Chapter 79 – Escape

Kouga let out a snarl of frustration as he plucked feather after feather out of the sap that covered his hair, chest, shoulders, and arms… even his tail! The sap was going to be hell to get off, and the feathers weren't going to be a walk in the park either. To the right of where he sat was an ever-growing pile of the annoyingly fluffy white things.

Once he decided that he removed as many as he was going to get, Kouga followed his ears, since his nose could smell nothing but tree sap, to the nearby bubbling hot spring. He pulled off his chest plate and furs, and laid them to the side. Once he got some of this sticky crap out of his hair then he would try to get them clean, as well. He slid into the steaming hot water and leaned back so that his hair could soak. If it didn't come out of his hair and he had to cut it, someone was going to pay big time.

There was no way this was a coincidence or an accident. Someone set it up, like a trap, and he walked right into it. What he couldn't figure out was who and why. He was certain that the hanyou wasn't bright enough to pull something like this off, and if Inuyasha had come anywhere near his camp, he would have known about it. He could smell his dog breath a mile away.

Plus, there was the invisible wall thing. There was absolutely no way Inuyasha or any of his companions would be able to do something like that, especially without him sensing them. It was driving him crazy! If it wasn't the half-breed, then who hated him enough to go to such trouble? Who did he know that was even capable of such things? No answers were forthcoming, but he was bound and determined to find them somehow. He would figure out who was behind it all, and then they would pay.

~ SWtPF~

Naraku was rather pleased with himself. The witch had explained that the spelled shard would only work on one he desired. Sure, it wasn't the perfect outcome, having to wait and see who used it, but he sent his Saimyosho to keep watch and let him know if the shards were distributed amongst the panthers yet.

Once they were, he would have to make an appearance and make sure that Shinya didn't end up dying from the poison. It was a long and painful death, his favorite kind, so he had time to save her if he needed to. Sure, she would be in some pain for a while until he got there, but then she was going to be in a great deal of pain for the majority of her stay with him anyway, until he got tired of her and needed a new toy.

The witch had spoken for Kagura, claiming that the wind demoness was not at fault for the delay, that she was called to another who had need of her services, but he decided that he didn't care. He was still harboring a great deal of frustration over the whole thing. He hated it when things didn't go his way, and that was something that happened quite often. He decided to punish her anyway, just for the fun of it. Once she returned the witch to her mountain cave he had his other servants, mostly humans he'd enslaved to take care of the menial tasks of being a villain, chain her to the wall in his throne room.

For a while he just let her hang there glaring at him as he lounged comfortably in the large padded chair and gorged himself on whatever delicacy he procured from the latest village he raided.

Really, it was so hard to find good help. His human servants just didn't last long enough, and the demon ones always fought him. Now, the few hanyou that he managed to wrap his tentacles around were hardy enough to survive ill treatment, and neither powerful enough nor motivated enough to escape him. They came in handy, at least, with the cooking and some of the simpler errands. They weren't good for too much more, stupid creatures that they were.

When he grew bored with watching her trying to kill him with dirty looks, he moved on to some of the more entertaining options. For a while, he threw things at her, childish maybe, but so wonderfully rewarding. He threw grapes at her for a while just to irritate her. He then moved on to larger fruit because it would hurt when he hit his target.

The tomatoes were his favorite. They were old and squishy, and some were even growing things. Those splattered when they connected and smelled horrible.

When Naraku finally grew bored with his target practice, he just got up and walked away, off to bed for the night. He left her hanging there, bruised, slimy, smelly, and attracting flies. He could hear her screaming at him all the way in his chambers, and it was like a lullaby as he drifted off to sleep.

~ SWtPF~

Sometime in the middle of the night, Inuyasha, Miroku, and the boys crept away from camp in complete silence. Yuudai was carrying the small packet of powder that Sango had prepared for them, while everyone else had one thing or another to carry to complete their next prank. This one had to be Inuyasha's absolute favorite. Akihiro shielded Yuudai as he approached the still semi-sticky and snoring wolf. Once he was within range, he tossed the packet like he was told, watching as a rain of white powder settled all around Kouga. He then crept back to the others, and they waited until they were sure it had taken effect.

Finally, he just couldn't wait anymore, and Inuyasha walked slowly towards one of the largest annoyances in his life. When he made it all the way to where Kouga lay without the wolf stirring a bit, the hanyou nudged him with his foot several times, just for good measure, before motioning for the others to join him. They all knelt around their unconscious victim and set to work. This was going to be great.

When they finished and made sure to gather all their supplies so nothing was left behind to point to them, Miroku snapped a plethora of pictures, getting the wolf from all angles. They were rather impressed with their work, though Shippo said it was because they had been having so much fun coloring in the books Kagome brought them.

