SECRET SANTA 2013 by ED Staff
Past Featured StorySummary:

 photo SSanta_2013.png

Oneshot gifts written for the Eternally-Destined 2013 Secret Santa event at deviantART. Plots are based on the recipients' specific requests.
RECIPIENTS: DON'T FORGET TO REVIEW YOUR AUTHORS!
Categories: Fables Characters: InuYasha, Kagome
Genres: Challenge Response
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 13 Completed: Yes Word count: 44437 Read: 5667 Published: December 25, 2013 Updated: December 26, 2013

Story Notes:
Eternal Destiny and its guest authors claim no rights or ownership to any of the InuYasha characters. The original characters and plots are the property of the authors. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

1. For ChiuuChiuu by ED Staff

2. For Cutiekay182009 by ED Staff

3. For Dangersque by ED Staff

4. For DarkAngelOfLov by ED Staff

5. For Kag0me313 by ED Staff

6. For KeiChanz by ED Staff

7. For Moonstar9411 by ED Staff

8. For Naruto3215 by ED Staff

9. For Neo by ED Staff

10. For RainFlame07 by ED Staff

11. For Rocioo by ED Staff

12. For SakuraRyuu by ED Staff

13. For Valeriemary309 by ED Staff

For ChiuuChiuu by ED Staff
Author's Notes:
Recipient's name: ChiuuChiuu
Story title: Romance of the Two Kingdoms
Rating: PG-13
"Lord Sesshoumaru! Lord Sesshoumaru!" the panicked voice of his loyal servant rang through the throne room.



The kappa slid to a stop in front of his king, hunching over and taking deep breaths, "Lord... Sesshoumaru..." he wheezed.



"Jaken, kindly stop the theatrics. Why did you feel the need to interrupt my peace?" the demon king pinched the bridge of his nose in frustration. It was a trying time for the king of the Ice Kingdom. He didn't have time for dramatic kappas and their... drama.



"It's that no good half-bree-ack!" Jaken was interrupted by Sesshoumaru's strong grip on his throat.



"Half-breed he may be, he is still my brother. And your prince," Sesshoumaru glared at the suffocating servant, making sure he understood the full extent of his displeasure. He finally released Jaken, giving him a few seconds to catch his breath. "Now, what has my brother done now?"



----



Inuyasha looked around the destroyed pub, grinning with satisfaction. He tossed a bag of money to the stunned bartender, "Let me know if this doesn't cover everything Hiten."



He bent down and picked up a tooth from the floor, 'Another trophy!' he mentally cheered.



He stepped over the groaning wolf demon who formerly owned said tooth. He snickered to himself until he ran smack-dab into a hard chest. He looked up into the angry face of his brother.



"Sesshoumaru! Buy you a drink?" he offered lamely.



Sesshoumaru took in the scene of destruction that surrounded him.



"Another bar fight, Inuyasha?" Sesshoumaru scolded in disbelief.



"Hey, I was just here to have a pleasant drink!" Inuyasha tried to justify, "They started it!"



"Is that the prince of the Tundra Wolves lying there on the ground?" Sesshoumaru asked in disbelief. He couldn't believe the foolishness of his brother! This could cause a major diplomatic incident. Again!



"Did... did you throw him through a window?" Sesshoumaru's voice raised in his version of a bellow.



"Only a little," Inuyasha replied.



"Two windows, your majesty!" Hiten helpfully called out.



"Yes, thank you Hiten," Inuyasha said with a forced grin, "that's not helping!"



Disgusted, Sesshoumaru snatched Inuyasha by the back of his neck and started to drag him roughly back to the palace. Inuyasha started to protest, but was swiftly cut off by Sesshoumaru's poison tipped claws digging into his neck.



"You've really done it this time, half-breed," Sesshoumaru growled. "I have just the thing to deal with you!"



----



Sesshoumaru grinned at the response he'd just received from King Higurashi of the Snowflake Kingdom. Like Sesshoumaru, he was also having problems with one of the younger members of the royal family. His granddaughter Kagome was causing all sorts of hell. She was far too strong willed for her own good, and the king was worried that she'd never find a suitable husband.



Sesshoumaru's proposal of forming an alliance by marrying her to his younger brother was well received. The hope between the two kings was that the two younger royals would expend all of their fighting on each other instead of raising hell everywhere else.



Sesshoumaru called for three of his best guards.



"Please escort Prince Inuyasha to my study and have the servants prepare some overnight bags for us. I have some... news to give him about a trip," he grinned.



The guards gulped. A grinning Sesshoumaru never meant anything good.



----



"No!" Inuyasha bellowed. "No! No! No!"



Sesshoumaru just smiled patronizingly at his brother's tantrum, "It doesn't matter how often you yell that. It's already been arranged, and it's too good of an alliance to pass up."



"I refuse!" Inuyasha's eyes flashed red and his ears twitched in agitation, "I will not be traded around like a whore for your precious kingdom! It can melt for all I care!"



"This arrangement was good enough for your mother," Sesshoumaru replied carelessly.



Inuyasha screamed in rage and leaped at his brother, "You shut up about mother! I'll kill you!"



Sesshoumaru rolled his eyes and twisted Inuyasha's arm behind his back, "Calm down brother, I didn't mean anything derogatory by that. But your mother and our father initially joined to cement an alliance between us and the Sunshine Kingdom."



"You just... you make it sound like a business proposal. Like our happiness doesn't matter," Inuyasha said dejectedly.



"That's because it is a business proposal. That doesn't mean you'll be miserable," Sesshoumaru replied. "Queen Izayoi was a very happy woman right until the end. As was our father."



Inuyasha tried his best to look over his shoulder at his older brother, "That's funny, I don't remember Dad being a happy woman at all."



Sesshoumaru whacked his little brother over the head.



"We're heading out to visit the Snowflake Kingdom tomorrow morning. I don't care if I have to drag you out and sit on you to make you stay put, you are going to cooperate."



----



"Hey! Get offa me!" Inuyasha yelled up at his brother.



"I did warn you," Sesshoumaru replied to his screaming cushion. He was disinterested in his little brother's antics and was going over reports that had been supplied to him by his spies and diplomats.



"Ow!" Inuyasha cried out as their carriage went over a particularly bumpy patch of road.



Sesshoumaru looked out the window at the passing scenery. The harsh ice and snow covered fields of his home were giving way to what looked like a more gentle, calm snow covered landscape. They were getting closer to the borders of the Ice Kingdom and the Snowflake Kingdom. He adjusted himself on Inuyasha's back, as he dug back into the reports. The hanyou was a surprisingly comfortable seat.



"Are you really gonna make me smell like your ass when I meet my future wife?" Inuyasha complained loudly.



'This is going to be a long few hours,' Sesshoumaru thought to himself as he continued reading about the Swamp King's plans to attack the Spider Kingdom.



----



"No!" Kagome bellowed. "No! No! No! No!"



Her grandfather groaned and took some calming breaths, "It's already done, child. There's no going back on it."



"We'll just see about that!" Kagome declared defiantly. "I'll just scare him away like I did Kouga, and Houjo, and -"



"You will do no such thing!" her grandfather interrupted. "The future of our very kingdom may well rest on the alliance this marriage will bring. If you anger the Ice Kingdom's prince it could send us into a war! Is that what you want?"



"No," Kagome answered, "but I don't want to be traded around for your convenience either."



"It's not like that," the Snowflake King said. "You're not getting any younger Kagome, and you'll be taking over this kingdom eventually. You're going to need an heir to continue the Higurashi line."



"So what's my future husband like?" Kagome asked, resigned to her fate.



"Well... he's a very, very proper young man..." the old man lied, hoping the young prince would be concerned enough about making a good impression that he'd wait until after the wedding to start his usual antics.



"Great, sounds boring," Kagome muttered.



"His mother came from the Sunshine Kingdom," her grandfather continued, "the Ice King seemed to feel the prince would be happier here than the Ice Kingdom..."



----



"Well, Inuyasha, this is Kagome," Sesshoumaru introduced the two teens, "she is obviously, the princess of the Snowflake Kingdom."



"Well, isn't that special," Inuyasha mumbled to himself. Sesshoumaru cuffed him on the head roughly and sent him a warning glare.



"King Sesshoumaru," King Higurashi interjected, hoping to avoid a fight, "Why don't I show you our ice garden and we can let the happy couple get to know each other."



Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes at his little brother, promising death if he screwed this up, "Indeed."



King Higurashi lead Sesshoumaru from the lounge, shutting the door behind them.



"You do realize they're going to run from that room as soon as we turn the corner," Sesshoumaru warned.



King Higurashi waved off that concern, "The room is bespelled. They're locked in there until we let them out. Now... that ice garden has a particular sculpture that will be a perfect spot to spy from."



----



Kagome mentally counted down from ten and walked over to the door. She pressed her ear against it, listening for her grandfather. She didn't hear anything, but she had to be sure.



"Hey," she turned to her dog eared companion, "put those things to use and tell me if they're hovering outside the door."



Inuyasha snorted but came over to the door and listened carefully, "I think we're clear to get the hell out of here."



"Excellent!" Kagome grinned and started to open the door, and was surprised with a zap. "Ouch!"



Inuyasha quirked an eyebrow, "Problem?"

"That old sneak! He put a spell on the door so we can't leave!" Kagome cried indignantly, "It's like he doesn't trust us!"



Inuyasha swore and looked over at the window, "Let's try the window."



He ran over and leaped toward freedom, only to be repelled back and thrown into a wall.



"Well, that didn't work," Inuyasha grumbled, and rubbed his head where it smacked into the wall.



"We're stuck..." Kagome pouted and slid down the wall, taking a seat beside her fiancée.



Inuyasha looked at her from the corner of his eye, "So what'd you do?"



Kagome looked at him, surprised, "Huh?"



"What'd you do to piss off the old man and get stuck with me?" Inuyasha clarified. "Must be a reason you're being forced to marry the half-breed freak from the Ice Kingdom."



"Grandfather says I'm too strong willed and unlady-like," Kagome answered. "It might have something to do with you being the sixth attempt at marrying me off. What about you?"



"I might have gotten into a bar fight. Or twelve," Inuyasha answered, looking down at his hands. Anticipating what Kagome was going to ask next, he continued, "I never start them. I just finish them."



"But that's a lot of fighting!" Kagome gasped.



"Keh, Ice Kingdom's got a lot of assholes. My mother was from the Sunshine Kingdom, so they hate that. She was also human, so I've got that working against me too," Inuyasha explained.



"I've always wanted to visit the Sunshine Kingdom," Kagome said wistfully, "I've heard it's beautiful."



"It is," Inuyasha replied sadly, remembering his summers of visiting his mother's homeland. Before she'd died.



"So..." Kagome looked slyly at Inuyasha, "tell me about your brawls."



Inuyasha laughed, 'This girl ain't so bad!' he thought. He'd been worried that his brother had married him off to a female Sesshoumaru.



"Well, there was this one asshole, Kouga-"



"From the Tundra Wolves?" Kagome interrupted.



"Keh, you know him?" Inuyasha asked.



"He was suitor number one," Kagome explained, "I think there must be pig somewhere in his family lineage."



"Well, he pissed me off a few days ago..." Inuyasha started to tell the tale of his latest victory at Hiten's bar.



----



A few hours later Sesshoumaru and King Higurashi decided the two (hopefully) lovebirds would be hungry and should be let out to have a nice dinner. They walked in on Inuyasha laughing uproariously as Kagome fell into his lap.



"How'd you keep him asleep long enough to shave that word?" Inuyasha asked.



Kagome blushed and fiddled with the wolf tooth necklace Inuyasha gave her after regaling his tale of his fight with Kouga.



"I have a gentle touch," Kagome offered as an answer. "And I didn't shave the word into his head, I shaved the negative space around the word."

This just made Inuyasha laugh harder, until they noticed their kings staring down at them.



"Hey, the wardens are letting us out!" Kagome cheered, "Now I can take you to that pub I told you about! They have this onion thing..."



Inuyasha let himself be pulled up and out of the room passed the stunned monarchs.



"Smell ya later Sesshoumaru! Don't wait up!" Inuyasha called out.



"Well," King Higurashi said as they came to their senses, "that went really well. I just might get great-grandchildren yet!"



Sesshoumaru grinned, "Let's push up the wedding date. I don't want to wait to be an uncle."
For Cutiekay182009 by ED Staff
Author's Notes:
Recipient's name: Cutiekay182009
Story title: Let it Snow
Rating: PG-13
Inuyasha sighed from his spot in the corner, rolling his eyes as Sango squealed at the gift she unwrapped the gift Kagome got her.

"Uncle doggy!" one of Sango's daughters stumbled over and reached for her favorite uncle. She was wearing the outfit that he and Kagome- well Kagome, had given her for this holiday.

Inuyasha gently lifted the little girl onto his lap, keeping a watchful eye to make sure her sister wasn't going to make a sneak attack. She seemed more interested in the discarded wrapping paper she was throwing in the air. "What d'ya want squirt?"

"Pwesents?" the little girl said.


"Keh, go see Aunt Kagome about that," Inuyasha said dismissively.


The girl looked up at the Hanyou, wide-eyed. "Why pwesents?"

"Beats me kid," Inuyasha answered, "some festival from her village."

"Oh."

She blinked her eyes drowsily, and leaned against Inuyasha, using him as an impromptu pillow.

"Tired squirt?" Inuyasha asked.

"Mmmm," she agreed.

Inuyasha smoothly stood up, carefully cradling his friends' child, "Hey wench, it's getting pretty late."

Kagome turned and took in her Hanyou holding the small child. "Oh wow, time sure flew! I didn't even realize."

Inuyasha handed the sleeping child over to Miroku, "I think this belongs to you."

"It is getting late," the monk agreed, carefully taking the precious bundle from his friend.

Kagome gave Sango one last hug, "Merry Christmas everyone!"

----

"Wow it's gotten c-c-cold," Kagome chattered as a gust of wind came up and cut her to the bone.

"Yeah, we'd better hurry back," Inuyasha agreed as a few snowflakes floated down to the earth. "I can feel a storm coming."

Kagome nodded, and picked up her pace, hugging her cloak tightly to her. They turned a corner, and it was like someone had decided to dump the entire sky's supply of snow on them.

The wind picked up, blowing ice pellets into their eyes. Inuyasha paused and brought his arm up to protect his face, "Looks like we got the start of a blizzard!" he yelled. He held out his hand for Kagome to grab, "Come on, we've still got a ways to go!"

Kagome reached to grab her husband's hand, but slipped on some darkened ice.

"Owww," she moaned, tears prickling at the corners of her eyes.

"Kagome!" Inuyasha cried panicked, "are you okay?"

Kagome took a deep breath and nodded, trying to get to her feet. Her right knee gave out, and she took another tumble to the ice.

"Clumsy wench," Inuyasha sighed as he bent down to pick her up. He held the girl tightly to his chest and shielded her with his sleeves.

The storm was starting to really pick up now, as far as Inuyasha could see the ground was covered. Even with his enhanced eyesight he couldn't see more than a few feet in front of his face. He was starting to get mildly worried. They needed to get back as soon as possible. Kagome needed to have her knee looked at, and at the rate the snow was falling.

"How sore is your leg?" Inuyasha asked.

"It's throbbing pretty badly," Kagome hissed, "why?"

"Cause we need to hurry home and I might have to take to the trees and I don't want to hurt you more," Inuyasha answered.

"In this? Are you nuts?" Kagome protested.

"Keh, I know this forest well enough to run blind," Inuyasha reasoned. "Besides, we're gonna get buried out here if we don't hurry."

A particularly strong gust came up and pelted them harder with ice pellets. Kagome huddled further into Inuyasha's chest. The Hanyou barely heard her muffled answer as she spoke into his chest, "Go, I'll get over it."

He grinned down at the precious bundle in his arms and took a running leap into the trees.

----


Inuyasha carried his precious bundle across the threshold of their hut. He shook his head, trying to dislodge the ice from his hair. He gently placed Kagome down by their fireplace. Luckily he'd been able to block most of the sleet and freezing rain with his body so she was mostly dry.

Kagome shivered, "I can't believe how suddenly that storm came up."

Inuyasha looked out the door, snow was quickly piling up, "Keh. I told you it was a bad idea to go out tonight."

"But it was worth it!" Kagome protested as she watched Inuyasha gather up some fire wood, "I saw the happy look in your eyes at Sango and her children's reactions to their gifts."

Inuyasha shook his head and concentrated on getting a fire started, "That wasn't happiness. That was pain from the noisy brats' shrieking," he lied.

"No," Kagome replied. "I've seen you in pain from shrieking. That was a happy Inuyasha I saw."

Inuyasha finally managed to light the kindling and soon had a roaring fire. He got up to change out of his wet clothes, "Just shut up and get warm!"

Kagome smiled as she watched her hanyou stripping from his wet clothes. "Hey, bring over the futon! This floor is hard."

"Keh, you got legs woman. Get it yourself," he grumbled.

"I also have an injured knee, man, remember?" Kagome replied sarcastically.

Inuyasha quietly cursed to himself and brought over the futon. He placed it in front of the fireplace and lifted Kagome onto it.

"Alright, let's look at that knee," Inuyasha ordered.

Kagome gingerly removed her pants, trying not to move her leg too much. Inuyasha helped her out and placed the pants off to the side. He closely examined her knee.

"That's a nasty bruise," he winced. He gingerly poked and prodded the injury, whimpering as Kagome hissed in pain. "Sorry. I don't think it's broken, it's swelling like a son of a bitch though."

Kagome sighed and let her head drop back to the ground, "I'm too busy to be laid up and not able to walk! And on Christmas too!"

"Keh," Inuyasha replied, placing a kiss on the bruise, "I don't care what happens, you ain't moving from this bed."

"You'd better get up here and help warm me up then!" Kagome ordered playfully.

"As you wish, my miko," Inuyasha smirked as he crawled up her body. He wrapped his arms tightly around his wife and nuzzled her cheek.

Kagome idly played with a strand of his hair, "Inuyasha, you ever think of having some noisy brats of our own?"

Inuyasha gasped softly, "Keh? You sure you're ready?"

"I don't see why not," Kagome answered, "we have this big hut. It's not like we're travelling all over Japan hunting demons anymore. Besides, I need something to take my mind off the pain in my knee."

Inuyasha grinned; you didn't have to tell him twice. Outside the lovers' hut, the storm raged on. The screams and howls of the hanyou and miko competing with the howls of the wind outside.
For Dangersque by ED Staff
Author's Notes:
Recipient's name: Dangersque
Story title: The Gift
Rating: YA(or older teen. Mostly just for swearing)

The Gift


“I'm pissed off enough to actually kill someone tonight,” Sango snarled. She smoothed an errant strand of her thick brown bangs back into the baseball cap she always wore backwards in rebellion of WacDonalds' uniform code. “So I'm warning you, if you came here to fuck with me or Kagome, I'lló”


“Calm your tits. I brought food.”


Magic words. The aggravated wage-worker's mood did a sudden one-eighty and she invited InuYasha behind counter. As if he worked there himself, and with none of the managers batting an eye at his waltzing in, he made a bee-line for the break-room and grabbed a table, setting a crumpled and grease-stained take-out bag down on it.


Sango went to close register and came back with Kagome, her company in misery. Both girls were set to work doublesówhich tonight happened to be evening shifts that bled into overnightsóduring their week of midterms at Sengoku University. Kagome looked more than happy to see InuYasha, and even happier to have gotten away from the zoo that was WacDonald's after-hours.


“Our hero,” she announced, before both girls sat down and dug into the food. They got a kick out of it being from WacDonalds' competition: the Burger Baron.


“Seriously,” Sango affirmed. “You wouldn't believe the kind of day we had.” With her mouth full of fries, she then began telling InuYasha how their shift opened and why the bad mood: an early dinner rush that lasted over an hour, and so nightmarish that one of the teenaged newbies up and quit.


“Speaking of quitting...”

InuYasha jumped in with how he quit his own job that morning:

“I'm over that old bastard, Totousai, playing senile when it comes time to pay me.”


He'd been with the blacksmith for the past three years as a clerk in his antique shop, getting paid well enough considering the work he didóand the occasional humiliating task, like heating up big cauldrons of water that InuYasha suspected Totousai used (and disturbingly, just once a month) for a bathóuntil the day Totousai stopped paying him. InuYasha never found out why, but formed his own theory combining the old man's gambling obsession with the mean Yakuza-type that took a sudden interest in his store. The first couple of weeks, InuYasha had stuck out not getting paid, hoping for a nice lump sum once everything got settled. Then he finally got tired of being stiffed his hard-earned money, and walked.


...which almost put him in the tough position of figuring out bill pay for the next couple of months. About seventy percent of his earnings he parceled monthly into tuition, food, clothes, and rent, while dutifully saving the rest for a crisisólike the one he found himself in now. Were it not for Kaede, his landlady, immediately understanding when he talked to her about his situation, and striking a deal with him that morning that obliged him to gratis repairs and maintenance of the building in exchange for living rent-free for a few months, he would have been in trouble. Now InuYasha could use whatever he had left in savings towards finishing off his last school year at Sengoku University without having to worry for another two, maybe three monthsóif he ate only Ramen noodles, and InuYasha totally couldóabout food and other expenses.


“Wait,” Kagome interjected as he explained all of this. She set down her half-eaten burger with a solemn, guilty look at it. “Why'd you waste money buying us food, then? We could've had Wacky Wings and fries on the house.”


InuYasha rolled his eyes. “Because I beat a nice severance pay out of Totousaió” though the pittance he'd extracted could hardly be called that. “óand because I fucking wanted to. So enjoy it, because until I find another job this is the last free meal you two are getting out of me.”


“This is also the first,” Sango snorted as she savored every bite of the enemy's french fries. “You're forgiven for neglecting us all of this time, though, because we needed this after that nightmare rush...and because you didn't bring the pervert.”


“I deserve a soda, at least, for that one.”


Sango stood up quickly, to distract from the slight blush that confused all as to whether or not she had actually wanted Miroku there with them despite her claiming otherwise. Some days, she seemed to like having InuYasha's best friend aroundóbut most days she couldn't stand the fool. Given the horror-show at dinner, InuYasha would have thought that today would have been one of those days in which his absence was a blessing, but he never understood anything when it came to those two. Sometimes it seemed like Sango and Miroku were a little closer than just friends. The four of them had met at Sengoku University, during freshman orientation, and remained close ever since. Miroku and Kagome even took the same pre-med courses, while Sango and InuYasha studied Criminal Justice.


“You know what? You do deserve a soda. Coming right up,” Sango said, leaving InuYasha and Kagome alone in the break-room. Kagome rolled her eyes playfully at the departure. From the look she leveled his way, it looked like she'd long ago given up trying to understand her best friend, too.


In her absence, they enjoyed a comfortable silence for another minute or two until InuYasha noticed that Kagome hadn't resumed eating her burger since setting it down guiltily.


“Finish,” he ordered with a pointed look at the Baron Burger. “Before it gets all cold and nasty.” He nudged a few of his nuggets toward her, too, not surprised to see her worrying about his problems when she had enough of her own to worry about. Not to mention the fact that she probably hadn't eaten since breakfast, if she'd even eaten then...


“I swear I could spare the chump change it cost to buy all of this,” he gruffly reassured her.


Kagome hesitated, and InuYasha didn't miss the way her hand inched into the pockets of her slacks for the couple of crumpled bills she'd earned in tips earlier. “Thank you, Yash, but you should still let meó”


“ópay me back some other time with those free Wacky Wings you mentioned earlier, and don't skimp out on the sauce the way Sango does when I order from her. I want extra, but not the spicy kind.”


`As if I'd take her money...' he thought, knowing how badly she needed it right now. Even more than InuYasha did, as her money kept light and gas on in the shrine-home she shared with her mother and little brother.


Months ago, Kagome's grandfatherówho'd been the sole provider for the Higurashi family, and manager of their Shinto Shrineóhad passed in his sleep, leaving Kagome and her mother to clean up the financial mess he left behind with his careless bookkeeping at the shrine's merch store, sporadic bill pay, and bad investments. Her mother took care of things at the Shrine, but to help out, Kagome signed on for extra evening and overnight shifts at WacDonalds, juggling the part-time gig with full-time schooling and her internship at a local children's hospital. All of this barely left her time to eat or sleep properly, and it showed on her face, the bill of her correctly worn hat and harsh lights in the break-room emphasizing the dark-circles scalloping her under-eyes.


Still, the smile she gave him when she finally picked up her food and resumed eating made her look breathtaking. “Deal,” she caved, and InuYasha was satisfied to see her putting away the double cheeseburger and the last of his nuggets.


“So what are you going to about a job?” Kagome asked. “It's kind of sad that you won't be at Totousai's Treasures anymore. Grandpa used to love that place.”


“I'll figure something out,” InuYasha shrugged. He'd already begun looking for jobs, hating the thought of potentially having to rely on someone else to get through school and pay his bills after doing everything on his own for so long. Bumming a few meals off of the girls every now and then, and bartering rent for free labor with Kaede was okay, but in the long-run, InuYasha wanted to maintain his independence and financially support himself.


Admittedly, his older brother, Sesshomaru, was in a position to help him outóand had even, on numerous occasions offered to help pay for his school and housing. Even though the relationship they had now was better than the one they began withóback when Sesshomaru found out that his father's “human whore gave birth to a bastard hanyou brat” and wanted nothing to do with himóInuYasha refused to accept his help or his handouts. The sudden change-of-heart seemed genuine, but InuYasha would take nothing less than a job offer from himówhich struck him with the sudden idea of asking Sesshomaru to take him on at the company.


“That's a great idea!” Kagome enthused, knowing full-well that the brothers didn't always get along and happy that something might eventually bring them closer.


