Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha, Rumiko Takahashi does.
A/N: You're probably wondering why there are less chapters now. Well, basically I don't feel like the ending would make as much of an impact if I didn't fix the beginning. The way they meet, the way they develop their relationship is different, different enough for me to call it an alternate beginning. This is how I've always envisioned it, so I hope you'll enjoy. You can still find the old version at Mediaminer. The link is in my profile.
Between Darkness and Light
Chapter 1: Angel of Darkness
He was despicable.
Her hand lifted in a careless swipe across her lips as she caught her breath, her lungs heaving hard against bruised ribs. With that movement, blood that trickled steadily from her nose and the interior of her mouth smeared her cheek, painting a vibrant shade to her normally pale complexion. The grip on her bow was steadfast as she glared at the man standing so casually in front of her. She had to remind herself to be careful not to accidentally crush it with her strength. His green eyes glimmered tauntingly, much like the way a cat would look at a bird. To a normal human, his pose was relaxed, indicating no desire to strike her again -- at least not immediately, but she knew better. His body was unwinding each of its muscles for a quick strike.
Bastard! How dare you think so little of me? She raised her bow, ignoring the gnawing pain that shot through her arm as she took aim and fired. The desire to live made her hopeful but fell quickly when his hand shot out to prevent the arrow from penetrating his flesh at the last possible second. Disappointment was apparent on his face as he stared at the pointed tip of the arrow before closing his hand into a tight fist, snapping its center. He opened his hand again; the two broken ends fell freely to the ground, and its dust seeped slowly from between his long fingers. He shook his head and sighed dramatically, "Your aim is off."
Even with her training and her incredible sight, all she saw was a dark blur before his hand enclosed around her throat, the back of her skull slammed painfully against the brick wall of the alley. Blood flowed quickly and freely, feeding the packed dirt beneath her as she grew lightheaded and colorful spots began to dance before her eyes. She struggled -- her nails clawing desperately and her feet kicking -- but his hand was like steel and his body was an unyielding, stone wall against her, making her wonder if he had been playing with her since their very first encounter.
Ever so gently, he caressed her crimson cheek with his free hand, ignoring the hatred pouring forth from the dark of her eyes and her continuous attempts to turn away. The hold on her had lessen, permitting her to draw in desperate gulp of air, but it was still too powerful for her to break out of, especially in the state she was in right now. His face was so close to hers that their raven locks mingled together, his breath in hot, steady pants against the crook of her neck. He had fed recently -- perhaps just moments before she'd ran into him -- his skin was much too warm for that of a vampire. If the alley was lit, she would be able to see the pinkish hue on his cheeks and the ruby red on his lips. He inhaled deeply, his nose moving across her skin to take in her scent which was now overwhelmed by the delicious smell of blood. "Anytime, my dear Kikyou, anytime…" he murmured back softly.
"Go to hell, Naraku," she managed to spit out even with his sharp nails digging painfully into her flesh.
He shrugged and suddenly grabbed a fistful of her hair, jerking her head roughly to one side. His lips twisted into a cruel smile as white canines pushed outward. "You know, it's not as bad as most people think. I think that a bitch like you would like it there." With a growl that was low and possessing, he buried his fangs deep into her slender neck. Heated blood swelled up immediately to the surface of her pale flesh and spilled willingly down to coat his throat. She moaned and slumped forward, resting her head against his shoulder; her hands fell limply by her sides as he drank from her. They slid down to the floor with the appearance of a lover's embrace -- his arms held her tightly with one hand cradling the back of her head while she leaned against him, her neck outstretched to the side.
Many passed by with barely a flicker of a gaze at the couple, never realizing that the woman who had fought hard to keep them safe over the years was dying bit by bit, her heart becoming black. He took his time with her, devouring her slowly in order to savor her delicious taste and her sweet cries of agony
And perhaps even pleasure…
She was surrounded by nothingness; the earth was flat and barren for miles around her. Decades-old trees had fallen, leaving behind their hollow bodies and scattered branches. Flowers had long ago wilted with no promises of returning. She took in a deep breath of the stale air, her violet eyes disappearing briefly as she tuned deeply into her senses.
