She hesitated as she opened the door, searching her room quickly to make sure no one was in it. She still vividly remembered the day she had come home late to find her mother, waiting in her bedroom. Her mother was not the only thing she was concerned about lurking in her room, however.
Now, she was extra quiet as she tried not to disturb the others in the house, especially her mom. Her mother had had a rough day after all. Then again, so had she. No matter how bad a day her mother experienced, Kagome was sure she had a more exhausting night.
That's when it all started, hadn't it? Late that night Kouga had taken her away… Now it was early morning and with the new day, a new world had come into her view. A world full of werewolves, most of which happened to be her friends. Did she know how to pick them, or what?
She heard a soft knock on her door and immediately spun around as her mother entered the room. Her mother's face was curious and worried, which suddenly turned to extreme concern as she caught sight of her daughter.
"Kagome, what's wrong?" she inquired with urgency, her eyes looking over her daughter's unkempt appearance.
Kagome supposed she was in a state that was evidence of her not-so-ordinary plight. Her clothes were smeared with dirt from the woods and torn in a few places she had not noticed before. Putting a hand to her hair, her hand came back with a small twig held between her fingers. She inwardly winced and wished she had had the chance to clean up before her mother found her. She quickly hid her wounded arm by moving it behind her back and putting her hand over it, covering the spots of crimson.
"Nothing… I was just playing with… Marco before," she lied.
She felt her face redden as she spoke. Her mind had brought back to her memories of other times she had played with the so-called Marco. Miroku… how could he do that to her? If she ever got her hands on him…
"Mmhm," was her mother's noncommittal response, though it was obvious she did not believe her. Nonetheless, she did not press and Kagome was grateful.
Kagome moved as though she were about to sit on the edge of her bed, but thought better of it and remained standing. No use getting the sheets dirty. Her mother noticed the discarded movement with inquisitive worry.
She prayed for her mother to leave and not question her further, though she had slim hopes of any such thing. She was about to open her mouth to spew out some lame excuse, but her mother beat her to it.
"I was wondering…" Kagome's free hand fiddled nervously with the edges of her skirt as her mother spoke. "I'm still going to your grandfather's house in the morning…" She glanced at the clock with little humor. "Well, in a few hours."
"Yes…" Kagome answered in a way that made it clear she was cautiously waiting for her to continue.
Kagome wondered where she was going with her words and why her mother was not questioning her yet. She had been out late again and had come home in a disorderly state. Where was the scolding? Why was she being so kind?
"Would you like to go with me?"
The young girl blinked as she soaked in what her mother had just inquired. Was she… serious? "Really?"
Her heart that had felt like lead in her chest was suddenly floating, and a part of her felt guilty for it. Her mother had just offered her a way to get away from everything she had just learned, at least for awhile and she was happy to take it. It felt wrong and yet she wanted to go.
"You really want me to come along, even if I miss some school and Souta…" Kagome put a quick hand over her mouth as she realized that the comments would not help her.
She smiled, though Kagome noticed curiously how it seemed shadowed, not entirely reaching her eyes. "As long as you make up the work, it should be fine. And Souta can either come with us, or stay with one of his friends." Her mother looked thoughtful. "He is close with Shippo…"
Shippo…? "No!" she interrupted with a sharpness she had not intended. Memories of Shippo came back to her, that night when he was hurt especially. Either he was one of them, or he had gotten hurt by them. But the way Miroku had just disappeared with him without a word, she would guess the former.
It was not that she did not trust Shippo. She believed she could. It was only that she did not trust wolves she did not know. Like the one that attacked her and the others that had attacked him, for that matter. Heck, she was not even certain she could trust the ones she did know. But that was not really fair. What had they done, except have the misfortune of having a curse upon them? If they thought of it as a curse in the first place, that is.
"Then we can find somewhere else for him to stay. I can call in the morning…"
Her mother started running some ideas by her, but Kagome only half-paid attention until she continued, "are you certain you want to go? It takes almost two hours to get there, so I can't just drive you back whenever you want. You'll have to stay for the whole time, okay?"
No problem there. "Okay, mom. I understand."
Her mother nodded. She took a few steps forward to cup her daughter's smudged cheek in an affectionate way. Kagome could tell by the look in her eye that she had much she wanted to inquire and none of the worry had left her. It only seemed to grow as Kagome had readily accepted the invitation. Yet, she said nothing on the subject and did not pry.
"We'll be leaving at six to beat the traffic, so I think I'll get what little sleep I can. You should clean up a bit."
Her mother exited the room then, leaving Kagome alone with her thoughts, the one thing she was afraid of. She let out a shaky breath she did not even know she had been holding as she dropped down onto the bed. Now there was nothing to take her attention away and she was forced to face dreaded thoughts.
Kagome's thoughts were somber and she almost wished her friends could hear her. Sorry, guys… but I need some time to think this over and sort through all these confusing feelings in me.
He knew something was wrong as soon as he arrived at her house. There was just that… empty feeling that Kouga did not like. Something was off, making him grow uneasy and irritable as he knocked on the door. No one answered at first, which brought on another series of more insistent knocks until Kagome's brother finally answered the door.
Souta opened the door only halfway, not admitting him in. "Oh, it's you," he said. He crossed his arms as he eyed Kouga warily. "What do you want?"
"Where's Kagome?" he demanded.
"She's not here," he responded.
He tried to close the door, but Kouga's arm suddenly shot out and grabbed it. Souta pushed still, but it didn't budge an inch, not with Kouga's strength opposing him. Souta glared, though gave up trying to shut it.
"What do you mean 'she's not here'? Where did she go?" he asked sharply. His nails bit into the wood, causing Souta's gaze to flicker nervously to his hand.
The boy swallowed his uneasiness and faced the wolf in front of him boldly. "Why should I tell you?" was his curt reply, matching Kouga's tone of annoyance.
