Thanks to Numisma for the beta. I kept your subjunctive "were." You were right and I was wrong. :)

Warning: noncon.


"It's broken," was all he said. "It held me together too."

You can't know. You didn't smell the air then. Burnt hair, and falling ash. Something else, too, the smell of youki, though that also seemed singed somehow. Unusable. That sword smelled the worst.

But he held it like a talisman, and sweartagawd, Inuyasha was praying. To the sword, perhaps, a litany that lost its words, if it ever had words, a chant to bring back what was lost.

"We'll make it," was all she said. "We'll make it back."

It was a bad fight, that they knew. Stumbling lost in the smoke, not daring to call each other's names.

No one can imagine what it was like. How he slumped against her and she felt his sweat—that also smelled bad—not rank, but full of fear. The way Inuyasha's sweat should never smell. "Is it because..." But no, she couldn't say that.

He said it for her—whispered it, anyway. "Kagome," he rasped, "you should get away from me. I don't know how much longer..."

She had to admit that she flinched away from him slightly when he said that, but she knows in her heart it wasn't to leave. She wouldn't do that. It was only surprise, but it terrified him. He clutched at her, no sooner was the admonishment to leave out of his mouth than he chased it with: "Please, don't leave me, don't leave me alone like this, Kagome." She looked frozen, torn, but she didn't fool anyone. It's easy to imagine what she decided, is it not?

That whole night, his weight sagged against her and with her arm around him she could feel his every rib beneath her fingers. She'd touched him, sure, straddled him and ridden him everywhere, but this was different. This was intimate. When he coughed, she felt it as if it vibrated through her own chest.

"Gone," he said, and somewhat ruefully Kagome thought that he was taking this harder even than Kikyou's death. But that sword had been one with his soul. Wasn't that love under the best of conditions?

"Your face, Inuyasha," she said, and he looked up at her mournfully, his face scored with youkai markings and his fangs large, but his eyes were so clear and so sad then that she felt no fear.

They stopped deep in the woods at dawn, frost nipping the air and dew frozen on the undergrowth. The new light warmed them little, but showed them their own frozen breaths. Inuyasha, she noticed, steamed not only from his mouth. It seemed as if heat roiled off every inch of skin. He was hot to the touch, hot enough that if he were human, he'd be dying. Afraid as she was for him, Kagome was grateful for his warmth, and held him very closely. She'd left her sweater behind, you see.

"I have to sleep," she told him. "I'm sorry. I know we should go on. But I feel as if my legs will give way if I try to stand on them, and you're certainly in no state to carry me."

He didn't answer her, exactly, but ran his claws very gently through a lock of her hair. He looked pitiful like that, as if he were full of things to say to her, but with that mouth ridiculously full of fangs he couldn't form the words. She'd have given anything for something silly like a "keh." Instead he just held her on that cold dawn, and perhaps it was a trick of the light, but his eyes seemed to grow redder.

Fitfully but needfully she fell headfirst into dreams without hardly bothering to fall asleep first, and she saw that little girl that was always following Sesshoumaru. "Human girl," Kagome told her, "don't you know who he is? That's dangerous. You're safer with your own kind."

And Rin, though of course Kagome didn't know that was her name, laughed.

"Wild dogs," Kagome's mother said. "You will be careful."

"I will have fled, long ago," Miroku added. "You can stay and get eaten if you want, Kagome-sama."

"I'm not going to get eaten," Kagome insisted petulantly. "It's Inuyasha. Look at him! The same Inuyasha that's always been our friend."

"He was always part youkai," Shippou said. "I don't forget that, and neither should you."

"No!" Kagome screamed, the dream suddenly feeling very emotional. "He's human! I love him!"

She awoke quickly again, curled up very close with Inuyasha. She glanced at the sun, which was still on the horizon. What had that been, twenty minutes? But Inuyasha was growling on and off, and feeling embarrassed, she remembered her dream. There was no mistaking this boy for human, not the way he was now.

