Disclaimers:  I do not own Inuyasha or any of its characters.

Notes:  My very first Inuyasha fic.  This is a Het fic, with pairings as follows . . . Sesshomaru/Kagome, Inuyasha/Kikyo, and
Miroku/Sango.  This is most definitely an Alternate Universe fic, and I take great liberties in changing their lives to suit my
purposes.  And for the most part, I stick with English terms and spellings for their names . . . I do hope you can get over it.

More notes:  Miroku suffers.  Sesshomaru hears a disturbance and investigates.


Part Nine

“Why, Miroku . . . what a pleasant surprise this is.  You’re looking far better than when I last saw you,” Naraku drawled, a
wickedly devious smile curling his lips.  “What say we get to know each other once again?”

Miroku opened his mouth in a silent cry.  He raised his shaking hands, grabbing fistfuls of the half-demon's fine clothing.  This
was Miroku's worst nightmare come true.  The man who had tortured him for years now had him in his cruel clutches once

Deceptively gentle fingers stroked across his cheek, nails very barely grazing his skin.  "My, aren't you a beautiful creature,"
came a whispered voice close to his ear.  A hot slickness touched his lobe and it caused a well of nausea in the slave to know
that it was Naraku's tongue touching him in such a familiar manner.  "If I'd known you'd grow so ravishing, I'd never have let
you go."

Miroku jerked back.  He extended his claws, swiftly lashing out to swipe at the demon before him.  However, his wrist was
grasped in a bruising grip before his strike could land.

"Have you forgotten all of your lessons, my dear Miroku?" Naraku cooed, a cruel glint in his eyes that had Miroku's knees
knocking together in terror.

He shook his head rapidly, hoping to forestall any punishment, praying that someone would find him and save him before he
suffered too long.  He couldn't take the pain again.  He wouldn't survive again if Naraku had control once more.  Even without
the word of subjugation to use against him, Miroku could still bleed, could still die at this monster's hands.  Only his true owner
could punish him with the word.  However, Naraku knew of so many other ways to bring agony, and the memories alone had
Miroku ready to promise anything for mercy.

"I think you have forgotten, my little toy."  He flicked his gaze over to the arm Miroku had tried to attack with.  Slowly, he ran
his fingers over the creamy skin, a gentle caress.  Then with a sudden malice, he wrapped his fingers around Miroku's wrist and
gave a cold growl, "All toys break eventually."  And with that, he purposely twisted his hand until the bone in his grasp snapped.

Miroku opened his mouth to scream at the sudden onslaught of pain, only to have his cries caught and muffled by Naraku's cold
lips.  The demon was kissing him, taking everything he wanted without permission and leaving Miroku only with pain, just as he
had before.  His hope seeped away as his broken wrist throbbed in time with his heart.  He was to be Naraku's plaything again.  
If it was true, then he would find a way to kill himself the moment he was left alone.  He would not allow himself to be used, to
give this monster any sort of pleasure with his pain.  Death would be preferable to being a toy for Naraku's entertainment.

Where was Mother?  Why wasn't she here to stop this?  His heart ached and he could only think of why she wasn't there to
save him as Naraku’s hand easily sifted through the layers of his clothing, touching him as if he still owned Miroku's body.

Why wouldn't someone stop this?


Sesshomaru stood beside his mistress in one of the many shops she had pulled them all into this afternoon.  He would not argue
with her wishes to purchase clothing for him.  It wasn't his place to do such a thing.  But he didn't enjoy this in the least either.  
It would only make the hurt worse when she turned on him.  Sooner or later Kagome would prove to be just like all of
Sesshomaru's former owners.  He was as certain of that as he was that the sun would rise come dawn tomorrow.

Still, it felt pleasant to see Rin so happy.  Even if it would only be until Mistress Kagome showed her true colors, Rin was faring
well.  He did not look forward to trying to explain to her when Kagome turned on them.  There was a good chance Rin would
not understand the cruelty she was being shown.  Sesshomaru hoped Kagome would be merciful with Rin at least.  His own
pain did not matter.  He was used to suffering.  However Rin was merely a human, and a child at that.  She was far more fragile.

He turned his gaze away from his observations of Mistress Kagome, taking a moment to take in his surroundings.  As a slave, it
was his duty to be aware of any possible danger to his mistress.  Whether she was kind or hurtful to him, he would fulfill his
duties to her.  To fail would only lead to more suffering.

