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The Death Wish of the Hanyou - 6/?


SapphireSong

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Title: The Death Wish of the Hanyou

Fandom: Inuyasha

DISCLAIMER: There is no way in heck that I own Inuyasha.

(otherwise, there would've been a TON more sneezing, and NOT from the likes of Shippo. aaevil.gif )

Summary: Inuyasha's signature impatience gets him much, much more trouble than he bargains for.

A currently ongoing Inu sickfic of mine that is very heavily Inu/Kag. Lol smile.png

A/N: *clears throat* Okay! Sooo, I don't pretend to know too much about the Japanese feudal era or the official mythology the series was based on; HOWEVER, I do know the fandom quite well, and thus hope to do every character and the general storyline justice. happy.png I have not read the manga, so this fic is based solely on the anime; furthermore, I absolutely adore Richard Ian Cox's Inuyasha, so I attribute the characterization and sneeze-spellings in this to his work on the show. (Yes, he DID actually sneeze on the show. Twice. And I have both clips forever engrained in my memory. XD ) HOWEVER, if you prefer Kappei Yamaguchi.. or your own imagination.. then by all means read it that way!! yes.gif I am going to post the first part now, which does not have any sneezing; nevertheless, it contains necessary set up AND a good amount of Inuyasha angst. laughing.gif I shall post the next part soon though... which will have plenty of sneezing, TRUST me. Hehe!

Yokai= Demon-creature

Hanyou = half-demon...creature

kitsune = fox demon-creature

Tetsusaiga = Inuyasha's epic special sword which prevents his yokai blood from overpowering him

Miko = priestess

(I used some of the Japanese terms because they sound cool. XD)

PART 1

Inuyasha stood at the entrance to the hut, holding back the thick fabric that served as the door. His face wore an expression of barely-suppressed irritation as he gazed out. The village, which was usually bustling with activity, was silent and dark, for the entire ground was covered in a thick blanketing of pure white snow. Indeed, the snow was still falling, drifting down from the howling heavens with no indication of stopping anytime soon.

"Inuyasha, would you close that already? It's freezing in here!!" Kagome's insistent voice cut into his brooding thoughts.

"Yeah, come on," agreed Shippo, teeth chattering. "You're always so inconsiderate!!"

THWACK! Quick as ever, Inuyasha bounded over to the young fox-yokai and delivered a sound clobbering to the kitsune's head.

"Shut up," he growled, crouching down. "I was just seeing if the storm had let up any. We have somewhere we're supposed to be going, remember?" Inuyasha glared at the little group before him. They were all seated on the raised portion of the modest hut, huddled around the warm fire that was blazing in the small square hole in the center of the platform. Kagome was stretched out in her special blanket-bag, textbooks spread before her; Sango, with Kilala on her shoulder, was helping Kaede dish out bowls of stew; Shippo was shivering by the fire pit, little arms outstretched; and Miroku was seated quietly in the corner, staff laid out in front of him.

"Hmm," said Miroku, absentmindedly fingering the beads that encircled his right wrist and staring past Inuyasha toward the door. "It is apparent that it has not let up any; in fact, if anything, it's simply gotten more severe. It would seem that we will be unable to travel for several days."

Shippo perked up immediately. "Good!" he piped, closing his eyes and smiling wide enough to show his tiny fangs. "I'll be glad not to have to go out in that storm. We can finally have a chance to be warm and dry for a change!"

"Yes!" agreed Kagome happily. "We can catch up on our sleep, and I can study for the big test I have this weekend!!"

Kaede smiled. "From what I gather, I believe ye all could use the rest," she said kindly. "In a way, this storm is a blessing in disguise."

Miroku and Sango nodded, pleased. "Mm-hmm."

There was one person in the room, however, that was not at ALL pleased. Inuyasha's piercing amber eyes widened in disbelief, his white dog-hanyou ears twitching at what he had just heard. "Are you people serious?" he demanded, jumping up. His long, silver-white hair whipped around him as he placed his clawed hands on his hips. "We need to find the pieces of the jewel before Naraku gets to them!! Do you think he's gonna let a little bad weather stop him?! Huh?"

"Relax, Inuyasha," said Kagome with a comfortable yawn. "It's only for a few days. It's really no big deal."

"Oh yeah?" His voice carried the trademark snide edge that grated on everyone's nerves. "Didn't you say you sensed a jewel shard nearby, Kagome? We better find it while we can! We never cared about weather before."

"You never cared about weather before," corrected Kagome with a sniff. "There is no way we can travel in a blizzard like that!! Even YOU would freeze to death out there, so forget it! Like I said, the storm'll let up in a day or two, and then we can continue. Even so, you're so impatient that we'll probably end up leaving before the snow on the ground melts at all – which will be a real pain. So why don't you just settle down and enjoy it here?"

Inuyasha clenched his teeth and glared in her direction. He hated it when she used logic, because that usually meant that everyone else agreed with her and he was left in the wrong. Grunting, he plopped down next to Shippo and swiped his soup bowl, shoveling the stew greedily into his own mouth.

"Waaaah!!" Shippo wailed, hopping up and trying to get it back. Inuyasha evaded him easily until he had scraped up the last of it, then handed it back to him, a hint of a feral smirk on his face.

"Inuyasha!!" protested Kagome, scowling at him.

"Never mind, Shippo, there's plenty more," said Sango with a sigh, handing a new bowl to him.

"Kagome, which direction was the jewel shard you sensed?" asked Inuyasha, wiping his mouth on his flowing red sleeve and ignoring the collective glares of his companions.

"Why?" she demanded suspiciously, sitting up. "You aren't thinking of looking for it yourself, are you?"

"Hah!" Inuyasha snorted, rising to his feet once more. "If you weakling mortals can't take a little cold, I'll just go find it myself. Somebody's gotta do it."

Kagome stood also. "Don't be stupid, Inuyasha!" she retorted, crossing her arms. "You talk big like usual, but you'd have to be insane to go out there. It's freezing, snowing, AND it's nighttime. You could DIE."

"I'm not like you!!" he shot back. "I'm not gonna let some stupid snow bother me!! I'll find the jewel shard, defeat the idiot who has it, and be back before dawn!"

"Oh yeah?" she replied. "How're you gonna find it if I don't tell you where it is? Hmm?"

Inuyasha strode over so that they were nose to nose. "You think I need you to tell me?" he said rudely. "I'm a yokai. I can find it myself!"

They stood there a moment, drilling their stares at one another. The others sighed in annoyance; these two were ALWAYS fighting.

Inuyasha expected Kagome to point out that he was a hanyou, not a yokai, and continue yelling at him about how he was endangering himself and she wouldn't let him do it. However, what she did next was unexpected. Her gaze grew colder than the weather outside, and she tilted her head haughtily, uncrossing her arms.

"Fine," she said. "If you're going to be like that, then I'll just tell you to save you the trouble, bonehead." She stepped away from him. "The jewel shard is about two miles northeast of here, which, in case you were wondering, is directly toward the heart of the storm. Have fun." She sat back down, nose turned up. "Your jewel detector has spoken, so go, shoo. Get out of here."

Inuyasha cringed inwardly. Kagome was only this cold when she was really, really angry with him. That was when she would suddenly seem to stop caring what he did at all, and tell him to leave without so much as a smile goodbye. Like now. But as usual, he concealed his disquiet the only way he knew how.

"I will," he sneered. "I'll show you all up and get the jewel shard, and then we'll see who's right!" He stomped toward the door, tugging the collars of his kimono and coat a bit tighter around his neck. Pulling back the heavy curtain, he glanced over his shoulder. "See you later, ya lazy bums!" With that, he was gone.

"There he goes again, trying to prove he's just fine by himself," sighed Miroku, shaking his head at his comrade's stupidity.

"When will he ever learn?" assented Sango, sipping her stew.

"Well if he's not worried, we might as well not worry either," huffed Kagome, stretching out on her back. "He's gone off on his own millions of times, and even if he gets himself into trouble, he usually has no problem getting back out of it."

"Aye," said Kaede quietly, moving to look out at the storm. "But something tells me that this time, he may not be as fortunate."

***

Inuyasha set out across the frozen, snow-covered ground, moving so fast that he seemed almost to fly. Leaping and bounding over the freshly-fallen snow, he was fueled by the restless energy that burned within him. Nevertheless, he had to admit that it was cold: the deep snow was frigid even on his tough bare feet, and the wind assaulted him with a continuous barrage of wet flakes and stinging ice. It wasn't long before his hair and clothing were soaked and filled with snow, and the cold slowly numbed his hands and feet.

After traveling for a long time, he paused as he broke free of a grove of trees into a circular clearing. The wind howled, fiercer than ever, coating his lashes with more snow. Tilting his head up, he sniffed the air deeply, trying to catch the scent of a yokai or... anything besides himself, really. However, the freezing air cut into his lungs and sinuses like a tiny scythe, and he screwed up his face in discomfort. Holding his arm against his face to protect it, he suddenly realized that his nose was so numb that he couldn't smell a thing. Cursing under his breath, he dropped to a crouching position in an attempt to lessen the force of the wind. The cold snow underneath his claws crept up his sleeves, biting at his arms, and the wind simply blew harder, whipping his hair – and still more snow – into his face, stinging his eyes. Wincing, he shoved a fist into one socket, trying to scope out his surroundings with his other eye.

There's nothing out here but snow... and white, he thought, shivering a bit in spite of himself. But I know the shard's gotta be around here somewhere.

Without warning, he felt a sharp twinge at the back of his mind. The demon! He gasped, causing the air to knife at his lungs again. It was approaching quickly, from behind – no, under him! How could that be – Suddenly, the ground beneath him seemed to begin breaking apart; and too late, he realized that he was not standing on ground. The ice burst open with a resounding crack as a large creature emerged from the water behind him. Inuyasha struggled to keep his footing, whirling around to face his attacker. It was a water dragon-yokai, most certainly using a Shikon jewel shard to enhance its power; and apparently, it had decided that Inuyasha was its tasty midnight snack. Saliva dripped from its maw, freezing solid the moment it touched the ground.

“Oh-ho, in your dreams, buddy,” Inuyasha growled, reaching for Tetsusaiga’s hilt. But before he could draw his sword, the beast roared, aiming its arctic breath directly at Inuyasha. Several lethal spikes formed and rained down upon the hanyou, each one made of solid, enchanted ice.

So unexpected was the assault that the spears bit into Inuyasha’s flesh before he could react. One lodged in his chest, one in his right bicep, and one just above his left collarbone. The frigid missiles stabbed all the way through him, and Inuyasha was overwhelmed by the freezing, burning pain. Yelling, he tried to pull the spikes out, but his hands were too cold and the ice was slippery.

Make that ICE Dragon-yokai, he thought darkly, dodging another barrage as he tried to think. “That’s it, ya creep!!” he yelled, extending the deadly claws on his right hand. “Iron Reaver Soul Stealer!!” With one swift motion, he clawed at the yokai, but his aim skewed to the side as a fresh wave of pain from his wounds ripped through his body.

The dragon attempted to close its powerful jaws on the young hanyou, but after a few agonizing minutes of hacking away at the beast, Inuyasha’s tired claws struck the jewel fragment. Yanking it out, he swept a final blow across the yokai’s neck, rending it in two. Sliding to a standstill, Inuyasha gasped for breath as the creature began to fall, lifeless.

As the snow whirled around him, his eyes widened in fear as the dragon’s heavy body crashed through the ice of the lake. Inuyasha tried to jump clear, but he was a second too late, the pain of his wounds hindering him. Crying out, he fell as the ice beneath him gave way, and his muscles locked as he was submerged in water colder than he had ever felt before in his life. Slowly, he lost consciousness as the enveloping, frozen darkness overcame him.

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Cool. I like me some Inuyasha, and you write so WELL, and the characters are so...themselves. :dead: Awesome job!

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It's refreshing to see some Inuyasha stuff again after so long. Great characterization! :dead: I'm looking forward to more.

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Thank you guys SO MUCH!! biggrin.png Characterization is quite possibly my favorite element of writing - sneeze/fanfics or otherwise - so I'm sooo glad you like it! blushing.gif I have so much fun doing this stuff, too, so I hope you all have as much fun reading it happy.png

Okay, so NOW it's time to put the *sneeze* in sneezefic aaevil.gif LOL poor Inuyasha... sleepsmiley02.gif It is time for him to be properly tortured in:

PART 2

Kagome stared at the far wall of the one-roomed hut, listening to the relentless howling of the storm. A full day had passed, and Inuyasha was nowhere to be seen. At first, she had tried to study, but somehow she had difficulty concentrating... and now, she couldn't sleep. Her companions were dozing away, curled in blankets by the fire without a care in the world. Only Miroku was seated comfortably against the wall, which was how the older boys liked to rest because it kept them more alert.

Kagome sighed, tucking a strand of her raven-black hair behind her ear. Although Inuyasha could frustrate her to no end, and he often behaved like an unreasonable selfish pig, she still cared what happened to him. Frowning, she fingered the jewel piece on the chain about her neck.

She cared very much.

And even that was an understatement, for her feelings for the stubborn boy were much, much deeper than she cared to admit.

Miroku opened his eyes and gave her a compassionate look. "He'll be back, Kagome, don't worry." He smiled when her dark eyes met his, sparkling in the firelight. "I'm not surprised that even he would find it tough going in this storm. But he'll be back, as prideful as ever, before you know it. Probably even with the jewel shard, no doubt."

Kagome smiled softly. "Thanks, Miroku," she murmured gratefully. "I hope you're right."

All was silent for several minutes, as each entertained their own thoughts. Suddenly, Kagome gasped, straightening.

"What is it, Kagome?" asked Miroku, straightening as well.

"I – I think I sense a jewel shard!" she replied, sitting up on her knees. "And it's coming closer!"

Miroku closed his eyes. "Hmm. I sense something too. It's moving slowly, but it's definitely there."

The sound of something shuffling through the thick snow came to their ears, and both of them stiffened with apprehension. Kagome clamored to her feet. "It's here," she whispered, clutching her bow. Miroku leapt to his feet as well, as the sound grew louder still. The heavy door fabric bent and shifted as whatever-it-was started to enter, and the sound of its grunts and ragged breathing could be heard.

Kagome's eyes widened. "That sounds like – !" she began, when the curtain was pushed back and a sodden, crimson-clad figure stumbled inside. Inuyasha's face was scrunched up, his black eyebrows white with snow. He was covered in ice from head to toe, his hair and clothing frozen stiff. The cruel icicles were still embedded in his wounds, the blood frozen except for where it oozed sluggishly at the points of injury, and his skin was an appalling shade of blue. He stood in front of the door for a split second, eyes screwed shut; then, with a moan, he collapsed.

"Inuyasha!!" Kagome dropped her bow and and rushed to his side. Her cry woke the others, and Kaede immediately rose to her aid.

"Oh dear," she said quietly, studying the bedraggled, frozen heap. "I knew he was pushing himself too far this time!" She touched Kagome on the shoulder. "Help me get him over to the fire, child," she instructed, moving to lift him. "And the rest of ye, get blankets and hot water and rags ready."

Presently, they had stretched him out on his back by the fire, preparing to remove the spears of ice. Miroku, who was helping Kaede, chuckled softly. "Would you look at that," he mused. "The stubborn fool got it after all." Clenched in the hanyou's fist was the shard of the sacred jewel.

As the warmth of the fire began to dispel the sickly blue hue of Inuyasha's skin, the unconscious boy began to shiver – just a little at first, but with increasing intensity.

"Kagome," said Kaede urgently, "Ye need to help me remove the spikes before he starts to move too much. Monk, I need ye to hold his arms down in case he wakes up."

White-faced, the girl nodded and moved to help the elder woman, and Miroku pushed down on Inuyasha's arms. Both of the priestesses grasped the spike in his arm and eased it out, purifying the ice as they did so which caused it to melt enough to slide out. Inuyasha's eyelids twitched, and he groaned quietly.

"He's coming to," urged Kaede. "Quickly, before he awakens." They next removed the spike in his chest. The water from the melting ice began to mingle with his blood as the fire slowly began to thaw the young hanyou out, and Kagome pressed rags to his wounds to stop the bleeding. She started to take hold of the final spear, but Kaede motioned her hand away. "Let me handle this one, child," she instructed. "It is in a very tricky position." Kagome nodded, and applied more pressure to his other wounds without a word.

As Kaede pulled the third and final icicle out with painstaking caution, Inuyasha's entire body went rigid. His claws spasmed, scraping tiny troughs in the wood of the floor, and Miroku grunted as he struggled to keep his friend's arms pinned down. Inuyasha began moaning in pain, gasping for breath; and as Kaede finally succeeded in drawing it out his eyes flew open, wide with terror.

"There," said Kaede with relief, as the spike dissolved in her hands. Inuyasha shot up as Miroku let him go, but uttered a strangled cry of pain and fell back.

