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The First Adventure Beyond the Barrier

Bonded

 

Chapter 1: The First Adventure Beyond the Barrier

 

Prompt: Candlelit

 

Past AU

 

Note: I'm sorry this is late coming out...I was stuck between not being able to find a good place to stop and being foggy-headed from some of the medicine I have to take right now. >< I also apologize if the quality is...off. I'll go over it once I have a fully sound mind.

 

Disclaimer: I, sadly, do not own the characters of Inuyasha.

 

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Chapter 1: The First Adventure Beyond the Barrier

 

"The time has come," old Kaede's voice echoed around the group of youths ominously. "Are ye ready?"

 

"As ready as I'll ever be," Kagome grinned as she tugged at the uncomfortable traditional red and white miko garb she wore, a matching red shawl hand-woven by her mother covering her shoulders. It was starting to get cool now, trees nearly bare of their colorful leaves.

 

"Guess so," Sota answered somewhat nervously from Kagome's- his sister's- side, the boy dressed in purple and white monk garb.

 

"Definitely," Sango smirked, her lithe frame adorned in a tight suit of black with pink armor and red trim. Slayer's gear.

 

"Yes, ma'am," Kohaku bowed from his place by his elder sister, Sango, the boy dressed in a matching suit of slayer's garb trimmed in teal with green armor.

 

"It is an honor," Miroku replied with a respectful bow, dressed in purple and white robes...and standing a little too close to Sango for Kohaku's liking.

 

"This is gunna be fun!" Rin giggled as she clapped her hands, dancing around in her red and white priestess robes.

 

"Then we go," Kaede inclined her head, her one eye set upon her precious pupils...before she turned and lead them to the far edge of the protected village. There was a massive shimmering barrier covering hundreds of acres of woodlands. She stopped them at the barrier, lining them up to face it before continuing the age-old ritual. "We call upon ye, Midoriko-sama, creator of the barrier, host of power, that ye might grant us access to the ancient forest and the restless spirits that reside within." Most of the youths waited with baited breath- it was a great honor to be able to speak with the reknowned first miko and be granted the oppertunity to take on a spirit beast. A demon whose life was taken but they wanted to serve a greater purpose...or souls of demons who gave their lives willingly for various reasons. Occasionally, a hostile soul would be captured...one that needed to be broken much like one breaks in a horse. Kagome never liked that analogy- it was cruel, the breaking of spirits! But it was typically demons of power that could be of some use to The Order. Although...no one wanted to begin their partnering with a wild soul...

 

"Kaede," an ominous female voice echoed around them. Kohaku and Sota started while the rest of the group peered around inside for the legendary miko. "You bring me a new group so soon after the first? And so young?" A beautiful woman dressed in ancient red and white garb walked into the clearing, bamboo and metal armor trimmed in red adorning her torso and shoulders. There were gasps of awe at the intense chestnut-eyed beauty, murmerings...and an anxious, lecherous rub of the hands.

 

"Aye," Kaede sighed, looking at her unfortunate star-struck bunch. "Magatsuhi's allies grow stronger...and more numerous by the day. Any child of decent talent is encouraged to receive their spirit companion as soon as possible. It is for their safety...if he emerges..."

 

"He will not," Midoriko replied firmly. "Without the power of the jewel I formed with our souls, sealing us both away, he has no means of revival."

 

"Agreed, but where is the jewel? Do ye know?"

 

"I...do not," Midoriko replied uneasily. "Ever since my last incarnation passed, burning her body with the jewel...it has not resurfaced."

 

"Mmm....that may well be in our favor, then."

 

"Um, excuse me...," Kagome broke in politely, gaining two very unnerving stares. "But what do you mean by your 'last incarnation'? Your soul is right here...sealed. How could you have reincarnated?"

 

"You know much about reincarnation?" Midoriko asked, genuinely surprised. Most students had to be taught more about it later in life... Kagome nodded cheerily with a little hum. "Well..." She shared a low-key impressed look with Kaede before turning back to the promising young woman before her. "Do you know of our final battle? Magatsuhi's and mine?" Kagome nodded again. "When I sealed our souls in the Shikon no Tama after the days-long battle, there was so much opposition in power that our newly stone-laden bodies cracked and seperated violently. My corpse was thrust into these woods...and Magatsuhi's atop a mountain. We can sense each other still...and the war that wages between us in that cursed jewel. While our bodies were cracking, our souls were still being combined into the jewel. Some pieces, however, were freed in the process. It is why I can stand here now and speak with you...why he can persuade demons to join his cause in wiping out humanity from where his corpse lies. But there was still enough of our souls remaining for a rebirth...one for each of us. My last incarnation died some fifty years ago...at the hands of a folly created by Magatsuhi's reincarnation- Naraku. But when my reincarnation died, she had the Shikon she guarded fiercely burned with her body. It disappeared into the underworld with her when she went...and I do not know when it might resurface. It will, eventually, but I have yet to feel its pull."

 

"The Shikon," Miroku spoke up, serious now. "Wishes can be made upon it, correct?"

 

"That is correct," Midoriko inclined her head. "It can only be destroyed by a single pure wish... But any wish can be made. Power, wealth, ability...whatever you can dream, it can grant...but not without dire consequences. Like Yin and Yang, the forces used to seal our souls in the gem in the first place, there is a light and a darkness to each wish. I have seen this time and time again as we have warred against the evil demons trying to revive Magatsuhi. And evil wishes taint the jewel. It is why our strongest priestesses were given the responsibility of keeping it pure while debate rages for the single pure wish that will destroy it."

