Inuyasha, and the characters therein, are the property of Rumiko Takahashi. I am in no way affiliated with Takahashi, or VIZ Productions.
This story is slightly off-canon in that Kagome is seventeen instead of fifteen. It doesn't take place during any specific part of the mission.
Tempest: 1) a violent windstorm, frequently accompanied by rain, show, or hail - A Blizzard... 2) furious agitation, or commotion - Tumult
Tumult: agitation of the mind or emotions
Sometimes we try so hard to convince ourselves that nothing will ever change, that we actually succeed and believe it. Sometimes it takes divine intervention to get us to see what has been right in front of us all along. Sometimes the euphemisms we've dismissed along the way come back to bite us in the ass.
You never know what you have until it's gone. How many of us have shrugged off such a remark? What would it take to make you finally realize the treasure you've held all along? What would it take to make Inuyasha realize?
Two years in, and nothing has changed. The jewel is incomplete, and Inuyasha's feelings remain unspoken. But when Kagome almost freezes to death, will it finally be enough to defrost the wall around his heart? Will he finally realize what he has, and what he almost lost?
~ o ~
Everything was white. Even with his hanyou senses, he couldn't see more than five or six feet in front of him. He couldn't hear all too well, either, the roar of the wind as it whipped through the trees crashing around him like thunder. His nose did little to ease his mind, so cold that it hurt to try to smell anything at all, and even when he did, practically all he could smell was snow. That was practically all that there was to smell. That, and the trembling ningen that clung desperately to his back as he trudged forward.
They had become separated from the others. How in Buddha's name that had happened, he wasn't sure, not that it particularly mattered at the moment.
They had been battling a youkai. Nothing spectacular, just your run of the mill oni demanding their jewel shards. He might have let it get off easy, had Kagome not suddenly informed him that the thing had a shard of its own. This meant that they had to engage, and defeat it, in order to collect its own shard. But the very presence of said shard also proved to make completing such a task slightly more difficult than it otherwise would have been.
During the brief, yet fierce battle, the oni's fury had raged, and in what seemed far too eerie to just be a coincidence, a horrific winter storm had started to blow in from beyond the mountains. Everyone had grimaced as the snow began to fall. It had already been a fairly cold winter evening, the sun slipping out of sight quicker than any of them would have liked under the circumstances.
Somewhere between Inuyasha's Wind Scar, Miroku's ofuda, and Sango's Hiraikotsu, the oni had realized that it was at a disadvantage, and had taken off into the woods, heading towards the mountains and the fast approaching storm. Inuyasha had quickly given chase, with Kagome upon his back of course, not about to let it or its jewel shard get away. He had sworn Sango and Miroku were right behind him. He had heard the slayer call for Kirara, and the monk call for Shippou, and he had, at least at first, felt their auras following at a rather steady pace from somewhere close by behind him.
Of course, that was before the blizzard struck.
Just as soon as he had caught up with the oni, a fierce bitter wind had ripped through the clearing in which they stood, blasting him in the face with a mixture of snow and icy rain. Kagome's sudden hiss of surprise and discomfort had distracted him for all of two seconds before he'd focused his energy on disbanding the youkai before him. Kagome, despite her discomfort with the dropping temperature, had stood proudly at his side, and together, with the combined force of her arrow strengthening his Wind Scar, the oni had finally met its maker. Old Man Winter, it would seem…
"Did that thing actually create this storm?" Kagome had asked with disdain, rubbing her arms in an attempt at gaining back some of her lost warmth.
"Feh! Hell if I know…c'mon…" had been Inuyasha's response, as he'd bent down to enable her to once again climb up onto his back. Her slowed and brittle movements had proven to him just how cold she was becoming.
Damn it all, this weather is way too cold for her, she's gonna freeze.
"Wh…where d…did S-Sango-o and Mir…roku-u g-go?" she had managed to ask between chattering teeth, and it was only then that he had noticed that their friends had gone missing.
"Huh? Oh hell!"
Taking off in the direction from which they'd come, he had attempted to sniff them out, but his nose had quickly become virtually useless in the rapidly dropping temperature, and it hadn't been long before he'd realized his top priority had to be the woman he was carrying. After all, Shippou and Kirara were both fire-based youkai, and as such, they were basically immune to the cold. Inuyasha could only hope that with their training, both Sango and Miroku would know what to do, under the circumstances. Hopefully, they had simply taken Kirara and flown off towards some village somewhere for shelter, knowing that they could reunite once the weather cleared. But even if they had got stranded, the hanyou was also pretty sure that both Kirara and Shippou together would be able to produce enough warmth so that their human charges wouldn't freeze. Kagome wasn't so lucky. Inuyasha was only a hanyou, but even if he had been a true inu-youkai, he still wouldn't have possessed the gift of fire.
