Well, boys and girls, here we are, the final chapter of "Falling Over You". Okay, so there will be future fics related to this one, but, for all intents and purposes..last chappy.

Hope you've enjoyed the ride. ~Banshee Puppet

Chapter Five: Cougar

"Play another song!" Shippo cheered as he did every night, though tonight, Kuma was really feeling very strange and hadn't really felt much like playing at all. "Just one more," she said as she thought about it, noting that her mouth felt weird as she ran her tongue along her teeth and her eyes widened. I- is that a, a fang? "An instrumental song," she said softly, head bowed slightly. "My throat hurts a bit from all this singing." Inuyasha wasn't buying it. Something had been strange about her all day and he could almost swear she smelled different. That's ridiculous, he had told himself. People's scents don't just change. Well, okay, mine does, but only when I'm human once a month. When Kagome had mentioned a few days ago that her friend's hair seemed lighter, Kuma had just said with an uncomfortable laugh, "the dye must be wearing off," but Kagome would know if her friend dyed her hair, wouldn't she? But when she went to pluck the strings and begin the song, a small gasp escaped her lips, her nails were.n-no way! Not possible. W-what's happening to me. One bad pluck and she stood abruptly, her hands clenched so that no one else would see. "Gomen Shippo. A-ano, I have a cramp, I need to go walk it off. I'll play for you tomorrow again," she said before leaving the group quickly, making eye contact with none. "She said she wasn't feeling well earlier," Kagome said, but she looked worried. "Shippo, come here a minute," Inuyasha said. "No way, you're gonna hit me or something and I didn't do anything wrong." "I'm not gonna hit you! Just get over here," Inuyasha growled. Shippo is the only other demon here. Maybe he's noticed if she seems.different. "W-what?" Inuyasha bent over and whispered in the kit's ear. "Her smell?" Shippo asked, looking confused. Inuyasha pulled the boy off a bit and then said. "That's right, her smell, does she smell any different to you lately? Over the past few days especially." Shippo thought a moment. She did smell a bit different actually, but he hadn't thought of it. "I just figured she was using different soap," he said. "I'm going after her; I'll be back soon," Inuyasha said as if to tell Shippo that he was an idiot. "Inuyasha! Different how?!" Shippo protested. I don't know. I'm not sure. he thought. "More." He tried to place the scent but was having a hard time of it, and then an image of Kilala came to mind. That's it! "More like a cat," he said before hurrying off into the trees.

Not knowing what else to do, she ran. The pain building in her stomach was almost too much to bear. What's happening to me?!? Her heart rate increased, she was sweating, everything around her smelled like.prey. Unable to run through the pain anymore, knowing very distinctly that there were four fangs in her mouth and her finger-nails had turned into claws. The sneakers that bound her feet inside of them were causing her pain around the toes as well, which she figured could only mean that she probably had claws on her feet too, and holding them flat the way they were wasn't helping. Is this how an animal feels? Life on this sort of instinct? No. What's happening to me? She couldn't hold it back anymore, and falling to her knees, cried out in pain.