That must have been what woke her, his growling. Oh, but she needed sleep so badly. She blinked hard. He needed her more. She felt almost numb, as if her body wasn't hers. "Inuyasha, can you hear me?" she asked. She felt his pulse race under his skin faster than could be safe, a breakneck thrumming in his veins. And through their clothes, she felt the hardness of an erect penis pressing against her.

A jolt of fear went through her, even as she told herself she had nothing to fear from Inuyasha. "Your body," she said, "is going a little..." she broke off, her voice cracking. Then, in a whisper, "Is it because of me?" She felt almost as if that were a pretentious assumption. It wasn't as if he had ever shown any kind of—

His eyes were completely red now, and he wasn't growling anymore. He inhaled deeply, almost choking on her scent. Then he grabbed her by the throat and pulled her up in the air, only to hurl her down on her back with such force that the wind was knocked out of her. Between the hold on her throat and the burning in her lungs, she never even got a chance to scream.

Bewildered and in pain, she knew it was time to say the word. Kaede had put those beads around his neck to prevent this exact sort of thing. Inuyasha took comfort from the fact that with that to protect her, he could never really hurt her. But she couldn't even get air, and no, it hurt too much, she was dying for sure—she clawed at his hand with her nails, drawing blood but not breath.

When he relaxed his hand, she did get air in a few wheezing gasps, but when she uttered a hoarse "O—" he cut her short again with a thumb pushing up under her jaw, and she gagged.

Still he didn't speak, but she saw a kind of intelligence in his eyes that was not blind youkai rage and yet was definitely not Inuyasha. Her mind spun and reeled. Why would he do this to her? Could some dark part of him have hated her all this time?

Inuyasha hooked a claw under her blouse and tore the front wide open. It was so easy for him. A single hand was all he needed to hold her helpless, and the other was free to do whatever it wanted.

He let her have another moment to breathe, but kept his inhuman eyes on her intently. She got the message. Try to say it, and no more air. She coughed and gulped. Her throat felt crushed, and, panicked, she wondered if there would be permanent damage. Her chest still burned from being hurled down, and asphyxiation hadn't helped it any.

Then he tore through her bra and laid her chest bare, and Kagome realized where this was going. A thousand feelings surged up in her at once. Her first thought was that she wanted to tell him that it didn't have to be this way, that she would make love to him willingly. But when she tried to speak, he brought his hand down hard on her chest, knocking the wind out of her yet again, so that she choked and spat and cried.

And it occurred to her: he'd never even tried to kiss her. He didn't want her that way. He wanted to hurt her, and that was all.

Kagome decided then and there that there was no way she was allowing this to happen.

She was filled not only with rage, but with a certainty of her own strength, that she could not be overcome this easily. She was powerful. She'd never let herself get hurt before, right? And with all her blind pride, she struggled and fought, not caring about the pain, not even needing air, though her muscles burned and her lungs screamed. She saw red, and then spots of black, but didn't lose consciousness.

Annoyed, Inuyasha grabbed both her wrists and pinned her with them splayed apart, palms up, while Kagome kicked him: in the chest, the balls, the thighs, anywhere she could make contact. With one knee he pinned her thigh down, and her eyes widened with terror. She was struggling so hard she was bruising her tender flesh on him, but she didn't have a hope against him. She'd known he was strong when he picked her up and carried her, but it wasn't until her strength was pitted against his that she'd realized how strong he really was.

Or how weak she was. She might as well have tried to budge a mountain. She saw that even if she had twice, three times the strength she had now, she would only break her own bones fighting him.

But one good thing came of that struggle. She'd caught enough breath for one word.

She didn't like that he was on top of her, but she might never get another chance. "Osuwari," she said—or rather croaked—she was astonished at how rasped and weak her own voice was.

She needn't have worried about their positions. He was knocked to the side as if struck by a sledgehammer, and pressed into the ground.

