They left before sunset. Inu Yasha wished to put as much distance as possible between them and the rest of the company before his change. "Besides," he said thoughtfully, "who would seek out two humans alone in the woods?"
The fox child did not allow an easy parting. He clung to Kagome and demanded to know why he couldn't follow. The orphan kitsune still held a lot of innocence in the ways of adults. He could understand the need for mates and Kagome wanting to spend time alone with Inu Yasha, but too much time together was making him feel left out. They had already ditched the rest of the company a couple of times. To the young fox, it was a couple of times too many. He pouted as Kagome held him. "Can't Dog Man spend new moon with us as he always does?"
"Inu Yasha wants privacy this time," Kagome said softly, patting his head.
"But why do you have to go?" Shippou demanded.
"Because I want her with me," Inu Yasha responded. "It's just for this time, kid. We'll be back tomorrow."
Shippou stared at Inu Yasha. Something strange had been going on since the bloodsucker incident and the teasing about the mating ritual. Now Inu Yasha couldn't stay ten feet away from Kagome. He followed her everywhere and to make matters worse, she didn't seem to mind. Near full moon Myouga had suggested a trip away from the two. When they returned they found Inu Yasha doing something to Kagome, but no one would tell him what it was. Inu Yasha acted strangely from then on. He was actually civil to the fox boy. It unnerved Shippou to no end. The dog demon seemed to be studying for a role under Kagome's watchful eye. If Shippou didn't know any better he would guess "fatherhood." Now Kagome and Inu Yasha were directly asking for time to themselves. The rest of the group could stand back and let it happen, but Shippou could not.
"Please, Shippou?" Kagome asked in her sweetest voice.
Shippou sighed. "Alright…" he agreed. "But just for tonight."
"Of course," Inu Yasha smiled, glancing at the late afternoon sun.
Kagome shouldered her pack and ran off into the woods with the dog demon.
Inu Yasha picked up the pace, glancing back at his mate. She smiled at him. There were still many miles to go and the sun wouldn't last them. At this rate his change would happen before they got to their destination. He stopped and waited for her to catch up. "Let's fly," he said.
She crawled onto his back. "Isn't it almost time for your change?"
"We still have a little time," he said, glancing at the near sunset. He held her hands around his neck and pushed off.
"Where are we going?" she asked breathlessly behind his ear.
"Where I used to spend my new moons many many years ago," he said, sailing over the treetops.
The last rays of sunlight dimmed as the sun sank completely behind the horizon. Inu Yasha landed with a thump and turned to stare at Kagome.
Kagome watched as his ears slid down the sides of his head and his hair grayed. Claws retracted into his fingers and the pinks showed through the thinner nail. He blinked a few times and his eyes darkened to a hazel, but his irises remained demon like. His pointy ears rounded out and his hair turned black. He stared at her, breathing heavily. "It's done… We are close to the place. Do you mind walking?"
"No," she said.
He smiled gently and took her hand, leading her through the woods to a small clearing. "This place has an ancient magic to it. Only humans can enter the clearing."
Kagome entered the clearing and glanced around. "You're right, this place has magic. I can almost see it."
"Let's make camp."
They rolled out her sleeping bag and built a fire to keep back the night. They were careful to gather enough firewood so they wouldn't have to leave the ring of trees during their stay. Kagome made ramen and Inu Yasha slurped it down, gratefully.
One by one, the stars twinkled in the night sky above them. The Milky Way flowed from one side of the clearing to the other. Kagome lay on her sleeping bag, staring up at them. "Like little diamonds," she said softly.
"When I was young, mother used to make up stories for me about the stars," Inu Yasha said, staring up at the night sky. "The only night of the month they aren't in competition with moonlight is new moon. On those nights, since I couldn't leave home, she would sit with me on the roof and tell me about the stars."
"Wow…" Kagome breathed, "Do you remember any of them?"
"Not really… It was a long time ago."
"You see that triangle of stars up there?" she asked, pointing and drawing lines with her fingers.
Inu Yasha scooted closer to her line of sight, "Yeah?"
"That's the Summer Triangle… Those two… are lovers. They were separated by the Milky Way."
"I think mother showed me that."
A cool breeze made the trees whisper around them. Kagome shivered.
Inu Yasha rolled over to face her. "You should get in bed," he advised.
"What about you?"
"Don't worry about me," he smiled. "My human bladder doesn't hold much water. I'll be right back." He got up and moved towards the treeline.
Kagome smiled, listening to him curse at the darkness and various obstacles in his path. She pulled off her clothes and snuggled down in the bedding, making sure to save room for him.
He stumbled back, trailing a stream of small profanities behind him at his loss of demon sight. "I can't see a damn thing," he mumbled, standing next to the bedding and peeling off his robes.