Coming to that realization, he had abandoned his search for their friends in the attempt to locate adequate shelter for himself and the ningen girl who was ever so slowly losing consciousness on his back.
"Hey, Kagome…." he attempted to voice nonchalantly as he trudged forward, "How's that 'skool' thing of yours going?" he asked.
"L-Like you c-c-care…W-why d…do you ask-k?"
Shrugging best he could with a human leaning on his shoulders, he said, "I've heard people say that when you humans get too cold, you shouldn't go to sleep, so you gotta stay awake, which means we've gotta talk about somethin'…"
"C-cold-d" she managed to mutter between puffs of steamy breath.
"Yeah…" he hoisted her up a little higher, gripping her frozen thighs with a grimace, "…I know you're cold, j-just…" He attempted to still his own shaky voice, which had nothing to do with the weather, "Just stay awake, okay?"
"K-Kay…." he thought he heard her say between the rattling of her teeth. He was starting to get a little worried that he was losing her again, when he suddenly heard her continue with, "School's g-good."
Forcing a chuckle, he said, "Well, that's good. As often as you go back there for your tests, I'd hate to think it wasn't enough."
"L-Like you c-care…" he heard her grump again, but hey, if she was getting a little pissy, that'd help to keep her awake, right? Still, he thought better of disputing her claims at the moment, and decided to switch topics.
"You're running a little low on arrows, we should probably get you some more soon."
"K-Kay…" she mumbled again, and he sighed. He needed to get more of a reaction out of her.
"Ya know…" he started, "You're getting to be a pretty good shot with those things."
He mentally chuckled. He knew he'd get her attention if he complimented her. She probably thought the cold was starting to affect him as well.
"Well sure," he continued, as if it were the most natural thing to say in the world. "I mean, sure you were a screw-up at first," He could't have her thinking he'd totally lost his mind. "But I mean it, you ain't half bad these days."
"Th-Thanks…" she managed confusedly, wondering what on Earth had come over him.
"Y-You've g-gotten strong-ger t-too…" she rattled, and despite the fact that hearing her stuttering voice vividly reminded him of the fact that she was slowly freezing to death, he mentally smiled at what she'd said.
A particularly strong breeze came up from behind them then, hitting Kagome's bare legs with a vengeful force, and Inuyasha cringed at the sound of her whimper. He would run faster, but run where, exactly? Besides, him running would only create even more wind to attack Kagome's frozen skin. He needed to stretch what was left of his senses and find them some shelter, damn it!
After a few moments of silence he tilted his ears backward, attempting to catch any sound from the girl on his back. She was still gripping him firmly, and shaking rather violently, for a while at least. It was when she suddenly whimpered again, right before going slack, that he panicked.
Stopping abruptly, he attempted to ease her off of his back gently, but her limp body was unable to stand on its own - especially in the good three feet of snow that currently blanketed the forest floor - and she immediately began to fall.
He caught her with another cry of her name, and realized the girl was asleep. Or, more accurately, she'd passed out.
Damn it all! he cursed, as he scooped her up bridal style and began frantically scanning the surrounding area.
One of the kami must have taken pity on him in that moment, for his eyes spotted, in the not too far distance, what he could've sworn looked like a cave along the mountain base. He did run then, as quickly as he could, the frozen wind painfully whipping his face, making his eyes water. Or at least, that's what he told himself was the reason for his tears.
"Damn it wench!" he cursed aloud as he ran, "Wake the fuck up!"
He picked up his speed, and with one final leap, he was at the mouth of the cave. It was dark, and dreary, but at least it was dry. Upon entering, however, he discovered it was somewhat lacking in the warmth department. Frantically scanning the interior of the cave, he prayed to find some dry firewood, but apparently, the kami were only answering one prayer that night.
At least it's shelter… he reasoned in his mind, as he gently laid the frozen girl down, and slipped her backpack from his shoulder. That giant yellow bag might be many things, but waterproof wasn't one of them.
"Fuck!" he cursed out loud when he realized all of her changes of clothing were just as soaked as the outfit she had on.
I've gotta go see if I can find fire wood, but... I can't just leave her here like this… he thought, as he reached down to gently brush her cheek with the backside of his fingers.
New panic rose within him at the icy feel of her skin, as it suddenly dawned on him just how serious the situation had become. When he stilled his own breathing long enough to hear a shallow breath escape her pale lips, he allowed only a minimal percentage of relief to wash over him. The rest of him was too busy screaming her name as he frantically rubbed his hands across her arms and legs, in an attempt at creating warmth with the friction. She was irresponsive. Inhaling deeply, he was appalled by what he discovered. The scent of death had found its way into her fragrance.
"No!" he shouted as more tears fell, the walls of the cave crashing in around him as he felt his heart stop beating. He wanted to howl then, howl his grief, but a second shallow breath escaping her lips made him realize all was not lost, yet.
