Chapter 1:

I'd never thought of how I would die. Well, I guess I had, once upon a time, after the first time we defeated Naraku, but I'd always thought I would die in Inuyasha's arms, our children and friends surrounding me. Not like this. Never had I thought that this would happen, especially after we killed Naraku. Apparently, Naraku could be revived, and there are actually idiots that would do it.

I watched as the tentacles pulled out of Inuyasha and he fell to the floor, so torn and bloodied I knew it was impossible for him to rise again, but still, I hoped that somehow he was still alive... But no amount of demon's blood could save him now. Nor would any magic I or anyone else could produce, not even the Tensaiga, as Sesshoumaru had already used I ton him, and on Miroku and Sango, once upon a time. He was dead, an un-transformed Tetsusaiga still at home, not even bothered with. We hadn't thought we would be attacked, we were just going to go get herbs, after all. Inuyasha could handle almost all the local demons, as weak as they were.

I pushed up a quick barrier, trying to get rid of the tentacles coming after me. Trying in vain to save at least myself so I could go find Sango, Miroku, somebody, and warn them.

Sometimes, the tentacles burst through, but I must have been charged up a bit more than I had thought, because they all purified soon after entering. I thought I was doing well until something came in from behind me.

Then there was pain. Blinding searing pain, and I fell, my barrier collapsing along with my body.

The obviously alive Naraku came over to me, coldly saying "His heart is dead, miko. Onigumo is gone, and you will soon join your mate and his rival in hell. Don't fret; your friends will be joining you soon."

At that moment, as I felt myself weakening, letting go of my semblance on reality, a white flash moved in front of me, protecting me from Naraku, and the white person, for that is what I'd begun to notice it as, saved me, dissolving the unsuspecting, arrogant hanyou into goop at his, or perhaps her, feet. The person grabbed me, pulling me off into the woods, sheltering me against an armored chest, holding me with an arm, wrapping me in fur. I looked up into a face with amber eyes, framed by light hair, and said, "Inuyasha, you're…alive."

As soon as the words escaped my mouth, I fell into a deep unconsciousness, deeper than any sleep I had ever felt. In the back of my mind, I knew that INuyasha was dead, as dead as can be, and that whoever had saved me, whoever was holding me, was NOT Inuyasha, for Inuyasha lie motionless in that clearing, his father's fang a mile away from him, he would never move, never fight, never kiss me, never hold me, never love me again.

But I lived in a dream for a while, and in this dream, Inuyasha had saved me, after miraculously coming back to life(again), and he was holding me, kissing me, asking if I was alright.

I wish I had stayed in that dream, because soon enough, I woke, lying between furs in some cavern, with bandages wrapped around me and an older demon healer kneeling next to me. There was a fire in a hearth not far from me, and across that fire, sitting there in all his perfect glory, was Sesshoumaru. He looked at me, regarding me coldly, even if he was so very, very inhumanly beautiful.

"Miko, you have been healed by this Sesshoumaru's healer," he told me. "You owe me a debt."

Of course, this is Sessoumaru, and he would ruin the façade with words like that, and I, being the independent person I am, would rise to the occasion. "I don't owe you anything!"

Sesshoumaru glared at me, his eyes piercing through mine and into my soul. I hated it when he did that. "You owe this Sesshoumaru a debt, miko, one you will repay."

"You only saved me, you wanted to kill Naraku anyway, the fact that I distracted him should be your payment.."

Sesshoumaru snorted. "I saved you, your friends, and got some enjoyment out of it. I will not deny this, but you owe me your life."

I glared across at Sesshoumaru, begrudging him the fact that he was right, I did owe him my life, however badly I wanted to deny it. I stared at Sesshoumaru as the woman walked over to him, kneeling at his side and whispering in hushed, but worried tones. Her eyes continually flickered toward me. At the end of her speech, Sesshoumaru's eyes widened, his eyes flicked over to me, and I swear I could see his ear twitch as if to hear something in my direction better.

He said something in low tones, his eyes narrowing at the woman, his voice rising to where I could barely hear him.

"Are you certain of this, woman?" he asked.

She nodded minutely. If I hadn't been paying so much attention, I would have missed it.

"And you are sure of its cure?" he asked again. My ears hurt from straining to hear him.

I could hear the woman's sentence clearly, though it was muffled, the words quieter than I thought possible for me to hear. "Yes, my lord, the poison has entered her veins to a point where not even I can save her. She will die within the next few weeks, even with the ointment I have given you, unless she is mated to a youkai with venom running through his bloodline, and through his fangs."

"And how will this save her?" Sesshoumaru asked, his eyes flicked toward me again. He had probably heard my heart rate pick up even from as far away as he was.

I couldn't hear a lot of what she said, but what she did say gave me enough to fill in the blanks. I heard. "Bonding…causing immunity to venom…protection from…mate and less powerful…only thing…cure her."

Bonding with a powerful venomous youkai will release his blood into her veins, causing immunity to venom in order to provide protection from the venom of her mate and less powerful youkai. This is the only thing that will cure her.

Sesshoumaru turned his head towards me. I could see the curiosity his eyes held. I half expected him to turn to the woman and say, "Well, too bad, she's going to die." But I knew better. Sesshoumaru is a very determined person. If he saved you, you were going to live, no matter the cost. If he wanted you dead, you would die, no matter where you tried to run or hide. It was inevitable.

So the question I knew was running through his head was "Where will I find her this mate?"

As soon as the healer left, Sesshoumaru came over to me. He pulled me to my feet, putting a full kimono and some sandals in my hands. I looked up at him. "I don't know how to put these on," I told him truthfully. I'd never put on a traditional kimono before.

Sesshoumaru rolled his eyes, and maneuvered me around, putting the clothing on over the bandages. The last tie he couldn't do. The knot could only be done with two hands. Or so I thought. With a grace and speed acquired by practice, he tied the knot.

Then he turned and began to walk away. When I did not follow, he looked back at me. I took a few quick steps to stop to his right, just behind me. He moved me to his left, and I sent him a questioning look.

"The right is customarily the mate's position for a inu-youkai's pack." The daiyoukai told me.

I nodded. "Where are we going?"

"This one is taking you to a council meeting. Hopefully, we will find a powerful, venomous mate for you there, miko. After all, a hybrid is usually desirable, as the children will have the purity of the mother, and the impurity of the father mixed together. Your child will be guaranteed much power."

I looked at the floor for a few moments and contemplated this.

"And what happens if I do not find a suitable mate there?" I asked.

He glanced over his shoulder at me, assessing me. "Then this Sesshoumaru shall mate you," he told me.

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