Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha or any of its characters. If I did, Kikyo would still be dead and Inuyasha and Kagome would've been together a long time ago.

This takes place before Inuyasha beat Ryuukotsusei and the Tetsusaiga was made lighter. He's still having problems keeping control over his demon half.

Claw Marks On My Heart

Chapter One – A Formidable Foe

"Dammit…." Inuyasha cursed, dragging the back of his hand over his mouth to wipe away the crimson blood that dribbled from his split lip. "Bastard doesn't want to die."


White, triangular-shaped dog ears angled back at the sound of their owner's name, and his golden eyes located the figure clothed in black and violet robes, rushing in his direction.

"Miroku, what – ?"

The monk pointed. "Watch out!"

"Huh?" The silver-haired, half-demon snapped his attention to what the priest had been indicating to, and leapt out of the way mere moments before the earth beneath him buckled and cracked from a tremendous blow. Immense slabs of hardened dirt and silt, sprinkled with yellowish-green blades of grass were dislodged or thrust upright, standing erect like a row of pointed teeth around the scarred ground. A russet cloud of dust, dirt and debris – kicked up by the force of the impact – hovered over the blast radius, gradually descending back to the terrain.

Inuyasha's jump had transported him to the very outskirts of the forest that bordered the vast plain he and Miroku now stood in. Falling with utmost grace, he perched himself on a sturdy branch of a towering oak tree, crouching cat-like on the wooden limb. With a huff, he blew the shock of silver-white bangs out of his molten eyes to glower fiercely at his opponent.

There was a colossal rumbling of shifting earth and stone gnashing together, and the dust that had just began to settle was whipped up anew. From the deep gash in the land rose the cause of the wound. A tail. An enormous tail that was thicker than a tree trunk with fearsome spines lining the tip.

The tail withdrew, and as the dust cleared, its owner became visible. Looming well over the forest canopy, a massive snake demon swiveled its head slowly from side to side, searching for its prey. A terrible hissing issued from its gaping maw. Rows of needle-thin, razor-sharp teeth were scarcely perceptible through the gap between its scaly lips. Two fangs curled down from its top jaw, much like that of a sabertooth tiger. Each incisor was easily the length and width of a human arm, and sharpened to a deadly point. From the center of its forehead was a single, reptilian slitted eye that pulsed with a sickly yellow light. The demon's blood-red scales were coated with a thin layer of putrid black sludge. Whenever it shifted, a fresh supply of inky pus oozed from hidden pores beneath the burgundy scales. The reeking stench of rotting corpses, blood and acid was enough to turn Inuyasha's stomach, even from this distance.

"You are one ugly son of a bitch," he murmured, his voice low and deadly as he stared down the demon.

And dangerous, he added mentally.

He knew he had to kill this thing, and fast. But how he was intended to go about that was beyond him.

Only a few weeks had passed since Naraku's incarnation, Goshinki, had snapped the Tetsusaiga in two. Totosai had been forced to restore it by forging the sword out of one of Inuyasha's fangs in addition to his father's. This had led to an unforeseen consequence.

The Tetsusaiga was now too heavy for Inuyasha to wield effectively.

Totosai had explained to the infuriated half-demon that this was caused by the use of his fang to repair the sword. Before Tetsusaiga was fractured, the sword had been fashioned from the fang of his father, Inutashio, triggering the young half-demon to rely on the strength of his father to shelter him. However, now that his own fang was added to the blade, Inuyasha was now protecting himself. The Tetsusaiga would become manageable once again when Inuyasha either mastered his own power or surpassed his father in strength.

The problem was, the dog demon still didn't know how he was supposed to achieve such feats and was left with a cumbersome weapon that slowed him down. What had once been his key to quick, victorious battles was now practically useless to him.

A low growl rumbled forth in his chest at the thought.

As usual, he and his five companions were out roaming the countryside, searching for Jewel shards and Naraku's whereabouts. They had just set out from a nearby village when they had sensed a powerful demonic aura. Thinking it was Naraku, Inuyasha and Miroku had raced on ahead, leaving Kagome and Sango behind to catch up later.

Though, while he and the monk had been thoroughly disappointed to determine that the demonic aura did not belong to Naraku, they still had a problem on their hands. This snake demon was formidable, and the girls – along with Shippo and Kirara – would soon reach the edge of the forest.

