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All That Matters

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'Stupid. Stupid. Stupid,' Inuyasha cursed silent as he breathed heavily and tried to plaster himself against an especially thick tree. Kagome told him to come back. She told him not to chase after the demon. That they could wait until morning to get the jewel shard back but did he listen? No. Of course not. This was him they were talking about. By the time the sun set he was too far away to go back and pretty much at this jewel toting bastard's mercy.

In short, he had royally fucked up.

One of the first things he'd done was tried to mask his scent with mud. That had worked in the past when he was in a bind. Emphasis on 'in the past' because it sure as hell wasn't helping now. The bitch was toying with him. Letting him know she was there by being extra obnoxiously loud so his human ears would catch it and then silent. Just when Inuyasha started to relax this asshole would snap a twig or shake a tree just to mess with him. It was seriously starting to make him crazy. Paranoid even.

"I know you're there half-demon," the demoness laughed softly from way too close for comfort, "Come out. Come out. Wherever you are."

'Fucckk,' Inuyasha breathed nervously in his mind as he tried to control his breathing. The bitch was getting bored with her game. Glancing up into the moonless sky, he could tell dawn was some ways away. There would be no miraculous moment this time. No twist of fate that would let him live until his Youkai returned. A part of him wondered whether Kagome would cry for him. That same part that hoped for so much more than he would ever receive.

A twig snapped on the other side of the tree and he flinched instinctively. His breathing shaky as he waited for the attack and anticipated pain. It would be drawn out, he was sure. After all, he'd managed to land a pretty gruesome blow before the sun set. She'd want to make him pay for that. Closing his eyes, he swallowed thickly and pressed himself even more tightly to the tree.

His thoughts focused on a face he would never get to see again. That special smile of hers reserved only for him. There were so many things he should have told her. So many...

Something pierced his side and he had to bite his lip to keep from screaming. Human he may be but he still had his pride. Another deeper puncture and he crumpled to his knees.

It was becoming harder to breathe as his lungs filled with fluid. Vision blurry as he stared up at the turquoise haired woman with crimson eyes.

"Oh no, don't pass out on me now," she laughed as she flexed her claws, "We're just getting started."

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Consciousness rolled over him in waves. His body radiating heat like a brick right out of an oven. Letting out a shuddering breath, he tried to make sense of what was going on around him and where he was. It was strange. Everything sounded muted and he couldn't feel his right hand. Groaning, he shifted and instantly, he felt a cold hand on his face.

"Don't move so much," Kagome shushed him and soon a cold rag replaced her hand, "You lost a lot of...of blood so you just need to stay still."

The slight hesitation bothered him and a memory suddenly rushed to the forefront of his still hazy mind. Amber eyes blinked at the thatch roof of Kaede's hut before slowly drifting down to verify that it hadn't been a dream. His stomach dropped.

Nope. He was definitely missing the better part of his right arm and...if he had to guess, probably an ear. Maybe even both.

"You're alive. That's what matters," Kagome blurted out, "Besides Sesshomaru is missing an arm and he is just fine. If he can still wield his sword so can you."

"It's a bigger sword Kagome," Inuyasha chuckled darkly as he let his head fall back - his voice thick from disuse. Kagome huffed and pressed the cloth to the side of his neck.

"Both ears or just one," he asked hoarsely and he felt Kagome's hand tense as she whispered shakily, "Just one."

"Anything else?" he asked - feeling strangely numb and disassociated from the whole thing. Kagome didn't reply but he felt her shaking.

"Kago..."

"A few toes," she finally whispered, "And your back I think was broken."

Inuyasha experimentally tried to wiggle said toes that remained and while they did in fact move, the feeling wasn't as strong as it should have been. He wasn't paralyzed but there was lasting damage. A part of him was loathing seeing whether he could still walk.

"How'd you find me?" he asked - trying desperately to change the subject.

"Shippo," Kagome murmured as she dipped the cloth in water and rung it out, "Kilala had trouble tracking you but Shippo...Shippo ran ahead. He was the one who found you. Who saved you."

Inuyasha furrowed his brow in confusion. How the hell did Shippo save him? The brat didn't even have any attacks that packed a punch.

"By the time we caught up the demon was burned to a crisp," Kagome sniffled  before finishing hoarsely, "And then we brought you back here. That was three days ago."

Well he'd be damned. The kid had been holding back. Foxfire could burn and maim if he wanted it to. Who knew?

"Didn't know he had it in him," Inuyasha chuckled hoarsely. Kagome didn't comment.

"So where is he anyway? Probably should thank him," Inuyasha commented and grief spiked in Kagome's scent. His nostrils flared as his mind raced. Surely the kit didn't die trying to save him, right? Oh fuck no.

"He...Miroku had to seal him in a cave," Kagome managed after a few moments, "I didn't know demons could...I mean I knew you sometimes...but..."

Inuyasha inhaled deeply and frowned. So the kid succumbed to blood lust, huh? That...that explained it then. That's how Shippo bested that demon. All because he didn't listen to Kagome when she said the jewel shard could wait.

"Has anyone tried to talk him down?" Inuyasha asked quietly and Kagome didn't reply, "Or..."

"I tried," she finally whispered in a small voice and Inuyasha tried to prop himself up to look at her. His heart dropped as he finally saw several bright red burn marks across her chest and face. Giving her a once over, there were others too. A particularly nasty one on her leg had his stomach churning.

"I'm fine," she cleared her throat, "They're just a little sore."

"Did you...did you go home? To have a healer look at them?" Inuyasha asked in a tight voice and she shook her head.

"Why?"

"I wasn't sure you'd make it," she admitted as a dry shuddering sob escaped her, "And I couldn't leave Shippo. He...he's just a baby. It's not his fault that..."

Inuyasha agreed with that for sure. It wasn't Shippos fault. It was his.

"I'll go see him," Inuyasha offered as he shakily got to his feet and staggered. His left leg definitely felt numb. He could barely put any weight on it without it wanting to crumple.

"You aren't..." Kagome started to argue but his slightly anguished glare stopped her short. Swallowing thickly, she shook her head and sighed, "At least let me help you."

Nodding, he allowed her to support him and together they made their way to the cave where an exhausted looking Miroku was keeping guard. The monk looked both heartbroken and relieved when they approached and quickly began preparing a wider barrier around them before removing the sutra and moving outside it. Dragging Kagome with him making Inuyasha crumple to one knee.

Casting a glance at Kagome, Inuyasha swallowed his pride and yipped a few times. A series of other dog like noises followed and each one was like a dagger in his heart. Inuyasha avoided giving her reminders about how much of an animal he really was. He wanted her to see him as a person. As a potential...

Not that it mattered anymore.

Slowly but surely, a crimson eyed feral looking Shippo began prowling out of the cave. His hair and fur standing on end. One heartbeat later he lunged and Inuyasha managed to catch him by the throat and pin him down.

The growl that escaped Inuyasha then sent chills down Kagome's spine and her heart lurched. He was being so rough with the little boy who, yes, had lost his marbles but was still a child.

Shippo continued to struggle and snarl but Inuyasha held firm and growled again. Louder. Harsher. It could've been seconds or hours later but eventually Shippo went limp. Whimpering and sniffling.

"You can lower the barrier monk," Inuyasha muttered tiredly, "He won't hurt you."

"How can you be sure?" Miroku asked hoarsely and the hanyou sighed.

"He submitted," Inuyasha explained thickly, "He...he recognized me as his alpha. He won't do anything with my permission."

Kagome's heart ached. She could read between the lines. Shippo, as they knew him, might not come back.

The Fox kit continued to whimper and whine when Inuyasha let him up. And Inuyasha made a sound in the back of his throat as he pointed to Kagome. For a moment, the little boy looked confused and then he sniffed a few times. Giving her a once over, he smiled - somewhat eerily - before scampering to her feet and lifting his arms in a clear plea to be held.

"I told him you were his mother," Inuyasha explained miserably as he kept his gaze averted, "And the alpha female. He shouldn't hurt you again."

Kagome let out a shuddering breath but did nod to Miroku to let down the barrier which he did and she knelt down to pick up the little feral boy.

"How long will this last?" Kagome asked tightly and Inuyasha shrugged.

"Days. Weeks. Forever," he replied as he remained kneeling, "I'll...I'll stay with him. While you guys hunt shards, I'll stay with him."

"Inuyasha..." Kagome huffed and Inuyasha finally looked at her with unshed tears in his eyes.

"I can barely walk Kagome," he informed her as a tear broke free and he lifted what was left of his right arm, "I'm literally missing a limb. You can't expect me to be useful anymore."

"You're still you," Kagome whispered as she stroked Shippo's hair and the kit buried his face into her chest, "The rest doesn't matter."

Inuyasha wanted to correct her but stopped himself. There was something else in her gaze and tone being said. Something that had nothing to do with his fighting ability. Trying to get up he crumpled onto his side and Miroku quickly came to assist. Inuyasha didn't even bother saying he didn't need it. He knew he did and just had to accept that bitter pill.

"Kagome-sama is right," Miroku muttered as he hoisted the hanyou to his feet, "You are one of us. We will put the quest on hold as long as it takes. We will not leave you and Shippo behind."

"Aren't you like actively dying? Hows that gunna work?" Inuyasha snorted and Miroku rolled his eyes. Kagome had turned and began walking towards the village. The monk held back until he was sure she was far enough away before speaking again.

"She loves you," Miroku sighed and Inuyasha tensed, "There are worse things than being the recipient of unconditional love. If that is any comfort."

"You don't know that," Inuyasha finally replied despondently and the monk chuckled.

"You may not have heard her but I assure you she did utter such a sentiment many times over the past few days," Miroku informed him as they began the slow journey back towards the village, "It will take time but you will overcome this latest setback my friend."

Inuyasha couldn't find his voice to respond but did feel the world was not as bleak. Maybe...maybe...

Later that evening, Inuyasha sat against the wall watching as Kagome prepared dinner. For the longest time, he had thought about doing something but always lacked the courage to make the first move. It wasn't like he knew how anyway. Kikyo had been the one to make all the advances and no other women had ever even been interested. Plus Kikyo was...well still around for lack of a better way to put it and there'd definitely been some moments that made him hesitant to try to court Kagome at all. It was clear she thought - and he didn't blame her for thinking that way - that he love loved Kikyo or that maybe she'd be the other woman if he did come forward with what he wanted. It wasn't true but he could see it. They were friends now was all. Well not friend friends but friendly? Anyway point was he wasn't spoken for...but he wanted to be. If what the monk said was true, maybe now was the time to do something.

He just wished he had done something when he had two arms.

"You feeling okay?" Kagome asked quietly as she settled down beside him and he shrugged before glancing at her injuries.

"What about you?" he asked with a despondent sigh, "The river water is cold. I could stand..."

He paused and cleared his throat.

"Sango could stand guard," he amended as his heart sank, "It might help take the heat out."

"I'm okay I think," Kagome sighed shakily as she scooted closer and rested her head on his shoulder, "I took some aspirin and used some burn cream."

"I'd still try something cold," he argued as he rested his cheek atop her head, "I've been burned like that before ya know. Just saying it'd help."

He heard her hum but she didn't move.

"Maybe in the morning," she sighed, "Right now I just want to be with you if...if that's okay."

His lips twitched upwards as he nodded against her hair.

"I'm really glad you're alright," she whispered tiredly.

"Should've listened to you," he admitted with a dejected sigh, "I'm sorry I didn't."

He heard her sigh as she snuggled a little closer.

"You know..." he began hesitantly as he glanced around to make sure no one was listening, "I..."

Biting his lip, he actually tried to figure out how to phrase what he wanted to say without sounding weird or sappy or...like himself. Usually anything he said sounded like an insult even when he didn't mean it to be.

"I thought of you," he tried lamely, "When she attacked me I mean."

He felt Kagome tense.

"I...I wanted to see you again," he continued, "Because..."

He took a deep breath and decided to take the plunge.

"You know I love you, right?" he asked in a small voice and Kagome's head popped right up as she stared at him with wide, disbelieving eyes. For a moment he forgot how to breathe as he mentally kicked himself. He hadn't even had the courage to look at himself for fear of how he'd looked. Maybe he was even more hideous now than he had been. His remaining ear flattened against his skull as he awaited her verdict.

Her sapphire eyes searched his face for a moment before she relaxed and smiled that special smile reserved only for him.

"I do actually," she laughed as though this was news even to herself, "You know I love you too, huh?"

He nodded slowly and chewed on his cheek.

"Good."

When she leaned in to kiss him, everything around them went quiet. The crackling of the fire and the wind outside the only sound. And then she pulled back before dipping down again. And again. It stole his breath away. It brought it back. It showed him that every other kiss he'd ever received had been wrong and the stunned silence no longer mattered. A soft whimper escaped him but he honestly didn't care. All that mattered was her.

That was all that mattered.

Chapter Text

A single salty tear traced Inuyasha’s jaw as he sat against the worn wooden wall of the ancient well and stared morosely at the top of the Sacred Tree in the distance. It was over now, wasn’t it? Everything he’d achieved in the past year utterly wasted because he couldn’t listen. Because he was too cocky. He hadn’t always been that way. He’d survived so long by being cautious and staying out of trouble if he could avoid it. The quest had made him stronger, yes, but it’d also made him weak. Made him take unnecessary risks. 

 

Sniffling, he looked down at the small orange puff of a child in his lap. The one he would basically be raising now because he’d be damned before he let Kagome do it. Shippo used to be a happy, normal child. Full of mischief and jokes. But because of his dumb ass the little boy was pretty much ruined for life. There was a reason some demons were verbal and sensible whereas others seemed to be mindless killing machines. It had to do with blood lust. Once you caught it, there wasn’t much hope for you. That’s why he never felt bad about killing some of them. They didn’t have much awareness and it was a shit life. Some species were more prone to it than others. And some were just evil bastarda but there were some demons who had just straight up lost their minds. It could be him one day. If it wasn’t for Kagome, it would’ve been him ages ago. From the very first time he went full demon. Maybe that would’ve been better for everyone else. It sure as hell would’ve been better for Shippo.

 

The kit in question looked up at him and cocked his head to the side - clearly expecting something although what that something would be was beyond him.

 

‘Play?’ Shippo whined in his native tongue - somewhat understandable in native Inu - and Inuyasha’s lips twitched upwards in a strangled looking smile as he nodded.

 

Not far,’ Inuyasha woofed back, ‘In sight.’

 

Shippo nodded excitedly - crimson eyes glowing happily as he hopped off his lap and began hunting beetles in a play fighting manner. Inuyasha sighed shakily as he watched the boy go. Demon succumbed to blood lust or not, Shippo was still a child. He was a child.

 

Kagome kept trying to corner him to get him to talk about feelings but that was the last thing Inuyasha wanted to do. Weeks has passed and the feeling in his wounded leg was now completely gone. While it had gotten easier to walk and stand on his good leg, he would never be able to run again. That was just a fact.

 

What killed him more than any of that though was he had always thought there would be more time. For months now, he’d known what he wanted. He’d been trying to watch for signs she wanted that too. Now Kagome admitted she loved him all along but the more time passed the more he doubted. He was more broken than they had initially thought. Less worthy of her than he had ever been. Then she left him behind to go hunting shards. Never had there been a clearer sign that her love for him was waning.

 

Sniffling again, he had to bite his lip to keep it from trembling as the unwanted dream of what Kagome and him being together whosoever looked like played in his mind. That too had been taken from him and that too was entirely his fault. Why would she want him now - disfigured and useless as he was? Swallowing the lump in his throat, he tried to lock the dream away where it couldn’t hurt him anymore. He had always thought there’d be time.

 

Shippo began growling before he even heard the snapping of twigs in the distance. His missing ear highlighting another deficiency. A breeze told him who it was and strangely he welcomed the intrusion. That was something he wanted to get out of the way sooner rather than later.

 

“I heard what happened,” Kikyo commented softly as she came into the clearing - staying a safe distance away from the snarling kit.

 

Not pack. Not...’

 

Quiet. Friend not pack,’ Inuyasha huffed and Shippo bristled But stopped snarling.

 

Dead woman not dead. Danger.’

 

I know. Safe,’ Inuyasha soothed - actively avoiding what he imagined was Kikyo’s disgusted stare.

 

“I’m proud of you for fathering the boy,” Kikyo offered in a kinder tone than he could remember hearing since before she died. He shrugged.

 

“If you’re here to gloat, get it over with,” Inuyasha sighed with no lack of bite, “Or to punish me for not being able to...”

 

“I came because I was concerned,” Kikyo admitted softly, “Once upon a time, in another life, you were to be my husband after all.”

 

Inuyasha snorted derisively but didn’t argue.

 

“The others aren’t here,” she observed and Inuyasha nodded.

 

“There was a jewel shard rumor,” he explained numbly, “They had to go.”

 

“Have you tried...”

 

“What do you want?” Inuyasha interrupted hatefully as he finally looked at her and his heart sank at the pity in her gaze.

 

“If you’ll let me, I wanted to offer healing,” she admitted softly, “I had success in the past for those suffering from numbness. Do you have any feeling at all?”

 

Swallowing thickly, he closed his eyes and sighed.

 

“Sometimes. Like my leg is asleep and just woke up,” he admitted awkwardly - his pride long since gone, “Hurts a little then goes away.”

 

Kikyo nodded and tried to give him a reassuring smile.

 

“I know of some herbs that may alleviate that symptom. Would you want me to see if I can procure some?” she offered and he shrugged.

 

“I will do so,” she offered kindly, “I could also fashion a brace if you...”

 

“Why?” He interrupted, “Why the fuck are you here?”

 

“To make amends.”

 

“You know that I don’t...”

 

“I know,” she interrupted in that same infuriatingly soft tone, “I know you no longer love me. I’ve known for some time.”

 

“Then why the fuck would you...”

 

“Because you saw the humanity in me when I had lost sight of it myself,” she cut him off with a soft sigh, “I am grateful for that. More than you could ever know. Please allow me to repay that favor.”

 

Inuyasha swallowed thickly as tears welled in his eyes. 

 

“There’s nothing you can do. You can’t fix...fix this,” he managed as he let out a shuddering sigh.

 

“Just as you could not fix this,” she gestured to her clay body, “But like you, that will not prevent me for trying to help.”

 

Shippo was still bristled to the max and had slunk between them ready to defend if necessary.

 

Stand down,’ Inuyasha ordered and Shippo whined But complied.

 

“Is that a language?” Kikyo asked curiously and Inuyasha nodded as he averted his eyes.

 

“Could you teach me?” she asked and Inuyasha whipped his gaze towards her with shock written all over his face.

 

“Why?”

 

“Perhaps there are phrases that do not translate to human tongue,” she explained with a soft laugh, “If I am to assist, I would want to make it easier for you to communicate the issues at hand.”

 

“Who are you?” Inuyasha asked incredulously and Kikyo shrugged.

 

“A friend,” she hummed, “Strange how it is easier to be a friend rather than a lover, is it not? When I wanted to be your wife, I was bothered by your demonic traits and wished them gone. I had no desire to share my bed with a demon or bare demonic offspring. As a friend, I can accept you as you are. Perhaps that is the lesson I learned for my next life. Acceptance.”

 

“No one could really love me like this. Not for long. Not even her,” he ground out bitterly, “No one would want to spend their life with a cripple. She says that now but I know...”

 

“She does want you still,” Kikyo assured him with a genuine smile, “That will never change. Of that I am certain.”

 

“What? Did you have a heart to heart with her?” he mocked and Kikyo gave him a patient look.

 

“I may have spied on them,” she admitted with a twinge of guilt, “That is how I learned of your injury and location. She is very anxious to return. You should have seen her. Disintegrated the demon with one arrow to avoid delays. You would have been so proud.”

 

Inuyasha had to bite back a sob at having missed it and Kikyo’s eyes softened exponentially.

 

“I will return in three days time,” she informed him, “With the herbs. In the meantime, continue to love her and allow her to love you in return. Not all is lost my dear friend. If this is the worst that happens to you, it will be a good life.”

 

Turning, she began walking into the distance leaving a very shell-shocked hanyou behind her.

 

Safe now,’. Shippo chittered in a sassy tone, ‘Bad woman bad.’

 

Inuyasha sighed before shaking his head.

 

Unsure,’ he whoofed softly, ‘Play pup play. Beta rests.’

 

Not pup. Pack member,’ Shippo yipped defensively and Inuyasha’s lips twitched upwards. The kit was definitely still in there somewhere.

 

Alpha mother returns soon?’ Shippo whined and Inuyasha flinched at the reminder but nodded. He might refer to himself as beta but that didn’t make the knowledge Kagome was the true alpha hurt any less. That had been the only reason the kit was as stable as he was. There was a pack. There was a hierarchy. And the kit was higher up than him but as a pup, he answered to his caregivers which consisted of the alpha and the beta. In truth, the kit would figure out Sango was the true beta now any day now. But Inuyasha would take what little he could get for the moment. 

 

Alpha mother returns soon.’

 

xxxxxxxxxxx

 

“I’m going to take Kilala,” Kagome announced authorizatively as she glanced at her watch, “I want to make it back before nightfall. We’ve been gone too long.”

 

“Kagome-sama, we had to follow this lead,” Miroku tried but the miko gave him a withering glare.

 

“You two can see the jewel shards,” Kagome reminded scathingly, “You didn’t need me but you insisted I had to go.”

 

“Inuyasha’s condition will not have worsened during your absence. Besides our abilities are limited whereas your ability offers more clarity,” Miroku tried awkwardly but Kagome just glared.

 

“Next time I’m not going,” she huffed before looking expectantly at Sango, “You going to let me take Kilala or not?”

 

Casting the monk a chiding look, Sango nodded and gently placed the fire cat on the ground. In no time at all, Kagome was off leaving the slayer and monk behind.

 

“It was wrong to demand she accompany us,” Sango sighed heavily and Miroku nodded as his grip tightened on his staff.

 

“You do realize that we will be unable to defeat Nataly, don’t you? That all we can do is collect shards to prevent him from obtaining the completed jewel?” Miroku asked tightly and Sango nodded as her frown deepened.

 

“Maybe we should just settle down,” Sango opined as she cast the monk a side eyed glance and reached over to hold his hand, “Take advantage of the time you have left.”

 

Miroku sighed heavily even as his heart melted.

 

“I didn’t know you wanted that,” he admitted as he grasped her hand tightly and Sango hummed.

 

“Why did you think I got so jealous?” the slayer chuckled and Miroku let out a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding.

 

“It is still early yet,” he began cautiously, “Inuyasha could improve and if he does not, it is possible we could defeat Naraku on our own.”

 

“True,” Sango admitted softly but her eyes told a different story, “But would it be so bad if we prepared for the worst?”

 

Miroku shook his head before reaching over to cup her chin and give her a long, lingering kiss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

There had to be some conspiracy to make his life a living hell. To take everything he had left in him and burn it into ash. 

 

 

“What the hell happened to you, mutt face?” Koga sneered as Inuyasha stared at him with dejected resignation. The wolf’s cocky facade faded into concern when Inuyasha didn’t take the bait.

 

“No, really, what happened?” Koga amended before frowning when he finally noticed the growl emanating from the kit.

 

Stand down,” Inuyasha ordered softly but Shippo refused to follow the command and the poor hanyou wilted visibly.

 

“You gunna answer me mutt?” Koga asked but his competition merely averted his eyes which was extremely concerning. Glancing back at his betas, Koga nodded at the poor man but they merely shrugged.

 

“Mutt-fa....Inuyasha,” Koga amended, “What happened?”

 

“Got hurt,” Inuyasha mumbled in a small voice before adding with a shuddering sigh, “Kagome isn’t here.”

 

“I know,” Koga replied and amber eyes finally looked up at the wolf’s face. There was only pity written all over Koga’s face. That and concern. 

 

“So why...”

 

“I heard,” Koga replied to the unspoken question, “I had to see for myself.”

 

Inuyasha looked like he wanted to crawl into a hole and die but nodded once in understanding.

 

“You want me to relinquish my claim,” he replied in a defeated tone as he averted his eyes. The silence that followed was unnerving.

 

“As much as I hate to say it, in the end, it’s not really up to us who she chooses,” Koga finally replied - slowly and deliberately, “But if she does chose you, you’ll need to be able to protect her so I came to offer you a shard. To see whether it would help.”

 

Inuyasha snorted and shook his head.

 

“It wouldn't help,” the hanyou sighed heavily, “It’d cause more problems than it would solve.”

 

“Kill him. Threat. Danger. Alpha mother disapprove of weakness. You do nothing. Too weak,” Shippo suddenly hissed and Inuyasha sighed heavily. The kit knew exactly what he was doing. Challenging him without actuallychallenging him. Knowing words hurt more than action at this point. He’d tried to fight before but even with one arm, Inuyasha’s reflexes were still quick and he could pin that tiny body faster than the kit could blink. Shippō was trying to break him in more crafty, hurtful ways now. And was more or less wearing him down that way. Closing his eyes, Inuyasha swallowed thickly and tried to pretend Koga wasn’t right fucking there watching a child call his worthless ass out. 

 

Stand down. Alpha mother approves of male. Do not harm,” he ordered more firmly and Shippo merely snarled in reply but did in fact stay put. Koga chewed his cheek for a moment before kneeling down.

 

You disrespect beta? Alpha mother gave beta task. Gave pup to beta. Alpha mother and beta trust wolf. Would not approve of disrespect, no? Listen well and alpha mother rewards,” Koga woofed sternly and Inuyasha blinked in surprise. Since when did Koga act like Shippo meant a damn thing to him? Since when did Koga actually try to help him for that matter. And more shocking still the instinct driven little urchin actually looked contrite and saddled up to Inuyasha before burrowing himself in the half-demon’s lap.

 

“Yeah listen when he talks why don’t cha?” Inuyasha chuckled awkwardly and Koga gave him a chiding look.

 

“Because you don’t talk to him like a child. You talk to him like he’s a pack member. And he knows he’s higher in the food chain than you as the alpha’s son,” Koga sniffed pointedly, “Of course he’s going to push boundaries.”

 

Inuyasha began stroking Shippo’s fur affectionately before glancing up at Koga.

 

“Thanks I guess,” Inuyasha ground out and Koga shrugged.

 

“Kagome loves that kid,” Koga sighed as he got to his feet, “Shame he turned out this way. I would’ve thought you were too stupid to do it but I’m damn grateful you thought to establish she was alpha. What made him turn to blood lust?”

 

“He got upset when I got hurt,” Inuyasha explained shakily, as he continued to stroke the kit’s fur and refused to meet Koga’s gaze, “Burned that demon to a crisp.”

 

“Shows he loves you if that’s any consolation. Probably would’ve killed you already if he didn’t. I’ve seen this happen before and trust me it isn’t pretty,” Koga offered and once again Inuyasha wondered why the hell the wolf was even there. And why the hell the flea bag was even bothering comforting the one person he’d been competing against all this time. 

 

“So you gunna tell me what happened?” the wolf asked, “Heard you’re missing an arm and a leg.”

 

“Just the arm,” Inuyasha replied evasively and Koga narrowed his eyes.

 

“Stand then,” the wolf ordered gently and Inuyasha deflated.

 

”Just because I’m not missing a leg doesn’t mean I can feel it,” Inuyasha amended bitterly as he continued stroking Shippo’s tail, “I know why you’re really here. Stop with the act. I...I relinquish my claim, okay? I’m no good to anybody anymore. She’d be better off with you and we both know it. Just go.”

 

Breathily heavily, Inuyasha tried to stave off the urge to cry and was more or less successful. Kagome would spend the rest of her life trying to fix him and he had no interest in watching her slowly grow tired of being stuck with a cripple anyway. Yeah, she said she loved him but Kagome said a lot of things and she was really young. She had no idea what she was signing up for. How could she when even he didn’t? He loved her too much to damn her to that kind of life. Koga would be able to do so much more for her. Provide and protect her which she needed now more than ever.

 

“I think she’d disagree,” Koga finally spoke as he gauged the half-demon’s broken facade, “And again, it’s not our choice to make. Kagome is strong and powerful. I doubt you have any say in who gets her.”

 

Damn wolf knew just how to get under his skin. Making it seem like he was making decisions for Kagome and trying to control her life. Anyone with half a brain knew that nobody could control that woman. All Inuyasha had meant was he’d stop trying and bow out gracefully but the wolf couldn’t even let him do that much.

 

“What the hell do you want, huh? Did you come here to mock me?” Inuyasha growled, “I already gave you what you want. You can fuck off.”

 

“You love her,” Koga pointed out and Inuyasha glared at him hatefully but didn’t deny the observation.

 

“So why wouldn’t you fight for her?”

 

“Because I can’t fight anymore,” Inuyasha spat bitterly but Koga merely smirked and shrugged.

 

“Have you tried?” Koga asked dismissively and Inuyasha startled slightly.

 

“The only person saying you’re useless is you mutt face,” Koga laughed softly, “So get your head out of your ass. When I win over Kagome, I want to win fair and square. Not because you gave up.”

 

“Why do you even care what I do?” Inuyasha clipped back suspiciously and Koga shrugged.

 

“Wouldn’t say I care,” Koga sniffed once, “But Kagome does and what matters to her, matters to me.”

 

“That doesn’t make any....”

 

“It’s hard to compete with unconditional love,” Koga interrupted cryptically, “And harder to understand it. Sometimes, to love someone, means you have to let them go. To let them be happy even if it’s without you.“

 

Inuyasha merely gaped at him so he elaborated.

 

“She loves you,” Koga clarified, “I’ve always known that.”

 

Inuyasha’s weary, depressed mind was struggling to compute and as a result, his brain was malfunctioning. Had to be. 

 

“If you knew that then why did you...”

 

“You never treated her right,” Koga pointed out - for the first time a little anger seeping into his tone, “I would never treat a woman that way. Acting like she’s expendable. Not putting her needs first. Putting her down. You...you never listened to what she had to say. Chased after that dead piece of tail over and over and over even though it broke her heart. I was showing her how a woman should be treated. How a real man should treat their woman. I figured it was only a matter of time before she realized what she was missing. That I was better than you.”

 

Inuyasha had to good grace to look ashamed. The stupid wolf was right. If he had listened to Kagome, he wouldn’t be in this mess. All those opportunities wasted to hold her with both arms and never let go. A tear trickled down his cheek as he took the verbal lashing that had been a long time coming. An unwilling prisoner subject to this unusual form of punishment.

 

“I mean, give me a break,” Koga snorted derisively, “I bet you got hurt because you ignored what she had to say. Probably called her an idiot and did what you wanted. If I thought for one second you beat her or let her get hurt I would’ve taken her in a heartbeat. Even if she hated me for it.”

 

Inuyasha opened his mouth before the wolf interrupted him with thinly veiled rage.

 

“There were a few times I almost did it, ya know,” Koga snarled as his anger began to get the best of him, “That time she was pale. Her scent off. I even challenged you over that if you remember. Should’ve just taken off with her then rather than waste my breath on you.”

 

Shippō began to bristle again and Inuyasha wasn’t exactly inclined to stop the boy should the kit take Koga on. Even at the risk of having the kit turn on him. There had been a time he was able to brush off insults but things had changed. The injury had broken his body and his spirit. He simply couldn’t find the arrogant confidence he used to have. Confidence built off of his superior physical strength and battle prowess. Without it, he was nothing. 

 

Koga huffed once before shaking his head.

 

“But she’ll never leave you when you’re like this,” Koga groaned as he gestured at Inuyasha’s general person, “Taking her now would break her and I can’t do that. She’d never forgive herself. Never be happy and she deserves to be happy. Even if it’s with you.”

 

For the first time, Inuyasha believed Koga actually loved Kagome. In the past, he’d had his doubts. Thought it was just a crush or something but this conversation was proving otherwise. He really did love Kagome, would have treated her better, would’ve actually made her feel loved all that time because she would actually be loved by someone who treated her right all that time. Would have listened in that same situation and wouldn’t have been left crippled for life. This belated realization hurt more than he would’ve thought possible. 

 

“I...”

 

“You’re a bastard,” Koga finished for him as he gave him a disgusted look, “But you’ve been given a taste of your own medicine. Had the one thing that you thought gave you the right to treat her like dirt taken from you. Maybe you’ve learned your lesson and will be someone who deserves her. For gods know what reason, she still loves you. Be better or I’ll be back. Even if I have to take her kicking and screaming because you’ve somehow convinced her she deserves to be treated that way.”

 

Inuyasha snorted even as another tear streamed down his cheek.

 

“That’ll convince her you’re better now won’t it?” Inuyasha replied sourly and Koga chuckled darkly.

 

“She’d be free to leave any time she wants,” Koga replied, “But I’d kill you first. She wouldn’t be able to be abused by you ever again and that will be enough. My love is unconditional unlike yours and that type of love means sacrificing yourself for the person you love. She doesn’t have to be with me. Probably wouldn’t. But she’d be safe and that’s all that matters.”

 

Another tear broke free and Shippō was almost vibrating from the effort of holding back.

 

Alpha mother would disapprove. Left beta in charge,”Inuyasha woofed hoarsely, “Obey beta. Stand down.”

 

Not pack male hurt beta. Can smell it. Protect beta,”Shippo snarled and Inuyasha sighed heavily.

 

Beta not hurt,” Inuyasha barked softly, “Beta...beta not hurt. Pup doesn’t need to protect.”

 

Scent doesn’t lie,” Shippo protested but he did seem to relax.

 

“Scent doesn’t lie. Beta hurting,” Inuyasha admitted as he patted Shippo’s head reassuringly, “But beta not in danger. No need to protect.”

 

Shippo sniffed a few times before turning to face Inuyasha with crimson eyes. He seemed to be trying to read him, his little head cocked to one side while a frown played on his lips. Reaching up with his tiny paw, he wiped away a stray tear and rubbed it between his fingers before woofing softly in a way that had no meaning.

 

Alpha mother return soon,” Shippo comforted gently and Inuyasha’s eyes widened in shock, “Will make beta better. Will know answers. Pup has no answers. Cannot make beta better.”

 

Kid has potential,” Koga observed as he chewed the inside of his cheek, “Kagome has been a good influence on him.”

 

“He’s still in there somewhere,” Inuyasha muttered as he gave the kit a watery smile, “I hope he’ll come back.”

 

“Oh he won’t come back,” Koga corrected before sighing heavily, “I’ve seen this before. I’m sure you have too. I don’t know what you all did though. Never seen someone lost still have some control. So yeah, he’s still in there. That’ll make Kagome happy.”

 

Inuyasha glanced up at the slightly morose looking wolf and frowned. That really was all Koga cared about. Making sure Kagome was happy.

 

“Would you have taken him with you?” Inuyasha asked in a small voice and Koga nodded.

 

“Of course. Kit is hers,” Koga replied without hesitation, “I wouldn’t separate a mother from her child. Your friends would’ve been welcome too.”

 

“Give me a year,” Inuyasha began tentatively, “If...if I don’t get better, I want you to take her. Kill me if you have to.”

 

“I’m not going to kill you just because you can’t handle being a cripple,” Koga snorted, “If you want to kill yourself that’s your business but I’m not doing it for you.”

 

“What if I treat her...”

 

“I’ll make your death as painful and slow as possible,” Koga cut him off heatedly, “It’d prove you really are the most selfish bastard I’ve ever met. Making her life hell just to end your own life. I should just take her now.”

 

“So do it,” Inuyasha croaked as he gently picked up Shippo and held him out, “You love her. You just said you’re better and you’re right. Just...just take them and go.”

 

Koga’s face fell as he gave the broken half-demon an utterly disgusted look.

 

“You’re pathetic,” the wolf scoffed angrily before he turned and began storming away, “If you want her gone, break it off yourself. Don’t ruin my chances with her just to serve yourself.”

 

Inuyasha let out a shuddering sigh as he lowered Shippo back onto his lap. Even with his body and spirit broke, he hadn’t learned a damn thing. Other than that he was a selfish, useless bastard who deserved everything that was happening to him and more besides. Kagome did deserve better. She deserved anyone other than him.

 

Alpha mother coming,” Shippo suddenly chirped as he glanced up at his caretakers wet face, “Will make beta better. Beta will see.”

 

Not beta,” Inuyasha whispered as a few more tears slipped free, “Omega. Only omega.”

 

“Alpha mother decides,” Shippo scoffed as he hopped off Inuyasha’s lap, “Beta cannot decide. Beta is...”

 

The boy continued to chide him and Inuyasha merely listened. It was true enough that the kit had figured out - in his own mind - the structure of their pack as demons recognized them anyway. Kagome, obviously, was the alpha. Sango was also a beta - equal in standing to himself in the kit’s mind. For now. Kilala and Miroku were the selsas to Sango or, in lamemen’s terms, a beta’s beta. Shippo was an iolta or pup. Not quite ranked other than that but subordinate to them all. Except the omegas. Omegas were the bottom of the food chain. The weakest link. The troublemakers of no standing. If that didn’t describe him, Inuyasha wasn’t sure what did. Still if Kagome gave an omega the task of watching the pups, Shippo would still need to obey. Because the alphademanded it.

 

But it meant the one thing he had going for him was now out of reach. An omega could never be with an alpha. Omegas didn’t deserve it.

Chapter Text

It was strange to her that Inuyasha wasn't waiting in the hut the villagers had built for him. The love and affection for the man who had once been the monster in the stories they told their children etched in every detail. Glancing around, she smiled sadly at some of the latest additions. Someone had built a shelf network into one of the hut walls reminiscent of the bars in bathroom stalls at various levels - presumably to help Inuyasha maneuver around in his own home. A few canes were gathering dust in the corner because hell would freeze over before he used them. A small flap had been installed for Shippo to have easy access to his den. It felt good to know someone was looking out for her hanyou when she was forced to leave. He could use someone to look out for him after being alone his whole life. Not that he'd ever see it that way. She knew that. His entire identity had been built around being self-sufficient. Having to rely on everyone else to do basic functions was definitely beginning to wear on him.

"They must be in the meadow," Kagome sighed as she pushed back the mat and began walking in that direction with Kilala following behind. The fire cat had followed her instructions and dropped them in the village - even though she probably knew the demons she sought weren't there. A part of her wondered whether the fearsome cat even felt smug about things like that.

"Alpha mother! Alpha mother!" Shippo's tiny yips hit her ears and she knelt down with her arms extended to receive the tiny ball of fluff before realizing he wasn't running to her like he normally did.

"Beta hurt. Do not understand injury. Hurt," the kit whined for good measure as he began to pace and wring his tiny paws a fair distance away, "Beta need alpha mother. Pup no good."

"Pup good. Pup wait in den. Alpha mother helps beta," Kagome replied shakily and the kit gratefully complied. The miko had never been more grateful for modern technology. Thanks to a little recording device she'd managed to use that thing like Rosetta Stone. Inuyasha had spent the better part of two days recording different words and phrases at her request. She'd wanted to understand her adopted son and nothing motivated her like love.

"Kilala go with Shippo," she ordered as her feet began moving of their own volition. Hurt. Shippo had said Inuyasha was hurt. Pace quickening into an all out sprint, Kagome slid into the meadow like she was aiming for home base while her eyes locked onto the comatose looking half-demon leaning against the well.

"Inuyasha?" She called out tentatively and he flinched. That reaction brought a modicum of morbid relief. Whatever was happening could be fixed. Her initial fear was that the kit didn't understand death but that was a stupid thought anyway. Why would there even be a word for it if it had no meaning?

"Hey," she murmured affectionately as she knelt down before him - on hand gently brushing the damp hair out of his tear streaked face, "What's wrong?"

"I'm sorry," he choked before a shuddering sob escaped him, "I'm so sorry."

"Why are you sorry?" Kagome asked as she scooted until her back was against the well. Instead of an Inuyasha-like reply, he merely continued to cry convulsively. His entire body trembling as his remaining arm wrapped around his waist and his entire body tried to curl into itself while his lips kept rasping out apologies. Unsure of what to do and definitely alarmed, Kagome did the only thing she could think of.

