Disclaimer: If Romiko Takahashi ever gives Inu to me, you'll be the first to know, 'cause I'll rub it in everyone's faces. Hahahaha!

A/N: I know you're all dying for an update, so here's one of them at least. I will TRY to update soon, no guarantees. Read my note at the end. I hope you enjoy this chapter.

Last time: She knew what the pains were now. They were contractions! She was going into labor, in the middle of the rain, in the middle of a battle! She slid down to the trunk and tried to make herself conformable on the large roots.

A malicious laugh echoed off the trees and in the howling wind. "So, my pet thought he would betray his master."


Chapter 11 – Strength

Kagome felt her body go cold and it was not from the freezing rain either. She turned to face the owner of the voice as the two men paused in the struggle to see who had spoken. Neither combatant really needed to look, for their noses had already told them who it was.

The shadowy figure of Uenho emerged from the darkness. His black and red eyes glowed in the darkness. The imposter drew away Inu Yasha, his eyes wide. "Mmmmaster…?"

Uenho sneered. "Did you actually think you could betray me?"

The young man took a step back. "Well…I…uh…"

"Have you forgotten who saved you? Have you forgotten who you serve?" Uenho glared, his eyes flashing from black to red to black.

The imposter fell to his knees. "Please, Master, please forgive me."

Uenho's sneer grew once more. "Then do as your master commands, slay Inu Yasha. I have already promised you the woman after I am done with her."

The young man stood slowly. He uncertainly turned to look at Inu Yasha. Kagome could see the hesitation in his eyes. "You don't have to do this." Tears began to stream down her checks. "Please don't do this."

The imposter shook his head in confusion. He mumbled into the wind. "I just don't know…"

"Don't be an idiot!" Inu Yasha roared as he turned his attention back to Uenho. "If you kill me, Kagome dies too."

The young man's silver head swiveled sharply. "What?"

Inu Yasha glanced at him out the corner of his eye. "Are you stupid or something? We're mates. We're linked. If one of us dies, we both die."

The boy blinked at him in disbelief. Kagome panted softly as she spoke. "It's true." She watched him look her way and his eyes still seemed not believe what he was being told. 'He doesn't understand. He's like a child. Yes, that's it, he's just like a young child.' "Look." She pulled her kimono opened just enough that her mate mark could be seen. "Inu Yasha, show him yours." Inu Yasha grunted but obliged pulling open his haori to reveal the half moon with the single lightening bolt. Kagome continued to speak. "You see, we're connected."

Understanding finally filled his eyes as he saw the matching marks upon the two. He turned back to Uenho. "You lied to me? If he dies so does she."

Uenho didn't even bat an eye. "She'll live long enough for my purposes."

The young man snarled, flexing his claws in a mirror like image of Inu Yasha. "You bastard! I'll rip you apart!"

A small voice spoke from Uenho's shoulder. "My Lord, this one is no longer any use to you. Destroy him now." Both Inu Yasha and the imposter's white ears twitched forward to hear the voice over the storm still roaring above them.

"Who the hell is that?" Inu Yasha peered through the darkness at the tiny spider situated on the demon's shoulder. "A spider? You're taking orders from a spider?" He snorted. "That's pathetic."

Uenho seemed to ignore the comment as well as Inu Yasha all together. His attention was focused on the young man before him. "You worthless wretch, I never should have saved you from starvation and certain death."

"You only saved me to use me against your enemies just as the one that created me intended to do."

Uenho's fingers began to glow. "It no longer matters. You are no longer any use to me. You are therefore expendable!" He struck out with the glowing whip that seemed to appear from nowhere. The whip wrapped around the young man's neck and he was slung against a tree. The imposter cried out as he struck the tree with incredible force. His body went limp and he slid down to the settle at the trunk.

Uenho turned his attention now to Inu Yasha. "Now, it is your turn to die." His eyes glowed bright red with dark center as he took a step toward the inuhanyou and his mate.

