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Undenied by The Hatter Theory

Part One

If, by some screwy twist of fate or misunderstanding, you clicked the link to this MA rated story and you're under eighteen, Click.The.Back.Button.NOW.

Undenied

By: The Hatter Theory

Disclaimer: I don't own the rights to Inu Yasha, which is probably for the best. Credit for the title goes to Portishead. If you haven't heard of them, go listen on youtube.

Notes/Warnings:

Hunch Punch: My term for erotica/smut with bits in it that will make some people go 'ick' or shudder, and not in the fun way. In this story, it's a very heavy s/m theme. There's no bondage, and any hints of power exchange are incidental. That being said, if the idea of people inflicting pain/being in pain and enjoying it bothers you, don't read it. It's not for everyone.

I wrote this for the 3rd GM challenge. It started as a little oneshot that demanded real beginning, and it turned into this monstrosity. On my livejournal I'll post the ten pager it was before it got blown all out of proportion by my muses. This version is a dokuga exclusive. (FFnet would burn me at the stake for even trying.)

Last of all (finally) this is a one shot, but for the sake of readability, I'm separating it into three 20 page parts (does that defeat the purpose?) that are all getting posted at once. Oh, and I've screwed with the timeline a bit. Kagome's an adult because I cannot -cannot- write this happening to someone that's under eighteen. Sess/Kag fics require a bit in the way of suspension of disbelief, this one a little more than others.

____________________________________

Another fight, another battle. Although this one had been different than most, the outcome more important. Sesshoumaru glared at his brother imperiously, eyes cold and filled with a pride she wasn't entirely sure he felt. After all, he had just given up the only offensive power Tenseiga had and given up on Tessaiga, at least she she believed he had. Somehow she couldn't see him lying just to trick them.

“Piss off, jackass,” Inu Yasha snapped, turning away and stalking from the group. Moving to follow, she was stunned when his hand wrapped around her arm, claws pricking the skin. Unable to help the jolt of pain that lanced down her arm and settled warmly in her belly, she held her breath and prayed he would let her go.

He didn't.

“You are all too weak to defeat Naraku,” He intoned flatly. She tried tugging her arm away, which only served to make him tighten his grip. His claws pierced the skin, barely perceptible, but her breath hitched as heat lanced through her. Unable to stop the blush burning her face, she looked up at him, readying herself for a front, a mask of anger to cover the unsettling sensation of static running over her skin.

Any words she had died in the face of his narrowed gold eyes. Wind pushed against them, tousling her hair and shifting his gently.

“Sesshoumaru-”

His grip tightened, and she could feel the claws forced deeper into the flesh of her arm, the barest of movements that almost drug a moan from her throat. Instead, she bit her bottom lip, determined not to give away the secret to anyone else. He knew though, that much she could tell by the incremental widening of his eyes.

He flung her arm away as if it had burned him and spun on his heel, stalking away from the group, completely ignoring Jaken and Rin. If it had been anyone else, she would have called it fleeing, but his steps were measured and calm, although his back was ramrod straight and his shoulders stiff, not moving in time with his gait.

“Kagome, are you alright?” Sango asked, laying a concerned hand on her shoulder.

“I'm fine,” She said, forcing a smile. “He just gripped my arm a little too hard.”

“He probably gave up because you didn't scream mercy,” Sango snorted as she moved away. “Come on, we need to catch up with Inu Yasha.”

For the next several hours she refrained from touching her arm, knowing it would only call attention to the small dots that were quickly scabbing over. She did however, worry about him knowing. It was something she had only come to terms with in the last year, and the idea of the daiyoukai knowing brought the familiar sting of shame. Undoubtedly he was repulsed, or thought it a strange human condition. Hoping he brushed it off as another human habit he would not wish to contemplate or understand, she forced herself to forget that it had happened.

____________________________________

The full moon was a welcome companion as she crept through the darkness, looking for dead fall. Sango and Miroku had long ago parted ways with her to 'search'. Of course she knew what they were up to, she'd have to be an idiot not to be. She did hope that they made use of the contraceptives she had brought back from her time. After all the embarrassment she she had gone through to get them, they had better, anyway.

Her arms were almost full, and she was considering turning back when she felt the brush of familiar youki against her senses. Still leery of his presence, she turned on her heel and began making her way back to camp, more than willing to avoid any possibility of running into him.

However, he seemed determined to force a confrontation of sorts, as he dropped from his place in the trees to stand in front of her, looking down at her speculatively.

“Miko.”

“Sesshoumaru. Hi,” She mumbled, moving to step around him. Embarrassment tinged with shame forced her feet into moving, clumsy steps that betrayed her anxiety.

In the stillness of the night, the sound of the branches she'd gathered hitting the ground echoed like a stampede. The breath was shocked out of her lungs as she made impact with a tree. Her arm was pulled over her head, pinned against the bark by his hand. Her baggy sleeve slid down, exposing the pale skin beneath to the moon.

“Sesshoumaru, stop,” She bit out, trying to tug her hand away.

The feel of his claw piercing the flesh inside of her arm stopped the tirade, the cold sensation numbing her tongue. Unable to look away from his inquisitive gold eyes, she dared not even blink as he stared down at her intently, searching for something.

