Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters, etc., of Inuyasha or Yu Yu Hakusho. This story is for entertainment purposes only, and not for profit.


Summary: Naraku has crossed over to the modern era, and our heroes must band together to try and stop him. But what troubles arise as old relationships are torn apart by new, and the dark spider sits spinning new webs of deceit?


Jyaki - demon energy

Reiki - spirit energy

Dank - not what you're thinking, younglings. It means damp, dismal in Ye Olde Arse English. And don't you dare "OK Boomer" me; I'm old but I ain't that old. Just call me Karen. And then get punched. In the face. With my Inuyasha pillow. #Adulting #BecauseICan #AskedForIt

A/N: Wow, I can't believe it's already the new year. Heck, a whole new decade! I know these anime are considered old-school now but I still love them and keep coming back. =) Huge thanks go to foxgloves, miko fox, Guren lux, LilithValdis, tohru78, Calico Kit, and a couple of guest reviewers - your words really do warm the heart. Happy 2020! (YFate)

Chapter Twenty-One

Breath rasping, heart pounding, feet flying -

Damn, she could run, even on two legs instead of four. Stupid cat.

Round and round, down and down, deeper and deeper into the dungy pits of this creepy bug of a castle.

He expected more sense of Kirara then to go haring off after a stinkin' rat, heading who knows where. They'd passed the ground floor and were now deep in the bowels of this hellish place. Kirara ran flat-out, with a single-minded tenacity he'd never seen. Her complete disregard for Sango, sleeping up above, was so unlike her. Inuyasha could barely keep up, those creamy tails a distracting flick just out of reach -

The unending stairs finally gave way to dank tunnels, twisting deep beneath the earth. The air reeked of old rot and old stink, decaying bodies and the unearthly things that fed off them. Inuyasha gagged, raising a sleeve to cover his nose as he ran on, only his demon-aided eyesight penetrating the Stygian dark.

Kirara!" he yelled, but she disappeared down the next tunnel, opening hard on the left. Cursing, Inuyasha followed, his feet gaining better traction as the laid stones gave way to bare earth.

Bare earth strewn with the remains of the dead. Inuyasha spat, bones shattering under his weight, cursing as something sharp lacerated his heel. Whatever disgusting beast hid down here had fed well, but left its garbage to rot about them.

The twisting, befouled tunnel terminated at a dark maw with jagged stone teeth. At its lip stood the nekomata.

"Kirara!" he growled, completely exasperated. He reached out to shake her for her stupidity but stopped, arrested by the look she threw over her shoulder, eyes round with fright. His hold gentled feeling the fine hair rising under his palm.

A skittering sound, that damn rat disappearing. Suspicious, one hand sought Tetsusaiga. He shoved Kirara behind him, baring his teeth as hundreds, thousands, seemingly hundreds of thousands of glowering red eyes morphed out of the dark. And in the center, two giant eyes that moved up and up and up to an impossible height as a slithering, nasty voice taunted, "Look, my children."

"You gotta be kidding me." Inuyasha scowled, Tetsusaiga flaring to life in his claws. "It's the freaking Mother Rat."

"How kind of you to come for dinner." The voice raked across his skin like claws on chalk. "My children are very, very hungry."

"Oh, yeah?" Inuyasha gripped his sword. "Too bad, we ain't."

"Oh, but that's why I invited you . . . "

The chittering response to her mocking sally set Inuyasha's teeth on edge. Done talking, he took aim. "Wind Scar!"

The swirling energies of the giant fang headed straight for that Mother Freaking Rat but the red eyes only glinted smugly. A sickly, yellow-green glow rose to shield the giant rat and her numerous offspring behind an impenetrable barrier, the deadly winds dissipating across its surface.

Inuyasha's jaw dropped as Kirara let out a dismayed sound, tugging urgently on his wrist.

"That tickled," the Mother Rat said, amused. Eyes glittered in anticipation. "Now it's our turn. Children?"

Red eyes heated as whiskers quivered.

They took one step backward. And then, turning together, took off with all hell breaking on their heels.


"What the hell, Hiei!" Yusuke yelled, throat working around the sharp kiss of steel.

"I might demand the same, Detective!" the fire demon spat, sword unwavering.

