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The Love Spell: A Fiery Miko and a Cold-Hearted Daiyoukai by Rose Rogan

The Love Spell: Chapter 1

"Inuyasha, get down from there!" Kagome practically screeched from her spot underneath the ancient oak tree where Inuyasha was currently inhaling Kagome's dinner— the last cup of ramen she had been saving.

"Keh, why the hell should I? I deserve this! I've been busting my ass all day saving the lot of ya and now you wanna complain about me eating your ramen. Wench, when did you become so ungrateful?" Inuyasha shouted through a mouthful of steaming noodles, paying no heed to the dangerous flicker of reiki that was beginning to spark around the fiery little miko.

Now, on any normal day this kind of thing would result in a little spat between the two close friends before Kagome eventually decided it wasn't worth the effort arguing with Inuyasha over something so silly, especially since she knew how much he loved his ramen. That day, however, had been long and hard on everyone. Before the sun's light even touched the sky, they had set out in search of the last remaining jewel shard, and, not only did they not find any leads to the ever elusive shard fragment, they had a rather unpleasant run in with one of Naraku's vile incarnations.

This particular incarnation was a real piece of work too, going by the name of Byakuya. Like the infant incarnation and like Naraku himself, Byakuya enjoyed playing mind games to torture his victims infinitely more than engaging in actual physical altercations, and boy-oh-boy was toying with people's emotions definitely his forte... Needless to say, the Inu-taichi were not only physically drained from the day's travels but also emotionally recuperating from their battle with the Demon of Dreams, so Kagome's emotions were already unstable before her precious dinner had been stolen right out of her hands.

The usually sweet and caring Kagome was livid, no doubt about it. All she wanted was to sit and eat her dinner in peace and this dog, this mutt, not only smashed her dreams but dared to call her ungrateful? Ungrateful! When was the last time he had ever thanked her for making dinner, for treating his injuries, for coming up with ways to get them all out of sticky situations after HIS hotheadedness got them into trouble? When had he thanked her for anything!

Kagome's reiki began to pulse around her. Her powers had steadily been growing since she fell down the well three years ago at the ripe old age of 15 and, despite what Inuyasha might say, her reiki was now a formidable force that rivaled that of even Midoriko. Kagome had indeed come far, far surpassing that of her supposed "original" Kikyo; however, that did not mean she had complete control of her growing powers. In fact, as her powers seemed to be constantly growing within her, Kagome found it even more difficult to control then when she had first begun her Miko training. All of this in combination with her emotive nature made an emotional Kagome the equivalent of a walking reiki time bomb—something you would think Inuyasha would be more cognizant of considering she could purify his ass if things got out of hand.

"Inuyasha," Kagome's voice was both hard and cold, a clear warning of how far from her normal self she was feeling, and it finally clicked for the hanyou how dangerous his current situation might be. Ears flattening to the sides of his head, Inuyasha risked a glance down at the Miko and the sight of her made a shiver of fear descend his spine.

Kagome didn't notice, though, because she was currently in the midst of an internal struggle. In her heart, she knew this was not such a big deal. Yeah, Inuyasha's words stung, but he says that kind of stuff all the time--she was used to it. It wouldn't even phase her if she hadn't already been reeling from that dream. The dream gifted to her by that flippant Byakuya. The dream and its message clung to her still,like it was invading her soul as it whispered those damning words in her head in a voice she thought she could trust, a voice she thought she could love. Yes, she was used to such rough treatment by her best friend, but today it felt like those nasty and petty comments were literal daggers plunging into her heart. She couldn't take it, but she knew she had to control herself or her powers could purify her demon friends which would only leave her even more heartbroken. That left her with only one choice. Kagome had to leave.

Realizing she needed to get away from the camp before she could do any real damage, Kagome flashed one watery glare up at the dog still sitting in the tree before turning to run, and not even the concerned shouts of her slayer best friend and her little kit could stop her.

The trees and undergrowth tried their hardest to slow her down, but for once Kagome wouldn't be impeded by their branches or limbs as she catapulted herself away from her friends. Her heart was racing even faster than her limbs could carry her, racing so fast she could feel the tears and breaks that had been inflicted upon her by Inuyasha's crude and selfish treatment of her over the years begin to tremble in their efforts to hold the pieces of her heart together, but even Kagome could tell the struggle would be futile. Knowing she only had a few moments before her heart shattered, Kagome began to look around her for a spot she could be truly alone. Her frantic search quickly led her to a tiny glade, an oval patch of soft green grass surrounded by the fiery trees of Autumn. Such a beautiful place, Kagome thought. Such a beautiful place it seems almost selfish to inflict my suffering on its tranquility, but that thought was short lived as her heart gave one painful squeeze before crumbling in her chest.

