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Disclaimer: InuYasha and Labyrinth do not belong to me. I'm
borrowing them for my and (I hope) my readers' amusement only and have
no intention of trying to make money off of them in any way, shape or
Author: The RCK
Warnings: Major InuYasha
Summary: Something had to come
first, and only one person could have opened the Bone Eater's Well.
Notes: Written for amuse in the
Whattheficathon Crossover Exchange.
Posted: 29 September 2008
Thanks to Olna Jenn for cheerleading and to my husband, Retsuko and
Chichiri no Da for beta reading.
Jareth walked the Bounds. Each step kept his realm safe, kept his realm
real, kept his realm separate. Only the King could walk the Bounds for
the Labyrinth allowed no other the prerogative. Those unwise enough to
try and powerful enough to avoid distraction eventually discovered that
the Labyrinth was an omnivore.
Jareth conjured a sphere and sent it spinning through the air ahead of
him. He opened the sphere to the magic of the Labyrinth so that It
could take control of the sphere's movement. Something troubled the
Bounds, and only the Labyrinth Itself could show him exactly where.
Who, what and why, Jareth would have to discover for himself.
Unless I wish the Labyrinth to
consider choosing another King. He smiled. I can touch any world, any time, but only
if It so desires or if somebody-- some very foolish somebody-- opens
the door by asking. I am master here only so long as I never leave. My
minions may leave and come back without loss but never me. He
couldn't quite regret it. He thought he had regretted it once, but he'd
been King long enough to give up regret.
The sphere spun slowly, so Jareth assumed that the disturbance had no
urgency. At least, no urgency for
me. Whoever's knocking likely thinks
it's important. He stretched his steps just enough to keep up
with the sphere's forward movement.
When he came within sight of the disturbance, a fluttering strip of
paper inscribed with black ink hanging in midair exactly on the
boundary between the mortal realm and his own, he flicked his fingers
to call the sphere back then closed his hand over it to reabsorb its
magic. An invitation? Maybe. A still
closed door that I may open. More polite than most.
"Throne, please." He was polite to the Labyrinth most of the time, at
least when he needed to be. In this case, he preferred to let the
Labyrinth expend magic so he might save his own for whoever-- or
whatever-- had put the paper there. They
see me until I'm ready, but I also cannot see them. Polite or
The Labyrinth produced a tall, broad seat made of interlocking words,
the manifestation of oaths he'd given and received. Cloth spun from
promises kept draped the back and arms in iridescence. It stood about
four feet back from the paper.
Impressive for those who know what it
is. Jareth studied it. For
those who don't, too, I suppose. He planted his rear end firmly,
sighed and raised a hand. With a single pointing finger, he traced a
doorway around the paper. He flicked his fingers. "Open."
The paper split and stretched to create the frame and threshold of a
doorway. Then the boundary shattered within the small space defined by
the doorway. Tiny, sharp fragments of light scattered in all directions.
On the other side of the doorway, a wide, red sleeve shielded a face.
Blood lined a tiny cut on a callused but fine boned hand. The arm
attached to a body kneeling on a polished wooden floor. Fire from a
central pit illuminated the space beyond the kneeling person, leaving
shadows dancing in the corners of the small room. Sliding panels formed
the wall behind the summoner.
A woman, I think, and...perhaps a
shrine. With warding outside. At least she's that cautious.
"Breaking barriers is a dangerous business." Jareth thought he might as
well speak first before the other had a chance. After all, I am King.
The sleeve lowered to reveal a young woman's face framed by long,
loose, black hair. Her attire and features led Jareth to suspect that
she was somewhere in Japan.
Somewhen, too. I think there's
temporal displacement. He tapped his fingers on the arm of the
throne to conceal the gesture that let him sample her world. Yes. Japan. Warring States era. And she
has a taste of youkai about
her, not enough to hide that she's human but more than a casual or
She pressed her hands to the wooden floor in front of her and bowed her
head to join them. "Lord of Thresholds, of Passageways, of Boundaries,
of Neither Here nor There--"
"Yes, yes." Jareth had no intention of listening to the full litany of
his titles. I'm not fool enough--
nor bored enough-- to be bound that way. "Who are you and what
on earth do you want that's worth this much trouble?" She's not a fool. Is she as young as she
"I am Rin," she replied. She didn't sound as if she expected that to
mean anything to him, and in truth, it didn't.
