Disclaimer: I don't own any characters from Inuyasha, it's the sole property of Goddess Romiko Takahashi, and I cannot take credit for her genius.

Kagome is a college student unaware of the mortal peril she is in. He's a bitter silver - haired Adonis with a checkered past and a vow to protect humans. So when the two meet, it's a given that fireworks follow…

A/N: And I am back…after a long hiatus during which my grandfather's passed away, I got married, and subsequently shifted to America....I am back at the computer typing my fingers away. And here it is – Chapter 19! I hope the long wait has not diminished your enjoyment of this chapter…and of course, please review!

Chapter 19


Taking Sides

Rin stumbled into her room, and then closed the door before the concerned two males could follow her in. She could hear Miroku muttering something to Sesshomaru as they moved away from the door, relieved that they had been relatively civil to each other. It could have gone so very badly. She could just picture Sesshomaru skewering Miroku on his lethal claws for some perceived misdemeanor and the mental imagery raised goosebumps across her skin.

As the murmurs faded into the distance, furious echoes of another voice resounded in her mind. She leaned her head against the wooden door as she recalled the hateful words that the irate hanyou had branded her with. Her entire body was supported by the door, as the memory of what she had nearly done turned her legs into water. She wanted to melt into the floor; shame, anger and hurt gripping her in its relentless tentacles. Bile rose in her throat, and she ran to the bathroom, barely registering a very surprised Sango who paused mid-kata to stare at the fleeing girl.

She had barely made it to the bathroom before becoming violently sick. Trembling, Rin sank to the floor, the cold bathroom tiles making her shiver. She did not know for how long she sat there, clutching herself, her unseeing eyes trained inwards. It was a measure of her despondency that she barely registered Sango's presence even when the fighter helped her to her feet and walked her to her bed.

"Rin, Honey, are you all right?"

Rin felt Sango sweep her hair back from her face, and the small action warmed her heart. For years, she had had no female companionship and had missed the gentle care of her own gender. Sango's words and compassion had opened the scab from her wounds and all the pain and the hurt that she had kept deep within her, poured out from her. She hugged the fighter tightly, loud shudders rocking her body as she attempted to keep her traitorous tears at bay. She had cried too many times before this, but for the first time, she felt lighter as Sango rubbed her back in comfort. "It's all right, Rin, it will be fine. Just relax!"

Slowly Rin's shivering lightened and she subsided, taking deep breaths to clean her very soul. The entire time Sango stayed by her side, comforting her and giving her strength. When she felt she was relatively calm, she gave the fighter a wobbly smile. "Thanks, Sango! I'm glad that you were here with me." She hesitated, her eyes lowering and her hands twisting in her quilt. "I'm sorry that you had to see me like this. You must think me a fool for losing it like this!"

Immediately, Sango shook her head. "Don't be silly, Rin! I can understand. Sometimes Miroku has the same effect on me. Only, instead of being hurt, I feel like bashing his head in." Rin gaped at the fighter and shook her head, but Sango continued without paying attention. "By your condition, I can see that he tried one of his hentai moves on you. Did he try to force you? If he did, I will be glad to punish-"

"Stop it!" Rin's angry voice gave Sango pause and she stared at the furious girl's face. "Sango, I don't know what your problem with Miroku is, but you don't have to jump to conclusions and accuse him of such a despicable act. He would never try to hurt me in any way. Your prejudice against him is absolutely unwarranted."

Sango got off the bed, a cynical smile on her face. "Oh, he may not have troubled you today, but its only time before he does. You may be blind to his depravity, besotted as you are with him, but I know him very well. He is a disgusting pig with only one thing on his mind. He may act very nice and proper with you, but believe me that it will only last until he has had his fill of you. After that, he'll probably drop you like a hot brick and move on to the next girl who catches his eye. That's Miroku – a faithless, bed-hopping pervert!"

A protective fury arose in Rin. She did not even take a second to mull the other girl's words, or to give any credence to them. She growled, her small frame quivering in indignation. "No, he is not! You may have known Miroku longer than I have but clearly you don't know him. Have you not seen the goodness in him? His gentleness, his careful nature, his protective instincts? You call me blind, when your own hate and prejudices prevent you from seeing the man that he is. You don't know anything about him and so I don't think you have any right to judge him." Her eyes roamed Sango's face, hoping to non-verbally communicate her conviction and confidence to the fighter. Not for the first time did she wish that she was allowed to tell the fighter about the real Miroku, the one who had beaten Kouga to unconsciousness for daring to mess with her, the one who had held her in her bed and comforted her without touching her improperly, the one who had accepted her without judging her, the one who was courteous, kind and helpful... The Miroku that Sango could not and would not see. "Why do you hate him so much, Sango? What has he done to you that makes you despise him to this degree?"

The fighter huffed and ignored the question. "Then if it is not the wonderful Miroku who made you cry, then who was it?" She gave Rin a once over and her voice sharpened. "Did someone else accost you? Are you all right?"

Rin shrugged, her voice pensive "Am I all right, hmm? Now, how to answer that?" She glanced at the waiting fighter and then moved to change out of her wet clothes, shrugging lightly. "Sango, have you ever wanted something so badly that it hurts to think of it, but then you realize that because of who you are and what you have done, you can never have it? Have you ever felt that crushing loneliness, that debilitating despair, that over-whelming unhappiness? If you did, you would understand what I am feeling."

Sango sat down on the bed with her back to Rin and laughed, the sound as sharp and brittle as broken shards of glass. "You are asking me if I understand loneliness and loss? I, who lost everything I held dear in a single swoop…" Her eyes closed and she took a deep breath. "I have plumbed depths of unhappiness you could not even imagine! I empathize with you, Rin! I know how hard you fall when your dreams come crashing down. I too have wanted something so badly that I would give my left arm for it. Today, I thought that I would lose it all…that all that I had worked for would come to nothing. But then the Kami had some pity on me and sent in an angel to help me and now I have regained hope. You too should not give up hope. I'm sure one day your dreams will come true."

Rin pictured Inuyasha's sexy smirk in her mind, and shivered, not sure whether she actually wanted her erotic dreams to come true. Wanting to change the topic, she zeroed in on the fighter's words. She knew that the fighter would not appreciate being questioned about her past, especially since it seemed to be a particularly painful one and so, she focused on the other part of her speech. "You said something about losing it all today? You want to talk about what happened?"

