even more of her air.

'This is weird…I can see bright lights…my life…flashing before me…' She thought as she began to lose consciousness. And then she realized how much she wanted to live. She saw Sota and her mother in the living room, and her grandfather in the shrine, explaining to a visitor about what the Shikon Jewel was. She would miss them all so much. But…Sesshomaru would give her a chance to leave some day, and then she could go home and see her family. Even though it would mean living under his roof and following his rules, if it meant she could live, she'd do it.

"Lord…Sess…homaru…I…submit…" She choked as her breath began to leave her body for good. Just when she thought she was going to pass on, Sesshomaru released her. She began to slump to the floor, but was saved when a strong pair of arms caught her in her descent.

"You have made a good decision, wench. You may live to see tomorrow."

He laid her gently on the floor of the dojo, taking great care to ensure that her neck was not twisted in any way.

She coughed slightly, and to her, it still felt like his hands were wrapped around her neck. She knew there would be bruising in the morning.

"You should have said something sooner, wench. I might not have caused you such damage and pain. And you are fortunate that I decided not to use my poisoned claws on your skin. Or it would not have mattered whether or not you wished to remain alive. You would have been dead before you uttered a single word."

She glared at him as he sat down on the mat beside her.

"You will be fine by tomorrow."

"How…do…you…know…that…" Kagome hissed as she drew a slow breath into her air-starved lungs, sitting up.

"Because you are a miko. You have healing powers that are superior to many demons'. If you know how to handle them, that is."

"Well…I…don't…" She wheezed.

"This is why I will teach you. Ningen, you do not realize how much better off you are under my care."

"If…what just happened…shows that I am under…your care…I might die…sooner than I…thought…"

"It will not happen again if you obey me." He stated, matter-of-fact.

"It…hurts…"

"You will listen to me, miko. I am going to show you how to heal yourself. All upper, and some lower-level demons possess the power to heal themselves at an alarmingly fast rate, such as myself. Deep wounds can take up to a day to heal, possibly two, depending on how much blood is lost. Shallow wounds can heal in a matter of hours. For demons, healing is automatic. For mikos, one must be trained. It is not an instinct. And when you are healing yourself or another, you must concentrate on the core, or the center of your powers. Close your eyes." He commanded.

"What?"

"Close your eyes, miko. Do not ask questions."

She did as she was told.

"Good. Now, imagine yourself enveloped in a golden light. Your entire body…engulfed. And when you do this, feel for the power within you. You must reach within yourself and know that the potential for great things is possible. And believe that your powers can heal you."

"I am, but nothing is happening!"
"You are not concentrating hard enough, girl. You must not think about anything other than what you are trying to accomplish. Forget that I am here; that you are in this dojo."

"Well, how am I supposed to, if you won't let me forget it?"

He remained silent, ignoring her disrespectful outburst. He wanted to see if she could do it, as he suspected that her powers were greater than she knew.

'If she can complete this task, then her training will go on without problems. I will not have to teach her the basics. Not that I have time to.'

As Kagome concentrated, she could feel something warm begin to surround her body. If she had been cold, she certainly wasn't now. A fluttery feeling crept into her stomach as she imagined herself encircled in a golden light akin to the sun's rays.

As Sesshomaru watched Kagome intensely, he could see the beginnings of a barrier close around her petite body. It was the color of spun gold, and radiant as the rays of the sun at the morning's first light. She was concentrating, then. And this proved to him that she was indeed a powerful miko whose powers had yet to be unleashed.

'With my assistance, she will become powerful, and strong enough to defend Rin should something happen to her. I have no doubt.' He thought as he noticed the marks from his hands on her neck disappear slowly until all traces of abuse had gone. Kagome opened her eyes.

"Well…I don't know how well that worked. All I felt was…warm and fuzzy. And my neck is probably …" She stopped herself to reach up and touch her neck, expecting it to be tender and swollen. Instead, she found that her neck was healed completely. There were no signs that anything had even happened. She then noticed that Sesshomaru had been staring at her since she had opened her eyes.

"What?!"

"You have accomplished your first task. To heal a minor injury. And in only one try."

"I did, didn't I? Wow. I didn't know being a priestess would be so cool! Who knew I could heal myself?"

"What is this 'cool' you speak of? And why did you not know you could heal yourself?"

"Oh…ummm…cool…means…that something is really…interesting. And, I didn't know I could heal myself. I thought that it was something only priestesses with really developed powers could do. And mine aren't really that good."

"You have not practiced. My idiot brother did not see fit to teach you…or at least find someone to teach you…the proper ways of the miko. That is disgraceful."

"It wasn't his fault. We didn't have time. Most of the time I rested was when I went home for a day or two, and then he would always come and get me. Other than that, we were always on the move; always searching for another shard. I remember…Inuyasha always complained about how much I slowed the group down…and then…I caught him kissing Kikyo…and that's when it all fell apart."

He noticed that she became somewhat somber after speaking about his brother.

'Although I do not care about this miko, I find myself wanting to converse with her. She is unlike any other woman…or female youkai…I have ever met. I must know more about her and her culture…as there is something odd about her.'