The pressure increased as he moved the claw further down her arm, cutting through the first few layers of skin and calling forth tiny droplets of blood that welled slowly and began trickling down. Barely holding in the moan that wanted to escape, she bit her lip, remembering weeks before when he had unintentionally hurt her.

Now it was very intentional, and while she knew he probably had no idea what was wrong with her, she also doubted he had any real idea what he was doing.

The blood slipped down her arm, winding down around the curve to rest as it congealed.

“This pleases you,” He murmured, as if her reaction was a small revelation, a miracle.

She yanked her arm away, feeling too much like a specimen under a microscope for her own comfort. The tingling pleasure was gone, replaced with acute embarrassment and the first whispers of guilt.

“What?” She demanded, unnerved by his unwavering stare. “What do you want?”

“Are all humans like you?” He demanded in a quiet voice.

“No,” She bit out, tugging her sleeve over her arm to hide the mark, suddenly ashamed that she had, however unwillingly, given in to the sensation. “I'm different.”

It was perhaps, the crux of most of her problems.

“Are there others?”

“Some.”

“How many?”

“Masochists?” She asked. He repeated the word as a question, and she shook her head, chuckling bitterly. “Not many.”

“How is it you become aroused from pain?”

“I don't know. Science hasn't figured it out yet.”

“You are an anomaly.”

“Something like that.”

She hugged her sides, feeling very small beneath his gaze. When he tensed, she readied herself for death, wondering if he thought her something too twisted and loathsome to live. But he lunged into the air, breaking through the canopy, leaving her behind.

She gathered the wood, ignoring the burn inside of her arm as the rough bark scratched her through the sleeve of her shirt, and walked back to camp. No one said anything as she dropped the wood and moved for her first aid kit. Shippou was asleep and Inu Yasha watched from the other side of the fire. Miroku and Sango still hadn't returned.

“What happened?” He asked quietly.

“Tripped and cut myself on something,” She mumbled as she cleaned off her arm and poured peroxide over the cut. Quickly rubbing some ointment on it, she rolled some gauze around her arm, completely obscuring it from view and taping the bandage neatly. Sango returned several minutes before Miroku, both of them flushed and smiling small, secretive smiles. Briefly she wondered why they tried to hide it. Their love was natural. They were natural.

Sesshoumaru's curiosity reminded her that she was not.

____________________________________

 

The next time she saw him, it was to answer the pull of his youki, familiar by now, demanding she follow the tendril of power that was nothing less than a command. Mumbling about needing to use the bathroom, she walked from the camp, curiosity piqued. Inu Yasha, in his human guise, warned her not to go too far, and she muttered something as she hurried her pace.

When she found him, he was standing in a clearing, the whiteness of his hair and clothing reflecting what little starlight there was.

“The hanyou is human tonight,” He mumbled. She nodded, not questioning how he knew.

“What you are,” He began, pausing. Afraid to speak, she hugged her sides, the small, shamed feeling returning. He was the only one that knew her secret in this era, and she wondered what he thought of it. He was obviously curious, why else would he summon her?

“Does it have a compliment?”

“A compliment?”

“An opposite.”

“Yes,” She murmured, thinking of the man she'd spoken to. He had found his compliment, explained it to her.

“Do they have a name?”

“Sadists.”

“Are they also rare?”

“In their way,” She sighed, thinking of everything she'd been told and what she'd read.

“Explain.”

It was difficult to see him in the darkness, only outlines of his clothing and hair. His expression was completely hidden from her, his gold eyes only catching the light and reflecting it. Feeling more secure because she couldn't see it instead of less, she began repeating what little she knew.

“There are those that think they are, but they're just expressing some sort of anger or trauma. It's the same for people like me. People that are born this way are rare, and no one understands what really makes us what we are.”

“A defect.”

“Different chemistry,” She rebutted, stung by the word he'd used and his tone.

“Chemistry?”

“The body, the brain, it's own way of reacting to different stimulus. Sometimes people are just born different.”

He was quiet for several minutes, and she considered leaving. After all, that was all she really knew on the subject, at least scientifically. However, just as she was moving to leave, he came forward, a pale shadow in the darkness. His large, rough hand gripped her wrist and brought it up.

His grip tightened, bruising her skin and eliciting a strangled gasp of shock. Claws pricked her skin, digging in painfully, each prick of sensation traveling up her arm and to her heart, making it beat double time.

“Stop,” She whimpered.

“Is this not what pleases you?”

He should know what it was doing to her. Despite the fact that she didn't want it to, that she was a curiosity, he was beautiful and he was intense, and he was so focused on her. Had he been just a little nicer, he could easily be the stuff of fantasy. As it was, he wasn't.

“Please, Sesshoumaru,” She gasped, trying to pull her arm away.

“Does it?”

“Don't-”

“Does this pleasure you?”

“No,” She shouted, finally able to pull her arm away from his grip.

“You lie.”

“I don't want someone to do it just because they're curious you jerk,” She snapped, feeling violated and alone in the empty wood. “Just because women like sex doesn't men they want men raping them.”

