A/N: So, this is a purely fluffy one-shot. And yes, certain people will probably be a little OOC; I apologize. This was an idea that just would not leave my head until I wrote it down, or, as it were, typed it up. I hope you enjoy it; but even if you don't, please don't flame me; I'm very sensitive! Now then, you are free to read my story.

Thanks to a Nightmare

It was late, and the group had long since stopped for the night in a small, almost private, clearing that was surrounded by trees and bushes. The night was clear, and the moon was full. The forest seemed to have drifted off to a sleep of its own, which was fine with the travelers, as they'd been walking all day and desired nothing more than peaceful sleep.

They were gathered in a semi-circle around their makeshift fire to keep warm, but they were far enough away to avoid becoming too hot, or rolling into the flames. The monk, Miroku, was leaning against a tree, as he often did when they slept outside. His staff was propped up against his right thigh, and leaning on his left shoulder. His arms were crossed around it and his chin was nearly resting on his chest.

To his left lay Sango, the demon exterminator, Kirara, her pet two-tailed demon cat, and Shippo, the young fox demon child that often played with Kirara. The demon cat had transformed into her larger form, in order to provide comfort for her companions. Sango was tucked in against her side, and Shippo was laying between Sango's body and Kirara's front paws. All were sound asleep.

Across from Miroku, and therefore on Sango's left, Kagome was tucked comfortably in her sleeping bag, her back to the fire. She had intentionally placed her sleeping bag near the other tree they'd chosen to camp next to, because it was the one Inuyasha was supposed to be sleeping in.

Kagome was asleep, as were the others, but her dreams were not pleasant ones. She would shift, if only slighty, every few minutes; and occasionally, she would moan, as well. At this point, she had been sleeping fitfully for nearly two hours. And she showed no signs of waking up.

All was quiet for a few precious moments, and then she moaned louder and mumbled something in her sleep. The moment these noises had fallen from her lips, the half-demon sleeping in the tree awoke. His white canine ears twitched instinctively, and his golden eyes shifted downwards, towards the young priestess from the future. He knew instantly that she was still asleep; but his worry didn't cease with that knowledge. In this era, "asleep" didn't always mean "safe."

Quickly and silently, Inuyasha leapt from his spot in the tall tree and landed gracefully beside the young woman. A quick glance at their comrades told him that no one else had woken up yet; that was good. He returned his attention to Kagome, watching her silently for a few moments.

It didn't take long for her to moan once again, and she shifted some more, kicking the cover of her sleeping bag askew in the process. Then he heard her mumble something in her sleep. "Stop…please….Inuyasha…." His eyes widened. What the heck is she dreaming about? Should I wake her up? He decided to wait a bit longer, and see what happened. Near as he could tell, her scent was fine, so she was probably only having a nightmare, and not under attack.

Having made his decision, he scooted back until his back was resting against the trunk of the tree, and he removed the Tetsusaiga from his hip to make himself more comfortable. After watching Kagome for another 20 minutes or so, his eyes slowly drifted shut and he fell asleep once more.

Inuyasha's sleep did not last long. He had only been asleep a mere ten minutes before a loud, hauntingly-familiar shriek jerked him awake and alert. He noticed instantly that the others had also awoken, and that Kagome was sitting upright in her sleeping bag. He replaced his sword and moved towards her slowly at first, until she suddenly collapsed like a puppet cut from it's strings. His instincts took over and he moved quickly, barely catching her before her head hit the hard, unforgiving ground.

He heard footsteps and looked up, only to meet the worried eyes of Sango and Shippo, who was resting on her shoulder. Glancing behind her, Inuyasha saw Miroku watching intently, though he had not yet moved from his spot against the other tree. Inuyasha shifted his attention once more to Kagome as Sango spoke.

"Is she…alright? She looks as though she's still asleep, but that had to have been her that screamed a moment ago."

Inuyasha nodded solemnly. "It was her. And she is still asleep. She must be having one hell of a nightmare, to scream like that without waking up."

