Disclaimer: Inuyasha is sooo not mine.

Chapter 27

Kagome stirred. A cool breeze from somewhere made her shiver. Cautiously cracking open one eye, she saw that the bedroom window had been left wide open. With a whimper, she shut that eye again and with her foot, began searching for the covers. To her dismay, the sheets weren't there. No wonder she was cold. Apparently, they'd fallen off the edge of the bed. She groaned low in her throat for she knew Kouga had been the one to kick them off in the first place. He was bad about that.

She could feel one of Kouga's powerful arms laying across her belly, pinning her down with its weight. 'Damn it,' she thought irritably. Gathering up her strength, (for she'd had a rough night) she attempted to sit up... only to feel his powerful arm press firmly against her tummy, yanking her back down on the mattress.

Thoroughly startled, she turned to look at the black-haired creature beside her. Kouga... her mate...

She always loved to watch him while he slept, for he would frown quite often. That made her wonder just what he was dreaming about. Probably back in the Sengoku Jidai, fighting with Inuyasha...

Unable to help it, memories of how she used to treat him came flooding into her mind. Back then, back when they were hunting the Shikon shards, she was just able to tolerate him whenever he popped out of the blue. Of course, that was when she was head over heels for Inuyasha. What she did love about his impromptu visits were how jealous Inuyasha would become whenever his rival was around. Later on, during the whole business on Mt. Hakurei, she realized that Kouga truly did care about her. She had run off in search of Inuyasha, leaving Kouga in charge of the weakened Shippo and Kirara, she didn't realize just in how much danger she was in until she saw the hordes of youkai come streaming off the mountain. When she was attacked, (and clumisly tripping over her feet as usual) he was there to save her. Even after that, when he was sucked into the mountain, he had shown his selflessness by telling her to stay away; he hadn't wanted to take her down with him.

Tears filled her eyes as she recalled the look on his face, the love in those startling blue eyes. After all that had happened, his feelings for her never changed, even though she went on loving Inuyasha. Instead, they seemed to grow with the passage of time.

But now...now...she was his. She had given Kouga what he wanted, which in the end was exactly what she had wanted too. Never had she dreamt that she would end up as his mate. Once upon a time she would have given up everything to be with Inuyasha...but now she was thankful she had never committed such a foolish act.

She shook herself, coming back to the present. As her eyes drank him in, she smiled. How beautiful he was! How perfect! His silken hair was a sensual mess, flowing like inky black rivulets all over his pillow.

This morning, the frown was nowhere in sight, but instead it was replaced by a look of total and utter peace. He looked younger, softer. It was almost as if she was looking at the Kouga from 500 years ago when she first met him. The pale light of morning reflected off of his handsome features and to Kagome, he almost seemed to glow. She was staring so hard at him, that when he spoke, she jumped.

"Where did you think you were going?" he asked softly. His eyes hadn't even opened.

Kagome, still mesmerized by his beauty, never took her eyes off him. "To get the covers. They fell off--"

"Why?" he interrupted suddenly.

She raised her brows in surprise, then frowned. "Why? Because I'm cold, that's why." Grumpily, she attempted to get up but let out a surprised squeak when she was yanked back down, rolled onto her side and then pulled close to him so that she was face to face with him. Or, more accurately, face to neck with him. And a very nice neck he had, too. But her shock instantly dissipated as the heat from his body overcame her, warming her cold flesh.

Sighing in ecstasy, she buried her face against his neck and snuggled against him as close as was physically possible. "Thank you," she whispered, closing her eyes in delight. But they opened again when she felt something cool and smooth flutter onto her exposed flesh. He had thoughtfully pulled up the satiny bedsheet up over them.

Looking up into his face, she found glittering sapphire blue eyes that matched the silk sheets, staring back at her. The intensity of his gaze forced her to drop her eyes once more to his smooth throat. Why in the world should she be embarassed by a mere stare? Hadn't he just spent an entire night seeing her completely naked? Hadn't he touched and kissed every inch of her body? So why had she picked this moment to be shy when he was only looking at her face?

"Why do you look away from me?" His voice was a breathy, heated whisper in her ear.

