Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to Inuyasha. Those are the property of one Rumiko Takahashi. I thank her whole-heartedly for giving us such an amazing manga/anime to read/watch.

Temple of the Dog – Chapter 14

Inuyasha had been awake for some time when the sun rose. He continued to hold Kagome to him, listening to the sounds of the household as her family members woke up. In a short while he caught the scent of food cooking. Shippou's nose was equally attuned to the smell of food and he quickly woke up and scurried from the room.

"Ummm…" Kagome moved in Inuyasha's arms, cuddling closer to him as she started to wake up.

The hanyou gave her a gentle squeeze when he saw her eyes flicker open.

The priestess smiled up at him and slid her arms around his neck. "Good morning."

They were interrupted by a ball of fur as Shippou launched himself onto Kagome's lap. "Breakfast is done. Boy, your mom sure makes good food." He began to munch on a chunk of bread, dropping crumbs onto Kagome and Inuyasha.

"Idiot," the hanyou growled as he tried to brush both the crumbs and Shippou from their laps.

"You should get some before it's all gone," the kitsune said over his shoulder as he started back for the door. He quickly disappeared through the opening, leaving the straw mat that served as a door swinging in his wake.

"Maybe we should get some food before it's all gone," Kagome suggested as she kissed Inuyasha on the cheek. She quickly untangled herself from his grasp and stood up, holding out a hand to him.

Inuyasha simply grunted and stood up. He pulled her to him and gave her a long kiss. "Let's get you some food."

Kagome paused and glanced at her shift. "Maybe I should put on something else. It won't be my priestess robes, but at least it will be clean and in one piece." She quickly went to a chest near the bottom of her wooden cot and took out a simple dress. She took off what she was wearing and slipped it on.

"You did that too fast, " Inuyasha mumbled as he watched her.

Kagome blushed. "You wouldn't want Shippou to come in while I'm changing, would you?"

Inuyasha growled softly and pulled Kagome to him for another kiss. "That little brat is going to have to stay out of our room back at the temple."

"Come on." The priestess slid her hand into his and gently pulled him towards the doorway. They made their way to the back of the house, walking into the kitchen. Kagome's mother was busy preparing food while her grandfather and Shippou sat at the long, stone table.

"Breakfast is done," Mama said as she placed a flat stone plate piled with chunks of cheese and bread on the table. There was also a plate of fruit and a jug of water. The smell of cooking meat floated in from a fire pit just outside the kitchen door.

Shippou mumbled around a mouthful of food. "Twy da bwead. Izs gwood." He took another large mouthful as he reached for a piece of cheese.

Mama laughed. "It's good to see a growing boy eat." She paused and looked at Shippou. "He is a boy, isn't he? He's just so cute it's hard to say."

Shippou took a quick drink of water to clear his throat. "Of course, I'm a boy."

Kagome motioned for Inuyasha to sit on a low bench on one side of the table. "I'll get you a plate," she offered as she moved to get two plates from a small table against the wall. She returned and sat next to the deity.

"I'm back." A young boy came in through the back door. He carried several bowls and plates, which Mama took from him. He grabbed a plate and sat on the bench next to Shippou.

"Souta!" Kagome jumped up and went to the boy, giving him a big hug.

"Aw, Kagome. Do you always have to do that?" The boy rubbed at his cheek where the priestess had kissed him.

"Inuyasha, this is my brother, Souta."

Inuyasha simply nodded.

Souta's eyes opened wide and his mouth gaped. "It's true! The priests said that there was a living deity, but I thought they were just teasing me. This is just too cool."

The boy got up and ran around the table to where Inuyasha sat. He bowed slightly. "My lord. It's an honor to meet you." When he stood up he had a puzzled expression on his face. Before anyone could stop him, he had reached out and touched Inuyasha's ears.

"Souta!" Kagome exclaimed as she tried to stifle a giggle. She knew first-hand just how irresistible those ears were, but she worried about Inuyasha's response to yet another family member taking liberties with them.

Inuyasha grumbled softly but didn't say anything.

