Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha.

A/N: This oneshot was written for Skye's weekly challenge: Pledge.

Kagome shifted closer to Inuyasha as they crossed into the village that they were hoping to buy a bite to eat from. They'd been travelling basically nonstop for a week, with Inuyasha only allowing them short naps, telling them that he felt uneasy for reasons he refused to disclose.

This village appeared normal enough if a little run down and poor, on the outside, but Miroku had been dubious, telling them he sensed an 'ominous cloud' over the village – reiterating that he was completely serious this time around.

But he was right, the people here were abnormal. They paid no attention to the strange group, didn't bat an eyelid at the Hanyou, didn't flinch at the Miko's strange dress and paid no mind to the monk and his wandering eyes and hands.

It was strange.

Uneasily, the group asked the woman at the inn for a room for the night, she acquiesced vacantly, her eyes didn't seem to even reflect the light but her mannerisms were guilty, like she was hiding something.

Though Inuyasha was still feeling uppity about having to stay in an inn he didn't trust for a night, the pleas of his tired, hungry and petulant comrades somehow made him come around to their way of thinking. It might have had something to do with receiving a healthy dosage of sittings as well.

Shifting restlessly on the futon, Kagome huddled into a ball as she gazed out into the small garden outside the room they had bought. Sango was slumbering contentedly on her side with Kirara curled up on her hip.

Wind whispered through the room and Kagome shrunk back into her futon like a turtle.

"I hate this!" she lamented softly, pummelling the pillow with a small fist as she tried to get comfortable and ignore the feeling that something was amiss.

A creaking of a wooden floor, a tinkle of a protection charm and the glow of an iridescent light drew Kagome's attention to the hallway.

Was someone there?

Sitting up uncertainly, she glowered at the door, hand patting the tatami mat beneath her in search of her bow and quiver. When her fingers closed around the smooth wood of her bow she smirked in triumph, but quickly paled when she realised that she could now see the shadow of a man lurking behind the screen door.

A peeping tom? Or something more sinister?

Climbing from her futon she carefully secured the yukata that she'd been given to sleep in, before arming herself, making sure her quiver was slung over her shoulder. Donning the tabi and pokkuri that had been left out for her, she gently banged the tips of each pokkuri on the wooden floor.

"Three, two, one," she mumbled, before roughly shunting the sliding door open, and peering out into the darkness beyond.

The corridor was completely deserted the torch brackets in the walls doing little to illuminate the long stretch of hallway. She frowned at that; since when had the corridor been so long?

Stepping out uncertainly, and quashing the little voice in the back of her head that insisted this mightn't be the best idea she'd ever had, she took up an archer's stance in the corridor. The tip of her arrow illuminated with her power and she shifted uneasily when it didn't even begin to penetrate the darkness.

"Is someone there?" she asked, trying to sound fearless but instead sounding frightened, her voice breaking.

"Goody," a voice muttered into her ear as her mouth was covered by a handkerchief, "we caught one."

As her vision swam, she lashed out with her hands and her bow, triumphant when she collided with someone but, as the light faded, she resigned herself to unconsciousness.

"She'll please the boss," another voice interrupted.

"And she packs a punch," another grumbled.

"Wait, what do we have here? Aren't these shards of the shikon jewel, they'll fetch a high price."

Kagome woke up to the feeling of her chest being restricted and balked, flailing out with her arms and catching the person nearest to her on the chin.

"Stop it!" a woman's voice scolded in a whisper, and Kagome felt her hands being clasped together gently.

Bleary eyes focused on the woman and Kagome sat up a little straighter.

"What's going on?" she mumbled groggily. Where were her jewel shards? Why couldn't she feel them around her neck?

"I have to prepare you," the same voice informed her urgently, Kagome vaguely registered that she'd been helped to her feet and was being dressed hurriedly in a furisode.

"Prepare?" she asked, eyes focusing on the torch held to the wall nearby.

"I'm sorry," the woman uttered, deftly securing the knot on her obi before pulling Kagome's unruly hair up and securing it with opulent looking hairpieces.

"For what?" Kagome asked, squinting uncomfortably as the woman painted her face.

"You'll see," she muttered, yanking Kagome's hand and pulling her over to a door.

An ugly man peered inside, Kagome flinched and then scowled as she sensed that he was carrying her shards on his person. "She ready?"

The woman, who Kagome realised was dressed in a rather gaudy kimono that was similar to her own, averted her gaze and nodded.

