A little dot ran in the forest moved by desperation alone. Thirty feet away the intimidating figure of an oni followed, gaining distance at every step. The gasps of the dot seemed to echo in the forest, a cadence with hastened intensity and presence as the time passed. The results of the encounter were perfectly predicted with the certainty of repetition. At any moment, the predator would catch its prey and end it. The last scream, stolen with violence from the ripped throat of its victim would silence the forest for an instant, dissonant and curt. Then, the fall of the dot.
Nonetheless, that day was different. Within seconds of the fatal sentence, a flash crossed the forest. When the blinding light ended a new player was revealed, the origin of this strange disturbance. It was a teenager, more child than adult, with transcendental presence and noble bearing. The boy, with supernatural beauty, inspected the scene with an apathetic gaze. First predator, then prey.
His eyes stayed on the later.
It was possibly the most pathetic creature he had ever encountered.
Dirt, bruise, and blood painted her mistreated and malnourished body without preference, the extent of the damage badly hidden by rags. Her hair was a tangle so filthy the exact color of it could not be identified. Her cheeks were sunken, sticking to the bone like a wet cloth and her eyes, too big for its face, were sick with the same animal frenzy that seemed to guide all of its movements.
The boy did not feel pity for it, nor discovered a hidden compassion. Only curiosity made him pause. Its scent was unlike any he encountered before. Filthy enough for a Ningen, with the spice of youki in between. He finally understood when he saw the canine ears retreat on its very human head.
Instinct made him scrunch his nose in disgust. Sesshomaru had grown up with the knowledge that half-breeds were a tabu, an abomination which shouldn't exist. However, seeing the pitiful creature he could not force himself to finish it. To end an existence so miserable, so barren was beneath him. The Oni, on the other hand, was another thing. It was a fitting tribute for the traditional hunting before the war, an honor bestowed to him. It was unheard of, to assign one without battle experience, even one young as he, a task so relevant for the West Han. It was said that a favorable loot precedes the spoils of victory. A primitive creature like a common Oni was not a great sign but it will suffice. Sesshomaru had already wasted enough time searching for better in this fruitless forest. Time was scarce.
A sharp exhale of youki later and his prey was assured.
As elegant as lethal, a bright green whip surged from Sesshomaru's claws, going throw the Oni and cutting him immediately. In a gentle curve, the whip disappeared a moment later as if it never was, the discarded corpse of the Oni the only proof of its existence.
The little hanyou trembled wildly after seeing what was thought as an unavoidable doom end without effort. Tempted and curious, Sesshomaru neared the unusual creature. Its dilated eyes followed his movements with absolute terror. He examined the hybrid for a long while. It didn't move a muscle, probably paralyzed with fear. In a pensive state, Sesshomaru bent lightly his head before the sad picture the pathetic creature presented.
Spontaneously, he took a decision.
"Come" His voice did not allow disobedience. Sesshomaru did not wait before walking through the forest, secure in the authority of his orders. The hanyou, surprised and fearful, did not disappoint. Even then, the noticeable limp and the quiet whimpers of pain were annoying. Sesshomaru caught absentmindedly the oni's ugly head by one of its twisted horns as he thought of how best present his spoils to his father, the great Inu Taisho. The Oni was expected but the half-breed, well.
They were not that common.
Maybe it could be a good pet. Sesshomaru's tendency for the unusual was well-known, if the lack of a scandal after choosing a two-headed dragon for a mount was anything to go with, and there were very few things strangers than a live hanyou.
Furthermore, he had saved its life which made him responsible for it as Haha-ue instructed. Sesshomaru, despite his many responsibilities as heir of two Daiyoukai, has never had anything to care for before. It seemed tedious, certainly, but unavoidable. Nonetheless, Sesshomaru couldn't possibly present such unsightly pest next to his mediocre loot. He eyed the half-breed- it was young, six human years approximately, helpless but not necessarily dependent. He contained his reaction at the idea of bathing it.
Or feeding it after.
(He refused the grooming. It would simply not do, one such as he, grooming a low-life half-breed)
It was unavoidable either way.
Sesshomaru turned right facing the mountainside. He scented thermal waters in his way through the forest in that direction, finding them would be easy. The hanyou keep a clumsy walk behind him, its limp was hindering its pace. At his current speed, he would lose the little creature in little time. He subtly bit his cheek. On one claw, he could pick up the half-breed himself which, although unpleasant, was the most efficient option. The sun was low at the moment and he should arrive at camp before night fell at its latest. On the other, the task was certainly unpleasant. The hanyou reeked of blood, filth, and sickness- probably even infection. It was filthy, and Sesshomaru did not fancy soiling his robe. The half-breed was already proving to be more trouble than any worth it could amount to. Nonetheless, abandoning it would be dishonorable.