"Sorry. I've never seen anyone with ears like that before. I didn't think they were real."

Mama quickly motioned to Souta to sit down. The boy went back to his seat and filled his plate.

Kagome also reached for some bread and cheese, putting half on Inuyasha's plate. The two ate quickly, adding fruit and more bread and cheese to their plates. Kagome's mother excused herself and went to retrieve the rest of their meal. She brought in a platter with a large steaming piece of meat. She began to cut pieces from it, placing the first one on Inu-Yasha's plate. Soon everyone had eaten their fill.

Souta chatted about the commotion down at the temple. He had been sent by his mother to take food to the priests and unexpected guests and had stayed long enough to catch some of the gossip.

"There's a cat creature there. It's as big as a camel!" the boy said excitedly between bites.

"That's Kirara," Shippou said knowingly. "She's a fire cat youkai."

The two boys started talking excitedly between themselves, leaving the others in relative peace.

After a while, Inuyasha shifted on his chair and glanced at Kagome. "We should go to the temple and find out what's going on."

The priestess nodded. "Mama, we have to go to the temple. We'll be back later. I'm not sure when, though."

Inuyasha stood and bowed his head slightly in the direction of Kagome's mother. His mute thank you was acknowledged by her when she smiled at him. "You're always welcome in our home, Inuyasha. It's Kagome's home, too, and always will be. I just wish we could offer you more luxurious accommodations. We live a rather simple life, I'm afraid."

Kagome placed one hand on Inuyasha's arm. "Mama, Inuyasha prefers a simple lifestyle. Believe me, everything was perfect. Thank you." She moved from her deity's side to her mother, giving the woman a big hug and a kiss on the cheek.

"I'll be sure Kagome stays safe." Inuyasha shifted impatiently and moved toward the door.

"Hey, Mama. Can I go with them? I'd really like to see that cat thing again." Souta looked hopefully at his mother and then at Kagome.

"You can meet Kohaku, too," Shippou added.

"Well, Souta, if it's all right with Kagome and Inuyasha, I guess you can." Mama had started clearing the table and stopped to look at her daughter.

"I guess it's all right," Kagome said. "After all, he was there already and nothing happened."

Inuyasha mumbled something and the priestess looked his way. "Okay, okay. We're going." She walked to her deity and placed her hand on his arm again. "We'll be back later, Mama."

The two boys followed them out of the house and into the street.

They were met with commotion. People were standing in groups, gossiping about the events of the day before. Others were moving hurriedly down the street, anxious to find a source for news of the fall of their pharaoh. A number of people looked at Inuyasha as he came into view, but were held back by several of the pharaoh's guard. Apparently the single soldier who had accompanied them to the house the night before had been joined by others. The priest from the night before had been replaced by two others from the temple.

"Good morning," one of the priests said as he approached Inuyasha and Kagome. "Are you ready to return to the temple?"

Inuyasha nodded and looked nervously at the crowd that had started to form. The guards managed to keep them back as the priests joined the others. "The soldiers will make sure we get to the temple quickly. Word about yesterday is out, and people are especially curious to see the living deity. They mean no harm," he explained to Inuyasha as they walked. "It's just that none have ever had the honor of seeing a living deity. They only wish to worship you, my lord."

"Feh!" Inuyasha was becoming more and more agitated by the number of people joining the crowd. If they didn't get out of there soon, they wouldn't be able to make it down the street.

Several guards broke away from crowd control and took places on each side of Inuyasha and Kagome. The priests walked in front, leading the small procession down the street. The temple wasn't far, but the journey seemed like a lifetime to the hanyou, who wasn't happy about the attention he was getting.

Shippou and Souta walked behind, each carrying a wrapped package of bread to take with them to the temple. The kitsune could hear people whispering about the strange creature that walked with them, and realized that they were talking about him. He had forgotten to transform to his human shape. After a few minutes he realized he liked the attention he was getting in his regular form, and decided that he would no longer try to disguise himself. He was in the presence of a deity, after all. Maybe someone would ask him to be a deity, too.

