A/N: Cookie cutter? Oh yes, it started out that way. But I promise, it does veer off pretty darn hard and is different. I promise violence, some love, and a happy ending. Romance, well, sort of. Come on, it's Sesshomaru, how romantic can it be? And I promise a miko that stands up for herself! Oh yeah, I own nothing. Not even the laptop. Damn. Anyways, please review, and constructive criticism is always welcome! Enjoy the great beast I have created!
It was all over.
Naraku had been defeated. After so many years of struggle and pain they had won. The jewel had been wished away, never to cause trouble again. A happy ending, or so the young miko had hoped.
Kikyou's created body was damaged beyond repair. Both Miroku and Sango were still unconscious, seriously injured. Shippo alone was unhurt, spirited away by his fellow fox demons to safety, but there was no way to find him. Kagome was conscious, but alone. Inuyasha had made his decision. He had held Kagome, whispered in her ear, then turned and taken Kikyou away. He would follow her to hell.
It was all over. Kagome looked around the hut that she had been sharing with her friends. Sango and Miroku had been rebandaged by a healer and were resting comfortably. They no longer looked like death was knocking at the door. Kagome's hand trailed over her stomach, her own injuries freshly bandaged. The image of a tentacle slamming into her body flashed through her mind, making her wince in memory.
And her hero? The one that had cut the tentacle away and moved her to safety near the failing Kikyou? He was gone. Kagome had only one thought now: home. She did not want to deal with her friends' questions when they woke and found Inuyasha gone. In the dark she scribbled out a note to Sango. If the well would let her she would come back to see them, but now she needed her home and family. Kirara was curled up with Sango.
The little neko-youkai blinked her sleepy eyes and gave a soft mew.
"I need a big favor. I know you don't want to leave Sango, but if I don't get home . . . I don't know what I'm going to do but it won't be good. Please? It's not too far to the well with your help, and you can be back by the time Sango wakes up. Pretty please?"
Kirara gave a big stretch, then nodded and went outside. A flash of fire, then the neko-youkai was ready to leave. Kagome grabbed her pack, taking one last look at her friends. 'I hope the well stays open. I don't want this to be good bye.'
Flying through the night Kagome clung to Kirara. She was still weak and her stomach was bleeding, but once she got home her Mama could help her. In her time the doctors could do more then slap a bandage on. She could hold on until she was through the well. She slumped forward over Kirara's shoulders. 'I'll be home soon. I'll be safe with Mama. My own bed. Oh, that sounds good.'
The neko-youkai touched down next to the well, waiting for Kagome to slide off.
"Arigato, Kirara. I owe you big time. If I can make it back I'll bring you a whole big bag of kitty treats. Deal?"
Kirara nuzzled Kagome, then took to the air to rush back to Sango's side.
Kagome watched the cat until she disappeared from sight. 'This might be good bye. I hope not, but it could be.' She took one last look around. There was the God Tree, with the hole from the arrow that had pinned Inuyasha.
'Inuyasha. Why? How could you say that and leave me?' Fresh tears ran down Kagome's face, but she brushed them away. 'He's gone now, I won't cry over him. The big jerk. I'm going home.'
Exhaustion made Kagome drag herself over the edge of the well instead of jumping, but with a sigh of relief she dropped into the void. When she hit the bottom she was quite surprised to find herself face down in the dirt. Moaning in pain, she rolled over and clutched her stomach. 'That's not how that was supposed to go. What happened? The jewel!'
The Shikon jewel was gone, wished away. Without it, the well had closed to her. She was stuck in the Feudal Era. It had never occurred to her that it might stop working with her on the wrong side. She had been worried about returning, not about going home!
Kagome dragged herself back out of the well and sat on the side. For hours she starred at nothing, trying to come up with a plan. Now where? She knew she could not make it all the way back to her friends without Kirara, she didn't even know the way. What else was there for her? Her quest was over, the bad guy was dead. Her future had been locked away, and now she was alone. 'Damnit, Inuyasha, I really could use some help right now, and where are you? In Hell! What good is that to anybody, including you? Stupid hanyou. Stupid Kikyou. Stupid well. Stupid Kagome. Nobody's coming for you, so you better figure this one out on your own!'
Kaedae. Kaedae would help her. One ankle was twisted, not holding her weight properly, but it would have to do. Kagome dragged herself towards Kaedae's hut, but she was losing the battle with exhaustion. The gash across her stomach that Naraku had given her had opened in her fall and it was bleeding. Kagome stared at her shirt in horror as the red stain grew. Her eyes fluttered, and then closed as she sank to the ground.
