Once again, some Japanese words that not all of you may know. Check previous chapters for other words.

Oi – Hey

Gomen - Sorry

Han – A suffix used at the end of someone's name, like san or chan. If anyone could tell us what cases this is usually used in, we'd appreciate it.

Doushite – Why?

Nanda? – What? (Made a typo with this one in ch 1)

Anata – More than one meaning, but in this case it sorta means "dear". It's what a woman would call her husband.

Hakama – Those big poofy pant-like things that Kikyou wears. It's the closest word we could come up with for Inuyasha's pants.

Haori – A haori is an outer kimono jacket. Technically not what Inuyasha's robe is, but it's the word we've grown accustomed to using.

Jiji, or ji-chan – Ways to address an old man, in this case. Jiji is the way Inuyasha says it, which is more crude. Kagome uses the second way.

Baba, or ba-chan – Same thing as the above, only for an old woman.

Blooming Love – Chapter 3

CRACK! The eardrums of both youths were pierced painfully as an ominous crackling sound erupted into a furious explosion, shaking the leaves around them. A white hot bolt from the sky clashed violently with the ground just twenty feet away from the pair, striking a tree and splitting it down the middle, leaving only charred remains in its wake. The storm was directly overhead. Kagome's eyes shot open blindly. Her mouth shot open as well, but proved to be working much more effectively. She produced quite a shriek to compliment the rumble of the thunder that jolted into her ears and through her body. Her head automatically lowered itself to Inuyasha's shoulder, her hands clutching his shirt. Inuyasha got a respective jolt through his body, as well as his poor, sensitive ears with the combined lightning strike and female scream. But despite the pain ringing in his hearing, the boy's first instinctive reaction to such a succession of sounds was to protect Kagome. Arms went about her instantly and hugged the girl closely to his chest, one hand holding the back of her head while he bared his teeth to the source of the disruption.

Inuyasha realized only three seconds later that there was no attack, only nature bringing her fury down upon the fizzled tree in the not-so-far distance. Kagome slowly turned her head from his shoulder to look off towards the source of the sound.

"...That lightning was close..."

Inuyasha nodded a bit tentatively, refraining from taking his eyes off of the tree. It took him nearly half a minute more to realize that Kagome was being hugged tightly against his body...that his arms were holding her...and...what had just happened a moment ago.

…….

Kagome was not thinking about anything other than the fact that the lighting had struck very close, and that she was very glad it hadn't hit them. Then embarrassment took out a military trumpet to alert Kagome to her position. Her brain became a frenzy of activity. At the same instance Inuyasha's arms immediately loosened themselves from the girl, whipping panickedly back to his sides. His entire torso jerked backward as he voiced a sharp rasp of shock. Nearly as quick as the lightning that had just struck, Inuyasha twisted himself around, turning his back to the girl that was just as bewildered as he, as to hide the crimson invading his furiously freaked-out features. Kagome whirled around as soon as his arms left her, a red tint burning on her cheeks.

Oh, that did not just happen. ...But it did! We almost...he...was the flower really--really doing something? I mean, is that possible, or were we just responding subconsciously to the suggestion that it might happen? Yes, subconscious power of suggestion, that's all it is. So, so if I make sure to keep my mind firmly in the right place, we should be fine..yes…

She didn't feel very reassured yet, despite the logic she tried to run through the fears in her mind. Inuyasha kept his body firmly in place, meanwhile. As if almost terrified to turn around and face Kagome OR the flower now, his form was stiff as a glass window...one that might shatter violently if given the slightest touch. The hanyou's expression was wild and panicked. His eyes couldn't keep still, couldn't keep themselves from shifting from left to right.

Kagome took a moment to realize that, in their sudden movement, the haori had fallen off of her head, and his as well. Cool rain was pattering down on hair that had started to dry.
I can't just...sit like that again.. Inuyasha himself didn't notice that the haori had begun to slip off of his own head until a few more pats of rain fell upon the tips of his ears. A perfectly logical assumption that Kagome must also be exposed to the weather once more occurred to him. The hanyou shifted uneasily where he sat, the urge to cover her and the force holding him stiffly in place battling fiercely with each other.

Kagome had an easier time of it. Slightly. She tentatively turned her head to glance over her shoulder. He's getting wet now too. The girl closed her eyes and bit her lower lip. She then took in a breath and held it as she turned herself around, gathering the haori. Quickly, and a bit clumsily she scooted just close enough to put it back over the two of them.

"It, anou, fell off." She spoke softly.

Inuyasha could feel the tiny hairs all over his body stand at full attention once they sensed Kagome moving again. An unpleasant shiver accompanied that, and he reacted with a shout.

"AH...yeah! It did." Inuyasha cleared his throat, allowing the girl to place the robe back over him, but not even attempting to turn and look at her. Kagome made no effort to face him either. Dismayed with the uncomfortable situation at hand, the girl caught herself thinking, If that lightning hadn't struck, we wouldn't be stuck like this. A second later Kagome was ardently admonishing herself. That would have been bad! What if it had gone further, like that flower predicted! We weren't in a normal state of mind, and I shouldn't hope for it under these circumstances!