A second crowd had formed around the temple. More guards were stationed around the temple entrance. They moved quickly, motioning for people to move back. It didn't take long for a clear path to be opened for Inuyasha and his companions. They made their way into the temple. The buzz of excited voices followed them into the quiet temple.

The head priest had heard the commotion and come into the outer chamber to greet them. "Welcome back. I hope you didn't have any trouble during the night, or on your way back here this morning."

The two priests who had walked with the deity quickly filled in the head priest on the events of the previous night and that morning. Apparently people had started gathering outside of Kagome's home only minutes after she and Inuyasha had arrived. The temple priests and the pharaoh's guard had managed to keep order. Fortunately, no one in the crowd was willing to anger the deity inside. They only wished to get a glimpse of him for themselves, and possibly even be lucky enough to greet him personally.

The head priest motioned the group to the inner temple. They found Miroku, Sango, and the others already there. It appeared that they had just finished eating their breakfasts, too.

Three priestesses were busy clearing the table. They turned when Kagome came into the room and waved happily at her.

"Excuse me, " she said as she moved to talk to the girls. The four had gone through priestess training together and had become good friends. The girls giggled nervously as they asked Kagome all about her deity.

"What's he really like?" "Is it true that you're his wife?" "What's it like to share a bed with a deity?" The girls whispered questions to Kagome, who only blushed in response.

"Perhaps you three can finish your talk with Kagome later," the head priest said sternly to the young women.

"Sorry, Kagome. We have to go. Promise that you'll find some time to talk to us before you leave."

"I promise." Kagome looked nervously at Inuyasha. It was obvious that he wished he could be away from all the noise and people.

The priestess quickly returned to her deity, following him to the stone table they had sat at the night before. They sat next to each other, with Miroku and Sango across from them. The head priest sat next to Inuyasha while various other priests filled the remaining chairs.

"Souta," the head priest called to the boy. "Perhaps you can take the other boys to the outer temple and show them around?" It was more of a command than a request, but the boys seemed happy to get away from the seriousness that filled the inner temple.

The head priest folded his hands together on the table in front of him. "Seems that word of Naraku's destruction has already spread throughout the city. Since many of his own personal guard were there to witness what happened, there's no doubt that our pharaoh was not who we thought he was."

Another priest spoke up. "Never before has there been a pharaoh who lived as long as Naraku did. He was not in favor with many citizens of the city, either. Apparently his ways had turned many followers against him."

The head priest nodded. "There have been rumors for many years of the torture that he inflicted upon anyone who didn't agree with him.:

"His treatment of his own inner circle wasn't any better." A woman's voice came from the doorway leading to the back section of the temple, where the priests lived.

Inuyasha and Kagome looked up to see Kagura enter the room. Her hair and gown were immaculate, as always. "Naraku was not human."

Several of the priests exclaimed in surprise. "Not human?"

"Oh, the original pharaoh was human. The man you knew as Naraku wasn't really the pharaoh."

"He had taken on the guise of the pharaoh," Miroku added. By the look of the dark circles under his eyes, he had been up all night helping the priests sort through the facts and rumors surrounding the demise of the land's leader.

Inuyasha and the others related the story as told to them by Naraku in his chambers. They told the others about the spider thief, Onigumo, and how he had taken in evil creatures in order to gain power. They spoke about his desire for the priestess, Kikyou.

Inuyasha broke the train of thought. "Kikyou."

Miroku looked at his deity. "I have already made arrangements for her body to be re-interred. It won't take as long as the original mummification process, but will still take some time."

The deity nodded.

"Surely you'll want her returned to the temple, my lord?" The head priest looked at Inuyasha.

"Kikyou did nothing wrong. She was tricked by that damned thief." Inuyasha clenched one hand into a fist and slammed it into the palm of the other hand. He felt responsible for what had happened to his first priestess. Seeing her as he had the night before had reinforced his own guilt.

"You were both wronged, my lord." Kagome placed a hand on his shoulder, speaking formally in front of the temple priests. The look on her face told him that she wished she could do more to comfort him at that moment.

