Well, it's only a week past the New Year, so there shouldn't be too many complaints. ^_^ (It COULD be longer!) Still many thanks for all the support! But for whoever submitted the same review over 100 times on ff.net…don't do that again, PLEASE! It was a pain to erase all the extra reviews…

Anyway, Inuyasha belongs to Takahashi Rumiko, Shonen Sunday/Shogakukan, Sunrise, Viz, and all the other companies who lay a claim to it. On with the story!

The Next Best Thing
Chapter 14: The Power of the Wind-Fang Sword

By Laura Hoak-Kagey

Rin kept her gaze on the monk. They could presume all they wanted that she would tell them everything they wished to know, but Rin was more resilient than that and wouldn't tell them anything. "Only Sakura matters to me. Do what you want, I won't talk!" Folding her arms across her chest, Rin took a stubborn pose, emphasizing that she wasn't going to cooperate with them so easily.

Sango sighed. "Well, one of us should bring them all back to our hut, to watch Rin and make sure that Sakura is okay. Would you do it, Miroku dear? We both know that when it comes to fighting that I'm better than you…"

He nodded. "I know, I know. As long as you'll be okay?" Miroku paused long enough to see his wife nod, "Alright, I'll take them back. BUT, if anything goes wrong, send Shippou back to come get me. You'll stay, won't you Shippou, to help Sango?"

Shippou looked up to his monk friend. "Of course! It might be a little scary…but I've gotten stronger over the years, and I can help more than when we all fought together before!"

Smiling, Sango said, "Of course! You've always been a help to us, though, Shippou!" Sango handed Sakura over to Miroku, and motioned for Kirara to come towards them. "Rin, you're going with them, and don't think you can escape from Miroku, he has more tricks than you think!"

Rin had observed the closeness of this group, and felt a bit of envy. Jaken had never been so polite to her, nor had any of the others Sesshoumaru had worked with. How could they so easily trust so many people at one time? Rin had found maybe one or two people in her 12 years of life that she could trust—and she did that cautiously.

Before she knew it, Rin was forced atop Kirara, wedged between Miroku and Sakura. She could see that the monk was using his staff to keep a hold of the two girls in front of him.

"Sango, Shippou, good luck. I'm not doubting your abilities, but if the situation turns for the worse," Miroku said as he sternly gave a look to his wife, "I'll find a way to help you. Don't hesitate to ask."

With that Miroku waved farewell, and Sango and Shippou faced each other. "Do you think Inuyasha's doing alright?"

Sango wasn't sure how to answer that at the moment, and looked hopefully towards the invisible lands of Sesshoumaru beyond the barrier.

*~*~*

The time it took Inuyasha to spring from his spot on the ground to Sesshoumaru seemed eternal. Inuyasha knew that his half-brother was quick to dodge, but Inuyasha was going to trust his instincts this time. He had a gut feeling that Sesshoumaru would dodge to the right since Kagome was crumpled on the ground to his left, and that would impede his movements. Inuyasha firmed his grip on his sword, and feigned a swing to the left which made Sesshoumaru evade to the right, but at the last second Inuyasha put his strength and body into maneuvering the Tessaiga's blow to the right. The sword scratched its mark, and after the contact, Inuyasha retreated back to see what he had been able to accomplish.

Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes as Inuyasha retreated back, taking notice of the wound on his left arm. Sesshoumaru wondered why Inuyasha was resorting to hand to hand combat when he could easily use his sword's projectile attacks. One of those attacks had cost Sesshoumaru a lot of his power before, and he wondered how long he could feign indifference to that loss of power within himself. That was the only reason he had resorted to the more devious, kidnapping technique he had used for both Sakura and that woman Kagome. As it were, Kagome lay unconscious on the ground near him, and Sesshoumaru had an inward smile for that accomplishment. If he could just find Rin and that Sakura girl…next time he wouldn't take his chances of frontal combat. The girl already liked him, and with time, Sakura could learn to forget her parents and put her complete trust in her uncle. Sesshoumaru couldn't stand to lose out yet again to that lowly half-demon half-brother of his. And damn them, Kikyou and Naraku, for not being able to help him in his revenge against his brother. This was no ordinary grudge—it was a life-long grudge borne from the day Inuyasha's mother had won the heart of his father and merely tossed his own mother aside.

Oblivious to the contents of Sesshoumaru's thoughts, Inuyasha saw that he had indeed scratched Sesshoumaru's arm with his sword. Shifting the weight to his uninjured leg, Inuyasha carefully watched for the opportunity to use his sword's greatest attack—the Power of the Wind-Fang Sword, Fuugekenryou. Noticing that Sesshoumaru must be thinking about something for a split second, judging by his facial expressions, Inuyasha seized the moment.

