The Fang and the Web

Chapter 8: Bear With It

"Hey! Just what do you think you're doing you flea-bitten wolf?" Inuyasha shouted at Koga as he got right in his face.

"Walking next to my fiancée. Does that bother you, mutt-face?" Koga answered right back.

Kagome, who was in-between the two quarrelers, simply sighed for the umpteenth time since Spider-Man had convinced Koga to join them the previous day. She wasn't sure how much more of this she could take. Part of her was kind of enjoying the attention, though.

Miroku, Sango, and Spider-Man lingered behind Kagome and the morons.

"Well," said Sango, "she must like all this fighting over her. I kinda envy that." She saw Inuyasha and Koga give each other death glares again as Kagome tried to push them apart to keep them from killing each other. "Well, almost."

"If you really feel that way, then I—" Miroku started, but a sharp look from Sango quickly shut him up.

"Those big dopes," said Shippo, who was riding on Spider-Man's shoulder. "Can't they just be friends? I suppose they never will, so long as they're both after Kagome's heart."

"Eh. Reed and Namor seem to do alright," Spidey said. "And I guess Matt and Tony do too. And I suppose Scott and Logan get along well enough, all things considered. But Logan could be a bit cheerier about it. Then again, he's never really cheery about anything."

"Huh?" Shippo said.

"Never mind; just thinking out loud," Spidey replied.

Inuyasha shouted at Koga again. "Get your filthy paws away from Kagome!"

"She's my fiancée, so what business is it of yours?!" Koga yelled right back.

"Will the two of you give it a rest already?!" Kagome bellowed, but to no avail, just like all the other times she tried to get the two of them to stop fighting.

Spider-Man stretched his fingers over his forehead in exasperation; he had had enough of this. "Hold on a sec, little man," he said to Shippo as he put him on the ground. He walked right up to and past Inuyasha and Koga, and grabbed them by their funky ears as he passed them.
"Hey! What gives?!" Inuyasha shouted.

"What the?!" Koga said.

Spider-Man dragged them over to a rock on the side of the path they were walking on and forced them to sit on it. "Now listen here, you dunderheads," Spidey lectured them. "Starting now, the two of you are gonna put aside your differences and work together peacefully, comprende?"

"Not on your life!" Inuyasha bellowed. "I can't stand him!"

"I'd rather be eaten alive by rats then work with this idiot!" Koga yelled.

Spider-Man quickly grabbed each of them by their heads and knocked them together hard.

"Hey!" said Inuyasha, rubbing his head.

"What was that for?" asked Koga.

"To knock some sense into you bozos," Spidey explained. "Just because you don't get along doesn't mean you can't work together on a team.

"Look, there's this one guy back where I come from, calls himself the Punisher. He's a self-proclaimed vigilante who has a rather unhealthy habit of shooting first and never asking questions. I think he's a tormented serial killer who uses unacceptable actions to ultimately achieve his own good intentions, and he thinks I'm an idealistic fool who lacks the stomach to use lethal force. Although we're always changing from being allies and enemies, we both try to protect the innocent, and this small common ground enables the two of us to work together. So don't tell me you can't function as a team because you 'can't stand each other.' Now pull your pathetic act together before I have to bash your empty heads together again!"

Inuyasha and Koga quickly looked at each other, then at Spider-Man.

"Yeah, I hear ya," Inuyasha quickly said.

"Sure, whatever," Koga said just as fast.

Spider-Man, finished with his lecture, released them from his hold. "Good. Now keep moving before I get mad again." They quickly complied.

Miroku, Sango, and the others were in awe.

"Wow," said Shippo. "I've only seen Kagome be able to control those two."

"Indeed," agreed Miroku. I had best not get on his bad side either, he thought to himself.

Kagome walked up to Spider-Man. She looked over to Inuyasha and Koga, who weren't in each other's faces any more, but were still grunting and grumbling all the same. "That was really something how you got them to cool off like that," she said.

"Don't mention it," Spidey brushed it off. "Someone has to teach these degenerates some manners." He pointed at Miroku over his shoulder with his thumb. "And Pope Innocent the First back there is no better." Miroku did a double take.

"Um, if you don't mind my asking," Kagome said, "who was that person you were talking about a second ago? The Punisher or something? Did you make that up just to get them to stop fighting?"

"Oh, him," said Spidey. "No, he's a real guy. From what I've heard, his real name's Frank Castle. His is a really sad case."

"Really? What happened?" Kagome asked.

"Well," Spidey reminisced, as he lifted Shippo back onto his shoulder, "he was a very accomplished Marine veteran of the Vietnam War. He was awarded like four Purple Hearts and a couple of other decorations, and was supposed to get the Presidential Medal of Freedom too."

"Wow," said Kagome. "That's amazing."

"Is that really good, Kagome?" Shippo asked. "What does that mean?"

"It means that he was a very strong soldier in the army," she explained.

"But that's where the happy part of his story ends, regrettably," Spidey continued. "Just a few days before he was supposed to get the Medal, he took his family for a picnic in Central Park, where the most sad and unfortunate thing happened."

"What?" Kagome asked.

"They stumbled upon a mafia hit. Not looking for witnesses, the mobsters opened fire on them. Frank somehow survived, but his wife and two children didn't."

Kagome covered her mouth. "How horrible."

"Ever since then, Frank has dedicated his life to punishing criminals. The part that's truly horrible is that he deemed himself judge, jury, and executioner, but mostly executioner. He didn't hand the gangsters over to the authorities; he hunted them down and killed them all like animals. What's worse is that his vengeance didn't stop there. He felt compelled to eradicate all crime, and has waged a one-man war on it ever since, slaughtering the criminals he finds rather than turning them in. He calls it his punishment for not being able to save his family. A never-ending cycle of revenge and senseless slaughter."

"How awful," said Kagome.

"And the lot of you could learn something from that," Spidey concluded.

"What on earth could that be?" Shippo asked.

"Frank took revenge to a level that he never should have. By taking a life, even a criminal's, he became that which he hated most: a killer."

"But what would that have to do with us?" asked Shippo.

"I understand why you despise Naraku, believe me, I do," Spidey explained. "And I'm not saying in any way, shape, or form that the crimes he's committed aren't unacceptable and atrocious. Considering everything he has done you, it's completely natural that you'd hate his guts and want revenge. But think of it this way: if you kill him, just as he killed the ones you cared about, you'll be lowering yourselves to his level. And then, will you truly be any better than he?"

Kagome was taken aback by this question. "Hmm, I never really thought about it like that."

Inuyasha, however, wasn't as stunned. Rather, he was quite offended. "Do you actually expect us to forgive Naraku?!" he yelled back at Spider-Man.

"Not in the slightest," Spidey answered. "All I'm saying is this. I can say from experience that the dumb look on a bad guy's ugly mug when he knows he's been thwarted and his sorry kiester is going to prison is way better than deep-sixing his butt could ever be."

"Feh," Inuyasha huffed in response. "That's stupid. How bad could this 'prison' thing be?"

