By KogasAngel
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Story Notes:
While I adore Kouga, I also like Ginta and Hakkaku. Since there are hardly any fics out there with Ginta as a romantic interest, I decided to do one. Anyways, this will be a Ginta/Kagome and Hakkaku/Sango fic.

Chapter One

Kagome moaned as Inu Yasha kissed her softly. They had finally made love and for Kagome, it had been wonderful. Now, as they lay together, both wrapped up in the afterglow of their lovemaking, Kagome whispered, “I love you, Inu Yasha.”

Inu Yasha smiled. He turned his face and nuzzled her hair. “And I love you too, Kikyo.” He whispered.

Kagome’s breathing hitched in her throat. Kikyo? Kikyo! He just called her Kikyo. Kagome sat up slowly and shook her head. She could not believe it. She had just given him her most precious gift and he called her Kikyo.

Finally, Kagome shook her head and slid out of the futon that they shared. She looked behind her and found that stupid hanyou asleep. The bastard had the nerve to call her by another’s name and then fall asleep afterwards.

Quietly, she gathered her clothing and dressed. She slipped out of the hut and saw Sango sitting by a small fire, Kirara laying quietly in her lap. As she neared, she saw her best friend look up and give her a small smile.

“Kagome, it’s late. You should be asleep.” Sango said, her sad eyes betraying the smile upon her face.

Kagome hiccupped. She sat down next to the slayer and brought her hands to her face. She began to cry and felt her friend’s hand upon her shoulder. “What happened, Kagome? Why are you so sad?” She asked, her voice cracking. She had seen Kagome cry many times, but this time seemed worse than all of the other times.

When she finally got a grip on herself, Kagome looked up and sniffled. “We made love.” She said, her voice no higher than a whisper. “We made love and afterwards I told him that I loved him, and when he replied to me, he called me Kikyo.” Her face crumbled once again and she sobbed. She hurt so much and she only had herself to blame. She should have known that Inu Yasha would never see her as anything more than just Kikyo’s reflection, even though the dead miko had told him that she no longer saw him as anything except for a friend.

Sango sighed and rocked Kagome slowly. She could totally understand about heartbreak. Just an hour earlier, she had confessed her love for the monk, but he had given her a small smile and told her that he had decided that he was just too much man to limit himself to one woman and that she did not have to worry about him trying to fondle her again. He said that he wanted a more feminine woman, and that she did not fit his needs. But, they could still be friends. Sighing, she felt Kagome shudder and looked down. The sad look that had lived on her friend’s face a moment ago was gone, and had been replaced by anger.

“How dare him? I have done nothing but stand beside his ass and all he can do on the night that we make love is think about Kikyo. I have half the mind to go to Kikyo and tell her what happened. She would quickly put him in his place, that selfish prick.” Kagome hissed.

Sango nodded. She had known that Kagome and Kikyo had come to terms with their co-existence. The elder miko was now teaching Kagome how to handle her miko abilities and had even commented that Kagome had already surpassed her in power, but then again, Kagome was the jewel’s guardian and since it had been born into Kagome’s body, Kikyo surmised that the jewel had decided to gift Kagome with the same power as the legendary warrior, Midoriko, had. Sango now watched as the young miko began to glow with power and she gently reached out and gave Kagome’s shoulder a firm shake.

“Kagome, he is a total fool. We all know that Kikyo doesn’t want him anymore, and he probably said her name out of habit.” Sango said.

Kagome sighed and looked over at Sango. It was clear that she was not the only one who was hurting. Reaching out, Kagome asked, “Sango, what happened? Where is Miroku?”

Sango gave a bitter laugh. She waved her hand in the air and sighed. “He is probably off with one of the village girls. He told me that he is simply too much man for one woman and that he likes women who are feminine. From what I have heard from some of the village girls that he has graced with his presence, his statement of being too much man was greatly exaggerated.” She huffed.

Kagome forgot about her own problem and began to giggle. Shaking her head, she looked up at the sky and asked, “Sango, what is wrong with us? Are we so terrible that we can’t find a few nice guys?”

“Well, I guess that you and I are stuck together.” Sango replied, a small smile appearing on her lips.

Kagome nodded, and placed her head on the shoulder of the woman she had come to see as a sister. Together, they stared at the night sky, both lost in thought as to when they had lost control of their lives.

Ginta looked over his shoulder and glared at one of the males. After Kouga had left, he had been placed in charge of the pack since he was the second in command. He shook his head and snarled, “Did you honestly think that you would not be caught? Do you think that I am stupid?”

The wolf before him shook in fear. He shook his head and then whispered, “I am sorry, Master Ginta. I only wanted to see what was beyond the borders.”

Ginta closed his eyes, but then opened them to find Hakkaku standing by his side. “Ginta, they are all curious. After the battle with Naraku, the lands have changed. Don’t be so harsh.” Hakkaku said, his voice low.

Ginta nodded. He had known that this was going to happen. Damn Kouga. Why in the hell did he have to run off with Ayame. The last time they had seen the dark haired wolf was when he had picked Ayame up in his arms and told her that he would be happy to join her tribe now that he had finally gotten over his infatuation with Kagome. He didn’t even leave the tribe with enough food to survive on, but somehow, Ginta and Hakkaku managed to gather enough food and furs for the upcoming winter months. Because of them, the pack survived, and had thrived. Now, they had the second largest pack in all of Japan and they had also grown up from sniveling little cowards to being two very formidable wolves.

Ginta told the wolf that he would deal with him later and motioned for Hakkaku to follow him. He walked into his private den and sat down. “You know, we need to start thinking about mating. Both of us are getting older and we need heirs. As leader of this pack, I need to have an heir to carry on the line, and you need a mate to care for your sorry hide.” He said, nudging his brother playfully.

Hakkaku grinned. He ran a finger through his hair and for a moment wondered if he should go back to his old mohawk. His hair was down to his shoulders and he was not sure if he looked right with longer hair. He glanced over at Ginta and had to marvel at his brother’s transformation. The winter months had not been kind, but with each battle that they endured, they grew in knowledge and strength. Ginta had filled out and was now taller than what Kouga had been. His hair had grown down to the middle of his back and he held it in a low ponytail. Hakkaku could not help it, he was jealous of his big brother.

“Yeah, well…you need a mate so that you can stop whining about how horny you are.” Hakkaku shot back, his fangs barred slightly. Both brothers growled playfully at each other and smirked. They knew what was coming. Sure enough, Hakkaku lunged for his brother and was quickly repelled. Soon, they were involved in a full blown wrestling match. Their tribe listened as yelps and growls floated from their leader’s den and they laughed. It was nice to hear laughter. It had been too long since they had laughed, and now, they had much reason to celebrate.

After they settled down, the two males sat down across from each other. After a few moments of silence, Hakkaku asked, “Are you going to take the shards to Kagome? After all, Kouga did say that they belonged to her.”

Ginta shrugged. “I never thought that Kouga would give up the shards so easily. I have to wonder if Ayame did something to him to make him be with her. Kouga was head over heels for Kagome and then when Ayame showed up, he suddenly changed his tune.” He said, his mind going back to the day when Kouga decided to leave.

***Beginning of Flashback***

Here, I won’t be needing these anymore.” Kouga said, handing his two shards to Ginta. Ginta stared at his leader with wide eyes.

What do you want me to do with them?” He asked, his hands trembling slightly. Kouga simply shrugged. “Give them to Kagome for all I care. But, if you do see her, tell her that I no longer claim her and that I am mating with Ayame. I don’t want to see her ever again.” Kouga snapped, his tail swishing wildly behind him.

Ginta narrowed his eyes. “What is wrong with you? Kagome had done nothing to you to cause such animosity.” He said.

Ayame came up behind Kouga and wrapped her arms around him. She giggled and said, “Kagome had done nothing but lead poor Kouga on for too long. She is the reason why we have not mated before now. Finally, Kouga sees her for what she is and he is never going back to her. Now, if you don’t mind, I want to get back to our pack.”

Kouga nodded and smirked. “Ayame and I are going to the northern mountains. I have decided to lead their pack. You are in charge of this bunch of losers.” He said, picking his new woman up. He glanced over his shoulder and smirked. Before he took off, he said loudly to Ayame, “With any luck, the winter season will finish this group off and then the shame of their pack will be lifted off of the other wolf tribes.”

***End of Flashback***

“Kouga would never have acted like that unless something was wrong. I think that Ayame did something to him to make him act out.” Ginta said.

Hakkaku shook his head. “Ginta, there was nothing wrong with Kouga. After Naraku’s defeat, he decided that he wanted to broaden his horizons. Ayame was the best way for him to do that. He acted like an ass because he wanted to and there is nothing that you can say that will change that.” He said, softly.

Ginta sighed. He looked to the entrance of the den when one of the females came to it. She told both males that the dinner was ready, and he told her that they would be out in a few moments. He watched as Hakkaku walked out of his den and the whispered, “Kouga, how could you?”

Chapter Two

Kagome glared at the hanyou’s back while Sango shot a look of death towards Miroku. Both males were chatting about the lovely women in the village and neither had noticed that the females were falling behind.

Finally, Kagome could not take it anymore. She looked over at Sango. She got an evil thought in her mind and grinned. They were in wolf territory, Kouga’s territory to be exact. She tapped Sango on her shoulder and motioned for her to lean over.

“You want to teach the boys a lesson?” She asked, her eyes twinkling with mischief. When Sango nodded, Kagome explained to her that they were going to go and visit with Kouga and his pack. Sango grinned and tapped Kirara on her back and told her to stop. When Shippo made a noise to protest, Kagome quickly covered the kit’s mouth.

“Quiet, Shippo. We are just going to let Inu Yasha and Miroku go on their way and we are going to visit Kouga. After we visit with the pack, then we will go back to Kaede’s village.” Kagome said, quietly.

