Where There Is Smoke

Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha or any of its characters.

Inuyasha had known when he'd woken up that morning that this was going to be a shitty day. But the level of shittiness the day turned out to be exceeded his expectations that was for sure.

"Son of bitch!" he gritted out between his tightly clenched fangs as he absorbed the brunt of the blow his enemy rained down on him, their swords clashing with the hollow scream of metal against metal. Sweat poured from his forehead and slid between his shoulder blades uncomfortably as he racked his mind on how to finish this irritating fight quicker.

He and his pack had been traveling back to Kaede's village, which was more of a home to them now, when they had been approached by the two neko youkai. They had at first seemed civil enough. Or at least Kagome thought so, Inuyasha thought with an irritated scowl.

The stupid girl had been swayed by their fake sincerity about trying to find their lost comrade and she had stupidly offered that they help them find their friend. Inuyasha, however, hadn't been nearly as deceived. But when he had voiced his objections, no one had listened to him!

He had been on his own for two decades before he'd been pinned by Kikyo; you would think the group would listen to his words of wisdom more, but no! They just ignored him and told him, "Not everyone we meet is trying to steal the shards, Inuyasha."

Yeah, well shows what they know, he groused as he jumped to the left, barely missing being torn by the cat's claws.

"Stop dodging, dog. Are you too afraid that your sword won't match up to mine?" the neko sneered.

Inuyasha snorted and stopped long enough to smirk in his direction. "Your companion didn't think my sword was weak, did he?" he sneered.

The neko's eyes narrowed and he hissed in rage. Behind them, his dear comrade lay unconscious and torn bloody by Wind Scar. Inuyasha's smirk never left his face as he dodged another swipe of the neko's claws.

Just as Inuyasha's feet landed on the scuffed ground, the air around the neko began to stir with his youki, his rage coloring his green eyes a bloody red.

"You will regret ever crossing our path, you filthy mutt," he hissed as his claws began to glow a sickly green. Inuyasha's smirk fell and his eyebrows furrowed.

What is this cat doing? he thought, his grip tightening on Tetsusaiga's hilt as he balanced his weight on the balls of his feet, ready to move if need be.

With a roar, the neko rushed him and Inuyasha barely had time to curse and dodge before the claw tore him to shreds. Flipping in the air to land behind the enraged neko, his eyes widened when he saw the ground where he had once stood begin to bubble and melt.

Behind him, he heard Kagome gasp and her cry, "Watch out, Inuyasha. His claws are poisonous like Sesshomaru's."

Inuyasha's eyes narrowed and he gave a brisk nod in response.

Great. Just fucking great. Now I have to deal with this shit?

Snarling, Inuyasha's patience finally ran dry and he charged the neko, his sword held aloft over his head as he cried, "Wind Scar!"

As the destructive energy released from his sword, the neko barely bat an eye, simply jumping around the five energy streaks and was in front of Inuyasha before the hanyou could curse. Inuyasha's golden eyes widened in alarm and he heard Kagome scream his name as he was backhanded across the clearing, Tetsusaiga flying from his loosened grip.

Son of a bitch. Son of a fucking bitch!

Kagome stood in alarm when she saw Inuyasha fly across the clearing to land in a painful pile of limbs, his sword flying in the opposite direction.

That neko is so fast! Inuyasha barely has enough time to dodge, let alone get to Tetsusaiga. Her eyes narrowed as Kagome readied an arrow and notched it in her bow. I'll have to distract him then.

Inuyasha's eyes widened as he struggled to his feet unsteadily when he saw the streak of purity in the wake of an arrow. He heard the neko scream in agony as Kagome's arrow buried itself in his shoulder, purifying the skin down to the bone. Turning blood red eyed toward the miko, the neko hissed in rage and shot off towards her, his movements so fast, Kagome almost didn't have time to register them.

"Kagome!" Inuyasha screamed, panic taking hold of his heart and squeezing as he watched the neko streak towards her, his poisonous claws raised and murder in his bloodied gaze.

Kagome's eyes widened in alarm when she saw the neko heading towards her, a scream lodging in her throat as she threw herself to the side, barely missing his claws. But her blood froze in her veins when she heard an enraged roar shake the clearing, sending chills of apprehension up the spines of all the fighters. Turning wide eyes toward Inuyasha, the blood fled from her face when she saw him. The wind around him had picked up and lifted his white hair to swirl ominously around his shadowed face. His claws were clenched in tight fists and when he finally lifted her face to the light, Kagome could stop her shout of surprise and fear.

