I'll Not Force Your Heart

Disclaimer: I do not own the characters of Inuyasha, nor do I make any profit from these stories.

A/N: This here is the very first story I ever wrote, and frankly, it sucked. I had a major edit-fest on its ass just to make it bearable. Guess you could say it was my first and only PWP - though it had just a bit of plot to make it bearable. Oh well, I guess we're all subject to smut, in one way or another.

Amber

---sSs---

Kagome watched as Inuyasha stared at the sky where Kikyo's soul collectors were swarming. He was going to go. Turning her face away, she missed the thoughtful look he gave her, before he leaped into the trees and followed the glowing white youkai. She felt tears rising, and determined to be strong, not to let their friends see her pain, she forced them back through sheer force of will.

Suddenly, she felt a wave of dizziness crash over her, and a heat in her body that burned like she had fallen into the fire that was cheerily glowing in front of her. She gasped, and wobbled for a moment, unsteady even while sitting.

What is wrong with me? This has been happening for days now... almost as long as Inuyasha's been acting funny.

When Sango started to rise, holding her hand out to Kagome, she waved her back down. "I'm fine, Sango, just got a little dizzy for a moment. I think I might have a cold, I'm starting to run a fever. I'll be fine, I have medicine in my bag to take care of it."

"Are you sure, Kagome?" Sango asked doubtfully. "I know your probably upset, well, knowing where Inuyasha is."

Before she could answer, Kagome felt a small bite, and she smacked her neck, before pulling her hand back, a small flea held between two fingers. "Myoga! What are doing here?"

"Ahhhhh..." Myoga smacked his lips. "Lady Kagome, you taste as lovely as always." He frowned. "Wait a minute. Something is... well - I was expecting this, just... not so soon," he looked up at her, smiling. "I need to speak to you, privately. Your blood has changed, and there are consequences of this change that you need to be aware of."

Kagome sighed and shrugged. "Well, Myoga, we may as well speak right now. Inuyasha has gone after Kikyo again, so he probably won't be back 'til morning."

Myoga jumped up. "Hmmm. Then by all means, let us go apart from the others and speak now."

Miroku and Sango looked at each other, the old flea sounded concerned. What could be wrong? Miroku grabbed Myoga from Kagome's shoulder. "Myoga, if something is wrong, shouldn't we all know?"

Myoga shook his head. "No, no, no! This is only for Kagome's ears, it's a private matter. Master Inuyasha would KILL me for telling everyone family business."

Miroku glanced at Kagome, then at Sango. Family business? Since when is Kagome family? Something is strange here.

He didn't look too happy. "If you say so, Myoga--"

The old flea jumped back over to Kagome's shoulder as she looked over at Shippo, who had been awfully quiet throughout all the fuss. "I'll be back in a little while, okay, Shippo? You just curl up in my sleeping bag when you're ready to go to sleep."

Kagome stood up and walked into the trees, walking for a few moments, before judging that they were far enough away to be private, but not so far away that they were in danger.

She sat down with her back against a tree, staggering a little as she did so, still feeling overheated and feverish. "Okay, Myoga, whats up? Why did you have to talk to me alone?"

Myoga settled himself on a fallen log in front of Kagome. "Lady Kagome, please, do not take my questions amiss, and understand that I have no desire to embarrass you. But the questions I am about to ask must be answered, and truthfully, or the consequences could be very bad." He looked at Kagome, waiting for her to agree.

Kagome frowned at the little flea. "Okay, Myoga, I swear to tell you the truth no matter how embarrassing, alright?"

Myoga nodded once. "Very well. First off, have you noticed anything funny about Master Inuyasha's behavior lately?"

"Well, yeah... he's been avoiding me a lot, and he's been going off alone all the time. He's also been really moody." Kagome frowned. "I figured that he's just been sneaking off to see Kikyo, that's all."

The tiny youkai shook his head. "No, it isn't that. You are sure he has been avoiding you? What about Sango?"

"Nope, he's definitely been avoiding me. No question." Kagome smiled sadly.

"No, no, Lady Kagome, this is good! You see," Myoga said, "Master Inuyasha has finally hit his maturity. His youkai is now demanding that he take a mate."

Kagome's eyes widened as she took that in, and then filled with pain. "That must be why he went after Kikyo, then."

Myoga clapped his hands to gain her attention. "No, Lady Kagome. His youkai has chosen you as its mate."

"What?!" Kagome jumped up, and then promptly fell over. "You figure this-- how? Because he's been avoiding me? I don't get it."

"Well, that's part of it. But when I drank your blood, I noticed the heated and slightly bitter flavor of your blood. Tell me, you started having this fever and weakness about the same time as Master Inuyasha started acting strange, did you not?"

"Well... yeah, I guess so. Why?"

Myoga nodded. "It is as I thought." He looked at Kagome. "Master Inuyasha's youkai needs to take a mate. It has chosen you. The reason for the fever in your blood is that your body is responding to the demands of his. So, to get the fever to stop, Master Inuyasha merely needs to take you as his mate."

Kagome stared at the flea youkai, more embarrassed than she could ever remember being. "Are you crazy?! I can't do that!"

Myoga frowned. "Why not? You are in love with Master Inuyasha, are you not?"

She slumped forward, hiding her face in her hands as tears ran down her face. "Yes," she said quietly, "I am. But he doesn't love me. He loves Kikyo. He's probably gone to ask her to be his mate."

