A year and a half. Wow. I never expected to take this long between chapters. I'll be honest; I've had this actually written in a notebook since mid-2003, but getting me and a working computer together to type this up has been a bit of a challenge. I rushed the edited version of Chapter 4 and regret it, so I want to get Chapter 5 right by way of apology.

What is now "Chapter 5" took me by complete surprise. I had some vague ideas past chapter 4, but nothing concrete. Now, almost two years later, I have the entire story planned out, with snippets written down on various pieces of paper as inspiration hit. I'm not floundering anymore, and I'm very thankful for that.

My deepest thanks go to my reviewers.. especially Ithilwen and AnimeRebel02 who made me realize that my lemon was actually a pivotal event (originally it was the end, AHEM), and that "Chapter 5" made no sense without it being implied that something had happened. You'll know what I mean once you read it.

In a nutshell, the story got away from me, but now it's firmly bridled and lets me ride. Sometimes. When other plot bunnies don't scare it off. wields her Pink Moon Stick

Now, at long last, the story continues!

Rating: PG-13 for some coarse language and sexual innuendo. But it ain't gonna stay this tame for long, folks.

Pairing: Primarily IY/Kag, with some Sess/Kag and IY/Kik situations along the way.

Disclaimer: Inu Yasha, Kagome, Shippo, and Sesshoumaru don't belong to me.. they are Takahashi Rumiko's. Tanagura, Amoi, hovercars and all that other stuff from the "Ai no Kusabi" world are Yoshihara Rieko's. The satellite city of Demeter, however, does belong to me and my friend Ceilyn. And Abe's mine, but I don't know of anybody else who'd want him anyway. ;)

Ai no Koinu

By Elora

Chapter 5

"What was fast?"

Inu Yasha looked up at the sound of Kagome's voice and started to reply, but the words caught in his throat. Somehow in the time it had taken him to retrieve the package, Kagome had snuck out of the bathroom to her bedroom and changed. She now wore a dark red dress in a style that was simple, but suited her very well.

The material of the dress was slightly stretchy, with flaps of fabric like tulip petals making short sleeves, and a scoop neck just low enough to give a tantalizing hint of cleavage. The top was snug, but the bottom flowed out into a full skirt that fell just above her knees. From the cut of that skirt, if she twirled around fast enough…

"What do you think?" she asked, doing just that.

The skirt whirled out, just barely concealing her underwear, if she was wearing any.

At his silence, Kagome stopped twirling and her face fell. "You don't like it? I'm sorry. Shippo said you liked red…"

"Where did you get that?" Inu Yasha demanded.

Kagome lowered her head, clasping her hands behind her back dejectedly. "It was in one of the catalogues Shippo brought me. I can send it back."

"No, no, you don't have to do that," the silverhair cut her off, trying to find a way to voice his true opinion. "You just surprised me. It's not like the stuff you usually wear." He thought back to the blouses, tank tops, and cardigans with regular skirts or pants she seemed to prefer. He knew Sesshoumaru would lecture his ears off if it were ever discovered that he liked to keep his Pet CLOTHED, but he really didn't care. If it made Kagome comfortable, then it was worth the risk.

The Pet blushed, finally realizing that her master's silence was far from disapproving. More like admiring…

Inu Yasha finally woke himself up from his trance by shaking his head. There was no more time for fantasizing. He really should put on something more than a towel. He strode over to her and thrust the package into her hands. "This is for you, but don't open it until I get back," he told her, then brushed by, making a beeline for his room.

Kagome's eyes widened. "For me?" she pondered. The name on the package was the silverhair's, but what could possibly be inside it? She tried not to let her imagination run away with her, but it was a losing battle, and when Inu Yasha came back, he caught her with a naughty grin on her face.

"Okay, what are you up to, wench?" he asked, raising one eyebrow slightly, but the smile on his face taking the sting out of his words.

She continued to beam at him. "Just thinking about what could be in here," she told him, her eyes telling him far more about the train of her thoughts than her voice.

He felt the rising heat of a blush start to glow in his cheeks, especially in lieu of what had happened just a short time ago. "It's nothing like that. Go ahead and open it."

"Aw shucks," came Kagome's teasing reply before she applied herself to finding a free end of tape.

