Title: Blood Ties
Author: Celyia (cel@celyia.com)
Rating: PG
Summary: As the gang prepares for battle against a nearly omnipotent enemy, Kagome must choose whose side she will stand by when the curtain falls.
Note: Yikes. Like I NEED yet another serial story out there! But, once again, I couldn't help it! I swear I have the attention span of a two year old. Anyway, Forget Me Not should be finished pretty soon so I needed something different to take its place, especially since I can't post The Kiss due to FF.net policy. Dammit.

Anyway, for those of you curious, DH revised chap 2 should be up tomorrow, Falling Stars Chapter 16d (last part of chap 16! Finally!) has already been sent to my proofreader (the wonderful Alyson Metallium!) so hopefully she can help me iron out a few problems, and FMN Chap 7 is due out Monday. Oh, and for those of you following Shades of Twilight, Chapter 4 should be out early next week. Thanks!

By the bye, I couldn't find any reference to the name of Kagome's mother so I've decided to name her "Asako" after her voice actress, Asako Dodo.

Regarding pairings, this story isn't set in stone yet. Hell, I have NO clue what's gonna happen next so while this is a romance, your guess is as good as mine as to who gets paired up with whom. Oooops.

Thanks for reading and I hope you like this!

-Cel






Chapter 1

Sengoku Jidai
Burin Village, Western Lands


Kagome fell to the ground, biting her bottom lip as she tried to keep from screaming out as a sharp rock bit into her bare thigh. She grimaced as she pulled the jagged edge out with a bloody hand, trying to ignore the slick, disgusting feel as she tossed the rock as far away as possible.

"Kagome-sama!" a young man shouted, his right eye already swelling into what would become a fierce bruise. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine, Miroku," Kagome lied as she forced herself to her feet. With a deep breath, she looked towards the battle-ravaged village, her chin held high as she tried not to look at the bodies of the slain that had been tossed around the small village as if they were nothing but dead flowers. "Go on. I'll catch up."

The houshi nodded curtly, his normally pleasant face heavy as he raced towards the battle just beyond the shelter of the gigantic trees.

Ignoring the pain as she bent to retrieve the ancient bow that served as her weapon, Kagome glanced towards the endless forest that stretched in the distance.

In the matter of just seconds, Inuyasha had managed to distract Naraku's latest spawn from rampaging through the helpless human village and instead lured the hellish demon out to the anonymity of the forest.

That one act, Kagome decided as she urged her shaking legs on towards the battle, kept the entire village from being completely wiped out.

Saying a quick prayer in her head for all the souls lost, Kagome turned from the site of the ghastly massacre and focused getting her injured leg cooperating long enough to reach Inuyasha and the savage beast that thought nothing of shedding innocent blood.




Present Day
Sunset Shrine, Tokyo




She had waited long enough.

Asako Higurashi frowned as she looked around the ancient room, her hand beating an erratic rhythm upon her denim-clad thigh.

It amazed her, really. How could such a small hut, even one constructed of rotting wooden boards, get so filthy so fast? Overwhelmed by the sheer multitude of work waiting, she stood silently at the top of the old stairway as she looked upon the shrine. With a weary but deep exhale, Asako watched as the soft beams of morning light filtered into the room, the light dancing upon the dust-speckled air as they escaped from the myriad of knotholes in the walls.

Slender, white hands flitted through the air as she began the nearly impossible task of dusting, her front teeth chewing on her bottom lip as she concentrated on finishing as quickly as possible.

There was just something about the simple shrine that made the older woman antsy. It was almost as if each time she stepped by the old wooden structure, it snatched a piece of her soul away and squirreled it away, never to be seen again.

Perhaps it was because her heart knew that one day that small, almost obscure well at the base of the stairs would steal her daughter away forever. Or maybe it was just the way the air smelled as if it were electrified: pulsating with the magic and life that was so enticing in its danger.

Kagome had not been home in more than a month.

But her daughter was now nineteen and after years of living in two time periods at once, Kagome was fully able to take care of herself. The teenager had proven it time and time again: kind yet clever, Kagome had managed to survive and thrive through a life that would have destroyed anyone less.

Her own mother included.

Asako frowned as she spotted the large spider web that had been spun between the farthest corners of the well.

Brave as her child was, Kagome still couldn't handle merely looking at even the most harmless of arachnids. It was enough to reassure Asako that her daughter, as wonderful as she may be, was still her little girl.

Coming slowly down the rickety stairs, Asako couldn't help but smile faintly as she realized that while there was not much she could do to help Kagome, she could keep her arachnophobic daughter from discovering that any spider once dwelled in the place where necessity would dictate she had to place her hands.




Sengoku Jidai
Inuyasha Woods, Western Lands




The smell was soft yet putrid, almost as if a forest creature had crawled a week ago into one of the many flowering bushes that surrounded the grove only to succumb to a lonely death. But years of experience taught the youkai lord that it while the smells were similar, it wasn't stench of decay that marred the forest air.

It was merely the odour that arose from daily living in a nearby human village.

Disgusting.

"Jaken," he commanded, his soft voice startling the old retainer. "Take Rin and return to camp."

The wrinkled green snout of the toad youkai wrinkled comically as Jaken sniffed the air.

"A village, Sesshoumaru-sama. A human village!" Jaken blurted as he shot a look towards the child who was busy examining the saddle buckled on the back of their two-headed mount.

The girl suddenly looked up, her eyes smiling as she waved happily at the youkai and the elderly retainer that were watching her.

"Sesshoumaru-sama! Look! I braided Aa's mane! Doesn't it look so pretty?" Rin chattered blissfully as she led the creature slowly to the silent youkai. "I was thinking of braiding flowers … aren't these flowers around here so pretty? They don't smell so good but I really like the purple… oh, wait. What was I talking about? Oh, yeah. So I was thinking of braiding some of these flowers into Un's mane, you know, but it isn't as long as Aa's. Oh, Un. It's true, you know. You don't need to nudge me. Touchy, isn't she?"

Sesshoumaru felt that strange warmth bubble up in his chest as the girl's animated eyes met his.

"There were several kinds of flowers back at camp," Sesshoumaru nodded, enjoying the way the girl's eyes lit up.

"Yeah! I saw them but I didn't know if it was safe to pick them since they had those thorns on them. You know how weird things get here in this forest. I mean, nothing is like it seems. Right, Jaken-sama?"

The old servant rolled his eyes.

"Flowers. Bah! Sesshoumaru-sama doesn't want to hear about flowers, girl."

Rin grinned as she gracefully plucked a large purple flower hiding betwixt the slender blades of green grass and placed it in the worn folds of the ancient youkai's kimono.

"Well, don't you look beautiful!" the girl giggled, her eyes flashing mischief as she pulled at the retainer's brown sleeve. "C'mon, Jaken-sama. Sesshoumaru-sama already hinted he wanted us to go back to camp and all, so I guess we better get moving…"

With a bright smile, the twelve year old paused in her steps as she turned to wave at the youkai lord. "Be safe, Sesshoumaru-sama! We'll be waiting for you at camp!"

The youkai nodded, watching with a softness in his eyes as the girl led the servant away, her perky voice filled with enthusiasm as she spoke of the various flowers.

He stood there for several minutes, his heart feeling slightly heavy as he watched Rin walk away, her body's recent shift to adolescence an unavoidable reminder that her childhood days would soon disappear completely.

And so, soon, would her need for him.