The pain was excruciating. Kagome had never felt anything remotely close to the utter anguish she was experiencing at that moment, and she felt she would rather die than have to experience it for a second longer. Kagome was no stranger to pain, not even to heartbreak, as she had been experiencing both in droves since coming to the Feudal Era—especially after Kikyo was revived. She had been slashed at by claws and swords of numerous youkai and humans alike, she had been mentally tortured by Naraku, and she had been emotionally abused by the one she thought she could love the most, Inuyasha.

The mere thought of Inuyasha caused a strangled cry to be torn from her lips as she pictured his lovely white hair and cute doggy ears, but the smile in her mind only caused her more pain. It was the smile he wore when he saw her, not her, but Kikyo, it was always for Kikyo. As it always will be.

That final thought was the last straw. Kagome curled in on herself in a desperate attempt to keep herself from falling apart, but the knowledge that Inuyasha would never lover her like she so desperately loved him was like a taunting epiphany, like a reluctant prophecy, like a grudging death sentence for her first love.

Kagome cried for what felt like an eternity to the little Miko, but had truly only been just under an hour. However, this entire time she was not alone. Eyes of molten gold watched her from high within a near by tree. He had initially noticed a pulse of unimaginable holy power that he deemed warranted his attention, and perhaps his disposal. He had even allowed himself to briefly relish in the thought of battling such a creature that dared to rival his supremacy, to send forth such a challenging call that even from a distance tingled along his skin. However, instead of the strong and powerful contender he expected to find, he saw her, the half-breed's wench.

If it wasn't beneath him, he would have rolled his eyes at the sight before him. The foolish creature was crying, well, uncontrollable sobbing more like it. He wouldn't have believed she was the one to issue such a challenge, albeit probably unintentionally, if it wasn't for the raging storm of reiki that surrounded her like a dome of magenta light.

Even in her despair, Kagome had subconsciously worried about harming innocent youkai bystanders and erected a barrier. This barrier would have left any youkai in the vicinity completely unaware of her outburst, including her lone audience member, if it wasn't for the fact the barrier had only been erected after her initial outburst. No, she hadn't purified anyone, but she had caught the interest of a very troublesome youkai.

This same youkai watched the entire episode of anguish and torment with out an ounce of empathy. If anything, he found her display of emotion a clear sign of her inherent weakness as a human. He couldn't believe he had been drawn in by the call of such a worthless creature's power. However, despite being such an insignificant creature, he should allow that he probably should observe her more closely from now on as it was rather curious to the youkai how such a fragile being could house such a deadly power. Taking one last glance at the young Miko as she seemed to collect herself and return to wherever she had originally come from, he noted how her limbs trembled and her lips quivered with the residual sorrow that permeated her entire being and scent, and he could not help the sneer that flashed across his face.

"Pathetic."

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Kagome lingered on the edge of the group's campsite just out of sight in order to collect herself before facing her friends, even going as far as to cloak her aura and scent to keep Inuyasha from sensing her presence. This was one of her newest abilities and was developed pretty much on accident a few months back.

—Flachback—

Kagome snuggled into the warmth of her sleeping bag as she pulled Shippo in close to her side. It had been a long day of Inuyasha hounding them to move faster in search of the last few shards of the Shikon Jewel. Kagome, Sango, and Miroku were used to the incessant badgering of their "alpha" to go beyond their limits as human beings in order to complete their quest as soon as possible, but for some reason today was especially difficult. It was the last month of summer but the sun had been blazing down on them all day with a nearly stifling heat, and this left the group sweaty and cranky.

A few hours before sunset, Kagome felt like her uniform was being glued to her skin due to her perspiration and after a not so subtle wiggle of the perverted monk's brow she was mortified to discover that the top of her uniform had become completely transparent, leaving her baby blue bra on full display. With a squeak she covered herself from Miroku's leering eyes and stomped her foot in indignation.

"Inuyasha, that's quite enough. It's nearly sunset and we haven't had a break all day!" Kagome used her no-nonsense voice and was prepared for when he would turn around and start barking at her, but he didn't. Oh, he was about to, everyone could tell that he fully intended to start yelling at all of them about their lack of commitment to their quest and to 'quite their belly-aching and just keep walking,' but instead of the typical tirade he merely opened his mouth before clamping it back shut. Then, with a small quirk of those doggy ears and twitch of his nose, he just crossed his arms and gave the group an exasperated glare.

"Keh, if you're so weak we will never beat Naraku, but I guess we can stop for the night. I, however, am no weak human so I am gonna scope the area, don't wait up." Not waiting for their reply, he jumped into the trees to leave them with all the work of setting up camp.

