Disclaimer:I don't own Inuyasha and "The prince and the pauper" was written by Mark Twain (as most of you should already know) and definitely not by me. I also don't own Knives, or any other Trigun character I may use.

I do own the plot inconsistencies, short lived OC's that don't even have names and non-canon behavior.

The Princess and the Pauper

Kagome used to live a peaceful life in a quiet little village, not too close to the castle to be crowded and not too far to be isolated. The people there were kind and warm and she grew up mostly sheltered from the hardships of life.

Until that day...She was no more than five at the time.

Her father had burst into their little cottage with a desperate expression.

"Bandits!" he yelled and her mother's eyes widened with fear.

"It's too many of them, the village is surrounded!" he continued, turning too look outside.

"Kagome!" her mother cried, taking her into her arms.

The little girl looked at her puzzled, not understanding why tears ran down her mother's cheeks.

"Hide her! Quickly!" she heard her father's voice.

"Kagome, get under the bed and don't make a sound, no matter what!" her mother said, trying to seem calm, but her voice trembled.

She complied and sat there, mute, watching her parent's feet. Not long after, more pairs of feet appeared before her eyes and she heard laughter.

A metallic sound followed and something heavy fell to the floor. The many pairs of feet obstructed her eyesight, but the sound she heard next chilled her to the bone. It was her mother's cry, accompanied by the same sound of something hitting the floor. This time, she got a glimpse of her mother's body, her eyes staring directly at her as blood ran down her face. And she couldn't keep quiet, like she had been asked. The scream that came out of her was filled with fear and pain and she couldn't even feel the rough hands of the men pulling her out. She saw her father lying on the floor next to her mother, in a pool of blood. Her vision blurred and she heard the mean laughter and voices fade, like in a dream.

"We could use this one."

"Aye, she'd be worth somethin'..."

Everything went dark.

She still remembered glimpses of what happened that day, but the worst parts were hidden in the deepest corners of her mind. She had been soled to another gang of rogue thieves and she never again saw the men that killed her parents.

She didn't have to do much, but catch fish, fry them, bring water and take care of the horses, while the thieves did the dirty work. An old man, too old to ride with them, kept her company and despite having been a thief, he was cultivated and kind. She learned how to read and write from him and as the years flew by, she forgot about what happened in the past.

The thieves weren't all mean and the only one she truly detested was their leader, since he had hit her a couple of times as she tried to protect the old man from his anger. They called him Knives, but no one knew his real name.

This life had few ups and lots of downs, but Kagome had gotten used to it and didn't imagine something better could be out there somewhere. She'd also gotten attached to the old man and couldn't even think about leaving him to deal with Knives alone.

The day she turned sixteen, however, things started to change. She saw Knives and the others shooting her strange looks, their eyes trailing down her body in a way that made her gag.

One night, as she prepared to go to sleep on her ragged blanket, Knives approached her. She started as his eyes locked with hers and got up, backing against the wall. His eyes were green and cold and his hair was an unusual golden color. The old man had told her he was so different because his parents were foreigners. He was born on these lands though and only God knew what happened after.

"W...What is it?" she mumbled in a low tone.

He got dangerously close.

"Listen, you little bitch. You've been freeloading here for long enough. It's time you start paying your debts." he said, looking at her strangely.
"I'll...catch more fish and...Wash all your clothes...and..." her voice trembled as his hands shot up, trapping her against the wall.

"Who cares about fish?" he said in an icy tone and she felt his breath on her skin.

"Get away from me!" she yelled, pushing him back.

She regretted the impulse as soon as she did it, remembering who he was.

His hand grabbed her neck and he pulled her into him. His eyes showed cold anger.

"Either you start stealing, or I'll find a better use for you." he said, pushing her away.

She fell to her knees, coughing as he walked away and rubbed her bruised neck.

I can't steal...I just...and what does he mean by a better use?

She had some idea about what he wanted, since the thieves used to bring women around and party with them. Some took them upstairs and some didn't even bother and had their way with them right there in front of everyone. It made her want to throw up to think Knives wanted to do that to her. Not that he was ugly, he was actually the most handsome of the lot, but she despised him with all her heart.

"Kagome..." she heard the old man's voice as he walked into her room.

These last years had left their mark over him and she was afraid he wasn't going to be here much longer.

