Cry Wolf

An Inu-Yasha Fanfiction

By: Sanjuno Shori Niko

Rating: R

Warnings: YAOI AU

Pairings: Kouga/Inuyasha

Disclaimer: Inu-Yasha isn't mine. Really, I'm not lying to you. This fanfic belongs to me. This is also not a lie. If you ask me nicely, you may borrow the fic to post on your website, but only if you ask first. Plagiarism will make me very upset. This too is no lie. Your cooperation is expected.

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A/N:

Here we are minna-san. Sorry about taking so long, but I have trouble writing angst. As for this chapter, it's primarily Kouga angst. Bleh, I don't like it either, but for the sake of the plot Kouga has to get over Kagome, and he can't do that unless he mourns. Inuyasha's gonna' give me a bit more trouble, so having Kouga come to terms with the situation is priority for this chappy.

I know we'd all much rather have them both say hell with it and jump into the sack together, but that wouldn't be much of a story now would it? Besides, if I did it that way we wouldn't get to see Sessoumaru play matchmaker. Or see Kouga start courting Inuyasha. That being said, let's get on with the fic. Enjoy.

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Recap:

"I had thought you would take this better, seeing as you were so protective of him earlier. Holding him so tightly on the way here."

The inu-youkai listened to the ookami groan again with malicious glee.

"My younger brother is Inuyasha."

Kouga let his head slam into the table.

-

Cry Wolf

Chapter Two: Resigned Conflict

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Thud!

"This…"

Thud!

"… is…"

Thud!

"… not…"

Thud!

"… happening…"

Thud!

"… to…"

Thud!

"… me!"

Thud! Thud!

Sessoumaru watched Kouga for a few moments before deciding that the wolf was not likely to start slamming his head into the table again.

"Are you quite finished?"

"Err… yeah."

Kouga suppressed the desire to blush, realizing that his reaction had been rather… childish. Not exactly the sort of first impression you would want to give when in the presence of a taiyoukai. Sitting up straight for the first time since entering the room Kouga looked at the wall behind Sessoumaru's left shoulder before letting his gaze slide back to the other demon's face.

"So…"

Kouga cleared his throat then paused, a question surfacing in his mind.

"If Inuyasha is really a full demon then why does he turn human once a month like a regular hanyou?"

"Ah…"

Sessoumaru shot Kouga an appraising look before answering.

"That would be the result of the spell my father had put on Inuyasha as an infant. The spell made use of the illusionary and shape-shifting powers of Inuyasha's Kitsune blood to induce the change into a human form during the night of the new moon."

"Huh, it's a pretty decent spell. He even smells like a half-demon."

Sessoumaru smirked.

"Indeed, as I'm certain you already know, Kitsune are exceptionally skilled in trickery, and in laying false trials. As well, that spell is the reason Inuyasha has never overtly used his inherent Kitsune magics, because that portionof his power was already in use, tied up into the spell."

Kouga folded his arms and stared off into the distance, mulling over what he'd learned so far.

"I suppose that makes sense. Though I'd never have called him cunning, he is tricky in his own way… but he does have a good eye for battle, and he always manages to find a way to survive the fights he gets into…"

Sessoumaru smirked as Kouga's voice trailed off and the wolf stared thoughtfully at the tabletop.

"I take it you have no objections then?"

"Wha..?"

Kouga blinked as his train of thought was derailed by Sessoumaru's casual question. The ookami's face blanked as he recalled the reason for their conversation.

He was… betrothed to Inuyasha… hang on a moment.

"Err… isn't there usually a female involved in these sort of things? Last I knew both Inuyasha and I were male."

Sessoumaru snorted genteelly in amusement.

"Have you not heard a single thing I've said? Inuyasha is half kitsune, thanks to his mothers unique heritage."

Comprehension failed to dawn on Kouga's face. Sessoumaru sighed and folded his hands in his sleeves.

"You know that there are species of youkai who are able to procreate with their own gender? Take for example the Koorime and the Youko."

Kouga frowned.

"Wait, I thought they captured or kidnapped someone to use so they could get cubs."

"No, those are simply false rumours spread by humans and the races themselves to keep outsiders from getting any ideas. While the Koorime do occasionally use a male prisoner to bring in new blood, they do so only rarely. All pure blooded Koorime are female. Any male children born to a Koorime are thrown away. Which is a pity, from what I hear a 'Forbidden Child' of the Ice Maidens has incredible potential."

