Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha or any of its characters. If I did, Kikyo would still be dead and Inuyasha and Kagome would've been together a long time ago.

A/N: Here it is. The final chapter. Just as I promised, this is a gift for all of those who have followed this story and were so patient with me during my prolonged absence with updating the third chapter. I'm really nervous about this one. So here you are, the last chapter of Claw Marks On My Heart. I hope it lives up to everyone's expectations

Chapter4: Marked

Sango knelt beside Kagome, placing a hand on her shoulder and said, "Don't worry. He'll be fine."

Kagome cast a glance at the unconscious dog demon resting against her lap.

"I hope you're right," she sighed.

"He's been asleep for a long time," Kagome fretted, anxiously peering at Inuyasha's face, smoothing back his silver-white bangs from his closed eyes.

The light of day had fallen behind the horizon several hours ago and the deep silence of night had descended upon the world. The diamond pinprick of far way stars dotted the navy, velvet sky. A waxing gibbous moon hung like a pale lantern above the darkened treetops. A chilled breeze whistled softly through their camp, rustling the broad leaves above and rippling through the tall grass like a wave on the ocean. Unnatural silence permeated the air.

After the day's events, they had all decided that it would be unwise to linger in the overly exposed. Miroku and Sango had tended to the half-demon's more serious wounds, then had carefully loaded the unconscious Inuyasha onto Kirara's back. Dead set against allowing the hybrid out of her sight for more than a minute, Kagome had thrown a temper tantrum worthy of a toddler until the monk and slayer had finally conceded and permitted her to guard Inuyasha, despite her own injuries. The cat demon had circled over the forest until she located a suitable spot. Once Kagome and Inuyasha were safely hidden in the forest depths, Kirara had taken off to fetch the others.

When they returned, Miroku, Shippo, Kirara, and Sango had teamed together to clear a small patch of land and set up camp. Myoga, now back to his traditional size, had hopped over to the young priestess and perched himself neatly on her shoulder, striking up a casual conversation with her to occupy her troubled mind. For the most part, he succeeded in distracting her, but every now and then, she'd cast an apprehensive glance at the sleeping demon in her arms.

Shortly after the construction of camp, Inuyasha had been carefully laid out on a makeshift bed of cloth and blankets. Kagome had knelt by his side, anxiously clutching his cool hand.

She hadn't moved from that position since. Though the evening had grown steadily colder, Kagome hadn't left Inuyasha's side even when all the others had huddled around the small campfire, seeking its warmth in the frosty night.

"That's only to be expected," Myoga said knowledgeably, his four, miniature arms folded neatly over his chest. "Master Inuyasha may be stronger than you humans, but he still has lost a lot of blood and his body is battling the remaining traces of poison in his system. Not to mention the physical strain the battle and his transformation must've had on him. What he needs is a good long rest."

"Yeah, but still…" Kagome murmured, her small hand tightening around Inuyasha's. "He hasn't moved a muscle since he reverted back."

"Be patient," Miroku advised from across the campfire. "Thanks to Myoga, Inuyasha has a fighting chance now. He will wake up. He's just recuperating… what you should be doing."

Instinctively, with her free hand, she touched the cloth wrap that was bound around her breasts and upper chest. "I'm fine," Kagome assured him, smiling softly. "Shippo and Sango did a wonderful job with patching me up." She tapped the white gauze that covered the claw wounds on her left cheek.

"Mmm," was the only acknowledgement he made before dropping his violet gaze.

Returning her attention to the dog demon, Kagome's feigned cheeriness evaporated. She wouldn't admit it, but the wounds made by Inuyasha's claws were extremely painful. Once she was positive Inuyasha would live, the overwhelming fear that had numbed everything else had faded… and the pain had bombarded her. She'd held it in for the duration of the flight into the forest, but the moment Kirara had gone back for the others, the agony of it had driven her to tears.

Sango was the only one who knew of the magnitude of her suffering. When realizing that after killing the snake demon, she had sprinted to Inuyasha's side in nothing more than her skirt and bra, a mortified Kagome had sheepishly inquired Sango to bring her a fresh shirt. But the moment she tugged it over her head, pain flared on her chest as the tight fabric constricted her wound and she was forced to remove it. The demon slayer had taken the shirt from her and replaced it a spare kimono of hers. The loose fabric provided her with both the comfort and protection she needed.

Kagome tugged the kimono's neckline closer to her, staving off the air's icy chill. The original intensity of the pain had dulled somewhat, but a powerful ache remained. The skin of both her left cheek and chest was extremely tender.