Kouga had to admit he was mildly impressed by the show of backbone. It would not help the boy though; the only thing that kept Kouga from grabbing him and forcing a straight answers out of him (hey, no one ever called him patient), was the fact he was Kagome's brother.
"I need to see her." He stressed the word "need" though trying to keep the growl out of his voice. If he scared or upset the boy too much, he would not tell him anything.
Against his better judgment, Souta took a step toward Kouga, kicking the bag by his feet outside while he was at it. Then when he was fully outside, he closed the door since Kouga no longer had a need to hold it open. Souta turned his back to him, saying, "she's not anywhere you can get to."
He narrowed his eyes just as he heard the loud click of the front door locking. "What do you mean?"
Souta turned around, not meeting Kouga's eyes. He didn't want to see the negative emotions that he knew would be turned his way. "She won't be back for at least a few days."
The sound of gravel crunching turned both their attention to the driveway as a car pulled up. Kouga heard Souta give a sigh of relief. Quickly scooping up his bag, he hurried off to the car. Kouga did not bother moving to stop him, knowing he would get no more out of the boy. Had the car not arrived, he could have probably scared some answers out of him, but he could not now.
Souta did, however, stop just as he opened the car door to look at Kouga. "She doesn't want to see you anyway. You're probably the reason she left."
Before Kouga could ask how he would know something like that or what Kagome had possibly told him, the car door slammed and not too long after, the car was driving away.
The frown on his face seemed stuck there until finally an idea formed in his mind. Yes, if he couldn't get the information here… he would get it elsewhere.
Shippo had always had a sweet tooth.
It was a widely known fact. Chocolate, ice cream, lollypops. You name it, he loved it. And it did help that since he got hurt, some of the older wolves (mostly female) were sympathetic and supplied him with a heap of lovely treats. Other she-wolves were thankful that he had healed Miroku as well; they gave him loads for healing their dear, sweet Miroku. Miroku's power over women… he'd never understand it.
On this day, however, it was one of the few times they had allowed him out since his injury and the first time they had let him out on his own. Okay, "let him" was too strong a word. He had kind of… sneaked out while some of them were distracted. Hey! He was getting bored, cooped up all the time. Besides, he was in the mood for some sour candy, which others had failed to give him during his healing period.
After buying his own bag of sweets, he was distracted by all the sugary goodness, making him unprepared for what happened next. While turning a corner, he crashed into someone, sending him first staggering and then falling to the floor. The bag went flying out of his hands, spilling little sour pieces all over the dirt ground.
He watched it with mournful eyes, then turned quickly and pouted, "you made me drop them!" He froze, however, as his eyes roamed upward and saw the person's face.
The other pack's leader.
He tried to scramble to his feet, but before he could, Kouga grabbed the back of his shirt, hoisting the pup up into the air. He struggled, his arms flailing about, but the wolf's grip never changed. Without a word, he took the kid behind a building where they could not be seen or heard.
"Heyyy! Let me go, you jerk!" he cried as he was carried.
He took a swing at Kouga, but the blue-eyed wolf only moved his head back in response, missing the small blow. Kouga was not amused by the attempt, but he was not really angry with him either.
Shippo spun himself around until he was gripping the arm of the hand that held him. He bit down hard and Kouga instinctively threw the kid from him, causing Shippo to hit the wall of a nearby building. He was stunned for a moment, but when his senses returned he yelled, "I'm not scared of you!"
And to prove his point… he spun around and began running.
"Not so fast, squirt," Kouga said, catching him once more. This time he caught him by his shirt collar. Although Shippo's little hands tried to make him let go, Kouga's grip was iron.
"If you hurt me, a lot of my people will be really pissed off!" Shippo warned. It was not entirely an empty threat either. He was Inuyasha's healer after all. Not that Kouga knew that… otherwise it would have encouraged him to go over the young wolf.
"Look, you worthless pup, believe it or not, I'm not here to kill you or beat you down," he informed the pup. A visit from Kouga for some was as bad as Death knocking on the door.
Shippo stopped clawing at his hands, blinking once as he looked up at him. "Well, that changes things." He went wild. "HELP!"
For a moment there Kouga had actually thought he had actually gotten him to cooperate. Now he would have to do things the hard way.
Kouga covered Shippo's mouth to stop the annoying sound coming from it with one hand while the other hand tightened around his collar, though not too tight (he had to breathe after all). He snarled and a dominant air surrounding him that even a wolf not of his pack would respond to. Shippo quieted, glancing at Kouga with a mixture of fear and annoyance.
"I'm not gonna hurt you, but if you keep whining, I won't have a choice," Kouga told him, a growl underlining his words.
He could have told him he actually had helped him somewhat that night at Kagome's, but he knew Shippo would not believe. Yeah, he would more likely accuse him of lying and then he would never listen. As much as it pained Kouga—and it did pain him, asking one of them—but… "I need your help."
Muffled words came until Kouga took his hand away. "First, if you don't let me go, I won't help you with anything!" he complained as he began struggling again, hands and legs flailing about. Kouga abruptly let him go.
This was good for Shippo. If Kouga wanted something from him, he had the upper hand—sort of. Well he would not ask Kouga to go buy him chocolates, but this could work out in his favor as in, getting the blue-eyed wolf's word that he wouldn't try to kill him anytime soon.
"What do you want from me?" Shippo asked suspiciously.
"Kagome's gone. I need to find her and I want you to find out where she is," Kouga informed the pup.
"How can I do that?" he asked, then added, "And where'd she go? And why?"
"Ask her brother, he went with one of his friends," he told him. He would have avoided the other questions, but he made the mistake at looking at the pup. In his eyes was a certain glint… he really did care for the human. Seeing it made him sigh irritably and say, "she found out what we are and skipped town this morning."
