A week passed, but still the gates of time remained uncrossed. After much badgering and lecturing that he was the only other one who could bridge the gap, the yasha begrudgingly went. Though he acted like this was a burden, his heart was a little worried about her condition. She was in bad shape when he returned home, but he wasn't totally worried. His respect for her strength and determination increased as she managed to fight, and fight VICTORIOUS, in a half-frozen body.

He was a little grateful she left a few things behind; it gave an excuse to make the journey. He didn't want her to think he needlessly worried over her well-being, though he did. But if he did and she knew it, he didn't want to make it a common occurrence! She was turning him weak and he already had a weak spot for Kikyou - if it kept up, he wouldn't be able to fight period.

Kaede wrapped everything in a cloth bundle and he tossed it over a shoulder. After waving off concerns that he find out what her condition was, Inuyasha left Kaede's hut and bounded for the well. In the span of a few minutes, he crossed the forest and stood on the lip of the still snow-shrouded well. He stared down for a split second, mentally hoping she had a good explanation for being away so long, before jumping inside for Kagome's time.

The smell of snow greeted his nose and Inuyasha cleared the well in a single jump. He crept up the few steps and peeked out wood doors, seeing a light dusting of snow covering the ground. His eyes darted across every possible area to see if he'd be spotted before rocketing to the house. He hid behind part of the wood, then jumped for the floor Kagome was on. He balanced on the lip of the roof and peeked in. There was a lump in Kagome's covers. His ears picked up a slow, steady heartbeat. Scowling in irritation, though he was curious if Kagome was still healing, he quietly slid the door open.

The wind blew in with him, bitter enough to lower the temperature. He hurriedly closed the window to keep from waking her, which he didn't want to do if she was as bad as when he left her. The term frostbite was unknown to him as the intricacies of its condition. He stood and watched slow breathing form for signs of awareness, but she slept on. A black brow twitched as he stopped in front of her bed. His eyes narrowed. 'Namakemono...' It was almost high noon!

Kagome suddenly shifted and gave a quiet mewl. He blinked and leaned over a little in curiosity. His eyes twinged in minute worry at seeing her eyes screwed tight. What was she dreaming about that was so bad?

It was a horrible feeling she couldn't escape. Though she'd been through just as bad with other youkai and trying situations, she'd never been buried alive. It would haunt her for a long time. The feelings she went through wouldn't easily leave. They imprinted themselves when the situation was most dire...when she worked so hard and finally passed out.

It seemed her mind liked to torment her most in her dreams. She was always fighting to keep digging and going through the knowledge her feet and hands were freezing - as she was going through now. It was always the same dream. She woke and, after emotions played out, started digging. But instead of going up, she couldn't go anywhere but straight. Her intent was always to find the others and make sure they were okay, but she kept making a path to the yuki youkai.

As if he saw her coming, the youkai's hands appeared and grabbed her wrists, blue eyes opening. It was easy for him to hide against snow and she never knew where he was. Those eyes crinkled with a malicious smile as his hand reached up with the intent of taking the shikon no kakera around her neck. She trembled as that three-fingered hand rose. It halted in front of her face...moved a little forward...and tapped her on the shoulder, almost in irritation.


The tapping soon turned to small nudging hand on her shoulder. What was going on?? Normally the youkai grasped the kakera and hissed... "Okiru!"

Yes, get up. No, wait...it said DIE, not...

"Get up Kagome!" He pressed, still shaking her shoulder. He knew he had to wake her by the shallow way she was breathing. He was a little relieved when her body stirred. "Wake up. Oi!"

She quickly sat up and looked around, shouting in surprise. A hand grabbed her pillow and swung hard, managing to hit something at close range. A yawn stopped another swing and her free hand rubbed her eyes. She dropped the pillow on her lap and stretched, then stopped and winced. Her aches were still plaguing her and a single week wasn't going to heal her to her old self. One hand scratched her hair as she blinked again. "Eh? Inuyasha? What are you doing here??"

He met Kagome's innocent eyes and gave her an odd look. Her sudden hit was unexpected and smacked him on the side of his face. If she needed proof she hit him, all she had to see was his tousled hair. His eyes narrowed, hands and teeth clenching. "Y - you..." He sputtered, glaring.

Kagome's eyes widened and she flushed a little in embarrassment. "Ah heh... Gomen. I hit you?" She flashed an apologetic smile before turning to him. "What are you doing here?"

