.Chapter Eight

It's been way too long since my last update! Between moving to a new country and trying to survive university, it's been hectic! I lost inspiration for completing this story for awhile. I kinda wasn't sure which direction I wanted Beyond the Bounds to take but after watching the entire Inuyasha series again, I'm fired up and ready to go!

I honestly would like to thank all of my precious reviewers for your comments and above all your patience with me! I tried to make this chapter extra long, just for you guys, enjoy!

Mizuki began to quietly stir from her deep sleep and slowly sat up, trying to shake the immense headache which soon followed. Grogginess clouded her mind as she sought to review the events of the past few hours, most of it seeming like a mere dream. But the chilly air and the rigid stone floor of her new prison were harsh reminders that everything that happened was indeed very real. She lifted her head and attempted to try and make out anything in the inky darkness of the place, though she could see nothing. Mizuki remembered following the demon, her captor, down the stairway that led to this new chamber so that she could avoid being poisoned by Naraku's fumes. She could still feel some of the lingering effects from the miasma and the evil aura, though she felt much better and stronger than she had a few hours before.

She remembered that the demon had lighted the way for her with a torch as they descended the stairs, but now that he was gone, she was left alone in complete darkness. Thankfully, she wasn't kept behind bars anymore as she was earlier, though she still felt every bit a prisoner in Naraku's castle. The priestess decided to explore this new area for anything that might be of use to her later on. Mizuki wouldn't allow herself to be completely defenceless in a place like this and if she couldn't rely on her spiritual powers to help her, she would have to rely on something else instead. Maybe there would be something that she could arm herself with. She stood on wobbly legs and began to fumble her way through the darkness.

Though virtually empty, the room was fairly large, and it took her quite a few minutes to feel her way around the entire thing. There were no windows; there were no lamps or torches, just complete and utter darkness. After finding nothing at all, the young priestess collapsed against the wall and sank to the ground. She brought her knees to her chin and cradled herself for some form of comfort.

The situation sure seemed hopeless enough. And still, she had yet to understand what this Naraku could've possibly wanted with her. Mizuki sat in the inky darkness of her prison as she reflected on everything that had occurred, and it frustrated her to no end that she had no idea why all of this was happening. As her thoughts ventured back to her peaceful village home in the north, tears threatened to surface from the corners of her emerald eyes. She longed to distance herself as far as possible from this dreary place and return to her quiet home.

At that thought, Mizuki also grew very concerned for the safety of her fellow villagers. Were they able to survive the attack? What of the elderly and children, had they gotten away to safety? There was so much chaos around her that she hadn't been able to assess the village's situation as she would've liked. Not that she was able to, seeing as how she had come face to face a very powerful shadow demon. Tears began to flow freely down her pale cheeks now as she buried her face in her arms and sobbed quietly.

A few years ago, she had only just begun the rigorous training which priesthood demanded of her. She had been ten years old at the time and now being a young woman of only sixteen, she would describe herself as anything but an experienced priestess. Despite this, a crucial part of her training taught that one should always remain calm even in the face of danger, because rational thoughts lead to rational actions.

That also meant that irrational thoughts lead to irrational actions, which could bring about one's own demise, as well as that of others. As a priestess, allowing that to happen was inexcusable simply because it was her sole duty to protect those around her. That was the first thing she'd learned back then, taking control of her own mind and emotions through prayer and extensive meditation. Fortitude was an essential trait that all priestesses should possess, and her sensei had never let her forget that.

Yet look at her now.

She found herself in a dark chamber, all alone, captured by an indescribable evil and awaiting her demise. She knew she should stay vigilant, or calm her troubled spirit through meditation, yet all she could do is sit there and cry. Mizuki hated how she was dealing with this right now, but it seemed as though crying was the most easiest and painless form of release. But what would her sensei think if he saw her this way: huddled in a corner and sobbing like a little child who'd lost her mother? She knew that Master Kuang would be gravely disappointed in her, but she found that she just didn't care. It felt so good to be able to finally express herself in such a way for once, even if it was the result her own fears. Just being able to cry in frustration, venting her fears, was enough to lessen the burden of years of emotional restraint. The dark room was completely silent, save for the sounds of the young girl's sobs.

...

Kanna shifted her mirror and Naraku looked on in interest as he watched his captive priestess weep to herself. A small smile graced his lips at the sight of her apparent misery. There was just something about her suffering that roused the demon blood in his veins to feverish levels. Perhaps it was because she was so pure and innocent in nature that it made her pain all the more pleasurable to him. He could only imagine what the pure sweetness her virgin blood would taste like on the tip of his tongue. Or perhaps the delightful sound of her screaming in utter horror and writhing under him as he...

Naraku frowned at that thought. He was never one to allow his primal instincts rule his thoughts in such a way. He mentally cursed his human blood. That particular part of him always seemed to be raging with one emotion or another and he found it to be quite a nuisance. The fool, Onigumo always made him feel certain human emotions that he would rather not experience such as jealousy and...lust. Clearly, Onigumo now lusted for this human girl, as he did Kikyo, and that was made apparent by the throbbing member brushing uncomfortably against his yukata. Naraku sighed in annoyance, deciding that he would have to find another way to rid himself completely of Onigumo at a later date.

Instead, Naraku peered evilly into Kanna's mirror and saw that the young priestess had ceased her sobbing and had curled into a fetal position against the castle wall. He rose from his sitting position on the floor and decided that it was about time he paid his new guest a visit. After all, as master of the castle, it would be rather impolite of him not to introduce himself to his honoured guest.

And besides, he was sure that his lonely little priestess could use some company.

...

Mizuki had fallen into a light sleep again until she was jolted awake by an overwhelming evil presence in the room. She instantly stood to her feet and prepared herself to face whatever it was that could make her very spirit cringe with scorn. Mizuki instantly realized that she was no longer in complete darkness as she was before she fell asleep. Now, there were lit torches mounted on various places on the room's wall which allowed her to see the entire space now. She found it to be quite odd, seeing as how she had been surrounded only by darkness before she fell asleep. But it was the figure that now stood in front of her which truly captured her attention.

There, in front of her stood a man with very pale skin and silky jet black hair smirking at her. Over his shoulders was a loosely draped, thick, white baboon pelt. She also noted that this demon bore a striking resemblance to the demon that had captured her earlier. If she didn't know any better, she would've assumed that they were one and the same. Though, the one clear difference between them was that Tesoha's features were somehow more placid than that of this sinister demon before her. But what really frightened Mizuki were his piercing crimson eyes that stared evilly into hers.

She knew right away that this must have been the one called Naraku. He must have been the one responsible for the ominous presence she felt within this castle. She could sense only coldness and evil pouring from him. There was no trace of warmth whatsoever emanating from this creature. It was almost as though he was one of the undead, but that couldn't be since she could not detect any traces of death from him. He was perhaps a mortal who had never actually died. Yet at the same time, this being wasn't exactly alive either. She wasn't sure what to make of him. There was no other way to explain his existence. He just simply was.