"You loved Inuyasha." He stated. It was plain to see. Every time the great taiyoukai mentioned his hanyou brother's name, he could see her eyes light up and then dim just as quickly. The fool of a boy had broken her heart. Although Sesshomaru did not necessarily feel sorry for her, he did feel that she had been wronged. He was not one to pity others.

"Hai…I did. For a long time. And I always knew that he loved Kikyo, and not me. But some part of me wished that he would leave her and realize that I loved him more. And I always would. But he didn't."

"From the time he was a pup, Inuyasha has never been concerned with anything or anyone but himself. He is conceited, not to mention stubborn. I tried reasoning with him, especially when he was much younger and more impressionable. Nothing worked. In our father's absence, I was responsible for him."

"Inuyasha never told me that."

"He wouldn't. He considers it a part of his life that should have never happened. He acts as if it didn't. And so do I."

"That's really sad, you know. I bet you two could get along if you really tried."

"That is not for you to speculate, miko." He hissed. Talking about his brother always riled him up. He hated Inuyasha with a passion no other could match. For one thing, he had taken the sword, Tetsusaiga, which he felt rightfully, belonged to him, and he had also taken their father's love from him. Sesshomaru was never really his father's favorite to begin with, but when Inuyasha was born, he was ignored almost completely. He resented both his hanyou brother and his father's ningen wife, Inuyasha's mother, for that.

"Sorry."

"As you should be."

"I was just trying to help you."

This angered him greatly. He believed she perceived him as weak… and he did not like it at all. He was a taiyoukai! For him to have someone's pity and accept it would show that he was soft.

"I do not need anyone's help, let alone a ningen female's. I am done talking. You will be escorted to your bedchambers now, and if I catch you outside of them on this night, I swear to you, your punishment will be slow and severe."

"But—"

"Sorahiko is waiting for you at the doors to the castle. You will be woken before dawn in the morning, and you'll meet me in this dojo before the sun rises. Or else."

He stood from the floor, waiting for her to do the same. Once up, he grabbed her elbow and shoved her out of the dojo, shutting the door, leaving her alone.

"Lord Sesshomaru! That's not fair! I'm really tired! And…it's really late!"

No one answered her shouts. She growled in frustration as she made her way back to the castle. Sure enough, Sorahiko was patiently waiting for her in front of the entrance.
"Lady Kagome. How are you?"

"Huh? What's with the 'Lady'?"

"I am merely extending respect toward you."

"Well. That's more than Lord 'Fluffy' over there is willing to show me."

"Fluffy, milady? I do believe you should not disrespect Lord Sesshomaru by misusing his name."

"Well, he deserves it, the arrogant jerk! He's nice to me one minute, and then he throws me around the dojo…he has worse mood swings than Inuyasha!"

"I do believe you should not speak of his lordship in such a manner. He has excellent hearing."

"Hmph." She pouted.

Sorahiko chuckled.

'This ningen female…is different from any I've ever met on my travels…or anywhere. She has a sense of humor despite the hardships I do not doubt she has experienced.'

"You are tired, ne?"

"Hai. Very. This has been a really long day."

"Good. Then I will show you to your bedchambers." He opened the doors to the castle, and both walked inside, making their way to Kagome's room.

"By the way…when is dinner around here?"

"You have missed it by some time, Lady. It is served promptly at sundown."

"Then…what about Lord Sesshomaru?"

"He does not need to eat every day. Nor does he touch human food."

"Oh."

"You will occasionally find him dining with Rin, however. She is his pride and joy, although he is too stubborn to admit it."

"I knew he loved her. She's like a daughter to him."

Sorahiko smiled slightly.

'This girl is smart.' He thought.

"So…Sorahiko…what kind of demon are you?"

"I am descended from a long line of demons whose main power is to manipulate water.

"Oh…that's neat."

"Indeed."

"How long have you been working for Lord Sesshomaru?"

"Nigh on fifty years now."

"Fifty years?"

"Hai, Lady. Lord Sesshomaru is nearly one hundred."

"Wow. He sure doesn't look it!"

Sorahiko chuckled softly.

"You are certainly unlike any other woman I have ever met, Lady."

"Thank you, Sorahiko. And…you're nicer…than most of the demons I've ever met…why are you so nice to me?"

"It is my nature, Lady. My brothers and sisters and I were brought up around ningens, and so I have always been taught to treat them with respect. Although…Lord Sesshomaru instructs us to do otherwise…I still try to be…cordial."

"Well…when you've got someone like Lord Sesshomaru looking over your shoulder all the time, it's all you can do."

"Lady, you should be thankful that Lord Sesshomaru did not dispose of you the minute you came into his view. It is not in his nature to save ningens."

"Then why did he save Rin?"

"That is something we do not speak of. It is between him and the girl."

"Oh. I see."

She was silent for a moment, and Sorahiko did not speak anymore for fear of some of the other servants hearing them discussing their lord.

'I mustn't speak of milord anymore around Lady. I can already tell the subject is upsetting her. She does not wish to be here. I can sense her anger.'

They walked down the long hall and arrived at a door in the middle of it, on the right side.

"Lady, this is your room."

"Wow. I would have thought it would be at the back of the house."

"It is not, as you can see. I believe Lord Sesshomaru wishes to keep you close to his quarters."

"Why?"