"Come here," she crooned as she coaxed him to lay his head down in her lap. Gently wiping away the tears on his cheeks as she went, she subtly scanned his body for physical injuries just to rule out that possibility. Letting out a sigh of relief when she found none, she turned her attention to his hair and began running her fingers through his thick mane.

"Do you want to tell me what happened?" she asked quietly and he whined in reply before burying his face in her stomach.

"You're okay," she hummed reassuringly as she tried to remain calm, "You're okay. Just let it out."

"I'm sorry," he repeated over and over - his voice muffled as his breathing hitched.

"It's okay," she repeated affectionately as she continued running her fingers through his hair, "It'll be okay."

Slowly but surely, his heart wrenching sobs lessened until he fell solidly into the shuddering breath category. Scratching lightly at his scalp, Kagome closed her eyes and leaned her head back against the ancient wood. She honestly didn't know what she expected. Truth be told, she'd expected to find him sobbing by himself for weeks now. He'd been coping by and large but there were times when she noticed him subtly wiping something away from his face. It was clear he was barely keeping it together and was merely putting up appearances. Losing a limb was traumatizing enough but when you went from being one of the strongest people in the world to someone who could barely walk that was something else entirely. Inuyasha built his identity around his strength and ability to survive on his own. Now he lacked both. It only made sense that these events would lead to a nuclear level meltdown. Not even he was that strong.

"I love you," he managed hoarsely as his good arm wrapped around her waist and she hummed.

"I love you too," she reassured him, "It's okay to cry. I do it a lot too."

The instant flinch and a fresh onslaught of tears was not what she was expecting with that admission.

"Do you want to talk about it?" she asked softly and he whined before a particular painful sounding sob escaped.

"Did something happen when I was gone?" she tried and his arm tightened around her waist. She was going to take that as a yes.

"Are you crying because I left?" she followed up in this uncomfortable game of twenty questions. He shook his head and squeezed her tighter.

"Did someone say something to you?" she tried and he flinched. Another yes. Maybe.

"Was it someone I know?"

When he froze, she took that as an affirmative. Kagome chewed the inside of her cheek as she did a mental run down of who could have caused him to have a complete mental break down and start apologizing to her like a man begging for his life. Kikyo was definitely out. He wouldn't be apologizing for her. Not anymore. Naraku would've just killed him unless he offered a deal and Inuyasha accepted it. Possible but unlikely. Having just seen the newly decked out hut, she ruled out all of the villagers. That left only a few possibilities. One in particular stood out.

"Did Koga come by?" she asked and another sob broke free. Bingo. Almost instantly she began a running list of curse words to throw at that dirtbag the next time she saw him. That and non-lethal spiritual attacks. Whatever Koga said had done some damage and, at the moment, she felt the need to exact a small bit of revenge for the injury that...that asshole inflicted on the already fragile man currently weeping in her arms. Not that she was a vengeful person but Inuyasha's coping ability had been hanging on by a thread and then Koga just conveniently decided to pop up to crush whatever the man she loved had in him. That was no accident. That shit was intentional. Rat bastard.

"I'm sorry," Inuyasha mumbled again and she could feel him swallow repeatedly as he tried to get himself under control.

"Shhhhhhhh," Kagome crooned as she adjusted herself to lay flat on her back - encouraging him to follow and rest his cheek over her heart. He didn't fight her and seemed to melt into her when he settled down into a comfortable position.

"Why are you apologizing?" she hummed as she ran her hand passively up and down his back. A shaky sigh of relief fluttered across her neck as he rolled to lay more of his body weight against her. Pride broken beyond all repair, he honestly didn't give a shit he was acting like a little bitch at the moment. All he wanted was reassurance that he wasn't who Koga thought he was. That he hadn't always been as worthless as he felt right now.

When her lips pressed against his temple, he awkwardly forced his leg to hook over hers while the rest of him snuggled deeper into her embrace. It felt like her presence alone had the power to soothe away any pain he felt. Like somehow she was subconsciously purifying the bad thoughts and sending them straight to hell where they belonged.

"I want you to repeat after me," she whispered and Inuyasha hummed to show he was listening.

"Koga. Is. An. Idiot."

A strangled ghost of a smile played on his lips.

"You're not saying it," she teased lightly and he sighed contentedly.

"Koga. Is. An. Idiot," he repeated hoarsely as his lips twitched upwards.

"Whatever. Koga. Said. Was. Wrong," she continued as she gave him a light squeeze and a single tear slipped free from his closed amber eyes.

"Whatever Koga said was wrong."

"Kagome. Loves. Me," she cooed and he let out a shuddering sigh. A few moments passed before she added encouragingly, "Come on. Say it."

It took several steadying breaths but he did manage to whisper, "Kagome loves me."

"I. Won. He. Lost," she continued before pressing her lips firmly against his temple. This time the words came easily.

"I won. He lost," he chuckled shakily as he let more of his body weight sag against her.

"Where the hell has he been while I've been out here getting injured so Kagome didn't have to be? I took care of Kagome when she was sick while he never even knew something was wrong. I have done more for Kagome than that bastard could ever even dream. Yeah, we fight but that's just what we do apparently. If it ain't broke don't fix it," she encouraged in a very good imitation of his usual cocky voice and he nearly wanted to cry in relief. That statement too was repeated.

"I'm better than you Koga. Go fuck yourself," she finished and Inuyasha let out a strangled laugh. How the hell did she put all that together just from him saying 'I'm sorry'? It was an unconventional approach but damn if it wasn't effective.

"See? I'm a bad influence on you," he teased hoarsely, "You never would've used that type of language before you met me."

"Yeah well, sometimes language like that is warranted," she replied cryptically and he let out another shaky laugh.

"Did he say anything else you want to address?" she asked as she gently scratched his scalp and his smile faltered. Next time they saw Koga he knew exactly what was going to be used against him. All those statements were reassuring but how the hell was he ever going to live down offering her up on a silver platter?

The sudden tension in his muscles wasn't missed and Kagome didn't need to be a mind reader to envision the conversation that went down. What Inuyasha had probably done after being beat down with how terrible he was. If one thing was for certain, Koga had a wicked way with words and liked to play with his food.

"If I ever tried to send Kagome away," she began again - softer and more hesitantly, "Its only because I love her. I want her to be safe."

"How..."

"I am not selfish," she continued a little more confidently once she was sure she hit the nail on the head, "But I do know that even when I send her away, she always, always comes back to me."

Inuyasha nodded and repeated her words. Still the hollow feeling, the knowledge that eventually she'd learn what he'd tried to do, felt like a punch in the gut. He had to tell her. She'd find out eventually and if they were already talking about it...

"I offered to let him kill me," he whispered so softly he hoped she didn't hear it, "So you couldn't come back."

"You did what now?" Kagome hissed as she sat bolt upright - her eyes wide and horrified. The look of haunted resignation on his face stilled her temper though and she had to bite her lip to keep herself from tearing him a new one.

"I know you love me but that's the problem" he mumbled miserably as he awkwardly propped himself up, "I can't even walk Kagome and it's getting worse. Whatever happened broke something."

Taking a shaky breath, he closed his eyes in pain and exposed what was left of his arm. Kagome almost wanted to puke. It looked like raw beef. Littered with deep still healing scabbed over grooves.

"I tried using blades of blood," he explained miserably as he tried to read her horrified expression, "Ya know, since I can't use my sword. That attack still works but I'm not healing."

"So why did you keep doing it?" she breathed hoarsely - his admission almost forgotten as she took the abused flesh in her hands and shook her head in horror, "There's so many. Doesn't it hurt?"

"Blades of blood is called blades of blood for a reason. Besides, the pain doesn't bother me," he sighed evasively, "Usually healed in a day or two though. Now it's taking at least a week. Maybe longer."

"Shippo said he didn't understand your injury. This must've been what he meant," Kagome hummed in understanding and Inuyasha gave her a sad, mournful smile. Kikyo had been really late to the party on the whole wanting to learn youkai thing. Kagome might not be perfect when she spoke but she could understand damn near everything. It made him proud but also a little sad. She never should have needed to learn it in the first place.

"Kit knows these are self-inflicted," Inuyasha corrected with a dark chuckle, "I think he meant I was upset. Demons don't cry. It shows weakness."

Kagome glanced up at him and visibly wilted.

"You cried in front of Koga, didn't you?"

Inuyasha merely shrugged before lowering his sleeve and averting his eyes.

"You need to go with him," he ordered softly, "I can't protect you anymore."

"Oh yes because the ability to 'protect' is my number one priority when choosing a husband," Kagome scoffed sarcastically as she rolled her eyes, "That's all that matters to me. Who can kill the most people in a single day. Gee. Why didn't I see it before? Welp guess I should…"

"I can't feel the lower half of my body Kagome," Inuyasha cut her off barely above a whisper as gesturing to a very specific portion of himself, "I don't….I don't even know if that works anymore. Can't be a husband if it doesn't now, can I?"

"What is with men and thinking about sex all that time? Do you know how much money has been spent in my time to make medicine so older men can still get an erection? Its like you guys think that piece of your anatomy is the only thing that matters," Kagome snorted as she shook her head and sighed as a deep crimson flushed her cheeks, "Besides have you even, you know, tried?"

Amused despite himself, Inuyasha blushed slightly at how flagrantly and openly they were discussing the possibility of them one day being intimate. Truth be told, that particular thought had just kinda come out like word vomit and he regretted it instantly. But like everything she did, she took it in stride and demonstrated that she really was from another time where she just knew about things like that.

But that didn't mean he felt comfortable answering that particular question quite yet.

"I'm not gunna answer that," he laughed softly as he plopped back down onto the grass.

"Well, you brought it up," she hummed as she scooted closer and began gently stroking his chest, "Like right after you said you tried to commit suicide by wolf like they were somehow related. Which if you ever try to do something that stupid again, I will S-I-T you so far into the ground that you'll never be able to climb out."

"I won't do it again," he promised as any humor in the situation flushed out of him. Giving her apologetic albeit forced smile, he sighed and swallowed thickly, "I just wanted you to have a better life than what I can give you. It wasn't…it wasn't for any other reason."

"Yeah well my life is better with you in it," she huffed as she continued rubbing circles on his torso, "You're stuck with me. We can live in a hole in the ground for all I care so long as we're together."

"A hole in the ground?" he asked as he gave her a skeptical look and she responded with an irked one.

"You don't get to judge Mr. Kill Me Now," she clipped back, "A hole in the ground could be really comfortable. You don't know."

"As someone who has sometimes stayed in a hole in the ground I'm going to disagree," he laughed softly as he gave her an adoring look, "Thank you Kagome."

Giving him a somewhat playful side eyed glare, she bit her lip for a moment before lightly smacking him upside the head.

"I can't believe you did that," she huffed exasperatedly before adjusting herself to lay next to him and adding playfully, "I guess I understand why you got so mad all the time. Every other day I was getting kidnapped and now the tables have turned. What am I supposed to do with you, huh?"

He lolled his head in her direction and gave her an affectionate smile before laughing softly.

"Well, I'm stuck with you apparently. You better figure it out."

Chapter Text

Laying in the warm summer sun, Inuyasha hummed happily as Kagome rolled over and reached up to scratched the base of his good ear. The sensation was heavenly and he tilted his head to give her better access. For the first time since his injury, he felt content. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if he was like this forever. It wasn't so bad to have the ability to laze about doing nothing. Just enjoy being in her company without having to worry about battles and jewel shards. A part of him was morbidly relieved not to have the responsibility of being expected to protect everyone weighing on his chest.

"I need to look at your arm," Kagome hummed lazily as her hand moved to gently scratch at his chest, "You'll probably need to bathe first. To make it easier."

Inuyasha sighed heavily before rolling to face her with a faint blush on his cheeks.

"You never wanted me to bathe before," he pointed out sheepishly and she nodded.

"Have you bathed since I left?" she asked as she gave him a knowing look, "Because I bet you an entire case of ramen you haven't. There are only so many alcohol wipes in the world Inuyasha and your arm looks like it got attacked by a weed whacker."

Furrowing his brow, Inuyasha opened his mouth to ask what the hell a 'weed whacker' was before Kagome beat him to the punch.

"Its a machine with a whip blade on it," she laughed softly before making a whirring sound and playfully running her fingers up his covered arm. Laughing once despite himself, he shrugged and rolled his eyes.

"It's not that bad," he protested weakly before blushing deeper still when she gave him a skeptical look and amending, "And that doesn't explain why I've gotta bathe. I didn't bathe all that much on the quest and you still patched me up."

"Oh, well, that's gross," she teased, "And you did too bathe a lot. We all could tell. Don't lie."

Narrowing his eyes, Inuyasha had to give her that one. He always did like being clean but unlike her, he was always quick about it. That didn't explain how she knew though unless...

"How would you know unless you followed me?" he challenged and Kagome snorted.

"Well how else do you explain being covered in guts and blood when we all went to sleep and when we wake up, wow, what do you know? It disappeared like magic in the morning," she clipped back in a somewhat sarcastic tone and he pouted. A part of him, however remote, had kinda hoped she had seen him naked before the injury. You know, actively looked. On purpose. Without screaming or throwing things. That...that weirdly would have made him feel better all things considered. Especially because he wasn't quite sure how the hell she expected him to bathe while missing an arm and a leg. God he was glad she didn't have his sense of smell because truth be told, he hadn't bathed since before he got hurt - notwithstanding the undoubtedly awkward wipe down he'd gotten immediately after they found him.

"Would you..." he cleared his throat as his blush deepened, "Would you mind helping me?"

Kagome's sapphire eyes widened in surprise before a matching blush adorned her cheeks.

"Y-you don't have to," he backpedaled, "I can do it myself. Just takes longer is all."

That was a god damn lie. He knew he couldn't bathe by himself. Or that he probably shouldn't anyway. He had tried and he regretted that decision almost instantly. It had been a stupid miscalculation. Assuming there was a ledge or something to step onto but it had been a log. A loosely situated log that probably got trapped or something at some point and was begging to be free. And free it did go and Inuyasha went down after it. His life flashing before his eyes as he desperately tried to grasp onto something to pull himself out of the deeper than it looked hot spring. Which was way harder than it should've been. The way he'd gone down had somehow managed to pin both useful appendages at incredibly awkward angles and the shock of going down in the first place had made him a little spastic. By the time he managed to get them loose, another unfortunate realization hit him. Turns out swimming with one arm was not his forte especially when combined with swimming with one leg. By the time he managed to get his head above water, he was done with the whole idea and hadn't tried it since.

And yet he honestly did not want Kagome to help him. Didn't want her to see him naked right now. Had no desire to let her know that he wasn't even capable of cleaning himself because he didn't want to add more kindling on this dumpster fire he'd started And yet here was his dumb ass doused himself in liquor and jumping straight into the flames. Why couldn't he just have figured out something else? But no, the request had just kinda come out like word vomit.

The miko chewed her lip for a moment as she tried to overcome her own embarrassment. To be perfectly honest, in the process of cleaning him up that fateful day, she had already seen him completely nude. Miroku had attended the, uh, obvious areas since he was a guy but the gruesome injuries had strangely made the task completely devoid of awkwardness. The only thought on anyone's mind had been doing whatever it took to keep him alive. To clean off the blood so they could assess the damage.

Still, he looked so utterly mortified by his request that she did indeed feel bad. He was asking for help and who was she to say no.

"I can help if you want," she finally replied and he chuckled nervously. Truth be told,he was still struggling to admit this new reality was his life and the thought of having to rely on someone else for pretty much everything made his stomach churn. That and the thought of Kagome seeing his disfigured body had a cold sense of dread washing over him. Sure she loved him now but would she still be attracted to him once she saw?

"O-on second thought, I'll just do it," he mumbled awkwardly as he haphazardly pushed himself up, "Was a stupid thing to ask."

"Only a little," she teased good natured my before her smile faltered as she watched him struggle to get to his feet. It was getting worse. His injured leg obviously not cooperating as he grasped the cane nearby and tried to pretend she wasn't watching. The look of shame and humiliation on his face absolutely breaking her heart.

"Here. Let me help," she offered as she knelt down and wrapped his arm around her shoulder. Steadying him, they were soon both on their feet and a glance over at him exposed a traitorous tear sliding down his cheek.

"Can you feel that leg at all anymore?" she asked quietly and he letting out a shuddering breath and shrugged.

"It hurts sometimes," he supplied as he averted his eyes, "So that's good I think. Means...means there's still some feeling."

Kagome crinkled her nose and cringed but didn't correct him. That for sure wasn't a good thing. It just verified what she already knew. It meant he had nerve damage. Probably to the degree that in her world it would've required surgery. But here...and with him not healing like he should be...

"Let me help you. You know, I bet Kilala can take us to a hot spring and watch Shippo. A little heat might help with the pain," she offered and he swallowed thickly as they headed back towards the village.

"Doesn't hurt right now," he protested weakly as he deeply regretted saying anything. The more he thought about it, he was definitely not comfortable with her seeing him naked just yet. Might never be. How that was going to work he had no fricking clue.

As though reading his mind, she added, "I've already seen what you look like naked, Inuyasha."

Blushing furiously, he gave her a startled glance and she laughed softly.

"How else do you think you woke up not covered in blood?"

He'd figured it had been Miroku or something that had cleaned him up but of course it was her. Stupid woman probably insisted on doing it herself. And if she'd seen, that answered whether she still found him attractive. Since then she'd made it clear how much she loved him which in turn meant she found his unsightly body desirable. However the question, which had not occurred to him, of how she intended to help without getting naked herself suddenly popped into his mind. The very idea of them both naked in the same place at the same time suddenly had heat flooding his veins that he had no intentions of ignoring.

"I have a bathing suit with me. It shouldn't a problem. Just let me help," Kagome hummed as they continued towards the village and any dreams of mutual nudity were crushed. Cripple he might be but he was definitely still a man and he couldn't help the disappointment that settled in his gut.

"Fine," he sighed in a resigned tone before yet another question popped in his mind, "You really think heat might help?"

Kagome nodded and gave him an understanding smile.

"I'd like to try to pop your back too," she hummed thoughtfully and his eyes bugged.

"You want to do what now?"

"You know, like when you sometimes pop your knuckles only with your back. My friends and I used to do that a lot when we were younger. Just walk along our spines and get the bubbles out," she giggled before grinning at his utterly horrified expression, "It feels so good."

"And...and this popping might help?" he breathed before adding a little desperately, "Do you know anything else?"

"Massage maybe but I know you're not a touchy feely person," she offered and he shook his head vigorously.

"I will let you do anything you want if it makes this shit stop," he chuckled darkly, "You want to try purifying me? Be my guest."

"I won't try that until the new moon," she snorted, "If i do it now, I'll have to patch up burns too. No thanks."

"Won't burn me. It'll just turn me human," he opined, "Like that stupid mountain did. I'd get better."

"Yeah and you screamed the whole time it purified the demon outta you. No thanks. Been scarred enough," Kagome laughed softly, "We can wait a few days to try that one. I've been trying to get Kaede to teach me."

That reminded him of who else had come around while she was gone.

"Kikyo'll be here in a few days. Maybe she could show you," he whispered before stumbling when she stopped dead - the previous momentum kept his body going but she managed to steady him.

"When were you going to tell me?" she accused and he scoffed.

"A lot happened since she came by," he bit back defensively, "Slipped my mind."

"Well, what does she want?" Kagome asked as her nostrils flared which he took as anger but really it was fear. Kikyo was insane. With Inuyasha no longer able to avenge her, would she try to kill him? Drag him to hell? What...

"She came as a friend. I think,"" he amended awkwardly, "Said she wanted to try to help heal me. She left to get some herbs and said she'd be back in three days."

"So two people just randomly showed up. And they both knew you were injured. Not just injured. Injured badly," she breathed and he nodded, "Did they say how they found out?"

"Kikyo apparently stalks us," Inuyasha explained awkwardly before his face fell, "But Koga didn't say."

One person was a coincidence but two? Two was something else entirely.

"You and Shippo need to start coming with us," Kagome whispered worriedly as she adjusted her hold and kept going, "You can ride on Kilala or something but I don't feel comfortable leaving you guys behind. If both Kikyo and Koga found out, if they both knew where to find you, someone else could. Naraku could."

"Shippo isn't stable enough to be around battle. Might set him off," Inuyasha opined shakily, "Can't Miroku just set up sutras or something? We can stay in that cave while you guys are gone and just hunker down."

"I don't know how that works. I mean if Shippo could go to my era, that'd solve a lot of problems," Kagome groaned, "Then I could just send you guys there. But he can't and I don't like the idea of you two locked up like animals. Besides that might not even work. How long do sutras last anyway?"

"How should I know? But I've been thinking..." Inuyasha began slowly, "I think it's because of the beads that I can go. Maybe we can give him some. Been meaning to ask anyway. If that's something we can do. Not for that reason but you know, just in case."

Kagome frowned.

"That won't help if he turns on you," Kagome replied dourly and Inuyasha chuckled darkly. Her heart broke a little as she realized something. It wasn't just because he was afraid of turning that he wanted to keep the beads on. Losing them might mean he'd break the connection to the future. To her.

That and one other thing. Something he'd pretty much admitted just not in so many words.

He honestly didn't give a shit if he died or not.

"You need to stay safe too," she began cautiously as fear gripped her heart, "I wouldn't be able to recover if I lost you."

Okay, maybe guilting him into being careful wasn't exactly the moral thing to do but guilt and her wellbeing were Inuyasha's top two motivations in life. He needed to realize that while he might not care whether or not he died, she sure as hell did and if only for that reason, he needed to, you know, not offer himself up like a sacrificial lamb like he was prone to do even before the injury.

"I'll be more careful, okay?" he sighed as he gave her what he hoped looked like a reassuring smile. He knew why she said that and he understood. He'd be pissed as hell if she did something stupid that got her killed. More so if she was asking for it like he had done. That wasn't his proudest moment but it really had been for her sake. He didn't fear death, never had. Okay maybe not never. There were a few memorable occasions when he had a change of heart and was upset that he might die. Humming to himself, he glanced at exactly what caused that change of heart or rather whom.

His good mood faded though as they drew closer to the village. Groaning internally, he very seriously regretted saying anything about wanting help with that particular task in the first place. While he'd like to blame the state of his body for the word vomit, he'd been saying stupid impulsive shit his whole life. The only thing that had changed was the nature of the beast. That part, at least, he could blame on his injuries.

"Do you," he cleared his throat as his blush returned full force, "Do you have one of those bathing suit things for me?"

Kagome hummed thoughtfully and furrowed her brow a moment before nodding.

"Actually I think so?" she laughed softly, "I think Mama bought one a while ago but I didn't think you'd ever use it. It's in a drawer somewhere. Would you feel more comfortable wearing one?"

Inuyasha gave her a side eyed glare before snorting.

"What do you think?" he muttered under his breath and Kagome shrugged.

"I don't know. You never seemed to have a problem with nudity before. I mean, you literally charged into my room buck naked that one time and didn't think anything of it," she pointed out and he scoffed.

"Well your brother was trying to boil me alive," he clipped back defensively before seeming to struggle with himself for a moment, "Instincts kinda kicked in. I wasn't thinking straight."

Kagome seemed to perk up a bit at this and preened a little.

"So..." she began and he suddenly felt a little self-conscious as she continued happily, "You were scaredand you wanted me to protect you from the big bad shower."

"I wasn't scared," he huffed but didn't deny the latter.

Kagome only grinned as she leaned over and kissed his cheek.

Chapter Text

Glancing towards the spot where Kagome was supposedly hiding, Inuyasha huffed in frustration as he fumbled clumsily with the ties that held his clothes together. This was already difficult enough when he was having to brace himself against a tree to even stand but apprarently the last time he'd tied them, as it turned out, he'd somehow managed to actually knot them. As in they'd now become tiny hard knots in his virtually indestructible fire rat that probably needed to be cutout. The question suddenly became whether he needed to just slice through them with his claws or just throw a fit so Kagome would back off on this whole bathing thing then let her figure it out when she cleaned up his wounds. The latter was risky but probably the most effective. While the fire rat did repair itself he'd never actually broken the ties that held them together which were not made of that same material. In fact he wasn't even sure what they were made of to be perfectly honest.

With another frustrated huff, Inuyasha was so distracted in his efforts that he didn't realize Kagome had to come out of hiding and was watching him with a mildly amused expression.

"Oh just let me do it," she finally laughed making him jump slightly at her proximity - his hearing definitely not what it used to be and he rolled his eyes at the reminder. Sighing heavily, he gave Kagome a withering glare before freezing like a deer in the headlights. Amber eyes bugging as his jaw dropped. It was shocking his heart hadn't given out at the speed it had achieved.

At first glance, Inuyasha had honestly, honestly believed Kagome was naked. While her skirt had always been maddeningly short and her stomach on occasion showing, it at least covered most of her up. The extremely limited bits of fabric she now donned were straight up pornographic. The only thing covered was a portion of her breasts and her ass while the rest of her was exposed for his viewing pleasure.

Holy shit.

Was this why she wanted to "help" him bathe? Not that he was going to complain if she wanted...if her real plan was to...just holy fucking shit! A stifled moan escaped him as she began walking towards him. Her very nearly exposed breasts bouncing slightly and making his already unstable knees go weak.

It was that sound that made Kagome realize that something was wrong. For a moment, she seemed rather confused and concerned before she inhaled sharply and looked down at herself like it wasn't blaring obvious that she was - in fact - wearing next to nothing.

"Its a bikini Inuyasha," she muttered sheepishly, "A bathing suit. You know, for swimming."

The image of her soaking wet in that thing had his head swimming and suddenly the world made a warped amount of sense. Maybe whatever gods there may be were actually taking pity on him. Creating a silver lining to all this bullshit. Giving him something he never, ever thought he'd get as the universe's penance for his useless arm and leg.

Kagome for her part and for the first time ever felt a twinge of fear. Inuyasha was staring at her with such half-crazed hunger that she half-thought he was about to eat her alive. Any attempt to undress him now was, uh... not going to end well.

"Gosh. Look at the sun. Getting late. Why don't we just do this some other time?" Kagome chuckled nervously as she stopped dead in her tracks. Much to his own dismay, a soft whine escaped against his will. What the hell did she mean they'd do this some other time? When the hell were they gunna be alone like this? Delaying things after dangling herself out there like the worlds most tempting bait was cruel. Hateful even. After all, she didn't need to show him what she had to offer to seal the deal. The deal was done. He was hers - body, mind and soul. Why would she wear something like that unless...

"Kagome..." he whined in frustration as he gave her a desperate pleading look and she cringed.

Her look seemed to be imply she was having doubts. That there was a problem or something that hadn't occurred to her. Maybe she thought he couldn't perform? He had implied he might not be able to do it.

"We don't have to do this later. Now is fine. More than fine," he pleaded hoarsely as he quickly said to hell with it and began cutting through the ties of his clothes with his claws. Like she said she'd seen him naked before and obviously still loved him. Hell after this was done, he'd register with the headman and she could officially be his wife if she wanted to maintain her honor, he didn't give a shit. He was planning on asking anyway and wasn't like it was that bastard's business if they skipped a step so long as they got to the right place eventually. This particular step was happening sooner than he expected but he was not gunna complain. Letting out another shaky breath, he began awkwardly shrugging out of his haori, "I'll figure it out, okay? I'm going to fucking figure this shit out."

Laughing shakily, he quickly shrugged out of his top and began fumbling with the knots from hell on his pants before glancing up at the very mortified Kagome.

Who may or may not die on the spot.

Look at him go. Where was the guy struggling a minute ago? That Inuyasha hadn't felt motivated apparently. And the way his hands were trembling as he literally attempted to strip was alarming for so many reasons.

It was just a swim suit for crying out loud and he was acting like a drag racer hitting the gas when the flag waved. His mind going from zero to sixty in 3.5. Racing towards the finish line he'd been craving to cross his whole life. It wasn't like she was naked here or gave him literally any indication that's what she wanted. Oh and of course, there was that cocky confidence he used to wear sparkling in his eyes as he took a moment to give her a very uncomfortable once over. Chucking nervously, Kagome began to inch back towards the tree line and he gave her a playfully chiding glance.

"Now is fine, Kagome. I can do this. You stay put and sit girl," he teased happily before continuing to fumble with his pants.

Yeah...

No...

Oh she had messed up. She had messed up royally. This was a different era with different standards of modesty and for whatever reason it hadn't even occurred to her that what she was wearing screamed sex. She'd basically appeared in front of him like a feudal era porno and his very male mind was reacting accordingly. It was horrifying to think she'd thought this outfit was appropriate and this whole situation had become awkward as hell. Her own anxiety at her faux pas left her feeling queasy and the urge to cover up was awe inspiring.

Maybe she could get out of this mess by playing dumb?

"I'm confused. Do you want me to help then? We're talking about bathing, right?" she asked him in the most innocent, naive tone she could muster and he froze. Mouthing wordlessly at her for a moment, a blush crept onto his cheeks. Suddenly he found himself wishing Koga had actually killed him so this never happened.

"Uh..." his mind raced as he tried to figure out how to salvage his horrifying miscalculation, "yeah...I was talking about bathing. I..."

He cleared his throat and looked hopelessly lost while his hand tightly gripped the waist of his pants and prayed to everything holy they didn't just fall down. If they did, there'd be some things she was bound to notice.

"I mean, you need me to be clean when you patch me up, right?" he tried as he prayed that she'd accept this very poor attempt to avoid admitting what he had thought was going on.

"So you want help?" she hummed as she prayed he'd just send her away.

"No, no, like I said, I can do it," he cleared his throat as his blush deepened, "I just meant you, uh, shouldn't go too far. Just in case."

"Okay then," she chirped awkwardly as she forced a smile on her face and clasped her hands behind her back, "I'll just leave you to it. Make sure to get those wounds super duper clean, okay?"

Inhaling deeply to calm himself down with her scent, his nostrils flared as his heart absolutely dropped. While so many things were wrong with his body, his sense of smell was fine and dandy. She knew damn well what he thought was going to happen and her scent said what her mouth wasn't. Seeing his exposed torso was mortifying. It made her uncomfortable. There were even hints of nausea that had him biting back tears. Putting everything together made it very clear she was disgusted by him. He'd never felt so humiliated in his entire life. Damn his lack of impulse control. He never thought anything through. This could all have been avoided if he just...if...

Forced smile fading, Inuyasha averted his eyes as his hand involuntarily moved to cover his disfigured arm. This right here was why he never wanted to let her see. Why he hadn't been confident enough. Even he couldn't look at what he'd become so why would she want to? So much for thinking she'd actually marry him. Where that left their relationship he had no fucking clue.

Kagome watched with no amount of dismay as he began to curl into himself. Turning into the tree to better shield his exposed torso and partial arm from her gaze.

Oh god dammit. How had he jumped from horny as hell to 'I'm alone in the universe and no one loves me'?! She hadn't even done anything. Not really. And yeah she wanted to cool him down but not like this. This was a train wreck of misunderstanding and insecurity. Probably smelled her own embarrassment and assumed she thought he was gross. Which he wasn't. She could honestly stare at that six pack for days and never get tired. And don't even get her started about his eyes. Young and naive she might be but she sure as hell wasn't blind.

They should've just both agreed to be naked or she should've just let him bathe on his own. Would've been so much easier.

Still...what was done was done.

Sighing softly, she worried about her lip for a second before making a decision. Probably a stupid decision given what he'd thought but this was Inuyasha after all. She'd do anything to make him confident like he used to be.

Trying to stamp down her own nerves, Kagome came closer and he flinched when one hand touched his shoulder.

"Look at me," she whispered and with a shaky sigh he did. Amber eyes swirled with resignation and heartbreak as her hand moved to cup his cheek.

"I love you. You know that, right?" she hummed and the forced smile he gave her as he nodded damn near broke her heart. He was obviously trying so hard to keep his composure and was failing miserably.

Biting her lip for a moment, Kagome let out a shaky sigh before kissing his cheek - brushing against it lightly causing shivers to run down his spine. Keeping him in place, her mouth gently traced his jaw as her thumb gently traced his lips to see whether he'd pull away. When his lips parted and a shaky breath escaped, she took that as her sign.

The kiss was gentle - maddeningly so and it wasn't long before he reached up and desperately deepened this token of affection. This was a good sign. Not the sign he was hoping for but definitely a good sign. She wouldn't be kissing him like this if she thought he was disgusting, right?

A soft whimper escaped him as her free hand began gently caressing his chest and he turned his body to give her better access. The feeling of her fingertips against his skin was heavenly. Before whenever she'd touched his bare chest it was a means to an end. To treat wounds or something of that nature. This was something else entirely. Her oh so talented fingers sent wild tremors along his nerves, evoking from him sensations he had never known he was capable of feeling.

He almost wanted to cry when she pulled back.

"If you need help, just ask, okay?" she murmured affectionately and he sighed in a mix of frustration and relief. Stupid woman getting him all worked up for no reason. That was just mean.

"I can think of a few things you could do," he replied cryptically with a small pout and Kagome giggled and shook her head.

"I'm sure," she laughed softly before nuzzling his nose, "But not yet, okay?"

His pout deepened but he accepted her reply even though he still thought kissing him like that then leaving him hanging was kinda cruel. But that response gave him some hope though. And just enough confidence to take a chance. She had said not yet.

"Can I ask you something?" he breathed shakily as he tucked a few loose hairs behind her ear and she nodded.

"If I asked you to live with me, would you?"

Amber eyes seemed to be drinking in her every reaction to his softly spoken question. At first she seemed slight confused like she didn't understand before she inhaled sharply and the answer he wanted shone in her eyes before she could ever say her answer.

"We don't hafta right now," he laughed as he leaned forward to kiss her nose, "I know there's a lot going on. Just wanted to know."

"You didn't let me answer," she accused good-naturedly and he grinned.

"You didn't need to. I know the answer," he hummed happily before leaning forward to press a chaste kiss against her lips, "I love you."

Cooing, she pressed back a little more firmly in reply and he let out a low moan.

"You either need to leave or help me bathe woman because if you keep doing that I'm not gunna be held responsible for what happens," he groaned as his fingertips trailed up and down her side to get his point across.

"Well you did say you needed help..."

xxxxxxxxx

Inuyasha sighed happily as he snuggled into Kagome's warm, oh so cuddly body. His arm was wrapped around her while his cheek rested on her chest. His leg hooked over hers as she slept soundly in his embrace. Their position was almost nostalgic in a weird way. Like he was protecting her from the world. For his own comfort, he squeezed her lightly and buried his face.

As far as he was concerned sleeping on the same futon all tangled up wasn't that big a deal. What they did in their home was their business. And it was their home. They were engaged now. Once Naraku was defeated they'd be married. He was hers and she was his.

And sure deal hasn't been sealed but the memory of her hands running over his body - if only in a mostly innocent way - was more than enough. He had needed a moment (a surprisingly quick moment) to, uh, vent his frustrations while she fetched Kilala but that ended up bringing relief in more ways than one. He sure as hell wasn't broken in that way which gave him a little more hope for the future. A future together.

It was almost beyond belief. He had a lifetime to enjoy this.

But his cuddling seemed to have accidentally woken her up.

"You okay?" Kagome yawned as she reached up to scratch the base of his ear and he hummed contentedly.

"Never better," he sighed as he rubbed his cheek against the silken material of her night shirt and pressed his body closer.

It was true after all. For the first time since the injury, he felt whole.

Chapter Text

It was very, very hard not to smack the ever-loving shit out of Shippo as he bounced rhythmically atop his hip. Not only was it annoying but his actions were setting off the shooting electrical sensation in his leg with each landing. Wincing, Inuyasha had to bite his lip to keep from reacting or showing weakness. It was damn near torture and all the poor half-demon could do to keep from flinching. Kid needed to stop and needed to stop now. Inuyasha did not want to deal with a challenge to his authority this early in the morning.

"Alpha. Alpha. Alpha. Alpha. Alpha. Alpha. Alpha," the kit muttered excitedly as he continued to hop like his life depended on it, "Morning. Morning. Morning. Morning. Morning."

It was not improving his mood at all that those little claws on those tiny toes hurt. Torso completely exposed he had nothing to protect his skin from those tiny little daggers from hell. Shoulda put his undershirt back on. Bad decision in retrospect.

"Off," Inuyasha grunted as he batted at the little boy, "Off now. Alpha mother sleeps."

As much as it pained the half-demon to admit it, he could understand why Shippo was excited Kagome had returned and why the baby was jumping on him rather than the miko. Alpha mother Kagome may be but she was still human and therefore much more fragile. The kid had always been careful with her. Even when he was officially lost of his instincts, he recognized that she was someone to be protected and for that, Inuyasha was eternally grateful.

"Sorry. Sorry. Sorry," Shippo whined as he gingerly crawled off and patted Inuyasha's hip in silent apology. Rolling his eyes at the gesture, Inuyasha glanced up at Kagome who was still somehow asleep before shaking his head.

"Alpha mother sleeps," Inuyasha sighed as he awkwardly looked over his shoulder, "Stay still. Stay quiet. Tell beta what bothers pup. Alpha mother rests."

Shippo gave him a strangely condescending and exasperated look before shaking his head and woofing quietly,"Alpha feel better, no? Alpha mother fix?"

Inhaling sharply, the much older half-demon's eyes widened in horror and shock. Oh shit. It hadn't even occurred to him what Shippo would infer from them sleeping like this. Had been the furthest thing from his mind in fact. This was a problem. A huge, gigantic problem. If he was now the alpha alpha, that made him even higher up in command. Gave the kit even more reason to challenge him and damn if the kid wasn't perfecting wearing him down. In the before times, the kit's jibes could be brushed off but now Inuyasha felt unsteady. Like he was walking a thin line between holding it together and losing it completely. And before Kagome got back, the scales had definitely been weighed down in the wrong direction. He might need to work on that. Wasn't like Kagome could be here forever. They had shit to do.

The worst part was he couldn't correct the kid. If he relinquished his position and Kagome appeared to be his mate – or intended mate anyway - in the kit's eyes, her position would be forfeited as well. Maybe. Truth be told he had no idea what would happen and that scared him more than anything.

God dammit. He never thought anything through.

"Alpha mother fix," Inuyasha replied cautiously as his mind raced to find a solution.

"Pup happy. Pup love alpha. Pup love alpha mother," Shippo cooed before crawling over him and settling down on Kagome's stomach. Inuyasha snorted softly. Yeah, sure, so much love had been showered on him these past few weeks. The kid was just kissing his ass trying to win favor. Still…maybe he could use that statement to his advantage.

"Alpha mother love her pup. Alpha love his pup," Inuyasha replied as he gently moved his good arm to cuddle the kit against him and the little fluffball cooed happily. That statement felt like the weirdest thing Inuyasha had ever done in his long, miserable life. Many things he might be but a father figure he most certainly was not. Mean old brother maybe but not a dad. Sure, he'd been taking care of the brat these past few weeks but…

Ah hell.

Inuyasha cringed at the realization that he had been acting exactly like a parent these past few weeks. That…that was not a good thing. The kit had basically been walking all over him. He'd felt overwhelmed and stressed and completely out of control. Desperately trying anything he could think of to keep the kid in line. He had no idea what he was doing whereas Kagome just came by her role naturally.

'Just digging myself deeper and deeper,' Inuyasha thought miserably as he buried his nose in the kit's hair before realizing that Kagome had woken up and was watching them.

"You guys cuddling?" she teased as she grinned down at him and a blush immediately bloomed on his cheeks as he shrugged and purposefully avoided looking at her.

"He was trying to wake you up," came his mumbled excuse.

"Well he succeeded. I'm up," Kagome yawned as she did her little stretch dance before asking the one question he was praying she didn't, "Why was he calling you my name?"

Inuyasha almost flinched. Almost. And not from the shooting pain in his leg either. It was shocking it'd taken this long for her to start asking questions anyway but he really didn't want her to get mad at him right now. She always hated when he talked bad about himself and of course, she'd misunderstand like she always did. It wasn't because he, well okay it was, but it wasn't just because of that he'd named himself beta. The kit needed to respect Kagome above all others. It was for her own protection. If he had originally been named alpha….oh Shippo's new designation for him was so not good.

