"Again…" Kagome Higurashi hissed bitterly as she looked at the retreating hanyou's back. "Why does he always have to be such a jerk?"

Sango sighed understandingly and patted her friend consolingly on the shoulder. "You know that it's how Inuyasha is but sometimes I don't understand him either. You were only trying to help him but I guess he's too arrogant for your help Kagome-chan."

"Are you saying he doesn't like my help?" the teenager inquired softly, head now lowered as she stared at the ground.

The slayer bit the inside of her lip; she's as bad with words as that half-demon she realized. "No, Kagome-chan; but you've known Inuyasha longer than any of us, so wouldn't you know how he acts a bit better than the rest of us,"

Kagome crossed her arms and continued to silently fume at his behavior. You try to help someone and they snap at you, she thought acridly. Of course if Kikyou tried, most likely he'd let her. Kagome fought hard not to let a growl escape her throat. She hated feeling jealous over the priestess, especially when there really was no reason for it anymore. Kikyou had died in the battle with Naraku…

Maybe he's still upset, Kagome told herself. Glancing over her shoulder, she could barely make out Inuyasha's silhouette etched in the shadows. Her anger vanished for a brief yet interminable moment; she pitied him that he would try to carry all that grief by himself. And it hurt her even more that he wouldn't even try to talk about it. It has been three weeks since her death but he remained tight lip about the subject.

And Inuyasha got more violent when Shippo would start scolding him about still loving a dead woman. Kagome had to literally pry the hanyou off the kitsune since he dragged Shippo down with him as she told him 'sit'. She almost thought he killed Shippo in his temperamental state.

Letting out a heavy sigh, Kagome turned back to the fire, prodding it gently with a stick till the fire roared brilliantly.

xXx

When the dawn approached, a morbid silence enshrouded the entourage, only talking when they needed something to be passed to them. Kagome stuffed everything neatly into her backpack then hefted it onto her shoulders. Everyone was lost in their own thoughts, distant expressions plastered onto their faces; they thought of Naraku, wondering where he had disappeared to. Pondered about the loved ones they had left somewhere. Thought about the people they would never see again.

It wasn't until the sun reached overhead that Kagome suggested a quick break for them. Inuyasha didn't argue, only flopped onto the ground and lay back on the soft green blades.

"Inuyasha, here's your ramen," the girl said to the hanyou who sat several feet away from the others.

"I'm not hungry Kagome," Inuyasha called back. "Thanks for the offer though,"

Miroku choked on his broth while Sango's eyes bulged in astonishment; he didn't want ramen… and he said it politely too. Now someone has to set him straight the monk and slayer thought simultaneously.

"Kagome," Miroku asked quietly, turned his head to get a good look at her. "Don't you think it's time you talked to Inuyasha about…Kikyo-sama?"

The girl suddenly scowled darkly, eyes narrowing as she folded her arms across her chest. "I already tried to help him and he bit my head off. Even when she's gone from the world his thoughts are all on her like usual, so I decided if he doesn't want my help, all I can do is resent and pity him,"

Sango gulped at the harshness of tone Kagome had used, Kirara and Shippo watching her warily while Miroku sighed calmly. He wondered if Inuyasha knew that his lingering regret and guilt were pushing Kagome away, and if he did, he either needed a push in the right direction or a blow to the head for being an idiot.

"Would you like us to talk to him Kagome-chan?" asked Sango, her eyes flicking back and forth between them.

Shaking her head Kagome let out another pensive sigh. "No, I'll try to talk to him again," she said as she took her own cup. "And if he doesn't want to talk… then I'll leave him alone,"

"You are worried about him though," Sango stated gently, idly moving her chopsticks around in the noodles. "I would say to give him some time, but only the gods are sure how long it'll take for him to get over her passing."

"If he ever does." Kagome whispered, more to herself than anyone else.

Shippo pursed his lips and cocked his head at an arrogant angle. "Baka inu," he spat while he sipped another mouthful of noodles. "He needs to get over it, and besides, he has you Kagome so I don't know why he still sulks about it."

"Maybe—" Kagome was about to tell him something when the hanyou came over, a blur of red and silver as he took the kitsune's food and made his mouth kiss the dirt.

"Maybe you guys should stop talking about me while I'm only a few feet away," Inuyasha reprimanded them casually, lifting the cup to his mouth to drink the rest of it. Reaching down quickly, he grabbed his instant-ramen and spun on his heel back to his spot.

"That was mine Inuyasha!" Shippo shouted angrily.

The hanyou scoffed and waved a hand dismissively above his shoulder.

"That frigging mutt," the child whispered crossly, swearing vehemently that he'd get back at him for it.

