Hello, guys! I decided to shorten this chapter and work extra hard on the next one tonight so that I could upload it quickly and keep the chapters rolling in. Please leave a kind review if you get the chance, and enjoy the latest chapter. :)

I Love The Stuff I Comment On: You're welcome! I hope this update was quick enough for you. I'm sorry for the long wait between chapters. I am just taking my time with this story. I really want to portray it perfectly. Please enjoy.

chaosandtechno: Thank you. Your feedback is so very appreciated!

Spidermanda: I know I've taken a long time to update. It just means I'm putting a lot of time and effort into making the chapters just right. ILY!

satuross: Thanks so much for saying so. You inspired me to shorten this chapter so I could post it earlier so I hope this can suffice your update craving for the time being. I hope you enjoy the newest installment and thanks so much for the support. I hope I continue to keep you entertained with my writing.

Loxxi: Here ya go! Inuyasha is a bad puppy but I'm glad to say, he's slightly more obedient in this chapter.

MissUndo: Oh wow, I feel bad for you. I think I'd go nuts if I were Kagome and had to be around someone like Inuyasha all the time. He's endearing sometimes but mostly, I just find him to be incredibly rude and selfish throughout the series. Too bad you can't get subjegation beads for that certain someone you know who acts like him... but just imagine! LOL Hope you like this new chappie.

XxMzMaryJaneWhitlockxX: I'm glad you got through the drama stuffs well. Heheh. I like writing that kind of thing too but it seems like everyone wants more action so I felt bad for the placement of that particular chapter. Well things are just getting heated up now (hehe) I hope you like this new chapter. Thanks so much for always reviewing! You're super awesome! :)

After meeting in the outskirts of the village as planned, the two groups merged and discussed where to continue their search for Naraku. They had been at a loss for ideas at first until Sesshomaru brought up the state of the jewel.

"Does Naraku possess all of the remaining shards or are there others?" he had queried, looking only at Kagome as he spoke. She shrugged in response.

"I'm not certain." she said, "The only other two shards I know of are possessed by a friend of mine, Kouga. He's a wolf demon."

The name sounded vaguely familiar but Sesshomaru paid no mind to it. "This wolf possesses shards?"

"Yes, he has two in each of his legs." Kagome answered wondering why he wouldn't address anyone else in the group. She felt a little awkward conversing with him as if her friends weren't even there.

"We shall go to his territory and demand his shards." Sesshomaru said simply.

Kagome paled and was about to protest but Inuyasha spoke up for her. "Hell no!" he snapped, "I've already got to deal with you and I am NOT going to see that damn mangy wolf, too!"

"It's actually a good idea." Sango said, "It's about time we got those shards from him. Besides, we may get closer to Naraku in seeking him out. I'm certain Naraku is going to make a move soon and he has had his eyes on Kouga's shards for some time. I'm willing to bet he pays Kouga a visit before he even considers showing himself to us."

"I agree." Miroku added. "It is the best course of action."

"Inuyasha has a point." Kagome said anxiously, drawing the attention of the group. "Kouga won't give up his shards so willingly and I highly doubt seeking him out would bring us any closer to Naraku."

"I don't recall Inuyasha saying anything like that." Sango remarked with a knowing grin. "I think you have your own reasoning for not wanting to see Kouga, Kagome."

Sesshomaru glanced at the miko with mild interest. He had been listening to the banter dispassionately until she spoke up. He took note of her obvious anxiety at the mention of visiting this wolf demon. He wondered what her relationship to him was to have her so apprehensive to see him. He also noticed how Inuyasha gritted his teeth and shook with rage. It was the same display of possessiveness he had shown in that clearing. He couldn't help the rising curiosity he felt. If this wolf prince did not bring them any closer to Naraku, he may at least prove to be entertaining.

"Kagome, while I understand your reluctance, I think this is our only option." Miroku said. "Unless you have some other idea, I believe we are inclined to go."

"I'm certain you could get Kouga to hand over his shards, Kagome!" Shippo said, causing her to blush a bit.

Inuyasha crossed his arms. "If it means that we're going to get his shards, then I'm game." he huffed, "A weak demon like him has no business using the power of the jewel. He's just gonna get himself killed."