"Well, obviously you've never seen 'Oz,'" said Spidey. "And I'm talking about the dank, dreary, grey one, not the bright, happy, Technicolor one."

"What's he talking about now?" Sango asked Kagome quietly.

"You don't wanna know," Kagome sighed. She turned to Spider-Man. "You know, it's not that easy. I doubt there's a jail cell around here in this time."

"True," Spidey admitted. "But let's cross that bridge when we come to it."

"And you forget that unless Naraku is slain soon, my Wind Tunnel will eventually become my own destruction," Miroku pointed out.

"Also true," Spidey said. "But you know the saying. There's more than one way to skin a cat."

Kirara, who had been sitting on Sango's shoulder, hissed at Spidey's maxim.

"Except you, you fiery little furball," Spidey said as he gave her a quick pat on her head. She mewed.

"Hmph," Inuyasha snorted. He obviously didn't care in the slightest about what Spider-Man was saying.

Spider-Man's eyes narrowed at Inuyasha beneath his mask, not so much out of anger, as it was concern. When he next spoke, his voice suddenly lost its usual lightheartedness and became very serious. "Believe me, Inuyasha. Revenge is a poison. It's like an evil black sludge that consumes and takes control of you, turning you into something you're not. I understand where you're coming from. Honestly, I do. I've been there myself; it's full of nothing but darkness and loneliness. It's not somewhere you want to be."

For the slightest of moments, Inuyasha looked as though he was considering Spidey's words. Then he grunted again and said, "I don't care what you think, you simpleton. Whatever happened to that Punishing guy won't happen to me."

Spidey' voice returned to its normal light tone. "Famous last words, tough guy," he countered. "Think you can back that up?"

"Of course he can't," Koga interjected. "He's a complete loser."

"What'd you say?!" Inuyasha shouted back at him.

"Going deaf too? Those big dog ears of yours not working?" Koga shot right back.

"Better than yours, you walking flea farm! And who even asked you to come along anyway? We don't even need you!"

"As a matter of fact, my Kagome asked me to accompany her, and I'm here to protect her from danger, since you obviously can't!"

"HEY!" Spider-Man shouted. "Both of you shut it!"

Inuyasha and Koga looked over at Spider-Man, then back at each other. They both huffed and turned away from each other.

"Jeez," Spidey sighed. "It's like I'm babysitting the Power Pack or something." He turned to the others. "You guys must have the patience of saints to deal with these royal pains in the butt. How do you listen to that all day?"

"At least you listen," Miroku responded. "I, for one, just tune them out."

Spidey paused for a minute, thinking that over. "Hm, good man."

Kagome sighed. "Those two will never be friends, will they? They'll just keep fighting like that and never grow up."

"Now I wouldn't say that," Spidey said. "If I remember right, when we first met, by best friend and I didn't exactly get along right off the bat either, if you know what I mean. In fact, I daresay we acted just like those nincompoops."

"Really?" Kagome asked. "Who's that? Your best friend, I mean."

"His name's Johnny. Johnny Storm," Spidey answered.

As soon as she heard that name, Kagome lit up like a street lamp. "Johnny Storm?! The Johnny Storm?! Of the world-famous Fantastic Four?!"

Spidey was completely surprised by her outburst. "Uh . . . yeah, that's the guy. I . . . wait a minute. How'd you know that?"

A slight blush rose to Kagome's cheeks as she started to swoon a little. She tried her best to cover her face, but Spidey could still tell something was up. "Well," she said timidly, "to tell the truth, I used to have the biggest crush on him when I was like ten years old. I even had a giant poster of him on my wall."

"Yeah . . . disturbing," was all Spidey could say to that.

Kagome quickly turned to Spidey. "You just said that he was your best friend, right? Is that really true?" she asked. He nodded uncomfortably. "Then . . . could you . . . maybe . . . introduce me to him sometime?" she barely managed to say due to her uncharacteristic shyness.

"Uh, yeah, sure," Spidey said uneasily.

Just then, both Inuyasha and Koga popped in between Kagome and Spider-Man like a couple of pissed off whack-a-moles. "Like hell you will!" they shouted at him right in his face.

Spidey looked at them strangely through his mask. "Uh, look, guys. Johnny's cool. He's my best bud; I know him really well. He's a pretty easy-going kinda guy. You got nothing to worry about; he wouldn't do anything. Besides, he's like my age anyways," he tried to ease their not-so-well-hidden suspicions.

Still apprehensive, but somewhat pacified, Inuyasha and Koga slowly backed away from the web-slinger.

"I still don't like this Storm guy," Inuyasha muttered.

"Me neither," Koga agreed.

"So, if we see him, we waste 'em?" Inuyasha suggested.

"In a heartbeat," Koga said. They quickly shook on it.

Back in the rear of the group, Spidey pointed this out to Kagome. "See? They're getting along already. All they needed to do was to find the things they had in common. You know, their mutual likes and dislikes. They both like you, they both don't like me, and apparently they both already don't like Johnny."

"Maybe," Kagome said, thinking about it for a second. Then she turned back to Spidey just as quickly. "But you're still gonna introduce me, right?" she asked again.

"We'll see," Spidey said. "Let's see if we can't get back to our own time period first when this is all over. Besides, I got a funny feeling something's gonna go down here pretty soon, so stay sharp."

"Really?" Miroku asked. "What makes you say that?"

"Absolute probability," Spider-Man answered bluntly. "The last time something really bad happened was over twenty-four hours ago, so if experience serves right, we should be overdue by now."

Sango eyed the wall-crawler wearily. "You're a real pessimist, you know that?" she told him.

"I prefer to think of myself as a realist. But, hey, tomāto, tomăto. Trust me; it's almost as if the trouble was already on its way here." He thought about that for a minute. "I really gotta quit saying stuff like that."


A young girl leapt through the branches of a forest in a desperate ploy to throw off her pursuer. Still, she knew it had little chance of working. Her pursuer was not going to be that easy to lose, but she had to try. She had but one hope, which was to evade her attacker just long enough to find the one person who could help her.

Believing she had obtained enough of a gap between her and her pursuer, she stopped on a particularly large branch to catch her breath. Then the tree just behind the one she was perched on fell with a crash loud enough to wake the dead. She quickly turned to see her assailant closer than she had anticipated. She was exhausted beyond measure at this point, but she managed to gather enough of her remaining strength to continue her escape. She leapt off the branch, landed on the ground, and tried to get as much distance between her and her attacker as she could on foot. In the back of her mind, she knew she couldn't last much longer. If she wanted to survive, she needed to find him, and find him now!

"Where are you?" she cried to herself. "I need you, Koga!"


"I'm still not sure about that whole prison idea for Naraku," Kagome said to Spider-Man as the group was still on their way to their next unknown destination.

"Hmm, perhaps you're right," Spidey said. "The best you guys got around here are like medieval dungeons, huh?"

"Yeah," Kagome affirmed. "And I sincerely doubt one of those would be able to hold him. Or any modern prison, for that matter."

Spider-Man thought about that for a minute. "I bet the Raft could," he said.

