A/N: This is my second K/K fic, and it's morphed into another AU (I seem incapable of clinging to anything canon). Join me for a new adventure with everyone's favorite wolf youkai and impulsive, modern girl, this time far from Sengoku Jidai ^_^.
Chapter I – The Crossing
Kagome walked with bent head and clenched hands, an overstuffed backpack weighing down her shoulders. Her steps were hurried and determined – she was going home.
A bright light shone from her neck, swaying as she deftly crossed rocks and upraised roots along the familiar trek to the portal that had started her journey so long ago. The shikon-no-tama, whole for the first time in three years, hung at her collar, glowing and purified except for the small, black prick of Naraku's parting corruption.
As her heels touched earth, Kagome waited for a voice to call through the trees, objecting to her departure with swears and poorly-veiled irritation, punctuated by the rustle of haori and a strong hand on her arm. Inu-Yasha knew she wore the jewel and was trying to rid Sengoku Jidai of its presence. He would come – would protest.
The woods around Kaede-sama's village remained quiet. Kagome glanced behind her; empty path and flattened grass were her only company.
She sped up. Boughs brushed each other, watching the girl move as if chased.
Reaching the Bone Eater's Well, she heaved her bag over its worn edge, following it with a hasty heel. A sound came from the dense trunks and gnarled branches, and Kagome looked up warily. Leaves rustled together as a strong gust swept the forest.
The trees continued to creak.
"Are you there?" She squinted into the dancing green, sunlight trickling through the canopy and casting wide shadows. She thought she saw movement in one to her left, and yelled, "Oswari!"
No impact came. The wind fell away, and the leaves stilled.
Kagome instinctively clutched the jewel, roaming over now silent trees. A thick swallow caught in her throat.
He hadn't come.
She ducked her head, willing herself to inhale. Palming the mouth of the well, she gazed into its dark depths; her backpack had already disappeared into her own time, and she let her fingers curl around the soft wood, beginning to rot.
Like my importance here.
Closing her eyes, she pulled herself up and over. Inky black engulfed her, and the square of light above grew small, flickering as the outline of a figure stepped up to watch her descent.
"Mother!" Sandaled feet plowed through the front door. "Kagome's back!"
A woman's face appeared by the wall. "Take off your shoes Souta."
The boy shook his head. "She's not alone! There are three youkai with her!"
Mrs. Higurashi put hands to her hips, eying his approach toward house tile. "Three?"
"Yeah," Souta rushed for her hand. "And none of them are Inu-Yasha!"
Her gaze widened. "What?"
"I know! And you're worrying about scuff marks! Come on!"
Together, they ran for the shrine. Loud voices sounded inside, and Mrs. Higurashi slowed, pulling Souta to her side. "Wait," she tightened hold of his palm. "Give your sister a minute."
"You have to see them!" He tugged against her. "They look like wolves!"
"All the more reason."
He winced as a shrill shriek pierced the air. "She sounds mad."
Kagome's familiar voice peaked again, and he remembered the tone well from his younger days of trespassing in her room. His ears rang, whether from memory or present shouts.
"I hope they're friends of hers," Mrs. Higurashi murmured. A burst of louder zeal erupted, and her daughter's language grew colorful.
"That's why we should look."
"It's rude to eavesdrop."
"Ma, she's yelling," Souta rolled his eyes with the beginnings of teenager. "She's not trying to hide anything."
"And you're not fooling anyone," she countered, pursing her lips. "Just being nosy."
Despite her scold, she stepped forward, peering from the door's corner. Sifting through the well-house's darkness, she found Kagome poking an angry finger into a man's armored chest. He was a stranger – tall, scowling and covered in fur – and accompanied by a pair as armored as he. The duo leaned on the well's wooden lip in lazy confidence that was starting to stiffen at Kagome's continued displeasure. One of them had her backpack slung over a shoulder and straightened, unable to maintain his ease.
The Higurashis went unnoticed. Their trio of visitors, far from human, would have sensed intrusion, if not for Kagome. Her scent and volume filled the air, rising throughout the musty room like a looming wave about to sweep the coast. She held all attention.
"You're not listening Nee-san," the youkai holding her backpack raised hands for calm, the multi-buckled, yellow convenience looking foreign beside his dated breastplate – one of many stark signs he didn't belong to this time. Pointed ears, twitching nose, and a nearly-quelled predatory glint in his eyes marked him far more. Her bag hung forgotten against him, pressing into a mantle of thick fur. "It's dangerous to carry the shikon-no-tama by yourself."