Shippo grinned and nodded. Soon, they were all in the air and heading towards the mountains. Soon, they could hear howls and knew that the wolves had caught their scent. As they approached, Kagome saw two very handsome males step out from the den and she heard Sango catch her breath. Apparently, Sango also saw the males and liked what she saw.

When they landed, Kagome slid off of Kirara’s back and cleared her throat nervously. She looked around for Kouga, but frowned when she did not see him. She knew that he had not been killed in the battle with Naraku, so where was he?

Ginta and Hakkaku looked at each other. Ginta could not believe that the young woman before him was Kagome, but her attire and scent told him that she was indeed the young miko. The woman before him was nothing short of breathtaking. Her hair was now hanging past her backside and her body had matured into that of a young woman. Her long legs peeked out from under her skirt and her skin was creamy and tasty looking. Taking a deep breath, Ginta moved towards her.

“It has been a long time, Kagome. How are you?” Ginta asked, his eyes soft. He glanced over at Hakkaku, but his brother’s eyes were trained on the slayer. His scent told him that he liked the female warrior before him.

Kagome smiled nervously. “Ummm, hi. Is Kouga here? If he isn’t, then is Ginta and Hakkaku here?” She asked, her voice small.

Ginta chuckled. “Kouga isn’t here, Kagome. And, I am Ginta. Do I really look that different?” He teased, enjoying the soft blush that spread across her face.

Kagome’s eyes widened. “You look great.” She chirped. She quickly clamped her hand to her mouth and then sighed. One day, she was going to have to do something about that mouth of hers. It always shot off before she could think.

Ginta chuckled softly. He saw the slayer approaching and he glanced back over at his brother. Hakkaku smiled at the young woman and then asked, “Why are you here, Kagome?”

Kagome sighed. “Well, we kind of wanted to visit and get away from Inu Yasha and Miroku. So, since we were in the area, we decided to come here.” She said, her eyes darting to the ground.

Ginta took in a deep breath. However, there was something that he had to do and so, he reached out and grasped Kagome’s hand.

“We need to talk, Kagome. Come with me.” Ginta said, his tone serious. He led Kagome into the main den and then walked into his private den. Once inside, Ginta motioned for Kagome to have a seat. Once she was comfortable, Ginta reached into his pouch and pulled out the shards. Without a word, he handed them to her.

Kagome took the shards from Ginta and then understood. Kouga was dead. That was why Ginta had his shards. She felt the tears stream down her face and she whispered, “I’m so sorry, Ginta. I knew that he was like a brother to you.”

Ginta cocked his head. “Not anymore. After that bastard left us, we had to really scramble for winter supplies. He didn’t even leave enough food for the pups, the selfish ass.” He said. He had thought a lot about what Hakkaku had said, and the more he thought about it, the angrier he became.

Kagome paled. “Ginta, it wasn’t his fault. It happens to everybody. It is a part of life.” She admonished, her tone hard.

“Like hell it is. After what he did, he should be lucky that I don’t hunt him down and take his head off of his neck.” Ginta snarled.

Kagome’s eyes widened. “Wait. Kouga is still alive?” She asked, her confusion evident.

Ginta nodded. “Yeah, he is. Did you think that he was dead?” He asked. He could see the confusion on Kagome’s face and realized that is exactly what the miko thought. Shaking his head, he said, “Kouga is in the northern mountains with Ayame. They have probably already mated. He wanted me to give these to you and to tell you something.”

Kagome stared at the shards in her hand. Kouga had not even told her goodbye. They were supposed to be friends. However, she lifted her head and gave Ginta a look that told him to continue, but from the look on his face, Kagome wondered if she really wanted to hear it.

Ginta cleared his throat. He gave Kagome a shrug and said, “He said that he never wanted to see you again. Kagome, we don’t know what has gotten into him, but we know that Ayame has something to do with it. But, that doesn’t excuse his actions against this tribe. He is now seen as a traitor. He was leader and he left us with no food, no furs, and several little pups to feed. To us, he is the enemy, wolf or not.”

Kagome felt her body grow cold. What in the hell did she do to Kouga to cause such anger towards her? She sighed and asked, “Did he say why he never wanted to see me again? I can’t think of anything I did to make him hate me.”

“As I said before, Ayame has a lot to do with this. Personally, I think that she did something to him to make him act in such ways, but that is my personal opinion. However, he is still going to be seen as a traitor unless it is proven that he was under a spell or something that caused him to act like a complete ass. I am sorry, but I have to agree with him on something. I don’t think that it would be a good idea for you to be around him, not with him acting like this.” Ginta replied, his tone firm.

Kagome nodded. She looked at the entrance of the den and had to wonder what Sango was doing and if she were ok.

Sango huffed a bit and then charged at the wolf. His cocky grin angered her and she felt that he needed to be taught a lesson in respect. However, his grin only got wider as he leapt over her and gave her a gentle kick on her backside, sending her to the ground.

Hakkaku grinned and said, “Well, slayer. I can see why the monk can’t keep his hands off of your backside. With something as nice and firm as your ass, I would have a hard time controlling myself as well.”

Sango slowly stood up and glared at the wolf. “And, like the monk, you would also be sporting my handprint on your face.” She hissed.

Hakkaku chuckled softly. “You could try, my dear. You could try.” He said, his eyes twinkling playfully. He loved the way Sango quickly took him up on his request to spar with him. He could not help but notice how her slayer uniform fitted to her tight, little body and hugged her in all the right places. If he had not had better control over himself, he was sure that he would have shown her just how pleased he was with her appearance.

Sango saw that the wolf was deep in thought and took that opportunity to rush him. She threw herself at the wolf and was able to knock him down. When they stopped rolling, Sango grinned and glanced down at the surprised wolf. Smirking, she said, “I win.”

“Are you sure about that?” Hakkaku countered. He wrapped his legs around Sango’s waist and twisted. The result was Sango on her back with a very happy wolf on top of her. He winked at her and said, “Better luck next time, slayer.”

Sango glared at the wolf but accepted his hand to help her to her feet. She brushed herself off and then asked, “So, when did you become such a good fighter? From what I remember of you and Ginta, you both always let Kouga do the fighting.”

Hakkaku’s face became hard. “We don’t mention Kouga’s name around here. He is viewed as a traitor and after what he pulled, he is lucky that we don’t hunt him down and rip his throat out.” He snarled.

Sango quickly backed up. She saw Hakkaku take in a deep breath and then he gave her a shaky smile. “Sorry about that. It’s just after everything that we have been through, well, we view Kouga as an enemy now.” He explained.

Sango slowly nodded. Together, they began to walk and talk. Sango told Hakkaku what had happened between her and Miroku. Finally, Hakkaku turned to Sango and asked, “Why are you so affected by his decision? It is clear from what you have told me that you are both better off as friends. Think of it this way, if you did mate or marry, you would have to wonder what he was doing when he was not with you. This way, you don’t have to worry about him being with another female and you have an opportunity to find yourself a male who will be with you and only you. Personally, I think that he did you a favor.”

Sango stared at the wolf for a moment, but nodded. When put that way, perhaps she was better off. Hakkaku smiled at Sango and she could not help but notice how handsome he was when he smiled. Now that he had grown into a man, he was a very good-looking male.

“So, what did the mutt do to Kagome to make her angry? It must have been something bad to make her want to come and visit Kouga.” He asked, his eyes trained on hers. For a moment, Sango was silent. Finally, she asked, “If I tell you, do you promise to keep it a secret?” When he nodded, Sango said, “Kagome and Inu Yasha were together. When Kagome told him that she loved him, he returned the sentiment, but said another woman’s name instead of hers. I think that Kagome has finally reached her breaking point.”

Hakkaku laughed. “It seems that you and Kagome are in the same boat. You both gave your hearts to men who didn’t deserve them and now both of you are seeing that you gave you hearts to the wrong men.” He said, giving her a slight nudge.

Sango giggled. “It would appear that besides changing your looks, you have also grown a lot wiser, Hakkaku.” She complimented, enjoying the way the wolf blushed at her words.

The two stood staring at each other for a few moments, but a rude voice interrupted their moment of peace.

“There you are, wench. How dare you and Kagome make us worry about you.” Inu Yasha growled.

Kagome listened as Ginta recounted how he became leader. She grinned at him and remarked that leadership agreed with him. He was obviously a better leader than Kouga was. It was clear that he was a very kind, but firm leader who did not take any crap off of anyone and he listened to the ones who he had to take care of. Kouga never did that. He always yelled at the brothers when they made a suggestion that he did not like. She listened as he proudly bragged that he had many females begging him to mate with them, but he wanted to wait for a woman who he felt completed and challenged him.

Ginta was impressed to hear that Kagome had finally learned how to control her miko abilities. He listened with a sympathetic ear as she told him what had happened between her and Inu Yasha, and he told her that Inu Yasha was a fool. It pained him to see her heart broken, but it was better that she understand the hanyou’s nature now instead of when she got heavy with a pup. Clearly, the hanyou could not replace his former love in his heart, and would only see Kagome as a way of keeping his bed warm while he chased his lost love.

After coming to a decision, he clearedlhis throat and asked, “Would you and your companions like to join us for dinner? I know that humans don’t eat raw meat, so I can have the females cook the meat for you. I would love to hear more about what you have been up to. It’s been a while since I have been able to talk to a female without having her hanging all over me and begging me to make her my woman.”

Kagome giggled and nodded. After Ginta helped her up, they walked to the entrance of the main den and saw Inu Yasha screaming in Sango’s face. Ginta looked down at Kagome and saw that she had gone pale. Without thinking, he reached down and grasped her hand and gave it a squeeze. She looked up at him and gave him a shaky smile. Together, they walked towards the angered hanyou, and Kagome prepared herself for the worst.

As soon as he caught her scent, Inu Yasha whirled around and glared at Kagome. At first, he was going to tell her how selfish and stupid she had been, but when he glanced down, he saw that Kagome’s hand was being held by the wolf that was standing next to her and he simply lost his train of thought. No longer was he worried about her safety, but now, he was enraged at seeing her with another male.

