A/N: I'm back! As promised, I present the Koga/Shippou/Yuriko story. This is an offshoot of my Western Lands trilogy, and since it does not feature Kags or Sesshy, it's getting its very own location. This takes place right at the end of Fire and Ice. This story is completely optional, for anyone that doesn't like this little triangle. You don't need to read this to understand Guardian (once I start posting it). Despite how this may look, I have absolutely no idea what the pairing is actually going to be, so if anyone has an opinion, express it now. I've got 40 pages written so far, so it's not going to be the one shot I originally had planned. I'm just having too much fun with this.

I do not own Inuyasha, I just borrow some of the characters for my own twisted purposes.

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"Has anyone seen any of my clothing?"

Merkamou, Lord of the South, stood in the middle of his courtyard still dressed for sleep. There were crates and bags everywhere, and somewhere in the mess was his wardrobe. "I am fairly certain that I said to leave my clothing alone."

"Gomen nasai, Merkamou-sama. It seems that some servants were over zealous." Two maids bowed, trying not to stare at their lord. "We are trying to find them, my lord."

"If I would have known what a complete fiasco it would be to move to the Far Shores, I would have sweetly told Kagome-sama to go to hell." The hawk glared at some of the court ladies that were staring at him. "And how, exactly, am I supposed to get anything done like this?"

The two maids decided that it was a rhetorical question and retreated.

Chaos reigned in the Southern Palace. The family had lived at this location for centuries and had only occasionally visited the other properties. Merkamou was abandoning his home and moving to a place where the ningens were not looking for him.

Giving up on finding any clothes in the courtyard, and tiring of the stares he was receiving, Merkamou retreated to the palace proper. It felt so odd, to pack up his family's entire history and move it. There were memories that he simply did not want to lose.

'I can still hear her laughter, echoing down the corridors.' The Southern Lord indulged himself in a moment of longing. 'When I wake up, I see the sun rise we used to share.'

A muffled giggle from a passing maid brought Merkamou back to reality. "Enough. I am not on display. I will find something to wear, one way or another."

Going back outside, Merkamou threw his head back and let out a call that was very similar to the one he used in his hawk form. After a few seconds there was a response, coupled with two roars. A shadow crossed in front of the sun, and a streak of black, red, and gold dropped from the sky. The hawk easily caught his daughter, sharing her grin. "You will never tire of that, will you?"

"Of course not, Papa, and you will always catch me." Yuriko glanced down at her father's bare chest. "Did you forget to do something this morning?"

Merkamou dropped his daughter in the dust. "I have had more then enough abuse for one morning. My clothing has been packed, and they cannot find it."

"All of it?" Yuriko sat up, her grin growing. "Your entire wardrobe is in boxes? That explains why the courtyard is so full."

"I am tired of the ladies staring at me as though I am the next course. You will help me find something to wear."

"And I, being a dutiful daughter, will also defend you from the hordes of ravenous ladies."

Rolling his eyes, Merkamou turned and stomped into the palace. Yuriko had to scurry to catch up. The only lady bold enough to stare was chased off when Yuriko's hand went to her sword.

"I see what you mean, Papa." Yuriko took the lead as they moved through the corridors, finally stopping at a door. "I know he is not up yet. Oy! Shippou!"

"It's too early." The muffled voice managed to carry more then it's fair share of annoyance.

"Shippou-kun, it is an emergency! We must save papa from the ravenous ladies!"

"Huh?"

Merkamou crossed his arms. "I do not think you need to yell that, Yuriko-chan."

"It is your duty as a Southern lord to lend your Lord clothing in his time of need." Yuriko let her voice raise just a hair more to make sure it echoed down the corridor.

"What the hell . . . " Shippou stumbled to his door and slid it open. He pushed his rumpled hair out of his eyes and gave Yuriko a confused but still charming smile. "What are you talking about, Yuriko-chan?"

The kitsune slowly looked over to his Lord. "What happened to your clothes, Merkamou-sama?"

"They are in a box somewhere."

"Oh."

It was a struggle for Yuriko to keep a straight face. "Shippou-kun, please, can Papa borrow something to wear until they find his clothes?"

Shrugging, Shippou disappeared back into his room. "Sure, but they're going to be a bit short. He's a hand taller then me."