"Technically it isn't your name," he admitted sheepishly, "I, uh, might have named you the alpha."

When he felt her tense and make a small noise of confusion, something occurred to Inuyasha that had his stomach dropping. There was no way a human would have the first clue about pack dynamics. He was going to have to explain to her everything from square one. Have to detail how much of an animal he'd reduced himself to and what his role in all of this truly was. And he hated having to explain shit. His least favorite thing in the world was having to explain shit. Why couldn't the damn woman just read his mind already? She was so damn close to doing it. Probably just being lazy and not trying hard enough. Still, she needed to understand.

Damn it all.

Huffing softly, he began his explanation, "So, uh, in demon packs an alpha is the…"

"I know what an alpha is Inuyasha," Kagome snorted softly as she reached up to scratch the base of his ear, "You could've just said that instead of telling me it was how my name was translated. I thought he was calling me Kagome mother."

"I didn't think it was that easy," Inuyasha breathed in relief as he settled back down and rubbed his hand passively against the kit's back.

"So… if that sound you told me to call you doesn't mean Inuyasha, what does it mean?" Kagome continued suspiciously and he sighed.

"Beta," Inuyasha admitted as he chewed the inside of his cheek, "So a beta is the…"

"Shockingly, I also know what a beta is," Kagome laughed before humming thoughtfully, "I did think it was weird how similar your name and Sango's name sounded. Is she a beta too?"

"Yeah," Inuyasha breathed in relief that she was not, in fact, getting angry, "And Miroku and Kilala are Sango's beta. That's why his name is different."

"Wait, Miroku's like not even a beta? He's Sango's beta? He's subordinate to Sango?!" Kagome snorted before devolving into full blown giggles, "Wait, wait so…so like….oh my god nooooo….have you told him this?"

"Course not," Inuyasha huffed, "And its not like it matters. It's just so…"

"So like…like Miroku is on the same tier as Kilala though? Really? Really?" Kagome gasped as tears of pure mirth began welling in the corners of her eyes, "So what does that make Shippo? Is he above Miroku? Can I tell Sango? Please let me tell Sango."

"Kagome this isn't funny. And yeah, Shippo is the alpha's son," Inuyasha explained in a tired sounding voice, "So technically he's the second highest rank but as a brat he doesn't have any standing. He will when he gets older though. And no you can't tell Sango. She'd tell the monk somehow and I'll be the one getting blamed."

"You're the one giving names," Kagome cackled as she wrapped one arm around her stomach and gasped for air, "Ah! So he's like Sango's bottom bitch!? Wait, wait so is like Kilala higher up than him? Please tell me she's higher up than him."

"This isn't funny dammit! I didn't know how else to...I didn't mean for it to be a thing! I just..."

Kagome's uncontrollable giggles finally trailed off into a happy sound sigh. For a moment, she continued to laugh a few times before she began scratching his ear.

"So now you're the alpha," Kagome tried to catch her breath – wiping away the wetness in her eyes as she grinned at him, "Because we're together. That's good, right?"

Inuyasha shook his head and her laughter officially died.

"He's going to act out more," Inuyasha groaned as he squeezed the kit lightly, "He's behaving now but that's only because you're here. And if he challenges me, which he will, then…"

"Were you not the alpha before? Was I always the alpha?" Kagome interrupted and he huffed in frustration.

"I don't follow that crap," Inuyasha groaned before furrowing his brow and frowning, "But that's not the point. If he challenges me…"

"But you understand it," Kagome pointed out and Inuyasha sighed heavily.

"That is not the god damn point!" Inuyasha snapped as he pressed his temple against her neck and nipped her lightly, "If he challenges me, it could be bad for you. Beating me might make you lose your position too."

"So would that be automatic or…like is the whole thing instinctual….or….?"

"What is your deal? It. Does. Not. Matter," Inuyasha groaned before wrinkling his nose in frustration and nipping her again in silent reprimand, "And just so you know I don't have that instinct but it seems like damn near every other demon does. Is it because I'm part human? Probably but that doesn't mean I don't know how it works. I still speak youkai and Shippo obviously follows the whole thing so…so…I know this is a problem. Me being an alpha in his mind is a problem."

"I think the fact that he's cuddling you right now means it's not going to be a problem," she opined as she leaned over and kissed his temple. Rolling his eyes at Kagome's usual complete disregard for her own safety and her infuriating need to see the good in the world, Inuyasha tried to move away before that flinch he'd been holding back broke free. Grunting softly, he tried to move his hips to lessen the painful sensation but that only seemed to make it worse.

"Does your leg hurt?" Kagome asked worriedly and he nodded.

"It'll stop," he reassured her as he gently untangled himself from their embrace and set Shippo down on the floor, "Just…just need to move a little is all."

"Do you need help?"

"No, no I've got it," he grunted as he reached up and grabbed one of the numerous bars that lined the hut wall. Swallowing thickly, Inuyasha tried to ignore the feeling of utter humiliation as he staggered and winced when putting pressure on his throbbing leg made the pain that much worse. Letting out a shaky breath, he began trying to stagger towards his cane before he heard Kagome get up and felt her warm hands against his stomach.

"Would it kill you to ask for help every once in a while?" she teased lightly before letting out a bemused sigh, "I swear I think I've yelled that to the wind so many times. You're so stubborn."

Rolling his eyes, Inuyasha accepted his fate and allowed her to help him before the tiny little crazy nut demon bounded over to the cane himself and lifted it over his head.

"Pup help alpha. Pup good," Shippo chirped as he grinned eerily up at him and help up the cane a little higher, "Pup good pup alpha mother."

"Kiss ass," Inuyasha groaned as Kagome accepted the cane, "You know he's only doing this because you're here. If it was only me, he'd probably run away and hide the damn thing. Been challenging me right and left. Treating me like dirt. Probably would have killed me if..."

"No. No. Pup playPlay. Went too far. Pup help now. Pup fix. Pup good," Shippo corrected, "Pup fix like alpha mother."

Both Inuyasha and Kagome froze and stared bug eyed down at the tiny demon who merely looked frightened by their reaction.

"Pup good!" Shippo pleased as he slowly moved to lay flat on the ground as he added with a soft whine, "Pup fix. No disrespect. Pup obey."

"I'm not crazy, right? He had to understand what I was saying," Inuyasha whispered as he cast Kagome a worried side eyed glance and she nodded slowly.

"He was really scared when he found me," Kagome hummed, "I think...I mean you guys always fought and teased each other but you never meant it."

"Did sometimes," Inuyasha sighed heavily before rolling his eyes, "So what? He felt bad because I was crying?"

"Did you say anything to him? Like tell him to leave or..."

Playing over the previous day, Inuyasha sighed heavily and winced.

"I named myself an omega," Inuyasha admitted, "The..."

"Bottom rung," Kagome finished disapprovingly, "Because you were having a pity party."

"Pup sorry," Shippo whined as he rolled over to expose his belly and sniffled, "Pup sorry."

"Fuck," Inuyasha groaned, "Probably thought it was his fault. But again, he's only doing this because of you. He's been calling me names and challenging me constantly. Now you show up and..."

"Stupid."

Whatever Inuyasha was going to say was stolen as he did a very good imitation of a fish out of water. His leg throbbing painfully in time with his racing heartbeat.

"Stupid," Shippo repeated as he glared up at his half-demon guardian, "Pup..."

The kit crinkled his nose and huffed as he focused very hard on something.

"Pup disrespect, yes," he continued as failed to reboot, "Pup challenge. Pup...pup...protect. Alpha being..."

Whining, Shippo began rubbing furiously at his eyes.

"Alpha confused. Pup confused. Pup knows. Not knows. Yes disrespect. Not disrespect. Confused," Shippo whined again and kicked his tiny legs for emphasis,"Confused. Hurt alpha. Too far. Confused."

"Holy fucking shit he remembers," Inuyasha breathed as he cast Kagome an alarmed look that her eyes mimicked, "He's really still in there."

"Well he remembers the dynamic you two had at least," Kagome laughed in disbelief as a smile began blooming on her lips, "But yeah, he's really in there. I've just been assuming...but its just his little brain is a little scrambled. That's all."

Any positive feeling Inuyasha had whooshed out of him as he bit his lip and closed his eyes. Yeah scrambled because of him and his lack of impulse control. He had literally broken the kid.

"Pup fix. Pup good.," Shippo whined and Inuyasha nodded.

"Pup good," Inuyasha woofed hoarsely as he awkwardly lowered himself onto his knees, "Alpha loves pup. Alpha understands pup confused. Alpha forgives."

Holding his arm out, Inuyasha held his breath and waited. Thankfully he didn't have to wait long. A few seconds later and Shippo launched himself into his alpha's chest.

Chapter Text

The inevitable wasn't less shocking just because it was inevitable. Sure enough, just as she promised, who should appear but Kikyo armed to the teeth was various herbs and potions because she would. Making her reincarnation look bad was just what she lived for wasn't it?

"It is highly possible that when your spine healed it was not set correctly thus causing the symptoms you expressed to me" Kikyo sighed before she cringed - actually cringed like she felt bad - and sent Kagome an apologetic smile, "Not that it is in any way your fault. Given the circumstances I assure you I would not have done any better. It is a miracle he survived at all."

"And how do you know how bad his injuries were?" Kagome asked suspiciously and Inuyasha gave her a slightly exasperated side eyed glare.

"Word travels quickly," Kikyo replied evasively and Kagome narrowed her eyes as she scooted a little closer to her man. Hers. Not Kikyo's. Hers.

"You said you found out because you spied on Kagome," Inuyasha replied uneasily as he subtly moved towards his miko until their hips touched, "Who else is talking?"

"The wolf demon," Kikyo responded with a soft sigh, "And you cannot be surprised that Naraku approached me as well. I did not share the knowledge I possessed before you ask. I acted as though I had no knowledge of the matter."

"So Naraku knows," Inuyasha sighed heavily as he pinched the bridge of his nose, "Great. Just fucking great. "

Kikyo's eyes widened incrementally at the language but didn't comment as she continued sorting the herbs.

"Naraku did offer some insight although whether it is to be trusted or not is another matter," Kikyo continued as though it was perfectly normal for her to be helpful instead of batshit crazy and/or possibly evil.

"Like what?" Inuyasha commented before jumping slightly when Kagome suddenly placed her hand on his thigh and squeezed. Wide, disbelieving amber eyes darted to the hand up to her face and back down again. She wasn't even acting like she had done anything weird. Just sitting there watching Kikyo and looking nervous. Did she not know that was the leg he could feel? Even if that was true, did she realized how inappropriately high she was gripping? Was...was she doing it without thinking? Or on purpose because she was trying to stake her claim with Kikyo there? Not that he was complaining, per se, about the intimate gesture if it was the latter. In literally any private circumstance he'd be completely fine with it. More than fine. It was just that it was intimate. And it was a gesture reserved for private times not out in the open. And it was being done in front of a woman who may or may not be plotting to kill them both. Deciding the best course of action was to not bring attention to the ill-placed hand grazing his hip nor those fingers dangling super close to something much more controversial, Inuyasha cleared his throat and gave Kikyo a patient look.

And... of course Kikyo too had noticed the lewd gesture based on the slightly surprised expression on her face and the way her eyes were glued on the questionably placed hand. Which was completely and utterly mortifying all things considered.

God dammit.

"He...he insinuated that the demon who inflicted the injury was parasitic in nature," the undead miko breathed before shaking her head and pointing at one the of herbs, "This one is called choji. It is primarily used in incense but it has anti-parasitic properties when ingested."

Dark eyes glanced at the hand still inappropriately placed before she cleared her throat and began pointing at the next line of herbs.

"These are for inflammation but surely you're familiar with them," Kikyo paused and sighed as she gestured towards the last bundle, "These I have seen used on those who lost limbs in battle. It is called yokukansan. It may help with the pain you described."

Kagome chewed the inside of her cheek as she glanced over the various plants and tried to remember whether she'd seen any of them before. While she was getting better at identifying medicinal plants, she wasn't an expert by any means.

"I want Kaede to administer them," Kagome finally replied firmly, "Not you."

Inuyasha rolled his eyes and gave the miko a side eyed glare but if she noticed, she sure as hell didn't act like it.

"I understand your apprehension," Kikyo hummed thoughtfully, "Once I considered you both my enemy but time heals many things."

"Uh huh..." Kagome sighed as she tightened her grip on InuYasha thigh earning a choked cough and a scarlet blush, "Excuse me if I'm skeptical."

"As is your right," Kikyo replied calmly although she seemed rather amused for some reason which only got Kagome's heckles up. Inuyasha had given up on the protective role for whatever reason and in response, the little school girl from the future felt the need to take up that banner almost like a compulsion. Their roles reversed in a disturbing but strangely endearing type of way.

"Anyway," Inuyasha cleared his throat as he tried to pretend that everything happening was perfectly normal and failed miserably, "Why don't you go on ahead?"

"Inu..."

"We need to talk woman," he hissed under his breath and Kagome felt an icy chill flood her veins. Had she done something wrong? Had seeing Kikyo made him realize that he didn't...

"Very well," Kikyo hummed with a small smile as she got to her feet and gave Inuyasha a knowing look that made Kagome want to vomit, "I will bring these herbs to my sister for her inspection."

Waiting until Kikyo was out of earshot, Inuyasha huffed and shook his head. Prying Kagome's hand off his leg and holding her wrist firmly in his grasp, he shook it gently and gave her an annoyed look.

"Okay, I can't believe I have to say this but apparently it needs to be said," Inuyasha began exasperatedly, "You can't have your hand that close to my dick in public. You just can't."

Kagome's eyes widened as her face flushed a deep crimson.

"I didn't realize...I wasn't...I...I... you know that wasn't on..." she began as she wished she could curl up and die on the spot. If anything, he looked more irked as he continued.

"Second of all," he added with that same exasperated tone and Kagome winced before he dipped down and pressed a long lingering kiss against her lips. Pulling back, he smirked and nuzzled her nose, "When it's just us you are more than welcome to get that close. Closer if ya want."

All of the air whooshed out of the miko's lungs at that statement. Gaping at him openly in pure unadulterated shock, her mouth hung open as she tried to come up with a rational response. At her reaction, his mischievous grin only widened. While this wasn't something he normally would say under any circumstance, he wanted a little payback for her showing up practically naked and then acting like it wasn't a big deal. Besides, she had already agreed to be his wife. More or less anyway. Why couldn't he have a little fun and get her hot and bothered for once? Or at a minimum get her a little irritated. After all, she did look very cute mad.

"Just putting it out there," he added none too innocently before kissing her temple and reaching for his cane, "Now come on. We better get back before Shippo tries to burn the hut down."

"Inuyasha you can't just say things like that," Kagome groaned as she scrambled to her feet and he gave her a falsely innocent look.

"But Shippo might burn the hut down," he replied with mock offense before continuing in a shockingly formal tone, "Are you not concerned about Kaede's home?"

Rolling her eyes, Kagome helped him to his feet while giving him a withering glare.

"That sounds like excuse Miroku would come up with. Classic misdirection," she chided and Inuyasha laughed.

"Whatever do you mean? He too, I am sure, would be concerned about Kaede's home," Inuyasha snickered and Kagome seriously considered dropping him on his ass.

"Stop it. You're creeping me out."

For a moment, Inuyasha had to bite his lip to keep from grinning like an idiot before he sighed happily and shook his head.

"Fine but I mean I get why he talks like that," Inuyasha admitted with a shrug as they began trudging back, "It's kinda fun."

"Yeah, okay, but most of what he says is perverted so..."

"Who said that isn't fun?"

"Don't make me say it."

"You wouldn't dare."

"Ignoring," Kagome paused and gestured vaguely with her free hand at his general being, "All of what you just said. Do you..."

Kagome paused and suddenly looked unsure. Nervous even.

"Do you think we can trust her?"

Inuyasha swallowed thickly as he realized where this sudden anxiety coming from. Yes, she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt he had now picked her but the hurt and pain he'd inflicted remained like a scar on her heart. Closing his eyes, Inuyasha tried to put the brakes on their movements and swallowed the bile rising in his throat. Kagome may have said that Koga was wrong but the reason those words hurt so badly was that they were true. He had been a bastard. He didn't deserve her.

" I don't know," he murmured quietly as he gently tugged to indicate she should sit, "But it seems like we...we weren't finished talking."

The spike of dread in Kagome's scent very nearly made him vomit. Even after everything he'd said, everything they shared, on some level she expected him to break her heart. To hurt her.

"I..." he began shakily, "I know you said Koga was wrong but...but he wasn't. A lot of what he said was true. I didn't treat you right when we were just friends. Really just ever. I called you names and...and other stuff. Made you cry a lot. And I should'nt've. I don't know why I did those things. And I'm sorry."

The new wave of heartbreak and pity and anger assaulted his nose and very seriously almost did him in.

"Why are you bringing this..."

"Just listen, okay? I need to say this," he interrupted quietly as he tried to figure out how to phrase what he wanted to say, "You've been the most important thing to me for a long time. Way before I even realized myself. Like that when...when I thought I was going to die, I... I was scared. Not of dying. Not really. But of what it meant."

Sighing heavily, he averted his face and bit his lip before continuing . He couldn't even bring himself to look at her anymore. That sickening scent made him feel like he was drowning.

"I wanted you there," Inuyasha tried before groaning and shaking his head, "Obviously not there to die with me. Or get hurt. But...I..."

Inuyasha groaned softly again and cleared his throat like this was an extremely difficult thing to admit which annoyed him to no end. It sounded like he was having a difficult time admitting he cared about her but in reality, he was still having a difficult time admitting weakness. Yes, he was missing an arm and for all intents and purposes a leg too. His pride was long since shot to hell and he'd told basically everyone he had given up but...but old habits die hard. That and he really didn't want her to pity him more than she already was. If she only stayed with him out of pity, it would kill him inside more than the injury ever did.

"I always thought there'd be more time to figure this out, ya know?" he ground out, "I was never sure. N-not that it was your fault or anything you did. That was on me. I just didn't..."

Oh god he was floundering here. Making a god damn fool of himself and unable to make a cohesive sentence that didn't dig himself a hole. Huffing again, he glanced at Kagome who seemed to be waiting patiently like she completely understood why this was difficult for him. Which only served to make him feel more disgusted with himself.

"Ah hell, I mean, you just gotta understand," he added a little dejectedly as he began shifting uncomfortably, "Even my mother didn't act like you do. You cry for me. Not because you pity me or...or you feel guilty or are afraid of me. Because you...you... you're scared for me? You..."

Cringing, Inuyasha shook his head and left the thought incomplete for lack of words.

"Just no one has ever treated me the way you have, alright?" he amended, " You don't have any expectations and you don't got a reason to be nice to me. You just are."

Something Koga said occurred to him and his eyes widened as he finally understood. A light bulb going off in his mind that had been flickering but suddenly found a consistent current to power it.

"Because your love is unconditional," he breathed like this was news to him and Kagome nodded slowly. The way he seemed like he was having some sort of epiphany disturbed her. And raised some questions she wasn't sure she wanted to ask.

"But surely your mother..."

Inuyasha slowly shook his head as he continued to look like he'd made a discovery that rocked the very foundation of his world but didn't expand on why he disagreed. This failure to readily agree his mother loved him unconditionally bothered Kagome. It bothered Kagome immensely.

"Your love is unconditional," he repeated once more in disbelief before he visibly deflated.

"Fuck, that just makes it so much worse," he groaned, "I treated you like dirt and don't even try to argue that I didn't. I can't even say you were the one I wanted all along and I know I made that obvious but that wasn't because I didn't care, okay? I just...I couldn't let go of the familiar and... ...fuck that isn't true, I don't know why I said that..."

The last sentence was obviously to himself than her and he rolled his eyes before plowing ahead while Kagome merely waited patiently for this train-wreck to end.

"I just want you to know that I do love you, okay? And not just because I'm brokenOr because I 'm settling for you. Or for any stupid reason you come up with. I love you. Even when...even though I didn't act like it. I know I made you feel second best, and didn't...I'm trying to say I'm sorry for...for not choosing you sooner?" he tried miserably as he cast her another glance before quickly averting his eyes, "I mean, you know I'm selfish. Even when I was dying I was selfish and I wanted to hear you say it was going to be okay even if it wasn't true and hold me like you did after the spiderheads and just be there. Because if I was gunna die, I didn't want to die alone, ya know? And yeah, I knew that'd probably hurt you but..."

Running his hand through his hand, he looked like he was about to lose his mind or start crying again as he began mumbling barely above a whisper, "Oh just fuck me. Why did I say that?"

"Inuyasha I know what you mean," Kagome reassured him as she gently reached up to cup his chin and forced him to face her. The unparalleled look of resignation and defeat in his eyes disturbed her but she tried to maintain an understanding facade.

"Yes, it hurt when you went to her and I punished you for it but honestly that was probably wrong of me," she admitted softly as she brushed some of his hair away from his shocked somewhat horrified face, "You planned on marrying her. You loved her. She was straight up murdered and brought back from the dead in a super messed up way. And what? You had only known me a month at that point? Less even? It was perfectly natural that you hoped it could work out with her. You realized that what happened wasn't her fault, that it was a set up and forgave her instantly because you are an extremely loyal, forgiving and loving man despite you trying to pretend like you're not. Naraku made sure what happened was incredibly traumatic and instead of being understanding I acted like you were doing it to hurt me. I made it personal and it just wasn't."

Inuyasha let out a shuddering breath as his look of defeat increased exponentially.

"It took time to move on which considering the circumstances makes perfect sense," she continued softly before leaning forward and pressing a kiss to his temple, "So I'm sorry for making you feel like you did something wrong on that front. That was wrong of me. Don't feel like you need to apologize for that. We both need to leave the past in the past and just focus on the here and now. I love you. You love me. That's all that matters from this point forward, okay?"

Inuyasha let out a shuddering breath as he yanked her into a very awkward embrace and buried his nose into her hair. Naturally, she returned the favor and for a moment they just sat there before Kagome pulled back and frowned.

"Now that being said, I'm worried. Especially after she said she met with Naraku," she began awkwardly as she gave him an apologetic grimace , "I want you to be careful. Don't go off alone with her. Especially don't leave Shippo alone with her."

"You can say you don't trust her. I don't either" Inuyasha chuckled darkly as he glanced towards the village, "To be honest, I was half thinking she somehow poisoned those herbs. I couldn't place their scent but they smelled familiar somehow."

"You don't have to take them if you don't want," Kagome hummed as she got to her feet, "Or we could wait for Sango to get back. If anyone knows poison, it's her."

"I'm glad you said that and not me," Inuyasha admitted bemusedly as he gave her a relieved smile, "I don't know what Sango does but I can never smell what all she has on her then we'll be in battle and she'll pull some magic powder out of her ass. Where does it even come from? Where is she keeping it?"

"The world may never know," Kagome hummed affectionately as she helped him get to his feet. For a moment, there was a companionable silence as she began the task of trying to balance him and help him walk before he cleared his throat and offered her an adoring yet worried smile.

"For what its worth, I am sorry for hurting you. I'll make it up to you even if it takes me forever," he offered hesitantly and she merely gave him a playfully exasperated look.

"I forgive you for whatever you want to apologize for, I guess, if that will make it easier for us to move forward with a clean slate" Kagome sighed before leaning over to kiss his cheek, "Don't let whatever Koga said get you down. You're a good man, Inuyasha. Never let anyone tell you otherwise."

Chapter Text

Was it normal to feel like you were melting? Not in a 'oh god I'm disintegrating after being doused with acid' type of way but more a...well...just...hell he never was good with words. It wasn't happiness per seMore warm? No, that didn't make sense. Like it was in his gut but not like he was gunna vomit or anything. It just felt like…just...dammit...

Laughing softly at his own inner struggles to describe how he felt in this moment, Inuyasha settled for just enjoying the new, strange sensation. Maybe it was brought about because he suddenly understood that Kagome's love was unconditional. Not I'm obligated to do this or a give and take situation but literally unconditional. Which raised a very concerning issue. General feeling of wanting to melt into a puddle of goo aside, there was still that twinge of fear, a smidge of guilt and doubt as he tried to determine whether he loved her unconditionally. He did love her. That wasn't the problem. It was more….how did you knowif your love was unconditional? What did that feel like? Was it about the imposition of conditions or was it...was it being comfortable around that person or...or was it that person could literally reach in and rip your still beating heart out and you'd still love them? If it was any of those, that was a huge problem. Kagome hit the nail on the head when she said he forgave Kikyo instantly. He had no expectations from her. None. Not even that she was supposed to love him back or that she'd forgive him in return. All he cared about was her. His own well-being meant nothing.

And while he was thinking about the topic of instant forgiveness, Mother elected to voluntarily leave him to the world's scorn and derision but if she came back, he'd still lick the ground she walked on like he did in life. Just look at how he was when he thought Sesshomaru had brought him back! He even tried to tell her that his life hadn't been so bad. Life had been bad, okay? It had royally sucked. And yet he defaulted back to how he'd always been around her. A sad, pathetic 'your shit doesn't stink' worship the ground you walk on type of way. Mother could do no wrong despite the mountain of wrongness she'd dumped on him. If that wasn't 'unconditional' he didn't know what was. Also now that he was thinking about it, him loving people the way he has in the past was pathetically sad. Unconditional love was...well it wasn't great.

Which just made Kagome loving him unconditionally very questionable and almost made him want to puke. He knew the way Kikyo and Mother 'loved' him hurt and he fucking loved them anyway. Like a dog that keeps coming back after someone beat him because they were all that mattered and he knew...he knew it probably wasn't right. On some level anyway.

He really needed to put in some extra effort with Kagome. Make sure it wasn't her one day looking back going what the hell was she thinking loving someone who treated them like they were worthless but still loving them and feeling bad for...for even...

Anyway….the last two times he loved someone pretty well fit the definition of 'unconditional'. There were absolutely no expectations. None. He loved them no matter what they did or did not do. With Kagome...

With Kagome, he expected things. He expected her to defend him when people called him names. He expected her to do nice things like touch him and patch up his wounds and hold his hand and comfort him. He expected that she would do all sorts of things. Not betray him. Not break his trust. Bring him ramen. Give him kisses. Worry about him. Damn it all he expected her to stay with him! But she had no expectations because her love was unconditional. Did that mean his love wasn't unconditional? That he'd leave her behind? No he wouldn't do that but...but was it bad his love for her was different? Was he failing her in some way?

Was his love for her selfish?

"So...closer, huh?" Kagome hummed casually - interrupting his inner struggles as they slowly made their way across the path in between the rice paddies.

Even as a grateful sigh at this distraction left his lips, a faint blush grew on Inuyasha's cheeks. They were far too close to the village and she knew it. As affectionate as he was away from prying eyes, a part of him was still paranoid that they'd be on the receiving end of a mob if he touched her more than was necessary in public. In fact, he tried to limit any and all physical contact to that which was necessary to move around. And now she was purposefully flaunting what he said. Tagging him back in a playful, good natured way for his comments.

"So how close are we talking here?" she teased a little louder than she normally would as they passed by a few of the village men who raised their hands in greeting before going about their work.

"Kagome, what are you doing?" Inuyasha groaned softly as his blush deepened and his eyes darted anxiously at the random villagers nearby.

"Just asking questions," she replied in a falsely innocent tone that had him rolling his eyes, "Like how close is too close? Is there a limit?"

"Well I could show you later if you're really that interested," he replied barely above a whisper as he gave her a chidingly playful smirk.

"Can you now?" Kagome teased and Inuyasha sighed heavily. Sometimes he almost wished she still acted like anything sexual burned her ears. Almost but not really at all. It was thrilling to know someone wanted him. Really wanted him. Getting hot and bothered was an adrenaline rush unlike any he'd ever known. And while the end game wasn't in the foreseeable future, current innuendos aside, it was somewhat of a relief to know that she'd be into it when the time came. A part of him expected he'd have to coax her into doing anything. Especially before they were wed. Sure, he knew people did all sorts of stuff before they made things official. Humans might not be able to smell it but there were a lot of marriages that happened after the woman was already bred and pretty far along. Magically five or six months later (sometimes even less) there was a baby and no one seemed to bat an eyelash. Well, okay, not that they would've gossiped to him - the stranger watching their lives from a distance out of boredom - but that didn't mean...

What was he talking about? Oh yeah. The fact that Kagome seemed to be flagrantly discussing touching him. Not in general. Touching him there. Which confused him endlessly because she'd said she wasn't ready to complete the act yet. That was yesterday though and today was today. Was she trying to say she was interested in doing something? Presented with that imminent possibility he couldn't help but feel rather excited while also completely terrified. God he wished he had never chased after that stupid demon. What if he just ended up humiliating himself? While that piece of his anatomy worked the rest of him didn't.

Still, Kagome was probably just tagging him back for purposefully embarrassing her. But he had noticed that Kagome had been a little more...suggestive since the hot spring incident. Maybe due to the fact they were now engaged or maybe because she'd been repressed or something but in any case, this whole mildly bad girl thing she had going on only served to make his blood boil that much hotter.

"Woman you're playing with fire," he finally groaned as they finally entered the village, "Don't get mad at me if you get burned later."

Kagome gave him a strange somewhat amused look before changing course towards Kaede's hut, "Burned you say. Well, that could be interesting."

Turning beet red, Inuyasha literally choked on himself right on cue for Kikyo to exit the hut while casting another knowing look.

"My sister is inspecting the herbs as we speak," Kikyo offered kindly making Kagome's playful mood instantly vanish, "Would it be too forward to discuss your symptoms in a more private location? I believe your wife especially may have some insight that will be useful in determining what options may be available and further, to avoid the perception of impropriety, should an inspection be necessary."

There was so much going on with the words coming out of her mouth that Inuyasha's mind literally went offline. Kagome, however, while similarly shaken was the first to react.

"We're not leaving the village," Kagome challenged and Kikyo nodded with a smile. Like she was actually trying to be nice. The miko from the future narrowed her eyes suspiciously as her prior incarnation replied.

"I would not have you do so," Kikyo hummed in a clear attempt to appease before gesturing at the hut next on the border of the village, "My sister informs me you have a home. Perhaps we can continue this discussion there?"

"Kits there," Inuyasha breathed as he continued to look like he just got hit square in the face with a baseball bat without warning, "He won't want you near the den."

Kagome cast him a concerned glance before turning her attention back to Kikyo. Was this frigid undead bitch doing something to him? He looked so out of it.

"Perhaps the shrine then," Kikyo offered with a conciliatory smile and Kagome's nodded curtly.

"We'll meet you there in a second, okay?" she huffed as she cast another worried glance at the hanyou who did look like he was recovering slightly. Why did he look so dazed? Was he getting sick? Oh just watch him get sick. That would just be the cherry on top now wouldn't it?

Waiting until Kikyo was out of earshot and half way up the stairs, Kagome let out a shaky sigh before turning her attention to the zoned out half-demon.

"Do you need to sit down?" she whispered nervously and he shook his head.

"No, I'm fine," he laughed softly as he gave her a reassuring smile.

"Well something was wrong," she countered as she narrowed her eyes in suspicion.

"Just her coming out with it," he sighed with a shrug, "You know, saying you were my wife. Acting like you were my wife."

"Yes, and?" Kagome hummed as she worried about her lip.

"And I guess it felt weird," Inuyasha sighed as he shook his head before giving her a warm smirk, "I'll just have to get used to it."

"Well technically we're engaged not married," Kagome pointed out as she grinned up at him and he shrugged.

"Well I'm gunna start referring to you as my wife," he teased softly, "I like the ring of it. Lady Kagome, miko of legend, finder of shards, wife of the Son of InuNoTaisho."

"Oh so I have a title now?" Kagome laughed softly and Inuyasha nodded.

"I mean technically I am a lord so..."

"So are you going to use that entire..."

"Are ye or are ye not meeting my sister?" Kaede voice cut him making both of them jump and stare at her like a deer in the headlights.

"Yeah," Inuyasha sighed heavily before blushing slightly and glancing around at the handful of villagers nearby - some of which had obviously been watching and had a strange, amused look on their faces.

"Ye need not be worried," Kaede chided gently, "Everyone knows child. How could they not when ye both share a hut? No one bears ye any ill will. Yet."

Kagome and Inuysha immediately focused on very different things.

"We didn't do..." Kagome began before Inuyasha cut her off.

"What do you mean yet?" Inuyasha replied as a knot formed in his stomach.

"The headman is expecting ye both later this afternoon," Kaede commented casually, "So be quick when meeting my sister lest you be a half-wit."

Yeah, that definitely had a double meaning to it, Inuyasha thought even as his heart pounded in his chest.

"So...guess we're getting married then," Kagome laughed softly before shaking her head, "It's not that..."

"No, no I know," Inuyasha reassured her as he glanced around at the few villagers still watching with that same accepting and weirdly affectionate look, "In name only. For now."

"Well then you'll need to repeat that title for me because I'm not going to lie I only remember wife of the Son of InuNoTasho."

"That's good enough," Inuyasha hummed before deciding to hell with it and leaning over to kiss her forehead, "Let's go see if this bitch kills us and then I guess we'll go from there."

"She wouldn't do that in the village, would she?"

"Your guess is as good as mine."

Chapter Text

Happiness flowed through him as he leaned against a hut while Kagome discussed something or another with Kaede. Probably about Kikyo but honestly he did not care in the slightest about being left out. In fact, he insisted on it. Wasn't like he wouldn't hear it from where he was anyway. He just wanted to take it all in for a moment. Instead of his customary scowl, a grin had exploded on his face like all the force and intensity of an atomic blast. Every muscle in his face ached at the foreign expression - one he had never worn before in his life. He had a wife. Not just any wife. Kagome was his wife. Or would be in a few short hours anyway. Never would he have to fear anything ever again because he'd never be alone. If getting his body smashed to hell wad what it took to get him to this point, it was a small price to pay. This was the most amazing thing that had ever happened to him.

He, the bitter hot-headed half-breed who should've been drowned at birth, had a wife. Not just any wife. A time traveling, intelligent, fiery, gorgeous wife who for god knows what reason loved him right back.

A soft snicker escaped him as his grin grew impossibly wider. This was the best fucking moment of his life to date. It hadn't really hit him until now. The most beautiful realization.

He had a fucking wife.

Best day ever. Never, never would he have thought it would mean so much to him. If he had known it would be this wonderful he would've done something ages ago.

When Kagome began walking back towards him, for the first time in his life he felt giddy. Stupid even. That beautiful, wonderful creature was his wife. Being so excited about this was quite possibly the dumbest thing ever and he loved every second of it.

"You alright?" Kagome laughed softly and he nodded with that same stupid grin.

"You're my wife," he damn near giggled and Kagome stared at him like he'd just grown a second head.

"I guess in a few hours that will be true..." she finally snorted with a roll of the eyes, "And you'll be my husband..."

"I am your husband."

"Okay, fine, you're my husband now..."

"You bet your sweet ass I am," he breathed happily like the love drunk idiot he was.

"You need to calm down mister," another snort escaped as she took in his almost euphoric, almost high expression, "We still have to go see Kikyo. We can talk about this later."

"Do we have to see her though? Can't we just skip that part?" he asked playfully and Kagome rolled her eyes.

"Yeah, we probably need to."

"I mean...can't she wait? I want it in writing you're mine."

"You're so stupid," she chided gently as she moved to help him stand straight, "It's just words. I've always been yours. Having it in writing won't change that."

"Ah but then it'd be official."

"Inuyasha..."

"You're my wife and there's nothing you can do about it," he slurred as he kissed her cheek and snickered, "I have a wife. Look at me."

Wait, what? Did...did Inuyasha just say...no, that couldn't be right. Never, never would he talk like this. Like a child or...something. And the way he was all over the place. He was acting...acting like...

Kagome gaped openly for a moment as her mind finally realized what was happening. There was no mistaking the way his eyes were partially glazed over or the way he looked high as hell or extremely intoxicated. In fact, she would've been sure that was the case if it was, in fact, anyone else. What on earth was happening?

"Are you okay?" Kagome chuckled nervously and he merely grinned wider.

"You're short, do you know that?"

Okay, well that was random. She was aware of how short she was and he didn't have much room to talk truth be told. He wasn't tall either. A full head shorter than Koga and don't even get her started on how much shorter he was than Sesshomaru. But he'd said it in the most adoring tone she had ever heard leave him lips so she knew it wasn't an insult. That didn't make it less disturbing though.

"I do know that. Thanks."

"You fit though," he commented with a thoughtful hum, "Just under my chin so that works out."

"Right..."

"That means you're the best wife," he informed her like that somehow settled any doubt on the matter, "Yup, best wife."

Oh, he was tripping balls on something alright.

Kagome had wisely decided at this point that heading up a bunch of stairs to meet with a woman they didn't trust was a bad idea. There was something wrong with him - whether, ahem, Kikyo inflicted or something else entirely.

"Inuyasha? You would've have happened to eat or drink something you shouldn't, huh?"

Giving her a strange look, his whole body sagged before he looked down at his arm, pouted and a very un-Inuyasha like giggle escaped him.

" I have one arm. Isn't that weird?," he paused and then fricking waved it, "Like its a little bitty knub. Itty bitty."

If this wasn't so terrifying, it would've been funny.

"Okay you need to stop. Are you drunk? Because you're acting like you're drunk."

For a movement, he looked somewhat concerned and seemed to calm down some before he snorted softly and grinned at her in a very drunken manner.

"You're so mad," he opined before he started snickering like a crazy person.

"Okay...so we're going to, uh, restnow," Kagome silently thanked everything holy she'd avoided using the word as she gently began lowering him to the ground before realizing he was not going to go down easy.

"Don't make me say it," Kagome warned in the same tone many mothers used on their toddlers, "Come on. Down we...Inuyasha . Stop. Fighting. Me. We need to...we need to figure this out, okay?"

Something or somebody was controlling him and doing a damn good job of it too. This was worse than the trick Myoga's little girlfriend pulled. He knew who he was for starters and yet was acting like he'd just downed a line of sake bombs that hadn't fully hit his system yet. She'd estimate he had five minutes, probably less, before he passed out at the rate he was deteriorating.

"Did you know one of your eyes is smaller than the other?" Inuyasha asked playfully as he watched her pointless struggles with a somewhat dazed expression.

"Gee. Thanks. Now get down."

"I like the squinty eye best I think," he cooed before cocking his head to the side, "It gets twitchy when you're mad at me. Twitch. Twitch. Twitch."

Officially done and huffing in frustration, Kagome gripped his 'itty bitty' arm tightly - fully intending on forcing him to the ground by sheer force - before gasping and looking at her newly damp and crimson palm.

"You're bleeding," she gasped as she finally managed to push him on his butt and tenderly began probing the damp cloth that covered his bandaged arm. Amber eyes followed her gaze with a slight pout.

"You're upset," he accused as he cocked his head to the side and blinked sluggishly at her, "My wife is upset. That's not good."

"Yes your wife is upset because bleeding is not good. I need to take your top off, okay?" Kagome informed him worriedly as she quickly began removing the garment and his drunken frown turned upside down.

"Take off yours first," he snickered and concerned eyes darted up to his flushed face. What in the Sam Hill was happening here?!

"Kaede?! Can you come here a minute?" she called out with borderline hysteria and the old woman quickly began walking towards them.

"Something is wrong with him," Kagome matter of factly and Kaede hummed in agreement. It was clear that the boy's mind was...altered to put it nicely. In truth, she would not be shocked if he started drooling he looked so out of it.

"Aye it appears so," the elderly miko agreed as Inuyasha grinned up at her with obviously glazed over eyes, "Has he consumed anything?"

"No. I don't think so. I just don't understand. He was...," Kagome sighed before gasping when Inuyasha suddenly dipped forward and captured her lips. Too shocked to respond, Kagome merely waited until he pulled back a long, long moment later.