The demons drew in, their patience paying off. All day they had been gathering, attracted by the smell of blood in the air. Now was the opportunity they had been hoping for. The miko was defenseless and alone.
Sesshomaru had not escaped unscathed from the battle with Naraku, but he had already recovered. His only thought now was to return to his home and continue the business of running an empire. Rin was very excited to return to Sesshomaru-sama's home and was running about, peppering Jacken with questions.
"How long until we get there? Will it be before dark? Why don't we just take An-Un and fly? Do you think An-Un will be happy to be home? Rin will be happy to be home. Is Jaken happy . . ."
"Stop your nonsense, Rin! We will get there when we get there! Do not question Sesshomaru-sama . . . " Jaken was winding up for a top notch yell.
"Apologies, Sesshomaru-sama, I am only trying to keep this ningen under control with her incessant questions!"
Sesshomaru did not even glance at Jaken. He was distracted by the smell of blood and a large group of demons. The blood was familiar; he had caught the same scent in the recent past.
"Rin, stay here."
"Hai, Sesshomaru-sama!" Rin stopped An-Un and started singing to herself.
"Sesshomaru-sama, where are you going!"
Jaken's frightened squeak followed Sesshomaru as he moved towards the smell of demons and blood.
The ningen was laying face down in a field, surrounded by demons. Yes, the familiar smell was coming from her, he knew her from somewhere. Sesshomaru unsheathed Tokijin and slaughtered the demons without a thought or warning. They were all low youkai, scarcely worth the effort but he could not allow them so close to his own territory. After the last demon had fallen or fled, Sesshomaru studied the ningen on the ground with his usual cool mask. With his foot he rolled her over.
No question, this was Inuyasha's wench, the miko that had destroyed Naraku. How was it that she was alone, nearly dead, and surrounded by demons?
"Sesshomaru-sama, who is that?" Rin flew from the trees to where the miko lay.
"Forgive me, Sesshomaru-sama! I tried to stop her but she would not obey! She bit me, my lord!" Jaken rubbed his hand where a small bruise was forming.
"Sesshomaru-sama, what are you going to do? Can we take her home with us? Has Rin met her? Can she be Rin's friend?"
Sesshomaru stared at Rin, then at the miko.
"We are leaving."
"Rin does know her! She fought Naraku, didn't she? It's the pretty lady!"
A low growl rumbled from the inu-youkai. 'She has recognized her. Rin has been helped by her. This ningen has assisted me in battle, destroyed that creature in battle, and now is in distress. If I turn away it would be said that this Sesshomaru has no honor. Damn.'
"Sesshomaru-sama, can we help the pretty lady? She helped Rin, and Rin would like to help her."
"Rin! Do not argue with Sesshomaru-sama! He has said that we are leaving. Why would he want to save a ningen, especially one in this sad of shape?" Jaken was all set to make up for his earlier thwarted yell.
"He saved Rin, Jaken-sama."
"A decision I am sure he regrets every day!"
An almost invisible sigh escaped Sesshomaru as he stared at the miko. "Where is An-Un?"
Rin turned and whistled, calling the two-headed dragon to her. Now the miko would need to be moved to the dragon, but the inu-youkai was hesitant to touch her. 'The stench is sickening. Is there a way to get her on An-Un that would not involve her stench being on my person?'
Seeing no other options, Sesshomaru roughly lifted the miko and set her on the dragon, trying to minimize the contact. He was much more gentle when he lifted Rin to sit in front of the unconscious bundle.
"We must go directly to the palace. No more stops. Understood?"
"Hai, my lord!" Rin gave her lord a bright smile. 'He is saving the pretty lady that saved Rin!'
"Wait for me, my lord!" Jaken screamed as Sesshomaru called his cloud and took flight. Jaken snagged An-Un's tail as the dragon took off, clinging for dear life as the ground swept away.
Sesshomaru kept his face blank as his mind worked over the new turn of events.
'How did the miko that defeated Naraku become so weak that she was unconscious and alone in a field? Where was that hanyou?' He glanced at the adoring child on An-Un. The little girl had remembered her, and had remembered that the ningen had cared for the little girl. With the defeat of the hanyou and the care of Rin he could not leave her to die in an empty field, torn apart by lowly youkai. It would be beneath him.
But now he was having a chance to think about his decision. Part of his mind screamed for him to leave or destroy the dangerous miko before she awoke. The other half was trying to turn this into an opportunity. Rin would gain a companion, and Sesshomaru would be able to learn of this ningen's powers. Perhaps she could prove to be useful, a new tool for his use.
'Hai', Sesshomaru concluded. 'She could be most useful. She is belligerent and defiant, but once she understands her place she will be a great asset'.
