Title: Plaything
Author: Linay
Make Believe – Oneshot #54
Genre: Dark, Romance
Violence, mild sexual innuendo and awkward moments between our unwilling heroes
Word Count: 1707
[Canon universe, continuation]. They meet again – but not as allies or equals. This is the first installment in a new serial I am planning to write.
I do not own Rumiko Takahashi's characters.

Author's Notes: The chapters in this story have largely been written in response to the prompts given at the livejournal community, dokuga contest (see the link in my profile). I am ever so grateful to the moderators of the community for the challenges and inspiration they have provided.

Current Theme/Prompt: Make Believe (Oneshot #54)

It was her posture that gave her away.

Interest piqued, Sesshoumaru straightened imperceptibly in his seat and lifted his chin from where it had been resting in the cup of his palm. In the long line of captured humans awaiting their turn at a gruesome fate, she alone stood still; the calm in the midst of a maelstrom of blood and guts and gore.

And there was gore aplenty. The air was thick with the coppery tang of blood; the ground slick with the spilt remains of human sludge. One by one, the humans who had foolishly thought to overthrow their demon overlords were dragged into the blood drenched ring for punishment. Some fell to their knees sobbing and pleading; others railed and threw defiant curses. But, one after the other, they all met a similar fate. The demon lords seated around the ring screamed bids for the right to punish each human in turn. Some demons bid for the humans who had personally offended them while others simply chose those who looked like a good kill.

With a piteous shriek, the human man currently at the centre of the ring fell to the ground, writhing in pain. Absently, Sesshoumaru noted the twisted smirk of his executioner, a prominent dog demon known as Shigeo. The demon tore hungrily into the man, preferring to rip his prey open with his bare claws rather than with a weapon. Having amassed a small fortune as a ruthless mercenary, Shigeo had bought quite a few of the prisoners for his enjoyment, slaking his bloodlust with snarls of delight. As the man become nothing more than a mangled mess of blood and bone, Shigeo howled to the ecstatic crowd. Then, with a ravenous growl, he moved to pull forward the next victim. The trembling line shrunk back – all except for the woman, whom Shigeo grabbed roughly by the arm and flung to the centre of the ring.

As a matter of choice, Sesshoumaru occupied one of the higher seats, where the human splatter would not reach the silk of his kimono and where he would not be assaulted by those jostling to partake in the blood fest. Now as he leaned forward, he wished to be closer – if only to make it easier for his nose to sift out her scent from the others.

As she stumbled into the arena, her feet slipped on the slick entrails of her condemned predecessors – but she did not fall. Rather, once she reached the middle, she straightened, drawing herself up with grace and dignity unexpected in such an arena.

Sesshoumaru's lips curled into a smirk. Yes, he thought, oh yes.

The bidding momentarily lapsed. They did not know her – and why should they? He was certain she hadn't had anything to do with the failed human uprising, especially given her past choice in friends. She had probably just been in the wrong place at the wrong time. She seemed to excel at that.

He, along with all the other demons, watched with ever increasing fascination as the woman lifted her chin and levelled her jeering audience with a fearless gaze, her lips a firm line. They all recognized her for what she was: a rare challenge. All of a sudden, the bidding war exploded in a cacophony of shouting. At the centre, she waited in grim silence as her demon captors argued for the privilege of making her scream.

Then, the Lord of the West stood wordlessly, letting his demonic aura unfurl about him. The verbal rioting around him instantly stilled as he staked his claim.

"That woman's life is mine."

He did not raise his voice, but the rich baritone carried to ever corner of the arena. The sea of demons parted before him, opening a direct aisle to the bloodied ring below. But Sesshoumaru did not descend the steps as expected; instead, he slowly settled back into his seat.

"Bring her here," Sesshoumaru ordered curtly, ignoring the slight whispers at his obvious breach in protocol.

None dared oppose him, however, and Shiego hurried to comply with the Lord's wishes. The woman struggled to maintain the illusion of walking of her own accord as she was hauled roughly up the steps. Shiego thrust her toward his Lord, and she shrugged off his clawed hand with foolhardy defiance. Shoulders square and gaze unwavering, she met Sesshoumaru's calculating amber eyes.

Shiego's chest rumbled with an indignant growl. "Bow, insolent wench," he snarled.

When the woman stubbornly refused to move, Shiego made as if to slash at her legs – but paused when Sesshomaru lifted a hand. With a flick of his wrist, his sentinel stepped back. His eyes returned to the woman before him, who had to look up to meet his stare even when he was seated.

"I know you, woman."