His brow twitched at her casual, pleasant tone. Why didn't he ever learn? Every time he tried to watch her as she slept or observed, she always woke up hitting him! His usual scowl popped up. "What are you still doing in bed?! Morning is almost gone!" He snapped. A hand whipped behind and pulled the cloth bundle from around his arm. "Yours." He dropped the bundle on her bed and turned for the window. "Since you're apparently well enough, stop being so lazy and come back so we can get those shikon no kakera."

His whirlwind exit was nearly complete. She barely had time to gain her sleepy wits and form questions. "H - hey!" Hands grabbed blanket and pulled it aside. She shot to her feet and realized her mistake. She was having problems with circulation and her right food didn't hold. With a startled cry, she crumpled to the floor.

"Kagome!" He had plenty of time to see the whole thing and rushed over. He mentally cursed himself for not being faster to catch her and gripped her arms, helping her sit up. He met her eyes with a confused blink. "What was that?"

She fought an embarrassed blush and reached for her foot. She scowled at it and slowly massaged the instep. "As you see Inuyasha, I CAN'T go back just yet. I'm not healed." She pulled the foot over a knee and touched the toes for circulation. "Sometimes I can't feel my toes and there's been days when a few of my fingers will lose some of the feel. My cheeks have tingled from the incident."

"Why didn't you tell me that then??" He snapped, worry unknowingly flashing in his eyes.

Kagome's eyes flashed as hands continued to massage. "You didn't give me the chance to SAY anything!" She retorted, scowling.

Gold rolled in annoyance. "Mou...you're so slow." In a split second, as if proving his point, he reached down and picked her up. She managed to get out a gasp at being suddenly cradled in his arms before deposited on top of her covers. "There." He plopped down next to her and put hands in the haori folds. "Why haven't you sought treatment for that??"

Kagome huffed and crossed her arms. "It's been a week, baka! You can't expect something of this magnitude to go away by then! My condition was severe - I'm lucky to have my hands and feet!"

"How was Isupposed to know??" He snapped back, glaring. "I don't even know what a week is!"

Kagome sighed and closed her eyes. "You're so clueless..." She muttered, shaking her head.

Inuyasha suddenly looked behind him, an ear twitching toward the door. It peeked open and he blinked in wonder. "Hm?"

"Neesan, what's going on? Okaasan said she heard yelling." Souta stopped inside and blinked. "Eh? Inu-oniisan?? What are YOU doing here?"

"Everything's fine Souta." Kagome answered, waving away his questions.. "Why don't you head back downstairs." Souta blankly stared for a second before doing as told.

Gold looked back to brown a little bewildered. "What the hell was that?" He asked, giving an odd look.

Her head tilted in confusion. "What was what?"

"On his head."

Her face practically lit up. "Oh! It's Christmas!"

He blankly looked back, dumbly blinking. "Kurisumasu?"

Kagome's head bobbed. "Hai! It's a special day; a day for giving, and spending time with the family."

He leaned forward a little in curiosity. "Is this a recent tradition?"

Her eyes turned to the ceiling as she thought. A finger tapped cheek as she tried to find the easiest way to explain an entirely different religious belief. "Ano...this day marks the birth of a very important person a very long time ago. It was a person born far away from here."

"Eh? Youkai?" He queried, raising a brow.

A hand went to her shoulder and absently rubbed it. She was going to need another hot soak to help ward off some of these reoccurring aches. They struck at the most inopportune times. She was lucky to be on beak for a few more days. Too bad about homework though... "This person was human. Not hanyou even - one hundred percent human. He was very powerful and helped many people. Many followed him...but not everyone. He died for his beliefs, but this day is still celebrated. A lot of people in this world celebrate his life and worship him and practice what he believed."

Gold left brown and looked to her shoulder. "Are you in pain?" His head tilted a little.

She immediately let up and waved hands to ward off his concern. "It's nothing." She smiled, but he didn't look convinced. "I'm. Fine." She slowly reiterated. "I already told you I have problems with my hands...I'm a little achy right now. All I need is a hot bath and I'll be okay."

His lips pursed, almost in a pout. "Are your hands fine now?"

Kagome flexed the hand that rubbed her shoulder. She sighed and looked at it. The stress from her joints dropped circulation to a tingle. She scowled and rubbed fingers together. "Well, my right hand has gone bad again. Guess I'll have to soak it after you -" She stopped short and looked to gold in shock as he rested her hand in his and poked her palm with a claw.