At the sound of a very distinctly feline cry, followed by a series of smaller whimpers, Inuyasha stopped. He'd been following what he had known to be Kuma's scent, and now this. He had a very bad feeling, but saw the pale jacket in the clearing on a form that looked, from behind, very little like the girl they had all gotten to know. Hunched over on her hands and knees breathing heavily, this figure had long hair of a slate blond and something moved on her back underneath the jacket. But it was her. He was certain. He could still smell Kuma, underneath the youkai he smelled on her now. "Kuma?" he asked as he approached slowly. She stared at the claws on her hands, felt the tail swooshing around behind her, "go away!" "What?" "I'm serious Inuyasha! Get the hell away from me!" she hollered, forcing herself to her feet and angrily wiping tears from her eyes. As she moved, he could see the claws on her hands, the way she whimpered trying to stand in the flat sneakers that she and Kagome often wore. "I don't want anyone to see me like this," she sobbed. Sure, Inuyasha understood. How could he not understand? He could still smell the human on her. She fell down again. The sneakers were too much for her to take, but he could see her hands shaking, she couldn't get them off, didn't know what to do about the claws. And he could see the green- gold reflection of her eyes, the spotted tail swooshing at the jacket behind her. He thought about her as he'd known her as a human. Thin, fast, graceful, lean-muscled. Not all too different from the cougar youkai he saw before him now. As different as she was, he knew, she was still Kuma, even with the furry, slightly rounded ears on top of her head, she would always be Kagome's friend Kuma. "Let me help you," he said as he moved to her slowly, not sure if she was going to try to kill him or what, and kneeled down to untie and remove the sneakers. She didn't try to kill him. She just moved each foot around once it was released from the bindings. "I can't go back there, looking like this," she said. "Looking like what?" he asked, somewhat unconvincingly. "You're just Kuma." "Yeah right. Nice try, jerk. I have claws, and fangs, and a goddamn tail!" "You forgot about the ears," he mentioned, then thought, I should probably shut up now. "Ears! What about my ears?!" She put her hands where her human hears would be and, looking at Inuyasha's dog ears, slowly worked her way up until she felt them up there and started crying. "God! I'm a freak.uh, no offence." Gee, thanks. "None taken," he said, trying to comfort her as best he could, which wasn't actually very well, but.he knew what it was like. "There are people who are going to think just that about you, I'm not going to lie about it. It isn't easy. But me and Kagome and the others, we're not in that group. Please come back to camp." "Inuyasha, thank you but.I.I can't. Not yet. Tell everyone that I'm sorry, I just.." she started sniffling again and wiped her eyes. "Gomen." "You don't have to apologize for everything all the time, you know, Kuma," Inuyasha said as he stood up, offering her a hand, even though he knew she wouldn't take it, and, true to form, she didn't, opting to get to her feet on her own, resting more towards the ball than she used to. "Ah, gomen. I mean. I." Inuyasha laughed. "Come back to us soon," he said before turning to head back to camp. "Why are you being so nice. It isn't like you," she asked. "The fact that Kagome is my girlfriend is all your fault, so I owe you, a little. Besides, I know what it's like to be a freak." He was about to leave when he thought of something else. "I've been meaning to ask. You're in love with my brother, aren't you, Kuma?" The warm fuzzy moment officially gone, Kuma threw a small rock at the back of Inuyasha's head. "Goodnight, Inuyasha, you jerk!" she said. "Ow! Bitch! It was a simple question!" "And the simple answer is. Even if it were true, what would it matter? Now." When Inuyasha turned to say something once again, she was gone, and he didn't think he would be justified in following her, so he went back to camp.

"Where's Kuma?" Miroku asked with a yawn. They'd been waiting up to see if she was alright, he realized. "She's gone off on her own for a while," he said. "Huh? Why would she leave?" Sango asked. "As it turns out, Kagome, your friend is part demon. She'll be back, eventually," Inuyasha said. "Let's just go to sleep now." "First, explain part demon," Kagome said. "I'm not letting you off so easily Inuyasha." "She's.like me." That earned a few considerably surprised looks. "I don't think she has as much youkai blood as I do, but it's there, and something's triggered it. She.doesn't look the way she used to." "How does she look?" Shippo asked sleepily, just barely following the conversation. "Well.she's still Kuma, but with lighter, longer hair, and claws, a few fangs, a tail and," he flicked one of his dog ears, "ears." "What sort of ears?" Shippo asked, not disturbed as the others appeared at the sudden change as much as curious. "Cat ears?" Inuyasha nodded. "Cougar ears." "She's a cougar demon!?!" Miroku sputtered. "Just all of a sudden, out of nowhere like that?" "Seems that way." "Well.at least she's on our side. But I don't feel right about letting her wander around all by herself out there." "She makes her own decisions. She'll come back when she's ready." "I suppose you're right. We'd never catch up with her if we tried anyway." "Fine. That's settled, can we all go to sleep now please?" Inuyasha said testily. "Alright, see everyone in the morning," Miroku said and rolled over to find that a rather exhausted Sango and Shippo had already fallen asleep. Kagome put her arms around Inuyasha's neck, and he leapt up into a comfortable tree branch, cuddled her up into his arms, rested his chin on top of her head and went to sleep himself.

"Kuma!!!" Rin called out excitedly when she saw the girl, not seeming at all phased by the fact that she looked rather like a cat youkai now, and tossing herself happily into the young woman's legs. "Rin?" Kuma asked, a bit confused. I guess I don't look as different as I thought. She had kept to herself for weeks now, just trying to get accustomed to her new senses and new ways of motion, and she had to admit, this being a freak thing wasn't so bad. But now another thought strikes her. If Rin is here then Sesshomaru. "Rin!" Oh, I'd know that voice anywhere, Kuma thought. "Kuma!" he shrieked as he saw the girl, looking rather not-quite-human, and took a leap back, remembering that she could do a lot more damage to him this way, and noting the sheer size of her sword, which she's also gotten rather accustomed to with her new youkai strength. "Hello Jaken," she answered coolly.