"Arigato, Shippou-san." Merkamou followed after the kitsune. "I had forgotten what sorts of fascinating things your hair does in the morning."

"Aren't you supposed to be nice to me when I'm lending you stuff?"

Yuriko stayed in the corridor, giggling. Hopefully they would find her father's clothing soon. He was rather particular about these things. When Merkamou reemerged, Yuriko had to look twice. "I was not aware you even knew the color blue existed. I rather like it."

"They had best find my clothing." He looked back over his shoulder. "Again, arigato, Shippou-san."

"No problem, Merkamou-sama. I'm going back to bed. See you later, Yuriko-chan." Shippou waved before sliding his door shut.

"That kitsune must be part bat. He would rather sleep all day and stay up all night." Yuriko fell into step with her father, heading towards breakfast. "Aside from the obvious, what else are you doing today?"

"I must remember to send a note to Sesshomaru-sama today so that he knows where we have gone. I do not need Kagome-sama charging in to save us for no reason."

"I will remind you."

"Arigato, aijou (1)."

"And, after we eat, we need to deal with the first group that is leaving. If you expect us to be moving in two weeks, they need to leave tomorrow."

"Fine, fine."

"Oh, we also must . . . "

"Not until after my tea."

"Hai, Papa."

Yuriko waited patiently until after her father had several cups of tea before restarting her list of activities. "We need to discuss the nobles."

"As far as I am concerned, most of the nobles can go to their homes, or to hell, and stay there." Merkamou glared over his cup. "I hate trying to organize them."

"They will be easier to manage if you can watch them."

"This will be a brutal day." Merkamou spotted a messenger in the doorway and waved him in. The note had the seal of the Northern lands.

Yuriko focused on her breakfast while her father read his message.

Merkamou-sama,

I agree to your terms. I will dispatch the documents to you in exchange for the silk that you are offering.

Since these are of a delicate nature, I am not entrusting them to a messenger. Koga-san is usually quite willing to visit your lands for me. I am expecting his return in a few days, at which point I will send him to you.

A word of advice. In a recent conversation, Koga-san spoke of your daughter, Yuriko-san. It would seem that he has developed an attachment to her over the years. As he is a wolf, and rather impulsive even for one of his tribe, he is prone to rash actions.

Regards,

Mayu

'The hell?' Merkamou reread his note, but it did not make Mayu's final comment any clearer. 'Rash actions? What did he say to her?'

"Is something wrong, Papa?" Yuriko noticed the puzzled look on her father's face.

"You have a friend coming."

"Kouga-san? I have not seen him since last winter. I had hoped that Mayu-sama might send him."

Merkamou did not miss the way Yuriko's eyes lit up. The hawk set the message down and focused completely on his daughter. "And what do you think of him?"

"Think of him? What do you mean, Papa?"

"Yuriko . . . "

"He is nice, and fun. He has been my friend for years now. What else is there to know?"

"That is the question, is it not?" Merkamou's voice trailed off and his eyes went to the window. 'I may not have done her a service by keeping males so far from her. She has no idea. Where is Akane when I need her?'

"Papa?"

The hawk shook his head, pushing his thoughts away until he would have a chance to deal with them. "And now that I have dealt with this, you can return to listing off all of the things that need my immediate and personal attention."

----

"Akane, we have a problem."

"Nonsense, brother. Your clothing is back in your room."

"Not that." Merkamou snagged his sister's arm and steered her away from her protesting mate. "Yuriko."

"Yuriko has been too busy to get into trouble."

"Evidently not. Do you remember the wolf Koga?"

"Hai." Akane tossed her hair over her shoulder.

"He has feelings for Yuriko."

"It was bound to happen one day, Merkamou. You cannot keep her isolated from every male in existence, and she is quite lovely."

"I asked Yuriko what she thought of him, and she was rather confused."

"Not surprising." The older sibling stopped under a tree, studying her brother.

"I do not need a lecture, Akane. Mayu wrote to me. Koga is coming with a package, and she is concerned that he may do something rash."

"Is the wolf prince planning to kidnap the Southern Lord's only daughter? My goodness, what a pair he must have."

Merkamou stared for a second while he processed what had been said. "Akane!"

"Well, it is true."

"I do not care what kind of a pair he has, he is not going to kidnap Yuriko."

