The guys came walking back into the clearing a little time later. They stopped in their tracks at what they saw.
Kagome sat in a deep mud puddle covered from head to toe in mud and Sango and Shippo were rolling on the ground, howling in laughter.
Kagome's cheeks were blushed so darkly that you could make it out even through the layers of mud that caked them. "It's NOT funny!"
Sango sat up and tried to reign in her laughter and tears, "Yes it is." She managed to say before beginning another giggling fit.
Inuyasha walked up to Kagome and held out his hand to help her up. " What happened?" He asked gently.
Kagome sighed and took his offered hand. " I slipped and fell down in the DAMN mud puddle."
Inuyasha was a little taken aback by the word that had just left Kagome's mouth. She walked over to her backpack and picked it up. "Inuyasha will you come with me please?" She asked sweetly.
Inuyasha looked at her stunned, "Huh?" was all he could manage.
Kagome looked at him and smiled. "Well it's creepy in those woods at night. And I'm not sleeping with this mud caked everywhere. There is mud in places I don't even want to think about." She looked at him with an expression that could only be described as a puppy dog face, " Pwease." she asked again.
Inuyasha, maintaining his and Miroku's ruse, nodded excitedly. "Of course I will." He smiled.
She returned his smile and began walking into the woods. "Of course you will keep your back turned. Won't you Inuyasha?"
Inuyasha blushed lightly, but muttered an audible "Yes."
Sango watched as her two friends retreated into the woods. She was no longer laughing, but a smug smile was playing across her lips.
Kagome and Inuyasha reached the hot springs. "Now turn around so I can undress."
Inuyasha did as she said instantly, only turning around when he heard a small splash, signaling that Kagome had entered the water.
Kagome sighed. "This feels nice."
Inuyasha sat with his back to her against a small boulder. "Kagome, how did you get all that mud on you?"
"You saw me Inuyasha. I got it from that stupid mud puddle."
"Yes, but it's not like you fell in it on purpose. What I wanted to know was, what happened that landed you in that puddle."
"Oh." She said as she began washing away the mud. "Sango, was teaching me some fighting stances and hand to hand combat and I slipped when I was trying to do a kick the way she was showing me."
Inuyasha snorted with a small laugh. "Why were you learning that anyway? You're good enough with your bow and arrows."
Kagome smiled and blushed. She wasn't expecting him to say something like that. "Well I just want to be able to defend myself if it ever comes to the point where I don't have my bow and arrows."
Inuyasha smiled to himself but just simply said, "Oh."
They both fell silent for a while until Kagome spat out, "Shit!"
Inuyasha jumped up his hand instantly on his sword, "What is it?"
Kagome sighed, "I can't reach my back to get the mud off of it. Um. . . . could you help me?"
Inuyasha jumped back, "Huh? You want me to HELP you?"
Kagome turned to face him. The water high enough where even her breasts were covered and with the steam from the hot springs he couldn't see through the water. "I just need you to come in and wash my back. Please Inuyasha, I can't leave it caked on like this, it's beginning to itch."
Inuyasha's ears twitched nervously as he took off his haori and hakama and in only his under kimono waded into the water.
Kagome smiled and handed him her loofa and turned around to give him access to her back. "Thank you." She said as he stepped up closer behind her.
Inuyasha swiped the loofa over her back not even erasing a single layer of the mud.
"Inuyasha, you're going to have to actually wash it off. If a small swipe like that would have worked then all I would have had to do was splash some water on it to wash it off. This stuff is thick."
"Right." Inuyasha started to wash her back using circular motion. Watching as her muscles twitched with each pass of the loofa. "I never knew her back was so smooth." He thought to himself. His bare hand grazed her skin. "Like silk."
Kagome reached up and pulled her hair out of the way so Inuyasha would have better access to her back.
Inuyasha stared at her back mesmerized by the movements of her muscles. "If only the steam wasn't so thick I could see---" Inuyasha shook his head. "What am I thinking--- WAIT! Did she just moan?"
"Mmmm. That feels nice."
"She DID! She DID moan!" Inuyasha thought. "I. .. uh I'm finished. You're back is clean now." He said aloud. Without waiting for her to respond, Inuyasha was back on the shore-line dressed and sitting with his back to her again.
