Hey guys, sorry about not posting sooner. I didn't die, but my computer did (it's almost a decade old).Yup, twenty-four days ago from today...Please excuse the poor editing (or poorer than usual :-P), I've been really busy with other major projects as well. Other than that, I still hope you guys enjoy this next installment!

By the way, I guess you could say this is an 'Alternate Universe,' but I'd like to think as a 'Parallel Universe.' You know, that theory in the movie The One, where it's one guy in different universe(s?) that have different roles, etc...Uh, hope that's not too confusing. (Hehe). Also, when I mean their puting their guards down, I mean that they are being more open taen they usually are (like Sesshoumaru, Kagura, and personal space eh...) Anyway, my ranting stops now.

Lady and Conquest


Clouds and Questions

In his superficial life, Naraku was a man who inherited a great deal of supremacy in the black business world. At the same time he was a genuine owner of some of World's most famous gambling facilities. Known, too, for doing whatever necessary means required to meet his ends. Whether it be fair play or unsportsman-like conduct. While he had similarities to his father Onigumo Kagewaki, the truth was that they were two very different people. Both had their own unique abilities to conceal their life away from the public in an exceptional way. Though it was his father who brought such fortune to the family, it was Naraku who brought them to where there were today: high authority figures of both the open and underground world that stretched beyond even Japan. So much that they had become the largest competing clan against the, for now, leading figures in the world of murder: the Taiyoukai Clan.

This desire for power did not begin with his thirst for it, nor did it start with his overbearing ambition. No, in fact, it began with his father, Onigumo Kagewaki. He was known for single-handedly bringing up the status of his family's position in society. To get to this rank, though, there were a lot of costs. Costs no child should pay, but Naraku did. He and his younger sister had suffered. Even at a young age they were exposed to blood, murder, and abuse. All thanks to their father and even their mother. It was he and his oldest sister Kagura that had paid the highest price within the family; even the death of their youngest sibling seemed like bliss. And while his sister chose suspicion and recession as a way of dealing with her problems, Naraku chose isolation and domination. In a way, he had become his father, but in many others he had become a man driven by all things wicked.

The underground business was a complex world to be a part of. There were many clans, especially in Japan, that stood in the way. In order to gain the power of whatever one wishes, it was required to conquer all your enemies, and become the best. It was really like piecing together shards of a broken jewel; where the pieces were the enemies, and the complete jewel was the aim. Now, he had gathered most of the fragments, and the only thing that stood in the way was the TaiYoukai's posse and their allies.

Although he did not show it, Naraku had been frustrated by the way the events of two nights ago had ended. It did not go his way, and when things didn't, he became angry. All throughout this day, he sat beside the window, without a chair in a traditional Japanese castle that was his home, contemplating a plan that would give the best results with the least efforts. He was known quite well for this, becoming a growing but feared power thanks to his ingenious tactics. This time, though, it was a little different. He needed to craft a plan to initiate war between his murder ring and TaiYoukai's. For now, he had sent spies to trace his enemies' every move.

Naraku was sitting beside the eerie opening 'till night came, awaiting the intelligence concerning his adversaries' movements. And it would not disappoint.

After two straight strange days, Sesshoumaru had found some relief in the day's end. It was incredibly odd for him to let anyone so close to him, even if it may have only been physically. There was that factor of bizarre familiarity that seemed to continually induce him with thoughts, but it was really her last words, a question rather, that captured his attention. The meaning behind those words consumed him. He began to wonder if maybe he had shown too much of himself, or at least his nature. Maybe he had been too open with her, or possibly she had seen something in him that not many had. It never crossed his mind during their time together, that he could have, perhaps been too open to her. What made him so comfortable with her? He did not know.

It was peculiar. Ever since he had met this woman, he had so many questions he could not answer, despite the fact they had only just met. In a way it was kind of exciting to have someone who invoked so much confusion in one's mind, but at the same time it was unbearably frustrating. For a state of mind like this, Sesshoumaru found this quite a threat to his pride.

The woman wasn't incredibly beautiful; but then again, no human he'd ever met seemed that extravagant in his eyes. And of course, Sesshoumaru was not the type of person whose attraction would be dictated by superficial things such as outer-beauty, and it was all to rare that he would even be affected by what they call 'inner-beauty.' This Kagura, though, had something that captured his attention. It may have been her life's story that he only got a hint of, or even the fact that his supremacy, that was questioned by none, had been challenged. There were just too many possibilities.

