Disclaimer: I don't think I own Inuyasha… I'll have to check with my lawyer on that one.

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"…" – speech

'…' – thoughts

- change in scenery or time

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La chienne – Part 2

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"Oh, come on." Inuyasha threw a glance backwards and stopped in his tracks. "Stop following me!" He crossed his arms and glared down at the small ball of soft, black fur.

Behind him, Kagome-the-dog happily cocked her head to the side and flicked an ear. Her tail wagged inexorably. For the entire day thus far, she'd done nothing but follow the half-demon almost wherever he went, be it on the road, through a forest, up a tree…she'd even tried to track him down while Inuyasha had been relieving himself.

Obviously, this behavior was causing the hanyou to be a little edgier than usual. And the fact that the rest of the group didn't care- even encouraged it -didn't help either.

The shard-hunting group was trying to get back to Kaede's village as quickly as they could, thinking that perhaps the experienced miko would have some expertise in 'curing' Kagome. Even if nothing could be done, at the very least, they would be back at the unofficial home base. When (and if) Kagome changed back, the group could, at least, start on a fresh hunt instead of being stuck on the stale trail of a Shikon shard.

However, they weren't making as good a speed as they'd hoped.

Mainly because Inuyasha kept on stopping.

The hanyou turned around completely. "Can't you follow Mi-" He glanced at the monk and swiftly changed his mind. "-Sango?" He pointed at the laughing girl. "Go and bother her for a change!"

If he'd expected any answer from the dog, he was sorely disappointed. She simply panted, sat, and scratched underneath an ear. Seeing an opportunity, Inuyasha promptly picked her up, marched over to the others, and sat her in front of Sango.

"There. Your new travelling partner. Have fun." Inuyasha began walking away, but he hadn't taken so much as two steps, before he felt the soft brush of fur against his feet. He closed his eyes in exasperation before looking down. "Why me?" He muttered to himself darkly. The half-demon bent down to stare the dog in the eyes. "Why can't you annoy someone else?"

She blinked and nudged forward at him with her nose, sniffing eagerly at his cheek.

He didn't know what was more frustrating: the thought that she didn't understand him, or that she did know what he was saying, and was doing this just to spite him.

The wind blew across the meadow where they'd stopped, rippling through the grass. For a moment, the half-demon was distracted by the waves it made in the dog's fur- it reminded him of how Kagome's hair looked when the wind blew through it…

He reeled back from surprise and out of his thoughts when something wet and warm drew up a cheek. Inuyasha instinctively flinched back and stared at the dog in shock… and then… embarrassment.

"Wha—what'd you do that for?" He tried to stop his cheeks from glowing, but without success. The half-demon hastily drew a hand across his cheek, trying to ignore the adoring mutt wagging her tail at his feet.

The half-demon felt a sudden weight on his shoulder and quickly shook Shippou off his perch. "What do you want?"

Grinning, the child stuck his tongue out, mimicking the dog's actions. "What does it mean when a dog licks you?" Inuyasha managed a half-hearted swipe, over which he jumped. "Come on! Tell me!"

"How would I know, brat?" He growled and glowered.

From where he was sitting, Miroku piped up with a suggestion. "I thought it was a sign of devotion." He paused for consideration. "But then again, maybe she was just curious about how you taste." Beside him, Sango muffled a laugh.

Inuyasha shot him a dark look, just daring him to go on. He glanced back at Shippou. "Shut up. The sooner Kagome turns back, the sooner we can find another shard." Scowling, he turned his attention back on the canine. "And can't you stop following me?"

The kitsune stuck his tongue out at Inuyasha. "You shouldn't be complaining. This way, Kagome can keep an eye on you and make sure you don't run off to that other girl." Shippou hopped over the half-demon's swipe. "And besides, it's your fault she's like this." He leaned over and ran his hand through the dog's fur a couple of times.

Inuyasha growled, almost inaudibly, and rolled up a sleeve threateningly. "Brat… Have you forgotten that she can't say 'sit' anymore?"

As if suddenly realising this, Shippou paled… before taking off towards Sango.

The hanyou stood up and cracked his knuckles, ready to pummel the boy. But just as he was about to chase him, Inuyasha felt something holding him back at his pant leg. He glanced back to find Kagome efficiently anchoring him down, her teeth impeded in the fabric of his pants. He glared at her. "Let go."

Blue eyes flashed to him, and the image of an extremely angry Kagome popped in the hanyou's head. Inuyasha let out a terse breath and let his muscles loosen. After a few seconds of calming down, he huffed, "Fine. I won't hurt the kid. Will you let go of me, now?"

She continued to glare at him, but slowly released her hold on his pant leg, leaving a wet spot where her mouth had been. The dog trotted over to his hand and nipped it sharply, making him draw it back with a hiss. Kagome gave him another lingering, reproachful look, before turning tail and moving to where the others were watching.