Not long after, Inuyasha could hear Kagome walk out of the water and get dressed. Movement behind him finally forced him to turn around. Kagome had climbed up on the boulder and was sitting there with her feet dangling in the water looking at Inuyasha. "Come sit up here." She smiled, patting the area of rock beside her.
Inuyasha moved to sit beside her.
"It's peaceful tonight." Kagome commented.
"Keh." Was all Inyasha offered as a response.
Inuyasha quirked his ear and turned his head to the side. "What's so funny?"
"It's just that word is your favorite, I think. But you can't really call it a word can you. 'Keh' it's more like your favorite sound."
Inuyasha looked away. "I guess." They fell silent again. Suddenly, Inuyasha felt a soft warm hand slide over his and entwined it's fingers with his. Looking down he quickly realized, in shock that it was Kagome's hand.
"What are you doing?"
She laughed softly. "I'm holding your hand."
"Why?" Inuyasha asked confused and then he remembered how he was suppose to be acting. "Uh, the last time I tried to touch you, you 'sat' me, remember."
"Well, I've been thinking about that." She gave his hand a gentle squeeze. "I think I over reacted a little bit. I kind of like the switched roles that you and Miroku are forced to play. I'm kind of glad you got into Shippo's mushrooms."
"You. . .you are?"
She laid her head on his shoulder. "Yeah. Like I said, I've been thinking. . .and I think I would be more than happy to bare your children Inuyasha."
"HUH! You. . . you would!"
"Yes. I woul---"
"WHAT'S THAT? COMING MIROKU!" Inuyasha jumped up and took off into the woods.
Kagome giggled. "Funny. I didn't hear anything."
Inuyasha came running in to the camp ground. He didn't even stop as he grabbed Miroku by the collar and drug him out of the other side of the clearing. He continued draggin Miroku until they were a good distance away from their camp. Once Inuyasha was satisfied that they wouldn't be over heard he dropped Miroku unceremoniously on his head.
"INUYASHA!" Miroku said rubbing his now aching head. "What is going on?"
Inuyasha began to pace. "This will work great! You said. The girls will never know. You said. They will be nice to us and show us pity and kindness. You said."
"Yes I seem to recall saying those things."
"Inuyasha, what is going on?"
Inuyasha stopped pacing and faced the confused monk. "SHE came on to ME!"
Miroku laughed, "Who? Lady Kagome?"
"Yes." He hissed.
Miroku looked at him. "Perhaps you are reading too much into the situation. What exactly happened?"
Inuyasha plopped down next to a tree, leaned back and told Miroku all that had happened at the springs.
"Wait! You got to see Kagome naked?"
Inuyasha looked at him. "No, you idiot. I only saw her back."
"And then she told you that she over reacted and that she would gladly bare your children?"
"YES! Isn't that what I JUST said?"
A large grin broke over Miroku's face. "Well you lucky dog, you."
"Lucky? . . .LUCKY! This is not lucky this is bad. I don't know how to handle a situation like this. She's not suppose to . . . you said that she. . . ."
"Okay, calm down. This is what you will have to do. Lady Kagome will surely not act like that with the rest of us around. So all you have to do is stay with the rest of the group."
"What if she wants to talk to me or something?"
Miroku shrugged. "Make an excuse. Stay close to me and I will help you. We will figure this out. Just don't go blowing our story yet. This is getting to be really fun."
"Fine!For now." Inuyasha said and then headed back to the camp, with Miroku in tow.
Shortly after Inuyasha and Miroku left, Kagome came waltzing into the clearing with a smile on her face.
"Did it go well?" Sango asked.
"Perfectly." Kagome laughed and then yawned. She looked over to her sleeping bag where Shippo was already fast asleep. "I think that I am going to go to sleep."
Sango laughed, "Me too, actually." She walked over and curled up next to Kirara as Kagome climbed into her sleeping bag and situated Shippo so they would both be comfortable.
"Goodnight." She said to Sango.
"Goodnight." Sango replied. They were both asleep by the time the two guys returned to the camp.