No one spoke as they sat in comfortable silence around the campfire. The Buddhist monk stared off into space, his hands tucked safely within the sleeves of his robes and not inappropriately roaming over the demon slayer beside him. Kirara was curled up in Sango's lap, purring contently as her master gently stroked her fur while humming a soft tune. Worn out by the overdose of drama, terror, and adventure, the little fox child was sound asleep, nestled up under a mountain of blankets.

The only sounds were the crackling fire, the whisper of the wind in the trees, and the soothing, sweet melody of the demon slayer's song.

A particularly powerful gust of wind blew through the camp. Kagome and the others shuddered, drawing their arms around themselves as the gale beat against them. The fire wavered precariously, almost going out. As the wind dissipated, it flickered back to life, spitting embers resentfully at the disturbance.

"That was close," Sango murmured, eyeing the fire. Gently depositing Kirara on the ground, the older girl stood fluidly. All eyes fell to her.

"If this wind keeps up, we won't have a heat source for much longer," she explained. Reaching around back of the log she and Miroku had shared, she hoisted her Hirakotsu from the ground, shouldering.

Straightening up, she flicked her long, ebony hair over her shoulder, and announced, "I'm going to go out to look for more firewood. Keep the fire alive while I'm gone. I shouldn't be long." Striding into the shadowed forest, she beckoned to her pet. "C'mon, Kirara."

The cat demon meowed in answer, trotting noiselessly behind her owner. The jingling of metal on metal publicized that Miroku was getting to his feet.

"I'll come with you," he announced, brushing off the seat of his robe. "A pretty woman shouldn't be forced to carry a heavy load of wood. That's a man's job."

"Kirara can carry it," Sango reminded him promptly, facing the monk. "And besides, I think your time would be better spent searching for food. Our packs are low in supplies and I'm certain Inuyasha would be grateful for something to eat when he wakes up.

Kagome bit her lip to keep from smiling as Miroku's shoulders noticeably slumped. Wearing an adorable put-out expression, he very much appeared like a small puppy that had lost its bone. And yet, he didn't breathe a word of complaint.

"If that is what my lady wishes, then I shall see it done," he said chivalrously, bowing gentleman-like to her. However, he couldn't contain the hint of disappointment that seeped into his words.

A scarlet blush burned Sango's cheeks. "O-okay, then," she stammered, and hastened off into the forest depths, Kirara trailing behind her.

A smug smirk curved Miroku's lips at Sango's reaction. Puffing out his chest, he strutted back to the group with a little more spring in his step than before, smoothing back his midnight hair. As he passed where Kagome was knelt, she heard him say cockily to himself, "I've still got it."

Covering her mouth, Kagome giggled behind her hand and Myoga shook his head, muttering something about overly complacent youths.

Clearing his throat, Miroku proclaimed, "Though I disagree with Sango going off on her own, she does have a point. Our food supplies are severely depleted."

Myoga sprang from the priestess's shoulder and leapt onto Miroku's. "It may also be a sensible idea to build up your stock plants and herbs with medical properties. I've been spending a lot of time with our friend Jinenji, so I can help you identify plants that will be useful to you. After today, it would be wise if you had a hefty load of healing ingredients at your disposal," he advised. "I can't always be around to save the day, you know."

"Gods, isn't that the truth," the monk muttered under his breath. "Half the time you're around, you run away whenever the going gets dangerous so you're never of much use when you're needed the most."

The tiny flea demon puffed up indignantly. "Why you ungrateful excuse for a holy man! Didn't anyone ever teach you to respect your elders?! Never have I been so-"

Ignoring the agitated flea bouncing up and down on his shoulder, Miroku turned his attention to Kagome. "Will you be alright here by yourself?" he asked. "I don't like the idea of leaving you alone when you're injured and unable to defend yourself."

Glancing at the sleeping Inuyasha and Shippo, she nodded. "Yeah, I'll be fine," she confirmed. "Besides, I've got my bow and a few of my arrows managed to avoid from being squashed."

"Very well. I shall be as quick as I can." Inclining his head to her polished, wooden weapon, he recommended, "Keep that close to you."

Bowing to her just as he had with Sango, the monk swung on his heel and briskly strode off into the trees, an affronted Myoga hanging onto the shell of his ear and yelling directly into it. Sighing, Miroku swatted at the flea demon, mumbling, "Give it a rest, old man." Even Kagome could hear Myoga's renewed yells of offence as he and Miroku disappeared into the forest.

He's sure got a set of lungs on him, that Myoga, she thought humorously.

As his shouts faded into the distance, stillness crept back into the air and Kagome was left alone with the snoozing demons. Shifting stiffly, she unfolded her legs from underneath her. Wincing, her sore, numb muscles protested the movement after sitting in that position for so long. The young priestess transferred her weight onto her butt and hugged her knees to her chest for warmth.