"How would a tiny little raft be able to hold a demon as powerful as Naraku?" Shippo, who was still riding on Spider-Man's shoulder.

"Not a raft that you can ride, the Raft. It's the name of a prison in my and Kagome's time."

"What is it then?" Kagome asked. "I've never heard of it."

"I wouldn't expect you to have," Spidey said. "But you have heard of Ryker's Island, right?"

"I think so," Kagome answered. "Isn't it a maximum security prison that's on a small island not far away from Manhattan Island? It's supposed to be one of the most secure and well-guarded jails in the whole world, right?"

"Correctimundo," Spidey answered. "And the Raft is another, somewhat less well-known prison that's pretty much right next to Ryker's. If Ryker's is a maximum security facility, then the Raft is an über-maximum security facility."

"What makes you say that?" Kagome asked.

"The Raft is especially designed and staffed to hold the world's most powerful and dangerous super criminals," Spidey explained. "Each cell is specifically designed and built to keep each inmate incarcerated based upon his or her special powers. What's more, each prisoner is kept whacked out on drugs to keep them from being a threat. Those suckers are injected with enough tranq to drop a charging bull elephant at ten paces every morning with breakfast. How's that sound for a great way to start your day?"

"Not a good one, I have to admit," Kagome said. "That's crazy."

"Tell me about it," Spidey said. "If that place can hold guys like the Wrecking Crew and the U-Foes, then it can certainly hold this Naraku mook."

"You guys are talking nonsense!" Inuyasha shouted at them over his shoulder. "We're gonna kill Naraku, and that's the way it's gonna be!"

Spidey shrugged. "Well, if you're gonna be all adamant about it."

"Oh, ignore him," Kagome said. "He's as stubborn as a mule."

The group kept on moving in the direction they were going without much incident. About ten or so minutes later, Spider-Man's spider-sense started to buzz, ever so slightly. At first, it was extremely faint, almost as if it wasn't even there to begin with. Then, it slowly, but steadily began to get louder, indicating that whatever set it off was getting closer.

"Stay on your toes, people," Spidey warned. "I got a feeling that we're gonna run into some trouble shortly."

Koga turned around to face the wall-crawler. "Oh really? Like what?"

Just then, a figure came barreling straight out of the woods collided with Koga, knocking the both of them to the ground with a loud crash.

"Offhand, I'd say something like that," Spidey said.

"Ugh," Koga stammered as he rubbed the fresh lump on his head. "Who in the . . ?" He looked over at person who had knocked him over. It was a young girl, one he recognized immediately. "Ayame!"

The girl also gathered herself from the collision. She rubbed her eyes in confusion. Then she looked at who she ran into. "Koga!" she shouted jubilantly as she threw her arms around him.

Koga quickly pushed her off him and stood up, flabbergasted. She ignored the action and stood as well. It was the first time Spider-Man, who was arguably more confused than Koga at this point, got a good look at her. She was about Kagome's height, and around her age by all appearances. Her eyes were a bright green and her reddish-brown hair was tied back into two pigtails and accessorized with a bright purple flower. Her forehead was adorned with a thin silver circlet and she wore a necklace decorated with what looked like pieces of jade. She had the same pointy ears and fangs that Koga had, meaning that she must be a demon as well. Come to think of it, her getup looked a lot like Koga's too. She wore the same design chest plate (albeit slightly shaped differently for obvious reasons), and she had the same style of fur coverings that he had, although hers were a light grayish color. In addition, she wore a fur shall over her shoulders. Her voice was shrill and her eyes were pleading; she was obviously in some sort of trouble.

"Koga, I'm so glad I found you! I've been looking everywhere!" she cried.

"Wait, what?" Koga said, still confused.

"Ayame, what are you doing here? Is something the matter?" asked Kagome worryingly.

Ayame's face quickly went from hopeful to glowering as she acknowledged Kagome's presence. "Oh, you're here too, Kagome?" she said with the tiniest hint of contempt in her voice. She quickly turned back to Koga. "So, you're traveling with her now?"

"Uh, yeah," Koga answered somewhat defiantly. "So what?"

"So!" Ayame shouted. "So you know that we're—"

"Whoa! Hey! Time-out here!" Spidey cut in while make a t-shape with his hands, the time-out signal. He looked at Ayame, who looked positively stunned by the oddly dressed man in front of her.

"Hey, hi. Name's Spider-Man. Don't think we've met. Ayame, right? You must be a friend of theirs. So am I. Nice to meet you." He held out his right hand to shake hers. She just looked at it questioningly, not being familiar with that particular greeting custom.

"Right, well, forget that then," Spidey said, withdrawing his hand. "I may be new around here, but I've been around the block enough times to tell a damsel in distress when I see one."

"Excuse me?" Ayame asked.

"You were obviously running from something when you ran into him . . . literally," Spidey explained. "Care to elaborate?"

Ayame quickly gathered herself, realizing that Spider-Man was right; she had almost forgotten why she had gone looking for Koga. She turned to him. "Oh, right. Koga, I need your help!"

"With what?" he asked.

"A giant bear demon is chasing me!" she exclaimed.

"Say what?" Spidey said.

"What! Why?!" Koga shouted.

Ayame took a deep breath, preparing to tell a two-hour story in two minutes. "A while back, Gramps and the rest of our wolf demon tribes up in the north were attacked by a tribe of demon bears who were moving into our territory, and a war soon broke out. After a long while, we were winning up until, their leader came to the front lines. He was way too big and strong for us to take on. So, yesterday, I did my best to lure it away from our den by angering it."

"And that means . . ?" Inuyasha butted in.

Ayame began to twiddle her fingers nervously. "I, um, hit it over the head with a large rock while it was sleeping," she said sheepishly.

"And I take it that worked?" Spider-Man inferred.

"Like a charm, sorta," Ayame answered shyly. "I was hoping that I would be able to lead it far enough west to find you, Koga, and ask for your help. I guess I just sort of knew you were out here somewhere, and I just found you."

"Oh, you're all a bunch of weaklings," Koga sighed. "There's no way even a single demon bear should be tough enough to give you that much trouble. It's pathetic."

"I don't know, man. They are the number one threat in America," Spidey added. Everyone looked at him strangely. Not taking any notice, Spidey rambled on, except he changed his voice to a fake Chicagoan accent. "And back in '85, Da Bears coulda takin' on de entire country o' Poland."

Everyone continued to stare at him like he was insane. Then they looked at Kagome, who shrugged her shoulders in an I-don't-know manner.

"Well, maybe this demon has a shard of the Shikon jewel. That would explain why it's so powerful," Kagome suggested.

"I doubt it," Inuyasha grunted. "You probably would have sensed it by now if it did."

"Hmm," thought Kagome aloud. "I guess you're right."

"'Course I'm right," Inuyasha boasted.

"I suppose that statistically, you have to be once in a while," Spidey interjected. Inuyasha scowled at him while Kagome giggled.

Koga ignored Spider-Man and rounded on Ayame again. "Whatever. The fact of the matter is that I'm kinda already in the middle of something."

