Chapter 2- The Discovery

"Hey, Chief? It's starting to come down pretty hard now. Shouldn't we be heading back?"

Two hunched figures, huddled in thick fur pelts crunched through the snow, leaning into the whipping winds as they journeyed in the rising storm. They traveled side by side, both searching the white landscape for any sign of another life form. The figure who spoke shivered and pulled his furs tighter to his chin.

"Shit! Maybe your right," said the other figure. He sighed and tipped his head back to the sky and his shoulders slumped in defeat. "I don't think we are gonna make it back, though. We need to find shelter." With that the two figures veered back toward the distant grey mountains.

The only sounds that accompanied them on their trek was the whistling winds, the crunch of their fur covered feet in the snow, and their own fogging breaths, huffing with the effort to move through the snow. Suddenly the Chief froze, causing his companion to nearly crash into him from behind. He tore his hood from his head, exposing his long pony-tailed ebony locks. His pointed ears twitched and his sky blue eyes narrowed. There was… a sound. He sniffed the air, but the winds had carried most smells away.

"Chief?" questioned his companion.

"Did you hear that?" asked the chief as he surveyed the landscape. His ears perked. "There it is again! It's almost like… whimpering."

His companion said nothing as the Chief strained to hear the direction the noise was coming from. It came once more, from his right. He whipped his head around, determined to find what was making the noise. What if it's them, he thought frantically.

"Koga, I don't hear anyth-"

"There!" Koga's eyes narrowed further as he spied a splash of brilliant red among the dreary whitewashed landscape. He bounded off towards the red, more hopping from foot to foot as he tried to maneuver through the deep snow. As he neared he saw that the red was a bit of cloth. The cloth was peaking out of where it was buried under a mound of snow. His heart sank. If it's them, then they are surely dead.

He sank to his knees as his companion finally reached his side and started to slowly remove the snow from the mound. He was afraid of what he might find and certainly did not want to see it any faster than he had to.

"Oh!" cried his companion, as a whimper broke through the snow. Koga's eyes lit up. He had forgotten about the noise he heard. Could they be alive? He dug faster, etching out a figure in the snow, which by then was falling so hard that it nearly filled in whatever Koga dug out.

A big brown fur was crumpled over the prone figure. The red cloth formed a pair of hakama which covered a pair of legs. Koga could easily smell blood and lots of it, as well as a sharp burning smell that signified the presence of poison. More whimpering could be heard. He lifted the fur from the figure and gasped.

Underneath the fur was a small red clad body of a boy. White silky hair lay bunched around the youth's head, the ends matted with blood. Blood also covered his right shoulder and pooled underneath his chest, which rose and fell with quick and shallow shaking breaths. Koga could not see his face, due to the shivering babe that lay in front of it, but Koga would recognize this pup and cub anywhere.

"Inuyasha?" breathed Koga's companion incredulously, "And, Kami-sama, is that Kunio-chan?"

"Ginta, grab Kunio. We have to get these two inside and warm them up NOW!" Ginta rushed forward and scooped up the shivering cub, which clung to the hanyo's hitoe and tried desperately to dig his nose further into his neck. Once the cub was wrapped securely in Ginta's furs, where he began whining in earnest, Koga got a good look at the unconscious inu. His skin was pale with the lack of blood and tingled in blue from the cold. He was hypothermic and was so cold, he did not shiver anymore; at that point, shivering would do little other than waste badly needed energy. As Koga picked him up and hoisted him over his shoulder, he noted the near frozen state of his limbs, tight with the cold, and the icy temperature of his skin.

The group of four made their way to the mountain side as fast as they could. Koga wanted to run. Even without the jewel shards that were once embedded in his legs, he was still one of the fasted runners in his clan. He could not go too fast, however, as he did not want to leave Ginta and the cub behind. In this weather, where the falling snow was now almost forming a curtain of white, they would have no way of finding each other again.

It only took a few minutes for the two wolf youkai to find a small opening within the rock face. This was their territory and they knew this mountain like the back of their hands. The small opening they entered was the entrance to a small cave, large enough for the group to huddle in, but not very deep or big enough for them to stand upright.

The two wolves knew what they had to do. In the mountains, one did not live very long without knowing what to do to get warm. Quickly they stripped themselves of their furs. Ginta laid his down on the floor, where he placed the whimpering cub. Their clothes were the next to go, stripping down to nothing but the furs covering their feet. Koga peeled off Inuyasha's clothes, the hitoe and kosode undershirt nearly solid with frozen blood.

