Unforgivable. Completely unforgivable. You guys should really flay me for how far behind I've slipped in my updates. It's utterly deplorable. ::bows her head in shame:: I can promise I will be quicker in my next update, though I can't give an exact time for when it will be. I am working on it!

Thanks everybody for reviewing, and for sticking with this story even though I am the worst when it comes to updating. I can't believe it took me this long to get around to the next chapter, but all I can do is apologize repeatedly. And hope this chapter is well-received...And apologize some more. I am so sorry.

Disclaimer: I own nothing. Had I owned it, my return from my prolonged hiatus probably would have been met with screams of breach of contract. And lawsuits. And many more not so pleasant things. This is why Rumiko Takahashi will forever own Inuyasha. ::pout::

It Changes Everything

Chapter Seven:

Wake-Up Call

Day 27: Waxing Gibbous

¤ ¤ ¤

Gods, what a wonderful girl she was.

She knelt there, the creaminess of her skin a lovely contrast between the pleated green folds of her short kimono, and the deeper green of the grass. The fire before her cast enticing shadows over the gentle curves of her face, warming the ebony of her hair with glowing touches of amber. Her eyes seemed darker against the shifting flame, but brighter at the same time. As if something was lighting her up from the inside.

His eyes instantly diverted to the brimming cup of Ramen she picked up, her delicate hand making a circular motion as she stirred the heavenly mixture with a pair of chopsticks. Steam rose up from it, teasing his sensitive nose with its divine aroma and making him salivate. His fingers twitched, in almost exactly the same way that a certain hentai monk's did in the company of pretty, young females.

"It's done, finally," she smiled. "I hope you like it."

Gimme, was all he could think as he reached out blindly for the hot dish.

That she promptly pushed into the hand of the Taiyoukai that was sitting cross-legged on her right.

Inuyasha sputtered, falling forward onto the ground. Wha?-Why?-How?-but most importantly--NO!!

Sesshoumaru glanced down curiously into the depths of Ramen. One eyebrow raised.

"Oh!" Kagome frowned prettily, as if just realizing something. "That nasty hanyou cut off your arm! Here, let me..." Leaning toward the youkai lord, she placed her left hand on his knee---to help balance herself, of course, and the other hand reached for the chopsticks, trailing slowly over his fingers to get to them. Her hair seemed longer as it swept forward to brush against the upper swell of her breasts. She lifted the chopsticks in her right hand, and Sesshoumaru caressingly grasped her wrist, obediently opening his mouth and letting her feed him. For some reason the action involved much tongue and gratuitous eye-holding.

Neither had even noticed Inuyasha yet, as the centre of their individual universes seemed to revolve entirely around the other.

And Inuyasha...Inuyasha hadn't noticed how close to the cheerful blaze he had fallen. A spark popped, landing squarely on the end of one of his silver locks. He squealed as his hair burst into flames, batting at it ineffectually with his clawed hand.

Kagome and Sesshoumaru continued on, absorbed in each other as if the screeching hanyou rolling on the ground before them didn't even exist.

Inuyasha's eyes blinked open as he heard something moving about inside the hut. When had he fallen asleep? Damn it, the last thing he remembered was thinking that no way was he gonna fall asleep before Sesshoumaru did. His glare immediately sought out that of his bastard half-brother's, reassuring himself that he was still in the tree across from him. He knew it wasn't the Taiyoukai moving around in the building beneathe him because of the same soft shuffling noise that had woke him. While the person inside was being quiet, they weren't being THAT quiet.

Sesshoumaru raised one eyebrow, letting Inuyasha know two things at once. One, he was well aware of the fact that it was barely dawn and someone was stirring within the hut. And two, not only had Inuyasha fallen asleep first, but Sesshoumaru hadn't slept at all. Meaning that for several hours Inuyasha had been completely vulnerable to his brother's superior speed and strength. Ha ha.

Inuyasha twitched.