Just then, Spider-Man spider-sense blared like mad. He quickly turned behind him and looked into the woods in the direction that Ayame had just emerged from. Something was swiftly approaching. Something big! "Uh, guys?" he dropped the foolishness for the moment and tried to get everyone else's attention.

"Like what?!" Ayame shouted at Koga, getting closer to his face.

"Like trying to find Naraku and kill him for slaughtering our brothers!" Koga spat right back at her, moving closer still to her face.

"Uh, guys?" Spidey tried to get their attention for the second time. Whatever was coming was getting closer, and quickly.

"But this more important than that right now! You have an obligation to your tribe to defend it!" Ayame argued.

"I don't have time to baby-sit a bunch of sissy fools who can't take care of themselves! And I don't have any obligations to anyone!" Koga bellowed.

Ayame had nearly lost it. By now, their noses were practically touching. "You have an obligation to me! As your fi—"

"GUYS!" Spidey yelled over them.

Both Koga and Ayame rounded on him, and so did everyone else. "What?!" they shouted.

Spidey pointed behind him into the woods. "It's here."

As soon as Spidey said that, a massive bear-like creature smashed through the trees with a terrible roar that would have dwarfed a lion. It was easily thirty feet tall, with pitch black fur, blood red eyes, and razor sharp claws and teeth. Each of its mighty claws and teeth were at least two feet long. Its demonic eyes looked around, their gaze finally resting on its minute prey at its feet.

Spidey just stared at the thing. "Man, that thing's huge. It's as big as a Sentinel!"

The beast's eyes centered on Ayame for a second. With another horrendous howl, it brought its gigantic paw down to smash the lot of them. Spider-Man quickly back flipped away from the attack, with Shippo clinging to him for dear life. Miroku pushed Sango to the ground. Koga quickly picked up Ayame bridal-style and leapt out of harm's way, as did Inuyasha with Kagome.

Kagome had had enough time to grab her backpack, but not her bike, which was promptly reduced to scrap by the demon bear's attack. "Ah! Not again!" she cried as she saw it get squashed.

"Forget that blasted contraption for once!" Inuyasha reprimanded her.

"But that was the third one that's been trashed like that! And I really liked that one! It had a bell and everything!" she retorted.

Miroku gathered himself after rescuing Sango and found that he was conveniently lying on top of her. "Are you alright, Sango?" he asked her.

"Yeah, I'm fine," she replied after giving herself a quick once-over. She looked up at him and smiled slightly. "Thank you, Miroku, you sav—" She stopped dead. She felt that lecherous hand of his again on her backside. "You . . . you filthy-minded scumbag!" she growled as the veins in her forehead popped. She smacked him hard across the face with her open hand. "This is hardly the time for that!" she shrieked.

Miroku, with a fresh new red, hand-shaped mark on his face, quickly got off her. "Oh really," he said with a smirk while he rubbed his new mark, "then perhaps you could tell me when it would be a good time." She hit him again.
Koga landed away from the beast with Ayame in his arms. He looked down at her frustratingly. "Are you daft, woman?!" he said. "What on earth possessed you to lead that thing here?!"

She huffed and looked away from him while folding her arms, her face slightly red. "Well, you have come to my rescue before," she mumbled.

He seemingly ignored her comment and set her down. He opened his mouth to undoubtedly start arguing again, but Spider-Man's shout cut him off.

"Hey!" Spidey yelled at the others. "Save your squabbles for later! It's game time!" He quickly took Shippo off his shoulder and set him down. "Run for cover, little buddy," he told him, and Shippo quickly complied, ducking behind a nearby tree.

Realizing that Spider-Man was right, Inuyasha, Kagome, and the others promptly dropped their bickering for the moment and readied themselves for battle.

Spider-Man shouted again to the others. "You guys get clear and regroup! I'll hold it off!"

"Like hell I will! Don't patronize me! I can take this thing down myself!" Inuyasha protested.

"What he said!" Koga agreed. "I'm not a weakling who runs and hides! I can handle this!"

Kagome grabbed Inuyasha's ear ("Ow!) and reprimanded him. "Now is not the time to argue! If he says to move, we need to move! We need to trust him!"



" . . . ok," Inuyasha consented meekly.

Kagome quickly looked over at Ayame, her face reverting to its normal kind state faster than a bolt of lightning. "It's alright. We can trust him."

Ayame simply nodded. Kagome's semi-mood swings always did rather freak her out a little. "Koga, maybe we should do what he says."

Koga snorted. "You know what, if that moron wants to go and get himself killed, that's fine by me. Saves me the trouble of doing it myself."

"So go already!" Spidey shouted. With that, Kagome and the others retreated some distance while Spidey turned to face the monstrous creature. The bear's eyes looked down and centered on the small man looking back at it.

"Hey there, Winnie the Pooh," Spidey remarked casually. "I don't suppose we could talk about this over a small smackerel of hunny now could we?"

His answer was a massive claw flying down at him. He nimbly leapt away from the attack and landed on a tree to the right of the beast's head. "No dice, eh? Well then, how 'bout a nice pick-a-nick basket?"

The demon took another swipe at the wisecracking wall-crawler, but it missed again and sliced the tree's top off. Spidey landed on another tree in front of the demon.

"Well, I can tell you're really pissed. Now, it wouldn't be something as mundane and cliché as a thorn in your paw, would it?"

The beast roared and smashed its paws together, trying to squashed the web-slinger between them. Spider-Man jumped up in the air, and yet another tree was wasted before the demon's raging might.

"Didn't think so. But still, maybe I should wrap up those troublesome things anyway," Spidey said.

He quickly webbed up the bear's claws before it could pull them apart. Unfortunately, this only proved to anger it further as it effortlessly tore the webbing to shreds almost as soon as the web-spinner was done spinning it.

"Or not, you know, whatever works for you."

The bear's eyes once again found Spider-Man above it, and it made yet another swipe at him. Spidey realized that by taking the time to web up the beast's paws, he lost whatever time he had to regain enough leverage to be able to move enough to dodge the attack.

"Oh crap," he muttered.

Just as he brought his arms over his face to brace for impact, a massive wave of energy came from below the demon's paw and sliced it clean off. Spidey looked over his arms to see the demon roaring in pain over it missing paw and the immense amount blood that was gushing from its arm. He gathered himself and landed on the ground and looked over at where the energy wave had come from to see Inuyasha standing there, battle ready and his giant sword drawn.

"Thanks pal," Spidey said as he quickly joined his friend. "I owe ya one."

Inuyasha smirked. "Anytime. But I'll have you know I am keeping track."

"Naturally. Who wouldn't?" Spidey replied.

Kagome, Miroku, Sango (who had changed into her battle armor), Kirara, Koga, and Ayame came up behind them.

"You two alright?" Kagome asked.

"Just dandy, thanks," Spidey answered. "Now what's say we put Yogi here down for a nice nap?"

"Sounds like my kinda fun," Koga chuckled as he cracked his knuckles. Without a moment's hesitation, he leapt up at the bear with his fist raised and ready to for a powerful strike. "You wait here, mutt-face, while I waste this thing!" he yelled back cockily.

