After The End: New Beginnings

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I think we're alone now

“Woo-hoo!” Kagome cried out above the sound of Inuyasha's own laughter, as he launched the two of them through the forest from treetop to treetop.

After lunch, when Kaede had told Kagome what medicine she'd needed to make, at first the younger miko had wanted to watch and learn, but as soon as Inuyasha had realized which herbs were involved and had remorsefully told Kagome he'd see her later as he'd prepared to exist the hut, Kaede had then told Kagome that there was no need to immediately launch into her miko training and that there would be plenty of time in the future to learn how to make that particular medicine. The twinkle in Kaede's good eye had made Kagome realize she was being dismissed, and why, and smiling then, she'd agreed, telling Inuyasha to wait up because she was coming with him.

Realizing that a yukata wasn't the best attire for hanyou-back riding, at first she'd planned on changing back into her futuristic clothing for the convenience, even though logically she knew she couldn't wear the outfit forever, but Inuyasha had surprised her then by telling her to go ahead and change back into her miko robes, instead. They were warmer, he'd explained, since the evenings were still chilly and he didn't want her getting cold again. Deciding not to question it, since his reasoning was logical enough, Kagome had ducked behind the changing screen in that moment, missing the look shared between Inuyasha and Kaede as he'd wordlessly gestured to her herbs and gave her a knowing look before silently mouthing 'thank you.'

With a quick mumble for Kaede and Rin to not wait for them at dinnertime, 'cause he didn't know how long they'd be gone and if they were too late he'd just catch them a couple of fish like back during their quest days, Inuyasha and Kagome were then out the door. They'd walked regally across the street side by side, at first, calmly heading past Hideaki's family lands, saying a few quiet hellos to the people who were outside and saw them, and then once they'd entered the treeline and were safely out of sight Inuyasha had immediately crouched down for Kagome to climb up onto his back, and she'd immediately complied.

Now, racing through the forest with no particular destination in mind, her bow across her back along with a quiver of arrows she'd borrowed from Kaede, at the elderly miko's insistence, just in case, Kagome clung tightly to her future husband as he launched them both high into the air, her eyes wide open despite watering from the wind as she took in the sight around them with a feeling of wonder, unafraid. Inuyasha laughed again as she squealed in delight, tightening his hands on her legs, grateful for the fabric between his palms and the backs of her thighs as it helped him stay focused on what was most important in that moment, like where he put his feet. Finally coming upon a clearing, he touched down, and reluctantly let her slide off his back.

“Kami, I've missed that,” Kagome said with a huge grin as soon as he turned around to face her, his own soft smile revealing the tips of his fangs.

“It's different when we're not chasin' something or bein' chased,” he commented.

“Yeah, it's better.”

“Yeah...”

And the very first time she rode on my back like that, I was gonna let her fall to her death after she killed the shibugarasu, he thought in sudden horror, his ears lowering as his face took on a look of shame before he turned his head to look away.

His sudden shift in mood was impossible to miss.

“What's wrong?” Kagome asked, concerned.

“Just remembering what a total heartless ass I used to be,” he answered morosely, and Kagome walked up to him and offered him a warm smile at his words, believing he was referring only to how rude he'd used to act towards her.

“That's all right,” she said sincerely. “People change, you certainly have, and besides that, I know that deep down inside, you were just acting gruff to cover up your feelings of insecurity.”

“That came later,” he said instead of denying her claim outright, meeting her eyes with a tender, loving expression that also silently begged forgiveness. “Once I started to get to know you, once you expressed wanting us to be friends, I did keep my walls up to avoid being hurt, but when I first met you...”

“You tried to kill me,” she finished for him, her smile never wavering. His eyes opened wide in surprise of her nonchalance.

“What?” she teased. “Did you think I'd forgotten? If Kaede-baa-chan hadn't put these on you...” She reached up and fingered the beads around his neck, a frown forming on her own face that time. “I...I should probably remove this, shouldn't I?” Her tone of voice was embarrassed. “You haven't needed it for a long time.”

