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Gambling Your Way to Freedom by Dlat

Aftermath

Gambling your way to Freedom

A.N. This is a sequel to “Care to Make a Bet” and as such, a lot of things might not make sense if you haven’t read that story first. Also, to those of you who read the previous version of this story (before I took all those chapters down), this story will follow along the same lines as the previous attempt. I’m keeping the majority of the major events from the previous story, but I will be changing some things to make the story flow better from point to point. Well, hope you enjoy!

Chapter One: Aftermath

Kagome sighed as she reluctantly opened her eyes to face a well chiseled chest. She was surprised she was still in his arms. He’d pulled the comforter over them at some point and she couldn’t resist smiling when she noticed how gently he cradled her. She didn’t want to move. That would break the illusion and she wasn’t looking forward to reentering reality. The events of the past night flashed through her mind and she unconsciously wriggled against him.

“You’re awake,” he said softly and she jerked, not expecting the sound. He leaned down, clearly intending to kiss her, but she pulled back.

“Why am I here?”

He sighed, running his hand through her hair instead. “Later. Do you want some breakfast?” She nodded and he smiled. “Well, why don’t you go take a shower. I’ll have something ready when you come down.” She nodded once again and he rose from the bed, bringing her with him. He pointed her in the direction of the bathroom and then softly padded out of the room.

As the door shut behind him, Kagome collapsed to the floor, the gravity of the situation hitting her like a tsunami. She was dead. As soon as Hojo found her, he was going to kill her. And she didn’t even want to think about all the people who’d probably been beaten for letting her escape. She had no doubt however, that one person would pay for her actions more than anyone else—Sango.

She hoped her friend was ok and that she’d been able to escape Hojo’s wrath, even though she knew that was impossible. What have I done? She thought as her body began to shake. She couldn’t stop the tears of anguish that clawed up her throat. Her breath came in labored gasps and her voice cracked weakly through her sobs. She was so far gone, she didn’t notice the door opening once more or the arms that enveloped her, carrying her back to the bed.

He was whispering in her ear. Soft words of comfort he thought would ease her pain. But his presence only intensified her pain, reinforcing the knowledge that she would never be free. Suddenly, she had to know what he wanted and what he intended to do to her.

Struggling to get her breathing under control, she managed to mumble, “What do you want from me?”

“At the moment,” he said, his words soft as he gently wiped her tears away with his thumb, “for you to stop crying.”

“I can’t….Hojo…” Her sobs were choking her again and she tried to pull away from him, but he only held her closer.

“I paid your debt this morning while you slept. You’re free.”

She allowed herself to believe him—for just a moment—before she shook her head. “You don’t understand.”

“Shhhh, it’s ok.”

“No, it’s not!” she shrieked. “Even if Hojo doesn’t find me, there’s still you! For all I know, I’ve just traded masters. I don’t even know your name!”

“Sesshoumaru,”

“Wha…what?” she said, startled out of her rant.

“My name. It’s Sesshoumaru.”

“Oh,” she murmured, deflating slightly. She looked awkwardly at her hands, unsure what to say next. She became aware of his arms around her, his hands tracing soothing paths down her back. It felt nice, but she knew better than to allow herself to relax into his touch. As nice as he’d been to her, he was still a man—and men were only nice when they wanted something. She just had to figure out what his something was.

After another moment, he let her go, once again motioning her towards the bathroom as he left the room. Kagome made her way there slowly, taking in the various artifacts within his room as she went. The wall in front of her was mostly covered by a large tapestry depicting a battle between the inu lord of the west and the dragon clan.

That must be his father. Kagome thought, placing a delicate hand on the large inuyoukai that covered a large section of the work. His name had shocked her. Every miko knew of the great Sesshoumaru, reigning taiyoukai of the west and the most powerful youkai alive. Her grandmother had spoken of him with great reverence and Kagome had loved to hear the stories of him and his brother and how they brought peace to Japan by joining forces to destroy a powerful spider hanyou. But she never would have guessed in a million years that she would meet him. He was supposed to be in Japan, ruling his land from some well protected castle, not wandering the dingy streets of Atlanta.