"Shucks? Did she just say 'shucks'?" Inu Yasha thought to himself. His eyes narrowed slightly as he looked her over. There were only a handful of people he had ever heard say that, and they were all…

"Oh my!" Kagome exclaimed, having finally found her way into the package, the brown paper falling away to reveal a small box covered in velvet the color of red wine. "What in the world..?"

"Open it and find out," Inu Yasha coaxed.

Kagome nodded in compliance, then carefully lifted the lid.

Inside lay a deceptively simple, yet very pretty, bracelet with some kind of silver metal wrought in the shape of many-petaled flowers, the petals themselves being carved out of some kind of crystalline gem.

"I.. it's beautiful," the Pet stammered. "But why?"

"It's actually your tracking bracelet. I just had it modified. The normal ones are so plain. They look like slave chains." His face twisted. "I don't want people treating you like they normally would, and if they saw a regular tracking bracelet.." he shrugged eloquently.

Kagome was stunned by the enormity of his gift and the risk he was taking. "But what if Sesshoumaru-sama finds out?"

"He won't like it one bit. But it does function as a regular tracking bracelet, so I'm perfectly within the law. It's deviant, but not dangerously so."


"That's enough, Kagome," he snapped. "Just say 'thank you' and put it on."

Kagome bit her lip, but did as she was told, taking the jewelry out and handing her master the box. She draped the creation around her wrist, locking the clasp with a satisfying SNAP. Inu Yasha accepted the box and pulled out a microchip that was hidden underneath the display pillows inside. He put the box back together, set it down, then raised his arm to slide one panel of the bracer around his left wrist back to install the tracker. Once he was finished, he looked up to see Kagome still staring at the bracelet.

"If you really hate it that much, I can replace it," he bit out.

Kagome raised her head to look him in the eye, surprise plain on her face. "No, it's beautiful. I've just never had something like this, and I.. I'm worried about you." She looked off to the side, a blush coming to her cheeks.

"Keh," he snorted, "is that all? Look, I can take care of myself."

"I know, but.. but.." He caught a scent of tears. "I can't help it!" Kagome burst out, her eyes brimming.

For a split second, the suspicious side of his nature got the better of him. "She's just worried about going to a different master if you're brainwashed," it whispered in his ear. But all he needed was one look in her deep, watery eyes to see that her concern really was entirely on his behalf.

"Come on, don't cry about it," he rebuked her, but in contrast to his voice, his hands came up and cupped her cheeks, his thumbs pressing under her eyes to free the droplets there, then catch them and wipe them away as they fell. "I can't take you out if your face is all red and puffy."

Kagome blinked, slightly confused not only by his words, but the paradox he was presenting himself to be. "Out?" she echoed, trying to understand what he meant.

Inu Yasha let his hands drop to her shoulders, but the softness in his touch transferred to his eyes. "I just thought you might be getting bored being cooped up in here, so since you have a tracker on now, you can go out, and I was going to ask if you wanted to take a trip with me."

Kagome couldn't believe she was hearing him right. "You want to take me out? But why? Besides, Pets are not supposed to just wander around with their masters!"

"Hence the bracelet," he interrupted, looking down at her not unkindly. "To the casual passerby, they'll only stare at the fact that a silverhair is in the company of a blackhair."

"You've had this planned..?"

Inu Yasha didn't give her a chance to finish as he turned his back on her and walked toward the door. When he was halfway across the room, he called over his shoulder, "If you wanna come, follow me now. Otherwise, you can just stay here."

A tiny flame of indignation lighted in Kagome's eyes as she strode over to her master. As soon as she was roughly four paces behind him, he continued walking until he reached the door and it slid open in response to the code he keyed in.

Kagome shortened the distance to two paces, following the silverhair out and down the hall to the elevator. They got into the small compartment, and as soon as the door closed, Inu Yasha smirked. "I was beginning to think you didn't like surprises."

"Oh shush," Kagome retorted, fighting the urge to cross her arms over her chest in annoyance.