"Is it a good idea to let her continue to sleep?"

"Yeah, shouldn't we wake her up, or something?" Shippo declared, adding to Sango's concerned comment. Inuyasha scowled, but did not immediately respond.

"Inuyasha?" Miroku asked, his eyes focused, though he still hadn't risen to his feet. The half-dog-demon's ears twitched in acknowledgement, but he himself said nothing. He simply stared intently at the woman he still held in his arms.

After a long moment like this, Sango took another step forward and gently knelt down beside her still-sleeping friend, and across from the protective half-demon. Her voice was quiet, and her eyes never left her friend's face as she spoke. "Inuyasha, I think we should wake her. To be honest, I'm amazed that you haven't woken her already. Aren't you worried?"

Those words, that question, seemed to snap him out of whatever daze he'd been in. His ears flicked again and his eyes narrowed angrily as he cut a look towards the human woman. His voice matched the look in his eyes, though only in tone. The words were said softly, so as not to rudely awaken Kagome. "Of course I'm worried! And yes, we should probably wake her up, just be patient, dammit!"

"Hey! There's no need to snap at her, Inuyasha, she was only trying to help!" Shippo argued, glaring at his protector. Inuyasha ignored him and returned his attention to Kagome. Shippo got angry and said louder, "Don't just ignore me!"

"Shut up, Shippo!" Inuyasha barked lowly. Then he gently set Kagome down and extracted his arm. Which caused her to shift and moan once more. Assuming it was just a reaction to being forced into a new position, he ignored it, until a moment later when she took another sharp intake of breath and moaned again, almost as if she were in pain. By now, Miroku had gotten up and was standing over them all, watching silently, attempting to assess what was wrong.

Inuyasha grew more worried than he'd like to admit, and placed one clawed hand gently on her left shoulder and shook carefully. "Kagome! Wake up!" When she merely moaned in response, he grabbed her other shoulder as well and shook her a bit more, and raised his voice slightly as well. "C'mon, Kagome, wake up already!"

Kagome's eyes snapped open instantly and she flinched reflexively. Inuyasha, being sensitive to these things, released her immediately and moved a bit backwards to give her space. They watched in silence as she blinked, obviously taking in her surroundings as though she hadn't expected to be there. She looked around her, met everyone's gazes, and stopped when she spotted Inuyasha. She held his gaze a moment, and he caught the scent of salt; she was about to cry.

Then, suddenly, she rocketed herself forward and flew into Inuyasha's arms, clenching fistfuls of his haori and sobbing into his chest. No one spoke as they watched the scene unfold before them. Inuyasha hesitated barely an instant before wrapping his strong arms tightly around her and burying his face in her hair, inhaling her scent. He said nothing, knowing she would explain when she was able, and simply held her.

The others watched patiently, all the while realizing that Inuyasha was going to be in a foul mood, because he hated to see her cry. Kirara returned to her more peaceful form and joined them, sitting calmly beside Sango as though waiting for an explanation of what had just happened.

What the hell? Inuyasha thought, worry briefly filling him. To help it pass, he took another breath of Kagome's scent and tightened his grip on her reassuringly. Her sobs had lessened already, and her breathing was slowly returning to normal. But her grip had not eased; though he didn't mind.

After another minute or so, Kagome gave a final sniffle and pulled back slightly, so that she could see his face. Their eyes met, and she smiled half-heartedly. "Sorry, Inuyasha. I didn't mean to break down like that." She released one fistful of his haori to wipe her eyes, and gasped just a bit when one of Inuyasha's clawed hands reached out and wiped away the tear stains under her other eye.

"You don't have to apologize, y'know." He paused, not quite sure if he really wanted to bring it up or not, and said gently, "Wanna tell me what that was all about, though?"

He could literally feel her hesitation, and her head drooped, until she was staring at her hands, which were still pressed against Inuyasha's chest. She started when his index finger connected with the bottom of her chin and lightly tilted her head up, until she was once again eye-level with him. He said nothing, but his eyes spoke volumes of concern and curiosity that comforted her more than she could admit. She sighed, paused a moment to gather her thoughts, and then began with her story.

