A/N: I didn't mean for this update to take so long, I just got stuck. I must have re-written half of this chapter a dozen times. Also, thank you guys for the amazing reviews and support. I swear I'm doing my best.
This was not beta. I'm sorry. I barely re-read it... because I work long hours - and night shifts now - and I'm tired.
Chapter 6: Healing & Bonding
Kouga mumbled every curse he knew until he was back at the den. Of course, he refused to go inside. He was not supposed to be back; he did not have the slayer with him. His nose was good but apparently it was not enough. The slayer and the monk's scents were a little hard to track since they were so human. Usually, he would have picked up Inuyasha's scent rapidly though… but he could not find the damn mutt's scent anywhere! It was as if he completely vanished from this world!
How could he face Kagome if he had nothing to bring her joy? He could not stand her tears and her pain! He was supposed to make her happy again! He said he would not even see her without having the slayer with him. He was a failure.
He could have kept searching… he could have tried harder. Though he felt as if he could not be far from her for too long. Miku even instructed him to take her to the waterfall. What if he was away too long and her fever returned? How in the world did he even leave her alone without taking her there first! Kami he was reckless. This was the very reason why Kagome got hurt in the first place. If he had not been reckless before, he would have kept her with him and the damn birds of paradise would have never hurt her. He needed to stop making stupid decisions.
For her, he would have to forget his pride and return without what he promised. Although, nobody knew what he swore to himself which would make the whole situation less embarrassing but he would live with the shame regardless.
Kouga barely had time to walk in that he was surrounded.
"Kouga! Where were ya!"
"We looked for ya! We couldn't find ya anywhere!"
"I was just out," he poorly explained.
"Sis ain't feeling too good."
Fuck. He knew it. He knew he should not have left her side. Stupid, stupid, stupid. "Where is she?"
"In the den. We didn't wanna move her."
"I think Miku is there."
He sped towards the den but was stopped before he could entered.
"I gave ya one thing to do."
Miku stared at him with cold eyes. "Ya were supposed to look after her."
He felt too much shame to even defend himself. Plus, what was the point; Miku would know he was lying. "She was cryin'."
"Of course she was cryin'! But lettin' her get worse is not gonna help her!" She softly slapped him on the head. "She scared. Don't leave her alone."
He nodded. "Where's the cat?"
"Back in the other den." She sighed. "Now take the poor girl to the waterfalls will ya?"
"And try not to open her wounds again. It's not good for her."
Oh no, he would never let that happen again. Despite how much he loved sleeping close to her, he would never do it again. From now, he would sleep on the ground with a little bit of distance between them. That way he would still keep an eye on her but he could not harm her.
"I ain't gonna."
Once Miku finally let him in, he found Kagome asleep in the furs. He could see the sweat dripping from the side of her face and the faint crimson color covering her cheeks. This was all because of him. Of course, it did not seem as bad as last time but he should not have let it get that far. It was his duty to watch over her and he failed. "I'm sorry," he mumbled even though she could not hear him.
He kneeled to her side and brushed away her sticky bangs. At least she looked peaceful. He did not want her to be in anymore pain.
Since she was asleep, and sleep helped her recovery, he decided not to wake her for the moment. He did his best to gently wrap his arms around her body and then, in a swift motion, he picked her up from the ground and waited. He thought she would wake up but instead, she simply let her head drop against his chest. Satisfied, he began heading towards their destination.
For the first time in a long while, he actually kept a slow pace. He made sure to avoid any bumps or distractions. He knew this time she would wake up once they would be in the water but he wanted to let her enjoy her rest as long as possible. The moon was extremely high in the sky by the time they arrived at the waterfalls. He laid her down in the grass with her back pressed against a rock before pondering how to wake her up.
He did not wish to startle her and decided to gently shake her shoulder. Unfortunately, that did not do the trick. He decided to hold both of her shoulders with his hands and then leaned forward to press a kiss on her forehead. When she did not wake up, he lowered his mouth until he was kissing her nose and then, the corner of her mouth.
