Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha.

Author's Notes: I wrote this story as a rebuttal of sorts for those fics that touch on this subject. A couple of the stories were well written but most on the whole seemed to be an excuse for over-aggressive lustfulness. I think they have it wrong.

*****WARNING***** While this story isn't a true lemon, it does have more than citrus leanings. In addition, there are graphic battle and gore scenes described.


To Tame a Wild Heart

By Merith


Kagome ran home as fast as her feet could take her. Because one of her teachers asked her to stay after class, she was running late, again. She had missed so many days this past month and had so much to make up. He offered her extra credit homework as well as a make up test. The test she had to take then knowing it put her behind her tight schedule. She felt good though, knowing with the teacher's help she would pass the class.

She cringed thinking of what Inuyasha would say. He would not be kind or considerate; he never was. He didn't understand why she had to take these tests and barely tolerated her coming home to visit her family. She ran up the steps leading to the shrine; daily practice making quick work of them. Entering the house, she kicked off her shoes before hollering a quick hello to her mother as she passed.

"Kagome, Inuyasha is here." Her mother said coming out from the kitchen. Her daughter was already closing the door to her room and missed the announcement.

Kicking the door shut with her foot, Kagome tossed her backpack down pulling off her blouse at the same time. She needed to hurry before he came to get her. It wasn't that she didn't want to see him again; he just got so pompous when he did. Like she couldn't do anything on her own without him. She was in the process of slipping out of her skirt when a noise caught her attention. She whirled and her jaw dropped. Inuyasha sat braced against the wall in the corner by her desk staring at her, his eyes wide. She hadn't seen him upon entering the room.

Color flamed her cheeks. "SIT!!" she screamed crossing her arms over her chest.

::THUD!!:: He went down face first into the carpet. "BITCH!" He shouted. "I didn't do anything. What was that for?" Though his face bore the blush he sported, he knew why she had. She always sat him during embarrassing situations regardless of who was at fault. He knew he wasn't being exactly fair, he didn't have to look after all.

Kagome sputtered as she pulled her shirt on. He was right of course, but still… "You could have said something! I was changing and you saw me!" She refused to look at him as he rose and walked out of the room.

"Keh. As if I want to look at you." He cast at her before slamming the door.

Listening to his quick light footsteps tread down the stairs, she sighed suddenly unhappy. 'It's not that I want him to look at me, but I would like him to want to look at me.' Shaking those thoughts from her mind, she changed into a clean skirt and socks before snatching up her bag once again.

Down in the living room, Inuyasha sat on the floor playing with Buyo. Kagome paused in the doorway to watch. The dog boy seemed to have some fascination with the family cat. He spent quite a bit of time playing with him while visiting in her time. Her stare caught his attention, like it always did. He scowled noticing her look. He hated nothing worse than someone thinking he was soft, and her looks catching him in those brief tender moments inevitably set him off.

"You ready yet? You're late and we'll have to travel half the night to catch up as it is."

She sighed. He never gave in. "Let me pack some supplies and then we can go." She said softly.

He followed her to the kitchen and helped load his favorite, ramen. She added a small bag of treats for Shippou, bottles of water, a few cans of soda, a couple bags of chips and some fruit. It wasn't nearly enough for an extended stay, but would do for a couple of days. They had been lucky lately in finding houses or inns to stay in. Since Naraku's disappearance, the hidden youkai and oni have made their way out. No longer did Miroku have to lie to secure nightly lodgings and food.

"Will you stay for dinner?" Mrs. Higurashi asked. She held up a piece of steak she'd just teriyaki fried.

Inuyasha's ears twitched. He loved her mother's cooking and enjoyed a lot of the foods from her time. Without looking at Kagome, he announced, "Since we're so late anyway, a few more minutes won't hurt." He sat at the table waiting for the family to come and the food to be served.

Kagome let out a silent sigh of relief. She had wanted to stay for dinner. She was hungry but didn't think he'd let her stop to eat once they were through the well. Setting her pack aside, she went to help her mother finish making dinner and set the table.

As she and her mother worked with practiced ease around each other at the stove, Kagome felt a prickling on the back of her neck. Turning slightly, she caught Inuyasha watching them; his face held an expression she'd never seen on him before. He saw her and changed into his customary scowling look. Her brows furrowed briefly before turning back to her work.

Dinner was over quickly, Inuyasha on his feet and ready to go. Kagome helped clear the table and started to wash dishes. Her mother waved her off. "I'll do these later, dear. It seems Inuyasha is impatient to leave." She gave him a smile and her daughter a hug. "Bye and have fun!"

Knowing that was the cue to leave, Inuyasha picked up the pack and slinging it over his shoulder, he headed out the door. If Kagome ever thought about her mother's customary call, she would have laughed. Her travels through the well had brought her a lot of adventures, allowed her to meet many people, and develop friendships she never would have, but fun wasn't really what they were after. Fun was a rare commodity while hunting for shards or chasing after Naraku. It was too dangerous to have fun.

Inuyasha began to curse the moment they popped out of the well. It was raining and raining hard. "See what you did!" He shouted.

"I didn't do anything to cause it to rain baka!" She shouted back, wishing she had thought to bring a jacket. Already her hair was plastered to her head, and her clothes soaked. It was going to be a long night.

His mood softened looking at her. Grumbling, he squatted down for her to climb on his back. "Come on. It will be faster this way. I just hope we can find Miroku and Sango in this." He said calmly, not wanting to argue.

After adjusting her pack on her shoulders, Kagome climbed on his back and settled against him. His body heat leaked through his kimono and warmed her from the rain. As he alternately leaped and loped through the forests and fields, she was soothed into a half-doze.

Inuyasha smirked feeling Kagome relax against him. He would never admit it, but he enjoyed carrying her. Holding her against him fulfilled a need he buried deep inside. Knowing she trusted him enough to sleep while he ran through these wild places filled him with a contented arrogance; her life was in his hands. He admitted he would always protect her even at the cost of his own life. Each time she confirmed her belief in him, she weaved her soul a little tighter into his own.

