Chapter 8

Koga sat leaned against the back wall of the main cavern, his posture relaxed but his eyes always intense, always moving over the wolves under his command, looking for possible trouble. It wasn't that he doubted his ability as leader – he had never met a wolf demon that was his equal in strength, which explained how he had become tribe leader at such a relatively young age. Demons were unpredictable though – and wolf demons in particular had reputations for being volatile. He would die to defend his tribe but he'd die defending them as their leader; anyone who had a problem with that would have to be dealt with.

For now though things were peaceful and his men seemed content. It had been a true test of his reign, announcing to the wolf demons that he would take a mortal for a mate. It was obvious that many did not understand his choice, but it was a proof of the respect they held for their leader that none had openly challenged him over his choice. A lesser alpha would have lost his position, or worse, by breaking the unwritten rules of the tribe.

He had also had to tell his men they could no longer eat humans and they had taken that bit of news worse. None had been so bold as to refuse or disobey his orders – yet – but he was aware of the dissatisfied grumbling of those used to always having easy, plentiful prey from human villages whenever wild game was scarce.

He frowned, thinking of what Kagome would say if one of his men broke orders and attacked humans. What would she say if she knew how many humans they had already killed? Could she understand how it was, having a whole clan depending on him for food and protection, having the only options of taking what prey they could or starving? Life was harsh on the mountains – in winter much of the wild game disappeared – and yet the villages stayed full year-round of prey that barely gave a struggle. Now, of course, things were different; even if he was sure Kagome would never find out, he couldn't turn a blind eye towards the fear on the faces of humans, couldn't tune out their screams. Always he would be afraid to see Kagome's eyes staring back at him from a lifeless face.

It didn't erase the problems that he knew were brewing, though. Winter would be arriving soon and with it the typical difficulties with mountain living, plus the added obstacle of convincing hungry wolves to ignore what had been a fail-safe food source. He couldn't allow his pack to starve over his concern with a mortal girl – they would rebel at that point, jewel shards or no. He had to find a compromise.

Meanwhile, it seemed his Kagome was finally warming to his advances. He allowed himself a small smile at the memory of the last time he'd seen her, when she had suddenly seemed interested in him and not merely trying to hide behind that mutt face. He had been tempted to visit her again the very next day but he had responsibilities here. Besides, he couldn't just show up without a plan like normal. Now that it seemed she was really considering him he had to be careful to not lose what ground he had somehow gained. He needed a strategy.

"Koga, sir?" Koga looked up into the face of a dark skinned, heavily-muscled, young wolf demon. The demon had stopped a few feet from where Koga sat and was waiting for his response, his eyes carefully not meeting his leader's; for wolves direct eye contact was usually a sign of aggression.

"Yes?" Koga drawled, not bothering with the underling's name, although of course he knew it. He knew all the names of his men and whether they were mated and how many whelps they had as well.

"The others returned from hunting, sir. There are two boars and a few rabbits." Koga glanced to the entrance, where he saw the kills piled carelessly in the middle of the floor, surrounded by salivating wolves. No one had eaten anything yet. As alpha, Koga was entitled to first choice.

"I'm not hungry. You all go ahead," Koga said in the same bored drawl. At his permission, the lesser wolves dived upon the kills, growling and snarling at each other. There was plenty to go around, and always enough was left to provide for the females and young whelps not present, but it didn't prevent the males from fighting for the choicest pieces.

Koga watched passively, smelling the blood and seeing the entrails spill onto the floor. For him it was a routine sight, almost pleasurable in its normalcy, but now he tried to view it through the eyes of a young, human female. He sighed. 'Kagome would take one look at this and run back to muttface and her ninja food.'

Koga paused, realizing then that he had no real idea what humans even ate. He had always thought of ninja food as beneath him, practically inedible, but the thought was based on prejudices and seeing humans as livestock themselves. He knew though that humans didn't actually eat grass like cattle or deer. What was that food Kagome had given him once? He couldn't remember the words printed on the strange bag, but the food inside had been surprisingly good. 'Humans must use food like that to get through the winters when they can't get fresh meat,' he mused thoughtfully. He hadn't ever considered before how humans made it through the winters, being far worse hunters than wolves and seeing all the greenery they may or may not eat wither away.

He grinned, an idea beginning to take shape in his mind. He would visit his Kagome soon, but this time he wouldn't be there just to say hello. This time he would tell her he wanted her help in coming up with food sources for his tribe for the upcoming winter. Kagome was always so sweet and so concerned with others, surely she would want to help him. Especially since she'd know that the reason the tribe was struggling was their new commitment to not hurting mortals.

Koga's dark eyes gleamed. It was the perfect plan – a way of showing Kagome how serious he was about creating a lifestyle for his tribe that she could share with them and using her giving nature to guarantee she'd comply with his requests. If it worked and she was actually able to help them, it might even solidify her standing in the tribe. Not that it would change anything if his pack mates never accepted her – he'd love her and protect her regardless – but things would be easier for them both if the tribe gave her their respect willingly.

'And,' thought Koga, 'It will give me time alone with Kagome.' He unconsciously licked his lips and grinned, exposing both fangs. 'I will find her tomorrow and by tomorrow night I will have her here, in my caverns, seeing me as alpha.' Koga's mind filled with visions of his Kagome, her eyes wide and impressed as she witnessed him in his element, controlling dozens of demons and defending his vast territories. Surely then she'd see that he had more potential as a mate than that stray dog. Koga chuckled darkly to himself and several wolves who had been standing close to him hurriedly moved away, unnerved by the predatory light shining in their leader's eyes.

(A/N: Ok, whole chapter about Koga and the stage is set! Next chapter we will have Koga meeting up with Kagome again and then – who knows? ;) Will she go with him as part of her brand new, flirtatious attitude? What will InuYasha do? Just what is Koga planning for his hoped-for "alone time" with Kagome? **droolsatideaofalonetimewithKoga** Thanks as always to my reviewers – kouga's older woman, Roseybee, NeonTalisman, YoruichiXSoiFon1. )