By the time she'd reached them, Kagome seemed to have resumed her friendly nature as she gave Kirara a challenging bark and ran off with the cat demon in full chase. Shippou laughed after them, and seeing no more threat in Inuyasha, joined in on the game.

"At least she's not following me anymore." Inuyasha muttered to himself. But the thought didn't seem to cheer him up. On the contrary, he appeared to be quite disappointed that Kagome'd left.

Miroku walked over to the despondent hanyou. "Kagome-sama may not be able to use the rosary to subdue you…" His gaze flickered over the shiny beads. "But she can still be very aggressive when she has to be." He took a seat next to Inuyasha and stayed silent for a while. And then, "Why did you stop?"

The half-demon glanced over at the placid monk and frowned. "Stop what?"

"Why didn't you chase after Shippou? I know you're stronger than a dog, Inuyasha." He smirked slightly. "Why did you stop?" He stared across the meadow at Sango, who was currently engaged in an energetic game of hide-and-seek with Kirara, Shippou, and Kagome. "It's amazing what one would do for the person he cares for, eh?" He slid a side-long look at him. "How he could change."

Inuyasha stared at him silently before scoffing, crossing his arms. "I was just surprised. And besides, the brat's not worth it." The delivery of the statement was meant to be casual, but the tenseness in the half-demon's jaw and the edged voice bellied his calm expression; Inuyasha clearly meant for the discussion to end there.

But Miroku plowed straight ahead. "I don't think so."

"What?" The half-demon's expression was not the least bit pleasant. His tone almost dared the man to say something he didn't like. "What are you saying?"

The houshi glanced over, unconcerned. "Nothing. You could have done something, and you didn't. I was just curious." He rose and set down his staff. "Would you have done the same thing before you met Kagome-sama?" He gave Inuyasha a critical look, and raised his head, speaking to everybody. "It's time for lunch. I'll go gather the firewood."

Inuyasha stared at him, completely at a loss for words. On the one hand, he wanted to smack the monk over the head for being so damned mysterious, but on the other, something was telling him that Miroku did have a point. It was just finding out what the point was, that was the hard part. So he was left sitting in the grass, thinking more than he cared to, while Miroku took off in the direction of a near-by wood.

Sango perked up and slowed down enough to be bowled over by the fully transformed Kirara. "Ahh…" The fire-cat resumed her usual form, and Sango rose, brushing herself off. "I'll help, Houshi-sama." She bent down and picked her partner up, following Miroku. "As long as you don't try anything."

When the two humans had reached the edge of a light forest, they paused, as if waiting.

When nothing happened, the man rose his head and called out, "Shippou? Come help us!"

The kitsune poked his head up from where'd he'd been hiding. "Why?" Before they had a chance to answer, a flying ball of fur tackled him, sending the child sprawling and giggling on the grass. "Hey! No fair!"

Kagome 'woof'-ed quietly before settling beside him.

"Shippou!"

He pouted, sitting up. "Why? Can't you get wood by yourselves?"

Miroku sighed and tried again. "Shippou…" He shot a pointed look at Inuyasha's back.

Shippou blinked in confusion, and then his eyes lit up. "Oh! Okay." He sprung up and hurried to join the other three. The kitsune paused only once to dissuade Kagome from following him. "You have to stay here."" He bent down and whispered, too quiet for even Inuyasha's ears to hear, "You have to stay. That's the plan."

The hanyou shot a suspicious look behind him, but Miroku was no longer pointing him out in anyway.

Grinning widely, the boy walked off with Sango and Miroku, looking back once to stick his tongue out at the hanyou.

Inuyasha continued to stare after the other three until their backs had disappeared in the shadows cast by the eaves of the trees. He then turned back grumpily and found himself staring into Kagome's energetic eyes.

"What, you not mad at me anymore?" He looked at her dully.

The dog just panted brightly and blinked. She placed a paw lightly on a knee, clearly begging for attention.

The half-demon sighed and looked around, checking that he was really alone. He then begrudgingly reached out and lifted her gently into his lap. "Haven't you finished being a dog yet?" He mused quietly, more to himself than to the dog. She, however, barked softly and nudged his stationary hand with her head. Almost unconsciously, Inuyasha obligingly moved his fingers, carefully petting her.

"You know, I like you better as a girl." He stared down at her almost sadly. "Maybe if I'd done something… this wouldn't have happened…"

Realising the serious mood, Kagome looked up and nudged her head gently against his neck. A soft growl spread through her body in a show of contentedness and as an attempt at comfort. When he still smelled of sadness, the dog whined and delivered a few licks to his jaw.