The attack came as a complete surprise. Inuyasha had been running through a particularly dense part of forest when a sudden blow knocked him sliding, Kagome on his back. He had instinctively rolled to keep from landing on her, hitting the ground hard and throwing her from him. For a moment, he only saw mud. He jumped to his feet pulling Tetsusaiga from its scabbard and looked around for his attacker.

Strolling causally towards him were two youkai in human form. One carried a large trident looking weapon, the other a sword. They both sported grins and one laughed looking at him. "Look what we caught here brother. A filthy half-breed and his woman. What say we have some sport before we kill them?" The taller youkai carrying the trident sneered.

Inuyasha risked a glance behind him to see where Kagome was, and if she was all right. His heart thumped painfully when he saw her. Her body lay crumpled at the base of a tree several feet behind him; she didn't appear to be moving. Snarling, he faced the two brothers, taking a step back to keep them from reaching Kagome.

"Keh! You bastards! You will be the ones to die!" He started to swing Tetsusaiga in the Kaze no Kizu as the brother with the trident weapon blasted its power at him. A blazing bolt of energy flew from the trident's tip and though he dodged the main force, Inuyasha was hit with its wash. It threw him back to the ground, stunned and bleeding.

"Nice hit Oolnya, brother." The youkai with the sword crowed. "Hit him again while I check out this human he carries." He began to glide over to Kagome.

Instantly on his feet, Inuyasha slashed out at the trident, knocking it out of his path. He jumped in front of Kagome, and faced the brother. "Stay away from her!" He snarled. "Keep your attention on me!" He swung Tetsusaiga towards the youkai when another blast from the trident hit him. He flew back, landing next to Kagome, loosing his hold on his sword.

Kagome woke when she felt Inuyasha hit her. Seeing him lying there bleeding, she cried out, "Inuyasha!" His eyes flickered as he fought to stay aware and conscious. Hearing laughter behind her, she jumped to her feet, standing over Inuyasha. She pulled her bow around and notched an arrow facing the two youkai.

The youkai welding the trident chuckled evilly. "She looks tasty brother. I shall have fun with her before you eat her." He licked his lips and stepped closer.

"Don't come near us!" She shouted over the rain. She glanced down at Inuyasha, silently urging him to get up. Standing over him, protecting him as much as she could, her arm shook, her vision blurred. She shot off an arrow as they moved closer. Its powerful light gleamed in the darkness, blinding those in the small clearing. It glanced off the arm of Oolnya, causing him to drop his trident, evaporating what it touched.

Oolnya screamed and stared in shock at his arm. It now ended in a stump just below his shoulder. "My arm brother! My arm!!" He grimaced. "The pain!!" He screamed again.

Bringing his sword up, his brother yelled, "You bitch! Now you die!" Charging forward, he swung. Kagome screamed and ducked down.

Inuyasha was there, growling manically. He leapt over Kagome's bent form and sliced his claws through the youkai's arm, sending it flying through the air along with the sword. A roaring in his ears screamed for him to kill, to take out the threat to his life. He advanced on the screaming youkai, ready to strike again. With the loss of Tetsusaiga, Inuyasha had reverted to his youkai form.

A cry from behind caused him to whirl around. He watched as the other youkai raked his remaining claws down the girl's shoulder. Anger surged through him. In the chaos of his mind, as familiar as she was, he didn't recognize her. She stood over him and protected him while he was down. Her scent was so ingrained in his senses, to his fever raging mind, he knew they had to be mates. Mates took care of one another.

The girl collapsed in the mud holding her bleeding shoulder, crying. Snarling his fury, Inuyasha leapt in the air, coming down on the youkai, his claws twin blades razing through flesh, flinging blood in the air. In less than a heartbeat, he leapt in the air again, coming down on the other youkai, ripping and clawing him to pieces. He stood breathing hard, growling, his blood raging, wanting something else to kill. He looked from one youkai to the other. Both were torn apart, no life left to their flesh. The blood smell thick in the air, their blood mingling with the mud and rain on the ground.

A whimpering cry drew his attention. The girl… the one who fought over him, lay bleeding. Her cries disturbed him and his ears flattened on his head. He grew angry with the attackers again, and hurled a large chuck of one through the air, growling loudly. The girl's blood smell clouded his senses, her cries bringing feral protectiveness out in him. He turned to her. She was his mate and needed his care.

He crouched low over her, growling softly, sniffing at her wound. It was deep and bleeding profusely. The girl lost consciousness with a soft sigh. He nosed the pack she carried, making the connection this belonged to her and posed no harm. His attention drawn to the wound on her shoulder; the blood still flowed thickly, mixing with the rain and mud on the garments she wore. Growling softly, he lifted her in his arms, holding her close to his chest. He ran through the forest, looking for a place out of the rain, looking for a den.

Drawing closer to the hills some distance from where the youkai attacked, he spotted an opening in the hill's rocky face and ran towards it. The cave was small but large enough for the both of them. He dropped her pack and laid her in the back of the cave. Standing, he shook off the rainwater. The girl whimpered, her face pale, her body shivering.

Inuyasha's mind clouded with confusion. His instinct was to protect this girl, his mate, to take care of her. His anger at her injuries made him want to rip and kill, to satisfy a desire to destroy something for his mate's pain.

Testing the cave floor, he discovered a soft spot of sand, and dug a shallow impression. Needing to line it, he searched the cave and while discovering wood stacked against the rock wall, there was nothing to soften the nest. He sniffed at her pack and dumped it out on the cave floor. Pulling the large fluffy material from it, he unfolded it to cover the depression, making a good nest for his mate.

He went to the girl and carried her to the hollow. He laid her down gently, his brows knitting in concern. She whimpered again, pulling her knees to her chest, shivering in cold. Inuyasha perched over her, licking her cheek and nuzzling her neck. Her skin was cold and clammy. Somewhere in his mind the thoughts clicked and he knew he had to remove the tattered garments she wore. They were wet and cold, making her colder. His claws sliced quickly through the material, being careful of her skin. He tossed them aside before turning back to his mate. She still shook.