The next morning every one awoke early so they could get on their way. They could not afford to wait for the "mushrooms" to wear off so, with much deliberation and down right begging from the girls the guys finally changed back into their proper clothing and they were on their way.
Inuyasha walked ahead of the group, with Miroku walking in between the girls and him. Around noon they stopped for lunch. Shippo and Kirara ran off to play in a nearby field. Sango stood while they were waiting for their lunch to cook. "Miroku, may I speak to you please?"
Miroku immediately stood. "Well of course Sango." He began to walk towards her. Inuyasha cleared his throat loudly. And when Miroku looked back at him, he shook his head. Knowing that Inuyasha didn't want Miroku to leave Inuyasha alone with Kagome, he just gave Inuyasha a look that clearly said that he was sorry, but going anyway.
"You coming?" Sango called as she walked away.
"Yes." Miroku answered and followed after her.
Miroku caught up with her as they walked over a hill, that hid the campsite from view.
Sango sat down and patted the ground beside her. Miroku lowered himself down beside her. "You wanted to talk?" He asked roughly.
"Yes." Sango said simply.
"'bout what?" He spat.
Sango sighed, "About that." She said.
"I don't know what yer talking about." Miroku said.
Sango looked at him, "I miss the old Miroku." She said blushing slightly.
Miroku looked at her incredulously. "What?!"
"Don't you miss it?" She asked. "Don't you miss this?" She took his hand and hers and placed his hand firmly on her behind.
Miroku snatched his hand back and stared at it as if she had just stuck it in the flames of their camp fire. "I. . .uh. . ."
"I know that I am always mean to you." She said in low voice. "But it's just because I don't want the others to know how much I like it. "I mean sure. I really don't like your womanizing. But when you pay attention to me, like you used to. . .well I like it. And the truth of the matter is, I really would like to bare your children."
"Sango. . ." Miroku was speechless. "I never thought she felt like THAT!" He thought to himself. Suddenly his hand was moved again and placed resoundingly on her thigh.
"Uh. . .uh. . .WHAT! COMING INUYASHA!" Miroku jumped up and took off back towards camp.
Meanwhile. . .
As soon as Sango and Miroku cleared the hill and were out of sight, Kagome stared to slowly scoot closer and closer to Inuyasha. Inuyasha was so deep in thought once again about their conversation at the Inn that he didn't even notice until Kagome moved herself into his lap and was staring into his eyes.
"Where are you Inuyasha?" She asked him.
He blushed at their close contact but didn't attempt to move her. "I'm right here." He said to her.
She smiled. "Physically yes. But you were off somewhere else deep in thought just now. . . .where were you?"
Understanding what she meant he rolled his eyes and said in a low tone. "It doesn't matter." "If you only knew Kagome. If you only knew what I was thinking about, then you would hate me. You would run back to your time and never return. I couldn't stand it if you did. So I will never tell you." He thought to himself.
"You left me again." She said leaning her head on his chest.
He looked down at her and managed a weak smile, "Sorry." He said.
"I wish you would talk to me Inuyasha. It's not like I'm going to judge you or anything. I just want to understand yo----"
Suddenly Kagome was dumped on the ground as Miroku came running through the camp grabbing Inuyasha and dragging him away from the site.
Kagome just sat their mouth agape.
Sango came walking back over the hill. "Where did he go?" She asked Kagome.
Kagome opened and closed her mouth once and then again before giving up on speech and just pointing in their direction.
"MIROKU! Let go of me!" Inuyasha spat.
Miroku let go of Inuyasha and turned to face him, "THIS is bad!" He said as he sat down. "This is VERY bad!"
"WHAT is?" Inuyasha asked him.
"What about her?" Inuyasha asked clearly getting agitated. Secretly he had liked having Kagome where she was and was angered a little, at the fact that Miroku had pulled him away.
"She . . . came on. . .to me!" Miroku said as if out of breath.
Inuyasha arched his brow, "There's no way!" He said disbelievingly.
"I swear! On my honor as a monk. She came on to me. She said that she actually missed my . . . um. . .lecherous ways towards her. She said that she always liked the attention I gave her."
