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Coincidence is Fate Knocking

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There was always something about her that drew me.  I couldn't tell you what it was exactly, just that I constantly found myself in the same room with her - too often, alone.  Even more annoying was the fact that I usually had no reason to be in the room at that moment. “I was looking for someone else” only works so far before it's obvious that I was either lost or following her.  Neither of which was strictly true.

The day things changed was no exception.  I found myself in the recordings room with no real idea of why and then suddenly noticed she was sorting that day's files at the back table.  Why was I there when I hadn't even consciously known she was there? I at least had a stack of files in my hands, so I didn't look completely out of place, but they had yet to be recorded.  “Are those ready to be copied and filed?” Her voice cut through my stupor, the inquisitiveness in her dark brown eyes stilling my tongue. I looked down at the pile in my arms and tried to come up with some sort of explanation.  She slipped from her chair and approached me. The woman was made of legs and breasts in that dress. At least, that seemed to be all I could focus on. Tight but classy and not at all revealing, her simple business casual dress shouldn't have tongue-tied me.  “Those should go to Georgette's desk,” she explained gently, tapping the top file with her index finger.

“I...  I guess I picked up the wrong stack.”  Now I not only looked like an idiot, she probably thought I was completely incompetent at my job.  I knew where the damn files were supposed to go, I just somehow got sidetracked on my way there.

“Mondays, huh?” she said with a slight smile, quirking her perfectly heart-shaped mouth.  Her lips were made for kissing, that much was clear. “Why don't you come back with those after they've been recorded, then I can be more helpful.”  Her words and her tone implied nothing but a friendly, innocent, suggestion. Her eyes promised something else entirely. Somehow I don't think she knew those chocolate eyes of hers were telling me things I had no right knowing.  Things I had no right knowing but desperately wanted to know anyway.

“Uh, thanks,” I murmured, still feeling the fool.  Her smile was soft and encouraging, while her scent was alluring.  I struggled to turn away, my ears flipping back to catch anything she might say about me as I walked out of the room.  All I heard was a soft sigh after I stepped out. I don't think she knows how good my hearing really is.

When I came back later, this time with the correct set of files, she was perched on a ladder on the left wall, a stack of recordings in one arm and the other stretched out to place a file.  She looked precariously off-balance, the ladder ready to tip at any moment. I dropped the folders in my arms on the nearest table and leaped next to the ladder, grabbing hold of the sides to stabilize it.  I must have startled her because she jolted and nearly fell anyway. “Goodness!” she gasped, the hand holding the file folder pressed to her chest where I could hear her heart racing.

“That's dangerous!” I scolded her, the terror I'd felt for her safety leaking into my voice.  “You could have broken your neck.” I stepped onto the lowest step of the ladder and took the stack of folders from her arm.  Once they were set neatly on the floor I reached out to take her now free hand, helping her down from the ladder. She hopped from the last step and landed closer to me than either one of us had expected.  Her dark brown eyes grew wide as she stared up at me and my mouth went dry as her scent filled my nose.

My mind went somewhere else while my blood took control.  One arm looped around her waist, steadying her against my chest.  She let out a tiny sound of surprise but made no move to protest. My fangs, usually pretty unobtrusive, felt too big in my mouth.  As soon as her chin tilted up, I was lost. Her lips felt like warm silk against mine, pliant yet strong. She didn't completely melt under my kiss either, challenging me with small nips and slips of tongue.  “Yash,” she gasped when I pressed her back against the ladder, her dress sliding up her thighs to let me slip between them. I was an animal I didn't recognize, a beast under no one's control.

A door slamming in another part of the building shook me out of my haze, my head snapping up to listen.  “Kagome...”

“So you do know my name,” she said with a small smile.  Her pupils were dilated, the deep brown of her irises small rings within her eyes.

“Of course I do,” I huffed before backing away.  What the hell was that?   “I... I gotta go.”  She raised an eyebrow at my sudden lack of confidence.  “Don't climb up there like that anymore, you got it?” The attempt at authoritative fell flat and she only smiled and nodded.  I scooped up my stack of files and put them on her desk before leaving, haunted by the taste of her on my lips and the scent of her on my clothes.

 


 

The first time it happened was an accident, something about the alignment of the stars.  At least that's what I told myself every time I thought about kissing Inuyasha in the recordings room.  It shouldn't have happened. We worked together. Well... in the same building anyway. He was technically higher up the chain than I was because he dealt with the more complicated aspects of our business.  I mostly made copies and filed papers all day. That didn't mean that I hadn't wished it would happen for a long time.

But the second time could hardly feel like a fluke.  There's a nook in the back of the recordings room, a tiny hall to a maintenance closet that had become a supply room, which no one can see from the doorway.  Files for last names beginning with F line the shelves around that hall. I was in the middle of contemplating other words that start with F when I heard footsteps.  I went about making myself look busy again, Folson, before Fuller, after Folk...   I finally looked up when it didn't sound like the person was going to move on without acknowledgment.  “Can I...” Remember to breathe?   He was standing there with a pile of folders in his hands, properly recorded this time and ready to be filed.  He knew full well they needed to go on my desk to be logged before they went on the shelf, but he just stood there, staring at me. “...help you?” I finished lamely, my voice so breathy I hardly recognized it as my own.

The tiniest smirk lifted his beautiful mouth and I caught a flash of fang.  Desperately, dangerously, attracted. It was the only description for how I felt about him.

“That depends,” he murmured.  I could see in his eyes that he had forgotten the recordings in his hands and was entirely focused on me.  Taking a deep breath, I set my files on the edge of the shelf and took the ones from his hands. The warmth of his fingers brushing over mine nearly undid me.  I bent down to set the files aside on the floor and nearly fell over in surprise at the feel of his warm body against my backside. A growl rolled in his chest and I glanced up to find his eyes a slightly more copper tone, rather than their usual amber.  His hands were rough on my hips, but his mouth was more gentle on mine. Luckily the shelves were built into the wall in this part of the room or we would have knocked them over as he pressed me against them. His tongue was insistent at my lips until I opened to him.  A pleased growl bubbled out of his throat.

“Yash,” I murmured when his mouth left mine to trail over my jaw and down my neck.  His fingers slid just inside the waistband of my skirt, clearly searching for bare skin.  A gasp left me when he finally found it, warm fingers gliding up and down my spine. Just the barest tickle of claws brushing my back, his mouth capturing mine again, the brush of his hair against my shoulder.  His fingers flexed into my back, arching me toward him. I wrapped my arms around his shoulders, finally giving back what he was giving. His growl intensified, my skin tingling at the feel of the vibration.

“Hold on,” he breathed, lifting me against him and moving toward the hallway.  The nook provided an added level of privacy and he took full advantage of it, hands burying themselves in my hair as he pressed me up against the wall.  “Kagome,” he murmured, his tongue trailing down the strained tendon in my neck and across my collarbone. I whimpered at the feeling of his fangs lightly nipping my skin, taking in the faint smirk on his face.  In retaliation, I took hold of one ear, rubbing the soft appendage between thumb and the first two fingers on my right hand. His groan made me smirk a little, the heat of his breath on my shoulder making me arch into him.  “Damn it, woman,” he growled, his hips pressing into mine, "we shouldn't be doing this." Yet he didn't stop. His kiss was just as intense, his hips pushing his arousal into mine with clear intent. 

I nearly let him just hike my skirt up to my hips. No part of me protested until it was almost too late. "Yash, wait..."  He growled fiercely but pulled himself back. “Not here,” I whispered.

As if for the first time, he looked around and noticed where we were and what he had been intending to do.  I could guess by the look on his face as he looked me over that he hadn’t realized what he was doing and probably wasn’t… prepared.  “Kagome, I-I didn’t hurt you, did I?” he questioned softly. I was startled by his concern. He seemed to become more aware of himself, his senses coming back to him so he was more aware of me as well.  I shook my head, feeling the need to comfort him by caressing his cheek. He leaned into the touch for a brief moment, golden eyes searching my face.

“This just isn’t the be-”

Freezing, the sound of footsteps in the front of the records room made us hold our breath.  Yash silently helped me adjust my clothing, pressing an urgent kiss to my lips before sneaking away.  I watched him go before turning to the supply closet and desperately looking for an excuse to be back there.  Staples, I am out of staples in my desk.   I snatched the box and headed out of the small hallway confidently.  “Oh, Kagome. Just needed a new legal pad.” I smiled thinly at the young woman I barely knew.  “Are there any of those good gel pens in there?”

“Uh, I think there’s one box left.  I’ll put it on my list for the next supply run.”  Rin smiled at me, her hands smoothing over her waist in an unconscious gesture to fix her shirt.  “It’s on the lower shelf,” I directed as I moved out of her way and retrieved the pile of documents from the floor.  Yash was nowhere to be seen and I sighed. It was a good thing we’d stopped, but I couldn’t help feeling a sense of regret.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

It was probably a mistake, asking to see her again, but I couldn't help myself.  I needed to be near her like I needed my next breath, and she seemed to understand.  I found her in the parking structure this time, on her way out to her car, not wanting to risk getting caught again.  I approached her from a distance and with plenty of noise so as not to scare her. It almost seemed like she was waiting for me, a gentle smile on her lips.  “You wanted to talk?” she asked in a voice low enough not to echo off the concrete.

“Not really,” I replied honestly.  Her scent rose in my nose over all other scents in the area as I moved closer.  I saw her smile flicker for barely a moment, faint disappointment in her scent my only clue.  Kagome wasn't a one-night-stand kind of girl, not that I intended to treat her that way, but she wasn't thrilled that my brain seemed to be under my hormones' control.  Stop , I had to tell myself. “Why don't we grab a pizza or something,” I said when I really just wanted to demand she peel out of her clothes and let me kiss every inch of her.  The surprise in her eyes was almost too small to notice, but her scent gave her away.

Scent doesn’t lie.

“Alright.  There's this place on Twelfth Avenue that's really good.”  I found I could only nod in response. “Do you need to get your car...”

“I walk.”

The pizza had turned into hours of small talk and flirting, which only served to keep me on the edge of my chair in anticipation of after.  Kagome spoke softly, laughed merrily and glowed with occasional blushes from my barely veiled innuendos. “We should probably get going.” We , not I , I noticed.  With a nod, I stood from my chair, grabbing her coat off of the hook and helping her into it.

When we got to the parking lot, I remembered that I didn't know how close she lived.  Damn .  Now I would have to come up with a very good excuse to go to her place or outright ask her to come over to mine.  Maybe ask for a ride? “Kagome...”

“I don't usually do this but...”  Both of us paused and grinned sheepishly at the other.  “I live around the corner from here.”

I grinned.  “Is that so?”  Pausing to let the anticipation filter into her scent, I finally said, “I'd like to see your place.”  She smiled back at me before biting her lip. She motioned toward her car with her head. The hint was clear enough.

“So you walk everywhere?” she asked me as she waited for traffic to pass so she could get out of the parking lot.  “Do you live close to the office?”

I shook my head.  “Ten or so miles.”

“Ten miles?  You walk ten miles every morning?!”  I laughed at her incredulous tone.

“A lot faster than driving in the morning traffic, I'll tell you that.  Plus, I take detours sometimes, over roofs and stuff.”

Kagome laughed softly.  “I forgot you're... gifted.”  The reminder made me scowl to myself before I could stop it.  “I'm jealous of your abilities,” she said, not having seen my look.  “To be able to nearly fly...”

“Just a faster way to work.”  She glanced over at me and her smile faded a little.  I could tell her admiration was genuine. She wasn't a youkai-chaser, those humans that had a kink for demon features or abilities. There was no way for her to know it was a touchy subject for me. “This is your place?” I asked her to change the subject.  She nodded, parallel parking with surprising skill and turning the car off. “Kagome.”

