Chapter 16


The gate slid open smoothly when she keyed the passcode in to the little keypad. Kagome hesitated, gazing past the open gate at the leaf-strewn and cracked asphalt driveway. The day was almost done; the sun was a few scant degrees above the horizon and the road was in deep shadow.

Kagome wondered if she was intruding.

Nine days ago, he was sitting in my bathtub contemplating slashing his wrists. And he was serious enough about it to cut himself and to sit there until the water ran ice cold and not even notice.

Grimly, Kagome shook her head. Regardless of his wants she couldn't leave him alone anymore. If he ordered her away, she'd go -- heartbroken, but she'd go.

He's not testing me. Inuyasha doesn't think that way. This isn't a game he's playing, 'let's see if she'll come to me' ...

She was intruding. She knew it.

And if he's just too busy for me ... no, that's not it. He doesn't have a job, I'm a bit fuzzy about what he actually does for a living, but I know he doesn't have a day job. He'd have mentioned that.

She put her car into gear and rolled through the gate. It slid smoothly shut behind her, and she headed up the narrow, steep road to his house.

His home was dark and quiet. The sun, now touching the horizon, cast strong horizontal shadows across the old territorial house, and long golden sunbeams through the trees. She parked next to a dust and cobweb covered Jeep and stepped out, her boots crunching on the eroding gravel-covered asphalt. If Inuyasha was around, he'd surely heard her coming, but the door didn't open and no white-haired hanyou appeared.

If he doesn't want me to find him, I won't, she knew.

She walked up to the door, pulled the screen door open, and knocked. No one answered. She stood in silence for a long, long moment. If he was inside, she didn't need to knock twice. She wondered if she should be pushier, go inside -- was he sitting in a dark cold room somewhere, feeling terrible? Damnit.

For a long moment, she hesitated in indecision.

A memory of blood and tears spurred her to try the knob. It was locked.

Maybe the back door ... the house had a wrap-around porch, so she simply walked around two corners to the kitchen door. It, too, was locked tight.

Had he left town? Or ... a bad thought occurred ... for all that he'd been a hero, the Slayers wouldn't soon forgive him his crimes. Or lose their fear of him. Had they done something to him when she wasn't around to witness it? Giles didn't speak for all of them. All it took was one person with a grudge and a bit of luck or the right magical whammy -- Inuyasha was tough, but not invulnerable.

A gust of wind whistled across the ridge and swirled under the eaves of the house. It smelled of smoke, and she turned, wondering if there was another house she hadn't seen. A fireplace, perhaps? It was cool enough, inasmuch as southern California ever got cold.

The smoke was coming from just below the level of the ridge, not two hundred feet away. She could see it curling up, just a faint clue that she wasn't alone. She walked towards it, following a path worn amid the native vegetation.

When she saw the back of his head, she breathed a sigh of relief. She'd been holding her breath and hadn't even realized it. Inuyasha was seated in a very familiar pose before a fire pit, shoulders hunched, fists resting on the ground between his feet, wind tugging at his long white hair. He stared out at the sunset, motionless. He was wearing jeans and a windbreaker, but Tessaiga was in his lap, and she saw a whetstone and oil on the ground beside him.


No answer.

"I'm sorry for intruding."

"Gave you the combination to the gate, didn't I?" His words were a little abrupt -- he didn't sound angry, or even annoyed, just somehow nervous. In a softer tone of voice, and with a glance over his shoulder, he added, "Kagome, you're always welcome here."

She smiled faintly, encouraged. That was a friendlier greeting than she'd expected. She sat down next to him, a safe few feet away. "You're missing her again. I know I'll always be ... second ... maybe third ... in your heart, Inuyasha. But I want ... I want you in my life. I couldn't stay away any more."

He gave her a another look, this one startled, with his amber eyes gone wide. Then those remarkable eyes narrowed and he said, "Keh. Settle for third best, would you? You deserve better than that."