"Then why is she always beating you up when you touch her?" Inuyasha asked.
"She said that it was because she didn't want you guys to know that she liked it. And Inuyasha, she also said that she would love to bare my children."
Inuyasha sat there,stunned into silence.
"It's obvious that this magic mushroom business has forced the girls to finally face their feelings towards us." Miroku sighed. "I think that maybe. . .we return the favor."
"WHAT!" Inuyasha hollared.
"Well, if they know how we feel about them then maybe everything will be fine."
"And just what do you think they will do when they find out that the magic mushrooms were a fake."
"Hm, Good point. But I don't really see any other way around it." Miroku looked at Inuyasha seriously. "We have to tell them the truth."
Inuyasha looked at him and closed his eyes and mumbled, "I can't."
Miroku looked at his friend and shook his head. "Whatever is holding you back, you need to let go of. Nothing can be as bad as you make it out to be."
"This is." Inuyasha said simply.
Miroku sighed, "Well you better come to terms with it quickly, because as soon as we stop for the night, I am going to tell Sango everything. And surely even if YOU don't tell Kagome, she will."
Inuyasha stood up, "Get everyone together and start heading out. I need to clear my head. I will catch up will you later." He walked away.
Miroku looked at Inuyasha's retreating back and shook his head again. "You love her my friend. I'm just not sure why you won't let her see it." He got up and walked back to camp.
As he arrived he smelled the alluring aroma that was ramen. As he sat down, Sango handed him a cup of the flavored noodles and smiled when her hand grazed his.
"Where is Inuyasha?" Kagome asked, worry evident in her voice.
"He said that he had somethings that he had to think about. He told me to tell you all that we were to go ahead with out him and he would catch up."
Kagome sat there silently. She knew what he did when he went away alone. He went to see her. The one person Kagome wished she could hate, the one person, she never did hate, Kikyou. Kagome sat there lost in thought wishing Inuyasha was here sitting beside her. A single tear rolled down her cheek and fell into her ramen cup. "Why couldn't he see what was right here in front of him?" She thought, "Why did he always have to run to her? Did he prefer Kikyou's cold, unfeeling embrace to her warm, loving one?" These thoughts only managed to make her want to cry more. So with a sigh she stood and began cleaning up their trash. Careful not to let her friends see her face. "We better get going." She said after all the trash was picked up and the fire extinguished.
Miroku and Sango stood up. Kirara jumped into Sango's arms and Shippo into Kagome's.
Kagome turned to her friends and smiled, "Let's go." She said walking back onto the road that they had been following.
Inuyasha sat high in a tree. His head leaned back and his eyes closed. "How can I possibly tell her how I feel? There is no way she would really accept me." He growled in frustration and swatted at a bird that dared to fly too close. He began talking to himself out loud. "I do love her. That much I admit." He sighed. "I don't even remember falling. I just remember when I finally realized that what I feel for is love. But what do I know!" He growled again as guilt over took him. "But what about Kikyou? Don't I still have feelings for her?" It was at this time that his inner beast decided to speak out.
"Of course you have feelings for her, but that is all they are feelings. Yearning for the past, you do not love her. You're weak human emotions make me usually very sick but your indecision make me want to kill us."
"You will listen to me. You will hear me out, now."
Inuyasha sighed, knowing that there was truly no way to suppress this inner voice he heard.
"Why do you continue to fight? Kikyou tried to kill us."
"But that was fifty years ago!"
The voice growled at his naivety. "The first time was fifty years ago. And even I will admit that you two were tricked. But what about the more recent times, huh?"
"Why are you doing this? Why won't you leave me alone?"
"Why?! Because, Kikyou is weak. You're love for her faded the day Kagome removed the arrow from our heart. Kagome had filled the void left there by that arrow and you fail to see it."
Inuyasha looked up at the sky, "What are you saying?"
"Kagome is the one we want. Kagome. . .is the one we love."
Inuyasha felt lost. . . confused. "Why Kagome?"
"Because she loves us both." With those words the inner beast fell silent.