Inuyasha allowed a few minutes more of one of the most agonizingly annoying silences of his life to pass before finally breaking it. "I told you these things last too damn long!" He was acting like their previous encounter had never happened...and it was most likely that that was how he would continue to act. Kagome didn't answer. Instead, she rested her chin on her knees, and glumly thought that he might be right.

Meanwhile, past the outreaches of the forest and tucked away under a mat in the safety of the young widow's home, Sango opened an eye. That last blast of thunder had been rather loud, and now she and Kirara were both awake. She rolled over and glanced over the edge of her futon, checking to see if there was any light coming from the widow's room. Last she had known, everyone in the home had gone to sleep...but she didn't trust Miroku. At this very moment, he could be in there with the widow...

Fortunately, Miroku had already attempted advances on the widow, and had failed. He could be found sulking off to the side of the hut, mentally asking why fate dangled two women in front of him and then snatched them away. Sango's eyes found him, and rested there for a moment. He was still awake. She sighed inwardly...he must have been turned down. Briefly, the taijiya attempted to return to sleep, but for reasons unknown her mind was very restless. Finally, with another glance to the monk, she spoke out to him in as platonic a voice as possible.

"Houshi-sama, you're still awake?"

Shippou had also been jolted awake by the lightning. After the initial little jump, he sat there blinking groggily. Miroku sighed from the corner.

"Hai, Sango," Once Miroku spoke, Shippou began to listen, naturally.

"You haven't been awake all night, have you?" The girl asked, rubbing some sleep from her eye.

Miroku smirked, turning his head towards the girl. "Hai."

Shippou piped up groggily, rubbing his eyes, "He's probably thinking about Inuyasha and Kagome." Sango's features shifted into mild concern at the mention of her absent friends.

"That's right...I wonder if they're doing alright." There was a moment of uncomfortable silence.

"Do you think they did it yet?" Shippou asked. Sango's eyes temporarily became the size of baseballs. She turned to the kitsune, looking a little more surprised than she probably should've.

"Shippou!" The girl chided.

Miroku replied before Shippou could defend himself, "I doubt it, actually." His words carried a snide tone.

"Why?" Shippou asked. Miroku smiled sardonically,

"If anybody could thwart the flower, and deny its gift, it's those two." Sango tapped a finger to her chin absently, eyelids hanging a little.

"Mmn, you're right. Kagome-chan really isn't that kind of girl."

"And Inuyasha is too stupid," Miroku murmured to himself. The taijiya sighed flatly. Yet another all-too-pathetic truth. She didn't know whether to feel glad that her love-forsaken friend finally had some time alone with the man she loved, or just feel sorry that she'd left her alone with an idiot.

"Maybe it was too cruel of us to leave them alone like that..." Casting her eyes to the rain, another thing occurred to Sango. "It's been raining for a while now...do you think that the two of them are alright out there?" Miroku leaned his head back against the wall and closed his eyes.

"We do not know for sure what they are doing at this point. There is still a chance that they may be in the midst of private endeavors as we speak." Sango gave Miroku an odd look. Simply the thought of imagining her friends in...such a situation...was enough to make her start blushing.

"Why are you saying that, all of a sudden?" She asked a tad uneasily.

"Well, you asked if we should go get them, and that is why such a course of action might be unwise." Miroku answered calmly.

"But you were just talking about how unlikely it is!" Sango protested.

"I did not say anything was certain."

"It's soaking wet outside. If I were in Kagome-chan's position now, I would just want to find shelter and get to sleep." She stated, doing her best to counter Miroku's one-track assumptions.

"The flower isn't affecting you right now though, Sango." A trace of disappointment might have been evident in Miroku's tone. Sango urked a little.

"You really think..?"

"With the flower there, we cannot be sure."

Silence.

"...So how far do you think they've gotten?" Shippou asked.

That begot a large blink on Sango's behalf. "Sh-Shippou..."

"Probably still just idly cuddling." Miroku replied.

Silence...

"I hope it works. Then I could be his big brother, and teach him everything I know!"

Sango vigorously shook her head. "Mou, that's enough you two! Kagome-chan and Inuyasha just aren't the types who would let themselves go like that. For all we know they've been sitting silently by that tree all night."

Kagome and Inuyasha were in fact doing just that...and as far as either of them was concerned, their activities would consist of no more than miserably sitting there for the rest of the night. Inuyasha's ears hung low, as if they were being crushed by the weight of what had become a 20 minute silence. He couldn't sleep, and he couldn't have any peace knowing Kagome was awake...not after what had just happened. The hanyou clenched his eyes shut and dug his claws into the soil below. This was so frustrating...of all nights for it to rain, for him to be left alone with her! He couldn't even look at her...if he looked, he might see what had started to pull him in before... But this was turning out to be just as unpleasant. Kagome was just as afraid to look at him, and yet just as dissatisfied with the current estrangement. Just as she had the first time, Kagome eventually found herself venturing into some idle conversation.

"I remember that I used to love it when it rained like this." She remarked. The boy's pointed ears picked up at the sound of her voice. Whether it was out of alertness or relief, we'll never know... Without turning to her, he asked,

"What?"

"When I was little, I loved the rain, " Kagome reiterated, trying her best to absorb herself in the memories rather than the current discomfort. "I used to dance in it whenever my parents let me." A smirk and a snicker fought their way to escape onto the hanyou's face. His tense shoulders relaxed a little.