Another breeze hissed through the trees around the, and he gingerly crouched to find the opening in the bedding with the aid of dim coals from the fire. Kagome found his hand and pulled him in. He settled beside of her, lying on his back to stare up at the stars. She cuddled against him. "So… how did you spend new moon before me?"
"Before you… I would come here and watch the stars, wishing for dawn to come and change me back," he said.
"What if you fell asleep and changed back, how could you leave?"
"Demons can leave, but only humans can enter. I couldn't come back if I left. Once I accidentally left a robe here and I had to wait a whole month to get it back."
"Really?" she chuckled.
"Do you like yourself now?" she asked quietly.
"What do you mean?"
"All these changes. You used to be angry all the time and moody. You haven't really been moody since that bloodsucker night."
"I haven't really changed. I've always been easily adaptable. That's how I've survived for as long as I have. I'm only 'moody' when I am frustrated."
"You're no longer frustrated?"
"I know you'll eventually give me everything I want."
"And my freedom," he said, playing with the prayer beads.
"Inu Yasha," she breathed, touching his fidgeting fingers with her own.
His hand returned to his side, letting her explore the beads through touch. He stared at her in the darkness. "Do you love me?" he asked quietly.
"Do you love me?" he repeated.
"I'm your mate…" she said, frowning.
"That means nothing. At some point my father mated with Sesshoumaru's mother and they didn't love."
"We just are."
"Why can't you say it?" he asked, pain evident in his voice.
"Because I'm not sure who's saying it. Is it Kikyou or Kagome? Do you know how hard it is to have thoughts you aren't sure are your own?"
"You're nothing like her."
"You keep saying that, but I always get compared to her," Kagome sputtered and began to cry.
Inu Yasha dropped a hand on her head to soothe her. "Do you know how hard it is to open myself to you? You've been getting at the inner me since I met you no matter how much I resisted. You won. I'm not laying here, talking to you because you're the reincarnation of a woman I was once infatuated with. I'm here because you wouldn't let me push you away. And, by gods, there came a day I realized I didn't want you to go away. You're stuck with me now, Kagome. I am stubborn and I love you."
Kagome kissed him gently on the lips. Her teardrops wet his cheeks. Her hand moved over his head in one swift movement. "Show me," she whispered, pulling something out of his hair and clenching it in her hand.
"What?" he frowned, confused.
"Sit up," she said.
He froze and waited for the sense of weight that accompanied the command word. It didn't come. He sat up and touched his naked neck. "What have you done?" he demanded.
She showed him the beads in her hand. "I've set you free," she said softly.
"Free?" he whispered.
She took his hand and pressed the beads in it. "Free."
He stared at them in puzzlement. "Why?"
"It's something you wanted, right? I can't give you the jewel, it's not ready yet…"
He dropped the beads on the bedding. He turned to her with a small growl. She froze beneath his hands as he took her head. He leaned forward and caught her lips with his. He closed his eyes and let the feelings wash over him. He pulled the rest of her body on top of his own, his hips pushing up against hers. "Make love to me," he whispered savagely, through his kisses. "Please."
She straddled his legs and sat up, pulling her lips from his. She eased herself onto him and gently rocked back and forth above him. "I'm still your mate?" she asked breathlessly.
His arms rested on her thighs. "For as long as you'll have me." He squirmed beneath her.
"I thought you were going to attack me," she whispered, stopping to stare at him.
"I did. Weren't you paying attention?" he said, pulling on her hips. "Don't stop."
"When we first met you were going to kill me."
"That was before I fell in love with you… come on, keep going," he writhed beneath her.
"Inu Yasha…" she began.
"No more talking! We make pleasure now!" he groaned, pushing up against her. She rocked above him and he tried to hold himself back until he heard her moan. At the first sound of her orgasm he released his seed with a satisfied shiver. She collapsed above him and he held her close. "Now we talk."
All she could do was breathe heavily.
He ran his fingers through her hair. "By the way, thank you."
"For what?" she managed.
"Releasing me. I 'attacked' you to show my appreciation. Wasn't it exciting?" he smiled in the darkness. "And you couldn't say 'sit!'"
"It was a little scary. I had flashbacks to the last time I released you."
He chuckled softly and continued to play with her hair. "I am wild…" he said softly. "But I'll never harm you."
"That's good to know," she whispered, cuddling against him. "Inu Yasha, are you happy?"
He closed his eyes and took in a deep breath. "Happy…" he echoed as sleep began to claim him. His arms and legs were entwined with the one he loved. He was at peace.
