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Something Wicked (This Way Comes) by Sage McMae

Chapter 1

The fault was hers and hers alone. 

Kagome knew she should have never told Shippo about Halloween, and especially not about trick or treating. The kitsune’s affinity for illusion and penchant for mischief made him a born trickster. If she looked into the river one more time and saw a skull instead of her face, Kagome was going to smack him. 

She knelt at the water’s edge to fill her canteen. It had been hours since they last stopped and she was getting hungry. Kagome hoped they came across a village soon. She was getting tired of living off of ramen, beef jerky, and candy bars.

A howl pierced the air, causing her to jerk upright. 

The sound wasn’t the cry of the wolf tribe nor did it sound like any animal Kagome was familiar with. Instinctively, her hands went to her bow, her hunger forgotten. She scanned the forest. Each shadowy nook and every hollow became more pronounced. Every option was far too small for her to hide in. Her only chance was to run. 

And hope whatever lurked in the woods did not find her. 

Securing her bow across her shoulders, Kagome bent to retrieve her half-filled canteen. Somewhere to her right, a twig snapped and she jolted. 

Another howl— this one much closer —came. 

Kagome took off. She didn’t look behind her, too afraid of what she’d see if she did. 

“Miroku! Sango! Kirara! Inuyasha! Someone help me!” 

“Shippo?” Kagome changed direction, cutting across the stream toward the sound of the kitsune. “Shippo!”  

“Kagome!” the fox cried. His eyes were frantic as she tried to locate the demon. “It’s after me!”

“What is?” she asked.

“I dunno. A bear or a wolf demon or something. Whatever it is, it’s big,” Shippo declared. 

“Take this and run!” Kagome ordered, handing him her canteen. 

“But Kagome—.”

“Don’t turn around. Just go!” 

She faced the direction the howls were coming from and aimed her arrow. The ground quaked beneath her feet. Kagome gulped but held her ground. She chanted to herself, waiting for the beast to show itself. 

Hit the mark. Hit the mark. Hit the mark. 

When Kagome’s senses told her to fire, she let loose her arrow. There was a strange cry that came from the woods. It sounded almost like a dying bird instead of a massive demon. 

She didn’t linger to confirm that she’d missed. Kagome bolted, checking every few steps to see if she was being followed. Which was why she ran head-first into a solid chest. With an ‘ow,’ she bounced off of him and to the ground. 

“Sesshomaru?” She blinked as if unsure her vision was playing tricks on her or if the daiyokai was truly there. 

He offered her a hand up, a gesture no more unusual than the fact he was here. Why hadn’t she sensed his yoki so close? 

His golden eyes stared at something over her head. She wondered if he could make out the approaching threat. 

“We have to go,” Kagome urged him, wrapping her arms around one of his and pulling the demon lord toward the meadow. 

“Why?” 

She paused. His question, though not unwarranted, was unexpected. Kagome thought he would remark on the fact she had touched him or ask where Inuyasha was. Sesshomaru did neither. Was it because he already knew? Had he crossed paths with the demon chasing her earlier? 

“It’s not safe,” Kagome said, withdrawing from him. 

“It is nothing to be alarmed about.” 

A sensation of dread filled her. That howl. Those glowing red eyes. Had it been Sesshomaru all along? 

“You,” she stumbled backward, eyes widening. 

“Miko.” Sesshomaru reached for her. 

Kagome shied away from him, leveling him with her mistrustful gaze. “I...I thought you had changed.”

His mask of indifference faltered for a split second, just enough for her to see the hurt her remark inflicted. 

He didn’t try to stop her. She ran as fast as her legs would carry her, pumping her arms at her side, her bow bouncing along her back.

When she broke through the edge of the forest into the clearing, Kagome paused. Hunched over with her hands on her knees, she gasped for breath. One wary glance behind her confirmed she wasn’t being followed. 

Kagome should have been relieved, yet all she felt was a nagging sense of loss. 

Exhausted and confused, she returned to camp. 

Hidden from view, some several kilometers away, a seething Lord of the Western Lands towered over his vassal. The imp was clutching his side where the miko's arrow had pierced him. 

“You will pay for what you’ve done,” he growled. “I may be unaware of how you created the illusion, Jaken, but regardless, you will be punished for this insolence.” 

“Lord Sesshomaru,” he squawked fearfully. “I have always served you well.”

His gold eyes narrowed and turned crimson. “Using that manipulated version of my true form to terrify the miko,” he snarled. “Did you think I would not discover your treachery?” 

“I only meant it as a means to protect you, milord. You are the last of your great houses. Your mother would prefer to see you court a respectable match, not trail after a filthy human.”

“You do not decide for me!” 

“My lord, mercy, please!” begged the imp. 

His pleas fell on deaf ears. 