Without her companions beside her, the hours of darkness seemed particularly lonely and eerie as the wind swirled around her. Shivering, she scooted closer to Inuyasha, admiring the way the firelight cast a flickering ocher glow over his skin. Even unconscious, his presence was comforting and protecting. She watched his chest slowly rise and fall, catching brief glimpses at the white fabric that wrapped around his upper torso as it peeked up under the blankets covering him.

His bandages probably need changing, she mused, tugging the kimono tighter around her as another gust of wind chilled her.

Dropping her knees, she twisted around to reach out and clutch the pack nearest to her. Toting it over to her, she burrowed through it, searching through the multiple items that cluttered the bag. Finally, she managed to fish out a fresh roll of gauze and the jar of Jinenji's healing salve. Scooting closer to the dog demon, Kagome leaned forward and her small hands gently drew back the thick covers. Dark blood stained the bandages encircling his stomach, however, it was old and dried now. The bleeding had ceased hours ago. However, the bandages were necessary because demon or not, his wounds were still vulnerable to infection.

Unsure how she was to go about this without stirring him, she knelt once again and bowed over him. She located the end of the bandage and uncertainly began to unravel them…

…And froze when golden eyes lazily drifted ajar, then snapped open wide.

Startled, Kagome jerked away from the half-breed, compressing her hands to her chest as if she had narrowly avoided touching something repulsive.

Squinting owlishly in the light, the silver-hair dog demon propped himself up on one elbow with agonized sluggishness, his pale hair spilling over his shoulder and scowled accusingly at her. "What the hell were you doing, wench?" Inuyasha demanded, his eyes suspicious.

Kagome blinked, and said the only thing that came to mind, "You're awake."

"'Course I'm awake!" he griped as he agonizingly struggled to force his body into full sitting position.

"Hey! Don't do that!" Kagome protested, scrambling to gently push him back down onto the ground.

Bracing his hands behind him, Inuyasha effortlessly resisted Kagome's attempts to keep him in a reclining position. Though she had the sense of an impending argument, the reincarnated priestess had to marvel how the hybrid fought against her without difficulty, even when his muscles were fatigued from battle and his body was lacerated with cuts, bruises, and burns.

"Why the hell not?" he snapped irritably, slapping her hands away and moving to sit up again.

"Because you're still injured! You need to relax or you'll reopen your wound!" Kagome exclaimed, firmly applying pressure to the undamaged sections of his shoulders.

"I need you to back off, that's what I need! I don't have to be coddled like some child!" he snarled, violently wrestling against her efforts to keep him still. "I'm fine! Now would you leave me alone?!"

Capturing her hands, he tore them from his shoulders and shoved her away from him. Kagome tumbled backwards with an "oof!" Clearing her head with a brisk shake, she glanced toward Inuyasha, and gasped as he threw the blankets from his body and rolled to his feet.

"Where the hell are my clothes?!" he demanded, glaring down at his bare chest. Whirling around, his long hair flinging out behind him, Inuyasha began storming about the campsite.

"Inuyasha! Would you cut it out?!" Kagome yelled in frustration, stumbling clumsily to her feet. Seizing him by the forearm, she tugged on him with all her might, striving to haul him back to his cot. "You got run straight through the stomach, you're covered head to toe in burns and scratches, and you're body is still waging war with the leftover toxins in your bloodstream! You must lie down and recover from your battle while I tend to your wounds!"

"How many times must I remind you that I'm not some fragile human that needs to be taken care of!" Inuyasha bellowed, struggling to wrench his arm free of Kagome's leech-like grasp. "Now, get off of me!"

With a powerful yank, Inuyasha managed to tear the priestess from his arm. The sudden and vigorous movement caused the ebony-haired girl's balance to waver. She teetered treacherously on her heels before she lost her footing and sprawled to the ground as Inuyasha stomped away, muttering murderously under his breath.

Huffing in aggravation, Kagome thrust herself upright and irritably shoved her bangs out of her eyes. She opened her mouth to yell at the dog demon rummaging through their packs. However, the bloodstained bandage around his middle cooled her fiery temper. Exhaling slowly, Kagome let her emotions seep from her body, and embraced the will to be patient.

With amazing serenity and calmness, she said kindly, "Inuyasha, sit boy."

The half-demon thunked to the ground, emitting a startled cry as dried fallen leaves and clothing items flew up around him. However, once he was on the ground, he didn't try to get back up.