Having waited long enough for Jaken to retrieve Rin, Sesshomaru finished washing guts off of his hands and went to find the pair himself. Needless to say, he was rather surprised at what he found. "K-Kuma?!?" "Yeah, um. Hi." He tried to find a way to ask when, why, how, and weren't you with my brother and his friends looking for Shikon shards.but all that he seems to manage is, "Hi." Pause. Long Pause. "You look good." She gave him a typical, it's been a long day, don't test me look, but he insisted. "No, I mean it. I don't understand it but.you look amazing." "What are you doing here, Sesshomaru? I thought you'd be off after the tetsusaiga by now." "Well, I intended to be, but things got somewhat complicated." Seemingly finished with clutching onto Kuma, Rin pulls on Sesshomaru's pant leg and holds up her arms, at which, he picks up the little girl showing perhaps more affection than Kuma (or anyone) was familiar with seeing out of him "You beat up the bad demon?" the girl asked and Kuma couldn't help but raise an eyebrow, look at Jaken and mouth, "he did what?" Jaken nodded and sighed, at right about the time that a group of extremely grateful villagers approached the great demon of the west, offering him many thanks and other such nonsense. "It's like an episode of the twilight zone," Kuma said softly, feeling rather more confused by the moment. "I'll explain, please, Kuma, join us for dinner." "Um, sure, I guess." As they ate, Sesshomaru explained to Kuma that he had left his home to seek out the tetsusaiga, primarily because she wanted him to and because, to be quite frank, sitting at home and dealing with affairs at the castle that could easily be taken care of by people other than himself, was rather boring. He headed south, but ran into some bandits that were heading north and made quick work of them because, well, it was something to do. Having heard about a demon which was causing a certain village quite a bit of trouble, and not being dead set on going after the tetsusaiga at that particular moment, he decided to investigate, since it honestly sounded more interesting than going to hassle his brother.again, for a sword that he'd decided, he didn't absolutely need. Having taken care of that one, he heard of another, then another, and had, for the past three weeks, been wandering around the western lands killing trouble-making demons. "Strange to say, but I believe my brother may have the right idea after all. Each demon is something new to fight, it keeps me rather busy and away from the castle. Not that any of them are much of a challenge, but, at least I'm not bored." Kuma laughed. "Who are you and what have you done with Sesshomaru?" she teased. "I'm quite serious Kuma. Something it wouldn't kill you to be on occasion." "Gomen," she giggled. "Oh wait, no, I'm not sorry. I like the new you though, really."

When Inuyasha and company started arriving in villages only to find stories that his older brother was going around slaying demons and saving the lives of mere mortals, needless to say they were all a little confused. And it kept happening. "You're Inuyasha aren't you!" one villager said. "You're brother Sesshomaru." "Let me guess, he slew an evil demon, didn't ask for any compensation, and saved your village from impending disaster," Inuyasha asked huffily. It was bad enough living down his reputation, now I have to live up to it? "I was actually just going to say he's by the river. But yeah, all that too." Wanting very much to know what the hell was going on, Inuyasha and his friends ran towards the river only to interrupt what appeared to be a rather private moment of, well, sucking face and giggling. What? No way! My brother doesn't laugh! Inuyasha was almost furious over that simple fact. He coughed to get their attention, and realizing that Kuma was the other party, looked at her and said, "what did you do to my brother?" "Hey! Don't blame me! The demon slaying and village saving was his idea!" Kuma protested, at which Sesshomaru commented, "true, but making out by the river was you." With a smile, Kuma shrugged and said, "okay, busted. So what's up guys?"

"Alright," Inuyasha said taking intimidating steps towards his brother that didn't seem to intimidate him at all (big surprise). "You're going around fighting demons, saving villages, doing it all for a low low price of nothing (I've been hanging around Kagome too much, anyways...), and you haven't tried to steal the tetsusaiga for over three months. What's the deal?!?" "Oh. I don't want the tetsusaiga anymore," Sesshomaru said frankly. "Who are you and what have you done with my annoying, arrogant older brother?!?" "I'm glad that you think so highly of me, Inuyasha." "Never mind that, what about the other stuff? Saving people, fighting demons and all that," Inuyasha queried. Still in his blatantly matter-of-fact tone, Sesshomaru answered. "Well." Pause. "It amuses me." Inuyasha fell face first into the dirt without any aid from Kagome's "sit" powers. He recovered(eventually) and the rest is, as they say, history.

~The End~