Kagome picked up the jewel shard that had fallen on the floor, purifying it as she did so. "Well, well," she said, staring into his face. "How does our inu-cicle feel now that he's finally woken up?"

"V-v-very f-funny," Inuyasha mumbled, mustering barely enough energy to glower at her. Now that he was finally in warmth, his clothing was a soaked, chilled mess. His body, which had been numb, burned and prickled agonizingly, and his wounds were on fire. The heat was overpowering, and yet he was still freezing. The convulsive shivers that racked his body made it next to impossible to speak, and he felt so weak and tired that he couldn't even maintain his glare. Instead, it turned to a grimace of pain.

Kagome sighed, reaching out and pushing a lock of sodden hair out of his eyes. Now he was wet to the skin, and his hair was pooling water in rivulets beneath his head. "Let's get you dry," she said, unfastening his outer robe and stripping it off.

However, Inuyasha was a fairly resilient individual; and the heat was reviving him quicker than any human would have been. "G-get y-y-your h-hands offa m-me," he growled, struggling to his feet as the power of movement returned to him. Grabbing a couple of the blankets, he sat stiffly next to the fire pit. "I'm f-f-fine, thanks."

Kaede knelt beside him. "I need to look at your wounds," she informed him. "And ye look like ye've had a brush with frozen death; ye should not remain in those wet garments."

He scoffed. "Whatever." He allowed her to remove his kimono shirt, wincing more than usual when she did so, but he did not strip down beyond that. Kagome picked up his hair and began wringing it out as Kaede dried him and began bandaging the wounds.

"Hey, hey!" he protested, trying to face her. "W-whatddya think you're doing??"

"Helping you!!" she replied, twisting his hair firmly. "Or oh, that's right, you don't need any help. You're fine out there on your own."

"That's right!" he shouted, yanking his hair out of her grasp. "I g-got the jewel shard just like I said I would, while you just sat around here and did n-nothing!" He sniffed in disdain, but pain rippled throughout his body and he cringed, his whole face contorting.

"Yeah, you did!" she replied, scooting closer to him. "And look at you! You're half dead!!!" Her voice pitched almost to a wail, the one that indicated that she was about to cry. The others gazed at her, concerned, and Inuyasha gulped.

"I..." he started, swallowing again. "What the heck you talking about, Kagome?" he muttered, clutching the wound near his collarbone. "I-I'm very m-much alive." He snuck a sideways glance at her.

Her eyes were brimming with tears as she leaned toward him, a strand of black hair falling into her face. "You're frozen and severely wounded," she informed him. "Is it really worth one stupid jewel shard?"

He grunted and turned back to the fire. "I'm fine," he snapped, refusing to look at her in order to hide how uncomfortable her tears made him feel. "See?" He motioned to his bandaged wounds. "I've already stopped bleeding, and I feel plenty warm now." Indeed, he had stopped shivering, and looked to be as strong and full of attitude as ever.

Kagome sighed heavily, turning away from him. "Yeah, you're right," she said bitterly. "I guess that yokai blood of yours really comes in handy, doesn't it." She stood and paced a few feet.

His pain having subsided a great deal, Inuyasha got up to follow her. "What's that supposed to mean?!" he demanded.

Kagome looked him over as he once again confronted her, only a foot away from her face. He didn't even look injured or weak anymore, as his heritage seemed to have allowed him to recover from severe hypothermia and stab wounds in a matter of minutes. His angry, arrogant expression irritated her even more than usual, given the fact that she had been so incredibly worried about him.

"You know exactly what I mean!" she retorted hotly. "The only thing your yokai blood seems to do for you is let you blow off your friends."

"Ha! Well you're lucky I let you guys stick around then, because I don't even need friends!"

"You're so stupid, Inuyasha!!!" she yelled back, arms akimbo. "I can't believe you!"

"Well, I can't believe y – " Abruptly, Inuyasha stopped. He grunted a bit, wrapping an arm around his chest. Still facing Kagome, a queer expression began to spread across his face. His eyes seemed to suddenly have difficulty focusing, and his nose twitched. He shivered again, breath catching. He swallowed, and taking a deep, shuddering breath, he sneezed. "Huh'TTCUHH!"

All over Kagome.

She squeaked, then trembled with outrage, thinking he had done so on purpose. "INUYASHA!!!" she yelled, wiping her face with her hands. "SIT BOY!"

Inuyasha, still startled from the sneeze, gave her a look of pure terror. The enchanted beads of subjugation draped permanently around his neck shimmered, and that horrible thousand-pound weight he had come to know so well dragged him down to the floor with a deafening crash. He could do nothing but whimper as the pain exploded through his temporarily paralyzed body, the tingling sensation of the spell mingling with the white-hot pain of his wounds and the cold feeling that suddenly returned.

"Kagome!" cried some of the others, a second too late.

Kagome blanched when she saw the agony on his face. "I'm sorry!" she cried, hands flying to her mouth. "I forgot he was injured!!" She glanced down at the prostrate figure, expecting a snide reply from him; but she sank slowly to the ground at the sight. Rather than protesting and/or trying to move, Inuyasha was still crumpled on the floor, shivering and moaning. The convulsive shivers had returned with a vengeance, and his breathing was labored. Shocked and dismayed, she hesitantly reached out to touch him. He made no motion to acknowledge her touch, which worried her even more.

"Inuyasha?" she whispered. "I'm sorry. Really."

He did not reply. His body had relaxed, released from the spell, but he did not move. Gently, she helped pull him partway up. Still, he did not speak or resist; he simply shivered. Appalled, she tried to catch his eye. His expression was bleary, half-aware; and the sudden paleness of his face scared her.

"Kaede, what have I done??" she wailed.

The elderly priestess prepared a pile of blankets for him. "Lay him here," she instructed. Surveying the boy, she shook her head. "He was never recovered," she stated. "It is not your fault; ye perhaps simply revealed the real problem sooner."

Kagome bit her lip. "Real problem?" she repeated nervously. She looked at Inuyasha. His features twitched again, and he sneezed. "UhhCHuh!" Sniffling, his eyes fluttered open. His turned-up nose quivered, and he moaned. "Hut'kJUU!!" Wrinkling his face, he tried to rub his nose as Kaede put his outer robe back on him.

"The inside of the robe of the fire-rat is now dry," she explained to Kagome. "He will need it."

Inuyasha drew his sleeved arm across his face, expression suddenly helpless and childlike. Kagome stared in surprise and a sort of fascination as his breath began to hitch. "Heh...hehh..H'eHhh..." The impending sneeze was torturing him, caught inside his tired body and tickling him like crazy. The unmistakably vulnerable face it caused him to make seemed misplaced on him. His eyebrows, usually knit angrily, were quirked at an irritated angle; his eyes at a shaky half-mast; his keen nose red and quivering. His arm was poised to catch the sneeze that refused to come, and Kagome couldn't tear her eyes away as she watched him teeter like that, waiting desperately to verge on the sensation.

Finally, it happened. He drew in a giant gulp of air, and his yokai lungs cooperated to forcefully expel it. "huh'ETCSSHU!!!" This seemed to really open the door, as he sneezed again, multiple times. "HutCHUH! HuETJUH!! Heh.. HEH-ISTCH!!" At last, his body gave him a reprieve, and he slumped back against the blankets, sleeve pressed to his face.

"What was that all about?" wondered Shippo, propping his chin on his hands as he gazed at the hanyou.

Kaede looked grim. "It is as I thought," she said. "Inuyasha appears to have come down with Yokai-en Breath."

Kagome paled. "What? A disease?" She tentatively felt the still-unprotesting hanyou's forehead – and gasped. "He's burning up!"

Now, Inuyasha did attempt to speak. "No.." he mumbled, feebly pushing her hand away. "Demons don't... get... sick..."

Kaede frowned at him. "Now who told ye that nonsense?" she inquired. "Yokai do indeed get sick, and this disease is one that only yokai can contract!"

Kagome frowned. "But.. it seems like it's... just a really bad cold."

Kaede regarded the two of them gravely. "Aye, it does," she said. "However, a hanyou such as Inuyasha would not be nearly as likely to get a human cold, even after an ordeal such as this." She shook her head again. "Yokai-en Breath is what a demon can contract when he or she is gravely injured and weak, and sometimes when exposed to hostile environments and temperatures to which they are not accustomed. It spreads like a cold or fever, and shares many of the symptoms. However, unlike a cold, Yokai-en Breath... is fatal."

Inuyasha's ears perked. "Fatal?" he parroted, trying his best to sound suspicious to conceal the fact that he was nervous. "You sure 'bout that? I've never heard of that before."

Kaede gave him a slightly withering look. "And are ye the expert on yokai health, then?" she queried.

Inuyasha felt sweat trickle down the back of his neck. If Kaede was being sarcastic, it must be serious. "N-no," he said, as meek as he could possibly sound. "I guess I'm not."

Kagome stared at Kaede in alarm. "Is it always fatal??" she asked. "Isn't there at least a mortality rate.. or something??"

Kaede frowned. "I know not this mortality rate ye speak of," she replied, tilting Inuyasha's head up slightly by the chin to examine his face. "But I do know this: every yokai that comes down with this disease shall perish, unless the antidote is administered in time."

Miroku and Sango rose. "Then tell us where to find the antidote," said Sango. "We will go and –"

"Nay, child," interrupted Kaede. "The antidote only grows during springtime, and it has no effect unless it is fresh. The only person who may possibly have some in his growing house would be Jinenji." She placed a palm against Inuyasha's head as he grimaced and rubbed his nose. "It is far too dangerous to journey to him now, and even if ye did, by the time ye returned it would be far too late."

Kagome twisted a rag in her hands, heart racing. "So.. so what are you saying, Kaede?" she said, voice small. "Inuyasha's going to be okay... right?"

"All right, that's it!" burst out Inuyasha, scrambling away from Kaede's touch and struggling to his feet. "I ain't gonna die from some fever, okay? I'm fine, you old hag. Get your facts straight." He did his best to be as cocky as usual, but he didn't quite have the energy to pull it off. He grunted and clutched at his wounded chest again, breathing uneven. Drawing his other arm across his face, he sneezed into the fabric. "Huh'tJUH-HUH!" Following this, he shot Kaede a defiant glare, daring her to say something.

Kaede responded by striding over to him, pulling back the sleeves on both arms, and pushing back some of the hair off his neck. "Just as I suspected," she commented quietly. "Ye see this, Inuyasha?" Inuyasha glanced down reluctantly, and gulped. Two deep purple stripes marched angrily down the pale skin on each of his wrists, twisted and ominous.

"These," said Kaede, "signify that your demon blood has been infected with the disease that I speak of. And furthermore," she added, gesturing to his face, "your yokai markings have partially appeared."

Sango's eyes widened as she and the others stared at his face. "She's right," she affirmed. Two more violet marks could be seen on Inuyasha's flushed cheeks, directly under his red-rimmed eyes.

Kaede sighed. "It is extremely fortunate that ye have the Tetsusaiga, or else ye likely would have transformed a long time ago. There is the proof that your life is truly in danger."

Inuyasha reached up to touch his cheek without thinking. Obviously troubled by the elder priestess's words, he exhaled slowly and sank back down to a seated position with one clawed hand pressed wearily against his now-aching head. "That's all I need," he murmured, as if to himself. If I transform now, I... I couldn't take it.

He felt a gentle, comforting pressure on his shoulder and the back of his head, and he glanced up in surprise. Kagome knelt beside him, glaring up at the elderly priestess with the familiar fire in her eyes.

"Come on, Kaede, don't act so indifferent!!" she demanded, half-embracing the hanyou. "There must be a solution – there HAS to be something we can do for him!!"

Inuyasha dropped his eyes to the ground, leaning slightly into her without speaking. However mad Kagome got at him, she would forget her anger the moment he was injured or otherwise hurting; she always stood by him, even when he tried to go off on his own. That was something that he loved about her – and something he couldn't quite comprehend.

Kagome acknowledged his small motion by reaching her left hand up to stroke his bedraggled hair and ears, still gazing hotly up at Kaede.

Kaede regarded them both gravely. "I have a theory," she began slowly, as if trying to think through her speech carefully. "Inuyasha, while possessing strong yokai blood, is, nevertheless, a –"

"Huh'etchuh! Huhh..hut'JUHH!! Mmnh..." Inuyasha crammed the back of his hand against his nose, then started coughing. Kaede scrutinized him with a concerned expression, and Kagome silently laid her head on his shoulder. As a deathly silence descended upon the room, Inuyasha looked from Kagome to Kaede with displeasure, then stood once more, gently pushing Kagome away. "All right, old woman," he growled hoarsely. "If you've got something to say..." he snuffled loudly, wiping his nose with one hand and causing the others to cringe, "then hurry up and say it!!"

Kagome rose and began approaching Kaede, but Inuyasha extended his arm to prevent her from doing so. Instead, he approached the priestess himself.

"Look," he said, restlessly scratching one white ear, "I happen to feel like crap right now, but I told you, I have no intention of dying from some stupid fever. And –" he gave the woman a look that could almost be called a pout, "I know you don't think I will either, or else you wouldn't be so calm." He drew himself to his full height, having retained enough dignity to assume his trademark self-confident pose. "I'm right, aren't I?" he accused, pointing a finger at her. "There's something you're not telling us, so spit it out already!!"

His friends gazed at him with varying degrees of amazement, pity, and bemusement. Kagome glanced at Kaede, curious as to what her reaction might be.

Kaede regarded him coolly. "Impatient as ever, I see, even when dying," she observed, crossing her arms. "Of course there's a solution. If ye hadn't interrupted me so much, I would have told it to ye by now, petulant dog."

Inuyasha nearly fell over at this statement, but his indignation put strain on his body and he was rendered unable to protest. Fatigue getting the best of him, he collapsed to his knees, clutching his chest. Kagome was equally nonplussed, but she stepped forward to address the elder woman. "Forgive us, Lady Kaede," she petitioned, meekly folding her hands behind her back. "I meant no disrespect... I was only worried about Inuyasha – I want to help him!"

Inuyasha peeked up at her, one eye closed. Was she serious? Or was she just trying to coax the information out of the eccentric priestess?

"Aye, I know," reassured Kaede. "Of course ye meant no harm; I want to help him too. I did not tell ye the solution right away because I was trying to discern the best path for ye to take."

Inuyasha groaned. "Geez... if I really am dying, then exactly how much time are we wasting here?!" he complained.

Kaede eyed him. "Perhaps none at all," she stated. Walking over to him once more, she felt his forehead again. "Yokai-en Breath is fatal in yokai, and humans cannot catch it. And ye –" she stepped back from Inuyasha as he sneezed again, loudly, "are a hanyou: one half demon, and one half, human."

He glared up at her. "Gee, thanks for telling me that," he snorted, clenching his teeth. "Really."

"This, Inuyasha," she continued sternly, "is what has allowed ye to contract the illness. And, more importantly, may well be what allows ye to live!"

Kagome gasped. "Because... humans are immune to it!" she said, hope returning to her voice.

"Indeed." Kaede was solemn. "It shall be an extremely difficult ordeal, Inuyasha, but I do not think ye shall perish. The human in ye should be able, in time, to ward off the malady."

"Hmfh." Inuyasha shook his head. "'Should'...'may'... 'in time'... You aren't sure of any of this, are you?!"

Kaede raised her eyebrows. "You're still alive, aren't ye?" she replied. "If ye were a full-blooded yokai, the fever would've devoured your mind by this point, causing ye to sink into endless burning convulsions; in a manner of moments, ye would certainly be dead."

"Well that's good to hear," he returned dryly. "HetCH'UU!" He sniffled. "So, what? Are you saying that I don't even need the antido – unnh!" Inuyasha gritted his teeth and doubled over, clutching his head with both hands.

Awkward silence reigned for a few moments. Then, Kaede straightened, apparently having come to a decision. "His fever is getting worse," she announced to the small group of bewildered onlookers. "Kagome, here is what ye must do."

Kagome blinked. "Me?" she answered, blushing slightly.

Kaede nodded. "Aye. Ye must take Inuyasha with ye to your own world."

Kagome gulped. "What?! M-my world?? What about the antidote?"

Kaede sighed. "I told ye already. The antidote is unattainable in this season, and I do not know if it would even do him any good, given his unique nature. However, the Bone-Eater's Well is in this very village. Ye MUST take Inuyasha back with ye to nurse him back to health, for he cannot remain with us." Kaede moved to her and placed a hand on her shoulder. "If Shippo or Kilala were to catch this," she said softly, "they would surely die."

Sango and Shippo paled visibly, and Kilala mewed and curled closer to her master. Inuyasha, still clutching his head, sneezed violently, then looked up to find everyone staring at him with disturbed expressions. "What?" he said defensively, wiping his runny nose on his sleeve for the upteenth time. Kagome glanced at Kaede, then gave him a quiet, meaningful look. He blinked, then flushed slightly. "Oh." Burying his face into his arm, he suddenly seemed to want to disappear. "Sorry," he mumbled.

