After The End: New Beginnings

Busy Day

Their second night together as husband and wife was peaceful, their second morning together, amusing. Again Inuyasha had held her tenderly in his arms all throughout the night, and again she had woken up to the feel of what her being in his arms really did to him poking into her from behind. Again she had teased him quietly, playfully, and blushing but also laughing, he'd managed to refrain from going 'fishing' that morning, extracting himself from her embrace before moving over to his standard position against the wall as the others roused, and Kagome assisted Kaede and Rin with that morning's breakfast preparations.

After breakfast he'd done a quick patrol of their borders, stating he felt he'd better because he had skipped it the day before. He knew he didn't really have to do it every morning, because it obviously didn't get done whenever he and Miroku were out of town on an extermination job, but it would be irresponsible of him to blow it off when he was there and could do it. Kagome understood that, and had offered to go with him, but at the hesitant, torn look in Inuyasha's eyes, she hadn't insisted. She got the feeling that he feared if she went with him he'd be tempted to do more while out there than just check their borders for the scent of stray youkai. That had been the idea, of course, but she wouldn't force him. She would never force him. That didn't mean she was thrilled with the idea of holding back, though, and while she wasn't deliberately trying to manipulate him, she didn't really try to mask her disappointment, either. She was just being honest. The last thing she wanted to do was pretend everything was a-okay when it wasn't; that mentality had caused far too many misunderstandings between them in the past and she would not be responsible for her husband mistakenly getting the impression that she didn't mind their lack of intimacy in the slightest. She wasn't angry though, and so she'd still smiled and told him she understood. She'd been able to tell from the look in his eyes that he had felt guilty for hurting her feelings. She'd let him process that information and reach his own conclusions by himself.

He came back soon enough, and now, the two of them were wandering around near the clearing of the well, inspecting the landscape and examining the various trees. There were much more important things to think about than him not wanting her to go with him that morning, and so completely putting it behind her, Kagome was genuinely happy in that moment as they shared this time alone together, walking the borders of what they were now officially declaring their own private property. The entire forest was his, really, but this spot, this was theirs.

“Okay, I think this one's gotta go, for sure,” Kagome said, pointing to a particular tree, and tilting his head in thought before nodding in agreement, Inuyasha slashed at it with his claws. He was just making a scar across the bark for now, just marking it to be removed later.

“I think the main house would be best back here,” he said next, gesturing to a mostly open area just to the east of the Bone Eater's Well and Goshinboku.

It was very close to the same spot where Kagome's family's house in the future resided, a fact that was not lost on either of them, but Inuyasha had not chosen that location on purpose for that reason alone. Looking around at the way the earth was shaped, at the taller trees he'd rather leave standing if he could help it, and where the beaten path that had been made by their own feet headed west away from the well and into the woods straight for the village beyond, it really was the best location. Kagome immediately agreed, the two sharing a silent, knowing look. That tender moment escalated into a few kisses that Inuyasha was happy to share with her, but before things could get too heated he reminded Kagome that they needed to go talk to Haruto, and sighing, she knew he was right.

Deciding they had everything figured out as best they could, hanyou and miko went and met with the headman, who promised them he'd have the local men meet them by early afternoon to begin work cleaning and hard packing the earth. He also said he'd send word for the itinerant carpenters right away, letting them know their services were needed as well. With that taken care of, Inuyasha and Kagome headed back to the spot for their future house, after making a quick detour back to Kaede's to borrow a few things first, the hanyou immediately getting to work clearing away the few trees that needed to come down while his miko bride used her borrowed weeding tools to take care of the grasses and underbrush. Sure, she knew the men would do it, but she wanted to help. Yard work wasn't exactly the type of 'alone time' she'd envisioned spending with her husband that day, but it did need to be done, and working on getting their house built, that gave Kagome a whole different type of warm and fuzzy feeling inside her heart. This was important. Kisses could wait.

