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Inuyasha growled from the wall where he was helplessly chained. "If you so much as touch a hair on Kagome's head or cause one tear to fall I swear I'll --"

"Shut up, for once?" the author rolled her eyes at the enraged half-demon. "Just say the damn line and I'll give you some extra ramen at feeding time."

He cursed but complied, grounding out the line in annoyance, "the world of Inuyasha and it's characters belong to Rumiko Takahashi. This sadistic wench is only temporarily kidnapping us. Now will you let me go?"

"No."

* * * * *

Prologue

"More ramen, Inuyasha?" Kagome held out a steaming Styrofoam cup of the noodles her hanyou friend adored. He grabbed them eagerly, spilling some of the boiling liquid onto the young miko's hand.

"Ouch! Inuyasha, you could try a little thing called 'patience,' you know."

He mumbled what the group could only guess was an apology and continued sucking back his dinner at great speed. Kagome shook her head in defeat and went back to her own dinner. "How much further is Kaede's village from here?"

"A half day, perhaps a little longer," answered Miroku as he stared at the round curve of Sango's rather tempting ass. "In a hurry?"

Kagome nodded, "yes, Valentine's Day is the day after tomorrow and I'd like to go home for the class party."

"A party? What is Valentine's Day?" Sango looked up from Hiraikotsu at the mention of celebration just in time to catch Miroku's hand snaking its way toward her backside. She promptly smacked him away before turning her attention back to the fifteen-year-old beside her.

"It's a western holiday about love, celebrating the Christian saint Valentine."

Miroku raised an eyebrow. "Your people celebrate the Christian saints and prophets, Kagome? What of the Buddhists and followers of Shinto?"

"It's not really that religious," Kagome explained. "Mostly people use it as an excuse to buy gifts for loved ones and celebrate having those special people in their lives."

Sango sighed softly. "That sounds like a nice holiday."

"It's nicer when you have someone to share it with. If you're single then it can be a little depressing. My friends usually start complaining about it a week beforehand but I always like to see so many happy people that it doesn't bother me. Besides, I've been receiving secret valentines since I was ten, so I guess I have no room to complain." She blushed at the admission, hoping she didn't sound too pretentious.

"So you need to return for this celebration the morning after next?" Miroku asked her.

"Yes, though I'd like to get back sooner so I can buy some cards and candies for my friends."

"Keh! You act as though I'll let you leave." Inuyasha dumped his empty ramen container and folded his arms into his haori.

"And you act as though you have any say in the matter," Kagome shot back. "LET me leave. Ha!"

Inuyasha jumped up from his position on the ground and towered over her. "Yes, LET you leave. Fact is, I'm not planning on sticking around that shitty village for long. We're going back to get some supplies and then we're heading north. Sorry little girl, but no time for 'parties'".

Kagome drew herself up as tall as she could and glared back at him. "That's fine. You go north. I'm going home."

"No, you're not."

"Yes, I am."

"NO.."

"YES."

"GRR!"

Kagome took a step back in shock when the hanyou's eyes narrowed dangerously. He leapt forward in response, grabbing her shoulders roughly. His claws pierced the skin and drew out small amounts of blood. Kagome winced at the prickling pain but stood otherwise still, awaiting his further ire. In the back of her mind she knew she was forgetting something --

"Fine, wench, go HOME. I want you out of my sight." He released her left shoulder and used the index finger of his free claw to draw a small but deep cut into her upper arm. Kagome's eyes filled with tears at the abuse. Inuyasha didn't notice the pain, instead pushing her back and bounding off into the forest at top speed.

Miroku caught Kagome before she fell into a ant hill behind her. He and the others stared after the half-demon in utter shock.

"What's gotten into him?" Shippou voiced their thoughts aloud. "He's never actually hurt her over going home before."

Miroku shook his head in confusion. "I have no idea."

But Sango knew, and she continued to watch the dark forest beyond in consternation.