(AN)---sequel to 'Three Times A Lady'!  Read that first then come back.  I feel like this one is a lot better, so far, but maybe I'm deluding myself?  It starts out very light, then abruptly switches gears.  I hope it isn't too OOC.

Why didn't I post this as more chapters to TTAL?  Because I think the tone of the story changes enough to warrant separation.  You will find the same humor in it still...but the seriousness-factor raises along with the romance.  With TTAL I set out to write something kind of cute and funny, but not silly.  I will try to carry that thread over to ICE. 

ICE?  Omg!  The initials for 'it changes everything' spell out 'ice'!  how nifty is...ah yes, I am very strange.  :-D

Disclaimer: not mine.

Please review!  Thanks!  ^_^

It Changes Everything

Chapter One:

Home is Where the Heart Is

How do I get myself into these situations, Kagome asked the swaying ground.  She kicked her leg one last time, just to hear him curse, just to let him know she wasn't happy.  She had started out wriggling and screaming from Kaede's hut, but stopped when she realized she wasn't getting anywhere.  At least, nowhere she wanted to be.  She sighed again, rounded her small hand into a fist and slammed it down once.  He grunted in response.

Sun beat down on her back as they cleared the trees.  Two more leaps, which he only did to make her stomach lurch to the base of her throat, and they were there.

Inuyasha swung her down off his shoulder none too gently, and held her, feet dangling and all, over the dry well.

"Stay there until I come to get you."

"Put me down, Inuyasha!" was her answer, "I'm not going back!"  Knowing how sensitive his ears were, she made sure to scream her demands as loudly and shrilly as possible.  Then kicked him in the side.

Inuyasha's ears flattened against his head, his claws tightening around her waist.  "Go home, Kagome."

"No."  She crossed her arms stubbornly, turning her head and sticking her nose up in the air.

"Go.Home."  He punctured each word with a swift shake. 

Kagome's hair flew into her eyes and she glared out at him through it.  "I don't want to."

Inuyasha's lips curved into a smile, his hands opened and down she fell, her startled scream cutting off as she disappeared.

Kagome landed in her own time, and immediately jumped to her feet.  She flew up the ladder like it was a bad habit, turned around at the top and pushed off.

Or started to.  She froze, her hand scrambling for purchase at one of the old rungs.  Inuyasha stood at the bottom of the well, arms held tight across his chest and his gold eyes narrow.  Kagome glared down at him, her lip sticking out into an annoyed pout.  But then her glare turned into a grin.  She leaned out from the ladder, her hair falling over her shoulder in a silky black wave.  Inuyasha's hands dropped to his sides, and his eyes widened.

"Don't," he began, but before he could continue, Kagome shoved away from the ladder and leaped into the well.

Barely giving herself time to touch down, the young miko scrambled up the side of the well, her feet sliding and her hands clutching at the old vines.  She cleared the top like a mermaid sunbathing on a rock, and was about to hop out when a hand wrapped around her ankle.  Not pausing to be surprised, Kagome kicked at Inuyasha as he tried to drag her back down into the well.

"Bitch, let go of the side!"

"NO!  You let go of ME!"


Kagome gave him one more kick, then hooked her arms over the side of the well, making sure her grip on it was nice and secure.  She wasn't going back.

"I'll say it!"

Inuyasha cursed, his hand tightening around her leg and his claws digging into her sock.  "Do it!  I'll just pull you down with me!"

Kagome nearly disappeared over the edge, but she dragged herself back up, stepping on the hand weighing her down with her free foot.  She ground the heel of her shoe into his fingers and heard him curse again.

That's it.  I warned him.  "Osuwari!"

She could hear frantic scratching from inside the well.  Inuyasha jerked on her leg as the magic of the prayer beads tried to force him down to the nearest patch of ground.  Her already too large sock slid down to pool around her ankle, then both it and the shoe came free in Inuyasha's hand.  He clutched them as he fell.

"HA!" Kagome gave a shout of joy, was out of the well and scurrying back towards Kaede's village as fast as her human legs would carry her.  Though, with one bare foot, her run was a little off balance.

Inuyasha dropped out of the trees onto the walk-worn path before her.  Kagome came up short, ready to scream out her frustration until his ears bled.

"I will say IT until your bones break, Inuyasha!  I SWEAR I WILL!"

The hanyou didn't shout back, as was customary.  He stared at her quietly with her sock and shoe still held in his hand.  "Kagome, go home.  Please."

She hesitated, her anger falling out.  She knew he was only worried about her, and with reason.  She had accidentally been roped into a family curse with his murdering half-brother.  She liked to believe his anxiety was borne from a fear of losing her, but she didn't think that was completely it.  Just as she didn't fully believe that he loved her more, or even as much, as he loved Kikyou...the doubt came from the same place.

"You want me to go hide in my own time," she whispered haltingly.  She stared with unseeing eyes at the ground for one long moment, then turned her soft blue-grey gaze up to him.  For some reason it hurt, the fact that he wanted her to hide rather than face the battle with him head-on.  It made her feel young and weak.

"You'll be safer there."

Kagome shook her head, one short gesture.  In a small voice she said, "Kaede-bachan thinks he can cross the well."  She stared at Inuyasha's face for a flicker of comprehension, but his expression did not change.