"Inuyasha, no!"

His eyes were red and filled with killing intent. Jagged purple markings lined his cheekbones and peaking over his top lip, deadly fangs glinted in the sunlight.

Inuyasha felt a haze begin to take over his vision as the rage, the panic swirled in his chest to the point of pain. He couldn't seem to catch his breath, couldn't get his limbs to obey him. As he lost consciousness, he heard a voice rasp in him mind, thick with satisfaction and anticipation.

My turn.

Shit, my head hurts like a bitch, was the first thought that broke though Inuyasha's fogged brain.

As his senses returned to him while the haze over his mind finally began to dissipate, he became aware of two things.

One, every muscle in his body fucking hurt. He hadn't felt this beat up since the last time Sesshomaru had beat the shit out of him. Even his eyelids hurt as he tried to open his eyes, making him wince and lie still once more so he didn't aggravate his condition anymore then he already had.

The second thing he became aware of was the distant sound of sobbing and the crackle of a nearby fire. Taking shallow breaths through his mouth, Inuyasha tried to summon up enough energy to finally crack open his eyes and winced when he did so. Blinking open his eyes finally, he turned his head to see that he was lying on the hard ground next to a camp fire in a clearing. Shifting his eyes, he could just make out the silhouette of his comrades as they slept a little farther from the fire. His ears twitched on his head as he became aware of the sobbing from behind him.

Cursing softly, he managed to crane his head so he could make out a hunched figure out of the corner of his eye. When that figure shifted, bringing their hands up to their face and attempt to stifle their sobs, a small breeze brought a scent to Inuyasha's nose. His eyes widened, and then darkened when he realized the figure was Kagome.

She sat curled in on herself a few feet from where he lay, her face in her hands and her knees pulled up to her chest. Her dark curtain of hair had fallen forward to hide her face from his gaze and her whole body shook with the power of her sobs.

At the sounds of his movements, her dark head snapped up and her dazed, tearful brown eyes connected with his wide awake and somber golden gaze. Sniffling, she straightened a little and wiped a trembling hand underneath her eyes to try and hide the evidence of her tears from him.

"I-Inuyasha," she whispered. When he didn't say anything, only gazed at her silently, she couldn't keep her lips from trembling and had to bite her lip to keep a new onslaught of tears at bay. Scooting closer, she sat to his right so he wouldn't have to crane his head to look at her and couldn't meet his gaze. Instead, she looked him over, noting that his movements had opened the wounds that started at his collar bone and ended at his hips, staining the bandages a light pink.

"You shouldn't move, so much, Inuyasha. Your wounds still haven't had time to heal."

Inuyasha sighed and looked away from her sad eyes. Gazing into the fire, he couldn't keep his thoughts from showing on his face.

I blacked out after that neko youkai attacked Kagome and I'm beat the hell up with no recollection of how it happened…I must have transformed.

Instead of voicing his thoughts, he turned back to the girl by his side. "Why were you crying, Kagome?" he asked softly, keeping his gaze trained on the starry sky above him rather than watch her expression.

"I-I wasn't-"

"Kagome," he interrupted, finally turning to meet her wide gaze. "I know you better than that. Don't try to lie to me."

She bit her lip hard enough to draw blood and couldn't stop herself from reaching forward to grasp one of his clawed hands, bringing it up to cradle it against her chest and laying her cheek against his knuckles. She closed her eyes and couldn't stop the tears that escaped her eyes.

"I transformed didn't I?" he asked quietly, curling his fingers around hers and giving a gentle squeeze. She nodded wordlessly.

Cursing, he looked away from her, disgust coloring his voice. "It's getting harder to control my demon blood. Each time I transform, it takes less time for me to be over come after I lose Tetsusaiga. I-" he stopped and had to swallow over a lump in his throat. "I'm losing control of myself."

His words hung heavily between the two as Kagome clung to his hand and cried silently and Inuyasha looked somberly into the fire.

Kagome couldn't get this pressure in her chest to go away. No matter how many tears she shed, how hard she clung to Inuyasha's hand, she couldn't stop the panic that she had felt at seeing him lose control like he had. It terrified her that the next time he lost control, he might not be able to change back. She was terrified that she might one day lose him forever. The thought made the tears fall harder and made her crave the comfort that only a warm and alive and sane Inuyasha could offer.

Inuyasha turned back to Kagome when she shifted next to him, watching as she stretched out next to him and, with his hand still cradled against her chest, pressed her front against his right side, careful to avoid any of his bandages.