Inuyasha placed one hand over Kagome's. "I know. I just wish I could change what happened."

"There's no way to change the past. Besides, you would have never known Kagome if you hadn't been sealed, my lord." Miroku smiled at his deity.

The hanyou nodded silently.

Miroku took a drink from a cup on the table in front of him and folded his hands in front of him. "Perhaps we should give Kikyou a fitting burial this time, my lord?"

Kagome felt Inuyasha squeeze her hand gently.

"It would be the right thing to do, Inuyasha, " the priestess whispered softly.

Again, Inuyasha nodded mutely. He could picture the stark, bland stone of Kikyou's tomb. She deserved to have her life celebrated. She had been condemned unfairly, and they had a chance to change that, at least.

Miroku turned to the head priest. "I will stay and make sure that everything is taken care of. We'll need to gather things for her to use in the afterlife," he paused as he became lost in his thoughts. There would be much for him to do in preparation for the return of Kikyou's mummy to her tomb.

The head priest turned to the deity. "There's nothing more for you to do, my lord. Of course, you are more than welcome to stay here for as long as you desire. It's an honor having your presence in our humble temple."

Inuyasha nodded and glanced at Kagome. The priestess spoke for her deity. "Inuyasha has already told me that it is necessary for him to leave tomorrow morning. We will be returning to his temple at that time."

The priest nodded. "Perhaps you would let us honor you while you are here."

One of the three temple priestesses spoke. "We could honor our lord with a feast and celebration."

The head priest looked at Inuyasha. "Will you let us do at least that much for you while you are here?"

Miroku answered for his deity. "I'm sure Inuyasha would be happy to accept your offer. If there's anything I can do, please let me know."

The three priestesses excused themselves to prepare for the celebration. Several of the younger priests followed them. Before long the sounds of their preparations reached the group remaining in the inner temple.

The head priest looked at the visiting deity. "Perhaps I can convince my lord to give audience to some of the people waiting outside the temple. They only want to honor your presence here, after all."

Inuyasha grumbled. He was already feeling extremely uncomfortable with the number of people surrounding him in the inner temple. He was beginning to wish that he had already returned to his own temple.

Kagome looked at him with concern. "If you aren't up to it, my lord, I'm sure the people would understand." The priestess was doing her best to maintain a formal manner in front of the others.

He simply shook his head. Unfortunately, he knew that this was one of the duties he had to suffer in order to maintain his position as a deity. "Perhaps a few…"

Miroku stood up. "I think maybe it would be best to allow only one or two worshippers at a time. Inuyasha is used to the peace and quiet of his own temple. We aren't used to crowds of followers all coming to pay homage at once."

The head priest nodded and turned to give instructions to one the assistant priests. It didn't take long for preparations to be made in the outer temple. Kagome and Miroku stood on each side of Inuyasha, who sat in a rather large chair carved from stone. The priestess lay one hand on the shoulder of her deity. She could feel the tension in his muscles. She leaned towards him and whispered in his ear.

"It's only for a little while, Inuyasha. Then you can relax during the celebration before we return to my family's home. Remember, too, that tomorrow we leave for your temple."

Inuyasha simply grumbled and took Kagome's face in his hands, giving her a gentle kiss before the first of the worshippers was led into the temple.

Miroku and Kagome did their best to help keep Inuyasha comfortable as the temple priests led in worshippers one or two at a time. They could tell that their deity was growing increasingly agitated with each visitor to the temple.

Each person who came to pay homage to Inuyasha brought with them an offering. Soon there was a growing pile of gifts for the visiting deity. Various food items were piled on a low table at the back of the room, while other items, including small statues, pottery, and even personal items formed a second pile on the floor in front of it. Gifts of gold coins were placed in a small coffer.

After a while, the priests led in a very young and beautiful woman. She was dressed more provocatively than the other followers had been and smiled at Inuyasha as she slowly walked up to him. It was obvious that she was not a typical follower, and that what she had to offer her deity wasn't something that could be placed on the table with the other gifts.