The fighter frowned before smoothing her expressions. "Ya, why not! You'll get to know of it anyway." Her voice sharpened, at once cold and forbidding. "I broke up with Kouga. He…he took off. Just like that, out of the blue, he refused to coach me. For a moment there, I thought that I'd lost everything. I thought that all my hard work had been left to waste, by his one stupid act. It was one of the worst moments of my life."

Having changed into warm clothing while Sango was preoccupied with her own thoughts, Rin moved back towards the bed, sympathy and curiosity rampant in her. She raised her hand to comfort the stiff fighter, but thought better of it and dropped it, moving instead to sit beside her on the bed. The first signs of vulnerability and sadness in the usually tough girl had sparked her interest and she probed shamelessly. "I bet it was! You must have been crushed. What happened then?"

A raised eyebrow met her question. "Does this look like twenty questions to you? Or did you think that I was your personal bedtime story teller?" Sango stalked to her bed, when Rin's soft words stopped her in her tracks.

"This Angel must be one-heck of a fighter, if you've agreed to let him, or her, coach you."

Despite her intention to not react to Rin, Sango whipped her head back to stare at the girl in absolute shock. And, then she burst out laughing. "That should teach me to try to hide something from you. Sharp little cookie, aren't you?"

Rin grinned slightly. "So I am right!"

The fighter inclined her head a fraction, a small smile on her face. "Oh, he is the best. Remember, I told you guys about the monk that fought Kouga at Knockout? Well, he's agreed to be my coach. And, I just realized that all my notions about his skill were incorrect. He is just so bloody good!"

Her mood rapidly improving on hearing the underlying excitement in Sango's voice, Rin smiled. "Is that why you were doing your katas this late at night? Trying to improve for our new coach, are we?"

The slight colouring of her cheeks gave the truth away to Rin, even though Sango tried to bluster her way through. "As if I would do that for some human! No, I was just practicing…uh, to stay limber and in shape for the competition."

The word 'human' started a chain of random thoughts in Rin's head, and she stared into space, her thoughts leading her to a strange conclusion. 'It can't be, can it? That would be too much of a coincidence!' Her mouth opened slightly as she stared at the fighter, who was once again warming up in the middle of the room. She cleared her throat slightly, not sure why she had even thought of it…but not able to get rid of the sneaking suspicion that she was right. "Sango…your new coach, uh, is he…he is…uh…I mean, what does he look like?"

Sango stopped in mid-stretch, raising her head at the thread of uncertainty in her room-mate's voice. "Already tired of Miroku, are you?" When Rin gave her a pointed look, she shrugged. "Can't help you on that one, I'm afraid. He wears a somen…one of those full-faced samurai masks. So, I have no idea what he looks like, though I'm extremely curious about it myself. All I can tell you is that he's tall, has shoulder-length black hair and is quite lean and fit. He's fast, very fast and strong." She bent to touch her toes, her voice muffled against her knees. "It's strange but I sometimes get the feeling that I know him…I mean besides from 'Knockout'. As if I have met him somewhere…"

Suspicion steadily firming into certainty with Sango's words, Rin lay back with a smile. "Oh, you never know, he may be quite closer to you than you think."

Sango looked up sharply, but Rin met her gaze with an innocent smile. "I mean he must have been nearby to have come to your aid." Beaming, she winked at the fighter before closing her eyes, leaving a bemused Sango staring after her.

It was only some time later, as the thoughtful fighter finally finished her katas that she realized that she still did not know why Rin had been upset. As she stared at the sleeping girl, she felt the strangest feeling of kinship and protectiveness within her. She knew that Rin had wormed her way under all the barriers that protected her heart to really bond with her. If there was another female besides Kagome that she liked and could stand to be around, it was her sweet little room-mate. And seeing Rin upset did not sit well with her. A frown painted her face, as she decided that she would get to the bottom of the mystery. If anyone tried messing around with Rin, she would come down like a ton of bricks on him, especially if it was the prince of bakas, Miroku!


A very pensive and serious Miroku entered his dorm-room, dripping water all over the floor. He knew that the he should have been more careful about tracking slush and dirt all across the dorm, and on another day, he might have stripped buck naked to avoid having to deal with the supers later, but tonight he did not care. His mind was moving a mile-a-minute, trying to get round the mystery that was Rin…and her uber-enigmatic master.

To Miroku's mind, in light of his previous experiences, everything about the youkai had been strange and out of character. He had been kind and courteous with Rin, even showing signs of truly caring for her, and had even let him off easy for his trespasses and wrong assumptions. While he appreciated those actions a lot, since he liked having all his limbs intact, the behaviour was not entirely consistent with how a master should behave with a pet and any male close to the pet, let alone the pet's pretend boyfriend.

He kicked his shoes off and switching on the light, walked towards the bathroom. 'There's something fishy going on there, and I intend to- What the FUCK?' Remnants of his once prized couch lay scattered on the floor, like discarded confetti, its broken, mangled frame reminding him of a shattered skeleton of fresh road kill. Eyes wide, he wondered if their room had been broken into, but one quick look assured him that the rest of the room was untouched.

And just as untouched and remote was the silver god who sat on the window ledge, his feet dangling into space, a beer bottle dangling carelessly from one hand. Messy bangs hid his sharp golden eyes, his face coated with a fine sheen of rain. If not for the barely perceptible rise and fall of the hanyou's chest, Miroku would have thought that it was a superbly crafted statue that he was gazing at. Concern for his friend had him moving towards the window. "Inu, what the fuck happened here? Is everything alright?"

Inuyasha raised his head at the sound of the voice, a single pink eye cracking open to look at the one man he both loved and hated at the moment. His closest friend…his unaware rival. The man who he had betrayed so horribly and the man who deserved to get cuckolded. The man who he should get down on his knees to confess to and the man who he should punch for mistreating Rin. Shaking his head at the conflicting thoughts, he closed his eye again, mumbling into the dark. "Does it matter, Miro? Does it matter at all?"

Taking off his sopping wet vest, Miroku threw it towards the bathroom, where it hit the door with a splat before sliding down to the floor. "The fuck does that mean? Quit this nonsensical crap and just tell me what happened." The boy squatted and began collecting the larger chunks of foam and stuffing, when a disturbing thought came to him. "Hey…did the session with Akane get a little out of hand? I hope…I hope you didn't lose control or anything?"