Rin had been chattering nonstop, mostly talking to herself and making up new songs for her new friend. Sesshomaru found the sound soothing, as long as it was quiet and did not require a response.
The group traveled through the night, arriving at the Great Lord's home with the rising sun. Rin was sound asleep, propped up in the saddle. A glance told him that the miko was still unconscious. Jaken was just behind her, having worked his way up the dragon through the night.
Servants were gathering in the courtyard as Sesshomaru and his retinue landed. Rin awoke as they landed, delighted to be home. All of the servants bowed low, waiting for instructions.
"Take the ningen to a room and have a healer attend to her, " Sesshomaru ordered, going into the building. Rin ran to catch up with him and whispered to him. "The room next to Rin's," the Great Lord added, sweeping into the palace.
Sesshomaru escorted Rin to her own room, with a bed large enough for ten children her size. "Rest."
"Hai, Sesshomaru-sama." Rin burrowed under the blankets and was out almost instantly.
Servants were moving about in the hall, settling the miko into her new room. Sesshomaru realized that this was the room that was connected to his.
He had thought nothing of letting Rin pick the room, but now he was regretting the arrangement. He did not mind having his Rin so close, but having this miko so close that he could hear her and smell her set his hackles up. The servants hurried to get the new guest settled, eager to be out of Sesshomaru's range. The healer dropped a bow to the Lord before hurrying to his new patient.
"Sesshomaru-sama, what happened to her?"
"This Sesshomaru knows not. Heal her."
"H – hai, my lord."
Sesshomaru gave one final glance to his new guest, then left.
Kagome awoke in a room she had never seen before. She was clean, warm, and bandaged. The bed she was lying in was covered with silk and down blankets with enough room for Kagome to roll over several times without reaching the edge. Her clothing was gone, replaced with a garment of white with blue embroidery. The room was beautiful, so grand that she was afraid to touch anything.
'Maybe I died.' A stab of pain from her healing wounds changed her mind. 'Nope, I hurt way too much to be dead. Where am I, then? I don't know anybody with a house like this.'
Shoving her pain aside Kagome tried to sit up. It was all she could handle to stay up once she got there. Any thoughts of looking for others were long forgotten. Fear started to creep over her. 'Where is everybody? Am I alone? Is this hell after all? It's so quiet. I can't hear anything, no matter how hard I try.'
"You're awake!" a voice squealed.
Kagome jumped, causing a wince to form on her face. A small bundle of energy flew into her room and perched on the edge of her bed. "Rin is so happy to see you!"
"Rin?" Kagome stared at the smiling face. "Rin, is it really you? Where is Sesshomaru-sama?"
"Working, Rin thinks. When Sesshomaru-sama works Rin plays with Jaken. Jaken doesn't want to play today, though. Rin thought her joke was very funny, but Jaken was very grumpy afterwards. But it will wash off, the healer says so . . ."
"Rin, where are we?"
"Sesshomaru-sama's house, of course. My room is right next to yours, do you want to see it? Maybe you can play with Rin, will you be Rin's friend?"
A tired smile appeared on Kagome's face. The girl's enthusiasm was contagious. "Of course I'll be your friend, Rin, but I'm too tired to play right now."
"Rin will get the healer, the healer will be happy to see you awake. Rin was so worried that the friend Sesshomaru-sama brought for her would not wake up!"
Rin catapulted out of the room.
'Sesshomaru brought me here to be Rin's friend? That doesn't make sense, he wants me dead! I'm really sure about that, he's certainly tried enough times. Not the last time I saw him, of course, he was too busy going after Naraku, but every other time! He hates humans, except for Rin. Would he really just pick me up to take care of Rin?'
"Keh." 'How typical, just pick me up and expect me to do what you want. I'm so tired of guys treating me like that! Sesshomaru, Kouga, Inuyasha . . . yup, that still stings. Don't think about him right now, girl. You've got other things to worry about. It's a good thing that Rin is so adorable or I'd be leaving right now! Well, I would if I could walk. I'll just have to wait until I'm stronger, then I can escape. I wonder if Rin would want to come with me, she can't possibly be happy here with that killer.'
"The healer is here!" Rin announced, leading a handsome demon into the room.
"Ah, our guest has rejoined us." The healer moved with the grace of a dancer. He had long, chestnut hair and a long flowing tail like a horse. Instead of feet he had hooves, but his hands were strong and graceful.
"I am Takanou," the healer introduced himself with a bow. "Let's see how you are doing."
Kagome hesitated. Threat? No, if Sesshomaru wanted me dead he would do it himself, this must be the real thing. She nodded to the healer, moving her blanket away and trying to stand. Her knees gave way and she sagged to the floor. Takanou caught her and lifter her back into bed. "Tsk, you are much to weak to be trying such things. Stay there and let me check your wounds."