Before Sorahiko could answer her, a cold, calculating voice was heard behind them.

"In case you get the idea inside your mind that you can escape from me, little miko."

"But…"

"You will cease your prattling now, miko. It is late, and you will be rising early. Sorahiko, make sure she is in her room and asleep before you leave. I do not want her trying to break the seal on her room and hurting herself in the process."

"Hey! I'm not a little girl! I don't need someone to watch me go to sleep!"

"You will do as I say, or I shall be the one to watch you sleep. And I do not like having my time wasted." He raised his arm so she could see his claws, and flexed them. Green poison seeped from them.

She shrank back and yelped.

"No…no…that's okay…Sorahiko…can do it."

"I thought you would cooperate. Sorahiko, please come and see me when she is asleep."

"Hai, milord." Sorahiko bowed.

Sesshomaru turned and left the two on their own. Sorahiko slid the door back, allowing Kagome to walk into the room with him following her.

"Sorahiko, why is Sess…Lord Sesshomaru forcing you to watch me go to sleep?"

"Because he has placed a seal on your room for the time being. He does this to new servants and houseguests he feels he cannot trust. Evidently, you are one of those houseguests." He smirked.

"Hey…I'm perfectly trustworthy! I can't go anywhere, anyways. No one…no one knows where I am…and a demon would probably eat me before I ever got near my home…"

"I'm sorry, Lady. But there is nothing I can do to reverse this. It is not up to me."

"I know."

"Your night clothes are not yet arrived. I am afraid you will have to sleep in the clothing you have on."

"That's okay. It doesn't bother me. I don't know how much I'd like those…night kimonos or whatever they are, anyways. It's not my thing. Boy, I sure do wish I had some of my clothes from home, though. But…I'll survive." She smiled sadly. Home. She hadn't been thinking about that lately. And now she knew it would possibly be months…if not years…before she could ever leave the castle. Sesshomaru would never let her go home. And he didn't even know about her being from the future.

"You are sad, Lady."

"Hai…I just miss my home, is all. But, like Lord Sesshomaru said earlier…he is my family now…and this is my home."

"Lady…it is not my place…but I believe everything will work out."

"Oh, Sorahiko. You're so nice. Thank you. You know what…I'm glad it's you I met first when I came here tonight."

The elemental demon looked stunned for a moment.

"Why…Lady…thank you."

"Okay…well…I don't want Sesshomaru coming in here and yelling at me when he finds out I'm not asleep yet. I'm pretty sure he's listening to everything we're saying. Because…I CAN SENSE HIM RIGHT OUTSIDE THE DOOR!" She yelled. They both could hear a set of feet pad back down the hall. Sorahiko smirked inwardly.

'He is curious about the girl.'

Kagome, in the meantime, smiled to herself. She had been right about Sesshomaru keeping an eye on them.

'He's so weird…he acts like he doesn't care. And then…he really does. This is going to be interesting.'

She took off her shoes and socks, and trudged tiredly over to the large futon of furs that lay in the middle of the floor, where she collapsed.

"Aahhhh. This is sooooo comfy!"

"It is made of the finest furs, Lady."

"Mmmmm." She said as she snuggled into the furs, covering her body with them.

Sorahiko sat down on the floor beside her. She opened her eyes and smiled up at him.

"Just to let you know…it takes me a little while to fall asleep. I can be an insomniac at times…"

"Insomniac? What is this word?"

"Oh…it means that I tend to stay up late a lot…and it's hard for me to fall asleep."

"I understand now. It happens to us all, Lady."

"But…tonight…I don't know…I'll probably fall asleep in a couple of minutes—"

As she spoke, she yawned and closed her eyes.

"Lady?"
"I'm just resting my eyes…I'm not falling asleep. I promise…"

Within two minutes, she had drifted off to a peaceful sleep. Sorahiko thought to himself,

'This girl…is heavenly as she sleeps. Her beauty seems to be unmatched by even most of the female youkai roaming around these castle grounds. Lord Sesshomaru seems to have made an excellent pick…' He quietly left the room and slid the door back behind him. Sesshomaru was waiting for him in the hall.

"I overheard your interesting conversation."

"Hai, Lord Sesshomaru. The girl certainly likes to converse with others, ne?"

"Hai. Now. As for what I must speak with you about. You are one of my most trusted soldiers…and there is something I will be entrusting you with at this moment. You must guard it with your life."

"Hai, Lord Sesshomaru. You know I would do anything you ask of me. I am your loyal servant."

"You have been like a brother to me all these years. And I ask of you now…protect this girl, Kagome. I may have to be away…and I refuse to bring her with me. She can be quite annoying. There is no one here who I trust her with more than you, Sorahiko."

"I would be honored, Lord Sesshomaru."

"Good. You are relieved of your post now, Sorahiko. Go and get some rest. For I have heard many of the younger soldiers talk of a comprehensive test over the remainder of their skills in the morning."

"Hai. There is. I trust you'll be there?"

"Unfortunately, no. I am afraid I must show Kagome the castle grounds, and show her what I wish her to teach Rin."

"Ah. Another day, perhaps?"

"Always, Sorahiko. Take care of yourself. If I do not see you tomorrow, commend the men on their hard work. I have heard tales…their determination will not go un-rewarded."

