Disclaimer: Inuyasha and its characters are created by Rumiko Takahashi, not me, but the new plots and the original characters (Akiyama, Katsuo, Natsumi, Shin, Isamu and Moriko) are mine. This fanfiction had been written for entertainment purposes only and without intention of infringing upon any copyright.

Title: A Little Faith Author: elle6778
Rating: T-rated leading to M-rated later
Genre: Romance/Action

A/N: I think I could safely say that this story is AU, and no, this is not related to 'A Simple Legacy'. For those of you who had read 'A Simple Legacy', you will find that this was set up very differently. You will see the scenes switching back and forth between different timelines, in both Sesshoumaru's and Kagome's point of view. As always, I've set out the framework for the entire story, but you'll probably be wondering about a lot of things in the beginning, but it will all become clear towards the end of the story (I hope!). :P Other than that, please enjoy!

A Little Faith by elle6778 - Chapter 1

The atmosphere in the forest could only be described as ominous. Towering trees loomed overhead, blocking the morning sun, casting dark shadows upon the thick foliage. The occasional calls of wild beasts filtered through air, the mere sound was enough to send the more timid beings scurrying for shelter.

Heart pounding at a pace she could hardly believe was possible, Kagome ran frantically, gulping large lungful of air after another. Blood roared in her ears, drowning out everything except the sound of her own heartbeat. She did not even dare to look back to see if the monster was still after her.

The whole thing was like a nightmare she could not wake up from. Heck, it probably was a nightmare. There could not be any other explanation to her current predicament. At least, not one which made sense to a normal fifteen-year-old girl born and bred in Tokyo.

The well had been in the compound of their family shrine since Kami-knows when. There was nothing sinister about it, just an old dried-up well. Right? So when she had gone into the wellhouse earlier to find her missing cat, Buyo, the last thing she had expected was to be dragged in by some centipede monster. With its numerous legs and long body, grossly topped by what looked like a human head, the centipede monster was the stuff of all nightmares.

Immediately, her fear spiked again at the thought of the monster chasing after her, forcing her to redouble her efforts at escaping. Her feet pounded the ground as she scrambled through the unfamiliar forest, her breath leaving her in loud gasps. Trees and scrubs continued to rush past her, tearing at the bare skin exposed below the hemline of her skirt. Alarm coursed through her at the realization that she could not go on running for much longer. But yet, she could not afford to stop. The centipede monster was still behind her.

Was it?

The thought made her pause. Come to think of it, she had not heard anything for a while now. Still on high alert, she cautiously slowed her steps to a stop, listening out for the telltale sounds of snapping twigs or the rustle of leaves.


It was deathly silent.

Kagome let out a sigh of relief as she sagged, realizing that she had finally managed to get away from the monster. She looked down mournfully at the scratches on her limbs. From the way those scratches were stinging, she was quite sure that she was not dreaming, nightmare or not. Whatever this place was, it was as real as her house in Tokyo. But she had not seen a single car, or heard anything that was familiar to her.

Mad as it seemed, she decided that she must have been thrown into completely different world.

Or time.

The question was, how was she supposed to get back to the well? She had been too preoccupied with saving her own ass that she had not even bother to look where she was going. And now she was completely lost. There was nothing but trees around her for miles.

Great going, Kagome. Just great, her inner voice mocked.

She frowned, telling the voice to shut up.

Whatever it was, she could not remain there in the middle of the forest. There was less chance of her getting caught by the monster if she kept moving. Glancing around, she picked a random direction and decided that she might as well start to walk that way. Perhaps she would come across some local people. Then maybe they would help her get back to the well.


Forcing herself to remain optimistic, she lifted her chin and began to walk.

She did not know how long she had walked, but it was growing dark and everything was beginning to look the same. Her eyelids were drooping and her body was sagging in weariness. Much as she wanted to carry on, she knew that it was impossible. She needed a break.

Finding a peaceful spot, a clearing surrounded by tall trees, she sat and leaned back against a cool boulder. She would rest. Just for a while.

