Picture me

By Midoriko-sama

Started: November 2003, Finished 09th April
2004

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He gave a strangled yell, stepped back and whipped his head back. He threw his head from one side to another in pain and then brought a hand up to his eyes.

"Inuyasha!" yelled Kagome, turning to him from protecting Shippo; to look at him. The dragon like demon they were up against was rearing back as Inuyasha began flailing his sword at it in a reckless fashion. Just beyond him, Sango and Miroku had managed to bring the other huge lizard down with their combined effort, Sango keeping its head down with her boomerang while Miroku blocked its movements with one of his wards.

The lizard roared, extending its almost transparent, parchment coloured head membranes, and let out another cloud of the greyish liquid that both the youkai had been throwing at them. Inuyasha let out another howl and brought his high sleeve up as a shield to his face, stepping further back. Seeing this, the youkai roared again and bore down on him

"No!" screamed the girl, pivoting and letting go of the arrow she hadn't even realised she had strung. The bow string twanged sharply and then whipped her finger, drawing blood, but she didn't care- her breath stopped as her mind followed the arrow. It passed through the scene, nearly silently, but she heard it distinctly cutting through the air. Or else the noise was the head of the damned monster coming down on him.

It hit it in the eye, right on spot, glowing. The long neck curled back and it screamed piercingly- Shippo next to her covered his ears, and they were far away. She looked on in fear bordering on panic as Inuyasha didn't even try to cover the ears on his head. He kept clutching his face and gasping, swearing.

The other lizard, hearing its partner's call, broke free of its bonds, throwing Sango and Miroku away like dolls. Shippo gave a little shriek as the ground shook under its feet and it made towards them.

Kagome screamed in terror. It was huge, enormous, hideous. The jaw full of teeth was as long as she was tall.

The light in its eyes went out, dull and flat. Even thought the villagers had asked them to keep those two youkai alive if possible, it hadn't been possible, she realised. Not possible at all, no, never, as she looked at the beast's head slither off its neck and fall with a thunk to the soily ground.

Inuyasha was standing on its back, but slipped when the body sagged, landing in a heap and rolling over without his usual balance.

"Inuyasha!"

Never mind the blood, never mind the poisonous spikes lying dangerously exposed on the ground. She ran up to him like she always did and tried to pry the claws from his face. His hand around his sword hilt was going to crack it, and he kept growling and shifting savagely away from her hands as he clawed at his own face.

"Inuyasha! It's me, it's Kagome! Can't you hear me?"

"I can! I can!" he gasped, although he still escaped her hands frantically. He seemed to be panicking.

"Please Inuyasha, calm down. Won't you let me see? Please let me see what's wrong."

Even under her soothing words and calming touch, it was a long time before he did let her pull his hands away from his face.

The claw marks he had left behind had been but the minor damage. Kagome had held her breath, and was glad to have done so as it prevented her from gasping. She had seen many injuries on him on various parts of his anatomy; gashed arms, impaled chest you could see through, broken limbs and ribs. But she had never seen damage done to his face, save the time when his eye had been gauged out. Even then, his regenerative nature hadn't given her the sight for long.

Now was different. All his skin was dry, parched, scorched, peeled off at the edges. It was red, and in patches on his cheeks brown and black. Where it wasn't parched dry blood was seeping from the still living skin underneath. More than gasp, she wanted to scream, clench her eyes and cry, hoping to open her eyes and see him scowling at her for waking them all up with her stupid nightmare. She kept her composure by a hair, and with trembling hands pulled dishrevelled hair away from his skin- was that skin at all?- before it stuck to the blood, dried and caused him any more pain. All the pain that had to be driving him to grate his throat, bar his fangs and squeeze his eyes shut

"Kagome" he hissed through his teeth, trying to catch her hand blindly. She gently took his hand in one of hers and then guided it to the other that was tending his face as well as she could on the spot

"Its ok, we'll-"

That's when he collapsed right on top of her.

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The crackle of a fire. And some murmuring. His body was numb, so he didn't know if he was standing on the ground or in a tree. Where the fuck was he?

He tried to sniff as a first reflex, but nothing came to his nose. What the . . .? he tried again and still he got none of the usual signals.

What was happening? Where was he? How had he gotten here? What was going on? Who were the people murmuring? Why couldn't he smell!

He tried to keep his breathing even as panic started rising in his gut, and made what he possibly could to avoid attracting his captor's attention.

It must have been the village- they told us to keep the dragons alive because they had wanted to sell them, not use them as beasts of burden! They have to be slave traders. Kagome!

He knew his breathing had shallowed considerably, but he couldn't help it. He had seen women as slaves, he had been once captured himself, if only it had lasted a week; after which he had freed the other slaves indirectly by going into a killing spree. He didn't want to see Kagome in manacles and chains, being whipped-

Damn it all he cursed mentally, throwing caution to the wind. He cracked his eye open in the direction of the fire's noises.

Nothing.

I'm an idiot, I don't even know how to open my eyes anymore he berated himself. He opened his eye a little but farther, but still couldn't see anything. Was the fire in another room? The noise of it was rather close, but an empty place could echo and misguide. If only his nose hadn't suddenly gone to the hells . . .

He froze when he realised that whatever chattering there had been in the room with him had ceased completely. Damnit- he hoped he wasn't near any guards. But no, if the room was in some unlighted cell he was probably in a prison dungeon or a shuttered chamber, with other slaves.

A hand suddenly touched his face, although the touch of it was strange, scaly. He jerked away, using his hearing to skirt around the person by moving away from his heart beat.

"Inuyasha?"

It was Kagome. He nearly fainted in relief. His eyes were wide open now, he felt it, but he still couldn't see anything. Even the best eyes needed a sliver of light. Why had her hands been gravely?

"Kagome, are you alright?" he raised a tentative hand, hoping not to hit her and cut her with his claws. If he couldn't see, she could see even less. If there was anything less than pitch black

"I'm here Inuyasha," she said, and her hand took his. It was soft now; had he imagined the roughness before, or had that touch not been hers? Damnit, if only he could see something, if only he could smell . . .

Her hand ran up to his wrist, and her other hand took his elbow firmly

"Calm down, please, we're safe. We're at Kaede's, and we're all here. Please, think of getting better"

"I don't feel wounded" he said gruffly. So they had made it back. All the panic he had felt started to melt slowly. But a little itch nagged at him. He didn't feel wounded, what was she fucking about?

"But you are" she said in irritation. He could almost smell her, almost, going annoyed from calm and calming

"Whatever, tell the old witch to light a fire here too. I can't see a fucking thing in here"

His statement was met with silence and a sudden stiffening of Kagome's hands on his arm. He clearly heard her heart start to beat as if she were afraid. But was she afraid, or perhaps angry? Or maybe she may have liked the idea that he wanted to see her? He usually noticed that when he said stuff like that it got to her in a nice manner.

OF course, his fucking nose had something wrong, and in the dark room . . .

"Inuyasha, there is a fire in the room. Right here next to me. There's enough light for me to see by . . . ." for even me to see by.

"What do you mean bitch, I can't see a thing . . ." he trailed off as he realised what he had just said. He couldn't see, and he couldn't smell. The dragon's poison . . .

"The milk didn't work" said Kagome in a trembling voice. Milk . . . his mother had once used milk to wash his eyes with when he had been playing with a snake. He had seen blearedly for a while, but it had all gone back to normal after a few days. But his nose had worked. And he had never seen nothing . . .

"Kagome, what the fuck is going on?"

"We got you here immediately, I swear, and we made it here really quickly, and we treated you immediately, it's true, I promise you, oh I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry!"

She was sobbing away, and the only thing that told him so was her shaking hand on his elbow and her voice. He couldn't even smell her tears, even though he usually hated it.

She was saying she was sorry. What had happened, what was really happening....

"Kagome . . . . is there something on my eyes?" he asked quietly

"Iie Inuyasha" she said in a very, very low voice. He tried to swallow

"And . . . . are my eyes open Kagome?" he asked her again, feeling her hand tighten on his elbow nearly painfully

"Hai" her voiced was as hushed as before. Now it trembled too.

He was blind. The dragon's poison had wounded him, had blinded him. And had also . . .

"My nose Kagome, is there something on my nose, anything at all, or in it, a rag maybe, anything?" he asked in agitation. He couldn't lose his scent, he was nothing without his scent. He was nothing without his sight, but perhaps that would heal. His nose was much more sensitive

"Iie" Inuyasha, said a new voice, very low but still very shrill. Shippo. He was there, in the room, and now that he strained his ears, he could hear the rapid tapping heart beat of the little squirt above Kagome's suppressed sobs. He wasn't close by.

There was a rustling, and he instinctively turned his head towards it

"Ah Inuyasha, you're awake, how are . ." the old woman trailed off, and he couldn't know why she had. Would it always be like this now?

"Kagome?" she asked. Ah, she had seen Kagome crying, and had realised what was happening "The milk . . . didn't go well?". Inuyasha suddenly felt a weight on his lap and he stiffened, then he concentrated on the heart beat- it was Shippo. The little cub was burrowing into his kimono, and wetting it. Was he crying?

"Twerp, what are you doing?" he asked as gruffly as he could, and that being a great deal due to the thickness of his voice.

"It's my fault, I should have helped you! Gomen, gomen" he wailed

"What are you bowling about? I'm not dead am I?" he growled. I might as well be, he thought. He couldn't see, he couldn't smell, he couldn't see, he couldn't smell, he couldn't see, he couldn't smell . . . .

"I think you should rest yourself a bit more Inuyasha" said Kaede, "I'll make a paste of herbs for your eyes and-"

"My nose, my nose is more important" he growled

"Nothing is more important than anything else, we'll heal everything, I promise you" said Kagome firmly beside him, and the hand on his elbow moved up his arm to his shoulder. He could feel every inch of its voyage along his bare arm- did he have chest injuries too? Was he bandaged? Now that he thought of it, his chest skin did feel bound.

He could imagine the hand, feel it soft and warm where it rested on his shoulder. Had she often done this when she medicated him? Why hadn't he noticed before? He wanted to see her hand, he wanted to see her face, and smell her, he needed to smell her, it was his balm, he couldn't live without it, he couldn't, he couldn't . . .

"Whatever old crone, just get that stuff ready soon, you know how my body is. I might not need it tomorrow, I'll heal by then"

I have to heal, I have to heal. I just have to

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"How long has it been now?" . . .

"Almost a week Sango-chan, and he isn't any better" . . .

"Calm down child, you'll . . . he will . . ."

"Aya, you'll see . . . ete Kagome-sama, we'll surely . . . a way . ."

He turned the other way on the straw bed and tried to ignore them. A week. Six suns. And he hadn't seen any of them rising or falling. He hadn't smelt any of the dawns. He hadn't seen her for a week. He hadn't smelt her for a week.

He could hear them talking even though they were way outside the hut. Some other louder noises took some of their words away from him, but he could still hear them.

But he wanted to smell her, and see her, and touch her while seeing her face go red, with embarrassment or anger at his touch, it didn't matter which. He wanted to be sat because he had told her she stank. Anything. Even just seeing a patch of her skin for a few seconds, even smelling her for one instant- just one was enough for his racing heart. Just one instant, just one touch of her scent, just one touch, just one . . .

