Disclaimer: Don't own the charas as usual. Kaiya and Kaori are mine though.

Chapter 31

A few days had passed, and everything was going fairly well. Inuyasha and Sesshoumaru spent several hours in what used to be a strategic office their father once used whenever he consulted his advisors on matters concerning his lands. Now, the two half brothers spent hours discussing and debating what course of action to take against Naraku.

Inuyasha was torn, between going after Naraku now, or waiting until Kagome had her pup. But it would be a few months, of which Kaiya and Kaori would constantly be in danger. Then once the pup was born, who was to say he or she too wouldn't be a target? It had Inuyasha severely worked up, not that he couldn't be blamed.

On the other hand, the longer they waited, the stronger Naraku could and more than likely would grow. They still had the matter of the remaining jewel shards as well. But there was also a risk if they left the safety the Western Palace provided if they desired to search for them.

So day after day had passed, and still they were uncertain what their next move would be. After the third day, Kouga joined them in the discussions, if only to get away from the intoxicating spell Ayame's heat had over him.

"Damn it!" Inuyasha cried, slamming his fist unto the wooden table, scattering the papers on it around. "While we stay here, nice and cozy, Naraku is out there, collecting more jewel shards and getting even stronger!"

"Calm yourself. Would you rather risk your mate and pups's safety to search for them?" Sesshoumaru once more reminded him.

"Hnn." Kouga murmed, narrowing his blue eyes as he crossed his arms over his chest. "What if...hnn...it could work." He said to himself, as the two dog demons looked over at him.

"Say it already." Inuyasha snapped impatiently as the brown alpha male bared his fangs at him.

"I will if you'll keep your pants on Inukuro. Kagome isn't the only one who can sense the shards. Kikyo can as well, can't she?" Kouga asked, looking over at Sesshoumaru, who nodded silently.

"Well...why don't we split up? If only a few of us go off to find the shards, the rest of us can stay here and keep the others safe. Besides, If we keep moving around, it will distract Naraku of where we really are." Kouga said cooly.

"Yaseookami's got a point." Inuyasha said, looking at his brother for his reaction. After a few moments thinking it over, the elder youkai lord nodded his agreement.

"It is a very credible plan. But who will go? And who will stay?"

"Inukuro should stay with his mate and pups, naturally. And the monk isn't really much help other than his wind tunnel, which is useless against Naraku's insects anyway." Kouga said.

"Perhaps the female wolf should stay behind as well. I take it you intend to come on this venture?" Sesshoumaru asked as Kouga frowned to himself.

"Yea, I do. I don't know though. What about you?" He asked, looking up at him, as Sesshoumaru nodded.

"Rin will stay behind with Jaken. I will accompany you and the miko." Sesshoumaru said firmly. Inuyasha growled, not liking the idea of being left behind, but realizing he really didn't have much choice.

"Alright fine." Inuyasha said, walking past the two of them towards the door. "You should set off first thing in the morning."

"As long as they stay within the walls of the Palace, your family will remain safe Inuyasha." Sesshoumaru stated as the hanyou nodded.

"Let's get going already. The sooner we prepare the sooner we leave." Kouga said, disappearing out of the doorway, brushing past Inuyasha and down the hallway. After a moment, Inuyasha turned to look at his brother.

"You know she'll demand to tag along?"

"Indeed. I wouldn't expect her not to."

"I hate to admit it, but I've seen her fight. She'd be useful in a battle. But what do you think of the risk?" Inuyasha asked, narrowing his eyes curiously.

"A bitch's heat doesn't last more than three to five days depending. I imagine she'll be done with it soon enough. And it would be pointless to come back. When she asks, I will allow it." Sesshoumaru said evenly.

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Kouga was surprised to find Ayame wasn't in her room when he went to tell her that he'd be leaving the following morning. After scouting around for her, he finally followed her scent to the garden, leaning against a tree as he watched her playing with the two hanyou pups. The corner of his lips curled into a half smirk as he watched her tickle the silver haired little girl, before the twins teamed up on her, tackling her as she giggled in delight. He had to admit, it was an entertaining sight.

She finally seemed to notice someone watching her however, as she looked up over at him. He dug his nails into the palm of his hands as he picked up the increase in her scent. How the hell could she get turned on just by seeing him? He shook his head as he pushed off the tree he'd been previously leaning against, his arms crossed over his chest as he narrowed his eyes on her.

"Oi. I need to speak with you when you're done playing den mother." Kouga called. Immediately, the red head sat up, rising to her feet and dusting herself off as she frowned at him briefly before turning to smile at the twins.

"Sorry pups. We'll play later. Why don't you go find your mother?" Ayame suggested, ruffling Kaori's hair as they nodded, before they raced off out of the garden, leaving the two wolf demons alone. She lifted her head, narrowing her eyes slightly at him, her hands on her hips.

"I was just having fun with them. You didn't need to be so rude." She said as he smirked at her, raising an eyebrow.