 

"But...if it's destroyed...won't you die?" Rin asked worriedly, all attention turning to the child.

 

"I am long passed my time of death, little one," Midoriko spoke gently with a softened look on her face. "And I will pass peacefully into the next world when the jewel is gone. Magatsuhi will rot in the pits of hell...and life should become easier for everyone."

 

"...What if someone wishes for your revival?" Kohaku asked hesitantly, starting when she looked his way. The boy bowed immediately. "Ah! Meaning no disrespect! But...wouldn't that be a pure wish?"

 

"No, dear child, it would not," Midoriko answered with a dolefulness to her tone. "My revival means Magatsuhi's revival. I could not defeat him the first time...and now he has an army of demons on his side. There are not enough people with spiritual powers left to face him. Even with their spirit companions. It would also bring about the death of any reincarnations of ours...as one soul cannot exist in two bodies at the same time." They nodded, most of them understanding the grave implications.

 

"Speaking of spirit companions...," Kaede cleared her throat. "Is it not time for their pairing?"

 

"It is," Midoriko inclined her head, turning back to the group that stood a little straighter. "You...learned child. You will be first." She pointed at a stunned and now highly unnerved Kagome. "What is your name?"

 

"H-Higurashi Kagome," she stammered out. But she'd frozen in place.

 

"Come," Midoriko bid, waving at her to step into the barrier. Slowly, hesitantly, Kagome did as she was asked, shivering as the powerful reiki barrier accepted her. She approached the legendary miko on shaky knees. "Do you know how to undertake this task, Kagome?" She shook her head 'no'. "Did you bring the candle?"

 

"Oh...y-yeah- er, I mean...yes ma'am," Kagome stumbled over her words as she pulled out a single white candle she had made, herself. It was a requirement for the summoning of her partner.

 

"Good," the much elder miko nodded as she approached. "We are about to create a flame purely of your reiki. It will not fade until the wax has been fully spent or you have fulfilled your task. You will take your candle deep into the woods...the deeper you go, the better chances you have for a more powerful demon partner. Your goal is to reach a grave deep within and light the candles around it with yours, creating a reiki candlelit grave. The demon will tell you the words needed to summon them, and his or her name. There is power in a name...theirs and yours. It is a power shared between host and demon...but you will come to realize this over time."

 

"Alright...sounds easy enough," Kagome nodded, feeling a little bit better about the previously unknown adventure she was about to embark on.

 

"There will be difficulties," Midoriko interjected, making Kagome's heart drop again. "The scenery may change...it is an enchanted forest, after all, and does as it pleases."

 

"Then...how do you know if you're heading towards the center or not?" Sango asked hesitantly, worried for her friend.

 

"You simply do not," Midoriko unnerved most of them. "In addition to that issue, there will be wildlife amid the woods...birds, foxes...wolves. And demons that are frustrated may attack out of aggitation, or try to persuade you to light their candles. But the decision to light the candles or not is yours. If you feel something is not right or that you would not get along, do not light their candles. You do not want to be bonded with a partner you cannot get along with." Kagome nodded, trying to take it all in at once and commit it to memory. It was so much to remember...and so much danger she was about to face. Alone. "Are you ready, Higurashi Kagome?"

 

"No," she answered honestly, looking up at the surprised elder miko. "Let's do this!"

 

"An honest one...," Midoriko cracked a smile. "Admirable. One must remember, though, when in the face and at the mercy of an adversary...truth can be hidden by simply not telling everything." Kagome nodded slowly, her words feeling foreboding in a strange way... "Now, hold your candle up with your left hand and hold your right hand over it by several centimeters." Kagome did as she was told before looking up at the intimidating woman. "Good. We will now focus on drawing out your reiki to light the fire. Summon it and let it pool in your right hand." Concentrating, Kagome focused on pushing her reiki towards her hand. It was more difficult for her to do without an object to focus her power into, but she did manage to summon some of her reiki to the surface. She was so concentrated, Kagome didn't see the flash of alarm on Midoriko's face. "Stop." Confused, Kagome's azure eyes upturned to intense widened chestnuts.

 

"What be the problem, Midoriko?" Kaede asked, her own brow furrowed.

 

"So soon?" Midoriko asked instead, allowing her form to shimmer and become translucent. "Forgive me." She reached into Kagome's chest.

 

"H-Hey!" Kagome cried with a jump, nearly dropping her candle. "What're you-?!" The hand moved to her left side, just under her ribcage.

 

"Here," Midoriko gasped, pulling her hand back. As soon as she did...she couldn't sense it anymore. She flickered back into her tangible form, taking Kagome by the arm. "I need you to be very, very careful. I wouldn't have even noticed if you had not summoned your reiki..."

 

"Wh-What...are you talking about?" Kagome asked, heart pounding in her chest. Midoriko took a long look at the terrified young woman in front of her. She already had a daunting task ahead of her...now was not the time to add on extra pressure.

 

"I will explain myself in full later," Midoriko spoke very slowly, as though pondering each and every word she spoke. "But until then...in this forest...I need you to be extremely careful. Your reiki...when lit and projected...will draw demons like a moth to the flame. Do not trust just any demon. Get as far in as you can, and trust your heart and instincts when it comes to lighting the candles. Can you do this?" Kagome nodded hesitantly. "Good...you will do just fine, then. Hold the candle up as before." Slowly, Kagome copied her actions from before, summoning her reiki into her right hand. Both of her hands were trembling. Midoriko set her hand atop Kagome's, pulling more reiki from the surprised girl. "Now...push it down onto the candle- imagine a flame burning bright."

