Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha or any of the characters that Rumiko Takahashi has created for us to enjoy.

( " "talking, italics thinking )



Kagome heaved a sigh of frustration and kicked at a rock on the path. He was doing it again! She looked up from staring at the path and began to glare at Inuyasha's back as he walked ahead of her. A good twenty feet ahead of her. She unsuccessfully tried to suppress a growl of anger.

It seemed to her that every month or so, Inuyasha would, for some unknown reason of his own, suddenly start avoiding her. Completely. One day he was acting perfectly normal and friendly (or at least as friendly as Inuyasha could be) and the next he wouldn't come near her at all. And Kagome couldn't for the life of her figure out why. Every time she asked him about it, if she could get close enough to speak to him without having to shout, he would give her some pathetic excuse about her 'imagining' things, and then escape. She soon discovered that he was very adept at escaping, which was surprising, since he never ever tried to escape during battle, no matter how poor the odds of victory. She suspected it was just a male quirk. And unfortunately for her, Inuyasha had male quirks galore.

Kagome sighed again, this time more out of confusion than anger. She knew from past experience that his strange behaviour of his never lasted more than a couple days, and then Inuyasha would be back to normal as if nothing had ever happened. But why?

Men! She thought in exasperation.

Inuyasha, Kagome, Shippo, Sango, and Miroku had been collecting shards of the sacred shikon no tama for well over a year now. While Naraku's power continued to grow, Kagome and the others continued to search for him and shards of the jewel. But there weren't many shards left, and they were becoming increasingly difficult to find. They were not having much more luck with finding Naraku either. He had proven himself many times over to be a master of deception, disguise, and evasion.

Although Inuyasha was still determined to gain his revenge for himself and Kikyo by killing Naraku, some of his fervor had dissipated after Kikyo's death. Her second death, actually, Kagome thought, with a twinge of bitterness towards the priestess who had tried more than once to steal her soul and kill Inuyasha.

At the thought of the half-demon, Kagome resumed her angry scrutiny of Inuyasha's distant back.

Naraku, fearing his own growing weakness for Kikyo as well as her growing power, had finally succeeded in killing the undead priestess. When Kagura had gloatingly told this to Inuyasha in one of their frequent battles, the half-demon's reaction had been frightening and bizarre. He had stopped dead in his tracks, staring at Kagura, his eyes narrowed and focused, as though trying to divine the truth from the sorceress' mind. And then he had exploded. He had attacked her relentlessly in anguished fury, and the demon had barely escaped with her life. Afterwards, Inuyasha had gone and, as he is prone to do when upset, sat by himself in a tree, pondering the death of his first love.

When Inuyasha had returned the next morning, he had seemed subdued and quiet, but other than that, perfectly normal, and that had worried Kagome to no end. And still did. He had still been in love with the woman when Naraku had killed her, Kagome was sure of it, yet Inuyasha hadn't seemed to mourn her death at all.

Kagome watched the half-demon walk. His determined stride was purposeful, yet smooth, and he moved with the unconscious grace of a predator. Kagome's favorite pastime while they traveled was simply watching Inuyasha move. It entranced her.

Kagome shook her head. What am I thinking? I'm supposed to be mad at him, not admiring him!

Whatever the reason for his past behaviour, Kagome wasn't interested in it at the moment. What she wanted to know was the reason for his current behaviour, and she was determined to find out.