Kagome seemed torn. "Is it really that contagious?" she asked, even though she knew the answer – especially given Inuyasha's inherent carelessness.

Kaede, looking from the ailing hanyou to the young miko, gave her a sympathetic look. "Aye," she replied, nodding. "The more feverish he is, the more the ill vapours will be likely to spread; they are of no danger to anyone in your home; therefore, taking him with ye is the most expedient solution."

Kagome hesitated for just a moment longer, then dipped her head in resolution. "Of course," she responded. Moving to pack up her things, she seemed to think aloud. "I was going to go back this weekend anyway, since I have a test to study for; my family would be fine with him staying with us, so I guess I can't complain." Shouldering her hardy yellow backpack, she grabbed Inuyasha's elbow and hauled him up. "Come on, Inuyasha, there's no time to waste!" she ordered briskly.

Inuyasha staggered a bit, but quickly regained his balance. 'Wait... wha....?" he stammered. "We're going now?"

"Yes, now!" she said. "We have to get out of here before you spread any more of your germs around."

Inuyasha looked hopelessly confused. "Huh?" His voice cracked, and he sneezed. "HuhEKTSH!"

"My point exactly." Kagome moved toward Kaede, Inuyasha in tow. "I guess we're off, then," she stated. "How long do we need to stay away?"

Kaede smiled gently. Kagome was a spirited girl, to be sure, but once she had made up her mind about something, nothing could deter her. "Ye must not return until he is recovered," she replied. "First, his fever must break; after that, ye should wait two to three days more, just for caution."

Kagome nodded seriously. "All right," she said. "How long do you think it will last?"

Kaede shook her head. "Impossible to say," she answered. "I have never heard of a hanyou who had it, and the few cases of yokai that survived it were ill for months... and were never the same afterwards."

Inuyasha squirmed out of Kagome's grasp. "Months?!" he exclaimed. "We don't have months!! I'll whip this in three days – just you watch." He shot a hot, determined glare around the room. "Maybe less." He sniffed. "After all, it's just a dumb infection. I've survived a lot worse."

Kaede sighed. "Be careful, Inuyasha," she cautioned him. "This is no ordinary infection or fever. This is a fatal disease, and ye may be a great deal less comfortable than ye think ye will be."

Kagome subconsciously reached out for his arm again. "Kaede, is there anything specific I need to know about this disease?" she asked. "How should I go about treating it?"

Kaede thought for a minute. "The medicines in your world may perhaps aid in his recovery," she said finally. "I do not know exactly what will happen to him, as I have never treated a hanyou who had it. It is a pity that I cannot come with ye; however, ye are very talented, Kagome. I am certain ye will be able to divine what to do."

Kagome smiled shyly at the praise. "Thank you, Kaede," she said.

Inuyasha sputtered. "Kagome? TALENTED?! Are you sure you're not coming down with something, old woman?"

Kagome shot him a death glare, which he promptly shrank away from, but Kaede spoke up so firmly that both teens riveted their eyes on her.

"Inuyasha." Kaede placed her hands on his shoulders, forcing him to make eye contact with her. "Thy life is in Kagome's hands." Kaede's voice was loud, almost angry, and her hands were trembling. "Now is not the time to be quarreling with her."

Kagome stared at the old priestess. Kaede...

Inuyasha, eyes wide with shock, realized in spite of himself that she reminded him of Kikyo. Kaede saw the look in his eyes and softened her tone a little, though the emotion in it was still unmistakable. "Do ye understand?"

Inuyasha's defiance seemed to bleed out of him, melting away under the weight of her words. His scornful expression dissipated slowly, leaving behind the face of the pensive, more mature Inuyasha that he perpetually attempted to conceal. He straightened, nodding wearily. "Yeah. I hear ya."

Miroku and the others had observed the whole conversation with awe. Shippo, sitting on the edge of the raised portion of the floor with his short legs sticking out in front of him, was the first to speak up. "Wow," he mused in amazement. "I guess that would be Lady Kaede's version of 'sit.'"

Miroku and Sango shook their heads, smiling.

Inuyasha clenched a fist and waved it in Shippo's direction. "Aw, shut up," he snarled, sounding more like his usual self. "Don't make me come over there and –" he took a threatening step toward Shippo, but drew in a sharp breath and halted, hands moving to his head once more. He found himself weaving in and out as the room spun around him; but suddenly, he felt someone grasp his arm and back, firmly but gently, allowing him to regain his balance. It was Kagome. Their eyes met as she silently supported him, and he hastily looked away, blushing; however, he did not try to move away.

Miroku rose. "So, it's settled then," he affirmed, approaching the two. "We will anxiously await your return, and pray for your speedy recovery, Inuyasha." He clapped his comrade on the shoulder.

"Yes," Sango chimed in, joining the monk. "I... wish you both good luck."

Inuyasha shifted uncomfortably. He seemed to want to say something, but Shippo trotted over and stood at Miroku's feet, glaring up at Inuyasha with his little hands balled into fists.

Inuyasha blinked down at him. "What's your problem?" he growled.

Shippo remained silent for a few moments, then finally blurted, "Inuyasha!! You better be good and get well over there in the future, because we need you here! Don't die on us! You know I'll never forgive you if you do!!!" He burst into tears, shaking his little fists.

"Oh, Shippo..." Sango scooped him up into her arms, eyes filled with compassion. "He'll be all right. This is Inuyasha we're talking about."

Shippo sniffed and nodded, still staring at the older boy whom he loved like a brother, despite his frequent abuse.

Inuyasha could take it no longer. "Hey, would you all stop looking at me like I'm gonna die?! I'm sick of you acting like you're never gonna see me again! We'll be back in a day or two, so just lay off it!!" He 'humphed' and glowered at the lot of them.

Kagome nodded, and began moving toward the door. "Bye you guys," she said, giving them a small smile. "Don't worry. I'll take care of him, I promise."

Miroku's concerned expression melted into a sly smirk. Eyebrow quirking, he assured her, "Oh, we know you will, Kagome."

Kagome flushed bright pink at his insinuating tone. Sango's mouth dropped open, and she shot an angry glare at the shameless monk. Shippo's eyes grew wide as saucers, and he, too, stared incredulously at his friend. Only Inuyasha missed the comment altogether, as his tough facade wavered with another oncoming sneeze. "uuht'CHUH!!"

Kagome, already sufficiently flustered, nearly jumped out of her skin.

Inuyasha looked up in time to catch the awkward silence. Kagome blurted, "Okay, then, see you later! Come on Inuyasha."

"Wha-? Yeaagh!" Before Inuyasha had the chance to figure out what was going on, she had yanked him out the door.

**

I will post the next part

A. when i write it and

B. when i have internet access. smile.png

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Wahhhhhh this is awesome and adorable and enrapturing and well-written and I love it! :drool: Thanks for continuing, I'm loving this! <3

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm back!! laughing.gif It's really tricky for me to go to places with wifi that doesn't block this site. dead.gif ...but on the plus side, I've been able to WRITE a lot more of this story. happy.png So, for your enjoyment, I now present -

PART 3

Kagome breathed a sigh of relief as the two of them burst out of the stuffy hut into the crisp winter air. It was times like these that she was actually grateful for Inuyasha's density.

The snow had finally ceased to fall, but at least a foot of the powdery substance now neatly covered the ground. Kagome continued to drag him along for a few feet before she decided it was safe to pause.

Inuyasha half-rotated the arm that she was still tightly clutching. "Kagome, what's with the rush, anyway?" he grumbled. He kept his voice steady, but Kagome could feel him tense up as the frigid air surrounded him.

"Um.." she floundered a bit for a suitable answer, even though it should have been simple enough to give him one. "Didn't you hear Kaede?" she blurted, in as authoritative a tone as she could muster. "You're contagious, so the sooner we get you out of here the better!"

He started to object, but seemed to think better of it. "Contagious.." he said finally, glancing down at his wounded chest, which was fiercely throbbing. "I don't get it. I got this dumb fever from falling in the lake, right? So how could I spread it to e-everyo –" his sentence stumbled to a halt as his breath caught in his throat. "huh'tjSHU!" He grunted in disgust, swiping at his irritated nose.

Kagome rolled her eyes. "Well, lemme put it this way," she commented, beginning to move through the snow again. "Every time you cough or sneeze like that, your infection gets into the air and –" she stopped cold and whirled to face him, causing him to wince. "Hold on. Did you just say you fell into a lake?!?"

Inuyasha blinked. "Um.. well..I, uh... n–"

She released his arm in exasperation. "Ugh, you idiot!" she exclaimed. "No WONDER you're sick!! Sheesh." She marched off toward the well, tossing her head. "Well, come on," she said without looking back. "The sooner we leave, the sooner we can come back, you know."

Inuyasha sighed, almost inaudibly, and trudged after her. His whole body hurt, his throat and sinuses were burning, and the snow made his feet feel like lead. Hm, is this what mortals feel like when they get sick? he wondered absentmindedly. He doggedly tried to keep pace with Kagome, who was now apparently in one of her moods. He was determined not to be outdone by her; if she could walk through this stupid snow without a problem, so could he.

As he followed in her dainty tracks, a thought occurred to him. He paused, shivering in the snow. "Hey, Kagome?"

Kagome reluctantly turned around. He was standing tiredly in a sizable drift of snow, fatigue etched on his face. It suddenly struck her that she seldom ever saw him looking so genuinely unwell. He had folded his arms across his chest, dirty sleeves trailing, and she could see that he was trembling from the cold. All this, combined with the somewhat rare absence of derision on his face, made his appearance pitiably pathetic.

"What?" she responded, relenting a bit.

He quietly looked down at her legs. The wet snow came well up past her calves, threatening to seep into the tops of her knee-length socks. Her shoes were completely invisible. "Aren't your legs cold?" he asked, shaking his head slightly.

Kagome suddenly felt extremely guilty. Here she was fine, and sick as he was, he was asking HER if SHE was cold! Biting her lip, she shook her head. "I'm fine," she murmured, walking back toward him. "Don't worry about me."

Inuyasha turned his head. "Who's worrying?" he sniffed. "It was just a question."

Kagome sighed. "It's you who shouldn't be standing out here. I'm sorry." She gently took his arm again.

Inuyasha felt like protesting, but it was getting harder for him to even stand up straight; his legs felt like blocks of ice, even inside his thick pants. He could hardly imagine how cold Kagome's legs could be, as hers were practically bare. Still, it didn't seem to be bothering her, and since she was holding onto his arm, he allowed her to support him, for he needed it.

The trek to the Bone-Eater's Well seemed much farther than usual to Inuyasha; as they made their way through the drifts, his breathing became more and more uneven, and he found himself leaning heavily on Kagome to keep his footing.

This did not go unnoticed by Kagome; he shifted position so that he was draping his entire arm over her shoulders, and by the time they entered the well's clearing she was practically holding him upright.

They walked in silence, but a million different thoughts were whirling around in Kagome's mind. Her irritation toward the hanyou had been replaced by a disquieting sense of guilt. Why is it that I always give him such a hard time? she found herself thinking. True, he is annoying, but so what? It's like I just can't stop nagging him about everything, even when he's half-dead. She furrowed her brow and sighed. No wonder he's rude to me, she thought wistfully. It's not like I give him reason to be nice to me, is it?

As the two of them made their way up the gentle hill to the well, Kagome realized that she was sweating. Inuyasha seemed to be getting heavier and heavier; and it suddenly occurred to her that she was basically carrying him. He was walking, sure, but he was barely able to support his own weight. She panted a bit as they tramped the last few feet. As she stopped in front of the old well to catch her breath, it struck her. Inuyasha has had to lug me around almost every day since he met me... but this is the first time I can remember that he's actually depending on me for support. She felt guiltier than ever. Ohh, he must be hating this right now... hating...me. She squeezed her eyes shut. I bet he wishes he was with Kikyo.

Inuyasha shifted. "What's wrong, Kagome?"

Kagome's eyes popped open. His head merely inches from hers, he was studying her face, gazing at her with that wide-eyed, unwavering stare of his. His quizzical expression, framed by his soft silver-white hair and combined with his adorably cocked dog ears, caused her to completely lose her train of thought. "Wrong..? Uhm.. Oh. Nothing's wrong," she managed, resisting a sudden inexplicable urge to smile.

He dropped his gaze to the well. "You're not tired, are you?" he muttered, shifting his weight but continuing to lean on her. She had long ago gotten over any awkwardness at being this close to him, as she generally rode on his back whenever they traveled. In fact, she found his touch almost comforting, she was so accustomed to it. However, she couldn't help but notice that he was much warmer than usual; intense heat radiated from his body, despite the fact that he was shaking so hard that his teeth were chattering. Her heart beat faster. This wasn't a dream – it was actually happening. Inuyasha, the renowned half-demon of the Feudal Era who never seemed to need anybody's help, was severely ill. And it was up to her, Kagome Higurashi, to make him well. She swallowed. This was going to be interesting.

"No," she answered, suddenly remembering that he had spoken. He shot her a mildly annoyed look, but she quickly helped him sit down on the edge of the ancient wooden well. "But I'm sure you must be, so let's get going." She shrugged off her heavy pack and tossed it into the deep square hole. Climbing onto the edge next to him, she wrapped her arm around his back. "Ready?"

Inuyasha put his arm around her as well. Together, they propped their feet against the inner wall of the depression and pushed off, launching themselves into oblivion.

Kagome braced herself as the familiar butterflies exploded in the pit of her stomach. The falling sensation seemed to last forever as the light of Feudal Japan above them vanished. Phantasmal blue streaks rushed past them as they entered the void of the enchanted passage, causing their hair to whip about their faces. And then, abruptly, it was over, and they floated slightly upward through the cold ground. Inuyasha landed unsteadily, losing his balance and pulling Kagome down. He sighed as his hands and knees hit the ground. Kagome, crouching beside him, looked concernedly into his face as the musty smell of the old shed wafted down to greet them.

"Are you okay?" she asked, arm still wrapped about his waist.

"Ehh...ehT'JUHH!!" Inuyasha sneezed harshly, then crammed the heel of one hand against his nose. "Fine.." he growled, staggering back to his feet. He reached down, hoisted her backpack up, and handed it roughly to her. "Here, you go first," he said, letting go of her waist and standing against the stone wall of the well.

Kagome shouldered the pack, eying him. "Uh.. okay," she replied, and began climbing up the vertical ladder to the opening. Inuyasha leaned his head back against the wall and watched her. I don't dare go first. The way I'm feeling, I might not be able to make it up without falling...

Kagome paused midway up and looked down at him. "Are you coming?" she called.

Inuyasha blinked. "Uh, yeah." He straightened slowly and began hauling himself up.

Kagome shoved the backpack over the edge of the well, then clamored out. Turning, she bent over to gaze into the dark opening. Reaching her hand in, she grabbed Inuyasha's arm and pulled him out. He, too, scrambled over the edge, then leaned on the rim to catch his breath.

"Thanks," he mumbled, one hand unconsciously moving to his chest.

The air in the modern world seemed to be nearly as cold as in Inuyasha's, and Kagome could tell that what little energy he had left was fading fast. "Well, come on," she said for what seemed like the thousandth time; but it was all she could think of to break up the silence. "No use standing around in here all day." She stepped up the few steps leading out of the tiny shrine and threw the double doors open. Bright sunlight hit them, along with a sharp wind that carried the crisp scent of winter with it. Inuyasha winced a bit, raising a hand to shade his eyes.

Kagome took a deep breath. "It's cold, but at least there's no blizzard here," she remarked, looking back at him as he mounted the steps to follow her.

He forced a smile. "Great," he said, grunting in pain as he reached her. Kagome entwined her hand in his and led him outside. He moaned a little as they marched across the yard, weakly putting a hand to his head. His breath became increasingly erratic as he was no longer able to hide his shivering.

Kagome's heart lurched as she hurried toward the house. He was getting worse, much worse; she had to get him somewhere warm before he collapsed. She was having enough trouble supporting him; she seriously doubted that she would be able to carry him.

"Brr, let's get you inside," she chirped, trying to stay upbeat as they reached the front door. She pulled the door open, and the two of them stumbled inside. Phew, we made it in time, she thought gratefully, kicking off her sodden shoes. Inuyasha pushed some hair out of his eyes and stepped back, allowing her to tug her wet socks off.

"Hello, I'm home!" Kagome shouted, but no one answered. The house was dim, and although it was certainly warmer than the outdoors, it was still cooler than she expected. "Hmm, they must be gone again," she commented with displeasure. "Although I can't blame them; they never know when I'll be back." She sighed. "Oh well," she stated brightly. "We're safe here, and that's all that matters." She turned back to him, and her face fell. "Inuyasha," she murmured, taking a hesitant step toward him. "You look terrible."