Also, InuYasha's older half-sibling managed the business end of Taisho, Inc., a private security firm their father founded years ago, and without Sesshomaru knowing, InuYasha took up Criminal Justice with Taisho, Inc. in mind as his post-graduation goal. The company had a reputation of training some of the best bodyguards, security personnel, and private police officers in the country, and InuYasha wanted nothing more than to join the ranks of the company's elite security team. Though he didn't yet have his bachelor's degree in hand, he knew Sesshomaru would find him qualified, as in trying to “bond” these last couple of years, the brothers often sparred at Sesshomaru's private gym where InuYasha had bested him on more than one occasion.


Now that he really needed a job, it seemed the perfect place to apply to, and the idea grew on him the longer he thought about it. Why not get a head-start on his dream? Even if Sesshomaru refused to take him on as a guard just yet, he could intern or do some kind of clerical work and observe what all of the guards did on a daily basis, getting a feel for the job and his foot in the door.


“I hope it works out for you,” Kagome said, and the warmth of her palm laid on his hand spread all the way up to InuYasha's cheeks. “And if it doesn't, remember that Nazuna just quit andó“


Oi, did you two finish off all of the fries while I was gone?!”


Sango walked back into the break-room balancing three sodas on a serving tray. She handed Kagome and InuYasha their drink cup and held hers slightly raised for a toast.


Cheers, ya jerks!”


They laughed and bumped their paper cups together.


“To losing my job,” InuYasha toasted, but his slight grin gave away his not being upset anymore about having to quit his job at the antique store. He'd known hanging with the girls would make him feel a lot better about it, and after figuring out what to do nextóand even reconciling with the idea of having to ask for anything from Sesshomaruóhe was even a little excited about his future.


“And to us hating our job,” Sango added, wrapping an arm around Kagome, who rolled her eyes at her and InuYasha.


“To friendship,” Kagome said reproachfully. “And new beginnings.”


“But being broke in the mean time,” InuYasha snorted.


“And having to forget about Christmas shopping this Black Friday because we'll have no money for presents.”


“Or shopping in general.”


“Cheers aren't supposed to be depressing, you guys!” Kagome laughed when InuYasha and Sango went back and forth toasting their mutual brokeness and bad luck.


“Besides, Christmas isn't all about the presents,” she admonished. “It's about being with the people you love.”


Kagome said this and looked very sad, no doubt thinking about her Grandfather and what it would be like spending the upcoming holiday season without him. From what she'd told them, and from what InuYasha remembered about the man, every holiday he soliloquized before the family a story about where something they'd perceived unimportant came from. One year, he told them about the Goshinboku tree, and it had actually been an interesting, though impossible story about two lovers transcending time to be together. Another year, he'd traced back the origin of an ordinary-looking butter knife to an ancient sword that brought the dead back to life.


Crazy as they soundedóand despite InuYasha being almost sure of him making those stories upóGrandpa Higurashi had bought something special to the holiday season that they'd be missing this year. This time, InuYasha laid his hand over Kagome's.


“Don't be sad,” he told her. “Sango and I are the black clouds. You're the Sunshine, so if you're going to talk about Christmasóor about anything, make it something happy.”


Kagome looked up at him and smiled, brilliantly and beautifully, in a way that brought light and life to her clear blue eyes again. “I'm lucky to have the best friends ever,” she said softly. “How's that for something happy?”


He blushed. “You guys!” Sango gushed, leaning over the table for a big group hug. “Are we having a moment?”


InuYasha `keh'd in answer, pulling away from the two girls and awkwardly clearing his throat. Sango laughed, then reached under the table for her purse.


“But guys,” she began, fishing a pack of post-its and a booklet out of her bag. “Christmas is totally about getting presents. Check this out: my wish-list in case either of you hit the lotto and decide you really love me.”


InuYasha raised an eyebrow. A bright-red moon formed the apostrophe in the shop's name on the calendared cover as part of the iconic logo emblazoned onto it.


“Stacy's?” he asked, having heard of the high-end department store. “I don't even love myself that much.”


“You might wanna work on that,” She sneered, middle-finger raised while she cracked open the booklet with her free hand. Several hot-pink notes already stuck out of it andówhen flicking through she found something else that seemed noteworthyóshe carefully peeled off another post-it (purple this time) and smoothed it onto a glossy page.


“It's like window shopping,” she explained. “Just something I do when I'm bored.” Kagome leaned in to watch Sango earmark a cashmere sweater and a pair of brown boots. “Every time I see something I want, for Christmas or whenever, I make a note of it for later.”


The hanyou noticed the price tag on a post-it marked bracelet: $300 for what looked like silver floss wrapped around Supermodel and Stacy's spokeswoman Midoriko Edo's thin wrist. “How much later?” he teased. On WacDonald's pay, Sango wouldn't be able to walk into a Stacy's without immediately being laughed out of it, so making a wish-list of high-priced items seemed pointless and silly. He would have told her so if Sango, ignoring him, hadn't passed Kagome the catalog and given her a you-know-you-want-to look that made herówith a shy, pretty smileópeel off a post-it of her own.


“Pretend money isn't an issue for once,” she encouraged. Kagome quietly turned a page, but instead of haphazardly slapping the post-it onto the first thing that caught her eye, she took her time deliberating which item deserved the marker she'd tacked to her thumb. She took forever, skimming women's fashions and a section with perfumed inserts that made InuYasha's nose itch, but finally settled on an item...which InuYasha never got to see, because the second she set her post-it down, after only a split-second of gazing longingly at whatever it was, she shrieked and slammed the catalog shut.


“Working hard, ladies?” Miroku grinned, having slithered up behind them without InuYasha even noticing. He'd been too focused on Kagome, extremely curious about what item she'd want for herself if money weren't an issue. Since they'd broached the topic of Christmas, he'd toyed with the idea of getting Kagome a present as she'd never, ever forgotten about him on his birthday or any other gift-giving holiday, and she almost never expected anything in return. This yearóand especially if his job situation worked itself out in timeóhe wanted to surprise her with something nice. Maybe whatever she'd tagged in the Stacy's catalog...


...if he ever got a chance to wrench it back from Sango, who'd rolled it up to beat Miroku with.


“Who the hell let you back here?” she demanded, thwacking the twenty-two year old hard upside his head. She then pointed her makeshift weapon at InuYasha. “And you. I want my soda back, you traitor. You said you didn't invite him!”


InuYasha shrugged. He actually had mentioned his plans to drop in on the girls during their break, but Miroku had claimed he was busy. “I guess his pervert senses were tingling.”


“For you, Sango,” Miroku grinned. “Only for you.”


“Then why is your hand on Kagome's ass!?”


InuYasha shot out of his seat, uncomfortable with the idea of Miroku touching Kagomeówho sat ramrod straight, her face tomato redólike that. He bared his claws. “Move it or lose it, pervert,” he threatened.


“Sorry, I'll move it.”


Sango shrieked again, tipping them off as to where Miroku's hand had moved. “Aaaargh! I put a sign on the door and everything, letting everyone know not to let you back here into our employee break-room.”


Miroku, unfazed by his beating, pulled a burgundy cap out of his back pocket and put it on.


“Well I'm an employee now, so...”


WHAT?!” - all three of them shouted in unison at Miroku. He chuckled, enjoying their horror-struck reactions.


“Yeah, apparently some girl quit earlier. I saw the `Help Wanted' sign just as I was walking in and IóSango? A-are you crying? My love, it won't be that bad!”


-*-*-*-


“You idiot!” InuYasha told Miroku, picking up the catalog Sango had used to pummel him and smacking him in the shoulder with it. Not long after his arrival, Kagome's manager announced the end of the girls' break, so she'd had to half-drag a devastated Sango out of the room, leaving InuYasha and best friend alone there. “Did you really get a job here?”


“I really did,” Miroku swore. “Serendipitous, isn't it? I was out all day looking for a job and just when I decided to give up and join you over here I saw their manager tacking a `Help Wanted' sign on the door. Now I don't have to work for my Uncle Mushin anymore. Was really getting sick of working at the shrine.”


“Sango's gonna love having you around here,” InuYasha sniggered. His best friend grinned. For whatever sadistic reason, he actually enjoyed getting a rise of Sango, and could piss her off worse than any other person.


“Those were tears of joy, I'm sure, just like the one's I'll be crying when it finally hits me that I'll get to spend so much time working with our two gorgeous girl friends.”


InuYasha picked up the catalog and waved it threateningly at Miroku. “Oi, don't try anything funny with Kagome.”


Miroku backed off. “Fine. What is that thing anyway? Stacy's? Since when do youó”


“It's Sango's...but that reminds me,” the hanyou muttered, suddenly remembering that he'd wanted to get a look at the item Kagome earmarked. If anything, it would give him some idea of what to get her this Christmas, and if it was affordable enough, he could even surprise her with the exact item. Miroku peered quizzically over his shoulder, and peeled off the post-it on a page in a section for lingerie before InuYasha could turn the page in time.


He whistled low, eyes dancing with mirth when he saw the satin negligee. “Is this stuff she wants to buy? Because my lady has excellent taste, I must say.”


InuYasha elbowed him away, and then explained the deal with the post-its.


“...and then Kagome picked something, but I never got to see what it was because your dumb ass came up behind them andó”


“Must we relive that? Get to the point. Why do you care so much about what she picked?” Miroku asked. “It's probably not something she imagined ever getting for herself. Just a game, like Sango said.”


InuYasha shifted uncomfortably, hating having to get all sentimental with a friend who might make fun of him. “I don't know,” he shrugged. “She's just...been through a lot this year. I thought I might get her something nice.”


Miroku picked up the empty take-out bag and waved it at him. “Bringing two hungry girls food is doing something nice. This isómore. When are you going to admit that you like her?”


“Keh, she's okay,” InuYasha snorted, purposely misunderstanding Miroku's question and lifting the catalog up to cover his face. He flipped past several post-it marked pages to find the one Kagome might have marked, until finally resigning himself to asking Miroku for help.


He handed him the catalog. “See if you can find anything.”


With gusto, Miroku set about looking through the book, until he finally `aha-ed'. Then blanched.


“Wow, never took her for the type to like expensive jewelry like this...”


He handed InuYasha the magazine. On the glossy page, Midoriko Edo clutched the glittering pink orb hanging off of the thin silver chain around her neck. Admittedly, it was something that suited Kagome's tastes: a necklace which was simple, elegant, and...


$2000?!?! There's no fucking way she'd go for something like that. How can you be so sure Sango picked this one and not Kagome?


“Sango doesn't like that shade of pink,” Miroku said, sounding sure of himself. InuYasha raised an eyebrow, not wanting to know how his friend knew her well enough to know which shades of a color she either loved or hated. “Anyway, now you know. Search over. You've got two months to think about getting her something else foró”


“I could make that kind of money in two months,” InuYasha said absently. He was staring hard at the page in the catalog, and the longer he looked at it, the more he could see Kagome wearing it. She hardly ever wore necklaces, but something like this would look great on her. Even better than it did on the Supermodel wearing it on the page. To InuYasha, Kagome was worth that kind of money, as she was the most selfless person he'd ever met. Always doing for others and never expecting anything in return. He knew he had to get it, too, when he read the item's descriptionówhich boasted it being a replica of an ancient, wish-granting item from the Japanese Feudal Era. So, not only would he be getting her something pretty and wearable this Christmas, it'd be something with a story to it, to make up for her Grandfather not being there to tell them a story of his own.


Miroku looked at him like he'd suddenly sprouted human ears on the side of his head.


“You're not seriously considering getting her something that expensive.”


InuYasha bit his lip. “You didn't see the way she looked at this thing.”


“No, but I saw the way you were looking at her, my love-struck friend.”


The hanyou didn't deny his friend's statement, knowing that if he were honest with himself, the real motivation for him wanting to get something for Kagome were the things he'd been feeling for quite some time about her. There was just...something about the girl that made him think a little crazy, but she also made him happy, and stole his breath away with her smiles and melodious laughter. Thanks to everything she'd been going through, though, she hadn't been laughing or smiling all that oftenótoo overworked and drained of energy to have fun and be cheerful the way she used to be. InuYasha knew that something like this could cheer her up, so he made up his mind about getting it for her. To Miroku, however, he tried to play off his sudden sentimental feelings about all of this, with feigned annoyance and a punch to the arm.


“Keh. You're full of shit, Miro. You barely took your eyes off of Sango's ass while they were here.”


His perverted friend grinned. “I won't deny that. So, how are you going to make this kind of money after only just losing your job? Prostitution? Gambling? Selling one of your kidneys? Because if you're interested in the latter, I might actually know someone in the business of harvesting organs...remember my creepy cousin, Naraku?”


InuYasha rolled his eyes, while tearing the page with Kagome's Christmas present out of the Stacy's catalog. He then sighed loudly, knowing what he'd ultimately have to do to afford Kagome's gift.


“I think I'm gonna talk to Sesshomaru about a job.”


-*-*-*-


“Absolutely not.”


`Hopes and dreams crushed,' InuYasha thought sardonically. `Thanks a lot big brother.'


He chased after Sesshomaru, whom he'd cornered just as the businessman was leaving Taisho, Inc. “Why the hell not?” he demanded. His brother hadn't even spared him a sideways glance after he'd sprung the job question on him, nor had he deigned to explain why he'd unexpectedly turned him down for a position within the company.


Sesshomaru halted in the middle of the underground parking lot, mid-stride and shooting an icy glare at InuYasha. “Let's review,” he said stoically. “You corner me after-hours in that filthy red t-shirt and jeans, without a resume or the courtesy of even asking me how my day went and then expect me to give you a job? Try doing that with human resources and see if they don't give you the same answer I did.”


“...but you're my brother. I just thoughtó”


“óthat that relationship entitled you to special treatment?” Sesshomaru cut him off. “I don't think so, half-wit. You want to work here? Fine. But you'll need at least a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice or a related subject, several licenses I know you don't have, and like every other Taisho, Inc. hopeful, you'll need to submit an application to human resources. Within two to four weeks, someone will get back to you about an interview date, and if all goes well with that and the background check you canó”


“The ONE fucking time I've ever swallowed my pride to ask you for anything,” InuYasha interrupted him, seething. “You are such an asshole.” He felt humiliated, and regretted ever having come to Sesshomaru about this. His fists balled tightly at his sides, and he even had to hold back a few frustrated tears.


Sesshomaru, seeing this, mercilessly reminded him of the time he swore he'd never need his brother's handouts.


“Which is what this would be,” the older demon pointed out. “I can't give you a job when you're so clearly underqualified, and if I did, you'd never make it far within this team. None of them would ever respect you, and everyone would know you got the job because of me.”


The hanyou carefully measured his next words. “You know I can do this kind of job. You've seen me in action. I can fight better than any of the guys on this team, and I'll be the best damn Security Guard the company will ever take on.” ...but in his heart, he knew Sesshomaru's reasons for not wanting to hire him made sense. His own brother had started in an entry-level position and climbed his way up the corporate ladder until he finally succeeded their late father as CEO of the company. No one ever questioned his position as head and everyone respected him. InuYasha wanted, and had planned on doing the same thing after graduationóbut working the other side of the company, where all of the action and hands-on experience was to be hadóhe just need the job a little earlier than expected. He tried explaining this to Sesshomaru, describing everything he'd told the girls earlier about quitting his job that morning, and how he intended to stay in school and keep a roof over his head in between jobs, and to his surprise, Sesshomaru's glare softened before he cut his eyes away.


“Believe it or not, this Sesshomaru is proud of you for everything you've accomplished these last couple of years,” he said, stunning InuYasha silent. His brother sighed loudly. “But I can't help you, and it's not because I'm an asshole. I simply can't hire you as you stand before me now. Maybe in a few months, when you've finished up with school.”


InuYasha grudgingly accepted his answer, no longer angry but feeling like he'd been kicked in the gut. He'd thought it would be easy, and that he'd had everything figured out. Still hopeful, he wondered: “Isn't there anything you could have me do around the office? I wouldn't mind grunt work: fetching coffee, making copies, scrubbing toilets?”


Sesshomaru shook his head. “You'd be putting an overzealous little imp out of a jobóand trust me. Jaken needs it more than you do.”


“Fine, thanks anyway, bro,” InuYasha said solemnly. He turned to leave, refusing a ride home from Sesshomaru because he wanted to walk and clear his head. Surprising him, Sesshomaru called out from behind him.


“Little brother, wait.


InuYasha turned around, looking hopefully at his brother. “I know of someone in need of a personal assistant.”


And for the first time ever he saw Sesshomaru Taisho squirm uncomfortably.


“...but when I tell you who it is, know that I'm really not trying to be an asshole.”


-*-*-*-


If InuYasha thought begging a job off of Sesshomaru was an exercise in swallowing pride, standing before Kouga Ookamióa guy he'd never liked, but who was independently wealthy and indebted to his older brother for some financial advice that wound up turning profitówas a damned trial. The cocky wolf-demon sat King Geoffrey-style on his computer chairówhich didn't make him look regal or intimidating at all. Just ridiculous. Still, Kouga smirked and enjoyed having InuYasha before himóand very soon, at his mercy.


“You are to address me as `master' and answer only to `bitch.' I jump, you ask `how high?' I tell you to do something, you do it. Disobey me, and you'll catch these fucking hands. Are we clear?”


InuYasha's eyes narrowed on the wolf. At what he was willing to pay, the hanyou would be able to afford Kagome's Christmas present within the next month and augment what he'd already had in savings. He weighed his options carefully before looking at Kouga and answering his question:


“I don't fucking think so.”


As much as he liked Kagome, he wasn't about to let Kouga make him his “bitch.” There would be other jobs, he reasoned, but as he prepared to leave he heard the wolf-demon heave a small object at him. It just barely missed hitting InuYasha in the head, and whenóannoyed by the wolf demon's immaturityóhe went to throw it back, he saw it was small cellular phone.


“You're no fun at all,” Kouga grumped. “Fine. All I'll need is for you to clean, launder my clothes, grocery shop, prepare a few meals, and run some of my errands. You'll get a list every day in the order that I want things done. Don't fuck any of it up and answer that phone whenever I call you on it. Are those conditions to your liking, mutt face?”


“Much better, wolf-shit.”


His new boss sat upright in his chair.


“Good. You can start tomorrow. There'll be a lot to do. Trust me when I say I plan on working you to the bone.”


InuYasha looked around the wolf demon's apartment. It badly needed cleaning, affirming Kouga's statement that he'd be working him hard in his employ. The place looked a pig-sty, with old take-out bags and used coffee cups littering various corners of the house and clothes both dirty and clean heaped in a pile on Kouga's couch. Then there was the smell.


But InuYasha wouldn't let any of that dissuade him. He needed the money and could put up with working for Kouga for at least the next two months. However, he was curious about how the thirty-somethingówho looked as if he rarely, if ever, left his self-proclaimed “man cave”ócould afford to pay him the kinds of numbers Kouga promised.


“What the hell do you do anyway?” he asked, wondering if his job had anything to do with the vintage movie posters and comic covers covering every square inch of Kouga's apartment walls.


Kouga, who'd expected him to leave by now, had his eyes affixed on his computer screen, where his video game character just lost a fight against his white-haired, huge sword carrying enemy. He grunted.


“Don't go spreading this around, but I'm a software engineer. I recently built a program that sets up underprivileged youth living in third world countries with a virtual mentor to teach them reading, math, and science.”


“Oh.” InuYasha was shocked. Never in a million years would he have guess Kouga's answer, or that it would be one that actually earned his grudging respect...


“I'm just fucking with you, idiot. My parents were loaded, and now that my trust fund kicked in I have more money than I need paper to wipe my ass with,”Kouga laughed. He resumed playing his video game without looking back at the hanyou. “Now be sure to get here early tomorrow. I need my laundry washed before I run out of clothes to wear.”


InuYasha glanced at the pile of laundry Kouga wanted him to tackle tomorrow and nearly wretched. The smell coming off of it hit him straight in the face, and if that weren't bad enough, a pair of Kouga's dirty drawers sat at the very top of the pile.


Great.”


`What did I get myself into??'


-*-*-*-


“What did I get myself into?!”


InuYasha banged his head when he fell forward against the table in WacDonalds' break-room, and resisted the urge to repeat the painful move. `And repeat it, and repeat it, and repeat it,' he thought, thinking back on Kouga's ridiculous request that morning for his milk to be stirred into his coffee ten times counterclockwise, and then again in the other directionóor the late night call that came before that demanding InuYasha show up at his apartment to investigate a loud banging (which happened to come from the living room TV Kouga had forgotten to turn off before bed).


After telling his friends about the misery that was the past three weeks' “work,” InuYasha looked up at Sango, Miroku, and Kagome, desperate for any advice they could give him.


“Wow,” Miroku said unhelpfully.


Kagome frowned, and Sango shook her head. “And here I thought we had it bad.”


“Thanks guys,” he muttered sarcastically, envying that his three friends all worked together, and probably even enjoyed being put on the same shifts. Even Sango and Miroku seemed friendlier with one another, as when InuYasha had come in to hang out on their lunch breaks, he noticed a little bit of hand-holding and Sango for the first time choosing to sit on the same side of a booth as Miroku.


Kagome offered up the only would-be helpful suggestion, but he wasn't willing to act on it: “Why don't you just look for another job?”


InuYasha had already considered it, but for now, Kouga paid him better than anyone else he'd seen offering jobs close to the holiday season. He'd even tried going back to Totousai, but the Antique Shop, Totousai's Treasures had come under the ownership of the Yakuza-type he'd seen menacing the blacksmith, and Kaijinbo informed him that, at present, even the mob wasn't hiring.


The hanyou grunted in answer, not wanting to tell Kagome how close he was to being able to buy her the necklace he'd decided to get her in that very same break-room nearly a month ago. He had the ripped out page from the Stacy's catalog still in his back pocket, and had even gone into the department store on Main Street to keep an eye on it's availability. In person, the trinket was even more stunning, and he tried to keep in mind Kagome's happiness whenever Kouga sent him a list of ridiculous chores, or called him in the middle of the night and made him get out of bed for something stupidóall because he could.


At first, InuYasha resisted doing some of the more ridiculous things Kouga requested, but when Kouga upped the amount he'd be willing to pay for InuYasha to be on-call at all hours of the day, the hanyou found himself giving in a little, and then giving in a lot when he decided he could now afford to buy and spend more on other people's Christmas presentsósomething he'd never really gotten into before. Usually, Miroku and Sesshomaru were the only people he brought presents for and it was always easy, thoughtless gifts he could get away with purchasing last minute: a tie or something equally as boring for his brother, and a renewal of Miroku's annual Hustler and Penthouse subscriptions. This year, he found himself putting a lot of thought into gifts for the people he didn't mind having around. Kagome made him realize that day in the break-room, when he'd told her to cheer up, that he was fortunate to have some amazing friends, a Landlady who didn't toss him out on the streets when he came to her about losing his job, and even his brotherówhose way of apologizing for that day in the parking lot of Taisho, Inc. had been to send him text-messages with recommendations for places to go for the security licenses he'd need before applying to work at his company.


So, in the near future, working for Kouga would pay off around Christmas. He just needed to reconcile himself with another three weeks of absolute torture and ridiculous requestsólike a two-A.M. wake up call demanding he come over and turn off a light in Kouga's kitchen because the wolf himself didn't feel like getting up, or reading and opining on drafts of the cringe-worthy “pick-up artist” book Kouga had been writing for the past couple of months.


I might as well put this God-given gift I have at picking up ladies to good use,” Kouga explained the first time he'd ever handed InuYasha a copy of his writing to review. The hanyou was no book critic or a pick-up artist, but even he knew it was bad. Still, Kouga seemed enthusiastic about the book and spent all of his waking hours writing itóhence, his need for a personal assistantóand InuYasha wasn't about to put himself out of a job by discouraging him.


And speaking of job...

His “work phone” went off with the ringtone he set for KougaóSlayer's “I Hate You”óand he groaned.


“What?” he snottily answered, while his friends looked on sympathetically.

“Hurry up and get here with that food I told you to get! You're taking forever and I'm starving.”


InuYasha sighed and hung up. Thanks to him, Kouga had a well-stocked pantry full of food he could be making for himself if he were actually “starving.” He was just too lazy to cook and had been craving a WacDonalds burger.


“And ask that pretty friend of yours out on a date for me, would ya?”


InuYasha ignored him. Kouga had accompanied him one time to WacDonalds and taken notice of Kagome. As if he were going to help the self-proclaimed “pick up” artist pick her up...


Hanging up, he snatched the bag of greasy take-out (which he'd had Sango prepare, specially requesting that she drop his burger's patty on the floor a few times) off of the table and said goodbye to his friends.


`Just a few. more. weeks.'


-*-*-*-


Two weeks later...


“Is today the day?” the grinning Stacy's saleswoman at the jewelry counter asked. She'd gotten so familiar with InuYasha, since he'd come in so many time to check on Kagome's necklace, that the two of them even spoke on a first-name basis.


InuYasha, with a little over $2000 in his pocket put his hand on the glass counter and peered down at the expensive necklace. He managed a slight grin of his own, excited to finally be purchasing it.


“Yep, today's the day, Kagura.”


The saleswoman squealed, and because of their friendly rapport, InuYasha knew it wasn't just because of the commission she'd be getting off of the sale. She actually knew what buying the necklace meant for him, after she'd bluntly asked him the millionth time he'd come in to check on it if he was ever intending on buying it. InuYasha really liked her. Unlike the other salespersons in the store, she wasn't pushy or aggressive about making her sales. She was easy to talk to, a little goofy, and made him feel like he wasn't a total idiot for dropping this kind of money on a girl...


...but maybe that was how she operated, and a mark of her good salesmanship. Still, InuYasha considered himself good at reading people and he saw that her excitement for him seemed genuine. When Kagura reached underneath the counter and pulled out the necklace for him, she smiled widely.


“You never told me who the lucky girl was,” she teased.