“You consider such as rape?” The incredulity in his tone was not lost on her.

“How would you feel if someone started taking liberties with you?”

He said nothing, instead turning on his heels and leaving, the paleness of him melting into the dark shadows of the forest. Heaping epithets on his head and hoping he heard, she turned and stalked back to camp, muttering the whole way, just as she did every time she saw the bruises for days thereafter.

____________________________________

It was the next full moon when she felt his youki pulling her from sleep, demanding she wake and follow it. The others, even Inu Yasha, were so fast asleep she was sure a meteor falling into their camp wouldn't wake them. Remembering the prior visit, she turned angrily in her sleeping bag, one hand around her wrist and rubbing circles absentmindedly with her thumb.

The demand did not let up, and after what felt like an hour -but was probably only minutes- she struggled from her sleeping bag and followed it, determined to give the daiyoukai a piece of her mind. The rough ground bruised and cut the pads of her feet a she stomped into the shadows of the forest, following the pulsing command.

When she found him, he was sitting in a small clearing, looking as if he hadn't moved for centuries.

“Well?” She demanded petulantly.

“Sit.”

She moved to sit across from him, a volley of insults ready. However, he chose that moment to pull her foot into his lap. He examined it for several moments, eyes flicking from her to her foot before setting it down on his knee.

“You have been hurt.”

“And?” She bit out.

“Did it please you?”

“No,” She snapped vehemently.

“Why?”

“Because I was too angry that some asshole woke me up in the middle of the night so he could examine me like some freak,” She snarled, not caring if she made him angry. He regarded her calmly despite her tone and words, and for several minutes she was left breathing heavily, her foot still on his knee.

“Would it have?”

“Why are you doing this?” She demanded, ignoring the question and pulling her foot from his lap and standing. “Why do you keep calling me out to ask about this? I know I'm a little different, but surely I can't be that special.”

She was pinned to the ground beneath him before she fully understood what was going on. He was kneeling over her, staring down at her as if she were an idiot.

For several breathless moments, the only things she knew were the feel of his hand traveling up her thigh, into the baggy opening of her sleep shorts, and the intense, burnished gold of his eyes as veins of red began to bleed into them.

The claw dragging back down the skin, following the path his hand had smoothed up only moments before, was a revelation. Pinned by his eyes she couldn't move, but they lacked curiosity or disdain. There was only need there, and the veins of red almost black in the dim the moonlight.

She was falling up as the claw moved lower and lower, raising blood in it's wake, a trail of heat blooming behind it. A steady beat, her pulse, echoed in her ears as his weight over her became heavier, more solid, warm. Her moan echoed through the small clearing as he wound a path down her thigh and over her calf. The crimson veins in his eyes bled over, eclipsing the gold and pulling her in. His iris became a brilliant turquoise, starkly contrasting the darkness of the red.

When he stopped, he stared down at her as if he was coolly, calmly certain of what he would do next, and she shivered at the thought.

“Did that please you?”

Unable to find words to coherently express just how much pleasure she had felt, she nodded dumbly.

“It was my pleasure.”

As he had every time before, he made his exit, leaving her behind to question her sanity.

____________________________________

She wore pants after that, completely forgoing shorts or skirts, however, there was a problem. The only pants she had were the red hakama miko wore. Inu Yasha's opinion was made very clear. He hated the sight of her in the white kimono and red hakama that marked her as a priestess. His reasons were obvious, and she accepted them with a resigned sigh. There was little she could do.

Despite it having been only a week since Sesshoumaru had informed her of his own tastes, she found herself wondering more and more about him, losing herself more and more to her own inner musings. His questions made a perfect sort of sense in the context of his admission, and she felt badly for being so vague, now that she understood.

She also couldn't help but feel intrigued. After all, he was her compliment, and while they'd never been friends before, and she wasn't so sure they ever would be, she couldn't help -but- to entertain the idea of experiencing something more with him. Which, she acknowledged, was stupid, even if he had initiated something. If he actually had.

Her own friends didn't seem to notice her withdrawal into her own world. Sango and Miroku were both still wrapped up in each other, and Shippou and Inu Yasha were annoying each other to the point of almost hourly arguments, each of which ended with an absent minded 'sit' mumbled as she continued on.

Each night she looked to the moon, counting down the days to the next moonless night, wondering if he was going to summon her again, or if he was going to leave her alone.

He didn't wait that long, however.

When she felt the wisps of his youki, Inu Yasha was still very much a hanyou, and she wondered why he couldn't feel or smell his brother nearby.

“I need to go to the bathroom,” She mumbled, standing and brushing off the back of her red hakama. Still miffed by an earlier sitting, he ignored her completely as she stole into the woods. The moon was almost full, and it's light shone down through the cheers, making her path easier. When she found him, he was standing near a small brook, eyes to the sky above him.

“Yes?” She asked, forgoing pleasantries.

“Come with me,” He rumbled. A cloud whispered into existence, forming itself from his youki. Without pause she stepped onto it, almost falling over the side as it lifted into the air.

“Where are we going?”

“The hanyou was following you. We will go where he cannot.”

