An Inuyasha fanfiction by Kellen

Rating: PG – 13

Disclaimer: Inuyasha, Kirara and all other recognizable characters are intellectual property of Rumiko Takahashi. I use the characters not for profit, but for my own amusement.

Summary: Part Three of three. When the moonless night comes 'round again, Kirara follows Inuyasha into the forest, curious about the transformation he goes through. What they find is more than either wanted. A simple adventure written in the POV of the series most neglected character: Kirara.

Author's Note: This is written in first person Kirara's POV, which I thought would be an interesting challenge. I have never written anything beyond a drabble (or a journal entry!) in first person, so I decided to challenge myself with this. I hope I did the characters justice. Please remember this is only one interpretation of Kirara. I believe she is an intelligent, sentient creature; I have a discussion with a friend following the first movie to thank for that point of view. Since it is in first person, you'll notice it's not omniscient; in other words, Kirara is the only 'person' whom we hear thoughts from. Please keep that in mind when reviewing; it is intentional. This is the last part of the story.

Part Three

I found him soon enough -- I had never really lost him -- and alighted next to his prone body. He lay amidst pieces of splintered wood, tucked against a fallen log. For a moment I was worried, even though I could hear his racing heart. Then it occurred to me: I couldn't hear his breathing, nor see his chest rise. Worried and confused - What had happened with the hawk? - I raised one paw and rested it gently against his chest, worried. When he batted weakly at my paw, I mewled.

This not breathing worried me. Humans breathed. I breathed.

The half-demon-turned-human did not.

I pressed against his chest, careful of my claws. My ears were flat against my head and I couldn't quite stifle the worried mewling. He clawed at my paw, blunt human nails not even penetrating the fur. Suddenly he gasped, a short ragged sound.

"Off." He batted my paw again and I lifted it. He rolled away from me, coming up onto his hands and knees and breathing as deeply as he was able.

I hunkered down next to him and looked into his face. It was pinched with pain, his eyes closed and mouth twisted. I don't remember it, but I must have made a sound. He looked at me and spoke. "Just got the wind knocked outta me."

I snorted; I could smell blood, could feel the pain and fear radiating from him, could hear bones grate together as he moved. I stood up and nudged him gently with my shoulder. I knew making him move was not the best idea, but leaving him in the midst of warring demons was infinitely worse.

He didn't move. He only stared at me with a completely blank look upon his face. Had I been human, I might have sighed. As it was, I just looked blankly back at him. Finally he said something. "If you're trying to get me to move, cat, you're going to have to help."

Oh. There were only a select few times in my long life that I felt stupid. This was one of them. Had I not just thought about the blood and grating bones? I lowered my head, trying to display my chagrin, and knelt next to him. With a very pained grunt, he pulled himself onto my back and clutched my ruff like it was a lifeline.

Perhaps it was.

I stood up, staying still for a few moments. Maybe he thought it was to give him time to adjust. Whatever he thought, it didn't matter; I was trying to find the demons. Still between us and camp.

How I hoped my mistress had awoken!

The human on my back looked in that direction. "I hope they've at least woke up," he muttered.

I glanced at him, no longer particularly surprised. He'd done it again. It had to be a human trick.

I started away from the battle, but his hands tightened in my fur and pulled back. I snorted. I did not like being treated like a mindless horse. "Kirara, no," he said. "We get back to camp."

I stamped a paw in irritation. That's what I was trying to do, by flanking the youkai in the woods. He dared think I was retreating? Those are my people there too. I continued on my way.

He growled in frustration. "Kirara!"

I looked back at him, ears flattened, frustrated but also surprised. I knew he had a strong instinct to protect our group, especially the girl, but I had always chalked it up to an Inu Youkai instinct to protect the family. Perhaps it was less instinct and more emotion that drove that need to protect. I growled low, hoping he got the message: "Stop annoying me and we'll get there faster."

I think he took it to mean "Leave me alone; I'm getting us away from here." When I moved again, he actually had the gall to slap the back of my head. There wasn't much force behind it and it was more frustration than any intent to hurt that motivated him but it was still enough to stop me in my tracks. No one had ever hit me like that. Never.

He slid off my back, grimacing and grunting as he landed and swayed unsteadily. "Go hide, then," he sneered. "I'm going back."

Perhaps he meant to make me angry. I don't know, but I do know that the pain he was in, and the motives he had, hid the anger in the words. To me, he sounded much like my mistress did on those days when the battle seemed insurmountable, when the enemy had won and she still needed to fight.

I could never be angry then. I couldn't be angry now. It took but one small bound to land in front of the ailing human. I gazed at him nose to nose, only inches apart. Most people flinched at the sight on my fangs. He scowled and tried to shove my face away. I shook his hands off and growled. Maybe I wasn't angry and maybe I respected him, but I could still be annoyed.

His hands were fisted at his sides; he knew he couldn't get past me now, injured and frail as he was. "I need to go back, Kirara."

I nodded vigorously, hoping the human motion would be enough for him.

He blinked. "You know I need to or we are going back?"