"As for the Youko, they are very… physical creatures, and there is some truth to the tales of them stealing women that catch their interest, but they only breed with them if they want too. In opposition to the Koorime, the Youko race is entirely male. This might cause a problem but according to the Foxes in my employ, their god Inari gave all members of the Youko race the ability to bear young. This ability can also be passed on to any offspring."

"Aren't Kitsune fox demons too?"

"While the Kitsune are also fox demons, they are an entirely different race than the Youko. The Kitsune can be male or female, though it is hard to tell the difference. They possess great physical beauty, though even for the males it is of an effeminate nature. Much like their Youko cousins, all Kitsune fox demons are capable of bearing young, and reportedly have an easier time of it. Apparently all Kitsune are very feminine by nature."

Kouga blinked, and tried to suppress the smirk that wanted to spread across his face.

"Now, I've already informed you of my brothers lineage. As you should know, the Kitsune as a race prefer to remain unnoticed when they can. Finding an unclaimed female with the raw power like my brother's mother is rare. Those from the lines of the fox women supposedly gain a combination of their parent's powers and abilities. This means that Inuyasha is fully capable of providing your union with children. Children that will be the greatest of your strengths combined, with few of your weaknesses. So you really have no grounds to refuse the contract on those terms."

For a moment it looked like Kouga was going to start shouting, then the wolf demon paused as he realized two things. First, he had promised Kagome that he'd take care of Inuyasha. The cryptic remarks she'd made before leaving suddenly made sense. Secondly, since it was Inuyasha who would have to carry the cubs, then Kouga was the one who got to top.

The ookami prince grinned as he imagined Inuyasha's reaction to what Sessoumaru had told him. Then he winced as his mind carried the speculation a bit further. Puppy-boy was going to throw a tantrum like you wouldn't believe.

"You do realize that Inuyasha's not going to agree to this."

Sessoumaru smirked.

"Oh, he will. After all, I'm the only one who knows how to remove the spell that's making him a hanyou, and I believe there's little chance of him denying our fathers order."

"Ah."

Kouga paused for a moment in consideration.

"You can tell him that then."

"Very well."

Sessoumaru rose from his seat and motioned for Kouga to do the same.

"I trust you have no objections to sharing a room with my brother? I believe it's best that you both come to terms with the situation as quickly as possible."

Kouga breathed deeply, feeling his tenuous hold on his temper weakening as the seconds passed, but agreed to the arrangement in any case.

According to the contract, his time was up. He could void the whole thing by naming someone else as the one he wanted as a mate, but only Kagome seemed worth turning down an alliance with the house of the Great Western Demons. His pack was shattered, scattered, reduced to a bare handful of lost wanderers thanks to Naraku's slaughter. His quest of revenge had taken up all his time, he had yet to begin locating and gathering the survivors. Becoming part of the Western house was really his best chance of bringing his ruined pack back together.

Sessoumaru led him back down the halls and left him at the door to Inuyasha's room to go speak with the healer. Kouga looked at the demon lord's retreating back for a long moment before he turned and eased open the door. He quietly entered, shutting the entrance softly behind him.

The wolf prince padded across the room and knelt next to the futon where Inuyasha lay. The smell of fresh linen and medicines very nearly covered the blood-scent completely. Kouga inhaled deeply, paying attention to anything that might indicate foul play, but nothing out of the ordinary reached his nose. The ookami leaned forward slightly to examine his sometimes ally, always rival.

The blood had been washed away, and the faint scent of soap lingered on the dog demons skin. Inuyasha's already fair complexion was even paler than usual, the lines of the stark white bandages around his chest nearly invisible against his flesh. The only things breaking the monochrome of the dogs slumbering form were the dark slashes of his eyebrows and lashes, and a faint flush on his face.

Kouga frowned and laid the back of one hand against Inuyasha's cheek. The skin was slightly too warm, Kouga cursed inwardly. Stupid mutt had a fever.

"Kouga?"

Blinking at the sound of his name Kouga noticed the small bundle of rust-gold fur curled up by Inuyasha's neck. Two gem-bright eyes looked at him worriedly as Shippo peeked at Kouga over his tail. The wolf prince softened further at the sight of the tiny kit that Kagome had taken in as her own.

