A/N: Okay let me start by saying this. Sess/Kagome is probably my least favorite pairing. Probably because I've read one too many bad attempts and not enough good ones. But this was a request, so I'm giving it a shot. Usually the problem is there's just not a plausible reason for them to ever connect, not without making one or both WAAAYYY too OOC. And usually Inuyasha has to be dead or be such an ass that Kagome gives up on him. Either way, I don't like it. But I like a challenge, so here's my attempt. Even though I have a hard time imagining it, I can't deny that these two characters have a certain chemistry. I was going to do this as a one shot, but now it will be a two parter instead.


For Cygnus...

An Act of Compassion

Part One

He told himself it was possibly one of the stupidest things he'd ever done.

And Sesshomaru didn't do stupid things.

He was sitting at his ease, watching Rin chase Jaken and wrestle the imp to the ground before she put a circlet of flowers on his ugly head. "Look Sesshomaru-sama! Jaken is pretty now!"

As if a few wilted wildflowers could improve such a visage, Sesshomaru thought wryly. Still, the look of abject misery and humiliation on his retainer's face was enough to make even a demon lord smile. "Yes, Rin. Jaken is indeed...pretty."

The toad's bulbous yellow eyes fixed pleadingly on his master. "My lord! What have I done to deserve this kind of treatment?

I am not a toy for her to play with!"

Sesshomaru stared at him until the imp started to shrivel under the implacable golden gaze. "I would suggest the pink flowers next, Rin."

The little girl squealed with delight, dragging Jaken back into the wildflowers. Sesshomaru closed his eyes, listening to the half hearted protests and whimpers of his loyal servant. Pink flowers, he had half a mind to make Jaken wear the blossoms all the way back to the fortress. It could only improve his aroma and Rin would be entertained. The sun was warm on his face and for a moment Sesshomaru allowed himself to relax, unconsciously releasing the tension that was as much a part of him as his silver hair and poison claws. He was just about ready to put an end to the imp's torture and return to his home when a faint, familiar smell hit his nose. His eyes opened slowly, a slight frown barely making itself seen between his eyebrows. That smell, he knew it. And there was something else.

He stood, looking up at the sky expressionlessly. Waiting for it, watching the clear blue expanse for the first sign of...wings. Dark leathery wings beat in a frantic rhythm, some lizardlike bird demon. He scowled openly now, whatever that creature was, it stank of Naraku.

"Jaken," he snapped, not looking back at his servant. "Protect Rin. I will return."

Sesshomaru gave chase, moving with that inhuman youkai swiftness. He did not jump, he did not spring like a wild beast. Instead his feet barely brushed the treetops, gravity itself meant nothing to a youkai lord. The laws of the earth were his to bend at his choosing, the laws of life and death answered to his swords. He pursued, interested only in the blood of his enemy. If this was some new foul incarnation, some wretched offspring of that abomination, he would slay it and send its bloody remains back to its creator to await its turn in hell.

The demon lord drew closer, easily outmatching the pace of the flying monster. Its smell was foul, dirty and corrupt, and Sesshomaru felt a sneer of contempt twist his perfect lips as he drew close enough to strike. There would be no honorable challenge, this was just another misshapen creature of a madman. It disgusted Sesshomaru that Naraku continued to create life in a mockery of decent youkai blood. As one of an ancient and noble line, as a prince and lord of the highest Tai-Youkai, Sesshomaru drew his sword, the vicious Tokijin, and struck down the filthy beast.

Its body broke apart under the power of his stroke, shattering and dissolving under the strength of a youki far more deadly than its own. The creature gave a single agonized shriek before falling helplessly from the sky. Sesshomaru paused, hovering in the air like a leaf on the wind, to watch as the miserable thing met its timely and deserved fate. It was then that he heard another sound, a high pitched wail of terror and a much smaller form tumbled loose of the bird demon's gnarled claws. Instinct took over next, Sesshomaru did not pause to consider his actions. Pausing would have meant that he wouldn't reach it in time, why had he not considered that the bird-beast might have had prey? Sesshomaru soared neatly through the air, his arm outstretched to catch the screaming woman whose legs kicked desperately as she tumbled to her death. He was fast, few could match his speed and none his wits. He plucked her from the air just before she would have hit the ground, coming to an abrupt stop and then settling gracefully upon the ground.

Her smell said she was human, not that he gave a damn for a human life, it meant nothing to him what she was. She was lucky to be alive instead of bloody chunks in a demon-bird's belly. He dropped her unceremoniously on the ground, annoyed that his flesh had even for an instant been in contact with hers. Filthy humans, he thought in contempt and looked down at the shuddering female. She pushed back her thick tangle of hair and looked up at him. "Thank you for saving my..." her voice trailed off, the words caught in the back of her throat as she stared up at him in horror.