Inuyasha bent his head the other way, his lips twitching because of how ticklish her rough tongue felt. "What if you never turn back?" The hanyou lifted her, cradling her gently. "I'm…" He averted his eyes from the curious, blue ones. "I'm sorry."

He set her down on the grass.

The dog stared at him in confusion, her tail dropping disappointedly. She didn't understand why her friend was so sad. And his depression dampened her own happy mood. She whined again, her concern apparent.

But then…

Suddenly, Kagome stiffened. Her ears cocked up, she stood up straight, and even her tail seemed to quiver in the sudden moment of silence. Every aspect of her posture suggested an eager attentiveness.

Inuyasha noticed this and he stared at her sharply. "What? What's wrong?" He looked around and discretely sniffed the air, but couldn't find anything out of the ordinary.

However, she was still stiff with alert. Her eyes trailed across the meadow, and then, with just one, loud bark, she was off.

Kagome took off, tearing through the grass towards some unseen target. The half-demon stared after her in a moment of astonishment before he snapped to it and raced after her. "Hey! Wait!" He stumbled over a rock in the grass. "What the hell are you doing?" He didn't have time to wonder about her unbelievable speed; he was concerned solely with following her and making sure she stayed safe. "Kagome!"

Through the meadow they ran, the dog always seeming just a few paces ahead of the boy.

"Kagome! Slow down!" Maybe it was because of her erratic twists and turns, but Inuyasha just couldn't seem to get close enough to her to catch her. "What the hell?" His ears twitched as they caught the sound of running water. "Water?"

And indeed, it wasn't soon before the unusual pair emerged to run alongside a wide river. Kagome barked again, ecstatically, and amazingly enough, sped up. The dog seemed to be propelled by a tireless energy, simply flying across the ground. Inuyasha sped up as well, and because the dog was now running in a straight line, managed to get close enough to see what the entire hubbub was about:

Something was flying before the canine. Its wings fluttered quickly and it always kept just a few wingbeats before its pursuer.

Inuyasha gaped at it in shock and indignation. This was what Kagome was chasing after?

A butterfly?

Breathing out a growl of frustration, the half-demon threw all caution to the wind and slowed down enough to crouch and leap forward in a powerful jump. His aim was perfect, and everything would have gone perfectly according to plan… had that blasted river not been in the way.

"Fuck." Inuyasha's tackle connected solidly with the dog, and he quickly rolled over so as not to crush her. However, this action ended up dunking both the half-demon and the canine into the river.

The current wasn't terribly strong, but all the same, he felt his grip loosen on the dog. The water in his eyes blinded Inuyasha, and he couldn't see where Kagome was being washed. "Kagome!" He slipped and became engulfed in the river. Somewhere above the surface of the water, he thought he could hear the barking of a dog…

The hanyou forced himself out and shook the hair and water from his face. "Kagome!" He glanced around frantically for any sign of the dog, but he couldn't find any. His chest tightened, and he shuddered suddenly. "Shit… Kagome!"

His anxiety was short-lived, however, as something large collided suddenly with his back, sending him flying back into the river.

Inuyasha gasped unintentionally, breathing in a lung-ful of water. He stood up and coughed, not used to being surrounded by this much water. He shook the liquid away again, clearing his waterlogged ears.

And that's when he became aware of a sound he'd thought he'd never hearing again.

The half-demon's gaze snapped to his right, onto the girl…sitting in the river… laughing at him…

…the girl…

He gaped at her, stiff with shock for just a few seconds.

And then, his muddled thoughts finally processed, and he reached out to touch the girl on the shoulder. "Kagome?"

Bright, azure eyes looked up at him, and the girl grinned cheerfully. "That was fun!"

"You… you're all right…" Inuyasha felt the sudden 'whoosh' of relief he'd felt for so many times in the past when he'd thought she'd been in danger. "You're not hurt. And you're not a dog." His stare turned flat. "And you're laughing at me."

Kagome looked at him curiously. "Were you worried?"

The half-demon was at a loss for words for quite a while, before his anger bubbled up to replace the relief. "Worried? Was I worried?" He stood up (which was a feat all in itself, with his soaked clothes dragging him down), towering over the girl. "What the hell do you think, wench?" Inuyasha took a step closer to her. "Don't ever make stupid wishes again!"

The girl only smiled sweetly at him, and he was once again, robbed of his words.

"Jeesh…" Inuyasha shook his head and plopped back into the water. "Just… don't do anything that stupid again." He scoffed, resuming his usual personality. "Chasing after a butterfly."

Kagome looked at him knowingly and shuffled closer. "I'm sorry if I worried you." She embraced him briefly, knowing his dislike for close contact. "It was fun, though." She sighed and closed her eyes. "Being a dog was cool."