"Yeah. I do!" She couldn't get a hint of anger of her voice. She swallowed down a lump and said, "But I'm not going to get that, am I? You haven't been to see me once. So I'll settle for what I can have. For whatever you're willing to give me."

He was silent, looking at her with narrowed eyes. He looked angry at her. "Have some pride, woman. I know you better than that. You're nobody's bitch."

"Inuyasha," she looked down at her hands and refusing to rise to the bait -- though it took some effort not to respond to his tone of voice with hot words of her own. He sounded disgusted with her. "I worry about you. You're all alone up here. Shippou said you're not answering his calls either. You need people."

A gentle hand touched her hair, clawed nails combing through her curls. She looked up to see that he'd moved closer -- he was kneeling right next to her, looking at her with an oddly intense expression. He shook his head, urgently. "Kagome, don't do this. Not to yourself ... not to me."

"What else would you have me do, Inuyasha?" She said, bitterly. "I didn't devote the last three years of my life to finding you only to walk away now that I know you're alive, but hurting so very bad. I'm here for you, Inuyasha. In whatever way you want. You want me to go back to just being your best friend? I'll do it. You want more? I'll do that too. Whatever you want. But I'm not going to let you push me away."

It felt like her heart was breaking as she said that. She'd slept with him ... when she'd thought he was going to die. Deep down, she'd known they wouldn't be able to break that spell. She'd thought she was saying goodbye -- desperation had pushed her way past a point she normally would have gone. Now, he would live; they had ample time in front of them. But what had been simple and clear then -- make love to him while she still had a chance -- had suddenly complicated matters greatly.

She wanted to be his lover. And she wanted his love to match. It hurt to grovel, to beg, knowing she might just have to accept a few scraps of his affection when she wanted a full-course meal. She'd never thought she would stoop this low. But she'd given him her heart, and she didn't think there was any way to take it back. What was she supposed to do, just walk away?

Walking away would hurt worse even than this. Than him just ... ignoring ... her.

And ... and she was worried about him, about his state of mind. She could never forgive herself if she let her pride get in the way and something horrible happened later. If she wasn't at his side, she couldn't protect him.

To her amazement, he didn't say anything -- he just dropped his hand to her shoulders, and then suddenly wrapped both arms around her and pulled her into a tight hug. Only after several moments of holding her close, during which she was heartily confused, he whispered one of those rare but heartfelt apologies. "Kagome, I'm sorry for making you think you needed to beg to have me. I just wanted some time by myself. I needed to sort a few things out and take care of some stuff."

"Don't send me away. Please."

His grip tightened on her. "Don't beg, damnit. Get mad at me. Throw things at me. 'Sit' me. Stomp home and swear you'll never speak to me again. I don't ... I don't want this Kagome. I want my spunky, hot-headed, funny, naive, kind-hearted Kagome. The Kagome who tells me off and plants my face in the dirt is the Kagome I love."

"Love?" She sat back, hearing that single word only belatedly. He'd said it before, but still ...

He pressed her forehead against hers. "Keh. Love."

"But ... you didn't come ..." Had he really just said he loved her? It had been casual, but all the more honest for that. "I thought maybe you were thinking about Amelia ... that you weren't ready for us ... that you didn't know how to tell me that you wanted me to back off ..."

He sighed and let her go, though he didn't move away. "Kagome, I will always love Amelia. Loving you ... feels like I'm betraying her, it does, and I won't lie to you about that. For four and a half centuries I never looked at another woman. I never even thought about another woman. But she's gone. And I'm still here. And my heart says it wants you so very badly."

He folded his arms and stared at the fire. "I want to move on, Kagome. I've been sitting here trying to say goodbye to centuries of my life so I can move on with you in my future. It's not exactly easy. I was hoping to have a little more time before you showed up. Figured you would, if I didn't go to you. You always do."

"Oh. If you want, I can go ..."

"No! Don't go. You're here now. Fuck it, I'm so damned confused."

