It was hot, almost unbearably so, which was strange for him. Usually he could tolerate even extreme temperatures, but this heat didn't come from the environment, no, it came from his burning anger. And his rage was far beyond any extreme temperature.

"Damn that Kagome." He cursed, clenching his jaw and narrowing his eyes at the moving water in front of him, as if it was to blame for his sudden foul mood. As if it had somehow swayed Kagome to act as she did.

He was sitting, well lounging really, by a small creek not far from where he had left the others. The cool water sparkled as it swirled around the smooth gray stones dodging past obstacles it couldn't just plow through. He sat, watching the swirls of water rush by. He couldn't believe her. Wasn't it his right, his fucking obligation, to fight for his own dignity? No, she had to command him, make him behave and obey her when Kouga was there, no matter how insulting the ookami was, or how threatening, or how annoying. "Damn her!"

His ears twitched, an uncontrolled reaction, an instinct, but one long honed and well obeyed and he barely managed to dodge the strike as it came, a thick, tangled mass of vines impaling the ground where he had just sat, sending rocks and dust and whatever deposits of driftwood happened to be there. In an instant, before he even landed, he had drawn his sword and sliced down, using his falling weight, chopping into the thorny mass.

There was this shrill, whistling screech of pain, like wind being pushed through the fissures of a gorge. The vine shuddered and pulled back into the bushes, a retreat, folding in on itself like a coiled injured snake, writhing in its agony. Inuyasha had to fold back his ears against the noise. It wasn't painful enough to hurt him, not horribly at least, but he wasn't in any hurry to chase after the disappearing plant and get any closer to the source of the sound.

It was probably just a youkai hunting prey anyway, no bother.

Inuyasha waited until the fading screech finally died, then, sheathing his sword he turned back to continue glaring hatefully into the water. At least some of his anger had been relieved during the short, but adrenaline inducing fight.


Kouga trudged through the forest with the slowest, heaviest steps he could manage. He knew he was acting like a chastised pup, but why the hell did HE have to go find the mutt? Just because some argument they had ended with him face first in the ground and Kagome stomping off to places unknown, yet again. Of course, the very imposing taijiya may have helped to influence his current predicament, but only slightly. After all, he was not scared of some woman, a human woman at that. He wasn't.

With a sigh he tested the air, sure from the scent trail that Inuyasha was up ahead somewhere, and from the sound of it there was a creak. Maybe he could sneak up on the mutt and kick him into it. Yeah, that would make him happy, at least a little bit; though it probably wouldn't do a thing for Inuyasha's attitude other than ignite it, again.

He had one hell of a short temper.He could smell the dog just beyond the bushes and with him another, more putrid stench, if that was at all possible. Putting on a burst of speed to his trudging he broke from the trees and onto the bank in time to see Inuyasha strike down on a mass of thorny vines protruding from the forest and dangling out onto the sand.

Kouga stood, arms crossed and watched as the obviously weak youkai retreated into the woods with a shriek of rage and pain. Inuyasha sheathed his sword, not bothering or maybe not caring to check his surroundings to see what else lurked. Kouga smirked.

Cocky bastard.

He was about to walk over and follow through with his previous idea of knocking him into the water, cool off some of that hot headed arrogance, when he noticed something near the edge again, where a little sprout of a vine had started to slither back out timidly. Close to the ground, and moving with a quickening pace.

Kouga saw as it lifted up off the ground, pulsing, growing, thickening, knotting into a fibrous vine, shaggy with thorns and sliver-like bark it reared back like a snake ready to strike and the mutt hadn't noticed yet. Everything went by with a creeping slowness, but he realized as he shot forward, that it was all happening too quickly, and his mind was just stuck in slow motion. Shock, perhaps, of what he knew would happen, but he couldn't make his feet go faster.

The vine penetrated the middle of Inuyasha's back with a sickening ease, a horribly painful, but not altogether deadly blow to the hanyou, but the creeper didn't go straight through. In fact, it looked to be pushing into him, reaching inside.

It raised the body up even as Inuyasha swore and ripped into his own abdomen with his claws to sever the cord. Kouga stopped short as he watched that grisly scene, Inuyasha's own hand in his gut. At first it just looked like he was reaching into his haori, then the dark stain started to spread, darker, blacker. The metallic scent of blood hit Kouga in the face and his eyes watered by the sudden assault.

Blood pulsed from the chasm and despite Inuyasha's thrashing and digging the deadly vine pushed itself deeper within him.