His eyes widened. "Kagome… knows?"
Kouga continued, "I need to make sure she comes back." He just had this feeling that she might not… and he needed to make sure she did. The only way he could be certain is if he went to her.
Shippo bit his lip, the wheels turning in his head as he thought about what he had said. "I'll go ask him," he concluded with a nod, then glared at Kouga. "And I'll even tell you, if you're nice."
Kouga smirked. "Maybe you're not so worthless after all, pup."
He turned to leave, but Shippo's voice stopped him. "She is coming back… right?" His voice started out confident, but he couldn't help the questioning lilt at the end of his sentence.
"…I don't know." He looked over his shoulder, meeting the kid's eyes. "And that's why you gotta find out where she went."
Grandpa had been ecstatic to see her. So ecstatic in fact, that Kagome felt guilty she didn't visit him more often. She hadn't seen him since last Christmas and before that, she had not even visited him at home since she was a young girl of ten.
It felt right though, being back at his house. It was after all, where she had lived the first six years of her life, before Souta was even born—she liked to call them "the peaceful years"—when their parents did not have enough money to buy their own home just yet. Of course, after her father passed away, they spent a lot of time at Grandpa's as well. It became her second home and at times, she even preferred it more.
Kagome shifted in her seat on the swing, causing it to sway slightly. It was one of those old fashion ones that hung on the porch, just big enough for two to sit abreast, which her mother proved by sitting down next to her.
They sat in silence for awhile, the porch swing creaking only the smallest bit as it gently eased back and forth. The wind came and tousled hair, though she hardly noticed as it teasingly moved through her locks. Her eyes were fixed on the driveway, watching as that same breeze played with the leaves, causing them to dance and twirl over one another in an almost enchanting display.
"What?" Kagome asked, snapping out of her daze. She tore her eyes away and turned to her mother, who had just spoken.
"Kagome, not that I'm not glad you agreed to come, but I know it was not because of a sudden urge to see your Grandpa. What's wrong? Is it your friends?"
From the surprised look on her daughter's face, she laughed slightly and said, "I'm your mother, I have a sixth sense about these things."
Her brown eyes gaze down at her lap as she picked imaginary lint off her skirt. "I need time to think… away from my friends."
She titled her head to the side to look into her daughter's face. Reaching out, she tucked a loose strand of Kagome's hair behind her ear in a comforting way that also gave her a better view. She must have saw something there because she asked with a sigh, "what did Inuyasha do this time?"
Kagome started with surprise, her eyes widening a bit. Though she supposed it was an educated guess on her mother's part. Whenever she had been down before, it had something to do with Inuyasha and their brief, not so successful relationship. But that was before Kouga came into her life… and before he brought her into his.
"No, not him—well, kind of," she modified after an afterthought. After all, he was one too. "Kouga, this other guy…" She broke off.
"So it is boy trouble," her mother stated in an attempt to understand what was going on.
She hesitated. "…Sort of." Not guys in general, just all the people around me. They're the problem, Kagome thought without humor. "It's confusing… and I don't really want to talk about it," she lied. You wouldn't believe me anyway.
Kagome wished she could tell her, tell anyone just so she could have someone in the same shocked state as her, then they would understand. But she could not do that to her mother, nor betray the others by giving up their secret. Besides, she would rather her mother live in blissful ignorance.
With a sigh, Kagome rested her head against her mother's shoulder, who in turn put her arm around Kagome. They stayed like that until Kagome said softly, "ever find out something you thought you really wanted to know, then realize too late that maybe you didn't?"
The answer came quicker than she would have thought. "Yes. Quite a few times in fact."
"But…" she cajoled, knowing that there was more.
Her mother gave her an affectionate squeeze. "But I know I'd rather know and regret something than to never know it at all. You need to decide if you're the same way. Maybe you're not."
A quiet settled in around them until sometime later, her mother gave her a small hug and went to help Kagome's grandfather inside the house.
With a small nod to herself, Kagome stood. "I think I'll go for a walk."
"Where is he?"
Miroku directed the question at the tall, muscular werewolf, knowing that he always had some inkling as to the whereabouts of Inuyasha. He prided himself of being a bodyguard of sorts toward the leader, though he was never official in name.
The wolf jerked his head to the side. "The gymnasium."
Miroku gave a nod of thanks before heading in the direction of the gym. He passed a number of pack members on the way, many of them in their wolf forms. Some were wolves by choice while others were forced to change because the pressure was just too much.
Miroku shook his head. The full moon was still a day away, yet some could not handle themselves, especially the newer ones. It was a good thing that the abandoned school the pack called home was far enough away from town that the howls from inside the building could not be heard.
The doors to the gym were a bit rusty and required a bit of oomph to open, but it was nothing for a wolf such as himself. They did make enough noise, however, that Inuyasha's attention was immediately drawn to the entrance. And Miroku quickly found out he was not happy anyone was disturbing him.
He knew Inuyasha was in the room because he could sense him, but his eyes did not caught sight of him right away. A low growl came from beside him and before he could turn, Miroku was suddenly forced to the floor with something clamped onto his arm.
His arm tensed and he felt the vibrations across it as Inuyasha continued to growl, biting down harder on Miroku's arm. Miroku made a move as though he was about to kick Inuyasha off him, but the silver wolf jumped back before he could. Inuyasha kept his body straight and proud, but bared teeth were proof of his apparent anger.
"I can see you are in a wonderful mood today," Miroku said in a light tone, though his voice held no joking tone. He ignored his injured arm even though it was bleeding. It would heal soon enough anyway.
"I ain't in the mood for small talk, Miroku," the wolf snapped.
"I realize." He flexed the wounded arm deliberately while raising an eyebrow at Inuyasha.