Sesshoumaru's gold eyes flicked indifferently down to the village miko's door flap, suddenly reminding Inuyasha of the fact that he couldn't see the entrance from his place on the roof. The place that he had chosen. He gnashed his teeth together realizing Sesshoumaru was going to know who was stepping out a full three seconds before he did. And longer if the person chose to stand in the door way. Inuyasha's claws curled angrily into fists at his sides.

A soft rustle announced the lifting of the mat, and two seconds later a familiar dark head emerged, glancing stealthily about before tiptoeing towards the edge of the village, closest to the path that led only one place. The Bone-Eaters Well. In her hand she clutched a familiar yellow backpack, slipping a strap of it carefully over one shoulder so that the entire movement made little to no noise. It seemed she was very good at being quiet, when she wanted to be.

Inuyasha's eyes narrowed as his mind quickly forgot Sesshoumaru's presence nearby in favor of watching his miko sneak about, clearly wishing to avoid him. Where the hell did she think she was going?

¤ ¤ ¤

Kagome sighed, pressing both her palms into her eyes tiredly. Her sleep had been fitful at best, made more frustrating by the fact that some of the dreams that had been chasing her throughout the night were...more direct mirrors of reality than others. The worst came to her disguised by reality, but gradually shifted--dangerous images that played upon memory, with generous amounts of imagination.

In short, she didn't know how she was going to look at Sesshoumaru the same way again.

Sesshoumaru is a very gorgeous creature, even if he is a virtual popsicle, she reasoned, the darkness behind her eyes chasing with blue under the pressure. With as much as she had seen of him lately...

Hmmm, her hands slipped down until her fingers splayed both sides of her face, her wrists pressed together beneathe her chin. She stared up at the half-shadowed ceiling, her pupils huge as her eyes unfocused thoughtfully for one long second.

Ahem.

Oh. Yes, with as much as she had seen of him lately---she couldn't really be held responsible for what her subconscious mind chose to throw at her, now could she? She swallowed audibly, absently noticing how her throat moved beneathe her hands. It wasn't as if she wanted to remember (and expound) on how sleek and powerful he had looked under that harsh armor and all those misleading layers of white silk. Or how he had the most wonderfully defined chest, and a stomach that seemed smoothed for perfection, or how the very lines of his pelvic bones seemed to lead her eyes right down to---

Ahem!

Right, not responsible. Nope, not her. All his fault. His...

His...

Okay! Time to get up now, she thought frantically, throwing her sleeping bag to the side and kicking her legs free. It was obvious that she wasn't going to get back to sleep, so there really was no point for her to lie around and give herself more time to think. Thinking so very bad.

It was too dark for her to see her watch, but her internal clock told her it was some time in the early morning. She might as well head home and replenish her supplies since she hadn't got around to doing so yesterday (for obvious reasons. Naked youkai, unfortunately, being the first that came to mind). If she were lucky it would be early enough for her to sneak off before Inuyasha woke up. She'd just have to walk off the path long enough to cut around the Goshinboku, which was his usual perch when the group stayed in Kaede's village. Alright, piece of cake.

And hopefully she wouldn't run into Sesshoumaru. Pause. Gulp.

With that decision, and prayer, in mind she stepped carefully around her companions and picked up the yellow backpack she had dropped against the wall at least two days ago. With a deep, steadying breath she pushed open the flap just enough to slide through, glancing around to see if Inuyasha was nearby.

Satisfied the hanyou hadn't positioned himself in front of the hut like some territorial dog (if he even gave her the impression of lifting his leg she would so scream!), she slipped one strap of her bag over her shoulder and took three silent steps toward the well.

"Bitch!"

"Eee!" Kagome sprung back as a streak of crimson dropped from the sky above and directly into her path. The only thing that saved her from falling hard on her tail-end was the clawed hand that shot out and steadied her on her feet. His hand was much gentler than his voice.

"Where the hell do you think you're going?!"