"We were just worried," the other chimed in.
Kagome continued to stare up, unaffected; it wasn't their responses she sought.
Souta squinted into the dim beside his mother, desperately curious. The towering youkai holding her glare was intimidating and otherworldly. He looked even angrier than she did – eyes hard and claws curled for a fight.
His sister seemed oblivious. "It doesn't explain why you're here," her finger jabbed for an answer. "How did you cross the barrier Kouga?"
A darker scowl was her only reply.
"Ginta?" She turned to the wolf with her bag. "How?"
The man shrank under her gaze. "We just followed you and jumped in after you disappeared."
Kouga glared back at the well, and his subordinate visibly flinched. Reaching out, he grabbed the girl's hand roughly, ignoring her protest. The contact was a far cry from the tender clasps he'd taken in Sengoku Jidai.
"We came to protect you," his low voice filled the well-house, foreign and new.
Kagome tried yanking her arm back. "I don't need your help. Let go."
He kept hold easily. "I don't see him here," he said knowingly. "Why did you travel alone?"
She flushed. "I can take care of myself."
Even the youngest Higurashi, hardly versed in his sister's exchanges with men, could see the words struck a chord.
Kouga glowered. "Not with the shikon-no-tama in plain sight."
She shook her head, unaware of the precipice she skirted. "I didn't run into trouble in the forest."
He pulled her hand behind his waist, forcing her close. "We dispatched the demons trailing you."
Nose at armor, she glared up. "Nobody asked you to."
Souta's eyes widened as a swish of moving fur cut through the air behind the man.
"Well we're here," he growled. "Get over it."
Kagome's mouth dropped. "You can't talk to me like that!"
"Why?" Irritation made his tone dry. "You are."
Her mouth fell lower. "Am not!"
With a sigh, Kouga tried softening the creeping edge in his words. "Don't be like this," fury and concern at her lack of escort had fueled his pursuit, and they were a heady mix to come down from, especially when his presence seemed only to annoy. He was also aware of the spying eyes – and their familial ties. They smelled much like the woman he was trying to stare down. Although Kagome left little else to focus on, consuming and addicting in her ire, her safety was still paramount. No one – kin or otherwise – would sneak up without his knowledge; a priority he thought Inu-Yasha shared as well. "We just traveled through a well without knowing, or caring, about its depth to make sure you arrived home safe," he didn't reveal their audience. Another whiff told him her pack mates were too full of curiosity to impose.
Pink rose in the girl's cheeks, and she shook her head, brushing black bangs against him. "Mission accomplished. Now go."
Even with onlookers, Kouga felt his confusion rise, mingling in a painfully-obvious grimace across his face. He'd grown accustomed to her polite rebuffs and friendly smiles – this new clipped curtness was unfamiliar, and… unpleasant. He fought to keep his voice even. "What's wrong with you?"
"Wrong?" The question spiked high, and Kagome pushed against his chest, struggling to pry her forehead from his collar. She spoke into his chest plate, tasting the bite of washed off blood. "Everyone treats me like I'm about to break," she said. "I don't need chaperones or babysitters. I'm perfectly capable of going places on my own."
"Everyone?" He arched a brow. Or me? "I smelled you," he neglected to mention how he'd been nearby, patrolling the human village. Her scent had descended like an assault, and he'd raced in a near panic, sure she was in trouble. "You were scared," he reached for her chin, bringing her face up.
Kagome tried pulling away. "Not from what you think," his fingers were gentle but firm.
Blue eyes gauged hers. "Try me."
He stared down, gathering up the sting of his unimportance before it splayed everywhere. Several silent seconds passed. Souta guessed it wasn't just he and Mom who were invisible; the two youkai by the well started to fidget in discomfort.
Kouga threw on another frown. "Do you get this worked up with Inu-koro?" He finally asked.
Kagome matched his glower. "Don't bring him into this."
"You obviously have him in mind," he muttered.
"Hit a nerve?" His gaze narrowed. "What'd he do now?"
A growl simmered in Kouga's chest, growing loud. "Why? I don't have the right?"
Kagome struggled more. "Let me go. You're being a jerk!"
"Imitating the best!"
"Y-You!" She sputtered. "Oswari!"
Kouga's eyes widened. No amount of self-control hid his shock and pain now. He released her chin—burned.
Hakkaku and Ginta's stares, which had grown more and more downcast with their exchange, lifted.
