Disclaimer: I don't own InuYasha, Kagome, Sesshoumaru, or anyone else in the InuYasha universe, though I dream about it nightly.


CHAPTER 1 : FALLING

Explosions sounded all around Kagome as she raced towards the group's target. Just . . . a little . . . farther. . . No one noticed the miko from the future running as fast as possible towards the hanyou perched by the edge of the cliff. So she managed to get in pretty close before she felt a tentacle slither around her waist.

She felt her miko powers starting to rise to the surface, and she struggled with all her power to keep her powers from harming Naraku. She needed to get close in order for her plan to work. It was the only way she knew she could help.

"Did you think you could sneak up on me, little miko?" Naraku's voice had always given her the chills, but this close almost made her shudder. The tentacle drew her up until her face was just a foot away from his. "Did you think a copy like you could possibly defeat someone like me?"

Years ago when Kagome had first arrived in the Feudal Era, something like that would have caused her to lose control. Now, she had grown accustomed to her station as a replica of Kikyo. "I can, and I will." Kagome managed, though the tentacles were quickly squeezing the air from her lungs.

"How can you do what countless others have not done?" Naraku asked with a laugh. "How many times have you tried, only to fail at the last possible moment?"

Kagome couldn't let his words sink in. Desperately, she tried to ignore him. Behind her, she could hear her friends' reaction to her predicament.

"He's got Kagome!"

"InuYasha, don't use the windscar! You might hit Kagome!"

"Kagome!"

The direct fighting with Naraku slowly broke off as Naraku waved her around into the path of any attack her friends tried. No! You need to fight! Somebody keep going! Quit worrying about me and go!

Then suddenly, Naraku cried out in pain. Kagome opened her eyes to see Sesshoumaru hovering over Naraku, Tokijin in hand. Kagome smiled in relief as she heard her friends screaming at Sesshoumaru for placing her in danger, but she couldn't have cared less. Kagome turned her gaze on Sesshoumaru, and saw the understanding of her tactics there. He nodded, and she couldn't help but smile. "What are you so happy about, wench?" Naraku demanded.

Kagome looked straight into his eyes. "I know how to kill you." She whispered, a smile on her face.

With a snarl, Naraku threw her into the tree line, and she stopped only when she hit a tree with enough force. She started to fall to the ground, and she internally groaned as she prepared to hit the ground. Instead, she found herself gripped by a strong and unrelenting hand. It slowed her descent, until her feet touched the ground. She crumpled to the ground, gasping for breath. Pain spread through her chest, and she was sure she'd broken at least one rib. But she couldn't stop, not now, when winning would be so crucial. And they desperately needed her to win.

"Miko, I would suggest you execute your plan quickly."

Kagome looked up at the person who had saved her and felt a shock run through her when she saw Sesshoumaru. She quickly shook herself. "Yes, Sesshoumaru-sama."

Sesshoumaru nodded and disappeared, his tremendous speed making it seem as though he had teleported from her side to the battle.

Gasping in pain, Kagome slowly stood, ignoring the cries of her friends for her to simply rest. She had a duty, one that she couldn't ignore, not now. On unsteady feet, she rushed forward again, this time warily avoiding the tentacles that tried to reach her. But they were mostly half-hearted attempts, since most of Naraku's focus was on InuYasha and Sesshoumaru. Why pay attention to a barely trained miko whose only powers were sensing and purifying the Shikon no Tama and shooting mediocre holy power boosted arrows?

Kagome knew that being underestimated was a good thing at this point. If Naraku didn't think she was a danger, than she would be able to get to her goal. Provided, of course, that the others could manage to distract him long enough.

Somehow, they did. Within a minute, Kagome was directly behind Naraku. Now she could only pray her plan worked. "Naraku!" She shouted.

Naraku half-turned, his face a picture of shock that she had managed to sneak up behind him. Before he could do anything, or even say a word, Kagome had pulled her Shikon shards from the vial around her neck. "If you want these shards, you're going to have to take them now." She shouted. "Because if not, you'll be dead."

Naraku laughed. "You think you could kill me? Kikyo stood a better chance, and I killed her without a second thought."

Kagome stared at him coolly as she strung an arrow. "I am not Kikyo." She fired, knowing that it would do absolutely no good. But it wasn't meant to.