The twerp had taken to sleep next to him, eat next to him, do everything beside this stupid straw bed the others had forbidden him to move from. There even were wards around him. The little kit's heart beat rose for a second and then went back to its steady hum. It steadied his own too.

He strained his ears in a despairing attempt. He finally found her heart beat, quickening and lessoning as she talked or cried. He turned on his other side and sighed, letting himself sleep.

"Kagome-sama! Look out behind you!! Look out!"

"Iya!!"

"Hiriakotsu!"

"Kya! The arrow hit!"

"Well done! Where's the shard Kagome-chan! The shard!"

"The left wing, the left- Kya!!"

"KAZAANA!!! Sango-san! Kagome-sama!! Are you alright!"

It was torture. It was pure and sheer torture not to be able to be out there, but be able to hear it all. The demon's roars, the yells, the cries of pain, her cries of fear.

They were on the outskirts of the village, but he could still hear them. A month. A month on the straw mat, a month being taken out by the fucking monk when he needed the bushes, being washed by her, if only his chest and his legs. He couldn't know if her heart quickened in disgust or anything else. His nose told him nothing. His eyes were silent.

He felt like a prisoner. They didn't let him leave the hut on his own, they didn't let him do anything on his own. The sits were thirty upon thirty times worst- he never saw where he was falling, he never knew how far the ground was, even if he had felt it under his feet.

And she didn't do it much either. What was worst, the fear of not seeing or her pity? No, her pity, many times more searing. He wasn't a man anymore to her- he never had been, he was a hanyou, a demon, a dog to sit. But now he was a blind dog, a useless dog to kick and leave behind tied to a corner instead of a wooden pole, by wards instead of rope.

A dog. A blind dog. His brother would kill him definitely now, he was an ever greater disgrace to the blood. And maybe it should be that way. The blood. The blood should have healed him by now, it should have, but it hadn't. Maybe the blood was a disgrace.

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"I'm sorry Kagome-chan, I was not able to save you from that" said Sango worriedly as they made their way back to the hut. Sango was still pressing a clean rag to her gashed arm. The claws on that youkai bird's legs had hurt terribly, but the injury wasn't in any way threatening.

"Don't speak about it when we get near the hut" she warned. She had seen Inuyasha deteriorating a little every day, as though he was dying while still alive. She knew what was happening to him had to be the worst thing in his life. He had always hated his human nights- and not because he became human. Had humanity let him retain his senses or even his strength he wouldn't have hated it. He hated feeling helpless- and now, he was just that.

"Do you think . . . do you think it would be better for Inuyasha if we let him walk around on his own, and leave the hut and . . ." she trailed off. She knew what their answers would be, she had uttered the same words herself sometimes in the past month.

"But he would be in danger . . ."

"He might be attacked . . ."

"He might be lost . . ."

"He'll feel-"

"What will he feel? That we pity him? I think he might feel that right now you know?" she said quietly, but with force enough for them to know that she had snapped at them. They fell silent and she continued "He won't be like this much longer, I'm sure, but until then we'll have to let him do things his way again."

"Iie Kagome-sama, you're not thinking" said Miroku "If not for his safety, for his footing- someone must be with him at all times"

"I will be of course, and he will grumble about it . . . I hope he will grumble about it" she said. He had been so silent, drawn, sullen . . . "But he'll be out of the hut, he'll be freer, he'll be able to hear the birds and smell the-". She stopped herself. He couldn't smell either.

That had to be the most grievous for him, she knew that.

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"Kagome?"

"Yes?"

It was the third time they were out near the Goshinboku, and the first time they were out on their own. Sango and Miroku had abstained from going with them this time. Shippo was with them too, but he was asleep on Inuyasha's lap. Since the accident, the kit hadn't left the Hanyou's side for an instant.

"You should go back" he said quietly. She could feel her smile fall. Even though she knew he couldn't see it, she still felt she had to smile at him as much as possible. Yet now she let her features sag. She had wished many a time for him to grow less loud and rash, but she had never wanted her wish to be granted in this manner. Every time he spoke, always in that quiet voice now, it left her mouth bitter.

"Why should I?" she asked just as quietly. His ears were facing her completely, although the left one was tilted slightly towards Shippo.

"You're not safe here. I can't do anything for you if we're-"

"Oh nonsense" she said with another smile on her face. She moved closer to him so that maybe he would somehow feel the expression on her features. She didn't know why she had such an insane notion, but it made her feel better.

He heard her shift closer, and the little kitsune squirmed comfortably on his lap. Her heart beat quickened by a nearly imperceptible notch, which nonetheless he detected. He could hear every little quiver of her being, taste her changing moods, and sense her features shift on her face from the memories he had of them. He knew that now she was miffed at him, but that she was probably blushing because she had moved closer to him. He wanted to see that blush, and pick on her about it. He wanted to see her cheek, if only just her cheek.

"Then leave" he said harshly. Why did her heart pick up? He didn't want her heart to pick up rate- he knew why it had, and he didn't want it to.

"Na- nani?". Yes, she was hurt

"I said Leave" he said again, but as quietly as he always did. It hurt his own ears when he talked too laud, and it lost him tiny precious auditory details that he lived on. "Go, take the twerp with you, and leave me here"

"Why do you want me to go?" she asked quietly. Something brushed against his shoulder lightly and rested there like a feather. A warm feather. He could feel her heat seeping into his side. He drew her in his mind, and he saw her head bowed, her hands clenched, her eyes sad.

"I don't want you to leave. I want you to leave me here" he said. He wanted to smell her one last time. One last time.

"Why?" she asked just as softly. She didn't move, but the warmth at his shoulder lifted, leaving the space suddenly painfully cold.

"I'm no use to the pack anymore" he said. He lifted his head to the sun. He could feel it warm too, like her, on his face, and the breeze taunted him, reminding him he couldn't smell it, like he couldn't smell her.

"Inuyasha"

"It's the way of my people, the weak and the impaired are left behind."

"It's not the way of my people" she said hotly. He felt her face change, and the picture in his mind now looked angrily at him, that little frown that made the thin line on her forehead, just above her eyebrows. He tasted the anger and the disappointment in her voice.

"You did already, you've been doing it for the past month"

"That's because you need to get better. As soon as you're cured, you'll be on the front line, killing everything that pisses you off, beating Miroku when he bothers a girl, swearing at Shippo, protecting me . ."

She trailed off on the last one. He heard the air change, felt the break of the breeze and a warmth close to his skin. Stronger than the sun, although the warmth of the orb cooled just in front of his face.

He leaned avidly into the touch, the contact, the feel, but the hand was withdrawn. He leaned back against the tree to her hammering heartbeat.

"What makes you think I'll be cured at all?" he said.

The stinging across his cheek he never heard coming, never felt as warmth being cooled, never felt the break in the wind. The noise of it echoed in his head. It lost his balance, shook the blackness he lived in and lost him the hold to the thin line of her image he had made.

He shot his hand out and it hit one of the roots, twisting. He yelped, and two hands took him and stopped the sense of descent that he felt swirling around him. The world he couldn't see stopped spinning around him, and he blinked his eyes uselessly.

"Don't ever say that again!" she chocked. He couldn't hear much over his heart in his ears, he was blind without his ears. The kitsune seemed to have tumbled away.

"Don't ever, ever, say that again" she said again. The hands around his shoulders tightened, and his world centred on them again. They held him softly and steadily. They were the same that had reeled his world and that now steadied him. Every slim finger pressed against his shoulder through the clothes, every slim finger stung on his cheek

He let himself travel along the feel of both the fingers, tracing the ones on his face and the ones on his arm. He felt the way the wind went into her clothes and shaped her for him, he let her hair flutter in his mind, only for him.

"Why are you angry Kagome-ooka?" asked the Kitsune.

Kagome turned to him and smiled, taking one hand away from a now steady Inuyasha and picking up the disoriented child. Shippo, however, hopped out of her arms and sat down on Inuyasha's lap again. The hanyou humphed, but didn't push him away. Shippo fisted his hands into the front of the hanyou's kimono and put his head on his chest, whining. An eyebrow on the older demon's face rose up, but he still raised his hand and let it hover close to the kit's head. Shippo happily rose into it and then put his head back onto Inuyasha's chest, the hand still on his head.

Kagome looked on, and let a tear fall, knowing he couldn't smell it. She forced her eyes to remain on his face, even the though the skin was still scorched hideously, and his half open eyes were black.

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"It could mean that changes will occur, it might cure or make his ailment permanent, we cannot know until the sun sets" said Kaede, gathering water into the bucket.

"Nothing bad will happen" said Kagome in conviction

"Bad things always seem to happen to him when he's human though" said Sango in a hushed voice

"Not this time" said Kagome steadily "He's protected me since the first battle we've had, now it's my turn"

The other two woman looked at her worriedly.

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"WAAAAAAAA!!"

He gave another bound on his hind legs and a leap toward where he heard the wind in a gap of the tree branches. The sun, the wind, on his skin, they still felt like months ago. He could clearly make out the neko youkai to have fallen behind by her retreating heart beat

"You're winning Inu-otou, you're winning!"

The little fox never stopped squealing excitedly in his ears. This was the fifth time he had left the hut when he had heard himself alone. The fox, who never left his side, had always been with him, and had served to warn him of any sudden change in the surroundings until he had gotten used to his ear's sight. The twerp still did that, but it was unnecessary. However the older youkai let him do it, so as not to make the kit feel useless.

"Otou, there's a huge tree coming at us!" Inuyasha smirked, both at the comment and the title he had been receiving for the past three weeks. Trees did not come at you, and he had been already veering to the side anyway. A week after he had lost his sight, the kit had taken to calling him father. He couldn't understand the kit's timing, but he hadn't said anything about it, and the twerp hadn't stopped. He had never done it in front of the others though.

"Aiya! There's a fallen tree on the right!" Inuyasha had already been ducking, hearing the break of the wind against the bark, and the slight whistling it made.

Ooowaaaaa Ooooooowaaaaa Ooowaaaa

The noise of passing one tree and then a space, one tree and then a space, the tree blocking the noise of the air around it while he rushed on along side them, and the gaps opening up a world of images to his ears. He could see the breeze snaking up the barks, slithering between the leaves. He could feel the sun teasing his skin as he twisted between the woods, nearly as inconsistently as the wind itself. He didn't need guidance, he didn't need help, he didn't need substance or anything at all at that moment. He was free- freer than the wind itself.

"We're nearly there! We're nearly there! We've made it otou!" squealed Shippo excitedly. Inuyasha had been hearing the water of the river trickling since they had started, which was why he had proposed a race to the water at all. Shippo had ended from participant to passenger as he had hopped onto the hanyou's shoulder not half way through.

He felt the break through the trees pierce his vision of his surroundings as he felt the sudden violence of the wind on him without the hindrance of shelter, and the jerking noise of the air around him opening to a great area, all caressed by the slish slosh of the stream, which they landed into.