"Hey cub, c'mere."

Shippo whined and slunk over to curl up in Kouga's lap. The ookami gently scratched the small fox behind the ears, realizing that the boy was probably half-sick with worry. It was the first time he had ever seen Shippo in fox-form, and Kouga continued to pet the cub as he sniffled.

Shippo twisted around and planted his front paws on Kouga's knee, peering up at the wolf prince.

"Is Inuyasha gonna be all right?"

Kouga sighed, rubbing the back of his neck as he looked at the inu's silent form.

"I sure he'll be fine… eventually. He'll have to get over the wounds, the poisoning, the blood loss, and his fever first."

"Fever!"

Shippo scrambled off Kouga's lap and pressed his nose against the side of Inuyasha's face.

"He's too warm… and he smells sick! Kouga, what do we do? Inuyasha's never gotten sick before!"

Shippo yelped as he was grabbed and lifted back into Kouga's lap.

"First off, stop yelling. He needs to rest and he can't do that if you wake him up."

Shippo cringed, ears lowered as he whined.

"Sorry."

"S'alright. We'll need to keep Inukuro from doing anything stupid while he's healing though. So try to keep him from running off to challenge any demons."

Shippo nodded.

"Okay!"

Kouga relaxed his hold and set the cub on the floor.

"Why don't you go find the healer? She should probably know about this."

Shippo whined, looking from the inuyoukai to the ookami and back again. Kouga sighed, and shooed the reluctant kit towards the door.

"Go on, I'll watch him for you."

Eventually the little kitsune nodded slowly, shifting back to the almost human form he usually favoured so he could open the door. Hearing the sound of the screen sliding shut and the quiet patter of small paws dashing away, Kouga released a heavy sigh. He laid a heavily clawed hand against the inuyoukai's flushed face now that he was in no danger of having to explain his actions to an overly concerned cub.

Inuyasha had only healed enough to be out of critical danger; apparently it was still necessary to watch him closely.

Rubbing his arm - there was a momentary flash of annoyance over the memory; Naraku had made a habit of always aiming for his arm first, as if to rub in that he had been so easily fooled the first time. It galled him to remember how simple it had been for Kagura to manipulate him. Kouga wondered why Kagome hadn't just healed Inuyasha the way she had him.

Then he remembered that other than the mangling his arm had taken, he hadn't really sustained any other serious injuries. Inuyasha had taken multiple hits, a tentacle through the stomach, repeated poisoning, and heavy blood loss. There had probably been a limit to how much damage Kagome could heal, especially considering that she had brought the monk and the demon slayer back to life.

It must have been all she could do to kill Naraku, and then resurrect the two humans and the demon cat as well as saving the human boy from Naraku's control, keeping Inuyasha from dieing immediately, and healing Kouga himself back the point where he could protect the others.

Now that he thought about it, Sango and Miroku were still badly injured from what Kouga remembered seeing.

As he looked down at the still half-breed, the room silent but for their breathing, Kouga felt his mind drift to the issue of the betrothal contract. Since leaving Sessoumaru's study he had attempted to avoid dwelling on it, shoving the issue into a far corner of his mind. Now, with nothing to distract him, Kouga knew that the whole thing was far too pressing to leave it until later to deal with it.

Inuyasha was not going to be happy, and despite Sessoumaru's casual assurances to the contrary, Kouga just couldn't see the proud, stubborn dog demon submitting to the situation… at least, not without one hell of a fight. As amusing as the thought of Inuyasha getting his ass kicked was, the thought of mating with an unwilling partner made the ookami's stomach heave.

The ookami as a race were very close to their mortal wolf cousins. The pack, the family, was always considered when making a decision. Would it help the pack, harm it, or have no effect? A wolf always thought of these things. And like the mortal wolves, the ookami mated for life, for strength, for love. They were only capable of taking another lover under certain conditions. One being that the wolf's previous mate had died, though it was rare for an ookami's whose partner had passed on to ever take another mate.

Ookami could only breed with their mates, would only breed with their mates. To do otherwise was an almost physical impossibility. The loyalty, trust, and love implied in the ookami mating-bond were irrevocable.

