I do not own InuYasha or any of the characters created by Rumiko Takahashi

Chapter 16

InuYasha pushed the mat door open, and leaped onto the wooden platform of his house, first propping his sword up against the wall and dropping his jacket on the chest. Then and only then did he allow Kagome's feet to touch the ground.

"Woman," he said, resting his forehead on hers.

"InuYasha?" she asked. She ran her fingers through his silver hair, past the flat space on the side of his head where his ears would be if he were human, and felt him shiver at her touch.

His hand covered hers, catching it at the wrist and pulling it away. He moved her hand and pressed it over his own heart. "One day I saw you sitting on the edge of the well, and you told me you would stay by my side as long as I wanted you there. I couldn't tell you then what your words meant to me. I was stupid and confused, messed up about honor and guilt and my feelings, and I couldn't get the words out."

"InuYasha," Kagome said. He put a finger over her lips to quiet her.

"Still can't get the words out most of the time, but I'm not confused. You gave up everything in that world of yours. You're even willing to give up this piss-poor little place." He just looked at her for a moment and exhaled hard. "Feh. I can't even say it."

His hands cupped the back of her head and he leaned forward and kissed her tenderly. "You deserve more than I can give. But I will do whatever I can to give you the best life I can. Whatever it takes."

Her arms wrapped around him, and leaned her cheek on his chest. "And I will do whatever it takes for you, InuYasha."

"You've already done it. Just being here." He gave a soft kiss to the top of her head.

She glanced up. The look in his eyes was intense. It quickened something in her.

"I could do more," she said. Her hand slipped under the white of his collar, brushing up against golden skin. His breath caught, but he stilled her hand with his.

"I had something else in mind," he said, giving her a little smile when she looked back at him, confused. "How about a hot bath?"

"A bath? How?" Her face lit up.

"I just got the idea when we were walking in. Remember? Sango loaned you her big laundry tub. It's not really big enough to soak in, like in a spring, but it'll do. You sit in the tub, and I'll pour water over you. Then you can do the same for me. We'll have to heat a lot of water, though."

"Sounds heavenly," she replied.

"If you let me go," he said, kissing her on the forehead, "I'll go get the water."

It didn't take long to build up the fire to where it was hot enough to boil water. Kagome carefully filled their largest pot with water, and InuYasha put it on the fire to heat.

"Put the lid on it," Kagome directed, as she dug through the chest where she was keeping her things. "It will heat faster that way." Sitting up, she clutched the comb Sango had given to her in her hand. "Do we have any towels?"

"Uh, there's those pieces of cloth Kaede sent," InuYasha said. "Before you came here, I just usually ducked into the stream and shook off."

"I'm not very good at shaking off," she replied, "and that stream is cold! Hot water's going to be so nice." She went to the shelf where she had stored the cloths that Kaede had sent. One piece she had turned into a mop, and wouldn't think to use, but one piece was almost big enough to wrap around her hair. She grabbed that. "Towels. Something else to add to the market list."

"Yeah," he said, filling a second pot, not quite as large. "Worse comes to worst, we could always just sit by the fire and wait to dry off." He waggled his eyebrows at her.

"I'd get cold," she said, laying her clean kosode out near the tub.

"No, you wouldn't." He stood up, walked over to her and wrapped his arms around her, lifting her up. "I'd make sure of that."

"And then I'd just have to take another bath," she said, her smile sultry as she leaned into his arms.

He laughed.

After a bit, Kagome lifted the lid from the big pot to find it was starting to boil. "I think we can get started."

"Who gets to go first?" he asked. Lifting the pot off the hook, he added it to the cool water in a bucket.

She unfastened her wrap skirt, and stepped out of her kosode, and grabbed the piece of cloth she chose to use as a wash cloth. InuYasha's eyes grew large, appreciating his wife in the full sunlight. "Damn, woman, and I thought you looked good in the firelight."

The washing was fun. First Kagome sat in the tub, and let InuYasha pour water over her. She had to draw her knees up close, but the water felt wonderful. As she scrubbed her front with the wet cloth, she glanced up to see InuYasha watching her. As their eyes met, he gave her a silly grin.

"What are you thinking about, InuYasha?" she asked, smiling back as she ran the wash cloth over the top of her shoulder.

"Oh, how you used to be worried about me peeping at you when we were after Naraku." He turned back towards the fire pit, checking the water in the big kettle. Satisfied, he turned back around. "I guess things have changed now."

Kagome laughed. "Did you?" She dipped the cloth back into the water.

"You want another bucket?" he said. "Water's hot enough."

"Well did you?" she asked again. She ran the cloth over her chest, and between her breasts.

"Uh," InuYasha said. He swallowed, watching her, then moved his eyes back to her face. "You really want to know?"

"I'll take that as a yes," she said, not at all upset. "Want to wash my back for me?" She held up the cloth toward him.

He took the cloth. For a moment he just stared at it, letting the water drip on him, as if amazed by what she asked. But then he got behind her and dipped it into the tub. Moving her now soaked hair out of the way, he gently ran the cloth over her shoulders and down her spine.

"I've never done this for anybody before," he said. "Tell me if I'm doing it too hard."

"It feels good." She leaned forward to make it easier for him to reach.

He dipped the cloth back into the warm water and repeated it. "I think that's done," he said, handing her back the cloth and kissing her lightly on the shoulder.

"Thank you," she said. "I think I'm ready to get out." He helped her stand up. "Your turn, now."

After she got up and dried off, slipping on her under kosode, InuYasha stepped out of his clothes and squeezed into the tub. Kagome thought it adorable how he was still body shy around her, and how his cheeks colored as he walked to the tub. But he had nothing to be ashamed of in her opinion, his lean hard body moving gracefully even as he seated himself into the too small bath. She mixed hot water and cool, then took the bucket over to the tub and had him test it for heat.

"Yeah, that'll work," he said, pulling his fingers out of the bucket.

"Good. I know how you are about really hot water," she said, grinning at the memory of how she learned about it. "Get ready."

He lowered his ears in anticipation, but still he sputtered as the warm water flowed over his head and down his body. For some reason Kagome though his reaction to the water funny, and she giggled as he shoved the wet bangs away from his eyes.

"Just go on laughing," he said, with a look that was half a scowl, and half a grin.

She kissed the tip of one of his ears and it flicked at the contact. "I'm sorry."

"No, you're not," he said. "Did the back of my hair get wet all the way?"

She ran her fingers through the soggy silver strands. "Nope."

"You can pour some more, but just down my back this time, all right? I hate when water gets into my face that way."

"I'll remember that," she said.

She made sure that his hair was clean, then, when he was ready, washed his back like he had done hers.

As she was running the cloth over his skin, noting every little mark and mole, he turned his head a little. "So," he said, "what about you? Did you ever peep when I was out of my clothes?"

Dipping the water back into the tub, she chuckled. "Never on purpose. I did get an eyeful once when someone ran back into my room when he was running away from hot water."

He snorted. "Told you I was stupid back then. After your brother tried to cook me, I panicked. Your room was the only safe place I could think of." He grabbed at her arm that was washing the top of his shoulder. "Did you like what you saw?"

"I think I was too panicked myself to really pay much attention that time." She freed her hand and gave him back the washcloth.

"That time," he repeated. "So were there other times?"

She sat down by the fire, and dried her hands. "You didn't say, so I'm not saying."

"I guess I'll take that for a yes, then," he said, smirking, then stood up.

Kagome, laughing, threw him a towel.