Slowly, her eyes drifted shut.

She did not know how long she had slept. All she knew was that when she woke up, she was no longer in the clearing.

Panic instantly set in and she tried to scream, only to find that she was unable to do so. All she could manage was a muffled groan of frustration. Her eyes flicked around nervously as she tried to move. But movement was limited, considering that she was bound and gagged. She did not know how she got herself into these sorts of trouble.

Blinking rapidly to accustom her eyes to the darkness, she studied the wooden walls around her. It looked old and it smelled musty, giving the impression that the place had not been used for a while. She could not see much of her surroundings but she knew that whatever she was sitting on, it was soft and furry. Some sort of rug, maybe. She tried to move her bound legs and found that her heel was scraping something which felt like a dirt floor.

On hindsight, perhaps she should not have slept in the middle of the clearing, leaving herself completely vulnerable to the elements. But she had been too tired to carry on.

A loud scraping sound jarred her out of her contemplation. Then the door slammed open, making her jump. Her eyes shot up and immediately widened at the sight of the other…person. Not that she could see much with the sunlight streaming in behind him. He was merely a dark silhouette to her.

Then he stepped closer, allowing her a better look at his features. In return, he was studying her with a wolfish grin on his face. What unnerved her was the two sharp, gleaming points that protruded slightly out of his mouth. They looked suspiciously like fangs. She could also make out a mass of black hair. Was he yet another monster? He looked suspiciously human for a monster.

A niggling thought came to her. Jii-chan had always told stories about demons and such. She had always dismissed it as fairy tales, but now she was not sure. The centipede monster and this…thing standing in front of her certainly qualified as demons if what her Jii-chan had said was true.

The thing smirked at her.


Kagome's eyes widened further.

Then he nodded to himself. "You'll do," he muttered absently.

Kagome let out a squeak. Unfortunately her gag muffled the effect. She would do for what? What did he have in store for her?

His brow shot up. "Oh, you want to speak?"

She quickly nodded.

He stepped closer and she shrank back involuntarily. His features became clearer. There was a headband holding his fringe away from his face and his ears were pointed at the tips. To her surprise, she found him actually quite pleasant to look at, if she ignored all his non-human features.

His blue eyes widened slightly as he stared at her, making her feel acutely uncomfortable. "You look even better close up. Hakkaku didn't tell me that you're this pretty."

She gasped as he peeled her gag off.

"Who are you?" she immediately asked.

"Ah. I'm Kouga, the prince of the Eastern Wolf Tribe," he replied proudly. Then he grasped her chin and moved her head side to side, inspecting her. A speculative gleam entered his eyes. "Hmm…perhaps I should keep you."

"WHAT?" she exclaimed in horror. "What do you mean? You can't keep me! I've got to go home. I don't belong here."

He shook his head. "No, I suppose you don't," he remarked thoughtfully as he eyed her clothes. "What's your name?"

"Uh…Kagome," she replied weakly, unsure how else she should respond. The demon, for she was sure now that he was a demon, was strangely unthreatening, if she discounted the fact that she was all trussed up like a chicken.

He nodded. "Well, Kagome. Much as I'd like to stay here longer, we have to prepare for departure."

"You're not going to let me go?" she asked shakily, her alarm growing to mammoth proportions.

Where was he taking her and for what purpose? Every sinister scenario began to flash past her mind. Was he going to kill her as some sacrifice? Was he going to eat her? Her eyes widened. Or perhaps he was going to ravage her? Her fear grew at the thought.

"NO!" she yelled at the top of her lungs, desperately struggling against her bonds. "You let me go, you hear me?!" she demanded.

Startled, the demon, Kouga just stared at her unblinkingly for a moment. Then he smirked. "Now, there's no need for that. I'm bringing you somewhere…nice."

Nice? She glared at him distrustfully.

"Here," he said, tossing a bundle beside her and pointed at it. "I'm going to untie you and I want you to dress in that."

She eyed the furry bundle apprehensively. Then she lifted her chin stubbornly. "I'm not doing anything you say."