“So, this is what you have been up to. Was he good, Kagome? Was he gentle or rough? I bet it only took a few sweet words to get you to drop your panties. So, did ya bore him like you bored me.” Inu Yasha spat. His golden eyes were hard and he could not help but feel a bit of satisfaction when he saw tears streaming down Kagome’s face.

Ginta felt his blood boil. He squeezed Kagome’s hand once more before letting it go. Standing in front of Kagome, he addressed Inu Yasha.

“I don’t care what you think, or how you feel. However, you will not speak to her like that ever again. Do you ever think before you speak? Tell me, do you smell her on me at all?” Ginta demanded, his claws flexed, ready for a fight.

Inu Yasha narrowed his eyes, but sniffed the air. “Well, if it wasn’t you, I bet it was Kouga. That damn wolf has always sniffed around her and I bet she finally gave him a piece of her. You are just covering for him.” He said, crossing his arms.

Ginta growled loudly, and snapped, “Kouga is not here. He has not been here since the beginning of winter. So, yet again, you look foolish.”

Inu Yasha growled. He glared over at Kagome, who was now being held by Sango. A second wolf approached Ginta and stood behind him. Both males looked angry and Miroku decided that it was time to step in.

“Perhaps Inu Yasha jumped to the wrong conclusion. We were simply worried about our female companions and since they did not tell us where they were going, we panicked. I am sure that Inu Yasha did not mean his harsh words.” He said. He really did not want to see a fight. He knew that Inu Yasha’s words cut the young miko deep, but at the moment, it was the two male wolves before them that they had to worry about.

“The mutt is wrong about many things, monk. However, that doesn’t excuse his behavior or his words. Kagome loves him and he treats her like trash. An honorable youkai would never speak to a woman that was theirs in such a way.” Hakkaku said, his lips rearing back to expose his sharp fangs.

“Well, then. There is no problem here. She isn’t my woman.” Inu Yasha said, a smile passing over his lips. He was so proud of himself that he didn’t have to resort to violence to solve this problem. Now that this matter had been cleared up, they could go back to finding the rest of the shards.

Kagome’s face had gone pale. Sango kept whispering soothing words to her, but she was finally pushed past her breaking point. Untangling herself from Sango’s embrace, she glared at the hanyou, whose ears suddenly flattened to his skull. Oh, yeah. He knew exactly what was coming.

She slowly approached him, like a predator stalking its prey, and she came to a stop about a foot away from him. Inu Yasha saw the two wolves tense and then looked back at the small woman before him. He took in a deep breath and said, “Well, it’s true. You are not my woman. Yes, we slept together, but I did not mark you. That honor is reserved for Kikyo.”

Kagome wanted to sit him. She really did. However, as she listened to his words, it suddenly occurred to her just how selfish and uncaring he really was. She had given him her virginity, and he treated it like it was an empty carton of ramen and tossed it away. For him, it had just been a romp in the sack, and now, for her, it was the greatest mistake of her life.

Taking in a deep breath, she said, “You think that Kikyo wants you? Well, I tell you what, she and I have spoken in great detail about you and she could care less about you. Go to her. Go to her and hope that she has changed her mind, but I can already tell you that she hasn’t. And when she turns you away, don’t come looking for me. I am finished with you. I have had it, and I am sick and tired of constantly being compared to her. Once we find all of the shards, I am going to be the one to make the final wish, and then I will walk away from you and not look back.”

Sango smirked. It was time that Kagome stood up for herself. She glanced over at the wolves and saw Ginta nod his approval. She saw Hakkaku look over at her and she quickly looked down. Damn it, of all the times to get a crush, and on a demon, no less. Her father would have flipped.

Inu Yasha stared at the young miko for a moment, and then said, “So, that’s it. Fine. I will never make love to you again.”

Kagome glared at the hanyou and snapped, “You never made love to me in the first place. You proved that after I told you that I love you and you called me Kikyo. So, you see, I know that in your mind, it wasn’t me that you were making love to. You were screwing Kikyo.”

Inu Yasha paled. Had he really said Kikyo’s name? He thought back to that night and remembered everything about it. He could remember undressing her, pleasuring her, and finally, taking her virginity, and he could recall her telling him that he loved him after they had seperated.However, he was still angry at Kagome for disappearing and he did the only thing he could think of to get her back. “You know, I can hardly remember anything about that night. So, it really could not have been that good, at least it wasn't for me.”

Kagome felt her heart drop. She stared at the hanyou in horror, and felt Ginta move beside her. Without a moment’s hesitation, the wolf took Kagome into his arms and felt her hot tears sliding down his neck. As she began to sob, he glared hatefully at the hanyou and said, “Get off of my mountain. Get off and don’t ever come back. You have just proven to us that you are indeed what Kouga has always claimed you to be. A pathetic puppy with no honor.”

Miroku walked over to the hanyou, and smacked him on the back of his head. “He is right, Inu Yasha. You need to leave. I will make sure that Lady Kagome and Lady Sango return to Kaede’s village safely, but you need to depart. Kagome doesn’t need to see you anymore. I have thought many things of you, my friend, but I have never thought of you as a liar. You and I both know that you and Lady Kagome laid together. And, you are the one who bragged to me about claiming her innocence, but now, you lie to harm her, and you can see that your mission was accomplished.” He said. He was very disappointed in his friend.

For a moment, Inu Yasha stared at the monk, but then growled. How dare that monk turn on him. Why was he the only one to see that it was Kagome who started all of this? He was the victim here, not Kagome. He took off, and did not look back. Ginta watched as the hanyou bounded away and he called a few of his wolves over. He ordered them to follow Inu Yasha until he left their territory. After the wolves were gone, he gathered Kagome in his arms and looked at Hakkaku.

“I am going to take Kagome into my den to let her rest. She and her friends will be our guests for dinner tonight.” He said.

Hakkaku grinned. He glanced over at the slayer and watched as another soft blush appeared on her cheeks. He would definitely have to sit beside her during the meal. He wanted to see just how much he could make her blush. It would be a very interesting dinner.

Ginta watched as his brother made eyes at the slayer and fought back the urge to smile. It was nice to see his brother interested in a woman. Turning around, he heard a loud smack and looked over to see one of the unmated females stomp away from the monk. He watched as the monk rubbed his cheek and smile. Obviously, the monk was into pain.

Shaking his head, Ginta carried the distraught miko into his personal den and placed her upon his bedding. He sat down next to her and gently rubbed her back.

“He is a fool, Kagome. One day, he will regret his words. In time, you will see that he did you a favor by acting like an ass, but for today, mourn. Mourn for the friendship that Inu Yasha just destroyed. Now, try and go to sleep. I will wake you up when it is time for dinner.” He said, his voice soft.

Kagome nodded and closed her eyes. Between exhaustion and Ginta’s gentle rubbing, Kagome felt herself slipping away. Before she completely gave into sleep, she felt Ginta cover her with furs. It felt nice to have someone care for her well-being for a change.

Inu Yasha finally stopped running. He could hear every single cruel word that he had spoken to Kagome and he felt a bit of guilt. However, he had felthurt when he saw the wolf holding Kagome’s hand. He shook his head and grinned. One of Kikyo’s soul collectors had floated by and hequickly followed it. He could not wait to see his beloved.

Kikyo waited for him near a large tree. She could hear the crunch of leaves as he ran along the forest floor. She was sure that he would have a lot to say to her, but he was going to have to wait. She had heard every damn word that had spewed from his mouth and it was high time that she set him straight. Finally, she was going to tell him how she felt and he would know the kind of pain that he had inflicted on her reincarnation. It was time that Inu Yasha learned the truth.

Chapter Three

Kikyo watched as the hanyou came closer to her. One of her soul collectors came down and she gently patted its head, waiting for the hanyou to arrive. When he came to a stop before her, the smile on his face told her that he was glad to see her.

“Kikyo!” Inu Yasha exclaimed, happily. He allowed his eyes to roam over her body and she could not help but roll her eyes. However, she had to make sure that she stayed on task. She would not allow him to continue with these silly fantasies of them beingtogether. She was just not interested.

“Inu Yasha. Tell me, where is my reincarnation?” She asked, her voice soft. She watched as he began to fidget before her and she shook her head. Clearly, he did not want to tell her where Kagome was.

“She is with her new friends. Apparently, she likes the company of wolves to mine.” He replied, scowling.

“Can you blame her? After what you said to her, I would be shocked if she ever spoke to you again.” Kikyo said, her eyes narrowing. She watched as his face froze in horror. The unspoken question that rested in his eyes was quickly answered by a nod of her head.

“Yes, Inu Yasha. Kagome spoke the truth to you when she told you that she and I have spoken, but what she did not tell you is that we are linked through our minds because of the soul that we share. Allow me to explain. A few months ago, Kagome found me drained of souls. She allowed a larger part of her soul to leave her body and come into me, thus allowing me to live. Because of her connection to the jewel, the part of her soul that entered me has allowed me to live without needing to take anymore souls, but it also gave us a connection to each other. I have heard every single cruel word, every single time you compared her to me, and I know about the worst crime against her that you have committed. You took her virginity, but instead of thinking about the one who gave you her most precious gift, you thought of me and then had the nerve to humiliate her in front of that wolf tribe. How dare you.” Kikyo hissed, her eyes beginning to glow a soft pink.

Inu Yasha stepped back. Never before had Kikyo looked at him with such hatred, not even when she confronted him right after Urasue brought her back to life. However, with the way she was looking at him now, it was clear that he was not her favorite person at the moment.

“Kikyo, I can’t help the fact that I don’t love Kagome. I love you.” He said, his hand shaking as he reached out for her.