He lifted his head slightly, expression sullen. "I'm..." He tugged at an ear. She could see that his hand was shaking. "I..." He looked down, suddenly unable to meet her gaze. "Well, that figures," he said, so quietly that she could barely hear him. "I feel terrible." He looked up again, attempting to paste his standard defiance on once more; but his face was twisted with misery. He was completely exhausted.

A shiver went down Kagome's spine; the same one she always felt when he actually showed her vulnerability or emotion. It was fairly rare, but when it occurred, he seemed more real, more human. And it evoked feelings inside of her that she wasn't sure she wanted to have.

Now, though, he looked so sick and weak that pity welled up inside of her, swallowing up the other emotions that she did not dare name. "Hey," she said softly. Closing the space between them, she wrapped her arms around him before she could think too hard about what she was doing. "I'm sorry." She stroked his long hair. Inuyasha drew in his breath as he was engulfed in her tender embrace. Ordinarily, he might pull away.. but she was so warm, and.. and it felt so...

Giving in, he returned the hug, resting his chin on her soft hair. "It's not your fault," he found himself saying.

"I know." Kagome held him tight. "I'm going to help you get better, I promise."

***

A few minutes later, Inuyasha waited languidly in the upstairs hall as Kagome rummaged around in her grandfather's closet. Presently, she came out, sliding the door shut behind her.

"You really shouldn't be wearing those wet clothes," she said, grabbing his wrist and tugging him down the hall after her. "Come here, I'll show you where you can stay."

Inuyasha furrowed his brow as he stumbled along. "Wh- stay? Aren't I going to –"

"Here we are." Kagome stopped in front of another door at the end of the hallway. "This is our guest room." She pulled the door open and entered with him. "It's kinda small, and we never have guests so we mostly just use it for storage..."

The room was tiny, but comfortable, with a bed, table, and standing lamp. Boxes of assorted sizes lined the walls and were scattered across the floor and bed. Kagome switched on the lamp and began clearing the boxes off the bed as Inuyasha stood awkwardly near the doorway.

"Okay," she finished, turning down the blankets and returning her attention to the hanyou. "Why don't I step out while you change into these." She thrust a bundle of clothing into his arms.

"What's this?" Inuyasha asked, blinking at the strange apparel.

"It's a pair of pajama pants and a t-shirt," she replied, showing them to him. "They'll keep you warm while I wash these." She tugged at his robe sleeve.

He swallowed, then winced as sharp pain shot through his throat. "Can't I just wear my –" he began.

"Inuyasha," she interrupted, "your clothes are filthy, and they're wet. You shouldn't get the bed dirty, you know, and wet clothes aren't gonna help your fever!!" She pushed him farther into the room. "So go on, get changed!!"

"O-okay," he managed as she marched out the door.

When she reentered, he was standing in pretty much the same position as before, except he was wearing the change of clothes she had given him and holding his dirty ones.

"Thank you," she said, taking them from him. "Now you rest while I wash these." She turned to leave, but he stopped her.

"Wait, Kagome!!" he said, crossing his arms. "I don't need to stay in here. I always stay in your room."

She gave him an odd look. "Well, yeah, but... you're sick. You need a good place to rest, especially since you're gonna be here for a while. Where d'you think you'd sleep? On the floor?!" She shook her head. "No way. Oh, and there's no way you're sleeping on my bed, either."

He scowled. "Are you saying there's something wrong with sleeping on the floor?"

Kagome gave him an incredulous look. "When you're sick, yes!" she replied, putting her hands on her hips and approaching him. "Are you really gonna argue with me about this?! This room is perfect. It's warm, has a nice comfortable bed, and it's out of the way so nobody will bother you. Okay?"

Even as worn out as he was, he was still more stubborn than anyone she had ever met before. "I don't need a fancy bed!" he insisted, sniffling and rubbing his nose. "I just need –"

Kagome sighed in exasperation. "You 'just need' to LISTEN to me!!" she said, grabbing him by the shoulders and maneuvering him over to the bed. "Kaede chose me to take care of you, so just trust me, okay? I know what I'm doing!!" She pushed him down, forcing him to sit down on the bed.

Inuyasha scooted back from her a bit, but was not done complaining. "I thought you said you didn't know what you were doing," he persisted disdainfully. "No one knows anything about what'll happen to me, remember?"

Kagome gritted her teeth. "You know what?! SIT BOY!!"

"Yii-!" THUMP! Inuyasha toppled over on his side, squashing his head against the pillow with his arms sprawling in front of his face.

"There." She crossed her arms triumphantly. He squirmed, trying to sit back up, but was interrupted by a coughing fit. Kagome's irritation dissipated once more as she watched him bury his face in his arms and cough. It sounded really painful; and when he was finished, he lay there on his side though the sit spell had worn off by then.

"Mmn..." He pulled his arms away from his face and shifted position. "Huhh-uh... hut'JCHH!! hut'kjUHH!" He sneezed for what he felt must've been the millionth time that day. "Some nurse you are," he griped. "Do you have any idea how much that hurts?!" He groaned, flopping onto his back. "I should've stayed back home... you're just gonna sit me to death here." He glowered at the ceiling.

Kagome's annoyance returned, although it was tinged with pain at his words. "You really think I..." she stared at him for a moment, then looked at her feet. "Okay. I understand if you don't want me around..." She turned to the door, face downcast. "I'm sorry. Do what you want, I won't bother you anymore." She began to leave the room.

Inuyasha rolled over in surprise and propped himself up on one elbow. "Hey..." His voice was suddenly small, uncertain. She paused, but did not look at him. He gulped silently, then tried again. "Hey. Don't leave... I..." He exhaled, and lay back down, too tired to even lean on his arm for long. "I wouldn't want anyone else." He flushed and pressed his face sideways into the pillow.

Kagome, eyes wide, turned back, unsure if she had heard him correctly. "A-anyone.. else?" she peeped, staring at him. "What do you..."

He shut his eyes. "But you, stupid. Anyone else but you." He opened his amber eyes and looked up at her. "Here. Doing all this for me." He shivered. "Hut'CHu!!" Growling, he rubbed his eyes.

Kagome grew suddenly warm. "Oh. O-Okay... That's... good then..." she said softly, making her way back to him. "I really am sorry," she added rather shyly, standing next to the bed. "for saying –" His eyes shot open and she bit her tongue. "saying THAT," she finished hurriedly. "I suppose I say it too much; anyway, I shouldn't keep doing it to you when you don't feel good. And I won't." She gave him a timid smile. "I promise I won't."

He said nothing, but seemed to relax a bit. Kagome sighed. "Oh, and.. I suppose, if you really don't like it in here... I can see if I can figure out somewhere else for you."

Inuyasha pondered this; at first he had been opposed to the idea, but now that he was on the bed, he felt more comfortable than he ever had in his life. It was unbelievably soft and warm, nothing like the floor or even blankets or hay, which he was accustomed to. His eyelids fluttered as he opened his mouth to respond; it was getting difficult for him to keep his eyes open. "I.. guess this is okay..." he mumbled, stretching his legs out slowly.

Kagome hid a smile. In some ways, he was just like a small child. "Good," she replied, pulling the covers up and tucking him in. His eyes fell shut, even as he struggled to keep them open. "You sleep," she said softly, petting his head. "I'll be back." He finally succumbed to his fatigue as she picked up the clothes and tiptoed out of the room.

Hope you like it!! I have more written, and it's still in progress, so I will update this the next chance I get yes.gif

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This was wonderful! The writing itself was extremely well done--it's an interesting plotline as well as being compelling fetish fic. I've only seen a few episodes of Inuyasha, but you really give us a feel for the characters, and the dynamic between them is fascinating. Great job, and I can't wait to read more!

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Awwwwww I love this! You write them so well, and Inuyasha is so adorably pitiful! Thanks for updating! :P

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Oh my gosh you guys I'm so glad you like it!!! blushing.gif Thank you VERY much for commenting (and reading it!!! ^^) And I'm so happy to hear that you like my writing style too... I want to be an author someday, so I love to write; but I've never been able to show my sneezefics to anybody before so this is awesome!! happy.png I appreciate your comments!! biggrin.png

All right, so now to thicken the plot while increasing the sneezing... *mwahahaha - I mean, poor Inuyasha... aaevil.gif in

PART 4

The archer formed a cruel, graceful line as she pulled her bowstring taut. The sacred arrow glinted in the light of the blazing fire as she aimed it.

No, Kikyo!

She released the string, and the arrow bit into his right shoulder.

Kikyo! It wasn't me!!

She nocked a new lethal missive and sighted down it, eyes cold. "It's still your fault." The bowstring twanged; the arrow pierced his neck, directly above his collarbone. The pain seared through his wounds, setting them on fire.

K-Kikyo... I swear, I didn't do it!!

The background faded, leaving the two of them alone in the darkness. He was burning, and the fire was reflected in her eyes. "Of course you did it. You're a half-demon, a worthless, foolish, cursed half-demon." Each word stung worse than her arrows, clawing and tearing their way through his soul. She drew a final arrow, aiming straight for his heart, and smiled. "Die, Inuyasha."

NOOOOOO!!!

Kagome heard Inuyasha's terrified scream and bolted up the stairs. Oh no, oh no oh no oh no... She pounded down the hallway as fast as she could. Oh no, let him be okay!! She burst into the room at last. He was sitting upright, both arms clutching his chest, and his eyes were wide with fear.

"What's wrong?? Are you okay??"

Inuyasha shrank back, pressing his body against the wall and throwing his hands up as if to ward off a blow. "Stop Kikyo. Just stop! I – I – I didn't do it!!!" Sweat was pouring down his face, drenching the shirt and the blankets.

"Hey, snap out of it!!" she cried, bounding over to him. "It's just a dream. I'm not Kikyo, and I'm not gonna hurt you!" She pulled the blankets off of his chest, placing one hand on his shoulder.

Shaking, he lowered his hands as he became more alert. "K..Kagome?" His voice was thick and hoarse.

"Yes. Kagome." she gently helped him lay back down as he winced and put both hands to his head in pain. "Shh. It's okay. It was just a nightmare." She made a face. "Horrible things. I remember I had those when I was really sick... When you have a fever, it always seems like it's actually happening, doesn't it."

He coughed, squeezing his eyes shut. "Nightmare." He rubbed at the wound in his throat, then wiped sweat from his brow. "Right..." He moaned, letting his hand fall.

She gave his hand a comforting squeeze, then reached up to touch his forehead. "Your fever's probably worse now, I'm guessing," she predicted, pressing her palm to his brow. "A..aah-OWW!!" Kagome jerked her hand back in pain as his skin touched hers. Sucking her breath sharply through her teeth, she examined her hand; a bright, angry red mark burned across her fair palm.

Inuyasha opened his eyes and gazed up at her. "What happened?" he asked.

"Umm..." she rubbed her hand. "Your forehead is really, REALLY hot." She shook her hand. "I'm guessing that's not good... here." She produced a thermometer from her pocket. "Now, stick this under your tongue and don't take it out until it beeps..."

He obeyed. When it chirped, she took it from him and nearly dropped it in shock. "Holy..." She rubbed her eyes and read the digits again. "110 degrees...!" She gulped. "Uh, Inuyasha, how high is a yokai's fever supposed to get, anyway?"

He grimaced. "Why would you ask me?" he demanded, scowling. "I don't know."

She breathed a small sigh of relief. He's coherent enough to have attitude, so I guess it's not an emergency.

"Well, your clothes are almost dry," she ventured after a moment. "They should be ready for you soon; do you need anything else?"

Inuyasha, though now awake, still seemed quite groggy. "I...uh..I need..." He fell silent.

Kagome sighed again and turned to leave the room. Seeing him sprawled on his back like that, half-aware and not himself, was making her feel a bit uneasy. She supposed it was due to his extremely high fever, but something about him just wasn't right. "I'll be downstairs," she told him without looking back. "Let me know if you need something, okay?" She slid open the door; he made no reply, not even his customary grunt. Creasing her brow, she turned around. "Inuyasha?"

He was lying very very still, staring hard at the ceiling. Too hard.

Kagome suddenly felt an odd sense of foreboding. "Inuyasha?" she tried again, making her way over to him. "Is something wrong?"

He still did not answer her. Instead, he began to breathe strangely, a deep, guttural sound. His hands, which were lying limp on the bed, suddenly seized up.

Kagome hesitated, staring at him. "Inuyasha..?"

His clawed fingers bit down into the mattress with a harsh ripping sound. Without warning, he bolted upright in the bed, white-silver hair flying. Clutching the shredded bedding in his hands, he turned to look at her.

Her blood ran cold.

"Inuyasha!!" she screamed. Dropping the thermometer she had been holding, she took another step forward, then stopped.

His eyes had changed to a chilling blood red, his irises glittering green. The purple stripes on his cheeks had become jagged and bright, and his fangs were long and sharp. Without any reason that she could see, he had transformed into his unnatural, deadly full yokai form.

"What's going on!?!" she cried, staring at him in cold dismay but remaining several feet from him. "Inuyasha!!? I don't get it!"

"Ka...go....me..." He choked out her name, voice low and bestial. He was panting, but his eyes, though a lethal red, did not hold the murderous light that usually gleamed there whenever his demon blood was accidentally released. Plunging his lengthened claws into the bed again, he locked his eyes on her. "Kagome..." It seemed a challenge for him to speak at all, and his entire body was convulsing. "Help.. Tetsusaiga.. give... me...."

Kagome's heart pounded as she snapped out of her shock. "Tetsusaiga! Right!! Where.." she put her hands to her head, distressed. He had taken it off when he undressed, but he had simply put it... There! The Tetsusaiga, encased in its black sheath, was lying beneath the bed.

"It's right there!" she said, finding her voice. "Inuyasha, the Tetsusaiga's right under you!"

He grimaced, shaking his head vigorously. "Kagome.. I can't... You..." He was gasping for breath. "YOU!"

She jumped, not comprehending.

"Kagome.. give... me the Tetsusaiga.." He was almost snarling at her.

"O-okay.." Kagome nodded, pale, and began to approach the bed.

Inuyasha gasped again, digging his hands into the bed. Whenever he transformed, it was inevitable that he would lose control of his body. This time seemed to be a bit different; his mind was still awake, but the blood was rushing through him like a boiling river, putting extreme stress on his body. In his condition, it was all he could do to remain conscious. "Kagome. I – I c-can't – EhyETSHH!" He sneezed, violently and openly, causing his raw throat to erupt with pain. The horrible sensation reinforced the heat of his blood, making his concentration slip. His vision blurred, and he growled. He was running out of time. "Hurry!!" the word came out in a strangled shout.

Energized by the urgency in his voice, Kagome dove for the sword. "Here!" she cried, shoving it toward him. He tore his hands out from the bed and painfully reached for the katana. "Just..a little... farther..." His fingers latched onto the sheath at last. "Got – aaAAH!!!"

As his hands touched the sword, a massive burst of energy pulsed from it and into his body. Kagome cried out and let go, stumbling backward. A glowing orb of power emanated from the sword, engulfing the hanyou until she couldn't see him.

Inuyasha went stiff as the surge permeated his entire being. What's going on? he thought helplessly as the wave of energy rippled all the way from the top of his head to the tips of his toes. He clenched his jaw as the tingling sensation seemed to spread through each and every one of his cells. He tried to let go of the Tetsusaiga, but his fingers would not obey him. It grew hotter and hotter in his hands until he felt like screaming, but then, just as abruptly as it had occurred, the bizarre phenomenon stopped and the room grew dim again.

Kagome rubbed her eyes and steadied herself, breathing hard. With Inuyasha around, life is never boring, that's for sure, she thought shakily. She blinked and attempted to return her attention to the boy, but black spots still danced in front of her vision and she was unable to focus her eyes.

Inuyasha peeled his hands off the Tetsusaiga at last, setting it in his lap. His mind had suddenly grown much clearer; more clear, in fact, than it had been for some time. He breathed a small sigh of relief as the strain of transformation subsided and his heartbeat began to return to normal. He shook his head slightly, and was rewarded with a sharp pain that centered somewhere in his brain and radiated to the inside of his ears. Squeezing his eyes shut as a buzzing sound filled his hearing, he involuntarily reached up to put his hands on his hurting ears – and froze.

His fingers twitched as they closed over his ears. His human ears.

His eyes flew open, and he straightened, dangling his legs over the edge of the bed. A sickening panic ballooned inside of him as he pulled his fingers down through his long hair; although his vision was still blurred and the room was dark, there was no mistaking its black coloration. The backs of his hands touched his lap, and he stared disbelievingly at his curled fingers. Where his neatly sheathed claws should have been grew the pale, soft nails he seldom possessed. The hair on the back of his neck standing on end, he swallowed hard.

"Kagome," he said slowly, "tell me this isn't happening." Horror rising in his throat, he looked up. "Tell me this is another nightmare!" His voice pitched higher with fear.

Kagome's heart skipped a beat as his deep gray eyes met hers. "Inuyasha.." she whispered.