Inuyasha, who was uprooting the trees rather than merely chopping them down, figuring he may as well get the trunk and roots together in one go since the stumps would have to be pulled out either way, stacked the trees all neatly off to the side, knowing the carpenters were going to need the lumber. Whatever wouldn't work for construction could be cut up into firewood later. Watching him work, Kagome was silently amazed by his nonchalant show of strength. Sure, she knew he was strong. She'd seen him lift giant boulders over his head before. Guiltily, she recalled the time long ago when she'd subdued him while carrying one. Sure, he'd been about to smash the well with it, but that was no excuse. She was relieved he was made of tougher stuff and hadn't been seriously injured, then or any of the other times she'd used that blasted command. Watching now as he gripped the narrower trees by their trunks, claws digging in, before just lifting and hoisting the trees out of the earth as if they were cardboard props in a school play he was removing from the stage, she found herself silently wondering just how strong he actually was. Coming upon one of the larger trees they'd marked, instead of yanking it out of the ground like he was pulling weeds he gave that one a good swift punch, and with a thundering crash it fell to the ground, uprooted as well.

Remembering the joke he'd made after she'd displayed her miko powers, Kagome said, “Damn, remind me not to get on your bad side.”

Carting that tree over to the others, he glanced her way at her comment and laughed. He didn't take her words to heart, knowing she was no more afraid of his demonic strength than he was afraid of her miko powers.

Deciding to break for lunch, Inuyasha made a quick dash to the river to catch them a couple of fish while Kagome tried for the first time to get their campfire going all by herself, without the use of her matches. Taking out her brand new flint and steel, she did it just like Kaede had shown her. It took her a few tries, and Inuyasha returned with the fish scaled and gutted before she'd gotten it, but he waited patiently, giving her words of encouragement, and then before too much longer Kagome successfully had a nice campfire going.

“I did it!” she cheered.

“Keh, 'course you did,” he replied proudly, offering her a tender smile.

They ate in companionable silence, and then it was time to get back to work.

Earlier, Kagome had made a pile of grasses and weeds near the area they had decided would be a perfect spot for their future vegetable garden.

“Look, I've already started my first compost pile!” she joked in that moment, not really kidding, as she tossed the remains of their fish into that pile as well.

Snuffing out the temporary campfire, they both quickly got back to work, and were in the midst of their mutual tasks when the local builders started showing up. After the village men got all their bowing and '-sama'ing out of their systems the group of them quickly got to work, and the men were openly impressed by Inuyasha's show of strength when he continued to uproot the last couple of trees that needed to be removed, adding them to the pile like it was nothing. Then, it was the villagers' turns to get to work, letting the hanyou and miko take a much deserved break, as they watched the men begin the tedious process of hard packing the cleaned earth. It was going to take a while.

In the meantime, Inuyasha and Kagome spoke with the head carpenter, describing for him the precise layout for how they wanted their house to go. Nothing ridiculously grandiose, but nothing too simplistic, either. It had taken some back and forth discussions between the couple to get a final design they could both agree on. Inuyasha wanted Kagome to have the very best, knowing what her house in the future had looked like and what all she'd given up in order to live with him in his century. Kagome, on the other hand, didn't want their house to stand out like a sore thumb if it was made too spectacular for the area and time period. She could live humbly; all she needed was a little place for her and Inuyasha to call their own. Not to mention they weren't high class enough for anything beyond what one normally saw in such a village.

Sure, the villagers respected Inuyasha's lineage and power and considered him high status, not to mention her status in their eyes as the Shikon miko; they would probably comply with building them a freakin' castle if they asked for it. But it wasn't the villagers Kagome was worried about; she didn't want to cause trouble with the local daimyo. Even Inuyasha could understand that. It wasn't as if he were really all that full of himself. Just because the locals thought of him as just barely one step below a kami, that didn't mean he wasn't still a 'filthy hanyou' in most other people's eyes, and he knew that all too well. It was something he was reminded of every time he and Miroku went on an extermination job. And Kagome, while she was their precious Kikyou-sama's reincarnation, the fated Shikon miko, destroyer of evil, to the samurai class she was just another miko. Somebody to be respected, sure, but not that much. They were not high society enough for a castle, which was definitely what that time period would classify a reproduction of Kagome's childhood home.