"No. If his youkai had chosen her, your body would not be burning with this fever. And there is something else to consider, Lady Kagome. If you do not mate with Master Inuyasha, your body will burn itself out. You will die."

Kagome's head jerked up and she stared at him in disbelief. "What... how... ??" She shook her head, but then noticing the flea's solemn look, she shuddered.

"How long?" She whispered.

"Pardon?"

"How long do I have?" she asked again

Myoga shook his head. "Well, I can't say for sure, but... a week, maybe ten days? It would be even less if you weren't a Miko. Your power will buy you a few extra days, but," Myoga smiled at her. "Do not worry, Lady Kagome. I will speak to Master Inuyasha about this...." he broke off as she violently shook her head.

"No, Myoga. I forbid you to mention this to him. You say his youkai has chosen me, but even if it has, it doesn't rule his hanyou or human sides. I will not force his heart. If I remember what you told us before, mates are forever, and there is no going back once its done, is there?" At Myoga's nod, she continued.

"His hearts, plural, belong to Kikyo.... I will not allow him to be tied to someone he doesn't want for the rest of his life! I won't!"

"But--" Myoga broke off again as she grabbed him and squeezed him between her fingers.

"NO. Do not say anything to him, do you understand? I won't let you go until you swear, Myoga, I'm serious!"

Knowing he had no choice, Myoga reluctantly nodded.

Kagome breathed a sigh of relief, now Inuyasha would not be forced into a dreadful choice merely to save her life. "Well, then, I think I need time to take all this in. I'll get Kirara to take me back to the well, if I only have so much more time, then I need to see my family," she whispered, as the death sentence hanging over her head finally began to sink in.

She closed her eyes, sadness washing over her - what would she tell her family? Her head down, she stood up and began walking back towards the camp.

Unbeknownst to either of them, someone had been concerned enough by the flea's behavior in demanding to speak to Kagome alone, that he had followed them and listened to the conversation.

And it was a good thing he had, too.

---sSs---

The next morning dawned bright and clear, and Miroku waited impatiently for Sango to wake up. He still couldn't believe what he had heard last night - how would Shippo react to losing another parent? And Sango, Kagome was like a sister to her, and she had already lost so much.

He would have to tell Inuyasha.

Even if Kagome never spoke to him again, at least she would be alive. If Inuyasha's youkai's claim on Kagome was what was killing her, then by the kami he would make sure the hanyou lived up to his responsibilities. Too bad if he couldn't seem to make up his mind, Kagome shouldn't have to pay for his stupidity with her life.

"Hey, Miroku, why do you look so fierce this morning? Whats up?" Sango looked around as she sat up, yawning behind her hand. "And where's that baka Inuyasha? Was he out all night with that dead woman? I swear, I'm gonna kill him, Miroku! I'm tired of him hurting Kagome!"

Miroku waved Sango over to his side. "Shhhhh. I need to talk to you, and I don't want Shippo to wake up and hear."

Sango gave him a long, suspicious look. "You'd better not be planning anything perverted, monk, or I swear..."

"Honest, Sango. What I have to tell you...." Miroku gestured for her to precede him into the trees, and when he was sure Shippo couldn't hear, he told her what he had overheard the night before. "Normally, you know I wouldn't spy on Kagome, but, I don't know, there was just something in the way Myoga was acting that really worried me, and I was right."

Sango was horrified. "That damn Inuyasha better fix this, I swear - if I lose Kagome because of that bastard, I really will kill him!"

Miroku nodded. "I agree, but hush now, I hear Shippo stirring, and he must not find out about this. You know how close he is to her. Let's get back. I will take Inuyasha aside when he comes back, and lay it on the line."

"Fine. Let's go." Sango stomped back to the fire, her heart aching for Kagome, and fear swirling in her mind.

Damn! Why does this all have to be so complicated for her? What is it that the fates have against her? Haven't they asked enough of the poor girl?

Shippo rolled out of Kagome's sleeping bag. "Hey Sango, where's Kagome?"

Sango looked up at the kit. "She took Kirara and went to the well, Shippo, she had a fever and needed to get more medicine from her time to make herself get better, thats all."

Good thing I know how to tell a believeable lie, and who'd have thought that lying would ever be a good skill to have? Damn Inuyasha anyways, why can't he just make up his baka mind??

Shippo looked around suspiciously. "You sure it wasn't because of that baka Inuyasha running off after the dead girl again? Where is the jerk, anyway?"

Shit! Shippo is getting a little too smart for his own good... before she could answer, a loud voice broke into the conversation.

"Oi, you little brat! What the hell did I do that you're calling me names again?"

Sango whipped around and glared at the red-robed hanyou, but before she could say anything, Miroku grabbed him and drug him off into the trees.

"Sango, we will be back momentarily. I need to talk to Inuyasha for a moment. And Shippo, you stay with Sango. No spying, or I'll thump you into the seventh hell, got that?" He punctuated that statement with a death glare at Shippo that caused the little kit to hide behind a sleeping Kirara, eyes wide and shocked.

Inuyasha stared at him. Miroku never threatened Shippo. What was going on around here? And then he noticed that Kagome was nowhere to be seen. When he first noticed her absence, he assumed she was taking care of her morning cleaning requirements, but as he sniffed the air, he noted that her scent was hours old. She had left in the night.

"Fuck! Where is she, Miroku? I bet she got pissed 'cause I went to see Kikyo, didn't she? She fucking went home!" He wrenched his arm from Miroku's grasp.

"Skip the fucking lecture, monk, I'm going to go get her. Damn woman, always causing trouble."