"Goody," he sneered, the look he gave Kagome made her shudder in revulsion.

And then something clicked.

"You kidnapped me!" she shrieked, lashing out as he attempted to take hold of her, "get away from me!"

Chuckling, he swept her up and over his shoulder and Kagome cursed the day she had decided against asking Sango for self-defence training.

He carried her for a short trip, all the while ignoring her as she beat her fists on his back and kicked out dangerously with her legs.

Abruptly she was released, and with a patronising pat on her ass, she tumbled head over ass into a room filled with other gaudily dressed women. The pitying looks made her balk, and as soon as it occurred to her she spun to try and get back out of the entrance.

The door slid shut with a dull thud. Like the bars sliding shut on a prison cell.

His chuckle made her want to throw her pokkuri at his smug head. Damn him for being human and purification-proof.

The women seemed resigned as they looked at her, and Kagome realised belatedly that they were in some kind of platform-cage.

"It's so the customers can see the merchandise," one woman explained sombrely.

"Merchandise?" Kagome parroted slowly, she could sense what was coming and she shied away from it.

"This is a brothel," the woman admitted softly, ashamed eyes averting their stare to the floor.

Kagome's heart sunk in her chest and she glanced around wildly, glowering at the men who were spilling in through the front door.

A hand came down on her shoulder.

"If you fight, they'll punish you," the woman warned in an undertone.

"What about the inn?" she demanded tensely, "and that subdued feeling village."

"The village is in debt, the brothel agreed to pay as long as they could keep tricking new travellers into being captured," another woman explained, her eyes bitter. She had obviously been ensnared.

"So my friends will be okay?" Kagome pushed.

"There have been no other new arrivals, they were probably left alone."

Great! Where was Inuyasha when she needed him?

Sesshoumaru, propped up against a tree and staring into the inky sky, ignored the approaching youki as best as he could. Until the Yokai was right on top of him and annoying him with his proximity.

"Sesshoumaru?" the male Yokai approached the lord stealthily from the forest.

"Speak. I have no patience for fools," Sesshoumaru instructed, still appearing as relaxed as ever.

"Keiji, the Kitsune who pledged to stay as your loyal servant and betrayed you..." the Yokai muttered, "he is near, visiting a human brothel."

Golden eyes flicked in the demon's direction and the demon gulped as Sesshoumaru pulled his lips back off his teeth in an approximation of a smile.


Kagome scowled unhappily as she pushed herself to the back of the 'cage'. The men who had come were all requesting women, the only Yokai of the group seeming to take his time. She wished he'd pick her so she could purify something but at the same time she really didn't want to be chosen.

With a belly that protruded at least a metre before him, a face that resembled a bulldog's, and thighs as wide as her hip span, the man who walked up to the cage next was not the man Kagome wanted to lose her virginity to.

Shrinking back, she tried to look as small as was humanly possible, but only succeeded in attracting his attention.

"That one there," he grunted to the pig-headed man who had been throwing her around like a rag doll all night.

Yelping as the man ducked inside to grab her, she kicked out and dratted herself vehemently when she suddenly found her ankle ensconced within his grip.

Shrieking the entire way, she was dragged across the tatami mats on her bottom and thrown outside the 'cage' at the man's feet.

Bulldog-face proceeded to leer at her and, grasping her painfully around the upper arm, he towed her behind him to one of the pre-prepared rooms. Attempting to prise he wrist free was like trying to rid herself of an iron shackle, kicking him was like trying to move a mountain and any chance of escape was rapidly dwindling.

Tossed onto the futon, Kagome scowled up at him from underneath her ramshackle hair as it slipped from its fastenings.

"Now, play nice and this won't hurt as much," he chuckled.

"Argh!" she cried, kicking out, she caught him in the stomach but only succeeded in hurting her foot. He chuckled at her futile attempts to escape.

Well... hopefully he'd crush her before he defiled her, that way she didn't have to live through it. Her panicked mind was not making the utmost sense and she balked as he reached down to her furisode.

But, before he could touch her, they were interrupted by someone's timely arrival.

She winced at the deafening crashing sound and then snarls filled the air, making the man hovering over her pause in his debauchery to unsheathe the short sword at his hip.

"What's going on?" he roared angrily, spittle flying from his mouth.

There was ominous quiet for a moment, before Kagome balked at the feeling of a very familiar youki spiking in the next room.

Barely having enough time to scramble backwards on the futon, Kagome just managed to whisk her legs from the path of two demons who exploded from the room adjacent to theirs.

