Once Upon a Time: Little Red Riding Hood and Sexual Predators Chapter 10 by Aisuru aisuru_chan@yahoo.com

*****

Inuyasha opened confused amber eyes. He was lying face down on something that felt like expensive silk on carved mahogany, smooth and hard and strong with just a bit of give, but the smell... He tried to leap to his feet as his addled brain recognized the scent of Sesshoumaru, but his body refused to respond. The most he could manage was to push up a little on his arms, just enough to raise his face out of the heavy folds of silk cloth. He did so, and found that he had been face-to-chest with Sesshoumaru. He looked up into eyes that were a mirror image of his own, identical in appearance but almost void of expression.

"Get off," his older half-brother said, as if he had been lying there, pinning his brother on the ground, for the fun of it.

"Can't. Not yet," Inuyasha growled, his body still fighting the subduing while his mind tried to make sense of the situation. He broke eye contact for the briefest moment to note that his left hand, which he couldn't have raised even if he had wanted to, was pinning his brother's only arm to a stone floor. His right hand, which still had the claws extended for a strike, had landed just to the side of Sesshoumaru's throat. Had Kagome subdued him during a fight? His bitch should know better than that!

Inuyasha brought his eyes back to Sesshoumaru's face, unwilling to turn his attention away from his foe, even if it was clear that neither of them could move for the moment. His brother's scent was the strongest due to his proximity, and the smoke from the fire was pervasive, but the scents of Kagome, Shippou, Sango, and Miroku were all present, along with some unidentified female human child that smelled strongly of Sesshoumaru. He smelled no blood, although Miroku smelled unconscious -- nothing unusual there -- and Sango and Shippou smelled terrified. Kagome smelled good, better than usual, in fact. He blinked hard a few times, trying to clear the last remains of a red haze from his vision. Wait... red haze? He flicked his gaze up, where the Tetsusaiga was still embedded in the solid rock ceiling at the entrance of the cave, forming the shield that kept the still-violent storm outside. Inuyasha barked out an expletive so vile that to this day it has no translation outside of the canine youkai tongue. Shippou gasped from somewhere deeper in the cave. Sesshoumaru sneered.

"Well spoken, pup," he said, his smooth and elegant voice thick with sarcasm. "As you might have guessed, you have once again lost control of your youkai blood. This Sesshoumaru does not comprehend why you intend to wish away your human blood with some cursed stone when you can't even master the small portion of your blood that comes from our illustrious father. You will always be a worthless hanyou." His eyes flickered over to Kagome, who was kneeling over the coughing youkai exterminator, the infantile kitsune wringing his hands at her side. "A worthless hanyou that is subordinate to his own bitch," Sesshoumaru taunted, his voice too soft for the humans to hear, had they been paying attention.

Inuyasha growled during Sesshoumaru's taunting, but his heart wasn't really in it, as he was more concerned with trying to piece together what had transpired since his last recollection -- the argument with Kouga. The argument with Kouga was really nothing special, just the wimpy wolf's absurd claim that Kagome belonged to him. As Kagome would say, 'As if!' The only thing different this time was that this time, the Tetsusaiga wasn't at his side. But still, why would he transform? Sure, the wolf was annoying, but he wasn't a threat like the other foes that had caused him to transform. Unless...

Inuyasha was strictly steering his thoughts away from the possibility that Kouga was a threat *because* the wimpy wolf was laying claim to Kagome, when Sesshoumaru turned his attention to Kagome. Inuyasha's growl became more than the expected background accompaniment to Sesshoumaru's rant. 'I'm not submissive to my bitch!' he thought, then quickly added, 'Kagome isn't my bitch!' At about the same moment, Inuyasha was released from the subduing spell. He leapt up, intending to pull the Tetsusaiga from the cave ceiling, but Sesshoumaru guessed his intent, tucking his legs up under the leaping hanyou and kicking him -- hard -- in the stomach, twisting during the kick so that Inuyasha was thrown -- again, hard -- towards the far wall. Sesshoumaru concluded the maneuver by using the momentum of his legs to leap to his feet, allowing himself a smirk as Inuyasha struck the wall, hitting it with his back and left side.

When Inuyasha was able, he freed himself from the wall, crushed stone falling to the cave floor and leaving a shallow, roughly Inuyasha-shaped indentation. Inuyasha gave himself a quick, dog-like shake, letting the rock dust fall from the back and left side of his kimono and hakama and clearing the ringing from his head. He immediately regretted the move, as the impact had apparently crushed something important in his left shoulder and broken several ribs on his left side. He let out a disgusted snarl as he noticed his left arm hanging rather uselessly at his side -- such an collision would not have damaged him if he had been a full-blooded inu- youkai like his older brother. Then he noticed Sesshoumaru's smirk and years of fighting took over as he forgot his pain. "You're not going to get the Tetsusaiga!" he growled.

Sesshoumaru's face returned to its expressionless mask. "I am not here for our father's sword," he said smoothly.

"Leave Inuyasha alone!" Kagome yelled from the sidelines. Both brothers turned towards her, more because of the rising tingles of miko power then because of her shout. She looked as formidable and desirable as a woman- child human possibly could, her ebony locks and the edges of the red haori she wore flaring out around her as she drew power into herself, exposing more of her legs. The long sleeves had been pushed awkwardly up her arms, and an arrow was notched in her bow, the tip pointed at Sesshoumaru.

Sesshoumaru kept his cool gaze fixed on Kagome as he spoke to his brother, but the tone forced Inuyasha's eyes back to his brother's face. "This Sesshoumaru could tear your bitch to pieces before her arrow hits its mark," he cautioned, and was pleased when the miko's hand began to tremble just the slightest bit.

"Stay out of this, bitch," Inuyasha warned, his gaze flickering away from Sesshoumaru for only the briefest moment. He made his expression as unpleasant as possible, hoping she would take Sesshoumaru's threat seriously. He wasn't sure he was in good enough shape to protect her if Sesshoumaru decided to attack her, and Sesshoumaru had yet to turn his attention back to him.