Hastily, he removed her clothing, all thoughts regarding the consequences of his actions kindly remaining in the back of his mind. Besides, she had to be awake in order to sit him, and honestly, the command would've been a blessing to his ears at the moment. Cursing again when he realized just how cold the soaked garments she'd been wrapped in really were, he quickly shed his own upper body of clothing and impulsively pulled the girl into his lap, wrapping his unnaturally warm fire-rat suikan over her body as he pinned her to his bare chest. The continual flow of her name never ceased to leave his lips, as he continued to rub his free hand up and down over her body.
Unconsciously, the hanyou began rocking back and forth as he held her, failing to think of a new excuse for his tears, seeing as how the wind was no longer blinding his face. Eventually, his own body slowly started to register the cold, as his bare back had been exposed to the air upon the hasty removal of his suikan and kosode, but he paid it no heed. While he could feel the cold, and it was unpleasant, it wouldn't prove dangerous to him.
Slowly starting to feel the frozen body in his grasp warm back up, ever so slightly, he released the puff of breath he hadn't even realized he'd been holding. Determining then that it would probably be better for her circulation if Kagome could lie down flat, he maneuvered himself over towards where he'd dropped her supplies, carefully untying her sleeping roll from her backpack and spreading it out before them. At least it was water proof. He then gingerly picked her up, careful not to jostle her too much, as he slipped both her and himself within the confines of her sleeping bag. He released his grip of her only long enough to zip the contraption closed around then, and then he pulled her close again, pressing her body against his bare chest with his arms wrapped around her tightly.
He finally permitted a smile to grace his lips after what had to have been at least an hour, when he felt her natural warmth return, radiating off of her in waves. He sniffed, relieved beyond words that the scent of death that had dared threaten to leave itself on her person had completely disappeared, as her heat permeated itself within his flesh. Sniffing again, he relished in her scent. Her hair smelled of sakura blossoms and wildflowers, a scent he associated with her weird futuristic soaps. He found the odor absolutely heavenly. Holding her that much closer, his own warming body slowly became aware of the fact that her naked body rested snugly against it, but he made no move to acknowledge his sudden state of arousal. The truth was, he had been aroused by her before, though in the past he'd always tried his hardest to deny it. He'd wanted to hold her like he was doing for the longest time, though of course never under such circumstances. She could sit him for it all she wanted if only she would wake up. Taking a moment to gauge her vitals, he smiled when he realized that Kagome was now truly asleep. It had to have been at least two more hours before he finally permitted sleep to take a hold of him, as well. The storm had let up enough for him to find more use of his senses, and his ears detected nothing but the now gentle breeze as it swayed through the trees. His defrosted nose picked up no scents from outside the cave other than those naturally associated with the forest. He was sure the sixth sense of his youki would awake him should a demonic aura enter their immediate area, but as a precaution, he did lay Tetsusaiga across their bodies, one hand slipping itself from the edges of the sleeping bag to wrap its clawed fingers tenderly around the hilt.
Several miles away, a young Buddhist monk and a female taijiya sat unusually close to one another, around a small fire pit.
"I'm worried Houshi-sama…"
"I know Sango, I know…" he sighed, rubbing his head, "But there is nothing we can hope to accomplish on this night except to offer them our prayers."
"Don't worry Sango…" a smaller voice piped up. "Inuyasha's a meanie, but he'd never let Kagome freeze."
"I know you're right Shippou, but what if they cannot find their way here?"
It was true, the village was rather small, and remote, and not used to travelers. It was only the good fortune of catching a glimpse of smoke rising into the sky that had led Kirara in that direction. The village didn't even have an Inn, though fortunately, it did have an abandoned hut, one that had belonged to one of their more elder citizens, who had recently passed on only a few years prior. The locals were humble, and kind, and readily welcomed the strangers with the use of said hut, and considering that two of the four travelers were youkai, that was actually saying quite a lot. There had also fortunately been a stack of dried firewood left within the hut from when the elder had passed, and little Shippou's kitsune-bi had been more than enough to ignite the blaze they were currently huddled around. Kirara, remaining in her larger form, was allowing the humans to lean against her body, her giant tails wrapped around them like a blanket. Sango need not worry about her partner's inappropriately wandering hands. Even Miroku knew when it was time to drop the routine.
Shaking his head in uncertainty after offering yet another silent prayer, the houshi decided to answer Sango's question as safely as possible.
"Then I am certain he will find another adequate shelter for the night."
Sango knew Miroku was only trying to make her feel better, but sighing, she allowed him to succeed. She knew he couldn't be certain of anything, but… what was the point in worrying when nothing could be done? Hopefully, all six of them will be reunited again come the following day.