The wolf snorted and shook his head, refusing to respond to Miroku. Had it been anyone else, he might have attacked them again just out of pure annoyance, and being pack leader, it was technically his right. But this was his friend. They had been friends since both were children. Besides, with the limp he still had because of his injured leg, he did not need to be abused further.
Inuyasha stiffly sat down with his tail drumming irritably against the floor. His ears flickered back and forth and he avoided looking at Miroku.
"Damn it! How the hell did she find out!"
He stood abruptly on all fours and paced the room. Miroku stayed out of his way by leaning against the wall, taking some of the wait off his leg in the process. It still pained him, though thankfully Shippo had managed to get most of the sliver out of the wound and healed it the best he could. It was still healing painfully slow though.
"It must have been that damn girl!"
Sango? Miroku wanted to say no… but he was not altogether too sure about that. Still, he felt indignant and wanted to protest. Just hearing him speak about her brought out a feeling of protection in him. He wanted to defend her. But what would that do but get Inuyasha mad at him and raise suspicion? Wisely, he kept his mouth shut.
"Is that really what's important right now?" Miroku asked. It might have been insensitive, but Inuyasha had more imperative things to worry about. Besides, he wanted him off the subject of Sango.
The wolf spun around with a growl. Miroku held up a hand to silence him and continued, "yes, I know you care about Kagome. You're not the only one concerned; I've known her just as long as you have. But," he stressed the word, "you had better clear your head before the full moon. You're needed by this pack to stay alert and take care of them."
Inuyasha met his eyes with his golden ones for a second before he used all four legs to walk out of the room through the door Miroku left ajar. He threw back one phrase to Miroku as he left.
"The full moon is the last thing on my mind."
It gave Kagome a rather nostalgic feeling as she walked through the woods she had often traveled through as a young child. Usually when she was younger she had always had one of her parents or her Grandpa with her, but not always. There had been a few times she had snuck away and more often than not, had gotten lost. Even now, she was not entirely sure where she was or where she was going, but the trees were not so vast that she could not find her way back evidently.
Or so she thought. The woods were bigger than she had originally guessed. The day grew dimmer and night was upon her before she entirely knew what had happened. It had gotten darker and darker until the point where there was not even an inkling of light left. Except for the moon, of course. Yes, it was almost full—or was it full already? Kagome could barely tell the difference, but was thankful for its light.
Thinking of the moon, however, made her freeze. Hadn't she just learned about the existence of werewolves? Then should she instead be scared of the moon? She wondered if it governed them just as it did in all the stories. How much of what she knew about werewolves was truth or myth? Maybe she knew nothing at all.
The noise of footsteps caught her attention and caused Kagome to freeze. Her heart started thudding in her chest. She glanced behind her since that was where the sound had originated from, but saw nothing. Shaking her head at her own foolishness, she turned back around.
Her breath caught in her throat as she came nose to nose with someone in front of her. Kagome took a few startled steps backward, almost losing her balance. The teenage boy in front of her laughed as he stepped forward to bring them closer. Her entire body tensed as the boy circled her once, making sure to brush his shoulder against her body the entire time.
Growing angry, she shoved the guy away without a thought and he made a low, displeased sound of fury. However, another boy, held him back. She quickly spun around to see five young males surrounding her in total.
The first one fought his captor, but another signaled him to cease his resistance. He immediately quieted down. So, the gesturing one was a leader of sorts. His eyes were focused on Kagome, his arms crossed.
"You're out late," he informed her as though it was something she did not know. Another boy from behind her added with a short laugh, "yeah, girlie."
Despite her fast beating heart and the jolts of panic her brain sent to the rest of her, she folded her arms under her chest and met his eyes. "Yeah, I am. What does it matter?"
The leader did not seem amused by the display. In fact, his face grew tight as though he was angry, but his words were cool, icy. "Now what would a young girl be doing out late… unless she was looking for something."
He nodded his head, causing his long braid to sway a bit. In response, two of the boys began walking around her. Something about it was odd… but in a familiar way. They were circling her like… predators.
"Wolves," she breathed.
She did not actually think it was true. It was only she had werewolves on the brain after all that had happened. She would have been suspicious of anyone. However, as she spoke that one word, time seemed to still as all of them froze.
What? What's going on? she thought to herself, but she could feel a cold dread rush over her. She already knew.
The wolves looked to their leader, startled and unsure how to proceed.
"Well, we were just going to have some fun, but you seem to know about us," the leader said. "Guess we'll have to dispose of you now."
He nodded toward the first guy who had circled her and then gestured sharply. With a toothy grin and a low growl, the wolf sprang forward.
She ran backward and threw up her hands to shield herself from an attack she could barely follow with her eyes. She heard the hard impact of flesh on flesh… but felt nothing. Kagome opened closed eyes and felt shocked at what she saw.
Someone who looked like Kouga had jumped in front of her, blocking her from the assault. The newcomer easily parried the attack and then struck his entire arm across the face of his opponent, sending him sprawling to the floor with a sickening crack.
Were her eyes deceiving her? No, that was definitely Kouga. Why… and how?
Kouga took a step back to stand directly in front of Kagome, one hand reaching behind him to grasp Kagome's arm. She heard a low growling sound that startled her, especially when she realized it was coming from him. Well, what had she expected? She had seem him in wolf form once before. But somehow, last night seemed so very far away. Even if she did believe, it still seemed like something out of a dream.
The male leader took a few steps forward and although the others looked anxious, they did not move from where they were. He moved forward as a test of Kouga, attempting to get a reaction out of him. Kouga's grip tightened on Kagome.
"Never thought I'd see your ugly face around here after you ran five years ago," the werewolf said offhandedly, but there was a harsh, mocking edge to it that was undeniable. "I should've known when I met a knowing human."