And Inuyasha didn't want Kagome anywhere near danger.

But the half-breed had quickly discovered that he would not be able to dispatch the snake demon as swiftly as he originally thought. His claws were next to useless against its diamond-hard scales. Half the time, Inuyasha couldn't even land an attack on it. Few would've expected a demon of that girth to possess such speed and agility.

Regardless, Inuyasha thought, it has to go.

Flecking his claws, his knuckles cracked in a rapid secession of pops, and he crouched low on the tree branch, preparing to spring at the demon.

"Wait, Inuyasha!"

Whipping his head in the direction of Miroku's voice, he glared, his silver hair cascading over his left shoulder. "What now?" he snapped, fangs flashing.

"Do not be so hasty with this demon!" the monk called from where he stood, ten yard away from Inuyasha's tree. "Its demonic aura is extremely potent!. It may be drawing the power of a Shikon Jewel shard in order to intensify its strength!"

"You think I haven't given that any consideration?!" Inuyasha barked. "What kind of idiot do you take me for?!"

When the Buddhist priest didn't respond, the half-demon snarled in irritation. Annoyance colored his tone, making it rough and harsh as he continued, "Besides, we won't know if it's holding a shard until Kagome and the others get here, now will we?"

Averting his gaze from the monk, Inuyasha faced the snake demon and a cruel, half-smile tugged at the corner of his lips. "And this sucker will be dead long before they arrive."

"Don't be foolish, Inuyasha," Miroku exclaimed. "Your claws didn't even leave a scratch on him! You cannot fight him barehanded!"

"Then what do you suggest I do, since you seem to have all the answers?" Inuyasha yelled, scowling gruffly at his friend.

"Use Tetsusaiga!"

A muscle jumped in Inuyasha's jaw as he gritted his teeth, his blood boiling under his skin. "Where the hell have you been for the past few weeks?!" he exploded, every inch of his sharp teeth bared. "In case you haven't noticed, I can't swing the damn sword! It takes every ounce of my strength just to lift it!"

"What other choice do we have?" the monk called. "Your claws don't do anything against it. Surely the Tetsusaiga will."

I suppose it can't hurt to try, Inuyasha mused.

"If this doesn't work, monk, I'm comin' after you!" the half-demon warned.

His leg muscles bunched as he crouched low on the branch, then sprung like a coil as he dove from the tree. The second his bare feet touched the cool, prickly surface of the grass, he took off running. Wind whipped through his silver hair and flattened his ruby red haori and hamaka against his body, the fabric clinging to every inch of hidden, chiseled muscle. The world flew by in a blur of colors as Inuyasha raced towards the snake demon at breakneck speeds. The creature's size became all the more intimidating the closer he got to it.

A clawed hand fell lightly to the scabbard at his hip, loosely curling his fingers around the Tetsusagia's handle, ready to be drawn at a moment's notice.

When Inuyasha was near enough to it, the snake demon let out an earsplitting roar, one that made the earth tremble and quake. The young half-breed could feel the vibrations of the bellow in the soles of his feet.

"Feh. You're gonna have to do a lot more than snarl in order to scare me," he murmured as his feet carried him to the enormous snake.

Faster than a lightning strike, the monster's head lashed out, its rapier fangs aimed for the streak of red and silver that was Inuyasha. Digging his feet into the soft soil, Inuyasha jerked to a stop and then propelled himself backwards, narrowly avoiding the strike. The demon swung its tail at him and he sidestepped the crushing blow, only to leap out of the way as its fangs imbedded into the ground where he had stood. Ducking, rolling, bending and jumping, Inuyasha evaded every attack thrown at him.

"Nice moves," he commented, ducking under the thick tail that at was aimed at his head. His hand closed around the Tetsusaiga's handle "But now it's my turn, hotshot."

In a flash, Inuyasha drew his sword, and for a brief moment, all one could see was a thin, battered, rusty old sword. To most eyes, one good clash with another blade would be the end of it. But before even a second had passed, there was a brilliant flash of golden light that encompassed the sword. When it faded, a new sword stood in its place, one that lived up to the name "Tetsusaiga."

The Tetsusaiga stood tall and proud for a fleeting instant before its newfound weigh dragged down the arms wielding it.