Shippo squealed again and Inuyasha felt him tumble forwards with the jolt, so he caught him by the tail as he always used to, seeing its rustle in his mind.

"Aiya!! Let my tail go!"

"And what will you do to me if I don't?" he asked, throwing a smirk at the kit. He heard the rustle of silk, and shook him slightly. Sure enough, there was a plop into the stream underneath them.

"Hey, not fair dropping my toys of revenge into the stream otou!" pouted the little thing. He couldn't help laughing at the memories of a pointed mouth and a wrinkled nose, decorated with crossed arms the kit had picked up from the hanyou himself.

He kept laughing when the kit started giggling out of contagion, and then caught himself doing it and began a new tirade of protest at his lost kitsune toys.

"And what, by Kami do you intend to do about it?" asked Inuyasha still laughing, as he tossed the kit into the air. He silently prayed the kitsune to keep his little high pitched yelps as he came back down, his heart beat humming with sheer speed. Inuyasha cruelly caught the pup by the scruff of his clothes, letting him think that he was going to meet the stream intimately before saving him.

"You bakaa!!!" he cried, kicking around "let me down"

"Ok" said Inuyasha with a smirk

"No no, I take that back! I take that-"

Inuyasha threw him up in the air again, and this time side stepped in the cold stream water he was still standing in and actually folded his arms. Again he let the kit fall. He could almost see it. First came his arms, flailing around against the fall- and to his ears, against the wind. Then his little head, his hair thrown back, screaming with all he was worth. His chest, with the little wildly drumming heart, the tail swishing savagely, and finally- hop!

With probably the evilest and yet happiest smirk he had ever worn, Inuyasha felt his fist close gently about the little boy's ankle and pulled him upwards.

Suddenly there was a thunk and a slish sloshing against the stream as something came their way from behind. He drew the kit to him and threw an ear back. The heart beat was familiar and fast, excited. He opened his mouth and turned slightly, and saw the taste it carried to be familiar.

"Inuyasha!" he knew it was her before she had moved half way the distance towards them in the thin ankle deep stream. She latched onto his arm and tugged at him. "Why didn't you tell us you were better, that you can see again! I'm so happy for you Inuyasha, I-"

He turned his face to her, with his eyes closed. He heard her gasp, and on testing realised that his eyelids had been half open, and he closed them completely immediately. He had realised a long time ago that what his eyes had become frightening to her; or disgusted her.

"But, I thought, I saw you, you were-"

"What you see isn't always what you think" he told her. He'd learnt that. He'd learnt that.

"But how could you- I mean, you caught Shippo, and-"

"I don't need my eyes to get around"

"Your nose is better then?" she asked more meekly. Her heart sped up. Was she expecting him to yell at her? He certainly would have before, and still felt like it somewhat, but now that he paid more attention to her heart beat and her subtle shifts in the way she held his arm, and how close she kept her body to his while she changed attitude . . . he had never realised how much she told him without saying anything. And how nice it was of her to touch him. She hadn't done it half as often before.

"No, it isn't" he told her. She made a sad noise at the back of her throat. A sorry noise, that meant she was sad herself, and not that she was sad for someone else. She rarely made it. She really did want him better didn't she?

"But I don't need it either" he assured her, shifting his grip on the kitsune's foot without turning his face to him, hearing the kit squeak.

"Put me down otou!!' he said, jerking around. Inuyasha laughed and took no notice of the surprised noise Kagome made at the title

"You're falling into that one again? Are you SURE you want me to let you go?"

"Ah! Iie!! Ok ok, don't drop me!"

Still laughing as he hadn't in years, the hanyou pulled the kit up and draped his little form onto his head

"And remember" he said with a smirk, feeling warm air of little kitsune revenge around one of his ears "If you gnaw my ears I won't have anything to go by and we crush into a tree"

"Aaawww, it's not fair" he replied, and Inuyasha could just see him pouting again as he felt him take hold of his hair.

"It's good to see you smile" he heard Kagome say. He turned to her and thanked her under his breath and heard her make a little gasp. He put an arm around her shoulder and with a swift movement he caught her under her knees with his other arm and leaped off, leaving a trickled of stream water behind him as he leaped. He heard the little droplets topple back into the stream water. He could almost see it.

"It's good to see you smile too" he told her quietly. He knew she started, he knew she looked up at him once again to see if maybe it had been all a trick after all. He knew it all, he felt it against his very skin as she moved against him, moved against his hold on her body.

He also felt her arm rise, and again the shadow of her warmth against his face's skin, tracing the air around his eyes, caressing the wind against his nose, but never touching. Never touching. Never touching him

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He couldn't help the smile he had slipping into its shadow when he felt her arm rest again against his chest, his face remaining untouched and unappeased.

The village they had stopped in was a quiet one, one on the wayside of the many little horrible scenes they had witnessed. He smirked- at least now he would be spared the horror views of the war massacres.

He heard a tinkle, and tilted his head towards it, knowing what it was. They had collected another shard, and she always did that to the little bottle she had when there was a new addition; she twirled it around in her fingers, watching them shine. And after a while the tinkling would lesson softly, and that meant that her fingers on the glass had caused the new shard to merge with the rest. Then she would sigh and sit quietly for a while before moving to the fire to cook their meal for them. Sometimes she even came near him before turning to the food, and lately she was doing it more and more often

And he had to thank the kit for their new sleeping arrangements. He had always longed to sleep beside her, if only sitting at the foot of her bag. He had never had the courage or the gall to admit that she reduced him to the longing of a pup, but now he had his wish granted and more.

She had lightly moaned about missing the kit's presence in her bag, since when they journeyed now, he had always slept with a hanyou he now called father. They had all been slightly aghast at that, but over the past five months of new travels they had come to terms with it.

The kitsune had answered that he loved them both, how could he choose between them? He had been about to start crying when the hanyou had sighed, picked up the kit where he rested on his lap and walked to where he saw her heart beat. Shippo had started to whine, saying Inuyasha hadn't wanted him anymore, but he had just smirked at the kit and set him at the edge of her bedding, then settled down to sit by it himself.

Night after night, that had changed by little bits. The pup had wailed every night that it wasn't fair for him to choose because he didn't want to, and he had finally offered, of his own accord, Kagome's very bedding to the hanyou, Inuyasha knowing without even spearing her an ear that she was blushing to death; he hadn't helped laughing.

What had been surprising was that she hadn't protested, or called the pup's name out in reproof, but merely blushed and entered her bedding.

Slowly, the kit's wails of unfairness of the world were joined occasionally and quietly by a similar invitation on Kagome's side. He had brought up all the excuses imaginable, even that he didn't want to wake with stiff back from the floor, but the kit alone had dismantled all of them.

So now he slept in her bedding with the pup between them. They had both been right when they had said it was large enough, but he wouldn't have believed it if he'd seen it- never, not until he tried it like this.

"Inuyasha?" she was at his side, and from the steam that was touching his face, she had cooked and he hadn't noticed. That was one of the things he missed about his scent. The smell of cooked ramen.

He reached a hand out idly and took the bowl from her causally, enjoying the hot yet not scalding crockery against his palm. It was still a cold night out.

He started eating slowly. Not seeing his food was something he hadn't gotten used to yet, and finding his mouth that was part of him was much harder than following the wind around a demon he had to mow down. He munched patiently as he wondered if his sire had known this would happen to him somehow and provided him with the ultimate weapon for his condition; a wind fang.

"Inuyasha?" she asked again. He had long noticed that she hadn't been eating

"Eat that or it will get cold" he told her in annoyance. He didn't want neither Kagome to go hungry nor good ramen to go wasted. It was a very bad thing either way.

"I . . ."

She moved closer to him, and he felt her side embed softly into his own, gradually warm, asking permission to move closer in a quiet manner that was her body language. Had he never noticed this before or was she doing it only now?

"What is it Kagome?" he asked slowly. If he sounded angry at her she would leave and keep it to herself, he could see that.

"I meant to ask you . . . it doesn't bother you to share the bag with me and Shippo does it? Shippo insisted so much, I don't want you to just stand it because he'd make a whole mess . . . if you want I can get another bag from my time and you can put it close to mine so . ."

She trailed off. He enjoyed hearing her ramble. She spoke so much when she did that, and her voice was always a welcome sound. Her heart beat always went rhythmic, accompanying the early crickets in a swaying sort of melody. The heat she was warming his side with seemed to increase.

"I don't see why you should unless it bothers you as it is" he said, putting more ramen in his mouth to show that he didn't have anything to say. Well, first in his chin, and then his mouth, but second try was an improvement.

"No, I, I mean, I don't mind, but I thought, since you complained about attacks last time, that you'd want to have your own if you want to go back to sleeping while sitting up"

"I don't intend to" he said after he swallowed. He was going to take another mouthful, but stopped in mid air with the weight on the noodles on his chopsticks (which he now felt he hadn't sliced exactly in the middle in his haste to eat)

"I've discovered that sleeping on the floor is a whole new world" he said with a smirk "the ground vibrates when there's any movement, especially wood. I'm warned something's coming before it even hits your perception"

"Oh, good" she said, and she sounded happy. He finished his food as quickly as possible, set the bowl aside and rested into her waiting signal. And in fact, as soon as he had given her response, he had her head on his shoulder. The slight weight, the hair against his face's skin, it was nice, all in all.

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Oh yes, now Inuyasha would be pissed off. Very pissed off. She just knew it

"Ah! Why don't we go THAT way, I think there are jewel shards. . ." Kagome attempted, pointing into the opposite direction to the one she felt them in.

"Why should we go that way when a demon is coming from the other side?" asked Inuyasha quietly from underneath her. She stiffened, her pointing arm still in the air. Curse his embettered ears "After all the battles, you still think I can't handle demons?"

"No Inuyasha" she answered. The others on Kirara's back where trying to see what they were saying "I just . . . don't feel like him today, or anytime soon." She tightened her grasp around his shoulder "Not when he's going to think he can take me away from you now"

Inuyasha stiffened in his leap, and she saw his ears turn and strain towards where she felt the shards coming from. Then she felt him growl and hugged him tighter.

But they weren't on time to decide to change direction. The enemy was upon them.

"Hey dog turd, put Kagome down!"

"Shall I put you down?" he asked her quietly

"After all the battles" she answered, using his words "you still think I prefer him?"

He didn't answer as Kouga caught up with them, and he slowed down and let Kagome off his back without her answer.

This time, when he tried to take her hands, he didn't even manage to get close to her, much less touch her and stand on the hanyou's back.

Holding Kagome tightly to him with one arm, he gave a smirk in the direction the heartbeat was coming from. Little wimpy wolf tippety tap. Although Kagome would have a lot to explain later. Why had she suddenly risen and pointed for shikon shards in exactly the opposite direction in which Kouga had been coming from? Did she think him incapable of the wolf, in this 'condition'? He squeezed her tightly to himself for a moment before letting her go and gently pushing her away.

"What do you want Kouga?" Inuyasha asked calmly, a hand on his hilt.

"What do you think, stupid mangy dog? My woman, of course, and I don't like it that you got in the way"

The slight thud rippling up his feet and the heartbeats' closeness told him that Sango and Miroku atop Kirara had retreated their steps and were now looking at the scene.