Miroku stared at the woman, noticing that she wore a gown that not only completely exposed her breasts, but that was slit high enough to show that she was one who practiced the art of shaving her body. The scent of expensive perfume filled the temple and she ran her tongue seductively over lips that were a deep red from the lipstick she wore.

"My lord," she drawled as she approached the make-shift throne. "I humbly offer my services to you."

Inuyasha grumbled. He knew enough to recognize a prostitute when he saw one. "I have no need of your kind of services!" he yelled.

"My lord, " Kagome tried to calm him by placing her hand on his arm. She had never seen him so angry.

"Inuyasha, perhaps I should see this young woman outside," Miroku started. His eyes had not left the prostitute.

"Perhaps you should let one of the other priests handle this." Sango's voice came from just behind him. The lecherous priest hadn't heard her approach and now found himself with an angry and jealous youkai exterminator waiting to see how he would get out of his predicament.

"Of course. I only meant that Inuyasha appears to ready for the next follower and that someone should escort this young woman back to the street."

The woman seemed to be enjoying the trouble she was causing. She smiled slyly at the deity and ran her tongue over her lips again.

Inuyasha stood up, addressing the prostitute again. "I do not need the type of services you offer."

Kagome looked surprised as Inuyasha indicated her to the others in the room. The prostitute calmly looked Kagome over and smiled.

"As you wish, my lord. I will take my leave. But, if you should ever find yourself desiring my services…"

"Are you stupid, woman? I have made myself clear that I'm not interested in anything you are offering me." Inuyasha was shaking with rage. His voice echoed off the stone walls of the temple as it continued to grow louder. "It is bad enough that a whore insult me, but to insult my wife is unforgivable!"

The woman appeared worried, realizing that she had angered the deity. She glanced around, hoping to gain aid from Miroku, but the priest was already busy trying to calm a very angry Sango.

"It was not my intention to insult anyone, my lord. I simply offer you the only thing I have to offer one such as yourself." The woman bowed to Inuyasha and turned away. Two of the temple priests quickly ushered her out of the temple.

Inuyasha turned to Miroku. "No more. I've seen enough people for one day."

Miroku nodded. "Yes, my lord." He signaled to the temple priests that Inuyasha would not be seeing any more visitors.

"Inuyasha," Kagome said hesitantly. He still appeared to be extremely angry and she didn't want to do or say anything to anger him further.

The hanyou shook his head. "I don't want to see anyone else today." He pulled Kagome to him and held her for a moment.

The priestess could feel him shaking with his anger. She slid her arms around his neck and buried her face against his shoulder. "It's all right, Inuyasha. She's gone."

He put his mouth near her ear and spoke softly so that only she could hear him. "I love you, Kagome. I won't allow you to be insulted by anyone - especially someone like her. You are so much better than a woman like that."

"My lord?" One of the temple priests stood by hesitantly. He was uncertain what he should do next.

Inuyasha looked up, still holding the priestess in his arms. "I've seen enough people for today."

"Of course, my lord." The head priest had come into the outer temple when he heard the commotion. "Perhaps you would like to return to the inner temple?"

"Is there somewhere private, away from everyone else?" Inuyasha asked as they walked back to the inner temple. He had taken Kagome's hand and held it firmly.

The head priest nodded. "Perhaps you would like to use my personal quarters? I'm afraid we don't have anything else that is private. The temple priests sleep in a common room."

Inuyasha nodded and pulled Kagome with him as the head priest led them to his quarters. He needed some time away from the noise and people around him. He had spent most of his life alone, and more recently become accustomed to the relative quite of his own temple. The hanyou felt himself wishing that he had already returned to his temple, but he had promised Kagome time with her family.

When they were alone, Inuyasha drew Kagome to him and held her. She could feel the tenseness in him as she slid her arms around him and reached up to kiss him lightly on the cheek.

"I don't know what I'd do without you," he mumbled.

Kagome could feel him relaxing. "I'm here, Inuyasha. I'm not going anywhere."

He held her close for a moment and then leaned down to kiss her.

