A/N: Just a little something that came to me after posting Ch. 16 of FOB. This is a long one shot. And I do mean long.

Disclaimer: I do not own the Inuyasha characters, manga, anime, movies, etc. They belong by copyright laws to Rumiko Takahashi et al.

Forewarned Is Forearmed, Right?

Inuyasha watched Kagome with growing impatience as she packed not one, but two bags. Her usual yellow monstrosity was being duplicated in green. "And remind me again why you're adding a second piece of unnecessary garbage to drag along on our trip."

"Jii-chan found this old scroll in the oldest storage shed. It said that the first snow fall of the season was a major one and that we should be prepared."

"And you naturally concluded that it was not only genuine but also talking about the exact year we happen to be in in the Feudal Era. What gave you that bright idea?"

"It's old; the paper is torn and crumbling in places. Plus, I think I wrote it and had it preserved to warn us." Smiling brightly, Kagome stuffed the last item in the new bag and zipped the last compartment up, making sure all fasteners were secure.

"And you can tell this how?"

"The kanji. A lot of the characters have changed in the intervening years, Inuyasha. Haven't you ever wondered why you can't read from my text books? Miroku tries but he just gets confused."

"I just figured it was a whole other written language."

"Nope. That's why I know. It's Modern Japanese, not Feudal Era Japanese. I must have written that so that if we got stuck in the storm, we'd have warm bedding and food. Who knows how long we may be stuck in some cave or run down hut. And there's no telling whether or not we'll be separated from the others."

The half demon saw the pride shining in blue-grey depths and didn't have the heart to yell. She was clearly proud of the fact that she'd made this discovery. And it was true that there was a damp chill in the air that usual signaled snow. He and the others were trying to track down a rumor about a jewel shard before winter closed them in. Inuyasha wasn't about to drag Sango and Kagome around the countryside when there was more than few inches of snow on the ground. He didn't care that Sango was a warrior. She was a woman and part of his pack. Her safety, along with Kagome's was his responsibility.

"Fine, do you have everything?"

"Yeah, just have to grab my coat and boots downstairs. Let's go, Inuyasha, I'd like to be home before the first snowfall of this era comes."

"Oh, so now you're in a hurry." He scoffed lightly to hide a smirk. She was a demanding wench but that was all right. The hanyou could deal with her bossiness.

Mama met them at the door, a worried frown on her face. "Are you sure, you'll be all right, dears? That scroll sounded awful."

"We'll be fine, Mama. Forewarned is forearmed, right? Besides, Inuyasha will be able to tell if or when the storm comes. And we have plenty of supplies. That's why I asked to borrow the sleeping bags from my cousins. I packed an extra bag that Miroku can carry. He usually flies with Sango on Kirara so if we get separated, he'll likely be with them and Shippou will be with us."

The elder Higurashi woman beamed with pride. "You've thought this through, good. Take care, you two." She gave each teen a hug, despite the discomfort Inuyasha felt at the contact. She was always trying to mother him and he didn't understand why. One of these days he'd have to ask her.

"We'll be fine, Mama," Kagome said again in exasperation.

"I know, but a mother worries; that's all." Mama watched them head into the well house, Inuyasha carrying both bags. The bulging backpacks had been loaded with everything from towels to food. Vaguely she wondered how the monk was going to carry one of them with any ease. Kagome had been leaning to one side when she came down the stairs.

"I'll say this for the dog demon; he'll protect her from whatever comes their way."

"Oh, Father, stop being a spoiled sport. The only reason you have a problem with Inuyasha is because he's a healthy teenage boy and he's always around Kagome." The old priest opened his mouth to retort but found he couldn't. She was right.


Sango and the others met them at the well, outfitted for the cold temperatures. The demon slayer eyed the large green bag warily, wondering what on earth could be in there. As she was already carrying Hiraikotsu, she hoped her friend from the future didn't intend to have her cart that thing around too. "Here you go, Miroku." Inuyasha shoved the identical twin in all but color of Kagome's backpack at the monk.