They returned to camp quietly, not wanting to wake Rin and Sango, though Kirara and Kazue knew they had made it back safely as they could see their eyes flashing as they reflected the soft moonlight. Supplies stashed away, everyone returned to their respective bedding and drifted off to sleep, each eagerly awaiting the morning when their latest prank would be discovered.

~ SWtPF~

Sesshoumaru chuckled when the sunlight hit Kagome's closed eyes, and she rolled over with a groan, burying her face in his chest. "Your mother has already started breakfast," he murmured in her ear. "You should get up."

"I don't wanna," was her muffled reply. She was just too comfortable. She didn't want to move. He was so nice and warm, and she felt safe and secure in his arms. Getting out of bed would ruin all of it.

He raised a brow at her and her rather childish tone before he grabbed the top of the sheet that covered them and ripped it off her, tossing it to the floor with a victorious smirk.

"That was just mean," she said before she rearranged herself so she was lying on his chest and straddling his hips. Not only did she get to share more of his warmth, but she was banking on the hope that he would enjoy the position enough to leave her be for a while longer.

"I would think that after all the time you've spent with my impatient little brother, you would be used to waking early."

"I am. It's not that it's too early. You're too comfy."

He smiled at her honesty. It was nice to know she wished to stay in bed with him rather than get up and face the day. "While I appreciate that, you need to eat breakfast before you go to school for your exams. You do not want me to make you get up."

"Oh really? And just what do you think you're gonna do to…" her words were forgotten as she squealed and squirmed in a desperate attempt to escape. She had never expected Sesshoumaru to tickle her! "Okay! Okay! I give! I'll get up!"

She let out a sigh of relief as his clawed fingertips ended their torment before sliding off her demon/pillow and standing in the middle of her room. She stretched, arching her back and lifting her arms high over her head, not noticing the hungry look the silent taiyoukai was giving her. Kagome walked across the room, digging through her dresser for a bra and panties before reaching around the door and grabbing the uniform her mother had washed the evening prior and hung on her doorknob.

Sesshoumaru sat up against the head of the bed and simply watched her. He very much doubted that she even realized the show she was giving him, walking around completely naked, stretching and bending; if he wasn't a demon of legendary control she would already be back in the bed, or maybe pinned to the floor under his also naked form.

Kagome glanced up at him and saw the small smile on his face. "Okay, you! You don't just get to sit there and watch me get dressed! You need to get dressed, too!" To make sure he got the point, she walked to the end of the bed where his clothes were piled and started tossing things at him.

Finally, when they were both dressed, and Sesshoumaru could hear Kagome's stomach rumbling, they headed downstairs for breakfast. Hiromi smiled at them both as she continued to prepare the morning meal, as well as lunches for Kagome and Souta, while she listened to the morning news. Both miko and taiyoukai were ignoring the sound as the reporter droned on and on about something incredibly boring. Their attention was captured, however, when the topic turned to the 'mall incident'.

"Several days have passed since a teenaged boy ran through the crowded food court of the mall with what appeared to be a bloody knife. The police have finally released the name of the perpetrator, Hiroshi Hojo, a junior at the local high school. Our source has told us that during the interrogation the boy was nearing hysterical and apparently suffering from hallucinations, as well as an unhealthy obsession with a female classmate. He was immediately sent for a mental evaluation, having to be taken by force after assaulting an orderly from the hospital…"

"Did I tell you about that? One of the girls in my class yesterday was talking about Hojo. Her father is one of the detectives on the case. I feel kinda bad for him. I mean, he did really see a demon, after all."

"The boy was ill before this Sesshoumaru ever met him."

"Yeah, I think so, too, but he's in the nut ward right now." She laughed as Sesshoumaru quirked a brow and explained. "I mean he's in the hospital in a special wing for the mentally ill. He's telling them about you, and they think he's hallucinating. The whole thing made whatever was wrong with him before worse. But what I wanted to tell you… She said that Hojo bit one of the orderlies!"

"I always thought he was such a sweet boy, a bit dense but still sweet. I should have seen it," Hiromi said, feeling rather guilty that she put her daughter at risk so many times by telling Hojo where she was or encouraging his pursuit of Kagome by accepting the multitude of gifts.

"Of course, you think that now, looking back. I didn't see it either, Mama. I had no idea he was so obsessed with me! Kinda creepy…"

Their attention returned to the television once more as the reporter finished talking about the mall incident, Hojo's arrest, and his relocation to the psych ward. "We've been able to gain some insight into the mind of the obviously mentally ill teen thanks to the results of the tests done on the bloody knife."

Kagome's eyes widened as she listened. They had her blood on the knife! Then they would know that at least some part of Hojo's story was true and would be asking a lot of questions about why she didn't come forward and report the assault. To top that off, they would definitely be interested in how she managed to heal so quickly.

