Downloaded and reformatted by: Dark Light
Originally written by: Leloi
Archived with other formats at: http://www.angelfire.com/wizard/rmsrealm/fanfics/index.html
Downloaded from: The Inuyasha Fanfiction of Doom Club
(the link to this fanfic has disappeared from the Inuyasha Fanfiction of Doom Club website, but it can still be found in its original form on their account at: http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Circuit/3668/heat.html )

Heat by Leloi


Inu Yasha watched with borderline fascination as Kagome went about her nightly ritual.  He had watched it countless times in the past two years and it never deviated from its form.  When she was ready for bed she would rise, ruffle through her equipment, find her strange bedding, snap it out and yawn loudly.  This would cue Shippou, the fox child demon to bounce into the bedding as she removed her shoes and followed him in.  Shippou curled up beside her as she called out, “Good night Inu Yasha, Shippou, Myouga…” or variations thereof depending on who was travelling with them.

The others always chorused a response.

Inu Yasha always grumped.

It was a time-honored tradition, perfected with age.  If it ever deviated from its form there was sure to be some chaos in the night.

Inu Yasha settled back onto his tree branch.  He allowed his eyes to rest on his charge.  Her face was slack with attempted sleep.  His eyes followed every curve of her face.  He enjoyed these little moments when he could watch her without her knowledge.  She always got so defensive…

A strange scent brushed his nose.  It held the smell of demon.  Quietly he hopped down from his lookout perch and began to follow his nose to the intruders.  As an afterthought he turned back and retraced his steps.  He took off his indestructible outer robe and carefully placed it over his sleeping charge.  With a tiny smile he returned to his quarry.

Through the bushes that surrounded the encampment and over the hill, the scent grew stronger in the cool night air.  Two distinct demon scents mingled with a third.  Inu Yasha gulped as he carefully made his way to the crown of the hill.  He averted his eyes for a moment from the spectacle of two demons, rutting in the moonlight.  Inu Yasha cringed as he recognized the third scent.  It sent his body racing with a strange mix of anticipation and frustration.  It was the scent of demons in heat.  He had only been in heat a few times in his lifetime.  All those times had been sparked by the scent of another demon in heat.  He covered his nose and slowly backed away.  The grunts and moans rang in his ears even after he lost sight of them.  Demons rutting could not be good, demon spawn was sure to follow.  His body tingled with sensitivity.  “Please, not now…” he breathed as he retraced his steps back to the camp.  He had to wake Kagome and get her away from this place… all while ignoring his hormones. 

He jumped over the last set of bushes and looked around the empty clearing.  He stared, puzzled by the emptiness.  It had to be the right clearing.  There were the remains of the fire.  His robe lay crumbled on the ground, but his companions were missing.

A chubby rabbit caught his eye as it cowered in the bushes.  It popped into the fox boy’s form.  “Oh, it’s horrible.  It took Kagome!”

“What took Kagome?” Inu Yasha demanded of the whimpering demon child.  Something small bounced on his shoulder.

“It was a big bloodsucker, my lord,” Myouga wailed.

“Why couldn’t you stay with her, you coward?”  Inu Yasha seethed as he flicked the flea demon off of his shoulder.  He lifted his nose and caught Kagome’s scent.  He chased after it.

Around him the forest whispered, “Poor half-breed, his woman was taken away.”

Inu Yasha skid to a halt at the strong scent of blood.  The leaves on the bushes before him were covered with a sticky red.  He tasted it… blood… Kagome’s.  His body quickened in its anticipation.  “Stop it!  I have to fight,” he chastised himself.  He hated being in heat.  There was never any relief for a half-demon.  Demonesses would kill him, half-demonesses were rare (if they actually existed) and full-blooded women feared him.  That left no one to quell his need.  He frowned at his distraction.  “Come out!” he demanded from the bush.

A black shape lumbered forward, through the bush.  It had a human-like face with sharp fangs, which were plunged in Kagome’s neck.  Kagome’s eyes were open but vacant.  The blood-drinking demon stopped its suckling and frowned at Inu Yasha, mouth dripping with Kagome’s blood.  “I need the jewel!”

“Give her back, you asshole!”

“Poor half-breed, in heat without your woman to…”

Inu Yasha scowled.  He pulled out his sword and slashed the bloodsucker from neck to hip.  “Never say that!” he screamed as the monster fell into two pieces at his feet.  Inu Yasha leaned forward and caught Kagome’s limp body before she could fall.  Her scent made him stagger as his body revolted against his mind.

“She’s lost a lot of blood,” Myouga said critically from his place at his lord’s shoulder.

“I need to get her somewhere safe,” Inu Yasha said as he angrily kicked the body of the monster at his feet.  He arranged Kagome in his arms and began to run with Myouga and Shippou at his heels.  He followed his nose to a place without demon scent.

There had been a cave a few kilometers back down the path.  He made a beeline for it, hoping it would offer at least a night of safety.  If he didn’t hurry, Kagome would… He angrily pushed the thought from his mind.

“The half-breed’s little witch is dying.  Who will he fight for when his mate is gone?” the bushes and trees rustled and giggled.

“Mate…” Inu Yasha frowned.  “She isn’t my mate yet…” With that thought he dived into the cave entrance.  “Stop it!” he growled to himself as he took in the scent of the cave.  He sensed no other demons besides himself and his two companions.  Kagome’s blood was sharp in his nose.  He carefully laid her on the ground.  He took off his outer robe and used his father’s sword to make a makeshift seal to the cave entrance.  The sword’s aura crackled and gave off a faint blue light.  Satisfied with the impromptu safety he returned to Kagome’s side.  Shippou sat by her head, looking worried.

“Is she going to die?” he asked in a little voice.

Inu Yasha scowled and backhanded the fox boy.

“No!” he said sharply as he sat and pulled Kagome into his lap.

“What are you going to do, my lord?  She’s lost too much blood,” Myouga whispered from the half-demon’s shoulder.

“The only thing I can do,” Inu Yasha replied.  It had to work.  It had worked before, but he hadn’t been prepared for the side effects… Mother died anyway.

Inu Yasha grunted and raised his hand to his lips.  With his sharp fangs he tore open his wrist.  With his other arm, he cradled Kagome’s head and placed his open wrist to her lips.  Only a few drops were needed.  He licked away the remaining blood from his already mending arm. 

“Ah, my lord… The demon’s kiss…” Myouga approved.

“Shut up,” Inu Yasha responded as he leaned forward to place his lips on her forehead.  They burned against her skin.  He closed his eyes and silently called to his blood now flowing in her veins.  “Take my strength.  Mend.  Take my power.”  He could sense his blood racing through her body.  It increased in volume and took the place of her missing blood.  His lips burned hotter as he called to his blood.  His body tingled in response.  Slowly he slid his lips down her nose to her cheek and then to her lips.  Some of his blood still lingered there.  He licked it away as he felt his demon power waning.  Unexpectedly he felt the raw emotions of his human side as it took over.

His body ached for release.  Images flashed in his mind of the demons rutting in the moonlight, like animals in wild abandon.  His body needed it, craved it.  He tasted blood and suddenly noticed that he had been biting her lip.  Her blood mingled with the taste of his own and together they rippled through his body.  He tore himself away in horror.  “Appease your desire!” his body sang.

“No!” he screamed as he fell back onto the ground.  His vision cleared and he slowly returned to his senses.  He stared at the cave ceiling as he gasped for air.

“He’s gone human on us, again… Stupid half-breed,” Shippou commented.

“My lord, can you hear me?” Myouga asked.

Inu Yasha turned his head to the voice to see the flea bouncing beside him.

“You’re in heat, aren’t you?” Myouga asked.

“How’d you guess, bug?” Inu Yasha half snorted.

“Because your demon kiss turned into the first step of the mating ritual,” Myouga chuckled.

Inu Yasha rolled his eyes.

“And your scent… changed.”

“Yeah well… I was affected by a pair of demons earlier tonight.”

“How… unfortunate,” Myouga sighed.

“Why?  Why is it unfortunate?” Inu Yasha demanded.

“Your human body won’t be able to resist the call…”

“What are the steps of the mating ritual?” Shippou asked quietly.  The older demons stared at him in shock.

“I…um… am not sure,” Inu Yasha frowned as he rolled over.

“The mating ritual, young demon, has been perfected over many millennium to ensure the progression of our race.  It begins with the exchange of power to balance the pairing… which is good, because otherwise the weaker demon can be killed.  This is generally why demons do not wish to mate with partial demons.  They lose power to those deemed unworthy…”

“Shut up!” Inu Yasha growled.  “You don’t have to tell him everything.”

“He needs to know eventually and so do you, my lord,” Myouga responded.  “Occasionally a demon will take a mortal mate.  Only the strongest mortals are chosen.  Other demons don’t like that and tend to kill the mortal or the half-demon produced from the union.”

Inu Yasha snorted in disgust.  Most of his childhood had been spent running away from such demons.  His mother was killed…

“It’s the truth, my lord,” Myouga protested.  “The second step is very important.  Demonesses don’t go into heat like male demons do.  They need to be prepared to receive the male’s…”

“Do we have to talk about this shit now?” Inu Yasha interrupted as he sat up.

“This is important, my lord… The female needs to be prepared to receive the male’s seed.”

“How does he do that?” Shippou asked, wide eyed.

“It depends on the demoness.  Some enjoy battle and others like to be tickled in the left armpit.  I knew one demoness who liked it when I…”

“Shut the fuck up!”  Inu Yasha snarled as he gathered Kagome in his arms and stood.  He turned his back on the other demons and faced the darkness of the inner cave.

“But demonesses are fickle.  They get bored and leave before the male is finished.  That’s why demons choose mortal women.  They have greater stamina,” Myouga completed with a chuckle.

Shippou’s laughter rang out with the flea demon’s.  “Did you see the look on his face when you said, ‘seed?’… Priceless!”

“All that blood rushing to his face,” Myouga replied.

“And other places.  Half demons are so easy to fluster.”

Inu Yasha grumbled at the echoing conversation as it followed him into the bowels of the cave.  All he wanted was peace and quiet for the rest of the night.  Kagome needed her rest so she could get better and not need him to watch over her.  Then he could disappear for a few days and deal with his little hormone problem without interruptions.  He tried to focus on the trickle of water he heard deeper inside the cave.  The trickle began to burble and splash.  A hole in the ceiling of the cave softly illuminated the cavern and allowed water to pour down from a small stream into a tiny waterfall.  He laid his charge down beside the pool of water at the base of the fall and tasted the water.  It seemed pure.  Carefully he dripped some against Kagome’s lips.  He touched her cheek and brushed her hair away from her forehead.

Kagome lay silent with no indication of waking anytime soon.  In the dim moonlight she looked deathly pale and her hair gleamed white.  The demon blood in her veins also lengthened her fingernails and made her ears pointy.  “Kagome,” Inu Yasha whispered.  “I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t have left you alone tonight.  Please come back to me.  The Shikkon Jewel is nearly complete.  We can use it to… If you’ll have me, that is.  I…” He didn’t want to complete his thought.  He knelt beside her and pulled her head onto his lap.  How long ago had she done the same for him?  Belatedly he struggled out of his inner robe and used it as a blanket to cover her.  He leaned back against a stalagmite and closed his eyes.

Sleep came fast as it always did, with the sounds of the water washing over him.

He was somewhere bathed in blue light.  He felt weightless.  Something in his peripheral vision caught his attention.  He turned his head and his hair swirled around him in slow motion.  Kikyo was beside him.  “Inu Yasha,” she whispered.

“Kikyo.”

“You promised.”

“What?”

“That we would live together… start a family and grow old…”

“Did I really promise all that?” Inu Yasha chuckled in amusement.

“I know what you truly wanted.  You know too.”

“I’m sorry,” he sighed.

“Don’t be.  You are in heat now, aren’t you?”

Inu Yasha made a face.  “How does everyone know that?” he grumbled.

“I’m part of your dream.  I know what you know.”

“R-right.”

The lighting shifted slowly to a red hue.

“Human males don’t go into heat,” Kikyo smiled as she drew closer to him.  She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled his head to hers.  Lips met and she delicately bit to draw blood.  “I want to feel your passion… As I should have when I was alive.”

Inu Yasha moaned as his blood began to race.  His arms held her close.

“Give me your soul…” Kikyo hissed.

“What?”  He snapped out of his daze and focused on her.  His blood was on her lips.

“Stay with me, here.  Fill your promise to me.”

“But… Kagome…”

“Forget her.  It’s me you loved,” Kikyo purred as she nuzzled his throat.  “All we need is the jewel…” She bit him… hard.

He cried out in response.  Kikyo was pulled away and someone screamed, “Get away from him, you bloodsucking bastard!”

Inu Yasha blinked and he was once more in the cavern.  A bloodsucker was crouched above him with Kagome on its back.  She shone with an unnatural light.  “Don’t touch him!” she screamed as she stabbed it in the back with her demon claws.

The bloodsucker trembled and went limp.  Its body wasted away into a pool of blood… Kagome’s blood.  Even with his demon senses dulled he still knew her blood scent.  It masked the bloodsucker’s own scent.

“Kagome,” Inu Yasha whispered, gazing at the young woman who was kneeling before him, staring at her hands in shock.

“Inu Yasha?  What happened to me?  I have claws.”

“A bloodsucker took you and drained you.  I thought I killed it, but apparently not.  I gave you my demon power to heal you.”

Kagome crawled on her hands and knees to the bloodied man.  “You are human… because of me?”

He nodded slowly in response.

“How long will it last?”

“For as long as you need it.  A few days I should think.  Then it will return to me.”

“Have you done this before?”

“Once… A long time ago.”  He shifted uncomfortably.

“Who for?”

“My mother,” he sighed and pushed himself up to stand.  “Eew!”  He scowled at the blood on his under robe and pants.

“But she…” Kagome began.

Inu Yasha shot her a pained look.  “She was killed before her healing was complete.  I couldn’t help her.”  He untied his pants and let them slide down his legs.

“What are you doing?”

“Washing these.  I get so dirty as a human,” he said as he pulled off his under robe.  He stood for a moment to stare at her, unmindful to his nudity.  “What’s wrong?  You look like you’ve never seen a naked man before.”