 

"Okay," Kagome whispered, concentrating completely on lighting her candle. Within a matter of moments, a maroon-azure flickering flame blazed into existence. "Whoa!" Kagome's eyes widened before a smile stretched across her face. "I did it!"

 

"Indeed, you did," Midoriko smiled back, mildly amused by how quickly and easily her demeanor had changed. "Your flame is a little brighter than most...so take care. It is time to find your partner." She peered into the dark woods, Kagome following her gaze with a nervous swallow. "Be cautious, and all will be fine." Midoriko gave the girl a reassuring pat on the back.

 

"Can't wait to meet your partner," Sango called, Kagome looking back at her best friend. "Whoever you get will be great, I just know it!" Kagome's tension eased off again.

 

"Wish me luck in finding a female partner!" Miroku joined in, eyebrows waggling lewdly. He got a rough elbow to the gut from Sango. Kagome couldn't help the giggle that bubbled up, the rest of her friends and brother calling out well-wishes.

 

"Thanks, guys! I'll be back as soon as I can!" Kagome gave a grin and wave as she clutched her candle firmly in hand. Turning back to the forest, she made her decision. She wasn't going to let the darkness and the unknown frighten her. She was going to get through this just fine! With a determined look that made Midoriko proud, Kagome took off into the woods at a jog, hopping over roots and ducking under low branches.

 

"What bothers ye so?" Kaede asked softly as the youths busied themselves talking about what sort of spirit partner Kagome would come out with. Midoriko was still staring out at where she had disappeared.

 

"...She bears a certain resemblance to your sister, Kikyo, doesn't she?" Midoriko replied softly, Kaede giving pause and staring into the forest with her one eye widened.

 

"Ye don't mean..."

 

"Aye, I do," Midoriko sighed softly. Kaede had always seen the physical resemblance, but she hadn't honestly believed Kagome to be her sister's reincarnation...and, thus, Midoriko's. "I probably wouldn't have believed it, myself, if I hadn't have felt her reiki up close...and the sleeping jewel within her torso."

 

"Kami-sama...," Kaede hissed, then rounded on Midoriko. "Isn't Inuyasha's soul trapped in these woods?"

 

"Just as wild and untamed as the day he was forcibly sealed in," Midoriko answered solemnly as they shared a worried gaze.

 

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"Okay...wood-sama...can you please stop turning things around and confusing me?" Kagome pleaded half an hour in. That was the third time she had passed that split tree...and she'd been walking in straight lines! "I need to get further in..." The only answer she got was the chirp of crickets and the low hum of water flowing in a nearby stream. Sighing, she stopped and looked for a moment...before veering off to the right. Everything had been...unnervingly quiet so far. She'd seen a cat or two and a red fox eying her from behind a tree, but that was about it. No spirits. No graves. "How far in are the graves...? And how far do I have to go to find the deepest ones?" She nibbled her bottom lip as worry set in.

 

"You still have a long way to go, lady."

 

"I was afraid of that...," Kagome answered absent-mindedly before she stopped and blinked. Turning to the left...and looking down just a little...she found the most adorable little demon she'd ever seen! It looked like a fox kit, because of the big fluffy red tail...but the kit was so cute she couldn't figure out if the kit was a girl or a boy! They looked, physically, to be about her Rin's age- nine. Big green eyes were upturned to her.

 

"Never seen a fox demon before?" The kit's chest puffed out proudly.

 

"Not in real life- only in scolls and books," Kagome admitted with a smile as she moved to stand by the adorable little kit. "What's your name?"

 

"Are...are you going to contract me as your spirit?" The kit looked at her with wide eyes.

 

"Well...er...no...," Kagome stumbled on her words. "I just thought...maybe we could be friends?" The kit's eyes were wide before they blinked, looking at her funny.

 

"You really don't know much about this place, doya?" The kit asked with a flick of their tail. She shook her head. "Okay, well, listen. Don't ask for names unless you're gonna contract a demon. And don't give your name, either. Any demon here that knows your name can use it against you."

 

"I don't understand...how can someone use my name against me?" Kagome asked, remembering Midoriko's cautious words from before. "A name is just a name."

 

"You came in here blind!" The little demon wailed, a hand over their face. They ran their hands over their face irritatedly before turning back to the thoroughly confused girl. "Look, look, okay. Names have power. You can contract with a name...you can curse with a name...banish...seal...the list goes on. You can empower one another...or tear each other down. If a demon knows your name, they get a bit of power over you, as well. When you contract someone, you promise not to abuse the power and vice versa. Get it?"

 

"I'm definitely starting to," Kagome replied softly, a chill running down her spine. Could her demon partner hurt her with her name alone after summoning him or her? It was unnerving to think about...

 

"Good," the kit nodded. "Now get going! ...The wolves are starting to stir..." They looked around warily.

 

"Wolves..?" Kagome asked with a gulp. "How can you tell?"

 

"I can smell 'em," the kit tapped their nose. "Can also smell your fear." They looked Kagome dead in the eye. "And they can, too. So either buck up and stop being afraid, or don't show it. Lotsa demons here will prey on your fear."

 

"Thank you," Kagome whispered, nodding unsteadily. She feared even more- she couldn't help it. This place was already creepy...and it was becoming terrifying. She would just...have to not show it.

 

"Mmm," the kit nodded. "It'll be okay." The little one patted her back. "Just keep moving, 'kay?" Again, Kagome nodded, looking back at the road ahead. She took a breath.

 

"I hope one of my friends contracts you and gets you outta this terrible place," Kagome spoke, surprising the kit.