Both, you idiot! I wanted to scream at him. I settled for stamping my foot. I wanted him to see my displeasure but not think I hated him. It was a fine line indeed.

"I'm going back."

I mewled and nodded.

"Then why do you keep taking me away from camp?"

I simply stared at him. Surely he wasn't this stupid. Was he? I tried to figure out the best way to tell him what I intended and could only come up with turning in circles to demonstrate "around". With a huff, I stepped sideways, intending to do just that, no matter how degrading it might be.

He stopped me by twisting my ear.

First he hits my head, and then pulls my ear? I've not been treated such since I was kitten! I turned back to him, eyes narrowed and growling.

"You were trying to flank them, weren't you?" he asked as he dropped his hand.

I nodded again, relieved and annoyed. My ear was still twitching of its own accord. He stared at me, blinking owlishly. "I musta hit my head harder than I thought," he muttered. He reached up and scratched the base of my ear. "Had to get your attention," he muttered.

I snorted again. He was even sounding a little more human. Almost apologizing. Perhaps it was the injuries. There were times when, even as a half-demon, he seemed almost civil and sociable. I knelt beside him, offering my back again now that we'd come to some sort of agreement. When he climbed on, I stood up and stayed still while he buried his fingers into my fur. He hunched over, probably trying to take pressure off of ribs that I knew were broken, and whispered, "Let's go."

I growled and leapt forward. We took to the air, once again staying under the cover of the trees, both of us hoping the sunrise was not too far off. We had family to protect, after all.

We'd only been moving for a few minutes before my nose caught a smell that frightened me and my ears found a sound that brought me relief. I meowed, forgetting the human on my back couldn't understand what I was telling him. My mistress was up and around, I could hear the monk shouting and the girl from the future was running. I sniffed the air; was it her blood I smelled?

So wrapped up in the beloved sounds of a camp that was not dead, I missed what was more immediate.

The demons had moved. Suddenly my senses were filled with bear youkai and I looked to my left. There he was, lumbering on the ground with a deceptive gracelessness. I moved to my right and a little higher, pushing off a strong tree branch. The human hunkered down on my back to avoid branches.

The bird youkai screeched a mere moment before it hit me. I slid sideways in the air, feeling claws dig into my right shoulder. I hissed, dearly wanting to turn mid-air, but not daring to displace the human. I couldn't reach the demon without twisting, and to twist would surely send the human I was trying to protect falling through the branches. We weren't too terribly high, but already injured and falling at the feet of a bear demon? Who knew if he'd survive the fall alone.

His left hand convulsed in my fur and I could smell a fresh torrent of blood.

The bird must have hit him as well. I snarled, rolling my eyes to try to see what was happening. I was near frantic, throwing my head back to try to snap at the youkai, trying to claw it with my left paw, trying to stay still enough not to throw off the human.

I could barely hear him cough weakly through the screeching in my ear. "Protect them," he whispered before letting go. His hands slid through my fur and I twisted sideways, toward the damned bird, trying to keep him in the air. Claws sent agony shooting through my side; I'd bared vulnerable flesh trying to keep the human from falling.

I screamed a battle cry when I felt the boy fall. I heard him hit a branch, heard his pained cry. My attention turned to the bird. Free I was, but longing not to be. My freedom to fight this battle cost more than I wished to pay. I twisted sideways again and curled in on myself, clawing the youkai with my back claws and tucking my head to bite a flapping wing. Growling, I let myself fall, twisting yet again so the bird would take the brunt of the fall.

I never heard my mistress' battle cry, but I did sense the youkai bone Hiraikotsu coming my way. The bone weapon dug deeply into the bird demon's flesh, cleaving its spine and leaving me free to worry over the fallen human. The bird's dying shriek echoed in my ears even as I shoved its body away. Without turning to check on my mistress, I dropped to the ground, huffing and whimpering as my shoulder was jarred.

I turned toward where the human had fallen only to get a faceful of bear youkai breath. To put it mildly, it stunk horribly. It smelled of blood and dirt and rotting flesh. My ears flattened, my nose wrinkled and I snarled. The bear looked at me, fangs bared and growling to match my snarls.

If it had dared maul the human I had been protecting...

Rue the day.

I leapt, claws wide and mouth open, shrieking. I hit the bear in the chest and it rolled backward. We tumbled end over end, each snapping, biting, snarling and clawing and neither gaining purchase. I saw a flash of red sprawled on the ground and turned my head to look at the fallen human.

I shouldn't have done that.

The bear used the distraction and latched its teeth around my throat. At first I didn't feel it. The bear rolled again and pinned me. Its teeth punctured skin. Blood began to well. My breath grew short.

I panicked. I clawed at the bear's belly with my back paws and swatted with my front. It flinched. Blood poured down onto me where I scored its belly.

But it still didn't let go.

I swatted its face, gouging an eye.

It still held fast.

My blows were weakening.

I couldn't breathe. Couldn't see.

I couldn't --



It should have been my last conscious thought.