He nearly fell over backward when Miroku grabbed his arm right back - in a very tight grip.

"Shut up, Inuyasha! You are going to listen, I don't care if you like it. You need to know what is going on, this isn't another one of your silly fights with Kagome. If you care for her at all, you will listen to me!" Miroku was actually almost growling by the time he was done.

Inuyasha was getting scared now. Something was really wrong, he had never seen Miroku act like this in all the time they had known each other. "Then fucking tell me, Miroku, what the hell is going on? Where's Kagome? She'd better not be hurt!"

"And do you even care if she is?" Miroku snapped back angrily.

"How can you even ask me that, monk?" Inuyasha was stunned, he'd thought they had all figured out his feelings for Kagome by now.

"Well, then, listen. This is what happened ..." Miroku spoke quickly, making sure he repeated everything just as Myoga had said it. "... and that's why she went home, she's frightened, and I think she needed her mother."

Inuyasha couldn't even begin to breathe. He was enraged! "That fucking baka wench! She wasn't even going to tell me. I can't believe her!! She was just gonna what, disappear? Did she really think I wouldn't notice?! Fuck! If that crazy wench thinks I'm gonna let her throw her life away, she'd better fucking think again!" By this time Inuyasha was practically yelling loud enough for Kaede's village to hear him, and they were a day's travel away.

Miroku grabbed his arm again. "Damnit, Inuyasha, shut up and stop yelling! Shippo doesn't know," he hissed. "I take it by your reaction you intend to rectify this situation?"

"Of course I'm gonna 'rectify the situation', baka, did you think I wouldn't?" Inuyasha was still violently angry, but he was at least being quieter.

"What about Kagome's concerns, Inuyasha? Is there another way to keep her safe, or is taking her as your mate really the only way? And if it is, are you willing to force her? Because she is determined not to do this - she thinks you want Kikyo, and she won't tie you up like that."

"Keh. Baka wench,' he mumbled, then sighed.

"No, there isn't any other way to deal with it. Myoga wouldn't lie about that. And as for force, yes, in order to save her life, I would force it, even if she never looked at me again. But what you, and that baka wench don't realize, is that Myoga was right about everything he said. She is mine. I already planned to claim her. I just... I needed to tell Kikyo to her face. I couldn't go behind her back, it wouldn't have been honorable. She deserved better than that." He closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them again, pinning Miroku with a hard gaze.

"That's why I went to see her last night." He sighed then, running a clawed hand through his hair. "She gave me her blessing - and said that me finally making a choice freed her. She's gone to her rest now."

Miroku nodded. He knew how difficult his friend had probably found that final meeting. He put a hand to his shoulder. "I'm glad, Inuyasha. She is at peace, she won't suffer anymore. Now, you just need to take care of Kagome, and somehow I think that that is going to be a little more difficult. You know how stubborn she can get," he said, ruefully.

Inuyasha snorted. "Keh. I know, but she needs to learn her place as the mate of an Inu youkai. I'm the dominant mate, and she'll soon learn that she won't get her way all the time. Baka wench. I just can't believe her!"

Miroku laughed. "My friend, I wish you good luck, you're going to need it!"

"I know."

---sSs---

Inuyasha grinned to himself as he leaped from tree top to tree top.

She actually admitted she's in love with me, huh? Good thing for my peace of mind ...

Slowly the smile fell from his face as he realized that he was going to have some major convincing to do, Kagome didn't often listen before she reacted.

Damn, I love the woman, but sometimes ... he looked around, noting the terrain getting more familiar as he ran. Not much longer now, and he would be to the well. And just on the other side, everything he could ever want held in the small form of a beautiful young Miko.

And she doesn't even know it. But nothing, I mean nothing, is going to stop me from claiming my mate, she belongs to me...

And she always will.

A low growl was beginning in his throat: Mine!

---sSs---

On the other side of said well, Kagome had spent a very long night. The fevers were getting worse and more frequent - it was to the point she had to wake every few hours and take an ice cold shower. She was weakening, and so very tired.

Maybe I should just shoot myself, the end result would be the same, but without all the suffering in between, she thought, almost wryly.

Kagome wiped tears away, she couldn't seem to control them, and just kept crying at the oddest times, even in her sleep.

Oh, Inuyasha ... who would have thought it would end this way?

She walked to her window, opening it and looking out. As she looked over towards the well shrine, she noticed four figures reach the top of the shrine steps, and jogged out her door, down the stairs, and out the front door, trying to intercept her friends before they reached the house - if they went in, she'd never get rid of them, and she really wasn't in the mood for company.

"Yuka, Eri, Ayumi! And Hojo, too, what are you guys doing here?" Kagome asked, smiling, trying to be happy to see them, but failing miserably.

Yuka opened her mouth to speak, but before she could get one word out, the well house door was thrust open, sliding back with a crash. As everyone whipped around to see what the commotion was, Inuyasha burst through the door and jumped straight out, landing near Kagome.

He didn't even seem to notice the others all standing there staring at him in shock.

He stalked over to where Kagome was standing, watching as she nervously backed up a few steps. "Inuyasha! What are you doing?!" she hissed, jerking her head towards the group of stunned people staring at him. "You're giving it all away!"

Inuyasha continued stalking her with very deliberate movements. He wanted her to feel like he was a predator and she was his prey... 'cause she was.