His eyes gleamed. "Or I could dress you myself," he threatened as he moved closer.

Her fear spiked. There was no mistaking the intent behind his actions. "NO! Wait! I can do it myself," she quickly said.

With a satisfied nod, he lowered himself to his knees. Kagome kept her watchful eyes on him as he unbound her wrists and ankles. When she was finally free, she jumped up to her feet and rubbed her sore wrists. Her eyes immediately darted to the doorway.

"Don't even think of it," Kouga warned.

Kagome felt like sulking. Instead, she turned around to glare at the demon. He pointed at the bundle and raised a brow. Then, without another word, he walked out, closing the door behind him.

She picked up the bundle and shook it out, frowning as she did so. It looked like a short, sleeveless dress made out of fur with matching fur leggings. Sighing in resignation, she removed her school uniform and began to struggle into the unfamiliar clothes. At least all that fur would keep her warm, she thought dryly.

Once she was sure that she had managed to secure all the ties, she walked to the door and shoved it open. She blinked as the bright sunlight hit her face, noting absently that she was still in the forest. Then her gaze landed on Kouga and another unfamiliar person.

The second person was watching her intently, curiously without any expression on his face. What caught her attention was his bright blue wavy hair and something which looked like a drop of water suspended in the middle of his forehead. That could not be real, she thought to herself. But then again, a lot of things did not seem real.

Kouga turned to the other person. "Is she satisfactory, Lord Akiyama?"

The one called Akiyama nodded. "Yes."

Kagome glowered. What was she? An object? So what if one of them was a prince and the other one a lord? It did not mean that they could kidnap her. She decided that it was time to make them see sense. "Hey, listen you two. I don't know what you're up to but you need to let me go. I don't belong here."

Stepping closer to her, Akiyama gave her a small smile. "You need not worry. Be assured that you will not be harmed. Now, rest."

Before she could retort, Kagome found herself surrounded by a fine blue mist and then everything went black.

The annoying jangling of the alarm clock rang through the room, jolting Kagome out of her restless sleep. Groaning, she turned around in her bed and buried her face into her soft pillow. She immediately decided that it was too early to wake up. The birds outside were still chirping, for Kami's sakes.

Not to mention she was having that dream again. With such a weird dream, how could she even sleep peacefully? She frowned into her pillow. Being chased by monsters in her dream was definitely not conducive to a good night's sleep.



An even louder groan escaped her lips when the loud yells reached her. "Go away," she mumbled, her eyes remaining firmly shut. Just a few more minutes of sleep, that was all she was asking for.

A loud bang sounded and Kagome cracked her eyes open just in time to see two figures barreling into her room, the taller form behind the smaller one. Her eyes shot open fully the moment she took an impact to her stomach, courtesy of a small, but strong form.

A stricken pair of golden eyes locked onto hers in a plea for help as another body landed on top of her. Kagome's eyes bulged as she coughed at the additional impact. The two boys continued to wrestle with complete disregard to the fact that she was probably sustaining permanent injury to her mistreated body.

"Get off me, the two of you!" she choked out as she tried to push them off. "It's way too early for this!"

The smaller boy squealed in laughter as the older one tickled him mercilessly. "Do you surrender, Sachimaru?"

"Souta! Let him go," Kagome admonished irritably. "You're already thirteen years old and you're still picking on Sachimaru."

Sachimaru shot up onto his feet, wobbling a little on the bed before he managed to steady himself. Pausing, he flicked his silver hair out of his eyes. Then he declared proudly, "I'm six and I can handle Souta!" Turning to Souta, he declared imperiously, "No. I will not surrender!"

Kagome felt a smile tickling her lips. Sachimaru never failed to amuse her with his antics.

She still remembered the first day they met.

Due to an accident she could not remember, she had been in a coma for close to two years. Apparently, she had collapsed near the well just after her fifteenth birthday. Later, her mother had told her that no one could figure out what had happened. The doctors had run test after test with no conclusive result. Finally, her distraught mother had brought her back to be cared at home.

