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Terracotta Teeth by mythicamagic

Terracotta Teeth

Written for the  monthly sesskag prompt: Haunting

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Kagome kagome / The bird in the basket/cage,

When, oh when will it come out

In the night of dawn

The crane and turtle slipped

Who is behind you now?

"You've been on the road for four hours straight. Don't you think it's time to stop the car and relax for a sec?"

"Stop fussing already, you really don't need to remind me. I've passed at least 10 signs saying; Tiredness can kill, take a break!" Kagome paused, hearing her brother sigh through the phone. "I've drank a lot of coffee, kiddo, there's no need to worry. I'm getting to Tokyo tonight even if it kills me."

She'd meant to sound encouraging, but the coughing and spluttering of Souta chocking on his drink told her he'd not caught the joke.

Souta cleared his throat, voice thin. "It's not like there's a special occasion to rush home for, why are you even-" he suddenly squeaked. "H-hey! How are we talking right now if you're driving?"

Kagome rolled her eyes, practically seeing his judgemental look. For a boy who was five years her junior, he sure liked to act like he was the older sibling. "It's on speakerphone, moron," she muttered, a smile tugging at her mouth. He was such a worry wort.

Continuing down the road with the moon above as her sole companion, Kagome turned the wheel at a bend, glad her headlights were so bright. Making the journey to Tokyo from where she'd been staying at her aunts was a long and tedious one, but she felt more than ready to see her family again.

She hesitated, before inquiring; "How's Grandpa?"

There was a brief moment of silence, then the sound of a long, deep sigh through the phone. "The same, but we're handling it. How- um...how are things with you?"

"Everything's fine." She said a little too quickly, soon smoothing her tone. "I'll be there soon," she promised, guilt gnawing painfully at her heart. Souta assured her as he always did that she didn't need to come home and help, but it never lessened the strain.

Deciding to change the subject, blue eyes glanced out the window to her right, seeing nothing but darkness and the moonlit outlines of trees.

"I haven't seen another car pass by for awhile," Kagome murmured offhandedly, a little disconcerted. Maybe travelling at night hadn't been such a great idea.

"Mmm?" Hearing the sounds of muted explosions and blasters over the phone, Kagome shook her head. She'd lost Souta's attention to video games yet again.

"Hey! You still with me?"

"Oh, sure, sorry. Did you see that it's a full moon tonight? Better be careful~" he chuckled darkly, making ghost noises.

Kagome laughed even as she scanned ahead. Fog was starting to creep into the road, and even the moon wasn't helping with visibility, hanging in the pitch black sky. "I'll try not to run into any vampires."

"It's werewolves, you uncultured swine!" Souta gasped dramatically, and Kagome couldn't hold back her giggle. "Well, if any do bother you, send them my way. I'm fighting Dracula in Castlevania as we speak."

"My hero," she drawled, still smiling.

Saying their goodbyes, the phone clicked, shutting off. Kagome raised her head, noticing a sign on the side of the road, and feeling hope leap in her heart. Leaning forward and slowing the car to a crawl, she frowned, trying to read.

Yet even as she squinted she couldn't make sense of it, as the words were covered in grime. The encroaching fog was getting denser with every second, grey wraiths of smoke rolling through the trees. Kagome sighed and hesitated, before deciding to carry on, stomach twisting at the thought of getting out of the car.

Trees surrounded her on either side of the road, standing tall and thin. Something about their stillness made her shoulders tense, though she knew it was ridiculous. It was probably because it was so close to winter that she didn't feel like getting out into the biting cold, and definitely not that Halloween loomed a few weeks away. Yeah, that definitely wasn't it.

Shaking her head, Kagome drove on. Silence hung in the air like a physical, heavy presence, only mildly broken by the sound of her engine.

She glanced at the map folded neatly on the passenger seat, unopened since she'd turned onto this road an hour ago. It wasn't like she was concerned, she knew to stay on this road for at least another hour, but the sign would've helped assure her.

Kagome's chest tightened, and she swallowed, deciding to lighten the mood. Leaning forward, she turned the radio on, wincing when static blasted through the speakers.

Growling in frustration, she turned the dial back and forth, glancing up at the road after a moment.

Her eyes honed in on a large, dark shape that darted out from the trees, flashing white in the headlights as it stopped in the road. Ice shot through her veins, seizing her heart in a tight grip. Kagome gasped, foot slamming on the break immediately. Her head swung forward, but her eyes stayed locked with the creatures in front of her, heart racing as the tires screeched.