"How generous, Lady Kagome." Miroku frowned, seeing his beloved unsuccessfully hide her grin. While the bag wasn't quite as heavy as Hiraikotsu, it was going to be a bother.

"Just wear it on your back like I do. It has food, two sleeping bags and some other assorted things in it if we get separated. I assumed you'd be going with Sango on Kirara." The young priestess gave her spiritual counterpart a wide smile and started down the path.

"Oh joy," Miroku muttered under his breath. Inuyasha's left ear canted towards him but he didn't say anything.

After saying goodbye to Lady Kaede (they had told her where they were headed and what way) they began their trek over Musashi in hopes of attaining a jewel shard and returning before the storm hit. Shippou sat perched on Kagome's shoulder, his eyes scanning the sky every few minutes. "Smells like snow," he said, worry in green jeweled eyes.

"We got a while yet," Inuyasha stated confidently, hoping to get the kit's mind off the matter. He didn't want the humans of his pack to begin worrying unnecessarily.

"Don't worry, Shippou. We're well prepared and there are plenty of caves we can take refuge in if need be." Kagome patted the child on the head, waiting for him to ask to be held. If he did that, then she would know he was really upset.

The shard hunters trudged along, hoping to make their destination before midday. Daylight ran out sooner in these wintry months and they didn't want to be caught still on the roads at night. All around them were signs that people had begun stock piling for the coming season. When they reached the village rumored about, they were surprised to find no wanton destruction that would have been caused by a demon with a shard.

Even though there was no sign of a youkai, the people still seemed to be afraid. They eyed the new comers with mistrust and yet they seemed to plead with them at the same time. "Inuyasha…" Kagome hitched her quiver higher on her shoulder, not liking the feeling she was getting.

"Can you sense it, Kagome?"

"Yeah, it's coming from that big house on the edge of the village."

"Great, some stupid human's got his hands on it. There isn't a demon for miles around here, just us."

"Your sword will not be effective in this endeavor, Inuyasha."

"Unless the idiot's been possessed. Then again, Kagome could probably just exorcize it with hair spray and an oil lamp."

"That'll only work on toad demons, Inuyasha," his miko scolded. "And it was only a last ditch effort. I can't use ofuda like Miroku can. If anything needs to be exorcized, he can do it."

"Your confidence in my abilities is heartwarming," Miroku added. "Hair spray?" he then asked, curious. They were making their way to the headman's house, not bothering to hide their approach. Someone would have already gone to announce their arrival.

"That stuff she uses to hold her hair into place."

"It's highly flammable so when I sprayed it towards the lamp flame, it created a big enough fire to get the toad demon to leave the prince. It was one of the first demons I helped slay." Kagome shrugged it off, showing it wasn't important enough to talk about.

"Who goes there?" Two guards blocked the entrance to the house, their scents filled with fear. Inuyasha snorted in disgust.

"We've come to collect the jewel shard. There were rumors about a demon possessing it. We are the band of slayers charged with the duty of collecting the shards. Kindly inform your master we are here."

Inuyasha felt the cold breeze come from the north and swore under his breath. "We don't have time to play nice, Miroku. Either he gives us the shard, or I take it from him."

A middle aged man met them at the door, a maniacal light in his eyes. "I have power now, gifted to me by the shard. You'll not find it so easy to take it from me."

Miroku saw Inuyasha's temper flare and knew it was because the storm was coming earlier than expected. If they took any more time collecting the shard, they wouldn't be able to return to Kaede's village before it hit. "I'm afraid good man, that we don't have time to waste convincing you of the error of your ways." With a well-placed knock on the head with his staff, Miroku moved out of the way so that Kagome could retrieve the shard from the fallen man.

"Let's go, guys, that storm's headed this way sooner than we originally thought. It looks like we're going to have to take refuge in a cave tonight. Too bad you didn't think to write down the time it came, Kagome."

"Well, I couldn't very well do that, could I? I don't have a watch on me and I'm pretty sure there are rules about giving advanced warning like that scroll did."

