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The Devil's Backbone

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The Devil's Backbone by The Civil Wars.

/~\

Kagome coughed harshly, her breath clearly visible in the low temperature of her prison, swallowing her sobs and firmly squaring her shoulders as best she could considering her restricted movement. The action caused the shredded remains of her clothes to flutter allowing a breeze of cold air to pass through, taking a bit more heat from her. She shivered, clenching her jaw to keep her teeth from chattering and her shoulders hunched in an effort to preserve as much warmth as she could. She winced as she inadvertently pulled at her restraints. Her wrists were raw from the rope tightly binding them and she could clearly hear the occasional drip of blood on the stone floor. Raising her head, she breathed quietly at she gazed up at the stone ceiling, closing her eyes briefly in the darkness to imagine a crescent moon shining in the heavens.


Oh Lord, oh Lord, what have I done?

I've fallen in love with a man on the run.


Another wave of emotions threatened to dislodge the tears clinging to her lashes as she again clenched her jaw. A wet cough escaped her sore throat and she whimpered in pain, leaning over her knees in an effort to ease the pain in her head. She had tried so hard. She did everything she could to get away and here she was, locked away in some freezing cold room God-knows-where, bleeding, her ribs bruised and thoroughly bound with no way out. But she couldn't keep back her tears. She was so stupid. Since when did she care for what others thought? She should have left it alone. She should have taken him by the hand and run, run from her mother's disappointed looks, run from the sickly twisted smiles that Priest wore so unconvincingly. Run from it all.


Oh Lord, oh Lord, I'm begging You please, don't take that sinner from me.

Oh, don't take that sinner from me.


All she could think about was pale, silver hair glinting in the moonlight. The stiffness of his face was gone, peaceful in sleep. His limbs stretched languidly about him and her heart ached as she thought about him, about them. Thought about innocent smiles and laughing eyes. Thought about what could have been. What should have been. She was such an idiot. She was going to die here. And no one would ever know.

All because she suddenly developed a need to show her mother that she was free to live her life as she liked, without unwelcomed interference from a botched father-figure who was now torturing her in an effort to 'save her soul'. It was too late for her soul, it had been probably the second she looked at him and warmth infused her chest and a smile had spread across her face unconsciously.

She fallen so hard, literally and figuratively for that man and she couldn't find the energy to care because she adored the way he looked at her and the way he relaxed in her presence. That stupid, arrogant, infuriatingly smug smirk that quirked his lips would never fail to produce in a blush or a spark of anger, sometimes both.


Oh Lord, oh Lord, what do I do?

I've fallen for someone who's nothing like You.


The first night she had met him, the weather was cold as rain fell from dark clouds. It was evening, the sun just slipping beneath the mountains as she hurried home, clutching her umbrella with stiff fingers. She had stumbled across him standing in the middle of the street, his face carved from stone and as very beautiful as the scene was, she wondered why his head was tilted back, allowing the rain to cascade down his form. The first thing she noticed was long silver hair. And she had gasped softly at the mass fluttering in the wind as it caught the last rays of sunlight. The second that quiet sound has escaped her lips, his gaze swung immediately to hers and eyes so cold, cold, cold, dripping with molten gold burning so brightly against the backdrop of the sun. He was drenched, obviously he had been standing there for a while, his breath misting clearly through the rain. A pure, white kimono hung on his fine sculpted body, which the rain had plastered against his body and there was what she assumed was a wooden sword tucked neatly into his yellow sash.

He was unearthly. Set apart from the rest of the world, as if it was afraid to touch him. He had to be a demon, or an angel. Perhaps a descendant of one?

Like an innocent, naïve, little fool, she offered him use of her home, ignoring every prick of ice against her spine, ignoring that little voice in the back of her head screaming danger, she ignored all of this. It wasn't his cold and terrible beauty, the smooth muscles clearly visible under see-through white, neither was it his strange tattoos of crescent moons and stripes that prompted her to extent this kindness. It was his eyes. She couldn't look away from those awe-inspiring, gorgeous gold eyes that were so clear and bright, those eyes that seemed to look into a person's very soul.


He's raised on the edge of the devil's backbone, oh I just want to take him home.

Oh, I just want to take him home.


He accepted. In a sinful voice laden with promise and winter and power, he unhesitatingly agreed with only a single raised eyebrow. Her house was only just around the corner and she was glad because her very bones lost their warmth and it felt as if a weight had settled firmly on her shoulders. Upon entering her simple home and chucking her coat and wet umbrella, she went to look for her younger brother's clothes she was sure he had left several months ago. She brushed her fingers against the traditional bow that hung on her wall, a gift from her grandfather in honor of her heritage, and they trailed to the small wooden cross which hung next to it. She did not notice her stranger's eyes as they followed their movements, nor did she see the slight widening of his eyes.