 

"...Me, too," they answered softly. "Take care."

 

"You take care, too," Kagome sent a watery smile to her little friend before facing the dark woods again and taking off at a brisk pace. She wasn't fifteen feet from the kit before she heard something large running somewhere behind her.

 

"RUN!" the kit shouted, and Kagome flinched, fear gripping her heart. She took off at a sprint, her candle casting odd flickering shadows as she ducked under branches and vines and leapt over rocks, roots, and a small ravine. Some of the branches still caught in her long black hair and scratched her face. But she didn't stop running. The sounds of feet- maybe paws?- hitting the ground behind her and low growls kept her on the move. Kagome saw her first graves while on the run, but she really didn't have much time to actually look at them. Before long she was panting, side burning, and eyes stinging with tears. It felt like she'd been running for miles...but she could still hear something panting behind her. Turning for the first time to see what it was, Kagome found a brown wolf snarling at her. With a whimper, she turned around just in time...to catch her left ankle on a rock jutting out of the ground. With a cry, Kagome tumbled forwards...and right onto a stone grave. She barely managed to tuck her candle into her chest as she fell, keeping the wax and flame carefully in-tact. (An experiment she'd done earlier, while bored, proved that the flame wouldn't burn her or catch her clothing on fire.) It was all she could do to turn as she sucked in sharp breaths, left foot readying to kick her pursuer. The brown wolf growled as he edged closer, muscles tensing to jump. 'I'm not even going to make it through tonight...,' Kagome whispered in confines of her mind, tears welling and spilling from her eyes. The wolf's jaws opened...but a whistle had his ears upturning. He looked around, Kagome watching him with her heart thundering in her ears. Slowly, a form materialized between her and the wolf. A man dressed in wolf pelts, a brown tail protruding from his tailbone, his long dark hair tied up in a ponytail...a spirit. A demon.

 

"Hey!" The demon growled at the wolf, one finger pointing at the wolf while the other hand was planted on his powerful-looking waist. The wolf sat back on his haunches looking up at him. "We don't eat possible contractors!" The wolf dipped its head down and actually...kind of looked guilty. 'This is...so bizarre...,' Kagome commented silently. How could he communicate with the wolf so well like that?! "Mutt." The demon grumbled, giving him a light kick. He whined at the demon. "Go catch some rabbit if you're hungry! There's a few off in that direction." He pointed to Kagome's left. The wolf barked once like an obedient dog before running off in that direction. "Geez..."

 

"Uhm...thank you...for helping me...," Kagome managed to breathe out, her heart finally slowing to a more normal pace as her breath began catching up.

 

"Oh...no sweat," the demon replied as he turned with a bright boyish grin. He was...really handsome... Kagome felt her cheeks warming as she managed a small smile and laid her head down on the cool rock. She winced as a place around her left eyebrow stung. "Oi...you okay, human? You crash-landed into my grave kinda hard..." He walked over and crouched down, his face coming into her field of vision again.

 

"Yeah...just needed to catch my breath a minute," Kagome replied softly, still lightly panting.

 

"Here," the demon gingerly lifted her head up before helping her into a sitting position on the rock. His hands were so big...and tipped in sharp-looking claws... "You're bleeding." He touched the place on her left brow that stung, his fingers coming away with blood. She hissed and pulled away.

 

"Yeah...must've hit my head...," Kagome murmered, rubbing the opposite side to try and will away her newly-formed headache. She looked up at the curious demon, the around at her surroundings. She was on a rock slab with ancient markings. It extended out what seemed to be about six feet (1.83 meters), and came to a halt with an oval stone headstone covered in moss. There was one candle on top of the headstone, and one on either side. Four candles lined each side of the long stone grave.

 

"This is my grave- I'm a wolf demon," the demon explained. It made sense...why the wolf listened to him and all. "This the first grave you've seen?"

 

"It is," Kagome nodded as she looked back up at him in just a hint of awe. He grinned charmingly, holding his hand out and helping her to her feet. She winced again as she put her left ankle down. Great! It felt like she'd sprained it...

 

"A bit accident prone, aren't ya?" He teased lightly, making her cheeks burn a little hotter. "Ah, no problem, though! I was the head of my pack- alpha male wolf." His chest puffed up proudly. 'That's a male thing for sure,' Kagome mused to herself amusedly. "I can protect you." He grinned, self-assured. He was definitely good-looking...and she could feel his strength from where she was at. He was a powerful demon. But...something in her heart didn't set well with the thought of him as her companion. There was something...almost fake about his charming demeanor. "If you will tell me your name, I will vow myself to you." Alarm bells went off in Kagome's head.

 

"Kaori," Kagome answered, thinking of someone else. An unnerving smirk crossed his lips.

 

"Kaori...I command you to grovel at my feet and beg to be my servant bitch for all the days of your life," the demon smirked maliciously. It made Kagome glad she hadn't used her real name. She just stared at him with wide eyes a moment before they narrowed. The demon's expression morphed into confusion. "Why aren't you begging, weak mortal?" Fury blazed in Kagome's eyes. Before she could stop herself or think about the repercussions, her free hand lashed out and struck the stunned demon across the face with a resounding 'smack'.

 

"I sure am glad I didn't give you my real name," Kagome growled at him angrily, shock and understanding flashing across his features. Everything she had read about wolf demons surfaced in her mind. "Wolves are supposed to be loyal, huh? Looks like you're loyal to no one but yourself and your pack! No way will I be partnered to someone like you!"

