Kagome revealed in the natural feeling that overtook her as she entered the bedroom she shared with Inuyasha. Her hair was damp from the shower and her teeth chattered as she clamored onto the futon and beneath the comforter.
Inuyasha had been dozing until Kagome had entered the room. As she shifted to get herself comfortable, the inuhanyou wrapped his arm around her waist and pushed her head down to his shoulder.
Kagome smiled gently and shuddered one last time as she allowed the warmth to sink into her chilled body.
"Better?" Inuyasha mumbled into her hair.
She gave a muted nod and buried her face into the crook of Inuyasha's neck before throwing her arm over his chest. Inuyasha inhaled deeply, taking in all of Kagome's scent.
"Kagome," he said quietly, gently clawing the tangles from her damp hair.
"Huh?" she asked, not bothering to open her eyes.
"Are you feeling okay?"
She nodded again, sighing as Inuyasha's claws dipped down to rub her back.
"Are you sure?"
This time Kagome cracked her eye open long enough to glare at Inuyasha before nodding once more and letting herself enjoy Inuyasha's attentions.
Inuyasha sighed and let it go. If she didn't want to talk about it, he wasn't going to push her.
Kagome shifted restlessly for a moment before growling and sitting up enough to glare at Inuyasha. "You did that on purpose."
Inuyasha tried to feign innocence but it was ruined by the grin that tilted his lips. Kagome gave another frustrated growl before snatching the pillow behind the hanyou's head and effectively smashing it directly into his face.
Inuyasha tried valiantly not to laugh at her disgruntled expression but the effect was lost by the small breath of air that escaped his lips. Kagome raised the pillow above her head with all intent on bringing it down upon Inuyasha once more when a clawed hand grabbed her wrist and rolled her over, pinning her to the ground.
Inuyasha smirked at the pout on Kagome's face. She was adorable.
"Don't you ever learn?" he asked, bringing his face very close to hers.
"Obviously not," grumbled Kagome as she struggled against his hold. She knew one sure way to get herself free, but it would probably backfire like it did on the train. Unless she wanted it backfire . . .
Inuyasha's brows lowered at Kagome's lost look as she stared at him. "Earth to Kagome. Are you in there?"
"Huh?" was the intelligent response.
Kagome shook her head slightly to rid herself of anymore perverted thoughts and stuck her tongue out. "Baka."
Inuyasha grinned again and sniffed lightly. A slightly confused look passed over his face before he let go of Kagome's wrist and settled them both down under the comforter again.
"Inuyasha?" Kagome said lightly, letting her confusion show. Inuyasha never ended their antics so quickly or with so little hassle.
Inuyasha guided Kagome's head to the crook in his neck so that she couldn't see his face. He took a deep breath and consciously tried to control his instincts. Of course Kagome had to decide NOW of all times to go into heat! The kamis are laughing at me . . .
"Inuyasha," Kagome repeated, this time with more anger then confusion.
"Go to sleep, Kagome."
"Come on, we both need our rest. Go ahead and sleep. I'll make sure nothing happens to ya."
Kagome sighed and let it go. Inuyasha had gone into something she called 'stubborn hanyou mode.' She wasn't going to get anything out of him tonight.
With a small grunt of frustration, the young miko nodded, rewrapped her arm around Inuyasha and promptly closed her eyes in search of sleep.
Once Inuyasha was sure Kagome was asleep the hanyou slipped out of her hold and padded across the floor and out the room. He silently prayed Kagome slept through his absence or she would be quite cross with him in the morning.
Miroku was where Inuyasha knew he would be, in the training room half hoping Sango would show up. Inuyasha smirked as he came across the monk leaning against a stack of padded mats, absently tapping a bokken on his leg.
"You've got it bad," commented Inuyasha half-heartedly as he sat down beside his adopted brother.
"I could say the same for you," replied Miroku.
"Yeah, but that is hardly anything new. Kagome's had me since I was nine."
Miroku grunted in agreement and stilled the bokken for a moment. "So, how do you feel about your wife being the incarnation of a very powerful jewel?"