"Really? You mean rules that you and I pretty much break every time we pass through the well?" Inuyasha scowled and started leading the way out of the village and back on the road. If it hadn't been for the fact that the headman had obviously been terrorizing his people with the jewel's power, the half demon would have turned right around and come back another day.

"Well, not exactly. But there has to be some sort of condition that I couldn't put everything in the scroll I made. I mean besides the fact that I don't have a watch to write down the time. If I had, we would have come yesterday."

"Don't worry about it, Kagome. Both Miroku and I can handle a little snow should it start before we find shelter." Sango smiled at her friend, reassuringly. Kagome had offered her a pair of lined jeans to travel in, saying they weren't so very different from her slayer's uniform but the older girl had found the material too stiff to fight in if necessary.

"I just don't want anyone to get hurt." Shippou had come to sit in her arms, enjoying the extra warmth at his back from the priestess' jacket.

"You have prepared us well, Kagome. I'm sure we'll be fine," Miroku said, unknowingly echoing Kagome's platitudes to her mother.

She wondered why that didn't reassure her now.

A half hour later they were ready to eat their words. Winds howled, blowing large snowflakes into their faces and obscuring their vision. Kirara was fighting to stay in the air and not lose her precious passengers. Shippou had taken refuge underneath Kagome's hair and clung tight to the hood of her coat. He was just a tad too big to sit in it completely, or he would have burrowed in it long ago. Inuyasha had insisted on carrying Kagome and all her assorted equipment so the traveling was slow.

"There's a cave up ahead, that's where we'll stay." They couldn't go on and he wasn't about to let the members of his pack suffer any more than they had to.

"Right," Kagome said determinedly, her teeth starting to chatter. She figured that she had left rather a lot out of her warning. Being forewarned was all well and good but they hadn't been nearly as well forearmed as they should have been.

Twenty feet from the entrance to the cave, a particularly heavy gust snatched Shippou from his haven and blew him towards Kirara and the others. Miroku managed to catch the kit but unfortunately, the wind had also gotten the nekomata. "Shippou!" Kagome cried, falling into the snow in her own attempt to catch the child.

"Kagome!" Inuyasha pulled her quickly into his arms. The weight of her backpack was the only thing keeping them from going over the cliff.

"I've got him!" Miroku reassured the young miko. Turning, he spotted another cave on the other side of the ravine they were currently being pushed across. "Sango and I will take him to the cave on the other side. We'll meet back here when it's safe to travel again."

Inuyasha gave the monk a decisive nod and ushered a now soaked Kagome into the cave. Sesshoumaru's scent was stale here but the lingering youki of his brother's had made certain it wasn't going to invaded by other demons. The elder inu had obviously prepared this place as a sanctuary for that little girl he had following him. Almost half of the front room of the cave was taken up by chopped wood, so he wouldn't have to worry about Kagome freezing. The scent of water drifted to him from further back and he had the pleasant surprise of finding a hot spring in a little chamber away from the entrance.

"Kagome," he started, only to notice how she badly she was shivering. Her lips were tinted blue and her cheeks had been badly wind burned. "Get out of those clothes and go soak in the spring. I'll start a fire and lay out the sleeping bags. The only thing I want you to worry about is getting warm." Ice crystals had formed in her hair.

"Sure…" Kagome wandered into the back, too cold to remove anything from her person until she got closer to the only heat source. Inuyasha followed, relieved when the temperature of the hot spring's room was several degrees above that of the outer room. He pealed the bag from her shoulders, then the quiver and bow. Opening the bag, he rifled through it to find what he needed then left the rest to her.

When he came back several minutes later, it was to find her still standing in the same spot. "Kagome!" Truly worried, he turned her to face him. Her eyes had drooped and it looked like she'd fallen asleep on her feet. "Wench, you better not pass out on me." She met his eyes, smiling bashfully.

"'Kay. Can you help me get the rest of my things off?"

