Disclaimer: Rumiko Takahashi owns everything and I humbly bow to her genius.

What a Girl Needs

by Souta's Sister

Chapter 1 -- What a Girl Wants


Kagome gently pushed aside Inuyasha's black hair and wiped his forehead with her damp handkerchief. They had been caught up in battle at a vulnerable time, just an hour before sunset on the night of the new moon. Luckily, they had destroyed Naraku's puppet moments before the sun slipped below the horizon, but the damage to Inuyasha had been done. He had been exposed to poisonous miasma for most of the battle and had also sustained several minor injuries, though nothing life-threatening. He had changed to human form and passed out shortly after the battle and before his body had a chance to heal.

Kagome was grateful that the fight ended before Naraku's tool could witness Inuyasha's change and she fervently hoped no other threats were in the area to discover his vulnerability, which at the moment still included being unconscious. Kagome had confidence that Inuyasha would fully recover once he regained his hanyou form at sunrise, but in the mean time, his breathing had been a bit labored and he was a little feverish.

It had been over an hour since the battle and they had just finished setting up camp. They'd had no choice but to camp out in the middle of the forest since Kirara had been slightly injured and was not able to carry Inuyasha to a concealing shelter. Kagome looked around the camp nervously. She felt exposed without a roof over their heads while Inuyasha was in this condition, but there wasn't anything she could do about it now except stay awake and watch over him.

She turned her attention back to Inuyasha. He seemed to be getting better. At least now he was moving a little and his breathing was improved.

'Inuyasha is so strong,' she thought. 'He will survive this and many other injuries just to follow Kikyou into hell in the end.'

Kagome sighed and looked out at the surrounding foliage without really seeing it, her restless thoughts taking over.


Sango and Miroku watched Kagome and glanced at each other with concern. They sat across the campfire from Kagome where she sat next to Inuyasha's prone body, her hand lightly resting on his chest, which was rising and falling with each breath he took.

"I am worried about Kagome-chan, Houshi-sama," Sango whispered to Miroku. "She's changed over the last several weeks. She has been caring and concerned about us and with Inuyasha as always, but with him it has somehow not been the same. I can't describe it. She's been so distracted and it almost seems as if she is distancing herself in some way while still protecting him. Does that make sense?"

"Yes, it does, my lovely Sango. I have perceived this subtle change also, however I do not understand it anymore than you do. Why don't you attempt to talk to her now, while Inuyasha still sleeps. I will take Shippou and go get more firewood."

"Good idea. Try and stay gone for a while, Houshi-sama."

"Alright. Shippou! Come! Let us get more firewood," called Miroku lightly.

Shippou mumbled sleepily but did not stir from his resting place on top of Kagome's sleeping bag.

"Just go without him. He's out for the night," said Sango as she moved toward the other side of the campfire to sit near Kagome, who was paying no attention to any of them.

Miroku nodded and walked into the dense foliage that surrounded the camp.

Sango watched Kagome for a moment and listened to the small fire crackle in front of them. The exhausted Kirara settled at Sango's feet and promptly fell into a deep sleep. Kagome was simply sitting there staring at nothing. Inuyasha moved his head slowly from side to side, but Kagome didn't seem to notice.

'At least Inuyasha is unconscious and will not hear our conversation,' thought Sango, 'that is if there is a conversation to hear. Kagome may not want to talk.'


Sango waited for Kagome to look at her before continuing. "Please do not be angry, but Houshi-sama and I are worried about you. Would you mind talking to me? I… Is something bothering you, Kagome-chan? Are you okay?"

Kagome glanced around and asked, "Where's Miroku-sama?"

"He went to get firewood. He won't bother us if you want to talk…"

Kagome smiled at Sango and said, "I think I might be ready to tell you about what I have been thinking and feeling, but I don't want Miroku-sama to know. He might tell Inuyasha and I don't want that. Will you promise not to tell him?"

Miroku ducked his head a little lower even though he knew Kagome could not see him in his hiding place quite near their camp.

Sango hesitated, fully aware that the Houshi might be listening to them. She was torn between warning Kagome about possible eavesdroppers and wanting to immediately hear what was wrong with her friend. Curiosity won but she convinced herself that it was just concern for Kagome.

"I won't tell him, but you know that Inuyasha and Miroku would help you with whatever you need help with if you asked them to, don't you?" Sango replied nervously looking around the perimeter of the camp.

Kagome burst into laughter, startling Sango. "I have no doubt that Miroku could help me with what I need!" Kagome still giggled a little, but calmed enough to tell Sango, " but I don't really want that kind of help from him and I don't think that you would want him to help me either, Sango-chan. And as for Inuyasha…"

Kagome sobered completely and said, "No, I don't suppose he would want to help me either." She sighed and looked lost in thought again.