His eyes narrowed in recognition and pure dislike, the fates were toying with him again. The woman stood, brushing at her clothes absently while her mouth hung open like a gaping simpleton. "Sesshomaru," she whispered, his name on her lips sounding like a prayer in hell.

Silently, he cursed her, himself, and any gods that might be listening. He had just rescued his despised half-brother's wench.

Kagome was terrified, still she knew now was no time to lose it, she had to keep her wits about her. She was fairly certain that Sesshomaru had no immediate intention of killing her, but the girl still kept a wary distance from him anyway. He studied her for a moment, thinly veiled contempt in those golden eyes. Kagome felt awkward, for some reason she always felt very exposed in his presence and didn't quite know what to do with her feet or her hands. She told herself to calm down, no sense in jumping to nasty conclusions and abruptly decided politeness couldn't hurt.

She bowed, her hands clasped sincerely before her. "Thank you very much for saving my life, Sesshomaru-sama. I am deeply grateful."

"I didn't know it was you."

Kagome blinked and looked up at him. How could someone deliver such a rude statement in such an expressionless voice, she wondered. He stood still as a statue, long, perfect hair falling gently over his shoulder as he regarded her impassively. The girl let her eyes fall to the ground, surely he'd hate it if he thought she was staring at him. Although he was staring at her and she flushed a little, wondering if he knew how bad mannered he really was.

The bird-lizard demon had come up on them out of nowhere. Kirara got the first scent of it, instantly transforming from adorable twin-tailed kitten to angry neko-youkai in a flash. The hackles on the back of her neck stood up in white spikes, her eyes flashing as she growled at the sky. Inuyasha instantly believed in the cat's instincts, pulling his sword from its sheath even as Sango readied Hiraikotsu.

"Something's coming," the exterminator muttered, needing no confirmation from her companions other than their preparation for battle. Miroku took a stance just behind her and glanced over at Kagome. "Do you sense a jewel shard?" he asked, searching the sky.

She didn't and shook her head. "No, but that doesn't mean...eeep!"

The demon had dropped right out of the sky, moving so fast it was barely even a dark blur. Kagome felt a rush of wind in her face just before something seized her by her shoulders and yanked her right off her feet.

"Kagome!" Shippo screamed, jumping to Inuyasha's shoulder and pointing after her. "Bring her back," the hanyou shouted, immediately giving chase. Sango and Miroku were not as fast as the half demon and raced to Kirara's side. "After them," Sango ordered her friend, fists clenching in the soft white fur.

They raced along, bare moments behind Inuyasha, watching at the dark blob of Kagome's abductor grow smaller and smaller in the distance. "We'll never catch them," Sango cried.

"We have to," shouted Inuyasha. "It smells of Naraku!"

Kagome herself had no idea that the ugly monster smelled of Naraku, all she knew was that she was soaring high above the treetops, her feet dangling uselessly in the wind. She didn't dare struggle, fearing the monster would just drop her.

Then like a dream, it was over and she was falling helplessly out of the sky. Kagome closed her eyes, hoping for a quick death instead of messily fatal injury. Just as she'd made her peace with fate, something plucked her from the jaws of death itself.

That something was now looking at her like she was an insect, a foul creature no more worthy of life than the demon-bird he'd just slain. But she could be polite, even to a chilly demon lord like Sesshomaru. "I still thank you for saving me, even if you didn't mean to."

He didn't answer, just turned on his heel and stalked away. "Hey," she said, hurrying after him. "Where am I?"

Again, no answer, he just kept walking slowly away from her. "I don't know where I am!"

"That is no concern of mine, priestess."

Kagome scowled. "How am I supposed to find my way back to my friends? That thing could have carried me for miles!"

"I suggest you stand upwind. Even that bastard brother of mine has a nose. He will find you."

"Oh that's so comforting." She looked around, the forest was dark and foreboding. Kagome shivered, rubbing her arms. She cast another scowl in Sesshomaru's direction. I'm not helpless, she reminded herself. She still had her bow, a few arrows and a bit of food in her pack. There was no reason to assume that she couldn't survive a few days on her own. No reason at all.

The girl sighed, noticing that Sesshomaru had left her in a kind of protected glade within the forest. It would be better to do as he suggested, get herself upwind. If she could find a higher point in the landscape, the brisk breeze would sweep over her and carry her scent to Inuyasha. Of course, that would also advertise her presence to any predators, but she knew it couldn't be helped. The hanyou would definitely be searching and he would absolutely find her. It was up to her to survive long enough to be found.

Kagome started to trudge uphill, pushing dry brush and branches out of her way. There was a time when she would have been petrified to be on her own. The idea now made her smile, she'd changed so much from that girl who didn't know the first thing about taking care of herself in the wilds. Most of what she knew she'd learned from her friends. Kaede had patiently shown her which herbs and roots were good for medicine, which were good for eating. Sango had explained the finer arts of building shelter for herself, the importance of keeping warm and dry when living outdoors. Miroku had also been useful, showing her the correct way to tend a campfire and cook over one without burning either herself or her dinner.

