Inuyasha would have given Kagome a rude reply, but he had already been 'osuwari'ed three times that day, and even he had his limits, sometimes.
It had become a very wet day, not raining precisely, but just sort of muggy and misty and muddy and overall miserable. Miroku, Sango, and Shippou were riding on Kirara, who was flying, and Kagome was riding on Inuyasha's back, but Inuyasha actually had to run through all the muck. And it was making him irritable.
"Inuyasha, we are going to stop soon, right? I tried asking nicely, okay? Some of the rest of us are tired—don't pretend you can't hear me – I'm practically shouting in your ear!"
Fuck. It felt as if she was shouting in his ear. He had just wanted to make good time toward that shard today, too. But then there was Shippou falling in the river. And Kagome dropping her backpack so that everything fell out and got muddy and had to be washed. And, okay, he'd sensed a youkai, but it had turned out to be a (relatively) harmless magpie that had simply wanted to steal all their shiny things. Miroku had ended up knocking it out with his staff. And after that the rain had gone from dripping to pouring and had only just let up half an hour ago…
Inuyasha felt Kagome's head thud down on his shoulder. Apparently, she had grown tired of trying to get him to respond. He was on the verge of sighing is relief when she rose up to lean more heavily on his shoulders. He nearly overbalanced.
Fuck it, he thought, that does it.
"Fine, bitch, we're fucking stopping," and with that Inuyasha jumped down from the sunset-gilded tree and dropped Kagome on her rear-end in the middle of a clearing. She landed with a satisfying thump. A thud and a crash (her book bag and bicycle, respectively) later, Inuyasha had bounded off into the trees again.
Kirara and the rest alit half a minute later to find Kagome still sitting in the middle of the clearing, tears leaking down the side of her face.
"An auspicious second day of our journey," said Miroku sarcastically. It earned him a grope-worthy conking from Sango, who went to comfort Kagome.
Shippou was already perched on Kagome's knee when Sango reached her. He'd flung his arms about her left one, and she was patting his head with her right.
"Kagome-chan," began Sango, "What did he do this time?"
"Oh, nothing really," said Kagome, "I was annoying him…sort of purposefully…and I guess he just got fed up. But I wasn't even meaning to the last time! I was just going to ask about where we were going – I don't even know what I was going to ask him. And he just dropped me on the ground…"
Sango awkwardly put an arm around Kagome's shoulders.
"Well, you know how bad his temper is…and the littlest things seem to get you two going," Sango missed the sharp look Kagome threw at her, "So he'll probably sulk at you for a while, huh?"
"Yeah…And he'll never apologize. I think the only time he ever told me he was sorry was when he broke my alarm clock," Sango blinked uncomprehendingly, but Kagome continued, sighing, "I suppose I shouldn't have been annoying him so. I didn't really mean to, but maybe if I apologize, he'll forget about it. I'm already stressed out enough with schoolwork and chasing after jewel shards and defeating the big bad evil dude, you know? I really don't need him to be grumpy to me on top of everything else."
Sango didn't exactly follow, but she nodded.
"Okay. I'll go find him, apologize, give him ramen, and everything will be fine, right?" Kagome asked brightly. Again, Sango just nodded. Kagome stood, and so did Sango.
"Hey, Shippou-chan, you think you can help Miroku-sama and Sango-chan while I go find Inuyasha?"
"Do you promise to give me ramen, too?"
Kagome's mind momentarily flashed to a memory of her mother asking her grandfather laughingly, "It's always a compromise with them, isn't it?" Kagome smiled.
"If you promise to take good care of them Shippou-chan, then yes, you may have a ramen. Okay, then, I'm going."
From across the clearing came Miroku's voice, "Alone, Kagome-sama? You ought to at least take your bow and arrows."
As Kagome complied with that wise advice, Sango turned on Miroku.
"Why, you eavesdropper!" Kagome heard as she neared the edge of the clearing.
Smiling slightly, she left them to their bickering.
