Brace yourselves, people. This is another weird one! When I write too much angst I must counterbalance with something fun: hence, this very old story has been dredged back out of the depths of my hard drive. This will be a chaptered fic but not a long one, probably a handful of short-ish chapters. Be warned that it contains excessive pun usage and more lame dog jokes than you can fetch a stick with. And fluff. There's a plot secreted away in there too, but mostly bad puns and fluff.
And now, for something almost, but not quite, entirely unlike Canis.
Rin and Jaken never were acknowledged nor welcomed when they'd return from foraging, and they didn't expect to be. It was just not how things worked in their group. This time, however, when Seshoumaru heard the distant chatter of his ward and retainer, he turned from the sight of the glowing moon and stood in wait, watching their approach.
He could make out their voices and pick up their scent on the wind long before they came within sight, and so he was entirely unsurprised when three figures came into view rather than the two that had set out.
"Sesshoumaru-sama will be furious!" Jaken said, positively hopping with panic. "He has far more important things to do than be taking in mangy strays—" he paused at this—"and he already has one with you here, stupid human!"
"No buts!" He swung his staff down to point at the scruffy black dog at Rin's side. "Get rid of it before he sees it. Oh what has this lowly Jaken done to deserve this? He is surrounded by filth!"
"Hey," the dog said, "I'm not so keen on all this either, okay? And lay off on the kid or I'll bite you."
"But Jaken," Rin continued, having of course not understood the dog, "she was all alone and she was hungry, and she's such a pretty doggie."
"That's right," the dog said, "I'm lonely and hungry and I hate my life. Hate it, hate it, hate it." This last part came out as a low whine, and the dog itself seemed surprised by the sound of it. Rin immediately threw her arms around the dog's neck and hugged it with everything she had. The dog winced. "Aghh. I've got a rope-burn there. Please don't."
Jaken, who also did not understand dogs, shook his staff at the two of them. "And now you will have fleas! Oh, what will Sesshoumaru-sama say when I bring back two flea-bitten curs?"
Sesshoumaru did not say anything when they came into the camp. He stood, backlit by the moon, and leveled his gaze at them without a word.
This worried Jaken greatly.
"Sesshoumaru-sama," Rin said as she led the dog to him, suddenly all meekness and smiles, "I found the most beautifulest doggie, and she was so hungry and she was tied up in some bad man's yard, and the man hated her and she was sad, so I saved her—" and then the clincher—"just like you saved Rin!" She smiled her very widest smile.
Sesshoumaru said nothing.
Jaken knew this was a very bad sign, and even Rin was becoming slightly concerned that perhaps Sesshoumaru-sama wouldn't like her new dog quite as much as she did. The dog in question had stopped paying attention to the conversation long before they arrived. She was trying to teach Jaken a lesson using her teeth.
"Lord Sesshoumaru!" Jaken cried, flinging himself at Sesshoumaru's black-booted feet—clearly, it would be up to him to save the both of them from the girl's mistake. "Sesshoumaru-sama, I told her not to bring this filthy beast! Forgive this foolish human for tainting your senses with it and forgive this worthless Jaken for allowing it!"
"—But Sesshoumaru-sama, Rin just—"
Sesshoumaru took a small step forward and the two fell quiet instantly.
His eyes, half-shining in the dark, slid over his ward and retainer to settle on the scraggly, scrawny, miserable beast that had been dragged into his camp. They narrowed. "Rin. You will build the fire. Jaken, you will assist."
"Yes, Sesshoumaru-sama." Rin made to slink away, tugging the leash behind her.
During the sudden silence, the dog, who had been straining at her rope to snap at Jaken, seemed to notice her new company for the first time. She stopped and stared at him, long and hard.
"Come on, doggie," Rin urged, pulling harder, "we need to—"
Rin opened her mouth, her eyes wide and dark and pleading, but Jaken gave his head a slight warning shake and she shut it again. As Jaken led her away she gave the dog one last look over her shoulder, giving it a reassuring smile.
The dog unfortunately did not catch the smile, for it was too busy gaping at the white lord before her.
Who, if it was possible, seemed rather taken aback himself.
Even an animal can smell the youki on a demon like Sesshoumaru, and most would flee beneath the gaze of a predator of that caliber. But the dog, instead, let out a low whuff.
