Gossip

"Did you see his ears, his eyes? The signs are unmistakable."

"No doubt about it, he's one of them."

"Half-breed."

"Filthy blood."

"Hanyou."

Inuyasha hunched his shoulders and tried his best to ignore the whispers behind his back. He was uncomfortable, but unwilling to show as much. There was no way in hell that he was going to give these people the satisfaction of knowing that their snide comments bothered him. He was used to it after all. All part of the joys of being a hanyou.

"Wonder what she's doing with him, then?"

"Think he has her under a spell?"

"Did you see how she was dressed?"

"As odd and unnatural as he is."

Now that got his attention. Ears pricking atop his head, Inuyasha felt his body go rigid. Talking about him was one thing. He had come to accept it as part of his existence, but talking about Kagome….

He turned around, glaring at the small group of villagers that had gathered at the corner of the market, where he had remained to wait for Kagome. His eyes narrowed at them and he lifted the corner of his lip to expose a single, gleaming fang. The knot of villagers shrank back, some of the men raising a few farming tools in a half-hearted attempt at defense.

"See, nothing more than an animal."

"She must be blind to stay with him."

"Such a pretty girl to waste on such a brute."

Honestly, were these people stupid? Hadn't they figured out yet that his hearing was much better than theirs? That their whispers sounded like normal conversations to him? He balled his hands into fists, readying to strike out at the villagers, when a small figure in green and white emerged from the bustling market, yellow backpack bulging. Kagome grinned widely when she spotted him.

"Inuyasha." She called out delightedly, waving her hand in greeting, as if she hadn't quite expected – or forgotten – that he would wait for her. She skipped towards him, then snaked one arm through his, leaning close in her excitement.

"I got everything Kaede asked for and more. Mom and Souta and grandpa are gonna freak when they see what I brought back for them."

"That's great Kagome, really." He cast a glance back at the villagers, trying to gauge their reactions at the sight of Kagome practically throwing herself at him. The crowd had gone silent and stony-faced at this obvious display of affection towards a mere hanyou.

"You didn't…well, run into any trouble, did you?" He asked.

"Trouble?" she asked, already pulling him along in her eagerness to get back to the village and show off her purchases. "What kind of trouble would that be?"

"Nothing," he mumbled. "Just wondered if you heard any of the gossip."

She stared at him blankly for a few moments. "Gossip? Why would I listen to that? It's just trash ignorant people say about others to make themselves feel superior. Nothing useful or true about it, so why bother listening?"

He felt relief surge through him and let her drag him along the road back towards the village. He even went so far as gently squeezing the fingers wrapped around his palm.