Fire pulsed through Inuyasha's veins, fueled by Kagome's small gasp. The world fell into place and it was just the two of them in a swirling abyss of emotion that was so vast he felt his heart might burst. He was drowning but he didn't want to come up for air. He would hold her in his arms forever and never let go-

"Inuyasha," Kagome murmured softly into his lips, bringing him out of his reverie. He froze, but couldn't push her away. He could almost hear the thin wail of his heart as it tore in two; he wanted to keep kissing her, damn the consequences. He had thought he'd loved Kikyo, but this… this was a passion beyond anything he'd ever experienced. Still, he would be a fool to ever let a girl in again. To let Kagome destroy him the way Kikyo had.

Sensing Inuyasha's sudden frigidness, Kagome pulled away. The vulnerable, hurt look in her eyes nearly brought him to his knees. "Don't do that to me, Kagome!" Inuyasha demanded, his voice dangerously close to breaking. He stalked angrily around her and punched a tree. He left a mark so deep that his hand came away sticky with sap. Leaves fluttered uselessly to the ground in streams, as if the tree was crying.

Kagome whirled on Inuyasha, her eyes filling with tears. "Don't do what to you, Inuyasha?" she choked out bitterly, "Don't kiss you? Don't love you? Don't open my heart up to you just so you can rip it to shreds? Because you're too stupid to realize you love me back?"

Kagome's tears put Inuyasha over the edge. He had no idea what to do. The smart thing would be to leave and never, ever talk to her again. But he just couldn't stand her being upset, especially since he knew he was the cause of her distress. "Uh," he answered eloquently, "Uh… hm…" He searched around franticly for something to do, something to say. A jagged scent coming from a nearby meadow beckoned him away.

"Hey! Inuyasha! I'm talking to you! Why are you running away?" Kagome called after him, frustrated. Her throat closed up as his back retreated further and further away. "Wait! Stop!- Sit! Sit, you stupid annoying dog-eared jerk! Sit! Sit! SIT!"

It took a minute for the dirt to settle again. From his crater in the ground, Inuyasha held up a shaking hand. Three graceful stems curled out from his palm, topped with fragrant white petals. "Here," he managed to rasp around his bruised ribs, "Take them before my arm collapses."

Kagome picked her way carefully over to his side and wordlessly accepted the flowers. He loves me, he loves me not, she joked to herself. Somehow it wasn't all that funny.

"I'm not stupid," Inuyasha muttered after a while. The air was still.

He eased himself up onto his haunches, looking imploringly at Kagome. "I'm not stupid," he said again, but this time there was a silent question embedded in the statement. Kagome buried her nose in the flowers she was holding and inhaled deeply.

"No," she said wonderingly, "You're not."

And for the rest of the night they were quiet, letting everything unspoken roll between their interlocked fingers.