Kagome's breath came faster than it ever had in her life. Despite the cold, she was sweating hard. Almost overbalancing and falling over, she got to her feet in a hurry. Precious seconds were slipping by. Her word of subjugation wouldn't hold him long. "Inuyasha," she hissed urgently over him. "Inuyasha, is it you?"

But the face she peered into was still clearly that of a youkai, and he said nothing. Kagome said "Osuwari" again for good measure, and ran.

She was weak, exhausted and in pain, so even giving everything she had, the scenery was going by far too slowly. She tried to recapture the feeling of running free on the track at school, tried to remember she was running for her life and honor, that her shirt was torn open and there was very real danger behind her, but it was all her legs could do not to stumble and fold. It occurred to her that the spell was probably wearing off now, so between pants she hissed "O...su...wa..."

He hit her from behind like a freight train, and they rolled together on the ground. He jammed his fingers in her mouth and pressed her tongue down, and she bit his fingers as hard as she could, terrified that if she gave him any room to work with, he would tear her tongue out. Though she couldn't make any words that way, all the vowels were hers, and she howled for all she was worth, hoping her last hope that someone—be it friend or foe—would come upon them and attack Inuyasha. She would have been happy to see Naraku himself at that moment.

But her screams didn't seem to bother him. He pushed his fingers a little further into her mouth to make her gag, and used that moment of weakness to throw her legs in the air. With his free hand he grabbed both of her loose socks and twisted them in his grasp. She knew she should be able to rip through fabric, but her shoes were nearly in her face, and she had no leverage. That's when she saw that while she had been running from him, he'd untied his hakama before tackling her. He leaned forward and the cloth fell away a little more, revealing the erect penis she'd felt press against her what already felt like a year ago.

No.

Didn't he wear underwear or anything? Kagome wondered. She'd never known that he liked to go commando. Why hadn't she found out, the right way, the good way?

Because he never wanted you that way. Never kissed you, never tried to—

But who was she to judge his lack of proper attire? Why the hell had she thought it was okay to gallivant around in such a tiny, useless skirt that offered no protection whatsoever when her heels were held over her head and...

Because Inuyasha was always there to protect you.

She still didn't believe it was real, that she was here, but oh, she was crying so hard. Because it had all been so obvious, she should have seen it coming, and the reason she didn't was the worst reason of all—she had loved him. She had loved him so much.

He didn't even bother removing her panties. They were that flimsy, not even worthy of being ripped off. They just got pushed to the side. Kagome felt lied to. Dressed in a skirt and panties, she was supposed to be safer than this. She didn't know she could be raped without anything being taken off.

He pressed against her vulva, and she had a fleeting moment of thinking that, unlike other girls, she must lack a vagina, because he pushed and pushed and nothing went in. But then he found it after all, and she screamed in earnest, screamed like she thought she was going to die, because she did. She had something to bite down on—his fingers—and made use of that well. She could taste his blood, but he didn't even seem to feel it.

Then there was just the pain. She thought that having her arm torn off would hurt less, because an arm was only capable of feeling so much, but down there the capacity for sensation was unrivaled, and right now all of it was pain. Her every instinct begged her to escape, to protect herself, but while she screamed and flinched from pain, she knew the struggle was over. She'd always hated the kinds of girls that would just lie there and let bad things happen, swore she'd fight to her final breath, but she knew irrefutably that there was nothing left for her to do.

And she wondered if that was what it meant to be 'broken.'

She would have dearly loved a fade-to-black, where she could lose consciousness and wake up when it was over, but her own cruel resilience kept her awake for the entire ordeal. So, trying desperately to blunt the pain that became more intense with every tearing thrust, she thought of her family. Her little brother...wasn't she still innocent like him? Her mother, oh, she swore in that moment to never tell her, never taint the beautiful thing she had at home with this horror. But would she keep it a secret forever, trying to forget yet always haunted? Could she tell her friends? Would they pity her, or would they feel somehow left behind, still being virgins while she—

How could she not be a virgin? This didn't feel like sex. This didn't feel like when she masturbated, or like what the actors pretend to feel in movies. This was just pain. Agony. Torture.