Kikyo threw her head back and laughed. “Love? You don’t have any idea of how to love. If you really did love me, you would have seen that Kagome is me, just in a different body. I died, Inu Yasha. I died and was reincarnated, and even though I stand before you, I am also at the wolf den, asleep. You have never gotten it, have you? You have never understood that the minute Kagome was born, I was reborn. Just because I have a different name, that doesn’t mean that my heart isn’t the same. You do not love me. You love a memory. What you see is an extension of what I used to be. I am not supposed to be here. I am a walking emotion. Yes, I have memories of our time together, I have dreams, but I also now understand that no matter what I do, I am walking around in two different bodies. Kagome is a younger version of me. Take a very good look at this face and body. This is what Kagome’s final form will look like. Already she bears a strong resemblance to me, but within a couple of years, she will look identical to what I look like now. What are you going to do then? Will you decide to chase after her, trying to make amends for breaking her heart? When are you going to get it through that thick skull of yours that I no longer want you and now, neither does Kagome. Already, she is expelling you from her heart, and the only one you have to blame when you find yourself all alone is yourself.” Kikyo said, her dark eyes steady upon him. She could see that he was trembling, but she doubted if he heard half of what she said. Inu Yasha always did have the ability to hear only what he wanted to hear.

Inu Yasha turned his gaze to the ground. He could not understand why Kikyo was so upset with him. He could not help but allow her words to echo in his head. She was Kagome. Kagome was Kikyo. But, for some reason, he could not accept that fact. Instead, he decided to do what he did best when he did not grasp a concept. He decided to argue.

“Kikyo, Kagome is Kagome. She is her own person and I am sorry, but that person is not the one I want. You are my woman. I am not in love with Kagome. I am in love with you and only you. Kagome is a nice girl, but she could never be you.” He said, his golden eyes silently begging her to understand his point of view.

“And still you do not understand. Kagome is me. As my reincarnation, she was given my miko abilities and with the help of the jewel, she has nowsurpassed me in power. However, if you need proof of what I speak, then I will give it to you. Inu Yasha, sit.” Kikyo said, her tone smug.

Inu Yasha’s eyes went wide as the beads around his neck began to glow. Suddenly, he felt the strong tug and was sent face first into the ground. At first, he did not move. When he felt the spell relax, he slowly looked up and saw Kikyo looking towards the mountains, her eyes filled with tears.

“Kikyo, what’s wrong? Please, please don’t cry.” Inu Yasha begged. He watched as Kikyo turned to look back at him and shake her head.

“I will say this to you one last time, Inu Yasha. I do not desire a life with you anymore. You could have had a very happy life with my reincarnation, but you threw it away for a memory. For what you said to my reincarnation, to me, I will never forgive you. If you should continue to bother me with your prattle about us being together, I will not hesitate to seal your sorry hide back to a tree and this time, I will make sure that no one will be able to break it, not even Kagome.” Kikyo said. She watched as the hanyou’s face twisted into shock and she nodded. Now she was sure that her message had been received. Turning on her heel, she began to walk to the forest, but the sound of his voice stopped her.

“Why, Kikyo? Why are you acting like this?” He asked, his voice broken. He could feel the tears streaming down his face and he could not understand why Kikyo was so cold to him.

“Because, it is time that you grew up and stopped living in some warped fantasy that you and I are destined to be together. You had a chance with me, with my reincarnation and you allowed your stupid dreams to kill that chance. As I said, you only have yourself to blame. Now, stay away from me, and let me be. Face it, hanyou. We are simply not meant to be together.” She sneered. She walked into the woods and grinned. She knew that Kagome had been listening and she hoped that Kagome would listen to her now and stay away from Inu Yasha, at least romantically. She needed to be loved and she now knew that Inu Yasha was not the one to give her that love that she so desperately craved.

Kagome felt a gentle hand brush her bangs out of her face and heard Ginta’s gentle voice. She struggled to open her eyes, and finally managed to crack open her left eye. She found Ginta smiling down on her and then heard him say, “It is time for dinner, Kagome.”

Yawning, Kagome sat up and pushed the furs off of her body. She felt warm and comfortable. Smiling, she glanced up at Ginta and said, “I feel a lot better.”

Ginta nodded. “Yeah, a nap always makes me feel better, too. Come on, let’s go join the others.” He said, offering Kagome his hand.

Together, they walked out and Kagome gasped. The entire tribe was sitting in a large circle and there were a lot of human females sitting by wolf males. She glanced up at Ginta and watched as he shrugged.

“During the winter months, we came upon a village of women whose men had been killed off in a war. We learned that human women go into heat once a month and it was decided that to repopulate our den, we would need females who could bear pups all year around. To our surprise, human women are a lot gentler that youkai females and many of the unions between our males and human females are happy ones. So, even though the pups are hanyou, they will be trained in the way of the wolf and will one day be a force to be reckoned with. And, it is because of our human females that we have started to cook our meat. I must say, it is a lot tastier.” Ginta explained as he and Kagome sat down.

Kagome grinned and nodded. She watched as the human femalesspoke with their mates and she was amazed to see the males dote on their females. It was endearing, and Kagome found herself a bit envious of the obvious love that the couples had for each other.

Sango and Hakkaku kept stealing little glances at each other. Neither would just come out and admit that they liked the other, so they settled for flirting and fighting with each other. Finally, Sango was able to tear her eyes off of Hakkaku and looked at Kagome.

“Do you feel better, Kagome?” She asked. She had wanted to go after Inu Yasha and ripthe male parts off of his body, but Hakkaku talked her out of it. He said that karma will deal with Inu Yasha and not to concern herself with unnecessary worry. Besides, Ginta was caring for Kagome and from the looks of things, he was interested in more than just a friendship with the small miko.

Kagome nodded and grinned. “Yeah, I am fine. I also know that Kikyo got a hold of Inu Yasha.” She said smugly.

Sango lifted an eyebrow. “Really, what went on?” She asked, hoping that Kikyo finally put the arrogant hanyou in his place.

“Basically, she explained to him that because I am her reincarnation, she and I were one in the same and that she heard every single word that he said. I would have explained that we are basically two sides of the same coin, but I think that Kikyo explained it on a level that Inu Yasha could notunderstand, and she may have to repeat herself. But, she really told him off and now she is traveling towards a village that she helps out from time to time. I have to say that I have never heard her so angry.” Kagome said, grinning.

Sango nodded. She had seen that Kikyo had become veryprotective towards Kagome ever since Kagome had given her a larger piece of her soul. It was as though Kikyo were trying to keep Kagome from making the same mistakes that she had made when she was alive. She had heard Kikyo warn Kagome that Inu Yasha would only break her heart and sure enough, the dead miko had been right.

Kagome turned to the plate that she had been handed. She gingerly picked up a piece of meat and took a bite. It was really good. She eagerly took another bite and closed her eyes to savor the flavor. Even her mother could not make meat taste this good, and that was saying something.

Ginta watched Kagome’s face as she tried a piece of meat. He nearly burst out laughing as her face changed from uncertainty to one of pure happiness. He really liked the way her every emotion played out on her face. If one watched closely, they could easily tell how she was feeling simply by watching her expressions. He found it endearing.

After they finished eating, Sango announced that it was time for them to return to the village, though the disappointment in her voice told Hakkaku that she would rather stay. The monk stood up, the sides of his face completely red from being slapped, and agreed.

“Besides, it is about time for Lady Kagome to return home and visit with her family. I am sure that your mother misses you very much.” He said, grinning.

Kagome sighed and slowly nodded. She glanced at Ginta and found that he was looking at her. She gave him a soft smile and said, “I really enjoyed our visit. If it is ok with you, may we come back sometime?”

Ginta nodded. “We would love to see all of you, but if you managed to come without the monk, I seriously doubt that any of the ladies would be disappointed.” He said, smirking.

“Why is it that I am always looked down upon for my love of beautiful women? Can I help it if their beautycalls out to me and entices me?” Miroku asked, his head shaking.

Hakkaku snorted. “Loving beautiful women is not the problem, touching the beautiful women is a problem and one day, you are going to find that you have touched the wrong woman, and you will see that after she gets done with you, that youhave becomea woman.” He said, his arms crossed over his chest.

Sango and Kagome broke out into giggles. Hakkaku looked over at the females and smirked. He really liked hearing Sango laugh.

“That’s right, let’s all make fun of the afflicted monk.” Miroku grumbled. He sighed heavily and went to go stand by Kirara. At least she would be kind to him.

Shaking his head at the monk, Ginta turned to Kagome and grinned. He walked over and tapped her on the shoulder. “Ummm, Kagome. We are friends, right?” He asked, his voice hesitant. When she nodded, he grinned. “I have seen humans hug their friends when they depart, and I was wondering if it would be alright if I gave you a hug.” He said, suddenly shy.

Kagome studied the wolf for a moment, but then smiled. Stepping closer to him, she wrapped her arms around the wolf’s waist and rested her head on his armor-covered chest. For a moment, he was stunned that she had actually hugged him, but then allowed his arms to wrap around the small miko and hold her close. His senses picked up the faint scent of lavender and he closed his eyes. It felt nice to hold a woman and not feel as though she were only touching him because she wanted something from him other than his affection. He grinned when he felt Kagome snuggle closer to him. Yeah, this was a very good feeling.

Hakkaku watched with envious eyes as his brother embraced Kagome. He felt a tap on his shoulder and he looked down into Sango’s smiling face.

“Thank you, Hakkaku. I really had a good time.” She said, her voice hardly above a whisper. She mentally berated herself for acting in such a way with the wolf. Where was that fire that she had with Miroku? Here she was, a slayer and only survivor of her village, and she was acting like some bashful village wench with her very first crush.

Grinning, Hakkaku placed a finger underneath Sango’s chin and lifted her face so that he could meet her eyes. “I am very glad to hear that, Sango. Perhaps the next time you come to visit me, I will let you win the next sparing match.” He said, his tone teasing.

Sango’s mouth dropped open and she narrowed her eyes, but as she was about to snap at him, he quickly yanked her to him and hugged her tight.

“What are you doing?” She gasped, her heart thumping violently in her chest. She heard him laugh and then heard him say, “Didn’t you hear? Friends hug each other goodbye, and we are friends. So, I am hugging you goodbye.”