"Inuyasha . . ."

"What is it Kagome?" he asked coldly. He had been afraid of this. Her behaviour towards him had changed, become closer, and now they had been sleeping in the same bedding for over two months. Yet, she might still have been behaving out of pity towards him, still might think that the wolf was now a better protector. No matter that he had held his own even better than usual with the normal vermin they met daily. He needed all he had against Naraku, and they all knew that. And he didn't have it all anymore.

He knew she cringled, heard the bare, fleeting whimper at his tone that not even Kouga could have had he been in his very place. Shippo shifted on his shoulder, his uneasiness denoting confusion at his otou's behaviour. His innocence didn't allow him to understand implications of pity and honour.

"Who told you you could talk to my woman in that manner dog turd!" yelled Kouga. The wolf went on saying something about ugly stinking mutt with scab face and bitten tail- it made him want to laugh. Kouga was finally being more creative in his threats and insults, although the wolf needed to stay realistic. Did he see a tail, anywhere? And scab face? Ha!

Inuyasha sidestepped as a breeze passed to his right. One if his hands flew up to hold Shippo as the whistle warned of the arriving punch, and he just bent back without much effort. The thundering rising up his bare feet told him exactly where the wolf was standing. He may have been fast, but he was not light footed in the least.

Inuyasha leaped upwards, aware of a branch just above his head which he latched onto to avoid the wolf's new charge. Kouga followed almost instantly, making the mistake of yelling profanities while he leaped at the hanyou. Inuyasha had to grin. Hanging from one hand from a branch as he was, holding Shippo tightly with the other, there would have been no way for him to know exactly where the wolf was coming from, with all the rustling leaves. Kouga had unwittingly cancelled his own advantage.

Hadn't he noticed the lack of sight?

Inuyasha let go of the branch judging upon the wolf's voice for bearing, and flipped backwards, getting out of the deafening rustle of leaves and onto the vibrating ground again. The cracking noise and the wind told him that Kouga had ripped the branch, and that it was now falling.

A split second was enough to tell him where it was falling.

Uncaring of where exactly Kouga was at that moment, he leaped strait, travelling parallel to the ground, and was relieved to feel himself collide with Kagome's soft warmth before she even had time to scream in alarm. Inuyasha tucked Shippo against his chest barely on time as the branch finally collided with the hanyou's back.

"Inuyasha!" Kagome's whisper in his ear was alarmed and worried, but he was relieved to hear no pain.

"I'm fine, don't worry" he said quietly as always, his ears trained to the wolf who was circling the leaves of the branch which were hiding them from view.

"You sure otou?" asked Shippo against his chest. He smiled down in direction of his voice, and then snarled with effort, throwing the branch off and leaping in the same movement when he felt the wolf getting too close. Holding Kagome and Shippo to himself with one arm he landed safely away from the ookami, growling at him openly.

"You could have injured her you fucking idiot!" he yelled pressing them both to himself. Their heartbeats were a comfort. He felt Miroku and Sango approach. "Stay out of this" he hissed at them. This battle was HIS.

"Stop holding her as if you own her, stinking blind scabby dog!" hissed Kouga. Ah, thought Inuyasha, so he had realised, and had thought that perhaps going at maximum speed as he had been doing would have finally taken him out of the running ne? He could just see the face the ookami was making.

"A blind dog that you've just lost to" he said, gently pushing her away

"I didn't see this thing ending!". Kouga leaped again, and Kagome watched in horror as the two demon started their almost dance one again, Kouga moving swiftly and Inuyasha moving seemingly before the blow even began.

At one point, out of pure reflex while avoiding another punch, Inuyasha's eyes opened. Kouga gaped for a few seconds, unable to speak about what he saw. Then Inuyasha blinked his black eyes at the pause, and it caused Kouga to growl. Kagome then knew there was real trouble.

"You're a bloody bastard! You've been taking her around when you can't take care of her anymore!" he yelled accusingly "You baka inu! What were you thinking?!" Uncaring of Inuyasha's warning growl, Kagome was next to him in one quick step.

She knew those words had hit home, and she knew that he had thought it himself several times in the past few months. She hated Kouga for that. Inuyasha surprised her by not reacting, and simply staring at Kouga directly in the eyes with his own.

"Have you lost your brain too!?". The wolf let a fast fist fly, and of course, Inuyasha had stopped it with his hand and had her behind him with the other as soon as Kouga had thought of throwing it.

"Leave my otou alone!" yelled Shippo all of a sudden. He jumped on Kouga's head and pulled at his fur band there. Kouga tried to swipe at him, but again Inuyasha's hand reached the destination before the wolf. Kagome silently held onto his haori and watched.

"Stay out of it Shippo" said Inuyasha as Kagome received him. She hugged the cub to her, but Shippo didn't seem about to obey this time.

"Go away!! We don't want you here, and my okaa doesn't either!! Can't you see that Kagome-mamma belongs to Inu-pappa now? They sleep in the same bedding!! I won't let you take my ooka away and say bad things to my otou!!"

Kagome went several shades of red as she saw Kouga go livid and Inuyasha stiffen. She put a hand on the kits mouth but the damage had been done.

"You sleep in her bedding!! You, deformed son of a mongrel, sleep in her bedding, and you haven't even claimed her! You blacken her honour and you remain away from the honourable way! You disgusting, blinded . . ."

Inuyasha's hand had come out to stop her when he had felt her move, but he hadn't stalled her action all the same. The slap on Kouga's face came as hard as she could give it.

"If you ever say anything like that again, I swear I'll pin you to a tree, take your shards and leave you there" she hissed. Shippo in her grip folded his arms like his otou and nodded "He hasn't touched me inappropriately in any way, and I was the one who asked him to share my bedding."

"Kagome! You can't do that!"

"Why can't I? As far as I remember, Kouga, I never accepted being your woman. I am not just here to be claimed, and if that be it, then, it is not by you."

"You're talking out of pity woman! Don't just take him because you pity him!" yelled Kouga. Kagome wanted to murder him.

"I wouldn't never do that!" she yelled "I would never dishonour Inuyasha like that! Now go! Or Kami help me you'll leave without your shards!"

Inuyasha's hand around her arm tightened, and she turned to look at him. As though he saw, his half closed eyes were pointed strait at hers. She wished she could have read his expression in his burned features.

"I'll be back for you when the turd's better, you'll come to your senses then I'm sure."

Shippo cursed after him indignantly from the safety of Kagome's arms.

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"Please tell me a story" pleaded Shippo as Inuyasha settled in the bedding.

"I'm too tired tonight Shippo" mumbled Kagome into the bedding. He raised an arm as she shifted uncomfortably around, having had to use the feathers of her pillow to make the fire that was warming them, and she gratefully accepted his offer, resting her head on his shoulder, letting him put his arm around her. The soft weight and the warmth of her head . . . her hair against his cheek and jaw . . . her arm around his waist . . . her calming heart beat . . . they were lulling him . . .to . . .

"Otou, can YOU tell me a story then?" Shippo jumped onto his stomach. His slight weight, so unexpected, had him nearly bolting upright. He gave a little growl of warning

"Otou, 'nagai? I can't sleep without a story" the pup whined. With a deep sigh, Inuyasha reached out and pulled the kit between himself and Kagome, where he could feel her remove her arm around him to start caressing the kit's head. He put his arm around her again.

"I'm not good with stories whelp. What kind does your mother tell you?" he asked sleepily, prodding the pup lightly to speed his answer. He felt Kagome shift around, and stiffened, wondering if what he had implied had bothered her.

"About princes and princesses, and evil monsters and dragons, and about you too, otou" said the pup, one of his small hands fisting around Inuyasha's clothes. He felt Kagome shift again, and her heartbeat began to pick up. Was she embarrassed?

"I can't tell you stories about me" he said with a rumble "because I don't know what I look like to you" he gave a grin "Stories about me ne? Like what?"

"Inuyasha . . ." began Kagome insecurely. He gave a laugh

"She tells me all about the battles we fight, and how brave you are, and how you'll always save us, and how she'll-"

"Shippo, are you going to be the one saying the story or do you want one told to you?" said Kagome, sounding agitated. Inuyasha tightened his arm around her and she was still against him, clutching his clothes and her heart beating erratically

"Ok whelp, I'll give you your story" he said with a little laughing growl. Kagome relaxed against him, her body stretching against his. Shippo settled his head against the hanyou's chest, listening. Even Sango and Miroku, who he had clearly heard passing comments while they had been having their little exchange, where now silent, waiting to see what he was going to pull up "I don't know if I remember it right, my mother used to tell me this one, it's been a long time. . ."

Kagome's arm returned to his waist and she pressed herself to him soothingly.

"Once the legends say there was a wild god called Susanoh" he began quietly "He was violent and powerful, full of strength and anger, and he took all in his power in his wake. The gods didn't like it, and banished him from the Kami plains"

He paused to try to remember what else his mother had said about it.

"He was banished to earth, where he continues his battle for conquest. Because now he needed a home . . ." he trailed off. He felt Shippo's head leave his chest "Was he lonely otou?"

"Yes, yes he was. He conquered many lands and became very powerful, but he was never happy, because he was always alone. Even his most loyal servants could not keep him company any longer, and since he was a god, he did not fear betrayal . . ." he trailed off again

"Then he was like you, otou" said the pup. This made the Hanyou raise and eyebrow and give a questioning bark. "He was lonely even though he was the strongest person there was." Inuyasha gave an amused snort.

"I am neither a god nor the strongest there is. If I were, Naraku would be dead."

"He will be, eventually" said Kagome softly against his neck "continue, I want to hear how the story ends." Shippo's head went back down on his chest, and Kagome's hand began caressing his stomach

"Well, Susanoh arrived at a place called Izumo on one of his travels for conquest, and there he heard of a Yamata no Orochi (8 headed serpent or dragon), that every year visited and stole a village girl and ate her. Susanoh did not much care about the sorts of the kingdom, but then he met the youngest Princess of the king, and fell in love with her"

"Her name was Kagome" piped in Shippo sleepily "And she was a very, very pretty princess, and he was a dog demon god" he yawned. Inuyasha chuckled.

"Her name was Kushinada.....Kagome then" he continued. Her cheek moved against him, and he knew she was smiling. Sango let out a chuckle she must have considered silent "He and the princess spent many happy days in the summer walking around the fields and the rice paddies, as she had . . . fallen for him too"

"Hai, how could she have not" said Kagome quietly "She must have loved him deeply". Shippo nodded tiredly against his chest. Inuyasha pressed her to him.

"But the day of Yumata no Orochi was approaching, and a few days before the usual date, the dragon sent one of its serpents to say that this year he didn't want to eat a common village girl, this year he wanted to eat one of the princesses"

"Evil" muttered Shippo

"As the youngest, Princess Kushinada- er Kagome was to be the one sacrificed, but of course Susanoh wouldn't allow it. He stipulated a pact with her father, so that if he managed to rid them of Yumata no Orochi, he would take Princess Kagome's hand in marriage."