Her companion, however, was not so lucky and was swept away in the onslaught of the warring demons' fight. The only thing that was left behind to show he had ever been there was his short sword, lying impotent on the destroyed wooden floor.

They carved a steady path straight through into the next room, clashes of swords and snarls mitigating into a cacophony of sounds that had the other women in the brothel screaming.

Once she snapped out of the jubilant daze she'd been in since she'd been inadvertently rescued, Kagome snatched up the sword and made her way out into the main area of the brothel in time to confirm her suspicions.

The youki she had sensed had indeed belonged to Sesshoumaru and, at present, he was attempting to slay the demon she had seen perusing the women before. Now she could see his tails protruding from his hakama; he was Kitsune.

"Sesshoumaru!" she yelled joyfully, balking somewhat at the glare he flicked in her direction. Ah, yes, she'd forgotten in her euphoria at being saved that Sesshoumaru didn't like her very much.

Coming to her senses, she made her way to the caged area, nimbly wading through the proprietors and maintainers of the brothel, who were all too entertained by the fight to notice her. The cage was very easy to open from the outside and she quickly allowed the women who would leave to leave.

Fear made some stay, debt made others remain, but she didn't have time for that right now: she needed to find her jewel shards.

Which meant, unfortunately, that she needed to locate the oaf who'd knocked her out before. Obscuring the sword from plain sight in her obi, she focused on the pull she could feel from the shards.

Ducking as wooden shrapnel flew past her head, she edged closer to where she could sense the taint of the jewel shards emanating from.

She'd never been a very good pickpocket, though the skill would probably come in useful when her group was low on funds, but now she was going to have to try and do this without attracting his attention.

Why hasn't he used them yet? She mused as she carefully slipped her hand into the folds of his sleeve and yanked her little vial free with deft fingers.

Unfortunately, she hadn't been as subtle as she'd supposed, and, so fast she barely saw it, he'd grabbed her by the throat, knocking the jewel shards to the floor and pinning her against the wooden wall.

"Where do you think you're going?" he growled, irked when her attention seemed to be elsewhere. In fact, her attention was trained on the little rolling bottle of shards that was making its way to the Kitsune's feet.

The fight between Sesshoumaru and the unknown Kitsune seemed to be on hold whilst they argued.

"Why do you come here tonight?" the Kitsune demanded lowly, clutching at a gash in his side that had been given to him by Sesshoumaru's poison whip.

"For you, betrayer," Sesshoumaru drawled coldly, flipping his silver hair over his shoulder haughtily.

"Betrayer?" the Kitsune chuckled, "there was a time when you called me brother."

"That time passed, waning as your loyalties did, Keiji," Sesshoumaru snapped, his whip snapping out reflexively, causing the Kitsune to step to the side, his ankle knocking against the vile of shards.

Ah, crap he noticed. Kagome fretted.

Bull-dog face, disconcerted by being ignored by a woman, tightened his grip on Kagome's throat and lifted her off of the floor so that she couldn't even skim the flooring with her tip-toes.

Okay, so now she was paying attention. She wrapped her hands around his massive forearm and kicked out, trying to catch him somewhere painful, but failing.

"Oh?" Keiji intoned softly, "jewel shards? What a lovely gift."

"Coward," Sesshoumaru scoffed, unsheathing Bakusaiga deftly.

"Don't you dare!" the out of breath Miko yelped at the Kitsune, her eyes flashing dangerously, "that's... cheating."

It was getting harder to breathe, she noted as she watched the Kitsune gleefully utilise the shards. Bastard.

Now, where Sesshoumaru had been winning clearly, it was a tight and deadly battle. With all her confidence in Sesshoumaru's ability to eviscerate, Kagome couldn't predict the outcome.

Kagome's hand folded around the hilt of her obscured sword as she tried to keep from suffocating in the man's grasp. She just needed to wait a little while longer.


The Kitsune had given her his back, and that was all she needed.

Before the man pinning her even realised she was wielding a sword, she'd flung it with deadly accuracy at the Kitsune with the jewel shards.

Like her arrows, she'd somehow managed to instinctively infuse the sword with her Miko ki and she grinned triumphantly as he purified with a scream. Leaving her shards behind.

Sesshoumaru watched his opponent turn to dust before him with displeased eyes. The Miko thought to take his kill from him? Then he would take hers from her.

Kagome dropped to her knees on the floor gratefully, gasping and panting to regain much needed oxygen.

