Hi all! Here's a one-shot that was begging me to post it. Don't worry though, I'll get back to Love Lasts Forever probably later this week. This is a "What if" scenario. What if the inu group was late to the battle against the birds of paradise? This is what I wish would have happened. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I do not own InuYasha. The characters and story are the property of Rumiko Takahashi.

What Love Really Means

The battle between the wolf demon tribe and the Birds of Paradise was raging. Ginta and Hakkaku had been put in charge of protecting their new sister, Kagome.

"Don't worry sister. We'll get you to safety." Ginta assured her.

"Sister? Are you talkin' to me?" the miko asked, confused.

Hakkaku cut in to answer for his pack mate. "You're Kouga's woman, so we treat you like one of us now."

These two were tugging at her last nerve. "I already told you I'm not his woman, got that?" she snapped.

Hakkaku looked at the girl as if she had grown a second head. 'How can this young ningen defy our leader. Surely she knows that he is the most powerful demon in the province, with or without the jewel fragments?'

The two perplexed wolves heard shouts ringing out from behind them. They turned swiftly to see one of the flying monsters heading straight towards them. Ginta had his spear at the ready, waiting for the demon to get in a position for him to strike. But the demon was too fast, and before anyone had a chance to react, the poor ookami youkai was lifted into the air by the bird's giant claws.

"Ahhhh! Help!" he cried as he was carried off.

"We've gotta save him!" Kagome said, worry evident in her voice.

Hakkaku shook his head. "It's too late. He'll be taken to the nest and devoured!"

Kagome panicked, looking around for something, anything she could use to attack with. She had to do something! The priestess saw a bow and arrow laying on the ground a few feet away. The girl grabbed them and took careful aim.

"Hit the mark!"

The arrow sailed through the sky, surrounded by a brilliant pink light. It pierced the demon's wing and the creature came crashing down to earth. It's body cushioned Ginta's fall slightly as he bounced off and landed face-first in the dirt. Kagome and Hakkaku were the first ones to aid him.

"You're safe. Are you alright?" she called.

The wolf demons stopped in their tracks and stared at the woman in front of them. Mutterings of "Wow" and "She's one hell of a good shot!" could be heard throughout the crowd. Ginta gave Kagome a heartfelt thank you.

The peace was short-lived, however, as three more harpies came barreling down from the skies. A piercing scream ripped from the girl's throat as the birds got closer.

Kouga heard a shrill screech from below him. He looked down to see his intended mate about to be mauled by a group of rogue Birds of Paradise. Tapping into the power of the jewel shards in his legs, he pushed off from the side of the cliff and aimed a kick at one of the offending creatures. It landed directly between the eyes, forcefully knocking it to the ground. Leaping off, he moved to the left and beheaded another vile demon. A scream from behind him echoed in his ears as he turned to see Kagome being carried away by a rather large harpy.

"NOOOOOO!!" he cried as he raced up the side of the mountain. Kouga had only met this young woman a few hours earlier, but he knew that he had already begun to develop feelings for the ningen. Feelings he was sure would grow over time. The prince refused to give up the girl he had fallen in love with.

In no time at all the wolf caught up with the bird and gave it a swift kick to the gut. It lost it's balance…and it's grip on the miko.

Kagome was falling, and fast. She shrieked, hoping and praying that someone would come and rescue her. She felt a pair of strong arms catch her, but still refused to open her eyes. After the mystery man set her down on the ground, she finally opened her eyes, expecting to look directly into Kouga's sapphire blue orbs. Who she saw made her blood run cold and the color drain from her face.

Kagome was staring face-to-face with the Lord of the Western Lands himself. Sesshomaru.

"Are you alright, miko?" The girl just stood rigid, frozen in fear. A sudden gust of wind sent their hair whipping at their faces. Someone grabbed her shoulders firmly from behind and spun her around, crushing her to him.

"Oh kami, Kagome. Are you okay? I was worried. I'm so sorry I didn't get there in time." Kouga stepped away and Kagome looked up into his face. His eyes were swimming with emotions- worry, concern, relief, and…love?

The leader of the wolf demon tribe walked over to the inu-taiyoukai.