"What did he do?" asked Shippo in a mutter

"He ordered the villagers to build a fence with eight huge gates in it, and behind each gate, he ordered them to place a huge vat of sake. The dragon's heads came, and drank the sake, falling asleep. Suzanoh himself cut the chord that kept all the gates up, and they all fell at once on the dragon's sleeping heads, killing it."

"Wow, otou" Shippo whispered, and fell asleep

"He married Princess Kagome and they lived to see happy days, them and their kingdom" Inuyasha whispered on. Kagome's arm around him tightened, and he suddenly felt her lips against his jaw. He stiffened in surprise, and she moved away quickly. He held her, and pulled her to him again.

"Shippo's asleep" she said tightly. She sounded like something was in her throat "Goodnight"

"Goodnight Princess Kagome" he whispered back to her, and kissed the top of her head. He felt her head move, turning to face him, her eyes upon him. He could head her breath through her nose, and he could hear her slightly open mouth, he could see her face in his mind, painted by the wind. Slowly, he bent upwards and took her mouth, then rested back down on the bedding

"Goodnight" he said again.

"Goodnight, Prince Inuyasha Susanoh" she said, trembling, and she hugged him to her. He only wished the wind would paint her blush. He wanted to see her cheeks blush.

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He closed his mouth tightly, concentrating on the feel of her heat coming closer and moving away from him, her arms coming around him and retreating in a steady rhythm.

"Mou Inuyasha, sometimes I think you do it on purpose to worry me" she said. He couldn't help but smile, feeling her fingers against his chest.

"Why do you say that?" he asked, trying to hide the amusement from his low voice and managing poorly

She huffed, her breath passing across the naked skin of his chest

"You fight demons, you leap through tress, you win against terrible enemies, and then you go down into a cave to get Shippo and you walk strait into a rock and run it through you"

With a final tug at his bandage, he finally felt her fingers tuck the loose end of it into the bound fabric itself. The warming spring-announcing breeze came through the door hole, where the drape had been pulled aside. It touched her face and painted her for him, looking at him with those eyes of hers, as her hair waved and made little noises only he could pick up. The innocent breeze was guilty of entering every little crevice of her and telling him what she looked like.

She had been trying to hide her little laughs from him in vain all along as she bandaged his chest. Now as she set beside him, however, her shoulder bobbing up and down, as he heard her cover her mouth with her fingers and felt her movement to do so, gave her away completely.

"What's so funny?" he said, his smile twitching into existence again. There was that light breeze again making its little noises as it entered the door, all the air fighting to get in at once, and it passed over the rest of the room for him. He opened his mouth to taste the scent of flowers in it.

"You have to admit that it is funny" she said at last, layers and layers of humour and laughter in all her voice tones "The Great Inuyasha done in by a rock"

He barked in amusement

"There was no wind in that cave, and there were no echoes either, although I thought it was empty enough" he snorted again, patting his chest "Although I guess I know I was wrong now. I should have known anything that kitsune did was tricky" he stopped and reviewed the room and the hut's surroundings once more "where is that pup anyway"

Kagome stifled some laughter once again as she relaxed against him completely. Although they had shared a bedding, a kiss and intimacies of touch since his blinding, she had never ceased to ask his non-verbal permission before resting against him. It amazed him how she could be so unsure.

"He's with Kaede, gathering herbs to keep your wound clean. He was really guilty that you got hurt looking for him. I think he's afraid you're angry at him"

"When they come back," he said while laughing "bring him here yourself if he doesn't come crawling in"

"You . . . haven't answered me you know?" she said somewhat shyly.

"About what?" he asked, confused but still attentive to her voice. She was going to ask something she wasn't sure of

"How you do it. I mean I . . . please don't be angry at me for this . . ." she paused, her shoulder going taunt against his, until he nodded "I was so worried during the first battles after your accident, but you dodged, and you attacked . . . and you fought- you fight better than you did before Inuyasha. You nearly seem to move before the youkai does . . . how do you . . . do you see Inuyasha?"

He smiled again, almost laughed, at the how much hope and dread at once that question held.

"Well, sort of" he said truthfully

"You can see?" a hand gripped his arm, and her fingers embedded into the darkness, as he let the rest of her trail upwards to form her perfectly.

"No, no I don't see, at least, not the way you mean it" he said. She made that sad noise at the back of her throat again and sagged.

"You can smell again then?" she asked once again, more tentatively. She always asked the second more cautiously.

"No Kagome, I can't smell either." He sighed, feeling her shoulders retreat further from their hopeful high position.

"But then, how? How can you move so quickly? How can you still fight so well?"

"It's hard to explain....... I see, through my ears"

"Huh?" she said in confusion, as her head rested on his shoulder and turned to look up at him.

"How can I say . . . The wind passes over objects and creatures, and breaks itself, and they breath, and their hearts beat. All these things help me see"

"Ano Inuyasha, gomen, but I still don't understand" she said shyly. He turned his head and sought her own, finding it to rest his chin on her hair.

"Let me think . . . ah! I know. For me the wind is like passing silk over a spirit"

"Silk over a spirit?" repeated Kagome

"Hai, think about it. When you throw a drape over a spirit which has consistency, the drape will take the shape of the spirit and reveal its form and position. That's what the wind does to me. And then there's the heart beat, there is the noise a walking being makes on the ground. They all help to complete my picture"

"But during battle, things are so fast.... You move before they do sometimes Inuyasha!" she insisted, her hands both gripping his arm now. It sent pulses of her position into his mind as the feeling sent shivers up his spine.

"The wind isn't the only thing I hear" he grinned "My ears have become a great deal better. Bones creak as they move, muscles harden for a blow, tendons stretch, fists stiffen. All of them make a noise before the limb is able to throw the blow. It takes a while to recognise them, but I had enough time in the hut to get used to the noises of the body moving. When the opponent isn't of flesh, like the stone monster we met a few days ago, the chances are that it will make all the more noise. I can hear better even underwater, I've found"

"So you can . . practically see" she said, and for some reason her heart quickened

"Iie, Kagome. I cannot see many things, like light, and colour. Those I have to add myself. It reminds me a bit of my ofukuru painting, while I learned how to write beside her-"

"You know how to write!" she exclaimed suddenly, her hands leaving his arm, one of them landing with a thunk on the wood. The little breeze drew her shifting her position in his mind, as the wood vibrated under her hand. Another thing he had forgotten to tell her, he could see noise. And he had found that the noise with the most beautiful shape was her voice. It rippled and played, caressed everything it passed over as sensually as her touch.

"It's a bit late for you to discover that" he barked in laughter

"No! no it isn't! I was going to propose something to you, but I didn't know if you would have hated it!" she left his side completely, leaving him to pivot his ears and follow her foot falls through the room. The shuffling noises he heard, accompanied by random thudding of discarded objects, helped him picture her sifting through the pack that always threatened to swallow her. Another bout of spring breeze told him that when she finally stopped, she was holding a flat level angled object in her hands. A book.

"Really Kagome, how am I supposed to read that?" he asked in amusement "The wind won't tell me the kanji on the paper"

Without answering, her heart beating in what he could only guess was excitement, she took his finger in her hand, and throwing the open book on his lap, began running it along the page. He couldn't keep his eyes from opening in surprise when he felt bulges all along it, and Kagome didn't seem to be bothered by them this time.

"What are these?" he asked

"It's called Brail" she started "It's a way for blind people to read. I thought I'd teach it to you after I heard you tell Shippo that story last time, but I had no idea how I would if you didn't know the kanji, katakana and hiragana"

He ran his fingers along the symbols in wonder. In Kagome's time, there were the languages for the blind too . . .

"You thought I was illiterate?" he asked quietly. He had always known the others had thought him stupid in matters of mind, but had hoped Kagome had better faith in him.

"No, I knew you could read, I just . . . you never mentioned reading, and I couldn't know for sure- but I just felt you could."

He let his hand fall on her hand coving his other, as it still held his finger to the page. Slowly letting it follow her arm to her neck, slightly enjoying her change in breathing, he cupped her cheek

"Why do you always have so much faith in me?" he asked. He shifted his posture, turned to face her, and she stiffened. Immediately he tried to shut his eyes, but found them shut already. The next breath she took explained all; he had miscalculated, and her face was very close to his. Trying not to give in and take her lips without permission again, he waited for her answer

"You've never given me reason not to" she said "Even when you tried to take the jewel from me that first time . . I had just seen you kill an enormous demon in one stroke, I wouldn't have stood a chance if you wanted me to die, but you were just trying to get me to drop it . . .weren't you?"

"Apparently you caught me" he snorted "Yes, I didn't want to harm you.

"Because . . . I resembled . . . I was-"

"No, because you WEREN'T her, and I hadn't know you were her reincarnation then. Had you been her, I would have killed you" he stated. His hand still on her face, he felt her features contort in his palm, sad, angry, happy and confused.

"Does my answer disappoint you?" he whispered. When she didn't answer, he tried to lighten the mood at his own expense "Of course, I had completely different intensions when I came to see you bathe"

"Hentai" she said sternly, although he could feel her cheek twitch as she tried not to smile "Of course now that you can't see you've lost your favourite hobby . . ." she trailed off

"That would be Miroku's not mine" he scoffed. When she didn't answer him he asked "What's wrong?"

"If you can see with the wind . . . all the times I went to bathe and you came with me . . . saying you couldn't see me anyway . . . every time I was getting in the water or coming out of it . . if there was even a bit of breeze . . ."

"Er . . ."

"You- you- you hentai! Osu-"

In panic, the hand that was on her cheek flew to the back of her head as his other hand came up to cover her mouth. Both unbalanced, he fell right over her.

"Don't say it!" he began, sounding as if he were pleading, not liking it and starting again more gruffly "Don't say that! Every time you do you REALLY blind me! I never know how things have changed around me and the blood in my ears pounds for as long as the spell is active! I can't see anything when you do that!"

There was a silence as he tentatively removed his hand from her mouth

"Inu- Inuyasha?" she asked "Gomen ne for the last time I said it Inuyasha. I didn't know"

"Does it bother you so much?" he asked roughly

"Nani?"

"Does it bother you so much when I- when I-" his voice faltered and went quiet "when I see you, does it bother you so much?"

"What do you mean?" she asked. The hand he'd had on her mouth he hadn't quiet removed from her face, and now he felt the skin heaten up. In his mind, as his own breath fanned her face and showed him the only important thing in the world, he added to it a blush in brush strokes.

"Does me seeing you offend you?" he stated anxiously "I've- I've done so many times before, and you haven't always . . . reacted angrily"

"Why do you-"

"Please tell me" he asked, again in his quiet tone

"I . . . no, it doesn't offend me when you do. I get angry when you trick me to do it, like not telling me you could nearly see and letting me undress" she said

"But it wouldn't bother you that I hadn't told you, if me seeing you didn't offend you" he said. Under his hand and breath, her features changed. There was a shift at his side and her hand came up. It touched his chin, traced a line along it, then touched his hair. She never touched his face. Her hand landed on his ears.

"Kagome" he breathed "Does it offend you? Please tell me"

"Iie"

"And if I were to ask you now?"