Her smile returned, a little too bright perhaps, and she looked out before opening her door and getting out.  I followed suit and followed her up to her door. Maybe going upstairs with her wasn't such a good idea. I shouldn't have mentioned the roof thing.  “Yash...”

“Inuyasha.”  I didn’t like hearing her use the nickname I gave most people.  I wanted her to say my whole given name. Possibly moan it...

“Inuyasha.”  She said my name like she was tasting it on her tongue and it made my blood heat to hear it in her soft voice.  “Look, I may seem naïve, but I do know more than a little about youkai. I'm way below your standards...”

“What?” I nearly choked.  Below my standards? Where the hell had she gotten that idea?!  And where had her confidence gone? “Kagome, I don't know what you've been hearing – or reading – but there is nothing about you that doesn't meet or exceed any ‘standard’ I've ever had.”

She flushed prettily at the praise, smiling at how I used air quotes.  “Someone just... I was told that youkai only... you know, with their own kind.”

I let out a bark of laughter.  “Maybe in the old days. Things are so different now.”  I paused to look her over, my hands needing to touch her.  I took hold of her elbows and pulled her closer, rubbing the chill out of her.  I thought over what she'd said and something stuck out. “Youkai? Kagome, you know I'm not... I'm hanyou.”  She blinked at me several moments and then smiled a little awkwardly.

“Sure.  I mean, it's obvious right.”  I felt my mouth split in a smirk.

“You had no idea,” I teased, backing her toward her front door.  She laughed and tried to deny it. I couldn't help the bubble of pleasure that rose in my gut.  She had just assumed I was full youkai, my ears hadn't phased her. Nor did it matter to her that I was only half. She let out a little gasp when she was pressed between me and the wall beside the door.  I leaned down to kiss her neck, one hand moving up to cradle her head. My fingers laced through her hair, I gently guided her head back so I had the full expanse of her deliciously delicate throat to explore.  I could hear her pulse fluttering, feel it under my tongue. She whimpered softly and I knew I needed to get her alone in a not quite so public place. “Keys,” I breathed in her ear. She fumbled a moment, digging in her coat pocket.

Once inside, Kagome led me by the lips into the elevator and on to her apartment until I accidentally backed her into her door too hard.  The thump of her heels and elbows hitting the wood startled us both and we each snickered softly. Kagome giggled, trying to get her door open while I tried to distract her with licks and kisses on the back of her neck.  The door swung open, spilling us both inside. The lights were off, not that it mattered much with our eyes closed, and I pulled her back against me to keep her from tripping over anything. I shut the door, pressing her up against it instead.  She groaned softly as I skimmed her throat with my teeth.

Kagome fought to pull her coat off while trying to kick her shoes off at the same time.  I helped her balance while taking her mouth with mine again. I couldn't seem to get enough of her taste, the feel of her lips against mine, the press of her tongue along my fangs.  I toed off my shoes just before scooping her into my arms and following my nose to her bedroom. Her scent lingered there most strongly and my nose bathed in it. With Kagome back on her feet, I was able to pluck at the buttons on my shirt until it hung open.  Kagome wasted no time in getting her hands on me. No complaints here.   Her small soft hands had a stronger effect on me than I expected, a growl rolling through my chest as she tried to span my ribs.  “Inuyasha,” she murmured against my lips. “I need you to know something.” I remained still as she explained that she wasn't on birth control, had never been and never would be. I had mixed feelings, but it wasn't really my business. I whispered that I understood what she was telling me and promised her I'd be careful.

She bit her lip in response, her hands leaving my skin only to push the fabric over my shoulders, now bare from the waist up.  I eagerly helped her do the same with her blouse, slightly more careful with the obviously delicate material. She was less gentle with my pants, nearly popping the button in her haste.  I smiled, lifting her by the hips and sitting her on the edge of her bed. Again I was more careful with her slacks, tossing them aside once I had them slipped off. I let my own drop to the floor and chased Kagome up the bed toward her pillows, smiling at her laughter.  “Gods, you are stunning,” I murmured, trailing a thumb across her ribs and down the curve of her body to her hip. There was a wide band of stretch lace that ran just under the tiny curve of her belly and over each hip. Soft cotton absorbed all the evidence of her arousal which was blooming under my touch and perusal.

She squirmed slightly, rubbing her thighs together.  I looked up her body to her face to find her biting her lower lip.  Her lovely face was framed by two perfectly rounded breasts from my current viewpoint and I smirked.  I took my time, nipping and licking my way up her body until I finally reached her lips. With a deep sigh I took her mouth with mine again, smiling at the way her ribs expanded against me in a deep breath of her own.  “Yash,” she sighed in between kisses.

Her hands dug into my hair, tugging a little roughly and scraping her short nails against my scalp.  I growled against her, pressing my arousal into the cradle of her hips. Her thighs opened a little more to let me settle between them.  The heat I found there forced my eyes closed as I had to restrain the urge to simply tear the cloth between us out of the way and drive myself into her.  I had the presence of mind to at least fish protection out of my pants pocket, hissing when Kagome slid it on for me. Her soft hands nearly tore a whine from my throat.  Why do I feel so out of control with her? I wondered desperately, even as I slid the last barrier between us out of the way.  “Kagome,” I murmured, nuzzling her cheek and closing my eyes. Taking in her scent and simply breathing with her for a moment calmed my racing heart and I was able to slowly, calmly, slide into her heat.  Both of us groaned at the feeling of being connected but I tried to ignore the feeling of “rightness” that nearly overwhelmed me.

But no matter what, I kept feeling it.  When I moved within her, when she pulled at my hair, the way she bit my shoulder when she cried out.  Even the way she tasted when I sucked on her perfect breasts, the feel of her under me, on top of me, in front of me.  Everything just felt… right. The way she called my name when she came raised a growl in my chest, my hips snapping against hers as I followed her.  The two of us lay panting afterward, Kagome’s cheek pressed to my chest. It felt… perfect.

I was terrified.

 


 

“So you are seeing someone.”  Sango's tone implied that she was surprised that I hadn't told her.  With good reason. Sango had been my best friend since high school. She met her husband because of my job.  Unfortunately, because she was married to Miroku - who happened to be Inuyasha's supervisor - I really shouldn’t tell her.  Dating within the office wasn't strictly forbidden, but it wasn't exactly smiled upon by the powers that be.

“Sort of?  It's not... serious,” I tried to hedge.

“Spill it, girl!”

With a sigh, I sat down next to her on the bench in her backyard where we were watching her twins play.  They were just barely three, but they were a huge handful already. They had moved out of the biting phase into the hair-pulling phase.  Sango had threatened to shave both girls' heads if they didn't stop it soon. “It's really casual.” She glanced at me with a look that said she knew better than that.  “It's Yash,” I whispered, covering my face in my hands. I heard her astonished gasp and felt her hand on my arm. I knew Sango came from a long family line of tajiya, youkai slayers, a fairly rare job in this day and age, but part of her history.  Inuyasha was a good friend of Miroku's, despite being an employee, so I knew they didn't have a problem with his heritage. But mixing was still... taboo.

“You've been crushing on him for years!”

“Thank you, thank you for reminding me,” I replied sarcastically.  “Now I feel like a creeper.”

Sango didn't fall for my humor distraction.  “Have you slept with him yet?”

“Really?” I asked in exasperation.  “That's the first thing you want to know?!” Sango lifted a brow at me.  "Your husband is a terrible influence."

“So you have.  That's not casual.  Not anymore.” I opened my mouth to retort something about how casual sex was perfectly acceptable as long as it was safe.  “Never mind how you are about it, he doesn't do that.” Another shocker. I had always been rather... reserved in the sex department.  I had to date someone a long time before it even became an option. Somehow, with Inuyasha, there had never been an option. I had to. I needed to.  He had never pressured me, never demanded anything, and yet I had always felt this burning need to be with him. But to hear that he didn't just jump into bed with anything that moved?

“Doesn't do that with humans, you mean.”

Sango laughed softly, getting up to pull the girls apart and give them each one of the same toy and send them in different directions for a moment.  “That won't last,” she sighed. “And no, I mean he doesn't do that pretty much at all.” She leaned back a little, crossing her arms over her chest. “Yash is a terrible flirt, as in he is actually terrible at it.  He says the wrong thing, forgets he’s scowling, and he has a tendency to tell a girl she smells wrong without thinking about it.”

“Are you sure we're talking about the same guy?” I asked with a tilt of my head.  The Inuyasha I knew had never made any of those kinds of mistakes. In fact he had a tendency to tell me I smelled good all the time.  Particularly when in bed... “He's never told me I smell wrong.” Sango just raised her brow at me as if to remind me of her initial statement.  “We only see each other once in a while, it's not a big deal.” She left me to go grab one of the girls, who was crying, and tried to get out of the sobbing three-year-old what had happened.  Sighing, I got up and went to help, picking up the other twin as Sango decided they'd had enough outside time for the afternoon and that maybe it was time for a nap. After the conversation with her, I thought I might need a nap too.

Which I wasn't going to get, of course.  There was a very attractive hanyou waiting outside my building when I pulled up to park.  I blew out a frustrated breath before getting out of the car.

“Are you stalking me now?” I asked playfully.

“Nah.”  He paused.  “You've been over at the bouzu's with the monsters?” he asked with a scowl.  Miroku had gained the title of “crooked monk” from Inuyasha years before. He had been studying to be a monk in his youth back in Japan, but found the history more appealing than the vows themselves.  Especially the vow of celibacy. In the time before Miroku met Sango, he'd been an insufferable flirt and a womanizer. Most women knew right off the bat to stay away, but Sango had seen something in him that she knew could be more.  She'd managed to pull it out of him and now he was a dedicated, if perverted, husband and a loving father.

“They aren't monsters.”  He tipped his head at me.  “Most of the time.” I smiled.  “They're spirited.”

“They pull my ears,” he complained.  “Most kids do if given the chance.”

“If it makes you feel better, they pull each other’s hair now.”  He smirked a little. I shook my head and just laughed softly. “Were you wanting to go somewhere?”  This was supposed to be a casual thing, no strings really, but Inuyasha had taken to showing up at my place more frequently for no real reason and sometimes not even for sex.  I could count on both hands the number of times in the last month he'd shown up and just wanted to take me to a movie or had brought over a DVD to snuggle in and watch. Obviously I wasn't complaining, I just wasn't sure that this still fell under the category of “casual.”  We were supposed to be keeping it casual per his request.

“Keh.  Just came by to see you.”  The silly little girl part of my heart swooned while the more adult jaded part of me was skeptical.

“I'm actually kinda tired...”  He scoffed, tugging on my hand and taking my keys.  He led me into my building, letting us into my apartment and helped me out of my sweatshirt and shoes before lifting me into his arms.  I didn't protest because I wanted to see what he was up to. My bed felt plenty cushy under me when he set me on it, but even better when he slipped my clothes off and gently told me to lay on my stomach.  I noticed that he hadn't removed a stitch of his own clothing.

His warm hands, well lubricated with lotion, gently touched my shoulders before he started kneading the muscles at my lower back.  Groaning in pleasure, I melted under his hands as he worked as many of the kinks out of my back as he could. I was nearly asleep by the time he was done and I could only grunt softly when he carefully worked a pair of soft pants onto my legs and an old flannel button down over my arms.  He didn't button it, but I felt warm and cozy. I vaguely heard the rustle of clothing before he climbed into bed beside me.

He shifted me closer, my head resting on his chest while his arms came around me.  These were not the actions of an awkward, incapable flirt. Neither were these the actions of a man who simply wanted to keep things casual.  Without knowing why exactly, I felt tears come to my eyes. “Hey, Kagome?” he murmured. “Are you ok?” I nodded slowly. “You're crying.”

“There are strings attached,” I murmured.  To his credit, he seemed unsurprised by what I'd said.  