"Lord Kouga." Sesshomaru nodded in acknowledgement.

"Lord Sesshomaru." Kouga returned the gesture. "Thank you for saving my intended mate. I am truly grateful and indebted to you."

"I need not be repaid. Coming to the aid of an ally and friend is the duty and responsibility of a lord. It would be dishonorable to do anything to the contrary. That is beneath us. You know this as well as I."

At this point, Kagome was finally coming out of her stupor, and when she heard the word mate she snapped to attention. By the end of the exchange between the canine demon lords, the poor girl was both annoyed and confused.

"Wait, wait, wait. Hold it right there." Kouga looked at Kagome in surprise. Sesshomaru, on the other hand, just glared at her coldly, sending a chill down her spine. She shook it off and stared right back at him. "Why did you just save me, Sesshomaru? You hate humans. You've even tried to kill me on occasion. So what on earth possessed you to help me?"

Sesshomaru's features softened somewhat and a ghost of a smile crossed his lips for but a moment. "Those attacks had nothing to do with any distaste towards you, young priestess. On the contrary, I have no qualms with you. The actions I took against you were merely attempts to anger my half-brother."

That caught Kouga's undivided attention.

"WHAT! You were just using me to get at InuYasha?!"

"So to speak."

"Let me get this straight." Kouga interrupted. "That mutt my fiancée was traveling with is your BROTHER?!"

"Half-brother. He is not worthy to be called my brother. That half-breed is a disgrace to the family." The western lord corrected.

Kagome was losing her temper, and fast. "Hey! Just because he's a hanyou doesn't mean that he is any weaker than you! He is just as strong and powerful as any full-blooded youkai, if not more so." The girl turned on her heel and glared at the wolf, who had been massaging her shoulders, trying to calm her. "And you! Who EVER said that I agreed to be your mate, hmmm?! You know absolutely nothing about me and I barely know anything about you. All I know is that you are the leader of this tribe, lord of the eastern lands, and have sacred jewel shards jammed in your legs. Oh, and let's not forget that you kidnapped me because I can sense the shards of the Shikon No Tama!" she yelled, her hands on her hips.

Sesshomaru smirked. "Well, I'll take my leave and help dispose of these flying pests. It seems like you have chosen the perfect mate for yourself, Kouga. She is just as stubborn and hardheaded as you." That being said, he walked off.

Kouga looked directly into Kagome's chocolate eyes. "We will continue this later." But just as he was leaving, the miko latched onto his arm and stared at him, her brows knitted together in confusion.

"Then just answer me this question. Why did you protect me and try to save me?"

Kouga bent over and whispered, "Because I'm in love with you." The combination of his warm breath tickling her ear and his sweet words sent a shiver down her spine. Then, in a whirlwind, he was gone.

With Sesshomaru's assistance the battle ended in no time. Kouga made quick work of the harpy king, slicing off it's wings and beheading it. After the battle had been won, the wolf demons, as well as the inu demon, retired to the den to celebrate.

Upon reaching their destination, Kouga pulled Kagome aside and led her down a winding trail off to the side of the mountain, ending at a picturesque scene. The setting sun cast an ethereal glow along the horizon. Pinks and oranges littered the sky, reflecting off of the crystalline waters in the lake below. The young woman gaped in awe at the beautiful sight before her. The wolf demon also marveled at what his eyes beheld, but he was not looking at the sunset.

The prince sat down on the lush, green grass and grabbed the miko's waist, pulling her into his lap. He smirked when he heard her 'eep' in surprise. He wrapped his arms around her lithe waist and pulled her close, resting his chin on top of her head. She blushed furiously and her body trembled nervously. Kouga hugged her tighter, thinking she was shivering from the cold.

"Kagome," his voice was low and seductive, "have you thought about our little conversation earlier?"

"I still don't understand how you can say that you love me when you don't even know me." she sighed. The poor girl didn't know what had come over her, but ever since she had heard him say those words, her mind was reeling, replaying that scene over and over and over again. Why? She didn't have feelings for this man. She couldn't. but something kept tugging at her heart every time he smiled at her. Or whenever he would touch her hand, her heartbeat would quicken and she could feel butterflies fluttering in her stomach.