Kagome scrunched her eyes closed against the increasing pain in her abdomen. Her finger nails dug into the tree she leaned against, but she suppressed the urge to cry out. If Inu Yasha knew she was in such pain he'd come to her and leave himself open to attack. No, she would not distract him from the demon that loomed so close, even though she could now feel a growing dampness beneath the many layers of her kimono that had nothing to do with pelting cold rain around her.

Inu Yasha moved to stand between the demon and his incapacitated mate. "You won't lay one hand on her."

Uenho sneered. "I need but kill only one of you." With that he swung the whip and Inu Yasha dodged it with far more skill than the imposter had.

"Feh, you're pathetic. Without the jewel you're nothing." He drew Tetsusaiga slowly. "You're dead." He charged the youkai with the fully transformed sword.

Uenho chuckled and he flicked the whip to wrap around the Tetsusaiga. Inu Yasha continued his charge, but with a flick of Uenho's whip he yanked the blade from him. It flew several yards away and stabbed the muddy earth. Inu Yasha snarled and threw his arm up to protect himself from the onslaught of attacks that followed. While Inu Yasha was busy with Uenho, the imposter lifted his head slowly.

The young man watched as his would-be victim defended the young woman that he himself prized. The miko looked like she was in pain and when she met his gaze, he was aware of the coppery scent of her blood. Was she injured? He turned his attention back to Uenho just as he flung Inu Yasha to the side with a vicious swipe of his whip. Inu Yasha crashed hard into the mud several yards away, unmoving. Now, the taiyoukai's attention was fixed on the unprotected miko.

"You have been a thorn in my side for too long. I no longer care if you are any use to me. Prepare yourself, wench!" A bolt of power flew from his fingers to strike her dead. Inu Yasha sat up in time to see the deadly attack. His horrified cry echoed off the trees, as in the same second Kagome called his name. But as the light faded, everyone gasped. The young man had flung himself into the path of the attack, protecting Kagome and receiving a searing hole in his chest.

He crumpled to his knees as Uenho cursed the boy's very existence. Inu Yasha stared at the man that looked so much like himself. A short while ago, he had been prepared to kill him for even laying a hand on his mate, but now he owed him her life. He stood and moved closer to Kagome, gathering Tetsusaiga as he went. Uenho would not have a second chance at such an attack, not as long as he breathed.

"I have had enough of this nonsense. You will all parish now." Uenho took a step toward the three, but paused as the small voice spoke up once more.

"I am disappointed Uenho. I thought you to be of more use than this. It seems I'll have to handle matters on my own." The tiny spider moved from Uenho's shoulder to the back of his neck. Without warning, the spider sunk his fangs into the taiyoukai and then his whole body. Uenho began to claw at his neck in a frenzied rage. But it was far too late, the spider was now deep inside his body. Uenho howled in panic and pain as he began to thrash about clawing at his face and chest.

The others watched with fascination as the demon finally collapsed against a tree. After a moment of silence that seemed to last an eternity, he rose slowly. His face was hidden in the darkness and by the demon's long hair which hung in wet stringy clumps. "Inu Yasha…."

Inu Yasha and Kagome gasped. Inu Yasha took a step back. "That voice… That's impossible! There is no way in hell he could have survived. Miroku sucked all the pieced up before his wind-tunnel sealed."

Kagome was stunned. She shook her head. "This can't be happening. How could Miroku's wind-tunnel have sealed in the first place if he wasn't dead."

But it was true, as the lightening crackled through the sky above it lit the demon's new features. There before them was no longer Uenho, but Naraku. He chuckled at the shocked expressions from the two that knew him so very well.

The imposter on the other hand, scoffed. "And just who the hell are you?"

Naraku stood tall. "I am the one that gave birth to you. And if I had truly been your master instead of Uenho, you never would have failed me. You have outlived your usefulness. Now, you shall suffer the same fate as Kagura." A tentacle struck out from the newly claimed body and impelled itself into the imposter's chest. Before anyone could react, Naraku had stolen his heart. The boy gagged as blood gushed from his chest and mouth. He collapsed to the forest floor.