Kagome covered her eyes with her hands, immediately aware that she had been staring.  “I’m sorry.  I didn’t know that you were going to…”

“It’s alright.  I don’t mind you admiring my body,” he said with a smile as he stepped into the underground pool and shivered.  “Cold,” he grunted as he knelt in the water.

“Pervert,” Kagome sighed.

“You were the one looking at me,” he responded as he reached out for his clothes to rinse them.  The cold water against his loins felt good.  It pushed away the desire to mate.  Not that he would mind mating, but Kagome was in no shape to… He pushed the thought away angrily.  “Stop that, stupid.  You’re going to lose control and give in to your desire,” one part of his mind said.  “You undressed in front of her so she could see you naked…” another part whispered.  “Maybe you want to lose control and that’s why you did it.”  Inu Yasha frowned at that part of his mind.  “I undressed because my clothes were dirty… and I have no qualms about people seeing me naked,” he informed himself.  “But if she touches me…”

“Inu Yasha?”

He turned guiltily to see Kagome standing behind him.  “What is it?”

Kagome blushed.  Her hair was beginning to darken to its natural color.  “This robe isn’t dirty.  You can wear it while your other things dry,” she said, holding out his inner robe.

Inu Yasha stood and snapped the water out of his rinsed clothes before laying them down to dry.  He took the robe she offered, careful not to breathe her scent or touch her hand as he did so.  He pulled it around himself and sat down.  “I think you’ll heal quickly.  Mother’s injuries were more than blood loss and I was still small and weak.”

“That’s good, right?” she asked, sitting beside him.

“Very good.  We shouldn’t stay in one place too long.”

“I wonder why…” she began as she scrutinized her knees.

“Why what?”

“Why you let it bite you,” she said softly.  “Why you seemed to enjoy it.”

“I dreamt it was someone else.”

“Who?”

He shifted uncomfortably.  “Forget it.  It wasn’t who I wanted it to be.”

“Who did you want it to be?”

He stared at her.

“Was it Kikyo?” she asked quietly.

“Kikyo was there,” he responded.  “But she’s not who I wanted.”

“Why not?  You love her, right?”

“I loved her,” he corrected.  “She’s gone now and I know that.”

“Well then… who?”

He felt fear.  His fingers played with the hem of his robe.  He closed his eyes and held his breath for a few seconds.  “I’m in heat,” he announced quickly.

“What does that mean?”

He opened his eyes and stared at her confused face.  “I’m just saying that I wouldn’t normally dream about anyone, but my instincts to rut have taken over my thoughts, making me think about partners.”

“To rut?” Kagome still looked confused.

Inu Yasha scowled.  “Don’t your kind spawn?  Feel desire?  Fuck?”

Kagome blushed.  “Oh… Yes.  I wasn’t aware that demons felt that too.”

“Well, we do.”

“Oh…” Kagome looked thoughtful.  “So… What are you going to do about it?”

“What can I do about it?  I usually hide away in some cave until it’s all over,” he said irritably, taking in his surroundings.

“You mean you’ve never…?” Kagome began.  She stopped herself and looked away.

“Never been in heat around anyone I liked before.”  He frowned.  She turned back to him and their eyes touched.  “It occurs rather infrequently, thank the gods.  How about you?  You ever rut?”

Kagome frowned.  “That’s a personal question.”

“I answered you,” he countered.

Kagome looked back to her knees.  “No.”

“Any particular reason why not?”

“I just haven’t, OK?  I don’t even have a boyfriend…”

Inu Yasha pouted.  A part of him was hurt.  They had spent so much time together… “Why not?”

Kagome sighed.  “I spend all my free time here with you…” she trailed off and looked thoughtful before she chuckled.

“What?”

“Nothing,” she smiled.

“Fine!” he growled as he leaned back and closed his eyes.  If she wanted to be so damn secretive it wasn’t his place to…

“I was just thinking that you are the closest thing I’ve had to a boyfriend.”

Inu Yasha’s heart sped up.  “Yeah?  Well, don’t expect me to buy you flowers.”

Kagome laughed.

“Or chocolate, even though I don’t know what that is.”

“How do you know about that?”

"I read your little picture books on romance.”

Kagome smiled.  “You read my manga?”

“Whatever you call it,” he shrugged, pretending not to care.  “What’s chocolate?”

“A brown candy that melts in your mouth.”

“Do you like it?”

“Yeah.”

“Hmm…” he responded.  Not so good.  “Well, what about flowers?”

“I don’t know.  I guess I like them better in a field.”

“OK… I won’t buy you flowers, but the chocolate is debatable.”

Kagome giggled.

“So…” he began.

“So…” she echoed.

He couldn’t ask her what he really wanted to, not that it ever stopped him before.  But now… What did she mean by boyfriend?  He couldn’t figure out whether she liked him in that way or not.  If not then he would be the fool for letting a mortal control his emotions.  There was too much to think about and his body wasn’t helping.  “So… We should get some rest.”

“Oh.”  Kagome looked a little sad.  She repositioned herself beside him and lay down.  “Stupid rock!” she grumbled as she pulled it out from under her back and tossed it away.

“Here,” Inu Yasha said, reaching out to guide her head to his shoulder.

“Thanks,” she whispered as she lay an arm on his chest and cuddled against him, trying to get comfortable.  “You know… You’re much sweeter when you’re in human form,” she whispered.  “Much more like a real boyfriend…” she trailed off as she began to doze. 

“Like a real boyfriend,” he mused to himself.  “An overprotective demon boyfriend who cares for nothing but becoming whole… and his lady.”  His body shuddered in excitement at her nearness.  He was instantly aware that only one thin robe separated his skin from her body.  Her upper body was covered, but her naked legs could get tangled with his during the night.  He carefully kicked out one leg from the folds of his robe.  The coolness on his skin excited him.  “Gods, what am I doing, trying to casually touch her?” 

His mind went numb as he felt her hand delicately run down his chest to clasp at his waist as she shifted in sleep.  His body was painfully ready to take her then and there, but he held himself back.  “Do something!” he screamed at himself.  One of his hands reached out and caught her in the left armpit.

She contorted around his hand and shrieked as she woke, “Inu Yasha!”

“That wasn’t the right spot?” he asked quietly.

“Right for what?”

“Never mind,” he sighed and tried to roll over.  She was on part of his robe, pinning it to the ground, so as he rolled he exposed himself.

“No tell me,” she insisted as her arm circled his chest from behind and her body pressed against his back.

“Now!  Now!  Now!” screamed his body, internally.  He gasped.  “Careful-woman-I’m-gonna-explode!” he slurred.

“What?” she asked as he fingers tightened on his chest. 

A sense of euphoria crashed over him.  He closed his eyes and tried to push the sensation away, but it was like trying to stop a tsunami with a little stick.  “Oh gods,” he moaned as his loins released.  He knew from experience that this would be the first wave of many in the next few days.  He gasped for air as his loins expelled the first seed of heat.  Kagome removed her hand and shifted off of his robe.  He rolled to his front and grunted.

“Inu Yasha?  What happened?  Are you OK?” she asked as she poked him in the back.

“Leave me…” he whimpered.  “Don’t watch.”

“Are you really…?” She patted his shoulder in sympathy. 

He rolled over with a cry to face her and took her in his arms.  One arm pulled her hips to his, his robe and her clothes separating them.  He grunted in her ear as another wave of pleasure crashed over him.  He pressed his hips to hers as he again released.  He went limp under her and gasped for air.  “You understand now?  I can’t resist you.  I NEED you.  But it’s better if you go wait with the others.  Ohh!” he moaned the last bit as his body gave a shiver.  “Go…” he whimpered.

Kagome carefully pulled herself off of him and stood on shaky legs.  She looked down on him in sadness.  “Do you really hate me so much?”

Inu Yasha sat up.  “What?!” he cried.

“That you would make me leave rather than let me help you,” she said sadly.  “Do you really hate me so much?”

“It’s not that, Kagome.  It’s… Damnit! I want to rut with you!” Inu Yasha moaned.

Kagome stared at him in shock.

“Even if I wasn’t in heat I’d want to rut with you.”

“Why?” she demanded of him.

“Because… I think of you as my… my mate.”  Another wave washed over him and he closed his eyes and let it pass.  He regained his breath.  “Mother once told me that it’s the nature of dog demons and their kin to mate for life.”  He opened his eyes to see her kneeling beside his head.  “What are you doing?”

“Will it hurt?” she asked quietly.

“Will what hurt?”

“Rutting?”

“Gods, I hope not.”

“Will you be gentle?”

He gazed at her in shock.  Was she actually considering this?  His heart began to pound in his ears.  “I’ll try and be as gentle as my passion lets me… our first time.  Now or later, I can wait.”

She nodded and began to undress.

“Why are you doing this now?” he asked as he watched her remove her shirt and bra.

“Because you mate for life,” she said simply as she pulled of her skirt.  “Inu Yasha, I…” she stopped and stared at him.  She took his hand and held it tightly.  “You are such a jerk sometimes, but you’ve gotten better.  I…”

“Kagome,” he whispered.   He raised his hand to her cheek and pulled her face to his.

For a moment he understood his sire.  He felt the devotion that rushed through him for this mortal woman.  He would protect her always with his body and soul.  They would raise their pup in love and one day she’d grow old and die while he was still young, unless he became mortal for her.  Gently he bit her lip and the tip of his tongue.  Their blood mingled.  Her power washed over him.  Someday she would die and leave him alone again.  They had so little time in this lifetime… Why waste it?

He removed his robe as she shifted to remove her panties.  “My lady,” he whispered as he hugged her close.  In his mind he could already see the children of their union.  Pups bouncing on his knee… little voices crying, “Inu Yasha!”

No, they’d call him ‘papa,’ not… “Inu Yasha, Kagome, what are you doing?” a little voice asked.

Inu Yasha felt a weight on his head.  He opened his eyes to see Shippou staring down from the top of his head.

“Go away!” growled Inu Yasha.

Shippou hopped down and stared innocently at the two.  “Why?  Are you two getting ready for a bath?  May I join you?”

“No!” Inu Yasha responded.

“My lady!” Myouga cried out as he bowed to Kagome.  “I will serve my lord’s lady always.”

“Stop that, we haven’t done anything yet, you bastards!” Inu Yasha growled.

“Looks like you’re about to.  We’re here to bless the union.”

“Aargh!” Inu Yasha cried as he grabbed his wet clothes in one hand and Kagome in the other.  “Peace and quiet,” he mumbled as he left the other two behind.

“May you have many healthy demon spawn from your union!” Myouga encouraged.

“Fools!” Inu Yasha cursed as he pulled his damp inner robe on.

“What did they mean…?” Kagome began as they rounded a corner.

Inu Yasha stopped her words with his lips as he pressed her against the wall.  “We don’t want them to find us,” he whispered tenderly.

“Can’t they smell us?”

“Not if we keep moving and confuse them,” he breathed as he wrapped his robed arms around her.  The front of his robe was open and his hot body writhed against hers as he kissed her lips.  Another wave began to crest and he fell to his knees with a moan.

“What is it?” she asked.  “Another one so soon?”

“My body quickens in anticipation,” he mumbled, pressing his cheek to her thigh, breathing hard.  He felt her hands touch his scalp.  They scratched behind his mostly human formed ears.  He purred in response as only a demon in ecstasy could.  “I don’t know if I can do this now,” he confided as he reached for her wrists and pulled her down to kneel before him.  “Never doubt my loyalty or claim to you, Kagome.  But I’m not sure I can put you through this now.”

“Inu Yasha,” she breathed.

“What I said about mates was true.  The demon in me may lie to conceal his heart, but the man… the man knows better,” he whispered with a kiss.  “I don’t want to see you hurt for taking a demon husband.”

“Would you hurt me?”

“No, not me!  My bark is much worse than my bite.  I’m talking about the demons out there that will hunt you down if you accept me as mate.”

“What’s wrong with you?” she moaned as she stood and stumbled away.  “One minute you can’t keep your hands off of me and the next you warn me away.  What do you want from me?”

Inu Yasha stood and reached out for her in the dark.  He hugged her close.  “Kagome,” he whispered.

“Inu Yasha, I… like you… a lot.  I’ve never met anyone like you.  Something in me wants this.”  She began to cry.  “Something else asks me why I’m giving myself to you.  Why do I feel it’s so important?  Is it Kikyo inside me who desires or is it me?  Why am I so excited by your touch?  Is it really so wonderful as the girls at school say it is?”

“Kagome,” he murmured, holding her close.

“It doesn’t help if you can’t decide.  What are you so divided?”

“My lord!  Where are you?  My lady?” Myouga’s voice called out.

“Hey dog man, we have your sticky inner robe and Kagome’s clothes!” Shippou sang.  “Why are you two hiding from us?”

Inu Yasha cursed under his breath and picked up Kagome to stumble through the darkness.  He rounded another corner and leaned against a column of limestone.

“Divided?” he muttered.  “I suppose I am,” he said as he let her stand on her own feet.  “The demon would deny it, but I’m afraid of losing you.  As much as I want to lose myself in you… I know that once I do we will be hunted.  How can we raise a pup like that?”

“Pup?” Kagome echoed.

“Or not, if you’re not ready.  I can control the potency of my seed until we are ready to make a pup… erm… whelp… child-like thing.”

“A baby?”

“Yes.  One day we should make one.  Until then we can practice mating…”

He was surprised by her lips on his.  His body sang of desire.  “Don’t tease me,” he begged.  “I don’t think I can take much more.”

“I’m not,” she responded as he touched him… in a place he never usually gave much thought to unless he was in heat.  It marked him as a male and usually it was half-erect.  In days of heat it was painfully erect for mating.  She touched his phallus and he groaned.  “Big,” she mumbled.

“Is it?” he asked, feeling every nerve ending come alive in his body.

She breathed heavily.  “You really want this, want me?”

He thought for a moment.  Even if he could stop himself he didn’t really want to.  “Yes, do you?”

“Yes.”

His legs gave out and he pulled her on top of him.  “Anyone who interrupts us, dies,” he grunted with feral glee.