InuYasha felt himself blush. “Just a friend,” he shrugged, pulling his money out of his pocket and getting ready to pay. Kagura's jeweled eyes flashed with amusement.


“I wish I had a friend like you. Any chance you've got a hot older brother you haven't told me about yet?”


InuYasha wrinkled his nose. “I've got an older brother, but I don't know about him beingóoh, excuse me.”


His phone rang mid-sentence and he picked it up. Thankfully, it wasn't Kouga calling him to run another errandówhich in his final weeks, had gotten progressively more ridiculous. It was Kagome, and InuYasha started when the tone of her voice gave away that she'd been crying.


“Y-yash?” the distraught girl asked on the other end of the line.


InuYasha's heart raced. “What's wrong?


They took everything.”


-*-*-*-


“It's okay,” InuYasha reassured the scared and crying girl. They sat in her bedroom, Kagome leaning against his chest with his arms curled around her, and everything around them in disarrayóher desk overturned, several drawers pulled out of her bureau, and clothes and broken glass littering the floor. Downstairs was even worse, as actual furniture had been stolen and the Christmas tree set up in the living room knocked down. It had also been bared of the mountain of presents Kagome and her mother had put under it.


Miss `Christmas-isn't-all-about-the-presents' had gone all out for her family, wanting to make the holiday special for all of them, and putting a lot of thought and nearly all of her extra spending money towards the effort, only to have lost it all when the Higurashi home was unexpectedly burglarized.


The hanyou stroked her raven-colored hair. “At least you're safe.”


Kagome looked up at him, her eyes and nose red. “I guess you're right. I justóthe Christmas presents. Mama, Souta. I know that's not what matters right now. The holidays are supposed to be about all of us together, but I...I really wantedó”


“Shhh,” InuYasha hushed her, gently brushing a knuckle underneath her eye and wiping away a tear. “Don't worry about that right now. We'll figure something out.”


`I'll figure something out,' he thought, cradling the crying girl back into his chest. `I'll make this right.'


...then he remembered the money burning a hole in his pocket. The money he'd almost spent on Kagome's necklace, and he grinned into her hair.


`I know exactly how to fix this.'


-*-*-*-


When he was a kid, back when his mother was still alive and Christmas had actually been fun and worth celebrating, InuYasha figured out a number of ways to sneakily get a look at all of the presents his parents bought for him and put under their Christmas tree. Extracting himself from Kagome with the excuse of going downstairs and seeing if his mother needed help talking to the police about the burglary, InuYasha went to find Souta sitting on the couch. The poor kid was staring sadly at the empty space where his television and game system used to be.


InuYasha sat down next to him.


“Hey runt, just curious: did you happen to sneak a peek at any of the presents that were under the tree?”


Souta looked him as if to ask why any of that mattered now, but the seriousness on his face broke open when the mischievous memory made him smile.


“Duh.”


`I knew it!' “Good,” InuYasha praised him, then leaned in so Kagome's mother wouldn't hear his whispered plan. “Go to tell your mother that we're going out for ice cream. I'm gonna need you to help me out with something.”


-*-*-*-


Two thousand dollars poorer on Christmas day, InuYasha never felt richer when he got to witness from the branches of the Goshinboku Kagome and Mama Higurashi open their front door on Christmas day to a mountain of wrapped presents. Having picked most of them up with Souta, and then a few on his own after another humiliating week of working for the wolf-demonóthings like pots and pans for Mama Higurashi, stationary to replace what had been ruined in Kagome's ransacked room, and games for Souta to go with the new game system he'd splurged on as a `thank you' for his helpóthe look on their faces when both girls dropped to their knees crying, laughing, and hugging one another had absolutely been worth it.


The next day, Kagome approached him in the back-room of WacDonalds.


“I can't believe someone did all of this,” she gushed, wearing the simple sterling-silver necklace with a purple, shard-shaped charm that he'd gotten her as an extra little gift around her neck. “It's...I don't know how to thank whoever did it, but how incredible.”


“I'm happy for you,” InuYasha said, having decided against telling her that he was the one who'd bought them all of their Christmas presents. He'd also made Souta swear to secrecy, binding him to a `promise between men.'


Kagome toyed with the charm on her necklace.


“You know, they didn't steal your gift that day.”


She peeked up at him through her lashes, her eyes glittering mischievously. InuYasha raised an eyebrow.


“You got me something?”


Souta had mentioned a red scarf, but InuYasha opted against buying himself something in favor of getting the Higurashi's everything they wanted. Kagome stood on tip-toes and leaned in, until they were practically nose-to-nose. “This,” she murmured, surprising him with the gentle press of her lips against his.


“Keh, they better not have,” InuYasha said when she pulled away, light-headed and grinning goofily after the unexpected kiss. Kagome lightly smacked him in the shoulder.


“I know it was you, punk.”


She caught him off-guard and InuYasha barely managed to sputter out how Souta had broken his promise not to say anything. Kagome laughed and shook her head.


“He didn't give you up. The box of security cameras for the shrine from Taisho, Inc. did.”


Confused, because he hadn't been the one to gift them that, InuYasha shot off a quick text to Sesshomaru. Within seconds, his brother's response confirmed that he'd snuck a package of his own into the pile.


Merry Christmas, baka. I figured you'd appreciate this in lieu of me getting you anything else.”


InuYasha grinned, grateful for once that his relationship with his brother had improved over the last couple of years. Before turning back to Kagome, he texted back: “Thanks. I got you something, too, but you're going to have to pick it up yourself. Her name is Kagura, and she'll be waiting for you at eight in front of the Stacy's on Main Street.”


“So why'd you do it?” Kagome asked softly.


InuYasha carefully debated what to tell her.


`Because you're beautiful, and the most selfless person I know. Because your family is pretty great, and none of you deserved what happened at the shrine. And because I'm head over heels, and hopelessly in love with you...'


But in the end, he settled on:

“Because I made some extra money working for that idiot, Kouga.”


Kagome giggled, knowing full-well the torture he'd put himself through to buy heróand even some of their other friendsóChristmas gifts this season.


“And,” InuYasha continued, emboldened and leaning in for another kiss. “Because I fucking wanted to.”


Hand in hand they walked out of the break-room, happy and wanting to enjoy the leftover magic of the holidays away from the dingy back area. Their two newly-coupled friends had been sitting in WacDonalds' outdoor tables waiting for them to join them. InuYasha sat down and wrapped an arm around Kagome.


`Everything I put myself through for her was worth it.'


...especially when, in the middle of another make-out session, he scented Kouga coming up behind Kagome, to their outdoor table. He'd mentioned still planning to ask Kagome outóthis time, just to spite InuYasha and making use of his infamous “pick-up” artist skillsówhen InuYasha had quit as his assistant.


The look on his face had been absolutely priceless, more so when InuYasha thread his fingers through Kagome's dark hair to deepen their kiss, and also to discreetly stick up his middle-finger behind her.


`So worth it.'

For DarkAngelOfLov by ED Staff
Author's Notes:
Recipient's name: DarkAngelOfLov
Story title: New Beginnings
Rating: G

"I'm freezing," Kagome complained as she crunched her way through the snow, now frozen over with a bit of ice. Two years had passed since she came to the Feudal Era to be by her hanyou's side, but she still wasn't quite used to the unbearably cold winters. 'It probably doesn't help that my priestess robes aren't as heavy as they could be.'

"Keh! You're the one who wanted to come out here," Inuyasha reminded, annoyed that they had left their warm hut to trek all the way to the well.

"Inuyasha, don't make me say the word." The young miko had her reasons for doing this and she just hoped it would work out.

"Why do we have to go back anyway? We already celebrated the holidays with your family. We were supposed to stay with Sango and Miroku to watch their brats open presents." He had offered to carry her on his back, but she declined, choosing to walk on her own and he took a little amusement in watching as she struggled. "Still want to be stubborn?"

Kagome ignored him. "We'll be returning before morning. Besides, you ate like a pig tonight, so this walk will do you good. Enjoy it."

Inuyasha's ears twitched as frothy white fell all around them. What was there to enjoy? He had seen snow plenty of times, and even though it was Christmas, the holiday didn't make it any more special. A cold and sudden blast hit and he couldn't take Kagome's trembling anymore. "Oi," he softly mumbled, removing his suikan and draping the thick, crimson cloth around her shaking shoulders.

Kagome peered up at him, smiling as a pink glow spread across her cheeks. "What about you?" she asked. "Won't you be - "

"I'm a half-demon," he cut in, looking away lest he start blushing, too. "I'll be fine and you still haven't told me where we're..." His voice faded as she led them to a path that took them in the opposite direction of the well.

"We're almost there," the miko informed, more determined than ever to evade his questions. The warmth of his suikan was comforting and she found herself snuggling deeper into the fabric that was drenched in his rich scent. That is, until she heard a growl and stopped.

"Why the fuck are we here?" Inuyasha snapped, glaring at the ancient tree that had once been his prison.

"We're here because you said that I could have anything I want for Christmas, and what I want is for you to carve our initials inside of a heart right here," she explained, pointing to the spot where bark would no longer grow.

Inuyasha eyed her somewhat irritably. "Why here? You know I hate this place." The memories, the things that occurred at the Goshinboku... he hated to think about them.

She could feel his displeasure, but she held her ground. "I know you do. The sacred tree holds a lot of your past, and because of that, you avoid this part of the forest." She averted her eyes, unable to stop the question from forming. "...Is it because of her?"

"No," he firmly replied. "She's the ghost of things that were never real, but I lost a lot of time here, Kagome." His ears flattened against his head. "Time I can never get back."

The priestess closed the distance between them and gently wiped away the snow that had collected upon his face. "That's true, but it's that time that allowed me to find you," she reminded. "I know you hate this tree for what it represents, but can't you see that it marks our beginning as well?" Kagome smiled, hoping he would finally understand.

In that moment, Inuyasha knew he couldn't deny her request because she was right. All that time, he could only see heartache when he looked at the Goshinboku, and so strong it was, it had begun to overshadow the happiness he had found there as well. Taking Kagome's small hand in his, he brought it to his lips. "I'll do it."

Digging his claw into the aged wood, the hanyou began to carve the shape of a perfect heart, his Kagome's heart, as snowflakes danced around them on the wind. When he was done, he glanced back for her approval and the blush he had successfully avoided earlier came roaring back as she beamed at him. "Now, we just need..." He trailed off as he added the initials I then K. "What do you think?"

"Hm... I think it's missing one more thing." Pushing him aside, Kagome approached the tree and removed a tiny paring knife from her robes.

Inuyasha stifled a chuckle. It was the saddest looking carving known to man, but the smile on her face made it the most beautiful work of art he'd ever seen. Holding her from behind, he whispered, "You were right. It wouldn't be complete if it wasn't 4eva, but are you sure this is all you want?"

"Yes, it's perfect..." Kagome leaned against him for just a moment and then she twirled around, her smile as bright as the sun. "It's your turn now."

"My turn?" he questioned.

Refusing to divulge a thing, she took his hand and they started to run through the flurries toward the Bone Eater's well. Inuyasha had no idea what was going on, but when she made the leap, he swiftly followed her to the other side....

OoO

The clock had just struck midnight and the Higurashi family were already fast asleep in their beds when Inuyasha and Kagome walked out of the well house. Christmas lights and colored lanterns adorned the shrine and draped the shrubs, but what caught the hanyou's attention was the sacred tree. Walking toward it, he couldn't help the warmth that built in his chest as he touched the 500 year old carving that still held fast. "So, is this my surprise?" he asked.

"No, silly... this is." Revealing a small wrapped package that she had hidden behind her back, Kagome placed it into his outstretched his hands. "Merry Christmas, Inuyasha."

Excitement and curiosity made him tear the paper off, but what he saw made him blink. Twice. "It's made from the skin of the fire-rat," he acknowledged, "but..." Inuyasha held the suikan up to his chest -the suikan that could barely fit one arm. "I think this might be a little too small."

Kagome burst into laughter as she embraced her confused husband beside the Goshinboku. "Like I said," her hand rose to touch the now ancient carving, "this is where it all began. Your new life." She stared into his golden eyes. "Our new life... all three of us."

It took only seconds for Inuyasha to realize what she was saying, and when he did, he dropped everything he was holding to scoop his wife into his arms for a kiss that would last until the end of time. For far too long, he had been chained to the past and tethered to his pain. But just as she had done back then, Kagome saved him from himself and gave him another reason to live.

"Merry Christmas, koishii..."

'This is my wife. This is my family, and they're all I'll ever need.'

For Kag0me313 by ED Staff
Author's Notes:
Recipient's name: kag0me313
Story title: Changes In a Break
Rating: M
Kagome couldn't get over how cliché the scene between them truly was. She and Inuyasha had grown up together as neighbors, played together, gone to school together, and graduated together. They shared a group of friends. They worked during their summers when they became old enough. And now that they were old enough one of them was going off to college, but it wasn't her. Inuyasha, with his need to run wild and free, was going across the country to further his education while Kagome stayed close to home, not wanting to leave the shrine and it's care to her aging grandfather. Now she found herself standing with his family on the sidewalk, his and his father's trucks loaded with what he needed to live in the dorms until winter break.

Inuyasha found himself conflicted. He wanted to sweep Kagome off her feet, stuff her in the truck, and take her with him. He would get an apartment for them instead of living in the dorms, they would take classes and work, and after graduation he would marry her. He looked at the love of his young life, aching to tell her what was in his heart. Instead, he hugged his childhood friend tight, kissed her damp cheek, and promised he would be back by Christmas to make as many macabre snow people as they could manage.

Kagome hugged back just as tight, wishing him luck, and promising to write him every week while he was away. The drive from Nagoya to Tokyo was only two or three hours, but she knew he lifelong friend wouldn't be making that trip every weekend. He had plans to work, and throw himself into his studies. When your chosen university has produced four Nobel Prize winners, you don't go in a slacker. At the last minute, just as he pulled away from her cheek, she kissed him. Her right arm wrapped around his neck, and her left hand rested on his face while she tasted him. Drawing his bottom lip into her mouth she ran the tip of her tongue over it, getting him to open up for her. The kiss she pulled him into said everything they both needed it to, and when they pulled away their hearts were full, however their minds were confused. Smiling, they let each other go.

As the heat of summer made way for the crisp air of autumn Kagome kept her promise and wrote Inuyasha every weekend, mailing her letters out on Monday. She studied in Tokyo, lived at home, helped her family with the shrine, unpacked her cold weather clothes and packed away her warm weather clothes. All the same things she did at the same time the year before, except Inuyasha wasn't draped across her bed making fun of her wardrobe. There was no laughing, clothes war, or sitting on the floor eating sandwiches and watching T.V. with her clothes scattered all over the room. It took her half the time to get done, and she didn't enjoy it nearly as much.

Then she noticed Inuyasha's letters began tapering off. At first he was writing her back every week, talking about all the freshman events the university had, how good the food was, all the different places there were to eat on campus, the things he was doing off campus in his free time, the new friends he was making, and how tough his classes were. After the first few weeks, though, they began coming every couple weeks. By the time he had been gone to school three months she had written him 12 times, and he had written her seven. Even though she couldn't find anything new to tell him about herself she still managed to keep him up on what was going on with their friends and in their neighborhood, keeping him anchored to home. Inuyasha's increased lack of responses felt like he was breaking away. In Kagome's mind the worst possible thing was happening; he was making a new home for himself and leaving his old one, with her in it, behind.

Life at school was hectic for Inuyasha. First he had to unpack, and if anyone told you that wasn't a learning experience they were a liar. He had never moved homes so he had no idea what it was to pack what he needed, get it where he needed it to go, and then unpack it. His mother had been a Godsend, having packed all his stuff, but at the same time a curse, because he had no idea what was in each box and suitcase. Instead of opening and unpacking one container at a time, he opened and dug through them all until he found what he was looking for. He figured this way his stuff would get put away as he needed to use it. The problem was after the first month he still wasn't unpacked, his room was a shambles, and he got tired of hunting for things so he went out to buy what he couldn't find.

He thought it was great the university had so many freshman functions until he found he was required to attend at least four of them and write a paper on his experience at each one. The paper was to be turned in to the professor who handled his classes and oversaw his university experience. It was all part of his admission process as a first semester freshman. Then classes started. They were a bitch. Inuyasha had always been a good student, not advanced, but A Honor Roll, scored highly on entrance exams, and always produced topnotch work. Nothing could have prepared a student like him for classes like this. His class load wasn't heavy, but the classes themselves were intense, with many additional hours of research spent in the library or online to understand the daily work. The midterm exams were given at the beginning of the of semester and final exams were given at mid term to allow the students ample time to thoroughly research their answers and give thoughtful, thorough answers. Some classes require projects whose grade weights were almost as heavy as midterms and finals.

Inuyasha found just going out for a beer and pizza with classmates had to be carefully scheduled in for a specific lot of time unless it was a study meal, in which case it was usually ordered in and everyone crashed at someone's place. Meals rotated around classes and included studying, he didn't date, he couldn't work like he had planned, and there was no chance of coming home during long weekends. Those were extra study time, and a day to catch up on sleep. Then there were Kagome's letters. At first it was easy to keep up with them. He was homesick and grateful for any news she could give him about what was going on back home. He also found he was heartsick and missed her more than he had expected. He knew he couldn't tell her what was really going on at school; he was overworked, didn't eat or sleep enough, and could barely make it from day to day as the semester drug out. It was easier to just not write until he had to.

Kagome checks her calendar. She thought Winter Break would never get here! It felt like it had been months since the last time she had seen Inuyasha, and even though it had, they felt like they were the longest months of her life. Now she was down to a few short days, and she was certain they would be the longest days of her life. Giving a long sigh she walked over to her desk and settled back into her chair, her short break leaving her somewhat refreshed and ready to finish her algebra homework.

Just as she finished her last problem the doorbell rang. Opening her bedroom window she yelled, "I'll be right down!" before closing it again, slipping on her house shoes, and heading for the stairs. Being so close to the holidays the deliveryman was wearing out her doorbell, and she had to learn quick to time her studies around the time he delivered, or he would interrupt and aggravate her beyond belief.

Stopping before the door she straightened her sweat suit, and brushed some stray hairs out of her face, trying to restrain them back in her ponytail holder. Satisfied she was at least presentable enough to answer the door for a deliveryman she opened it.

"Can I help you?" The smile froze on her face. "Oh my goodness, Inuyasha! What are you doing here!"

Inuyasha stood in Kagome's doorway thinking he had never seen a more beautiful sight. She was in her old high school sweat suit, black hair pulled up into a messy ponytail with little flyaway hairs sticking out in random places. The way she always looked when she studied.

He stepped in the doorway, closing it behind him, and it was all Kagome could do to not launch herself at him. She stepped back while he took off his coat and hung it on a hook on the wall and slipped off his winter boots. Once that was done he held his arms out to her, a clear invitation. She stepped into him, allowing him to wrap himself around her like his hugs always seemed to do. Her arms wrapped around his barrel shaped chest, and she buried her face in his neck, breathing him in. "I've missed you," she whispered.

He pulled away to look at her. "I've missed you." This time he took the kiss, and it was just as sweet as the last one. Kagome pulled away, taking his hand.

"Come with me." She tugged at him, backing away, then pulling him toward the stairs. There was nervousness between them, but they didn't doubt what was going to happen.

Once in her room Kagome closed and locked the door. Already sitting on the bed Kagome straddled Inuyasha's lap. He looked up at her and said, "This is not a fling."

"Of course it isn't."

Winter Break went by quicker then either of them would have liked. Inuyasha hid out at Kagome's with her family for a few days of peace and rest before heading home as scheduled. He helped her study for her final exams, and once they both were finished it was like every other winter holiday they had together. They watched holiday movies, bought and decorated a tree, went to Christmas parties and dinners, hung out with friends, and went sight seeing and shopping. They even broke out their copy of Calvin & Hobbes and tried to recreate all of Calvin's scenes of snowman mayhem. This year the only difference was how they chose to spend their time alone together, which was usually in bed.

Before they knew it Winter Break was over, and it was time for Inuyasha to head back to school. This time he promised to call or Skype instead of write, and he would be home for Spring Break, even if he had to bring schoolwork home. With things developing between he and Kagome, he wasn't willing to waste a week of no classes and not go home to see her.

His promises seemed to pacify Kagome, and she was pleased that she would see him in a few weeks time instead of having to wait until the end of another semester. In the mean time, Kagome went back to her schoolwork and helping with the shrine. She found, though, come spring when it was time to start integrating her summer clothes, some of her pants weren't fitting. She didn't seem to notice so much with her winter clothes because they were roomier to allow for the weight she always gained thanks to her mom's rich winter meals, and tasty winter baking. Deciding to give it a few days, Kagome continued to finish hanging her clothes and get back to her schoolwork.

When Spring Break finally arrived Kagome was ready. She had worked ahead in her syllabus so she wouldn't have any assignments that would take away time from Inuyasha. Her last Skype call with him on the day he was due home had her pacing the house the last hour of his drive.

"Kagome, why don't you sit down? Your pacing is making Buyo nervous." At the sound of his name her fat cat meowed lazily from his perch on the chair cushion under the kitchen table. "Besides, your color isn't good. Let me get you a glass of tea." Mrs. Higurashi pulled out the closest chair, and shooing the cat away, offered it to her daughter.

"I'll take the tea, but I can't sit down, mama. I'm too nervous." Her hands covered her lower belly, rubbing the slight bump unconsciously. The gesture wasn't lost on her mother. Mrs. Higurashi had been noticing changes in her daughter since Christmas break she didn't think her daughter had noticed in herself. Such as when she was relaxing her hands rested over her lower abdomen instead of by her side as they used to. She was snacking more often at all hours of the day and night. Her color was a little off. Some mornings she was more pale and sluggish than others, while other mornings she was bouncing and glowing. And her shape was slowly changing. Especially her lower belly.

"Kagome, please sit down. I'll go make your tea, and sit with you." Kagome did as she was asked as her mother smiled and retreated into the kitchen.

Coming back several minutes later with two tea cups Mrs. Higurashi began the conversation she had been rehearsing in her head for several days.

"I noticed you and Inuyasha have become closer." She smiled at her daughter's blush in her cheeks over the rim of her teacup as she took a small sip of her jasmine green tea. "I'm very happy for you. But I have been noticing some physical changes in you, dear, that have me concerned, and I would like you to do something for me."

She looked at her mother, confused. "What kind of changes?" Her mother conveyed her concerns, to which the young woman replied, "You think?"

"Yes, I do. My last trip to the market I bought a pregnancy test. Would you go take it?"

"Sure, mama." Kagome smiled at her mother. She knew no matter the result she would be in good hands. Her mother may be disappointed, but she knew she would help her do the right thing. Rising from the table she smiled nervously before asking, "Where is it?"

"It's in my bathroom under the counter. It should only take a few minutes, and afterward we'll talk, ok?" She smiled at her daughter and took her hand in hers, squeezing it assuredly. "Go on." Taking a deep breath the young woman left the room.

A full half hour later Kagome finally emerged from her mother's room, the pregnancy test stick in hand. Inuyasha had just arrived, and he and her mother were sharing a cup of tea at the kitchen table chatting about his drive. They both turned to her with smiles on their faces until they noticed her sway on her feet, and her eyelids flutter. Both people were out of their chairs, rushing toward her. Inuyasha caught her before she fell to the floor.

"Lay her on the couch," Mrs. Higurashi commanded, following him. Once laid out she sat next to her daughter, touching her face. "Go to the bathroom upstairs and wet a washcloth for her forehead." Once he left the room she got up off the sofa and went to retrieve the stick her daughter had dropped when she passed out. Kagome was pregnant, just as she suspected.

Handing the washcloth over to Kagome's mother, Inuyasha picked up the throw blanket off the back of the couch and covered Kagome with it. Picking up her feet her sat on the couch and rested them in her lap. Looking at her mother he said, "Well, that was sudden."

Dabbing at her daughter's forehead she spared him a glance and said, "You'll have a lot to talk about when she wakes up." She handed him the stick. Looking at it he groaned and let his head fall back against the couch.

"What did you think would happen? Neither of you came to me for protection, I'm guessing you didn't go to your parents, either, and you obviously didn't get it on your own." He shook his head no. "I'm not scolding or judging you, Inuyasha. It was simply inevitable if you didn't protect yourselves. And what about STD's?"

"There weren't other partners." He didn't even think to be embarrassed to admit to his girlfriend's mother they had been each others' first. This conversation left no room for anything but complete candidness.

"I'm relieved to know that's one less thing we have to worry about since we have our hands full enough." Deciding she had fussed over Kagome enough, she left the wet cloth to rest over her forehead, and retrieved a chair from the kitchen. Sitting it next to the couch, she sat down facing Inuyasha. "I have suspected she was pregnant for a while and have had time to think about options."

"I am going to be blunt, Inuyasha. Kagome will need you here to love and support her. Otherwise your relationship will probably never survive if you continue to go to school where you currently are, although you have plenty of time to finish out the semester before she will really need your help."

"Here is what I am prepared to offer you if you decide to keep the baby. The two of you live here, both will continue to go to college here, and raise the baby together. I will help as best I can, and one of you will have to work to help support the baby."

"I do not expect you to marry. And I know you both need time to get used to this change, think about things, and talk things through, however, you do not have all the time in the world. This is going to happen fast. She is possibly three months along already. There are doctor appointments, shopping, a nursery to get ready, classes to get through, your parents to tell, and you must decide what to do about the pregnancy."

Inuyasha raised his head and looked at her confused. "What do you mean?"

"Kagome has options, Inuyasha. She could choose abortion, adoption, or she could choose to keep and raise the baby." Mrs. Higurashi was trying to be as gentle as she could, but she had to be practical as well, and this boy obviously needed someone to lay it all out for him. "She may decide she isn't ready to be a mother."