Kagome was so relieved to be able to rest with the others that she didn't think twice about Inuyasha's odd behavior, and it wasn't even until they were all turning in for the night that Kagome first started to think about how peculiar it was for Inuyasha to give in so easily. Looking around, Kagome saw that Sango had already fallen asleep lying against Kirara's side and Miroku wasn't far behind as he leaned against a adjacent tree. Then looking down, Kagome felt a small smile pull at her lips as she noticed her Shippo was also fast asleep as he nestled himself against her side. Giving the lovable kit a gentle squeeze before she slowly got out of her sleeping bag, Kagome sent a gentle pulse of energy into the surrounding area before wandering to the north when she felt a trace of Inuyasha's youki not far from camp.

As she walked deeper into the forrest, a nagging feeling descended upon her as she got closer and closer to Inuyasha's location. It was saying that she was intruding on his privacy or something. That's just ridiculous. Kagome just wanted to see where Inuyasha had gone off to because she was worried. Yeah, I'm just being a good friend. It's highly likely Inuyasha has gotten into some trouble in his obsessive search for the shards, and he might need my help. Honestly, Kagome sighed, she couldn't understand why he was so desperate for the shards. He couldn't possibly still want to become a full demon?

Kagome's heart and soul gave a simultaneous tug. Her heart because of the sadness that accompanied the thought that Inuyasha still rejected who he truly was, and the tug on her soul, well, that only happened when a certain undead priestess was around.

Kagome felt the pain in her heart intensify as she realized what she could be walking in on. He could be with her. They could be embracing. They could even be kissing! Kagome's heart dropped. You fool, go back. Do you enjoy having your heart broken? With a shake of her head and a clench of her fists, Kagome continued on regardless. If that was what was going on, and she prayed it wasn't, didn't she deserve to know? It would be better than being clueless, right? The answer...Well, Kagome couldn't tell you if she had the right to know, but she was positive that she didn't want to have that image ingrained in her memory.

Right before her eyes, in a heap of entangled limbs and thrusting hips, laid Kikyo and Inuyasha. Kagome didn't want to believe her eyes but the perverted sounds assaulting her ears made the sight painfully real.

Kikyo laid on the ground at the base of a giant oak tree, cushioned by the lush green summer grass as Inuyasha grunted and groaned above her. Kikyo, herself, wasn't quite as she moaned Inuyasha's name and clawed at his back with her stony fingernails.

Kagome stood frozen along the edge of the forrest in utter disbelief. She knew her and Inuyasha weren't an official couple, but they were something, right? They had been together for nearly three years now and he had promised to be with her, to take care of her, to love her. But now, now, here he was, pounding his dick into a clay animation. This couldn't be real.

He should have told me! At least have the balls to say it to my face instead of lurking around like a damn criminal! Kagome's tears streaked down her face and a sob escaped her lips, but she quickly clamped her hand over her mouth as she saw Inuyasha's back stiffen. Amber eyes scanned the area and Kagome began to panic.

No, no! Please, don't see me. I wanna disappear. Just let me disappear! Kagome pleaded with the Kamis as Inuyasha finished his "businesswith Kikyo and began to move towards where she was standing. Oh, no. This was the last thing she needed, to come face to face with the man she loved after he had just fucked her original. No, she couldn't let him find her.

Reaching deep within, Kagome challenged her stubborn reiki to bend to her will as she projected a barrier around herself. Unlike her normal barrier that was used to deflect attacks, this barrier encased Kagome in a what she would describe as a second skin, barely there but with the unmistakable pinkish hue of her reiki. The barrier was raised and Kagome prayed it would do what she needed, if not, fate truly would be too cruel.

Inuyasha was only a few feet away from where Kagome was hiding, and she could see the look of confusion on his face. It was as if the scent was familiar but too weak to place. He moved closer and as his clawed hand began to pull back the low branch blocking her from his view Kagome could feel her heart pounding against her ribcage in her fear of being discovered. However, those amber eyes looked right through her, and not like they usually do when he was seeing Kikyo instead of her, no, he literally looked her in the eyes and then continued to search the area for whoever had walked in on their little tryst. Kagome couldn't believe it. Her barrier had worked! Her triumphant feeling was quickly extinguished when she heard the monotone miko beckon her inu lover return to her side, and, as he heeded her call like a loyal lap dog, Kagome could only stare at the back of her beloved Inuyasha as her heart began to crack under the weight of her grief.