Kagome placed both hands on the kotodama no nenju and prepared to lift it up over his head, but Inuyasha reached up with both of his own hands to gently grasp her wrists, stopping her.

“Inuyasha...?”

“Keh, leave it,” he said, his tone gentle. “I know you won't ever abuse the thing, and if I ever deserve it...”

“Nobody deserves having their face slammed into the ground.”

He shrugged.

“It also helps whenever Miroku 'n' I get hired to do an extermination job,” he explained. “I've seen it in their eyes. I've heard the whispers. Everyone here knows the rosary is yours, your collar around my neck...I didn't mean that in a bad way,” he added when she opened her mouth to protest. She closed her mouth and let him continue. “But strangers who've heard about us, the monk and his hanyou companion, they'll seek us out if they're desperate enough, but they're also worried, I can tell. When they see me wearin' the rosary, they think Miroku's the one who's got control, like he's my inugami-mochi or somethin'. It puts their minds to rest. I never used to care what strangers thought, but, well, Miroku needs those jobs. He does got a family to take care of, after all. If me wearin' the rosary helps the villages we travel to let us do our thing without hassle, 'cause they think it means he's got me under his control, then let 'em think it.”

“You sure?” she asked, hesitant to believe he was actually okay with the rosary staying on indefinitely.

He nodded, and smiling warmly, he reached up and cupped her left cheek with his right hand. She leaned into his touch.

“I was glad I still had it while you were away. It's my connection to you. Could've been what let me pass through the well to your world, for all we know. We know other shit could get through if it went with one of us, like how that Yura bitch's hair followed me that one time, but I could always come and go as I pleased, with or without you. Could've been this...” He released her cheek to tug on the beads. “Don't think there was ever a time I tried to travel to your world while you stayed here, so for all we know it was the fact that you were already over there, and this connected us, that I could come through to join you.”

“And it's not a bad thing that the villagers know it's my collar around your neck?” she asked, eyes sparkling with both love and amusement.

He shrugged again, blushing mildly but still smiling.

“Hell, if they're gonna see me as an inugami either way, I'd rather you be my owner a million times over than the bouzu.”

Kagome snickered, but then calmed back down, getting a little more serious.

“You know that's not how I see you, though, right? I mean, I understand that you're half inu-youkai, but you're not an inugami. You're not an inferior animal servant. You're a person.”

He smirked playfully.

“I'm half person, yeah, but I really am canine, Kagome. It's okay to see me like that, so long as you don't mind having a dog for a husband.”

On the one hand he was just joking around and teasing, but on the other hand, his statement was also secretly a test. He knew she didn't have a problem with his youkai half, but he hoped it wasn't secretly because she could just see past his youkai features to the presumably human man that lied hidden within, like how Kikyou had seen him. Kagome, unlike Kikyou, did not want him to shed his youkai skin, he knew. She accepted the whole package; that was a given. But they'd never really bothered to have this kind of a heart-to-heart before and he needed to make sure she understood that he wasn't a human man trapped within a youkai's body. Nor was he a youkai trapped within a human body. He now accepted the fact that he was both, and hopefully, so did she. Hopefully, that's really how she'd seen him all along.

I know she's always said she likes me as a hanyou, but having a hanyou friend and having a hanyou husband are two very different things.

Still, she had said pretty boldly, that very morning, that she'd walked away from her life in the future to become the wife of an inu-hanyou. He hadn't forgotten that.

Kagome's contemplative expression in that moment made him curious, as his ears trained forward, noting how relaxed she was, her heart rate calm.

“There is an old folktale, or at least, it's old in my family's time, called 'The dog and his wife,'” she began at last, and Inuyasha stared at her, unblinking in his surprise. She continued.