She wondered what that meant. They were silent as they rode through the sky, high above where even Inu Yasha could reach. Shivering from the cold, she knelt on the cloud and hugged herself, trying to will some warmth into her skin. It felt like an hour before they began their descent, and when they touched down, she looked around, trying to figure out where he had taken her.

“Come,” He commanded. Once again, she followed without hesitation, curiosity and a thrill of need driving her. She didn't have long to wait for her answer, because he led her to a set of stairs, which in turn led to a small house. It was certainly smaller than what she had imagined him living in.

“What is this place?” She murmured as he slid open a door and led her into the building. It was one room, large for what it was, with two long screens sectioning off each end.

He said nothing, but led her to the center of the room where a basin was built into the floor, obviously for a fire.

“Undress.”

“Now what just a minute-” She began, her world tilting on it's axis as she repeated the command over and over in her head. “You can't think-”

“I will not try to rut with you,” He growled, as if her words were an insult. “There is something I wish to do.”

“I got that,” She snapped, anxiety giving her words a hysterical edge. “But you can't just tell me to strip without explanation and expect me to.”

His answer was to turn away and walk over to one of the sectioned off areas of the room. She heard something clicking and then he was walking from behind the screen, a box in hand. She watched him, frightened and curious.

“These are a curiosity my father brought back from another land, with many stories,” He intoned, handing her the box. With shaking fingers she opened the lid, almost dropping the box when she saw what was inside.

“You want to use these?” She whispered, eyes still glued to the shimmering contents. She swallowed thickly, her heart hammering it's way up into her chest at the very idea, the thought of the glimmering, heavy gold jewelry adorning her. “But-”

“I am curious to see if they look as he described.”

Somehow she doubted that was it, even his tone sounded defensive, and his posture was stiff, frozen.

“But, I mean, this isn't sanitary, or even safe-”

“Sanitary?”

“Clean. In my time, things like this are required to be sterile, completely clean. Using these-”

The box was out of her hands and back in his, lid tightly closed. His mouth was a thin, compressed line. Once again his eyes were hard, cold.

“I can bring back things from my time, very much like those,” She blurted as he was turning away. “Safer.”

“A strange word to use, given the context.”

“I'm a little weird,” She huffed. “Not suicidal.”

He made a noise that expressed how little he believed that particular statement, which she chose to ignore.

“I'm going home soon, maybe in the next couple of days. I can bring some back. And-” Here she paused, wondering at the wisdom of her idea. After all, it would be tricky, and if anything went awry, there would be more than just some explaining necessary, all of which would be stuck on her. Not something she wanted to chance.

“And?”

“I can come back early, so we don't have to worry about Inu Yasha trying to find me.”

She knew the danger in the idea, but she also knew that he wouldn't care, because none of the danger implicated him, not really. At worst he would be seen with a human female, and he had already taken Rin into his care. No one would even guess what they really were doing, and she knew that was perhaps the only thing that he would be worried about.

“As you say,” He agreed at last, nodding his assent. “I will only require your presence for a night, perhaps a day.”

She had a feeling she would need a lot longer than that to recover, but nodded anyway, already refining her plan with a reckless, heady rush of anticipation.

“Can you take me back?” She asked, too wrapped up in her own plan to notice his eyes narrow. It was only when he began advancing on her that she stepped back, aware that he had brought her to his home for a purpose.

“No,” She said, bringing both hands up to her chest as she shook her head. “You'll have to decide. If you do anything now, I won't be able to do anything when I get back.”

He stopped, looking an equal mix chagrined and disappointed. It was a strangely human expression on him, almost endearing.

“Why?”

“My friend, someone like me, told me that I have to give my body time to heal, or else I could harm myself.”

“Harm?”

“He said there's hurt and harm. Hurting is okay for us. Harm is dangerous, more than my body can deal with at once.”

He seemed to understand the distinction, the emotion in his eyes fading as he nodded.

“When I go through the well, I'll come back the next day at dusk. Does that sound okay?”

He nodded again.

The entire way back to the small stream she was going over the details of her plan, trying to find holes so that she could fix it. Any mishap and the entire thing would come falling down around her ears, and she wasn't sure her friendships could survive such a catastrophe.

____________________________________

Breathless, she climbed up the vines of the well. After several difficult minutes -her whole body trembled with nervous anxiety and heady anticipation- she made it to the top, and it was with an iron will that she kept from casting out her senses to look for the daiyoukai. Any hint of her presence and Inu Yasha would come running, which was the last thing she wanted.

He stepped into the clearing, face an impassive mask. His eyes flicked over her person, resting on the purse she had hanging over her shoulder. She nodded, flushing deeply when she thought about the contents. His cloud whispered into existence, and she stepped on and sat, hugging the purse to her chest.

Once again they traveled to the small home, and she nervously chattered the whole way, not caring that he didn't deign to reply or comment. When they arrived, he forwent the stairs in favor of landing next to the small home itself. True night was beginning to fall, and she could swear she heard the ocean in the distance.

“Are we close to the sea?” She murmured.

“Yes. This was my father's retreat from the shiro. Now it is mine.”