Kagome didn't know why, but a smile adorned her face at that; someone just needed to breach into the barrier Inuyasha erected around himself. If Shippo's insults could get him back to normal for a minute, then he wasn't completely hopeless.

Chiding the fox kid primly, Kagome began making him another cup. Yeah; she'll help him out.

xXx

The girl sat in her sleeping bag, patting Shippo on the head as he slept on. Night seemed to have come earlier then expected and she knew that now was the perfect time to talk to Inuyasha about his problems. He still doesn't like to talk to people about them, she knew that much, but Kikyou's death was a good place to start.

Carefully laying the kit back onto her sleeping bag, she walked slowly up to the tree where Inuyasha settled himself into. "Hey," she whispered up at him.

Inuyasha's ears twitched at the young girl's voice, eyes opening languidly as he turned to look down at her. The half-demon jerked his head at her, waiting for her to continue with whatever she wanted.

"Come down," she whispered again, motioning for him to get out of the tall tree.

Grumbling something incoherently under his breath, he hopped down, gracefully landing right beside her. "What?"

"Let's take a walk,"

Raising a brow, Inuyasha eyed her suspiciously. "Why now? We could've done it earlier,"

"Because now's a good time." She replied primly.

Shaking his head in disbelief, Inuyasha acquiesced, albeit reluctantly. Following in step behind her, the silver haired male was alert around his surroundings, flicking an ear at whatever noise reached them while his nose tried to detect a scent.

Deeming it safe, he lowered his senses by a notch, and kept in stride with the girl in front of him. Kagome then halted in her tracks, causing the hanyou stop and carefully examine her, wondering what she was going to do now.

"Inuyasha," she murmured.

"Yeah?"

Turning around to look at him in the face, Kagome's eyes were transfixed on his, as though trying to peer into his mind and see what was going through it. Inuyasha noticed this; he was always able to see the intentions of people, especially when they look at him like that. His eyes automatically hardened; throwing the young girl off when she caught the gaze he was now giving her.

"Why do you always do that?" questioned Kagome.

"Do what?" he retorted.

"Keep people away; why can't you just trust me Inuyasha and tell me the truth?"

Why should he be truthful? He thought to himself. Veracity and trust means little to him. Years spent in the shadows, taught him the cruelty of the world, that he was not meant to live without a purpose. Dirty half-bloods had no meaning. And being honest; he tried that during the first naïve years of his life. It led to being whipped ferociously, tossed aside to be stomped and kicked till he could no longer feel the pain.

What did this girl know about anything he went through?

That was just it; she'll never know. Kagome might want to understand why he acts the way he does, might want to help him through whatever ailment his heart was feeling. But it darkened over the years by the growing hate he felt towards humanity and the demon society. It wouldn't be good for her to share the burden he carried in his life.

Kikyou had done that and it led to her death. He just couldn't let that happen again with Kagome.

"I can't," he murmured softly, a tone she never heard him use.

Kagome cantered over to him, tilting her head to meet his eyes. "Why can't you tell me? All I want to do is help and you're too dense to understand that I care!"

"And can't you understand that caring about me will lead you to suffering?" Inuyasha lashed out.

That did it. Kagome took a step back, her hand finding her heart that thumped wildly at his words. Damn him, she thought resentfully. He can't do everything by himself and he keep trying to.

Grabbing him roughly by the haori, Kagome shook him vehemently, his face indifferent as he looked down at the top of her head. "You bastard! Are you telling me that I should leave you alone?"

"Yes," he replied readily, golden orbs flashing. "I want you to stop trying to understand me when you never will. I don't want you to understand the pain Kagome so I'll remain quiet whether you like it or not."

"You'll allow Kikyou into your heart but not me? Even though I love you just as much as she did?"

"It's true that I let her know parts of my past, but that was only because we shared the same pain. We comprehended our needs for secrecy and that if we wanted to talk, we would. I loved her Kagome," he continued, hands clenched tightly into fists.

"I loved her like nothing else because she accepted me despite my being a half-demon; I loved her because she ignored the whispers and comments. I let her know what I felt because of my love for her, and it led to nothing but fifty years of damnation. I won't let you become my mistake!"

A mistake… she thought and even in her mind, she strained to hear herself. He sees me as the next mistake…

"I suggest getting rid of whatever else you had planned," he said without remorse. "I want you to know I do appreciate what you try to do; but I don't want to repeat the past Kagome."

Turning around, the half-demon walked back down the forest path, leaving the girl behind with her thoughts. Sinking to the floor, the teenager let the tears fall, coursing hot streams down her cheeks. So, it's true; she could never fill in the place in his heart, but not for the reasons she had assumed. It wasn't because he didn't love her, or the fact that she resembled the miko.

It's because he didn't want another mistake.