('You must always be aware of consequences', the melodious voice of her mother, rumbles in her chest, claws sliding softly through his mane, attentive, listening ears. Always, for her. 'At a distance, all seems simple. Kill and be prepared for vengeance. Help and collect your debts. Conquer and savor the spoils.' A sharp, poisonous claw, safe and tinkling through his head to the point of his nose 'Think, before acting. In fear, find valor. In misery, shrewdness.' Warm gold against guarded one, cooled by age and experience. 'However' the barest hint of mirth hidden in marble 'living is far more complicated, little Ouji, and you must never forget your honor' Wisdom strictly secured, buried under an unquiet tail in Memory's garden 'It may be the difference between princes and beasts' Purring surrounded by familiar youki. Familiar and yet, foreign.
Sesshomaru was the Inu no Ouji and far be from him to forget his own honor.
The hanyou was his.
Picking it up should not have met resistance and yet, there it was, reeking of terror and skeptical. Its eyes did not stray from his own. Sesshomaru supposed it was somewhat commendable, the way the half-breed stood its ground. There were demon and human alike with a higher station that humiliated themselves in the face of the heir of the Inu no Taisho.
Yet, there it was this abomination, as afraid as he ever scented and no peep or plea escaping its mouth. Its eyes, a royal purple he had never seen before in a living creature, just in the tints of the nobles, and even then the color was even brighter, were blown out, obviously overcome with fear. In spite of it, unyielding.
Sesshomaru put his arm around scrawny and trembling thighs. A small part of him was horrified. There was no meat in her- because it was a she, Sesshomaru was close enough to smell it under all that grime- only tiny bones and stretched skin, sunken and drawing their shapes. Every vertebra, every rib, was visible. The major part, though, was only irritated. Not only he had entered a fool's quest, saving such an unhealthy hanyou, but the creature in question was resisting his hold. It was a weak effort, erratic and barely felt. An annoying insect.
Sesshomaru despised all pests
"Desist" He ordered in the same authoritative tone he used earlier "I will not hurt you" Maybe pity was what made him promise, maybe impatience. He did not like being misunderstood, as common as it may be "Stop" He repeated, gold against royal purple. She submitted to him, even if her eyes never lowered from his.
It was barely minutes after that before they arrived at their destination. He had been careful with her, aware of her injuries and pain. His kimono was surely soiled by that point. He lowered his new pet and eyed it shrewdly.
"Take off your clothes and bathe"
The hanyou obeyed mechanically. Sesshomaru had to hold a breath to avoid an outburst at seeing her bare. She must have sensed his horror either way because shame lowered her persistent eyes. She stepped on the water and clumsily tried to clean herself.
Sesshomaru could not ascertain what moved him, but seconds after he was at her side, helping clean filth and infection from wound after wound with gentle claws. Every patch of skin revealed was marked. His new pet was black and blue.
Old wounds and new badly healed, most of them infected decorating her body without any sort of preference. On her entire back, the worst of the bruises. Hundred of spots painted violent black softening in violet and blue, with sickened green and yellow in patches. Some hits were bloodied. His frail new pet had survived a stoning, it would seem. Her ankles and wrist had trinkets made out of lacerations, made by rope- another end she somehow managed to escape. Scratches in stomach and tights, as if she were dragged by the floor. Again, neither whine or plea left her
Sesshomaru has seen dead less marked than his little abomination.
(A survivor. Maybe his honor had not led him astray)
Her hair was eyed once and decided a lost cause immediately. It was a nest, full of dirt and little sticks and only the Kamis knew how many tangles.
Regardless, minutes after, Sesshomaru found himself grooming the hanyou. It was probably just instinct, after seeing her so battered. She was, after all, to become part of his pack- pet or not. It was relaxing, even, after he cut off the worst of it. The hair was rougher and frail, sick and dirty, but Sesshomaru was not made for soft things. He ran his hand through her hair afterward.
It was his first time grooming someone else.
Her hair, once discovered, was a nice color. A dark brown, almost black that turned a little red under the sun. Her ears, even darker than her mane and pointed in the manner of foxes, were another thing. They were mistreated- infected, twisted and with little wounds. Her tail, fluffy and with the white turf characteristic of high born kitsunes.
That could be a problem. Foxes and Dogs did not mix.
He could feel his hanyou eyes on his person, probably wondering why he stopped if the purring was of significance. Yet, it could also be her lack of trust in her savior. Weren't Sesshomaru so uncaring of her opinion, he would have been offended of such suspicion after a deed like his. He materialized his Mokomoko instead, picking his hanyou out of the water and using it to dry her.
And to scent her. It would not do to lay waste to all his efforts just because of some overzealous fool back at camp who thought he could kill his property. The scent was the easiest and most practical way to make sure she remained untouched.