Kagome looked up at Kouga because of these puzzling words and wished she could see his face. His grip tightened even more to a near bruising pressure.
"Hiten," Kouga growled.
He was about to take a step forward to take the challenge Hiten was so eager to initiate, but as he let go of Kagome, she grabbed his hand and squeezed, not wanting to let him go. He wondered if she could tell the significant of the interaction between the two. Either way, he let her touch keep him where he was.
The action did not escape Hiten's notice. "I see you're chasing the human wenches still. Some things never change, I guess," he sneered. Malice and disapproval were laced in his voice.
"And they made you the alpha male? The pack must be desperate."
Hiten's hands curled into fists and a threatening sound grew in his throat. Kouga matched it with his own.
"What made you return home after so long, cousin?" Hiten asked through gritted teeth. He only asked because he knew it would enrage the other wolf.
It worked. "Shut the hell up. I didn't do it by choice," Kouga growled so Kagome would not understand his words. "I'd've never return to this damned place if I had a choice."
"You're invading our territory. So is she."
It was not Hiten who replied, but another one of his flunkies instead. They knew Kouga did not want Kagome to hear any of what they said, so they purposively kept their voices normal.
A third spoke. "And we don't take kindly to trespassers."
"You should remember," yet another said as he took a step forward.
All of them were getting ready to attack; Kouga readied himself for the battle. Surprisingly, however, Hiten stopped them with one gesture.
"No. Leave him and let him have fun with his wench. He enjoys their company so much already. Why even dirty ourselves with an outcast?"
"I don't want his traitor blood all over me," Hiten continued, interrupting one of his wolves.
In a movement this time Kagome could not follow, Hiten was abruptly less than a foot away from Kouga with one of his hands on Kouga's shoulder, nails biting into his flesh. "You have two days to get off our territory."
The group left then, with only a few snaps at the two and one of them made sure to bump into Kouga as he passed. Kouga restrained himself from retaliating for Kagome's sake. He watched them with caution until they were out of sight, his hand still gripping Kagome's.
"Kouga, how did you—"
He abruptly spun around so fast it forced a small "eep" out of Kagome. He pulled her into an embrace, hugging her tightly. So tightly. Almost too tightly.
"Damn it, Kagome," Kouga muttered in her ear. His cheek rested against the side on her head, his arms encircled her waist. "How can I protect you if you run away?"
She put her hands on his chest to gain some space between them, but still allowed him to keep his arms around her. "I… I didn't run away." He gave her a look that made her want to glance away from him, but she did not. "Maybe I did. But I just needed time to think. How did you find me?"
"I asked around," was his reply.
He lifted a hand to her cheek, almost tentatively, as though he did not know how she would react to his touch. He gently caressed her skin and she let him without a word. He did not even notice any tenseness on her part.
Why is she so accepting? he thought. Why isn't she like the others? Could what I've hoped for… no, it isn't possible. But…
She did not know what the end of that sentence would have been and was not sure she wanted to know at this point. Her life seemed surreal. She wondered if she could accept it all and go forward. And just thinking about it, she knew she would try.
She stepped away from him and his face seemed to fall completely. However, some hope spread through him as she took one of his hands.
"I'm… I'm glad you came."
Disaster was an understatement when it came to describing school that Monday. It was to be expected, however. The full moon was that night. With the wolves there was no question of their craziness, but even humans were known to get a bit eccentric and wild on the day. On top of that, one of the wolf pack's leaders had disappeared without a word… which not only made his wolves wilder without their true pack leader around, but it also left Kagura in charge.
Sango growled at the mere thought. Kouga had better return soon or this pack will be torn apart, she thought. While Kagura was head bitch, Sango had been keeping an eye on Hakkaku to make sure Kagura didn't get her paws on him, who in turn was more than happy to stay at his "savior's" side. It only made her heart sink lower and lower in her body. She wished he would stop praising her when she did not deserve it.
It was in school that she avoided Hakkaku, knowing that Kagura would not be on the grounds when she was already beyond high school. Not only that, but Sango had no desire to hear his praise. She wondered what his reaction would be if he ever found out she was in fact the cause of his pain in the first place. She was the one to let Miroku escape, not him.
Her body was itching for something to do, to just run and do something irrational and crazy. She did her best to ignore the urges, though she constantly flexed her hands and arms as the desire grew stronger.
Although it was sheer stupidity, she found herself worrying about Miroku once he was brought into her thoughts. He was there in her mind more than she liked already. However, the last time she had seen him had been the night she had freed him and he had been badly injured then. She could not help but wonder how he was now and if he even was alright.
Her nose picked up his all too familiar scent and although she hated to admit it, she perked up. She was surprised he was even in school. Without a thought against it, she followed the scent. It was coming from one of the classrooms nearby and she turned to walk in, but halted at the open doorway. She should have known.
She found Miroku alright, and she should not have been surprised by the presence of another girl as well. Not a wolf though, by the smell of her. He was saying something to her that Sango did not bother listening to for she was more focused on his body language; the small, cunning smile on his face; the way he leaned forward toward her; his hand on top of hers.
He gazed snapped up when he sensed Sango. His eyes widened a fraction.
Her arms crossed under her chest. "I'm sorry, I'm interrupting," she said curtly before Miroku could find an excuse. "Please, carry on." She gestured blindly at the two when she said it before spinning around and quickly making her retreat.
Stupid, stupid, stupid. What was she thinking? What had she been expecting? The boy was a flirt and a lecher. Why did I think I was any different? She should have known better than to get attached to someone like him. Wait, who said she was attached? She helped him, that was all. And she had only done that because he was a friend of Kagome's. Right?
She tried to push the thoughts out of mind as she made her way outside, but they would not leave. She gave an exasperated sigh as she plopped down underneath the familiar tree. Leaning back against the solid trunk, she closed her eyes as she tried to sort through her thoughts. They were going quicker through her mind than normal and were simpler than they had ever been before. Quick, plain thoughts, all demanding her attention at once.