Damn. It's still too heavy, Inuyasha thought, glaring at the sword.

However, he pushed aside any concerns on his blade's mass and dove recklessly at the demon, swinging the Tetsusaiga at its fleshy body. With incredible speed, the creature twisted out of harm's way with hardly any effort. The mighty sword clanked solidly against the ground.

"So that's how you want to go down, ehh?" Inuyasha scoffed, heaving the Tetsusaiga up to balance it against his shoulder. "Fine by me. It'll just make victory all that much sweeter when I kill you!"

The half-breed flung himself at the snake demon, thrusting and slicing the Tetsusaiga every which way. Had it not been for the enormous creature before him, one would've thought Inuyasha was battling with the air. Every time he made an attempt to wound the snake, it wriggled away from him, the sharp end of Tetsusaiga's blade only a hair's-breadth from its scales. The demon seemed to be dancing the way it whirled and spun and veered away from Inuyasha's advances.

None of the young half-demon's battle tactics were successful on it. He tested every last move he had in his arsenal from attacking with extreme speed and aggression to leaping high into the air in effort to strike the creature from above and take it by surprise. Not even the Wind Scar would aid him in this battle, for Inuyasha could not lift the Tetsusaiga high enough to slice through the demonic winds.

After each attempted assault on the demon, Inuyasha would have to pause for a moment to catch his breath before plunging into battle again. The unfamiliar weight of Tetsusaiga was beginning to wear on his strength and energy, decelerating his speed and agility, and causing his movements to become sluggish. He suffered from an increasing number of wounds as he grew to be too slow to evade the demon's vicious attacks with its fangs and tail. Multiple shallow wounds and rapidly growing bruises marred his ivory skin. His breath came in quick, rapid successions as his heart beat frantically to pump more oxygen into his blood.

Golden eyes narrowing, an irritated growl rumbled deep within Inuyasha's chest, and his conical ears flicked in aggravation as he panted.

"Stay still, dammit!" he roared, jumping at the demon as he raised the Tetsusaiga over his head. With an almighty yell, he brought the sword slashing down against the demon's slinky body.

The blade connected with the snake's hard scales. Inuyasha grinned triumphantly….

Only for it his exultant beam to melt off his face a fraction of a second later. Instead of slicing through the ropy body – through scales, flesh and bone – there was a grating metallic sound and a shower of sparks as the great sword glanced off the blood-red armor-like skin.

Inuyasha's amber eyes widened in shock as the Tetsusaiga bound back at him, catching him forcefully in the chest. The power of the recoil sent him crashing to the ground with a pained grunt, clumps of dirt and blades of grass scattering around him.

The silver-haired demon raised his head to gap dumbfounded at the snake demon.

"What the hell?!" he bellowed, his fangs flashing.

Its scales deflected a direct attack from my Tetsusaiga. How is that possible? he wondered frantically, springing to his feet.


The hybrid threw a look over his shoulder, and felt his growing concern reach its highest point.

A small group – comprised of two women, and a cat and young fox demon – were hastening towards him. The older of the females, Sango, securely clasped the fox demon kit, Shippo, in her arms with her Hiraikotsu strapped across her back. Kirara ran alongside her, her tiny legs straining to keep up. Kagome was straggling at the back of the group, adjusting the quiver of arrows that was slung over one shoulder and tightening her hold on the masterfully crafted bow in her hand. Her brown eyes were focused intently on Inuyasha.

Couldn't have waited until I killed this thing, could you, Kagome? Inuyasha sighed to himself as he met the young girl's gaze.

Killing the demon would be even harder now that he would have to protect Kagome from danger.

A menacing hiss came from the snake demon as it leered down at the new arrivals. Its mouth stretched back into a horrendous grin, its rows of narrow, pointed teeth placed on display for all to see. Eyeing the small group, the demon's sneer widened, its single eye pulsing brighter. A slimy, forked tongue darted past its scaly lips and ran over the front of its teeth, wetting them.

The cat-like pupil focused then on Inuyasha, and almost as if it sensed his distress, it let out a long, spine-chilling hiss in the form of a word:


Just a fair warning, I love cliffhangers. Any multi-chapter story I write will more often than not contain cliffhangers at the end of every chapter.

Please inform me if there are any mistakes and I will fix them with my next update.