She remained naked over his pelt, curious hands seizing the fur in weak fists. Sesshomaru cleaned himself of the dirt transferred by the dirty hanyou before joining her. He examined his new pet closely.
It was young, too thin to be healthy and it smelled wrong in a way only a half-breed could do. But her skin, so dark the light was reflected upon it, was clean and her hair, wet and badly cut, shined. Her eyes were a spot of color in her, intense and impossible to overlook. Fear was slowly leaving them, the inquiring nature of foxes overpowering any caution. Sesshomaru supposed that, in due time, his hanyou would not be unpleasant to look at, at least. Not with eyes that bright.
"Stay" He ordered before disappearing into the forest. Once the grooming was done, food was next. Sesshomaru, as expected, excelled at the care and feeding of his pack- not that the hanyou was pack. Merely a whim, maybe even a ward.
This Sesshomaru did not need a Pack to thrive, unlike most Inu-youkai.
(But his new pet was awfully young and vulnerable and not even He was immune to instinct)
He came back with the carcass of a deer and some wood- the young need to cook their food, their little stomach too weak for raw meat. His pet was just where he left her, trying to stand at seeing him. So she already respected him as her noble Lord- good. She fell, her ankle twisting immediately after putting weight on it
"Lay down" It would not do to have a damaged pet. Scrapes and bruises, she'll heal alone. Broken or twisted ankles- they must be attended correctly. She obeyed, curious and cautious. She had a very expressive face, once it was free of dirt. "Do not move" He commanded taking her leg in his claws. Her ankle was dislocated, not broken. He absent-mindedly repositioned it in its correct position, ignoring the hurt whimper that escaped her. He secured the extremity with cloth improvised from his own robes- an honor a creature such as this did not deserve. The half-breed still looked horribly betrayed, which was ridiculous.
Sesshomaru ignored it, along with his irritation for it and proceed to cut the meat in pieces small enough for consumption. He prepared the food in an efficient manner, ignoring the confused calls of the pup. It was whimpering. Once the smell of the meat was prominent, the whispers stopped. Her gaze was hungry but reluctant.
She obeyed it eagerly.
Maybe a bit too eager, she burnt her tongue in her haste. He supposed it could be considered funny, the way she so clearly debated between hunger and pain. An amusing abomination, his new pet was.
"What is your name?" He asked, pleasant and uncharacteristic. Sesshomaru was often bored by questions, only wanting answers and lacking the patient need for Haha-ue courtly ways. Nonetheless, he asked.
The half-breed did not answer. It stopped eating, looking at him with eyes too large for its sunken face. "Hanyou" He warned, narrowing his eyes. He knew the picture he made, yet, it remained silent. "Do not deny me"
A warped sound escaped its throat, ugly and inarticulate.
"You cannot talk" He realized. She shook her head fervently
"N..No" She said with a clear effort, as if unaccustomed to speech. Sesshomaru waited "No..na, name"
"You must be called something" To be so old and yet unnamed was unthinkable
"Dirty hanyou" She suddenly spoke with fervor, her pronunciation much clearer "Fuck off" A brow raised at the crude words. He should have not expected better "Die, unholy creature"
She was repeating what was most familiar for her. What a pitiful existence she must have dealt.
"Fitting but not what I asked for." He said, as cold and indifferent as ever. It was not like he should feel anything for the sad past of a new pet- how foolish would that be, to mark as significant matters of little relevance as them. "I shall name you then"
A hasty decision but not one he would take back. To name something is to own it and the half-breed was his, either way. What better way to lay claim of it?
Nevertheless, a kitsune, even a hanyou, was not an uncomplicated creature. They were treacherous by nature, born liars and well-versed in the art of deception. Even their magic was fake, illusions. Not even fox-fire was honest. In his life, Sesshomaru only met two kitsunes and both were despicable creatures. The first was a cunning woman who tried to seduce her way in Haha-ue's Court. She was found out, but by then, the damage was done. Chaos and dispute reigned along with his mother, and Sesshomaru never forgave this offense. The second, the deceitful bastard, posed as his kendo instructor for almost a year, biding his time for terminating the Heir fo the West- and he would have managed, were it not for the shadow of his tails.
No, a fox, even half of one, will always be an honorless creature.
"Makoto" He decided. That lack was not one he will allow in his, no matter the station. Honesty, he called her. "You will honor your new name, hanyou" He ordered, narrow eyes and the barest hint of teeth. Her wide eyes, baffled and unbelieving, were full of wonder.
"For now on, you belong to me" He informed her, not expecting a response. But Makoto smiled, mouth full and dimples exposed as if he was the best thing in the world.
Sesshomaru looked at the setting sun with a grimace. He was late.