"Better," Kagome murmured with satisfaction, standing and plucking her supplies up from beside Inuyasha's homemade bed. She made her way over to him, careful not to trod on the silken strands of moonlight hair that was cast over the grass around where Inuyasha lay, facedown.

When she was beside him, he raised his head to glower reproachfully at her. "What'd you do that for?" Inuyasha growled, gnashing his teeth at her.

"Because you were being stubborn," she responded kindly, kneeling next to him and tenderly helped him up. He shook her hand from his shoulder. Ignoring his huffy behavior, she asked, "Now will you allow me to tend to your wounds?"

"Feh," he sniffed, sticking his nose into the air. "Not like I have much of a choice. You'll put me through another fifty 'sits' if I refuse."

I wouldn't do that you when you're like this, she thought, but didn't express vocally.

"Alright then," she said, placing the jar and gauze by her feet. "Uncross your arms."

Inuyasha rolled his eyes in irritation. His arms were folded sulkily over his chest and pouting in such a way that could've given a two-year-old a run for his money. Pulling an annoyed face at the modern-day girl, he grudgingly obeyed and dropped his arms.

Reaching over, Kagome cautiously tucked her hands under his scarred biceps and hoisted them into the air so that they were stretched out horizontally. "Keep them up like that for me," she instructed assertively.

Huffily, he pursed his lips, but kept his arms extended. Kagome unwrapped the gauze as Inuyasha glared up at the sky. The second the last scrap bandage was removed, the dog demon immediately crossed his arms over his chest.

Sighing at his childishness, Kagome picked up the salve and scooted around behind him. Throwing his mane of hair over one shoulder, she glanced down at the exposed wound.

Although his demon body had already mended the hole in his stomach, the remaining wound was still deep and extremely raw. Kagome swallowed thickly. She was amazed that he had survived. Had it been the night of a new moon and Inuyasha had been human….

Shuddering, she hurriedly pushed that thought from her head and unscrewed the cap.

Scooping up a glob of the green salve with her fingers, she warily smeared it onto a small section of Inuyasha's wound. She began counting down the time to his response.

Ten seconds later….

"OW! God dammit, wench! What the hell are you doin' to me?!"

"Would you pipe down?" Kagome commanded sternly. She motioned to the small bundle by the fire that was the sleeping fox kit. "You'll wake up Shippo."

"I don't give a damn! That stuff hurts!" he snapped, squirming away from her.

Kagome heaved another sigh. "Would you stop being such a big baby and suck it up?" she mumbled, gently rubbing more of the gel onto his injury. "Are you a demon or a human?"

"You put that crap onto an open wound and then tell me to suck it up!" he retorted, snatching up a twig and snapping it in his hand.

A twinge of pain pulsed in her chest, causing her to falter slightly. "I did," she murmured quietly, lightly touching her bandaged torso with her clean hand. "I was… injured in the battle as well and I needed to use to salve in order to heal my… cut." She refocused on her work, spreading the jelly-like substance over the scarlet lesion and continued on conversationally, "It stings at first, but later on it gives off this really strange, but pleasant cool, tingling sensation that numbs the pain. Just be patient."

For several long moments, Inuyasha was completely silent.


"You… got hurt?" he inquired quietly, a hint of awed distress coloring his tone. "How?"

The question caught her off guard for a moment, so much that she withdrew her hand from his back. She frowned in confusion at the back of his head. When he glanced over his shoulder at her, his golden eyes truly troubled and bewildered, it dawned on her.

He doesn't remember attacking me, Kagome realized with a sinking feeling.

Shrugging carelessly, she averted her attention from his searching gaze and daubed his wound with more salve. Keeping her voice light so he wouldn't pick up on the lie, she answered brightly, "Just some flying debris. Nothing important."

The dog demon snorted and twisted his head back around. "Leave it up to you to get hurt by something minor," Inuyasha sniffed disapprovingly. "Gods forbid I'm not there to protect you every freakin' second."

Kagome bit her tongue, knowing it would be imprudent to comment further on the subject for fear of letting something slip. After covering up the last untreated area of his wound with the salve, the priestess wiped her fingers on the grass.

"Well, I'm all done with your back," she announced, shuffling around so that she was facing him. "So…."

Trailing off, she motioned mutely with the jar of salve to express the words she couldn't quite say. Both of them flushed scarlet, and Inuyasha glanced the other way.

"Make it fast," he grumbled, his cheeks stained pink as he uncrossed his arms.

Nodding in embarrassed agreement, Kagome loaded her fingers up with green jelly and carefully began to smear it over the front side of his wound. Awkward silence stretched between them. Kagome's fingers were quivering uncontrollably over his stomach as she hurriedly attempted to complete her task.