"You're so pretty. Like a circle. Ka-go-me," he sing-songed before his face suddenly went slightly slack and he looked like he might throw up, "I think...I think I'm gunna...I wanna lay down. That okay?"

Kagome nodded slowly before startling when he suddenly flopped down with a happy sigh. His eyes closing and his head lolling before he went limp.

"What...what just happened?" Kagome breathed as she looked to the elderly miko who looked just as confused as she felt.

"My sister mentioned a parasite. Maybe it is to blame," Kaede opined after a moment, "I am not well versed in such matters. Ye would do better consulting with her."

"Well go get her then," Kagome groaned as she stared at Inuyasha's chest to make sure he was still breathing. With every ounce of hope and positivity the miko could muster, she prayed that Kikyo wasn't there to kill them because there was no way Inuyasha would be able to defend himself now.

xxxxxxxxxxxx

" I believe it is reversible," Kikyo sighed as she knelt down next to him, "If it is the demon I believe it is, their prodigy affect the mind. Their victims experience a bout of euphoria and...and...

The undead miko cleared her throat as a blush that shouldn't have been possible blossomed on her cheeks.

"And arousal when the eggs hatch. Distracting their victim and allowing them to develop unchecked."

"Ew! When they hatch in his brain?! Oh my god! That's disgusting!" Kagome squealed before remembering herself when Kikyo sent her an appraising look.

"Yes..." the undead priestess replied slowly, "They feed off the host's strength until such time as the hatchlings gain higher consciousness.I wouldn't be surprised if these insects are meant to be it's replacement in the event of death."

Inhaling sharply, Kagome's eyes widened in horror.

"Like the moth demon."

The undead miko glanced between her reincarnation and her sister before realizing no one was going to expand on that statement.

"Moth demons are a variant though their methodology differs greatly," Kikyo acknowledged slowly before giving them both a look that clearly screamed 'please explain how you know that'. Kaede merely seemed to be focusing rather hard and Kagome merely looked horrified. Rolling her eyes, Kikyo decided to continue inspecting Inuyasha's motionless body for indications of further spread before one of the miko's finally came to her senses.

"So...what do we do?" Kagome finally asked breathlessly and Kikyo sighed.

"If what I remember is correct, then this variety of insect is susceptible to..."

"Heat," Kaede supplied as her eyes widened in recognition.

"Very good Kaede," Kikyo complimented proudly - relieved and convinced that must have been what her younger sister was focused upon a few moments ago, "You remember."

The elderly miko gave her sister a somewhat withering glare before nodding once.

"We'll need the stones," Kaede continued listing off the things they needed," Blankets. Those herbs ye brought. And some fresh water."

Kagome watched with disbelieving eyes as Kikyo sent her sister a grossly proud look. Like she actually was happy that this was happening. Stupid bitch probably planned on killing him with fire or something.

"And body heat," Kikyo added hesitantly as she gave Kagome a once over and asked with no lack of suspicion, "I imagine that will not be an issue."

In that moment, the girl from the future had never wanted to punch someone in the face as badly as she wanted to knock the shit out of the woman who preceded her.

"Can’t we just submerge him in a hot spring ...no that won't work we bathed yesterday..."

'Oh someone kill me now' Kagome thought miserably. Her cheeks burning as both sisters gave her a somewhat chiding, somewhat embarrassed and somewhat amused look. The resemblance between them in that moment was uncanny.

"I mean, he bathed yesterday," she amended sheepishly as she studiously looked anywhere but the two onlookers.

"So...there needs to be a lot of heat," Kagome concluded dumbly for lack of anything better to say.

"We must be cautious. The parasites have a tendency to escalate their tactics when endangered. Restraints will likely be necessary. For your protection primarily. If memory serves..."

Kikyo's words were cut off when Kagome suddenly gasped loudly and grinned.

"I could take him to my home," she breathed as a smile crossed her face, "I know something that might just work."

"I must warn you that allowing yourself alone with him would..."

"'Gome," Inuyasha's hoarse voice suddenly interrupted whatever explanation Kikyo was going to give. Three sets of eyes focused as he stared at his miko like he was seeeing god.

"Fuck you're so beautiful."

Kagome choked and her blush deepened. It didn't take a genius to recognize what that look in his eyes meant. It was obvious he was this close to jumping her. Kikyo had said arousal was a possible side effect and apparently that side effect had been, uh, triggered.

"Aye restraints will be needed."

Sighing heavily, Kagome rolled her eyes and tried again, "I really think I need to take him home. I'd like to..."

"I can think of some things I'd like to do when we get there," Inuyasha chimed in heatedly and any color in Kagome's face fled. As for the others, Kikyo had turned a strange purple and looked like she was choking while Kaede... Kaede weirdly looked amused.

"So...restraints then?"

Kikyo nodded as she stared at Inuyasha with utterly mortfied eyes. For her part, the undead miko was suddenly very, very glad the romantic aspect of their relationship was over.

"Restraints would be wise."

Chapter Text

As she had done for the past few hours, Kagome studiously studied the small orange fluff ball in her lap. At first, she'd done her best to keep Inuyasha calm but - and who would've guessed - her presence had the opposite effect. Believe it was after the third or fourth time he begged for her to touch and/or fuck him that a very flustered and purplish Kikyo had to excuse herself. Kaede too eventually left under the guise of checking on checking on her sister and it was shortly after that Miroku and Sango finally made their way into town. Upon learning what was happening, Miroku had insisted that Kagome being present was causing more problems than it would solve and he took up the mantle of plucking out the tiny little insects when they tried to escape from the hole from whence they came.

The horrific realization that the removal of his ear was how the bugs got in there in the first place was an answer that no one wanted. All present would have slept better at night not knowing that the reason he'd been having trouble hearing and healing was because there was an egg sack blocking his abilities. No one had thought to even look there until one of the bugs choose Kagome'shand to crawl onto while she had Inuyasha's head in her lap. Poked its ugly little pussy caterpillar head out of that hole his ear once covered and made a break for it. It didn't get far and shortly thereafter Kagome was retching.

And now Miroku was in there.

And everyone else was out here trying their best to ignore the uncomfortable moans.

Fortunately, Kagome had found a source of distraction during these troubled times. It was so, so hard not to laugh hysterically at the state of Kikyo's face. If Kagome had to guess, she'd wager being dead made it virtually impossible to blush but that by some unnatural process combined with the utter mortification she was feeling, her clay body had found a way to do it. Those normally pale cheeks looked bruised. Which was weird because did she even have blood? She must, huh? When they first met she had in fact bled right before she started screaming at Inuyasha about betrayal. But then for other injuries she hadn't. Maybe the magic in her created blood if an emotion was intense enough? In any case, it was hilarious.

Oh, the desire to cackle was awe inspiring and for it, Kagome felt like such a bad person. Especially since Kikyo was now holding hot stones against her cheeks in an attempt to lessen these blemishes. That and laughing would be extremely inappropriate all things considered. Still a distraction was a distraction was a...

"Erhem," the monk coughed lightly as he exited the still noisy hut to give everyone a status update, "Several of the creatures have been successfully extracted but there appears to be..."

Cringing at the soft cry of pleasure that exited the hut, Miroku cleared his throat and finished lamely, "There are more."

"Well at least he's not in pain," Kagome joked weakly and Kikyo glanced at her with wide, disbelieving eyes.

"I may speak only for myself but I would prefer silence and not knowing whether he was in pain or not," the undead miko sighed miserably as she pressed the heated stones a little more firmly against her cheeks. In the very awkward silence that followed, Kikyo looked like she seriously regretted saying anything as she amended, "Not that I would prefer him being in pain. It is just..."

"No, no we get it," Kagome reassured as she gave the undead miko a very forced smile. Miroku looked like he would rather die than go back into the hut as a whimper cut through the already uncomfortable silence.

"Would you want me to take..."

"That sounds like a wonderful idea," Miroku literally wilted in relief, "Please feel free to take over. I will wait out here."

"I just mean earlier it seemed to..."

The slightly traumatized look in the monk's eyes had Kagome biting her tongue and blushing furiously.

"It would be more appropriate for you to, uh, handle this issue, would it not?" Miroku pointed out desperately even though he and everyone present knew that they weren't officially married as of yet. It was clear what his eyes were saying that his mouth was not. The same thing everyone was thinking but no one had the balls to say.

Make. The Sounds. Stop.

We don't care how.

Literally no fucks are being given this day...

Unless a fuck was necessary to shut him up in which case go for it.

Just make it stop.

xxxxxxxxxx

Consciousness rolled over him in waves. There were a few moments of awareness. It felt like he was stuck in an oven and if it wasn't enough that he was sweating like a pig, he was going to have a serious case of blue balls. Just everything Kagome did during those short periods of time had his blood boiling hotter than normal and the worst part was that she wasn't even touching him. Which was probably a good thing. Even his muddled mind could register those needy moans and whimpers spewing out of his mouth like vomit. If she so much as poked him, he'd probably erupt on the spot. If she said his name, he'd probably erupt on the spot. Hell, if she did nothing, that'd work too. For what seemed like an eternity, he'd been so, so close to the pinnacle but unable to fall off the edge making it damn near impossible to focus on anything other than just the unending, continuous, agonizing pleasure. During those brief moments of awareness, part of him wanted to cry in frustration and beg her to do something, anything to end this torture but as soon as the words started to form, he'd be lost again.

But whatever was happening to him, whenever he was aware, she was there like she always had been and always would be. Despite the way his mind kept fading in and out, the way his body was screaming, her presence seemed to keep him from going completely insane. Something was definitely wrong but he trusted that whatever was happening, Kagome had it under control and it'd be fine. This too would pass.

But...after this was over, he was definitely going to have to show her what he meant when he said closer.

"Inuyasha, you feeling any better?" the sweetest sound in the world asked and he had to bite his lip to keep from crying out. Just her voice sent massive waves of pure, uncontrollable ecstasy through his veins. It was torture of the cruelest kind.

"Well I would if you'd actually help me," he spat back acidly - unable to think rationally or stop words from leaving his mouth, "You're so fucking useless. I'm dying here and...and..."

Another wave hit him when she sighed heavily and he very nearly started crying. This was hell. He'd take reliving the pain of being mutilated over this any day. In all honesty, he couldn't even think of anything other than the pulsing down south. The insult didn't even register.

For her part, Kagome couldn't disagree with some of what he said - although the rest of it was kinda hurtful. Technically, those stupid eggs could kill him but she had a feeling he wasn't talking about the worms.

"At least take the sutra off my hand," he pleaded hoarsely as his body writhed within the ofuda restraints, "I just...I just...I know you...I..."

It was the single tear that escaped during a particularly pathetic whimper that broke her. Glancing towards the door, Kagome tried to ignore the other's close proximity as she finally took mercy on him. With little to no warning, her fingertips began to lightly caress him through the material of his pants and his breath caught when she quickly picked up the pace.

Nothing mattered after that moment. All he could focus on was the gradually increasing pressure building in his gut. The desperate journey to cross that threshold into nirvana and then she squeezed and the greatest flood of relief ebbed and flowed through his system. The pressure building and falling rhythmically time and time again until it fled and mercifully didn't build up again. He could hear his heart still racing, his shaky attempts to catch his breath, the warmth radiating off his woman, something tugging at his hair. So many soothing sensations all at once but the most prevalent was exhaustion.

The tug by his ear grew stronger and a lazy moan escaped him as a gentle wave of pleasure soon followed.

"That feels nice," he purred as his eyelids drooped and a ghost of a smile played on his lips. Now that he wasn't in sheer agony, the waves were crushing him anymore. Just pleasant.

And then one particularly hard tug later and he quickly changed his mind about trading types of torture.

"Fuck that hurt! What the hell did you do?!" he hissed as it suddenly felt like his skull had been cracked wide open and with a utterly mortified choke, full blown awareness hit him like a sledgehammer. Inhaling sharply, amber eyes locked onto hopeful sapphire before widening in horror. All he knew from that point forward was that he was in their hut, he was smelling things he shouldn't be smelling, could hear everyone outside and had a migraine from hell. It was the smell and the sounds that had him wishing for death.

"What the fuck just happened?" he breathed as he begged his heart to stop beating. She didn't need to even say the answer for him to know. Somehow he had been injured and during the time he was injured, she'd apparently jacked him off. Which was quite possibly the worst thing that had ever happened to him. It wasn't that she'd done it but that he didn't remember her doing it. Or...or...

Oh god he didn't have a wet dream or something, did he?

Gingerly and what he hoped was subtly, he tried to move to cover what he was sure was an obvious spot before realizing that he was somehow restrained. The scent of the others, Miroku in particular, were very strong so whatever happened had happened within earshot at a minimum or in front of everyone at worst. And he'd been tied up during it which meant...had he tried to hurt Kagome?

Sighing, he knew the restraints probably weren't her idea anyway. That finishing touch had Kikyo written all over it. Kagome had other ways to making sure he didn't hurt anyone but probably went along with it because she was scared to use the sit spell and cause more damage that couldn't be undone. That or he had been touching himself and they were there to prevent it. Was it possible to die of humiliation? He hoped so.

"Are you feeling more like yourself? Did that help?" she asked as tucked a piece of hair behind her ear and look down at him. Amber eyes widened both in horror and utter disappointment. Her smile seemed to falter when he merely looked up at her like his heart was breaking.

"So, um, why don't we..."

"Cut the crap," Inuyasha sighed dejectedly as he exhaled slowly and closed his eyes, "Just tell me what the latest bullshit is. Like what...why am I here? Why am I tied down? What...what did I do? Am I missing another limb? Did I turn full demon? I can smell...I mean, did I try to...to force you and..."

"WHAT?! NO!" Kagome cried out like she was offended he even thought of that possibility and that brought him some comfort. A part of him was terrified that he'd turned and tried to...and so she'd only done it to...didn't matter. Whatever happened was consensual so that was good. He hadn't managed to fuck up the best thing that had ever happened to him in that way and for that he was eternally grateful.

The lost expression as he continued to frown and furrow his brow had Kagome guessing he woke up smelling things and freaked out.

"Before I start explaining, what's the last thing you remember?" Kagome began cautiously and he huffed in frustration.

"We were supposed to be meeting Kikyo," he tried as he furrowed his brow, "But you had to talk to Kaede about the headman so I was waiting for you."

"Okay, and then nothing after that?"

"No," he sighed dejectedly. Why was it whenever he finally felt truly happy that the world decided he needed to be punished for it? Which bastard did he kill that kept cursing him and everyone he cared about? Still, whatever had happened, it didn't seem like she was mad about it.

Maybe she...

"So...Uh...shortly after that, you, Um," Kagome began as she gently rubbed soothing circles on his exposed stomach - which offered a source of comfort as she continued, "You started acting drunk. And then, uh, were very...excited. Well then we discovered it was because of the eggs in your brain and..."

The what now?!

"No no we got them out," Kagome tried to explain as he gaped at her with abject horror, "But, um, you might need to prepare to get teased a little. You, uh, were kinda vocal when you..."

Inuyasha immediately jumped to the conclusion that he'd gotten so turned on by the EGGS IN HIS FUCKING BRAIN that he'd cum all by himself. Probably in front of god and everyone. Making all sorts of unholy noise as he did it too which made it so much worse.

Where was a murderous Naraku when you needed him?

"Oh fuck me," he groaned as he gently began rapping the back of his throbbing head, "Shit, does Kikyo want to kill me? Because I'm all for it. Let her kill me. I'm ready and willing."

"Inuyasha you're being over dramatic," Kagome chided gently as she gently scratched his scalp, "You were under a spell. No one...is going to hold this against you."

It was obvious she was going to either say judge or care and could not say that without it being a lie. Not that he could blame them.

"Know what's fucked?" Inuyasha huffed as he glared hatefully at the ceiling, "I...I..."

Had been happier than he could ever remember being. And no, not only because of the spell although that definitely played into the ridiculousness that ensued. The spell or whatever had only made what he already felt ten times stronger. A thousand times even. He was happy and given the conversation that had been taking place a few minutes before, yeah, he'd been horny but...

But he had been so hopeful too. Their first...adventure of this kind should've been amazing and intimate and...and all sorts of things. Instead, it had been painful and miserable for all parties involved. They'd probably tied him down to keep him from touching himself and this entire thing had probably lasted a good long while because his dick felt bruised and Kagome was probably disgusted and now she'd never...

But what was done was done. Just another disappointment in life.

"Whatever," he groaned as a crimson blush stained his cheeks, "So there were bugs in my head? How the fuck did they get there?"

"Yeah about that...," Kagome replied slowly - the awkwardness of whatever happened evident in her tone, "So...you remember how you lost your ear?"

Letting out a shaky breath while he held back tears, Inuyasha nodded slowly and had a feeling this was also going to be news he wouldn't like. Not that he liked the knowledge that there had been something crawling around in his head but...

"Yeah, so, um, the demon, uh, planted its babies when it, uh, took your ear, to, um..." Kagome continued and Inuyasha began feeling a heart attack coming on but tried to keep his expression neutral, "Well, um, so if she got defeated her body could regrow."

"Like the moth demon," Inuyasha replied numbly and Kagome wilted in relief.

"Yes! Thank you! Like the moth demon," Kagome huffed gratefully, "I said that to Miroku and Sango and they stared at me like I was crazy. And Kikyo acted like I was weird for knowing that so...oh but you'll never guess what happened with her. So, sorry I shouldn't laugh, but..."

Wait, what was happening? He wanted answers dammit and here...

"Just finish telling me what happened," Inuyasha huffed.

"Right, right, uh, sorry," Kagome chuckled awkwardly, "So apparently these eggs distract their, um, host by making them feel good. You know how the moth demon trapped people in nightmares? Like that except, uh...yeah...anyway, we smoked them out with heat and you were, uh, distracted so...so, and don't get mad, but you looked like it was starting to hurt so I, uh, helped."

Cracking open one eye to look at her, he tried to gauge her expression even as he continued to wish for a quick death. It wasn't upset. She looked more worried and nervous. A little embarrassed. But overall more relived whatever they'd done seemed to have saved him from - he shuddered - egg brain. It was also a relief that...

"You helped," Inuyasha tried to clarify, "I didn't...I didn't do that by myself."

"No," Kagome replied shakily as she began to rub her arm and averted her eyes, "I mean, I...you started crying and it sounded like it'd gone from feeling good to painful so...and I can't when you're in pain so..."

"You can't," Inuyasha chuckled once despite himself, "What doesn't that even mean?"

"It hurts me when you hurt," Kagome groaned, "So...and you were begging for me to help and I just..."

His heart sank. He begged her?!

"So you didn't want to do...that," he replied as his throat grew tight. Everything had been going so well. So well in fact he'd even entertained the thought that something else might have been happening tonight. Something he'd (a) remember and (b) would have been special. The first time someone else touched him besides himself would have been a treasured memory. A milestone in his life and...and now...

"I didn't say that," Kagome replied cryptically as she blushed heavily, "Just, under the circumstances, it seemed the only thing to do."

Letting out a shaky breath, Inuyasha had to bite his lip to keep it from trembling. This was quite possibly the worst day of his life.

"Hey," Kagome whispered affectionately as she reached up to cup his cheek, "Hey don't cry. It's okay."

"No it's not," he managed to rasp and just like that any confidence he'd managed to build was gone, "It's just not Kagome. I...I just...I...I...just..."

Cursing his inability to say what he wanted, he elected for silence as he rolled his head away from her.

Why was it that for every good thing that happened to him he'd be punished in kind? It was like that over and over and over and over. Things would go well and then hellfire would rain down on him. Every. Damn. Time. Managed to become pretty much Invincable in battle and then his ability to fight was stolen. Found a place to belong, got tricked and pinned to a tree. Found himself a wife and their first intimate moment was when he had eggs in his brain and he didn't even remember it! At least let him remember it dammit! The universe couldn't even give him that?!

"Whatever," he sniffled, "Just untie me. Let's get this over with."

"Get what over with?"

"I know everyone knows," he choked as a traitorous tear broke free, "Like you said I was loud and...and just...I just want to get out of here and be alone but I can't, can I? I can't even walk. And..."

He was spiraling and miserable and humiliated and heartsick and all things bad. This was just another terrible thing in a long line of terrible things that had been wearing him down and just when he started accepting this new reality, this...just fuck it. Why did this have to happen to him? Why?!

"Inu..."

"I don't want to hear it," he snapped bitterly, "I just...umph..."

Her soft lips brushed his with such tenderness and love. In moments the soft caress became more firm, he savored her lips and the quickening of her breath that matched his own. Soon enough, the meeting of their lips grew with such urgency and passion that Inuyasha would've sworn he felt a little bit of his soul leave his body. She was trying to reassure and distract him - that much was clear. And he'd admit it wasn't unwelcome. At least Kagome wasn't disgusted with him and yeah, the others might say shit but they usually followed Kagome's lead when it came to handling things. When he was out of line in her opinion, everyone agreed. When she decided to roll with what happened when he turned full demon, everyone did. When she was mad he saw Kikyo, everyone was mad. When she vouched for him, everyone believed her without question. If she accepted that he'd made awkward sounds and...other stuff because of bugs in his head, if she believed it wasn't his fault, the others would too. That and this token of affection felt like a promise of so much more to come.

But with it came a wave of exhaustion. Forcing himself to stay awake was quickly becoming a losing battle as the feeling in his body faded away. His stomach suddenly felt hollow and static clouded his mind.

"'Gome," he managed to warn her as his consciousness ebbed, "Stay..."

And then all was black.

Chapter Text

Crinkling his nose, Inuyasha groaned as his head throbbed painfully. Every sound felt like a knife being driven straight through his skull. Like the world somehow had magically gotten a thousand times louder since yesterday. On the plus side, though, he could tell he was laying flush on Kagome's chest and it was almost like she could read his thoughts as she gently pressed her palms against his ears without even...

Wait.

Ears.

Not ear.

Ears.

As in two.

Grinning, Inuyasha felt a single tear of relief slide down his cheek as a giant weight was taken off his chest. Instead of reacting more than that, though, he opted for shutting out the world in favor of memorizing every nuance, the steady beating of her heart, the tone in which she hummed affectionately upon realizing he was awake. God, he had missed the full Kagome experience. More than even he realized. In that moment, she was all the existed. The only thing that mattered. The only thing he cared about. It was strange how much he enjoyed just laying here in her embrace. He'd never thought of himself as touchy feely. Normally he hated physical contact. Having people inside his personal space bubble. But this...

This felt like something he'd craved all his life but just wasn't introspective enough to realize and if he was, he'd straight up dismissed it as impossible. Laying draped atop of her trumped even cuddling her in her sleep. This was something else entirely. Side by side was far inferior to laying atop her. His entire upper body and his hips pressed intimately atop her soft cuddly body. And yeah, his legs were technically straddling only one of hers and the position was slightly awkward but he was not going to complain about that. Now that he knew this position existed, he'd crave it every day of his life.

And yet he needed to be sure it was alright. That he wasn't imagining things.

"Is it back?" he whispered before flinching when even the sound of his own voice hurt and the warmth of Kagome's hands pressed a little more firmly against his scalp.

"Yeah, your ear grew back while you were sleeping," she whispered softly, "But don't worry about that right now. It's still early. Why don't you go back to sleep, hn?"

"Any...oh fuck me...anything...anything else back?" he tried somewhat hopefully - groaning and cringing when the sound reverberated painfully in his skull.

"The gashes on your arm healed," she relied softer still, "I think a few of your toes are growing back too but I'm not sure. They look a little different."

Experimentally flexing his remaining toes, Inuyasha's hope that his leg would magically be fixed was dashed when a sharp pain shot down his useless leg like nothing had changed. That being said, there did seem to be more toe in the ones he could feel than there had been previously. Which was good. One less thing.

"Stupid demon. Planting eggs in my head and shit," he muttered as softly as he could and to his utter relief that time no pain followed. He felt Kagome nod. It was nice being tucked under her chin. To be draped across her chest like a rag doll and just absorb her body heat. If he didn't think he'd suffocate her, he'd want to sleep like this more often. She was so squishy and cuddly and warm. Just the feel of it made him never want to move.

"Do you want something for your headache?" she asked tentatively and he sighed. That would require him moving which was the last thing he wanted to do but herbs might ease this migraine from hell. Decisions. Decisions.

Yeah, easiest decision of his life. That was for damn sure.

Sagging against her fully, he shook his head. If he had his way, they'd be like this for the rest of eternity and no amount of pain justified losing this position. Besides, tolerating pain was his greatest super power. He could manage.

Her talented fingers traced his ears and he shivered. Oh yes. He could definitely manage. The sensation as she continued to fondle them on just the right way set off a thousand different impulses. He wanted to kiss her, hold her, fuck her, protect her, lay here forever, do nothing, cry, laugh, and weirdly bite her. That last impulse was particularly strong and as subtle as he could, he adjusted himself so he could gently graze her neck with his fangs. She didn't pull away and actually moaned so softly even his overactive hearing almost missed it. A part of him wondered if he died. The feeling of utter bliss that blossomed at the sound was too holy, too sacred, too perfect. Nothing in this world could ever feel so good. But if this was hell he was fine with that. There were worse types of torture.

"It grew back a different color," she laughed softly as she traced his newly formed ear, "Your ear I mean. Kinda brownish but a good brown. Not like...mud or anything but..."

"I don't give a shit," he breathed shakily, "Could be green for all I care."

"If it was green I'd insist on a matching stripe in your hair," she teased, "All the hair dye. Maybe we could even match. I'd figure out how to do it."

Laughing softly, he rolled his eyes and rested his cheek just over her heart.

"Weird that it's brown. Even when I'm human my hair is black. Where'd that come from?" he opined barely above a whisper as he tried to ignore the pounding in his skull.

"Who knows. I like it though," she replied just as quietly as she scratched the base of the ear in question. For a moment they were quiet before he asked the question that was now at the forefront of his mind.

"You think," his breathing hitched as she hit a particularly sensitive bundle of nerves and he had to take a moment to calm his ass back down, "Do you think my arm will...will grow back too?"

"I don't think so," she admitted tentatively, "Sesshomaru's arm didn't when it was cut off."

Inuyasha sighed in disappointment.

"But I mean, my ear did grow back. It shouldn't've but it did," he tried to argue, "Maybe my arm will too."

"Maybe. We'll see," Kagome hummed before leaning down and pressing a kiss against his forehead, "You're still cute either way."

"I'm not cute," he snorted before flinching and cursing himself for making any sound whatsoever.

"Oh yes you're very cute," she whispered as she gave his forehead another quick peck, "Adorable even."

"Shut up," he groaned so quietly she almost missed it, "Don't go around saying I'm cute. People'll get the wrong idea."

"Since when do you care what people think?" she teased and he lifted his head just enough to give her a skeptical glare before plopping back down.

"Whatever," he sighed as he adjusted his body into a more comfortable position which shockingly was possible.

"It's true though," she hummed as she continued fondling his ear, "You're awfully cute."

"I guess," he sighed lazily before he remembered what Koga has said about his behavior in the past. Plucking up his courage, he added, "You're awful cute yourself."

"Thank you," Kagome laughed softly.

"I love you," he breathed against her skin as a ghost of a smile played on his lips, "You know that right?"

"I know," she laughed softly, "I love you too."

Inhaling deeply, he snuggled deeper into her warm body and smiled before furrowing his brow. Was this what unconditional love felt like?

"Kagome?"

She hummed to indicate she as listening.

"Is it bad that I expect things from you?" he asked shakily, "Not...not like I own you or anything just..."

He groaned softly for lack of words and opted to graze his fangs against her neck instead. A moment later he was nibbling with the lightest of pressure as his stomach began to churn. The action was oddly reassuring. It was such a strangely soothing action that he was sure was going to become a habit.

"What do you expect from me?" she asked curiously and he sighed before nipping gently at her jaw and settling back down. Strange thing was this use of teeth worked to calm him down somehow. Putting just enough pressure to not break the skin as he lightly drug those sharp implements across her jugular reassuring in ways words never could be. Most people, hell most animals, would've been afraid he'd kill them. Just bite down and let them bleed to death. But not her. She seemed to understand he needed this. Besides, she knew he'd never, never hurt her if he could help it. And if he couldn't? He'd torture himself for days, weeks, maybe even months. Maybe that's what was soothing about it?

"It's...its just...like I expect you to..." he sighed before latching on again. Taking a calming breath through his nose, he pulled back and buried his nose in the nape of her neck, "Just like now. I expect you to...to not be afraid. Be there for me when I need you. Not to leave and to reassure me when I'm weak or hurt. To be nice to me and...and love me."

That last part was almost hesitant. Like he fully expected her to deny it. Kagome, for her part, was still taken aback by this new version of Inuyasha. With how open and brutally honest he was since the injury. How he constantly sought reassurance and seemed to be relying so heavily on her after he had proclaimed since she met him that he didn't need anyone. He needed her and was no longer afraid to say it. Well that wasn't quite true. He'd said as much on more than one occasion. The thought made her smile. How could she have been so blind? He'd loved her even back then. Put down his guard and admitted weakness to her. Only her. He'd just gotten more bold of late and there was nothing wrong with a little confidence.

"Inuyasha," she laughed softly, "Those are completely normal things to expect. Why would you think that's bad?"

He shrugged and continued nibbling on her neck like the coping mechanism it was. This behavior was new but it didn't hurt and was adorable truth me told although it did remind her of a dog with a chew toy. A soft moan escaped her again and she subtly bared her neck to give him better access. It felt nice actually. More than nice even.

"Your love is unconditional. You don't expect things," he admitted shakily before pressing his lips against the slightly irritated flesh, "I...I..."

He whined softly and buried his face. Why did the sound of his voice have to hurt? That was some bullshit if you asked him.

"I just don't want to fuck this up," he plowed ahead despite the metaphorical knife in his head, "I was fucking up before I...just before I guess. Doesn't feel right for it to be one sided. Koga said..."

"What did I say about Koga?" Kagome huffed exasperatedly as she reached up to fondle his ear once more, "He was just trying to mess with your head Inuyasha. That's all it was."

"He said his love was unconditional," Inuyasha sighed, "And your love is unconditional. Selfless."

"Fine. You want to go there. Fine," she hissed, "Let's count down the ways you've been selfless, huh? One, you nearly died protecting me every other day. Two, you don't expect anything from anyone. If you do, you expect the worst. For once in your life, you expect nice things but you know me. You know I'm going to be nice. If I changed it up and was suddenly hating your guts, you'd know something was wrong because that's not like me. Even if we weren't in a relationship, you'd know something was wrong. Three, I do expect things from you because I trust you and I know how you are. I expect that you aren't going to go from save Kagome mode to kill Kagome mode without cause. And even then, its not because you want to do it. 99.9999 percent of the time that's out of your control."

Rolling his eyes, Inuyasha ignored the foreign concept she'd ended her little rant on. What the hell was a percent anyway? What he wanted to take away from this conversation was...

"You expect you can trust me? That'll I've save you?" he asked in a somewhat hopeful tone that signaled his desperate need for reassurance before he wilted and amended shakily, "But I can't protect you anymore. I can't..."

"See and that's just it," she admitted affectionately as she continued to stroke his ear and he began grazing her neck once more in a rhythmic fashion, "Unconditional love is...loving someone no matter what life throws your way. Like...like with how you've been hurt. It didn't make me love you less. I still love you. It's not..."

She sighed as she struggled to explain it.

"Okay so you know how people really love something until it breaks? Like with my bicycle," she tried, "I loved having it until it, uh, broke..."

"I broke it," he mumbled miserably and Kagome rolled her eyes.

"Not on purpose but I didn't love my bike after it didn't work anymore is the point. I threw it away because a condition of me loving it was that I could ride it," she pointed out, "Tell me this, if I went blind tomorrow would you still love me?"

He snorted like the answer was obvious and it was. Why would he stop loving her over that? Stupid woman. That wasn't even a question.

"You'd still love me even if I wasn't useful anymore. If I couldn't see shards, right?" she pressed.

He nodded and began gently nibbling her neck again.

"That's unconditional love," she explained as she reached up and rested her hand on the back of his neck - almost like she was encouraging him to do whatever he needed to do to accept what she was saying. Her next words were somewhat breathy and the sound sent blood rushing to all places indecent, "I still loved you after you turned full demon those times. I loved you after you got hurt. I will love you no matter what life throws our way but..."

She began rubbing her hand passively up and down his back.

"But it's not about accepting everything," she sighed before squeezing him lightly, "It's not believing they're perfect or that you stay with someone despite them hurting you. Sometimes people take advantage of someone who loves them unconditionally and...and, well that's abuse. That's not what we have. Never has been. Love shouldn't hurt. Sure, we fight all the time and yet we still love each other. I'd die for you, you'd die for me. That's just how it is. Does that make sense?"

No, no it did not. That didn't make sense at all. Unconditional love, what he understood it to be, was loving someone even if they hurt you. Almost a compulsion to accept that it was the way it was. The way he saw it there was no choice. It just happened. Kinda pathetic now that he really thought about it. Like a dog coming back over and over after its master beat it. Shouldn't beat a dog. Even a half-breed one. That he could wrap his mind around and, to be honest, it scared him. If Kagome started hurting him or telling him he was worthless as he was, he'd probably stay and take it and try to change to please her and he really didn't want to go back to that. Maybe...maybe normal love was better? It sure as hell felt better.

"Yes and no," he chuckled softly before clenching his eyes shut and groaning as his head gave a particularly nasty throb, "Doesn't matter anyway. I...I like how this love feels."

"This love..."

"Yeah. I like having expectations. I've...I've never had expectations before. I like knowing," he replied vaguely before he continued his new habit when he felt anxious.

"Would you leave me if I didn't meet them?"

"Meet what?"

"Your expectations."

"No," he admitted sheepishly. His somewhat good mood evaporated as he let more of his body weight sag against her, "In the past, I've been kinda submissive I guess? Like you saw how I was with Kikyo."

This headache was going to kill him. He was sure of it and things were slipping out that shouldn't. Why had he said he was submissive? That sounded so wrong. Even if it was kinda true. But bringing up Kikyo suddenly had him questioning everything. Unconditional love shouldn't fade, right? But it had. So was his love for Kikyo not unconditional? Which only served to confuse him more. If it wasn't unconditional, what had it been?

"I noticed that but never wanted to say anything. I used to get jealous you treated her differently," Kagome laughed softly as she adjusted herself and him to message his temple - pressing firmly against the sides and rubbing soothing circles.

"Stupid woman, getting jealous," Inuyasha hummed as he felt some of the pressure in his skull wane and he decided he didn't give a shit about what happened in the past. It honestly didn't matter at all, "I've been yours for a long ass time. You were just too dumb to notice."

"I mean...you were just as dumb for way longer."

"That's fair," he chuckled softly before shivering when she pressed a little harder and the pain lessened to a dull ache, "Whatever. I'm just trying to say this love feels more secure. Easier, ya know?"

"I don't know what you're trying to say but there's nothing wrong with feeling secure," Kagome began in a somewhat amused tone, "But didn't we just establish that if something happened to me, you'd still love me? That you'd stay. Your love for me isn't conditional Inuyasha. Unconditional love is selfless and you've shown me over and over that my well being is more important than your own. How many times do you need to almost die to realize that? And you know, there is a difference between healthy love and unhealthy love. Maybe...maybe in the past it just wasn't healthy. That's why this feels different."

His lips twitched upwards. Now that made sense to him. This was different because it was more healthy. Even he knew it wasn't good for someone to act like he wasn't good enough as he was. Kagome had taught him that. And he did almost die protecting her a lot but death honestly wouldn't matter if she was safe because of what he'd done. Maybe...maybe his love wasn't selfish after all.

"I'm just saying I like how I love you," he murmured softly as he buried his face in her chest and she hummed happily. Her fingers continuing to message his temple.

"I like how I love you too," she cooed, "Why don't you try to get more sleep? You went through a lot. And I know you haven't been sleeping that much while you were watching Shippo."

Ah hell, what happened to Shippo?

"Where is he?" Inuyasha asked somewhat anxious and Kagome shushed him gently.

"With Sango," she replied, "Although he did cuddle you a little while you were out."

Inuyasha laughed softly. So the kit could follow instructions, huh? Could behave if he wanted to? That little shit.

"What about you?" he mumbled tiredly, "Have you been up?"

"Yeah but Miroku and Sango can watch you tomorrow," she yawned, "And then I can nap on your chest."

"I'd like that," he yawned in response as his eyes fluttered closed . For a moment, he allowed himself to drift off before a terrible, no good idea occurred to him.

"So...closer, huh?"

"Huh?"

"You wanted to know what I meant, right?"

"Inuyasha, seconds ago you were acting like your head was going to explode."

"And?"

"So aren't you tried?"

"Not that tired."

Chapter Text

Sango sighed heavily as she leaned her head against the frame of the hut entry and ran her hand gently over Shippo's back. Kikyo hadn't given the slightest inkling that she was there to hurt anyone but given her past behavior, it seemed more likely than not that she had some ulterior motive. For that reason, she and Miroku had decided to take turns guarding the door so the undead bitch couldn't leave.

Oh, she'd given them some spiel about having a change of heart and wanting to find peace. That she had come under a pretense of putting the past behind them all and working together. And then when pressed she mentioned that Naraku was going around telling every potential enemy who wanted to see Inuyasha dead that the half-demon was vulnerable and largely unguarded. So she came to offer Inuyasha some protection while everyone was hunting jewel shards and attempt to heal him enough to give him a fighting chance. After all, she was incapable of actually sleeping and therefore could stand watch at all times.

Well they sure as hell couldn't hunt shards now, could they? Especially because that was exactly the type of thing Naraku would do. Send someone else to kill Inuyasha so he didn't have to get his own hands dirty but still reap the benefit.

As if it wasn't already an emotional blow to have Inuyasha injured as severely as he had been, the reality was without their hanyou friend they couldn't defeat Naraku and now Naraku had painted a target on an already broken man's back. Gone were the times when they had been arrogant enough to believe they win on their own. Sango knew in her heart, even if Inuyasha would never admit it, that part of why he was so devastated was that his injury meant he could no longer protect them.

There was more to Inuyasha bemoaning the fact he couldn't fight. To the depression that consumed him. He felt like he had failed and when pressed, admitted as much but he never elaborated on what he meant by that. Yet Sango knew what was going unsaid. It wasn't a failure in terms of strength or even that his failure to listen to Kagome was the reason he was injured. No. He'd made promises to them all at one point or another. Promised to save Kohaku. Promised to defeat Naraku before the wind tunnel took Miroku. Now Inuyasha couldn't do any of it. He had failed to keep his word and that's what was killing him most of all. His word was all he had to his name and even that was taken from him.

At first, Sango had been angry - albeit for selfish reasons - but then she'd seen the uncomfortably familiar shadow behind her friend's eyes. Truthfully, she'd been reluctant to leave him alone and if Sango wasn't absolutely sure he felt an obligation to care for Shippo, she would've been dragging him kicking and screaming with them on every single jewel shard hunt just to make sure he didn't try something. That or she would've said to hell with jewel shards.

Some things were more important.

Yes, she was driven by the desire to save Miroku but if she was being honest with herself, that had never been certain. Defeating Naraku had never been certain. Saving Kohaku had never been certain. There had been hope, yes, but the reality of the situation was that she always expected them to lose.

And Sango has lost enough people she loved for one lifetime. She'd accepted Miroku would probably be lost eventually. Up until now, she fully intended on joining him when he did. What was the point continuing on without the man she loved? But she had control over that last part. And it was no longer an option. Not with Kagome's future here being so uncertain. Someone else needed her just in case and until she knew he was taken care of, she couldn't just leave. Not willingly anyway.

How many times had she decided she was going to die for and/or with the people she loved? Just look at the last parasitic demon they encountered. Her nightmare was something completely plausible and something she'd considered doing anyway. Killing Kohaku before killing herself. And who had stepped up, even in her nightmare, to stop her? Who had made promises to her and been understanding despite his usual gruff manner? Whose sword she had stolen so early on and who didn't even think to send her away?

Inuyasha.