So much for prayers. Hey, at least I haven't run into Sesshoumaru yet. Pulling free of Inuyasha's grip, she squared her shoulders and settled her hands defiantly on her hips. The hanyou instantly stepped back, the pose more familiar to him then he would have liked.

"I'm going home for a few hours, Inuyasha. There are some things I need to do," she answered quietly, the softness of her voice confusing him (that was her battle-stance, wasn't it?) until he realized that she was trying to not call on their sleeping friends attention.

Too bad he no such qualms himself.

"No you're not," he snapped, grasping Tetsusaiga at his hip, in a way that was more habitual than threatening. "We've been hanging around this damn village for almost a week now! There are shards out there, and Naraku, and you ain't gonna waste anymore of my freaking time! Do you hear me?!" He added that last when the girl in question suddenly closed her eyes and sighed.

Oh no, she didn't! It was time she realized just exactly who was in charge here!

"Go, miko, if that is what you wish," a cool voice cut Inuyasha off before he could begin his next round of berating.

Inuyasha whirled around and pointed one furious claw at Sesshoumaru, who had long since dropped out of the tree unnoticed. "Stay out of this, bastard!"

Kagome was surprised no doubt, but glad that someone was finally listening to her. It helped that she was too angry at the moment to question his motives as to why.

"Thank you, Sesshoumaru," she said pleasantly, thrusting her free arm through the other strap of her bag, "I'll see you later." And with that she trotted off towards the well before Inuyasha could react.

"Oi! Wha—get back—grrrr" Inuyasha's eyes snapped to the youkai lord and narrowed dangerously. Nobody came between him and Kagome---

"And don't fight with your brother while I'm gone, Inuyasha! Or I will know," she sang back sweetly.

---Except Kagome. Damn.

"It's my Ramen," he growled, tucking his hands stubbornly into the sleeves of his haori. And if his damn half-brother couldn't figure out that that meant Kagome belonged to him as well, then he was a lot stupider than he thought. And that was pretty damn stupid to begin with.

¤ ¤ ¤

Sesshoumaru stared after the miko, curious about both her and the strange yet slightly familiar world she truly belonged to. That is, until he heard Inuyasha's snarled remark.

What the hell is 'Ramen', he wondered as the hanyou leaped into the hut behind him to subtly take his frustrations out on his still sleeping, and utterly innocent, friends.

"Get up you damn bouzu! And stop touching her ass before she---"

WHAM

"Ow! Shit! Whatdidya hit me for?! He's the one you're supposed to hit!"

"Inuyasha," came the monk's sweetly smooth tone, "That is no way to speak to a Lady."

WHAM

THUMP

"And that is no way to be touching this lady, HENTAI!"

"Ha Ha," that was Inuyasha's slightly vindicated laughter, until...

CHOMP

"AHH! You little runt!"

"You made Kagome go away again, didn't you?! I'll never forgive you, you bastard!!"

CHOMPCHOMP

"Why you---!"

"Shippou! You shouldn't talk like---!"

CRASH

"Eeeee! Kagome!"

"Inuyasha!"

"I'm gonna---!"

"Whaaaa! Save me!"

"HENTAI!!!"

WHAM

"..."

"Ha. Ha Ha Ha!"

WHAM

"..."

"Baka hanyou."

"Shippou..."

"Eeep!"

A twitch of the door flap that was too sharp to be wind and the kitsune child went streaking past him into the woods as fast as his little paws would carry him.

A few minutes later the Taijiya emerged from the hut at a more leisurely pace, rotating her neck from side to side with a sigh. Hefting her bathing supplies in one hand and her obnoxiously large boomerang in the other, she nodded politely to Sesshoumaru as she passed him. No doubt on her way to the bathing spring. The neko youkai trotted after her, her black ears swiveling attentively to every sound, though the demon hunter seemed strangely more relaxed than Sesshoumaru had ever encountered her.

Turning back, the wind blew through his hair. The hut was eerily silent behind him.

TBC...

I am so so so sorry. Forgive me? ::big, watery Shippou-eyes:: Please????