"You danced in it?" His tone helped to relax her a little more,

"Nn...I'd twirl around and skip with endless energy. I didn't care that I was wet back then." Inuyasha's eyes lowered themselves a little.

"S'funny...I never liked goin' out in the rain that much."

"Oh? I'd have thought you were impartial to it."

"Pff, it doesn't matter much now. But when I was a kid, it wasn't much fun." Inuyasha's eyes became unfocused. He was now looking directly ahead of himself, across the clearing...unwittingly allowing Kagome to see his face, and to see that he wasn't really looking at the brush ahead. He was watching ghosts of the past, one in particular...one that huddled inside a hollow tree trunk, rain pouring in heaps around it. As the next ring of thunder pounded itself through the clouds, his mind watched that ghostly past version of himself crouch and snarl at the sky, startled by the noise. But as he realized that the thunder was only the sound of the sky, not the bellow of another murderous youkai...and that no one was there to protect him from either...the young Inuyasha retreated further inside his hiding place and curled tightly, eyes watching the outside intently. His mother never had liked it when he went out into the rain alone...

Kagome's eyes quickly caught the chance to see his face, and seized it before she could tell them to do otherwise. Her smile faded as she did...for it was now more than obvious that his distaste for the rain fell to more than just a past annoyance...

A hardly audible sigh just may have escaped the hanyou's perplexing features. Kagome's brow was knit with sympathy.

"Inuyasha..."

The girl's voice snapped Inuyasha out of his trance, and he turned to her. His face had returned to normal, once again as if nothing out of the ordinary had just happened.

"Nanda?"

Kagome decided that it was best not to pursue whatever memory he had just relived. She shook her head,

"Nn, betsuni."

Inuyasha dismissed her inquiry, a rare occurrence. He had certainly mellowed through the course of the night.

"This ain't the same as when we were kids, eh?" He commented, glancing toward the sky.

"Hnn...I guess not, " Kagome replied, waxing philosophically, "I guess we went through a reversal of sorts. You didn't like the rain, but now you don't mind it. I used to love the rain, and now I'd rather not get wet..."

"Things change." He added simply.

"Hai... They sure do..." The girl began to smile as she leaned back against Inuyasha. Poor Inuyasha had been enjoying the relaxed state his body had found. Now it went completely stiff, yet again.

"E-...eh?"

"It's really cozy under here..." Kagome crooned, "Dry, warm...closed off from the rest of the world..." Kagome's voice was soft…amorous.

…….

Inuyasha leaned away a little, his eyes now wide as sweat formed on his brow.

"Wh...what are you--"

She giggled, "What are you acting so nervous for?"

"Why are YOU acting so weird all of a sudden?" He demanded, a shake in his voice. Kagome started to let her arms creep around him. Inuyasha clumsily jerked back, to no avail.

"Ka-Kagome!" His voice cracked.

"There's nowhere to run now...and you know it." Kagome purred, pressing herself against the perplexed boy. Through the two drenched shirts and bra, he could feel little nubs protruding from the center of each breast...which so happened to be pressing against him as well.
Inuyasha's face illuminated in a manner all-too-similar to the flower hanging above them both. He stumbled backward in an attempt to get up, but only wound up falling onto his back. The mass of white hair behind him cushioned his head, but there was no protection from Kagome's advances. Scrambling to push both his and her torsos off of the ground, his hands slipped on the wet grass. Little did the poor hanyou notice the skies clearing as he continued to stutter immeasurably.

"O-oi, what the hell is wrong with you? Snap out of it, Kagome!" His voice continued to crack through his next two sentences.

"This rain...and this wonderful flower...they were a blessing..." Kagome explained gently as she laid there on top of him. An inebriated smile played across her face. Inuyasha froze for a moment upon looking at her face, while her jet hair fell all about him. He was either too panicked or just too stricken by his position to notice the odd look of her eyes.

"Are you crazy?" He practically squeaked.

"You cannot avoid our destiny any longer, A-na-taaa," she said in a sing song voice as her hands rubbed over his chest and sides. Inuyasha shut his eyes tightly and jerked his head as far away from her as it would go...which wasn't very far. As he was prone to doing in these rare instances of sexual-tension-induced-emotional panic, The boy did not use the force he so easily could have in order to push her away. Instead he protested in a raspy cry,

"No, don't!" Kagome's hands continued to rove his torso, and eventually made their way down to his hip...and then his pelvis. At this point she paused, and then grinned triumphantly. The girl began to sit up...and push back. Inuyasha didn't get more than a second of relief, however, because an instant later she was leaning over his hakama to undo them.

"I've got you now," she chirped, licking her lips. Inuyasha's muscles became tense as a balloon about to be popped. His heart felt like it stopped beating for at least two seconds, and his eyes' size overtook most of his face, which was gathering enough sweat to match the finished rainstorm.

"S...s...stop it, Kagome!" He creaked out, hand finally darting out to grab her wrist... Kagome's seduced expression suddenly changed to immeasurable anger.

'How DARE you try to stop me! I will not allow it!" And with her free hand, she slapped him. The stricken hanyou blinked rapidly in response to the sting on his cheek, finding that his eyelids were the only part of him able to move quickly after such a shock.

