Disclaimer: I don't own the Inuyasha characters or those from Yu Yu Hakusho.

Sangre y Sacrificio

Chapter 4

Kagome shifted restlessly, the unusual hardness of her futon and the scratchiness of her covers making it impossible for her to fully submerge back within the comforting depths of unconsciousness. With a sigh of defeat, her eyes fluttered open with the expectation of seeing the familiar walls of her small room and her mother peeking in to check on her. So imagine her surprise when her gaze settled on a strange young man with long, white sitting upright with arms crossed in a strange hut that definitely not her own.

At first she thought it was Inuyasha because his snoring was definitely the same obnoxious pitch as her best friend's. But then she noticed that this guy didn't have dog ears and wasn't wearing the trademark red haori.

Her vigilance was immediate. Suddenly she was aware of everything at once. Her mauve and yellow kimono that lay near the simmering fire pit, the slight dampness of her yukata, the soft, ball of orange fluff nestled under the crook of her neck, the brilliant rays of sunlight filtering through the window and bathing the tatami in a warm, yellow glow.

A knot of panic swelled within her chest. Where was she? How did she get here? Had she been kidnapped? Had the silver clan come to claim her ahead of the allotted time?

'Stop it.' Kagome forced herself to calm down and attempted to recall what little bit she could remember.

Then it all came back to her: sitting by the river, a tiny child running toward her, a guy with fair hair and eyes the color of melted gold, falling into the river...

Kagome resisted the urge to knock her head against the tatami for her stupidity. 'Well I guess that's what I get for fooling around on top of a wet rock near a raging river.' Her eyes narrowed at the man. 'I don't know if I should be angry at him for causing me to slip or thankful that he rescued me.'

She worried her lower lip between her teeth and glanced over at the doorway. It was less than six paces away. Getting out wasn't going to be the problem. Even if he did try to stop her—though if his snoring was any indication of the depth of his sleep she doubted she'd have a problem—he looked like a lightweight.

And with the few defense moves Inuyasha had taught her, Kagome knew she could hold her own. Carefully, Kagome shifted away from the small child without waking him and slid the blanket off. Her steps were quick and quiet as she walked toward the discarded kimono. She kept her eyes on the fair-haired man as she bent down.

His chest continued to rise and fall with deep, easy breaths, giving no suggestion that he knew she existed, let alone leaving. He looked peaceful, content even. Blue eyes followed the curve of his jaw, the straight, aristocratic perch of his nose to the thick lashes spread across the top of his high cheekbones. His lips were perfect and full with a hint of moisture, making them all the more kissable.

'Kissable? Where did that come from?' The absurdity of the thought made her jerk upwards. 'I've got to get out of here before my mind abandons me.' Kagome balled the garments in her arms and tiptoed towards the shoji.

"I believe you owe me something."

Kagome mentally groaned. Something told her that this had seemed entirely too easy. She took her time turning back around. Sharp, golden eyes pierced her own, the intensity of the forged connection causing her breath to hitch. She shook it off and glared at him. "I don't think I owe you anything besides a kick in the butt for making me fall."

He snorted lightly. "I took no part in your little blunder. You managed to make a complete fool of yourself all on your own."

"Excuse me?" she stared at him incredulously. "Correct me if I'm mistaken, but aren't you the one who climbed on top of that rock and tried to seduce me?"

Youko almost laughed out loud. "Love, that was hardly what I would call seduction. It was simply teasing, at most."

Kagome's face turned a brilliant shade of red. Well it wasn't her fault she didn't know what it felt to be seduced. All of the suitable men in her village knew she was a dead woman walking so there was really no point in pursuing her. "Regardless, had you not intruded upon my privacy and personal space I would not have fallen, so an apology is still in order."

Like the shifting of tides, the white-haired man's face took on a dark expression. Kagome refrained from jumping back as he stood, or more like glided, to his feet. He walked towards her, his gait long and graceful like that of a feline. A sense of déjà vu swept over her as he came about a breath's width away from her face, the smooth, defined contours of his bronzed chest bringing another flood of color to her cheeks.

Kami, did his toga have to be so revealing?