"Keh! I don't give a shit if they find out everything about me, I'm tired of hiding the truth. Besides, why are you so worried? You didn't want to tell your friends the truth about me 'cause you didn't think they would believe you, so by your thinking, even if they tried to tell other people, no one would believe them. So the big damn secret is still safe."

He smiled at her... a slow, wicked smile. "And besides, it's about time that stupid human boy over there figures out who you belong to, and you need to get it through your head, too. Your mine, Kagome, and nothing in this world or the next is gonna change that, you understand?"

Kagome blinked in shock, her mouth hanging open. She obviously didn't know what to say. Inuyasha grinned as he reached out to grab her.

And then that stupid human Hojo jumped in between them.

"Stop right there! Kagome, who," looking up at the hanyou's ears, "or what, is this? And why does he keep saying you're his? I thought you were my girl!"

"Inuyasha, no! No killing! Don't make me say it...!" as she pushed Hojo away from Inuyasha's outstretched claws. "And as for you, Hojo," she glared at him, "why did you assume I was your girl, hmmm! Isn't it traditional to ask the girl first? You've never asked me anything, so what gave you the idea you could just claim me? Now you're reminding me of Koga," she grumbled.

Yuka, Eri, and Ayumi, meanwhile, finally managed to get their voices back. "Kagome! What's going on here! And we want answers now!" they all shrieked, causing Inuyasha's ears to flatten to his head.

"That's it!" Inuyasha grabbed Kagome and pulled her back behind him. "I don't know what the hell is with you people in this era, but," he glared back over his shoulder at Kagome, "we are going home, Kagome. Right now."

Hojo pushed his way back to stand in front of Inuyasha again. "This is Kagome's home, and she doesn't have to go anywhere with you!"

"Baka weak human! Kagome's home is with me, wherever I am! She's mine, I already told you that! Kagome is my mate!"

Hojo and the girls all gasped at the same time, turning to stare at Kagome. "Mate? What is going on, Kagome?" Eri finally managed to get out.

Before Kagome could even take a breath, her mother came outside wondering what all the ruckus was.

"Inuyasha! Oh, its good to see you again! How have you been, dear?"

Hojo stepped forward, glaring at Inuyasha and then looking over at Kagome's mother. "Umm, Mrs. Higurashi, you know this... person?"

"Of course I do, quite well, actually. We are all very fond of Inuyasha. Sota even calls him brother. Why?" She looked at Kagome. "Wait a minute, Kagome, I thought you were trying to keep Inuyasha a secret. People nowadays don't believe in youkai and hanyou, so why are your friends here with Inuyasha standing revealed in all his glory?" She smiled at the hanyou.

There were gasps from all four of the others. "Hanyou? Inuyasha is a hanyou, or a youkai?" Ayumi asked.

"Keh... stupid humans, I'm a hanyou. Inu hanyou."

"But, Mrs. Higurashi, this, hanyou," he managed to get out, "claims Kagome is his mate!" Hojo choked, not wanting to believe what he was hearing.

Mrs. Higurashi clapped her hands together and smiled her biggest smile at them, then reached over and hugged them both. "It's about time! I've been waiting for you two to straighten yourselves out for months! So...." she grinned slyly, "when will I get some cute puppy-eared grandchildren?"

Kagome had been standing in a daze this whole time, just listening to everything, unable to take it all in. But now - she pushed away from her mother and Inuyasha, tears once more running down her face.

"No! I'm not your mate, Inuyasha, that place rightfully belongs to Kikyo. Why are you doing this?" she cried, putting out her hands to keep Inuyasha away, as he made a move towards her.

"Wait, Myoga told you, didn't he? After he swore he wouldn't! Well, I won't let you do this, Inuyasha, I won't!" She turned and started to run towards the house, only to be hit with dizziness again, and feeling faint, she started to topple, and knew no more.

Inuyasha grabbed her before she could hit the ground, ignoring her friends and looking to her mother. "I'm gonna take her into the house and put her in a cold bath." He gave her mother a very serious look. "While she's bathing, I need to speak to you, it's very important."

Mrs. Higurashi looked at Inuyasha holding her daughter so tenderly in his arms. "Inuyasha..." she said softly, smiling, "I would be honored if you called me mother, especially since it looks like your going to be 'mated' to my daughter anyway. Please... we all consider you family, and I am most especially fond of you." She turned to the others.

"Go on, take her in to the bath. I'll take care of her friends, and then join you upstairs."

Hojo started to speak, but Inuyasha cut him off. "As for you, pathetic human boy, understand this. You had better never let me catch you anywhere near my Kagome again, got that?" And then he turned and walked away, carrying Kagome over towards the house, then, in full view of everyone, he leaped up onto the roof, and took her in through her bedroom window.

Inuyasha stomped through Kagome's room and out into the hallway, turning the corner and heading into the bathroom.

Wow.... I never realized that Kagome's mom liked me that much. And she approves of me for her daughter's mate! That's a big relief. Now I just have to convince Kagome that I want her...

Pushing the door closed behind him, he grabbed towels from the cupboard, and then started the bath. Kagome was burning up, moaning in her sleep, and he could feel his body answering hers.

Not yet, damnit! Just a little while longer.

Setting the water to cold, he stripped Kagome down, doing his best to not really look at what he was uncovering. He gritted his teeth, and then set her into the water, leaning her up against the back of the tub.

Don't look, don't look...

He glanced behind him as the door opened and mother came in. She smiled at him. "Okay, Inuyasha, what's wrong? And why did Kagome bring up Kikyo out there?"