Sorahiko laughed.

"I shall, Lord Sesshomaru. Good night."

"Good night, Sorahiko."

Sesshomaru watched as his loyal servant and friend walked down the hall and out of his sight. He then turned to Kagome's room and decided to see for himself that the girl was truly asleep.

As he slid back the screen door, he could hear her breathing, slow and steady. He knew that she had been tired, but hadn't expected her to fall asleep that quickly.

'Ningens. They are so weak.'

But as he stood, looking at her, he noticed the moonlight framing her pale face, with her black hair fanned out on the furs beneath her. For a moment, he could have sworn she was a ten'nyo. (A/N: Tennyo or Ten'nyo? Celestial maiden…)

'What is this ningen doing to this Sesshomaru? I do not care for her! And I do not think she is beautiful! She is a ningen wench, one that belonged to my brother. Now, she is mine, and she is my servant. I do not care for her!' He repeated, as if it were a mantra, in his mind as he left the girl to sleep. He slid the screen door shut and stalked off down the hall to his chambers to try and sleep the few hours he longed for.

Kagome awoke with a start when she heard her screen door close. She had seen a faint outline of someone outside. And sensed a strong youkai power.

"Sesshomaru?" She whispered before sleep overtook her once more. She did not wake for the rest of the night.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The next morning, Sesshomaru awoke at dawn, like he usually did if he slept the night before. The sun was shining in his eyes, and caused him to squint. So today would be exceptionally warm.

He roused himself from his futon and began to dress for the day. He put on his usual haori and hakama before leaving his room and heading for Kagome's. He could sense when he arrived that she was not yet awake.
'Wench. She will learn that in my household, servants will rise at dawn.'

Although she was caring for Rin, she was still under his employment and care. He did not want her to be lazy. He angrily slammed open the screen door. Kagome shot up from the furs, in terror.

"Wha…"

"Wench! Get out of bed!" Sesshomaru barked.

"But…it's hardly even light out yet…the sun…it's not fully up!"

"I do not care! Servants in my household will arise at dawn!"

"But…"

"I grow impatient, wench! Out of bed, now!"

Kagome tried to get up, but found that she was tangled in the furs that had kept her warm.

Sesshomaru was getting highly annoyed, and was tired of wasting time. He reached down and plucked Kagome from the sheets, gripping the collar of her uniform with his claws.

"When I tell you to do something, I expect you to do it promptly, and to not waste my time. There are many important things I must accomplish today, and I am not your caretaker."

"Well, it wasn't my fault I was tangled in my bedclothes, Lord Sesshomaru! I just woke up! You don't have to be such a pompous jerk about it!"

Almost immediately after she spoke, Kagome regretted what she had said.

Sesshomaru's eyes narrowed, and he glared angrily at her.

"I didn't mean it. I'm sorry!"

"It is too late for apologies, wench! You were warned about your lack of respect yesterday! I have had enough!"

"Please! I won't do it again!"

He threw her back onto the futon, flat on her back.

"You are correct in that assessment, miko. You will not do it again." His eyes pinpricked with red as he sensed her fear spike.

"I will punish you this time, and you will not forget. You will respect me if it is the last thing you do." He smirked evilly.

"Go to hell! Just leave me alone, you jerk! It's not my fault I didn't wake up on time! I didn't even know what time I was supposed to…"

"SILENCE!" He kicked her from the futon with his foot, halfway across the room. She smacked into a wall, slumping painfully to the floor.

"You will not speak again, wench. Not unless I permit it." He stalked over to her and lifted her from the floor, once again, by the collar of her uniform.

She did not look up at him.

"Look at me! Do not avert your eyes when I am speaking to you, bitch, or you will not have eyes to look at anything with!"

Slowly, Kagome raised her eyes to meet Sesshomaru's golden orbs, which she could see were narrowed.

"That's better, miko."

His eyes were cold and calculating despite the warmth she had thought could be present if he were someone different.

"What…are you going to do with me…"

He did not answer, but instead, threw her on the floor beneath him. She hit it with a loud thud, wincing in pain as she felt her tailbone hit the tatami mat underneath her.

"Did I not just tell you to cease speaking unless I permit it? Or are you hard of hearing, bitch?"

She shut her mouth immediately as he kneeled down to her level on the floor.

"You will not be teaching Rin today, Kagome. In fact, you may not be teaching her tomorrow, either. You will remain in this room. With me."

"Wh…"

"Do not speak!"

She shrank in fear.

"You do not listen! What is so damn hard about following orders? My men can do it better than you, and most of them have terrible manners! You are disgraceful!"

A lone tear began to trail its way down her face. She was terrified when Sesshomaru began to raise his voice to her. She had remembered all the times that Inuyasha had yelled at her for her inability to listen, or her stubbornness. And each time, she had been able to yell back. And she had never been hit. But now it was different. She was no longer able to defend herself, and she would be punished each time she did not follow orders. She would be physically punished.

"Do not cry, wench. It will do you no good. I do not pity those who are weak." He snarled.

"I…am sorry…Inuyasha…always said…that I could never…listen…" She sobbed. "Just…get it over…with…I don't…want to live…kill me. I will never be…of any use to you."