Yes, Kagome had brought them together, but truly it was Inuyasha who held the group together. Kagome stayed because of him. Miroku hadn't given up because Inuyasha had been there and had been the one tellinghim not to give up. He'd been the one who pushed them all beyond what they thought was capable. Even now. Yes, even now, when he was all but broken, he was still insisting their quest continue without him. He still wanted them to win. To survive. It was clear he neededthem to be here - both emotionally and physically - but it was more important to him that those promises he'd made were fulfilled. Naraku defeated. Kohaku saved. Miroku spared. He'd literally almost cried out of frustration when they'd refused. Actual tears welling in his eyes and none of them could find it in them to refuse his demand at that point. Everything about his situation was heartbreaking. Just the unparalleled level of defeat now permeating his aura devastating for everyone involved.

And so they'd left. Twice. The first time had only lasted a few days. Anxiety about leaving him alone making it hard to breathe and when they finally found the demon with a shard, they might have gone a little overboard. And then this last time they were gone and they came back to a mostly unconscious suffering man who was a mere shadow of the half-demon they knew and loved. Although the decision had already been made, hearing how Inuyasha had spent the time they'd been gone staring into space as tears slid unchecked down his cheeks sealed the deal. That and how both Kikyo and Koga has shown up out of the blue.

And yet Sango wasn't looking forward to telling Inuyasha they'd given up on defeating Naraku. She had no doubt he'd throw a fit and some curses their way. Kagome would be understanding but it'd piss Inuyasha the hell off. He simply wouldn't be able to accept it.

"Lady Sango," Kikyo's soft voice reached the slayer's ears and in response, the slayer scowled.

"May I help you?"

"May I ask a somewhat impertinent question?" the undead miko asked and Sango sighed heavily. Well, she was probably going to do it anyway. Cold undead bitch.

"Sure."

"Why does the child listen to you but not others?" Kikyo asked curiously, "Earlier the monk attempted to keep the child from leaving, presumably to find Kagome, and the child consistently attempted to escape. Used human speech and declared the monk to be an idiot. With Inuyasha too he seemed determined to disobey. Why you?"

Sango rolled her eyes. What the hell did 'why you' even mean? Besides as far as she could tell the only two words Shippo knew were "stupid" and "idiot". Which made sense seeing as how liberally he used the word before. The kit had always pushed boundaries with Inuyasha so it wasn't surprising that he'd keep doing that now. Miroku had never been super hands on with Shippo, although he obviously cared for him, so again Shippo not listening made sense. But next to Kagome, Sango had helped take care of the boy when the miko was in her world. Made sure he was fed and slept with him atop Kilala. So, in a way, she was like the firm aunt whereas Miroku and Inuyasha were more like brothers. The slayer just had more agency. More authority in general.

But saying any of that would give away more than Sango was comfortable revealing.

"I'm not sure how to answer your question," Sango finally replied after a long moment, "Kagome told him to stay with me. I think that's all there is to it."

There. That was a somewhat cordial response that didn't give too much away. If Sango knew one thing it was not to antagonize the insane.

"And yet it is clear he holds you all in high esteem," Kikyo laughed, "Most children rebel I have found. It is fortunate he listens to Kagome at all."

Why was this woman trying to buddy up to her? To gain her trust so she could slit everyone's throat? How many times had Kikyo tried to kill them or betrayed them in some way? A dozen? More?

This was probably about Kagome. Some nefarious plot to get her competition out of the way. Over Sango's dead body. If she thought she could get Kagome out of the way or try to sow seeds of resentment, Kikyo had another thing coming.

"Kagome is the reason any of us are together. Her andInuyasha," Sango spat back as she saw red and reason went straight out the window, "It is because of them that I have a family after mine was killed by Naraku. Miroku found hope he could survive because of them. Shippo was orphaned and lost like would not have survived without them. And of course Shippo listens to Kagome. Every child listens to their mother."

"I have offended you."

"You're existence offends me," Sango continued impulsively, "The only times we feel any ill-will towards Inuyasha is when you're around. You toy with him. Hurthim and Kagome intentionally. Team up with a man who has caused us nothing but pain and then expect us to believe you've turned over a new leaf. What changed your mind, hm? Why now?"

"It is understandable you're upset," Kikyo replied calmly, "In the past, I have been misguided. Arrogant and bitter. When I learned of Inuyasha's injury..."

The undead miko sighed heavily and averted her eyes.

"When I heard he was severely injured, for once in this unnatural existence I felt no anger. No bitterness. Not even the slightest joy that he had been broken as I had become accustomed to feeling," she continued awkwardly - cringing, actually cringing like she regretted saying anything at all, "Instead, I felt only sadness. Sympathy. A desire to help. To protect something other than the jewel. And I realized a part of my humanity remained. That a shadow of who I once was still resided within me. I...I don't expect you to understand."

Of course Kikyo had some half-assed explanation. Where was this realization when she tried to drag him to hell? When she attempted to kill Kagome? Or team up with Naraku?

"If you so much as try to hurt him or anyone else, I willkill you," Sango hissed in warning as she narrowed her eyes, "Tread lightly Kikyo. I've lost enough people in one lifetime. I will not be losing another."

Kikyo seemed to consider this and nodded.

"I would expect no less," the priestess laughed softly before settling more comfortably against the wall, "It is fortunate Inuyasha has made such strong allies. He will need it in the days to come."

Cursing herself for rising to the bait, the slayer settled for glaring at the miko until it was Miroku's turn once more.

xoxoxoxoxoxo

Sesshomaru sighed softly as he looked up into the night sky. The stars were nonexistent - hidden behind puffs of gray illuminated by the crescent moon. Something in the air felt ominous. Unnerving. A warning of danger ahead. Gone were the days when he could dismiss such a feeling. Up until recently, he had always been confident in his ability to withstand even the deadliest attack. The only enemy he had ever faced that had even remotely concerned him was the one who should have been beneath this notice. It still disgusted him to think that Inuyasha, of all people, had made him tremble with fear even for a moment. Perhaps it was not fear but rather not knowing his own limitations. Or perhaps it was fear. Fear that he had made an enemy out of a potentially powerful ally. Put at risk the one thing he now valued above all others. A vulnerable little something he cherished more than he would ever say. No amount of pride was worth losing her. Perhaps it was time to make amends. To combine their strength in the face of a formidable foe.

The very idea made him ill.

"Jaken," he ordered softly as amber eyes darted suddenly to the tree line, "Stand over Rin."

Sesshomaru didn't have a moment more to react as the foe in question appeared in the distance. His white fur coat billowing in the slight breeze as he watched and waited.

"My, my Sesshomaru. You bother protecting a human during a time like this?" Naraku crooned from his place in the darkness, "Fear not. I have not come to harm you or your companions. I come bearing good news."

Arching a single brow, the daiyoukai seriously doubted the half-demon had anything of value to say. Most likely this was merely an attempt to bait him. If his journey had taught him anything, it was that Naraku was not to be trusted. Any assistance would come with a price and Sesshomaru was not a man to be toyed with. This half-demon had already pushed his patience to the limit when he had kidnapped Rin a mere fortnight prior. It was shocking Naraku felt confident enough to approach him which left only one possibility. This was a puppet. A figure who could be destroyed while the host remained. Another deception that was unworthy of his attention.

"This Sesshomaru has no need of such," he replied quietly.

"I doubt that. Your little brother is vulnerable. Broken," Naraku continued with a soft chuckle - clearly ignoring the clear dismissal, "Unable to wield the sword bequeathed to him. The sword that rightfully should've gone to you."

"Inuyasha is no longer my concern."

"He should be," Naraku taunted, "You would have that sword fall into the hands of a lesser demon? To have what is rightfully yours stolen? What a shame. Perhaps I'll take it for myself."

"Your arrogance truly knows no bounds," Sesshomaru replied emotionlessly as he raised his claws and struck the puppet clean in half. Gracefully getting to his feet, the daiyoukai glanced at the obviously tired toad before continuing ahead without another word.

"My Lord, wait for us!"

xoxoxoxoxoxo

Having her here, breathing against him, moving against him felt like a miracle in itself. This was everything he had ever hoped it would be and yet the last thing he had ever thought would happen. It had begun innocently enough. He fully expected her to reject him. To tell him he was being stupid and just let him fall back asleep. But instead there had been a moment. A split second where he could see the indecision of her eyes. For a split second, she chewed her lip nervously and then she kissed him. Not innocently, like a tease but hot, fiery, passionate and demanding.

He moaned without pretense as her hand grazed the side of his neck, cupping his jaw and tilting his head to better align their mouths. One kiss became twenty and then he'd lost count, each kiss melting into another so much so that he barely had time to regain his sanity before it was stripped away once more.

And then came a moment of cautious optimism when her fingers began trailing down his stomach. The disbelief and awe almost palpable. He had been teasing. Never did he expect her to take it so seriously. This was Kagome after all. A woman who seemed completely opposed to the idea not that long ago. A day? Maybe two? Who was pure and innocent and all things maddening. Then she squeezed and he legitimately forgot how to breathe.

'Is this what you meant?' she had crooned and he found himself nodding. Without another word, she started to undo the ties on his clothes. Amber eyes watched with a mixture of adoration and disbelief as she made her way downward. Each time Kagome pushed away the fabric, her fingers brushed against his skin igniting an inferno that threatened to burn him alive.

Was he hallucinating or something? Were those worms still in his head? It seemed highly likely the worms were still in his head. Which would make a hell of a lot more sense than believing his innocent little Kagome had suddenly turned seductress on him.

That thought almost had him pushing her away. Having her touch him because she felt bad for him would defeat the purpose and just be another disappointment. If Kagome loved him in this way, it would more than make up for the time he missed. Earlier could all be forgotten, be brushed under the rug never to be thought of again. This would be the time that mattered. The only one that mattered. But if this mind boggling experience was being done just to shut him up, it'd break him far more than injury could even dream of accomplishing.

But just like everything else, Kagome read his mind.

'It's because I love you,' she'd breathed like that explained everything and he chuckled shakily. A moment later he was lifting his hips to encourage her to disrobe him and a moment after that he was bare to her gaze. Glancing nervously up at her face, he tried to search for signs of disgust or disapproval and mercifully found none. In fact, he found quite the opposite. She was staring at his body like it was the most beautiful thing she'd ever seen and he'd blushed under her gaze.

'I love you too,' Inuyasha offered tentatively as he tried to adjust himself more comfortably against the wall before deciding to hell with it. With one quick movement, he pulled her against him and pressed his mouth to hers, possessing, owning. His lips, firm and warm, played across her own, tempting her until she was gasping for breath. Lips twitching upwards, he pulled back just enough to nuzzle her nose before his own breathing hitched when her fingers tightened in response to his little display.

'You're way too good at this,'' he'd chuckled shakily as his head fell back against the wood and he breathed heavily through his nose. Pleasure rushed through him, spurring his pulse to an alarming pace. Taking advantage of his complete surrender, Kagome took the opportunity to kiss him aggressively before releasing him and pulling back.

Whimpering in protest, Inuyasha opened his eyes and was about to have some choice words when the sight before him stole any argument he could've possibly come up with.

Inuyasha had never seen her undress like this before. Completely devoid of any shyness, no hint of inner panic. Not oblivious either like the, ahem, other times he'd watched her. Kagome, the goddess that she was, stood before him self-confident, bathed in candle light, and he found himself gaping stupidly at the glory that was a slow provocative striptease.

How far was she going to take this? Touching him was one thing but her stripping meant this encounter was about to become a whole different animal. It wasn't like he'd done anything even remotely like this before. What if he wasn't good? Would she leave him if he wasn't? Panic began rising in his chest as his mind raced. If she was planning on doing what he thought she was planning, what would happen if his body wouldn't cooperate? Would he humiliate himself? Truth be told, his humiliation threshold was already at max capacity. Maybe...maybe he'd just...maybe they shouldn't...

Kneeling in front of him, Kagome cupped one cheek in her hand, and met his worried gaze with a searing, reassuring look. Shaking her head as though she couldn't quite understand what had come over her, she kissed him again, her fingers resuming their task, and any thoughts of resistance were instantly wiped from him mind. Gradually, almost experimentally, her speed increased; the rhythm became less smooth. When his body began to tense, his breathing erratic and harsh, her fingers slowed to a lazy tease before stopping entirely.

'Seriously?' he'd groaned - somewhere between a laugh and a cry - as his hips thrust upwards to encourage her to continue, 'You can't just stop. That's a bitch move Ka...'

Anything else he planned on saying was stolen from his lungs as her hand began guiding his own. Truth be told, he'd been hesitant about touching her anywhere below the waist despite the clear signals it would be allowed. For the most part, his claws had kept his hand firmly in place as they dug into the futon for exactly that reason. Yes, turnabout was fair play but a twinge of fear remained that it might be disrespectful for someone like him to do so. Not that he was stupid enough to say that to her. That'd be the easiest and fastest way to put an end to this moment and that was the last thing he wanted. Swallowing thickly, he tried to dampen down his own nerves as he slowly slipped two fingers inside her, relishing in the feel of her as she pressed her body into his touch until he paused and groaned in frustration.

'We can't do this,' he'd whispered hoarsely as he began to retract his fingers before whimpering when she squeezed him tightly in reply and her hips rolled to keep his hand in place.

'Why not? We're married aren't we?' came her breathy counter.

'Name...name fucking only woman. Your rule. Not mine,' he reminded her as he tried to catch his breath. The half-chiding, half-adoring smirk he gave earned a breathtaking grin.

'It was a stupid rule anyway.'

Laughing in relief, he couldn't agree more and he definitely not to going to argue. Not when she began to kiss up his jaw. Not when she encouraged him to explore. And most certainly not when she climbed onto his lap, grinding heatedly against him as he tried to thrust in time with her motions. This blessed contact continued for what could've been hours or mere seconds until he accidentally slipped inside her, and they froze - completely unsure of where to go from there.

'Lay back,' she whispered shakily and he found himself complying as his heart thudded in his chest. From that moment onward, Kagome was completely in charge, more so than before, and to his horror, he loved it. Pinning his arms down while her hair cascaded around them was more exhilarating than anything he had ever known. Occasionally he'd pretend to break free but they both knew he had no intention of going anywhere. There would be plenty of time to exert his dominance later; to have her submit in all manner of ways. Tonight she could have her way with him. After all, only a fool would refuse a woman who offered herself. A bigger fool would refuse his wife.

He grinned lopsidedly at the reminder before his eyes crossed and he put his focus back where it belonged. It took every ounce of self control he had in him to stay in that place of blissful desperation, to hold out, to not lose it and yet at the same time, his mind was traitorously pleading...

Almost there, a bit longer, nearly there, like that, keep going, keep going...

Chapter Text

Was he grinning like an idiot? Yes. Yes he was. Who wouldn't be in his situation? Last night was the best night of his life. One turned into two which in turn became three until they found themselves in this position. Exhausted. Both on their stomachs, her arms curled under her chest, his good arm draped across his back while his leg curled around one of hers. Naked as the day they were born and both with silly sated grins on their lips. It was still about an hour before dawn so while they'd like to think they shouldn't be disturbed, a certain little child of theirs would undoubtedly come barging in at any moment.

"We should get dressed," Kagome mumbled tiredly even as she snuggled a little more into him and he, in turn, enveloped her with more of his warmth. Inuyasha decided the best course of action was to pretend like he didn't hear her. Maybe she'd let it go and they could just lay here for a while longer.

"Need to register with the headman too," she continued. Once again refusing to respond, Inuyasha closed his eyes and buried his nose atop her shoulder. Honestly, the headman could go fuck himself. They were already married far as the half-demon was concerned but for proprietary sake they probably should go talk to the man. But again, that would require relinquishing this position and he had zero desire to move.

"And we gotta do something about Kikyo," she added earning a slight pout. Who gave a shit about Kikyo? Even with him injured there were three very powerful humans between him and her. All on high alert and frankly much more powerful than the last time Kikyo pulled a shenanigan. Right now, he didn't want to worry about her. His mind wanted to focus solely on aiming for round four a little later. Why did Kagome have to think so much anyway? Always something bouncing around up there. And he thought he had anxiety. How did she live?

"If I didn't know better, I'd think you were trying to get up," he teased softly and she shrugged. Placing a long, lingering kiss atop her shoulder, he adjusted so more of his body weight lay atop of her.

"Can't get up. See? I'm too heavy and you're too little," he concluded playfully. Kagome snorted and grinned.

"Fair enough."

As they fell into a comfortable silence, Inuyasha began dragging his fingertips gently against her shoulder. This moment was perfect. More than perfect. For the first time ever, he felt truly at peace with the world. Every moment retraining his mind to cope with what was instead of focusing on what could've been. For so long, suffering had been his norm. He'd managed to convince himself there was no other way but laying here, listening to the birds chirping, the sound of her steady heart, feeling her body rise and fall with her breath made every tense muscle in his body relax. Made it easier to breathe after a lifetime not knowing he was suffocating. Weirder still came the realization that it wasn't just because Kagome was there.

All his life the knowledge that he had no control over his life had made him operate in a state of constant panic and fear. Every minute of every day revolved around the desperate desire to see another sunrise and each day brought new struggles, new battles, and ever more creative wounds. Over and over again he'd told himself and others that he wasn't afraid of death but those words had been hollow and frankly ridiculous. Was he impulsive? Yes. But why would he fight so hard if he didn't care if he lived or died?

And now...

Well, most of his life, he'd seen himself as salty and bitter. Disgusting and unappealing even to himself. But now he realized he'd just been marinating. Swimming in a mixture of emotions and hardship that made him unique and different in a beautiful way. Infusing his heart with a level of understanding most men could never achieve. The seasoning of hardship had made him better not bitter. And...

Sighing heavily, Inuyasha groaned as his stomach grumbled. Of course he was thinking in food metaphors. Random ass food metaphors at that. Probably because he hadn't eaten anything in more than a day and he'd worked up quite an appetite last night. He grinned at the memory before sighing dejectedly. Stupid body. Hunger was seriously inconvenient given his commitment to not moving. Sniffing, he tried to discern without getting up if Kagome had any instant ramen in that backpack of hers. It wasn't the most filling food - he could eat a dozen of those bastards and still be hungry - but damn if those noodles didn't taste like heaven. Kagome laughed softly as her lips twitched upwards.

"You do realize eating would require getting up right?"

"I know," he sighed heavily before giving her an adoring look, "Maybe we can live on air? Who needs food anyway?"

His stomach grumbled again in protest.

"Apparently you do," she teased and with a groan, she stretched out her legs before extracting herself from his embrace. Rolling onto his back, he scratched lightly at his chest and frowned. Getting up sounded awful, even if he was starving, but he tried to console himself with the fact that he'd get her back in his arms tonight. And tonight he'd be human and truth be told, he was extremely curious what sex would feel like in that state. His fourth time. With his wife.

Yup, the bastard half-demon who should've been drowned at birth had a wife. A fucking gorgeous goddess of a wife who made him feel like the luckiest bastard that ever lived. Humming happily, he let his mind wander and conjure images of what he hoped their future would be. Visions of happiness and peace and thing he didn't even know he wanted like children...and…

And...

Amber eyes snapped open as he stared up at the ceiling in mild horror. Even he, in his extremely limited experience, knew where babies came from and they'd just done the thing that made babies. Repeatedly.

Oh no. Oh no no no no no no...

This was bad. Worth it but so bad. Swallowing thickly, he turned his head and watched Kagome as she slid her shirt over her head. Longing glowed in his eyes as he let himself imagine, just for a moment, what she'd look like carrying his child. It physically hurt how much he wanted to see that dream play out. But since when did he want this? This was definitely new. Maybe it was just because he'd been poorly parenting Shippo but whatever the reason for it was, he knew he suddenly had never wanted anything more. But this was definitely not the time. Wouldn't be for a while. Still, if it did happen sooner rather than later, that wouldn't be so bad, would it?

He hoped it was a girl. Girls seemed easier.

"Why are you staring at me like that?" Kagome laughed softly as a soft blush stained her cheeks.

"No reason," he sighed as he averted his eyes and fluidly sat up. Huffing in frustration when the lie tasted like acid in his mouth, he shook his head and swallowed thickly.

"So..." he cleared his throat and exhaled slowly, "So..."

"So..." Kagome repeated bemusedly.

""We did...that," he tried before cringing at how stupid that sounded, "I just mean...so...so I wasn't...I didn't think about certain things. Important things."

He smelled Kagome's fear before she made a small sound of understanding and relief flooded her scent.

"You're worried about me getting pregnant," she hummed before adding sheepishly, "I didn't think about that."

"To be fair, I didn't either," he sighed as he rubbed his partial arm nervously, "So..."

"So..." Kagome repeated once more as she moved to kneel next to him.

"So...if you do, ya know, get knocked up or whatever," he continued anxiously - unable to meet her eyes, "What would you do?"

Kagome blinked a few times as she tried to figure out what he meant.

""I don't understand the question," she began slowly, "Like will I stay in my time or..."

"Would you be upset?" he amended cautiously, "With me I mean. Just...what would you do?"

"I mean, I'd have some explaining to do and I'd officially have to drop out of school and it'd be...it'd complicate the quest but I wouldn't be mad at you. Why...can you smell that? Is that why you're asking?" Kagome asked as her scent spiked from sudden fear and nerves.

"No," he laughed shakily as he tried to give her a reassuring smile, "My nose is good but not that good. I just..."

A blush stained his cheeks as he swallowed thickly, "I know I...I know I'm not good with words but I'm trying. For you. And I don't know anything about kids but I'd try for them too. Just wanted you to know that."

Kagome smiled even as her heart began to race and fear settled in her gut.

"For them? So you want more than one?" she teased - trying to lighten the sudden tension in the air. He shrugged and his blush deepened.

"The village seems like they accept us being together," he mumbled miserably, "I think we'd be safe here. Our kids would be safe here."

"Kids. You do want more than one," she hummed and again he shrugged.

"Dunno," he admitted cautiously as he risked a glance at her, "I just...I've never thought about it before. But you'd make a good mother. And I'd be okay I think. I mean I haven't killed Shippo yet so that's a good sign. And I'll figure out some way to provide. I will. So you don't have to be worried about that and..."

Kagome's heart ached a little at how nervous he seemed. Like he was trying to convince her to stay with him as if there was an actual possibility she'd leave. Even after everything, he was worried the rug might be pulled out from under him yet again. Unable to trust what seemed like a good thing no matter how badly he wanted it. Not that he didn't trust her. She knew he did. It just...it just didn't make sense. What switch flipped here?

His words from earlier suddenly rang out in her mind.

'In the past, I've been kinda submissive I guess?'

Ah, he was reverting back to old faithful. He was being submissive. Trying to please her. Expecting her to hurt him and trying to fix whatever he thought was happening here before she had the chance. Afraid to say what he wanted because she had the power to hurt him and he'd stay and take it too if she did. He'd do anything. Say anything if it meant he wouldn't be alone again. To convince her to still love him.

Like he'd done with Kikyo.

Her heart ached a little more.

"Inuyasha, stop…"

Amber eyes widened as something that suspiciously looked like a tear blossomed in his eye. There was something else too. Resignation maybe? Like he believed he knew where this was going and had accepted that it would be bad. It was weird and also utterly sad. A thought occurred to her. She had honestly almost forgotten it. He had seemed so shocked she loved him unconditionally. Like he'd never had that before and when she brought up his mother he'd shaken his head. Maybe...maybe he'd been abused as a child? Not by just random people although she was sure that happened too. He would have had to be abused by someone he trusted. As much as she didn't want to believe it, it made a morbid amount of sense. Why he was so dead set on keeping everyone at arms length. Why he was so guarded. Why he just straight up didn't understand when she explained what love was. Why he felt guilty about 'expecting' things from her that most people just assumed came with the territory. Why he was assuming she'd hate him or hurt him over something she'd initiated.

Sighing, Kagome knew what she needed to make crystal clear.

"I love you more than anything," she began as she cupped his face and her thumb caressed his cheek, "I'm not worried about whether you can provide or be a good father or anything like that. I'm nervous because thinking we might be having a baby is a little scary. But if I do...ya know...get pregnant because of what we did, it's going to be okay. Life happens when we make other plans."

Hope gleamed in his eyes as he leaned into her touch and let her continue.

"But, and don't take this the wrong way, I should go home. There's some...some herbs I can get that'd prevent that right now. And other herbs I can take and some things we could use until we're ready to have children."

Searching her eyes for a moment, he apparently found what he was looking for as visibly sagged in relief and gave her a small smile.

"So..."

Kagome hummed and rolled her eyes, "So..."

"So you don't regret last night?" he asked cautiously and she shook her head.

"Do you?"

Scoffing, he gave her a look like he was seriously doubting her sanity and to her enormous relief he seemed to drop the submissive behavior.

"You can be so stupid," he snorted before an extremely horrifying thought occurred to him.

"Kagome?" he asked nervously as fear once again appeared in his eyes, "How would you get these things?"

"I would have to ask Mama to make an appointment for me and for some money to buy it," she admitted and the slight fear turned into full blown terror. Facing down Naraku, even in this condition, was not as terrifying as the thought of facing Kagome's mother's wrath for fucking her daughter.

"She's going to kill me," he breathed as he turned a sickly shade of green.

"Mama's not going to kill you. Get angry maybe but she isn't going to try and attack you or anything. Well, okay, Gramps might hit you with a broom and send one of his sutras your way but that won't hurt," Kagome tried to reassure him, "But we probably should register with the headman first and we might need to tell her we got married before we did, um, that. Or just lie. Lying would be okay too."

"Lie?"

"Like say we didn't do anything yet and that we plan on taking precautions," she suggested sheepishly, "But I'm not going to lie about the marriage bit. You are my husband. Now and always. They'll have to drag you out of my cold dead hands."

"I wouldn't let that happen," he immediately breathed and to her dismay, the submissive behavior was back, "I'd die first. You know I...I can still use blades of blood and I'm going to learn how to use Tessaiga again so…"

"Inuyasha…"

He cringed and his ears drooped.

"All I meant was that I'm never letting you go," she hummed, "Like I said. You're stuck with me so get used to it."

He visibly wilted in relief but still looked somewhat lost and desperate.

"I mean we were engaged at least. I...I thought of you as my wife," he breathed nervously - looking rather dazed and like he was very seriously going to puke, "That counts, right?"

"Inuyasha it'll be okay," Kagome sighed exasperatedly as she gently stroked his very pale cheek, "It's not that serious."

He seemed to relax and the aura of desperation faded.

"I dunno Kagome. Seems pretty damn serious to me," he huffed with his usual manner as he leaned into her touch and added playfully, "Just...if your grandfather does try to hit me, don't let me fall over? Give me some pride in this situation."

"I doubt Gramps will even be able to use enough force to knock you over. Probably won't even sting. And again it's not that bad," Kagome snorted and Inuyasha gave her a skeptical look.

"I don't know how it is in your time but here what we did would be considered pretty fucking bad when you aren't actually married," he countered with a shaky sigh as he buried his nose in her hand, "I didn't even ask permission first."

"Permission? To be clear, you're saying you wanted to ask my mom permission to have sex with me?"

"I mean when you put marriage that way it sounds fucked up but yeah, sure. Say it that way. I don't give a shit."

"You would've asked? Since when do you follow human customs?"

"Since it involves you," he sighed as he reached up and moved her hand to his ear. His fingers pushed hers until she got the idea and releasing her, he took several calming breaths.

"Just do that for a bit," he pleaded quietly as he closed his eyes and tried to psyche himself up. Oh, this was so not good. He never thought anything through. He should've just asked ages ago to have the answer in his pocket just in case. From the second he realized he loved her. What if this something Kagome said would prevent babies didn't work? Or what if she couldn't get it? How the hell was he going to explain this? Sorry I got your daughter pregnant. I can't protect her anymore, got no way to provide but hey, I've got a shitty personality, can't walk on my own and only have one arm? Oh and by the way, now I spend most of my time crying like a little bitch. I do love her though and I've got a place to live so that's something. Great sales pitch. Should use it more often. Real convincing.

"Do they at least know I got hurt?" he asked in a resigned tone and he felt her fingers pause before resuming.

"So that's a no then. Oh just fuck me. Not literally, okay...just fuck Kagome. I'm so fucked," he groaned as he tried to stomp down his ever increasing nerves. Great, just great. Drop two truth bombs on them at once. This was going to end so well.

"I mean would," Inuyasha huffed as rubbed his temple and tried to calm himself down, "Would they disown you? If...if you know…"

"Inuyasha," Kagome sighed as her unoccupied hand gently traced his neck in a soothing motion, "You are the most important thing to me. I always knew if it came between staying in my world and staying here, I would pick here. I would pick you. But I don't think they're going to disown me. They might be a little upset but Mama knows I love you. She can't be that shocked we're married."

"Just keep rubbing my ear, woman," he demanded good naturedly - sounding much more like his old confident self.

"So…"

His lips twitched upwards.

"So…"

"Rubbing your ears calms you down," she concluded and a small smile appeared on his lips. Changing the subject was as good as any way to distract him.

"Maybe."

"So why haven't you let me do it? You acted like you hated it," she chided gently and he sighed.

"Thought it'd make me look weak," he chuckled as he leaned into her touch, "But when you're missing an arm and a leg you kinda stop caring."

"Well now I know."

"Now you know."

"So...back to you being hungry," she hummed as she moved to lean against the wall and coaxed his head into her lap - her fingers never breaking contact while her other hand gently began stroking his stomach, "What do you want for breakfast, hm?"

"Not hungry anymore," he sighed dejectedly before he furrowed his brow and blindly reached for the blanket to cover himself just in case someone decided to just wander in. Closing his eyes, his lips twitched upwards as he continued lazily, "Guess we should get our story straight, huh?"

"Guess we should."

"So…"

"So…"

"Did I fuck you or did you fuck me?"

Kagome let out a long sigh and smacked him lightly upside the head while he snickered.

Chapter Text

Inuyasha tried to stay calm as he stared up at the wooden ceiling that marked their arrival. Really he did but instead he found that he could hardly breathe.

"You okay?" Kagome asked quietly and he knew his expression gave him away. Yes, he trusted Kagome implicitly. Yes, he loved her more than anything. Yes, they'd fucked and it was the most beautiful thing he'd ever experienced. But also no, he was not okay right now.

And he hated it.

He hated the fear bouncing traitorously around in his head that upon hearing her family's did not approve, which was inevitable, she'd change her mind. Tell him they weren't married after all and that they needed to slow down. Or worse yet, realize how stupid she was for loving him in the first place. Why would anyone in their right mind want to spend their life with someone who was pieces of a whole that made nothing? And he knew, he knew, that was a stupid thing to even think but that didn't stop his stomach churning.

"Inuyasha?"

Closing his eyes, he let out a shuddering breath before launching at her. It was clumsy and awkward but he moved with surprising speed before he even realized he'd done it. He pressed his lips to hers gently at first. Delicate and passionate at once. The familiar silken texture of her lips, her pliant softness, the little moan that caught in her throat as he pinned her against the ancient wooden wall stopped his breath and jolted his heart. Made him feel stronger. Invincible even.

A voice in Kagome's head demanded answers. She was enjoying this immensely but also...there was something almost desperate in his movements. What was happening here?

Inuyasha tilted his head, craving the taste of her as though it could save his soul. Reaching up to hold her in place, he shifted, pressing his lips firmly againsthers before he flicked his tongue out to touch just the center of her bottom lip. Her lips parted on a sudden exhale. Her warm breath mingled with his. And there it was again. That feeling he could take on the world.

When he suddenly sagged in what seemed like relief and rested his forehead against hers, it clicked. Reassurance. He was looking for reassurance.

Because he was scared of her mom.

"Okay I'm ready," he hummed as he gently nuzzled her nose and pulled back before his body seemed to remember his leg did, in fact, not work and he damn near crumpled.

"Fucking god damn shit," he cursed quietly as he braced himself and shook his head, "Well there that went. Know what? Fuck it. Let's just risk having a kid. I don't even care."

"We still have to tell them we're married Inuyasha," Kagome sighed heavily as she helped him get to the ladder and he gave her a side long glare.

"We don't hafta," he grumbled even as he began the painfully awkward process of climbing the ladder. Having one arm and the wrong side of his lower body working made the task miserable and humiliating but there was no other way. Sooner or later they'd have to have this conversation because (a) they were married and (b) if he had a choice in the matter, he was going to fuck Kagome at least once a day for the rest of his life and nothing, nothing was going to stop him.

Kagome sighed as she watched him struggle. He had insisted he climb out first as a condition of them coming here - okay not a condition. He was obviouslycoming. Just more of a very firm request but she was seriously questioning his judgment right now. His reasoning had been that he didn't want her to be seen first and then be stuck at the bottom thus risking her family watching his current pathetic display. Not that he'd phrased it like that but that was the jist.

And now he looked like he might cry. Just stuck on the ladder. She'd said he should just try jumping but he just had this defeatist attitude anymore. Saying he couldn't do things without even trying. It was getting old.

She saw his ears droop and he stopped moving entirely. In that instant, he looked so defeated it almost broke her heart. Any progress he'd made these past couple days gone with the wind as his entire being shook with the effort of holding back tears. Kagome didn't think it was because this task was hard for him. Awkward, yes, and a little inconvenient but not overwhelmingly difficult. It literally couldn't be that. There were only seven rungs on the ladder. And she'd seen him lift a boulder with one hand before. If he really wanted, he could just climb one handed but he refused to do it. Refused to adapt for whatever reason. Probably because what seemed to bother him the most is that things that used to be effortless now took effort. Which wasn't the end of the world but apparently it was to him. He'd be in denial that he could still do certain things until the cows came home and then he'd be in denial about the cows.

Yeah, this was getting real old.

"I hate this," he grunted. For a moment, he glanced around and then without warning he pushed off the wall using his good foot. in mere seconds, he was clutching the lip of the well with a little grin playing on his lips.

Kagome rolled her eyes. He looked so proud of himself. Like child presenting terrible noodle art to his parents and expecting to be praised. To be fair, it was actually quite impressive to see him deadlift his whole body one handed. No matter how strong she might become Kagome knew beyond a shadow of a doubt she'd just fall to her death in the same situation. Still, it wasn't like he'd magically became that strong overnight. The only person telling him that he couldn't do things like that anymore was him.

Perched happily on the side of the well, Inuyasha grinned down at her.

"See. Told you I could do it," he preened as Kagome began the climb herself.

"That wasn't the issue. I never said you couldn't do it."

"Ah but it made you nervous," he accused playfully as he tapped his nose, "Scent doesn't lie Ka-go-me."

"Geez. You're giving me whiplash," Kagome sighed when she finally reached the top, "Pick an emotion and stick with it."

Inuyasha smiled softly as he watched Kagome effortlessly climb out and drop her monstrosity of a bag on the ground. If there was one perk to being injured it was that he didn't have to carry that sack of shit around anymore. Even he thought it was heavy but the woman lugged it everywhere. Just like Miroku when he tried to pick up Sango's boomerang, every time Inuyasha had to pick up the damn thing he briefly wondered how his miko managed to do it. Even he'd get tired of carrying a boulder on his back all the time.

"I don't know what you're talking about," he snickered before he let out a short steadying breath and slid off the well. For a moment, he managed to look like his old self. Even had the usual 'no shits given' stance down pat before his smile faltered and he began to sway.

"Oh shit," he breathed before he desperately reached out and firmly gripped the worn ancient wood. Letting out a long sigh, he shook his head.

"You'll stay with me, right?" he asked vaguely as Kagome extracted his cane that they'd haphazardly tucked under the flap of her backpack.

"Nooo," Kagome snorted, "I'm going to run away screaming. Obviously."

"I'm just saying when your mom tries to kill us, don't bolt," Inuyasha sighed as he glanced wearily at the well house door, "No half-demons left behind."

"Have I ever done that?"

"Just saying your grandfather could outrun me right now," he grumbled good naturedly before groaning when she gave him a slightly impatient look, "I'm just trying to be funny woman. You know I don't actuallythink you'd abandon me."

"You're never funny when you try," Kagome hummed affectionately, "You're terrible at jokes. Stay in your lane."

"What the hell does that mean?"

"It means do what you're good at," Kagome cooed as she moved and pressed a kiss on his cheek, "Come on. It won't be that bad."

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

It was bad. It was very bad. To be quite honest, Inuyasha felt more shell shocked than when Naraku pretended to be Kikyo and then real Kikyo shot him.

"...so irresponsible!" Mama continued heatedly, "You're still in school Kagome! And what about this quest? You're just giving up on that too?!"

"No one is giving up on the..." Kagome tried weakly as she gripped Inuyasha's hand tightly under the table. Mama was having none of it.

"Don't even try it," the elder Higurashi interrupted heatedly, "Inuyasha is injured. Severely. I know you won't leave him unprotected. I know how to read between the lines."

The half-demon to which she referred cringed and gripped his miko's hand tightly.

"And so because of that, you want me to get you birth control pills because you want to play house? Are you serious right now?"

"Inuyasha is my husband whether you like it or not," Kagome suddenly replied angrily as she glared at her mother, "And yes, we want to be careful. That's why I'm asking."

"You sound like a child," Mama huffed as her face turned beet red, "It sounds like the only reason you got married was because you're both impulsive and immature. Because you gave up and settled."

"That's not true," Kagome hissed, "I love him."

"That's not possible! You barely know him!" Mama spat back before inhaling sharply when Inuyasha suddenly looked like he'd been slapped in the face. His face pale as his amber eyes reflected the way his heart absolutely shattered. His lips moved wordlessly for a second before he finally seemed to find his voice again.

"Madam Higurashi," he began formally - the hoarseness in his voice making the woman's eyes widened slightly, "I understand your decision. I know...I know I'm not..."

He seemed to flounder for a moment before pressing onward.

"I know I'm not who you wanted," he continued and his voice cracked as he continued, "I know that. I know this isn't the life you wanted for her. But it's the life she has. And she does know me. She knows me better than anyone. So I...so I'll ask you to...to not say that again."

Kagome was pretty much stunned stupid as she gasped at the man beside her who seemed to be barely holding it together and yet who was staring down her mother with the fierce determination he normally exuded. He was fighting for her the only way he could with the weakest of his abilities.

Mama too seemed to recognize this and seemed to calm slightly. And look strangely ashamed. Probably because she finally realized she'd been talking about Inuyasha like he wasn't even there.

And yet the conversation was clearly now between Inuyasha and her mother. Kagome tried to brace herself for the incoming nuclear bomb.

"Shes too young to get married," Mama opined almost hatefully, "She needs to finish school."

"I have no intention of stopping her," Inuyasha replied somewhat calmly but the grip on Kagome's hand became so tight it hurt.

"Have you already consummated this marriage?" Mama challenged and the look in her eye told Inuyasha she knew the answer already. Her scent too was furious but also probing. She wanted to see if they were going to lie to her.

Sighing, Inuyasha nodded once and Kagome gasped softly - staring at him like he'd just committed high treason.

"And it's official in your time?"

He nodded tersely again and his grip tightened incrementally to the point the miko knew her hand would be bruised. Mama's eyes searched his for a moment before she huffed and shook her head.

"I'm not happy with you two," she sighed heavily, "You two obviously didn't think. You clearly used no protection. This whole marriage was impulsive and irresponsible and...and...

Letting out a steadying breath, Inuyasha swallowed thickly before interrupting - ignoring Kagome's nearly silent plea to shut up.

"I agree. We should have waited but what's done is done," he admitted hoarsely as he continued to meet the angry woman's gaze, "And yes, if there are consequences of that, we will deal with them. Together. I may be broken and I understand that..."

Looking slightly heartbroken, Mama shook her head and sighed, "Inuyasha that's not why I'm upset. I don't disapprove because you were hurt. It's not about that and besides, I know that your injury is not your fault."

"It is," Inuyasha admitted sternly, "I didn't listen to Kagome. I chased after a demon when I was vulnerable and I paid a price for that. So in a way, you're right. We are impulsive. We do make mistakes. Don't make telling you one of them."

