Author's Note: A few people have asked if this is a crossover with Mercedes Lackey's SERRAted edge world -- it isn't, though people will undoubtedly pick up some strong thematic similarities. Misty's world uses the same source material (Celtic/European mythology and faery tales and a fair amount of pop culture) that I'm drawing on for this story. That's the only similarity.
(And for the record -- I love
Misty's worlds and I have written Valdermar fanfic, which is, alas, not something I can post online.)
So, why Unseelie? Because I needed a big bad that could challenge a wickedly powerful hanyou, a daiyoukai lord, a full grown kitsune, and a whole army of Slayers. And, also, I've been wanting to do a faery tale in the Buffyverse for awhile.
Inuyasha was seated where she expected him to be. The highest point of his expansive property was a flat rock with a three hundred and sixty degree view of mountains, canyon, and beyond, the city and it was there that she found him. It was just light enough that the city lights had faded away, and only the morning star and a quarter of a waning moon were visible in the sky. Dawn was coming, minutes away.
The dawn wind that always rolled downhill from the mountains tousled his waist-length silver hair. He heard her coming, because an ear flicked back, but that rippling banner of hair was the only other motion. He sat so still he could have been a wax statue.
"Have a good chat with your little girlfriend?" There was snark and sarcasm in his words; he spat them at her when she was a few feet away, and without turning around. Behind the venom was hurt
... she'd deeply wounded his feelings by ordering him away.
She didn't say a word, just knelt down behind him, wrapped her arms around his shoulders, and buried her face in his silken hair, hoping for forgiveness. Against her chin she could feel the wear-worn beads of the rosary, warmed by his body heat. He was tense, resisting the embrace. Angry, probably, too -- Inuyasha saw the world in black and white, good and evil. Buffy wasn't
their friend, and he saw no need to be nice to her.
"She's a shade of grey, dog-boy."
"What the fuck's that supposed to mean?" He sounded hostile, even paranoid.
"It means you can't be nasty to her." She sat back a bit and rubbed his deceptively thin shoulders, fingers digging into rock-hard muscles. "Even if you don't like her -- and I don't like her either -- we can't be nasty."
"I wasn't being nasty." He said that sullenly, and she could see him clench his jaw when he stopped talking. That was defiance talking. He was seven centuries old and he still reminded her of a punk kid sometimes. Five centuries of crap sent his way, she reminded herself -- there was a reason
Inuyasha had left Japan, and a reason he had purchased an isolated and rather defensible home that, a century ago, had been a long way from anywhere.
It was a wonder to her, sometimes, that he bothered to trust people at all -- that he still had the capability to see the good in anyone.
"You were being an asshole and you're well aware of it. I know
you, Inuyasha and I know you actually do comprehend the concept of manners when you want to. You were being a jerk, deliberately. What was that whole thing with crouching and staring at her? And the instant coffee? Really
, that was just petty." She ran her hand down his wind-tangled hair, feeling the hard muscles of his back through it.
"We're out of beans!" he snapped, sounding wounded that she'd thought he'd stooped to that level. "Wench wanted coffee. But I had it for instant; I use it for cooking deserts sometimes."
"... oh. I hadn't realized," she sighed, feeling a little guilty -- but only a little. "Inuyasha, I was worried you were going to push her to the point that I'd have to," she said the word in English, "sit
you. And I didn't want to do it in front of Buffy." She slid her hand under the rosary around his neck, feeling the play of worn beads across her fingers. His skin under the beads was a trace thickened, callused, from centuries of wearing the enchanted rosary.
She wished she could take it off him. But he'd asked her not to -- he wanted her to be his safety net.
He was silent, for a long moment, though a little of the tension bled from the muscles under her hands. "Keh. I was being a bastard, wasn't I?"
"Pretty much." She rested her chin on his shoulder. "Koi, you're going to need to be at least civil to her."
"Feh. No I don't. Next time she comes up here, I'll just excuse myself
." He snorted. " Can't be rude to her if I avoid her."
"Okay. Then I'll leave you home today."
Silence, for a moment, from her hanyou. The tension returned to the powerful muscles under her hands. "Ka-go-me," he drew the syllables of her name out, "what did you agree to? I fucking knew I never should have left you alone with her ..."
"Got her to agree that if I was going to help her with her nasty fae problem, it was with you watching my back. I don't exactly trust them either, dog-boy. They're not evil, but everything I've seen of the Slayers tells me that they can be damned ruthless. I don't want to end up on the 'less' end of 'ruthless' in a fight, know what I mean?" She slid her hands down his arms and kneaded his taut biceps. "Besides, if I tried to run off to a fight with the Slayers without you, you'd just follow me."