At any other time, he would have been embarrassed but the situation was going downhill fast. Stripping her from her wet clothes was the only way to ensure that she didn't become ill. He started with the jacket, relieved to find that only the outer part was wet. At least her chest had been protected against the cold. He left her shirt on until last and stared in confusion at the jeans. There was no way he was going anywhere near the fasteners.

"You got another pair of these, right?"

"Yeah, in my bag, why?"

"Hold still." Carefully he sliced down the seams on either side of her legs so that her mother could sew it all back together later, although he wanted to be far away when she explained to Mama just how her clothes got ripped so neatly. Finally he took the shirt off, lowering her into the hot water.

"Thank you, Inuyasha. I was so cold I couldn't move."

"Keh, just don't drown while I get everything else set up." With one last glimpse to make sure she wasn't sliding into the water, he left. There would be plenty of time to be embarrassed in the morning.

Just about the time Inuyasha was going to check on Kagome, he heard her cry of frustration. Cocking an ear in her direction, he heard her muttering clearly. "I forgot my night shirt. I can't believe I forgot my nightshirt. Now what am I supposed to wear to sleep in? My regular shirt's wet thanks to my splashing. Inuyasha's going to laugh about this."

Actually, it was nothing to laugh about. While it was ten times warmer in the cave than it had been, it was by no means warm enough for her to go with just a towel wrapped around the upper part of her body. With an internal sigh, he got to his feet and removed his kosode. "You decent, wench?"

"No, I'm not decent. I forgot my night shirt." Her voice was right around the corner and he handed the white undershirt to her without looking. "Oh, but…you won't have anything on top until your Fire Rat dries out."

"That'll be in a little bit. Besides, it's plenty warm enough for me to go around without a shirt for a little while." He heard her grumble as she fastened the shirt and waited until she made a sound of satisfaction before going to her. Kagome's hair was still up in a towel and she was dwarfed considerably in his shirt.

"Thank you, Inuyasha. I always seem to be borrowing your robe or your kosode, don't I?"

"Keh, better than going around naked."

"Hey, it wasn't my fault that perverted demonic sage left me without my clothes," she protested, referring to the time that she'd been put to soak for fertilizer.

"Of course not but Miroku was with us then, remember?"

"Yeah…" Kagome looked down, noticing for the first time his damp hakama. "Your pants are wet. Go take a bath and get warm. I left a pair of night pants for you near my bag. Mama got them for you when she learned about the storm. They're loose just like these," the priestess said, pointing to his pants.

"All right, dry that hair of yours, Kagome. I don't want you to be sick."

"Mm-hmm. Just let me grab some things from the bag first. Aren't you glad Jii-chan found that scroll?"

"Yeah, for once there was something useful among that old junk." He watched as she gathered up the bag itself, seeing as most everything she seemed to want was still in there. He was left with two towels and the bathing supplies, along with the night pants. Sinking into the water, Inuyasha let out a breath as warmth returned to his lower limbs. While he hadn't been in any real danger, the cold had been beginning to bother him.

When he returned to Kagome, she was humming quietly. Two cups of ramen were sitting out, steam rising from their tops. Travel sized cups were also steaming, tea from instant packets having been made alongside his favorite meal. Raking a gaze over the cave, he looked out the entrance at the storm that was still raging. Dusk was beginning to settle and the temperatures would drop. He had built their little site away from any wind or snow that might come in. There had been a little alcove set back from the entrance that he figured his brother had engineered for just such a purpose.

"Come eat, Inuyasha, while it's still hot." The half dog demon nodded absently, for the first time since she put on his shirt really looking at her. Her hair curled in waves from the all the brushing she'd done to get it dry and he liked how the dark mass laid on his kosode. He liked how she looked in it. Like she was supposed to wear it whenever she didn't have something of her own.

Uncomfortable with his own thoughts and where they could lead, where they were already leading, he sat down and began eating. They sat in silence, only speaking if one needed something. Afterward, Kagome yawned and picked up their meal, throwing the cups into the fire to burn. She didn't want to leave any evidence of the future behind even though the foam wasn't really a good thing to burn.