Sango blushed, but accepted the hug. However, their moment was quickly broken when a smack was heard and Miroku yelped.

“Were you not listening when they said that friends hug each other goodbye? Does this mean that you don’t want me as a friend?” He asked, his eyes wide. He was quickly answered when the female growled at him. He glanced over at Ginta and said, “I had to try.”

Ginta growled over at the monk, but then returned his attention to the soft woman in his arms. It was getting late and if they wanted to reach the village before midnight, they would have to leave soon. He felt Kagome shift and then felt her pull back. Reluctantly, he loosened his arms and watched her step away from him.

“Well, it is time to go. I guess that I will see you later, Ginta.” She said, giving him a bright smile. Ginta smiled and replied, “I can’t wait, Kagome. Until then, take care of yourself.”

Nodding, Kagome turned and walked over to Kirara, her eyes narrowing at the monk, who gave her an innocent look, a bright red handprint adorning his cheek. Sango soon followed and she got onto Kirara’s back. Both females waved at the wolf brothers and then Sango told Kirara to take off. Soon, they had faded into the distance and gone from theirsights.

Hakkaku walked over to his brother and placed his hand on Ginta’s shoulder. “Kagome has really grown up, hasn’t she?” He asked, a knowing smile playing upon his lips.

“I don’t know what you mean.” Ginta replied, his voice shaking. He heard his brother chuckle and he glanced over at him, his eyes narrowing.

“Yeah, right. You know exactly what I mean. Kagome has grown into a very beautiful woman and I could not help but notice that you barely took your eyes off of her. You are interested in her.” Hakkaku said, his eyes twinkling.

“Feh. She is just a friend.” Ginta replied, his voice unsteady. He didn’t really want to admit it, but Kagome had really caught his eye and he, himself, had wondered if she would ever look at him as anything other than a friend.

“Yeah, right. Keep on telling that to yourself. Take me and Sango. It will take some time, but I will wear that female down. Mark my words, brother, she will be my mate. I guarantee it.” Hakkaku boasted, his tail swaying back and forth eagerly behind him. Without waiting for his brother to respond, Hakkaku walked away, his mind on Sango and the things he would love to do to her if she gave him the chance he desired.

Ginta stared after his brother and then looked at the night’s sky. He felt a small glimmer of hope flutter in his chest and he could not help but wonder if Kagome would allow him to court her, to show her that he could care for her better than any other male she had ever known. But, something told him not to rush things, so he thought that perhaps they could strengthen their friendship first before diving into a romantic relationship.

Satisfied that he had figured out the best way to approach Kagome, he followed his brother into the den and headed into his private den. He was tired and needed sleep, but as he laid down on his bedding, Kagome’s scentdrifted to his nose and he closed his eyes. To say that his dreams that night were pleasant would be an understatement.

Ayame growled and snapped, “What in the hell is wrong with you, Kouga? We have been trying to mate for several weeks now and each time, something comes up. At first, I could understand with you being the new leader, but now you can’t even rise to the occasion, if you know what I mean.” She was so angry that after all of her hard work and planning that she was not reaping any of the benefits. Every night she would hear the sounds of other couples mating and it was beginning to drive her insane with jealousy.

Kouga glared at the female. “Get of my damn back, will ya? I am doing my hardest, but I am tired. Perhaps if you get off your pretty, little ass and do some work for a change, you would be tired as well.” He sneered.

Ayame huffed. She returned her intended’s glare and then said, “I am going for a walk, Kouga. Don’t wait up.”

Kouga watched the angry female leave their private den and sighed in relief. He just could not understand what was going on with him. He could not seem to get Kagome’s face out of his mind and every single time he tried to touch Ayame, he felt as though he were betraying Kagome.

Growling, he shook his head and mentally scolded himself for thinking of a bitch who had refused his advances time and time again, but then he thought of how sweet and loving Kagome was, and he felt his anger at her melt and he silently apologized for thinking of her as a bitch. Perhaps he needed to speak to a healer. This was getting ridiculous.

Kagome jumped off of Kirara’s back and waved at her friends. With a grin lighting up her face, she jumped into the well and watched as she was enveloped in the familiar blue light. Her feet finally touched ground and she looked up to stare at the well-house roof. She was back home and she could not wait to sleep in her own bed.

Climbing out of the well, Kagome made her way out of the well-house and towards her home. She reached for her key and let herself into the house. As expected, her grandfather was still up and watching a movie on the television. She walked into the living room and gave him a smile.

“Hi, grandpa.” She said, her eyes softening as she took in her grandfather’s appearance. She could not believe how frail he looked. Shaking her head, she whispered, “Grandpa, aren’t you tired?”

Grandpa smiled up at his granddaughter. She looked so much like her mother when she was Kagome’s age. He gave her a wink and asked, “Don’t you know that young fellows like me like to stay up late? Go to bed, Kagome. Your mother will want to see you in the morning.”

Kagome tilted her head to the side, but then nodded. Something did not feel right. She could tell that something was going to happen. Ever since Kikyo had taught her to read and feel people’s auras, Kagome could tell if a person was lying, telling the truth, and even how they were feeling, but with her grandfather, he just seemed tired. Shaking her head, she smiled lovingly down at the man who had raised her after her father had passed away and said, “I love you, grandpa.”

Grandpa grinned. “I love you, too, dear. Now, go to sleep and let me watch my movie.” He ordered. He listened as Kagome walked up the stairs and even heard her door close. He closed his eyes and allowed himself to engage in his favorite pastime. He used the time when everyone went to bed to allow himself to get lost in his memories and tonight, his beloved Kumika had decided to visit him. As he quietly slipped away, he saw himself and his wife on their wedding day, holding hands and promising to love each other forever.

“I will wait for you until the end of time.” Kumika whispered, her tiny hand slipping on his wedding ring.

“And I will wait for you, and nothing will keep me from finding you, my sweet Kumika.” He said, his larger hand slipping on the ring that would bind them together for the rest of their lives.

Soon, he found himself walking along a familiar path and saw the woman who had held his heart and had given to him his daughter. She looked just as she did the day he married her and even wore her wedding dress, complete with the delicate flowers that adorned her hair.

Kumika gave him a gentle smile and said, “I am so glad that you have come. I have been waiting for you.”

Grandpa took the hand that was extended towards him and smiled down at his wife. “I gave you my word that I would always find you. This time, I refuse to let you go.”

When the morning light hit the sky over the Higurashi Shrine, the only sounds that came from the house were that of loud sobbing. Yet again, Kagome had to say goodbye to a man that had held her heart.

Chapter Four

Sango and Miroku stared at the hanyou, who had his arms crossed over his chest. “No. No way in hell am I going to go and get her.” Inu Yasha snapped, his golden gaze hard.

“Inu Yasha, it has been nearly two weeks and she has as of yet to return. Perhaps something happened to her and she needs help.” Miroku said, his violet eyes narrowing.

“Don’t know and don’t care.” The hanyou said, stubbornly. He heard Sango snicker and glared over at her.

“Oh, I get it. Kikyo put you in your place and told you the facts of life and you are now taking your anger out on Kagome. Typical. How old are you again?” Sango asked, her voice mocking.

“Old enough to beat the living shit out of you.” Inu Yasha snarled, his fangs barred at the slayer.

Sango yawned and shook her head. “You could try, and when Kagome returns and finds out that you attacked one of us, she will sit you into next week, or perhaps I should go and look for Kikyo and have her sit with us to make you behave. I am sure that she would love the opportunity to make you kiss dirt.” She sneered, her dark eyes narrowing.

Inu Yasha growled loudly at the slayer, but a sound distracted him and he allowed his ears to swivel around and picked up Shippo yelling that Kagome had returned.

Glaring at the slayer, he stomped out of the hut and snapped, “It’s about time that you returned, wench. We have shards to find.”

Sango and Miroku walked out of the hut and immediately stopped. Something was wrong. Even though she did not possess any holy powers like Kagome and Miroku, she knew when someone was grieving, and Kagome was definitely in mourning.

“Kagome, what happened?” Sango cried, rushing to her friend’s side. At first, Kagome could not say the words, but finally, she whispered, “My grandpa died the night I returned to my era.”

Sango hugged Kagome to her and felt Miroku’s hands wrap around them as well. Thankfully, in times like these, he totally forgets that he is a hentai and manages to behave himself. Inu Yasha, on the other hand, did not. He huffed and snapped, “Oh, get over it already. The man is dead and gone, and there is nothing you can do about it.”

Kagome gasped as his harsh words hit her ears and she felt sick to her stomach. How could anyone be so cruel? Turning on her heel, Kagome darted back the way she came and could hear the sound of a loud smack echo through the village. Clearly, Sango felt the need to smack something and Inu Yasha was it.

She ran until she could run no more and finally collapsed in a heap. Tears streamed down her face and she shook her head. She jumped when a hand fell upon her head and she looked up into the concerned face of Kikyo.

“How did you find me?” Kagome asked, her voice cracking. She heard Kikyo sigh and then watched as the dead miko lowered herself to the ground. She made Kagome lay her head in her lap and began to stroke her hair.

“I was with you, in your mind,when Inu Yasha made his comment. I am surprised that you did not use the subduing command on him. I know that I would have. Even though you do not hold any more romantic feelings for him, you should not allow him to walk all over you. I have also decided to join your group for a while. If you will not discipline him, then I will. I have no remorse for making him eat dirt if he deserves it.” Kikyo said, a large smile plastered on her lips.

Kagome felt a small smile form, and then told Kikyo what had happened in her time. Kikyo simply held the grieving girl and rocked her, her soft words soothing Kagome to sleep. As Kagome slept, Kikyo called for her collectors and allowed them to wrap themselves around her and her reincarnation. They would be safe for the night and it looked like Kagomecould usea night of uninterrupted rest.