"What the...did you just HIT me?" Inuyasha gave no notice to the bouncy little squeak sound emitting from his hakama, which then lead off into the grass.

Kagome was a vision of fury and sadness. She pushed Inuyasha away violently, snatched his haori, and ran with it,

"You idiot! You've ruined our chance to be together!"

…..

Inuyasha stared after the retreating Kagome as if she'd grown a cow's head from her rump. "You idiot!" she repeated more loudly, sounding on the verge of tears. Inuyasha sat up, leaves and blades of grass sticking in and out of his hair. The hanyou looked as frazzled as might be possible as he stared bewilderedly off at Kagome, sweatdropping and twitching.

"Oi..."

Kagome then ran into a tree. It was quite an impact, too, giving a crack comparable to thunder.

"Shit! Kagome!" Inuyasha leapt to his feet and then to her side, kneeling by the girl's crumpled body. With a hand on her shoulder, he shook her back and forth carefully. "Kagome! Kagome!"

Kagome popped up like a rake somebody had stepped on.

"Let GO of me!" The girl wrestled herself away from the tentative hanyou as quickly as she could, and then began to claw her way up the tree with surprising agility. Inuyasha didn't leap up after her, rather stared upward with bowl-sized eyes and downturned brows.

"...what the hell." On the tree's trunk, Kagome was sobbing and desperately shredding bark off in her attempts to scale it.

"Anata, why do you risk your life just to avoid me!" She cried. Inuyasha's vision just happened to catch sight of a familiar bouncing dot making its way up the tree as he followed Kagome with his eyes. He also recognized the faint, elderly voice that cried out in protest,

"Why can't you just leave me to my freedom?"

……..

Inuyasha twitched. He made a bound for the next limb of the tree that he saw the dot heading for. In a flash he was perched upon it, open palm lashing out to catch the fleeing object and hold it in a fist. Inuyasha growled as he gave his hand a good squeeze, then opened his palm. There, flattened as thoroughly as a sheet of parchment, was Myouga. The hanyou spoke in a low, threatening growl.

"What have you done, Myouga-jiji?" Myouga regained his three-dimensional form in the next moment, lifting one of his stubby little arms to rub at his bulbous head. It didn't take long for the flea to notice just what sort of a predicament he was in now...Inuyasha looked pissed.

"A-ah! Inuyasha-sama! Imagine running into you on such a gloomy ni-"

"Cut the CRAP, you puny old bastard." The boy snarled. His eyebrow was at a dangerous twitch. Kagome stared up at Inuyasha, her face brimming with a number of intense emotions. Inuyasha pinched the tiny collar of the flea's shirt between his fingers and dangled him menacingly in the air. "That's your damn fiancé down there, isn't it?" Myouga blinked down at the clinging schoolgirl, bug-eyes staring at an adversary only he could see at the moment. Fear flooded his little flea features, and he began to struggle.

"Honestly, Inuyasha-sama! I do not know what you're talking about! I was merely trying to find shelter from the rain tonight, and..."

A tan dot pelted furiously from under the haori Kagome had been holding over her head. "Myouga-haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!" it bellowed in surprising volume. It was indeed the female flea Shouga, who then released Kagome from her spell. At that point, Kagome blinked twice, and was quite shocked to find herself ten feet up a tree trunk, hugging it like a koala. Her eyes became little dots, and her mouth elongated into a squiggle that dripped off of her face.

"W-what's going on!" The poor, confused girl yelped. After all, those possessed by Shouga have no memory of what they did while under her possession.

Myouga's futile struggling became more intense, tears starting to form at his oversized eyes. "I beg of you Inuyasha-sama, release me!"

"Not on your life, jiji." Inuyasha spoke menacingly. He closed his fist around Myouga once more, allowing only his tiny little head to pop out. The flea gulped. "Now tell me what the HELL is going on here." The hanyou felt a slight tickle on his knuckle as the large female flea landed there to fume and sob at close quarters to her reluctant lover. Her own saucer eyes were brimming with raindrop-sized tears...(which makes one wonder how or why these fleas were so intimidated by rain in the first place)

"Myouga-han, doushite...Doushite?"

Inuyasha's hand could hardly feel the squirming and kicking of six little flea legs against his skin.

"A-ah, there's really nothing to explain, Inuyasha-sama! I don't even know how she was able to catch up w-...er, find me this evening! I was simply relaxing in a nearby spring, completely on my own, when it started to rain! I fled, and was fortunate enough to cross paths with you and Kagome, and so I sought shelter within the safety of your comfortable clothing!" Myouga's tone indicated that his reasons for 'relaxing' in the spring may not have been entirely moral. Meanwhile Kagome was listening, and doing her best not to fall. Now that she was of her own mind, the love-struck adrenaline was gone, and it was very hard to keep holding herself on the tree like that...particularly with the bark scraping itself into her legs. Shouga began filling in the blanks to Myouga's story.

"Myouga-han, you were fraternizing with those shameless hussies...but when you lead me here, to the akai netsuai hana, I knew that you were sorry, and that our destiny would be fulfilled! I thought...Myouga-HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN. " At that point the old woman began to hit Myouga on the head with all four arms. Inuyasha did nothing to save the old flea from the barrage of the female. With large tears still clinging to the edges of his eyes, Myouga attempted to protest.