His chest lifted below me in a deep breath.  “There were bound to be eventually. We'll see where they lead.”  I nodded, finally letting sleep take me.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Laying with Kagome asleep on my chest had become my favorite pastime.  She had rarely stayed the night at my place in the past, afraid to intrude on my space.  As the months passed and we became more intertwined in each other's lives, that became less of an issue.  We still didn't want to get in trouble at work, so we hadn't made a big deal about dating, but it was clear that we weren't just casual anymore.  I looked down at where her head rested against me in the dark. Her dark hair against my pale silver made for a distinct contrast. Were we that different, black and white?  Was it ever that simple? No, of course it isn't.   I wanted it to be though, so I wouldn't feel so conflicted.

I had tried to stay distant from her, to keep distance between us, but it was a battle I was rapidly losing.  My desire for her had not lessened in the least and her trust and affection were slowly wearing down my barriers.  Everything about Kagome made me feel comfortable, like this was right, not just the sex. Her laying in my arms was right.  Her smelling of me when she spent the night with me was right. Thinking about her almost every waking moment was right. And yet I knew that it wasn't.  It was too soon for me to be thinking about having her move in with me. It was too soon to want her to spend every night in my arms. It wasn't right to be thinking about introducing her to my brother.

In the past that would have seemed like a giant mistake on so many levels.  Sesshomaru had always been more than a bit indifferent toward me and what I was doing with myself.  As long as it didn't somehow bring shame on him, then he didn't care what I did. Something about meeting Rin and his relationship with her had changed his attitude.  There was no other explanation for the change in the way he interacted with me. Not that I really cared what he thought of me, it was just nice to have a conversation with him in public and not have it boil into a battle.

Kagome gently shifted against me, distracting me from thinking about my stiff older sibling.  A soft murmur left her lips without any meaning. I smiled down at her while my free arm carefully rubbed her back until she sighed and settled down.  Her smooth skin reminded me of a baby's, which in turn reminded my wandering brain that my brother's mate was pregnant with his pup at the moment. That he had chosen to marry and mate with a human had surprised a lot of youkai.  That he had decided to father children with her, hanyou children, was almost beyond reason.

With Kagome there in my arms, I wondered if there was even a chance for reason when it came to it.  If you loved someone enough to marry them - for a youkai, to mate with them - how could you stop yourself from wanting to create a child with them?  To truly unite and create a soul combining yours with the one you loved?

I frowned and shook my head at myself.  Late night pondering needs to stop , I decided.  My mind had taken an extremely dangerous turn toward long-term and that wasn't really an option with Kagome... at least it wasn't supposed to be.  I was reminded again of how quickly things had slipped into not-so-casual territory. The main reason I hadn’t asked her to make things more official with me yet was the fear that it would scare her off.  I shook my head at myself and buried my nose in her hair, letting her scent lull me to sleep. It vaguely occurred to me that her scent seemed different just before I was out.

 


 

A sigh left me without my permission and I tried to restrain my tears.  He would know I'd been crying and he would want to know why. And I couldn't tell him.  Why did I have to feel ashamed of wanting something that had become so precious to me? It wasn't just his feelings about kids that made me feel as though what I wanted was wrong. Society looked down on women like me.  Women who wanted children, even if they weren't married. It wasn't as if I'd intentionally tried to get pregnant. No holes in the condoms or lying about birth control. I had been upfront about not being on anything and he had taken it in stride, promising to be careful, not asking me to do anything differently.

I made enough money on my own that I didn't need another person’s help to support a child and I had been living well within my means for a long time.  That didn't mean I wouldn't want someone, just that I didn't need them. Inuyasha wasn't the nurturing type, certainly not yet. He wasn't at that place in his life where he was ready to be responsible for another life.  It could be a long time before he was ready for that, given that those with youkai blood aged so differently from humans. And I had no intention of forcing him to be. Whatever life there could be would be my responsibility and mine alone.

But there wasn't one, the reason for my tears.

Why had I been so sure?  Something in my brain had just clicked over to the idea that I shouldn't drink and that eating healthier would be a good idea.  Certain smells had affected me in ways they never had before. But none of it meant anything. Psychosomatic I guess. The phone by the door rang, letting me know that someone wanted to be buzzed in.  “Hello,” I answered, praying it wasn't who I was afraid it would be.

“Kagome.  Let me up?”  I closed my eyes and took a shaky breath.  “Kagome?”

“Yep, just a second,” I replied cheerily.  I pressed the button to let Inuyasha in through the front and went straight to the bathroom to splash cold water on my face and try to wash away any stress sweat.  The last thing I needed was him questioning me about why my face was red or why I stank. I heard the door to my apartment open and I took another deep breath to calm myself down.  Inuyasha didn't wait for me to come out, however, opening the door to my bathroom. Startled, I squeaked out “Inuyasha?”

“What's wrong?  You sounded funny on the phone.”  I flashed him a smile while internally cursing his hearing.

“Nothing.  I was just across the apartment when you called up.  I hurried.” His dark brows, so incongruous with his silver hair, came down heavily over his golden eyes.  I watched in horror as his nostrils flared and his mouth twisted in a frown. He knew I wasn't telling the truth.  He glanced behind me to rest of the bathroom, back at me with concerned eyes and then turned around sharply. I was speechless.  The couch squeaked as he plopped down on it.

“Do you want to grab something to eat out or call in?” he asked instead of whatever question he seemed likely to a moment ago.  Trying not to gape like a fish, I opened my mouth to say something and then snapped it shut again. “How about the ramen place up the street?  I haven't eaten there in a while,” he said, getting up again and heading toward the door. He barely waited for me to put my coat and shoes on before he was out the door.

 


 

My heart was still racing as we walked down the street.  Kagome had been pregnant. Maybe only for a few weeks at most, but the scent of it clung to the inside of my nose like vines, digging into my brain.  How? When?!   I couldn't remember slipping up, but maybe a condom had broken. Sometimes we could be a bit… Enthusiastic.  

Had she known?  If so, why hadn't she told me?  She had been acting a little funny the last couple weeks, but I knew she was concerned about the holidays coming up.  We hadn't discussed what that would mean for us, if we would celebrate them together, with family separately or if we would each spend a holiday with each other's families.  I had written off her behavior as worry over that, as a female thing about her weight or something. Kagome was amazing, and in amazing shape, but I felt like women always worried about that kind of stuff when they were going to be seeing people they hadn't seen in a long time.

But if she had known...  She'd never seemed upset.  In fact she'd been happier, joyful even.  Had she known and she was pleased? That seemed unlikely.  What human woman would be happy about being accidentally impregnated by her youkai lover?  We were at least exclusive now, not that we hadn’t been, but we still couldn't really tell anyone.  And even while I had been thinking about us having a future together, she may not have been.

Granted she had been the first one to mention that she was starting to feel attached.  Strings. And I had sort of admitted that I felt the same. It was a whole lot more complicated now, though.  I was starting to think about Marking her when we were in the middle of a heated moment. I was wondering what it would be like to have her in my life every single day for the rest of my likely long life.  There were moments I woke up in the morning, reaching for her when she wasn't there. Whatever I had thought before about not wanting to get too involved was slipping away all too quickly.

“Inuyasha?” her questioning tone made me look up and I glanced over my shoulder.  She was almost a block behind me and we had long since passed the ramen place I'd mentioned.  Now she's going to know there's something on my mind , I thought with a curse.  I turned back to her, meeting her half way.  There were tears in her eyes and she was slightly out of breath.  “Wh-What's wrong?” she asked, trying desperately to hold back her tears and appear calm.

Should I lie? Ask her for the truth?  I thought over my answer while pulling her into my arms and protecting her face from the wind.  She shivered slightly, little twitches in her frame letting me know she was holding back sobs. “Don't cry,” I murmured into her hair, gently running a clawed hand through it.  “I-I was thinking too hard and I wasn't paying attention.”

“...not crying,” she mumbled stubbornly into my shirt, her words muffled by the fabric.  Considering how little we talked about anything emotional, I guessed she thought I would be irritated that she was crying.  I was, but only because I'd caused it.

I wanted so badly to ask her about the pregnancy, but a thought occurred to me that stole my breath.  Maybe she had known and didn't tell me because she'd terminated it. Kagome didn't seem to be the kind of person who could be nonchalant about something like that, so it would make sense for her to have been crying earlier... and now.  I hugged her more tightly. Had it been because she just wasn’t ready? Because it was mine? Because we weren't in a steady committed relationship? Because she didn't want children at all? There were so many possibilities.

While part of me felt I had the right to know, that it was my pup, the other - more practical - part knew it was an extremely personal thing to ask a woman.  It wasn’t my decision to make. And I had already set the standard for not talking about personal matters. We had established at the beginning that this was just casual, yet I had been the one to take it through the next several steps.  I started showing up at her place. I started calling her just to hear her voice. She might have been the first one to admit to deeper feelings, but I had probably been thinking the same thing before she had. She'd tried to stick to the rules and I'd broken them all.

Without thinking, I picked her up and jumped onto the nearest building, tucking her into my coat to protect her from the wind.  She squeaked, but didn't struggle, letting me carry her home. I landed on the roof of her building and had to use the balconies of the apartments on the upper floors to get down.  Kagome still let me carry her into her building and to her apartment, only moving to help me get out her keys. “I was an ass,” I apologized, finally putting her down on her couch. I pulled the blanket she kept on the back down and around her shoulders while staring into her dark eyes, still brimming with tears she wouldn't let fall and red from trying not to cry.

“Look, I know it's embarrassing or whatever, but it does it every month, I can't help it.”  My head tilted slightly in confusion. She blew out a frustrated breath at me. “My body... my cycle,” she said, waving one hand in a general way.  My eyes widened as I realized what she meant. This whole time I had been worried about the opposite possibility and here she thought I was grossed out by something her body did naturally!

“I know that,” I replied, sharper than I meant to.  Kagome's mouth twisted uncomfortably. “I just meant that I'm aware of it,” I said more softly, tapping my nose.  She blushed, looking away. “Don't worry about it. At least I know you. Think about all the other women I have to smell that I don't know.”

“Ew,” she replied, trying to keep herself from giggling.

“That's nothing compared to men though,” I said, intentionally being a little dramatic.  Her lips twitched. “Men are gross. At least women are more particular about their scents.  Men couldn't care less!” Kagome stopped holding in her laughter and finally smiled at me. Her face turned a little serious again and I wondered if she would tell me.

“It's just weird that you know that about me.”

I sighed.  No dice on the truth.  “Even if I couldn't smell it, you avoid me around this time of month because you don't want to have sex.”

“Inuyasha!” she squeaked, turning pink.

“What?” I said with a shrug.  “Anyone that pays attention to their partner will learn pretty quickly when it isn't a good time, good nose or not.  Not that it would bother me either way.” She rolled her eyes at me waggling my eyebrows at her. I felt relief that she was at least smiling again.  I thought about trying to casually bring up a (clearly not so) hypothetical “oops” situation, try out the waters, but she bustled about to do something about feeding us and I lost my nerve.  Part of me didn’t want to know… was afraid to know.

 

Chapter Text

 

    The holidays were creeping up on us sooner than I would have liked and we still hadn't decided how we were going to deal with them.  Considering the fact that we were supposed to be having no more than a casual relationship, never mind that we'd already both acknowledged that it was past that, it didn't seem likely that we would be meeting each other's families.  I tried not to feel disappointed. Despite feeling like I didn't know him as well as I wanted to, I really liked Inuyasha. I knew he was a good guy. He was kind to me, clearly attracted to me, and he seemed to like me too. I wanted to introduce him to my family.

    Therein lay the problem.  We hadn't talked much about family.  I had mentioned that my mother and grandfather still lived in and managed the shrine I'd grown up on.  My little brother had just started college and visited on the weekends. Inuyasha had mentioned he had an older half brother and a sister-in-law, but other than that I knew almost nothing about them.  I guessed that his parents were gone, but I didn't know for sure. It would likely be a touchy subject and one that fell outside of our safety bubble of conversation.