"I'm just not used to people," he said as way of apology. "I really want to just get back to my temple. To get away from all this."

"We'll be back there soon. I'm sorry you had to stay here because of me."

"One more day isn't going to make any difference. Besides, I promised you could spend time visiting your family."

The room was sparsely furnished, as was expected for a priest's room. There was a low, wooden cot for sleeping, a table for holding an old lamp to light the room, a chest for the priest's belongings, and one rather uncomfortable looking chair. Inuyasha pulled Kagome with him and moved to the wall, sliding his back down the cool stone as he lowered himself to the floor. He crossed his legs and pulled Kagome onto his lap.

"I just need a few moments," he explained as he wrapped his arms tightly around her.

Kagome nodded and cuddled against him. She always felt so safe in his arms. The priestess could feel her deity relaxing against her. They sat quietly for a while, simply enjoying the other's presence.

"We'll be back at your temple in a few days," the priestess said softly after a while.

"We'll be there before tomorrow night," he corrected her.

Kagome pulled back from him and looked at him in confusion. "It took us several days to get here. We're not leaving until morning, unless you changed your mind."

"We're leaving in the morning as we agreed. We'll be back at the temple before the sun goes down. Don't worry. I'll get us there."

Kagome tried to question him further, but he silenced her with a kiss. She found herself unable to resist him and kissed him back passionately.

The sound of voices came through the flimsy door. Apparently the celebration in Inuyasha's honor was ready to begin.

The deity grunted and pushed himself to his feet, sill holding Kagome against him. "I'm really dreading this," he mumbled as he made his way to the chamber door.

Kagome stopped him before he could push the door out of the way. She wound her arms around him and went up on her toes to place a firm kiss on his mouth. "I'll be right by your side, Inuyasha. Just remember, these people are our friends. It won't be like this afternoon."

He grunted and returned her kiss before leading her into the corridor outside the head priest's chamber.

The inner temple had been transformed while they had been away from it. The room was brightly lit with candles and lamps and the center table was already filled with food for the celebration. Several young girls waited at one end of the room, giggling as the deity and his priestess passed them.

"Those are the temple dancers," Kagome explained.

Inuyasha glanced at them. The girls were much younger than Kagome and wore hardly any clothing. Their eyes were darkly lined with kohl, as was the custom of the land, and their hair was slick with perfumed oil.

Nearby the dancers stood several young women wearing decorative robes. The girls were more fully clothed than the dancers, but still had their eyes and hair done in the manner of the other girls. Kagome motioned in their direction and explained that they were the temple singers. Inuyasha nodded silently and continued moving to the center of the temple.

The head priest had changed into his formal attire and greeted Inuyasha and Kagome as though they had only just arrived at the temple. His words were apparently part of the usual ritual for greeting visiting dignitaries, changed where appropriate for the unusual situation of honoring an actual deity.

Kagome smiled when she saw her family standing to one side of the table. She led Inuyasha in their direction and gave each family member a hug. Inuyasha lowered his head in a silent bow. He seemed unsure of just how he should be acting around Kagome's family.

"Inuyasha," her mother said with a smile. She moved forward and bowed slightly in front of the deity.

Kagome's grandfather came forward and offered his hand to Inuyasha. He inclined his head slightly as the deity shook his hand.

The head priest walked up to the group. "My lord, if you and Kagome would care to be seated, we can begin."

Inuyasha and Kagome were directed to seats near the center of the long table. Both chairs were placed on a low stone dais so that the two were seated higher than the rest of the guests. Kagome's family took seats to the side of the priestess and the head priest sat next to Inuyasha. Soon the rest of the priests from the temple and various visitors were seated around the table. Miroku and Sango were placed directly across from Inuyasha and Kagome so that they could talk during the celebration.

Inuyasha did his best to be pleasant during the festivities, but longed more than anything to be away from the temple. The food was excellent and they were treated with various forms of entertainment, most of which he hardly noticed. What he did notice was how radiant Kagome was sitting next to him. She was enjoying the chance to talk with her family and friends and he found himself feeling glad that he had at least been able to give her that much.

