Rating: PG-13 (T)
Warnings: AU, and a tiny bit of bloodshed.
Notes: I've never written a proper AU fic before, so this is a first. I'm actually not overly fond of them, as I tend to be a bit of a stickler for canon, however I have found a few that I've liked. This was written for the iyficcontest on LJ, for which the prompt this week was "AU". So, I figured, what the heck, and wrote one. Now, as some strange and ironic form of justice, the plot bunnies are literally chewing on my ankles with this.
Part I: Conception
When Kagome Higurashi was fifteen she met a demon.
Years worth of warnings flashed through her mind, reminding her of all the things she'd been raised to believe. Demons are dangerous. Her mother had said it first. When she was four she'd run ahead in the park and got lost. It had been nightfall before she was found by concerned searchers. She remembered it vividly, because it was the only time she'd seen her mother cry. Her mother had grabbed her and clung to her frantically afterwards, smothering her with kisses and reprimands. "I was afraid that you'd been taken by a demon," her mother had said. She was curious then what a demon was, and why her mother was so afraid of them. After that day the word demon filled her with trepidation as she recalled how afraid her own mother had been at the mere thought of one.
As she grew up the subject of demons was broached in school. Demon safety, was, of course, a mandatory part of schooling. It was then that she learned that some demons looked like people. The low-level demons were easy to fear — they looked like predators. But when she looked at the images in her text book of taiyoukai all she saw was a person. After all, how could something that looked so similar, be so different?
She asked her father once why demons were bad. He'd looked up from his newspaper, blinked several times in rapid succession, cleared his throat several times and said finally, "why do you ask?"
"They look like us. Why aren't they good like us?"
"They're demons," he'd said, and with exaggerated motions he returned to his newspaper. To Kagome it had been an unsatisfactory answer. "It's in their nature, Higurashi," her teacher had said, when she asked. "Don't ask silly questions." She was unsure what to make of that. She did not yet know that what could not be understood and controlled was often, by its very nature, feared and condemned.
When she saw him for the first time she knew he was dangerous. He was slouched slightly, leaning against the Goshinboku, a widening patch of crimson staining his white shirt. Even injured he extruded raw power. It tickled her senses, causing goose-pimples to break out all up and down her arms and legs, and the fine hairs at the back of her neck to stand up. She felt like every fibre of her being was screaming out in protest to her proximity to this creature. Dangerous. The word repeated like a mantra, thrumming in every cell of her body.
Slowly, so slowly that it made her knees shaking in terror, he turned to look at her. He was unmistakably inhuman. Gone were the days when she looked at the harmless photos in her text books and naïvely assumed that having two legs, two arms, opposable thumbs, two eyes, a nose and a mouth made them even remotely human. This uncontrollable, dangerous creature was staring straight at her, his blood-red eyes shining unnaturally in the darkness of the night. He gave a low, menacing growl.
She should have run. Run back to the house as fast as she could, slammed the door and hoped desperately that the sutras would hold.
Instead she did the opposite. Despite that all of her common sense, her instincts and her knowledge was telling her to get as far away from this creature as possible, her soul was drawn to him. He was obviously injured, and in a great deal of pain. And if there was one thing Kagome Higurashi could not stand, it was someone in pain. She'd been rescuing animals since she could walk; bringing them home in shoe-boxes and blankets and nursing them persistently. On some level, she considered him the same. He was in obvious need of help, and she was unable to turn away.
So she held her hands up to prove she was unarmed, and inched forward slowly.
"You're hurt," she said quietly. "Please, I want to help."
The growling increased in volume, and he bared a set of white and very sharp-looking fangs. It was a clear sign in any language. She ignored it resolutely, pushing her fear aside.
"Please," she said again, inching forward still. "Please let me help you." Very slowly she reached up and pulled off the blue silk scarf she was wearing. She held it out in front of her and stretched out her arm towards him.
He watched her carefully now, still growling so deeply that she could swear that she felt it in her bones. Yet he did not move, so she reached out and pressed the scarf to his wound. His body jerked, and his arm twitched and moved towards her at near-impossible speed, stopping inches from her head.
Wide-eyed and shaking she stared at the razor-sharp nails hovering ominously near her head.
"Sorry," she said breathlessly. "I have to stop the bleeding."
He remained perfectly still.
"Can you hold this?" she asked quietly. "I'll get some bandages and water to clean this. Stay here, I'll be right back."
His hand appeared, as if out of nowhere, to cover her own. She jumped at the unexpected contact, pulling her hand away out of instinct. Her skin tingled where he'd touched her, almost painfully. Dangerous, her mind supplied. She scrambled backwards inelegantly, disconcerted by the way his eyes followed her every movement. Nervously she stood, trying desperately to quell the shaking in her limbs.
"I'll be right back," she said again, before turning and running back into the house.
When she returned, her arms full of bandages and gauze, he was gone. She searched for him, but found almost no trace that he'd even been there in the first place.
When her mother asked her what had happened to the scarf, she said she'd lost it. With a huff of disappointment her mother had turned and tossed over her shoulder, "you should learn to be more careful with things, Kagome."
When she was young her parents and teachers had often praised her for her compassion. Kagome is such a lovely child. She'd heard those words often enough as she stood obediently by her mother's leg, waiting to be taken home. Always wanting to help. She couldn't not help. Compassion was her greatest fault.
She knew on some level that it was a foolish thing to have done. But to not have done it, to not have helped when she could have, would have destroyed her. It was the right thing to do. But if you do the right thing for the wrong person, is it still right?
She'd tried to forget about him. It would have been easier, she supposed, if she'd never seen him again. But two months after what she had deemed 'the incident', she looked out her window and saw him standing stiffly under the Goshinboku. She'd nearly screamed, stopping herself at the last moment, and stood there staring at him, her hand pressed over her racing heart. It would have been easier to believe he was simply and illusion if it had only happened once.
She'd gone down to him. Again she'd broken the rules ingrained in her memory since she was four. But this time she had no good deed to fulfil, simply curiosity. She hoped desperately that she would not wind up like the cat.
She stood just outside the doorway of her house, ready to turn and flee back to the safety of the indoors at a moments notice. He simply stood there staring at her, his eyes keenly visible even from a distance. He seemed more human to her now, or, perhaps, simply better hidden. Everything about him screamed composure. From the way every strand of his silky silver hair was perfectly in-place, to the carefully blank expression on his regal face, and the crisp, orderly state of his clothes. Nervously she wrung her hands behind her back, and waited. She could feel his eyes on her, as the took in her appearance. All of a sudden her blue pyjamas with the smiling penguins seemed woefully inadequate. She blushed as he raked his gaze up the contours of her body, so agonisingly slowly, before looking, at last, into her eyes.
Suddenly she was lost.
When she regained her senses she was alone, and a single blue scarf lay at her feet.