As far as he could tell with such a cursory examination of the marketplace, there was nothing ominous.  There were no out of
place scents, nothing that looked or smelled as if it didn't belong here.  Kagome was shopping nearby, her friend Sango doing
the same.  Jaken was dutifully standing between the two women, his arms loaded down by wares.  Sesshomaru could no longer
see the Toad demon's head; the clothing was piled so high upon his arms.  Rin, Shippo and Master Sota were chattering on
about something near a fruit seller.  The slave Talia was standing near to them, her eyes darting around at the people shopping.  
She was guarding the children; Sesshomaru had no doubt of that.  Everything seemed peaceful.

He was about to turn his attention fully back to Kagome when he heard it.  The sound was unmistakable, a harsh and sudden
crack of a bone snapping.  He'd heard that sickening sound once too many times, and had felt it far too many times to count.  
His masters had often laughed gleefully when inflicting such pains on him.  The memories now left Sesshomaru to shudder

Sesshomaru felt a need to investigate.  There could be a possibility of danger to Kagome or Sota.  "Mistress, if I may ... I have
heard something unpleasant and would like to investigate it."

Kagome put down what she had been looking at and turned to face Sesshomaru with worry in her eyes.  "If you feel you must.  
But is there something wrong?  What did you hear?"

Sesshomaru shook his head.  "I thought I heard the sound of a bone breaking.  Please, do not trouble yourself.  I shall be back
in a moment."  It pleased him to see that the young woman seemed to have taken his words to heart.  Although she was
obviously not finished, she bundled up what she had been looking at.

"You go on ahead then.  I'll pay for this and follow you.  I may not be a priestess like Kikyo, but I won't stand by and do
nothing if someone is hurt."  With that, she headed for the proprietor of the shop.  Sango was quick at her heels, calling for the
children and the other slaves to come to her.

Sesshomaru didn't stand around to watch Kagome finish her transaction.  Someone was in need of help.  Normally he wouldn't
care about the welfare of strangers.  But it might pose a danger to Kagome and Sesshomaru could not allow that.

He left the shop and walked in the direction the sound had come from.  It wasn't too far away, so if Kagome called him he
would be able to hear and respond.  He heard muffled sounds of a struggle, whimpers and soft cries.  He didn't like what he
was hearing.  Nor, did he like the scent of blood that was slowly creeping into the air.  Not a great deal of blood loss, and very
fresh, so he was certain the wounds were new.

In an alley, he scowled at the sight he found.  The demon, Naraku, was standing before a weakly struggling youth, a slave by
the look of it.  One leathery wing hung limp and there was an odd angle to it and his right wrist was in a similar state.  Naraku
had hurt him and was continuing to do so.  The fact that Naraku was fondling the boy and that his attentions were obviously not
welcome, made Sesshomaru curl his lip in disgust.  It was also obvious that Naraku was not the slave's master, for the word of
subjugation was not being used, though it could be that he wanted to use crueler methods of punishment for his property.  Even
so, Sesshomaru didn't like it.  With one swift move, he dashed into the alley behind Naraku, grabbing the dark-haired demon and
shoving him face-first into the nearest wall before the man ever heard his approach.  The slave, now free of Naraku's attention,
crumbled to the ground and lay there whimpering pathetically.

Sesshomaru narrowed his eyes, digging his claws lightly into the skin of Naraku's neck without breaking the flesh.  "It is unwise
for one to lay hands upon another's property, no matter your social standing in this community."

The harsh, angry eyes of the demon narrowed in return.  He managed to turn himself in Sesshomaru's grasp, only to be thrust
back against the wall and held there firmly by the silver-haired slave.  "You dare lay your filthy hands on me?"

Kagome's soft voice cut through the tension between the two demons.  "There you are, Sesshomaru!  Did you find the source
of the sound?  OH!"

The demon turned his eyes to Kagome, schooling his features into a calm facade.  "Call off your dog, Lady Kagome.  You
should keep him on a tighter leash!"

Kagome's expression darkened.  "You're one to call anyone a dog, Naraku," she spat.  Slowly, she approached the cowering
slave and kept her tone gentle as she spoke to him.  "Will you be all right?  Did he do anything ... besides what's obvious?"

The slave simply watched Kagome's motions with wide eyes, cringing back when she reached out to him.  There was blood on
his lips, and the bone in his right wrist had broken through the skin.  There was no telling what other injuries he might have.

Naraku growled.  "Unhand me!"

Sesshomaru flicked his gaze to Kagome, briefly noticing the crowd of onlookers gathering at the mouth of the alleyway.  
"Mistress, do you want me to release him?"  He couldn't feel guilty about the slight amusement he felt at Naraku's enraged

Kagome shook her head.  "He's gone too far.  Even his power won't cause the law to look away from him harming someone
else's slave."