She shook her head, hiding her face against his smooth throat. "I don't know." A small pulsing vein could just be seen underneath his golden skin and desperately Kagome kept her eyes focused on that. Anything to keep her mind off of that very unsettling gaze. It felt as though he were trying to peer into her soul. Even more disturbing, she felt that he probably could.

"Yes, you do, koishii. You can't lie to me, you know. I can feel everything you can, so don't bother trying to hide anything from me." Gently, he brushed his lips against her temple and smiled to himself.

Just as I thought, she said to herself. "Why would I do that?" she murmured aloud, rubbing her nose against his wonderfully warm skin. He smelt fantastic and it turned her on, for his scent was so utterly male and delightfully sensuous.

An amused chuckle stirred her hair and she jerked back to look at Kouga. "What's funny?" she demanded.

Blue eyes twinkled back at her. "Are you ready for another round, my mate?" he whispered.

"Wh-what are you talking about?" she stammered as her face turned scarlet to the very roots of her hair. Kagome knew what he wanted alright, for she could feel something hard prodding her belly. Kouga was completely aroused.

"Well?" he prompted, wiggling his hips for emphasis.

She put a hand up to his chest and she could feel his furiously pounding heart. His aroma had strengthened and she nearly panted with want. But she faltered when she realized he was still staring intently at her. "I'm... sore," she protested weakly, then groaned. How lame was that? she thought.

As he rolled on top of her, he grinned mischievously down at her. "Let's just see about that."

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

It was nearly noon when Kouga let his exhausted mate rest. But it was not out of the goodness of his heart that he left her alone. A phone call from his secretary saved Kagome from having to beg and plead for mercy from her tireless and still over-enthusiastic mate. When he told her that he was needed at the office, she practically shoved him out of the bed.

"Go to work!" she commanded, pushing weakly against his chest when he pounced on top of her. She laughed when her body sank into the softness of the mattress beneath the weight of his bigger, heavier frame. "Get...off...me!" she screeched as he teased her neck with his tongue. By now she was laughing so hard, tears flowed down her face.

When it was clear he could get no more play from his half-laughing/half-sobbing mate, Kouga heaved a tragic sigh and got up. "Alright, alright, I'm going," he muttered with a sad little pout. When he reached the bathroom, he threw a come-hither look back over his shoulder at Kagome who lay on her side, brazenly admiring his naked backside. "Wanna join me in the shower?" he asked hopefully.

"No, thanks. I'll just be in the way." Yawning, she stretched out luxuriously, like a cat and pulled the covers over her to conceal her body from him.

Kouga narrowed his eyes when the sheets made their way up to her chin. "Okay, have it your way, you hard-headed woman," he muttered reproachfully and disappeared into the bathroom.

Kagome turned over on her back and stared up at the ceiling with a wicked grin. She waited patiently, listening to the sounds of running water go from faucet to the light spray of the shower. When she heard him enter the shower, she threw off the sheets, jumped up and ran to the bathroom.

Needless to say, Kouga didn't mind the company.

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Yuki was at his brother's bedside when he awoke. "Hiroshi? How are you feeling?"

Sleep-heavy brown eyes fluttered open. They took a moment to focus on the fair creature beside him. "Yuki," he whispered, giving his big brother a gentle smile. "Hi."

"Hi, yourself," Yuki countered gently. He lifted a hand to brush his little brother's unruly curls away from his face and absently spread the shining silken locks over the pillow. "Did you sleep well?"

Hiro nodded slowly. "Yes, of course I did. How could I not, when I have you watching over me?"

A pang of conscience struck Yuki but he immediately shook it off. It was very hard to do so, seeing how it was his brother, his very own flesh and blood. But it had to be done. It was important...keeping his family together. He had to keep them together. If Hiro should find out, he'd understand. He'd have to.

Managing a humble smile, Yuki lowered his eyes. "Aw, thank you, Hiro. But I know you'd do the same for me, little brother." He reached over and picked up a bottle of pills from Hiro's bedside table. "Here, I've got your medicine for the afternoon. Now be a good little elf and take them for me, okay?"