Kagome awoke groggily the next morning, uncertain of her surroundings as consciousness returned to her in stages. The first thing she realized was that she felt incredibly warm and safe, the last thing she recalled before then being that she had been incredibly cold. Whatever had happened to produce such a drastic change, she was glad for it, and unconsciously snuggled closer into the warmth. Taking a deep breath, she was surprised by the scents that reached her nose. There was an underlying humidity in the air, like the smell of rain, and a chalky flinty undertone that suggested she was perhaps in a cave. But much more prominent than those scents were the scents of pine, of sunshine and wind, and…dog?
Inuyasha? she asked herself as she slowly opened her eyes.
Her line of vision was abruptly cut off, nothing but darkness in her sight, until she ever so gently pulled her head back just a bit. What she saw then amazed her. Bare flesh of a chiseled chest, adorned ever so delicately with a few stray whisks of silver mane. Tilting her head upward and to the side, she realized she was being held by an equally perfect arm, not too thin, and not too muscular, as it wrapped itself protectively across her back.
Why on Earth is he holding me like this? she questioned, as she took mental inventory of their positions.
She was lying on her left, curled up like a ball, and nearly smashed against his chest, as he laid before her on his right. His left arm was wrapped protectively around her, holding her to him, while his head appeared to be pillowed on his right arm, which bent at the elbow, and rested outside the sleeping bag, gently gripping what she assumed to be his sword, since it was outside her line of vision at the moment. But she could feel its weight against her side, and she quickly realized that he was deliberately holding Tetsusaiga over her body, to function as a shield. The sword was sheathed, she determined, and knowing of the barrier properties of its scabbard, she felt truly touched by the gesture.
She felt inordinately warm, despite his embrace, especially considering the reality of the temperature she could now feel upon her face as she peered beyond her sleep roll, and it was then that she realized the logical reason for his bare chest was because he had draped her in his fire-rat robe. But then, wouldn't he still be wearing his white kosode? Puzzling over that thought for a moment, she recalled the blasts of snow and rain that had soaked through to her very bones as they'd trudged through the forest last night, and realized that his cotton kosode might very well have been just as soaked as her uniform. Belatedly, she also noted the absence of said uniform, and got a rather sinking sensation when she realized she was naked.
I'm not going to scream, I'm not going to scream…
Slowly and tenderly, she maneuvered her right hand until she found the waist of his fire-rat hakama, and released a breath she hadn't been aware she'd been holding. She knew Inuyasha wasn't as perverted as the monk, but still, waking up naked and in his embrace had proven to be a little unsettling. She was quite relieved to discover that he wasn't naked as well.
Like anything would ever happen anyway… she reminded herself, knowing her feelings for the man were one-sided.
With that realization came once more the rather vivid imagery of what was greeting her that morning. She was naked, save for the fire-rat suikan she could feel held around her back, as her bare chest was practically smashed up against his own, as he held her in his embrace, within the warmth of her sleeping bag, his sword draped across her body for protection.
He's holding me like we're lovers…
She scratched that notion as quickly as it came, and determined the reason behind this embrace must have been for warmth. But to go to such extremes?
I must have almost died! she realized with a start, recalling the last thing she remembered of the night before having been clinging to his back while he attempted to talk to her about her school and archery skills.
He… she started sniffling, desperately attemping to prevent her tears from falling for fear he'd smell them and misunderstand. He saved my life…
Of course, he had saved her life on multiple occasions, but there was something extra kind and tender about this particular instance. She wondered what had gone on through his mind as he'd undressed her. Had he been at all attracted to her body? Had he been too terrified of her wrath of sits to even dare glancing a peek? Sure, if this had happened a couple of years ago, she probably would have bolted to her feet the instant their positions had registered, flattening his face to the cave floor with that horrid command. He probably would have yelled in turn, calling her a bitch, calling her a weak human, saying something along the lines of "I save you and this is the thanks I get!" At which point, the ramifications of the situation would have finally started to sink in, and she would have felt guilty, but it would have been too late to console him. He would have been hardened again, wall in place, and scoffed, and Feh'd, and told her to hurry the hell up and get dressed so that they could get on their way.
But she was seventeen now, not the naïve fifteen-year-old she had once been. In merely two years of traveling across feudal Japan, she had hardened in her own way. Kagome still liked to think that most people had good in them, and she still always tried to give the benefit of the doubt to those she came across. But she had also learned that there were true evils in the world. Evils her dear friend had seen far too much of in his inhumanly long, yet relatively short life. She knew of the things he'd been called, she'd heard them too, on occasion. Tainted, filthy, lowly… Would he fear her disgusted with him? If she were to overreact due to her own embarrassment, would he misinterpret such actions as said disgust?
Composing herself then, she swore not to come off agitated. She would not punish him for saving her life…that would just be stupid, and cruel. He had already seen her naked plenty of times over the last two years…so what if he was holding her naked now? Secretly, she'd wanted to find herself in this position for quite some time now, only…under different circumstances, of course.