"Shut your mouth. You will not die on this day. You are merely being punished for your insolence. Now be silent, and this will all be over with. As long as you cooperate." She could see him flex his claws, and saw the poison seep out of them slowly, running down his wrists.

"Turn over. On your stomach, bitch. You will learn who your master is. And why you must obey me."

She refused, and he could sense her anger and fear rise.

"Turn over." He repeated.

"Please…Lord…Sesshomaru…don't hurt me."

"You will be punished! I do not take pity!" He shouted as he retracted the claws on his left hand and flipped her over onto her stomach, pinning her to the floor as he knelt down, his knees painfully holding hers in place.

And she could feel his breath on her. His hair falling around them both. And then she smelled it…the acrid scent of his poison, flowing from his claws. It dripped slowly and landed in the small of her back, causing her clothing to melt, revealing bare, slightly burnt skin in its place.

Kagome screamed in agony as the first few drops of his poison touched her skin. She could hear it sizzle as it burned its way through her tender flesh.

"PLEASE! STOP! I BEG YOU, LORD SESSHOMARU!"

"You must learn your place. I will not relent until I am satisfied you have been punished thoroughly enough."

"KAMI! OH, KAMI! I WON'T DO IT AGAIN! JUST PLEASE, SESSHOMARU, STOP HURTING ME!" Her agonized screams hurt his tender ears, and he was sure that his servants could hear her pleas to him throughout the castle.

The overpowering scent of tears mixed with regret, fear, and hatred then reached his delicate nose. Yet he still did not relent his torture on her alabaster skin with his harsh poison. It continued to seep from his sharpened claws, causing her to cry out even louder for mercy from him.

He held her down despite her squirming.

"You will only worsen the effects, wench, as long as you continue to move. It is your fault this happened, and you will not forget who your master is. You belong to me, and I will not let you forget it. Do you understand me? You are mine." He hissed. Finally, after a few more moments of his poison slowly dripping onto her back, he retracted his claws and pushed himself from the floor to stand above her.

"Wench. Get up."

Painfully, she did so, feeling each wound on her back, flowing with blood, drip slowly and agonizingly.

"Good. Now come here." He motioned to her with his index finger. Slowly, she obeyed, as if she were a puppy.

Kagome stood in front of him, and he could see that she was struggling not to cry any more than she already had.

"Have you learned your lesson?"

She did not say anything. Nor did she give any indication that she had learned anything.

"I asked you a question. Have you learned your lesson?"

After a few moments, Sesshomaru again began to get impatient. Just as he reached to hit her, she answered, recoiling from him in fear.

"Yes…"

"Good. You seem to be a little slow in answering, but I am sure with time, that will all change. Now. About those wounds on your back. You want them healed, I'm sure."

She nodded slowly.

"You can wash yourself off in the bathroom. There is a bath that has been prepared that will soothe your wounds. After you are finished, you will come back in here."

"What…for…" She asked, fearfully.

"You may speak, wench. I am not upset with you any longer. You do not have to be frightened as long as you obey me."

"What must I come back in here for?"

"I wish to see for myself how bad your wounds are. I will dress them for you."

"But you don't have to do that. Can't I just…heal myself…"

She didn't want to be in the same room with that bastard any longer.

"No you may not."

"But…"

"Go and wash yourself off, girl. Or I will be forced to do it for you."

"Hai, Lord Sesshomaru."

Kagome quickly ran to the bathroom and slid the screen door shut behind her as she stepped in. It was warm and comforting in the room, and she knew that the bath would most definitely help her wounds. But she was tentative about stepping into that hot water with the burns on her back. However, a voice from the other room told her that it didn't matter. She hurriedly ripped off her clothing and stepped into the steaming bath. And screeched in agony as the hot water engulfed her burnt, delicate skin.

Meanwhile, in the adjacent room, Sesshomaru heard the girl scream.

"Kami! Owwww…!" She hissed. "Why in the hell did you do this to me? Owwww!"

As she screamed in pain, Kagome began to cry. She was frightened of Sesshomaru now, more than she ever had been. She had known he could be cruel, but he would not relent his torture on her, and insisted that she not be able to heal herself. She moped in the tub for a while, not wanting to face the angry taiyoukai again.

'I can't do this. If this is what being punished is like…I'll never survive.'

Meanwhile, Sesshomaru was becoming angered once more. She had known why she was being punished. The insolent little bitch of a miko had brought it onto herself.

Kagome tried to wash herself off as best she could, but because of her injuries, was not doing a very good job of it. Her whole body ached now because of the poison that had been used to hurt her, and her back was pulsing and throbbing with a pain she had never before known. It took her five minutes just to wash the lower part of her body. She had to move slowly, or it would only result in more pain.

In the bedroom, Sesshomaru grew tired of waiting for Kagome to emerge from the bathroom.

'What in the seven hells is taking that damned miko so long to bathe?'

He decided to find out. He would not be kept waiting in his own home. Sesshomaru stormed into the bathroom, shocking the girl sitting in the bathtub.

"You pervert! What the hell…" She screeched. He merely glared at her.

He would allow her the one outburst, because she had been, after all, surprised to see him in her midst.

"You are taking too long, miko."
"You hurt me, and you won't let me heal myself! I'm in a lot of pain!"