—End Flashback—

Kagome rolled her eyes at the memory. How could she have been so naive? She was from the 21st century for pete's sake, not some sheltered princess who thought love would be handed to her. Yeah, she knew now she should have learned her lesson back then, but instead she had just pretended that it never happened, that she still had a chance of redirecting the hanyou's love towards herself.

Well, that's definitely over. It was official, Kagome Higurashi was going to say goodbye to her puppy love. As of today, she was going to be a strong and independent young woman who needed no man's love or protection. She knew her power had grown from when she was just an inexperienced teenager thrust into the perilous Feudal Era and it was time she started acting like it. Taking in a shuddering breath, Kagome steeled her nerves for the final time and nodded to herself in her new found determination. Ok, Higurashi, you've dawdled long enough. It's time to bite the bullet. 

Thanking the only good thing that had resulted from that awful night all those months ago, Kagome tested her control over her scent blocking barrier to make sure Inuyasha wouldn't be able to smell her sorrow. She knew it was unavoidable that they would all know she had been crying, considering her tear stained face and puffy eyes, but she didn't need to walk in proclaiming her heartbroken status to the man who had refused her affection. No, Kagome was done with the pitiful glances Sango would send her way when Kikyo was mentioned or the suprisingly well-behaved pat on her shoulder Miroku would give her when Inuyasha would run off after the walking corpse. She knew it was out of genuine sympathy and love that they tried to make her feel better, but now those gestures only represented how long she had been utterly naive, how long she had allowed herself and her feelings to be trampled over, and how long she had wallowed in this fruitless love.

Today, she didn't want the reminders: it was time to move on. She was going to walk in there and act like everything was fine. She was going to be the sweet and bubbly Kagome she used to be before all these depressing feelings began to eat away at her heart, the Kagome she would strive to be once again. It was time for a new chapter in her life, and to get where she needed to be, well, she just needed to fake it till she made it.

With that thought in mind, Kagome finally took that first step forward, not knowing that her first step into that clearing would also coincidently be her first step into her future.

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The first thing she noticed in the clearing was the stench of miasma quickly followed by the raging of a certain hanyou.

"Wind Scar!" Inuyasha bellowed as his sword arched above his head in the direction of Kagura and a swarm of those damn wasps from hell, the Saimyosho. The force of the demon fang disintegrated a number of the pesky poisonous insects but more just filled in behind them as their brothers fell.

Kagura smirked at the weak attempt to reduce their numbers before laughing in the face of the enraged hanyou. "Really half-breed, does your human blood limit your intelligence as well as your strength?" Seeing her remark had the desired result as Inuyasha's face contored in indignation, the wind youkai began to float in the opposite direction of the clearing they were currently residing. "Maybe if you were a full demon you could land at least one blow." Kagura taunted as she darted away on her feather.

"Come back here, Bitch!" Inuyasha didn't give a second thought as he ran after Kagura and left the rest of his pack in the clearing.

"Inuyasha, stop!" Kagome screamed, but it was too late, he was gone. Kagome had an idea of what was going on as she saw Sango not too far from her with her eyes fixated on her beloved brother, Kohaku. Before Kagome could even warn the slayer of what she suspected, her suspicions were confirmed as Kohaku fled in the opposite direction that Kagure had just led Inuyasha, knowing Sango would follow.

They are trying to separate us...and succeeding. Kagome looked around desperately in an attempt to find Miroku and Shippo, and she quickly found the monk as he sprinted past her while shouting after Sango. She was both proud and annoyed at the monk's dedication to the friend she saw as a sister. Proud of his desire to protect her, but annoyed that he just fell completely into whatever plot Naraku was hatching.

Well isn't this fantastic. Kagome thought sarcastically, that is until her heart suddenly plunged to the pit of her stomach. Shippo. Kagome began to search frantically for her kit, ignoring the fact that the wasps were merely floating in midair, as if suspended in time as they waited for her to make a decision. Sending a pulse of her reiki out she could read his general location and began to run. If she thought she had run fast earlier, she didn't know what speed truly was or how the thought of her little Shippo in danger made her literally fly. She could rival a demon with her speed as she began to call for her kit.

"Shippo, Shippo!" Kagome could hear the desperation in her voice, but she didn't care. She needed to find him. Now. With no way to know how far or how long she had run, she lost all sense of time and direction as she focused on one thing—Shippo's lightly pulsing youki.

When she could practically feel his youki along her skin, Kagome was already stumbling into a clearing. There he was. There her little Shippo sat, innocently entertaining a delighted Rin with his spinning tops.

He's safe. That thought was like a boulder being lifted off her heart, but not being completely removed as she still felt the threats lurking around them. Not taking a second to even wonder at her pace, Kagome threw herself at the little fox and nearly crushed him in her embrace.