"Inuyasha!" she gasped. As his mouth became a thinner line, he felt her hand rub more strongly at his ear "Someone else might walk in and see me" she continued. Her face against his palm was hotter

"Oh" he said barely audibly. "Then . . ." he began audaciously "Then may I touch you, Kagome?"

He heard her gasp and felt the air rush past his skin as she took it in. He felt her stiffen under his body then go completely limp. Her pulse quickened, nearly reaching his own in speed, and her face became even hotter

"Inuyasha . . . I . . ."

But before she could give him a reply he desperately needed, someone walked into the hut. From the heavy foot falls and the slightly scraping trail, it was-

"Sango-chan!"

He rose off her, and heard the slight embarrassment of the other girl as she stood at the door and shifted her weight and her weapon's from one foot to the other. He steadied himself and once more seated himself against the hut wall, looking away from them both. He had no way of knowing what his words had meant to her, if he had offended her or if he had . . . he could taste her in the breeze, but his tongue didn't show him as much as his nose used to make him see, and he still didn't know why her heart had quickened.

000000000000

His world was a chaos of howling winds and spiralling air currents, furious tunnels of air and cylinders of rushing typhoon

He was indeed blinded, and during battle

He knew he was about to meet his end. He only wished he knew where the others were. Where she and the pup were.

It was obvious who he would send after him when he had learned about his condition.

And she had him where she wanted. He was trapped, his own great weapon used against him as the winds rushing around him secured him from the outside world and surroundings better than had he been enclosed in a metal box three fingers thick. IT was a wall of wind all around him, his own weapon turned against him much like the first time he had met her and hadn't been able to use the sword.

"You've become even better" she taunted, entering the ring of winds she had encased him into "You no longer just throw yourself at things. Your brother would be proud"

"What has my brother got to do with anything?" he snarled. She was talking quietly for some reason, but not quietly enough for him not to guess her location. Apparently, it was to whatever was outside the ring of winds- and not himself- that she wanted to hide what she was saying from. As it was, her voice- flighty and inconsistent as the breezes themselves, reached him perfectly

"Nothing and everything" she said again "I cannot say your brother doesn't attract me, and he the same of me, but we're both free spirits."

"Have you come here to make small talk?" he snarled at her. He was in her power, and they both knew it. And he didn't like being toyed with before the kill. He'd already died once, and the only thing that mattered was that he was leaving her behind.

"Not at all Hanyou!" she yelled, and he heard the movement of her fan. Tetsusaiga blocked all she sent at him but one, which cut his left shoulder. He tried not to flinch, but he couldn't hear her heart beat, not matter how hard he tried to listen over the howls of the wind she was using.

"But I haven't come to kill you either" she went on, lowering her voice once again. He heard her shift, heard her purposefully make noise on the ground she was on even though she was the only one who could lose him. The case of wind still rushed around them, and his hair began to leave his shoulders upwards.

"Don't toy with me, I won't allow it" he snarled "I'll slit my own throat before I let you play with me like a rat."

"Hmmm, maybe you're not THAT different" she snickered, and she once more noisily moved on the ground, telling him exactly where she was "It is not you I toy with. You see, no matter how superior Naraku deems his mind to be, he never can understand the wind. He sees it as too inconstant, too shifty to have merit- as he sees me of course. He is not like us, he doesn't understand the patterns the wind makes, and the orderly fashion in which it moves and rises. He doesn't see it like us, me and you, brother wind wielder"

"What do you want?" he steadied Tetsusaiga in front of him as he heard her foot step closer, but then suddenly the world engulfed him.

Whereas before he had been seeing Kagura's shape before him inside the cocoon of spiralling wind, now the encasing cylinder enclosed itself around him, almost suffocatingly. It rushed against his back, roared against his ears, screamed against his face. He couldn't move a step back or forward without being jostled violently by them as had happened the last time he had tried.

Suddenly- the break. But Kagura's hand was sticking out of his back before he could even shift his footing.

"You were playing with me, bitch" he gurgled, blood rising to his mouth "You were just waiting to get annoyed"

"Come now" she said coyly in his ear, even daring to caress his neck sensually, "I've seen you survive this wound over and over, and I haven't even poisoned you. You won't die from it, you know"

"You're still playing with me, but I won't allow it!" he grabbed the wrist that was against his neck with his left hand and prepared to pass the sword through her- and even through himself if it was necessary

"Calm yourself, hanyou" she hissed suddenly "I WANT you to attack me now, but not in this manner. I've given you that wound because I've seen you survive it. I don't want you dead, I already told you"

"Then what do you want" he snarled in her ear, growling all the more ferally when she pushed her hand deeper into him

"I want freedom from Naraku, and the only ones who can help me in destroying him are you and your brother. I don't go around killing my allies, even if he orders it."

"I'm not your ally"

"We want the same thing, and we're being watched. Those things fly, thank the heaven, so I can keep them away with the excuse of trapping you in winds, but they can still see" she gave a little sneer "and their eyes are his eyes, disgusting beasts" she began trying to release her wrist weakly

"Now, your little woman . . ." she began contemplatively

"Don't touch her!" he screamed, "Don't you dare touch Kagome!"

"Oh really?" She said out loud "I have no interest in doing so" she whispered, and then continued "Let's see you stop me!"

She pretended to tug at his hold on her wrist again

"Now, SHE was screaming about your Bakuryuuha" whispered the wind wielder "And I know you can use that without the use of the external winds. AND I know you haven't used it because you don't know where they are"

He snarled at her and tightened the grip on her wrist, readying to skewer her with the sword

"Calm down, hanyou" she hissed again "Now I want you to use your sword on me, without killing me. Your humans aren't behind me. I want you to help me, I won't kill you or the witch, and neither the ones who travel with you." She snickered "You'll have to trust me"

She opened a door in the wind behind him, and he suddenly could hear them, could hear Kagome screaming his name. Wind could move the location of a voice, but not more than a few yards. They really were behind him. AND wind was invisible to HIM, to Naraku, so he couldn't see the gap in it. But Inuyasha could.

He smirked at her

"We have a deal" he snarled "But if even one of my companions is only TOUCHED by my attack, I WILL KILL YOU!!"

"BAKURYUUHA!!!!"

He pushed her off him and purposely aimed to the right of her, a mistake he could afford to pass as one now that he was blinded. He had never thought his lack of sight would be the thing he would start tricking Naraku with. It was almost funny.

She screamed, and the wall of winds around him dissolved. Immediately his ears were frantically locating the others. Kagome and the pup, Miroku, Sango, Kirara. They REALLY were all behind him. It was amazing.

He heard the hoards of insects again, heard some of them squelch out of existence as the blades of his sword cut through them. The winds were rushing around madly, but now their frenzy was only picturing his surroundings with the highest speed they could be.

"You'll pay Hanyou!!" she screamed at him "You will pay!"

Then she and the insects were gone.

Warm arms came around him, uncaring of the hole in his chest that would stain her white clothes.

"Inuyasha! I was so scared Inuyasha!"

He strained his ears, but there were none left. He smirked

"It seems" he said, still in a whisper to her, just in case "that we have an ally"

"Huh?" she said. The pup was suddenly on his shoulder, hugging the hanyou's neck. He gave his head a little ruffle, but the kit protested.

"EEEwww pappa! Now my hair's all bloody"

The hanyou gave a coughing laugh that brought up blood with it

"Let's rest somewhere, I have a lot to tell you"

0000000000000000

How many of these nights had come and gone? He didn't know, he'd lost count. Sometimes they had stayed in a hut. Sometimes they had stayed outside. Twice they had stayed with Kaede. But in all these nights, he had held her to him, had let her cradle him. Even in the first three, where he hadn't taken up the offer of her bedding every night yet.

The first night she had been hopeful. She had been happy, and notes of hope had reverberated in her voice. His images hadn't been as accurate as they were now, back then- he hadn't seen the shapes in the wind and understood them as he did now. Yet the shock had been immeasurable.

He was used to losing his senses for that night. But losing his hearing that first time, when all he had left was that, had very nearly killed him.

What had saved him had been the pup, who already called him pappa, but back then no one knew yet. He had smelled his distress- his fear at suddenly being cut off completely by all and everything.

So the pup had reminded him he still had one thing left- touch. He had thrown his head on the older hanyou's waste, and he made his little arms stretch as far as they would go, trying to reach around his otou in a makeshift hug.

He had only realised she had been crying when her wet cheek met his neck. She had seen the pup silently try to qualm his rising panic at being left with the feeling of being totally without space or time and she had followed suit.

The moment her arms had come around his shoulders, and her nose touched his neck, he had grasped out at her in despair, let his hands go into her hair; over her back; her arm; her legs.

Then he had put his face into her neck and pretended that her body surrounding him was the reason he couldn't see, couldn't hear, couldn't smell. He had tried to stop thinking about anything and only feel his skin where it touched, so telling him what she looked like. He let himself feel the pulse of her neck against his cheek, and let it calm him, reminding him that she was real, alive, and there. He hadn't cared who saw, hadn't cared who saw him weak any longer, as long as he felt he was somewhere, as long as he felt he was something.

On the fifth such night they had encountered Seshoumaru and his human child. He had recognised his brother's voice even with his weakened ears, and had thought himself dead. He hadn't understood what had happened- too many noises and movements and screams together. All he had wanted was to be killed quickly, without her or any of the others being hurt. It was only afterwards that he had come to know, told pieces of the story by one member of the group or the other, that his brother had attempted to heal his sight with the sword, Tensaiga.

He didn't understand why his brother had done that, even now. But he knew that he had heard, with his hanyou hearing back, all the sorrow and defeat in her voice as she told him the sword hadn't worked.

Many months later, he didn't know which month after his blindness any longer, he had been holding her to him in her bedding, and she had told him she and Kaede had hoped his change to being human would have cured him, somehow, on the first time it happened. He'd almost laughed. It was usually when he was human that he was badly wounded, and they awaited his change with the knowledge that it would heal him. He didn't know which notion had made her think his weaker, human blood would have served the same purpose, but he could understand that she thought the change would have maybe done something to his situation, as the change always did.

Tonight was another of those nights. He had lost count of them, he didn't know how many they had been, but they had been many. He began to wonder whether she had known him for more time as whole or as a cripple.

Tonight, she had said, they would be going home. Or she called it home at least. Across the well with her into her world, where now he would no longer see the many lights and take in the foul smells. He did not know whether to miss them or be glad to be rid of them.

The moment he touched the earth of the well on the other side, he reached out like and infant. Feeling her hand take his pulled him out of the deep waters of the Black. He let his mind travel up her arm, onto her shoulder, hair falling here, hanging there, clinging to the folds of her ever present, strange garb.

He heard the pup's voice echoing in the area, and even his human ears told him he was in an enclosed space, although it was too inaccurate to picture. At least now he knew the well had let the pup pass through with them.

She had 'exams', she called them. She really, really, really had to stay in her time. But she couldn't leave him alone, so he had to go with her. And the pup would never leave him now, so he had to go too.

Rung after rung, he climbed up, the pup on his shoulder, telling him where to move his legs and hands. It wasn't as hard as he thought it would have been. He just raised his hand until it hit the metal, then he grabbed it. His feet found the rungs on their own.