She tried to speak, but her throat closed. She couldn't stop shaking, her body reacting violently to the abrupt withdrawal of such overwhelming sensations. Caught in a whirlwind of burning intensity, her body coiling tighter and tighter as something built - only to be wrenched away as Hiei dragged Yusuke off her, the fire in her blood now ice in her soul.

"W-Wait . . . " she whispered brokenly, gaining strength at how pathetic it sounded. Her vision wavered, so they appeared four now, not two. She fought for control, her teeth grit as she dragged herself up, her head swimming as she refused to vomit.

They ignored her, eyes only for each other as the jyaki crackled ominously between them.

"Stop!" Sango cried, stumbling towards them like a flailing puppet on cut strings, her out-stretched hands shoving Hiei's sword aside.

To suddenly find that wicked length pointed at her as Hiei whirled away. His eyes burned, but the hard look on his face spoke of a stone cold killer.

"Please," she whispered, hating it but refusing to look away.

"It's not worth it. I'm not worth it."

Hiei's eyes narrowed as Yusuke snapped his head around, his protest dying at the look in hers. Hiei sneered, his mouth opening -

The castle shuddered.

Lightning flashed, the greenish glow outlining the cracks between every single stone of the tower as the ground shook. Sango fell, hard, on her knees. She flung her arms out, her startled cry muted as the castle shrieked in protest, an ear-piercing sound accompanied by the roar of stone crashing against stone. Screams arose with the sound of far off explosions as the fortress seemed to pull from its moorings.

The world tilted sideways as the tower skewed drunkenly. The very stones separated under her scrabbling hands as Sango desperately tried to find anything to grab on to even as she slowly, inexorably slid across the rain-slick surface, her body gaining momentum as she toppled over the edge into empty space.

She screamed, the sound lost on the howling storm-winds whipping hair into her eyes as thunder crashed, the storm raging all around her. Lightning split the sky, the rain a thousand needles piercing her skin as she plunged helplessly to her death.

Only to fetch up against a hard surface, a firm arm anchoring her to a wide shoulder as her freefall turned into a controlled arc. Her stomach heaved at the sudden change in direction, and the world spun as they curved over a dizzying scene of turbulent destruction.

"Hiei! Get her to safety!" Yusuke shouted, somewhere nearby. The demon grunted, using his weight to spring off the next stone and they were airborne once more. "I'm going to help!"

"Kirara!" Sango cried, but Hiei's grip only tightened as he launched them away from a world disintegrating into complete chaos below them.


"Well, congratulations."

Somehow, the words didn't convey the sentiment.

Kagome blinked.

"You managed to do exactly what you've always done." The psychic crossed her arms, look sour. "Which is exactly what we don't want."

Kagome's face fell. She'd hurried back to the shrine, triumphant with her creation of a barrier. Only to wilt under Genkai's unexpected scorn.

"You do this time and again. You react, with no thought or control. You let your emotions override your sense, and somehow, that should be enough to get by. You are strong, girl, but so is a bomb."

"Lady Genkai, I . . . " Kagome felt awful. Genkai was right. She had reacted, without thought, just as she had every other time she'd used her powers to heal. And destroy. She suddenly wanted to cry.

Closing her eyes, Genkai sighed gustily. "Clearly, this is not working. I need time to think. And to rest. I'm old, and I'm tired. Go get something to eat, and see me tomorrow. Early. I don't waste time dawdling in bed."

"No, Genkai-sama."

Arms clasped behind her, Genkai turned away, a clear dismissal.

Bowing low, Kagome fled.

Miserable, she went to her room. She refused to cry. Tears felt unworthy. And weak. She was that already.

She wished suddenly, fiercely, that her mother was there to hug and reassure her. But somehow, that felt weak, too.

Frustrated, Kagome cradled her elbows as she stared out the window. Twilight wrapped the shrine in velvet shadows, the dense forest blocking out the last rays of the sun. Too miserable to eat, too tense for sleep, Kagome bit her lip.

A bath might help, at least to relax. Maybe even enough to sleep.

Deciding, Kagome grabbed her faded old robe and her make-up bag, thoughtfully restocked by her mother. Yet something else to feel guilty over. Her mother should be busy with the shrine and burying her grandfather, not out buying her bath products.