The morning came too quickly for Kagome, who felt as though she hadn't slept more than an hour, even though the night had obviously passed. She stretched, trying to awaken her muscles, when Inuyasha's irritated voice caught her attention.

"Well, it's about damned time you woke up, wench. Hurry up an' get ready, we're leaving."

This sparked an early morning anger and she turned, stood, and glared at him, hands on hips. "Well, if my sleeping in was such an inconvenience, then why didn't you wake me up earlier? And just so you know, I'm a bit tired, so don't go pushing me around today, I'm not in the mood."

"Not in the mood, huh? What, you tired of sleeping outside again?"

"Why are you picking a fight with me this morning! I'm not even up for three minutes, and you're jumping down my throat! Get off it, and give me five minutes, ok!"

"Fine. Five minutes. Starting now."

"Inuyasha, you're such a jerk sometimes!" Kagome snapped under her breath, kneeling down to roll up her sleeping bag.

"What was that, wench?"

"You heard me, dog-boy."

"Why don't ya say it to my face, then?" He growled, stomping over to her and pulling her to her feet.

"Ow! Inuyasha, that hurts! Quit being such a jerk; didn't you sleep well?"

"Keh. I don't sleep, remember?"

"Oh, give me a break, I've seen you sleep."

"I don't need as much as you weak humans, that's for sure."

"Inuyasha, you're getting on my nerves right now. Just…give me some space, ok?"

"Whatever, wench."

Kagome nearly growled under her breath, spun around, putting her back to him, and hissed "SIT, boy!" A loud thud followed almost immediately, and Kagome returned to her half-rolled-up sleeping bag.

They had been walking for nearly two hours, and tension in the group was high, as it always was when Kagome and Inuyasha were fighting. Inuyasha was walking at the back of the group, nearly two feet behind Miroku and Shippo. About five or six feet ahead of them were Sango, Kirara, and Kagome. The cat demon was riding on Sango's shoulder, much like Shippo was on Miroku's.

After Miroku sighed for the umpteenth time that morning, Inuyasha growled lowly and picked up his pace, quickly passing the irritating monk and fox demon and catching up to the women. Without a word he scooped Kagome into his arms and leapt into the trees ahead of the others. Sango dropped back to walk beside Miroku and they slowed their pace, knowing Inuyasha would keep up, but not wanting to be accused of spying.

Kagome reflexively wrapped her arms around Inuyasha's neck as they soared through the trees in silence, until Inuyasha finally stopped on a wide branch and sat down with her still safely in his arms. It was then that she remembered that she was angry with him.

"What do you think you're doing?"

"I need to talk to you. Will you shut up a minute?"

"Only if you ask nicely and stop being a jerk about it."

"Fine. Will you please stop biting my head off and listen for a second? I have something I need to say." He watched her intently while she pretended to ponder his request. After a moment or two, she slowly nodded her head.

"Ok. Talk."

"Look, I'm…sorry…about earlier. I didn't mean to hurt you." His voice was uncharacteristically soft and he was suddenly afraid to meet her eyes. He hesitantly looked back up a moment later when she sighed softly and relaxed in his embrace. When his eyes finally met hers, she smiled.

"I'll forgive you if you'll tell me why you were so touchy earlier." She paused, then said, "What's wrong, Inuyasha?"

He relaxed a bit, leaning back into the tree. "Sometime last night, I thought I caught wind of Naraku's scent. It was pretty far off, but I knew I smelled it."

"Then why didn't you wake us up so we could go after him?"

"It was probably a trap; Naraku's not usually that careless, remember? Besides…I didn't want to wake you. I knew you weren't sleeping well, and the scent faded pretty fast, anyway. And we're headin' in the right direction, so we'll get there."

"But…he could be gone by then."

"He already is gone, Kagome."

"Then why didn't you wake us up?"