Which is why Kouga was now torn over the contract. His father, mindful of the ookami instinct that was prevalent in such matters had left him a few loopholes, but even those were strictly conditional. Aside from claiming another mate within the time it took Inuyasha to recover -which would be ridiculously difficult even if it didn't mean giving up on Kagome- he had very few options. Choosing the one you want to spend the rest of your centuries-long existence with is a delicate matter.

Kouga doubted he would find anyone who would benefit his pack as well as Inuyasha would, or that he would fall in love with anyone knowing that Kagome was waiting out there, even if he actively searched for the next five hundred years. For one thing, Sessoumaru was under the impression that Kouga had accepted the betrothal, and for another, he could hardly keep his word to Kagome if he ran off and left Inuyasha to go look for a lover.

The only other way left to get out of the situation was to declare Inuyasha completely incompatible. To say that Kouga was unable to bring himself to mate with the other demon, and it was tempting, but there was no way he could carry it off. It would be simple enough for Sessoumaru to have someone test the two's auras, and Kouga knew that only total apathy or true hate would keep him from being called on the lie.

The wolf prince didn't really hate Inuyasha, and the dog demon was far too able at stirring up Kouga's temper for the apathy excuse to work. No one would buy it. As far as Kouga could see, there was no way for him to break off the engagement. The only option left was if Inuyasha found a different mate before Sessoumaru decided on a date, or if Inuyasha felt true hate for Kouga, which the wolf doubted he did. Given the half-breed's prickly nature and apparent devotion to Kagome, there was little to no chance of another mate being found for Inuyasha before their time was up.

Growling softly under his breath, Kouga crossed his arms and glared at the oblivious demon. Why did it have to be Inuyasha anyway? It wasn't as if he even liked the mutt. He was loud, rude, and too damn stubborn for his own good.

At least he wasn't ugly. Now that he wasn't actively denying the thought, Kouga could see the strong resemblance between Sessoumaru and Inuyasha. The slender builds, the silver-white hair, even the strangely dark eyebrows and lashes; they were all the same. Idly, Kouga wondered if Inuyasha would look any different once the masking spell was removed.

The sound of feet broke Kouga away from his wandering thoughts. Standing the alpha wolf slid the door open, recognizing the patter of Shippo's paws. The healer swept by without a word, heading straight for the ill inuyoukai. A large hanyou followed her in, carrying a sack larger than Kouga, apparently stuffed full of herbs and medicines.

Imperiously the healer began issuing orders, sending several of Sessoumaru's servants scurrying for water and fresh bandages before jabbing a twig thin finger at Kouga.

"You help. Hold."

Blinking, Kouga caught the pack she thrust at him.

The next few hours were filled with the healer's reedy voice issuing orders and the aggressive smell of medicines. Kouga kept a wary eye on the huge hanyou the healer called Jinenji, obviously her apprentice. Eventually the ookami relaxed slightly as it became apparent that the half-demon wasn't a threat, but he had long ago learned that first appearances could be deceiving. If the situation had been anything other than what it was Kouga would have laughed at the scene of the tiny bird-woman ordering the huge bestial man around.

Inuyasha's wounds had become infected, which was the reason for his fever. There was still a great deal of Naraku's poison in his body, so the first thing the healer did was to clean the wounds with an astringent made of a boiled mix of herbs. Then an ointment was layered on thickly before new bandages were applied. Kouga propped Inuyasha up as the healer carefully poured a sharp smelling tea down the silver haired demons throat.

Sitting back once the cup was emptied the healer nodded in satisfaction. Her apprentice gathered together the supplies and left the room. Standing she grabbed her own pack as Kouga gently placed Inuyasha back down and covered him with a blanket.

"Is better. Make rest. Give tea, change bandages, clean wounds, everyday."

Shoving a pack of medicines into Kouga's hands she told him which was which, how to prepare them, and then left without any further words.

Standing shocked at her brusque manner, Kouga eventually shrugged and put the pack down in a corner where there was little chance of tripping over it. Shippo had returned to his previous place, curling up in fox form next to Inuyasha's shoulder. The kit was exhausted, and was sleeping soundly by the time Kouga had closed the door behind the bird-woman.