While her embarrassment drove her to complete her assignment rapidly and her concern held her to be thorough and gentle, a rather large part of Kagome was taking guilty pleasure out of being able to touch Inuyasha in such a fashion. His chest and abs were worthy of belonging to a male model, and she had always attempted to sneak a peek at his bare torso whenever the opportunity presented itself to her. As her trembling fingers traveled over the toned muscles of his abdomen, she found herself wondering if the rest of him was as beautiful and chiseled as his torso. Her cheeks flared scarlet and she chased the thoughts from her head, attempting to reign in her desire.

Inuyasha wasn't fairing any better than Kagome. Though his hands were balled defiantly into two rock hard fists and he was scowling something fierce, a light pink blush colored his fair cheeks. He was overly aware of Kagome's small, gentle hands smoothing the salve over his stomach. Every movement she made with her fingers, every hesitation, every caress, he felt through his hypersensitive skin. He very nearly growled in frustration when her fingers trailed over the lower portion of his wound, tracing dangerously closer to the hem of his hamaka. Unable to stop himself, sinful fantasies about those delicate hands wandering lower drifted into his mind.

Blushing furiously, he shook his head violently, his silver-white hair flying out in all directions.

Kagome leaned away from the dog demon to avoid getting whipped with his long hair. "Inuyasha?" she questioned. "Are you in pain?"

"No," he huffed, frantically inventing a believably excuse. "There was a fly buzzing in my ear and it was getting on my nerves."

"Oh," she said, eyeing him critically. "Okay, then."

She returned to her work and Inuyasha fished around in his mind for something to distract him from those hazardous thoughts. Thinking back, Kagome had said he'd been run through the stomach. But with what, he didn't know. He couldn't remember what it was. All the could recall was being slowly squeezed to death by the snake demon's coils, the acidic, poisonous sludge burning through his clothes and skin. After that… nothing. His memory went blank until the time he woke up to see Kagome sobbing over his body.

His back stiffed as the terrible truth came to him, the only possible reason why he couldn't remember anything.

"I transformed, didn't I?" Inuyasha murmured softly.

Pausing, Kagome peered at the half-demon's averted face. Amber irises flickered toward her, capturing her chocolate gaze.

She sighed, and glanced down at her fingers laboring over his wound. "Yes," she responded faintly. "You did. Right after you passed out when the demon was crushing you. We tried to snap you out of it before you got hurt but… we couldn't get the Tetsusaiga to you on time and one of the snake's fangs went straight through your stomach. I ended up killing it with a Sacred Arrow when it hit its eye, like I thought, and then Myoga showed up and saved you."

The silver-haired hybrid didn't comment upon hearing how he'd obtained his injury, nor did he question her further. She preferred it that way. It steered the conversation away from the origin of her own injuries.

Sitting back on her heels, Kagome regretfully withdrew from Inuyasha's stomach. "Alright, you're wound's completely treated now," she informed him, cleaning her hand off with an edge of the gauze. "All that's left to do is bind it, so arms up."

Wordlessly, Inuyasha extended his arms, allowing Kagome to wrap his stomach without hassle. Watching her out of the corner of his eye, he examined the pink, cherry blossom floral kimono she wore.

"By the way," he began, "Why're you wearing a kimono? Where're those strange clothes from your world that you're always in?"

Kagome nearly dropped the roll of bandages. She was treading on thin ice and she needed to step carefully or risk plunging neck-high into the freezing water.

"Uhh… it got covered in blood from when that rock struck me," she lied casually, speedily binding his wound. "I didn't have a spare change of clothes with me, so Sango let me borrow one of her kimonos so I could wash my shirt out and let it dry."

Tearing the end of the gauze, she tucked it within the multiple layers of the bandages, making sure that it was snug and wouldn't pull free on him. "There. All done," she declared. "That wasn't so bad, now was it?"

But Inuyasha wasn't listening. Suspicious, narrowed golden eyes were riveted to the patch of gauze taped to her cheek. Scowling at it, he reached toward her.

Startled, Kagome jerked back. "What're you-?"

Before she could stop him, Inuyasha peeled the bandage off of her face and his gold-colored eyes widened in dismay.

Very lightly, he trailed his fingers over the claw marks that were slashed across her cheek. Kagome winced slightly. Amber irises fell to the bandage covering her chest. Horror twisted his face as he tugged aside the loose kimono and tucked his fingers under the cloth to peer at the angry lacerations.

Sitting back, Inuyasha's face was ashen and aghast, his eyes wide with terror.

"Did… did I do that?" he whispered breathlessly.