Her body covered his.  She opened herself to him.  The tip of his phallus was against her… burying it slowly where it was made to go.  Heat surrounded the first few inches as she grunted above him.  “Oh gods, Kagome… it’s…” he moaned.  This was his first time… first time sharing himself with his chosen mate and love.  Could he think that?  Yes!  It wouldn’t kill him.  Maybe it would later, but at the moment he didn’t care.  This woman wasn’t Kikyo.  She was more.  And… and she seemed to be having trouble taking all of him.  He rested his hands on her hips.  “Relax,” he offered, rubbing her thighs.

She pulled off of him a bit and for a moment he thought that she was giving up.  Maybe he was too big.  Maybe some cruel twist of fate made it so he could never completely couple with his chosen mate.  Maybe… she was planning to come down hard on him, nearly taking him all in.  She cried out and collapsed on him.  He held her.  “I’m sorry I hurt you,” he cried.

“No… just give me a moment.”

He held her, reveling in her scent and touch.  He was inside of her.  That idea thrilled him to no end.  Slowly she began to push against him, taking him completely.  He was pleased.  He moved against her.  His wave was beginning to crest in him.  “Kagome!” he grunted as his hips moved on their own against hers.  He rolled over on top to get a better tempo.  So close… so…

Sharp pain caught his shoulder and he found himself ripped away from the warmth.  “Inu Yasha!” Kagome screamed.

“Poor little half-breed, taken from rutting bliss… blood made sweet by desire!” something laughed in the darkness.  It carried him to the entrance of the cave.  The blue light of the sword revealed a bloodsucker.  “Know me?  Too bad you sliced me in half after I drank from your little witch.”

“You were killed… twice!”  Inu Yasha grunted.  Out of the corner of his eye he saw Kagome approach cautiously.

“That second one was my lower half.  I have a habit of dividing when I am cut in half, especially after such a powerful meal.  This half is smarter.  It knows to sweeten your blood with desire from the act of rut before it drains you.”  The bloodsucker smiled and leaned forward to take Inu Yasha’s neck.

“No!” screamed Kagome.  She jumped out of the darkness and touched Inu Yasha’s foot.  “Take back your power.”

The cave was illuminated with a blinding light.

“Kagome, no!  You’ll die!” a now demon blooded Inu Yasha screamed.  He shook out his white mane and glared angrily at the bloodsucker that held him.

“Your woman can’t live without your power after I have drained her.”

Inu Yasha snarled and kicked as he used his claws to rip off the hand that held him.  He bounced back, careful not to step on Kagome.  In a flash he took the sword from the cave entrance and swiped it at the bloodsucker.

“Think that will stop me?” it laughed.

“No, but sunlight will.”  Inu Yasha smiled evilly as his outer robe slipped to the ground and early morning daylight poured in.  “Morning!” he growled as he hit the cringing bloodsucker.  It screamed and fell as it reduced to ash and blood.

Inu Yasha’s sword fell to the ground with a clatter as he tossed it aside to kneel next to Kagome.  “Stupid woman,” he cried, gathering her in his arms.  He reached back and took his robe to wrap her naked form in.  “Stupid, stupid woman.  Don’t leave me, mate.”  He held her close.  “Please.  Please don’t leave me!”  He kissed her lips and called to any remaining demon blood in her veins.  It was gone.  He cried in frustration, pounding the ground around her.  “Kagome!” he screamed.  “Return to me.  Your lord commands it!”

“My lord,” Myouga called, making his way to his master’s side followed by a sorrowful Shippou.  “It’s the way of mortal mates.  They all must die… You know that.”

“No!” Inu Yasha wailed, burying himself against her chest.  It was too soon.  He barely had a chance to show her how much he needed her.  Despair tore at his chest, leaving his arms numb as he held her close.

“Ouch!” someone said.

Inu Yasha sat up and stared at a confused looking Kagome.  “You… You’re…” he stuttered as relief washed over him.  He never thought he could feel so much pain.  Joy turned to anger.  “You bitch, I thought you were dead!” he growled.

“Well I’m not so stop squashing me.”

He dropped her on the ground, somewhat abruptly.  He turned away from her and reached for his clothes as he wiped his eyes.  He would rather die than show her weakness.  He began to dress and tossed her clothes at her irritably.  “Come on, we have to get out of here.  We’ve wasted enough time,” he announced coldly.  “Myouga, Shippou… go back to last night’s camp and gather everything we left behind.  We’ll follow.”

The flea and fox demon left the cave without a word leaving Inu Yasha and Kagome in silence.  Inu Yasha leaned against the cave entrance and watched her dress. 

“I didn’t mean to scare you,” Kagome whispered as she straightened her blouse.

“I wasn’t scared…” Inu Yasha frowned.

She made a face as she passed him.  He reached out and delicately touched her arm.  A tiny smile played on his lips.  She returned his smile and he followed her down the path, away from the cave.

Epilogue

Kagome peeled off her clothes and tested the hot spring temperature with her foot.  She sighed and lowered herself into the healing waters.

She glanced up at the approach of Inu Yasha.  He gave a shy smile and began to disrobe for the bath.  “Tell me,” he said as he settled into the hot water.  “Do you have any regrets about what we did?”

“No,” Kagome said softly.  “It was never completed, was it?”

“No, but it was enough to…” he broke off and blushed.

“Enough to bind us?” Kagome offered.

He dropped his head in acceptance.  “Yes.”

“Do you have any regrets?”

“Demons don’t regret,” he responded automatically with a snort.  He turned to stare at her with a strange mixture of sadness and guilt.

“Really?” she prompted.

“No,” he said quietly, leaning forward thoughtfully to blow bubbles in the water.  After a minute he raised his mouth out of the water.  “I guess I’m a little regretful that I couldn’t make it good for you.  It was your first time and I was inexperienced.  I’m also sorry that we were interrupted.  That’s what you get for accepting a demon mate.”

“Next time will be better,” she smiled as she touched his arm.

He smiled and shifted so he was between her knees, facing her.  His hand rested on her hand.  “Yes… next time,” he said sadly, playing with her fingers absently.

“What is it?”

He sighed and looked deep into her eyes.  “This morning I called you a name because… I thought… I thought I lost you.”

“Inu Yasha…”

“I wasn’t scared… I was hurt.  It’s very difficult for a demon to love a mortal, you know.  The mortal can easily die and leave the demon all alone with all his misery and pain and… sometimes he’ll go insane if the love is deep enough.  Do you understand?”

“I don’t know… I…”

Inu Yasha took her hands and held them tightly.  “I sometimes wonder if it’s really all worth it… love for pain and insanity.  But then I remember.”  He leaned forward and carefully kissed her forehead.  “Thank you.”

She blushed.  He shifted so he could sit beside her, his body touching hers.  They let the moment pass, content just to be near the other.

“So,” Kagome smiled lightly.  “How many pups do you want?”

Inu Yasha frowned for a moment in thought.  “As many as you’re willing to give me.”

“Want to start now?” she laughed.

He laughed along with her for a moment before he stopped abruptly.  “No.  Not yet.”


 

Moonlight

  by Leloi


He loved the moonlight.  He would never admit it out loud, but he loved the soft silvery glow of moonlight.  He loved the way it made it easier to see at night.  He glanced down at the one below him.  She was oblivious to the moonlight, caught in her own dream world.  He envied her.  He kept a silent vigil instead of letting sleep take him. 

He watched her in the moonlight, her skin silvery blue from the faint light.  She sighed and rolled over, obscuring her face with a tendril of hair.  He sighed and settled back on his tree branch perch, letting his eyes rest on her form.  No one lay beside her.  Usually she snuggled against the little boy demon, but not tonight.  The entourage of jewel seekers had broken up for the night.  He and Kagome were left alone for the first time since… since that night… the night of the bloodsucker.

He closed his eyes and held his breath.  The night had been both fantastic and grotesque.  He almost lost her, but he didn’t.  He had held her close and… been one with her.  She accepted him as mate now, but they never had an opportunity to do anything about it without interruption.  “What about now?” a little voice in his head asked him.

He opened his eyes and stared at her sleeping form.  “I’m not in my cycle now,” he told himself.

“Does it matter?  Part of you is human.  Human males don’t cycle, females do.”

“But, she’s not cycling…” he scowled at his thoughts.

“Does it matter?”

“No,” he said aloud without intending to.  He covered his mouth with his hands and watched as she rolled over and sighed in sleep.

“Go to her…” part of his mind urged.

He swung his leg over the tree branch and dropped to the ground with barely a sound.  He crawled nervously to his slumbering mate.  Her familiar scent tickled his nose.  Softly he sat beside her and stared longingly into her face.

She moaned in her sleep and her eyes fluttered open to stare at him in confusion.  “Inu Yasha…” she breathed groggily.

“Mate,” Inu Yasha responded from his spot.

“What is it?” she asked, yawning.

“The moonlight…” he began and stopped himself.

“What about it?” she sat up nervously, ready for battle.

“It’s nice, that’s all.  The stars too,” he said, looking up at the heavens.

“Is that what you woke me up for?” she asked, half amused.

“Not really,” he responded.

“Then why?” she queried, leaning back in her bedding.

He stared at her, silently.  He smiled softly.  “May I sleep next to you tonight?”

“Is that all?” she giggled, opening her bedding.  “Come in.”

He wrapped his firerat robe about his sword to make a pillow as he snuggled down next to his mate. 

She cuddled against him and rested her head on his shoulder.  “Tell me about your mother,” she mumbled into his armpit.

“What about my mother?” Inu Yasha asked, wrapping his arm around his woman.

“What was she like?” 

“She was very young when she had me.   She was very beautiful and very proper… a true lady.  She was a witch, like you.  I don’t know how she met my father.  After I was born, Father was killed in battle protecting her… at least that is what she told me.  She was left alone to raise me.  In my first real memories of her, she was always so sad.”

“Because of your father?”

“Maybe.  I didn’t really understand her sadness or even knew that she was sad until she was gone and I thought back on her.  She rarely smiled and often cried.”  He sniffled.  “She must have loved him,” he said as if coming to a realization.  He tightened his grip around his mate’s waist, bringing his free hand up to gently caress the side of her face.

“Does that surprise you?”

“No,” he said quietly.  “At least not anymore.  Not since you and I…” he trailed off and slid his hand down her arm to clasp her hand that lay on his chest.  He played with her fingers.

“What is it?” she asked, propping herself up to look him in the eyes.

He stared back at her.  “What if I’m taken away from you in battle?”

She rested her head on his chest.  “I don’t want to think about that now,” she said quietly.

“If I lost you…” he began, but stopped himself.  “You’re right.  I don’t want to think about that either.”

“But if you stay a demon…”

He closed his eyes and made a face.  “Let’s finish collecting the shards before we think about that, OK?”

“OK,” she agreed as she settled back down on his chest. 

He hugged her close.  He could feel her heartbeat through their clothes.  He took comfort in it.  “Kagome…” he whispered.

“Hmm?” she responded.

“How did you arrange it so we were alone?”

She giggled softly.  “I told them we wanted a night to ourselves.”

He opened his eyes wide and sat up in shock.  “You didn’t!”

Kagome rolled over to sit up, laughing.

“I have an image to maintain, woman,” he growled.

“What?  The ‘I’m too tough to need a mate’ image?  Oh please.  They all know about us.  Myouga told them.”

“That little…” he began.

She tapped him on the head.  “Got ya!” she smiled.  “No one knows.  I was just messing with you,” she giggled and settled back down in the bedding.  “One point Kagome, Inu Yasha zip.”

“Is that the way you want to play it?” he growled with a predatory glint in his eyes.  “Fine… Take this!”  He pounced on her and began to tickle. 

“No, no!” she screamed, kicking her feet and squirming. 

He straddled her to keep her in one place.  “You made me mad, now face my wrath!” he intoned while tickling her ribs.  “Taste the torso tickler!”

“Stop, stop, stop!” she cried breathlessly.

He sat up and crossed his arms into his kimono sleeves.  “Do you yield?”

“Never!” she cried defiantly.

He raised an eyebrow.  “Never?” he questioned, quietly.  Carefully he crouched down above her and delicately used his nose to caress her cheek, taking in her scent.  He brushed his lips against hers… so smooth and soft.  He teased them for a moment, not really touching.  She tried to pull her head up to meet his, but he moved on with a smile.  He rubbed his cheek against hers and purred softly.  Her hands reached up and scratched behind his ears.  “Mate…” he whispered, rolling his head away from her fingertips.

“What?” she asked breathlessly, her eyes half closed.

He reached up and flicked her nose with his middle fingertip.   “Inu Yasha evens the score,” he smiled and rolled off of her.

“You animal!” she grunted, hitting him with her pillow as he settled down next to her. 

“Your point being?” he grinned.

“Oh… Just go to sleep, you.  The others should be back early tomorrow.”

He watched her as she tried to fall back asleep.

“Mate?” he whispered.

“I’m not falling for that again, Inu Yasha,” she announced with a frown.

“OK,” he said quietly.  Rolling over to face her, he placed his lips on hers.  Beneath him, she breathed in sharply in surprise.  He delicately licked her lips.  They tasted of her lip-gloss.  Her lips parted and his tongue found hers.  He tapped it playfully and gave her a shallower kiss before rolling away from her and onto his back.

She touched her lips with her fingertips.  “Inu Yasha?”

“Hmm?” he responded, staring at the heavens.

“Why did you chose me as your mate?”

“I just did.”

“Was it because I was Kikyo?”

He held his breath and watched one star among millions sparkle.  “No,” he said quietly.  “You are nothing like her.  You’re the same, but different if that makes sense.”

“No.”

“You smell the same… share the same soul, but it’s changed.  Your personalities and attitudes are different.  Your smile is different.  Hers had pain.”

“You chose me for my smile?”

“Kagome,” he sighed, pulling her body onto his, wrapping arms around her.  “Kikyo is dead.  Please understand that.  I loved her and she left me behind.  You are like her, but you are not.  If you must know, I wasn’t entirely ready to take a mate before I met you.  It would have taken Kikyo a long time to get this far with me.  Hell, I can’t even show affection for you now unless we’re alone.  Can you imagine me fifty years ago?”

“I think I can.”

“It’s taken me two more years to tell you that you are my mate.” 

“You told me, huh?  So in your mind I didn’t have a choice?”