"I honestly didn't know that the akai netsuai hana was even growing here! It means nothing!" Inuyasha's grip only tightened. Now that everything was explained…he was angry.

"So, that weird shit that was happening to us...was because of you?"

Myouga gulped. "I-I didn't possess anyone, Inuyasha-sama...I was merely attempting to save myself...oh please have mercy, my lord!" He begged pathetically. "Understand my plight, as a man!"

On the trunk, poor Kagome was slipping, and scraping up her legs. In fact, the bark was snagging her wet shirt a bit, too. "Inuyasha..." she gulped as her butt sagged below her feet, and sent her scraping down another couple inches.

Shouga's physical reprimands became slower and weaker, as she began crying more heavily. Inuyasha's hand was soaked. "Myouga-haaaan...I'm never going to forgive youu-h00-hooo..." Inuyasha twitched, his eyes comically wide with a frustration that had been waiting for any kind of release all night. And what better form of release than abusing someone?

"Oh, I understand..." He growled lowly. Myouga looked up hopefully. "That this whole damn situation is YOUR FAULT!" Inuyasha's voice rose to a bellow as he stood up on the limb, wound his arm up a few times, and chucked Myouga far off into the forest.

"How cruel!" The flea cried as he disappeared into the distance. Shouga let out a squeak, and bit Inuyasha briefly to show that she wasn't happy that he threw Myouga so far away from her.

"Bakaaa! You're just giving him a head start!" And still crying, she hopped off in pursuit of a man that wasn't worth her time. Inuyasha gave his hand a shake in response to the mild itch, but crossed his arms immediately after and scoffed.

"Keh!"

Kagome could feel the insides of her thighs scraping open a little more as gravity lurched her downward another two inches. Hugging the tree as tightly as she could, she reiterated, "Inuyasha!" The hanyou's proud pose didn't hold up when Kagome's voice alerted him to the fact that he'd completely forgotten about her.

"ACK, shit!" In a flash, he bolted to the ground below her and held his arms out for a catch. "Here, Kagome!" Finally! She couldn't help but think as she let pushed away from the tree and let herself fall. Inuyasha's arms were solid and firm as the girl plopped into them, bringing down a small rain of wet tree bark with her. He gave her frazzled face an awkward look before loosening his grip and allowing her to regain her footing. Kagome's facial expression was a mixture between, "What took you so long?" "Thank you," and "Shouga-bachan possessed me, didn't she?" He could probably smell a tid-bit of blood. The bark had actually scratched into a few minor blood vessels near the top layers of her skin, particularly around her inner thighs. Inuyasha took just a little longer than one would expect to actually say something. Uneasily, he scratched at the back of his own head.

"So, you...you were actin' weird because of Shouga-baba, huh?" His voice had once again resorted itself to that soft, low grumble. Kagome sighed heavily, making a few gestures before folding her arms,

"Well...ah...I guess!" she presumed in frustration. "I mean...I don't remember how I got on the tree at all..." A pause. "...What did I do?"

Inuyasha went beet red. "Ah...ah-ah-ah..." His head jerked as he attempted to cough up a sentence.

…..

"N-nothing. You were just actin' weird." The boy cleared his throat and lowered his head, attempting to regain some air of seriousness. Kagome could already feel a flush of embarrassment and frustration rising in her cheeks as she contemplated how bad her unintentional actions might have seemed.

"W-well...whatever happened...you know that I didn't mean to. So you can just forget it...h-hai?" She asked with a stutter. Inuyasha nodded vigorously.

"N-nn..." He voiced in agreement. Though an incident of that caliber would probably never be erased from his memory, it was a relief to even pretend to forget about it. It still disturbed Kagome to have no idea what she did...but it also occurred to her that she might not want to know. Besides...Inuyasha clearly didn't want to say anything...She stood there, drawing a random squiggle in the grass with the toe of her shoe.

Inuyasha's eyes wandered impatiently while his mind attempted in a very half-assed manner to think of what to do now. While roaming, his vision caught sight of the flower again. Eyes shut in dismay. He didn't want to look at the damn thing. Glancing upward, the hanyou filled his golden eyes with the sky. The clouds had nearly entirely dissipated. The hanyou's body slumped against the trunk of the tree, and he slid downward into an exhausted sit. "Damn...that was fuckin' unbelievable." He said with an exasperated sigh. Kagome was tired as well...and seeing the energetic Inuyasha sit down in fatigue only multiplied her own. As a result, she followed suit quickly. How late is it...? she wondered as she stared up at the sky. Despite herself...despite the huge fiasco...she couldn't help but note how pretty it was.

"The sky really is nice here..." she said, hardly remembering that they'd had nearly the same conversation before.

Inuyasha could only sigh out an agreement, not really wanting to converse about surroundings. He opened his mouth and yawned, stretching his arms out. He'd gone many a night without a wink of sleep, without problems...but for some reason now, he was tired. Perhaps it was the way his brain had been wracked tonight...

"So all that shit...was really because of Shouga-baba. Not because of the flower, or..." He didn't finish his sentence, rather he let it trail off into an abyss of discomfort. Before the lightning had hit...he wasn't possessed by Myouga. He wasn't possessed by anything, as far as he knew. And Kagome hadn't lost her memory of what almost happened between them under his haori, either. ...but it had to be because of the fleas somehow. It couldn't be anything else.