When the doors opened up onto the lobby, they followed the Master and Pet rules. Inu Yasha took the lead, his Pet the minimum two steps behind. Inu Yasha could feel the eyes on him, and how they lingered on Kagome, undressing her in the forum of their fevered imaginations. Part of him wanted to growl, warning the others away. But he knew that if he did, it would betray the fact that he was developing actual feelings for the girl, which would win him a one-way ticket to behavior modification or worse. So he just kept his eyes fixed forward, staring at the door like the lifeline it was.

As soon as they reached the street, they both took a deep breath in relief. They waited until they were a good two blocks away before calmly striding into an alley.

When they were out of the sight of the common crowd, Inu Yasha stopped and turned, already braced for Kagome, who walked into him a split second later.

The Pet looked up, about to apologize, when she found herself crushed against the very warm and solid chest of her master. His arms were tight around her, and his head lowered to bury his nose in her hair. Kagome settled in to savor the moment, even though she wondered what had brought it on.

Then she remembered the stares in the lobby. It must have stretched Inu Yasha's volatile self-control to the limit to keep from openly staking his claim on her heart in response to the desirous expressions on the faces of his building-mates. But now, away from all eyes, he could give in to the impulse.

She slid her arms up and around his waist to return the embrace, squeezing just as tightly, unspoken acknowledgement of his emotions and a reassurance that she felt the same.

They stayed that way for several moments until Inu Yasha regretfully pulled away. Kagome stared up at him, her eyes shining and her cheeks pink, the crown of her head slightly rough-looking from where his chin had rested on it.

"Now I think we're ready," he said with a smile. "I will be playing the arrogant silverhair."

Kagome grinned, quickly catching onto the ruse. "And I will be the pretty but empty-headed lower-class toy, right?"

Inu Yasha nodded. "That's the only way."

"It's all right," Kagome finished. She gave him a genuine smile, then stepped to the side and grabbed his arm in both of hers, clinging to him like any common leech and gazing up at him with such hollow admiration that he had to take a minute to get the impulse to laugh under control.

"You're good," he rumbled in an undertone.

Kagome blinked, seemingly confused. "That's what people tell me."

Inu Yasha lost the battle and started chortling, making Kagome giggle wholeheartedly. Then he took a deep breath and snapped his silverhair mask firmly into place before making his way out of the alley. Kagome easily fell into step beside him.

The two casually strolled out of the alleyway, as if they had just stopped there for a brief moment of indiscretion. Apparently they looked the part, judging by the disapproving headshakes and stifled chuckles of the people who passed them. Between Kagome's flushed and rumpled appearance and Inu Yasha's studied obliviousness to it, anyone walking by could easily see what they thought to be a very transparent play of silverhair nonchalance.

Even the taxi driver seemed to share in the fabricated joke after Inu Yasha hailed him and then handed Kagome into the conveyance. The "blackhair" let her skirt ride up to mid-thigh as she slid over to make room for her companion. The silverhair glared at her disapprovingly, but took the seat she offered nonetheless. It would have been a serious breach of protocol if the driver let his amusement show on his face, but the air inside the vehicle was charged with merriment.

Pretending he didn't feel it at all, Inu Yasha directed the taxi to the Flare district. He didn't dare take Kagome too far into the heart of Tanagura. The more higher-class the area, the more likely it was that their charade would be uncovered. But Flare primarily served the lower classes of citizens, so it would be easy to make the excuse that his companion would be more comfortable there and he was indulging her.

When the hovercar finally stopped at their destination, Inu Yasha paid the driver, then opened the door and slid out onto the sidewalk with fluid grace. Kagome followed in what would have been a graceful manner, except for the enthusiastic bounces she inserted, both conveying her excitement and drawing attention to her chest.

The silverhair narrowed his eyes at his companion, and she gave him a dazzling smile in return. With a long-suffering sigh, he began the journey, Kagome latching onto his arm again.

At least, until they began to walk past a huge department store with a picture window that stretched from the sidewalk to the second floor and nearly filled the entire wall widthwise.

Kagome's eyes grew wide and she let go of her partner's arm to rush closer to the glass, ostensibly admiring the gaudy outfit in the window. But Inu Yasha could see in her reflection that she was staring at the showroom beyond, her eyes full of excitement, longing, and a touch of fear.