The half-demon glanced at her from the corner of his eye and shook his head. His sharp eyes caught a slight shiver passing through her body, and he stood up. "You're cold." He took off his haori. "At least this will be warmer, even if it's wet." He placed it over her shoulders. "Now let's get back to camp."

She stared at him silently and accepted his hand to pull herself upright. "Thanks, Inuyasha." She added, on impulse, "You're the best." He paused and half-turned, waiting for her to walk alongside him back to camp. "I hope you know the way back, 'cause I don't."

Inuyasha sighed, draping his arm across her shoulders briefly to stop his coat from falling off. "Don't worry. I… I'll take care of yo—of us."

Kagome just smiled quietly, edging closer to the hanyou for warmth.

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Inuyasha was perched in a tree, getting ready to keep a night's watch again. Everybody else had gone to sleep, and the fire was burning at a low flame.

By the time the two had found their way back to camp, the others had already returned with firewood, and had been searching for them. Everybody had been relieved to find Kagome normal and well, thought they had been curious about their soaked condition. But since neither Kagome nor Inuyasha seemed ready to tell, the others had refrained from asking.

Kagome had cooked dinner again, a fact at which Sango was relieved- she never could get the hang of making food taste good, or even edible, for that matter. The girl had talked briefly about her experience as a dog: how amazing their senses were; how different everything seemed…

"Dogs know how to be happy," she's revealed, "they hate being sad, and they hate it when anybody else isn't happy." Kagome had added on how she'd seen things. "I don't really remember. I just know that the world seemed to much brighter… and how everything smelled different. I don't really remember anything else."

But in the end, she'd admitted that being human was still the best.

The hanyou's gaze drifted lazily to the sky lying open above him. The stars twinkled with an innocent light, and for a moment, he was so distracted that he didn't notice the quiet scrabbling at the base of his tree.

Inuyasha glanced down. "What the hell are you doing?" He leapt down from his branch almost silently to land behind Kagome. She'd been trying to climb up his tree. "You're supposed to be sleeping."

The girl shrugged. "I couldn't.

"So you try to climb a tree?"

"I wanted to talk."

The half-demon rolled his eyes, but all the same, he scooped her up quickly, leapt up, and set her down on his branch- all within a matter of seconds.

"That was fast." Kagome sat awkwardly across from Inuyasha, trying not to look down and lose her balance.

He sighed discreetly and reached over, pulling her over so that she rested in his lap.

"Inuyasha!" She whispered and tried to move away, but the hand around her waist proved that to be rather difficult. "What are… what are you doing?"

"Stop moving, or we'll both fall." She fell limp. "Exactly." He suppressed his embarrassment. "You wanted to come up here. And if I leave you alone, you'll fall and break something."

"I would not."

The half-demon abruptly let go of her, and smirked in satisfaction as her hands tightened on the fabric covering his chest. "Inuyasha!" The terrified whisper prompted him to take hold of her again.

"See?"

"Fine." Kagome tried to relax from the shock. "But as long as I have to stay here…" She tried to straighten her legs and wiggled until she was in a relatively comfortable position.

Inuyasha stared at her. "What're you doing?"

She glared defiantly back. "I'm sleeping over. I won't be able to get back to the ground in the nighttime now, so I'm spending the night in your tree." She hesitated slightly before placing her head on his chest. Being like this was making her nervous, and the fluttering in her stomach wasn't entirely due to fear. "You… You don't mind, do you?"

She felt his muscles tighten and prepared herself for rejection.

"…No." He relaxed. "As long as it's only for one night. And…" He shifted forwards and worked off his haori, all the while keeping at least one hand on the girl. "And get under this so you don't get cold."

Touched by his unusually thoughtful gesture, Kagome sighed and closed her eyes as the warmth of his coat draped over her. "Thank you."

"Keh. Don't expect this every night." The silence settled like a sheet of snow before he disturbed it again. "You really were a bitch, this time." He smirked as he felt her light punch.

The girl felt the wings of sleep closing on her. But before she drifted off, she had to say just one more thing. "Hey, Inuyasha?"

"Yeah?"

"How do I smell, again?"

He frowned at the odd question. "Weird. You smell weird."

Kagome felt a smile touch at her lips. "Well," she yawned, "then you smell weird too…"

And she fell asleep.

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Translations

Hanyou – half-demon
Houshi – a low levelled priest / a monk
Kitsune – fox (demon, in this context)
–chan – suffix: denoting friendship; familiarity, mostly for girls
–sama – suffix: denoting respect; politeness

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-I'd like to thank my friend- who will be known as Maximaro, who sent me this song that let me feel the mood of this story better. It wasn't so much the lyrics as it was the tune that helped in sobering up for Inuyasha's musings. J A song by Simple Plan, I think.

All right, this short story is over, and I should be getting back to my regular programme soon- as soon as I finish my book report for English. T.T

Well, Till next time…

Ja-