Her lips tightened slightly, but she resolutely returned his question with silence.

"For how long do you plan to prolong this pathetic game of make believe?" He asked, lightly drumming his finger tips against the arm rest.

Anger sparked then in the depths of her eyes, and she boldly tilted her chin upward. Outraged gasps rippled around them at the blatant display of disrespect. But Sesshoumaru smiled, his lip curling to reveal a wicked canine incisor. He rose to his feet in one fluid movement.

"Come," he announced, "We return to the Western Citadel."

"But my Lord!" A smaller dog demon shuffled to the fore. "We are not here to buy humans," He protested, "We are here to make examples of this rebellious scum!"

Sesshoumaru glanced down at his retainer. He arched an imperious brow, at which the other demon staggered backward.

"Lord Sesshoumaru," he backpedaled with an anxious stutter, "I mean only to say that you ought not to waste your time by bringing this worthless human back to the dungeons for torture."

Sesshoumaru's golden pupils flicked back to the woman, who still stood as an immovable statue in their midst. He stepped forward to take the woman's chin between his thumb and forefinger. The crowd held their breath in expectation, hoping to catch a glimpse of the effects of the infamous poison claw.

"Torture?" Sesshoumaru hummed thoughtfully, running the pad of his thumb over her thin lips. "Perhaps. But the dungeon, no." He felt the pulse at her neck quicken, and he leaned in with a predatory grin. "This one will be of entertainment in other ways."

The woman wrested her chin free of his grip, her expressionless mask cracking with the widening of her stunned eyes.

Shigeo sputtered, equally shocked. "Surely you would not defile yourself with this -"

"This what? Human?" Sesshoumaru snorted. "Your blindness is tiresome."

Raising his elegant hand, he beckoned to the servants. "Bring this woman to the human slaves. Have them wash and clothe her, and return her to me at the end of our proceedings." He instructed, his deep voice severe, "But take care not to damage her." He turned to catch the woman's eye. "And put her in the clothes of a courtesan."

Fury rose to her cheeks, but before she could express her outrage, she was escorted from their presence by two burly guards. She twisted and bucked in their grip, but they merely lifted her from the ground and carried her off. Sesshoumaru sank into his seat comfortably, his eyes returning to the ring before them. The others hesitated; then took that as their cue to proceed with the display of executions. Within moments, the great arena was filled with the smell of fresh blood and the screams of the dying. Sesshoumaru surveyed the carnage with mild interest, his face betraying none of the impatience he felt. By the time the last human fell to the floor, choking and gurgling on his own blood, Sesshoumaru had begun to tap an impatient claw against his knee.

"My Lord!" It was Hyouta, the bumbling retainer he'd allowed to come along. "The human is ready."

He turned his head fractionally to watch her entrance. The human slaves had dressed her in an elaborate silk kimono which hung so low that the creamy expanse of her shoulders was bared. She walked with as much pride as she could muster with a sword point at her back and the snapping jaws of demons at her heels – a woman dressed as a whore but walking with the gait of a soldier. But it was not the sight of her milk-white skin nor was it the luxurious cascade of glossy black tresses that made him tense; no, he hardened with hunger at her scent. Clear now that she had been scrubbed clean of the dirt and dried blood, the tantalizing smell of unmatched but untapped spiritual power wafted temptingly toward them all.

"You recognize the scent now, do you not?" He addressed his peers but focused his gaze on the woman, "This scent."

He stood and ran his fingers through her dark hair, then placed a hand on her bare shoulder, the deadly points of his claws resting lightly on the nape of her neck.

"Not a human," he stated with a pleased rumble, "But the immortal prison of the Jewel of Four Souls. Isn't that right, Kagome?" He enunciated each syllable of her name with mocking precision.

She glared daggers at him. "Is that a question, Sesshoumaru?" She asked tightly, her temper simmering just below the surface of her rigid facial muscles. "Or should I say, onii-san?"

He chuckled at that, and it was a dark, menacing sound. His grip on her neck tightened, and the pinpricks on her skin became painful. Kagome gasped as he dipped in low and slowly licked the column of her throat, relishing the tingle of her power against his tongue. Her blood, he knew, would be sweeter than wine; his revenge, sweeter still.

"I will enjoy this." A dark promise.

Kagome resisted the urge to attempt to wriggle away from him. "I doubt it," she countered, steeling her eyes against his.

Sesshoumaru straightened and after tangling his fingers in the hair at the base of Kagome's neck, began to stride away with her in tow.

"This Sesshoumaru will enjoy this new plaything."

He bared his fangs in a demonic smile.

"This pet priestess."