A soft growl was Inuyasha's only reply. He hated the fact that in a way, Miroku had hit the nail on the head. He had lost control of his senses and had acted instinctually, giving into his immense desire for the enigmatic whore. Though the charge was technically correct, it was the wrong girl Miroku was worried about and that somehow worsened the hanyou's guilt. He shook his head to get the hair out of his face and then swung his feet back inside the window. Seeing Miroku trying to dispose off the one proof of the fact that Rin had wanted him fueled his irritation even more and before he could stop himself, he flung the empty beer bottle against the far wall, snarling. "So what if I lost control? At least I have more control than you and don't go about fucking every woman who as much as smiles at me." Miroku snapped up his head to look at the hanyou, a shocked expression on his pale face. But there was more venom, and heartache pent up in Inuyasha and he continued, mercilessly. "And talking about control, at least I don't commit to a relationship and then step out of it whenever my resolve weakens, which it does almost on a regular basis. So, don't you talk to me about losing control, when you can't be loyal to your own bloody girlfriend for more than 5 fucking seconds!"

During the diatribe Miroku had stood up abruptly, the carefully collected chunks and debris in his lap falling unnoticed to the floor. Inuyasha jumped off the window ledge, his body trembling from the effort of holding back, hoping that his friend would hit him. He needed to relieve his anger and frustration, and a brawl with one of the sources of those emotions was looking extremely attractive to him. He needed to hit something, and Miroku was currently headlining his 'to hit' list.

Moments passed in silence, both males staring at the other. A slow frown marred Inuyasha's angelic face as Miroku continued to hold his silence. The Miroku that he knew was always quick to respond to any attack on his character and his choice of lifestyle, and so this still silence was something that was both surprising and unnerving for the hanyou.

A feather could have knocked Miroku out at the moment. He had already been hurting under the weight of the powerful youkai lord's accusations. The additional burden of having Inuyasha turn on him in such a vicious manner and once again, criticize the sort of man he had become was just too much for him to bear. His legs crumpled beneath him and he sat down heavily on the bed, unmindful of his wet trousers. His eyes were shut, and his face pale, as he muttered at a pitch that even Inuyasha had difficulty catching. "Another stake through my heart, another sin tacked on my karma! Sure, I deserve all of this and more for how I have treated them, but Kami, will the scales never tilt back?" Without opening his eyes, he raised his voice "I know, my friend, that I have messed up, but I will change. I promise you that on my honour!"

Inuyasha blinked, taking an involuntary step backwards, unable to process this new Miroku. This was not the same irreverent friend that he was used to and it was this change, this alien-ness that stemmed the flood of anger that he so desperately wanted to unleash on someone. He wanted to spread his pain out. Why should he be the only one who was miserable? It was only fair that Miroku should be as miserable and unhappy as the hanyou for his unwitting role as Inu's tormentor.

But this Miroku looked too much like a whipped puppy for Inu to get any pleasure or satisfaction from teasing and troubling him. He wondered what had transpired to make the human so despondent. It must have been something extremely serious, and it was that realization that made the hanyou put aside a large part of his anger and frustration to enquire about well-being of the one man who had stood by him through thick and thin. Probing his ashen-faced friend, but not too gently given his current frame of mind, he rasped, "Miro, man, you look like shit! What's the matter? Did I hit a nerve or two?"

The truth danced a frenetic tattoo on Miroku's tongue before he swallowed it again, seconds before it escaped him. It would have been a relief for him to finally get it all off his chest but his past was too shameful for him to risk his friendship with the bitter truth. Not for nothing had he played his cards so close to his chest for so long. It would be unwise of him to risk it all because of a few moments of relief, since this was clearly not the right time or right person for him to confess all.

Choosing the least controversial but in no way the least important tangle, he shrugged. "I messed up, Inu! Really badly! Someone…" His eyes closed in despair as he recalled the heated barbs bandied at him by the majestic taiyoukai. Swallowing the tangy taste of disgust, he looked at his friend and sighed. "Someone showed me a mirror and it was an ugly reflection that stared back at me. A twisted image that was both painful and horrible to see." He shook his head, his voice dropping. "How was I so blind to the outcome of my actions? How did I not see what I was doing to Rin? I am a right fucking bastard for making her suffer!"

All the banked anger came surging back, Inuyasha stiffening at the name of his nemesis. He couldn't help thinking that once again, somehow, it was all about her. That once again she had emerged as the source of all their misery, the one who had twisted their easy lives into an intricate Celtic knot. Sometimes he just wished that she had never waltzed into their lives with her innocent face and manipulative ways. But then that small, alien part of him rebelled at the thought. It wanted her franticly, to punish her for besting him. It wanted revenge plain and simple. And nothing less than making her submit to him would do. Maybe it was petty of him to hold such a strong grudge against her for that one incident since he had been going a little easy on her, but it was a primal instinct that he could not ignore. His ego had been hurt terribly and nothing short of having her on her back and owning her body would appease it.

And, Miroku was right: he was a bastard and worse for what he had done and more importantly for what he forced Inuyasha to do. If the human had not been randy and had had a faithful relation with Rin, Inuyasha would never ever have given in to his desires. He would have avoided the vixen if he had to but he would not have hurt his friend like this.

In a dry voice pulsating with thinly veiled loathing, he rasped. "Making her suffer? Ya rite! I'm sure she's suffering all right every time she…" Inuyasha look a deep breath before he said some ugly truths that he was sure Miroku would not appreciate. Certainly not in the mood that he was in right now. "Forget I said that. Just…tell me who you're talking about…was it Kasumi?"

Miroku blinked at the reminder. The date with Kasumi seemed ages ago, something both meaningless and entirely forgotten. "No, not her. I just…I mean…oh Kami! All these girls mean nothing to me and still I hurt Rin for them. I wound her with my inattentiveness, and with my cavalier attitude. Everything that I have done and more importantly everything that I haven't done just makes it worse for her." Inuyasha's mouth dropped open at the lost look in Miroku's eyes. He seemed to be babbling, words tripping so fast out of his mouth that it was difficult making out exactly what the hyper man was saying. "I should have known. Hadn't I recognized it the first day we meet? It was clearly visible in her eyes. The same wariness, the same mistrust, the same unhappiness. You can always trust the eyes…"

In two steps, Inuyasha was standing over the shivering boy, shaking him. "Snap out of it man! You're not making sense!"