Finally, they'd agreed to compromise, and stick with a housing design that some of the richest local villagers also had, making sure they held back enough to not upstage the headman himself. His compound had to stay the nicest; theirs would be among the second nicest, thus ensuring it was not too fancy for a village of their stature. On the rare occasion the local foot soldiers came through they shouldn't question it. Hanyou and miko had agreed upon three large rooms; a main living area with a spacious separate sleeping area behind it, and a separate side area off the main room that would eventually function as a proper bathing room. He was definitely going to get Kagome that bathtub, so better to build the room for it now, even if it had to wait a while. As predicted, the village men didn't bat an eye at the request for such a large house, fully believing the couple deserved it.

While speaking with the head local carpenter they also discussed possible locations for a couple of outbuildings, structures for storage and some food preparations. If they ever wanted to make their own miso, or dry their own fish, then an area away from the main house would be best, especially when considering Inuyasha's sense of smell. They also discussed less glamorous necessities, like their own private latrine, and even though they were kind of far away from the nearest public water well Kagome opted out of having a private water well dug because she said they were close enough to the river, just over the rocky incline to the north of the Bone Eater's Well, that she could always just fetch their water directly from the river. It was literally a skip and a jump away for Inuyasha, so whenever she didn't feel like making the few-minute trek he could do it for her, he volunteered in that moment, also agreeing that they needn't worry about the added labor of digging a water well. He'd rather get their water from the river, anyway. Nice and fresh. He'd never cared as much for the taste of well water.

With just about everything discussed that needed to be, for the time being, at least, Inuyasha and Kagome left the villagers to their work, then, heading back to Kaede's to stay out of everyone's way. Inuyasha would help out when he could, when it came to heavy lifting and labor like chopping or moving wood, plus he knew they'd undoubtedly need more trees, but first the dirt had to be packed properly for the house's foundation, so they'd worry about the lumber later. The first thing to go up would be the house's frame, and that couldn't get done until the itinerant carpenters arrived, anyway.

Returning to Kaede's, Inuyasha sat in his customary spot against the wall and listened as the elderly miko told Kagome a few things about healing and sickness. She went through a short list of the most common ailments, and what symptoms to look out for. Soon, Kaede said she'd have Kagome start going with her on her morning rounds, so that she could get the feel for it, but she would let the newlywed couple get settled into their new home first before taking too much of Kagome's time away from her husband. Inuyasha blushed at her comment, but otherwise only replied with “Keh.”

Dinner was peaceful, and then for the third night in a row he slept with Kagome in his arms, his nose buried in her hair. He absolutely adored holding her as he was doing, and she certainly had no complaints about the embrace itself, but even so, it'd been impossible to miss how she'd obviously been holding herself back again as she'd gently kissed him goodnight, a mere peck on the lips. She'd had an almost haunted look in her eyes, and as he lied silently listening to her breathe in that moment, Inuyasha vowed to himself that he'd make it up to her. Just because he'd said he didn't want to 'take her' like an animal didn't mean they had to stop showing all affection for each other whatsoever until their house was built. Kagome hadn't said as much to him directly, but he knew she'd been thinking it; he could see it in her eyes, and read it in her scent. And damn it all, but he wanted to kiss her just as badly as she wanted to be kissed. He wouldn't have been so quick to stop her that morning if it hadn't been for the very real fact that they'd needed to get to Haruto's to get the ball rolling on their house. He'd stopped them for that reason long before things had progressed to a point where he otherwise would've needed to stop them. Kissing he could handle. Kissing and maybe a little light touching. He did not want Kagome thinking he didn't desire her.

Thinking about their trip to the market the day before and what all had been discussed that morning, and the conclusions he'd silently reached, Inuyasha realized abruptly that things couldn't go on like this. He definitely thought Kagome deserved better than to be rutted in the dirt like a dog, but after their recent misunderstanding regarding the whole miko thing Inuyasha too had realized that open and honest discussion was what was needed to prevent any possible future misunderstandings. He needed to suck it up and confess to her his other reasons for holding back. He knew that now.

That next morning, Inuyasha pulled away from Kagome before she woke up, preventing her from again feeling just how aroused he'd become by her presence, but he stayed with her in their private corner of the hut until she woke up and rolled over to greet him.

“Mmm...good morning,” she greeted quietly as she sat up, not wanting to disturb the others. She tried not to let her disappointment show that he'd already left the sleeping bag, not allowing her even the simple intimacy of waking up in his arms, but he could see it in her eyes anyway.