Mizuki felt her mouth go dry as the demon before her smirked even wider. She noticeably tensed but was determined to maintain her fortitude, especially in the face of her adversary. She had to admit though, that doing that was easier said than done.

"So, you must be the little priestess they call Mizuki." Naraku began in a low tone.

"Yes. And I assume you are the reason I'm in this wretched place to begin with." Mizuki replied carefully, yet sternly.

"Indeed, I am. You see, I am called Naraku and I am the master of this castle. I'm quite saddened to hear that you have not been enjoying your stay so far, priestess."

Her eye twitched in annoyance. "Obviously not, now what do you want with me demon? I may be a priestess, but I'm still nothing more than an orphaned girl from a small village. I have nothing of value" she spat.

"Oh but indeed you do Mizuki. Because of your heritage, you possess a certain ability that only two others in this world possess. It certainly is a rare, yet valuable talent. I intend to put your abilities to good use; you can be assured of that." Naraku's sinful gaze glided up and down Mizuki's lithe form, making her become noticeably uncomfortable.

Mizuki quickly adjusted herself again. She could not allow her enemy to spot any weakness. But she couldn't help but become curious as to what he was talking about. As far as she was concerned, she didn't possess any talents that would drive a demon such as him to take her captive. "I don't know of which you speak, demon. In any case, you surely have evil intentions. Whatever is it you're planning to do, I refuse to be a part of it. You may as well kill me now."

Naraku laughed eerily at the priestess' proposal that he end her life instead. "You would really rather perish than to see what I have in store for you, girl?" His eyes were twinkling with amusement now but Mizuki stood firm in her resolve.

"Yes. I refuse to be a part of your evil scheme, whatever that may be."

Another laugh erupted from his throat. Humans could be so foolish sometimes; it would never cease to humour him. "Well Mizuki, I regret to inform you, but you have no say in the matter. You will have no choice but to cooperate. As for your death wish...don't worry, we'll see to that sooner than you think."

Instead of cringing, she chose to shrug off the deep chill that crept over her skin from Naraku's statement. "Still, you never answered my question...Naraku" she started, feeling uneasy using his name, "why is it that you need me? Like I said, I'm only a priestess. I can't imagine what a demon such as you could possibly want with someone like me. And what could you possibly know about my heritage?"

"Let me ask you this. Are you familiar with the old story of the Jewel of Four Souls?"

Mizuki had no idea where he was going with this, but nodded slowly, urging him to continue.

"Well then that must also mean that you are familiar with the great priestess Midoriko, the creator of the Shikon no Tama."

"Yes, now what's your point?"

Naraku smirked at her eagerness to hear what else he had to say. He figured that there would be no harm in telling her his plans, seeing as how she would be sacrificed very soon. "You see, the Sacred jewel has recently been shattered into many scattered fragments and I seek to collect them for myself. The problem is, doing this can prove to be rather difficult on my own. And that is why you are going to help me find them."

"Me? I've never even laid eyes upon the jewel before. I think you must have me confused with someone else. And even if I could help you, like I said, I refuse so you can just forget it!"

"Oh no, I'm absolutely positive I have the right priestess. I do not require your consent to locate the jewel fragments either. The only thing I require is...your eyes."

Her breathe caught in her throat. Did he just say...her eyes? Why would he need her eyes? Mizuki stood in place, paralyzed from shock and the fear of what terrible things this demon must have planned for her. Naraku absolutely enjoyed the waves of fear washing over her body. Just the mere scent of it enticed him just a few steps closer to her.

"Yes, you heard me correctly priestess. I require your eyes...and I'll have them soon. With them I will be able to locate the sacred jewel shards for myself." He spoke lowly as he took a few more steps until he was standing in front of the frightened priestess.

"W-why my eyes?" she stammered out.

Naraku was standing extremely close to her now and bent so that his pale lips were right next to her left ear. Mizuki could feel his icy breath tickling the hair on her neck as he breathed, causing it to bristle. He spoke so lowly that Mizuki barely heard him, despite his close proximity to her ear.

"Because you can see the shards of the Shikon no Tama."

Mizuki's eyes widened in shock and disbelief at what the demon had just told her, and she was instantly freed from her own paralysis. Without a second thought, she jumped back and brought her hand to smack Naraku hard across the cheek. However, she found that he easily caught her by the wrist before she could even touch him. Judging by the look on his face, he wasn't very pleased about her attempt on him.

This was her chance to escape! Channelling what was left of her spiritual energy into the wrist he held onto, she tried to immobilize him just long enough for her to flee. White sparks crackled and sizzled up the length of her arm as she channelled the energy into her wrist, though it fizzled out just as quickly as it came. Naraku didn't even flinch from the short burst of spiritual energy. Mizuki gasped, devastated to see that she had no effect whatsoever on him. Her heart began racing and she knew that surely she had angered him, and that she would pay for it dearly.

"Pathetic. Did you really think I could be harmed by such a weak trick?"

Naraku still held a firm grip on her wrist and as her heart sped up in anticipation, so did her blood flow. He could feel her blood charging through the veins in her wrist, which brought about the same excitement he had felt earlier in his own chambers. Naraku painfully tightened the grip on her wrist and bent her arm backwards, hard, rendering her helpless and on her knees, screaming in pain. Her yelps and screams were like sweet music to his ears and only excited him further. Needing to see her squirm in even more agony before him, he took hold of her other wrist and clenched it tightly. The grotesque sound of ripping cartilage and bone under his claws met Naraku's ears which only pleased him further. The priestess shrieked in agony and tears flowed down her face. It felt as though Naraku was going to shatter her wrist bones...maybe even sever her hand completely.

He straightened her arm and yanked her to her feet. Naraku brought one of her wrists to his lips and inhaled, savouring her natural scent, as well as that of her terror. His tongue lashed out and caressed the underside of her wrist, on top of her luscious veins. The temptation to simply bite into her veins and taste the savoury life blood they were sure to hold was great, but Naraku couldn't inflict any fatal wounds on her just yet. He needed her alive for just a little while longer until the ritual could be performed. Instead he used his fangs to puncture small holes in her flesh, drawing tiny droplets of blood. He quickly lapped them up and sucked at the new wounds drawing more blood.

The taste of her was even better than he had imagined; it was sheer bliss. His demonic bloodlust flared as it demanded to taste more of her. His sexual lust was increasingly mounting as well as he felt the throbbing ache in his groin again that commanded to be satisfied. Naraku never minded giving in to his demonic urge for blood. That particular thirst could be quenched by simply slaughtering a few lesser demons. It was his sexual urges that seemed almost insatiable, and it aggravated him to no end. While he found the pleasures of sex to be incomparable to anything else, he also found that such pleasures were bittersweet in nature because his need was often so ravenous...uncontrollable. There was almost no way for him to suppress his sexual desires. In this way, he was damned. He possessed the need of a human male in his prime which was only amplified a hundred times over by his demonic blood. There was no way for him to compromise with his hybrid, beastly nature. He was an abomination.