“The original story was very short, and several different expanded versions have sprung up since then, with differing details, but the gist of it is that a lost man in the woods stumbles upon a cabin and begs the woman who lives there to let him stay the night. Showing sympathy, she complies, but warns him of her husband, an inu-youkai. Most likely a yamainu, I'd say; he's in dog form. Some versions of the tale say she had the man pretend to be a brother she hadn't seen in ages and she had to beg her husband to let him stay. Either way, her canine husband lets the man stay the night, and in the morning the woman makes the man promise to never tell a soul what he's seen. Some versions of the story say the man told everyone immediately upon returning to the capital, other versions say it took time, what he'd witnessed warping in his mind, until the happy wife and husband became an imprisoned woman and monster in his mind. Either way, he raises an army to supposedly 'rescue' the woman, but when they return the cabin is empty, or some versions say they saw the woman and dog fleeing together just as they arrived. Some versions also say they fight the dog, and the dog kills them all.”

She met his eyes with a knowing look in her own.

“If people ever tried to 'rescue' me I'm pretty sure you'd want to stay and fight, not run away,” she acknowledged, offering no protest over the notion. “But no, Inuyasha...” she assured him then, her expression serious, “...your canine side doesn't bother me in the slightest. I can't honestly say whether I would've fallen in love with you had you been a weaker youkai, like Kirara, who I know is just as intelligent as a person even though she's always in animal form. Things would've been...different. I think we both would have seen each other differently if that'd been the case, if you were actually a dog. But, Inuyasha? Even if you werea full-blooded inu-youkai like you'd originally wanted to become, a daiyoukai like Sesshoumaru, like your father, with a humanoid form and 'true' dog form, then yes, I'd still want to become your wife even then. Maybe I am the dog's wife. Maybe that old legend is actually about us.”

He stared at her, mouth agape, not unlike the expression he'd sported that morning when she'd blown off the importance of being a miko, when she'd finally made her feelings clear. Then, slowly but surely, a playful grin crept its way up his lips, until the tips of his fangs were visible again.

“Woof,” he said with a deep chuckle, earning a snicker from her in return. He shook his head in amazement. “If I had a tail, it'd be wagging right now.”

Giggling at that visual, Kagome said, “Now that'd be something to see.”

Reaching up with her right hand, she patted him on the top of his head, between his ears.

“Good boy,” she said in a teasing tone of voice.

He barked out a laugh at that and grabbed her arm, yanking her to him before then wrapping his arms back around her in a firm embrace.

“I'll show you a good boy,” he teased back, before hungrily pressing his mouth to hers.

Kagome was surprised by his sudden boldness but definitely had no complaints, as she eagerly returned his kiss. Inuyasha kept his hands in safe territory, on her back and the back of her head, but the way he gripped her bespoke of his desperation, his desire to bring her in even closer. She fisted his hair and suikan in return, letting him know she was just as desperate. They each lost track of time, periodically breaking away for a few seconds for gulps of air before diving back in for more. For a moment it seemed as if the kiss was going to last forever, and they were both all right with that. It was Kagome's sudden surprised squeak of pain that snapped Inuyasha out of his trance, as he backed away almost panicked, the scent and taste of blood throwing his instincts into high alert.

“Shit! I'm sorry!”

Kagome had to blink a few times to bring her mind back into the here and now, her lower lip stinging mildly. She saw Inuyasha's absolutely terrified expression, as he hesitantly raised the back of his right index finger up to her lip, and when it came away red Kagome reached up with her left hand to press against her mouth, feeling the tiny puncture wound on the inside of her lip with her tongue.

“Wow, okay. So being with an inu-hanyou lesson number one, be more cautious of his fangs,” she said half to herself after a moment, her joyful laugh and amused expression shocking him more than her words.

“You...you're not...mad?”

She offered him another warm smile.

“It was obviously an accident. Why would I be mad?”

He didn't answer, merely pulling her into a tender hug, nuzzling his nose into the side of her neck where her throat met her shoulder. He whimpered softly and licked the side of her throat, and laughing gently, Kagome ran her hand through his hair before reaching up to gently tweak an ear. He pulled back then and met her eyes, the look in his own again full of both love and awe.