Using this technique took more concentration than either the Kaze no Kizu or Bakuryuuha attacks he had mastered earlier. Focusing his senses to the scent and movements of the wind, Inuyasha channeled his will, his power, and his determination, to save those he loved, into the Tessaiga. As he did so, the sword began to glow red, with faint traces of other colors, which signified the power lent to him unbeknown by his comrades.

With the Tessaiga vibrating in his hands as a result of the power being channeled into it, as the time crept slowly, he concentrated on discovering the wind that would help him in his attack. Instantly he caught the scent of the wind that he needed! Opening his eyes, Inuyasha raised his sword over his head and swung downward as he shouted, "FUU…GE…KEN…RYOU!!!"

A twined ovoid shaped mass of energy sped towards Sesshoumaru. Sesshoumaru saw the attack coming, and his eyes gave away that he knew what this attack was, and he had seen it before. He put up his defenses as the seemingly myriad color mass of energy reached Sesshoumaru. Inuyasha, sweating from the exertion of both body and mind, breathed heavily as he waited for the light to clear to see what had happened. His eyes kept darting to his love on the ground, anxiously awaiting to be by her side again, never to let her come to harm if he could help it. But at the moment, defeating Sesshoumaru was his top concern.

*~*~*

Sango and Shippou both were instantly aware of the flicker of the barrier's strength as they could see it wavering to reveal the lands beyond it. "Let's go Shippou!"

Grabbing the still adolescent fox demon, Sango made for the barrier. Luckily it had been weak enough for them to penetrate without harm. Quickly looking at the ground, Sango could make out Inuyasha's tracks. "They went this way, let's go! But move quietly. I'm hoping that Inuyasha and Sesshoumaru will be so involved with their confrontation that neither one will pick up our scent. I'd rather like to use the tactic of surprise on them, if needed."

They ran until they saw the two figures in the distance. Why were there only two? Where was Kagome? Sango thought to herself. Putting the thought aside, as they got closer, Sango noticed that Inuyasha was about to attack. She stopped Shippou in his tracks, and pulled him behind a nearby tree.

"Let's watch. You can tell Inuyasha's gonna do something from his stance. I wonder if he'll use *that* attack or not…" Sango muttered the last sentence to herself. Would Inuyasha be able to defeat Sesshoumaru this time? And in such a short amount of time?

She was drawn from her thoughts by Shippou's whispers. "Sango, Kagome's on the ground over there! What do you think happened to her?"

Her friend's voice was full of the concern she now felt for Kagome. "I don't know, Shippou. We'll see what's wrong with her as soon as we can, but…"

Her words were cut short by Inuyasha's cry, "FUU…GE…KEN…RYOU!!!"

The two watched awestruck as the magnificent mass of light and energy headed for their foe.

*~*~*

Miroku had reached home without Rin trying to escape his hold on her. The girl was human, like him, and so he didn't have to worry about any latent power abilities. However, he wasn't going to underestimate the girl, and as he carried Sakura and guided Rin into the house, he motioned for Kirara to stand guard at the door with his head. Obeying her friend, Kirara made herself comfortable, yet alert, in front of the door. This hut didn't have more than one entrance, and she could see the windows from where she was lying.

Once inside, Miroku carefully laid Sakura down on some furs alongside the wall, and turned his full attention to Rin. "You said that Sakura mattered to you, didn't you? If that's so, then you should know that in order to help her you're going to have to tell us something. I mean, Sesshoumaru is not going to just take the girl back happily, with her all too willing to forsake her family and way of life. Rin," he stressed her name, hoping to prompt her to say anything, "what does Sesshoumaru want with Sakura?"

Rin took a good look at Miroku and then at her little-sister like friend on the floor. What she should do? Lord Sesshoumaru had always protected her and she would never betray him. But, would he eagerly take her back if she did hand over Sakura to her family and friends? Rin could escape, she was sure of that, but what price would leaving the girl do to her relationship with Lord Sesshoumaru? What would it do to herself?
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Okay, fight scenes are hard to write, so this chapter is shorter than some. But hey, you have at least some more to read of the story! ^_^ Also, sorry it's nearly a week past the New Year's, but things came up. Also, we'll see when the next chapter comes up since school is starting up again, but I'm hoping it's not more than a month! Let me know what you think!
January 2003
http://animeforever.com/inuyasha