It disturbed Kikyo that Kagome was so shaken by the death. After everything that she had seen, she should be used to it, but then again, she was from a time that did not see death as an everyday occurrence. Stroking Kagome’s hair, Kikyo watched over the girl and waited. She could not wait to get her hands on that damn hanyou.

For nearly a month, the group traveled and helped out small villages. Kikyo had started to instruct Kagome on how to deal with people who were close to death. After her grandfather passed, a bit of Kagome’s innocence had been stripped from her and she had to learn that death was not always violent and unwelcome. From what Kagome had told her, her grandfather had accepted his death with dignity and honor, something that should be celebrated. After a while, Kagome finally began to understand what Kikyo was talking about and quickly became a source of comfort for those who were about to pass over.

Inu Yasha’s attitude was really starting to get on Kikyo’s nerves. The hanyou was so nasty to everyone and each time he was called on it, he would simply try and blame one of the members of the group on his fowl behavior. In fact, an incident during breakfast had caused the hanyou to point at Shippo and accuse him of giving off dirty looks. Kikyo looked at the small pup and then looked at Inu Yasha.

“Are you sure that you are of an age that you can be considered an adult? You are behaving like a child and to point at a creature that is smaller than you and blame him for your wretched mouth is unbecoming. Now, shut up and put your backside upon the ground before I do it for you.” She said, her eyes narrowing dangerously.

Inu Yasha huffed and pouted. He hated it when Kikyo scolded him. He glanced away and began to think of ways to get her attention that did not involve her getting upset with him. After about an hour, he finally decided that he would keep his mouth shut unless he was asked a question. It was safer that way.

As they continued to travel, Kagome noticed that they were approaching wolf territory and she grinned. She glanced over at Sango and nudged her, then pointed up at the mountains. She gave her friend a large smile and then whispered, “I wonder if Kikyo would mind if we went and visited the tribe.”

Kikyo cocked her head and smiled. She looked over her shoulder and said, “Not at all, Kagome. Why don’t you and Sango go visit with your friends and we will set up camp and wait for you. If you are going to spend the night, send Kirara back and I will take that as a sign that you plan to stay with the tribe.”

Kagome and Sango nodded. Within moments, the girls were on the giant neko’s back, and heading towards the mountains. They could hear Inu Yasha whining about losing valuable time and then they heard the tell-tale thud of Kikyo’s punishment. Clearly, someone had been pushed to the breaking point and she had the patience of a saint.

As they flew, Kagome nudged Sango and asked, “So, are you going to spar with Hakkaku again?”

Sango blushed and shrugged. She and Kagome had done a lot of talking and both were impressed with the changes that the brothers had made. When Kagome brought up the fact that Sango had basically drooled all over Hakkaku, Sango shot back that Kagome could not stop staring at Ginta. Kagome had to admit that Ginta was a very handsome wolf. With his long hair and defined body, he easily rivaled Kouga in the looks department. However, where Kouga was harsh and rushed into things without thinking, Ginta thought things out and was more patient. It was those qualities that drew Kagome to him, and every single time she thought about being in his bed, even alone, she blushed.

When they saw the tribe, they grinned at each other and then saw Ginta and Hakkaku step forward to greet them. This was definitely a place that they felt at ease and welcomed.

Ginta and Hakkaku had been talking about the upcoming winter months. They planned on storing as much food as possible during the summer and fall months so that they would not have to go through the hell that they did the previous winter. That had been hell.

They heard the wolves baying and quickly walked outside. Ginta grinned as he saw the fire neko approaching. After their last visit, Ginta had called all of his tribe members together and explained that both Kagome and Sango were to be treated as one of them, and to their delight, everyone had enthusiastically agreed. Some of the pups had even asked him if he and Kagome were going to have pups of their own, and Hakkaku had good-naturedly explained that in order to have pups, a male and female had to touch each other first.

Now as the females approached them, Ginta looked over and saw Hakkaku grinning. He had his eyes trained on Sango and when the females landed, he walked over and helped her off. Ginta had helped Kagome off and quickly brought her in for a hug.

Even though she were surprised, Kagome quickly returned the hug that Ginta had given to her, and she sighed happily. It was such a nice feeling to be accepted, and she felt that Ginta truly did accept her, not for what she could do, but just because she was Kagome.

Hakkaku had as of yet to let go of Sango’s hand. He glanced over at Kirara and smiled when several of the pups gathered around her and began to pet her. Soon, they were probably going to start crawling all over the neko, and he warned Sango that they would probably have to rescue her before too long. Sango laughed and explained that Kirara was very good with kids and would probably play with them before finding a nice quiet spot to lay down and asleep.

Watching his brother walk away with the slayer, Ginta pulled back and looked down into Kagome’s bright eyes.

“I am so glad that you came back, Kagome. How have you been?” He asked, his claw gently brushing a stray piece of hair from her face.

Kagome’s smile faded a bit, but then replied, “We have been looking for shards.” Ginta cocked his head when he noticed the faint scent of sadness laced within her natural scent. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders and said, “Let’s go into the den and we can talk.”

Nodding, Kagome allowed the wolf to walk her into the den and she noticed that many of the human females were staring at her. Curious, she turned and asked, “Do I have something on my face?”

Ginta looked down and shook his head. “Nope, why?” He asked. “All of the women are staring at me and I was just wondering.” Kagome replied.

Ginta glanced behind them and narrowed his eyes. Suddenly, they were looking else where and Ginta smirked. Once they were safely inside of his private den, Ginta moved over to his bedding and sat down. He patted the space next to him and then leaned against the wall. Once she was next to him, he asked, “What has happened to make you so sad? Did the mutt harm you?”

Shaking her head, Kagome said, “No, surprisingly Inu Yasha has been behaving himself a lot better now that Kikyo has joined our group. Remember when we were last here?”

Ginta slowly nodded. How could he forget? He had spent that night sniffing his bedding and savoring her sweet scent. Even now, thinking about her scent caused him to blush. Thankfully, Kagome did not notice and continued with her story.

“When I returned home to my era, my grandpa was sitting up and we joked around for a few moments. Then, he told me to go to bed and before I left, I told him that I loved him and he said it back to me. I could tell that something was not right about him, but I let it go and went to sleep. I woke up to the sounds of my mom and brother crying. Grandpa had passed away in the middle of the night.” She whispered. She could feel her eyes prickling with tears and she angrily wiped at them, silently cursing herself for looking weak in front of Ginta.

The wolf, however, simply reached over and grasped her hands. “Never be ashamed to cry over the loss of someone that you love. It is alright to cry for them. It is the natural way to mourn them.” He said, his hands tightening slightly on Kagome’s smaller hands as if reassuring her that he did not think anything bad about her. He gave her a soft smile and asked, “What did your friends say? I am sure that Sango and the monk helped you mourn, but did the hanyou provide you with any comfort?”

Kagome’s face turned hard. “He told me to get over it. That he was dead and gone.” She spat, her eyes flashing with anger. She heard a low growl and looked over at Ginta. The wolf’s fangs were now showing and his eyes had started to tint red. She gulped and placed her hand on his arm.

“Ginta?” She cautiously asked. The wolf slowly looked over at her and leaned towards her. He snuffed at her and then took in a deep, calming breath. When he felt that he had gotten his wolf back under control, he gave Kagome a shaky smile and said, “When a wolf youkai feels that a member of their pack has been treated poorly, it tends to want to come out and rectify the situation by tearing the problem apart. My wolf sees you as a part of this pack and under its protection.”

Kagome grinned and nodded. She could remember when Kouga had given her the exact same explanation about a year and a half ago. She sighed and placed her head on Ginta’s shoulder. She closed her eyes and whispered, “You want to know something? I really like being here.”

Ginta grinned and placed his head on top of hers. “I’m glad. You will always have a place here with me, I mean, the pack.” He said, blushing. He had not meant to slip and say that she would always have a place with him, but when she placed her head on his shoulder, his heart had started to beat faster and his body began to heat up, his mouth decided to speak before his brain could catch up. This woman was going to be the death of him.

Kagome sighed happily and relaxed. She felt his arms wrap around her and he lifted her up and into his lap. Her body was then covered with fur and she heard him whisper for her to have sweet dreams.

Ginta sat and watched the small miko as she slept in his arms. He could not seem to take his eyes off of her and he really did not want to. Leaning his head down, he nuzzled his face into her hair. While taking in her scent, he thought, ‘I could really get used to this.’

Hakkaku held the squirming slayer down and allowed the wolves to lick her mercilessly. He grinned as she began to scream for help and he shook his head. Now it was time to begin to claim what belonged to him.

“What will you give to you if I help you?” He asked, his eyes trained on her face. Sango gasped and opened her eyes. The wolves were relentless and she found it hard to speak, but she managed to ask, “What do you want?”

Hakkaku pretended to think for a moment, and lifted his index finger to tap his chin. After a few moments more of the wolves tormenting Sango, he looked down and said, “I want a kiss.”

She had heard his request and glared up at him. So, this was his game, was it? Fine, she was a master at this game. “Alright, you win. Make them stop first.” She gasped, her eyes pleading to his.

Hakkaku grinned at his victory and told the wolves to stop. Sango slowly sat up and looked at the wolf, who was looking at her expectantly. Leaning forward, she gave him a seductive smile and then told him to close his eyes. When he obeyed, Sango quickly pecked his cheek and was up and running from him.

Hakkaku’s eyes snapped open and he glared at Sango. That was not the kind of kiss he wanted. He got up and began to run after Sango. “Oi. That was not what I meant when I said that I wanted a kiss.” He yelled, his eyes moving down to watch her backside as she ran.

“And you never said where you wanted the kiss, either.” Sango replied, her voice merry. She laughed and darted into the den and yelled for Kagome to help her. She ran into Ginta’s den and stopped quickly when she saw Ginta glaring at her, and a sleepy Kagome rubbing her eyes.

“What’s wrong, Sango? Don’t tell me that Inu Yasha is here to collect us.” Kagome mumbled. Sango gave the couple an apologetic look and shook her head.