"I already told you that! I didn't want to wake you up, ok? You were…peaceful. And I knew you were tired." Again, Inuyasha couldn't meet her gaze. His ears twitched when her voice caught in her throat, but still he refused to look into her eyes.

After a long, painful, moment of silence, Kagome spoke. "Inuyasha…thank you. And I do forgive you. …Inuyasha, why won't you look at me?" She reached up and, using her thumb and forefinger, gently guided his face towards hers once more.

"I didn't really hurt you, did I?" The worry in his voice, in his eyes, almost scared her. She shook her head.

"No. I'm fine, really." Then she paused again, watching him silently for a long moment before she snuggled close against him, her face comfortably buried in the crook of his neck. "Inuyasha…don't worry so much."

No other words were said as he tightened his grasp on her and returned the hug for a long while.

They'd been walking for most of the day, and it had been at least four hours since they'd eaten lunch. Dinner time was coming up, but first they had to find a suitable place to stop for the night. Kagome, Sango, and Miroku were deep into a conversation and walking a couple of paces behind Inuyasha, not paying attention. Until Sango walked into his back.

"Hey! Inuyasha, why'd you stop like that?" She asked curiously. At that same moment, she became aware of the demonic aura that he'd obviously already sensed. Her grip tightened on her Hiraikotsu defensively and Kirara jumped down from her shoulder.

"That demonic aura…it's huge!" Miroku stated, his eyes scanning the forest surrounding them. Shippo cowered a bit on his shoulder.

"Inuyasha, is it…?" Kagome asked, stepping closer to the half-demon. She saw his eyes narrow and his left hand twitched towards the mighty Tetsusaiga.

"Yeah. It's him alright." And then a strong, thick miasma materialized around them, and the buzzing of insects, along with the cackling of their arch-enemy, could be heard in the distance.

They'd been fighting for only about ten or fifteen minutes when Inuyasha went flying backwards, into a tree. The tree trunk snapped under the momentum of the assault and Inuyasha's limp body collapsed to the ground. Naraku hovered over him, laughing as he declared that Inuyasha's time had finally come. Then the villain raised his arm and a root shot forth, intending to pierce the unconscious dog-demon's heart. But the root never connected with it's target.

Seconds before the fatal blow, a pink light pierced through the root and it dissolved all the way back to it's base. Naraku howled in pain and fury and moved backwards quickly, narrowly avoiding another Sacred Arrow. He cursed the priestess who had come to Inuyasha's rescue and then the ground beneath her caved and she was suddenly trapped in a tangled mess of roots and vines. Her bow slipped from her grasp, falling uselessly onto the ground.

"I suppose you think I'm going to kill you now, correct?" Naraku sneered, having returned to his 'post' over Inuyasha, though he was speaking to Kagome.

"Go ahead and try it!" She spat, glaring daggers that the vile demon standing before her. The dangerous glint in his eyes scared her; she had a bad feeling about what was going to happen.

"Oh, I shall, indeed, kill you. But not yet. You see, as irritating as you are, you're nothing without Inuyasha by your side. And if he's dead, you'll be too distraught to fight properly. And then I'll send you to see him." And then Naraku laughed again, once more raising his now-re-grown arm and attempting to pierce Inuyasha's heart. Kagome screamed.

"Stop it, Naraku! Please don't kill Inuyasha!" When it didn't look like the villain intended to listen, she screamed louder. "STOP!" Naraku looked up for a split-second to grin confidently at her, and he felt his attack pierce the earth. But not Inuyasha.

Naraku returned his attention immediately to his intended victim, only to find him not where he was supposed to be. Then he heard the half-demon rip through the vines that had been holding Kagome captive, and spun around quickly to face them. "United once more, I see. How…sweet. I have an idea. How about I send you both to Hell together!"

"The only one goin' to Hell today is you, Naraku! Wind Scar!" Inuyasha countered, swinging his red Tetsusaiga at their enemy. A moment later, Kagome's Sacred Arrow pierced through the Wind Scar, increasing the power of the attack.