But for him, apparently, it felt close enough to sex. She felt something rush through him, and for the first time, he was able to slide within her with some degree of ease. She had a fleeting moment where all the fears instilled in her during sex ed came back to her, and she worried about pregnancy or even disease, but then she didn't care, because it was over, and finally the pain wasn't so intense.

His grip on her loosened, and, spent, he pulled out and lay down beside her. Kagome spat out his fingers, (which were, disappointingly, still attached to his hand) and lowered her legs. She put a hand to her genitals, which came away bloody. Her panties had mostly slid back into place, and were getting stained. Every part of her shook, like the last leaf of autumn.

She tried desperately to think of what she should do next, but all she wanted was to take back the events of that morning. Every thought she had consisted of getting back to the way things had been, but she was a poor time-traveler, and didn't know how.

Kagome forced her thoughts to claw over her options. She could tie him up—but with what? Her bra (torn), her knee-highs? What did she have that he couldn't tear through on a whim?

She could osuwari him until his backbone shattered, but...right now he was sleeping. If she did that, he might wake up, and be mad. She'd learned all too recently how weak her word of subjugation really was when he didn't want to be subjugated. And—here terror seized her again—what if it didn't work anymore, because without her virginity she no longer had the powers of a Shinto priestess? The tears came so hard she choked on them. That had been hers, dammit. Her sacred power. She had been special.

Invulnerable.

More pain radiated through her. Even though the pain was no longer at its former blinding intensity, it wasn't about to let her forget what happened.

She could run. But where to? Was there anywhere he couldn't follow her, if he were so inclined? Her scent would betray her. Through the well, then, and find a way to seal it once there. Even accepting that that would mean losing the Sengoku Jidai forever, never seeing Miroku or Sango or Shippou again, (if they were even still alive) and without worrying about how to explain to her family, she knew how hopeless that plan really was. She didn't know which way the well was, and surely it would be days on foot, maybe weeks in the state she was in. Ample time for him to catch her. His speed, now that he was her enemy, was truly terrifying.

How many girls had this happened to before? Why had she not known, not understood, until now?

Stay with him, then? How to defend herself? Everything that she thought kept her safe had proved to not be enough. She wouldn't let him do this to her again. She wouldn't let it become routine. She wasn't about to become the whore of some soulless beast.

Why was there no way out?

There's always a way out.

And suddenly, she wasn't looking for weapons against him, but against herself. Tessaiga's shards were dull, but could she possibly cut her throat with them?

She wasn't ready to accept this. How could she already be okay with dying? She saw herself, looking death in the eye, knowing her options, and just cried uncontrollably. She didn't want to lose her life, but couldn't think of a damn way to save it.

Kagome cried, and did the last thing in the world she thought she could do. She slept.


In the instant consciousness returned to her, the events of that morning flashed through Kagome's mind. Heart pounding, she opened her eyes, and saw Inuyasha looking back at her. "Osuwari!" she shouted, though her poor broken voice cracked on the word.

To her relief, Inuyasha kissed dirt. She still had that power. For one, wild moment, she thought that nightmare might have been just that, a nightmare, and that she might have just sat Inuyasha for the events of a dream. But there was her soreness, and beneath his red robe, (how did that get there?) her shirt was still torn.

Inuyasha began to pick himself up off the ground, but he didn't look angry. His face was normal...in the sense that it had no youkai markings on it, his fangs were more reasonably sized, and his eyes were plain old yellow again. But no, she couldn't call that expression normal after all. He was crying, wasn't he?

He cradled his right hand in his left, and she saw that the bite wounds she had left were not quite healed. So it did hurt, she thought with a sense of pride, quickly tempered with not that it helped you any and yes, but the good Inuyasha has to feel it too.