Not one living creature dared to intrude on this occasion.
In her hands, she held two glimmering, twin blades, and on her back was a crossbow which the villagers had forged from the branches of the sacred tree. She fixed her eyes upon the horizon, waiting patiently. The sun was refusing to come out, not wanting to bear witness to the impending carnage and her possible defeat. She snorted. Even the gods, who had created her, doubted her victory.
The ground beneath her began to vibrate, barely at first, then increasing with intensity. Pebbles jumped and stung her bare calves, but she continued to stand firm. She would not show any kind of weaknesses. Her eyes narrowed at the dark form of shadows speeding towards her and her hands tensed around her weapons. She was ready, and had been since her birth into this world.
They came at her quickly, carrying no weapons of any kind except for the fangs in their mouths and the razor-sharp nails adorning the tips of their hands. The same desire shone in each of their eyes, accompanied by the purity of hate. They did not wish only for her death. They wanted her suffering.
She could care less.
They needed to be wiped out, completely and totally. She was tired of this life. Her thoughts momentarily drifted to him even as the first came at her with his claws outstretched, reaching for her throat. She recalled his beautiful eyes watching her intensely, the fierceness of his expression softening for her, just for her… A brief smile touched her face, then maybe she could live as an ordinary woman.
Her lips pressed into a thin line as her sword sliced through him, from his shoulder to the opposite side of his torso. The others screamed for their fallen comrade and came to her in frenzy. It wasn't long before the blades in her hands were heavily coated with the blood of the dead and the air was overflowing with their foul scent. Heads rolled, limbs fell, and dark blood sprayed across her face as she slashed through each of them.
Her creator would have been proud.
For three days the battle continued, and for three days the sun did not rise; the vast heaven remained empty of its light as dark clouds rolled unhurriedly across. Only the moon came, bathing their bodies in an iridescent glow and softening the remnant of the battle. It was on the night of the full moon that her arms grew heavy, and her movements became too sluggish to block one of their attacks. The scent of her blood excited them, and they renewed their attacks.
She screamed as two of the creatures latched onto her body, tearing at her flesh with their fangs. More came until all she could do was shut her eyes and wish for the end to come. At last one slammed his fist through her chest cavity and closed his hand around her still-beating heart. Her last thought was of his amber eyes as she threw her head back and summoned the last of her strength.
There was light.
Then there was darkness.
Kagome forced her mind into consciousness, awakening from her dream with a loud gasp, mouth wide open to draw in a large breath of air. Her wide eyes darted suspiciously and expectantly around the room, the sound of her heart pounding like drums within the confinement of her chest. She sat forward and drew her legs to her chest, resting her chin on her knees. Long strands of dark hair clung uncomfortably to her neck and the sides of her face, sticking to her damp skin. She briefly considered cutting it all off as she continued to pant deeply, willing for her rapid heart to slow.
A sudden rush of heat seared across the right blade of her shoulders, startling her into a near-craze. Kagome clawed at it, her nails scratching into her own skin as the top row of her teeth bit down on her lip to stifle a scream. Feeling like her skin would catch on fire, her hand awkwardly tore at the material on her back as she stumbled out of bed, her shaky legs nearly collapsing beneath her weight while carrying her to the bathroom. She hurriedly went inside the shower and turned the water on at full blast, ignoring her body's protest at the extreme change in temperature. She half-expected to hear the sizzling sound of her skin as icy cold water needled down her back.
She tore what was left of her drenched nightgown off her body, and a wet thud was heard as she flung it to the far corner of the bathtub. She tossed her head back, water hitting the center of her forehead before traveling down the length of her hair, her mouth parted to allow strayed droplets to fall in. She felt dirty. The remnants of her nightmare lingered on. So much hatred, so much pain... She could still see it… smell it, the nauseating scent of blood overwhelming her senses.
When the pain on her back had left and all she could do was shiver against the cold, she turned off the shower and stepped out, wrapping a large, terry towel around her body. Kagome stared unsteadily at her reflection in the mirror, her hands bracing on the edge of the sink. Curious, she turned and let her towel drop to loosely drape around her waist. She gathered her dripping hair to the side and hesitantly looked back.