She looked around for her former assailant, and immediately wished she hadn't. It appeared Sesshoumaru had decapitated him with his whip. Her stomach heaved.

"Is there an objection to my taking the Miko?" Sesshoumaru demanded, cold death settling in his eyes.

Not a peep was heard from any of the brothel keepers. Kagome suspected they might have peed themselves at that look he was tossing them.

Pleased that the ignorant humans would not challenge him, Sesshoumaru tossed the shards at the Miko and then, grabbing her ankle to ensure she followed, left the brothel in a flurry of pristine silk.

"You stole my kill," Sesshoumaru intoned as he dragged her along on her back, her foot still secured in his hand.

"He stole my jewel shards," she grumbled, "and will you let me go? This isn't comfortable!"

"I am not doing it for your comfort."

"I'll purify you!"

"Hn. Your powers are no more than a wasp sting to this Sesshoumaru."

Well... she'd run out of options. Was she really supposed to resign herself to being dragged god-knows-where by an ornery demon lord?

It turned out she didn't have to, as he abruptly let her go and in the time it took to collect herself, he had nearly disappeared into the darkness of the forest.

"Sesshoumaru! Wait!" she griped, running a little ways in order to catch up to him and his impossibly long strides.

His mother had taught him that 'familiarity breeds contempt', and it was beginning to grate on his nerves that she addressed him familiarly without proper regard for his station.

"Why are you following this one?" he enquired stonily.

"I have no idea where I am!" she whined, "I don't even know where that brothel is!"

"You do not work there regularly?" he quipped darkly, "You dress as a whore do you not?"

Gaping like a fish, Kagome's steps faltered for a moment before she caught up with him, ire rising to the surface. "It's none of your business how I dress."


Silence reigned then and Sesshoumaru almost breathed a sigh of relief; perhaps the woman had realised he was not one for idle chit-chat.

A mile of uninterrupted silence later, Kagome was ready to collapse. She was exhausted and grumpy and Sesshoumaru's cold shoulder was more adept at stilting conversations than anything she'd ever known.

"Stupid shoes," she grumbled as she almost tripped over another root that tried to ensnare her ankle in its trap.

"Do not blame footwear for your own inadequacies," he chided, steadily proceeding up a steep embankment.

"The first time you speak to me in god knows how long, you insult me?" she bit out, miffed by his entire attitude.

"You cursed an inanimate object," he rejoined mordantly.

"Shall I curse you instead?" she threatened, quirking her eyebrows.

"You may try," he taunted, flicking her a side-long smug glance, "but you would fail."

Well... at least he was talking. Sure it was a verbal sparring match but it was better than painful silence.

"Why are you so uncommunicative?" she harrumphed, folding her arms sulkily.

"Why are you so talkative?" he rejoined flatly, "Not speaking is the flower."

"Proverbs?" she mumbled, "then perhaps you'd like me to be silent?"

"That was the idea."

"But it's much more interesting to talk while we walk than to bore ourselves to death!" she insisted, swinging her hands behind her back and grinning up at him.

Well, she was certainly strange, he'd give her that.

"Not talking, arguing," he corrected, his brisk pace never slowing.

"One cannot quarrel without an opponent," she quoted, pleased that she'd managed to dredge that little idiom from her memories of her grandfather's ramblings, "but then... I suppose you could argue with yourself... but you'd look a little weird."

"You are hardly normal yourself," he corralled, stepping over a felled tree that took Kagome several moments to scramble over in her impractical shoes. He was disgruntled that he waited for her to succeed before continuing but conceded that conversation with the strange girl was interesting. He frowned, apart from Rin he'd never given a human praise before.

"Why are you scowling?" she asked, skipping to his side, "smile... it'll make me faint or run away screaming," she promised mischievously.

"A merry companion on the road is as good as a nag," he admonished.

She poked her tongue out at him and he scowled. Why is heaven's name had she done that?

Suddenly, Sesshoumaru stopped and Kagome nearly walked into his back.

"What?" she asked softly.

"The half-breed is coming, I smell his stench," Sesshoumaru muttered, "you will be fine here now, Miko."

As he turned to leave, Kagome decided to be reckless... it had been her running theme of the night.

"Hey!" she called as he was about to step into the shadow of the trees.

His head tilted to one side and she knew he was listening.

"If you ever get bored of silence... I can talk enough for two people!"

For some reason, that almost made him smile as he disappeared into the forest.

A/N: I hope you enjoyed it, review!