"What?!" Inuyasha shouted back.

"Koga, be careful!" Ayame called to him.

"Whatever," Koga remarked offhandedly.

Ayame's warning was more than called for, however, because despite its injury, the bear demon was still as angry and alert as ever. It saw Koga coming, and before he could dodge it, it swatted Koga away from it like a fly.

"Argh!" Koga cried as he was flung backwards into a tree behind the group.

"Koga!" Ayame ran back to check on him. After looking at him, she said, "He's okay, it's just a bump."

"What was that you were saying, wolf?" Inuyasha said in a holier-than-thou manner.

"Aw, shut it dog-boy," Koga retorted while rubbing his head.

Before Inuyasha could yell something back, Spidey stopped him by putting his hand on his shoulder. "Leave it. His pride hurts more than his body right now. We don't need recklessness like that to take this thing down. What we need is a plan of attack." He turned to Sango. "Do you think you could flank it with that giant boomerang of yours?"

"You bet," she answered.

"Good," said Spidey. He turned back to Inuyasha. "Then me and you'll come up behind her weapon and attack as soon as its guard drops. Got it?"

Inuyasha snorted. "Who died and made you leader?"

Spidey flicked Inuyasha's ear.

"Hey! What was that for?" Inuyasha cried as he grabbed his throbbing ear.

"Just shut up, swallow your pride, and do it, will you?!" Spidey barked.

Inuyasha huffed. "Whatever."

Spidey turned back to Sango. "Ready?"

"Whenever you are," she replied, and he readied her Hiraikotsu for the attack.

"Alright then, on 'three' then," said Spider-Man. He counted down his fingers. "One . . . two . . ."

"Three!" Inuyasha shouted.

"HIRAIKOTSU!" Sango cried as she launched her weapon at the creature.

As the weapon flew through the air at the bear demon, Spider-Man and Inuyasha leapt off right behind it, ready to finish this battle. It seemed to go to plan; the bear noticed Sango's Hiraikotsu and swatted it away in anger.

"Now!" shouted Spidey as he and Inuyasha launched their combined sneak attack. He swung a mighty punch as Inuyasha brought down his sword in a grand swing.

Then the most unexpected and bizarre thing happened. As they attacked, the bear saw them and roared in a mighty fury. With its mouth open, hordes of miniature copies of itself poured out of its snout like water out of a faucet, snarling and ready to dispatch their master's assailants with deadly force.

"What the hell?!" cried both Spidey and Inuyasha in simultaneous surprise. Spidey quickly switched his attack plan and spun a web-net around the small bear demons in front of him. Inuyasha was forced to cut the small bear demons attacking him rather than their much larger master. Their assault failed, they landed nimbly on the ground.

"What on earth was that?!" Spidey shouted. He looked at Inuyasha. "Did you know it could do that?!"

"How was I supposed to know?!" he yelled back.

"Guys! Look out!" Kagome cried.

Spider-Man and Inuyasha looked up at the demon. It bent over them, opened its mouth, and sent another torrent of its minions at them. The two of them leapt back, defending themselves from the beasts. The giant demon turned in the direction of the interruptive voice, saw the others in hiding, and sent more of its mini-demons at them.

"Heads up, kids!" Spidey shouted a warning.

"Here they come!" said Miroku as he readied his staff.

Sango drew the katana she kept at her side and swung at the nearest mini bear demon that attacked her, which was promptly split in twain. "Kirara! Watch after Kagome!" she called to her feline companion.

Kirara transformed into her larger form and dashed over to Kagome, who was cradling a horribly frightened Shippo. Some of the bear demons charged at them, but Kirara leapt ahead and bit into one's throat, tearing it out. Another swung a paw at her from behind, and she countered with a tail whip. She swung her mighty paw at yet another pair of the demons, swiftly decapitating both of them. She roared at her triumph, and that was enough to get some of the others to back off for the moment.

Ayame was hovering over an injured Koga, desperate to protect him. Three of the small bears charged at her and Koga. "Stay away from him, you beasts!" she cried as she produced three small leaves from seemingly nowhere and threw them at her attackers. Inexplicably, when the leaves hit the heads of the bear demons, they were somehow sharp enough to pierce their hides the demons dropped like flies.

Spider-Man sank another right hook into the jaw of one of the demons. "Well, I'm outta ideas. With Yogi here spitting out little Boo-Boos, it makes it a tad more complicated than I thought."

Inuyasha cleaved another trio of demons with a single swing. "Ditto that. I can't use my Windscar with everyone spread out like this."

Kagome thought for a minute, and then her eyes lit up as a bulb went off in her head. "Maybe it's not as bad as you think!" she shouted. Everyone stole an interested glance at her in the middle of defending themselves. "Everyone brace yourselves! Miroku, use your Wind Tunnel!"

"Of course!" cried Miroku in realization as he swatted away one of the bear demons with his staff. "Why didn't I think of that? Everyone hold onto something!" he warned as he unwrapped his cursed hand from the beads that kept his terrible but useful power at bay.

Spidey used his power to stick to the ground to root himself on the spot. Inuyasha plunged his Tetsusaiga into the ground to anchor himself, and Sango did the same with her katana. Kagome held tightly onto Shippo and Kirara shielded them, while Ayame held onto Koga for dear life.

"WIIND TUNNEL!" Miroku cried as he unleashed his greatest weapon. As soon as he opened the Wind Tunnel, the violent gusts pulled in anything that wasn't secured to the ground. Spidey and the others were safe because of the precautions they had just taken, the remainder of the small bear demons weren't nearly as fortunate; they were consumed by the mysterious void in Miroku's hand. After he surmised that he had defeated the last of the small bear demons, Miroku closed his Wind Tunnel and wrapped the beads around his glove.

When the wind subsided, Kagome quickly called out. "Spider-Man! If you can find some way to close its mouth and restrain it, I can finish it off."

Spidey straightened up and looked at Kagome. "With what?"

"My bow and arrow," she answered plainly.

Spidey stared at her in disbelief. "You're kidding, right?"

"Why would I at a time like this?"

"Point taken, but look here, little Ms. Robin Hood. I hardly think that a little thing like a bow and arrow is gonna hurt that monster."

Kagome looked hard at Spider-Man. "Please. I trusted you. Now you have to trust me."

Spidey looked back into Kagome's eyes. Her gaze was intense, and her look was firm; he could find no doubt in her being. "Alright, let's do this then. I still got a trick or two up my spandex."

Spidey looked up at the monster, and saw that it was beginning to regain its bearings from Miroku's attack. He quickly leapt up to a tree on his right, and then bounced to an adjacent tree on his left, then again on his right, until he had reached to the forest's canopy and was level with the bear demon's head.

He whistled to get its attention. "Hey! Over here, you 100 Acre Wood reject!"

It turned to Spider-Man, roaring with rage. Spidey leapt up over the top of its head. As it followed his movements, the beast opened its mouth to launch another batch of its small minions.