Kouga's response was simple. He shrugged. "I know enough."

Kagome looked up at him like he was crazy. "What d'you mean 'you know enough'? what exactly is enough?"

He smiled down at her. "Well, let's see. I know that you are courageous, smart, brave, clever, loyal, kind, not to mention the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. Isn't that enough?"

Kagome gave him a small smile. "Thanks for the compliments. Even though most of them aren't true… But I'm a human and you're a demon. And I'm not exactly from erm…around here. And I promised my friends that I would help them collect the shards of the jewel of four souls. Isn't that why you kidnapped me in the first place? Because I can see the jewel? If that's why you wanted me, then that isn't love."

The wolf prince sighed. "Kagome, I don't think you understand. First of all, everything I said about you is true, so don't argue with me. Secondly, I don't care if you ARE a ningen, it doesn't matter to me. I'd love you either way. It doesn't matter where you're from either. I'm not going to hold you hostage and not let you visit your family. After spending this time with you, I could care less about the Shikon No Tama. You are the real jewel. And I would NEVER keep you from your friends, but why is it your responsibility to find the jewel anyway?"

The girl looked down from embarrassment. "Well, I was the one who shattered the jewel in the first place." she said, laughing nervously. She smiled at the surprised look on Kouga's face. So she told him about her being the guardian of the Shikon No Tama and her home five-hundred years in the future, as well as how the gem broke.

The wolf demon's awe stricken expression soon changed to a smirk. "I knew it."

Kagome leaned back, trying to distance herself from the "insane" demon. He only held her tighter. "Knew w-what?"

" I knew from the very beginning that you were an amazing woman. And I would be most honored if you would agree to be my mate."

"Wow. You're actually asking me? I have a say in the matter?" she mocked sarcastically, earning a deep chuckle from Kouga.

"So…is that a yes?" he asked hopefully.

Kagome pondered this for a moment, loving the look of nervousness on his face. "Um…it's a maybe. Give me until after the celebration to make my decision, okay?"

Kouga grinned. "Deal."

As he leaned in to kiss her, two voices rang out from the forest.


Ginta and Hakkaku burst through the trees and skidded to a stop in front of Kouga and Kagome. Both were doubled-over, panting heavily.

The tribe leader jumped up, picking up the priestess in the process. Again she shrieked, earning her a grin from Kouga. He turned to face his first and second lieutenants. "What happened?"

"Hanyou…came for…sister…fighting…western lord." said Ginta, still gasping for breath.

Kagome's eyes grew wide. InuYasha had actually come to rescue her. She smiled to herself. But it quickly vanished and was replaced by a frown. Did she really want to be saved? 'Kouga has been so nice to me. And he says that he loves me. I've been waiting to hear those words from InuYasha for so long. But he'll only ever love Kikyou. Then again, he did come to save me. No. He came for his replacement Kikyou, his jewel shard detector. Maybe I should stay with Kouga. At least I know he cares about me and not some undead ex-girlfriend. Yes, I think I will stay with Kouga. I am starting to have feelings for him and maybe they can grow stronger and I can learn to love him.' And with that thought, her smile returned once again.

At the thought of that mutt taking his Kagome away from him, Kouga froze and his face paled. He couldn't lose her. Not now. He had just started to get her to like him. He refused to let that half-breed screw up what he had. Kouga looked down at the girl in his arm and saw a small smile on her face.

"Kagome? You're not going to go back to him, are you?"

The miko just smiled up at him and shook her head. "No Kouga. InuYasha doesn't care about me, only that I can see the Shikon No Tama. I really think I might be falling in love with you. I'm still not sure though. Can I still have time to think?"

The wolf nodded and took off towards the den, leaving Ginta and Hakkaku in the dust.

When they arrived, they were shocked. All of the trees in a hundred-and-fifty foot radius had been knocked down and there were deep gashes carved into the ground. Sesshomaru and InuYasha were facing off in the center. The elder inu-youkai had wrapped his poison whip around the younger's Tetsusaiga, immobilizing it. The hanyou was running his mouth, yet again.