"We're not dogs Nee-san," Ginta peered over. "Why yell like that?"
Hakkaku, hair high in a mohawk, tapped his chin. "Isn't that the subduing spell you use on Inu-koro?"
Kagome's blush resurged.
Kouga pushed down his turmoil, rolling his eyes. "And you're not thinking of him? Right."
Souta saw the movement again, a flash of jerking brown, and realized it was an extra appendage. "Look Ma! He has a tail!
The group turned, and Kagome's mouth fell. "Souta! Mama!" Surprise widened her eyes. "H-How long have you been standing there?"
The Higurashis waved, and her mother gestured vaguely.
"Only a bit dear."
Kouga tilted his head toward them, as if their arrival was new to him. "Your pack?"
"Yes," the start of smile evaporated from her face. "They belong in this world."
"Oh come on Kagome," Hakkaku pushed off of the well. "Don't be angry. We only wanted to keep you safe and see you before you left forever."
She scoffed. "You came because Kouga told you to."
Kouga tugged her wrist again. A choking bile welled up, and he swallowed it with all the control he could muster. "Stop with these 'low blows'," his voice was thick as he coined one of her phrases. How could she think she mattered so little to his two lieutenants? Were he and they so easily waved away? Trivial and silly in their want to say goodbye?
"Low? They did," she insisted. "Ow! Leave my arm in its socket."
"Than play nice," he could barely utter the words. Nice wasn't how he felt himself.
"Nice?" She resented the word as much as he, rising to tip-toes and just reaching his chin. "You come here uninvited and reference things that are none of your business. I don't have to be nice."
"Inu-Yasha never needed an invitation," he said curtly.
"And he got this reaction."
He bit back a retort – several in fact – and it was a long moment while he rallied, trying to maintain composure. This was not going well. Dark bangs fell into his eyes. "Do you really want us to go?" He asked, deflating. Was this the self she kept hidden behind gentle exchanges and genial shoulder-pats? Even in full view of her pack's matriarch?
Souta leapt from the door, landing in the well-house's earthen floor. "No! Stay!"
"Cub?" Kouga felt the dark depression threatening to swallow him lighten a bit; the boy shared Kagome's affinity for earnestness. "Why?"
"She always stays longer when Inu-Yasha's here," he said. "She'll visit longer with you here too."
The depression crashed anew. "I don't know about that," he managed a bitter half-smile.
Kagome sank to her heels, glancing at her brother. "They need to get back Souta," her words softened, as if he were still only eight and chest-high.
Ginta's face fell. "But we wanted—."
"To escort me safely right?" She moved her free arm from Kouga's chest, sweeping to the walls of the shrine. "You have."
Kouga shook his head, dispelling the shadows gnawing his insides; there would be plenty of time later to let them fully consume. "Your world has its dangers too."
"Yes," Kagome conceded, staying civil as her brother's eyes flicked between them. "But I handle them just fine."
Kouga's tail twitched again.
"Please leave," her voice came gentler. "I appreciate your concern."
"'Appreciate'?" He snorted. "I see."
He released her, watching as she withdrew from his armor, and turned to the pair still by the Bone Eater's dark mouth. "Come on. We're not needed here," the order was more bark than speech. Even Souta saw he fumed.
Kagome reached out, feeling sudden remorse. Like her brother, she could see his angst, and for the first time realized there had been a painful amount of bite in her words. "Don't get upset."
"No, I understand," Kouga brushed her hand aside, steeling himself against the kindness and regret he now heard – more of what he'd gotten all along. He was done with her pity. "I don't know why I needed it said in such variety," he snapped his fingers, and the backpack dropped abruptly. "Let's go."
Souta watched the other two youkai spring high into the air. "Wait!"
They gave somber waves and disappeared down. Kouga turned to follow, and the boy clenched his hands.
"You're just going to do as she says?" He muttered. "Inu-Yasha never does."
He knew exactly the name to mention. Mrs. Higurashi's mouth drew to a thin line, sinking in disapproval.
Kouga's tail whipped, shoving air so hard it whistled. "I'm not him, as your sister makes very clear," bending knees, he sprang from the floor to the well's wooden edge. Without glancing back, he jumped in – dark tips of hair vanishing.
A loud thud and curse shot up behind him. The Higurashis looked to each other and rushed forward. Gazing down, they saw three wolves tangled together in a mess at the well's bottom.
"What?!" Kagome gripped where Kouga's feet had been. She swung herself over, landing atop them; knees pushed all the breath from Kouga's lungs, and he struggled to recover.
