All Alone In The Night
Light touched the ground in a small clearing, illuminating the trees with a green-glow of strange brilliance, touching leaves and branches with a seamless brightness. It moved across Kagome's face as she lay dreaming in the shadows. She slept on; neither the touch of the light or the cessation of wild-wood noises disturbed her. The approach of a presence her waking self would have leapt from did not concern her in the depth of her sleep.
It was not wise for a lone human traveler to succumb so deeply to dreams, but the place had been safe and empty enough when she lay aside her burdens. It was not wise for her to forget that the pace of her own feet was a human pace, and easily outmatched by many of those who might wish her harm.
But she had forgotten, or the night-fog had dulled her senses, or divine watchfulness had ensured that she would not escape this encounter. The cause did not matter; in the growing silence, her lips moved with a whisper of breath that held no audible sounds, and she turned, and was not aware.
In the tree shadows at the opposite side of the tiny clearing, another shadow was moving. Streamlined in the black shade, revealing only a glint of white from hair and fang, the cause of the sudden silence remained imbedded in the patches of darkness and flitted around the moonlight as though it burned.
A few moments later the demon presence finally made impression on the Kagome's dreams. Her eyes snapped open, and her hands groped desperately for the bow she had laid against the tree behind her when she first lay down. Her fingers found nothing; it was only when she stopped to cast a glance quickly behind her that she noticed both bow and arrows were missing.
"They would be useless anyway, woman."
Kagome looked back in front of her, staring fearfully at the bearer of the youkai presence that had woken her.
She saw then that both her bow and quiver were in his hands; the speed, the spare, silent movement that he must have used to accomplish such a maneuver was almost terrifying, but she found herself eerily free of fear. After all, he could have killed her while she slept, and she was still breathing...but it was more than that. In a strange way, she felt that she could trust him.
She did not remember when it was she had decided to ignore his harshness, to ignore the threat he presented to her life. Maybe it was after he walked away from fighting Inuyasha when he transformed, maybe it was after she noticed that Sesshomaru, though darker, stronger, faster, had never really done his brother any real harm; indeed, had lost an arm to his brother's first use of the Tetsusaiga's transformed power.
Slowly, careful to make no threatening movements, careful not to send so much as a disrespectful eye his way, Kagome stood.
She bowed slightly, as one does to an equal, and her bound hair fell forward and pooled on the ground in front of her. She stared at it. How long had it been since she had had it cut - how long had it been since she had been among people?
She had not dared to stop too long in populated places; the few villages she passed through were glad enough for her presence, once they understood she was a miko – but still. She had worried that Inuyasha might be just behind her, and did not want to endanger innocent villagers. But Kagome pushed her own thoughts, her own difficulties, out of her head, and as she stood straight again Sesshomaru only raised an eyebrow in inquisitive surprise.
For once, his brother's miko was behaving properly. Delicately, he sniffed at the air around them, and detected no trace of fear in her scent. She was not afraid. She was human, unarmed, and she was not afraid. He was not sure whether to be complimented or insulted, and settled instead on…nothing.
"Why are you alone on my lands, woman? I cannot detect my half-breed brother's scent, not even on you. Has he died, and saved me the trouble of killing him?"
Kagome took a step backwards, felt the bark of the tree against her back and then slid down to sit where she had been laying. Smoothly, she wrapped her arms around her knees and leaned back against the tree. Of course he would ask...about Inuyasha. Her features shifted slightly, revealing layers of poorly hidden emotions; grief, and bitterness, and regret.
"I have not traveled with your brother for several months, Sesshomaru-sama."
The word was toneless, dismissive.
"Months; yes. It was just before the last new moon of winter that we defeated Naraku, but after...after Naraku was dead, after the shikon no tama was whole again..."
She closed her eyes against a flash of memory that promised to be painful – gold drowned in red, in darkness -
"After the shikon no tama was whole again, Inuyasha wanted...a trade. My life, for that of someone who was already dead. I could've gone home...but I don't know, if I did that, if I would ever be able to come back here again. I was afraid I'd never see Sango again, or Miroku...or Shippou. So I – left..."
The thoughts flickered through her quickly.
Left , and I can never go back again anyway...but it doesn't matter, does it? Without...him...
"I…left him. I left Inuyasha behind."
Sesshomaru sensed that the woman was on the brink of tears, and was surprised when she controlled them and instead held up the completed and purified shikon no tama, sparkling pink in the sunlight.
"This jewel...I almost wished everything better. But I knew that couldn't really help. This – this thing -!"
Kagome's fingers shook slightly; Sesshomaru thought it looked like she wanted to throw the sparkling bauble away more than anything else. He didn't understand this; had she not journeyed for years seeking to restore it? Human lives were short; why would she waste so much of hers if it was not her desire to do so?