Naraku easily dodged the arrow and surged forward, abandoning his fight with InuYasha and Sesshoumaru. Kagome had expected it, but was still surprised when Naraku slammed into, several tentacles engulfing her. "I wonder what it will be like to have miko powers as well as demonic ones."

Kagome could feel panic trying to bubble up. This was not a part of her plan. Naraku was supposed to try to kill her, not try to engulf her. Kagome could feel her powers raging out of control, and for a moment, she thought she would lose it.

Then she felt it. The Shikon no Tama, hidden within Naraku's body, pulsed in her mind's eye. Kagome smiled slightly as she felt it grow closer. The Shikon no Tama was the most important thing at the moment. What happened to her didn't matter.

Kagome slowly reached out a hand, and a part of her brain screamed that her hand shouldn't be so transparent. Her hand clasped around Naraku's portion of the Shikon no Tama, and it shone brightly. Kagome couldn't help but smile as the shards around her neck joined with the ones inside Naraku. Before her eyes, a shadowy figure rose. "What is your wish, daughter?"

Kagome's eyes met those of Midoriko, and she knew the wish she had to make. Mentally, she thanked her grandfather for all those times he'd insisted on telling her the old legends. "I wish for the Shikon no Tama to disappear forever."

Midoriko smiled, and began to fade. "A wise choice, my daughter."

Kagome felt the Shikon no Tama in her hand dissolve away into nothing. Abruptly, she suddenly didn't feel so at ease. Suddenly the inside of Naraku wasn't a void of nothingness, but actually physical space. And it was gross and suffocating.

-------------------------------------------------------Sesshoumaru-------------------------------------------------------

Sesshoumaru had watched the girl sneak behind Naraku, and had approved of her strategy. However, he could not understand why she ruined the surprise attack by calling to the deranged hanyou and purposely gaining his attention.

When the hanyou turned to the girl, effectively ignoring him, the taiyoukai had been livid. No one ignored him. Especially not a hanyou with so little power that he needed a jewel to enhance his own abilities. But seeing as how he was currently engaged with Kagura, Hakudoshi, and several tentacles, there wasn't much he could do about it. This fact only served to infuriate him further.

He had seen when the hanyou had attacked the miko, and he felt a surge of annoyance. He knew as well as any person that the only person who could rid the world of the Shikon no Tama was the miko who was both the descendant of the ancient priestess Midoriko and the reincarnation of the jewel's previous keeper. And the foolish girl had allowed herself to be swallowed up by the hanyou. He channeled his aggravation into his next attack, effectively killing Hakudoshi with a strike from Tokijin.

Kagura should have been his next target, but when he turned to the wind witch, he found her on the ground. He looked at her curiously as she clutched at her chest, shock written on her face. He came closer, tensed for an attack. It was then that he heard it: Kagura's heart.

A smile over took her face, and the wind witch laughed. "I'm free." She whispered. "After all this time, I'm finally free." Before anyone could really react, she pulled out a feather and rose into the air. "I consider our association ended." She raced away before Naraku could realize what had happened.

Interesting. Sesshoumaru looked over at Naraku, and saw that the miasma he was so proud of was dissipating into the air. The hanyou was glowing softly, and the group around him watched as the glow grew brighter. "No!" Naraku shouted, desperately trying to remain in control. "NO!"

The light exploded, and the spot where Narkau stood was suddenly alight with holy power. Anyone with any youkai abilities could feel the intensity of it, and even Sesshoumaru had to fight the instinctual urge to step back. The miko energy swirled, and Naraku's screams echoed. Dark spots, which Sesshoumaru presumed were pieces of Naraku, were purified in an instant. Soon, pure white light pulsated in place, except for one humanoid dark spot.

After what seemed like hours to the youkai surrounding the cliff, but in reality was only a few seconds, the light began to fade. The dark spot in the center became more detailed, until Sesshoumaru could at last discern the features of the Shikon miko. She swayed, obviously having used all of her power in her endeavor to eliminate the hanyou. There was only a moment more before she fell to the ground, exhausted.

Sesshoumaru watched as InuYasha and the girl's other companions raced forward to be at her side. InuYasha shook her harshly. "Kagome! Kagome!"