Coming to her final decision then, the future-born-miko found her resolve, and slowly started to stretch her cooped up body in the way it had been demanding she do so ever since her consciousness had fully returned to her.
Inuyasha awoke to the sensation of Kagome stretching within his embrace, attempting to uncurl her body from the tightly wound ball it had become during the night. Over a dozen decades of forced survival skills didn't permit one to linger in that groggy stage between wakefulness and sleep, and so as a result Inuyasha was fully lucid instantly. Feeling her body moving away from his, he panicked.
Quickly discarding his sword off to the side, he tightly wrapped both of his arms around her, holding her to him for all she was worth. He didn't trust his voice to say what he was feeling, and he was equally sure she would be furious with him for his actions, but he couldn't help it. Kagome was alive. She was alive. She was awake. She had been returned to him. The world itself and life as we knew it could now continue to go on. He was certain she would struggle herself free from his grasp at any moment, and sit him into a crater comparable in depth to that of the Bone Eater's Well itself, but he didn't care. He just wanted to hold her, just one moment longer...
When Kagome felt him move his sword away and quickly tighten his embrace around her, forcefully holding her in place, she felt a mixture of emotions that each struggled to reach the surface first. She hadn't expected that kind of reaction from him upon his waking. She had honestly figured that he'd likely bolt up and out of the sleeping bag, probably believing her ready to subdue him. Could it be that he actually felt something for her as she did for him? Or could it be that he simply hadn't fully woken yet, after all? Was he aware that she was fully awake? Of course, were he actually still sleeping, then one of her fears was suddenly...did he believe her to be Kikyou?
Shaking the negative thoughts free, she decided to relish in the closeness of this contact, and letting her natural instinct take over, she once again snuggled up against his embrace. She was certain this couldn't last forever, despite how desperately she wished otherwise. The woman in her wanted to forever stay in that moment, in the arms of the man she loved. The innocence in her decided that it agreed with that notion for the simple fact that it was cold outside, and she didn't want to get up yet. The thought of mumbling "Just five more minutes…" came to mind, and she wanted to chuckle. Deciding to show him that she was in fact awake, as well as test whether or not he was, she increased the measure of their embrace in that moment by wrapping her own arm around his body in return.
She hadn't honestly thought through to what his reaction to her gesture would most likely be, but she was surprised when she felt him stiffen under her touch, and suddenly, she regretted her action, realizing that she'd likely frightened him.
Feeling her return his embrace was something he never considered as a possible outcome of his own actions. She obviously wasn't fully awake yet, after all. Now he didn't know what to do. Part of him wanted nothing more than to stay like that forever, while another part of him wanted to scurry away from her as quickly as possible before she woke up and started screaming.
Kicking herself for scaring the crap out of him, which was what she was sure she had just done, Kagome decided to put his racing mind to rest and ensure him that she was fully cognizant of what she was doing, and that there would be no ramifications for either of their actions.
She wasn't exactly sure of what to say. After all, "Good morning" just seemed too cliché. So thinking about it a moment, she decided on simply addressing him by name.
When Inuyasha heard his name escape her lips, and in a manner that strongly implied she was not muttering in her sleep, he gulped, and responded with a shaky "Y-Yes?" He mentally kicked himself for stuttering, but what was done was done.
She shifted her head then, tilting her line of vision upward to meet his eyes, thankful to find his pools of golden amber staring right back down at her, though she cringed at the visible uncertainty and mild terror that was present in is gaze.
"Please relax, I…I'm not upset with you, I'm…" she paused, unsure of how, exactly, to proceed.
"Kagome…." he sighed, already relaxing somewhat at the few words she'd spoken, when he realized that she wasn't going to sit him. It wasn't even as though that subduing spell were the worst punishment in the whole world. It was simply her anger, he couldn't stand it when she was angry with him.
She smiled when she both saw and felt him relax, and continued with, "I'm so grateful." Her tears fell unhindered then, neither of them making a move to wipe them away, as she finished with, "Thank you so much….for saving me."
She chuckled, relieved to know that she had successfully relieved his own concerns. Gazing into his eyes in that moment, she was astonished by what she could have sworn looked like love reflected back at her in their depths. Mesmerized by his gaze, she became conscious over the fact that they still held each other, and that she was still quite naked, her own hand resting rather casually against his bare skin, which she had only ever previously touched while applying bandages. She suddenly felt rather hot, as a tingling sensation down below left her feeling excited. A sensation that failed to go unnoticed, apparently, by either of them.
Kagome felt her blush rise as Inuyasha's eyes bugged, his nose flaring noticeably. His hands suddenly vacated their places against her body as he pulled himself away from her, but only far enough though, so that he could gaze at her more fully. He didn't vacate the sleeping bag as he stared at her, confusion and disbelief both swimming in his gaze.