Inuyasha's eyes got wide. He understood exactly what the beast meant by that. Long ago Kikyou, the woman he had thought he loved, wanted to change who he was. Wanted him to be different from what he truly was. And because he THOUGHT he loved he was willing to do as she pleased and change. But now fifty years have passed and what he thought was love was nothing more than a childish crush.
"Kagome." Inuyasha said her name aloud and let the wind carry it away. Here was the name of the woman, he realized that he truly did love. Not only did she trust him completely the moment they met, but never once did she ask him to change anything about himself. Every time she learned something new about him, she would never complain or say anything harsh. She would only compensate herself to accommodate his true person. Not once in his lifetime did he think that anyone would ever accept him, let alone his inner beast, but Kagome had proven many times over, that she was not afraid of who he was and had proven that she trusted him in any form. That is what his inner beast meant. When it said "She loves us both." It meant that She would love him no matter what. That she loved him for who he was and didn't WANT him to change.
He sat up and slapped himself in forehead. "How could I have been so STUPID!" He looked around and noticed that the had almost sank completely beneath the horizon. He had been sitting in this tree for hours.
He went back to the campsite and pick up his companions scent. More importantly he pick up the fading scent of Kagome's tears. "Why had she been crying?" He didn't understand, but he wanted to. He rushed off to catch up with them.
Running as fast as he could thirty minutes later he caught up with. Having decided on his next actions as he ran. He didn't stop has he swooped through the group grabbing Kagome in his arms and shouting "WAIT HERE!" Over his shoulder as he disappeared from site with Kagome held tightly against his chest.
He finally came to a stop when they reached the destination he had been searching for. He put her down gently and then sat down. They were sitting on a rocky cliff. The mouth of a cave behind them and the moon hanging beautifully in front of them.
"Inuyasha." Kagome said quietly. "What are you--
"Why were you crying, Kagome?" Inuyshas asked, interrupting her.
She sat quietly for a minute or two and then sighed. "Because. Because you went to see Kikyou."
Inuyasha was taken aback by her answer. "What makes you think that?" He asked her.
Kagome began to tear up again. "That is where you always go. When ever you disappear, it's so you can go see her. I just wish. . ." A tear escaped her eye and ran slowly down her cheek.
Inuyasha reached out and brushed the tear away. "Please don't cry." He said gently. Another tear fell and again he brushed it away. "I didn't go to see Kikyou today. I. . . I went to think. I had somethings that I needed to sort out."
Kagome turned, and looked him in the eyes. "And did you sort them out?" She sniffled.
He smiled, "You can say that."
Kagome tried to prepare herself for what came next, but tears began to fall freely down her cheeks. "And?" She managed to choke out.
"I sat up in a tree for hours thinking about things. Thinking about you. . .thinking about Kikyou."
Kagome inhaled sharply as Kikyou's name fell off his lips.
"My heart . . ." He stopped and collected himself. He had never bared his soul to anyone before and it wasn't easy. "My heart, has been in turmoil, ever since I met you Kagome. I wasn't even completely ready to accept the reason why, until the beast started talking."
Kagome looked at him, confused, "Beast?"
Inuyasha nodded. "My inner beast. It helped me figure some things out.
Kagome was intrigued despite herself. "What did it do?"
Inuyasha looked at her and smiled, "It made sense." He paused and took a deep breath before continuing. "You twist my heart in knots without even trying. You make it soar when you are around and it sinks into my stomach when you aren't. I. . ."
"What about Kikyou?"
Inuyasha sighed, "I am so sorry."
She took a deep breath and begin to sob harder.
Inuyasha placed his hand gently over hers. "I am sorry, that I have caused you any pain, running to her. I was lost. .confused. I didn't realize what I was really feeling. I spent so much time wanting Kikyou to forgive me, that I began to think that I loved her. And I don't."
As he said that Kagome looked up hopefully into his eyes.
"I don't love her, Kagome." He continued. "I. . . I love you." He whispered.
Kagome choked on her tears and laughed happily when she heard those words. She could hardly believe her ears. Suddenly Inuyasha scooped her up and sat her in his lap. He took her chin gently with his fingers, tilted her head up and softly kissed her lips. Kagome began crying into the kiss.