Suddenly there was a loud crack, muffled slightly by squelching sounds of tissue being squeezed and torn. Inuyasha's body arched back in pain and his cry pierced Kouga's eardrums. Flecks of yellow foam spewed forth from his mouth and splattered on Kouga's cheek.

His head snapping to the side as if the stuff had stung he was pulled out of his trance and fell upon him, clutching his stiff limbs and scrambling for purchase on the ground. With grim determination he began to hack at the snare, trying to pry it from Inuyasha's entrails. Pieces of flesh and viscera spattered him as he dug and slashed at the vine. The vine fought back its tendrils flexing and joining together to form a claw; it sliced at him savagely. Vines lashed out like whipcords, lacerating Kouga's face with spiny barbs, and hundreds of small tendrils wrapped around his wrists, striking like serpents trying to pierce his skin. Kouga fought on, trying to ignore the assault. And though he had secured Inuyasha's body, the vine appeared stronger, yanking him forward in spasmodic motions, pulling him instantly toward the trees.Branches swept across Kouga, slapping him in the face, cutting his legs and arms, but he would not let go.

With a burst of strength be dug his heals in, feeling a jolt as he latched onto an exposed root, stopping the vine dead and enticing a shuddering cry from Inuyasha, his mouth open, his body slowly going limp, his struggling halting.

Inuyasha's skin started to take on a grayish pallor and Kouga felt his feet slip on the forest floor, wet and slick from his blood.

With a desperate cry of rage Kouga plunged his own fist into Inuyasha's stomach and gripped at the thorny mass entangling itself with the hanyou's spine, wrenching in out his front, sending splatters of crimson blood to land with the rest on the ground. When he felt the wriggling tentacles in his hand try and jolt back he released it, watching as it slipped back into Inuyasha's body in an instant and out the other end, hitting his spine and snapping it completely in two before it hit the dirt floor.

The tiny thread-like tendrils started snapping, their grasp on the bleeding hanyou not so strong without the larger vine and with a high pitched shriek of rage from the creature the two finally fell limply to the ground as it disappeared under the brush, Kouga's knees buckling under him.

Kouga stared down at Inuyasha, his breathing heavy and irregular. He had to get Inuyasha someplace safe, someplace his could heal. Precious life fluid was leaking from the veins injured around his spine Kouga could only hope they weren't severed completely and that they would heal quickly. If not, the mutt would be dead within minutes, and there was nothing he could do to save him. Gritting his teeth he gingerly picked the dog up, stumbling to his feet under the weight he turned around in a full circle, trying to get his bearings.

Blood coated whatever scent trail he left while traveling from the human's camp, he would have to make his way back to the mountainous crags in the center of the forest, a day's travel for a human, but for him, he could reach his companions in half an hour.

"Hold on," he muttered, "don't you dare die on me, I won't let you lay that kind of guilt on my shoulders you worthless Mutt." He didn't think he could bare the blame in Kagome's eyes.


The wild yellow grass they had collected from a nearby clearing was soft, warm because the wolves had been sleeping there earlier and the body heat lingered, and smelled richly of the forest, perfect for the hanyou, with a nearly inaudible grunt of discomfort Kouga set Inuyasha down of the soft grass bedding and turned to bark orders at his companions.

"Water, get be some bandages, and go gather some herbs! Now! Get a move on, he's bleeding to death you nitwits!" He yelled and the two rushed about to oblige him.

Kouga stood over Inuyasha, gently undoing his haori and yukuta to get a better look at he potentially fatal wound.

"Shit, this looks really bad," he swore. Though he could no longer smell the oozing of spinal fluids and the bleeding had started to stop, why the hell the mutt had so much blood he couldn't figure, but by the grayish tint of his skin he knew even the hanyou's limits were being pushed.

Grabbing the wooden bowl from Ginta when it was handed to him, a bit of the water sloshing out to dampen the trying fringes of some grass stalks, he poured the entire thing into the gaping hole in Inuyasha's abdomen and watched as the red was rinsed away to expose vulnerable organs and the lightest glint of vertebrae.

"You." He turned toward Hakaku, who was callously shredding some expensive women's human cloths they had lifted off a village as a gift for Kagome. It was all worthless now, she wouldn't have had an interest in the kimonos anyway, and they hadn't paid for it or anything. "Go get some herbs damn it! Ones for something like this!" He pointed to the hole, blood dribbling down Inuyasha's bare skin. "You helps that old healer woman before, you should know."