When she returned, the man had not moved an inch, he was still dripping on her floor and staring at her with that unreadable expression. Shoving away that feeling that would not go away and that chill that threatened to shake her body, she once again ignored the prickling sensation on the nape of her neck. Smiling brightly, she held out a neatly folded yukata dyed in several shades of blue and silver.

"These are my brother's. You're a bit taller than him, but his kimono should fit you to some degree," Kagome said as a pale hand decorated with purple stripes reached out and carefully took the clothing from her.

"Thank you," he said lowly, his deep voice sending shivers down her spine.

Quickly turning away to hide the blush determined to color her face, Kagome stepped away, towards the kitchen, asking over her shoulder.

"Would you like some tea?"

A small beat of silence passed before the man spoke again.

"This one would be appreciative."

Kagome cursed herself in her mind at the undertone of amusement in his voice as if he knew exactly the effect it was having on her.


He is leaving just as soon as he's finished his tea! She viciously swore to herself as she resisted the urge to stomp to the kitchen.

He's raised on the edge of the devil's backbone, oh I just want to take him home.

Oh I just want to take him home.


When Kagome went out shopping the very next day, she had already decided to forget about her mysterious stranger since she would never see him again. She was not disappointed at this fact. Nor was she hoping to see her stranger again. She didn't care if Souta's kimono now smelt of evergreens and she was somewhat reluctant to wash it. And she really didn't care that she her first though this morning had been of him, and she was not hoping to see her stranger again.

And that was that.

That was all there would ever be.

Some day in the distant future, she would wonder if the next events only happened because God really loved her or really hated her.

Especially when a small body slammed somewhat violently against her and her boots slipped on the wet asphalt and the world tilted. But Kagome had priorities and children were on there somewhere. So she wrapped her arms around the little girl who bumped into her protectively as they tumbled to the ground. Kagome winced in pain as an elbow found its way to her stomach. A high-pitched yelp and several voices calling out in alarm were seconds late as she hit the road. To her horror, she landed right in a small puddle and her coat was all too happy to channel their inner sponge. She could have sworn it was 'waterproof'. Mentally sobbing at the stains she knew were now decorating her once clean coat and maybe even her jeans, she peered down at the girl in her arms, inwardly raising an eyebrow at the traditional winter-style kimono in a bright orange.

"Are you okay?"

Soft, brown eyes, rimmed in tears gazed into hers and a slightly trembling, toothy smile lit up the girl's face.

"Rin is okay!"

The pounding of hurried footsteps and two more faces popped into Kagome's view. One was almost familiar in the resemblance to a friend of hers, but with a distinctively masculine look and he was carrying a smaller boy on his back, one with bright silver hair and shiny gold eyes. Her mental crying increased as she desperately wondered why God hated her. This was just a coincidence. This was just a random, unconnected, coincidental happening. Lots of people had silver hair and golden eyes. Lots of people.

"Kohaku!"

Sighing internally, Kagome grabbed hold of the girl and lifted her up to the teenager who was, thankfully, wearing normal jeans and a thick sweater with an equally thick scarf. Those were jeans, no matter how strange the material looked. And was that a toddler riding on his back?

"Here, take her while I get up, okay?"

Quickly reaching for Rin, Kohaku swung her around to gently set her down on dry land as Kagome stumbled awkwardly to her feet. Shivering at the blast of frigid wind that decided to now blow against her wet clothing, she took a step forward, only for her foot to hit a patch of ice and down she went again. Except a firm hand clamped around her arm and the world tilted as her sight was filled with silver. A tiny scream slipped from her lips as she collided with a solid expanse of warmth in arrayed black.

"This one was not expecting to see you so soon," a deliciously smooth voice hummed above her head.

Jerking her head up she found her mysterious stranger staring down at her, his lips curled into an amused smir- wait, he was smirking at her?! The twitch of her eye was automatic and involuntary. Kagome smiled sweetly, pouring every ounce of sparkles she had into it.

"Yes, neither was I, imagine that," she said, desperately hoping she had managed to produce a flowered backdrop.

"Even less was I expecting you to fall into my arms," he added as an afterthought.