He wasn't worried.

Her melancholy eyes quickly widened in surprise as he immediately leaned down and captured her mouth with a gentle yet passionate kiss. It wasn't all that explosive, but it was far more heated than anything else they'd done in Kaede's house.

“Morning...” he replied then, his voice a husky whisper. “Wanna come with me on my patrols today?” he asked, and he knew he'd made the right decision at the way her eyes lit up, her entire face and aura radiating surprised happiness.

“I'd love to!” she answered sincerely, enthusiastically.

Breakfast had never taken so annoyingly long before in all his life. Inuyasha had been less impatient during the shard hunt, or so he felt in that moment, at least. Perhaps that was a bit of an exaggeration, but now that he'd made his decision he didn't want to lose his nerve; he wanted to get going already!

Fortunately, Kagome managed to slip it in during their morning conversation with Kaede and Rin that she'd be going with him during his morning patrols in a completely innocent, non-suggestive fashion, and Kaede, just as non-suggestively, politely dismissed Kagome as soon as they finished eating, insisting that she didn't need to help with washing the dishes every single morning. If she and Inuyasha had plans that morning, then she did not want to hinder those plans, Kaede stated matter-of-factly. Thanking her and then saying their temporary goodbyes, miko and hanyou excused themselves and headed out.

Instead of going across the street into Inuyasha's Forest, towards the area where their house would soon be built, they headed west, up the shrine steps, figuring there would be far fewer people in that part of the woods. He could already hear the men hard at work on what would be their future home to the east, so going that way wouldn't offer them the privacy they needed for Kagome to climb onto his back without prying eyes bearing witness.

Once they reached the shrine-temple, which was thankfully void of visitors at the moment, and Miroku had also not yet arrived for his daily chores, Kagome, once again dressed in miko garb and armed with her bow and Kaede's arrows, climbed silently onto Inuyasha's back.

In a blink they were gone, racing through the trees, and they each found themselves relishing the sensation, while Inuyasha regretted not having done this sooner. Kagome did wonder in passing what had taken him so long to come back around, having thought after their first forest run that it was something they'd most likely be doing on a near daily basis, but she wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth and was definitely just grateful to be doing it again in that moment. Even if they did nothing but run around before coming back to Kaede's, leaving her no real opportunities to make a move on him, she would still enjoy this moment in time, absolutely loving the sensation of riding on his back as she was currently doing.

For Inuyasha's part, he was wondering what the hell had been wrong with him these last couple of days, to so stupidly deny them this. Well okay, so two days ago had been Market Day; that day was a wash. But yesterday? He could have totally taken her with him during his morning patrols, and if not, then they could have gone out for a private run in the afternoon, after leaving the builders to their work at the site of their future house. Why had he insisted on denying them such alone time? Because he was scared? No more. He had a beautiful woman to call his own, a beautiful wife, and he was damn well going to enjoy that. Just because they couldn't enjoy thatdidn't mean he couldn't enjoy a forest run with her. He'd just been afraid that he couldn't trust himself, but even so, it wasn't really losing himself and defiling Kagome that he truly feared the most, especially knowing that that was precisely what she wanted him to do. It was simply the unknown that frightened him, particularly regarding her reaction to learning about some things that were presently unknown to her...and he'd decided the night before that he would tell her the truth, consequences be damned. She was his wife, he was her husband; she loved him and he loved her and nothing, not even his own stupidity, was going to get in their way.

It didn't take Kagome long to realize that this was a longer morning patrol than Inuyasha usually made. They were still out, deep in the wild forest, by the time he had already returned to Kaede's the previous morning. He was obviously stalling, obviously just enjoying the feel of her on his back, but that was quite all right with the future-born miko and she had absolutely no intention of pointing it out. She would ride with him all day and night if he wanted her to.

Finally, they descended into a clearing, and it took Kagome less than a second to recognize it as the same clearing they had escaped to before, on that fateful afternoon four days prior. Feeling both optimistic and emboldened, she slid silently from his back when he straightened enough for her to do so, and then with her feet touching the ground, he turned around to face her.

Inuyasha met her eyes, and the absolute, unbridled happiness he could see in her gaze mixed with just a splash of mischievousness had butterflies erupting in his stomach.