It wasn't moving! She was going to hit it!

Just as she was about to turn the wheel, the white form leaped into the air, heading straight for her. Kagome cried out. The windscreen cracked, some glass caving inwards. Kagome grit her teeth, eyes squeezing shut as the shards flew by her face. As she ground to halt, she rocked forward, panting wildly.

Everything lapsed into silence, save for the sound of her frantic breaths. Terrified blue eyes peeled open slowly.

Pale, shaking hands unfurled from the steering wheel, knuckles stained white. She inhaled a breath sharply, before releasing it, chest rising and falling. She stared unseeingly ahead, mind turning impossibly fast.

"W-w-what the hell was that?" She breathed, voice thin.

Her hand shot out for the handle and yanked, pushing the door open. Ripping the seat-belt aside, Kagome climbed out of the car, legs shaking. She grabbed onto the door as her knees weakened, threatening to give out.

Willing herself to calm down, she set one foot forward, followed by another, breathing in the crisp, cold air. Placing a hand on the car bonnet to steady her, Kagome staggered forward, terror seizing her at the sight of the damage.

The windscreen was almost completely caved in. It's glass was covered in cracks, all spilling out like a spiders web from one deep indent in the screen. It was barely holding itself together, though a few fragments had broken off inside the car. There was another indent of the same size on the bonnet, probably crushing the engine lying underneath.

Cursing shakily under her breath, Kagome glanced up, searching for anything in the cover of the misty outlines of trees. What was that thing? It had looked like a dog, but none that she'd ever seen. What kind of dog was the size of a bear? And it's eyes...

Tracing her mind back, she dimly remembered hearing something hit the roof after the windscreen had caved in. Kagome reached up on her toes, feeling for anything on the roof.

Her fingers met another deep indent. Bringing her hand back quickly, Kagome cradled it to her chest, wondering what this meant.

Had the white dog jumped onto her car? Even if it had, would it really have been heavy enough to crack the windscreen like that, or even the bonnet? One thing was certain, she hadn't hit it. The creature had willingly lunged at her.

Standing stunned for a moment, Kagome just stared at the damage, at a loss what to do. "I-I guess I can't drive it like this," she laughed weakly.

First things first, I need to call someone. No, wait, its safety first I guess.

Sliding back into her car and switching the hazard lights on, Kagome grabbed her phone and stepped out into the cool night air once more. Warily glancing around for any sign of the white beast, she realized with dismay that she didn't have any breakdown services saved on her phone.

Kagome sighed, wishing she'd been a little more organised. Souta always did say I left everything to chance.

"Souta..." she murmured, hand tightening around the phone. She could ring home and ask them to arrange a pick up truck for her, but it was late and Grandpa was in a 'sensitive state' as the doctors called him. Kagome didn't want to burden her mother with any more stress on top of that.

Scrolling down her list of contacts, she decided to ring Yumi, an old schoolmate who she hadn't lost touch with by some miracle. Just as her thumb hovered over the 'Call' button, a bright light caught her attention. Kagome winced, blinded- and lifted her hand to shield her eyes.

The lights dimmed, and Kagome heard a car approaching, the headlights steadily drawing nearer.

Relief flooded her, but at the same time a faint pang of caution beat in her chest. She'd seen enough horror movies and hitchhiker reports in the news, to know that strangers in cars might not be a trustworthy gamble.

Kagome shivered and wrapped her arms around herself, breath becoming visible in the air as the car slowed and passed her. It parked not too far away.

Her heart thundered in her chest as the driver's door opened. From the light cast by her car, she could faintly make out the number-plate but little else. Fog was still hanging close, draping the stranger in a haze as they began to approach. The sound of footsteps and the faint grumble of their cars engine was all she could hear.

Kagome's eyes were wide, but she held herself still.

Now that they were closer, their form was discernible from the gloomy haze. He was dressed in a casual suit, but the tie at his neck was to the collar, clothes crisp and clean. He had long, dark hair tied back at the nape of his neck. As he stepped closer, Kagome noticed the handsomeness of his face, and found herself surprised. Out of all the people she'd expected, she hadn't thought a businessman would stop to help her. Suspicion rose in the pit of her stomach, and Kagome's eyes darted to the road.

No one else was around, and no one knew she was there. What road she was even on.

"Are you alright?" A low, pleasant voice asked.

Kagome started, and looked back at him, now able to see him clearly. The moonlight made him look ghostly pale, and somehow otherworldly- and Kagome had never thought to use that word on a person before. He stopped at a respectable distance as Kagome looked him over. The stranger seemed genuinely concerned.