"Oh, sit up." He wasn't going to get anything from studying the top of
She obeyed, sitting back on her heels and resting her hands on her
knees. "I beg the Lord of Passageways to open the Bone Eater's Well so
that the Shikon no Tama can
pass through time and be destroyed."
Jareth touched the Labyrinth to see what he could find about the Shikon no Tama. He frowned. The Jewel of Four Souls. Madness and power
and wishes. Wishes are dangerous things. "Perhaps I should
simply take the jewel into my own realm."
Rin bit her lip, and Jareth suspected suppressed laughter. "I don't
think either Kikyou-sama or Kagome-sama would give it to you. Would
have given it to you." She frowned. "They didn't, so I think they wouldn't,
but I don't think you were there. Time travel is complicated. The words
don't exist." She shook her head. "And Naraku wouldn't give it to
anybody unless they killed him."
Jareth asked the Labyrinth about each of the names. Rin spoke of them
as if they were important to the Shikon
Tama, but the Labyrinth hadn't mentioned them when
explaining. Of course, It doesn't
care for human names. Come, now. I need to know. Grudgingly, It
told him more, more but not enough.
Rin turned to tend the fire. She had a kettle and a tray of tea things
in the sunken area around the pit. She fidgeted with the whisk then put
it down and flattened her hands against her knees. "I apologize for
calling you like this. I wasn't sure how else to do it, and
Sesshoumaru-sama never mentioned anyone else who even could open the
well that way."
That name, Jareth recognized. "Sesshoumaru," he said. That would explain the flavor of her aura.
He sat up straight. "I've met him. Pleasant enough fellow." When his wife-- Oh. He masked the
slight widening of his eyes by rolling a sphere out of the air and
spinning it on his fingertips. And
his wife was mine for a time between being human and marrying. I had
forgotten that, probably because it hasn't happened to me yet.
He gave the young woman his full attention as he tried to reconcile who
she was now with who she would be. No.
she might be. I could
unravel that if I wished.
She smiled, her eyes opened wide, and she clasped her hands together.
"Sesshoumaru-sama has been very kind to me."
He thought he could hear hope in her voice. Dreams, my dear. If I say no, they're
nothing. You're mortal, too fragile for him. He wanted to pull
in her possibilities, to touch and taste each in turn. He hadn't
indulged himself that way in a very long time. But that would kill her. Sesshoumaru would
never forgive me, not even if he doesn't see who she could be.
"Tell me, Rin. Tell me everything."
She looked at the floor again. "Is that necessary?" Her fingers dug
into each other.
"You've begged me for a favor. I need to know why I should bother."
"A long time ago, there was a miko
"No." Jareth held up a finger to stop her. "I know that part." Mostly. "Tell me your story. That's the one that
matters. I'll be granting your wish not hers." Given that the subject
was the Shikon no Tama,
Jareth wasn't surprised that Rin flinched slightly at the word 'wish.'
He smiled. "You've asked. Now you must convince."
She put the kettle on the fire. "I was born in a small village of no
particular note, to parents who were...also of no particular note.
Early death and poverty usually assure that." She raised her eyebrows
as if inviting him to find amusement in the statement.
"I've known poets who praised both death and poverty as making beauty
obvious." He draped a leg over the arm of his throne and leaned against
the corner formed by the back and the other arm. "I've never seen that
as adding virtue to either, myself. They merely make the passable seem
She looked at her hands. "Finding some benefit in loss makes the
impossibility of avoiding it seem more bearable." She cleared her
throat. "I was small when they were killed, only just old enough to
Ah-- No tears, please. Spare me that.
They won't move me.
When she looked up, her eyes were dry, and her face showed no sign of
tears. "I found Sesshoumaru-sama in the woods. He was hurt." She
shrugged. "I brought him food and tried to care for him."
"You're leaving a lot out."
"I was very young," she said. "I don't remember everything."
If you've forgotten anything about
him, it's been taken by force. Still... He chose not to call her
on the lie.
"Youkai, wolves, attacked our
village. Sesshoumaru-sama saved my life and let me follow him after
Oversimplification, I'm sure. Do I
need the details? Jareth narrowed his eyes. "That's hardly even
a story." He allowed himself a tiny sneer.
She met his eyes calmly then turned check the kettle. "If I tell you
every word, every breath, we'll be here for years. Kaede-obaa-sama
cannot keep the barrier around the shrine for so long."