Instead, Kagome dropped her arms in exasperation, the arrow pointing to the ground and the long sleeves flopping down over her fingertips as Inuyasha focused his attention back on his brother. "Hey!" she yelled, turning to face Inuyasha, "How many times do I have to tell you not to call me 'bitch'? My name is Kagome -- Ka-Go-" Her rant was cut off suddenly as Sesshoumaru appeared behind her, twisting his fingers in her hair just above her neck. The bow and arrow clattered to the ground and she raised her hands to her head, instinctively trying to release her locks from Sesshoumaru's iron grip, but her hands were trapped in the ample sleeves. Behind her, Sango and Shippou crept around the fire to put more distance between them and the inu-youkai lord, pulling the semi-conscious monk along by his robes.

"He calls you bitch because you are his bitch," Sesshoumaru said in his smooth voice, ignoring her struggling as if it were the fluttering of a moth's wings. "If you object to being a bitch, why are you mated to an inu- hanyou?" He used his grip on her hair to tilt her head, also ignoring her surprised yelp as he effortlessly repositioned her, using a sharp-clawed thumb to brush away remaining locks of hair that impeded his view of the side of her throat. "Do quit your growling, pup, or you may annoy this Sesshoumaru into snapping your mate's very human neck."

Miroku, finally conscious enough to take note of the events going on around him, addressed Inuyasha. "Are you going to molest Kagome again?" is what he asked.

"Huh? What?" Inuyasha asked, his eyes wide as he looked towards the monk, the growling ceased in his surprise.

Sango elbowed Miroku, and he grunted, but he continued his line of questioning. "Your eyes started turning red again, so I was wondering if you and Kagome were going to go at it again in the back of the cave." Miroku's moan of pain -- courtesy of Sango -- was hidden under Inuyasha's stunned denials.

"What are you... I mean, how can you..." he sputtered.

"It's true!" Shippou called out from where he was hiding behind Sango. "You didn't like that she smelled like Miroku and Kouga, so you took her out of the cave, ripped all of her clothes off, washed her in the rain, and started slurping all over her neck. You dressed her in your haori, dried her hair, and then carried her off into the back of the cave."

Inuyasha blushed more furiously red with each of Shippou's words. Now that he thought about it, he had noticed that Kagome smelled better than usual, probably because removing her clothes and washing her in the rain had gotten rid of the scents of her time, her soaps, and all the other males whose scents clung to her. To think, he had done all of that to Kagome... He shifted his gaze back to Kagome, noticing that she was in fact wearing his haori, and despite being in Sesshoumaru's grasp she was also blushing.

It came as a great surprise to everybody when Sesshoumaru gave out a sudden bark of laughter. "This Sesshoumaru's brother really is a pup!" he exclaimed. Still using his one-handed grip on Kagome's hair to move her about, he turned her so that the right side of her throat faced the hanyou, ignoring her squeal of protest at being manipulated like a doll. "You call this a mark, Inuyasha? You barely scratched the bitch's skin. Are your fangs as underdeveloped as your mind, pup? Do you need this Sesshoumaru to mark her on your behalf?" With these words, he curled up his lips, displaying his lethal fangs, and leaned over the girl's exposed neck.

*****

Aisuru: Sorry this chapter was so short. And I ended it at a cliff- hanger. And it didn't even have any story-telling in it!

Shippou:

Aisuru: Huh? What are you doing here? You are supposed to be hiding like a coward behind Sango.

Shippou: I'm not a coward! I'm just *sniff* too weak *sniff* to take on Sesshoumaru! Besides, you can't have a chapter without story-telling!

Aisuru: Don't you try to change the subject! You aren't even brave enough to try to take on Sesshoumaru. I thought Kagome was like a mother to you. Her very life is in danger, and all you can do is hide!

Shippou: *sniff* Poor Kagome! *sob* Why do I have to be so weak!

Mushrooms: Waaaaaahhhh!

Sesshoumaru: What is that cursed sound?

Kagome: I'm free. I'm free! Inuyasha, I'm free!

Inuyasha: Quit yelling, bitch!

Kagome: Quit calling me a bitch!

Mushrooms: Waaaaaahhhh!

Sesshoumaru: Too... much... noise...

Inuyasha: But you are a bitch.

Kagome: Shippou, my hero!

Inuyasha: Hey! Don't hug him like that! You're not his bitch! You're mine!

Miroku: The confession.

Inuyasha: Ah... What I mean is...

Aisuru: See? I told everyone that this was still an Inuyasha/Kagome fic!

Kagome: I never noticed before, but kitsune youkai are so much cuter than inu youkai.

Inuyasha: Hey! Where do you think you're going?

Kagome: Obviously, your shard detector is leaving you for a better man!

Shippou: You do realize I see you as a mother-figure, right?

Inuyasha: Aisuru...

Aisuru: Um... Oops? What if I just continue the story, right now, from where it was...

*****

It came as a great surprise to everybody when Sesshoumaru gave out a sudden bark of laughter. "This Sesshoumaru's brother really is a pup!" he exclaimed. Still using his one-handed grip on Kagome's hair to move her about, he turned her so that the right side of her throat faced the hanyou, ignoring her squeal of protest at being manipulated like a doll. "You call this a mark, Inuyasha? You barely scratched the bitch's skin. Are your fangs as underdeveloped as your mind, pup? Do you need this Sesshoumaru to mark her on your behalf?" With these words, he curled up his lips, displaying his lethal fangs, and leaned over the girl's exposed neck.

*****

Shippou: You already wrote that part!

Aisuru: Stop interrupting, or I'll give you back to Kagome.

Shippou:

Inuyasha:

Aisuru: Or maybe not...

Sango: Oh, good grief! Will you please stop these self-insertions and get on with the story? Unless, of course, you'd rather get back to working on your thesis.

Aisuru: ...

Sango: That's better.