Spider-Man saw the attack coming, aimed at the monster's mouth with his web-shooters, and fired, effectively webbing the beast's trap shut. "I don't think so, Smokey. Don't you know how bad bulimia is for your overall health?"

Spidey flipped over the monster and landed on its back, near the base of its neck. He quickly reinforced his webbing, fashioning it into a giant muzzle of sorts. He pulled back on the web-muzzle, causing the bear demon to fall on all fours and buck like a horse.

"Yee haw! I done gone and caught me a wild bronco!" he yelled out in a poor imitation of a Wild West cowboy. To complete the bad illusion, he spun a lasso with his free hand and swung it around. As the beast became more and more aggressive, Spidey threw his web-lasso around its right paw, and quickly spun another to rope around its left paw.

"Whoa nelly! Take it down a notch or two!" Spidey shouted. "Kagome! Any time this century would be nice!"

Back on the ground, Kagome had taken out her shortbow and drawn an arrow. "Just try and hold it steady!" she shouted. "And when I say 'now,' get out of the way!"

Spider-Man looked down at Kagome. Her face was intense, she was sure of herself and her abilities. Strangely, though, Spidey noticed that the point of the arrow she was holding was beginning to glow a violent shade of purple. "Whatever you say, kid!"

Kagome steadied her arrow as she took aim. It was rather difficult because although Spider-Man was trying to restrain the beast, it was still thrashing around quite a bit. Then, Spider-Man pulled back particularly hard on the web-reigns he had fashioned, and the bear demon bucked up with a mighty roar. It was then that Kagome saw her window of opportunity.

"Now!" she shouted as she fired her arrow.

At the signal, Spidey let go of the web-reigns and leapt down from the demon's back. He landed on the ground next to Inuyasha and turned just in time to see Kagome's arrow strike the demon. As the arrow flew through the air, a brilliant purple light surrounded it. The shining arrow pierced the demon right through the heart. As it did so, the beast cried out in fury and pain before being engulfed in the arrow's light and then it disintegrated into nothing.

Spidey stood dumbstruck at the sight he just saw. Wow. And they call me 'amazing.' He looked at Kagome. There was a look of relief on her face, but nothing that would be considered particularly unusual; that act was apparently routine for her. Despite her innocence, or perhaps because of it, she was a far more powerful young woman than she appeared. He smirked to himself at her calmness.

"Well slap some purple boxer shorts on me and call me the Hulk. That was incredible lil' lady," he said as he walked up to Kagome to congratulate her.

Kagome smiled shyly while sticking out her a tongue a little. "Thanks, but that really was no big deal."

"No seriously," Spidey said. "Shot through the heart, and you're to blame."

Kagome giggled a little. "Do I give love a bad name too?"

"Nah, but what I wanna know is how you did that thing with the light and the arrow."

"Oh that? Well, I tell you about that later. First, I think we'd better gather our bearings and let things settle down a bit."

"Hmm, good thinking."

"Yeah." With that, Kagome and Spider-Man walked back over the Inuyasha, Miroku, Sango, and the others to take a well-deserved break.


Later that night, the group had gathered around a campfire in a clearing. Spider-Man noticed that you could cut the tension with a knife. Miroku and Sango seemed to be doing relatively well; no smacking or groping to be seen . . . yet. He did notice that Miroku was progressively moving ever so slightly toward Sango, his hand extended just the tiniest bit. Spidey sighed at the young man's perverted immaturity.

The others, however, were even more of a problem. Koga insisted that he needed more of Kagome's modern medicine, to which she obliged, albeit somewhat reluctantly. Inuyasha was glaring daggers at Koga as Kagome applied some antibiotic cream to a cut on Koga's knee, his hand on the hilt of his sword. Ayame, on the other hand, was staring just as angrily at Kagome, but she at least restrained herself to just pouting.

Figuring that he had better try to break the ice before somebody broke a nose, Spidey decided he'd find out a little bit more about this new girl, Ayame. "So, Ayame?" he asked.

She looked at him, a little of her frustration still present on her countenance. "Yes?" she responded icily.

Spider-Man could have sworn he felt his spider-sense tingle the slightest bit, but he figured he'd imagined it. Still, his next question faltered a bit. "So, uh, um, how do you know Koga and this lot?"

She huffed and threw a particularly poisonous glance at Koga and Kagome. "I'm Koga's fiancée."

Spidey was glad he wasn't drinking something, because if he had been, he would have done a spit take. "What?"

Koga stood up, accidentally knocking down Kagome in the process, and glared down at Ayame. "I've told you before, and I'll tell you again! We are not engaged!"

Ayame got right in Koga's face, with traces of tears in her eyes. "Of course we are! Don't you remember the night of the lunar rainbow?"

That confused Spidey. "Lunar rainbow? Anyone care to fill me in on that one?"

Ayame wiped the tears from her eyes and sat down. She faced Spider-Man and tried to put a smile on her face. "A long time ago, back when I was just a little girl, I got lost in a forest while looking for a certain flower to use in special training. I found myself attacked by some of the bird of paradise demons."

Spidey looked at Koga. "You did mention those, didn't you?" A snort was all he got for a reply.

Ayame continued. "Just as I was about to be devoured, Koga came out of nowhere and slew the demons." Her face brightened up and she brought back her happiest memory. "He saved my life!"

Spidey smirked. "Your own knight in furry armor, huh?" he remarked. Koga growled.

Ayame ignored them both. "Then he carried me out of the forest and told me not to worry or be sad, and he promised to marry me when I came down from my training in the northern mountains."

Koga snorted again. Everyone ignored him.

"That night, as we passed by a river, we saw a rainbow in the night sky, underneath a full moon." Ayame said as she blushed heavily. "Ohhhhhh, it was soooo romantic!"

Spidey rolled his eyes under his mask. Oy gevalt. Teenagers.

Koga grunted. "Like I said, I don't remember that even happening. You're delusional." He shifted his weight around a little. He seemed uneasy about something. "Nope, don't remember a thing."

Ayame looked teary-eyed again. "It did too happen!" she shouted at him. Kagome stood up and tried to console Ayame by putting her hand on her shoulder. Ayame didn't seem to be angry with Kagome any longer and took her hand while sobbing. She did seem to calm down a little.

Spidey massaged his chin in thought. "You know," he said after a while, "I hate to say it, but maybe Koga's right. That story makes about as much sense to me as a Bob Dylan song. I don't think that happened either."

Kagome and Ayame gasped at him. "How can you say that!" they cried.

"I'm talking about the lunar rainbow," he replied calmly. "I doubt there is such a thing."

Kagome and Ayame calmed down slightly and sat back down. "What do you mean?" Ayame asked.

"A rainbow is simply a diffusion of white light that is refracted through a crystalline prism, which splits it into the various colors of the visible light spectrum," Spider-Man explained.

Ayame was completely dumbfounded. "What?"