"Y-yeah I'm fine," she cursed her squeaky voice.

He came closer, dark eyes locked with hers. "You're bleeding."

Kagome blinked in surprise and glanced down at herself. She was? Where? Why hadn't she noticed?

The man took pity on her and gestured to his cheek. Kagome's hand rose to her face and gingerly traced her fingers down, wincing when she felt a few scrapes.

He watched her, face unreadable. Kagome smiled reassuringly, "it's just from stay bits of the windscreen. I don''t think I have whiplash or anything. I'm mostly a little shaken up."

He nodded, "not surprising. Did you hit something?"

At that, Kagome frowned slightly. "No, well- it's hard to explain. I think a dog or something jumped onto my car and dented it. I know it sounds strange but- I mean look!" Her hands waved enthusiastically in the air, gesturing to the car.

The quiet man approached her vehicle, assessing the damage with intense, focused eyes. Kagome wasn't sure what to make of his expression. His face seemed guarded.

A large hand drew out and traced the dent in the bonnet. "While this may be strange to you, miss, the attack you described is a regular occurrence on this road."

"W-what?" Kagome breathed. "Then why hasn't someone caught the dog yet? It was massive, like- the size of a bear! I'm not kidding!" She squeaked, voice thin.

Eyes that told of secrets, but held them locked tight in a strongbox, raised to meet hers. Kagome quieted instantly, uncertain of what she was feeling.

"The village in this area is small, they don't have the funding or support to undertake such a task. Simple village folk would be no match against such a creature, wouldn't you agree?" The man straightened, expression still carefully blank, but something hard leaked into his voice.

Kagome frowned, unsure what to make of him. He spoke strangely, entirely formal and almost old fashioned.

She rubbed her arms against the chill in the air. "I-I guess. Do you live around here?"

"Hn, at the border of the village. My brother is a mechanic and owns a small business within it." He glanced at her car. "It's doubtful he could repair it, but you could at least hold your vehicle there for now."

Kagome's eyes widened. "O-oh." This was the tricky part. Could she trust his word, or was he just saying this to get her to trust him? He didn't look like a serial killer, but they hardly wore signs around their necks. "Will your brother be able to tow my car to the village?"

The stranger nodded, his stillness setting Kagome's teeth on edge. "I will contact him now. If you wish, there is also a small hotel where you could stay for the night."

"Ah, thank you very much." She smiled slightly. Realizing she'd been a little rude, she continued. "My name's Kagome Higurashi by the way."

His eyes widened, as if caught off guard and finally noticing he hadn't offered his name. "Sesshoumaru Taisho."

Kagome's shoulders eased as she relaxed a little. Someone with a name that meant 'Killing Perfection' sounded like they belonged in a gang, but the awkward way he'd said it made her smile.

He might not have been a very responsive or warm person, but he did seem nice under that indifferent attitude. However, Kagome was still uncertain, and as he turned away to make a phone call, she wrung her hands.

He'd probably offer to give her a ride into the village soon, and then she'd have to choose whether to trust him or not. Deciding to be safe, she rang Souta.

"Hey Sis, whats up?"

"Um, nothing serious, I just broke down is all." She said easily. This way she could tell him the facts and gloss over the details, hopefully making him worry a little less.

There was a panicked squeak from the line. "W-what! Are you okay?"

Kagome's lips lifted at the corners, affection leaking into her voice. "I'm fine, the 'check engine' light flashed up and I coasted to a stop. A guy pulled up and says his brother can tow my car to a village."

"You sure it's safe?" Souta asked hesitantly.

"No sweat, kiddo. He seems like a nice guy, but just in case, I'll text you my road number. I'm going to stay at the hotel overnight, and hopefully it'll be fixed soon." Kagome glanced over to where Sesshoumaru was standing, in deep conversation. He said it was doubtful it could be fixed though. Oh man, what am I going to do?

"What's the name of the village?"

Kagome's silence spoke for itself. Souta gave a long suffering sigh, as if imagining her smiling and waving it off.

She laughed weakly, "I'll text you that too." Kagome's eyes drew back to Sesshoumaru once more, but stopped short at the sight of his passenger door opening. A little girl around the age of ten stepped out, her eyes wide and inquisitive.

"Papa? Whats going on?" She asked, voice soft.

Sesshoumaru stilled, turning with a frown as he lowered the phone from his ear. "Rin. Did I not tell you to stay inside?"