    What about old relationships?  Sango had made it sound like he had never had one, but I couldn't believe that.  The whole idea of not getting too serious had been covered by the excuse about not getting in trouble at work, but it clearly stemmed from something else.  Had he been burned in the past? I tried not to pull my hair out in frustration. There were so many variables that I just didn't know! What if he had an ex that he still saw once in a while, and that's why he didn't make things more serious with me?  I didn't want to be anyone's “other woman” and I didn't want to unknowingly be a rebound either.

    “Do you always think this hard or is this a special occasion?”  I squealed and rolled off the side of the bed. The day had been unusually warm so the balcony door was open a little.  Clearly Inuyasha had noticed and decided to let himself up rather than call through the intercom.

    “Don't do that!” I cried, pulling myself up on the edge of the bed.  

    He was kneeling on the other side, a concerned little frown hanging on his face.  “Sorry.” He offered his hand and helped me up. “Are you alright?” I nodded, rubbing my elbow where it had hit the floor.  “Let me see,” he murmured, gently taking my arm in his hands and examining me. “It might bruise,” he said after a small sound rose in his throat.  Had he just... whimpered? He quickly looked away, dropping my arm and walking past me into the kitchen. I heard him ruffling around in my freezer and he soon came back with a tea towel with ice in it.  “Here,” he said softly, lifting my elbow again. He sat on the edge of the bed, pulling me down next to him.

    “I'll probably live,” I teased him and he chuckled.  Lifting my arm in one hand, he held the ice up against my elbow with the other.  “You don't have to do that,” I whispered, slightly startled by the gentle attention.

    “Keh.”  His catchall response.  I just smiled a little and shook my head.  “Didn't mean to startle you like that.” I told him I knew it was an accident.  I completely overreacted. “You were thinking really hard. What about?”

    I hesitated.  Considering our last fiasco when I had tried to lie to him, I decided on something near the truth.  “Honestly? Us.” He merely grunted, checking my elbow with a touch to see if it was swelling and then returning the ice to it.  “I just wasn't sure if I could tell my family about you when I went home for the holidays.” His golden eyes lifted to meet with mine.  There was more than a little surprise and not a little hurt. The hurt surprised me.

    “You don't want to tell them about me?” he questioned in a whisper, then straightened his back and tried to appear nonchalant.  “Tell them or don't, whatever.”

    “I do want to,” I corrected him.  Again, the surprise, and a maybe a little wonder.  “I just didn't know if you wanted me to. I mean... have you mentioned it to your brother?”

    Inuyasha snorted.  “We don't really talk.”

    “Oh,” was all I could think to say. I took a breath. "Did... Did you already make plans for the holidays?" I asked softly.  His bright eyes lifted to mine from where he was studying my arm again. "I mean, it's ok if you have."

"No, I don't usually do anything special. I think Rin might be expecting me this year for Christmas," he said thoughtfully.  “She’s talked my brother into inviting me over. He usually wouldn’t do it, but he’ll do anything she wants with the pup on the way.”

“She’s… pregnant?” I whispered.  The jealousy hit me like a ton of bricks.  Inuyasha’s eyes shot to my face and I fought to think about something else.  “That’s great for them. You should go spend Christmas with them.” Inuyasha was clearly suspicious.

“Are you…”  He changed his mind, not asking what he so obviously wanted to.  “You should come with me,” he said instead. I swallowed. I desperately wanted to tell him no.  Being around a happily married and pregnant couple might be more than I could handle without doing or saying something that would give me away.  Looking into his eyes, I could see him waiting for the rejection. He expected me to say no because he didn’t think I would want to know more about him, know his family.  He assumed I would only meet his low expectation.

“You would want me to meet them?” I asked.  His golden eyes widened slightly before he gave a startled nod.  “I-I would really like that.” And it wasn’t a lie. I felt honored that he’d even offered.  My only trepidation was in spending so much time with a woman I knew I would feel intense, admittedly irrational, jealousy of and my boyfriend’s brother who I got the impression was not terribly friendly.

“Great.  So Thanksgiving?” he asked, a gleam in his eye.  I smiled.


Thanksgiving was probably, by far, my favorite holiday.  Eat as much as I could handle in one sitting without judgment?  Hell yea! This year I was actually going to spend it with a real family.  Not mine. Kagome’s mother apparently went all out for the food holiday. A full spread, a potluck besides and several desserts.  Kagome, her mother, grandfather and brother, as well as a few extended family members, would be there. I was a little nervous.

Kagome came from a shrine family, her grandfather the head priest.  She made it clear that he had no spiritual ability whatsoever, but that he might try to demonstrate his “power” upon my arrival.  Kagome had already told her mother about me, so she was prepared to step in if necessary. Which seemed unlikely, but it made me feel better all the same.  Kagome was trying to hide her nervousness from me, but I knew she was antsy about introducing me to her family. She told me she had this cousin who was hypercritical of her.  Apparently they were similar in age and her cousin was very successful, beautiful and had a successful husband.  

I took the opportunity to pinpoint and kiss every part of her I found beautiful, and successfully make her cry out my name several times.

Arriving at the shrine was a little more daunting in practice than it had been in thought.  I’d planned out the whole thing only to find myself intimidated by the traditional torii gate looming over the entrance.  “You won’t have a problem,” she whispered to me, gripping my hand and drawing my attention to her. She was dressed in a vintage-style dress under her long peacoat, knee-high boots clinging to her shapely calves.  Her hair was pulled up in some crazy and intricate thing that had required at least a hundred bobby pins. I grinned at the thought that all the waiting for her to get it up was worth being the one to tousle it all later, to send all those pins flying.  Her smile was bright but nervous, but I could tell it was due to her own insecurities and not anything about me.

“What if your family hates me,” I said, teasing her.

She scoffed.  “My family will love you.  Mama is already so excited to see your ears.”  I gaped at her. She told her mother about my ears?  “Be careful, she may try to rub them.” I gave her a horrified look and I slapped my hands over the sensitive appendages.

“Only you get to do that!” I hissed without thinking.  The grin that lit her face was radiant and I found myself pulled into a kiss.

“Only me?” she whispered, clearly pleased.

“Keh,” I groused.  “They’re sensitive, that’s all.”

Kagome’s smile turned wicked.  “Oh, I know.” The flush of heat from her words pushed all the nervousness out of me.  I pulled her hand under my arm and tucked it into my elbow, starting up the long path. A glance to my left showed me Kagome’s light blush and I smiled.

The smile didn’t stay on my face for long.  The whirlwind of meeting Kagome’s mother, brother and grandfather was a little overwhelming but fine.  Her grandfather only tried to peg me in the head with an ofuda - a completely useless ofuda - once, then was scolded into submission by his granddaughter and daughter-in-law.  Kagome’s brother Sota immediately thought I was the coolest thing since the invention of Nintendo, which I basked in for a while. Until more of her family showed up.

“Inuyasha? What are you doing here?”  The sound of her voice alone sent chills down my spine and I turned slowly on my heel, barely able to keep from dropping the beer in my hand.  Kagome’s scent reflected her confusion from where she stood beside me and the anger I guessed - correctly - meant this was the cousin she did not get along with.  “Kagome darling, did you bring him?”

“Yes, Kikyo.”  There was a stiff pause as she looked over her cousin and her husband.  The pair stood in the hallway, angry brown eyes freezing me in place while her husband’s looked on curiously.  “How are you?” Kagome greeted, a glance my way letting me know we would have to talk later. “You look great.” I sensed the agitation in Kagome as she stiffly hugged her cousin, the rounded belly between them more like a canyon than a growing child.  Was Kagome… anxious? I had noticed something in her scent when I told her about Rin and Sesshomaru’s pup, but I had dismissed it at the time.

The thought quickly flew from my head when Kikyo’s eyes returned to me.  “You seem well, Kikyo,” I said softly. I didn’t know what else to say. This woman had torn my heart out and stomped all over it.  How can she be related to Kagome? I thought incredulously.  Not only was my luck terrible, I couldn’t believe the two came from the same family tree.  It had been years ago, and she was much less mature then, but Kikyo had used me and thrown me aside.  And I let her.

“Kikyo, dear, come sit in the kitchen with me!” Kagome’s mother said with a smile, breaking the uncomfortable silence and the eye contact that had kept me prisoner.  Kikyo flashed her aunt a smile and patted her husband’s arm when he took her coat before following the hostess into her kitchen.

I waited for the husband to go put their coats in the laundry room before sweeping Kagome along with me up to her childhood bedroom.  “You know my cousin?” she hissed, clearly distraught.

“She… we…”  I growled, setting my beer down on her desk.  “Kikyo and I dated years ago. It ended badly.”  Kagome sat on her bed, the springs squeaking under her slight weight.  I didn’t want to admit it, but I had to. “She destroyed me, Kagome,” I whispered, kneeling down in front of her.  She wouldn’t look me in the eye and it was killing me. When she finally met my gaze, her eyes were filled with tears.  “I’m sorry,” I breathed, guilt slamming into me. “I should have told you. She never talked about her family. I had no idea she was related to you.”

“How would you?” she murmured.  Her face crumpled and she tried to look away from me again.  I caught her cheeks in my hands, wiping her tears away with my thumbs.  “Everything. She’s got everything.” My body froze at her words. It was becoming clear that the cousins’ rivalry went much deeper than I had guessed.  “She graduated top of her class in college, got a great job, and married Hojo. Now… now they’re pregnant.” I couldn’t help the way that stuck in my mind, the way she said it.  It was jealousy, but not about Kikyo’s supposedly perfect life. Kagome interrupted my thought with a sob. “She even had you first.”

“Hey, I’m not a toy,” I tried to tease her.  It fell flat. “Kagome, I swear I didn’t know.  I wouldn’t have come today if I’d known. I don’t want to ruin your family dinner.”

Her hand flew to my shirt collar, tugging me nose to nose with her.  “You can’t leave. If you leave, she’ll joke about how I can’t even keep a man around for one night.”

I balked.  “She would say that?  In front of your mother?”

“No.  She waits until after the meal when we’re on kitchen duty.”  She took a deep breath, looking up at me in a way that told me she was about to confess something.  “Hojo liked me in high school. We even went on a few dates. But… It doesn’t matter really. Then Kikyo's family moved into town…”  This had to have been where their rivalry started, or at least when it escalated. If it was high school, that meant it was before I even knew Kikyo.

“Well he definitely lost out,” I breathed.  Kagome shot me a wry grin through her tears.

“It doesn’t matter now.  Hojo and I could only ever have been friends.”  Her face dropped again. “Not that Kikyo would ever believe that.  She’s definitely made a few comments about how unfortunate I am to have missed the boat with Hojo while drying dishes.”

“Then I’ll help.  She won’t be able to stand that long anyway, right?”  Kagome’s watery eyes blinked a few times before she kissed me, hard.  Desperate and needy, I pushed back against her until she lay back on the bed.  I wanted to prove to her that I was by her side, that I wasn’t going anywhere. Not with her family downstairs and this squeaky-ass bed!   I sighed, pulling her into a hug and standing.  “Look, if we stick together, she’s not going to say anything.”

“Ok,” she said in a tiny voice.

“Are you ok?” I murmured into her hair.  She nodded a little. “Kagome, I don’t like it when you’re upset,” I confessed softly, kissing the top of her head.  Her fists, still clinging to my collar, tightened a moment. When she let go to lean back, she looked like she wanted to say something, the look in her eyes uncertain.

    “Kagome!  Food is done!  Mom needs help with plating,” her brother called from the bottom of the stairs.  I sighed as she pulled back from me, her eyes shuttered again. Internally I cursed the kid’s timing.  Was she going to tell me what really upset her about seeing her cousin? Was she going to admit to the pregnancy that had ended?  She’d been completely open and vulnerable to me for that one breath. Damn .