She’d thought briefly that he could be lying. She’d known plenty of youkai who claimed to be some powerful lord hoping to scare her into submission, but her reiki had always shown her the truth. This time though, she had a feeling this particular youkai was the genuine deal. He might try to hide his youki, but there was no mistaking its power and that combined with his hair and markings left little doubt he spoke the truth. Stepping back from the tapestry, she turned and spotted the swords above his bed. Even from this distance, she could see the malicious aura that still radiated from Tokijin and she wondered how she’d missed it earlier. Tenseiga hung silently above the darker blade, giving no trace of the power it held within. She wondered offhandedly when he’d last used them. Deciding to continue her exploration after her shower, she finally made her way to the door he had indicated.

She emerged twenty minutes later, her skin slightly flushed from the water. Glancing at her teddy which lay in a heap with his clothes on the floor, Kagome wondered what he expected her to wear. She did not want to put that disgusting thing back on. She’d always loathed it and doubted very much that she’d ever willingly wear lingerie again. She wasn’t sure how he’d react if she went through his clothes though. He might claim that he intended to treat her well, but would he stick to that? Or would he punish her for going through his closet in search of clothes? Maybe he expected her to wear the teddy again. After all, it had been her uniform…and he was her new master. Deciding better to be safe than sorry, Kagome grudgingly donned the revealing scrap of cloth she’d arrived in and ventured out in search of the kitchen.

“Ah,” he said as she entered and she noted the surprise that flickered across his eyes. “There you are.” He motioned towards the table and Kagome sat, noting with some confusion that it was only set for four. Her grandmother had told her numerous times about the grand and lavish lifestyles of those within the House of the Moon. Being one of the richest youkai clans, their lives were always the talk of the youkai world. Dogs were sociable creatures after all and it was no different among youkai. She wondered yet again what he was doing here and why his tastes seemed to have changed so vastly.

He set a plate of food before her and she mumbled a small “thank you,” in response. He sat across from her with his own plate and she waited for him to take the first bite before reaching for her chopsticks.

She ate silently, inwardly reveling at how good it was. She wasn’t sure what she was expected to do. Did he want her to talk? Or did he prefer a mere decoration? That’s what Hojo had wanted. “Just dance,” he’d sneer. “There’s no need for your chatter. No one wants to hear you talk. It’s your body they want.” And as if to emphasize this, he’d usually reach out to grasp her, causing her to cringe in fright. She shivered involuntarily at the memory and tried to push it from her mind.

“You’re cold,” he said, and she looked up to find him watching her. “Why didn’t you put on something else? There are plenty of clothes in my closet.”

“I…” She hesitated, unsure if she should tell him. “I wasn’t sure I was allowed.”

He sighed. “Of course you are.” He stood abruptly and left the room. Kagome wondered if she’d angered him, but a minute later, he returned carrying a blanket which he draped over her before returning to his seat. “After breakfast, please go choose whatever you like from my closet until we can get you some things of your own.”

She nodded.

“Now, would you like to tell me how you came to be in that place?”

The question was so unexpected that Kagome jerked, suddenly incensed at the whole situation. Unaware of what she was doing, she stood, the blanket falling forgotten to the floor. “Why are you so damned interested in a whore? Just what the fuck do you want?”

He stood as well, more slowly than she had and walked to her shaking form. She didn’t know if she was shaking from fear or anger, but one thing was certain: she was going to get some answers. And he was going to give them to her. By the time he’d reached her, she was beside herself with rage. She braced herself in case he decided to hit her and waited for his response.

“You’re not a whore.”

She scoffed, but before she could retort, he’d silenced her with his mouth. His lips devoured hers, clearly intending to drive all thoughts from her mind. When he pulled back, she swayed slightly, looking up at him in confusion. “Wha?”

“You may have worked as a dancer,” he said, his eyes suddenly ablaze with anger. “But you are nothing like the other women in that dump. You refused to let others corrupt you, even though you knew that meant you would remain trapped forever.”

Her eyes widened. Most people she’d met since being forced into this lifestyle only saw what she could do for them, or more specifically to them. No one ever actually gave any thought to her feelings. Or why she was there in the first place. Maybe he is different.

“I was sold to Hojo,” she mumbled, refusing to look at him. “To pay a debt.”

“Why don’t you start at the beginning,” he said, guiding her back to her chair and retrieving the blanket, placing it around her shoulders once more. He sat down again as well and Kagome wondered if he would look at her differently once she told him her story.