"In terms of light, white is a combination of all the possible shades of color, and conversely, black is the absence of color. After it rains, some humidity remains in the atmosphere, and that ambient moisture acts as the prism for light from the sun to be refracted. That's why you usually see rainbows after or during rainfalls." He thought for a second, and then continued. "But what gets me is that the sun wasn't out. But the moon was. Moonlight is a reflection of light from the sun. But I doubt that even a full moon could be illuminescent enough to provide enough light to be diffused enough to produce a visible rainbow. If you truly saw lights in the night sky, the only possible phenomenon it could have been would have to be Aurora Borealis."

"Aurora Bore-what?" Inuyasha blurted.

"Aurora Borealis," Spider-Man repeated, "more commonly known as the Northern Lights. But that wouldn't be plausible either because those are only seen in the Arctic Circle. We're far too south for that."

The group looked at one another in total confusion.

"Okay, I didn't understand a word he just said. Any of you get that?" Koga asked.

"Nope, not a one," answered Inuyasha. "Did you, Kagome?"

Kagome, however, did not reply. At some point during Spidey's mini-lecture, she had gotten out a notebook and pencil and began taking notes. "Shhhh," she said as she scribbled away. "This is good stuff. Could you repeat that part about light refraction again?"

Spidey stared at her. "Uhhhhhhhh . . . I didn't know class was in session."

Kagome smiled weakly. "Oh, sorry. That seemed like such good information, I figured I should write it down for me to use in my science class."

Spidey rubbed the back of his head. "I guess I kinda got a little carried away there. I am a scientist by nature, so I tend to overanalyze things like that when I get in the zone. You know how it is."

"Heh heh, yeah," Kagome said.

There was an awkward silence for a few seconds, which was then broken by a screech from Sango. Apparently, Miroku's hand finally found its mark, which he was promptly punished for by a swift blow to his left temple.

"Why don't you keep your hands to yourself for once in your life, you lecherous degenerate?!" Sango shouted at him.

Miroku smiled weakly while rubbing his newest bump. "Heh heh, you know that's hard with this cursed hand and all."

Now Sango was really starting to lose her temper. "Why you . . . you . . . why don't you go make yourself useful for a change and go find something for dinner!" she screamed at him.

Realizing that if he stayed any longer, he could very well lose that "cursed" hand of his, not to mention the arm it was attached to, he quickly got up and walked out of the clearing back into the forest in the direction of the nearby river. Meanwhile, Inuyasha had been snickering at his friend's emasculation. Unfortunately for him, Kagome saw that.

"Why do you go with him if you think that's so funny," she said coolly.

Inuyasha guffawed. "And what if I don't feel like it?"

"Then I say si—"

Before she could finish, Inuyasha had already dashed off after Miroku, equally emasculated. The three girls then briefly centered their eyes on Koga. Realizing that he was dangerously outnumbered, he quickly got up and made to follow them.

"Heh, you know that it would be quicker if more were helping, so I think I'll go lend a hand. Heh heh," he excused himself.

"Good idea," Ayame said with the smallest hint of venom in her voice.

After Koga had left, Ayame, Kagome, and Sango quickly rounded on Spider-Man, moving closer to him. Completely caught off guard, he eyed them warily.

Uh oh, he thought. I know I should have had Matt write up my last will and testament when he suggested it.

Shippo, who had been napping until now, jumped onto Spidey's shoulder while yawning. "They not gonna kill you, you know."

"Heh, yeah, you're right. Occupational instinct." He turned to the girls. "The lot of you certainly can lose your temper when you want to. My heart goes out to those guys."

They blushed slightly. Sango twiddled her fingers. "Well . . . it's just that . . . you know . . . sometimes he . . .," she stammered.

"Really pushes your buttons?" Spider-Man finished for her.

"Yeah, pretty much," Sango agreed. Ayame and Kagome nodded.

"You don't really seem like that, though," Kagome pointed out.

Spidey waved off her comment. "Nah, I've done my share of dumb things in my time. And believe you me, my wife has given me many a chewing out for it. It's the nature of our gender. I just grew out of it. Well, most of it anyway. And trust me, they will too . . . eventually." He laughed to himself inside at the girls' problems; they were so like and yet, at the same time, unlike his own at that age. "So, Ayame, Kagome, what's the deal with you and . . ."

Ayame huffed. "That inconsiderate jerk! I can't believe he forgot."

"I'm not so sure he did," Spidey commented.


"Trust me, he wasn't hiding that lie of his very well. I could tell he was bluffing you. He remembers, he just doesn't want to."

"How could you tell that?" asked Sango.

"Because you don't forget things like that. We guys just want you to think that so we can get out of living back up to it. I know I really wouldn't forget something like that. As a matter of fact, I can remember the first words my wife ever said to me."

As soon as he said that, the three girls rushed up to his face with glowing looks on their faces.

"Really? That's so romantic!" exclaimed Ayame.

"Oh, what did she say?" asked Sango.

"Come on, tell us!" pleaded Kagome.

Spidey threw his hands up in defense and slightly backed away. "Um . . . well . . . uh . . ." He saw the look in their eyes and realized there was no weaseling his way out of this one. He eased up a little and began to reminisce about his good old days.

"Well," he explained, "to tell the truth, our aunts had been trying to set us up for a while, but without any success because, um, our timing wasn't so good. Yeah, that's it. Timing. Anyhow, well, they eventually set us up on a blind date. She dropped by that night, and I saw her for the first time when I answered the door." He chuckled to himself for a second. "I was so awestruck by her beauty, I was speechless. When I didn't say anything, she broke the ice."

"So, what did she say?" prodded Kagome.

Spider-Man let himself have one more chortle. "'Face it, Tiger. You just hit the jackpot.' And indeed I did. Indeed I did."

"Wow, that's wonderful," said Sango.

"Yeah," agreed Ayame. "And if he can remember something like that, then Koga must remember our night under the lunar rainbow."

Kagome spoke up. "You know, Ayame, there's nothing going on between me and Koga; I only see him as a friend, nothing more."

Ayame sighed. "Yeah, I know. I'm not mad at you." She giggled a little. "Now we just need to get him to realize that."

Kagome laughed back. "Yeah."

Spidey smiled. They were having a moment. They were obviously much more mature than their male companions. "So, let me see if I can get all this love stuff straight with you guys. Kagome, you like Inuyasha. And I pretty sure he likes you back."

"You really thi—" Kagome started hopefully.

"Please," Spidey interrupted, "no girly stuff until I'm finished." Kagome hushed up quite indignantly.

"But we got this Kikyo person who was his old girlfriend, and you say he still has feelings for her, and vice versa."

Kagome nodded silently, somewhat crestfallen.

"Plus, Koga is intent on marrying you, unfortunately. And he's already engaged to Ayame anyway."

Kagome laughed uncomfortably. She could feel Ayame's piercing gaze through the back of her head. Then she shook her head and added, "That's not all."

Spidey and the two other girls looked up at her with puzzling looks. "There's also this boy in my class back who likes me. His name's Hojo."

"Don't you mean that guy we met a while back, my vassal, Akitoki Hojo?" Shippo asked.