"You're surprisingly heavy Nee-san," came a grunt from the pile.
"I just fell twenty feet," she shot waspishly. Reaching through fur-cuffed limbs, she felt hard-packed earth below. Her hand moved with growing worry, spreading out in a radius of search. It was all dirt. Just dirt. A shiver ran down her spine. "The well's sealed."
Kouga managed to sit up, knocking her from his chest to lap. "How?"
Kagome examined the dark walls surrounding them—starkly defined by the light at her collar. She curled fingers around the jewel, feeling it pulse in her palm. "The shikon-no-tama must have somehow closed the portal," she said slowly.
She shook her head. "I don't know."
A voice spoke under her. "Guess we're not leaving then?"
"Jii-chan, have you found anything?" Kagome watched her grandfather teeter on the ladder as he searched deep shelves, throwing out boxes, scrolls, and every kind of Ofuda spell imaginable.
The old man paid her question no mind, tossing back a cloudy, glass orb. "Make sure you're catching these dear."
Kagome cried out, diving forward as it disappeared in a flash of brown. "What—?" She spun around. Kouga stood at her back, holding the relic in an outstretched palm. "How'd you—?" She lifted a finger as her mouth fell.
Kouga tucked it under his arm and took her hand without answer, pulling her behind him. A twine-wrapped box hurtled for the space where she'd just been, and he grabbed it easily, adding it to the orb.
Kagome stared past his shoulders, slack-jawed. She watched as he saved a dozen other items, appearing in different corners of the workshop faster than she could follow.
When his arms were full, he returned to her side. Noting her surprise, he offered a small smile.
"Kouga," she eyed the scrolls, platters, and talismans piled high against his chest. "When'd you get so fast? You haven't been able to move like that since your shards were stolen."
His smile slid
Ginta and Hakkaku, equally laden, heard a familiar grind of clenched teeth. Their long ears twitched.
"Nee-san," Ginta spoke through the clutter in his arms. "Lord Kouga doesn't need the shikon-no-tama for speed," he glanced to the tight-set of his leader's back.
"I know but—."
"We're full youkai," Hakkaku added. "Our abilities far exceed those of… a-a hanyou."
Kouga cleared his throat. "What's your elder looking for?" He gestured with the last bit of mobility left to him, jutting a chin to the man balancing on the ladder's highest rung.
Kagome's grandfather glared over his shoulder. "Elder? I'm a fourth your age. Don't use me to change the subject."
Kagome dropped it, realizing she had offended. "He's trying to find a spell to reopen the well. Right Jii-chan?"
A mummified hand sailed across the room in response, and Souta hopped up to grab it. "Whoa," he stared at the frayed, yellowing wrappings. "Cool."
Kagome made a face. "Isn't that the Kappa hand you gave me for my fifteenth birthday? I thought Buyo ate it."
"Father," Mrs. Higurashi spoke with warning. "Be careful."
Relieved at the conversation's shift, Kouga joined in. "How dangerous can this junk be?" He asked, mustering a scoff usually reserved for dog-eared, white-haired bullies.
The old man's glare turned baleful. "That jewel you're all so worried about came from me. I gave it to Kagome three years ago, along with the hand."
The three wolves paled.
"Yeah," Kagome didn't notice their reaction, letting her voice go dry. "You're not mentioning how you used to have piles of the thing. It was the well that gave the shikon-no-tama power."
He ignored her. "As strangers, you're lucky I don't hex you all right now," he eyed them meaningfully.
Without further prompting, Ginta bowed low, juggling his load. "I'm Ginta of Enma."
Hakkaku palmed his chest, touching the heavy chain laced across it. Artifacts poked out from under an arm. "Hakkaku of Kirisute."
Souta blinked at the family names. Grandpa nodded sagely, as if recognizing their lineage.
"And this," they spoke together. "Is Lord Kouga, prince of the Eastern Wolf Tribe."
"That's… nice," Mrs. Higurashi caught an ornamented candlestick her father threw over his shoulder without breaking stride. A little tag around its base read 'Sacred Holder of Immortal Good Luck Flame'. "So how come you've never brought them to visit before Kagome?" She asked lightly.
The girl heard through her nonchalance. "They didn't travel with Inu-Yasha and I."
"I see," the indifference didn't falter. "How did you meet then?"
Kouga met Kagome's eye. "It's a long story."
Unspoken words passed between them. Her long ago capture and his declaration of ownership would not be mentioned.