It had been dusk when Inuyasha had dropped Kagome on her rump in the dirt, and now it was well into evening. This made it hard for Kagome to tell exactly where she was going, as everything had become sort of gray and blurred together as it does to the poor humans that lack keener eyesight. She hadn't started tripping on tree roots yet, but she thought that point wasn't far off. She'd called for Inuyasha a couple of times, but he hadn't answered, so she'd been trying to sense him by his youki.
Kagome knew that she felt – detected, whatever – different magical energies in different ways. The shikon jewel shards always appeared as bright flashes in her mind, similar to seeing stars. She had a harder time sensing youki; well, not necessarily sensing, but using what she sensed to tell her something about the youkai making it. She could tell if something was really strong, but that was about it. On top of that, she'd noticed that youki levels had a lot to with the emotional states of their owners. She could understand that. To her knowledge, her holy powers worked the same way. But the point was that Inuyasha was probably sulking, and in response, his youki would be sulking with him, clinging close to his body and hunching in upon itself. Probably at the top of a tree, too, she added, disgruntled.
She stopped walking and took a deep breath. As she exhaled, she tried to sense the youki in the area around her. It was always a sort of tingling up and down her spine. The feeling she associated with Inuyasha usually occurred at the base of her neck—there it was! Off to the left! Kagome was so happy about having found it that she totally overlooked the other tingles along her spine. Blithely, she started walking.
Five minutes later, the feeling of Inuyasha's youki had grown strong enough that she didn't have to concentrate to sense it. She was also getting little knots in her stomach and back, but those she attributed to nervousness. What was she going to say to him? Well, starting off with, "I'm sorry…"
"Inuyasha," Kagome called, and then called again. "Look, Inuyasha, I'm sorry. I'm really sorry. I know I was being a pain in the butt, but I didn't mean to make you upset. Please come down—"
"Upset!" Inuyasha had practically appeared out of nowhere and was now standing nose to nose with her – well, that had worked like magic, "Who the fuck says I'm upset, you stupid girl?"
"I…look, I said I'm sorry. Will you please come back and have some ramen?"
Inuyasha wasn't sidetracked at all.
"Trying to bribe me with ramen, now?"
"I am not trying to bribe you with anything," Kagome lied, "I'm sorry I made you annoyed, I didn't like being dropped on my ass, and I just wanted you to come back, okay, stupid!"
In hindsight, Inuyasha had realized that dropping her on her ass in that clearing probably hadn't been the best thing to do, and he could see she'd been crying, but, "You were fucking whining in my ears all day, and you say you didn't mean to annoy me? Fat chance—"
"Oh, come on, Inuyasha. It was late, we were all tired, and I was just teasing. I said I'm sorry."
All of a sudden Kagome feel such a strong wave of youki radiating evil that she could feel the bile rising in her throat. Inuyasha had already positioned himself in front of her, Tessaiga at the ready. Fifty meters away the bushes shook. The trees shivered in a malignant wind, and the fog near the ground seemed to crawl. A giant shape began to materialize out of the murk.
Its maw came first, gaping full of broken, shiny teeth, salivating what looked liked blood. Its snout was framed by long, gleaming tusks. Then its eyes, rolling back in its head as it gurgled and snorted. From Kagome's vantage point it almost looked as if it had thick, writhing fur, but then realized it was blood-colored like the evil worms on the boar god in Mononoke-hime. Another wave of nausea hit her, and she swallowed uneasily.
"Jewelllll….shardsssss," the boar grunt-hissed, foamy blood spilling from its mouth, "Give m-me the shardsss…."
"Bring it on, you filthy pig..." growled Inuyasha.
It'll probably be a while before the next update, as all that I've posted I actually had already written and was just tweaking it. So I'll work on it as much as possible, but I'm a very bad procrastinator (and so is my muse), so I can only tell you that the story will be updated, just not necessarily when.
I know dedications usually go at the top, but I'd like to thankall my reviewers, and Miko no Kaze and Meggiebeth especially for their lovely reviews of this story by dedicating this chapter to them. Thank you guys so much!