"Oh yeah, him too," Kagome said. "But, no. I was talking about someone else. Same name, different person." She quickly leaned over to Spidey to whisper in his ear. "Akitoki is the ancestor of the Hojo in my class."

"Uh, yeah, ok," he mumbled, confused. He held up his fingers, trying to count something. "So we got him, and the other guy, and . . . no, wait, there's . . . and . . . huh."

"Having trouble trying to figure out all the love triangles around here?" chuckled Shippo.

Spidey put down his hand in exasperation. "Actually, I think it's more like an octagon at this point."

Kagome giggled a little. It was really something that he could turn a situation that embarrassing and unlucky into something humorous.

Spidey turned to Sango. "So, there's all that, and that Miroku guy keeps feeling you up."

Sango huffed. "Yeah. And it's not just me. He does that to every pretty girl he sees."

Spider-Man twitched. "What?"

"If only that were it," Sango continued her rant. "You haven't even heard that line he always uses about having his child."

Spidey was completely taken aback. "Beg pardon?"

Sango folded her arms across her chest in aggravation. "Oh yeah. He asks very girl he meets to bear his child. He somehow got it in his head that he has to have a son soon, in case he doesn't defeat Naraku before that 'cursed hand' of his kills him. He thinks he has to leave an heir to do it for him."

Spidey turned to Kagome. "Please tell me she's pulling my leg."

Kagome sighed. "I wish she was, but yeah, he does ask that. He even asked me that question shortly after we first met."

Spidey was astonished. "He did what?"

Kagome nodded.

Spidey slowly began to clench his fist. "Oh, I'm gonna have to have a little chat with those boys when they get back," he growled.

"Yeah, they are jerks," Kagome agreed. Sango and Ayame nodded as well. "Speaking of which, where are they? They should be back by now."

Elsewhere, at the nearby river, those jerks were just wrapping up their food expedition. Inuyasha, Miroku, and Koga all simultaneously sneezed just as they started back to camp with their catch.

"Ok, that was weird," remarked Inuyasha.

"Uh, yeah, it was," Miroku brushed off the strange phenomenon.

"Say, Miroku," Inuyasha inquired.


"Have you noticed that the girls really seem to have taken a liking to Spider-Man kinda quick-like?"

Miroku thought for a moment. "You know, now that you mention it, I have noticed that. Kagome especially."

Inuyasha growled. "That guy's got some nerve. I'm really gonna give that guy what-for the next time I see him."

"Yeah, me too," Koga added.

"Relax, guys," Miroku chided them. "I seriously doubt that Kagome likes him like that. In fact, I'm certain of it."

"Really?" asked Inuyasha. "What makes you say that?"

"Well," Miroku began to explain, "Although he's never shown us his face, or told us much about himself, I can tell that he's considerably older than we are. Probably somewhere between eight and ten years. You've nothing to fear from him. They wouldn't have that kind of relationship. Plus, he did mention that he was married."

"You may have a point, monk," Koga said, "but then what kind of relationship would they have?"

"Hmm," Miroku thought aloud. "You know, I'm not sure."

The boys decided to let it go for the moment, and continued back to camp with the fish they had caught. When they returned, they found the girls in deep conversation with Spider-Man. They were crowed around him, constantly bombarding him with personal questions. Judging from his body language, Spider-Man didn't seem all too thrilled with the idea.

"Come on, tell us about your first date with your wife," insisted Kagome.

"You know, I'm not sure about that," he replied shiftily.

"Why not?" asked Sango.

"Well, because . . ." he said. He was trapped. That is, until he saw that Inuyasha and the others had returned. "Hey! The guys are back!" He quickly stood up and rushed over to Inuyasha. "Here, let me help you with that," he said moving to take some off the fish Inuyasha had slung over his shoulder. As he did so, he leaned in to whisper to Inuyasha. "Thanks a ton, man. You don't know what you just saved me from."

Inuyasha laughed a little. "So that would make two you owe me then, right?"

Spidey groaned slightly. "Yeah, yeah. Laugh it up, fuzz ball."

The group went about preparing dinner, which consisted of the usual fish and pretty much nothing else. Almost miraculously, it more or less passed without any problems. Afterwards, the lot were sitting around the fire before they decided to turn in. During the conversation, Spider-Man turned to Kagome.

"So, I was wondering. When you guys go all-natural like this, is fish the only thing you eat?"

Kagome sighed. "Yeah, more or less."

Spidey sighed himself. "I was afraid of that. I miss cheeseburgers."

"Yeah, me too," Kagome agreed.

"And hot dogs. Did you know that Manhattan has the world's best hot dogs? I'm so hungry that at this point, I'd almost consider it worth the triple bypass I'd have to have later."

Kagome laughed a little.

"What on earth are you two talking about now?" Inuyasha grumbled.

"Oh, nothing about you, trust me," Spidey replied. He and Kagome shared another small chuckle.

Before Inuyasha could yell at them again, Ayame got everyone's attention by clearing her throat.

"You know, I've been thinking. And I've decided that I'd like to come with you guys on your journey."

Kagome and Sango smiled happily, while Kirara mewed with enthusiasm. Spider-Man, Shippo, and Miroku shrugged indifferently. Inuyasha and Koga, however, looked livid. Inuyasha was about to protest, but a single glare from Kagome silenced him instantly. Koga wasn't hampered by such a thing, and rose to his feet in anger.

"Are you nuts? You can't come with!" he shouted.

"Why not?" Ayame asked.

Koga hesitated for a moment. "Well . . . because . . . because the elders will be worried about you. You have obligations to the clan!"

Ayame huffed. "Like you have any right to lecture me about that. Besides, Gramps can handle things just fine by himself for a little while. It's more important that I be here with you guys."

"It's not just that!" Koga said uncomfortably.

"Then what?!"

"It's too dangerous! That's why! We're going after Naraku, an extremely powerful and evil demon! You could get hurt!"

Ayame stomped her foot down. A small but noticeable blush was visible on her face. "I don't care! We're going to share our lives one day, Koga! I want to be a part of this because it's something you want to do. Can't you understand that?"

"But . . ."

"Dude, just let it go," Spidey interrupted. "She's obviously made up her mind. She's coming. End of story."

"Spider-Man has a point, Koga," Miroku added. "Women are stubborn. Once they decided on something, no amount of reasoning change their minds."

"And what exactly do you mean by that?" asked an indignant Sango.

"Just look at the two of you. You're proof enough of that," said Inuyasha.

"What did you say?!" Kagome yelled.

"Did I stutter?!" Inuyasha shouted back.

And within seconds, yet another shouting match had started. With Inuyasha, Kagome, Miroku, Sango, Koga, and Ayame all simultaneously screaming their heads off, it was impossible to discern what any one person was saying. Spider-Man tried to tune out all that racket, but he wasn't having much luck. He sighed in exasperation.

"Their such children," said Shippo, who was perched on Spidey's shoulder and sucking on a lollipop.

Spidey buried his face in his hands. "Tell me about it. I am babysitting, aren't I?"

"You and me both," said Shippo.

Kirara mewed in agreement.