"Uuuugh we've been walking and walking and walking all day!" complained the young fox youkai, lowering his arms low to the ground in mock exhaustion allowing his small hands to drag the forest path, leaving behind a small set of twin trails behind him. "I'm tired and I'm getting hungry! Can we pleeeeeeeeease stop for a rest!?"

Beside him was a young woman with long, raven hair of waves; big, bright shining eyes and a sweet smile that always seemed to be on her face. She was literally the picture of kindness. She wore a small, pleated green skirt, white knee-high socks, a white, long-sleeved shirt with a red tie and green around the collar. One white stripe wound it's way around the collar. Her name was Kagome Higurashi and she was a miko, a priestess who possessed special, spiritual powers. Slung over her should was a bow and a quiver of arrows which she used in times of great need. Kagome had discovered that she herself was a reincarnation of the former protector of the Shikon no Tama, a precious and very powerful jewel. That protector's name was Kikyou. The Shikon no Tama had been shattered into many pieces quite sometime ago, and Kagome's spiritual miko powers allowed her to sense if there were any shikon shards nearby. This was only one of the special things about Kagome. She had met Shippou on one of her many disastrous travels in the feudal era. Shippou was a young orphan youkai, a fox demon of the age of 7 years old. Kagome and Shippou had quickly formed a close bond, Shippou always looking up to her as a mother figure. She grinned down at the tired little kitsune who gazed up at her pleadingly.

"Don't worry Shippou, I'll carry you," Kagome told him gently as she lowered herself down and lifted the small kitsune up in her arms cradling him like a baby and earning a "Keh!" from the being clad in red whom walked next to her.

He had his arms folded gingerly in the sleeves of his fire rat haori and stuck his perfectly shaped nose in the air, flicking the soft white ears that sat perched on top of his white head. His long, silvery white mane of hair flew out from behind him. Sheathed on his right side was a sword which the man in red barely ever parted with. His name was Inuyasha and he was a hanyou, a half demon. Kagome could tell that Inuyasha, the half-dog demon whom she'd grown to love so, was getting irritated with Shippou's constant whining. The miko gazed at him, waiting to see what kind of reaction would issue from Inuyasha this time around and braced herself in case he decided to knock the little kitsune over the head in annoyance. Inuyasha normally made Shippou his target if he was in a bad mood or just needed to blow off a bit of steam which would normally result in an "osuwari" from Kagome, causing the beads of subjugation around his neck to glow, his face slamming into the ground and ending in a mouthful of dirt. That's usually what always resulted if Kagome 'sat' him.

"Quit complaining so damn much. I want to make it to the village before nightfall if that's alright with you," he snapped at the young fox demon.

"You don't have to yell at me, ya know!" Shippou shot back with a slightly hurt sound in his small voice. "I'm just tired."

"Inuyasha," Kagome began in somewhat warnful tones.

"Huh?" the hanyou gazed down at Kagome with a slightly frightened look in his eyes, hoping against hope she hadn't planned on using the dreaded word...osuwari. He tugged at the beads on his neck nervously, not breaking his gaze from her.

Kagome just grinned, noticing the nervous look on the hanyou's face. She had no intentions on sitting him. "Just relax, we'll make it there before nightfall. There's no need to pick on Shippou just because tonight is the night of the new moon. It's barely afternoon and nearing lunchtime."

"Keh," was all the hanyou said.

How he loathed the night of the new moon. This was the only time when Inuyasha was in his most vulnerable, most weakened stage and that was the night when the moon did not show in the sky. That was the night that Inuyasha lost all of his demonic powers and became human for the entire night. He hated this night more than anything and never could sleep. As much as he hated to admit it, he feared it when he was in human form. He was afraid that something would happen to one of his friends or Kagome and he wouldn't be able to protect them. Inuyasha could not wield the Tetsusaiga while in human form and he had no demonic powers to fight with either, so he was basically rendered helpless until daybreak. Daybreak was when his demonic powers returned to him and he was once again the strong hanyou that his companions had grown accustomed to.

"Maybe we should stop for a rest and for a bite to eat," Sango pointed out. "The village is still a ways away and we're going to need our strength at it's best if we want to make it there by nightfall," the demon slayer pointed out.