*****

"What? No!" Inuyasha shouted, but he found himself frozen in place by indecision. Because he had grown up pretty much on his own, he wasn't sure how, technically, a marking was done, so a part of him was curious to watch one take place. Besides, Sesshoumaru had would be marking Kagome for him, and Kagome did smell so wonderful in his haori, even if she would now smell like Sesshoumaru, too, since he was touching her hair.

Kagome had no such indecision as she felt Sesshoumaru's breath centimeters from the right side of her throat. She wished yet again that she had conscious control of her miko powers and could summon them at will. Her bow and arrow were on the ground by her feet, and she couldn't sense any miko power in herself at the moment. She was about to get her throat ripped out, and her powers had vanished. The best she could do was squeeze her eyes shut and dig her fingernails into the hand that held her hair captive.

"Oooh, the little bitch may be a human, but she has claws," Sesshoumaru taunted in a low voice.

Sango and Miroku were prepared to rush to Kagome's aid, since Inuyasha was acting strangely, his head tilted a little to the side as he watched Sesshoumaru as if he were an inu-youkai pup in the middle of a lesson on how to rip out someone's throat with your fangs, but they stopped when the little girl that had entered the cave with Sesshoumaru stepped in the way.

"Sesshoumaru-sama," Rin asked, pulling on the empty sleeve that used to house his left arm. Sesshoumaru moved away from the human miko's throat so he could glance down at the child.

Rin gave a little nervous smile. "Sesshoumaru-sama, are you going to kill the pretty miko-girl?"

"Does Rin want this Sesshoumaru to kill the 'pretty miko-girl'?" he asked the child. Rin shook her head no.

"Hey! You said you were going to mark her, not kill her!" Inuyasha yelled, coming towards them, his right arm holding his useless left arm tight against his side.

"Calm yourself, pup," Sesshoumaru said, sounding as if he would have rolled his eyes if such an action wouldn't have been so undignified. "This Sesshoumaru has no intention of killing your bitch."

"But you just said..." Inuyasha countered.

Sesshoumaru glared at him, and Inuyasha actually closed his mouth. He looked at Rin again, ignoring Kagome, who was yelling something about not being anybody's bitch. "Rin, I am not going to kill the 'pretty miko-girl' at this time. I was merely going to claim her as property of my father's illustrious bloodline." Now Kagome was yelling something about not being anybody's property and calling him a shou-ve-ni-su-ti-ku, whatever that was. It did not sound complementary, so he tightened his grip on her hair until she squealed.

Rin's eyes brightened. "Like you did to me?" she asked, pushing her kimono neckline down on the right side and brushing her hair aside to reveal a mark. Sesshoumaru gave a nod and leaned towards Rin, giving the mark a lick. Rin giggled.

"What the hell?" Inuyasha yelled. "Sesshoumaru, are you some kind of pedophile?"

"Get him away from me!" Kagome cried out, despite the hand that still held tight to her hair.

"Ewww, you like pups?" Shippou asked, making a gagging sound. Then, remembering that he was a child, he hid behind Sango again.

"Even I agree that she is too young," Miroku added. Sango looked relieved to hear Miroku say that.

Rin blinked large, innocent eyes. "Sesshoumaru-sama, what is 'pedophile'?"

*****

Aisuru: Alright, people. And youkai. Let's keep this PG13.

Rin: Rin is not yet 13.

Aisuru: Ahem. Yeah. My point exactly.

Sango: Aisuru?

Aisuru: Yeah, Sango?

Sango: Get back to the story!

Aisuru: ...

*****

Sesshoumaru glared at Inuyasha. "You are truly ignorant of your inu-youkai heritage, pup," he growled.

"Eww! He called me pup!" Inuyasha cringed.

Sesshoumaru sighed in exasperation. "This Sesshoumaru does not lust after pups."

"What is 'lust'?" Rin asked. Everyone ignored her, except for Shippou, who was quickly muzzled by Sango's hand.

Sesshoumaru continued, "Rin's mark is an outward sign that she is under the protection of our family, Inuyasha. For this Sesshoumaru to lick his mark on Rin is reassuring to her. It is not sexual."

Shippou wriggled out of Sango's grasp. "So when Inuyasha was licking all over Kagome when he went all red-eyed, he was just reassuring her?" he asked.

"No," Miroku answered, "That was sexual."

"Indeed," agreed Sesshoumaru.

Inuyasha blushed and sputtered.

"What is 'sexual'?" Rin asked.

Inuyasha cleared his throat, looking embarrassed. "What is it, pup?" Sesshoumaru asked.

Inuyasha started to cross his arms across his chest, preparing to get all defensive to hide the fact that he was uncomfortable, but his left arm refused to move. "Well, what's the difference?"

Miroku and Sango couldn't help but laugh. Kagome, if she could have moved her head, would have looked at him in confusion. "Feh!" Inuyasha declared, deciding not to ask anymore questions.

"It is not a foolish question, stupid humans," Sesshoumaru rebuked. Sesshoumaru signaled his hanyou half-brother forward with a tilt of his head. "Smell the mark on Rin," he advised.

Very awkwardly, Inuyasha approached the child and sniffed at her neck. She stood perfectly still, as if being sniffed by a youkai -- or hanyou -- was of no consequence. "She smells like your spit," Inuyasha declared.

Sesshoumaru nodded. "Now smell your bitch's throat," he ordered. Inuyasha stepped to the front of Kagome, trying not to notice how wonderful she looked in his haori, and how much better she smelled, if he ignored Sesshoumaru's touching her hair.

"Inuyasha!" Kagome chided when she saw him lean towards her throat. "Why aren't you rescuing me? Inuyasha?"

Inuyasha ignored her words, instead leaning towards her throat and taking a sniff. Then he took another, and another, and another. Soon, his whole body was pressed against her front, and he unconsciously was trying to push Sesshoumaru away from her with his working right arm so he could have her all to himself. Sesshoumaru countered by kicking Inuyasha -- gently, this time -- in his broken ribs.

"Aww, shit!" Inuyasha exclaimed, holding tightly to his ribs. "What the f*ck did you do that for?"