 

"Who cares whether or not I'm loyal to a weak-ass human?" The wolf snarled back at her. "I didn't ask for this shit, and I'm not about to play puppy for someone who can kill me with a single word!" All at once Kagome realized that he was one of the 'wild' ones. A demon who was pulled in against his will and needed to be 'tamed'.

 

"I'm sorry you got pulled into this mess against your will, I am," Kagome managed to reel her anger in, his brow furrowing. "But I can't change the past, and neither can you. Instead of tricking people and acting like a child, why don't you actually try to work with someone and get out of this rut? The faster Magatsuhi dies, the faster all demons here will be released to live freely once more."

 

"And you're proposing to be that human?" He snorted derisively.

 

"No," Kagome answered boldly, stunning him. He took a delicate whiff of the air, his brow furrowing again.

 

"You dare to strike me and tell me what I should do with my life, and you have the gall to call me childish?" He advanced on her, looming over her, but Kagome didn't budge. He grabbed her free arm, but she didn't flinch.

 

"That's right," she answered, not backing down. Rage blazed in Kagome's unusual azure eyes, even slate blues staring her down. A smirk cracked across his lips, a fang protruding from the side.

 

"You're gutsy. I like that," he surprised her, his like finally genuine. "You're the first person to stand up to me here- I respect that. And you no longer reek of fear." Kagome blinked up at him in surprise. He released her arm. "I'll give you a five minute head start before I call my wolves. Pray you find your precious partner before then...I'd really hate to rip apart such a cute and feisty delicacy." He pinched her cheek as he grinned at her. Kagome batted his hand away with an 'ow!', the girl rubbing her cheek tenderly. "Of course, you probably taste delicious..." His tongue darted out of his mouth and slid along his lips hungrily. A cold chill ran down Kagome's spine as she stared at him unseeingly. "Well? What're you waitin' for? Five minutes and counting. Chop chop!" He hopped up on top of his grave stone and sat, clapping his hands at the 'chop chop'.

 

"I hope you find your way out," Kagome uttered honestly before she spun on her heel and ran into the woods on a bad ankle. She ignored the pain to the best of her ability and kept moving at a slower pace, noting how high the full moon was in the sky. She'd been in the woods for quite some time... Azure turned to her candle. Half of the wax had burnt away. Kagome needed to find a partner soon. A strong one, at that. After a few minutes of running, Kagome skid to a halt at one of the graves at the foot of a towering tree to catch her breath. Something about this one felt...familiar. Slowly, a silver-haired man appeared before her, triangular dog ears on his head. He was robed all in red, entrancing golden eyes staring her down.

 

"Kikyo?" He whispered in the hush of the darkness.

 

"That's not my name," Kagome shook her head as a strange pang of pain shot across her chest.

 

"You look like her, you smell like her," he pressed on, fingers cracking at his sides. She felt a sense of foreboding warning flare up within her. He felt...wrong.

 

"That may be, but it doesn't change the fact that I'm not her," Kagome replied softly, almost afraid to talk too loud. It might set him off... "If you don't believe me, use the name. There's power in a name."

 

"It's your funeral," he grinned with a sadistic gleam to his eyes. "I condemn Kikyo to burn in the deepest, darkest pits of hell for all eternity!" His sudden yell was way too loud in the quiet, and Kagome peered around in almost a paranoid way. 'I really need to get going before the wolves catch up...,' she noted silently, her breathing significantly caught up. 'He must really hate this Kikyo person...' "Where's the chains? The little demon imps? The hell-bound crater?"

 

"I told you," Kagome rounded on him irritably. "I'm not Kikyo!" A howl sounded from nearby. She jumped skittishly and looked around. "Bye!" Without another glance, Kagome took off towards the west, trying to put as much distance between her and the wolves as possible.

 

"Hey! Wait, wench! I'm not through with you yet!" His surprised cry came from behind her. And then there was a rumble that knocked Kagome off-balance and to the left. She was shocked to find the demon sailing forwards on the right, claws extended in an attack that deeply scarred the ground. She barely managed to keep on her feet, her heart pounding a little faster at the attack.

 

"You just tried to attack me, didn't you?!" She pointed an accusory finger at him.

 

"You're damn right I did," he growled menacingly. "This time I won't miss!"

 

"Why did I get all the wild ones?!" Kagome yelled at no one in particular as she leapt out of the way of another of his attacks.

 

"Stay still! Ack! Hey!" He cried, Kagome turning just in time to watch wolves jumping him and latching onto his legs. "Leggo you overgrown mutts!" He thrashed and kicked at them. 'This is my chance,' Kagome smiled, turning her back on them and dashing forwards as fast as her hurt left foot would allow. She was swallowed by a denser mass of trees, the roots hard to navigate through. It definitely slowed her down...but she made progress. There were a few sleepy demons pop their heads out to watch Kagome pass, but other than that...it was oddly quiet for a while. But all good things never seem to last...

 

"Hm?" Kagome felt a pull from both the candle and her heart. She could see a grave in the distance...the rock was disshevelled and covered in moss and vines. The candles were barely even discernable in the low light...but Kagome could feel a faint pulse in her chest. This was the one. With a smile on her face, she began picking her way through the roots to get to her slumbering partner. 'Just a little more-!' Snarling snapped her out of her reveries, pain searing her right arm as powerful canine teeth pierced her flesh. "Auggghh!" Kagome cried out, one eye shut as she glared at the wolf angrily. He snarled, digging his teeth in deeper as he pulled her arm out, as if threatening to rip it off. "Let go!" She pushed her candle in his face, trying to will it to burn him. To her surprise, he yelped. The wolf unlocked his jaw from her arm, although his teeth still raked down it and cut her, the white fabric of her garb ripping and seeping red. Kagome grit her teeth, swinging the flame at him again to scare him back some. In her peripheral, she could see another wolf and a humanoid form. "Dammit..." Peering towards the left, the grave seemed so far away...

