Wow, the first of this fic series is at an end. Who really saw this coming? It feels good to finally get the end out and really look back on this work in its entirety. I'm relatively proud of this story. It has its flaws and what not but the next part will be better. I suppose I should talk about the sequels to this fic so you guys can decide whether you want them, or if you would rather just end it now because you feel any continuation to it would just ruin the whole thing for you (coughlikesomanyDisneymoviescough) Unfortunately I cannot talk about the continuations until you guys finish this last chapter. If you guys want to see what I've got planned then you should read the author's end note at the end of the chap. Hope you guys have enjoyed this fic as much as I have (even tho I haven't gotten as many reviews as I had hoped…………….u bastards.)

The deni pie

p.s. I would like 2 thank my editor Belle for editing this fic and being the best beta I could find Lets all give a lil' mental thanx because w/out her this story would b nothing but a literary world of grammar mistakes and spelling errors.

C h a p t e r – XII: W h e r e T h e W i l l o w s N e v e r W e e p

He said that he would stay forever
Forever wasn't very long
He said that he would take the high road
He thought that I was always wrong

Cause when he lied it meant he loved me
And when he lied it meant he cared
And when he lied it meant he loved me
Cause when he lied it meant that he was there

He said that he would go his own way
Wrapped up my leg and down my spine
He said that he would be the fairest
Drenched in blood and turpentine

Cause when he lied it meant he loved me
And when he lied it meant he cared
And when he lied it meant he loved me
Cause when he lied it meant that he was there

I am never going back I don't care what he said
I wish he could see the hate in my head
I am never going back I don't care what he said
I wish he could see the hate in my head
I am never going back I don't care what he said
I wish he could see the hate in my head
I am never going back I don't care what he said
I wish he could see the hate

He said that he would tell no secrets
He said that he would never lie
He said that he would spring eternal
He said that we would never die

Cause when he lied it meant he loved me
And when he lied it meant he cared
And when he lied it meant he loved me
Cause when he cried it meant he cared

Cause when he lied it meant he loved me
And when he lied it meant he cared
And when he lied it meant he loved me
Cause when he lied it meant that
He was
He was
He was
He was there

"Rabbiteen" by: Jack Off Jill

How could he! How could she! What had she done! Kagome sobbed, arms wrapped tightly around her shivering form as she ran through the snow, eyes clenched to dam up the overflowing tears. She was an idiot! An idiot! Even though his footsteps were no longer ringing in her ears, she could still hear them like thunder in her heart. Her legs just couldn't stop running. The adrenalin dulled the pain a little, making it a throbbing ache rather than the unbearable knife in her chest it was probably going to be when her flee instinct wore off.

She could feel water and salt dry and crust on her cheeks along with the mucus trails under her nose and over her upper lip. How could she bear this feeling! It was like running over the shards of her broken heart with bare feet. It was cold and the wind ripped at her chopped hair and frozen skin, tinting her pale body with light blues and lavenders. She sniffled, not caring that dried clots of snot were flying back into her nostrils. Why couldn't she make the crying stop? Why couldn't she make this unbearable pain stop?

Her throat choked weakly on another wail. Her body had gone numb; no physical ache could touch her. But that was all made up for inside of her where her spirit had shattered and the remains continued to jab at her insides. Those she could feel very well and very thoroughly.

She kept her head down to keep the wind out of her face and to prevent it from blowing her tears back into her stinging eyes. Her cries got harder, more intense as her adrenaline began to fail her and throw all of the night's happenings onto her shoulders; forcing her to bear the weight alone.

What was she going to do? Kagome bawled, clenching her chin tight to her chest. Keep running. That would solve everything. There was no way she could go on like this. If something didn't get her eventually, then exposure would take care of that.

Kagome continued to sob, pumping her legs faster through the hard, icy snow.

Shippou ran about through the forest, scattering waves of frozen powder everywhere he went. The blizzard had ended with the dawning light and left the afternoon knee deep in mounds of flakes and flurries. Kaede, for once, needed InuYasha's help in the village more than his, so the day was free for fun and exploration. He had been looking for a frozen pond or lake for the better part of the morning, hoping to slide and slip about on the ice, and maybe even break a hole in it to get at the fish inside. Winter was the season where the fish were lulled into a false sense of security under their frozen barrier, and were much easier to catch when they weren't expecting it.

The little kit hopped about, the level of snow making simple walking tedious on him. He stopped briefly, looking back at his long trail of paw prints, realizing he had probably gone farther from InuYasha's forest than he had meant to. He entertained thoughts of returning, before shrugging and springing on his way. He would always find his way back, and most youkai were already in hibernation, all the dangerous ones were anyway.

With new determination the cub bounded along, searching for a tree he could climb that was high enough to see around the forest. Maybe it would help him find a nice pond or lake. The kit cried out when he suddenly landed on something softer and squishier than snow. The unexpected change in balance sent him sprawling into a snow bank. Quickly crawling out of the Shippou shaped crater, he shook off the offending flurries before cautiously creeping towards the treacherous lump in the ground. His nostrils twitched this way and that, the snow wet enough to dampen and camouflage the scent of the oddity poking out of the whiteness. Shippou wrinkled his nose still trying to make out anything recognizable from the soggy smell.

Finally, he was near enough to the icy bulge that he could have reached out and touched it if he wanted. Emerald eyes ran over the figure widening when they came to a thatch of raven hair swimming over the snow. Stepping closer to the form, he swiped his hand tentatively over it, revealing a smooth, pallid, human shoulder. Shippou began to worriedly paw the snow away from the familiarizing shape. One paw dashed away a mound of flakes near the thatch of hair, unveiling a very recognizable face.

"Kagome!" He gasped frantically.

His breath quickened into almost hyperventilation. "Kagome!" He shouted louder, shaking her roughly. "Wake up!" He pleaded rushing the rest of the snow off of her bluish form. Hiccupping away the tears that were quickly developing behind worried eyes, he pressed his ear to her upper back, waiting hopefully for sound.


He tore his ear away from the frozen skin, fighting down his happiness to think clearly. The beat was there but it sounded weak. He needed to get InuYasha! Shippou skidded to a stop before even beginning. He couldn't just leave Kagome here! He leapt from one leg to the other, fanatically trying to push an idea into his head.

His worried motions finally came to an immediate halt. He did need InuYasha……that was it! Shippou bounded into the air, and with a resounding 'pop!' a familiar hanyou now sporting an obvious foxtail came down to the ground. The kit turned InuYasha hurriedly gathered the fallen miko into his arms before darting off into the forest, following his footprints that would quicken him along the way back.

"Damnit babaa!" He growled as the old woman had him repairing yet another hut thanks to the fucking blizzard.

"If you have something of greater importance that needs attending to, then by all means please tell me." Kaede said calmly.

InuYasha glared daggers at her, hefting another part of the roof onto the home. "damned hag….." he mumbled under his breath, half hoping she would hear.

If she did she wasn't paying any attention to him, not enough to rouse enough energy to scold him, anyway. Wrinkled fingers dug deeper into her heavy robes, drawing them closer around her to keep the cold out. Small swirls of heat drifted from her teacup and warmed the skin under her nose. The blizzard hadn't spared many homes, most of them belonging to newlyweds that hadn't the chance to sturdy their house properly.


Kaede almost dropped her teacup as the shrill scream broke the frozen air. InuYasha dropped the part of the roof he was holding, letting it slide off the shingles and onto the ground. "What the hell?"

There dashing at top speed through the snow was InuYasha, carrying what looked like a human in his arms. The old miko watched the doppelganger sprint towards them in confusion, until she caught sight of a familiar foxtail whipping behind him.

The real InuYasha obviously spied the same appendage before he bellowed rudely, "What the hell do you think you're doing, runt!" Annoyed at seeing another version of himself coming at him.

"It's Kagome! Something's wrong with her! I just found her like this!" He wailed showing it feminine bundle.

Amber eyes grew wide, InuYasha snapped out to snatch her from the Kitsune's hold. "Kagome!" He shouted at her, jostling her shoulders as if the nudge would wake her. Her head merely fell limply over his arms like a broken toy left for trash. Her body was a pale white, taking on a bluish tinge, and her lips were the color of a deep bruise.

"Why are you just staring at her! Quick, get the child inside! She must be half frozen to death!" Kaede commanded, jerking him from his horrified daze.

It was as though a gunshot had been fired, signaling the start of a race, as InuYasha sped to Kaede's hut. The snow crunched around him, sounding like bones being broken. The hanyou cringed at the thought, holding the icy girl tighter. His brain was frantically chasing itself around in his head as he made it to the miko's home. He quickly found the woman's futon and almost forcefully shoved Kagome under the covers. His hands rubbed the blankets along her sides, trying to get warm friction against her frosty skin. Pressing his ear to her chest he could hear a vague heartbeat thumping pitifully against her breast. Gritting his teeth he rose up and continued to rub the blankets along her skin, silently cursing his remaining companions for not hurrying fast enough.

Luckily, he didn't have to wait very long, but in his mind it might as well have been an eternity. "Where the fuck have you guys been!" He snapped angrily as a still InuYasha disguised Shippou scampered through the entrance with a winded Kaede on his back.

The breathless miko paid the angry hanyou no mind, quickly shoving him out of the way to get a better look at the critical girl.