Kagome averted her gaze and didn't answer him.

"Did I attack you when I transformed?" Inuyasha pressed, staring earnestly at the priestess.

She squeezed her eyes shut and bit her lip, turning away from the dog demon's prying gaze. Growling, Inuyasha seized Kagome by the shoulders and spun her around to face him. "Answer me, dammit!" he commanded. "Those marks weren't made by any damn rock! Now cut the crap and tell me the goddamn truth! Are those injuries my fault?!"

"No, they weren't your fault because you weren't in control of your body," Kagome murmured, not meeting his eyes. "You didn't mean to. If anyone is to blame, its me for getting in your way."

Inuyasha freed her shoulders, his mouth agape with horrified shock. Slumping back, his head bowed in numb astonishment. Lifting his claws to his face, he examined with intense scrutiny, eyes wide as he inspected the dried blood under his long, sharp nails. His hands began to visibly shake. Unable to believe that he had truly committed such an atrocious act, Inuyasha tentatively sniffed his claws. The overpowering scent of Kagome's blood touched his nostrils and he recoiled violently away from his hands, his eyes impossibly wide. A powerful tremor ran along his spine.

It was true. He'd attacked Kagome.

Squeezing his eyes shut, his face contorting in agony, Inuyasha went to bury his hands in his hair, but the second he realized what he was doing, he jerked away, digging his claws into the soil. He couldn't even stand the sight of his own hands. His ears flattened against the top of his skull, practically disappearing in his silver-white hair. Bowing forward, his long moonlight-colored mane swept over his face, shielding him from Kagome's concerned chocolate eyes.

"Inuyasha?" Kagome questioned softly, reaching out to touch him.

He flinched away before her fingers could land on him.

"How can you even look at me after what I did?" he whispered, his voice tormented.

"Inuyasha, it's in the past now," Kagome insisted. "It's okay."

Silver hair flew as Inuyasha snapped his head up to stare at her, his expression tortured. "No, it's not okay!" he exploded, his eyebrows pulled low over his pained eyes. "I could've killed you today, Kagome, so don't you dare tell me that it's not important!

"Ever since the Tetsusaiga broke and the seal on my demon half was severed, I've always been terrified that one day I'd transform and attack you! And now my worst fear has been realized! My hands are stained with your blood! I can smell it all over me now! I don't even know how it escaped my notice before! But now that I can smell it, I'm disgusted with myself! I attacked you! How am I supposed to live with myself after that?!"

His hands clenched around the soil, digging into the earth as he growled and snarled in agony, rage, and self-hatred.

Kagome stared in complete awe at Inuyasha, her lips parted with shock. Never once had she ever seen Inuyasha so distraught.

"But I'm alive, so what's the problem?" she insisted.

"That's not the point!" Inuyasha bellowed, tearing up more clumps of earth, soil and grass. "You're not understanding! Why do you think I fight every demon we come across?! Why do you think I attack them without a second thought?! It's to keep you safe! That's my purpose! You should never have to worry whether or not I'll act you because I'm your guardian! I'm supposed to protect you, not harm you!"

Inuyasha's voice cracked on the last word and his words reverberated so thunderously throughout the forest that he scared away a flock of ravens in a nearby tree. The noise even disturbed the peace of Shippo's rest, for the young fox kit grunted in irritation and rolled over in his sleep.

"Inuyasha…." Kagome murmured.

"Just leave me alone, Kagome," he whispered quietly.

Watching him sadly, the modern-day girl said, "Alright," and got up. Plucking the discarded, bloodied bandages from the ground, she stood and hesitantly began walking toward the stream that was located on the outskirts of their campsite.

Peering back at the still demon, she informed him, "Um, I'm just going to be over here, okay?"

When he didn't respond, Kagome sighed and continued on her way. Squatting beside the cool stream, she dipped the rags into the clear water and scrubbed away as much blood as she could. While she worked, she kept running Inuyasha's words over in her head and replaying his tormented expression over and over in her mind's eye.

Maybe it's not a good idea to leave him alone for too long, she mused. It might be better if I'm there to stop him from doing anything foolhardy.

Wringing out the water from the rags so that they were only mildly damp, she folded them up neatly and hastened back toward the light of the camp.

Upon returning, the first thing she saw was Inuyasha lying flat on his back, silver hair sprawled out behind him. One arm was thrown over his eyes and his head turned to the side.

Without speaking, she carefully packed away the freshly washed bandages and the jar of salve. Just as she was closing off the mouth of the sack, a soft voice reached her ears.

"I'm sorry, Kagome," Inuyasha murmured faintly, still not looking her. "About attacking you."