“I don't know what the fuck I did to deserve you. I don't deserve you,” he said, his voice quiet, almost a whisper.

Kagome adopted another contemplative look, finger on her chin.

“Maybe I'm your reward for how crappy your life used to be.”

He sighed, chuckling darkly.

“I am so, so glad I didn't hurt you back when I didn't know you, when I didn't care,” he confessed. “My stupid ass probably wouldn't even have regretted it, never aware of what I would now be missing. Kami, Kagome, if anything ever happens to you...”

“Shhh...it's okay...” she reassured, stepping forward to hug him once more.

“I...I didn't just almost cut you down right after killing the centipede.” He just had to confess; he had to get it off his chest, no secrets between them. “If you'd have successfully shot down the shibugarasu when we'd been chasing it, I...I was going to let you fall.”

Kagome stiffened in his embrace, surprised by the admittance, but she relaxed again just as quickly, realizing how hard it must have been for him to tell her such a thing. She pulled back again, meeting his eyes, and grasped both of his hands in hers, squeezing to emphasize her support.

“You didn't want me in the beginning, but I didn't want you, either. I tried to run away, remember? Those bandits never would have captured me in the first place if I hadn't. And if you hadn't come to get me when Yura attacked, I wouldn't have come back, ever. Even after shattering the jewel, even after what Kaede-baa-chan had told us, I hadn't cared. Well, I'd cared, but not enough to come back. I'd been a selfish teenager, just wanting my normal life back. It'd taken our experience with Sakasa-gami no Yura to realize how important my responsibilities here were. So please, don't beat yourself up over what could have happened, what you would have done 'if' this or 'if' that. It didn't happen that way, and didn't we already agree that everything happens for a reason? So everything happened as it was meant to.”

Her lips quirked up into a half-smirk as she continued.

“If you were going to let me fall after shooting down the corpse dancing crow, then I guess now I know why I botched that first shot so badly,” she laughed. “Even after secretly praying for Kikyou to lend me her strength. Maybe she was there, after all. Maybe she did help, and she made me miss, because everything that happened was destined to happen just the way it did, including shattering the jewel.”

No longer appearing either in awe of her forgiveness or remorseful of his old behavior, it was Inuyasha who had a contemplative look as he absorbed Kagome's words.

“Even shattering the jewel, huh? You no longer beating yourself up over that? I'm sorry I always threw it in your face back then.”

She sighed, her smile becoming bitter-sweet.

“It's true that a lot of people died because of all those blasted jewel shards, but over the last three years I got to thinking. What probably would've happened if the jewel hadn't broken? And don't go off into 'what if' land regarding what you might have done with it. I'm talking about Naraku.”

Inuyasha's eyes widened at that.

“Yeah...that bastard, he was out there, somewhere. The youkai were already coming in; word of the jewel was out there, too. That Yura bitch, she hadn't even known it'd shattered until after she got here; she was after the whole intact jewel. But you're right, never mind her, and never mind me. If Naraku had shown up for the jewel...”

She continued where he let his words trail off.

“It's really a matter of when, not if. He would have shown up as soon as he learned that the jewel was back. Back when you and I hardly got along at all, and certainly weren't a good fighting team. Back when I couldn't hit the broad side of a barn and you didn't have Tetsusaiga yet. No Miroku-sama, no Sango-chan...not even the remote possibility of Kikyou helping out because Urasue only brought her back to help her find the shards.”

“Naraku would have killed us easily, and been in immediate possession of the complete jewel,” Inuyasha concluded, realizing it for the first time.

“And a whole hell of a lot more people would have died,” Kagome added.

He smiled at her, and she smiled back, which showcased her slightly swollen lower lip. His ears lowered, a grimace returning to his face.

“If everything happens as it was meant to, why the fuck was I meant to bite your lip just now? I feel like such a bastard.”

Kagome only rolled her eyes, continuing to smile.