"Mama, what's wrong?" Shippo asked as he barely managed to squeeze himself out of her strangle hold to poke his head out from between her arms, only to be shocked at Kagome's current state. His sense of smell may not be as strong as an inu's but he could practically taste the fear rolling off his adopted mother.

Tears glistened in Kagome's azure gaze as she buried her face in Shippo's unruly auburn hair, barely withholding a sob. He's safe.

"Miko-sama?" Rin asked with a tentative hand reaching for her sleeve, and Kagome looked up to see a very worried little girl. Still overly emotional, Kagome reached out with her arm and scoped the little girl to join her and Shippo in her smothering hug. Instantly, Rin and Shippo began to giggle in her arms,  and Kagome took a fleeting moment to delight in the lovely sound. That is, before she felt the taint of malice enter the clearing.

Kagome's face became set in her resolve to protect the two innocent children as she pushed them behind her. "Stay here." She said, with all the authority of a seasoned general as she erected a barrier around the children as an extra precaution—even though she knew the only way her opponent would be reaching them would be over her dead body.

"Show yourself coward." Kagome's voice was hard as steel as she scanned the trees lining the edge of the forrest, waiting for the owner of the most distorted soul she had ever known to reveal himself. She didn't have to wait long.

"Ah, Kagome." Naraku's voice slithered out from beneath the pelt of a white baboon. "I can't tell you how pleased I am to see you."

The way he said her name sickened Kagome to her core, as it curled almost possessively around it like he saw her as one of his possessions, one of his toys.

Kagome pursed her lips in an attempt not to hurl at the feeling of his malignant aura swirling against her own. "Well, the feeling isn't mutual, so do me a favor and get lost." The distain in her tone was clear and it made the corner's of Naraku's lips curl in satisfaction— an insulting attempt at a smile that was lost on the miko due to the baboon mask.

"Oh, priestess, how could I leave now? The fun is just beginning." His foreboding words making Kagome's stomach twist into knots.

"Not interested. If you aren't going to leave on your own then I have no choice but to make you." Kagome reached behind her to pull an arrow from her quiver only to freeze in the lack there of… I left my bow at camp.

Her horror at her potentially fatal mistake led to Naraku's increased amusement. A laugh as dark and menacing as his aura spilled from his lips at the look of panic on the miko's face.

"It seems you have made a grave error, Miko." He chuckled once more. "How unfortunate for you, however, I am in a particularly playful mode today, and if you let me play my game maybe I can let you and your precious kit leave here unharmed."

As he made his proposition, Naraku lowered his baboon hood to reveal crimson eyes dancing in mirth at the thought of playing his "game".

Weighing her options, Kagome thought there was no harm in listening to whatever he was planning. At the very least, this might buy her some time to think of a way out of this situation. Wary eyes looked over the foul excuse of a being before her, trying to choose her words carefully.

With a flip of her wrist, Kagome sent her long raven locks behind her back before placing her hand firmly on her hip. "Speak."

Naraku bristled at the commanding tone and condescending look in the petite human's eyes, but if he wanted to get his way he would have to play nice, for now. He knew his words would be a wonderful mind game for the young miko. Playing on her desire to protect the fox, he wanted to see if he could darken the miko's seemingly infinite light with the choice she would have to make.

"Simple, really." Naraku shrugged, a sly smile sliding across his face. "It's a game of chance. You see, you have two choices." Naraku lifted his hand before her to tally off sed choices for her. "One, you fight me. There is a chance you will be able to fend me off for some time, but you will eventually fail, weakened as you try and keep up both your attacks and the protective barrier. Then I will have both the children in my grasp." Naraku sneered at the word, like two innocent children were as insignificant as bugs to him. "Or," His eyes lit up with the possibility that his next offer could push the ever so loving miko into the darkness. "You take your kit and leave."

There was a pause and Naraku's smile grew at the disbelieving yet hopeful look that shone through Kagome's eyes for only a second before he continued. "But, you will have to leave the human girl behind. There's a chance I will kill her and there's a chance I will let her go."

Kagome's back straightened and her eyes narrowed at how cruel Naraku truly was, cruel and manipulative. He knew she was still learning how to harness her holy energy and that a fight would be nearly impossible if she was trying to maintain a barrier as well, at least in her current state. That left her with only one choice really, fight and lose, or leave knowing she had saved at least one innocent life. The decision was clear.

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Sesshomaru watched on with his typical impassive mask in place as his brother's wench flung herself around the kit. He had only been gone briefly to assess the situation of the Inu-taichi's camp, only to find that the entire group had scattered. He had scented the air to find that both Kagura and the Saimyosho had also already left the vicinity as there was only the faint sent of miasma left behind.