"Me too!" She said with a laugh. "Fancy that. Inuyasha confuses Kagome. Like that hasn't ever happened before."

"I think Amelia ... I think she'd understand." He didn't sound sure about that, and he picked a twig up off the ground and flicked it into the fire. "But she's dead. She doesn't get a vote either way now. And I want to do this right with you, Kagome."

She suddenly felt like a complete idiot. "Why didn't you say something to me? I was so worried about you ..."

"Wanted time alone to come to terms with things. Still not sure if I'm even close yet. Might not be for a long while. You'll have to bear with me ... uh, yell at me if I'm being an idiot, don't think you ever have to grovel. It doesn't suit you and I don't like it." He flicked another twig at the fire. "I wanted time to think how to do this right. Wanted time to do a bit of shopping too. "

"Shopping?" Now she was completely befuddled.

"Keh. Shopping." He scratched his head, "Called your mom yesterday morning, too. She screamed in my ear when I told her who I was. I think I'm still deaf."

"... called my mom?" Why in the world had he called her mom?

He reached into his pocket and produced a little velvet box. With a rueful, lopsided grin that bared one fang, he said, "I didn't have a clue what your ring size was. Your mother deafened my other ear when I told her why I was calling her. I still can't believe she approves of me."

"... what?" She stared stupidly at him. She was having difficulty processing this conversation. That little box wasn't what she thought it was, was it? For her?

"Do you want to do this right?" He asked, earnestly. "Marry me? Because want that. A lot."

"Inuyasha ..." She closed her eyes. Opened them. He was still sitting there, still holding a jewelry box. It was a grey box, and she recognized the logo of one of the more expensive jewelry stores in town. He hadn't "gone shopping" at the dollar store, that was for sure ... The evening wind tousled his hair, and he impatiently brushed it out of his eyes and waited, also impatiently by the way he was fidgeting, for her response. He'd mentioned doing something with his finances. Had he needed to raise money for this?


He fumbled the box open with his claws, revealing a rather tasteful engagement ring -- a simple gold band, one rather nice sized diamond set into it. Eyes not too many shades different from that gold searched her face. "Well?"

"Uh. Why ... why are you asking me now?" They'd only been back together for ten days.

"Because I want you to know how I feel." His response was earnest, and something she'd never expected to hear from her hanyou. "I want to spend the rest of your life with you. And I wanted you to know that you're second best to no one. It is possible to love more than one person in a lifetime, Kagome. What matters is who you chose to be loyal to." He lowered his head, then looked up at her.

She took the little box from his fingers. Her hands were shaking so bad she nearly dropped it, and he caught them with his and steadied her. And then he smirked, and she glared, and he grinned broader, and then she giggled. Because that smirk was so very Inuyasha. He'd managed to completely upend her entire worldview with a pretty bit of jewelry and he was proud of it.

Somehow, she managed to extract the ring from the box and try it on. She held it up to the last glow of the dying sunrise. It made her hand look dainty, girly, despite the calluses from long hours of archery practice and her chewed-on fingernails. It was the most beautiful ring she'd ever seen, and so utterly unexpected. Inuyasha had asked her to marry him.

Belatedly, she realized that asking the question had to have been very difficult for him. If she said no, it would hurt him quite a bit.

Oh. Right. An answer. She laughed suddenly, feeling giddy and light. "Yes! Oh, yes!"

He sat back, scratched his head, and said ruefully, "Oi, woman, you had me worried there fore a minute."

"Inuyasha, you just asked me to marry you." She said, in amazement. Awe. Never in a million years had she expected this.

"Did I? Oh, crap, I didn't mean to. Here, give that back!" He reached for her hand.

"Don't even think about it, dog-boy." She held her hand beyond his reach and glared. "Try it and I'll 'sit' you!"

He grinned, lunged forward, caught her arm at the elbow, and then instead of removing the ring as he was jokingly threatening, he pulled her hand to his mouth and kissed her fingers. And he studied her for a reaction, eyes a little wary, a little frightened.