Never one to completely give into his primal instincts and abandon reason, Naraku forcefully quelled his lusts and released her wrist which she instantly drew close to her. His face remained emotionless, his demeanour so cool that Mizuki would never know of the inner turmoil that Naraku had just battled.

"Let that be your first and only warning, priestess. Do not cross me again."

Naraku decided that he would leave and deal with the girl sometime later on. For now, he needed to vent his pent up sexual frustrations on his traitorous incarnation, Kagura as he usually did. After all, Kagura could not be trusted; she'd proved that before in the past. So Naraku figured it was a good lesson for her, to remind her time and time again exactly who her master was.

His utter violation and degradation of her body gave him great pleasure but even he had to admit that he grew bored of his sex toy sometimes. Now, he desired something new to play with instead. The priestess in front of him would make an excellent replacement. Her body would not regenerate itself as quickly as Kagura's and he would be able to marvel at the terrible scars and bruises he would tarnish her supple body with as he brutally took her. The mortal bandit sealed within him growled in approval at Naraku's devious thoughts. In time, he would see to it that Onigumo's desire for this woman would be fulfilled. Maybe then, he could find some sort of relief from his severe desires.

Mizuki was beyond thankful to the gods when Naraku finally left, just as mysteriously as he had come. With a sigh of relief, she collapsed to the floor, cradling her injured hand to her. The throbbing pain in it was almost unbearable and she moaned desperately. Perhaps worst of all though, it almost felt as though the vile creature's tongue was still lingering on her flesh. That disgusting sensation still persisted strongly in her thoughts, making her cringe.

She slowly reached back and frowned as she felt a sharp pain in her shoulder where Naraku had bent her arm back. Suddenly the feeling of sheer helplessness washed over her again and she fought back the urge to cry once more. No, she reminded herself. She needed to be strong or she would not make it out of this situation alive. But then again, by the looks of things, it seemed as though there really was no hope of her making it out of this in one peace anyways. Judging by how badly Naraku had injured her wrist, she was pretty sure it would be virtually useless now. But she still had to hope for a way out...just hope and pray.

"So I see you've finally met Naraku." She heard a voice coo from behind her. At that moment, she knew exactly who it was, and she wasn't thrilled about it in the least. She had to admit, she was growing very tired of these demons, and rather quickly too.

"You again" Mizuki growled without even bothering to turn around and address the shadow demon.

"Oh? Could it be that you are not happy to see me again Mizuki?" He spoke with false surprise, a small smile upon his face.

Mizuki spun around to see none other than Tesoha standing before her with a bowl in his clawed hands, though she found that his expression was difficult to read. She held both hands to her chest protectively and cautiously eyed the bowl in his hands, unsure of what his intentions were. "What do you want now?"

Tesoha wordlessly strode towards her in several soundless motions and Mizuki braced for the worst. But she relaxed when she noticed that he had stopped and now stared at her in slight confusion.

"Are you afraid of me?"

Now she definitely didn't expect him to ask her such a question. And what did it matter to him if she was afraid of him or not? Why would he care? "I may be mistaken. Was it not you who attacked my village, kidnapped me and brought me to this dreadful place and threatened to kill me not very long ago?"

"I suppose you are right, but..." He drifted off as his eyes landed onto her badly damaged wrist. It was as though he didn't even realize what he was doing when he came closer and attempted to reach out and touch her bruises. Mizuki pulled back, which brought him out of his daze and he met her warm emerald eyes with his cold ones.

"I see Naraku has not been very kind to you" he spoke with an air of seriousness about him as his eyes drifted back down to her wounded wrist.

Mizuki began to feel really uncomfortable at how close this demon had gotten to her, and by the way he stared at her. It just seemed so strange to look into the eyes of another and not have the slightest clue as to what they were thinking or feeling. He was emotionless. But what was she to expect? He was a demon after all, she reminded herself. They only emotions they could possibly show were hatred and greed. She shouldn't bother searching for anything else. She slowly shifted backwards, unsure exactly what to make of the situation.

Tesoha noticed her discomfort and then decided it was best to divert to the real reason he had come here in the first place. He held out the bowl he had brought with him towards her. She cautiously peered down at it and noticed that it was made out of crude clay of some sort. From it rose steam as well as an aroma that Mizuki could only describe as heavenly. Taking a closer look, she could see small chunks of vegetables and meat floating about in it and came to the conclusion that this demon must have been ordered to bring her something to eat.

"Here, take it and eat."

The young priestess narrowed her eyes in suspicion at him. "Why would I take anything from a demon? I don't need your food, I'm fine!" Though as if on cue, her stomach groaned in protest and her face instantly reddened. She made a small 'eep' noise as she brought her arms around the source of her embarrassment.

Tesoha raised a very delicate eyebrow. "Because you're hungry, that's why. Now here, eat." He held the bowl in front of her and waited patiently for her to take it.

Mizuki figured that she may as well accept his offer. After all, she had no idea when or if she would get another meal again. This brew, whatever it was, didn't smell half bad either. Carefully, she adjusted herself and took the bowl from him. Within seconds of grasping it, she felt the sharp pain return in her damaged wrist due to the sudden weight of the bowl. The bowl began to tumble and she cried out in pain as its hot contents spilled out onto her bruised wrist. Tesoha reached out and caught it just in time before all of the bowl's contents could be wasted on the floor.

He quickly set it down beside him and proceeded to tear away the delicate fabric from the sleeve of his navy blue yukata. He tore one long strip and reached out to take the priestess' hands. But she pulled away instantly and scowled with disgust.

"Don't you touch me!" she spat out.

He pulled back quickly as if he had been bitten and narrowed his eyes in annoyance at her impudence. "Don't be foolish girl. This needs to be cleaned off of you. Do you want to get those wounds infected?" Tesoha was beginning to grow impatient with her now.

Mizuki gasped at his tone and found herself at a loss for words. Tesoha took one of her hands and began the task of cleaning them while she watched in silence. Was she actually being...tended to? All her life Mizuki had been taught to rely on helping herself. If she was strong enough to help herself, then she could focus her efforts on helping others instead. She was taught that she should be the one administering aid to those in need, and generally, never the other way around. It was against her training to accept help in such a simple, petty situation like this. It was a harsh lesson that had begun as early as she could remember, even before her actual spiritual cultivation had begun. As a very young child, her sensei had groomed her to be completely self reliant, strong and always ready to serve. Those, he always said, were the qualities of a good priestess.

Now here she was, being tended to and by a demon nonetheless. Never in her wildest dreams did Mizuki ever think something like this would happen. But why was he so concerned about a small matter such as this? After all, they only needed her to be alive for whatever it was they were scheming. So then, why would something as simple as a broken wrist and a few cuts bother this demon? He threatened to kill her one moment, then the next, he's snapping at her for spilling soup all over herself? None of this was making any sense.