She wondered if he had ever brought anyone with him before, of if he was bringing her so that he could avoid being seen with her. After all, as a retreat she doubted very many people knew about it. Once inside, he closed the door behind them and she looked around the dark room, wondering if he could see in the almost perfect darkness.

“I'll need light,” She admitted. “To show you what I brought and explain it to you.”

Light flickered to being in the palm of his hand, and he walked over to the basin in the center of the room. A fire roared to life, casting inky shadows around the floor and up the walls. Hoping she didn't offend him, she walked over to a lantern by the door opposite the one they had entered and brought it to the fire. He seemed to understand and walked behind one of the screen walls and came back with two more. Those were lit and place in a semicircle around them as she sat and began pulling things out of the large tote.

He watched, saying nothing as she pulled out a roll of paper towels, a series of packages, forceps, little bottles and two small boxes.

“This,” She said, showing him one of the bottles, “Is antiseptic. It's to clean your hands and the area you want to pierce. It has a very strong scent, but it will help to keep me from getting an infection.” He opened the bottle and flinched, displeasure evident as he closed it again. She shrugged and gave a small smile as she picked up the forceps.

“The man at the shop said you use these to pinch the skin so it's easier to pierce. You don't have to use them if you don't want to though,” She added, showing him how the forceps clicked together and stayed held shut. “And these,” She said, setting the forceps down and picking up the small box. “Are the needles.”

She opened the box and took one of the small packages out, then opened it, offering the glinting silver needle to him. He took it in his hand, testing the tip and then looking at the end.

“It is hollow.”

“That's so you can feed the jewelry into the end,” She explained, pulling one of the rings from the package. “Like this,” She said, taking the needle from his hand and putting one end of the ring into the tip. “You pull it through like this, so the jewelry goes in without having to fish around. You only use each one once, which is why I-” She stopped, not wanting to finish the statement. 'Bought so many' would just sound...too presumptuous, or too eager.

The cost of the entire set had been painful in and of itself, but she hadn't been able to help herself. The man in the tattoo parlor had looked at her suspiciously until she had lied and told him it was for her and her boyfriend. With a few choice words, most of which had been true, he'd sold the items to her with a knowing smirk and an offer to come by any time if she and her 'boyfriend' didn't work out.

“These seem very simple,” He noted, looking at the plain ring and needle. She sorted through the pile of jewelry and put them into groups. The package she was looking for was the biggest, and she handed it to him wordlessly. It had been the most expensive, the long length found while perusing a craft store for ribbon. Seeing it, she had immediately discarded the idea of using ribbon and spent the majority of her funds on it.

“The work is so uniform,” He commented, yeyes warming as he unraveled the long, decorative chain. “How is it made?”

“That's-” She paused, unsure of how to explain machines to him. “Talented craftsmen.”

It was not the ornate, heavy gold jewelry that had been in the box. There had been no time to find anything like that, not that she hadn't fantasized -just a little bit- about it. She'd even considered letting him use it, but good sense had won out over a singularly pleasant fantasy she was still having problems coming to terms with.

Feeling awkward and shy, she peered up at him, seeing that his gaze was on her.

“Do I need to, I mean-”

“If you wish to continue,” He replied, understanding the mangled question.

Taking his tone as a command -and a sign of impatience- she nodded.

“Could you, you know, go behind the screen?”

He seemed baffled by her request.

“Please, just, I know it sounds stupid.”

He stood and walked away, disappearing behind one of the screens. The minute he was out of sight she was standing and stripping down to the barely there bra she'd bought with this moment in mind -not to entice, but to free the most amount of skin- and the tiny pair of underwear. Being careful of the small piles around her, she folded the pants and shirt she had worn and sat them away from the fire.

“I'm finished,” She called out, quickly sitting and bringing her legs to her chest, hugging them tightly. The gravity of the situation she was in was settling down on her, a heavy mantle of seriousness that damped the anticipation into worry. But he was coming closer, she could feel him at her back as he sat or knelt behind her, she wasn't sure which.

He didn't ask her if she was ready, or if she was having second thoughts. Instead, she felt the cold of the antiseptic on her back as he smoothed it over her skin. Next she heard a small package tear open, and readied herself.

The forceps pinched her skin tightly, sending a thrill through her, making her shudder as he clicked them closed. A needle followed, the sensation of it piercing through the flesh, first going in and then going out, sending a haze of white over her vision. The fire became brighter, glowed hotter as he released the forceps, closed the jewelry and began a new piercing.

Each moment of waiting, the breathless second between the pinch of the forceps and the first stab of the needle became an eternity. The heat increased until her blood felt like it was boiling into nothing but energy, liquid light in her veins as he worked his way down her back. Her breath escaped in pants as he made a another, then closed the ring.

She didn't protest as he repositioned her, making her sit with her legs crossed. After he had finished posing her, doll like, he began again, rubbing the antiseptic gel over her arm. Neither of them spoke, but when she looked at his face, a mask of fierce concentration and need, she noticed his eyes were bleeding red, the cold turquoise of his iris contrasting vividly, drawing her into it.