Inuyasha sighed, turning back to Kagome and scooping water over her head and chest. "It's kind of a long story... but the long and short of it is that I finally made a decision between Kikyo and Kagome. I chose Kagome. I could do nothing else, she's the mate of my heart." He closed his eyes.

"In the meantime, I hit my maturity. In youkai, and hanyou, this is the time when our youkai must take a mate. I didn't know this 'til today, but, since I'd already chosen Kagome, my body started dominating hers, its a scent thing. And her body recognized my right as mate, so it sent her into a mating fever. That's what's wrong with her."

He looked back up to see mother looking at him with a smile. "I've been avoiding Kagome for a few days now, I was really struggling to control myself, but I felt that Kikyo had the right to hear from me what I had decided, so I couldn't take her as my mate until that was done. I finally spoke to Kikyo last night."

"I think you can pull her out now, Inuyasha, I'll grab the towel and wrap her in it and we can take her to her room. Okay... so continue with your story."

"Keh." He grabbed Kagome's towel wrapped form and lifted her into his arms, walking back towards her room, with mother following. He was suddenly glad Sota was at that 'skool' place, and that gramps was gone. "Kikyo gave me her blessing, and was freed from that half-life of hers by me finally making a decision."

He looked down. "I feel like such a baka... I caused a lot of hurt with my inability to actually tell anyone my choice." He glanced at Kagome's face, and sighed again as his shoulder's slumped. "Anyway, when I got back to camp this morning, Kagome was gone, and I got a whole lot of information on what was going on. I have to convince Kagome that I wanted her before I found this information out, or she could die."

Mom stopped digging through Kagomes' drawer's to look at Inuyasha incredulously. "Die! What on earth?!"

Inuyasha turned and faced her. "I swear I didn't know, " he looked miserable standing there, "but I found out this morning that this fever in her blood will kill her if I don't take her as my mate, and," he blushed bright red, but continued looking her in the face, "consummate the relationship."

Mom smiled at his obvious embarrassment. "So what's the problem? You're in love with her, aren't you?" At his nod, she continued. "And I know for a fact she's in love with you."

"The problem is I'm such a baka." He looked ashamed. "I've handled this situation so poorly, that Kagome thinks I want Kikyo as my mate, so she tried to make the others swear they wouldn't tell me what was going on, because she didn't want me to be stuck with someone I really didn't want. She's planning to let herself die, just so I won't be forced to make a choice."

He shook his head impatiently. "I've got to find a way to convince her I want her, and did want her before I knew about this fever."

"Inuyasha."

"What?"

Mom smiled at him again and walking over, grabbed him into her arms and hugged him. "Let me talk to Kagome. I know my daughter very well, and I can guarantee you I'll get her to listen." She let go of him just enough to catch his eyes. "Stay close by, and when I've gotten what I want from her I'll call you in, okay?"

"Don't you think you should maybe let her sleep? She looks so tired," he said, leaning down to push her hair out of her face with a tender hand.

Mom looked at him, the love she had for him plain to see. "Inuyasha, you really love her, don't you? It's so beautiful to watch the way you change when your dealing with Kagome, you know that? Most of the time you're harsh and rough, and even though sometimes the way you speak to her is gruff, you're always so tender in your touch." She smiled. "If you want to let her sleep, then we can do that. While we wait for her to wake up, would you like some ramen?"

Inuyasha's ears perked, but he didn't move. "Do you think that's okay? I don't want to leave her, though ..."

Mom smiled at him. "You can stay here, son, I'll bring it up to you."

"Thanks, mom," he said shyly.

"Your welcome, son, if Kagome wakes up, just call me and I'll come up and talk to her."

"Okay."

Inuyasha sat at the end of the bed, watching Kagome sleep. She looked so pale, like that time that Mukotsu had poisoned her and he thought he had lost her. Even now, just thinking about it made him ill from the fear.

I have never, in my entire life, ever felt so terrified, I couldn't bear to go through that again... I have to convince her!

That's why he had decided to speak so frankly to Kagome's mom. It was embarrassing, and cost him a lot in pride, but the cost of not doing so was way more than he would ever be willing to pay.

God, I hope she's right that she can get Kagome to see reason.....

---sSs---

Kagome woke slowly, wondering where she was. It took a moment for the events of earlier to hit her, and then she sat up and gasped, noticing that she was wrapped in nothing but a towel underneath her blankets. And Inuyasha was at the end of her bed, staring at her.

And then that didn't even matter, as she fell back against the bed, too dizzy to even sit up.

"Oi, mom, she's woken up!" Inuyasha yelled as he jumped off the bed and ran through the doorway. "Hurry!"

Kagome shook her head. Mom? He still thought he would be able to convince her to be his 'mate'?

"Inuyasha, why are you still here? You should be back with Kikyo." She turned her head to the wall and refused to look at him. "You know you want to be with her, and I - I just want you to be happy," she finished softly.

"Do you really want Inuyasha to be happy, Kagome?" Her mother's voice answered her, instead of Inuyasha's.

Kagome slowly turned her head to face her mother. "Don't mom, I'm not going to force a man who loves someone else to be tied to me for life. No matter what."

"Kikyo's dead, Kagome." Her mother looked straight at her as she said this. "She willingly went to her rest last night. Inuyasha said she was even happy, and he feels much less guilty now that he knows she's happy, but he also feels less guilty because Kikyo knew how he felt about you before he could even tell her, and she gave him her blessing. She told Inuyasha to take care of you, and to love you, forever."

