Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha or any of the characters listed below. They all are the property of Rumiko Takahashi. I am in no way affiliated with Takahashi, or VIZ Productions.

Chapter 1

It was a lovely day in the Sengoku Jidai. The sky was clear, the sun was shining, and the early morning air had yet to heat up. The only thing marring this lovely morning were a couple of voices that were slowly getting louder and angrier as time passed.

"Inuyasha, I need to go home. I have a test in three days and I need to get notes from my friends so I can study," said a frustrated Kagome.

"Keh! Wench, you don't need to go home. You're just trying to avoid having to collect any more jewel shards!" accused Inuyasha.

Kagome took a deep breath to attempt to calm herself, "Inuyasha, I am not trying to avoid collecting jewel shards. I really do have a history test in a few days." She began to get angry again as she remembered collecting the last shard they came across. "And I really don't want to have to wade through another set of youkai guts to get another shard. I need a bath just thinking about it! You can get the next one out of mutilated remains!" She shuddered at the memory.

"I said no, Wench, and that's final!" yelled Inuyasha. He was using the theory that if you spoke louder than the person you're talking to, they'll abide by what you say. He also, in the heat of the moment, forgot exactly who he was talking to.

The rest of the group that had been walking silently behind the arguing pair sucked in their breath and grimaced in sympathy for the pain they knew the inu-hanyou just brought upon himself.

Kagome had stopped walking and was looking down at her feet. "Final?" she said in a low voice. "Final?" she repeated in a slightly higher pitch. She began to slowly look up at Inuyasha where he had also stopped walking. His eyes started to widen and his ears began to lower into his silver hair as he realized what he said and to whom.

"Osuwari!" she yelled out, and Inuyasha face-planted into the ground. "Inuyasha, I can't believe you! Osuwari! You were just complaining last night that we are running out of Ramen, and we are less than half a day to Kaede's and the well. Osuwari! I am going home whether you walk me to the well or not! Osuwari! Sango!"

"Um, yes Kagome?" nervously answered the only other woman in the group.

Before Kagome could answer, the ground shook with a vibration that had nothing to do with the cursing inu-hanyou in an Inuyasha-sized crater. A huge green oni holding a huge club emerged from the trees that were on either side of the path the group currently stood on. Everyone was focused on the argument between the two friends and didn't sense the oni nearby due to its weak demonic aura. Inuyasha began fighting the subduing rosary he wore with even more ferocity than he usually did to try to get up to protect his pack.

The oni swung its club at the group. Everyone managed to react in time to move out of the way. As the weapon went by, it seemed to stir up some of the dust from the road in its wake.

"Hiraikotsu!" Sango called as she threw her weapon towards the oni. The oni was faster than it appeared to be and managed to evade the flying weapon. The Hiraikotsu hit an outcropping of rock and fell out of the air instead of returning to the taijya.

"Kagome, does he have a jewel shard?" asked Mikoku as he prepared some ofuda to fling at the beast.

Kagome was busy dodging another swing of the oni's club and was trying not to cough from the road dust it stirred up. Once she was in the clear, she concentrated her miko powers. "Yes! In its midsection, I think."

"That's all I needed to know," stated a confident Inuyasha that had finally gotten out of his personal crater. He was standing near Kagome with Tessaiga held confidently across his shoulders. "Stay safe," he said softly to Kagome before he strode in front of her. Kagome blushed slightly and got her bow and arrows out.

"Hey Ugly!" Inuyasha yelled to get the oni's attention. He kept his eyes on the oni that was nearly as tall as the surrounding trees. "Why don'tcha pick on someone your own size instead of a group of humans!"

The oni was busy swinging its club at Inuyasha when the hanyou's words registered in its brain. The club slammed into the ground near Inuyasha and the resulting dust it kicked up had Kagome coughing until she could breathe again. The oni stood slightly confused as this puny creature challenged him like he was the same height.