"She's breathing, and she has a heartbeat." He said looking worriedly over her shoulder. "It's weak but it's there."

Kaede nodded, only half hearing him as she checked the frozen woman's pulse. "Go boil some water, now! Shippou, I want you to make a fire!" She ordered.

The frenzied patter of clawed feet and paws signaled their obedient departure. She sighed, running her withered hand over the girl's hair, which had encrusted itself to her cheeks and neck with frost. She hated feeling so helpless. Without proper materials there was nothing she could do. Kaede took a breath to gather herself. She couldn't despair yet, Kagome still had to be checked and looked after properly. Drawing the blanket back she began to examine her for any damage. She splayed her fingers along the collarbone and down the arms. Pausing at the awkward feel of the right wrist, she estimated it might either be sprained or fractured. There was no positive way of telling until Kagome awoke. Kaede spanned the width of her patient's ribs; her fingers finding what may or may not be a weak fracture on one or two of the bones, nearest to the back.

The lines around her eyes increased, heavy with concern, with every abnormality she found. She poked and prodded around Kagome's hips, breathing a sigh of relief when nothing there seemed to be damaged. Any injury there could hinder future child bearing. Kaede skimmed down the rest of her body, inspecting the knees, calves and ankles. She stared sorrowfully at the chafed and lacerated feet, now that the cold was melting away they were allowed to bleed freely. They would need thorough cleaning once InuYasha returned with the water and it was adequately heated.

Lifting one foot to feel for any other harm she frowned, her eyes traveling down the length of Kagome's leg. There on the inside of her thighs, blood caked and cracked along the soft skin. Setting the limb down she moved to grasp Kagome's chilled hand in her own. The evidence was enough to mourn the loss of something dear. Her hand once again ran over the young woman's head in sympathy, this time digging her fingers into the strands to gently scrape through the ice still freezing it to her scalp and neck. When the frost began to melt from the body heat in her hand, the tresses and locks sagged, laying wetly between her fingers. She wasn't sure if this was a nightmare the child wanted to wake up to.

Pinching the bridge of her nose with stress, she had no idea how Kagome would react once she awoke. 'If she wakes……' a despairing voice whispered inside her head. The fingers running through the dampened locks gripped a little too harshly at the thought. No, Kagome was a strong woman, she would make it through. Kaede took a deep breath, attempting to relax herself until she received some help. Her gaze went back to the slowly defrosting miko laid out before her. Small scratches marred her face, no doubt from wandering tree branches, or perhaps some foliage she had fallen into. Her lips though, were beginning to look a little less purple, which was most definitely a good sign. A relieved smile wormed its way over Kaede's lips before turning into a fretting frown at the small trickle of blood appearing to make its way down the other side of the young woman's neck and onto the futon.

Kaede's brow furrowed, her hand gently grasping the Kagome's chin and turning it towards her to get a better look at the opposite side. She tentatively brushed away the locks of hair still clinging to the skin there. It wasn't a threat, just a small trail of crimson liquid seeping through two puncture wounds on the juncture between Kagome's neck and shoulder. A hand darted up to stifle the gasp in her throat. Free fingers wiped away the red dribble. The punctures were obviously youkai made. An animal would simply have torn the flesh apart. This was a deliberate attack. Her mind flew over any information that related to the situation at hand. The only youkai she was with were the friends of the wolf youkai InuYasha had so vigorously resented. He had told her that one had left her in the care of another.

The old woman looked into the girl's face with pity. Was that why she was so intent on staying? Had the wolf tormented her into submission? Kaede shook her head, rubbing her temple, there were so many questions. She had no right into assume anything until Kagome woke up to tell them the truth. For now it would be best to keep this information from-

"I got the water!"

Kaede jolted, whipping around as fast as her aged form would allow. InuYasha instantly stopped his tramping towards her, arms full with buckets of sloshing water. His face looked puzzled, his nose twitched about as if offended. The old miko took his pause to hurriedly move to toss the blanket back over the immobile woman; but InuYasha beat her to it, dropping the pails to the ground, water pouring out in floods, as he leaped over, shoving Kaede out of the way.

He threw the covers away, for once ignoring his friend's nudity. He knew that smell. His instincts screamed answers he didn't want to hear. It was the smell of blood and sex. The ice had covered and dampened the scent, but now that it was melting away it assaulted him furiously. He felt like Sesshoumaru had run his arm through is stomach again. Beyond the blood and the odor of fucking, was a familiar scent. One that came from inside her and from the red stains caked to her thighs. InuYasha felt his claws dig into the blanket, tearing small holes.

"FUCKING WOLF!" He snarled lunging up and turning towards the entrance.

Kaede rose up hurrying behind the InuYasha, grasping his haori to stop him. The enraged hanyou rounded on her, the whites of his eyes pinkening gloriously. "FUCK OFF!" He roared ready to toss her aside should she try to stop him again.

"You will stop, now InuYasha." She commanded sternly.

Kaede straightened her posture angrily as he readied to storm out and wreak gods' know what havoc. She rushed as fast as she could, intercepting him and the door. Snatching his hand before he could knock her aside she spoke in a deadly calm voice. "What she needs right now is a friend to be there for her, not a righteous defender going to war over something that can no longer be helped. Now are you truly intent on deserting her when she needs you most? Or are you going to endure your anger long enough to help her?" She said moving her hand comfortingly to his shoulder. She watched him stand there, his body shaking with fury, claws twitching and itching to rip sweet, deserved vengeance into something. His fangs were clenched against gritting teeth, but the pink began to bleed away from his eyes.

A small encouraging smile turned her lips, a proud glimmer entering her eyes when he silently turned and walked back to the prone woman he cared for so much. She knew what he was fighting, she knew how direly he needed to bring retribution to whomever had done this to Kagome, but she also knew that Kagome was more important to him than his own justice.

"Here's the wood, Kaede!"

The old woman glanced down as the kit appeared in the doorway. "Arigato, Shippou. Gomen, but I am going to have to ask you to get the water, as well." She said taking the bundles of whatever dried sticks and lumber he had found.

The kitsune looked at her bewilderedly for a second before turning towards the mess of fallen buckets and flooded floor. He growled, glaring heatedly at InuYasha's back. "Baka! You dropped the water! Can't-"

"JUST GET THE FUCKING WATER, BRAT!" InuYasha bellowed back at him.

Shippou bolted from the hut, but not before sparing his aggressor one last glower.

Kaede let his rudeness slide for the time being. There were more important things at hand. Picking up a bucket or two that appeared to have retained enough water for the moment, she moved to sit beside InuYasha. Tearing a piece from her heavy robes she dipped it into one of the fuller pails before proceeding to take care of Kagome's tattered feet. She would ask about her other injuries later. The old miko tossed her companion a sidelong glance, wanting to ask him to leave to uphold Kagome's modesty, but knew moving him would be more trouble than it was worth. She sighed, giving up, and began to tenderly move the wet cloth over the bloodied feet. The futon beneath her turned pink with every trail that dripped down her worn skin. "InuYasha, perhaps you could prepare the fire." It wasn't really a suggestion, but barking orders wasn't really what he needed right now.

She watched him nod, never taking his attention from his fallen friend's face. It seemed hard for him to get up and distance himself from her before going to his assigned task. Kaede gave an approving nod as he turned away to gather the lumber in a pile, giving her more room to hover and nurse Kagome. "You had nothing to do with this." She said softly. "Do not blame yourself." Kaede knew he had a penchant of taking it upon himself to carry extra burdens and faults during tragedies. Her only answer was the hollow clicking of sticks and the rough sound of flint hitting one another.

InuYasha knew very well who to blame. And as soon as Kagome was better, he was going to blame his fist right through the bastard's chest.

The sun wasn't out, but it wasn't dark either. Everything looked to be covered in a dim gray light. Ginta's eyelids forced themselves open, weakly trying to unfuzz the world around him. A hard coldness was at his back, he was back in the cave somehow. Cringing, he sat up, bringing a clawed had to his pounding head. His body felt sore but unwilling to sleep any longer. A shifting sound like fur gliding across itself caught his ears as one of the pelt blankets he didn't put around himself fell around him and into his lap with his change in position. Ginta's head turned this way and that confusedly, trying to piece the events that had gotten him there.

"Took you long enough. You let the place go to hell and it smells like a rabbit hole during mating season."

Ginta whipped around to see what he thought was lost to him forever. Hakkaku was casually leaning against one of the nest entrances behind him. "Hakkaku…" He whispered reverently.

The other wolf looked at him oddly before continuing. "What happened? I found you like that outside. Where's Nee-san?" He questioned, glancing around as if she would suddenly appear.

His mouth opened and closed, stalling for time to allow his brain to ferret out the answer in the mush his mind had awoken to. Ginta swallowed, his tongue feeling heavy and so dry. Dotted irises roamed the ground like they held all the meanings of life, his focus halting on what looked like an innocent piece of blue cloth laying pitifully beside his blanket next to the ashy remains of the fire.


"You're a liar! You betrayed him! Unfaithful harlot!" He snarled at her struggling with her wrists as she repeatedly tried pummeling, kicking, scratching and biting him.

---end flashback---

He reached out hesitantly picking up what was now no more than a tattered rag.