"Apparently, lab technicians repeated the test several times because of the odd findings, but each test result was the same. The blood on the knife that had been assumed to have come from an unknown victim was not human, but rather canine. The results could not be narrowed to a specific breed, however. No owner has come forward to report any injury to their pet, and a search of veterinary hospitals has also come up empty. It is unknown whether the animal was mortally wounded. If you have any information about the mystery dog, officers are asking that you call the tip line. The number is on the bottom of the screen."

"Dog… blood?" Kagome mumbled while staring at the screen, wide-eyed. "I have… dog blood?" The shocked miko turned and looked up into golden eyes. "How could I have dog blood?"

"You share blood with this Sesshoumaru."

"Yeah, but you're not a dog! A dog demon, sure, but I should at least have some human, mostly human even! That's just weird."

"At present, the police have no further leads and with no complaining victim, Hiroshi Hojo will likely be committed until he is found to no longer be a danger to himself or others. It is unlikely that he would be found fit to stand trial for the charges associated with the mall incident. His parents declined to comment, and the detectives handling the case refuse to release the identity of the young woman that Hojo is said to be obsessed with, claiming that she has nothing to do with the case and thus did not need to be involved, especially during final exams. You heard it here first, and we will keep you updated throughout…"

Hiromi clicked the television off and turned to look at her daughter, who appeared as if she was off in a world all her own as she tried to figure out the odd results. Sesshoumaru had a small smile on his face. "Kagome, dear, don't worry about it. Driving yourself crazy trying to figure it out is only going to give you a headache and make you fail your exams. And you… I take it you are not bothered by the idea of the changes in my daughter?"

Kagome looked up at him and saw the smile. She smacked his arm while giving him a death glare. "You would. I thought you didn't care if I was human."

His eyes softened and his smile drooped. "This Sesshoumaru will love you whether you are human, demon, or anywhere in-between. There is a benefit to your changes, Kagome. The more you transform, the more likely it will be for your lifespan to extend to match my own."

Kagome smiled, knowing that he meant every word. "Okay, I guess," she said playfully. "Shit!" she yelled as she caught sight of the time. "No time for breakfast. Gotta go!" Sesshoumaru smirked and followed her outside, intent on walking beside her whether she was in a hurry or not.

~ SWtPF~

At first light, when everyone was feeling a little more sober, the wolves gathered what remained of the sake, the meat having long ago been eaten, leaving many tummy aches behind as they overstuffed themselves so that it would not go to waste. They figured the wood wasn't something that needed to be transported, as they could gather some closer to their camp.

When everyone was ready, the small pack set out in the direction Kouga's yell had come from the night before. No one was looking forward to reaching him. He sounded absolutely furious, and they had no idea why he never returned. Chances were good that whatever the reason, it wasn't a positive one.

They walked for several hours, purposely taking their time, dragging their feet to postpone their reunion with Kouga. There was little conversation, which made it seem even longer. Finally, they could see smoke from the huts in the little village near where they camped, and they knew they were close. They were all expecting Kouga to show up in his funnel cloud of dust and dirt like always, but he didn't. Ginta glanced over at Hakaku with a worried look in his eyes.

"He should know we're close. Why isn't he coming?"

"I don't know, but we should hurry and find him," Hakaku answered. Everyone nodded their agreement, and they were moving once more, this time at a much less casual pace. When they entered the clearing where they camped a few days earlier, Kouga was laying on his side, his back to them, and if it weren't for the gentle wagging of his tail, they would have thought he was dead. He didn't move a muscle otherwise and didn't seem to notice their presence, which wasn't normal at all. No one could ever sneak up on Kouga.

Ginta and Hakaku knelt on either side of him, rolling the wolf to his back. All the worry they were filled with drained away when they saw him and amusement took over. Kouga woke to the hysterical laughter of his previously 'missing' pack. He would have jumped up and demanded to know where they had been except that he was still quite drowsy, and he could already feel the growing headache behind his eyes. Eventually, he couldn't take it anymore.

"Would you idiots shut the fuck up?" he screamed, and they all fell silent in an instant. "Now, where the hell have you been, and what the fuck is so goddamned funny?"

Ginta was the first to catch his breath and gave Kouga a confused look. "Where were we? We were where you left us, where you told us to stay while you went to go get our 'guest of honor'. Except you never came back. We did what you ordered! We stayed right where we were supposed to." He started out with a straight face but the longer he talked the harder it was, and when he finished, he dropped to his knees to continue laughing his ass off.

"I didn't take you guys anywhere! I didn't tell you to stay somewhere. Why would I do that? I told you we were waiting for Kagome! And what the hell is so funny?"

Hakaku held his sides, his ribs aching from laughing so hard. "You… you've got a little something… on your face."