He rose and pulled his clothing from his body, throwing it aside with hers. Lying behind her, he pulled her close, offering his warmth. He wrapped his legs around hers, arms locked around her body. He licked her face, her neck and shoulder where he could reach without moving her. As soon as she stopped shivering, he would take care of her. Her wound still bled, but it had slowed to the point he wasn't as concern about them.

When at last she sighed and fell to a deep sleep, her body warm and comforted, he released her. Poised above his mate, Inuyasha gazed at her wounds. Four raking claws marks marred her skin from the top of her left shoulder to her chest, stopping short of her breast. He growled softly at the sight. His mate was hurt and he didn't protect her. He nuzzled her cheek, licked her mouth, offering his comfort and sorrow for her pain. Seeing she was truly sleeping, he began to cleanse her wounds and body. His tongue worked quickly, lapping up the blood. He licked each gash until no more blood flowed; his saliva added its own special healing properties to her system.

After her wounds were taken care of, he continued to lick her body clean. She smelled of fresh blood and if he didn't clean her, it could attract unwanted attention. As he licked her breast, her nipple hardened and she moaned softly. He looked up at her face, a sudden need built inside him. She slept, unaware of her body's reaction. He gave her nipple another lick and noticed her scent changed. She responded to his touch and this pleased him. A rumbling purr generated in his chest showing his satisfaction. The vibration from his purr seemed to comfort her and her body relaxed even more.

Raising himself above her, he looked over her body. He leaned over to lick spots clean, sniffing as he went. Sniffing between her legs, he paused. The difference in her scent generated from this point. He parted her legs and inhaled. His brows furrowed in confusion. She was his mate, but he could smell she hadn't been taken. He didn't know why he hadn't mated with her.

With her scent heavy in his senses, he felt himself harden, and his need rise. He snuffled in her furry bush, blowing softly and soaking up her scent. He licked at her center wanting her taste. She moaned and shifted, crying out suddenly as her movement pulled at her wounds. He frowned slightly. She was in no condition to mate; he would have to put his need on hold.

Her body clean, he laid behind her again, pulling her against his chest. One arm circled under her, holding her below her breasts, the other draped across her stomach, hand splayed over her womb. He licked her neck, and gently bit her shoulder, drawing blood and licking it off. Warm and content, satisfied his mate would live and was for the moment safe and out of pain, he slept.

Kagome woke with a start. Her body ached and her head throbbed. She could feel warmth at her back and an unfamiliar weight around her waist and legs. She forced her eyes open and tried to focus. She could feel her sleeping bag under her, but didn't recognize where she was. The thought she was in a rock room crossed her mind before logic took over. 'It must be a cave.' Her lids drooped. She felt so tired and sore. She tried to sit up, tried to remember what happened and how she got where she was. The weight at her waist held her down. She looked to see what it was.

Her first thought was how hairy her arms appeared before she realized they belonged to Inuyasha. Her second thought was the feeling of her bare skin on his, and how close he was pressed against her. Not understanding how they could have gotten into this position, she tried to pull away from him. His arms tightened, holding her close. A very un-Inuyasha growl at her ear frightened her.

"Inuyasha?" She asked tentatively, trying to peer over her shoulder. As he sat up to look at her, her fear spiked, causing her to pull back. His eyes glowed their wild red color; his cheeks held the bright magenta stripes, and his fangs had elongated to lie over his lip, all pointing to Inuyasha's youkai form. "Inu…yasha?" She asked again, more urgently.

Inuyasha tightened his hold on his mate. He could hear her speak and her scent flooded with fear. His confusion rose. Why would his mate fear him? He nuzzled her cheek, growling softly, reassuring her of his presence. Her eyes widened and she looked frantically around for escape. He frowned. She was not supposed to act this way. He was her mate and she had to accept his position. Facing her, he bit down on her nose gently, holding her still and in place.

Kagome froze. Inuyasha bit her. He bit her on the nose even. It didn't really hurt it just surprised her. When he released her nose, he licked it. He licked her lips and nuzzled her cheek again. She was confused but her fear began to ebb away. This youkai Inuyasha seemed to care for her. He confirmed the idea as fact when he began to look over her wounds. He sniffed and licked them softly. She gasped as pain shot through her body. He stopped and looked up at her. Her eyes were shut tight, closed against the pain.

"Please stop, Inuyasha. It hurts… it hurts." Tears leaked from her eyes.

He licked at her tears, nuzzling her cheek, snuffling her neck, offering comfort the only way he could. Her eyes opened and his clouded in concern. Her eyes were glassy and she felt unnaturally warm. He could tell her wounds were the cause for both the pain and heat running through her body, but without licking them, he didn't know what else he could do. Sitting up, he pulled her gently into his lap, and held her. Her head tucked up under his chin at his neck, his arms wrapped around her, her legs enclosed within his. He rocked her body with his, swaying slightly to his internal rhythm, a reverberating purr in his chest lulling her back to sleep.

When she slept again, he lay her back in the nest, pulling the material closer around her. He rose, and giving her one last look, he left the den. The rain still fell, but he didn't let that hinder him. He needed to hunt to feed himself and his mate. She would need something fresh and rich to replenish what she lost.

Not far from the entrance, he flushed out birds roosting in a bush. A quick swipe from his claws brought both down. Ripping into them, he pulled the meat from their bones and ate it raw. His immediate hunger assuaged, he hunted for his mate.

Kagome woke feeling chilled. She looked around for Inuyasha and found him missing. Her teeth chattered, but her body felt hot. She knew she was running a fever and needed to get medicine from her pack. Looking down, the realization she was naked hit her again. Her mind couldn't fathom how she got into that state or why she didn't seem to mind. For some reason, it didn't bother her; other than she was cold and needed to cover up.

Behind the hollow she was in, she spotted her clothing wadded in a heap. Crawling to it, she discovered them ripped to shreds. Between her injuries and Inuyasha, there wasn't much left. Inuyasha's clothes lay next to her own. She slipped into his shirt that was dry enough to help fight the chill she felt.