He was confused and also curious how her hands could go numb so quickly. Her skin looked whiter than normal and his head drooped for a closer look. He watched his claw poke unflinching fingers. He knew his claws were sharp to a degree and yet this didn't even register. Odd. "You can't even feel THIS?" He asked, looking up. He gave an innocent, confused blink at the wide-eyed look on her face. "What?"

Kagome felt her heart racing and hoped Inuyasha couldn't hear, though he probably could. She didn't expect such intimate contact and was highly aware of how close they were sitting and that one of her knees was touching his. "Ah..." She stuttered, heart speeding up. She flushed and snatched her hand back, flexing her fingers. "I'll - I'll be okay." She got off the bed with need to put some distance between them. She was still unsure and confused about her feelings toward him. She stopped in front of her dresser and stared at the surface. Eyes landed on the brush and she picked it up with an idea. A smile lit her face as she turned and headed back to bed. "Arigatou for bringing my things back." She muttered, folding her legs again. She looked into his eyes and smiled brighter. "In the spirit of today, turn around and I'll brush your hair."

A brow raised as he scoffed. "Don't need it." His head turned to the side, as if ignoring her offer. "It's stupid."

"Onegai Inuyasha? This is my gift to you." She reiterated, giving him a mildly pleading look. She didn't want him to go just yet.

After a brief silence, Inuyasha heaved a sigh and twisted to give her access to his mane. He went back to cradling Tetsusaiga and scowled. Why couldn't he say no to her?? "Fine. Whatever." He grumbled. "But when your hand starts hurting, don't cry to ME about it."

She fought a smirk at his lack of conviction. She reached down and grabbed the end, carefully and diligently working her way up. It was a hard process, since Inuyasha never combed his hair. She tried to be gentle whenever she hit a snag, though she knew he wouldn't complain. Even if he did, he would snap more out of irritation than anger.

She kept a slow pace and had no clue exactly what it was doing to him! He was fighting to keep posture straight, even if his eyes closed long ago. His drooped ears were the only outward sign she was affecting him so greatly. Such a simple action, yet it felt so heavenly. She was going so carefully, as if she was afraid to hurt him. By the time she was halfway up, his posture unknowingly slouched.

She felt peaceful and happy being able to do this. She slowly changed to kneeling stance the farther to his scalp she got. He was just too tall for this - she should've made him sit on the floor. His body slouched back and bumped against her, startling her, but she shrugged it off and widened her stance to hold him. By the time she finished to his bangs, her face was the epitome of serene. Her aches felt less by just being able to do this. She ran the brush the whole way through to make sure everything was smooth. A hand ran down to feel his hair and slowly, fingers brushed through it. She quietly dropped the brush on the bed and ran her other hand through. Not long after that, fingers took to gently massaging his scalp, nails lightly scratching.

There was a noise that hit his ears and Inuyasha barely recognized it was coming from him. Her nails slowly moved around his head, finally stopping to scratch his ears. They reflexively twitched and broke the spell. The second fingers left and her weight shifted, his eyes popped open. He scowled to the point of a pout and blinked to focus his eyes as she kneeled in front of him. His posture straightened. "Eh?"

Her hand raised with a smile as she wagged the brush at him. "Almost done. Just need to get the rest." She reached for a tuft and gently started on the bottom, knowing he wouldn't complain. The utterly relaxed look in his face gave her the go-ahead.

He couldn't help but stare at her face as it concentrated on her task. The tiniest bit of a smile broke out over his controlled face. This was nice and so utterly simple. The longer he was around Kagome, for whatever reason, the more he accepted and liked their time together. Even though Kikyou's reincarnation, Kagome was her own person and he was quickly finding that out. All of her habits and inane quirks weren't so bothersome.

She finished both tufts and gently pushed his head down to get his bangs. She couldn't help but think about the simplistic romance of this time together. Since they never interacted like this in the other era, this was such an endearing, intimate gesture for her. Any other time, physical contact or nearness was in battle. This meant a lot to her. Too bad she was finished. She gave the brush a final stroke and tapped it against his head. "All done." He looked up and her bedroom light caught the sheen to newly-brushed hair. She beamed and reached up to rub her fingers through. "Pretty!" She gaily announced, happy with her work.