That woke her up. Although, she did not seem upset. Instead, she slowly opened her eyes. At first, his closeness did not even startle her. She looked right into his eyes, searching for answers.
"We're at the waterfalls, ya running a fever."
She did feel awfully warm. Dazed, she nodded and then leaned forward into him; her head was too heavy for her to hold up. Though her fever did not prevent her from feeling the effects of her little crying session with Kirara. Her eyes hurt from puffiness and redness. She was certain her face looked awful and her heart was still heavy with pain. A part of her wanted to be really mad at anybody but she was too weak and tired.
Kagome felt it as Kouga lifted her up from the ground and carried them towards the water. For a moment, a small panic settled in; he was going to let her keep her clothes, right? She knew in his mind they were…mated and… well she did not want him getting any ideas.
"Are ya hurt?"
"I wan-t k-eep 'em." Her lungs brought her pain with each word she spoke and she decided the less words, the better.
"I ain't gonna undress you."
She was his mate but he was respectful. This was not time to be looking upon her naked flesh. Did she think that little of him? Did she truly believe he would take advantage of her? He tried not to let his disappointment show as he dipped her into the water. She clutched to his body as best she could, the cold probably overwhelming her. He began to worry since he knew moving was bad for her injuries and he attempted to keep her still.
Her brain felt cold. All she wanted to do was claw her way out of the water but she did not even have the energy to do that. She could barely twist her body around. She knew that at that exact moment, Kouga was the only thing keeping her from drowning and for some reason she was terrified he was going to let go. Her body was slowly turning to ice and she felt the coldness spread, leaving her numb. Somehow, she found solace in it. She hated it, she wanted to fight it but he was terribly overwhelming. The water begged her to give herself to it.
She softly closed her eyes and let her body go completely limp.
She trusted Kouga to hold her up… or the water not to swallow her whole.
He calmed down when he realize she stopped fighting. This whole situation made him nervous; Kagome was supposed to get better, not worse. This was his fault. No matter how much it hurt to see her cry, no matter how confused he was about her emotions, he would stay by her side. He would not make the mistake of leaving her again. Instead, he would send some of the others out. Perhaps if they were three or four out there, it would be easier for them to locate the slayer.
They remained in the water a little while longer. He made sure her entire body had time to soak up the iciness of the water and once she felt cold in his hold, he pulled her out. Obviously, the moment they were out of the water, she began to shiver. He cursed out loud and tried to hurry back to the den. It was not as though he could use his speed; it would injure her. Instead, he was forced to carry her while she suffered in his arms. At least, she appeared to be asleep.
Everyone made way for him when they arrived. Ginta followed closely behind. "Miku changed the furs and she brought fresh water and food for Sis! She also said you were gonna have to wait til morning before you change her bandages."
"Do you need us to do anything?" Hakkaku asked, chipping in.
Kouga shook his head. "Ya just gotta make sure everything around here is alright. I ain't gonna leave her alone until she's back on her feet."
That could take a while but it did not matter. As long as his people were safe and had enough to eat they did not really need him for the time being. Of course, they still had jewel shards to collect but it could wait. Plus, it would be way easier to do that once Kagome was healthy again. His woman would make the pack strong and powerful just like he had anticipated. Though, that was not the only reason for her presence here.
"We'll handle everything!" Ginta and Hakkaku said in sync before zooming away.
Kouga reached the den fairly quickly and laid Kagome down in a bed of furs. Then, he did his best to dry her wet exposed skin.
The sound of her voice startled him. He did not even sense her stir in her sleep. "Are ya hungry?"
She shook her head. Although, maybe she was. It was as though she forgot what being hungry felt like. It was probably best not to upset her stomach; she did not think she could handle throwing up.