He stood up, beginning to nearly hyperventilate. "No Kagome!" he said. "Tell me I'm delirious, hallucinating, anything!!" His hand darted to his mouth; he ran his fingers over his teeth, but his fangs had vanished, replaced by ordinary canines. "No!" His voice was trembling. He dropped the Tetsusaiga on the bed, agitation increasing. "I'm not mortal. I'm not!!"

Kagome bit her lip. "Inuyasha," she started, but he bounded over to the window and threw back the heavy curtains. The late afternoon sunshine filled the tiny room, creating a fuzzy halo of light around the edges of his ebony hair. He let go of the curtains and stumbled back, cold fear gripping his insides like a vice. "It's daytime," he whispered. He looked back toward the bed. "The Tetsusaiga – mmn" Features crumpling, he clamped his right arm over his torso.

Kagome recovered her power of movement. "I.. I'm sure it's temporary," she said, padding toward him. "Maybe it's some sort of symptom?"

"Shut up!!" he choked, dropping to a crouch. "T-this isn't happening. I want to wake up."

A chill went down Kagome's spine. He was in some sort of denial, she realized, and rightly so – he only turned human on the night of the new moon. She knew he despised being mortal, mostly because it caused him to fear for his life, and she was sure now wouldn't be any different.

Why did this have to happen NOW? she wondered unhappily. He's already miserable... now he'll be impossible to deal with. Trying to squelch her exasperation, she glanced at him again – and nearly fell over.

"I can't." Inuyasha was saying. "I can't be... human... I can't..." He was half-kneeling, half-crouching, doubled over with one arm clutching his stomach and the other wrapped around his knee. His face was contorted... not with pain, but emotion.

Kagome suddenly felt a bit weak-kneed. Oh my gosh, she thought. He's not going to cry, is he?! Paling, she wondered what to do. I guess high fever and mortality are not a good combination for him...

Burying his face in his arm, his voice was muffled. "I.. can't do this. I..." He trailed off.

Compassion welled up in Kagome's heart. I don't care if he does get mad at me. I'm not gonna leave him alone when he's like this!! In two more steps, she closed the gap between them and knelt down beside him. "Inuyasha." She hesitated briefly, then placed a hand on his shoulder. "Listen to me. It's gonna be okay."

He raised his head. "How..How can you say that!?" he sputtered, glaring at her through the unmistakable tears in his eyes. "J-just look at me!! I –" his voice faltered and he quickly turned his head to avoid her gaze.

"Hey, hey..." Kagome found her own voice becoming softer and more tremulous. She tightened her grip on his shoulder and gently turned his face back to hers. His misery was painfully obvious as he tried to glare at her but could not.

"Kagome.." He scrunched his face up and tried to turn his head again. "Don't..."

Kagome shook her head and grasped his shoulders firmly. "Look, dummy," she said, adopting the tone he used rather frequently with her. "You're going to be all right." She stared him down, hoping that he could see the empathy in her eyes. "Kaede said that your only hope of recovery is because you're half-human, right?"

He nodded slowly, calming down a bit.

"Well, then.." she continued, still holding him by the shoulders, "My guess is.. the disease made you transform because your yokai blood is what's infected; so when you grabbed the Tetsusaiga, it sensed you were in danger and temporarily sealed up your yokai half in order to prevent you from going berserk!"

He relaxed ever so slightly. "T-that makes sense..." he mumbled.

She smiled to herself at her success. "Yes, it does." She tilted her head. "Who knows? Maybe it's also preventing your fever from getting too high." She reached out to feel his forehead, bracing herself. "Aha!" she said. "I was right, you're a bit cooler now." She rubbed her hand on her skirt. "..Still hot, though. Yikes." Smiling at him, she let go of his shoulders.

He sniffled and drew his the back of one hand across his eyes. Shifting tiredly to a sitting position, he glanced at her. "How can you always act so sure of everything, Kagome?" he asked gruffly. "Your confidence is ridiculous, if you ask me." He crossed his arms, evidently trying to pretend that his lapse of composure had never occurred.

Kagome bit back a smirk. This was the Inuyasha she knew. "I travel back in time on a periodical basis to fight demons and keep a stubborn dog-demon boy in line..." she began pointedly.

His eyes grew wide. "Hey!!" he protested, but she giggled and cut him off. "...therefore, my confidence has to be exceptional."

He drew in a long, steadying breath and swiped at his eyes again. "Whatever." He propped his chin on his fist and eyed the claw-less fingers of his other hand with distaste. "This is stupid; first the Tetsusaiga seal doesn't even work properly, and now I get away from it and I'm still human! Feh." He scowled at the floor.

Kagome glanced back at the bed. "Well, apparently, now it's all up to your human immune system to beat this thing. In my opinion, your human form is plenty tough, you'll be fine."

He raised an eyebrow. "'Immune system'...?"

Kagome sighed and stood, gazing toward the window absentmindedly. "That's your body's special mechanism that lets you fight off the virus... um, the disease. I guess your –"

"Hat'CSHUHH!!" Inuyasha sneezed so hard that his chin slipped off his hand. "Hu'TCHU!" He sniffed loudly. "Oh great.." He pressed his fist up against his nose, but it was no use. "Heh..heHh-eh – hetj'UHH!" As his lungs seized up spasmodically, he buried his face in his hands. "Unnh... hut'CSHH!!" His nose began to run from the combined effect of restrained tears and sneezing. Keeping both hands cupped over his mouth and nose, he desperately tried to control himself. "Hhh-uh... nnhh-hehh.." He cursed as the tickle refused to subside. "hUH'JCHUH! h'EtSSHH!!" He groaned in disgust, hunching down into a miserable ball.

Kagome ran her hands through her hair. "Bless you," she offered lamely, but even as she said it he sneezed twice more, curling up further and looking both aggravated and despondent. She straightened, thinking of something. "Oh! Be right back." She flew out of the room, then returned almost immediately. Kneeling down to his level, she pushed his hair back.

"N – I'b okay. Do't – Kagobe..." He pushed against her with an elbow, trying to angle away from her.

"Inuyasha!" she reprimanded him, crossing her arms. "I'm trying to HELP you, remember?"

Hands still crammed against his face, he gave up and faced her. "Whadd'ya wadt dow??" His sinuses had filled up so much that he was rather difficult to understand, but there was no mistaking his whining tone.

She placed a hand to her own forehead in exasperation. "Honestly, Inuyasha." She opened her hand to reveal what she had retrieved – a nicely-sized, sturdy handkerchief. "It's a good thing you hardly ever get sick. You're impossible!" Rolling her eyes, she draped it over his face. "Here."

Inuyasha pulled it off gingerly, one hand still clasped to his face. "Uh.." Looking uncharacteristically uncertain, he eyed the clean piece of cloth. "You..you sure? I.." He knit his brow, embarrassed.

Kagome scooted closer to him. "It's one of my grandpa's. Go on, he won't mind, I promise." She smiled encouragingly.

Inuyasha sighed. "If you say so," he managed, taking it in both hands and concealing his face in its comforting depths. Another shaky inhalation overwhelming him, he tensed. "Hhhh.. Het'CHHMF!" He sneezed harshly into the handkerchief, tilting his head painfully as it throbbed in response. He exhaled wearily, then he blew his nose, a pitifully congested sound. Kagome reached out hesitantly and stroked his dark hair – a gesture that felt far more awkward to her now that he lacked his Akita ears. He did not seem to mind, however, so she kept her hand there. "Mnnh.." Moaning, he snuffled, blew his nose again, then crumpled up the cloth and sighed. His tired gray eyes met Kagome's bright chocolate ones. "Thags."

Taken aback by his voluntary, if curt, display of gratitude, Kagome bounced up hurriedly. "Well, you're sick," she stammered, turning pink and averting her eyes. "I'd be cruel not to give you a handkerchief, now wouldn't I??"

He gave her a strange look. "Yeah, I guess." He leaned his head on his hand.

"All right, let's get you back in bed," she said briskly, offering him a hand to help him up. "You won't get any better sitting on the floor all day."

He grabbed her arm and pulled himself up, then staggered back to the bed with her assistance. Flopping down on the rumpled mattress, he closed his eyes, exhausted.

Kagome quietly padded over to the window. Lost in thought, she adjusted the curtains, then stepped back in surprise.

Fat, white snowflakes had begun to drift down from the sky.

Aaaand that's currently all I have written, and since I'm starting school tomorrow we'll see how often I get to work on it... but I'm really liking where this is going so I'm gonna keep writing it! ^^ Thus, I shall update when I have

1. more done and

2. access to unblocked internet! sleepsmiley02.gif

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  • 1 month later...

AWESOME, AMAZING, FANTASIC.

SO MANY WORDS THAT CANNOT FIT IN ONE REPLY. ;)

Gosh, you write the characters so well! Especially Inuyasha, that stuck up little bi--

Anyyyyway lol...

Question!

What were the two episodes that Inuyasha sneezed in? Curse my memory for being so crappy! :lol:

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Once again, *arigato everyone!!!* ^^ I'm soooooooo glad you all like it so much!!! biggrin.png

(@NSwisher1572: Thanks!! LOL wow I was actually wondering if anyone would ask me that, bc it just so happens that I'm more than happy to give the answer!! XD The first sneeze of his is in episode 38, in season 2. Shippo's talking about him and then it cuts to Inuyasha; rather nice buildup on that one, though the actual sneeze is kinda funny. X) The second one's in episode 78, season 3; this one's my personal favorite, they're all walking in the rain and he sneezes bc he's the only one without an umbrella or hat... then proceeds to complain about the weather [in the dub version]. But this particular sneeze is HOT XDD And somewhat unspellable lol, I <3 Richard Ian Cox's Inuyasha.... Anyway, both the dubbed [Richard's] and subbed [Kappei Yamaguchi's] eps are on youtube, easy to find & watch, u just have to search by ep number ^^ Hope that helps!!)

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And now, down to business smile.png

I’m baaaaackkk!!! ^^ Eight weeks and midterm later, I’ve written more Inu-torture at last. XD It’s not a whole lot, but I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! smile.png

Just so you know, these two new parts are heavy on the angst.... idk whether it’s TOO heavy or not, it’s just kinda where it went as I wrote it sleep.png Let me know what you think! Oh, and I promise that the plot’s gonna be picking up again shortly. ^^

A/N: In case anyone wondered, now that Inuyasha is properly sick ( aaevil.gif ), I’ve been writing his dialogue with my version of “stuffy voice” – i.e. the “m’s” are replaced by “b’s” and the “n’s” by “d’s”. However, I’m trying to write it like a normal person with a cold would speak (and how I’ve heard Richard Ian Cox do similar lines) so not EVERY "m" and "n" are replaced. I know I’m posting on a sneeze fetish forum hehe but I thought i’d make sure no one was confused. ^^

But now. Without further ado! I give you:

PART 5

Kagome sat somewhat uncomfortably on a large box, listening to the wind howling about the eaves. Despite the fact that her surroundings... and circumstances... were completely different, she felt a sneaking sense of deja-vu. It’s almost like the blizzard followed us here, she thought to herself. The room was growing steadily darker, and Inuyasha hadn’t shifted position since she’d helped him lay back down. As a matter of fact, if it weren’t for his raspy, ragged breathing, she might have been driven insane by the silence that otherwise plagued the room.

Suddenly she realized that she felt very lost. Here she was, in her own house no less... but it actually felt more foreign to her than if she had been back in the Feudal Era with the others.

Unease blossoming fresh in her stomach, she cautiously rose. Maybe I should go downstairs... check the weather on TV, get a snack... Yeah. Maybe that’ll help me feel better. Decision made, she inched toward the door. Taking care to move as silently as she could, she kept her eyes trained on the boy whose indisposition unnerved her more that she would’ve liked to believe. To her relief, he did not stir, and she relaxed a bit as she reached the other side of the room. Exhaling inaudibly, she grasped the edge of the door.

“Where’re you goi’g?”

Kagome nearly had a heart attack. Whirling to face the hanyou, she stammered, “D-did I wake you up? I – I tried to be –”

“Doh,” he interrupted her, shaking his head. Blinking at the sound of his own voice, he sniffed deeply and tried again. “No.” Pushing himself up, he gazed at her. “I wasn’t sleepi’g.” Brow furrowing in annoyance, he scrunched up his nose and gave another determined, liquid sniffle, shoving his face into the material of the sleeve on the side of his uninjured shoulder.

Kagome cringed in revulsion. “Inuyasha,” she began reprovingly.

He blinked up at her, cocking an eyebrow. “What?”

Sighing, she shook her head. “Never mind.” Turning, she tugged the door open.

“Hey!” Inuyasha struggled to a sitting position, forcing Kagome to return her attention to him. “What are you doi’g?”

“After all that excitement, I totally forgot to go get your clothes,” she replied primly, beginning to exit. “I’ll be back, okay?”

“Hold od a binute!” he demanded. “I’b cubi’g with yo-oou” Inuyasha scrambled over the side of the bed and stood, swaying dangerously as he finished his sentence. Despite all that had occurred, his state of imbalance still seemed to take him by surprise.

Here we go... Mr. Invincible, thought Kagome, rolling her eyes. Facing him, she crossed her arms. “You’re kidding, right?”

Inuyasha recovered his balance and mirrored her position. “What? It’s dot like I idjured by legs or subthig.” He adopted his favorite half-haughty, half-stubborn expression.

Kagome had just about had it with the tough-guy act that faithfully returned the minute he felt even a bit better. “Listen, mister,” she began, stepping toward him. “You’re sick. If you weren’t half-human, you’d be DEAD. You have a high fever, for crying out loud, so there is no way you’re leaving that bed!!”

He glared at her. There she went with that logic again; only now there was no one here to back her up, so he had a fighting chance at arguing. “Well,” he parried, rubbing his nose, “frub what I’ve seen, humans get this sort of stupid fever all the tibe! But it dever stops theb from doi’g what THEY need to do.” He walked toward her, gazing down and daring her to continue.

Kagome was hardly about to concede. “I’m going downstairs for a little bit!!” she stated hotly, staring right back up at him. “You don’t HAVE to come with me!!!”

In the momentary silence that followed, a gust of wind blew so hard that it rattled the windows. The all-too-familiar sound of heavy snow blowing against the house was easy to distinguish in the sudden silence. Inuyasha’s eyes darted in the direction of the sound, a nearly imperceptible, dog-like shudder rippling through him.

This slight movement did not go unnoticed by Kagome, however, who was struck by a rather odd thought.. which was that if he had had fur, it would have been standing on end. With a start, she realized why he wanted to come with her. It wasn’t because he was stubborn; it wasn’t because he liked to follow her around.

It’s because he’s afraid.

Inuyasha recovered quickly and glowered at the girl. “Kagome...” he growled. “I’b –”

Kagome interrupted him. “Well, if you’re going to come than you’d better be able to walk by yourself, that’s all I have to say. My arms hurt from lugging you around.” She turned smartly to the hall and began walking down it.

Inuyasha did a double-take. “Wait, wha–?” Uncrossing his arms, he grasped the doorframe for support and launched himself after her. “Hey, Kagobe!”

------------------

Kagome forced herself to take the stairs slowly, allowing Inuyasha to catch up to her. No use in him falling and breaking his stupid neck, she thought sourly. Now that things had seemed to calm down, she no longer feared for his life… and her irritation was rapidly returning. Ugh! For a half-demon, he sure is a baby! she thought. As they reached the downstairs landing, he stayed so close to her that she could feel his hot breath on the back of her neck. Why do I bother taking pity on him, anyway? she grumbled to herself. He’s the one who went out in that blizzard, it’s his own fault that he’s sick. So what that now he’s scared of snow. Serves him right! Exasperated, she ran her hands over her face. Now that he’s like this, I’m not going to get even a MINUTE’S time to myself, am I?! I can’t even leave the room, much less study!!

She clenched her teeth. How come everyone just assumes that I can do this?! Kaede’s voice filled her mind. “Ye must take Inuyasha back with ye to your own world... nurse him back to health.” Kagome scowled. Easy for you to say! What the heck am I supposed to do with him? And anyway, he doesn’t even LIKE it here. He’d just as soon be back in the primitive -she jerked the living room door open- freezing -she stomped inside -wilderness of the Feudal Era!

Groaning inwardly, she tucked her hair behind her ear. I... this is so... complicated. I don’t know if I can do this! And what if... what if I mess up and he... She squeezed her eyes shut; she refused to think about that. Geez, she thought, mentally changing the subject, turn him human and suddenly he’s a basket case, but does that help him understand what THIS human has to go through? Of course not. Why can’t he see how awkward this is and leave me alone for a change?!

Headed towards the kitchen with the cause of her current emotional upheaval trailing behind her, she indulged herself in a silent scream of frustration.

"Heh..hehh-eh..het-cJUHH! Mmfh...”

Kagome, gritting her teeth and preparing to be doused with the ever-inconsiderate hanyou’s spray, was mildly surprised when she felt nothing. Curious, she turned around.