He knew that Pets were not allowed to go to stores and shop, so a place as large as that one would overwhelm her. Not to mention, the clerks would see right through their façade when his dark-haired "plaything" stood in the middle of the aisles gaping as if she'd never been in a store in her life, and would respond to their helpful questions with a look of confusion.

He winced inwardly at the harshness of the words that formed on his tongue, but he had no choice.

"You are making a scene," he rebuked her, using his best Sesshoumaru impression, praying she'd remember he was only pretending to be a typical silverhair.

The Pet turned, her eyes full of shocked hurt until she mentally slapped herself. "He was just playing his role," she thought. Her belief was corroborated by the twinge of regret she saw in the depths of her lover's gold eyes. So, she had better keep in character, too! "But.. Inu Yasha-sama…" she pouted.

Inu Yasha gave a mental sigh of relief as he saw the hurt on Kagome's face change to comprehension, then all semblance of intelligence drain away. He raised an eyebrow; similar to the way Sesshoumaru did when he was being contradicted. "You have enough clothing."

"Buuuuuuuuut," she wheedled, her eyes going limpid and starry.

Her master approached her and slid one arm about her shoulders, his fingers closing around her upper arm and squeezing as he led her away by the sheer force of his confining embrace as he walked farther from the source of temptation.

"I am sure we can find some other place to indulge your whims. Perhaps something to match that gift I presented you with earlier."

Kagome's eyes grew wide before she recovered enough to beam. "Inu Yasha-sama!" she cried joyfully.

They continued to walk, his arm apparently around her to keep her from doing more window-shopping. However, Inu Yasha was honestly worried about their narrow escape. He had heard of a place from one of his contacts that sounded more like what she would need, and where they would both be comfortable. If only he could find it…

Meanwhile, Kagome simply nestled into his embrace. She could feel the heat radiating from his body, which in turn made warmth come into her cheeks as she thought about that morning and images of his naked form flashed into her mind.

The silverhair could almost feel her start to become aroused, never mind his nose catching the shift in her scent. But he did not dare let go. Fortunately, if the directions he had been given were correct, the store he was searching for should be close by. So he steeled himself to fight the impulses his lover's reactions were causing.

Finally, they stopped in front of a rather dilapidated shop with a weathered wooden sign, the store name having been worn off by years of wind and polluted rain. The door itself was glass and metal, but the windows were curtained off from the inside. The only sign that this was actually an expensive store lay in the wood paneling that had been nailed over the sheet metal that had originally covered the building and continued to do so from the second floor up. The wood had to be imported from the satellite city of Demeter, and thus must have cost a small fortune.

"Here we are," Inu Yasha announced, finally releasing his companion. He strode over to the door and pulled the handle toward him, opening the portal wide. "After you," he invited.

Kagome stepped forward timidly, the role she was playing all but forgotten. As soon as she entered, her heels sank slightly into the rich, brown shag rug that covered the entire floor. She stood mesmerized, drinking in the tiny shop hungrily.

Inu Yasha let himself in, sliding around the awestruck Pet. As he took in Kagome's expression, he was very glad that he had decided to take her here. The dark-haired girl jumped a little as he leaned over and placed his lips near her ear. "Go ahead and look around a little," he whispered.

Kagome turned toward him to nod, then felt him lean in even closer. So close, in fact, that his lips touched hers and captured them, sneaking in one more moment of illicit pleasure.

"So, are you two going to just keep necking in my doorway, or did you actually come to buy something?" a creaky old voice dryly reprimanded.

Kagome gasped and broke the kiss to turn a lovely shade of tomato red and suddenly find her shoes to be a most fascinating thing.

But Inu Yasha had no such modesty and grinned rakishly. "How about both?"

"Humph," the voice replied. "Young people nowadays, I swear." A set of curtains that had been draped to blend in with the grain of the wooden walls was flung back as a wizened old man tottered out to the showroom. Then he looked up and saw the nature of his guests. His faded blue eyes grew wide in fear. "A.. a silverhair!"

"Keh. You've got nothing to fear from me. I'm just here to let her do some shopping," Inu Yasha gestured to Kagome.

"Begging your pardon, sir. I meant no disrespect."

"Oh yes, you did. I don't care about rudeness, but lying," his eyes flashed dangerously, "is another story."

The proprietor gulped. "Y.. yes, sir."