Kouga's hand came up and wiped at his cheek, feeling something rubbing off. When he looked at his hand, his fingertips were white. "What the hell?" he said in confusion. "What is this shit?"

"It's… it's ladies face paint! Kouga, you… you're painted up like a geisha!"

"Tell me you're kidding," the wolf prince said in a low, dangerous tone.

"Umm… well, I… I can't," Ginta said, twitching back in anticipation of some kind of retaliation from his alpha. "How could… how did someone get close enough to do that to you… and you not notice? At the very least, you should have woken up when they touched you. It's almost like you were…"

"Drugged," Kouga growled. "And this wasn't the first time."

In the bushes, Inuyasha, Miroku, and the boys listened as Kouga began to recount all the odd things that had happened since they somehow became separated. After a while, they snuck back to their camp and talked, deciding that, since Kouga was suspicious and no longer alone, they would lie low for a while. They needed to work on their holy powers with Kaede, anyway. Their lessons and training were more important than silly, incredibly fun, but still silly, pranks.

~ SWtPF~

Naraku was enjoying Kagura's discomfort, but he was getting rather bored with his target practice. A bored Naraku never bode well for her, and she knew something unpleasant was coming when he ordered the human servants to unchain her from the wall only to have her hands shackled behind her back. Oh, how she hated him, and that hatred grew more and more each day, every moment even. She glared at her creator and tormenter as she was forced to her knees before him as if she were worshipping him while cursing him silently.

"You know Kagura; it's been far too long since we've played." He looked down at her with a dark smirk on his face and his red eyes glowed like embers in the poorly lit room. "I've so missed our special time together. Haven't you?" Kagura simply glared harder, wishing she could ignite him with the fire in her eyes. "Now, now, my dear. You haven't forgotten, have you?"

He held out his hand, showing her the glowing red orb that he used to control her. She could never escape him without her heart. He closed his hand around it, and she grimaced, fighting the need to scream in pain. She didn't want to give him that. It was what he wanted, and she refused to be his plaything. She wouldn't give him what he wanted by crying out, screaming, or begging no matter what he did.

He frowned and squeezed tighter, hating her strong will. 'Oh, well. That will just make this all the more enjoyable. I do rather like it when she fights me.'

He smirked again and locked eyes with her before he dropped his pants to the floor, leaving her face to face with the evil hanyou's hard cock. "Open up, love," he ordered. When Kagura didn't move to obey but instead pinched her lips tightly closed, he laughed his dark, 'something bad is going to happen and you're not going to like it' laugh. Then, he tightened his hand around her heart harder than before, so much so that she had to gasp for breath from the intensity of the pain. He caught three fingers in her open mouth and slowly eased up on the pressure on her heart until she could focus on him again.

"You will do what I want either way. It is up to you how much pain I am forced to inflict to get what I want." She glared at him, but he knew he won when her mouth fell open lifelessly. It didn't matter, though. She didn't need to do much. He rather preferred it when she tried to pull away, making choking and gagging noises as he slid his cock in and out of her throat forcefully.

He looked down at her and smirked, one hand fisted in her hair, keeping her just where he wanted her, while the other still held her heart as a warning to her. Her eyes were welling up with tears, and she looked utterly defeated, the look of despair enough to make him thrust harder and faster, so close to his end.

Kagura looked up at him carefully and took in the sight of his head thrown back and eyes closed. The light sparked back to life in her eyes, and she waited. It was almost time. She allowed her mind to float away for most of it, but now she had to focus. If she didn't want to die, she had to time it just right. She could feel his disgusting dick begin to twitch, and she waited.

When he let out a moan of pleasure as he began to climax, Kagura took her chance and sank her fangs into him as hard as she could, almost gagging at the taste of his blood in her mouth. It happened just as she knew it would. His hand loosened in her hair and the other hung limp at his side; barely holding on to the one thing she really needed to be free of him.

When he felt her teeth sink in, he nearly blacked out from the pain. He didn't even notice as she slipped out of his grasp or how she knocked her heart from his hand with her shoulder. He didn't see that her hands weren't chained behind her as tightly as he thought when she slid her wrists out of the shackles, picked up her heart, and ran. He didn't notice anything other than the fact that the bitch had just tried to bite his dick off!

Kagura was still spitting while she ran, but she felt wonderful. She had her heart in her hand, and once she made it outside and took to the air, she took the time to look at it. It was then she realized that she had absolutely no idea how to get the thing in her chest where it belonged!

She decided that she needed to find a place to hide and lay low for a while, because Naraku was sure to want her dead. He was lucky he had demon characteristics, even if he wasn't actually born a half demon. The damage she inflicted would heal rather quickly, but the memory of the pain, and hopefully the humiliation, would stay with him for a long time to come.