Kagome came back into the hut, still feeling chilly. She let the screen fall over the doorway, and went to Inuyasha's side. Miroku and Sango were still talking softly outside, with Shippo occasionally chiming in. Kirara was dozing on one of the straw bales, mewing softly when Kagome came in.
"Inuyasha?" Kagome said softly.
But the half-demon just settled deeper in the straw, and sighed deeply.
Then Kagome saw a streak of blood on the bedding, and started. His hand, she thought. I forgot to bandage his hand, where he caught Naku's sword. She quickly gathered the gauze bandages and roll of tape. Careful not to wake Inuyasha, she took his hand and turned it over. The gash in his palm had stopped bleeding, but Kagome carefully cleaned and bandaged it.
Inuyasha slept through the whole thing, only stirring as Kagome wiped the blood from his wound. The scratches on his face, neck and arms hadn't healed yet, although Kagome knew they would be gone by sunup. If he didn't push himself, the wound in his stomach might be gone in a few days. If only Naku would stay away long enough for him to heal.
Kagome hesitated for a moment, then gently stroked Inuyasha's white hair away from his face. He stirred, and for a moment Kagome thought she had woken him. But then a faint smile crossed his face, as if he were dreaming of something pleasant. I don't remember him ever doing that before, Kagome thought.
Tentatively, she kept smoothing his hair and ears, and watching that faint smile flicker on and off his scratched face. He looked so... young, so peaceful when he slept like this. I wish I could take him through the well, so he'd be safe, Kagome thought. But he'd never run away from a fight, even when he's so badly injured. I don't think he'd agree to go.
She sighed. I'm so glad he figured out that note was a fake, she thought. I just... I couldn't control myself. It was like Naku was making my hand work all by itself. If Inuyasha had thought the note was real, I... I don't know what I would have done.
She clutched his wounded hand tighter.
"Kagome?" Sango peered inside. "How's Inuyasha?"
"He's still sleeping," Kagome said softly. "Kirara?"
The fire cat raised her head and mewed quizzically.
"Would you stay near Inuyasha and watch him while he sleeps?" Kagome asked. "I don't want Naku to have a chance to slip in." Kirara mewed again, and scampered over to Inuyasha's makeshift bed. She pawed around in the straw, and made herself a little warm nest in the hollow of his arm.
"A wise precaution." Miroku stepped inside and stretched wearily. "I think I'll sleep in front of the doorway, just to be extra safe."
"Y-you don't think Naku will attack at night, do you?" Shippo asked nervously.
"He could," Miroku said, laying out a thin blanket in front of the doorway. "But I don't think he will tonight. Though Inuyasha is at his most vulnerable now, Naku knows that we will be most on our guard tonight."
Sango grimly laid out her weapons beside her bedding, before closing her eyes. Kagome reluctantly went to sleep beside her, with a nervous, wide-awake Shippo nestled between them. Before closing her eyes, Kagome looked at the slumbering half-demon a few feet away. And she reached up to touch Inuyasha's hand for a moment. Sleep well, she thought.
Miroku stayed awake long before everyone -- except Shippo -- had fallen asleep. Then the monk flexed his cursed hand, and slowly loosened the beads. He preferred not to unleash the wind tunnel in cramped quarters, but if Naku did show up, he might have to do just that.
And what was more, Naku might be accompanied by Kagura and the venomous wasps. But Miroku didn't plan to hold back if Naku returned. When the mysterious half-demon returned... if he tried to kill Inuyasha and kidnap Kagome during the night, Miroku would suck him into oblivion, even if it meant taking in a few of those wasps.
TO BE CONTINUED