“Kagome, I...”

Interrupting himself, Inuyasha mentally said screw it and pulled his wife into a kiss.

She instantly and eagerly returned his embrace, their tongues and lips getting reacquainted with one another. His hands stayed in neutral territory, at first, on her lower back and the back of her head, but as her right hand climbed higher than the base of his neck to reach his left ear, her thumb and fingers gently rubbing the soft, fuzzy skin with tender strokes, he growled low in the back of his throat and moved the hand on her lower back a bit farther south. To Kagome's credit, she didn't so much as flinch as she felt her husband's hand firmly cup her ass, nor did the guttural, almost feral sounding growl vibrating in his chest put her off her game. If anything, his actions only fueled her on even more. She maintained just enough awareness of herself to lessen the pressure of her kisses every time she felt his fangs make themselves known, the prominent cuspids poking her a few times but never hard enough to break the skin. Outside of that, though, she was becoming a bit more on the feral side, herself.

Inuyasha did jump in surprise, just a smidgen, when he felt Kagome's left hand dip down to grab his own ass in return, but he didn't pull away or stop the kiss. Instead, he moved his other hand down to her other butt cheek and pulled her hips forward, grinding his pelvis against her.

“Kagome...” he moaned in between kisses. “Damn it...we...can't...” he said only partway coherently, his voice strained, his actions contradicting his words as he continued to rub himself against her, his body's desire making itself known. So much for only kissing and some light touching.

“Why...not...?” Kagome asked between kisses in return, and her words would have sounded innocent if it weren't for how heavily she was panting.

Then, with her right hand never leaving his ear, Kagome moved her left hand away from his ass and to his hip, to the open slit in the side of his hakama. Before Inuyasha knew what'd hit him, her hand had a firm grip on his fundoshi-clad stiffness, and he immediately pried himself out of the kiss with a gasp of surprise, although he couldn't back away from her too far because she had not yet released him down there. Her eyes were sparkling merrily, brow quirked in playful challenge. His hands were off her ass in an instant and were instead on her shoulders, although he wasn't actively trying to shove her away. It was almost more to steady himself on his feet, Kagome'd say. His expression was a comical mix of shock, horror, and elation, and in that moment Kagome gave a little, gentle squeeze, and his eyes widened so far they looked like they just might pop right out of his head.

“K-Kagom-me...” he rasped, “I...”

Then the bitch asked with a teasingly seductive voice, “Do you really want me to stop?”

“Oh fuck...” he groaned, closing his eyes, his ears folding back, causing her right hand to release his left ear in the process. “No...but yes...please. We need to talk.”

That was the single hardest thing he'd ever said in his entire life, and recognizing the seriousness of his tone, and knowing that whatever was on his mind, he clearly wasn't angry with her for her bold actions, Kagome showed mercy in that moment and released him, stepping away from him a few paces so that he could catch his breath.

He was breathing so hard that he looked as if he'd just gotten through battling Sesshoumaru.

She smirked in pride to know that she could cause such a reaction in him so easily.

“Kagome...” he started again in that moment, the expression on his face beseeching her to understand, to let him explain himself. “I...I do think that you deserve better than this...” He gestured with a wave of his hand to the forest around them. “But...but I wanna make sure you understand, that's not the only reason I...” He cleared his throat. “I mean, to be completely honest, I... Damn it.”

Turning away from her, he paced back and forth a little, and she watched him walk in small circles with a look in her eyes that was becoming more and more concerned by the moment. Finally, she spoke.

“I'm sorry, Inuyasha. I was just having fun, I didn't mean to-”

“No, no, it's not that,” he interrupted, coming back up to her and grasping her right hand with both of his own, almost pleading with his eyes for her to just read his mind, which they both knew she could unfortunately not do.

She would give him however much time he needed to say whatever he'd brought her here to say.

He visibly swallowed, preparing to speak again, and she unconsciously held her breath.

“I'm scared,” he confessed quietly.

Kagome blinked, waiting for him to elaborate, but he didn't seem to be about to, so then she decided to prod gently. She would not tease or belittle what was obviously a very important issue to him. She knew how hard it had to have been for him to admit that he was scared, especially over something like this. This was Inuyasha, for crying out loud! He never admitted he was scared; it had to be serious, at least in his mind. That he was actually willing to talk to her about it, that he was actually opening up to her, that showed her how much he really loved her.