Then one day, about two years after the incident, she had woken up on her own. Everyone had been surprised. She still remembered how her mother had cried in relief for days. The strange thing was, she had felt so confused because apart from looking a little older and decorated with various puncture wounds all over her body from the tests, she had not felt any different.

It had only taken one day in bed for her to grow tired of all the coddling. Feeling restless, she had insisted on taking a walk. Ignoring the loud protests from her family, she had ventured out into the shrine grounds. Her aimless wandering had brought her to the old well-house.

That had been the first time she laid eyes on Sachimaru.

The little boy, supposedly three at that time, had been huddled, shivering by the side of the well-house. Dressed in what appeared to be an odd white kimono, he had been a sorry sight. Concerned, she had rushed over and picked him up.

The boy had no recollection of anything apart from his own name.

After she had brought him home with her, she and her family had set out on a search for his parents. The authorities had been informed, but they allowed Sachimaru to remain at the shrine-keeper's home while attempts were made to locate his parents. However, the extensive searches had turned up nothing. A year had passed before they finally gave up.

Kagome smiled.

It was just as well. Because by then, she had grown so attached to Sachimaru that she did not think that she would survive it if he had left her. So the moment she turned eighteen, she had adopted the little boy. He filled a void in her life, one caused by the two missing years. Although her high school friends had visited during her coma, so her mother told her, they had since moved on with their lives.

Two years had passed since the adoption and with each passing day, she had not regretted doing so. Even if it meant that she had to juggle the care of her adopted son with her part-time studies and work.


A pair of golden eyes peered at her curiously. Grinning, Kagome ruffled her adopted son's hair and swung her legs out of bed. Glancing at her clock, she let out a sigh of relief. At least she was not going to be late for work today. Even if it was her last day at the departmental store.

"Out, the two of you. I'm getting dressed for work," she said as she bent down to kiss Sachimaru on his forehead, just over the little crescent moon scar on his forehead. "I'll see you downstairs for breakfast. And Souta, you're going to be late for school."

Nodding happily, Sachimaru left the room behind a grumbling Souta.

As Kagome passed her dresser, an object caught her attention, making her smile. The black chain with the circular silver pendant had been broken by an overzealous Sachimaru about a month ago, but she still kept it. Apart from Sachimaru's old kimono, it was the only thing that the boy possessed when she had found him. It occurred to her that he might want it back in the future.

A glance at the clock cut her musings short, reminding her that she should move before she was really late. With that, she grabbed her clothes and dashed to the bathroom.

The gravel crunched loudly beneath the wheels of the sleek Porsche as the vehicle pulled into the driveway. At the end of the tree-lined path, a stone-walled mansion graced the centre of a sprawling compound.

Sesshoumaru stepped out of his car and immediately headed for the entrance to his current dwelling. The mansion had been purchased a year ago when he returned to Japan from the United States. He would have preferred to return to his ancestral home in what used to be known as the Western Lands, but now better known as Kyoto. However, that was not possible for the time being.

He dropped his keys on the table beside the entrance as he stepped into his home. Almost immediately, the sound of pattering footsteps reached him.

"Lord Sesshoumaru!"

Wordlessly, he turned to face his old retainer. The toad youkai was breathless by the time he traversed the hallway of the mansion, his conduct and appearance still unchanged over the years.

"Inuyasha-sama was home. A-And he brought…" Jaken faltered uncertainly.

Sesshoumaru grimaced. Jaken did not need to finish the sentence. Inuyasha must have brought another one of his playthings to the mansion. It seemed that it was about time they had another conversation about privacy. Perhaps this time, Inuyasha would benefit from a physical reminder. Anticipation filled Sesshoumaru at the notion of beating his hanyou brother senseless.

"Do not concern yourself, Jaken. I will speak to him."

Jaken looked relieved.