The young kitsune began to cry. "She's dead! Kagome's dead!"

Sesshoumaru resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "Yet again, InuYasha, you prove your unworthiness." He jerked his head towards the miko. "Can you not smell that she is alive? Or is it perhaps your hearing that is deficient?"

InuYasha growled at his half brother, but didn't say anything. "Kagome, you need to wake up." He whispered.

Sesshoumaru knew it was unwise for the hanyou to wake the miko, but he let his brother make a fool of himself. After all, he did not care about the miko or his hanyou brother. All he cared about was that the Shikon no Tama was truly gone.

"We should get her to the village nearby." The monk's calm voice cut off InuYasha's cries. "It will be easier for her to recover there."

InuYasha nodded and picked up the miko. "You guys catch up later." With that, he was off running, rushing passed his hated half brother without so much as a glance.

Sesshoumaru could feel nothing but contempt as his half brother raced to the village, treating the miko as if she were as delicate as fine china. She was only a human. For one of his family to care so much for one made Sesshoumaru want to kill something. And as there was a lack of evil hanyous nearby, he would have to go hunting.

With a growl, Sesshoumaru headed for the nearby forest. It was interesting to see that the hanyou was so much like their father, and yet not. He, for one, was almost glad that he was nothing like the Great Dog Demon, InuTaisho. No human would ever take his heart.

-------------------------------------------------------Kagome-------------------------------------------------------

Kagome woke slowly, blinking her eyes as light filtered into them. She quickly shut them against the sudden flood of light and groaned. She heard something rustling beside her, and turned her head to the source of the noise. Something bright red blocked her view of the room, and for a moment, all she could think of was that there was a giant tomato next to her.

That is, until her brain recalled that tomatoes did not grow into hanyou shaped forms. She sat up abruptly, then fell back with a groan as the world swirled around her.

"Stupid wench." InuYasha growled. "What'd ya do that for?"

Kagome ignored him, preferring to whimper as her ribs reminded her of the abuse they'd suffered. InuYasha glared at her before rising and leaving. Kagome guessed that he had probably gone in search of Kaede. She forced herself not to cry as she waited, though it was a hard fight. Broken ribs hurt.

"I did not know humans were so fragile." Kagome forced herself to sit up, biting her lip against the pain it caused her. She looked up to see Sesshoumaru in the doorway.

Kagome tried to force herself to smile, but she was reaching the end of her abilities to force herself. So instead, she nodded her head. "To what do I owe this honor, Sesshoumaru-sama?"

Sesshoumaru glowered down at her. "You will answer this Sesshoumaru's questions."

Kagome nodded, though internally she wanted to berate him for ordering her around when simply asking would have been perfectly fine. "Ask away, Sesshoumaru-sama. I will answer to the best of my abilities."

"Why did you intentionally provoke an attack from Naraku?"

Kagome grinned sheepishly. "Well, I had a plan on how to deal with him. He forgot to follow the script." Seeing Sesshoumaru's look of confusion, Kagome elaborated. "I thought he'd just use his tentacles. I didn't realize that he was going to tackle me."

"So the original plan of yours was what?"

"I wanted to get his attention long enough for the two of you to get close and deal the killing blow. Or at least damage him enough that I could remove the Shikon no Tama from him." Kagome explained.

Sesshoumaru nodded, as if approving her plan. She supposed it was something very close to a compliment, coming from him. "Where is the Shikon no Tama now?"

Kagome smiled, and Sesshoumaru blinked. "The Shikon no Tama isn't going to trouble anyone anymore." Kagome said.

Sesshoumaru's stare didn't move, and Kagome guessed he wanted a more detailed explanation than that. "I had the completed Shikon no Tama in my hand while inside Naraku, and I made the only unselfish wish I could think of."

Sesshoumaru was silent for a moment, looking as though he was very deep in thought. So Kagome was startled when he spoke again. "What was your wish?"

"I wished that the Shikon no Tama would disappear forever." Kagome answered. "It's very nature demanded that it disappear after that."

"YOU DID WHAT!"

Kagome barely had time to register the yell before she was pinned against the side of Kaede's hut. She looked up into a pair of bleeding amber eyes. For a moment, she was frozen as the clawed hand at her throat drew blood. "What gave you the right to take my wish!"