"I thought I might find you here."
The light voice brought her somewhat back to herself, but her eyes were unclear as she opened them to gaze up at Miroku. His face grew serious as his eyes met hers.
"Sango, what's wrong?" he asked. "You must know what happened in there was nothing…"
And am I nothing too? Just someone to flirt with? "Not everything is about you, you know." Why wouldn't her eyes focus? Why did she feel so tense?
Miroku kneeled in front of her and reached a hand out toward her face. She jerked away, pressing her back more firmly against the bark.
He slowly retracted his hand and tried to meet her eyes, though she would not let him. "Sango, what's wrong?"
She shook her head, sending wisps of hair around her face. "I can't… I'm responsible. For whatever happens to him… And what if you ever hurt someone? Kill anyone? It's my fault… I saved you." She drew her knees up to her chest. "I can't do… this anymore! Being apart of this pack is tearing me up. I didn't… want any of this."
Her fingers threaded their way through her hair as she gripped her head. She felt warm liquid drip down her cheeks. What was this? It was stupid. Why was she crying?
"And you… what am I… suppose to do?" Her arms wrapped around her legs as she hid her face. Her shoulders shook. "Me, I don't… I risked my life and you… that girl…" She shook her head. "I can't… think straight… Can't… I don't understand."
Her thoughts were a jumbled mess. Her words could no longer come out coherently. Her breath was quick and ragged; panic and urgency overrode her. Tears slid down her face, escaping closed eyes and she could not stop them for she did not know why they began. Her nails bit into the flesh of her legs as she grew more frantic. Silent sobs racked her body and…
Two gentle hands grasped her wrists and unwrapped her arms from around her legs. Her eyes slowly opened and although her vision was blurred, she saw Miroku in front of her. She glanced away, not wanting to met his eyes as the tears fell from her face.
A tender touch to her cheek caused her to jerk away. No, she didn't want him to see her like this.
His hand came again, however, and grasped her chin. He turned her face kindly, but firmly toward him as he leaned in closer to her. She closed her eyes once more, which caused shock, and yet calm as well to wash over her when he did what he did next.
His lips pressed against her cheek in a small, sweet kiss. And then again. And again.
His hand cupped her other cheek as his thumb brushed the tears away while his mouth moved across her other cheek, leaving ghostly soft kissing in its wake. He parted her legs so he could kneel between them as he touched his lips against her skin over and over again, drinking her tears away.
She shuddered and her tears began to stop, but his attention did not. Each kiss was a small press against her skin and he gently turned her face to the side to give attention to her other cheek. He pulled her onto his lap as one of his hands cupped the side of her neck, while the other wrapped around her back.
She felt his every touch… and was comforted by it. Everywhere his hands met her flesh and his lips touched her skin, she felt at ease. A soothing feeling washed over her because of it. It was reassurance. It was comfort. It was what she needed.
His grip tightened on her a bit as he slowly kissed his way down salty cheeks, his tongue flickering out to erase the tracks of her tears. His kisses trailed down to her jaw, nipping at the edge.
She wanted more… She needed more. She…
He pulled away slowly, stopping after he gave a long, agonizing kiss to the corner of her mouth. But he would… could not go further than that. He left his hands where they were and laid his forehead against hers as he took deep breaths.
Although she wanted to see his face, her eyes could no longer focus. Her hands remained in her lap throughout the entire occurrence, but she raised them now. She put them to his chest and he felt for sure she was going to push him away. But instead, she ran her hands up him and wrapped them around his neck. The ever so gently, she pressed her lips against his.
The kiss was sweet at first, a chaste brush against his lips while Miroku was left slightly shocked. His response was almost immediate, eager to kiss her back with long withheld passion that she surprisingly matched. She leaned back to lay on the grass, pulling him on top of her while she was at it. His tongue licked pleadingly across her bottom lip and she complied to allow him entrance.
But this wasn't like Sango.
He tore himself away from Sango—his mouth, at least. She would not let go of her firm hold on him.
"They shouldn't have let you come to school today, Sango," Miroku softly mentioned to her between ragged breaths. "It's too early, you're too new. You're losing yourself to the wolf."
Sango did not even seem to understand his words. Her face revealed her blankness. Her vision, however, was back and sharper than ever. Her eyes were those of a wolf.
She twisted herself and rapidly changed their positions, putting herself on top instead. She kissed him roughly, devouring him in a sense. He tried his best not to respond, but the more he did not, the more she tried to get a reaction out of him.
She growled when he did not kiss her back and let her hands roam down him body, getting lower and lower until he grabbed her hands and gripped them tightly. She kissed down his jaw and then onto his neck, finding every weak spot he had there in a matter of seconds. Then he felt something begin to pierce his skin.
His heart raced and he pushed her away. She ended up in a sitting position, straddling him instead. Anger was written all over the she-wolf's face.
"No," he growled at her, knowing she would understand that. "You cannot mark me."
Someone clearing their throat took their attention off each other long enough to notice a third wolf standing before them. Miroku recognized her instantly as one of his own pack. By the look on Shurran's face, she seemed disgusted by the entire display before her, but mentioned nothing about it.
"Inuyasha's looking for you," Shurran said.
Miroku sat up and wrapped a firm arm around Sango. She was eyeing Shurran in an unfriendly way and Miroku would do all in his power to make sure she did not attack. It was natural instinct for her to dislike another wolf of a different pack, especially now when she had little to no humanity left in her… yet that lead to the question of why she was being so friendly to Miroku.
Sango nuzzled his neck in response, causing him to tense. However, she did not try to bite him again. He relaxed somewhat as he responded, "I can't leave her like this."