He had thrown both hands over his face in the nick of time, and was letting out an exasperated sigh when she caught his eye. Choking, he reddened and took a step backward. “K-Kagobe... I’b sorry, okay? I dided’t bead to –”

Kagome’s mounting anger dissipated somewhat as she realized that, once again, he had somehow managed to pick up on her not-yet-expressed frustration. She had always wondered at how, despite the maddening density he seemed to possess when it came to women, he never failed to detect when she was truly upset.

Thoughts quieting down, she lifted her eyes to his face. He had taken his hands away and was staring at her with his customary look of mortal dread, but his countenance had an alarmingly different appearance than usual. His cheeks were flushed with fever, his pure black hair clinging to his sweaty forehead and neck. His dark eyes were tired and red-rimmed, with bruise-like shadows beneath them, and his mercilessly abused nose was pink and chapped.

Oh man... What am I thinking?! she chastised herself with horror. I’m being far more selfish than he is! Yeah, I AM human... but I’ve had to deal with this kind of stuff all my life. Inuyasha’s almost never fully mortal, so... now, suddenly having sickness... and stress and emotion... all thrust on him at once, he... he must feel like he’s going insane! Kagome grew uncomfortably warm and looked down at her feet. How can I possibly be annoyed with him now? she thought shamefully. The poor guy...

Meanwhile, Inuyasha, who of course had no clue what she could possibly be thinking about, grew increasingly more nervous as she simply stood there staring at him. Finally, he couldn’t take it anymore. “Kagome!!” he burst out, letting his hands fall and balling them into fists. “Would you cut it out?! Stop just... just LOOKI’G at be like that! Go ahead, tell me to sit, bake up your bind! Geez!!!”

A flood of emotions poured over Kagome, leaving her lightheaded. First, she was angry at his assumption that she was angry with him... immediately following that, she was embarrassed that find he was correct. Next, strongest of all, a profound sense of compassion for him swelled within her heart – a feeling that threatened to overtake all the other feelings and give renewed life to those others that she preferred to avoid. Swallowing, she stepped toward him. “Inuyasha,” she began hotly, trying to mask the torrent of emotion that was surging within her. “Come on! I am not going to tell you to –”

Inuyasha yelped and threw his hands up in a gesture that begged her to stop talking. Staggering backward, he stumbled over his own feet and felt his heel settle on something thin and fuzzy. Suddenly, their brewing altercation was halted by an indignant MMRROOWWWWLLLW!!

“WhaaAUGH!!” Inuyasha yelled in surprise, drowning out Kagome’s higher-pitched scream, lost his balance, and fell firmly to the floor with a loud and painful THUMP.

As Kagome’s heart pounded in her ears, an enraged ball of fur shot up from the ground and straight into her arms. “B..Buyo..?!” she managed, staring down at the bristling bundle. The tortoiseshell cat rubbed his head against his master’s chest with an affectionate purr, then stretched his neck down to direct a hiss at the indisposed hanyou who had trod on his tail.

Inuyasha growled up at him in return, shifting painfully. “Would you shut up, ya stupid cat?!” he snapped, pushing his hair out of his eyes. “I was tryi’g to AVOID a sit command, but thags to you I practically got one adyway!!” Teeth clenched, he glowered in his general direction.

Kagome, tension bleeding out of her at last, gently set Buyo down, stroking his back as she did so. “I missed you too, Buyo,” she murmured dryly. All of a sudden, she began to giggle at the absurdity of the situation and bent to offer a hand to Inuyasha.

Inuyasha blinked up at her. “A’d just what exactly are you laughi’g for?!” he demanded, eying her hand.

Shaking her head in amusement at his surliness, she dropped down to a crouch. “You stepped on his tail,” she replied, still giggling. “Come on, that’s just classic.”

Inuyasha, sitting there with Kagome directly in front of him, suddenly seemed awkward. “Well... I didn’t find it funny,” he mumbled petulantly.

Kagome, catching on to why he was grumbling, rewarded him with an evil grin. “Now, now, no need to be embarrassed,” she hedged. Hopping forward, she grabbed his arm with both hands and hauled him to his feet before he knew what was happening. “After all, no one saw you being clumsy but me.”

He glared at her, partially confused and partially insulted. “What is WITH you, Kagobe??” he demanded, pushing one hand into his thick hair. “You’re acti’g really weird all of the sudden.”

Her grin faded a bit, and she shifted her gaze to the ground. “Maybe... I’m just trying to lighten the mood a bit,” she murmured. She looked up at him, a hint of accusation flashing in her brown eyes. “You really scared me, you know!!”

He paled noticeably. “I.. what? W-when? You –”

Kagome exhaled loudly. “This WHOLE TIME!!” she yelled, crossing her arms. “How do you think I felt when you didn’t come back that day, huh?? And then how ever since then you’ve been fainting and transforming and sneezing your head off and here I’ve never seen you sick before in my life!! THAT’S what’s scaring me!!!”

He gulped, ignoring the pain. “I’m fi –” he began, but she darted such a ferocious glare at him that he swallowed the words, unfinished. They stood there a moment, the tension and uneasiness between them practically tangible.

What’s wrong with her? Inuyasha thought, miffed. Doesn’t she know I can take care of myself? I always have. He tentatively glanced at her face – and stopped. She was staring vaguely past him, one hand listlessly grasping her other arm. Her expression was unlike any he could recall seeing on her; although her trademark indignation was there, it seemed put on. A raw concern was emanating from her, a distress so deep and heartfelt that it made him forget to breathe. She’s... serious, he realized with a growing dismay that he couldn’t explain. She is scared. Really scared. Kagome.... He blinked, unsure what to say. Gaze locked on her, he saw tears sparkling in the corners of her eyes. Heart pounding, he stepped forward, raised a hand toward her, then let it drop.

“Kagome –” he began, but her expression abruptly hardened.

“Forget it,” she said, shaking her head. “It doesn’t matter, because you’re fine, right?” She turned and slipped through the door to the kitchen.

“Hey!” he protested, trying to follow her, but she blocked his way.

“Stay here,” she commanded coldly.

“Kagome, stop bei’g so stupid!” he retorted angrily, reaching to push her out of the way.

Inuyasha.”

The edge in her voice cut into him more than he wanted to admit, and he stopped in his tracks.

“I’m going to use the restroom,” she continued icily. “If you try to follow me, I will SIT

AAAGH!” He crashed unceremoniously to the floor, startling Buyo.

“– you until you DIE!!” With that, Kagome flounced out of the room, leaving a bewildered and groaning hanyou facedown on her living room floor.

----

Way to ruin the moment, Kagome.... <.< (Lol don't worry, they'll make up shortly X) )

That's all for now, but I hope to write more very soon!! ^^ Also, I actually have the ending worked out already, so this fic WILL be properly finished!... Someday. sleep.png

Haha so as always, I'll post more when 1. I write more and 2. I find unblocked wifi!!! happy.png

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Aww, Inu is afraid! And sick! And Kagome is angry. Not a good mixture! I'm reallly curious about what will happen next! Like the way you spell Inu's sneezes by the way!

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Another wonderful chapter, and thanks for giving me the episodes!! biggrinsmiley.gif

LOL, don't worry too much about the angst, you did it perfectly. Poor Inu, though, he'll never wanna step foot in snow again. YIKES. glare.gif

Moody Kagome + stubborn Inuyasha is NEVER a good mix. Let's hope that "making up" happens soon, because otherwise... DUCK AND COVER, MAN, DUCK AND COVER! :scared:

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  • 1 month later...

Thank you Foxfire! I have great fun spelling his sneezes... hehehe XDD

You're welcome NSwisher1572! biggrin.png And I'm glad you don't mind the angst... bc there's more to come... <.< (this fic is rather more serious than I thought it would be sleep.png ) LOL ik... and now I have to laugh every time i watch the episode where it actually DID snow, because he barely even notices it... haha XD

DUCK AND COVER - I couldn't have said it better myself! happy.png

Thanks you guys!

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Hey everyone, I’m FINALLY back!!!! smile.png Dude... you would not BELIEVE how tricky it is for me to get access to unblocked internet... the only places I ever go with internet are the library and school, and both block SFF. Go figure. tonguesmiley.gifsleep.png ANYway, though, I’m back now, with more Inuyasha tortu – I mean, sneezefic! XDD (or wait... those can be synonymous, can’t they... LOL) I’ve been working on this consistently, so I have a fair amount to give you smile.png I hope you don’t mind me putting up rather large chunks at a time, simply because I never know when my next chance to post is gonna be :S Hopefully that’ll change sometime in the near future, though, because I really miss being on here and I have a bunch of stuff to share if I ever get the opportunity!!

Ahem, I digress; back to The Death Wish of the Hanyou! ^^ I looked over the last portion I posted, and I realized something horrendous – I only put one sneeze in the whole thing!! D: sooo I made sure to remedy this glaring travesty in these next parts; I’ve put in some sneezy scenes that I hope you all will like. ^^ Still, though, I will admit that this piece is turning out to be extremely angst-heavy for a hurt/comfort type deal... to the point where I feel kinda bad for running Inuyasha through the mill like this <.< However, it is what it is, and I hope you like it! I rather like how these next couple of scenes turned out, both plot-wise and sneeze-wise XD But lemme know what YOU think of it! I’m having a blast writing this, but I wanna know if you all like where it’s going/what I’ve done with it. ^^

Finally, I apologize in advance if the paragraph formatting is a bit messed up; i don't know why, but it sometimes does weird things when I copy/paste it... XP

‘Kay, now that my little author-ramble’s done, I give you -

PART 6

Inuyasha shivered as his bare feet moved from the strange, fuzzy floor-covering of the living room to the slippery-smooth cold kitchen floor. Many times, he had been prone to examining these odd types of indoor ground on all fours, for they were composed of substances that defied explanation and held scents he could never place. Now, however, the mysterious materials of Kagome’s world were about the furthest things from his mind; indeed, he would not have even noticed them today if it wasn’t for the abrupt temperature change between them that sent chills through his worn-out body.

As he ventured into the kitchen, he absentmindedly ran his fingers along the edge of the doorframe, then over the nearest wall. His hands felt strangely vulnerable without his powerful claws, almost... fragile. It was intriguing how different things felt, how much more sensitive his sense of touch seemed to be... but at the same time, it made him nervous.

"Hehh..." He ground his teeth as the burning irritation flickered into his sinuses yet again. “Mmmn, why the h –” he started to growl, but the shuddering breaths were quickly conquering his power of speech. “– he-ehh” He froze, knitting his eyebrows together and wrinkling his nose as the maddening tickle spread. It had been his hope that being human would reduce the foreignness of this uncontrollable reflex; in his hanyou form, he relied so heavily upon his seasoned sense of smell that perpetual sneezing was just about the most aggravating experience he’d ever had. But to his dismay, he found that though his sense of smell was indeed considerably dulled in human form, the awkwardness of this action wasn’t reduced at all; in all truth, he simply felt worse.

Now that he was alone, he had no energy left to even consider suppressing it; he could do nothing but simply allow the feeling to build, fluttering inside his respiratory tract like a million tiny feathers. "Heh.. hehhh... hEHhh..." Each involuntary inhalation was deeper than the first, but he was so incredibly exhausted that his body was apparently having difficulty letting the cursed sneeze escape. "Hh-EHHH...." For one agonizing moment, his final desperate breath of air caught in his lungs and he stood there, utterly helpless, nostrils quivering rapidly. And then, at last, it happened. "KktcJHUHHH!!!" It exploded out of him with a ferocity that was almost frightening. However, as soon as it burst out, he knew another one was coming. Rather than bothering to cover his mouth, he wrapped his arms around his chest in preparation for the seething pain that was sure to erupt there with the next contraction of his lungs. He barely had enough time to take a single breath and swallow convulsively before the next sneeze began to build. "Nnhh... hh.. nhEH-heh.. huhh... huttjCHHHUH!!!" This one was so violent that he pitched forward, clutching his chest with both arms and moaning through his teeth as the wave of pain enveloped his insides. After several lengthy seconds, the pain subsided; and to his relief, so did the tickle.

Cursing, he wiped his now-runny nose with the back of one hand... then hurriedly wiped that hand on his pants, deciding that displaying such sloppiness in front of Kagome would likely earn him another “sit.” He lifted his eyes to the small window in one wall; due to the twilight and frost, it was somewhat difficult to see out of, but he could still make out the swirling snowflakes pouring from the present-world sky. Sniffling multiple times, he sighed. Wish I’d brought that dumb handkerchief down. The room was quite dim, the faint light from the outside casting dark shadows about the various furnishings that were still completely foreign to him. The snow further added to the gloom, blanketing the house in a cold silence.

He padded over to the window wall, blinking at the small drips of water that plinked from the strange pipe-like device Kagome called a “faucet.” The atmosphere of the room matched his mood perfectly; ordinarily, he would be angry at Kagome right now, but he simply did not have the strength... or even the desire... to be. He would hardly have consciously admitted it, but at the moment he wanted nothing more than to go back upstairs, lie down, and rest... with Kagome stroking his hair like she liked to do sometimes when he was hurt.

As it was, however, Kagome appeared to have reached the end of her patience; and as much as he would've liked to apologize, that had never come naturally to him in the least. He strained to pick up any sounds of movement that could indicate her return, but his human ears were next to useless. He realized, darkly, that with his dulled senses and fever, he couldn’t even begin to guess how long it would be before she came back, so all he could do was... wait.

Snuffling again, he buried his nose in the wonderfully soft material of the shirt Kagome had given him. He knew that this displeased her for some reason, but... she wasn’t there to yell at him. He scowled a bit as this thought set him thinking of the disastrous interaction that had just occurred. She never listens to what I have to say, he thought irritably. Why’s she gotta be so stubborn, anyway? Grunting in displeasure, he propped his elbows on the counter and stared out the window. Why... why did she even agree to bring me... His eyelids grew heavier as the whirling snowflakes filled his vision. ...what... am I doing here?

He blinked, contemplating the events of the last couple days. This really is my own stupid fault, isn’t it. The thought REALLY didn’t sit well with him, but he couldn’t deny it. If I hadn’t gone to get that jewel shard, I wouldn’t – Kagome’s distraught expression filled his mind. – WE wouldn’t be in this mess. He sighed again. If only I were a full yokai... then I would never have let that dragon beat me. He shuddered as he recalled the cold bite of the spears. If I never see a blizzard again, it’ll be too soon.

His drowsy reverie was cut short however, as an ominous sound came to his ears. Someone... or something... was working at the front door, trying to get it open. He stiffened, instincts kicking in despite his fatigue. I’m sure there are still robbers in Kagome’s world, he thought tensely, staring toward the front room. I don’t care how sick I am. Nobody’s gonna hurt Kagome, not if I have anything to say about it! Adrenaline temporarily improving his agility, he crouched, then leapt up onto the counter, perching silently and easily above the sink with every nerve alert.

***

“Aww, man, since when did it get so cold?!” Nine-year-old Sota Higurashi stamped his feet and rubbed his mittened hands together as his mother fumbled with the door.

“Now, now, Sota, it’s warm inside,” she soothed, sliding the frozen door open inch by inch. “In the meantime, look at the snow! Isn’t it beautiful?” Mrs. Higurashi tilted her head toward the sky, smiling at the dancing flakes.

The young boy glanced skeptically upward. “Yeah, I guess..” he said noncommittally. “Hey Gramps!” He turned to look at his grandfather, who was eying the storm.

“This storm is a bad omen,” declared the elderly shrinekeeper. “I don’t like this at all.”

“Gramps!!”

He looked down at the impatient youngster. “Yes, Sota, what is it?”

Sota shoved his hands in his coat pockets. “Say, do you think you can make us some of your special hot tea when we get inside?” he queried hopefully.

The old man smiled at his grandson. “Certainly,” he agreed, nodding. “There’s nothing better for a snowy day than herbal tea and meditation!”

Sota sighed. “Well, you’re right about the tea, anyway.” He shivered, still staring up at the sky. “Mom, do you think it’s snowing where Kagome is?” he wondered softly.

His mother freed the door at last and slid it all the way open. “I don’t know, Sota...” she replied gently. “I just hope that wherever she is, she’s safe and warm.”

“Yeah, well... she should be all right,” amended Sota as the three of them removed their outdoor attire in the entryway. “Inuyasha’s with her.”

Mrs. Higurashi smiled warmly at her son. “Of course,” she said. “Now, why don’t you two go upstairs and change into some warm clothes, and I’ll get the water boiling. Okay?”

Sota grinned. “Sure thing!”

***

Mrs. Higurashi made her way into the kitchen, feeling for the light switch. “My, this is quite a blizzard,” she commented to herself. “I hope it doesn’t last for too long.” Her fingers touched the switch, and she smiled. “Oh well,” she finished, flipping the lights on, “at least we have a nice warm house.” At that moment, she glanced up...

...and screamed at the top of her lungs, for a strange boy was perched up on top of the counter, apparently ready to pounce.