 

"I'd stay away from that grave, if I were you," the wolf demon's voice carried from her right. She looked back, careful not to turn her back on the wolf before her. "That guy's worse than I am." Her heart dropped just a bit...but she still felt the call.

 

"My reiki chose him...so I'm gonna wake him up, regardless," Kagome held her chin up defiantly. He smirked down at her.

 

"Damn you're hard-headed," the wolf demon laughed. "You'd have made for a good wolf."

 

"Outta the way!" The silver-haired demon came barrelling through, knocking into the wolf demon. His golden eyes fixed on Kagome, and she shivered. Time to run again! "I've got dibs on killing the bitch!" Kagome chanced it, turning her back on the two and clamboring down the small root-laden hill towards the grave that beckoned. "Hey! Come back here!"

 

"Get back, muttface! She's mine!"

 

"Shut up, flea bag!"

 

"Ah!" Kagome grit her teeth as she felt the wolf graze her back with his claws.

 

"Fuck it! Iron Reaver Soul Stealer!"

 

"Nnnghh!" Kagome staggered, the attack tearing the flesh open on her back on the left side to her shoulder. The sharp, biting pain was like nothing she had ever experienced...and if she had been in a safe place, Kagome was sure she would've hit the ground. But she wasn't. She needed to keep moving. Tears pouring from her stinging eyes, she gripped her candle like a lifeline and staggered forwards on trembling knees. The silver-haired demon was ahead, between her and the grave, smirking like a demon who had already won the battle. The wolf snarled, making himself known again as he latched onto her already-hurt left ankle. She stumbled into a tree on her right side. "Get off!" Kagome kicked at the wolf as he dug his teeth in and twisted. She only let a small sound of pain out, trying not to give them the satisfaction. With a snarl of her own, Kagome picked up a large rock and chunked it at his head. The wolf yelped and let go, backing off quite a few paces while the wolf yelled and the silver-haired demon laughed. Kagome stumbled on down to the bottom of the hill, leaving a blood trail dripping behind her.

 

"You that anxious to die?" The silver-haired demon smirked, ears swivelling atop his head as she approached. "I can put you outta your misery." He cracked his fingers devilishly.

 

"Why are you both so conceited?" Kagome surprised him and the wolf both, his attention back on the red-stained miko.

 

"'Scuse me?" The silver-haired man approached, claws at the ready.

 

"You've already lost, little bird," the wolf grinned as he appeared in a flash, not letting the other demon any farther ahead than himself. "You can spout all the big words you like, but you're still going to die."

 

"I can't, and I won't," Kagome replied defiantly, looking them each in the eye. "I don't care what you do to me...but I can't die. There are too few of us left...I won't give up and let Magatsuhi win!"

 

"Tch! Can't wait for him to wipe you guys out," the silver-haired demon sneered. "Then we'll all be free!"

 

"You really think he'll just let you go free?" Kagome questioned firmly. "They don't know which demons here are loyal or not. All they would have to do is destroy the tombstones to send you to the next world, and there would be nothing you'd be able to do about it when the barrier falls. It's the barrier that allows you to have a physical form, after all. It'd be easier just to wipe every demon here out." Her words had the desired effect- they were both clearly unnerved. And it was all truth. "And this little bird here." She pointed to herself. "Is one of the few standing between you and certain doom. So, if you don't mind, I have a job to do."

 

"Plucky, feisty little thing, aren't you?" The wolf chuckled good-naturedly. "And unexpectedly loyal. ...I like you. I wish I'd made a better first impression." He grinned wolfishly. "Be my woman?"

 

"WHAT?!"

 

"Uh...excuse me?" Kagome blinked at the wolf in shock, the adrenaline in her veins tapering off and leaving her exhausted.

 

"My. Woman," he repeated slowly while the silver-haired man fumed. "Mine. My mate. Mother of my children."

 

"You fuckin' bastard, listen here-!"

 

"...I'll pass," Kagome's answer brought silence to the area.

 

"Decisive...I like that, too," the wolf nodded, exasperating Kagome. How in the world had everything changed so much in so little time?! "I'm not giving up." The silver demon jumped up in his face, arguing. Kagome took the que to stagger on towards the grave while they bickered. The world tilted and became bleary at times, but she did reach the grave after a long few moments. Blood trickled over the vines and stone. She pulled them back from the ancient-looking rocks and candles. There was a strong pulse as she respectfully cleared the space. This was it. But there was no demon yet... Taking a chance, Kagome lit the candle on the headstone.

 

"Why do you disturb this one?" A very smooth male baritone asked, Kagome watching in awe as the figure of a demon slowly shimmered into existance before her. He stood on the opposite side of the gravestone, silvery moonspun hair cascading over his shoulders, maroon-laden molten golden eyes locked in Kagome's darkened azure. He was really...tall...and very, very different from the other two both in the manner of appearance and power.

 

"We need your help," Kagome replied softly, her bloodied hand anchoring on his gravestone to help her stand straight.

 

"I have no interest in aiding humans," the demon replied simply.

 

"Please," Kagome plead with a shaky breath. "My reiki candle lead me to you." His eyes flickered to her strange firelight before he returned his focus on the anxious miko. "Please. I fear an end is coming to the war...and I'd rather see all of the demons here free than destroyed." Something flickered in his eyes and he stepped forwards, fazing right through the grave and the candle. Kagome stepped back so that he would have enough room to stand between herself and the grave. It was about then that she noticed things were awfully quiet behind her...but she didn't dare turn away from the powerful demon before her.