He found himself vaguely irritated by his curiosity and looked at her out of the corner of his eye. Did she intend to continue talking at him? Did she think he cared?
But Kagome was already a step ahead of him – or maybe two.
"Sesshomaru-sama, why are you...interested? I know you hate your brother, and I know you hate humans, so why this sudden concern?"
His features remained still as stone, and he was silent for nearly a minute before he decided to answer.
"Concern, woman? I am...not concerned. You are trespassing; I assumed my brother would be with you, but if he is not then I must look elsewhere."
And with that, he dropped her bow and quiver at her feet, and turned to leave. Not hurrying, he stepped away – and, suddenly, with no warning even in her own mind, Kagome scrambled up and stumbled three steps toward him and took hold of his sleeve.
The expression on his face as he looked back at her was frozen, but she saw – or thought she saw – a glimmer of confusion; it was somehow encouraging and she found her voice to be suddenly unstuck.
"I know where Inuyasha is, Sesshomaru."
Yes, I know where he is...if he isn't following me.
Instantly, incredibly, he was back in front of her, looming over her, his eyes both dark and bright. She had not seen him move.
Looking up at him, one hand lifted because unreasonably, she had not let go of his sleeve, Kagome shook her head.
The word was soft, so soft that Sesshomaru almost couldn't believe he had heard it - that she had said it. Didn't she know that it was dangerous to deny him? His eyes narrowed.
Where this woman, this miko, was concerned, he had always been easily agitated. In his own father's tomb, she had defied him, encouraging his brother to take the inheritance that otherwise would have been his own. She had lived, then; chance had saved her. In all this time, had she learned nothing?
Sesshomaru shook her hand off his sleeve with a lashing movement of his arm, and with preternatural speed drew his sword and pressed the demon blade against her throat. She stood still, completely unmoving, and he found himself suddenly infuriated. Why was there no change in her scent? Why was her heartbeat still steady?
"I could kill you, woman."
The words echoed in Kagome's thoughts, circulated and rebounded in her skull.
I could kill you, woman.
And she acknowledged to herself that it was true; he could – but she did not think he would.
Or wouldn't he just have done it already?
She took a deep breath, wondering what to say – and the answer came to her quickly, easily, floated to the surface on the tide of her thoughts.
"That may be; but I will not tell you where to find him, Sesshomaru-sama."
At her throat, the blade tensed, pressed inwards. In another moment, she knew it would be deep in her throat - and then she sighed, almost cut herself with the motion.
"I will not tell you, but I will take you to him."
His voice was completely flat, but she heard the dismissal in it.
"You can kill me, Sesshomaru-sama. We both know it."
His eyes dilated, looking down at her; she saw the prowling Inu in his gaze, the bloodthirsty intentions, and wondered what was holding them back. In the face of that stare she knew that no power she possessed - no arrow, no miko light - would be enough, and the knowledge softened her voice.
"Or you can allow me to live, and I will lead you to your brother. I know…exactly where he is."
The words that finally came out of Sesshomaru's mouth were half-growl, laced with fury that she had never heard in him before - and his question was not at all what she expected.
"Why? Why don't you fear me?"
To his complete and utter shock, she smiled; it was his shock, and that faint, flickering smile, that kept her alive. She felt the blade of his sword relaxing against her throat before she even began to speak.
"There are two reasons, Sesshomaru-sama, but mostly I think it's because I don't really have a reason to care…if I live or die. I'm all alone now."
Sesshomaru blinked. It was not an answer that he had expected; for reasons he did not understand, it relaxed the immediate pressure of his anger, brought back his curiosity.
"Two reasons, you said. What is the other?"
She looked straight into his eyes, swallowed the pain that that brought up inside her - amber, his eyes, the raw-honey color that she knew so well...but so cold!
"I can't face him alone, Sesshomaru-sama. I cannot face Inuyasha. But you can - I have always known that, even after...the first time."
Her eyes moved involuntarily, fixated on the empty sleeve hanging from his shoulder. It angered him - the reminder that this weak, human woman had been witness to his greatest shame. For that alone, should he not kill her, here, now? Or…was there something she could do for him, a way she could be useful? The power she had used once to threaten him was stronger now; he did not fear her, he feared nothing, but the aura of miko was so bright it was nearly palpable around her. If she sought to use him, to salve her own fear, her own inability to confront the half-breed, then she owed him a debt. And there was a way….
He was not one to equivocate, even in his own mind.
"I have a condition of my own, miko."
She was alerted to something different in him, something that had changed, by the change in his address.
