The morning of the worst day in Kagome's life had started out well enough. Inuyasha was in a good mood after seeing Kikyo the night before and Kagome was in a good mood since she'd spent the night in her time and had a nice breakfast with her family of blueberry pancakes and bacon. Even the perverted monk, Miroku, had shockingly kept his hands to himself and behaved as a perfect gentlemen to the slayer and Kagome, once she joined the others.

Shippo was his usual cheerful self as he devoured the large lollipop Kagome had brought back for him. While they walked along the worn path out of the village of Edo, he hummed merrily to himself behind Inuyasha with Miroku following behind him and the girls hanging in the back with Kilala, chatting quietly to themselves.

Even the weather was not slighting their plans, as the summer sky was a crisp, clear blue. A light breeze was occasionally swept through their little party, refreshing them before the sun could overheat their skin.

Inuyasha had set a casual pace, signaling to the rest of the tachi his appreciation for the day as well and they were all silently grateful for this decision.

It was nearing lunch time and the hottest peak of the day when the red-clad hanyou came to a stop in front of a large creek and proceeded to climb the nearest and tallest tree. Taking a seat against the trunk on a very high branch, he signaled a break in their traveling, to rest, eat and refresh themselves.

Miroku made a small fire while Sango replenished their water containers and filled a pot of water for soup. Kilala lit the fire while Kagome fished for enough Ramen in her backpack.

After everyone had eaten and relieved themselves, they were all preparing to depart when Inuyasha jumped down from his tree rather suddenly. Kilala transformed at the same time as everyone else took their battle stances behind him.

Sango tore off her outer kimono, revealing her slayer gear worn underneath and took her place next to Kilala, her fingers slipped under the ties of her Hiraikotsu. Kagome slung her quiver over her back and readied her bow next to Inuyasha, who was brandishing Tetsusaiga, while Miroku fingered a stack of sutras, muttering their incantations under his breath until they glowed a light blue.

The trees tops in front of them swayed unnaturally while the disturbingly loud cracking sounds of trunks being snapped in half followed the jerky movement of the tree tops as they were parted for a very large demon. His aura proceeded him in a thick wave, crashing over the party before he came into view and disorienting them with the sheer density of it.

Kagome swayed on her feet as the demon's aura washed over her. She felt her holy power rise urgently inside her, sensing a potentially devastating threat. Her knuckles turned white against the shaft of the bow as she clenched with all her might in concentration.

A gasp was torn from her throat as the very sky darkened when the demon finally came into view. It reminded her of Goshinki in form, the mind-reading Oni youkai who had broken Tetsusaiga with his teeth and rendered Inuyasha into a full demon after nearly killing him. Its skin was a dark, reddish purple, with the same mane of silver hair on his back and great, towering horns on his head like an Ox. It wore a simple, dark fondoshi over its massive waist, the ends tattered and torn at his knees.

"It's an Aka Oni, like Goshinki," Inuyasha supplied them in a hushed tone over his shoulder.

Miroku lightly hummed his understanding. "Red Ogre demon," he translated for Kagome and Sango quietly. "They're related to the kimon, or the demon gate through which the world's misfortunes are said to come. The gate is located in the northeast, or ushi-tora direction - Ushi and tora being the signs of the ox and the tiger."

Remembering how much trouble the last demon like this had given Inuyasha, Kagome shuddered involuntarily. They had made the mistake last time of thinking Goshinki weak because of his appearance. It seemed Inuyasha saw the resemblance as well as he was taking great care to observe his opponent carefully and had not just ran blindly into the fight brandishing his sword.

The demon gave a low, deep chuckle that seemed to resound from the very bowels of the earth. Razor sharp teeth were revealed in a terrifyingly-massive grin that reminded Kagome of an animal's still, rigid face, baring its teeth to the enemy before striking the death blow.

"Inuyasha," he greeted with a sneer and Inuyasha growled low in his throat, his hand clenched tightly around the hilt of Tetsusaiga.

"Do I know you?" he spat, his eyes fixed on the demon's position.

There was a hissing sound as the demon grinned again. "I don't believe we've ever met, no. But I'm afraid you and me have unfinished business," he drawled lightly, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. Then, just like that, his eyes narrowed on Inuyasha and resumed their feral and wild expression. "You killed my son."

Eyes widened in surprise, gasps were inhaled, an awkward silence prevailed. "W-what?" Inuyasha stammered, unsure.

"Goshinki, the mind reader," he reminded with a curled lip of fury. "My son."

Inuyasha rolled his shoulders, cracked his knuckles and rose Tetsusaiga. "Have it your wa-"

"Stop, Inuyasha!" Kagome cried angrily, her hand fearlessly pushing his blade down. "At least try reasoning with the guy before you kill him, come on!"

The demon's eyes fixed on her then, his expression masked into one of neutrality, at least as neutral as one could manage with a naturally terrifying face. He watched her turn from Inuyasha to face him and couldn't suppress the intrigue he felt when her face broke out into a welcoming smile.

"Hello, I am Kagome-chan, Mr.-?" she trailed off suggestively.

"Shoki," he provided, blinking slightly.

"Shoki," she repeated with a smile. "It's nice to meet you. Umm, about your son, Goshinki...Well, you see, we didn't think Goshinki would have a family or relatives because he was, when we met him, an incarnation of the demon, Naraku."

Her declaration was met with silence and staring, so she continued. "He had a spider mark on his back, like all Naraku's incarnations and he was sent to kill Inuyasha. He almost succeeded, actually. He broke Tetsusaiga with his teeth," she elaborated, gesturing to the sword Inuyasha was holding. The demon's gaze passed over the sword significantly at her gesture as she continued with the story. "Please understand that if your son had not meant to kill us all, we would never have allowed harm to come to him," she finished sincerely.

Shoki's head inclined slightly towards her in respect. "Your words are met with gratitude and appreciation, young onna," his deep voiced boomed throughout the clearing. "It is refreshing to hear a human voice their thoughts exactly as they are. Your honestly is admirable and your sincerity is a rarity, indeed," his eyes passed over the others curiously. "How refreshing. I see that your chosen companions vary between demonic and mortal, yet I feel the immense holy power rolling off you in waves. A powerful miko without discrimination, indiscriminately kind and beautiful, even," he continued, making her blush as her eyes widened. His nose lifted at a slant as if catching a whiff of a scent. "And untouched," he finished, his eyes leering across her form.

'He's not reading my mind, he's reading me!' she thought with alarm, though outwardly she trained her face into a modicum of politeness and respect, pretending not to notice the path of his gaze or his rude inquiries as to the nature of her virginity.

After a small, terrible moment of awkward silence, Shoki's blood red gaze slid briefly to Inuyasha before landing on her again. "I know exactly how to repay you for your honesty and concern. Yes, he loves you. No, not more than her and no, he will never forget about her or stop seeing her in you. It is a pale glimmer of happiness that he clings to in case the real thing turns out to be impossible to hold. Stay with him and you will never leave the shadow cast by her memory."

"You bastard," Inuyasha growled, but his face was pale, his expression one of immense infliction. His head turned to Kagome, his ears flattening at her frozen stance, the tell-tale way her bangs had fallen over her eyes to shadow her expression.

"Kagome, don't believe him!" he pleaded a little too strongly and Kagome felt the first tear roll down her face. She looked up at Shoki, her royal blue eyes sparkling with gathering moisture. "Thank you, Shoki, thank you so much."

He merely nodded, turning his attention back to Inuyasha as he marched up to him purposefully, his sword pointed out in front of him. "You'll pay for that!"

Shoki ignored him and instead looked back at Kagome. "It has been a pleasure, Kagome. Unfortunately, as much as I appreciate your concern, I was already aware that my son had been absorbed into Naraku and 'reborn' as his incarnation. I had a way to release him from that bond, by killing the spider nestled deep within his back, in the middle of the mark. But he was killed by Inuyasha before I could find him. He is my blood and it would be dishonorable if I did not avenge his death no matter the circumstances.
"However, I am not dishonorable. I will have you and the other innocents removed from the area so you won't be harmed. I also dislike the fact that you are unmarried and the loneliness I sense between you and the slayer is moving. Two beautiful, unmarried, powerful women should not have to yearn and suffer for love as you do. I will give you a gift while I avenge my son. Use it wisely."

The next several moments were some of the most memorable of her life. Kagome would never forget the way her whole body seemed to tingle when she and Sango simultaneously let out a breathless moans of sexual need.

Blanching, humiliated, Kagome covered her reddening cheeks with her hands. She peeked through her fingers to see Miroku reaching for Sango, a delirious look of absolute need on his face and instead of reaching for her Hiraikotsu, she giggled and ran off flirtatiously into the woods. Miroku gave chase and they were very soon gone from the clearing entirely.

"What the hell? Kagome, are you ok?" Kagome thought she heard Inuyasha mumbling but couldn't focus on the meaning when her nipples were suddenly harder than they'd ever been in her life and there was an ache that pulsed from her center with a white hot need. Another wave of pleasure weakened her to the knees and she let out a breathless whimper as she fell to her hands and knees, her bow still clutched weakly in her hand.

Inuyasha made to run to her but he was stopped as the Oni before him flash stepped until he was blocking the way. "I don't think so, Inuyasha. Soon, the overpowering scent of her heat will attract every demon and hanyou within a wide range of here. Only the most powerful will overcome and you will be too busy fighting me to get there. She is no longer your's to fight for," he leered and Inuyasha felt his blood begin to boil with rage. "I think I'll even give her a head start," he crooned, waving his hand over her position. Her body disappeared with a 'pop.'

Inuyasha felt his anger spill over the brim. He snarled viciously, at his wits end. The wind around him began to blow as the scent of the windscar began to build on the air. "I think you've talked enough, don't you, Shoki? Why don't we cut the chit-chat and get down to business? WINDSCAR!"

The battle began with the earth shattering windscar, which Shoki effortlessly avoided with a graceful sidestep and a fleeting glance of annoyance. Shippo and Kilala retreated, circling overhead to watch as everyone else had either ran off or disappeared.

Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha

AN: Reviews are my fuel. :P