She silently watched as he handled her carefully, cleaning up the last bit of the soup. She still felt the stinging sensation in her wrist from before, but she was more interested in the demon in front of her. What could his motives be? He was illusive, and quite difficult to figure out. After he was finished, Tesoha discarded the used cloth to the ground and stood to his feet. Then he began to undo a fine, knotted rope which was tied at his chest and it was only then that Mizuki realized that he had been carrying something on his back. A small futon was unravelled, which he opened and spread in another corner of the room.

"I know you humans are quite fragile. I figured you would need something comfortable to sleep on. After all, you're an honoured guest. Sleeping on a hard floor wouldn't suit you." He said with a touch of humour now. There was that arrogant side of him again. The side of him that Mizuki found to be highly irritating.

She eyed the simple bedding he had lain out for her. "Fragile? I think you must have me mistaken for another human."

He chuckled at her comment. "My, always the tough girl, aren't we priestess?" Something about this human girl humoured him and he couldn't quite place his finger on it. He found it to be quite amusing to push her buttons, perhaps because of her childish stubbornness. It captured his interest to say the very least.

"In the Den of the Devil, one ought to be" she said pointedly.

Tesoha let out another chuckle. "Yes, you keep that in mind priestess." With that said, he turned to walk away to leave her to what was left of her meal, when he heard her speak.

"Thank you."

"Hm?" He paused and turned around to face her.

Mizuki cleared her throat and repeated her statement, still not quite believing that she would say such a thing to a demon. But he did show her kindness nonetheless "Thank you. For the food and the bedding, I mean."

A smile graced his handsome face. "You're welcome, priestess. Remember, you're our guest. Naraku may not make a very good host, but I, on the other hand, am much more hospitable. I'll see to it that you are as comfortable as possible here." He finished with a dramatic bow.

She really resisted the urge to roll her eyes. "That is, only until Naraku is ready to kill me" she pointed out matter of factly. "Besides, like I said, I don't need your help for anything. I'm just fine. Save yourself the trouble." Mizuki got up from her spot on the ground and made her way to the futon that had been lain out for her.

"So tell me Mizuki, why is it that for a girl your age, your demeanour is so hardened?" he spoke smoothly from behind her. Her breath caught in her throat. She turned to face the shadow demon, unsure of what exactly to say next. It perplexed her as to why this demon seemed to be trying to hold a conversation with her in the first place.

"Just what do you mean by that?"

Tesoha seemed slightly thoughtful for a moment before returning his gaze to the priestess again. "Perhaps now is not the best time to discuss this." He gave her one last, subtle smile before he vanished through the wall of the room.

Mizuki now had no clue what to think. Everything about this situation just seemed so confusing, especially the demon named Tesoha, who was especially baffling. He could be cold as ice, with a voice laced with venom at one moment. Then the next, he could be cocky and arrogant while still maintaining his composed demeanour. She hated to admit it, but she found him to be quite attractive and she would've considered him to be oddly charming, had she not known that this demon could still prove to be a formidable enemy. Still though, he had a way about him that led her to believe that he was somehow…not exactly what he seemed to be. Even so, she would never allow herself to fall into a state of false security in a place such as this.

She had to stay sharp and keep her wits about her. Her very life depended on it.

...

Warm rays of sunlight carefully crept into the small cave where the human girl and wolf demon had spent the previous night. The morning glow serenely lit the face of the sleeping human girl, causing her to rouse from her sleep. Kagome's eyes peeked open and she sat up with a good long stretch and a yawn. The blurred memories of the previous night came flooding back to her and she quickly covered herself with her makeshift blanket, hoping that she hadn't just given Kouga an eyeful of her exposed chest. Kagome looked around, finding that she was alone in the shallow cave.

"Huh? Kouga?" She directed her attention to the boulder at the back of the cave where she had lain out her soaked clothing the night before. Upon closer inspection, she found that her clothes hadn't completely dried but were at least wearable for the time being. Kagome dressed herself in her school attire and packed the rest of her things.

She shielded her eyes as she stepped out of the damp cave and into the warmth of the morning sun. The air was still quite humid and remnants of lasts night's rain left the grass and trees gleaming under the sun's rays. Kagome scanned the area for any sign of her wolf demon friend.

"I wonder where he went off to?" She took a few steps forward and peered in between the many trees ahead to see if she could spot any sign of him.

"Right behind you" She heard a voice speak from behind her. Kagome spun around to see none other than Kouga standing on top of the cave they had rested in. He beamed at her, exposing his fangs. Though it was what he held in his hand which caught Kagome's eyes. Kouga held a stick with two small fish skewered through it.

"Oh, there you are."

"Yeah, I caught us something to eat before we head out. Pickings were pretty slim around here but.."

"Kouga, you really didn't have to go through the trouble. I had some food in my bag I could've cooked for breakfast" Kagome said.

Kouga raised a sceptical eyebrow. "You mean that hot weird stuff we ate last night? No thanks, Kagome. Fish is fine for me."

She rolled her eyes. After all, it was his fault for trying to shovel the whole thing in his mouth all at once. Within minutes, the two had a small fire going and Kouga offered to roast Kagome's fish for her, something which she was grateful for. Though, after it was cooked, Kouga was surprised at how quickly Kagome gobbled up her meal. Not very long after that, she had packed her things and was on her feet, ready to set off again.

Kouga's gaze lingered on the woman he loved before he diverted it back onto the dying flames of their fire. She'd been smiling at him, waiting patiently for him to break camp and take her back to Inuyasha. Gods, he loved that smile of hers so much. It was one of the only things in this world that could make his knees weak and his stomach flip a hundred times over for her. But he had to break it to her. He'd left his pack for too long with hardly a word and he needed to ensure their safety. When it came to demon clans, anything could go wrong in just a few short hours and Kouga needed to make sure that order was upheld in his tribe.

"Ready to go?" Kagome chimed as Kouga stood and kicked loose earth to extinguish the dying flame. Of course she'd be excited to get away from him and into the arms of her mutt, Kouga thought drearily.

"Sure Kagome, hop on" he said as he knelt and allowed Kagome to climb onto his back. "By the way we're gonna take a little detour first."

With that, Kouga sprinted off eastward leaving just a trail of dust in his wake even before Kagome could think to ask any questions. She shielded her eyes from the sudden gusts of wind whipping at her face. "What do you mean a detour? Kouga, where are we going?" Kagome struggled to speak over the roar of the rushing wind, her throat growing dry. There was a moment of silence between the two, as if Kouga had been contemplating the right words to say to her.

"We're headin' back to the den Kagome, just for a few hours. I need to make sure the pack's doing alright."

Back to the wolf demon den he just said? Kagome dreaded the thought of going back there again. She thought back to the last time she was taken to Kouga's den when he kidnapped her. From what she could recall, the wolves didn't seem very thrilled about having a human sitting around in their den, especially one that wasn't for dinner. After having to sit quietly and tolerate their hungry and lustful glares, she decided would rather not go through that again anytime soon.