"Knock it off, Ginta!" She shouted furiously landing a knee to his gut.

Ginta grunted at the sudden pain in his stomach but continued to grapple with her on cold floor. "Stupid girl! Stupid slut!" He growled. Pain, loneliness, hurt and betrayal flowed through him, making him blind and dumb. Hakkaku was gone, Kagome was gone, everyone was gone. He was alone. He didn't need them. He didn't want to need them.

---end flashback---

He shuddered, his claws digging into the cloth, ripping into the pathetic material. Had he really been so cruel to her? That wasn't like him at all.

"Ginta!" Hakkaku said trying to get his friend's attention. Was he not speaking to him? He wasn't still mad about their little fight was he? It wasn't like them to stray angry at each other this long.

Ginta's head jolted up, looking at the other male in a daze. "Huh? Nani?"

Well at least he was still talking to him. "I said, what happened? What's wrong? Where's Nee-san?" He asked, catching sight of the cloth in Ginta's grip. "And what's that?"

The two-toned youkai followed Hakkaku's eyes back to the jean material in his hand.

---flash back---

Her body tensed when he went to her pants.

---end flashback---

Ginta stilled, his face going three shades paler. "Iie, Iie I didn't."

The mohawked wolf grew more confused, sitting up straighter, becoming worried. "Didn't what? Daijoubu?"


She stilled herself and hugged him tight as his claws ran down the fabric, leaving it in ribbons at her legs before being swept away and pushed aside by the same hands.

---end flashback---

He cried out, abruptly dropping the torn cloth as if it had caught fire.

Hakkaku instantly came to attention, moving towards his friend. "Nani? What's wrong?"

Ginta hiked the pelt up and gathered it around his shoulders, suddenly wanting to crawl into the earth and die. What had he done? What had he done? "Gomen nasai, Hakkaku…" He whimpered, more into his blanket than out loud.

"What are you talking about? Nothing's made sense since I got back, what happened?" He became more concerned as the monochrome wolf began rocking back and forth ever so slightly to comfort himself.

"I hurt Nee-san, and….and I hurt Kouga too." He said, his voice shaking.

"Nani! Ginta, what did you do! What happened to Nee-san?" He asked urgently, his hand coming to grip Ginta's shoulder. He didn't have to wait for an answer, his nose summed it up for him instead. Hakkaku froze as everything fell into place. The smell, the absence of his leader's intended, finding Ginta worn and winded in the snow. He let out an overwhelmed breath. "Tell me what happened."

Ginta abruptly tore himself violently from his comrade's grip. "Don't you get it! I told you! I went behind Kouga's back! He could never forgive me for this!" He yelled getting to his feet.

Hakkaku stood up with him, fixing his gaze on the other youkai. He never should have left, he should have worked through this with Ginta instead of forcing themselves to deal with it on their own. "Do you even hear what you're saying? Maybe you don't get it! Kouga's de-"

"And where were you! If you had come back and not taken your sweet time this wouldn't have happened!" He shouted getting in Hakkaku's face.

"Would you listen to me!" He hollered back.

"Why should I! You never listened to me! You never listened to me about Kouga's-"

"Kouga's what, Ginta! Kouga's what!" He yelled back when the other male suddenly cut himself off.

Ginta growled shoving Hakkaku back. "Don't change the subject! Maybe if you hadn't left! Maybe I you had let me go instead! Maybe if you had just taken us along with you, all this wouldn't have happened! Maybe if you hadn't shoved your own crown on your head and proclaimed yourself king of the world we wouldn't have had to suffer all winter! I wouldn't have had to almost get myself killed getting a full grown bear youkai out of the mountains!"

"Listen to me!" Hakkaku growled.

"Face it, you've changed, Hakkaku!"

"Would you stop and listen!" He said more forcefully.

"Kouga wouldn't have put up-"

"KOUGA'S DEAD, YOU IDIOT!" Hakkaku screamed in Ginta's face.

The other youkai lunged at his friend blared "SHUT UP!" taking him down hard to the floor.

Hakkaku could do little as the wolf that was once his den brother pounded him into the stony ground. He grunted and yipped in pain with each flurry of claws, kicks, and punches. He was still tired from his journey and his friend had gotten stronger with the anger pent inside him for so long. With every swipe, he tried to twist his way out from under him, all the while struggling to get a good punch or kick into a sensitive spot. "Kouga's dead, Ginta! Get over it!" He bit out mercilessly.

"SHUT UP!" Ginta snarled clawing at the arms Hakkaku had put up to guard his face.

The spiky haired youkai suddenly shoved Ginta's arms away from him before looping his arms around the other male's elbows and over his back, squeezing him in a strangling bear hug. If he couldn't fight him, maybe he could at least restrain or subdue him for the moment. "He's dead, there's nothing to go behind or betray anymore…." He whispered, allowing the words to sink into him as well as Ginta. "He's really dead…" He said more to himself than aloud.

Ginta snarled and spat, struggling against the arms around his own but the force of it was hurting his back and he felt the strength drain out of him with every word. A warm liquid began to slide down his cheeks, his body slumped into Hakkaku and he finally succumbed to the tears he had barricaded since the death of his beloved leader and friend. "No, he's not." He sobbed childishly.

Hakkaku felt his own eyes water at the confession. Their best friend was gone forever, they would really never see him again. Kouga had crossed into the other life, and youkai being immortal this would probably be the only world they would ever know. They would never be reunited with him again. "Hai, Hai, he is." He said softly loosening his grip, but Ginta still leaned limply into him, crying tenderly.

Each tear was a knife in his eye, each sob a stab at his throat. It hurt, this really, really hurt. Kouga was dead, his friend, leader, and brother was gone from him for eternity. And eternity was a really long time. Ginta wept harder, feeling Hakkaku shake against him. Kagome had been right, he hadn't really dealt with this fact until now. There was always something he was able to preoccupy himself with to keep from acknowledging what had happened. He had to focus on the future of the clan, plan to keep it from dying out, he had to take care of Kagome. It seemed the more time went on, the less he had to do, and the more alone he was, alone to run from thoughts he didn't want to think about. And he had paid the price when they caught up with him. Kagome had been right all along. "Nee-san…." He whispered, his eyes unclenching, staring wetly into nothing.

Hakkaku moved away, feeling Ginta stiffen. Dotted eyes that mimicked his own, blinked sorrowfully into his.

"She'll never forgive me…" He whimpered.

A tanned, clawed hand came up wiping the snot more than likely dripping from his nose. Hakkaku sniffled and snorted the phlegm away; it was time to move one. "Tell me everything that happened."

She was an idiot. The darkness was becoming brighter. The brightness brought a sickening pain to her head. With the pain, her brain began to function and make her realize that she was an idiot. Her eyelids shifted up and down for a moment before slowly rising up, as if fighting against 10 lb weights. Dull gray eyes focused on the ceiling above, it seemed that ceiling always woke her up to memories that changed her life in ways she didn't need. She wanted to hate that ceiling, but her hate refused to spare any of itself, instead fixating on one person. Kagome wanted to close her eyes, go to sleep and never wake up. 'I'm so stupid…'

Everything hurt. Her feet hurt, her legs hurt, her sides hurt, her back hurt, her head hurt, her neck hurt. The only things that didn't hurt were her arms. Kagome swallowed some saliva into her chafed throat. She flexed her hand bringing feeling back into it, wanting to massage the soreness away from her muscles and bones. Her fingers moved under the blanket, rubbing her thigh to bring warmth back to it. Her legs shifted a bit, aching from being in the same position for so long. Kagome winced, the motion bringing back a stinging between her legs. One hand moved to cup the sore place, feeling what was probably dried blood, dirt, and other things she didn't want to think about. She was so stupid.

A fierce, stinging ache bolted up and down her spine, raging its fury on her nerves. Perhaps the snow hadn't broken her fall as much as she would have liked. Giving into the urge, Kagome clenched her eyes shut, willing away the memories. She wanted to cry, she did, wanted to sob her misery to the world. Perhaps that part of her had broken. Trying to turn onto her side, she didn't want to stare at the treacherous ceiling any more, but her entire body lacerated her with pain as punishment for the effort. She cried out stiffly before going back to her prone position.

If she couldn't move her body then the least it could allow her to do was to turn her head. Yes, she was definitely in Kaede's hut again. This birthplace of so many adventures, so many fond reminiscences, now left a bittersweet taste in her mouth. Twice it had bore her to a changing world she didn't want to go into.

"Ah, it seem the Gods truly love you, child."

Glancing up, she recognized the grandmotherly voice. Kaede looked at her from across the room where something was boiling in a pot.

"I have warm water, and I am making you some tea." She answered, noticing Kagome's attention to the kettle.

She didn't know whether that was the tea or the water in the pot but she honestly didn't care that much. Footsteps sounded in her ears signaling the older miko's approach. Robes of red and white intercepted her view of the rest of the hut. One wrinkled hand reached under her neck, making her cringe at the soreness, while the other brought a cup to her lips. Kagome turned away stubbornly, "Iie, Kaede." She said softly.

"Onegai, child, drink it. I will not force you, but if not for yourself then drink it for me." The old woman almost pleaded.