She pulled her fingers free and slid both arms around his neck. His hands dropped to her waist and he pulled her into his lap, and then they kissed. After several minutes, he came up for air and said a bit shyly, "Would you like to go inside? I actually cleaned my bedroom yesterday. And there's food -- I can feed you. Make you dinner. It's not ramen, I promise."

She giggled suddenly, resting her forehead against his cheek. He was babbling; he sounded suddenly as nervous as she felt. They'd taken a huge step, she wasn't sure if either of them were actually ready for that level of commitment. "Food would be good. I'm not sure ... maybe bedroom later."

"Tonight?" He said, sounding eager. His eyes were sparkling with amusement and hope.

And she knew he wanted her. The thought made her wildly nervous. The last time had been under very different circumstances. It almost felt like a first time all over again.

"I ..." She hesitated, wondering if she could live up to his expectations. He'd had four hundred and fifty years of experience. She'd had ... once.

"Or not." He mumbled, looking away.

"Inuyasha ..."

"If you really want to wait ..." He sounded insecure, scared. He suddenly pulled her into a fierce, tight hug -- it wasn't the slightest bit sexual, just intensely emotional. "Kagome, we can wait. It's okay."

She snorted. "Wait? You have to be crazy, dog-boy. I want you."

"Me too." The smirk was back. "Get up. Let's go inside. Cold out here."

"Hold on a second," she said, and impulsively reached for the rosary. If he was going to commit to her on this level, she figured it was past time to remove it. She wasn't really thinking, just reacting. It had been put on him to protect her from his claws, a long time in the past; there was obviously no need for that now.

He caught her hand before she could touch it. He didn't seem surprised by her gesture at all. With dignity, he said, "No, Kagome."

"But ..."

"No." He sighed and kissed her fingers. Matter of factly, he said, "We both know what I am and what I can do. I'd never hurt you -- but, best it stay on me. Somebody should hold my leash. I'm just very glad it's you."

Twelve girls, she remembered. That would haunt Inuyasha. The rosary would be a comfort to him, where once it had been a shackle. Now she understood, and she nodded simple acceptance of his wish to remain bound when once upon a time he'd clamored for his freedom.


Much later, she sat on the steps of his house, staring out over the city -- Inuyasha, inside, was doing dishes and not letting her help. He'd grumped at her, "This first night here, you're my guest. Tomorrow, you can do the dishes after breakfast if you want."

They'd touched over dinner -- fingers to fingers, toes under the table, glances that met and smoldered. That promised bedroom had better come soon, she thought; anticipation and nervousness warred in her stomach. Her stomach churned with butterflies, her dinner sitting uneasily. She would make love with him. And in the morning, and for a very long time to come, he'd be there with her.

Idly, she wondered if she'd give up her apartment. It would be a long drive from his house to school, but she didn't want to live apart from him. Maybe during the week he could move in with her ... his house was far nicer than her tiny one bedroom, though. Maybe the drive would be worth it.

And she'd probably kill him within a month if they tried to live in her apartment together. Kagome had no illusions about Inuyasha's ability to be annoying, abrasive, and infuriating when he was in the right (or wrong) temper. Under the best of circumstances, he was moody. It was just simply who he was.

She touched the ring. The gold was warmed by her skin, the diamond rough. She didn't normally wear much jewelry, and it felt weird to have a ring on at all. Much less Inuyasha's ring ...

In all the time she'd known him, she'd never pictured him proposing to her, at least not seriously -- though she could confess to childish daydreams occasionally. She'd even doodled a few hearts with their names intertwined in the margins of her school notes. But seriously? Never.

However, given his rather formidable level of loyalty on top of a vulnerability and insecurity that was so long-standing it seemed welded to his soul, it made a sort of sense. He wanted a commitment from her, a symbolic promise never to leave himAnd now, in this modern world, he had the confidence to ask for it -- and the sense of self worth to believe he was deserving of such a promise from her.