Thankfully, the hall was deserted. And quiet. The boys tended to use this wing, but they'd be at dinner so she shouldn't bother them by hogging the facilities. The bathroom was cleaner than she expected, everything neatly put away and towels stacked under the sink for anyone to use. Genkai was rather strict on keeping the common areas clean for others.

The tub was narrow, but deep. The pipes groaned as she wrenched the knobs, but the water ran hot. No fancy modern electronics for Genkai, who preferred function to style. If something worked, she kept it, even if it was fifty years out of date.

Stripping down, Kagome tested the water with her hand. Easing into the steaming bath, she winced initially but soon melted under the delicious warmth. Her shoulders, tensed and twitching, eventually relaxed. Closing her eyes, she sighed.

The tap leaked, just a little, even after she turned the flood of water off. The continual drip, drip soothed nerves frayed by doubt and gnawed by guilt. Watching through lowered lashes, Kagome followed each drop as it formed, eventually expand and elongate, to then fall, oh so slowly, into the ocean below. It was peaceful, mesmerizing. Maybe that's what Genkai meant by control, the slow drip of release instead of the flood of raw power . . .

The bath cooled, but Kagome was reluctant to get out. She didn't want to waste water by drawing a second bath, but wished it might stay warm longer. Each slow drop leaking from the faucet seemed somehow warmer than the last. Her skin, once goose-bumped in the chill, smoothed out again. Maybe she was just getting used to the cooler temperature.

A sharp rap on the door made her sit up, water sloshing against the sides.


Kurama. Kagome flushed, abruptly aware of her nudity and that only a thin door separated them.


"Are you all right?" he asked. "I sense . . . energy."

Kagome stared at the water surrounding her. Tinged a light pink, it reflected her blush, the renewed warmth generated by the glow of reiki. She gaped at the fuchsia drops leaking from the tap. She'd somehow transferred her spirit energy into the water, the mesmerizing drips conveying her half-thought wish for warmth into a slow release of power.

"Kagome?" Sharper now, and worried.

"Uh, yes. Um, just a minute. Let me just - " Standing up, Kagome saw the energy slowly fade, as if her awareness was enough to cut it off. Jerking the chain free with her toes, the water gurgled as she stepped out. Dragging her robe about her, Kagome hurried to the door, opening it just enough to peek out.

Why was he so tall? Kagome tilted her head up, saying, "I'm all right. I just . . . needed a bath."

Kurama's green eyes widened slightly, and then darkened as they ran over her. She must look a hot mess for him to show such concern. He even pushed the door open, eyes sliding around the room before landing back on her face. "You are certain you are all right? I sensed spirit energy, but now it's gone."

He brushed by her to go and examine the tub, one eyebrow quirked in question. Kagome fidgeted, all too conscious of the water dripping at her feet and the faded robe clinging to her skin, her tangled hair dragging from its messy bun.

She couldn't lie under that indelible green gaze. "I, um, not sure, but somehow . . . I think it was me. The energy. My energy. The water was getting cold, and you know, the leak, and my energy, it . . . well, I wished it was warmer, and somehow, my energy just sort of dripped out, I guess."

She felt like a idiot, stumbling through her explanation. She could see his mind working, turning her words over. It was almost uncanny how suddenly he reminded her of a fox, his beautiful features sharpening as that keen intellect took hold.

"Ah . . . " She was rather at a loss for words under that unwavering gaze. She fiddled with a piece of her hair, feeling shivery as the warmth dissipated.

"So you are capable of slow control, when your mind is not otherwise . . . distracted," he murmured that last with a husky quality that had her shivering for a different reason. His eyes were dark now, so deep a green they drew her in. She couldn't look away, suddenly breathless. He moved closer, even as she unconsciously stepped forward.

"Hey, guys? You done with the bath? I'd like to - " Kuwabara appeared at the door, rubber ducky and bath bubbles in hand. They jumped apart, as if scalded. Kagome's face heated.

Kuwabara blushed just as brightly, taking in her robe and Kurama's flat stare.

"Oh. Sorry. Er, I can go use, um, another one." He backpedaled in words and feet, followed by Kurama's annoyed glance.

"No, no, I was just leaving." Grabbing her stuff, Kagome bolted.