Kagome was clearly outnumbered so she could only slump her shoulders and nod her approval not that she was very willing to see Kouga right now. It wasn't the wolf demon she feared seeing, but the fight that was sure to break out between him and Inuyasha. Sure, she had gotten used to breaking them up over the years but after her recent discovery with the half-breed's true intentions, she wasn't so sure how she would take hearing Inuyasha lay a claim over her again and again. He had no right to call her his if he had no intention of making her so. She was sure to lose her temper and knew this meeting would become one big mess. Thus was her life though.

"We leave for the eastern mountains now." Sesshomaru said with finality before turning and walking in said direction.

The group exchanged bewildered looks before shrugging and following his lead.

A few days had passed as the two groups traveled separately for the wolf tribe's territory. Already Sesshomaru's presence was showing promise since most of the humans in the group were reluctant to ask the ruthless demon to stop for breaks, afraid of how he might react. They would only stop once midday for a quick lunch and finally settle down for the night to sleep. They were always early to rise and continue their escapades. There were very little delays to slow their progress. In three days they had covered more ground than they normally would have in a weeks time. They were already closing in on the eastern mountains. At their rate, they might arrive in another day or so.

Sesshomaru, Jaken, Rin and the two-headed dragon, Ah Un always kept a good pace ahead of the others. They also made camp separately. Kagome would have argued that Sesshomaru was being stubborn but she found that the more distance between he and Inuyasha, the less aggravation for her. She had no intention of breaking up anymore fights between the feuding brothers. If they decided to kill each other, she might just let them at this point.

It was late afternoon on a hot, humid day. The sun was beating down relentlessly on the tiring humans as they walked on. Sango decidedly had enough and approached Kagome who seemed very distracted. She made her presense known to the absent miko by clearing her through. When Kagome started and looked at her questioningly, she spoke under her breath in hopes that a certain daiyoukai wouldn't pick up their conversation with his superior hearing. Sure, he was a good distance away but she had no idea what a demon of his caliber was capable of.

"Kagome, we need to stop." Sango said bluntly. "If we continue on like this, we will pass out from heat exhaustion!"

"It's not so bad." Kagome lied. She could feel the beads of sweat rolling down her face. She knew Sango could see right through her bull shit and heaved out a sigh. "Let me guess. You want me to go talk to Sesshomaru?"

"That would be ideal." Sango said with a grin.

"Why do I have to ask him?" Kagome whined. She knew why but she really didn't feel like asking his permission to do anything. After their last encounter in the forest, she felt weak and vulnerable in his eyes. To go to him now and ask him for a much needed break would only confirm how weak she was and her pride wasn't ready to take that blow.

"You know as well as I do that you are the only one of us he will even acknowledge." Sango said suspiciously. "Why are you acting so timid now. I know you would have said something long ago had Inuyasha been leading the way. Don't tell me you're suddenly afraid of him..?"

"Afraid of him? HA!" Kagome huffed. "Let me borrow Kirara and I'll go catch up with him and TELL him we need a break!"

"Sure thing." Sango said with a humorous spark in her eye. She knew if anything would set Kagome to the task, that would be it. She let the firecat in her arms down and stepped back while she transformed. Inuyasha and Miroku had stopped now and were watching as Kagome pulled herself up on the large cat demon's back.

"I"m going to-"

"Yeah, yeah, we heard." Inuyasha said, interrupting Kagome's explanation. "It's about time." she heard him mutter under his breath. She smiled knowingly. Even the brash hanyou who was always pushing them farther was unused to this pace. The heat and strenuous effort were probably getting to him as well but the reason he hadn't said anything or insist they stop was the same reason as Kagome's. He didn't want to appear weak before his brother.

"Well, wish me luck." Kagome mumbled before Kirara carried her ahead towards the demon lord and his wards.

As she closed in on the smaller pack, Sesshomaru stopped, most likely having sensed her approaching. He stood his ground and waited for her to land behind him, then he turned to face her with his eyebrow raised in question.

"Hey.. uh, how goes it?" Kagome asked awkwardly. A confused grimace took over his usual blank stare and Kagome mentally kicked herself. 'How goes it? Really?!' "N-Nevermind, Sesshomaru." she started, "Look, I was wondering if we could take a break. The heat is really getting to us humans. It's very humid today and we need to be at our best if we're going to confront Naraku."

"You're asking permission?" he said snidely, "In that case, no. We cannot afford any unnecessary delays."

"You heard him, wench!" Jaken spoke up loudly, for the first time since their union. "Return to your weak human companions and leave us in peace!"