“What are you scared of?” she asked softly, tenderly, her eyes reflecting her own love for him in return.

He closed his eyes and sighed, and then opening them again, he gave her a small, sheepish grin.

“Everything,” he admitted with barely a chuckle. “Just 'cause I've had dreams, they were just dreams, ya know?” He hoped she would understand what he meant. “I mean, it's one thing to fantasize about it when you don't honestly think it'll ever really happen, but suddenly, it is real, and it's like, I feel like...”

His eyes lit up, having thought of the perfect analogy.

“Remember how freaked out you were about passing your high school entrance exam once it was the day of the test, no more time to study?”

Her eyes widened a little in partial understanding.

“Are you afraid you...won't be good enough?”

The look in his eyes told her that that was at least one of his major fears, yes.

“Oh, Inuyasha, I love you, and I know you don't really know what you're doing, since you're a virgin, but so am I, and I don't really know what I'm doing either. We'll learn together. I would never, could never, think that you didn't measure up in some way.”

She stepped forward and wrapped her arms around him in a tender hug, pressing the side of her face against his chest, listening to how rapidly his heart was beating. He wrapped his arms around her in return, resting his chin on the top of her head as he held her to him tightly.

“Truth be told,” she continued softly. “As time goes by and we both become more familiar with each other's bodies, we're bound to keep improving, keep learning and advancing, as we try new things, as we figure out what works best. Neither of us can honestly expect ourselves to automatically be awesome at it right out the gate. You'll probably climax a lot faster in the beginning than you will later on, as the newness wears off, and I probably won't at all, from penetration at least. But there are ways around that that I'll be more than happy to teach you.”

She pulled away and gave him a playful wink at that last part, and his embarrassed blush as he avoided her gaze told her that while he might not be able to say anything back to what she'd just said he was at least listening and understood what she'd meant.

It took him a little while to find his voice, but then clearing his throat, he decided not to comment on her last statement and instead asked, “What if I...hurt you?”

He braved meeting her eyes again at that, and the look in his golden amber orbs was one of genuine fear and preemptive regret. The look she gave him back was patient and serious.

“Inuyasha, I'm sorry, but it hurts girls a little bit their first time. I might even bleed a little, and that's just a fact of life. I know how you are when it comes to me being injured, and I'm sorry, but it's hardly as if it'll be your fault in any way, so just don't worry about it, all right? I want to have sex with you, you're my husband, and after the first couple of times then not only will it not hurt me in the slightest, but I'm sure I'll enjoy it as much as you will.”

His ears had lowered to his head at her mention of blood, but at the mention of her coming to enjoy the act they raised back up again, the look in his eyes becoming optimistic. There was a lot of talk in his world about sex being wifely duty and not something the woman necessarily enjoyed, but the last three years of friendship with Sango and Miroku had already taught him that that at least wasn't always the case, and that the wife could indeed find as much pleasure in the act as her husband, at least when the husband cared and was attentive to her needs. Miroku had talked about it often enough, even when he hadn't wanted him to, and so he knew for a fact that the houshi always made sure Sango enjoyed their time together as much as he did. Plus the few times he'd helped Shippou babysit so that they could have some alone time together after the kids were born the slayer had always seemed just as eager to get away as her husband had. So Inuyasha already knew that it was indeed quite possible for the woman to find enjoyment in the act, and to hear Kagome so assuredly state that she knew for a fact she would enjoy it in that way, herself, it meant that she trusted in his ability and desire to bring her said pleasure. She'd just said that she probably wouldn't reach completion from the actual act itself, but that there were 'other' things he could do to help her along, and even though the thought of doing those 'other things' for her had his heart trying to fly right out of his chest, it was a good kind of excitement he felt, at the notion of being the one to cause her such physical bliss.

Not to mention being allowed to touch her in such ways would make some of his own fantasies come true.

The look in his eyes must have reflected the splash of masculine pride he felt at her words, because Kagome offered him a small smile in that moment before leaning in to give him a tender peck on the lips, and he immediately responded to the action, kissing her back chastely.

