Disclaimer: I do hereby disclaim all rights and responsibilities for the characters in this ridiculous excuse to goof off... especially for the one with excellent form. A nod of recognition is bent towards Rumiko Takahashi for her creative prowess.
A Note of Explanation: This story can pretty much be blamed on two solid weeks of watching the Winter Olympics that took place in Vancouver in February of 2010. Even if you don't love the Games, you probably wouldn't mind seeing Sesshoumaru in a speed skater's uniform... am I right? Thought so. This story will be short and sweet—seven chapters total, following the prompts of Dokuga Contest's Spectrum Challenge. Let the Games begin!
Chapter One: Olympic Trials
Sesshoumaru crouched at the starting line, the tip of one skate piercing the glass-like surface of the track. Muscles coiled. Breathing slowed. Senses vibrated. This is it. All or nothing.
His opponents tensed, and his eyes narrowed, focusing on the block at the beginning of the first turn. I will get there first. This race is mine.
According to all the commentators and prognosticators, Sesshoumaru Taishou was guaranteed a spot on the Olympic speed skating team, but their words were empty, useless things. If he made it onto their country's team—and ultimately onto the podium—it would be on the strength of his own efforts.
He'd heard it over and over. Fluid. Graceful. Effortless. They say I make it look easy, but that doesn't mean it is. Hours, days, weeks, months, years—he had sacrificed them all in order to stand here, on the cusp of victory. All to prove himself. All to live up to his father's legacy.
A shot rang through the arena, and Sesshoumaru surged forward, razor-sharp skates biting into the ice as he fought for speed. Though half of these rivals would become his teammates, for the moment, they were the enemy, and as far as he was concerned, they could chase him all the way to the finish. They will not pass. My track. My lead. My win.
Bent at the waist, he tucked his hand against his lower back so it anchored his long braid and found his rhythm, skimming across the ice with unrelenting confidence. Every angle was precision. Every turn was perfection.
He easily outdistanced the skaters in his heat, securing his rightful place on the squad. As he lazily glided through his victory lap, cat-slit golden eyes sought and found those of his half-brother, and he gave his chin a haughty lift. Top that, he silently challenged.
When Sesshoumaru stepped off the ice, Inuyasha slapped blade guards against his palm. "Decent time," he smirked. "But I can edge you out by two hundredths, easy."
"In your dreams," drawled Sesshoumaru.
The hanyou laid back his ears before settling his helmet into place and fastening the chin strap. "I'd have swept right past you on the bell lap," he casually remarked. "If the field had been any better, you might've had to try." Inuyasha gave his waist-length silver braid a toss before stepping onto the ice to warm up for his heat, which was next on the docket. Since flipping the bird was frowned upon by those who esteemed good sportsmanship, his half-brother had taken to flipping the braid instead. Sesshoumaru huffed, and Inuyasha grinned at him over his shoulder.
The Taishou brothers were infamous in speed skating circles, always competing against one another, always being compared. Sesshoumaru's form was flawless and his speed was enviable, but what Inuyasha lacked in grace, he made up for with guts. The hanyou's come-from-behind victories were legendary in the sport, and many an overconfident front-runner had been robbed of the laurels they were resting on when Inuyasha charged his way into a photo finish. People were hoping to see them go head-to-head during the Winter Games.
Sesshoumaru waited until Inuyasha looked his way again, then flipped his braid. Bring it, little brother.
Miroku studied the list on his clipboard with a pleased expression. "It's official, sir. Sesshoumaru, Kouga, Inuyasha, Naraku, Bankotsu, and Jakotsu—they're your team."
"Not a bad lot. Well, you'd best break the news to them."
"I think they're aware, Taishou-sama," the assistant coach chuckled, waving towards the rankings on the big board.
"No, no," tutted the powerfully-built inu-youkai. "I'm talking about my special condition."
"Ah... are you really going to make them do it?" Miroku asked worriedly.
"Of course! That was an integral part of the deal we made from the beginning. If these boys want to ride my coattails onto the world stage, they'll do exactly what I tell them to do... starting now."
"Are you sure you're not doing this just to piss off your eldest?"