And Inuyasha? Her brow furrowed, thinking about what she'd learned from him. How to curse in such a way that would make a sailor blush? Kagome giggled at the idea. She didn't often use the words aloud, but more and more frequently she found herself thinking them. The hanyou had also taught her not to give up on herself, not ever. And damn sure not to give up on him. And that was where her confidence to do all the other things came from. If he could survive, if he would be brave in the face of horrifying dangers, so could she. After all, what business did a Japanese schoolgirl have in fighting ancient evil and hateful demons?

Some demons weren't just hateful, they were downright rude. Kagome found her mind wandering back to Sesshomaru. It was funny, he and Inuyasha were like opposite sides of the same coin. One angry and restless, the other icy and cruel. She shook her head, wondering about what made them so different. If Inuyasha hadn't been born half human, if he'd been born a full blooded demon and raised with his brother, would he also be so distant and aloof? No, it just wasn't possible. She couldn't ever seen Inuyasha acting as coldly superior as Sesshomaru. There had to be more to it than just that or the way they were raised.

She had reached the crest of the hill, her long hair whipping her face as the breeze grew stronger. Kagome's eyes went to the sky, it was getting dark. It was getting cold too and the violent wind indicated that a storm was coming. Great, she thought sourly. Just my luck to get caught out in a thunderstorm all alone. Maybe she could find shelter, but she wanted to stand here a bit longer and let the wind take her smell. Nothing sounded less appealing than huddling by herself in the cold rain. No, she'd have to find a way to keep dry. The girl peered around her, hoping that from her new vantage point she might spot a village or at least some kind of structure. The trees around were thick, but she tried to remain optimistic. Then her sharp eyes spied what could possibly be a roof, a bit of thatch sticking out of the otherwise green thick leaves. Good enough to try, she thought, determination making her chin set.

She had just about decided to make for the likely looking structure when she heard a faint shriek. This time she didn't hesitate, dropping her pack and yanking her bow off her shoulder. She couldn't quite get an arrow ready by the time the first demon-bird swooped down on her. Kagome threw herself flat on the ground with a scream, covering her head as the leathery wings passed right over her, a sharp claw grazing the back of her leg.

Sesshomaru stopped, hearing the girl's scream. Automatically, he turned in the direction of where he'd left her. "Foolish wench," he muttered. "Afraid to be alone when..." His train of thought was suddenly diverted when his sensitive nose tasted her blood on the wind. Then the foul stench of another of Naraku's demons. A slight snarl of anger crossed his lips, so Naraku dared send another? This monster would have to be dealt with, he had no intention of letting Naraku succeed at anything, even kidnapping a worthless human girl.

He sprang into the air, moving faster than the wind itself as he searched out his prey. Then he saw it, another vile bird-demon, some kind of abomination befouling the air. He felt the familiar sensation of eagerness, lust for battle fill him as he dove for his prey, Tokijin already drawn and raised. The sword delighted in his intention to use it, calling for blood and death. The demon-bird saw him, breaking off its attack to engage the youkai lord instead. Sesshomaru smiled, pleased to have attracted its attention. "You shall perish," he whispered.

Tokijin flashed, sending a mighty shock of energy at the monster and Sesshomaru reveled in the way the blast shook the air. Around him, the vile beast's mortal remains started to disintegrate, blood and flesh swirling around his body in a wild dance of carnage. It was beautiful to behold. He remembered the woman then and cast his gaze down for her, wondering if she was alive or had the good sense to hide and let others more suited for dealing death handle her attacker.

That's when he saw her, rising up from a crouch with an arrow already notched in her bow. Impassively, he remained still when the missile was released, realizing the girl couldn't see him through the smoke and fire of Tokijin's wake. No matter, it wasn't as if a simple human arrow could deal much damage to a Tai-Youkai lord. Then he saw the arrow was glowing slightly. A faint frown crossed his face, recalling that the girl wasn't just a simple human, but possessed certain spiritual powers of purification. She'd fired an arrow at him before, disrupting a heated battle between himself and his brother. Perhaps he would be wise to...

The arrow struck and Sesshomaru's eyes went wide, feeling a terrible burning pain spiraling out from his midsection. He looked down, not quite believing what he was seeing. A feathered shaft implanted deeply in his stomach, a radiant blue white light pouring from the wound. Slowly, he drifted back to the earth, light as feather wafting on the breeze. Numbness was following pain, alternating in waves. Apparently he was being purified. Of all the indignities, this was most insufferable. His vision started to blur as the girl ran toward him, horror written all over her face at what she'd done. The demon lord merely looked at her expressionlessly.

"Sesshomaru?" Kagome asked hesitantly, watching as the light grew brighter. He didn't answer, just looked at her with those implacable golden eyes before gracefully dropping to his knees and falling over on his side. "Sesshomaru!"