Straightening, she angled her body toward the dog demon. "You didn't mean to," she reminded him kindly.

"I know that, but it seems to me you're always seeing that violent demon side of me," he whispered. "And… I'm not always like that. You… you bring out the human in me, and yet, you've never witnessed that side. I'm beginning to wish… that I was human so it would be impossible for me to lose control over my body, so I would never hurt you. I want to prove that I'm not a monster."

"Inuyasha, I already know that you aren't a monster," she said, walking over to him. "And don't you dare wish you were something else. There is nothing wrong with being the way you are. You love being a demon. You don't have t-"

Her toe struck the edge of a protruding rock and she tripped. Unable to catch her balance, Kagome tumbled directly on top of Inuyasha with a shocked cry. For several seconds, both of them were too stunned to realize what had just happened. Blinking in surprise, the two of them stared at each other in confusion. Suddenly, realization sunk it, and they both blushed.

"S-sorry," Kagome stammered shakily, very gradually lifting herself off of Inuyasha as if she was backing away from a rattlesnake.

Light sparkled in Inuyasha's golden eyes.

Before Kagome could scamper away, the dog demon seized her by the arm and dragged her back on top of him. Chocolate irises widened and a surprised gasp escaped her lips, her entire body stiffening as one strong, toned arm encircled her waist, keeping her pinned to him. Fixing her with a deep, piercing, amber gaze, Kagome's heart fluttered erratically in her chest and her breathing picked up speed.

"I-Inuyasha…?" she breathed weakly, unable to find her voice. "Wh-what're you doing?"

"Showing you my human side," he whispered softly.

Faster than she thought the injured demon could move, Inuyasha had flipped them over so that he was now on top and she was staring up in shock at him. A fine trembling overcame her body as her heart sputtered frantically.

Kagome swallowed thickly as she gazed wide-eyed up at the beautiful dog demon above her.

Everything about Inuyasha was practically dripping with seductiveness and sensuality. His silver-white hair cascaded over his shoulders, falling around them in silky curtains. The light breeze stirred his hair, trailing it over his face and brushing it against Kagome's skin. The moonlight reflected off his fair skin, giving it an unearthly, milky glow. Every line in his sculpted chest, stomach and arms was highlighted. His amber eyes were deeply intense with an emotion Kagome had never seen aimed at her. It was something she had only ever seen when he was looking at Kikyo.

Before her brain could accurately process what emotion it was, she was distracted by the feel of Inuyasha sliding his hand against the side of her face. Clawed fingers gently entwined in her hair. Then, suddenly, his mouth had descended upon hers, capturing her lips in an extremely passionate kiss.

For several long heartbeats, Kagome's mind went completely blank. Words stilled in her mind. Thoughts of the past and wonders of the future were forgotten. Anything that wasn't concerned with the present was unimportant now.

Her brain had completely shut down. No messages were being sent to the rest of her body to react to him. She couldn't remember how to move her arms or mouth or any other part of her body. She was reduced to simply staring up at Inuyasha's face in numb amazement.

When she didn't react to his kiss, Inuyasha pulled away from her lips. He averted his gaze, his eyes downcast and disheartened.

"Sorry," he murmured, his cheeks flushed in embarrassment.

Suddenly, everything came crashing back to Kagome. Thoughts whirled at super-speed within her head. Emotions of shock, wonder, and joy electrified every fiber of her being. The sequence of events fell into place, piecing together like a jigsaw puzzle. Everything made sense now

Inuyasha had kissed her.

And she hadn't kissed him back.

Before he could pull away completely, Kagome seized him around the back of his skull and dragged his mouth back to hers. It only took Inuyasha a second to register what was happening before his hands slid under her back, crushing her firmly to him and kissing her with every ounce of his soul.

The sheer passion and raw desire of the kiss knocked the breath right from her lungs. Clinging to him for dear life, Kagome kissed him back as best as she knew how to. What she lacked in skill, she made up with unbridled fervor that matched Inuyasha's. Fingers twisted in his hair. Gasps escaped her throat. Heat soared within her body. Her entire body shook intensely each and every time Inuyasha's his lips melded with hers.

Suddenly, he began to draw away from her mouth, and Kagome tightened her grip on him, unwilling to let him escape.

"No," she whimpered against his lips, trying to drag him back to her.

A light chuckle escaped him as he broke the kiss easily, his physical strength – even when injured – greatly surpassing Kagome's.

"Relax," he breathed, giving her a quick peck on the lips. "I'm not going anywhere."

Inuyasha lowered his head to plant tender butterfly kisses all along her cheek, jaw, and neck. She sighed, clutching at his bare back as another tiny quake ran through her delicate frame.