"Feh." To his credit, he didn't
say, 'Why are we helping them?' -- instead, he sighed, and said, "They can't deal with this nasty themselves, I take it? Some army they are."
"They tried. I don't think they have a miko among their forces. That's why they came to me." Kagome stroked his hair; he was calming down as he spoke to her. She could feel him relaxing. "Inuyasha, will you watch me back?"
"Of course! Do you even need to ask?"
be civil? I don't expect you to be friendly
, just don't growl at anyone." She sat back again, leaving off playing with his hair or trying to relax the remaining tension in his slender frame.
"They killed Amelia!"
"Hai. They did." She bowed her head, suddenly. "If you want to stay behind..."
"No!" That was almost a violent response; he jerked his head up so quickly that his hair bounced, and his ears pinned flat to his head. "Fuck no. If you're going to fight some baddie who managed to kill a bunch of Slayers, for damn sure it's with me or not at all
He spun around to face her; it was a quick, violent movement that sent gravel skittering off the rock and into the canyon below. His eyes were wide; she recognized fear behind the aggressiveness of his moments. "They'll get you dead too if you don't look out. Slayers die,
Kagome. Ask Spike some time about Buffy's history. Damnit, damnit, wench! I don't want to see you messed up in something that's going to get you dead!"
"I don't want to die either, dog-boy."
"You did, though." He meant in the fight with the turok-han six months ago, when Sesshomaru had brought her back using Tenseiga -- something that would only work once
. "You did. And I was right beside you when they struck you down."
His eyes softened a bit, and he swallowed hard before adding, "Koi, this isn't like taking out a nest of vampires; you can dust vampires simply by touching 'em and thinking pure thoughts. Watching you plow through a pack of vampires is fun.
But this is ... bad. Unseelie are like youkai. They're asking you to go up against something like Naraku, I suspect."
"I figured." If it was an ordinary baddie, Buffy never would have come to her -- not with their unfortunate history.
He reached out and cupped the side of her face, claws just barely touching her skin. His talons were inches from her eyes and her jugular. She simply leaned into the caress, smiling a little at him.
"What? You're smirking, woman."
"Am not. But it's funny, Inuyasha. You're
the one who wished for me to make as much of a difference in the future as I did in the past." She caught his hand in hers and kissed his knuckles. "I know you want me to stay safe. But this is my calling, Inuyasha. I can't walk away from evil. This is what I was meant to do with my life."
"I suppose," he roughly pulled her into a hug. "You wouldn't be my Kagome if you didn't get into trouble at least once a week." After a moment, he added, "I'll be civil to those bastards. For you. But I'll never
"I don't expect you to," she whispered into his shoulder, just loud enough for even his keen ears to hear, "For both our sakes, please don't."
"That's the hotel?" Inuyasha was driving -- while he preferred to run or leap at freeway speeds to get places, he could
drive, and they'd elected to go by car because it was daytime and he didn't want to make a conspicuous entrance. The Slayers wouldn't like that.
And, of course, this meant he
had to drive. He claimed it was chivalry. Kagome suspected it was testosterone.
At least he was a surprisingly good driver -- though on reflection, she decided maybe it wasn't
a surprise he was skilled behind the wheel -- Inuyasha had learned to drive around the turn of the last century. That he was attracted
to cars surprised her little. He liked Nascar, classic cars, and monster trucks, too -- the latter with a rather embarrassing amount of enthusiasm; only narrowly had she averted the fate of having an autographed monster truck poster framed and hung on their bedroom wall.
Which took her right back to the 'testosterone' theory of explaining ninety-five percent of Inuyasha's behavior. Well, I've
seen how he's hung
, she thought, with a strictly mental smirk. An excess of testosterone is certainly plausible.
"Huh? Oh, yeah, that's the hotel," she said.
Inuyasha promptly drove right past it. "Let's check out the neighborhood."
"Good idea," she agreed, peering out the window at the afternoon streets. It was the middle of rush hour; he expertly negotiated his way through choking traffic in an orbit around the block, then -- experience was guiding them both here -- he bumped over a couple of potholes in his Jeep and drove down a few trash-strewn alleys.
Kagome wasn't sure what they were looking for, other than simply canvassing an unfamiliar neighborhood for likely trouble spots and escape routes. However, several years of fighting for her and a lifetime for him had taught them both paranoia. Still, she was surprised when he turned up yet another alley and ... there was a guy with a sword there. A tall
guy, with a blond pony tail and handsome features saved from being downright pretty only by a nose that had been broken and healed crookedly. He had broad shoulders, big muscles, and chain mail to go with the bad-ass looking three foot long broadsword in his hand.
