Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha or any of the publicly known characters, plot, etc. I'm just renting them from Rumiko Takahashi, Viz, etc. I do own the plot of this story and any original characters I've created. I will make no money from this fic; I write for my own enjoyment and the enjoyment of my readers.
Kouga's Greatest Fear
"Damn! Why does he always have to go so fast?" Ginta panted. Hakkaku rolled his eyes; he had heard a variation on this complaint a thousand times, half of them from his own lips. The answer, he was sure, was simply because he could. Stupid Shikon no Tama…
One thing was for sure: both he and Ginta were a lot stronger than they used to be. Even youkai would naturally experience muscle growth with strenuous exercise. That of course had the effect of allowing Kouga to run even faster. It was a vicious cycle, and both of them were tired of it by now. But they were loyal to the pack; they would bear it for the sake of their comrades back home, to return their leader safely.
Abruptly the cyclone that was Kouga stopped, seeming to waver in place. Then it zoomed back the way it had come, forcing Ginta and Hakkaku to leap aside to avoid being run over.
"Ah! What the hell is he doing?" Ginta shrieked.
"I dunno, but we'd better keep up."
They had barely resumed running, however, when an auburn blur shot past them, catching up to Kouga in a matter of moments. And instantly they knew why their leader had reversed course. For Kouga feared this youkai above all others. They shared a nervous look; this could be very interesting.
In the distance, the newcomer darted in front of the whirlwind, forcing it to stop. Now an enormous wolf prowled around the miniature tornado, its head at a man's shoulder height. Even with its teeth bared in what they assumed was an annoyed snarl, it was strikingly beautiful. Its reddish-brown fur was flawless, contouring the graceful body perfectly. Even in this form, any casual observer would be able to tell that this was not your average wolf-youkai.
Yet Kouga refused to meet the handsome canine; he had evidently given up the chase, but his tornado still spun defiantly. With a frustrated bark, the wolf swiped its paw through the very base of the whirlwind. Instantly the swirling winds dissolved as an outraged Kouga flailed uncontrollably in mid-air, cursing vehemently as he landed on his back with a muffled thud, sending up a cloud of dust. Ginta and Hakkaku gaped in amazement as they approached the scene.
"I didn't know you could do that!"
"Yeah, we'll have to remember that one."
As they watched, the great wolf shifted form, morphing into a tall, striking woman. She was not young, but nor was she old. Her long, unrestrained hair was the same stunning shade of auburn as her fur. She was a wolf-youkai, but did not dress in furs like the rest of her kind. Instead she wore a silken robe of sapphire blue which shimmered in the sunlight. It draped loosely over her shoulders and bared her arms. Yet, the gusting wind seemed to have no effect on the garment; it maintained its graceful shape regardless. The ensemble was perhaps unsuited for her; she was still attractive, but no longer blessed with the inconceivable beauty she had surely possessed in her younger days. Still, neither Ginta nor Hakkaku had any doubt that this demonness continued to turn many heads. They knew from experience, however, that the enchantment would end as soon as she spoke.
"Oh, woe is me!" the woman cried dramatically in a very bad imitation of a tragic heroine. "Forsaken by my own flesh and blood. My only son flees from me as if I am death itself. Oh, woe is me!" And she buried her face in her hands, weeping.
Kouga heaved a long-suffering sigh. "Knock it off, mother. I just visited you a couple seasons ago," he said as though the act had been a tortuous chore. "I don't have time to sit and chat—"
"Don't have time for your lonely, old mother? Oh, woe is me! Unloved even by my own son! Woe is—"
"Alright, alright!" Kouga shouted exasperatedly. "I guess I have a little time."
"Excellent!" his mother exclaimed, all traces of sadness or crocodile tears having mysteriously vanished. "Oh, there's so much to tell. I've been to so many places since you last visited. First there was…"
At this point, all three males stopped listening. Kouga's mother babbled on about her mundane comings and goings, either not noticing or not caring that her audience was in la-la-land. Only the words "met someone" brought Kouga back from his daydream.
"What? You met someone?" he demanded with the mortified air of parent who really does not want to know what their troublemaking child has been up to.
"Yeah, but he wasn't my type," she replied offhandedly.
"What happened to that bear youkai?" he asked disdainfully.
"Oh, him? I ditched that old fart ages ago. He said I was 'wearing him out.' Can you believe that? Just because I like to travel!"
"How very unfortunate," Kouga replied, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
His mother frowned dangerously and put her hands on her hips. "Don't take that tone with me, mister! I know you don't want to think about it, but I am a sexual creature. I need satisfaction once in awhile!"
