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

Special thanks to my friends, partners, and betas: InuSaga, Midoriko-sama (Ms. Fix-It), and Angelica Pierce, and our evil aid Inu-Hugger. I love you guys.

Thanks to the IY FanGuild for voting this story Best Canon of the Year (2005), Best Serial Fiction (1st Place for First Quarter 2006), and 3rd Place in the Best Drama category (First Quarter 2006).

Thank you to everyone who has supported me, especially to everyone who has emailed me and left reviews for this story. I appreciate all of you and am happy you took the time to give me your opinions and feedback.

This story was originally conceived and outlined in the fall of 2004 and takes place in the Canon Universe. It does not knowingly contradict any known Canon elements in the Inuyasha manga (Viz English versions) or anime (Viz English versions) published at that time.

Warning: Sexual content, adult situations, non-consensual tussling, lemon, lime, and stupid male youkai.No minors allowed. Read at your own risk.


What a Girl Needs

by SoutasSister

Chapter 14 -- What A Couple Shares


Inuyasha watched Shippou, who kept his eyes on Kagome's smiling face, as the boy slowly stood up to his full height. It was odd to see the kitsune looking down at her where she sat in front of him on the floor.

'Why did Shippou have to pull this shit tonight?' he wondered. Kagome would never leave the kit while he was upset and Inuyasha knew better than to just grab her and run away with her. There was no chance of getting her in the right mood tonight. All his plans were ruined. Damn it!

"You're taller than I thought, Shippou-chan. I bet the top of your head almost reaches my shoulders," Kagome said, still smiling brilliantly at the boy.

It was a wild exaggeration. Inuyasha figured that Shippou probably was only a little taller than her waistline and she wasn't all that tall herself. He watched as Shippou beamed at Kagome's praise and acceptance.

Inuyasha studied the kit. His face was pretty much the same and his hair might have been a little longer, but not by much. He wore the same clothes as he always had. Just like most youkai, his clothing was connected to his youki and grew along with him. His height was the most noticeable difference, and his arms and legs were much longer than before. His head didn't look so large on his body now. He'd probably never be as tall as Inuyasha, since in true form a fox youkai was smaller than a dog youkai, but he'd be taller than most humans in a few years.

It didn't bother Inuyasha that Shippou was actually growing. They probably should have questioned the fact that he hadn't been growing over the years, if they had ever thought about it at all. But Shippou's new appearance bothered Inuyasha nonetheless. It made him angry. He watched them inspect the boy, none of them at all concerned for Shippou, and he became angrier.

"No wonder you felt heavy, child. Your kitsune tricks have concealed many things, but your weight was not one of them," Kaede commented, chuckling.

"Yes, Kaede-sama, I believe I now understand why my shoulder stays sore all the time. You won't be hitching a ride there anymore, Shippou," Miroku admonished with mock ire.

That was it for Inuyasha. They really pissed him off sometimes. He stood up abruptly and left the hut.


Shippou was ecstatic that Kagome and everyone else accepted him without censure. He turned to face Kaede and Miroku when they spoke and gave them both a rueful smile. But before he could apologize for making them carry him, Inuyasha jumped up with a vicious growl and stormed out of the hut. They all heard him mutter something about 'fucking idiots' as he left.

"Inuyasha!" Kagome cried as she quickly came to her feet next to Shippou.

Sango grumbled, "What's his problem?" as they all watched the door-covering settle back into place.

Shippou dropped his eyes and hung his head. Just when he thought everything would be okay, Inuyasha had to make him worry again. He felt Kagome's hand on his shoulder and lifted his head again to look at her with sad eyes.

She gave him a gentle smile and said, "Don't worry, Shippou-chan. He's just in a grumpy mood tonight. I don't think he's mad at you."

"Kagome-sama's correct. None of us are angry with you, Shippou. You have actually impressed me somewhat if truth be told. It must have been difficult to maintain such an illusion, even as you slept. You will be quite powerful someday."

Shippou blushed at Miroku's praise. A tentative smile came back to his face and he felt Kagome squeeze his shoulder lightly in a comforting manner.

"You sure have grown in the last four years, Shippou-chan. Your little round face is longer, but you still look like you." Sango smiled at him. "It's a little strange to see you this tall, but I'm not angry either. I am curious though. What made you tell us now?" she asked.

His smile froze and then vanished. He blushed and dropped his eyes, but not before his fear of Sesshoumaru showed in them. Should he tell them? Sesshoumaru only said not to repeat what he said to Kagome, he didn't say anything about not telling why Shippou was punished. He shuddered just thinking about that energy whip flying in his direction.

"Shippou-chan? Are you okay?" Kagome asked, pulling him into a hug.

Shippou hugged her hips with his longer arms and buried his face in her stomach.

Miroku, who had also been wondering why Shippou suddenly decided to show them his real form, was about to voice his theory, but Kaede beat him to it.

"Mayhap a certain inu-youkai's persuasive methods have something to do with it?" she asked the kit.

Shippou's shoulders drooped even though his arms were still around Kagome. Now they knew, and Sesshoumaru might think he told them. Then he perked up a little when he realized he could use this to his advantage. Kagome would be even more sympathetic and kind to him if she knew about the abuse he endured from Sesshoumaru. He'd make sure she knew how horrible and painful it had felt.

His face was still pressed against Kagome's shirt so he adjusted his expression into what he hoped looked both tragic and fearful. He slowly pulled away from Kagome and lifted his large, sad eyes to meet hers. He trembled a little for effect, and tried to put a sob in his voice when he answered Kaede while still staring at Kagome.

"He...h-he said that he would make me d-disappear if I didn't show my real self."

"What? Sesshoumaru threatened you, Shippou-chan?" Kagome asked.

"He did more than threaten him, Kagome-sama. He...uh...stripped the hide off Shippou's posterior with his energy whip," Miroku said. "It seems spanking is not unheard of in youkai circles."

Shippou looked over his shoulder at Miroku's serene face with narrowed eyes. He could tell the monk wanted to laugh at him again. Kagome's shout startled him and he realized that his anger at Miroku made him forget to look tragic and he tried to school his features again, but apparently she hadn't noticed his slip since she wasn't looking at him.

"He did what?" Kagome yelled, staring at her adult companions. "And none of you told me about it?"

Her fury was scary, and Shippou secretly crowed at the thought that Sesshoumaru would feel her wrath. She was so mad she was shaking and her fists were clinched. Shippou silently cackled in his head. He was sure Kagome was going to show Sesshoumaru what it felt like to have someone whip his ass!

His thoughts were cut short when she grabbed his shoulders and pulled him back into a fierce hug. His head was squeezed tightly between her arms and her stomach, but he didn't care. He liked the attention and the fact that she was still protective of him even if he was getting big.

Their friends must have feared her wrath too, Shippou thought, because they all started talking at once.

"Uh, I'm sorry, Kagome-chan, but I, uh, forgot. It happened the day you left. Right after you left, actually. It seems so long ago really," Sango tried to explain, talking fast.

"Inuyasha brought him to Kaede immediately for medical attention, Kagome-sama. Shippou was completely healed by the next day," Miroku defended.

"Shippou himself admitted he said something to provoke the taiyoukai. Do not place blame where it does not belong, child," Kaede stated before the girl could explode.

Kagome seemed to calm a little. Shippou felt her body relax somewhat and her arms loosened slightly around his head. She rubbed his back in a comforting manner and then let her hands slide to his shoulders as she kneeled in front of him. He looked into her eyes, now almost level with his, and became both happy at the concern he saw and apprehensive at her questioning look.

"What happened, Shippou-chan? Why did Sesshoumaru punish you like that?" she asked.

Shippou realized that she knew as well as everyone else that it was a punishment. The method he used, spanking, was so obviously meant to be a rebuke for a misbehaving child and the physical damage had been mild enough for Shippou to heal within a day. The taiyoukai could have easily killed him and really made him disappear with little effort, so everyone was aware that Sesshoumaru's intent had not been to seriously hurt the boy.

Still, he didn't really want to tell Kagome why Sesshoumaru punished him. What he'd said about Inuyasha had not been nice, and right now, while looking into Kagome's concerned, caring eyes, he was ashamed to admit it. But he couldn't lie to her. Not when she looked at him like that. He sighed.

"I...he..." he started and then sighed again. "Inuyasha t-tried to use Red Tessaiga on your barrier and Sesshoumaru hit him. I was scared that he really hurt Inuyasha, but he was just knocked out, and then Sesshoumaru said Inuyasha was being stupid...and I laughed." Shippou hung his head and tried not to cry from shame. "And I said Inuyasha was dumb...and Sesshoumaru said I should have more respect and that...Inuyasha was smart or he wouldn't have survived this long."

"Shippou-chan..." Kagome said softly as she hugged him again. He buried his face in her hair hanging over her shoulder and continued to confess.

"He knew I was hiding behind an illusion and he said I was w-wasting my power when I should be using it to p-protect you. He said he wouldn't let me get away with it anymore." His breath hitched as he prepared for her censure.

"Shippou-chan, we—"

"I didn't m-mean it, Kagome! I'm sorry! I know Inuyasha's not dumb even if he d-does dumb things! And right after it happened, he said he'd protect me and wouldn't let S-Sesshoumaru hurt me again... I didn't mean it," he defended in an effort to avoid her disappointment that he was sure was coming.

"Shhhh, it's okay," Kagome said, holding him a little tighter. "We know you didn't mean it. We all say things we don't mean, Shippou-chan, but what's important is what we feel inside and that we're there for each other when it counts. Inuyasha calls you names too, but he would never let anyone hurt you if he can prevent it. You know that, Shippou-chan, and he knows you feel the same way. It's okay. We forgive you."

Shippou's arms had been hanging loosely at his sides within Kagome's embrace but he lifted them and hugged her back when he heard her say he was forgiven. He was once again grateful for having her and everyone else with him, but especially her. She loved him and understood him like no one else ever had, except maybe his parents. He hadn't wanted anything to change, but maybe Sesshoumaru was right and he should be using his power to protect the people he loved so that they would always be together. That way, even if their lives went through changes, their feelings for each other never would. Maybe showing himself was a good thing after all.

"You say he told you to respect Inuyasha, and that Inuyasha was smart?" Miroku asked, unconcerned for any name-calling on Shippou's part, but obviously curious about Sesshoumaru's words.

Shippou nodded. He didn't want to explain anything else so he didn't make any further comment. He knew Sesshoumaru planned on taking Rin as a mate, and he knew that Sesshoumaru wanted Kagome and Inuyasha to be mated.

Shippou wasn't dumb either and he'd figured out that someone, or several someones, would have to help protect Rin, and Sesshoumaru might want Inuyasha to be one of those someones. Sesshoumaru may not like Inuyasha but everyone knew he was good at protecting Kagome, so why not Rin too? And Kagome must have agreed to it since it would mean that Sesshoumaru and Inuyasha would be allies, which would also mean they wouldn't get to fight each other ever again.

But Shippou didn't want to tell Miroku any of that because he was still afraid of Sesshoumaru and he'd been told to keep his mouth shut.

"Are you sure he said that, Shippou-chan? It doesn't make sense," Sango said, also not fussing at him for his disrespect.

Shippou thought about it for a second. They had all become pretty informal around each other over the years and bickering and name-calling were just part of being a close-knit group. Sesshoumaru had made him feel like he'd betrayed Inuyasha in the worst way by calling him dumb, but maybe Kagome was right. Maybe it was what they felt for each other inside that counted, and he'd never want Inuyasha to be hurt even if the hanyou was a baka sometimes.

"Shippou-chan?" Sango prompted and drew Shippou out of his thoughts.

"Uh, yeah. He said I needed to say 'Sesshoumaru-sama' and to show respect for everyone in his bloodline. He said Inuyasha was just impulsive and didn't have experience, but that I shouldn't think that it means he's not smart. He said I could learn from Inuyasha," Shippou said. He didn't want to tell them anything else. Sesshoumaru might get mad again if he found out.

"That is...most interesting," Miroku mused with a perplexed frown.

Shippou looked up at Kagome with pleading eyes. He didn't want the others to ask any more questions and he had guessed that Sesshoumaru wanted her to keep all that stuff between them secret too. Kagome took the hint.

"It's late. Why don't we all go to bed now? It's been quite a night and you must be tired, Shippou-chan."

His first yawn was exaggerated and fake, but he was surprised when it was immediately followed by a real yawn that almost cracked his jaw. Kagome giggled.

"I guess that means, 'yes,'" she said, smiling at him.

"I suppose you are right, Kagome-chan. We can talk more tomorrow. And this is the second night in a row that Shippou's antics have kept me awake," Sango agreed with a mock glare at Shippou.

He gave her an apologetic glance. "I didn't mean to," he defended.

She laughed. "It's okay, Shippou-chan."

"Yes, we do need rest now, however we are glad that you have trusted us enough to reveal yourself, even if you were coerced. Is there anything else we need to know?" Miroku asked, his eyes twinkling at Shippou to let him know he was teasing.

"N-no," Shippou answered, nervous because he knew about Sesshoumaru's plans and wasn't allowed to tell everyone.

He turned to get in Kagome's sleeping bag and missed Miroku's suspicious look.

The fire had died down again and, after Sango and Kagome accompanied Kaede to the bushes, everyone settled back into their sleeping places, except Kagome. She sat next to Shippou, petting his hair in a soothing manner. He was finding it hard to stay awake now that all the confessions were over and he felt so relieved.

The last thing he heard before sleep claimed him was Kagome whispering to him, "I'm going to go check on Inuyasha."


Inuyasha heard Kagome coming out of the hut and jumped silently out of the tree to meet her. He knew she was going to ask him all kinds of questions and, even though he was still in a very bad mood, he wanted to be near her and answering a few questions couldn't possibly make his mood worse.

Before she had a chance to say anything, he offered her his back and said, "Get on."

She did as he asked, and he shivered at the feel of her knees gripping his hips and the silky skin of her thighs against his palms. He had ignored it as best he could in the past – well, maybe not ignored it but he'd at least kept his hands still – but now that he'd been privileged enough to actually touch her skin in places he'd only dreamed of before, he was hypersensitive to any contact he had with her and couldn't stop himself from indulging.

Kagome settled into place and Inuyasha ran to the edge of the quiet village and leapt into one of his favorite trees. She was silent until he had them seated on one of the higher branches of a tree. She had blushed the whole time he was carrying her on his back because he kept rubbing his hands up and down her thighs and squeezing them. She wasn't sure if it was on purpose or just an absent movement on his part, but she liked it even if it was embarrassing. She wasn't really sure why she was embarrassed since he had touched much more than her thighs just that morning, but it didn't help that he'd sat her in his lap once they were in the tree. She'd never sat in his lap like that before. They had sat in trees to talk plenty of times but they usually sat next to each other on the branch.

Inuyasha pulled Kagome into his lap and waited several seconds to see what she would do. She tensed up slightly but didn't tell him to put her down. Feeling more confident, he pulled her back against his chest and wrapped his arms around her waist. When she didn't immediately protest, he moved one hand to her rib cage directly under her breast.

Kagome caught her breath and whispered, "Inuyasha?"