Then the silverhair turned a warm smile on his lover. "Go ahead, Kagome. Pick out something you like."

The Pet hesitated for a moment more before taking a few tentative steps toward a glass case filled with sparkling jewels. She had seen such riches before, of course, adorning the necks, wrists, ankles, and fingers of favored Pets, but never so many at one time, and not under the dazzling light of a display.

Yet, none of the myriad of sparkling colors caught her attention beyond the initial glitter. They were either too small, or somehow seemed flawed. She eventually turned her attention to the other huge transparent display case.

This one held more simple jewelry, the primary stones clear or translucent with tiny flecks of color. Other pieces had no jewels whatsoever and shone with their own particular metallic gleam.

The proprietor was starting to wring his hands, fearing the declaration that nothing was good enough. He was used to serving redhairs, not silverhairs and their mysteriously dark-haired playthings.

Finally, Kagome's eyes lit upon a piece that caught her attention. She leaned forward, practically pressing her nose to the glass in an attempt to make sure she wasn't just seeing things.

Inu Yasha, who had been standing casually in the center of the room and amusing himself by watching both Kagome and the owner, noted his lover's interest and walked over to her.

Sensing him behind her, Kagome spoke without turning. "Don't those look like they match my bracelet?"

Inu Yasha came up beside her and looked in the general direction she was staring in. He blinked as he realized she was right. It must be another part of the same set! Against a black velvet cushion laid a pair of earrings, each one a perfect flower, as if someone had taken two links off of Kagome's bracelet and put them there.

"Would you like them?" he asked, turning his head to face her.

"Mm-hm!" she responded, unconsciously mimicking him.

Inu Yasha straightened and fixed his eyes on the old man. "I think we've found something."

"Y.. yes, sir. Right away," the man groveled and made his way over to the display. When he reached to unlock the case, Inu Yasha could see the owner's hand shaking, and he knew it wasn't from age.

The internal debate took only a split second to resolve. He HATED when people were scared of him just because of his hair color, and it was blatantly obvious that the shopkeeper had acquired the earrings from the same source he himself had gotten Kagome's bracelet. Which would explain the recommendation he had been given. It also meant that the old man could be trusted. Confident in his decision, Inu Yasha dropped his mask entirely. "Oh cut the toadying bullshit, will ya?" he sighed in exasperation, rolling his eyes for punctuation.

The keys to the case dropped to the floor as the shopkeeper's whole body froze. He gaped in complete and utter shock at the swift, completely abnormal change. Then he squinted, trying to make out the roots of his customer's hair.

Inu Yasha leaned over the counter, bracing one elbow on top of it. The other hand grabbed one of his forelocks and waved the end carelessly between his middle and index fingers. "Yeah, this is real. We might have an acquaintance in common, but hair dye isn't one of the things I buy from him."

Defiance etched itself into the folds of the shopkeeper's weathered face. "What are you talking about?"

Inu Yasha stood up, took Kagome's forearm in his free hand, and held it up so that the older man could see the bracelet around her wrist. "Your earrings match this bracelet," he said meaningfully. "Which, of course, is why I want to buy them."

The shopkeeper's eyes shifted once more from shock to suspicion, then he shrugged as if brushing the whole thing off. "They were just some things a black cat found in the garbage."

"Yet one cat's trash is another cat's treasure."

Kagome watched the exchange with interest, feeling the tension grow more and more oppressive until it suddenly dissipated with Inu Yasha's last words. The old man's shoulders relaxed and he stuck his hands in his pockets as he surveyed the silverhair. "Well, I'll be damned," he murmured.

Inu Yasha smirked. "Not until I've bought those earrings, old man."

The proprietor finally broke out in a nearly toothless grin. "Wouldn't have it any other way."

Now it was Inu Yasha's turn to look surprised. He covered it quickly, but not fast enough to keep the shopkeeper from seeing. The old man winked, then bent to pick up his keys. He deftly rose and unlocked the case before pocketing the keys and pushing the protective glass panel aside.

He drew out the pillow that the earrings rested on with great care, then set it before Kagome. The Pet was surprised to see humor in the depths of the old man's eyes, and something akin to affection. "Would you like to try them on?" he asked.