The look on Kouga's face was absolutely priceless—completely aghast, halfway between sticking his head in the sand and vomiting. Ginta and Hakkaku could not hold back their snickering. Unfortunately, that drew the imposing demonness's attention to them for the first time.
"Ah, Ginta and Hakkaku, didn't see you there. How are you boys?"
"I've told you to call me Shizuka!" she snapped, glaring at them sternly. "I hate 'ma'am.'"
"And I've told them not to address you so familiarly!" Kouga declared.
His mother rolled her eyes, waving at him dismissively. "Oh, you're such an old fuddy-duddy sometimes. Learn to live a little!"
"I don't have time for frivolous excursions. I'm on an important quest—"
"Snore. You should at least spend some time working out. Look at these two," she said motioning to Ginta and Hakkaku. "You boys got some muscles since the last time I saw you! You'd be beating the women off with sticks if it wasn't for your hair."
For Ginta and Hakkaku, having their self-esteem so fleetingly buoyed only made the subsequent plunge more painful. "What's wrong with our hair?" they both asked, even though they knew it was a mistake.
"You're kidding, right? All bald except for a little sliver in the middle? From the front you look like a melon with a reed sticking out of it. And you, what's with that little poof of black right in the front? And all the gray! You are aware that gray is an old man color, right?"
Now it was Kouga's turn to laugh as his companions slumped under the weight of his mother's criticism. Not so funny now, huh? He tossed his head back, making a show of running his hand over his luxurious black ponytail. But he should have known that his reprieve would be short-lived.
"Don't look so smug over there, sonny-boy," his mother said, rounding on him. "At least these two have some muscle. You look like you've never worked out a day in your life."
Ginta and Hakkaku studied Kouga's arms and legs, then glanced at their own. They could see no appreciable difference, but they weren't about to tell his mother that.
"Those jewel shards have made you soft," she continued. "Real strength is always better than bo—"
"Than borrowed strength," he finished with a flurry of irritation. "I know; you've only said it a thousand times. It's a load of crap. These are my jewel shards. They're part of my body. It's my strength!"
His mother scoffed. "They're outside objects that make you more powerful, the same as that sword on your hip. Well, actually there's a difference. At least the jewel shards are useful."
Kouga grumbled under his breath; they had certainly been down this road before. All innuendo aside, his mother had always had a thing for swords, the bigger the better. Now she would probably lecture him about how he didn't become a proficient swordsman like his father…
But instead she continued along her previous line of thought. "You look skinny, all three of you. You haven't been eating enough humans, have you?"
"We don't eat humans anymore, mother," Kouga proclaimed. His mother seemed temporarily taken aback by the firmness of his tone, but recovered quickly.
"Why not? It's the most nutritious thing you can get, you know. And you used to love my bandit stew. Remember the song I used to sing when you were little?" And with that, she proceeded to sing:
They pillage and burn,
But now they're food for you.
"Enough!" Kouga shrieked, completely red in the face. Ginta and Hakkaku were literally rolling around on the ground laughing, holding their aching sides.
"So why don't you eat humans anymore?" his mother asked, ignoring his embarrassment.
Kouga hesitated. "I just…lost my taste for it, is all."
"Okay, so if that's the reason why can't the other members of your pack eat them?"
"B-because I said so, dammit!"
His mother rolled her eyes, then turned to his companions. "Boys, what's the real reason he won't let you eat humans anymore?"
Ginta and Hakkaku gazed up at their leader, taking in the wide-eyed, panicked expression on his face and the frantic shaking of his head. They looked at each other and grinned, a single thought passing between them.
"It's because he's courting a human," Ginta replied matter-of-factly.
"He's WHAT?" the demonness screeched, losing her composure for the first time. Now she advanced on Kouga, her formidable aura crackling around her. "I will not have my pure-blood son consorting with a filthy human!"
"And I will not have my indiscriminate mother telling me who I can and can't court!" Kouga retorted, standing up to his full height. Now they fought nose-to-nose.
"How dare you? I should tan your hide!"
"I'm not a child, mother! You can't boss me around anymore!"
The demonness drew back, regarding her son stonily, as if seeing him in a new light. "Fine," she said quietly. "Then take me to see this human you're so captivated by."
At once, all the defiance and resolve seemed to desert Kouga; when he spoke, it almost sounded like begging. "Mother, please no…"
"You take me to meet her or I'll find her on my own. And trust me, you won't like the second option!"
Kouga hung his head in defeat. "Alright. I think I know where she is."
Without another word, he launched into his tornado form and sped off, followed by his incredibly fast mother. Ginta and Hakkaku glanced at each other in amazement.
"We have got to see this!" they exclaimed, sprinting to catch up.