Hakaku left the shredded clothing, dashing out of the shallow cavern to go get the precious plants that could help the hanyou.


There was a persistent pain running through his body, pulsing like an unfamiliar heartbeat. The stench of ground plants, stale blood, and drying grass assaulted his nose and he gagged, choking on the warm liquid being dribbled between his cracked lips.

The hard wood of the bowl pressed to his mouth twitched, then receded. "Are you awake?" The words were formed in his ears, muffled by a loud roar somewhere inside his head. He tried to shake his head, but that just made the pounding more insistent, the pain more piercing. Gentle hands smoothed away his bangs from his forehead, stilling his thrashing. They were cold, icy, but then maybe he was feverish. He felt so hot, more than any flame he'd ever been engulfed in because this heat came from his own body.

He felt a whimper slip past his lips against his will, and welcomed the clawing blackness pulling him back into the empty void of his mind.


"Kouga, we couldn't find them!" Ginta and Hakaku shouted in unison as they came jogging into the cave, only to be met with a flying wooden bowl full of blood and boiled watery boar fat hitting Ginta right between the foreheads, splattering the sludge over the two.

"Quiet you two! Do you want to agitate him?!" Kouga yelled at them.

"You're shouting." Hakaku mumbled and Kouga sat back down beside Inuyasha with a huff, his back facing them.

After a moment he addressed the two cleaning themselves off. "Kagome, she wasn't there?" He asked softly.

"No one was." Ginta said. "The camp was all cleaned up, though a rapped meal was left in the tree Inuyasha was sleeping in." Hakaku put the neatly wrapped box down beside Kouga, backing up cautiously when the wolf didn't turn around to look at them, or answer. "they probably went back to that village, the one Kagome lives at."

"They left him?" Kouga wondered out loud.

"Well, he does go off on his own a lot, so it's probably normal for them to head back and let him catch up." Ginta explained with a smile. "and you said yourself Kagome was mad."

Kouga nodded, she had been pretty pissed. After a second of thought he gave another firm nod and stood to face them. "Then the mutt will stay with me for however long is needed." The two let their shoulders fall, tension abating, relieved that Kouga wasn't going to abandon Inuyasha after all the times he had helped and saved them. Patting his hands together as if dusting them off he fixed them with a stern glare, "You will go to this village of Kagome's and tell them what happened."

"But, but we have no idea where that is!"

"And their scent trail ends when the Kirara took to the air!"

"So go in the direction they were headed before the trail ends and if you don't find them by the time you reach the beach choose a direction and go from there."

"But, but that could take weeks!"

"Then choose the direction carefully, and hope you find someone who spotted a large yellow flying cat." Kouga ground out. "look, none of us have any experience in treating wounds except our own on the battle field, and he needs someone who knows what their doing. Now go and get Kagome and bring her here before he dies!" Seeing their stricken faces, glancing concerned, frightened, at Inuyasha's motionless form, he took a deep breath and tried to calm himself down. He didn't want to be stuck with this mutt, especially alone for what could be weeks he may not even live that long, but he had to get Kagome her to help him. "You will leave first thing in the morning." He said, and sat back down near the dog.

"But, the scent will be cold by then and—"

"Would you like to leave now?" he snapped, interrupting the complaint.

"No." they said in unison, straihtening up.

"Good, then go hunt."


When Inuyasha was released from the grip of his heavy dreamless sleep again, soft whispers where the first thing he heard. He listened intently, someone is sitting close to me.' A familiar scent assaulted his nose and water eased through his lips to cool the fiery thirst that was consuming him. He opened his eyes to see a blurry image of Kouga sitting over him, his head turned away, averting his eyes."Where am I?" Inuyasha asked. He was lying on a dried pile of grass, some a faded green some light brown, with several wolves around him but not the other two youkai, Ginta and Hakaku.

Kouga glanced over to him. "A small cave not far from the river; I brought you here after the fight. We had set up camp for the night but now we've had to stay for a few more days because of you." Kouga sniffed, sounding as irritated as he could force.

"Where is Kagome?"

Kouga still didn't meet his searching gaze, Kagome had left him, not even worrying about what might have happened without the others with him, this close to his time. "She went home," was all he said.

"Heh, I see." Inuyasha turned away, cringing from the pain, not only from his wounds, but from the feeling of abandonment. After protecting her so many times, after Kagome had worried about him so much, it may have seemed that they were in love. But Kouga knew from looking at him that she had left him like this far too many times then she should have.