Not five minutes later, it looked as though the battle was won. Miroku and Sango, with a little help from Shippo, had effectively defeated Kagura, though Miroku had been forced to suck in some of Naraku's poisonous insects in the process. Naraku himself had disintegrated in the blast of the Wind Scar and the Sacred Arrow.

Kagome smiled to herself as she replaced her bow on her shoulder. Inuyasha sheathed the Tetsusaiga and stepped forward, heading towards the others, when a sound from behind caught his attention. A footstep. He glanced over his shoulder in time to hear Kagome whisper, "No, don't do it…!" And then she screamed.

He spun around and slashed at the attacker, realizing too late that it was Kohaku who had attacked Kagome. Though it was obvious that, this time, he truly had intended to kill her. Kohaku's gaze met his as his weapon dropped, forgotten, on the ground. Then his eyes drifted down towards the wound across his chest and then, after a moment's pause, he collapsed. First to his knees, and then forward, nearly landing on Kagome, who had quickly gotten up and was standing behind Inuyasha.

Sango's heartbroken cries reached both their ears simultaneously. Kagome's eyes held tears of their own, but she placed a hand on Inuyasha's shoulder nonetheless. He glanced at her over his shoulder, and she saw his eyes begin to bleed red. Her tears dried before they'd begun and she gasped audibly. "I…Inuyasha?"

He growled in response and spun, forcing her backwards. She collapsed, and attempted to scoot backwards when he reached out and yanked her to her feet. His blood-red eyes narrowed dangerously, and he said, "Where do you think you're going, human?"

"In…Inuyasha, it's me! Kagome! Don't you…don't you remember me?"

"What's to remember?" He said, almost tauntingly, before he threw her down and raised a clawed hand. She vaguely heard Sango and Miroku shouting her name behind her, but another voice, one that didn't quite belong, had caught her attention.

"C'mon, Kagome, wake up already!"

No one spoke as they digested Kagome's story. The dream, or nightmare, rather, was creepiest because it was so real. So possible. Sango had tears in her eyes, and Kagome was crying once again, but silently this time. Kirara went up to Kagome and rubbed gently against her, earning a scratch behind the ears, causing her to mew gratefully before returning to Sango. Kagome sniffled, trying to stop the tears that she knew weren't necessary, when Inuyasha's strong arms surrounded her again and once more crushed her to him.

"Kagome…you know I'd never hurt you, right?" He whispered into her ear, his voice strained. She nodded against his shoulder.

"Yes. I know that. It…it was just a bad dream, Inuyasha. You don't have to worry over it."

Inuyasha hesitated briefly before replying. "Kagome…last night, I did smell Naraku nearby. The only reason I didn't wake anybody up was because I knew you were tired. And I wanted to let you sleep."

Kagome gasped and pulled back, locking her eyes with Inuyasha's once more. He nodded, knowing what she was thinking. Her eyes widened and she brought one hand up to her mouth. "No. No, that can't happen. It can't!" And again she clung to Inuyasha as though her life depended on it, but not because she was crying. Because she was afraid. The scent of the fear that was emanating off of her was enough to drive Inuyasha mad. Literally. So, he began rubbing her back. The others gave him questioning looks and he quickly told them what he'd just told her. Silence again reigned the makeshift campsite as the others digested the possibility of Kagome's dream coming true, at least in some way.

Kagome was snapping her bag shut, having just finished putting all her things away, when Inuyasha knelt down beside her. She looked up curiously, wondering what he wanted, when he reached out and gently removed the bag from her grasp. She briefly worried that he was going to start sifting through it for some ramen, but the thoughts faded when he released it a moment later. Then he leaned forward, so that he could whisper in her ear without being overheard. "Come with me." Then he stood and began walking away.

Kagome sat there, blinking, for nearly ten full seconds before she finally remembered how to stand. Climbing to her feet, she quickly followed him, having to walk fast to keep up. She said nothing, though the curiosity inside of her was bubbling over.

They walked for about three minutes, until they were well away from the group. Then Inuyasha stopped and turned towards her. His face was calm, determined. Kagome smiled reflexively at him, unsure of what else to do.