He was somewhere very cold. It was a blizzard and he could barely see. Something was warm and soft beside him. He knew it was his mate, Kagome. He held her and she was shivering. He suddenly realized that they were both naked in the snow. He barely had time to ponder it when his vision cleared and he saw a cabin. The shifting patterns of the blizzard returned and he made for the cabin. He found a door and opened it. It was the cabin. The interior was small with no furniture and only a blanket in the corner. He grabbed the blanket and pulled it around them, trying to warm her icy cold skin. Fear gripped his heart as he held her close.
He was instantly aware that they were no longer alone. Some guy he recognized from Kagome's school was squatting beside them. "I'm cold," he announced. Immediately Kagome sat up and offered to share the blanket. The two got cozy despite Inu Yasha's protests.
"Wait! I love you!" he told Kagome over and over, louder and louder as tears fell freely. It was so cold. "Kagome!" he screamed.
He woke himself up.
It was sometime in the night. The stars had shifted considerably. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes, feeling cold and disoriented. He was laying on something soft and he was naked. He felt the bedding beside him. It was cold. "Kagome?" he called out into the darkness. There was no answer. He hastily pulled on his robes and stoked the fire to get some light. The clearing was empty. "Kagome?" he called with no answer. He looked around frantically, unsure which way to begin. He stumbled in the direction he had taken earlier to relieve his bladder. "Kagome?" he called as he reached the edge of the trees. Smelling urine, he looked down to see a wet patch. He was certain he had used a tree so it had to be hers. "Kagome?" he called as broke through the line of trees, leaving the protection of the clearing behind him.
"Well, well… if it isn't my little brother. He finally decided to join our little party," a voice chuckled in the darkness.
"Sesshoumaru?" Inu Yasha breathed.
"I am here, brother. And look who else is here…" Sesshoumaru appeared out of the darkness holding a struggling Kagome. "You really shouldn't let your woman wander alone, brother… and in her condition too… tsk tsk."
"What are you talking about?" Inu Yasha demanded, staring at Kagome.
"Don't you know?" Sesshoumaru giggled. "Ah, that's right. You are human now so you wouldn't."
"Your seed was potent."
"And it's her fertile time too," Sesshoumaru remarked gaily. "Looks like you weren't too careful. You're going to be a father right about…" he picked up Kagome and pressed an ear to her belly. "Now!" He put her down. "Congratulate me, I'm an uncle."
"It couldn't happen so fast," Inu Yasha said, backing away.
"Oh, but it could, especially with some help from my powers. I could speed up the whole process so she'll drop the child right here. Nine months in a snap," the demon snapped his fingers.
"What do you want?" Inu Yasha demanded.
"Well, I heard you two were in the neighborhood and I thought to drop in and maybe knock up your mate to make you mad… but I see you beat me to it."
"Get your filthy paws off her!" Inu Yasha seethed.
"Now, now… is that any way to speak to the uncle of your child?"
"Let her go or I'll kill you."
"Big words for a weak little human man. Tell you what… I'll add my seed to her belly and make it so she conceives my child as well. It's a little demon trick I know of. The little ones can be brothers like us, only cousins. Won't that be fun? But I can't guarantee your child will survive sharing space with mine," Sesshoumaru grinned.
Inu Yasha kept his eyes on Kagome, willing her to stay still while he thought of something.
Kagome turned to Sesshoumaru. "Oh, Sesshoumaru," she said seductively. "You are so big and strong."
"I've always wanted to be with a big, strong man… erm… demon like you," she sighed.
"What about my brother?" Sesshoumaru goaded.
"Well, he's only half a demon," she said softly.
Inu Yasha flinched.
"You are one hundred percent, grade A demon. I would be honored if you gave me your seed," she purred, cuddling against him.
"Are you getting all this, brother dear?" Sesshoumaru smiled as he leaned himself against Kagome, trying to push her to the ground.
"Oh, but Sesshou-chan… I don't want to do it out here in the woods. That's so common," she purred.
"Where then, woman?"
"My bedding is just a bit that way," she pointed back to the clearing. "It's all nice and soft… we can even see the stars."
"The stars, hmm?" he grunted.
"Yes, follow me," she giggled demurely, tugging at his robe.
Inu Yasha stared crossly at the two.
"Inu Yasha, why don't you run ahead and stoke up the fire to make it nice and hot for your brother?" she said as she glanced back at him. "We want him to feel welcome in our little camp, don't we?"
She glared at him. He saw something in her eyes, something pleading. He rushed past them and broke through the line of trees. "Yes, mistress," he grumbled over his shoulder.
Kagome broke the line of trees, still pulling Sesshoumaru behind her. He stopped suddenly as if he hit a brick wall. Shock and confusion passed over his face before he settled on understanding. He glared at her with hatred in his eyes. "Vile temptress," he seethed, holding her wrist with his one good hand. He pulled her back towards him.