Her comment got a modest blush, but Inuyasha covered his shyness with a non-threatening growl and ducked his head. "Stop! You just went through all that time to mess it up again?? Baka!" He gave a small glare and tried to will the heat from his cheeks.

She knew he didn't mean it by the way he wouldn't look her in the eye. She gave him a half-hearted, apologetic smile and slid off the bed. "Gomen." She mused, returning the brush to its spot. She quietly giggled at the amount of silver hairs now meshed with the bristles. She'd leave it for now and clean it later.

As Kagome plopped back in front of him again, an idea came up. He decided to act on it before taking the coward's way out and keeping quiet. "Turn around." She gave him a confused look and his brow twitched. "You heard me, turn around." A hand left his sleeves and lightly pinched her shoulder. "Your muscles are too tight. Probably from taking all that time combing my hair."

Her head shook. "My arms needed the exercise. It's okay, really." She insisted, feeling her heart speed up. Inuyasha was stubborn and the chances of her giving in were likely.

He gave a small scowl. "Nonsense. Since you gave me a gift, think of it as my return to yours." His chin tilted a little from the win when Kagome gave a tiny nod and slowly presented her back. He shifted to kneeling and set Tetsusaiga next to him. After draping all her hair over one shoulder, being mindful of his claws, hands slowly worked the back of her neck.

She tried to keep from tensing up over this sudden event, but quickly relaxed as strong hands worked the kinks out of her neck. Her head lowered a little to give more access, a hand reaching to keep her hair in place. His thumbs made slow circles in between her shoulder blades...pressing a little too hard for comfort. Her body jerked as he hit a bad spot, grimacing a little.

Inuyasha immediately let up and paused. "What?"

"No," She quietly reassured, "just hit a bad spot." She cast a quick smile over her shoulder to ease his worry. "You forget I'm not as strong as you are."

Which was the nicest way she could say 'ease up'. He had to disagree with her statement though - if not physically, her other traits made up for it. He continued, but forced himself to be more gentle to keep her pain minimal. He used fingers, knuckles, and palms in nonsense techniques from neck to mid back and arm to arm. He made sure to watch his strength and kept eyes on her back for signs of pain.

If things kept going as they were, she doubted she'd need that hot bath later! Her body felt so loose and unrestricted and she could feel some of the tingling leave her fingertips. This backrub was something she needed. She didn't know Inuyasha was so good at them, but he had strong hands, so it made sense. This was so relaxing. So...

He kept moving thumbs in circular patterns in between her shoulder blades. She seemed to store a lot of pressure there and it took a little bit to loosen the tension there. Everywhere else was okay. He could honestly stop at any time, figured this his only chance to do this. Not to mention he felt a little guilty upon seeing Kagome fall to the floor. These problems came as a result of getting stuck in that snowstorm...one he didn't want to wait out. Some of Kagome's aches were his fault. A scowl marked his serene face. He startled when Kagome's head suddenly lolled forward. Fearing he let his strength hurt her again, hands withdrew and he was suddenly presented with her body as it fell and rested against his chest. Feeling his face flame to the roots of his ears, eyes unbelievably wide, a hand gently shook her shoulder. "O...oi!" All he received was a quiet groan. His ears picked up slow breathing and flipped in annoyance. He scowled in minute irritation.

He sighed and slowly shook his head, casting it aside. Kagome needed more rest anyway. With a gentle grip on her shoulders, he carefully scooted off the bed and pulled her up to her pillow. He covered her again and remembered doing so a mere week ago. 'Like taking care of a baby.' He sourly mused. He deposited Tetsusaiga against his hip and stared down, slowly losing his bad mood. If he helped, then that's all that mattered.

His eyes softened though the hint of a smile. "Meri Kurisumasu Kagome. Sleep well." Her head unconsciously snuggled into her pillow, as if answering him, and he gave an amused grunt. "Namakemono..." He muttered, heading back to his own time.

I am a BEGINNER Japanese learner...so if these are not 100 correct...please let me know if you care to do so. I only have a web page to learn from, a dictionary, and a few months experience to work with.
Namakemono-Lazy (person) Yuki youkai-Snow youkai Okiro-Wake up! Oi-Hey Gomen-(I'm) Sorry Mou-Really Baka-Idiot/Moron/Dope/etc Neesan-Older sister Okaasan-mom/mother -Oniisan-Older brother Youkai?-Was he Youkai?