His bare feet padded across the creaky deck behind her. He sat down, wiping his hands on a towel, and said, "I've always loved the view up here. It's why we bought this land. You know it was considered practically worthless when we purchased it?"

"Mm. That was a long time ago." California real estate prices had been frightening since prehistoric times.

He leaned forward, clasped his hands between his knees, and eyed her sideways. "Kagome, there's one thing that I don't understand."


"You've been searching for me for three years. Shippou didn't tell you I was alive; I asked him. How did you know?" He sounded only curious.

"I got a letter."

"From who?"

"I don't know. That's the weirdest thing. It wasn't signed, and it wasn't very specific. Here ..." She fished in her jacket pocket, pulled it out, and handed the envelope and its contents to him.

He gave the photograph a hard look and then he frowned sharply before opening the letter. Then, with a sudden swift move, he sat bolt upright. Several times, his eyes scanned those few sentences.

"What is it?" She asked. His expression was strange. "Do you know who sent it?"

He sniffed the letter. "The lawyer that handles my finances sent it. He has the worst cologne you've ever smelled; I can still detect it. The man positively reeked. The letter ... Kagome, the letter was written by Amelia. It's her handwriting."

"But she's dead!"

"Yes, Kagome, Amelia is dead," he replied with sarcasm.

"So how did that get mailed to me?" A very bad thought briefly crossed her mind; she dismissed it. If it were true, she'd kill herself now and save all three of them the grief and angst. That would be just too many coincidences for one lifetime ... one undead girlfriend complicating their lives had been bad enough.

"Kagome, I wouldn't ever let her talk about what would happen if one of us died. We had one of the worst fights of our life over hiring that lawyer to plan things out, and she took care of all of it -- I could never face the possibility that one of us might pass before the other, someday. I think she had a premonition, though ... knew it then, too."

His took a long, shuddering breath, and suddenly, swiftly, turned away from her. She realized he was hiding his expression. "This is ... this is her way of looking out for me. I wasn't sure ... she had a jealous streak, Kagome. I wasn't sure what she would think of me finding someone else ..." His voice was shaky.

"She ... she had the lawyer send this to me?" Kagome touched the letter cautiously. "After she died?"

"Hai." His shoulders shook. "She didn't want me to be alone."

"She could have been more specific about how to find you," Kagome grumped. She put a hesitant hand on his back between his shoulder blades, wanting to hold him but not sure if he wanted the contact.

He snorted. "She probably figured if you were worthy, you'd succeed in finding me. It was a test of sorts. Amelia thought that way. If you'd given up before you found me, she would have figured you didn't deserve me."

"Oh." It made a kind of twisted sense. "I wish I could have met her."

"Gods, I miss her." He exhaled again, and his shoulders shook.

"Are you crying?" She asked gently, because he had his face buried in his hands.

"No!" A lie. A tiny sob escaped between his fingers.

"Well, excuse me," she said, "My ears must be hearing things."

"There's no sense in tears. I can't ... I'm not crying!" He denied, shaking his head. He drew in a gulping breath.

"Don't be stupid. It's okay to cry, tough guy." She crawled around him on her hands and knees to sit in front of him.

"I'm. Not. Crying." He insisted.

"Okay. Look at me."

"I'm not! She's dead and gone and there isn't a fucking thing I can do about it and it'll only hurt you if I keep mourning her! You deserve me happy and focused on you, not dwelling on what's dead and gone in my past!"

Kagome pulled his hands gently away from his face. His cheeks were wet, as she'd known they would be. "Inuyasha, it's okay. Really. Let it out. Just this once. You bottle stuff up too much."

His face crumpled, and he gave a little hitching cry. Then he sobbed. Not the silent, stifled sobs she'd heard from him before, when she'd held him the night she'd found him in the shower, but almost a bawl. Between choked cries, he said, "I didn't ... I didn't want to ... do this ... to you. This is your night, Kagome. I just ... I just asked you to marry me ... I shouldn't be crying about ... I should be happy ..."