 

"Do you know what I do to humans, girl?" His hand snatched her neck in half a second, squeezing enough to be a warning but not enough to completely cut off her oxygen. Her free hand rose to grasp his wrist in hand, shock flashing across her face. "I kill them. It takes but a flick of the wrist." He flicked his finger across the right side of her jaw, her grip tightening on his wrist momentarily as it cut a neat straight line in her flesh, warm blood dribbling from the wound. "What makes you think I won't kill you here and now?" 'Count on me to attract the bloodthirsty one,' Kagome kept her inner monolog to herself.

 

"I don't doubt your power...or your abilities," Kagome answered, struggling to take in a deeper breath. She kept her eyes firmly locked in his. "I know you can kill me. I don't have to acess my reiki to know it. But you won't." His head tilted just the slightest hint to the side. "Because you are a demon of great power. To show restraint is the greatest show of control and power." Again, she was sure she saw something in his eyes for a split second, but it was gone before she could even try to decifer it.

 

"Hn...," he hummed softly, his grip loosening just a touch. She took in a breath with gratefulness. "You say the war is nearing the end...and you would rather see the demons saved. Most unusual. Humans would rather us dead. How can I trust your words?" He was searching her face carefully, nostrils flaring. He was taking her every reaction into account, she realized as she tried to think of a way to earn just a little of his trust. The only way she could think of was...

 

"I pledge myself to you," Kagome spoke softly, but with meaning in her voice as his eyes widened a hint. The silver-haired demon behind her started making a fuss, and the wolf demon quickly started trying to quiet him. "On my word I swear to be fair to you, to fight at your side, to take care of you to the best of my ability, and to free you once the battle is over or with my dying breath. I give you my name as a show of good faith." It was a good time, too, with the arguing behind them. She lowered her voice to the softest whisper she could muster. "Higurashi Kagome." To her utter shock, he pulled her forwards, nostrils flaring as he sniffed the side of her face intently. "Wh-What are you-?!"

 

"Higurashi...Kagome," he whispered into her ear, the girl shuddering at the sound and the way his massive youki crashed into her. To her surprise, her body allowed it...and it didn't hurt her. Her reiki did nothing in retaliation...but, rather, welcomed it in like an old friend. His hand wasn't on her neck anymore...it tilted her chin up as he pulled away, looking at her so intently she was afraid she might melt away then and there. "Interesting..."

 

"...Yeah?" Was all she could think of to say.

 

"I will aid you," he thoroughly shocked her.

 

"WHAT?!"

 

"Shut up and butt out of their business, muttface!"

 

"This is my business, asshole!"

 

"Why did you change your mind..? Er...if you don't mind me asking," Kagome tried to ask respectfully.

 

"You are an honest human," he replied simply. "Do not dissappoint me."

 

"I'll...do my very best not to," Kagome promised with a shellshocked nod. "Uh...how-how do we finish this? I need to bandage my wounds s-so I don't bleed out."

 

"Now that would be disappointing," he raised a delicate brow at Kagome, making her cheeks flush a pale pink. "Finish lighting the candles." He released her chin and Kagome nodded, setting about her task as quickly as she could. The silver demon and the wolf had come to blows. As she was lighting the outer candles, the silver-haired demon was coming down towards her, claws extended.

 

"Shit!" He hissed, Kagome turning and bracing for impact. Her eyes had shut tight, breath hitched as she waited for it...but instead there was a gust of wind and the sound of wood splintering.

 

"Continue," her partner encouraged, Kagome opening her eyes and turning back to find the silver demon groaning in a newly-made hole in a tree. The wolf was gaping.

 

"Remind me not to make you angry," Kagome spoke shakily as she set about lighting the final candles.

 

"Hn."

 

"Alright, now?" Kagome asked dutifully as she turned back to her partner-in-the-making.

 

"My vows," he replied. Locking eyes again, he began to speak. "I pledge myself to you. On my honor I promise to protect you and fight at your side, to take care of you to the best of my ability, and stand with you until death, freedom, or my return to this grave. I give you my name as a show of good faith." He leaned forwards so that his lips were level with her ear, his spoken word quiet. "Sesshoumaru."

 

"Sesshoumaru," Kagome whispered back, testing his name on her tongue. Killing perfection. It suited him. He shifted in place, the only show that it had affected him.

 

"Now send your reiki into me as I did to you," he commanded. Uh-oh. This was not her strong suit... Closing her eyes, Kagome imagined her reiki washing out like a low tide. It would reach out and wash over him gently.... "...Is there a problem, miko?"

 

"Ahh...," Kagome sighed as she lost concentration. Her eyes snapped open as she looked up at the expectant demon before her. She felt very small and useless... "I-uh...this isn't my strong suit. If I have something to focus it into directly, I can do it... May I touch your hand?" She swapped the candle into her left hand, as there was much less blood on her right one. She held the appendage up in hopes he'd go for it. To her utter surprise, Sesshoumaru lifted her left hand up and held it, candle and all.