"Girl, do not presume that I owe you anything," the man said softly, his breath light and warm over her face. "It is enough that I had to swim downriver to catch your person after you foolishly lost your footing, and then be forced to find shelter with the approach of a storm in an old woman's hut." Kagome impulsively took a step backward as he closed the space separating them. "Not only have you made me late for a prior engagement, but I have probably lost a sufficient amount of funds."

Her heart thundered loudly against her ribcage as her back pressed against the wall. With all possible means of escaped blocked by his body, Kagome found herself in a rather awkward position. She met his gaze boldly and calmly despite the traitorous beating of her heart. "Well I'm sorry for your loss, but what is money compared to that of a life?"

'A human life at that,' Youko thought inwardly with distaste. An errant strand of hair clinging to her cheek drew his attention; the dark lock providing a stark contrast to the almost ivory tint of her skin. He ran his finger down the length of her face, inwardly smirking as she shivered at his touch. "Money is everything," he said tucking the strand behind her ear. "It has the power to make or break you. With enough of it, you are a powerful force, able to command those to do your bidding, able to live in the most affluent homes, able to dine like a king…able to have your deepest desires fulfilled. You would be a god amongst men."

His finger trailed a path down to the curve of her neck. "But without it, you are merely a pauper, a simple peasant, an insignificant waste of life destined for nothing but squalor, pain, and misery."

Kagome sighed and closed her eyes, not because of his touch, which had begun to ignite foreign, dormant passions welling within her, but because of his words; his words that cut long, deep gashes onto her already bleeding soul. Is this really how he thought of her and everybody else that didn't have the means to sustain a wealthy lifestyle? It physically sickened her that there were people like him that existed; that there were people who deemed themselves on the level of a deity because of their financial status.

She smacked his hand away angrily and stared into his impassive face. "I may not live in a castle or dine like a king or even have servants at my beck and call, but I know the true meaning of living." Kagome shoved him backwards, ignoring the startled surprise on his face at the sudden move. "And at least it doesn't involve me being an egotistical, arrogant, self-absorbed chauvinistic jerk! I can't believe-"

Muffled, childish giggles cut Kagome off in the middle of her tirade. She turned to the bundle of blankets by the fire pit. A small lump in the center giggled again, and then abruptly stopped when it noticed that it had captured her attention.

Anger forgotten, Kagome smiled. "I know you're there. You may come out now."

After a moment's hesitation, the child climbed to his feet and shyly began to pull the blanket off. Kagome did a double take. This boy was no boy at all. Her eyes took in his appearance, from the pointed ears to the sharp incisors that jutted out as he grinned up at her. "You're a youkai," she said without thinking.

Disappointed at her reaction, the child cast his gaze downwards in shame. "Yeah."

Kagome realized her slip of the mouth had come out the wrong way. She bent down and ruffled his hair affentionately. "So does this cute youkai have a name?"

His orange head snapped up, an elated expression adorning his cherub face. "My name's Shippou," he said enthusiastically. "I'm a kitsune."

Fear in the form a sharp bolt of lightning lanced through her heart. The pain was staggering. She kept her smile from faltering. "A kitsune, you say? You wouldn't happen to be of the silver clan, would you?"

He wrinkled his nose. "No way, I hate them. I'm from,…was from the red clan. Our clan is the best, even though we might not be the strongest."

Kagome immediately relaxed and the pain eased. "Alight Shippou, my name is Kagome. It's a pleasure to meet you." She held out her hand and he eagerly took it.

"It's nice to meet you too. You know, you're the first person I've ever seen shout at Master Youko."

Kagome slanted said man a wary look. "Some people just need to be put in their places every so often."

Youko didn't hear her. He had been too caught up in the whirlwind of furious emotions that threatened to burn him from the inside out. How dare the little twit make a mockery of him? Nobody, and he meant nobody, had ever openly insulted him before in his entire life. But then again, she didn't know that at any given moment he could snap her neck with one hand tied behind his back.

Liquid gold eyes narrowed as the girl and kit conversed amiably like they'd known each other for years. He didn't know what to make of her. One hand he wanted to strangle her pretty little neck while watching the last of her breath trickled from that pouty mouth and the light die from her eyes. His tails shivered in anticipation.

She laughed at something the kit said, her voice like that of airy chimes tinkling melodically beneath a light breeze. Youko withheld a groan as his body tightened in response. But on the other hand, he wanted nothing more than to crush her soft, delicate one against his own and have his way with her until she could no longer walk.