Sesshoumaru was making way outside the front entrance of the for once, quiet Hospital. The fog that had settled shielded the sky, but he knew it was dark, it was his usual time to leave for his house. Although, soon, it would be unnecessary for him to even come back to the hospital and resume his career. He would get his father's position soon.

His means of transportation was parked far from where he worked, and despite the unclear path, he knew exactly where he was going. Sesshoumaru had always enjoyed long; silent walks, especially at the night. The pathway there was always so isolated, and he had always loved the solitary ways of life. He assumed this would be another lonely journey like his life had always been, but then he saw her.

"Kagura…?" He said in a tone so low, it was really only meant to for him.

But she heard his gentle call. Kagura lifted her head away from her cold knees and slowly her face turned to the direction of the mighty man standing beside her. He looked more powerful than usual. Maybe it had been that the night made him appear this way. Kagura had to quickly look away before his presence completely consumed her mind. She had to admit though, at this very moment he was almost beautiful…

Even if she had said nothing, Sesshoumaru knew why she was still here, or at least the most likely reason. Her family neglected her, and this was probably not the first time this had happen. After all, there was no indication of sadness in her expression, just confusion.

Kagura, feeling strangely uncomfortable, broke the silence, "I would take the bus, but this damn fog is blocking the way, and I can't see my way through." A sigh soon followed, but not of frustration but perplexity.

"I see." Was his only sounding reply, but he meant much more.

"Are you going to take me there?" Kagura understood his short reply, which took him surprise. Not many had caught the meaning of his brief statements, and most were offended or unsatisfied in some way because of it. The woman before him, too, was no exception. But now, it seemed she had discovered his way of communication in mere hours, in what took his own family years to even understand.

"It is on the way." He hid all traces of his surprise, but found it unlike him to wait for someone to journey with him, let a lone a stranger. Usually he would walk away without delay and the being would usually follow.

She scoffed at his answer. "What happened to, 'too much?' I don't want to make you feel invaded, all mighty one." She referred to his earlier confrontation about conviction. It amazed Kagura that even after these demoralizing deliberations, she still had room for sarcasm, but maybe it was his presence that inspired her feisty nature in such a hopeless situation.

"There is no need to be concerned for me."

'Hmph. I could say the same Sesshoumaru.'

"Whatever." Silence settled once again, but it wasn't the only thing that did. The butterflies too were perching in her stomach. There was a strange, invisible aura that this man exuded every time he was close to her. Kagura wondered whether it was just her that felt this way, or everyone who had been this close to him. The only explanation to this would be charisma.

Her feet slid away from the bench and made its way to the ground. With a big release of her breath, she stood up and once again faced Sesshoumaru.

This time she gave no warning to advances. She believed him enough to know that he wouldn't harm her. Kagura had seen enough of him to realize that this man placed much importance in respect, for others and especially himself.

He began to move, and she made sure she did not lag behind. She matched him step for step, and this was all coming naturally. His pace was slow, serene, and suave, she noted, like all the things he did.

The silence between the strangers was unnerving to both. It was a kind of silence that wasn't desirable to either, especially since there were many questions they wanted answered.

Kagura looked at him with the corner of her eye. She could see his lips about to part.

'So he's going to ask the questions first.'

"Is the cold something you enjoy?"

'The cold…?'

"Yes, it is." It was meant for mockery, but an unnoticeably small part of her answer was true in a sense that neither understood. Still, she did not expect such an unorthodox question.

"Your actions don't verify your reply." The tall man decided to play along with her sarcasm. He tilted his head a little, enough to see her figure with his peripheral vision.

At his response, Kagura had realized how tightly she was clasping herself. Her body was indeed freezing, the small amount of her exposed skin all forming visible goose bumps. Her mind was too preoccupied for her to take her body to account. Even if she was undeniable cold, thanks to the damp atmosphere, she still wouldn't give in.

"I'm fine…" And in one swift motion, his long dark gray coat was wrapped around her, and she was unable to resist his consideration. Her ruby orbs grew larger as she felt his hands securing the jacket on her shoulders. Placing it so it wouldn't fall, and so she would have no choice but to accept it. And when it was, he added a slight pressure, trying to make her feel comfortable with the foreign clothing. His actions stunned Kagura, and made her complexion flush completely red.