"It's okay. We'll have plenty of other happy nights." Her best friend was hurting again; how could she think of anything else but comforting him?

"Damn tears!" He tried to pull away and she wouldn't let go. Wracking sobs shook him -- healthy grief, allowing everything out and letting everything go. How long he cried, she didn't know. When he subsided to sniffles and little hitching breaths, however, she stood up and pulled him to his feet as well.

"Inuyasha," she said, seriously, wrapping her arms around him. "Have you ever really cried about her before? Before I got here?"

He shook his head. "Only that night when you found me in the tub..." he rubbed his wrist self-consciously, where the mark from the knife was long gone. "Crying doesn't do any damn good. Done more in the last two weeks than I've done in the last two hundred years. Damnit, Kagome, you're gonna turn me into a wimp."

She wasn't sure what to say to that. He kept stuff to himself until it choked him, sometimes. Even if she asked, he'd dismiss her concern with a cutting remark or a sharp word. She did the only thing she could think of -- she just rested her head against his chest.

"I need to get some water or something," he muttered, finally, stepping away. She followed him into the kitchen where he bustled about clinking ice into glasses for both of them, then pouring water over the ice from a jug in his refrigerator. He repeatedly dried his eyes with the sleeve of his t-shirt, and snuffled a bit. He handed her one glass, and then led the way into his living room, where he claimed a seat on the couch.

"Sit down," he said, not unkindly. She sat. He gave her a rueful smile. "Bet you'd rather be in the bedroom with me, ne?"

"Not tonight," she said, honestly. If he made love to her in this mood, she'd have no idea if he was having sex with her, or if he was lost in his memories of Amelia. "You need to talk."

"I want to tell you about her," he said, thoughtfully, staring into his tea.

"I'll listen." She leaned back against the couch cushions.

"Don't want to fucking cry again." He averted his eyes, obviously embarrassed by his displays.

"Then don't. Tell me about the good times." Anything to get him talking. She didn't want him to think he couldn't talk about Amelia. That wasn't fair to him -- and in truth, she was a bit curious and not particularly threatened. His earlier words and the ring on her finger had reassured her that he didn't view her as second or third best.

"You don't mind?" He asked, quietly. There was real concern in his voice when he added, "You came unglued quite a few times over Kikyou. I don't want to hurt you like that again, ever."

"Just tell me the truth, koi. That's all I ask." She smiled reassuringly at him.

He closed his eyes, and leaned back too, and quietly began to spin a tale of a woman remarkable enough to win his love, and brave enough to love him back. Kagome listened, said little, and would have been lying if she'd claimed the story didn't bother her at least a bit despite her earlier thoughts that she wouldn't be threatened. But she didn't interrupt him, and in truth, she was also fascinated. More than anything else, he was her best friend and they had five hundred years of catching up to do now that the crisis was over. Her urge to be jealous was tempered with an urge to listen to juicy gossip about his life ... it was a very weird juxtaposition of two conflicting needs.

She twisted the ring around her finger as he talked about Amelia, taking comfort from its presence. He told funny stories, romantic stories, adventures and triumphs and tragedies. She just let his words fall over her ... and after awhile, his tears were totally dry and he even laughed at a few points, when talking about a centuries-long prank war between Amelia and Shippou. The game had apparently amused Amelia but sent Inuyasha, who often got caught by friendly fire by one or both parties, into a towering rage on regular occasions. Only after the fact could he laugh ... She was relieved to see him smile; she thought his pain was lessened a bit, by sharing his favorite memories.

She realized he had loved Amelia, really and truly and very deeply.

Kagome studied the diamond ring on her finger as he talked. Someday, would he talk about her like this, to some other woman? Barring accident or malice, he'd outlive her by millenia. She didn't really want to think about it, but she also suddenly understood Amelia's impulse to see that her beloved hanyou had someone to go on to ... When she thought of Inuyasha, decades from now, it was better to think of him living with some nebulous other woman, happy and loved, laughing and living life, than it was to think of him alone and miserable, perhaps sitting by himself in this very house. Inuyasha was not someone who dealt with being alone well -- and he was too proud to admit it.