"We fought together against the Gokuraku-chou – winged youkai who sought shikon shards," Kagome started. "I saw Kouga's home and met Hakkaku and Ginta. After that, our paths crossed frequently."
Her mother reached up to rescue an encased set of sake cups. "Ah, so you became friends?" They bore a similar label, declaring more scared immortal-ness.
"Of sorts," Kagome smiled as Kouga snatched a threadbare shawl before it landed over her face, claws bunching the moth-chewed fabric inches from her nose.
"Thank you," she turned her smile on him.
He grunted, slinging it over a shoulder.
"Kagome?" Mrs. Higurashi glanced to the other wolves. "Why do these boys call you sister?"
Her face went hot. "Uh… they have… attachment issues," she couldn't say they thought of her as a sister-in-law.
"Issues?" Hakkaku grinned. "How did we ever manage all those decades before you came along?"
"Yeah," Ginta joined in the grin. "You're our sister cause you and Kouga will one day be—."
"Ah-ha!" Kagome's grandfather cried in triumph, retrieving a small velvet box and climbing down the ladder.
"What is it?" The girl winced at the relief in her voice, and ignored her mother's eyes, leaving Kouga's side. The three youkai followed, crowding close.
The old man cleared his throat, aware for once he had an audience. "These," he opened the lid. "Are chikai gems."
Six sets of eyes stared down at four small studs, each perfectly round and dark blue.
"They look like earrings," Kagome reached for one and received a hearty swat from her grandfather
"They are," he said. "Sacred, immortal, chikai earrings. They have a long and colored history, dating back to—."
She held up her red hand. "Are they what we need?"
"Oh absolutely," his tone grew knowing. "These will solve your problem."
Kouga stared from over the pile clutched to his chest. "What are we supposed to do with them?" He sounded skeptical. "Wear them?"
He scoffed. "I wouldn't be caught dead—."
The old man moved like lightning, poking one in each of the demons' lobes. Three snarls rose simultaneously.
"You old bat!"
Kagome's grandfather rocked back on his heels, smiling at his work.
Kouga, Ginta, and Hakkaku glowered.
Kagome clapped her hands together. Jii-chan's a genius! "And these will let them back through the well's portal?" She glanced eagerly at the remaining earring nestled in more velvet. When she needed it, it would be there.
"Through the well?" Confusion lined his wrinkled face. "No, no. These won't do anything for that."
Her delight paled. "What? Why not?"
"Cause that's not what chikai earrings do."
A dread began to grow in the pit of her stomach. Grandpa's spells were rarely as helpful as he planned them to be. "Then what are they for?"
"Chikai means close by," he began chanting under his breath. Everyone stared as he closed his eyes, raised arms to Kagome and Souta, and chanted louder.
"Father, what are you doing?" Mrs. Higurashi frowned.
The intonations died down. "I could hear them arguing from the house," his words regained their intelligibility. "So loud. There's no respect for those who nap these days," he muttered. "If Kouga's stuck here, even temporarily, he and Kagome are going to need to learn to get along," he opened his eyes. "I won't have them scaring away customers."
Mrs. Higurashi's look turned dry. "Ones you attend to while sleeping?"
"Don't be flippant, dear."
Kouga itched his ear against his shoulder. "What spell have you cast?"
"You're now attached to Kagome," he gestured to Ginta and Hakkaku. "And they to Souta."
A twitch started over Kagome's eye. "How does this fix anything?"
Her grandfather wiped his hands together. "Hopefully it'll teach you a bit of tolerance while you try to uncover the well's mysterious close."
"I thought you were going to reopen the well."
"Me? Oh, no," he folded his arms into wide sleeves. "Ofuda spells only seal."
Kagome's twitch spread to her entire face. "You said you were looking for a way through!"
"Yes," the old man glanced to the giant stacks loading their visitors. "I didn't find any. I thought this would be a good second," he returned to her. "Are you alright? Your face is doing something strange."
She closed her eyes, inhaling slowly. Annoyance throbbed at her temple. "How is this a second choice?"
His gaze was wise as he observed her reaction. "Their ears are too long to conceal," he explained. "And modern attire isn't made to accommodate Kouga's tail."
Frustration gave way to confusion, and Kagome shook her head, not catching on.
He sighed. "You were always worried about Inu-Yasha wandering. With the chikai spell, they won't go anywhere without you knowing."
"They aren't Inu-Yasha."