"I wasn't rude, I was stating. Don't take it personally. Besides, you're good with them. You'll make a great mother." He added with a smirk. She blushed faintly, lowering her eyes to the ground at her feet as he walked over to her.

"You're not going to be happy about this...but Sesshoumaru, Kikyo, and myself are leaving in the morning. I want you to stay here with the others and help protect the pregnant females and the pups." He wasn't surprised to see the rising anger in her eyes as she snapped her head up to glare at him.

"And why can't I come with you?!" She demanded.

"Because, I don't need any distractions." He reminded her evenly.

"I won't be a distraction! I can help! I have every right to!" she said firmly, her eyes sparkling with determination.

"The hell you won't be Ayame. You're in HEAT remember?" Kouga snapped.

"You kept away from me for the last few days, so don't even start with that. Naraku is the reason several of my pack were killed remember? The reason my uncle is dead! I'm going and you're not gonna stop me!" She declared, baring her fangs at him.

Something snapped.

The next instant, he threw her against the tree, kissing her roughly, his hands holding her tightly against him as his claws dug into her hips. She gasped in surprise as he suddenly assaulted her with such a kiss, further more when he took advantage of it, his tongue pushing boldly into her mouth. Her eyes, which had snapped wide upon impact of his lips, slid closed as she wrapped her arms around his neck, returning the kiss with a fevored passion. Moments passed before he regained his composure and forced himself to break the kiss, removing his hand from its previous track up the side of her thigh beneathe her skirt as well.

"Damn it. I told you." He growled, nipping her nose. "When you go out of heat, then you can come ok?" He said as she frowned at him.

"What kind of fool do you take me for, Kouga? You won't come back until you've gotten the rest of the shards out there. That could take weeks. Maybe even months." She said with a frown. He groaned, rolling his eyes at her.

"What do you expect me to do Ayame?" He asked, narrowing his eyes on her, waiting for her answer.

"I....I don't know." She said, pushing past him and walking out of the garden, leaving him behind. He shook his head before growling in frustration loudly to himself. Wasting no more time, he too left the garden, deciding to return to his room.

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"Ayame? Can I talk to you?"

The woman in question looked up, looking over her shoulder at the demon exterminator standing in the open doorway of her bedroom. Ayame was surprised to see her, especially surprised that Sango would wish to speak to her about something to begin with, but nodded, patting the futon she was currently sitting on.

The pretty brunette smiled, stepping into the room, and shutting the door behind her, the soft click of the lock soon following. Ayame's curiousity sparked as she tilted her head to the side, making room as the girl walked over and took a seat next to her.

"I know these last few days surely have been difficult for you. And I know how much it means to you that Kouga has marked you as his soon to be mate. And well..." The woman trailed off, blushing lightly as she reached into the folds of her kimono, pulling out a small leather pouch. "I want you to have this."

Ayame blinked, both in surprise and curiousity at Sango.

"Why though?" She asked, eyeing the pouch curiously. Whatever it was that Sango intended to help her, she had a feeling it involved whatever was inside that small pouch.

"Because...I just do. Besides, it just bothers me seeing you pushed away by him. I went for years dealing with it with Kagome. But circumstances are different. Anyway...here." She said, taking the female wolf's hand and placing the pouch in her open palm. "Use it well."

"Um...what is it though?" Ayame asked, opening the pouch and sniffing its contents. It smelled sweet and flowerly. But it was a scent she didn't recognize. "What is it supposed to do?"

"It's the powder of a special flower that is used when a female is fertile and doesn't wish to conceive." Sango said. It took a moment for the click, but when it did, Ayame's face matched her hair perfectly, her eyes wide as she tried shoving it back at the exterminator.

"I can't!" She cried, throughly embarrassed. Sango smiled as she shook her head.

"Don't worry about it so much. Look there are no side effects to worry about either. Ayame, are you saying you would rather stay here while your mate goes off into danger?" Sango asked as Ayame sighed, shaking her head.

"Well no..but I don't want to...um...do this either." She said with a blush. "Kouga doesn't want to..."

"I learned many things in my training through my village about demons. I don't claim to be an expert, after all I'm not a demon myself. But I've heard how powerful youkai insticts can be." At the wolf princess's blush, she got her answer. "I won't take no for an answer. It's the least I can do. I know what it's like to be in love, and to have that always out of your reach." She said with a smile, before standing up and heading for the door.

"You don't have to use it Ayame. But if you do, you won't regret it." She said with a wink, before looking down at her own stomach. "Matter of fact, if I had used it when I should have, I wouldn't be in this predicament." She chuckled, rubbing her stomach idly before giving the red head one last smile before slipping out of the room.

Ayame looked down at the pouch in her hands, frowning as she looked at it, her brow wrinkled in thought. Would she use it? Would Kouga want her to use it? Would he be mad if she did? Would he be mad if she didn't? She sighed as she lay on her back on her bed, her eyes staring at the ceiling overhead as her thoughts raced.

What would she do?