I'm re-reading Opacity over the weekend and mapping out the rest of the story—or at least the next chapter or two. While I do so, I decided to release another "Special" (i.e. short) chapter to tide everyone over while I get my ducks in a row.

And as a bribe, have some fluff. Horror will return next update.

Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha.


Opacity

Special: The Morning After
In which Kagome and Inuyasha get some alone time… and Sesshoumaru reveals something important.


For the first time in a long time, Inuyasha woke long after the sun was up. Early spring light filtered through the curtains, brushing against his eyelids. Several minutes passed as he lay there, absorbing the quiet and the calm, the feeling that—although it may be close—there was no immediate danger.

Granted, a lot of the good will toward mankind he was feeling at that very moment had to do with the woman sleeping next to him.

Slowly, as if any sudden movement would startle her (a ridiculous worry, considering she was still dead asleep), he shifted to face Kagome. She wasn't exactly the prettiest sleeper (her eyelashes were clumped together by mascara, her long hair—inky black against the white hotel sheets—was tangled, and she curled into herself protectively), but she was calm and sweet and quiet. Best of all, she looked happy.

His hand was halfway to her cheek when his new, Sesshoumaru-funded cell phone rang. Loudly.

With a muttered curse, he slipped out of bed and quickly shut himself in the bathroom, bringing the phone to his mouth.

"What?" he snapped, although his voice was not as gruff as he wanted it to be. He blamed his unexpectedly good mood.

"It's a group."

"What's a group?" he asked, his voice hushed. The hunter leaned his ear against the bathroom door, listening for sounds of life. As horrible as it sounded, he was enjoying the quiet morning, knowing Kagome was close by but not awake enough to start her incessant chatter. (He knew it was coming. There was no way she was going to let this milestone in their relationship pass in happy silence—she'd want to talk about it.)

"The occult morons who saw fit to raise Naraku from hell and helped him free Father's enemy," Sesshoumaru explained, sounding exasperated and bored all at the same time. It was a gift.

Inuyasha absorbed this, opening and shutting his mouth several times while he scrambled to map out the next step. "A group, huh? How many?"

This time, his brother definitely sounded exasperated. For the first time in a long time, his annoyance had nothing to do with Inuyasha. "If I had to make a guess," he said, a steely undertone to his voice, "I would have to call this group a cult. There are dozens, if not over a hundred, practitioners."

"Human?"

"Yes, thankfully."

Inuyasha hated to ask, especially since it revealed his cluelessness, but he forced the question out anyway. "What do we do about them?"

"Kill them."

"Kill them," Inuyasha repeated, his voice deadpan. "All of them? Your solution is to massacre hundreds of people? Really?"

Sesshoumaru huffed in exasperation, his impatience barely concealing a snarl at Inuyasha questioning his orders. "It was due to their own weak will and limited brain cells that they chose to align themselves with the pinnacle of evil, Inuyasha. Really, we would be doing the world a favor."

The half-demon brought his clawed fingers to the bridge of his nose and massaged away the headache already brewing. Only moments before, he reminded himself, he had been in such a wonderful mood. Think about Kagome. Think about her peaceful face nestled against the pillow; her long, slim legs curled under the sheets; her warm, bare skin… Calm flooded him but was quickly replaced by a gnawing hunger and heat. He quickly backtracked, thinking of other, much more mundane things.

It didn't help.

"Let's pretend for just a moment that I'd agree to the slaughter of hundreds of humans," Inuyasha began, glad to hear his voice sounded somewhat neutral, despite the sudden influx of emotion. In the next room, he could hear the soft noises that announced Kagome was waking up. "We don't have the time or the people or the resources to do it. We need another plan."

There was a beat of silence. "We must publically deface Naraku. Both figuratively and literally."

"Public? Like, on television? And alert the world to the presence of demons?"

But Sesshoumaru seemed to be warming to the idea—well, as warm as the man was capable of. "I need to speak with Kagura, but I believe I may have found a solution."

"Just to clarify," Inuyasha hastily said, only half distracted by the satisfied sigh he could hear Kagome make on the other side of the doorway. "This solution does not involve us killing people."

"Not quite. It involves us killing just one in particular."

Naraku.

"Keep me updated," the hunter said quickly before snapping the phone shut.

The conversation ended just in time for him to hear Kagome call out, "Inuyasha?"

He tossed the phone next to the sink and exited. He stopped in his tracks barely out of the doorway, forcing himself to swallow hard. Kagome was sitting up in the middle of the bed, the sheets gathered around herself and her eyes heavily-lidded—looking well-rested and (his heart thudded in his chest) happy.

"Hi," she said and grinned.

"Hi," he answered hoarsely, closing the space between them. He pressed a chaste kiss to her mouth, worried that if he did anything more, he wouldn't be able to stop himself. "Good morning. I'll order us coffee and breakfast." His hand was halfway to the hotel phone when he felt Kagome's fingers tangle themselves in his hair and pull him back around to face her.

Her mouth was on his—hungry, demanding, and oh-so-sweet, nibbling on his bottom lip in a way that only fed the growing warmth in the pit at his core. Finally, she pulled back, breathless. They both were. "I love you," she whispered.

It only took a beat, which Inuyasha proudly thought showed how much he had grown in the past several months, for him to answer, "I love you."

"So," she said, leaning back against the pillows. The pinkness in her cheeks could have been embarrassment or desire, but probably both. "You said something about coffee?"

It arrived within minutes. Hot and steaming and so welcome that Inuyasha actually tipped the bellhop who had delivered it. He poured it into two porcelain mugs and handed both over to Kagome before very carefully crawling back into bed. Leaning back against the pillows, he purposely pressed his shoulder against hers as he took back one of the cups.

They drank in silence, managing to not make it awkward, although they both knew it could quickly veer in that direction.

"I—" Inuyasha started before snapping his mouth shut. He could feel Kagome's eyes on his jaw, but he kept firmly faced away. "Any regrets? You know, about last night?"

"None," she answered immediately. "In fact," she continued, and only his enhanced hearing alerted to him to just how much her heart was racing, "I was kind of wondering if we could—"

"I thought you'd never ask," Inuyasha said, grabbing both of their coffee cups and pitching them over the side of the bed. In that moment, he really didn't give a damn about making a mess—or about crazy Naraku-obsessed cults, for that matter. In that moment, all he cared about was the laughing squeal Kagome let out as he tackled her into the sheets, his hands on her hips and his mouth on her collarbone.

Everything else could wait.