"But I know her. She wouldn't kill our baby. She values life too much to do that." Inuyasha knew she was trying to help, but he was starting to get pissed. Who did this woman think she was to suggest Kagome would spread her legs and allow someone to suck their baby from her body? Did she not know her daughter at all? And he wasn't any happier about the idea of adoption, either. He found out he was going to be a father all of about 15 minutes ago, but the thought of someone else taking the one thing he and Kagome had created together out of love, and never being able to see that child again had begun to eat away at him. There was no other answer for him but to take her offer and raise their baby. "Of course we'll take your offer. I would have it no other way."

Mrs. Higurashi smiled. "I'm glad to know you will support her, but you should talk this over with Kagome as well."

Inuyasha nodded, and let his head fall back against the couch.

Coming too several minutes later Kagome opened her eyes slowly. She noticed she was laying on the couch, her mother sitting next to her on a kitchen chair, and her feet in Inuyasha's lap. She Sat up slowly, drawing her knees up to her chest and wrapping her arms around them.

"Mama, can I have some water?" Her throat was scratchy, and her mouth felt dry.

Inuyasha reached over and wrapped her blanket over her shoulders. "Kagome, we need to talk."

"I know. Just give me a minute, ok?" Taking the offered glass from her mother Kagome took a few small sips before handing it back.

Sitting the glass on the coffee table Mrs. Higurashi said, "I'm going to give you two a few minutes." She smiled and the young couple and left the room.

Not knowing what else to say Kagome started with, "I'm pregnant." She had been looking at her knees for the first ten minutes after her mother left waiting for Inuyasha to say anything. When he didn't she decided to lay it all out on the table and get the worst over with.

"I know." He replied. He had been leaned over, elbows on his thighs, rubbing his hands together for those same ten minutes, not knowing what to say to start. He didn't want to admit he knew too much and push her when the news was obviously a shock for her. "What do you want to do? Your mom says you have options."

"Options?" Kagome was genuinely confused. Once the stick told her she was pregnant her stomach was in knots, then she threw up. She had been so happy and excited and nervous and scared, but there was no question she was going to keep their baby. So what was he talking about? Did he not want the baby, too?

"Yeah," he stood and started to pace. "Like adoption, or…"

Kagome cut him off. "Oh, I see." Her tone was instantly nasty. "Go ahead and take care of the problem so you can go back to college, live the academic high life, and leave here worry free. I thought you knew me better than that." She stood up to stomp away, but as soon as she was on her feet one hand went to her forehead and another to her stomach. She stood completely still. Inuyasha was at her side in an instant, easing her back to the couch and wrapping her back up.

"You can't jump up like that or your blood pressure will drop. Let me get you something to snack on to settle your stomach." Inuyasha walked into the kitchen. Kagome could hear him rummaging in the cabinets before he came back with her favorite, oyster crackers. "Makes no damn sense," she heard him grumbling.

"What?" She took the offered bag.

"They don't even taste like oysters."

"Cause that would be gross." She dropped a few in her open mouth.

"Anyway, it was your mother who said you have options. She was warning me you might choose one of them instead of the most obvious choice, which isn't even a choice for the Kagome I know at all." Now he was being all cocky, sitting next to her on the couch with his head resting in his hands behind it.

"Which is?" She popped a few more crackers.

"I told her you'd never go for that. She actually gave us an option, if you're interested." He cocked his left eyebrow and peeked at her out of the corner of his left eye as if challenging her.

"Meh. I guess." She shrugged in feigned indifference.

"For us to finish our semesters, then me transfer back to Tokyo, move in here, get a job, and help you with the baby while you go to school, too." He paused for dramatic effect. Stretching, he added, "I told her I'd think about it."

Reaching for her water Kagome took a sip before she added, "Yeah, maybe."

Inuyasha took her glass from her and sat it back down on the coffee table. Lifting his arm Kagome took her place underneath it, appreciating the offered snuggles.

"So, you'll move in after finals?" She looked up at him for confirmation.

Kissing her forehead he replied, "Absolutely."
For KeiChanz by ED Staff
Author's Notes:
Recipient's name: KeiChanz
Story title: Storms
Rating: R
‘Shit. I’m out of everything.’ Kagome thought to herself as she scanned the near empty contents of her fridge. She had been putting off grocery shopping due to the bad weather they had been having lately. The weather in her city was giving a new meaning to spring showers. It was still the beginning of April and they had gotten rain storms every day of the week.


Kagome sighed and walked out of her kitchen. She had the week off from school which meant she’d be spending a lot more time in her little one bedroom apartment. There was no question about it, she’d have to put on her big girl panties and drive the ten blocks to the supermarket. A quick glance out of her living room window let her know that the storm still hadn’t let up from this morning.


She puffed out a large breathe and grabbed her jacket and umbrella from her little coat rack near the front door. She worked part time at a small café near her community college which helped her to afford her tiny one bedroom apartment, above said café. Luckily the owner, a nice older lady, didn’t mind renting to a college student for cheap. She had plans to look into a larger living space once she graduated next year.


After she made sure her jacket was zipped up tightly, her wallet in her pocket and her keys were in hand, she popped open her umbrella and made her way out the door. A blast of wind hit her square in the face making her squint her eyes as she quickly locked her door and headed down the stairs located on the side of the building. She jogged over to her little four door car and quickly opened it and jumped in.


She glanced at herself in the rearview mirror and quietly chuckled. Her hair was damn near soaked even though she had the umbrella over her head the entire time. She shook her head and started old trusty, letting it warm up before pulling up. She turned on her wipers to the highest setting, but it did little for her vision with this rain. What should have been a fifteen minute drive, turned into thirty minutes.


“Thank you!” She yelled aloud to herself as she finally pulled into the parking lot of the supermarket. It was a small all in one shop sort of place. One of those stores where you could get groceries, medication and clothes all in one stop. With the small amount she made at the café, she was quite fond of Min’s Market.


The parking lot was practically empty so she managed to score a close spot. She quickly popped open her umbrella again, grabbed her keys and got out of the car. She ran up across the lot to the doors and let her umbrella down once she was under the wide umbrella under the stores name. She walked shook her umbrella off the best she could before stepping into the store.


The little jingle went off above the door and the owner, Min, turned from where she was at the service counter and smiled over at Kagome. Kagome smiled and waved as she made her way towards the grocery section of the store. She grabbed a cart on the way down the snack aisle. A girl needed sugar on hand for…..anything. She grabbed a few bags of chips and some chocolate bars before heading over to get the necessities.


Milk? Check.


Bread? Check.


She went through her mental checklist and finally made her way over to the frozen foods. Lost in her mind about which flavor of ice cream she wanted, she never noticed the guy she was heading straight into. The jolt of her cart knock her out of her head and back into reality. She quickly looked up and winced when she noticed the man rubbing his leg and scowling at her.


He had long black hair pulled into a low ponytail and grey eyes that were spitting fire in her direction. His seemed to be nicely built under his gray V-neck shirt and black jacket. Kagome gave him an apologetic smile.


“I’m so sorry. I was checking my list in my head and spaced out. I didn’t even see you.” She blurted out. It was just her luck. She would run her cart into a cute guy and look like a complete ditz.


“How about paying a little more attention next time and saving the next persons leg.” He gave her a crooked smile and walked over to the freezer ending any further conversation. Kagome decided to skip ice cream and high tail it before she embarrassed herself further. She made her last stop at the fruit section and grabbed a bag of grapes, a pineapple and a few mangoes.


Pulling off to the side she did a quick calculation and determined she would have enough money left over for casual spending. She usually put any left cash in her savings, but every once in a while she’d treat herself to something. Feeling happy, she made her way over to the checkout lanes humming to herself.


Feeling her cart jolt again she quietly cursed under her breath, wondering who she bumped into now. She sighed and lifted her head, ready to apologize when she saw a grey eyed face smirking back at her.


“You’re really dangerous with that thing. I’m not sure you should be operating a grocery cart.” She smiled back at him, noticing the T.V. dinners he had folded under one arm along with a liter of what looked like Coke.


“Maybe my cart just likes you.” She instantly regretted the words. How lame did that sound? ‘Nice going Kagome. Way to ruin a perfectly good flirting moment.’ She smiled at him and glanced around looking for the shortest line. There were only two open and looked like they had about eight people each.


She heard him chuckle as she made her way to lane 3 and stood behind a man arguing with his five year old daughter. She pushed her wet hair behind her ear and settled in to wait.


“Your cart likes me? That’s the story you’re going with?” He asked from behind her. She rolled her eyes to the ceiling and inwardly groaned. This is why she didn’t talk to the opposite sex much. She wasn’t the best at flirting and usually spewed something ridiculous like that.


“Yeah, you’re a total cart magnet.” She answered dryly. He gave another chuckle before moving to stand next to her.


“I could have sworn the saying was ‘babe magnet’.” He joked and smiled at her. Kagome couldn’t help smiling back and giving a small laugh.


“I guess you’re the exception to the rule then.” She answered back as she began to tap her foot lightly. The person at the front had a full cart and only had half of it on the conveyor belt. This was going to take a while.


“Is that so, Miss No Name?” She looked at him with a raised eyebrow. “You haven’t given out your name. Now’s a good time.” He smiled over at her.


“Sorry, mommy said not to give my name to strange men.” She joked.


“Well, that’s good advice, but I’m one of the good guys.” He said back. She glanced at him again and had to admit he had a really nice smile.


“That’s what they all say.”


“No really, I’m a cop.” He replied proudly. She looked at him and narrowed her eyes. Nothing about him said ‘cop’ to her.


“I don’t see it.”


“You don’t see what?” He asked clearly confused.


“You being a cop. I don’t see it.” He cocked his head to the side and gave a small smile. She saw something flicker in his eyes before the smile broadened and he chuckled. He moved his jacket to the side, revealing the badge attached to his belt.


Kagome opened her mouth to respond when a loud noise sounded from the front of the store. She turned and noticed a tall man at the front doors, locking them. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed another man grab the store owner, Min, and toss her into a chair.

A loud bang let out and Kagome heard herself scream as she was thrown to the floor. In a matter of seconds, all hell broke loose. Kagome looked up from the floor to see people scattering in different directions and noticed Grey Eyes crouched above her aiming a gun at someone towards the front of the store. He left off two shots and then grabbed her. He pulled her up and dragged her through an aisle as more shots rang out.


“What the hell is going on?” She asked him as they ducked down by the pasta aisle. He was looking around with his gun raised and raised one finger signaling her to wait a minute. He leaned over to check the aisle next to them and then turned towards her.


“Looks like a stick up. I need you to stay down and be quiet.” He whispered quickly to her. “There’s about four of them up there and armed from what I can see. I’ll be right back.” He then stood and moved quietly down the next aisle.


Kagome could feel her heart racing and her breathing was getting out of control. She closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths, trying to calm herself so she could come up with a game plan. She heard someone scream and another shot ring out. Her eyes flew open as she heard footsteps moving towards where she was hiding. She moved quietly over to the next aisle and slipped under one of the long tables that held baked bread and muffins. Min always put decorative table clothes over them so she would be slightly hidden.


She slowed her breathes as the steps drew closer until she could see the persons black boots a few feet from the table. She scooted over towards the backside of the table when she heard a second set of steps. She leaned her head down further to try and see which direction they were coming from, but she didn’t see any shoes. The steps sounded close now and right when it dawned on her where they were coming from, she was snatched from under the table by the back of her jacket.


A startled yell left her mouth and was quickly cut off by the back of a large hand connecting with her face. Stars flashed behind her eyes and she tasted blood in her mouth.


“Got another one trying to hide under the tables.” A deep voice said from behind her. The same large hand

wrapped around her upper arm and shoved her forward. Dragging her to the front of the store. She noticed a few of the people who were in line now huddle in a corner of the store with another tall guy in all black standing over them with a gun.


The guy pushed her in the opposite direction towards the service counter, where she noticed a shaking Min standing with yet another armed tall guy in black. ‘What the hell is with the theme?’ She thought to herself as she was pushed to stand next to Min. Her eyes darted around taking in her surroundings. She saw a couple of people peeking from behind aisles and she found herself seeking out a pair of grey eyes.


She didn’t see them.


“Where the hell is that guy you were with?” One of them asked her. They were wearing masks and both guys had brown eyes. There was no telling them apart.


“I-I don’t know.” She answered quickly and averted her eyes. This was the shit movies were made of. This didn’t happen to normal twenty three year old college seniors. All she wanted was some food for her tiny little apartment so she could survive another week.


“Find him. That motherfucker shot Rick. I want him gone.” The one near Min yelled at the other guy that still had a grip on Kagome’s arm. The loud mouth seemed to be the ring leader. Kagome remembered the two shots she saw Grey Eyes make and wondered if that was when he took down one of the robbers.


Tall man number two finally let go of her arm and walked off back down the aisles. Kagome glanced at Min and gave a small smile to the older woman. She looked shaken up, but didn’t look like she was harmed. She stood there quietly and looked around again for Grey Eyes, now wishing she had just exchanged names with him. ‘Does he even know they have me?’ She thought to herself and then shook the thought from her head. Why would he be concerned with her? He didn’t even know her.


A loud noise sounded from the back of the store, like a large…..something hitting the floor. Kagome craned her neck to try to see what was happening but couldn’t see anything. She looked up towards the Ring Leader and noticed he was distracted saying something to Tall number three. She leaned over quickly and whispered into Min’s ear. Min looked back at her and nodded before looking away like nothing happened. Now she just needed a diversion.


She had to wait no further.


A shout came from the direction of the loud noise and Ring Leader ran in that direction. Kagome snuck behind the service counter and grabbed the bat Min always hid back there. She snuck back around, hiding the weapon behind her back. She nodded at Min and then tip toed up to Tall number three who was once again facing away from her and watching the small group huddled together.


Once she was right behind him, she took a deep breath and swung as hard as she could at his head. There was a whack sound and then he dropped. Kagome noted a bit of blood on the side of his head and felt her stomach turn, but she wouldn’t let herself be sorry. Who knows what they were going to do to her and the rest. Min quickly came over and began to lead the group towards the side service door on the other side of the counter. Once they were through the door, Kagome turned back around and scanned the area.


She could still see others hiding around the aisles and tables. She was just about to make her way towards one of the aisles in hopes of bumping back into Grey Eyes when a fist hit the side of her face. She fell to the ground, holding her now throbbing cheek. She was distracted by the pain and didn’t see the boot about to connect with her midsection until the burst of pain hit her and made her yell out.


“You fucking bitch!” She recognized the voice of Ring Leader.


She felt dizzy and could taste vomit in the back of her throat. She attempted to curl into herself, but it made everything hurt more. She saw his boot coming at her again and flinched, fully prepared for the next bout of pain. It never came. Instead, Ring Leader came crashing down beside her in a tangle with Grey Eyes.

She watched as the two rolled and fought on the floor, trying to overpower each other. She began to feel a bit lightheaded and thought she was imagining the shouts coming from the front door. She watched through heavy eyes as a swarm of what looked like officers rushed in and went in every direction. She heard the other hostages making squeals of relief as they were rushed out of the door. She also heard the thunderstorm of threats leaving Ring Leaders mouth as he was led out in cuffs.


Kagome tried to lift her body, but it felt way too heavy. Her vision was getting blurry and her cheek now felt swollen. She could imagine what she would look like and gave a small chuckle, which she immediately stopped because it hurt way too much.


“We need a stretcher.” She heard a familiar voice to her left say. She opened her eyes when a cool hand touched her non swollen cheek and saw Grey Eyes looking down at her. He was frowning.


“I could have sworn I told you to stay put.” He said to her while looking over her injuries. “I should go down to the station and beat the shit out of him again.” He mumbled to himself.


Kagome opened her mouth to speak, but changed her mind when she felt a slight pain near her ribs. They had to be broken.


“Be still no talking, well actually, you can speak one word.” He said looking at her with a small smile. “Do I get to know your name now?”


Kagome felt herself smiling back and whispered out, “Kagome.” He smiled at her and took her hand in his, lightly shaking them.


“Nice to meet you Kagome. I’m detective Yamata, but you can call me Inuyasha.” She couldn’t help the light chuckle that came out her mouth and she did the best to ignore the pain coming from her battered ribs.


The stretcher finally arrived and she was lifted and strapped onto it. Inuyasha walked next to it, still holding onto her hand as they arrived at the ambulance. She noticed the cop cars surrounding the place and the shitload of news vans and reporters. Inuyasha blocked a few of them from approaching her but she noticed one camera did get a shot of her face. ‘Just great.’ Her parents and friends would know about this before she was even loaded into the ambulance all the way.


Inuyasha let go of her hand long enough for her to get settled into the ambulance and then he lifted himself in, much to her surprise. She heard someone call out his name and noticed him turn towards the voice.


“We need you down at the station to make your statement.” The voice said. Inuyasha glanced at Kagome and then back towards the person.


“I’ll be down in a bit.” Was all he said before the doors were closed. He turned towards Kagome and smiled. She gave a small smile back.


“You should get your work done.” She said quietly. It was a little hard to speak with her cheek feeling like a rock.


“I’ll get it done later. Right now I’m riding with you and making sure you get everything you need.” He said as he took her hand again, linking their fingers together.


“Plus I need something from you.” He gave her a smirk and Kagome furrowed her eyebrows. What could he need from her?


“What’s that?” She asked.


“Any woman brave enough to clock a guy three times her size in the head with a bat deserves a night out. So I need your number to make that happen.” He said with a broad smile that lit up his eyes.


Kagome laughed, ignoring the pain in her ribs. How a simple trip to get the grocery store turned into a battle royale, she would never know. But she did know one thing….


“Sure. As long as you give me yours too.”
For Moonstar9411 by ED Staff
Author's Notes:
Recipient's name: Moonstar9411
Story title: Guard Dog
Rating: T
Please note: The word pace, pronounced pah-chay, is Romanian for "peace" or "peacefulness." I've italicized it every time it is used so you know it's not to be mistaken for the English word pace.

-X-

Guard Dog


Standing on the sidewalk in front of her new house ("A house, oh my god!"), a proud smile curling the corners of her lips, Kagome Higurashi watched silently as the movers carried her furniture and belongings into the single story ranch house, her mother standing off to the side and giving directions while her younger brother "helped" unload the heavy stuff and at times would reward himself from being such a big help by catching a ride on her couch, dresser, or some other item large enough for him to sit on. The movers didn't seem to mind all that much, so Kagome let it go, but he did get a few disapproving stares from their mother and whenever he noticed he'd immediately jump off and "help" again.

She was glad Mama had persuaded her into hiring the movers. At first Kagome had been adamant on just getting friends and family to help her move, not having the extra funds to pay any professional movers, but her mother was a sneaky woman and before she knew it, movers were scheduled to be at her little one bedroom apartment the next day to help with the furniture and other heavy objects she wasn't able to fit in her little Accord.

This is actually happening, Kagome thought excitedly and fought the urge to jump up and down and squeal girlishly. I actually own a house! For five years, she had lived in a tiny one bedroom apartment with her cat Buyo and on the third year, the young woman had decided that, while cozy, her little abode was getting too cramped with all of her bookcases, extra furniture that she really didn't need (Mama insisted), and the large entertainment system she had gotten for Christmas the year before. So after talking it over with her mother and Grandfather, they had all agreed that a house would much better suit Kagome's needs than a small apartment and the house hunting began.

It had taken two years of saving money, scanning the paper's real estate section daily and scouring the internet for the perfect place, but finally Kagome's careful planning paid off and with a single phone call, a quick tour and a signed contract, her dream home was hers.

I wonder what my neighbors are like. Soft eyes the color of cinnamon glanced to her left to eye her new neighbor's house curiously, trying to see what type of person they were by any decorations or the red truck in the driveway. Hmm. Maybe a guy; that's one of the newer models of Chevy. The yard is pretty bare of lawn ornaments and the lawn is freshly mowed. Of course, any woman can operate a lawn mower these days…

Kagome had just decided that she'd make some cookies or something and introduce herself to her new neighbors when her mother called her over and she snapped out of her thoughts. With a bounce in her step she meandered her way over to the older woman who was standing by the doorway with a faraway look in her eyes as she silently watched the men carry her baby's things into her new home.

The black-haired woman frowned slightly in concern. "What's wrong, Mama?"

Mama sighed and turned her gentle hazel gaze to her daughter, a fond smile gracing her features. "Oh, Kagome," she began and suddenly said woman was enveloped in her mother's arms and automatically she returned the embrace.

"Mama?"

Pulling back, but keeping her hands on her daughter's shoulders, Mama gazed at Kagome's face, her expression a mixture of pride and concern. "I really am happy that you've found your dream home, Kagome. I know you've been waiting for this moment for two years and now that it's finally come…" The older woman sighed again and tucked a strand of raven hair behind the younger woman's ear. "I just can't help but worry, dear. I know you've lived on your own for three years, but you've never been so far from home. Your apartment was just a few blocks away from the shrine, walking distance, and now…you're a whole town away." Mrs. Higurashi stared despondently at the moving truck parked on the street; it was almost empty and that meant her time with her oldest was almost over.

"Oh, Mama," Kagome said and hugged her again, smiling when the older woman squeezed her tight. "I'm not that far from home, only about half an hour. I'm only a phone call away and you know you can come visit me whenever you want. Souta and Gramps, too. "

Laughing softly, Mama smiled and shrugged her shoulders helplessly. "Yes, I know, dear. I suppose I'll never get over the fact that my oldest daughter is a woman now and on her own, buying a house, having a mortgage, having sex…"

"Mom!" Kagome squeaked as her face erupted into flame and Mrs. Higurashi snickered.

"Oh, stop, Kagome. We're both grown woman, and remember it was me who left you and Houjo alone that night." Mama winked and this time Kagome laughed with her, shaking her head.

But then Mrs. Higurashi grew serious and she glanced around curiously. "Is this a safe neighborhood? Is the police station nearby? I wonder if they do nightly patrols…" The elder Higurashi woman trailed off and Kagome rolled her eyes but humored her mother.

"I did some research, Mama, and you'll be pleased to know that this is a top rated neighborhood for safety and the police station is a five minute drive down the road. People are actually encouraged to move here if they have small children. I promise to be careful when I come home from work at night and make sure no weirdos are lurking about or following me."

Mama nodded and seemed to relax a little after her daughter reassured her, but she was still a mother, and as such would always worry about her daughter living by herself in an unfamiliar town with nothing but a lazy fat cat for protection.

Wait. That gave her an idea. Mama turned to Kagome and the young woman was slightly taken aback at the severe look on her face. "Okay, Kagome, I trust you when you say this district is safe, and that you'll be careful, but I think I'll only be truly satisfied and worry free if you do one small favor for me."

Kagome tilted her head to the side slightly, curious, and Mrs. Higurashi continued. "Would you consider getting a large dog for protection? I think once I know that you have a live, barking alarm system my mind will be at ease. I know you have Buyo, but he's…not much of a guard cat." The two women shared a laugh and Kagome could see where her mother was coming from and it wasn't an unreasonable request. She was a single woman living on her own in unfamiliar territory, after all, so perhaps it would be a good idea to get a guard dog of sorts. Besides, she's always wanted one; no time like the present.

"Okay, Mama, tomorrow I'll go down to the shelter and see what they have for guard dogs." She smiled and Mrs. Higurashi visibly relaxed as she returned her daughter's smile.

"Thank you, dear. That truly does help me cope a little better. Now, the movers are nearly finished. Let's track down your brother and we'll get out of your hair so you can start unpacking."

"Oh, I can hardly wait," Kagome deadpanned and her mother laughed as the two headed inside to find her no doubt slack-off brother. Indeed, they found him in the master bedroom playing with Buyo, the "ferocious" guard cat.

-X-


An hour and a half later, Kagome had bid her mother and brother goodbye, the movers had done their job and succeeded in moving all of her things inside, and now she was alone, save for Buyo who was busy discovering all the different nooks and crannies he can stuff his oversized body into, in her two bedroom, one bath single story house. Currently she was sitting on the living room floor surrounded by a plethora of miscellaneous things, from boxes filled with books and photo albums to cookware and dishes to movies and picture frames. Large plastic containers littered the entire living room floor, their contents spilling out and creating an even bigger mess than it already was. Unpacked boxes covered nearly every inch of her nearly acquired house and Kagome thought it would take about a million years to unpack everything.

"Uuggghhhh," she groaned and flopped onto her back, wincing when something dug into her spine. She reached behind her and fished out one of Buyo's chew toys. Making a face she tossed it somewhere and stared tiredly up at her ceiling, wondering what time it was. It hadn't been that long ago since she'd said goodbye to Mama and Souta and that was around maybe 4:00 pm. She couldn't see a clock anywhere in her prone position and knew she'd have to dig out her clock from one of the many boxes invading her home sometime tonight if she wanted some semblance of time. Thankfully Kagome's boss had graciously allowed the young woman paid time off for her big move so she didn't have to go into work tomorrow or the day after that. Hopefully by then she'd have at least most of the boxes all unpacked and her house actually looking like a home.

With a particularly un-ladylike grunt, Kagome heaved herself up and onto her foot, promptly deciding that she needed a break from unpacking and sorting. She ambled into the kitchen and not for the first time marveled at the brand new appliances. She couldn't wait to cook her first legit meal! Grinning to herself, Kagome rummaged around in the fridge for a snack – the perishable foods were the first things she had put away. She grabbed a bottled water and an apple from the basket on the counter then hopped onto the center island, happily crunching into her apple with a hum of appreciation. Since she was facing the window above her sink, she could see the side of her neighbor's house and caught a glimpse of the inside through slightly parted curtains from a window.

Kagome blinked. Oh yeah. I was gonna bake cookies or something and bring them over. She wrinkled her nose and eyed the boxes sitting on the bare counters. She hadn't gotten so far as to put away her kitchen appliances and dishes as of yet and she really didn't feel like digging through each one to find what she needed.