He frowned but he did not insist. She could respond meaning she could make her own decisions but he would watch over her. It was a good thing he did not need to rest. Deep inside, he feared that the real reason why she said she was not hungry was because she did not want him to kiss her again. Sometimes she seemed to like it and other times she was completely against it. Perhaps he should wait for her to initiate the next kiss? He did not want to rush her. They did have forever - or at least human's version of forever. And she had her quest to complete, though he was not really sure what it was. Too bad he could not ask right now.
That question made him feel bad about not finding the slayer.
"Ya can see her again later if ya want."
She nodded. Seeing Kirara again both broke her heart and made her happy at the same time.
"Are ya still cold?"
"Not r-really," she replied with raspy voice.
Oh why did she not get injured near the well. Why did she get injured while she was by herself? If she could have made it to the well, she would be healed by now. Instead she had to rely on feudal era medicine…and youkais who had very little knowledge about humans…except when it came to eating them. Hopefully she truly was healing and there were no infections…although the fever was not a good sign.
If only she could stop feeling hot and cold at the same time.
Kouga discarded the soak furs far away from her and then returned by her side. The fire was out but he did not want to light it just yet.
He dropped his arm to his side and then, reached for her hand. He intertwined the fingers and closed his eyes. He almost expected her to try and break free but she did not. Instead she laid peacefully by his side.
"Th-thank you," she mumbled.
Kouga was a bit strange and quite pushy but he was very devoted. She might have been very in and out of it but each time she opened her eyes, he was there. He made sure she was comfortable and she had everything she needed. They were strangers… and really not too long ago they all wanted to have her for lunch. It was quite a turn of events. Sure, she could have done without the kisses - oh god her first kisses - but, his kindness was appreciated. Without him and his pack she probably would have died out there.
"You're my woman," he quickly replied. "I ain't gonna let you down."
There it was again. Usually, she would roll her eyes at those words. Tonight, they made her feel safe.
Quietness filled the cave by the time Kagome woke up. Since the area was plunged in darkness it was impossible for her to tell if it was day or night. She did however, feel a lot better than the previous day. Her chest was not as heavy, her head was not pounding and breathing did not bring her as much pain. She managed to lift her head on her own and when she did, she found Kouga staring at her. She offered him a small smile as a sign of greeting.
"Are ya alright?"
Concern was obvious in his eyes as he examined every inch of her body.
She blinked. "Yes," she croaked out. Even her voice was a little better.
He did not seem to believe her.
"Ya've been asleep for two days," he added as he approached his hand to her forehead.
Cold. Her fever was gone. Perhaps the little bath and sleeping actually helped her. Kagome's body was no longer fighting the infection. That was good right? He would have to confirm with Miku… Kouga did no dare to leave her side, especially since he promised he would stay with her and watch over her. He kept his promise this time.
Two days?! How come she felt better? She thought she was supposed to be getting healthier… At least she had some of her strength back. Also, with the way her stomach was growling it was fair to assume she got her appetite back as well. Even raw meat sounded delicious at the moment.
"Hungry?" she tried. She barely used her voice lately and now it was raspy. On the positive side talking was no longer extremely painful.
Food! She wanted food! After they returned from the waterfall, his only concern was to bring her fever down. He did not even think she would be hungry for a while. He sighed in frustration before nodding.
"I'll be right back. Okay?"
He lingered a bit more simply to confirm she would be fine on her own and then he dashed out of the den. The bright sun forced him to squint once he was outside. He ran towards the first wolf he saw and stopped him. "Is there any meat?"
"There are left over in the main den."
Good thing Kagome probably would not eat a lot. He rushed towards the main den and as soon as he got there, Ginta and Hakkaku ran in his direction.
"Does she need somethin?"
Ginta smiled. "We saved some food for her. We even cooked it!" He paused. "Though it must be kinda cold by now… we can throw it back on the fire though!"
They ran towards the edge of the cave and retrieve a little package wrapped in a giant leaf. They took the meat out and put it above the nearby fire. Some of the wolves around winced in disgust as they watch the meat cook even more.
"I don't know why humans gotta cook it. It ruins the flavour."