"Lower your voice."

"It really hurts, Lord Sesshomaru. I don't understand why you won't let me heal myself." She spoke in submission.

"Because this is part of your punishment. I shall make it so that no scars will appear…but you will suffer until I deem it time to remove them. And I will only do so in the instance that someone offers to take you as their mate."

"I'm sorry…what?!"

"Their mate. You did not misunderstand me. Now that you are under my employment, although you belong to me, you are not technically 'mine.' Anyone who makes it known that you are suitable as a mate for them, will have you. I will not keep you here when you are no longer needed."

"I thought I'd be able to leave when Rin was done with her schooling! I thought I would be able to go home!"

"On the contrary, miko. I explained it to you before. You are home. And I am your family, as are the other servants, and Rin. You are not allowed to go anywhere or do anything without my knowledge or consent. And I have not given you any sort of permission to leave my grounds."

"But…"

"You will be silent." He growled.

Not wanting a repeat of the torture she had just experienced, Kagome did as she was asked.

Sesshomaru smirked in victory. He would break this girl yet.

"You needn't be frightened of me now, miko. You are doing as I have asked you to. I do not understand this ningen emotion of yours. Fear…it is something I have never experienced. And you become frightened over the most trivial of things. Birds cawing. Insects rubbing their tiny legs together. Hn." He ceased speaking for a moment, looking at Kagome thoughtfully.

"You will not waste any more of my time, wench. Finish bathing, and someone will be in your room momentarily to dress your wounds."

"But I thought you were…"

"I have changed my mind. I have more important matters of which I must see to."

He stormed out of the bathroom, leaving her to herself.

'I don't understand him! He's…nice…one minute…and an asshole the next! Oh, Kami…what did I do to deserve this? I would have stayed with Inuyasha if I had known what kind of treatment I'd receive once I left him!' She thought mournfully as she stepped out of the tub, dripping wet.

'I don't…have anything to wear. There's nothing here.' So, naked, Kagome decided to step into her bedroom to see if there were any kimonos lying about, or a dressing room that had something in it for her to wear. When she slid back the screen door, she screeched in mortification. Standing in front of her was Sorahiko, waiting for her entrance. In his hands, he held a bowl and a few cloths with a container that held what Kagome guessed was a poultice of some sort.

"OH KAMI! Oh…" She shouted, trying to use her arms to cover her body.

Sorahiko smirked, but did not make a move to turn away from her.

"Lady, it is nothing I have not seen before. You need not be ashamed."

"But, I…"

"You would have to remove any clothing before I could treat your back, in any case."

Kagome blushed.

"Lady, come and sit before me so that I may treat your wounds." Sorahiko sat on the futon and motioned for Kagome to follow. She hesitated, but finally decided that she could trust Sorahiko more than Sesshomaru.

"Sorahiko…why…why did Lord Sesshomaru send…you…to take care of me?"

Sorahiko smiled vaguely as he took the cloth from the bowl and gently wiped away the remaining blood from her sores, causing her to wince.

"Because, Lady. Lord Sesshomaru does not feel that it is appropriate for you to be exposed to any other persons on the staff…he mentioned something about isolation to me. You are being punished, I take it?"

"Hai…I…called…him some names…and…" All of a sudden, more tears began to flow from Kagome's eyes. She had not realized how frightened and hurt she'd been until she had been asked about what had happened.

"Lady. What is wrong?"

"He…he beat me, Sorahiko! He kicked me, and then…said some…awful things…and…used his poisonous claws on me! That's why I have these wounds!"

"I know, Lady. I am sorry for what has been done to you."

He began to put the poultice on her back, taking care not to put pressure on the marks the poison had left. He knew what had happened, for Sesshomaru had told him. It was not uncommon, however. In Sesshomaru's mind, he had punished Kagome in the way he had been brought up to. He knew no other way.

"Lady, there is something you must understand about Lord Sesshomaru. He is taiyoukai."

"I know that." She sniffled.

"Then you will have to learn that this is the way he was brought up by Lord Inutaisho. This is how he punishes those who are defiant against him."

"But…"

"You must accept this, Lady. There is no way to change him. And even if there were, I am not sure I would. This keeps him strong. This is why we…his soldiers…admire him. He takes action, and keeps to his word."

"He hurt me!" She shouted in anger. "I don't care if he was brought up this way! I'm not a taiyoukai, and what he did to me was wrong!" Soon, Kagome was sobbing so hard that Sorahiko could not keep applying the poultice to her wounds.

"Lady. Please, calm yourself. This is doing you no good."

She would not listen.

"Lady, please…"

She only sobbed harder.

Not knowing what to do any longer, he resorted to pulling her back towards him, and wrapping her trembling form in his arms, laying her head against his chest.

"Lady, this is not assisting you in any way. You are only prolonging the pain you experience. I am trying to help you."

Through her sobs, Kagome managed to speak.

"I'm…frightened…"

"I realize this. But Lord Sesshomaru will not hurt you…not for pleasure. I do not believe he enjoyed hurting you as he did…although it is in his nature."

"I wish I were home…" She wailed. Sorahiko tightened his grip on the sobbing girl.