Was his nose playing tricks with him? She smelled aroused. But aroused by him? Not possible... "Ka-Kagome?"
There was quite obviously no point in playing dumb. Well, Kagome thought, no time like the present to make a total fool of myself. On the other hand, maybe this was a blessing in disguise. After all, if there was ever a moment to confess her feelings, this would be it. Even though he'd released his hold of her, he still laid not two feet from her, still within the same sleeping bag. Had she imagined what she'd seen in his eyes a few moments ago? She sure hoped not.
"Don't look so surprised, would ya?" she attempted to tease, despite her rising blush and arousal. "How's a girl supposed to react, when she wakes up naked in the arms of the man she loves?"
Somewhere in the distance, she could swear she heard the sound of an explosion, from the bomb she'd just dropped, and the light of said explosion shown itself in his gaze in that moment, as the look she had questioned before of being love returned full-force, unquestionable this time.
"K-Kagome?" he stuttered again while gulping nervously, unable to believe his own ears, regardless of how accurate he knew the appendages to be. He closed his eyes for a moment, attempting to calm his breathing, despite the scents in the air that were currently driving him nuts. Opening his eyes once more, he saw hers staring back at him with a shimmer of uncertainty. Uncertainy, he was sure, in regard to what his response was going to be. Somehow finding his voice, he asked her, "Is that true? Do you love me?"
Did he sound hopeful?
"Why would you even need to ask me that?" she asked him in return, her voice soft and gentle, "I've only loved you since forever."
"Why didn't you ever say so before?" His voice held an innocence she'd never heard before.
Shrugging the best she could while still lying on her side within the sleep roll, she answered, "I knew there was really no room for me in your heart, and I didn't want you to feel bad that you couldn't return my feelings."
As her explanation sank in he started to get a little upset, though confusion was still the more dominant emotion.
"What on Earth are you talking about?" he snapped, then as realization dawned he added, "Wait, let me guess…" before she could even say anything, proving he wasn't as slow or dense as most people usually thought he was.
"Inu-" She was shushed by the return of his hand gently placing a finger upon her lips.
"Yes, I care for Kikyou, but I also care for you. It's just hard…for me, to express how I feel. No, you are not her replacement, I don't see her when I look at you, and yes, there is room for you in my heart. More than enough room." He removed his finger… "Any more questions?"
She chuckled softly, then scooted away enough to sit herself up, wrapping his suikain around her more for warmth than for modesty. "Actually…" she started, staring once more into his shimmering depths, "I have about a zillion questions…" she chuckled again, and he chuckled as well.
Sitting himself up as well, he made no move to shelter his upper body from the cold, and couldn't help but grin at the way her eyes scanned him up and down before returning once more to meet his own.
"Like I said, I ain't all that good at talking 'bout feelings 'n' stuff, but how 'bout this…" He paused, as if contemplating whether or not he was about to regret this, but continued nonetheless. "You keep your questions either yes or no, and I'll answer 'em all honestly." he said.
Kagome's eyes shown with so many mixed emotions in that instant, that she had to take a moment to catch her breath, in an attempt at stilling the fluttering in her heart. So many things had always plagued her in the back of her mind, and this was finally her chance to clear everything up. But…would she be happy with the results? What if he really didn't feel the same way she did? Well, at the very least, her questions were about to be answered, regardless of what those answers were. The worst part was the not knowing.
"All right…" she responded slowly, licking her suddenly very dry lips, as her body quaked with nervousness. Where to start? She supposed she should start at the beginning, that being a rather a logical place to do so.
"Before Naraku…before he tricked you guys…you two were in love?"
He was taken aback by her first question, but he supposed the exact nature of his relationship with Kikyou had always been left to presumption. It wasn't exactly like he enjoyed talking about his past, and he quickly realized that everything Kagome knew about from back then had been explained to her by Kaede. "Yes." he finally answered, truthfully.
"If Naraku hadn't have happened, you two would have married?"
"But…only if you became human, right?"
He sighed… "Yes."
"When you first woke up, and saw me standing there, did you really think I was her?"
"That's not a yes or no question…"
Sighing in frustration, she tried again, "Fine… Do I smell like her?"
"Wait, no?" now she was confused. "But you said you'd recognize her 'stink' anywhere, and you always complained about my smell."
"Feh, I thought you were her 'cause you have the same soul, and my youki recognized it, on a subconscious level, okay? You already know I lied 'bout hating your smell, now continue…"
Kagome was a little apprehensive of progressing if Inuyasha was already getting so agitated, but then again, she had broken the rules with her question, so she vowed to stick to merely yes or no questions from that point on.
"I'm sorry…" she mumbled, to which he Feh'd… "Okay," she continued then, "That time I accused you of hating me 'cause I looked so much like her, and you said it wasn't like that, and then our eyes met, and you looked like you were going to kiss me…were you really going to kiss me?"