Wordlessly sputtering inside, as her sparkles faded and her flowers wilted, Kagome attempted to relocate but after several seconds of futile tugging, she threw politeness out of the window and glared at that arrogant male. It didn't matter that he was her anchor to the Earth at the moment, there was still that screaming of- Danger, Higurashi Kagome, Danger! - in the back of her head and she usually listened to that little voice.

"Would you let go of me now?"

A regal inclination of his head and suddenly she found herself being carried (as in one arm securely around her back and the other wrapped under her knees) and gently set down on a covered bench. The girl that had barreled into her seized her hands, looking apologetic and mournful as her eyes widened and glimmered with unshed tears.

"Rin is sorry! Is nee-san okay?"

"I'm sorry, miss, it's my fault for letting her out of my sight!"

The teenager whose facial features were remarkably like her best friend with that puffy hair and chocolate eyes, couple with the smattering of freckles across his face, was sitting next to her. The toddler hanging off Kohaku's shoulders was staring at her with curious golden eyes that peeked out from thick white hair and studied her with too much intensity to belong to a mere child. All three children were looking at her in concern. While idly wondering if these were his children, she waved her hands, hurriedly assured them of her health.

"I'm fine! It's just my clothes that suffered and I live just a couple streets away from here!"

Craning her head to look at her coat, she suppressed a moan at the dark brown stains that now covered the entire left side and the speckles that dotted both her front and back. Thankfully, it appeared her jean had escaped unharmed. The wetness was starting to seep through the fabric though and Kagome hurriedly took it off, ignoring the momentary pain in her shoulder. The fall had jarred her head and a dull ache was building up behind her eyes and she suspected she scraped some skin off her back, but otherwise she was fine.

"Rin is sorry," the girl whispered in shame as the older woman folded her dirtied coat in her lap.

"It's okay," Kagome assured her as she ignored the goose bumps that rose on her exposed flesh, "I'm just glad you're not hurt! You should take care when you walk in this weather, Rin-chan, alright?"

Before either could say anymore, there was a rustling of fabric and a heavy coat was draped over Kagome's shoulders. It dwarfed her petite body and smelled strongly of evergreens. It was obviously expensive, a thick weave, black, military style. And there was only one person it could have belonged to. Looking up into her mysterious stranger's face, she silently asked a question. He only shrugged draping a thick grey scarf over his white dress shirt as his mouth curved into another smirk.

"You need it more than I," he said noncommittally, portraying an image of utter boredom at the chilling wind that blew fiercely against him.

Kagome inwardly screamed at the unfairness of life as she wordlessly surrendered to the demon who would no doubt be invited once again to her house. Especially with the way Rin was looking at her. Those puppy eyes should be illegal. Not to mention those good looks of her apparent father. Seriously, there should be some kind of law against people who look like that.


Oh Lord, oh Lord he's somewhere between a hangman's knot and three mouths to feed.


"Kagome-nee-san!"

Swinging around from the shelves of food she was browsing from at the sound of her name, Kagome's eyes widened at the sight of Rin, energetically waving at her, her adoptive father nowhere in sight. Bending down and spreading her arms open, she braced herself as Rin came hurdling into them.

"Rin found you!"

The girl laughed in delight, vibrating with energy. Kagome smiled widely at her.

"I didn't know I was lost," she said in amusement.

A devilish grin curled up the child's lips, a version of her father's extremely familiar smirk.

"Rin was looking for Kagome-nee-san since Papa was busy and Kohaku was playing with Inuyasha," she said in a whisper, as if divulging a great secret, "Rin hasn't seen Kagome-nee-san since the park last week!"

Valiantly resisting the urge to sigh heavily, Kagome straightened, holding out her hand.

"I saw you the week before that when I invited you and your brothers over for dinner. I also ate lunch with you at the coffee shop the day before that."

Rin's eyes turned pleading, begging for understanding that she missed her nee-san so very much.

Kagome held out an impressive five seconds before she succumbed.

"Alright, come on then, we'll wait for your Papa at my house."

A blinding smile topped with flowers and sparkles removed any trace of her previous look and Kagome inwardly sighed. Illegal. Honestly, there had to be some kind of law against this. This was some kind of abuse of power.

Rin was happily chattering about her day at school and the funny things Inuyasha did. She spoke of Kohaku, how he was training for some kind of karate tournament and how her beloved Papa would be so glad to see her because he was really busy at work. And now he was coming home later and later for the last four days. A spark of worry and concern was born as she listened to Rin speak of the stress her mysterious not-really-a-stranger-anymore was going through. She hoped it was nothing serious. Then again, she didn't really know what work he was involved in.