"What?" Kagome stared at her mother blankly, totally confused now that the rug had been pulled out from underneath her. "I... I don't understand. Kikyo can't be, s-she can't be... dead?"

Mrs. Higurashi looked at her daughter with a stern face. "I'm ashamed of you, Kagome. I thought I taught you to listen when people spoke, and instead I find that you just decide what's going on around you and don't care about what is really happening. Who died and put you in charge? Why are your beliefs and thoughts more important than anyone elses? Inuyasha doesn't deserve to have you treat him that way. How dare you try to make decisions for his future, without even speaking to him about it?"

Kagome stared at her mother in shock. Is that really what I've been doing?

"I'm going to send Inuyasha in here, Kagome. You'd better not be the one doing the talking, you are going to listen, do you understand?" her mother asked, glaring at her daughter.

Kagome struggled for a moment to sit up, then looked over at her mother meekly. "Yes, mother," she said, softly, worrying her lip with her teeth. "I promise I'll listen."

Her mother smiled at her in approval. "Good. And Kagome, Inuyasha really is in love with you, you know. There is no need to forfeit your life."

Kagome blushed. "But, mom, well, I mean, what they're saying we need to do..."

Mrs. Higurashi shook her head and smiled at Kagome. "I know what needs to happen, Kagome. I'm well aware of what 'mate' means. You are an adult now. That's a part of life, and kami knows, I'd rather you be with Inuyasha in that way, than anyone else. I don't have to worry about him getting bored and running off, leaving you alone, or even as a single parent. That's not Inuyasha."

She grinned for a moment. "It's normal for you to have some fear your first time, and the first time also usually hurts a little. But that's only the first time...." she gave a beet red Kagome a wicked smile. "You have my blessing, Kagome. Now listen to him."

I can't believe I just had that discussion with my MOTHER, and that she was encouraging me to... she put her hands to her cheeks. Lord, I need to calm down before Inuyasha gets in here.

She grabbed the washcloth out of the basin of cold water her mother had brought in earlier, and bathed her hot face with it, trying to calm the blushing down before Inuyasha appeared.

She scooted to the edge of her bed and slowly raised herself to her feet. Staggering a little, she finally managed to stabilize herself, and she slowly shuffled in front of her window. Leaning on the windowsill, she looked out at the shrine she had grown up in. It was hard to equate this place with the same area five hundred years in the past. But she had to admit, it was more wild and, well, beautiful back in Inuyasha's time.

She sighed.

Maybe my time, too, if we really do... this.

Inuyasha stood in the doorway and watched her for a moment. She really is so beautiful, everytime I see her, I wonder how anyone so wonderful could care for me. I don't deserve her, but kami help me... I can't live without her. I'm glad that Kikyo understood, hell, she understood better than I ever did.

"Kagome...?"

She stiffened and squeaked, trying to turn towards him and getting hit by a wave of dizziness for her trouble. "Oh! Ummm, Inuyasha," wow, this is soo hard, "you wanted to talk?"

"Yeah, but Kagome, you need to sit down." He walked over to her and, grabbing her hand, he urged her down onto the bed, but didn't let go of her hand. "By the way, your mom has gone out, she said that they were spending the next week with your aunts. I guess they had this all planned before you came home," Inuyasha said, "so she said to tell you that we had better not do any fighting, and that she will 'call' tonight." He looked a little puzzled. "What's that 'call' she's talking about, anyway?"

Kagome giggled nervously. Trust Inuyasha to make her laugh, even at a time like this. "You know the phone downstairs, the thing that makes those funny noises and that I pick up and talk into?" At his nod she continued. "That's how you make a phone call."

"Oh." He shrugged. "Okay, well, anyway, what did your mother say to you, Kagome? I kinda need to know so I know where to start."

Kagome looked at him from under her bangs. "She told me that Kikyo was gone. That's pretty much all. I'm sorry, Inuyasha. I know it must have hurt." She looked off to the side, hiding her face.

"Actually, no, it didn't. It was time. I finally realized how much pain she was in all the time." Inuyasha cupped her chin in his hand and turned her back to face him. "She told me that she had only been held here by my inability to make that final choice. But the truth was, I made that choice a long time ago. You remember the time, after you saw me with Kikyo, and went home, you were gone for a week."

He let go of her chin and sighed, running his hands through his hair. "The day you came back, Miroku and Sango had been badgering me to go see you and tell you I couldn't be with you anymore, and I got so angry. I asked them why they were so determined to split us apart..." he chuckled. "They looked at me like I was stupid, and I was. I told them that because I had a duty, for honors sake, to protect Kikyo, I could never ask you to come back to me. But then, you came back, and asked me if you could stay by my side. I couldn't say no, but by all rights I should have."

"I just couldn't tell Kikyo my choice, because she had suffered on my account, and I felt guilty, like I had betrayed her. But I knew then that I could never let you go. I knew even before that that I loved you, Koga's dumb-ass taught me that. God knows, when he called you his mate, I wanted to kill him, more than I have ever wanted anything, except you. Afterwards, when you went home, I followed, but you weren't in your house."

He put his hand out and ran it through her hair, loving the soft, almost awed look in her eyes as she took in the things he was saying. "As soon as I got into your room, I could smell your scent all over it, and I actually whimpered. I felt so dejected that you weren't there, and it was then that I realized I loved you. That scared me. My experiences with Kikyo had taught me that love caused pain... and I was afraid to let you in."