Helping his brother sit up, he popped the pills, which were really a potion of his own making in solid form, into his mouth and tipped a small amount of water from a glass that also had rested on the table. When they were swallowed, Yuki settled his brother back against his pillows, rearranging them to Hiro's liking. "There, is that better? I have to go out in a little bit, okay? But I'll be back by the time you wake up." Giving his brother a smile, he leaned over and kissed his forehead. "Sleep tight, Hiro." With that, he was gone.

Hiro lay back against his pillows, eyes closed. After awhile, he sat up, put a hand to his mouth and spit out the pills, tossing them under his bed. He got up and made his way with excruciating slowness over to his wardrobe to change his robes. He couldn't appear before Kouga like this... although it really didn't matter when Kagome was going to be left alone with his lecherous brother. Kouga had to be warned.

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Kagome was having a great time with Hiro, who seemed to be back in perfect health. His cheeks were rosy; in fact, his skin glowed with health. By the looks of it, it was almost as if nothing had ever happened to him. He was just as he had always been before the accident.

Hiro had come for her that afternoon, almost an hour after Kouga had left for work. The moment she'd seen him waiting for her in the foyer, she had practically flown down the stairs and threw herself at him. Frantically she clung to him, terrified that if she let go, he would vanish and all would be as it was before when she thought he was dead. Even after last night, she couldn't be sure if that had been all a dream and as her arms tightened around his substantial form, she thanked Kami it hadn't been her imagination.

Carefully, he had pried her arms from around him and reassured her that he was real and still very much alive. It took him a couple of minutes to calm her down enough to get through to her.

Laughing nervously, Kagome nodded her head, letting him know that she was ok. He nodded back and asked her if she was ready to go. Kagome replied that she was and turned to leave, but a sound from the top of the stairs stopped her. Both of them turned to see what it was.

Sesshoumaru stared down at them from the first floor landing, his slim fingers gripping the rail. The look in his eyes was one of mistrust and aimed at Hiro. "Kagome," he said quietly, "don't go with him."

Kagome could sense Hiro's body tense up when he took hold of her hand. To Sesshoumaru she asked, "Why not? It's just Hiro." She refrained from reminding him that he had once tried to murder the both of them.

The pale youkai scowled. "Bad. He's a bad man." He pointed an accusing finger at Hiro.

"That's--" began the startled elf, but Kagome cut in.

"You," she spat coldly, staring up at him, "are in no position to say that about anyone." Whirling on her heel, she pulled Hiro away and out of the house.

Other than that small bit of unpleasantness, everything went smoothly. They went out to the mall, then to lunch and later the spent a couple of hours just talking at a small park about five miles away from Kouga's house.

ooooooooooooooooooooooo

Unbeknownst to either Kagome or her attentive escort, that while they were strolling and chatting in the park , a pale-faced yet determined elf made his way to Kouga's office at a turtle's pace. His weakened body protested with every movement but after what seemed an eternity, Hiro finally made it to Kouga's office and then to Kouga himself. The secretary, a mousy woman with enormous spectacles, buzzed him in without argument.

Upon seeing the pasty-faced man leaning heavily on the door knob, Kouga, who had been working at his desk, looked up with a start and jumped to his feet. "Hiro!" he exclaimed and ran over to him just as the elf pitched forward. Kouga caught Hiro before he hit the ground. "Kami! What's wrong? Hiro? Where's Kagome? Has there been an accident?" He carried Hiro to the couch and laid him down carefully.

Hiro's face now held a pinched look and he struggled to breathe. "Yuki..." he gasped. "with...Kagome." His eyes fluttered shut and his body went limp.

Kouga sat back on his heels, stunned. Yuki? Yuki was with Kagome? He stood up and went to the windows to stare out. From his lofty perch, the people looked like ants and the automobiles resembled multicolored beetles, crawling slowly along the street below.

He should have known that it wasn't Hiro who made that little housecall last night. Hiro wouldn't have been alone with Kagome with the door shut. At least, the real Hiro wouldn't dream of it. The Hiro from last night was a little too stiff, too controlled...almost as if he was trying to play the part but afraid to give too much away, in case Kouga suspected something.

Holding back the urge to put his fist through the glass, Kouga clenched his hands into white-knuckled fists. He should have suspected something was wrong! He knew how Hiro acted...but he hadn't even seen through Yuki's disguise. The costume was brilliant, but the portrayal was poor... Damn it all, he should have known!