Kagome unzipped the bags, having combined them earlier when Inuyasha was bathing. She didn't think he'd noticed and she hesitated to bring it to his attention. They'd seen and done enough tonight that had embarrassed them but she wanted him to be as warm as her and she was pretty sure she'd need the extra warmth tonight. "Inuyasha…" she started.


"Will you lay down with me? I combined the bags so that we could share body heat."

Inuyasha had no intention of actually using the sleeping bag but he nodded and awkwardly went to keep her warm. His Fire Rat robe still wasn't dry and probably wouldn't be until sometime during the night. Too late to use for warmth if he needed it. "Lay down, Kagome. I'll keep you safe."

"I know. You always do, Inuyasha." The priestess snuggled against his side, turning so that she could use his chest as a pillow. He started at the first touch of her cheek on his bare skin but he relaxed as he felt her body sink into sleep. Brushing her hair away from her face, he gently touched her face.

"I always will," he whispered.

Inuyasha was the first to wake the next morning. More than a little amazed that he had not only slept but had slept deeply, he turned towards the entrance to the cave suddenly to check the storm. Bright sunlight shone into the cave, no wind or snow marring the perfect day. Beginning to rise from the makeshift futon, he was surprised to find his arm trapped by Kagome's. She had turned in her sleep so that she was facing away from him but she had taken one of his arms with her. Or maybe he had unconsciously placed it around her waist sometime in the night. Carefully inching away, this would become another one of those "don't ask, don't tell" moments, the half dog demon's attention was unceremoniously ripped away from the woman at his side by the appearance of his brother.

Sesshoumaru stood in the entrance to the cave, taking in the camp that his brother and his miko had made the night before. Taking a step in, he looked to the alcove and found his brother shirtless and rising from a bed shared with the priestess. "Explain yourself."

"We needed shelter, I found this cave. It's nothing to get your fur in a knot over. I'll restock the wood we used later."

"Explain yourself, Inuyasha," the elder ordered again.

"About what…? Oh, you mean this. Kagome was cold, she needed extra body heat. That's all. Nothing like that happened. Geesh, you're as bad as Miroku, jumping to conclusions." Inuyasha rolled his eyes, earning him a glare. "I swear."

"I can smell her heat. And your lust. Do not lie to me, little brother."

"Well, smell harder, because that's all there is. I didn't touch her. She's still a maiden." The younger rose, showing that he still wore pants. "See, nothing happened."

"Hn. You have compromised her reputation."

"A little late for that. It's not the first time we've traveled by ourselves."

"But it is the first time someone has caught you in this position. You will do right by her."

"Oh, really? You, the great demon lord Sesshoumaru is going to insist I marry her? Get real, nii-san, I'm a half demon. No one is going to stand for me being married to a priestess. No matter how much…" the youth trailed off, afraid of saying too much. Sesshoumaru would only mock him. Inuyasha looked down at Kagome, her peaceful face making his heart clench. He'd never gotten a peaceful night's sleep like he had with her curled up next to him. The only time he slept without waking was when his body quit on him.

"Regardless, you will marry her." Sesshoumaru was momentarily caught off guard by the utter despair in his brother's scent. Did the boy really love the miko? He often found them arguing with each other although they quickly united against him.

"Sure, I'll marry her. You figure out a way to allow us to live in peace and to keep her in the past. Let me know when you come up with a plan. I'm not putting her in danger any more than I have to, Sesshoumaru. No one knows about this but you and I. Everyone else but the others will assume we found one cave to take shelter in."

"Except when your fox kit tells everyone around that you and the miko spent the night alone."

"Shippou will keep quiet about this. He knows she could get hurt."

Kagome had woken up soon after Inuyasha had got up. She felt Sesshoumaru, although she was hesitant to sit up. She was pretty sure Inuyasha's kosode had come loose in the night. If she rose, there was no telling how much of her chest would be exposed. When she heard the pain his brother's words caused him, it decided it for her.

