AN: Even though it's July, I felt a little Halloween-y.

Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha.


Wicked Men

One-Shot


Kagome walked up the marble steps slowly, as if on a funeral march. For a supposedly haunted bookstore, they weren't cheap!

From afar the tacky structure looked worn down with age and weather. It was small, shabby and out of place. And the rumors that surrounded its history were worse: murders, affairs, and some sort of suicide pact… It was well-known as a gathering place for the occult.

So why was Kagome, a polite, respectable and average schoolgirl, entering such a disreputable edifice?

A rusted bell tolled as she pushed the oak door open.

The smell of calligraphy ink hit her with full force. Shelves upon shelves of small, large, old, new, torn and taped books hang off the wooden walls, lit by numerous tiny lamps that flickered when Kagome entered, resembling still fireflies in a quiet field. It was…quaint. Kagome looked around—there were a few people scattered about. One looked like a college student, another was an elderly woman, and a short, balding man in a purple cape passed her.

She had a feeling this may very well be Harry Potter's "crib."

"Welcome." A very quiet, yet very demanding voice spoke.

Kagome turned to the register. Beside it a woman in glasses was leaning over what looked like a brush and an open scroll. So that's why she smelled ink…

Why am I here?

Kagome began perusing through the shelves, finding the place more and more like a maze as she searched deeper and deeper. Why was she doing this? There was no reason for her decision. She was a teen and she had urges. She was simply satisfying her curiosity. Doubt, however, began to cloud her mind. Then her footsteps faltered and she grabbed for a shelf, just in case her knees decided to give out.

Her fingers brushed smooth velvet. Kagome looked up and saw a bright red book. For a fleeting second she thought of Number 23. Hmm. She hadn't liked the movie.

Kagome brushed that out of her head and pulled the strange book off the shelf. Even with the thick dust that covered the cover and spine it was blindingly red. The bindings were surprisingly strong and reinforced. It was thick and strangely light, almost like a feather. Kagome felt a chill run down her spine. Should she?

Why not?

She looked around. How long had she been here? She had a feeling everyone else had already left. Kagome retraced her steps and after ten minutes found herself in front of the register. She set the unopened book down on the countertop and pulled out her wallet. It couldn't be that expensive, could it?

The woman in glasses dipped her brush in the ink bottle, which looked distinctly European and out of place, and eyed the book on the counter. Her rosy red lips parted ever so slightly and she sharply looked up to examine the purchaser. Kagome refrained from gasping; the woman had blood-red eyes but no pupils.

"I take it," the woman reached for one of the feathers in her bun, "this wasn't a planned visit?"

Kagome hesitated. Then she shook her head.

The feather turned out to be a pen. The woman turned the book and opened the cover. She quickly scribbled something on the side and just as quickly closed and turned the book to Kagome. "Take it."

Kagome nearly dropped her wallet. "But I didn't pay—"

The woman gave a humorless smile. "I'll give it to you if you promise something."

"Promise?"

"Think…really think about it before you start reading."

Kagome blinked but nodded nonetheless. She gingerly took the book from the counter and said a quick "Thanks" before turning to the door. She did not notice the pair of golden orbs follow her movements from the shadowed corner. The door opened and closed. There was a sigh and the eyes moved to the figure beside the register.

"Kagura."

The woman simply ignored him and tucked the feather back in her bun. She picked up her brush.

A silver-haired man stepped out of the shadows, dressed in a regal suit of exquisite white with a large boa-like object slung over one shoulder. If Kagura wasn't used to his frequent visits her eyes would've been overwhelmed by his appearance. After all, he could put a snow white unicorn to shame. As it was, Kagura continued to ignore him.

"What did you write down in the book?"

The brushstrokes abruptly stopped. She slowly looked the man in the eyes and said, "A warning." She went back to her calligraphy, knowing he was still watching her, studying her.

Finding the silence unnerving, and knowing he was waiting for more, she growled, "I made it as ambiguous as possible."

He stepped forward, towering behind her. "Did you not agree to abide by the terms?"

"I didn't violate it!" She hissed, slamming her hands on the counter and barely slamming her head as well. "I warned her so she can," she stopped, trying to catch her breath. "So she can understand… Understand this chain. This thing that binds me to the book, to this place, to this servitude, to this wretched fate and—"

"To me."

She whirled around.

He was gone.


It had been a week since she had visited the strange little bookstore. Kagome went to school, hang out with Eri, Yuka, and Ayumi, studied with Hojo, and did her chores like a good little daughter.