Sango recalled the other girl's attention. "Kagome-chan. Please explain. I don't understand."

Kagome sighed. "I guess I should start from the beginning and let you know what I have been thinking about before I tell you what I intend to do..."

Her voice trailed off. She paused a moment and Sango, slightly alarmed, waited for her to continue.

"I've accepted it. It's taken me a long time and I'm not completely at peace about it, but I've finally accepted the fact that I will lose Inuyasha. He will go with Kikyou to hell, and part of me will die with him," Kagome stated as if unloading a burden after carrying it for a very long time. There was weariness in her voice...sadness.

"You can't know that for certain, Kagome-chan. You said you never heard him promise Kikyou that he will go to hell with her. Don't give up hope yet! Kikyou may have changed her mind and not force him to go with her. We hardly ever see her anymore and, besides, you could persuade Inuyasha not to go with Kikyou if you try hard enough. Why don't you fight to keep it from happening?" Sango said vehemently.

"I will not be like Kikyou, Sango-chan!" Kagome stated forcefully, keeping her voice low, but becoming angry just thinking about Kikyou. "I won't manipulate him or use his feelings for me against him like she does. And, you're right, he never promised her that he would go with her to hell, but he did tell Kaede that he was willing to if that is what Kikyou wanted. He thinks he owes it to her. She has made him feel guilty for her death all those years ago even though he was just as much Naraku's victim as she was. He feels guilt and responsibility for her death and for not trusting her when she is equally at fault. And his guilt for not trusting her back then makes him determined to trust her and protect her now, no matter what the circumstances."

Kagome paused for a moment before continuing with less heat, "Sango-chan…I thought for a while that she had changed and that maybe she would release Inuyasha from any obligations he thinks he has toward her, but it has been almost four years and she still keeps her hold on him… I can't fight her or it will hurt him. I can't argue with him about it because it will only make him upset with me, not her. I won't stand between them. I want him to be happy and I want him to live, but I can't force him to turn his back on Kikyou. He loves her and I can't ask him to turn his feelings off because it would also damage my relationship with him. And if he did give in to such a demand from me, I'd never know if he really chose me over her of his own free will." Kagome struggled not to allow tears to form in her eyes.

"How can he choose her in the end, Kagome-chan? She has only caused hurt for all of us. If she had not stolen our jewel shards and given them to Naraku, we could have defeated him a long time ago. I don't understand Inuyasha! Can't he see what she has done? Did you tell Inuyasha the truth about what happened when we were trapped in Naraku's Illusionary Death spell and since then? Does he know she has tried to kill you those times?" Sango quietly questioned.

"No, and I won't tell him. What would be the point? It would only make him angry and he wouldn't understand why I waited so long to tell him since she hasn't done anything like that in years. Anyway…I thought last year that maybe he had changed his mind about Kikyou since he seemed to be paying more attention to me and seemed to be more affectionate. But for the last several months, he has backed off from me and put emotional distance between us. Maybe I just imagined that he felt more for me because I wanted him to love me so badly. It doesn't matter either way, because it's obvious now that he has not chosen me. She still has his heart and there's nothing I could say that would change that, Sango-chan. " Kagome stared at the fire, frustration and sadness clearly evident on her face.

"Oh, he's so stupid! Why is he still loyal to her? I don't understand. Inuyasha may not know what she did to you, but he knows that she deliberately helped Naraku before Naraku turned on her. How can Inuyasha still love her knowing she did that?" Sango felt anger at Inuyasha for hurting Kagome and for what in her opinion was reckless stupidity.

"You should know that better than any of us, Sango-chan," Kagome sighed, willing herself to calm down. She turned back to look at her friend with a sad smile. "Knowing what Kohaku-kun has done, some under Naraku's control and some on his own, and knowing that he is not the same brother you knew and cherished, if Kohaku-kun came into this camp right now trying to kill us, would you try and kill him, or would you try to stop his actions and save him from his fate? Can you forget your love for him? Can you look at him and not see your sweet younger brother even though his eyes tell you that he is not the same anymore?" Kagome quietly asked as gently as she could.

Sango hesitated before answering honestly. "I don't know. I want to protect him…I still love him." She looked away, not meeting Kagome's eyes. She felt confused and ashamed for thinking that Inuyasha was stupid. Was she not the same?

"Sango-chan, don't get angry at yourself about it. It's the same for Inuyasha and, no matter how much it hurts me, I can't bring myself to tell him his feelings for Kikyou are wrong. He remembers her from when she was alive and they were falling in love. He can't let go of that memory and his love for the Kikyou of the past makes him want to protect the Kikyou of the present even though she's changed. His feelings of guilt and other emotions won't let him do anything else…and she knows this." Kagome's anger would not go away.