Rin nodded and grinned apologetically, a gap in her teeth. Her eyes strayed to meet Kagome's, who stopped. A ripple of unease shuddered down her spine, breath catching.

When she blinked, nothing seemed to have changed, and the brief feeling of terror had vanished. Kagome realized dazedly that her hand had risen to her forehead, dizziness swaying her.

"Miss Higurashi?" Sesshoumaru's voice snapped her alert, and she smiled weakly at his inquiring look.

Mentally shaking herself and saying a brief goodbye to Souta, she put away her phone. Rin's dark brown eyes stayed glued to her the whole time, a warm smile slowly touching her face.

Kagome returned it, wondering at the faint sense of alarm that still clung to her. Stepping forward, she buried her feelings. "Your name's Rin? It's nice to meet you, I'm Kagome."

Rin nodded, her eyes landing on the ruined car. She gasped quietly. "Were you driving that car?"

Kagome, seeing her fearful look, gentled her voice."I sure was. Looks bad huh? But don't worry, not a scratch on me." At this, Rin's keen gaze roved over her face, and Kagome sweat dropped. "Well not many scratches anyway."

Sesshoumaru cleared his throat, clicking his phone off. "My brother refuses to pick up your car, but another mechanic who works with him has agreed to take it."

His expression was dark, face like thunder. Kagome hazarded a guess that he and his brother didn't get on too well. "O-oh alright. That's okay, I guess."

"We could wait for him if you wish, or I can take you to the hotel now."

Automatically, Kagome's chest tightened. Glancing down at Rin, she thought briefly to herself. He had his daughter with him, and she didn't have any reason to distrust the guy.

Raising her eyes to meet Sesshoumaru's, she smiled easily. "I'd appreciate a lift with you."

Sesshoumaru nodded, and turned to usher a beaming Rin back into the car. After retrieving her bags from the beat up wreck of her once beloved car, Kagome soon found herself being driven into unknown territory.

---

Sesshoumaru turned off from the main road almost immediately, driving into the pitch black cover of the trees.

The road was only a faint outline of a path for the car to follow, mist rolling through the road. Kagome held herself rigidly in her seat. An awkward silence hung in the air, and she caught herself glancing at Sesshoumaru. He met her gaze once and calmly returned his eyes to the road. If he noticed her uneasy expression, he didn't comment on it.

"Where were you travelling to, Kagome?" Rin pipped up from the backseat.

She turned to look at her, grateful for the distraction. "I was heading back home to Tokyo, but I kinda wish I'd driven a little earlier in the day."

The little girl nodded sagely. "Me too, we've been on the road for hours."

"Oh?" She hadn't thought to ask why they were travelling so late at night.

"Mmhm, we're on our way back from vacation because school starts again soon." She made a face, but then looked up inquisitively. "Why were you away from Tokyo? Were you on vacation too?"

Kagome tensed, but covered it up by smiling quickly. Her hands met in her lap, fingers threading. She wondered how to change the topic without seeming rude.

"Rin, Miss Higurashi is probably tired. Do not ask such questions." Sesshoumaru's steady voice cut through the air, making Kagome glance at him surreptitiously. She'd only hesitated for a moment, but had he somehow known she didn't want to answer?

Rin sighed and leaned back in her seat as Kagome smiled apologetically.

Her attention was grabbed when they turned a corner, leaving the trees behind them as the car was once more bathed in moonlight. A shudder ran down her spine, making Kagome violently quiver. It was as if something had physically brushed past her. Gritting her teeth against the sensation, Kagome was alarmed to find herself feeling nauseous. Breathing out shakily, she raised her head and found Sesshoumaru's gaze trained on her.

Blushing, she waved it off, missing his lingering look.

Houses awaited them, all grouped close together and looking somewhat old fashioned with their soft, quaint lights. Sesshoumaru carried on through the small, rural village, and Kagome glanced around, wondering how people could live in a place so isolated, so far away from any cities.

As they headed towards a cosy looking house, Kagome found her eyes returning to the driver once more. He was so serious and quiet, it was difficult to know what he was really like, yet she felt grateful to him for the ride. But it's not as if I'm going to hang around here to find out more about him. I'm getting outta this village as soon as I can.

Stopping in front of the two story house, Kagome noticed the lights flick on in the upstairs windows. Feeling guilty that they'd disturbed someone, she got out the car and followed Sesshoumaru up the porch steps. Sesshoumaru didn't knock on the front door, but instead waited silently.