"You bastard!" Inu Yasha's eyes flickered red. "How did you survive? And why did Miroku's wind-tunnel close if you weren't dead?"

Behind him Kagome let out a soft groan that she couldn't suppress. The baby would be there soon. The pain had increased and the urge to push was becoming stronger and stronger. Inu Yasha only allowed one ear to turn in her direction, although every instinct in his body wanted to be at her side. Naraku, however, was too dangerous and devious a foe to even turn his back on him for a moment.

The demon they believed to have been dead for so long, laughed. "You did nearly destroy me. That is most certainly true and for that I will make you suffer. But I was not completely destroyed. I returned to my original form, that of a tiny insignificant spider. I no longer had the power to maintain the curse I had set on the monk's family. I was powerless. And you and that wretched band of yours had made me that way. I was barely alive, so I had to bide my time and regain my strength." He absently looked down at his hands. "I thought this Uenho could possibly be a match for you and your bothersome brother Sesshomaru. But it seems I was mistaken. Even he could not accomplish with the Jewel of Four Souls, what I can accomplish by stealing his body."

"You're wrong." Everyone turned to look at Kagome. She was sweating, even in the cold rain. Her skin was pale and clammy. But her eyes held the truth. "You're no where near as strong as you once were. You're weak Naraku and without the Jewel, you'll never match up to Inu Yasha."

Inu Yasha turned his attention fully back to Naraku, a sneer creased his lips. "She's right. Your aura is no stronger than Uenho's was before you took his body. And without the Jewel you're nothing."

"Nothing am I?" Naraku released an onslaught of attacks. Tentacles, whips and powerful bolts of energy shot forth. But Inu Yasha was prepared this time. He countered the attacks with ease even in the soaked surface of the earth.

"It's time to die Naraku. And you won't be coming back this time." Inu Yasha surged forward with Tetsusaiga releasing a Wind Scar unlike any he had ever released before. The earth rumbled beneath them, trees were shredded to splinters and chunks, boulders sprang into the sky, and Naraku was turned to ash.

Kagome turned to her side and pulled the fire-rat kimono up to shield herself as the debris from the tremendous Wind Scar began to crash back to earth. She gritted her teeth as she was pelted by spears of wood and large rocks. And then something warm and hard wrapped around her. Kagome knew instantly that Inu Yasha was covering her with his own body. He was there, he was protecting her, he was safe, and he was breathing. Kagome clutched at him as best she could. Squeezing her eyes closed, she suppressed her own personal pains as the world came down around them.

After a few moments the forest was silent again, except for the steady rain. Inu Yasha sat back and pulled the kimono down to look at his mate. "Are you all right, Kagome?"

She nodded and he helped her back to a sitting position against the tree. The world was now filled with mist and dust, creating a thick fog that lay against the earth. Kagome clutched his hand. "Inu Yasha, the pup is coming."

His ears flattened. "What! You can't have him here!"

Kagome's eyes narrowed slightly. "I don't have a choice in the matter."

"Well, I'll take you back to Kaede's."

Kagome shook her head. "No, you don't understand. I can't move. He is coming now, whether you or I like it or not."

"But…but you can't… I mean…"

"You'll have to help me, Inu Yasha. Please." Her dark eyes pleaded with him and he broke.

He took a deep breath. "Tell me what to do."

"We need something clean and dry to wrap him in. Tear a piece of one of my kimonos, the one that's to closest to my body, it'll be the cleanest." Inu Yasha did as he was instructed and growled slightly at the sight of her blood on the inside of the kimono. Kagome took the cloth and tucked it beside her breast to keep it dry. "It'll have to do."

She closed her eyes and dug her fingers into the tree again as a waive of pain and the urge to push came once more. Inu Yasha stared at her, his pulse racing. 'I'm no midwife! I'm a hanyou! What the hell are we thinking!'