    I had almost told him about my wish.  In that moment, knowing he was there for me and only me, wanting to protect me and support me…  I almost asked him. But Sota interrupted and I realized what a mistake that would have been. Telling Inuyasha that I wanted children, even if it was a general statement, would freak him out.  At least I assumed it would. He had made a big deal about keeping things casual - which we both had acknowledged this relationship no longer was - and I had assumed it was due to his age. Or rather his agelessness.  He potentially still had decades to settle down and father children if he wanted to do that. That I had determined by age twenty that I wanted children, my resolve only strengthening in the last few years, would be odd to him.  It was odd to most people. I was supposed to want a husband and a marriage first. I wasn’t supposed to be ok with having a child by myself if necessary. Now there was the added factor that I really wanted a child with Inuyasha’s expressive amber eyes.

    Better yet, his adorable ears.

    I was starting to wonder if his relationship with my cousin was the reason behind his determination to keep his distance from me.  He said “destroyed .”  A pretty intense word for a breakup.  I knew nothing about it. I intentionally didn’t communicate with my cousin very often, but I never knew she had been dating someone of youkai ancestry, let alone that it was Inuyasha.  She had always been - the best word I could think of - dismissive of youkai. I’d always gotten the feeling that she would rather not have contact with them if at all possible, but that she didn’t outright hate them like some humans did.

    And when would it have even happened? Inuyasha had lived here for the better part of two decades, so it couldn't have been before their family moved. I always thought Kikyo and Hojo had dated from the time we were in high school.  I mean, I knew they went to separate colleges. Had they broken up and not told anyone? Had… No.  No way Kikyo cheated on Hojo with Inuyasha! Right?

    “Come on,” he said hesitantly, clearly wanting to stay right where we were.  I smiled a little sadly, letting him release me and slipping from his arms. Time to face my cousin and her big baby belly.  And her fat head , I thought, trying to make myself feel better for Inuyasha’s sake.

    “I’m sorry you have to see her again,” I whispered, the two of us making our way down the stairs.  He flashed me a half smile but said nothing. Sota, my grandfather, my uncle and Hojo were all watching a football game while Kikyo, Mama, my aunt and my cousin Kaede were in the kitchen.  I left Yash to settle in with the boys while I went in to greet the new arrival. “Kaede, it’s so good to see you!” I was genuinely glad to see my younger cousin. She was always sweet and a little brainy, somewhat shy.  She was turning into a lovely young woman. She grinned at me before glancing at her sister, who pointedly ignored me.

    “You too, Kagome.  How’s everything going?”  I gave her a hug and told her everything was fine.  She slid a look at her sister again, rolling her eyes as she looked back at me.  I grinned. Kaede was often frustrated by her sister’s attitude as well and she was letting me know she knew everything wasn’t fine.  “Oh! I meant to tell you. I got into Johns Hopkins. Early admission!” Even if I hadn’t known what an achievement that was for her, I could see the way she was absolutely glowing with pride.

    “Kaede!  That’s fantastic.  I’m so proud of you,” I squealed, giving her another hug.

    “Thanks, Kagome.  Yea, I got in, now I have to stay in,” she said with a wry smile.

    “I have no doubt you’ll do fine.  Just remember you don’t have to be perfect,” I reminded her with another hug.  Kaede would burn herself out early if she tried to attain perfect grades in all her classes and participate in the extracurricular clubs I knew she would find.  Bringing up having a social life in front of her sister would be a bad idea, so I stayed silent on the subject.

    “Can you girls get the plates and things on the table in the dining room?” Mama asked with a smile, pointing with a wooden spoon to where there were dinner plates and silverware piled on the kitchen table.  The kitchen wasn’t big enough to seat everyone, so we usually sat at the more formal table in the dining room for big family meals. Kaede nodded, going over to grab all the silverware and napkins she could hold at once while I grabbed a stack of plates.  The two of us giggled over all the memories we had of doing exactly this every year for the last ten years or more. One year Kaede dropped all the forks on the floor and we had to wash them all again before we could use them. When I was in high school, I dropped two plates and had to work off replacing them for the next six months.  When we were much younger, the task had been Kikyo’s and mine, but we argued too much so our mothers had delegated the task to Kaede and asked Kikyo to help in the kitchen instead.

    “Do you need help with anything?”  I jumped slightly at the sound of his voice, his broad hand on my hip.  I would have dropped the plates left in my hands if he hadn’t shot out a hand to stabilize them.  “Whoa, sorry.” Tossing Inuyasha a grin over my shoulder, I shook my head at him.

    “Wouldn’t have been the first time.  I think we’ve got it. Kaede, have you met Inuyasha?”

    “Oh… Um… No.”  Inuyasha stiffened behind me but said nothing.  “Nice to meet you.”

    “Kaede is Kikyo’s younger sister.”  Had I done something wrong? Said something wrong?

    “I caught that.  Nice to meet you.”  The stiffness faded from his form after a moment and Kaede smiled softly.  “I overheard about med school. Congratulations.” Kaede smiled brightly before offering thanks and expressing how she still couldn’t believe it herself.  “Hey, I bet you earned it. They don’t just let any slacker into pre-med at Johns Hopkins.” I loved how he interacted so well with my family. He’d been this way with Sota too when they met earlier.  The relaxed ease and simple but honest compliments…

    “Kagome was supposed to go pre-med.  I still don’t know what changed her mind.”  It was my turn to freeze, my hands going numb.  If Inuyasha hadn’t been right there I would have dropped the plates this time for sure.  He took them from my nerveless fingers and set them on the last two open place settings. “Kagome?”

    I blinked a moment before offering Kaede a tiny smile.  “I just figured out it wasn’t for me. I’m not cut out for that.”  Kaede obviously realized for the first time that maybe there was a reason I hadn’t told anyone why I’d forgone med school and gone for a more general degree.  “Inuyasha, do you guys need more beer out there?” He opened his mouth to protest but I didn’t give him the chance. “There’s more in the shed. I’ll go get some.  I’ll be right back.” I left the room before anyone could say anything, slipping on my coat before heading out through the laundry room to the back door. I heard the door open and close again behind me, but didn’t look back.  My only thought was that I had to get to the shed, had to get away.

    “Kagome, wait.”  I shook my head, still charging toward the relative safety of the shed.  “Kagome!” A hand gripped my shoulder, stopping my forward momentum and spinning me around.  “Stop! Just stop.” I couldn’t look at him, couldn’t look up and see the question in his eyes.  “What the hell has you so upset?” I tried to turn from him again only to have his strong arms wrap around me.  “No, don’t hide. Not from me,” he whispered. “You don’t have to tell me anything,” he assured me, walking us toward the shed to get out of the wind.  “I know you have your reasons and they are yours to keep or tell.”

    It spilled out of me without my permission.  “My dad died of cancer.”

    He was silent a long while, his arms simply holding me close to his chest.  “This was… right in the middle of college?” I nodded. “The doctors… they couldn’t do anything.”  It wasn’t a question. It was as if he completely understood exactly what I’d felt. The hopelessness, the frustration, the anger and the helplessness.  Looking up into his face in the faint light of the night sky, I could see what he likely wouldn’t tell me. He’d lost a parent in a similar way. I wasn’t sure if it was his father or mother - I now knew they were both gone - but he had felt what I had, knew the pain of watching someone you love die and not being able to do anything to help.  “My mother died from a… god, it sounds so stupid to say it aloud… she died of a broken heart.” He was completely serious.

    “Your father?”  He nodded. “I’m sure there’s a much more scientific term for it, but it does happen.”

    “He died protecting her… us. I was just a baby. Th-Things were very different then.”  I shook my head in awed sympathy. To love someone so much. To die for them? Both his parents died because they loved each other so much.   But Inuyasha, it seemed, had been left on his own.  “I was barely into high school when my mother finally lost the battle.  She’d tried so hard to hang on, for me.”

    “Because she loved you,” I whispered.  “My father was the same way. He was in so much pain, was so tired.  But he wanted to hold on for Mama, for Sota and me. He didn’t want Jii-chan to go through losing a son.”  A rattling sigh left me as I leaned against him, soaking in his warmth and the comfort he exuded. “Aren’t we a pair,” I laughed.

    Inuyasha’s chuckle warmed me further and he helped me get another case of beer from the shed and bring it inside.  I told him I was going to need a few of them before facing my cousin again, making him snort. “Don’t let her get to you, ok?” he murmured, dropping a sweet kiss on my lips as I slipped out of my coat.  I grinned, nodding, then froze when I noticed the figure disappear from the doorway. “She was there, wasn’t she?” I blinked at him a little stupidly. He sighed roughly as he kissed me again, clearly telling me he no longer gave a damn if Kikyo saw.  The warmth of his resolve filtered into me and I felt impervious to any of Kikyo’s snipes or barbs the rest of the night

Chapter Text



“You two seem awfully happy.”  The tone was a poor attempt at nonchalant and I swallowed back a growl.  Getting our coats from the laundry room, I had left Kagome to finish packing up leftovers to bring to my place.  I initially guessed that Kikyo would try to say something to Kagome at some point that night. I should have guessed that she would come after me instead.  In a way, I was glad she had, because it gave me the opportunity to make it absolutely clear where I stood.

I turned to her with a confident smirk.  “Not that it’s any of your business, but yes, we’re doing alright.”  She raised one eyebrow at me, resting a hand on her very present belly.  “I didn’t know you and Kagome were cousins until tonight. You didn’t mention much about family back then,” I murmured.  Her eyes narrowed, clearly catching onto my reprimand. She hadn’t mentioned a thing about meeting her family because she didn’t want them to know I existed, definitely not that I was hanyou.  She didn’t want to admit, even to herself, to being involved with someone of youkai ancestry. I had long since come to the conclusion that I had been a rebellious phase that she never actually wanted anyone to know about. “The whole family has been very welcoming,” I commented.  She flinched and I grinned.

“Kagome has always been rather naive.  I imagine when you leave her, she’ll see this mistake for what it is.”  I almost took the bait. Almost.

“Naive is not a word I would use to describe her at all.  Sweet, kind, generous, yea, but not naive.” I sighed. “As far as leaving her, we’ll see what the future brings, but no matter what, it hasn’t been a mistake.  Not like some other relationships I’ve been in.” There was no mistaking that and Kikyo gasped sharply in outrage before turning and leaving me on my own. I chuckled darkly and gathered our things before going out to gather Kagome.  She was saying her last goodbyes to her family, hugging her little brother and making him groan with embarrassment. She was giggling the whole time and her mother and grandfather were looking on with slight smiles. This is what families were supposed to be like.  Kagome’s mother noticed me and came over to give me a quick hug as well. I even let her get in just one ear scratch, knowing she’d been holding back all night. I shook hands with Hojo, Sota, and Kaede, and nodded stiffly to Kikyo. Kagome’s grandfather eyed me for a moment before offering me a bow.  Startled, I bowed in return, a happy bubble of acceptance in my gut. Even the old man had decided he approved of me!

Once in the car, Kagome and I settled into silence.  I knew before anything else, I had to tell Kagome the truth of my relationship with Kikyo.  Each time I tried to say something, the words stuck in my throat. Hearing that Kagome had even kind of dated Kikyo’s husband made me feel this horrible stirring of jealousy.  Even knowing how loyal the man was to his wife. Even knowing Kagome felt nothing but friendship and sympathy for the man. Even knowing our no-strings relationship was developing into so much more.

I glanced over to where she sat in the passenger seat.  She had asked me to drive home. Exhausted, and still coming down off of her stress, Kagome hadn’t felt up to driving the hour back into the city.  Her hair was already loose, her hunched frame wrapped in her coat. She looked small sitting there, and all I wanted to do was scoop her into my lap and hold her close.  As soon as we get to my place , I promised myself.  “She made you the other… man, didn’t she?”