“No, Hakkaku is chasing me and I want to hide.” She said, sheepishly. She felt Hakkaku’s strong arms wrap around her waist and Sango squealed. She looked pleadingly at Ginta and Kagome and said, “Kagome, help me.”

Kagome wanted to go back to sleep. She had been having such a good dream and wanted nothing more than to curl back up in Ginta’s arms and return to it, so she glanced at Hakkaku and said, “She is ticklish underneath her arms and under her knees.”

Sango gasped and heard the wolf behind her chuckle. He quickly turned her around and lifted her up and over his shoulder. He gave his brother a wink and then said, “Thanks, Kagome.”

Turning around, he had to stop himself from laughing when Sango grumbled, “Thanks a lot, you traitor.”

Sango sighed as Kagome shrugged and then snuggled her head in the crook of Ginta’s neck. It was clear that the wolf brought her friend the kind of peace that she had never known with the inu hanyou. From the look on his face, Ginta felt a lot more for Kagome that she had originally thought. When she had cuddled up to him, the wolf leader’s eyes closed and a small smile appeared on his lips. They made a very cute couple.

Sango’s attention was quickly brought back to her situation when Hakkaku finally came to a stop and gently laid her down on a bunch of furs. Yawning, the wolf gave her a smile and said, “I think that our friends have had a good idea. A nap sounds really good right now.”

Sango watched as he crawled up behind her and laid down. His arm snaked around her waist and he pulled her closer to his body. For a moment, Sango was stunned. This was the second meeting they had and now she was in bed with him. Oh, yeah, her father would have had a fit. She felt him nudge her and heard him whisper, “Relax, Sango. I am not going to bite you, at least not yet. Just go to sleep. I promise that my hands will behave themselves.”

Sango slowly nodded and closed her eyes. She took in a deep breath and then forced herself to relax. She must have been a lot more tired than what she had originally thought because it only took a few minutes before she was flung into the land of dreams.

Hakkaku had fibbed. He was not really that tired. He simply wanted to lay next to Sango and hold her. Seeing Ginta and Kagome had given him the idea to make one ofhis wishes come true, and sure enough, his slayer had relaxed so much that she had fallen asleep. It was nice to hold her and not have to worry about the female simply wanting to get close to him because of his station.

Closing his eyes, he took in a deep breath and pulled her closer to him. For now, this was enough for him. His plan was working out better than he had hoped.

Inu Yasha glared at the group before him and then sighed. Damn Kagome and Sango. They had to go off and flirt with those damn wolves and here he was, bored to tears, and sporting a handprint on the side of his face. Clearly, Kikyo did not appreciate the way he commented her on her outfit. All he said what that her outfit fit her so well that he could see her pink nipples through the haori. All he remembered was seeing her handrear back and then opened his eyes to find thatShippo wasabout to pour cold water on him. He had to wonder if Miroku ever found the kitsune after he threw the child deep into the forest; bucket and all.

He dared a glance at the miko and asked, “When will we go and get those two lazy bitches? Haven’t they fooled around long enough?”

Kikyo leveled a cool glance at the hanyou and said, “I think that we will leave them alone for a while. Kagome’s heart is being mended by a man who will not betray her or leave her side, and though both are trying to fight it, it will only be a matter of time before they are unable to fight what their heart desires.”

Inu Yasha snorted. “Please, spare me. Kagome loves me. She always has, and always will.” He said, his tone arrogant.

Kikyo fought the urge to roll her eyes. “She does love you, but as a friend. Do not forget, I know what she thinks and how she feels, and I can tell you that you have been replaced.

Kikyo watched as the hanyou’s face fell. She smirked when she heard him ask, “How could she do this to me?”

“You did it to yourself, you selfish wretch. Now, be a good little doggie, and be quiet. I am trying to relax, and so help me if you don’t behave, I will you-know-what-you until you can’t walk.” She warned, her flashing eyes telling him that arguing would be fatal.

Miroku finally emerged with the small kit, who was glaring at the hanyou with hate-filled eyes. Kikyo have a soft laugh and held out her hands for the little one. She laid him over her legs and began to gently remove the thorns that were embedded in his backside. When she finally pulled the last thorn, Shippo turned to Kikyo and asked, “When is Kagome coming back? She didn’t forget about me, did she?”

Shaking her head, the miko replied, “No, Shippo. She did not forget about you at all. She will return, if not tonight, then in the morning. Right now, she and Sango are enjoying themselves and I think that this time away is good for them.”

Smiling at the kit, she offered to play a game with him to pass the time. Thankfully, that got his mind off of the missing girls and they played for nearly two hours. When night fell, they settled down for dinner, and Kikyo was relieved that Inu Yasha had chosen to remain silent.

Once dinner was completed, Kikyo told the males that she would be back shortly and that they were to behave. After she left, Inu Yasha glared at the monk and kit before saying, “That’s it. They have been gone long enough. We are wasting time while Kagome and Sango whore themselves out for a pair of loser wolves and I am sick of waiting. I will be back in a while and they will be with me.”

Shippo and Miroku looked at each other, and Shippo was about to tell him not to go, but Miroku shushed the kit and smiled at the hanyou. “Do whatever you think is best, my friend.” He said, his voice calm.

Nodding, Inu Yasha bounded off, and Shippo turned to Miroku. “You know that you just made sure that Kikyo is going to hurt him, right?” He asked accusingly.

Miroku nodded. “Yes, and that will teach Inu Yasha not to meddle in Lady Kagome and Lady Sango’s affairs, especially affairs that deal with the heart.” He said, crossing his arms over his chest.

Shippo smirked and nodded. He could not wait until Kikyo came back to find the hanyou gone. He was sure that what she did to Inu Yasha would leave everything that Kagome had done to him in the dust. Unlike Kagome, Kikyo just didn’t give a damn about the hanyou’s feelings.

Settling down, the monk and kit watched the fire and thought about the events that were about to come. It would truly be a night to remember.

Ginta, Kagome, Hakkaku, and Sango were all sitting together and talking as they ate dinner. Kagome could not understand why Ginta made her so nervous. She had crushes before, but this was something totally different. Not even Inu Yasha made her feel this jumpy. She laughed as Hakkaku and Sango began to bicker back and forth, their argument only settling when Sango jumped onto the wolf’s back and pinned him to the ground.

“I win!” Sango announced proudly, her head held high. She gasped when the wolf threw her off of him and then scrambled on top of her. He smirked and asked, “Who won? Oh, yeah. I won.”

Sango glared up at him and then glanced over at Kagome. Her friend was smiling and she decided that it was time to get Kagome involved in the game. She pushed Hakkaku off of her and went to sit down with her friend. She waited until Hakkaku and Ginta were involved in a conversation and then leaned over and whispered, “I need your help, alright?”

Kagome giggled and nodded. They planned out their attack and then quickly finished up their dinner. The males told the girls that they wanted to go inside and helped the girls to their feet. They walked into the den and headed for Ginta’s den. After Ginta and Hakkaku sat down, Sango winked at Kagome and they sat down, Kagome on Hakkaku’s left, Sango on Hakkaku’s right.

Hakkaku knew that he was about to be ambushed. He looked at his brother, who was watching Kagome very carefully. He was about to shift a bit, but then Sango coughed and suddenly, Hakkaku was attacked by two very beautiful women, and quickly brought to the ground.

Both women began to tickle the wolf and he began to whine and barked at his brother for him to come over and make the fight fair. He watched as Ginta smirked and then slid quietly off of his bedding to come up behind Kagome.

Kagome squeaked in surprise when a pair of muscled arms wrapped around her and lifted her up. She found herself sprawled on her back with Ginta hovering over her, a grin plastered on his face.

“Now, now Kagome. That was not nice, attacking poor Hakkaku. Let’s see what we can do to punish you.” He said, his tone playful.

The rest of the tribe listened as their leadersgrowled and the two females laughed. The males were wondering why Ginta and Hakkaku were taking so long to claim the females, and it made their human mates laugh when they voiced their questions.

“Human women,” One of the females explained, “are not like youkai females. We like to be courted, romanced, and that is what the leaders are doing. It is clear to all of us that there is an attraction, but it is up to them to decide when they act on that attraction. For now, they are going at the pace that they are comfortable with.”

Her mate nodded and hugged her. Though wolf youkai usually took their mates by force, seeing their leaders court the human women made the unmated males rethink their approach to mating. If their leaders were this happy, then perhaps they, too, could find happiness in courting a desired female.

After they settled down, Sango and Kagome relaxed against the males. Kagome placed her head on Ginta’s shoulder and felt him wrap his arm around her shoulders. Sango yawned and felt Hakkaku pull her down until her head was resting in his lap. They talked about several things and finally, the two femalesfell asleep, leaving the males to themselves.

Hakkaku looked down at his chosen female and brushed her hair out of her eyes. He smiled at the sight she made, and then looked at his brother. Ginta, too, had pulled Kagome down so that her head was in his lap and he was stroking the soft skin of her cheek.

“You know, we are two very messed up wolves.” Hakkaku said, grinning. His brother looked up and stared at him. “Here we are, leaders of this pack, and we can’t simply tell two human females that we are falling for them. Do you think that they like us the way we like them?” He asked, his tone hopeful.

Ginta shrugged. “I don’t know. I really do care for Kagome. I would love nothing more than to be with her, but I remember all the times Kouga tried to court her and nothing worked.” He said, his eyes trained on the young miko’s face.

“Yeah, but you have had much more success with her than Kouga ever did. Remember when we would see her with her group and he would pay more attention to that mutt than to Kagome? I think that he would have had better luck with her if he simply ignored the hanyou and focused on her.” Hakkaku said, slowly.

Ginta shrugged. He saw Hakkaku reach down and gently lift Sango into his arms. “We are going back to my den. It’s late and the girls have had a long day.” He said as he tightened his grip on Sango.