 

"Use the candle as a conduit," he instructed firmly. "Let your reiki flow through like water." Nodding, Kagome shut her eyes and concentrated again. It was much easier to summon up her reiki this time, pooling it into the candle. It became brighter...but then she pushed past it, forcing it ahead...into Sesshoumaru. His sharply hitched breath was her only clue that it had worked. "Pull back." His words were strained...and she was half-afraid she'd hurt him. Pulling the reins on her reiki as best she could, Kagome opened her eyes and broke contact with his hand to assure her reiki would come back. It did...but she found herself staring at the demon in half-frightened fascination. His eyes...the whites had turned red...his pupils were slitted teals...and his two maroon markings on each side of his face had become jagged...

 

"Did I...hurt you?" She asked fearfully, worry shining high in her azure orbs.

 

"No," he spoke in a deeper tone. An inhuman voice accompanied by a rolling growl.

 

"Okay...now?" Kagome squeaked out with wide eyes. He plucked the candle from her left hand and put it in her right before pulling the bloody appendage up to his lips. "Ah! What are you-?!" He laved a new trickle of blood from her forearm to her upper arm. "Nngh!" Kagome shivered and blushed, the strange sensation of his hot tongue on her arm making her feel...funny. Warm, in strange places. His eyes hooded as a powerful growl rumbled from his chest.

 

"Now you partake of my blood," he rasped out, easily slicing into his arm with his sharp claws. He went on to lick his free hand- the one he'd held her bloody hand in- free of her blood.

 

"Blood...right...," Kagome responded weakly, looking at the proffered arm. Crimson trickled over the side. Drinking his blood. Urk! At least it was only once... Slowly, she bent down...and stuck her tongue out. With a breath, she went for it. She licked the length of his wound, pulling his blood into her mouth. It was definitely metallic...but...it also...had a different taste to it. A zing that reminded her oddly of his raw youki...and a smoothness like fine sake. It wasn't...altogether bad. A dribble trickled down her chin as she swallowed it, looking back at the demon for the next step. His golden eyes were clouded as he used a lithe calloused finger to catch the dribble of blood and press it back up to her mouth. She licked her lips and his finger, feeling an odd tension between them as she swallowed it all. "...Now?" Her voice was but a whisper.

 

"This." He ran his talons down his arm again, letting the blood drip heavily onto the grave. Kagome stared in alarm. That was a lot of blood! "You have spilled more than enough blood for your tribute." Swallowing hard, she caught his golden gaze again...before the rock below them started to glow. And then her eyes were downcast, their clothing ruffling from the wind created by the stone, the markings and runes glowing in teal. The wind picked up, lifting her hair into the air, Kagome peering back at her overly-calm partner anxiously. His hair lifted along with the fuzzy thing on his shoulder...he looked like some kind of devilish angel, with his eyes still red and teal.

 

"What's happening?" She called out over the dull roar of the wind.

 

"Our very souls are being bound together," he explained in the very simple, matter-of-fact way of his.

 

"Our...souls...," she repeated. It wasn't like she didn't know know...but to really experience it was completely different from reading about it. "Nngghh!!" Her hands covered her heart as her massive maroon-blue reiki was forced from her body. He appeared only mildly fazed as his equally large amount of tri-colored youki was swept into the air in a dance of indigo, maroon, and acid green. The reiki and youki mingled together tentatively at first, feeling the other out. Kagome shivered, the sensations of his youki making contact with her soul feeling...rather intimate. Like it was touching both her skin and...well, the very depths of her soul. And it was. Her feet lifted from the stone, and she reached out to grab for something, anything! Sesshoumaru was before her, hands clasping her wrists.

 

"Calm yourself, miko," he spoke over the raging wind. Her hands slid over his wrists, holding onto him tightly as their souls became more and more aquainted above them, forming a connection. It made her feel...hot...and antsy...wrong...and right.

 

"Sesshou..," she whispered, her voice devoured by the wind. It felt like they were reaching a dangerous edge of some kind...and she was afraid of the fall. Kagome curled into a ball midair as they reached that point, legs trembling as she squeezed them together. Low growls could be heard from her partner, his knees bent as he stared at her with an intensity that would have brought her to her knees. An explosion of emotions and stragely delightful sensations burst within and out, causing Kagome to cry out as Sesshoumaru roared. Their life forces mingled together as one in that brief instant before returning to their respective bodies. Sesshoumaru grabbed hold of his miko as the wind died down, the young woman passed out from both the pleasure...and the pain of her wounds.

 

"She fucking came," the wolf growled as all of the light and wind faded away, leaving Kagome tucked tightly in Sesshoumaru's arms. "So'd you, but...fuck..." He threw his arms up in the air.

 

"You really are an idiot, wolf prince," Sesshoumaru snorted. Said demon growled at him. "Mating is a joining of souls. Although there is no...physical activity involved in this portion of the bonding, our souls still connected. And our physical forms still felt it."

 

"Wait...does that mean we basically becomes mates with whoever bonds to us?!"

 

"It is not that permanent," Sesshoumaru sighed, feeling a headache coming on. "This is a temporary bonding. Not all bonding is the same...I simply chose the more intricate measure to ensure a stable connection between us. Other methods are not as intimate." The wolf opened his mouth. "My host is bleeding out." The wolf's mouth snapped shut, and Sesshoumaru took that blessedly quiet moment to launch himself up into the boughs of the trees and navigate his way towards the populated end of the barrier.

 

- End -

 

_______________________________________________________________

 

- I hope ya'll enjoyed!

 

- The younger of the generations are just going to bond the easy way- a little blood from them and the demon to bond them together. Nothing more intimate because I don't condone that. That kind of stuff isn't okay!

 

Ages as followed:

 

Kagome: 17

 

Souta: 9

 

Sango: 18

 

Kohaku: 9

 

Miroku: 19

 

Rin: 9

 

- Please review! ^.^

 

 

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