Miko, not just woman? What…brought that on?
"You will assist me in restoring what I have lost to Inuyasha's foolishness. My arm - you will return it to me."
Kagome pressed his sword away from her throat with one hand. It was loose against her flesh and he did not protest, but she was careless with her hand, and slit her palm.
"I don't know if I can do that, Sesshomaru-sama. I do not think it is in my power, but if it is something I can do - I will."
She waited for his answer, his acknowledgment, but Sesshomaru was lost, lost in ways that she could not see and could never have guessed.
He had caught a sweet, thick scent; it ravished his thoughts and made his sensitive nostrils twitch. It was the scent of blood, powerful demon blood; it darkened the red flash of the Inu in his eyes. Everything in his vision took on a red haze.
Sesshomaru stood stiffly still, breathing deeply, a growl building deep in his chest, and Kagome turned away from him, shrugging, confused, and began to dig through her bag for a bandage. When she turned back again to peer at him, her eyes widened and she stood tall; for the first time in this strange encounter, she felt a flicker of fear and dampened it, licked her lips.
"Sesshomaru – you -"
Before she could move, his hand shot out and grabbed her wrist. He brought her bleeding palm close to his nose and ceased her struggling with a sharp growl and a tug on her offending limb. He was fighting, fighting and losing. The blood-scent was speaking to him from the undeniable depths; Take, it said. Claim. It was instinct, he knew it even as he attempted to overcome it; instinct - but that in itself did not make sense.
"Miko! What are you?"
Kagome saw the conflict in him but did not know its source. The touch of madness and the beast in his voice, its harsh-gravel tones, reminded her of Inuyasha when he had succumbed to his demon blood. A second, darker twinge of fear overcame her other emotions.
"I am a human woman, a human woman and a miko. That is all - Sesshomaru!"
The words were a cry, accompaniment to the rumbling growl that broke from Sesshomaru's chest and made her jump back as he sniffed the blood slipping down her palm, breathing deeply, his eyes hooded, his expression impenetrable. He had pulled her so close that her hair moved with his breath; easily, his grip strangely gentle, he turned her bloody palm and tasted her. Fascinated, she watched his tongue move over the gash, waiting for a shudder of disgust that never came.
Expecting pain, she was surprised at the grazing gentleness of his mouth, the cool softness of his lips even while his tongue was rough. Suddenly, she could feel the beating of her heart as separate from the rest of her body, pushing and pulling the blood through her veins. A feeling like being plunged in deep water, like drowning, came over her from the head downwards.
She felt a shock flash through her body, felt in herself an alien desire. There was something that she wanted which she could not name, something she had never tasted which she craved; she knew it would be thick, that it would be sweetness. More than that, she found herself desiring…she did not know what – or rather, she knew, but the knowledge was inconceivable. This was – Sesshomaru!
She realized then that there was no anger in Sesshomaru's red eyes, no wrath, but still fire. She recognized his lust even as she didn't understand it - she knew it, felt it in the softness of his lips against her palm. She could feel his hand creeping around her waist, pulling her closer, his claws pricking gently against her skin through her cotton shirt, and though she knew that she should pull away, she was still; she did not even move her wounded hand, though he had freed it.
Her thoughts were jumbled and flighty, each one spinning on its own axis. Her body was betraying her, pressing against Sesshomaru as much as he pulled her in. Her head hung back, a smooth curve of throat that flowed up to darting eyes behind three-quarter lashes and down to heaving breasts. She felt the strangest urge come over her, to give in, to move forward and not back; but with the urge came fear, terror, an overwhelming confusion.
What is wrong with me?
In response to her terror, there was an explosion of light. If Sesshomaru had not been so consumed by her, he would have noticed the glow that touched the corners of her eyes, but instead his only warning was the lash of violet light that threw him away from her. Across the clearing, he fell splayed onto his back and crushed a patch of flowers. Shaking the red out of his eyes, he stood and stared at her through the fall of his hair. Petals dropped from the falling folds of his robe; the scent of her blood was still drawing him, but his gaze was caught on the shades of darkness in her face.
Sesshomaru growled, and nearly approached her again, but as the light grew and then faded, the opening in Kagome's skin closed. Surprised, she stared at the wound until it was gone; it took only a moment. As the scent of her blood lost its freshness the irresistible instinct that had broken Sesshomaru's vaunted control receded, and he took a step backwards.
His mind was in turmoil, his blood still raging though he managed to keep the uncertainty, the confusion, from his face. Somehow, the miko's blood had reached down and pulled out the Inu, its most potent desires…and yet he had not been destroyed by the power in her when her blood passed his lips - or by the blast that had hit him.