Besides, who still makes freaking cookies for their neighbors and crap like that? This was the twenty-first century and Kagome was pretty sure that custom had died a slow death.

"Oreos!" Kagome suddenly exclaimed and hopped off the counter to rummage around in her pantry. Who didn't like the yummy chocolate and cream cookies?

With a triumphant cry, Kagome withdrew the aforementioned junk food and held it aloft, victorious.

Buyo leveled her with a bored stare and proceeded to groom himself for her efforts, unimpressed.

Kagome glared at her cat. "I hope my future dog eats cats for breakfast."

Buyo ignored her.

Rolling her eyes, Kagome stepped over her fat feline and shoved her feet into her sneakers, hoping she looked half-way presentable because she didn't know where her brush was and didn't feel like looking in the mirror and scaring herself from what stared back at her.

She exited her house and crossed her lawn and theirs to get to the front door, climbing the stone steps onto an average sized porch. Kagome spotted a fairly chewed up dog bone lying on the ground off to the side and instantly perked up a little. If they had a dog, maybe they could point her in the right direction on where to get one.

Seeing as there was no doorbell, Kagome rapped on the wooden door twice and stepped back, holding the cookies behind her back and waited with a smile. Loud barking from within the depths of the house confirmed her suspicions and she wondered what the breed was. The bark was deep and loud, suggesting a larger breed such as a German Shepherd or perhaps an Akita. It grew steadily louder until the young woman figured it was just behind the door and it showed no signs of stopping until Kagome heard a distinct male voice, slightly husky but still loud enough to be heard over the dog's barking.

"Pace, Pepper, pace."

Instantly the canine ceased its barking and Kagome was impressed. Just a single word quieted the dog. Maybe she could learn some tips from him…

The door opened and Kagome found herself staring at a rather nicely toned male chest with washboard abs and a trim waist and was that a line of silver hair disappearing into those jeans…?

"So you're my new neighbor."

Kagome squeaked and shot her gaze up to his, face aflame at having caught herself checking him out and he must have caught her too because he was smirking at her as he leaned against the doorjamb, hands shoved into his pockets. Eyes the color of whiskey stared amusedly back at her and silver hair cascaded down his back in a silken waterfall, ending at his waist. But what Kagome wasn't expecting were the two furry triangles perched atop his head, twitching in every direction.

The young woman blinked, surprised. A dog demon?

"Half-demon, actually," he remarked and Kagome gaped at him. Had she said that out loud?

"No, I'm just really good at reading faces. Years of practice from my job." The silver-haired Adonis grinned at her, displaying pearly white fangs.

Pretty sure that her face most likely rivaled that of a tomato by now, Kagome finally remembered why she was here and took out the treat from her back, holding them out to him. She couldn't bring herself to look at his face. "Ah, I'm Kagome, I'm your new neighbor." Well duh, he already knew that! "Um, I brought you some cookies." Obviously. Inwardly Kagome groaned. God, she was horrible at this whole being neighborly thing. She decided she wouldn't bother with her other one and just lock herself in her house to be mortified in peace.

"Oreos. Cool." The golden-eyed half-demon took the proffered snack – Kagome took note of the claws tipping his fingers – and a curious black nose rose up to sniff suspiciously at the food. Her owner patiently held it out for her speculation. Satisfied, the dog named Pepper snorted and sat back at her owner's feet, mismatched eyes staring unblinkingly at Kagome.

"Good girl, Pepper." She was rewarded by a scratch behind her ears and she whuffed affectionately up at him.

Kagome smiled at the display as her previous embarrassment seemingly melted away and seized the opportunity to change the subject. "She's beautiful," she remarked and cautiously held out a hand for the dog to sniff. Pepper slowly inched forward, wary, and snuffled at her hand for a minute or so before deciding the woman was no threat and licked her fingers, her tail wagging a friendly welcome.

"This is Pepper," her neighbor introduced, watching with a slight smile as his dog made friends with his beautiful new neighbor. "She's half German Shepherd and half Husky."

"Wow," Kagome whispered as she knelt and promptly got her face showered with doggie kisses. She laughed and cuddled her close, already falling in love with the affectionate canine. After a few minutes of giving the mixed dog some lovins', Kagome finally stood up and faced her neighbor.

He gave her a slow smile that did funny things to her insides. "I'm Inuyasha. Sorry I didn't come out earlier and help you move in. I actually just woke up before you came over." As if to emphasize his point, a tongue-curling yawn escaped his mouth and Kagome giggled when Pepper issued one of her own.

"It's alright. I had professional movers help with the heavy stuff and I had family helping, too. But…why were you sleeping at three in the afternoon?" Kagome arched a delicate eyebrow, curious.

Inuyasha shrugged and leaned against the doorjamb again. "I worked the night shift for my job last night and didn't get home until nine this morning," he said. "I'm a police officer for the K-9 Unit, and Pepper here is my main girl." He patted the dog on the head and Pepper stared up at him with trust in her green and blue eyes, tongue lolling out the side of her mouth.

Kagome's eyes widened in pleasant surprise. Won't her mother be pleased to hear that she lived next door to a police officer. A sexy police officer. "Oh, so that's why she sniffed the Oreos before. She's trained to do that."

"Affirmative." He gave her a cheeky grin and Kagome reciprocated with one of her own.

"I'm actually thinking about getting a dog of my own," Kagome admitted as she stared contemplatively down at Pepper. "My mother would feel better knowing that I have a guard dog since I'm living alone in an unfamiliar town, and I've always wanted one so I figured why the hell not." She shrugged and gave the police dog a good scratch on the neck.

"That so?" Inuyasha mused as a slow smile spread across his features, a devious plan piecing together in his mind. His new neighbor was beautiful and the half-demon was thinking that he definitely wouldn't mind getting to know her. She adored Pepper, which was an absolute must for him, and the dog warmed right up to her so it was a match made in heaven in Inuyasha's opinion. Plus, he couldn't deny the instant attraction he had to her the moment he opened the door. Big liquid, mocha eyes that were like windows into the soul they were so expressive, mid-back midnight locks that he was dying to see if it was as soft as it looked, and a damn nice body that he wanted to rock all night long. And he hadn't missed how Miss Kagome was checking him out when he opened the door. Oh yeah, she liked what she saw and he'd be damned if he was going to let this opportunity go to waste.

"Kagome," he said, enjoying the way her name sounded on his tongue, and Kagome turned her attention back to him, her expression inquisitive. "You said you're looking for a dog," he echoed and Kagome nodded, a slight frown creasing her brow, wondering where he was going with this. She had her answer a minute later.

"Well," he began and glanced down at the mixed breed sitting calming next to him. "Why don't you take Pepper?"

Kagome blinked at him. He can't be serious. She was a police dog! "…What?"

"Think about it," he continued. "You're looking for a guard dog for extra protection, correct?" She nodded. "There's no better guard dog than one trained from the K-9 Unit. She can sniff out hazardous chemicals and drugs, protect you against muggers, and if someone tries to break in at night, she'll bark and alert you and most likely scare off the asshole. She's obedient, potty trained, and a single word can stop her from barking if someone's at the door."

"That's right." Kagome remembered the strange word she'd heard him utter before he opened the door. "Pah…chee…?"

"Pace," Inuyasha corrected and Pepper's ears perked up at the familiar word. "It means ‘peace' in Romanian. The majority of her training was in Romania, and it's just easier to use the command words she's used to hearing than retrain her on ours."

Kagome nodded as she took this in, conceding that all of his points were reasonable and valid, but not really believing that he was serious about this.

"So how about it? Do you want my girl Pepper as a guard dog?"

Oh god he was. "But…but is that okay? I mean, she's a police dog; won't you get in trouble or something if you give her to a civilian? And doesn't she have to go to work with you?"

Inuyasha waved a hand in the air, dismissing the idea. "Nah. Pepper belongs to me and just like humans, dogs need vacations too and I'm sure she'll get the best treatment while she's living with you. C'mon, Kagome. How can you say no to this face?" He knelt down next to Pepper and put his face right next to hers and proceeded to give her his best puppy dog look. The police dog licked his face then stared up at her with big mismatched eyes and Kagome wondered just which face he was talking about.

"Oh, that's so not fair," Kagome pouted and Inuyasha threw in a pitiful whine for good measure. "Oh for heaven's sake." She threw her hands up in surrender and sighed. "Fine."

Grinning broadly, Inuyasha nuzzled Pepper's nose with his own and stood up once more, feeling accomplished and pretty damn smug. "Great! So I just saved you a good couple hundred bucks, I hope you know. Large breeds don't come cheap and they're not easy to train when they're fully grown. Aren't you glad you came over and gave me Oreos?" Inuyasha chuckled and Kagome had to admit, yes, she was very glad.

Shaking her head in defeat, Kagome regarded him silently and crossed her arms over her chest. She did have one question though and she raised a brow at him, a suspicious light entering her gaze. "I do have one question, though."

"Shoot."

"Why?"

He blinked. "Why what?"

"Why did you offer for me to take Pepper? I mean what's in it for you? There's gotta be a catch somewhere and you're pretty sneaky so don't try to fool me outta this one!" Kagome narrowed her gaze at him but couldn't stop the smile from curling her lips.

"Easy," Inuyasha rumbled, his voice suddenly an octave lower and Kagome felt something warm pool in the pit of her belly. A slow, sensuous smile spread across the half-demon's handsome features and he leaned in close, causing Kagome to lean back slightly but her feet were rooted to the spot. His eyes captured hers and she was unable to look away. His amber orbs lazily scanned across her entire visage, his smile widening when her cheeks infused a dark red, and his eyes lingered on her lips. They parted under his stare and his mouth was suddenly dry.

"Because," he started and his voice sent shivers crawling up and down Kagome's spine. Finally his gaze drifted back up to hers and stayed there. "I have a reason to come see you now."

Kagome's heart skipped a beat and a small gasp escaped from her mouth. "S-see me?" she squeaked and the silver-haired police officer nodded, entranced by the way her tongue darted out to wet her dry lips. He wanted to replace her tongue with his own.

"Yeah," he rasped and cleared his throat. The effect she had on him was staggering; never before had he felt so strongly for a woman, and he'd just met her for God's sake. Wasn't there some kind of unwritten rule saying that you couldn't start lusting after a woman until after the third date? Or something?

Yeah, well, fuck the rules, he thought in that moment and had it not been for Kagome turning her face away in what was probably embarrassment, he would have dove right in and planted his mouth on hers.

Thinking that this was probably going to be the worst case of blue balls he's ever going to have, Inuyasha straightened up and reigned in his raging hormones, scratching the back of his neck uncomfortably as Kagome shuffled her feet, looking anywhere but at him and biting down on her lip. Pepper sat silently just inside the doorway, oblivious to the twosome's awkward moment.

"I'll get Pepper's things all boxed up and I'll bring them over tomorrow morning." Inuyasha broke the quiet and offered her a smile, wanting to get back that comfortable air that had surrounded them prior to the hatching of Inuyasha's devious little plan.

Relieved at the subject change, Kagome finally lifted her head, not without a blush, and graced him with a smile in return. "Sounds good. I'll…see you tomorrow, then." When Inuyasha nodded, the young woman knelt down and bid her goodbye to Pepper, promising that she'll see her tomorrow and to be a good girl in the meantime. Pepper gave her face some more kisses and Kagome accepted them with a laugh, nuzzling her nose against her soft muzzle and placing a kiss on it.

"Later, Kagome." Inuyasha smirked and gave a two figured salute. Pepper barked and wagged her tail.

She turned around and tossed him one last smile over her shoulder before cutting across their lawns again and entering her house. She stood facing the carnage with legs akimbo and hands on her hips. It was time to tackle this mess.

-X-


The next morning Kagome was up before her alarm went off so she took the extra time to have a longer than usual shower and relax on the couch with a hot cup of coffee, Buyo curled up next to her and snoozing away. She'd had the sense to find her Keurig, a mug and the coffee before going to bed last night and she decided that it was a very good idea that she did. It was going to be a long day of unpacking, rearranging and organizing and she needed all the energy she could get.

Kagome was about half way through her cup of java when her doorbell rang and she frowned. It wasn't even eight a clock yet. Who could it be this early? With a shrug, she stood up and ambled to the door, not particularly caring that she wasn't properly dressed. After her shower she'd tossed on a tank top and shorts since she wasn't going anywhere today and she'd be doing a lot of lifting and cleaning. She had thrown her still damp hair into a messy bun to keep it off her neck and deemed herself ready to take on the day.

So when she opened the door, her face got quite red to find Inuyasha standing there holding a box in his arms and Pepper sitting obediently beside him. He was dressed in his full police officer uniform complete with a gun holster, cuffs, and radio. His silver hair was pulled back into a low ponytail at the nape of his neck, and finally his honey colored eye were quite shamelessly checking her out. Kagome suddenly felt naked in her tiny shorts and tank and her flush deepened.

"In-Inuyasha!" she exclaimed with a nervous giggle.

"Kagome," he returned and lifted his appreciative gaze to hers. He grinned. "Good morning."

"Er, good morning. I completely forgot you were coming over." The young woman shrugged and offered a sheepish smile. She really had, otherwise she would have chosen less revealing clothing. Ah, well. It was too late now. Pepper barked indignantly and Kagome laughed. "Hello to you, too, Pepper."

"I have Pepper's stuff," Inuyasha said, holding up the box in his arms. "Can I come in?"

"Oh, yes, of course. Sorry." Kagome stepped aside to allow him entrance and gave his – her? – dog a good scratching behind the ears as she passed. She closed the door behind them and stood awkwardly for a moment, her mug of coffee still in her hand as he placed the box on the table. "Um, would you like a cup of coffee? Freshly brewed." Kagome held hers up in demonstration, still blushing but not without a smile.

"That'd be great." Inuyasha smiled, glad she offered; he'd get to spend a little time with her before he had to go to work. He followed her into the kitchen and watched as she went about digging around for another mug then pouring some of the delicious smelling beverage into the porcelain. She was about to ask if he wanted any cream or sugar, and before she could he stated, "Just black, thanks."

Kagome blinked then shot him a look that read "stop reading my face" and Inuyasha chuckled. The corner of her lips quirked up into a half smile and she gave a soft chortle of her own before handing over his cup o' joe.

"So," he started, leaning back against the counter. Pepper went and made herself at home by his feet, laying down and quietly observing her kitchen. "Nice place you got here. I knew the couple that lived here before, but I've never been invited inside."

Kagome crinkled her nose and took a sip of her java. "It's a complete mess right now, but thanks. I'm going to try and get a lot done today so my new housemate doesn't feel so cramped." She smiled at the German shepherd Husky mix and the canine tilted her head, her tail wagging once in a lazy swish.

"I'd stay and help out, but," he shrugged and tugged at his uniform shirt in a helpless gesture, "duty calls."

Kagome smiled, touched that he'd want to help her out. "Thanks, but I'm sure we can manage. Right, girl?"

Pepper woofed softly and her tail continued its lazy wag.

"Oh, I see how it is," Inuyasha joked and stared down at his dog with a mock hurt expression. "I'm not even gone yet, and already you're so eager to start your little vacation and get pampered by Miss Kagome here. Are you sure you don't wanna come to work with me?"

Pepper stared him at with her unique eyes of green and blue and then quietly she stood up and walked the short distance over to the Kagome before sitting down at her feet and wagging her tail, tongue lolling out of the side of her mouth. Kagome choked on her coffee and covered her mouth to hide a smile, fighting back the urge to laugh.

Inuyasha stared at his dog. "Traitor," he said and this time Kagome couldn't hold back her laughter.

Pepper barked.

Shaking his head, Inuyasha finished off his coffee and set the empty cup down on the counter. He sighed and turned to the brown-eyed woman, his eyes lingering on her legs for a second longer, and then locking gazes with her. He smiled apologetically. "I gotta head out. I wish I could stay, though. Shoulda called in sick." He added the last part in a mutter as he stared distractedly out the window. Responsibility sucked. Work sucked.

Kagome nodded and set her coffee mug down as well, wishing that he could stay as well. Too bad he hadn't called in sick or something… She walked him to the door, Pepper trotting behind, and at the door he knelt down and bid farewell to his dog, talking quietly to her and trailing his hand along her side. Pepper whined softly and licked at his face. Kagome observed this silently with a smile. It was obvious Inuyasha cared for this dog deeply, and it was endearing how Pepper so readily returned his affections with her own.

With one last kiss to her nose, Inuyasha sighed and stood up. "Her food and stuff are in the box, along with a few chew toys and treats. She'll let you know when she needs to go to the bathroom, and other than that you should be all set. Also," he said and dug around in his pocket, retrieving a piece of folded up paper. He held it out to her. "Here's my number. Call or text me if anything happens or you have a question. I'll try to reply back as fast as I can. Or, you know, you can just text me for the hell of it. If you're bored or somethin'." He smiled at her and Kagome's heart skipped a beat. "I wouldn't mind the distraction."

"O-okay," Kagome said softly and took the piece of paper, her fingers brushing his in the process. She blushed and went to retract her hand, but gasped when his hand grabbed hers and held on. Her eyes shot up to his and the look in them had butterflies erupting in her stomach.

"Try not to miss me too much," he murmured to her, brushing his thumb across her knuckles tenderly. His claws grazed her flesh and it sent goosebumps erupting on her arms. A slightly smug smile quirked his lips, satisfied at her reaction to him.

Kagome swallowed the lump in her throat and somehow managed to grace him with her own smile, this one a little shy but nonetheless genuine. "S-same to you," she whispered and the half-demon desperately wanted to swoop down and kiss her.

Instead he reluctantly released her hand and stepped out onto her porch. He kept his eyes on hers as he told Pepper to be a good girl then finally he turned and headed back toward his house, climbing into his red Chevy, revving it up then backing out into the street and driving off.

Kagome's heartbeat didn't return to normal until well after he had left and the smile remained on her face for the rest of the day.

-X-


"Aaaaaand…done. Well, for now, anyway." Kagome stepped back, placed her hands on her hips and studied her handiwork with a satisfied smile. She'd just finished putting together her entertainment center, complete with a large flat screen television and an Xbox 360. Growing up with a younger brother gave Kagome a secret love for video games so she'd bought the system shortly after moving into her first apartment. She and Souta used to stay up late into the night and play whenever he would spend the night at her place. Kagome supposed now she'd have to play alone, and she was surprised at how much that bothered her.

"Hmm…I wonder if Inuyasha plays…" she mused quietly to herself as she started breaking down boxes and piling them neatly. It was nearly eight pm and she'd gotten a lot done today. Her house was slowly but surely looking more like a home and she couldn't be more proud of herself. She still had a few more boxes to unpack, but it was mostly clothing and other odds and ends that could wait until tomorrow, plus she wanted to go from room to room and give each a thorough cleaning that her mother would say would be her kind of clean.

Flopping down on the couch with an exaggerated groan, Kagome stretched out her legs and rested her head on the back of the sofa, closing her eyes and smiling when she felt Pepper jump up next to her and lay down. It was funny how fast she had accustomed to having a dog, already used to hearing the clicking of nails against the tile and the comforting warmth when she cuddled up close. A small laugh bubbled up as she recalled Buyo's less than receptive welcome to their new housemate. To her credit, Pepper had ignored the feline all day long but Kagome had a feeling she was now on her cat's bad side. She'd been the recipient of many a death glare today, but the cat hadn't done much more. The young woman suspected Buyo was wary of the dog and always disappeared whenever Pepper made an appearance. It was quite funny, but she hoped her cat, which she'd had since she was just a little girl, would warm up to the affectionate canine.

Reaching to absently pet her ever present companion, Kagome stared out the window toward her neighbor's house and frowned slightly. Inuyasha still wasn't home yet but she supposed being a police officer required dedication and many hours of overtime. She had received a text from him earlier in the day saying that he wouldn't be able to drop by after work so it wasn't that much of a surprise, but still she worried slightly. Kagome had given into the urge to text the half-demon because that piece of paper with his number on it was burning a hole in her pocket but of course she told herself it was only so he would have her number in return. Really.

A jaw-cracking yawn suddenly interrupted her thoughts and Kagome wrinkled her nose as she glanced down at the dog beside her. She was tired, but that was to be expected after getting up so early and working hard to unpack and organize everything. Kagome never realized that she had so much stuff but that was also the reason why she bought the house in the first place, so she'd have somewhere to put all of her crap.

"I need to stop shopping online," Kagome told the lounging canine beside her and Pepper released a sigh as she laid her head on her lap. The young woman smiled fondly and stroked the top of her head, scratching lightly behind her ears. Saying that reminded her that she needed to setup her internet connection tomorrow as well. And go to the post office to change her address. And go grocery shopping. And have duplicate keys made. And clean the garage…

"Oh boy," Kagome muttered and made a face. Good thing she had tomorrow off. Another yawn caught her unawares and she looked at the clock. 8:07 PM. It wasn't too late yet. Maybe she'd stay up and wait for Inuyasha's red truck to pull into his driveway so she would know that he'd arrived home safely. "Whaddaya say, girl? Do you wanna wait up for Inuyasha?"

She received a soft woof in return and Kagome took that as an agreement. So she made herself comfortable, grabbed the remote and turned on the TV, glad she had been paying attention when her friend Miroku had showed her how to hook it up. Thinking about him, Kagome made a mental note to call Sango tomorrow. She'll probably want her new address.

She settled on Ghost Adventures and sat back to wait, Pepper dozing off in her lap. Fifteen minutes later and Kagome's eyes fluttered close as she joined her canine companion in the land of nod.

-X-


Kagome jerked awake with a startled gasp when Pepper released the first ferocious bark and she bolted upright, heart pounding. When had she fallen asleep? Through the darkness Kagome could see that the clock on her cable box read a little after ten pm and she realized her motion lamp situated in the corner of the living room must have turned off by itself when she'd failed to move for half an hour. The TV was still on, the volume on low and the glow from the screen provided little light.

Pepper was still barking insistently, vicious growls mixed in with them and Kagome turned her attention to the K-9 police dog, wincing at how loud she was. She hoped she wasn't waking up any of her neighbors. Damn, what was that word? Pay…pas…pace! "Pace, Pepper! Pace!" Why was she even barking in the first place? When the dog failed to obey, Kagome started to grow a little concerned and frowned, finally realizing that the dog was facing toward a corner of the room where the glow from the television didn't reach. Kagome froze and slowly stood up from the couch, the color draining from her face. Oh god, was someone in her house? Did she remember to lock the doors?! Kagome squinted her eyes and through the darkness could barely make out an undistinguishable shadowy lump and the longer she looked at it, the more Kagome's heart pounded because it didn't take her long to realize she was staring at a hunched over figure, clearly hesitant to get any closer to the growling and barking canine.

With a cry of alarm Kagome took a step back, momentarily forgetting that the couch was behind her and she crashed down onto the cushions. Then Kagome screamed and three things happened at once: the figure darted toward her, Pepper charged, and her front door crashed open.

-X-


Pulling into his driveway and cutting the engine, Inuyasha heaved a tired sigh and took a moment to just sit there and relish the fact that he didn't have to go in tomorrow until three pm. It had been one hell of a day and he hadn't anticipated working until fucking 10:00. But he supposed it came with the territory so really he shouldn't complain, but damn, the least his stupid sheriff of a brother could do was take some of the work load for himself! Stupid asshole, always leaving the brunt of the work to Inuyasha when he should be doing field work and training with the K-9 dogs.

Grumbling under his breath, thinking that it was too late to check in on Kagome and Pepper since she'd most likely be sleeping, the half-demon exited his truck and then immediately froze where he stood, his head snapping toward Kagome's house and his ears twitching madly atop his head. Now that he was out of his truck he could hear Pepper barking very loudly and very viciously and he barely made out Kagome's voice above the ruckus as she yelled out pace. Why would she be barking his late at night and why wasn't she stopping when she was told to?

Inuyasha's brows snapped low over his eyes and he quickly made tracks over to her house, worry gnawing at his gut as his hand went to the gun holstered at his waist. There would only be one reason why his dog would be barking so late at night and that reason had his heart beating a mile a minute, concern for the woman inside urging him forward until he could look into the bay windows. He cursed; the curtains were drawn. He stepped up to the front door and tried the door knob. Unpredictably it was locked and again Inuyasha swore vividly. "Kagome!" he yelled but he doubted she could hear him over the racket Pepper was making. "Dammit—!" Then he heard Kagome scream and Inuyasha lost all reason as he stepped back, kicked his foot up high only to bring it down hard on the doorknob and the damn thing came right off. The police officer wasted no time in crashing through, unholstering his gun in once swift movement and gripping it with both hands as he aimed at the back of the fucker hovering over a pale and terrified Kagome on the couch. "Freeze!"

The figure, male Inuyasha presumed, spun around and wielded a kitchen knife in his gloved hand and he didn't hesitate to charge the police officer even with a gun aimed at him. From years of experience, Inuyasha waited for the exact right moment then swiftly re-holstered his weapon then crouched down and turned at just the right angle so that his shoulder dug into the perp's stomach and the half-demon barely felt it when the knife cut into his arm. He easily knocked it out of the unsuspecting man's grip by violently knocking his wrist into the felon's and it fell harmlessly to the floor; the half-demon managed to kick it away before wrapping an arm around the inexperienced offender's waist and quite violently throwing him to the ground. Inuyasha heard as the air rushed out of the asshole's lungs and before he could recover the police officer turned him onto his stomach and dug his knee into the criminal's back, yanking his hands behind his back and forcing them down with a single clawed hand as he unclipped his handcuffs from his belt.

"You're under arrest. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be held against you in the court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you." Effortlessly Inuyasha handcuffed the man's wrists. "Do you understand these rights as I have given them to you?"

"Fuck you," the perp gasped and Inuyasha dug his knee in a little harder.

"Do you understand these rights as I have given them to you?"

"Ungh," the criminal grunted and Inuyasha growled lowly.