Miroku stared at the hanyou in surprise for a few seconds, before ducking his head. "Gomen! I…I think I just got carried away a bit!" He sighed, clutching his head with his hands. "This is all such a big fucking mess!"

"Are you going to tell me what happened, or do I have to beat it out of you? You can't keep acting like such a drama queen all the time!"

If it was possible, Miroku grew paler, though his dead eyes blazed with sudden anger. He stood up so fast that Inuyasha had to back pedal to keep from falling. "The fuck does that mean! I'm no fucking bloody drama queen! You got that, asshole? Or do you want me to explain it to you in terms that your fucked up pea-brain can understand?"

Amazed by the sudden change in his friend, Inuyasha wondered if that brawl was a good idea right now. Though his anger was still strong, concern for his long-time friend, over-rode his aggression. Raising his hands in surrender, he shook his head. "You know I didn't mean anything by that, Miro."

And just like that the fight was gone from the man. He sagged back to the bed, shivering slightly. "I…I saw Rin tonight!" He bit his lip, unsure of how he wanted to continue. For a fleeting moment he considered editing Sessy-sama entirely out of the recounting, before rejecting it. He trusted Inuyasha with his life and was sure that the hanyou would understand. "S-she was with…with her Protector." When Inuyasha didn't respond, his voice dropped. "When I saw them I was so fucking scared. She was crying and he…he was furious. I thought he was attacking her and ran to her help. He was…he was…impressive. For a few minutes there I thought that it was time to join the Kami. He would have sliced me apart like Sushi, but she calmed him down in a second! Bloody brave of her. I would never have had the guts of approaching such a dangerous and powerful youkai. But she was amazing!"

Miroku was so wrapped up in properly editing the story to remove all mentions of his holy powers and his ability to read the youkai's power, that he missed the tension in the hanyou's body.

For all the emotion that his face betrayed, Inuyasha could have been turned to stone. But inside him, a volcano of rage had erupted. His voice reasonably detached and steady, given the boiling lava flowing through his veins, he muttered. "You found her…with a Youkai? And you are sure that he was her Protector?" Miroku's nod made him want to roar. He could not believe that the slut had left him to go to a youkai. It hurt his ego that despite him taking care to pleasure her and be gentle with her, she had left him for another, even if he was her master. That the pleasant scent of her arousal had been for the faceless youkai and that he had been the one to make her scream in pleasure. Even as he imagined how he would vent his wrath on the duplicitous little viper, making her beg him to be taken by him, a small part of him grew concerned about her getting in trouble with her master because of him. He knew how brutal some protectors could be with their pets when displeased by their actions and so feared for her safety. "She's fine? He didn't hurt her or anything?"

"She was…fine." Miroku struggled to describe what her condition was, but could not get into specifics since that would involve divulging the girl's secrets. He did not think Rin would want anyone, even if it was Inuyasha, to know that she had been molested. "Anyway, the youkai came to know about our…relationship. It was strange! He was so calm about it. He actually THANKED me for looking after her and berated me for not treating her well." Confusion was rampant in the man's voice. "Do Inus generally behave like that? Are they that open about sharing their pets with others?"

Inuyasha's bland face gave nothing away, though his ears vibrated with tension. His voice dripped icicles as he snapped out. "Inu? Her Protector is Inuyoukai? That's fucking great!"

For the first time since entering the room, Miroku smiled, though it was a weak facsimile of his usual smirk. "Yep, a rather good looking Inuyoukai! A fair, tall, silver haired Inuyoukai with golden eyes and teal-blue markings. Resembles you quite a bit, come to think of it."

Though he nodded offhandly, the hanyou was fit to be tied. Not a frown marred his forehead, even as he seethed inside. "Ya, whatever! Go get changed before your balls shrivel up like prunes."

Thinking that Inuyasha was merely embarrassed, the man blew him a kiss. "Sure! Later, beautiful!" Smiling slightly, he made his way to the bathroom, leaving an extremely volatile hanyou behind.

As soon as the door closed, Inuyasha growled, his eyes flashing a malevolent crimson. It was just too much for him to bear to realize that once again he had been used as a replacement. The thought that Rin…RIN was using him in place of her protector made him livid. He wanted to tear something apart, and if he had the fucker's scent, he would have tracked down this amazing and powerful youkai and shred him to pieces. The urge to destroy was strong in him, and he swiped at the already mangled frame, splitting it further with loud twangs as the tension was released. Again and again, his claws carved up the remnants of the couch till there was nothing substantial left for him to destroy. He let out his breath in a whoosh, his stress and anger purged from him for the time being. He was glad that Miroku had left the room, for he was not sure that he would have been able to control his blood-thirst if the human was there.

Cracking his knuckles, he grimaced at the mess he had made. He squatted and began clearing the place, though his thoughts were centered on a certain bitch that needed to be taught her place. A thoroughly cruel smile adorned his face, as he imagined all that he would do to her.

'Run Rin, if you can, but I will take you. I will have my revenge and this time the only person you would think of is going to be me.'


The sun was high in the sky when Kagome awoke slowly, a deep languidness coursing through her body. She felt sinfully good and relaxed, her body telegraphing her state of bliss to her sluggish mind. Every part of her body was buzzing and she felt on top of the world. Yawning delicately, she stretched, feeling her muscles pop and loosen up.

Mid-yawn images from last night, played across her mind and she nearly swallowed her tongue. Her face grew red and she quickly grabbed the quilt to cover her naked, flushed body. Licking her lips, she carefully peeked from the corner of her eye at the other side of the bed. To her surprise there was no one there. Taking courage and heart, she scanned the room to get the same result. Of course, Kikyou was sleeping in her own bed, but nothing silver and gold, and built like a god could be seen in the sun-soaked room.

With a relieved smile, Kagome hugged herself. It was not that she regretted what she had done or was scared of Sessy, not at all. It was only that she would not have been able to quite meet his eyes knowing what they had done. She would have been tongue-tied and immensely shy, and it was a relief to know that the sophisticated and suave youkai would not see her behaving as a bumbling fool.