I…even I, taken unawares, should have been purified. What is going on?
He eyed her, half-suspicious, but he could not make himself believe that it had been her intent to evoke such a reaction from him. He stared hard at her, saw her trembling slightly, and scented the fading remnants of her blood, her fear, and her…arousal? on the departing breeze. He thrust that last scent from his thoughts at once, ignoring the clamor of the Inu in its desire to learn how that scent would taste, ignoring the terrible attractiveness of it. He nearly scowled, and then held himself back. He had an unpleasant duty, now.
"I must ask…your forgiveness. There is no excuse for my action."
Much to his surprise, she did not yell, or scream, or beg; she didn't even back away, but only returned his nod – if somewhat shakily - and attempted to smile for him.
"I never expected Sesshomaru-sama to apologize to a human."
He gazed at her sharply, and narrowed his eyes at her half-mocking words. The fear that had touched her had apparently disappeared as quickly as it had come. He did not understand; how did she dare, how did she do it? What was she?
She was still smiling. Sesshomaru turned his back to her, and only then did he answer.
"I have my honor, woman. Appreciate my indulgence, or I will remove it. Come, now - and perhaps it would be best if you took care that your blood was not shed."
She stared at him thoughtfully.
So, I am woman again, huh? But - my blood…
Quite suddenly, she looked at the ground, a faint blush coloring her cheeks, and for the first time in a very long time, Sesshomaru was...amused.
For the rest of the night they stayed in the small grove where Sesshomaru had come upon her, Kagome in her sleeping bag near the fire, he sitting cross-legged across from her, watching, always watching. The firelight shattered in his eyes as he stared at Kagome's sleeping form, listening to his own question resounding in his head.
What are you? What are you, woman?
She said she was a human woman, a miko, and he knew she believed it; she could not have hidden the scent of a lie. Yet he knew that she could not be only human, that eventually he would have to solve the mystery in her blood for the sake of his own sanity.
His eyes narrowed in thought. Again, he wondered if it might not be easier just to kill her. Truthfully, no matter where he was hiding it would not be difficult to find Inuyasha. But …
It is easier, far easier, to follow the woman. And if she can give back to me what he so stupidly took -
He tried to keep his thoughts cold, dull, empty. The memory of the taste of her was strong in him, her scent calling to him even now, closed in her veins…he stood and walked outside the limit of the firelight, claws clenched so tightly that he pierced his hand.
He did not feel it, didn't notice the pain, so intent was he on gaining control of his own soul. In all his life, nothing had ever affected him so much; he had never allowed it to. But the woman gave him no choice, and made him disgusted with himself for being affected by a human - his brother's woman, no less. No matter what she said, in his mind she would always be his brother's woman; she had to be.
The thought made him…angry. Why would that be? The Inu laughed inside him, betrayed him to himself, but he ignored it, and stared up into the sky.
It was in the morning that he saw the first spark of the Kagome he had seen with his brother, the first spark of the passion and power that had always been so irritating about this woman.
Weak, human woman.
Since the moon had set, he had found himself thinking that, over and over, reminding himself. With this woman, it seemed, he could not trust his senses. However….
"I will not do it, Sesshomaru! I will not float to Inuyasha."
His eyes angled down at her; he blinked once, almost lazily, and then the cold glitter returned to his stare.
"You should refer to me with the proper respect."
Somewhere overnight, or perhaps earlier, she had lost the honorific that had so surprised him in the first place. Flames kindled in her eyes at his words.
"And you - you should refer to me with the proper respect!"
He paused; she was quite correct in this, and he had no desire to admit it. Frankly, she amused him. If he chose to fly off with her, she would be forced to accompany him….or die in a fall from a height she probably wouldn't like to imagine.
"It does not matter to me - Kagome. If you insist on walking -"
"I…understand - Sesshomaru-sama."
He heard her inflection, the heavy weight she put on his name, and heard surprise in it. She had not known that he was aware of her name - and even if he was, to actually use it?
He called me…by name.
A/N: And so, I present to you, chapter one of the original Bloodlust, which Bloodlust: Purity is the sequel to. This was written years ago, and I'm finally biting the bullet and revising it. Reviews, as always, are more than welcome and extremely appreciated! Also - it has come to my attention that quite a while ago someone else started posting some of my writing on here, this fanfiction specifically. Until I manage to get the copies removed (and I'm trying, believe me) please make sure you read THIS version; not only is it in my name, so I'll be able to respond to reviews, but this is the NEW REVISED VERSION, which I am working on as I type this.
(Actually, now this is the revised revised version...but yeah. Final, everyone! Final! (as in, no more revisions needed!) Much thanks to all those who review; please R&R!