He looked at her for a long moment.  “Not really, no.  You know I think of you as mate and I mate for life.  You accepted it and that was your choice.  But you could never force a demon to choose you.  That was all me.”

“Well, a demon can’t force a girl to accept him either, so we were equal.”

“Equal,” he breathed.  The mating ritual was based on equality.  They had started the ritual during the bloodsucker incident but they never found a private moment to complete it.  He leaned and kissed her on the lips.  He nipped his tongue to offer his power.  She delicately licked his lips.  The taste of blood filled his mouth and she pulled away, wincing.  “What’s wrong?” he asked.

“We are already equals, Inu Yasha.”

“I don’t want to hurt you,” he said quietly.

“Don’t worry,” she smiled and kissed his nose.  She sat up and pulled off her shirt.  She playfully tossed it on him.  He pulled it off in time for her bra to hit him.

“Enough with the clothes tossing,” he growled. 

Kagome smiled and lay down on his chest, covering them both with her blanket.  She started to wiggle. 

“What are you doing, woman?” Inu Yasha asked amusingly. 

She tossed another article of clothing at him.  “Here,” she said with a smile.

Inu Yasha pulled them off of his nose.  “Is this your skirt?” he asked with a smile, tossing it to where he tossed the other clothes.

“Yep,” she giggled,  “Here.”  She draped something over his ears.

He reached for it.  “Panties,” he snorted and tossed them.  “Are you done now?”

“Nope.  We still have your clothes,” she laughed as she reached down for his ties.

“I can undress myself, thank you very much,” he pushed her hands away.  He pulled at his clothes, trying to get them off as quickly as he could.  He felt giddy and nervous.  He managed to wiggle out of his robes without bothering to untie them.  He tossed them away with a grunt.  “There.  Am I unclothed enough for you?” he asked, wrapping his arms around her waist.

“For now.”

“For now?  How much more naked can I get?”

She touched the prayer beads thoughtfully.  He watched her as she rolled them between her fingers, before letting them go to stroke his chest.  “Will you release me?” he asked quietly. 

“Will you run away?”

He grinned playfully.  “Maybe.”

She smiled and opened her legs to straddle his.  “Where would the fun be in that?”

“Besides, the beads no longer hold me to you.”

“Oh?”

“It’s something else now,” he grinned and playfully bumped her in the butt with his knee so she went flying forward.  He caught her and held her before she could fall.

“What if the others come back early?” she asked.

“Then… then they’ll see us… That won’t be good.  I’ll kick their asses and make them swear secrecy.  But, I’m a man, damnit.  I have every right to do this… thing… that we do.”

“You called it ‘rut’ before.”

“That was the demon way.  You don’t want the demon way, remember?  What do humans call it?”

“Sex… Making love.”

Inu Yasha cocked an ear.  “Yeah… That’s a good name.”

“Which one?” Kagome asked, snuggling against him.

“Both,” he mumbled as he lightly traced her spine with his fingers.  “So… What do humans do?”

“I don’t know.”

“What?”

“I’ve only done this with you.”

“Then how do you know my way is different from your way?”

“I know what the other girls at school say.”

“What do they say?” Inu Yasha asked quietly, content just to have his arms around her and feel her skin against his.  She reached down between them and gently rubbed his male organ.  It hardened at her touch.  It was an odd sensation outside of his heat cycle.  He felt desire but it wasn’t as focused into the actual mating aspect.  Her fingers felt good and he didn’t feel the need to explode.

He sat up and pushed her onto her back, nibbling her ear and purring.  She moaned and arched her back, pressing her front to his.  He pushed down with his hips and felt himself enter her.  He sighed in contentment and wrapped himself around her.  Resting his head on her shoulder, he took pleasure in her nearness.  He could feel her soft thighs wrap around his body.  Her hips pushed up against his.  Her fingers traced his spine and squeezed his shoulders.  Her neck was intoxicatingly perfect to nibble on.  The jewel she wore about her neck was cool against his chest despite their body heat.

“Inu Yasha,” she moaned.

“Hmm?”

“Work with me.”

He kissed her lips and pushed himself into her, over and over.  It was like the first time.  The sensation built, but it took longer for it to crest.  Suddenly Kagome arched her body beneath his and cried out.  He stopped, fearful that he somehow hurt her and tried to sit up.

“Sit!” she commanded.

He found himself pressed tightly against her.  Her hips jerked and she moaned, holding him close.  His body responded by quickening and expelling seed.

“What was that?” he asked, breathlessly.

She smiled and hugged him.  “It felt good, didn’t it?”

“Yeah.”

“That was making love.”

“Oh,” he said, wrapping his arms around her and rolling onto his back, keeping his connection.  “So you liked it then?”

“Mmm,” she moaned with a smile as she settled on his chest.

“You cried out.  That worried me.”

“I told you not to worry.”

Inu Yasha rolled his eyes and closed them.

“So we are mated now, completely.”

“Yeah,” he said quietly.

“So what happens now?” she asked him, playing with the prayer beads around his neck.  “I just can’t pretend that this didn’t happen.  I could barely deal with this when it was only a technicality.  Now there’s no question.  We are mated, Inu Yasha.”

“I know that,” he responded gruffly.

“I really think we should tell the others.”

Inu Yasha was silent.

“I mean Myouga already knows.  I don’t know if Shippou figured it out last time or not.  And the others…”

“We will never find peace.”

“What?”

“If they know, the whole world will know.  Not only will we be fighting jewel-crazed monsters, but anyone who holds a grudge against me.  They’ll find an exposed weakness, my mate and pups.  We will be hunted.”

They stared at each other, neither dared to break the silence.  Something caught Inu Yasha’s attention.  He swiveled an ear and lifted his nose.  “Get dressed,” he whispered as he pulled himself out from under her.  He fumbled with the ties of his robes.

“What is it?” she asked, adjusting her skirt.

He pulled on his firerat robe and attached the sword.  “I feel something.  Get on,” he commanded, turning around and bending his knees so she could climb aboard. 

“Where are we going?” she asked, straddling his lower back. 

“It calls me,” he responded as he pushed off into the air.

Dark treetops stretched up beneath them.  Fine mist filled in the crevices.  Inu Yasha descended through the trees.  He landed at the shores of a lake shrouded in mist.  “I know this place,” he said quietly, looking around.  His eyes caught a familiar shape… a tree.  “That’s… that’s the tree I fell out of when I was a whelp.”

“You fell out of a tree?”

“I was very young.  It was my first try.  Mother bandaged me up.  Mother,” he gazed out longingly to the mist covered lake.  He tightened his hold on Kagome’s legs and pushed off, soaring over the dark waters.  “Last time I was here I couldn’t find it.”

“What?”

A huge shape materialized out of the night mist.

“That,” Inu Yasha responded as he alighted upon a balcony.  “Mother used to wait here for me when I went out at night… before they found us, of course.”

“Before who found you?”

“The demons.  I came back one night and she was dying.”

“Inu Yasha…”

“I tried to heal her, but they came back and she… and I ran away and hid.  I tried to come back later, but I got lost in the mist.”

“This is…?”

“The place of my birth.  Father built it for Mother to protect us.  It didn’t work,” he grumbled and kicked a rock off the balcony.

Kagome entered the building.  The room was hugely ornate with elegant furniture and soft cushions.  “It looks like a palace.”

“It is a palace.  Father was lord of the Western Lands,” he replied, following her.

They passed through many richly decorated rooms.  Not a spec of dust clung to any corner.  “It was always like this.  No matter how messy I was, it was always cleaned up.”  They passed a room filled with toys for a young child.  “My room,” Inu Yasha said with a small smile.  “Whenever I got bored with one toy, another would appear.  Mother said that the servants left them for me.”

Kagome nodded.  “You were young, weren’t you?”

“Very young, only a few summers,” Inu Yasha said, picking up a stuffed dog with a lolling tongue and big red bow around its neck.  It was filled with sawdust and he sniffled at his younger self’s scent.  Mother had made it for him.  He laid it down carefully.

The adjoining room was large and mostly empty.  It had a futon and a cupboard in the corner.  “Mother’s room.”

Kagome opened the cupboard.  Hundreds of scrolls spilled out and onto the floor.  She glanced up at him apologetically.  He kneeled to examine them.  “She was always writing.  She tried to teach me, but I had no patience for it.”

Kagome looked them over.  They were all labeled.  One caught her eye.  “This one has your name on it.”

“What does it say?”

Kagome picked it up out of the pile and gently unrolled it near a small oil lamp that appeared out of nowhere.  “The dialect is tough to read, but I’m familiar with it.  It’s like the old texts at the temple.”

“You can read it?” he asked hopefully.

“I haven’t been a shrine maiden most of my life for nothing,” she smiled.  “It says... My dear child, my son Inu Yasha, you may not remember me very well when you receive this letter.  I know it will be many years after my own death.  I see it in my visions.  Your mother was a priestess, you know.  It is hard to imagine the little boy who plays at my feet will someday be a man and find a mate, but if you receive this, then I know you shall.  The mists of this island will only part for you if there is someone worthy for you to protect here.  Your father built this place to protect us, my son and to insure that your own little ones and mate will be protected.  Guard them well.

“Little mistress who holds my son, I know you read this.  I know my son will never learn to read so he relies on you to tell him his mother’s words.  The other scrolls are a testament of my life as a priestess and mistress of the powerful Inu Youkai.  You are not with child yet, but if the son is anything like his father… It is best that you finish all of your unfinished business now.  Consider that advice from your mother in law.  Take good care of him, Kagome.”

“Wait!  How did she know my name?” Kagome broke off her reading. 

Inu Yasha was blushing with his eyes to the floor.  “With child,” he whispered over and over.

“What’s wrong with you?” she demanded.

“Nothing.”

“Am I with child, Inu Yasha?  Can you tell if I am or not?”

“I was careful,” he responded with a sniff and stared thoughtfully at his toes.

Kagome returned to the scroll.  “Yes, I know your name, daughter in law.  I see you entering my son’s life when he has the most need… When his is lonely and jilted.  Your powers are more than your own, girl, they have strengthened through time, as they should be if you are to be wife to the Lord Inu Yasha, my son.  You’ll need more strength than I ever had to stay alive for him.  Someday you will have the power to heal him and make him whole.  Until then, peace be with both of you.”

Kagome stared at Inu Yasha.  He shifted his gaze to stare at her.  “Is that all?”

“No, there’s a bit more.”

“Read it.”

“My son, my death will not be your fault.  I knew long ago when I first met your father what my fate would be.  I accepted it and you should too.  Please be happy now.”

Inu Yasha stared dully at the pile of scrolls.  His mother knew.  How did she know everything?  Why couldn’t she have done anything to save herself?  He shook his head and stared at Kagome.  “We should go back to camp.  It will be dawn in a few hours and the others will return.”

“What about the palace?”

“What about it?  As long as I have you it won’t disappear on me again.”

“All your mother’s writings… Your past…”

“There’s time enough for that.”  He reached for her wrists.  “Don’t you want to finish your unfinished business in the outside world before you have to stay here?”

“Will you stay with me?”

He gave her a small, sad smile.  “Walls cannot contain me, Kagome.  I am a creature of the forest.”

“But I don’t want to be alone here.”

He pulled her to him and wrapped his arms around her waist, resting his cheek on her head.  “I don’t want you to get hurt.”

“What if you were human?”

He delicately reached up and tangled his fingers in her hair, scratching her scalp with his claws.  “If I were human we wouldn’t need this place.”

She pushed away from his embrace and stared up into his eyes.  “Then…”

His lips twisted in nervousness.  Gently he leaned down to kiss her warm, soft lips.  “I told you, when the jewel is complete we’ll talk about this.”

“But what if I get pregnant with your child before you turn human?”

Inu Yasha sniffled and turned away from her, returning to his old room. 

“Inu Yasha?” Kagome called after him.

“Take some of my mother’s scrolls if you like.  I don’t know when or if we’ll be coming back,” he called over his shoulder.

“What do you mean?” she asked an empty doorway.

He came back into the room with a bag.  “Here, fill this.”

“Why?” Kagome asked, looking into the bag.  She gave a smile and pulled out the stuffed dog with the lolling tongue.  “Is this yours?”

“That’s Inuko.  It was my favorite.  Mother made him from an old kimono,” Inu Yasha said with a snort.  “I thought the little ones would like him.”

“We aren’t coming back, are we?” she asked quietly, replacing the stuffed dog in the bag.

“You don’t know how hard it is to have demon blood.  You don’t belong anywhere.  I want more than that for my little ones.  I don’t want them to live in fear or have the childhood I had.”  He wandered over to the cupboard and began to stuff the bag with scrolls.

“Inu Yasha,” Kagome said quietly, placing a hand on his shoulder.

“I want to see them grow up, Kagome.  I want to be there for them… a real father, not just some guy in your stories when you tuck them in at night.  Maybe we’ll retire to your time where there aren’t so many monsters to fight.”  He stuffed in the last of the scrolls.  “Maybe it’s time for me to face my own mortality and age with you.”

“You mean?”

“Do what I meant to do fifty years ago.”

“Become human?”

He buttoned the flap on the bag, thoughtfully.  He paused and stared off into space.  “Yes, but not now.  Not until the quest is done.”

“Of course not.”

He looked up at her and gave her a little smile.  “Are you ready?  It’s almost dawn, we should be getting back to the others.”

She smiled.  “Will we tell them about us?”

“If they know us so well, they should be able to figure it out on their own,” he said as he slung the bag over his shoulder and took her hand, leading her back to the balcony.  He bent his knees, allowing her to crawl up onto his lower back.  She took the bag from him and settled against his back.  He pushed off.  She tightened her legs around his waist and reached down into his robes to touch his skin.  “What are you doing woman?  Don’t distract me while I’m flying.”

“So you don’t want me to do this?” she asked, tickling his ribs.

He came dangerously close to getting intimate with a tree.  “Stop that.”

“Make me,” she giggled in his ear.

“When we land you are so going to get it.”

“Oh, I’m so scared.  Kagome two points, Inu Yasha one.”

He spotted their destination below and dropped out of the sky, dumping his cargo on the dew wet bedding.  He crouched above her, pushing the bag aside in haste.  “Now you are going to get it.”

“Get what?” she asked with an innocent smile.