"Y.. yes, sir," Kagome stuttered.

The shopkeeper blushed. "I've never been a 'sir'. Just call me Abe."

"Okay," the girl replied as she nodded. "Abe."

The proprietor smiled even wider as Kagome reached up to take out the flesh-toned studs that she wore every day. She put them in a pocket of her dress, then reached for the jeweled flowers.

Both men watched her with a natural fascination. To put the new earrings in, she had to flip her hair back, then one hip jutted out, and her eyes turned introspective as she concentrated on putting the small post through her ear piercing. They mentally shook themselves awake just before she finished.

She turned her head from side to side. "How do they look?" she asked her companion.

Inu Yasha nodded in approval. "Good. Really good," he told her.

Kagome blushed and smiled. "Thank you."

The silverhair turned to the third person in the room. "How much do I owe you?"

"I admit it's tempting to say 'nothing', considering how good they look on her, but I do have bills to pay," the old man told him. "Shall we say.. 1 million credits?"

"You're still walking away with a hefty profit, old man," Inu Yasha challenged.

"The only way to do business," the shopkeeper countered.

Inu Yasha would have stayed and haggled, but he knew that it would make Kagome uncomfortable, since she probably would not understand what was going on. With a grudging sigh, he pulled out his wallet. "I'll get you back later," he threatened.

"I'll be looking forward to it," the old man said with another grin as he accepted the payment. "But for today, have fun. And missy," he fixed his faded blue gaze on Kagome, "keep an eye on this one so he doesn't try anything funny."

Kagome's thoughts immediately flew once again to that morning, and a light, proud flush came to her cheeks.

"I'm more worried about HER pulling something," the silverhair jerked his thumb in his Pet's direction. "And you would, too, if you knew her."

"Inu Ya…"

"I'm not surprised," the shopkeeper winked. "I should have realized that, a fiery young woman like yours…"

Kagome's blush went deeper. "Well, I guess if you two are going to talk about me even though I'm standing right here, I'll leave you to it," she informed the two men, trying in vain to hide that she was slightly embarrassed.

As the young woman exited out onto the street, the two men looked at each other, then burst out laughing.

"I haven't seen a girl that lively in a long time," the shopkeeper wheezed, trying to catch his breath.

Inu Yasha breathed deeply to get air back into his lungs. "That's one of the reasons she's living with me now," he confessed. Then he took on a very serious expression. "And I intend to make sure she stays there."

The proprietor nodded. "You're a strange one, most definitely. All I can do is wish you luck."

"Thanks," Inu Yasha nodded. "I think I'm going to need it. I'll see you later. There's a girl outside waiting for me." He strode away, raising his hand in farewell.

As soon as the door had shut behind him, the old man let out a speculative sigh. "There's no THINK about it, boy. Be careful. VERY careful."

The wind felt good against Kagome's heated face. It caressed her gently, cooling her skin until only a hint of her blush remained. It also encouraged her to breathe and take a minute to think. She was a Pet, there was no reason for her to blush when others talked of her sexual exploits. But with Inu Yasha it had been an incredibly tender, intimate encounter. She had coupled with him as a woman, not a Pet. So it was as a woman she was reacting now. Even a month ago, she never would have dreamed that she would be in such a position. She was far happier than she felt she had a right to be. The man who was her "master" was kind and gentle. Well, he could be abrasive, but that was just to hide the softness inside. She was still technically a Pet, but today, she felt much more like a citizen, someone who was treated with respect. Well, mostly. Any disrespect was heavily laced with affection.

Just a little bit ago, she had been headed for the isolated prison camp known as Ranaya Uugo. Now she was cared for. Maybe even.. dared she even think of it.. loved?

She heard the shop door open behind her and a pair of strong arms enfolded her. She nestled into the solid, recognizable warmth at her back. "I think the shopkeeper was right the first time."

There was a rumble in Inu Yasha's chest that sounded quite a bit like suppressed laughter. "If he looks out his window, he'll know that," the silverhair retorted.

"Much as I'm enjoying this," Kagome told him before squeezing his forearms, then ducking below them. She twirled around to face her lover, standing on tiptoe to land a kiss on the tip of his nose before he could recover. "You're supposed to be acting like a silverhair."