"Did you notice the difference in scents?" Sesshoumaru asked.

"Feh! Of course I did. My bitch doesn't smell like your spit."

"Don't call me a bitch," Kagome muttered, feeling kind of funny from the way Inuyasha had been acting towards her, and the possession he was adding to the term 'bitch.'

Sesshoumaru ignored Kagome and nodded to Inuyasha. "Instead, she smelled like..." he prompted.

Inuyasha started to answer, then blushed again.

Miroku whispered loudly to Sango, "It must have been sexual." Sango nodded.

"What is 'sexual'?" Rin asked again.

"Ask these questions to Jaken," Sesshoumaru advised, only managing to keep a straight face because of centuries of training and practice. Inuyasha, with less control, let out a bark of laughter. When Inuyasha had controlled himself, Sesshoumaru continued his lesson. "So now do you understand the difference between the mark I would give your bitch and the mark you would give her?"

Inuyasha nodded, trying not to blush at the thought of marking his Kagome in the more-than-protective way. To distract himself, he asked, "Where is the ugly toad anyway?"

Rin laughed to hear Jaken referred to as an ugly toad. "He had to go away with Ah-Un," she declared. "Sesshoumaru-sama, when will Ah-Un come back?"

"When he stops sneezing fire," he answered with a no expression.

Rin giggled. "Jaken sneezed, too. So did you, Sesshoumaru-sama, and we all said, 'God bless you, Sesshoumaru-sama!'"

Inuyasha let out another bark of laughter. "You, the great Sesshoumaru, sneezed?" he asked, his voice sarcastic.

Sesshoumaru glared at Inuyasha for being disrespectful.

"These made him sneeze!" Rin declared, reaching into her kimono and pulling out a bunch of flowers. The flowers were very pretty, with slender moss- green stems, purple-veined leaves, and tiny flowers with pink petals and golden-yellow centers. A few small clumps of dirt clung to the roots, which had been pulled from the ground. A little misting of yellow pollen came from the flowers. Sesshoumaru released Kagome's hair before giving a violent sneeze.

Kagome ran as fast as she could with bare feet, hiding behind Sango and Miroku. Quite frankly, she didn't trust Inuyasha to protect her right now. Shippou jumped into her arms, fussing over her and rubbing out the kinks in her neck with his tiny clawed hands.

Rin laughed. "God bless you, Sesshoumaru-sama!" she exclaimed.

Sesshoumaru growled, picking up Rin by the back of her kimono and taking her outside of the cave.

*****

Aisuru: Now the chapter is long. Is everyone happy?

Shippou: Nope. I want some story-telling.

Aisuru: ...

*****

Inuyasha had started laughing at Sesshoumaru's sneeze, and hadn't yet stopped. He was clutching painfully at his broken ribs, but still he kept laughing. "Did you..." he wheezed, "Did you see his face?" he asked before another fit of laughter took him over.

Shippou gave a little laugh from Kagome's shoulder. "It was sort of funny," he replied, before he, too, sneezed. Then he sneezed again, the force of it knocking him from Kagome's shoulder. Kagome yelped as he took a few of her hairs with him, pulling them out at the root. Inuyasha laughed even harder.

Sango stepped forward, inspecting a single flower that had fallen to the cave floor during Sesshoumaru's hasty exit from the cave. She sniffed it carefully, and when it failed to affect her, she smiled. "This could be very useful," she commented with a grin. "I wonder if this would make Naraku sneeze."

"Doubt it," Inuyasha gasped, getting his laughter under control. "He's a hanyou of sorts, isn't he? And it doesn't seem to be affecting me at all." He groaned a little at his aching ribs.

"No affect, huh?" Kagome asked, standing behind Miroku since Sango had abandoned her for the youkai sneezing flower.

There was another sneeze, and an annoyed Kirara crawled out from under Kagome's backpack. "There you are, Kirara!" Sango cried out, scooping up the cat and giving her a hug. The cat sneezed again, more violently, and jumped from Sango's arms. "Oops," she said, holding up the flower she still held and tossing it outside the cave. "If it affects Kirara like this, it won't be of much use to us."

"I can't smell!" Shippou cried, jumping onto Inuyasha's left shoulder. Inuyasha barked out another untranslatable expletive, and moved Shippou to his right shoulder, which was not so thoroughly crushed. Then Inuyasha turned his head to the side and sniffed.

"No, you still smell," Inuyasha stated.

Shippou pouted. "You know what I mean!" he whined, sneezing again. Kirara mewed in agreement, sniffing at random items in the cave and detecting nothing.

Kagome approached Inuyasha cautiously, taking Shippou off of his shoulder and onto the ground. "Inuyasha," she said, hesitantly. He directed his golden gaze in her direction, and what she could see of his eyes in the firelight was unreadable. "Um, if you are done acting all strange, I probably should take a look at your back and left side." Inuyasha just kept looking at her, and she thought he might have taken a quick sniff of the air. "You know, from when Sesshoumaru kicked you into a wall?" she reminded him.

Miroku called to Inuyasha, "Maybe she just wants you to take off your kimono."

"Miroku!" Kagome scolded.

Inuyasha reached for Kagome's hair with his working right hand and had her head tilted to the side before she could even gasp in surprise. He leaned forward, sniffed at her neck, and gave her an affectionate little lick. "No, she doesn't," he answered. "She's really worried about me." He turned his attention back to Kagome. "I'm a hanyou. I'll heal."

Kagome reached up to pull Inuyasha's hand out of her hair, and he growled at her, so she scowled and tapped him in the left shoulder with her fist. "Ow! You stupid bitch!" Inuyasha exclaimed, releasing her hair to grasp at his shoulder. "Why'd you try to hurt me?"

"I didn't hurt you," she grumbled. "How could I, a lowly human, hurt you, the omnipotent hanyou?" She turned away from him in annoyance. Inuyasha stepped towards her back, grasped her hair again, and gave her neck another lick. "What are you doing?" Kagome exclaimed, trying to turn around and failing.