He pounced on her, kissing her desperately.  Around them the landscape brightened with sunrise.  He pulled off her shirt and fumbled with her bra.  “Stupid contraption,” he growled between kisses.

“Kagome three points,” she began before being smothered by kisses.

“Good morning, my lord,” a new voice said.

Inu Yasha and shirtless Kagome sat up to stare guiltily at the band of newcomers.

“Ready for a new day?” Myouga asked, settling on Inu Yasha’s shoulder.

Inu Yasha hurriedly covered his mate with her blanket.  “What are you doing back so early?”

“Couldn’t sleep,” Shippou bounced up to Kagome and stared at her adoringly.

“Doesn’t look like you two got much sleep either,” Miroku said with a knowing smile.  “Are you going to bear his child?” he asked a blushing Kagome.

“Not yet… um no… I mean yeah… one day… oh… not now,” she flustered.

“You old dog,” Miroku smiled at Inu Yasha.  “I didn’t know you had it in you.”

Kagome looked worried.  The rest of the group snickered.  Inu Yasha frowned.

Epilogue

Kagome lowered herself into the cool waters of the stream.  Inu Yasha stepped out of the forest and sat on a rock to watch her.  She froze and frowned out of habit before resuming her bathing ritual.  “Care to join me?” she called over her shoulder.

Inu Yasha’s clothes fell into a small pile at his feet.  He carefully stepped out of them and crossed the rocky shore of the stream.  “Thought you didn’t want to be seen with me after today,” he said softly, lowering himself into the water.

“I was just a little upset.  They kept talking about me bearing your child,” she said with a pout.

Inu Yasha found a submerged rock to sit on.  “Is that so bad?” he asked quietly, playing with his hair that got caught in the current.

She sighed and lazily swam to him.  She used his knee as an anchor and let her body float.  “No,” she finally responded.  “We are mates.  It will happen eventually.  All the teasing just got to me, you know?”

“I think I do,” Inu Yasha said with a small smile.  “I’ve been called dog boy, dog ears, old dog, dog man and Spot the Wonder Dog.”

“What?” she giggled in amusement.

“They are all names I get called in battle.”

“Spot the Wonder Dog?”

“Shows what they know… I don’t even have any spots,” Inu Yasha pouted.

Kagome sighed and shook her head.  “Spot.”

“Kagome,” Inu Yasha touched her cheek. 

She looked up at him and smiled faintly. 

He leaned forward so only she could hear his words.  “I love you,” he said simply.  He kissed her cheek and slipped off his rock to wade back to shore.  As he shuffled through the ankle deep water near dry land, he turned to her with a smile.  “New moon… I’ll take you with me.”

“Where?” Kagome called after him.

“That’s a secret,” he said, grabbing his robes and walking away.


Family
by Leloi


They left before sunset.  Inu Yasha wished to put as much distance as possible between them and the rest of the company before his change.  “Besides,” he said thoughtfully, “who would seek out two humans alone in the woods?”

The fox child did not allow an easy parting.  He clung to Kagome and demanded to know why he couldn’t follow.  The orphan kitsune still held a lot of innocence in the ways of adults.  He could understand the need for mates and Kagome wanting to spend time alone with Inu Yasha, but too much time together was making him feel left out.  They had already ditched the rest of the company a couple of times.  To the young fox, it was a couple of times too many.  He pouted as Kagome held him.  “Can’t Dog Man spend new moon with us as he always does?”

“Inu Yasha wants privacy this time,” Kagome said softly, patting his head.

“But why do you have to go?” Shippou demanded.

“Because I want her with me,” Inu Yasha responded.  “It’s just for this time, kid.  We’ll be back tomorrow.”

Shippou stared at Inu Yasha.  Something strange had been going on since the bloodsucker incident and the teasing about the mating ritual.  Now Inu Yasha couldn’t stay ten feet away from Kagome.  He followed her everywhere and to make matters worse, she didn’t seem to mind.  Near full moon Myouga had suggested a trip away from the two.  When they returned they found Inu Yasha doing something to Kagome, but no one would tell him what it was.  Inu Yasha acted strangely from then on.  He was actually civil to the fox boy.  It unnerved Shippou to no end.  The dog demon seemed to be studying for a role under Kagome’s watchful eye.  If Shippou didn’t know any better he would guess “fatherhood.”  Now Kagome and Inu Yasha were directly asking for time to themselves.  The rest of the group could stand back and let it happen, but Shippou could not.

“Please, Shippou?” Kagome asked in her sweetest voice.

Shippou sighed.  “Alright…” he agreed.  “But just for tonight.”

“Of course,” Inu Yasha smiled, glancing at the late afternoon sun.

Kagome shouldered her pack and ran off into the woods with the dog demon.

Inu Yasha picked up the pace, glancing back at his mate.  She smiled at him.  There were still many miles to go and the sun wouldn’t last them.  At this rate his change would happen before they got to their destination.  He stopped and waited for her to catch up.  “Let’s fly,” he said.

She crawled onto his back.  “Isn’t it almost time for your change?”

“We still have a little time,” he said, glancing at the near sunset.  He held her hands around his neck and pushed off.

“Where are we going?” she asked breathlessly behind his ear.

“Where I used to spend my new moons many many years ago,” he said, sailing over the treetops.

The last rays of sunlight dimmed as the sun sank completely behind the horizon.  Inu Yasha landed with a thump and turned to stare at Kagome.

Kagome watched as his ears slid down the sides of his head and his hair grayed.  Claws retracted into his fingers and the pinks showed through the thinner nail.  He blinked a few times and his eyes darkened to a hazel, but his irises remained demon like.  His pointy ears rounded out and his hair turned black.  He stared at her, breathing heavily.  “It’s done… We are close to the place.  Do you mind walking?”

“No,” she said.

He smiled gently and took her hand, leading her through the woods to a small clearing.  “This place has an ancient magic to it.  Only humans can enter the clearing.”

Kagome entered the clearing and glanced around.  “You’re right, this place has magic.  I can almost see it.”

“Let’s make camp.”

They rolled out her sleeping bag and built a fire to keep back the night.  They were careful to gather enough firewood so they wouldn’t have to leave the ring of trees during their stay.  Kagome made ramen and Inu Yasha slurped it down, gratefully.

One by one, the stars twinkled in the night sky above them.  The Milky Way flowed from one side of the clearing to the other.  Kagome lay on her sleeping bag, staring up at them.  “Like little diamonds,” she said softly.

“When I was young, mother used to make up stories for me about the stars,” Inu Yasha said, staring up at the night sky.  “The only night of the month they aren’t in competition with moonlight is new moon.  On those nights, since I couldn’t leave home, she would sit with me on the roof and tell me about the stars.”

“Wow…” Kagome breathed,  “Do you remember any of them?”

“Not really… It was a long time ago.”

“You see that triangle of stars up there?” she asked, pointing and drawing lines with her fingers.

Inu Yasha scooted closer to her line of sight,  “Yeah?”

“That’s the Summer Triangle… Those two… are lovers.  They were separated by the Milky Way.”

“I think mother showed me that.”

A cool breeze made the trees whisper around them.  Kagome shivered.

Inu Yasha rolled over to face her.  “You should get in bed,” he advised.

“What about you?”

“Don’t worry about me,” he smiled.  “My human bladder doesn’t hold much water.  I’ll be right back.”  He got up and moved towards the treeline.

Kagome smiled, listening to him curse at the darkness and various obstacles in his path.  She pulled off her clothes and snuggled down in the bedding, making sure to save room for him.

He stumbled back, trailing a stream of small profanities behind him at his loss of demon sight.  “I can’t see a damn thing,” he mumbled, standing next to the bedding and peeling off his robes.

Another breeze hissed through the trees around them and he gingerly crouched to find the opening in the bedding with the aid of dim coals from the fire.  Kagome found his hand and pulled him in.  He settled beside of her, lying on his back to stare up at the stars.  She cuddled against him.  “So… how did you spend new moon before me?”

“Before you… I would come here and watch the stars, wishing for dawn to come and change me back,” he said.

“What if you fell asleep and changed back, how could you leave?”

“Demons can leave, but only humans can enter.  I couldn’t come back if I left.  Once I accidentally left a robe here and I had to wait a whole month to get it back.”

“Really?” she chuckled.

“Really.”

“Do you like yourself now?” she asked quietly.

“What do you mean?”

“All these changes.  You used to me angry all the time and moody.  You haven’t really been moody since that bloodsucker night.”

“I haven’t really changed.  I’ve always been easily adaptable.  That’s how I’ve survived for as long as I have.  I’m only ‘moody’ when I am frustrated.”

“You’re no longer frustrated?”

“I know you’ll eventually give me everything I want.”

“The jewel?”

“And my freedom,” he said, playing with the prayer beads.

“Inu Yasha,” she breathed, touching his fidgeting fingers with her own.

His hand returned to his side, letting her explore the beads through touch.  He stared at her in the darkness.  “Do you love me?” he asked quietly.

“What?”

“Do you love me?” he repeated.

“I’m your mate…” she said, frowning.

“That means nothing.  At some point my father mated with Sesshoumaru’s mother and they didn’t love.”

“We’re different…”

“How?”

“We just are.”

“Why can’t you say it?” he asked, pain evident in his voice.

“Because I’m not sure who’s saying it.  Is it Kikyou or Kagome?  Do you know how hard it is to have thoughts you aren’t sure are your own?”

“You’re nothing like her.”

“You keep saying that, but I always get compared to her,” Kagome sputtered and began to cry.

Inu Yasha dropped a hand on her head to soothe her.  “Do you know how hard it is to open myself to you?  You’ve been getting at the inner me since I met you no matter how much I resisted.  You won.  I’m not laying here, talking to you because you’re the reincarnation of a woman I was once infatuated with.  I’m here because you wouldn’t let me push you away.  And, by gods, there came a day I realized I didn’t want you to go away.  You’re stuck with me now, Kagome.  I am stubborn and I love you.”

Kagome kissed him gently on the lips.  Her teardrops wet his cheeks.  Her hand moved over his head in one swift movement.  “Show me,” she whispered, pulling something out of his hair and clenching it in her hand. 

“What?” he frowned, confused.

“Sit up,” she said.

He froze and waited for the sense of weight that accompanied the command word.  It didn’t come.  He sat up and touched his naked neck.  “What have you done?” he demanded.

She showed him the beads in her hand.  “I’ve set you free,” she said softly.

“Free?” he whispered.

She took his hand and pressed the beads in it.  “Free.”

He stared at them in puzzlement.  “Why?”

“It’s something you wanted, right?  I can’t give you the jewel, it’s not ready yet…”

He dropped the beads on the bedding.  He turned to her with a small growl.  She froze beneath his hands as he took her head.  He leaned forward and caught her lips with his.  He closed his eyes and let the feelings wash over him.  He pulled the rest of her body on top of his own, his hips pushing up against hers.  “Make love to me,” he whispered savagely, through his kisses.  “Please.”

She straddled his legs and sat up, pulling her lips from his.  She eased herself onto him and gently rocked back and forth above him.  “I’m still your mate?” she asked breathlessly.

His arms rested on her thighs.  “For as long as you’ll have me.”  He squirmed beneath her.

“I thought you were going to attack me,” she whispered, stopping to stare at him.

“I did.  Weren’t you paying attention?” he said, pulling on her hips.  “Don’t stop.”

“When we first met you were going to kill me.”

“That was before I fell in love with you… come on, keep going,” he writhed beneath her.

“Inu Yasha…” she began.

“No more talking!  We make pleasure now!” he groaned, pushing up against her.  She rocked above him and he tried to hold himself back until he heard her moan.  At the first sound of her orgasm he released his seed with a satisfied shiver.  She collapsed above him and he held her close.  “Now we talk.”

All she could do was breathe heavily.

He ran his fingers through her hair.  “By the way, thank you.”

“For what?” she managed.

“Releasing me.  I ‘attacked’ you to show my appreciation.  Wasn’t it exciting?” he smiled in the darkness.  “And you couldn’t say ‘sit!’”

“It was a little scary.  I had flashbacks to the last time I released you.”

He chuckled softly and continued to play with her hair.  “I am wild…” he said softly.  “But I’ll never harm you.”

“That’s good to know,” she whispered, cuddling against him.  “Inu Yasha, are you happy?”

He closed his eyes and took in a deep breath.  “Happy…” he echoed as sleep began to claim him.  His arms and legs were entwined with the one he loved.  He was at peace.

He dreamed.

He was somewhere very cold.  It was a blizzard and he could barely see.  Something was warm and soft beside him.  He knew it was his mate, Kagome.  He held her and she was shivering.  He suddenly realized that they were both naked in the snow.  He barely had time to ponder it when his vision cleared and he saw a cabin.  The shifting patterns of the blizzard returned and he made for the cabin.  He found a door and opened it.  It was the cabin.  The interior was small with no furniture and only a blanket in the corner.  He grabbed the blanket and pulled it around them, trying to warm her icy cold skin.  Fear gripped his heart as he held her close. 

He was instantly aware that they were no longer alone.  Some guy he recognized from Kagome’s school was squatting beside them.  “I’m cold,” he announced.  Immediately Kagome sat up and offered to share the blanket.  The two got cozy despite Inu Yasha’s protests.

“Wait!  I love you!” he told Kagome over and over, louder and louder as tears fell freely.  It was so cold.  “Kagome!” he screamed.

He woke himself up.

It was sometime in the night.  The stars had shifted considerably.  He rubbed the sleep from his eyes, feeling cold and disoriented.  He was laying on something soft and he was naked.  He felt the bedding beside him.  It was cold.  “Kagome?” he called out into the darkness.  There was no answer.  He hastily pulled on his robes and stoked the fire to get some light.  The clearing was empty.  “Kagome?” he called with no answer.  He looked around frantically, unsure which way to begin.  He stumbled in the direction he had taken earlier to relieve his bladder.  “Kagome?” he called as he reached the edge of the trees.  Smelling urine, he looked down to see a wet patch.  He was certain he had used a tree so it had to be hers.  “Kagome?” he called as broke through the line of trees, leaving the protection of the clearing behind him.

“Well, well… if it isn’t my little brother.  He finally decided to join our little party,” a voice chuckled in the darkness.