Inu Yasha's eyes widened in alarm before they hardened. "Dammit, bitch, look what you do to me!" he muttered.

"Let's keep shopping, Inu Yasha-samaaaa!" Kagome trilled, skipping backward a few steps and clasping her hands behind her back before turning around to lead the way, pretending for the moment that she hadn't heard for the sake of recovering their former charade.

The silverhair's hands fisted at his sides in frustrated exasperation. He forced himself to follow in his Pet's footsteps, walking stiffly and almost like one of his position should, except for the angry tension that pulled his muscles taut and made his eyes blaze. He clenched his jaw, pretending he didn't know the airheaded creature before him. A silverhair would NEVER willingly walk BEHIND a blackhair.

Of course, with his emotions ruling his mind, it never occurred to him that if anybody had actually been watching, their cover had already been blown.

He was so engrossed with the string of epithets running through his head that he almost walked right by the object of his irritation.. who was once again standing before a glass window. But this time, her nose was nearly pressed against it.

What stopped him was the high-pitched squeal, "They're soooooo cute!"

Inu Yasha jerked back as if some master puppeteer had taken the strings and dragged him in that direction. Cautiously, he approached her and tried to peer around her shoulder to see what she was so excited about.

Specially-made soundproof glass muted the creature on the other side, but nothing could dampen the excited movements as jaws yapped and a tail wagged so hard, Inu Yasha briefly wondered if it was going to fly off. Between silent barks, its tongue lolled out, dying to slobber all over the kind face looking in.

And Kagome wasn't helping matters with her coos and babytalk, as if the puppy on the other side could hear her.

Inu Yasha caught the sensation of the tips of his ears drooping and growled to himself. It was all he could do not to snap 'it's just a stupid dog' as he felt unreasonable jealousy flare instinctively. He wanted to bark in reply, convey to the silly pup that the dark-pelted bitch was his! HIS!

Then he realized the impulse that was attempting to take over his senses, and mentally reeled back. What was he THINKING? He was a silverhair, an elite of Eos…

Whose distant ancestor had chosen to combine human DNA with choice elements of dog DNA to enhance his offspring's senses of hearing and smell.

Until now he, like that puppy, had been kept in a plastic, soundproof room safe from harm. He had stayed inside, although he'd been occasionally permitted to have a little freedom by putting on a show of rebellion. But the girl before him, Kagome, had led him to this pass. He was outside. He was tasting a bit of true freedom, if only for an afternoon, and already he was being forced to face his own base instincts and weaknesses.

He didn't even hear Kagome calling his name until a note of panic entered her voice. "Inu Yasha?"

"Hmm?" he eloquently responded.

The Pet's warm brown eyes held pure worry in them. She'd known Inu Yasha was behind her as she played with the puppy, but his unnatural silence finally got the better of her. She turned to see his tormented golden eyes staring at some point near the top of the window, his hands clenched into fists at his sides. She now held one fist in both her own hands. "Are you all right?"

"No, I'm not," was what he really wanted to tell her, but what came out was the much more cryptic, "I think you only like me for my ears." And even that was more of a mumble under his breath.

But his lover heard the comment. Something was bothering him, she could tell. However, she decided not to press the issue. He would tell her when the time was right. He was already giving her so much, the least she could do was give him some time to straighten out his thoughts. She opted to lighten the mood instead.

"Aww.. but they're so cute!" Kagome grinned, standing on tiptoe to 'scratch' between his ears. "Good doggie."

"Stop treating me like a dog!" he growled, but there was very little menace in it as he instinctively leaned into her caress.

Kagome bit back several retorts that bubbled up to her lips. She needed to calm him down, not rile him up even more. She let her hand move over until she found the edge of his ear and started to rub it.

Inu Yasha felt a calming, exciting shiver roll down his spine at his lover's ministrations, but he knew he had to put a stop to it. They HAD to be making a scene. But more importantly, a few minutes more, and everybody would know how happy Kagome made him.

The silverhair gently ducked his head away from his Pet's fingers and stood up straight. He grabbed her hand and brought it to his lips in apology. "Later," he told her.

Kagome's eyes sparkled with anticipation. "I'll hold you to that," she said with a wink.