Her hand came on his shoulders the moment he missed the following rung- evidently he had reached the top. Soft touch and gentle pulling, something he recognised and craved all the more in this human night. He let himself lean into all her touches and follow all her coaxing movements. His legs swung over the well wall without him ever feeling dizzy or unbalanced.

The tap of her shoes and the flap of her feet on the wooden stair. The third one creaked, and her hand tightened on his. The next noise was the rough, harsh sliding of the old wood of the shrine door in the well worn cavity.

The noise of open space he had grown used to recognising. It always hit him with its presence, even in this state; he knew he was outside. Shippo squealed and squirmed on his shoulder, turning this way and that, his tiny weight shifting slightly, little hands alternating soft padded paws. This was the first time he had come across the well, the hanyou remembered. It made him smile.

The usual greetings met them when the front door had slid closed behind them. He had come back a few times since his blinding, and all three of her family never spoke about it, but talked to him as though nothing had changed. Especially her mother.

The little boy had latched onto his leg the first time, asking him to stay for good now, since he couldn't see. It had reminded him of his pup, who hadn't been allowed down the well before now, and hadn't wanted to be away from his otou. Her brother had said he didn't want someone to take advantage of him not seeing to hurt him. Again- had he to be offended or endeared? He still didn't know.

This time he was going to stay the night. It suddenly occurred to him that this was the first time they were seeing his human form. Her mother said nothing. The old man was less gruff. Her little brother took off with the pup to play with the kitsune toys. It made him feel safe when he sat on the soft, large, padded and backed stool they had in the larger room.

She sat next to him for a long time, and then finally, when Souta was sent up to sleep, the pup came and asked if he could sleep on his lap. They exchanged a few words, and then they were silent again, Kagome next to him; scratching on the paper with her lead tipped wooden rod, and turning the leaves of her books. His hand was on her leg- had been for the past hour- but she neither protested nor pulled away, so even after lifting the pup into his lap, he had placed it on her leg once more. He just wished he could hear her heart beat, to know if it shifted, changed for him and his hand.

The little kit's chest rising and falling against his thigh had slowly but surely been lulling him away from his thoughts, and her shifting to reach for one object of another beside him almost didn't startle him any longer, when all three of them were shocked into sitting strait by what he had come to learn was the 'door bell'.

"Otousan?" asked the kit, fists still clenched in his hakama, from what the hanyou could feel.

"It's ok Shippo-chan, calm down, alright?" came her voice from beside him. Her mother's voice came from the other room.

"Kagome! It's for you!"

He felt her shift for a few seconds, his hand on her leg told him she turned to look at them, and then her leg slipped from under his hand completely.

"I'll see who it is, and then I'll be right back, promise" she said. But her voice was faint; it was already at the door.

The pup moved around in his lap for a few minutes- he was always restless without her, much as the hanyou was himself. Without warning, he felt the push of the pup's little hind legs on his lap, heard him landing and then followed the skittering, scratching noises of his small claws on the wooden flooring.

"Hey!" was all he managed to say before the pup's noises grew fainter.

"I'll investigate pappa!" he heard the kit answer in his young, high voice. "I saw one of the people who are talking to ooka peer into the room!"

They had? Really? How on earth hadn't he heard the door opening?

The answer came quickly as the kit's claws on the wooden ground became fainter without the noise of the door opening, or the kit struggling to open what he remembered to be high knobs. Kagome had left it open.

Cautiously- standing once and sitting down again as he lost balance, then standing again- he made his way across the room. He hit the low table before he could even leave the soft chair by five steps, then hit something else he didn't recognise at the touch. He felt lost, but if Kagome had people of her time he had to get the kit away from them. If he didn't move quicker, he would be too late to save her. That was something that never would happen.

His legs and hands hit odd things on his way. He dropped something that hit the ground with a dull thud. He was grateful for the tatami- he would probably have broken whatever it was otherwise. He kept one hand on the wall.

He suddenly heard the tinkling noises of drinking glass against what she called 'forks'. Not really forks; some had different shapes and sizes to what she had called 'forks', but they were made of the same material, and that was the only name he remembered for them all. Accompanying these noises are voices. So they are in the 'kitchen'. That name he remembered.

He reached the door, but didn't find the kit there. Was he too late? He strained to listen to what they were saying.

". . . but what on earth is he doing HERE Kagome!" said one of them. Were they talking of the kit? Oh hell. "Come on Kagome, I saw him, you can't pretend you don't know who I'm talking about"

There was another tinkling noise. Was she cooking something?

"Yeah Kagome, spit it? Who is he? Where's your hyper protective boyfriend? Shouldn't he have bolted him out of your place by now?"

He stiffened. Who were they talking about?

"Girls . . . I'd rather not talk about him, ok?"

"Which one? Your boyfriend or that monster in there?" asked the first one who had spoken. Monster? Why hadn't she called him if there was one? How could they be so calm!?

"Don't you dare call him a monster Yuka" he heard Kagome snap. He stilled his thinking, and wondered if they thought the pup a monster with his tail and fox feet. If that was the case, friends or no friends, they would weep before they left the place.

"Oh Kagome! You REALLY have a crush on THAT guy? Come on! What happened to that great guy you had, ha? What was his name . . . Uni . . . Uni . ."

Yes, what was his name indeed?

"Inuyasha" piped another one, who hadn't said anything till then. Her tone was serious; it shocked him more than the mention of his own name.

"Yes, him!" said one of the others "What happened to him ha? I mean he was really CUTE Kagome, and you dumped him for that horrible thing sitting in your living room? Come ON!"

Horrible thing sitting in the . . . the 'living room' was where he, the pup and her had been seated a few minutes before. He remembered that too. Who . . .

"Look Yuka, you call him something like that again and I swear on the Goshinboku that you'll never step in here again." Kagome usually only spoke like this to him, when he really made her mad. Or to their enemies. He began to feel sick.

"Kagome . . ." began the last one who had spoken

"Don't tell me you agree with her Eri! I agree with Yuka" said another "I mean, he's got long hair like Inuyasha and all, but it's just a common black. And his FACE- I saw it too. Kami is it horrible. All burned and scaly, and BLACKENED! He looks like he should wear a mask or not show his face at all-"

"Shut up about my otou!"

That's where the Kit was. He had been just inside the room, hiding somewhere. But now where the pup was didn't have meaning to him.

Monster.

Burned.

Scaly.

BLACKENED.

The various insults he'd accumulated in the past months seemed to scream at him in the face that he was stupid, and blind. Kouga's taunts about scabby face. The odd humans, calling him an accursed deformed monster. He hadn't found anything strange in them. He'd thought them new insults. Another few to add to what had been thrown at him all his life. He'd never thought them true, never considered thinking of them.

"Who are you to say my otousan is ugly! You are three horrid monsters yourselves! Ookasan is so much more beautiful than all of you! And so is my otousan!"

"Kagome! Who is this! He's calling you MOTHER!"

"He's my and Inuyasha's son" he heard her answer, steely, coldly; a statement. The room went silent, save for the sobbing of the little kit.

His son was crying, and she was distressed, and needed to be saved. But he couldn't get his legs to move. The blackness around him dotted with darker spots of black. Then some colour; the sort he used to see after taking a blow to the head.

He couldn't get his legs to move. His hand was moving instead.

For the first time in his blackness, he touched his face.

The fist time his hand hit his human ear. He lifted it away and pushed back into his face roughly.

He felt the scales. He felt the bumps. He felt some welts that only his fingers felt because he had no sensation on his face while his finger tips passed over them. Other parts he felt; he felt the brush of the finger on what should have been skin- what felt like skin- but was shaped hideously.

Monster.

Burned.

Scaly.

BLACKENED!

The brush in his head painted ruthlessly even though he begged it to stop, not to show him, not to let him see. But by the time his hands had fallen once more, his mind had given him a clear picture of what his face was, what it looked like, what he had become.

He felt sick, and at once he didn't feel his insides. All the voices in the next room were sharper, almost painful, but he didn't hear them.

His legs still wouldn't move. His hand moved again

He pushed the kitchen door open. All the noise in the room stopped. The silence left him cut off, but he couldn't find the difference between inside and out anymore. The only thing that he knew was one.

Kagome had never touched his face.

"Inuyasha" she said, and there was some alarm there.

"He's INUYASHA!" said one of them "How-"

"You're stupid!" screamed the one who had spoke last, suddenly, "You're totally stupid! He's wearing the same clothes we saw him in last time! You're so stupid! And blind! Both of you! You're so STUPID!"

Her voice broke, and he realised she was sobbing. He didn't want her pity, but he didn't care about it.

"Kagome" he said. She didn't answer. He didn't hear her move

"Otousan" sniffled the kid "I think you're beautiful otousan." His words cut more deeply than anything else he had heard in that room.

"Kagome" he said again. He wanted to know what SHE thought. He wanted to hear what SHE would say. He wanted to know why SHE never touched his face.

"Why didn't you tell me Kagome?" he said. It hadn't been what he had meant to say, but he didn't know what he had meant to say. She still didn't talk

"What do I look like Kagome" he said again. And now he didn't ask. What did she see? What did she think? What didn't she touch?

"He can't see" someone gasped "I didn't- I didn't-"

"That's because you're STUPID" said the sobbing one again "You're both two stupid loud mouthed blind idiots!"

There was a scratching noise, like claws on a flat surface. Then a soft touch at his elbow. He jerked away, his legs finally moving. He nearly over balanced and fell backwards, but two small hands caught his shoulders and pulled him forward again. Now he knew it was her next to him. He tried to let his mind travel up her hands, but when he tried to picture he face, he couldn't see it. It was a blank face, flat skin, without features. He couldn't imagine what her face looked like, he couldn't paint it; he couldn't think what she was feeling. He couldn't find one face that might fit her at that moment. He turned his mind away before her flat skinned, empty face became charred, burned, scaly.

The hands steered him, guided him as they always did. The hands were trembling, and they were silent; he couldn't even hear her breathing. The blackness around him became impossible to breathe, like lake water, deep down, where the light didn't reach.

He stepped one step beyond her, and the hands on him tightened. One hand left him, and he heard the door click. It was closed now.

Nothing moved. He stood still for a few seconds, stiff, the hand that remained on him gripping. Then he started moving his head; maybe she was speaking, but softly, and he couldn't hear?

But what could she say? She couldn't change what he was, what he had always been and was more so now.

Monster, deformity, abomination, horrid, dirty, putrid, animal, thing.

He pushed away from her roughly as he felt it all start to choke him. The back of his leg collided with the low table, and he fell to sit on it. He tumbled off it onto the floor.

"Inu-!"

One of his hands hooked on the edge of the table, and with a chocked yell he flung it, over-turned it. He heard things tinkle, fall, tumble, crash and break.

"Why did you never tell me?! Why did I never REALISE!" he screamed at himself. He fell forward and pounded the ground. Once, twice "You never wanted to touch my face! You never wanted to touch me!" three times "Why didn't you tell me!"