"So let me get this straight," Shizuka spoke to Ginta and Hakkaku while her son sniffed around for a scent trail. "He's not officially courting her, and he lets this Kagome girl travel around with a monk who can't keep his hands to himself, and a hanyou who's much too close to her than he should be. Does that about sum it up?"
At their nods, she slumped over and put her head in her hands. "I'm a failure as a parent. I raised an idiot for a son."
"I found it!" Kouga snapped, standing and speeding off again without a glance back. And the chase was on again. Fortunately—or unfortunately, depending on your point of view—Kouga had seen Kagome not two days prior, and the Inu-gang's collective scent was still fresh enough to track. After several more stops, the two groups finally met.
"Hello again, Kouga-kun," Kagome greeted, surprised that he did not zoom right up to her and grab her hands as he normally did. Instead he hung back, glowering at the ground and not making eye contact with anyone. It was then that Kagome noticed the great wolf by his side, which quickly shifted into a positively radiant demonness. Her hostility became immediately apparent, though Kagome sensed no murderous intent. Still, it was abundantly clear that this youkai was not their friend.
"So this is the human wench who's stolen my son's heart," the demonness spat, throwing her hand carelessly in Kagome's direction as the tilted her head towards her son. "What does it for you, Kouga, the fact that she's barely a woman or that ridiculously short kimono?"
Kouga and several other individuals opened their mouths to protest, but Kagome beat them all to the punch.
"Excuse me? Who the hell do you think you are?" she demanded, temper already aroused to full inferno level by having her maturity and chastity called into question, especially by a stranger who was inappropriately dressed herself. Her miko energy flared slightly from the emotional spike.
Shizuka's eyes widened slightly. "Oh, ho! There might be more to this girl than I originally thought," she said, now striding toward Kagome with a curious expression. But the demonness never got a chance to make a closer inspection; the red-clad body which interposed itself between them saw to that.
"Move aside, hanyou," Shizuka demanded coldly.
Inuyasha didn't even blink. "Look, ya old bat. I don't know who the hell you are, but stay away from Kagome."
"Old bat…" Shizuka repeated quietly, as if unable to process the words.
Inuyasha smirked. "Heh, what's the matter? Never been called an old lady before?"
"Don't talk to my mother like that, Inu-kurro!" Kouga bellowed.
"Oh be quiet, my dearest," his mother said, emerging from her momentary stupor. "Mommy's perfectly capable of taking care of herself."
Inuyasha would have snickered at this, that is if the strange demonness's aura had not suddenly grown ten times more powerful. His hand drifted toward Tetsusaiga's hilt, ready for a fight if it came to that. But it seemed that the she-wolf was content to trade verbal barbs for now.
"The reason for my hesitation was my surprise that an abomination like you knew how to speak fluently."
Inuyasha's expression hardened, his aura rising as well. "Yeah, well I can do a lot more than talk if you don't back the fuck off."
"Oh, how very manly of you, threatening an 'old lady.'"
"Keh. You would know manly. Under that robe you're probably as hairy as Kouga."
"Oi, Inu-kurro! Don't—"
"Shut up!" both Inuyasha and Shizuka shouted together. Then they glared at each other, each silently blaming the other for the simultaneous exclamation.
"Under this robe," Shizuka snarled, "is a body that's far too good for a cretin like you."
"Not interested anyway."
She barked out a laugh. "Really? I would think that any woman would be good enough, seeing as how I seriously doubt you've ever found one willing to lie with you."
Inuyasha sputtered; that last retort had undoubtedly hit a sore spot. He growled, and since he couldn't come up with a clever comeback, simply resorted to straight-up insults.
"Fucking ugly wench!"
"Dried up old whore!"
There was a moment of silence in which neither combatant moved. Then something completely unexpected happened; the wolf demonness backed up a step, tilted her head to the sky, and began cackling gleefully. The rest of the gathering could only stare at her in shock until she regained control of her mirth.
"Oh, nobody's spoken to me like that in ages," she declared, wiping a cheerful tear from the corner of her eye. "That was so much fun! You've got quite a mouth, han—what was your name?"
Inuyasha's mouth moved silently but could not form words, so shocked was he at this turn of events. A woman—a full-youkai at that—who he had just called a 'dried up old whore' was asking for his name?
"You do have a name, don't you?" she inquired teasingly.
"Well, Inuyasha, you've got quite a pair of balls on you, I must say. Most guys would've run away with their tails between their legs as soon as I released my aura. And not half bad to look at either. For a hanyou, of course."
Inuyasha felt the telltale warming of his face at the compliments, especially because he sensed that the last sentence had been merely an afterthought.
"Call me Shizuka."
"Mother! Don't get so familiar with him!"
"Oh, would you pull the stick out of your ass already, Kouga? It's just a name!"