"So we'll get married if we have to." She heard Inuyasha's sharply indrawn breath, and opened her eyes to stare at his brother. "If anyone finds out, we'll just say we're engaged. Everything will turn out to be a big fat nothing after nine months rolls around without a child or I fire my arrows and everyone see that I still have my powers since most would think that I'd lose them if I married."

"Kagome…" She sat up, not liking the stare she was getting from the demon lord.

"I mean it, Inuyasha. I knew this could happen too. Miroku and Sango are already engaged so it doesn't matter if they're alone for a night. Of course, I didn't think it'd be your brother who found out but one deals."

The half dog demon looked between his brother and his priestess. "You'd marry me?"

"Of course. I'll stay by your side for as long as you let me. Didn't I say that before? And not just because we were caught in a compromising position." Kagome turned and smiled at her hanyou. "I love you, Inuyasha."

Sesshoumaru would have turned to give them privacy, but the awestruck expression on his brother's face was too good to miss. "Hn, it seems that the thought has never occurred to him yet everyone in your pack knows this."

"Shut up, Sesshoumaru," Kagome ordered. "He doesn't understand why I would love him because no one other than his parents ever has. Not really, Kikyo tried but she only saw the demon and not the person. You've been a rotten older brother so you have no say in this."

"You think this Sesshouamaru has no say in his brother's marriage, miko? He only lives because of me."

"Lives? Do you call being stuck to a tree for fifty years living? Or running for his life every day since his mother died? I'm an elder sibling too so I know what I'm talking about. We're here to protect our younger brothers. Sango would agree. I don't know the demon version of that but you haven't been doing it in my book. You're so jealous of the fact that your father gave Inuyasha Tetsusaiga, that you haven't realized the great responsibility he's handed you. Anyone can take a life, Sesshoumaru but the ability to save a life is different. You have the power to bring someone back from the netherworld with Tenseiga. And not everyone can or should be brought back. That is the responsibility handed to you."

Both brothers stared at her incredulously. She had not only had the gall to tell Sesshoumaru to shut up but she had lectured him as well. "Hn, you dare much for a human wench. If rumors reach me concerning this, Inuyasha, consider yourself a married man." Sesshoumaru turned on his heel and walked out of the cave.

"He's going to kill you one day."

"Forewarned is forearmed."

"That's what got us into this mess."

I don't consider it a mess, Inuyasha." Kagome smiled, moving forward to embrace him. "We just don't tell Mama about this. She'd be all for planning a wedding right for after I graduate high school."

"But Kagome…" Inuyasha crushed her to him, burying his head in her hair. "What if the well closes after the quest is done and you can never come back here? What would happen to us then?"

"We take it one day at a time for now. And I would wait forever for you, Inuyasha. Would you wait five hundred years for me?"

"Eternity, wench. I'd wait for eternity." He felt his throat close, allowing no other words.

"Then that's all that matters," she said, knowing he was too emotional to say he loved her back. "Although, we probably should get dressed before Miroku finds us. If Sesshoumaru jumped to conclusions, you know he will."

"Why, what conclusions would those be?" a familiar voice asked from the doorway.

The embracing couple stared at Miroku, signaling to Sango behind his back. She gave them a smile and happily knocked him unconscious. "Good morning, Kagome, Inuyasha. I see you've already had one visitor. Why don't you dress while I fix some breakfast?"

"Thanks, Sango. Where's Shippou?"

"Playing outside with Kirara. I had a feeling that when no explosions happened, something serious was going on between you and Sesshoumaru." The demon slayer watched her friend go into the other room before turning to Inuyasha.

"Don't give me that look. Nothing happened."

"I know. She would have dragged me away to talk if anything had. Just know that if anything does ever happen, you had better have married her first."

"Thanks for the warning," he said dryly. There had been a lot of those lately.

Kagome returned soon after Miroku roused and handed Inuyasha his kosode. With only a glare at the monk, he took it and his outer clothes to the hot spring's room and changed. When he came out, Shippou and Kirara had rejoined the group and they were preparing to eat breakfast.

"As soon as you're packed, Kagome, I want to head back to the village. This is the last trip we'll be taking for a while."