"But Kouga, what about finding Inuyasha and the others?" Kagome was pretty sure that her voice had been drowned out from the wind and that Kouga hadn't heard her.

The disappointment in her voice stung his pride. She didn't want to come home with him. "I really need to make sure the clan's doing okay. Don't you worry Kagome. It'll just be for a little while and we'll catch up to your friends soon, promise" That wasn't the entire truth but that wasn't a complete lie either. Kouga conveniently neglected to tell Kagome that he was sure that by the time they reached his den and travelled back to this region, her friends would already be long gone, if they'd even been around here in the first place.

Kagome stared at the blurred scenery around them as Kouga pressed on at full speed. She wrestled with the thought of going with Kouga back to his den, but what choice did she have? He seemed deadest on visiting his home and there didn't seem to be much that she could do about it. Kagome decided she'd just have to accept it. Besides, Kouga had been nice enough to rescue her when she needed it and offered to help her find her friends. The least she could do is allow him to take care of whatever he needed to, no matter how much she wouldn't like it. She was positive Kouga wouldn't let anything happen to her in his care, so she really didn't have anything to worry about...did she?

Kouga took note of Kagome's silent resolve and he couldn't be more pleased that she hadn't protested any further. He wasn't sure if he could handle any more rejection from her. He only hoped that everything would go according to his plan.

...

Hakkaku snored loudly on his bed of soft grass but was rudely awakened when a rock collided painfully with his forehead. The wolf demon sat up and growled in frustration, rubbing the reddend spot where his head ached. "Hey! What's the big idea?" He leapt to his feet and spun around wildly in search of the culprit. His gaze rested on his comrade Ginta, who'd been sitting across the river from him. "Ginta, what the hell's your problem?" Hakkaku roared out.

"You have to stay up Hakkaku! What if Kouga comes back and finds you asleep on guard duty? Then we'll both be in trouble you idiot!" Ginta shot back.

Hakkaku shrugged. "Oh come on, Kouga's been gone for days looking for Kagome. We all know how he is when it comes to her; he'll go to the ends of the earth to find her. He won't be back for a good, long while." He plopped back down to the soft grass with a sigh and laid back comfortably. "Besides, nothing ever happens around here anyways. A nice short nap won't hurt."

Hakkaku then felt an even greater pain in his head within seconds of closing his eyes "Arg! Ginta what the fuck is wrong with you?" Hakkaku reared up and prepared to lunge at the wolf demon who'd dared to wake him up a second time.

"Hakkaku, it wasn't me!" the other wolf demon said while pointing towards a nearby cliff. Hakkaku turned to see a very angry alpha male and his woman staring down at them from high above. His face paled at the frightening sight of Kouga who now dangerously bared his fangs.

"K-Kouga!" both demons chimed in unison.

"He won't be back for a good long while, huh?" Ginta mocked, repeating Hakkaku's words. "Well serves you right Hakkaku, you deserved it!"

Ginta groaned when a rock collided with his skull too, and it was now Hakkaku's turn to laugh. "But I didn't even do anything!" he whined.

Kouga simply ignored the complaint. He wrapped an arm around Kagome's waist and leapt down until he landed near the mouth of the cave, shrouded by the waterfall and light mist that curtained it.

The two wolf demons hastily approached, eager to great their leader. "Kouga, you brought Kagome back with you!" Ginta piped up.

"Hey boys" Kagome greeted the two with smiles as they hurried over to meet them. Kouga, who wore a typical cocky smirk, was swelling with pride to finally have Kagome with him at his side, at his home. What was even better was that unlike the last time she was there, this time there were no hostages, no threat from demon birds and definitely no Inuyasha. He preferred the latter most of all.

Somewhere deep within him, he wanted more than anything else for Kagome to experience his world. For her to see that there was more to the wolf demon tribe than just a bunch of ruthless demons. He only wished that their stay would be much longer than just a few hours but he knew that would never happen. He'd promised to help her find her friends and he fully intended to keep that promise. However, he had a good feeling that he would be spending a lot more time with Kagome than she expected.

"So did you finally beat Inuyasha and convinced Kagome to stay with us, Kouga?" Hakkaku asked, his voice laden with hope.

Kouga stole a quick glance at Kagome whose cheeks were already beginning to burn at the mention of her staying with him and before he could answer, she took the opportunity instead.

"Oh don't be silly guys. It's nothing like that" she replied meekly.

"It's a long story. Kagome got separated from dog breath and her friends. You two get ready to head out in an hour" Kouga said sternly, not really wanting to waste any more time with the two morons. He barked out a few more orders and the two scrambled off in different directions to make the necessary preparations for their journey.

...

The wolf demon cave was shrouded in a thick, earthen scent that almost calmed Kagome, despite the fact that she was being watched by least twenty five of Kouga's demons. Kouga had marched on into his den, holding her tightly to him by the waist. He held his head high, and his tail erect like only an alpha male would as he was greeted by some of this men.

Suddenly Kagome felt small among the wolf demon men towering around her discussing affairs of which she knew absolutely nothing about. As if sensing her discomfort, Kouga had excused them both from his badgering men and proceeded to the back of the cave with Kagome. He had set her on the hay bed he once threw her on when he captured her almost a year ago. Kouga promised that he would be back as soon as he could for her. He assured her that she would be one hundred percent safe in his cave and with an apologetic look, he sauntered away with his men to tend to his business.

'This is great. Just great.' Kagome groaned to herself as she scanned around the cave at the many gazes still aimed at her. Whatever confidence she'd had while walking in with Kouga was almost completely gone now because of some of the hostile looks she was receiving from the wolf demons. Digging into her bag to find something to distract herself, Kagome pulled out a few textbooks and decided that she may as well get a head start on her homework. She buried her face deep within the books in an attempt to drown out the looks she was getting from the demons who didn't dare to approach her. Or so she thought.

After only a few minutes of trying to solve her math problems, Kagome heard the soft crunching of the hay she lay on as two feet approached. She peered upwards and was met by two large, emerald eyes gazing directly back at her curiously. The little pup that stood there in front of her was dressed in typical brown pelts with sandy blonde hair that was pulled into a high but short pony tail. The girl, who clearly didn't have an aversion to humans like the adults did, had wanted to get a better look at the strange human girl.

Kagome lowered her book and smiled sweetly at the young child, glad to have some company. "Hi, I'm Kagome. What's your name?"

"I'm Amanei. Umm...what're those?" the little girl asked sheepishly, utterly fascinated with Kagome's textbook and pen.

"Oh, this? Just some homework" Kagome shrugged. At the girl's questioning gaze, Kagome chuckled softly. "Believe me, you don't want to know what homework is."

She didn't say anything but Kagome noted the almost pleading and anxious look in the girl's jade eyes and decided to just show her how the pen worked with the paper. Amanei's face lit up instantly as she drew out shapes and squiggles with Kagome's blue pen.