Now they were getting into the questions he had been expecting…and dreading.
Kagome wanted to ask why again, but thought better of it, merely cataloging his answer, unable to stop the small smile that appeared as she did so.
"Okay…next question…" she paused, as if truly giving it some serious thought. He hadn't told her how long he'd be willing to put up with this. What if she only had a limited amount of questions? Better make them count… "Have you ever purposely peeked when I've been bathing?"
His face flushed to the same red as the suikan that was currently draped around her delicate frame. What the hell kind of question was that? She didn't seem upset, though, almost…hopeful? That couldn't possibly be right. Ears drooping unceremoniously low upon his head, be visibly gulped, and then reluctantly answered, "Yes."
To his surprise, she actually chuckled then, and her smile increased, as she rather playfully asked, "Did you like what you saw?"
"Gods Yes…" he moaned, relieved beyond words that she wasn't upset.
"Okay, serious question…" she stated while chuckling again, before her mood suddenly became rather somber. Sensing the change, he gulped again.
"Do you still love Kikyou?"
"That's not fair, rephrase the question…" he pleaded, not angry with her, but afraid she'd misunderstand his answer.
Kagome was taken aback by his response, but thought it over, and then asked, "Do you still love Kikyou the same way you loved her before?"
"No." he answered matter-of-factly.
"If you could bring her back to life, I mean real life, would you?"
He had to chuckle at Kagome's confused expression, until he got deathly serious, and explained, "If Kikyou were made alive, it would probably kill you. I would never do that."
"If Kikyou could be brought back to life without harming me, would you do it then?"
"Probably, yeah…only because she didn't deserve to die…" he mumbled guiltily.
"You're venturing from 'yes' or 'no' answers…" she pointed out with a smirk.
She giggled a bit, then got serious again and said, "I don't hate Kikyou, I wish we could help her." while reaching across and placing her hand on his shoulder.
"Thanks…" he mumbled, ears lowering once more.
"Okay…" she clapped her hands together, signaling she was continuing once more. "After the mission is over, do you plan on letting Kikyou take you into Hell?"
He could tell she was extremely nervous of his answer. Sure, Kikyou had tried to take him into Hell that one time, and he had been so guilty over her death that he thought he had been willing to go. But partially, he also knew he had been under a spell at the time, knocked unconscious like he'd been. Was it because Kikyou had known, were he in his right frame of mind, that he wouldn't have chosen to leave Kagome like that? Once the spell had been broken, and he had realized that Kagome was in danger, he had left Kikyou's clutches to save her. Didn't that prove something? Kikyou had accused Kagome of meaning more to him than she herself, but he hadn't been able to either confirm or deny her claim, at that time. But Kikyou had only wanted to drag him off into Hell because she'd thought that he had betrayed and killed her. That had been before she'd learned the truth about Naraku, and the truth was, that now that Kikyou was aware of Naraku's trickery, she didn't even want to drag him off to Hell with her any more. Kaede had also explained to him, when he'd said he'd willingly have gone with her, that Kikyou's soul could not, in reality, even descend into Hell, because it had already been reincarnated, and that if the Kikyou that walks today were to ever fall, her piece of soul that had been 'borrowed' from Kagome's body would go right back to where it belonged. Of course, he would have to explain all of that to her at a later time, since it didn't exactly fit into a 'yes' or 'no' answer. But at the moment, Kagome was waiting on him, and she had undoubtedly seen his various thoughts as they'd burned past his eyes in this moment, indicating he was truly reflecting over his answer. Finally, he gave it…
"No, I will not be leaving this world with her." he stated matter-of-factly, to assure her that there was no lingering doubt in his mind whatsoever. "I plan on staying very much alive."
"I'm glad…" she sighed in relief, wiping the stray tear that had managed to fall while she'd held her breath in anticipation of his answer. "Do you still want to use the jewel to become a full youkai?" she asked him next.
Inuyasha thought about that one for only a minute, remembering how he became when he transformed. He shuddered. "No." he answered honestly.
"Do you plan to use it to become human?" she asked worriedly.
He could sense her anxiety, and answered, "No." with a smile as he felt her sigh in relief.
"Do you love me?" Whoa, where had that come from? She hid her face in her hands, grumbling.
Laughing a full blown laugh, he said, "Boy, that one really popped out, didn't it?" poking fun at her obvious humiliation.
"Can I rephrase the question?" she asked, mortified, and face still hidden.
Her breath hitched, catching his double meaning, but she smiled when she looked up and saw the love in his eyes, and the smile upon his own lips.
"Do you love me like more than just a friend?"
"After the mission is over, do you wish that I would stay with you in this time, instead of going back to mine?"
His own breathing hitched then, at the reminder that she wasn't, after all, from his time, and as such, truthfully didn't belong in his world. "Y-Yes." he answered, unable to hide the quiver in his voice.