"Inu Yasha, help!" she cried.
Inu Yasha wrapped his arms around her and pulled her into the clearing.
"My arm, my arm!" she screamed as the brothers played tug of war with her body.
Inu Yasha adjusted his grip to her elbow, trying desperately to have her wrist break the plane of trees. "Let go of her, you asshole!" he grunted.
"Never!" Sesshoumaru responded.
Inu Yasha kicked out, aiming for the only soft spot he knew of on his brother. Sesshoumaru doubled over in pain, letting go of Kagome. She and Inu Yasha fell over backwards into the clearing.
"What did you do?" she asked still atop him.
"Kicked him… same place… your knee is now," he winced, closing his eyes in agony.
Kagome crawled off of him and looked down to where her knee had been… the juncture of his legs.
"Gods woman, you're lucky to be pregnant now. I don't think I can father another one after this," he moaned, rolling away.
In the woods, little sobs of pain echoed. "You bastard, I hate you."
"Inu Yasha," Kagome chided gently, helping the other to sit up and stand. She led him back to their bedding. "You know I was just trying to get us back into the clearing, don't you? The thought of your brother makes me ill."
"I kindof figured that out," he replied, easing himself down onto the bedding. "That was still sick to watch. Never do that again!"
She smiled and started to open his robes. He wrapped his arms around her and held her close. "Just hold me. Sleep…" he whispered as he closed his eyes and began to drift off.
Sunlight broke through the treetops. Inu Yasha opened his eyes. His demon sight had returned and the whole world sparkled. He mulled over the events of the previous night… his freedom, the conception of a child, his brother and Kagome… She lay beside him, wrapped in his robes. He tightened his arms around her waist, aware of the flickering new life inside of her… a child. If he had been truly human he would have never been aware of its presence until much later. Indeed, if his seed had been human it would have only just reached its destination. But no matter how human he was on new moon, the demon still remained to do things its way… Like speeding up conception. He wouldn't be surprised if it sped up her pregnancy either. He ran his fingers through her hair as she slept. He focused on the child within her… human. It was human, mostly… if not completely. Who knew what rules applied during his ebb time.
"Inu Yasha," she said quietly. Her eyes fluttered open to stare at him.
He gave her a small smile.
"Was that all a dream?"
He frowned and shook his head.
She sat up and touched her belly. "Your baby," she whispered.
"Our baby," he corrected.
She stared at him. "You didn't leave me during the night?"
"Why should I?" he asked quietly.
She pointed to the prayer beads on the ground. "You are free."
"Not really. I can never be free. You should return those to Kaede."
"What do you mean?"
"They are hers."
"I meant about being free."
"I told you last night. I love you." He stood and closed his robes. "We should go back to the others," he said, beginning to pile all her things for her.
"Hmm," he responded, staring regretfully at an empty ramen bowl.
"I love you too."
He closed his eyes and dropped the bowl. "I wasn't expecting that," he smiled.
Kagome blushed and kept her hands busy with packing.
"You were testing me, weren't you? Seeing if I'd really stick around once you loosened my collar," he sat back and raised an eyebrow.
"Or maybe I just know that it's wrong to force the ones we love to obey us," she responded, packing the last few of her belongings. "How could I say 'I love you' when I can't even show you simple trust?"
"You trust me?" he asked.
"I trust you."
He smiled. "Good. Hop on, we're going back."
It didn't take them long to find the others. They were greeted with am over enthusiastic fox child. "Kagome," he purred, snuggling against her.
"Careful," Inu Yasha warned.
"My lord, have you…?" Myouga began, looking at the dog demon.
Inu Yasha twitched.
The flea demon looked to Kagome. "My lady, blessings upon you. Blessing upon you and my lord."
Inu Yasha slipped down from his tree. He could tell from the snores that almost everyone else was asleep… all but the one who really mattered to him. He crawled over to her and offered her his shoulder to lean on. "Can't sleep?"
"No. I keep thinking about the baby and our quest."
He wrapped his arm around her. "Kagome, you must promise me something."
"When it comes time for the baby to be born I want you to quit our quest and go home."
"I'll try and finish what we started as quickly as possible so I can join you."
"Can't I stay?"
He touched her stomach. "I don't want to lose you. I need to know that you're both safe."
"Won't you come with me?"
"I have to become human first, like I promised. The jewel is almost done. The others will help me."
Shippou shifted in his sleep and cried out.
Inu Yasha stared at the fox boy. "Take this one with you. He needs a mother."
They both quietly listened to the snores of their comrades.
"Please Kagome… trust me."
"I do," she whispered, leaning into him. "But I'm afraid to lose you, too."
"My love," he whispered, kissing her forehead. "Never forget that."