Kouga sat down again and leaned his chin in his hands, brooding as he stared at Inuyasha, still trying to get his mind around the whole situation.

Could he really handle having Inuyasha as his mate?

Disturbed by that thought, Kouga looked at the sleeping dog demon and decided, against his better judgement, to try something. What if he pretended that Inuyasha was already his mate, and that he... cared for him...

Cocking his head to one side Kouga tried to convince himself that he was attracted to Inuyasha, feeling very silly as he did so.

Deciding to start with the top, Kouga looked at Inuyasha's hair, gleaming pale silver in the lamplight. Reaching out, he picked up a lock, feeling the cool strands run through his fingers like water. The silky stuff was incredibly soft, catching the light in metallic glitters as he ran his fingers through it. A few minutes passed before Kouga was able to tear himself away from his contemplation of the inuyoukai's hair, jerking his hand back as if burned when he realized what he'd been doing.

Shaking his head Kouga looked at the sleeping demon suspiciously, feeling his hand itching to plunge back in to the thick silver mass.

Apprehensive, but too stubborn to give up on his idea just yet, Kouga moved his attention to Inuyasha's face. For a few minutes he just stared blankly, mind refusing to go beyond acknowledging that it was Inuyasha's face. As his bored mind drifted Kouga realized that this was the first time he had ever really seen Inuyasha asleep.

Black lashes were stark as ink on parchment against the pale skin. Pink lips fell slightly open to reveal the barest hint of fang. The stubborn jaw wasn't so stubborn in slumber; the almost femininely pointed chin giving the inuyoukai's features a nearly delicate appearance. The slender neck led to smooth, strong shoulders, which then drew his eyes down to well-muscled arms.

Kouga picked up the hand closest to him and compared it to his own. Inuyasha's hands were smaller, the fingers and wrist thinner. His own skin was dark where the inuyoukai's was pale, the wolf's claws thicker and heavier.

With the inu lying still and quiet, devoid of his loose fire-rat armour, the ookami realized in faint surprise that the other demon was smaller than him. Kouga's shoulders were broader, his musculature more bulky. It was strange; he had always thought that Inuyasha was the same size as him. At least that was the impression the other had given; now it was obvious just how much of that had been from the pale demon's bluster and baggy clothes.

Lazily Kouga's eyes drifted back up to the top of Inuyasha's head as he indulged in an urge that would have gotten him, if not killed, then severely maimed, if the inu had been awake.

The velvet puppy ears were soft against his fingers. The skin was thin and the white fur fine as spider silk against his palm. Kouga grinned as he imagined Inuyasha's reaction to having his ears scratched.

His hand drifted down to touch Inuyasha's face for the third time that evening, calloused fingertips pressing gently against the soft, pale skin. Kouga's thumb swept over the curve of the half-breed's cheekbone before brushing across his lips.

Everything about the other demon was so strangely soft, the rounded face and tender flesh wakening strange feelings in the alpha wolf's gut. Yet the young demon lord was a warrior as well, stubborn, confident, skilled...

With Inuyasha, he would always be challenged. Instead of a kind, gentle, and above all submissive woman that had always been featured in his plans for the future, he would have a passionate, prideful fighter who never went down without a struggle. The reality of the situation was the complete opposite of every expectation he'd ever made for his future.

Still moving carefully, as if in a dream, Kouga placed Inuyasha's hand back down on the covers. Pulling in a shaky breath, Kouga shook his head. All right, so Inuyasha was a pretty bastard. He was still rude, loud, arrogant, and far more annoying than any person had the right to be. Sure the dog was easy on the eyes, but that didn't mean he liked him or anything.

Even if that idiot Inukuro had saved his life once or twice.

Drawing his knees up to his chest Kouga buried his face in his arms as he felt his dreams shatter. Kagome was gone, he was betrothed to Inuyasha of all people, and there was nothing he could do about it. No enemy to fight, no pretty human girl to sweep away. His rival was now under his protection; his pack was broken, scattered across the land. Instead of finding his real mate, the one who completed him and made him happy, he was practically forced to accept the stupid mutt.

If things had been different, Kouga would have said to hell with it and left Sessoumaru and Inuyasha to play whatever games they wanted with some other poor sucker.

But he had his pack to consider, andthey wouldn't be able to survive without help.