"Kagome, this homework of yours is so amazing! Look at how clear the lines are! I could do this all day!" Amanei cheered as she tried to draw out various objects around her. Kagome couldn't help but laugh at the irony. Never before did she imagine that she'd ever hear a child say that they actually enjoyed homework, let alone a wolf demon child, even if she didn't quite understand what homework was.

"Here, try these instead, Amanei" Kagome started as she dug through her yellow backpack. She revealed a new pack of coloring crayons that she had intended to give to Shippo. "They're probably a lot more fun than a boring old pen."

Amanei's eyes lit up at the sight of all the bright and vivid colors and she instantly got to work trying them out. The girl's excitement was contagious and Kagome soon found herself laughing as well. All the commotion had certainly sparked the interest of the adults though they still preferred to keep their distance. A few other children however couldn't help but stalk closer, far too curious as to what Amanei could be having so much fun with. Soon, Kagome was surrounded by a hoard of excited wolf demon cubs, all too eager to see what else she had in her bag.

Kagome didn't mind one bit though. In fact, she'd come to quickly love the children and they seemed to adore her as well. She showed them all kinds of knick knacks from her era and they in turn showed Kagome some of their toys and games that they loved to play.

"You should've seen the look on Amanei's face when she saw that huge lizard! It was priceless!" one little boy exclaimed with his arms thrown high into the air. The other children doubled over in laughter at the memory.

Amanei folded her arms and pouted. "Well I wasn't that scared!"

The pups had been telling Kagome all about the pranks and tricks they would all play on each other and Kagome just couldn't help catching onto the excitement as their combined laughter rang throughout the cave. A few of the regular wolves had even ambled over to the group to get in on the fun and games.

Still though, Kagome couldn't help but notice that even though the children had easily warmed up to her, not one of the adults had even bothered to approach her. Most of them didn't even care to keep an eye her anymore. She couldn't help but wonder why the parents of these cubs hadn't come to retrieve their children either. She was sure that they hadn't wanted to get near her, but she was equally surprised that they hadn't called their children away from her. Maybe she would ask Kouga about it later. Though, the subject of the charming wolf prince was brought up a whole lot sooner than she had expected.

"So Kagome, you're going to be Kouga's mate one day aren't you?" a feral looking cub asked, her large grey eyes full of wonder and hope.

Kagome felt her cheeks redden deeply at the mere mention of being Kouga's woman yet again. Normally something like this wouldn't have bothered her so much, but being here in his home, in front of all these children... Well how could she explain to them that Kouga had more or less declared her as his woman, instead of it being a mutual decision?

"Erm..well you see.." But she was cut off by a boy who stood proudly in his leader's defence.

"Well of course she is! Don't you remember when Kouga announced to the whole pack he had chosen a human mate? And she sure is pretty, too!"

"Announced? Wha..what do you mean by that?" Kagome began warily. 'Could he mean the time when we fought the birds of paradise? But no, there were only soldiers around that time. These kids weren't there to hear that.' She was beginning to dread the answer.

"The night after those nasty birds were killed Kouga told the whole pack that you two were to be married" an older girl said with a dreamy sigh. "How romantic..." That earned her a few exaggerated gagging noises from some of the younger children.

Kagome couldn't believe the kind of situation she had just found herself in. So not only had Kouga declared her as his woman in front of his men, he did it again in front of the entire pack! Could that be why none of the adults bothered to approach her? Was it because they knew that she was the human Kouga wanted to marry?

When it came to demons, Kagome knew all too well what their attitude was like towards humans. She'd seen it time and time again when it came to Sesshomaru and Inuyasha and she knew that these wolf demons probably despised her too. But what did she care? As far as she was concerned, she didn't need their acceptance. After all, this wasn't her home and it never will be. She loved Inuyasha and had no desire to pursue a relationship with Kouga. He just wasn't her type...she just wished that he could understand that.

"Well, why don't we talk about that later you guys? I'd really like to learn that game you all were telling me about" She decided it would be better to leave that topic alone. Discussing her love life was the very last thing she wanted to do right now.

The older boy who she learned was called Hachirou jumped at the opportunity to show off his skill in his favourite game. "Sure Kagome, I can show you how to play! I'm the best at this game!" Hachirou looked to be about Souta's age, Kagome thought absently, if not, then a little bit older. He had tousled silver hair and tanned skin, no doubt due to spending lots of time playing in the sun.

"Yeah we can all show you how to play Kagome! We usually play in the fields just below the main cave" another cub piped up.

"Well some fresh air sure wouldn't hurt at all!" Kagome began as she packed her things. The children cheered and began running towards the cave entrance. Amanei and Hachirou stayed behind to assist her in gathering the rest of her belongings and then joined Kagome in catching up with the rest of the cubs, who'd already run off. Amanei held Kagome's hand and Hachirou bragged about his game scores to her as the three happily strolled to the entrance.

"And just what do we have here?"

The three were met by a small group of demons that were blocking the entrance of the den. The demon that intercepted them stood quite taller than the others. He was heavily built with thick furs clinging to his waist and wore the traditional wolf demon armor. Beady black eyes slightly covered by messy brown bangs stared at Kagome with keen interest.

"Would ya look at this boys, I think the little human's lost!" he shouted out to his comrades behind him.

Great, and just when she was beginning to feel lucky by not getting into any confrontations with the demon wolves. She really wished she could avoid any unnecessary violence, but by the looks of it, this guy was just looking for trouble. The large demon approached Kagome and leaned down to get a better look at her. She firmly held her ground and stared daggers back at him. Kagome knew that there was no way she could hope to defend herself against the demon in front of her, especially without her sacred arrows. Just one of his powerful hands could snap her neck easily. But at the same time, she didn't back down. She just couldn't.

"L-look, I don't want any trouble" Kagome croaked out. She mentally slapped herself; she hadn't meant for her voice to come out that way. She didn't want this demon to get the idea that she was afraid of him, which she most certainly was.

He roared out with a thunderous laughter and was joined by the men behind him. He flung the dead boar he'd been carrying on his shoulder to the side and smirked at Kagome.

"Don't want any trouble? Sorry girlie but you just found it. What's a human doing in a place like this, huh?" he slurred. His eyes were locked dangerously onto Kagome's chocolate ones. He then let them roam lustfully up and down her body, taking in every single curve. "Then again, you're a lot prettier than the other ones. I might just decide to have a little fun with you before I devour you alive."

Whoops, whistles and excited cheers erupted from his men. "Hey boss, don't forget about us too!" one demon cried out from the back.

"The hell you will!" Hachirou forced himself in front of Kagome and took on a defensive stance. "You better back off you big jerk or I'm gonna tell Kouga! Then you'll be sorry you ever looked at Kagome that way!" the proud youth bellowed at the top of his lungs.

"That's Taisuke. He's the head hunter of the tribe. He'spretty scary... " Amanei whispered as she clung onto Kagome's hand and cowered behind her.

"Out of my way you little brat!" Taisuke growled as he smacked Hachirou hard across the cheek, sending him sprawling to the ground.