Feeling no need to get one such as himself involved considering the spider was not present, he returned to his ward only to find a visibly distraught miko assaulting both the kit and his nose with the wretched scent of her fear. The Western Lord had an idea as to why she was so afraid, but he couldn't understand why that resulted in her blubbering. Obviously, the kit is safe. Why continue such foolish displays of emotion?

As if sensing his judgment of her emotive state, Kagome seemed to instinctively defy his reasoning by pulling his own ward into her arms as she continued to be an emotional mess. A silent growl led the daiyoukai to bare his fangs at her insistence to act unreasonable, but was forgotten as he quickly turned his attention to the malicious presence watching from the shadows.

A coward through and through, aren't you Naraku. To even hide from such a weak creature. Sesshomaru couldn't help the disgust that filled him at the knowledge that the pathetic hanyou was still alive. I will end you today, half-breed. 

Preparing to ambush the unsuspecting spider demon, as Sesshomaru was the only one who could make a barrier that even that bastard couldn't sense, Sesshomaru laid a regal claw over the hilt of his trusted fang, Bakusaiga.

During his battle against Magatsushi, the fang had been forged of his very own being due to a fierce concentration of Sesshomaru's youki. The fang was now one of his most prized possessions as he believed its creation marked the day he surpassed his sire in strength. However, he was slightly disappointed (not that he would ever admit it) when the sword's creation didn't lead to the restoration of his left arm. That mattered little to the mighty demon lord now, though, as he knew he could eliminate such a worthless creature with no arms, let alone one.

Bracing himself to descend the tree he was currently perched in to confront Naraku, he paused when he noticed the miko stiffen only a few moments after his initial discovery of their unwelcome visitor. Curious, the Inu Lord deigned his interference wasn't necessary immediately, and he watched as the young miko finally stopped her crying to push the children behind her and into a protective barrier with an authoritative tone that he had never before heard pass her lips. A tone that had his beast stirring in its cage.

So she does have a backbone. That brief observation was only confirmed with the strong willed and disdainful manner in which the miko was treating the half-breed. She let her posture and tone make her position evident to her opponent, signaling to him that he would not be getting anywhere near her charges.

She protects them like they are her own. Sesshomaru blinked slowly at the sudden voice of his beast, noticing that for once he was close to the forefront of his mind and watching from within his cage. Hn. Was all the daiyoukai had to say to that comment. It was true, but that did not mean he wished to have a discussion with his beast over the fact. It perturbed him to know that his beast was even bothering to watch.

Sesshomaru's thoughts were cut short when he heard the "game" in which the imposter of a demon wanted to play and a silent snarl had him once again barring his fangs. 

Wait! Sesshomaru paused briefly at the urgency in his beast's voice as it began to rock against its cage. Sesshomaru, on the other hand, was simply livid that his beast was trying to stop him. He wishes to take what is mine! Sesshomaru barked at his beast, but the beast barked back. Yes, but wait and see what the miko does! We wish to know. 

Sesshomaru ignored the command of his inner instincts and thrust them back into their cage before focusing entirely one the situation before him. He had no intention to stop to see how the miko would respond because it was unnecessary. All humans are inherently the same. Weak. Selfish. Cowardly. She had just been given the green light to escape with her kit, why wouldn't she leave?

Those musings were customary for the Western Lord whenever he was forced to think of humankind, and at times they were true, but at times they were also very, very wrong. This was proven so by Kagome.

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Standing in a defensive position in front of the children once again, Kagome let out an immense blast of reiki that swirled around her like a dangerous magenta tornado, and the words that she practically spit at the contemptible half-breed dripped with venom.

"Over my dead body." Rushing forward with a speed that was nealry inhuman, Sesshomaru watched as even Naraku was thrust back from the force of her sudden attack as a barrage of holy energy blasts began to shower down on him like acid rain. The surprise on Naraku's face melted into fury as the attack actually managed to hit him, some even landing on his skin and he screamed in outrage as the reiki began to eat away at his newly acquired form.

A slithering black tentacle lashed out at the approaching miko and sent her halfway across the clearing before she could reach him, but Kagome wasn't down for long— a fact that Sesshomaru begrudgingly noted with surprise.

"Why can't you ever do as I please!" Naraku growled as another tentacle tied around her ankle before throwing her like a doll into the small river behind them.

A scream followed her into the water, but she didn't stay there long before Naraku once again pulled her small body into the air before slamming it down on the ground, right in front of the children who cried at her fallen form. Over their cries, Sesshomaru's sensitive ears could even hear the sickening squelch of her body bouncing off the ground with the force of her impact, but what surprised him was her composer as she rose up off the ground to glare at the despicable creature through watery eyes. Surprising the daiyoukai even more, she released a dark chuckle that made Sesshomaru and his best shiver from the feeling of dark camaraderie.