"What's 'omnipotent'?" Shippou whispered to Miroku, before the pup sneezed yet again.

"It means all-powerful," Miroku whispered back.

"Inuyasha? All-powerful?" Shippou asked, his voice just a little louder.

"I believe Kagome-sama was being sarcastic," Miroku replied, letting his volume match Shippou's volume.

"You were?" Inuyasha asked with a little whine, giving Kagome another lick.

"I was what?" Kagome asked, not having heard the conversation between Miroku and Shippou. "Inuyasha, you are acting strange again. Could you please let me go?"

"No," Inuyasha replied.

"No?" Kagome asked incredulously. "Why the hell not?"

Inuyasha nipped at her neck. "Watch your language, bitch," he scolded softly. "If I let you go, you might try to hurt me again."

Kagome rolled her eyes. "I wasn't trying to hurt you. I wanted you to let go of my hair, and besides, I was proving a point. If your shoulder didn't need tending, then that little tap I gave you wouldn't have hurt, now would it?"

"Why do you want me to let go of your hair?" he asked.

"Because it sort of hurts, being pulled along by your hair." She reached behind her, grabbed one of his forelocks, and gave it a tug.

"Didn't hurt," Inuyasha said with a smug smile that Kagome couldn't see but that she could definitely hear.

"Yeah, well, I'm just a 'weak human,' aren't I?" she said, her voice angry.

Inuyasha leaned forward, sniffed at her scalp, and immediately released her hair. "Sorry," he said, instead using his hand to gently massage her abused scalp. She turned around to face him, and Inuyasha continued massaging her scalp with his right hand, so Kagome was in the curve of his arm. He gave a smile that Kagome couldn't see, as his back was to the fire.

"Now what are you doing?" she asked.

"Sesshoumaru and I hurt you," he whined, drooping his ears in an adorable display that Kagome only noticed because his silhouette changed when he did it. She reached up and rubbed his ears upright again, feeling a purring rumble from Inuyasha's chest. She dropped her hands, clasping them in front of her to put keep some distance between her and Inuyasha.

"You're hurt more," she muttered.

Inuyasha moved his hand between them and untied his kimono one-handed. He slipped his right arm out of the sleeve, and used his right hand to push the sleeve off his left arm, giving a pained grunt. The kimono, still tucked into his hakama, hung down over his hips. "My shoulder hurts," he admitted.

With a smile, Kagome grabbed his right hand and pulled him towards the fire so she could see. Once she had him seated -- she did it without saying the word -- she went to her bag and pulled out her first-aid kit. When she had seated herself next to him, she frowned. His back and left side was covered in deep bruises, and his left shoulder just looked wrong. She swallowed roughly, pulled out two aspirin and a bottle of water, and told him to take the pills. He did, keeping his eyes on her face and his nose attuned to her scent. She gently washed out some scrapes with the strong smelling, undrinkable alcohol, and smeared some of the anti-infection cream on them. Then she sat back on her heels and looked at him apologetically. "Um, I don't know what to do for your shoulder. Sorry. But the aspirin should help some with the pain. I hope."

To Kagome's surprise, Inuyasha gave a huge, fang-displaying yawn. She resisted the temptation to stick her finger in his mouth, like she sometimes did with Buyo, knowing that Inuyasha's fangs were infinitely sharper and that he could bite her finger off without meaning to. "Sleepy, Inuyasha?" she teased.

Instead of disagreeing, Inuyasha crawled to her left side so he could lay on his undamaged right side and put his head in her lap. He yawned again, then answered her, "Need to sleep to heal. Don't let Shippou jump on me."

"Hey, I heard that!" Shippou complained, although he did avoid jumping on Inuyasha. "Hey, Inuyasha," he asked, "How did Rin and Kagome smell differently?"

Inuyasha opened one eye to look at the kitsune kit. "You can't smell the difference between a human child that follows my brother around and Kagome?"

Shippou stomped a little kitsune foot. "That's not what I meant, and you know it," he complained. "I mean, what was important about where you guys licked them?"

Kagome blushed at the reference to being licked, but Inuyasha just closed his eyes. "Smell Kagome's neck if you're so curious," he mumbled, getting drowsier by the minute.

Shippou jumped up to Kagome's shoulder and sniffed, forgetting that his nose was stopped up by the pollen. "I smell nothing," he pouted.

Kagome laughed. "What you do not smell," she quoted, "is iocane powder. It is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and dissolves instantly in liquid."

Inuyasha, who was asleep and snoring softly, said nothing. Miroku and Sango, who had added more fuel to the pitiful fire and were sitting across from her, gave her a strange look. "Um, Kagome-sama," Miroku asked, "What are you talking about?"

Kagome laughed again, softly so she wouldn't disturb Inuyasha. She rubbed on his left ear as she answered. "It is a quote from another American movie called The Princess Bride. I'm not even sure I got the quote totally right. I haven't seen that movie in years."

"Ooh, tell us another story!" Shippou exclaimed from Kagome's shoulder.

Kagome stopped rubbing Inuyasha's ear to rub at her own ear. "Not so loud, Shippou-chan," she muttered

"Just a short one," Shippou pleaded.

Kagome sighed and resumed rubbing Inuyasha's ear again. "The Princess Bride isn't exactly a short story, Shippou, and I'm a little tired myself. It has been a very long day."

Miroku snickered, "She can say that alright!" Then he cried out in pain as Sango slapped him.

"Rin wants the pretty miko-lady to tell about the little red wearing girl," a cheerful voice said from the entrance of the cave. Everyone in the group, except Inuyasha, turned towards the voice, but only Shippou and Kirara, who was now curled up on Sango's lap, could actually see Sesshoumaru and Rin as they approached the fire. Inuyasha might have twitched his ears in their direction if his right one hadn't been pressed into Kagome's lap and his left one being stroked absently by Kagome's fingers.