Kagome sighed, Kaede was taking care of her, there was no reason to be so unappreciative. Obediently turning back, she allowed the cup into her lips and let the warm, if not overly so, liquid to spill into her mouth. It warmed her throat almost instantly, taking away the cracking sting of dryness and cold residing inside.

Kaede took the cup away when it looked as though she had her fill. Letting Kagome's head down gently she put the cup to the side and began to quietly stroke her hair.

The touch reminded her of her mother, it soothed and comforted her, but the need for such things brought mementos of why, exactly, she needed them in the first place. How could something console her and make her want to cry at the same time? Moving her head away again she felt apologetic for rejecting her benefactor so rudely, "Iie Kaede, don't touch me, onegai."

Obligingly taking her hand away, Kaede looked at the girl, her gaze full of sympathy. "Hai, I understand, Kagome. Gomen ne."

And this time she did cry. Silent, watery trails, wormed their way down her cheeks. "Don't be sorry, Kaede. You didn't do anything." He was already making her hurt others, the bastard…..

"I am not sorry for my offers of comfort. I am only sorry for you." She whispered taking Kagome's hand in her own, warming it away from the cold that had claimed it for so long.

Stormy eyes turned to the grandmotherly woman. "Why are you sorry for me?" She asked weakly. Did she know? 'Oh Gods please don't let her know…' It was dirty and shameful, she felt so filthy.

"Would you like to talk about it? It may help." Kaede murmured consolingly stroking her hand.

Shutting her eyes tightly, she willed away more tears as she turned away. She knew, the way Kaede was looking at her told her she knew. "Gomen ne, Kaede." She whimpered.

"Oh child, there is nothing to be sorry for. This is not your fault. You did nothing to deserve this." She said the last part almost fiercely, clinging to the warming fingers inside her own.

Didn't she? If she had done nothing to deserve this then why was she being punished? Kagome took in a shaking breath. Why had this happened to her? She was in love. She was in love, why was that so horrible? She squeezed Kaede's hand, bringing it to her forehead to stroke her hair. She was already crying, there was nothing to stop her from taking comfort now.

Kaede seemed at a loss for words. She wanted to say such things like, 'it will be alright' but she was wise enough to not make premonitions she could not predict. Since she could not promise Kagome a bright immediate future full of sunshine and flowers and cute little animals, she would settle for running her hands through the girl's hair and murmuring soothing noises as she cried.

She wanted somebody to hold her. She wanted desperately to be held but the sharp pain in her back refused to let her sit up and attain her goal. Slowly her cries turned more into tears of frustration than emotional weeping. She wanted arms around her and reassuring words in her ear.

Her long fingers continued to glide through the inky strands, now dry from the fire's heat. "I managed to pry InuYasha and Shippou from your bedside to gather more wood for the fire should you want to talk without them present." She said knowing that certain things women did not like whisper around men.

Kagome nodded her acknowledgment pitifully. She didn't want to talk about it. She didn't want to say how she had fallen in love with the man whose friend had died protecting her, whose friend she couldn't love back. She didn't want to say how miserable she had felt for so long. She didn't want to say how just when she was beginning to accept her feelings and look to a brighter future they were dashed on the floor like unwanted trash from a moving car. Most of all she didn't want to say how she had given her virginity to the same man that had tried to strangle the life out of her body. "Why did this happen, Kaede? It didn't have to." She muttered through her tears.

"I cannot say. I want to give you all of your answers. I only wished I had them." She said regretfully.

"I'm so stupid." Kagome whispered, her sobs subsiding, tears fading into wetness on her cheeks. She felt so spent.

Kaede caressed her forehead reassuringly. "No, you are not the foolish one. Any man that would succumb to forcing a woman is the one that will inevitably pay for his foolishness." She said, though she had no doubt that InuYasha would give 'inevitable' a good hard shove to 'now.'

Kagome stopped and stared up at the woman hovering over her. She thought………….of course she would think that. A small, dark part of her wanted to agree with Kaede. The part that didn't want to admit that she was the one who had succumbed. If she was forced, then she never willingly gave herself to someone who didn't want her, if she was forced then she never willingly gave her heart to someone who didn't want her. But it wasn't true…………. "Ginta didn't….it wasn't……….there was no forcing, Kaede." She confessed feeling the hand still in her hair, the fingers come to a halt inside the raven locks.

"I do not understand, Kagome." The old miko said looking at her patiently for an explanation. She knew not to make assumptions, and was glad she had stopped InuYasha from doing the same.

'That makes two of us…' She thought sadly. Where had all the rhyme and reason gone from her life? "I….I cared about him. I cared about him a lot." She admitted not wanting to look at the old miko next to her.

Kaede sighed with mixtures of relief and remaining remorse. "And did he not share your feelings?" From where the events had gotten her she already had her answer.

The raven-haired miko shut her eyes painfully and shook her head.

"Gomen Nasai, Kagome." Kaede said offering what consolation she could.

Kagome nodded not trusting her wavering mouth to speak. "I know, Kaede, me too."

"KAGOME! You're better!"

Both Kaede and Kagome turned at the shrill cry and furious patter of paws on hard wood. The young woman smiled opening her arms and ignoring the ache as the kit came barreling into her chest. She hugged him tightly, listening to him chatter endlessly about how much he missed her and to never leave him with InuYasha ever again. Her eyes went to the entrance, half expecting the hanyou to come stomping in with readied curses about Shippou talking behind his back. No one stood in the doorway, no growling InuYasha to rile up the ease or to tell her how stupid she was for sleeping in the snow. She felt the slightest bit of relief at his absence. She didn't want him to see her this way, for some reason it would hurt worse for him to see her so weak.

"I missed you too Shippou."

'Ginta didn't….it wasn't……….there was no forcing, Kaede.'

'I….I cared about him. I cared about him a lot.'

Those words resounded in his ears like a gong in the middle of a quiet night. He had reluctantly gone with Shippou to get more wood for the fire, only after Kaede threatened him with Kagome's death due to exposure and his refusal to leave her side long enough to help her get well. He had only stayed on the edge of the forest, opting to simply rip branches from the trees there instead of leaving the village. Luckily Shippou had already proclaimed that he would collect more lumber than ''his' lazy ass could ever get' and had raced off into the woods before InuYasha had the chance to get a hold of him. At least he didn't have to deal with the brat and could get back to Kagome before the pest could assault her with his suffocating squeezing and insistent need to be coddled.

After filling his arms with whatever limbs that looked like they would fit into the fire-stove he returned to Kaede's. He had heard the old miko's voice first before he even reached the hut. It sounded like she was speaking with someone. He instantly dropped his burden making a dash for the little home, intent of berating the hag for not coming to fetch him the minute Kagome awoke. His legs sprung forth, only stopping when he heard Kaede's voice again.

"I managed to pry InuYasha and Shippou from your bedside to gather more wood for the fire should you want to talk without them present."

InuYasha had come to a halt next to the entrance. Would Kagome really tell the babaa things she wouldn't tell him? He mulled the thought around in his head before leaning his back against the side of the hut, his ears perked and listening. Just because she couldn't say it in front of him didn't mean he didn't have the right to know. Kagome began speaking again and his claws flexed at the high cracks and weary tones in her voice. He knew who had put them there. There would be no remains left of the bastard when he found him, he would make sure of that, but first he needed to talk to Kagome. He needed to make sure she was okay.

"Why did this happen, Kaede? It didn't have to."

Tensing at the sorrow he heard there, he wanted to do something, something to help, but he knew no charming expressions to whisper in a girl's ear, he had no pretty, frilly things to offer. What he did know was that bloodshed wouldn't stop her tears, unfortunately, it was the only form of comfort he really knew, and could give freely. She couldn't honestly expect him to let the son of a bitch live after this. No, death was too good for him, but it would have to do. As soon as he could reassure himself that she was better, and wouldn't break with the snap of the fingers, he would be off. He would take care of this the only way he knew how. InuYasha gritted his teeth, silently willing Kaede to get off her fat ass and leave so he could talk to Kagome alone.

"No, you are not the foolish one. Any man who would succumb to forcing a woman is the one that will inevitably pay for his foolishness."

'Pay' was such an understatement for what he was going to make the bastard do. And there would be none of this 'inevitably' shit. Ginta would be nothing more than a mass of entrails at his feet by nightfall. There was a long pause and InuYasha swiveled his ear towards the entrance, less she be whispering and he miss something. But she wasn't whispering, nothing put silence flew under his youkai radar of hearing. Maybe Kaede would finally get the hell out and leave them alone.

"Ginta didn't….it wasn't……….there was no forcing, Kaede."

The hanyou froze, his body going numb and his lungs forgetting how to function. 'What the fuck?' What nonsense was she talking about?

"I do not understand, Kagome."

'That makes two of us.' He thought leaning harder against the side of the hut, as if he could somehow mold himself to the door to hear better. The wait for the explanation was long, a droning quiet overtook the room as he stood perfectly still, taunt and anxious.

"I….I cared about him. I cared about him a lot."

The wind was knocked from him and he heard no more. No more conversation, no noises of nature, no bird chirping or fucking squirrel chatter. Nothing but white noise rung in his ears.

'I…I cared about him. I cared about him a lot.'