"I heard what he...what he said to you." he said, crouching on the floor next to her.

She lowered her eyes, but he grabbed her chin and forced her to look at him.

"Listen to me, child...you must run away from here. Find yourself somewhere else to live a decent life." He said softly.

"No! I can't leave you here! I'll...steal with them." she shot, not even wanting to consider the idea of leaving him to face Knives's wrath.

"He won't be satisfied with just that!" the old man told her, with a worried look in his eyes. "You've grown into a beautiful woman and I've seen the way he looks at you."

Kagome looked at him, surprised. She'd never considered herself a "beautiful woman".

In her soul, fear fought with attachment.

"I can't leave you to face him..."

"Hush, child! Don't throw your life away for an old bag of bones like me! I don't have much longer anyway."

Don't say that...she wanted to tell him, but she knew he was right.

"Tomorrow morning when they sleep, I'll take one of the horses to the place we use to read together, remember that place?"

"Yes..." she answered as fear crept into her heart. If Knives saw through this plan...

"When they wake up, I'll say I didn't tie it well and it ran away." Seeing the look in her eyes, he continued, "It'll earn me a fair beating and he might hit you too, but it's a small price to pay."

Kagome's eyes filled up with tears, but he stroked her hair gently.

"Then when night comes and they leave, you take that horse and run away, without looking back." he said and his voice was surprisingly firm.

"It won't work. If one horse is missing then one of them will have to stay here." she told him.

"I'll take care of that. Got one more spoon-full of my special sleeping powder." the old man informed her with a roguish smile.

"He'll kill both of you!" she protested, tears running freely down her cheeks. "I can't!"

"He won't. He'll just curse us, beat us to a pulp and then mutter threats." he tried to calm her, pushing her head gently to his shoulder. He knew that was the best of all possible outcomes and there was a very small possibility of Knives letting them live. It didn't matter, if it was to save this poor child. After a whole life of misdeeds, he felt he had to do this to atone for his sins. And she was such a sweet, kind child...

"Sleep now. You'll need to be rested." he whispered in her ear, getting up as fast as his old bones permitted.

At the same time, in a huge castle, a girl about Kagome's age tossed and turned in her sleep. White satin and silk sheets covered her bed and golden incrustations graced the wooden furniture in her room. The girl opened her eyes and got up, an annoyed expression on her face.

I can't sleep...again...

For a few nights now, since her father's condition had gotten worse, sleep just wouldn't cling to her. She knew she was going to be queen some day, but she didn't expect to take hold of her duties this soon. Not that she wasn't ready, but even if she had spent little time with her father, she loved him and the fact that he was about to die upset her terribly.

Deciding that a walk would clear her head, the princess exited her room, starting down the long corridor with marble columns that lead to the throne room. The torches burned as shadows danced on the wall, giving her an eerie feeling. The doors to the throne room were open, she noticed, knitting her brows. Who could be here at this hour of the night?
Her footsteps echoed on the marble floors as she entered, her eyes distinguishing a man standing on her father's throne. It was a long walk, considering the immense size of the room, but she could tell from here that man was not her father. The man that had noticed her presence and had gotten off the throne, was much taller than her father and very well built. As she got closer, she noticed his long dark locks and all doubts disappeared from her mind.

Stopping at the base of the three steps leading to the throne, she shot the intruder an icy gaze.

"Naraku."

"Princess Kikyo..." he bowed with grace, but his eyes remained fixed on her with a strange expression.

"How dare you sit on father's throne?" she asked him, narrowing her eyes.

"Forgive me, your highness. I was trying it to see if it's soft enough for you." he answered with a grin.

"When I'm queen, I'll have your head for your insolence." she informed him in a frozen tone. "Now get out."

"And a good night to you too, princess...Sweet dreams." he said in a mocking tone, his eyes piercing through hers.

Naraku bowed again and turned around, walking out of the throne room. Kikyo looked at him until he was out of sight and then climbed the stairs and let herself fall on the massive throne.

That snake...I hate the way he looks at me. It makes me feel naked before his eyes...

She let out a sigh and sank even lower, feeling uncomfortable. The throne was too big and the room before it was so vast and empty.

Oh father...Don't leave me yet...

A/N: Next time Kagome meets Kikyo, Knives goes crazy and you might even get to see what part Inuyasha and Sesshoumaru play in this ;)