Without thinking about much of anything, Kagome was letting herself lay back in the grass, a hazing portrait of the stars blanketing her until her eyelids closed under it. Kagome was lucky...her human fatigue had whisked her away to slumber before Inuyasha, rather than letting her contemplate the evening's events any further. It was doubly unlucky for Inuyasha, though. Not only did his endurance force him to continue thinking about the evening's events...his open eyes let him see how pretty the girl looked, lying there peacefully in the moonlight. She was so delicate...so vulnerable to the world, and yet she was always just out here with him. She didn't have any trouble falling asleep in the wild, so long as she was near him.

Inuyasha's ears caught the sounds of her steady, even breaths after a while. She was asleep. He took a moment to look over her. Something...something inside him suddenly felt warm...pleasant. With a heavy sigh, he leaned over and lifted the girl by her shoulders, propping her up and letting her lean against his front. The boy looked over her entrancing features a moment longer, then shut his eyes...not wanting his feelings to tug at him any longer. The night would be over soon enough, and he could stay awake through it...but now that his lids were closed, they weren't too keen on opening. The red petals of the akai netsuai hana, little beknownst to the pair, had taken on a luminescent aura. The soft red glow lit the edges of their bangs, as well as the collected droplets gathered around them.

Drenched leaves splashed their contents into the hair of Miroku, Sango, and the two youkai with them as they once again made their way through the brush. The moist soil squished beneath their sandals, and every now and then the sunlight would break through the trees to fall upon their faces. Dawn had broken only an hour ago, and the group had been treated to a small breakfast before leaving the widow's home...Miroku had been lead out by his ear, courtosey of Sango. After a fairly uneventful night, the small group was almost grateful to go and retrieve their missing companions, and head out again. As they walked, the same question bounced from person to silent person. What would they find when they reached Kagome and Inuyasha. Shippou certainly was jittery, crouched on Miroku's shoulder with a twitching tail. The kitsune's mode of transportation was quite a contrast. Miroku exuded an air of casual curiosity.

"I hope we're not waking them." Sango thought aloud as they neared the site. "I imagine...whatever happened, that they didn't sleep much last night."

"Probably not," Miroku agreed sagely as the miko and hanyou came into view.

"You think we should've given them a little more ti--ah..." Sango stopped short as she brushed the final few leaves hiding the pair from view. There, leaned against the tree, looking damp, ruffled, and at the same time very peaceful, were Inuyasha and Kagome. Inuyasha was missing his outer haori. It was crumpled in a pile beside Kagome, the fur on the outside of it looking completely soaked. He had a few dirt stains on what was visible of his forearms, and his hair looked messier than usual. The cherry on the cake of his suggestive appearance was the unworked sash of his hakama, which looked very much like it had been purposely fiddled with. The hanyou was fast asleep, his mouth hanging wide open while a few raspy sighs slipped out here and there. Right below the disheveled sash was Kagome. Naturally, Kagome had succumbed to gravity's pull, and hadn't remained propped on Inuyasha's chest. No... now the side of her face was resting on Inuyasha's right thigh, while the rest of her body was delicately sprawled off to Inuyasha's left. The backs and insides of her thighs still sported the little red nicks and scratches. The dark hair that cascaded all around them was filled with little bits of this and that. To top it all off, she seemed to be smiling in her sleep.

Sango had to keep her eyes from bulging out of their sockets. Still very much in disbelief, she felt almost obligated to turn away...but her vision was glued in place. Instantly the girl flushed to the same hue as the delicate crimson flower hanging over the hanyou and schoolgirl, which then broke from its stem and glided gently down to them...landing beside Kagome's nose.

"Well...that settles that, I suppose," Miroku concluded cheerfully. Shippou's mouth was a little dot at the bottom of his chin. He seemed temporarily paralyzed. Inuyasha, never a sound sleeper, fluttered an eye open. The opening of this first one was followed by the second, and in a moment he was blinking at the returned group of friends...who were all staring at him. Still groggy, one of the hanyou's first orders of business was to turn his brows downward. "Oi...what the hell are you bastards all staring at me for?" Miroku looked Inuyasha in the eye, and then casually looked down at what was in his lap.

…..

The groggy hanyou looked at his friends, then looked down. Nothing registered. He had to look up at them, and then down at Kagome one more time before the pieces of the puzzle decided to slap themselves together in his mind.

…………

"O-OI, don't look at me like that, damnit! This ain't what you're thinkin'!" Everybody looked at him. Very dubiously. Meanwhile...all this noise was starting to wake Kagome up as well...she shifted a little bit in his lap. "I mean it! Stop thinkin' such nasty things!" Inuyasha's reddening face either supported or betrayed him, depending on how they decided to interpret it.

"Mnn...what's going on...?" Kagome mumbled, her eyes shutting tighter as she stretched where she lay. Inuyasha made a snarfling noise as Kagome shifted in his lap. That wasn't helping.