What did he think he was doing? They were in a tree! She wished she wasn't facing away from him because she wanted to see his face.

Inuyasha stilled his hand when she said his name. Her hands came up to hold his anyway, so he didn't think he should move them any further up. He hadn't meant to start something like that with her at the moment, but he couldn't help it since he now knew what it felt like to touch her in that way and they hadn't been alone together since their time in the well that morning.

He sighed and nestled his nose into her thick hair that fell over her shoulder. He sat back up quickly when he smelled Shippou's scent all over her. It reminded him that he was angry. He growled.

"Inuyasha?" she asked again. Kagome didn't understand him.

"Why did you let the runt rub his face all over you? He probably got snot and spit in your hair."

Kagome giggled. She couldn't help it. His voice sounded so grumpy and what he said was rather funny in a gross sort of way.

"He just needed a hug, Inuyasha. We all need a hug sometimes," was her mild reply as she squeezed his arms in a comforting gesture. She relaxed into his lap more and leaned her head against his shoulder.

He didn't reply and they both stared at the almost full moon for a few minutes.

"Why are you so angry?" she finally asked, her soft voice showing no reproach, only concern.

He shifted his position a little under her, but he didn't answer her question, and after patiently waiting several more minutes, she said, "Are you going to talk to me?"

He sighed. She'd figure it out sooner or later. He thought he might as well tell her now. He whispered his confession.

"I took his fish."

She didn't know what he was talking about. "I don't understand."

He growled, "I stole his food, dammit! Did you see how fuckin' skinny Shippou is now? I did that to him!"

Inuyasha couldn't see Kagome's surprised expression but he heard her swift intake of breath. His ears drooped. Now she would be mad at him, but she couldn't be angrier than he was with himself.

But rather than condemn him, she told him firmly, "That's ridiculous! Shippou is not emaciated, Inuyasha, and he's never gone hungry because of you!"

She turned sideways in his lap to look at his face. He unconsciously kept his hands on her middle to keep her from falling.

"He's a stick figure! And I take his food all the time! I didn't know he was growing like that or I wouldn't have done it, but I did take his food and it's my fault he was fuckin' deprived!" he hissed, glaring at her.

"Don't be a baka! He is not deprived and you did not do anything to him! You don't take his food unless he's had at least two helpings, and most of the time he only fights you for it because he likes to make you mad. Almost all boys go through a lanky stage while they're growing up. Souta looks skinny too, but I promise you he is healthy and so is Shippou! They are just growing taller faster than they are filling out. Stop blaming yourself for things that aren't even a problem!" she told him forcefully, becoming angry with him but not for the reason he'd anticipated.

"But he's so bony—"

"You were bony too when I first met you, Inuyasha, and I don't think being pinned to the God Tree for fifty years had anything to do with it. You're taller now and you've filled out, and that's exactly what will happen to Shippou," she interrupted him.

He still looked troubled so she repeated herself with less force. "He's okay, Inuyasha. He's a growing boy and most young boys -- girls too -- go through a skinny stage. It's normal. You haven't done anything wrong, so stop thinking whatever you are thinking about it."

They stared at each other for a moment, his eyes still anxious and hers determined not to let him blame himself for something he was just imagining.

He finally let the breath he was holding slowly leave him and relaxed his shoulders. 'She might be right,' he thought. Souta was on the thin side and Inuyasha knew for a fact that he never went hungry. In fact, he'd seen how much Souta could eat and if Souta could eat enough to feed a horse youkai in one sitting and still not gain weight, then maybe Kagome was correct. Maybe Shippou was just in a skinny stage and it didn't mean he was deprived of food.

Thinking about it, Inuyasha realized that Kagome had been rather thin when he first met her too. But she filled out in all the right places over the years. He liked her rounded hips and full breasts, and her long, shapely legs….

Suddenly Shippou was the furthest thing from his mind as his hand wandered up toward her breast.

Kagome had watched all the emotions pass over his face. There was doubt, then tentative acceptance, and then something altogether different. Something that made her skin tingle in private places.

"Inuyasha," she whispered as she felt his hand move over her body. Even on top of her clothes, his touch was affecting her.

He had so wanted to be mated to her by now and alone with her at his hot springs. Part of his anger had been frustration since he knew he'd have to wait to take her there because of Shippou's revelation. Kagome wouldn't leave with him if Shippou needed her.

But...Shippou was asleep now. And maybe they could still slip away if he could get Kagome in the mood. He was already in the mood and had been for years. 'Damn, she smells so good,' he thought, as he kissed her neck.

She relaxed even more and tilted her head to allow his lips better access to her skin. He tasted her, allowing his fangs to graze her earlobe, then moved further down her neck to suck gently on her soft, vulnerable skin. She moaned and the sound went straight to his groin. He finally allowed his hand to cover her breast while letting his other rest lightly on the swell of her hip just below her waist, holding her in place on his lap.

Based on Sango's and other women's reactions to Miroku's touches on their butts, and also on Kagome's assertion that Miroku's touches were inappropriate, Inuyasha didn't think he was allowed to move his hand lower than Kagome's hip bone.

But that didn't matter to him when he had her breast in his grip. He trembled at the weight of it and its softness even though he couldn't feel her skin. He wanted to feel her skin. He lightly squeezed her again and then moved his hand down to the bottom edge of her pajama shirt. Feeling bolder, he didn't even hesitate to move completely under her shirt and glide his fingers over her stomach and back up to her breast. She didn't have her bra-thingy on, and the feel of the hard-tipped nipple against his palm sent a surge of desire through him.

Kagome hadn't protested – her soft moans actually sounded like encouragement to him – but just in case she was thinking of stopping him, Inuyasha covered her mouth with his own and initiated a hard kiss. She didn't pull back and he felt the thrill of knowing she wanted him just as much as he wanted her…well, maybe not as much as he wanted her, because he wanted her more than anything he'd ever wanted in his entire life, but at least he knew she wasn't opposed to him wanting her. He realized he wasn't thinking straight and concentrated on just feeling instead.

They were both breathing hard. He felt her hand slide up to the back of his head to hold him closer and deepen the kiss. He moaned and accidentally tightened his hand on her breast, his blunt claws putting pressure on her sensitive skin. He was surprised by her sound of pleasure and the way she pressed herself against his hand even more. His erection was straining against his pants and he pulled her tighter against it, enjoying the friction.

One of her hands burrowed into the front of his haori and undershirt to caress his chest and he shuddered when her fingers grazed over his nipple. His blood was roaring in his ears along with the sound of Kagome's accelerated heartbeat. He could feel her breathing heavily, her chest rising to push her breast into his adoring hand with each breath she took. He was too excited again, he knew it, but he couldn't help it. Even if he lost it and came in his pants, he couldn't help it and he wouldn't regret it. She did this to him. She made him feel like this…like he was falling….

He was falling!

If he hadn't still had his mouth over hers, Inuyasha was sure that Kagome's scream would have woken the whole village. Thankfully she'd been silent by the time he twisted them in mid-air, trying to save her from impact. He'd ripped the buttons right off her pajama shirt in an effort to get his hand and arm free so he could keep her from getting hurt. As it was, he'd only been able to clutch her shoulders and head tightly against his chest before they landed. And he found that the hand that had been on her hip now gripped her round bottom tightly; he suspected that his claws had really dug into her soft flesh too much even though they didn't break her skin.

He suddenly realized that he liked holding her bottom even if it was not allowed. He understood Miroku a little better now. Touching her there was wonderful.

But now that he thought about it, he remembered that she had touched his butt -- gripped it even -- the first time he had tried to claim her and they were kissing, before she put the barrier around the well and went back to her time. He had liked her touching him there too. Maybe it was okay to touch her bottom like this but only if they were kissing. He'd think about that later, he decided.

At least he'd landed on his feet when they fell and he'd absorbed most of the impact with his knees. She seemed to be okay, which was really all that mattered to him, even more than the thrill of touching her in inappropriate places.

Her hand, which had been holding the back of his head lovingly during their kiss, had become tightly gripped in his hair during their fall and he gritted his teeth at the pain. His eyes watered too, but he wouldn't acknowledge that, even to himself. Her other hand had a death-grip on the front of his haori and she was shaking all over.

They were both still breathing really hard and he could feel her heart beating even faster than it had when he'd kissed her. His own heartbeat was rather fast but it wasn't from the fall. He stood still and held her, hoping she wouldn't be too upset by their little mishap and that she might be willing to continue their kiss and let him hold her bottom for a little longer.

She suddenly untangled herself and pushed away from him, and Inuyasha was disappointed to see her expression. He could tell from the look on her face that she wasn't thinking about kissing him again. However, her face only kept his attention for a moment. He kept glancing down at her open pajama top, catching glimpses of her cleavage each time her lungs expanded.

Kagome just stared at him for a second, trying to get her panting under control and stop her brain from spinning. She raised the heels of her palms to her eyes and tried to calm her nerves. Her chaotic thoughts tumbled out her mouth without her permission.

"In a tree! A tree, Inuyasha!" she hissed. "This is your fault! I can't think straight when you touch me and you know it! We fell out of a tree! We could have been killed!"

Inuyasha sputtered defensively, "I wouldn't let you get hurt!"

He stared at her exposed breasts. Her pajama top had gaped open when she'd raised her arms. He couldn't concentrate since the view made the blood leave his brain and head south again.

She put her fists on her hips and her shirt fell almost closed again.

Inuyasha brought his eyes back up to her face as she harshly whispered, "That's not the point! You distracted me with kisses on purpose! You made me forget where we were! What if someone saw us! You know I can't resist you and you took advantage of it!"

He replied, "I did not!" with just as much heat, but then exactly what she'd just said registered with his brain. He stared at her with his mouth hanging open, stunned. "What did you say?" he finally asked.

Kagome's eyes went wide as she too realized what she said to him. Her hands flew to cover her mouth for a moment as she watched his mouth form a cocky grin. The grin turned her embarrassment into anger even though she could tell that he was embarrassed just as much as he was pleased by her admission. At least she wasn't the only one blushing.

But then she saw his eyes drop to her chest and she looked down at herself too. She gasped. Raising her arms had made her shirt gape open! No wonder he'd turned into a grinning idiot!

"You're as bad as Miroku!" she accused while grabbing the front of her shirt to hold the two sides together and cover herself completely.

That knocked the grin off his face. "I am not! You're the one showing yourself right in front of me! I didn't look on purpose!" he lied.

Inuyasha looked like he wanted to bite his tongue off for saying that, but it was out there between them already. Denying that he looked at her on purpose was a habit for Inuyasha and, although Kagome was aware he was lying, it still made her angry.

They were both angry and embarrassed now. The mood was definitely gone.

"I'm going back to Kaede's and I'm going to sleep," she informed him, straightening her posture and trying to seem unaffected even though she knew it was too late to act dignified.


"I'll see you in the morning," she interrupted him, backing away from his hand as he reached for her. She turned and walked very fast toward Kaede's hut, feeling her face burning with embarrassment and his eyes on her back the whole way.

She'd wanted to talk to Inuyasha about so many things, like the change in their relationship and their future, and to tell him about Sesshoumaru's real motives. They needed to talk with each other about all that stuff. But his kisses were so new, exciting, and distracting…and now her pajama shirt was ruined and they'd had another argument. She sighed as she neared Kaede's hut, her pace slowing.

Well, at least he didn't have any doubt about how she felt about him. At least, that was out in the open, she thought. Except she didn't say she loved him…but, good grief, he had to know that already, didn't he?

And he did look on purpose! The liar wanted to see her body just as much as she wanted to see his. She grinned to herself as she entered the hut.

Inuyasha let her go without trying to stop her. Despite her anger, a small smile played on his lips. She'd said she couldn't resist him. Everyone had told him that she loved him too. Maybe she did.

He hopped back up into the tree once she disappeared into Kaede's hut, his smile still in place. He'd let her rest tonight, but tomorrow, she'd be his. He just had to wait a few more hours.

He remained alert, watching over the hut, until almost dawn, when thoughts of Kagome in his arms lured him into a light sleep and an erotic dream.


Sesshoumaru was displeased.

His brother slept in a tree, smelling of lust and lack of control as usual, and the miko slept in the old woman's hut. This was unacceptable. The miko would hear of his displeasure immediately.

Distracting his brother was entirely too simple. He merely stood at the far end of the human village, allowed his youki to relax its hold on his scent and aura, and let the wind do the rest. He heard his brother's profanities a few seconds later and knew his plan had worked. He pulled his youki into himself again, masking his location, and moved faster than eyes could detect to the old miko's hut. His brother was in need of additional training too, but today it was the miko's turn.

While Inuyasha was looking for him in the trees beyond the last hut, spewing foul language and dire threats, Sesshoumaru stole Kagome away and whisked her far into the forest toward an old camp site fairly near to where Rin, Jaken, and Ah-Un awaited him.

She'd been startled at first, and complained that she was not dressed yet, that it was too early, and that she was still sleepy, but soon enough he'd detected resignation in her posture. She did not struggle or scream as they sped across the treetops like a flash of light. He didn't like her calm. He meant to shake the calm from her very soon.

They landed in the clearing. He turned immediately and strode away from her, giving himself room to attack.

"I didn't get a chance to grab my bow and arrow," she grumbled, giving him the impression that she found him annoying. He was prepared to be more than annoying.

"You don't need them," he stated just as he pulled out Toukijin and sent a small blast of energy almost directly at her.

Kagome shrieked and dove out of the way, landing hard on the leaf-covered ground. Waking up fully, she turned her head to stare wide-eyed at Sesshoumaru as she pulled herself back to her feet.

"What is the matter with you?" she shouted. "Are you trying to kill me?"

"You will learn to defend yourself, just as my brother did, or die," he stated calmly, waiting for her to react.

Kagome didn't know if she should be scared for herself or angry for what Sesshoumaru had done to Inuyasha over the years. In her head, she mimicked Sesshoumaru's voice, giving it a high, effeminate quality, as she remembered how he had said, 'I can teach you to use your miko power.' Was this his 'teaching' method? Was this why he attacked Inuyasha all those times? She didn't like his 'learn or die' style.

"You willfully defy me. My brother remains unmated."

Her eyes widened. Was he crazy? Before she could reply, he raised his sword again. She barely dodged another blast, which knocked down a small tree and forced another involuntary scream from her. She was becoming more angry than scared though, and she made herself concentrate on what he wanted her to do, what she had to do – defend herself.

The next blast was blocked with a quick barrier. It was weak and visible and she made it too large, but it protected her nevertheless. She tried to run behind trees, blindly attempting to elude his attacks. Did Inuyasha ever feel this almost helpless rage when facing Sesshoumaru? Did he react wildly out of anger and fear too?

"You are a liability," Sesshoumaru said, goading her.

On some level, she knew he was deliberately provoking her, but she couldn't help but rise to his bait. Fear that she couldn't save herself – or anyone else – crept into her thoughts. She knew she was reacting uncontrollably and irrationally to both his physical and his emotional attacks, but it was so hard to think! He might really kill her!

She ran faster, trying to go deeper into the trees, but he was always there! He moved quicker than she could see! What should she do? She was panting with fear and praying that Inuyasha would find her.