Inuyasha flattened his ears against his head. "Please." He said. "Please don't cry Kagome. If you want me to, I will leave. I will understand if you do not really want me."
Kagome stared at him, stunned, and the giggled. She reached up and rubbed the tip of his ear. "I'm not going anywhere. And if you try to leave I'll purify you."
"But. . . then why are you crying."
She smiled as he gently wiped her tears from her face. "I'm happy." She cooed. "Each tear, is happy."
He grinned widely and quickly caught her lips in a deep passionate kiss.
Kagome pulled back and looked deep into his amber eyes. "I want . . .no I NEED to hear you say it again, Inuyasha. So I know I'm not dreaming."
He chuckled. Leaning down and placing a small kiss on her neck he whispered in her ear, "I love you. . .MY Kagome."
She shivered as his breath ran over her ear and down her neck, "I love you too, Inuyasha. I always have. I never thought that you would---"
Inuyasha silenced her negative thought with another kiss. "It doesn't matter what you never thought." He smiled and stood, bringing her with him. "We better get back. I'm sure the others are worried about you." He picked her up bridal and took off into the night.
During Inuyasha and Kagome's talk, Miroku and Sango were having a moment of their own. . . .
Miroku stood watching Inuyasha disappear with Kagome into the night and smiled. Before he knew it Sango was standing next to him, grinning, "Where do you suppose they're going?" She asked him.
"To talk." He said bluntly. "Like we are." He took her hand and led her off of the road. "Shippo," He said turning back around, "can I count on you to get camp ready?"
Shippo stood with his little chest puffed out in pride, "Yes sir. I'll have the fire burning bright when you get back."
Miroku nodded and continued leading Sango into the woods. They stopped in a clearing and he turned to face her.
Sango had, had time to think as he drug her deep into the woods and decided that he must be going to tell her about the mushrooms. So when he began to speak she spoke up first. "We know about the mushrooms." She said quickly.
Miroku looked at her. "You do?"
Miroku looked at her confused, "Then why did you say and . . . do those things? If you knew that I was myself."
"Isn't it obvious?" She asked.
He just stood their silently.
"I did it because. . .because, I knew that you thought that we thought you're personalities had been switched, so I thought that I could tell you the truth and you would think it wasn't." The words tumbled out of her mouth.
Miroku smiled, "So it was the truth, huh?"
Sango blushed and nodded her head.
"Well that is definitely great to hear." His said grinning from ear to ear.
"But, I can't take your womanizing, Miroku. Do you know what it does to me every time I see you with another woman or hear you asking them the bare you children? It tears me up inside." She said, a tear forming in her eye.
Miroku walked up to her and cupped her cheek in his hand. "I am sorry, my dear Sango. I never knew. I only talked to those other women because I wanted to have your attention." He reached up and rubbed his head, "Even if it did hurt every now and then."
Miroku continued, "When I met you, I knew then that there would never be another for me. You were it, the girl I dreamed about, the woman I love."
"Love?" She asked him hopefully.
He smiled and leaned forward, "Yes, love." He whispered to her. He kissed her softly.
"I love you too Miroku." She whispered back before he once again caught her lips with his.
They kissed until their need to breath became dire and then reluctantly broke the kiss.
Miroky lay his forehead against hers. "We should head back. We don't want Shippo and Kirara to get worried."
She smiled and nodded.
They walked back to camp hand in hand.
Just as Miroku and Sango walked through the trees surrounding the camp, Inuyasha landed next to the fire, Kagome still in his arms. He gently set her on her feet but kept his arms around her.
Miroku who had his arm wrapped around Sango's waist smiled at Inuyasha as the walked up to the fire. " You got everything figured out I take it?" He asked Inuyasha.
Inuyasha looked down at Kagome and then back at the monk. "Yes. For once I think I do." He smiled. "And you, I see you have it all handled as well."
Miroku smirked, "Indeed."
Both girls giggled and wrapped their arms around their guys.
Shippo sat on a log watching the scene unfold. He looked at Kirara and then at the two couples holding each other and smiled, "Who would have thought that Sake Water and Magic Mushrooms would have made such a powerful love potion?"
Kirara just mewed softly and shook her head.