Hello again, everyone! Here's chapter two! I'm working hard on this fic, so I hope you enjoy!
Look, I'm responding to reviews! Yay!
Ryguy5387 - Oh yes, another fun-filled story for sure. Unfortunately, I stopped using present tense for now. It might make a return later in the story, but for now… my apologies.
Myou-Bakura – Yes, Koga would have dealt the death blow. I'm emphasizing him as he was introduced – impulsive and instinctive, as well as a little dull. A creature running on sheer instincts is a frightening thing.
Kagome hardly slept that night. Her eyes gazed, unseeing, at the cave wall. She had refused to sleep on the furs that Koga had provided, preferring to sleep in her sleeping bag – alone – while she still could. She knew from the look in Koga's eyes that he would not always allow this of his mate, and huddled down deeper into the bag.
She was a demon's mate now, or at least she soon would be. She had left Inu-yasha to save his life, but it didn't make her heart hurt any less. Her thoughts tortured her. What if she'd made the wrong decision? Would he ever forgive her for going with Koga? She knew the answer to that, though. Of course not, he would've wanted to die before she ever did that. But…
But she just couldn't let him die. She could not. Not after everything they'd been through. Now at least he had his life. Right?
But it wasn't that simple, something told her. What if she never saw him again? What if she was never allowed to leave this cave, and never got any news of him? …what if he'd died already, and she had no way of knowing? She spent half the night forcing away the image of his bloody, broken body.
Dawn came while Kagome's mind drifted between sleep and wakefulness, not fully in either realm. It was not until one of the pack members tried to "respectfully" wake her that her mind returned to the physical world, aided by almost-gentle prodding.
"Sister? Sister, the sun is risen. Sister?"
He slunk away as she began to stir at last. Kagome sat up, but kept her sleeping bag wrapped around her shoulders, more for comfort than warmth. There was no confusion; she knew exactly where she was. No dreams had taken her away from the nightmare.
She reached down and picked up the still-sleeping firecat that was curled up at her feet, and cuddled the tiny creature close to her. She hid her eyes in Kirara's fur, praying that by some magic she would look up and be back on the road with Inu-yasha and her friends. She imagined the campfire's smell, the soft morning clatterings, Inu-yasha's comforting presence hovering somewhere nearby. The soft light of the cave could be gentle pre-dawn light. The waterfall faded in her ear, till it was nothing but the river where Sango was washing her face and getting fresh water for the day's travels. Her sleeping bag no longer rested on furs, but dense grass that would smell sweet if her nose wasn't tucked in Kirara's fur. She would pretend to be asleep for just a while longer, just until Inu-yasha woke her. Any moment now, an "oi!" would come her way, and she would pretend to wake at his call. But until then, she and Kirara would stay here for just a few more moments…
"Kagome!" Awareness came suddenly, and she felt herself spin back into reality. She wasn't laying down, she was still sitting up and holding Kirara. The waterfall's roar reestablished itself, and all the happy familiars fled, leaving a warm, gaping hole where her heart was beating.
"Good morning, Mate," he said, patting the top of her sleeping bag. Kagome forced herself not to flinch away from his touch. A voice in her head was telling her to respond, that she needed to try and adjust to her new role, but the words were feeble and without conviction. Kirara mewed her discomfort as Kagome unknowingly tightened her embrace. Kagome lessened her hold, but didn't let go.
"G… good morning, Koga," she managed, her throat taut from a night of suppressed sobs.
"We're going hunting this morning. We have to travel farther than normal, since we need to get skins to make you proper clothing as well as food. We should be back around early afternoon." She only nodded, unable to respond. Koga tried to engage her further. "You can explore the area, if you'd like. You're well protected here, now that the harpies are gone, so don't be afraid. You can go where you like."
Kagome nodded again, but didn't meet his eyes. Koga, not knowing what to do with his dejected mate, simply turned and nodded to the other two males. Just as they were about to leave, Kagome yelled for Koga to wait.
"Koga, please… no humans, okay?"
"Don't worry Kagome, I'll bring you something else." But Kagome shook her head.
