This was rattling around my computer for a long time before I decided it was finished. It's just a little moment that might occur sometime during the Inuyasha storyline.

Disclaimer: I do not claim ownership to any copyrighted, registered, patented, or otherwise legally claimed material.

A Small Step
by Aliryn

"I was looking for you! Where've you been!"

Kagome sighed and turned around to face the furious hanyou. "I was just out at the store for a minute, Inuyasha. I needed to get your precious ramen."

Inuyasha growled. "You don't need to be doing any such thing! You're supposed to be resting! Or did you somehow forget that you're injured!" He ran up to her and picked her off the sidewalk, snatching her crutches and the grocery bags from her grasp. "Don't be stupid, Kagome!"

Kagome glared, but knew she wouldn't be able to get away from him. "I am capable of doing things myself, you know!"

He glared back as he stomped toward the shrine. "What the hell are you talking about! You can't freaking walk on your own!"

"That's what the crutches are for, jerk, but you stole them!"

"I didn't steal nothing! They're right here!"

"You still won't let me walk! Taking the bags is one thing, but you don't need to carry me!"

"Why should you walk on those dumb things when I'm right here!"

"Because I'm not helpless, Inuyasha! I'd be perfectly capable of doing things on my own if you'd let me now and then!"

"Why do you want to do things the hard way! I'm trying to help you here!"

Kagome stopped just before yelling something else and stared at him over his shoulder. "And why would you do that?" she said a bit snappishly, hoping to get a candid answer from him.

" 'Cause I want to, okay! Is that allowed?"

"That depends on why you want to! You just don't want your shard detector out of commission for too long?"

"NO, stupid! It's 'cuz my shard detector is more than a freaking shard detector!"

"Then what is she!"

"I DON'T KNOW!" He stopped suddenly and glared back over his shoulder to where she was perched on his back and they somehow ended up very closely face-to-face. "You're doing this on purpose, aren't you! What the hell is it you're trying to get out of me!"

She stared back into his eyes fiercely, but not with hostility. "I just want to know the real reason, Inuyasha. I'm tired of feeling helpless, and I'm tired of feeling as if you're babying me for some lousy reason, which would make me even more helpless. I'm tired of being baggage, even if it's valuable baggage. But even if that's all I am after all, I want to know it." Her eyes were sparking now, but underneath the genuine fire was a pleading that Inuyasha couldn't recognise clearly. He stared silently for a moment before finally answering.

"I've tried to figure out what you are for a long time," he said quietly. "It's not something I can explain easily. But you're much more than a shard detector. I don't know why... or what it means... but I want to protect you. Is that something you can live with?"

Kagome's eyes lit up with both shock and happiness, and she smiled softly. "Yes. I can more than live with that."

Inuyasha shifted uncomfortably a bit and faced ahead again, resuming his trip to the shrine. "Yeah, well... don't go advertising it, okay?"

She giggled. "I won't say a thing. Don't know if I can hide being more happy, though."

He stopped again, so suddenly that she jumped a bit in surprise, and once again looked back over his shoulder. "It... makes that much of a difference to you? That... you'd act differently... all the time?"

Kagome leaned her forehead gently on his. "It means the world to me, Inuyasha... because... even if it's not such a big deal to you... you mean the world to me."

He stared at her for a moment in utter shock before slowly sliding his eyes shut, and eventually whispered, "Thank you... Kagome."

I hope you liked it!