"I think you should talk to him, Kagome-chan. You know he loves you too; he'd die for you! Talk to him," Sango forcefully pleaded, now upset with herself and Inuyasha.

Kagome sighed again. "He'd die protecting you or Miroku-sama or Shippou-chan too, Sango-chan; you know he would. Even though he'd never admit it, he loves all of us, including me, but…only as a friend. He loves her as…more."

Sango thought Kagome was wrong but hesitated at saying anything more.

Kagome paused with a look of sadness on her face. She then closed her eyes and sat up a little straighter, her eyes showing her anger again. "Sango-chan, he isn't stupid, but he is so obsessed with saving her that he refuses to see past anything but her tragic death and his own irrational guilt. If he can't see for himself what she has become, then he won't be happy with anyone else if they tell him. He would only become angry with the person trying to help him."

Sango and Kagome sat thinking about this for a moment. Kagome took comfort in feeling Inuyasha's even breathing under her hand. She knew his sleep was more natural now and that he was getting better. She might get angry with him but that never stopped her loving him and caring about him. She was glad he seemed to be recovering. She looked at Sango and continued.

"Kaede-obaa-chan and I have talked about what would happen if Kikyou drags Inuyasha to hell. She doesn't have a soul of her own now, only borrowed souls and the small piece of her spirit that used to rest within my soul. When that false body of hers dies, all those souls will return to their rightful places in the afterworld, and the tiny bit of her that belongs in my soul will come back to me. So when her body is destroyed in hell, it will not leave a soul there, at least not one that Inuyasha knows. Kikyou must know this herself and so she also knows that Inuyasha's soul will be left alone in hell for eternity."

"Oh, Kagome-chan..." Sango could not find words. It sounded so cruel to her. She knew that despite his gruff exterior and anti-social behaviors, one of Inuyasha's greatest fears was of ending up alone.

Kagome was still thinking to herself, her eyes drifting off to stare at nothing, with a sad look on her face. After a moment, she looked back at Sango.

"The sad part of this, Sango-chan, is that I don't even know if Kikyou really loved Inuyasha fifty years ago. I think they recognized each other's loneliness and took comfort from each other... You know, 'misery loves company'." Kagome smiled but it did not reach her eyes. "I know she did not accept him in half-youkai form, and from what Kikyou said during her first attempt to drag him to hell, they had never kissed each other while she was alive, so their relationship had not gotten that far along. She said 'I longed to do this when I was alive,' then she hugged him, and Inuyasha looked completely shocked when she touched him. I think, back then, when she was alive, she wasn't willing to get closer to him until he turned human…but it didn't work out that way..." Kagome's voice reflected her anger at Kikyou and her sadness too.

Sango nodded her head slightly, silently agreeing. She remained quiet, not sure what to tell Kagome or how to give her comfort.

"Kaede-obaa-chan told me that when Naraku tricked them, Kikyou's injury was survivable and she might have lived if she hadn't used all her energy to pin Inuyasha to that tree. Kaede-obaa-chan said that the injuries on your back from Kohaku-kun were worse than what Kikyou had…"

She paused a moment then continued. "Sango-chan, what happens when I shoot a youkai with one of my arrows?" Kagome asked.

Sango looked confused at the sudden change of topic but slowly answered, "Uh…they disintegrate and turn to ash?"

"Yes, and Kaede-obaa-chan said that is because I'm not trained and I don't manipulate my power when I shoot an arrow. She said it is a straight transfer of my spiritual energy into the arrow and it requires the least effort on my part. The pure energy destroys whatever it hits. Now…what happened to Inuyasha when Kikyou's arrow hit him?" Kagome asked.

Sango eyed her angry friend, contemplating the implications of this revelation. She finally asked, "Why wasn't Inuyasha destroyed? We've seen Kikyou shoot youkai with her arrows and I've never noticed any difference between her results and yours."

"That's because Kaede-obaa-chan said that what Kikyou did was weave a spell and change her miko energy when she shot Inuyasha. When the arrow hit Inuyasha, it captured his soul, trapped it within his intact physical body, which became suspended in time…and it left a powerful barrier around him so that no one could get close to him to pull him from the tree. How else would he have remained there, untouched for fifty years? She doomed him, body and soul, to be isolated and alone for eternity with no way to pass on to the underworld and no opportunity to be reincarnated." Kagome closed her eyes a moment trying to calm herself.