As if reading her thoughts, Sesshoumaru taunted, "It is obvious you cannot save yourself. My brother and his other humans have kept you alive, have sustained injuries to save you. You are useless."

His statements came too close to her own self-recriminations and feelings of inadequacy for her not to be affected by them. She could hear Kikyou's voice in her head repeating those same words. Were they right? She began to panic.

She turned to run further away but a tree fell in her path and she saw the movement of Sesshoumaru's energy whip out of the corner of her eye.

She caught her breath and remembered what he had done to Shippou with that thing. She remembered what he had done to Inuyasha just yesterday. But she had saved Inuyasha yesterday. Sesshoumaru saw her do it too. He knew she wasn't useless, the jerk.

She became angry again. Not the emotional, raging type of angry, but rather the cool, calculated angry. The I'll-show-you type of angry. It made her feel more in control and allowed her to focus attention solely on her antagonist.

She would show him. Hadn't she just spent almost two weeks trying to overcome her insecurities? Hadn't she learned a lot in that time? Learned about herself and her abilities? Hadn't she saved Inuyasha using nothing but her own miko power just yesterday?

She would not let Sesshoumaru use her self-doubt against her now. It was time to pay him back for what he did to Shippou physically and for everything that he'd done to Inuyasha.

Sesshoumaru sensed the miko's emotions as he pushed her to react. He began to think she would not be useful in protecting Rin if she panicked and ran blindly from danger. He didn't anticipate her sudden about-face or the surge of anger and power aimed at him until it was almost too late. It singed his hair and burned his handless arm as he moved out of its direct path.

It pleased him.

Now she would show her true worth. At last he would teach her to think under pressure to remain in control of her emotions no matter the circumstances.

She'd been through many battles but he'd observed that Inuyasha always took care to keep her out of the thick of it as much as possible. She'd become dependent on the hanyou and others for protection.

But now, finally, Sesshoumaru would change that. The miko would learn to depend on herself for protection. She would become the protector.

He blocked the next ball of energy with Toukijin, then sheathed his sword and used his energy whip to lash out at her head. She didn't duck or run, but the whip didn't touch her. It flailed against her barrier before he reined it in. He redrew Toukijin and sent another blast of power at her. She disappeared from view, hidden behind a barrier, and only instincts allowed him to avoid a direct hit from her miko energy. He nearly smiled.

Kagome was determined to knock the snot out of Sesshoumaru. It was her personal goal for the day. He had her dodging and running, getting creative with her barriers, and still she couldn't get the upper hand. She vaguely realized that, in the last ten minutes, out of necessity she had learned to keep a concealing barrier tightly around herself as she ran, just like Kikyou did when she seemed to materialize out of no where. In the back of her head, she was proud of herself, but she didn't have time to think about it.

Instead, she thought about how to knock the snot out of Sesshoumaru. She wanted to wipe that superior look right off his face. She racked her brain for another ten minutes, scheming and plotting while she ran and threw energy in his direction, huffing and puffing her way through their battle. And she thought she finally knew exactly how to do it too. She had a plan.

Last night, she had used four safety pins to keep her pajama shirt from flapping open after Inuyasha had ripped the buttons off while pulling his arm out from under it. She kept her barrier up and moved behind a tree to quickly remove the last safety pin and straighten the metal out some. She kept her own barrier in place while she concentrated on imbuing the pin with some of her power. Then she took off running again, holding it tightly in her fingers, keeping it ready, while throwing out weaker blasts of energy toward Sesshoumaru with her other hand.

She ran toward him in a random pattern, still within her barrier and invisible to Sesshoumaru, trying to get as close as possible. She knew he could somehow sense her general location so she needed to confuse him. If this didn't work, she'd have to ask him for mercy, because she couldn't run much further without collapsing. She was sucking in air through her mouth in huge gulps and her side hurt. She knew she just had a couple of minutes of physical energy left.

With great effort, she ran to the left, retaining her barrier, while flinging the safety pin as far to her right as she could. Luck was with her when the point of the pin stuck in a tree and the power she'd pushed into it flared out around it into a barely discernable barrier.

Sesshoumaru turned his attention to the other barrier and Kagome rushed at his side. She was tired and breathing heavy from her exertion. She knew she didn't have the experience to keep drawing on her power as she'd been doing and already she felt drained of it, but she pushed everything she had left into both her hands and pointed them palm-out at Sesshoumaru.

It happened so fast. He'd turned his narrowed eyes toward her safety pin distraction. She'd desperately run toward him, hands poised to let loose her power. He'd somehow sensed her behind her barrier, his head jerking back in her direction. Almost, he looked surprised. And in that split second, she released it.


"What use are you? The bastard grabbed her right in front of your fuckin' faces! You let him skip his merry fuckin' way right into the damned hut and take her!"

They'd heard it for over an hour now. At first, they'd tried to defend themselves and beg forgiveness. Even Kaede had apologized. Later, they'd gotten angry and tried to argue with him about the unfairness of his accusations. Now they just remained glumly silent and let him vent his frustration and anger, noting that his youkai markings were appearing again very faintly on his cheeks.

Shippou had stayed with Kaede, unwilling to go near Sesshoumaru again and seeming less concerned than the others thought he should be for Kagome's safety and virtue. Sango and Miroku rode on Kirara's back while they followed Inuyasha. The hanyou made his way through the treetops trying to follow Kagome's scent and cursing worse than they'd ever heard him before.

If they didn't know how scared Inuyasha was for Kagome, and if they didn't feel guilty for 'allowing' Sesshoumaru to take Kagome – even though they'd only seen a blur pass through the hut and only realized she was gone after it was too late – they might have taken offense at Inuyasha's shouted insults. As it was, they just endured them and prayed they found Kagome and that she was okay.

"A damned houshi, a taiji-ya, two full youkai, a trained miko, and not a bit of fucking help when it counts!"

They continued to silently follow the raving hanyou deeper into the forest.


Sesshoumaru blinked open his eyes. He could see the limbs of trees high above him and realized that he was flat on his back on the ground. He could smell the acrid stench of burnt skin and hair, and recognized that the offensive scent was coming from his own person. He registered the fact that at least two of his ribs were broken. Several other aches and pains made themselves known when he moved, preparing to sit up slowly.

He grit his jaw tightly shut to keep from showing any clue that he was in agony. Sesshoumaru hadn't felt pain like this since Inuyasha discovered the wind scar at an inopportune moment. Perhaps it was not as bad as Tessaiga's punch because he would surely recover from these injuries within a few hours, but the miko could do considerable damage when provoked.

He was assured once again of his own infallibility and wisdom in seeking the alliance with her. She would be formidable protection for Rin.

Instinct caused his eyes to flare red and he sat up quickly to turn toward a noise nearby. He growled loudly before he recognized the miko. She froze at the sound, her eyes impossibly wide as they locked with his.

He relaxed his guard and his eyes returned to normal. She'd torn the sleeves off her shirt, he noticed. That must be the sodden bundle she carried in her cupped hands. She suddenly smiled and rushed toward him again. He ignored the pain his movements caused and was on his feet just as she reached him.

"I'm so glad you're awake! I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to hurt—"

He cut off her apologies by abruptly placing his hand over her face and pushing her to the ground. He loomed over her, standing straight, his head held upright, and glared down his nose at her shocked face.

"Do not approach a downed adversary. Finish him off or leave the area. Never purposely place yourself within his reach. It endangers yourself and those you protect."

The miko had momentarily bested him. He knew it, but he would not admit it to her. He'd underestimated her. He'd been lax in his defenses. Perhaps she'd learned more during the years by Inuyasha's side than Sesshoumaru gave her credit for. She was clever, but she still had much to learn. He frowned his disapproval of her compassion toward him with narrowed eyes. Compassion could get her killed.

Kagome stared up at the jerk in front of her, her mouth open in shock. He'd pushed her down! She was trying to help him and he pushed her down!

The sight of him flying through the air and hitting that tree had scared the breath out of her. And then the tree broke from his impact and he'd hit another tree too. She'd run to him, ashamed that she'd purposely done that to him. It scared her that she could do that to him!

When he didn't wake immediately, she'd run to find help, which she'd quickly realized was stupid since they were in the middle of no where. She'd stopped in the center of the old campsite they'd first arrived at and tried to think of a plan to help him. In the quiet of the clearing, she'd heard the sound of running water and ran to it. She'd sacrificed her pajama sleeves to bring back wet bandages to help his burns and the jerk pushed her down!

Somehow, it made her angrier than when he was blasting her with Toukijin. There was something insulting about it.

He didn't even hurt her, but she didn't think he wanted to physically hurt her, just humiliate her. It was like he was taunting her with the fact that he could hurt her if he had wanted to, but did her the great favor of choosing not to.

He even took care not to press his palm against her nose, which might have hurt. He simply pressed the pads of his four fingers to her forehead and the pad of his thumb to her chin and exerted enough pressure to make her fall backward…right on her butt.

Kagome wished she had the gumption to call Sesshoumaru some of the names that Inuyasha called him. She was spitting mad. He had the gall to look down his nose at her in that imperious fashion when she's the one who had knocked him on his butt not ten minutes past. Gods! He was…he was…he was a jerk!

She closed her mouth with a snap and stared back at him. She formulated the heated words she wanted to say in her head. She would singe his ears off! She looked at his little pointed ears just thinking about it…and realized one of them was singed. Her mouth fell open again.

She had to bite the inside of her cheek suddenly to keep a giggle from escaping. The tip of one of his ears looked a bit crispy which struck her as hilarious for some reason. And his hair above the ear had a small patch missing with only some silvery white stubble showing. His sleeve was torn, exposing his scorched shoulder and bicep. He looked ridiculous striking that I-am-taiyoukai-and-you-must-fear-me pose. She bit the inside of her lips to keep her laughter in. She forgot why she wanted to yell at him and his poor little singed ear.

Instead, carefully controlling her voice, she said, "Your fluffy fur thingy is over there in that tree. I couldn't reach it. You'll have to get it yourself."

His eyes narrowed in a menacing fashion.

She cringed away from him still trying to keep the smile off her face and almost thinking he'd changed his mind about hurting her, but then he turned abruptly and marched – as well as a person can march with a slight limp – toward his fur thing. She thought she heard him say something about 'insolence' and 'deserves the hanyou' as he moved away from her, but she didn't ask him to repeat it.

If she hadn't noticed how tightly he held his jaw, she might have giggled out loud. But she realized he was in pain and she was responsible for it. She sobered and sighed. She really hadn't meant to hurt him like that. He actually looked like he was healing really fast, much faster than Inuyasha, but it didn't make her conscience feel better. He was a jerk but she didn't think he deserved to be hurt like that.

Kagome watched him stiffly retrieve his fur then continue walking toward the clearing. She scrambled to her feet and followed him, leaving her wet sleeves behind her.

Sesshoumaru was enraged yet again by the impertinent miko. She would not be cowed! She had the gall to mock him! Pointing out that he'd lost his moko-moko due to her successful attack. It was insulting. If she hadn't been so successful in her attack, he might have killed her on the spot. He forcefully reminded himself that Rin's safety was his ultimate goal, no matter what he must endure to ensure it.


"Inuyasha, I believe I just felt a strong release of spiritual power in that direction," Miroku shouted while pointing slightly right of the direction they had been traveling. "It is faint and quite a distance, but perhaps we should investigate it."

"You better fuckin' pray it was Kagome and she's alright, Bouzu," was all Inuyasha said as he turned, never slowing his pace.

They trailed behind him.


"You promised you wouldn't hurt me or anyone I care about—"

"Are you injured, Miko?"

Kagome glared at his back as they walked toward the clearing and then turned her head to the side with anger. Making her run for her life and chasing her with Toukijin's blasts wasn't exactly healthy for her! She could have been seriously hurt! But the jerk knew she was okay, so she pressed her mouth into a tight line to keep from calling him childish names.

"Aren't you going to take me home now?" Kagome asked instead after a moment hoping she didn't sound too petulant.

He didn't answer for a moment. She almost stuck her tongue out at his back, but she was afraid he would somehow know if she did that, so she kept her mouth tightly closed.

"You learned much in your absence, Miko. Who taught you?" he asked, startling her.

"I taught myself…and I found a scroll that described how to make barriers. I practiced everyday," she told him after a moment.

"Your practice has been productive. Continue it."

She supposed that was the closest thing to a complement that she would ever hear from him, and despite her current jumbled emotions and anger toward him, she felt pride that he even said that much.

She followed him back into the clearing where he promptly sat on one of the logs arranged around the center where a campfire had once burned. He managed to look regal even with his sleeve still torn and his hair rather messy, she thought. She sat facing him on a log about six feet away but she really just wanted to go back to Kaede's.

"Will you take me home now?" she asked again.

He didn't reply, but instead studied the trees to her left and then to the right with narrowed eyes. She glanced both ways but didn't see anything so she looked back at him.

"What?" she finally huffed, just to break the tension. She wished she hadn't spoken because his eyes suddenly shifted back to her and it unnerved her. He didn't say anything though.

She watched him glance to the left again and then reach into his haori to retrieve something. His voluminous sleeve hid it from her view as he placed it in his lap and seemed to adjust it with his one hand. Then, when he held it up for her, she wished she still could not see it.

"Oh, my Gods! How did you get that?" she nearly shouted, covering her face with both hands.

"The monk showed it to Inuyasha and the hanyou tossed it away when the taiji-ya approached. For some reason they both fear her," he replied, his voice indicating his disgust of Miroku and Inuyasha's cowardice. "I retrieved it after they left."

Kagome let her elbows rest on her thighs and hung her head, her hands still covering her face.

"I should have known Miroku would get his hands on that book sooner or later," she muttered.

"You will explain the purpose of this ritual," he ordered.

Kagome lifted her head slightly and peeped through her fingers to see what he was talking about. It was the picture of a woman performing oral sex on a man. Kagome's mouth fell open in shock and embarrassment. She dropped her hands and scowled at him, planting her fists on her hips even though she was still sitting.

"Why are you asking a nearly nineteen-year-old virgin to explain about…about…stuff like that? Haven't you had a few centuries to learn about…about…things?" she asked, her mortification making her voice sound both angry and shaky.

"I am not ignorant or without experience, Miko."

He said it like it was something that should be obvious since he was such a superior creature, and Kagome narrowed her eyes at his conceit.

"However," he continued, "human mating rituals have never been of any interest to me. You told the taiji-ya that this would help her learn about joining with the monk. The monk said these pictures were instructional for intimate relations between human mates. Rin is human. I must be prepared to accommodate her. Explain this ritual," he commanded again as he held up the book.

Kagome covered her face with her hands again and slumped her shoulders. 'Why me?' was her first thought, but then she sat up straight as his words registered. She quickly stood up, her expression stern.

"You will not touch Rin for at least six more years! Do you understand me?" she yelled while pointing her finger at him to emphasize her point.

He lowered the book to his lap and narrowed his eyes at her. Sesshoumaru stared at her a moment and Kagome thought for a second that he was going to push her down again, but then his posture seemed to relax just a little and he asked, "Why? She will be of age in two summers."