She spiraled deep into the cool, forgiving blueness of his eyes, alternating between feverish and cold as he continued down the line of her arm, and then moved to begin on the other. Beneath the skin, her blood swirled and pumped loudly, and she was surprised by the sight of it around from the piercings. Dimly she knew it was supposed to be red, but she was amazed that it was, that it wasn't glowing or seeping into the sky.

When he was done, he pushed her back, until she was laying on her back, unabashedly moaning. Not in the least concerned when he cut the bra down the center with a claw, she ignored the small voice in the back of her head that protested what she knew was coming, instead embracing the other voice that whispered seductively to give in.

The flash of cold accompanied by the heavy pressure of the needle entering one side of her nipple brought tears to her eyes, but it was nothing compared to the agony of the needle pushing through the other side. Despite feeling as if she were floating slightly above her body, the pain vibrated through her, pushing and pulling with her blood. Somewhere she heard the sound of someone sobbing and moaning, and realized it was her.

Uncaring of what he thought of her, her arms snaked over her head and searched for something to hold onto. Finding nothing, she tangled her restless fingers in her hair as he released the forceps and blood rushed back to the area. The throbbing pain doubled, sending jagged bolts of lust shooting down her belly and to her sex. Her legs clamped together, slid, offering tantalizing moments of friction.

His palm was hot on her stomach as he pushed her back down the floor, trying to still her writhing as her hips twitched and she arched into the welcome heat, savoring the rough friction of his palm on her stomach.

“Be still,” He commanded, voice rough.

“Hot, everywhere's so hot,” She keened, pressing against his hand. The edges of her vision were drowned in white, and the firelight on his white hair and clothing seemed to grow until he was haloed by the flames themselves. In the flickering shadows his eyes glowed bright red, any trace of gold long lost to the crimson suffusing them.

“Be still,” He commanded again, pushing her down firmly and moving his hand away. Missing the contact, she inhaled deeply, trying to drag in air that only seemed to make her more and more lightheaded.

The forceps clamped down tightly on her other nipple, the pinch not nearly enough sensation for her overheated flesh. Trying not to move, she watched him pull out another needle and thread the ring into the tip. Biting her lip, she kept from making a sound as she watched him bring it closer.

If the first nipple had been agony, the second was ecstasy as he pushed it through. On the other side of a deep chasm she heard a scream echoing as the darkness rose up to meet her, wrapping her in warm silk. Curiously weightless, she inhaled and exhaled, her fingertips numb and her chest feeling strangely warm.

When she finally opened her eyes, the fire around him had grown. It occurred to her that it wasn't the fire, but his youki that she was seeing, and she wondered in a dim, dazed sort of way, if he was as strangely affected as she was. That he was looking down at her as if he was going to devour her, body and soul, didn't bother her at all. If anything it sent another trill of excitement through her overstimulated body.

“You respond-” He began, then stopped as she blinked up at him sleepily, as if drugged.

“Thank you,” She whispered, voice slurring over the words. He said nothing, merely watched her until the drowsiness took over. It was on the tip of her tongue to say she was sorry they hadn't finished, but just as she was going to say it, her eyes closed and the darkness encompassed her.

____________________________________

When she came to, she was lying on a soft futon tangled in a blanket. Not remembering how she got there, she sat up and flinched, the rings and bars in her skin moving with the flesh strangely, almost as if they were being tugged. Looking down, she saw her arm dotted sporadically with small bars and rings, and smiled as she examined them. The night before came back to her in a rush of images, each one more vibrant than the last.

Standing, she listed uncertainly as she tried to wrap the blanket around her chest. The rings in her nipples brushed the fabric and fresh pain bloomed in their wake. Forcing the sensation down, she gathered the blanket in one hand and held the top up with her other. Shuffling quietly, she emerged from behind the screen and saw the materials from the night before still scattered.

Sesshoumaru was nowhere in sight.

A small, niggling thread of guilt cut through her as she looked at the length of light chain lying in a pile. Grabbing it, she made for the door, hoping he was still in the area. Luckily, he was sitting on the veranda, staring into the distance.

Feeling shy after the intimacy of the night before, she knelt next to him, unsure of what to say next.

“Is it normal to sleep for such a long time after such activities?” He asked at last.

“I suppose,” She murmured, looking at the sun's position. She guessed that it was midday at least, perhaps a little later. If Inu Yasha had gotten impatient, he would have gone to her mother only to find that she had gone to a friend's house for the night. Which was only sort of a lie, if she didn't consider Sesshoumaru a friend.

She had no idea what to call him now.

“We didn't finish,” She sighed, fingering the light chain nervously.

“It means little.”

“No!” She gasped, turning to him, blue eyes wide with shock. “Last night, what you did,” She stuttered, feeling even more guilty than she had before. “I'm sorry we couldn't finish. But I'd like to,” She added, holding the chain out to him. “If nothing else, I owe you that much.”

He was looking at her as if she'd said something stupid, and her hand fell, was almost to her lap when he took the chain from it. Eyes curiously blank, he shook the chain out of it's gathered pile until it was a long, single length and slipped it through one of the rings in her arms.