The items in her pack lay scattered on the floor in the back of the cave. She was able to find matches and her first aid kit. Opening the kit, she swallowed aspirin with water from one of the bottles she brought. The water tasted good. She drank more before putting it back. She pulled some papers from a notebook, and took a small pile of firewood and kindling back to the nest. She made a small pit and began to build a fire. It took her shaking hands several minutes to light a fire and for the wood to catch. When it began to burn brightly, she curled up in the sleeping bag, and fought to keep her shivering under control.

Inuyasha returned to find her slumped over in the nest. He sniffed at the fire and decided it was good. Its warmth would help his mate. He laid the rabbits down away from the fire and shook the water from himself. Dropping down next to her on the nest, he sniffed at her. The unnatural warmth seemed to have dropped, but he could smell the sickness on her. It radiated out from her wounds.

Pulling the sleeping bag away from her shoulders, he frowned when he saw her covered in his discarded garment. As he moved her around, she murmured and half woke, whimpering when he removed his shirt. The air suddenly chilly on her fevered flesh, she snuggled closer to his warmth. Inuyasha nuzzled her, licking her face and neck. He nosed her wounds and growled. Two of the long deeper gashes were festering with whatever poisons the youkai's claws contained.

He whined and licked at her injury. His instincts told him what must be done, but he knew it would hurt his mate. She opened her eyes and looked at him. He nuzzled her, worried. She licked her dry lips, and tried to smile. In her fevered mind, he looked more like a lost puppy needing comfort than a wild youkai. Her hand touched his face and stroked his cheek. She reached up and rubbed his ears. He leaned into her hand, purring his pleasure.

"Inuyasha…" Her voice cracked, filled with the pain in her body. "Inu…yasha … I hurt…. help me… please." He seemed to understand as he laid his cheek to her breast and nuzzled her there.

Before pulling away from her heated body, he licked her face, making soothing noises deep in his throat. He touched one gash with his elongated claw and pushed gently. At her soft cry, he whined and licked her face again. He nuzzled her cheek, nipping at her ears and neck, offering reassurance.

Closing her eyes and steeling herself for the pain about to come, she stroked his cheek again, saying, "I know… it will hurt." She took his clawed hand and guided it to her wound. His saliva had helped close the wounds and healed the others, but her body was too weak to fight the poison from the claws.

Inuyasha pulled his mate into his lap, arranging her so he held her body with one arm and her legs pinned under his. He continued to reassure her with licks to her neck and cheeks. Holding her tightly, he sliced his claws down each of the two infected gashes, reopening them. They began to ooze immediately with a sickly putrid smell. Inuyasha drew back from the odor. He knew he had to clean them, but the poison smell caused him to sneeze and whine.

Kagome went faint when he reopened the wounds. The pain was overwhelming. As the gashes started to ooze, she roused herself enough to know she needed to take care of them. She slid from his lap, and grabbed at her abandoned shirt. Looking up at the youkai she asked, "Could you bring me some water?" She pointed to the bottle sticking out of the pack. "That bottle there?" He leapt over and picking it up, he brought it back to her.

She bit her lip, fighting back the pain as she wiped the poisonous discharge seeping from the wounds. Pushing on the swelling along the edges, she cried out with the intensity. Instantly Inuyasha was there, holding her, nuzzling her cheek, and licking her tears. She allowed herself to lean against him, drawing in his comfort before returning to cleaning her wounds. As her will began to weaken, he took over. She helped in pouring the water over the wounds, washing it into her shirt.

Inuyasha licked at her gashes when they were clean and bleeding freely. He had pulled her back in his lap, holding her close to his chest, snuggling her body to his. He tossed her shirt as far as he could from them, and continued to soothe his mate. She curled up to his chest; too tired, too sore to care how close they were without clothes. She had the feeling if she did try to wear something, he would remove it again. His body felt good, and she had to admit, he hadn't done anything but take care of her.

Inuyasha sat for a long time holding her in his arms. He dozed slightly towards late afternoon. Her body began to cool on its own, and he knew she would heal. He gave her wounds a good lick and arranged her back in the nest. He licked her lips and nipped at her nose. He wanted her well. Being close to her, smelling her scent, he felt the need to mate. As her body began to heal it would become stronger.

He left the cave again taking her soiled torn shirt with him. He wanted the sick stench and blood smell as far from their den as possible. The rain still came down, softer this time, but the ground was weak from being saturated. He ran until he couldn't see the cave any longer and digging a hole, he buried her shirt. He lifted his head and tested the air. The rain hampered his ability to pick up scents, but he continued sniffing, a sense of unease washing over him. Before returning to the den, he ran a wide perimeter check. Not finding anything threatening, he returned to his den and mate.

"Houshi-sama, it's been two days… they should be here by now." Sango said standing in the doorway of the inn they stayed at. She had been patient with the monk and the little kitsune, reminding herself they also were worried, but with the rain and their boredom, she wanted to knock both out and leave.

The monk rose to stand beside her, his hand resting lightly on her shoulder. "Inuyasha is with Kagome. They will be all right." As his hand slid lower, the exterminator slapped his face before stepping back into the room.

Gathering her things together, she announced, "I'm going back to look for them. You can stay here and wait out the rain if you want. You know how Inuyasha wouldn't let rain keep him from catching up to us. Something has happened, I can feel it."

Shippou climbed on her shoulder. "I want to go with you." His little face clouded with worry. "I want to see Kagome and that Inuyasha better not have made Kagome mad again!" His greatest fear had always been Kagome returning to her world, never to come visit with him again.

Miroku sighed. He too felt uneasy with the absence of their friends, but he thought wandering around in the rain with no clear direction wouldn't help find the lost pair. He began to gather his things too, making ready to leave. "We'll have to work our way back to the village and start from there. Hopefully we'll find them at some hut or inn along the way."

Sango gave him a smile through the worry in her eyes. "Hopefully we will Houshi-sama."

Sesshoumaru studied the forest floor before him. The scent was faint but strong enough for him to know the youkai remains were his brother's work. His lips twisted when he spotted Tetsusaiga lying naked in the rain. Mud had almost covered the sword but its power could still be felt. Though the smell of youkai had weakened, he found what drew him to the spot in the first place. 'Inuyasha transformed.' He could smell the girl his brother carried around with him, and the ground, soaked though it was, hinted at her blood. Looking around the carnage wrecked opening, his mind put the pieces together.