"And you say you aren't his bitch," Sesshoumaru stated as he sat in front of the fire at Kagome's right side. His tail had been wrapped around his arm, and he now held his arm towards the fire to dry it again, as he was once again soaked. A dripping Rin sat on Sesshoumaru's right, drying her hair in a mimic of Sesshoumaru's drying of his tail.

"I wish you wouldn't call me a bitch," Kagome muttered.

"Why?" Sesshoumaru asked. "Does it mean something else in your time?"

If it hadn't been so dark in the cave, Kagome might have noticed Sango frantically waving her arms to warn Kagome of the trap being set up for her, but she really couldn't see Sango very well, and it seemed more life- preserving to keep her eyes on Sesshoumaru.

"Yeah," she answered, "but I've explained it to Inuyasha before, and he still calls me bitch, so I doubt it will make any difference to you."

"Try me," Sesshoumaru answered, using more casual speech to keep Kagome off her guard.

"Okay," she said. "In my time, calling someone a bitch is an insult. It can mean a woman uses cruelty and dishonesty to get ahead in the world, or it can mean that a woman is bossy, or it could mean that she is sexually immoral, like saying she is no better than a bitch in heat."

"And in your time," Sesshoumaru said, "people say 'God bless you,' when you sneeze?"

"Some people do," Kagome replied, "but that is really more of an American tradition."

"I have not heard of this America. Where is it?" Sesshoumaru asked.

Pleased by his curiosity and too tired and soothed by Inuyasha's weight in her lap to notice the danger, Kagome happily answered his questions. "If you go east, far beyond the furthest island of Japan and across the ocean, there are two very large masses of land, connected by a little piece in the middle. They are called North and South America. North America has three countries on it. The one at the top is Canada. The one at the bottom is Mexico. Both stretch east and west to both oceans. The one in the middle, also stretching to both costs, is called the United States of America. When I say something is American, I'm referring to the country in he middle. Of course, I'm pretty sure that the land is divided into different countries at this time."

"And when, exactly, is your time?" he asked.

Kagome blinked, suddenly realizing how foolish she had been to speak so freely with Sesshoumaru, especially regarding where she came from. "Oh, did I say time? Ha, ha..."

Sesshoumaru made a disappointed sound deep in his throat. "You have referred to your time several times already. This Sesshoumaru wants to know when you are from."

Kagome swallowed hard and considered waking Inuyasha for protection, but he was softly snoring in a deep, healing sleep, his slight purr vibrating against her legs. She sighed in resignation. "I want your word you won't involve yourself with my time or my people, directly or indirectly," she said, looking the inu-youkai lord straight in the eyes. "Otherwise, you may as well just kill me now."

Sesshoumaru actually blinked. "What meaning would the word of this Sesshoumaru have for you?" he asked.

"You are the Lord of the Western Lands, are you not?" she asked, not needing a response. "And the father you and Inuyasha share is well- regarded by everyone I have heard speak of him. Therefore, he must have been a man, I mean, a youkai of honor, and if you are ruling in his stead, you must be as well."

"Honor," Sesshoumaru muttered, staring into the fire. Then he turned back to Kagome. "You have my word that I will not, neither directly nor indirectly, invade your time or destroy your people. That is what you really are concerned about, are you not?"

Kagome nodded. "From my estimates, I am from 500 years in the future," she answered.

"So far," Sesshoumaru muttered. "And there are no youkai in this future?"

"I used to think that," Kagome answered, "since I had never seen a youkai until a centipede youkai pulled me into this time, but since coming here I have seen an animated mask and one kitsune."

"You saw a kitsune?" Shippou asked. "You never told me!"

"Well, it was sort of dragging a girl into hell, so it didn't seem like a good bedtime story for you," she answered with a sheepish smile.

Rin gasped and pointed at Shippou. "He is a kitsune! Is he going to drag Rin into hell?"

Shippou snorted as best he could with a stuffed-up nose. "I'm only a kit," he grumbled. "Besides, kitsune only take children to hell if they refuse to pass on into the otherworld and have become evil spirits."

"But the pretty miko-lady just said..." Rin insisted.

"Actually, the girl had died and was becoming an evil spirit," Kagome clarified.

"Oh," Rin answered, resting against Sesshoumaru's side and giving a yawn that Kagome, Sango, and Miroku all involuntary mimicked.

"So there are youkai in your time, then," Sesshoumaru said.

"Yeah, I guess so," she answered. "I'm not sure why we hardly ever see them. Everyone believes they have faded away into mythology and legend, but maybe they are all disguising themselves somehow. Mostly, my time is very safe."

Inuyasha, still asleep, twitched his ear and gave a snort. He rolled over onto his belly, wrapped his right arm around Kagome to grasp her left hip, and buried his face deeper into her lap. Kagome blushed fiercely as Sesshoumaru gave her a knowing look. She tried to ignore Sesshoumaru, instead using both hands to smooth his hair down his back and rub both of his ears, which his change in position had presented to her. His hand on her hip gave her a squeeze, and Kagome gave a yelp of surprise.

"Not mates, indeed," Sesshoumaru scoffed.

"What's going on?" Miroku whispered.

"How the hell am I supposed to know?" Sango muttered back.

"Inuyasha buried his face in Kagome's lap and squeezed her hip," the kitsune blurted out.

"Sango, I am very sleepy. May I rest my head on the softness of your lap?" Miroku could be heard asking.

"No," Sango replied. "Nor may you squeeze my hip. Or any part of me."

Kirara gave a hiss of agreement.

Sesshoumaru cursed his non-functioning nose, not having noticed the fire- cat before, even though it was curled up on the exterminator's lap in its vulnerable form. When Sesshoumaru looked into its eyes, it hissed at him, a warning to leave her master alone. Sesshoumaru scoffed at the idea of any youkai calling a human master, deciding any such creature could not be a threat.

"Inuyasha doesn't think Kagome's time is safe," Shippou said out of the blue. Whenever she goes back to take her te-su-tsu, he gets really mad and tells her she can't go back. Once he even tried to destroy the well."