The outfit Kagome was wearing was in two pieces, allowing the healer to check the gash on her stomach with minimal embarrassment. Seeing her blush Takanou chuckled. "How do you think I cleaned and bandaged this when you got here? Do not be embarrassed, I mean you no harm of any kind."
Kagome smiled sheepishly. "Arigato, Takanou-sama."
Now Takanou was smiling sheepishly. "Just Takanou, please."
Takanou straightened Kagome's clothes, avoiding her eyes until he was done. "You are healing well, but you need to stay in bed. I will have dinner brought to you."
Takanou bowed and let himself out.
"Miko-sama . . ."
"Rin, call me Kagome" Kagome interrupted.
"Kagome-chan, what will we do? You are stuck in bed and Rin wants to be with you! Sesshomaru-sama is still working."
'She's so cute, she reminds me of Shippo. I wonder how Shippo is, anyways. Well, since I'm stuck here I should give her some real company. I still have some of Shippo's stuff with me, don't I?'
"Hmm, did Sesshomaru-sama bring my bag with me?"
"Hai!" Rin ran through a door on the side of the room and returned with Kagome's yellow back pack.
"Thank goodness, now I have something for you to do, Rin." Kagome pulled out a box of crayons and a notebook. "We are going to draw!"
"What are those, Kagome-chan?"
"Here, I'll show you."
Sesshomaru had finished meeting with his advisors, discussing the plans to strengthen his empire now that Naraku had been destroyed. Now he would return to his room for some peace before the evening meal. Rin would want to go out to the gardens after the meal, of course.
Rin's giggles reached his ears, along with an unfamiliar voice. 'The miko is awake.' Sesshomaru walked past his door and looked into the miko's room. Rin was working with paper, making some sort of painting, but without water. The miko was working with her, also painting without water. Rin was chattering away, telling the miko a story.
"And then Jaken said 'You get back here, you naughty girl!' But I pretended not to hear him and kept running and ran all the way to the meadow! And then I found the most beautiful flowers and picked some for Sesshomaru-sama, but Jaken was still chasing me, so I . . ."
Kagome startled, jerking upright at the cold voice.
"Sesshomaru-sama!" Rin squealed, running to the demon lord. "Is it time to eat?"
"Hai. You need to change."
"Hai, Sesshomaru-sama!" Rin ran from the room.
Kagome eyed the Great Lord nervously. "S – Sesshomaru-sama . . ."
Sesshomaru simply stared with his face blank.
"Um, I, um . . ."
"T – thank you for saving me, Sesshomaru-sama."
A long moment of silence.
"Sesshomaru-sama? Why did you bring me here? What am I doing here?"
Sesshomaru ignored her. "How did you end up unconscious and alone in that field?
Sesshomaru walked to the side of her bed, gazing at her with cold eyes. "Do not pretend that you did not hear, ningen. How did a powerful miko become unconscious in a field full of demons without that hanyou she travels with?"
Tears were threatening to put in an appearance, but Kagome fought them back. 'I will not cry in front of him!' She forced herself to look calm. "I'm sure your healer has told you how I became unconscious."
One eyebrow cocked at her impertinent response. "You were injured and exhausted. But where was the hanyou?"
'Will NOT cry!' "Your brother is gone, Sesshomaru."
"You will use respect when addressing the Lord of the Western Lands."
Kagome glared. "Yes, my lord," she growled through her teeth.
'Growling? How unusual in a ningen. Rather appealing, to see some strength being displayed. I wonder if she knows what she is starting?'
The unbidden thoughts came and went quickly, but Sesshomaru was sure that he would be analyzing that after he was away from the miko. "Where has the hanyou gone?"
Bracing herself, Kagome whispered, "He followed Kikyou into hell."
'That undead miko?' Surprise flashed through Sesshomaru's eyes, but was quickly hidden behind his mask. "He was more of a fool then this Sesshomaru thought."
Kagome hung her head, then returned her gaze to Sesshomaru. "Now, about my question. Why am I here?"
Sesshomaru turned and walked to the door. "Food will be brought to you here. Do not attempt to leave this room."
"Sesshomaru!" An icy glare made Kagome pause. "My lord, why . . ."
"Rin needs a companion."
Kagome did not even see him leave, he was simply not there anymore.
'Is that truly all that is going on? A friend for Rin? But it makes no sense! He wants me dead! Right? Then why am I still alive? That jerk, I know he's hiding the real reason why I'm here. I just have to figure it out. I don't have much else I can do, stuck in bed like this.' Kagome glared at the ceiling. 'I'm so bored!'