Kouga shot a glare in direction of the wolf who hurried to quiet down. Kagome would live with them permanently eventually and he did not need anyone judging her or her eating habits.
"There, it should be all warm for Sis," Ginta said as he handed Kouga the meat.
"Thanks," Kouga replied as he wrapped it back up.
And then, he was gone, zooming through the den. Since he arrived so fast by Kagome's side, he provoke a gush of wind that sent her hair flying around. When he realized it he frowned. "Sorry," he quickly apologized as he kneeled beside her.
She dismissed it with a small gesture of her head.
He opened up the leaf and quickly enough, the sweet scent spread around. Kagome inhaled and her stomach growled. Oh yes, she was hungry. She observed as he cut the meat into tiny pieces. At least this time, she should be able to eat by herself. Involuntarily, her cheeks became red. She was certain she was not comfortable enough to have him help her again. She preferred if they kept a little distance between them.
Kouga picked a piece with his fingers and brought it to her lips. She opened her mouth and he placed it inside. She chewed, as best she could, and then took a deep breath before swallowing. The piece was still a bit thick but it managed to make its way through. Kouga fed her a few more chunks of meat before she had to stop him. Her stomach was not used to food and it was too much. If she ate any more, she would probably end up being sick.
He wrapped up the rest and put it aside.
"Do ya want some water?"
She shook her head; even water would be too much for her at the moment.
As he remained beside her, he felt useless. She was awake but there was not much he could do for her. What if she got bored? He did not really want to bring the cat back in here; it would make her sad again and he did not want to smell her tears.
"Do ya need something?"
What could she ask for? She could not move around, she could barely talk. "I'm ok-ay."
Did not have anything for her to read… they mostly hunted and worked with each other for their survival and their grow in power. Though… Kagome was a miko right? Maybe she would like to talk with Miku? She was a healer… it was not exactly the same thing but it was the best he had right now. Plus perhaps Kagome would like to share with another female.
He bent down and gently brushed his lips against her forehead. Kagome blushed furiously and turned her head away. He had to stop doing that.
Kouga barely seemed to notice her reaction as he rose to his feet. "I'll be right back."
He would give them privacy but he would keep an eye on her. It did not take him too long to find Miku and he then led her to the den. He chose to sit outside, that way he would hear but not pry into their conversations. The older wolf walked in, her speed much slower than Kouga's. Kagome was surprised when she saw it was not Kouga coming in but a stranger instead.
"Hello Child," the woman spoke. "I am Miku."
Instead of using her voice, Kagome nodded. She was slightly confused; she could have sworn Kouga said he would be right back. Was something wrong with her? Why was he not back? Why did he send someone else instead?
Miku smiled. "Nothing is wrong with you, girl." It was probably not good for her to have her heart beating so fast. "I simply wanted to check up on you. I am the one who healed you." Kouga did a good part of the work but it was with her antidotes. Plus, it was not really why she was here. Even she did not know the exact reason for her presence. Kouga simply asked her to come speak with Kagome. She figured he was concerned for her and she did not ask any questions.
He might be young, foolish and hot-headed sometimes but he was their leader and he was a good one. He had pure heart.
"Are you feeling better?"
"Kouga told me you ate."
"Progress is progress. We did not know how a human such as yourself would recover." Sometimes it slipped her mind how weak humans were. Though she could affirm one thing; the girl was strong. "I understand why Kouga believes you will be a great mate."
Immediately, Kagome's cheeks turned pink. That word again. She did not know what he had been telling everyone but nobody was going to be anybody's mate. So they were a few kisses and things but she was always so out of it and it was not like she enjoyed it and he sort of forced it on her and she did not even have a choice in the matter! But nooooo! There was not going to be any mating of any kind. She was sure of that.
Miku giggled. The girl's aura, scent and facial expressions were enough to tell a long story.
"He is a good wolf." She tilted her head to the side. "A bit eager and reckless, but he is one of the good one."