"Why… are you… shaking?" he murmured between kisses, cupping her chin and tilting her head back so that he could nuzzle the junction between her jaw and throat, nipping at the skin there.

"B-because I've never… done this b-before," she answered timidly, gasping and tightening her grip on him as he lightly sucked on her throat. "A-and I never dreamed th-that… you would actually ever be… doing this with m-me. Well… I dreamed… b-but I never thought… it would actually… happen…."

Inuyasha chuckled against her skin. It was a low, seductive sound that vibrated sensually against her skin and sent a jolt of pleasurable heat shooting straight through her. The noise had her panting with unspeakable desire.

"So, it's a good thing that you're shaking?" he breathed, lifting his head to lightly kiss her on the lips.

She shivered as he touched his forehead to hers, gazing intently into her eyes. His fingers combed through her black tresses, letting the satiny hair slide trough his fingers like liquid ink.

"It's a very good thing," she reassured him, one trembling hand lightly stroking his face.

Inuyasha grinned crookedly, one gleaming fang slipping from the upper corner of his lip, giving him a very mischievous appearance.

"Well, then," he murmured, leaning close to her ear and whispered, "Let's see if I can get you to shiver a little more."

A pleasured shudder passed through her as Inuyasha licked down the shell of her ear, ending it with a little nibble on her earlobe. Her reaction only made Inuyasha grin wider.

"Hmm…" he mused thoughtfully. "That's almost too simple. Perhaps I should challenge myself a little more. Maybe I should try to make you moan instead."

Kagome blushed scarlet and Inuyasha chuckled seductively.

"I'll consider that as an invitation to go ahead," he breathed, capturing her lips.

Clutching her to his chest, Inuyasha rolled so that they were both lying on their sides without breaking the kiss. One hand pillowed the uninjured, right side of her face with his fingers entwined in her hair. Kagome's hands rested lightly on Inuyasha's chest, very lightly and timidly stroking the line of his collarbone with her fingertips. Such a simple touch made Inuyasha growl with desire and crush his lips more firmly against hers.

Using his one free arm, Inuyasha fastened her arms firmly around his neck. Breaking the kiss, he whispered huskily, "Keep your arms there. They're acting as a shield should the little runt wake up. Don't want him to see what we're doing, now do we?"

Kagome's cheeks heated up. "Wh-what exactly are we doing that would be bad for Shippo to see?"

He grinned, his hand falling to her obi. "This."

With one quick tug, the loosely tied obi fell free as he kissed her, and his hand slipped under the fabric of the kimono. Kagome gasped when his hand touched the bare skin of her hip. A tiny whimper escaped her he lightly dragged his palm up and down her side, his claws gently scratching her skin. Goose bumps broke out over every place he touched.

Breaking away from a panting Kagome, Inuyasha gently kissed along the claw marks he had made on her cheek. Rather than hurting, Inuyasha's tender kisses seemed to be soothing the pain of the wounds, and sparking a fire deep within the pit of Kagome's stomach. Gasping, her fingers dug into his thick hair as his hand crept higher and higher up on her ribs, teasingly tickling the wraps that encircled her breasts and chest. She groaned in frustration as he skirted around her breasts and shimmied up the side of the arms enveloping his neck. His fingertips traced her collarbone, then slipped under the fabric of the bandages and carefully sliced them open with his claws.

His fingers gently retraced the claw marks slashed on the left side of her chest, just over where her heart was located. Dipping his head down, Inuyasha kissed and licked his way down the girl's panting, trembling throat, working his way to the red slashes. He kissed the exposed wounds as his hand finally left her collarbone to lightly stroke her breast.

Kagome gasped, her eyes flying open, and Inuyasha smiled against her skin.

"Are you enjoying my human side?" he whispered, lifting his head to kiss her softly.

"Y-yes, b-but Inuyasha," Kagome panted, wrapping her arms tightly around him, "You're not th-thinking of ch-changing into a h-human once we complete the Shikon J-jewel, are you?"

"I've considered it," he admitted, lightly squeezing her breast, just to see her throw her head back and utter a pleasured cry.

"B-but you love b-being a demon," she gasped, tucking her head into the crook of his neck as she fought to catch her breath. "And I d-don't want you to ch-change."

Drawing back slightly to look into her eyes, Inuyasha removed his hand from her breast to cup her cheek and tilted her head up to him. "I may love being a demon," Inuyasha murmured, "but I love you more."

And he bowed his head once more to kiss her passionately.

And that concludes Claw Marks On My Heart. I hope you all enjoyed it!

As always, please inform me of any mistakes.