Then he retreated to walking a linear path, as if acting like he did nothing.

"I said I'm fine!" Was the only thing she could say, but immediately after, she fastened the attire to regain her warmth with it, which was protecting her from the cruelty of the damp world.

"Sometimes it's good to disclose." His expression was indifferent, but he noted the shock that devoured her. He would not comment on it.

"Oh yeah? Then tell me. Why do you keep helping me?"

"Because you keep asking for it."

"No, I don't!"

"Yes you do, although you don't admit to it."

"No, I fucking don't, and I don't admit what I don't need!"

'Why in the world did I help such a disrespectful human of all people?' The question raced through Sesshoumaru's mind.

"Do you have the inability to express gratitude?" His tone, this time, had hints of frustration.

Kagura failed to reply because the answer was yes, but she did not want to admit to it, even if it would have proved him wrong; she just hated confessing. So instead, she returned a question.

"Why are you being so considerate?" Kagura emphasized her last word and this time her voice was all to quiet. It was known that Sesshoumaru was not the kind of person who'd lend a helping hand to every impaired stranger. She was eager for his reply.

"Perhaps I am drawn to your perplexing audaciousness." He replied sincerely, giving the least significant reason to him. It was unusual for any to show such little respect to him. Stranger or not. But there was something about her audacity that was different, that was unique, and Sesshoumaru had to admit, it was rather alluring. Of course, it was only in the slightest way possible. And to think, that it was even the smallest of things about her that made him wonder.

"Why do you allow me to?" Sesshoumaru continued. Knowing that just as it was unlike him to help anyone, it was just as strange for anyone to help her. Because, it seemed, she wouldn't let anyone help her.

"Perhaps I'm drawn to your peculiarity; you're not like the men I have met before." Smiling immediately after her insinuation, Kagura was satisfied with her answer. Especially after witnessing his reaction.

He quirked his eyebrows and pondered her strange counter.

"What do you mean by that?"

"You're not like other people." She said quickly.

"I could say the same." Said the man with white hair.

"Then I guess we are the same." Replied the woman with black.

They both diverted their eyes; the lady's lingered to the ground, and the gentleman's to the sky. Their strides no more rhythmic, but their hearts simultaneous.

Another silence followed and settled between them, but this time it was comfortable and called for. As they continued to walk along side by side, while smiling concealed satisfaction, amused at the irony of it all, they both knew, at this very moment, all was perfect.

And it had been a long time since anything was.

"I told you Kagura. You won't get away, for humiliating me. Naraku will hear of this." The man's buzz like breathing whispered, as he witnessed them walk together.
It had come to Kagura and Sesshoumaru's attention that they had almost reached their end of the journey. Their destination. The fog could no longer hide the outlines of the green-white buses.

After thirty minutes of, what seemed like wandering, Sesshoumaru had brought her to the place he had promised he would. With no guidelines, with no alertness, and with all precision. But now, there was a little hesitation from him. And Kagura took notice.

His steps were slower than they had been few minutes ago. She knew, because now she was slightly ahead of him. Kagura found herself slowing down for him, instead of him slowing down for her. It was strange, but Kagura couldn't help but think,

'Does he want to prolong this…?'

"You've slowed down, Sesshoumaru." She said, eager for his answer.

But he didn't. Instead he adjusted his lips a little, and blankly stared into her vivid ruby eyes.

'Just say it. Say you want to see me.' The words replayed through her mind as she returned his gaze.

His lips parted once more, and his eyes narrowed, almost as if he was unsure of what he wanted to say. There were so many thoughts in his mind, and he couldn't sort them well enough for him to say what he wanted, whatever that may be. It was looking at her eyes that made him realize what exactly the answer she wanted from him.

"Kagura…" Sesshoumaru's voice was gentle, and it hinted no nervousness that was building in his body.

Her demeanor changed, as her own lips parted and her eyes held steady, anticipating his reply. She lifted her head a little, to see his face more clearly. To see his starry like eyes.

"We are here." He looked to the ground for no more than a second, and then he turned to the buses. The vehicles that would take her away.

"Oh." She said quietly, looking to where his eyes settled.

Frustrated by his words, she vigorously removed his jacket that he had lent her. Kagura then held it in front of his shoulders, with her own face hidden by her hair, hiding her disappointment.

"Here!" Her tone was vicious. "Take it!"

"You still has use for it."