"Oh. You." The scruffy beast sat back on its haunches and seemed to heave a sigh. "Figures. I mean, since I've shown myself to be just oh-so-lucky, and what with the inherent irony of running into the Prince of Dogs, there was no way I could not run into you, now that I look back on it."
Sesshoumaru watched the dog as it half-heartedly gave the raw sores on its neck a scratch.
His eyes narrowed slightly. He should probably kill the animal. He recognized trouble when he saw it.
"Should've realized the toad would bring me here," the dog muttered. "Been so long since I ate that my head is all woozy and swimmy." Then, brightly, "So, I don't suppose, being a dog yourself and all, you can speak dog?" A moment later it gave a yawn and, clearly used to running a monolog, continued. "No, I didn't think so. I mean, that would be something that could make my life easier, which is, like, against the laws of physics." Its lips pulled back in a snarl. "God I hate physics."
Sesshoumaru, who had stood contemplating what to do with the animal—which had yet to stop yipping and whining like a kicked puppy—let out a noise that, to the dog, sounded startlingly like a low sigh. The dog's jaw shut with an audible click.
In the following silence, the Lord of the West turned his attention to the starry sky. "This Sesshoumaru is entirely unsurprised," he said aloud to the heavens, "that Rin should choose to take in the loudest, filthiest, mangiest, and," his nose wrinkled just slightly, "smelliest beast this side of Kyoto."
"Hey," the dog huffed, "it's not my fault I look like this. And I think I'm a rather pretty dog."
"I was referring to your human self, miko."
"I don't care if—" The dog choked halfway through a bark. "You—you can understand me?"
Sesshoumaru, who in fact understood dogs perfectly well, arched one eyebrow.
"And…and you know who I am?"
Sesshoumaru's eyes narrowed and she got the sinking feeling she had insulted him.
"While I applaud your attempts to improve your species," he finally said, looking disdainful and not like he applauded anything about her at all, "you are not only still pathetically mortal, you are still, undeniably, yourself. Your own scent gives you away." He sniffed theatrically. "Even if it did not, my brother's stink on you would."
"Oh," Kagome said.
Then, to Sesshoumaru's astonishment, her tail began wagging. Brimming with a sudden energy, the miko pranced back and forth on her paws, giving him a canine grin.
"Oh! Thank god you're here—I didn't think I'd find anyone ever who could understand me! You wouldn't believe the time I've had." Her eyes got a wild, haunted look to them. "A villager tried to eat me. A real dog tried to—oh, lets not even go there. I'm so glad I ran into you." Kagome never thought she'd ever be glad to see the icy demon lord, but right now she was so happy she wanted to weep.
Unfortunately, her new body didn't quite know how to do that.
Maybe if she'd been able to find her friends after the fight—after it had happened—she wouldn't be in such a state right now (aside from still being a dog). But having a marvelous canine nose was only well and good if you knew what things were supposed to smell like, and being new to the canine persuasion, Kagome didn't have a damned clue. She had spent the first week alone and starving in the woods, and the second and third in the fields stealing from compost heaps, chased by strangers during the day and bitten at night by rats. It was no wonder she looked like she had mange.
Sesshoumaru regarded her for a long moment before responding. "This Sesshoumaru is certain," he said slowly, deliberately, "that the tale behind this is quite the interesting one."
She snorted. "Oh, yes. It's marvelous."
After a minute he lifted an eyebrow again, and she realized that he expected her to elaborate.
"Right. Er, well, we heard about a fox witch in the mountains who'd gotten her paws on a shard, so we went searching for her. And when we found her, Inuyasha…well, you know how he is, he just attacks without thinking…and I could feel that she was charging for some kind of spell…so…I sat him. And then…it hit me instead." She glanced up at his blank stare and quickly looked away, hoping dogs couldn't blush. "Pretty dumb, I know. The witch was pretty mad after that, and the spell hadn't kicked in, so I ran. Which got me lost…really lost." She heaved a sigh. "Then the spell took hold, and, well, this happened. And, um…that's pretty much it."
She waited for some sort of condescending comment on all this, but realized, after another awkward silence, that there wasn't going to be one. She got the unpleasant feeling though that, as he got over his initial astonishment, he was beginning to find the situation amusing.
Kagome looked away, watching the leaves blow across the pale moon. Distantly, she thought that it all looked so different now. Colors were flattened and washed out, yet vibrant in a…different way. It was alien, and beautiful, and frightening.