"Sesshomaru, you bastard! What the hell are you doing here?! And where's Kagome?!"

There was a hint of anger in the taiyoukai's eyes, but his voice was deathly calm. "My business at the wolf den is none of your concern, InuYasha." he glanced to the side and noticed the presence of the prince and miko. He would help his comrade out. And be compensated later. There had been a female in the pack that he had taken a liking to and he could use this as a way to get Kouga's approval. "And as to the whereabouts of the ningen, isn't it your job to take care of your woman?"

InuYasha stumbled back, but quickly regained his composure. "She is NOT my woman! She is just a freakin' jewel shard detector!"

That broke Kagome. She never wanted to see his face again. The girl looked up at Kouga from the safety of his arms.

"Kouga." she whispered his name so softly that he almost didn't hear her. He looked down into her beautiful chocolate brown eyes. "Can I stay with you? Become your mate?"

Kouga could have howled in pure ecstasy. He grinned, showing off his brilliant pearly-white fangs. Kagome giggled at his enthusiasm as he swung her around.

But their happiness was short lived as they heard another tree crash to the forest floor. InuYasha lunged at his older brother, aiming the Tetsusaiga at his chest. Again Sesshomaru's whip lashed out, this time knocking the fang out of the hanyou's hands.

Kouga set Kagome down and took a protective stance in front of her, blocking her from everyone's view. "ENOUGH!" All eyes turned to the wolf prince. "Lord Sesshomaru. I am indeed grateful for your assistance with the Birds of Paradise. But I cannot allow my territory to be destroyed because of a squabble between you and the mutt. You are more than welcome to stay and join in the festivities. But I must ask that you refrain from any more fighting. The battle is over." The taiyoukai nodded in affirmation. Then Kouga turned his attention to the half-demon and his group. "As for you, Inu-koro, you are not welcome here. I demand that you leave this den at once and do NOT return. Your companions, however, may stay and celebrate with us if they so choose. Now-"

InuYasha cut him off. "We ain't stayin' ya filthy wolf. We came to get Kagome. Now where is she?!"

"She isn't going anywhere with you, dog-breath!"

"Oh yeah she is!"

"No way am I letting my mate go anywhere near you, albino runt!"

"MATE?! What are you goin' on about you stupid idiot?! She isn't your mate!"

"Yes she is!"

"No she ain't!"

"Yes I am." said a quiet voice from behind Kouga. Kagome stepped up and glared at InuYasha with as much anger and hatred as she could muster. Miroku had an amused expression on his face Sango was stunned at first, but was happy for her "sister". Shippou cried out her name and took a running leap into her outstretched arms. She surely would have fallen over had it not been for Kouga catching her. She smiled up at him while InuYasha had a look of pure disgust plastered on his face.

"Don't touch her ya scrawny, flea-bitten mongrel! She's mine!"

Kouga was about to retort when Kagome stepped forward. "I can't believe you. After what you just said about me. Calling me a jewel detector, a slave. Now you have the gall to say that I BELONG to YOU! I don't BELONG to ANYONE! But I do belong WITH Kouga!" she set Shippou down on the ground, stomped up to the now speechless hanyou and…WHAM! Smacked him right across the face!


She walked back to Kouga's side and picked up Shippou, who was now laughing uncontrollably.

Kouga, who was VERY proud of his new mate, took her hand and led her towards the rest of the pack, leaving InuYasha unconscious in his ten-foot-deep crater.

Of course the celebration lasted into the wee morning hours. They were celebrating a huge victory in battle, as well as their leader finally finding a mate. Miroku, of course, got drunk as hell and got his brains beaten out by a blushing red Sango. Half-way through the party, however, both Kouga and Kagome vanished, though no one actually noticed.

Kouga and Kagome made their way to Kouga's private cavern. Pulling back the furs, he ushered her in, resting his hand on the small of her back. Letting the pelts drop back to cover the entrance, Kouga led his soon-to-be mate over to the bedding and laid her down on the soft furs. He laid down next to her and pulled her close, running his fingers through her hair. His other arm was draped across her waist, letting his hand gently caress her back.