Sango took a deep breath, angry herself at this disclosure, as Kagome continued in a low shaking voice, "She did that to him knowing that being alone was what he feared most…and she used an enormous amount of her miko powers and physical energy to do it. She in effect killed herself in her efforts to get cruel revenge on Inuyasha because she thought he was responsible for betraying her to steal the jewel. Killing Inuyasha out right would have been easier…on both of them."

Sango had tears in her eyes. She didn't know what to say so she remained quietly angry and sad.

Kagome was shaking with anger from talking and thinking about all this. She took several deep breaths and forced her shoulders to relax, trying to calm herself and let go of her anger. Anger was unproductive and served no good purpose. And , in a way, she was glad that Kikyou did what she did, because it led to Kagome herself meeting him. But if he died in the end anyway…

She sighed. The past could not be changed…but she wished she could change the future and keep Inuyasha alive…with herself by his side.

Kagome glanced down at his human form. He was still and his breathing was even, his pale face, starkly contrasted against his black hair, was more relaxed in a natural sleep. Gods he was beautiful, no matter what form he was in, even his full-youkai form. She studied his features for a moment, her hand itching to caress his jaw line and lips. She consciously kept her fingers from moving to his face or clenching his clothing where her hand still rested on his chest. She closed her eyes for a second and quietly exhaled, trying to further relax her tense body.

Kagome glanced back toward Sango who was staring at the fire with her jaw clenched and her mouth tight, then she too let her gaze drift to the low flames, and they sat quietly for a few minutes, each deep in thought.

Kagome spoke after a while. "Kaede-obaa-chan told me that Kikyou did her duty as guardian of the jewel but didn't like it. She resented the responsibility. She enjoyed caring for children most and wanted some of her own along with a normal life. I can't decide if she really wanted Inuyasha and was going to use the jewel so she could have him on her terms, or if she only wanted to be rid of the jewel and was using Inuyasha for that purpose. Both possibilities are selfish."

"I can't believe Inuyasha would really consider becoming human, Kagome-chan. He hates nights like this," she gestured toward him with one hand, "and used to talk of his wish to be full youkai. Are you sure he would have really done it?" Sango asked, clearly not convinced.

"Yes, he would have done it. He told Kaede-obaa-chan that he had promised Kikyou he would. We both know that Inuyasha takes his promises very seriously," Kagome quietly replied. "He said Kikyou was kind to him and he did love her even if he also wanted to relieve his loneliness..."

They were both quiet for a minute. Sango waited for Kagome to speak again.

"I don't mean to sound bitter, Sango-chan, but sometimes I feel these things, the anger, jealousy, and resentment, for a little while anyway. It's natural to feel these things and it doesn't mean I hate them for feeling like they do even if it hurts me, because I could never hate Inuyasha and I don't hate Kikyou, you know. I pity her mostly. No matter what else she did or didn't do, it's not her fault that she was brought back from the dead. I have to remember that when I get really angry. Most of it isn't her fault. Naraku and Urasue created this bad situation. And I don't want to become bitter and ugly inside, so I let my feelings vent and then I let them go. Dwelling on things like this won't change anything," Kagome finished and then paused for a moment looking at Inuyasha briefly before turning back to Sango.

"Sango-chan, when you love someone, you accept him or her as they are. Inuyasha is beautiful, inside and out, just as he is. No matter what my feelings are, I won't ask him to change…and I can't make him change what is in his heart…"

Kagome turned her head to look down at Inuyasha again and gave into the temptation to lightly run her finger down his jaw line before continuing in a whisper, "...even if he breaks mine." He moved slightly in his sleep, his head turning to the warmth of her touch.

Kagome sighed heavily feeling deep sadness. She turned back to Sango and continued quietly, "Anyway, I have accepted that Kikyou's hold on Inuyasha is irrevocable and that I will lose him. I know it will devastate me when it happens so I am going to prepare for it as best I can."

"We can't be sure what will happen. He may not go with her in the end… and how do you prepare for losing someone you love, Kagome-chan? Wait…what are you saying? You are not going to leave us, are you? Is that why you have been…distant recently?" Sango's concern for her friend and what would happen to their group was clear in her voice.

"No, I am staying. I wouldn't leave all of you! I care about all of you so much…and I love him…and that won't change. He has my heart and I will be with him to the end if I can. But, I'm trying to think of him only as a friend and push my other feelings for him back a little because…I've decided to let someone else into my heart too. I need someone who can love me and who will help me through the loss of Inuyasha, when the time comes. There will be so much pain and I don't know if I could survive it alone." She paused and then said, "Plus, I need something else...besides the emotional support." She dropped her eyes and studied the ground in front of her, blushing slightly.