"Kagome," he said, keeping his voice very, very soft, so as not to let emotion wreak too much havoc on it. "I didn't...I didn't hurt you bad, did I?"

Kagome's heart leapt. "You don't remember?"

"You were holding me. Then I started to fade away. The next thing I remember is...well, in my head, I felt the youkai blood get weak. I woke up next to you, but you were hurt, I think."

Kagome's own eyes filled with tears again looking at him. "No, Inuyasha. You didn't hurt me. You could never hurt me."

He smiled weakly. "You had to fight me off, I guess? Use that word a lot, and bite my hand when I tried to touch you?"

"Yeah." She crept closer to him, amazed that the same body, when possessed by its rightful owner, could still provide such comfort by its nearness.

He threw his arms around her, ignorant of why restraint might have been better. Kagome stiffened for an instant before abandoning herself to the embrace. Part of her was screaming that she didn't want to be touched, but the greater part just needed to be held by loving arms so badly. She knew this was a different man from the one that hurt her. This one was weak.

He needed her protection.

"I was so scared," he confessed to her. "Before I gained control, the youkai part of me...said something to me. It's like every time it gains control, it becomes more of a person, and I become less of one. It said that soon I would join it willingly, because it had hurt the one closest to me, and that she would hate and fear me. That there would be nothing left."

Suddenly, it all made sense to Kagome. The youkai hadn't wanted to hurt her at all. She'd been nothing to it. This was all to hurt Inuyasha. To make him surrender his body.

Her Inuyasha had not been this weak. He had not cried so easily, had not said things so openly. Things were desperate for him. His soul was being devoured. She felt a strong kinship with him: both of them fearing his youkai side; both of their bodies having been violated.

Even she could still smell the semen in the air. Was she to believe that with his nose, he really didn't know?

He held her tightly, and she felt his tears wet against her neck. Denial, perhaps. On some level, she was sure he knew.

Perhaps his embrace felt so safe because there was absolutely nothing sexual about it. She'd been right. Inuyasha loved her, but not that way.

In her mind, she surveyed the many miles back to the well, back to some pretense of safety. But would she take him with her? Her heart ached at the thought of him all alone, his soul devoured and not a single advocate left by his side.

She thought of the choice she had made that day under the Goshinboku. To stay with him. Even if it hurts.

That day in her room, when she'd told him she'd always be by his side. She was no fair-weather friend. He needed her now like he had never needed her before.

Momentary outrage surged in her—was she just going to let this happen again and again, until Inuyasha had no soul left to call his own? Was she that much of a doormat that she wouldn't even do anything if she was raped?

No, she told herself, choice is an illusion here. If he wanted to do that again, there wasn't a thing she could do to stop him. There was no place far enough, no weapon strong enough. That lack of alternatives left her free to do what she believed to be right. And moreover, she wasn't about to let that youkai in Inuyasha win. He could hurt her, but she was stronger. He wasn't going to change her feelings.

Inuyasha tied his robe around her, gently, so gently, so that her chest was covered again. He picked her up and started walking. "If I ever really hurt you," he said without looking at her, "I'd die."

Again, Kagome wondered how much he really knew. He did seem different, unsure of himself, and he stumbled as he walked. Perhaps he really couldn't smell it.

The meaning of this slowly sank in. Osuwari might not be of much help, but now she had stronger words of subjugation. Breathe a word of the truth, and he would die. That youkai would have to think twice before hurting her again. The idea of saying something that could cause Inuyasha to kill himself formerly would have brought her only horror, but now in addition to that, she felt a sense of power and satisfaction.

She would protect him to the last. And if she could not protect him, she would kill him. For his sake, as well as hers. That seemed to be her duty.

If she stayed by Inuyasha's side and fought for him, she might save them both. And even if she was unable to, she was staying just the same. It was a matter of honor.