A woman's voice called out.  "Miroku?  Miroku, where are you?"

Sesshomaru would have thought nothing of it, if not for the reaction of the cowering slave.  At the sound of the woman's voice
his eyes seemed to brighten and he unfurled himself from his submissive pose.  His eyes darted to the crowd, as if seeking the
owner of the voice.  His every motion seemed to cry out for this woman's attention.

Sesshomaru glanced over as a finely dressed demon entered the alley hurriedly, pushing through the throng of people blocking
her path.  She was quick to reach the slave, dropping to her knees before him and reaching a hand to tenderly caress his cheek.  
"Oh, Miroku.  I didn't realize we had gotten separated until just ..." She noticed the slave's injuries then and her eyes narrowed in
fury as she growled low in her throat.  "Who did this?" she seethed, looking around.  Her eyes found Naraku and if looks had
been able to kill, Naraku would have been skinned alive.

Kagome was quick to intervene before the female could make a move toward Naraku.  "You should take him to a healer for his
arm and wing, Madam.  Are you his owner?"

The demoness nodded, never once ceasing her soothing motions.  Miroku had practically flung himself into her arms, shaking
as he held himself close to her.  "Yes," she answered with a soft sigh.  "Although it pains me to have to keep him enslaved.  It is
safer for him this way.  At least it was before today."  Her eyes returned to look angrily at Naraku.  "How dare you?"

Naraku snorted from where he was being pinned against the wall.  "Please, you're one to talk.  What kind of mother keeps her
own son enslaved?"

The demoness smiled, a dark and dangerous smile, accompanied by a low growl.  "One that would love to see you punished for
the wrongs you have inflicted upon her son.  He is no longer yours to toy with, Naraku.  Even your influential friends can't look
away from this without becoming very unpopular with the populace."

Sesshomaru was a little pleased to note the flicker of unease in Naraku’s eyes.  He disliked this arrogant demon, and against his
better judgment, had mentally placed his own younger brother in Miroku's place.  The thought of Inuyasha being treated so
poorly caused a flare of pain that had nothing to do with his bands or any word of subjugation.

Kagome smiled kindly as Sango and the others entered the alleyway.  Shippo edged close, his little nose twitching, and studied
Miroku.  He gently nuzzled Miroku's side before darting back to his mother.  Rin stayed by Sango, obviously sensing that this
wasn't the place for her.  Sango was pushed forward as several uniformed men came into view.  Kagome almost breathed in
relief, seeing the arrival of the village guard.  After questioning the group, the men took Naraku into custody, locking a
temporary collar around his slender throat.  Unlike slave collar's, his could be removed by any of the elders of the village.  It
was the only secure way of binding a demon's powers until a trial - or even a simple hearing - could be held to discover guilt or

Soon after, the guards left, having given orders to the group to go to the Council as soon as Miroku was tended to.  They
needed to speak their case, to tell the elders what Naraku had been doing.

Once they were gone, Kagome turned his attention to the finely dressed demoness and her son.  "Come on, I'll take you to the

The demoness shook her head.  "No, there is no need.  Miroku will not allow a stranger to touch him."  She ran her fingers
through the dark-haired youth's hair, and then caressed his cheek.  "He fears physical contact.  I will take care of him, as I have
since he was returned to me."

Miroku gave a frail smile, his body trembling slightly.  Sesshomaru had to wonder just what Naraku had done to the boy.  Then
again, perhaps he didn't have to wonder.  After two centuries, he had seen and suffered more pain than most.  Maybe his own
trials were similar to this frightened youth.

"I can tend his wounds," Sesshomaru volunteered, feeling a strange urge to help the young man.  He didn't understand the need,
but felt no need to fight against his desire.

The Demoness sharply turned to Sesshomaru.  She looked him up and down, her eyes lingering on the collar circling his throat,
the bands binding his wrists.  "You must have possessed considerable power.  A ruling lord?"

Sesshomaru inclined his head in a subtle nod.  "The Western Lands."

"Ah, the once powerful dog demon clan.  I remember your family well from the time before the humans rose against us.  By
your appearance, I assume you to be the elder son of the Great Dog ... Sesshomaru was the name, am I correct?"

Again, Sesshomaru gave a small nod.

"To see such power reduced so greatly, it saddens me," the demoness remarked with a sigh.  She rose to her feet, gently
guiding Miroku up along with her.  "You are ... diminished.  Miroku will not detest your touch."  She slowly nodded, a soft
smile coming to her features.  "But please, may we take this some place more comfortable?"

To Be Continued ...