He took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. "It made me angry, that you had so much power over me, so I was a bastard to you about that fight... I should have apologized for it, instead of just the damn clock. I'm sorry I'm such an ass, Kagome," he said, with a sad look in her direction.

"Wow," Kagome whispered, tears in her eyes. "I... don't know what to say. I guess it took me longer to realize I was in love with you. I finally figured it out when I came home for that week after that mess with Kikyo. I felt kinda stupid, truth to tell. How can you fall so in love with someone and not know it?" She chuckled, shaking her head at her own foolishness. She tilted her head to the side and looked at him.

"So, where do we go from here?"

"Keh. You know where we go from here, Kagome, " he rolled his eyes at her, "and understand this. I had already intended to take you as my mate, I just wanted to wait 'til Naraku was destroyed, and I had spoken to Kikyo. That's not an option now." He grinned at her blush. "So - we have an empty house. Where do you think I'm going from here?"

"Inuyasha... I... well, I'm uhhhh... scared." Kagome looked up at him with wide eyes.

"If it helps any, Kagome, I've never done this either. But with youkai, its instinctual, we just know what to do." He looked at her, and then with gentle hands reached out and grabbed her shoulders, turning her to face him.

Slowly leaning forward, he softly touched his lips to hers, slanting his head and feathering his mouth against hers, before lightly flicking her with his tongue. He pulled back a little as Kagome's hands came up and gripped his shoulders. She had her eyes closed and her breathing was a little hitched. He leaned back in and suddenly he had to taste her, could no longer wait. It was like a dam had burst in him.

"Relax," he whispered, his breath feathering over her skin, making her shiver.

Kagome could not breathe. As Inuyasha leaned in and took her mouth, she felt the male aggression in him beginning to take over, and when he pressed her to open to him, she whimpered and let him in, submitting. And suddenly, the fever in her body took hold, and she literally burned for him.

Inuyasha felt the exact moment that the fever overcame her, and his body leapt in anticipation. Breaking away from the kiss, he pushed her back onto the bed, loosening the towel as she went down, and pulling it away from her, tossed it over the edge of the bed. He kissed and nibbled his way down her cheek, then under her jaw, reaching the pulsepoint in her neck, loving the scent of her blood rushing through her body, infused with the smell of his pheromones.

He licked her neck, and gently pressed his fangs into her skin, not enough to break skin, but enough to leave a mark. She whimpered again, and then moaned as he gently suckled on that same spot, soothing the flesh.

Oh, kami, Kagome thought hazily, this is... oh... she couldn't concentrate, her mind was shutting down as the fire in her blood took her over. She clenched her hands on his shoulders, suddenly realizing that he still had his clothes on... and she needed to feel his skin now.

She moaned, head still back as he suckled at her neck, and parting his fire rat, she slid it down his arms, until it reached his elbows.

She growled in frustration when his fire rat and undershirt stopped moving, and with a chuckle, he pulled away from her neck momentarily, sliding both objects off and tossing them onto the floor with Kagome's towel.

Kagome sighed in pleasure, closing her eyes and leaning forward to nuzzle her face into his chest, inhaling the clean forest scent of her hanyou. Kami, Inuyasha, you smell so damn good, but why is your scent so strong? I've never noticed it like this before... I need to taste him, she thought hazily - suiting her actions to her thoughts, she stuck out her tongue and licked at him, before a wicked idea registered and she nipped him with her teeth.

His reaction to that was violent and immediate.

"Damnit, Kagome," he gasped, as his head jerked back, his hair swirling around them wildly. "What are you doing to me?" Suddenly, he noticed the spike in her scent, she's really aroused right now, and unable to stand anymore, he pulled back from her and stripped his hakama from his body.

He looked up at her gasp, catching the look on her face, he grinned. "See something you like?" he asked, laughing at her deep blush. She was beginning to look nervous again, and he slowly leaned over her, letting her feel him and giving her time to adjust herself to the feel of his body over hers.

Kami, he gulped, maybe I need the time to get used to feeling her body... damn this feels so good, so right!

Eyes closing, he moaned with pleasure at the feeling of her sweet breasts pressed against his chest. Bringing his hands up, he palmed one breast, hissing at the feel, slowly rubbing his thumb over the nipple, which immediately peaked. He couldn't resist that silent invitation, and took it into his mouth and gently suckled on it. He smiled against her as she gasped and arched into him, suckling a bit harder, and she moaned out her approval.

I had no idea she'd be so responsive to me. Kami, I'm a lucky bastard.

He pulled away from her and looked down at the overwhelmingly erotic sight of her, lying there, body open to him, submitting to his claim on her. He slid his hands down towards the junction of her thighs, and almost died of pleasure when he reached down and felt the wetness of her... sliding his finger along her skin, he found her small pearl and rubbed over it, watching as she jumped against him, all the while making small noises of pleasure and passion.

Her hands kept running themselves up and down his back, almost pleadingly, and he knew she wouldn't be able to take much more teasing. He rubbed over her nub a few more times, growling in approval as she arched into his touch.

"Please, Inuyasha... please," she moaned, arching and sobbing into his shoulder, not quite knowing what she was pleading for, just knowing that she needed something else, the tension in her lower body almost painful in intensity.

"I need... I need... you, Inuyasha - Oh kami, please!!"

Pulling his hand away from her, he knew it was time. Finally, after so many months of want, it was time to claim what had always been his. His heart in his throat, he positioned himself above her, and with a gasp, slowly began to slide inside.

I don't think I can take this, Kami, she's so tight, so wet, so... so....