Inuyasha chuckled, earning a brilliant smile from the demonness. "So, Inuyasha, tell me how you and my uptight son came to meet."
Kouga choked in alarm, and Inuyasha shot him a wicked smirk. "Well, his wolves tried to eat us," he related pleasantly. "And then he showed up and got all pissed because I'd killed some of them. Then I pulled out my sword and he ran away, with his tail between his legs, as you might say."
"It wasn't like that!" Kouga blustered, storming toward the hanyou. "It was a tactical withdrawal! I smelled something fun—wah!" he yelled as he was unceremonious shoved aside by his suddenly amorous mother.
"Well then you must show me your sword!" she pleaded, sauntering over to Inuyasha's side and clinging adoringly to his sleeve. "I just have to see what sent my cowardly son running." She ran her fingers up and down the hilt, batting her eyelashes at him. Perhaps Inuyasha should have been embarrassed by her behavior, but his rapidly bloating male ego left little room for rational thought. Grinning proudly like the geeky owner of an original on-set Star Wars lightsaber, he pulled the mighty sword from its sheath.
"Ooooh," Shizuka cooed, "no wonder Kouga ran away! This is magnificent." Her hands caressed the blade, massaging the shaft as she leaned in close to study the flawless surface. "I've always appreciated the look of a man with a big sword," she confessed in a sultry tone. The 'inspection' continued for several moments, during which Inuyasha smug grin never wavered. It was clear he was greatly enjoying the attention.
Finally, Shizuka drew back from the sword and reluctantly turned to address her son. "Well, Kouga, it seems I was too hasty in calling you a coward. Kouga?"
But Kouga was gone, lost among horrible, unspeakably carnal visions of Inuyasha and his mother, and sometimes Kagome as a third player. And when his hyper-imaginative mind began supplying the sound to go along with the images, he snapped. Screaming like a demented maniac, he leapt into his whirlwind and sped off toward the horizon.
"Wait up, Kouga!" Ginta and Hakkaku called, sprinting after him.
"I wonder what got into him," Shizuka pondered aloud. Then she turned her attention back to her new favorite hanyou and flashed him a heart-stopping smile. "Well, Inuyasha, it's been fun. If you're ever up north, see if you can find the village of Oyakawa. I live in the mountains just to the east of there when I'm not on the road. I'd love to, let's say, spar with you, anytime."
Inuyasha nodded, not willing to commit to a visit but liking the option. She was right; this had been fun. Pissing Kouga off, getting some attention from a woman who was not nearly as unattractive as his words would indicate…yeah, it had been a good day.
With a wink and a lingering smile, Shizuka transformed back into her wolf form and bounded off into the wilderness.
"I like her," Inuyasha announced to no one. "She's a feisty old broad." When only oppressive silence greeted his declaration, he turned to his comrades. From the way Kagome's fists were clenched at her sides and the dark expression on her face, it appeared as though a meeting with the earth was in his near future. Sango seemed completely exasperated, while Miroku was simply shaking his head looking amused. Hanyou and miko both opened their mouths at the same time, for entirely different purposes, but the monk's quiet laughter stilled both their tongues.
"A 'feisty old broad' indeed," he said, still chuckling. "If only she was a hundred years younger, eh Inuyasha?"
The hanyou cocked his head to the side in confusion. "What the hell are you talking about?"
"You can't be serious. Nobody is that dense."
"Look, monk. If you've got something to say just fucking say it!"
"She was flirting with you, you oblivious dolt!"
Inuyasha's expression quickly morphed into one of the deer-in-headlights variety. "N-n-no she wasn't," he retorted weakly, with all the conviction of a man realizing he's just made a terrible mistake.
"Oh, no? Let's see then. Casual compliments? Check. Suggestive tone and body language? Check. Inviting you to her place to 'spar?' Check. And let's not forget 'I've always appreciated the look of a man with a big sword.' Please don't tell me you thought she was just talking about Tetsusaiga."
From the horrified look on his face, that was exactly what Inuyasha had thought. Kagome felt her anger melt away, as she realized that yes, Inuyasha was in fact that dense. He was a fool, but an innocent one.
"You know, we really should visit her sometime," the monk continued. "I for one think it would be very—"
"It ain't never happening!" Inuyasha bellowed. "And I don't want to hear another word about this, ever!" With that, he turned and stomped up the road.
Sango sidled up to Kagome as they resumed walking. "Well, Kagome-chan," she whispered, "it looks like you don't have to worry about Shizuka moving in on you."
The miko snorted. "Yeah, or Inuyasha becoming Kouga's stepfather."
A/N – final thought from Kouga:
"I'm going to need a lot of therapy after this…"