"No humans, Koga. Please no."
Koga watched her for a few moments, before finally nodding in consent. "You'll need to give us a little more time, in that case. But don't worry, we'll return as soon as we can."
Kagome only nodded, then returned to stroking Kirara's head. Three splashes told her that the males had left, and happy yips outside told her where the wolf portion of the pack was. She sat in her sleeping bag, willing herself to try to adjust, to try to be happy, to try and force the image of Inu-yasha from her mind… Tears stung her eyes, but didn't fall, and she fought the lump that was quickly rising in her throat. Kagome had never been so distraught in her life. It was like the normal, natural Kagome was turned off, and her mind was left in a turmoil of other voices that strained for dominance. Part of her screamed to go to him, that he needed her. Part of her reasoned back that she could do little to help him anyways, and that she'd done the best she could by going with Koga. Part of her simply despaired, and told her to weep. And part of her said that her life simply could not go on without him, and that even if she couldn't help him, she needed him. And as an hour passed, that voice grew steadily louder.
About an hour later, Kagome built up her will enough to stand up. The cave was cold and lonely, and she could see sunlight coming through the waterfall. Kagome watched the waters for a few minutes with uneasy eyes, then turned to Kirara, who was watching her from the floor.
"Do you think it's warm enough out there to dry us off if we go out?" she asked the little cat with a hollow cheeriness. Kirara mewed in response. "I think so too. Besides, the fresh air will probably feel good, don't you think?"
She reached out and touched her fingertips to the running water. The water was freezing, icy even, and it splashed across her hand as she withdrew her fingers. No matter what Koga told her, she knew crossing this would be betraying him. The water was a barrier between her and the outside world, and yet it was so much more. It was the cold that kept her from the sun, the wall that kept her from the air. It was the boundary of her new home. It was the glass wall between her and Inu-yasha. It was her word to Koga. She touched her fingers to the water again, eyes clouded.
Moments later, Kagome was shivering on the other side, trying to return warmth to her body. She couldn't shake the feeling that she wasn't just shivering from the cold. But even as she rubbed her arms frantically, she was checking the position of the sun.
"Koga and the others won't be back for a couple of hours, but…" she muttered to herself, distress evident in her voice. "Kirara…?" Kagome turned to the cat, indecision in her eyes. The little cat met her eyes, nodded, then transformed. That was all Kagome needed. "Right. Lets go."
She pulled herself onto the giant cat, and soon they were soaring into the sky. Kagome shivered, her wet clothing instantly frozen by the winds. She pulled herself closer to Kirara's fur, trying to get away from the wind, but also trying to justify her breach of Koga's trust. He had said she could go where she liked. 'But you know he didn't mean like this…'
But deep down, she knew this had been inevitable, perhaps even why Sango had sent Kirara to her. She had to see him. She had to know that he'd be okay. Now at least she had purpose, a mission. Muscles in her neck and shoulders unconsciously relaxed as she gained confidence in her decision. One thought haunted her mind: she knew she'd never forgive herself if he died. But then again, maybe even if he didn't.
Tears were whipped from her face by the winds, and Kagome pulled herself closer to the firecat as the village came into view and they began to descend.
Koga looked up from skinning his latest catch. He wanted to bring Kagome her new clothing, completely done, as a gift. Then she could take over, as it was women's work to make the clothes. But just this once, as a mating gift…
"The human girl! She's gone!"
Before the unfortunate underling could blink, Koga had him by the throat.
"I went to take her some food like you commanded, and she wasn't there!"
"Were there signs of a struggle? Blood? Was that dog's scent there?"
The pelt-clad man cringed away from his leader. "No, nothing. It seems she left on the firecat. Beyond that…"
"Damn." Koga didn't wait to hear more. He took off, leaving his two companions choking in his dust before they collected the pack and began to follow him as fast as they could. Koga didn't spare them another thought – he knew exactly where he'd find his mate. She'd run away. All happy thoughts of their future life were suddenly replaced by snarling territorial instincts. He wasn't going to let her go that easily. Not by any means. He'd drag her back, by her hair if he had to, but she would be his.