Kagome finally found her voice, but her mind was still in turmoil. "InuYasha, I-"

He didn't give her a chance to explain. With a single push, Kagome felt herself shoved through the wall of Kaede's home. Her ribs screamed in protest, and when she landed, so did her arm. She stood quickly to see an aggravated hanyou stepping through the hole she'd made. His eyes were completely red now, and Kagome realized that he was no longer in control.

Ignoring her own pain, she started to run.

-------------------------------------------------------Sesshoumaru-------------------------------------------------------

To say that Sesshoumaru was stunned when InuYasha attacked the miko was an understatement. The miko was the very reason the hanyou was able to use the Tetsusaiga, because of his desire to protect her. He had protected her, with varying success, from every enemy that had tried to kidnap, use, manipulate, or kill her.

And yet in one single moment, over something as ridiculous as the Shikon no Tama, the idiotic boy had thrown all of that away. The sheer stupidity of the act shocked him into paralysis for the time it took InuYasha to shove the miko in question through the wall.

By the time he had shaken himself from his stupor, the miko had started to run. Sesshoumaru had to wonder about the woman's intelligence. Didn't she know that running alone only aggravated the instincts of a predator? And though a hanyou, InuYasha still had those instincts buried deep in his mind. Very deep.

InuYasha darted forward, and without a second thought, Sesshoumaru followed after him. He had heard that his brother had wanted to use the Shikon no Tama in order to become human. After being released from his imprisonment, he'd wanted to use that same power to become a full demon. Could it be possible that that desire was stronger than the one to protect the priestess to whom he owed his life?

And so he followed InuYasha as he followed the miko's trail. He was quickly catching up, and Sesshoumaru knew the miko stood no chance. He followed more closely, unwilling to intercede unless absolutely necessary.

The hanyou managed to catch the miko in the clearing surrounding the Bone Eaters Well. "Trying to escape, wench?" Sesshoumaru was surprised to hear the hanyou speak. He didn't recall him doing so the last time his blood had surged out of control.

"InuYasha." The miko whispered. "Please."

"You took our choice away." InuYasha growled. "It's only fitting we take away yours."

"You said you didn't want it anymore." The wench tried again. "You were alright with-"

"IT WAS MY WISH!" InuYasha roared. "MINE!" He lunged forward again.

Sesshoumaru expected this to be the miko's end, but it appeared that this time, she was ready. "Sit!" She shouted.

Sesshoumaru watched as InuYasha was forced into the ground, and he wondered why the human girl had not done so sooner. But he soon saw that instead of continuing an assault, the woman started running again.

Sesshoumaru shook his head. Once again, she ran away. Why did she not simply kill the hanyou? It would definitely simplify things. He followed after her, knowing that InuYasha would soon be behind him.

He wasn't disappointed. The miko only made it the area overlooking the nearby lake before InuYasha caught up once again. "Running won't get you anywhere, you pathetic bitch." InuYasha snarled.

"Sit!"

It was apparent to Sesshoumaru that the miko was at the end of her rope. She couldn't run anymore, and pain was obvious in both her scent and her face. "InuYasha, please, don't do this." She called.

"You deserve to die!" InuYasha jumped forward, and the miko took an involuntary step back before falling back to her trump card.

"Sit!"

InuYasha crashed down, but it was already too late. The miko's step had placed her on the very edge of the cliff face. As InuYasha slammed into the ground, the cliff decided it had suffered enough abuse. Sesshoumaru heard an audible crack as the edge of the cliff broke off from the rest of it. The miko's face filled with shock as the ground beneath her feet fell away.

-------------------------------------------------------Kagome-------------------------------------------------------

It was an interesting feeling, knowing that she was going to die. Kagome had originally run to the well, until she remembered that InuYasha could pass through. She couldn't expose her family to this. She would never forgive herself.

She wondered what exactly she had been thinking when she ran to the cliff. It was the same one she'd sat InuYasha from when she'd first arrived, before the two of them had begun hunting for the Shikon shards. Perhaps she thought the memory would joggle him from his blood lust? She couldn't remember now.