“I just hate the idea of you being in pain, with me being the cause, but I guess you're right,” he stated after a moment, trying and failing to sound like he wasn't still worried.

“If you want to lessen my pain, there are things we can do beforehand to better prepare me,” she hinted suggestively then, and he blushed again, before adopting a more serious expression of his own.

“With my claws?” he asked disbelievingly, holding up his right hand for emphasis, wiggling his fingers a bit.

Her eyes glanced to his claw-tipped fingers, a look of dawning sparkling in their blue-gray depths as if realizing for the first time that his youkai half would make a difference in their relationship, no matter how trivial.

“Well...I'm sure we can come up with something,” she said after a moment. “If you're very careful it should be okay. I trust you not to hurt me.”

“I can't believe we're actually discussing this,” he said more to himself, looking away from her again, his face as red as his fire-rat robes.

“Hey...” she said, getting his attention as she grabbed his hand. “I'm your wife now, and embarrassing or no, we can discuss anything, sexual or otherwise. If you can confess to me your notion from four years ago of letting me fall to my death after killing the shibugarasu then discussing marital intimacy should be easy. I know this is new and scary, but you're not the only one who feels that way.”

“I know we need to talk about it. That's why...why I brought us out here. It's just hard, okay? You know I ain't no good at discussing mushy, embarrassing shit. I'm doing my best here.”

Kagome accepted that that was true, and decided not to chastise him for calling it 'mushy, embarrassing shit.' He was doing his best, and she would do her best to be patient with him.

Sighing, Inuyasha looked down at where their hands were joined. It reminded him of all the countless other times Kagome had grabbed his hand, even back during the shard quest, without ever even once showing the slightest trepidation regarding his claws. What she was proposing was entirely different than them just holding hands, of course, and far more dangerousin his mind, but it was the thought that counted, and that she would permit him...even though he knew he didn't dare...that she would permit it really meant a lot to him, married or no.

“I...uh...” Clearing his throat, Inuyasha hoped his face wouldn't become a permanent shade of red. “Claws...on the inside...probably ain't a good idea. I know you don't fear them, but I would be a nervous wreck.” Suddenly feeling a splash of bravado, knowing they were all alone and since she was his wife, he then smirked and added, “Especially since I'd make sure you weren't able to hold still.”

Kagome's eyes lit up in surprise at his hentai comment, and she chuckled instead of feeling embarrassed.

“Good point,” she conceded with a laugh. “Not like you could lie still if I had my hand wrapped around your-”

“Uh...” he interrupted, face darkening anew. “Speaking of, that's...that's another thing that I... I mean...oh fuck this is impossible.”

Releasing her hand and turning away again, hand rubbing down over his face in frustration, Inuyasha resumed pacing in his small circles, looking up at the sky on occasion as if he could find the answer written among the clouds and pluck it down for Kagome to read without him having to say it out loud.

“What? What's another thing?” Kagome asked, sounding more concerned than she'd meant to.

He looked her way, and his ears lowered to his head again.

“I...I really should just tell you, 'cause I sure as hell don't want it to be a surprise. That's the real reason I kept stopping us before, besides the fact that I don'twanna bed you in the dirt like a fucking dog. You do deserve better than that, and I am half human. But I'm also half inu-youkai and I...”

He growled, the sound more a groan of frustration, as he looked back up at the sky again.

“Damn it, I don't think I can say it. I want to, but I...I can't.” He met her eyes again, his own full of shame. “And worse, I want you to be honest with me, but I'm afraid that no matter what you'll say nice things 'cause you don't want to hurt my feelings, and I'll never know how you really feel.”

He was proud of himself for admitting at least that much, but he couldn't meet her eyes in that moment, as he turned away from her again, feeling absolutely humiliated. He stopped pacing, but he couldn't look at her either, standing with his back to her. The old him would've probably run off into the trees to be alone by that point, but he was fighting his instinct to flee with every fiber of his being because it wasn't Kagome he wanted to run away from, it was this conversation.

“Okay...” Kagome began slowly. “You're really starting to worry me here. What's wrong?”