There wasn't a wrong or a right he could choose, he did what he had to do.

Oh, he did what he had to do.


The last thing Kagome was expecting when she tucked Rin in her bed, at her home since she did not have a phone number nor an address to call or deliver her to, was Rin's Papa stumbling into her living room (how did he get through the locked front door?). To her horror, his clothes were heavily stained with what could only be blood, both dried and fresh, while a real sword resting in his hand. The second to last thing she was expecting was the way his eyes were virtually glowing a vivid red and were those claws …? And what on Earth was this feeling that was suffocating her? This feeling of death...

Nonetheless, Kagome had priorities and this man was one. She grabbed his arm (the one sword-free) and half pulled half shoved him into the room, snatching up the first aid kit while sending the tall man a fierce glare clearly saying sit down now. Flicking the light on and rushing to the hamper for towels, she dumped them at his feet and ran back into the kitchen for a bowl of warm water. When she returned, a single look was enough for him to carefully take off his ruined white shirt allowing her a look at his injuries. Crouching down on the wooden floor, Kagome was hoping the blood wouldn't be hard to clean off as she dipped a towel in water and began to gently wipe at the large scabs that had already formed against pale skin.

"Are you planning to tell me everything or were you just desperate and hoped that I wouldn't question an illegal sword and how the blood magically appeared on your person?"

Her voice was dry and sarcastic and she pressed slightly harder than strictly necessary on his wounds drawing a hiss of pain from the infuriating man sitting in front of her.

"That depends."

"On what?" She snapped angrily, only briefly glancing- glaring- at him through her lashes.

"If you are willing to listen to this one's story," he said almost emotionlessly in a quiet voice, his eyes staring down at her.

"I obviously have nothing else to do while I fix you, now do I?"

There was a long hesitation before the man continued in a monotone, his gaze avoid her own.

"My father… was a very powerful man who started a group of individuals who wanted to change this city into a peaceful place for the sake of the people. Eventually, this group turned into something very different than what he originally imagined, but it was necessary in his mind and he strengthen it into a powerful force. The name is still undecided so anyone who is aware of its existence simply calls it the West.

"My father held no ties to anyone, not even my mother. Their marriage was a political arrangement and he was satisfied with an heir as I was. But this changed when he met a young woman who was very different from himself, yet he fell in love with her. Their affair lead to a pregnancy and this pregnancy lead to a dispute between him and several members of this group. When the time came for the child to be born, there was an attack by a man who was an abomination to nature. My father was killed in the ensuing chaos, but his lover and their child escaped."

He was silent a moment, the only sound being that of the bandages Kagome was currently wrapping around his torso. The woman sighed heavily, idly wondering what an abomination to nature was, but she decided to ignore that for now. She also decided to ignore the skeletal details he was providing her with.

"Let me guess. This 'group' that you're mentioning is a yakuza organization, and Inuyasha is your half-brother. This explains the resemblance between the two of you. When your father died, there was chaos in the ranks and you were forced to take over to prevent people from hunting down Inuyasha and his mother," Kagome finished with a small grunt as she tied off the end of the bandages and raised her eyes meet clouded gold.

He looked away and that feeling that there was lots more to his story than what he was telling her flared up with a vengeance. Silly man.

"Izayoi died in the chaos. Rin was the daughter of a member who was protecting her at the time of her death. During another incident, Kohaku saved her life and I ended up taking all three in."


There wasn't a wrong or a right he could choose, he did what he had to do.

Oh, he did what he had to do.


Kagome smiled softly at him, added a razor sharp edge of reproach to her words.

"Are you expecting me to scream profanities at you for involving me in this mess? Or to stalk silently from your side in a betrayed anger?"

At the unguarded startled look that came to his face, a small laugh escaped her lips.

"In case you haven't noticed, I've know you for months now and your children love me and I, quite frankly, adore them. Inuyasha may be loud and slightly obnoxious, but he's only…what… five? He's adorable and I'm sure as he grows older he'll turn into a fine young man."

A hint of something flashed in his eyes, but it was gone so quickly Kagome was unsure what it was.

"He's older than he looks," he said simply.

Kagome shrugged, not concerned with Inuyasha's apparently older age.

"And Rin is an angel and Kohaku reminds me of a friend of mine which I need to introduce him to, so I really enjoy spending time with them. I'm not going to turn any of you away just because itmight put me in danger. Life is dangerous and I am not going to spend it cowering in fear because of uncertainties."

