AN: Thank you everyone for the reviews! I even got help with where I could go with the story. For right now, I believe I will continue on the original track I was considering, and possibly end sooner than I had expected. Then, take the time to rip apart each chapter because of the many many mistakes I carelessly made ; There might even be some complete chapter re-writes to make it flow smoother too.
Kouga cursed, dodging to the left as Inuyasha lunged for the wolf youkai. The once hanyou, he noticed, had more primal instincts than even he did. Snarling and snapping his jaws, eyes red with anger and...hunger? Startled as Inuyasha made a quick rebound, Kouga ducked down, sweeping his leg in a failed attempt to stun his opponent.
"Feh, gonna have to do better than that if you wanna win!"
And then he was pinned to the ground, a strong pair of hands encircling his throat. Kouga growled, using his feet to kick at Inuyasha's stomach. The hanyou held strong, a strange flash of demonic glee flashing over his face.
'Kuso...I can't...Breathe...' Hands clawed at the arms that held him down, leaving red gashes in their wake. Inuyasha retaliated, squeezing his throat tighter and slamming Kouga's head into the ground. Dazed, the wolf youkai struggled to remain concious as the need for oxygen became more severe.
Just before his vision went completely black, he could feel the pressure lessen, then vanish completely. Coughing violently, Kouga rolled to his side, chest heaving to greedily breathe the much needed air. Cracking one eye open, he surveyed the scene before him.
Much to his surprise, Inuyasha was favoring his right arm, which hung limply at his side. Even through his red attire, blood was evident, staining the fabric a darker shade of red. A piece, he soon realized, had been torn off the arm. Kouga frowned, puzzled. It was then that he noticed Inuyasha had turned, his gaze fixated on something out of his field of view. Carefully so he didn't draw any unwanted attention, the man on the ground turned slightly, and his eyes widened.
An arrow was lodged in the trunk of the giant tree behind him, the missing piece of Inuyasha's sleeve pinned neatly between the trunk and tip. The arrow bobbed slightly still from the impact, and Kouga's eyes remained on the object that had quite possibly saved his life.
Kouga turned towards her voice as she stepped into the clearing, a weary taijiya and houshi following behind her. Never before had he seen her so angry. Eyes flashed dangerously, her lips drawn into a tight, thin line. She stood her ground, even with her injured arm she held her bow steady, the arrow she had set pointed straight towards Inuyasha's heart.
"It's me you want, isn't it? Well...I'm here."
Her voice, though strangely calm and collected, did not match the inner turmoil she was currently facing. Could she really fight, and more importantly, defeat Inuyasha? Briefly, she let her gaze flicker to Kouga, whom stared up at her in shock. When she had seen him struggling, and fighting to remain concious, an uncontrollable rage had filled her. How dare he try and hurt...No, kill, Kouga. A fierce wave of protectivness compelled her to fire, and a burst of pleasure swelled in her chest when her arrow hit its mark.
Though the battle was far from over, she had saved Kouga. And in that instant, she knew she would do anything for him, as he had done for her. She felt Sango and Miroku move up beside her, and her confidence flared, so much so that Kouga and Inuyasha could smell it in the air around her.
"Inuyasha, I will not let you touch my friends again." Her arm quivered slightly under the pressure as she tried to keep her aim on her target. With a slight jerk of her head in Kouga's direction, she motioned for him to move to her. He hesitated, looking up at the hanyou who had yet to move. Seeing him still in a stupor as he stared at the arrow in the tree, Kouga climbed to his feet and carefully made his way towards Kagome.
"It's...All the same..."
"What's the same, Inuyasha?" Kagome cocked her head slightly to the side, frowning. He had yet to peel his eyes away from the tree behind him. It was then Kagome realized what she had done, and her eyes widened.
Inuyasha moved forward, his good arm outstretched. His eyes, which had been red, flickered to a soft amber color as he pressed his palm against the tree. With a clawed hand, he traced the outline of his body, where Kikyou had sealed him many years ago. The same place he had met Kagome for the first time. He hesitated with his hand next to the newly embeded arrow, before closing a hand over it.