“A lesson learned? Mistakes happen, we learn from them and move on. It was bound to happen eventually until we realized we needed to be more careful. Now we know.”

She stepped up closer, erasing the small gap between them.

“Now...we know...to be...more careful...” she repeated slowly between gentle pecks on his lips, as she raised herself up on her tiptoes to meet his mouth with hers while he stood ramrod straight, not bending down to meet her partway in his unease.

It didn't take too long for him to melt against her, though, and as she pulled back, standing back flatly on her feet, he bent down and lowered his head to meet her lips in yet another kiss, more aware of his fangs this time as he refused to completely lose himself in his passion. This latest kiss was slow and tender, instead of rushed and hungry. He was apologizing to her mouth with his own, and Kagome showed him how readily she really did forgive him by showing no fear, even going so far as to delicately trace his fangs with her tongue.

He hesitantly allowed her the exploration, relieved when she didn't cut herself, and then he dared to engage in some mild exploration of his own as he slowly pulled his mouth away from hers but didn't cease the kiss, placing chaste pecks along the sides of her mouth, her cheeks, her chin, before wending lower and tracing her neck with his tongue before placing a few heated, opened-mouthed kisses along both sides of her throat. Kagome tilted her head back to grant him better access, her eyes closed in bliss, and as he hit a particularly sensitive spot she moaned quietly in pleasure. He smirked against her skin at the sound and continued to lave her neck with his tongue, until the scent of her arousal hit his nose and he groaned, pulling back reluctantly.

“I...uh...maybe we shouldn't...that is...you...damn it.”

Shyly, he reached up and rubbed at the back of his neck, blushing at her confused expression.

“I...uh...I can tell you...want me, and I want you too, but...” He couldn't spit it out. He couldn't admit that he was afraid.

Kagome didn't need him to spell it out for her, though. As understanding dawned, as she watched him fumble over his explanation for stopping, she tried not to laugh at the expression on his face, a cross between fear and desire. For as old as he actually was, and honestly, she didn't even know how old he was, he was for all intents and purposes a teenager, same as her. That he had his own set of hormones, and was apparently perfectly aware of her hormones, both embarrassed and excited her.

She grabbed his hand.

“Sit with me,” she requested as she moved to take a seat on the soft grass, gently tugging at the hand she held until he complied, sitting down beside her.

Setting her bow and arrows aside as he did the same with Tetsusaiga, both of them getting a little more comfortable, Kagome leaned against him then, her right temple resting on his left shoulder as she reached across her body to gentle hold his left hand with her left, their joined hands resting together on his left knee.

“There's no hurry...for anything,” she told him then. “I'm happy just to be here with you.”

“Yeah...” he agreed, giving her hand a little squeeze as he turned his head enough to sniff at the top of her head, taking in the scent of her hair.

She giggled.

“You really do love my scent, huh?” she asked, amused.

“How could I not?” he countered. “It smells like you.”

He released her hand and adjusted his left arm to wrap it around her body, and she snuggled even closer against him as he held her to him gently, his sleeve blanketing her petite form.

“You've known for years that I'd been lyin' 'bout hating your smell.”

She laughed quietly at the memory.

“Yeah, I remember when you first told me that. But then the next morning you were so closed off, as if trying to act like the night before had never happened. I didn't know what to think.”

He snorted.

“I had been tryin' to pretend it'd never happened. I was embarrassed as hell, confessin' shit in my fevered state like that.”

“I didn't understand that back then, but as the months went on I eventually figured you out,” Kagome said, snickering.

He raised an eyebrow she didn't see, as he glanced down at the top of her head.

“Oh, so you've got me all figured out now, do you?”

“I came back to be with you, didn't I?”

He laughed a little at that, and sighed, relaxing.

“Guess you really did figure me out, then. Otherwise, with the way I always used to act, you should've ran for the hills.”

It was her turn to snort a laugh, which he found incredibly endearing.

“'Acting' is right, but that's all in the past now, unless you've got any other attempts on my life you want to confess.”

