Disclaimers: I do not own InuYasha or any of the manga/anime characters. They belong to the wonderful genius Rumiko Takahashi.

This was written as part of a gift!fic offering I made at LiveJournal in the spirit of the season.

Prompt from inufan625 - Let's see Inu/Kag (of course)- maybe first new moon of their separation- either perspective or maybe both? Maybe exploring their connection?

Not Just Another New Moon

An ear flicked back as he picked up the heavy steps that trudged towards him. Sighing, he tried to ignore them and lowered his chin back on his hands which were resting on the edge of the ancient well.

When the voice spoke, it was hoarse with age though soft with understanding. "InuYasha, will you not you walk me back to my hut? It will be dark soon. With no moon tonight, I will not be able to see my way through the forest," Kaede said.

"Then you'd better get going," he responded, not bothering to turn around.

Kaede moved closer and rapped him over the head. "And what would Kagome think if she were to return, only to find out you were killed by some lower youkai because you stayed out here by this well? If not for your own sake, then for hers, come back with me. Besides, I know you must be hungry. You have hunted and brought me game, but you have eaten nothing yourself. I have that nice fat rabbit you brought me cooking in a stew. And to answer your questions, Shippou has gone for now. He returned to those kitsune friends of his, and Rin is spending the night with a family in the village that has a girl her age."

Cursing under his breath at her logic and rubbing his head from where she'd struck him, InuYasha willed himself to stand and leave his spot by the well. He turned to find that Kaede was already on her way out of the clearing. He hurried to catch up with her when he realized how low the sun was on the horizon.

The hanyou realized that he should have known that the old miko would give him refuge for the night. It was the first new moon since he'd returned Kagome to her home, and he honestly didn't know what he would do with himself. He'd gotten used to his comrades' presence during the moonless nights since he'd accumulated his strange entourage, but with Kagome gone, he truly felt lost. He did not know if the others would still want to keep him company and, not to mention, Sango and Miroku were still newlyweds and, well, doing newlywed things. It seemed like such a long time since he had to spend the night of the new moon alone, in hiding, and terrified of being found.

He sighed somewhat in relief as he trudged behind Kaede. Not only would she provide him a safe place of refuge for the night, she would not pepper him with numerous questions. She would let him talk if he wanted and she would actually listen to what he said – not that he was planning on saying anything, but sometimes his human heart got the better of him. For some reason, in spite of everything, she never judged him.

He was torn from his thoughts when she said, "Go on inside, InuYasha. I'll get a bowl of stew for you."

He went through the doorway and settled into his accustomed place against the wall. Tessaiga rested across his lap, even though… he closed his eyes as the change washed through him… it would be useless as a weapon now.

He accepted the bowl from her and nodded his thanks.

"It will be cold tonight. I am glad you decided to join me," the old miko said as she stirred the fire.

InuYasha shrugged his shoulders. "Nowhere else to be."

If Kaede thought about saying something, she kept it to herself.

InuYasha blew on his stew to cool it a little. Burning his tongue when he was mortal hurt as much, if not more, than it did when he was hanyou – not to mention it stayed sore at lot longer.

"I thought she'd leave me, you know." He took a sip from the bowl and then stared into it.

His companion didn't have to ask who he was referring to, but she remained silent knowing he would probably be more likely to continue if she didn't interrupt.

The hanyou turned human continued, "That first time I turned mortal in front of her. I thought she'd see me as weak and up and leave, but she stayed and protected me."

"Did she," Kaede commented.

He nodded. "She was the first person besides my mother who ever knew when my night of weakness was."

"You mean…" the miko was considering the implications.

"Kikyou never knew – I don't even know if she knew I did turn human, that all hanyou do at some time," he confessed.

"So you trusted Kagome in a way you never trusted my sister," she speculated.

InuYasha admitted, "Yeah." He fell silent.

"InuYasha," Kaede called his attention softly, "Do not feel guilty for your trust in Kagome. I know that my sister never truly trusted you either – it was the reason Naraku was able to trick each of you. Kagome not only trusted you in return, but I know that she showed you compassion in a way no other probably ever had. She also did not show you the prejudice that you had become accustomed to from humans.

"You avenged my sister's death, and you helped to put her soul to rest. I could expect no more from you than that, and I am grateful for all that you have done. And yet, I know you must feel lonely now that Kagome has returned to her home."

The hanyou sighed. "It isn't just that – I didn't get to tell her how I felt before I returned her to her home. I screamed it to the youkai in the Shikon no Tama before it was destroyed, but I never told Kagome."

"I am certain that she knows in her heart how you feel, just as you must know in yours how she felt about you," Kaede said gently.

"The last thing she told me before she made her wish was that she wanted to be with me…" his voice trailed away.

"But then she went home," Kaede finished for him.

He nodded. "I couldn't blame her. She was scared to death inside the jewel – it kept her in the dark and alone for those three days we were in it. It was trying to frighten her into wishing herself back to her era so she would be stuck inside the jewel forever with Naraku to renew the battle. When we were finally free and the well took us to her home, her family was there all crying and carrying on, and she was too. I left her and came back, but the well closed… all I can hope now is that she is safe and happy."

"Do you think she will ever return?" she asked.

InuYasha stuffed his hands in his sleeves and looked down. "I don't know. When we were in the jewel I thought it was our fate to meet, but maybe it was only to meet and not to stay together."

"Perhaps she was sent here to undo the wrong my sister committed when she sealed you to the Tree and to help you avenge yourself and Kikyou," Kaede suggested.

He shrugged his shoulders. "But she did so much more than that… it's because of her that I have friends and I learned to trust others…"

"Aye… you've come a very long way since you were unsealed, InuYasha. However, I always knew you had a kind heart underneath that gruff and rude exterior."

InuYasha snorted and blushed.

"So this is where you're hiding!" They were interrupted when Miroku's head popped through the doorway. He held the covering aside long enough for Sango to pass through and then let if fall into place behind them. "Why the interesting shade of red, my hanyou friend?"

"None of your fucking business," InuYasha mumbled.

"I was just saying that you two newlyweds were probably still doing what newlyweds do, so I did not know if you would remember about tonight," Kaede offered.

InuYasha looked up just enough to catch her eye and he raised an eyebrow.

"We thought we could give it a rest for one evening. We didn't want you to be stuck with a grumpy mortal InuYasha for the entire night by yourself, so we came to keep you company," Sango said.

"And I wanted to discuss with InuYasha going into the youkai extermination business for a fee," Miroku added. "Naraku may be gone but there are still plenty of other demons out there causing problems. Between the two of us, I think we could take care of just about any of them."

"You want to do that with me?" the temporarily mortal hanyou questioned.

Miroku nodded eagerly and launched into the explanation of his ideas, and told them about the peasant from another village that had approached him that afternoon.

InuYasha found his mind wandering away, wondering what Kagome was doing five hundred years in the future. He had finally realized that his heart belonged solely to her, and he could only hope that it was not too late. He was certain that she loved him too, but knew she had things to do in her world. He would wait for her return and do his best to fill in the days in the meantime. And at least he knew that this time, he wasn't alone. He had friends who would help pass the days away – he had a place to belong.

With that in mind, he turned his attention back to Miroku just in time to keep from being rapped over the head with his staff. Grabbing it with his hand he said, "Don't even think about it, Bouzou. I may be human but I can still take you."

Miroku grinned. "That's the InuYasha we know and love."

InuYasha thrust the shakujou away from him. "Feh." But inside his heart swelled, because thanks to Kagome, he finally understood what love was – and that it was worth waiting for.