Koga pulled Inuyasha's body into his chest and scooted to the middle of the fur on the floor. The whimpering cub was wrapped in Ginta's arms as he too scooted onto the furs. They covered themselves, pulling all of Koga's and Inuyasha's big furs over the group, tucking them underneath their bodies to trap the body heat. The cub thrashed in Ginta's arms as he molded himself against the inu's back, shivering with the contact with his cold skin. Squirt climbed out of his embrace as the two wolves began to rub themselves over Inuyasha's body trying to warm him with the friction of skin on skin. He tried to bury himself back into the crook of Inuyasha's neck as Koga ran his hands up and down Inuyasha's side and chest, quickly rubbing together their entwined legs to warm their legs and feet.

They lay there in silence, Inuyasha sandwiched between the two wolves, Koga pressing him into his chest and Ginta impressing himself into his back. Their arms wrapped tightly around him, trying to cover him with as much warmth as they could. The silence went on, as both wolves were lost in their own thoughts about what they had come across. As Koga watched the cub lick at Inuyasha's face and nip and his chin, he finally took in the scene before him. He had not wanted to think about what it meant that this cub was with Inuyasha, but now he had nothing but his thoughts to entertain him.

Kunio, his youngest cub, was not supposed to be with Inuyasha, but with his mother, Koga's mate. Where she was now, he had no idea. Koga and his Beta were out here in this blizzard for that very reason. She and the cub were supposed to have come back yesterday, but the guards had not seen, heard, nor smelled any sign of them. He swallowed hard as he desperately tried to think of an alternative reason why she was not with his cub to the one that had settled into his mind.

Inuyasha began to shiver violently. He was warming up. Good. His temperature had risen to a stage where the quaking of his muscles would generate enough heat to help warm him further.

Koga moved his focus to the pale face in front of him; his lips still chapped and tinged with blue. He had not seen hide nor hair of the mutt in twenty three years, since the just after his shards were taken by Naraku.

Until just recently, life had gone on much the same as it always had for the Prince of the Northern Wolf tribe. He had gotten a kick out of antagonizing Inuyasha about taking Kagome, back then. Truly he cared for Kagome, but he was well aware that he had been promised to Ayame, the princess of a neighboring wolf clan for decades before then. If anything, he might have been able to mate the Shikon Miko, but if not, he had still had fun riling up the rowdy hanyou. It had not been so funny when he had heard stories of the grieving inu at the well. When news had finally reached the Northern Wolf tribe about the Miko's disappearance, he had been sad, but had quickly moved on.

Five years ago, it was decided that he would take his place by Ayame's side and the two clans would join, making Koga the Chief Alpha of the North. They had almost immediately had four cubs. Koga cherished his heirs and raised them along side his mate. Despite the fact that they had not really known each other when they mated, their relationship was friendly, and it worked well.

Ayame had recently finished milking her cubs. Having four mouths to feed had kept her inside the cave at all times and she had been eager to get back out into the world. Three days ago, Ayame had wanted to get out before the coming storm and used the excuse of gathering bark from the magnolia trees to the south for medicines. She bundled up little Kunio, who still needed his mothers care, (the others were bigger and stronger and therefore spent most of their time with the other clan cubs) and had hightailed it out of the cave. No one had seen either of them since. Until today.

Koga, after his mate had not returned when expected yesterday, had made ready to search for her. As always, his trusted Betas, Hakkaku and Ginta volunteered to assist him in his search. He left Hakkaku to take on his role as the stand-in leader in the caves while he and Ginta braved the worsening weather to search. The only thing they found was Inuyasha… with his cub.

Koga watched his cub turn away from him and try to press himself further into the inu's neck, no longer licking at him, but stroking his cheeks with his hands. It was one more sign of the worst. His cub would not have clung to Inuyasha unless something bad had happened, unless Inuyasha was all he had. Koga shook his head, trying to shake out the morbid thoughts. He would not believe anything until he heard from Inuyasha how he came across his cub.

As the minutes ticked on, Koga could feel Inuyasha's shivers began to dissipate and watched as his skin began to pink. Inuyasha's face was mere inches from his and he could do nothing but study him. Koga would admit it to no one, but he had always thought Inuyasha was beautiful, and even now, with him laying half frozen and wind burnt, was no exception. He had always called him "mutt face" or variations of the "ugly dog" theme. He had done that because those were the things that were the most captivating about Inuyasha, his beauty and his puppy ears, and he hid his attraction to them by calling negative attention to them. Eventually it just became habit, his own pet name for the pup. But, Koga sighed, facts are facts, and the fact is this mutt is gorgeous.

And he is so young, just a pup! Maybe it was that he had never been so close to the half-breed or seen him relaxed in sleep, but he had never noticed before just how young he was. His eyes raked over Inuyasha's rounded pink tinged cheeks, small regal nose, and dark lashes that he knew covered wide golden eyes. Koga knew that Inuyasha was around two hundred years old, though pined to the tree in timeless sleep for fifty years actually left him aged little more than a hundred and fifty.