He frowned. He hadn't been this at odds with himself since his mother died and he had to be held back from slashing Nago to ribbons.

Youko's frown deepened. He needed to get out of here while he still retained a hold on his wits. A feeling deep within his subconscious tugged at him, forewarning him of an uncertain future. He stared at the girl. And for some reason, he knew that it had to do with her, but what?

Shuffling in another room brought a temporary end to his musings. The old woman was up now. He had almost forgotten about her. "Come Shippou, let us take our leave," he said, not in the mood to put up with the foolish hag.

"Aren't you going to thank whoever allowed us sleep here for the night?" Kagome asked, annoyed by his haste and lack of courtesy.

"Then you can thank her for the both of us," he said dryly. "Shippou?"

The kit jumped into Kagome's arms for protection against his soon-to-be defiance. "I think we should show her gratitude before we leave."

Youko's eye twitched, his irritation rising as Kagome gave him a smug smile. A low growl formed at the base of his diaphragm just as the old woman hobbled into the room. Youko swallowed it quickly and fashioned civility onto his face once more. "Good morning. How are you faring this fine day?"

Kagome almost dropped Shippou at the speed in which he switched personalities. "Does he do that all the time?" she whispered.

"Only when he wants to show off," Shippou muttered.

Their side conversation going unnoticed, the old woman smiled at him. "Good morning to you too. As for how I'm faring, I've had better days. This old body of mine won't hold up for much longer anyway." She looked towards Kagome's direction. "How are you two doing? I hear you had quite an accident."

Kagome smiled sheepishly. "Oh, it was nothing. Just clumsiness on my part."

"Yes, my friend can be a bit scatterbrained at times, well most of the time," Youko interjected smoothly, his veneer still good-natured and polite.

"I assure you that this time it was no fault of mine," Kagome chuckled easily. "Had my friend's insatiable libido been contained, the accident would not have occurred at all." She saw him stiffen out of the corner of her eye and knew she'd hit a sore spot. 'Ha. Two can play this game.'

Youko released a mock sigh. "Love, believe me when I say your naiveté and innocence will be your inevitable downfall. And when that happens, I will be there to help you up.' 'After poking and laughing at your wounds.'

Kagome read his thoughts loud and clear. A rush of anger propelled the blood rushing through her veins as he silently laughed at her.

"Youko and Kagome like each other," Shippou announced from nowhere.

The couple physically spluttered and coughed before giving the kit warning looks.

"I know they do child," the old woman grinned toothily and crouched down to stoke the coals of the nonexistent fire when she grunted with pain and fell forward.

Before Kagome could blink, Youko had already saved the woman from what would have been a nasty fall and gently lowered her to the ground.

"Thank you child." She winced and rubbed her lower back. "These pains are getting worse with the passing of each day now."

Kagome's heart went out to the woman. From the deep creases and folds of her skin, it was obvious that she had seen many years. "Is there anything we could do to ease you pain?"

The woman coughed and waved her off. "No, no. Just give me a moment and I'll be fine. But I don't think we've been properly introduced. My name is Koneke Tamoshi."

"Oh, my name is Kagome Higurashi," she bowed respectfully.

"I'm Shippou," he said mimicking Kagome's bow.

Youko almost sighed out loud. "I'm Youko," he said deliberately not giving his full name.

Koneke nodded. "Well it's good to meet you all. Give me some time and I will have breakfast ready for you."

"Would you like Youko to go out and gather firewood for you?" Kagome asked with a small smirk.

"I would be most grateful dear."

"Would you like to accompany me, Kagome?" he inquired shooting her a glare behind the old woman's back.

She laughed nervously, the way her name sounded rolling of his tongue not wholly unpleasant. "No thank you. Shippou and I are going to keep Koneke company," Kagome intentionally added the child's name into the mix so he couldn't take off.

She watched as he sent her an unreadable look before exiting the hut. An invisible force released the pressure on her chest as soon as he was gone. Kagome unconsciously put a hand to her throat in wonder. 'Does he really have that strong of a presence that I can physically feel when leaves? Which leads to an even better question: who is he?' There was definitely an air of arrogance about him, and without a doubt a large degree of self-absorption. But the swiftness he had used when he kept Koneke from falling and the tender care he had used when setting her down suggested that he was more than a rich playboy that only cared about himself.