During the oni's hesitation, Inuyasha smirked and brought down Tessaiga in one swift stroke, "Wind Scar!" The oni let out an anguished yell, then fell silent as he literally fell apart where he stood.

Inuyasha continued to smirk as he sheathed Tessaiga. "Oi, Kagome. You can get the shard now."

"Hmmph!" replied Kagome as she turned her head and stuck her nose in the air. "I think I told you that you could be the next one to dig through youkai guts to get a shard. It's somewhere to your right."

Mikoku, Sango, and Shippo, who had hid during the fight, were all fighting to hold back their sniggering. The day was not going well for their dog-earred friend. Since it looked like the two hot-heads were going to start up arguing where they left off, Sango just shook her head and went to retrieve Hiraikotsu.

Inuyasha looked at the oni's remains, "But Kagome, it smells and I can't tell where the shard is in this mess."

Kagome gave a very Inuyasha-like smirk, "Yes, I know it smells. It smelled last time too. And the shard is still to your right. And down. You might have to dig a bit."

Inuyasha shot Kagome a glare, but started edging to his right. He really didn't want to go digging through youkai guts, but he did enjoy when he and Kagome teased with each other like this. She never gave anyone else that look or had that teasing edge to her voice for anyone but him. She's nice to the others and she may tease them good-naturedly like friends sometimes do. But this was her saying, "Ha! I finally got you, and I'm going to enjoy every minute of it."

"A little bit more, Inuyasha… OK, it might be in that pile in front of you." He glanced at Kagome and saw that the smirk was still on her face. He couldn't help but to smirk in return before bending to sift through the goo in front of him. His smirk quickly turned into muttered curses that were too quiet for the humans of the group to hear.

"OH NO!" a feminine voice rang out. Everyone stopped what they were doing and looked at Sango. She was holding her Hiraikotsu and just staring at it.

"What's wrong?" Miroku asked as he hurried over. Once he got beside her and looked at her weapon that held all her attention, his cloth-covered hand crept behind her and stroked her bottom.

*SLAP* "Houshi, I swear!" she broke off and was grumbling under her breath about hentai monks and wondering hands. Miroku was just holding his cheek that currently sported a bright red handprint and sighed happily.

"Weirdo…" muttered Kagome. "Sango? What's the matter?" She quickly looked in Inuyasha's direction and saw he was attempting to sneak out of the guts. "Uh-uh, mister. You want that shard, then you're gonna get that shard. To your left. If you try to sneak off again, I may stop giving you hints." The Inuyasha-like smirk had made a come-back.

'Bitch,' Inuyasha thought fondly as he outwardly scowled. But he did start moving to his left.

"It's Hiraikotsu," Sango finally answered. "It must have had a hidden crack and a piece chipped off. This will take days to repair!" She sighed. "Inuyasha, I can't use Hiraikotsu in its current condition. I need to go to the taijiya village to repair it. I'm sorry to have to delay our quest." She gave a slight bow at the end towards him.

Inuyasha was shocked. Not that Sango was asking for time to repair her weapon. Hell, he had to do the same thing when the Tessaiga was broken. No, he was shocked that she had bowed to him. No one, except for Myoga and he only did it to save his hide, had ever bowed to him before.

"O…o…ok, s..Sango. Sure thing," he stuttered, still in shock.

"Kirara?" Sango asked her companion without words if she would transform and carry her to their old village. Kirara lept down from Sango's shoulder and transformed into a large fire-cat to allow her friend to ride on her back.

"Dear Sango, please allow me to escort you to your former village. It would be safer for the two of us to travel together now that your primary weapon has been taken out of action," Mikoru suggested.

Sango was just about to refuse due to the earlier groping, but realized he had a point about safety in numbers. She growled, "Fine… Shippo! You're coming too. I need you to keep an eye on the monk."

Miroku held up both hands, "I am so misunderstood."

Sango, Miroku, and Shippo gathered their stuff and climbed on Kirara. Sango turned to Inuyasha, "It should only take five days to repair. If we're not back at Kaede's in seven days, come to the village."