Growling, he strode to his desk and grabbed the phone, dialing Shippo's cell phone. No answer. As soon as the voice mail came on, he hung up. Shit! Where was Shippo? He called again and this time, Shippo picked up.

"Kouga? Doshita no?"

"Oi, Shippo! Did Kagome happen to tell you where she and...and Hiro...were going?"

Muffled sounds of rustling paper came from Shippo's end. "No, I haven't seen her today. Why?"

"Damn it. Never mind, Shippo. Talk to you later," he muttered and hung up. He stared down at the phone and pressed 1, instantly dialing Kagome's number. His heart thundered in his chest as her phone rang once, twice, three times...

"Moshi-moshi? Kouga?" It was Kagome's voice and from the way her voice sounded, Kouga knew she had just been laughing. Yuki...was making her laugh. That bastard!

"Kagome? Honey? Are you with Yu--, I mean, Hiro?"

"Of course! You knew I was going out with him today. Why do you ask?"

"Um, no reason." He tapped his fingers impatiently on his desk. " Just be careful, okay?"

Her chuckle sounded in his ear. "Careful? I'm with Hiro, Kouga. What could possibly happen to me? He's supposed to protect me, right?"

Kouga looked over at the real Hiro, who lay passed out on his couch. "Sure. Of course he is, darling. If you see anything suspicious, go straight home, alright? I mean it, Kagome. Go straight home."

Even over the phone, he could see her confused frown. "Okay, Kouga. I understand." A pause, then, "Are you okay?"

"Yes, yes I'm fine. Just worried about you, is all. Where are you, exactly?" he asked. From the sounds surrounding her, it told him that she was in a park somewhere. Thank Kami she was out in public, where other people were around and that thought alone made him feel a little bit better. Yuki wouldn't try anything with other people about.

"We're at that park near the house," came her reply. "Why?"

"No reason. I just want to know where you are, beloved. How long do you plan on staying there?"

"Don't know, really. Do you want me to come home, Kouga?"

Yes! his mind screamed over and over again. Yes, yes yes! Go home right this minute! Aloud he said, "No, its okay. I only wanted to know where you were and if you were okay. I do worry about you, my dear. How would you like to go out to dinner tonight?" he asked, all the while his mind was cursing Yuki.

Kagome sighed. "Mmm. Sounds wonderful. What did you have in mind?"

The wolf smiled. "American? Or would you rather have Italian? Either way, it doesn't matter as long as I'm eating with you." He could hear the Hiro-impersonator in the background getting impatient. Kouga couldn't resist a satisfied smirk at the elf's expense. Bastard, he thought. At least he couldn't do anything at the moment. There were people everywhere in that park.

"Mmmm. American sounds fine. I'll be home in an hour or so. Okay? I love you, Kouga."

"I love you, too, Kagome. Be careful."

He caught her laugh again just before she hung up. Kouga listened to the dial tone for nearly a minute before realizing that she had already gone. Slowly, he replaced the receiver and again looked over at the unmoving figure on his sofa. If he didn't know any better, he'd almost mistake Hiro for a woman. Like his brother, he had a soft, almost feminine face. But unlike his brother, that sweet countenance had never concealed a devious, perverted mind. Hiro was always very open and friendly; he didn't have one nasty bone in his body, despite having broken most of them in his recent accident.

He knew he should already be on his way to the park in order to rip Yuki a new one, but he couldn't leave Hiro alone. The poor elf was very ill, anyone could see that, and completely unfit to travel. As he reached for the phone, it rang. Kouga picked it up after the first ring.

"Moshi-moshi?" he answered.

"Kouga?" It was Sango. By the sound of it, she was pretty upset. And by the sounds Sesshoumaru was making in the background, Kouga could tell the inu was even more upset than Sango. The poor youkai was unleashing the most pathetic howls he'd ever heard.

"Yeah. What's going on, Sango?"

There was a muffled sob and Sango offered a few reassuring words to the suffering one. "Kouga, Sesshoumaru is upset," she whispered into the receiver, as though that would keep him from hearing what she said.

No kidding, he thought wryly and winced as the inu gave off another howl. "What's the matter with him? Did he stub his toe again?"