Sango looked a little startled and confused. Was Kagome talking about another boy? She watched expectantly. "What exactly are you talking about, Kagome-chan?" she finally asked.

Kagome paused before answering Sango's question with questions of her own. "Sango-chan, don't you ever get lonely? I know we are always surrounded by our friends who care for us, but don't you ever want more?"

"What do you mean by 'more'?" Sango's face showed her confusion and suspicion.

"I am almost 19 years old and I have been following Inuyasha around chasing jewel shards for over three and a half years now. I feel much older than a teenager should. I've seen so much death, so much evil… My friends at home are in college now, that's a kind of school, and one of my friends is already married. She's expecting a baby soon. They are all blissfully unaware of so many… bad things. They lead a normal life and they're happy and they have all known…love. Maybe not the deep and lasting love of a real union of souls….like…like I thought I had found," she glanced at Inuyasha, "…but they have known the affection and ….you know…. physical love of a man. They aren't alone. They have a…connection to someone that runs deeper than just…friendship. I want that too. I need it. And I have decided to find someone willing to hold me...touch me…when I feel more alone than I can stand sometimes... I want someone who will be there to help me when I lose Inuyasha..." Her voice trailed away.

Inuyasha seemed to be moving a little more in his sleep. She watched him for a moment to make sure he was okay and that he was really still asleep. She absolutely did not want Inuyasha to hear any of this.

Kagome turned back to Sango who was blushing at the turn the conversation had taken. "You are not alone, Kagome-chan. We are your friends too!" she asserted quietly.

"Sango-chan, you have to know what I mean. I know I'm surrounded by friends and I appreciate all of you, but…don't you ever wish for someone to hold you? Someone to tell you that it's going to be okay even when you know it's not? Someone to make you feel safe when things are really bad and you're so scared inside you just want to hide? Don't you think about having someone just to touch you and love you for a little while so you can forget about the horrible battles that you've been through and the worse ones to come? Don't you feel that need?"

Sango wouldn't look at her in her embarrassment. They were both blushing. When Sango refused to answer, Kagome continued.

"Well, I do. I can't be alone inside anymore. I know you are with me and I love you as a sister. Your friendship is dear to me, Sango-chan, just as Miroku-sama, Shippou-chan, and…and Inuyasha are dear to me. But I need something more. Someone...more than a friend." Kagome fell silent suddenly.

Sango slowly raised her eyes and watched her friend for a moment. Finally she asked, "You feel this way? You never show it. You are always seem so…unaffected…so strong, so cheerful…no matter what horrors we face each day. You…you even stand up to Inuyasha when no one else will and you lift our spirits when we feel so low. I do not know what to say, Kagome-chan. I'm sorry I can't..." Sango trailed off and stared at her friend. She wondered who lifted Kagome's spirit when she was low. Apparently they had not.

"I am strong, Sango-chan. And I can't help but try to help all of you if I can. You all need me just like I need you, and I will keep doing everything I can for you all, but I am only human too after all. Humans are meant to find a partner…a friend and lover. Sango-chan, girls of this time are married with children by the time they are 15 years old, if not younger. Most girls of my time, although they may not choose to marry, have at least experienced sex by my age. Of all my friends back home, I am the only virgin. You can't tell me you have not thought about having a man's hands on your body at one time or another because I won't believe it, and I don't mean Miroku's constant clumsy and irritating grabbing." Kagome was blushing hotly at this point but defiantly looked Sango straight in the eye. She didn't notice the slight indignant rustling in the nearby bushes.

Sango sucked in her breath as a thought struck her. "Was that the 'need' you said Inuyasha would not help you with when we started this conversation? You want to…uh…? Kagome-chan?"

Dropping her eyes, Kagome was quiet for a moment. Then she looked back at Sango and softly said, "When I came through the well for the first time, Inuyasha was the first person I saw. He was still pinned to the God Tree. He looked so peaceful and beautiful. I climbed up to him just to touch him… I think I wanted him then, I just didn't understand what this feeling was."

She sighed, glanced away, and continued, "It doesn't matter. I'm not a little girl anymore and I know what that feeling is now, but he doesn't want me like that..."

"Kagome-chan, Inuyasha is a fool to love Kikyou, but he loves you too. You must know that." Sango said softly.

Kagome looked back at Sango. "We've covered that already, Sango-chan. I know he cares for me, but he has never made any promises to me like he has made to Kikyou. He thinks of me as a close friend only. Even though it hurts, I have to accept it. I have to accept that I will never have his heart or be any closer to him than I am now. He will never be my lover."

Kagome had tears in her eyes as she said it but almost laughed at the shocked look on Sango's face at hearing the word 'lover'. She decided to tease Sango a little more.