"Sesshomaru…said…I was home…but…" She stopped.

"But?"

"I…thought earlier that I could leave…once…Rin didn't need me anymore. But…but…he said…that…I belonged to him…and I couldn't leave unless…unless someone claimed me! Like I'm a piece of property!" She hissed.

"This is the way things are, here, Kagome. You must accept them."

"I don't want things to be this way! I should have stayed with Inuyasha…no matter whether or not he kissed…I…." Kagome let herself go limp in Sorahiko's arms.

"Lady, this worrying…this…emotion…has worn you out…you should rest."

He gently pushed her form off of his chest, grabbed the cloth from the bowl resting next to them, and wrapped her wounds.

"I…don't have anything…to wear…" She moaned.

"You should not be concerned with this now, Lady. You should sleep."

"No…"

"Yes. No one will disturb you. I swear it. Sleep now."

Sorahiko tenderly pressed Kagome's body back on the futon, covering her with the warm furs. In no time, she had passed out, both from pain and stress. He left her alone, and went to find Sesshomaru. He had to tell him of the girl's emotions.

'I do not think that Sesshomaru will be able to hold this girl here if he does not treat her as she wishes…he will have to make some sacrifices.'

Meanwhile, Sesshomaru had been walking in his garden, watching Rin play in the bushes of flowers, while thinking about Kagome. (Yes…he was thinking about Kagome)

She had been begging for his mercy, and he still did not let her up. And he had denied her the right to heal herself.

'I have not done to her what I would not have done to another in her position, youkai or not. She disobeyed me by speaking out, and I do not accept this in my household.' He thought while watching Rin. He had noticed over the course of that year that she had been changing both physically and emotionally…rapidly. She would need someone very soon to explain all the things that ningen girls knew. And he could not do it; nor could a female youkai of any status. They did not have a true grasp on ningen life. It was for that very reason that he took the miko from his brother. To state it plainly, Rin needed a mother. She had no female figure to look up to. As much as Sesshomaru had wished against it, he knew sooner or later he would have to find someone, or give Rin up.

"I have done the right thing." He commented to no one in particular.

He heard a voice behind him.

"Have you, Sesshomaru?"

"Sorahiko." He turned around abruptly. "Is she…"

"She is asleep, Sesshomaru. Knocked out from stress."

"The girl should not have disobeyed me. She had been warned."

Sorahiko nodded.

"She made the point to tell me that what you did was, in fact, wrong."

"Did she now."

"Hai. And she commented that you would not allow her to return home…"

"She must be mated."

"Hai." Sorahiko smiled slightly. He had known of many girls…well…female youkai…that had been brought to the castle and tamed down to be servants for a short while. And those women had all been told that they would not leave unless mated. It was only right.

"Kagome will come to understand that she belongs to me now. What I say…must be obeyed, and if that includes finding herself a mate, or having myself assign one, it will happen accordingly. I cannot…I will not have a disobedient woman teaching Rin, and I will not send her away without her learning proper manners first. You do understand why I must do this, ne?"

"Hai, Sesshomaru. I know you better than most. I understand your reasoning. But I must tell you something. I sensed this…Kagome is strong in body and mind. But in heart…in soul…she is weakened because of your brother. She will break easier than you thought, my friend. It has already begun. She has accepted that she is no longer free. And while you may believe it is for the better, she will wither under this…treatment. She is not youkai. And cannot stand the punishments you place upon her. It is not my place to tell you what you can and cannot do with your slaves and servants. But it is my recommendation that you be somewhat more lenient with her than others."

"Sorahiko. While I appreciate your concern, I do not side with you on this matter. The girl must be taught respect. She is unruly and outspoken…partially my idiot brother's fault. The punishment she received this morning will not happen again, I agree with you on that. But she will not be given complete leniency. When she disobeys, I will punish her. What I cannot understand is why you are so concerned about her."

"I do not know for certain. But when I laid eyes on her, something drew her to me, Sesshomaru. She is special. There is something about her that I sense will be of great use to you in the future…to Rin as well. You must not mate her. Keep her around. You will see what I mean."

"I do not…"

"I cannot see the future. But I sense something. Something is going to happen…great and terrible. And you will need her."

"I beg your pardon, Sorahiko…but I need no one."

"You will."

"I see. Well. If that is all…"

"Hai, Sesshomaru. I will speak with you tomorrow. There are more training sessions tonight, and I must attend. Good luck with Kagome…I suspect she will be awake within a few hours."

As Sorahiko faded from his sight, Sesshomaru called Rin to him.

"Hai, Sesshomaru-sama?" The little girl, winded from running tirelessly in the bushes, stood in front of Sesshomaru, gasping for air.

"I want you to go and change for lunch, Rin. Mika will help you."

Mika had been one of Sesshomaru's best servants in all the years he had ruled over the Western Lands, and had taken quite a liking to Rin. Therefore, he allowed her to take care of her at certain intervals because of her gentle nature, which was unusual because she was a female Inu youkai.

"Yay! Rin gets to see Mika today! Rin is excited!"

Sesshomaru smirked slightly.

"Is Sesshomaru-sama going to eat with Rin today?"

"At dinner, perhaps. But do not set your hopes on it. I have much to do."