Throwing herself forward and into his embrace then, Kagome wrapped her arms around him, paying no heed to the fact that the front of the suikan she wore had come slightly undone, and as a result, her bare chest was once again pressed up against his own.
"Why don't you ask me your own questions now?" she whispered while still holding him so tightly, he felt it was as if she feared to let go.
Wrapping his own arms around her back, he held her to him just as fiercely, as he whispered, "Do you want to stay in this time, with me…when the mission is over?"
Sighing with tremendous relief, and hugging her body even closer, he reached up with one hand, and slowly ran his fingers through her hair, as he asked, "When you say you like me just as I am…as a hanyou…do you really mean it?"
She chuckled, then answered, "Yes, of course."
"You're not disgusted by my touch?"
"You don't think I'm ugly?"
She could tell he was being more playful, and less serious, when he asked, "You don't want me to turn human and get rid of my dog ears?"
"Hell No!" she laughed, reaching up with her right hand to start rubbing one of said ears.
"Do you really hate it when I touch your ears?" she asked next, thinking, Two can play at this game…
"No." he answered behind a blush, as he leaned his head into her touch. "Do you realize your breasts are pressed up against my chest…?" he mumbled almost drunkenly, as he lost himself to the sensation of her rubbing his fuzzy ears.
"Yes…" she answered softly, pressing herself against him even further. "Do you like it?"
"Yes…" He started rumbling low in his throat, in what Kagome somehow knew was a contented growl, almost like he was purring. "If I tried to kiss you now, would you pull away again?"
"No…" she answered, as she met him halfway, their lips pressing together gently.
It was a short and sweet kiss, mostly chaste, though Kagome did deepen the passion slightly when she opened her mouth and suckled on his bottom lip before pulling away.
"If…" he attempted while catching his breath, "If I were to build us a house, would you live with me?"
She pulled away enough to look him in the eyes. Live with him? In that time period, wasn't that the same thing as...
"Are you asking me to marry you?"
He chuckled at her bug-eyed expression. "Yes. Will you?"
"Yes!" she squealed happily, as she smashed her lips against his once more.
Once their kiss ended, he chuckled again at the way she just sat there, with the front of his suikan wide open, revealing her chest. "You better cinch that closed, Kagome, unless you want to become my wife right now." he teased.
The miko looked down over herself, and blushing, she pulled the robe back closed while he vacated the sleeping bag.
Relieved to find that her uniform was, for the most part, fairly dry, he flung the outfit at her, laughing when her clothes hit her in the face, as he muttered, "Well come on, get dressed, we'd better go make sure the others didn't freeze."
She plucked her uniform from her head, sticking her tongue out at him, to which he chuckled again. He then proceeded to honorably turn his back while she dressed. He laughed when he felt his suikan and kosode hit him in the back of his head, and getting dressed himself, he kept his back to her, remaining standing where he was until he felt her come up beside him. Feeling her tuck her arm around his hip, he returned her sideways embrace, leaning his head down upon her own when she rested hers upon his shoulder.
"Did you really mean all that?" she asked softly, as they gazed out into nothing, each fully engulfed in the presence beside them.
"Yes, Kagome, I meant it…" he managed to mutter in turn, finding the courage to state a few things not yet cleared up. "I do still love Kikyou, as a friend, but…" He hesitated only in his own indecision over what to say, Kagome remaining perfectly silent at his side, knowing she needed to give him time to find his words. "I've known you longer now, than I'd known her. I know more about you, than I ever knew about her. You know more about me than I ever revealed to her. You mean more to me than her." That said, he turned his head slightly, and planted a delicate kiss upon her forehead.
"I promise to try not to be jealous when you go off to see her…" she murmured, and he nodded against her, adding…
"It's not like we do anything. We couldn't even if I wanted to, which I don't. She's not of the living, and I know that. It's just…"
"I understand…" Kagome interrupted gently, turning her head to kiss the shoulder she leaned upon. "She's the image of what you once had, what was stolen from you. You carry the memory of the love you once shared, and you wish to reminisce."
"Yeah, something like that." he agreed, but then added, "But that was before I thought you loved me. I thought all I had was the memory of the love I'd once had with her, and lost. I realized I loved you a long time ago, but she never wanted me as a hanyou, so I figured you couldn't, either."
"We may share the same soul, but we're not the same person."
"Don't have to tell me that." Inuyasha purred seductively, as he turned her in his arms and gently kissed her lips once more. "Don't ever think I compare you to her, I stopped doing that a long, long time ago. I love you for you…Ka-go-me."
She chuckled at the way he said her name, and responded with, "And I love you for you, just as you are, doggie ears 'n' all."
Smiling, he turned his back to her and kneeled, and she recognized the gesture instantly. All possessions gathered, Kagome climbed upon his back, and together they headed out into the new day.
~ Fin ~