Turning, he circled a wide perimeter, hunting his brother's youkai scent, and that girl's body.

Inuyasha woke to his mate stirring. He sniffed her carefully. She smelled clean with no sickness. He nuzzled his face in her hair and licked her cheek. She stirred again, trying to snuggle back into his arms. He wanted her to wake and eat. She hadn't eaten the day before and he didn't want her to weaken.

Kagome stretched some and opening her eyes saw Inuyasha's red ones staring down at her. A flash of confusion flitted across her mind; she had forgotten Inuyasha's state. His look of concern and caring for her overrode any fear she might have felt. She smiled for him and gave one of his ears a tweak.

He tossed his head and growled softly. He sniffed at her wounds again, making sure they were well. Looking up at his mate's face, seeing the odd shape her mouth was in, he licked it. She pulled back in surprise and gave a laugh. His ears flattened with the sound and he drew his lips back from his teeth imitating her.

She smiled wider at his look. He licked her again, and she began to giggle. Her imagination ran away with her, thinking of what the hanyou Inuyasha would do or even think if faced with the same situation. Her stomach gave a loud grumble and her face froze with the shock. She hadn't eaten since leaving her home two days before.

Inuyasha gave her several barking commands. Her brow crinkled in confusion. "I don't understand, Inuyasha. What is it you want me to do?" His hand covered her stomach briefly and then touched her mouth.

He sat up and looked out the cave entrance. The rain still fell, but he would have to go hunting again. He had to make his mate strong and soon. Her scent carried the hint of her heat, and he wanted to claim her before then.

Kagome sat up and pulling her bag closer, she found the fruit she had tossed in. After handing him an orange, she began to peel the skin from hers. He watched her closely and imitated her movements. He had his orange peeled quickly and traded fruit with her. She broke the sections apart and began to eat. The fruit was juicy and tasted good. Juice ran down her fingers and she licked it off. Inuyasha watched her eat, a deep rumbling purr sounded. At first it surprised her, making her think he would attack. The way he looked at her, she realized he was giving her his approval of her behavior.

"Inuyasha, I need to bathe. Is there a pond or river or something nearby?" He blinked at her. She twisted her lips thinking of how to explain what she wanted. "I smell." She lifted an arm and sniffed loudly scrunching up her face. He blinked at her again. Leaning closer, he snuffled her underarm and licked her skin there. She jumped and brought her arm down crying out, "Don't do that!" At his look, she tried again. "I need to wash my body, my hair. It still has blood and mud in it. Is there someplace I can go?"

He thought about the words his mate used. When she spoke, he understood most of what she said. He liked the sound of her voice, the rise and fall of its timbre, and usually he lost himself to its tone listen it rather than her words. He had licked her clean, but hadn't touched her hair. He wanted her scent fresh and all her own. He would take her to the springs he found.

When Inuyasha stood, it dawned on Kagome again their state of undress. Lying together, sitting so close, it had seemed so natural, and she hadn't felt uncomfortable about it at all. Seeing him now, standing before her like some sort of dog demon god, the flush rose up her neck and spread through her cheeks heating her body. She averted her eyes and swallowed hard, trying not to think of how close they had been. She quickly searched her bag for her bath things.

Inuyasha frowned. His mate's color changed and her body heated. He sniffed deeply and found that rather the wound sickness smell he expected, she exuded her own musky scent. He growled low, feeling his need to take her grow. His body grew hard smelling her scent, knowing her body wanted his. His arm snaked out and pulled her up to him. He held her tight against his chest, nuzzling her hair, and neck. He bit her uninjured shoulder lightly, the need to claim her riding high in his thoughts.

Kagome froze. With his body pressed so close to hers, his hands touching her where he never had before, she knew what he wanted. She began to tremble and feared what he would do. He was her best friend, her protector, and the closest thing she ever had to a boyfriend. There was no one she would rather be in this situation with, but the Inuyasha holding her wasn't the one she wanted. Her voice wavered as she pleaded, "Inuyasha?" Her lips quivered. "Inuyasha, please stop."

Hearing her voice, it cadence and smelling the fear on her, he stopped. His hands griped her arms, and he held her there, inhaling her scent. He let his need cool as he nuzzled her neck, making soothing noises to reassure her. It clicked in his mind why he hadn't claimed his mate. She was his, even she acknowledged it, but she wasn't ready for that part yet. He nuzzled her again and released her.

She staggered thinking the impossible just happened. The youkai Inuyasha listened to her. Her knees went weak, and her legs began to shake. Hurriedly she gathered her bathing things and joined him at the cave entrance. Her embarrassment kept her from openly looking at him, but she watched all the same. He was beautiful, like she knew he would be. He walked so naturally with his animalistic grace, she had to admire him.

He led her to a spring nearby watching over her to make sure she stayed close and had no difficulties. The rain continued to fall in a soft patter, but it no longer held the chill from the other night. He stopped at the edge of the spring and watched as she lowered herself into the water.

She sighed with a contented happiness, sinking up to her neck. Shaking her hair out, she ducked under and began to wash. When she finally felt clean, she sat submerged upon a rock, relaxing in the heat. Hearing a splash, she opened her eyes to see Inuyasha join her in the spring. He made his way over to her and sniffed her hair. She held her breath wondering what he would do. When he turned away, she let out a sigh. She giggled as he sniffed her shampoo and soaps, sneezing as he did so. He set them down and moved to the center of the pool to bathe.

Her thoughts turned to what happened before they left the cave. She knew she was changing, her attitude became accepting of how he is now. His youkai form wasn't so scary to her, but rather cute and endearing. His gentle behavior with her contrary to how he normally was with everyone else made her pretty sure he considered her his mate. Most animals did not harm their mates intentionally, and in this state Inuyasha was an animal. 'He is Inuyasha though.' she thought. 'He's been so nice and gentle, and so demonstrative. I could wish my Inuyasha would act more like this Inuyasha.'