It was the wolf. The fucking wolf. She had feelings for the mangy, piece of pathetic fur. So many questions tumbled through his mind. When had this happened? Why did it happen? But most of all: why hadn't he seen it? What did that sorry ass excuse for a youkai have to offer her? He was weak and a coward. He held no status in the youkai world. Kouga was bad enough, but this one was no more than his fucking minion! How could he have known? The scrawny pup wasn't even a blip on his radar, how did this happen? How was he supposed to see this sickly looking runt as a rival for Kagome's affections? How could he beat down a competitor he didn't even know was a challenge to him? The manipulative asshole played the submissive bitch, panting pitifully and rolling on his belly for any dominant male, yet had managed to sneak past him when his back was turned and make off with the prize.

He felt physically sick. InuYasha struggled for breath, his claws digging into the wood behind him. He didn't even notice Kaede coming out until her sluggish steps were practically sliding past the door. Quickly snapping out of his daze, the hanyou leaped up onto the roof making sure to land on his toes so as to not make any noise, clinging to the thatching he waited until she was out of sight. He stayed where he was long after she was gone, unable to deter his mind from the twisting and multiplying thoughts long enough to focus on operating his body.

InuYasha could see them together now. The picture came unbidden and unwanted, but it was there, like a hated birthmark blaring on the back of his eyelids. He didn't even have to close his eyes to see them, touching, kissing, moving together. His head began to shake back and forth furiously, his silvery mane whipping violently to and fro, needing to get the image out of his head. But it wouldn't leave. It was truth and it was real. InuYasha may have known Kagome longer, but Ginta had something with her he had never known, would never know. They now shared something he couldn't touch.

Abruptly stopping his tantrum, his eyes focused unseeingly into the roof as if just by looking he could burn the entire home to ashes.

He may not be able to touch it, but he could tear it apart.

"That's a pretty big fuck up, Ginta."

The other wolf didn't have the heat to glare at Hakkaku. After a story like that there really wasn't anything left to say other than 'you fucked up.' After telling him everything, Ginta gave Hakkaku some time to process what had happened, and in turn he took the time to tug on his fur wrap and bands. He couldn't even look at his vest. It laid a little ways away from the fire, strewn helplessly over the floor, the mismatched and multicolored buttons gleaming pleadingly at him. Sitting back down he ran a hand down his cooling chest trying to look at anything other than the altered pelt vest that seemed to beg him to pick it up. "I can't believe this happened." He said miserably.

Hakkaku spared his friend a sympathetic glance. Out of all the scenarios he imagined coming home to, this wasn't even on the list. "Where is she now?"

The monochrome youkai's eyes almost bulged out of his head. Where was she? "Oh Gods, I don't even know! She, she just ran off into the forest alone, it was snowing, and she wasn't covered, Oh Gods-" He babbled hysterically.

Hakkaku squeezed Ginta's shoulder confidently, trying to contain his own anxiety. "It'll be okay, I'm sure she found shelter. We…..we just have to find her, she's smart, she'll be okay." His voice wavered.

'You didn't see her the way I saw her…..' Ginta thought, recalling the hurt and terrified expression on her face as he chased her from the cave. 'You threw her out of the cave.' His eyelids shut tightly, forcing the scene from his mind. It hurt too much to look at. She was out there somewhere lost and alone, or worse……..

"Oi, we'll find her." He reassured, hating to see his comrade so miserable.

They were wolf youkai; of course they would find her. It was how they found her that he was all but hysterical over. He couldn't live with himself if they found her anything but warm and safe. And if she was indeed warm and safe, what then? "We can't take her with us Hakkaku." He said dejectedly. How could he even show himself to her after what he had done?

"Nani? What are you talking about?"

"Did you find a tribe?"

"Hai, it's not as strong as our own clan, though. Their leader was old and lazy and the pack pretty much just ate, slept, and rutted when I got there. We'll definitely have to whip 'em back into shape!" He said proudly.

Ginta smiled sadly. He was happy for his friend, really he was. "We'll find her, we'll make sure she's okay, then we'll leave." He said determinedly.

"Nani? Why?"

He turned on Hakkaku, frustrated, angry and hurt. "Why! You think Nee-san will forgive what I did! You think she'll just forgive and forget and come along quietly!"

"So not only are you going to strangle her, shove her off a mountain, chase her through a blizzard, but you're going to abandon her too?" Hakkaku asked incredulously.

"Abandon her? Hakkaku she never wants to see me aga-"

"That's your mate, Ginta." Hakkaku interrupted gravely. "Don't you get that she cares about you? She never left your side through all this and did nothing but try to be closer to you. You owe it to her to make things right between you two. And I don't think you should call her 'Nee-san' anymore."

Unable to do anything but gape at him, Ginta tried to take it all in. He and Kagome had been together, she was his mate now. Until just then he had never seen their coupling as something other than another way he had hurt her. A mate. He had a mate of his own.


"Ginta, Ginta I- ITTE!" She screamed feeling his fans rip into her neck, right at the juncture between her throat and shoulder.

---end flashback---

He had marked her. She would bear his love bite when he found her. He didn't mean for her to hurt so much.


"Ginta! Stop! Stop It I Love You!"

---end flashback---

She loved him. She loved him. She loved him and he had caused her pain. She had given him the answers to the hole that had been inside him so long, and he threw her away. "How can I ever hope to make things right with her?" Ginta whispered desolately. The Gods had taken a friend and given him a mate instead. And he had thrown her out like garbage.

"We'll figure that out when we find her."

"Iie, I'll go find her. You stay here and just get what we'll need for the trip over." He would make things right with her.

He had to.

This pain had to be something akin to childbirth. Granted not in the same area, but the intensity had to be similar. Kagome cringed, winced, grimaced and made every single ache filled noise and face she could muster as she managed to raise herself into a sitting position and was now working on standing up.

Kaede had left a little while ago, taking Shippou with her. The kit had gotten overly excited and she had insisted on Kagome's rest, so she suggested Shippou come with her to fetch InuYasha and help patch up some of the damaged village huts. Kagome agreed that she was indeed very tired; this was obviously a dramatic exaggeration. She had slept long enough and was now too rested and too sore to sleep, but she wasn't sure how much longer her aching body could have endured Shippou's insatiable appetite for crushing hugs and demands of being held.

Of course now she had to pay the price of being along and get herself her own tea. Grunting and whining, she fought not to shatter the cup in her hands as she rose to her feet gripping desperately at her ribs. Her back and sides hurt horribly, but she was hungry, thirsty and cold, and since there was no food to be found, she would have to settle for the tea that would cure at least two of her symptoms. Kagome sighed a satisfied breath of relief when she finally stood on her own to feet. Breathing hurt a bit, but it wasn't as bad as the pain in her back. Tying the lighter sheet around her chest, she tried to get the motivation to make motions toward the tea filled pot. It looked so filling and pain curing, but it had been torturous enough getting up, she hadn't tried walking yet.

Taking in a deep breath she took one foot hesitantly in front of the other. Hey, it wasn't so bad. She smiled a little at her tiny victory. Suddenly a heavy thud came from just outside the hut, a shadow appearing through the doorway startling her enough to drop the cup. She jolted, forgetting about the shattering pottery. Whipping around towards the entrance felt just as bad as getting up. InuYasha stood in the entranceway, his shadowed silhouette illuminated in an outline of gay light. She let out the air she had been holding and made an exasperated noise seeing that he wasn't a murderous youkai, monster, boogeyman or any other assortment of childish fears come alive to get her. "InuYasha! You scared me half to death! Where have you been? Kaede and Shippou went to look for you."

She watched him step inside, hesitantly walking towards her. He seemed different to her somehow, she couldn't put her finger on it, he appeared taller, more looming, more intimidating for some reason. He said nothing to her and she observed him advancing on her, wary of him for the first time since they met. She felt nervous and helpless, like a lamb with a broken leg. She could only imagine how she looked, standing there weakly, slightly hunched over, clutching her ribs like a bleeding wound. It was then that Kagome noticed his face, it was the reason he looked so different to her in this light. He resembled a dog readying itself to pounce on an intruder. "InuYasha?" She echoed cautiously when he was right at her feet.

How dare she act so fucking innocent! Right then he wanted to hit her more than he ever had. He was angry and hurting, and he wanted her to hurt too. Stupid bitch. Kissing him, tempting him with her false adoration, all the while letting that fleabag lead her away. All this time he was being concerned for her and she was fucking someone else. His fingers felt itchy, aching to teach her a lesson, punish her for her infidelity. He was the one who protected her all this time, the one who looked out for her, the one who gave up being a full youkai for her! Bitch!

Kagome eyed him carefully, put off by the hanyou's silent air of aggressiveness. If he didn't want to talk perhaps it was best to simply leave him alone to glare at her until he was ready to tell her exactly what had him in a hissy fit. Glancing down at the shattered cup, she mentally apologized to Kaede for dropping it. Turning, she approached the teapot hoping Kaede would have saved some spare cups around there. She gasped, suddenly feeling her arm snatched in a firm, taloned grip and screamed as she was abruptly swung around and shoved against the nearest wall to her side. A painful grunt broke through when her already tender spine hit the wood and InuYasha clutched her upper arms pressing her harder into the unyielding barrier. "Baka yaro! Have you lost your mind?" She cried, her teeth gritting at the torture running up and down her back and throughout her sides.