As his retainer bowed and departed, Sesshoumaru climbed up the wide central staircase. Making his way to his room, he allowed himself to mull over the memory of his past. It was odd that such a mundane event had surfaced in his dream last night. The dream had comprised of him agreeing upon a treaty. That particular session had been one of many that had taken place with the Northern Lord. There was nothing peculiar about it and therefore, he was rather puzzled that he had dreamt of it. What puzzled him further was the fact that he could not recall much of what had happened after the treaty.

However, it mattered not.

The world had progressed far since then. But what else did one expect after five hundred years or so?

As the human race progressed and its population grew, it had become increasingly necessary for demons to keep a low profile. Especially when the humans' fear of the unknown had resulted in demons being hunted down and killed in one after another. Four hundred years ago, the situation had escalated to such a point that demons were forced to travel in groups to ensure their safety. It had been a pitiful sight.

Fortunately, many demons were still present this day, albeit in human forms. Hidden behind various concealing spells, the majority of them were able to safely integrate into the human society. Those such as Jaken and Ah-Un, who did not possessed the power to maintain the concealing spell for more than a day or so, spent most of their lives hidden away in guarded homes and a number of private islands scattered around the world.

With the newfound peace, demons were able to live a relatively normal, albeit somewhat restricted life. Their numbers had grown again, but each birth was carefully recorded to ensure that provisions were made for their safety. Although the years had mellowed away the antagonism towards humans, many demons were still wary of them. And to the humans, demons were merely legends.

Not for the first time, Sesshoumaru's lips tightened at the thought. It irked him that his species had been reduced to nothing but fairy tales and legends. A part of him wanted to lash out, to demand that demons were recognized as they were. However, he knew that for the sake of survival, such a thing was not advisable.

Stepping into his bathroom, Sesshoumaru shut the door behind him and stood facing his reflection in the mirror. Safe in his own home and certain that any visitors would not be able to gain entry without passing the security gates, he allowed the concealing spell to dissolve. Slowly, his golden eyes not leaving his reflection, he watched as the magenta stripes on his cheeks reappeared, followed by the crescent moon on his forehead and lastly, the elongation of his fangs. His ears were one of the features which he did not bother to conceal, seeing that many others also neglected to do so as it was something which was not deemed unacceptable.

Turning away from the mirror, he commenced his nightly cleansing ritual. It had been a long day at work and all he wanted to do was to remove all the pollutants from his person so that he could rest.

He had returned to Japan a year ago, carrying the identity of a descendant of the founder of Taishou Securities. His lips quirked. The company had taken root centuries ago when he had decided that for the survival of their species, the demons needed to integrate into the human population.

It had started off slowly, with a group of his inuyoukai warriors disguising themselves as human warriors, hiring out their skills to any humans with the means to pay. Soon enough, the venture grew. However, demons lived much longer than humans and did not age visibly, therefore it had become necessary to replace the original group of warriors with a fresh batch every thirty years or so. Eventually, the process had fallen into a pattern and each group was known as 'rotations'.

In the meantime, he had also founded several others ventures to keep the rest of the inuyoukais in employment. Soon, other demons had decided to join him. When the word spread, other more ambitious demons had decided adopt a similar approach to ensure their survival, creating their own companies.

He smirked as he stepped out of the bathroom. However, none of them could match the wealth of Taishou Holdings, which presided over a great number of subsidiary companies worldwide. One of the being Taishou Securities where he was currently based. He rarely took part in fieldwork, unless there was a particularly complicated task which required his attention. It was only then that he utilized his heightened senses and powers to complete the task.

He had undertaken such task this very day.

The call had arrived from one of his underlings, an inuyoukai called Shin. Shin's assignment, a high-level security watch over a research laboratory had taken an unexpected turn when some unknown poison was released into the ventilation duct.

Fortunately, zipping through the sky at a speed not visible to human eyes, Sesshoumaru had been able to arrive in time to prevent the facility from being compromised. The human intruders had been knocked unconscious before they even laid eyes on their assailant.