"Exactly. They're much harder to hide," her grandfather stared pointedly. "And the proximity will be good for you young one. I think being in Sengoku Jidai has made you rather… prickly."
Kagome's face turned thunderous. "Prickly?"
Kouga grinned, catching the attempt at diplomacy. "Did I miss that?" He spun to his lieutenants. "Did he just say what I think he did? Who else heard?"
Hakkaku and Ginta, watching Kagome, backed up.
The girl whirled around, verging on snarl, "Something to add?"
"Me?" Kouga's eyes widened innocently. "No."
His grin grew smug. "Crazy how reminders to be nice came up twice in one afternoon. Must be just us though."
"Gods you're lovely," he glanced at the ceiling, exaggerating an overcome look. "It's practically blinding."
Kagome's thunder became raging storm. "When did you get so sarcastic?"
"When I got fast."
The other two youkai gaped, dividing attention between the pair.
Kagome's face went hot, and she clenched her hands into fists at her sides. "This is all your fault!"
"Really?" The teasing left Kouga's voice, and an edge appeared. "Did I foolishly travel alone carrying a jewel that sealed the well? Or shriek so loudly I woke a grudge-prone old man?"
"I didn't do ANYTHING!" She shot back. "I just came home!" Kagome struggled to hold back her temper, its sudden power surprising her. "You were the one who followed."
"If you'd been more gracious—."
"For what? Being coddled and made to feel like I can't do anything myself?!"
"Inu-Yasha treats you exactly the same!"
"And he's not here! Shouldn't that say something?!"
Mrs. Higurashi pursed her lips, wondering if her daughter really couldn't see the pain she caused this boy.
Kouga felt his own rage surge. "It says that maybe – unbelievably – he's smarter than me. I am here!" He was in no mood for her lashing-out when it obviously had little to do with him, almost wishing for one of her bright, empty smiles. "Stop comparing me to him!"
Kagome matched his anger. "You're the one who brought him up!"
"Because you're being ridiculous and unfair!"
"There you go shrieking again! Crazed banshee!"
"You a parrot too?"
"DOESN'T WORK!" Kouga bellowed, ire scorching his insides. "I'm NOT him!"
"VERY AWARE!" Kagome's shoulders rose and fell fast. "THANK YOU!"
"You hide it well!"
"Stop BAITING me!"
Souta stared with wide eyes. "Uh… sis…?"
"What?!" Kagome turned on her brother.
He drew back. "Why're you so angry?"
Souta swallowed. "You only yell like this with—."
"Don't say it!" Kagome palmed the air by his face.
"I just didn't think anyone else could—?"
"What'd I say?! Stop," her arm dropped, and she raked furious fingers through her hair, conscious of all eyes on her.
"Father," Mrs. Higurashi looked worried. "Was this a good idea? They don't seem like the best match…."
"All the more reason," he watched his granddaughter grapple for composure. "She's forgotten a lot of her civility living in the past so long."
Kagome breathed long and slow, letting her face cool, and managed a glance at Kouga. Red splotched his cheeks, and a snarl twisted his mouth. Through the pile in his tense arms, she saw his chest heave.
He caught her staring. Their eyes locked, and she saw unmistakable hurt mixed with his anger.
Her gaze fell to the floor. Ashamed, she spun for the door.
"Going somewhere?" Her mother's worry turned to surprise.
She nodded. "To take another look at the well-house."
Her grandfather motioned to a clock on the wall. "But it's almost dinner."
Kagome ignored him, feeling only Kouga's eyes on her back. Crossing the room with jerking steps, she forced herself to move rather than study. As she neared the far wall, a strange tugging overtook her. It was strong – magnetic and demanding – and a strangled yelp followed. Glass, clay, and metal relics crashed down, and heavy armor suddenly slammed into her back. Kouga collided hard, and the two tumbled to the ground, landing amidst broken bits of orb.
"Waaah!" Floor filled Kagome's face. "Kouga! What are you doing?!"
"Nothing! I didn't move!"
"Yeah right," she struggled to rise up on her elbows. "Get off!"
He placed palms on either side of her, lifting his weight from her frame. "I didn't!"
"Well move now! I can't breathe!"
"You have enough air for screech," he said dryly.
Fury flooded her scent. "We're not starting again. Up. Now."
As Kouga rose, Souta glanced to the wolf youkai by his grandfather. The spell seemed to be exempt from Jii-chan's usual magical impotence. Ginta and Hakkaku returned his gaze, and all three drew closer.
"Just to be safe."
"I'm pretty small to get landed on."