Groaning, Kagome pinched the bridge of her nose and prayed for a quick death. Why had he said that? Why was he literally saying any of this? Threats were a sure way to make this already shitty situation that much shittier.

"Is that a threat?"

"It depends," Inuyasha hissed - his voice growing in confidence, "Because yeah, we are very impulsive people but we're also incredibly stubborn. Nothing you say, nothing you do short of killing me, will keep us apart. So you've got a decision to make. Do you want grandchildren right now or not?"

Burying her face on her free hand, Kagome was horrified albeit impressed with his argument. A terrible, mortifying argument that probably was going to forever ruin her relationship with her mother but any hope of that had already flown the coop. Mama was on thin ice in Kagome's opinion even if it was understandable why she was so upset. Besides, it was true what she'd said to him earlier. If it came down to choosing where to be, she'd pick being with Inuyasha over any other place or time. If the well closed, she'd pick him over her family without a second thought. So...

Oh just...

Just...

It was so hard not to scream in frustration. Just what exactly was he doing here? Was he trying to get her kicked out of this era? To make Mama more angry?Because if that was his fricking plan, it was working great.

"Fine. If this is what you two have decided, fine," Mama finally huffed after a long moment before turning cold eyes on Kagome, "I'm not happy about this. But it seems like I have no choice. I'm extremely disappointed in..."

"You didn't answer my question," Inuyasha interrupted, "Grandchildren or no grandchildren?"

"I'll make the appointment," Mama bit back acidly before turning and storming out of the room - officially finished with this conversation. For the time being at least.

"Come on," Inuyasha huffed as he glanced at the window and got unsteadily to his feet, "Let's go to your room. I don't want to be out here anymore."

Kagome had a hard time standing herself as they slowly made their way up to her bedroom. Unfortunately, this required passing through the rest of the house where the other occupants had the pleasure of eavesdropping. And yet strangely, Gramps had remained silent in the living room during the terse exchange and now seemed to be watching Inuyasha particularly closely with an appraising stare.

"What the hell are you lookin' at?" the already tense half-demon clipped back - of course - impulsively before letting out a long resigned sigh and turning to face the old man for what he imagined would be round two.

"You're using the cane wrong," the old man replied softly, "But given your injury it must be difficult. Tomorrow we'll get you a better one. More suited to your condition."

Kagome officially felt like she was going to have a nervous breakdown. Every muscle in her body shaking like a leaf. That reaction was not the one she'd expected. At all. From either Higurashi. Gramps being upset she could understand but Mama? Always cheerful, understanding Mama? And now Gramps was acting like...

This was the world's worst Freaky Friday. It had to be.

"Kagome, have I ever told you how your grandmother and I got married?" Gramps hummed as he got out of his chair in a very elderly fashion. Kagome shook her head and looked a hair away from crying.

"We eloped," Gramps chuckled softly before looking Inuyasha dead in the eye and added with obvious intent, "Her family didn't approve of a poor shrine boy who'd been injured in the war. I believe she never spoke to them again."

And with that the old man turned and hobbled into the kitchen without another word while Kagome officially lost the battle and broke down.

Chapter Text

Mama sighed heavily as she lowered the brush in her hand. Mistakes had been made here tonight. Potentially irreversible mistakes. Them coming and announcing they'd gotten married and need birth control after the fact had just been the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back.

For almost two years now Kagome had been going back and forth through the well. Still going to school. Still having something resembling a normal life. There was still the hope that her only daughter might one day have a life here in this era. That there was a future here in this world. Then Kagome came home with the one thing that helped her mother sleep at night completely shattered beyond repair and with news that made any chance Kagome might one day have a normal life vanish in a cloud of smoke.

The knowledge that Inuyasha protected her daughter had always brought her comfort. He seemed so sturdy , so unbreakable but he wasn't and the fact that this seemingly invincible man was crippled sent her into a state of terror. That could easily have been Kagome. And then to top it all off, they'd gotten married without telling her. Lied to her about parts of it too and her ability to cope snapped. They would stay on his side. Her baby girl would be gone and there was a very real fear her daughter died centuries ago. That she'd never see her daughter again and that a version of her was dead.

Motherly instinct kicked in full force at the thought and the desire to save Kagome wiped out all reason. The man who had given her peace of mind was now a threat. The ultimate threat.

And now...

Now she might not see her daughter again much sooner than expected, if such a thing was expected at all, and Kagome might live the rest of her life hating her mother.

Somehow she needed to fix this but would a simple apology suffice. Should she try to explain? That might just make this situation that much worse.

"Hana, are you awake?" came Gramp's voice through the door and Mama sighed.

"Yes, come in."

Gramps opened the door, hobbled in and shut it behind him. Clasping his hands behind his back, he began.

"I understand your concerns," he murmured gently as he gave her an empathetic look, "But you handled that situation poorly. They trusted you and you broke that trust."

"I know," Mama replied shakily as she turned to face him - head hung in shame, "I just...I never expected Kagome would do something like that. Sleeping with him and then just assuming I'd...just assuming there was a safe guard. That there'd be no consequences. That is spoiledbehavior."

"And yet that isn't what you said," Gramps pointed out, "That very much sounds like a justification for telling your daughter she couldn't love that boy right in front of him. What did you honestly expect her to say?"

"I don't know," Mama huffed as she buried her face in her hands, "I just want her to have a normal life. In at least one way."

"Kagome was never destined for a normal life," Gramps opined as he sat on the edge of the bed, "She was born to meet that boy and he was born to meet her. This quest is just a means to that end."

"I knew she loved him," Mama sighed heavily as she moved to sit next to her father in law and played with her hands, "But I couldn't argue with something like a magical well that only lets her through. Against a quest that required her to be there. I knew I couldn't stop her from going and I'd accepted that. I've heard the story a thousand times. The jewel was destroyed by a miko who had ties to our shrine. I know the ending. I know she'll win. But this...this wasn't part of that legend."

"But the fact that the legend hasn't changed means she won't give up. That all of it will work out," Gramps hummed before chiding gently, "What you said was cruel. You made it clear you disapproved of him. A boy who no doubt has had a very hard life that seems to only get harder. Who has been 'broken' as he put it. You punished Kagome for the crime of loving someone like him."

"They're too young," Mama argued lamely and Gramps gave her a patient look.

"In this era perhaps but in his time, no," he opined, "And Kagome isn't a child anymore. She's battle hardened and has dealt with things we cannot even imagine. As for him...I think he's much, much older than he looks."

"And the possibility he's decades older than her is supposed to make me feel better how?"

" Demons may age slower. Maturity wise, he's most like around Kagome's age," Gramps offered thoughtfully, "Or say he ages like she does in which case he's twenty at most."

"Physically but he just does such impulsive things. He blew up our kitchen to kill a cockroach," Mama groaned, "And the cockroach lived! He didn't even hit it! It crawled out of the rubble!"

"So where was this anger then?"

"You weren't angry either," Mama accused and Gramps nodded.

"That's not what I asked."

"Houses can be fixed," Mama spat back defensively, "A baby is permanent. And he didn't even think about that. All they cared about was..."

"Passion sometimes overrides judgment," Gramps laughed softly, "And I imagine Kagome was the instigator. I doubt it was his idea."

"Why are you trying to paint him as this shy boy? He has never been timid. He's obstinate and forceful if anything," Mama challenged and Gramps sighed.

"Inuyasha has always been eager to please," he countered, "I ask him to help me with the shed and he does so without question. Have you ever asked him to do something and had him refuse?"

Mama sighed heavily and closed her eyes in pain.

"No."

"Inuyasha has had a hard life," Gramps repeated his earlier sentiment as Mama gave him a withering side eyed glare, "I think his behavior is a coping mechanism but he's a naturally sweet albeit stubborn person. He is Kagome in male form. It is a good match."

"I'm not saying it's not," Mama groaned, "Just not right now. She's still in school."

"Kagome has not attended school more than three weeks combined this semester," Gramps chuckled, "I'm running out of excuses and truth be told, Kagome would benefit more from home schooling if continuing school is necessary at all."

"So you'd have her drop out then? You'd have her become a house wife?" Mama hissed - anger rising and Gramps shook his head.

"If you consider the life she's been living housewifery," Gramps pointed out with a sly smile, "When is the last time you slew a demon? Healed a wound with nothing more than a first aid kit? Come home with battle scars?"

"Married a boy who had his arm ripped off and his spine broken," Mama supplied miserably, "Who shed blood for me time and time again. Got injured so I didn't have to. I know..."

Mama sighed heavily.

"I know they've been though a lot together," she began quietly, "I know they love each other. This just isn't what I wanted for her. She's still so young. She has her whole life ahead of her. And..."

"And it's Kagome's life to live," Gramps reminded his daughter in law softly, "Children grow up. Kagome has been forced to grow up. She has committed to a life long relationship with that boy and he's done the same. They know what they've signed up for. They know what they've done. They're not children."

"Adults think of the consequences of their actions and children don't," Mama huffed defensively and Gramps made a noise of disapproval.

"I think you're giving adults too much credit. Many don't consider consequences of their actions," Gramps hummed as he gave Mama a pointed look, "But thankfully they had enough sense to try to remedy their mistakes. Those two could have just assumed the risk and come to you in ninth months with a baby in their arms. I'm not saying what they did wasn't foolish but they trusted you not to judge them too harshly. To perhaps even be happy they got married or, at a mimimim, be understanding. Kagome may have been..."

He let out a long sigh.

"Kagome may have been a little foolish to have believed you would not be upset."

Mama pursed her lip and gave her father-in-law a side eyed glare.

"But Inuyasha knew how you'd react and he came anyway. Because they needed assistance only you could provide. Even though he knew you'd be angry, he trusted you to help them."

"He didn't act like he thought I'd be angry. He acted shocked."

"I would be too if someone I trusted suddenly acted like I was less than the ground she walked on after years of treating me like a son."

"I wasn't that harsh.."

"You were. Understandably so but you were," Gramps sighed before gently patting Mama's back, "But he'll forgive you. The issue will be earning back Kagome's trust."

"Oh so he'll forgive and trust me instantly but Kagome won't?"

"Kagome...Kagome is a wonderful child but she does tend to hold a grudge," Gramps laughed softly, "As for Inuyasha, I imagine has been called much worse than immature and impulsive. And you had a legitimate reason to be angry. He'll accept your apology, apologize himself and think nothing more of it."

"I think you're projecting," Mama opined knowingly, "Inuyasha isn't you."

"Perhaps I am," Gramps laughed softly as he got to his feet, "Have a good night Hana."

"Night," Mama mumbled as she played with her hands. A part of her felt guilty. Not for being upset. No, not for that reason at all. She felt guilty for how she handled it. For how she'd expressed herself. There had to be a happy medium, right? Or maybe it was all or nothing. Either way maybe all of this would make more sense in the morning.

xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Miroku sighed heavily as he stared up into the moonless sky and tried to stay calm. There was some ulterior motive to Kikyo's presence. Had to be. Something the others were missing. For the past half-hour, this undead woman had attempted to get into his good graces but every word that left her mouth only served to sew seeds of doubt.

"Surely, at first, you too had misgivings about him," Kikyo pressed awkwardly and Miroku cast her a quick side-eyed glare.

"Not that I recall."

"Did Inuyasha not attack you without provocation?" Kikyo asked hesitantly, "Perhaps threatened you? Attempted to steal the jewel shards you possessed?"

"I do not know where you are getting your information but it does not appear to be from a reputable source," Miroku sighed as he continued staring into the distance, "I kidnapped Kagome for her jewel shards and Inuyasha came to fetch her. I tried to kill Inuyasha and thankfully, Kagome prevented that. His actions were understandable and I was in the wrong. I hold no grudges towards him for the circumstances under which we met."

"The slayer then. Surely, Inuyasha attempted to kill her?"

Miroku rolled his eyes.

"Quite the contrary," he huffed before giving the undead priestess a suspicious once over, "Is there a particular reason you are curious as to our origins?"

"I merely find the relationship between yourselves and Inuyasha curious. It's in his nature to be violent and yet this does not seem to bother any of you," Kikyo mumbled sheepishly, "I had to stop him from killing humans multiple times when we were together."

"Did they try to kill him first?" Miroku supplied dryly and Kikyo sighed.

"Their target was typically myself but..."

"And he let them live?" Miroku laughed once in disbelief.

"Of course. Inuyasha was obedient," Kikyo humphed defensively as though that explained everything while the monk merely stared at her with wide, suddenly understanding eyes.

"Obedient," Miroku repeated quietly as he gave Kikyo a quick appraising glance, "I don't understand."

"As with most dogs, you need to be firm with them," Kikyo explained with a soft sigh and Miroku's nostrils flared, "Set clear boundaries. Reinforce the behavior you want."

"I see," the monk mumbled emotionlessly. Miroku's grip tightened on his staff as Kikyo began casually naming elements of Inuyasha's personality she found unappealing and how she 'fixed' that back in the day. And she laughed. She laughed like she honestly believed what she was saying would be considered normal. Charming even.

With each example Miroku's ire grew. Truth be told, he had been certain of the true nature of Kikyo and Inuyasha's relationship for some time. It just wasn't possible that their current dynamic would undergo such a dramatic change. Illogical that a healthy relationship would transform into something borderline cruel and be equally palatable.

It had taken the monk a while to put his finger on what was actually happening. Inuyasha - the strong, stubborn, seemingly confident man he was - would become this soft spoken, shy, insecure boy at the mere sight of a soul collector. It had been such a contradiction it nearly gave the poor monk whiplash the first time their little group had a Kikyo encounter.

Miroku had never met a man in that situation and it initially struck him as odd but there was no doubt in his mind what was truly happening. Everyone could see Inuyasha had some type of hang up and sadly, Miroku seemed to be the only one who recognize co-dependency for what it was.

Kikyo distorted the truth and brow beat the hanyou with her version of events until he began to believe it himself. Convincing the poor man that he deserved to go to hell because her death was somehow his fault. That he was not good enough in his natural form and therefore needed to be something else. Pushed the narrative that his personality was also undesirable so Inuyasha edited and dismantled himself. Kikyo still kept tabs on where he was and what he was doing at virtually all times. Inuyasha never bat an eyelash and clearly thought that stalking him was a perfectly normal thing for her to do which most likely meant it was happening fifty years ago as well. Kikyo created the beads for Inuyasha while they were courting. Not because he was a threat but because she wanted to control him. She had needed something stronger than words to get her damaging message across and just the fact she'd gone through the effort of creating them mitigated any argument that, by thinking better of placing them on her betrothed, she was not a monster.

Ah, yes, Miroku has seen enough women in that situation to call a duck a duck. Kikyo abused Inuyasha. Took advantage of an emotionally fragile man who desperately wanted a place to belong after a lifetime of aimless wandering. Their whole relationship was sick.

And now this disgusting excuse of a human being was trying to convince him to put Inuyasha on a proverbial leash.

"Is there some point to this?" Miroku interrupted acidly and Kikyo looked like she very seriously regretted saying anything.

"I was trying to make conversation," the undead miko mumbled as she stared at her lap and played with her hands. Letting out a calming breath, Miroku merely wrinkled his nose and shook his head while angry sapphire eyes glared up at the sky.

xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Leaning down, Inuyasha kissed Kagome's forehead before letting his head fall back against the wall. His hand gently stroking her hair as he'd done for the last hour. Honestly, he didn't know what she'd expected. He might not be right about a lot of things but he'd been sure of this. Kagome's mother had been right in so many ways. They'd even admitted as much that morning. They hadn't thought it through. Not being together. That was a certainty. The sex was optional. Worth it but technically optional. No matter how any of this turned out, though, if he had the same choice to make, he'd make it again and again and again. No matter the consequences. It was the purest expression of love he'd ever known and he wouldn't give that memory up for the world.

And yet it hurt him that she was hurting. Kagome had been sobbing into his chest, hands fisted in robe as she curled up into a ball in his lap, while he held her in silence, rocking her slowly and felt tears dampen the fabric. He knew it wasn't about him but that didn't stop the anxiety settling in his gut. He wished more than anything he'd been wrong about her mother being upset. But he wasn't and here they were.

Glancing at the window, he watched with grim anticipation as the sun began to dip below the horizon and he began to feel wave upon wave of human emotions crashing down on him like a waterfall. The pain in his leg too seemed to skyrocket and now the leg currently supporting the woman atop it screamed in protest. Exhaling shakily, he closed his eyes and tried to will the sensation away but it was as stubborn as his mind and seemed to gain momentum as the sky slowly turned to black.

"Kagome...I need you to get off my leg," he managed as his human transformation completed before hissing in pain when the sudden loss of her weight seemed to add fuel to the fire. Letting out a shaky breath, Inuyasha quickly pulled her back into his lap, "Never mind. Never mind. Stay there."

"Your leg hurts?" she sniffled and he nodded faintly as he tried to control his shaky breathing. The pressure of her body seemed to be helping though and lowering the electric shocks to an acceptable level.

"Pressure helps?" Kagome clarified as she cleared her throat and he nodded again. Wiping the lingering tears from her eyes, she gave him a reassuring albeit watery smile, "Here lay down. Let me massage it. That might help."

"Can't keep your hands off me, huh" he teased weakly as he continued focusing on keeping his breathing steady.

"Guess not," she hummed before cupping his face and tilting his head down. Placing a suggestive kiss on his lips, she added with a smirk as one hand gently ran over his thigh, "I can think of a few other ways to help if you're up to it."

"Who are you?" Inuyasha laughed softly and Kagome shrugged before dipping down once more. He smiled a little as he let her kisses continue. Slowly at first then gaining in strength. And then her lips subtly vacated their purchase in favor trailing up his jaw and tugging gently at his ear lobe. The sensation was heavenly and a soft moan soon escaped his lips without permission.

This was definitely something that could only be done when he was human. Each gentle pull made his toes curl and a moan rise in his throat. It also made him extremely turned on which was a problem all things considered.

God dammit, why couldn't he have thought of them having babies until tomorrow? If this felt so different, he couldn't imagine what sex would feel like human. Groaning in frustration, he tilted his head away and reached up to cover his ear.

"See your Mom was right," Inuyasha teased breathlessly as he tried to calm himself down, "I'm a bad influence."

A flash of anger exploded behind Kagome's eyes as she scowled, "She doesn't know what she's talking about."

Ah hell. That had just poured out of his mouth like word vomit. True to form for the impulsive jackass he was.

"Dammit I just meant..."

"I know what you meant and if anyone is a bad influence it's me!" Kagome clipped back before blushing furiously and clapping her hand across her mouth.

"I knew it," Inuyasha snickered as he gave her an adoring look, "You've always been the bad one. I just go along with it."

Kagome gave him a sour look and rolled her eyes.

"Inuyasha..."

"What?" he asked as innocently as he could before flinching when his leg reminded him it was not happy with its present condition. Biting his lip, he managed to keep his slightly flirtatious look alive - or at least what he hoped looked slightly flirtatious - and Kagome smiled before capturing his ear again.

A particularly perfect tug had his hips bucking involuntarily and a whimper soon followed. Damn woman. She was trying to seduce him and it was totally working. It'd always bothered him in the past how sensitive he was to pain in this form but it never even occurred - okay maybe it did a little - how sensitive he was to pleasure as well. It wouldn't be so bad to let this continue, his mind whispered. Or rather his dick argued as it throbbed in protest to what his mind was actually saying.

In that moment, a traitorous part of him remembered that her mom was getting her the...pill. The pill that prevented pregnancy. So would it be so bad to just say to hell with it?

Would it really?

"We...no, Kagome. Ya know...your mom," he mumbled distractedly as his lips parted and his body sagged. This was going to end up so badly. Her mom was probably going to come into apologize or some shit and they'd be in the middle of something good. That and the fact that Kagome was being so aggressive - while extremely arousing - was probably not out of desire but spite. Which probably wasn't good.

Not that he necessarily cared whether it was a healthy reaction or not. It was more...oh fuck she was good at this.

"I don't care. You honestly think I wasn't looking forward to exploring your human body?" she whispered seductively as she began pushing the firerat off his shoulders and he hummed appreciatively as her fingertips grazed his skin.

"Same body ya know," Inuyasha breathed as he arched into her touch.

"Your skin is softer," she purred. Momentarily distracted, he furrowed his brow and tried to figure out what that meant.

"Is it normally hard or something?" he asked as insecurity welled in his gut and Kagome shook her head.

"Just different. Not good or bad," she hummed before dipping down to place a long lingering kiss in his lips that had what little resolve he had left wavering.

"We need to stop. Your mom is downstairs," he argued weakly before moaning when her hand trailed over his quivering stomach. When her hand made contact with that part which needed her touch the most, he allowed himself to enjoy it for just a moment before he exhaled shakily and shook his head.

"Dammit Kag..." he tried before a strangled gasp escaped him when she gripped him tightly.

"Kag..."

It took every ounce of control he had to finally pry her away but as he did, his hips shifted and any thoughts of continuing were suddenly wiped from his mind. A subtle jerk of his body as a particularly nasty jolt shot through him had Kagome grimacing.

"Sorry. That wasn't hurting you, was it?" she whispered affectionately as she placed a soft kiss against his lips and slowly helped him lay down on the bed, "Lets see if we can do something about your leg."

"What you were doing wasn't hurting me. Just my stupid leg doing stupid shit," Inuyasha groaned as he complied and pouted up at her while his leg decided to put the final nail in his arousal. Grimacing, he sighed and shook his head, "Ya know, of all the dumb things I've done in my life, running into the forest that night has to be in the top three."

"Silver lining though. If you hadn't then I never would have had the courage to tell you I love you and then you wouldn't have a wife," Kagome argued and he huffed.

"I could've done something to get us there," he countered as Kagome began untying his pants and pulling them down to get better access to the painfully tingling leg, "I would've told you eventually."

"Would you?" Kagome hummed knowingly as she got up and grabbed a bottle of lotion, "Because I don't think you would've."

Inuyasha rolled his eyes, "I can use words ya know. I told you I needed you. I did that."

"Yeah and I didn't understand what you meant. Just like you didn't understand when I promised to stay by your side. Neither of us are good at communicating," Kagome sighed sadly before putting all her weight behind her hands and kneading his skin, "Let me know if it's too much, okay?"

"Just do it," he sighed before flinching subtly as the pain seemed to increase ten fold. Inuyasha was no stranger to pain in any form and a lifetime had made him an expert in handling it but here alone with her, he wanted to be honest. Besides, she always got a kick out of healing him and she needed the distraction so why not react a little? Plus there was the added benefit that he didn't have to use words. Words were not his forte. And she wouldn't get any more ideas. Ideas he was alsohaving. Win, win for all parties.

Okay maybe not a win but...

Taking deep steadying breaths, one eye twitched behind its lid when the headache that had been gone suddenly began to creep back in like the monster that it was. This was going to be a long night. A night he should've spent screwing his brains out. Instead, he killed any chance of that and now was being tortured by his own body. Maybe Kagome could just whack him with a hammer so he'd pass out and not feel anymore. That'd be nice.

"Is this helping at all?" Kagome asked softly as she began moving downwards and he shrugged. It wasn't but he accepted this was just his life now. As if he needed anotherreason to hate the new moon. Could've discovered a reason to like being human but noooo...he had to be all reasonable and shit.

"There any way I can convince you to just knock me out?" he sighed heavily before jerking slightly when she pressed against something that sent a bolt of lightning down to his toes. At the reaction and his words, she paused.

"What?"

"You know just hit me real hard," he commented half-playful and half-deadly serious. His hand tapped the area just behind his ear as he glanced at her mildly horrified face, "Right here."

"I'm not going to hit you," Kagome gasped before her mouth popped open in horror, "Wait, how do you know that'll knock someone out?!"

Inuyasha gave her a patient look before rolling his eyes.

"Oh I don't know Kagome," he snorted sarcastically, "Maybe it's because it's been Inuyasha versus death my whole life. You learn a thing or two after a couple decades of everyday battles."

"Well I'm not going to knock you out," Kagome huffed as she went back to massaging his leg, "That's stupid. Besides you never sleep on the night of the new moon."

"Yeah but I've never been in your time and as far as I can tell, there's not a bunch of murderous assholes here," Inuyasha sighed exasperatedly, "I'll get knocked out if I want to get knocked out."

"Well you're going to have to figure that out on your own," Kagome sighed as she got to the bottom of his leg and began working her way back up, "I'm not doing it."

"What if I ask nicely?" he teased and Kagome gave him a side-eyed glare.

"No."

"Pretty please knock the shit out of me?"

"No."

"But I'm in pain," he whined playfully and Kagome rolled her eyes.

"You're being dramatic," she sighed heavily as she continued gently kneading his muscle, "I know it hurts and I'm sorry it does but that doesn't mean you need to get hit in the head. You have enough problems; you don't need brain damage too."

"Don't make decisions for me," he clipped back as he tried to hide his grin and failed, "Maybe I want brain damage. Didn't think of that, did you?"

"I'd say you're immature but after tonight, I think I might never say that again," Kagome huffed and Inuyasha's smile faded.

"Hey, come here" he sighed as he reached up and gently encouraged her to lay atop him. Squeezing her lightly, he continued in a slightly encouraging tone, "I think...I think your mom will come around. I mean, this is a lot to spring on someone. And your grandfather has already decided it's okay."

"I knew they eloped; I just thought it was for a romantic reason," Kagome opined softly - her hand scratching idly at his chest causing shivers to run down his spine, "I didn't know it was because her family rejected them. I mean, it makes sense. I don't know anyone from that side of the family."

The proximity of her body had Inuyasha cursing himself. He could feel himself getting excited all over again and all she was doing was laying there. Stupid human body just doing what it wanted. Okay what he wanted in general but that was beside the point.

"Yeah and he doesn't want to end up in that position," Inuyasha pointed out as he subtly rocked his hips against her to lessen the ache. Another poor decision at it turned out. Groaning in frustration, he tried to distract himself and her by continuing, "Your mom might have an issue with it but your grandfather will put a stop to that. I mean, I know in your time it's different but he is still the elder. She'll listen to him."

"Maybe."

"I wonder what he'll get me," Inuyasha hummed thoughtfully as he stroked her hair and tried to quash the fire burning in his veins. Even the pain wasn't dousing his desire. He just needed to focus on something else. To think with his brain instead of his dick, "You didn't tell me I was using the cane wrong."

"How was I supposed to know?" Kagome laughed softly, "A cane is a cane."

"Hate the damn thing anyway. Maybe he'll get me something else," Inuyasha sighed. For a moment they lay silent. The position was surprisingly calm until he felt Kagome smile against his skin and she gently ground her hips against his earning a soft whine.

"Kagome stop. Honestly we probably shouldn't do that on.." he paused and cleared his throat, "Now. We can't do that right now. I mean your...your mom might come in."

That wasn't what he meant to say. Well it was and it wasn't. He didn't want to add fuel to the angry mom dumpster fire but it also suddenly had occurred to him that he didn't want to produce a human baby or risk producing a human baby rather. And really he didn't even if he really wanted to be inside her. That realization had him wrinkling his nose. Maybe it was a good thing he'd thought of potential babies when he did. Otherwise that could've been a bigger issue. Kagome had gotten hurt how many times trying to protect him? It was hard enough to keep Kagome from throwing herself on that sword on a good day. He shuddered to think how hard it would be to prevent her bad decisions if they had a humanbaby. Or any baby actually. Why did he want kids again?

"Well you need to put pants on then," Kagome sighed dejectedly as she got up much to his relief. Closing his eyes he began running disturbing images through his mind to lessen the throbbing problem and as the sounds of Kagome rifling through a drawer hit his ears, the disturbing vision of Sesshomaru fondling Naraku played in his mind. His hard on disappeared almost instantly, which solved one issue, but Inuyasha imagined that image would haunt his nightmares.

"Here. I've got some PJ bottoms."

Sighing heavily, Inuyasha accepted the garment and awkwardly put them on. Laying back down, he gestured at Kagome to join him and soon she was securely spooned.

"When did you get these" he teased.

"Last time you fell asleep on my bed."

"But no shirt?"

"I like eye candy. What I can I say?"

Inuyasha scrunched up his nose at the unfamiliar phrase as he ran his fingers through his hair.

"Can't argue with that I guess," he mumbled as he closd his eyes. Truth be told, this position was worth a thousand painful throbs. Of all kinds.

"Does you leg still hurt?"

"I'll live," he breathed as his consciousness mercifully ebbed. Yawning, he draped his arm across her stomach - a small smile toying with his lips at the always surprising knowledge that this would be his life now. Curled up with the woman he loved. Night after night. Forever and always. Adjusting himself, he hesitantly cupped her breast - which he had every right to do and which she didn'tseem to mind - before mumbling tiredly, "Love you."

For a moment he waited to see her reaction to his bold move. Yes, they were married and yes, he'd literally been inside of her but he still felt nervous. A part of him worrying he was going too far or was misreading signals. Would she push him away or get angry he was fondling her? And then his heart swelled and he absolutely melted when he felt Kagome's fingers intertwine with his and she snuggled deeper into his embrace.

It would never cease to amaze him that this was his life now.

"Love you too."

He laughed tiredly and buried his nose in the nape of her neck.

And what a wonderful life this would be.

Chapter Text

Bouncing his good leg anxiously, Inuyasha tried to calm his nerves before they went down for breakfast. Even though he knew her mom probably definitely hated him, a part of him still wanted to win her over. With his non-existent people skills. Which was going to go over great. What could go wrong?

"Inuyasha if she tries anything, I'll just punch her and we can make a run for it," Kagome offered as she tried to hold back her playful grin but failed miserably. Trying to continue her tease, she punched at the air with a falsely serious face and made a 'pow pow' noise.

"I love you," Inuyasha laughed softly as he gave her an adoring smile, "But maybe leave the punching to me. Even with one arm I'm better at it. That's what I do."

His smile faltered as he closed his eyes and amended, "Did. It's what I did."

The light atmosphere dissipated instantly and Kagome sighed.

"Inuyasha listen to me," she whispered affectionately as she plopped down next to him, "You can still punch people. Nothing's stopping you from punching people."

"I'm not punching your mom," Inuyasha chuckled darkly, "I mean I still want her to like me. Punching her would hurt my cause."

"Inuyasha you're my husband whether she likes you or not," Kagome huffed angrily as she got to her feet and threw open her closet door, "You know. I have half a mind to just drop out of school and..."

"Don't do that. I want you to keep going. I would've killedto go to a school like yours," the half-demon cleared his throat as a blush grew on his cheeks, "I can't read you know. Not really. I know enough to get by. Mother tried to teach me but...well it's been awhile."

"If you don't use it you lose it," Kagome hummed knowingly as she began riffling through her clothes, "If you want maybe we can do lessons or something."

"I'd like that," he admitted - eternally relieved that she didn't seem to care. It had always been a point of insecurity for him and a large part of why he'd fought her so much about going back home. She was already so much smarter than he was. While he was jealous of her education, he was more worried that the gap between them would only grow larger and so he maybe kinda intentionally tried to set her back. Which was unhealthy and dickish and bad. It was just…he was ignorant of so many things while she already seemed to know everything. Or at least most things. Some of the things she knew. Okay, what mattered is that she knew more random things than he did. That was the point.

"Well to be honest, if Mama gives me an ultimatum I've pretty much decided I'd just drop out. Its not like I'll need any of that in the feudal era anyway," Kagome huffed suddenly and Inuyasha whipped his head towards her with mildly horrified eyes.

"Wait, what? No," he blurted out in mild panic, "You can't just drop out Kagome. What if…"

His heart sank as he tried to voice the worst case scenario.

"What if the well closes? You…you'll need to know these things to live here," he managed hoarsely and Kagome froze.

"The well won't close," she replied softly after a moment as she continued sorting through her hanging clothes, "That'd be a super shitty thing to happen and I refuse to believe the world is so cruel."

"Really?" Inuyasha laughed once in disbelief – both at her language and her opinion, "Really? The world isn't that cruel? Please explain that logic to me."

Letting her hand drop, Kagome turned to face him with a sad little smile.

"Inuyasha I refuse to…" she began slowly, "I refuse to believe that will happen. And if it does I will spend every minute of every day trying to get back to you, okay?"

Amber eyes searched her face for a moment before he sighed and shook his head.

"If it closes, don't do that," he asked quietly as he closed his eyes in pain, "I don't want you to spend your whole life waiting for me. Or…or to be alone forever. I'd want you to be happy. Even if it's not with me."

Sighing, Kagome quickly crossed the room and knelt down. Cupping his chin, her thumb ran across his cheek.

"You'll never be alone again," she swore, "I promise."

"I will one day," he pointed out quietly before inhaling sharply, "Wait, no. Not that I think you'll leave on purpose. It's just...I'm a half-demon ya know? I'll...I'll outlive you?"

Based on his expression, he regretted his comment instantly. Amber eyes screamed mild horror and his whole body subtly shrank kept glancing at her like he thought that this revelation would be the thing to change her mind about their whole relationship. Either due to what he'd said or the general 'open mouth insert foot'way about him. Everything about his body language screamed mortification and insecurity. Apparently once you got the anger and cockiness out of the way, awkwardness became his most prevalent personality trait. Which was adorable in a way but also terrible in many others.

"Shit, just..." he groaned as he reached up and pulled her hand away, "Just forget I said anything. I don't..."

"We'll figure out a way," Kagome interrupted and he gave her a relieved smile that turned into a skeptical smirk when she continued, "Or maybe having the jewel in my body did something and I'll live forever."

"That would also suck," he teased in an attempt to lighten the tension he'd inflicted, "Then you'd outlive me."

"Okay well…I'll figure something else out," Kagome huffed before kissing him and getting to her feet, "There's got to be a way. Demons fall in love with humans all the time. Someone figured it out. I mean, why was Kogachasing after me if he didn't know some way to…"

"We are not asking Koga," Inuyasha chuckled darkly "I don't care what the cost might be but we're not asking Koga."

"Fair."

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Bleary-eyed and almost dead on her feet, Sango tried to eat but found her desire was lacking. Despite the few hours she'd managed to doze while Miroku watched, her dreams had been plagued with images of things she feared would come to pass. Death. Destruction. Mayhem. Waking up was almost a relief. But now she was half-thinking of just killing Kikyo if only to take a worry-free nap. No one would blame her. No one.

Okay they might judge her a little. Maybe. Inuyasha might get a little pissed but in his current state Sango was confident she could beat him in a fight so that was a non-issue. Or more likely a bigger one. And then there was Kaede...

"Do you find it curious that Kagome has not removed the beads?" Kikyo asked suddenly and the possibility of killing the undead miko grew exponentially more likely.

"I beg your pardon?" Sango clipped back harshly as her chopsticks froze mid-air, "Just what are you trying to say?"

"I'm merely saying with him as injured as he is, I find it odd that she hasn't removed the beads. He is not a threat any longer," Kikyo explained casually as she pet her a soul collector. Nostrils flaring, Sango began thinking of ways to make a murder look like an accident. Was this undead bitch serious right now? 'Any longer.' What a joke.

"He wants them on," the slayer replied with no lack of bite, "She offered and he said no. That's why they're still on."

"And she told you this, did she?"

"I was there!" Sango hissed as she set down her bowl in favor of fingering the boomerang laying out next to her, "I was there and I heard the whole thing so whatever you're trying to sell, I'm not buying it."

"I was merely curious," the undead miko replied defensively, "I meant no harm."

"Sure you didn't," Sango snorted as she glanced at the door and prayed Miroku overheard this conversation. While she knew he'd believe her if she said this happened, it would do wonders if two of them said this to Inuyasha rather than one. He always had a soft spot for this woman which confused them all to no end. Why on earth did he cling to her so much? Defend her time and time again? It made absolutely no sense. As far as Sango could tell this undead woman was one of the worst beings she'd ever had the displeasure of meeting. Top three at least. And considering she'd met Naraku, his reincarnations tons of demons and loads of evil men that said a lot.

Maybe if she pushed Kikyo over that fake body might just break? Just a tiny itty bitty very forceful push...

"What a lovely morning this is. Wouldn't you agree?" the undead miko wisely tried to change the subject, "Do you think Kagome and Inuyasha will return sometime today?"

Or maybe a training accident. Boomerang 'accidentally' returning on a certain trajectory...

"They usually come back after three days," Sango huffed as she eyed the undead miko speculatively, "This time might be longer if they take him to a healer."

"Are there not healers here? And why does Kagome not tend to his injuries herself?" Kikyo asked skeptically as her eyes narrowed, "If she lacks the knowledge, I am fullycapable of…"

Straight up good old fashioned murder and a hasty clean up would also work. Miroku would definitely help destroy the evidence if she asked. Maybe he'd even help with the murder part.

"Just shut up. Please," the slayer interrupted tersely as she picked her bowl up and began stirring her food with her chopsticks, "I'm trying to eat."

xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

This was going to be the longest and most awkward day of her life. Kagome was sure of it. Not only had Inuyasha left her alone with her mother – to be fair it was to go buy something to help him walk – but her mother hadn't said more than two words to her all morning. Okay…Mama had said 'the appointment is at eleven' and 'we have cereal.' Technically speaking that was more that was more than two words.

And now the witching hour was fast approaching.

"Grab your umbrella," Mama ordered as she headed towards the door, "It looks like rain."

Okay…that was…seven more words. That was a good start.

Kagome nodded mutely as she got up off the couch and headed to the coat closet. If Mama was being this judgy, she couldn't even begin to imagine the lecture she was going to get from their doctor. Which was bullshit anyway. Why wasn't this like the US where you could just go to your pharmacist and get a pill over the counter. But no. You had to go see a doctor, get shamed and then get to go to the pharmacist to get a very expensive pill. And other pills because god forbid you have sex. Honestly, Kagome had half a mind to just go to a vending machine and clear it out of condoms. Except then she'd have to explain to Inuyasha how to use one and to be honest, she wasn't entirely sure how to put one on either. Still an idea though.

"You do realize this easy fix doesn't always work, right?" Mama asked in a very strained tone as they walked towards the shrine exit, "Have you even thought that far ahead?"

Sighing heavily, Kagome gave her mother a side-eyed glare.

"That's our business," the younger Higurashi replied pettily, "But yes we have."

Technically true. Ish.

"Kagome I..." Mama began as she paused just short of the shrine gate, "While I'm disappointed in you, I also understand that...that in his time it's different. But here you're still in school. You're still a minor. And I worry you're throwing your life away."

"Where was this concern when I first started going through the well?" Kagome snorted, "Why is almost getting murdered on an almost daily basis moreacceptable than marrying someone I love?"

"Because I know you win the battle in the end," her mother replied with a resigned sigh, "You win. That's...that's what the legend says. I knew you wouldn't die. But this...this means you might stay in that time. Forever. That the life I always dreamed for you is never going to happen."

Blinking rapidly, Kagome merely gasped before she set her jaw in anger. This legend that somehow predicted their fate was an issue for a later time. She had bigger problems.

"So because you aren't getting what you want I get punished for it?"

"You had unprotected sex and came running home because you knew that was a mistake too," Mama clipped back defensively, "You know what you did was irresponsible. You knew better!"

"It was not a mistake to marry Inuyasha!" Kagome hissed evasively and Mama rolled her eyes.

"Not in general but yes, it was a mistake to have sex without protection," Mama huffed, "And it was a mistake to not wait until after you graduated from high school. It was a mistake to not even tell your family that you planned on getting married."

"And you would've said no anyway!" the daughter snorted, "You would have told him he couldn't marry me because of who he is and where he's from. You would have rejected him! You just said you wanted me to have a different life but guess what? It's not your life!"

"Don't put words in my mouth," Mama huffed, "I never said..."

"You know all this time I thought you saw him for the good man he is but you're no different than all the people who hate him back in his time for no reason," Kagome scoffed in disgust as her anger got the better of her, "He has lived his whole life with no one to love him. He sees you as a mother figure and you just..."