Except Kagome already had someone. Sort of. Though he belonged to someone else and was ready to go to hell with that someone else…and it was probably best if she did not think about it for the time being. Though she would not argue with Miku. Kouga was a good person and she owed him her life. She would never forget what he did for her.
"In time, you will see," Miku added before leaning forward. She pressed her hand to Kagome's forehead. "No fever, that is a good sign."
Although, last time her fever die down and it spiked back up. Hopefully she would stay healthy long enough to allow herself to heal. Her tiny human body was tired and Miku could tell. Even the poor girl's aura was weak. The first time Kagome came in to the den it simply exploded and now, you had to focus to even feel it. Hopefully it was only because all of her energy was focused on healing.
"Do you wish for me to bathe you?"
Although Kouga took her in the water a few times, it was not the same. Plus, the girl was not like other humans; she smelled nice. Miku could only assume it was because she enjoyed bathing. She knew it was a bit awkward to ask Kouga hence why she was offering herself.
Kagome shook her head.
She was not really comfortable around anyone here and although the woman seemed quite nice she felt too awkward to be naked around her. Plus, she was certain enough people had seen her naked by now. There was no need to add any names to the list. She preferred to wait until she could do it on her own.
"Thank y-you though."
Miku nodded. "Would you like me to stay or would you like for me to go get Kouga?"
She knew what Kouga had hoped would happen but the girl seemed to weak, to frightened to speak. She could understand; she was all alone, away from home and her friends and she was badly injured. The poor thing wanted to cry, not talk. Miku had no intention of forcing her to do things she did not want to do. When she would be ready, she would share and clearly that time was not now.
Her relationship with Kouga was currently filled with a lot of…tension? Sometimes it felt comfortable to have him around and other times she was just waiting for him to kiss her again. Not that she wanted him too. Because she did not. Still, it almost felt more awkward to have Miku around. After all, Kagome did not know her. She appeared to be nice but - what kind of conversation were they supposed to have?
No, as silly as it sounded, she might just preferred Kouga's company. It made her feel safe - which was a feeling that eluded her lately. Sometimes when she closed her eyes she could still feel the fear that filled her when giant silver claws penetrated her flesh and nearly killed her. She could even feel the pain pulsing through her every time the memory filled her mind.
Miku smiled. "He will be here shortly, child."
She rose up, her smile never faltering. She had a feeling her leader would be very happy about the human girl's decision. He seemed extremely nervous lately and perhaps that would ease some of that stress away.
"Kouga," she called out when he came into view.
"She doesn't want my company. She is askin' for you."
His eyes widened. "Me?" He brought Miku in to give Kagome a break. He figured she was tired of having him around and she probably sought a woman's company. He apparently did not know the first thing about her but damn he would be lying if he said he was not pleased with this new outcome.
"Thanks," he said before rushing back into the den.
He found her as he left her; laying down. "Hey," he said as he reached her side. "I'm back."
She nodded. "Thank y-ou." It was slightly embarrassing that he knew she wanted him there but in her situation it hardly mattered. She simply hoped he was not getting any ideas. This did not mean she wanted him to kiss her and it did not mean she was agreeing to being his mate. She felt the heat rising to her face; she hoped he would not notice her blush.
He did not.
He laid down by her side and watched as she slowly breathed, her eyes closed.
She wanted him beside her.
That was the best feeling in the world.
Everything was pain and sorrow.
Kagome woke herself up by the sound of her own screams. She sat up, despite the fact that she did not have the energy or strength to do it, and began screaming non-stop. She felt arms wrap around her but she kept fighting them. She felt blood spill out of her wounds but she did not stop. She was confused. Where was she?
"Kagome!" he called out. "Calm down!"
He was trying not to be rough with her but she was hurting herself. What else was he supposed to do? He put a bit more strength into it and pushed her all the way down, keeping her still. His arms were still wrapped around her as he covered her body with his. She was trapped between his legs. He did not want to hurt her or put too much pressure but he could smell the blood pouring out. Why could she not remain still? Why was she forcing him to do this.
