A 'sprawl' is a move in mixed martial arts rather than boxing. When an opponent rushes a fighter, the fighter sprawls - putting his legs back and his weight forward, onto the rushing opponent. Ideally, it forces the opponent down onto the mat with the fighter on top of him. It's not often an ideal situation though, since it moves the fight to the ground.

For the 'favorable' theme in luxken27's 2014 Summer Mini Challenge. Requirements - over 100 words with no upper limit. This one has 1835 - a proper one-shot!


Sprawl

Kagome hovered at the top of the shrine steps as tourists trickled past. She didn't know what she was doing here. A hundred thousand shrines in Japan, and she had driven for almost two hours to reach this one. Even Sango had given her a look of disbelief when Kagome told her of the trip.

Sesshoumaru had been cruel, plain and simple, her friend had said. Everyone knew that a powerful miko or priest could protect a shrine, but there were precious few of those. Most demons didn't go onto shrine grounds out of deference to humans. Kagome would not actually have protection there. Sango offered to stay with her instead for a few nights. She would bring her sword.

But something in Sesshoumaru's voice had told her that more lay hidden in his words than cruelty. Kagome declined her friend's initial offer but asked for another favor – a little more digging into Sesshoumaru's past. Sango had given in with a sigh, and a short search had turned up a shrine name and phone number.

Katori Shrine held a few, minor distinctions and a place of honor over a few hundred others in the province, but it did not glitter with the wealth of the shrines in Kyoto or Tokyo. It served as a training ground for "serious" miko – not the girls who worked as shrine maidens during college breaks, but those who gave deep consideration to dedicating their life to the service of a shrine. Young women who were entirely unlike the wayward miko she had once been.

"Detective Higurashi?"

She turned. "Mr. Taisho?" she questioned in return. Of course it was him. The white hair and golden eyes signaled his relation to Sesshoumaru, although his features were more boyish than dignified. A pair of dog ears stuck up out of his hair, twitching and turning, although he kept his eyes on her. She put out her hand and saw that he was holding a battered and sheathed sword in his off-hand. "You can call me Kagome."

"Inuyasha," he replied, thrusting his free hand out and grasping hers.

"How did you know it was me?"

"I could smell you a mile away. Any packmate of ours would. You're covered in his scent, even if you two aren't official yet." The corner of his lip curled up, and a sharp fang poked out from between his lips. "And most people here don't look like they're about to hurl. That was a giveaway."

"Oh." Kagome colored. "Sorry, is that the reason you agreed to meet me? The packmate thing, I mean?"

Inuyasha arched an eyebrow in a way that reminded her so much of Sesshoumaru that her heart hurt. "More like the whole thing about my idiot half-brother's actions endangering my family."

She nodded. "Okay, good. I just know how important family is to dog demons, and I didn't want to give you any false impressions. Because that 'yet' thing is probably a 'never'. Just so you know."

The half-demon didn't say anything for a minute, and although he did not smile again, Kagome felt amusement rolling off of him. "I should take you to my wife."

She followed him as he wove through the small groups of tourists snapping pictures and past the vermillion gate to the sacred spaces holding the kami. As the sounds of an active shrine faded behind them, they walked up to a small building of simple living quarters. Inuyasha opened the second door. "She's here," he said.

Kikyo looked up from her book and got to her feet with some effort and Inuyasha's hand under her elbow. "Welcome, Detective." She wore the clothes of a miko, although it looked odd on a pregnant woman. A thick, red haori lay over her shoulders.

"Hello." Kagome bowed. "Thank you for seeing me, my lady."

The other woman smiled. "You can call me Kikyo, and I will call you Kagome, if that's alright. Sisters shouldn't be so formal."

"She says the bastard isn't going to take her as his mate," Inuyasha said, smiling his half-smile again. Kagome sent up a prayer of thanks she hadn't met him in her teen years. She could imagine the intensity of the crush her fifteen-year-old self would have on the half-demon.

"Oh, I see," Kikyo replied. The corners of her lips turned up as well. "I suppose things are a bit complicated at the moment. Things can change in a second. They can change back just as quickly."

Kagome shook her head. "I don't think that's the case this time."

"Perhaps. There was a time I didn't believe I'd be anything else but a miko, but the unexpected happened. Inuyasha crossed my path." She sent an affectionate glance to her husband as they seated themselves again. "I'm fortunate that the priest here didn't hold it against me and let us come back for awhile."

"That's how she found us," Inuyasha said.

"You're in the shrine records," agreed Kagome. "I can't promise that Naraku hasn't found the same. I had help, but I'm sure he does too."

"Inuyasha and Sesshoumaru don't get along very well, but they're very alike," said Kikyo. She ignored the noise of disgust that came from the back of her husband's throat. "They both protect the ones they love with everything they have. And that's a lot. We'll all be fine."