"Because, Naraku." Kagome whispered dangerously. "I'm not your little bitch." With that brazen declaration, Kagome reached for the tentacle still wrapped around her ankle and shot a surge of reiki through it and straight into Naraku.

Kagome's eyes shone with pride as her plan actually worked and Naraku began to scream in a rage filled pain as his lower half began to slowly disintegrate into grotesque lumps of lower level demon flesh. Sesshomaru continued to watch as the miko unsteadily rose to her feat, seemingly the unlikely victor of their battle, but his stare remained unfeeling. He had been slightly impressed at first, but the hanyou hadn't truly given much of a fight. If she had proper training she would have easily escaped such an ordeal unscathed. To him, her injuries were only further signs of her incompetency.

"You damn wench, who would desire a bitch like you!" Naraku grunted before he threw a chunk of disfigured purple flesh out from his arm. Kagome halted in her step as she realized the infected flesh was not flying at her but at the children. Not able to risk the chance, Kagome turned from Naraku to focus solely on the protective barrier surrounding Shippo and Rin and reinforced it with a boost of her reiki.

In her distracted state, Naraku drew a sword from beneath the baboon's pelt and charged for her, relishing in the look of alarm that flooded her eyes when she turned to find herself face to face with an oncoming blade.

Yet Kagome just closed her eyes in resignation and prepared to be skewered, but the pain never came. Instead, Kagome opened her eyes to find that another powerful being had entered the fray.

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Sesshomaru saw the hanyou's underhanded means of distraction as he used the miko's concern for the children against her, and for a creature of honor, such as himself, even he couldn't allow the miko's honorable fight to be ended by such low brow tactics. Without a second thought, Sesshomaru took it upon himself to block the blade aiming straight for Kagome's heart.

Naraku and Kagome seemed both equally surprised by the turn of events Sesshomaru's presence presented, and this allowed Sesshomaru the opportunity to deliver a critical blow to the hollow chest of the spider. With a snarl of displeasure and pain, Naraku leapt backwards and out of range of the Killing Perfection's poisonous claws—not that it made much of a difference with the poison still coroding his skin.

"Oh, Lord Sesshomaru, protecting humans now are we? Well, well, well, like father like son, I see." The taunting hanyou chuckled in an attempt to cover the searing pain that continued to eat away at his borrowed flesh, but soon returned to glaring once he saw the stony expression on the daiyoukai's face. Just then, Naraku braced for another attack, but a shout was heard from the forrest that interrupted their fight.

"Kagome-chan," "Lady Kagome," and "Kagome," were shouted simultaneously from opposite sides of the clearing as the rest of the Inu-taichi joined the ever growing party. Sango's eyes found Kagome first and she blanched at how beaten the poor girl's body was. Her finger's clenched around Hiraikotsu's strap at the anger that filled her. Naraku had taunted her with her brother's presence only to steal him away once again all so he could dish out such abuse on her friend.

"Naraku, you scum!" Sango screamed as she began to lift her giant boomerang over her shoulder.

"Wait, Sango." Miroku's usually cheerful voice becoming instantly serious as he analyzed the current situation. "Analyze then attack. Remember, we cannot allow our emotions to rule us in the heat of battle." The monk's wise words made the slayer flinch, as that was exactly what she had done as she followed her brother away from the others. This had resulted in not only Kagome being left to fend for herself, but Miroku also suffering from the poison of the two Saimyosho he sucked into his wind tunnel to save her.

With a curt nod of acknowledgement, Sango put her weapon back down, but their alpha was not as collected.

"Naraku, you ass! What have you done to Kagome!" Kagome's eyes glanced away from the silvery strands of silky hair that had been blocking her view from the moment Sesshomaru decided to save her to look at Inuyasha. There he was, lips pulled back in a snarl as he held Tessaiga in front of him, true concern shinning in his amber eyes. Yes, Kagome knew Inuyasha cared about her, but that care was not the love she desired. Seeing him there now, fully prepared to fight for her, Kagome didn't know if it broke her heart more because he didn't love her, or because he did.

"Inuyasha," the sigh of his name and the sadness that tinged her scent wasn't noticeable to anyone in the clearing, except for the one currently standing right in front of her. In only a matter of hours, the foolish creature had made one such as he desire to do something as unseemly as rolling his eyes. How can this sorry excuse of a creature be the same one who just faced death with no reservations? She is loyal. His beast observed. Silence!