The bear suddenly reared back, dropping my neck, and roared. I turned my head, blinking. I had to see what was happening. Did my mistress catch up to us? Was it the girl's arrow?

All I saw was the human on his knees near my head. I mewled, glad to see him alive. The bear howled and scratched at its own face. The human turned his gaze to the youkai, looking determined but exhausted. "Just die," he whispered.

The bear turned its head, and I saw it. Saw the branch embedded deep in its eye. It shuddered, and fell. Just die, I repeated to myself. Just die. Neither of us was in a condition to finish off the thing and I could hear my mistress and the others running toward us. It would be a close thing should the bear decide to attack.

With a growl that was more a groan, I moved to stand in front of the human who knelt next to me. "Protect them," he'd said. To me, he was a part of "them", and as much under my protection as my mistress. Perhaps it was because he'd given of himself so that I'd be able to fight. Perhaps it was because we'd just spent several hours dodging death. Perhaps I'd always known it. Even so, it was this moment where it was proven.

The bear convulsed and its foul breath left its body in a hiss. Dead. I sank to the ground, weary. The human fell sideways, landing on my uninjured shoulder. He patted my leg as his eyes closed, and I curled around him. That's how my mistress and our friends - our family - found us moments later.

The sky was lightening, but the sun remained below the horizon. I sat curled on my mistress's lap, watching the still human half-demon who lay rasping for breath upon the 'sleeping bag' the girl used. The girl hovered over him, and while he occasionally drew enough breath to complain about it, I caught him trying to hide a small smile as she fussed over him.

Of course the fussing was mutual, once he discovered the scrape across her knee. It had been her blood I'd smelled only a few hours ago. She'd quickly explained – in quite the frustrated tone – that she'd awoken to quite possible the scariest sound on earth, shot to her feet, and promptly tripped over the young kitsune.

Had I been able to, I probably would have laughed when the half-demon turned to the kitsune and said "You watch where you're going."

I meowed, getting the half-demon's attention. My mistress petted my back. I stared at him, eyes wide, wishing I could just speak and ask the question.

"What, cat?" he grumped.

I blinked. How was I going to ask about the hawk? He couldn't understand me, but perhaps he really could read my mind. So I stared at him, and thought about the hawk, just in case he actually could hear my thoughts. My gaze wandered to the sky as I thought about the hawk youkai that nearly killed him.

"What do you want to know, eh, cat?" He slanted his gaze on me. "About that hawk, ain't it? You want to know what happened."

He really could read minds. I blinked.

"It's the only part you missed," he pointed out.

Oh… so he can't read minds? The human condition was confusing me. Blinking away the thoughts, since he was still talking, I turned my attention back to his rasping voice.

"Waited 'til it got close enough, ducked under that log, and it hit the tree. It wasn't happy."

I snorted. From what I'd seen, he hadn't been very "happy" either.

My mistress's hand stopped her petting. I butted her hand with my forehead, and turned my ear into her fingers. She took the hint and, smiling, scratched delicately at my ears. Before long I was purring. I caught the half-demon watching through half-closed eyes. I sat up straight, and my mistress's hand fell away. My purr became a growl, and I twitched the ear he'd pulled earlier.

He snorted. "Can't still hurt," he whispered disdainfully.

By now, everyone was watching and listening.

I crouched, making like I was ready to pounce. My growl turned into a snarl. I was having way too much fun. My mistress was chuckling. The boy's gaze leapt from me to her, and understanding dawned on his face.

So, he hadn't known the cat had it in her to tease.

My tails twitched. He raised a hand. I pounced, landing neatly beside his head and used one tiny paw to bat at his still human ear. Well, this was no fun; human ears didn't twitch. I sat back, wincing a little. I'd jarred my shoulder a little much in my play.

Sunrise wasn't too far away. I could wait.

"You are not pulling my ears," he told me, pointing at my nose.

I narrowed my eyes; the way this night was going, he'd scruff me like a just born kitten. Slapping, ear-pulling… Insufferable. As soon as the sun rose, those dog ears were mine.

The End

Now, aren't you impressed? My first finished InuYasha fic. How cool is that? ((Well, ok, I find it exceedingly cool.)) I had toyed with a short, light-hearted scene involving Kirara's actual stalking of Inuyasha's ears, but found it just would not fit into the story, what with the main focus being the night. I leave that to your imaginations, and should anyone wish to write a sort of follow-up featuring "The Hunt for the Ears" do contact me, and I'll grant you permission.

For those of you following my other story, Legacy, I warn you again, that one is coming along very slowly. I will not abandon it; I know where I want to go with it, but I am using it as an exercise in actual novel writing, so I am working particularly hard on it. I am starting work on another multi-chapter IY fic, still untitled, in which Souta is abducted for a ransom from the shrine, and Kagome enlists InuYasha's help. I've checked out a couple Japanese culture and mythology books from the library for help with that one, so chapter one may take a bit.

Special thanks to all my wonderful reviewers. You people are wonderful, and I was thrilled by the reception this fic had. It far outshone anything else I have posted. I thank you, humbly and deeply. I'm honored.

Cheers, and see you soon!