She waited patiently, turning her back to him when he had finished the arm. The blanket slipped down and she bent forward, enjoying the pull of the piercings against her flesh and losing herself in the rhythmic sound of the chain tinkling against the metal of the rings and bars. His hand pulled on her shoulder, and she turned again, letting him finish weaving the chain around her arm. It draped and jingled lightly, and she wondered what his youkai hearing perceived as she moved.

Without being told, she stood, letting the blanket hang on her hips before dropping it completely. Ignoring the strange feeling of being watched intently, she stepped from the veranda onto the grass, luxuriating in the feel of it beneath her feet. Feeling washed in careless joy, she spun, raising her hands to the sky and tilting her head back, enjoying the warmth of the sunshine. Unrestrained laughter mixed with the sound of the chain jangling as she spun, making herself dizzy.

When she could no longer stand, she plopped down onto the grass and hugged her knees to her chest, still giggling lightly.

“You are happy,” He observed from his spot on the veranda.

“I am,” She sighed, falling back onto the grass, feeling each blade prick her back. “I never knew it was like this.”

“Like what?”

“Freeing. Exhilarating. Junpei hinted at how wonderful it could be, but he never told me it was like this.”

“Junpei?”

“He's like me. He found someone to compliment him, his partner.”

“You will have to leave soon.”

The statement was as abrupt as it was unwelcome. Standing, she walked over, covering her chest from his gaze. His gaze had hardened once more, nothing but cool apathy reflecting in the golden orbs.

“I'll need help taking them out,” She sighed, wrapping the blanket around her chest. He said nothing, but walked back inside. She followed, feeling as if she were leaving the sunshine mentally as well as physically.

He carefully removed the chain, and then began work on first one arm, then her back, all the while remaining silent. When he had taken the last out of her second arm, he paused, eyes moving to her still covered chest.

“I, I think I'll keep these, if that's alright.”

His head tilted to one side, just a fraction, barely noticeable, except that she was watching him as intently as he was watching her. A small nod was his only response before he opened one of the antiseptic bottles and squirting some into his hand. She allowed him to smooth it over her back, but did her arms herself, feeling more exposed than she had the night before. As she did, he left, only motioning toward the pile of clothes on the floor.

Her pants were not a problem. The shirt was though. Her breasts ached as she slid the fabric over them, the entire process feeling as if it had taken a small eternity to accomplish. Looking back down to the items scattered on the floor, she put all of the used needles in the small sharps container and put the empty wrappers in her purse, but that was it. Leaving the rest by the small basin, she stepped back outside, a sad smile dancing on her lips as she took in the sight of the daiyoukai, once more his cold, formal self.

“I'm ready.”

The ride back was as silent as the ride to his small retreat, and she couldn't help but feel that something had changed, and not for the better. Sometime between her careless twirling as she savored the feel of the metal on and in her skin and her blithe admission that there was someone like her he had changed, walled himself off.

When she stepped off of his cloud, she turned, wanting to ask if she would see him again, which was silly, because she would. But she wasn't sure if she would see him for their reason.

The question however, died on her lips. He was nothing more than a bright ball of youki streaking across the sky, leaving her behind, alone.

____________________________________

 

With a sigh of pleasure she slipped into the hot spring, already enjoying the feel of the warmth seeping into her skin and muscles. For over a week she'd abstained from getting into the natural waters around her, opting instead to bathe with water from water bottles. Finally free to enjoy the warm, if somewhat smelly springs that dotted the area, she moved further into the water, tipping herself so that she could float on her back.

The holes in her skin had healed without any problems, and only little pink puckered marks were left to show that anything at all had happened.

Well, that and the two piercings she had kept. Even though they still proved to uncomfortable from time to time, she enjoyed the reminder, and the sight of them still awed her, when she had to opportunity to look.

“Whoohoo!” A voice shouted, just as there was a loud splash. Dunking into the water, her arms automatically went over her breasts as extra cover while Sango and Shippou made their way over to her.

“Kagome!” Sango greeted. “Why didn't you tell us you were coming?”

“Um, no reason, you know. Just, uh, thought you were busy.”

The lie stumbled off of her tongue, and for a moment she was afraid Sango was going to challenge her. Her words were obviously a lie, and she knew the taijiya could tell. However, hoping that perhaps it was Shippou's presence that kept her from saying anything, she ducked further into the water, wishing a whirlpool would swirl into existence and suck her into it.

“It's been forever since we had time away from the guys. I needed to ask you for something,” The taijiya admitted, eying the kitsune that swam and burbled happily in the water near them.

“More of the you-know-whats?” Kagome guessed shrewdly, brow raised. The taijiya blushed and nodded, shrugging helplessly. “It's fine,” She assured her friend. “I'm just glad you guys are using them. A baby would be pretty bad right now.”

“It would. I still find it strange that your time uses, well-”

“Sex is a lot more accepted in my time,” She giggled. “Besides, you guys have been mooning at each other for years. It was going to happen sooner or later. Better safe than sorry.”

Sango was quiet for several tense moments, and she could tell the woman wanted to say something.

“Out with it.”