There was a rustling from inside, and the jangle of keys being turned before an old woman answered the door. Kagome was surprised to see that she wore an eye-patch. She pulled her dressing gown tight around herself and frowned deeply at Sesshoumaru, who gazed back, non pulsed.

"Do you have any idea what time it is, Mr. Taisho?" The woman grumbled, her single eye narrowing.

"Past midnight, I suspect. This is Kagome Higurashi, she needs a room for the night." Sesshoumaru said, quick and to the point. He turned and looked back at Kagome, who awkwardly waved from behind him.

The woman glanced briefly at her, mouth thinning, eye widening slightly. Kagome felt another brief tremor of that strange sensation down her spine again, but shook it off. She should probably take some pills soon for the travel sickness.

She couldn't see Sesshoumaru's expression, but his voice softened, making the hair on the back of her neck stand up. "Kaede, this girl was attacked by the white dog that frequents the main road. Would you really turn her away after such an experience?"

Kaede's face turned pale, her eye narrowing once more. The two stared at each other in silence for a moment, something unseen passing between them that hung in the air. Kaede finally stepped aside, not looking at Kagome. "Bring your things inside then, shouldn't be too hard to find ye a room."

Kagome said her thanks, and after grabbing her bags, she followed the woman into the house as Rin waited in the car.

Climbing the stairs, Kaede showed her to a small room with a single bed, dresser and wardrobe. Kagome turned on her heel, words of thanks dying on her tongue the moment she realized the older woman had already left. Trying to shake of the feeling that she was intruding, her bags hit the floor as a sigh escaped her.

"A larger room could be arranged," came a velvety voice.

She jumped, finding Sesshoumaru in the door way. She hadn't heard him follow her up the stairs. He gave the room a once over, before settling his cool gaze on her.

Kagome shook her head. "No way, this suits me fine. Besides, you've done enough for me without all that hassle," her hand that waved in the air froze the moment he stepped closer.

He held up a face cloth, causing Kagome to blink in confusion. When he pressed it into her waiting hand, it felt damp and cool. "Because of the accident, it wouldn't surprise me if you've suffered whiplash. At the very least, you should tend to the cuts on your face."

"O-oh, thanks." She felt her cheeks burn, and smiled softly, cursing in the privacy of her mind. Great, the one time I meet a nice guy, I have a total of seven hours worth of driving hanging over me, and we meet because of an accident. Despite his reserved nature, Kagome couldn't stifle the flutter in her stomach as his dark eyes met hers.

"Here is the number of the garage your car is being held at. My number is below it should you need anything," he murmured, giving her a piece of folded paper.

Saying thanks again felt inadequate, so when he turned with the intention of leaving, Kagome stepped forward. "I owe you. Seriously, if there's anything I can do to repay you for this, just lemme know. I mean it."

Sesshoumaru glanced back at her briefly, eyes shining from the warm light of the lamps. His lips tugged up at the corner, just for a moment- but in a flash it was gone. He nodded and Kagome watched, transfixed, as he left without another word.

Kaede only returned briefly to tell her where the bathroom was, and that breakfast was served at 8.00 am sharp.

"How much is it to stay for the night?" Kagome asked, hoping to soothe the tense atmosphere between them. Kaede's single eye landed on her and stared with an intensity that made the young woman rock back on her heels.

"Mr. Taisho has covered your expenses."

"What?" Kagome breathed, "he can't- I mean, why would he do that?" She stuttered, at a loss what to say.

Kaede's mouth tightened, lips thinning until they pressed into a grim line. "You'd best get some sleep," she muttered, shuffling down the hallway before Kagome could utter another word.

What the heck is going on? She stayed in a state of confusion even as she lay in bed, settling down under the covers. She resisted the strong urge to push the curtains aside and peek outside for signs of the white dog. She remained alert and stiff under the covers, listening. It was so quiet outside. The sound of her own breathing was too loud. She couldn't shake the feeling that it was out there somewhere. Strange, demonic red eyes glowing from within the mists, watching her hotel window.

She shivered and curled herself into a ball, yanking the covers over her head. The image of gigantic, monstrous jaws opening wide and consuming her bed whole made sleep a distant friend for awhile. Deciding to visit the garage as soon as possible in the morning, Kagome's eyes squeezed shut, and she released a long breath.

The last thing that passed through her mind before sleep claimed her, was that she hadn't asked what the name of the village was. Yet even as she tried to remind herself to ask about it tomorrow, a phantom sensation brushed through her, wiping the thought away.

 

INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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