"No, she won't. I don't care if it is customary here to marry off girls in their early teens; it's not good for them," she said, in full lecture mode. "A human girl's body does not completely mature until she's about eighteen years old. If she has children before that, she might never reach her full height potential because her body will support her babies' growth and not her own."

She ran through more arguments in her head, ready to champion Rin's right to grow up completely before being confronted with the challenges of marriage or mating and motherhood. If Sesshoumaru was anything like Inuyasha, she knew she would have to pound the facts into his head before he got it.

Lucky for her, Sesshoumaru was not like Inuyasha. Life experience and several rather unfortunate encounters with a younger brother he'd wholly underestimated had made Sesshoumaru more cautious in recent years. Once the bitterness of the situation had passed, losing an arm to someone he'd considered inferior in every way had forced him to reevaluate his ideas about himself and the world around him. He thought about things much more thoroughly than he had in the past. At that moment, Sesshoumaru thought about what the miko was telling him.

He had little experience with humans, especially young human girls besides Rin, but he acknowledged to himself that if the miko was an example of the physical maturing process, then she had a valid point.

He remembered what she had looked like four years ago when she'd challenged him in his own father's tomb while giving Tessaiga to Inuyasha. She had been shorter and rather skinny. Comparing her physical appearance now to what she had been then proved there was quite a contrast. Today her figure was womanly and rounded in appealing proportions. He was not attracted to her personally but he understood that she was a desirable human female…when she was not speaking.

Rin had grown over the years too, but even as her face narrowed and shed its childish shape, her body thinned out too, and looked much like the miko had appeared those few years ago. He would want Rin to mature as the miko had and develop a lovely figure too. Perhaps he should wait for Rin to grow into her full womanly body before he mated her and started a family.

"Are you listening to me, Sesshoumaru?" Kagome asked when he just sat there staring through her.

"It is of no matter. I will have her for eternity. A few years waiting will not signify," he finally replied. 'Besides,' he thought to himself, 'the miko has the means to prevent human conception and pregnancy. Rin need not have children before six years have passed if I change my mind later.' He didn't share that thought with Kagome.

Kagome deflated. She'd won? Just like that? She looked at Sesshoumaru closely and narrowed her eyes. He was a calculating jerk, wasn't he? She much preferred arguing with Inuyasha, who let his thoughts spew right out of his mouth during a verbal confrontation. Sesshoumaru was tricky and she was sure he wasn't telling her everything, but with his expression so blank she couldn't begin to guess what he was hiding.

"Well…good. Just so we're clear on that," she said awkwardly, lowering her hand back to her side.

It suddenly occurred to Kagome that Sesshoumaru knew what she told Sango the day she gave the sex book and other items to the girl. Apparently, he also knew what Miroku told Inuyasha when they had the sex book. He seemed to be hanging around a lot watching them and it made her angry all over again.

"And another thing! Stop spying on us! It's just creepy!" she hissed. "How do you do it without Inuyasha knowing anyway?"

"Just as you have learned to manipulate your miko power, including holding it near your body to form a barrier, taiyoukai can keep their power wrapped closely around themselves to mask their scent and youki. Neither Inuyasha nor the monk can sense me unless I wish it," he told her with no regard to her anger.

She thought about that for a moment. That would be a useful skill when hunting Naraku. "Can Inuyasha learn to do that? And Shippou?" she asked.

"Inuyasha knows how to manipulate his power by channeling it through Tessaiga much as you channel your miko power through your arrows. Father's blood is strong in him, but I don't know if he has the ability to control his powers so precisely as I. The kitsune shows powerful potential and kitsune are natural illusionists. He should have some level of masking ability in time," he stated before raising the book again so that she could see the picture, reminding her that he'd asked a question about it.

"Explain this ritual now," he commanded yet again.

She groaned again and looked up, away from the book. 'Please, please, please don't make me have to answer that,' she silently begged the Gods.


He could smell her wonderful scent! She was just ahead of them; he was positive of it. Just a little further and he'd see her. He pushed himself to run a bit faster.

She was there, standing in the middle of a clearing. He burst from the tree line and skidded to a halt in front of her, noticing for the first time that that damned bastard was sitting there near her.

"Kouga?" Kagome whispered as she turned to face him, her eyes wide.

Kouga enveloped one of her hands in both of his large ones and grinned widely, not taking his eyes from her lovely face as Sesshoumaru stood up with a low growl.

"Kagome, I've missed you," he said, and he meant it sincerely.

She smiled brightly at him and lunged forward to hug him. He grinned over her head as his arms automatically rose to hug the girl in return, and said, "Hey, she hugged me!" to the youkai lord, who had taken a step toward them.

Kagome suddenly released Kouga and, to everyone's surprise, she turned to hug Sesshoumaru and gushed, "Thank you! I didn't think you would revive him when I asked you, but you did! Thank you!"

She stepped back, beaming at the stoic inu-youkai, who had remained unmoved during her hug and had a slight look of displeasure on his face. Before he could reply, Kouga grabbed Kagome's arm and pulled her around to face him again.

"You asked him to save me, Kagome?" he asked, incredulous. His mouth was open and his eyes were wide with awe and something else.

The glittering emotions in Kouga's eyes made Kagome nervous. "Uh, Kouga-kun, uh…" she began, but he interrupted her.

"You begged this bastard for my life?"

"Well, it wasn't like—" she started to say while Sesshoumaru let out another growl, but the wolf youkai continued talking.

"You really do love me, don't you, Kagome?" Kouga stated more than asked. "You would have been my woman!" He grabbed her hand and held it between his own again, his shining eyes staring into hers intently.

"Uh, Kouga-kun, I, uh…" Kagome tried to find words to explain how wrong he was without hurting his feelings too badly, all the while trying to tug her hand away from his. Kouga was sweet and had such passion for whatever had his attention at the moment, but she had to let him know that she didn't feel the same passion for him. Unfortunately, she didn't get a chance to continue.

"Do not try my patience, wolf. This Sesshoumaru can send you back to the underworld if I so choose," Sesshoumaru said as he grabbed Kagome's wrist and yanked her out of Kouga's grip. He pulled her behind him as he glared down at the shorter youkai. "She will not be yours."

"You knew she loved me!" Kouga yelled. "That's why you made me promise to give her up!"

"Uh, Kouga-kun, I don't—"

"Are you renouncing your pledge to me, wolf?"

"Hell, no! Unlike you dogs, I have honor! But you're an underhanded, dirty bastard for making me promise that!"

"Um, guys—" she tried to interrupt again.

"Perhaps you are not an acceptable ally after all. Perhaps I should—"


They all turned their heads in the direction of her shouted name.


Inuyasha was shocked when he'd heard Kouga's voice ahead of him. That voice could not possibly belong to the dead wolf. But Kagome's voice called Kouga by name and as he leapt from the treetops to land near the three people in the clearing, Inuyasha's eyes confirmed what his ears had told him. Kouga was really there and alive again. The fuckin' shit.

He'd heard enough to know that Kagome had asked or, according to the wolf, 'begged' Sesshoumaru to revive Kouga. The bastard had used Tenseiga apparently but he had also somehow forced Kouga into a promise to stay away from Kagome. By the looks of things, Sesshoumaru and Kouga were fighting over her like she was some kind of fucking possession or prize. It infuriated the hanyou to the point where the stripes on his cheeks darkened and his eyes flashed red.

She'd accused him of wanting her as a possession or a prize in a competition with Sesshoumaru just a couple of weeks ago, when he'd first told her he wanted her as a mate and that he wouldn't let Sesshoumaru have her. She'd completely misunderstood what he meant when he'd said Sesshoumaru's interest in her was like the situation with Tessaiga. She'd been so angry with the comparison that she'd sat him and run away. But now these two bastards were treating her worse than an old 'sword', as she'd put it, tugging her back and forth between them – and she was just standing there letting them? What the fuck?

He stared at the group in the clearing, seething with confusion and anger. It made him mad with jealousy that Kagome had asked Sesshoumaru to revive the wolf in the first place. Did she really love the wolf, as the fleabag had claimed? So much that she would beg his asshole brother to use Tenseiga?

And did Sesshoumaru want Kagome so much that he would do as she asked…but for a price? Is that how Sesshoumaru forced Kagome into whatever agreement they had? Did she promise to mate Sesshoumaru if the fucking asshole brought back Kouga's life, even though she would not be able to be with Kouga if she kept her promise to Sesshoumaru? The damned bastard apparently made the spineless wolf promise not to interfere if he mated Kagome too. So Kagome was trapped in a promise to mate Sesshoumaru while loving Kouga…. Inuyasha's gut wrenched inside his body at the thought.

But wait…. Didn't Kagome kiss him, Inuyasha, just last night and allow him to touch her in intimate places? That didn't make sense. If she was to be mated with Sesshoumaru, Kagome wouldn't have done physical things with him. He knew her well enough to be absolutely positive of that…well, almost positive…maybe.

He was unsure of everything again, but he was damned well going to get some fuckin' answers from Kagome and he'd kill any bastard that tried to stop him.


"Inuyasha!" Kagome cried when she saw him.

Sesshoumaru stopped speaking mid-sentence and, as Kagome glanced at him, she thought his eyes seemed to light up in anticipation, almost gleefully if such a thing was possible. Most people would not have spotted the subtle emotions in his expression, but she knew that look from all the times he had taunted Inuyasha recently, goading the hanyou for a reaction.

Had Sesshoumaru known that Inuyasha was headed this way? He had been looking around like he was expecting someone, she thought. Had he known that Inuyasha would arrive on the scene right after Kouga? He was up to something, that was certain. Her stomach knotted and all she could think of was, 'Oh, no. Here we go again.'

She glanced back at Inuyasha, who was frozen for an infinitesimal moment at the edge of the clearing, his brows low and eyes narrowed as he took in the scene before him. She was alarmed at the sight of Inuyasha's youkai stripes that were quite visible on his cheeks. From his point of view it would look like Sesshoumaru and Kouga were fighting over her. She mentally groaned and opened her mouth to reassure him that that was not the case, but before she could speak Sesshoumaru yanked her behind him, out of Inuyasha's view.

She caught her breath and yelled, "Hey, stop—" but Sesshoumaru interrupted her.

"What do you want, hanyou?" he asked like he had no idea why Inuyasha had come.

"Mutt-Face! Don't let this asshole take my woman!" Kouga shouted while grabbing her other arm and pulling her back into Inuyasha's range of sight.

"Sesshoumaru doesn't—" she began to explain, but Inuyasha was suddenly upon them, knocking down Kouga and pushing back Sesshoumaru. Both of them released her wrists immediately. Then his impact with her knocked her breath away for a second or two. He'd moved so fast, she was swept up in his arms before she could even blink.

"Take her and run, dog-breath! Don't let your bastard brother have her!" Kouga yelled again behind them as Inuyasha jumped back into the trees, rapidly gaining speed and putting distance between them.

Kagome frowned and glanced up at the hanyou who carried her. His ears had swiveled back to listen to the wolf youkai's last shout and his jaw was tight. He looked absolutely furious, especially with those stripes on his cheeks. That wasn't good, Kagome thought. Inuyasha was never going to believe her when she explained that Sesshoumaru didn't really want her. Even Kouga had the wrong idea about what Sesshoumaru wanted. How was she going to convince Inuyasha that he was mistaken?

She watched the blur of green treetops pass by with unfocused eyes. There wasn't anything she could do until he stopped moving. She sighed and relaxed against him and waited to see where he would go. She already knew that talking to Inuyasha while he was in this state would do no good.


Kirara landed in the clearing just as Inuyasha leapt away with Kagome. Sango gasped at the sight of a very alive Kouga getting to his feet and at what he yelled to Inuyasha. Before she could react, Hakkaku and Ginta ran huffing and puffing into the clearing from the opposite direction.

"Kouga! We heard Kagome-nee-san!" Ginta shouted as both boys skidded to a halt next to the circle of logs in the middle of the clearing.

"Inuyasha took her," Kouga told them and then turned to Sesshoumaru. "Don't even think of following them, dog-shit! She may not be mine anymore, but I ain't letting you have her either!"

Sesshoumaru gave Kouga a deadly look, but he didn't have time to reply before Miroku urged Sango to follow Inuyasha.

Miroku agreed with Kouga and knew that Sesshoumaru should not be allowed to interfere with Inuyasha and Kagome, so he thought it best to follow them and protect the couple from the taiyoukai.

Kirara had barely managed to rise a few feet from the ground when she gave a loud roar and dove down and to the side, toppling the couple on her back. She'd had to dodge Sesshoumaru's energy whip as it crackled menacingly in her face, blocking her ascent. She landed roughly on the ground next to Sango and Miroku, the latter rolling swiftly away from Hiraikotsu which barely missed his head in the tumble. They all rose quickly to their feet, battle ready, and faced Sesshoumaru.

"You will not follow them."

"We won't let you follow them!"

Miroku and Sesshoumaru had spoken at the same time.

Sango and Miroku looked at each other, both confused by the situation. Didn't Sesshoumaru know that Inuyasha had every intention of claiming Kagome as his own as soon as physically possible? If Sesshoumaru wanted Kagome, he'd be out of luck if Inuyasha mated her first, wouldn't he? They looked back at the taiyoukai.

"You will allow them to be alone for as long as it takes them to mate. This Sesshoumaru will not tolerate interference again."

He was eyeing them like they were irritating insects, his brows lowered slightly as if he found the sight of them distasteful, and his posture was subtly threatening. They knew he was deadly serious.

"Wh—what?" five voices asked at once.

Kouga looked at the human couple, their shocked expressions much like his own, and realized that he wasn't the only one who didn't understand what the hell was going on. Was Sesshoumaru giving mutt-face time to claim Kagome on purpose?

Miroku spoke up first. "You have changed your mind about taking Kagome-sama as a mate then? You will not fight Inuyasha on this?"

"This Sesshoumaru has never desired the miko as a mate and has never made any statement regarding such," he replied, looking down his nose at them all.

"Yes, you did! You told us in Kaede's hut over a week ago that you wanted Kagome!" Sango yelled, taking a step forward and hitching Hiraikotsu a little higher in case she had to use it.

Kouga spoke up too. "You made me promise to leave her alone! Why else would you do that unless you wanted her, dog-shit?"

Sesshoumaru merely raised an eyebrow, but his expression said better than words that he thought they were all idiots. Kouga was growling and he was tense, ready to spring.

Sango gritted her teeth and took another step forward, but Miroku put his hand on arm to halt her. She looked at him but he was looking at Sesshoumaru with an intent look.

Miroku spoke, disrupting the tension in the air. "When you said you understood your father and that you would appreciate a human mate, you were not speaking of Kagome-sama?" he asked carefully.

Sango realized that Sesshoumaru had never actually stated that Kagome was the human mate he wanted, but he sure as hell implied it in her opinion. She tightened her mouth even more in her anger.

"The miko has always belonged to my brother. His scent-claim has been on her for years. Any intelligent youkai would recognize it," Sesshoumaru stated while shifting his eyes to Kouga.

Kouga had the grace to blush, and sputtered, "You bastard! It ain't official until Kagome accepts! She's fair game until then!"

"Only an imbecile would think she would leave my brother."

Miroku and Sango glanced at each other, silently agreeing with the taiyoukai while Kouga sputtered in outrage.

"Why you—"

Kouga didn't get a chance to demonstrate his prowess in a battle of wits or otherwise with Sesshoumaru because Ginta, who had been quietly occupied with Hakkaku over something for the last several minutes, startled them all by suddenly exclaiming, "Ahh! She's biting him! Why would he let her do that?"

Four sets of eyes, five if Kirara was counted, turned to the wolf youkai pair.

Ginta and Hakkaku had found the sex book that Sesshoumaru had left lying on the log where he'd sat earlier. They had been shocked speechless, heads together and mouths hanging open, for a few moments as they flipped though the pages looking at the pictures. They didn't even notice that everyone was looking at them, or rather the picture on the cover of the book they held, or that Sesshoumaru was giving them his most intimidating glare as they continued making comments about the pictures.

"Did you know it could be done like that?"

"No! Humans must think about this a lot if they figured out so many ways to do it. No wonder there's so many of them!"

"I still don't understand why he's letting her bite his—"

Sango had felt the color drain from her face and then rush back causing her to blush scarlet. She froze and stared wide-eyed at the book in the two wolf youkai's hands. She didn't even realize she had raised her hand and was pointing at them until she heard her voice interrupt them with, "That's my book!"

Kouga looked over at the taiji-ya and then back to the arousing picture on the outside of the object in Ginta and Hakkaku's hands. This belonged to the taiji-ya?

"What the hell are you two looking at?" he demanded, completely distracted and forgetting about his argument with Sesshoumaru as he stepped over to his friends and yanked the book out of their grasps.

"Koooouga!" they whined, "We're still looking at it!"

Sesshoumaru's rare snorting sound wasn't even noticed or that he seemed to suddenly lose interest in the lesser beings surrounding him as he turned to walk slowly out of the clearing. Everyone else was focused on the book currently in Kouga's possession.

Kouga's awareness had been instantly focused on the item in his hands. His wolfish eyes had already widened, all the better to see it with, and his ears perked up, all the better to hear the blood pumping through his tingling body, and his mouth dropped open, showing his big canine teeth. He turned the pages of the strange scroll, his hands shaking slightly at the sight of each picture revealed.

By the Gods, the pictures looked so real! The bare skin and erotic poses were making him feel light-headed and rather edgy. This weird, bound scroll was amazing! It was the most astonishing and wonderful thing he'd ever laid his eyes on.

And the taiji-ya said it was hers?

Kouga's awestruck eyes slowly rose to look at Sango over the top edge of the scroll. He really looked at her for a moment. He'd always been so focused on Kagome that he barely spared her companions a passing glance. But now he noticed that she was actually very pretty. She was almost as pretty as Kagome even. Her face was quite pleasing and so was her figure in that tight-fitting leather armor she wore. Her attire was almost as enticing as those short skirts Kagome wore. And now that he thought about it, she was damned handy in a fight too. She could hold her own in battle alongside the best of them, which meant she had some brains too. And she was loyal. She'd stuck with mutt-face for years, helping protect Kagome.

She was pretty. And strong. She was smart, too. She'd been loyal to both her friends and her brother. She was a very useful sort of female to have around. She'd make someone a good mate.

And this unbelievable scroll belonged to her. An idea suddenly took form in his brain.

His face lit up and he broke into a broad, suave grin as his eyes locked with Sango's.

He watched her eyes widen and an even deeper blush grace her lovely skin. She must be flattered by his attention, he thought. His grin grew bigger.


Miroku had been hesitant to call Sango's attention to himself because he dreaded her questions about how the book fell into the wolf youkai's hands. He'd stood there, watching her quietly, for the short moment since she'd declared the book belonged to her. He was aware of her awkward shifting from foot to foot, her deep blush, and that she lowered her hand back to her side once she realized she was still pointing at Ginta and Hakkaku.

But a prickling sensation along the back of his neck suddenly alerted Miroku to danger and forced him to remove his focus from his intimidating fiancé. He quickly looked around and realized what threat was looming before him.

Never in his life would Miroku have been able to understand the depth and intensity of Inuyasha's rage each time Kouga came around if it had not been for this minuscule moment in time. He froze, feeling both the need to impale the wolf with his staff and the need to shove Sango behind Kirara, away from the wolf's hungry gaze. How dare that damned pervert look at his Sango in such a manner?

He suddenly remembered to breathe and realized he could not skewer the wolf nor shove Sango, so he opted to instead step between the wolf and his Sango in order to block the youkai's view of her.

Miroku almost wished Kagome had let Inuyasha kill the wolf at some time in the past since said wolf's attentions had currently shifted to his woman. He glared with a steely calm gaze at Kouga, confident in the fact that there was no subduing necklace around his own neck and no one would save the wolf from his Kazaana if the youkai decided to get too friendly with Sango as he had been known to do with Kagome.

"Houshi!" Sango hissed behind him. "Explain to me how my book crossed paths with Kouga! You did take it, didn't you?"

Miroku closed his eyes and searched his mind for a plausible rebuttal to her accusation. Finally he decided to just act clueless and he turned around to face her.

"How would I know how he got it, my sweet Sango? What would make you think it was me?" he asked trying to sound perplexed and innocent.

"Don't lie to me! You took it and you won't convince me otherwise!" she glared at him, enraged.

He thought fast. "Um, I think I recall Inuyasha saying something about a monkey taking a book." He glanced over at Kouga who still held the book and said, "I do believe he was correct."

"You're the monkey, Houshi! I can't believe I felt sorry for hitting you last night! You…you….pervert!!" she yelled as her fist collided with his jaw and knocked him back on his butt.

Miroku shook his head to clear it and touched his aching jaw. He was sure he did not look his best at all since the black eye Inuyasha had given him several days ago was undoubtedly a sickly yellow-green in color by now and he was sure this fresh blow would leave a blue bruise by nightfall. Still, he needed to rise and soothe Sango's nerves as best he could. Fortunately, he was born with a smooth tongue as well as manly good looks. He sighed and started to rise, only to be knocked over again suddenly.

He looked up from his position on the ground and saw that Kouga's broad back was blocking his view of Sango.

"Helloooo, Sango. We've never had a chance to talk, have we? Did you know I've always admired your strength and grace? You'll be my new woman."

Rage shook Miroku. He reached for the prayer beads covering his Kazaana. Nothing would save the wolf now, he thought…except that Sango was right on the other side of the wolf and would be sucked into his wind tunnel too. He looked around for his staff and saw it several yards away. He'd let go of it when Sango hit him and it had flown further than he thought. Damn it! He rose to retrieve it.


Sango's mouth opened in shock. She was acutely aware of everything about the handsome wolf youkai in front of her. His beautiful blue eyes staring intently at her. His smooth, tanned skin tightly covering a lean, muscled frame. His gleaming white teeth revealed by his appealingly confident grin.

But most of all, she was aware of how Kagome must have felt flustered and sweetly flattered by such intense interest aimed so ardently at her all those times Kouga presented himself to her. Being on the receiving end of the full force of his charm was not only flattering, it also caused Sango's stomach to flutter and her skin to tingle in strange places. She definitely understood Kagome a little better now. Sweet Kagome would never have wanted to hurt anyone's feelings, especially someone who looked so sincere and determined, and made her feel so appreciated and desirable.

But Sango wasn't Kagome. Kouga was very appealing; that was quite true. But he couldn't be sincere, could he? He'd claimed to love Kagome for as long as they'd known him and yet here he was looking at her, Sango, with such passion and eager dedication. No, Sango wasn't Kagome. She was made of sterner stuff and had years of practice rebuffing the houshi. She narrowed her eyes at him.

"Your woman? What happened to your love for Kagome, huh? You're just as bad as the houshi! Jumping from one woman to the next!" she yelled.

"Wait just a minute," Kouga said, his face shifting to shocked anger. "I do love Kagome! But I can't have her, so there's no use wasting time thinking about it. She'll always have a special place in my heart, but I love you now, Sango!" He smiled at her again, his anger gone instantly. "We'll make a great team, and you'll be good for my pack. They'll respect a strong woman like you."

His confidence and utter belief in what he felt and that his feelings would be returned was amazing to behold.

Sango stared at him in a near state of awe. Just like that? Just like that he could decide that he loves her? And sincerely believe it himself? The strange thing was that Sango believed him too. She was convinced he actually meant what he said and really did simply decide that she was the one he should love now.

He tossed the book to the ground behind him, much to Ginta and Hakkaku's delight, and took her free hand in both of his. "You're my woman now, Sango," he told her rather proudly and with what looked like genuine feeling in his eyes.

'Damn, it's hard to say 'no' to such heartfelt declarations,' Sango thought. He said these things with such conviction! And he didn't grab her butt or let his eyes lose contact with hers at any time. He was looking at her like he could to see her soul in her eyes and like he admired everything he saw in their depths. It was a bit overwhelming as well as flattering, but still…. She again felt a deep understanding of Kagome's previous reactions to the wolf youkai. She sighed and tried to do what needed to be done as gently as possible.

"Kouga, I am very flattered, but I can't be your woman," she started, but he interrupted her.

He laughed like she was just being shy or something, and said, "Of course, you can! You're better than most humans, aren't you? You're the perfect match for a prince like me!"

His smile was both cocky and hopeful at the same time as he gazed down at her. She felt the full force of that smile and the rough charm behind it. She couldn't seem to stop gawking at him.

Sango's respect for Kagome's handling of the wolf over the years increased immediately. It wasn't that Sango wanted to be with Kouga any more than Kagome ever had, but he was just so darned sincerely decisive and endearing with his bold declarations, and so unshakable in his belief that she would return his feelings that it was hard to deny him what he wanted and hurt him.

She realized what Kagome must have known long ago: Kouga was completely sincere about his feelings of the moment. He was being totally honest at the time he declares them. He truly believed he loved her at this very minute. What he felt at any other given moment was up for debate, but at this very second, he really did think he loved her.

Did all youkai live in the moment like this? No, she supposed they didn't since Sesshoumaru was very much a planner, and for all his impulsiveness, Inuyasha had long-term plans too. Only Kouga seemed to be so…so…immediate in his thought processes.

It wasn't that Kouga was a bad guy, because his kindness and help over the years has certainly proven that he was a good person. But he wasn't the person Sango wanted, especially since she was his second choice behind Kagome. She opened her mouth to let him down easy.



'Sweet Buddha, that felt good!' thought Miroku, smiling smugly and still gripping his staff with both hands as he looked down at Kouga sprawled on the ground.

"What is the matter with you, Houshi? Have you lost your mind?" Sango yelled.

"Kouga!" Ginta and Hakkaku yelled, dropping the book and running to him.

Miroku looked at Sango with surprise. She was angry? Why?

"Yeah, bouzu! I was talking to my woman! Why'd you hit me?" Kouga asked while rubbing the back of his head. He sat up and his friends hauled him up to his feet. Taking an alert stance, he asked, "You lookin' for a fight?"

Miroku looked back at Kouga, his eyebrows lowering in renewed anger. Yes, he was looking for a fight! He was going to murder the wolf here and now, not only for himself but for Inuyasha too. Gods, he never felt more empathy for his hanyou friend than he had in the last few moments since Kouga turned his eyes to Sango.

"Kouga, are you alright?"

'What?' Miroku thought anxiously, looking back at Sango again. She's concerned about Kouga? He'd have to kill the wolf quickly. This very minute. He pulled out ofuda to—


"What are you doing, Houshi? Were you going to use those on poor Kouga? What is the matter with you?"

Miroku gazed up at Sango's pretty face, his vision slightly blurred from the blow she'd given him with Hiraikotsu. He was flat on his back on the ground with his ofuda scattered around him.

'Why?' he wondered. Why do women protect 'poor Kouga' like that? Why did Kagome use the subduing spell on Inuyasha when the wolf came around? Why did Sango suddenly defend the wolf after years of indifference? Why? What secret did the youkai have that turned every woman into his champion?

Miroku wanted that secret. He needed that secret. He wanted to use the secret on Sango so she'd look at him with those big eyes of hers that projected sympathy and something else at the wolf just now. He'd have to force the secret out of Kouga before he killed the youkai.

"No need to defend me, Sango. I could have taken him in a fair fight. But it's good to know my woman is so strong anyway."

Miroku sat up and swung his staff at Kouga's legs. Unfortunately, the wolf had a very keen sense of danger and le

apt over the weapon at the last moment.

"Whoa!" he said. "Don't you know when to stay down, monk? My woman can knock you out faster than you can blink, and I can do worse than that if you keep being a pest while I'm wooing her!"

Wooing her? Buddha help him, but the wolf was dead!

Miroku surged to his feet screaming, "She's not your woman!" and ran at the wolf, his staff swinging wildly.

"Ahh! He's crazy!" yelled Ginta backing away from him along with Hakkaku.

"Houshi!" Sango cried with anger right before she tripped him.

He landed face down, sprawled on the ground with the breath knocked out of him from the hard impact. Miroku could feel the heat of her glare on his back.

"First you steal my book and lie about it, and now you attack poor Kouga! I don't know what has gotten in to you, but I'm not putting up with it! I can still change my mind about taking those pills Kagome brought me! You can think about that while you walk back to the village!" she hissed while leaning over him.

"I like a feisty woman! You're the perfect one for me!" he heard Kouga enthuse.

"Uh, Kouga, I, um, I have to go now," Sango said in a rather breathy voice.

And then Miroku heard a whooshing noise that he knew was Kirara taking flight. His heart sank as he realized that Sango had left him lying in the dirt.


Inuyasha seethed with anger, not daring to look down at the girl in his arms as he continued running through the treetops. He kept thinking about what Kouga said and how Sesshoumaru had been acting the last two weeks. Sesshoumaru and Kouga definitely wanted Kagome. The question was, did Kagome want one of them and had Sesshoumaru already made her promise to be his mate?

He really couldn't believe Kagome would betray him like this…but doubts plagued his mind. He would never have believed that Kagome would go looking for someone to have sex with in her time either…but she'd told Sango that she would. And even though everyone insisted that Kagome loved him and not anyone else, Kagome herself had never told him that, not even when she let him touch her like only a mate should.

Over and over he heard the wolf youkai's words, confirming that Sesshoumaru wanted Kagome as his own. Over and over he remembered Sesshoumaru's assertion that he would 'value' a human mate, and how Sesshoumaru had held Kagome's arm and said straight to Inuyasha's face that he would have the mate of his choice and there was nothing Inuyasha could do about it.

He was confused again. He wasn't so sure that he really knew what Kagome would and wouldn't do anymore. He couldn't stop thinking about how Kagome had just stood there and let Sesshoumaru grab her arm like he had a right to put his hand on her. She'd let that arrogant bastard pull her away from Kouga even. Kouga! If Inuyasha had ever thought about anyone taking Kagome from him, he'd always pictured Kouga as the only threat to worry about. Since she always defended the wolf, Inuyasha had very pronounced insecurities about her feelings for Kouga. That bastard had always been Inuyasha's worst nightmare when it came to fears of losing Kagome to someone else.

Sure, there was that Houjou guy in her time that brought her gifts, but Inuyasha could sometimes see annoyance in Kagome's manner when she spoke with that boy. Of course, he would never let his guard down and the boy was still on his Don't-Let-This-Bastard-Near-Kagome list, but Houjou was definitely below Kouga as a threat. Still, the human had certainly given Inuyasha fits of jealousy in the last week because Kagome was over there in her time without Inuyasha acting as Houjou-repellent, especially after Kagome had said those things about not wanting to be virgin to Sango.

No, only Kouga and Houjou had ever been serious problems where Kagome was concerned, at least in Inuyasha's mind.

But then Sesshoumaru came into the picture. Never in his wildest imagination did Inuyasha ever think that Kagome was in any danger from an amorous Sesshoumaru. It was unlike anything and everything Inuyasha knew about the bastard. Sesshoumaru being competition for Kagome just wasn't even a possibility…until the last couple of weeks. Who would have predicted it?

But Sesshoumaru had somehow eliminated Kouga as competition for Kagome. How had he done it? And how had he gotten Kagome to agree to it? Again, Inuyasha thought that maybe Kagome wanted Kouga to live so much and that her feelings for the wolf were so strong, that maybe she promised to be Sesshoumaru's mate in return for Sesshoumaru reviving the wolf.

If that bastard Sesshoumaru had to take a human mate, then he'd want the best human female he could find…and there was no one better than Kagome. Dammit.

Inuyasha gritted his teeth. It didn't matter what Kagome promised Sesshoumaru. Inuyasha would fix that for her. She wouldn't have to keep any promises if Sesshoumaru was dead. And even though she cared for Kouga so much that she would agree to Sesshoumaru's terms to revive the bastard, Inuyasha would fix that too. He'd make her forget about the shitty wolf.

Kagome cared for him too. Inuyasha knew she did. She liked it when he kissed her and touched her, didn't she? There's no way she could fake her aroused scent. Her scent encouraged him to touch her. She was asking for it! So even if she didn't love him, Inuyasha knew she cared for him and wanted him, and he'd just have to touch her and kiss her until all her care and want turned into love…even if he had to hold her down to do it.

A grim smile formed on his lips. He finally looked down at the girl in his arms only to see that she had fallen asleep. The hard look in his eyes softened a little at the sight of her.


She woke when Inuyasha, who had been silent through the whole journey, started cussing.

"The bastard was going to use my hot springs to mate her? That fuckin'…"

Kagome tuned out the rest of his tirade as a huge yawn caught her unawares. She lifted a hand to cover her mouth and stretched her neck a little. She felt Inuyasha stiffen when she moved.

"What are you mad about now, Inuyasha?" she asked while opening her eyes. They were at a hot spring near a cliff. She looked around and it seemed pretty isolated.

Inuyasha set her on her feet but kept one arm around her waist to keep her next to him. He wasn't taking any chances. Sesshoumaru might try and grab her again at any moment. And she might go with him.

"That fucker came here and left his damned crap! He was going to use my mating place!" he told her, rage in every word. The jagged stripes on his face were still visible.

'Did he just say 'mating place'?' Kagome blinked at him. "What are you talking about?" she asked.

He dragged her over to a pile of supplies against the base of the stone cliff that jutted out above them to create a slight roof. She recognized most of the items as coming from her own home. He pointed a shaking, clawed finger at what offended him.

"Look at that shit!" he hissed. "The bastard thought he was going to use my stuff and left his shit here too!"

Sitting on top of the rolled up futon was the dagger that Sesshoumaru had let Kagome use when she had made the barrier around the well; the same dagger that Inuyasha had thrown across the river yesterday. Sesshoumaru had been there too? She smiled a little cynical smile.

Apparently, Sesshoumaru had also checked to make sure Inuyasha had everything he needed for a proper mating, and supplied whatever was lacking. In this case, he'd left one dagger suitable for creating a barrier so that anyone inside the barrier could have privacy and be safe from interruption. How nice of him. She might have thought it romantic if she didn't know the real reasons behind Sesshoumaru's thoughtfulness. He was making sure no one could bother her and Inuyasha when they mated as Sesshoumaru decreed they would. The jerk.

Inuyasha saw her smile and nearly lost his tenuous control of his temper. He abruptly turned her to face him, grabbing her by the shoulders.

"What the fuck are you smiling about? Did you promise to come here with him?" he yelled.

Kagome's face immediately sobered. She didn't mean to upset him more. She tried to pull away from him. She wanted to explain and calm him down. She could see the hurt behind the anger in his eyes.

"No! That's not what—"

"He was going to bring you here! Wasn't he?"

He shook her a bit and his thick nails dug into her skin almost painfully.

"Wasn't he?" he yelled again.

Kagome caught her breath at the look in his eyes. There was so much anger and pain in his eyes as he looked at her, but what shocked her most was the grim, coldness of his expression. It was the closest thing to hatred that Inuyasha had ever directed toward her and it hurt to know that he really seemed to believe that she would betray him with his brother.

She should have told him everything that first day when Sesshoumaru told her his plan. She should never have listened to Sesshoumaru or run away when Inuyasha had finally shown his feelings for her and kissed her. She'd been so stupid and she hoped that she hadn't ruined everything between them. He had to listen to her!

"No! It's to make a barrier! He didn't want interruptions when we—"

He let out a vicious growl before she could continue speaking and yanked her by the arm toward the dagger, pointing at it.

"Pick it up, Kagome." His voice was low, dangerous. He refused to think about Sesshoumaru and Kagome behind a barrier, uninterrupted. He gritted his teeth tightly together.

She did as he told her. She wasn't afraid of him, but what he was thinking right now scared her more than anything. The last time Inuyasha believed he'd been betrayed, Kaede's village had burned to the ground. She knew that when he was in that much pain, he reacted very badly and it did not bode well for her…or him. She had to clear up his misconceptions.


"Pick it up!"

She picked it up, her lips pressed together with the beginnings of annoyance, and he marched her over to a log near the hot springs. She understood that he was angry and in pain, and that she caused it by not telling him everything sooner. But he was also to blame for not listening to her when she did try to talk to him. If he kept bossing her around, she was going to osuwari him flat on his face until he did listen to her!

"Make a barrier."

"Inuyasha, you need to know—"

"Dammit, Kagome! Make a fuckin' barrier now! I don't want him to see us or hear us or interrupt us when we do what we're gonna do!" He relished the fact that he was using his brother's own dagger against the bastard. The barrier Kagome made with Sesshoumaru's dagger would keep the bastard from grabbing Kagome and taking her away again.

Kagome was definitely angry now. Inuyasha was being a total jerk and not letting her explain anything. She yanked her arm out of his grasp, kneeling next to the chunk of wood and closing her eyes. She expelled her breath in a huff and concentrated on calming down so she could create a strong barrier. She breathed in and out for a moment, thinking about why she needed a barrier and directing her powers to allow Inuyasha to remain inside of it when it formed.

A barrier would prevent anyone from hearing Inuyasha scream when she purified his butt and sat on him until he listened to everything she had to say. She stabbed the wood a little harder than necessary and the barrier flared out around them covering the stone overhang where he had stowed the supplies and expanding out about forty feet beyond the hot springs.

Inuyasha shivered as the miko energy passed through him. He couldn't see it, but he knew it was there around them. He then grabbed Kagome's arm again and yanked her up to her feet. He dragged her back to the pile of items under the cliff. He held onto Kagome with one hand and used his other to rip the ties holding the futon mattress. The mattress started to unfurl and he gripped one end of it and shook it out so that it laid flat on the ground next to the other supplies.

Kagome watched him, her eyes at first very wide and then narrowing. Was he really thinking what she thought he was? Her trepidation of what he might do in this state of mind quickly turned to red-hot anger! Did he think he was just going to throw her down on that futon and…and…do it? She tried to pull her arm out of his grip again. Either he'd listen to her on his own or she'd use the word and make him listen.

"Inuyasha, you need to calm down and listen to—"

He pushed her down so swiftly that her breath was knocked out of her lungs when her back hit the mattress. She stared wide-eyed at him as he straddled her hips. He gripped both sides of the front of her pajama top and ripped them apart. The three remaining safety pins holding it together didn't stand a chance. She gulped air and cried out in outrage, trying to pull the cloth closed again and cover herself. She slapped at his hands when he tried to keep her uncovered.

"Stop fighting me!" he commanded.

"You need to stop and listen to me!" she yelled, struggling below him and hitting him in the chest. She couldn't osuwari him with him right on top of her!

"He can't have you, Kagome! I'm going to kill him for you. You don't have to keep any promises you made to him," he hissed, still trying to undress her without hurting her or being too rough. His hands were shaking and his heart was breaking because she didn't seem to want him anymore. Her scent held no arousal at all.

Kagome could see that he was almost desperate in his actions and she started to cry. She wanted him, but she wouldn't let him take her in anger. He'd be devastated later…and so would she.

"Let go of me, Inuyasha! I won't let you do this!" Her voice was getting hysterical and she was starting to panic. She didn't have any idea what effect her words had on him as she focused on pushing his hands away.

Inuyasha stiffened at her words, his eyes shutting tightly in pain at her rejection. He didn't even hear his own ferocious growl as he grabbed her clothing again, pulling her pajama pants half way down her thighs, and choking back his emotions.

Kagome screamed and hit his hands again, then kicked with her feet as best she could. She didn't see the dark despair in his eyes or realize that his hands were becoming easier to push away even though they didn't stop their assault.

"You're mine! You said so yourself when you let me touch you and kiss you! Don't you understand! He won't stop until it's clear that you belong to me! I'm making sure he knows it!" he roared, succeeding in getting her pants down to her knees despite her best efforts to prevent it.

"This isn't about him, Inuyasha! Stop!" she cried, tears rolling down her face.

Not knowing what to do, her panic growing and her ablsolute need to get him to listen to her rising, she pulled her power into her hands and placed them on his chest. She didn't let it hurt him and she hoped just showing him what was possible would make him stop.

It worked instantly. He froze completely, feeling the imminent threat prickle against his skin, and his shocked eyes locked with hers for a long, tense moment. The stripes faded and all other color left his face. He looked pale, too pale. Then he rolled away from her and sat taking deep breaths with his back to her several feet away from the futon. He pulled his knees up close to his chest and wrapped his arms around them. His head hung forward.

Kagome lay still for several minutes and closed her eyes trying to get her breath back. She then pulled her power back inside herself while sliding her pajama pants back up to her waist with trembling hands. She sat up and covered her chest with the loose pajama top, her eyes not leaving Inuyasha's back. He was curled in a ball and visibly shaking.

"Do you want me to take you back to Sesshoumaru?" he asked, in a very low tone that she could hardly hear.

"No," she croaked, her throat tight from crying making her voice barely recognizable. She cleared her throat and said it again. "No."

"Do you want to go back to the village?"


They were silent for a few moments. Kagome couldn't believe she'd messed everything up so badly. She should have talked to him sooner. This was all her fault. She couldn't stand to see him like this. She got to her knees and started to shuffle toward him. He didn't seem to notice.

Inuyasha was having a mental melt down just thinking of what he might have done…and its results. She didn't trust him anymore. She wouldn't even let him bring her back to Kaede's and it was all his fault. He'd ruined everything! He was such a fucking idiot!

Truthfully, he didn't think he would have actually gone through with it; he'd even been wavering in his resolve. He'd had to make himself remember how welcoming she was in their previous encounters and force the images to drown out her horrified cries. But when she'd said she wouldn't let him have her – made it very clear that she didn't want him anymore – the pain he felt made him die inside….

But still, even threatening to do it was wrong. Just thinking of what he'd tried to do to her was enough to make him condemn himself to the lowest pits of hell. He regretted it more than anything he'd ever regretted in his life, and he would have regretted it even if Kagome had not threatened him. She'd never threatened him before, but he'd deserved it. He'd scared her, and he'd scared himself, and now he didn't know how to fix it. He was sure she wouldn't want him anymore, if she had wanted him in the first place. He'd ruined everything, he thought again in despair.

Suddenly, he was shocked out of his miserable thoughts. He felt her arms around his shoulders and he tried to push her away and get up, but she wouldn't let him. He was scared she would tell him good-bye for good or pity him. He couldn't stand either. He wanted to get away.

"I'll go back to the village and send Kirara to get you," he choked out, pulling on her arms but trying to be gentle at the same time. "I'm sorry for... I'll go."

"I don't want you to leave, Inuyasha," she said, tightening her grip.

"Kagome…I can't be here. I…can't. If you want Sesshoumaru, I won't stop you, but I…have to go—"

"I don't want Sesshoumaru!" she hissed, and then added, "And he doesn't want me, baka."

He was silent for a moment and perfectly still.

"But you promised him—"

"You don't know what I promised him and you haven't let me explain anything!" she interrupted him.

"But he saved Kouga because you promised him—"

"You need to stop guessing about what I did or didn't do because you're not good at it!"

Inuyasha felt fragile hope rise in his heart again. His grip on Kagome's wrists tightened so that she couldn't move away from him. He felt her lean her forehead against the back of his neck and he trembled even more with emotion.

"Are you going to listen to me now?" she asked softly, sensing that she had his full attention at last.

He nodded his head, not trusting his voice.

Kagome felt his affirmative movement and knew he was ready to listen. She decided to stay behind him so that he couldn't distract her until she finished saying what she had to say.

"Sesshoumaru doesn't want me and I don't want Sesshoumaru. I don't want Kouga either. I want you."

"But, Kagome—"

"Shut up or I will purify your butt and hold you down to make you listen!"

He smiled, knowing she didn't mean it, but he shut his mouth anyway. Besides, he was still stronger than her even as a human. She couldn't hold him down if he didn't want her to. Of course, that didn't mean he wouldn't let her if he felt like it.

Satisfied that he would be quiet for a moment, she continued, "I promised Sesshoumaru that I would talk you into helping him protect Rin. He wants Rin as his mate."

Inuyasha felt the weight on his heart lift a little. Sesshoumaru really wasn't going to take Kagome from him. He finally released the breath he didn't know he was holding. So, the bastard wanted Rin. Wait! Rin? Inuyasha had a picture in his mind of the little girl that followed his brother around and felt revulsion for what the bastard was thinking of doing to her.

"How could you think I'd allow him to touch a little girl like that, Kagome! Why would you agree to that?" he asked heatedly trying to turn around.

Kagome tightened her grip on his shoulders and said, "Be still and listen to me!"

He stopped his movements and turned his head, cocking his ear in her direction so that Kagome knew he was listening again. He was still angry but he decided to let her explain.

Knowing he was listening again, Kagome eased her hold on him. "Sesshoumaru told me that he's planning for the future. Before Rin is old enough and before his enemies figure out that she will be his mate, he is trying to make alliances that will help him protect her. He has not touched her yet and he says he won't until she is older. He says he doesn't want to make the same mistakes his father made. He doesn't want what happened to your mother or you to happen to Rin and his children."

Inuyasha caught his breath. He couldn't believe it. So many questions went through his mind and so much anger about what happened to both his mother and himself. He wasn't sure, but he believed that Sesshoumaru could have prevented some if not all of his mother's suffering. And his own childhood was a nightmare that he endured rather than lived. And now that bastard wanted his help? He growled.

Kagome gripped him tighter, knowing he was angry. "I promised Sesshoumaru that I would help talk you into aligning with him, to protect Rin, in exchange for him never fighting with you again or hurting anyone we care about. He would help protect us too. That's all I promised him."

He sat, still in her arms, thinking about everything she said. So much of it made him angry, but most of all he was angry that she didn't tell him before now. It would have saved him all the fear and anxiety at the thought that he might lose her to Sesshoumaru.

"Why didn't you tell me, Kagome? You should have let me know as soon as he talked to you."

She could tell he was mad at her. She sighed. "I know...and I'm sorry. I should have told you. Sesshoumaru knew I wanted to tell you, but he said he wanted it to be a secret because he didn't think you would agree to it right away. He told me that…that he wanted me to…to seduce you to get you to agree to it."

She felt a jolt go through his frame when he heard that but she continued speaking, "I told him that I wouldn't force you into anything and that if you and I…if we did that together, it would be because we love each other and it would be your choice. He wants us to…to mate."

"But he said—"

She talked louder, interrupting what he was saying. "He claims that he's never said that he wants me, just that he wants to mate a human! He knew you would assume that he meant me. He thinks we will both be stronger if we bond or something. His only concern is protecting Rin and he's ready to use us to keep her safe. I know he's been saying things to try and make you jealous and to trick you into doing that with me, but I don't want you to do that just because he goads you into it, Inuyasha! I want you to be with me because it's what you want and not what someone else wants! Do you understand? I need to know that the only reason you touch me is because you want me just as much as I want you, without any influence from anything or anyone else. Even though you said you love me, Inuyasha, it would break my heart if we…if you did anything with me just so someone else couldn't have me."

Kagome's voice was low and shaking by the end of her explanation, and she knew she almost sounded like she was pleading with him, but she couldn't help it. She needed him to understand.

Inuyasha forgot about Sesshoumaru and Kouga and everyone else. He turned around swiftly and pulled Kagome into his lap, hugging her tightly. He didn't trust himself to speak past the lump in his throat. Gods, he loved her. How could she think he'd take her for any other reason than that he wanted her above all others? He'd been such a baka! He'd been taking out his anger and fear on her when he should have just been holding her and reassuring her.

"Kagome, there is no one else for me, but you," he said gruffly, not able to control the emotions that showed so readily in his voice. "I've wanted you since I met you and you sealed your fate when you promised to stay with me. Don't ever think I don't want you." He kissed the top of her head, taking in the scent of her hair and sighing with relief. She'd be his. He hadn't ruined it after all.

She lifted her head and smiled at him, her eyes shining. He kissed her gently with all the love he could give her. She moved her arms up around his neck, holding him closer to her. A moment later, her hands came to the sides of his face and she leaned back, breaking the kiss, to look into his eyes again.

"You're the only one I've ever felt this way about, Inuyasha. I want you too. I always have," she said.

Her voice, her words washed over him like a warm, welcome touch and he kissed her again more roughly. He growled and pulled her tighter against his chest as he broke the kiss.

"Kagome, can I…I want you forever…" he whispered against her ear knowing it didn't sound right or quite make sense, but hoping she understood what he was asking. He tensed waiting for her response.

She answered immediately, her voice just a low as his and filled with happiness. "I've always been yours, Inuyasha…and I always will be."

He let his breath out and a smile split his face as he raised his head and looked down at her beautiful face. She smiled back and the love he saw in her eyes made his soul take flight.

He lifted her and carried her over to the futon, carefully laying her down and then easing down on his side next to her, one arm across her waist. He couldn't stop grinning. She said she belongs to him – a hanyou! She wanted him forever too! He almost thought it was a dream.

Kagome had never seen Inuyasha so happy even though his eyes looked suspiciously wet. She could feel his emotions like they were a physical thing pressing into her. It made her heart flutter to know that she could make him smile like that. He just stared at her for a moment with that big, silly grin and she couldn't resist it anymore. She raised her hand and placed it on the back of his neck, pulling him down into another kiss.

Inuyasha went down willingly. His body tingled all over with joy, but another type of tingle was making itself known too. Bracing himself on one elbow, he let his other hand push her pajama top open while he kissed her. He couldn't help his eagerness and he went straight for her breast, cupping it and relishing the way her nipple hardened immediately. She moaned into his mouth.

He really, really couldn't wait anymore to make her his, especially since she said she wanted to be with him always. He was overwhelmed with his feelings for her. And she was starting to smell very good as her arousal increased.

His length became hard faster than he could blink and he involuntarily pressed it against her thigh through their clothing. His youkai was asserting itself again too. He could feel it trying to surface, but this time it wasn't in anger. He pushed it back down, already knowing that he might hurt Kagome with his eagerness and not needing that complication too.

"Kagome…sit up a second," he panted, pulling on her shoulder as he rose to his knees. She was breathing hard too.

Kagome allowed Inuyasha to remove her pajama top and throw it to the side. He leaned down and immediately started kissing her again on the mouth, but soon his lips traveled down her chin, neck, and chest to close over her breast. He eased her back onto the futon, his mouth and hands touching her everywhere it seemed. She could feel his need and it matched her own.

"Inuya...sha," she moaned, gripping his hair.

He cupped one breast in his hand, squeezing and forming it to the shape of his palm. She felt his fangs graze the skin of her other breast and his tongue swirl around her nipple. She knew she'd have marks, but it felt so thrilling and she was so aroused, she didn't care if he drew blood. How had he brought her to this state of sexual excitement so fast? She moaned again, feeling his hands slide up and down her sides from her breasts to her hips. He even pressed one under her bottom and squeezed her rounded flesh. She loved his hands.

She moved her hands to the front of his haori and started undoing the ties that held it closed. Her hands slipped in a moment later and she caressed his chest, feeling the hard muscles and running her nails over his tight male nipples.

Inuyasha cried out and froze for a second, gripping her hips tightly and allowing his forehead to rest against her shoulder as he gulped for air. She could feel him trembling. She moved her hands on his skin again and it seemed to trigger something inside him. Suddenly he was kissing her again; a hard and untamed kiss. His hands moved over her roughly, his claws sending chills down her spine. He was attacking her! And she liked it!

His mouth moved to her breast again and he tucked his fingers under the waistband of her pajama pants and pushed them down her thighs. She lifted her hips to help him get them off. She was panting and so was he. She liked the wild look in his eyes when they locked with hers as he rose to his knees above her to yank at his own clothing.

He had them both naked so fast she didn't have time to catch her breath. He used his knee to push her legs apart and kneeled between her thighs.

He was beautiful, as she'd already known. Her arousal increased just looking at him. He stilled and took several deep breaths while lowering his head closer to her body and keeping eye contact with her. She knew he could smell her excitement.

His eyes were so dilated that they almost looked black with only a small ring of gold showing around the outer edge of his pupils. Her heart beat even faster at his awestruck expression and the heat in his eyes as he let his gaze slowly caress her from her face all the way down to the thatch of hair at the apex of her thighs. She could almost feel his eyes on her as if he'd used his hands! And then he did use his hands!

She arched into his palms when they covered her breasts and closed her eyes. She couldn't seem to stop moaning! It was embarrassing to make these noises but at least he was making them too. His little growls and groans were driving her crazy.

Before she knew it, he was on top of her, settling his hips between her thighs and holding his weight on his elbows next to her shoulders. She wrapped her arms around him, shaking with need and anticipation.

Inuyasha could feel Kagome pull her knees up on the outside of his legs, her feet resting flat on the mattress near his knees. He could feel the soft skin of her inner thigh rubbing against his hardness and tried to control himself. He didn't want to finish before they mated like he did last time in the well, but just having his naked body touching her naked body was enough to make him lose it. He pushed his hands behind her and clutched her to him, closing his eyes and holding her closer while breathing in her scent.

This was it. This was everything he ever wanted in life all wrapped up in one small female who was allowing him, a hanyou, to touch her like this. It still amazed him that she wanted him to be with her like this. He thanked the Gods that she was sent to him, because at that moment, he believed that there was no other reason for her to be here, except to be with him. Nothing else mattered. She was his life. Without her, he would have no future and no reason to go on. He breathed her in again.

He could feel her hands on his back, softly stroking his skin. It felt wonderful. He didn't open his eyes or raise his head from the side of her face where his nose was buried in her hair just above her ear. He was so overwhelmed with physical and emotional feelings that he couldn't move his arms even if they weren't completely wrapped around Kagome's upper back and neck. He tried not to let his claws dig into the skin of her shoulders where he gripped her, but his hands were shaking.

He'd never been more excited or nervous in his life. He wanted her so much! He knew it was time to join with her but he was feeling unsure suddenly. He knew he had to push into her there, but still….

"Kagome...you...can you...help me?" he pleaded.

The thought briefly crossed his mind that maybe he should have let Myouga explain this part, but he instantly forgot it when Kagome's hand began to move.

Inuyasha was panting heavily next to her ear and Kagome knew he was trying to stay in control. She understood what he was asking, though, and she glided her hand over his skin from its place on his back, around his hip, and in between his trembling body and hers.

He caught his breath and lifted his hips slightly to accommodate her seeking hand. He felt her fingers close around him and he jerked a little against her hand. She didn't seem to mind and pulled gently on him, guiding him to where he needed to be. He felt her warm, moist heat against his sensitive tip, and trembled more.

As she moved her hand from between them, he felt her mouth against his neck and heard her whisper, "Push."

"Kagome..." he said breathlessly, pushing very slowly into her. He panted in her ear, making small noises. "Kag...ome..." He couldn't seem to get enough air.

He was so very aroused and thrilled at that moment. He knew he was about to explode. It felt so good, the wet warmth gripping him tightly. He wanted this feeling to last forever. He didn't move for a moment, savoring the sensations and the utter joy he felt and trying to control himself. His youkai side was making itself known again, asking to be released, but he pushed it back down, not understanding this instinct and afraid of hurting Kagome.

It hurt more than Kagome had thought it would. Inuyasha was at least a foot taller than her and he'd filled out in the last few years. Compared to her he was large...and she would have sworn he was huge by the feel of it if she hadn't seen him for herself already. She'd had a very close-up view of his endowments when they were in the well together, so she knew he wasn't any different or bigger than other men, that is, if the pictures she had seen over the years were anything to go by. But still, it felt like he was cutting her in half. And he was going too slow.

"Just...do it, Inu...yasha," she told him through gritted teeth. To emphasize her point, she grazed her nails over his buttocks as far as she could reach, pulling him closer.

Her body felt so incredible, so wonderful to Inuyasha that he almost finished before they started. He was so close, but he knew it was supposed to last longer than one push. And she was tensing up under him. He wasn't sure why and he hesitated. But then she encouraged him to continue as she raked her nails lightly over his backside and he couldn't help but jerk his hips forward at the tingly sensations it sent straight to his already hypersensitive groin.

He sucked in a huge gulp of air through his mouth and whispered her name, "Kagome...Kagome." He had to be still again to maintain control. He never lifted his nose from her fragrant hair, breathing in her wonderful scent, even though she still smelled rather nervous or something. He was nervous too, but he was also full of happiness and awe that she allowed him this privilege and honor. He relished the feeling of being inside of his mate, his face pressed against the side of her head in her soft hair. She was his now.

He was fully seated inside her and Kagome just concentrated on breathing. She didn't want him to stop, but at the same time she wanted him to finish immediately. She needed him to find his release fast. Thinking only of encouraging him, she started kissing his neck as well as she could while breathing through her mouth to keep from hissing from the pain.

She lifted her feet from the sides of his knees and placed them on the back of his thighs. The shift in her hips drew him in deeper and he moaned next to her ear. She dragged her bare toes up his thighs toward his butt, and used her fingernails to lightly scratch his back.

Inuyasha couldn't help it. His hips jerked slightly back and then forward in a fast, hard motion. Her mouth on his neck, her hands on his back, her feet rubbing the back of his thighs, and being deep inside her... The first jerk of his hips had been an involuntary reaction to what she was doing to him, but the second, third, and fourth were deliberate. He didn't make it to five.


She felt him stiffen above her and it felt like he was trying to push his whole body into her. He pulsed deep inside of her and then shuddered as his weight settled more fully on her. His hands tightened on her shoulders and he was breathing heavily in her ear, saying her name again.

She consciously tried to relax her muscles and let out her breath. Even though the pain had been worse than she had expected, and it still hurt, she felt wonderful inside. She did this for him. She gave him this pleasure, this bliss. Her name was the one he was whispering over and over. She was the one who made him tremble in ecstasy. She was the one he wanted and needed. She was the one he loved like this. She'd never felt more complete, more content, or more spiritually connected to Inuyasha than she felt at that moment.

This is what she'd wanted when she'd spoken to Sango around the campfire during the last new moon. This is the feeling she'd dreamed of; this feeling that the world was gone and the only thing real was this man in her arms and the love they shared. This is the emotional connection she'd wanted so badly with Inuyasha and it was even better than she'd ever imagined.

"I love you," she whispered, overwhelmed with her emotions.

He didn't say anything for a moment, but he tightened his arms around her a little. Slowly his breathing started to slow down. He softly told her against her ear, "You are everything to me. I can't live without you."

"I won't leave you," she assured him, hugging his rib cage.

"I know...because I'll never let you go."

Her emotions overflowed in the form of tears, and slid down her temples into her hair.

He lifted his head a little, removing his face from her scented hair, but suddenly stiffened above her.


He sounded scared and she turned her head toward his and kissed the side of his chin, trying to comfort him.

"Inuyasha? What is it?" she whispered.

"I…I'm sorry," he said, his voice so low she barely heard him.

She tensed again. He was sorry? For what? He never apologized! Did he regret it now that they had gone this far? No! She cut off that train of thought immediately. She would not assume anything. Something was upsetting him and they needed to talk about it.

He felt her tense under him and suddenly realized that a lot of his weight was resting directly on her. He tried to get up.

His movements surprised her and she caught her breath and winced when his soft length slid out of her tender flesh. Her legs felt like wet noodles but she used all her strength to hold him down with her calves and feet on the back of his thighs. She kept her arms around his back too. She couldn't let him leave her.

"Inuyasha, I'm not letting you go until you tell me what's wrong," she insisted in a low voice.

His wet, sticky groin settled back onto her pubic mound and she let her shaking legs slide down to rest on the outside of his. He was on his elbows above her and she caught her breath at the stricken expression on his face.

She felt her eyes water at the pain she saw in his eyes. "What is it?" she asked again urgently, her voice barely above a whisper.


She stared into his golden eyes, seeing all the anguish she'd just heard in his voice. What was wrong? She had to know. She brought her hands to his face and quietly pleaded, "Tell me!"

"I did it wrong," he finally confessed and then he hugged her again, holding her tightly, her arms trapped between them, his face buried in her hair again. He again whispered against her ear, "I'm s-sorry." There was a catch in his breath.

She was stunned for a second. Then she pulled her arms from between their chests and moved them around his back again, holding him.

"No, Inuyasha! You did it just right! You don't have anything to be sorry for!" she told him, trying to alleviate his obvious guilt and fear. She held him and kissed his jaw line, trying to calm him.

His grip around her tightened and his voice became harsh, "Don't lie to me, Kagome! I know I hurt you!" He pushed his face further into her hair and whispered, "You're crying, and I…I smell your blood."

Before she could answer, he rose to his elbows again and stared down at her with sorrowful eyes, saying in a rush, "I thought I knew what to do! I didn't mean to hurt you! I should have let Myouga tell me what to do, or looked at that stupid book more, but the pictures didn't seem—"

"Inuyasha!" she interrupted him. "You didn't do anything wrong! You are perfect and beautiful and I love you!"


He was confused and she tried her best to relieve his guilt. She moved her hands back to cup his face and said, "You didn't do anything wrong. I knew it would hurt and I knew I might bleed. It's natural, Inuyasha. It happens to most women their first time doing…this."

He still looked upset as he stared down into her eyes. She smiled at him and told him again, "You did it right and I'm okay, I swear. I'm crying because I'm so happy, that's all."

His features relaxed a little bit more, but he was still concerned for her. "Does it still hurt?"

"Yeah, a little," she admitted. "I'll be sore for a day or two, but it'll be fine."

He was watching her intently. She smiled again and lightly ran her thumbs over his eyebrows, which were still tense.

"Relax. It's okay, Inuyasha. I promise."

More of the tension left his face and he let his forehead rest on hers. He closed his eyes and let out his breath, letting go of most of his anxiety. She moved her hands around to his back again and let her fingers caress him in random patterns. He shivered under her touch.

"You knew it would hurt…and you still let me?" he asked after a moment.

"I wanted to be with you like this. I'll always want you like this," she assured him.

"But…will it hurt you again?" he asked.

She could feel his back muscles tightening again. She didn't want him to be worried or afraid to touch her.

"No, it won't hurt me again," she said, and then decided she needed to be completely honest about it and continued, "I might feel some pain, but only the next few times we do it. I just need to get used to it, that's all." He relaxed again and she knew he understood.

He kissed her and said, "I still didn't want to hurt you."

She smiled up at him and he could see all the love and adoration she had for him shining in her eyes.

He smiled back and kissed her again, shifting his body and legs a little and taking her face in his hands. She felt a twinge of pain when she moved her legs to accommodate his movements and couldn't help tensing a little.

He lifted his head from the kiss and watched her face with concern as he pushed her bangs back from her sweaty forehead.

"Would it help if we soak in the hot spring for a while? I don't like it when you're hurting."

She thought about it for a second and then agreed, "Yeah, that might be just what I need. The hot water might help."

He looked relieved that he could do something for her and pushed himself up to his knees, ready to pick her up. Before she could sit up, he froze.

"Kagome! Damn it! I really hurt you bad!" His face was pale.

She followed his line of sight and noticed the red smears of blood on him and on her thighs.

"It's okay, Inuyasha. Really. It looks worse than it is. I'll be alright," she rushed to assure him again. Her flush deepened at the sight of him exposed to her.

He looked doubtful, but didn't argue. His face was set in grim lines as he gently picked her up bridal style, treating her like delicate glass, and headed to the hot spring. She put her arms around his neck, squeezing slightly to comfort him.

He eased them into the water and Kagome sighed with pleasure. Before she could relax, he sat her on a submerged rock and got out of the water. She watched him go to one of the bags he brought and pull out a first aid kit and a bottle of water. He fumbled with the kit for a minute and then returned to her. He gave her two pain relief tablets and the bottle. She took the medicine and then set the water bottle aside as he climbed into the hot spring and pulled her into a hug.

She leaned her head against his shoulder and said, "Thank you, Inuyasha. I think this is exactly what I needed."

He blushed and said, "Keh." She was glad he sounded like his normal self. She didn't want him to feel any anxiety or doubt about touching her, or her desire for him.

He sat on the submerged rock, pulling her sideways into his lap with one of his arms supporting her back and the other draped across her thighs. The water was level with the top of her breasts so she didn't feel completely exposed to his view. After he settled, she smiled and kissed his jaw.

She should have realized that he wouldn't know much about sex. She knew about it because in her time it was impossible not to know about it. But how would he have learned? Who would have told him? She suddenly recalled something….

"Inuyasha? Did you see the book I gave Sango?" she asked, knowing that he did.

He blushed more and didn't answer right away. His hand, which had been idly rubbing her thigh and hip, stopped its motion. She felt him tense slightly.


"I didn't mean to look at it. It's Miroku's fault. He went through her stuff and took it. And it was a stupid book anyway," he said defensively.

She sighed. "I'm not mad at you, Inuyasha." He relaxed under her and resumed the movements of his hand. She thought again that she should have known Miroku would get that book sooner or later.

"Why do you think the book was stupid?" she asked.

Her skin tingled as his nails softly grazed over her hip and thigh. Each pass of his hand brought him closer to her inner thighs. She could see his blush deepen and she smiled. She knew she was blushing too and had been all night. She didn't care though, because she'd never been happier.

"Inuyasha?" she prompted when he didn't answer the question.

He slowly rubbed his hand over her thighs and then between them, washing the blood away. She opened her legs a bit wider to give him access. It was the first time he'd actually touched her there, at least with his hand. He was very gentle and she could tell he was trying very hard to be considerate of her feelings. It warmed her heart…and aroused her again.

"It wasn't about mating," he said and it took her a second to realize what he was talking about. The hand between her legs had almost all of her attention.

"Why do you say that? What else would you call it?" she asked, remembering all the pictures of sex positions the book had.

After a moment, he said, "The pictures I saw didn't look like mating."

"What did you see?"

She moved one hand down from around his neck and brought it to his chest, lazily stroking a nipple. He shivered and something stirred against her thigh.

He shifted a little. "One picture showed a woman with her mouth on a man…biting him there. And the other showed a man tied to a chair and a woman with a whip. It was stupid," he grumbled, blushing more.

She well remembered the pictures he described, one of which Sesshoumaru had embarrassed her with earlier. She didn't think she would enjoy the bondage depicted in the book, but the other thing…the thought of it was arousing her again, along with his gentle ministrations to her inner thighs.

She kissed his jaw and shifted in his lap. She ran her hand down his chest to caress his stomach muscles, and then lower still to brush against his semi-hardened length. He caught his breath as she rubbed her hand over it. He tensed.

"Don't, Kagome. We can't do that again right now," he told her, his hand gripping her thigh. She noticed his eyes were tightly closed.

"But you're—"

"Keh, I'm used to it when I'm near you. It's okay," he told her opening his eyes and tightening his jaw.

Her hand stopped moving, still wrapped around his length. "What do you mean you are 'used to it'? I've never noticed you hot and bothered when you're next to me until after the last new moon."

"I know how to control myself, even if I wanted to pounce on you all the time."

"Well, I never thought I affected you like that. This last year, you always looked so stiff and uncomfortable when you sat next to me—"

"That's because I was stiff and uncomfortable, baka!"

"No, I didn't mean that kind of 'stiff', baka!" Kagome blushed even more. "I meant you looked like you didn't want to sit next to me and you were angry because you had to."

"Why would I have to sit next to you if I didn't want to?"

"I thought you were trying to protect me so you needed to stay close."

"Kagome, I could protect you better from a tree since I could see threats coming from a longer distance, baka. I wouldn't sit next to you if I didn't want to. But I do want to and I need to be close to you, even if it does make me 'stiff and uncomfortable' like that," he explained with humor in his voice.

"Oh... I didn't know," she replied rather lamely, wondering if her face could get any redder. She thought about it and realized he'd been 'stiff and uncomfortable' around her for years. It made her happy to some extent to know that he'd felt like that for her for a long time, but she was upset with herself for misreading his body language for so long. She guessed it didn't help that she was just as inexperienced as he was.

"Baka," he replied, but it almost sounded like an endearment as he kissed her forehead and tightened his arm around her upper back.

Kagome smiled, thinking she really was a baka and glad she decided to trust Inuyasha with her heart. She softly gripped his length, which was still in her hand, and he caught his breath. She kissed his chin and thought about how she could make it up to him for assuming the wrong things so often. She thought about the book and the picture he'd mentioned. She felt embarrassed as well as aroused for wanting to do that for him, but pushed her embarrassment aside, determined to prevent him from being 'stiff and uncomfortable' again. She would give him relief from now on, she decided.

"Inuyasha, I want to take care of this for you." She gently pulled on his hardness so he understood what she was talking about. "Will you let me?" she asked, still stroking him.

"N-no, I don't want to hurt you. We need to wait," he told her, breathing a little faster and allowing her to continue touching him despite his words. His eyes closed tightly again.

"You won't hurt me, I promise," she assured him softly.

He was hard in her hand now and nodded his head, signaling that she could do whatever she wanted to do to him, or that he wasn't paying attention to her voice anymore; she wasn't sure which.

She moved out of his lap to stand in front of him. He opened his eyes quickly as she moved and his gaze immediately fell to her breasts, which were now on the level with his face above the water. Her nipples hardened. She fought down the urge to cover herself.

"Sit up on the edge of the hot spring for me," she instructed.

He looked up at her face, seeming a little confused, but did as she asked, his calves and feet still in the water. She put her hands on his knees and pushed them apart so she could kneel between them on the submerged rock he'd been sitting on.

He trembled, watching her closely, as she gently ran her hands over the skin of his inner thighs from his knees to his groin. He caught his breath as she stroked his length again.

"Lean back on your hands so I have room to move," she told him, her own breathing accelerating at the sight of his lean body before her. Her hands shook a little as he complied. His face was flushed and he closed his eyes.

She leaned closer and kissed his stomach, moving her mouth over his skin while still pulling gently on his hardened shaft. He moaned and quivered under her lips.

She traveled lower with her mouth, down to one hipbone, gently sucking on his skin. He was very hard and hot in her grip and she lifted her head slightly to look at him in her hands. The skin was darker than the rest of his body and the head was darker still, engorged. She slowly bent her head to him and licked the tip.

"Kagome!" he almost shouted, sitting up straight, bringing his hands to the sides of her head and pulling her face up to look at him.

She was surprised at his alarmed, almost fearful expression. His erection softened a bit in her hands.

"What is it?" she asked, wondering what scared him.

"You're not going to..." he started to say but didn't finish, his face pale.

She stared into his anxious eyes and realized he thought she was going to bite him. If he wasn't so distressed, she might have laughed, but it bothered her that he thought she would deliberately hurt him.

"Do you trust me, Inuyasha?" she asked fiercely.

"Of course," he answered immediately, lowering his brows. He seemed to be angry that she would ask that question.

"Then prove it. Lean back and let me do this. Show me that you trust me."

He hesitated, apprehension evident in his eyes, but after a few seconds he slowly removed his hands from her head and leaned back on them, watching her the whole time.

She kept eye contact with him as she gradually lowered her head. She resumed pumping him with her hands, feeling him hardening again, despite his unease. She watched his eyes as she opened her mouth and licked his tip, turning her head slightly to the side so he could see exactly what she was doing. His breathing hitched and he shuddered as she swirled her tongue around him. She slowly took as much of him into her mouth as she could, then sucked as she pulled her mouth back up his length.

"Kagome! Shit!"

He grabbed one of her shoulders and held on tightly as his hips jerked upward.

She was afraid she might accidentally bite him if he did that again, so she teasingly told him, "Be still, Inuyasha, and I'll reward you."

She took him in her mouth again and he dropped back on one elbow, moaning her name. The hand on her shoulder came to rest on the back of her head, but he didn't put any pressure behind his trembling touch.

She kept one hand on the base of his shaft and used the other to gently lift and caress the sac below. She knew his testicles were sensitive so she was afraid to squeeze them or move them too much, but he seemed to like what she was doing anyway. The sac tightened up in her hand.

She continued moving her mouth up and down his length, taking in as much of him as she could, and lightly sucking. His face was flushed, his eyes were tightly closed, and he was visibly gritting his teeth. He made low growling noises that excited her too. Seeing him like this, so openly excited by her ministrations sent shivers through her own body.

His claws dug into her scalp a little as he suddenly thrust upward with his hips and cried, "Ahh, Kagome! Kag—Gah!" His whole body became taut. He released in her mouth, his breathing harsh and loud.

It surprised her. She knew she should have expected it, but for some reason his release caught her off guard. She compulsively swallowed at first, but then choked a little. She concentrated on being still and breathing through her nose as he filled her mouth. He continued to pulse for a moment and then she felt him softening.

She felt his hand slide away from the back of her head as he fell back onto the ground, his arm no longer supporting his weight, and he covered his eyes with one forearm, his other arm thrown out limply to his side. He lay there panting and she slowly pulled her mouth from him. He shuddered and moaned.

Not really sure what to do about the stuff in her mouth and not really wanting to swallow it, Kagome stepped back from him and spit in the hot spring. She then reached for the water bottle and rinsed her mouth out.

She moved back between his knees and lightly rubbed the tops of his thigh with the hand not holding the water bottle and watched his breathing slowly return to normal. She very much enjoyed the sight of his sated body spread out before her.

It had never occurred to Inuyasha that the picture in that book was about pleasure. Maybe the pain in his life up until the last couple of years had conditioned him to assume the picture involved punishment. Maybe his complete lack of sexual experience contributed to that assumption. Regardless of why he assumed the wrong thing about that picture, he realized that he had a lot to learn and he was eager to learn things like this with Kagome.

He did trust her completely. Maybe that was the purpose of what she did; a test of trust that was rewarded with pleasure. He knew she would not do anything to deliberately hurt him, and beyond that, he should have known that she'd never give that book to Sango if it contained hurtful things. Sure the pictures he saw were weird, but now he understood them. It was about trust.

Gods, he could never have imagined how wrong he had been about that picture that showed the woman with her mouth on the man's most vulnerable part. He wondered about the other picture he'd seen….

Kagome interrupted his thoughts when she spoke. "What do you think about the book now?" she asked softly, a smile in her voice.

He watched her lift her slim arm to take a drink of water, admiring the curve of her neck as her head tilted back. He could tell by the humor in her eyes as they met his above the water bottle that she teasing him.

However, he was completely serious when he said, "I think you can tie me up now if you want to."

oOoOoOoOoOoOo End Chapter 14 oOoOoOoOoOoOo

Author's Notes: Well, better late than never. I apologize for the long wait for this chapter. I've finally found permanent housing and can get my stuff out of storage. I should be more regular with the updates now. Thanks very much for your patience.

The lemon was written in the fall of 2005 and my friends reviewed it for me around that time or very early in 2006. It's not a beautiful, wonderful, perfect sexual experience for either of them, but they are both virgins and learning. Hopefully, you take it as the sweet interaction and declaration of their love that it is supposed to be. And it gets better for them in later lemons.

Thanks again to everyone who has supported me through reviews and emails. Your feedback means a lot to me.

Originally posted January 4, 2007. Small corrections made on January 6, 2007.