But the book never left her mind.

The book sat on her desktop, untouched and still collecting more dust. More than once she had caught Souta and Buyo staring at it as if mesmerized, almost hypnotized by the red cover. Kagome would shoo them away, but she knew they couldn't help it. Every time her eyes wandered to her desk an intense fire engulfed her chest. Kagome began avoiding her room altogether, sometimes sleeping on the couch "for Buyo's sake," or so she told her mom.

Then came the day when the fire started.

It was a flurry of activities. The phone rang and rang—where's Souta? Grandpa? Hospital? Where are you mom? A fire? Where? A fire IN the hospital? How, when, why? Kagome kept calling and calling but she didn't get any answers. She stayed home the next day to hear from two police officers—chemical fire. Not in the hospital but near the hospital Grandpa was getting his checkup. However, there was a fire IN Souta's school. Mom was busy making sure everyone was all right and comfortable in a private hospital an hour away from the shrine.

Kagome was home alone.

With the book.

Kagome spent the afternoon watching daytime soap opera and eating ramen. Her legs refused to climb the stairs and she didn't fight it. She tried to fall asleep. The fire in her chest roared like a dragon. She breathed slowly, leaned back on the couch and listened.

Silence.

"Think…"

"Dammit!" Kagome hissed and sat up. Didn't the woman know? Saying something like that to a teen would peak their curiosity a mile high! Kagome stood up and paced around the coffee table. Buyo purred from the corner, unmoving and almost agitated in his sleep. Kagome sat back down.

Why am I so anxious?

The sunset colored the blinds bright red. Kagome shielded her eyes. She couldn't understand her obsession, her need for…

OK. Now this was officially sounding dirty.

"Really think about it before you start reading."

"FINE!" Kagome caved. She looked at the ceiling and raised her arms. "YOU WIN!" Kagome stood up and stomped to the stairs. She stormed to her room and slammed the door open, which ricocheted against the wall.

Maybe Kagome was imagining it, or maybe Kagome was finally losing it, but the book seemed to glow. It radiated heat and made the room…wavy? Kagome felt a little dizzy. Maybe the gas line was broken…

Kagome stood before her table. She fingered the velvety spine and she shuddered. Was it so bad? Was it so awful to read a seemingly innocent book? Kagome sat down and laid her hands down on either side of the book. Kagome closed her eyes. She was thinking.

Her chest burned.

Kagome opened her eyes and opened the cover.

Beware all but the wicked men,

Beware not their dark desire.

Fate will lie again and again,

Fate knows not the chains of fire.

Kagome stared. The woman had written nonsense. Below the strange little poem were two more words, but faded and hardly visible.

FOUR SOULS

So this untitled thing had a name. Four—it had to be the death number. Kagome sighed. It was just superstition, wasn't it? She flipped the pages. There were four chapters. Go figure.

She began reading.


Kagome didn't know when she fell asleep. She just woke up to find her face buried in the pages of the book. Kagome sat up and rubbed her neck. How strange. She remembered reading the whole book from start to finish, but she didn't remember turning the lights off. She rubbed her eyes and felt a sense of peace staring at the full moon outside her window.

Kagome stood up and stretched. Someone chuckled.

"AAAHHH!" Kagome cried and stumbled to the other side of her room. Two golden orbs were floating by the corner of her room, hiding from the moonlight that streamed into her room.

"Now, now," a mirthful, male voice said. "There's no need for fear."

"W-who," Kagome licked her lips and her eyes flared. "GET OUT!" She grabbed for the nearest thing and held it beside her head. It was a baseball bat. (Thank YOU Souta!)

"Fire in your eyes." The eyes widened in glee. "Dragon's eyes." The eyes closed and for a second he disappeared. Then one foot stepped out of the shadows and a clear figure finally emerged from the corner. A man in red suit and black gloves appeared before her. His top hat hid half his face, but she could just see his smirk and his pointed chin. Despite the long silver hair she had a feeling he was around her age.

He removed one gloved hand from the polished cane and reached for his hat. One brow shot up and Kagome stared as his head and whole face were exposed. Dog…ears?

"Who," Kagome paused again. "WHAT are you?"

He eyed her and smiled. "Now that is a smart question." He stepped forward and happily twirled his cane, letting his eyes rove all over her body before settling back to her face. "I am the deliverer of death."

Kagome stared. "…uh…like the Grim Reaper?"

"Not quite. I suppose you can say I am one half of," he smiled and showed two canine fangs, "the Devil."