“My family is from a small town in Eastern Japan, as if Hojo. We grew up together. He wasn’t always the creep he is now. We used to be friends. But then he spent a summer in Tokyo with his father and when he came back, he was a totally different person. He was constantly trying to get me to sleep with him, and when I refused, he took it out on my friends. He got two of them hooked on meth and then told them unless they convinced me to sleep with him, he would cut off their supply. Stupid, I know, but it still hurt. I couldn’t believe he would use my friends to get to me. I had almost broken down and relented when his father was killed and Hojo moved to the States, using his inheritance to open this club.”

 

“But that doesn’t explain why you are here.”

“He didn’t stop trying to get me even after he left. I was always getting mysterious emails offering all expense paid trips to study abroad in Atlanta, even though I’d never even applied to any colleges. My mom thought I should look into them since it would probably be my only chance to see the world, but some part of me knew it was him. Then two years ago, my brother was almost killed by a massive seizure. He’s fine now, but the hospital bills, doctor fees, and medication costs wiped our family out completely. We run a shrine, so we’d never really been all that wealthy anyways, but this was just more than my mother could handle.”

“What happened?”

He was looking at her sympathetically, his eyes never wavering from her face, and she wondered if he would still look at her that way after he knew.

“Hojo promised to pay for everything if my mother gave…” Her eyes clouded over as she dropped her gaze to the ground, unable to admit the truth.

“If she gave you to him,” he finished for her.

She nodded solemnly, and the tears threatened to overwhelm her again. She’d thought her mother loved her. She’d been the one person Kagome thought she could trust beyond any shadow of doubt. Now she knew better than to put her trust in anyone. Trust only led to pain.

“Did your mother know what he intended to do to you?”

She violently wiped the tears from her face and shook her head. “I…I honestly don’t know. All I remember is her asking me to go to the store for her and when I was walking home, someone shoved me in a van and injected something into my arm. When I came to, I was in Hojo’s office in the club.”

“And your family? What became of them?”

“Again,” she said, still refusing to look at him. “I don’t know. But I wouldn’t trust Hojo to keep his word to anyone, so I doubt he did everything he said he would. He did tell me it was now my responsibility to pay off my family’s debt.”

She shivered again as the memories rushed over her. She’d woken chained naked to a sleek pole in the middle of Hojo’s office. He’d smirked and crouched in front of her, casually asking her if she’d slept well before roughly kissing her. He’d trailed his disgusting hands all over her body, all the while whispering that she was his now until she paid off her debt, but not to worry, he’d pay her handsomely for her presence in his bed. She hadn’t had any idea what he was talking about and had been overwhelmed with the urge to throw up all over his pristine suit, but instead, she’d spat in his face.

That had been a mistake. He’d yanked her back hard by the hair and hit her across the face so roughly she could barely remain conscious. She didn’t even remember the rest of the beating and when she’d once more regained consciousness, he’d played her a recording of her mother agreeing to sell her to him. Then he’d told her since she wasn’t cooperating, he’d decided to make her work off her debt in his club, and that she should be grateful to him for only making her dance as payment.

“Kagome?”

She jerked out of the memory, shocked to find him kneeling before her. He reached up to cup her face, but withdrew when she flinched.

“My god,” he said softly and the next thing she knew, he’d wrapped his arms around her, cradling her head into the crook of his neck. “What the hell did he do to you?”

Kagome allowed herself to take comfort in his embrace, if only for the moment. He was so warm…and powerful. She could feel it in his muscles and she wondered briefly how she hadn’t known who he was the moment he’d walked into that room in the club. But then again, the slums of Atlanta weren’t really somewhere she’d have ever envisioned him in.

He was talking again and it took her a moment to focus on what he was saying. “Go to my closet and pick out something to wear and then we’ll go get your belongings from your previous residence.”

She pulled back, staring at him incredulously. “What?”

“Surely you have belongings you’d like to retrieve?”

“Well, yes but…” she’d never believed he’d let her get them. Hell, she didn’t even believe him now.

“Then we’ll go get them. We need to go back into town so you can get some clothes anyway. That was the one thing I could not get for you. Now, are you finished eating?” She nodded, too astounded to speak. He nodded as well and helped her to her feet. “Good, go get dressed while I clean up here and then we can leave.”

 

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