"I can take care of myself!" She jerked her hand forward, implying with acute anger to take the jacket.

But he refused.

"Why don't you take it?"

"Because, you don't want me to."

Taken back by his comment which so accurately defined her will, all she could resort to was a retort.

"Oh, don't you just know the answer to everything!"

"If I did, I wouldn't be so..." He halted his reply; Sesshoumaru had realized again that his boundaries were being overlooked, and it was a fault of his own like it had been earlier.

'What am I thinking…?'

With that, Sesshoumaru turned to walk away before he had any further regrets of his actions, of acting on what he repressed so well, his impulse. With no one to blame but himself, he had opened a passage into his mind for a stranger that he barely knew, and that struck his conscience.

With no verbal good-byes, or even a consideration she had criticized him for before, he left Kagura standing alone. Feeling a little incomplete.

She looked at his jacket that she held tightly, over-analyzing the events that had just occurred. Trying to understand why he wouldn't accept the return of his attire. Her thoughts were clustered as she rummaged through them in her mind. And then Kagura remembered his bright golden eyes, starring at her own. So illuminating, the glow lighting it's way into her mind. It seemed that when he looked into them, Sesshoumaru knew precisely what to say, and now she realized exactly what he meant; he wanted to see her again as well.

'You know what Sesshoumaru, you confuse me more than myself.'

"Sesshoumaru!" She called him once more. But as he turned around slowly, to meet her gaze, Kagura saw in him the slightest indication of regret. His expression was indifferent like it had always been, but there was something about his stare that was dark, impatient, like he had done something so wrong. And it was her fault it had happened.

The dispirited woman could say nothing more, so she turned away having regrets of her own.

The night was becoming clearer around Naraku's dark, hidden home. The clear sky was now visible, the stars apparent to his eyes.

Even now, he did not have a satisfying plan, despite trying to contemplate one throughout the day. His patience was running out, all very slowly, but eventually.

And then, he heard footsteps along with the familiar wasp-like-breathing that could belong to only one man.

"Naraku-sama." It was one of his many spies. Spies that he gave the utmost reliance on. He knew they would never betray him.

The young leader indicated for the man to continue.

"I have news." Naraku turned away from the opening, and looked at the ugly man now standing in front of him.

"Saimyoushou. What do you have for me?" He inquired, as he looked to the short, insect-like servant.

A victorious smirk appeared on his henchman's face. He was looking forward to gain revenge for his earlier humiliations.

"I have seen Kagura. With the enemy."

With that, Naraku shot a deviously curious glance and was all but apathetic about his spy's report. His mind was beginning to get clearer.

"Who is this enemy?" He further questioned.

"It is the doctor. Taiyoukai Sesshoumaru."

"The son who will soon rise to become the new leader." He grinned in the slightest form, exuding a hell stricken aura that felt like massacring poison. There were no more clouds in Naraku's mind. Like the sky, his mentality was completely clear. The plan he had tried to think of was finally taking its form. "Interesting."

"Shall I send to eliminate her for betrayal."

Naraku released a slight titter, his face turned away from the man behind him.

"Kill my own sister? That would make me an inauspicious demon, wouldn't it? Especially since my dearest sibling finally has some use to me."

He returned to his expressionless façade, and turned around once more.

"Saimyoushou, continue your tasks, and report to me Kagura's every move. And when she is with the enemy, do nothing to stop it."

The spy shot a confused look at his master, but did not question his motives. Naraku was calculating, and pragmatic. If there was something on his mind, it was always a clear, defined strategy. Something that is destined to work to his advantage. Where all involved are doomed to his objective, and are unable to escape.

Before I go I just like to thank, Fantastical Queen Ebony Black, Rabid Nozomi, Gyousei, Dakyu, Trentaholic, Jay Something, samithecreator, SnowySilver, Jess is the name, Parsnip, Hanyou 2 Youkai, Authentic Beauty, Lady Peacecraft, Hamona, RickyElRey, DreamSprite, The Pink Lemming, Gyousei, kawaii cherry, Jessica is the name (are you the same person?), and a OOBER thanks to LaDy PnAi (sorry for not mentioning you last chapter, I feel very very guilty! But your review is important too, thanks again!).

And thanks to all else who reviewed, I apologize for not making personal responses. I'm in a bit of a rush, seeing that I have delayed for so long. Hopefully my computer doesn't break down the next time I plan to post a chapter! Till next update!