The earth fell out from beneath her, and Kagome couldn't bring herself to be afraid. It wasn't that far down, and maybe she'd live long enough to see InuYasha again. The real InuYasha, not the blood seeking beast in front of her. It would be nice. Maybe he'd even tell her he was sorry. . .

It was then that she noticed something was wrong. If she was falling, then shouldn't she be going straight down? Or in some kind of general downward direction? The new edge of the cliff should definitely not be getting closer to her.

And yet, apparently it was. It was then that she finally noticed the arm securely gripped her waist. As well as the demonic cloud that had formed below her feet. Hesitantly, she looked to see where the arm came from, already half knowing to whom it belonged. But that still didn't stop the shock she felt when she looked up to see Sesshoumaru bringing her back up the cliff side.

"Sesshoumaru-sama, what-"

Sesshoumaru cut her off with a glare, and she shivered, not entirely from the cold. She shut her mouth, aware that she would only annoy the demon lord. It was not something she wanted to do, especially when they were in midair.

They landed on the cliff, and Kagome was quick to step away from the inuyoukai. She focused her attention on InuYasha, who was currently snarling at Sesshoumaru. "Don't interfere with my kill!"

Sesshoumaru responded with characteristic indifference. "Your kill, hanyou? I believe this Sesshoumaru was the first to claim her as such."

Kagome stared at him. When had he . . . she had a sudden flashback to a certain demonic graveyard, where a naïve and idiotic girl had thought it was a good idea to get involved in a fight between the two brothers. Yup, he had definitely tried to kill her then. She still had nightmares about being trapped in his poisonous goo.

InuYasha snarled. "She was my prey long before she was yours!"

Once again, Kagome was confused. That is, until she remember her first meeting with InuYasha. Yup, he'd definitely tried to kill her too. That was how he got the beads of subjugation that currently lay around his neck.

Sesshoumaru scoffed. "You dismissed that claim when you began to protect her, half breed."

Needless to say, Kagome was more than a bit uncomfortable with the current conversation. "Um, excuse me-"

InuYasha roared, then charged forward, this time aiming for Sesshoumaru. Kagome couldn't tell for certain, but she could swear she saw Sesshoumaru sigh as he easily dodged InuYasha's attack. He locked eyes with Kagome, and she found she couldn't move. "Miko, retrieve the hanyou's sword."

Kagome blinked, then nodded. "Yes, Sesshoumaru-sama." She ran, praying that Sesshoumaru wouldn't kill InuYasha while she was gone.

-------------------------------------------------------Sesshoumaru-------------------------------------------------------

Sesshoumaru watched the woman go before turning back to his brother. The hanyou was picking himself up and shaking himself. The red in his eyes had lessened somewhat, and it appeared he was returning to himself. Sesshoumaru waited to see what would happen.

"Stay out of it, Sesshoumaru." InuYasha growled

Sesshoumaru raised an eyebrow. As if he'd allow InuYasha of all people to give him orders. "Explain your actions half breed."

"She knew I wanted it!" InuYasha shouted. Sesshoumaru grimaced as he watched InuYasha's eyes redden again. Perhaps it wasn't the best way to try and calm his half brother. "She knew the Shikon no Tama was my only chance. And she took it from me!"

Definitely not the right choice. Sesshoumaru thought, as the markings on InuYasha's face began to appear. He was only getting the hanyou more worked up. Normally, from what he knew of InuYasha, whenever he was agitated, he would simply attack the closest thing that annoyed him.

Sesshoumaru smirked. Now that was a plan he liked. Especially since it involved beating the hanyou senseless. He settled into a crouch and waited for InuYasha to rise. He didn't have to wait long.

Sesshoumaru struck then, knocking InuYasha over the edge of the cliff and into the lake. He followed him down, waiting at the edge of the lake with a smirk. "How pathetic, little brother."

InuYasha snarled as he stood. By now, he was too far gone for even words. He lunged forward, and Sesshoumaru dodged. He quickly whirled, expecting InuYasha to attack again. Instead, he saw the hanyou leaping up the side of the cliff and heading into the woods. Sesshoumaru cursed as he raced after him. To think, he was outwitted by an instinct-driven demonically possessed hanyou. He was really slipping. And slipping was what got you killed.