Kagome tensed as she felt him invade her body, whimpering a little at the feel of it. It hurt, but it also felt good in a strange way, that emptiness she had always felt finally being filled. She felt him stop as he reached her barrier, and lay his forehead against hers.

Inuyasha gritted his teeth, clenching his hands in the bedding at her sides, it took every bit of control not to bury himself in her and howl at the feel.

I have to take this slowly, I don't want to hurt her!

Pulling back a little, he looked down at her. "Kagome, look at me." He smiled as she slowly opened her eyes... they were dazed and unfocused. "I don't want to hurt you, but it IS going to hurt, you know that right?" At her nod, he closed his eyes.

"I'm going to just do this quickly. Tell me when it stops hurting, okay?"

Kagome nodded, still lost in a sensual haze. She parted her lips as Inuyasha leaned down to take them, plunging his tongue into her at the same time as he snapped his hips forward, burying himself to the hilt inside her. She moaned in protest at the pain, and he could feel a few tears slip down her cheeks.

Pulling his head back, he groaned with the effort of controlling himself, waiting for her to say it was okay was killing him. Slowly, he could feel the tension in her ease, and a new kind of tension replace it. She looked up at him. "It's okay now, Inuyasha, you can move," her voice dissolving into a moan as he began to move within her.

I can feel him... inside me! He's a part of me, forever, and nobody can ever change that now!

Her mind shut down after that, only focusing on what he was doing to her body. Inuyasha sped up slowly, he could tell that she was close, and grabbing her hips, he pulled them up and into his, totally unprepared when she arced backward and tightened, clamping down on him so hard he almost couldn't move. She pulled in a deep breath, shuddering around him, almost unable to breathe, before she finally screamed out his name, and pulled him over the edge with her.

"Kagome! Oh, Kami-sama...." he choked out, almost sobbing at the release of the tension in his body, stars bursting behind his eyelids. Just at that moment, he reached out with his aura and infused it into hers, binding them permanently.

Finally, he slumped down on her, panting heavily, still intimately joined to her, and as his breathing and heart rate slowed, he found he didn't want to pull away.

I could stay like this forever, and be totally happy, he thought, opening his eyes to find Kagome looking at him. She was smiling, but blushing heavily, and he couldn't help but smile back at her. My mate, all mine, forever. Fuck you, Koga!! I can't wait 'til we run into you again!

Kagome smiled back at Inuyasha, and he leaned down and kissed her softly. "Regrets?" he asked, finally pulling away from her and laying back on the bed, before tucking her carefully into his side.

"How could you even ask me that," came her indignant reply. "I will never regret this, Inuyasha, I've loved you forever." She looked down, for a moment, closing her eyes. "So, please, don't ever ask me that question again, okay?"

He pulled her closer, hugging her tiny form to him almost desperately. "I couldn't live without you, either, aisai, you are my koishii, my life, my everything, Kagome, never doubt that for a minute."

Kagome lifted her head and grinned down at him, then leaned forward and nipped at his lip playfully, before rolling out of bed. "I feel wonderful, koishii, like I could take on the world!" she laughed, almost giddily. "Let's get up and get dressed, I want to celebrate!"

She danced around the room, smiling and laughing, and he wondered how anyone could not love her. He couldn't help but laugh at her, her simple joy at being with him almost unbelievable, no one wanted a hanyou for a mate... no one but Kagome, anyway. "Okay, koishii, okay," he said, still laughing.

Damn , but she's contagious, he thought, before grabbing his fire rat and hakama and quickly shrugging them on. "Where do you want to go so desperately?"

"Home, of course! Where did you think I meant," she asked, rolling her eyes at her mate.

His breath caught in his throat, and he looked at her, eyes stunned. "Do you mean that, Kagome?" he whispered.

"Of course I do, Inuyasha! I've been considering having Kaede train me in the duties of a priestess for some time now, once everything is finished, of course," she said, still smiling.

He looked at her hesitantly. "What about... well, what about if the well closes after we purify the jewel, Kagome? You could be stuck five hundred years in the past, you'd be cut off from your family."

She grinned at him mischieviously. "It won't." She said it so smugly, he got suspicious very fast.

"Kagome...." he said warningly, frowning at her. "How do you know that for sure?"

"Spoilsport," she said, sticking her tongue out at him. "Alright, alright," she laughed, as he made a face at her, determined to have his answer.

"Because I'm the mistress of the well. I found this out recently," she said, when he glared at her, "Kaede and I were working with my Miko powers, and I tapped into something that we hadn't worked with before. It turns out that I control the well, I don't need the jewel at all. Isn't that great!"

She finished dressing quickly and grabbed his hand, dragging him out of the room and down the stairs. "Let's go already! We can come back later and get supplies!"

He decided to worry about it later, preferably much later. Right now he just wanted to be with his mate, reveling in the joy that shimmered off her in waves. Scooping her up into his arms, he grinned at her and leapt over to the well house, letting her open the door before going in and closing it after himself. Coming up to the edge of the well, he looked into it, wondering how something so deceptively simple had changed his life beyond recognition.

He looked again at the woman in his arms, and made a silent vow to all the Kami... I will cherish this woman for all the days that we are granted, I will love her, protect her, and keep her, and I will never turn my back on her.... my koishii, my mate, my life, he thought as they were swallowed by the blue light of the well.

---sSs---

Second A/N: And there it is, my first story ever, published on this site on Jan. 15th, 2009. What a difference a year makes!

Amber