She watched him as he stood flippng his hair back over his shoulder, water dripping from his body. Seeing him exposed as he was, she felt an ache begin. It wasn't an unfamiliar ache but now, now perhaps she could do something about it. She closed her eyes and blushed furiously at her thoughts. She couldn't do that to Inuyasha. When he came back to himself, he would hate her, would hate himself. 'But if he never knew…' She shook her head. She would know, and even if he didn't remember, or if he ever found out, she wouldn't be able to look him in the eye again. Her eyes clouded with tears and her lip began to tremble. 'I love him… why can't I… why can't I have him?'

Inuyasha looked over from where he was in the spring. He watched his mate closely and knew she watched him. When her scent carried a hint of sadness and salt he moved to investigate. He startled her by licking her tears and purring lowly in his chest. She threw herself at him, burying her face in his neck, crying harder. He held her, nuzzling her cheek and making his purring sounds. He wanted her to calm down and stop crying. Her tears distressed him making him feel helpless. He bit the tendon on her neck, holding it in his mouth, willing her to submit to him. She calmed immediately but still clung to him holding her body against his tightly.

Picking her up and wrapping her legs around his waist, he carried her back to the den. They laid together in the nest. She cuddled against his chest letting him comb out her hair with his fingers. She felt warm, safe, and cherished lying with him. The purr in his chest filled her with the longing ache so familiar, making her want more of him. She pressed her lips to the bare skin on his chest, wishing this were her Inuyasha holding her. Her eyes drifted closed in a half-doze, his soothing ministrations easing the tension from her body.

He kept the reverberating purr going as he stroked her hair. He frowned in confusion. He knew she wanted to mate with him but her scent laced with fear when he came too near her. Her stomach rumbled with hunger and arranging her snuggly in the nest, he rolled to his feet. Her hunger problem didn't cause him confusion, and it was one he could fix without causing her fear.

The girl's scent covered the ripped and ragged material. Sesshoumaru held it briefly before tossing it back into the hole he pulled it from. The shirt held a myriad of scents; the poison stench gagging him, the girl's blood smell causing his eyes to flash red, and his brother's youkai scent saturating the shirt. A buried garment reeking of blood and sickness… it was animal instinct to rid a den or nest of something that could attract predators.

Sesshoumaru's lip curled in a smirk. It looked as though his brother claimed the girl for a mate. If the sickness from the poison didn't kill her, she should still be alive. The brief thought of how she now faired crossed his mind but he dismissed it. His mission was to hunt down his brother and kill him if he remained in youkai form. Turning, he tightened his perimeter search. He was close now and this hunt would end before nightfall.

Inuyasha gutted the doe with a quick swipe of his claws. He had brought her down with an easy killing move; the deer didn't have time to register fear before her eyes closed in death. His mate needed the rich meat the deer offered. He cut the heart out and ate it raw and bleeding. Feeling the rich blood running through his veins, the blood smell in his senses, the excitement from the hunt and kill, he tilted his head back and howled. He stripped the hide off the deer, and piled choice cuts of meat on the skin. He folded the hide around the meat and wrapped it together in a bundle. He made his way back to the den, stopping to wash the blood and gore from his body at the spring.

Kagome sat up when she heard the howl. Fear raced through her before she realized it must be Inuyasha. Why he was howling or what it could mean, she didn't know. Her fire from the morning had nearly died, but patient coaxing brought it back to a blaze. Feeling uncomfortable, alone with her own nakedness, she considered putting Inuyasha's shirt on. For some reason, around this Inuyasha, she felt at ease without clothes. 'Maybe it's because he's so comfortable being nude.'

Her thoughts returned to the very nude Inuyasha as he stood in the cave entrance that morning. They lingered on her picture of him in the spring with the water cascading off his body and his white hair fanned out as he moved. Her cheeks flushed hotly thinking of just what she felt that morning, when he held her, wanting her. She closed her eyes and allowed herself to imagine what it would have felt like if she hadn't stopped him. She shifted in the nest wondering again where Inuyasha had disappeared to and tried to banish her thoughts.

When he came in, smelling of rain and the spring, her pulse quickened in her pleasure at seeing him again. She was surprised to see the bundle of meat he carried and felt the odd sense of pride in his ability to take care of her. He sat the meat down carefully and opening the bundle, he selected a large piece of meat. He dropped down next to her on the nest and held out his hand. Her eyes wide, she looked from it to him. He drew his lips back from his teeth in his parody of a smile. He nuzzled her neck, urging her to eat.

Mouth quivering, Kagome said quietly, "Inuyasha, I don't eat raw meat. I'll have to cook it." He blinked at her words, not comprehending their meaning. She leaned over to her bag and pulled out a small pan. Carefully, she pushed a flat rock towards the middle of her fire and put the pan on top of the rock. Smiling gently at her benefactor, she took the meat from him, and placed it in the pan. He watched her actions curiously while licking the blood from his fingers and hand.

Kagome's stomach growled as the aroma of the cooking meat filled the cave. She opened a bag of chips, Inuyasha's favorite kind, and ate a couple. She offered the bag to him and laughed at his actions. He sniffed the bag's contents and tried to stick his face down inside, jumping back as it crumpled with a crinkling sound. She pulled a chip out, and held it to his mouth. His lips twitched at its unfamiliar smell. He let her feed him and his eyes widen as the taste filled his mouth. Grabbing the bag, he pulled a handful out and tried to eat them all at once.

Laughing, Kagome pulled his hand away and removed some of the chips. "Try just a couple at a time. Here." She gave him two. He growled softly at her wanting to keep the bag to himself. His instincts warred with his actions and won. He pushed the bag at her, urging her to eat. She took a handful, and gave the bag back to him. Her attention turned to the cooking meat. She couldn't find anything to turn the meat over with and tried with her fingers, burning them in the process. "OW!" She cried snatching them back to sucked on them in vexation. Now that wonderful piece of meat would burn for lack of a fork.

Inuyasha looked up from his chips at her cry. Seeing what she attempted to do, he flipped the meat with one of his claws. Pulling her fingers from her mouth, he looked at them. His expression so serious, as if it had been a grave wound. He popped her finger in his mouth and began to lick on their tips. Kagome swallowed hard, heart thundering in her breast. He was so close, and he cared, really cared for her. Looking at her, nostrils flaring, he dropped her fingers. Leaning over, he licked her lips, trailing his tongue lightly over them, leaving her trembling and wanting more.