"Do you understand these rights as I have given them to you?" Inuyasha shifted just enough so that his knee dug right into the base of his spine and knew from experience if he kept at it the idiot's legs would slowly lose feeling.

"Shit! Jesus Christ, yes," the man gasped out and tried to buck the half-demon off him. "Now get the fuck off me, asswipe."

Inuyasha ignored him and unclipped his radio and even as his eyes went to Kagome and locked gazes with her, he brought it up to his mouth and mumbled into the speaker for a minute or two before replacing back on his belt. "Kagome," he said softly and trailed his eyes over her form, noting with relief that she didn't seem to be harmed. He swallowed hard. "Okay?"

"Inu-Inuyasha," Kagome whispered as tears shone in her mocha eyes and she gave him a shaky nod. Then her bottom lip started to tremble as she stared at him and that was it for the silver-haired half-demon.

Without a second thought, and even though it was against protocol, Inuyasha wrapped his arm around the felon's neck, tensed his muscles, and three seconds later the man fell limp against the floor, unconscious. Instantly Inuyasha shot to his feet and made his way over to the shaking woman, sitting next to her and reaching over to flick on a lamp before taking her into his arms. Kagome broke down and sobbed into his chest, grabbing fistfuls of his shirt and holding on tightly. Closing his eyes, Inuyasha buried his nose in her hair and rocked her back and forth, a soothing rumble emitting from his chest as he whispered soft assurances.

When Kagome was relatively calmer and issuing soft little sniffles, Inuyasha lifted his head and surveyed the room for his dog, finding her lying down across the room. Her eyes were open and staring at him but she wasn't moving and that definitely gave Inuyasha cause for worry. Kagome must have sensed why he suddenly tensed up and she pulled back slightly.

"P-Pepper," she rasped and Inuyasha directed his gaze toward her. She sniffled. "She went after him and he-he kicked her across the room. She hasn't moved since." Kagome stared across the room at the police dog, her brave guard dog. She felt terrible for what happened to her, and hoped it was nothing serious.

Kagome felt more than heard as Inuyasha sucked in a breath then slowly released it. "She'll be okay. She's a tough girl." He pressed his lips to her temple and took in her scent, so glad that he got there in time. If he had been even a minute later…

"Your arm!" Kagome suddenly gasped and Inuyasha pulled back to stare down at said appendage. He'd forgotten the knife had managed to nick him as he'd tackled the guy to the floor.

"It'll heal," he stated and pulled her back to his chest, needing to hold her for a little while longer. He could hear the sirens of his backup already with his sensitive hearing which meant he didn't have much longer to be alone with her.

"But—" The raven-haired woman tried to protest and pull away, but he would have none of that and tightened his hold, leaning back into the couch.

"I'm a half-demon, Kagome," he reassured gently. "Wounds like this heal up within an hour or so. I'll be fine, I promise." He kissed her hair and felt her relax against him.

"Okay," she finally relented and wrapped her arms around his waist, absorbing his warmth and resting her head on his shoulder. "Thank you."

"For what?" Silently he sliced through the band that held up her bun then ran a hand through her midnight locks, smoothing it out, and smiled. It really was as soft as it looked.

Inuyasha felt her smile against his neck. "For saving my life."

The amber-eyed dog demon chuckled and closed his eyes, letting his head fall back onto the couch cushions. "Anytime, Kagome. Anytime."

-X-


The next morning Kagome slept late and woke up with a wicked headache. She groaned into her pillow and forced herself to get up, feeling like there was a vice around her head and with every little movement it tightened viciously. Druuuuugs, Kagome thought groggily and slowly made her way to her bathroom where the blessed drugs were located. She opened her medicine cabinet and downed three tablets of Ibuprofen with a plastic cup of water. The cold liquid helped wake her up a bit and used the toilet, brushed her teeth and ventured out into the hallway.

On her way to the kitchen, Kagome paused and smiled as she stared at her couch. Inuyasha had refused to leave her alone last night so he'd camped out on her couch, going over to his house for a quick change of clothes after the chaos of last night's events had ended and then back over to her house.

She didn't realize her feet were moving until she was staring down at his sleeping face and before she could stop herself she sat down on the space right above his head. His legs were dangling over the arm of her couch and an arm was hanging over the side. She suppressed a giggle and brushed his bangs away from his face. He mumbled in his sleep then fell silent.

Kagome's chocolate eyes strayed to his ears and she bit her lip, hesitating for only a second before she carefully captured one between her fingers and rubbed the soft appendage. She was rewarded by a soft purring sound coming from his chest and this time she couldn't stop the soft giggle from escaping. His ear twitched, but he didn't wake up and she relaxed. Kagome continued to massage his ears, alternating between each one, and she was content to just sit there as her mind went back to last night.

After the PD had arrived at her house, they'd taken the felon into custody – he'd woken up shortly before they'd arrived – and Pepper was examined before being carefully lifted and taken out to a police cruiser where she would be taken to a twenty-four seven vet clinic. They'd told Inuyasha she might have bruised a few ribs, but nothing appeared to be broken and for that Kagome was grateful. And thankfully nobody questioned why the dog was in her house in the first place, and the young woman was glad she didn't have to answer any questions. Right then, anyway. She agreed to make a statement the next day after a good night's rest and it was nearing midnight by the time she and Inuyasha were left to their own devices.

Kagome was drawn out of her thoughts when something vibrated in her pocket and she blinked, reaching in and retrieving her cell phone. So exhausted had she been last night, Kagome hadn't even bothered to change into her nightclothes before collapsing on her bed and falling asleep. She must have forgotten to take her phone out of her pocket. Oops.

Shrugging, and deciding her mother was better off not knowing what exactly had transpired during her first night in her new home, Kagome unlocked the screen with a swipe of her finger and brought it up to her ear, making sure to speak softly so as to not wake up the slumbering half-demon. "Good morning, Mama." Her other hand never stopped its ministrations on Inuyasha's ears, slowly stroking the soft appendages.

"Good morning, dear. Sorry I didn't call yesterday to see how your first day in your new house was. Souta ate something that's been in the fridge for quite some time, expired no doubt and he ended up with food poisoning." Kagome could practically see her mother rolling her eyes and she smiled. "I spent the day nurturing him back to health with a few scoldings here and there so I didn't have the time."

"It's fine, Mama. Is he okay, though?"

"Oh yes, he's fine now. Jumping around and being the teenaged boy that he is." Mrs. Higurashi sighed.

Kagome chuckled softly. "Well, I'm sure he's learned his lesson."

"Indeed he has. It's quite funny, actually. Before he eats or drinks anything from the fridge, he'll check the expiration date then come ask me if it's still good." Mama laughed softy and Kagome snickered in amusement.

"Anyway, dear, how are you fairing? Get everything unpacked yet?"

Kagome wrinkled her nose. "Not quite. I still have a few more boxes but it's mostly clothes and other kick-knacks. I got most of it done yesterday."

"Good, good," her mother murmured. "Oh, did you get a guard dog, Kagome? I won't be at peace until you tell me you did."

At her question, a slow smile worked its way to Kagome's lips and she glanced down at the still snoozing hanyou, affectionately running her fingers through his bangs. "Well," she answered softly, her eyes tracing over his features and committing them to memory. "I suppose you can say that."

"What do you mean, dear? Did you or didn't you?"

"Yes," Kagome said and her breath caught in her throat when Inuyasha's eyes suddenly flipped open and bore into hers. "I do have a guard dog." And he's the best guard dog a girl could ever ask for. She didn't move as Inuyasha lifted a clawed hand and placed it on her cheek, rubbing his thumb against the smooth flesh.

"Wonderful!" her mother exclaimed and Kagome hummed distractedly. "Alright, dear, I'll let you go now. I know you have a lot to do today so I won't keep you. I love you, sweetheart, and stay safe." Mrs. Higurashi hung up and the phone dropped from Kagome's hand, forgotten.

"Good…morning…" Kagome breathed, captivated by the smoldering honey eyes that stared at her so intensely. A deep growl emitted from his chest as his hand slid up into her hair and cupped the back of her neck. A flush stole across the young woman's cheeks and Inuyasha's lips kicked up into a half-smile.

"Am I your guard dog, Kagome?" he rumbled lowly as his half-lidded gaze dropped to her mouth.

"Are you…?" Her words were barely more than a whisper but he heard them just fine with his sensitive hearing. Her hand had stopped stroking his ears when he'd opened his eyes and now it was buried in his hair, grabbing the silky strands softly.

Inuyasha watched as her tongue darted out to lick her lips and a hunger so strong seized his body it momentarily left him breathless. It was shocking, the effect she had on him, and the half-demon knew he couldn't hold it in any longer.

"Yeah," he rasped as he tugged her face down to his. "I'm yours." Then he lifted his head and closed the scant distance between them, capturing her lips in a torrid kiss which she eagerly reciprocated, his other hand lifting to cup her cheek and keep her where he wanted. Pulling away was the last thing on Kagome's mind, though, and she sighed against his mouth, granting passage for his questing tongue and a tiny moan of pleasure escaped her.

A deep growl of pleasure resounded within his chest as he tasted Kagome for the first time and knew right then and there that he would never get enough. He was hopelessly addicted after just one kiss and he prayed that Kagome felt the same, that he wasn't alone in his quickly developing feelings.

No, he most definitely wasn't. Even though she'd only known him for a short period of time, Kagome was already attached to the handsome police officer and knew she couldn't go without his sweet kisses for a single day. She smiled against his lips and she felt him smile back. Kagome giggled and he nibbled her lip.

He wasn't exactly the guard dog that Kagome had in mind, but…she wasn't complaining.

Not one bit.
For Naruto3215 by ED Staff
Author's Notes:
Recipient's name: Naruto3215
Story title: Gestures
Rating: K
Kagome returned, and after a short time of getting reacquainted with Inuyasha, he courted her, and they were mated. Their hut was situated between and a few paces back from the Bone Eater's Well and Goshinboku so both were in their front yard. Kagome wanted to be able to keep watch over both of them and preserve the land where her family's home would be built.

Now, sitting with her third babe at her breast and her two older pups sleeping soundly in their parents' bed with their father for warmth and protection from the cold winter storm outside, she remembered her first winter after her return.

As the seasons changed and winter set in Kagome's belly rounded, and her shape softened. She was expecting their first pup come the New Year. The women of the village were extremely helpful to the young miko, telling her the most practical items she would need for her offspring. They took her shopping in a neighboring village market to buy materials she would need for infant cloths, a sling to carry the baby in, and materials to make the baby's bed. They also passed along clothing she needed as she got bigger and wasn't able to make her clothing fast enough to cover her expanding belly.

She was thankful for being pregnant, because she never seemed as cold as everyone else was. She had read somewhere a pregnant woman exerted more energy at rest than a grown man did when scaling a mountain, and she believed that. It was almost Christmas and Inuyasha found her more often than not half undressed, sitting in front of the fire supporting her growing belly with her hands, meditating and breathing. When asked if she was cold he always got the same reply that she was comfortable, and her kimono was making her sweat. At night she had taken to wearing yukata to bed if she wore anything at all, claiming he put off so much heat he made her sweat. He shrugged it off, figuring she would cover up if she needed to. It was fine by him anyway, since being around a mostly naked mate all the time was quite enticing. Inuyasha also got to watch her body change and her belly swell, which was fascinating to him. She was so beautiful when she carried his young.

One night just before Christmas he came home to find her in her usual position, but unlike before she was staring blankly at the fire. He called her name, but Kagome didn't acknowledge she had heard him. When he settled in beside her she jumped when he placed his cool hand on the small of her back. He noticed her face was tear-stained.

"What's got you so spaced out?" He poked the dimming fire, adding a log to liven it back up.

"I was thinking of home. Right now it's a couple days before Christmas. Mama is making cookies, driving everyone crazy over decorating the house, and a few presents would be under the tree. I guess with the holiday I'm homesick." She smiled sadly and wiped her cheek.

"I remember Christmas at your house. I didn't care for all the trips to the market, but I remember the good food and the warm feeling I always got being there. It was nice." He put an arm around his melancholy mate. "I'm sorry you're missing it."

Kagome gave him a small smile. "It's ok. Maybe I'll make something special for supper tomorrow. Will you hunt for me? If you catch something big enough we can have Sango and Miroku over with the kids. We could pry be ready for a feast on Christmas Eve."

"If I hunt something that big it would take a couple days to cook." He feigned thinking it over until Kagome nudged him in the ribs. Laughing, he replied, "Ok, ok, I'll hunt for you tomorrow, and we'll have a Christmas Eve feast." He kissed her on the forehead, and then rose to make their pallet.

Early the next morning Inuyasha set out for his hunt, and by midday came back with a four-point buck. Enlisting Miroku's help, they spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning him, then spit the meat and put it over his fire pit to roast. Kagome spent her day with Sango at her hut cleaning and preparing vegetables and sweets for their meal.

Inuyasha left Miroku to watch the meat while he ran to the closest village market. While he was there he bought several festive looking obi, and some fabric, many blank pieces of parchment, ink, and a brush for Kagome. He also bought a wooden box to store her writing supplies in.

When he returned the sun was setting. He stowed away his purchases in his hut, retrieved his mate, and sent Miroku home. The rest of the night watched over the roasting meat, and decorated his hut while his mate slumbered.

Kagome woke to the delicious smells of roasted deer filling her hut. It had finished cooking some time before dawn, and Inuyasha had cut it from the bone, wrapped and tied it, and stored the meat in their hut while he disposed of what was left of the carcass. He returned to find his mate still in her yukata nibbling on a piece of meat she had freed from its holdings.

"Is it good?" He asked, laughing when she jumped.

Coughing over her bite it took several seconds before she could respond. "You scared the life out of me!" She licked her fingers. "This is amazing. I love it when you cook."

"I'm glad you like it. Now finish up and get dressed so we can get what's left to the kids." He patted her on the butt to scoot her along.

The rest of the day was spent at Miroku and Sango's hut with their children. The friends ate, told stories, played with the children, and when it was time for the kids to go down for their nap, Auntie Kagome joined them. While his mate was resting Inuyasha used the opportunity to go back to their hut, and with Miroku's help, it was decorated for Christmas.

The obi he bought was strung along the tops of the walls. The bolts of fabric he had bought for Kagome as gifts were tied with pieces of silk and propped in a corner of the room, and her new writing utensils were placed neatly on the floor next to them. He also took the opportunity to lie out their bedding. When he was finished he returned to Miroku's and waited for Kagome and the children to wake from their naps.

It was late in the evening before the couple returned to their home. Pulling aside the door flap Inuyasha let Kagome enter first, then follower her inside. Thankful it was so dark he helped her over to their futon and settled her on their bedding.

"Stay still for a minute. I have something for you," he whispered before walking to the fire. Within moments he had the fire roaring again, and their hut was flooded with light. Kagome gasped.

"When did you do all this?" She looked around the room, and was genuinely touched by her mate's kindness. He had used obi to decorate the walls for Christmas, and over in a corner of the room were presents. "Who are the presents for?"

"Well, let's see." He rose from crouching in front of the fire and walked over to the items in question. He gathered them up and brought them over to her. He sat down cross-legged in front of her and laid them out for her inspection. "I think they're for you."

"Christmas presents? But I didn't get you anything!" He could see she was genuinely distressed.

"Don't worry, some of them aren't really for you, but they're for you to use for the baby, so it doesn't count." He placed one of the three bolts of fabric in her lap.

Seeing the beautiful blue silk with the embroidered white cranes flying on it made Kagome's eyes tear up. "Thank you. It's really beautiful."

"You're welcome. There is enough for you to use to make something for yourself and the pup. You should have something nice for whenever you want to dress up and be girly." He leaned forward and kissed her cheek. Removing this bolt and setting it aside, he picked up another and sat that one in her lap. "This one isn't so special. Simple white cotton you can use for yukata or whatever else you'll need it for. But this one…" He removed the bolt of white and replaced it with a bolt of green. "Is the special one." Kagome looked at it. "Go ahead, touch it and tell me if you can guess what it is."

She reached out and ran her hand over the fabric in her lap. "Fire rat?"

"Yup! Had to special order it months ago. Got it in green because your school uniform was green. That's a color I'll always associate with you. Now you can have haori and hakama of your own to protect you, and you can make the pup one, too. Or just a blanket for now until we can figure out what color he is so we can order him his own color."

"Or her," Kagome corrected.

"Keh," Inuyasha grumbled. Kagome leaned forward and threw her arms around him.

"Thank you, Inuyasha. I was so sad that I was missing Christmas. This is just what I needed to pick me up. And the decorations are beautiful." She hugged him tighter.

Inuyasha wiggled in her grasp. "You're choking me." Laughing, she let go. "Thanks. Now, I have a couple more things, then you can hug me some more." He handed Kagome her new writing instruments. "Let me explain. My thought was you could start writing a diary, or letters to your mother. Eventually we can buy you a box to keep them in. Then, one day, they will end up at the shrine for your mother to read. There are so many artifacts there already; we can just pass them along through the generations until someone makes sure they end up with her."

Kagome began to cry. Taking all the gifts and shuffling them aside Inuyasha scooped Kagome up and sat her in his lap. Holding her close, he rocked back and forth making soothing sounds.

"I've missed them so much lately, and with the baby coming, my mama will never get to know him. I didn't know how I would tell her everything that's been happening or how I was feeling about being away from home. Then the holidays crept up on me, and I was so deeply sad I didn't know how to make it better. Thank you for giving me a way to tell her what happened to me." Kagome held on to Inuyasha as he rocked her, wiping her nose on the arm of her kimono every so often.

Kissing her forehead, Inuyasha replied, "Don't be silly. She deserves to know. Maybe I'll write her some, too. Especially when you're mad at me so she knows it wasn't just my fault.

Kagome remembered falling asleep that night feeling content for the first time since the first nights of her mating. She felt so much better knowing her mother would know what had happened with them, and how she had spent her life. She didn't know if the letters would survive, but she liked to think they would. Five hundred years wasn't that long, and she had known of things that had survived longer.

The babe in her arms squeaked and rustled in her green blanket. Although she knew their father loved all his daughters, she also knew he still secretly wished for a son. Laughing she thought, "Maybe next Christmas or so," as she settled back in with her family for the night.
For Neo by ED Staff
Author's Notes:

Recipient's name: Neo-Anime-Haven
Story title: The Christmas Miracle
Rating: PG-13

For Neo-Anime-Haven

The Christmas Miracle

It was a crisp day in the village, much colder than normal. The sun shone down from the heavens. A thin layer of snow covered the ground, truly a rarity this time of year. Any kami looking upon the scene would be entranced by the tranquility. The partially frozen river to the gentle rustle of the trees painted a magical scene.

Of course magical was the time. Perhaps not in this era and perhaps not known to many but magical it was. This secret was known to a select few. The precious knowledge brought from 500 years away by a special miko, Kagome. She knew.

It was Christmas Eve. Romance pervaded the air. While not everyone celebrated the season for religious purposes, it was most always connected with love and generosity. An unknown force mended rifts in relationships and brought those close even closer. Magic was the only explanation.

Birds in the tree sang songs of love. Creatures of the forest did as creatures of the forest do. Peace, nothing was….

"GODDAMN YOU INUYASHA YOU MOTHERFUCKING SON OF A BITCH.” A shrill voice disrupted the peaceful portrait punctuated with screams. “I SWEAR TO ALL THE KAMI YOU WILL NEVER TOUCH ME AGAIN.”

Three figures sat outside a small hut on the edge of the village. Each winced at the screams erupting from within. All eyes widened at the words shouted.

The green eyes were filled with fear. He knew she could be vicious, but wow. He didn’t know she knew some of those words let alone would ever use them. Needless to say he feared for Inuyasha’s well-being. The poor soul was trapped inside.

The red eyes held a new found respect. She always knew she was strong. The fact that she was fighting so hard proved such.

The dark blue eyes held healthy fear but was tempered by his amusement. He’d gone through this twice before. The hanyou had mocked him when it was his turn and now sweet revenge. Though to be honest he was concerned for the hanyou’s physical health. He was not in the same room with his wife. No one was. This defied the standards of the time. Night was fast approaching so they likely wouldn't see their friend til the morning. If he was still alive that is.

“THAT’S IT YOU ARE FUCKING GETTING NEUTERED!”

The three figures winced once more. Each counted their blessings for being outside at that moment.

Inside the hut was not nearly as hectic as it sounded. There resided a woman in labor, her frantic hanyou mate, a miko and two assistants. Kagome was braced against her mates chest her hands in his. Sweat poured down her face.

Inuyasha thought he very well may pass out. All the scents were making him dizzy. The scent of his mate’s blood set his yokai on edge. The scents of the various herbs irritated his nose. He wasn’t even sure what to make of the various other smells.

All the sounds were pounding in his head. Kagome’s pained moans and screams hurt. His mate hurt and he was the reason she hurt. Worst of all, there wasn’t a thing he could do about it. He wasn’t even sure exactly why he was there. Kagome laid down the law and demanded it, so it was. What he needed to do was still unclear. Sure Kagome told him he was to coach her through. He knew he had to encourage her but just didn’t know what to say.

He remembered the conversation they had when Kagome first came and asked him to be there. Kaede and he nearly shit a brick. It just wasn’t done. The birthing room was forbidden to men. It was un-clean. It was improper. Most of all he felt he was in the way.

When they tried to reason with her Kagome snapped. They learned fast not to mess with pregnant Kagome. Not that regular Kagome was to be trifled with. Pregnancy just enhanced her will and temper. That was when Inuyasha first realized his mouth rubbed off on her. His ears didn’t stop ringing for a weak.

“WE ARE NEVER HAVING SEX AGAIN” Kagome screamed as another contraction hit.

Inuyasha snapped out of his musings at his mates shout. “Are you ok Kagome?”

“Does it fucking look like I’m ok, baka?” She asked glaring at her husband. She broke down in tears. “This is your entire fault you idiot.”

“Kagome it’s time” the age wizened belonging to Kaede voice cut through. “On the next pain I need you to push. Push hard.”

Kagome nodding her understanding squeezed her mates hand harder. She was nervous. She was already exhausted and didn’t think she could do it alone. If Inuyasha wasn’t with her she didn’t know what she would do. Of course she could sense his discomfort but the fact he was here anyway touched her. Then again she did threaten very painful torture to a very tender area. She didn’t mean it. She loved his ears and would never mount them on the wall. Still he was here and that was what mattered. Kagome clenched her eyes in pain.

“Push now Kagome” Kaede said. “You must push.”

“Gahhh!” Kagome grunted in pain and strain as she pushed with all her might. She hunched forward. She squeezed her eyes harder shut from effort. Her grip on Inuyasha’s hands tightened like a vice to the point he grunted in discomfort. She was sure she would have broken Inuyasha’s hand were he not hanyou.

“You need to push harder Kagome. You aren’t pushing hard enough.”

Kagome tried harder. She pushed as hard as she could. Never had she worked so hard in her life. After a few seconds, each one feeling like hours, she just couldn’t push anymore. Collapsing back against her mate’s hard chest, as the contraction ended, Kagome openly sobbed.

“You need to push harder next time. The baby won’t come out if you can’t. Focus. On the next one you need to put everything into it.” Kaede said.

“I can’t” Kagome sobbed. “I just can’t. I’m not strong enough.” She continued to wail.

“You have to Kagome. I can’t get the baby out if you won’t push. Nobody can help you do that”

Inuyasha’s heart wrenched at the sight of his love sobbing. He still wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do, but he knew he had to do something. He leaned down placing a kiss to the crown of her head. He tightened the grip on her hand. A voice in the back of his head lead guided him.

“Come on Kagome you can do it. You are the strongest person I know. You can do this I’m right here. I believe in you.” Inuyasha leant any comfort he could. “Don’t ever think you’re not strong enough. You overcame time just to be with me, remember. I know you can do this.”

“Inuyasha” Kaede reprimanded. “Stop distracting her she needs to focus.”

Inuyasha glared at Kaede before turning back to his mate. “Do you remember 4 years ago?”

Kagome turned to face him. “I remember everything from that year.” Kagome replied, smiling weakly.

Inuyasha smiled down. “Here you are, this scared little girl in funny clothes dropped into a world of magic and demons. You fought tooth and nail. You protected your friends. Most of all you healed me. Together we defeated the greatest threat to the world. We can do anything together. I’m right here with you.”

Kagome’s smile brightened. He was right. She turned to give him a quick peck on the lips. Pain shot through her causing her to wince.

Kaede sighed. She knew it was a bad idea to let Inuyasha in. He was after all a persistent distraction if nothing else. “Kagome it’s time to push.”

Kagome hunched forward and began again. Inuyasha continued his words of encouragement. Somehow knowing her mate was beside her facing this with her made everything easier.

In her years Kaede birthed hundreds of children. Women, especially first time mothers always had issues staying motivated and occasionally gave up. She knew they had to stay focused and on goal or else they could complicate things. Kaede noticed the new ease in Kagome and couldn’t believe Inuyasha was actually helping. Never had she expected the man to be useful in this.

“Ok stop. I need to check if the cord is wrapped.” Kaede said making the necessary adjustments. “One last push Kagome.”

Kagome and Inuyasha nodded their understanding. “Koishii we’ll push together. Ready?” Inuyasha asked.

“Yes love.”

Kagome cried out as she pushed. Soon her cries were joined by a new cry. A strange cry not heard before. “Stop Kagome” Kaede ordered. She handed of the crying infant to Sango who was assisting with Rin. Sango took the infant to clean it and wrap it in a swaddling cloth.

Kagome had felt the urge to push again and Kaede told her she was passing the after birth. After that Inuyasha laid her down to rest, shifting to her side.

Kagome lay panting in exhaustion. A small bundle was handed to her. She looked down with no small amount of pride at the crying infant. She shifted slightly to open her yukata and allow her child to feed.