"Was he good!" He spat angrily getting in her face, his grip on her arms tightening with his increasing temper.

"What are you talking about! Let me go, now!" She glowered at him.

InuYasha shook her hard, her head and entire backside of her body hitting the wall with a heavy 'thud!' "I'm not stupid! Don't play the fucking victim! I heard everything between you and the babaa!" He snarled furiously.

Her face blanched and Kagome felt her stomach drop into her feet. She had never wanted him to know, she never wanted anyone to know. "InuYasha.." She started.

He growled threateningly at her, giving her another whiplashing shake against the wall. "Don't talk to me like that! Don't talk to me like I'm some pup too stupid to understand what happened!" He barked.

"I'm not!" She protested.

"I'm not dumb! You fucked him! I know it, I heard you say it! Don't try to deny it!" His voice rose with each sentence as if his own words were angering him even further.

"I won't!" Kagome hissed. "You have no right to treat me like this! How many times have you run off to Kikyou and I stayed silent because I only wanted you to be happy! What happened last night had nothing to do with you!" She had to use her Kikyou card, it was her only defense against him and hopefully it would take the wind right out of his sails.

"Stop changing the subject!" He enunciated this with another shove against the already unrelenting wood at her back, she hissed at the piercing ache stabbing into her wounded spine. "You kissed me-!"

"And you kissed her, there's no difference!" She interrupted.

"There's every difference! I didn't FUCK her!" He roared in her face. "Was this your way of 'fulfilling your obligation' to the wimpy wolf? By fucking his bitch of a lackey! You didn't even answer my question! Was he good!"

"STOP IT!" She shouted.

"Look!" He barked, spying the twin bite marks already scabbed over on her neck. "He's all over you, Kagome!" He snarled his hands moving up, his talons flexing on her shoulders. "He's all, fucking, OVER you!" InuYasha hated it, he could smell the wolf on every part of her, she hadn't yet bathed and he could smell him between her legs as well as if he were still there.

Kagome cried out as he began ripping at her blanket, she clutched it to her tight but the tug-o-war only lasted all but a second, InuYasha wringing it from her body with ease. Kicking and swinging at him heatedly, she yelped in pain when he shoved himself against her making her hit the wall one last time. "STOP!" She shrieked but his ears only flatted to his head, ignoring her angry cries.

He couldn't stand it! The son of a bitch was everywhere on her, the scent driving him insane! No snow was there to dampen it anymore and now it flared at him like a bonfire. He wanted to hurt her, punish her for turning her back on him. He wasn't going to let the little he-bitch tear them apart! He hated that Ginta had known a side of Kagome that he hadn't, but he was going to fix that now. His human side felt abandoned and betrayed, and wanted her to know how badly she had hurt him. Yet the darker part of him, the one that whispered primal things from the deepest part of his being, told him this would make her stay with him. Whether she liked it or not she would be connected with him and have no choice but to remain with the stronger male. They would mate and Kagome would never be able to erase that, she would stay and he would find Ginta and rip his sorry excuse for competition apart. That primordial part of him refused to realize that Kagome was human, not youkai, and would follow her heart, not instincts.

Kagome grappled with him the best she could with him now pinning her arms, at the elbows, to the wall. She kicked and screamed at him to leave her alone but he might as well have been deaf for all the benefit it did. She thrashed about wildly when she felt him nip dangerously at her collarbone before moving further down her body, licking and biting possessively at anything he felt needed staking. She yipped involuntarily at the feel of his fang roughly tracing her nipple. No! No, this was not what she wanted! What was wrong with him! Her mind screamed. 'I hurt him………didn't I?' The thought came silenced and unexpected. It quieted all the other whirling adrenalin-fueled emotions and panicked thoughts in her mind. She slowly stopped struggling. 'He's hurt, just like you….' The empathetic side of her hushed. Her skin gradually fell numb to his rough lips and heated bites. "InuYasha, don't do this. You won't be able to forgive yourself if you do, and I don't know if I will either."

She winced at a particular sharp nip he delivered to the skin around her belly button. She wanted to hurt Ginta, cause him the pain he made her feel, and she knew InuYasha was doing the same. "I love you, you're my friend."

He growled angrily shoving her heavily against the wall again. "Shut up!"

Kagome shook her head sadly her misty eyes gazing down at him with regret. "You're my friend, InuYasha. That's it." Her voice was sorrowful and tinged with remorse.

"I said be quiet!" He snarled, but he had stopped further advances on her tender flesh.

Her voice cracked as she continued. "Ginta and I made love-"

" URUSAI!" He roared yanking his hands from her arms and smashing them against his ears. He didn't want to hear her refer to what she and the wolf did as 'love.'

He could hear her; she knew you couldn't just block youkai hearing that easily. "-but he" Kagome stopped to gather herself, hold back the tears and keep her voice in check. "…he said it was a mistake. Maybe he was right. And he did all he could to get me away from him." She could still see Ginta's face staring at her as though she were the epitome of all his sins. And he had thrown her away just as such. "I never wanted to hurt you. You know how much I care about you. But our time for love was over a long time ago, InuYasha. I just don't think we wanted to accept it. " And with that, she watched him crumble.

The violent anger fell to his feet and drained from his body. A different kind of anger replaced it. An anger he could do nothing about, it was the kind one feels when defeated, completely and utterly defeated. InuYasha's hands dropped from his head as he kneeled there, he stared at the skin on her waist not knowing what else to do and feeling helpless to do anything at all. She was gone from him, for real this time.

Kagome didn't tense when his arms suddenly darted out to loop around her waist, his head burying itself in her stomach. Gently sliding her fingers through his tousled white mane, she cradled his head to her with maternal ease. Loving InuYasha hadn't been a lie. She did, wholly and truly. But she was not the same Kagome that followed him adoringly, that held her heart on her sleeve for him to do with what he wished, that still believed everything would turn out right in the end. She had changed, just like they all had. She went from a girl swooning at romance novels, butterflies, puppies, and rainbows, and grown into a woman wise to the world's shades of black, white, and gray. Romance novels were fiction, most butterflies died 16 days after coming out of the cocoon, puppies chewed shoes and urinated on rugs, and rainbows never lasted. InuYasha's arms squeezed her tight, and she ignored the pain in her back, for him.

His muscles were tense and refused to relax into her tender embrace. Maybe if he stayed still enough the world would too and they would be like this forever. Of course he wasn't stupid enough to actually believe that. This wound inside him, it was deep and bled profusely. How could their time be over? It hadn't even begun. The clock had stopped somewhere along the line without him knowing. If a demon threatened him he would kill it, if Sesshoumaru tried to take Tetsusaiga then he would beat him, if Shippou was pestering him then he would bat him away, but how could he defeat this? How could he beat an enemy he couldn't fight? Clenching his teeth, InuYasha pressed closer to her, drawing her tighter to him. How could he stop the woman from going away from him if his heart wouldn't let him draw a hand against her? He was lost and confused in a world where his strength meant absolutely nothing.

Kagome's eyes were fixed on the top of his head, InuYasha's silvery hair gleaming back at her. Her face didn't contort into sobbing, but she let the tears falling quietly down her face, sinking into the white locks below her. She cried for him, she cried for her. But most of all she cried for all the things lost to them now.

He traveled a greater distance in less time by simply leaping over the snow rather than running through it. Ginta continued to bound from one spot to the next, leaving footprints and skidding indents in the powdery flakes behind. He couldn't help the joy and relief flowing through him when he found that she was alive and okay. Body scents needed to be traced fast if you wanted to track something or someone because the trail faded quickly, but hormones lasted longer and were much stronger, making them easier to pick up and follow. He picked up Kagome's scent quicker than he thought he would have due to the blizzard last night, but the smell was so saturated with adrenal hormones that, while a little stale, it had lasted through the storm.

As he continued to follow the scent, it didn't take long for him to figure out exactly where she was headed. He found it hard to believe that she could find her way through such a snowstorm, but the direction roughly lead to InuYasha's forest. If she had gotten far, there was no way the hanyou or the Kit that so often accompanied them could miss her.

Spirits high and feeling energized, he reached the clearing where the familiar hut lay father than he had estimated. Ginta hurdled over the remaining trees and landed only a little ways away from the home where he had first come to fetch her. The smell was stronger around this area, as well as that of InuYasha's. Unfortunately, snow covered the cozy hut along with the rest of the land, making her scent level across the clearing, so he couldn't be sure whether she was inside or had recently left. Ginta leaped towards the little home, haphazardly hopping onto the roof as he felt the wind pick up. If he was lucky, the breeze would pass the smell over him and he could tell which direction it was coming the strongest from.

He landed onto the shingles with a heavy 'thump!' peeking down, his nose twitched and sniffed when the recognizable scent rose from beneath him. Pacing around the roof he found himself inspecting another odor he had caught onto. It was obvious she wasn't alone, and it smelled like InuYasha. Ginta's brow furrowed in confusion, the hanyou's scent was all of the sudden getting rapidly stronger but it didn't seem to be coming from underneath him anymore.

Ginta didn't have time to think as something solid slammed unrelentingly into his back.