She said these words with determination and conviction and a moment later she was caught by surprise when a tiny twist of his mouth turned upwards in a smile but before she could move or even blink, a pair of warm lips covered her own. A sharp spark of something very much like electricity ran down her entire body and into her bones, down to her very soul and she slumped against a firm chest as hands slid across her skin and fingers into her hair.

Oh, she was going to regret this, but not right now…


Give me the burden, give me the blame. I'll shoulder the load and I'll swallow the shame.

Give me the burden, give me the blame.

How many, how many Hail Mary's is it gonna take?


"Kagome, if you tell your mother about this, you know she will disown you."

Afore mentioned woman swallowed heavily, dropping her head so that long black hair dropped over teary blue eyes, avoiding the sad gaze of the handsome man by her side.

"Miroku, you were a priest, but you found Sango and you married her and now you live happily. I'm just doing the same thing."

Despite the quiver in her voice, there was steel and determination.

"Yes, I know that," he sighed, dragging a hand across his face as he stared at one of his best friends and his wife's practical sister, "But people you've known for your entire life are going to judge you with harsh eyes without taking time to learn the truth or character of this man. You need to be prepared for that."

A hint of fire lit up tired eyes and Kagome glared viciously.

"I know very well my mother loves me, but her parents raised her in that strict environment and she didn't want that for me. I know very well there are some things she can't shake and that includes having the Head Priest act as a father to Souta and I. And that man dislikes my brother and I since we've kept Mama away from him."

Miroku's gaze turned hard.

"Yes, the elders are apparently blind to the errors he is so arrogantly teaching to his congregation. That's why I left, but you're leaving because your lover-"

"He's not my lover, he's just a little bit less," Kagome insisted a blush already rising.

"-is involved with illegal activities and has three children out of wedlock-"

"One is his younger half-brother and the other two he adopted," she pointed out as Miroku skillfully ignored her.

"-and let's not even mention his hair or his eyes-"

"They're natural," she deadpanned.

"-and those markings! They'll insist he's some sort of demon, which I am inclined to believe actually."

At the scary glare that eerily reminded him of his wife, Miroku stopped talking and cleared his throat, taking that opportunity to move his hand away from the nice curves of the young woman sitting next to him.

"Also, you know exactly what they're going to make you do. You're a member of that misguided place and now that you wish to leave, they'll make you wear a white gown and take you to the front and symbolically rip it and your mother will disown you in front of the entire congregation.

"They will humiliate you," he continued solemnly, "And everyone that you've grown up with, everyone who you care about and trust, they will abandon you and erase your existence from their lives. Are you prepared for that?"

Her spine stiffened. She raised her eyes, twin burning orbs that pinned Miroku in his seat.

"I am prepared."


Give me the burden, give me the blame. I'll shoulder the load and I'll swallow the shame.

Give me the burden, give me the blame.

How many, how many Hail Mary's is it gonna take?


She didn't tell him. She invited them over to her home, throwing pillows and blanket on the living room floor declaring it a sleepover and wrapping herself around the children, around her man. And waited for them to fall asleep. She was touched when she felt his hand sweep her hair out of her eyes with such gentleness and she totally relaxed against it, wondering why there was that ever-present burn in her veins whenever he touched her. She didn't care. This man was her everything now. His children were hers and she would do anything to keep them close, to keep them safe.

She was quietly surprised when he succumbed to sleep so easily but there was warmth in her heart as she studied his face. With silent reluctance, Kagome eased her way out of Rin's embrace, laying a letter on the kotastu for him to see, just in case of an unexpected happening. With determination burning in her heart, Kagome opened her front door and quietly slipped out.

When he first opened his eyes, he was immediately aware of Kagome's absence. A human who caught him on the one day where he just wanted to stop and watch the world move on without him, a human who invited him into her home and offered him tea. He felt the purity in the air of her domain and he knew there was power in her soul. She had swept in on that rainy day rather like the sun. Brightly shining and utterly addicting. In the end, he didn't resist. He knew in the instant she accepted him, even if she did not know he wasn't quite human, in the instant he kissed her, there was no way he was going back. He was absolutely claiming her, he was a need in his life and if he wasn't sure, he was by the second time he kissed her. It was like drinking sunshine.

He sat up, carefully moving Inuyasha off his shoulder, ignoring the pup's whimper of protest as he transferred him to Kohaku. Her absence was unsettling. He disliked it. The scent of sunshine and thunderstorms was still strong, but not fresh, as if she had been gone for at the least half an hour. His eyes swept around the room, unheeded by the lack of light and the letter was the first sign of something wrong. He was on his feet in a heartbeat, but before he could take a single step, the silence was shattered by the muted ringing of a phone.