About halfway through the evening, the head priest turned to Kagome's mother and asked her if she would grace them with a song. She agreed and stood up, and then looked at Kagome and asked her to sing with her.

Kagome blushed. "I really don't…."

The hanyou touched her arm lightly. "I'd like to hear you sing again, Kagome."

The priestess reluctantly left her seat and followed her mother to a spot in front of the regular temple singers. Several musicians lifted their instruments and waited for instructions. Kagome's mother looked at her and the priestess simply nodded. She already knew which song the woman would choose. Her mother turned and spoke quietly to one of the musicians. He nodded and played a few notes. The other musicians soon joined him, playing the introduction of another song dedicated to the love or Osiris and Isis.

The two women began to sing, their voices harmonizing as they sang about the love of one deity for another. Kagome found herself looking at Inuyasha, her feelings for her own deity inspiring her as she lifted her voice to him. Her mother was the stronger singer, but Kagome's soft, gentle voice complemented her voice beautifully. A hush came over the room while they sang. Only the sounds of their voices and the musicians could be heard. All too soon the song was over.

The room erupted with applause as the priests and visitors showed their appreciation for the mother and daughter duet. Kagome's mother smiled and hugged her daughter, who only blushed at the attention her singing had received. The priestess quickly returned to her seat, blushing again as several of the seated guests complemented her singing.

Inuyasha didn't say anything as she sat down, but Kagome could feel him grasp her hand and give it a gentle squeeze.

The rest of the celebration went quickly. More food was brought to the table. The temple dancers continued to entertain the group, and the temple singers did several more songs. The three priestesses who had spoken with Kagome earlier came to her and chatted excitedly with their friend.

Kagome introduced them to Inuyasha. The deity did his best to be polite, but he was starting to feel very uncomfortable with the number of people and amount of noise around him. He found himself looking at Kagome to calm himself. She smiled at him and slid her hand into his, gently squeezing it. "Thank you for everything, " she whispered.

"My lord," Miroku began, trying to get Inuyasha's attention. The effect of the scorpion poison and the lack of sleep the night before seemed to be taking their toll on the priest. His skin appeared somewhat ashen and his eyes had developed even darker circles around them.

Inuyasha looked at his priest. "You should get some sleep. You're not going to be any good to anyone if you keep pushing it like this."

Miroku nodded. The head priest had heard their exchange and offered Miroku the use of his quarters.

Sango looked at him with concern. "You should take their advise, Miroku. You don't look too good."

"Thanks," the priest drawled. But, he still agreed to get some rest. Sango excused herself and helped him to the head priest's chamber. It became apparent after a short time that the youkai exterminator wasn't returning any time soon.

Inuyasha mumbled to Kagome. "Maybe it's time we get out of here, too."

Kagome nodded. She knew that Inuyasha was very uncomfortable with all the commotion around him. She leaned past the deity to speak quietly to the head priest.

The head priest nodded and stood up. He addressed the attendees of the celebration, thanking them for coming. He reminded them that they could pay further homage to the visiting deity at his own temple. After his short speech he turned to Inuyasha.

"We have truly been honored with your presence at our humble temple. Should you ever be in need of anything, please be sure to let us know. There is nothing we wouldn't do for you," he paused and looked at Kagome, "or for your priestess. Kagome is practically family to the priests of this temple. I, for one, can say that I'm pleased that she finally found her calling. A priestess with her gifts is rare. I can see that you do appreciate her."

Inuyasha mumbled his thanks for the celebration and turned to Kagome. "Can we just get out of here?"

The priestess nodded. She led him to where her family was standing. "Mama, Inuyasha and I are going to head back to the house. It's been a rather long day."

Her mother smiled. "Of course, Kagome. We're going there now, too. Perhaps we can all walk together?"

Souta came running up with Shippou and Kohaku on his heels. "Hey, Mom. Can I stay at the temple tonight?"

His mother looked at her son with his new friends. "As long as the priests don't mind, it's all right with me."