She lay down again, feeling the cool sheets caress her heated skin sensuously. She felt depraved and sexy, and too giddy at having had, what she was sure, was the best sex ever. A pleasant throb from between her legs gave credence to the fact. Thoughts of the sexy Inu had her hand straying across her body slowly as she retraced the path his hands had taken. Only awareness that there was an Inuyoukai with an extremely sensitive nose sleeping in the other bed, kept her actions more or less chaste.

A wide smile graced her face as she remembered that she was now in a relationship. She, the girl who had had never had more than a few simple kisses from a gay guy was now in an intimate relationship with a sexy, dangerous youkai. It was a heady feeling to be appreciated, to be wanted, to be desired… Murmurs from her conscience arose deflating some of her happiness. 'Yes…that is all fine. But exactly, what is this relationship that you are in? Are you dating or mere fuck-buddies? Does he care for you at all or would he only drop by when he wants an itch to be scratched?'

Pressing her hands to her eyes, she remembered the smoldering heat in Sessy's eyes and gave a mental shrug. 'I will take whatever I get from him.'

Not impressed, her conscience berated her. 'You are being a fool by thinking so lowly of yourself! A person like you deserves more than that. You should have his entire loyalty.'

Her good mood evaporated as she sighed. 'I too want to be more than someone who he rolls across the sheets with. But I am too much of a realist to believe that a gorgeous youkai like him will stoop to be with me, when he could have his pick of females, human or youkai. So I will be content with whatever he gives me.'

Her conscience was biting. 'Really? And if he turns out to be mated or in another relationship, then? What will you do, Kagome? Should you not have clarified that before jumping him?'

Kagome shook her head mutely, furious with herself. She could not believe that she had completely forgotten to clarify this point with Sessy. But then, his kisses were so potent, so drugging that she had hardly remembered her own name, much less negotiate the terms of their 'relationship'. Matters were not helped by the fact that she had no means of contacting him, no way of knowing when he would meet her again. Though he had warned her that he would not reveal much about himself, his abrupt departure from her room while she slept had precluded the exchange of even the most basic information.

Decidedly angry with herself, Kagome sat up in bed. Wrapping her arms around her knees, she tried to sort her messy thoughts. Despite the room being fairly filled with sunlight, her mood had darkened. Now that she was more rational, she was certain that the youkai would not return, that he had used her and giving her memories of a lifetime, left her. It was then, as she castigated the youkai to the lowest of the seven hells for his callousness, that a sudden sparkle on the bed caught her eye.

On investigation she found that the dazzling sparkle was caused by an errant sunbeam dancing across a silver bracelet lying by her pillow. Her eyes widened, a soft gasp punctuating her amazement. She picked up the finely wrought piece of jewellery and examined it carefully. It was made of braided silver, its fine tensile links cool to her touch. 'It's…Beautiful!'

Beautiful? It was more than just beautiful. It was exquisite, entrancing, elegant…it was thoughtful. She knew that the youkai had left it for her and the thought that he had cared enough to leave her an expensive and beautiful gift brought a smile to her face. All her doubts dispelled by the gift, she dared to hope of a future for the two of them. Even as she wondered at the odds of him coming to her tonight, she gently stoked the bracelet. A part of her noted the metal that was so soft to touch seemed quite tough and diverted of her mental musings, she tested her theory by rubbing the links between her fingers. Kikyou's restless movement on the far bed brought her back to the present and she probed the bracelet for a secret clasp, since it was an unrelieved chain of links with no opening or fastening that she could see.

At her wit's end with the bracelet, Kagome attempted to push her hand though the tight chain of links in frustration and was pleasantly surprised when her hand slipped through with ease. The bracelet shone and sparkled on her arm and Kagome could not help but notice just how pretty it looked on her. She stroked the bracelet lovingly, admiring its delicate look.

'Bloody fucking hell!' Sesshomaru swallowed a moan, each turn of her finger on the bracelet sending pleasurable tremors through his body. It was no ordinary bracelet that he had left for Kagome, but this was one side-effect that he had not expected.

After returning to his dorm-room, he had quickly fashioned a protection charm for his principal and lover. Using strands of his silver hair, drops of his poison and miniscule traces of his youki, he had created a rough bracelet that was beautiful enough to be of value and strong enough to withstand her ki. Not only would the charm enable him to keep track of her and to let him know when she was in trouble, it would also act as a lock on her rapidly burgeoning powers. In this way, Sesshomaru could be assured that her powers would remain hidden for some time so that she would be safe from attacks like yesterday's powerful assault. It was obvious to him that her angel charm was weakening and would not be able to hold back her powers for long. He knew that someone or something had noticed her surge of ki that day and it was for that reason that he had fashioned the charm to hide her strength from all malevolent eyes. It was lucky for him that her ki accepted his youki, strange as it was, for it was that favourable condition that had made the bracelet possible. As it was, he had only injected a minute amount of youki into the silver links, enough to hide her but not be easily detected. After all he did not want any of the other youkai or, god forbid, Inuyasha to wonder why she, as a human, was emanating youki.

He was happy, satisfied…and bloody uncomfortable. It was exquisite torture that Kagome was bringing down on him, just short of being intolerable. He squirmed again despite his determined efforts at holding his avatar's body still, as she fiddled with the blasted bracelet. Her touch on the cool metal seemed like a soft caress on his skin, the gesture hitting him straight in the gut due to the presence of his youki. It was taking every ounce of his will to avoid jumping the girl, but it was tough…and she was making it tougher.

Fascinated by the way the bracelet felt on her skin and the way the sunbeam made it shimmer and sparkle, Kagome again rubbed it gently. A rough growl made her glance up, straight into deep chocolate pools glittering with a very familiar and very disturbing emotion. The raw hunger in Kikyou's eyes unnerved Kagome and more so when the youkai's gaze dropped lower. It was only then that Kagome realized that her blanket had fallen to her waist, leaving her torso bare for the youkai's perusal. And peruse, the youkai did. A slow, lazy examination by those fevered eyes that scorched her, almost branding her. Despite wanting to cover herself, awash as she was in a flood of mortification, her limbs refused to move. Beyond understanding, explanation or comprehension, all she could do was to stare back at Kikyou, her heart thudding loudly as she remembered Kikyou driving her crazy with her very talented tongue. She shivered as the youkai's searing eyes rose to settle on her lips, wanting to melt under the heated gaze.