Thankfully the noise did not wake Rin, but Kohaku, sensing something was wrong, stilled and shifted closer to Rin while pulling Inuyasha closer to his chest. The first ring had barely died before it was picked up and he refrained from speaking as the caller was already doing so.

"Kagome? Thank the Lord I caught you! Don't you dare meet with that priest! Somehow he found out about what your lover does and he's convinced he's a real demon and while I agree, he's planning to hold a ceremony to 'save your soul' which is code for 'torture until repentance' so don't you dare go! I don't care if this is for your lover's sake, or if you didn't want to let him know you just basically severed all ties with your previous life, that priest will hurt you!"

By the end of the unfamiliar male's rant, he could already feel power rising in his form and he knew his finger nails were lengthening into claws and his eyes were shining brightly in the darkness. A wind stirred his long hair so it fluttered about his form and Kohaku abandoned all pretense of sleep as he reached for his overnight bag, pulling out his weapon, a small scythe on a chain. His guardian's voice was unrelenting and authoritive, a demand for compliance.

"Where has she gone?"

There was a second of utter silence.

"You are a demon."

The caller's tone changed from relieved and urgent to hard, cold and with a string of power behind it, a silent question that he understood.

"I am inuyoukai," he answered the human without hesitation.

There was a muffled curse before the distinct sound of papers and beads, a jingle of metal and a swish of fabric. It was not hard to guess the other's actions.

"If you are who I think you are, then you will be able to get past the wards that lunatic has gathered over the years, but it will alert him and Kagome will be harmed. So to avoid that, I'm going to meet you at the Cathedral-like building near the park on the north side of the city. I'll be with a demon slayer who is going to be the maid of honor at Kagome's wedding so let us survive long enough to get there, right?"

There was a click that signaled the man at the end had hung up but the inuyoukai was already out the door, leaving precise instructions for Kohaku to protect Rin and Inuyasha should anyone come for them.


Don't care if he's guilty, don't care if he's not.

He's good and he's bad and he's all that I've got.


"He's a beast! A spawn of Satan! A blot upon the beauty and perfection of this Earth!"

The sound of flesh striking flesh echoed inside the room, bouncing off the stone walls as Kagome's head was snapped harshly to one side. The sudden movement agitated her ribs and she coughed, spitting blood from her mouth. The man standing over her continued to rant, hand still raised in the position to strike once more. He was stick-thin and reeked of sweat, his breath wheezing through congested airways as he prattled on with his monologue, barely noticing Kagome's loose grip on consciousness as he waved a strand of blessed beads smeared with her blood.

"He is using a human form, but I would recognize those features anywhere! He is a descendant of that warmonger, that vicious dog, the Inu no Taisho, the one who ruled over the west before the priests were gathered and his unholy reign put to an end!"

A high-pitched, crackling laugh border-lining on insanity filled the room as the priest laughed.

"We ended the life of his whore, but we were unable to kill the evil seed which was planted in her womb! We searched, but the Demon Slayers refused to do their duty, their sacred mission! They had been corrupted! We banded together and cleansed their souls, but some got away, got away, away, away!"


Give me the burden, give me the blame. I'll shoulder the load and I'll swallow the shame.

Give me the burden, give me the blame.

How many, how many Hail Mary's is it gonna take?

Don't care if he's guilty, don't care if he's not.

He's good and he's bad and he's all that I've got.


When Miroku glimpsed Kagome's demon, he fought the instinctive urge to flinch, to hide, to run away and pray that this one would never come looking for him because he was exactly who he thought he would be. But Kagome was in danger. So without hesitation, he squared his shoulders and nodded at his wife to go ahead. They took off at a run, the demon falling in behind them.

"While now is not the time for introductions," Miroku said, trying for a light tone, although it didn't matter because he knew the youkai could smell the worry permeating his scent, "I would prefer you would call us Miroku and Sango instead of 'human' or 'you'."

The demon did not reply, only slanting them a courtesy look with cold, cold eyes.

Miroku took that as a good sign. Reaching into his robes, he pulled out three white strips of paper heavily inked with symbols and tossed one to Sango, who quickly stuck it to her outfit, which the demon recognized as a Demon Slayer's extermination suit, much to his interest. Also a bow and arrow coupled with that heavy boomerang she was carrying with ease was familiar. He caught the one the priest threw at him, only raising an eyebrow in question.