To Sesshoumaru's surprise, he had found that Shin was considerably weakened by the poison. What concerned Sesshoumaru the most was the nature of the poison itself. It had been strong enough to affect Shin to the extent that the inuyoukai had been barely conscious when Sesshoumaru had arrived at the scene. As a demon, although he did not possess full immunity to poisons, Shin should have been able to resist the effect much longer than the human researchers. Sesshoumaru had then called Tsukuyo Medical to send a demon paramedic to treat Shin before he proceeded to restrain the intruders.

The intruders were now in one of the holding cells in headquarters, awaiting the arrival of those in charge of the research laboratory. There was no doubt that they would be questioned extensively, both by Taishou Securities and the owners of the research laboratory.

Brushing away the thoughts of the event, Sesshoumaru proceeded to don his yukata. Then he glanced at the door, deliberating whether he should consume food before he retired. Finally, he decided that it was not necessary. The bed appealed to him more.

Settling down on the cool sheets, Sesshoumaru relaxed and closed his eyes. Soon, his subconscious wandered into the realm of dreams.

The flames in the recessed fire pit burned merrily, illuminating the sparsely decorated chamber. Bamboo lined two walls while a shoji screen formed the remaining sides, enclosing a low table to one end and shelves of bound parchment at the other end. The chamber was peacefully silent until a series of respectful taps filtered through the shoji screen.

A small frown of displeasure creased Sesshoumaru's brows as he looked up from low table in front of him. He glanced down at the scroll he had not finished and then back at the door, briefly deliberating if he should send his unwanted visitor away.

Sighing in resignation before he recomposed his expression into its usual mild disinterest, he called out, "Enter, Jaken."

The door opened to reveal a diminutive demon. "Lord Sesshoumaru!" he greeted with a bow.

"What is it, Jaken? This Sesshoumaru specifically demanded no disturbance."

His retainer shifted nervously. "Um, I'm sorry, Lord Sesshoumaru. But this cannot wait."

Sesshoumaru raised a questioning brow.

"The Prince of the Eastern Wolf Tribe is here," Jaken explained.

"Kouga?" Sesshoumaru asked, wondering what the wolf was there for.

The only thing which came to mind was that Kouga had arrived to discuss the treaty between the Western Lands and the Northern Isles. The wolf prince was a close ally of the new Northern Lord, who had recently conquered the isles from another youkai. In the interest of keeping the peace, and to declare that he had no intention of expanding his hold, the new Northern Lord had called for the formation of a new treaty between the two.

Perhaps Kouga was here to seal their agreement with a gift customary to these sorts of agreement. Sesshoumaru grimaced. He just hoped that he would not be presented with a pile of pelts. The last thing he wanted was the stench of dead beasts in his dwelling. But he knew that whatever the gift was, he could not turn it down without insulting the wolf, and thus, the Northern Lord.

Sesshoumaru unfolded his legs gracefully and stood up. Jaken followed close behind as he made his way to the reception hall. As he passed an open screen, he noted that the sun was already setting. A small growl of irritation rose from his throat before he could suppress it. Would he never have any peace? Why was it that others always insisted on an audience with him at such a disrespectful hour?

Jaken was toddling away in front of him, oblivious to his unpleasant thoughts. For a moment, Sesshoumaru considered kicking the small demon to relieve his frustration at yet another disturbed evening. But then again, he knew that the relief would be short-lived, hardly worth the effort.

Brushing away his irritation, he passed a few more empty chambers before he reached his destination. Jaken slid the shoji screen open and then stood back, bowing respectfully. Sesshoumaru stepped into the bamboo lined room to find the fur-covered wolf prince sitting to one side of the centrally placed fire-pit. The low fire flickered, casting dancing shadows on the wall.

Sesshoumaru looked around warily. It was odd, but he was certain that he could smell the scent of a human somewhere nearby. It was not an intolerable scent. In fact, it was somewhat pleasant. That in itself was astonishing.

"Lord Sesshoumaru," Kouga greeted as he stood up.

Nodding his acknowledgement, Sesshoumaru replied, "Prince Kouga. What brings you to the Western Lands?" The scent of the human increased as he neared Kouga. It was obvious that the wolf was the source of the scent. Curious.