'Kami what is wrong with me. I don't like her that way…then why does her staring at me make me feel giddy…and why do I wish that she would cross the room to touch me. Why do I want her so much? It makes no sense…'

A growl broke the spell cast on Kagome and she quickly raised the blanket till her chin, her cheeks pinking at the sudden icy mask that descended on Kikyou's face. No matter how hard she tried to find it, there seemed to be no trace of the earlier heat in Kikyou's flinty eyes. "I trust you had a good night, Kagome?"

The cool arrogance on the youkai's face drove her back up and she nearly hissed. "Yeah! It was fine!"

Not pleased with her offhand response, Sesshomaru persisted. For the first time since he had lost his virginity those long years ago, the youkai was curious to know if a female had enjoyed being with him. Generally he would care less about the women with him, since only his pleasure and satisfaction was of any importance to him. Being an inconsiderate lover he had never stooped to enquire about his performance since the opinion of a mere female in matters sexual did not interest him. But with Kagome it was different. He wanted her to tell him that she had enjoyed being with him, that he had left a lasting impression on her, that she was looking forward to their next meeting. Perhaps it was because she had been a virgin or perhaps because she was his friend and principal…or perhaps because he had gone above and beyond his usual sexual selfishness to actually pander to her desires. Whatever the reason for his burning need for affirmation, it was not being fulfilled by her short and to the point response. His eyes flashed in annoyance, before he hid it behind his stoic mask. "Fine? The markings on you seem to suggest that it was more than just fine."

Eyebrows shot up as she screeched. "Markings? He marked me…He MARKED me?" She frantically pulled the quilt far enough from her chin to peer at herself. "Where? Where?"

Laughter danced in the youkai's eyes. "Not that kind of Mark. I was referring to the multiple marks of passion that you are sporting all across your body."

Kagome's cheeks pinked to almost the same shade as that of the multiple discolorations that shone against her fair skin. She bit her lip, both shocked and embarrassed that Kikyou had seen enough of her skin to see the numerous marks that blazed across her torso. A nervous smile in her voice, she grudgingly acceded. "Perhaps it was…a little more than just fine!" Kikyou's raised eyebrow reminded her so much of Sessy that she giggled. "Oh, fine…it was great…and more."

Appeased by her words and yet still hungry for more praise, Sesshomaru prompted her shamelessly "Really? Do tell me more!"

"Ah, Kikyou, he was magical. It was an experience most sinful. I thought I would simply die due to the overdose of pleasure. A most considerate lover, her pandered to me. I actually felt cherished."

The blushing girl's words entranced the youkai and he could not help teasing her about his avatar. "He's a better lover than this Kikyou?" He then grinned to himself as Kagome turned scarlet at the not so subtle reminder of their night when he was Kikyou. Not that it was an empty query. The question of her preference – Kikyou or Sessy – had been niggling him for some time.

Clearing her throat and patting her burning face, Kagome tried to answer Kikyou's petulant and not a little jealous question. She felt bad that the female youkai still held hopes for having a lesbian relationship with her despite her previous refusals. Trying to find the right words to gently dissuade the inu, Kagome grimaced. "Kikyou…I'm sorry but I am with Sessy now and I don't want you to have the wrong impression. You and me is just not going to happen. If you find it difficult to accept, I can request for a change of rooms to-"

To her great surprise, instead of lashing out in anger, Kikyou laughed. "Nah! I like you as a dorm mate. It's fine. I wish you and your Sesshy all the best."

Relieved, Kagome let out the breath that she had been unconsciously holding. She too liked sharing a room with Kikyou and had not wanted to change their living arrangements but did not want any awkwardness to occur later. So it was a relief for her to see Kikyou accept her defeat with such good humour. It was a good thing that the female Inu had no idea how unsettled she could make Kagome or she would have been pushing her suit with more confidence. Shaking her head at her suddenly complicated lo…er…sex life, Kagome wrapped her quilt carefully around herself and ignoring Kikyou's amusement, tottered about gathering her clothes.

A very lighthearted and content Sesshomaru watched his blushing lover escape into the bathroom. Her words had boosted his ego and he looked forward to showing her just how much more amazing he could get. 'Overdose of pleasure? She thinks that was magical…she has no idea of the heights I plan to drive her too. Ah, Kagome! I think I will enjoy this assignment greatly…'


"Heavenly, simply heavenly! He was just amazing! I mean, he made me feel things that I did not even know were possible. He was all male, strong, and dominant, and yet treated me like a queen, like he was under my spell. I've never felt so sexy or powerful in my whole life."

Sango toasted Kagome with her glass of red wine. "You sure took your time getting here, Kagome, but look how well it paid up...most people have awful first times. And you just landed yourself a prize catch!" Trying to include the mostly silent inu in the conversation, Sango smiled. "What about you, Kikyou? How was your first time?"

Not pleased with being dragged into this, Sesshomaru closed his eyes. His first time had been at a fairly young age when Sakura had decreed him ready. But there had been nothing romantic or soft about the whole affair. On that fateful night he had been placed in a ring with a vicious young female inuyoukai and been instructed to overpower and subdue her using only fang and claw, in order to claim her. Sakura had chosen his opponent well. The female had been lithe and extremely beautiful, and just as deadly. They had been well matched, and what the bitch lacked in strength she had made up with ruthlessness and well-honed skills. It had been a close call, with multiple injuries on both sides but in the end he had managed to overpower her in the most gruesome and brutal manner. The entire bloody spectacle that had been witnessed by his mother and her coterie of crazy fanatics, had teetered on the grey area between submission and rape but Sakura had called it 'showing the natural dominance and strength of a male over his female'. Now that Sesshomaru knew better, he called it 'bullshit'. He was disgusted with himself for his actions, but at that time his raging hormones and his mother's brain-washing had made him more into an animal than a youkai of honour.

Still two innocent young humans were waiting for an answer and so he let his imagination hold sway to bolster his limited knowledge of dating practices. "It was quite…uh… nice. This umm...youkai I met asked me out and…uh…we had a dinner date. And, well…you know…then one thing led to the other and I…um… we had sex. It was pretty natural." Noticing two pairs of raised eyebrows on matching incredulous faces, Sesshomaru rushed out a quick, "What about you, Sango? How was your first time?" to forestall the coming questions.