"Kagome, there's something that I need to tell you. That I should have said a long time ago, but I couldn't find the words. And I want to apologize now, in case this doesn't come out right." He waited for her to acknowledge what he said before he continued. When she nodded reassuringly, he took a deep breath, and continued.

"For a while, I figured that if I ever got the nerve to say this, I'd do it after we defeated Naraku. But it's taking a while, and with the life we live…every day could be our last. So…I figure I should tell you now, when I've got the chance, an' not when I'm struggling for another breath." He paused again, to prepare himself for what he intended to say, and Kagome waited patiently. She knew him well enough to know that he wasn't good with words.

"Kagome, I…I love you. I have for a long time now." His voice was so quiet, she wasn't sure she'd even heard him right. But he wasn't looking at her anymore, and Kagome could almost swear he was blushing. And her heart wouldn't be beating so fast if she'd misheard him.

Tears of joy instantly welled up in her eyes, blurring her vision. But she knew where she was going, so it didn't matter. Even as he looked up, probably having smelled her tears, she jumped into his arms, throwing her arms tightly around his neck and burying her face in his chest. He instinctively wrapped his arms around her, holding her tight against him. Then he heard the words he'd been secretly longing to hear for nearly three years.

"I love you, too, Inuyasha. So much." She pulled back a bit, smiling happily up at him. And he smiled back at her, even as he wiped her drying tears away. Then, in a moment of instinct, he leaned forward and captured her lips with his for the first time. She replied instantly, leaning into the kiss and allowing him to deepen it.

After a moment or two, he nibbled gently on her lower lip, seeking entrance into her mouth. She complied, and his tongue slid past the barrier of her lush lips, exploring her mouth eagerly. He growled with contentment when her tongue lightly traced over his fangs teasingly.

Another minute or so passed, and they were forced to part, so Inuyasha instinctively buried his nose in the crook of her neck, inhaling deeply. Kagome tilted her head to the side, just as his tongue darted out and licked the juncture of her neck and shoulder. She gasped in surprised pleasure, and he began gently licking and nibbling his way up the side of her neck, where he sucked gently at the juncture between her jaw and neck. Then he slowly continued his ministrations along her jaw line until he was on the other side of her neck, where he leaned up and nibbled teasingly at her earlobe.

After a moment more of that, he pulled back, forcing himself to stop before he went too far. He caught Kagome's satisfied gaze and couldn't resist catching her lips for another kiss. This time, her hands wound their way up to his ears and began gently rubbing and scratching. Once again, he growled deep in his chest, and it came out almost like a purr. She giggled as they parted once more and he cocked an eyebrow at her curiously.

"You purred."

"I did not."

"Oh? Then what do you call it?"

"That was a contented growl. Dogs don't purr." Kagome rolled her eyes.

"If you say so. I liked it, anyway." And then she rested her head on his shoulder, not wanting to break their embrace just yet. He didn't seem to mind, because he tightened his hold ever-so-slightly and buried his nose in her hair.

"Did I ever tell you how much I like your scent?" He mumbled.

"You said you liked it once. That was about three years ago, I think. To be honest, I thought maybe you said it because you were still ill from the poison."

Still buried in her hair, Inuyasha scoffed. "No, I meant it. I just never would've said it if it hadn't been for that damn spider head." Then he pulled back a bit and kissed her passionately once more, knowing they'd have to return to the others soon. But one thing was certain: not even Naraku could ruin his day. Kagome was his, and when the opportunity presented itself, he'd make it official. Something told him that Kagome wouldn't mind.



"I love you."

Inuyasha smirked cockily. "Didn't we already cover that?"

Kagome smiled. "Yes. But why not say it again, anyway? It's true, after all."

Inuyasha shrugged. "Well, I love you, too, Kagome. And I'm not planning on ever letting you forget it."

The End

A/N: Well? Please review. And if you really didn't like it, and you just have to say something…then please try to be gentle about it. That's all I ask. And thanks for reading.