"Kaede-obaa-sama?" He tried to remember if she'd mentioned the name
"Kikyou-sama's younger sister." Rin raised a hand to cover her smile.
"My foster mother now. She's no longer young."
You can't imagine being that old, can
you? Your Sesshoumaru is older still. "Why do you want me to rip
time? You, personally, I mean. I don't do world saving." Altruists can't summon me. Altruism
requires emptying the self too far.
She didn't look surprised. "If the Bone Eater's Well does not open, if
Kagome-sama does not come back in time, I will never meet
Sesshoumaru-sama or Kaede-obaa-sama or..." She made a tossing away
gesture with her right hand. "I would almost certainly be dead."
Jareth frowned at her. "And how many died because she came back?"
"I don't know."
Do you care? Surprisingly, yes.
That's something. "Why not? That seems a fact with which to arm
"I don't know which of them would have died anyway. War and bad
harvests and <i>youkai</i> would all still exist." She
poured water from the kettle into a clay teapot.
"The shards of the Shikon no Tama
gave many youkai more power
than they'd have had otherwise." Ah.
Yes. That. "Including those wolves you mentioned." He raised one
finger. "And Naraku." He raised a second. Then he spread his hands wide
to show that he didn't have enough fingers to count those affected.
"Any more power than enough doesn't matter," she replied. "If a weaker
monster killed me, I'd not be less dead than if a stronger one did."
She laid her hand along the side of the pot then nodded.
He gave her a laugh. "Indeed. If I killed you, you'd be no more dead
than if your Sesshoumaru did."
She just managed not to drop the tea she'd begun to measure.
His renewed laughter interrupted her, and she covered her face with
both hands. She loves him. No doubt
there, but it's a child's love, I think, a child's love that thinks
it's a woman's. It could be more. If she makes it so and earns the fee
for it. Which brings us to the bargaining. He shifted his
position on his throne, leaning forward and planting his feet firmly on
the ground. I probably will do it,
but you'll have to earn it. How much are you willing to pay? He
considered demanding her memories of Sesshoumaru then considered
demanding that she never see Sesshoumaru again. Either would be within my rights. Except
that Sesshoumaru has the power to express his...displeasure at the
price. Let's see if she's thought about it. "What can you offer
me? I do nothing free, and there's no reason why I must help you."
She inclined her head to one side, long black hair sliding over one
shoulder. She spread her hands. "Because you already have helped us. No
one else could have, and Kagome-sama arrived. We all met her."
That could be changed if I say no.
He studied her face. Yes. I think
she has an offer to make. Probably more than one, starting with the
least costly. Good. "You're avoiding the second question." And you want more than the gate. You want
Sesshoumaru. I can smell it on you. Am I not also Lord of Wishes, both
wise and unwise?
"What I can offer?" She shrugged one shoulder. "Isn't the death of
Naraku to your benefit? Sesshoumaru-sama said that all the Great Lords
lost liegemen." For the first time, she looked completely uncertain.
I expect I did lose some. There's
always something, and some-- as you will some day if you swear to me--
choose not to come back. He curved one side of his mouth in a
bitter smile. "If I do not assist you, Naraku will never be an issue.
The Shikon no Tama will
remain hidden from him because the girl from your future will hold it
and never break it." Lies. At
least... probably. A thing like that always finds a way to manifest. It
encysts itself, buried in a soul, until it can birth itself.
"I am not so sure." She poured tea into a cup and offered it to him.
Her hand shook a little, but she looked otherwise calm.
Tea was not his preferred drink, and he suspected that this was
woefully under-steeped, but to refuse would place him at a
disadvantage, so he took the cup in one hand. And you are right. Will you carry the
argument through? He inhaled the steam. "An interesting blend."
A comment like that was usually safe ground. "Does your master offer
She stiffened and set down the teapot. "Sesshoumaru-sama believes that
what has happened will happen and needs no aid." She placed her hands
on her knees and bowed to Jareth. "I have nothing that is not
Sesshoumaru-sama's except myself."
"Even that is debatable, Rin." He shook his head. "He has fed you. He
has clothed you. He has protected you. You belong to him, and I have no
wish to go to war for such a poor return." A favor for him would be for a peer of
sorts, younger, less powerful but still a power. A favor for you...