"Then will Sesshomaru-sama…can…Sesshomaru-sama and Kagome-chan put Rin to bed tonight?"

"Why do you want Kagome to put you to bed?"

"Because…Kagome-chan is nice to Rin, and Rin likes it when Sesshomaru-sama tucks Rin in! It's better than when stinky Jaken does it. Jaken likes to make fun of Rin all the time, and does not tuck her in. He shuts the door and tells Rin to shut up."

"I see. Well…I will think on it. Go and change now, Rin." He had known of Jaken's harsh treatment to Rin. That was another reason why he had chosen Kagome to care for her instead of the rude toad youkai.

"Hai, Sesshomaru-sama!"

'And I will wait for the girl to wake.' He thought to himself as he walked to Kagome's room and stood outside her door for a moment before quietly entering. She was asleep on the futon, just as Sorahiko had said. Sesshomaru could see parts of her naked skin contrasting out from the warm colored furs that had been placed haphazardly on top of her. He glanced at her face, which was contorted and twisted into a frown. It quickly changed to fear.

'She is dreaming.'

"Sesshomaru…leave me alone…" She mumbled.

'About me…'

"Listen, buddy! I didn't stutter! I said…leave me alone!" She kicked and thrashed at the imagined Sesshomaru in her dream. He stood in front of her, thoroughly amused.

'As if what she is doing could even phase me…even in dreams…'

But what he heard next surprised him.

"Ohh…go, Sorahiko! One to the right! One to the left! Hai! You kicked his ass! Way to go! I can't believe…someone finally did it!"

"Miko! Wake up!"

"Wha…I…the answer is two!" She muttered, flying up from the futon, staring straight into the face of Sesshomaru, who had kneeled down on the futon to her level. She screeched in fear.

"Do you think you could lower your voice, miko? Your incessant screeching pains my ears." He growled.

"What…are you doing…here."

"I came to speak with you about what occurred earlier."

"I don't want to talk about it. It's over and done with. I did something wrong, and I was punished."

"We will talk about it, and now. You must understand, Kagome…" His voice softened.

'Is he actually trying to calmly…talk to me?'

"Where I come from, women and female youkai alike are punished for their misbehavior to their masters. And that is what I am to you. Your master. Whether you choose to accept it or not. But…something has come to my attention…brought to me by someone else. Perhaps I was harsh in punishing you the way I did."

"What…what did you say?"

"I should not have harmed you to the extent that I did."

"But…you…you never…apologize."

"I do not. You are correct. But…I do…feel that I could have handled the situation differently. And you will be allowed to heal your wounds. Not at this very moment, but soon. For now, I will allow you to rest in bed, and your food will be brought to you. As will Rin, later on tonight. I wish for you to become acquainted with her before you begin to teach her."

"Okay…I'll…I'll do that…then."

Kagome was practically speechless. Since when had Sesshomaru ever apologized to anyone, let alone a ningen?

'This is not like him at all. What's going on?' She wondered.

"I have nothing to wear."

"I realize that. I am going to have some kimonos brought to you momentarily. For now, you should not move. Let the poultice at least take effect before you try to heal yourself. We will work on that next step in the dojo within the next two days." He turned to leave when he had finished speaking, but Kagome spoke, in a hushed tone.

"Why are…why are you being nicer to me…? I'm…ningen…and…you hate me."

"Hai. You are ningen. But I will not explain myself. You should be happy for the generosity I have placed upon you, and not question my motives."

"Oh…"

He swept out of the room like a storm, his long silver hair flowing freely behind him, leaving Kagome in a trance-like state until a servant brought her a new kimono.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Inuyasha, you really should not have treated Kagome the way you did, you know."

Sango commented as they continued their search for their missing friend.

"Shut up already!"

"Inuyasha, Sango is correct. You most certainly should not have…" Miroku cut in, only to be interrupted by the fuming hanyou.

"I get the damn point already, baka! Just leave me alone! I'm already helping to look for her!"

"That isn't enough!" Sango suddenly shouted.

"Wh…"

"You baka! You are around her all the time, and you didn't even realize it!"

"What the hell are you talking about?" Inuyasha growled.

"You…Kagome loves you! And she saw you kissing Kikyo! That's why…AARGH!" Sango shouted.

"Sango, it is pointless to try and converse with Inuyasha right now. He refuses to see to reason."

"I guess." The taijiya huffed.

"Although…I could be of some comfort…"

SLAP!

"You perverted houshi! Keep your damn hands off of me!"

Miroku smirked as he rubbed his face, where a red handprint began to appear.

"Guys, we shouldn't be talking right now! We have to look for Kagome!"

Shippo cried.

"Oh, will you shut it, you whiny little runt?" Inuyasha snapped at the kitsune.

"Leave me alone, Inuyasha! She's my okaasan, and I'm worried about her! I can worry if I want to, and there's nothing you can do about it!" Shippo stuck his tongue out at Inuyasha, whose eyes widened in annoyance and anger.

"Why you little…"

"Inu-YASHA! Leave him alone!" Sango yelled.

"Fine!"

It went on like that for hours. All of them arguing about finding Kagome, but coming no closer to doing so. Inuyasha had lost her scent more than a day ago, and had not had any luck in finding it so far.