"Can you sit up?" He asked. Inuyasha gave him a quizzical look but complied. It hurt, but he wasn't going to let Kouga know.

Rough fingers combed through the thick mane of silky silver hair, helping to lift his head a bit as he pressed the bowl of blood to his lips. Inuyasha hungrily drank it all, feeling the warm liquid dribble down his chin messily as he gulped. Kouga didn't curl his lips in disgust or pull away in revulsion, he had seen his own pack members act far worse. When the bowl was emptied Inuyasha lay back down, Kouga settling his head gently against the grass, breathing heavy from the exertion.

"You don't have to do this." Inuyasha said, trying to keep his voice from cracking, he failed.

"Do what?" Kouga asked, noting the soft, low tone Inuyasha used, the vulnerability in his voice.

"Help me…" Inuyasha sucked in a breath through clenched teeth and turned to face Kouga, wincing at the jolt of pain the action obviously caused, "you don't have to…"

"I want to." Kouga answered, a little bewildered as to why he said it so easily, knowing it was a lie. "Besides, Kagome will thank me for helping you," he said smiling, much more believable.

Inuyasha's next words shocked him. His eyes were drooping down, slowly slipping back into the darkness, hiding the pain that was perceptible in his voice. Kouga had to lean down to hear him, nose in Inuyasha's hair he inhaled the clear sent that told him Inuyasha was close to his vulnerable time. "Sometimes I don't think she really cares…" Kouga stared curiously at him, hazily aware of their close, almost intimate, propinquity of each other. Inuyasha's voice was so faint, "She's always running…always leaving me."

Inuyasha's expression was so foreign to Kouga…for a moment he thought he saw tears, but Inuyasha quickly blinked them back. 'He's so sad' Kouga thought as he watched Inuyasha stare into oblivion, maybe into his tragic past, maybe into his hopeless future. He really didn't want to know what had or may happen to him, only that he had never seen Inuyasha like this, looking so… vulnerable.

Inuyasha lost the fight of trying to keep his eyes open, sleep sounded so nice and the grass, though a bit dry and prickly, was so soft and warm beneath him. Letting out a relaxed sigh he let himself be swept away with a trust that would have shocked him, if he had noticed, but he didn't. He was safely tucked away in his empty dreams, content to be watched by someone capable of defending himself as well as a friend.

Wide-eyed Kouga watched Inuyasha go limp yet again, eyes closed and not opening, "Hey?" he asked softly, reaching out he could feel the heat emanating from Inuyasha's body even before he touched his face. He could feel Inuyasha's breathing deepen and slow. It was a strange feeling, the warm breath rhythmically flowing over his fingers; it sent a tingle through Kouga's body. His stomach quivered and he pulled back, startled by his own reaction.


Inuyasha awoke again before dawn. It was an odd sort of waking for him; slow and lazy, rather than quick and alert. A feeling of calm, of rightness, was inside him as deep as his heartbeat. He felt the warmth of a body laying close beside him and the feel of fur delicately placed over him. Rubbing his eyes he looked around bewildered. He never woke up under fur before.'Where am I?' he wondered. His ears pricked up to hear shifting, felt movement as the weight that was by him moved and soon he felt Kouga's gentle hand smooth the bangs away from his eyes.

"You still have a fever." Kouga said, his voice slurred by sleep.

"Kouga…" Inuyasha whispered the name as he felt darkness taking him again. 'Kagome left me…' he thought. 'Kagome left me for her time again…Kouga was the one…he took care of me.'

Kouga watched bleary-eyed as Inuyasha fell back into the deep sleep he had succumbed to hours before, days before. Settling down beside him again Kouga stared at the stone ceiling to the cavern they rested in. Faint red light from the dying embers of the fire cast shadows onto the smooth surface, he watched silently as the distorted figures danced their performance that had put him to sleep not too long ago. Again their hypnotizing movements lulled him into the subconscious world of dreams and visions.

Inuyasha wakes up fully, that's the second time, a day or so after Ginta and Hakaku leave to find Kagome. That's why they weren't there. Simple.

The slowly being revised version of Rivals in Love.

I'm getting by Inuyasha crap up here, my god does that mean I'm returning to it?! Yes, yes it does.

i figure a whole year away from my doggy boys was enough torture for me and by readers. Now were back, and there is just so much bloody stuffs i can't make Danny ad Dash do that Inuyasha and Kouga can survive no problem.

Until next time,