"Probably not. He is a wolf, so it is more likely that he will barge in during a meeting and announce that Yuriko is now his woman and they are going north to live in a cave."

"That is not a pretty picture."

"No. Especially not the part where you rip his arms and legs off."

The hawk dropped down to sit with his back to the tree. "Is this why Mayu warned me? So that I would not kill him if he did something stupid?"

"Most likely."

"But she still sent him. I suddenly question her motives."

"This is most likely a clumsy attempt at playing matchmaker. She seemed to favor this prince."

"She could have advised him to work with her, instead of tossing him at us."

"And you would consider his offer?"

Merkamou hesitated. "I am not sure."

Akane examined her perfect claws. "He did seem rather . . . barbaric."

"Akane, you are a snob."

"Hai."

"Do I have a real reason to deny him? He is very loyal to his lord, and showed considerable skill at the exterminator's village battle. He may be barbaric, but he is still a prince. Yuriko has never wanted to be the heir, and is much happier with her nephew in that position. If she is in the North, there is less chance of a rebellion centered around her."

"You almost sound as though you will smile and say 'have her' when Koga makes his grand announcement."

Merkamou laughed. "Who knows? Maybe I will."

"Does Yuriko get a say in this?"

The hawk gave his sister an evil grin. "Of course. That is where you come in."

"Me?"

"Hai. Do you think Yuriko would ever tell her big, evil Papa what she thought of a male? Especially since she is convinced that I will slaughter any that dare to even look at her."

"So you wish for me to spy on your daughter."

"Absolutely."

"What will our sisters say?"

"Do not bring them into this!"

Akane gave her brother a piercing look. "And if Yuriko likes this prince?"

"I have to let her go someday, Akane."

She set a gentle hand on Merkamou's shoulder. "I will find out for you."

"Arigato."

----

"Yuriko-chan!"

"Hai, Akane-chan!"

The Southern Lord's only daughter brushed the dirt off of her hands and rose to greet her aunt. "How are you?"

"Wonderful, niece. And you seem to be enjoying yourself."

"Gardening is much more fun without the gardener."

Akane wrinkled her nose. "I would rather admire the end result."

"Which is why I am wondering what you are doing out here. This whole section of the garden is being dismantled."

"I have heard that you have company coming."

"Nani?"

"A certain wolf."

"Koga-san?" Yuriko laughed. "He is coming to see Papa, not me."

"Princes do not carry packages unless there is an ulterior motive."

"Are you suggesting that Koga is using this as an excuse to see me?" Yuriko's heart sped up at the thought, as far fetched as it might be.

"Darling, I know that is exactly what is going on."

"I never thought of it that way." Yuriko sank back down to the grass. "But why, Aunt Akane?"

"He likes you, Yuriko. Quite a bit."

"Are you sure? I have not seen anything . . . "

"Because you spend all of your time pining over Shippou."

"I have not."

Akane glared down at her niece. "You still watch him when he walks into the room. You do not look at any other the way you do him."

"You are seeing things."

"Admit that you have not accepted Shippou's refusal."

Yuriko surged to her feet. "I will admit no such lie! He does not want me. I have accepted this."

"And Koga?"

"First Papa, now you. What the hell do you both know that I do not?"

"Only that he has feelings for you."

"And where has this great revelation come from? A wandering fortune teller, perhaps?"

"Enough, little one. I simply wanted to know if you have affections for Koga."

The fight rushed out of Yuriko, leaving her feeling drained and sitting in the grass. "He's a very, very good friend. And if the situation was different . . . "

"That's all I wanted to know, Yuriko-chan." Akane flipped a stray lock of ebony hair into place for her niece.

"He does not see me that way, Akane-chan." The young hawk set her head against her knees. "We are just friends."

"You can make that decision when he gets here."

"It is not my decision to make." Yuriko lifted her head, her gold eyes dark with emotion. "Papa would never accept Koga-san."

"He is rather . . . rough."

"Nonsense, Akane-chan."

"He lives in a cave."

"A complicated, well run cave."

"He wears furs."

Yuriko shrugged. "He looks quite appealing in his clothes."

"When is the last time he tended to his hair?"

"Have you seen Shippou recently?"

Akane chuckled. "Point taken."