He turned his attention to the meat and pulled the pan from the fire. With his chin, he nudged her to eat. Looking at her fingers and then the hot pan, she gave him a funny smile. "I'll have to wait for it to cool. It's too hot to eat." He growled softly and with a couple swift strokes of his hands, his claws had cut the meat into small bite size pieces. He picked up a piece and held it before her mouth. When she hesitated, he barked a rough command at her. She blew on the meat before opening her lips wide enough for him to drop it in. She chewed silently enjoying the taste. As he held out the next piece, she accepted it eagerly, her hunger making itself known.

Inuyasha watched his mate eat, feeling a sense of arrogant pride for bringing her food, and then feeding it to her. Her enjoyment of the meat added to his pride. As she ate, she became more animated, eating almost as fast as he was bringing the pieces to her. She gave him one of her enchanting grins and leaned against him, sighing with contentment. When he held up another piece, she shook her head and pointed to his mouth. He ate the rest of the meat in the pan thinking the taste was different, not better, but as good as raw.

Kagome felt so at ease curled against Inuyasha, his hand on her back, it took her a few moments to realize he had begun to nuzzle and lick her again. Her heart thundered in her breast, knowing he could hear it. She raised herself up to kiss his lips, surprising him as she did so. Her fingers trailed down his face, outlining his stripes, touching his lips. He growled softly and reached for her. She laid back in the nest, pulling him with her. He poised himself above her, nuzzling her cheek, and licking her lips. Grinning, she licked his lips back. He purred and let his hands stroke her arms, stroke her body.

Kagome kept her eyes on his, watching how they flashed as he watched her reactions to what he was doing. His head dropped to her neck and he nuzzled her, licking and nipping softly. When he looked up at her, she brought her hands up to his face, touching it, smoothing the hair away from it. She leaned forward and nuzzled his neck, giving him licks of her own. When she closed her mouth over his chin giving is a soft bite, he shuddered and growled deeply. She looked at his face trying to see his eyes but they were closed. His breath brushed her skin as he leaned over her, giving her face, her neck and breasts long slow strokes with his tongue.

Inuyasha fought his need to mate, to claim his mate, taking his time to keep the fear from her scent. She opened herself up for him, showing him her want, her need to mate. Remembering her response to his tongue, he used it to heighten her want. Already her scent was saturated with her musky spice, making him almost blind with his need. As her moans sounded in the den, he positioned himself over her, trading licks with her tongue. He whined softly, panting in his need.

She drew her legs up and apart, flooding his senses with her scent. He growled loudly, pulling her to him suddenly. She felt his hardness between her legs, a flash of fear of the unknown shuddered through her body. His face was there, nuzzling her cheek, licking her lips, and reassuring her. She licked his lips whispering her love for him as she felt him enter her. Even as the brief flare of pain flashed, she continued to whisper her love, her eyes closed against the tears.

"K..kagome?" A very confused Inuyasha whispered.

Kagome's eyes flew opened and her mouth dropped with a startled gasp. "Inuyasha?" She breathed, her heart pounding. He looked down at her bewildered. The realization hit him with exactly what he was doing, their lack of dress and their proximity to one another. He yelped and started to pull up.

Before she lost her courage, Kagome yelled, "Sit!" and had the breath knocked out of her when his body crashed into hers.

He had avoided smacking her head with his and struggled to raise it. "Kagome? Why… why did you do that?" He was clearly confused.

Swallowing back her tears, she tried to see his face. "I wanted to keep you from moving until .. Until we talked…" She whispered.

Knowing he wasn't moving for a few moments, he responded, "Keh, we're not going anywhere. Tell me what's happened, and why… why we're like this." He was surprise to feel her body tremble beneath his. He had come to awareness hearing her gasp of pain, and whispered confessions of love. Feeling more like he was in one of his better dreams, he couldn't believe this was real.

Tears leaked from her closed eyes as she whispered, "You're going to hate me… please don't hate me."

The ability to move returned to his limbs as her crying reached him. He cradled her face in his hands, whispering reassurances. "I'll never hate you Kagome. I can't hate you. Tell me what's happened… I .. I don't understand."

Taking a gasping breath, heartened by his words and actions, she began, "We were attacked, and… and you transformed." She told him of the events over the past few days, and of his youkai self listening to her, caring for her, even to the extend of fighting his need, his lust for his mate. Her voice trailed off, and she couldn't look at him any more.

Unconsciously, he had been nuzzling her as his youkai self had. Instead of licks, he gave her kisses, and purred his reassurance. "Kagome, if my youkai form didn't force you … didn't… make you… how is it we are here now?"

Her eyes closed, a tear leaking out, she whispered so softly he wasn't sure he heard right, "Because I wanted to…"

He stilled. His mind warred within. How do you become jealous of your own self? He growled. He had wanted to be Kagome's first and only and she was giving herself to his… his youkai self? Trying to keep the anger, the disappointment from his tone, he asked, "You wanted it with my youkai form? Why?"

Wanting him to be off her now, she wanted to curl up and die. She had known he would be mad and disgusted with her. He nudged her for an answer. Keeping her eyes shut tight against his anger, she whispered, "Because I know you never would… and your youkai self would… and … and I wanted you… I wanted you so much…" She brought her hands to her face and covered it with her shame.

Inuyasha stared at her, opened mouth. "…never would…?" he repeated. Quietly he began to chuckle. "To think of all the time we wasted… we lost." He pulled her hands from her face gently, kissing her softly, stroking her cheeks. "Kagome… look at me." He commanded.

Her lips trembling, she opened her eyes. His warm amber hued ones had darkened with the passion he held for her. His lips shaped into a soft gentle smile. Tentatively, she touched his face. "Inuyasha?"

He bit her nose gently. Releasing it, he said softly, "Kagome, after tonight you are mine, and no one, not even my youkai self will ever touch you again. Understand?" He gave her one of his arrogant smirks.

Smiling mischievously, she brought his face closer and gave his lips a lick. "You could learn a few things from your youkai self you know."