Her eyes snapped open she felt Inuyasha shift and saw him struggling to turn so he laid on his side, facing her. Even though she opened her mouth to object, he ignored her and reached forward with his free hand to pull her against him gently so that her head was tucked against his chest and his chin rested on the crown of her head.

Wrapping her arms around his waist, Kagome buried her face in his throat and let the tears flow from her eyes, not bothering to pretend to be strong in front of him. She hated seeing him hurt and not be able to help him. She hated that she couldn't help him control a part of himself that he couldn't get rid of. It hurt her that he hated a part of himself, because she loved every bit of him, even the parts that she knew she would never understand.

Inuyasha rubbed an absent hand up and down her back while she cried against him, gazing blankly into the dark forest surrounding them. Strangely, he wasn't as upset as he usually would have been after hearing that he'd lost control. He didn't know if it was because he had accepted his fate of eventually losing his mind and running rampant or if it was the caring, loving woman in his arms that he cherished above all else in the world.

Whatever the reason, when they both finally fell into an exhausted sleep, they felt safe in each other's arms and in that moment, while they were both vulnerable and scared, didn't bother to deny how they felt about each other. They shared a love that couldn't be broken and found solace in each other that dark night.

This time when Inuyasha woke up, it wasn't dark and the sun had already risen over the horizon. Shifting onto his back, he took a deep breath and was relieved that it didn't hurt nearly as much as it had the night before. Look down at his chest, he saw that his bandages had been changed and fresh white ones had replaced the dirty stained ones before it. He also noticed the absence of a warm body next to his.

Taking a breath of the air, he noticed that her scent was probably about an hour stale and that the others in the camp had also woken. His ears twitched when he heard their voices and turned his head to see them gathered around the fire about a yard away from him and that they hadn't noticed he'd woken up yet.

Sango and Miroku sat next to each other on one side of the fire while Kagome prepared breakfast from the other side. They sat closer together than Inuyasha had seen them so in awhile, since the death of Sango's brother, in fact. He supposed that since the looming final battle was getting dangerously close, they decided to enjoy what time they had together while they could. But then again, he never had understood why they had fought their feelings in the first place. He'd always thought it was stupid, just a waste of time that they could have spent together.

No better.

Confused, Inuyasha blinked and shook his head slightly. What had that voice been? Sniffing, he didn't smell any foreign scents in the area and the others didn't seem to have reacted to hearing it, meaning it was probably just his imagination. Deciding to ignore it, he closed his eyes, his energy suddenly depleted. One of his ears turned to the conversation going on around him, and he began to listen in absently.

"…scared for him," Kagome murmured as she watched the pot over the camp fire filled with water begin to bubble at the bottom, signaling the beginning of it boiling.

Sango sighed and ran a hand over her tired eyes. She hadn't slept very well the night before, just as she was sure the others hadn't either, her worry for Inuyasha keeping her tossing and turning.

"I just don't know what to do. My people don't really know much about hanyous because they're so rare. Before I met Inuyasha, I didn't even really think any of them could survive into adulthood, to be honest."

Next to her, Miroku crossed his arms in his sleeves and looked thoughtfully into the fire.

"Perhaps we can garner more information about his demon blood. Maybe there is a way for him to…become more able with it."

Sango frowned. "You mean like get him to train with it somehow?"

He shrugged. "It's just a thought I had. It seems to me that the demon blood in Inuyasha is the same blood that also runs in Sesshomaru's veins, only severely diluted. The reason that Inuyasha loses control, as far as we know, is because the humanity in his blood goes into remission whenever he feels his life is being threatened or those of someone dear, as we saw last night." At his words, Kagome flinched and shifted in her spot. "The only reason that Inuyasha seems to be unable to control it, is because he hasn't had any training with it, like full blooded demons do from the moment they can begin training. There might be a technique for him to become more attuned to his blood and access it on demand, like full blooded demons do, but without getting rid of his humanity."

Kagome frowned in thought. "Do you think Myoga would know anything?"

Miroku shrugged and frowned. "He might, he might not. But we won't know until we run into him."

"He never seems to be there when he need him the most," Sango murmured.

"And considering the battle last night, I feel it's safe to say that we won't see him for a little while," Kagome added, setting the boiling water aside to begin to make tea for the three of them, Shippo still being asleep in her sleeping bag.