"I know he does!" Mama admitted as she visibly bristled, "And I love him like a son Kagome but I have a right to be upset! Any parent would be upset if their high school age child came home and announced they were married and then said oh yeah I need the morning after pill! That is upsetting on so many levels for so many reasons! That doesn't mean I hate him or you or anyone. I have a rightto be angry. To be disappointed."

Breathing heavily, Kagome tried to find an argument but came up short.

"I'm not sorry for marrying him," she settled on saying and Mama sighed.

"You made a lifetime commitment. I would hope you don't regret your choice after only a few days," her mother replied, "And I know you love each other. I do. And I know there's nothing I could have ever said to change that."

"As long as we're clear," Kagome replied as she tried to find a way to reach an uneasy truce. She did technically need that pill after all.

"I apologize for how I handled the situation," Mama replied as her own attempt at an olive branch, "I should've been calmer."

"I guess I'm sorry for...for not using protection," Kagome cleared her throat, "You're right. We should have thought that through."

For a moment both women fidgeted awkwardly.

"We better go," Mama sighed as she checked her watch, "Or we'll be late for your appointment."

And so they left.

Chapter Text

The embarrassment of that appointment had been absolute. Torture. Utter humiliation. The memory would be seared into his brain forever, ready to pop up and torment him again when he ever had a quiet moment. Not only had he been expected to strip but the so-called 'specialist' had seriously invaded his personal space boundaries. It was supposed to be about a cane. That's all it was supposed to be about. Instead he'd be poked and prodded and they got pictures of his bones using things he didn't understand and...other things. The "blood work" had to be the worst time he'd been stabbed by anything quite possibly ever. He very nearly passed out which was even more humiliating than the poking and prodding of his mostly bare body.

And, after being inspected like a calf for slaughter, they'd given him a crutch to use as a replacement for his useless leg along with something they called a 'brace' and some pills for the pain - which had done nothing except make him feel extremely groggy. In short, the experience just plain wasn't worth it.

The old man had meant well. Inuyasha knewhe meant well. Why else would the old man look as mortified as he felt? Why would he try to explain these things weren't necessary? But it was one senile old man trying to convince another they were being ridiculous so in the end Inuyasha had thrown himself on the sword. The healer was doing all of this as a favor anyway. Who was he to cause more drama than he'd already caused for Kagome's family? And now...

Now it was all he could do to crawl into Kagome's bed and bury himself under the covers while he prayed for a quick death. Or Kagome to arrive for cuddles. Cuddles sounded nice. Or maybe it was the drugs talking. Either way, he'd never say no to holding his woman's body against him.

That was the worst part. When he got home - mentally worn down and defeated - Kagome was not there. Not that it was her fault she wasn't or that he was mad about it. It was just...

He really needed her to make all of this better. To hold him and tell him it was okay. Which made him feel pathetic and weak and so much worse in the humiliation department.

A tear slid down his cheek against his will and he brushed it away. Bit his lip to keep it from trembling. There was some good that came from it, right? Some answers. Kikyo had been right that his spine hadn't been set correctly. Again he wasn't angry about the mistake. Kagome had done the best she could do under extremely traumatic circumstances.

He now knew that the painful feeling in his leg was caused from nerve damage and wasn't...was information he didn't have before. And he had Type AB blood whatever that meant. And he got a crutch which did make it easier to walk so that was something. So...so it wasn't all bad. Not great but not terrible.

So why did it feel bad?

Another tear slid free just as he heard Kagome's voice coming from outside. Pulling the covers over his head, he tried to compose himself as much as possible and psyche himself up. He'd been doing so much better in the crying like a little bitch department. And her mom...well he didn't need to add mentally unstable to the 'what a shity husband you make' list.. He just needed to keep his answers short and sweet and to the point. Maybe just have her talk and...

Sitting up, he clumsily tried to arrange himself on top of the covers so it didn't look like he'd just cocooned himself in there for the past hour. Just in time too.

"There you are," Kagome sighed in relief as she came into the room and shut the door behind her. Inuyasha's very forced smile cracked as sapphire eyes appraised him before the miko huffed and kicked off her shoes.

"Scoot over. I need some cuddles. That appointment was the worst," she explained as she quickly crossed the room and flopped down on top of him, "I don't even want to talk about it."

Sighing shakily in relief that he hadn't been the one to demand snuggle time, Inuyasha quickly arranged their bodies into a comfortable spoon and buried his nose in her neck.

"I missed you," she hummed affectionately and he mumbled the same before swallowing thickly.

"You got the...the things though, huh?" he asked hesistantly and she nodded, "Well that's good. Not a total waste then."

Kagome was infinitely glad he was just rolling with her fib. Truth be told, her appointment was easy and painless but the texts she'd received

from her grandfather had not been. Apology after apology, warning after warning had flooded her phone which had her both impressed and worried. Impressed that her grandfather even knew how texting worked and worried because Inuyasha's appointment seemed to be taking a turn for the worse.

"So..." the love of her life began, "Do you know what your blood is?"

"My blood?" Kagome asked and Inuyasha nodded, "I think B but I'm not sure. Why?"

"So, um, they took some of mine and tested it," he mumbled before gently dragging his fangs across her neck, "Mine was..."

"They did what now?"

That part had been suspiciously left out of the waterfall of texts.

"Tested my blood. Is that...is that not normal?" Inuyasha asked uneasily, "Should I have said..."

"It is normal but you're part demon, Inuyasha. What else did they say about it?"

"N-nothing. Well...the guy said all the results were normal but..." Inuyasha offered a little desperately while cursing himself for his stupidity, " I...I didn't think about youkai showing up. I'm...I'm sorry."

"Hey I'm not mad," Kagome soothed as she gathered him against her chest, "You know me. I just worry."

"Why though?" Inuyasha asked as he sank into her embrace, "I mean, I know...I know that how I look isn't...I mean I know demons aren't around but...this? I don't understand why..."

"So you remember those plays in the box?" Kagome asked after a nervous chuckle and Inuyasha nodded, "Some of the plays are about government agents kidnapping supernatural people. Running tests on them. That kind of thing."

"And you worry I'll be taken by your leaders," Inuyasha snorted, "Because someone took my blood."

"I don't know how it works. Maybe they have some giant computer thing that monitors all medical tests. Or maybe they like...they...oh I don't know. All I know is that in these shows..."

"Which you've told me time and time again aren't real..."

"Okay yes but also no," Kagome groaned and she felt him laugh silently, "I'm not saying it's rational. I'm just saying I don't want to deal with men in black coming to take you away. I'm a miko. I don't have..."

"Well even with one arm and one leg I could kill them all," Inuyasha snickered confidently and that tone has Kagome's heart swelling. She hadn't heard him talk like that in what seemed like forever. Ever since his injury, all he'd said was how useless he was. Now here he was talking like he could take on the world.

"I know but I still worry," Kagome cooed and Inuyasha hummed happily.

"Stupid woman. Always worrying."

For a long moment, they lay there in content silence before Inuyasha grinned against her chest.

"So..."

"So...?" Kagome laughed softly as she fondled one ear and she felt him shiver slightly.

"So how long do those herbs take to kick in?"

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

It was no matter. His business here was his own.

Sesshomaru could feel the water seeping through his pants leg but he paid it no mind. Glowing amber eyes continued to follow the path of the undoubtedly sadistic attack until they finally landed on a small protruding piece of rotten flesh.

It was surprising those so-called comrades of his left it behind. Had they learned nothing from their encounters with him? Only one hand could truly wield Tessaiga and they had left it for the taking without so much as a second thought.

Just the audacity of such an act. The recklessness. They were all as truly ignorant as he had always known they must be.

xoxoxxoxoxoxo

"You look how I feel," Mama laughed softly as she sunk onto the couch next to a very defeated looking Gramps, "The appointment didn't go well I take it."

"I had forgotten how thorough my friend was with his patients," Gramp admitted with a long sigh, "He dealt primarily with prosthetics. I never imagined he'd insist on a full physical."

"A full physical," Mama breathed as she instinctively glanced up the stairs, "Define full."

"Blood work. X-rays. The lot," Gramps mumbled as he pinched the bridge of his nose, "And the boy...I think he was trying to be helpful. Just said he'd go along with it all."

Mama's face fell and she looked somewhat guilty as she read between the lines.

"Because he didn't want to cause more problems," she sighed heavily, "He didn't want to hurt more relationships."

"It was partially my fault. I was getting upset about the tests when it was supposed to be a consultation only," Gramps admitted as he continued to pinch the bridge of his nose, "But yes. I believe Inuyasha thought by doing what was being asked of him that he was being a peacemaker. That he was...doing something helpful."

"We all know what happens when he does something helpful," Mama laughed dryly, "Ask Kagome's bike or our remodeled kitchen."

"Or the shelves in the storage room," Gramps added with an exasperated sigh, "He means well."

"I know he does," Mama acknowledged, "I know he does. But what did they say?"

"They said his bloodwork appeared normal," Gramps admitted though it was clear he didn't believe it, "Well relatively. Toma seemed rather keen on having Inuyasha donate plasma."

"Plasma..."

"Apparently the boy has a particularly rich store and his blood type makes him a suitable candidate," Gramps mused, "I wonder if that has something to do with his youkai."

"But nothing else was noticed," Mama asked quietly and Gramps shook his head, "Well...that's lucky."

"He did have high blood pressure. Toma suggested laying off salt," Gramps amended bemusedly, "But I think that suggestion went in one ear and out the other."

"So what did you come home with?" Mama asked and Gramps sighed.

"A crutch. A brace. Some pain medicine that only seemed to make him...emotional," Gramps replied uneasily.

"Emotional?"

"I doubt he even remembers. It affected him particularly hard at first and he shed a few tears that I highly doubt he meant for me to see on the way home," Gramps sighed heavily and pinched his nose once more, "And seemed rather out of it in general. I'm surprised he didn't simply pass out."

"Must be the plasma," Mama teased and Gramps let out a shaky laugh, "Well compared to that, Kagome's appointment was a cakewalk. Far less awkward from the sounds of things."

"But it was still awkward?" Gramps challenged and Mama sent him a chiding look.

"It is perfectly normal that I am upset - rightfully upset - that my teenage daughter had unprotected sex and got married without telling me first and I had to take her to a very uncomfortable, very expensive appointment," Mama huffed, "But I didn't beat a dead horse if that's what you're asking. What's done is done."

"Inuyasha loves Kagome," Gramps opined, "Very much. And she loves him."

"I'm not saying...I know they love each other. That doesn't mean I can't be upset," Mama groaned before adding playfully, "But I'm a big girl. I'll get over it."

"You need to let him know that," Gramps advised, "I think how you handled things upset him. He thinks of you as a mother of sorts and your reaction..."

"I said I'm upset, not that I handled the situation well," Mama snorted, "I am human and humans sometimes act irrationally."

"As do demons I am sure," Gramps hummed before his face turned deadly serious, "Hana you know I adore you but know I am perfectly serious when I say that I will not tolerate..."

"You think I don't know but believe it or not, your son told me why his mother's family was never to meet our children," Mama sighed heavily, "I have no intention of cutting them off."

"You didn't let me finish," Gramps advised and Mama pursed her lips, "I will not tolerate you acting like he's not your son. My son has been dead for over ten years now. Have I ever treated you as less worthy of my love, as anything other than my own daughter just because he is gone?"

Mama opened her mouth to argue and Gramps shook his head.

"The circumstances are not ideal but he is your son now as much as Kagome is your daughter," Gramps informed her sternly, "That boy sees you as a maternal figure. Has seen us all as an extension of the family he has found in Kagome. Would you have ever talked of Sōta in such a way?"

Mama sighed and rolled her eyes, "Inuyasha..."

"Has nearly died to make sure Kagome lives more times than probably even Kagome can count. Treat him with the respect he has earned," Gramps countered, "War may injure the body but words and action hurt the soul. Treat him like a part of this family or you may be the one who finds herself without one."

Mama gaped openly at her father-in-law who continued to glare at her before his expression relaxed.

"I do understand that you are upset and understandably so but consider your actions and your words carefully Hana," Gramps sighed as he patted her leg, "Don't become someone Kagome has to warn her children about in the future."

"You don't even know what was awkward about the appointment! How do you..."

"I may be old but I'm not senile quite yet," Gramps chuckled darkly, "There may be time to fix this. I would get started if I were you."

Chapter Text

Inuyasha hummed happily as he sat on the lip of the well and watched Kagome rummaging through her backpack. Stupid woman swore up and down that she'd 'printed' her latest assignment - that act of which had taken some explanation - but he couldn't remember her doing that for the life of him. He'd even said as much but she would be in denial her doing that had been a dream until the world ended.

"I know I put it in here," Kagome groaned as she continued taking out item after item, "I'll have to go back to school if it's not here."

"You couldn't just get on your con...computer and print the assignment again?" Inuyasha asked as he preened silently at having remembered the correct terminology and on top of that, said it casually enough to seem like he had some understanding. Which he didn't but it at least sounded like he did.

Kagome cast him an adoring, proud little smile before shaking her head.

"It was a one time only link," Kagome sighed miserably before quickly explaining, "I could only open the message once. I'd need to request another and..."

"That sounds complicated and wrong," Inuyasha snickered, "Why wouldn't you be able to read a message more than once?"

"I don't know. Ask the stupid people who run the school," Kagome huffed as she glanced up the stairs, "Maybe I left it inside. Or..."

"I bet you don't even have an assignment," Inuyasha teased as he watched her shoving her things back into her bag, "Besides you're never at school anyway. Can't you just say you were too sick and forgot and they'll forgive you like always."

The miko huffed and glared.

"They don't forgive me. I'm failing almost everything," she spat and he cringed.

"You can stay here a few extra days if you want," Inuyasha offered as he cleared his throat, "I'll watch Shippo and you can stay here and catch up. It's not like there's any jewel shard rumors."

"You wouldn't mind?" Kagome asked hopefully and he grinned.

"No. Not at all," he promised before adding for good measure, "Besides when...when we do have kids, one of us needs to be smart enough to teach them about shit. All I can do is explain how to kill things."

"Well that's more useful than learning how to do alegra so score one for Inuyasha," Kagome laughed softly as she got to her feet and planted a chaste kiss on his lips, "I'll come back tonight, okay? If you really don't mind, I'd like to go to school during the day and stay with you at night."

"Here?"

"No. In our house. Obviously," Kagome hummed as she pressed another kiss against his lips. Nuzzling her nose, Inuyasha grinned happily at the reminder that they were married, they would be living together from now on and that this all would work out. Maybe losing his arm and getting damn near paralyzed was the best thing that could have ever happened to him. This turn of events might actually turn out to be his very best life. A life worth living for once instead of one he was simply trying to survive.

"I'll have dinner ready. When you get back I mean," Inuyasha promised happily before blushing when Kagome gave him a somewhat skeptical look, "Who do you think has been feeding Shippo, huh? I can cook. I can do things."

"I know you can. I look forward to finding out what types of things you cook," Kagome cooed and his grin widened.

Yes, this Injury really was the best thing that could have ever happened to him. For the first time quite possibly ever, there was no resignation in that thought. It was a strange contradiction to be feel both broken and whole at the same time. Maybe happiness was not the absence of problems but the ability to deal with them. All his life he'd hoped to eradicate what he perceived was to blame for the struggles he'd been forced to undergo. If he changed, if he could pin point what element of his being made life so miserable, then he could finally rest. Becoming a full demon. Becoming human. Hating both sides of himself in turn a way of life. It had never been about gaining power - although power was definitely a perk. For whatever reason his mind was decidedly made up. There was something wrong with him. That's why shit always went south. But then today he woke up in the arms of the woman he loved and who loved him. One arm missing. Nerves or what have you shooting lightning down his leg. His head deciding to play along and hurt for no reason. And instead of feeling despair, he...he felt happy. Not what he previously thought was happiness either. It was like a giant wave smoothed something over and replaced every negative feeling with contentment. All the bad things simply no longer bothered him. Which was absolutely insane but he weirdly didn't care about a possible descent into madness either. Maybe this was what love felt like but...but a little voice in the back of his mind told him it wasn't that simple.

"I love you," Inuyasha hummed once more as he pressed his forehead against his wife's temple, "I'll see you later okay?"

"Love you too."

Plan set in place, Inuyasha bid pecked her cheek before dropped down into the well. In short order, which for some reason seemed less daunting, he launched outward in a similar fashion to what he'd done before and as he pulled himself out for the well he found himself face to face with none other than Kikyo.

Who seemed just as surprised to see him.

"Oh," She gasped softly as she held one hand over her un beating heart, "I'm sorry. I just...they said you wouldn't be back until tomorrow. I wanted to see..."

"See what?" Inuyasha sighed heavily as he awkwardly pulled himself up by one arm and Kikyo fidgeted slightly which was very, very disturbing.

"Well I have been dropping in twigs," Kikyo admitted sheepishly, "To see whether they disappear."

"Did they?"

"No," she admitted, "I also wanted to speak with you. Alone. And apologize. I didn't think the others would let me near you all things considered but I imagined if...if Kagome could still see us without talking to them first, it would be more acceptable."

Oh what fresh hell was this? If Kikyo's scent wasn't so overwhelming her own, he would've assumed it was some trick. Since when did she speak like this? Since when did she seem so insecure? Maybe someone had messed with her mind?

Either way, he couldn't trust that her intentions were good. The more time passed the more he realized that whatever their relationship had been, it hadn't been healthy as Kagome put it. The constant fear of betrayal and pain wasn't normal. The compulsion to do her bidding sickening in retrospect. Whatever they'd had wasn't love and even if it was, that wasn't a love he'd ever revisit again. It just plain wasn't worth it and in his heart he knew he deserved better. Maybe this was the feeling Miroku was constantly seeking when he meditated. This acceptance of what was instead of a constant search for what could be.

That and Kikyo's mention of the others was strange at best and suspicious at worst. Miroku, Sango and even Kaede's absence was suspect as well. Surely they would be keeping tabs on Kikyo, right? Not that he believed the undead woman was capable of taking them all out on her own but rather...

It was just weird that no one else was here.

"About what?" Inuyasha replied uneasily as he awkwardly arranged himself on the lip of the well to jump if need be.

"I owe you an apology," Kikyo admitted softly as she wrung her hands, "For the time we were together. For what I asked of you."

"I'm not following."

The undead miko seemed incredibly lost which only raised Inuyasha's guard. Nibbling her lip uncharacteristically, she continued.

"I treated you poorly," she explained awkwardly, "I controlled you to meet my own ends and to your detriment. I convinced you to erase a part of yourself to make my life easier. It was..."

She swallowed thickly and fidgeted.

"It was cruel. And manipulative. So I apologize."

Gaping stupidly, it was all Inuyasha could do to stare. What the hell was this? Why...

"I took advantage of you,. Of your loneliness and desire to please," she blurted as nervousness radiated off of her in waves, "I saw an easy way out of a life I hated. A way to kill two birds with one stone. And that was wrong of me."

Reading in between the lines, all the air whooshed out of his lungs at the extremely hurtful realization.

"You didn't love me," he stated more than asked and Kikyo sighed.

"Not as much as I should have," she corrected, "I care for you. Deeply. But...but I don't know if love is the right word. At least not in the romantic sense."

"And this is your version of an apology? That you didn't love me and used me?" Inuyasha snorted - strangely apathetic to the hurtful admission. It didn't bother him nearly as much as it would have a few short weeks ago. He wouldn't get back with her even if he could get his old body back by doing so. The thought of even doing so felt repulsive. Her words - while hurtful - were met with the equivalent of a shrug and peace. No regret. Pain limited to a dull ache and a fleeting sense of something unidentifiable. Awkwardness maybe? No. That wasn't it.

"What I am not so eloquently trying to say is...is...get down. Go through the well," Kikyo breathed as she whirled on the spot and readied an arrow.

"What do you...oh shit. Where the fuck did he come from?"

The image of Sesshomaru appearing randomly was met with a mixture of morbid amusement and fear. Not fear of what his bastard brother might do but rather, fear of what it meant. Undoubtedly this asshole was here to kill him but how far would he go to reach that end. Amber eyes glanced towards the village as he tried to weigh his options. Yes, he could run but that would only delay the inevitable. Inuyasha had no doubt that Sesshomaru would resort to killing everyone in the village to draw the perceived stain on his bloodline out. That he would wait. And Inuyasha knew he couldn't stay on Kagome's side of the well knowing that his friends, that the villagers might be getting slaughtered. Or worse he goes back to Kagome and Kagome, being the spunky woman she was, would come back to defend him and she'd get hurt. There could be no running without someone getting hurt.

And Kikyo, while powerful, couldn't be left alone to face down someone intent on killing him. He wasn't completely useless. He could defend himself to an extent after all.

"Go through the well," Kikyo hissed as her eyes trained in the daiyoukai who had seemingly materialized out of thin air. Or rather out of a ball of light that was even now evaporating.

"You're in the way," Sesshomaru's cold voice reverberated amidst the suddenly silent clearing, "Surrender Inuyasha or perish."

The hanyou in question rolled his eyes and slid off the lip in the wrong direction.

"You cannot have him Sesshomaru," Kikyo replied coldly as she stepped directly into the line of fire should he strike.

"What are you doing?" Inuyasha hissed and Kikyo glanced over her shoulder before pointedly looking at the well.

"I could say the same," she clipped back before turning her attention back to the threat.

"You would have a human defend you half-breed," Sesshomaru laughed softly and the sound was like claw raking against a chalkboard, "It appears you spoke the truth woman. He is completely defenseless."

"Oh you bitch," Inuyasha swore softly as he quickly realized this was a trap.

"That is not what I said," Kikyo replied defensively as she sent Inuyasha an apologetic grimace, "I merely asked if you could offer him protection while I was away."

"Because that sounds like something he'd do," Inuyasha snorted as he swung his legs over the well and prepared to slide in. Let the bitch dry.

Kikyo sent him an apologetic and pleading glance before several things happened at once. In a flash of green light, her form went rigid and then began to crumble in slow motion while a firm hand suddenly gripped the back of his hair and slammed his body into the dirt.

"Only This Sesshomaru shall be granted the pleasure of ending your miserable life," the daiyoukai commented apathetically as what remained of Kikyo's tear stained face watched on in silent horror. Reeling from the shock of this extreme escalation, Inuyasha was stunned stupid. Frozen on his back as his mind desperately tried to catch up. At least a minute passed before his mind finally jump started. By that point, however, it was too late. That moment's hesitation was all it took for him to be caught like a fly in a spider's web and a firm, well placed blow to the head sent him falling into darkness.

"I'm sorry," Kikyo's disembodied voice reached him before a second green whip cleaved what remained of her form in two and Inuyasha knew no more.

xoxoxxoxoxoxoxoxxo

"I can't believe you lost her" Sango hissed angrily as she continued following Miroku around the forest, "I leave you alone and..."

"It is not my fault," the monk replied defensively, "We were checking the perimeter and when I turned around, she was gone."

"Why wasn't she walking in front of you?" Sango clipped back before sighing when Shippo began growling in response to the rising tension. Petting his head, she quickly removed his tiny form from her shoulder and placed him atop the newly transformed Kilala.

"You tried to find her from the air did you not?" Miroku huffed and Sango nodded, "Then you too realize she probably erected a barrier to hide her presence."

"She wouldn't have gone far. Whatever she's planning involves Inuyasha," Sango opined as they continued rushing through the trees and Miroku nodded.

"At least that gives us some time to locate her. They shouldn't be back until tomorrow."

xoxoxxoxoxxoxoxo

"He's going to have a field day with this one," Kagome sighed heavily as she adjusted her much heavier backpack, "But maybe he'll have mercy on me and let me study."

He would. She knew he would. The injury had made him all around more accepting of sitting around doing nothing productive. Plus it wasn't like she could go anywhere with Kikyo around and he sure as hell didn't want to be left behind with that cold undead bitch either. Not that he said that but she knew. She knew he hated being left behind on a good day even if it was by his own choice.

"I wonder what he'll make for dinner," Kagome mused yo herself as she tried to focus on a happier topic, "Never knew he could cook. Makes sense though."

Truth be told, it made perfect sense. Even though that medicine was putrid, he managed to prep and cook everything following the recipe in his head. If he could recreate medicine from memory, she had no doubt he could cook other things. After all, he wasn't some wild animal and he always seemed hungry. Had very particular tastes too and clearly loved food given his vacuum like way of consuming it. Still, it was funny how he'd never insisted on cooking things himself up until now. Then again just because someone knew how to cook it didn't mean they enjoyed doing it.

Or maybe he couldn't cook at all and she would he presented with some burnt piece of fish.

Laughing softly at the image of his proud little face when he gave her some unholy abomination which she'd have to eat just to make him happy, Kagome felt a little lighter as she turned a corner.

Her husband was going to have dinner on the table when she got home. What a weird thing to know. Especially considering her husband was Inuyasha.

Chapter Text

Several Days Ago...

In her unbeating heart she wanted to retract all the bad things she had ever done. If she was truly honest with herself, they were never a reflection of Inuyasha. Only that of her inner demons. Despite him bending over backwards to please her, she could only see what he did not do. Was limited by her preconceived notions of what he was at his core instead of seeing past his outward appearance to the man within. But perhaps there was still time to make amends. To provide him protection. Maybe even salvation from the latest curse he had fallen victim to.

Or she was about to make things exponentially worse. There was also that possibility. Still she truly doubted a brother would kill another brother. True, her knowledge of the man was extremely limited but given that he played the part of father to a young human child, there must be some good in him.

"Sesshomaru, is it true you are in possession of a sword that can bring the dead back to life?" Kikyo asked calmly as she eyed the swords tied to his sash.

"Jakken, go ahead with Rin and Ah-Un," the stoic daiyoukai ordered as he turned to face the undead woman. The little kappa quickly complied like the subservient fool he was as the little girl waved her farewell. Strange how some unrelated child could remind someone so strongly of a certain reincarnation.

"You were the one who bound Inuyasha to a tree, are you not?" Sesshomaru asked quietly - his tone and behavior terrifyingly relaxed. Never had she seen him act anything other than stoic and calculated. Now he seemed almost comfortable in her presence which served both as a giant red flag and a green light.

"This is true. In life, I bound Inuyasha to the Tree or Ages," Kikyo replied honestly as she tried not to react to this utterly disturbing behavior.

"This Sesshomaru discovered his imprisonment shortly after it occurred," the daiyoukai continued - his tone cold but his face casual somehow, "Our lands were threatened."

This was shocking to say the least. She had always assumed the only possessions to his name were his robe and his mother's lip paint. If Inuyasha held land and presumably a title...

Was he truly of noble blood? He had never said anything that would have made her assume as such. His mother had been mentioned in passing only and his father...well that had gone unsaid what his father must have been. Never did he give any indication that he came from royal blood on either side. Yes, she knew enough to know that there was something akin to royalty in the youkai culture but that Inuyasha, who was almost primitive, came from such a life seemed so utterly foreign that...

"I never realized Inuyasha..."

"The half-breed is entitled to nothing."

So it was heritage that robbed him from such a life. The fact that his mother had been reduced to a demon's whore. Used and discarded along with the bastard offspring she had bore. It was no wonder he never mentioned his father. Why he was so willing to become human. His demon brothers had cast him aside as the offspring of a human mistress barely beneath their notice.

And she'd just approached the one person who probably wanted the stain on a royal demonic line dead more vehemently than Naraku could ever begin to dream.

"Ah."

Oh mistakes had been made here. So many mistakes.

"It does as you say," Sesshomaru continued tonelessly, "Are you here to tell me that you have managed to kill the half-breed a second time and need him revived?"

"No. I simply...my question is merely hypothetical. Would the sword work on partial pieces? An arm for example," Kikyo evaded the quesion quietly, "Or does it heal?"

"He is injured then," the daiyoukai concluded as he narrowed his eyes and appraised the undead woman, "Is he truly so desperate to be healed that he sent you to beg?"

"Inuyasha does not know I am here," Kikyo replied defensively as she tried a different angle, "As you know, Naraku plans on eliminating him and has informed myself as well as you that Inuyasha is gravely wounded. That he is no longer a threat. I come to offer an opportunity to foil Naraku's plot."

"Continue."

Breathing a sigh of relief that perhaps this angle would lead to the desired result, Kikyo forged ahead, "In the forest at the base of Mount Kita you will find an arm belonging to Inuyasha. With your sword, you could easily reattach that arm, could you not?"

The longer he stared at her the more Kikyo regretted coming here at all. In fact, the unquantifiable amount of regret that flooded through her very soul nearly took the undead miko to her knees. It seemed in this life mistake after mistake was made. Always making things worse rather than better. Perhaps that was the nature of the beast. Good intentions marred by inherent evil sewn with intent and purpose in every fiber of this unnatural body. Even now when she had truly turned over a new leaf, she still caused destruction wherever she went.

"I have no interest in doing so," Sesshomaru replied in a very bored tone, "Whether the half-breed lives or dies is not my concern."

"So you would permit Naraku to kill him then," Kikyo emphasized purposefully as she grasped at straws, "To take the sword that..."

"Naraku shall not be permitted to kill him," Sesshomaru cut her off coldly, "The only one to kill Inuyasha shall be this Sesshomaru but to kill him in the state you described is beneath me."

Yeah...mistakes had been made here. Big mistakes. Huge. Oh sure, heal him but only if you can kill him in a fair fight afterwards.

"If that is the case, then protect him until such time as he can be healed," Kikyo continued as she forced herself to remain calm, "But know this Sesshomaru. If you seek to kill Inuyasha once that has been accomplished, I will do everything in my power to stop you."

With the subtlest of nods, Sesshomaru turned and walked away without another word. Kikyo, however, began quickly formulating a way to undo or at least mitigate this latest hell she had unfurled. She would need to stay at the village. Quite possibly permanently which would require ingratiating herself with Inuyasha's friends. Perhaps...

xoxxoxoxoxxoxoxxoxo

Present Day...

Whatever Kagome was expecting when she returned it wasn't for Sango and Miroku to be waiting for her. It wasn't to have a nearly feral Shippo launch at her - whining, snarling and screaming. It wasn't to stare at the pile of what looked like ash or the bow laying next to it.

"Did Kikyo's piece of soul return to you?" Miroku asked in a strained voice and the full reality of the situation crashed down on her.

"She took him, didn't she?" Kagome breathed shakily as she continued to stare at the small pile growing smaller with each slight breeze.

"We're not sure," Sango replied in a numb tone, "We've discussed it and we don't think she would have left her weapon behind. This..."

"I would've felt her soul return," Kagome cut her off angrily, "I would've felt it. It would've come back not shot off into the sky or something. She's still alive. She must've taken him!"

'Non-pack member male took Alpha. Took Alpha,' Shippo whined was he yanked on her shirt with all his might, 'Must go. Track scent. Track scent. Mountains.'

"Koga," Kagome hissed as all the air in her lungs left in one fell swoop, "That...that asshole!"

"Wait, how did you come to that conclusion?" Miroku asked in a tired tone, "Merely because Inuyasha is missing and Koga considers..."

"Shippo said a male took Inuyasha. A non-pack member," Kagome huffed as she set down the squirming snarling kit who looked slightly exasperated, "Who else would it be?"

"Naraku. Sesshomaru. Any number of beings," Miroku opined wearily, "I seriously doubt Koga, of all people, would have..."

"Naraku has more flare and Sesshomaru would've just left his corpse behind," Kagome clipped back as she dropped her backpack and marched towards Sango who looked like she was having doubts herself, "Take me to Koga's den. Now."

"We don't know..."

"Shippo literally can't talk," the miko hissed as grief and terror coursed through his veins, "But what he could communicate was a male and mountains. Who else is male and lives in mountains?"

"It might have been a direction," Sango argued weakly, "And Kikyo is equally likely to have taken him."

"You guys look for her and let me handle Koga then," Kagome snapped angrily, "Now take me to that mangy wolf."

'Wrong. Wrong,' Shippo whined as he looked to the others to back up what they didn't understand, 'Non-pack male. Non-pack male.'

"I know Shippo. I know they're wrong," Kagome comforted as she climbed atop Kilala and Shippo gripped his hair tightly and shook his head.

'No. No. No. No. Non-pack member male. Name...name...' the poor kit struggled to explain which male had taken his alpha. Sango joined them both after instructing Miroku to begin the search for Kikyo.

"Stupid," he finally growled as he crawled up and gripped Kagome's shirt. Shaking her roughly, he continued to whine even after they took off.

'Pup knows scent. Knows. Brother,' Shippo whined desperately as an explanation occurred to him, 'Non-pack male alpha brother. Brother.'

'Word not known,' Kagome yipped softly as she stroked his orange hair, 'Will find alpha with non-pack male. Pup no worry.'

"Idiot," Shippo huffed as he realized nothing he said would make her realize how wrong she was. All he could do was hope this would be a short trip and then they could get on the right track.

Or he could just jump and follow the trail himself. That could also work but he didn't fancy running into a daiyoukai when he was only a little pup. Strong he might be but he was still just a kid.

Chapter Text

The probability of Inuyasha being here was slim to none truth be told. She knew that. The others knew that. Everyone knew it but she still had to check.

It took maybe a minute for Koga to come running to where Sango and Shippo had left her. Maybe less. Putting on her best smile, she fingered the sutra Miroku had once given her and waited.

Even if Inuyasha wasn't here, even if...if he was gone, she could - at a minimum - avenge his honor. Her forced smile grew more natural at the thought and by the time Kōga arrived, her smile was genuine.

And the wolf had no idea that smile should have shaken him to his core.

"Kagome," Koga hummed with cocky pride as he glanced around the clearing and puffed out his chest, "So you ditched the mutt, did you?"

"He's not with me, no," Kagome replied casually as she clasped her hands behind her back and took a few steps closer, "But I came to see you."

Koga made a slightly confused face as she came closer.

"Are you alone?" she cooed and he looked even more uneasy but nodded.

"Good!" Kagome hissed as she slammed the sutra on his chest and threw up a barrier. As Koga crumpled, his face was one of adject horror and betrayal.

"What the hell Kagome?!"

"Start talking mister," the enraged miko huffed as she towered over his immobilized body, "Where. Is. He?!"

"Oh so the mutt left you. Surprise. Surprise," Koga mocked acidly, "Did you use your skills on him too? Drive him away? Although you did already had him leashed. Maybe he was into submission."

He really should have seen the kick to the balls coming. Really he should have. Or not actually. Kagome had never been so pissed at one person in her entire life. Koga only showed up to torture the man she loved more than life itself. Made Inuyasha have a full melt down and doubt her. Made him think that he'd...he'd been some terrible abusive jackass or something. Made him think the only way to atone for what Koga was saying he'd done was to kill himself or be killed. That last part was unforgivable.

Koga had worn Inuyasha down so completely; had convinced him that he was so worthless that he deserved to die. Now Inuyasha was missing and Koga had the audacity to insult the man he'd already tortured some more?! To kick a dog when he was down! Oh, Koga had another thing coming if he thought she'd play nice after that.

But given the look of utter shock beneath the expression of pain, apparently the last thing Koga ever thought she'd do is kick a man in the balls. To be fair, that surprised her too. Pissed she may be but that might have been too much. Technically, her techniques could've been worse though. That 21st century education gave her many, many examples of war crimes and human rights violations to consider for interrogation purposes.

"What the fuck Kagome?!" Koga hissed as he lay there immobilized but obviously wanting to writhe in pain, "What the hell has gotten into you? Did fucking the dog break you or something?"

"You knew we'd had sex," Kagome asked momentarily distracted, "You can smell that?"

Koga gave her a withering glare.

"And yet you assumed that if I fucked him I'd fuck you too? Because clearly that's why I'm here, right? I obviously don't have standards," Kagome continued angrily and Koga's eyes widened both in shock at her langauge and fear that he'd somehow pissed her off more.

"Wait, that wasn't…"

"You took a lot of pleasure in breaking him, didn't you?" Kagome hissed as she knelt down and glared down at Koga's horrified face, "Convinced him you were so much better when in reality you're the sleaziest man I've ever met. You propositioned me within the first twenty four hours you met me. Would never take no for an answer but you had the balls to tell Inuyasha that he wasn't good enough for me. Like he didn't almost die every other day protecting me while you were off doing god knows what."

"He never treated you with..."

"Oh don't even," Kagome snarled and Koga's mouth shut instantly, "Now you know where he is and you're going to tell me."

The delayed and dawning realization that the situation may be far more serious than original believed shone in Koga's eyes. Intermingled with the general shock, he looked half-crazed like he believed he was having an acid trip from hell.

"He really is missing? Not that he left you but that he was taken?"

"Don't play stupid," she pressed but the look of confusion, then realization and finally fear in his eyes told her the answer. It told her several things in fact.

"You don't have him but you know who does," she hummed as she set her jaw and glared, "Where is he?"

"I don't know what you're talking about. I don't know where the hell that mutt might be," Koga managed, "Listen I only heard about Inuyasha being hurt in the first place from that bastard brother of his. Came around asking questions. Go ask him."

"That's what you're going with? Sesshomaru asked you questions one freaking time and therefore he's the one who has Inuyasha," Kagome snorted, "Do you think I'm an idiot?"

"I'm telling you the truth!" Koga protested, "I've never lied to you. He found me when I was searching for Naraku a while back. Asked me if I knew anything but that was the first I heard of it so I went to see for myself."

"So...the person telling everyone wasn't Naraku…"

"Oh he came by too," Koga snorted, "Told me he'd heard Inuyasha was hurt after I already saw him. For the record, I did lie to that bastard."

"But Sesshomaru told you first," Kagome clarified and Koga rolled his eyes.

"Bastard came back too. Wanted a run down," Koga snorted, "Dunno why he didn't just go see for himself. Stoic jackass. I'm not his…"

"Why did Sesshomaru care?" she muttered distractedly, "That's not like him."

"I don't know. Maybe instead of interrogating me you should go ask him yourself. That jackass is probably the one who has the mutt," Koga challenged before he set his jaw and gave her a withering glare, "Or maybe Inuyasha just left you for being a crazy bitch. Didn't think of that, did you?"

The wolf seemed to realize that was a mistake seconds before Kagome's fist collided with his jaw. The sickening crack that resounded from the contact surprised him more than it surprised her. Apparently the dainty little miko could punch.

"That hurt!"

"Well that makes me happy," Kagome huffed as she got to her feet and began walking away.

"Wait! Wait! You're not going to just leave me like this are you?!"

"It'll wear off in a day or two," Kagome clipped back as she glanced over her shoulder, "Which is more than you deserve."

It wasn't like her to be vindictive much less violent but damn if it didn't feel good to put Koga in his place. Was she taking her own frustration out on him? Yes. Did she feel bad about that? No. Would she feel bad once she found Inuyasha safe and sound? Probably.

But right now she didn't give a shit about leaving Koga in the dirt where he belonged. She had a smug daiyoukai to kick in the balls and a husband to bring home.

xoxxoxoxxoxoxxoxxoxo

"What the literal fuck?! You didn't have to kill her! You could've just…"Inuyasha hissed as Sesshomaru threw him up against the nearest tree.

"She was in the way."

Inuyasha's nostrils flared in both anger and fear as he instinctively began surveying their surroundings for the best exit. It would be ugly and probably the most humiliating get away in history but he had to get away no matter what it took. To do what needed to be done so he could live even one more day with his wife who he loved and who, for god knows what reason, loved him right back. Besides Sesshomaru was never one to play games like this. Obviously the bastard had no issue killing people in the open. So why take him here? As far as Inuyasha could tell they were in the middle of nowhere. Running - if that was actually an option - would be pointless but seemingly the only option. Problem being, of course, there was nowhere to hide once he ran. Trees would offer little to no protection. They were half a day's run to the nearest town. Besides if murder was on Sesshomaru's mind the bastard would want people to see that the deed was done. No, Sesshomaru had taken him here for some other reason. But what that reason might be was beyond Inuyasha's frazzled reasoning abilities.

Random reasons or not, Inuyasha knew he couldn't assume this was a friendly kidnapping. If there was even such a thing. What he needed to focus on was survival. No matter the cost. Kagome was waiting for him. All that mattered was getting back to her. He'd do whatever he needed to do. Anything he needed to do.