"It is regarding the treaty," Kouga explained. "I am here on behalf of Lord Akiyama."

Sesshoumaru refrained from growling. It was as he had thought. This treaty with the Northern Lord appeared to be more of a nuisance than it was worth. Especially considering that the Akiyama did not even have the courtesy of presenting himself. Instead, the elemental demon had the audacity to send the wolf in his place. The subtle disrespect irked him.

Gesturing for the wolf prince to sit, Sesshoumaru lowered himself onto the tatami. "The Northern Lord has concerns regarding the treaty?" he asked coldly.

Shaking his head, Kouga held his hands up quickly. "No. Lord Akiyama is pleased with the terms. I'm simply here to finalize it with a gift."

Sesshoumaru sighed inwardly. No doubt Kouga was about to present him with a pile of fur pelt. Perhaps he should just give them away to his guards. No, that would simply mean that the pelts would remain in his compound. Perhaps he should give them to the villagers. Yes, the villagers could certainly put the fur to good use.

"Lord Sesshoumaru?"

Evidently, he had been silent for too long, Sesshoumaru thought wryly. He inclined his head. "You may present your gift, Prince Kouga."

Brightening visibly, Kouga stood up and whistled. The shoji screen at the other end of the room immediately slid open to admit two of Kouga's companions. Hakkaku and Ginta, he believed the wolf demons were called. They appeared to be struggling with something between them.

Sesshoumaru's eyes narrowed when its scent hit him fully. There was an unconscious human wench carried between the two wolves. So that was the human he had sensed earlier.

At that very instant, Kouga's words came to mind.

The human wench was his gift?

Sesshoumaru gritted his teeth. How dare they insult him in such a manner?

"Lord Sesshoumaru, please accept this gift to seal our agreement," Kouga said, bowing formally as dictated by court protocol.

Sesshoumaru simply stared wordlessly at the fur-wrapped bundle which was now placed on the floor in front of him. With all that fur, he could not even make out what the human looked alike. For all he knew, she could be hideously deformed. Not that he cared one way or another. He did not want or need a human wench anywhere near him. But he knew that he could hardly reject the Northern Lord's gift because if he did, their treaty would be instantly dissolved. The dissolution of the treaty would mean nothing but chaos for both of them. And the last thing Sesshoumaru needed was more disruption to his peace.

The silence dragged on and still, Sesshoumaru could not find the appropriate response to this unexpectedness.

"Lord Sesshoumaru?" Kouga prompted. His tone contained a hint of uncertainty. "You are not pleased with your gift? I assure you, the wench is comely."

Sesshoumaru wanted to lash out at the wolf for his impertinence. Tamping down his reaction, he simply nodded. "Hn," he grunted noncommittally.

Kouga added hurriedly, "Your father had a comely hime for a concubine. We simply assumed that you would enjoy the company of one too."

They assumed? Sesshoumaru bit back a growl. Although he tolerated humans, he did not seek them for amusement as his father had once done.

"Perhaps it would be wiser if you do not make such assumptions in the future," Sesshoumaru intoned curtly.

The wolf prince's eyes widened before he exchanged an uncomfortable look with the two other wolves. Sesshoumaru knew that the Northern Lord would no doubt hear of this, but at the moment, he simply did not care what the water elemental thought. What possessed Akiyama to do something like this?

Then Sesshoumaru's lips tightened as something occurred to him. Perhaps this was a deliberate act on the Northern Lord's part, knowing that such a gesture would incense him. He would not put it past the devious demon.

A quick glance at the wolf prince told him that his visitor was getting progressively edgy. Much as he hated the thought of it, Sesshoumaru knew that there was only one thing he could say.

"Your gift is accepted, Prince Kouga," he said stiffly.

The three wolves in front of him let out a collective sigh of relief.

Sesshoumaru allowed himself to glower inwardly.


A/N: So that's the introduction to my new story - I'm a little nervous about it because it's a little different this time. Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed reading it. Please review and let me know your thoughts on it. As always, your comments will be greatly appreciated.