"You and Papa are making a huge fuss over nothing. Koga-san will deliver his package, hopefully he will have time to hunt with me, and then he will return to the North."

"And you feel nothing for Shippou?"

"Shippou feels nothing for me."

"Understood. I will leave you to your flowers."

"Arigato, Aunt." Yuriko gave herself a shake and stood. "Tell Papa to settle his feathers."

"I will, little one." Akane gave a small bow. 'Even though I doubt he will be able to settle them once he realizes that his daughter wishes for the wolf prince.'

----

"For the last time, if you touch his clothing again I will not be held responsible for what will happen!" Yuriko chased a servant out of her father's room. Ever since the incident with his clothing disappearing a week ago, Merkamou had been rather protective of his belongings. "I am starting to suspect a plot!"

Two more servants eased past, each balancing several futons. "Excuse us, my lady."

"Ack!" The little hawk ducked back. "You can make more then one run, you know."

"This caravan is leaving tomorrow morning, my lady. We won't make it if we take any more time."

"At least have someone clear a path for you, or you will never make it to the courtyard."

One caravan had already left for the Far Shores, and the second would be leaving in the morning. The final caravan would be a week later when Merkamou left. Yuriko was certain she was losing her mind. Everything that was not an essential was leaving in the second caravan and they were behind schedule. Servants were everywhere, trying to pack as much as possible. Long after everyone else was in bed, she would be up trying to deal with whatever major problems had appeared during the day. Someone had already had the bright idea of sending all of the blankets out in the second caravan until Yuriko caught on to it. It would have been a rather long week if there was no bedding.

Yuriko leaned against a wall, trying to make the faint tremble in her hands stop. 'When is the last time I actually slept? It feels like forever. I just cannot seem to take care of everything. Papa has too much on his mind as it is; I cannot let anything slip through the cracks. I can hold up a bit longer.'

Most of the nobles had already left. Merkamou was meeting with some dissenters who did not wish to move to one of the designated areas, tucked away from the ningens. Yuriko was not planning on the meeting ending without blood shed. Her father's temper was worn rather thin, and the nobles he was meeting with were already talking about rebellion. She had a bet with Akane on whether or not there would be any survivors.

A loud crash sent Yuriko sprinting down the hallway. Two servants were picking themselves up and assessing the damage. Evidently they had both come around the corner and smashed into each other, unable to see around their loads. The table looked none the worse for the wear, but the box full of silk had broken open. 'Oh, wonderful.'

"Hey, what's the hold up?" Other servants yelled at the blockage.

"You tell this baka to look where he's going, and there won't be a problem!" The servant that had been carrying the silk started to gather up his load. "I'm not letting anyone through here until I get all of this picked up! I'm not having all of your foot prints on this!"

"Look where I'm going?" The servant carrying the table set his load back down. "What do you mean by that?"

"Let us not fight about . . ."

Yuriko was not even noticed.

"I mean you should look before you kill someone, you moron!"

"Why don't you come over here and say that, you ass?"

A servant yelled down the hallway to his companions. "Hey, there's a fight over here!"

The lady tried again. "There is no fight. Both of you, enough."

"I'll come over there, all right, and bash your face in!"

The two servants slammed into each other, falling into a heap of fists and profanities in the middle of the silk.

"Fight! Fight! Fight!"

The chanting echoed through the palace, calling more spectators. One of the combatants was knocked into the crowd, making the fight spread. In an instant there were five youkai in an all out melee in the middle of the palace. The rest of the staff cheered them on while Yuriko waded into the middle.

"Stop this!" She slammed her fist into one fool's chest, throwing him up against a wall. She tried to grab a second one, but he was tackled and they both fell out of her reach. Someone blundered into her, crushing her against the wall. There were more spectators becoming participants as wild swings hit anyone that was too close.

Yuriko shoved the clumsy servant off of her and grabbed two more. She gave them both a firm shake before tossing them to the side in favor of grabbing the original combatants. One of the servants jumped up from the ground swinging, making her dodge back. Behind her, a second servant swung. He was aiming for his opponent, but his aim was off due to his own blood dripping into his eye.

Yuriko staggered when she was hit in the back of the head. "That does it!"