"No, not you, her."
Shurran felt uncomfortable warning the girl, but she felt the need to repay the wolf who had spared her life. Seeing the way she hung off Miroku though, now she was not too sure. But it was better that she find them before Inuyasha did, right? She shuddered at the thought of the massacre that would occur.
Miroku's eyes widened a fraction before he soothed the slight dread he felt. He then nodded to Shurran and thanked her, who, having done what she set out to do, left the two on their own after telling them where they could find Inuyasha, if they wanted to. He believed he could trust her to not tell anyone what she had seen between the two of opposing packs and did not bother to make an excuse. He could always talk to her later anyway.
He helped Sango to her feet, though she seemed more concerned with hanging onto him then standing and walking on her own. She was not cooperative at all as they walked, switching from stubbornness to playfulness which he was sure she did just to annoy him. That was why Miroku was not sure if it was unlucky or lucky that Inuyasha found them before they could find him.
Not sure how it would appear,—and not sure if he cared or not—Miroku put himself between Inuyasha and Sango as the former stormed over.
"You were looking for her?" Miroku inquired calmly.
Sango's wolf eyes met Inuyasha's and she growled at the pack leader. She attempted to move closer, but Miroku put out an arm to stop her.
"Let her come," Inuyasha sneered.
"Inuyasha, she doesn't know what she's doing," he warned.
"Feh, what does it matter? She'd want to tear me apart even if she was normal," he replied.
He was in a rage, that was for sure, but more than that, he seemed a bit worried. Miroku could guess why. Kagome had not come to school that day and that scared Inuyasha. She had not taken their first meeting as wolves well at all.
Miroku shook his head. "You don't know that."
Sango slapped Miroku's arm away abruptly and leapt at Inuyasha. Miroku caught her before she could get far. Standing behind her, he wrapped his arms around Sango, keeping the girl's body close to his chest while at the same time keeping her grounded.
"Maybe not, but she sure as hell wants to now. Let go of her." Inuyasha's hand became inhuman, claws stretching outward. "She told Kagome. That's enough proof of her hatred toward us. If she wants to fight, I'll give her one."
She struggled in Miroku's arms, sensing the challenge even if she did not comprehend the words. Her fingers flexed in and out of fists and her body shook with the urge to change. Her body was too warm and her skin felt feverish. The change would come soon if she did not get a hold on herself.
"I want to hear her say it. Say that she betrayed every one of her kind and ours by telling a human about werewolves," Inuyasha snapped.
His arms tightened instinctively around her. "She's too far gone. Sango is no longer here."
"Sango," Miroku whispered to her, "get a hold of yourself."
He pulled at the material of her shirt so that he could touch skin to skin; it calmed her somewhat, but it would not last long. He kissed the side of her neck and grazed his teeth across her throat. She shuddered against him and her tense body loosened as her eyes closed.
"Miroku!" Inuyasha snapped.
What the hell did he think he was doing? She was one of the enemies! He knew he was a flirt, but this was way over the line. Oh, he knew there had been a few romances between the two different packs, but they did not last long and this was different. Those had been between lower wolves; Miroku on the other hand was second next to Inuyasha.
His hold on her tightened as he turned eyes that had a wolfish glint to them toward Inuyasha. Miroku blinked slowly and then it was gone. "If you want an answer, I'll need to calm the wolf enough to get Sango out. Then you can ask her why she told Kagome."
He was treading on risky ground. If Miroku went too far, Inuyasha could suspect something. And if that happened, all hell might break loose.
"I… I didn't…"
The voice was small and barely audible. Even as she spoke, it was already fading. Both wolves snapped their attention to Sango.
"What?" Inuyasha snapped. What did she mean she didn't? She hadn't told Kagome…?
But a moment later, she was wild in Miroku's arms and she let out a howl that Miroku immediately covered with his hand. Her inner Wolf was in full control once more. Miroku was silently thankful his beast never took him over like that.
The noise of a door opening near them made Miroku turn, though the person who opened the door froze as soon as he did. It was one of Kouga's wolves, a freshman by the look of it, who seemed terrified at the sight of Inuyasha and his second in command. He must have heard the muffled call.
Miroku grabbed his arm before he could flee. "Take her home," he ordered the wolf as he pushed Sango toward him. Sango did not know what to make of this, but the young wolf grabbed her wrist and pulled her along. She had no choice but to flee with him, though she sent a look back at Miroku that made him glance away.
He'd better not try anything on her when she's like that, otherwise… Miroku began thinking, but stopped such thoughts were he realized what he was doing. He would have to trust her pack to look after her. What more could he do? Besides, he could not have left her near an upset Inuyasha who was just looking for someone to blame.
Inuyasha shook his head. "If not her then…"
His hand squeezed into a tight fist.
Kagome was not sure she was going in the right direction as she continued through the woods. It had been many years after all and she might have lost her way. However, a few minutes later, it caught her view and she ran forward.
She pointed up at the large tree in front of her, though to Kouga it looked no different than any of the others.
He raised an eyebrow. "This is what you wanted to show me?"
"Yep!" she responded with a smile.
Before he could question her again, she explained. "I lived here when I was little and I use to love climbing this tree all the time." She raised her foot up on the lowest branch and climbed a few branches upward, but not so far that she was out of Kouga's reach. "It was the only one around that I could reach to climb up. All the other trees' branches started too high." She shook her head. Off topic. "Anyway, when I was around six or so, I took a misstep or something because I fell. I had snuck out so I was all alone and when I couldn't walk because I had sprained my ankle, I freaked. I was so little and it hurt. A lot."
Kagome hopped down from the tree and glanced up at it, her hand still resting on one of the limbs. Kouga longed to reach out and grab her, but he refrained.