A loud crack could be heard as the wood from the weapon was snapped clean in half, startling Kagome. The hanyou whirled around, the foreign look of hurt written across his face. The miko could feel her eyes brim over with tears as she recalled his tragic past. Slowly, she lowered the bow, much to Kouga's protest, and took a step forward. A hand on her arm stopped her.
"I have to. You see it too, don't you Sango-chan, Miroku-sama?"
"Hai...I know this place well." Miroku muttered, eyes transfixed on the tree that dominated the area around them. Sango nodded mutely, though her eyes were dull. She clutched her deceased brother's mask to her chest, comforted by the arm the houshi had wrapped around her waist.
"Let her go to him, Kouga-sama. While he is vulnerable." Miroku whispered to the wolf youkai. Kouga growled, but reluctantly nodded, crossing his arms across his chest. Kagome slid the bow onto her arm and placed the unused arrow in with the rest as she hesitantly stepped closer to Inuyasha. When he made no move towards her, and his eyes still held the large amounts of grief she almost couldn't bear to see, she continued forward. Stopping directly in front of him, she did something that surprised everyone in the small clearing. She hugged him.
A small, almost whimper-like sound emitted from the back of his throat as he allowed himself to be held. Arms encircled the petite waist before him, burying his face in her neck. For a moment, there was only the two of them, and everything was right again. But only for one brief moment. Kagome pulled back slightly until his hands rested loosely on her hips. She looked up at him and smiled sadly.
At a loss for words, the hanyou just watched her, unsure of what to say. Kagome knew she needed to earn his trust again, and now was the only time to gain it, while Naraku's influence on him was weak. But how? She bit her lip as she tried to untangle her hands from around his neck. A hand brushed against the prayer beads around his neck, and she suddenly knew what she had to do.
Taking a deep breath and praying she was right, Kagome reached both hands up to the necklace, fingering it for a moment before quickly slipping it over his head. The startled gasps that surrounded her were exactly what she had expected. Inuyasha stared at her, bewildered by the sudden action. He placed a hand to his neck, where the beads once rested heavily in reminder of his tasks.
"Ka-Kagome-sama!" Miroku stared at her in shock, his mouth gaping. Her one defense against his advances was now rendered useless. No longer could a simple word stop him, should he choose to harm her.
"Inuyasha...You're free now." Kagome smiled, tears once again pricking at her eyes. She gingerly wiped them dry, sniffling. She had done it. Silently, she took one of his hands in hers, and placed the beads in his palm, closing his fingers around them. He stared at the foreign object in his hand.
Uncertain, Inuyasha continued to study the woman he had once left behind. Never in his wildest dreams did he think he would be set free. It wasn't even having the prayer beads off that sent the strange, warm feeling through his chest. It was the trust she placed in him. The trust she was showing him right now. Could she really be his enemy? Could this girl, whom just endangered her own life for his freedom, really be what he needed to get rid of?
Inuyasha nodded, pulling her in for one last crushing embrace before pushing her roughly towards Kouga. The wolf youkai caught her with ease, pressing her tightly against his chest. Brows furrowed in confusion, Kagome looked at the hanyou.
"Go! Go now dammit! Before I...Before I can't stop myself! Before he..." He howled, closing his hands over his ears and hunching over. Kagome would have gone to him had Kouga not have been preventing her.
"Let's get out of here, now." Miroku warned, sliding onto Kirara's back with Sango in his arms. Kouga nodded, scooping Kagome up bridal style and dashing away from the emotionally disturbed hanyou. He looked disturbed, the miko noticed, the way he carried her, tense.
'Kami-sama...I hope I made the right choice...'
AN: Waaaah, please forgive the short chapter:gasp: Inuyasha has no more prayer beads? Now what? ...That's a good question Possibly an ending to the story soon. Please excuse all spelling errors and such, I dont have word on this computer, or a spell check in this writing pad...weird...