"Inu Yasha," Kagome panted between words, "I have to push. You have to catch him when he comes out."

Inu Yasha's eyes went as wide as saucers. "What!"

Kagome was in no mood to argue. "Inu Yasha!" She growled, little beads of sweat trickled down her face.

He swallowed once more. "O-okay." He positioned himself in front of her and lifted her kimono to look beneath it.

Kagome let out a sharp cry. "Can you see his head?"

It was dark and the moon and stars were hidden by the clouds and floating debris. Luckily, Inu Yasha had inherited wonderful night vision from his father. "Yes."

Kagome pushed and cried out once more as the pup's white haired head came forth. A few more moments and the newborn's body followed. Kagome collapsed against the tree with exhaustion. Inu Yasha stared at the tiny body that barely fit into his two palms. Kagome struggled to speak. "You have to…you have to make him cry."

Inu Yasha blinked. "What?"

"He has to take a breath. Slap his bottom, just a little." Kagome cracked an eye to watch her mate blink then nod. He gave the tiny infant a small smack on the bottom and it wailed like there was no tomorrow.

Inu Yasha flattened his ears and a pained expression crossed his face. "Did I hurt him?"

Kagome smiled slightly. "No, I'm sure you didn't. You just woke him up and made him breathe." She pulled the piece of cloth from inside her kimono and they wrapped the pup in it. Kagome held him low for the umbilical was still attached. "Inu Yasha tear two strips of cloth from my kimono and tie them here and here." She indicated two places along the cord. He did as he was told and then cut the cord between them with his claw.

Kagome finally sat back, leaning deeply into the tree. The rain began to fall a little harder as Inu Yasha climbed up to sit beside them. The two sheltered there new son between them, keeping him warm and dry. Inu Yasha kissed Kagome's brow. "I love you, Kagome."

She rested her head on his shoulder. "And I love you, Inu Yasha, with all that I am."

Not far away there was a soft gasp. Inu Yasha turned his head to look at the imposter where he lay on the ground. "So, you're still alive." The man's head rolled to the side to look at them, but he did not speak. "Tell me why? Why did you save Kagome?"

The answer was soft and barely audible over the rain. "She was kind to me." Blood dribbled from his lips and his eyes seemed to loose focus for a moment. It was true he was a demon and a full demon at that, but his heart had been destroyed with Naraku. The imposter's life was now measured in mere seconds.

Kagome lifted her head slightly to look at the man that lay dying before her. She couldn't help imagining him as Inu Yasha. How many times had he lain injured on the battlefield, so near to death? But this was different and surreal. No one would morn this man's death. No mate. No friends. No one would remember him. "What is your name?"

Two pairs of gold eyes turn to look at her. Inu Yasha watched her quietly but questioningly. But the other closed his eyes for a moment before responding. "I have no name."

Inu Yasha turned back to him with a scowl. "Neither that bastard Naraku nor Uenho would bother with something like that." Suddenly the imposter gagged and his chest heaved for a moment. Then he lie still, his head rolling away from them. Inu Yasha sighed. "He's gone."

Tears filled Kagome's eyes and she sobbed softly into her mate's shoulder. "He didn't deserve this. He didn't deserve to die like that either, without even a name."

Inu Yasha pulled her a little closer, tucking their pup deeper between them. He could do nothing more than comfort her. He didn't understand completely what she was feeling, but he knew the tenderness and depth of her heart.

In the cold they sat silently, the only sounds Kagome's soft sobs and the pitter patter of the rain.


A/N: Okay, so I know this chapter is short and it was also very long in the coming. But my life has been very chaotic. I feel like I'm on a rollercoaster that just won't stop! So my sister got married that was a good up- then I got engaged over Christmas, that was a great up! –my mother just got diagnosed with a brain tumor and she's having surgery on Monday, a very big down…. I hope you'll all be patient with me, thanks…