"He tried to destroy the well to keep me in my time, Shippou," Kagome corrected.

"Yeah, but only because he'd been hurt by Sesshoumaru and couldn't protect you," Shippou muttered, daring to give Sesshoumaru a glare because Kagome and Inuyasha were between him and the inu-youkai lord. Sesshoumaru ignored him.

"A well is the portal between this time and Kagome's time?" Sesshoumaru asked.

Shippou and Kagome both gasped. "Oops," Shippou muttered. "But its not like you can just jump in the well and be in Kagome's time," he quickly added. "I've tried, and it doesn't work. Only Kagome and Inuyasha can go through the well."

"Kaede-sama, an old human miko, thinks that it is the subduing rosary Inuyasha wears, connecting Inuyasha and Kagome, that allows him to follow her through the well and retrieve her from her time," Miroku added. "If you let Kagome put a subduing rosary on you, then maybe you can see her world, too. None of us were willing to risk it."

Kagome had unconsciously let one hand fall from one of Inuyasha's ears to finger the necklace of beads and teeth. "You cursed your mate?" Sesshoumaru questioned, disbelieving.

"No, it wasn't like that!" Kagome exclaimed. "Kaede put the rosary on him because Inuyasha was trying to kill me. She told me to say a subduing word, and I just said the first thing that came to my mind."

"Yeah," Shippou laughed. "She said, 'sit'! Just like for a dog."

Sesshoumaru looked at Kagome with no expression, but she was certain he was disapproving. "Hey, what do you expect? He was flying at me, baring his teeth, like some sort of rabid dog! Like I said, it was just the first thing that came to my mind."

"And if you removed the cursed rosary, he would try to kill you again?" Sesshoumaru asked.

"No! I mean, I don't think so. It's just that, well, subduing him is the only way I can go home."

"Its true," Sango added. "If she didn't sit him into the ground, she would be stuck here forever, and never get to go home to see her family or take her te-su-tsu."

"This Sesshoumaru is unfamiliar with the word te-su-tsu," the inu-youkai lord said.

"Miroku, could you bring my pack over here?" Kagome asked. "I'd get it myself, but Inuyasha is still asleep."

Miroku agreed, and a bag with shoulder straps, dyed an intense yellow, was placed between Kagome and Sesshoumaru. His first instinct was to sniff at it, but that was useless, so he waited for Kagome to open the bag and explain te-su-tsu to him. She pulled out a piece of folded paper covered with characters, both familiar and of a foreign style, but the paper had a uniformity that seemed unnatural, and it had uniform light-blue lines running vertically down the page, lines that contained the characters. The characters had not been applied with ink and brush, making them look awkward and inelegant, and they had apparently been applied to the paper with more concern for haste then the beauty of the penmanship. Another hand had written comments and corrections in red ink, also not applied with a brush.

"You go back to your time to write on paper without brushed?" he asked.

Kagome laughed a little nervously. "There is more to it then just writing. We have public education that everyone must attend for a certain number of years. Everyone is educated, regardless of income or social background, although those with enough money usually go to private schools because of status, but everyone learns to read, to write, mathematics, history, and such. Then, when you get to be my age, you have to pass a test to see if you will be allowed further education, which will lead to better jobs. I take tests like this one to demonstrate what I have learned, and to practice for the test that will allow me to go into high school."

Sesshoumaru nodded. "How do you write without a brush?" he asked. Kagome pulled out a pen, and drew a few swirls on the back of the test paper. Sesshoumaru took the pen from her and frowned. "What is this called? What is its material?"

Kagome noted that he pen she had grabbed had a clear plastic case and sighed. "Its called a pen. The ink is in the middle of that metal tube, and a little ball of metal at the end controls the flow of the ink. When the pen is rolled over paper, the ink is released as the ball rolls." Sesshoumaru nodded for her to continue. "The outer material, the transparent blue stuff, is called plastic. Almost everything is made of plastic in my time."

Sesshoumaru looked at the pen, and gave it the slightest squeeze. The plastic casing cracked. "Sorry," he said, "but the humans of the future are not very intelligent, despite their education system, if they make everything out of this."

"It isn't all like that!" she said with a sigh, looking in sorrow at her broken pen. It would still work, but still! "Plastic comes in lots of different strengths and textures and colors." She pulled out the plastic water bottle Inuyasha had used when he took the aspirin. "This bottle is plastic. It is transparent, so you can see the quality and quantity of what you are drinking, and it is less likely to shatter than glass." As she said this, she tossed the bottle against the wall of the cave. It dented a little, but did not break. "And this," she said, pulling out a reseal-able sandwich bag, "could easily be stretched out or torn, but it is waterproof, and works great for carrying dry food." She opened the bag and handed Sesshoumaru a dry-roasted peanut.

"Human food doesn't suit me," he muttered, handing the morsel to Rin, who gobbled it up and asked for more. Kagome handed the girl the whole bag, warning her not to make herself sick by eating too many.

"Rin wants to hear the story about the girl in the red cloak with the hood," the child interrupted with another yawn, her mouth full of peanuts, but Kagome couldn't see the infraction of manners.

"Okay," Kagome replied with a yawn of her own, pushing the bag behind her and petting Inuyasha's ears again. The hanyou rubbed his face deeper into her lap and purred.

"Why are you not mated with my worthless hanyou half-brother?" Sesshoumaru suddenly asked.

"Well, it isn't because he is worthless, or a hanyou, or even because he's your brother," Kagome snapped in reply. Then her voice grew quieter. "I'm too young to be married," Kagome said. "In my time, I'm still considered a child."

"You're a pup?" Shippou asked, amazed that his mother-figure was considered to be a child herself.

"Well, in this time I'm not considered a child," she amended, "and there are girls in my time that have babies at my age, but it is not socially accepted. I'm only 15."

"So you are biologically an adult and socially a child?" Sesshoumaru asked for clarification.