It stung his pride to admit it, but because of Naraku's slaughter, the wolf demon clan was in shambles. Many had lost mates, and it would be decades before any of the surviving wolves could even begin to consider taking another mate. That's not counting the ones who already had, or were going to, just give up and follow their mate in death. Others would never heal from the emotional wounds, the spiritual scars sometimes running so deep that the wolf in question would have to be put down.

The alpha bit his lip, shaking his head, trying to dislodge the despairing thoughts, but they continued to weigh heavy on his mind.

There would be few cubs born in the next couple years, even if all the mated pairs still intact produced a pup. So having their alpha mated would raise moral, and if his mate had a child on the way it would do even better. It didn't matter how he really felt about the whole thing, just how his tribe would see it.

What was there left for him? His woman was gone, far beyond his reach. His rival in love and so many other things was his best chance of saving his people. He was just going to have to make the best of it. Maybe fate would be kind, and in a few hundred years, he and Inuyasha may even be able to tolerate each other for a few minutes without leaping for the others throat.

Wearily Kouga looked over his arms at Inuyasha. The idiot didn't even have the decency to be awake so Kouga could have someone to argue with. Unappreciative moron.

Snorting in amusement over the juvenile turn of his thoughts, Kouga stretched and froze when a rough mutter sounded in the darkness.

"... wolf...?"

"Oi, keep it down puppy-boy, or you'll wake up the kid."

Fever-bright gold eyes turned to Kouga after landing on Shippo.

"... wha...?"

Inuyasha broke into harsh coughs.

"Hey, easy. Here, drink this first."

Kouga poured a cup of water from a jug by the bed, and then helped Inuyasha drink. A weak grip on his wrist kept him from pulling away completely when the dog finished, and Kouga's earlier experiment came back to haunt him as he stared at the pale, elegant fingers wrapped loosely around his hand.

"What... happened?"

"I suppose you want the whole story, huh?"

Kouga grinned crookedly at the silver haired demon asInuyasha's expression grew more impatient by the second.

"Don't look at me like that, Inukuro, your pretty face might get wrinkled."

Shock at the new insult - was it an insult? - blanked Inuyasha's face as Kouga snickered.

"Relax, little doggy, we're fine. Naraku's dead. Kagome killed him for certain this time. The monk and the demon hunter are in rooms further down the hall. The fox is sleeping next to you. My boys and the demon hunter's brother are...somewhere. Playing, I think, I forgot to ask where."

"Sango and Miroku... are alive?"

"Yep, and so's that cat thing that the hunter rides around on. You've all had your wounds checked out by a healer already so don't get cranky. I've got enough to deal with."

"Where... are we...?"

"Your brother's place. Hey! Stop that!"

Alarmed, Kouga pushed Inuyasha back and held him down. The younger demon froze and paled further in pain as his wounds pulled with his abrupt attempt to getup. Unable to stop the small whimper that escaped from tightly clenched teeth, Inuyasha didn't resist as Kouga pulled back the sheets to check his injuries.

"I swear your dead meat if you opened those wounds again, puppy-dog. If you make me put up with that annoying old hag again..."

The grumbling wore down when Kouga was unable to detect any fresh bleeding.

"Well it doesn't look like you hurt yourself any worse with that stunt, lucky for you. Wanna' tell me why you freaked out like that?"

"Sessoumaru... hates humans and... hanyou. We're all... in danger."

Kouga shook his head.

"I don't think so. From what I can see he must have changed his mind or something, because he's the one who got you all a healer."

Confused, Inuyasha lay back instead of trying to rise, keeping his eyes on Kouga as he fought the urge to sleep. Then his gold eyes grew sad and he gripped Kouga's wrist harder, claws denting the skin as he asked a question with resignation on his face.

"Kagome?"

"... She's gone back to wherever she came from. Took her little brother with her and got rid of that un-dead miko while she was at it."

Kouga saw his own pain mirrored on the other demons face, and he felt an unexpected surge of empathy.

"The village was trashed, but that old woman survived. She had the survivors under control."

Relief slightly replaced the haunted look on Inuyasha's pale features. The dog's grip on Kouga's hand loosened as the need for rest began to overcome the silver haired demon's stubborn desire to stay awake.

"Why're... you here?"