"Sango-chan, do you know how many times I've let him see me naked? He never reacts like I want him to. He just turns his head, all embarrassed and blushing, and acts noble or something by handing me his fire rat jacket to cover myself. He's never once tried to make a move if you know what I mean. I have given up on trying to seduce him."

Sango caught her breath and blushed even more, but did not comment, clearly speechless.

Kagome let her short lived amusement pass and sat quietly for a moment before adjusting her sitting position to face Sango more fully, moving slightly away from Inuyasha and taking her hand off his chest. They didn't notice his body suddenly tensing at the loss of her touch, rousing him from his unconscious state, or the fact that his eyes slowly opened a bit, hidden under his long dark eyelashes.

"Do you know what I said at the very moment that I removed Kikyou's arrow and freed him?" Kagome asked, not giving Sango a chance to answer before she continued. "I said, 'I choose to live.' And I have decided it is time to do exactly that. I'm going to feel more alive and I'm going to find a lover."

Kagome missed Sango's reaction beyond her initial gasp, because she suddenly heard Inuyasha make a choking sound and he rolled to his side, facing away from her in his sleep. She also thought she heard something fall in the bushes near the camp but she was too distracted with Inuyasha to pay it any mind.

Kagome noticed that Inuyasha was very tense and, not sure what was causing it, put her hand to his forehead and then moved it down to his cheek. He felt a little warm but didn't seem to have a real fever anymore. He was trembling and she thought he must be having a bad dream. She leaned over him slightly to get a better look at his face. His eyes were still closed so he was still asleep, she decided, much relieved. She was thinking about moving him farther away from the fire when Sango reclaimed her attention.

Sango had not known what to say for a moment as she blushed painfully. This was not a side of Kagome that she ever thought to see. "Kagome-chan…you cannot just… It is...wrong. I… it is not right to lay with a man that is not your husband…" She continued to blush scarlet and looked at the ground knowing that she did not sound convincing.

"Why is it wrong?" Kagome asked forcefully but in a low voice so that she would not wake Inuyasha. "We may die tomorrow and I feel like I've missed so much. I need it. What is so wrong with wanting to feel things…to share yourself with someone you care about? I'm not talking about sleeping with a stranger, you know. I want someone who cares for me…someone I care about."

Inuyasha became agitated in his sleep and Kagome turned her attention to him for a moment. She soothed his brow and face with her hand. His breathing was heavy. She thought he must be having a really bad nightmare. His eyes were tightly closed and his mouth was a tight line. He wasn't thrashing around so she thought he might be okay. She watched him a minute to make sure he was asleep.

Sango was breathing a little hard too, clearly agitated herself. "What are your plans?" she finally asked.

Kagome turned back to Sango, taking her hand off Inuyasha. "Well…I am not sure, but I've thought about this for a long time. All I know is this will be something very private, away from … everyone here." They both knew she really meant 'away from Inuyasha.'

"Are you sure you must do this, Kagome-chan. We will try to be more helpful to you… I don't think you should…."

Kagome paused in thought for a moment watching Sango. Her friend was upset and it had not been Kagome's intention to hurt or distress her. She wanted her to understand. The last thing they needed was conflict within their own group.

Finally she asked, "Sango-chan, do you want to die never knowing how a man feels inside you? Never experiencing the pleasure of his hands on your body? His mouth on your body? Do you know that Inuyasha is the only man I have ever hugged besides my brother and grandfather? Well, Miroku has sorta tried to hug me and Kouga has hugged me, but Inuyasha put a stop to it quickly. Anyway…I don't want to die without ever…knowing a man…feeling wanted…or feeling truly alive. It's not really just about sex, you know. I want to feel that closeness, that...connection to someone in a way I've never experienced before. I don't want to feel…alone inside anymore." Kagome stared at the fire.

Inuyasha's whole body made a jerky motion and a small sound escaped his throat. Kagome put her hand on his back and started to rub lightly up and down to soothe him. He became still again but he was still breathing fast. His hands clinched into fists in front of him as he lay facing away from Kagome but she didn't notice.

Sango was still shocked but also curious.

"Kagome-chan, I understand your feelings, but…" Sango blushed and glanced around nervously before continuing in a quiet voice. "I too feel lonely sometimes and I have… longings, but if you…lie down with a man…er… Aren't you worried about getting with child? You could not go into battle with us. We need you! And what will you tell Inuyasha if you become pregnant?"

Kagome smiled at Sango and said, "My mom put me on birth control a long time ago, Sango-chan. One look at Inuyasha was all it took." She almost laughed, quietly amused at that thought. "Anyway, I can't get pregnant unless I stop the birth control. I don't want to have a baby yet, and besides, I already have Shippou-chan." She really loved the little fox and would take care of him as long as she could.