"Now, that's something you don't see every day," Inuyasha said, stopping the Jeep. He leaned forward, blinked a couple of times, and regarded the man holding the sword through the dusty, bug-splattered windshield with a dubious frown. The man stared back, sword held comfortably in one hand and feet planted solidly on the crumbling asphalt of the alley.
"He's youkai," Kagome said, eyebrows vanishing up under her bangs. Youkai -- and powerful
. She could sense it. And as heavy as that sword he's holding in one hand has to be, he's physically strong as well.
The youkai man spun round, suddenly, staring in alarm towards the other end of the alley. Two men on horses -- horrible, red-eyed, bone-armor-covered horses that were as much clichés as the romance-novel-cover handsomeness of the youkai man -- had appeared. The men work black armor, including helms with faceplates that covered their features. Both had long, glittering swords that looked like they meant business.
Blondie-boy crouched, knees flexing a bit, sword coming up into an aggressively defensive position.
"Uh ..." Kagome said, "I may be wrong here, but I'm going to hazard a guess and say those are the Unseelie."
"Or their servants." Inuyasha put the Jeep in park, unbuckled his seatbelt, and calmly stepped out. He reached into the back of the Jeep to pick up Tessaiga.
Kagome, taking a hint, grabbed her bow up from behind her seat and strung it. The horsemen just stood there on fidgeting horses, showing no reaction. The blond man glanced over his shoulder at them, eyes widening when he saw Inuyasha and Kagome's weapons; he spun half a turn towards them and put his back to a wall, clearly thinking they were after him from both
Kagome lifted her sword up and fired off a warning shot in the direction of the Unseelie -- she charged the arrow with a significant amount of purifying power and when it hissed between the two horses, both uncanny beasts shied away from it.
Inuyasha barked a short, blackly amused laughed as one rider hit the ground and the other's horse bolted around a corner -- the riderless horse followed, and just before it disappeared out of sight it it kicked both heels up and issued a tremendous fart.
Kagome leveled another arrow at the fallen youkai -- it was
a demon, and one more akin to the youkai she was familiar with, not the coarse, nasty creatures she regularly fought as a slayer. The creature scrambled back to its feet, and instead of running, it charged, sword glittering in one hand, shield strapped to the other arm. Silent. Deadly. Lightning fast.
The blond man spared Tessaiga -- now unsheathed and car-bumper large -- a startled look before turning to face the attack. Inuyasha wordlessly stepped up beside him. Kagome gave both of them a disgusted look and shot an arrow past them to hit the attacker when he was only a score of feet away. The arrow bounced off his armor -- and to her frustration, seemed to have no effect.
Dark Knight Dude ripped into Inuyasha and Blondie-Boy with a whirlwind of incredibly fast blows. Inuyasha took the brunt of the attack; he parried twice, three times. Dark Knight's sword screeched like fingernails on slate each time it clashed up against Tessaiga's enchanted length -- Kagome winced at that sound, guessing it was a bad
Then with the swiftness of a snakebite, the bad guy got a thrust past Tessaiga and ripped through Inuyasha's red fire-rat haori and into the muscle of his arm. It was a deep, disabling cut; Inuyasha recoiled backwards, and dropped Tessaiga as his fingers stopped responding to the demands of his nerves. "Fuck!"
Blondie-boy's sword skittered off the back of Dark Knight's armored back, doing no damage despite what looked like a ferocious amount of strength behind the blow. Dark Knight turned around and sent Blondie-boy flying with a backhanded blow of his sword that had to have broken ribs under the man's mail, even if no skin was broken. Kagome heard
the crack of breaking bone. Blondie-boy stumbled backwards and went down, arms wrapped around his chest. Fuck!
She mentally echoed Inuyasha's curse. This had gone from a bad fight to a disastrous fight. He dropped Tessaiga he dropped Tessaiga oh crap he dropped Tessaiga ...
Too many bad memories of Inuyasha fighting without Tessaiga's stabilizing influence rushed through her head. "Inuyasha! Osuwari!" I'm not the scared little girl he used to defend. I can take this guy out myself, without risking Inuyasha losing himself to his demon.
He hit the ground with a snarl; the noise made Dark Knight turn back towards them and away from Blondie-boy.