"Good," was Inu Yasha's response. "Now let's keep going."

Kagome nodded and threaded her arm through his, resuming the position she had claimed at the beginning of their adventure. "Lead on, oh wondrous Master," she smiled.

"Oh shut up," came the reply, a hint of color coming into the silverhair's cheeks.

"I never realized that ice cream could be sexy," Inu Yasha thought as he nursed his cinnamon coffee in an attempt to keep his hands off his dining partner.

The couple had spent nearly another hour simply wandering around, Kagome staying right by her Master's side now, just letting her eyes wander and take in all the sights. Finally, after many painful complaints from feet unused to such exercise, they came across a small cafe where they could give in to the demands. As soon as they had sat down at one of the wrought aluminum tables, a waiter had bustled up to them with much bowing and scraping, apologizing that they had nothing more suited to a silverhair.

Inu Yasha ignored him in favor of looking over the menu.

The man eventually ran out of apologies and recommendations, and in the silence that followed, his inexperience showed as he unconsciously started shifting from foot to foot.

Kagome had already made her decision, and she watched the waiter with both amusement and sympathy. Inu Yasha had probably already made up his mind.. he was looking at the servant out of the corner of his eye, but was indulging in a rare moment of enjoying his status.

After another minute or so, the silverhair ordered his coffee and his Pet ordered a marshmallow sundae.

And he would swear she chose that particular confection on purpose.

Her eyes were half-closed in obvious delight as she licked the white, sticky substance from her spoon, then dove back in for more. The fact an unconscious "mmm" issued from her throat every time she finished a spoonful didn't help, either.

His coffee was cold by the time she finished, but the heat had seeped into his body, bringing color to his cheeks and making him once again curse Tanagura fashion. It would be a little while before he could safely stand up.

"You've been awfully quiet," Kagome noted, studying the cherry that was the only remnant of her sundae. "Are you all right?"

"You know I'm not, wench," Inu Yasha growled.

"I do?" the Pet innocently raised an eyebrow, then popped the cherry into her mouth, keeping her fingers on the stem.

"Don't try and play innocent with me, Kagome. I know better," he challenged.

"Really?" She pulled the cherry out of her mouth slowly, then sucked it back in, draining it of juice.

"Yes, really." Now his voice had gone hoarse, watching her mouth play with the fleshy, red fruit.

Kagome winked at him and pulled the cherry out of her mouth. "This certainly is a rousing conversation. Where has the arrogant, composed silverhair gone?" She took the stem between her teeth, dangling the fruit from her lips.

Inu Yasha lunged forward over the table, just barely missing the porcelain cup in front of him. "Right here," he growled, the words coming from deep in his throat as he pushed his face right within a hair's breadth of her own…

And neatly bit the cherry off its stem.

The silverhair returned to his seat, his lips quirked into a satisfied smirk as he parted them slightly to reveal his prize.

"No fair!" Kagome cried.

Inu Yasha rolled the fruit into one cheek so he could retort, "Life's not fair, bitch."

"My, my, such uncouth language. Then again, it does match the obscene display that I was just forced to witness."

Both heads, one silver, one dark, snapped up and to the side at the exact same time, the panic and guilt of being caught shining in both pairs of eyes. Inu Yasha was the first to recover, the brilliant yellow of his irises sharpening into defiant marigold as he gritted out:


To be continued...

Author's Note: walks out wearing a flame resistant suit with chain mail over it, and a space suit over all that.

First, I must grovel and beg for forgiveness. It's been a rough year and a half, I'll tell you. In November of 2002, my grandfather's health began to fail. He passed away in January of 2003. Then just as I was coming out of grief, in August of 2003, my best friend needed me to help piece together his life. He's finally on the road to recovery. So now I have a tiny bit more time to work on fics as the muse strikes (YAY!).

And after all this time, I leave you guys with a cliffhanger. evil grin It.. it just seemed a good place to end the chapter! Don't worry, though. More is on the way! pats her notebook with a sneaky grin on her face

Of course, if you would like to review, please, please do! I should just start calling them "Writer Snacks". You know, like "Scooby Snacks"? I live on them! I like praise. Constructive criticism is wonderful! Flames will be used to make S'mores. Mmmm....