At Sango's confused look, Kagome tried to explain, "At home, there are ways to prevent pregnancy. I go to a doctor and he gives me a treatment that prevents me from being able to conceive a child for three months even if I have sex with a man. The doctor uses a hollow needle to inject the liquid treatment under my skin and my body absorbs it. My mom took me to the doctor every twelve weeks to get the treatment until I was 18, but I decided to keep doing it on my own after that, so if something ever happened, I still wouldn't get pregnant. Inuyasha can't always protect me and I know rape is common here…"

Inuyasha made a small sound and Kagome turned to check on him again. After a moment she turned back to Sango who sat there mutely watching her.

Kagome shook off the sobering thought of rape and said, "Anyway, I kept telling my mom that she was wasting her time because I was waiting until I got married before doing anything like that. But now, I'm glad she taught me about that stuff and took me to the doctor because I've changed my mind about waiting." Kagome smiled at the other girl and continued. "So, no, I won't leave you. I still intend to fight along side everyone and finish our quest."

Kagome turned back to Inuyasha. She leaned over him slightly to look at his face. He still had his eyes closed but was very tense in his sleep. His lips were a tight line. She watched him a minute to make sure he was asleep. 'He wouldn't just lie there like that if he was actually awake,' she thought, 'especially if he heard any part of this conversation.' If he were awake, she was sure the bark would have peeled off the trees by now from his yelling and cursing which would all be aimed directly at her. He was definitely asleep, she decided.

She turned back to Sango and continued talking quietly. "And I don't see any reason to tell Inuyasha about this. It would be easier on everyone if he didn't know. In the long run it will not matter to him anyway…"

'No, it won't matter to him,' she thought, 'since Kikyou will drag him to hell with her eventually and Inuyasha will let it happen without one thought for me. He is irrational when it comes to Kikyou, and when the time comes for him to go, I'll need someone to help me through that.'

His body was shaking and she turned to look at him. She pushed his hair out of his face and began to stroke her hand through the long ebony strands like she would to comfort a child. His face was slightly wet and she thought he might be getting too hot from the fire and sweating a little from it or from his slight fever earlier.

Sango caught her attention again, but she kept petting Inuyasha's hair trying to give him comfort.

"He would know, Kagome-chan. He can smell everything, remember? Who would you be with anyway? Kouga? He would brag about it! Or do you already have someone else in mind?" Sango asked, keeping her voice low.

Kagome looked back at Sango, letting her hand drop from Inuyasha. "I haven't looked for anyone yet, but I have thought about it. I think I will choose someone from my own time. Houjou still likes me and I know other boys that might be willing to have a relationship with me. Anyway, I don't see how Inuyasha would know. I do bathe, you know. And besides, there are…things to prevent a man's…to prevent any…well, no body fluids from the guy I choose will be left inside my body, so there won't be anything to smell." She was thinking of condoms but did not want to explain it. "And regardless of that, he has no right to say anything. He doesn't own me and it won't affect my shard detecting."

Despite how jealous he acted when Kouga came around, Inuyasha had never said anything to her that would make her think he was anticipating a relationship with her after the quest was over. She'd have accepted anything he had offered, any hope that they could be together even if they had to wait until the jewel was complete and Naraku was defeated. But he never said anything. She thought, not for the first time, that if he wanted her and not Kikyou, then he should have said something way before now. She couldn't stay in this limbo, always waiting for Kikyou to drag him to hell. It was slowly tearing her apart.

She noticed her breathing had become as agitated as Inuyasha's as her anger rose. She sighed and tried to take control of herself, recognizing the bitterness creeping into her thoughts again. She had to rise above it. She tried to get past the pain and anger, and knew she had brooded on all this for way too long for one night. She was ready to end the conversation soon.

The two girls were quiet again for a moment, each lost in thought about their life and what they wanted. Inuyasha continued to lie tensely beside them.

Sango sighed then surprised Kagome with, "Can you bring back this treatment that prevents conceiving a child, Kagome-chan?"

Kagome's jaw dropped and at the same moment there was a crash in the bushes near the camp, like something fell over. Kagome looked around with concern.

Sango blushed profusely but looked defiant. "Do not worry, Kagome-chan. Kirara would alert us if there were danger nearby. I am certain that noise came from an animal." She sent an angry look in the direction the noise came from.

At the sound of her name, Kirara lifted her head at Sango's feet and did look in the direction of the noise, but she seemed unconcerned and, after a wide yawn, she dropped her head back down and closed her eyes. Kagome relaxed.

Miroku tried to slow his heartbeat and recover from his shock as he quietly picked himself up from the ground outside their camp, hoping the two women did not discover him, but knowing that Sango suspected his presence. He wiped the sudden sheen of sweat from his forehead with a shaking hand and listened intently for Kagome's answer to Sango's unexpected question.

Kagome looked at Sango intently for a moment before she answered with all seriousness. "There are treatments and stuff that I can bring back that will work but they will have to be used often to be effective. The treatment I received can't be brought back here. My mom chose it because it lasts three months and I don't have to worry about it, but a doctor in my time has to administer it. You'd have to use another treatment, but they work just as well."

Kagome did not giggle or do anything to embarrass Sango. She understood that the fear of having a child during these dangerous times was the real reason Sango thought having sex was 'wrong'. She knew this was hard for Sango to ask about. Heck, it was hard for Kagome to talk about and she'd been thinking about it for a couple of months now.

Sango thought for a moment and then asked Kagome, "Will you bring back the other treatments?"

Kagome smiled kindly. "Of course, Sango-chan. Inuyasha should be able to travel in the morning when he's back to normal. We can go back to the village and I can go home for a day or two and get it for you. We all need a rest anyway so it won't matter if I'm away for a little while."

No one had been seriously injured in their confrontation with Naraku's puppet earlier that night, but Sango did have some bruised ribs and Miroku had a few bruises too. They could use a few days to recover.

Kagome was glad that Inuyasha fought her less about going home now that she was out of school and stayed for longer periods of time on this side of the well. He made token refusals but usually let her go without too much of a fuss as long as it was no longer than three days, although he often came to get her after two, and sometimes even came with her. She didn't mind it though.

Sango smiled and said, "Thank you, Kagome-chan, for sharing your feelings with me and for… Thank you."

Kagome's smile widened to reassure the older girl and said, "Don't' worry about it. That's what friends are for and it did me good to talk to you about how I feel too."

They suddenly heard Miroku, quite near, whistling a happy tune as he noisily entered the camp. Kagome watched Sango's blush deepen but decided not to tease her about it. Kagome wondered at Miroku's jaunty step and the fact that he had only three small sticks in his hand.

"Where's the firewood?" asked Kagome suspiciously. "You've been gone an awfully long time."

He smiled innocently and said, "Er…I couldn't find any. We must have gotten all that was available earlier. I had to walk far from camp just to find this little bit."

Kagome wondered why he seemed so happy about it. She hoped he had not been listening because that really was a very lame excuse he was giving her.

He added the sticks to the fire and then leered at Sango who pointedly ignored him and readied her bedding with as much dignity as possible. Since this was so normal, Kagome's suspicions lessened and her attention went back to Inuyasha. He was still agitated in his sleep. She leaned over him and placed her hand on one of his closed fists and it suddenly gripped hers. It startled her and she thought he might be awake but his eyes were still closed. She gently tried to disengage her hand but he would not loosen his grip. She resigned herself to sitting up next to him for what was left of the night. The others settled into their bedding and prepared to sleep.


As the first rays of light crept over the horizon, Sesshoumaru noiselessly left his hiding place in a tree above the camp where he had watched them all night. None of the small group had detected him, but his sensitive ears had picked up all their conversations. He almost pitied the hanyou for not hearing most of the miko's discussion with her friend. Sesshoumaru had known the exact moment Inuyasha had woken up, just in time to hear the miko say she would take a lover…and it would not be him. Sesshoumaru stood high above the camp for a moment staring at Kagome where she had fallen asleep across Inuyasha's chest. A small smile played upon his mouth. He then abruptly turned and left the area.

oOoOoOoOoOoOoOo End Chapter 1 oOoOoOoOoOoOoOo

Author's Notes: This is a Kagome/Inuyasha story.

The only Japanese that I will use in this story are Japanese names, including proper names of places, things, and people, and names that they call each other, such as 'baka'. Also, I don't like the word 'demon' as a translation of 'youkai'. 'Magical creature' would be a more accurate translation, but since that would be cumbersome to write so often, I will just leave the word 'youkai' untranslated. If you don't understand a word, please ask me.

The manga is my main source for their characterizations, not the anime which has made several slight changes from the original print version of Inuyasha. I will however use the names from the anime that don't appear in the manga (Kagome's school friends and Kouga's two friends).

Also, please remember that the characters are older in this story and have been through a lot together. Kagome and Inuyasha have matured over the four years they have been together. I will try to keep them as close to the manga characterization as possible, but please be understanding if you think they are acting out of character.

This is my first story. I've never done this before so please be kind, but don't hesitate to give me pointers or constructive criticism. If you don't like the story, then just don't read it and please don't flame me. Thank you.