He didn't answer, and she could see the remorse in his body language as he slouched some at her question, tilting his head back to look up at the sky yet again. She heard his quiet mumble of 'damn it' and knew that whatever the problem was, it was really eating him up inside. Biting her lower lip, Kagome replayed the last few minutes of their conversation in her head, her eyes widening when she thought she might've found the answer.

“Inuyasha...” she began softly, coming up behind him and gently resting her right hand on his left shoulder. “Are you...self-conscious...about your penis?”

He exhaled, almost in relief she'd say, from her having guessed it so that he didn't have to spell it out for her any more than he already had. Remaining silent, he gave one curt nod, still not meeting her eyes.

A part of Kagome wanted to laugh, only because to her it was such a silly, ungrounded concern, but she knew better. Again, this was Inuyasha they were talking about, and she'd never known him to be shy about any other body part. His ears branded him as a hanyou, but if anybody had issue with them he'd just tell that person to fuck off. But this wasn't about a body part that the whole world saw on a daily basis, she knew. This was about a very private body part that only she, as his wife, would see. And even though if anyone else insulted his ears he'd just tell them to fuck off and be done with it, Kagome knew that if she insulted his ears it would hurt him badly, because he loved her and while the rest of the world could kiss his ass her opinion of him mattered to him. So this, above all else, was a very sensitive issue, and how she handled it could make or break him; she understood that. It could be a sensitive issue for any man in general, if they were 'different' down there in some way, but even more so for him because of who he was and the life he'd lived. Plus there was that bit he'd said about wanting honesty from her but fearing she'd just say nice things so as not to hurt his feelings. He must really be worried. Kagome honestly wondered what his fear actually was, because he knew damn well she'd already seen him naked, and now, she'd even felt his erection through his clothing. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary that she could tell.

Size couldn't be the issue. He most certainly wasn't abnormally small, nor was he ridiculously large to the point where it would really hurt her their first time together. Based on her very limited knowledge on the subject, she'd guess he was well above 'average', but not to the point where there couldn't be the rare human man even more 'gifted' than he was. So if his issue wasn't size, which would probably be any other man's issue when it came to such shyness, what was it?

From what she could recall of the one very brief moment in time when she'd actually seen him naked, he'd looked perfectly normal. Or at least, he'd looked like how she'd expected him to look. She could admit that there were several things about his entire person that defied most people's definition of 'normal' but that was part of what made him who he was, and she loved him, plain and simple; nothing else mattered. So breaking it down in that moment, Kagome conjured up the mental image of his naked body she'd forever committed to memory. Being flaccid at the time had made size deceptive, but she now knew through touch that he was a 'grower' rather than a 'shower', which was just fine with her. He was uncircumcised, of course, but she'd known all along that that would be the case, and that didn't matter to her in the slightest, nor would the thought have even occurred to him that that could possibly be an issue for her because circumcisions just weren't done in the Sengoku jidai. His pubic hair was also white, she knew, which was the thing that had stood out about him the most, but that couldn't possibly be what was bothering him, was it? It had made sense to her at the time to learn that it was white, although thinking about it in that moment she supposed it could have been black since his eyebrows were black, but honestly, she thought the white looked more exotic, anyway. Regardless, he knew she already knew his pubic hair was white, and whatever his issue was, it had to be something he thought she didn't already know about. Kagome very strongly suspected that it was, in reality, a non-issue, but that didn't change the fact that it was a very real concern for her husband in that moment and whatever it was, she would respect his worries and reassure him in a tender, non-teasing fashion.

For Inuyasha's part, he was trying to remain calm but was mentally falling to pieces inside. A part of him was tremendously relieved to have gotten it out there, because springing it on her their first night together was the last thing he wanted to do, but just like any other inevitable event you were dreading having to deal with, the moment of truth was upon him, and he was both anxious for and fearful of her reaction. And she only knew that he had a concern; she didn't yet know what that concern actually was. The reaction he was waiting for from her in that precise moment was only her response to learning that he feared her reaction to his appearance; she still didn't know what he actually looked like, and that reaction was the one he was dreading the most. Would she crinkle her nose in disgust? Would she laugh? Would she throw on a fake smile and try to reassure him that everything was fine, all the while making it obvious that everything was not fine? In the moments of silence that grew between them after he'd nodded yes to her question, all he could do was close his eyes and wait for the ax to fall.

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