He could tell from her tone of voice that she was just kidding, and wasn't holding his previous confession against him in any way.

“Hell, despite my intentions, you became fucking important to me fucking fast. Only other thing regarding your various near misses that I need to confess is how badly it actually shook me up inside each and every time I thought I'd lost you, no matter how much I'd pretended otherwise at the time.”

“You became important to me too, you know. Why do you think I was crying that first new moon night?”

“Yeah...I know,” he acknowledged, giving her body a little squeeze.

They sat together like that in silence for the next twenty minutes or so, each simply enjoying being in the other's company. They were in a completely isolated little clearing deep in the middle of his forest, much too far from the village for even a hunter to stumble upon them, and honestly, Inuyasha was in no hurry to head back. The sun hadn't even set yet. He'd stay with Kagome right where they were all night long if she wanted to.

Finally, the silence was broken when Kagome's voice piped back up with, “Got anything naughty to confess, then?”

He choked and coughed, although to her it also sounded like a laugh was thrown into the mix.

“Hentai little miko. What's gotten into you?”

Kagome chose not to make any comments about what would eventually be getting into her, and instead reminded him, “You said you'd tell me what you'd been thinking last night when you lied about the fly getting in your ear, remember?”

He laughed nervously that time, and she could hear him exhaling a deep breath.

“You sure you wanna know?” he stalled, in a 'don't say I didn't warn you' kind of tone.

She snorted again.

“You already told me how you'd been tempted to tell me to undress out of the miko robes, a play off of the first time you'd ever seen me in them. Can't be much worse than that, right?”

“Oh yes it can.”

Instead of his assuredness embarrassing or unsettling her, she felt intrigued, sitting up only enough to glance up and meet his eyes.

“Really? My innocent little Inuyasha has had naughtier thoughts than just wanting to get me naked? Now you have to tell me.”

She could sense his hesitation, so she jokingly added, “Show me yours and I'll show you mine.”

He laughed again at that, the sound less nervous and more amused that time.

“Okay, well...” He cleared his throat. “I'd been thinking 'bout the reasons why you wanted to be a miko, and my thoughts had wandered into wonderin' if maybe you'd thought that I only wanted to be friends, and so you'd decided to become a miko because you were a single woman with no family and that was the only fit career for you in this world, without a husband to take care of you...”

“That's it? That's tame.”

“...I'm not finished yet.”

She sat up fully then, and scooted herself around so that she was sitting cross-legged directly in front of him, grateful for the hakama she wore as she more or less mirrored his posture. Her eyes were amused, anticipating, and he blushed, turning his face away from hers.

“With the villagers yammerin' on as they'd been my mind had been wanderin', ya know?”

“You're still stalling.”

“I'm explaining!” he countered, face darkening further. “It's...it's different, thinking of you like that with you freakin' right here.”

“Like what?” She blinked at him with a falsely innocently smile, before suddenly reaching forward with her right hand to grab his left, bringing it up and placing it over her right breast before he had a chance to realize what she was doing and stop her. “Like this?”

He stared at his hand on her breast, transfixed, not daring to believe she'd actually, really just done that.

“I...uh...” He squeezed gently, his eyes open wide in wonder, although her knowing smirk made him yank his hand away, cheeks turning a darker shade of red.

Clearing his throat, he looked up to meet her amused eyes with his embarrassed ones. He continued. “I started to think, well, of course you'd become a miko if you were going to stay single, 'cause what other career choice is there for a single woman with no family, right? But then that thought led to realizin' what other career does exist for such a woman...and I was thinking I'd rather have you be a miko!” He added that last part quickly as she raised an eyebrow at him.

He cleared his throat again.

“But...but then I'd thought, I'd thought that...well, at least if you were...I mean, I'd been so upset that as a miko I'd thought I could never have you the way I wanted...”

Her eyes lit up in realization.

“So you'd thought that, hypothetically, if I were to become a prostitute, then at least that way you and I could still have sex?”