She didn't spare a glance at Inuyasha to see who she'd just flattened -- the hanyou she loved or his terrible red-eyed alter-ego -- and the snarls that issued from his prostrate form could have come from either one of him. She just stepped over him and leveled another arrow at the armored knight. The Unseelie had on a slotted face plate; by feel, she pulled a narrow-tipped arrow designed to penetrate armor or scales out, knocked it, and let it fly at that face plate from five feet away as the demon rushed at her with sword pulled back for a killing blow.
and the arrow blasted through the grill and into bone, flesh, brains ... with a spray of blood and ichor, the Unseelie collapsed forward. He was so close that his momentum carried him into her and knocked her down against the wall. And he was still moving! She screamed, planted both hands on that black metal armor and nailed him with every ounce of purifying energy that she could.
And yet he still moved ... limbs scrabbling at her ... muffled grunts issuing from under the armor ... jerky, angry movements ... was he trying to stab her? Rip her limb from limb?
She thrashed, trying to get free, panic giving her limbs strength, but the Unseelie wasn't a small man, and he was wearing a full suit of armor, and she swore and cried out and hit him with another burst of miko energy and it wasn't working, he wasn't stopping ... she was out of power ...
The creature was yanked away from her. She heard a crash of steel against a block wall. "Shit, woman, you sure like to make sure things are dead, don't you?"
Inuyasha stared down at her. He had a bruise on his forehead, and a sour expression on his face. Likely, he hadn't appreciated being sat
much. But his eyes were clear, relatively calm, coherent.
She sat up, then accepted his hand when he pulled her to his feet. "Where's Tessaiga?"
"It's fine." He sounded amused -- he held the sheathed sword up. "Nice shot, by the way. Was I in the way?"
Oh. Apparently, he thought she'd sat
him to get him out of the way so she could hit the bad guy. Well, given he'd suggested that same tactic this very morning after she'd accidentally hit him in the head with a boulder, maybe it was a logical assumption. She contemplated correcting this, then decided against it. Why hurt his feelings again so soon, by telling him she was scared he'd lose control in a fight if he wasn't holding his sword.
Belatedly, she realized he had picked the sword up and sheathed it before
coming to her rescue. She glanced at the armored creature ... it was smoking faintly between the seams in the armor.
Inuyasha gave her an evil grin. "I think it was dead before it even touched you." Death throes
, she thought, with irritated realization. I killed it with the arrow ... And then I purified a twitching corpse. Repeatedly.
Inuyasha snickered as her expression betrayed her thoughts. "I think he's well done, Kagome. Smells like a barbeque." She
could smell the rich odor of roasting meat now -- you didn't need a inu-youkai nose for that. Kagome gagged a bit and moved away from the body, and towards the blond youkai man -- who was still doubled over around his chest, in obvious agony. Kagome knelt beside him and said, "My name's Kagome. That was a hell of a blow."
"I believe you're right," the man looked up at her. Tears of pain wetted his cheeks; he was breathing rapidly, and he was far too pale. "I'll survive, I'm not mortal ... Are you a Slayer?"
"Hai -- yes, I'm a Slayer." She tilted her head. "You're youkai, or something close enough to make no difference to me, correct?"
"Y-youkai? I'm what you people would call sidhe ..." He gathered his feet under himself; Inuyasha grabbed his elbow and helped him stand.
"Seelie Court. The good guys, if any of the sidhe can be considered good
guys ..." Inuyasha said, smiling as he said it. "Already knew that. You smell like you're Daoine Sídhe
"Smart boy," the man responded, approvingly. "Or ... not so much a boy, I think." His eyes narrowed and he regarded Inuyasha intently. With profound respect in his voice he said, "Thank you for saving me, Elder One."
"Feh. Don't call me that." Inuyasha shook his head, denying the man's acknowledgement of his admittedly rather great age. "C'mon. I assume you want to speak to Buffy; she'd be the one who claims to lead the Slayers. We're headed there -- we can take you with us."
"I thank you," he said. "My name is ..." his name was about fourteen syllables long. "Call me Kavan."
"Inuyasha." Her hanyou was actually being polite, for once -- Kagome was pleased to see him calmly extend a hand in greeting.
Kavan clasped it firmly, despite the pain he had to be in. "Ah. I've heard of you. You're one of the good guys."
"Sometimes," Inuyasha said, but he sounded pleased by the fact that the sidhe had heard of him, and knew he was a white hat. Then he sobered. In a very serious tone of voice, he told the Kavan, "And sometimes not."
"Heh." Kavan chuckled lightly, obviously hurting too much to laugh more. "I'll keep that in mind, Inuyasha."