"He can't.  Don't worry."  He sounded so sure, and she didn't know why.  She wished she did.

"She says it's possible."

Inuyasha huffed.  "The well only works for us.  You know that, Kagome."

"But it works for us because we're linked, through the Shikon no Tama and these..." she reached up and fingered the rosary around his neck, making the beads clink together.  "Now, through this curse, Sesshoumaru and I may be linked."

Inuyasha stilled her hand on the prayer beads, pressing it gently against his chest and curving his fingers around hers.  "It's not permanent, Kagome.  We'll get through it."

"I hope you're right."

He smiled at her reassuringly, "I know I am."

Kagome smiled back.  Inuyasha could be so sweet when he wanted to be.  It was a pity he almost never wanted to be. 

She blinked as he continued to stare at her, his hand tightening on hers.  Hmmm?  He was leaning forward now, his long pale hair swinging over his shoulders.  One tress brushing her hand.  Is he...?  She leaned forward in the same motion, her eyes growing wider as his face came nearer to hers.  They were mere inches apart, his eyes steady on her eyes, drawing her forward, drawing her in.  Their quickened breaths mingled.  It's going to happen...It's—

Understanding struck.  Ripped through her mind like bright, screaming claws.  She gasped, shoving away from him and jerking her hand free of his so fast that she stumbled.  She took one step back from him, and then another.  Her eyes wide with anger, fear, and pain.  She glared at him with that mixed stare, and her already panting breath shortened.

"You...You won't kill him through me!" she whispered hoarsely.  With that she turned and stomped to the well, finally ready to go home.  Needing to go home.

Inuyasha watched her go, stood long moments staring after the image of her sudden tears in his mind.  With a growl he threw her shoe, it striking a nearby tree and splintering it.  "Stupid bitch!  You don't know ANYTHING!"

She knew she spent too much time away when coming home was like going on vacation.  Her family always welcomed her back as if she were their long lost daughter, and though she loved their attention and affection...it always made her feel guilty.   They deserve better than this.  But she knew they loved her, and they knew she loved them.  And it was enough.

Food was waiting for her at the table, and she wondered how many nights her mother had prepared her meals only for them to grow cold.  She gratefully flung herself at her mother, her heart swelling so that she feared it would begin spilling out of her eyes.

Mama always made everything all right, and Kagome knew that this curse was just another thing that would blow over.  That she would live through it and be stronger because of it.  She gained all this from her mother's welcoming embrace.

"Kagome," Mrs. Higurashi laughed softly, "you act as if you haven't seen me in years!"

"Sometimes it feels like years, mama," she whispered against the older woman's breast, tightening her arms around her.  After the stunt Inuyasha had pulled, she needed someone to hold her.

Kagome lifted her head, wanting to tell her mother how much she loved her, how much she appreciated her, how lost she would be without her to anchor her in the world. 

Mrs. Higurashi smiled down into her daughter's blue eyes, tucked a lock of her black hair behind her ear.  "Go on up and get Souta.  Let's all eat together tonight."

"Hai!"  Kagome nodded once, smiling.  When on climbing out of the well, she had felt like she didn't have anything left to smile about.  She should have known better.

Higurashi Shrine was silent after ten.  It always was.  Kagome was usually the last to bed, and she liked it that way.  For some reason, knowing that all her family was safe and sound in their own dreams helped her sleep better. 

This night was different.

Kagome exited the bathroom and walked to her room in the dark hush of the hall, her thoughts not filled with peace, but centred on the world that existed in the past.  In her room she absently towel-dried her hair, then began running her brush through it.  Another ritual to try and set her mind at ease, though nothing was helping.

She put the brush down on her desk, pulled her covers back and crawled into her warm, soft bed.  She immediately turned over onto her back and stared at the shadowed ceiling.  The bath should have relaxed her, but it only made her thoughts flow more coherently.  Each one flitted across her mind, and hurt her with its passing.  To think, I could kill a man with a kiss.  And such a proud and strong man---brought down by such a small thing.  It doesn't seem right.  And Inuyasha.  What would have been our first kiss, and he would have baptized it in blood.  Her heart lurched at that thought, at how close she had come to helping him kill his brother.  Before this curse Inuyasha would have let Sesshoumaru go, or left himself.  He would not have pressed the fight on until one of them died.  Her mind tried to tell her he was just trying to protect her, that he was bothered by the thought of her being with someone else.  But she knew it wasn't that.  At least, not only that. 

It was Sesshoumaru.

The thought that his brother would have what he coveted...it was showing Kagome a side of Inuyasha she had not known existed.  And still did not want to know.

But how had I known?  I shouldn't have.  It wasn't a linear thought, an obvious conclusion.  It was just there, telling me.  Warning me...I can't trust Inuyasha's affections right now.  And even if I could, I can't return them.  At that moment, she didn't even want to.  She could understand his hate for his brother, but she couldn't harbor it herself.  Her soul just did not know how to hate so deeply and completely.

The metronome of the wall-clock filled her room, oddly soothing in its familiarity, in its distance from the life she lived in the past.  She let her thoughts ebb on its constant pattern, knowing sleep would soon follow the silence.

Kagome's drooping eyelids flew open, sleep streaking away to be lost in the bitter dark.  She wasn't alone.

To Be Continued...

So, what does everybody think?  Is that okay for a beginning?