Kagome sighed and stared at the dusty trail. They had been walking for hours and she was getting tired. Sango and Miroku were flying on Kirara, taking a break from walking. Inuyasha was running on ahead scouting for a place to camp and she was left with Seshoumaru. The tall inuyoukai hardly spared her a glance and just increased his footsteps, leaving her stumbling behind.

Tears burned Kagome's eyes. She wasn't feeling so good and her lower body was aching with pain. She wiped the tears roughly. There was absolutely no use in crying. She fumbled in her pocket for an energy bar, and tore into it.

It didn't help. Her body was exhausted and she knew it. Inuyasha's voice washed over her like a warm rush. He had found a place to camp. Blindly, she followed the white inuyoukai in front of her.

This wasn't good. Her vision was blurring. However, she still struggled to walk, one step at a time. Her head started tingling and a hoarse laugh escaped her lips. Why was the ground moving? Where was she? Her thoughts were making no sense, and her body started to fall. She wasn't aware of the flash of white, or the worried cries of her friends as she slipped into peaceful black oblivion.

So tired…

When Kagome came to, her head swam with the worried faces of her friends.

Sango's gentle but panicked gaze calmed slightly as her friend finally opened her eyes. As Kagome struggled to sit up, disorientated, Sango, helped her, and hugged for a minute, whispering, "Please don't scare us like that, Kagome."

Kagome's gaze moved from Miroku's frowning face to Inuyasha's pale one to Seshoumaru's blank look. "What happened?"

Inuyasha moved into her vision, "Damn it Kagome! You should have told us you were tired."

Kagome's gaze was blank and then she remembered, "Oh yeah. Did I faint?"

"You collapsed and Seshoumaru-sama caught you. Is something wrong with you, Kagome-sama? You have been looking very ill as of late." Miroku's stance was concerned and his gentle violet eyes were taut with worry.

Kagome smiled weakly, "I'm fine, Miroku. I need to rest for a while, that's all."

Inuyasha frowned, "Oye, wench. Maybe you should go home for a week. You have been smelling strange for a few days."

Before Kagome could say anything, Seshoumaru spoke, "No."

Everybody stared at him in confusion, and Inuyasha started to get angry, "She nearly collapsed today, you bastard. She's going home for a week to rest!"

Seshoumaru stood up, and his cold gaze moved over everyone, finally resting on Kagome, "The miko is the only one who can detect these shards. She shall not be going anywhere, till I have killedNaraku. She's weak, which is why she lost consciousness. The slayer and the monk are both strong in their own way but this human is useless. The only useful act she is capable of is finding the shards of the jewel. She will not go back till this quest is over."

With that he turned on his heel and left. Kagome's ears were deaf to the outraged cries of her friend's and her eyes were glued blindly to the spot where Seshoumaru had stood and delivered those harsh words. She was unaware that her body was trembling wildly, that her breath was coming short gasps, as her mind and heart overflowed with pain. She didn't feel the hot tears racing down her cheeks. Her body felt numb.

Inuyasha was saying something but she couldn't hear him. She heard a vague sound of her name, but it didn't register. Her body was growing heavier and heavier.


Always useless…

She lay down carefully in her open bedroll, and closed her eyes. She couldn't understand this pain. Why? As soon as her eyes closed, sleep claimed her, and she slipped into the gentle dark abyss.

Inuyasha stared at the sleeping miko. Her eyes were closed, her aura was calm, but it was as if she was in another world. His half-brother's words had shocked all of them, but the impact they had on Kagome had been horrifying. The young girl had been shaken to the core. It was as if someone had shattered her world. She had been shaking violently and tears kept falling down her cheeks. But it was her eyes that haunted Inuyasha. From shock to pain, they had gone blank, as if she couldn't see or understand anything. They had called her name, tried to make her respond to them, but she had simply lain back down, and closed her eyes.

"I'm going to kill that bastard! How dare he say that to Kagome!" Sango's voice was dripping with fury and rage.

Miroku himself was trembling with anger at the treatment of his young friend. While Kagome may not have been the most skilled of priestesses, she was the care taker of the group. She was the heart of this jumbled family, and she was what kept them together. Without her, they would have long separated.

Miroku turned blazing eyes towards his hanyou friend, "You had better have a talk with Seshoumaru, Inuyasha." Deliberately leaving out the honorific, "Something has obviously been troubling Kagome-sama for the past few weeks, and she has been pushing herself beyond her limits. We will not have her treated in this manner."

Inuyasha himself was pissed. However, instead of going to search for Seshoumaru, he decided to wait and have a word with his half brother when he returned. The others hadn't seen his eyes when he had spoken those cruel words but Inuyasha had. And he was going to find out what his brother's real reasons were to join his pack.

The next morning, when everybody woke up, the smell of breakfast was appetizing and fresh, but there was no Kagome. Before they could panic, Sango found a note tagged on the tree.

"She's gone for a walk."

They stared at each other. Seshoumaru was silent as he slipped away from the group into the woods. Masking his scent, he found Kagome sitting next to the stream, eating breakfast. But while what she had prepared for the others had a delicious smell wafting from them, what she was eating was cold and hard, and it didn't seem like it had any taste at all. She was deliberately chewing and swallowing, mechanically. Her expression was blank as she stared across the stream.

Seshoumaru left as quietly as he had arrived, not letting the mikoknow of his presence.