She blanched, nearly dropping the bat. "What?" She tried to find her voice but nothing came out. Perhaps she should approach this differently. "How did you get in?" She was sure all the doors and windows were closed and locked.

"For shame!" He shook his head in mock disappointment. "How could you not have noticed? You," he pointed his cane accusingly at Kagome, "brought me home from the bookstore."

Now Kagome was lost. "That's not…"

"Of course you resisted me for a while. Why, that Kagura girl gave in after one sunset! Then again my brother is a bit…intense." He grinned. "Haven't you felt it? That yearning in your chest, those flames of want and need?"

She had. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"Don't lie to me." His cheerful attitude dropped and Kagome did not like how the room suddenly lost its warmth. "I am connected to you, Kagome. Now drop your weapon and come here."

Kagome scowled and backed away. But her hands dropped the baseball bat.

"Well, one of the two is a progress." He lazily knocked the bat away with his cane. Kagome stepped back against the wall and screwed her eyes shut. One finger traced circles on her left cheek. The deliverer of death leaned forward and huskily said, "You summoned me, my pet. You are bound to servitude. Let it—"

"NO!"

Kagome slapped his hand away and pushed past him to the door. She ran to the stairs and jumped five steps from the floor. She fell on one knee but swiftly got back up and turned to the door—

—only to run straight into a warm and soft wall. Two arms snaked around her waist and her legs became heavy as stone. She felt the cane rub her shin.

"Your body's already given in." He whispered in her ear. "You cannot deny me. The fact that I'm here proves I've already won."

No, no, no.

"You are being quite unreasonable, my sweet." He pressed her against him, making sure she understood his control over the situation. He ungloved one hand and dropped both cane and glove on the floor. Kagome felt him run one clawed finger down her neck, past her shoulders and settle on the strapping of her bra beneath her shirt.

"Stop," she hissed, but her voice refused to work after that. He crushed his lips on hers and forced his tongue into her mouth. Kagome began to cry, tears that burned running down her cheeks. The deliverer of death licked the tears away, slowly and sweetly.

"Accept it," he said. "And it will be pleasing. It will be enjoyable."

Let the chain bind in burning desire.

Kagome suddenly lost herself in the heat, passion and longing. Her mind went blank. It was a quiet acceptance.

Like Kagura before…

This cycle cannot be stopped.

And the one after…


She set the unopened book down on the countertop and pulled out her wallet. It couldn't be that expensive, could it?

The woman in glasses dipped her brush in the ink bottle, which looked distinctly European and out of place, and eyed the book on the counter. Her rosy red lips parted ever so slightly and she sharply looked up to examine the purchaser.

"I take it," the woman reached for the small pen stuck behind her ear, "this wasn't a planned visit?"

Sango hesitated. Then she shook her head.

The woman turned the book and opened the cover. She quickly scribbled something on the side and just as quickly closed and turned the book to Sango. "Take it."

Sango nearly dropped her wallet. "But I didn't pay—"

The woman gave a humorless smile. "I'll give it to you if you promise something."

"Promise?"

"Really think about it before you start reading."

Sango blinked but nodded nonetheless. She gingerly took the book from the counter and said a quick "Thank you" before turning to the door. She did not notice the pair of golden orbs follow her movements from the shadowed corner. The door opened and closed. There was a sigh and the eyes moved to the figure beside the register.

"Kagome."

The woman simply ignored him and tucked the pen back behind her ear. She picked up her brush.

A silver-haired man stepped out of the shadows, dressed in a regal suit of bright red with a cane under two gloved hands. If Kagome wasn't used to his frequent visits her eyes would've been overwhelmed by his appearance. After all, he could put the fire of Hades to shame. As it was, Kagome continued to ignore him.

"What did you write down in the book?"

The brushstrokes abruptly stopped. She slowly looked the man in the eyes and said, "A warning." She went back to her calligraphy, knowing he was still watching her, studying her.

Finding the silence unnerving, and knowing he was waiting for more, she growled, "Men are men…and fate is incompetent."

He stepped forward, towering behind her. "Have you ever heard of ambiguity?"

"Shut up!" She hissed, slamming her hands on the counter. "I warned her," she stopped, trying to catch her breath. "I warned her about this chain. This thing that binds me to the book, to this place, to this servitude, to this wretched fate and…to you."

Two arms snaked around her waist from behind. "And we shall forever be chained." He kissed her lightly on the nape of her neck and stepped back.

She whirled around.

He was gone.


AN: Is it really the end? …yes. Yes it is.