"That will get you through the wards without setting ripples off," he explained, his face hardening, "Sango and I have been working at this for weeks now, in an attempt to find her brother since we suspect this particular priest was involved in the destruction of the Slayers and perhaps in the Red Night in which your father was killed."

"Miroku!"

Two heads snapped around at the woman's call. She was standing at the cathedral's front doors, but her gaze was aimed at another, smaller building hidden neatly by a small forest.

"There are several barriers around that building that extent several feet downwards. Kagome should be there."

In the time it took for Miroku to take a single step, the demon was already there, hand outstretched and already opening the heavy-looking doors. In a flash of silver, the inuyoukai disappeared from the sight of Miroku and Sango, who quickly exchanged alarmed looks as they followed as fast as humanly possible.


Give me the burden, give me the blame. I'll shoulder the load and I'll swallow the shame.

Give me the burden, give me the blame.

How many, how many Hail Mary's is it gonna take?


When Kagome opened her eyes and saw an avenging angel- or demon- she almost couldn't believe the sight before her. When she saw a sickly green light flash once, twice, three times and the Head Priest of the Gathering of the Blessed Ones literally fall to pieces before her gaze, she was convinced reality had slipped from her grasp. When the avenging angel- or demon- was suddenly next to her, she was through and through, absolutely positive that this was not real.

And then…

A hand cupped her bruised cheek with tenderness and supported her aching neck as a pleasing aroma of lightening, evergreens and power drifted to her nose. It was familiar, it was safe. And quite suddenly the ropes around her wrists were gone and she was no longer sitting on that cold stone chair, rather cradled against something warm and so soft. Tears began to run freely down her bloody skin and split lips and in the background she saw familiar purple robes as a traditional monk would wear and the vaguely familiar body suit of her best friend that she remembered her wearing for Halloween last year. Miroku and Sango and...

A smile stretched her abused mouth as she choked out a single word.

"Sesshomaru."


Don't care if he's guilty, don't care if he's not.

He's good and he's bad and he's all that I've got.


The things that happened in the next several minutes remained unfocused and blurry for many months after, but Sesshomaru suddenly whirled around, shoving his Kagome into the slayer woman's arms as his sword leapt into his hand and there was suddenly someone else and the sword rang as another struck it.

"Why, Sesshomaru, what a pleasant surprise," a velvet voice purred from the darkness as the air vibrated with youki.

"Get her out of here," Sesshomaru spoke in a soft tone, although there was killer intent layered in every word.

Miroku instantly spun on his heel and headed for the door, only for it to slam shut with brutal force.

"Now, now, why do you wish to leave when all the fun is just starting?"

A smile twisted Miroku's face.

"Well, Naraku, when faced with your disgusting presence, I suddenly have a need to drown myself in an attempt to wash your filth from my body. Unfortunately, this usually happens whenever I even think about an abomination such as you, so it's instinctive," the priest said, spiking his words with a pulse of power as Naraku snarled in their direction at the prickling of his skin.

An instant of distraction and Sesshomaru took full advantage of it and with one slash, violently pushed the demon back and through the stone walls. He turned, no doubt to open the door which they had entered by, but the slayer woman had already tore it down via boomerang, to Sesshomaru's approval. She stopped, however, to meet his eyes.

"Kagome is precious to me and I have already lost my family and my brother to that scum," she paused before a menacing smile curved her lips, "I'll give you my blessing to mate Kagome if you manage to kill that abomination."

Not bothering to see how the youkai responded to her words, she took Kagome's limp body back from Miroku and sprinted down the hall to the stairs. The priest gave him a lecherous grin and a knowing look before his survival instincts kicked in and he dashed back to the safety of away from Sesshomaru. Turning back around, Sesshomaru had the privilege to see Naraku coughing harshly as he dug himself out of the rubble and he shot forward, bringing his sword down as he aimed for the abomination's head.


Oh Lord, oh Lord, I'm begging You please, don't take that sinner from me.

Oh, don't take that sinner from me.


Kagome came to at the heaviness that suddenly cut off the cold air she had been subject to for the past hour. Opening blue, blue eyes, she stared into worried brown she recognized as Sango's and smiled before she hissed in pain.

"Kagome, what hurts the worst?"

Holding back a whimper, she bit out a word.

"Ribs."

Sango nodded and pulled out a roll of bandages.

"Kagome, I need you to listen to me, okay?

"M'kay."

"Your lover-"

"Not my lover," she grunted out.