Thank you, Amelia, she thought, with a sudden and unexpected surge of gratitude for the woman who'd been her hanyou's wife for so long. You were worthy of him too.

It was possible, she realized, inspecting her engagement ring, to love greatly more than once in a lifetime. Particularly for one such as Inuyasha, who had a heart made of gold even more brilliant than the bit of jewelry he'd given her.

When the sun was beginning to rise in the east he yawned and completed his story with a somewhat stilted, "You know what happened after that. In the bar." He blinked at her with amber eyes that were calmer and saner than she'd seen from him since she'd found him.

"Inuyasha," she said, quietly, "Thank you for trusting me with that story."

"Keh." He leaned over to her, wrapped his arms around her, and pulled her towards him. She snuggled against him and started to drift down to exhausted sleep. There would be time enough for other discussions, and other things, later. Now, she was just comfortable in his arms.

Dimly, the last thing she was aware of was a grumble from Inuyasha about uncomfortable couches. When he scooped her up she briefly opened her eyes, but she was aware of was him settling her into the bed, and his weight dipping the mattress beside her. His arm slipped around her and then she slept.


She woke much later, to the sense that she was being watched.

Inuyasha was awake, sitting up, in his familiar dog-boy pose. He was bare-chested, wearing only boxers, silver hair long and loose and falling all around him in a glorious veil. Beside Inuyasha on the mattress, and rather unexpectedly, there was a cat who had assumed an almost identical stance. Both of them had her fixed with intense matching stares.

"Kirara!" She recognized the youkai cat and crowed a delighted greeting. Kirara was here! Alive!

"She showed up a few days ago," Inuyasha grinned at her cry of joy. He watched, tolerantly, as she scooped the cat up and hugged her and spun around the room with her in his arms. "Don't know how long she plans to stay, but it's great to see her."

"Kirara! You have another tail!" She noticed that belatedly. Kirara was purring happily, and when Kagome loosened her grip on the cat, she stretched up and rubbed her cheek against Kagome's face.

"She's gained power." Inuyasha said, reaching out and ruffling Kirara's ears. "Oi, kitty, time to put you out."

With a lot less respect than Kagome thought Kirara really deserved, Inuyasha claimed the cat from Kagome and unceremoniously plunked her outside on the balcony. He shut the door firmly and pulled the drapes. When he turned back, his grin was positively mischievous and it was all for her.


"Yeah?" She said, with anticipation -- she'd have to be completely clueless not to recognize that predatory look in his eyes.

"You're mine." He crossed the room in one bound, scooped her up, and sat down so hard on the bed that he bounced a foot off it, with her in his arms. "Gotcha!"

She laughed. A good eight hours of sleep had done wonders for his mood. "Whatcha gonna do with me now that you got me, dog-boy?"

"Oh, I can think of a few things ..." He growled, low and sexy.

She giggled, delighted by this turn of events. Then she dared him, "Yeah? You gonna show me?"

"You gonna give me a reason to?" He was teasing her right back, his eyes twinkling in amusement.

"Okay." She threw her arms around his neck and pulled him down for a kiss. After several minutes, she murmured from an inch away from his lips, "That a good enough reason for you?"

His answer wasn't quite coherent, just a strangled jumble of syllables. "Kago ... me... want ... me ... you ...feh! Feh!" She'd reduced him to a complete loss of language skills, which made her laugh before he silenced her with another deep kiss. He then proceeded to show her exactly what he had in mind, with enthusiasm.

After, he repeated, "You're mine, Kagome."

"Mmm," she murmured, "Possessive much?" Though she didn't mind the proclamation at all ... it was certainly better than wondering what he thought!

"And I'm yours," he said, with satisfaction, head resting against her shoulder. "I'm yours, Kagome. Never doubt that again."