There was a sound of a scuffle and cry of surprise from Sango, then Sesshoumaru's panicked voice came on the line. "Kouga? Kouga? Are you there?"

"Yes, Sesshoumaru, I'm here. What's going on? Are you okay?" Kouga frowned. What was going on over there?

"Kouga, Kagome went with a bad man today," the inu said gravely. "He's very bad, Kouga. You have to find her."

Upon hearing those words, Kouga grabbed his coat and car keys. "I know, Sesshoumaru, you're right. I'll find her." He mentally cursed himself for not leaving sooner.

"Will she be alright, Kouga?"

"Yeah, big guy, Kagome will be just fine. I'll tell her that you were a big help, okay?"

There was a tense silence on the other end as Sesshoumaru pondered that point. "If you tell her I helped, will she still hate me anyway?"

Kouga managed to shrug into his jacket with the phone still at his ear. He frowned at the note of quiet despair in Sesshoumaru voice. The poor guy was really hurting because Kagome didn't like him. Mustering as much reassurance has he could he replied, "No, Sesshy, I don't think she'll hate you. Listen, I have to go find Kagome right now. You be a brave youkai and look after Sango and the house for me. Can you handle that?" he asked, looking around for his cell phone. It was under a stack of papers beside his computer. He grabbed it and shoved it into his coat pocket.

"Hai, Kouga," replied Sesshoumaru quite seriously. "I can do that."

"Good job. I'm counting on you. I'll talk to you later, big guy." He hung up and headed over to Hiro. Muttering many apologies under his breath, as well as reasons why he couldn't just leave him there all by himself, Kouga reached down and grabbed the elf, slinging him over his shoulder. On his way out he announced quite nonchalantly to his shocked secretary that he was going home for the day and that she could do likewise if she chose to. Ignoring her incoherent babbling, he headed for the elevators.

Once he had Hiro situated somewhat comfortably in the passenger seat beside him, he started his car and drove out of the garage. He hoped that traffic wouldn't be too bad on the way over to the park.

Thankfully, it wasn't bad at all. He made it the park and began prowling around for one of Yuki's automobiles. He didn't catch a glimpse of one of the jerk's motorcycles, so Kouga presumed that he must have taken a car. The only problem was that he didn't know what kind of car Yuki drove.

"Hiro," he whispered, shaking the other gently. "Hiro, wake up."

Hiro stirred slightly and stared confusedly at Kouga. "Kouga? That you?" He yawned mightily and looked around slowly, sitting up as he did so. "Where are we?"

"Looking for your hentai brother," Kouga answered abruptly. "What car does he drive?"

"Ferrari," whispered Hiro. "The Superamerica. It's a blood red convertible. A very sweet...ride..." Panting with the exhertion of so much speaking and movement, he lay back heavily against the seat. "Can't... miss it."

Just as Hiro said, Kouga spotted the expensive sports car with ease. He had thought about owning that car once, but decided not to. It was too nice a car and he was not the greatest driver in Japan.

He parked his car right behind Yuki's, blocking it in, and jumped out, taking the keys with him. Right away his sensitive nose picked up on his beloved's scent. Shooting a quick glance back at his car, he noticed that Hiro was once more out like a light. Kouga held up his keys and pointed his little car remote at his vehicle and pressed the door lock button before dashing off in the direction Kagome's scent went.

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

It was late afternoon by the time Kagome and Hiro were making their way back to where his car was parked. She was chuckling at some witty remark made by her companion but stopped suddenly when she noticed his face had changed. Drastically.

Gone was the sweet, cheerful smile she had always seen on his lips. Instead, a hard line had taken its place and his gentle brown eyes had narrowed into steely slits...and she felt afraid. Looking around, she realized with some discomfort that the park was empty.

"Hiro...? Wh-what's wrong?" she asked tentatively and allowed her gaze to follow his. She saw his car, untouched, but behind it was another car... Kouga's car. For some unknown reason, she felt a great relief wash over her, knowing that Kouga was nearby. Letting out a pent-up breath she exclaimed, "It's Kouga! I wonder where he is?" She began looking around but a hard grip on her arm tugged her forward. Kagome gasped. "Hiro? What's going on?"