“Have you thought about, using them with, you know, you and Inu Yasha?” Sango asked, blushing heavily. “Or are you already-”

“No,” She gasped, then slammed both hands over her mouth, cheeks heating up, shocked with how much vehemence she had denied the questions. Since accepting her own deviant desires, any of her crush on the hanyou had died without even a whimper. Instinctively she knew -knew- the hanyou wouldn't be able to do the things she had done with his brother, and the intimacy she had experienced with Sesshoumaru, whether or not he was ever going to try again with her, was something she knew -with just as much certainty- that she wouldn't be happy without.

“Kagome-”

“Inu Yasha and I, we aren't suited to each other,” She sighed, running her hands through her hair, tangling the wet mass. “Besides, I look like I'm older than him now,” She muttered. It was another tick that had bothered her, one that she was glad she no longer had to worry about. In the years since coming to the feudal era, her hanyou friend hadn't aged at all, physically or emotionally, whereas she had.

“Kagome-”

“He's a wonderful person, but I think we've changed too much,” She hedged.

“Kagome-”

“Huh?”

“What are those?” Sango asked, eyes cast down. Looking down, she followed her friend's line of vision and bent down until she was submerged up to her shoulders. The warm water did nothing to cool her face however.

“Uhm-”

“Those look- Kagome, what are they?”

“Part of a ritual?” She squeaked, flinching when that was all she could come up with.

“Ritual? I've never even heard of a ritual that does, whatever that is!”

“It's a rite, passage into womanhood and all that.”

“You told me that your time considers a female a woman when she turns twenty.”

“I did it late because I'm always here,” She groaned, sinking even deeper into the water, hating to lie even as she said it. Sango was her confidante, the one person she never lied to. But how was she supposed to explain that the piercings were a reminder of the first time she'd ever been intimate with someone, with Sesshoumaru no less?

“Are they really, I mean, women of your time really do that?”

“Some,” She answered. “There's different things. These are one.”

“Your people sound barbaric,” The taijiya sniffed. “My village had rites of passage, but that was hunting and getting your marks.”

“Marks?”

“You've never seen mine?” The taijiya asked, blinking obliquely.

“No-ooo.”

She watched her friend step over to to the shallows of the spring, back to her. When Sango was only waist deep, she lifted her hair, exposing the lines of her back.

“Is that a tattoo?” Kagome murmured, examining the broken, raised lines resting high on the woman's back. If it was, it was ill made, the lines irregular and bumpy.

“No,” The taijiya snapped, turning back to her with a frown. “Only criminals get tattoos.”

“Then how-”

“Our head man makes the mark with a knife, and rubs ash into it. Each slayer village has a different mark. Ours is, was, the mark of the sun,” She explained as she came back, slowly submerging herself in the warm water.

Kagome shuddered, but not with any sort of pleasure. The idea of rubbing ash into a wound was not appealing in the least, and she was in awe that Sango hadn't developed some kind of infection. Besides that, the mark itself was irregular and clumsy, probably from the skin rejecting the ash itself.

“What kind of ash?”

“The cremated remains of our kill,” The taijiya answered, as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

Kagome gagged.

“It's natural, and has meaning. How do your people do that?”

“They use needles and feed the jewelry through,” She admitted, grateful to think about something besides youkai ash being rubbed into wounds. “It's just what it is. Yours has meaning, right?” Sango nodded, although Kagome could still see the doubt in her eyes. “Well, mine has meaning to me,” She added firmly, trying not to blush. “Some people in my time get tattoos, although not many, and others get piercings. It's just what some people choose to do.”

“And you chose that?”

Choosing hadn't exactly come up at that point and time, but she hadn't tried to stop it either. Knowing her face was imitating a small sun, she nodded anyway, unable to stop the small smile.

“Did it hurt?”

“Yes.” She left it at that, still unable to explain her unique condition to the taijiya. After all, it was another world, for all she knew, people like her were considered possessed or some such thing. Unable to bear the thought of Sango thinking like that or even coming to hate her was more than enough to keep her silent. The oppressive feeling had lessened though, and she wondered if it was because she shared her secret now, or if it was just the freedom of finally having that craving momentarily satisfied.

“Inu Yasha, does he know?”

“About these, no,” She stuttered.

“Not about those, about well, you know.”

“I don't think so,” She sighed. “I don't think it matters much though, you know? He's still so wrapped up in Kikyo's memory. And it's okay, you know? I get it.”

“You're being awfully forgiving,” Sango murmured thoughtfully, moving to the shallows and sitting down. She followed, sitting across from her friend as Shippou continued swimming nearby, sensing their need for privacy.

“You only think that because if Miroku was pining for someone else you'd bludgeon both him and the other person. But Inu Yasha was like this when we met, so I'm used to it. Besides, I'm different now.”

“You are,” Sango agreed. “You and Inu Yasha don't argue as much, and after years of traveling together, it's odd that it just disappeared.”

Kagome shrugged, unable to formulate a response to that. She had changed more noticeably in the last several weeks, and she knew that denying it would only serve to heighten the taijiya's curiosity. Shrugging it off seemed the only option.

“You said there are other rituals,” Sango began, voice laced with honest curiosity. “What kinds?”

With much self censoring, Kagome began telling her of some of the things people in her time did.

____________________________________

 

INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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