"- is a youkai who so happens to be nobility, Lord of the West in fact, and right now, we're outside the building you were in and there are more youkai who are coming in an attempt to take Sesshomaru down, which would lead to their ascension of the throne. I know it hurts, but I need you to get anything that gets past Miroku and I, okay?"

Kagome stared at the serious face of her best friend before leaning to the side to see Miroku whacking flying lumps of flesh with eyeballs and tentacles with paper and his staff. Which, she was sure, he had also worn for Halloween last year. And coincidently several years before that too, come to think of it…

Leaning back to stare at Sango who silently handed her a bow and arrow that look scarily similar to the one hanging off her wall at home, Kagome nodded, well beyond the point of caring about the impossible and curled her fingers around smooth wood as a tremor wracked the Earth.


Oh Lord, oh Lord, I'm begging You please, don't take that sinner from me.

Oh, don't take that sinner from me.


Sesshomaru outclassed Naraku by miles and with no hostage, no distractions, just a one-on-one fight he had no trouble with taking his time to make him suffer. A lazy swing and clothes tore and blood splattered onto stone. This action was repeated many times until the abomination was left in a heap among the stones in a pool of his own blood and organs as he gasped desperately for air. Sesshomaru stared dispassionately at the scum beneath him as a question in the back of his mind was answered. His suspicion was correct, the reason why his father had died was because of the underhanded movements and the betrayal of several humans due to Naraku's influence. His father was the strongest youkai, only surpassed by his own self.

With a flick of his sword, ridding the blade of the tainted blood, Sesshomaru turned on his heel and elegantly ascended the stair to the surface. The sight the met his eyes was truly a pleasant one. One that sent tingles of anticipation down his spine.

His Kagome, his beautiful Kagome was standing tall despite her injuries, wielding a bow nearly as tall as herself and launching arrows of dazzling pink towards a small group of low level youkai and a boomerang sliced through another. From the dress of the woman, he knew he had found Kohaku's sister that he thought dead. From the robes of the priest with the logo for the Untied Peace-Keepers stitched on his back along with the significant amount of spiritual power, coupled with black hair and violet eyes which fit the description for the founder and leader, Sesshomaru deduced he had gained an ally among the most feared group of spiritually strong humans in the world. And as ash rained down as an arrow streaked through the air, Sesshomaru knew he was correct in his assumption of power in Kagome's soul. A two-way mating would tie both souls to enable his Kagome to live as long as himself.

However, these thoughts were put aside as his eyes sharpened and he scented the pain and exhaustion blatantly declaring that his would-be mate was on the verge of collapsing. Only seconds passed since he emerged from the depths of the building. When the other two humans turned to acknowledge him, he blurred before their eyes and caught Kagome's limp body as a moan of pain rattled lowly in her throat. Unconsciously, his demeanor softened drastically as he carefully gathered her in his arms, making sure not to agitate her wounds. Straightening up, he nodded at the hu- Miroku and Sango.

"Sango of the Demon Slayers, have you a brother named Kohaku?"

By the sudden stiffening of both their bodies and the raw pain and desperate hope that flared up briefly, both in the woman's scent and her features, he would assume his assumption correct. This would do Kohaku well, he was still not sleeping nor eating as well as Sesshomaru wished. The return of an older packmate who was previously thought dead would help with his mental health.

"He is my ward. He is currently residing at Kagome's home," he informed her somewhat noncommittally.

At the joy that lit up Sango's face and the large smile that blossomed, he was glad. If she was truly going to be maid-of-honor at his wedding, it would do well if she looked healthy and happy. Also judging by the priest's face, he would be willing to perform the ceremony. Good. He would not need to search for a priest who would not object to a miko marrying a demon or vice versa. This one held close ties with his Kagome, so there was a bonus.

Rin, on the other hand, would be delighted to meet Kagome's best friend and while he would be temporarily occupied with his miko, Kohaku would not mind in the least staying with his sister and brother-in-law for a time. The priest and the slayer were excellent fighters; they would easily be able to keep the children safe. Inuyasha would also benefit from interacting with humans as well, considering he was half-mortal.

It was a win-win situation and all that was needed for him to do would be to give several orders to Jaken and his subordinates to prepare for a Lady of the West and send out a team to clean up the remains of Naraku's body. Satisfied that there was nothing left for him to do at his current location, the inuyoukai's feet left the ground as he took to the skies. There was no need to stay any longer; he had a mating to plan, wounds to heal and a beloved miko, supposedly an enemy to his kind, to convince to stay with him for eternity.

Not that he would need to try very hard, he was still the Killing Perfection, the Lord of the West, after all.

Owari~