A muffled curse from Hiro forced Kagome to stare up at him in shock. His handsome face was contorted with fury now and she staggered back, only to have his wrathful eyes turn on her. "Where do you think you're going?" he spat.

"Yuki!"

The sound of that voice caused both Kagome and Hiro turn to see who had spoken. Kagome felt bewildered, then faint, when she saw who it was. "H-hiro?" she called out weakly as the Hiro she was with dragged her back behind him.

The second Hiro was leaning heavily against the Ferrari, his face blanched white with strain. He was perspiring like crazy; the collar of his robes was drenched. "Let...her go...Yuki."

Yuki? Kagome looked up at the back of Hiro's head just as the brown curls melted away to reveal straight, pure gold locks. Gasping, she tried backing away once more, but a pair of glittering, familiar emerald eyes stared back at her over one elegantly slim shoulder.

"I'm not letting you go, Kagome, so you better get used to it and me." Yuki pulled her to the front of his body, keeping both her and the exhausted Hiro in his sights. He whirled her around, her back against his front, both arms wrapped securely around her. "Oi, Hiro! Where's that damned wolf? I don't know how you figured it out, but I know you didn't get here on your own. You should be in bed, brother dear. Why couldn't you just leave everything well enough alone?"

Hiro lost up the struggle to stay on his feet and slid down the side of his brother's car and onto the pavement. "I... couldn't let you ruin their...happiness, brother dear. And it shouldn't... be too hard to...figure out...how I knew what you were...up to." A small smile flitted swiftly across his face and for a split second, he looked exactly like Yuki when he was plotting something devious. "Whatever villainous blood...courses through your veins, Yuki, also flows through...mine. I know instinctively if you are...up to something. I can think like you...if need be."

He rested a moment before continuing, his voice sounding stronger. "I knew that you planned to take Kagome, but I just didn't know when. Then you tried to slip me some medicine that I knew I had no need of. Later, when I pretended to be asleep, I felt you cut my hand and take some of my powers. Did you think I would not notice that? So the million dollar question here is: How would you be able to get past Kouga to Kagome? Let's face it, he doesn't trust you and would never let you within 50 feet of her without a regiment of armed bodyguards surrounding her at all times. But there was one person he trusted implicitly with his intended mate...one person he wouldn't mind leaving alone with. Me."

"So you disguised yourself as Hiro to visit me," concluded Kagome quietly. Her mind was spinning and in the midst of it all, she wondered just where the hell her mate was. "Kami...I let you kiss me, thinking that you were Hiro. How could you, Yuki?" she asked, struggling in vain against the prison of his arms.

Yuki laughed harshly. "How could I? Simple, my koi." He bent down, turning her just so and capturing her lips with his in a brutal kiss. "Because you're mine, that's why," he said, lifting his head up and brushed his lips against her temple. "You were mine, once upon a time. But like a fool, I let you out of my sight for one minute and the next thing I know, I'm in a cave staring at your dead body that had a big, gaping hole in your chest where your heart had been."

Kagome groaned. That's right...he believed that she was Midoriko's reincarnation. She probably was, but that didn't mean he could do this to her. "Yuki, please! I do like you, really! But you can't treat me like this! That life was over centuries ago and this is now. I'm in love with Kouga. You've got to understand that!" she cried in a panicked voice, still trying to wrench herself from his grasp.

Another laugh erupted from Yuki's throat. He took a firm hold of the struggling female in his arms and tucked her under one arm as though she were a bag of flour, before walking to his car. "Get out of the way, Hiro," he said, unlocking the driver's side door. Hiro was still slumped against the car, but he was leaning back against the door.

"No...way," replied Hiro. His serene face looked waxy; once vibrant eyes drooped with fatigue and had a glassy, fixed stare to them. His chest heaved with labored breaths.

"I won't tell you again. Get out of my way, Hiro," commanded Yuki impatiently over Kagome's cries. But he jumped slightly when he felt a sudden breeze kick up out of nowhere. Looking around he said, "I don't want to hurt you. You're still unwell."

Hiro laughed softly. "Do not fret about that, my dearest brother. You won't. I promise you that."

Yuki shifted his wriggling bundle. He was quite prepared to nudge Hiro out of the way with his foot, if necessary. "Fine. Then I will just have to remove you by force."