“Congratulations to the both of you. You have a son.”

Inuyasha who could not tear his eyes from his beloved and his pup whispered “I have a son.” He was amazed watching the nursing pup and how Kagome’s scent changed from a breeding bitch to a nursing one so quickly.

Inuyasha could not believe this was his son. He had a pup. For the longest time he thought it impossible. He studied the features of the newborn pup. The pup had a full head of silver hair just like his own and to little tufts stuck out the top of his head not fully erect yet but very clearly ears like his own. Little claws pressed into his mate’s breast as suckling filled the air.

“He’s perfect”

Kagome beamed him a smile. “Yes he is” Kagome agreed. “He looks so much like you. I haven’t seen his eyes yet.”

Inuyasha shook his head. “No. He has your nose and your cute chin.”

“I will give ye a moment alone” said Kaede as she Sango and Rin exited the hut.

The pup finished nursing letting out an adorable yawn showcasing a set of fangs. He settled down for a nap.

Kagome smiled down upon their pup. She gently rocked him in her arms. Looking towards her mate she asked “Do you want to hold him”

Inuyasha’s eyes widened “Can I?”

Kagome couldn’t stifle a giggle. “Of course silly.” She held out her hands presenting their son.

Inuyasha slowly reached out to hold him. As his clawed hands moved to coddle his pup blood flashed across them. Quickly he wrenched his hands away. Shocked he scooted to the opposite wall. ‘How could I think of holding something so delicate? I’m a monster. My claws are forever stained with blood of my victims. Soaked they are with the blood of his enemies and a few innocents. I have no right to touch something so precious so innocent.’ He mentally berated himself.

“Inu?” His mate’s voice snapped him from the melancholy thoughts. “Is something wrong?”

“I-I-I can’t” he managed to stutter out. His ears lain back against his head emphasizing his distress. “I’ll hurt him”

If it weren’t for the look on Inuyasha’s face Kagome would have laughed at the notion. “Inu you won’t hurt him. You would never hurt someone important to you.”

Inuyasha scoffed as his gaze shifted to the sleeves of Kagome’s white haori. He was staring exactly where he knew five crescent scars rested on each arm. Injuries inflicted by his own claws.

“Inuyasha that wasn’t you that was out of your control” Kagome added sensing where his thoughts traveled. Seeing the look in his eyes Kagome sighed knowing it was something they would have to work on. “I love you Inu.”

“I love you too, Koishii. You should get some rest. I’ll be right here next to you.”

“Ok love.” Kagome said as her eyes drifted shut and her heart beat slowed down.

Inuyasha continued to stare at his claws. No there was no way he could touch his pup. He would taint it, hurt it, may be even kill it. There was a little voice in the back of his head telling him it was ridiculous to expect not to ever touch his own pup. The pup he never thought he’d have. The pup he’d always wanted needed his father.

He had no idea how long he sat there staring and thinking. A soft rumbling close to Kagome broke his reverie. He looked over and noticed his pup was asleep letting out a contented growl. Without realizing it he shifted closer. Continuing his unconscious movement Inuyasha fast found himself next to his sleeping mate staring in awe at his pup.

This was his pup. It was his and Kagome’s pup. Their pup born from their love and yet here he was terrified of touching this final symbol of their love. It was ridiculous and he had to get over it. Now that he was close he noticed something odd about his son’s scent but pushed it to the side to deal with later. Dawn was fast approaching.

Slowly, very slowly he reached a hand out to gently run a finger along his son’s ears. It was no more than a gentle graze easily mistakable for a light breeze but it still melted the tension from his body. His son’s ears twitched in response. What occurred next startled Inuyasha.

A growl of warning erupted from the pup’s throat. The pup not even a day old was warning his father; of course the pup didn’t realize him to be his father, to stay away from his mother. Not even a day old and he was defending his mother.

A soft smile graced Inuyasha's face. He responded with a gentle growl of reprimand, tapping the pup’s nose. This surprised the pup as he looked up with rich amber eyes slightly darker in tint than his fathers. The Pup sniffed the finger still by his nose recognizing it as his mother’s protector. He licked the finger while letting out a penitent whine.

Inuyasha gave a growl of acceptance. He didn’t notice the rousing of his mate. Nor did he notice the amused expression on her face. The pup let out a bark. Inuyasha understood his pup was hungry and turned to wake his mate only to see her staring back sporting a rather large smile.

“Pup’s hungry” he said.

Kagome nodded bring her child to her breast to feed. As the pup suckled Kagome went to comment on Inuyasha’s change. Inuyasha however cut her off.

“Hey Kagome there is something off with his scent and yokai.” Inuyasha started. Seeing Kagome’s confused look he continued. “It’s not of a quarter yokai. He smells like a hanyou and feels like a hanyou.”

Kagome furrowed her brow thinking of what he said. “Have you ever heard of a quarter yokai before?” Seeing him shake his head no she thought. “Well maybe half demons can only pass on their demon or maybe it’s your demon is so strong you only passed yours on. Maybe it could be a fifty-fifty chance on if you pass human or demon side on. I don’t know but either way he’s perfect.”

“Yeah he is.”

“Are you ready to hold him?” Kagome asked

“Yeah I think so.” Inuyasha responded stretching out his arms to receive the pup.

As soon as the pup was in his arms Inuyasha felt some unexplainable incomparable feeling. He felt complete with his mate but this was even more. His heart raced and silently he swore to always protect his pup. He finally felt like a father. He finally had everything he ever wanted. “Hey pup. You know you are less than a day old. Your so lucky you have the best mother in the world. Not sure about me but I will do my best. I love you pup. Kagome.”

“Yeah Inu”

He shifted the pup up to his shoulder and caressed his ears finally understanding his mate’s obsession with them. “I’d like to name our pup Keitaro.” He said nervously. “Is that good?”

“Keitaro? Blessed son. I like it. Why did you choose that?”

Inuyasha blushed. Though he was less embarrassed around his beloved he still thought it was a sign of weakness to show too much emotion. “Well I was just thinking about how I never thought I’d have a pup. I’m blessed to have a mate who would bear me a child and most certainly blessed to have one.” Inuyasha was bright red at this point but continued in spite of himself. “Also I thought of how blessed he is to have you for a mother. I have no idea how to be a father but I will learn. I will.” He seemed to be trying to assure himself more than anything. “And I was thinking how I would do anything for him and always love him.”

“Oh Inuyasha it’s perfect.” Tears welled in Kagome’s eyes. “You’ll be the best father. I know it.” She leaned forward and gave him a kiss. She yawned into the kiss and decided to lie back down.

“Kagome I think it’s Christmas now.” Inuyasha said as if suddenly remembering something. He reached into his haori and pulled out a small box covered in rice paper. “This is for you.”

“Oh Inuyasha” Kagome gasped. She opened the box to reveal a set of simple gold rings. Her breathing hitched. “They’re beautiful. What are they for?” She asked turning to her beloved.

Inuyasha twitched nervously still holding the pup to his shoulder. “Well you said a long time ago that when people got married in your time they gave each other rings to show their devotion. I wanted you and me to have that symbol of devotion. Maybe it was stupid. I could get you something else.”

“No!” Kagome yelled. “I love them. Thank you. I didn’t get you anything though.”

“Yes you did, you gave me everything, especially our pup. He is my Christmas miracle. I love you.” He said as he held his miracle closer.

“I love you too Inu.” Said Kagome.

Turning his attention back to the pup Inuyasha continued to play with his ears while whispering how much he loved him and how he’d always protect him and how lucky he was to have him. Suddenly a thought occurred to him. Turning to his mate he asked “Hey Kagome you weren’t serious about me never touching you or us not having sex again right?”

Kagome resisted the urge to roll her eyes. “No Inu I didn’t mean it. It was just the pain talking. Though it will be a few months before we can do anything intimate while I heal. I am surprised I didn’t need stitches.”

“Ok.” Inuyasha replied lovingly kissing her lips. Another thought occurred to him. “Hey Kagome what does neutered mean?”

Kagome giggled as she turned to explain.

As the sun rose, two yelps from father and son could be heard from the hut.

Merry Christmas all.

The End

For RainFlame07 by ED Staff
Author's Notes:
Recipient's name: RainFlame07
Story title: Sweet Snow
Rating: G
"Sometimes I don't think you use that brain of yours. What the heck were you thinking, not packing any pants for this time of year. Do you even know how much time we're wasting having to go back so you can get appropriate clothing?"

Kagome sighed and didn't even answer him this time. She had been listening to him yell at her for over two hours now about how stupid she was. Normally she would have sat him for calling her names, but she was riding on his back as he jumped through the trees, and the snow on the ground was approaching a foot.

She really didn't want to walk in that.

Besides, he was right. Not that she would tell him that, but he was right. She didn't know what she was thinking when she packed on her last trip home. Usually her mother would have packed her bag for her while she took a shower and a nap, but her mother was gone that day and she had to pack it herself. She didn't know why she didn't realize it would start getting cold soon. And now here she was, riding on the back of an angry hanyou in her school skirt, wrapped in his robe to keep from freezing to death.

Again, she sighed. "I'm sorry, Inuyasha. I don't know how many times I can say it, but I'm sorry."

"Keh."

They traveled in silence for another fifteen minutes before the well finally came into sight. Inuyasha wasted no time jumping right in.

"You don't have to come with me, you know. I know the scents bother your nose, and they're probably going to be worse now with the pine tree and the cinnamon brooms in the house."

“I'm coming with you to make sure you change, pack and we get the hell back without wasting more time, my nose be damned." He jumped out of the well the second his feet touched solid ground and put her back on her feet. They opened the door to the well house and found that the snow wasn't nearly as deep here, maybe an inch or so of it. Kagome and her legs were grateful for that.

As they walked into the house she could smell her mothers cooking, her mouth started watering, and she heard Inuyasha's stomach growl behind her. She turned around and looked at him with a smile on her face.

"…..Ten extra minutes. That. Is. It."

“Works for me."

-

30 minutes later, their bellies were full, her bag was packed, she was in appropriate winter attire and they had a care package of food for the rest of their group back in the feudal era. Inuyasha was waiting at the door as Kagome said goodbye to her family.

"Be safe, try to get home for Christmas ok? And bring Inuyasha with you." Her mother said as she hugged her. Kagome nodded her head as she let her go.

"I'll try my hardest."

“Keh." Kagome ignored him; she knew with all the food her mom was going to make she could get Inuyasha to come back here for Christmas.

He never turned down food, especially if her mother cooked it.

She said goodbye once more and followed Inuyasha into the well house. She got on his back and they jumped into the well together. Once they got to the other side she saw it was snowing lightly and laughed a bit. She loved snow.

“Oh great, more snow."

“Don't be such a sour puss, Inuyasha. Enjoy the snow while we have it! It makes everything looks so much brighter!"

“It's annoying, that's what it is. It'll slow us down, and it makes it harder to camp for the night with you damn humans. Too weak for your own good, I say. A little cold and boom, dead within a few hours, what kinda-“ His tirade was cut short by a snowball to the back of the head.

“What the, what the heck did you do that for?"

"To shut you up!" She said with a laugh as she rolled another snowball between her hands."You're too stuffy, you need to relax and loosen up a bit!" She launched another snowball at him, but he dodged it effortlessly.

“Kagome we don't have time for you to act childish-" He didn't dodge the third snowball that hit him squarely in the face."That's it."

She squealed as he launched himself at her, missing her by a foot. She threw another snowball she had been forming behind her as she ran, but he dodged it once more. It gave her just enough time to duck behind the well and starting rolling more snow between her hands.


Inuyasha, meanwhile, decided that she needed to be taught a lesion, and started rolling a giant snowball on the ground. When it reached his waist, he was satisfied. Kagome was so busy trying to get as many snowballs together as she could, she never saw him sneak up behind her. She looked up just in time to see the mischievous glint in his eye and the almost evil look on his face as he dropped the snow ball right on her.

"Ha! That'll teach ya to throw snow balls at someone's face!" He laughed, waiting to see her face when she popped up out of the snow pile. He was sure she was going to be furious with him, but it would be worth it.

He stood there waiting for a minute, but when she didn't come out, he started to get worried."Kagome? Kagome, quite messin' around, come outa there." Nothing."Kagome? Kagome!" He started digging through the snow as fast as he could, and got rewarded with another face full of snow.

Kagome had to hold her stomach as she laughed."Oh I-Inuyasha, I'm freezing, but that was so worth it!"

"You idiot! I thought I hurt you!" he picked up a hand full of snow, but he only half-heartedly threw it towards her. He was just glad she was alright. Mostly. He noticed her skin was tinged blue and she was shaking, she really was freezing."Come here, you moron he said as he pulled her close to him. His temperature ran a bit higher then humans, so he figured his body heat would help warm her up.

He really didn't mind having to hold her though.

Not that he would tell her that.

Kagome stopped laughing as she felt his arms go around her. She could feel heat returning to her cheeks, but it had nothing to do with warming up. But after a few seconds she smiled and leaned into him wrapping her arms around his waist.

Suddenly Inuyasha thought that maybe snow wasn't such a bad thing.
For Rocioo by ED Staff
Author's Notes:
Recipient's name: Rocioo
Story title: Finders Keepers
Rating: G
Inuyasha still couldn't quite believe she was back.
It had been three years. Three long, lonely years since she had disappeared from his world, gone with the Bone Eater's Well. Three years since he had heard her voice, smelled her scent, seen her smile.
And then, like magic, the Well had reappeared, bringing her back to him after all that time.
She was just there, looking up from the bottom with that gentle smile on her face, as if she had never really been gone in the first place. As if the past three years hadn't happened at all.
Before he could so much as string a sentence together, the others had arrived and swarmed her like a hive of demons. Sango and Miroku hugged her, and Shippo immediately latched onto her like some kind of leech. Kaede and Rin arrived and dragged her away to their home where they began preparations for a feast, and all the villagers gathered to welcome Kagome home.
Inuyasha tried to be happy for her. He tried to be glad at the attention she was getting. After all, she deserved some kind of welcoming, and everyone had missed her after all.
But he was fairly convinced that he had missed her more, and he hated how she was so quick to turn away from him and talk to them, mingling with all those annoying, twittering human women, and every time anyone male even glanced at her, he could feel his hackles rising. He even had to make a few threats to let them know that they were most certainly not her type, thank you very much.
Of course, after said threats, and after a few of them were cleaned up and carried out, the rest got the hint and left her alone, much to his satisfaction.
After being away from his priestess for all of that time, Inuyasha didn't want her more than arm's length away from him, and he didn't want to share her attention with anyone.
This was not unreasonable. He had found her first, all those years ago. What was that saying Shippo always prattled on about? Something about "finders keepers." Seemed fair to him.
Finally, it was getting late. The villagers slowly cleared with waves and well wishes as they dragged themselves and sleepy children back to their homes. Food was put away, lanterns and fires were put out, and finally Kaede declared the whole affair over with.
Finally, he was alone with her.
Kagome glanced at him with tired eyes, but there was a certain glow to them that he couldn't quite place. "Do you know where Miroku and Sango's house is? I'm staying with them tonight."
Inuyasha blinked at her. "You're staying with them? In their hut?"
"Yeah," she said, frowning at him. "Is something wrong with that?"
Inuyasha stifled a growl and a multitude of fantasies involving creative ways to kill Miroku. "No," he huffed. "This way."
He led her to the outskirts of the village, not sparing her a second glance. Of course she'd stay with those two. Sango was like the sister she'd never had, and Miroku was her friend (and he'd better not have any further ideas on that matter). He should have seen it coming. He should have asked her to stay with him first. Not that he exactly had a place she could stay at . . . but it wasn't unreasonable that he would expect her to stay near him. She was his priestess. He saw her first.
"Inuyasha?"
His ears swiveled a bit, but he didn't slow. "Huh?"
She hesitated a moment. "Is everything okay?"
"Fine."
She didn't say anything after that, and neither did he.
He took her to the home's threshold and stopped. She looked back at him with those dark eyes that were questioning and maybe there was something else there, but he didn't know what it was. A small smile finally flitted across her face and some of his anger melted away. He liked that smile. He liked how it had been on her face all day long.
But he really hated how it wasn't always directed at him.
That wasn't selfish. She was his priestess. He had rights.
"I'm glad to be back," she said, her voice low and gentle as to not wake Miroku's sleeping pups. "Thanks for waiting for me."
Inuyasha could feel his cheeks burning, but it wasn't from embarrassment or anything like that. It was warm outside. "I . . . I mean . . . thanks for coming. Coming back," he clarified to the ground.
She moved before he could do anything about it. She just stepped up and pressed her lips to his cheek, and while he was reeling in shocked silence, she turned and walked into the hut and out of his sight.
Well, she certainly hadn't done that to anyone else in the village.
He watched her go, unable to do anything but stand there with the curtain closed in his face until Miroku and Sango had gotten all their mewling brats back to bed, voices died down, and the candles were blown out.
He waited at the threshold in the moonlight, listening as the roomful of humans breathed and their hearts beat. He listened until everything finally slowed with sleep and the hut was quiet.
His cheek was still tingling . . .
With a scowl he finally left the doorway, scaling one of the more comfortable trees around Miroku's hut and settled in to sleep. He sighed, leaning against the rough bark that felt so familiar under his body. He even closed his eyes, letting his thoughts be serenaded by the world at rest.
The breeze sighed through the trees.
Crickets chirped.
Kagome breathed in and out.
His eyes snapped open and he frowned again. Stupid woman! How was he supposed to sleep like this?! Her scent still burned in his nose, and he still felt her lips against his cheek, and it had been years and she was just down there sleeping like nothing had happened!
It was driving him insane! He needed her where he could see her. What if something happened in the night? There were always demons to worry about. Or what if that monk tried anything untoward? Inuyasha wouldn't be there to stop it. He'd only be there after the fact to kill him in the most violent way imaginable.
But he couldn't exactly just ask if he could stay in the hut with them. With her.
Wait . . .
This was ridiculous. He'd been without her for three years. One little night forty feet from her shouldn't be a big deal.
Right. No big deal. Time to sleep now.
He closed his eyes again.
Thump thump. Thump thump. Thump thump . . .
GAH! Why couldn't he focus on something else?! Anything else?! And he could still hear her shallow breathing against the backdrop of the family's cacophony of inhalations, but he couldn't see her and he couldn't stand it!
He had already missed three years. He didn't want to miss anymore.
With a strangled growl he threw his legs over the branch and jumped.
He landed almost silently in a crouch, clawed feet and hands biting into the earth, sending up a cloud of dust and the fresh scent of loam. He approached the hut without a sound, pulling back the curtain and stepping into the dimness. His eyes peered past the dark, passing over the various sleeping forms until he spotted the one he was after.
She was staring right back at him.
He resisted impulse to jump in surprise. How did he miss the change in her breathing?! In her heartbeat? She had him so distracted that even when he was focused on her, he couldn't focus at all! The woman was completely infuriating!
Kagome blinked at him a moment in confusion, as if waking from a dream, then smiled. She lifted herself to an elbow and put a finger to her lips in a universal "quiet" gesture, throwing back her blanket and getting to her feet. She made so much noise, it was a miracle the others didn't wake up. How had she survived so long without him nearby? She was going to attract every nocturnal demon for miles around!
When she was finally up, he followed her outside into the cool night air. He stayed close behind her, watching as she stopped in the grass, stretching her arms high above her head and inhaling through her weak human nose. "It's a beautiful night, isn't it?" she asked to the sky.
Inuyasha watched her easy, peaceful smile. "I guess."
She started walking.
It took him a moment for that to register.
"Wait! Kagome, where are you going?" he demanded, following after her. Stupid human girl! Was she just going to go wandering through the woods in the middle of the night?!
She didn't answer him. She just kept walking.
Stifling another growl, he trailed after her.
She followed the edge of the village, practically skipping through the grass like a child. She took him all the way past the last scattering of huts, out into the night and the rolling hills surrounded by forest. She climbed one of the tallest ones, stopping at its summit, and from it Inuyasha could easily spot the giant Sacred Tree, and past that, the Well.
Inuyasha got an uneasy feeling just looking at it.
"What are we doing out here?" he demanded, studying her while trying to not look at her at the same time. Three years ago, she had been scrawny and pale, but with a strength and endurance that came from facing the threats and battles Inuyasha had dragged them into. Now, she looked . . . well, weaker somehow. She had grown, no longer quite as skinny, but in a sort of nice way. The physical strength seemed to have diminished in her time away, making some protective base instinct of his twinge, but somehow her aura was all the stronger for it.
Regardless, she definitely didn't need to be out of his sight anymore. Period.
Kagome sat down in the grass, her eyes skimming over the surrounding hills and forest before finally locking on the Tree. "I'm just so glad to be back. I really missed this place." She paused, hesitating. "And I really missed you, too," she murmured.
Inuyasha's ears perked at that, even as his cheeks burned. He sat down cross-legged next to her, refusing to look at her. "Took you long enough to get back," he said, then almost kicked himself for it. She said the she'd missed him, and that was how he responded?! How stupid was he?!
She giggled and he looked at her in surprise. "I missed that, too; you always being such a jerk," she teased.
Inuyasha felt his ears flatten against his skull. "That's not what I meant," he muttered.
Her laughter died away and Inuyasha kind of missed it. It was better when it wasn't directed at him, though. She regarded him curiously. "You know, I was almost afraid to come back," she said.
He barely contained a flinch. Afraid? Afraid to come back? Because he was a half-demon? Because she thought he would have given over to his demon side? A sudden cold feeling settled in his gut, and he had to swallow several times to find his voice. "Why?"
"Because . . . well, I guess I wasn't sure if you'd still be there. If you'd wait for me . . . or if you would have moved on, forgotten about me."
Forgotten her . . . ?
She was the only thing that had been on his mind for three years! What did she mean, "move on?!"
"Of course not!" he snarled, voice brimming with indignation as he leaned in her face. "You think I could just move on? What's wrong with you?!"
Her eyes widened in surprise and he remembered himself, backing away quickly and folding his hands into his sleeves, eyes falling to the ground. Silence hung thick in the air, as if she were waiting on him to say something. He fidgeted, looking to the side. "I missed you."
When he finally dared to look at her, she was smiling. It wasn't the reserved one like she'd had on earlier that evening, or shallow like it had been just a few minutes before. She was positively beaming with joy, and Inuyasha dared to hope that he hadn't offended her irreparably for the millionth time.
She leaned her head on his shoulder, and Inuyasha tried to pretend that his heart wasn't racing around his chest like Shippo after sugar. "I missed you too, Inuyasha," she said.
Inuyasha wasn't sure if it was what she had said, or how she had said it, or maybe it was just the sweet, gentle way she'd said his name, but something about it had his ears ringing and his body doing things without his consent.
He was fairly certain that this was the reason he suddenly found his lips on hers.
This was not at all how he had planned things. Not that he had actually ever planned on kissing Kagome, mind you, but if he had planned it, this is most certainly not how it would have worked.
She hadn't been back for even half a day. She was tired, it was the middle of the night, and Inuyasha was fairly certain his brain had stopped feeding him good solid advice and was now taking up part-time work as a paperweight.
He broke away quickly, his face burning as he looked at the ground, the sky; anywhere but at her. He tasted her on his lips and it was like fresh flowers and something so very human, and he hated the way he loved it, wished he had done it years ago, and wanted to try again.
But he could hear her heart hammering in her chest and her suddenly quick breaths and felt her eyes boring holes in the side of his head.
They both sat there and panted a moment.
"Inuyasha," Kagome breathed.
He finally dared to look at her.
She wasn't seething, though, like he thought she would be.
She was smiling. The biggest smile he had ever seen, and tears were coming from her eyes, and . . . wait, why was she crying?!
He felt his mouth moving of its own accord, sputtering and hands twitching as he tried to find a way to make it stop. What did he do?! He couldn't think of any reason for her to be crying! It was just a little kiss!
Then she was laughing, and now Inuyasha was completely confused.
Maybe he broke her. She'd only been back for less than half a day and he'd already broken her.
She wrapped her arms around him and of their own volition, his arms snaked around her, pulling her close, practically in his lap. Somehow, though, it felt too right to be embarrassing, like this was how it was supposed to be, the perfect place for her.
She looked up to face him, the tears staining her face, but the smile more than made up for it. "I'm glad I found you, Inuyasha."
And for the second time, his lips were on hers and he didn't really know why.
But this time, he didn't really care. She was his priestess. He could kiss his priestess if he pleased.
After all, finders keepers.
For SakuraRyuu by ED Staff
Author's Notes:
Recipient's name: SakuraRyuu
Story title: Phantom Greetings
Rating: M
Have you ever paused to wonder how your actions may change you? Was there ever a thought as to the factors that thrust you into such actions with the whole cause and effect bullshit coming into play while trying to make sense of the situation? Most importantly – do you stop to examine how a specific decision could change your whole outlook on life? The very life you thought you were living to the fullest? Ever wondered about the ‘what ifs'?

It's funny how such simple questions never really crosses your mind for a serious answer until you're thrust into a particular situation. You could choose to walk to work instead of driving; you know – reward yourself with the scenery and fresh air. Probably make your own coffee instead of rushing to a coffee shop and spend money you could throw into a saving. Every decisions breathes a reaction; whether it be good or bad, nothing is exempted from the order of consequences. It's just up to you to take it and do with it as you please.

As for Kagome and one particular decision she made?

She foolishly thought ignorance was the best medication.

That blissful ignorance was short lived the moment those familiar amber eyes swirling with humor behind his white mask, much like Kouga's mask – clashed with her surprised gaze. Kagome knew exactly who those amber liquid belonged too. She was sure her idea to dress like The Phantom and Christine Daaé would be a unique choice since everyone usually thought to dress up as the usual, like Santa and Mrs. Claus or Barbie and Ken. So imagine her surprise when they'd bump into their mirrors upon their arrival.