Every servant hit the ground when they felt the wind whip up. They had all been in the service of the hawks long enough to know what this meant. The silk that had been on the ground was now staring to swirl around the furious hawk. The two that had started the whole mess were yanked to their feet by their throats. "Either you stop this foolish behavior, or I will finish it for you!"

"Gomen nasai, my lady." The two servants tried to grovel while hanging in the air. "We didn't mean to upset you."

"I do not have time for this." With a final glare, Yuriko dropped them to the ground. The wind died away to nothing. "Get this mess picked up, and get the last of this caravan together!"

The audience scattered, grabbing anything they could find to haul away. Unnoticed, Yuriko leaned against a wall, her hand on her chest. 'That was just stupid. I should not have lost my temper like that. I am in no condition to try to call up a windstorm. I can barely do it when I am in top form.' She looked down the hallway and saw someone stop at her father's door.

"Stay out of my father's clothing, for the love of Buddha!" The hawk darted back towards her father's room. "No one goes in here! The next one I see near here will be answering to him!"

Yuriko went inside of his room and slid the door shut, barricading it from the inside. She used the window to escape, making her way back around the palace. 'That should at least slow them down.'

The whisper of movement on grass was her only warning, but it was enough. Yuriko twisted, grabbing the wolf that was leaping at her and throwing him to the ground. "And what happened to saying hello, Koga-san?"

"That's boring." Rolling to his feet, Koga grabbed Yuriko around her waist and spun her around to make her squeal with delight. "So, how the hell have you been, little hawk?"

"Put me down, you beast!" Still giggling, Yuriko slapped at Koga.

"Of course, Yuriko-hime." Koga let go, letting her tumble to the ground.

"Princess? I am no princess, you brute."

"Could'a fooled me. I was pretty sure you were Merkamou-sama's daughter. Something you need to tell me?"

"Bah, it is impossible to talk to you." Yuriko threw her hands over her head, grinning. "I am still ecstatic to see you. Did you just arrive?"

"Hai. I did drop by your father, but he seemed kind of busy. And pissy. Lots of blood, and I'm pretty sure there was a head in there too."

"Just one head? Are you sure?"

"That's a pretty grisly question."

"Just answer."

"I saw a head. I wasn't exactly looking, though. Took one look at your Daddy's face and got the fuck out of there. Not interested in being the next head on the ground."

"Damn. I believe Akane-chan has won our bet."

Koga grabbed onto Yuriko's shoulders and stared at her. "Are you betting on how many your Daddy's gonna' kill now?"

"In a way."

"You're insane." Laughing, Koga gave her a little shake. "Ya' know that, right?"

"And you are one to talk."

"Do me a favor. If you're betting on me getting killed, let me know. Actually, if Akane is betting on me getting killed, let me know. Sounds like she's better at this. Then I know to get the hell outta here."

"You are truly being a beast, Koga-san. I am perfectly capable of predicting my Papa."

"Sure you are."

Yuriko tried to grab onto Koga, but she was laughing too hard. She found herself pulled up tight against him, her back to his chest. Both of her arms were pinned to her chest, and his breath was ruffling her hair. The discussion with Akane flashed through her mind, and her heart picked up.

Koga did not miss the change in her pulse. "I think you missed me, Yuriko."

"Maybe. Maybe not."

He leaned forward to whisper in her ear. "Nope. No doubt at all. You've been missing me."

She shivered. "You are very certain of this, Koga-san."

"And what've I said about the honorifics? It's a waste of air."

"Fine, Koga."

"Unless, of course, you want to call me Koga-kun. I'd think about it then."

Yuriko turned her head, catching his eyes. "If you insist, Koga-kun."

"Fire! Fire!"

"Oh, what now?" Cursing the interruption, Yuriko broke away to run back to the palace. "What the hell is going on in here?"

"This is all her fault, my lady!"

"Nani? You knocked the lamp over!"

"Because you moved it!"

Koga stopped behind Yuriko, whispering to her. "What the hell is going on?"

The hawk took a deep breath, keeping her frustration and stress in check. "We're moving to the Far Shores palace. I'm in charge of packing and the caravans."

"I'll never understand why you want to live in some place like this. My cave is never this nuts."

"Right now, I would give anything to be in your cave and far away from this."

With Yuriko helping to put out the fire, she did not see the excited gleam flare to life in Koga's eyes.

----

A/N:

(1) aijou: beloved daughter