She wasn't really sleeping, he realized; it was more of a light doze, not heavy and easily awakened. InuYasha, though, lay wide awake, his head now pillowed in her lap. Kagome had slid down the wall about an hour ago and continued to run her fingers soothingly through his hair as he adjusted his position onto his side. When her hand had stopped only a few moments ago he figured she had fallen asleep, but she was still upright and her breathing was too shallow for someone sleeping. He wanted her to never wake up so that they could stay like this. If she didn't wake up then they both could just pretend this all never happened.

Sighing, he reluctantly rose up and away from his comfortable place. Yep, she was definitely dozing. Her chin rested against her chest and her hair swayed gracelessly into her face. InuYasha took the blanket that was now pooled at her waist and carefully laid it across her shoulders, tucking her in and hiding her modesty. He honestly didn't know where they went from here. Things were new and confusing, the dynamic of their entire relationship had shifted and now he had no idea where they were, what was going on, or how to fix it.

A loud 'thump!' from above tore him from his thoughts and his head darted up just in time to see the ceiling shudder with the unexpected addition of new weight. He frowned, staring up suspiciously. Getting to his feet he took one last look at the raven-haired miko before stepping outside to investigate. The icy frost crunched beneath his bare feet as he moved into the open away from the hut. Turning back he lifted his amber gaze to the snow and ice ridden roof.

Almost immediately all his rage and fury came flooding back ten fold. The son of a bitch was more of an idiot than he had thought to come back here. The intensity of his hatred bore him down, he was frozen, too overwhelmed to move. Ginta just walked about on the hut as if he owned it and with every step, InuYasha found something new to hate about the other male that he barely even knew. It was like he was no longer in control of his body, the next thing he knew he was abruptly lunging at the wolf with the force of a run away freight train. He felt the wind leave his opponents lungs as he smashed the brunt of his shoulder into him, body slamming into Ginta's back. His eyes followed the youkai, watching, satisfied to see his body careen through the air.

Ginta was quick, though, managing to get his bearings back in time to twist and flip around, landing safely on his feet, if not a little stunned. He shook his head free of the vertigo-induced muck, but the hanyou gave him no time to counter attack or even set up a defense. InuYasha was on him in an instant, snapping, swiping and lashing out madly. Ginta jumped, ducked, zigged, zagged and dodged, evading most of the blows. He gasped, wincing when the other male's talons caught his side, digging in and cutting through the lean muscle there. "Matte!" He panted. "Chotto matte! I need to speak with Kagome!" He huffed desperately, trying to maneuver and speak at the same time.

"Don't even fucking breath her name, you bastard!" InuYasha spat viciously.

The two-toned wolf made a startled noise, dropping his head at the last second before the hanyou could shred it from his shoulders. He couldn't keep this up! He couldn't go out like this, he had to get to the hut, he had to speak with Kagome before this mutt tore him apart! Ginta skidded to the right, eluding another lunge before his eyes caught a head of short, jet black hair playing gently in the wind, contrasting against the pale whiteness around it. 'Kagome….' For a moment, time stop. She was there, standing back by the little home, clutching a blanket around her shoulders, watching them. Just watching them.

Apparently the longer time stood still, the faster it moved afterwards to catch up. Ginta wheezed painfully as the wind was knocked straight from his lungs, the hanyou thrusting his weight into the youkai's stomach, tackling him to the ground and into the snow. He gasped for air, mounds of pure white flakes surrounding him, his breath coming out in smoky puffs. He felt InuYasha's breath against his ear, whispering something murderous, drawing his arm back ready to deliver the final blow. Remembering blankets, fleshy skin, and ink colored hair, Ginta turned his head to his side, the only part of his body he could move under his opponent's weight.

She still stood there, staring as razored fingers rose to come down and rip his throat from his neck. Is this what she wanted? Had she told InuYasha? Had she told him what he had done in hopes of revenge? He couldn't breath, and this time it had nothing to do with his attacker. If this was the only way to set things right with her……………..

It was the voices outside that were the first to jolt her from her light nap. Her eyes instinctually flickered about the room for InuYasha but found nothing. The yelling and familiar masculine tones came again. Kagome whined, slowly getting to her feet, her ribs and back still quite adamant about making her existence a living hell. Quickly tying the sheet around her chest, she fetched the heavier comforter to shrug around her. Walking hesitantly outside, she wasn't keen on freezing her bare feet in the frost covered ground and definitely didn't intend to stay long. She would see what the commotion was; tell them to be quiet, and go back inside. Kagome shuddered, stepping around the hut to the side to peer out into the clearing behind it.

"Matte! Chotto matte! I need to speak with Kagome!"

She stilled in her tracks at the voice and her heart stopped beating. Staring across the desert of snow and ice she saw InuYasha ferociously going at Ginta, constantly on him, giving no time for protection or retaliation.

"Don't even fucking breath her name, you bastard!"

Her lungs wouldn't give her air and her body stubborn body stood firmly in place. She couldn't think, couldn't act, couldn't understand what exactly it was that she was doing. Observing the scene in front of her was like witnessing a car wreck. It was horrifying but left you completely unable to look away. Her eyes followed them as Ginta twisted and lunged to the side. And he saw her. She looked right past the man that wanted him dead, past the yards of ice and snow, and looked right at her. She watched him freeze, seemingly struck with the same immobility as she. He looked at her. Looked right into her, as it were. And then he was on the ground. He was thrust into the ground with InuYasha shoving his knee into his chest.

Kagome traced up the haori-covered arm to the red stained claws that would end his life. Her lover that didn't want her was going to be killed by her friend that did. She wasn't positive but there had to be some literary term that defined this moment. Why did she feel so numb? Why couldn't she move? Why couldn't she speak! 'Because you're enjoying this….' No, no she didn't want anybody killed. This wasn't what she wanted! Yet in the murky recesses of her mind she knew it was true. It was why she couldn't move. It was why she couldn't stop it. She wanted him to see her let this happen. It was the only way to take it all back. If she sacrificed him this way then how could she have ever really truly loved him? And he would know it too. She could take back all her feelings and finally he would be the fool.

Ginta maneuvered his head in her direction. Even as he was about to have that same head rendered from his shoulders, he turned and looked at her. There were no accusations in his eyes, no blame, no anger. There was only shame, grief, acceptance and something else, something else that had come too late to analyze. 'Ginta……..' He had hurt her. The damage he had done was irreparable. But he was still Ginta. He was still the gentle, insecure, apprehensive boy she had stayed with. Had wanted to stay with. He was also the monster that had shoved her off a mountain, smashed her into the ground, squeezed the breath from her windpipe. He was the boy and monster she loved. As long as that was true she would always be his fool.

Her body appeared to have made up its mind and snapped out of its immobility as InuYasha's hand descended into the wolf's throat. "INUYASHA, OSUWARI!" She screamed dashing towards the struggling pair, forgetting that the rosaries were gone, as the safe word, over the years, had become as natural an involuntary defense as flinching.

InuYasha's froze, bracing himself for an impact that he had forgotten would never come as well. He too, had learned to adapt to the dreaded 'Osuwari', and even now without any beads to bring him to the ground his body still knew to ready itself for being subdued.

The hanyou's pause gave her just enough time to come sprinting over to them, flinging herself at InuYasha and clinging to the raised arm. "Leave him be, onegai." She whispered, smashing her eyes shut as if in pain. She didn't want to see the way she knew they were looking at her; she didn't want to see the way she knew Ginta was looking at her. She was so weak.

"Nani!" He cried outraged. InuYasha jerked himself away from the prone wolf and turned on Kagome, unsympathetic to the regret in her eyes. "You come to us half frozen to death because of this bastard and you want me to let him go!" He barked angrily. How could she? How could she still care about this asshole when he was the one trying to protect her?

Kagome made sure her back was to the other male, made sure she was between him and InuYasha as she felt him climb to his feet behind her. "Onegai, InuYasha." She pleaded quietly, unable to look him in the face. She could hear the InuYasha growling furiously at her but was glad he had nothing else to say. "Ginta, just leave." She ordered out harshly, keeping her back to him, not wanting him to see the weakness in her face. She had to be strong now; this was her future, her life.

Ginta stared mournfully into the tousled onyx hair in front of him. No! He couldn't give up now. He had a mate now, he had things to tell her. He had to tell her how sorry he was, how he was willing to spend the rest of his eternity making it up to her. Swallowed the anxious lump in his throat, he placed a nervous, beseeching hand on her shoulder. "Onegai Kagome, I need to-"

"Don't fucking touch her!" InuYasha howled practically lunging himself over Kagome's shoulder, intent on ripping the wolf a new face.

She jerked back at the sudden attack, her hand snapping up of it own accord, firmly cuffing the hanyou across the face. It was as though she had an out of body experience, her spirit left her physical being long enough to see her hand come down with a force that surprised even herself, afterwards coming back to awaken her to the sight of InuYasha staring at her in total bewilderment. And just like that, he was still. Kagome could say nothing, could do nothing with him stared at her, Ginta and the whole world were forgotten in his eyes. A redness spread across his cheek, contrasting with the normally healthy skin found there. Her brain promptly refused to function and her mouth opened and closed, looking for something to say but not knowing the words.

This was it. It wasn't her leaving, it wasn't her not visiting, it wasn't even her sleeping with Ginta, it was this that decisively tore them apart. With a slap she had taken the other youkai's side, had proven that, no matter what else went on between her and InuYasha, Ginta would always come first somewhere in her mind. The bastard had hurt her and she still, if not subconsciously, defended him. For that one split second, something in her had forsaken InuYasha and their relationship for Ginta, just for that split second. But it was enough. It was enough to change everything.