She was a lovely young woman, with locks of dark brown hair that she wore loosely tied at the back. She wore a pink, magenta and green kimono with a blue bandana tied around her neck. Over her shoulder she carried the one thing that demons dare not want to encounter, the Hirakotsu, Sango's deadly weapon devised from the bones of demons slayed in her village. On her other shoulder rode a small, cream colored youkai cat named Kirara. She mewed a squeaky meow in agreement with Sango.

"Sango is right. We should stop for something to eat," spoke up the voice of the male who walked beside her.

He carried a tall, golden staff with rings around it that gently tinkled as the group walked. He had short, jet black hair with the back bit tied into a small ponytail, dark expressive eyes and was deviously handsome. He wore long, light and dark blue robes that signified his appearance. He was a houshi, a monk by the name of Miroku, but he was no ordinary houshi, oh no indeed. This monk was as lecherous as they came, or nothing but a womanizer as Sango would say. Judging by his appearance you could never tell, but if a beautiful woman was near, you could bet Miroku would take her hands in his own with a serious expression set on his face, and ask her to bear his child.

However this action usually ended up with a very angry demon exterminator bashing him over the head with her Hirakotsu, leaving the monk wishing he would have just kept his mouth shut. If he wasn't busy trying to woo other women, then you can but houshi-sama was picking the perfect chance to cop a feel on Sango's rear-end. The aftereffect of that was normally quite humorous as Sango would raise a hand, allowing anybody who was alteast within a mile of them to hear the slap that issued from it as it hit Miroku's face, leaving that lovely embodiement of the demon slayer's hand.

"We CAN'T be stopping and sitting around to rest!" snapped Inuyasha at the others. "In case you didn't know, tonight's the new moon and I don't give a damn whether you're hungry or not! We need to get to the village and fast, so quit your complaining and let's get the hell out of here!"

Kagome just sighed and shook her head. She didn't understand why he always had to act like such a tough guy. The miko understood that Inuyasha was just worried that with him being in human form and not making it to the village in time, they might end up in a mess they didn't want to be in. Not to mention he had to keep himself hidden from the wretched demon, Naraku. If Naraku were to find out that the new moon was the night Inuyasha transformed, he'd use that to his own advantage and try to steal the remainder of the Shikon Shards that Kagome kept safely around her neck in a small jar, hidden underneath her blouse.

"I don't think it'd hurt to just stop for a bite to eat, Inuyasha," Kagome pointed out. "You can always carry me and we can run to get to the village before nightfall if that makes you feel any better?" the miko suggested.

"Keh, whatever," he replied stiffly. The hanyou flicked his ears back and forth, hearing the sounds of a river just up ahead. He lifted his keen nose and sniffed the air.

"What is it, Inuyasha?" Miroku questioned, hearing the sniffing from behind him.

"Eh, it's nothing," Inuyasha replied. "There's a river nearby. I'm sure we could catch some fish." The hanyou pointed one long-clawed finger towards where the sounds of the river were emanating. "Let's make this quick if we're going to get to the village before nightfall!" Inuyasha didn't stop to wait for his friends, instead he took off at a run, the sleeves of his fire rat kimono waving out from behind him as he descended from the group.

Kagome just grinned and shook her head. iThat Inuyasha...he's always in a hurry. We'll make it back to the village before nightfall. He just needs to learn to have a little patience is all./i The rest of the group picked up pace and met Inuyasha by the river. He had already dove in and caught quite a bit of fish for his friends, though he looked none too happy about it. He was soaked from head to toe. The hanyou lowered himself on all fours and shook the water off of himself in a very dog-like way, causing the group to back away, shielding themselves from the flying water. Miroku and Sango made their way over to where Inuyasha sat and began gathering sticks and small chunks of wood nearby to make a fire.

Kagome walked over to the river and crouched down, removing the yellow bag from her shoulders. She reached inside and took out some water bottles, filling up them up from the fresh water flowing in the river. She'd keep these for her friends in case anybody got thirsty. Pretty soon the popping and snapping was heard from the fire that had been started by the monk and Sango. They gathered some small sticks, placing the fish on the ends of them. The group was now gathered anxiously around the fire, waiting for the fish to finish cooking, their stomachs talking noisily to them all, except for Inuyasha. He was fidgeting more than usual and kept looking up at the sky and then back at Kagome. The miko raised an eyebrow at him. He seemed more antsy than usual.