"Sure, Inuyasha." The other two young adults watch the byplay with slight awe. Kagome wasn't complaining about being rushed and Inuyasha wasn't actually rushing her. Kagome smiled at him softly and they saw his gold eyes warm in answer.

Inuyasha ignored his friends' curiosity and once everyone was packed and ready, left briefly to down a tree and place it in chunks in the cave. His brother could slice the trunk anyway he wanted. With Kagome and Shippou on his back, the hanyou joined his friends in their trek home.

It was almost midday when they arrived at Kaede's and the elderly miko breathed a sigh of relief at seeing them. She warmed them with cups of tea and stew for lunch. "I am glad ye made it back safely," she said to the inutachi. "It seems those extra supplies came in handy."

"Yeah, we got separated from Inuyasha and Kagome but everything's all right, Kaede-obaachan." Shippou deliberately ignored the four glares that were shot his way.

"Were they now? It is a good thing then that there were extras of everything." Kaede knew they'd been alone at night before so it didn't bother her that they'd spent last night by themselves. "Perhaps though, young one, it's best if not everyone knew they spent the night alone together. We know nothing happened, but others might jump to conclusions that are erroneous."

"What's that mean?"

"Wrong. We wouldn't want to cause them unnecessary trouble, would we?" Inuyasha hid his smile at the kitsune getting the subtle set down.

"No, I guess not. Sesshoumaru already knows and that's trouble enough."

"Your brother already is aware of the circumstances?"

"Yeah, but he had to butt in as usual. Everything's fine; babaa, don't worry. Come on, Kagome; let's get you back to the shrine. Your mother will want to know we haven't made icicles out of you."

"Kagome, do you have to take back the extra sleeping bags?" Sango asked. "We might need them again before winter is over."

"Nah, my aunt said I could have them until spring. We can keep them here just in case. I'll see you all later. Be good, Shippou."

"I will, Kagome." The fox kit gave her an innocent smile which no one believed.

"Bye, Kagome," the others chorused as they watched as the two left.

"Hmm, something sure has changed," the elder mused.

"I'm quite sure there will be less fighting between the two now that they've had some time to sort out their feelings without us butting in," Sango explained. "Sesshoumaru's appearance seemed to have been the catalyst for something."

"Oh, good." Miroku would never have agreed before but he'd seen the hug that morning.

"Yes, I do believe it is all to the good, Lady Kaede."

Mama was in the kitchen when they arrived. She welcomed them with smiles and hugs, glad that they had come back in one piece. "So, did the storm come?"

"Yeah, just like the scroll said. We found some shelter that my brother had previously set up and used it."

"And the extra supplies, did you need them?"

"Yes, Mama. Miroku and Sango didn't have thick blankets good enough for that weather."

"Good, I'm glad your cousins' things were helpful. I bet you have some wet clothes. Give them to me and I'll stick them in the wash." Reluctantly Kagome handed over the clothes in her bag. Mama frowned briefly when she came to the torn jeans, looking at the neat if slightly off the seam tears. "I don't suppose this means I'm going to have a grandchild in nine months, does it?"

"No, Mama. I was soaked through and couldn't move to take them off. Not wanting to risk touching me inappropriately, Inuyasha sliced the seams. That's all. Nothing happened." Like that, she added silently.

"Oh well, I suppose there's always the next storm." She went off, hiding her laughter at their choking. It was fun to tease them on occasion.

"Kagome!" Inuyasha was finally able to gasp.

"I know, I know but at least we know she's plotting. You know what they say, forewarned is forearmed." There was only one correct way of responding to that.

He kissed her. Lifting his head he watched her glazed eyes slowly clear. "How about a little warning next time? A girl could pass out."

"Nah, I don't think so. There have been way too many 'warnings' lately. I think I'll just surprise you." Going in for another, he liked how she lost the ability to speak. Yes, he wouldn't give her any warning about this.

"Okay," she said weakly after getting her breath back for the second time. She could deal with surprise kisses. "That would be okay."

And it was.