"I guess you'll have to," replied his brother, who gazed rather unconcernedly up at him.

Frowning, Yuki leaned over and grabbed Hiro by the collar, gently hoisting him up and away from his car. He lay the fragile, defenseless elf to the side, far away from his car. "Sorry, Hiro. But I saw her first. She's mine."

When he straightened, he realized that Kagome had been yanked out of his grasp. Dumbfounded, he stared down at Hiro, who was clutching the girl to him. "Sorry, Yuki, but Kagome isn't yours. She's Kouga's and I would suggest that you start recognizing that fact." Seeing his brother lean forward to snatch her back, Hiro summoned the wind to push him back and keep him back.

Angered further by Hiro working against him, Yuki snapped, "Fuck him! What does he know? She was mine first! I've waited a long time to have her again, even longer that Kouga! So don't you tell me who she belongs to! Damn it, Hiroshi! Let me go!"

As suddenly as he was pinned against his car, he was set loose; and as soon as he was set loose, he prepared to pounce on his brother and Kagome. But a low growl came from behind Yuki, stopping him cold. He didn't get a chance to turn around, because just before he could, a hard object slammed into him. He was sent flying into the side of Kouga's brand new car and smacked hard into it, causing the body of the car to crumple inwards. Shaking his head to clear it, Yuki stumbled to get to his feet and turned to face his attacker.

Kouga stood between him and Hiro and Kagome, those famous blue eyes glowing an unfriendly shade of blood red. "You dare touch my mate?" he snarled, baring his fangs. Cracking his knuckles he went on calmly, "I warned you, elf boy. I don't want you near her. When will you get that through your head?"

"Heh. You don't scare me, you overgrown mutt." He dropped his hands to his sides and felt the familiar heat spread along his palms and down to his fingertips. The flames began to shoot out from his hands, up his arms to his shoulders where the flames began to lick at his gleaming gilt tresses. The fires of hell burned in his eyes. "Come on, Kouga. Fight me...for Kagome." He raised an arm above his head while a ball of fire began to swirl and grow around his hand. "I think you already know who's gonna win."

As Kouga and Yuki began to fight, Kagome managed to pull Hiro a short ways from the action. He was so weak he couldn't speak and all Kagome could do was wrap her arms around him and rock him while she cried. She loved her dark-haired elf so much! How could his own brother do what he did to him?

'Don't hate him, Kagome,' Hiro's voice whispered in her head. 'I don't. He only wants to keep his family together. But this was not the way to do it. He was wrong to deceive you so.'

There was a loud crash and Kagome jumped. Looking up, she saw Kouga's car lying on its roof with flames coming out of the interior. "Stop it!" she screamed at the warring males. But she knew they didn't hear her. Either that, or they were just too full of anger against the other to stop. "Please! Please stop!" she sobbed, clutching Hiro to her.

'It will be alright, Kagome. Your...savior is... on his way...'

Hiro's voice in her head began to fade and Kagome panicked. "Hiro? Hiro! No...no, please!" she cried, shaking him. "Don't leave me! Damn it, don't leave me!"

A small cough erupted from Hiro's throat and he faintly shook his head. "Not...dying, Kagome... resting..." he whispered and with a ghost of his sweet smile, his eyes closed. A moment later, he turned his face to her chest and passed out.

Kagome shifted him slightly, all the while fervently hoping that he wouldn't die in her arms, when she heard a deep, fury-filled growl come from somewhere above them. So loud was it that Yuki and Kouga, both lightly charred and panting, stopped fighting. All three of them looked upwards. Something white, massive and incredibly fuzzy came hurtling to earth, right on top of the elf. Yuki's flames flared out once more, but he was rudely shoved to the ground as a furry giant boa-thing swatted at him, putting out the fire that covered him.

Kouga, patting at a small patch of fire on his pant leg, let out a hearty laugh. Kagome's face drew into a scowl at the sight of the newcomer, but it receded when she realized that he had come to their rescue. As long as Kouga was okay and Hiro was okay...she supposed it was okay.

The enormous white inu shrank and morphed into his normal form, looked in her direction. After knocking the crap out of Yuki and leaving him unconscious on the ground, he ran to Kagome and knelt in front of her. "Kagome? Are you okay now?" asked Sesshoumaru, all traces of his earlier anger gone.

