"Fucking figures," InuYasha grumbled, watching the unexpected rainfall that had halted their travels for the time being. He knew Kagome felt a jewel shard, could see it plain as day in her eyes when she looked off to the west, but no matter his urgency to attain them, there was danger here.

The western lands were not a domain he was truly free to roam about. Having been giving the choice of death or exile, and preferring the intake of his own breath on an hourly basis, InuYasha had left his brother's homelands years ago. Even when he had first heard of the Shikon-no-Tama and later met Kikyou, his memories of life in the Western Lands were faded. His mother had died there, at the seat of her father, his human grandfather's estate by the hand of an assassin. Said ninja's master was no doubt the source of his own demise but InuYasha was never privy to that knowledge. It was enough now to know he was soon to be upon forbidden property once again.

At the entrance to the cave they had taken shelter in, Kagome watched the storm and let her sense for the Shikon expand. Its tingling presence tickled her spine and coursed through her blood, alerting her to the proximity and quantity of shards. Frighteningly accurate, she was becoming use to the way it spiked at times, flaring like her miko abilities when another shard lost its purity to evil.

She didn't have the heart to tell her companions so much of it was lostl, that their battle to come with Naraku was nothing compared to the exhaustive search that would have to continue before the jewel would be whole again. It was depressing and weighed heavily on her shoulders and mind, more so now than usual due to the downcast weather.

"I can still feel the shards," she said to pacify the hanyou. "They have not moved, so the youkai shouldn't be difficult to track down." Her efforts received a non-committal 'feh' bringing a smile to her lips.

Standing and dusting gravel from his robes, Miroku began to search back into the cave. "I'm going to look for firewood, get some heat going in case it gets colder. Care to join me," he asked, deep lavender eyes focused on Sango. The gleam they held was not at all innocent, hinting at his obvious intentions.

"Might as well," InuYasha responded, un-noticing of the monk's slight glare. "You three coming?" Kagome continued to watch the rain while Sango shook her head no.

"I'll go with," Shippou chirped. His eagerness to explore the cave driving him farther than the want to gather wood.

InuYasha gave a grunt and crossed his arms, eyeing the kitsune with dissatisfaction. "You can't complain if you get a splint this time. Crying is for babies."

"I promise, and besides, Kagome will take it out if I get another splinter. Isn't that right?"

She smiled back at him, nodding, and receiving a resigned sigh from the hanyou, an excited yelp from the cub. "Come on, come on," Shippou snaked past the older men and headed into the cave, his bright red tail soon gone behind a bend.

"Wait up brat."

They were close, though where exactly he could not quite tell. The rain had come unexpectedly, stopping the travelers no more than an hour's walk from his location, the spot he'd chosen to take her. But now they were no doubt camped in a dry area, waiting on the rain as he had been prepared to do.

Having her so close, feeling the rising excitement in his blood and mind, proved too much, even for one as strong as SesshouMaru. The dragon mount would protect and hold the shards, preventing his brother and the bastard's entourage from detecting his approach. There were only a few places in their general location that would provide adequate cover for so many bodies.

He would find and have her.

Sango leaned back against a slanted edge of rock, stretching her legs out and resting her eyes. The day's travel was enough, and if Kagome said the shards were not moving, then there was no reason for the group of them to freeze in the rain to follow. That suited her fine.

Kagome also relaxed, closer to the cave opening than her friend, against the spongy moss-covered side of a boulder. There was nothing to do but wait. Glancing over she noted the peaceful expression on Sango's face and felt a brief pang of envy. If only she could unwind and close her eyes, but there was something in the rain that prevented it.

Turning back to the outside world, her eyes scanned the trees, the foliage, the horizon, everywhere and nowhere, and yet she saw only the usual. Pitter patter increasing, the rain's melody becoming more and more hypnotic. She wanted to step from the shelter, to feel heaver's tears on her face for a moment.

Rising, she went to her bag and searched through to the canteen her mother had given her. Sango popped open an eye to watch and smiled softly to her friend when Kagome looked up at her.

"Be right back," she said while reaching back to pull over the hood on her jacket. She stepped out of the cave, around down the side of a slight incline to the forest edge, and right into her predator's grasp.