The girl in question blanched slightly, before narrowing her eyes. "Entirely forgettable! I was drunk and so was he. We were dancing and then he led me into his room. And, a few quick fumbles and quicker thrusts later, he was asleep and I was disappointed. Like I said, the worst sex of my life. Not that I care or anything. I'm so over it." Despite her words, her clipped tone revealed her residual anger over the issue.

Hearing this for the first time, Kagome couldn't help probing further. "Is that why you don't date humans?"

Casting an airy hand around, Sango smiled. "That could be one of the reasons, yes, but my 'no-dating human' policy is mainly because, no offense to you Kikyou, with youkai you know where you stand. You can depend more on their undependability."

For some reason the tough fighter's words evoked feelings of uneasiness in Sesshomaru. Her words…How sad was it that Sango viewed the world with such distrust that she fully expected others to let her down and made that the criterion on which she based her relationship decisions. Not for the first time he wondered what had made the fighter so bitter.

"But enough of that old shit. We're here to celebrate your new man, so to speak, and my new trainer, and celebrate it we will. It's going to be a paaaarrrty!"

The youkai raised his glass of juice along with the others, though his attention was snagged by a familiar smell. Despite the bistro being thickly populated with over-excited and over-hormonal college students, Sesshomaru's sharp nose had caught the scent of a nervous Rin who was closing in on them. He stood up, intending to intercept her and question her further about the previous night. But even as he stood, she was walking towards their table, her radiant face not betraying her earlier trauma and her residual anxiety.

"Hey guys! You started without me! Not fair. I heard that there's going to be a double celebration....and believe me, I need some drinks in me. Now!"

The girls laughed and called out for the waiter, discussing choices of drinks with Rin, not noticing how the silent Kikyou was trying to catch her eye. Left with no choice when the girl ignored him, Sesshomaru spoke up, his concern couched in obscure terms. "And, how are you today, Rin?"

Her eyes softening at the underlying emotion behind the jaunty sounding words, Rin nodded. "Much better than I was before. And I'll be even better once I get this Long Island Tea in me."

Even as she gave her order to the patient waiter, Miroku strolled in. It seemed to Sesshomaru that last night's events had impacted the perverted monk deeply. One look at his much too pale face had all the girls commenting about it. Only one of the three girls actually had some idea why he looked so despondent and worried, and she infused her smile with as much brightness as she could to try to comfort the man. Not that it fooled him one bit. Cutting through the clutter of Kagome's cooing and Sango's acid comments, Miroku focused on the one who he had wronged. "Are you okay, Rin?"

The other girls stopped talking at his husky question. Though Kagome grinned at Rin and nudged her, murmuring "How sweet!", Sango pinned the man with a furious gaze, still not convinced of his innocence in upsetting Rin.

"Really guys! I'm fine. Never been better. I swear it!" Rin grinned and held her hand up as if taking an oath but her bright smile dipped a bit as she spied a feral looking Inuyasha across the bistro. Her heart skipped a beat as she considered making a quick getaway before he reached their table. But even as she thought of it, she rejected the thought. It smelt too much of cowardice for her to be comfortable with it. Of course, it would also alert her friends to the fact that she wanted to avoid Inuyasha and that would open up a whole new can of worms with Sesshomaru and Miroku. So she sat primly, nodding occasionally, even though she never heard a word of what was said. Aware of the two pairs of male eyes that constantly monitored her face, reading every expression on it, she carefully kept her nervousness and jitteriness well hidden.

It seemed to her that the silver headed devil took an inordinate time to cross the crowded bistro. An entire age, in which her heart quickened and her stomach clenched uncontrollably. An era, in which she prayed to the Kami that he would in no way mention her indiscretion, for then the fat would be in the fire. An eon, in which she wished that she could gather enough courage to watch him as he walked towards her. An entire lifetime, in which she ached for his touch.

And then he was there. She raised hesitant eyes towards him, but he surprised her. In a voice as near snarling as he could get while being civilized, he bit off clipped questions. "Kagome? Why the fuck do you smell like sperm-stained vermin? Have you fucking bloody well lost your mind? Mother of God, do you have absolutely no brains left? How could you do something so utterly stupid?"

All attention save that of the tense inuyoukai, swung towards the blushing Kagome who despite her pink cheeks managed to glare at Inuyasha. "Yes, Inuyasha! This is exactly how I wanted to inform you guys about my new relationship. By having you blurt it out in such a stupid manner. Thank you so much for your help!"

Muttering obscenities under his breath, Inuyasha sat down in a chair besides her, grumpily kicking the chair next to him. "Ya whatever. You stink of a mongrel and it doesn't take a genius to figure out what you've been up to. I didn't expect this from you. You disappoint me!"

Sango hissed at the censure. "Fuck you, Inuyasha! Don't you get all prudish and judgmental when you and gigolo boy can't even keep your own pants zipped for any length of time."

"Hey, watch who you're calling gigolo boy! I'll have you know that I'm reformed now." Miroku's wan words caused a moment of silence before Sango erupted in a hoot of laughter, muttering a derisive "Ya rite! I've heard that one before!"

Sesshomaru was poised on the edge of his seat, but he was unsure whether it was to save Kagome from Inuyasha's cruel barbs or to whisk Rin away and comfort her. Torn, since he could do neither, he kept alternating his glances between the two women who meant so much to him.

Oblivious to the bickering that had erupted between the two arch-enemies on the other side of the table, Kagome frowned. "Go to hell, Inuyasha. My choices are my own. And you have no right to tell me what I should or should not do. I'm not a child anymore. I've never disapproved of your lifestyle choices and I had hoped that you would be a little more supportive of me."

Her words reminding him just how worthless and fucked up his life actually was, Inuyasha snapped his mouth shut. Though he was upset that his once virginal, perfect paragon of virtue had stepped off her haloed pedestal, he recognized that he of all people had no right to criticize her. After all, he was the one who was the man-whore, the one who was paid for sex. Still, the loss of his dream and his frustration with 'women-who-have-sex-indiscriminately' had riled him up and he spoke on, despite his head telling him to shut up. "Supportive, sure, I can do that. So, tell me about this mutt you banged. He give you that bauble as payment for services rendered?"