When Kagome woke the next morning, she sensed him. Her blue eyes searched the surrounding area but she couldn’t make out a hint of silver. Curious, she sat up and almost knocked over the box sitting beside her in the grass. 

“What’s this?” Kagome asked, peering down at the box wrapped with expensive silk. 

Her companions all eyed the object curiously. “It wasn’t there a moment ago,” Shippo remarked, approaching the box. His nose scrunched up. “It smells funny.” 

“That’s because it stinks of Sesshomaru,” Inuyasha grumbled. He swiped the box up before Kagome could stop him. 

“Hey!” she snapped. 

“What?” 

“That’s mine.” 

His brows creased. “Yours? Why would Sesshomaru leave something for you?”

Sango, Miroku, and Shippo all stared, waiting to hear her answer. Kagome laughed nervously. “Uh, I kinda ran into him last night,” she admitted, scratching the back of her neck. “I may have accused him of scaring me.” 

“So?” Inuyasha didn’t seem to think that was reason enough to warrant an apology. 

“Well, I was being unfair,” Kagome confessed. “Just because I heard howling and saw red eyes doesn’t mean it was him. After all, he saved me from Mukostu. If Sesshomaru wanted me dead, all he had to do was let him finish the job.” 

“The bastard probably thought it would be fun to scare ya,” Inuyasha insisted. 

“It was Halloween,” Shippo said, thoughtfully. 

“And a full moon,” Miroku added. 

“What does that have to do with anything?” Kagome asked. 

“Werewolves,” Shippo commented with a shiver. 

Kagome rolled her eyes. “Guys, werewolves aren’t real. It’s just a story made up to spook little kids on Halloween. Besides, Sesshomaru is a dog demon, not a wolf demon.” 

“Dog demon or not, at the turn of the moon, base instincts are heightened,” Miroku informed her. 

“Meaning what, exactly?” 

“Meaning you can’t accept this,” Inuyasha said stubbornly, holding the box out of her reach. 

Kagome glared at him. “Inuyasha?” 

“Yeah?” 

“Sit boy!” 

The half-demon face-planted into the earth, allowing Kagome to steal her gift back. Ignoring his mumbled curses, she strolled away from camp, following the pulse of yoki to a point along the tree line.

“Sesshomaru?” she called, wandering into the forest. 

“Miko.” 

Kagome turned and there he was. His expression was as stoic as usual but she could feel his unease. The impact of last night still weighed heavily upon him. 

“Um...about yesterday,” she began. 

“I do not require an apology.” 

“No, but you deserve one,” Kagome insisted, her voice growing more confident. “Where I’m from this time of year is about scary stuff— ghost stories, monsters, witches —and I think I let myself get carried away.” She paused, noting the tilt is his head. “Which is my way of saying, I let my fear outweigh my reason. I’m sorry for what I said to you. You have changed. I know that. After all, you saved me.” 

“There was no real danger,” he stated bluntly. 

Kagome thought she heard a hint of disappointment in his tone. “Well, maybe not for you, but I’m not a skilled fighter.” 

“I have trained for many years,” Sesshomaru replied. Then, considering her, he added, “You are adequate with a bow.” 

Her cheeks turned red. Coming from Sesshomaru, that was a glowing comment. “Thanks.” 

He observed the box clutched protectively in her hands. “You have not opened your gift.” 

“Oh!” Kagome’s blush deepened. “Right, uh, is it okay if I open it here?” 

“It is your gift. You may do as you wish.” 

Smiling, she carefully untied the silk to reveal a wooden box. The lid was etched with an insignia Kagome did not recognize. She looked to him for an explanation. 

“That is the mark of my house,” Sesshomaru informed her. 

“It’s beautiful,” Kagome remarked, tracing her fingers over the crescent moon in the center. 

“The box is not the gift,” he said.

She removed the lid to reveal a pure white flower with thin, almost needle-like petals and a yellow tint at its center. Kagome gasped. She’d never seen such a perfect bloom before. 

“What is it?” she asked, intrigued. 

“It has many names. In your tongue, they refer to it as the Queen of the Night. The blooms are rare and only last for a few short hours.”

“Sesshomaru, this is gorgeous,” she told him, beaming happily. “Thank you.” 

“I am glad it pleases you.” 

“I’ve never gotten anything so beautiful before,” Kagome said, her gaze shifting to the flower. She bit her lip, feeling as though she ought to give him something in return. “Hey, Sesshomaru?” 

“Hn.”

Mustering all the daring she could— and hoping desperately she hadn’t misinterpreted his motives —Kagome rose to her tiptoes and pressed a kiss to his cheek. 

The demon tensed. Kagome felt his yoki press against her, strong but not threatening. When he spoke, his voice sounded hoarse as if he was restraining himself, “Miko.” 

“Y-yeah?” 

“I will come for you on the next full moon.” With that, he was gone. 

Kagome’s heart raced, not from fear but the anticipation of what was to come.

 

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