"Damnit Kagome, get up!" He demanded. The girl's eyes popped open. And then they got really big. In an instant, she was scrambling up and away from Inuyasha. Some of his hakama's color ran with her, giving her face a fuchsia stain of embarrassment. Kagome sat about five feet away from Inuyasha now, one hand over her racing heart. She had no idea that she was now letting everybody get a good look at her wrinkled shirt and skirt. In fact, it looked about to tear in some places where it had been snagged on the tree.

Inuyasha had shot to his feet as soon as he was sure that he wouldn't fling Kagome to the ground. His quick breathing was very evident, chest swiftly heaving in and out, mouth hanging slightly agape. A defensive death-glare was locked on the simultaneously blinking eyes of his friends. Miroku was eyeing each of them carefully, taking in each detail with a keen observance comparable to that of Sherlock Holmes. If it had to do with sex, Miroku would notice it.

Silence ensued for a good, agonizing thirty seconds.

"Inuyasha," Miroku finally said.

"What?" Inuyasha barked.

"I would like to speak to you in private." The houshi spoke calmly.

"KEH, fat chance of that!"

Miroku's eyes narrowed. "Would you rather I discuss these matters with you in front of the others?"

Inuyasha urked momentarily. "You think I can't shut you up, Miroku?"

Miroku seemed to ignore Inuyasha's threat, "I am concerned about Kagome-sama's wellbeing, both emotionally and physically. Look at her, Inuyasha."

Indeed...Kagome looked like a wreck...but not for the reasons her friends had in mind. Utter I-can't-believe-this-is-happening-embarrassment was rumbling through her veins. Inuyasha stepped forward and grabbed the houshi by the shoulder, rather than follow him. He yanked him abruptly into the brush. Miroku hop-hoped nonchalantly on one foot as Inuyasha dragged him away.

"Talk now."

Once apart from the group, Miroku straightened himself and began to speak quickly in low tones, "I warned you, Inuyasha. It was easy to loose control, wasn't it? With your inhuman strength, you were probably rough on her without realizing it. Take a good look at Kagome-sama."

Miroku could be seen falling through the bushes and into the sight of Kagome and the others, face first. A bulbous red lump was once again protruding from the back of his head. Inuyasha stomped out afterward, barely missing an opportunity to step on him. He then proceeded to gather up his haori and start to put it back on, back turned to everyone.

Shippou had been making his way over to Kagome cautiously, but jumped the last few feet when Miroku came came crashing back onto the scene. Kagome jumped a little, and then impulsively picked Shippou up and started hugging him...perhaps to comfort herself more than him. Miroku's brow was twitching rapidly as he lifted his face from the mud. He murmured something incoherent under his breath.

"Kagome..." Shippou ventured quietly.

Kagome forced a smile, "Hai, Shippou-chan?"

"Are you okay?"

"H-hai!" She answered reassuringly.

"...Are you sure...you're not hurt at all, right?"

"M-mou! Of course not!"

"Good..." Shippou sighed.

"Nn."

"...Whatcha gonna name the baby?"

Kagome's eyes turned into little tiny dots. Her polite, quiet voice suddenly cracked with high volume, "N-nani!" Inuyasha's body could be seen freezing from behind. Sango finally felt it was time to interject.

"Shippou, that's enough...Kagome-chan doesn't want to talk about it, as you can see." She spoke sternly. Kagome quickly stood up, squeezing Shippou more tightly than she probably realized,

"M-mou! Nothing happened between Inuyasha and me!" Sango didn't seem to hear Kagome.

"It takes about nine months for a baby to grow, anyway..." The taijiya added into her miniature lecture to Shippou. Kagome's red face was sputtering in attempts to relay the truth.

"There is no baby! Nothing happened!" The poor girl continued to go ignored. Miroku held up a muddy finger.

"Actually, Sango, it takes nine and a half months."

"Really?" Shippou was fascinated. "It took my mom two years to have me."

"Two years? That's so long...but a human like Kagome-chan would take a much shorter time. That is, unless carrying a hanyou's child would affect her..." Sango started to look a little thoughtful.

"I hope the morning sickness won't be aggravated by that," Miroku added.

"If it is, I bet Inuyasha will just get mad and complain about how she's making him wait." Shippou predicted with sagely pessimism. Meanwhile Inuyasha's slow twitching had been brought to a rather rapid succession as the topic of his non-existent offspring progressed. A ticking time bomb waiting to explode in an outburst of denial, the hanyou needed no more excuse to whip around and face everyone in a fury. Kagome's eyelids clamped themselves shut, as if to try to guard herself from her friends' analysis. Of course, her hands were too occupied to cover her ears as well, so shutting her eyes didn't help much. Flagrant misunderstandings were lashed against her ears so many times. She finally couldn't help but lift up her toes, balance on her heels, and lean forward to scream,

"WE DIDN'T DO ANYTHING, THERE IS NO BABY!" Inuyasha had spun around and yelled this in unison with the girl. Everyone else fell into a dubious silence.

"...Are you sure?" Shippou asked.

………..