"You're going to marry that boy one of these days."

Kagome blinked. "Excuse me?"

"I told you so," Shippou grinned.

Koneke nodded sagely. "He is the love of your life."

Kagome chuckled. "Trust me when I say, I don't think so. We can hardly stand one another's presence."

"That's only chemistry child. There's nothing like it in the world. It will keep you two on your toes and madly in love each other for the rest of your days."

'Well my days are already numbered so I doubt that unless he manages to fall in love with me within the span of three moon cycles," Kagome thought with a rueful expression. Her hand reached for her lower stomach where the brand lay beneath her robe. 'Three moon cycles.'

The rest of the morning passed without incident. After the wood was brought in, Koneke started making breakfast with help from Kagome as Shippou chatted away, happy for once that there were people who actually listened to him for once.

Youko instantly noticed something amiss the moment he stepped back within the hut. The oppressive shadow hovering above Kagome's aura was tangible. Whatever had been discussed while he was out had caused her to become subdued. Though not entirely silent, her comments lacked passion and enthusiasm. She was lost within her thoughts. He had tried to bait her into an argument and even playful banter without success. That didn't disturb him as much as the gnawing concern he had over the matter.

The sun occupied its zenith when the group decided to take their leave. After bidding Koneke farewell and promising to return soon for a visit, the trio headed west.

"What's wrong Kagome?" Shippou tugged at her kimono. "You haven't spoken a lot since Koneke said that you were going to marry Youko."

Her cheeks flooded with color. "Shippou!" she hissed. "That wasn't supposed to leave Koneke's hut."

"So that's what you're moping about," Youko smirked folding his arms across his chest. "The idea that you will never be mine is that upsetting. It's understandable."

"Oh go shove it," Kagome snapped irately. "I'm sorry to break this to you but the world does not revolve around Youko."

"It might as well," he replied coolly. "And I wouldn't talk about shoving anything if you're not going to be putting out."

Kagome growled and bent over to cover Shippou's ears. "Is everything with you about sex?"

"Considering that I haven't gotten any in a while, my answer would be yes for the time being," Youko bit out harsher than he intended. "Now unless you want to alleviate me of said problem, then I suggest you shut your mouth and walk. The more time we spend dawdling, the more time it'll take for me to get back to your village."

She stood up, her back ramrod straight, her blue eyes cold and inexpressive. "If I'm so much of a burden to you, then leave me be. Contrary to what you think, not all peasants are so simple that they can't find their way back to their villages."

Youko grabbed her arms and yanked her against his chest before he could stop himself. "You will refrain from raising your voice in my presence girl." He tightened his grip. "I am not your friend; I am not your comrade. You do not know of the things I can do to you, of the things I am capable of. Now silence yourself and be grateful that I am providing guidance back to your home."

"I don't need your help," Kagome spat squirming to get out of his vice grip hold.

"And what would you do if I left you here?" he murmured pulling her to her toes so that they were almost nose to nose. "What would you do after dusk falls and all of the freaks, psychotic killers, rapists, thieves, and other scum of society crawl out of their holes, all drooling for a chance to sink their claws, amongst other things, into a pretty virgin girl?"

Kagome trembled against him; his words, his proximity, his scent, the truth all hitting their respected marks. She bit her lip and prayed for strength. There was nothing she'd like more to do than sink to the ground and cry her heart out. She wanted to curl up in her mother's arms or Inuyasha's arms and have them tell her that everything was going to be alright. She had to remain strong and firm. She would not break down, not here, not now and especially not in front of him.

She swallowed and gave him a meek nod, unable to meet his eyes. Satisfied with her answer, Youko let her go and walked on without a backwards glance.

Shippou released the breath he'd been holding. "Well, this makes things awkward."

A/N: That wasn't too long a wait. It's weird because I was staring at the same words on the first page for like a month, and then tonight I just sit down and it all comes flowing out. Strange eh? It's kind of unedited. It kind of sucks. But all of this is just the first draft…and because I'm lazy

And in response to a question posed by Youko Kuramas Fox, this is a complete AU story: that means there is not well, no future hopping, etc. as stated in the first chapter. It's about as original as Fanfiction can get. Anyway, thank you guys for you support and love. I appreciate the reviews. I really like where this story is going to expect it to be one of the ones I actually finish. Hehe.