She'd let him into her bedding, she'd let him touch her, she'd began touching him more, and more, and more often herself. Yet through it all he had still disgusted her. He had still been the monster, the charred, burned blacked thing that she wouldn't touch.

"What game were you playing! Why didn't you let me leave you when I told you I would, if I still disgusted you!"

There were crunching steps, one of his fingers suddenly pounded in pain as something fell on it. Hands touched his shoulders.

"You don't! Stop!"

He wrenched his hand away, his shoulders away. But she wouldn't let him. Her hands roughly found him again, and then he was pulled forward. The deformed, charred, scaly skin of his face collided with soft skin.

Her arms pressed his head to the skin. Something bony rested on his head. He realised her breath was touching his hair hotly, urgently, and that the skin against his face was moving with the same rhythm. She had placed his face to her chest.

He sat there, frozen. He didn't know what to do, what to picture, what to think.

She moved against him, her arms tightened around his head, his legs were surrounded by warmth as he realised she was sitting on his knees. He felt her clothes against his cheeks. She had opened the front of the clothes to him.

She was touching his face, with the skin of her chest.

"I- I didn't know what to do" she said "I thought you knew- I'm stupid, I . .- but I didn't realise you couldn't see it . . . I never thought you never touched your face"

She pressed his face deeper into her chest. He could feel her heart against the right side of his blackened face.

"Your wounds have always healed so quickly, but your face just wouldn't heal. I wanted to touch you so much . . . but what if I caused more damage? What if I hurt you? Your skin feels . . . hard, and healed, now that I'm touching it, but it looks . . so raw and wounded all the time!"

Her chest heaved against him. He felt the cloth that bound her breast against his lip. It was too much.

"Why did you stay?" he muttered. His arms came up around her. He pulled her more deeply into his lap as he still sat back on his heels. "Why do you let me touch you?"

"Because"

One of his hands shot under her clothes, pressed her to his face more fiercely. She let him touch her.

His world still hadn't returned; it was still darker black spots in black, with illusions of taunting colour here and there. She surrounded him, engulfed him, he couldn't picture anything.

"Do you know," he began "can you imagine what my human night feels like? I cannot hear anything, I cannot smell, I cannot see . . . the only thing I can do is touch . . ."

"Inuyasha" she breathed. He felt it against his cheek. His arms suddenly tightened convulsively around her, and he buried his head deeper against the offered skin, touching.

"You have any idea how much I miss your scent? How much I want to smell you again? Drink you in till I can't breathe in any more? You know how much I want to see you? Look at you, see you laugh, see the colours on you, see you get angry and see that red on your cheeks just before you sit me? You have ANY idea?"

"Inuyasha . . ." his name seemed the only thing she could say. The haphazardness of arms and body and flesh, the confusion of what he was feeling and all the coloured dots dancing in his head painfully was driving him crazy. His head felt as though it would split. He wanted to scream in agony.

"You know how much I want to hold you and touch you? How many times since this started that I couldn't sleep because I couldn't pick your scent, even if we slept in the same bedding? I nearly can't remember what it's like exactly, I'm forgetting. I don't want to forget Kagome- I don't want to forget your scent, or your face, or hair, or how your shadow looks like."

He didn't know what he was doing. His head was in a jumble of feelings, colours, pain, voices calling beautiful and hideous and cute and monster all together, and pain; so much pain. Atrocious pain. He was shaking, he couldn't stop it. He was cold, and he was hot, and her skin against his face felt scaly- but he knew what was deformed now, and he felt he was going to be sick.

His body began heaving, his stomach was turning, but he wasn't really sick. It was something else. His body was heaving . . . sobbing. He was sobbing. He was crying.

Blood suddenly filled his mouth. The splitting pain in his head burst open, all the colours in his head became blinding and bright, flashing at him. He began coughing, repeatedly, against her, blood coming and coming as he chocked and heaved. He felt a wetness on his face, coming out of his eyes, down the parts of his face that he felt, down his cheeks. He was crying, but he was also coughing blood.

He could hear her calling his name, continuously and frantically. He heard it above his heaving, felt it against his cheek.

"Inuyasha! Inuyasha! Help! Shippo-chan! Get mamma! Get Jii-chan! Quickly! Help, oh kami please run, run!"

"Kagome! Kagome what happened here?! Were you attacked by youkai! What happened?"

"Kagome-chan! What's wrong? Why- oh kami! What happened?!"

"What are you three doing here! Get out! Get out! This is all your fault! Get out!"

"Ooka! What happened to otou?!!"

"Quick! Kagome let him go, help my take him to your room, bring . . ."

0000000000

Slowly, he began to feel. There was warmth all around him. But there was a constant warmth all along one side of him, and another constant ball of warm, tiny, at his other side. His pup and she were near him.

He couldn't remember where he had fallen asleep, where they had camped. He couldn't feel wind; they had to be inside some hut.

Then he began to hear. Her heartbeat, against his chest, where she was pressed as though he were hers, as though she was claiming his life as hers. He smiled at himself, as he scolded his thoughts for imagining she was doing what he wanted her to. Then there was the kit's heart. A rapid tap, fast but constant. Slower than it usually was, but still faster than his or Kagome's.

He heard the rustle of the bedding around them as their breathing moved their body. He heard the noises of the breathing all the way down to their chests, felt comfort in being inside there with their breath, close to their hearts.

He heard the rustle of the leaves outside, and the rattle of the closed wind against the glass window that asked to come in but was trapped outside.

Glass? They were in her time?

Then he had a memory of her scent. He remembered exactly what it was like, what it had felt like in his nose, in his lungs. All its different tints and colours and tastes.

Then he remembered the scent of the pup too. And he remembered the scent of her beddings. And the scent of her inks, and her paper, and her newly washed clothes.

Then he realised he wasn't remembering them. He breathed, deeply, he smelled.

His nose got all the scents of the room and was drugged on them in euphoria.

He could smell.

On pure instinct, his eyes flew open. He shut them quickly in pain- there was light. Light, a lot of it. An incredible amount of it. His eyes had opened and he had seen white- everything had been white. Nothing had been black, it had been all white. His head began a dull throbbing.

He opened one eye, slowly. Then clenched it shut again. Then squinted it open. Little by little. And the white began to take shape, began to take colour, began to be white light shining on the things in her room in her time.

He did the same thing with the other eye, and then stayed there, not moving, looking at everything. He opened and closed his eyes, only to see the blackness of the inside of his lids disappear into the white and shapes and colours.

He breathed deeply again and held it. Her scent. Her scent. He didn't want to breath out, didn't want to let it out of his nose, in case the next lungful brought no scent with it as before. He kept his eyes open until they watered, because he didn't want to open them to see black again.

He felt her stiffen. He turned her head to her.

She was awake, her eyes were wide, she was looking at him. He was looking back at her. The colours on her face- her cheek was redder on the pillow, and her skin reflected the red of his coat as well. And her hair shone- but the light on it kept moving, and moving, and moving. She moved as she breathed in and out, and the light moved up and down her hair, up and down, up and down. Her mouth was open. Her teeth caught reflections. Her wet eyes mirrored light in ten different places.

He removed his arm from the pup, put them both around her. He rolled onto her, kissed her desperately, buried his nose into her neck, kissed her again. He never closed his eyes, watched her in every second, watched every movement, every colour, every expression. He burned these pictures of her face into his mind forever. Seared her scent into his mind forever.

He couldn't stop smelling her, watching her, seeing her, touching her now that he could see her reactions. Now that he could smell what his touch meant to her. Now that he could see her blush again. Blush once again.

She told him in gasps that he had started coughing blood, but he knew that. She told him that his eyes had suddenly started bleeding black blood. He had thought they were tears. She told him they probably were, that the tears had been what had cured everything. He believed her.

She told him blood had started to come out of his eyes and nose and wouldn't stop. That Shippo had cried himself to sleep. That her friends had stayed the night in sick worry- they were downstairs. They knew now, she said. They had realised Shippo had a tail, and had been awake when dawn had come, and seen him transform.

She didn't care, she said. He still drank her scent in, and drank her sight in, but had stopped moving to listen to her.

"I love you" she said simply "I never thought you were horrid, or disgusting. You were always beautiful. You're beautiful"

"Beautiful" he echoed, his eyes touching her everywhere he could see as his hands had been.

"Inuyasha." Her saying his name like that, in that whisper, meant more than all the sentences she could say. That expression on her face, the way the muscles moved under her skin and the way the light shone on it . . . nothing compared. Nothing.

He could still hear it all. He could still close his eyes and see all those shapes on the wind, and their breathes. But he didn't want to close his eyes. He didn't even want to blink. He kissed her ferociously for the last time before the kit awoke.

With the pup awake, all the house woke to his squeals, sobs, cries and elated sobs.

Every time they returned to her world, he swore it would be the last. But in the end, he always gave in, and always went with her.

This time it was a party of the pup, who according to them, had missed too many birthdays he had to catch up on. Ever since he had been cured and those three girls had found out about him, about Kagome and her dealings with youkai, they were always there, always asking, joking, laughing. They hadn't been told about the well or about the jewel, just that the world didn't only house the human race, and that Kagome, as a shrine Miko, had to miss school to take the duty to talk, negotiate or otherwise interact with the youkai. They didn't even seem to be afraid of the discovery either.

The kit had stayed back. They would go back for him in the afternoon, and most likely be stuck there because all the people didn't want them to leave so soon, and because the pup wanted to play at the black box with Souta a little more. Of course, they eventually would have to come back. There were still shards to gather. There were still enemies to kill. There was still Naraku.

He let her climb the vines and watched her do it. She knew he watched, and it wasn't the first time she threw her shoe at him for peeking, but she never really did make a fuss any more. Even she was glad he COULD peek.

As soon as she had flipped over the well lip- disappeared to leave him with only a square blue sky- he closed his eyes and jumped out. Without effort, he landed just beyond the well, and leaned back, rested onto it, lifted his chin, eyes still closed.

He felt his ears twitch on his head as the wind and the sounds painted his surroundings for him on the inside of his eyelids, adding colour there, shades here, shadows there. He let himself paint it all before sighing.

"Inuyasha?"

She could always say so much by simply saying his name. The number of feelings she could express while saying his name were uncountable. It made him feel privileged to have that name.

He let his eyes open and drank in all the real picture. He saw that that dew drop on the third leaf to the left had seven shades of colour to it, not three, as he had thought. He saw that the moving shadows of the leaves left shapes more complicated than the ones he had cooked up. And of course, he saw that she had more light and colour and shades and beauty than he could ever give her with his brush strokes. He had learned to recognise the language of her body. Her stance was patient, askance, inviting.

She smiled, he smiled back, he took the hand she offered and they started to walk to the village together, his eyes wide open, his nose awake, as he enjoyed the real canvas around them. Sango and Miroku were waiting. They would want to hear what had gone on with Shippo and the others. It was another day.


End

AN: The long awaited one-shot. Yes, I've been writing it for that long.

This is my masterpiece in diction managing and imaging to date. I'm really happy with it- I don't think I've ever managed to manipulate the diction and imagery so well till now. Those who say that fanfiction really isn't useful should really remember 'practice makes perfect' .....