Inuyasha screamed nearly as loudly as she did, being equally startled; but before his heart had a chance to start beating again, an oddly recognizable furious expression flooded the countenance of the woman he recognized as Kagome’s mother.

“WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?!?” she yelled, grabbing a frying pan off of the cold stove and brandishing it in his direction. “Get OUT OF MY HOUSE, YOU PUNK!!” Still in the irate woman’s grasp, the pan whizzed through the air and collided neatly with the side of Inuyasha’s head.

Blinding bursts of fire overwhelmed Inuyasha’s vision; being hit in the head was a decidedly different experience when he was in human form. The force of the blow propelled him off the counter, and he splatted to the rock-hard floor in a position that was painfully familiar.

“Mom, Mom, what is it?!?!” Sota rushed into the room.

“Get back!” she replied, clutching the pan tighter.

Sota peeked around his mother. “What is – WAAGH!” He yelped in surprise when he saw the stranger on the floor.

“Go get the phone, Sota, we need to call the police –” his mother began, but Sota did a double-take.

“Um, hold on a minute, Mom, this guy....” He put out a small hand to stay his mom’s makeshift weapon as he studied the prone figure. “He looks sorta familiar – are you sure we don’t –” Suddenly, his eyes grew wide as saucers. “MOM!” he exclaimed. “It’s... it’s I-Inuyasha!!!”

She stared at her son. “What??”

Sota scrambled over to the boy, furrowing his brow. “He looks really different, but...” He crouched down hesitantly, trying to get a closer look at his face. The boy’s eyes were open, but glazed. Sota stared into them, but he couldn’t tell if the person could see him or not. “I... I think it’s him, Mom,” he affirmed slowly. “I think you just bashed Inuyasha in the head...”

She paled. “I don’t understand, Sota,” she began. “Inuyasha is –”

“Hmm..” The boy mumbled something, and mother and son jumped. He shifted, trying to prop himself up, but his movements were stiff and sluggish. “You can’t... kill me with... a cooki’g pot..” he informed them, blinking slowly.

Sota winced. “Uhh, Inuyasha? Is... is that you?”

Inuyasha blinked again, gazing at the boy. “Inu... yeh, tha –” He groaned, one hand moving to his battered head. “Did you just... hear subone... say th’ word sit...?” Cringing, he held his skull, hopelessly dazed.

Sota gulped. “Th-that’s him, all right.”

“I-It’s... Inuyasha?” Mrs. Higurashi numbly set down the offending object, taking a step toward the two boys. “But... What in the world happened to him?”

The woman knelt down next to the unfortunate teen, and Sota crouched down to join her. Inuyasha, however, showed no sign that he even knew them, and simply stared back blankly.

Mrs. Higurashi reached out to touch the top of the indisposed boy’s head. “His ears are gone!!”

Inuyasha flinched, bringing one hand up to bat hers away.

“Hey, s-so are his claws!” Sota’s voice held a tone of hushed awe. Grabbing the older boy’s hand and scrutinizing it for a second, he continued, “Whoa... does this mean you can’t do Iron Reaver Soul Stealer?!”

Inuyasha’s coal-gray eyes fixed to Sota’s face, but he remained virtually expressionless. “Iron... iron reav....” He parroted Sota’s words, but did not seem to be aware of their meaning.

Sota’s mother frowned. “Are.. are you sure this is really him, Sota? He doesn’t seem to recognize us.”

Sota rested his chin on his fist. “It’s gotta be,” he mused, giving the teen a once-over. “His hair’s different, but his face sure looks the same. Plus, he said something about ‘sit’ just now, and that’s Kagome’s ‘word of power’ or... whatever...” He leaned forward to get a closer look. “I can’t tell whether he’s wearing the beads, though, his shirt’s in the way..”

Inuyasha leaned away from him, uttering an odd, almost feral nervous grunt. Sota gave him a strange look in return, then something seemed to occur to him.

“Hey mom, you must’ve knocked him out or something,” he commented with concern. “Maybe half-demons don’t actually black out, they just get funky like this.” He waved a hand in front of the boy’s face.

Inuyasha’s eyes tracked the motion of Sota’s hand, but he did not speak.

Mrs. Higurashi shifted uncomfortably. “Hmm...” Looking into the teen’s eyes, she cleared her throat. “Inuyasha, is that really you? Do you recognize us?”

He did not reply.

All of a sudden, she straightened. “Where is Kagome??”

A flicker of acknowledgment ignited in his eyes, and he blinked. “K –”

“MOM!! Sota!!! What’s going on?!?” Although ignorant of the mention of her name, Kagome clamored into the kitchen right on cue, holding Inuyasha’s clean clothing. The moment she saw the three of them on the floor, she froze. “What – What happened?!”

Sota looked up. “Oh, hey, sis. Mom just clobbered him in the head with a frying pan.”

Mrs. Higurashi gave him an appalled look. “Sota –”

Kagome blanched. “Whaaaat?!” Dropping his clothes, she bolted across the room, dove in front of him, and pushed her family members out of the way. Wrapping her arms around the blank-faced hanyou, she exclaimed, “Inuyasha! Inuyasha!! Are you okay?? Say something to me!!!” Pulling back, she pressed her forehead up against his, smoothing away his bangs.

A tremor went through Inuyasha as his consciousness jolted back. Discovering after a split second that their skin was touching, he turned almost as red as the haori he wasn’t wearing and jerked backward.

“Guuhh – Kagome!!” he choked, staring at her. She, also, seemed to realize what she was doing and pulled back as well, blushing. He seemed about to speak further, but the fiery pain at the side of his head suddenly demanded his attention, and he growled, clamping his hand over the lump.

Sota raised his eyebrows. “Well, that answers that question,” he deadpanned to his mother.

“Mom!” Kagome blurted, fixing her mother with an expression of questioning horror.

Mrs. Higurashi responded with sincere distress. “Oh, I – I’m so sorry!! He.. was sitting up there on the counter when I turned the light on, and I honestly didn’t recognize him, so I....” She glanced uneasily at the victim of her misdirected assault, but he was not even paying attention.

Inuyasha’s awareness had returned so rapidly that it was making him feel queasy. Between Kagome’s sudden embrace and his newly acquired head injury, his mind swam with a dizzy rush and his heart thudded in his ears.

“Oh, man...” Kagome nervously tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “Mom... Sota... this is Inuyasha’s human form.”

The two of them gaped at her in surprise. “H... Human form?” they repeated together.

Kagome nodded slowly. “Yes... Inuyasha becomes fully human once a month, on the night of the new moon. I would’ve told you about it, but he really doesn’t like people to know so I never did.” She groaned in dismay. “I never imagined that something like this would happen!”

Inuyasha’s already erratic heart skipped a beat. Wait. She didn’t tell them? She actually never told her own family about my secret??

Sota was the first to speak. “Whoa!! Seriously?” He eyed his sister’s friend with renewed interest.

Kagome smiled a bit. “Yes.” Gently, she touched a strand of Inuyasha’s dark hair. “This is his natural hair and eye color. He loses his dog ears, his fangs and claws, and... his immortality.”

Her mother spoke up at last. “But... It’s not the new moon tonight, is it?”

Inuyasha glared at the floor. Shoulda seen that one coming.

Kagome glanced from him to her mother. “...Well... no.” She shook her head slightly. “It’s... kinda hard to explain; you see –”

The pain in Inuyasha’s head spiked, resonating with the pain from his other wounds. He moved both hands to his skull, willing the sensation to subside, and gritted his teeth to keep from crying out.

This did not escape Mrs. Higurashi’s notice. “Kagome,” she began, touching her daughter on the shoulder. “He doesn’t look well at all. Does becoming mortal make him ill?”

At those words, Kagome’s mood effectively shifted. “No,” she replied flatly. “Actually, we’re here because he went out in a blizzard lots worse than this one and managed to get himself sick.” She made sure he could see her scowling. “Aaand Kaede sent us back here so that he could get better.”

Inuyasha was immediately defensive. “It’s NOT my fau –!” he snapped, but the vehemence of his protest sent shockwaves of fresh agony through his brain and he stopped short with a strangled whimper.

Sympathy flooded Kagome’s mother’s face. “Oh!” she exclaimed, laying a tender hand over his hands that were clutching his wounded head. “I am so, so sorry! Here, why don’t you sit down, dear... let me make you some tea.” Gently but firmly, she led him over to the table and sat him down, though he recoiled from her touch. “Sota, would you bring me an ice pack from the refrigerator, please?

Thank you sweetie.” Taking the ice pack from her son, she wrapped it in a towel and handed it to Inuyasha. “Here, hold this to your head, okay?”

Seeing as he had pretty much no choice, he complied as she wrung her hands and gazed regretfully at her daughter. “Oh, Kagome, I really wish I’d known!”

Inuyasha spoke before Kagome could, though the ice caused his teeth to chatter so severely that he was rather difficult to understand. “D-D-Don’t w-w-w-worry ‘bout i-it, my... m-m-my b-body’s d-d-dif-ferennt than y-yours.” He clenched his jaw, attempting to regain his coherency with little success. “H-H-Heals f-faster...” he finished, though at the moment, everything about him belied this

statement... and he knew it. Refusing to look at Kagome, his breath caught and he cleared his throat.

Sota stared curiously at him. “Really? Even when you’re human?”

Inuyasha realized too late that he had backed himself into a corner. “We-ell, I, um, ah...” A violent shiver ripped through him, halting his speech and derailing his entire train of thought.

Kagome rolled her eyes. “Oh yeah. Not to worry – after all, he’s got the hardest head of any person in the world – on either side of the well.”

Inuyasha growled low in his throat, causing Sota to glance at him in alarm. “W-Well,” he began, the cutting tone recognizable even through his shivering, “a-at l-least on m-mine. I th-th-think YOUR s-side’s already GOT s-someone who f-f-fits.”

Kagome jumped to her feet and eyed him furiously, looking as if she might very well be considering socking him on the opposing side of his head.

Sota couldn't believe his eyes. Man!! Inuyasha and Kagome both look exhausted, but they STILL won’t stop fighting!!!

Inuyasha’s resentful glare was dissolved, however, as a new wave of merciless shuddering racked his body.

Mrs. Higurashi’s concern instantly increased. “Oh dear... That’s not too cold for you, is it?”

“Of course it is,” stated Kagome haughtily. “His fever’s already sky high, Mom, he’d be shivering anyway.”

Her mother glanced back at Inuyasha with dismay. “How high has it –”

Inuyasha attempted to interject before she could say anything else. “I-It’s f-f-fi –” a queer, almost amusing expression arrested his face as something caused him to pause. “..fi-ii...” His features wavered, even as he tried without success to finish his sentence. Crap, not now!!

"Ehh –" However, his nose quickly won the battle. "EhhTCHUHH!!" The sneeze tore against his weary vocal cords, startling those in the room (except perhaps Kagome) and instantly rendering his persuasive ability useless. As if that weren’t enough, it wakened another wave of pain from all of his injuries, and he allowed himself to cry out this time. "Huhh...hhh..." His eyes watered, adding to the irritation plaguing his inflamed nasal cavity, and he succumbed to the shallow, heady breaths, steeling himself for the inevitable. "Hhhh... hHHhh.. hehhh-hh..." As his face contorted in the miserably vulnerable expression he hated, that final double-hitching gasp did it. "HutJJUH-HUH!" Aggravated, he crammed the heel of his hand against his nose, not caring about what Kagome’s reaction might be.

“Oh my!” It was, of course, Mrs. Higurashi who spoke, her motherly compassion kicking in in earnest after observing the violent episode. “Bless you, Inuyasha!” Striding over to him, she took the ice pack and smoothed the hair away from his face. “That’s quite a cold you’ve got.” He tried to squirm away from her, but she managed to press a palm to his forehead. Before she could comment, however, he sneezed again, a wet, decidedly messy sound. "HukjSSSHT!" She pulled her hand away, though not with revulsion, as he took his hands off his head to cover his mouth and nose.

“Here,” she said softly, “have a tissue, dear.” Reaching over to the tissue box on the shelf, she handed him a couple with a gentle smile.

Although he was in no mood for her charity, he really needed the tissues, so he accepted them without a word.

Kagome ‘humphed,’ drawing a questioning glance from her mother.

“Can you stomach some tea?” asked Mrs. Higurashi, moving over to the stove where the water she had prepared had begun to boil.

Inuyasha grimaced. His stomach was churning unpleasantly, probably from emotion and his fever, so he was not hungry at all. “No,” he said emphatically, then realized how pathetic he sounded. “Uh, I do’t deed adythi’g,” he amended gruffly.

Kagome sniffed. “Of course not.”

Her mother gazed at her. “Hmm. Kagome, he really seems quite ill. Don’t you think you should take him upstairs and let him lie down?”

Kagome flushed slightly. She knew she was being unreasonable, and she knew her mom was calling her on it. “Well.. You see.... um...”

Inuyasha slid to his feet with a thump, and everyone’s eyes moved in his direction. “I’b fine. I’b dot that sick.”

They all gazed at him doubtfully for a moment, varying degrees of pity in their eyes. Kagome, too, felt her heart lurch when she saw his misery, but at the same time, she was sick and tired of his denial. Clenching her teeth, she muttered, “...Liar.”

Sota stared uneasily from Inuyasha to his sister, and Mrs. Higurashi studied her daughter with a sigh. However, the one who broke the silence this time was perhaps the least expected.

“Nnnn...Okay!!” The word was part human voice, part desperate guttural growl. Inuyasha was glaring at Kagome, trembling, anguish emanating from him like a demonic aura. “I’m NOT FINE. I’m... I’m – I’b gonna die!! Happy?!?” His voice broke as he choked on the words, and he began to cough.

The full force of his admission fell upon Kagome. He’s lost it!! she realized, panicking. How could I have been so harsh? I’m such a fool!!

Sota paled. “Uhh... Kagome, he’s not serious, is he?? He’s gotta be... exaggerating, right?”

Kagome’s heart sunk down to her toes as she listened to her friend cough, a harsh, thick, agonizing sound. “He’s...” She bit her lip. Is he serious? Doe’s he really think he’s dying? And... if he does... or if he actually IS dying!... isn’t it my fault?

“No, Sota.” Inuyasha managed to croak out his own response. “Ib-bortality.... ised’t literal, you kdow.” His face and eyes held a hardness that Kagome really didn’t like the looks of. “It meads you cad’t die of old age. But it doesd’t bead you cad’t DIE.” He wrapped an arm around his wounded chest before continuing, voice congested and hoarse. “I cad be killed. Maybe dot easily, but it’s possible.” He stared at the floor. “Eved full demods die. My father died.... so whether I’b mortal or dot, I cad defiditely die... id battle, or...” he set his gaze on Kagome. “... of Yokai-en Breath.”

Kagome’s heart stopped. I’ve really, really hurt him. Why couldn’t I see that? Why didn’t I see it earlier? What kind of a friend am I??

She walked over to him, lips trembling. “Inuyasha.... I’m... I’m sorry –”

“Save it!” he barked, stepping back. “I dod’t wanna hear it!!” Striding forward, he shoved past her and left the room, bounding up the stairs.

***

Kagome’s face crumpled as he left, and she sank to her knees, beginning to cry. Her mother immediately moved to her side, wrapping her arms around her.

“Oh Mom...” Kagome buried her face into her mom’s shoulder. “I – I-I can’t d-do it... I wanted to, but I’ve ruined everything.” Her voice was impassioned and full of despair.

Mrs. Higurashi held her daughter close, stroking her hair. “Shh,” she whispered. “It’s okay...”

“No, it’s not,” Kagome sobbed, shaking her head. “I c-can’t even take care of him when he needs m-me, because all I e-ever do is get angry!”

Her mother hid a knowing smile. “Oh, Kagome, don’t cry. I’m sure it’s not as awful as you think – you’re a very caring girl, and Inuyasha knows that whether he admits it or not.”

“You’re wrong, Mom,” Kagome wailed. “I’m serious, I’ve ruined everything!! I... I need you to be the one to nurse him back to health because I... I c-can’t do it!”

Mrs. Higurashi pulled back so she could look into her daughter’s tear-stained face. “Kagome,” she said firmly, holding her by the shoulders. “You know I will do anything to help you and your friends, and I would help you take care of him if you needed me. But can’t you see? He doesn’t WANT me. He wants you.”

Kagome sniffled, staring at her mother in confusion. “Wha – what do you mean?”

Mrs. Higurashi gently wiped a tear away with her thumb. “Didn’t you notice how uncomfortable he was around me? Right now, he needs you more than anyone else, Kagome.”

Kagome shook her head miserably. “Mom... he was uncomfortable around you because you hit him with a frying pan... that doesn’t mean anything.”

“No, you’re wrong, sis,” Sota piped up. He gazed pragmatically at his distraught big sister. “I’m just a kid, but even I could see it! Every time Mom tried to help him with something, he looked right at you!”