"Kagome," he whispered, trying to be soothing. "Please," he begged.
Her eyes opened wide and she felt hypnotized by his blue orbs. He was begging her with his eyes. He never looked away, he never let her go. Finally, she stopped fighting him and let her arms drop to her side. Her heart was beating too fast and it was hurting her. She felt warm and wet - probably because of her blood. The dream, it felt so real. It was the damn claws again and the pain. She tried to escape it but it kept following her. She felt all the slashes, all the blood splattering. And then she heard Kouga. It snapped her back into reality.
She could feel his heavy body on her, his hands squeezing her shoulders. His mouth was so close to hers - all of him was close to her. "K-kouga."
"I'm here. You're safe."
He did not move, not yet. He wanted to make sure she was not going to hurt herself again. If she kept opening her wounds like that, she would never heal! He wanted to see her back on her own two feet. At least this time it was not his fault but it did not make him feel any better.
"I'm o-kay," she finally said.
He nodded. Then, he slowly pulled himself off of her. He did not want to make her situation worst. He manoeuvred himself around her body and landed beside her with a thump.
"Is it bad?"
He shook his head. It felt and smelled worst than it actually looked. It was a good news; some of her wounds had closed up a bit. It was better than nothing since it felt like she was making no progress lately. "Ya gonna be okay. I promise."
It would not be wise to change her bandages, not while she was still bleeding. He would wait until it stopped. "Do ya want some water?" She was covered in sweat, because of all the efforts she just did, and her lips were cracked and dried.
She nodded, unable to speak any longer. Her lungs were on fire and she felt like she could not even raise her hand at this point. Where did all that strength even come from? Kouga had to hold her down. It made her glad that she requested his presence by her side. He managed to spare her a few more injuries. God, she felt so stupid. Why did she freak out like that? It was over, the nightmare was over. She was safe here at the den.
"Hey, don't cry," he said in a whisper.
Cry? She was crying? She sniffled and nodded.
She felt him brush his fingers across her cheeks, wiping some of the tears away. When he lowered his hand again, she brushed his fingers with her fingertips. It hurt too much to move but at that moment she felt too scared to be alone. It was silly because he would not leave but the fear was there nonetheless. She was not sure if he understood what she meant to say or he simply thought she wanted to touch him but he intertwined their fingers and laid on his side. Kouga then used his free hand to brush away some of her bangs that stuck to her forehead because of the sweat.
"I ain't gonna leave you and nothin' is gonna hurt you again."
His heart broke at the sight of her tears. His Kagome was not meant to cry and she certainly was not meant to be in pain. He would take it all away in a heartbeat; it was not fair. He gently brushed his thumb across her hand, hoping to soothe away some of her fears. It scared him to see her in such a state. Maybe there was something he could do to make the environment more friendly for her - this was not her home. At least not yet. Perhaps he could find more human stuff. That way she might not get as scared or lost when she would wake up from nightmares.
He wanted to be her home. He wanted her to want to stay.
He thought he would never convince her but her recent actions were proving him otherwise. She asked for him and now, she nearly begged him to stay with a simple gesture. She looked up to him to comfort her and he would no disappoint. As long as his woman needed him he would stay by her side and protect her.
"You're my woman, Kagome. You're safe here."
He leaned forward and she did not even pull away. She even let him press a kiss to her forehead and she did not flinch or try to pull away from his touch. Pleased, he tucked her in the crook of his neck, sharing his warmth with her.
Kagome felt the blush that crept up on her cheeks but she ignored it. This was perhaps the worst idea she ever had and she did not want Kouga to think she was leading him on but…sleeping like this made her feel safe and she needed that if she wanted to fall asleep again. Rest was the only way she was going to get better. Would it really be so bad if she stayed like that and enjoyed the feeling?
She was not doing anything bad, right?
She only wanted to forget about the nightmares.