She stared up at him and for the first time in perhaps a very, very long time, she felt no fear in his presence. Nodding, she felt her lips draw into a smile...and it wasn't a fake smile, either. "Yes. Yes, I'm okay, Sesshoumaru." This time when he put out his hand, she took it. "Thank you...for helping us."

Sesshoumaru's pale skin glowed pink. He lowered his eyes and bowed his head. "Y-you're welcome, Kagome," he stammered quietly.

Someone knelt beside Kagome and she turned to look upon the reddened face of her beloved. "Kouga..." She tried not to notice the poor, blackened state of his clothing. Yuki could have burned him alive if Sesshoumaru hadn't come when he did.

He grinned back at her and put a hand up, brushing her hair back behind one ear. "Yeah, I'm still here. How are you doing?" Kagome nodded and he sighed. "Good. Let's get this poor guy back into bed." He picked Hiro up gently, turned to go, then groaned. "Aw, crap," he muttered, looking in the direction of his car, which was still upended and blazing merrily. Off in the distance, approaching sirens could be heard.

Turning, he looked at Sesshoumaru. "Hey big guy, could you do me a huge favor?" The taiyoukai nodded enthusiastically and Kouga went on. "I want you to take Kagome home. Could you do that for me?"

The tall inu grinned happily down at the youkai he thought of as an uncle. "Hai, Kouga! I won't let you down!"

"Good job, Sesshoumaru." Kouga went to Yuki's car and settled Hiro in the passenger's side before turning back to take his mate in his arms. "I'll be home as soon as I can, okay? I'll get Shippo to come get me after I get this business all sorted out. I'll make it out to be an accident some kind of way."

Kagome looked back over where his car rested upside down and shook her head. "Good luck with that," she muttered, giving him a tight squeeze about the waist. "Come home soon."

"I will," he answered, handing her to Sesshoumaru who bent down to pick her up. In a moment they were both gone, leaving Kouga with two unconscious elves to face the fire department and the police alone.

But Kagome need not have worried about the demise of her mate. Kouga, the powerful figure that he was, was able to talk his way out of it. The two unconscious men with him were friends of his; both had drunk quite a bit, Kouga said, and had passed out where they were. The upended car was an accident, caused by both men who had gotten a little too rowdy and managed to tip it over. The fire was easily explained, seeing as how Yuki was a smoker and had accidentally flicked his butt near the car, but a freak gust of wind had blown it on the exposed bottom of said car.

Of course, the entire scenario sounded totally improbable, but the police took the powerful Mr. Narita at his word and let him, along with his friends, go with a word of thanks for his cooperation.

By the time Yuki finally gained consciousness and found he had a rather massive headache, they were still at the park. It was full dark now and Shippo had joined them. He noticed that Kouga's trashed automobile was gone, with only a blackened spot on the concrete to indicate where it had been.

"Where's...Kagome?" the elf muttered, sitting up.

"Don't worry about it," Shippo said, coming to stand over him. "She's at home resting."

Kouga got up and went to help Yuki to his feet. "You need to get Hiro home. He's getting a fever, I think."

Yuki staggered a bit and put a hand to his throbbing head. "Damn, what the dropped on top of me? A meteor?"

Chuckles filled the air. "Close," Kouga answered. "Sesshoumaru, in his inu form."

"Kami," groaned the elf, making his way to the driver's side of his car. When he saw the pale form of his brother, he choked back a sob. "Hiro...! What the hell was I thinking?" He clambered in and quickly checked to see how Hiro was faring. As Kouga said, he did seem to be getting a fever. "Shitshitshitshit!" he growled, fumbled for his keys and then started the ignition. The powerful car roared to life and Yuki threw it in reverse. Tires squealed and the elves were gone; the Ferrari's red taillights winked at them through the darkness.

Both youkai sat for a moment, staring after the car until it vanished. "Thank heaven's that's over," Kouga muttered. "I don't think he'll stay away but he will for awhile, I imagine, until Hiro gets better." He stood up, followed by Shippo.

"Hmm," agreed Shippo as they got in his car.

They drove in silence all the way home.