Turning back to him, she took a deep breath. "Please, you've got to help me. I have to find Inuyasha and my friends. I'm sure they can help me find a way to—to undo this. Kaede must know something. Please, I have to find them." Another deep breath. "I'll do anything. Please."
Sesshoumaru tilted his head, his glassy eyes lit with eyeshine like lanterns in the dark, making them unreadable. She guessed from his silence throughout her speech that he'd been expecting this request. But, there was no telling how he'd react to it. Suddenly she didn't know what she dreaded worse—refusal or acceptance. There were a number of fairly unpleasant things he could ask her to do that she probably should have taken off the table—never attacking him again seemed reasonable enough, but what about stealing Inuyasha's sword? Bringing back weapons from the future? Donating a kidney? (for culinary purposes of course).
The demon lord shifted, his bangs sweeping over his eyes for a moment, and then his gaze met hers and his eyes were back to normal: flat, bored, and cold.
Except—and she wasn't certain she wasn't imagining it—a gleam.
A dangerous gleam? An amused gleam? A you've-just-sold-your-soul-to-the-devil gleam? She couldn't tell but she was sure it was a very, very bad gleam, since it gave her a very, very bad feeling.
"I ask nothing in return." He turned on his heel and strode off to the camp.
Kagome blinked. "Wait—what? Nothing?" Her brain fizzled around the concept. "But…why?"
He paused in his tracks and gave her a cold look over his shoulder.
"Um, I mean, not that I'm not grateful," she amended, tail between her legs, "it's just hard to understand why, ah, a great and powerful demon lord like yourself would, ah…"
"I will return you to your companions." Without another word he turned away and left.
Kagome stood there for a few minutes, blinking under the moon, then gave herself a shake and trotted carefully over to the small campfire Rin had built. Kagome slumped herself down a few feet away from her, casting a quick look at Sesshoumaru—who didn't look back—to make sure it was okay.
After the little girl shared a roast rabbit (had Sesshoumaru gone hunting for her?) with Kagome, she laid herself down as close to the fire as she dared, drinking in the luxurious warmth. It was only moments before, to her surprise, she felt Rin curl up against her side, burrowing into her ratty fur.
She supposed that, aside from Ah-Un, the girl didn't get much physical contact with people. More than glad to give some comfort, she draped her foreleg over Rin to share her warmth.
With the girl snuggled against her and the fire warming her fur, her eyes quickly grew heavy, and she found herself thinking, as she sank into sleep, that this wasn't so bad. She was safe, and cozy. And soon she would find Inuyasha and—
"I almost forgot," Rin said suddenly, sitting up, "I haven't given you a name." The girl tapped her chin in what, through Kagome's half-lidded eyes, was the cutest thing ever.
There was a dry rustle of silk from the other side of their encampment, past the edge of the firelight. "Her name is Kagome."
Kagome's sleepy mind thought that she ought to be pleased that he remembered her name, but it was mostly just puzzled. And warm. And sleepy. Mmm.
"Oh," Rin said, looking at the ground. "I was going to call her Bitch."
Kagome shot awake.
A choking sound came from Jaken's direction.
Rin looked back and forth between the horrorstricken dog and the gasping toad, her face falling. "I just…my neighbor once had a really pretty dog, and the man always called her Bitch, and I really liked the dog so I thought…" She wrung her hands in her short kimono. "Never mind."
Kagome heard the soft shifting of cloth again from the dark behind them, too quiet for human ears to have picked up.
"You may call her that if you wish."
"But I thought you said her name was..."
"It is. However, 'bitch' is the term for an animal that is both female and a dog. The title is therefore appropriate. Indeed, it is very…suiting." His voice was low and smooth—and deeply amused, Kagome thought darkly—in the night air. "I am certain that she appreciates it."
Kagome glared at him. "You're an evil man."
Rin took her small bark as approval and threw her arms around her. "Oh, I'm so glad you like it, Kagome-Bitch!"
Kagome had to work very hard not to growl at the demon. With a half-hearted sigh, she circled a few times and slumped back to the ground. Rin burrowed into her side, falling asleep within minutes, but now Kagome was wide awake and stewing. "Bitch," she muttered. "Thanks so much. Don't you know not to kick a dog when it's down? Hmph."
"It's a dog-eat-dog world out there," he said in a mild voice.
She laid her ears back. "Oh, that was really evil."
The silence was very smug.
"Hey…you wouldn't really eat another dog, would you?"