He gave her a lick of his own, " Forget it. He doesn't have to show me a damn thing. Between you and me, we'll figure it out." She giggled when he licked her again and locked her hands around his neck. He growled softly, "Now to get back to what we were doing…." She giggled again as he began to purr and show her how much he didn't need to learn from his youkai self.

Sesshoumaru stood several feet outside the cave entrance listening. He had found the deer, his brother's scent so fresh it was easy to follow back to the spring. There he found the girl's bathing things, answering the question of her survival. From the spring he picked up both their scent without needing a trail to follow.

Inuyasha's youkai scent was strong in the air, the girl's just less so. As their lust scent mingled, he smirked sniffing the air. He paused when Inuyasha's scent changed from youkai to hanyou. Sesshoumaru stopped to contemplate this development. He could hear their voices, and caught most of what the girl said. He waited just long enough to catch their scents change again before moving on. He didn't want to hear his brother mating, and now his mission ended. He had some thinking to do on how the wild youkai his brother transformed into could be tamed by a young miko girl. He smirked again. 'That proves he's weak. Weakened by his human blood he lusts for human blood even as a youkai.'

He began his trip back to where he left Rin and Jaken. His travels brought him close to another familiar set of smells. He paused to hear their conversation before seeking them out. They were arguing over where to look next, their tones colored with worry for their missing companions. He stood outside the light of their campfire for several minutes waiting for them to notice him.

The monk suddenly rose and faced him. "Sesshoumaru! What do you want?"

His girl companion jumped to her feet, her hand reaching for her large boomerang. Her fire cat transformed with a loud roar, all standing ready to fight him if necessary.

He allowed himself to smirk at their actions. "Foolish humans. If I, Sesshoumaru, had wanted to harm you, you would already be dead." At their nervous stares, he said, "Your missing companions are safe in a cave nearby." His eyes flickered briefly. "I wouldn't go looking for them tonight." He started to turn, and then remembering he added, "Tetsusaiga is in a small clearing about 3 miles over there." He gestured off in the forest. "You'll find the remains the youkai Inuyasha tore apart." He walked on ignoring their questions. They could get their answers from his brother and his mate. He only stayed long enough to make sure his father's sword didn't wind up with some human.

Not long after he left, the four traveled in the direction he had pointed out. It didn't take them long to find the clearing, with both Shippou and Kirara able to smell the youkai corpses.

Sango sheathed Tetsusaiga thoughtfully. "Do you think Kagome-chan is all right? Sesshoumaru said Inuyasha transformed. Wouldn't that put her in danger?"

Miroku looked at the rotting carnage. "I don't think she is or ever was in any danger." He looked at both Shippou and Sango, trying to ease their worry. "I've had a theory which was never tested, and it might be now." Smiling he said, "Despite the way he acts and what he says, we all know how Inuyasha feels for Kagome, and his overriding need to protect her at all cost even to himself. I believe this is so ingrained as part of his being, his soul, he will never harm her. He will always see her as someone to love and protect, regardless of what form he's in. We've seen it many times over in his hanyou and human forms. Why not his youkai as well?"

A little unsettled, Sango responded, "His youkai form doesn't think."

Nodding, the monk smiled, "Exactly. Those emotions Inuyasha has are deep, and can be felt more than thought."

Thinking over what he said, Sango smiled. "Then she's all right, isn't she?"

"I want to see Kagome." Shippou whined. What Miroku said made sense, but he wouldn't feel better until he had seen her, and knew her to be in good health.

Holding him close, Sango said, "We'll go look for that cave in the morning. I have a feeling it isn't too far, considering the direction Sesshoumaru came from, to where we are now, to complete the triangle, I think we'd find them in that direction."

The rain had finally stopped, and they searched for a likely spot to camp for the night and wait for the morning.

Inuyasha woke as the false dawn's light lit the cave. He felt the girl's warmth curled next to him, and he smiled nuzzling her hair. His thoughts returned to the night before and her tale of him as a youkai. His greatest fear had always been transforming and harming Kagome. After learning what had taken place, he knew now she was in no danger from himself. His eyes held wonder for her thinking in amazement how this young girl could tame the wild youkai beast he became. Snorting, he realized how much she had changed him as his hanyou self with her gentle nature, her calming scent.

Now that they had mated, and he finally admitted his love for her, the truth of their situation wanted to crowd into his thoughts. He pushed them away deeming them to another time. The harsher facts of reality could wait, those obstacles they would overcome. As he smoothed her hair away from her face, he brushed kisses along her cheek. "My mate." He whispered trying it out. He liked the taste and sound of that. "My mate."

"Hummm…" Kagome answered, her eyes opening blurrily. Seeing him watching her, she blushed and smiled shyly. "Inuyasha." Her hand stroked his face softly. "I didn't dream last night then?"

Kissing her palm, he shook his head. "If you're dreaming, I'm sharing it." Smirking, he added, "Mate."

She giggled and hugged him. "Oh Inuyasha, I never thought we'd be here."

He nuzzled her, and held her close. Daylight and their responsibilities would come all too soon. They still had some time to themselves, and he intended to enjoy it for as long as it lasted. To his delight, his mate was as eager as he.

As the sun climbed higher in the morning sky, it found them already bathed, dressed and packing. Lifting his head, Inuyasha smelled their companions' scent. A brief flash of annoyance crossed his face. He rather liked this little cave, their den, and had wanted to keep it a secret for future times when they needed to be alone. He looked over at Kagome and a smile lit his face. She looked so fresh and beautiful, dressed in his haori. He growled his desire to her and she blushed as she giggled.

Watching him walk to the cave's entrance with her pack on his back, Kagome's mind flashed to the day before, seeing him nude, standing in the sunlight. Her Inuyasha might have returned to her in time to claim her, but inside, her youkai Inuyasha still showed. The night before, she thought she had seen flashes of red in his eyes. Then again, it could have been all her hanyou. After all, Inuyasha is known for his wildness. Either way, either one, her love didn't change. Joining him, she put her hand in his, looking up into his smiling face, knowing that no matter what, she will stand by his side forever.