To be honest, I barely kept from driving off the road in my shock.  Kagome’s soft words, so gently and simply stated, cut through me like blades.  I felt my lungs suck in a deep breath without my say-so. Pulling over was the safest choice, one I didn’t consciously make, rolling to a stop without really looking where.  A parking lot caught my shattered attention and I ducked into it and pulled into a spot. “Kagome…”

“I’m not accusing you of anything,” she assured me.  She had yet to turn from the window. “I was just thinking earlier.  You said she ‘destroyed’ you. I know Kikyo, I know how she works. Kaede recognized you, I know it.  I also know she never mentioned you and Kikyo never let on that she ever broke it off with Hojo. He clearly didn’t know about you, which clued me in too.”  She took a deep breath in and let it out slowly. “Hojo seems a little dopey, but he’s actually really perceptive. He knew something was wrong tonight but I wouldn’t be surprised if he never says a word to Kikyo.”  I felt like such an asshole. Here I was feeling jealous and Kagome was worried about her cousin’s poor husband who just realized he’d been cuckolded nearly ten years before. Maybe he was more forgiving - at least more forgiving than I would be -  and he would see it as a long past event, one that didn’t matter now that he and Kikyo were married and expecting their first child.

“You’re too smart, you know that?”  A dry laugh left her. “I knew pretty quickly that she was with someone else.  These ears aren’t just for decoration,” I whispered, wiggling them at her when she looked in my direction.  A ghost of a smile curled her mouth and I felt just a little better telling her the truth. “At first, I didn’t want to know, didn’t care.  Eventually I started to realize it mattered to me that she didn’t want me to meet anyone, that we never really went out in public. I began to understand she was ashamed, not just private.  S-She spent most of her life doing what was expected of her. I was unexpected.” I sighed. “Kaede came to visit her sister once and we met by accident. I don’t think Kikyo ever explained anything to her, but she’s a smart girl.  She knew.”

Kagome tsked and moved across the car to curl herself into my embrace, just like I’d wanted to do earlier.  It was even more for my comfort than for hers that I wanted to hold her, needing to feel her against me. The strength of her heartbeat, her breathing…  I needed all those things that told me she was real and with me to remind me that she was different. She was Kagome and she didn’t want to hide me away. It wasn't by her choice that we were keeping our relationship quiet.

"I know you don't want my sympathy, but I'm sorry anyway." I shook my head, nuzzling into the hair at the crown of her head.  I didn't want her pity, but I appreciated her sympathy.

"I'm mostly mad at myself for letting her use me. I knew she didn't actually want to be with me and I let it go on for over a year. I let myself get attached."  I sensed that Kagome wanted to admit to me exactly what I had realized earlier. I decided to take the pressure off of her. "You were never ashamed to be seen with me, never hesitated to tell your family about me."

Kagome looked up at me, slightly horrified.  "Of course not! I..." She paused, looking at her fists clenched in my jacket.  "I've had a thing for you since I started in the office. I knew you were friends with Miroku too and when he and Sango started getting serious, I thought we would meet up by chance."  Obviously chance decided we weren't taking the hint. I noticed Kagome the first day she was on the job. Then the coincidences started. We just so happened to be in the same elevator alone or were looking for the same file in the records. I was just too afraid to say anything to her, so I often pretended I didn't know she was there, or that I couldn't remember her name.

“I always wanted to introduce myself, but you’re just…”  I don’t know what I was going to say before, but the moment her eyes looked up at me, I was at a loss for words.  The back part of the parking lot we were in was dark, but the moon was bright and it made her skin glow. Her dark hair framed her face, her dark eyes shining as she watched me.  “Beautiful,” I murmured before taking her lips with mine. She hummed softly as she moved, adjusting to sit more comfortably in my lap. Her thighs slid to either side of mine, her slim arms moving around my shoulders.

She rolled her hips into mine, my head dropping back against the headrest. “I shouldn't want to do this right here,” she murmured in my ear. “But I want you.”

“Yes,” I hissed, my blood pounding in my head. She didn't need further encouragement. Her small hands dipped down between us to unzip my fly, freeing me from my boxers as well. The cloth of her panties was wet and the rough texture rubbing over me had me hard almost immediately. I didn't anticipate the feeling of her uncovered center gliding over me instead a moment later. “K-Kagome.” Almost desperate to feel her surrounding me, my hips bucked up into her. But we couldn't. “I don't have anything with me.”

“I know. Just this,” she whispered, continuing her movements. It was almost enough. The scent of her, the wet, the heat, it had me skating on the edge. “I could let you in,” she breathed. “Could you handle it?” I shuddered at the thought. No. No way. I'd lose it the second I'm inside. I shook my head, unable to voice my thought. “Where's that youkai stamina, huh?” she quipped. A chuckle escaped me despite how tense I felt. “I'm not ovulating right now,” her whisper ghosted my cheek. Oh gods, she was tempting me. She shifted, allowing me just barely into her wet heat. I growled, slamming my head back to keep my brain on track. I could not let her sink down… Fuck, like that! My hands flew to her hips to hold her still. Any more and I would break my promise to be careful. Just because she wasn't ovulating this moment, didn't make it safe. My youkai growled at the thought that “safe” meant not marking her with the rush of my seed. That “safe” meant not making her my mate right now.

“Kagome! Stop,” I pleaded when she shifted. “You gotta get off and quick,” I ground out. The last thing I wanted was for her to stop, but I knew it was too risky.  She sighed, becoming slightly boneless above me. Strung too tight in trying to hold back my release, my nose couldn't read her scent. When she finally moved, it was to move off of me. Not a moment too soon, too. I grunted and whimpered as my cock throbbed with the strength of my climax, barely missing her sex and coating both our thighs.  That was way too close.

 


 

He was only in a towel and I smiled as he came out of the bathroom, steam following him out through the open door.  The full moon lit his room, making his silver hair almost glow. He seemed more ethereal than ever, a mystical being who belonged in a dream and not in a metropolitan high rise. A moment later he snuggled up against my side, his arms around me.  His sheets were cool, his room too, but Inuyasha was so hot that it made me feel just right. I tried to ignore all the Goldilocks references that popped up in my head. After the stress of the day and the chill of the evening, being together like this was perfect.

“Kagome,” he murmured.  I smiled, turning to face him.  “You… you smell amazing,” he told me, eyes closed and nose brushing my throat as he nuzzled into my shoulder.

“Oh?  Is it the food you’re still smelling?” I teased him.

“Nuh uh, just you.”  His tone was enthralled.  If I didn’t know better, I’d think him drunk.  “K’gome, let me taste,” he begged, his tongue slipping out to savor my skin. “Earlier, you didn't... Let me get you there.” I shivered lightly at the touch of his mouth, his tongue, his teeth.  He moved over my body, peeling me out of the long-sleeved shirt he’d lent me to sleep in. He continued to taste everywhere he could reach with the occasional nip. He rarely involved his teeth and I got the feeling he was afraid he’d hurt me.  Despite the fact that I understood, I felt an urge for him to bite me. Not necessarily hard, just enough to feel his fangs a little more. On the other hand, I was too embarrassed to ask him for something like that. I knew that for some youkai, biting was a sign of commitment, of a bond.  Long term. I couldn’t ask him to make promises he had no plan to make, even by accident. Didn't stop you from trying earlier , I scolded myself.

I was distracted from my thoughts when Inuyasha tentatively licked my inner thigh.  Squirming under the sensation of his hot breath so close, I gasped and opened my legs wider.  His growl was pleased, clearly glad I was so willing. What I didn’t expect was for him to take his time, carefully sniffing me several times before taking a tentative lick.  He had never tried to do this before and my past experience with it left much to be desired. This was not the case with Inuyasha.

I tried to swallow the sounds I was making, not wanting to admit how good his tongue felt, the gentle grazing of his teeth on the sensitive flesh.  He sucked on my clit and there was nothing I could do to hold in a squeal. “Kagome, don’t hold it in. I want to know if it feels good.” His tongue gave another long stroke and I whimpered.  “Gods, you taste just like I thought you would,” he purred. Between the heat of his mouth and the alternating pressure of his tongue tip and soft lips, he had me falling over the edge fairly quickly. 

I didn't expect the rough feeling of his teeth abrading the tender inner part of my thigh as I fell apart. It caused me to bow off the bed with a gasp and a wail, light behind my eyes from being squeezed so tightly closed. My hands gripped the sheets in an attempt to anchor myself. It felt like it lasted forever until I finally relaxed against the pillows, panting for breath. As the blood stopped pounding in my ears, I  heard a soft whimpering. I swallowed hard, assuming it was me and embarrassed at the thought that I had been reduced to such a state. But the whimpering continued. I looked down to find Inuyasha kneeling between my legs, head bowed and his right hand barely pressed against the spot where his teeth had been. “Inu…”

“I'm sorry,” he interrupted me. “I don't know what… I shouldn't have done that,” he amended after a pause.

“Done what?” I wanted to make sure I understood exactly what he was referring to before jumping to any conclusions. His fingertips gently twitching against my thigh was a pretty good hint, but I waited. He lifted his hand from where he was covering and I realized he hadn't looked at it yet himself. His pupils blew wide but he slammed his lids closed immediately, jaw clenched tight.

“I shouldn't have bitten you.”

My heart stalled. Was it what I feared? Did he have no intention at all of a long term relationship with me? “Why?” My voice sounded dead in my ears.

His eyes reluctantly returned to mine. His head tilted in confusion. “Did… Didn't it hurt? I,” he paused to swallow, “bruised you.”

I blinked for a moment. A tiny flicker of hope lit in my heart. “Did you not notice how I reacted?” I couldn't help but whisper, heat rising in my cheeks. “That was probably the strongest… I felt like I might come apart.” Golden eyes watched me for several breaths before he looked down at where his teeth had almost, but not actually, broken skin. His gaze traveled over the junction of my leg before observing the evidence of what I'd tried to explain. His regard was almost a physical touch and my sensitized nerves responded accordingly. Lust returned to his eyes as he watched me clench and quiver. “Please,” I breathed, “I need you.”

He was on me without a thought, sliding in with a hissed breath. He froze then, a soft whimper followed by a growl. “Fuck, Kagome. This is… this is what this should feel like,” he mumbled. I moaned in reply, heels trailing up the backs of his calves, up toward his hips. Suddenly I was cold and I whined in protest. “We can't. I won't be able to hold out, Kagome. Not right now. Not...not after earlier.” I realized what he meant as he entered again, but with the barrier of a condom between us. I fought not to react negatively. Can't give myself away . It had felt so right to feel him completely, nothing between us. I shouldn't have pushed him. It was too much.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

I watched Kagome’s breath puff in the air.  The storm had finally moved in just before Christmas Eve and we were trudging through icy rain to get to her car.  Her apartment building didn’t do a great job of deicing her sidewalk and the city hadn’t gotten to her street yet. To be honest, I was concerned about safely getting to my brother’s in the car.  The temptation to just carry her there myself was squelched when I saw her shiver. Too damn cold and wet for that. “Kagome… Maybe we should just skip it.” She glanced at me from under her fluffy hat, grinning a little.  Adorable .  Her cheeks were rosy from the chill and her eyes glittered in the fading afternoon light.  The combination of her hat - a goofy handknit thing her mother made her - and the scarf she’d made herself out of fleece made her look cozy and sweet despite the weather.

“Your sister-in-law would be very disappointed.”

“I’ll be much more disappointed if we end up in a ditch,” I growled.  Not that I couldn’t get the car back out on my own, I just didn’t want to risk putting Kagome through that.

“Would you feel better if you drove?” she asked me.  I couldn’t tell by her tone if she would feel better too, or if she was just trying to make me more at ease.  I sighed, reaching out for her keys and shaking my head when she handed them to me, snuggling into my side as we made it the last block to where her car was parked.  Luckily it was closer to a main street and the city had put sand and salt on those already.  