All three of them turned to look at Inuyasha as he stirred, turning his head and opening his golden eyes to look at them. His eyes were somber and shadowed, making Kagome's heart squeeze uncomfortably in her chest. She hated that look in his eyes. And unfortunately since Kikyo's death, she had seen it far too often.

"Inuyasha," she called softly with a small genuine smile. It lightened her heart to see that his wounds didn't hurt him as much as they had the night before. His eyes connected with hers and lightened a fraction as he grunted in response.

"How long have I been out?" he asked, his voice husky with sleep.

"Only a night and most of the morning," Miroku told him. "How do you feel?"

Inuyasha smirked humorlessly. "Like shit."

Surprised, Miroku and Sango exchanged a concerned look. Inuyasha must truly hurt if he had willingly admitted to feeling any pain at all. Either that or he was still out of it enough not to put up a front.

Inuyasha saw the look on their faces and snorted, looking away. "At least tell me I didn't hurt anyone," he said quietly, his eyes trained on the fire. Kagome's smile turned truly genuine, with an edge of relief.

"Don't worry. You didn't hurt anyone. You…you killed the neko youkai and-" she stopped and pressed her lips together, her smile gone. When he heard her stop, Inuyasha looked up at her, a frown on his face.

"What?" he asked. She looked away, down at her hands as they fisted in her blouse.

"You started acting…weird afterwards. You didn't attack or anything," she insisted when he tensed. At her words, he still didn't relax, anxiety rolling in his stomach. "You just acted…weird."

"Weird how?"

She met his gaze, her face twisted in confused anxiety. "You just kind of…grabbed me and hugged me."

His eyes widened and against his will, a blush colored his pale face. "What?" he choked out. "I hugged you?"

She nodded. "You hugged me, sniffed me a little, then passed out from you blood loss."

Inuyasha looked away, seeming to be in deep thought, and dropped the conversation. Kagome went back to making tea for her friends and puttering around camp, making sure they had everything to stay another night. But as she worked, her mind kept replaying that moment over and over again in her mind. She hadn't quite told him everything that had happened…

"Inuyasha," Kagome murmured, stepping closer to the panting hanyou. At his feet, what remained of the neko youkai lay in a bloody heap, the blood still dripping from Inuyasha's claws. When she spoke, he snapped his red eyes toward her, his fangs catching the waning sunlight and gleaming sinisterly.

"Inuyasha," she tried again, lifting her hand when Sango and Miroku made a move to stop her. "Inuyasha, you're safe now. You can relax. You're safe."

She stepped within his reach and stopped as she watched him tense. She balanced her weight on the balls of her feet to get ready to dodge in case he attacked, but kept her gaze on his. When she didn't move, he seemed to relax. All the tension came out of his shoulders and his clenched fists fell limply at his sides.

She smiled at him, tentatively holding her hand toward him. "Yes, that's right. You're safe now. You can change back."

A breath blew out of his lips, an almost snort as he surged forward. Behind her, Sango took a surprised step forward but stopped when Miroku flung out an arm in her way. She looked over at him in surprise and he gestured for her silence. With a fierce frown, she forced her shoulders to relax and turned back to their friends.

Kagome's breath was pushed from her lungs when she was crushed against his bloody chest, Inuyasha's arms wrapped tightly around her waist as he buried his face in her hair. She remained still in his arms for a moment, as his movements slowly registered in her mind. Finally, she relaxed enough to wrap her arms around him in return and buried her face against his chest, relief making her dizzy.

"Inuyasha," she whispered against him. Suddenly, she felt something warm and wet against her stomach and gasped when she looked down, seeing it was his blood that had seeped through her blouse. "You're hurt!"

When she tried to pull away, he tightened his grip on her. She heard as he took deep breaths of the skin at her neck, his body relaxing more with each inhale.

"Okay?" he said finally, his voice ragged and husky. It sounded like an inquiry.

She nodded against him. "Yes, I'm okay, Inuyasha. You saved me."

"Good." With that, his whole body went limp in her arms and she cried out in alarm. Looking up at his face, she saw that he had passed out and watched as the marks on his cheeks began to fade and his fangs retracted to their usual length. But his breathing was deep and even so Kagome didn't panic. It looked like he had simply passed out.

(AN: Okay, I know it's been forever since I've updated any of my Inuyasha stories, and I've been playing with this for the last two months. But I'm tired of looking at it and debating whether or not it's worth continuing. So I'm going to post it and let you decide, so PLEASE give me some feedback! I don't want to waste my time on something that isn't good.)