Later, as the group continued on their way...Shippou sporting a lump that rivaled the size of his head...it could be noted that Inuyasha had purposely fallen behind the others. It was his usual tendency to either lead or walk in the back, mood depending. He walked at a casual pace now, arms crossed through his sleeves. His eyelids were lowered in what could be taken as an arrogant manner, though his expression wasn't all that easy to read. The hanyou had been particularly quiet ever since they had departed from that clearing where far too much (and perhaps too little) had happened. Kagome was unusually quiet as well, but her traveling position was relatively unaffected. As usual, she was drifting around from middle to back. After a while, Kagome found her mind settling. She knew what had and hadn't happened...and her friends probably believed her...somewhat. Such musings and concerns over recent events pattered through her thoughts over the next couple of hours. Eventually she found herself straggling to such a degree that she was almost as far back as Inuyasha. He really is trailing behind...all of this must have been really hard on him...

Kagome stopped walking. Inuyasha passed by the girl for two steps before he took notice of the fact that she'd stopped. Curious, he stopped as well. Lids were raised and he cocked a brow at her.

"What's up, Kagome?" He asked rather softly.

"Gomen, Inuyasha, " She said just as softly, looking at the dirt in front of her toes. The boy looked perplexed.

"Eh? What're you apologizing for?"

Kagome looked up at him with a surprisingly calm, sincere face. "I'm sorry...about everything that happened last night. I know it must have been rough on you." Inuyasha's features loosened some, and he stared for only a moment at that face full of sincerity... then he blew out a short sigh, and his eyes regained that arrogant look to them. "Keh, you think I haven't gotten through worse?"

"Well...this is different from what you're used to." She answered.

"I've put up with Myouga's shit for ages. You got nothin' to apologize for."

"Anou..." She was tentative. "After all that...how did you get through the rest of the night?" Kagome knew that he probably didn't sleep much. Also...the fact that she found herself waking up on him meant that he got over the trauma fairly quickly. Just the thought had her heart pattering a little faster, and her cheeks flushing a little.

"I...ah..." Inuyasha stammered just a little, momentarily drawing a blank for a good answer. The boy abruptly cleared his throat and started walking on, a clear signal to Kagome that she should do the same. "I-I told you, I've gotten through worse before!" Kagome smiled and closed her eyes breifly before opening them to walk after him.

She was silent for a few more seconds before venturing, "You said before that...there was usually something...inside that kept you going..." The girl's mind was running over the fact that he'd apparently let her lean on him to sleep...the fact that after all that trauma, he still wanted to do that for her... Inuyasha glanced over at her from the corner of his eye.

"...yeah?"

"...What was it?" Her voice was shy.

The hanyou began to gain the slightest bit of uneasiness about him. "What was it?" He parroted. "It...it can't be explained so easily."

"No?"

"Nope." Inuyasha tried to look serious and set in his words.

"Ah..." They walked a few more steps. "Was it..." Kagome paused. Even though a part of her was wondering...she couldn't ask if it was her. "...us? As in, Sango-chan, Miroku-sama, Shippou-chan...and I?"

Inuyasha took a moment to answer. For five seconds, the boy stared straight ahead of himself...at the backs of the heads of his friends. His eyes were wider than usual when they turned themselves to the girl, to look at her...his cheeks may have had the slightest tinge of pink resting on them. Did he understand what she was really asking? It could very well have been her imagination. The boy's staring ceased as he gave his head a swift shake and looked straight ahead once more, returning his expression to normal. The group was passing over the crest of a hill as he opened his mouth to answer once more.

"Keh." He spoke casually. "What kind of weird question is that?" Kagome smiled. She shouldn't have expected him to acknowledge anything like that anyway. So she gave a playful reply,

"Mou, you can't give a straight answer to anything, can you?"

"You're asking me stupid questions!" He defended.

"It's a perfectly reasonable question."

"I'm tellin' you, it was stupid!".

"You're just afraid to answer it."

"You callin' me a chickenshit?"

"...Not in that term, exactly..."

"Well I ain't afraid!"

"Then why don't you answer?"

"Because I don't gotta answer something so stupid!"

"You really are hopeless."

"What's that supposed to mean!"

"Bet-su-niii"

"Answer me, damnit!" Inuyasha demanded immaturely as they passed over the hilltop, heading for the vast landscape ahead. A pair of skylarks fluttered happily overhead, cooing at each other affectionately as they made their way across the bright sky.

The End.

Footnotes:

Inuyasha grumbles. "Well I sure hope all those 'fangirls' are happy now that I've been freakin' humiliated for three chapters.

Kagome replies, "Actually they're probably not all that happy. Nothing happened between us….usually they're looking for some sort of physical romance."

Inuyasha blushes. "Wh-what the hell did they want us to do?"

Kagome sighs and folds her arms. "I'm sure a lot of them are disappointed that we didn't wind up doing what the flower predicted…"

Inuyasha looks appalled. "Naniii? Do they really think that little of us?"

Kagome nods. "Unfortunately, yes."

Inuyasha scowls. "Why are we even tellin' them this story?"

Kagome blinks. "Anou…I don't know. Maybe to illustrate to them that we're really not like that."

"Damn right we're not like that! I couldn't even get myself to kiss you!"

Kagome's expression sours. "So you're saying you wouldn't have, even if the lightning hadn't struck?"

Inuyasha stutters. "O-of course not! What makes you think I would've?"

Kagome's tone is very stiff. "Ah. I see."

"At least the damn thing's over now."

………

Inuyasha finds his face in the dirt again.

Kagome turns politely to the audience. "Thank you for reading! Hope you check back for our next story!"