Kagome stared after the back of what was once her greatest friend and greatest love. She stood there long after InuYasha had disappeared in his forest, gone from her. He would never forgive her, he couldn't forgive because she knew he wouldn't be able to forget that one instant she turned her back on him. That one instant where she put his enemy above him. A shiver ran up her spin and she shook with angry tears. She had sacrificed her best friend, the one who had always been there for her, and for what! A man who tried to kill her! She felt the clawed hand at her shoulder again and heard him murmur her name.

Promptly rounding on him Kagome brought her fist firmly into his jaw. "Why! Why are you here! Do you have any idea what you've done! InuYasha is gone! My family is gone! Everything's gone, Ginta! You take everything!" She screamed pounding fiercely at his chest and shoulders.

Ginta bore her barrage until she began to attack the wound at his side; he winced at new tearing of more muscles and vessels. "Kagome, matte, I need to talk to you-"

"What could you possibly have to say to me after this!" She shouted, barreling into him, knocking them both heavily to the powdery floor.

The minute he landed in the snow, Ginta rolled away from her, keeping a safe distance before attempting to speak to her again. Leaning in worriedly when she cried out with undue pain he watched her try to rise to her feet but only making it to her knees, grabbing tearfully at her ribs. Ginta teetered on his hands trying to see where she was hurt, but she only clutched her sheet tighter around her, glaring at him spitefully. "Kagome, Kagome gomen ne. I'm sorry." He pleaded.

Kagome stared into his face; this was what she was afraid of. His eyes were pulling her to him again, the sorrow he held there, all for her. And she was terrified of relenting. "What are you doing here, Ginta?" She asked shaking her head dejectedly. "What do you want?" She spat, but the anger was more directed to herself.

He gazed at her, willing the Gods to give him the words. He needed to do this, he needed to make her okay. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry for everything." He muttered miserably. And he was, ever since she came into his life it was as though he could do nothing right. It seemed that everyone else in the world knew how to take better care of her than he did.

Misty eyes observed him with wet anger. Had this only happened two days ago, she would have been the happiest girl from the future there ever was. Now all she could do was hate herself for believing him. For believing that he was, indeed, sorry for everything he had done and didn't do.

When she didn't say anything he had no choice but to continue. "I……I want to take you with me, Kagome." He said, his eyes falling to her chin when he lost the strength to look her in the face. "I wish…." Gods there were so many things he wished, but he knew this was the greatest of all. "I wish things were different, had been different." He wanted to stop when she began to cry, when she began to sniffle, but he couldn't turn away from the watery pools of gray that were fixed on him. Gulping down the unease settling itself at the back of his mouth, he couldn't stop himself from resuming. "I wish we had gotten to know each other better, before this all happened. I wish my pack was still here so I could at least give you a family for the one you gave up." He gave a dry, nostalgic, chuckle at the thought of her trying to fit in with his family and friends. "I..I wish Kouga were still alive." His friend, his leader, he would know what to do; he would know how to make this better. But he wasn't here, he was dead, and it was something Ginta was beginning to know how to live with. "I wish….I wish things had gone better, in the cave, that night. I wish I had been gentler. I wish," he laughed at the irony. "…that I had known what I was doing."

As he finished, she was crying quietly. He wasn't even doing anything and yet she still felt so powerless against him. "Ginta, we can't just undo everything, we can't simply go back." She choked on the words, because that was what this had all been about, hadn't it? Wanting to turn back a clock you couldn't touch. Wanting to return to a life long since gone, long since changed.

Ginta smiled sadly at that. "I don't want to. I want to go forward. We can't change the past………and I don't want to." Kagome looked up at him and he had a sudden attack of shyness. "If anything did happen, if anything was different, then we wouldn't be here. I wouldn't be here. I wouldn't have a mate. I wouldn't have a mate to promise to take care of, to promise happiness to, and to beg to come back with me because now I don't know what to do without her."

Kagome couldn't tear herself away from him. She was his mate? What was a mate? She remembered, the first day she met Kouga he had said that wolves mated for life. Was that their version of a wife? Shaking her head, she wondered why was she even thinking these things! How could they hope to build a relationship from this? The foundation for anything between them was already born crooked but was now cracked and crumbled at their feet. How could they manage get beyond this? Kagome looked at him, at his eyes full of hope and anxiety. What was wrong with them? Sometimes she thought that the Gods were just playing mix and match with their lives, that not even they knew what they were doing but rather just going through the motions as well. She wondered if they made mistakes too. If perhaps, she and Ginta were one of them. The Gods had put them together like Lincoln-logs, building a toy home, putting this here and that there, experimenting to see what would make the house stand. And they had crashed and burned, and were now nothing more than a house of ash.

Wiping the wetness from her eyes, Kagome sighed defeatedly, giving a watery laugh. Now they were in love. When there was nothing left to return to, they were in love. But what else did they really need? He couldn't promise her perfection, nothing was perfect, especially not them. But he was promising his true and utter devotion. When there was nothing left, where else did they have to go? What they had was flawed, faulted, and painful; but it was real, and strong.

Ginta grew worried and uneasy when she didn't say anything. When she sat there, in the cold, like she had no idea what she was doing. But he made a surprised noise when she threw herself at him, making him jolt as she wrapped her bare arms around him, clothed in nothing but her paper-thin sheet. Getting over the initial shock, Ginta squeezed her to him, resting his chin happily on the top of her head. "Oi, your hair's growing back." He noticed it seemed a bit longer than it was.

"Is it?" She laughed at his random statements. Kagome supposed she could mark off 'good timing' from his list of better qualities.

"Hai." He affirmed, tugging at the ends of the locks when she ducked her head deeper under his chin.

They were both lost, and still healing from their separate wounds. And they had no stable foundation from which to build a normal relationship. But things could grow in the strangest of places. Her hair would be long again someday, and maybe the little acorn she planted would still grow into the tree she hoped for. If they could get beyond this then maybe what they had was even stronger than the rickety foundation it was born to. And maybe, just maybe, something could be built on their house of ash.

(Sighs dreamily) its finally finite. Did you guys like the ending? I'm pretty happy with it. I finally have my first fully completed story! Ha! U fuckers! I want to thank all the ppl that reviewed and enjoyed this fic. I hope I did right by you guys. It would definitely be nice for all the ppl who read and never reviewed to finally do so since its the end and all…………………..ya kno. Ok n.e.ways I promised I would tell u guys about the continuations and I'll get right to that so I can let u decide whether or not u want them. If u don't then that's perfectly okay w me, less I have 2 write. Like I said, I pretty much have 'em all planned out but if u guys would rather leave this here then that's good 2 because again, less 2 write and less I have 2 bother my poor beta.


1st continuation:

Ophelia's Feathers: Don't worry about the weird name; it's a weird combination of 2 names I was thinking of. Okay, basically this fic follows just about where Kagome and Ginta left off. Kagome needs to say goodbye to Sango, Miroku, and Shippou, before they leave with Hakkaku, and Kagome gets Miroku to marry them. It's a sweet little scene, don't expect the whole tuxedo, fancy dress up, friends and family, normal wedding, it's pretty much all they can put together with what they have but it is cute. And yes Sango and Miroku make a surprise appearance. I'm not gonna go into it because that's fic territory. So this story follows their lives into the new tribe they react to Kagome. It even has Kagome's pregnancy and their children in it, don't worry, Kagome didn't get pregnant in "Show Me How it Ends", all that is strictly for the other fic. I really think you'll like this story. "Show Me How It Ends" was pretty much Ginta and Kagome developing into a weird unorthodox and unexpected relationship, but with "Ophelia's Feathers" we get to see what happens when Kagome tries to adapt to pack like and even how they react to their hanyou children. Even Kouga makes a live appearance! I guess u'll just have 2 read it 2 understand. Again, I genuinely think u'll enjoy this story. But again, if u think we should end it here, then hey, less writing and bitching from non con haters for me. Woop woop.

2nd continuation:

Where the Willow's Never Weep: Yes I kno this fic has the same title as this chapter, but that was basically because this story was the one that was supposed to go after "Show Me How It Ends." But I knew that this fic was too great a leap from SMHIE and 2 much would have been left unexplained. There for I took the extra time to rough draft and develop "Ophelia's Feathers." Which strangely now ended up being the fic I was more intent on doing than this one. WWNW is a sequel to OF. I can't explain much because there's more to give away in this one. I pretty much revolves around Ginta and Kagome's oldest son but Kagome and Ginta r still very much part of the main character plot. Kagome more than Ginta in this one, n.e.way. it traces Kagome and Ginta's kids when the first-born is about Kagome's age. I don't think this is a story where u can predict anything and it's definitely not what you'll be expecting. Big changes have happened. This is the fic where InuYasha returns and plays a larger part. Again I can't really tell u guys a lot about it because there r so many changes and to tell more I would have to give something away that I don't want 2.

Okay, so tell me which sequel u want, if u want one, or if u want both, or if you want none. U'r feedback is direly needed, so if u have never reviewed then now would b a good time, if not just to give me u'r answer.