Souta and Kohaku bowed to Inuyasha, but Shippou jumped into Kagome's arms.

"Kagome? Is it all right with you for me to stay here tonight?"

Inuyasha turned to him. "As long as you're away from us, I don't care where you stay."

Shippou gave Kagome a sad look. "Kagome, Inuyasha's being mean to me."

"Inuyasha, " the priestess gently chided her deity. She had taken a liking to the little kitsune and didn't understand why the hanyou was so impatient.

Shippou cuddled against the priestess. "I'll see you in the morning, Kagome." He jumped out of her arms and raced after his new friends.

"Feh!" Inuyasha had reached the end of his patience and grabbed Kagome's hand, pulling her with him to the front of the temple. Her mother and grandfather quickly followed.

"You will stop by before you leave for your temple, won't you?" the head priest called after them.

Kagome turned and waved at the head priest. "We'll be sure to stop by on our way out of the city."

Several guards formed a circle around the small group and assured that they were not bothered on the short walk back to the house. More guards stood watch outside the simple dwelling, keeping back curious onlookers.

Kagome's grandfather chatted about the temple and what he liked best about the celebration as the four made their way inside. Kagome's mother lit several oil lamps in the main room. It had grown late and the sun had already set, casting the inside of the house into darkness.

"The celebration went well, don't you think?" Kagome's mother asked of nobody in particular.

Kagome agreed and Inuyasha simply nodded, looking tired and impatient.

Kagome's mother hugged her daughter. "I'm so happy you're here, Kagome. I've been worried about you, not knowing where you were or if you were safe." She looked over at Inuyasha. "I can see that my worries were unfounded. I know that Inuyasha will make sure nothing happens to you."

Inuyasha shifted uncomfortably. "There is nothing I wouldn't do for Kagome."

Kagome's grandfather had made himself comfortable on an oversized chair while the others talked. He now snored loudly as the excitement of the day took its toll on the old man.

"I'm sure the two of you are tired, too," Kagome's mother started. She gave her daughter another hug. "I'm just so happy you were able to visit, Kagome. However, I think both you and Inuyasha need some sleep. It's been a very long day."

The priestess nodded and looked at Inuyasha.

"Mama, " Kagome said as she hugged her mother again. "Thank you for everything. It's important that Inuyasha return to his temple, though, so we'll be leaving tomorrow morning."

The woman nodded. "This will always be your home, Kagome. As much as I wish you could stay, I know your first duty is to your deity. And to your husband."

"Goodnight, Mama."

Inuyasha made an awkward bowing movement. It was still obvious that the hanyou had no idea how he should act towards Kagome's family. The entire situation was new to him and it frustrated him to think that he might be embarrassing the priestess in front of her family.

"Goodnight, " he mumbled before letting Kagome gently pull him in the direction of her room.

Once they were safely away from the main part of the house, Inuyasha pulled Kagome close to him. He hugged her tightly but didn't say anything for a time.

"Is something wrong?" Her deity's silence had her worried that she had somehow angered him.

He kissed her in response. "No. I'm just wishing we were already back at my temple. We'd have some privacy there. " He glanced at her small, hard cot. "That's hardly a bed for us to share."

Kagome blushed when she realized the implication of his words. "Tomorrow night, Inuyasha."

"You'll have to dance for me again," he mumbled as he sat against the wall, pulling her into his lap with him.

Kagome buried her face between his chin and shoulder, placing a gentle kiss on his neck. "I'll dance for you when we're back at the temple, my lord."

"Well, then, you'd better get some sleep tonight," he instructed her. "You aren't going to get too much sleep tomorrow night, after all."

Kagome giggled and snuggled closer to him. "Pervert."

Inuyasha kissed the top of her head. "Sleep, I said."

He sat holding Kagome, listening to her breathing slow as she fell asleep in his arms. He could hear voices from the street outside the small window. The guards who watched the house would make sure they weren't disturbed. Inuyasha let his thoughts wander, worrying about the upcoming new moon as he held his sleeping priestess in his arms. For him it would be a sleepless night.