The place on her back, where it was burning, was colored red. The shape of a bird with its wings spread began to distinctly sharpen and form on her right shoulder blade.
His nose began twitching as soon as he opened the muggy glass door; the stupid diner stank of greasy burgers and stale smoke. The old bat sat in a booth at the far corner of the room, sipping calmly on her damn tea. Inuyasha held his nose and crossed the length of the room as quickly as he could without scaring the few sober humans. Her good eye didn't even blink as he took a seat across from her, his face in a permanent scowl while he tried to stretch his tall body out comfortably in the cramp booth. He gave up with a loud grunt and crossed his arms. "This better be important, Watcher. You woke me up from my nap."
Her thin lips pressed into a miniscule of a smile as she regarded him carefully, "You never sleep."
Inuyasha snorted and flung one arm over the back of his seat. How would she know? I'm not exactly like the ones she studies in the books. He did need sleep, though not as much as mortals. He had discovered over the years that a few hours a week was enough, anything more would be a stress to his mental health. After all, who would want to sleep when they could see what he saw every time he closed his eyes? "Well tonight I was," Inuyasha replied flatly, not sure how or why he had fallen asleep. The dream itself was surprisingly pleasant… if only he could remember the girl's face.
He didn't even blink. "I know."
Kaede pushed her tea cup aside and rested her elbows on the top of the table, her wrinkled hands clasped together as she leaned forward, dull brown eye catching his. He was taken back by the sudden wave of sadness seeping forth from her eye that was more akin to losing a member of her family than a student. Watchers were not supposed to get emotionally attached to their slayers; it was their job to guide, not to nurture. He also couldn't imagine anyone acting motherly towards Kikyou. Not that he cared, but his few unfortunate run-ins with the late slayer had given him the impression that she kept everyone at arm's length. And I thought I was a loner.
A waitress finally came by just as Kaede was opening her mouth to speak. Her stringy hair was swept up in a messy bun and her once-white apron was stained with everything they served on the menu. She peered down at him with a bored expression, having probably spent her whole life working at this dump. "Can I get you something, hon?" she spoke with a long drawl as she took a pencil down from the nest of her hair to take his order.
He ignored her, refusing the look up and only observing her out of the corners of his eyes. After a few moments of waiting in silence, the waitress spun around on her heels and left their table with a loud huff and a few muttered words she didn't think he could possibly hear. His brows arched and he stared after her with his the corners of his lips half lifted in amusement. Rude ass silver haired freak of nature, huh? Ugly bitch, if you only know… The color of his hair was rare, considering that he was Japanese, but it wasn't like he'd dyed it that way on purpose. It was something he'd inherited from his father, along with a pair of amber eyes that had the tendency of startling quite a few humans at first glance.
"As polite and sociable as ever," the watcher commented dryly when his eyes flickered back to hers again.
Inuyasha shrugged. He hadn't seen the point in talking to that waitress when he clearly didn't want to be bothered. He flipped open his cell phone and looked at the time. Ten fucking minutes wasted. Frowning, he straightened from his seat, ready to leave, "Look, why don't you hurry up and say what you're going to say? You're wasting my time, and I didn't come all the way out here to have a cup of tea with you."
A heavy sigh passed from her lips at his impatience. "I need your help, Inuyasha."
"Keh, figures." Kaede only contacted him when she was in deep shit, and she was in grade A shit right now considering Kikyou's death. Watchers couldn't walk across the street without their slayers leading their hands. "What do you want?"
"Like a phoenix, the slayer always rise from the ashes…" she paused to glare at the elaborate roll of his eyes before continuing with a shorter and less dramatic version of her speech, "The new slayer has been called. I need you to help me look for the girl and protect her."
That's it? His eyes widened a bit in disbelief, and he wondered if the sorrow was affecting her already questionable sanity. Did she think of him as some kind of search dog? "You want to use up your favor for that? Why don't you get the all-so-powerful Order to look for her?"