Imagine her surprise when she realized who was behind the white mask!

His midnight silken hair was braided in one, cascaded down his back. The way his bangs hung stubbornly low, kissing his lashes forced her to ball her hands into fists for fear of brushing them away, only to watch with a small smile as they fell defiantly fall back into place. His suit hugged him in all the right places, the historical look bringing out a beauty far more hypnotic than his usually confidently handsome look. Kagome felt as if her mouth was watering from her simple scrutiny. Shifting her attention to the female beside him, she noticed her hair was done the same, with her curls and even had the same length as hers. But she noted that the female's hair was pinned higher than hers, giving the illusion of their hair being the same length. The white dress was also the same, right down to the smallest details. The corset area looked as if it was painted on, revealing ample cleavage to whomever desired a stare. This caused Kagome to look at her smaller chest in comparison, wondering if Inuyasha liked them bigger.

It doesn't concern you idiot, she thought, cursing her indecent worries. I'm a married woman!


If she had known such a gaze would catch her attention, she would have feigned sickness in a heartbeat and hide away in their apartment. As much as Kagome looked forward to this specific ball in general, where they get to become someone else for one night, she would have never thought twice about skipping. Not when unwanted images she desperately wished to despise rose to the surface of her memory. Kagome pressed her laced covered hand to her chest, silently begging her heart to slow down, her eyes drifting around the beautiful decoration for some sort of distraction. She didn't need to look at the man before her to see the spark of knowing in his eyes, didn't need to get lost in his liquid pools to feel the intensity prickling her body.

She'd rather forget.

But the flashes of hands tugging against clothes, the harsh breathing and hurried murmurs tugged in back in the past, drowning her along the way.

But dammit if it wasn't a wonderful feeling.

"Are you telling me that I don't belong here?" Kagome asked, her voice low and husky. Swirling his wrist lightly, causing the amber liquid in her glass to turn into a slight whirl pool, she smiled softly before locking eyes with the man beside her.

He smiled softly. "That's exactly what I'm saying ma'am."

Kagome furrowed her brows in distaste. "God, you make me sound so old Inuyasha," She shook her head at the thought, a shudder coursing through her body. Just because she was on the edge of thirty didn't mean she was old, right? "And how old are you anyways?"

Leaning back on the stool, the man openly roamed his eyes over Kagome, taking in ever curve with an unhidden want glowing in his eyes. The moment he stepped into the cozy bar, he'd taken notice of her instantly. The way she sat meekly in the corner, the small black dress teasing his cock into attention had him heading over to her almost instantly. He knew instantly, by the way she nervously looked around the club that she was fixing for something…

At the same time, her shyness was proof of her lack of skills and he'd be damned if he wasn't the one to help her out.

"I'm old enough," He winked at her, drawing a blush to the surface. "Like how you're not here just for a drink."

Kagome cocked her head to the side, her eyes narrowing slightly. "And what exactly do you think I'm here for."

With a crooked smile, Inuyasha moved closer to her, his lips ghosting across her cheeks before settling on her ear. "A nice, hard fucking."

She gasped, drawing a deep chuckling from him.


Kagome was pulled out of her thoughts just in time to hear her husband, Kouga introduce Inuyasha and his date as well as her – as his wife. It was like the guilt relish in making her comfortable, even more so when she unconsciously looked over at Inuyasha whose eyes lit up with a hint of delight. He was probably surprised, given that their first and only encounter never hinted at a marriage. And why would it when Kagome was sure – at that time – that she would be a divorced woman, with a ticking biological clock and no children. She wet her parched lips slowly, her hands smoothing out her dress with a shaking precision.

"Ah, who knew you were hiding such a beautiful wife, Kouga?" His eyes flickered to Kagome's husband beside whose arm was wrapped securely around her waist. "It's a pleasure to meet you," His voice still had the ability to lick that dormant flame deep within her, coaxing it into a blazing ember. She shifted slightly when the pressure trickled from her erratic beating heart, to the pit of her stomach.

"Um," Stuttering, Kagome broke the pull of his eyes to look at his black gloved hand, outstretched and awaiting her own for a formal introduction. She almost snorted at the irony, remember the way his fingers played her to a moaning melody. Feeling the heat increased immensely at her sordid thought, with her breathing increasing slightly, she raised her hands slowly. "It's…a pleasure, Mr. Taisho." She took his hand with hesitancy.

The moment she felt him grip her hand, she flicked her gaze in his direction, gasping at the intensity aimed at her.

She felt his hot breath on her neck, his bare hands pressed firmly against her lower back, teasing her. Tilting her head to the side and giving him access to her neck, she shuddered when she felt his lips pressed lightly against her neck. He deftly rolled his hips against hers, the feel of his erection rubbing against her thigh causing her to buck against his thigh that she straddled. Their bodies moved sensually, almost as if they were having slow sex on the dance floor.

Scratch that. They were having slow sex on the dance floor.

The feel of his erection grinding against her, his soft teasing kisses leaving a trail of fire against her neck. The confident press of her fingers against her back, forcing her closer to each deft roll of his hips against hers. Kagome's soft gasp and moan filled his senses as she clung to him, her body shuddering with each motion of his hips and hers.

"God you feel so fucking good," He breathed, biting her neck softly which forced a mewl from her lips.

"Yash…" She groaned, her hips bucking uncontrollably now, fighting for the release that refuse to rush forward.

At the sound of his name, Inuyasha groaned, easing back slightly before moving forward to capture her lips in a bruised and dominating kiss that left her breathless and wanton all at the same time.

Their eyes fluttered open as the kiss slowed, the magnetic pull too much to ignore as the rock and retreat of their hips became more urgent.

"Just like that baby," His murmur was a velvet rumble against her lips, his hands gripping her hips, guiding her hips towards him at a fast, uncaring pace.

Kagome's breathing increased, her legs growing weak as the pleasure consumed her. "I can't –…"

"You can," He whispered, his eyes hooded with lust. "You will…" He tilted her hips upward, holding her in place. Shifting slightly, he brought the pressure of his erection against her clit, and Kagome's body instantly bowed forward, her body shaking as her orgasm finally pushed to the surface.


The sensual music drifting from the piano flooded her senses, lulling everyone into a state of a languorous feeling. Hushed speaking and enchanting laughter echoed just above the music and Kagome felt her eyes roaming the vicinity in search a familiar face. Although given the theme of the party, it was almost impossible to pinpoint anyone seeing as most, if not all had worn a mask along with their costumes.

"Please," He started, a smirk playfully tugging on his lips. "Such formalities are behind us," Kagome fought the urge to lick her lips as his eyes heated, no doubt remembering the same thing, up until now, she was reliving. "Call me Inuyasha."

Yes. Of course.

Not wanting to taste the name on her tongue, Kagome smiled softly, accepting the coldness as she dropped his hand before turning to her husband. "I need to go find Sango," She placed her hands on his chest, a sort of sadness washing over her at the lack of response he drew from her.

Kagome remembered a time in the past, back when they were still in college, how a simple gaze would have her hot and bothered until he took care of her. She always basked in the feel of him touching her, enjoying the way he always took his time, winding her up until her body was taut, only to release her when she'd least expected it. She missed that about him.

"I'll be around," His smile was polite, but the love was dimmed. "Hopefully we won't have any mix up," He joked, his eyes shifting to Inuyasha and his date, who chuckled in return.

"I could never mistake anyone for you," Winking at him, she excused herself before hurrying off in search of Sango a.k.a The Evil Queen.

0-0-0-0-0-0

A bead of sweat trickled down the side of Inuyasha's face, his eyes dark with intent as he watched Kagome inhale and exhale quickly. Her hands flattened against his hard chest, sliding down to his hip and around until they settled against the curve of his ass.

"That was fucking beautiful," He breathed, her body still shuddering from her release.

Kagome smiled, resting her head against his shoulders. "That was amazing." Who knew she could get a release from a simple stimulation like dancing. She had never felt so liberated in her life. "I can't believe I just…" Refusing to finish her sentence, she felt her face heating up more upon noticing the crowd around them, although – thankfully – no one was paying them much attention.

"Let's go somewhere quiet."

She felt his breath against the curve of her neck, cooling her heated flesh. She felt his broad shoulders, his powerful thighs and the rock hard evidence of his erection pressing against her hypersensitive core. His grip on her hand was strong and dominating and without a word, he led her to the back of the club, where he took her off to the side. Darkness hid them completely as he braced his arms on either side of her head.

"What if someone sees us?" Kagome looked around quickly, but saw nothing but vehicles and darkness.

"What do you want?" He asked, ignoring her question as he moved closer to her.

She sucked in a shuddering breath, lifting her eyes to his lips before moving upwards to look into his glowing eyes. She licked her lips slowly, watching as his gaze flickered down to watch. Heat pooled between her legs, forcing her to press her legs tightly together. "I want you to kiss me."

Inuyasha groaned, dropping his head and latching on to her neck, kissing and sucking the saltiness away. Desire instantly burst from inside of her, a loud gasp echoing in the darkness. Inuyasha moved his hands lower on her hips, bunching up the dress until it had risen to expose the curve of her bare ass and a hint of her red thong.

"Where," He growled. His hands moved to palm her ass, squeezing and spreading it as he rocked against her.

Unconsciously she opened her legs wider, lifting a leg to wrap around his thigh to give him better access.

"Oh God," She moaned, the pain of his kisses against her neck, the feel of his rough hands palming and squeezing her ass – it was all too much as the roughness of his jeans rubbed harshly against her barely covered core.

"Do you want it here?" He mumbled, a hand squeezing between them to cup her wet pussy, forcing a deep groan from her throat. "You're so fucking wet for me," He groaned, slipping to fingers deep inside of her with ease.

"Inu…Yasha," She threw her head back in ecstasy, rolling her hips against his fingers.

Pulling away when her thrusts became untamed bucking, he moved his drenched fingers, smearing her juices across her bruised lips. "Or do you want it here?" He teased, easing back with a smirk playing on his lips.

Extending her tongue, she flicked it against his fingers before taking them into her mouth, all the while keeping her eyes locked with his. There was a small hitch in his controlled breathing, and Inuyasha bit his lips when he felt her grip his erection. With a pop as she released his well sucked fingers, she eased up, giving him an opened mouth kiss, her tongue flicking against his in a slow sensual move.

"I want this to kiss me here," She squeezed the head of his covered cock before rocking her hips against them.

Brushing her hand away, Inuyasha pressed his body flush against hers, giving her one hard thrust upwards, directly against her swollen clit. At the pleasurable feel she was sure the fucking world tilted on its axis under her feet. The sound of her thong being ripped from her body jerked her into awareness, causing the world to disappear around them as his body crowded her, his scent bathing her in a haze of lustful delirium. All that mattered at that moment was the way he made her feel, and how responsive he caused her body to become.

All the years of being with her husband, he'd never made her feel the way she was feeling to such an extent. It scared her, and excited her all at the same time.

Her state of arousal skyrocketed, and she arched towards him, her moan turning to soft mewls as he pushed forward, drawing himself even closer to her.

Inuyasha took the reign of the kiss, forcing her back into submission as he sucked and bit her lips, flicking his tongue against hers as they hungrily devoured each other with open mouth kisses. But the way she was rocking against him, thrusting and grinding against his thick erection was all on her. He just stood there, trapping her against the wall as she worked her hips like a fucking pro.

"Tell me exactly what you want Kagome."

His demanding voice echoed against her lips and she hugged him closer, her nails digging into his back. "I want you inside me," She breathed, raking her nails down his back before yanking his shirt upwards, wanting to feel the hotness of his flesh. "I want to feel you stretching me," She moaned, her mind focusing on one thing.

"Are you sure about this?" He asked, though his hands moved up from her side to cup her breast as he dragged his lips from hers and to her ears.

"Yes!" She hissed, bucking against him without inhibition, "Now…Oh God, take me now, Inuyasha!"

"Jesus Christ," He cursed, her admission shocking him. He looked around the vicinity for the first time, making sure they were absolutely alone. When he was sure they were alone, he step back a little to undo his pants and release his straining cock. He gripped the thick rod in his hand, stroking it slowly while his other hand plucked and pinched her nipples roughly, causing her to whimper in response.

When her hands dropped from his waist, she knocked away his hand, gripping his erection firmly and stroking it in his absence.

"Fuck," He breathed, throwing his head back as the pleasure consumed him. "Oh fuck yeah," By now he was thrusting in her eager hands.

"Please."

He looked down at her, drinking in the way her nipples strained against her tight dress that was bunched at the waist – revealing her bare milky skin and bare pussy to his eager eyes. Digging into his pocket for a condom, he tore it open when his teeth, putting it in place quickly.

Then without warning, his mouth clammed down on hers, demanding and she raised a hand to press against the back of his head, deepening the kiss even more. Kagome felt him hook his arm under her right leg, drawing her closer to him as he pressed his hand against hers that was still stroking his erection.

Guiding the tip to her opening, he didn't falter in his movement as he surged forward, burying himself to the hilt.

Kagome broke the kiss with a throaty guttural moan.


Frustration was evident on Kagome's face as she walked quickly around the room in search of her friend. How hard was it to find an evil queen? It wasn't like they had that many quests and on top of that, Sango's dress wear was custom made, the color of black and deep purple that should catch her eyes on a simple glance!

"This is hopeless," she grumbled, feeling for her cellphone in her clutch as she headed outside in the garden. If she was lucky, her mindless friend was out there, probably stealing a few touches from her husband.

Thinking back once again to the way her husband was, she smiled sadly, wondering if he would make her night special as he'd promise when they were getting ready earlier. The way he'd winked at her made her flush wantonly. Now, the thought of something special made her eager for it, and she rushed down the steps that led out to the garden with vigor. Even if she didn't find Sango, hopefully her hubby would find her and do well on his promise.

As if God answered her prayers, she was quickly tugged from the path, into a small alcove. A body was pressed firmly against hers, and her only indication was the black gloved hands that made quick work at drawing her dress into his fists until her bare ass was pressed against his growing erection.

"Kouga?" She gasped, but got not answer as he rolled his hips against hers, causing a muffled moan to tumble from her throat.

His hand gripped her waist, the other moving in front to cup her pulsing core. Kagome rocked against the hand, her excitement growing each passing seconds as he manipulated her pleasure by circling her clit firmly.

"God, that feels so damn good," She breathed, pushing back on his erection with her eyes closed. "I had a feeling your promise would be something like this." She threw her head back against his shoulders, bucking into his hand, his fingers sliding down to her center before dragging back up slowly to circle her clit quickly.

His breathing was hot against her skin, his lips lightly kissing the curve of her neck as he brought her close to the edge before slowing down just as she was about to tumble over.

"We have to be quick," She breathed, her hips working rapidly against his erection. "I need to feel you inside of me," Moaning loudly when she felt his bare fingers press against her entrance – not even remembering when he'd take off his gloves – she rolled her hips until his finger sunk inside of her, causing her to groan loudly.

"Shhh," He whispered, the strain evident in his voice.

Kagome thrashed against him, feeling the press of his erection against her, the pressure of his thump on her clit and the stroke of his fingers deep within her. It was almost too much to bare, sure she would pass out before she got her release.

"Please…I'm so close," She hurried out, her hips ignoring her as they surged forward, searching for that right touch to throw her over into completion.

She felt him smile against her neck, his other hand that was playing with her breast leaving to release his erection. The heavy slap of his cock against her ass made her giggle softly, which quickly turned to a moan the moment he pushed it between her legs.

"Damn," She hissed, his head thrusting between her pussy lips quickly while his breathing hitched and puff against her ears.

Kagome pushed back against him with her legs pressed close, squeezing him against her while her wetness made him slicker as he thrust between her. When he angled his hand in front of her, pushing his rod against her core, the head rubbing against her clit with each surge forward, she felt her legs weakening, her body breaking out in a sweat as she jerked against him. Kagome moved her hand towards his, their fingers lacing as she felt the push and retreat of his cock against their hand, dampening them with her juices as well as his own.

She rolled her hips against him, turned on by his harsh breathing and soft groans – and indication of his closeness.

Together they rocked against each other, meeting thrust for thrust. Their moans grew each passing seconds, her moans growing higher while his control kept his at bay. She felt him pull away from her, leaving her to feel the thickness alone as he brought his hand up to her mouth, pushing two fingers in her mouth to muffle her cry of ecstasy.

Kagome's quivering body bowed forward as her released tore through her, both her hands moving to cup between her legs. His thrusts became hurried, and quick as his release neared. One final thrust had his juice spurting out on her hands and she felt another orgasm roll forward from the feel of his own.

Quickly, he spun her around, and she barely glimpsed his mask through her lidded eyes before he thrust himself deep within her, her pussy walls clamping around him instantly.

"Fuck," He hissed, taking her mouth just before she cried out.

Kagome rode him as her orgasm took its course, her hands gripping his broad shoulders for support. With each steady stroke of his cock deep within her, Kagome hugged him closer to her, resting her head against his shoulder while he hugged her around the waist as she continued to ride during the aftershock. She inhaled his scent deeply, licking his damp neck with a moan. She always loved the way he smell – he was like a walking aphrodisiac.

She'd never felt so fucking sated in her life.

Her body sagged against him, her mind fogged with nothing but pleasure. "Wow," she mused, wondering what caused her husband to be so feral. She'd never experienced this from him before, but could probably chalk it up to their lack of sexual escapades over the past couple of months. She giggled softly when she felt him kiss her neck sensually, making her squirm in his arms.

"I know our marriage is still rocky, but…this right here?" She eased back with a wide grin and a blush flushing her features. "This gave me…ho…pe…"

Kagome gasped as she looked into glinting pools of amber.

"Inuyasha!" She breathed tangling herself from his grip. She shuddered when he slipped out of her, her body instantly craving more of him. "I thought…I…What the hell?!" She screamed, straightening her close quickly.

Inuyasha wet his lips slowly, his eyes roaming her body as if she was naked. "For a millisecond I thought you were Kikyou," He admitted, referring to his callous date. But that was quickly diminished the moment he heard Kagome's voice. He couldn't stop himself if he wanted to – even after hearing he call out her husband's name – a man he didn't even knew existed. Shaking his head slowly, eyes as bright as the moon, he slowly smirked at her remember how responsive she always was – and by the looks of things, she hadn't changed.

"You know I'm married!" She hissed, looking around quickly for any witnesses. "And you have a date!"

"That didn't stop you before," Taking a step closer to her, he wrapped an arm around her waist, his other hand stroking her cheek softly.

Kagome would be lying if she said his simple touch and proximity didn't make her yearn for more. "We…shouldn't," She whispered.

His lips descended up hers slowly, giving her time to reject him. When he realize she wasn't about to stop him, he captured her lips in a slow sensual kiss, groaning with want when she responded to him.

Breaking the kiss with a soft exhale of breath, she pressed her palms against his hard chest, her eyes falling closed as she inhale the aphrodisiac scent that she knew belonged only to him. It was a decedent scent that drugged her, filled her with nothing but heated thoughts and aroused her until he satisfied her. She was ashamed to see how much she was still addicted to such a scent…So addicted to him.

Biting her lips, she was torn.

A simple look into his magnetic eyes crumpled her resistance.

"Not here."

Inuyasha grinned widely before brushing his lips over hers and dragging them along her cheek, stopping short of her ear. "Where," he breathed.

With a wide, bashful grin, Kagome laced her fingers with his, dragging him deeper into the garden, away from the party. "Anywhere but here," She whispered, the wind carrying her words to his ears.

... Yup.
For Valeriemary309 by ED Staff
Author's Notes:
Recipient's Name: Valeriemary309
Story title: The Best Gift This Christmas
Rating: G
I sat and listened to Sango’s story about the twin’s latest escapade. With the freshly fallen snow, the twins have been starting snowball fights with all the villagers and their little brother.

“My little boy was so cold he started to sneeze!” Sango said with concern. I giggled at her dismay.

“It’s ok Sango. I’m sure if anything it’s just a cold!” I assured her. Sango whipped the baby’s nose and gave a smile my way. I gladly returned an identical one.

Just as the little baby boy was about to fall asleep from Sango’s soothing rocking, Shippo burst through the cabin door and leapt into my lap.

“Shippo! What’s the matter?” I asked, hugging him close to calm his nerves. Shippo sighed in relief as he looked up at me with a huge grin. But before he could tell me why he was out of breath, two more little beings scrambled through the door with snowballs in each hand.

The toddlers reared their arms back, their eyes locked on Shippo and I, ready to throw. Just as they started to launch the icy clumps at us, Inuyasha breezed into the cabin and lifted the two into the air by the sashes around their waists. Out of surprise the twins dropped the now melting snowballs to the floor, giggling and struggling against their Uncle Inuyasha.

Inuyasha had a scowl on his face as he eyed the youngsters in his grasp. I giggled at the ordeal. I could see Inuyasha’s eyes twitch as he heard my laughter and glanced at me.

After I gave him a ‘try-to-have-fun’ look, he let the twins down as their father finally caught up with them. Miroku was out of breath and soaking wet from snow when he arrived. Sango leapt to her feet and rushed to his side, baby in tow.

I watched as Miroku and Sango got tackled by the twins and they all laughed. An arm wrapped itself around my waist and I knew exactly whose it was.

I scooted closer to the man in red sitting beside me. I chuckled to myself at the ironic comparison of Inuyasha and Santa Claus that my imagination stirred up. I looked over at him and he was starring at me intently with a look that was mixed with confusion, frustration and curiosity that made me want to give him a reassuring hug. But, since Shippo was in my lap, I had to settle with a shrug and a smile. He obviously wasn’t satisfied with my response.

When Sango returns with her family to the fire pit, Inuyasha grabs Shippo by the collar right out of my lap.

“Slay the fox demon.” He said as he casually tossed the small fox in front of the twins to torture. The twins screeched in excitement. They attacked the boy by starting to play tug of war with his limbs. Shippo struggled out of their grasps and escaped to the top of a corner pillar, looking like a cat chased up a tree by a pair of rabid dogs. I shook my head at the scene.

With the kids playing on the other side of the cabin, we were finally able to just talk like we used to.

“Everything has changed so much since last year.” I said with a smile. Sango nodded.

“It has! The twins were a lot less of a handful last year!” She joked. Miroku and I laughed while Inuyasha just crossed his arms and nodded in agreement.

“Yes but I am very excited for our baby boy to celebrate his first Christmas.” Miroku said as he leaned over to Sango and rubbed a finger along his son’s cheek. The baby yawned, causing his parents to smile.

Seeing the happiness in their eyes made my heart warm because I was so happy for them. Their family was growing before my eyes and I couldn’t love them more. Their kids may be rowdy at times, but I never think of them any less than my own family.

I felt so happy. I had my closest friends that I considered family with me to celebrate the holidays and the man that I loved and will spend the rest of my life with by my side. I leaned over and rested against Inuyasha. He happily wrapped an arm around me. I was so content in his warm embrace. I felt safe there. No one could hurt us if we were together. I closed my eyes to enjoy the feel of his arm around me.

Just then, Sango and Miroku stood and gathered the children. I sat up in surprise.

“Where are you going?” I asked.

“We think it’s time to head home for the evening. The kids have had a big day today and it’s time for them to go to bed.” Miroku said with a smile and a wink. I blushed.

They wanted to give Inuyasha and I some alone time!

Sango even gave me a knowing grin. My blush deepened and my face felt like it was on fire.

“Merry Christmas you two! We’ll see you tomorrow!” Sango called as her family exited the cabin. I waved to them in goodbye, almost sad to see them go.

Shippo finally leapt down from the pillar and sighed with relief. He walked over to me.

“I’m going to stay with Kaede! She said she would teach me some spells for Christmas!” He told me excitedly. Inuyasha huffed.

“Well you better hurry then squirt. I bet the old hag is in bed by now.” Inuyasha said. Shippo scowled and turned away from him with his own huff.

“I’ll see you tomorrow Kagome. And Merry Christmas!” Shippo said as he jumped up and hugged me. I hugged him back.

“Merry Christmas Shippo! Be safe.” I told him in a motherly manner. He nodded before pulling away and prancing out of the cabin.

I was glad to finally be alone with Inuyasha. There weren’t many times today that I got these precious moments with him.

As soon as the coast was clear, Inuyasha quickly pulled me into a hug and kissed my lips. I didn’t fight him. I could feel the need he had to hold me close. I needed it too. Our lips broke free of one another and a rested my head on his chest. He picked me up and sat me in his lap.

“I missed you.” He said softly. I smiled. I sat up to look into his eyes. The molten amber eyes that looked back at me showed all the love in the world. All for me.

“I missed you too!” I told him. He smiled back at me. I decided it was time. It was now, or never. I had to give him his gift. “Inuyasha?” I asked. His smile dropped and he waited for me to continue. “I have a present for you.” His eyebrows furrowed in confusion. I giggled.

“In my time, it is tradition to give the ones you love gifts to celebrate Christmas.” I explained. It looked like a fog in his mind cleared as the idea sunk in.

“But I don’t have anything for you.” He said, his dog ears drooping. I giggled again.

“I didn’t expect anything from you.” I assured him. He nodded in agreement.

I grabbed his hand. He watched me intently, eager to see what I had for him. I pulled his hand closer to me. My heart was pounding. I placed his hand on my stomach. He was confused again. I rubbed his hand up and down a little. When he finally realized there was a bump in my belly, his eyes lit up.

“I’m pregnant Inuyasha.” I finally spoke. A big grin swept over his face. He pulled me into another kiss and hugged me tenderly. I laughed and hugged his neck.

I was so happy that he was excited for the baby. There wasn’t anyone else in the universe I would rather be with then him. I was meant for him, and him for me. Now, we were about to go on another journey together. Not one that required many miles to travel, or many demons to defeat, but a journey to raise a family together and live a happy life. All because of this Christmas gift. To me, this was the best Christmas gift Inuyasha could have ever given me.
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