Kagome huddled in the passenger seat, the small bag of gifts we had for my family in her lap.  With all the layers she had on, I couldn’t scent her very well, but the look on her face told me something was up.  She looked like she was preparing herself for battle. I waited until we were on the highway before I mentioned it, wanting to have some open road between us and the car ahead before I allowed for any distractions.  “What’s up?” I questioned her softly.

I could see her freeze out of the corner of my eye, her eyes going a little wide before she turned a wide (fake) smile on me.  “Just warming up still,” she told me. It wasn’t a lie, exactly. I turned up the heat to remove that as an excuse. I asked again, still gently, trying to coax it out of her.  “I-I guess I’m nervous about meeting your brother, that’s all.”

“He’s like a puppy compared to his usual self with Rin about to pop,” I said with a laugh.  Kagome joined in with a light (fake) chuckle. Something was definitely going on. “Come on, I promise, the worst he’ll do is forget your name repeatedly and Rin will remind him by saying your name really loudly a lot.  Sometimes, she acts like he’s hard of hearing instead of just a pompous ass.” Her fingers traced the edge of the bag, the soft sound of the paper against her glove making my ears tickle.

Pulling off at the exit, I watched the roads more carefully.  My brother’s place was kind of in the middle of nowhere, the way he liked it, and the roads hadn’t stayed as warm to keep the pavement clear of ice out here.  “Inuyasha?” I hummed to let her know I was listening. “How come they didn’t even tell you what they’re having?” she asked, her finger brushing against the wrapping paper on the baby gift.  I’d gotten the pup a stuffed dog - mostly as a joke to irritate my brother - in green. My brother’s poison whip happened to be green, but it was also a neutral color since they weren’t telling anyone if it was a boy or a girl.  “You’re… the only family they have, right?”

I shrugged.  “Probably don’t trust me not to tell anyone.”  I spotted the long driveway up to my brother’s place and sighed.  Despite knowing how different he was with Rin and knowing he would never stoop to being outright rude to Kagome, I was nervous about this holiday visit.  I had never introduced a woman to my family before. Certainly never brought someone “home” for the holidays. No one had ever been around long enough… or had the interest.  Kagome had surprised me - although I realized it shouldn’t have - when she agreed to come, even appearing stunned herself that I’d asked.

“Wow.  Quite the place,” she murmured.  I stomped on a growl. Was she impressed by my brother’s wealth?  A lot of people were. I wouldn’t blame her. Doesn’t mean I’m not jealous…   “I can’t imagine trying to keep a house like this clean!”  Blinking, I glanced at her. She… didn’t like it? “And can you imagine having kids in this place?  They could get lost! And what about the water?” I watched her crane her neck to look out over the waves beating at the dock just behind the house.

“Kids… Um… Luckily my brother’s got inuyoukai senses, so it’d be pretty hard for them to get lost for long.”  Panic rose in her scent for a moment and I worried she was suddenly afraid of my brother. But why? While admittedly stronger than mine, his senses were no different.  “He would never hurt you, you know. I wouldn’t let him.”

“What?  Oh, no. I know.”  The panic was replaced by surprise and then relief, but our arrival at the house kept me from delving further into her scent and the questions I wanted to ask.  She slipped out of the car and stood with the gifts in her arms, waiting for me to join her before we approached the front door. I rolled my eyes when my brother’s man servant, Jaken, threw the door open and scowled at me.  “Oh!” Kagome breathed in surprise. Jaken wasn’t exactly great to look at. An old imp who had been serving my brother for decades, was crotchety as hell, and hated my guts.

“You and your guest will enter,” he told us in an imperious tone, spoiled by his squeaky voice.  I knew he’d just barely kept himself from spitting some insult about my mixed blood. He wouldn’t be able to get away with that now that his lord’s child would also be a hanyou.

“Nice to see you too, Toad,” I quipped as I ushered Kagome in ahead of me.  I ignored the grumbling imp as we passed, not wanting to get off to a bad start by fighting in front of Kagome.  “They’re in here,” I told her after helping her out of all her winter things and giving them to another taller, and more pleasant, servant. He took the keys, letting me know the car would be moved to the garage.  Kagome followed me somewhat timidly and I set my hand on her waist, hoping to settle her nerves.

“Inuyasha!  Kagome! Merry Christmas, you two!”  Rin got up right away, coming to hug me.  I heard the subsonic growl of my brother and jerked a little in surprise at the embrace.  My brother’s mate had always been a little boisterous for my comfort, but even she had never tried to touch me so familiarly.  I chalked it up to the hormones and tried not to blush. “You look cold. How was the drive?” she directed to Kagome, putting one hand on her elbow and the other on her own belly.  I avoided looking at her, knowing my brother wouldn’t stand for another male staring so openly at his pregnant mate. Kagome laughed softly and fell into easy conversation with Rin, leaving me to face my brother alone.

“You have arrived safely with your…”

“Girlfriend.”  I winced, knowing it didn’t feel quite right.  Kagome was so much more than that… “Yea, the roads were a little nasty, but we didn’t have a problem.”

“Hn.  Another storm is predicted for tonight and there is talk of closing the bridge.”  He stood as Rin and Kagome moved into the other room to place the gifts we’d brought beneath their huge tree.  He didn’t want her out of his sight. “Should the need arise, the guest suite is at your disposal.”

“Keh.”  I took a breath.  “So the pup’s due fairly soon.”  Sesshoumaru grunted. I grinned. “You’re terrified,” I teased him.  The bastard glared at me, making my grin widen. He totally was! “Don’t worry, if the bouzu can handle having two at the same time, you can handle one hanyou runt running around.”

“Rin is well prepared.”

“I’m not talking about Rin.  You’re the one who is not ready,” I clarified.  His golden eyes flicked to meet mine for a brief moment and I realized I was more accurate than I’d really thought.  “Keh. Pup’s going to have strong blood and this place to tear up. What else does he need?” I thought about saying more, reminding him that his child would grow up with two parents.  Two parents and an uncle just like him or her. Far more than I’d ever had. Sesshoumaru turned to watch his wife and my girlfriend laughing and cooing over baby clothes.

“When do you intend to bond her?  Your scent is all over her.”

I gulped.  Leave it to him to bring something like that up within the first twenty minutes.  “We… haven’t decided that we want that kind of thing yet.” His eyes narrowed.

“If she is inadequate…”

The snarl ripped out of me before I could stop it, my hand going to his collar.  “Boys, knock it off!” came Rin’s voice from the other room. Both women had frozen, Kagome’s wide eyes taking me in.  I made an effort to relax, letting go of my brother’s shirt and taking a deep breath.

“So that is not the case.”  Adjusting his shoulders, his dress shirt fell almost impeccably into place.  “It is past time that you claimed a mate, otouto,” he murmured in Japanese. He knew the low tone would not be understood by either of the women.  “She is strong, healthy, ripe. What more do you wish of your woman?” I growled at the way he spoke of her like livestock. I knew I shouldn’t let it get to me.  Sesshoumaru was mated, and legally married, to a human woman. One who wasn’t much older than Kagome. Clearly his value of humans was not that low. “What is it you fear, otouto?”

“Nothing,” I snarled.  “I don’t want to rush what could be a very big decision.”

“Does your blood not sing in her presence?  Do you not seek her scent when she is not near?”  Apparently my stunned silence was enough answer. “Then the decision has already been made, you simply must admit what your youkai is trying to tell you.”  Swallowing thickly, I looked over at where Kagome sat beside Rin, her small hands smoothing over the soft fabric of a blanket Rin’s secretary had made for the pup.  Her smile was… bittersweet. Was she thinking about the pregnancy that had ended? I still hadn’t worked up the guts to ask her about it, but I often wondered if her odd moments of sadness or jealousy were related to it.

“If I tell you something, you have to swear on Oyaji’s grave you won’t breathe a word of it.”  Sesshoumaru’s eyebrow twitched at the slightly less than respectful way I referred to our father, but he nodded.  I told him what my nose had told me, what Kagome had never admitted to… what I’d never had the courage to ask. If she had intentionally ended it, I was worried that she would never want to have a future with me.

My brother shifted his weight as though in thought.  “You do know that humans can lose a pregnancy at any time.”  As usual, he managed to make a question a statement of fact which made me feel a fool.  The look I gave him must have clued him in to my ignorance. “Human fetuses are more fragile than those with youkai blood and the more rapid growth pattern for youkai makes it difficult for the human genes to develop in time. Rin lost several pups in the initial stages, long before most humans would ever know they were with child.”  I felt my face stretch in shock, looking over at the two women who were now drinking hot herbal tea and talking about some television show I wasn’t familiar with. “It is likely that your woman had no idea.”

No idea.   She… hadn’t known?  Kagome probably hadn’t known she was pregnant with my pup.  “But she was crying.”

“Hn.  Once, Rin ‘felt’ that she was whelped.  When her menses came anyway, she was distraught for days afterward.”  Sesshoumaru paused. “I did not tell her that her feeling was correct. It would only have hurt her more to know she had lost another pregnancy.”

Was that it?  Kagome had been acting differently before, then the crying, and I’d scented the very beginning of her period.  It made too much sense. “Did you want a drink, Inuyasha?” Rin’s voice startled me out of my contemplation, looking up to find Kagome still staring at the blanket.  She saw the direction of my eyes and smiled a little. “She’s great, an-chan,” she whispered to me. “She clearly loves you.”

“She… hasn’t said.”

“Hmph.  You can be such a brick sometimes.  Watch for it, don’t just listen for the words.”  She wandered off - more like waddled, though I knew better than to say so - in the direction of the service cart to make me one of her awful drinks.  Rin was not a drinker, never had been, so her concept of how much alcohol to put in compared to the mixer was always off. I would suffer through it since offending her would get my brother all pissy, but I knew I’d be tanked within the hour.

Drink in hand, I went over to where Kagome was now standing at the window.  “I’d offer you some, but Rin made it and it’s terrible,” I whispered. She flinched away from me for a moment before she relaxed.  “Did I startle you?” I asked, concerned. Nodding her head in silence, Kagome looked out the window again. “What’s wrong? Did… You really should have been with your family instead,” I sighed apologetically.

“No, I’m sorry.  I’m glad I’m here with you,” she explained.  “But look…” Her delicate fingers touched the windowpane and I felt my mouth drop open in surprise.  Whiteout. It was a complete whiteout blizzard out there. The temperature must have dropped. There was no way in hell we’d be able to leave tonight.

“Keh.  There’s a guest room made up for us.  Don’t worry.” Kagome eyes went a little wide and she stared at me.  “Sesshoumaru knew there was a storm brewing and planned ahead in case they closed the bridge.  I’m sure it will be plenty comfortable.”

“Stay here, with your brother?”  I raised an eyebrow at her worried tone.  My look must have made my question clear because she quickly apologized and told me it would be fine.  “It’s just… I thought we’d be alone tonight,” she murmured.

My head tilted of its own volition.  “Why wouldn’t we be? The guest suite is on the opposite side of the house from the master.  There’s no way anyone will… hear anything,” I whispered, nuzzling her ear. Whoooo, I need to stop drinking this thing , I thought.  I was tipsy already and making a fool of myself.

“Come, dinner is ready,” my brother interrupted from across the room.  I blew out a sigh of relief. Eating something would help lessen my buzz and keep me from saying something in front of my family that I shouldn’t… or asking Kagome something I wasn’t prepared to know the answer to.

Dinner went well enough. Eating had helped tone down the effects of the alcohol and I managed not to embarrass anyone, including myself. Kagome did a great job handling my brother's dry conversation and Rin's somewhat invasive questions. The two women laughed together, and I found myself imagining Kagome in Rin’s position.  The alcohol made it easy to picture her laughing merrily, a small hand on a round belly… A hiss caught my ears just before the scent of blood caught my nose. I jumped up without thinking, taking up Kagome’s hand in my own. “The steak knife was sharper than I thought,” she explained. I glanced at my brother, gaining a nod in the direction of the guest suite.  Kagome squeaked when I scooped her out of her chair and headed in the direction I wanted. “Inuyasha, stop, it’s just a little cut.”