"No, Hachirou!" Kagome called out as she ran towards him. She quickly checked over his body for any wounds, relieved that he had gotten away with just a few scratches. "How could you? He's just a child!" She could feel her anger slowly rising. Demon or not, what kind of a man hurts a child like that? Kagome stood up and approached Taisuke, her fear of him temporarily forgotten and replaced with anger. "Look, whatever you want, this is between me and you, there's no need to harm innocent children!"

By this time a small crowd had formed to observe the unfolding events, yet no one dared to interfere. Next to Kouga, Taisuke was the second strongest in the entire tribe. His brute strength and nasty temper was more than enough of an incentive to keep anyone from getting in his way. No wolf was stupid enough to challenge Taisuke especially for the sake of a mere human girl.

"You got some guts there human, I like that" Taisuke grinned evilly, "but you should be worrying more about yourself little lady..." he growled as he cupped Kagome's face and forced her to look at him. His smirk never faded from his face. "You have no idea what I'm going to do to you for being here..." He sent his lips crashing down onto hers in a forceful kiss.

Kagome wanted to scream but she couldn't, so she squirmed until she broke free of his slobbering mouth. "Get your filthy hands off me!" Kagome shoved his hand away from her and smacked his face as hard as she could. A loud ringing noise resonated throughout the cave as Taisuke slowly reached up to touch the stinging handprint on his cheek. A few gasps and hushed whispers erupted from the surrounding demons. Kagome began to panic. She knew she'd done it. She knew she'd pissed Taisuke off judging by the vicious scowl contorting his scarred face.

"You insolent wench! How dare you!" A clawed hand came flying at her and sent her sprawling to the ground. "I'll kill you, bitch!" Taisuke raised and lengthened his claws above Kagome's head. He prepared to cut her down for humiliating him in front of his men.

"No, Kagome!" Amanei shrieked.

"What the fuck is going on here?!" a thunderous voice boomed from behind. All eyes averted to the cave entrance as a tall figure emerged from the curtain of the waterfall.

Kagome released a breath she hadn't known she was holding. It was Kouga. He came to her rescue yet again.

He always did.

She saw him heading towards them with Ginta and Hakkaku following closely behind. Taisuke's men cleared a path for their enraged alpha as all fell silent. He moved purposefully, not a shred of hesitation in his steps as he approached the wolf foolish enough to threaten his woman. One look at his Kagome lying on the floor and it was enough to have Kouga's blood raging. He was going to rip this demon apart.

She smiled and sighed in relief as Kouga approached but as he got closer, her eyes widened in shock. "K-Kouga?"

He was different; very different from the Kouga she knew too well. His loving ocean blue eyes had narrowed down to mere red slits. His fangs lengthened considerably and his hands were drawn into white knuckled fists. He took on a feral appearance and he no longer seemed like the demon she knew. It was just so foreign for her to see Kouga this way. Panic slowly rose in her chest. For the briefest moment she was...afraid. Afraid of Kouga. The frightening demonic look on his face reminded her so much of...

"Taisuke, you've crossed me for the last time!" Kouga snarled out in a voice that didn't sound like his own.

Taisuke quickly scrambled away from Kagome. "T-this human, she...she's your woman, Kouga?" he began shakily. Taisuke may have been the most fearsome beast hunter in the entire eastern tribe, but there was still one he feared more than anything and that was his alpha. He'd challenged Kouga's authority many times in the past, but had always been beaten down and humiliated for it. Today, he feared he would pay for his foolishness with his own life.

Kouga could feel his blood boiling as his snarls grew louder. "Don't play dumb with me! You knew I had taken a human mate, who the fuck did you think she was!" He flexed his claws, ready to tear this worthless demon limb from limb.

Hachirou hurried to Kagome's side and pulled her away from the fight that was no doubt about to ensue. Amanei unconsciously gripped Kagome's hand as the entire pack now watched the battle that was soon to take place...or perhaps the execution. 'Kouga...'

"I-I'm sorry Kouga, I had no idea!" Taisuke threw himself to the ground at Kouga's feet in submission. Kouga's lips curled up into a menacing growl. He stomped a foot onto Taisuke's head and drove his face into the dirt, smothering it deeper and deeper. He was going to enjoy making this sorry ass excuse for a demon suffer. That's then Taisuke took the opportunity to strike.

An excruciating pain shot up Kouga's thigh as fresh blood splattered to the cave floor. Kouga roared out in pain, frustrated that he had left himself open to such a cheap trick.

"Kouga, no!" Kagome gasped and fell to her knees in distress.

"Damn you to hell!" Kouga seethed.

Taisuke stood with a cocky smirk, proudly holding the dagger he had concealed in his furs. "Kouga, you are such a fool! Allowing yourself to be caught off guard like that! It's very unlike you. It seems this human has made you weak!" Taisuke growled. "It's time that a new leader took charge of this tribe and restores it back to its former glory! A real demon like me. Not a pathetic one like you that shows pity and compassion to worthless humans!" he spat out venomously.

The wolf demon spat in front of Kouga, who was kneeling and holding his wound as the blood oozed between his fingers. "Honestly, now! What self respecting wolf demon would take a creature as lowly as a human to mate? She is worth little more than a good fuck and a good meal!" Taisuke bellowed.

"What did you just say?! I'll kill you bastard!" Kouga roared as he leapt up with blinding speed and slashed Taisuke's throat with his claws.

The burly demon fell backwards, a gurgling lump of flesh, blood and fur. The wound Kouga inflicted was extremely deep, almost deep enough to have beheaded Taisuke completely. Kagome winced at the display of brutality and held little Amanei tightly to her chest, covering the child's eyes from the horror in front of them. Kouga looked down on the pathetic demon in disgust. It was one thing to insult his leadership, but to insult his woman? Kouga would rather die than to allow that to go unpunished! He scowled at the mere thought of Taisuke mentioning Kagome on his foul lips. That thought alone drove him to deliver a swift kick to the demon's side. More blood spewed from his mortal wound followed by gurgling noises. He was almost drowning on his own blood.

Kouga stomped on Taisuke's head, nearly crushing his skull. Then there were a few hard kicks to his back and sides until he heard bones cracking. Kouga wanted to drive his claws straight through the bastard's heart and be done with it, but he decided that a quick death would be too good a punishment for the likes of him. He deserved to suffer slowly. And to be shamed.

"Taisuke! You are exiled from my tribe. Get the hell out of my sight and out of my territory! Don't you dare let me see or even smell you near here again!" Kouga growled, fighting off the urge to finish off the disrespectful demon once and for all. Two men rushed to Taisuke's side and helped his mangled body off the cave floor. He barely managed to limp away, disgraced in front of what used to be his tribe yet again...and for the last time.

Kouga's anger still hadn't dissipated as he glared at the group of on looking wolf demons, his fangs bared dangerously. "Anyone else got something to say to me?!" But no one dared to challenge Kouga and the crowd quickly dispersed.