Kouga was silent as he thought about how to answer. He really didn't want to be the one to tell Inuyasha about the betrothal contract, and he didn't think the dog demon was in any shape to hear it. When he did answer his voice was pitched in a low, rumbling tone that soothed Inuyasha against all reason.

"I made a promise, and I intend to keep it. Besides, Sessoumaru-sama's help would make it easier to bring my pack back together."

"... oh..."

Heavy lids were closing, though Inuyasha was obviously fighting his body's exhaustion. Kouga chuckled, catching Inuyasha's hand as it fell from his wrist.

"Get some sleep, dog-breath. You're still pretty bad off, and you need to take it easy. I won't let anything happen to you."

Any attempt Inuyasha may have made at a response was lost in a yawn. The younger demon's muscles growing lax, eyes still stubbornly open in thin slits of gold. Kouga brushed his palm over Inuyasha's eyes, ignoring the muttered complaint, feeling the dog's breathing hitch before evening out as sleep took hold. Kouga repeated his command softly, pushing the over-long bangs away from Inuyasha's face.

"Sleep. It's all right."

A tiny whimper was the only reply, sleep fogged and fever warped.

"... cold..."

Frowning as he realized that Inuyasha was shivering, Kouga hunted around the room for more blankets. Finding only one, the ookami prince also discovered that there was a single futon in the room, and Inuyasha was on it.

Halting beside the bed, Kouga spread the blanket out over the dog's body, about to tuck it in when a yawn cracked his jaw. Rubbing his eyes as he was finally forced to acknowledge his own tiredness, Kouga levelled a resentful look at the occupants of the only futon.

A very large futon.

Wavering Kouga looked at the empty space left in the bed. Then he looked at the floor. The cold, hard, lonely, and above all unappealing floor.

True, he was used to sleeping on the ground, in caves and the like favoured by the ookami, but he usually had company. The pack, even hunting parties, would sleep curled up together for warmth and comfort. Kouga wasn't used to sleeping alone. Anyway, wasn't he technically supposed to be getting used to Inuyasha?

"Hell with it."

Kouga crawled in next to Inuyasha after doffing his armour. If the dog threw a fit, he'd just tell him that the mutt's shivering was keeping him awake. Besides, this way he could get some sleep and keep an eye on the sick puppy at the same time.

Arranging himself more comfortably, Kouga stared up at the darkness of the ceiling, slowly warming up under the cover of the blankets. He hadn't realized how cold he was while sitting on the floor, but now that he was in the bed, the change in temperature was pronounced.

His slowing thoughts circled back to the issue he knew was going to haunt him until it was settled one way or another. He'd disliked Inuyasha from the first time he saw him. Of course, they had been opponents at the time. Then he had known that his greatest obstacle to winning Kagome had been the silver haired hanyou.

Kouga had focused on the things that would prove the he was a better choice than Inuyasha. The half-breed was stubborn, rude, insensitive, and selfish. He set out to show that he was better than the dog demon. But Kagome had kept insisting that Inuyasha had his good points, Kouga just didn't know the puppy boy well enough to see them.

Maybe he should take Kagome's advice, and look for things to like about Inuyasha instead of the things to hate. It was a decent enough plan, and it wasn't like he had many other options about what to do with his betrothed. Hells, it was worth a shot.

With a sleepy sense of vindication, Kouga dropped into silver dreams.

Tsuzuku...

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A/N:

Well, there we go. Kouga's sense of family duty and loyalty to his surviving pack members, along with his promise to Kagome, has backed him into a corner. He can either keep hating Inuyasha, or learn to get along with him. Seeing as Kouga's smart enough not to want to commit himself to a life of pure hell, he's decided to try and find out if there's anything about Inuyasha that appeals to him.

Aside from his looks that is.

Poor Inuyasha, he's going to be so confused when Kouga exchanges taunts for playful teasing. The idea that people may actually want to be nice to him is foreign. Poor Kouga's going to need to overcome Inuyasha's suspicion of kindness. Out boys aren't out of the woods yet.

Please review, I'd like to know what you all think of this chapter. Did I rush Kouga's acceptance of the whole thing, or was it okay? I'd really appreciate you opinions on the matter.

Matta ne!

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Finished: 2005-01-14

Revised: 2006-03-01

Betaed: 2005-10-01