She laughed as she said it, not angered or offended in the slightest, but that didn't prevent his ears from lowering flatly against the top of his head as his face disappeared into the red of his fire-rat.

“It was just a stupid 'what if' moment that popped into my head, unwanted, and that's why I shook my head, to get rid of that thought,” he grumbled shyly.

“The thought of me working in a brothel, or just any sexual thought about me at all since at the time you thought I was a 'pure' miko?”

“Uh...both?” He tried to meet her eyes, but couldn't. “I mean, what's the point in fantasizin' 'bout what I can't have?”

She adopted a seductive smirk at those words.

“But you can have me,” she pointed out boldly.

Surprisingly, instead of getting embarrassed again, his look hardened somewhat, his natural jealousy coming to the surface.

“Yeah, me 'n' no one else.”

“Oh, absolutely,” Kagome answered seriously, deciding not to tease him anymore regarding where his mind had wandered off to the night before. That didn't mean, however, that she was done teasing him about his fantasies in their entirety.

“So, obviously, that wasn't your first time fantasizing about me,” she stated matter-of-factly then.

He snorted.

“Obviously.”

“Any others you feel like sharing?”

He stared at her incredulously.

“You really are a hentai.”

She only laughed again.

“So is that a no?”

“Take it however you want it.”

She smirked again.

“I'll take it however I can get it.”

He spluttered.

“You know, in my fantasies, you weren't usually so brazen. Or at least not until after we were both naked.”

“Oh? So I was a shy little virgin until you made me forget all about my worries?”

Something about her tone of voice gave him pause in that moment, and he eyed her critically.

She deadpanned.

“I'm still a virgin, you know. I'm just not as shy as I used to be.”

He relaxed at her reassurance, and chuckled softly.

“What about you?” she asked him then.

“Guess I'm not as shy, either, 'cause I can't imagine I ever would've used to sit still for this kind of conversation.”

“I never would've let us have this kind of conversation!” Kagome admitted, laughing at herself.

“Yeah, no shit. One word about you naked and I would've been eating dirt.”

It was Kagome's turn to blush.

“I'm sorry...I was a lot more immature back then. There were a lot of times when I said 'it' that I shouldn't have.”

He waved off her concern and apology.

“The past is in the past,” he said, as his way of telling her not to dwell on it.

“That's true...we should definitely look towards our future. But that doesn't mean we should forget about our pasts, and I'd like to know more about yours, if you're willing to share.”

Her tone of voice was leading, clearly hinting at something specific. It took him a minute, and he almost just asked her what she was talking about, but then understanding dawned.

“I've never been with anyone before, either, if that's what you're hinting at.” The look in his eyes expressed that he didn't appreciate her suspicion any more than she had his.

Her expression revealed that while she was pleased to hear this, she wasn't quite as relieved as he'd been, or would have been quite as jealous as he would have been had his answer been different.

“I wasn't sure,” she admitted with a helpless shrug. “I mean, it's different for men, especially in this time period, and with as old as you are... How old are you, anyway?”

He snorted, and then sighed, deciding he could open up to her. She was going to be his wife, after all.

“If you count the fifty years I was sealed to the tree, then I guess I'm about two centuries old, I think, give or take a decade or two. Honestly, I've lost track. Time passes differently for youkai, especially when you're out on your own in the forest with no access to a calendar. I'm pretty sure Myouga-jijii knows the year I was born, so we could figure it out. But either way, it's only been these last three years where I've been treated decently by any human village, so having a relationship with someone, anyone, as a hanyou, was definitely out. Still,” he admitted, “you actually aren't the first person to ask me that. If I'd been with anyone, I mean. Miroku couldn't believe it when I insisted I'd never snuck into a big city on my human night to buy a whore, but honestly, I was just too afraid. I didn't tell him that was the reason. I just told him I'm not as perverted as he is.”

He chuckled a little at the fairly recent memory.