"I've tried, but the Order is currently occupied with a more important matter. They told me that the search would have to wait."
Inuyasha stared out the window, his fingers drumming absently while he watched the bright light of the traffic from across the parking lot. The entire conversation was beginning to bore him. "Then wait."
Kaede shook her head and took a long sip from her cup, grimacing in distaste for the tea had turned cold during her neglect. "By the time they're ready, the vampires would outnumber the humans. We need her now."
"Old woman, you're being too fucking paranoid. Did you forget that she wasn't the only vampire hunter in this city?"
"No, but now you're the only one left, and a new vampire lord has come into town during your extended stay at Shang Hai. The Order is watching him closely."
It was one thing to know of his absence, but to know of his exact destination when he had informed only Miroku of his whereabouts? This watcher had too much time on her hands. "Been spying on me?" he asked gruffly.
"No, it was the Order. They're still not sure which side you're on."
His eyes narrowed into slits and a low growl rumbled from his throat at the unsettling revelation. "If they have time to spy on me, then they have time to search for a little girl," he snapped and stood up, knowing that he should leave before he lost his temper. "You've wasted enough of my time-"
"Did I mention the reason why they've been so busy?" Kaede spat out as quickly as she could, breathing a sigh of relief when he remained next to their table instead of stomping away.
His back was still turned towards her. "You got five seconds."
She lowered her voice as a precaution to eavesdroppers, knowing that he would hear her as clearly as if she was shouting. "The Shikon no Tama is about to appear." She smiled when he sat down across of her again, ready to listen.
Kagome looked into the small mirror hanging inside her locker and frowned when her reflection was not the only thing she saw. She was having a bad enough day already. With a wary sigh, she slammed her door shut and turned around, her arms folded against her chest. "What do you want, Kouga?"
He braced one muscular arm above her head, the other hovering near the curve of her hips. "You know what I want," he replied, his cerulean blue eyes twinkling with mischief as he leaned forward until the very tip of his nose was almost brushing against hers. His brown hair was slightly damp, and she could smell the clean fragrance of soap on his skin. At least he'd showered after gym before coming up to her this time. She gazed briefly to the side and saw that people were already starting to gather, eagerly waiting to witness their weekly ritual, before turning her attention back to him.
Kouga was tall, but she refused to let his height intimidate her, perhaps that was the reason why he was attracted to her – she was the only one in the entire school who dared to stand up to him. She stared him squarely in the eyes and kept her voice even, "Don't play games with me right now, Kouga. I'm not exactly in the best of mood." Most every girl she knew considered Kouga to be one of the finest male specimens ever to walk down the halls of this school and would give anything to exchange places with her right now. Oh please take my place. She just wanted to go home and get some sleep, not waste an hour of her time trying to convince him that she wasn't interested, and she never would be.
He laughed -- she hated to be laughed at – and gave no notice to her deadly glare. "Well then go out with me this weekend."
"I have to study."
"You're always studying," he pouted, "Why don't you try something fun for once?"
Kagome forced a smile. "My books are fun. Now if you'll excuse me," she tried to move, but his other arm suddenly blocked her way.
Kouga rolled his eyes in annoyance, shifting his body even closer to hers. "Come on, Kagome. Who are you trying to kid?" he started, his voice lower than usual to keep the people around them from listening in, "I'm really getting a little tired of the whole 'playing hard to get' thing. You should consider yourself lucky that I want you to be my woman." His hand touched her hip, palm lingering on the soft curve of her bottom while his leg inserted between her thighs. "There are other ways to have fun."
Her temper flared. He wasn't listening to anything she had to say, and his lips, his everything were now a little too close for comfort. "How many times do I have to tell you that I don't want to be your woman?!" She braced her hands against his chest and pushed, badly needing to get his body away from hers. The lockers across the hall gave a sickening crunch as Kouga slammed into them, molding the metal to the shape of his back. He groaned and slid down to the floor in a daze; their classmates circled worrily around him. She blinked and looked at her hands. She'd barely touched him, and Kouga was not a tiny man.
She muttered a quick apology and left before they could turn their attention to her.