"Keh."

"Thanks, Inuyasha," Sango called as Kirara lifted into the sky leaving Kagome and Inuyasha alone.

The duo watched the rest of their group head off into the sky then looked at each other. Kagome saw that Inuyasha was still standing in the youkai guts and guessed that he didn't want to lose any possible hints on the missing jewel shard's location. She grinned at him.

"So? Found it yet?" she asked. He gave her a disgruntled look and she couldn't help but smirk again. "I think you need to really get up in there. I sense that it's pretty deep." She tossed her hair over a shoulder momentarily exposing the side of her neck.

"K..keh!" 'Is…. Is she flirting with me? No. No, she couldn't possibly realize what showing her neck like that means… Right?' Inuyasha became flustered with the thoughts running through his mind, so he bent down to continue sorting through the guts.

'Huh, that's the second time today he's stuttered about something. He only does that when something catches him by surprise. Hmm,' Kagome became lost in her thoughts trying to figure out her friend's slip-ups. As her mind wandered, so did she to a cleaner part of the clearing near the late-oni's club. She looked up and suddenly wished that Inuyasha could be persuaded to wear blue jeans instead of his baggy hakama. If so, she would have a lovely view at the moment. She leaned her elbows on the abandoned club in front of her and rested her chin on her fists after letting out a sigh while her mind conjured up a visual.

Immediately after her sigh escaped, she started violently coughing and sneezing. Inuyasha's head shot up, and he was instantly at her side supporting her.

"Kagome! Are you ok!?" Inuyasha demanded.

Kagome continued to sneeze, but the sneezes slowly degenerated into giggles.

"Kagome?"

"Inuyasha," Kagome giggled again, "you should wear blue jeans. (giggle) Then..then…then (giggle) I could do my (giggle) Miroku impression!" Kagome busted out laughing so hard she started having trouble catching her breath.

Inuyasha's face went red instantly. He wasn't sure what jeans were, or why she picked the color blue when she knew he always wore red. But to want to do an impression of Miroku could only mean a couple things.

"Keh! Why would you want to do an impression of that hentai monk anyway?" This only made Kagome laugh harder. He couldn't help it, he had to egg her on. Even her belly laughs were wonderful to hear. "Besides," he smirked, "I ain't gonna bear your children. Wrong parts."

Her laughing had quieted down, but this brought a fresh bout of giggles. Then she leaned up towards his ear and whispered, "Well, I have the right parts." As if that wasn't strange enough, she then ran her tongue along the outer edge of that ear causing him to shiver. Inuyasha was as red as his clothes, but he grabbed her arms and gently pushed her away until she was at arm's length and still in his grip.

"Kagome?" he asked as he looked at her. She was softly giggling again, but her eyes were slightly glazed and her eyelids drooping like she was dozing off. Her face was also slightly flushed. He worriedly placed a hand against her forehead, and then his own for comparison. They seemed about the same, even if he did forget about his current embarrassment flush he was still sporting.

"I think I need to get you home, you're acting funny, Wench," he muttered. Then he glanced at the oni's remains with the jewel shard still in that mess somewhere. He let out a canine whine before he could catch himself.

"Kagome? You still awake?"

"Hmm?..."

"Can you locate the shard? I'll take you home right after."

"MmmmNnnooo. Want to stay…"

"Wench, you need…"

Kagome continued like she didn't hear Inuyasha at all, "…with you..."

Inuyasha's eyes widened. He knew that she considered him a friend, but with everything that had happened in the last few moments, he thought maybe she thought about him the way he thought about her. He shook his head. There would be time for all that later. Right now, he had to deal with Kagome.

"I'll stay with you in your time if you want. But first can you…" he trailed off. She was asleep. He looked at the guts and knew he wouldn't be able to find a little pink shard in all the goo left behind without her telling him where it was. He sighed as he chalked up the shard in the mess as another one lost as he scooped up Kagome and her bag and headed towards the Bone Eater's Well.