“Truthfully, it's not like the thought didn't cross my mind. I used to sneak into big cities on my human night all the time, for protection from the forest youkai, but I just crept in the alleys, keeping my senses, or what little of them I had left, on high alert. Couldn't afford to lose myself to carnal desires. What if an enemy had seen and followed me? What if they'd thought it the perfect opportunity to strike? As much as the warm-blooded guy in me had wanted to have sex, it just wasn't worth risking my life. Maybe that's being paranoid, but I'm still alive.”

Kagome nodded to that, realizing it really did make perfect sense. But still, two hundred years...?

Wow...

That was quite the dry spell.

“Well...” she spoke up then, “...if you had had past experiences, even in the last three years, so long as it was purely physical, with that kind of a woman, I wouldn't have been angry with you for it. That sort of thing is frowned upon a little more back where I come from, but even so it's still pretty popular, and I know it's not even really considered a bad thing here, for the men at least. Of course, now that we're going to be married I won't allow it, so now you're stuck with me and only me.”

She grinned smugly as she said that last part, sticking out her tongue, and shaking his head with his own smile, Inuyasha snorted a laugh.

“I'm glad I waited. I'm glad you'll also be my first.”

Kagome's heart absolutely melted at those words, and she started to blubber about how that was the most romantic thing he'd ever said to her, but he quickly cut off her girlie gushing before she was too far gone.

“Don't go changin' the subject,” he scolded with playful firmness. “You owe me a fantasy confession, remember?”

She blinked, surprised.

“You really want to hear one? It won't embarrass you?”

“Hell yes it'll embarrass me, but hell yes I wanna hear, so spill!”

She laughed and he offered her a crooked smile, chuckling as well.

“Okay, well...let me think of a good one.”

Shit, how many different fantasies has she had? he wondered silently. The sound of her voice immediately captured his full attention.

“I used to daydream, when Sango-chan and I would go soak in a hot spring near camp, that I'd stay behind in the spring by myself for a while after she was done, and then I'd sense your aura getting closer, and I knew you were spying. Instead of subduing you, I'd pretend I didn't know you were there, and let you look. Sometimes, I was half tempted to actually send Sango-chan back to camp just to see if you'd really show up in real life, even if it was just to 'protect' me 'cause I was alone and vulnerable. I imagined touching myself, and that it'd get you excited, and then when you came out of the shadows I'd invite you to join me in the water, and you'd-”

“Okay, you need to stop right there,” he said, his voice noticeably hoarse. More than just his ears were standing at attention at that point.

Kagome was also just as excited, he could tell.

“Could you...uh...change how you're sitting?” he asked bluntly, tapping his nose.

Kagome's face did a lovely impersonation of a tomato at his words, as she squeaked and shifted her legs around to tuck them both underneath herself while sitting on her knees, like how women were supposed to sit. Suddenly becoming incredibly fascinated by the blades of grass, it was the sound of Inuyasha's deep chuckling that made her dare to glance up at his face again.

“Maybe, one day, we can take the time to act out all our fantasies, but not today,” he said bravely, and she smiled slyly.

“It'll take more than one day.”

He only laughed again.

“I don't doubt it. You don't know half the shit I've thought of over the years.”

“And you call me a hentai. You've been hanging around Miroku-sama for too long.”

They both laughed that time, and Kagome moved to snuggle up against him again.

“Come're...” he said, as he lied back and tugged on her to lie down with him, and Kagome didn't hesitate to comply, lying down with him across the grass, staring up at the clouds.

His left arm was back around her body again, his left hand resting tenderly upon her left hip, her body tucked up against his side as she lied on her right side while he was on his back, her head on his shoulder as she snuggled up against him. Tetsusaiga was within easy reach, should he need it, but he sensed no danger for miles around. The evening was peaceful. Tilting his head to bury his nose in her hair, breathing deeply, Inuyasha felt his entire body relax. He could lie like that forever, with Kagome in his arms. As they silently watched the clouds go by, a part of him wished the evening would never end.


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