Bronze-gold eyes flashed with amusement. "That's merely a perk."
"Look at them, sir," pleaded the young man. "You're demanding a huge sacrifice on their parts."
"Keh... sacrifice is required in order to compete at this level," declared the head coach of the newly-minted speed skating team. "They'll be unified in their misery... and any resulting rage will merely fuel their determination."
Miroku sighed and shook his head. "Has anyone ever told you your methods are unorthodox?"
A dangerous smile spread over the demon's face. "Unorthodox... but effective."
"Is it true your father is coming out of retirement to coach the team?" eagerly inquired Jakotsu as he skated alongside Inuyasha. "He's like... legendary!"
"Taishou-sama is the only demon to take the short track gold in three consecutive Olympics," Naraku smugly announced, his red eyes assessing his teammates with care.
"Which distances?" Bankotsu inquired.
"All of them," Sesshoumaru supplied with a superior tone.
"Yeah, yeah," Inuyasha shrugged. "My old man holds a few records, but don't start thinking that's gonna do you any good." He eyed the blue markings on Jakotsu's face and pointed out, "You only made the team because Renkotsu wiped out and took Suikotsu with him."
The auburn-haired quarter-youkai leaned close and murmured, "But I did make the team, dog-boy. That's all that matters."
"Yeah, well... he might be famous, but the old man'll harp on the basics and work our butts off just like any other coach. What's awesome is the fact that he convinced Totosai to work with us."
"Who's he?" Bankotsu asked curiously as they made another slow circuit of the track.
"Best in the business when it comes to blades," grinned Inuyasha.
"I heard his assistant coach is a human," Kouga interjected, pumping the hanyou for more information.
"Miroku's a reiki-user and a damn good one... so there'll be no cheating." The Olympic games were split. Humans competed as equals, and those of youkai descent competed on as level a playing field as possible. In mainstream sports, the competitors' pitted physical abilities against one another. Any attempt to enhance ones' performance by using youki resulted in immediate disqualification. Men and women with keen spiritual senses were often called upon to serve as referees in youkai sporting events, and smart teams trained with one in order to learn how to keep their auras under wraps. "Speak of the devil," Inuyasha added, pointing towards the man who beckoned to them from the sidelines.
"Congratulations, gentlemen," Miroku greeted as the six athletes lined up rink-side. "It looks as though you're already acquainted, so let's cut to the chase." He began distributing business cards. "Practice begins Monday morning at six. Don't bother to show up if you haven't seen her first."
Inuyasha scowled at the card. "What the hell?"
"Taishou-sama's orders," smiled Miroku, holding up two fingers demonstrably. "You'll need to be... ah... snip snip!"
Jakotsu's hands slowly dropped to cover his crotch. "Eh?"
"I'm confused." Bankotsu idly rubbed at the purple marking on his forehead and asked, "Why are we being referred to... a stylist?"
"Yura is very good, top notch," the assistant coach assured. "She's already been given coach's specifications, and she'll work with each of you to personalize as much as possible within those parameters."
Sesshoumaru unclenched his jaw long enough to ask for clarification. "What exactly did Father specify?"
"Haircuts," Miroku calmly replied. "Short haircuts."
"What if we don't want to cut our hair?" Bankotsu demanded.
"Then you're off the team."
"Are you serious?" gasped Jakotsu.
"Very." Miroku held up his clipboard. "I have the names of all the runners-up here, should you decide to give up your place on the team."
Sesshoumaru saw red. Literally. As his low growl built in volume, Inuyasha seized his arm and gave his half-brother a shake. "Get a grip! We've got until Monday to talk some sense into him."
Every member of the team turned hopeful gazes to the hanyou. "Do you think you can?" Jakotsu exclaimed.
The brothers exchanged a long look, and Inuyasha's ears drooped. "Nah... we're screwed."
End Note: Since I love the structure a challenge presents, each of the seven chapters of this story will follow the prompts of the Live Journal community dokuga(underscore)contest's Spectrum Challenge. This one was for Red, and was originally posted on Saturday, February 27, 2010. 1,335 words.