"I don't know how long I sat here and cried. A long time. But then, someone came to help me. He let me use him as support and took me all the way home. I didn't know any better at the time. And when I grew older I just convinced myself it was just a dog but…" She glanced back and met his eyes. "It was a wolf. A wolf that helped me. And now I'm sure it was a werewolf. Because he looked sort of like you do when you're in that form."
Oh, she knew it had not been him. That wolf's fur, she remembered, had been a lot whiter than Kouga's was. Besides, if Kagome had been young so had Kouga and the wolf had been much too large to have been him.
"I've been thinking about it ever since I got in the car with my mom. I think… I think that's why I wasn't afraid when I saw you lying there injured, the first time we met. You reminded me of the wolf that had saved me once. I guess I was repaying the favor."
"Well, what do ya know," he muttered softly.
"What?" Kagome asked, not hearing his words. He did not respond.
She frowned at his silence. She wanted answers, not more mysteries. "Why did he call you cousin yesterday? That guy—wolf, Hiten?"
"The werewolves here were my family once. My aunts, Uncles, and cousins make up this land's pack."
So even werewolves did run in packs. Good to know. But… "Then why did you leave?"
"Well, you met them. Not exactly nice people."
She didn't believe him. "One of them saved me," she said stubbornly.
"That was a long time ago."
She did not like this serious, silent part of Kouga. Trying to get him to talk, she said somewhat playfully, "you know, you tried to bite me when we first met."
Some of the tension left him. He crossed his arms as he leaned in closer to her. "You had me locked up in your room."
"I was taking care of you!" she replied. "And it wasn't locked. You just decided to jump out the window!"
She gestured emphatically as she said the last part and he suddenly grabbed her arm. "Where did you get this wound?"
"From that night. The wolf that attacked you and me, he…" She froze suddenly, meeting his eyes with her own widened ones. Feeling nervous, she asked, "does this mean, I'm…?"
His solemnity continued. "Are you reacting at all?"
"Do you feel any urges? Heightened sense of smell? Sharper sight?" She shook her head to each of his questions. "You would have noticed the effects by now, this close to the full moon." He brushed his thumb gently over the bandage. "It's just a scratch. Some people are just resistant to the change."
They started the walk back to Kagome's Grandpa's house. Kouga was unusually quiet and unlike himself. She could not help, but wonder why. Was he regretting what he had told—no, shown her? Did he not think she could handle it? She thought she was handling it fine. If anything, it all made sense to her. She should have figured it out sooner after spending so much time with Inuyasha and Miroku. Maybe that's why after the initial shock, it was not so bad anymore. Yes, she knew she could deal with her friends being werewolves.
But could she deal with her boyfriend being one?
She reached out a hand to his arm to stop him and his instantly yielded to her touch. He gave her a questioning look.
"I'm glad you told me."
The smile that appeared on his face made the words worth it. He was still being gentle with her, gentler than he had been before he had told her, as he put his arms around her. He moved his face closer to hers, but stopped halfway as though waiting for her to continue the movement.
Could she do it? Stand to have his hands on her, knowing the paws that they could always be? Let that mouth that has tasted blood kiss her? Knowing the blood he had tasted, the flesh he had torn with that same mouth… Eyes that could be so sharp and unforgiving, but so gentle when looking at her…
She put a tentative hand to his cheek.
Even she was not entirely sure what she would have done next because the two were suddenly interrupted. Werewolves surrounded them, some in wolf form, and others still in their human disguises.
Kouga rushed forward to block two of the wolves' attacks and threw them away from him and Kagome. Kagome elbowed one that grabbed her in the stomach, but as she fled, another grabbed her. She bit one of their hands as it covered her mouth, but struggling in his arms, she could not get free.
A cry of his name caused Kouga to spin around, but it was too late. One of the werewolves slammed his forearm against the back of Kagome's head, sending her unconscious to the ground.
Kouga growled and attacked, but five wolves jumped him at once. He threw the one on his back off and at the one holding onto his left arm. Another two wolves bit into his legs, but as he tried to kick them away, other attacks came at his sides. One wolf jumped solidly onto his chest, causing Kouga to fall backward onto his back.
After his head slammed into the ground, he looked up, only to see Hiten glancing down at him with a smirk on his face.
"You said two days," Kouga yelled at him.
Hiten's boot came into view. "I lied."
Then he knew only darkness.
Kagome's head was throbbing as she tried to open her eyes. She blinked many times as she failed to recognize her surroundings. Feeling her headache worsen, she attempted to bring a hand up to rub her temple… and found that her other hand was forced to come with it.
She glanced down at her hands in a panic and noticed that both were tied together at the wrists in front of her. As she tried to scramble to her feet and failed, she soon discovered her feet were just as bound.
Her head whipped around and she noticed with some relief that Kouga was with her in the same small room. Well, at least she was not alone, locked in this shed-like room. Now they just had to get untied somehow and escape…
Doing a double-take on Kouga, however, she noticed he looked relied, enraged, and… scared?
"Kouga! What happened?"
He shook his head and rested his head in his bound hands. "Damn it, I should have waited until after… But I didn't think. I was too afraid of you not coming back."
What was he talking about? She did not understand. "What? What's going on, Kouga!"
"Kagome, there's something you don't know about some werewolves. During the night of the full moon… they can't control themselves. They go completely insane and become just like a wild animal."
"So…?" Kagome asked.
She felt a cold feeling of dread fill her as he spoke his next words.
"Tonight… is the full moon."
AN: (07/14/07) Don't hurt me. It's been awhile since my last update. Over a year, I believe. No, this story is not abandoned, just taking an unbelievable long time to update. I have a few pages of the next chapter written, just not on my computer yet. I might shorten the next chapter, just to get something out there.
And... yeah, just wanted you to know where I stand at the moment. If I'm lucky, there might be an update this summer.