He knew that, but the pup had always been surrounded by older people. Sango and Miroku were in their early twenties, and Koga had the appearance and maturity of a human of the same age, though he was actually around three hundred and fifteen. Sesshoumaru was the same, but he had a few decades on Koga, and Kaede… Well the old woman had everyone beat. The only exceptions were Kagome and Shippo. Inuyasha looked and was as mature as the equivalent of a fourteen or fifteen year old human boy. When Kagome had arrived, she had been fifteen, though by the end of their time together, she was already passing him by in age and maturity and entering adulthood.

Inuyasha took a shaky breath, unable to get enough air due to his punctured lung and obviously still pained from his oozing wounds, breaking Koga from his thoughts. Feeling the hanyou's soft skin against him, Koga could feel him warming in the wolves' embrace.

"He's getting warm. Let's turn him over so we can get a look at his wounds," Koga announced the Ginta, "Grab Kunio."

Ginta seized the cub from Inuyasha's neck and he began to cry and reach for his inu. Koga turned the hanyou to his stomach carefully, conscious of his vicious chest injury. The angry open wound still bled a little, but it was the frothing yellow poison that bubbled from it that had Koga truly concerned.

"Keep Kunio-chan away until I clean him up," Koga ordered, "He's got poison in here, that's burning away at him." Ginta held the wriggling cub firmer, as he watched his Alpha clean the wounds. Koga leaned in and licked at the open, bleeding wounds, first the front and then he was flipped over and his chest was cleaned.

Inuyasha let out a whimper and a low moan when Koga turned him to his side again and started on the smaller gash in his side. "Squirt… my.. pup…" he whined as he began to weakly thrash in Koga's hold. Squirt finally squeezed free of Ginta's grasp and crawled over to Inuyasha. He settled in the nest of Inuyasha's soft white hair that had pooled around his face, and nuzzled his forehead. The cub licked at his cheeks and mouth and settled against his face and burying Inuyasha's nose against his skin, surrounding the hanyou reassuringly with his scent. Koga did not know why Inuyasha was dreaming of feces* or puppies, but as the cub settled against him and the inu breathed in the scent of the cub, he settled back into a deep healing sleep.

The group settled into a routine of rest and caring for the injured hanyou. As the wound healed from the inside out, poison was pushed out. The poison would have eaten away at the healthy healing flesh if not removed, so Koga had to lick it away every few hours and spit it out, away from their tent of furs. The acidic poison left his tongue raw and burned but it always healed by the time he had to clean Inuyasha again. Ginta would leave the warmth of the furs occasionally to go to the cave opening and chip off some ice chips to suck on, keeping them all hydrated, and check to see if the storm had passed.

After two days, Ginta rushed back to the furs shivering, as always, clutching a few chunks of ice.

"The snow's stopped," he announced.

"Good," Koga sighed, "I think he's healed enough to be able to move him to the caves tomorrow."

Koga took two pieces of ice from Ginta and stuck one in his mouth. He bit his portion in half, holding one out to the cub, who took it to suck and gnaw on, propped up against Inuyasha's uninjured shoulder, after Koga slowly rolled Inuyasha to his back. He ran his fingers through his hair and cupped his rosy cheeks, flush from fever.

"Inuyasha," he said, as he bit a piece of his ice and crushed and melted it in his mouth. Inuyasha's lashes began to flutter and soon his golden eyes blearily tried to focus.

"Hey, Inuyasha," Ginta said soothingly, as he began to rub Inuyasha's arm in comfort. Inuyasha's face twisted and he grunted in pain. "I know it hurts but you have to wake up and drink some water. Open up."

Koga took hold of the inu's jaw and opened his mouth. He settled his mouth against the pup's soft lips and emptied it of the melted ice. Inuyasha drank vigorously from him, reaching for more within Koga's mouth with his tongue. Koga bit off another piece of ice and repeated, tasting the inu every time he searched for more water. When Inuyasha had his fill, he rested back trying to focus on the face above him.

"Ko-Koga?" he whispered, his voice rough and unused. At the sound of his voice, Squirt screeched in excitement and crawled between Inuyasha and Koga and up to his face. He held Inuyasha's face in his small hands while he rubbed their cheeks together and cooed comfortingly. Without the strength to lift his hands and hold the cub, Inuyasha nuzzled the cub and breathed his scent in deeply, eliciting a giggle and a return nuzzle to his chin. Koga watched his cub bonding with Inuyasha and sighed. He would have to deal with that later.

"Just rest, Mutt. We will be leaving for my caves in the morning" Inuyasha closed his eyes and breathed in the cub again before unconsciousness took him again.

A/N: heya guys! I want to thank you for your reviews, favs, and alerts! They are sincerely appreciated and really motivate me to continue writing!

Also, I must tell you that this chapter was inspired by the awesome fic Winter's Chill by Dante1444. It's the little plot bunny that spawned the rest of the story, so read it and enjoy.

*Squirt= Feces, get it? Haha! *silence* Yeesh… Tough crowd.