I found all I could do was growl softly.  My inuyoukai instincts were stronger than usual, the disinhibition from the alcohol not helping.  “Fixing it,” I murmured. The door to the guest suite had been left open and I pushed it shut with my foot behind me. Not taking the time to look around the room, I headed straight for the bathroom.  I set Kagome on the counter, holding her hand over the sink and digging in the drawers for the supplies I needed. The sound of the water running made my ears twitch and I glanced up at Kagome quietly rinsing her hand where she’d cut across the pad and heel of her thumb.

After a moment, I reached up to turn off the water and brought her hand to my mouth.  My youkai bubbled to the surface the moment her blood touched my tongue, but I fought it down to keep from scaring her.  I winced when she flinched, gentling the pressure of my tongue. “Inuyasha,” she breathed. Focusing on the way my youkai wanted to protect her, I felt my youki rise slightly, allowing me to increase the effectiveness of the healing properties in my saliva.  Soon the cut was sealed, but not healed. Gently wiping her skin dry with a towel, I was able to lightly bandage her hand, just to make sure the wounds stayed closed and clean. “That’s amazing.” Her eyes went a little wide when I looked up at her. I frowned, then glanced in the mirror to find faint purple stripes on either cheek and a red tinge in my golden eyes that shouldn’t be there.

“Don’t be afraid,” I rumbled.  Kagome shot me a wry look. I was startled when she reached out with her good hand to gently touch my cheek, a soft fingertip brushing one marking.  Her exploration of my face continued, her touch brushing my jaw and then weaving into my hair. The feeling of her fingers against my ears made my eyelids flutter and I sighed.

“How are you so… beautiful?”  My eyes flew open and I must have frowned at her in confusion.  My face was still feeling a little numb from the alcohol, so I wasn’t entirely sure of what it was doing.  Kagome flinched back slightly, her hold loosening from my head.

I was so stunned by her question, I wasn’t sure what to say.  “W-what?”

Her gaze searched mine, her deep brown eyes softening.  “No one’s ever said that to you before, have they?” she breathed, leaning forward to place a kiss on each of my eyes and then on each of the jagged stripes on my cheeks.  Whatever thing inside me that had been holding me back from her broke, the surge of my youkai blood making me dizzy. I pulled her to the edge of the counter, her thighs squeezing my hips, tongue surging into her mouth as I took her lips in a fierce kiss. I couldn't help nipping her bottom lip when I pulled back for a breath. What I hadn't expected was the way Kagome's scent bloomed at the rough treatment.

"Like that, do you?" I growled teasingly. She sucked in a startled breath but her scent told me what she was embarrassed to say.  Nibbling the curve of her jaw, I smirked when she tilted her head to give me access to her throat. "You want me to bite you here, Kagome?" I murmured. Again, her scent filled my nose. Gently at first, I worried the long tendon in her neck with my fangs. Her moan told me I was onto something. So not just when she cums. Teeth all the time.

I tried not to let them, but the words my brother said earlier whispered in my head. She wanted me to mark her and I wanted to do it. Her scent was calling me, telling me the words she seemed afraid to say aloud. The things I was afraid to admit I wanted too. Mark her. Bond her. Breed her!  Fire rippled through my veins at the thought.  Not only did the threat of my teeth sinking into her turn her on, she was nearly demanding it.

"Inuyasha," she crooned.

Pulling her against me, I was able to lift and carry her to the bed. Her dress had buttons down the front and I had to let her undo them or risk popping them all off in my haste. Her underthings, rarely my focus, were clearly thought out for the occasion. Matching red and green lace bra and panties which I discovered laced up the back with satin ribbon like a corset. No wonder she'd been worried about being stuck here. She'd planned to seduce me. "Holy shit, Kagome," I breathed.

And nearly choked. 

My brain had finally caught up enough to understand what her scent had been telling me all along. What it had been screaming at me all day.

Kagome was ovulating.

My youkai snarled within me. It wanted to take full advantage of the opportunity. Kagome's body was seeking exactly what mine wanted to give her.  What my youkai was ready to surface for. To fill her over and over, to mark her as my own, to whelp her. I couldn’t do that - certainly not yet - and despite how my blood was singing at her scent, I couldn’t risk the temptation.  Despite my own hesitation, I continued to kiss and touch her smooth skin, nearly tasting the pheromones. It was like a drug, a sweet wine I couldn't get enough of. I felt my mind grow hazier, the strength of my youki flaring enough to catch Kagome’s attention.

While part of me had always known Kagome had the potential for reiki, as a descendent of a shrine family, I had never seen nor felt a hint of it.  With my youki getting out of control, I was hardly aware of anything. Then the fog suddenly cleared. Kagome’s skin was glowing a faint pink and my youkai half was retreating to simmer under my awareness as it usually did.  “Kagome?” Her eyes were wide in her face and her fingers were gently tracing my cheeks as though afraid. “Are you ok?”

“I should be asking you that!” she breathed, pulling me down for a fierce kiss.  “I was so afraid I’d neutralized you by accident.”

“No, no,” I soothed her, pressing kisses to her forehead.  “You calmed my youki. How… how did you know how to do that?”

She was silent a long time.

 


 

“I didn’t, exactly.”  I admitted after a while.  Inuyasha let me back into my dress and fumblingly tried to help me button it again.  “I used to… see someone. A youkai.” I flinched when he froze. There was a moment where I felt his youki flare again before he took a deep breath and settled next to me on the end of the bed.  “We dated for a little over two years.”

“Who was this bastard?”

“His name isn’t…”  His growl stopped me mid-sentence.  “His name was Nashoba.”

“Don’t know him.  What kind of youkai?”

“Wolf.  I met him at school.  He was from Oklahoma.”  Inuyasha was letting out a low continuous rumble.  I knew he and Kouga didn’t get along very well, but I didn’t realize he seemed to have a problem with wolves in general.  I swallowed thickly. How was I going to explain the situation to Inuyasha without telling him the true reason Nash and I had parted ways?  Part of it was obviously his disdain for humans, and I was able to easily convey that, but Inuyasha’s sharp eyes told me he knew there was more to it.  “He made it clear that no matter how much he might come to care about me, he could never see himself with a human long term. He would never marry a human. He wanted children, but didn’t…  He didn’t want hanyou children.”

“Keh.  Of course he didn’t.  Most full youkai would rather not procreate than pollute their bloodlines.”

I frowned.  “Not your father.  Or your brother for that matter.”  His head tilted and he took a long look at me.

“True.”  His golden eyes released me for a moment as he seemed to think about something.  “Is he the one who told you that youkai had such high standards?” I couldn’t speak.  “He’s the one who got it in your head that you weren’t good enough, or some bullshit, isn’t he?”  My heart stalled in my chest for a breath and I had to look down and press a hand there to anchor myself.  “Kagome,” he murmured, lifting my chin with a gentle hand. “I told you at the beginning. You’re… more than I ever expected.”  I felt flushed at his response. A tiny smile lifted his lips before he kissed me slowly and softly. It felt like he was trying to tell me something he couldn’t put in words, something I desperately wanted to tell him but couldn’t find the courage.

“I love…”

“Kagome…” he murmured at the same time, interrupting me.  I swallowed what I was going to say when he looked down at me with wide eyes.

“... the way you kiss me,” I said instead.  “I love the way you kiss me.” He smirked, leaning in for a repeat performance, lips nibbling carefully before his tongue teasingly traced the seam of my lips.  With a smile of my own, I opened myself to him, pulling him into my arms. Inuyasha groaned against me, heating my body all over again. A lower growl left him and he pulled away suddenly.  “What’s wrong?” I whispered worriedly.

“You’re… you’re fertile right now,” he sighed, his nose tracing my ear, hot breath on my pulse.  An opened mouthed kiss and a gentle nip made me arch against him and gasp. Was he onto me? Did he know I was trying to seduce him?  Not entirely on purpose. I had felt extremely feminine that morning and it had definitely influenced what I chose to wear. The fact that I was ovulating hadn’t really entered my head until Inuyasha arrived at my apartment and I felt the overwhelming need to keep him in my room instead of leaving at all.  By then it was too late to change and too embarrassing to admit to him that all I wanted to do was stay in bed with him the rest of the night. “I promised you I’d be careful,” he reminded me. Oh how I wished I’d never let him promise that. “Between your scent and my youkai getting riled up from your cut, I’m not sure I could be careful,” he growled in my ear.  

My skin prickled and my already sensitive nipples reacted sharply to the vibration in his chest.  A tiny whimper rose in my throat before I could swallow it. I froze in fear when Inuyasha stiffened, head pulling back so he could look down at me.

His growl intensified and the purple stripes from earlier ghosted his cheeks.  His golden eyes had turned slightly copper again. “What if I wasn’t careful?” he murmured.  My center clenched in a brief spasm and I gasped. “You like the thought of risking it, don’t you?” he hissed in my ear.  I couldn’t hold in the moan of pleasure and I was beginning to not care. Let him find out, let him do it , my hormones seemed to be shouting.  “You want me to breed you, Kagome?” he teased.  His voice finally snapped me out of it. He didn’t sound right at all.  I struggled to open my eyes and found turquoise irises staring back at me.  The stripes along his cheekbones were almost radiantly purple. He was edging on a full-blown transformation and I had almost ignored it because he was saying the things I wanted to hear.

“Inuyasha, take a breath,” I whispered.  “You need to calm down so you can… can think more clearly.”

“Oh?  What’s wrong with how I’m thinking?” he purred, hips pressing between my thighs in an attempt to reignite the passionate flame from a few moments ago.  He almost succeeded. "I'm gonna make you mine, Kagome, fill your sweet p..." With a cry of pain and frustration, I let my aura rise and quell his youki.  Unlike the last time, he was shocked back and stumbled on his feet. Shaking his head a few times, he finally looked up at me with golden eyes and no markings on his cheeks.  “Kagome? What happened? Are you ok?”

It took me several moments of breathing before I could answer him.  “I’m alright. Are you ok? I didn’t mean to make it so strong that time.”

“I’m fine.  Did… Did I try to hurt you?”

“No, no of course not,” I rushed to reassure him.  “You just… weren’t talking like yourself and your youki was flaring all over the place.”

He said nothing for a long time, just looking at me and at his hands.  I couldn’t tell if he remembered what he’d said to me… how I’d readily responded.  “Let’s… let’s see if they’re still up.” A little startled, I glanced over at the clock on the bedside table.  It wasn’t even eight o’clock. I nodded before excusing myself to the bathroom. I was able to freshen up and straighten my clothes and hair so it didn’t look like we’d been up to anything.  With a wince, I realized Sesshoumaru would probably know by scent alone. So embarrassing…   I sighed and then switched places with Inuyasha.

The rest of the evening went well enough.  Inuyasha didn’t drink anything else and Sesshoumaru only gave us both a cursory glance before commenting on the strength of the storm.  Rin continued to make the occasional sly remark about Inuyasha’s and my relationship status and trying to find out more about my beliefs on child-rearing.  She seemed to genuinely want my opinion about how to deal with a part youkai child, a first child at that. I had been a nanny for years during college, and watched Sango raise her girls but those were human children. I could only share that limited knowledge with her.  It reminded me all too easily how unprepared I was for a child of my own. I might have had the financial part figured out and basic understanding of caring for children, but without any real prospects, I hadn’t thought much beyond conceiving a child.

I’m such an idiot.   I vowed that I would go out at the next opportunity and find out everything I could on the reality of raising a child.  Hopefully there would be something on raising part youkai children that I could share with Rin… Or find out for my own knowledge , I thought, glancing over at where Inuyasha was standing with his brother by the window, staring out at the storm.