“Sesshoumaru?” Inu Yasha breathed.

“I am here, brother.  And look who else is here…” Sesshoumaru appeared out of the darkness holding a struggling Kagome.  “You really shouldn’t let your woman wander alone, brother… and in her condition too… tsk tsk.”

“What are you talking about?” Inu Yasha demanded, staring at Kagome.

“Don’t you know?” Sesshoumaru giggled.  “Ah, that’s right.  You are human now so you wouldn’t.”

“What?”

“Your seed was potent.”

“What?”

“And it’s her fertile time too,” Sesshoumaru remarked gaily.  “Looks like you weren’t too careful.  You’re going to be a father right about…” he picked up Kagome and pressed an ear to her belly.  “Now!”  He put her down.  “Congratulate me, I’m an uncle.”

“It couldn’t happen so fast,” Inu Yasha said, backing away.

“Oh, but it could, especially with some help from my powers.  I could speed up the whole process so she’ll drop the child right here.  Nine months in a snap,” the demon snapped his fingers.

“What do you want?” Inu Yasha demanded.

“Well, I heard you two were in the neighborhood and I thought to drop in and maybe knock up your mate to make you mad… but I see you beat me to it.”

“Get your filthy paws off her!” Inu Yasha seethed.

“Now, now… is that any way to speak to the uncle of your child?”

“Let her go or I’ll kill you.”

“Big words for a weak little human man.  Tell you what… I’ll add my seed to her belly and make it so she conceives my child as well.  It’s a little demon trick I know of.  The little ones can be brothers like us, only cousins.  Won’t that be fun?  But I can’t guarantee your child will survive sharing space with mine,” Sesshoumaru grinned.

Inu Yasha kept his eyes on Kagome, willing her to stay still while he thought of something.

Kagome turned to Sesshoumaru.  “Oh, Sesshoumaru,” she said seductively.  “You are so big and strong.”

Sesshoumaru smiled.

“I’ve always wanted to be with a big, strong man… erm… demon like you,” she sighed.

“What about my brother?” Sesshoumaru goaded.

“Well, he’s only half a demon,” she said softly.

Inu Yasha flinched.

“You are one hundred percent, grade A demon.  I would be honored if you gave me your seed,” she purred, cuddling against him.

“Are you getting all this, brother dear?” Sesshoumaru smiled as he leaned himself against Kagome, trying to push her to the ground. 

“Oh, but Sesshou-chan… I don’t want to do it out here in the woods.  That’s so common,” she purred.

“Where then, woman?”

“My bedding is just a bit that way,” she pointed back to the clearing.  “It’s all nice and soft… we can even see the stars.”

“The stars, hmm?” he grunted.

“Yes, follow me,” she giggled demurely, tugging at his robe.

Inu Yasha stared crossly at the two.

“Inu Yasha, why don’t you run ahead and stoke up the fire to make it nice and hot for your brother?” she said as she glanced back at him.  “We want him to feel welcome in our little camp, don’t we?”

“No.”

She glared at him.  He saw something in her eyes, something pleading.  He rushed past them and broke through the line of trees.  “Yes, mistress,” he grumbled over his shoulder.

Kagome broke the line of trees, still pulling Sesshoumaru behind her.  He stopped suddenly as if he hit a brick wall.  Shock and confusion passed over his face before he settled on understanding.  He glared at her with hatred in his eyes.  “Vile temptress,” he seethed, holding her wrist with his one good hand.  He pulled her back towards him.

“Inu Yasha, help!” she cried.

Inu Yasha wrapped his arms around her and pulled her into the clearing. 

“My arm, my arm!” she screamed as the brothers played tug of war with her body.

Inu Yasha adjusted his grip to her elbow, trying desperately to have her wrist break the plane of trees.  “Let go of her, you asshole!” he grunted.

“Never!” Sesshoumaru responded.

Inu Yasha kicked out, aiming for the only soft spot he knew of on his brother.  Sesshoumaru doubled over in pain, letting go of Kagome.  She and Inu Yasha fell over backwards into the clearing. 

“What did you do?” she asked still atop him.

“Kicked him… same place… your knee is now,” he winced, closing his eyes in agony.

Kagome crawled off of him and looked down to where her knee had been… the juncture of his legs.

“Gods woman, you’re lucky to be pregnant now.  I don’t think I can father another one after this,” he moaned, rolling away.

In the woods, little sobs of pain echoed.  “You bastard, I hate you.”

“Inu Yasha,” Kagome chided gently, helping the other to sit up and stand.  She led him back to their bedding.  “You know I was just trying to get us back into the clearing, don’t you?  The thought of your brother makes me ill.”

“I kindof figured that out,” he replied, easing himself down onto the bedding.  “That was still sick to watch.  Never do that again!”

She smiled and started to open his robes.  He wrapped his arms around her and held her close.  “Just hold me.  Sleep…” he whispered as he closed his eyes and began to drift off.

Sunlight broke through the treetops.  Inu Yasha opened his eyes.  His demon sight had returned and the whole world sparkled.  He mulled over the events of the previous night… his freedom, the conception of a child, his brother and Kagome… She lay beside him, wrapped in his robes.  He tightened his arms around her waist, aware of the flickering new life inside of her… a child.  If he had been truly human he would have never been aware of its presence until much later.  Indeed, if his seed had been human it would have only just reached its destination.  But no matter how human he was on new moon, the demon still remained to do things its way… Like speeding up conception.  He wouldn’t be surprised if it sped up her pregnancy either.  He ran his fingers through her hair as she slept.  He focused on the child within her… human.  It was human, mostly… if not completely.  Who knew what rules applied during his ebb time.

“Inu Yasha,” she said quietly.  Her eyes fluttered open to stare at him.

He gave her a small smile.

“Was that all a dream?”

He frowned and shook his head.

She sat up and touched her belly.  “Your baby,” she whispered.

“Our baby,” he corrected.

She stared at him.  “You didn’t leave me during the night?”

“Why should I?” he asked quietly.

She pointed to the prayer beads on the ground.  “You are free.”

“Not really.  I can never be free.  You should return those to Kaede.”

“What do you mean?”

“They are hers.”

“I meant about being free.”

“I told you last night.  I love you.”  He stood and closed his robes.  “We should go back to the others,” he said, beginning to pile all her things for her.

“Inu Yasha?”

“Hmm,” he responded, staring regretfully at an empty ramen bowl.

“I love you too.”

He closed his eyes and dropped the bowl.  “I wasn’t expecting that,” he smiled.

Kagome blushed and kept her hands busy with packing.

“You were testing me, weren’t you?  Seeing if I’d really stick around once you loosened my collar,” he sat back and raised an eyebrow.

“Or maybe I just know that it’s wrong to force the ones we love to obey us,” she responded, packing the last few of her belongings.  “How could I say ‘I love you’ when I can’t even show you simple trust?”

“You trust me?” he asked.

“I trust you.”

He smiled.  “Good.  Hop on, we’re going back.”

It didn’t take them long to find the others.  They were greeted with am over enthusiastic fox child.  “Kagome,” he purred, snuggling against her.

“Careful,” Inu Yasha warned.

“My lord, have you…?” Myouga began, looking at the dog demon. 

Inu Yasha twitched.

The flea demon looked to Kagome.  “My lady, blessings upon you.  Blessing upon you and my lord.”

Epilogue

Inu Yasha slipped down from his tree.  He could tell from the snores that almost everyone else was asleep… all but the one who really mattered to him.  He crawled over to her and offered her his shoulder to lean on.  “Can’t sleep?”

“No.  I keep thinking about the baby and our quest.”

He wrapped his arm around her.  “Kagome, you must promise me something.”

“What?”

“When it comes time for the baby to be born I want you to quit our quest and go home.”

“What?”

“I’ll try and finish what we started as quickly as possible so I can join you.”

“Can’t I stay?”

He touched her stomach.  “I don’t want to lose you.  I need to know that you’re both safe.”

“Won’t you come with me?”

“I have to become human first, like I promised.  The jewel is almost done.  The others will help me.”

Shippou shifted in his sleep and cried out.

Inu Yasha stared at the fox boy.  “Take this one with you.  He needs a mother.”

They both quietly listened to the snores of their comrades.

“Please Kagome… trust me.”

“I do,” she whispered, leaning into him.  “But I’m afraid to lose you, too.” 

“My love,” he whispered, kissing her forehead.  “Never forget that.”


Love and Marriage
An Interlude
by Leloi


“Are you ready?” Inu Yasha asked, turning to stare at his mate.

“As ready as I’m going to be,” Kagome replied, leaning against the well.

“Good luck you two!” Sango called from the sidelines.  “Remember, if all else fails and you get kicked out for dishonoring the family you always have a place here with us.”

“Oh, gee.  Thanks,” Kagome replied with a hint of sarcasm and a big smile.

Inu Yasha scowled at the group of well wishers, including a sobbing kitsune.

“They’re leaving us behind again,” Shippou cried, cradled in Kaede’s arms.

The old woman sighed and laid a gentle hand on the fox boy’s head.  “This is a battle they have to fight alone,” she said gravely.

Kagome swung her legs into the well and jumped.  She landed on a dirt bottom.  Inu Yasha landed beside her.  She pulled herself up and out of the well with practiced ease.  She waited for her mate to emerge before leaving the well shrine.

“Are you nervous?” Inu Yasha asked as they neared the Higurashi house.

“Yes,” she said.

He took her hand and squeezed it.  They entered the house together.  The family turned as one to stare at them.  Lunch lay half-eaten on the table.

“Oh!  Miso soup!” Kagome smiled, sitting down beside her brother.

“Help yourself, dear,” Mrs. Higurashi said, smiling at her daughter and her demon friend.  “You want some too, Mr. Demon?”

“That’s alright,” Inu Yasha replied, blushing furiously.  He sat between Kagome and her brother.

“What brings you here with Kagome?” Grandpa asked, studying the embarrassed dog demon.

“I… That is, we… We have to tell…” Inu Yasha glanced at his mate for help, but she was busy slurping down the soup and humming happily.  He gulped.  “We have to tell you something important,” he announced.

“What?” Grandpa and Mrs. Higurashi both queried.

“Is Kagome pregnant?” Sota asked suddenly.

Soup exploded from Kagome’s mouth in his general direction.

“I was kidding,” Sota said, wiping soup from his face.

Inu Yasha removed the mushroom that had attached itself to his ear during the miso shower.  He looked at it and put it in his mouth, chewing on it thoughtfully.

“Eew!” Sota squealed.  “That was in her mouth.”

“So?”  Inu Yasha replied, rolling his eyes.

“Um, dear… Is there something you wish to tell us?” Mrs. Higurashi asked in her sweetest mother voice.

“Um,” Kagome smiled nervously and wiped the soup from her chin.  She stared at Inu Yasha.  He nodded to her and she stared at her bowl of soup.  “Inu Yasha and I… We’re… That is, we… Well…”

“Kagome is pregnant,” Inu Yasha announced.

Her family stared at him with various degrees of shocked horror on their faces.  Grandpa was the first to recover.  “And who, may I ask, is the father of… of…” he groped for the right words, still unable to come to terms with the concept.

“The child is mine,” Inu Yasha offered.

“How did this happen?” Mrs. Higurashi finally found her voice.

“The normal way,” Inu Yasha replied with strange look on his face.

“But she… but she… but you… but…” Mrs. Higurashi floundered around looking for a way to express her thoughts.

“She’s my mate,” Inu Yasha said quietly, finding Kagome’s bowl to be just as fascinating as Kagome was finding it.

“How did this happen?” Mrs. Higurashi returned to the sentence that she knew she could say.

“Mom…” Kagome began, looking up from her bowl for the first time.  “I love Inu Yasha.  He asked me to be his mate and I agreed.”

“What is this ‘mate’ thing?  Does that mean you two can… you can…” Mrs. Higurashi found a few more words to say, but she still had trouble with the idea behind them.

“Mating means that she is my wife,” Inu Yasha responded.  “At least by demon standards,” he added in a small voice.

“But she’s too young…” Mrs. Higurashi’s voice broke and she began to cry.  “My little girl was soiled by a demon!”  Her sobs rang higher and higher in decibels.  No one dared to cover his or her ears and face her wrath.  They all found the table to be the most fascinating thing they had ever seen.

“There, there…” Grandpa said, lamely.

“I wasn’t ‘soiled’ by a demon,” Kagome said quietly.

“Look,” Inu Yasha sighed, his patience waning.  “I love Kagome.  You may think whatever you want about me, but I can’t let you be angry with her because of me.  She is going to have my baby, deal with it.  Do whatever you want to me.  Just don’t take it out on her… Please.  She needs her family just as much as I need her.”

“Will you do the honorable thing?” Grandpa asked.

Mrs. Higurashi stopped crying to listen to what the demon had to say.  She sniffled quietly, staring between Grandpa and the demon.

“What is the honorable thing?” Inu Yasha asked, glancing at Kagome with a worried expression.

“Marry her.”

“We are already married,” Inu Yasha responded, confused.

“Marry her in our tradition.”

He shrugged his shoulders.  “Sure.  Does that mean you’ll forgive her?”

“When you do the honorable thing we will be satisfied.”

Inu Yasha nodded.  “So, how does your tradition go?”

“We have a wedding.”

“Alright, so let’s have a wedding.”

“First you must ask me for her hand in marriage.”

Inu Yasha raised an eyebrow and glanced at Kagome.  She was still staring at her bowl.  “What do I need with her hand?”  

“It’s the way to ask.  Just ask me for her.”

“May I have Kagome?”

“Please…” Kagome whispered.

“Please?” echoed Inu Yasha.

Grandpa sat back and regarded the dog man with a strange smile, “And why, may I ask, do you wish to have my granddaughter?”

“I already told you that!” Inu Yasha replied.

“Tell me again.”

“I love her.  She loves me.  We are already married under my tradition.  She’s going to have our baby…”

“Why do you love her?” Grandpa asked.

“I just do,” Inu Yasha responded.

“Not good enough reason, boy,” Grandpa smiled.  “Someone, bring me the sake.”

“Sake?” Inu Yasha echoed warily.

“It means you are in the business part of the wedding plans,” Kagome whispered.

“This should be just between me and your intended, my dear.  But since he doesn’t know what he’s doing, you can stay.  Everyone else must leave,” Grandpa said as the sake and two cups were placed in front of him.  He poured out a cup and handed it to Inu Yasha who stared at it in confusion.

“Drink it,” Kagome instructed.

“I don’t drink,” he responded.

“You have to.”

He closed his eyes and swallowed the contents of the little cup.  His eyes watered as he set the cup back down on the table.  Grandpa filled it again.  Inu Yasha looked to Kagome again.  She made motions for him to drink it.  He did and nearly dropped the cup back on the table.  “Two’s my limit… oh!” he moaned, placing his chin on the table for support.

“Lightweight,” Grandpa chuckled, filling the cup again.  “Now tell me why you love my granddaughter?”

“Because she makes my heart go ba-bum ba-bum ba-bum and my manhood gets all hard whenever she’s near me.  When she is gone I can still see her smile.  I like her smile and the way she smells.  And I don’t mind my human side so much when I’m around her.  I like who I am when she’s… hic!  Did I just say all that outside of my head?” he turned and asked a shocked Kagome.

“So you really like her?”

“Who… Kagome?  Oh yeah.”  He reached out for the waiting cup of sake and slammed it down.  He dropped the cup and giggled, “I don’t drink…” 

“Hmm… I see,” Grandpa said.  “So, tell me… what about your parents?  Do they approve of the match?”

Inu Yasha sat up stiffly and stared at the table as the next cup of sake was poured.  “They are dead.  Dead, dead, dead…” he made a face and began to laugh crazily.  

“Who were they?”

“My parents?  Let’s see… Father was the lord of the western lands and mother was his second wife.  His first wife died while giving birth to my older brother, Sesshoumaru.”

“Were they both demons?”

“Nah… Mother was human.  She was a princess I think.”

“So, does your older brother approve of your match?”

Inu Yasha stared at the table and made a face.  He frowned and swallowed the waiting cup of sake.  “He tried to rape Kagome… the bastard.  No one harms my woman.”  He stared intently and Grandpa.  “No one…” He wiped his forehead with the back of his hand as another cup of sake was poured.  “I’d give my life to save her.  She means that much to me.  Did I say that out loud again?”

“Yes,” Grandpa smiled.  “Do you have any questions for me?”

“Can I marry her now?” Inu Yasha asked, wiping his face with his hands, trying desperately to focus his thoughts.  He tried to clear his mind and not pay attention to the swaying room.  “I just want to know if I can marry her.”

“When would you like the ceremony to happen?”

“As soon as possible.”

“Agreed.  That way we can keep this little detail about the child to our family.  How long has she been with child?”

Inu Yasha blinked.  “A day or two.”

Grandpa raised an eyebrow in intrigue.  “And you know already?”

“I knew the exact moment it happened.  Sesshoumaru told me.”

“Your brother?”

“The bastard.”

“Didn’t he try to…?”

“That’s when he tried.  Don’t worry.  I kicked him… hard.”

“Good,” the old man smiled.  “My dear, go get your mother.  We have a wedding to plan.”

Kagome stood and stumbled out the door to where her mother waited with Sota.  

“So?” Mrs. Higurashi asked.

“Grandpa wanted me to get you.”

“And…?”

“We have to plan a wedding.”

Tears returned to Mrs. Higurashi’s eyes as she followed her daughter back into the kitchen.  Grandpa and Inu Yasha had just raised their cups of sake to each other.  “To our new son-in-law!” Grandpa laughed, downing his cup.  Inu Yasha threw back the cup and fell over backwards, out cold.

Kagome knelt at his side, slapping his face.  “Wake up, wake up!” she cried.  

“Leave him be, girl.  Let’s plan this wedding.” Grandpa said.

The next few days past in a whirlwind of activity.  The dates were consulted and it was found that the next good day was less than a week away.  Kagome was kept busy putting together her kimono and inviting old school friends to the ceremony.  Houjou accepted with a sad demeanor.  Kagome felt sorry for him.  She found her school girlfriends.  “Why so sudden, Kagome?  You wouldn’t have a reason, would you?”  

Kagome laughed nervously.  “What are you taking about?  I’ve been with Inu Yasha for years.”

The girls smiled politely and whispered among themselves about the “demon bride.”

Kagome wanted to invite her traveling companions, but she soon realized that no one could pass through the well as easily as she and Inu Yasha could.  Shippou and Myouga could if they held onto them tightly, but the others were stuck in the past.  Kagome was distraught until Kaede suggested that a wedding dinner could be celebrated when the newlyweds passed back through the well.  “Besides,” Kaede smiled.  “In our eyes you two are already mated.”  Kagome dried her tears.  She pulled the kitsune and the flea back through with her to stand as witnesses.

The bridegroom was kept in the house.  He was pawed over and petted by his future bride and mother-in-law.  He regarded everything about him with weary patience.  He was made to sleep in Sota’s room.  “Couples do not sleep together until after the ceremony,” Mrs. Higurashi insisted.  

The ceremony was small but elegant.  The guests whispered over the groom’s appearance.  He didn’t seem to notice.  His whole attention was on Kagome.  Together they drank the wedding toast.  Inu Yasha made a face at the taste of sake.  Kagome slipped a ring onto his left ring finger.  “Symbol of eternal love,” she said with a small smile.  He smiled back, wishing he had a ring for her.  

The reception party got underway and all the guests overwhelmed the new couple.  Some wanted to touch the groom’s ears.  Most wanted to see a real demon up close.  Eventually the newlyweds were whisked away to Kagome’s room and left alone.

“So, what happens now?” Inu Yasha asked, leaning against the desk.

“We spend the night together,” Kagome blushed.

“Do they know that?” he asked, waving his hand to indicate the party downstairs.

“That’s the custom.”

He turned red.  “They know we’re going to…?”

“We don’t have to do that.  We can just sit up and talk all night,” she said, sitting on her bed.

He nodded and sat beside her.  “So what do we talk about?”

“What do we normally talk about?”

“This isn’t very fun.”

“We can always do something else.”

“I don’t like being vulnerable where people can find me.”

Kagome cocked her head to one side and stared at him.  “Are we vulnerable?”

“They can open the door or look in the window,” Inu Yasha replied.

“What do you suggest?”

He smiled and stood to open the window.  “Ladies first…”

Kagome smiled and climbed up onto the window frame.  Strong arms surrounded her and they were off and flying.  

The next morning a kitsune sneaked into a bedroom.  He looked around and realized that no one had slept in there.  “They left me again!” he fumed, stomping away to sulk.


Ever After by Leloi


Kagome softly closed the door to her room, careful not to wake the two who napped on her bed.  She settled into the desk chair and watched over the two.  She loved watching them sleep.  They looked innocent and peaceful.  One of the children stirred and whimpered.  Kagome picked up the little girl with short black hair with a practiced ease to comfort her back to sleep.  She cradled the child in her arms and sat back on the desk chair.  “It’s alright, Kaede.  Mommy’s here.”  The little girl fretted for a moment more before settling against her mother’s chest.

Two years… it had been almost two years since Kaede had been conceived.  Inu Yasha had taken her home and together they told her family.  Her mother’s tears easily rivaled Soun Tendo’s.  Grandpa had managed to calm her down and a wedding date was set.  Inu Yasha went along with the plans with a strange sort of acceptance.  He seemed to enjoy being pawed over as a bridegroom.  He was welcomed into the family and given a ring to wear.  The newlyweds returned to the past and searched out jewel shards until Kagome found it difficult to travel towards her eighth month.  Inu Yasha personally carried her through the well and to her family’s house.  “Stay there!” he said, tucking her in bed.  “I’ll come back for you.”  She stayed at home for the remainder of her pregnancy.  As if sensing the birth, Inu Yasha returned the day before Kaede was born to witness her entrance into the world.  He brought a sad little fox child to be protector of his wife and child.  “Take care of them, Shippou,” he begged as he returned to the well.

A little over a year passed.  Kagome sat brooding in her room, caring for two children.  Shippou had been a great help.  He was growing up before Kagome’s eyes.  He treated Kaede like a little sister.  Kaede, true to her demon heritage, developed at an accelerated rate.  She was able to walk and talk by the time she was a year old.  Being only a quarter demon, she had very few outward signs of her demon side.  Her ears were the faintest bit pointy and her smoky gray eyes flashed amber when she was angry.  Mostly she was a normal, human girl.  She asked a lot of questions about her father and Kagome was kept busy telling stories about her husband.

Kagome’s heart ached.  Where was her husband?  Not a visit or word had she received since Kaede’s birth.  Kagome read and reread her mother-in-law’s scrolls, seeing a pattern.  Inu Yasha’s father had disappeared, never to return, too. 

Kagome held her child close, fearful of her own thoughts of eternal delays.  “Where is he?”

She was aware that someone was beside her.  She turned to see the fox child.  He was getting big.  He was no longer the tiny fox demanding jewel shards.  He was tall enough to reach her waist and he lost most of his baby fat.  “What’s wrong, Kagome-mama?” he asked, holding her hand.

“Nothing,” she said, wiping her tears away.

The little boy whipped his tail and sat beside his adopted parent.  “You were worried about someone.  Was it Inu Yasha?”

Kagome gave him a sad little smile.  “He’s been gone a long time.”

Shippou used his fingers to brush through his fluffy tail thoughtfully.  “So, why don’t you go find him?” he asked quietly.

“He told me to stay here.”

“Like we ever listened to Dog Man before.  Kaede is old enough to travel.  I was her age when I was orphaned.”

Kagome bowed her head in acceptance.  “Alright, we go.” 

She left her family a note and hastily packed.  Shippou took her pack and shouldered it as Kagome strapped a groggy Kaede to her back.

“Where we go?” Kaede mumbled over her mother’s shoulder.

“To find your daddy.”

“OK,” the little girl said drowsily and fell back asleep.

Kagome glanced around the room, hoping to remember everything she needed.  It used to take her only a few minutes to pack.  She saw Kaede’s little silk dog, stained with much love, resting on the bed.  She added it to Shippou’s pack.  “To the well!” she commanded with one final glance about the room.  The fox boy howled in excitement.

The trip through the well made Kagome feel nostalgic.  She used to pass through a few times a week for three years straight.  The past year she hadn’t even ventured near the temple that housed it.  It brought back too much pain of what was missing from her life.  She held her breath and pulled herself out of the well, followed closely by the fox boy.

“Mama, what this place?” Kaede asked from her mother’s back.

“This is where your daddy came from.  There’s the tree I released him from.”

“Daddy,” the little girl echoed in wonder.  “Mama, where my daddy?”

“I don’t know.  That’s why we’re here.”

The little girl sniffled as her father used to.  Some of her mannerisms were exactly like her father’s.  It frightened Kagome. 

“Mama, let me down,” the little girl commanded.

“Why?”

“I smell something.”

Kagome sighed and untied the toddler.

Kaede stood on her own feet with her nose in the air.  She smiled and began to run as fast as her chubby legs could carry her.

“Kaede!” Kagome called out, following her child.

Suddenly Kaede jumped with a laugh and flew away.

“I didn’t know she could fly,” Shippou remarked dryly.

“We’ve got to catch her!” Kagome called over her shoulder, running after her daughter.

Kagome recognized the path.  She had taken it many times to the village.  She prayed that her child was heading there so she might be detained and returned.  Kagome skid to a stop on the outskirts of the village.  She watched as her daughter hovered in front of a window.  “Hi!” the little girl called out brightly to the inhabitant of the hut.

An old woman tottered out of the hut and smiled at the girl with very little surprise.  “Hello, my dear.  What can I do for you?”

“We look for daddy.  You know where daddy is?”

Kagome walked up to the two with Shippou behind her.  “Kaede…”

Both the old woman and child turned to stare at her.

“Kagome?” the old woman breathed.

“Mama!” the little girl brightened.

 “Hello Kaede-sama.  I am back.”  Kagome smiled.

Kaede hugged her.  “This child is yours?”

“Yes,” Kagome laughed, catching her hovering daughter.  “Kaede-chan, I want you to meet Kaede-sama.  You have her name.”

The little girl stared in awe at the older woman.

“She’s adorable,” Kaede smiled.  “I see she had a lot of her father in her.”

“She can be a handful…” Kagome blushed.

“And this young lad is Shippou?” Kaede indicated the fox boy.

“Hello, Kaede-grandma,” he greeted the older woman with a hug.

“What brings the three of you here to my door?” Kaede asked, staring intently at Kagome.

Kagome dropped her gaze to the dusty road at her feet.

“We look for daddy,” the little girl said.

“Kagome, is this true?  Inu Yasha isn’t home with you?”

“No…” Kagome whimpered, covering her tears.

“Come inside, child,” the older woman said, leading the three travelers into her hut.  She gave them all tea.  “Now tell me… When was the last time you saw Inu Yasha?”

“When Kaede was born.  He held her in his arms, gave me Shippou and left.”

“Shippou, where was he going after he saw his mate and child?”

“He was going off to find the last few shards.  The group found a lead,” the boy said, quietly.

“Those shards were found.  The jewel has been completed for almost two seasons.”

“Then were is he?” Kagome demanded.

“I don’t know,” Kaede replied sadly.  “I only know the quest was completed.  We aren’t all dead so I know the completed jewel hasn’t fallen into the wrong hands.”

Kagome covered her face and sobbed, “Where is my husband?  Someone has to know.”

“Mama, no cry,” the little girl said from her mother’s lap.

Kagome hugged her child and swallowed back tears.  “Where is the rest of the group?”

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?”

“They haven’t come here.  I assumed they split up and went their separate ways.”

“Mama, we look for daddy?” the little girl bounced up.  “I can find.”

“How can you find him?” her mother asked.

“I can smell things,” she said, touching her nose with pudgy baby fingers.

“Has her father’s nose, I see,” the old woman chuckled.

“That’s not all she has… his temper… his impatience… his…” Kagome broke off and began to cry again.

Kaede hugged her.  “This isn’t the Kagome I know.  She could face monsters and ultimate evil without a whimper.  She reclaimed her soul after it was ripped away.  She caught a demon’s heart and tamed it.  Where is that Kagome?”

“She’s out of practice.  She’s tired… and so lonely.”

“Your mate needs you to be strong while he’s away.”

“I know.”

“Strong for your daughter.”

“I know.”

“He loves you more than anything or anyone, including my sister.”

“I know.”

“He sent you home so he’d have something worth fighting for and protected for his return.”

“I know all this.”

“Then why are you sad?  He wouldn’t want you to be.”

“I know,” Kagome replied.

“Mama?” little Kaede whispered.

“Hmm?”

“I feel daddy.  He that way,” she smiled and pointed in a direction.

“I see she’s your daughter too.  She might have the sight,” Kaede said.

Kagome regarded her daughter.  “Will you come with me, Kaede?”

The old woman sighed.  “I’ll come.  I’ve been wanting to know how this story ends anyway.”

It was decided that since they were travelling with a young child and sunset was not far away, that they would start early the next morning.  Kagome lay her little girl down on the futon with her adopted brother and Inuko, the stuffed dog.

“That is a very sweet girl you have there,” Kaede remarked.

“She has a generous heart.  She’s always trying to help,” Kagome smiled.  “She’s my hope that he isn’t…”

“It’s best not to think about those things.  We will find him.”

“I hope so,” Kagome responded as she curled up beside her children.

Late in the night a small figure stood and walked out the door of the hut.  It didn’t make a sound and no one noticed its passing.

Kagome woke to bird song.  Instinct told her something was wrong.  She opened her eyes and looked to her children.  Shippou was snoring softly, using his tail as a pillow, but someone who normally slept at his side was missing.  “Kaede?  Kaede!”

Kaede-sama opened her eyes and looked puzzled.

“My baby is missing,” Kagome cried.

Shippou sat up, dazed.  The three of them frantically searched the small hut, but the child was not to be found.

“She must have left during the night,” Kaede remarked worriedly.  “We must go…”

They hastily packed and left for the road.

“Which way?” Shippou asked, turning around to stare at the open countryside.

“She pointed that way last night,” Kaede said, indicating a direction.

The small company traveled for hours.  Shippou was pensive over the loss of his playmate.  Kaede was worried over the small girl.  Kagome could barely contain her anxiety.  Her only child from Inu Yasha was somewhere in the wilds of feudal era Japan.  She could be attacked by demons or worse, men.  She tried not to think about it, but her nerves were shot from her constant worry.  She jumped when Kaede said, “What’s that?”  Kagome looked, expecting to see her baby dead by the roadside.  Instead she heard a giggle.

“Kaede!” Kagome cried and ran to the source of the giggle.

The little girl looked up at the approach of her mother.  “Mama!” she greeted as she was scooped up and kissed.

“Why did you leave?” Kagome demanded with tears in her eyes from relief.

“I go find daddy.  Mama no cry,” the little girl responded as if it was obvious.  “I find little flea man.”

Something bounced onto Kagome’s cheek and she swiped it absently.

“You hurt him!” Kaede cried.

Kagome looked down in her hand and the little squashed flea demon in her palm.  “Grandfather Myouga!  I’m so sorry.”

“No problem,” the flea responded, puffing back into shape.  “My lady, you’re here.”  He bowed formally.  “My prayers have been answered.  You must follow me, quick.”

“What do you mean?  Where’s Inu Yasha?”

“There’s time for that when we’re moving, but not now,” Myouga responded.  He bounced off of Kagome’s hand and started in a slightly different direction they had been heading.  Once they started following him, Myouga doubled back to sit on Kagome’s shoulder.  “Oh, my lady.  It is horrible,” he cried.

“What happened?  Where are the others?”

“We parted company after the completion of the jewel.  Then my lord shared the jewel with Kikyou to become human.”

Kagome stopped in her tracks.  Fear clouded her heart.

“Keep moving, lady.  I left him alone.  He’ll die if we don’t return.”

“How, why?” Kagome managed.

“Keep moving and I’ll tell you,” Myouga responded, bouncing on her shoulder to emphasis his urgency.

Kagome continued in the direction he had indicated.

“She helped us.  He couldn’t let her live out the miserable existence she would have had as a demon, so he shared the jewel with her on the condition that she’d become human with him.  She did, but she retained her powers.  She asked him to live with her, and when he refused, she trapped him.  He’s in a sort of suspended animation, much like when you released him from the tree.  She wakens him to ask him to reconsider, but he won’t, my lady.  Since he’s human, he has more need for food and water while he’s stuck, but she won’t provide for him.  She hopes she can break his spirit by denying him sustenance.  It’s been my job to care for him, but she found me and threatened to rip off my legs.  I decided it was time to leave and find help.”

Kagome didn’t respond to the flea’s tale.  She continued on their course without a sound.

“So, how do we help Dog Man?” Shippou asked, breaking the silence.

“I thought that maybe Kagome could break his bonds like she did the last time my lord was held.”

“How did you know Kagome was around?  You wouldn’t have been able to get through the well on your own to find her.”

“It was a chance I was willing to take.  Besides, I took a long drink from my lord.  I hoped his blood would let me pass.  Luckily I didn’t have to find out.  I ran into my little lady here.  I knew her at first glance,” Myouga chuckled.

“She ran away from us last night, “ Kagome replied.

“Has my lord’s restless spirit, does she?  He used to wander away from home a lot.  How else do you think I came into service?  I had to keep an eye on him as a lad.”

“Maybe we should get a flea demon for Kaede-chan,” Shippou mused, smiling at his playmate.

The little girl smiled back.

“I shall serve my little lady.  After all, she is my lord’s only heir.  All he has is hers by right of birth.”  He bounced off of Kagome’s shoulder and landed on Kaede’s.  The little girl giggled in delight as the flea did a little jump dance on her arm.

“Little flea man, little flea man,” she chanted.

“I used to be able to amuse my lord like this when he was young,” Myouga laughed.

Kagome stared off into the distance.  She saw a house on the hill.  “Grandfather Myouga… is that where we are going?”

“My lady?” the flea responded jumping to her shoulder and looking in the direction she pointed to.  “Yes, my lady.”

Kagome closed her eyes and tried to use her powers to feel a presence.  In the past she could always feel when Inu Yasha was near.  His spirit was wilder than any human was and yet it was warmer than anything demon.  Most demons gave a numbing cold aura that physically sent shivers down her spine.  The gentler ones were more like a cool breeze.  Inu Yasha was comfortable and yet exciting.  His presence made her feel good.  It was that presence she searched for in the house ahead.  She ignores Kaede-sama’s psychic heat and the two demons’ cool touch.  Her own daughter’s aura, so similar to her own and yet comforting like her father’s.  Kagome pushed past them and into the house that each physical step brought them closer to.  It felt empty, alone, sad and faintly cold.  She stopped and opened her eyes.

“My lady?” Myouga called in concern.

“There’s warding.”

“What do you mean?” Kaede-sama asked, squinting at the house that stood only a few hundred feet away.

“Something doesn’t want us there.”

“My sister?” the old woman asked.

“I can’t feel her or Inu Yasha,” Kagome shook her head.

“I think I remember Kikyou telling my lord that no one could come or go except them.  If that is true, how did I get out?”

“His blood,” Kaede-sama replied.  “You held his blood within you.  Maybe it works the same as the well… Only Kagome and Inu Yasha can pass unhindered.”

“Daddy in there!” Kaede-chan giggled and began to skip to the house.  She jumped and flew towards her destination.

Kagome looked up to see her child go.  “Kaede-chan, come back!” she cried.  She ran after the little girl.  As the child neared the house there was a visual shimmer.  “She passed through…” Kagome thought as she neared the same spot. 

A shock of cold passed through her and many voices screamed, “No!  You may not pass!”

Kagome pushed against them until they gave and she found herself in the warmth of the world again.  She looked back, but only felt the coldness from the ward.  She could no longer feel her companions who stood on the other side, staring at her.  “I’ll be back,” she told them and turned towards the house in time to see Kaede slip though a window.  “Kaede!” she called, following the girl.

*              *               *
The child alighted on the floor in a long hallway.  To her right was a door.  She slid it open and looked inside.

A man stood against the far wall.  He was wrapped in something brown.  The little girl took a timid step into the room and approached the wall with the bound man.  If he saw her, he gave no indication.  His eyes stared dully forward.  “Hi!” the little girl said brightly.  She jumped up and hovered near the man’s head.  “My name is Kaede.  Who are you?”

The man made no response.  His eyes didn’t even flicker.

“We look for my daddy.  Have you seen daddy?” she asked, undisturbed by the man’s lack of reaction.  “Mama misses him.  She sad daddy no return to her,” Kaede went on quietly.  “Hello?  Man?” she tapped the man on the head.  “Listen to Kaede.”  She bopped him on the nose with her ever present stuffed dog, Inuko.

For a moment the man’s eyes flickered and flashed on the smiling child.

“Hello daddy,” the little girl whispered, kissing the man’s cheek.  “Time to return to mama.”

A teardrop ran down the man’s cheek.  He sniffled and choked on a cry.  He blinked back tears.  “Kaede, my baby?” he whispered.  “Is that you?”

The little girl smiled and sat on his shoulder.  “Now we go find mama.”

The man sighed.  “I can’t move, little one.  I am stuck.”

“Then we wait for mama,” the little girl decided.

*                 *                *

Kagome ran through the hallways, frantically searching for her child.  She could feel Kikyou’s presence and she prayed to find her daughter before the other did.  She heard muffled footsteps and quickly entered a random room to hide.

“Mama!” a joyful screech echoed through the room.  Kagome turned to see her daughter perched on a man’s shoulder.  Not just any man.  She covered her mouth in surprise.  “Inu Yasha,” she breathed.

“Kagome.”  He gave her a faint, hopeful smile.

She rushed to him and held him.  She noticed the way he was held to the wall.  Wood encased him much like when they first met.  “What has she done to you?” Kagome cried, burying her face on his free shoulder.

“Mama, no cry.  Daddy found,” Kaede laughed.

“Look at this touching family reunion,” a new voice chuckled.

Kagome turned to the source of the voice.  Kikyou stood in the doorway.  “Kikyou,” she breathed.

“I see you’ve awakened him.”

“What have you done to him?”

“That doesn’t concern you.  He’s mine!  He was always mine.”

“Kikyou,” Inu Yasha began.

“Quiet, you!  Did I say you could speak?  As I said, future self… he belongs to me.  We shared the completed jewel and found humanity.  Now we are going to live together and die together like he promised.  No one can stop us.  I suggest you and your little friends leave… or die.  I still have my powers.”

“You mean old lady!”  Kaede screamed, jumping down from her perch.  “You no take daddy from mama!”  She stamped her little foot and her eyes flashed amber.

“How amusing, a brat.  No matter, Inu Yasha and I will make plenty more to replace her.”  Kikyou gave a nasty smile and reached out to touch the child with her powerful hand.

“No!”  Inu Yasha writhed against his bonds.  “Kikyou, stop!  She’s my daughter.  Harm her and I’ll never forgive you.”

“Threaten me?” Kikyou mused.  “Tell you what… You surrender yourself to me and I’ll let your spawn and her mother go.”

Inu Yasha stared dully at the ground.  “Deal,” he whispered.

“Inu Yasha, no!” Kagome cried, wrapping her arms around him.

“Kagome, my light…” he whispered.

She stared at him with tears running down her cheeks.

“My body may be taken by her, but my soul is with you, my mate… my wife.”  He strained forward to kiss her.  “I love you,” he whispered.  His eyes filled with hopelessness and he closed them.

“No, no!” screamed Kagome, holding him, but he refused to look at her.

“Go, love.  Live… for me.”

“You bitch!” Kagome seethed, turning to her previous incarnation.

“Careful girl.  I may be tempted to kill you despite his sacrifice,” Kikyou smiled in response.

“What the hell is wrong with you?  Your claims to him died when you died.”

“He promised me, even in death…”

“And you died.  And I was born to go back and set things right.  You lost your chance.  You screwed up, Kikyou.  You didn’t trust him and you punished him for it.”

“He loved me…”

“And he always will, but his heart is his own to do with as he pleases.  And if he chooses to love another…”

“But you are me.”

“No, I’m not.  We share a soul, but I am not Kikyou.  I’m Kagome, shrine maiden in twentieth century Tokyo, mother of Kaede.  There are parts of me you never had.  Things this soul learned after you died.”

“Such as?”

“Trust.  I trust, Kikyou.  I trust Inu Yasha.  He is willing to give up everything he has, just to save me… Including his hope.  And he does it freely… without being bound.”

“You are wrong there.”

Kagome stared fiercely at her rival.

“You see that thin band of gold around his finger?  You put it there.  Take it off of him so he can be free,” Kikyou said.

“You do it.”

“I can’t, only you can.”

Kagome sniffed and stared at Inu Yasha’s wedding ring.  “If I release him, then you do too.  Let him choose where he wants to be, who he wants to follow.”

“Kagome, don’t…” Inu Yasha breathed.  Opening his eyes to give her a pained look.  “Please don’t take my ring.”

“It’s only a symbol.  Trust me,” Kagome whispered, reaching for his hand.  “Do you agree, Kikyou?”

“Fine.  If we both release him he can choose his own bride.”

Kagome pulled off his wedding band and the wood that bound him disintegrated.  He crouched on the floor, staring at his left ring finger.  He stood and took the ring from Kagome’s hand.  “That’s mine,” he whispered and replaced the ring.  He bent down and picked up the little girl.  “This is mine too,” he said.  He stood before Kikyou.  “You were once mine, but I release you… We don’t hold things we love against their will.  Kagome taught me that.”

“But she bound you too…” Kikyou insisted.  “That ring…”

“I bound myself.  Understand that, Kikyou.  She’s my mate.  I mate for life.  That is my way.  You can’t take that away from me,” Inu Yasha said, pulling his child onto his shoulders and taking Kagome by the hand.

“Inu Yasha!  Inu Yasha!” Kikyou screamed as the small family found Kaede, Myouga and Shippou.

“I take it your business is done with my sister?” Kaede asked once they were safely on the road back to the village.

“It was done a long time ago,” Inu Yasha breathed.

“Inu Yasha-papa… You’re so… so human,” Shippou remarked.

Inu Yasha twitched. 

“I think he’s just fine,” Kagome said, leaning against her husband. 

The group of mismatched travelers followed the road into their futures.

--The End?