He raised his eyebrows and allowed himself a sneer.
She didn't seem to notice. "Sesshoumaru-sama said I might do as I
wished. He said he is not brother or father or husband to tell me what
I may do."
Ah. That's it. Clever Sesshoumaru.
He conjured a sphere that showed her falling sakura blossoms. He rolled
it around his hand three times to be sure of catching her attention. As if I might have lost it. He
tossed it into the air, split it in three and began to juggle. He evades debt to me and finds a place for
you. A master move if it works and no great loss to him if it doesn't
as she won't deserve...but she will. I've met her. He's only guessing,
but I've met her. "There are some prices you cannot meet,
child." He wasn't sure if she'd understand the warning in his voice or
know that he referred to something other than her open request.
She sighed, her eyes following the falling petals rather than the
moving spheres. "Many of us lose if Kagome-sama never comes. There are
others I can ask who will help if I cannot meet your price." She
straightened her shoulders.
Clever child. You asked them first,
didn't you? I can use clever people. They're better than powerful
people. He collapsed the spheres together and let the remaining
one spin just above his fingertips. Have
thought of the convincing argument for bringing her here? The cost
will be less if you have, only what you can afford. But I will take
"I am healthy, young, free to give my loyalty and accustomed to walking
among those...from other worlds." She bowed again. "Our time is better
able to fight a threat such as Naraku. In Kagome-sama's time, magic
hides, barely known. The youkai
who still bother with human lands are those capable of blending in,
something Naraku never had trouble doing. No hanyou. No demon hunters. No monks
with nothingness devouring them and everything around them. No
Sesshoumaru-sama. Centuries more for the spider to prepare. Do you
truly think that he would die or that he would not find Kagome-sama?"
Very good. He would find her soul in
one life or another, and I cannot move against him directly, not unless
he steps into my kingdom. "I might take care of him myself." He
flicked the sphere to his other hand.
"And risk angering the other Great Lords?"
He gave her a smile by way of granting her point. "Those who enter my
service cease to be human."
"I won't mind."
He let silence sit between them to see what else she would offer. You alone might be sufficient, but you're
not sure of that, are you? Human and female and without family name in
this place and time... Not that I measure things so. I might do this
just for you, but if I can get more... He steepled his fingers
and smiled at her. How many others
offered service or tribute?
After a minute, she cleared her throat. "Kaede-obaa-sama--"
Enlightenment. She coached you,
didn't she? Did you think of it first or did she? Or was it a hint from
Sesshoumaru? "Would she leave her people unguarded to come to
The girl clasped her hands. "For this, she would."
"Child--" He waved a hand to burst the sphere like a soap bubble. "Did
no one warn you that my price is never less than what the favor is
She swallowed visibly and seemed to brace herself. "What is this one
In truth? Very little. It will take
no effort at all and is clearly my prerogative. He let his smile
widen. "It's not as if you will lose by entering my service, not for
this cause." Or did you ask anyone
who has truly settled?
She sagged just a little. Someone less used to understanding human body
language than Jareth might have missed it. "Shippou-san said I must not
ask anyone who I was not willing to give to you. He said all of them
were too stupid to say no."
Jareth laughed. "Did he say
She lifted the teapot, silently offering him more tea. "He didn't
answer. He told me to ask you if you really want a kitsune because you
cannot make him other than what he is."
He accepted more tea, trying not to look at the green liquid with the
irritation he felt. He considered changing it to something more
palatable. But that would be rude,
and she might notice. "I might need to...negotiate details with
"I asked Kohaku-san after that, but I didn't ask anyone else. If they
want to say yes, they, too, would have to 'negotiate details.'" She
smiled and sipped her own tea. "With each other as much as with you."
She set her cup down. "There are children to consider."
He narrowed his eyes. "Children are welcome in my realm."
"Children change in your
"They do that anyway, no matter where they are." Her, the old priestess, the kitsune and
this Kohaku. Who is he? He asked the Labyrinth in case the
information was already there. Ah,
yes. The demon hunter who was dead for a while. He should be mine
anyway. He stood and stretched. "For loyal service from the four
of you and a chance to meet with the other four, I will open the Bone
Eater's Well at those times so that Kagome and InuYasha may pass
through. Those times will touch in that spot as long as they need to." And you might make your Sesshoumaru a
fascinating Lady some day if you keep on as you've begun. Perhaps.
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