He finally turned around to look at Kagome and the two cubs and the rest of his anger melted instantly. Little Amanei was clutching tightly onto Kagome's shirt as she hid her face and cried quietly. Hachirou was shocked into silence, his eyes wide as saucers from what had just happened, and then there was Kagome.

She hadn't said a word to him, but instead gazed at him silently, and it was the look in her eyes that stirred him deeply. A strange feeling of what Kouga could only describe as guilt shot through his chest at the sight of her. Kagome looked at him as if she wanted to cry, tears brimming at the corner of her eyes. Still, she said nothing.

But what he did was for all for her. That bastard insulted her so he was obligated to defend her...to protect her. It was just the wolf demon way, he didn't do anything wrong. He kept telling himself that over and over as he locked eyes with her.

'Then why do I feel this way when you look at me like that, Kagome?'

With a gulp, Kouga proceeded towards them. Hachirou carefully pried Amanei away from Kagome and guided her away from the pair. He was young, but wise enough to tell when adults needed privacy. Whispering reassuring words to her, he led her out of the cave. Kouga and Kagome were now completely alone in the wolf den. Time seemed to stand still between the two.

Kagome sat there, unsure of what to do. She had been so frightened to see Kouga that way. It reminded her too much of Inuyasha's inner demon. It was the side of him that her voice couldn't reach. The side of him that she'd always feared she would one day lose him to. Kouga carefully approached and stopped in front of Kagome. Kneeled down and craned his neck to see her when she avoided his gaze.

"Kagome, I need you to look at me."

She bit her lower lip, but didn't reply. Her gaze remained trained on the cave floor.

"Are you alright Kagome? Did he hurt you?" There was a certain tenderness in his voice now and it comforted her a bit. Kagome simply shook her head no.

"Kouga, I thought you...I thought.." she didn't dare finish her sentence, too afraid to even think it. Sure, Kouga wasn't a half demon like Inuyasha but if she remembered correctly, full fledged demons were still quite capable of going on rampages driven by blood lust. 'Kouga's a dear friend. I never want to see him like...Inuyasha was...'

"Shhh...it's okay. Everything's okay now" he cooed as he gingerly helped her up and escorted her to the bed of hay near the rear of the cave. They sat in silence for awhile. Kouga didn't like that she had to see him like that, but she needed to understand that it was necessary. He wanted so much just to comfort her right now.

"You looked so different Kouga. I..I barely recognized you..."

He was taken aback by what she said. "Different? What do ya mean by that Kagome?"

"Kouga, why did you...I mean...you almost killed him" her voice was barely audible. It was her best guess that Kouga was pissed because Taisuke had challenged him for his leadership, but to nearly kill him?

'Was she actually worried about what happened to that scum?'

He searched for the right words to say. He wanted more than anything to make Kagome understand; he didn't want her to hate him. "It was something I just had to do Kagome. He insulted you and that was inexcusable. I had to protect your honour."

"Honour? Kouga you nearly killed a man for honour!?"

Kouga flinched at the anger in her tone. He definitely hadn't expected her to react this way. She was his woman and he was protecting her! Could he really be blamed for that?

"Kouga, honour...it...it just isn't worth the loss of life...don't you see?" tears now flowed freely from her eyes now and her voice cracked.

Kouga narrowed his eyes in frustration. "How can you be like that Kagome? If I hadn't shown up when I did, who knows what Taisuke would've done to you?! I could never forgive myself if I let anything happen to you!" he snapped.

He was about to say something else when he was cut off by a warm feeling surrounding him. Kagome threw her arms around Kouga's neck and cried openly into his left shoulder. Kouga's mouth hung agape before he finally came to his senses and wrapped his arms around the girl. He stroked small, reassuring circles into her back.

"Kagome..."

"Kouga you l-looked so much like...Inuyasha w-when he...whenever he...changed" she stammered out. He tensed at the mention of that half demon, but he listened closely nonetheless. 'My honour isn't worth losing a friend.'

"I thought...that y-you were...that I...was going to lose you to that side...just like I-I...almost lost..."

'Him.'

Kouga didn't need her to finish that sentence to know where it was going. She was afraid that he would lose control of himself like the mutt did. Kouga did admit that he was extremely angry, but he would never lose himself to his demonic rage. Still though, he'd frightened Kagome, and he couldn't imagine what kind of a monster he must've looked to her. Didn't she know that he was better than that? That he had so much more self control than Inuyasha had, regardless of how angry he got?

'So she was worried about me...She was actually...worried about me.'

There was a small stirring in his heart at the thought of Kagome's concern for him and a serene warmth radiated throughout his body. "Don't you worry Kagome, that's never gonna happen. Not to me" he whispered and pulled her in even closer. He rested his chin atop her head and inhaled her scent as he spoke. "I'll never frighten you like that again Kagome, I promise you that."

...

Kouga sat cross legged atop a high mountain plateau and inhaled the crisp mid-afternoon air. A gentle breeze whisked passed him and played with several tendrils of his ebony hair. He gazed upon the woman he loved playing with the cubs of his tribe in the vast grassy field below. A soft smile graced his lips as the eager children showed Kagome how to play their favourite stick ball game. It seemed as though the incident in the cave was nothing more than a mere memory. She was so carefree and happy now.

He peered at the strange white linens she used to wrap the wound on his thigh with. After she composed herself back in the cave, she shot away from his embrace as though he had just burned her, much to his disappointment. She then realized the knife wound on his thigh where Taisuke pieced him earlier hadn't stopped bleeding. She called it a deep, serious wound though he didn't see what the big deal was. Kouga had insisted over and over again that it was nothing but Kagome wouldn't have any of that. She immediately dove into her bag and got her "first aid kit" as she called it, and dressed his wound.

He chuckled at the memory. He was no half demon and thanks to his demon blood, that flesh wound would be healed by nightfall but Kagome probably didn't know that. Kouga didn't mind it one bit though. He liked it when she fussed over him. But for now, he was just content watching her with the cubs.

Two sets of footsteps could be heard behind him but Kouga didn't need to turn around to know who they belonged to. Hakkaku and Ginta approached Kouga on the plateau along with five other regular wolves. He didn't bother to turn around to address the two.

"Uh, Kouga?" Ginta began nervously. "We're ready to leave when you are."

When there was no response, the two looked at each other questioningly before deciding to carefully approach their leader. He was gazing off into the distance while absentmindedly fumbling with a small pebble. Then they realized what held Kouga's attention as they saw Kagome out in the field being tackled by a bunch of excited cubs. They both smiled, seeing the soft, content look in their leader's eyes.

"You know Kouga, a few of the others said that those kids played with Kagome in the den the entire time." Hakkaku said.

"Yeah, they say she was perfect with them. The kids fell in love with her right off the bat" Ginta agreed.

Kouga simply grinned, enjoying the sound of Kagome's light-hearted laughter down below.

"That's my woman."

...

Whooo! I really hope you guys enjoyed this one, things are really starting to pick up! Please remember to review and let me know what you guys thought of this chapter! (: