Her heart was beating so fast that it hurt and her arms were numb with pain. One of them dangled uselessly at her side, it tingled painfully and when she moved it felt like a noodle, while she held the right up defensively. Blood was running from her forehead and getting into her eyes, making it hard to see. Grunting impatiently, she wiped her good hand over her eyes to get the blood from them and tried to focus on the enemy that was swaying in front of her. Or maybe she was swaying, she couldn't tell. She was too tired to tell.

The fight had been going on for three hours and while both were exhausted and in pain, neither was near giving up. Currently, both were slumped on opposite sides of the fighting stage, catching their breath and trying to decide how best to succeed. Her opponent was the smaller, much quieter of the dragon team. His name was Kazue and everything but merciful. He had been tricky, pulling moves that were borderline illegal, such as throwing her high into the air and letting her dent the stage, which resulted in the gash on her forehead that was currently near blinding her. She had known from the beginning that the dragons were sly and needed to be watched, but she had never expected that kind of behavior. Coughing once, wincing at the pain it ignited in her side, she forced herself to straighten and inch toward her opponent. He stepped forward as well, his own body moving fluidly while she jerked around the jabs and points he aimed at her soft belly and aching sides. Dodging around a well placed punch; she looked up into his dark eyes and saw the furious desperation shining in them. Only then did she realize what this battle really meant for her young opponent. The lady of the South was a vicious woman if her instincts told her anything and the life of this dragon may very well ride on the outcome of this battle. Pushing the depressing thoughts from her mind, she steeled her determination and swung a fist back at the dragon, catching him by surprising and sending him stumbling back. There was a single whoop from Inuyasha in the crowd and a crass comment she didn't hear but she smiled none the less. It was nice to be reminded that she had support.

Jumping back, she ducked from a kick and threw him off balance with a sweep of her leg. They were tiring, they were losing steam, and this fight needed to end now. It was now or never. Jumping back once, she pushed off the floor the minute her feet touched it and, catching him off guard, took advantage of his surprise and slammed a fist into his cheek. His hands came up instinctually and wrapped tightly around her arm. She could feel his youkai rising to protect him, even as he lost consciousness. Realizing a second too late that she needed to get away from him, she could do little more than gasp before a wretched scream as her arm was twisted sharply in opposite directions by each hand and the bones beneath the skin were crushed and mangled. Soft keening continued to pour and tumble out of her mouth as the beast released her arm and allowed her to stumble back. One of her arms was completely useless now while the other felt like a flimsy noodles. Tears streamed down her face and she, for a split second, thought about forfeiting. Then she remembered the looks on the court faces when she had arrived. The suspicion, the mockery, and the laughter in their eyes as they stared at her plain mortality. No, there was no giving up in this fight. It was either knock out or death for one of them and that was the only way that this fight was ending.

Lifting her eyes, she stared into the lost, blank green eyes of the beast in front of her and she knew what she needed to do. She hadn't used her spiritual powers too much up until now. She wanted to fight with her own strength, not the added help of her powers. Her opponents had only used their born strength and none of their powers, why should she use hers? Her opponent called on the power of his demon though, so it was more than fair that she use her own powers. Struggling to her feet with her less injured left arm, she swayed a little on her feet and tried to concentrate on her enemy. She was frightened by the feral smirk on his face and the promise of pain in his eyes but she squashed those feelings easily and concentrated on her plan. He was sliding in front of her, moving side to side quickly, almost too quickly to see, and it was making Kagome dizzy. She needed to hurry before he hypnotized her into a state of non-threat. Gathering her reiki around her, she concentrated on letting it fill her body and pool in her hands. This needed to be well aimed and precise if she wanted to finish this with one blow. Ducking under swiping claws, she pushed herself forward and did the last thing anyone expected her to do. She wrapped her arms around Kazue's abdomen tightly and clung there in a tight hug. Her arms were screaming. Her better arm was hooked tightly around her mangled one and both hands were clutching tightly around the smooth fabric of his top.

Throughout the battle, she had ignored the sounds and cheers from the crowd; however, now that they were silent it was glaringly obvious how loud it had been. The silence was eerie and she pleaded someone to make a noise. No one did though and Kagome gave up hoping they would. She needed to focus.

She had successfully surprised her opponent, he was frozen in front of her and regaining his composure quickly. Claws dug deep into her shoulders and pushed against her hard. Her toes dug into her sandals and her sandals slipped against floor. His youki was thrashing around her in pure fury and it hurt where her reiki touched it. Every bit of him was pushing her away. She needed to hurry. Steeling her strength and praying that this worked, she squeezed her eyes shut and pushed every bit of her reiki out of her and wrapped it around his body, forcing his youki down and destroying it. It only lasted a few seconds, but that was enough to blow the two away from each other and have her roll half way across the stage. Lying on her back, she turned her head to watch Kazue fall to his knees, his body shimmering pink and charred lightly all over. He wasn't dead; she had made sure of that. She wasn't out to kill anyone in this fighting, she just wanted to win. She wanted to prove herself. The announcer was ascending the steps and she knew that if she didn't get to her feet, it was going to be called a tie. She could hear his voice in the background of her head and groaned inwardly. Rolling over onto her stomach, she winced at the pain she expected in her arms. It was less than a pain though, more of an ache. Her shoulders were sore to the bone, but she didn't feel any of the stings of claw punctures. Chalking it up to fast healing from the massive amount of reiki she expelled, she thanked the Kami that she was okay and rose shakily to her feet. The hush this time was even sharper. Then…

An explosion of noise, sound, and sight, people were cheering and screaming and calling her name loudly from all sides of her. The western army had flooded onto the stage and was holding her up high, shaking her and patting her back heavily. Looking back, she caught a glimpse of Kazue's partner, Genji, assisting him carefully down the steps and toward the South, where she could see his queen seething with anger. Kagome looked away, not wanting to see this. Instead, she concentrated on Sesshoumaru's silver hair coming toward her through the crowd. The army set her down slowly, all smiling knowingly at the strange pair in front of them. They could all see the affection that had bloomed between their lord and the strange little woman in front of them. It was quite entertaining to watch as they interacted around the castle and this time would be no different.

Kagome smiled tiredly at the man in front of her, his eyes glowing gold with pride and appreciation.

"You have represented the strength and pride of the West very well, little miko," he murmured with the slightest hint of a smile. He could see the exhaustion in her form and face, she was slouching with shaking knees and her eyes were struggling to stay open.

"Come, miko, you must rest. Later tonight, we will celebrate the victory of the west." Kagome couldn't agree fast enough, even though she wasn't sure she'd be able to make it to her room on her own. Luckily, Sesshoumaru offered an arm to her and she half collapsed onto it as she trudged toward the castle. She was tired, there was no doubt. The adrenaline was filtering out of her body and it left her muscle feeling like jelly and her body aching. Even with the loud sounds of a win still raging around her, she felt herself drifting to sleep with Sesshoumaru next to her. Black danced on her vision and she could felt the world tipping forward slowly. Her legs were gone though and her arms were stiff, in the back of her mind she wondered if she'd hit the ground.

The ground never came.

Sesshoumaru's arm wrapped around her quickly, holding her tightly and supporting her weight easily. A ripple of fear shot through him at her sudden fainting. He examined her with eyes and nose quickly, checking for her blood loss and any external or internal wounds that would have resulted in this. Finding none, he decided that, perhaps, she was simply exhausted from the amount of spiritual energy she had needed to use to defeat her opponent. Which remind him, why had she waited so long to use her reiki powers? She could have ended the battle much sooner had she simply used her powers from the beginning. Filing the question away to ask her when she awoke, he settled her into arm, nestled against his chest, and took her to rest.

It took only a second to appear in her room. Pushing the sheets away with the toe of his boot, he faltered in setting her down. Her bed smelt cool and stale; she hadn't slept in it for some time. Perhaps leaving her here was a bad idea, she had been sleeping with his person for so long that sleeping here may result in discomfort. Nodding at his own logic, he swiftly moved from her room to his through the adjoining door and laid her easily in their shared bed. Her tiny fingers clung to his top and he had to carefully pry them off as he stood. She mumbled under her breath and reached out to grab onto something. Grabbing a stray cushion, he set it gently in her arms. Immediately, the miko wrapped her arms around the plush material and crushed it to her chest. He smiled a tiny smile, his eyes lingering on her for a few extra seconds. Tearing himself from her, he left the room in a flurry of white and red. He had a celebration to start and a victory to celebrate.

A/N: Sorry that this took so long to write and update. I hit major writers block and then had college applications and school to deal with. I know that this chapter is short, but the next will be much longer and it's when the drama begins. Thank you for your patience and I hope you enjoy this and the rest of the story!