"WHAT!" Inuyasha snapped, noticing Kagome's gaze had fallen on him.

"Nothing!" Kagome shot back. "I just noticed you were a bit more restless than normal. Is that okay with you?" She mumbled under her breath, hearing a frustrated growl come from the half-demon and he abruptly stood, sniffing the air again.

"I'm going for a walk! I'll be back in a bit and you had all better damn well make sure that you're ready to go when I get back because if you're not, I'm leaving WITHOUT YOU!" Inuyasha shouted, place emphasis on his final two words, and with that he turned from his group of comrades.

"Don't you want anything to eat, Inuyasha?" Kagome called to his retreating back, but the hanyou didn't respond.

"WELL FINE! MORE FOR US THEN!" she hollared in slight frustration.

Kagome just rolled her eyes and turned back to the fish. iEmpty threats, Inuyasha. How often have you used that line on us in the past?/i She snickered to herself and Shippou caught her eye grinning. Sango was busy cooking the fish as well so neither girl noticed when the monk gazed up at the sky and saw something long, glowing and white appear above the treetops, only to dive back down in them once more. I knew I sensed her presence. Houshi-sama thought, gazing almost sympathetically at Kagome who had been oblivious to shinidamachuu, the glowing soul collector that had appeared and then disappeared as quickly as it had shown itself. Kagome would not be pleased to know that undead miko, Inuyasha's former lover, Kikyou was nearby.

iI knew I smelled her! I wasn't sure at first, but now I KNOW it's her!/i Inuyasha thought anxiously as he ran towards the undead priestess. iWhat on earth could Kikyou be doing out this way?/i Unless she had new news of Naraku's where-abouts, the hanyou didn't know, but he had to admit he was anxious to find out and in a way, he wanted to tell Kikyou to get out of here before Kagome figured out what was going on. iWhy in the hell am I going to see her again though? I just finished promising Kagome that I'd never leave her side again...so what's drawing me here? I mean...I don't want to leave Kagome's side, not ever again. Kikyou, unless this is something important, I can't stay long./i The hanyou stopped as he had finally reached her scent. Gazing upward, he saw Kikyou laying leisurely in a tree. Her bow had been sat up against the base of it and her shinidamachuu slithered in mid air around her, singing their calming, siren song.

"Kikyou," Inuyasha stated as he stared upward at the woman.

"Inuyasha," she replied, allowing her soul collectors to gather her and lower her cold, clay-made body to the ground.

"Kikyou, what are you doing out here?" Inuyasha asked, still continuing to stare the woman. "Do you have any new information on Naraku's whereabouts?"

"No, Inuyasha, I do not. I merely fancied a stroll in the forest and found myself out here. I should be asking you what you are doing here. Shouldn't you be with Kagome and the others?"

"I...well..," stammered Inuyasha, turning his head away from Kikyou. Both Kagome and Kikyou always had a way of making him feel guilty for being with one or the other.

"Hmmm, you smelled me nearby and so you decided to seek me out, did you not?" Kikyou questioned, staring down at the half-demon. "Was there any reason behind it?"

"Well...I just...," Inuyasha began, but couldn't finish his sentence. iDamn! How do I tell Kikyou that I...I can't meet with her anymore? How do I explain to Kikyou that I've promised to stay by Kagome's side and promised to protect her? How will Kikyou ever come to understand that I...I think I'm falling in love with Kagome? No...I think I am in love with Kagome, I've just been too stupid to see it until now. I mean, I still love Kikyou but...the one thing keeping us apart is well, Kikyou's dead and I'm alive. I'll still avenge her death on that bastard Naraku, but that's all I can do for her./i "I thought maybe you might have had some news on Naraku is all. I figured you were coming after us to let us know."

Kikyou stared down at Inuyasha with her cold, dark gaze, but it held a curiousness in it. "Is that all you've come to see me for, are you lying to me, Inuyasha?" the undead miko questioned.

Inuyasha could feel his heart pounding in his chest. iI have to tell her...it's time to let go. I can't see her anymore...it'd be wrong. I've hurt Kagome so much, I can't do this to her anymore. I don't want to lose her because of this. It's tearing her apart and if I lose her, it'll tear me apart./i