Kagome knit her brow. “He was mad at me,” she murmured. “And I was mad at him. So we were trying to make sure the other person knew it. Stupid, I know...”

Sota put his face in the palm of his hand. “No, no, no, you don’t get it,” he insisted. “I saw his face, it was like he wanted YOU to say something... wanted you to do what Mom was doing.” He padded over to the two of them. “Just think about it, Kagome,” he said, crossing his arms. “He wouldn’t even wake UP until you hugged him!!”

Kagome’s cheeks turned pink, but she still looked doubtful. “Sota...” she began, but her mother spoke up.

“Sota’s right, sweetie,” she affirmed. Smiling slightly, she smoothed back Kagome’s hair. “Do you remember the time you caught that terrible cold and your friends sent you back here to recover?”

Kagome rubbed her eyes. “Of course.” she replied softly.

Mrs. Higurashi continued. “And, if I am correct, the thing that you wanted most then was for Inuyasha to come. To show that he cared about you. Right?”

Kagome nodded hesitantly.

Her mother smiled again. “And despite all of your arguments and differences, he did come – and he did more than that, didn’t he? He took care of you, and helped you get better.” She rose as Kagome let her words sink in. “And now,” she finalized, handing the bundle of Inuyasha’s clothing to her speechless daughter, “you have the chance to do the same.”

Kagome slowly stood, obviously torn between emotions. “But I...” she started, tears still welling in her eyes.

Mrs. Higurashi hugged her. “It’s okay, Kagome,” she reassured her. “After all, sometimes the ones we get angriest with... are the ones we love the most.”

***

Bleak.

The cold, unfeeling snow that fell in endless curtains, sheathing any world in blank obscurity and siphoning all warmth, spoke of a bleakness that resonated with Inuyasha’s soul. Numb to the core, he had no real desire to watch the swirling blizzard; and yet, he could not tear his eyes away. Even though the powdered substance had almost fully coated the windowpane, his tired, aching eyes still rested there.

When he was in his normal hanyou form, emotions were not something he wasted any time considering; in fact, he dedicated most of his efforts therein to ignoring and concealing them in order to avoid appearing weak. Now, though, he suddenly found himself with a lot of time to think... and nothing really left to lose. He had never imagined it possible to feel such strong emotion, and yet somehow be numb. Ordinarily, he would have laughed at such a ridiculous idea... but from his human perspective, everything was different.

Bleak. It was a fitting description, he decided; both for the weather and for himself. The emotional and physical pain were torturing him – and all he could do was bury his face in his cold hands and feel that pain with every fiber of his being.

Hmh. It’s ironic, isn’t it, he thought with a dark chuckle. I hide my vulnerabilities from everyone until even I forget they exist... but when it all comes down to it, my soul’s just as human as theirs are. Fleetingly, he wondered why he was being so candid, even to himself. It must be the fever. Yeah, that’s it... I’m delirious. He sighed. Wonderful. His hand strayed to his forehead, and he winced; even he could tell it was far too warm, the relentless heat radiating into his palm.

The last time he had felt so utterly wretched was literally decades ago; when he had first had to fend for himself after his mother’s death. He had been alone then, abandoned, hurting; an easy target for yokai and men alike. Those were experiences he preferred not to recall, the ones that had hardened his spirit and harmed him even as they made him stronger. Yes... he had experienced it all before: pain, misery, sickness, despair... but somehow, when he was human, the sheer rawness of it all was unbearable.

"HukjsSHuhh! UhhtjSHU!!"

And the sneezes are basically the manifestation of my misery.

He drew the back of his hand across his mouth and nose, silently cursing the disease that now raged within him – as if it was sentient, a being he could blame his troubles on. His mental incoherency was beginning to scare him; he felt so lousy that he knew he had to be awake, but his vision was fading in and out, and a sickening fire pervaded his senses.

What will happen... if I die?

The question had branded itself into his mind.

Who will defeat Naraku? Who will look after Kagome?

I’ve never seen you sick before in my life!! THAT’S what’s scaring me!!” Her words stood out like a beacon in his memory.

No, I blew it. She’s better off without me, and she said so, too.

The thought curdled his stomach; somewhere inside of him he suspected that he wasn’t thinking straight, but he was so sick by now that he couldn’t remember what had really been said. I let her down... I... I didn’t want to, but somehow I always do. And this time... this time it’s too late. Scalding tears blurred his vision, despite his desire to avert them.

The feelings were all too familiar to him. As the tears burned down his face, he was a child again:

Bleak, hopeless... lost.

***

Kagome silently made her way down the hall, almost afraid of what she might find. She noticed that he had left the door open, and she crept up to peek inside.

Inuyasha was sitting with his back to her, on the very box that she herself had used for a seat. Though his face was hidden from her, his agony was perfectly clear, etched into every line of his body. Oh Inuyasha... Holding her breath, she crossed the room. He made no response to her presence, and she cringed inwardly. He must be so angry at me... Despite her qualms, however, she had already made up her mind to be the strong one and make amends, so she steeled herself and stopped behind him. Shaking out his haori, she draped it across his shoulders.

Inuyasha’s entire body went rigid, and he yelped in shock. Whipping his head around, he choked when he saw her. “K-K-Kagome –” He swallowed the word with seemingly a lot of effort, then turned slightly, wearily tugging the sleeves of the robe on.

Kagome’s heart thudded. I... actually startled him, didn’t I, she realized in surprise. I’ve never been able to sneak up on him before... Blushing, she folded, then unfolded her hands.

“I guess you can keep the t-shirt,” she ventured, needing to break the silence with something – anything. “You... left your kimono with Kaede.” She watched him hopefully.

He finished pulling the robe on, but did not give any indication that he had even heard her.

Kagome gulped. “I...” Here goes.... “I want you to know something, Inuyasha. I don’t know if – if you’ll believe me, but...” she took a deep breath. “I really want you to get well.”

Her tremulous words hung in the stillness.

“I’m...” Kagome felt the need to finish, even if he never so much as looked at her. “Please, can you forgive me? For being so cruel to you.” She poured more sincerity into her petition than she had perhaps ever expressed to him before... but still, he did not react.

A single tear slid down her cheek as she slowly turned to leave. That’s it, then.

“I’m sorry.” Those two, quiet words, so low that she could barely understand them, were spoken in a tone that Kagome had never heard from him before.

Her head snapped up. Holding her breath, she turned, feeling as though her body moved in slow motion. “What?”

Inuyasha was facing her now, still seated; his eyes were bright with fever, but something else burned within as well. “About what you said earlier.” His voice was beyond congested, slurred even.

Kagome furrowed her brow. Is his fever that high now? she worried. He seems delirious... maybe dangerously so. “I... I’m not following you,” she said, stepping closer.

A vaguely irritated expression flitted across his face, than vanished. “The last thi’g I wadt...” he murmured, “...is to scare you, Kagobe.”

Kagome blinked. Hold on... don’t tell me he’s lucid!! That’s impossible, because... because if I’m not mistaken... he’s... She hardly dared to even think the word. ...apologizing.

He rose, though she could tell from the rate he was shaking that it cost him a lot of effort. “That’s because...” he continued, a husky earnestness in his voice that it seldom ever possessed, “I dod’t wadt you to have to feel what I do.”

Kagome gasped. Had he just said what she thought he’d said? “You’re... scared?”

Inuyasha laughed, a short, almost bitter sound. “You have no idea what it’s like, Kagobe.” Though his tone was vaguely flippant, his face was dead serious, and suddenly, Kagome fancied that she was seeing his true age. It was very easy to forget that he was not seventeen or eighteen; this was the boy who had spent fifty years in a dormant state, pinned to a tree by Kikyo’s spell. He had lived for many years before that, as well, outliving his human mother... and though he was in essence still a teenager, she knew – perhaps better than anyone – that he was far more mature than he acted.

Despite the rough catch in his voice, he continued. “...To be human, to be yokai, to be neither. When I transform, I...” he hesitated, trying to sort out his thoughts and emotions. “It doesn’t matter which way it happens to be; demon or human, I’m terrified. Every time.” He drew a breath, still maintaining eye contact with her. “I’d rather defeat Naraku alone, with my bare hands, than change forms over and over.”

Kagome hardly dared to breathe. Her heart went out to him, but she had no idea what she should say. She was all at once both grateful for his honesty and frightened by the undeniable intimacy of the moment. “Inuyasha... I...” she breathed. “I’ve never heard you talk this way before.”

“Kheh!” A hint of Inuyasha’s ordinary cockiness surfaced as he scornfully tilted his head. “’Course you haved’t, stupid, i-it’s this cursed fever talking! It’s just the fever, got that?”

He leveled his fevered gaze in her direction, challenging her. However, one look into her clear eyes told him that she wasn’t buying it... but oddly enough, she wasn’t angry. His cheeks grew hotter, and he finally dropped his gaze toward the floor. “I-I bead...” he stammered, “I – I don’t have the slightest clue what I’m even sayi’g to you. Heck, I doubt I’ll remember a word of this toborrow, so... so dod’t go getti’g all excited or subthi’g.”

Kagome said nothing, studying his face with something akin to longsuffering. As well as she knew it, it still disappointed her; Inuyasha was nothing if not defiant. He’s so predictable... she thought resignedly, resisting the urge to roll her eyes. Oh well. At least we’re okay now.

As her vision moved across his familiar features, she noticed something that immediately arrested her attention. Although the room was dark, and his face was blotchy and flushed from illness, there was no mistaking it: tear tracks glittered in paths from the edges of his dark eyes to his firm jawline. Her own eyes grew moist again. Oh, Inuyasha... you’re right. This is harder on you than on anyone else. I”m sorry for not understanding that. She gazed at him, compassion welling up and softening her face. Until now.

Inuyasha gulped, inching away from her. “S-seriously,” he reiterated, “i dod’t deed your sybpathy or duthi’g – It’s dot like this codversatiod eved means adything – I’b delirious!”

Kagome suppressed a sigh. As usual, he was starting to feel awkward and was thus overcompensating in his attempts to play his sincerity down. As often as not, this behavior of his earned him his worth in “sit”s... but at the moment, for once, she was okay with it. “Of course,” she said soothingly. Sighing again, she decided to do them both a favor and change the subject. “Hey.. is your head okay?”

His relief was obvious. “Yeah.” He touched the spot and promptly cringed. “Boy,” he commented, closing one eye in pain, “dow I kdow where you get YOUR violence frub....”

Kagome’s mouth dropped open. “Inuyasha!!” she exclaimed indignantly.

He crossed his arms and smirked at her, having regained at least a semblance of his former attitude.

Kagome, while annoyed, was secretly pleased to see that smirk. Even though he could drive her insane at times, she somehow always ended up picturing him a certain way in her mind – arms folded, smug grin revealing his sharp canines at the corners of his mouth, every inch of him exuding moxie. Now, of course, his fangs were gone and he was exuding exhaustion more than anything else, but the fact that he still had spunk left in him encouraged her. “You’re such a jerk, Inuyasha...” she replied as per their custom, placing a hand on her hip. “No... make that an idiot.” Finding an odd comfort in their infamous banter, she mock-scowled at him.

However, rather than parrying with his own snide remark, Inuyasha sighed, rubbing his bandaged right arm. For a moment, she thought that he was not going to reply; but then, he did something she did not expect.

In four long strides, he closed the distance between them, then pulled her into a rough embrace. “Dod’t you dare be scared, Kagome.” He spoke over her shoulder, but the side of his face pressed into hers, and every word sent chills down her spine. “They do say idiots dever die.” He stepped back, pushing her away, and stared at her, expression sternly aloof. “Remeber that.” Before she could possibly collect her wits, he walked away, seating himself on the bed.

Kagome stared at him, tucking her hair behind her ear with a trembling hand. “Uhm... What... what was that for?” She tried to read his expression, but he had angled his face so that this was impossible. However, if she wasn’t mistaken, he was now even more flushed than he already had been.

She put her hands on her hips again, eyes fastened on him. “Now wait just a minute Inuyasha, you can’t just DO something like that without explanation! What was that –....” she trailed off expectantly as he turned his face, but an easily recognizable expression was clouding it.

"HukJCHU!!" The sneeze came so quickly that he had no time to restrain it... a somewhat nice change from the torturous build-ups that had been plaguing him.

Kagome sighed. “Inuyasha, cover your –”

"HutJCHUH!" He jerked forward, clutching the edge of the bed with his hands.

Kagome tried again. “Come on, don’t be so ru –”

“I – HuhhkTCHU!!" His face contorted as he tried to speak but sneezed instead. He glanced irritatedly in her direction, but the tickling sensation would not go away.

Kagome suddenly found herself thinking, quite inappropriately, that his face was absolutely priceless. Helplessness really is cute on him, she thought, then immediately blushed. What in the world am I THINKING?! She forced herself to harden her expression. “Inuyasha...”

"EhhtCHUH!!" The sneezes were coming so fast that he was having difficulty fashioning a reply. “Wh – what?” he finally managed, breath shuddering. “It’s... dot like I cad... give i-it... to... y – ehh” his eyes fluttered shut, and he gripped the bed. "ehhht’JUHH!!" Again, he didn’t bother to hold it back.

Kagome was not impressed. “Still,” she insisted. “It’s not polite!!”

He glared at her. “So? It... hehh... doesd’t –”

She wouldn’t hear it. “COVER YOUR MOUTH!!”

He edged away from her, letting go of the bed. “Geez, wh..what’s the big – biig – uhhkJUHH!!" This time, he brought the back of his wrist to his mouth.

“Thank you.” Stepping toward him, she crossed her arms. “Now, answer the question!”

He tried to feign innocence... which was incredibly challenging, seeing as he was in the middle of a sneezing fit. “Wha – hehh – wh-what ques – hheh – questiod – hh-htt’CHUHH!" He rubbed his tormented nose with his hand, features quivering. He opened his mouth to continue, then stiffened as his nose twitched. The most formidable sneeze of them all was on its way, and he ceased all attempts to speak. "Hhh... hehh... hh-hEHhh..." He cursed, fist hovering in front of his face in preparation.

Kagome bit her lip. Boy. Just watching him makes me tired. She shifted. Still, she thought in spite of herself, he really does look... cute.

"Nngh... hehh –" Inuyasha tilted his head upward as his powerful lungs seized up. "KktchSHUH-HUH!!" His head snapped forward, his long black hair whipping about his shoulders. Wincing, he cupped one hand over his nose while the other one moved to the side of his head. “Nghh...ow.” He scrunched up his face and sniffled, deep and wet. “Thaaat’s just great,” he griped, massaging the tender spot on his skull. “Is there adythi’g else that cad go wrog with by body?”

Kagome shook her head, then huffed. “Hey, not so fast... don’t think you can just go and change the subject! You better explain yourself, right now!”

He blinked up at her. “Huh? Explaid what?” he mumbled stuffily.

Kagome wondered if he was pretending, or if he honestly didn’t remember. “Oh, never mind,” she said somewhat peevishly, tossing her head. “I swear Inuyasha, you are the most stubborn, pig-headed person I...”

He snorted. “Takes wud to kdow wud.”

Kagome gaped at him. “Why, I –!” She stopped and turned. “That’s it. I’m going downstairs to be with my family for a little while, don’t even try to stop me.” She promptly crossed the room, but hesitated when she reached the door, back to him. Inuyasha gazed at the floor, and for a moment all was silent; however, somehow both of them were secretly satisfied with how their conversation had turned out.

"Hut’CSHHHT!!" Inuyasha sneezed, then sighed heavily, pulling up the collar of his shirt to wipe his nose, but when he noticed Kagome glancing back at him he flinched and changed his mind. Dropping to his hands and knees, he located the handkerchief she had given him earlier and used that instead, burying his face into it with a liquid sniffle.

Kagome stepped through the doorway, then paused again. “Bless you, Inuyasha.” She spoke in the same gentle, tender, sympathetic fashion her mother had used.

He glanced up at her in surprise, and she smiled to herself as she finally left the room.

---------------------------------------------------------

There you go! ^^ As always, I totally welcome (and desire!) your feedback!

BTW, I just wanted to mention – I have no idea how I did on the characterization of Sota and Kagome’s mother; I feel like maybe I’ve altered them a little, but then again they really weren’t main characters in the show at ALL, so... I’ve added my own personal twists to them. XD Lol I will say, though, that the part where Kagome’s mother screams is based in part on a scene from the Final Act (not released in English yet tonguesmiley.gif) where she sees a cockroach and FREAKS OUT; that part right there made me think she would totally scream if she found a sickly black-haired human-demon in her kitchen. XDD

Just fyi, I am definitely working to finish this fic; I know where I wanna go with it and I even wrote the very end already... now I just have to write the stuff in between XD So, therefore, as I always say, whenever I am able to post more, I will. XD There is good news, though: my family’s planning to get internet at home again, so hopefully hopefully hopefully that will be soon, and unblocked!!! ^^

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