"So the hole gang is here, hmm?" Naraku observed rather reluctantly. He had thought he would have more time. Oh, well, this can still serve its purpose. Moving his crimson eyes away from the ranting hanyou, they slide back to the one who actually presented a threat.

"So…" Naraku drawled while cradling his chest. "You want this Bitch, Lord Sesshomaru? Fine, I was saving this for Kikyo and Inuyasha, but I guess this will be just as entertaining." With that said, the bastardly half-breed threw numerous projectiles in the direction of Sesshomaru and Kagome. Thinking this was only another diversionary tactic, the great demon lord merely flicked his sword at the oncoming obstacles, disintegrating them in a second with his youki.

"Kagura!" Naraku yelled, and Kagura came out of the shadows to answer Sesshomaru with a flick of her own wrist, channeling her wind to blow the particles Sesshomaru had just created back at him. The attack had no affect on him, however, and Sesshomaru could only raise a questioning brow at the retreating image of Naraku ridging away on the back of Kagura's feather.

"Enjoy your new Bitch, Sesshomaru-sama." Naraku sneered as he disappeared.

Everyone stood in silence for a short time, unsure of what to do or what had just transpired. Sesshomaru was fine, they could all see that, so what was that last attack, and what did Naraku mean he had been saving it for Kikyo and Inuyasha? The Inu-taichi all stared at one another with these very same questions in their eyes, but even more questions arose when Sesshomaru turned to leave.

"Where are you going?" A sweet yet quiet voice asked. Sesshomaru ignored the voice and the way it made his beast fidget in his cage and continued to walk. However, when he took another step away from his bastard of a brother's pack, he couldn't just pretend that the hand that had latched onto his sleeve wasn't real.

"Kagome, what in the hell are you doing? Just let the frosty bastard go!" Inuyasha barked as he began to march towards the miko that was currently still clutching the demon lord's haori.

Yes, what are you doing, human? Sesshomaru's opinion on the current situation was displayed clearly to everyone by the ghost of a frown that marked his usually stoic face.

Everyone but Kagome. Open and loving blue eyes met impenetrable molten gold as she asked again, this time a little more boldly. "Where are you going?" The wench even had the audacity to tug on his sleeve.

With a slight narrowing of his eyes, Sesshomaru gave his arm a decisive jerk that had enough force to cause the miko previously hanging on to his person to stumble and relinquish her hold. The daiyoukai deemed that was answer enough for the presumptious miko, if she was not without brains, but he would be wrong.

Righting herself after the shock of being pulled so suddenly, Kagome was quick to reach out for the silver inu once more, this time grabbing the back of his haori. "Can I come with you?" A pleading voice called to him making his beast purr.

The question as well as her blatant disregard for her pestering limb's safety if she were to continue touching his person finally caught hold of his attention, along with his annoyance.

Turning on her with a speed only a daiyoukai could manage, Sesshomaru shackled her dainty wrist in a tightly clawed fist. "You will cease taking liberties with my person, wench, before I sever your limbs for your disrespect." The low growl was filled with painful promises and had the rest of the Inu-taichi inching forward, trying to figure out how to get their friend out of an obviously dangerous situation. Kagome, however, was still staring at Sesshomaru with big, doe-like eyes.

Sesshomaru breifly assessed the creature before him with mild interest before he noticed something peculiar. There was not a single thread of fear lacing her scent. Instead, the miko was staring up at him with openly trusting eyes, eyes that shone breifly with a beautiful inner light that had the darkness in Sesshomaru's soul flinching back. Why does she look at me this way? Did the foolish creature suffer mental damage from her battle? 

A rather surprised Inuyasha was also wondering what was happening. He, however, knew that look all too well and what it meant. It was the same look Kagome had been giving him for the past three years. What the hell? 

"Wench, what's wrong with you? That's Sesshomaru, the ice prince with a stick up his ass, why are you clinging to him?" Sesshomaru arched a regal brow at the weak excuse of an insult and was about to deliver a definitive verbal lashing, but he was beaten to it.

"Shut it, Inuyasha. Don't insult Sesshomaru just because you know you could never match up to someone of his standing or power!" Kagome ended her reprimand with an impressive growl, at least, for a human.

Now everyone was confused as they looked between a baffled Inuyasha and Kagome who had gone back to staring at the intimidating daiyoukai, but the pieces were beginning to click for Sesshomaru. Looking down at the petite onna standing before him, eyes shinning like sapphires despite her wrist still being held captive by his claw, he was nearly certain he had the answer. He was 100% certain when Kagome spoke the damning words that revealed the true nature of Naraku's curse.

"I want to go with you, Sesshomaru. I love you."

 

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