"That's enough from you!" Kagome snapped at the unsightly toad. She was fuming. The heat was already getting to her and now Sesshomaru thought it a good idea to mock her? He was about to get a mouthful when a soft sound caught Kagome and Sesshomaru's attention. They both glanced to Ah Un, where Rin was sprawled on the large beast's back. Her hair was damp with sweat, her face flushed and she appeared to be very weak.

"Nnngh... Lord... Sessho-maru." she moaned in a small, sickly voice. His eyes widened in utter terror. How hadn't he noticed the state of his young ward? Could she possibly be suffering from this heatstroke he heard the slayer mention earlier? He was so taken by surprise that he hadn't noticed Kagome's quick reaction. She fell to her knees and scrambled through her large backpack until she located a water bottle. The water was lukewarm but better than nothing. She didn't waste a second before she was at Rin's side, helping the child into a sitting position and bringing the drink to her chapped lips.

"Oh my gosh! Rin! Are you alright?" Kagome asked frantically. It was obvious she was very concerned. Sesshomaru watched with fascination as she handled the young girl as if she were her own. The priestess, oblivious to his watchful gaze, allowed Rin to drink from the water bottle but had to occasionally pull it away so that she didn't drink too much at once and get sick. When the bottle was nearly empty, Kagome used one of the hair elastics she kept on her wrist to tie up the girl's hair so it wouldn't cover her face and neck. "Rin, if you weren't feeling good then why didn't you say something sooner?"

She felt the girl's forehead and frowned. Her skin was so hot it practically burned her hand.

"Thank you... Miss Kagome." Rin managed out. She still appeared to be very weak. "Rin wanted.. to be... strong for.. Lord Sesshomaru."

Sesshomaru was outraged by that comment. She chose to suffer in silence rather than let him know she was in poor condition? What sense did that make? He narrowed his eyes on the little girl, not liking what he saw. She seemed to be overheating. She was almost on the verge of fainting. His jaw clenched as he considered his options. At this point, the hanyou and his human disciples were closing in on them, even at their slow pace. Worry was evident on Sango and Miroku's features.

"Sesshomaru!" Kagome snapped at him, "We need to get Rin out of the sun and into some shade, now!" He didn't know much about treating a human in such a condition so he decided not to question the miko's methods. She surely had more experience with such things. Without a second thought, he was at Rin's side, scooping her tiny, limp body into his one arm. He turned to face the group with the weak child in his hold.

"There is a human village about two miles this way. I am going. I'm sure Inuyasha will be able to track my scent should he need to." With that, he and Rin were gone, leaving even Jaken and Ah Un behind.

"Wait for me, My Lord!" The impish creature squawked after the departed youkai. Kagome rushed to Inuyasha and began to climb up on his back without warning.

"What the hell are you doing?!" he sputtered angrily.

"What do you think?!" Kagome hissed, "Follow him now and hurry! I need to help Rin. I don't think Sesshomaru has any idea how to help her!"

"He didn't ask for your help." Inuyasha remarked.

"It's not him I wish to help this time." Kagome sassed back, "Inuyasha, take me to Rin right now or so help me, I will-!"

"Calm down!" the half-breed snapped, allowing her to position herself more comfortably on his back. "I'm going, alright!?" Sango, Miroku, Shippo and Kirara watched their two companions disappear in a blur of green and red. They exchanged looks.

"Well what should we do?" Sango asked the monk. He shrugged.

"Sesshomaru mentioned a village nearby. I suppose we can go stock up on supplies, grab some food for everyone and meet up with the others later."

"Sounds like a plan!" Shippo exclaimed.

"You don't suppose Kagome will need our help to care for Rin?" Sango pressed.

"She knows what she's doing." Miroku assured her. "Besides, I don't think Sesshomaru wanted any of us to follow. Even Kagome."

"Well if he knows what's best for Rin, he'll let her help." Sango said with a sigh. Sango, Miroku and Shippo hopped on Kirara's back and headed in the direction Sesshomaru said the village would be.

"Wait for me!" Jaken shouted after them. "Why am I always getting left behind?!"

The next chapter will be better. It is already in progress so please don't attack me for the long waits. I shortened this and uploaded it earlier to hold you guys over. I hope you likey! Please leave me a review! Your comments always fuel my writing abilities. Not meaning to bribe but it's simply the truth. Hope you all are still with me. Your support has really made writing this fiction so enjoyable.