"If you want the sword, go ahead and take it," Inuyasha hissed with no lack of desperation as he fumbled with the sheath. One agonizingly long moment later, he thrust the damn thing to the ground, "Can't use it anyway. So there. Now you have it. You can do whatever you want with it. I don't care."

"A regrettable choice of words," Sesshomaru mused as he knelt down to inspect the weapon - an unidentifiable emotion gleaming in his eyes that made Inuyasha's instincts go haywire.

In retrospect, throwing the sword was definitely a mistake. Something he desperately wanted to take back. Hell maybe he could use the Tessaiga with one hand when he was properly motivated. Like now. Now would've a great time to try out that theory instead of throwing away the only really chance he had of surviving.

Taking a steadying breath, Inuyasha flexed his claws. There was still one attack he could use. That might give him a five second head start while he ran as fast as he was able. Or he could just run now before Sesshomaru did whatever the hell he had planned. There was more emotion on that usually stony face - more indecision - than Inuyasha he ever seen. Which all things considered was terrifying. It was like Sesshomaru was….

Decision made, Inuyasha's hand moved to slam down on his arm and use blades of blood but before he could even get close….

Something slammed into him.

In absolute shock, Inuyasha crumpled to his knees pointlessly grasping the metal embedded deep in his stomach. Despite the fully transformed weapon clearly burning its wielder, Sesshomaru plunged it all the way though until crimson soaked steel protruded from his victim's back as the black handle pressed against broken skin. Then and only then - after the optimal damage had been inflicted - was the sword withdrawn and discarded. The flesh on the daiyoukai's hand still sizzling from the limited contact. For a moment, Inuysha twitched with his hand pressing against his flesh - his breath coming out in short painful gasps as he collapsed onto his side.

"I...I gave it to you...I...I'm not a threat...I don't..I don't...," Inuyasha tried in between quick panicked gasps as he lay on his back and tried to stop the blood from flowing, "I just...I...just...I'll go...I won't...just..."

Suddenly, the half-sobbing half-demon found himself being thrust onto his side - powerless to do much more than weakly grip the grass by his hand in a feeble attempt to escape. Inuyasha could feel his heart struggling to beat and he couldn't force his body to move. Maybe if he begged? He was not above begging. Not anymore. Any pride he'd possessed had disappeared with his missing arm. And he'd do anything to see Kagome again. Anything.

"Please...I just want...to go home...please…"

One well placed kick to the base of his spine and the sickening crack it caused wrenched a raw scream from Inuyasha's throat. A second later poison soaked claws were raking deeply along his spine, hard talons on bone ripping through the surrounding flesh with effortless ease.

In that instant, Inuyasha willed his full demon form to cloud his mind. To save him so he could spend at least one more moment in Kagome's arms. To tell her one last time how much he loved her. But it refused and remained dormant like it could sense something he couldn't. Like it knew something he didn't. Maybe it was too late for his youkai to make a difference. Maybe it knew…

"Please…"

But it was no use begging for his life. The daiyoukai clearly didn't care though why for even one instant Inuyasha thought his pleas for mercy would have made a difference confused even him. Another scream was ripped from his throat and then his voice cut off unnaturally when a fist was thrust through the hole in his gut and the defeated half-demon found himself staring down at glowing fingertips with heartbroken eyes. Never in his life had injuries like this frightened him but...but he'd never had anything to lose before. Not really. In the past, death would have almost been a relief. A fleeting hope existed that his next life would be better than this one had been. But for once, his life was almost perfect. For once, he had something of value. Of worth. They could've been happy. They had been happy. He had been happy. And now...now...

"You're weak half-breed," Sesshomaru hummed in a very bored tone as he pulled back his hand, "Unable to run to save your own life. Begging like a coward. Pathetic."

A few tears leaked from amber eyes as blood began gathering in his throat cutting off his air. Inuyasha's head swam as every cell left with feeling screamed for oxygen. Each gurgling inhale felt like a thousand knives in his chest. His already blurry vision grew dimmer as he blinked slowly at the nearest tree for lack of something better to focus on. Stubbornly he tried to quash down the rising panic and tell himself there was no reason to be afraid. He would survive this. He'd survived worse. Not that any specific injury could come to mind but he'd healed from plenty. This was just one more obstacle. One more thing to survive. Once Sesshomaru got bored or, hopefully before, Kagome would find him and heal him and hold him and tell him it'd be okay and he'd believe her. Everything would be okay. He just needed to survive this. It would be okay.

Despite his silent pep talk, another tear slid down his cheek and dripped lazily off his chin into the dark crimson pool surrounding his body. Somehow he still had enough in him to flinch when those acidic claws raked across his already missing arm - the newly opened wounds burning like he'd just been branded by hot irons. A strong foot descended on his legs and Inuyasha's responding gurgling scream as they shattered sounded distant and far away.

"Are those tears I see?" Sesshomaru muttered with no lack of disdain as he straightened up and stared down in disgust, "Have you lost what little dignity you possessed?"

Ignoring the taunt, Inuyasha clenched his eyes tightly shut and set his jaw. He just needed to survive this. Kagome...even if he...if he never walked again she'd still love him. Even if he was more disfigured than he'd been, it would be okay. It would be fine. It'd be okay. It'd be..

His silent mantra stopped with devastating force as Inuyasha felt a single hand tightly grip his chin. In that instant, any thoughts of survival were extinguished. There would be no surviving a broken neck. If anyone knew that it'd be him. How many foes had he taken out this way?

Perhaps this was the universe's way of mocking him. Give him everything and take it away. Another tear broke free as the hand began to move.

"Kago..."

Chapter Text

"Welp that about does it then," Totosai sighed as he slid off his trusty bovine and scratched his head, "I'll give it to you Sesshomaru. You've officially gone and become the Great Dog Demon's biggest disappointment."

"Why have you come Totosai?" the daiyoukai asked quietly as he remained completely motionless.

"Oh I dunno. Might have something to do with that," the elderly demon hissed scathingly as he gestured towards the heavily mutilated corpse, "Or maybe the fact that both your sword and his called me here. Either way, here I am."

"This Sesshomaru has no interest…"

"Oh save it," the old man sighed heavily as he poked Inuyasha's body with the end of his hammer and shook his head, "For all your boasting and arrogance couldn't even kill him in one blow. Gave you a hard time did he?"

The daiyoukai bristled at the slight.

"Do not do this Sesshomaru the dishonor. The half-breed died a coward's death."

"Eh? Quit your mumbling and speak up boy," Totosai huffed as he dug one finger in his ear, "For a minute there, it sounded like bullshit."

One eye twitched but in a bizarre turn of events, the daiyoukai didn't otherwise react. Totosai smacked his lips a few times before sighing heavily.

"So you killed him because he was missing an arm, did ya?" the elderly demon replied knowingly before he narrowed his eyes, "Probably had a spinal injury too I take it. Ear is a different color which is odd."

Totosai sniffed once and smacked his lips again before scratching the top of his head. Finally after a few tense moments, the old demon smirked and gave his master's eldest son a smug pleasantly surprised look.

"So go ahead and do it then," he concluded and Sesshomaru let out an uncharacteristically exasperated sigh.

"I grow tired of..."

"And I'm tired of your attitude. If you're going to bring him back, get on with it," Totosai snorted as he lazily cricked his neck, "If not I'll use his bones to..."

Sesshomaru's nostrils flared as he found himself stuck between a rock and a hard place. While it had been his intention to bring a fully restored Inuyasha back to life, he had intended to do so in such a way that others may suspect but never truly know it had been his doing. To have the shroud of plausible deniability. Honestly, the entire purpose behind even bothering himself with the whole thing was to make for an even fight when he did kill Inuyasha in the future. Which he fully intended to do. At some point when there were not so many complications which, for some god forsaken reason, necessitated the continued existence of the half-breed. Ending Naraku's miserable existence and compiling the troublesome jewel shards would necessarily require Inuyasha's continued involvement. The greatest threat, at this moment, was undoubtedly the beast who dared to threaten Rin. No one was permitted to harm her. Nothingwas worth endangering her life but many things were on the table to ensure her continued survival.

And, as much as Sesshomaru loathed to admit it, Inuyasha's continued existence tipped the scales of survival in Rin's favor immeasurably. And this was not the first time he'd interceded to ensure Inuyasha would live to see another day for that reason and that reason alone.

That didn't mean he couldn't also enjoy a little torture and relish in the feeling of life draining from the stain on his Father's bloodline, however. More than a few of the injuries had been excessive for his own comfort.

"...getting a little fat after all. Could probably boil him down for dinner," Totosai continued lazily as he scratched at his chest, "Don't know what that girl's been feeding him but he's definitely less lean. Meats probably..."

"Are you finished?" Sesshomaru interjected in a cold monotone fashion and Totosai shrugged.

"Depends," the old man laughed softly as he stretched his arms above his head, "So am I getting some tools and meat or are you..."

"You will speak of this to no one," Sesshomaru replied in a tone that left no room for argument before he inhaled sharply and glanced at the horizon, "The girl is coming."

"Which girl?" Totosai asked before sniffing once and wrinkling his nose, "Ah Kagome. How nice of her to join us. I doubt she'll sit and try to figure out what you're doing. Probably will just hand your ass back to you. Better get on with it. Doubt she'll show you mercy though."

Sesshomaru gave the old man a withering side eyed glare before setting his jaw.

"I leave Inuyasha to you," Sesshomaru ordered with no lack of disdain as he turned to leave.

"Afraid of a human, are we?" Totosai chuckled, "Can't say I blame you. Oh you've gotten yourself in quite the mess."

"Be quiet or I shall kill you," Sesshomaru replied before he let out a short sigh, "This Sesshomaru will seek you out in one month's time. Keep his body hidden until my return."

"Yup. Greatest disappointment," Totosai hummed thoughtfully as he got to his feet and stretched, "I warned him that he was spoiling you but did the Great Dog Demon listen? No. No he did not. Now look at the pompous idiot you've become. Dragging this out to prove some asinine point."

"Bite your..."

"I didn't follow the Great Dog Demon for his strength fool boy. By all means, go ahead and try to strike me down," Totosai laughed softly, "I've killed demons a hundred times stronger than you and used their bones for my own ends. I'm just old and hate fighting if I can avoid it. Especially when those fights are with undisciplined children."

"Is that why you failed to deliver Tenseiga personally? You dislike confrontation? This Sesshomaru heard differently," the daiyoukai replied scathingly and Totosai shrugged.

"Eh, I am old now. Don't move I used to. It was possible you could've gotten the upper hand and I do enjoy living," the elderly demon chuckled good-naturedly as he swung Inuyasha's mangled body over one shoulder like a bag of meat, "I leave the good fight to the youth of today. Like the little miko coming to whip your insolent little tail."

"She will not succeed."

"Eh? What was that?" Totosai taunted as he threw the body over the back of his bull, "I told you to speak up. I'm old ya know and all you do is mumble."


Several weeks passed by since Kagome had returned to the village. Bloodied. Broken. Grieving. Haunted visions of Inuyasha begging to be spared so he could return to her still playing in her mind's eye. A part of her hoped Inuyasha hadn't begged. That he'd held onto his pride until the very end. That he'd fought for his life and hadn't hoped to use his weakest skill to get out of the death sentence that was eventually carried out. But given how he'd been since the injury, Kagome could imagine it went down as Sesshomaru described. That Inuyasha had begged even if he was missing both arms. That he felt he couldn't defend himself in a fight and tried to reason with his executioner. All he wanted was to come home to her. To be there when she returned from her world. Because even if he was missing both arms as he undoubtedly was given the arm Sesshomaru carried, Inuyasha knew she'd still love him.

Why did she ever let him go back alone?

Letting out a shuddering breath, Kagome wiped a stray tear off her cheek as she watched the still feral Shippo try to carry several large logs to the storage shed. He'd been taking his new self-imposed role as alpha very seriously. It was strange what he'd decided that encompassed. Provide for the village seemed to be his primary purpose. Gather firewood. Hunt meat. Do his best to make her smile. He'd learned or rather remembered a new word too.

Help.

That lone word broke her heart.

"Alpha pup weak," she heard him mumble miserably as his little arms trembled and one log toppled off the pile to the ground, "No. No. No."

"Shippo! Pup!" Kagome called out hoarsely and immediately his head whipped in her direction, "Come have lunch. Pup eat. Pup need strength."

Lowering the logs, Fox kit looked ashamed as he glanced at her and slowly walked towards her with his head bent in submission.

"Pup hunt?" the baby asked hesistantly as he rang his tiny hands and Kagome let out a shuddering breath while shaking her head.

"I have some...some ramen," Kagome answered thickly as another tear slid down her cheek, "Alpha mother provide."

A few moments passed before Shippo rested his paw on her knee, "Alpha mother provide."

A long sigh.

"Pup miss alpha like alpha mother miss alpha. Stay strong. No crying. Make alpha proud."

A shuddering sob escaped her as she buried her face in her hands. That was literally the worst pep talk in the history of pep talks. Maybe youkai emotions were different. Their mind stronger in every possible way - both physically and mentally. It would explain why Inuyasha was always believed so thoroughly that crying was weakness. Allowing himself tears only when he believed there was no longer any point keeping up appearances when his appearance documented how 'weak' he had become. Demons handled their grief and used that pain as fuel to get things done. Demons didn't cry. Didn't need to cry.

But unfortunately for her, humans very much did.

Trying to compose herself, Kagome laughed bitterly as soon as that thought crossed her mind. In her time here, she'd seen plenty of demons and half-demons cry. Inuyasha's issues with showing tears were his own but...but he'd also always hated her tears. If only for his sake, she'd try to do better in that department. And with that resolution a new onslaught began at the memory of his numerous reactions to her tears. His face laced with concern and love hidden just under the surface that she'd always dismissed as being impossible. So much time had been wasted playing will they or won't they. So much time spent in denial.

"Make alpha proud?" Kagome repeated hoarsely as she unsteadily got to her feet, "Alpha always proud of pup. Proud of alpha mother. Alpha loved pup. Loved alpha mother. Alpha proud."

"Pup loved alpha. Alpha mother loved alpha. Alpha knew," Shippo mumbled worriedly as though he believed she might be doubting her memories, "Alpha watching. Pup father watching. Never leave pup. Never leave alpha mother. Reunited one day."

Another muffled sob escaped her lips even as she forced a smile on her face.


"Fuck," Inuyasha gasped as consciousness

hit him full force. After so many years of being hunted every action upon waking was automatic, reflexive, efficient. Ears twitching in every direction, his heart pounded like a hypodermic needle filled with adrenaline had just been stabbed straight in. One hand rubbed his face while the other was used to steady himself. How the hell did he even get here? The last thing...

Inhaling sharply, Inuyasha slowly raised both hands in front of his face - amber eyes darting over each in turn as the fingers flexed and bent.

"What the hell," he breathed before slamming one hand down on the leg that felt nothing and embedding his claws deep within. Which he instantly regretted as pain he should've seen coming made him flinch. Letting out a sound somewhere between a laugh and a groan, the realization that his leg was also fine made him feel worse not better.

Glancing around his surrounding with heartbroken eyes, the dawning realization that everything he has known these past few weeks had been nothing more than a dream felt painful. The possibility that nothing had changed, that nothing had happened a thousand daggers in his heart even if some of it he'd rather have skipped. His injuries. Being murdered. Finally understanding what love could be like and getting to experience that first hand. Having someone who he knew would love him no matter how injured he'd become. The security he felt.

Was none of it real? Had he merely survived his initial injuries and his mind tried to find a way to cope while his body healed? And if so, he'd done it all alone apparently. No one had looked for him. No one had come for him.

Kagome hadn't come for him.

Looking back down at his still raised hand which had previously been missing, Inuyasha bit his lip and shook his head.

That couldn't be right. That just couldn't. No matter what insane thing he did Kagome would never just give up on him like that. It was warmer than it had been that night for one. Noticeably hotter. Which couldn't happen overnight. This change of season would take at least a month. Maybe more. And...and if this was a dream, even if the weather change was merely a coincidence, accepting that would mean that...would mean every good thing he'd dreamt was a lie.

If that was true and none of it had been real, Kagome didn't love him despite how much he loved her. Unrequited love that he'd been struggling with for well over a year still just that. His mind coming up with something to bring him comfort that wasn't based in reality. Her not loving him in turn meant she had never agreed to be his wife. There had been no kisses, no embraces, nothing. Which didn't sit right with him. Even assuming everything after that night was a fever dream, there'd been signs which in retrospect he'd refused to see. Things which now made the truth abundantly clear. Kagome loved him. That much was certain. Besides, he was not what you would call a creative person. There was no way he came up with everything on his own. Especially details of certain things he had never experienced before.

But then...

But then how on gods' green earth was he perfectly healed? It was like he'd never been injured in the first place. And the scents surrounding him were strange too. Totosai's scent was strongest which was borderline impossible. Sesshomaru's scent game next which corresponded to the last moments of his 'dream' which had to be a low point in his life should that have actually happened. The sheer desperation he'd felt cringeworthy at best. God, if that was real, he had literally begged for his life instead of fighting back.

His stomach churned at the thought of such weakness while, at the same time, he admitted to himself that did seem like the most likely way to survive. Never before had Sesshomaru fought him if he was injured or perceived as weak. The bastard wanted a fair fight. Even when Inuyasha was a child, the easiest thing to kill, that asshole had made that much very clear. Maim but not kill. Injure just enough to inflict maximum pain but not grant the relief that was death. Because it wasn't a fair fight until he was grown and could fight back.

Still, Sesshomaru basically ripping his body apart just to put him back together again made no sense either. And killing Kikyo made no sense. And that Kagome wasn't here made no sense.

Unless...

Oh god dammit, was he dead?!

"Oh that sucks," Inuyasha groaned as he pinched the bridge of his nose and drew his knees up against his chest. As one hand steadied himself, he tried to think of literally any way to make him dying suck less but came up short.

Unless this was a world that was a version of the one he just left. Which meant there was a version of Kagome here. Just because she wasn't real didn't mean he couldn't pretend she was. No one really knew how the underworld worked anyhow. Just wait out being reincarnated so he could meet the actual Kagome all over again. Console himself with a fake version of her in the meantime. That wouldn't be so bad. Not great but not terrible.

If this was where he'd been injured in the first place, then maybe this Kagome just didn't know how he felt about her. Maybe he'd been dropped into that place in time. Which meant he'd have to start over from scratch. But starting fresh couldn't be too hard, right? Not pleasant but doable. Just say a few nice words, admit he loved her, maybe give her a flower or something and bam, everything else would fall into place.

Or worst case scenario Sesshomaru also killed Kagome and she was in her own version of hell and he'd spend the rest of his time here forever searching for her. Which was also a possibility. The underworld had been described as many things but nice wasn't one of them. Maybe he was the only fucker in this place and he'd be alone forever.

"Why me?" Inuyasha huffed in frustration as he buried his face and drew his knees closer, "Why can't I just have nice things for once?"

Allowing himself a few moments to have a pity party, he finally sighed heavily and got unsteadily to his feet before pausing. A shuddering hope filled sigh escaping him at the realization that his body felt slightly off balance. Almost like he was having to relearn how to stand on his own. Like he had been torn apart and put back together.

A small smile played on his lips as relief coursed through his veins. Maybe all of that wasn't a dream and Kagome just hadn't come back for dinner yet. That would be the best possibility of all. Weirdest and most unlikely, yes - because why the fuck did Sesshomaru feel the need to kill him, heal him and bring him back - but that didn't stop him from hoping.

Adjusting his stance, Inuyasha surveyed the tree line and launched into the trees. Truth be told, the first jump was awkward and unsteady but the second and the third felt just like old times.

"I swear to god if this was a dream I'm going to..."

Failing to stick the landing on the fourth jump, Inuyasha had the air knocked right out of him as he torso collided solidly with a branch. Scrambling to pull himself up, he sprawled out on the branch gasping for air.

"Fucking...kill...somebody..."

Chapter Text

"I'm not strong like you were," Kagome sniffled miserably as she stared up into the branches of the Sacred Tree, "I don't know how you acted so calm when you found out Naraku killed Kikyo. Well not calm but...but how you weren't falling apart. Or maybe you were and just hid it."

A single tear slid down her cheek but she didn't bother wiping it away, "I am sorry for being upset about Kikyo. I think...I think I understand why you acted like you did. I'd do anything to be with you again."

An echo of his snarky voice reverberated in her head chiding her for her turn of phrase.

"I'm not going to do anything stupid, Inuyasha," Kagome laughed shakily as she pulled her knees tighter against her chest, "I'm just saying I understand a little better why you chased after her for so long is all. To love someone and have them ripped away from you when things were going so well. I don't know how you managed to move on at all. I feel...I feel like..."

Another tear slid down her cheek as she tried to put into words what she was feeling.

"I don't know if I will be able to move on, you know?" Kagome tried hoarsely, "I know its only been a month and its probably too soon to say but...but...god I just don't know how you did it. I wouldn't blame you at all if you still love her. Not that...not that I think you don't love me but I'd get it if you did. You won't get any judgment from me."

Closing her eyes, Kagome focused on the wind kissing her skin and for a moment, allowed herself to pretend it was his way of comforting her. That he was, as Shippo said, still watching her and protecting her from all threats - real or imagined.

"I love you. You know that, right?" she mumbled after a soft sob as she titled her face into the wind.

Maybe she was officially losing it but for a moment, she could've sworn she felt a pulse of youkai that could only belong to him. From the great beyond he found a way to let her know he loved her as well. Maybe he was waiting for her in the future. Reincarnated and waiting for her to find him.

That thought struck her as odd and made her stomach churn. That line of thinking struck a little too close to home. It was entirely possible that he only fell in love with her because she had the same soul.

"I understand if you only loved me because I'm Kikyo. Maybe...maybe if I find you again, it would be like that. At least we'd be together, you know?" Kagome whispered to the wind before chuckling when she felt another spike of his aura - angry this time. Almost screaming at how stupid that sounded.

"No need to get angry," she sniffled as she flopped back onto the grass, "Just thinking out loud is all."

"Yeah well your thoughts are stupid so I'll be angry if I wanna be," came his snarky retort and Kagome's eyes flew open in panic. Oh god, she really was losing her mind here. That wasn't some fictious voice in her head. It sounded too real. Too close.

And amber eyes were suddenly looked down at her filled with love and truth be told, some well deserved ire.

"Seriously? After everything we've been through, you're still beating that dead horse? We had a whole talk about how different my love for you is and somehow you still managed to come to that conclusion," Inuyasha asked as he tried and failed to hold back his shit-eating grin. Kagome, on the other hand, went paler than a sheet and began to hyperventilate.

Oh good god, she had actually gone insane from grief. This was bad. So bad.

"You're dead," she blurted as she clenched her eyes shut and rolled onto her side, "You're not real. Go away. Go away. Go away."

"Well I was dead but I got better," Inuyasha teased happily as he scooped her up and held her to him for all she was worth. Which in retrospect was a mistake seeing as how he gave her no explanation or warning that he did indeed have two arms once again.

"Get off me!" Kagome screamed as she began struggling in his vice grip, "Help! Shippo! PUP! PUP!"

"God dammit Kagome!" Inuyasha huffed as he released her and rolled his eyes, "Stop overreacting and use your eyes. Its...ah hell.."

A not so tiny ball of flame collided solidly with his chest sending the half-demon painfully careening into the Sacred Tree. Somewhat dazed Inuyasha quickly scruffed the kit and struggled to maintain a hold on the tiny being that was burning so hot it felt like he was melting the flesh off bone.

"Pup stop," Inuyasha barked and the flames immediately subsided. Tiny scarlet eyes widened and then narrowed as he sniffed a few times. For a split second, he looked unsure before a feral grin broke out on his face and he began flailing.

"Alpha not dead. Alpha not dead! NOT DEAD! ALPHA FATHER!" the pup screamed happily as fat little tears began leaking out of his eyes before he suddenly stopped and turned an angry glare on Kagome, "ALPHA MOTHER LIED!"

"Alpha mother does not lie," Inuyasha countered sternly as he shook the kit, "Stand down."

"Explain..."

Kagome - for her part - had completely shut down in shock and was struggling to breathe. This was the world's cruelest joke. Had to be. There was absolutely no rational way Inuyasha would just magically be back. Not only back but with both arms and no issues walking. A full month after Sesshomaru had...he'd told her he killed him. In excruiating detail. They'd had a full battle over it too where she tried to force him to bring Inuyasha back and he'd still refused. Blood had been shed on both sides over Inuyasha's untimely demise.

And based on the extremely limited amount of words she could pick up in her shock, whatever was being said satisfied her baby but wasn't enough to convince her. A child was a child - whether they succumbed to bloodlust or not. And children believed most anything their parents told them. The problem being...if it wasn't Inuyasha but an excellent imposter...

'Pup go to den,' Kagome whispered hoarsely and Shippo looked over to her with a confused little look.

'Pup stay with alpha father,' the kit challenged and Kagome sighed.

'Pup will obey. Pup go to den,' Kagome tried again and tiny crimson eyes narrowed until a large masculine hand knocked some sense into him.

'Pup obey alpha mother,' Inuyasha huffed angrily as his next move was to scruff the kit and shake him lightly, 'Pup does not challenge alpha mother.'

'Alpha mother lies,' the kit whined as he pointed a tiny finger at the still shell-shocked Kagome, 'Will hurt alpha father. Danger.'

Inuyasha glanced over at Kagome and sighed. She did smell rather anxious and looked like she'd been beat upside the head with Totosai's hammer but the kit was seeing danger where there was none.

'Alpha mother never lies to pup or alpha...alpha father,' Inuyasha corrected awkwardly with another firm shake - trying to come to terms with hearing himself formally referred to as a parent. Which was something he'd known to be true but it was still something that would take some getting used to hearing out loud.

'Pup go to den,' Inuyasha demanded and with a soft whine, Shippo acquiesced. In a way.

'Call Pup if danger,' Shippo woofed just soft enough for him to hear before he gave Kagome what he thought was an intimidating glare.

'No danger. Only alpha mother. Go to den,' Inuyasha reassured him and the kit glared over his shoulder but complied with a softly muttered 'stupid' under his breath.

Shippo safely out of the way, Inuyasha let out a shaky breath and turned to face the love of his life. This wasn't exactly the introduction he'd been hoping for to say the least. He'd hoped she would've immediately come to him and be overjoyed. Instead, she was staring at him exactly the way he always feared she might. Like he was a monster. Like she was afraid of him.

"Kagome I..." Inuyasha had to clear his throat and avert his eyes for a moment as he tried to keep his composure and not lash out. He could handle a lot of things nowadays but that look...that look almost had him wanting to wither up and die.

"I don't trust that...that you're him. I want to but...but given everything, I just can't," she breathed as she struggled not to pass out, "So...so I'm going to ask you to stay out here tonight. And tomorrow we'll talk."

What a strange request to make, Inuyasha thought as his heart broke a little. What difference would it make if they talked right now, tonight or tomorrow?

Tonight...

If time had indeed passed, maybe tonight was the new moon. This was Kagome's subtle way of making sure it was actually him. His lips twitched upwards as he acknowledged that it was wise for her to not believe it was him right away. Her request was reasonable all things considered. Especially considering that last time a dead person showed up they were not the same person they'd be in life and had tried to kill them all at one point or another. Only a select few people knew of his human night. A very select few.

"Counteroffer," he hummed in relief as he folded his arms across his chest and gave her a knowing, smug grin, "After sundown, we'll talk."

"Counter counter offer," Kagome huffed as she realized this individual must know Inuyasha's time of the month, "After sundown, we'll take the conversation somewhere else. A very specific place only the real Inuyasha can go."

"Counter counter counter offer," Inuyasha replied as his heart swelled with hope, "All of those things but after we talk, there's something I'd really love to experience if tonight if the night I think it is. That's happening or no deal."

Blushing furiously, Kagome set her jaw and folded her arms across her chest as another quicker solution suddenly occurred to her. Especially considering that he knew...certain elements of the relationship she'd shared with her husband. Seemed appropriate to speed things up a bit.

"Counter counter counter counter offer," Kagome began slowly as she pursed her lips, "How about we 'sit' down and..."

Inuyasha swore softly as he careened face first into the ground. It had been some time since she'd made him eat dirt and it sucked as much as he remembered it did. Trying to pry himself up, he opened his mouth to cuss her out before freezing when he saw her burst into tears and begin scrambling towards him.

"Oh my god I'm so sorry," she laughed tearfully as she sprawled out on her belly beside him and gently cupped his face in her palm, "I just...I just needed to be sure..."

Sighing, Inuyasha reached out and dragged her to him with a happy hum. Her sneaky trick instantly forgiven.

"Well you were being careful," he breathed happily as he pressed his lips firmly against her temple, "I'd be suspicious too if you got hurt, killed and then showed back up without an explanation."

"Do you have one?" Kagome laughed as her tears continued to flow.

"One what?"

"An explanation," she asked as she snuggled closer and the spell began to lift. Rolling onto his side, Inuyasha drug her against him - one hand tangling in her hair and the other pressing against the small of her back as his lips pressed against her neck.

"Not really," he sighed as he awaited her verdict. It was almost like he could feel the wheels turning in her mind. Still unsure whether or not this was real. The uncertainty of her reaction made anxiety swirl in his gut as he waited for her reaction and out of a bizarre newly formed habit, he nibbled gently at her neck. Which, in retrospect, was a mistake as the subtle action made her tense and try to pull back.

"Sorry," he chuckled nervously as he loosened his hold and cringed, "That didn't hurt you did it?"

Breathing heavily, Kagome tried to hold back the tears that threatened to fall as the full reality of the situation crashed down on her. Yes, the sit spell could only be activated by her which is why she'd initially been satisfied but in the back of her mind, there was still the remote possibility it could be mimicked. The nervous nibbling in private, on the other hand, had been something only she would've known about. Well her and one other person. He'd never really acknowledged he had done this out of nerves but she'd known the strange anxiety induced love bites brought him comfort for whatever reason.

"You could never hurt me," Kagome laughed shakily as she quickly snuggled back into his embrace, "Why did you have to scare me like that? Being gone a whole month. Did you even die or were you just being dramatic?"

"Not sure if I died to be honest" Inuyasha admitted with a groan before he snaked his arms around her and squeezed, "But either way, I'm sorry for scaring you and for taking so long."

"I just..." she whispered as she held him just as tightly - despite the awkwardness of the gesture, "Sesshomaru told me he killed you. I just believed him. If you weren't actually dead, I should have kept looking for you..."

"There was literally no way for you to know and to be fair, he probably did think he killed me. I thought he killed me but then I woke up. So Sesshomaru either brought me back or my body repaired itself," he laughed shakily, "Healing on my own would explain why I was gone so long and would prove me right. Takes more than a little injury to kill me."

Kagome snorted as she gave him a slightly chiding smile.

"Either way, I think you'll be happy to know I nearly took Sesshomaru's good arm off," she informed him and she felt his silent laughter, "He told me he took both of your arms so I thought I should return the favor."

"Well he did a lot of things but not that," Inuyasha snickered as he nuzzled her hair, "So you fought him, huh? Of all the dumb things you've done..."

"I was distraught okay? Wasn't thinking clearly at the time," Kagome admitted sheepishly "But hey I didn't die. In fact, he ran away after the arm thing."

"Wish I could've seen it," he replied softly as the hand he'd been missing back lazily stroking up and down her side.

"You would've been proud of me I think."

"Would've been? I am proud woman. I dunno what you're talking about," Inuyasha teased as he squeezed her waist before draping his arm lazily across her body.

"I want to talk about you," Kagome sighed happily as she pressed a chaste kiss against his lips and pulled back, "Where did you wake up?"

"Near where I was first attacked," Inuyasha hummed as he used one hand - the hand - to gently cup her face, "Thought it was all a dream at first."

"A dream? Seriously?"

Inuyasha gave her a slightly annoyed look before rolling his eyes and pressing his forehead against hers.

"What was I supposed to think? Woke up intact and in that place," he chuckled darkly as he pressed a kiss on her nose, "You weren't there taking care of me so I thought that us being together wasn't...real and you'd given up on me."

"I would never give up on you. Never. You know that," Kagome sighed heavily before she gave him a strange look, "So you would've gone through all of that again just to be with me?"

"As many times as I needed to, yeah," Inuyasha replied casually before laughing when she slapped him firmly on the chest, "What was that for?"

"You never needed to get hurt for me to be with you," she chided gently, "You'd just need to use your words."

"Yeah well I was scared I'd lose you if I used words. I'm not great at words," he replied defensively as a faint blush adorned his cheeks and his arm tightened around her waist.

"The old Inuyasha would never have admitted being scared. Especially of losing little old me," Kagome teased and Inuyasha snorted.

"Woman I admitted I was scared of losing you since the beginning and you know it," Inuyasha countered, "That's the entire reason I sent you home and why I go around screaming your name during every battle. I worry about your clumsy ass constantly."

"I'm not that clumsy," Kagome mumbled defensively - unable to get truly upset at the slight with a living breathing Inuyasha embracing her for the first time in what felt like an eternity.

"Are a little," he snickered as he rolled her onto her back and lowered himself flush against her. Moaning softly at the feel of it, Inuyasha dipped down to kiss her when suddenly he felt a single finger pressed against his lips. Knitting his brow, amber eyes stared down at a now very guilty and uncomfortable looking miko.

And with that look, his heart damn near stopped. Was she unsure she loved him? Had he been away too long? Or was his verbal faux pas the straw that broke the camel's back?

"I know its a stupid question to ask but..." Kagome began as she shifted anxiously beneath him, "But I just want to know. Did you...even for a moment...ever think of me as..."

She cleared her throat and pressed onward, "Did you want me at first because I'm Kikyo's reincarnation? Like you were meant to be with her and I was...I was just kinda her."

Snorting derisively, Inuyasha shook his head.

"Bitch that is the stupidest thing I've ever heard," he laughed, "Just because you look like her didn't mean you are her. Everyone gets reincarnated at some point or another. Doesn't mean they're the same person. I even told you in the beginning that I knew you weren't her."

"You also told me I wasn't as cute as her," Kagome replied dourly and Inuyasha snickered.

"I just say things woman. You know that," he teased happily as he kissed her forehead, "You forget I also tried to kiss you the next day."

"Why did you do that? I've always been curious," she asked quietly and Inuyasha sighed.

"I'm impulsive, what can I say," he admitted sheepishly as he squeezed her tighter, "You asked if I was upset you looked like her and clearly that wasn't the case and I dunno...felt like the best way to show you? Which..."

"Which backfired horribly by the way. So many issues I had stemmed from that," Kagome laughed and he grinned, "All this time I worried that...that you only kept me around because I reminded you of her."

Inuyasha rolled his eyes and sighed.

"Ah yes, that's why I wanted you in my life. Do you even hear yourself? Believe me when I say, you're as different from Kikyo as someone could possibly get," Inuyasha interrupted affectionately as he pressed more of his body weight against her and cupped her face with both hands, "Sometimes I wonder whats going on in your head. I mean, I maybe died, came back and your first reaction is to ask something like that. How have you managed to survive all this time?"

"Well you see there was this guy who yells my name a lot and seems to be always saving me," Kagome retorted before she pulled him down for a kiss.


"Mind telling me why it took you a month to come get his body," Totosai huffed as he continued polishing the sword as a small little girl squealed in the near distance when one of the geysers surrounding his home suddenly erupted a little too close for comfort. The daiyoukai seemed to be paying more attention to that spectacle than the question being asked.

"Jakken, if Rin perishes in such a foolish way, I will kill you," Sesshomaru ordered quietly and the little toad tensed before running shrieking towards the girl - his little arms flailing as he desperately tried to guide her into safer territory.

"Dunno how you find people who think you're charming. Tell me that secret while you're at it," the elderly demon smacked his lips and dipped the sword almost lazily into the fire. Looking patiently back up at the formidable dog demon, Totosai raised a single brow before huffing in frustration, "Do you need your ears checked boy?"

"This Sesshomaru..."

Totosai gave him a withering glare before he turned his attention back towards the fire and cut the daiyoukai off at the knees.

"I can't understand a word you're saying," Totosai huffed as he shook his head, "I'm just going to assume you waited to prove some asinine point."

Jakken's scream and Rin's giggle cut through the silence that followed like a knife.

"Well its the thought that counts I guess," Totosai sighed as he dug one finger into his ear and sniffed pointedly, "I was beginning to think you'd never come back."

"This Sesshomaru's reasons are his own."

"What did I tell you about mumbling," the old youkai huffed in frustration as he removed the finger from his ear, "I'm old. You need to speak up and enunciate properly."

Jaw set, amber eyes narrowed as Totosai smacked his lips and waited.

"Word of Inuyasha's death needed to reach any who sought to harm him," Sesshomaru amended through gritted teeth, "Otherwise..."

"Others might come to kill him and you want to be the one who kills him for some reason," Totosai yawned as he waved his hand, "Just admit you care for your brother and be done with it fool boy. Its obvious to anyone with eyes."

"This Sesshomaru..."

"What did I say about mumbling..."

Chapter Text

There were still nights when Inuyasha woke up in the cold sweat believing that every good thing that had happened to him in the past five years was a dream. That everything he held dear was a lie concocted by a lonely mind. Various worst case scenarios dominating his mind. That he was alone. That Naraku had never been defeated. That the well had kept Kagome on her side of the well and wouldn't let him pass. Tonight, unfortunately, was one of those nights. The nightmares had been coming more frequently lately but that was probably because he'd almost got caught on his human night last month. Bringing up aspects of memories he'd rather forget. But each time he woke up - heart racing and gasping for air - he would feel his wife laying next to him. Hear Shippo's inquisitive growl from just inside the bassinet or his sensitive ears would register the baby's soft gurgle.

Consciously slowing his panting breath, Inuyasha wormed out from under the covers and crossed the short distance to look down at his tiny baby girl with a soft smile on his face. They were fast approaching the twelfth month which never ceased to amaze him. Especially considering how the little one looked human by all outward appearances despite the strong youkai he could feel radiating off her in waves. It was almost funny to think of the fool that might try to challenge her one day. Not that he'd ever let someone get close enough to hurt her but it was funny in theory. Inuyasha had already made his mind up to teach his baby girl how to kill things in an efficient manner when she was old enough.

One ear trained back towards his wife who had stirred when he'd risen. A wife who, thanks to some guidance from his father's loyal servants, would live however long he did. With a caveat of course because what was life without some catch. Said catch had forced him to be more careful in the exorcisms he now underwent to support his small family. If he died, any protection the bond afforded Kagome would expire with him. She'd become mortal once more.

But he had no intention of dying twice so that wouldn't be a problem.

"Does she need some extra blankets?" Kagome hissed soflty as she wrapped her shawl tightly around her, "It is cold."

"She might need some. I smell a blizzard coming," Inuyasha agreed just as softly as he reached out and drug his wife's small form against him. As soon as that left his mouth though, he could almost feel Shippo bristle.

"Pup protect. Make warm," the kit argued barely above a whisper as he held up his tiny hand and produced a very small flame, "Blankets smother. Pup provide."

Kagome laughed softly as she reached down to scratch her eldest child's head.

"Alpha mother knows. Good pup," she cooed happily as Inuyasha gave them both an affectionate smile. If there was any lingering reminder of the lowest point in his life, it was that Shippo had never returned to normal. That being said, he was as close to a normal child as any other and was happy as someone could be in his condition. And, despite any lingering craziness, Shippo was a very protective older brother which made both of his parents very proud.

"Pup need blanket?" Inuyasha asked softly.

"Help," Shippo replied in the common tongue with a wise nod, "Help me. Pup needs blanket."

"Okay, I'll get one then," Kagome hummed as she moved to the small basket filled to the brim with extra bedding. As Inuyasha watched Kagome wrap up the kit just how he liked and the kit then curl up at the bottom of the bassinet, he knew in his heart that the only things that mattered in this world were in this hut.

They were all that mattered.