Three pairs of enraged female eyes skewered him, while Miroku shook his head in despair. Inuyasha noticed that his words had managed to antagonize even the cool Kikyou who was staring at him as she would at some disgusting slug. Still the words had been spoken and could not be taken back. He had just opened his mouth to give some sort of apology when Kagome answered his taunting words so glaciously that he could just about see the ice form around him. "Yes, Inuyasha, he did give it to me. It was thoughtful and very sweet of him to give me a gift in addition to giving me such an amazing night. Not that you have any understanding of such matters never having had a girlfriend for any significant period of time." There was pin-drop silence on the table and for the first time, Sesshomaru realized that Kagome was more than just a pretty face and a good heart. The way she was chewing up Inuyasha in her soft, icy cold voice was impressive. But it seemed that the girl was not through for she continued. "I made a choice and a fine one it was. So, yes, as you so crudely put it, I did bang this gorgeous inuyoukai and I plan to do it again. And again! Since there is nothing that you can do about it, I guess that you will just have to live with it."

Shame flooding through him, Inuyasha sighed. Once again he had out his foot in his mouth and had hurt the one person who actually made him feel, well, normal. He needed her approval and acceptance like the flower needs the sun, like the sinner needs the priest, like the body needs air. Her cold words were actually cutting him apart and he was pretty sure that he would end up bleeding from the numerous verbal lacerations. He did NOT approve of what she had done, but he could bear it. For Kagome, he would have to. "I'm sorry Kagome. I…I…don't know what had come over me. I didn't mean all that stuff. Forgive me? Please…"

In an instant Kagome melted at his puppy-eyed look. Sango made a sound of disgust and rolled her eyes as Kagome reached across and caught the hanyou's hand, squeezing it with a smile. "Don't worry! I'm used to you talking before thinking."

Her head bent as she almost stared a hole through the tablecloth, Rin avoided looking at Inuyasha. The transformation of the usually surly hanyou into the brash and angry creature who had verbally tried to shred Kagome, was too frightening for her. And to imagine that she had been in his arms just the night before. Maybe it had been smart of her to escape him when she had. This display of anger had done nothing to increase her trust in him but she was not sure why then that her heart still stuttered when he spoke. She ignored the conversation, all her attention focused on the sound of his voice.

At the other end of the table, Sesshomaru was not happy at the natural and comfortable way Kagome and Inuyasha were holding hands. That small act and their warm smiles, directed exclusively at the other, had sent strange emotions coursing through his body. To his surprise, he realized that it was jealousy that was gnawing at him, an emotion that had rarely made its presence made known in his life. He was so shocked that he missed the conversation around him and was thus unable to run interference.

Having got back into Kagome's good graces, Inuyasha's brash cockiness had returned in spades and he teased her. "So, what, I was not good enough for you that you had to look for another dog-boy? Thinking of replacing me, are you, wench?"

Sango snorted, "We can only wish!"

A giggling Kagome rolled her eyes. "No one is replacing you. I'm just getting myself another friend. A rather close and special friend. I think you will like him since he is Inuyoukai."

"Wow! Just because he is a full asshole doesn't mean I gotta like him. I don't think this meeting of dogs will go well."

Only half-hearing the conversation, lost as he was in a mire of self-recrimination, Miroku started at the word Inuyoukai, all his instincts going into overdrive. He stared at Kagome sharply, his mind processing her words and making the connections. He broke in, a marked frown on his face. "Sorry, did you say that your new boyfriend whom you met yesterday and spent the night with, is Inuyoukai?"

Surprised at his vehement tone, Kagome exchanged a quick bewildered glance with Inuyasha and Sango before shrugging. "Yup! Why?"

Trying not to show her trepidation, Rin immediately looked at Kikyou. She knew that as long as 'Kikyou' was around no other male Inuyoukai would have been allowed access to his principal. And that only meant that Kagome had been talking about Sesshomaru. 'How can he be so stupid as to take this step? Does he have any idea of what this would do to his already tattered sense of guilt? He cannot have actually broken his rule…that is something unthinkable. And to treat Kagome like this…I will have his hide for this! Oh Sessy, what have you done?"

Jolted into awareness by the sudden spike in Miroku's scent, Sesshomaru had just caught the end of the dialogue. Seething inside at the monk's meddling, he managed to keep an expression of polite interest on his face. He could see the slight censure on Rin's face but he knew that this was not the time to explain to her exactly what had happened. Especially since he was himself not sure how he had managed to get himself in this messy situation.

The single word had confirmed all Miroku's doubts but not wanting to create a mountain out of a molehill, he persisted. "What's he look like?"

Before Kagome could respond, Sango threw in a snide comment. "Now you going after guys as well? I know the girl pool is pretty much exhausted by you, but that would be a tad desperate don't you think?"

Inuyasha chuckled along with Sango, though the monk paid her no mind, his entire concentration on Kagome. For her part, the girl was a little confused. All her friends were acting weird and she could not put her finger on it, but a certain undercurrent of sadness and despondency, even anger seemed to pervade the air. All of them seemed on edge, a little volatile, as if it would take just a single wrong word for all of them to explode. Still, even though Miroku's intensity was a little overwhelming, his question seemed innocent enough. She answered carefully, keeping her description purposely vague, aware that there was a jealous and insecure hanyou listening to her. "He's tall and has these teal markings on his face. Long silver hair and a really cool attitude."

Nodding as if he had not been given the answer to a most important question, Miroku looked away and sipped his drink. When the attention was off him and Kagome led a toast to Sango's new coach, he casually glanced at Rin. Oblivious to the others, she was staring right at him. He leant closer and whispered to her. "I'm sorry but I have to tell you this. This boyfriend Kagome was talking about is-"

Wearily, Rin interrupted him. "I know!"

Furious with her calm acceptance of her master's infidelity, Miroku snarled softly. "How can you be so calm about this-"

Once again she interrupted him softly. "You don't understand this at all, so don't judge him!"

Flicking his eyes around the table to ensure that their furious whispering was not calling attention, he noticed Kikyou's eyes fixed on him. He dropped his voice further. "So make me understand, Rin, why you would voluntarily put yourself in this position."

Rin raised her desperate eyes to meet Sesshomaru's and then sighed. The almost imperceptible nod directed towards her by the stoic youkai gave her the much needed courage for her next words. "It is time. I will tell you all. Meet me tonight at the dorm house entrance, and I'll tell you everything you wanted to know and more. I will tell you the truth about me!"


A/N: Tada! Lots of clues pepper this chapter…let's see if you can figure them out! Next chapter will be up soon…and so will the next chapter of Ohayo San Franciso!

Read and Review…and make my day!!