Sesshoumaru nearly snarled when he saw InuYasha catch the scent catch the scent he knew he was looking for. If that miko got herself killed, it would be his fault for allowing the hanyou to slip passed him. He added an extra burst of speed and managed to slam his brother into the ground seconds before the woman entered with the Tetsusaiga.

"Sesshoumaru, move." Sesshoumaru stared up in shock at the woman who dared to order him. She took one look at him and sighed. "You can't touch Tetsusaiga. You need to move so I can get it to InuYasha."

"He will attack you."

The miko shook her head with a sad smile. "His demon half doesn't like Tetsusaiga, since it seals it away." She sighed as she stared down at the inuhanyou beneath Sesshoumaru. "I wish there was a way he could let out his demonic half without him going on a killing rampage."

Once again, Sesshoumaru worked to conceal his surprise. "You do not fear his other half?"

The woman glared at him. "Of course I do. But only because it insists on going on a killing rampage ever time it gets loose." She came closer, ignoring the snarls from the trapped hanyou. "It's a part of who he is, and he is a very dear friend to me. How could I possibly hate it?"

Sesshoumaru didn't know how to answer that. So instead he moved from his position on the hanyou. The miko stepped forward as InuYasha shot up, her eyes clashing with his as she held the sword out. "Take the sword."

InuYasha snarled and took a step back. Sesshoumaru raised an eyebrow. Apparently, the miko had been correct in her assessment of the hanyou's fear.

The miko stepped forward again. "Take. The. Sword. Now."

The hanyou turned away and tried to run, but the miko shouted out the cursed word. "SIT!"

Sesshoumaru smirked as InuYasha slammed into the ground. He'd seen her do this several times in the time he'd spent with the group, and he doubted he would ever grow tired of it.

The miko quickly went to the hanyou's side and placed the sword in his hand. After a moment, the sword pulsed softly. The red in InuYasha's eyes bled away, and his markings faded. It wasn't long until the hanyou was back to his originally disgusting half breed form.

The miko stood and winced, cluthing her side. Sesshoumaru stared at her until he remembered that she had been injured. He had to admit, he was a bit impressed by the miko's dedication. Instead of collapsing, she'd kept on to help his brother.

"Sesshoumaru-sama." He turned as the miko called his name. "Thank you. I know that you neither want nor appreciate my thanks, but I had to say it."

Sesshoumaru merely nodded, accepting the thanks. He heard the hanyou groan, and the miko turned back to him. She winced again as she twisted her ribs the wrong way, but still tried to get closer to the hanyou. She took one step before her legs gave out, sending her plummeting to the ground.

It took Sesshoumaru a moment to realize that he'd caught her. He blinked as he tried to remember moving, and found that he couldn't. Catching the small woman had been instinctive.

The woman in question steadied herself as Sesshoumaru released her. She looked up at him and smiled. "We seem to be making a routine of this." Sesshoumaru was utterly confused, but didn't show it on his face. But perhaps he had not done as well as he'd hoped, because the miko was quick to explain. "I keep falling, and you always seem to be around to catch me."

Sesshoumaru turned his characteristic scowl on her. "The matter is entirely coincidental, and will not be repeated in the future."

Kagome just smiled. "I'll thank you anyway, Sesshoumaru-sama."

---------------------------------------------------Author's Rant---------------------------------------------------

Obsessive_Goddess: I'm back!

Sesshoumaru: You are the reason I despise humans.

Kagome: You heard that! It's your fault he tried to kill me the first time he saw me!

Obsessive_Goddess: I hate to break it to you, but both the anime and the manga were finished by the time I started writing fanfics. I am in no way responsible for his behavior.

Horse Wolves: Can I say something?

Sesshoumaru: No you may not-

Obsessive_Goddess: BAD DOG! [Sesshoumaru slams into the ground] Just because Crime and Punishment is over doesn't mean I'm not going to punish you!

Kagome: But it's a new fic! That shouldn't still work!

Horse Wolves: Just go along with it, Kagome. I stopped trying to make sense of her a long time ago.

Obsessive_Goddess: Is there anybody excited that I finally started a new multi-chapter fic? [silence] Thanks. Thanks a lot. I hate you all!

---------------------------------------------------End of Author's Rant---------------------------------------------------