Kagome nodded. "I only worry about Sesshoumaru. He doesn't seem very rational these days."

"Sesshoumaru is always rational," Kikyo said.

"I'm not so sure. He wants to destroy Naraku on his own. He should have the entire police force at his back, but he's pushed me away. He won't let me help him. Naraku kills people without mercy, and Sesshoumaru's gone to work for him." She hesitated for a moment before adding, "I'm afraid that even if he lives, he'll spend the rest of his long life in prison. That's what happens to everyone else Naraku uses up and spits out. He's like a spider sucking the blood out of his victims."

Kikyo remained silent for a moment. "Are you asking for our help? I'm not sure what we can do."

Kagome covered her face with her hands. "Neither am I. I'm not even sure I was supposed to come here."

"Why did you?"

"Because he doesn't waste words or time, but he said something strange two nights ago. I thought he was sending me a message." She shrugged and looked up at the ceiling. "But now that I'm here, I'm wondering if I was just hoping he did. He called me 'detective', which he wouldn't have if someone had been listening."

"What did he say?" asked Kikyo.

"He told me that I should visit a shrine and share stories with a miko about all the awful things demons had done to innocent, young women. He said that maybe the gods could provide some answers."

"Miko and demons," murmured the other woman. "I can't say that there would be a shortage of stories. We're told most of them by our instructors when we train. The really awful ones get passed around in whispers. All of the stories are from before the peace between our kinds, of course."

Kagome watched as the two exchanged a glance. "I'm guessing there's one that stands out though?"

"Midoriko," said Kikyo. "A very powerful but young demon lusted after her, and after she rejected him, he led an army to fight her. One of those things that got buried in the name of peace. Still, Magatsuhi was watched for a long time. Not long enough, perhaps."

"Magatsuhi, the fighter?" Kagome stared. "The same one that Sesshoumaru accidentally killed in the ring?"

Inuyasha scoffed as he got to his feet. "That wasn't an accident."

"Of course it was," she insisted.

He opened a closet and pulled a folded newspaper from a box hidden amongst the bedding. "Don't think so."

"We thought you might come to us if things were going badly," Kikyo said. "Inuyasha has done what he could from here."

Kagome took the paper and saw the headline – Ring of Death! Magatsuhi Succumbs to Injuries After Taisho's Brutal Beating. A large color photograph showed Sesshoumaru leaning against the ropes as a doctor leaned over the other demon. His head was bowed as disembodied hands pulled at him from outside the frame. Sympathy welled up in her all over again, just as it had the first time she'd seen the papers after Magatsuhi died. "You saved this?"

"Keh, don't go telling him that. Just kept a few things. The bastard was my only family for a long time. Not that he acted like it." He straightened his shoulders. "That's not the point though. You see anyone you recognize?"

Kagome frowned at the photo. "Besides Sesshoumaru? No," she said, casting an eye over each face in the background. "Well, wait a minute."

In the corner, at the edge of the ring, she saw a thin, pale man. Alone amongst the crowd, he leaned forward with a smile on his lips. He looked smaller and frailer than the photos sitting on Kagome's desk in Tokyo, but she couldn't ignore the aquiline nose and thick hair. And his eyes. They were burning red.

"Naraku."

Inuyasha crossed his arms. "Only fight of his I ever went to, and he killed someone. Kinda sticks in my mind. That guy was Magatsuhi's cornerman. He called himself Onigumo then, but I recognized him from Sesshoumaru's description. Bet you he paid off the doctor that said Magatsuhi was good to fight."

"If not more." Realization gripped at her heart. "Do you remember what Magatsuhi was like that night?"

"Yeah. He was acting weird before anything even started and frenzied when it did. He landed some good hits, but I always knew something wasn't right."

Kagome nodded. "He was quick. Quicker than usual. Sesshoumaru was the one with favorable odds. People said it was nerves. He wasted all that energy early in the fight, and then, Sesshoumaru had his chance. He was sweating, red-faced and unfocused, but strong."

"Magatsuhi wouldn't be nervous," said Kikyo. "He had fought many strong demons with far more at stake than a cash prize."

"He was overdosing." Kagome almost smacked her forehead. "An entire arena, and no one realized that he was overdosing."

"The demons would smell a drug on him," Inuyasha said.

"Not if it was pure demonic power. Anyone would expect with someone as powerful as him," she replied. "Magatsuhi overdosed on Shikon no Tama on live television. He could have been the very first one."

Kikyo gave a small smile. "Will this help Sesshoumaru?"

"I think so." She grinned back.

"Not to rain on your parade, but there's still a problem," Inuyasha muttered. "If Naraku was Magatsuhi's cornerman, that means they were working together. And then, Naraku let him die or had him killed. I don't think Magatsuhi saw it coming."

Kagome looked at the photograph again as her joy drained away. "Sesshoumaru is on borrowed time."