Inuyasha sighed and took the bokken from Miroku, studying the polished wood before replying. "It doesn't change anything. I still feel the same way for Kagome as I did before. It just . . . complicates things."
"She's still human."
"But now she's tangled up with Naraku."
The pair simultaneously let out a sigh of frustration and Inuyasha discarded the bokken by chucking in across the room.
"I should be getting back to Kagome now." Inuyasha stood and turned to leave. "She'll get pissy if she wakes up and I'm not there."
"Oh the married life," the monk teased lightly.
The hanyou grunted and shook his head. "It's not like that. Kagome's . . . yeah, well her body is doing that thing where it drives my instincts insane."
Miroku looked up and gave him a half frown. "There's something in the air tonight. A promise of foreboding. Be careful. Oh, and while we're on that subject, try not to let your instincts get the best of you."
"I will," replied Inuyasha, offering Miroku a grin before turning and leaving the training room.
Miroku glanced at his watch and sighed. Perhaps Sango wasn't coming.
Inuyasha couldn't hold back a smile as he watched Kagome curled up in the blankets. With disturbing her as little as possible, Inuyasha laid down beside her on the futon and proceeded to tuck her to his chest. Kagome released a small sigh of contentment and curled her fingers around Inuyasha neck.
For a moment it was easy to believe they were back at the mansion and everything was like it use to be. Then Inuyasha looked up at the ceiling and instead of his canopy bed he was greeted with a simple, white ceiling. The old days were gone and there was no going back, ever. Tomorrow Taijiya would give them new identities and a way towards the city and into the palace where everyone awaited them.
The hanyou sighed and closed his eyes. He didn't know how long he lay there, but despite it all, Inuyasha could not fall asleep. Kagome's 'heat' scent was very obvious but even that was not the full cause of his insomnia. Miroku's warning echoed in his ears and he truly wondered if someone, or something, beside Kouga had been following them. He had not sensed anyone, but he would not put his family at risk by assuming they were safe.
Even though the demon exterminator's land was protected by numerous wards and an ookami youkai lounged on the trees outside Inuyasha could not shake the feeling that if he let his guard down something would attack.
He knew the wards would warn the household of any intruders and Kouga could more than likely disperse of any youkai before they even reached the house. Still, the air held a promise of trouble and while he held the incarnation of the Shikon no Tama in his arms Inuyasha wouldn't place any bets on the extent of the house's defenses.
Dai stepped out into the night air and released a happy sigh. It was nearing 4:00am and the Hello Kitty! watch on the little hanyou's wrist reminded her that her mother would be cross if she found out she was awake.
The air was chilly and Dai wrapped her soft pink silk robe closer to herself. Luckily the voices in her head had decided it was much too early to be bothering her and remained silent. The city air smelled faintly of oil and grease but it was much preferred to the almost suffocating atmosphere within the palace. Cars could be heard in the distance and the city lights glowed like a bonfire in the night sky.
The little hanyou huddled close to the rails after a breeze of cold air and curled even deeper into her robe.
"I assume you would be Dai?"
Dai glanced briefly at the voice before nodding. "You be Kagura. I knew you come. He'd do that. Like moth to fire."
Kagura smiled at the child and landed lightly beside her on the balcony. "You know why I'm here, then?"
"As predictable as winter wind."
Kagura opened her hand and held it before Dai. The little hanyou smiled gently at her and took her hand. "S'okay. I know you."
"You know me?" repeated Kagura.
Both their heads raised at the sound of the inside door opening. Through the glass panel that divided the balcony and the bedroom, Dai watched as her mother approached the bed.
"Let's go," Dai said as Kagura lifted the feather from her hair and threw it into the air.
"You're quite anxious, little one," observed the wind sorceress as they were both lifted into the air and upon the feather.
Dai watched as the palace shrunk and the distance increased. "Only to avoid more blood shed, sorceress. You would know, better than anyone." Absently, the little hanyou stared at her Hello Kitty! watch. 6:45 a.m. Losing sense of time cause it just don't matter no more? Dai uttered a helpless sigh and huddled behind Kagura on the feather.
The wind was colder then ever.
Kouga was on the porch when Taijiya opened his front door. Without a word the human stepped out of the house and shut the door behind him. The ookami made no greeting and continued to stare at the east.
"What time is it?" Kouga asked after a few minutes of silence.
Taijiya looked down at his digital watched and replied. "7:15 a.m."
They shared a glance before both heads stared towards the east again. "The sun rose at 6:45 yesterday," Kouga said.
"And it has yet to rise today," finished Taijiya.
The human's words rung true. The sun had not risen and their world was still shrouded in darkness.
"The question is," said Miroku from the door as he stepped outside to stare at the star filled sky, "Will the sun rise?"
Sesshomaru paused outside the Library doors. Everyone else was inside, including his father who had delayed returning to the Western Lands. With a deep, calming breath Sesshomaru grabbed the door knob and walked inside.
It was quiet. Hisu sat beside the window, staring into nothing while Inutashio comforted Ai. Rin sat on the leather couch next to Kaede. The miko had planned to return with Inutashio but certain circumstances had delayed her travels.
After all, it wasn't every day that a family member is kidnapped by Naraku.
Ai had gone in to check on the little hanyou a quarter before seven to find her missing and the sliding door to the balcony unlocked. Further probing with her miko powers had triggered her Sight and she saw just where her youngest child had disappeared to.
Inutashio waited for his son to sit down before speaking. His voice was cold and hushed, but at least his instincts were in check. "There is something to be done," he started quietly.
Hisu nodded, finally turning away from the night sky to address them. "I could dispatch the entirety of our troops but it would make little difference. We have no idea where Naraku's castle is or if we could even get in there alive."
"He seeks to divide us," Kaede said quietly, shaking her head as she did so. "He would not directly attack us. He will attempt to destroy us one by one."
Hisu nodded and looked towards Inutashio. "What would you do?"
Inutashio shook his head. "My options are minimal. Had we the location of Naraku's castle I would see if there were some way to sneak in and retrieve Dai, but seeing as we lack even that-"
"There's a way," Ai interrupted suddenly, squeezing her husband's hand as she said so.
Kaede's eye lit up with recognition. "Do you think such is possible?"
"What?" asked Sesshomaru, seeing a ray of hope for what it was.
"Dai said she was connected to the Four Souls, didn't she?" asked Ai rhetorically.
"How does that help us?" asked Rin.
"Kagome-chan is the incarnation of the Shikon no Tama," explained Kaede.
"The Shikon no Tama is the connection," stated Ai. "Kagome and Inuyasha are both connected to the Shikon no Tama and the jewel is connected to Dai."
"We use the jewel to find Dai and in result find Naraku's castle," Sesshomaru whispered to himself as Ai smiled with a new determination in her eyes.
Inuyasha stood by the window as Kagome tossed restlessly in her sleep. It was early morning but the sky wouldn't tell you that. Miroku had knocked on the door moments before wondering if Inuyasha was aware of the new development.
The hanyou had been sleeping, albeit somewhat uncomfortably to keep himself from acting upon his instincts. He had been almost grateful for the excuse to forgo rest and had spent the last half hour staring out on the night sky. Something had happened, but what?
A light knock on the door was the notice Kouga gave before stalking in and glaring at Inuyasha.
"The sun has disappeared from the sky and all you can do is stare into space," he observed calmly.
"What would you have me do? Run around like a chicken with my head cut off and scream that the moon would fall next?" Inuyasha asked just as calmly, much too tired to get worked up over Kouga.
The wolf youkai snorted before shaking his head. "Nah, there's enough humans doing that already."
Inuyasha allowed himself a smile before shaking his head. "Is there some reason you're here, wolf?"
"Yeah. Your folks are on the video com. They want to speak to you and Kagome."
Kagome had been dreaming when Inuyasha woke her. The young girl raised her head off the pillow long enough to glare at the hanyou before rolling over in the blanket and ignoring him.
"You need to get up, Kagome," Inuyasha said gently, unwrapping the blanket from around Kagome's torso and discarding it out of her reach.
"The sun isn't even up, yet," she argued in return, allowing Inuyasha to pull her into his lap and push the hair out of her face.
"The sun didn't rise this morning," he replied quietly.
"Didn't rise?" Kagome's mind, still half-asleep, tried desperately to understand the gravity of Inuyasha's statement, but she couldn't help but feel anymore then mildly surprised.
"Yeah, as in we have no sunlight. We can still see the stars. There's no sun."
"Okay, okay," she grumbled, reaching up to rest her hand on Inuyasha chest. "Now, why'd you wake me up for that?"
Inuyasha shook his head and stood with Kagome still in his arms. She gave a small sound of protest at the sudden movement but didn't fight his grip.
"Where are we going?" she asked, snuggling deeper into Inuyasha's arms.
"The living room. My parents are on the video com."
"What do they want?"
The hanyou shook his head and gently set Kagome down on the couch in front of the video com before sitting down beside her. She rubbed her eyes for a moment before shaking her head and focusing on the screen in front of her. "What's- yawn- wrong?" she asked.
Ai gave a small, pained smile before speaking. "Dai's been kidnapped."
"WHAT!" everyone in the room shouted simultaneously, which ended up making quite the racket considering all the house occupants including Shippou and Buyo (not that Buyo could talk) were in the room. Suddenly Kagome wasn't so tired.
"She was kidnapped?" repeated Inuyasha, disbelief shown clearly across his face.
Ai nodded, her grief obvious. "This morning around 6:45. The wind sorceress took her."
"Kagura?" asked Inuyasha.
His mother nodded again. "Did she at least put up a fight?" continued Inuyasha, not quite believing his own ears.
"No. My Sight was triggered and I saw Dai accept Kagura's hand. She was still on the balcony when I went in to check on her."
"She was on the balcony?" Miroku spoke up for the first time. "Why was she not in the palace where the wards would protect her?"
Ai shrugged and the screen switched from Ai to Inutashio. "I'm more concerned with how to get her back," interrupted the Inuyoukai.
Miroku nodded at his adopted father and waited for him to continued. "We have only one link to get her back."
"We do?" asked Kagome.
"Yes," confirmed Inutashio. "And that's the link you share through the jewel."
"The jewel?" muttered Inuyasha, a frown forming on his lips.
The screen switched to Ai. "Dai is connected to the jewel, as are both you and Kagome, Inuyasha. If you are able to activate that link then we would be able to locate not only Dai, but Naraku's castle as well."
"How are they to activate it?" asked Miroku, his fingers lightly skimming the rosary of his cursed hand.
"That's where I come in," replied Kaede. "Spiritual energy should be able to activate the link. Through that you'll be able to communicate with Dai."
"Whose spiritual energy will be used?" Miroku leaned towards the screen.
"Anyone who has been negatively affected by Naraku can contribute. It adds up to quite a bit of energy."
"You don't say," muttered Kouga sarcastically.
"Where do you need us?" said Inuyasha seriously. Any possible humor had disappeared from his voice.
"The Go-Shimboku in five days," stated Inutashio. "Try not to be late."
If Dai thought it was cold before, it was nothing compared to now. Her silk robe did nothing to defend herself against the biting chill. The hanyou child closed her eyes and sank her head to her knees, tightly wrapping her arms around her legs.
She was in a room with no walls. There was no light and no sound, only darkness. Kagura had not said one word to her since the Palace. Dai had a feeling that Naraku had been watching, not that she was surprised.
The hanyou was snapped out of her musings by the sound of footsteps. Without a word, Dai rose to her feet and let her arms fall to her side. This was her test. The four souls depended on her to pass.
Everyone depended on her to pass.
Shippou wandered aimlessly into the forest. The adults had been much too busy to notice the kitsune leave the house. He made sure to stay within the wards of the Taijiya Territory but otherwise let his feet take him where they will.
His family was broken again.
The kitsune had lost his father to Naraku and his mother before even that. He could barely conjure up a memory of her face. Now he was separated from his adopted parents and his sister was gone. Shippou knew enough that he could accept that Dai's chances for survival were very slim. Even with the grown-up's new plan, he had little hope of Dai coming out alive. It wasn't that Shippou was pessimistic, he was just a realist. He had seen enough of the world to know when to predict it.
Still, it didn't mean he had to like it.
Shippou sighed and allowed himself to drop onto a fallen tree, his legs swaying slightly over the edge. The day was much colder without the sun. Thunder sounded in the distance, causing Shippou to jump. Perhaps it was time for him to return to the house.
He jumped to his feet and began to scamper back. He could see lightening now and it was coming in fast. The thunder was closer too . . . that wasn't natural.
"Oh, look Hiten," came the voice from above. "Another pelt for the oncoming winter."
Shippou froze at the sound of that voice. "Oh no, no, no," he chanted under this breath, slowly looking up to find the owner of the voice.
"Oh, kami, no." And his world went black.
Kirara was worried. So much in fact that she had decided to do something about it. Her mistress was too busy readying for the upcoming trip to spare enough time to figure out what Kirara was saying. Naturally she would try Kohaku or Taijiya next, but those two were just as distracted. It would be a waste of time to try the monk, he was worse off than her mistress.
That left three choices. The miko was smart, but the other two would be able to understand her. Kirara rose to her feet and scampered into the Inuhanyou's bedroom. He was sitting on the futon with his mate. They weren't talking and their suitcases lay opened by the door.
Inuyasha raised his head to the fire-cart youkai. "Uh? Kirara?"
Kirara growled low in the back of her throat, clear meaning to any youkai. Inuyasha shot to his feet and rushed to his suitcase.
Kagome sat up and watched as Inuyasha shifted through his belongings and drew out the Tetsusaiga. "Inuyasha? What's wrong?"
"It's Shippou. He's in trouble."
She didn't wait for further explanation, following Kirara and Inuyasha out of the room. "Miroku!"
Inuyasha didn't stop for Miroku and continued right out of the house, using his inhuman speed to find the fox kit.
Miroku stumbled out of his room and towards Kagome where she stood waiting in the hallway. The other household members, excluding Buyo, also appeared from their rooms and followed Miroku.
"What is it?" asked the monk, noting Kagome's worried expression.
"Shippou's in trouble."
"Where?" asked Taijiya.
Kouga didn't wait for an answer and swept past the humans. Taijiya shrugged and followed the wolf youkai out of the house. Sango disappeared into her room only to reappear with a giant boomerang. At Kagome and Miroku's curious faces she shrugged and followed the others out of the house.
"What are we waiting for?" asked Miroku as he grabbed Kagome's hand and pulled her out of the house, Kohaku close behind them.
Kagome jumped when she saw lightening strike the forest in front of her. "Miroku?" she inquired slowly as comprehension dawned.
"It's a youkai," stated Kohaku.
"Two of them," Miroku added distantly.
Lightening struck again, toppling the trees and shaking the earth. Inuyasha could smell Shippou's blood and that alone had sent his youkai blood boiling. Someone had hurt his pack brother. The Inuyoukai in Inuyasha was on fire, demanding death for such a slight against his pack. The Inuhanyou had no qualms giving into that particular demand of his blood. His human side wanted whoever would hurt Shippou dead too.
Inuyasha came upon a small, newly made clearly that had been scorched by the lightening. Two demons stood in the middle of it, Shippou at their feet. Inuyasha didn't hesitate.
Shippou could barely raise his head over the pounding in his ears. The lightening had struck him and though it was not a direct hit, it was enough to do serious damage to the young fox demon. They were standing over him now. Shippou remembered them from his father's death. Hiten and Manten; two names he would never forget. They were called the Thunder Brothers and together they were two of the most notorious of Naraku's henchmen.
The young kitsune could not tear his eyes away from them. Hiten's traditional samurai gear was as fierce as he remember it, his frightening appearance adorned with a trident held in his hands. Manten was obviously not the brains of the operation though that was no reason not to fear him. He was as cruel as Hiten. Manten adorned himself with the hides of his victims and when Shippou's eyes fell to the fox fur wrapped around Manten's torso, he recognized it for what, or who, it was.
"Father . . . "