"Kagome, are you sure about this? Once we do this, there's no going back. We'll be mates for life, spending hundreds of years together. You will share my lifespan and we will die together. Is this really what you want?"

The miko stared directly into the wolf's sapphire orbs. All she could see was concern and love. It was then that she realized, he really did love her and wouldnever hurt her. If he didn't care, he would not have warned her about what being mates would entail. And she did love him and trusted him with her life. In that moment, time seemed to have come to a stop. Nothing in the world mattered, save the two of them. She wanted nothing more than for them to be together for all eternity, and then some. "Yes Kouga. I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I'm ready."

Kouga smiled and pulled her into a deep, passionate kiss that sent Kagome's mind reeling. That night they became one in mind, body, and soul.


As the years rolled by, their love only grew. Kouga and Kagome became inseparable; one would never be seen without the other close by.

After three or four attempts on InuYasha's part, including kidnapping, he finally gave up on winning Kagome back and mated his clay pot.

The jewel shards in Kouga's legs allowed him to travel through the well and meet Kagome's family. Mrs. Higurashi was nothing short of thrilled at the news. She made sure to mention wanting grandchildren in the near future, causing the two lovers to blush furiously. She then wandered off, mumbling something about tails. Souta was a bit disappointed at first, wishing that InuYasha was his new big brother. But as soon as he saw Kouga, all thoughts of the hanyou flew from his mind and he found himself a new demon to idolize. Kagome's grandfather took the news surprisingly well; he was only unconscious for three hours after screaming his head off until his voice was hoarse.

Hojou was the same, dense as always. He gave them his best wishes, thinking it would only last a month tops. He never saw Kagome again. Her friends were only supportive AFTER they met Kouga.

Soon after they mated, the alpha male and female had a little girl they named Safaia. She was a beautiful child with deep blue eyes like her father. Atop her head were two fluffy black wolf ears among locks of long, silky, ebony hair that reached her calves. Her hair was always in two braids down her back. The girl also had a brown tail like her daddy. She was very outspoken and loved to gossip.

A few years later, Kagome gave birth to a son. Like his sister, he had thick black hair (put up in a pony tail like his father), black ears, and a brown tail. However, his eyes were a beautiful chocolate brown like his mother's. They named the boy Uchiki.

Unlike his sister, however, he was very reserved and timid, only opening up to his mother, father, and sister for the first few years. Eventually he began to come out of his shell and became one of the most popular boys in the pack. He had to beat the girls away with a stick, as his sister did with the boys

Although the children were hanyous, they were welcomed into the tribe with open arms. They grew up happy and healthy.

Kouga and Kagome led a long and loving life together.

One day, Kagome was sitting outside the den near the refreshing waterfall. She was laying down on the nice, cool, green grass, her eyes closed, thinking about her past. What had she ever done to deserve such a wonderful life. "Mmm. So peaceful."

"For once." A gruff voice said from behind her.

The woman didn't even bat an eye. "Well, would you rather it always be this quiet?"

The man walked over and sat down next to her. "Of course not." Kouga smiled down at his mate. "So what are you up to? You've been sitting out here all day. What's on your mind?"

"Nothing much. I was just thinking."


Kagome let out a contented sigh. "I was just trying to figure out how I became so lucky."

Kouga looked at her, perplexed. "Lucky?"

"Yeah. Lucky that I found you. I don't know what my life would have been like without you. Only that I would have been miserable."

A smirk crossed Kouga's lips. "No. I'm the lucky one. If you remember correctly, love, I was the one who found you. So that makes me the lucky one, my mate."

The miko sat up and leaned her head on his shoulder as he wrapped an arm around her slender waist.

As they watched the sun slowly set beyond the snow-capped mountains, their minds drifted back to that fateful day.

The day that they both learned what love really means.

Wow! I hope you all enjoyed this, cause I sure did! This was NINE pages TYPED and NINETEEN AND A HALF pages HANDWRITTEN! I know the romance went a little fast, but it's a one-shot and I couldn't make it too long!

Safaia, if you didn't know, is Japanese for "sapphire" and Uchiki means "shy".

I had a lot of fun writing this and I hope you had a lot of fun reading it! Hope to hear from you soon!