"Well, technically I'm a teenager, the time between child and adult, but I still wouldn't be allowed to marry. Besides," she added, rubbing Inuyasha's ears, "I'm not sure exactly how Inuyasha feels about me."

Sesshoumaru snorted. "No, I'm serious," Kagome said. "He's never told me, and its not like we've ever kissed or anything." Kagome blushed as she said this. Then she frowned. "And there is always Kikyou."

"Another woman?" Sesshoumaru asked.

Miroku made a sound of disgust. "I would not consider Kikyou-sama to be a woman."

Sesshoumaru frowned. "Not a woman?"

Kagome gave a weak laugh. "Well, technically she was a woman. Now she's sort of dead. A mononoke tried to resurrect her into a clay body baked with her bones and grave soil, and it probably would have worked, but she had already been reincarnated." Kagome looked into the fire. "I took most of my soul back from her, so now she steals the souls of recently deceased women to stay animated." Kagome gave a little sniffle. "Inuyasha loved her, I think, before she died, and Kikyou thinks that he should die for her, since she died when she thought he had died."

Sesshoumaru growled low in his throat. "Kikyou is the miko that pinned him to the sacred tree with a cursed arrow," he realized. Kagome nodded. "And you are her reincarnation, and you freed him from the tree." Kagome nodded again. Sesshoumaru stood up then and started towards the cave entrance, wrapping his tail over his shoulder as he walked.

"Where are we going, Sesshoumaru-sama?" Rin asked.

"Rin, you stay here. I will be back for you," Sesshoumaru answered without turning around.

"But where are you going?" Kagome asked. "And why all of a sudden?"

"I am going to get revenge for the death of my father's youngest son," he said before disappearing into the stormy night.

*****

Aisuru: This is the chapter that doesn't end. It just goes on and on, my friend. Some people started reading it, not knowing what it was, and they'll continue reading it forever just because this is the chapter that doesn't end. It just goes on and on, my friend. Some people started reading it, not knowing what it was, and they'll continue reading it forever just because this is the chapter that doesn't end. It just goes on and on, my friend. Some people started reading it, not knowing what it was, and they'll continue reading it forever just because this is the chapter that doesn't end. It just goes on and on, my friend...

Sango: Aisuru? SHUT UP!!!

Aisuru: ...

Shippou: Where's the story-telling?

Aisuru: ...

*****

Kagome felt sort of sick, not just because she was over tired, or had been repeatedly drenched in the rain, or because Inuyasha had lost control of his youkai blood and attacked her in the strangest way, or even because Sesshoumaru had threatened to snap her neck or bite her. No, Kagome felt sick because she worried what Inuyasha would say when he woke up and realized that Sesshoumaru had gone off with the intent of killing what was left of Kikyou! Sure, Kagome wasn't fond of her reanimated pre- incarnation, but Inuyasha probably loved her. She considered waking Inuyasha and warning him, but then he would probably try to run after his brother, and Inuyasha wasn't in any state to leave the safety of the cave or challenge Sesshoumaru.

She sighed and rubbed his ears instead. For all she knew, it might be the last time he allowed such contact.

"Pretty miko-lady," Rin said to get her attention.

"My name is Kagome," she corrected.

"Kagome-sama," Rin started again, "will you tell Rin the story now?" The girl gave a little sniffle and curled up on the warmer rock Sesshoumaru had just vacated, resting her head on Kagome's side.

"Sure," Kagome said, "why not? Once upon a time there was a little girl named Little Red Riding Hood. Everyone called her that because she wore a bright red cape with hood. Her grandmother lived in a little house in the woods, and she received word that her grandmother was sick, so she packed a basket with treats and went off, over the hills and through the woods, to her grandmother's house. When she was in the woods, near the end of her journey, she came across a wolf. She knew that she shouldn't speak to the wolf, as little girls mustn't ever talk to strangers, but the wolf seemed polite, and when he asked her what was in her basket, she told him that she was headed to her grandmother's house with a basket of treats. The wolf said that he knew a short-cut, and pointed for Little Red Riding Hood to go in a different direction. She thanked the wolf and took the path, which was actually longer. The wolf hurried down the direct path, entered the house, and ate the grandmother."

"Oh, how horrible!" Rin cried.

"Its just a story," Kagome sighed. Then she whispered to Rin, "besides, the good guys all live in the end. So when Little Red Riding Hood got to her grandmother's house, it was the wolf in her grandmother's bed, dressed in her grandmother's nightgown. 'Grandmother,' Little Red Riding Hood said, 'What big eyes you have!' 'The better to see you with, my dear,' the wolf replied. 'Grandmother,' Little Red Riding Hood said, 'What a big nose you have!' 'The better to smell you with, my dear,' the wolf replied, smiling. 'Grandmother,' Little Red Riding Hood said, leaning closer to the bed, 'What big teeth you have!' 'The better to eat you with!' the wolf exclaimed, jumping out of bed and gobbling her up as well. It just so happened that a wood-cutter was walking by, and when he heard Little Red Riding Hood's cries for help, he rushed in with his axe, cut the wolf in half, and pulled Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother out of the wolf's stomach. Little Red Riding Hood never talked to strangers again. The End."

"Is it just me," Miroku muttered, "or was that story full of sexual undertones?"

"You lecher," Sango complained.

"Actually, he's right," Kagome said with a yawn. "That story was told to warn girls to beware of sexual predators, represented by the mysterious wolf, when they go out into the world. Notice that she was carrying around a basket of 'treats' that caught the wolf's attention. And I think the red of her hooded cloak represents the shed blood of lost innocence."

Miroku actually blushed.

*****

Aisuru: The 17 page, 10 font, boy-my-eyes-are-tired chapter is over! Yay! Someone throw me a party! Or, on second thought, maybe I'll just go to bed.

Inuyasha: Zzzzz

Kagome: Zzzzz

Miroku: Zzzzz

Shippou: Zzzzz

Kirara: Zzzzz

Rin: Zzzzz

Sango: Zzzzz. Zzzzz. Aisuru, shut up. Zzzzz.

Aisuru: ...