Ginta nodded. He watched his brother leave his den and then smiled down at Kagome. “I wonder if you feel for me the way I feel for you.” He whispered as he lay down next to Kagome. He was about to close his eyes when he heard the loud voice of the hanyou.

Sighing, he quickly got up and walked into the main den. Hakkaku was already there, and he looked mad.

“Will you shut the hell up, you idiot? Every one is asleep and they don’t need your loud voice to disturb them.” Hakkaku growled, his eyes narrowing.

Ginta walked up to them and asked, “What are you doing here, Inu Yasha?” He watched as the hanyou turned to look at him and scowl.

“Where the hell are Kagome and Sango? They need to get their asses out here right now. We are going back to camp.” Inu Yasha replied, his hand on the hilt of his sword.

“Kagome and Sango are asleep and will not be leaving until tomorrow, and only then if they want.” Hakkaku barked, his claws ready to strike. He had wanted to battle something and here it was, right before him, ready and waiting.

Ginta placed his hand upon his brother’s shoulder. He glanced over at the hanyou and said, “Hakkaku is right. Kagome and Sango are part of this tribe and under our protection. If they choose to leave, then they may, however, if they wish to stay, they have a home with us and our people.”

Inu Yasha smirked. “Let me guess, you two fools are in love with Sango and Kagome. Sango, I can understand, but Kagome is nothing but a weak, little girl who cannot protect herself.” He sneered.

“All the more reason for her to stay here with us. We are more than able to protect her, and cancare for her needsbetter than you can. Leave this den, Inu Yasha. Leave or battle us, but be warned, you will not win.” Ginta said, his eyes beginning to bleed red. How dare that damn mutt disrespect a woman as kind as Kagome.

Before the hanyou could respond, a cold, feminine voice said, “Inu Yasha, we need to talk.”

The brothers watched as Inu Yasha’s ears wilted and heard him whisper, “Oh, shit.” Clearly, someone was about to get it and they hoped that they would be allowed to watch.

Chapter Five

Ginta and Hakkaku watched as a woman who strongly resembled Kagome moved towards the hanyou. It was clear that the mutt knew that he was in trouble and it delighted both wolves to see him finally shut his damn mouth.

Kikyo glanced over at the pair of wolves and nodded in satisfaction at the wolf who had started to claim Kagome’s mind and heart. Clearly, the wolf was protective of her reincarnation and would do anything to take care of her. For a youkai to accept an outsider, a human no less, into its pack was unusual, especially if the human and youkai were not mated.

Inu Yasha watched as Kikyo glanced over at the wolves. He could feel his pulse speeding up at a flash of jealousy ran through his body. However, when her dark eyes turned on him, he quickly calmed down and hesitantly said, “I can explain.”

“I am sure you can. So, go ahead. Thrill me with your explanation.” Kikyo said, crossing her arms over her chest.

She watched as the hanyou shifted from one foot to the other and looked down at the ground, but nothing came from his mouth. Finally, she huffed and impatiently snapped, “Well?”

Inu Yasha’s golden eyes snapped up and he sighed. What could he say? He got caught. All he wanted to do was drag those two lazy bitches back to camp so that they could start out early the next morning.

“Forget it. Just sit me already.” He mumbled, his eyes darting to the ground again. He waited for the dreaded words, but was shocked when they did not come. Instead, Kikyo turned her back on him and said, “Come along, Inu Yasha. We have taken enough of the wolves’ time already. We will settle this at camp.”

Glancing over at the wolf brothers, Inu Yasha grew furious when he saw them smirking at them. That wolf, Hakkaku, silently mouthed the word, ‘bitch’, at him. Flexing his claws, Inu Yasha was about to go over and shove his fist into Hakkaku’s mouth, but Kikyo turned to look at him and snapped, “Let’s go. I don’t have all night.”

Trotting after his dead love, Inu Yasha got to the mouth of the cave and then turned. He smirked and then flipped both wolves off before rushing out and joining Kikyo. After they were gone, Hakkaku and Ginta snickered and then wished each other a good night.

Walking back into his den, Ginta gently climbed on his bed and molded his body next to Kagome’s. He grabbed the furs and spread them over their bodies before throwing his arm over Kagome’s waist. Once he was comfortable, his eyes closed and he was soon asleep. It was the best night’s sleep he had gotten in several months.

Kouga looked up at the night’s sky and sighed. For the past few days, he had been avoiding Ayame. Something was not right and he began to think back to when she had come to visit him at his mountains. He should have known that she was up to something, but like a dumbass, he did not think and now, he was in a situation that he simply did not want to be in.

He had made several friends at the northern mountains, but his closest companion was a wolf by the name of Kovu. It was Kovu who had told him that Ayame was not in her right mind. Several weeks before she had visited him, she had been going around the tribe and screaming about how she had been replaced in Kouga’s heart by a stupid human bitch.

Kovu had also told him that Ayame had been training with the healer and had become quite proficient with herbs and certain magics. That got Kouga’s mind to start working. If Ayame was good with herbs and spells, there could be a chance that she had enchanted him while she was at his mountain.

As he continued to think, he paled at the realization that he had walked away from his tribe, leaving them with no food or furs, and that he had also left them defenseless. When he had appointed Ginta as the new leader, he was sure that the younger wolf had probably shit himself. Ginta knew nothing of being a leader. In fact, both Ginta and Hakkaku were probably lost without him.

He sat down and allowed his mind to wander to Kagome. He could feel his body react as he allowed her image to enter his mind’s eye and he sighed. He would give anything to be able to touch her, even just once. Kagome did things to him that no other woman had been able to do and yet, he had thrown her away for that redheaded nightmare that he was supposed to be mating with. He could clearly hear himself tell Ginta to warn Kagome to stay away from him and he shook his head. What in the hell had he been thinking?

Kovu stepped up behind his new leader and shook his head. He knew that Kouga was thinking of that miko, Kagome. They had spoken a great deal about the human woman and it was clear that Kouga was in love with her. When he had told Kouga to watch out for Ayame, he felt the need to leave out the part that Ayame was about to be kicked out of the tribe for her disrespectful attitude. In fact, it was because of Kouga that she was being allowed to stay, but she was not liked at all.

Smirking, Kovu crouched down and began to bark as loudly as he could, startling Kouga and causing the new northern leader to tumble off of the rock he was sitting on. When he stood up, Kouga glared at Kovu, who shrugged.

“Well, blame yourself for not paying attention.” Kovu said, his dark eyes glittering mischievously.

Kouga barred his fangs at his new friend, but then sighed. He watched as Kovu sat down and then said, “I have been doing some thinking. I want to go back to the eastern den to check up on them. I am aware that they have managed to survive the winter, but I would feel better to know how they are doing.”

“You won’t be welcomed, Kouga. They probably see you as a traitor and you will probably be attacked. I tell you what. My mate is driving me crazy and I would not mind going off for a few days, so why don’t I go and check up on the den. I will tell them that the elders are curious as to how they are fairing with their new leader.” Kovu said.

Kouga thought for a minute and then slowly nodded his head. Yeah, that sounded like a good plan. Nodding, Kouga told Kovu to get ready to leave. The younger wolf was happy to comply. Once he was gone, Kouga looked up at the sky and prayed that his former tribe was safe and sound.

He did not hear the dainty footsteps behind him, so he jumped when a pair of hands wrapped around his waist.

“I found you, my sweet.” A feminine voice purred. “Oh, shit.” Kouga thought, as his nose picked up the ever-present arousal of his mate-to-be, Ayame.

Inu Yasha was so sore and hurt in places that he did not know existed. He grimaced a bit as he shifted and then whined, “I already said that I was sorry, Kikyo. Can’t you forgive me?”

Kikyo shook her head. “Let this be a lesson to you, Inu Yasha. Kagome and Sango deserve to have other friends. If you ever go back to that mountain and disturb them, I will not be as kind in dealing with you as I was tonight, am I clear?” She asked, her tone hard.

Gulping, Inu Yasha nodded and then sighed. He simply could not understand how he could get back into his woman’s good graces. All he wanted to do was find those jewel shards and get stronger.

After about an hour of silence, Kikyo announced that she was going to go to bed, and called for her soul collectors to wrap around her and the small kitsune. Once she was sure that the kit was warm, she bid the men a good night and set up a barrier to keep them safe as they slept.

After half an hour passed, Miroku looked over at Inu Yasha and asked, “Why do you insist on putting Lady Kagome through so much heartache?”

“I’m not putting her through anything.” Inu Yasha snapped, his ears flattening to his skull. He watched as the monk shifted, and then heard him say, “Yes, you are. Do you not understand that the night that you two slept together, she gave you her virginity and you acted as though it were no big deal. Now, another seems to want her, and you are doing everything in your power to take that away from her and I am curious as to why.”

Inu Yasha growled at the monk, but did not answer. Instead, he jumped into a tree and settled on a limb. He tried to relax his body, but sleep simply would not come. Instead, he could hear Miroku’s question echo through his mind, and it bothered him a lot more than what he was willing to admit. Why was he so upset about Kagome being around another male? He didn’t want her. He wanted Kikyo. Ah, it was probably the fact that she had a promise to keep to him and he did not want her to break it. Yeah, that was it.

Finally, he was satisfied and closed his eyes. Sleep finally came and he was grateful. It had been a long and trying day.

When dawn arrived, Kagome awoke to find herself wrapped up in Ginta’s arms with his tail wrapped securely around her waist. She felt him shift a bit and she grinned as he tightened his embrace around her.

Ginta knew that she was awake. He had been awake and enjoying the way she felt in his arms for nearly an hour, and now that she had awoken, he found that he did not want to let her go.

But, when she began to wiggle a bit, he sighed and released her from his arms, but his tail was still firmly in place. She wasn’t getting away from him that easily.

Kagome looked down and saw that Ginta’s tail was still around her. Curious, she reached down and began to pet it, wondering what would happen. She broke out into giggles when the wolf behind her began to purr loudly.

Ginta’s body went rigid when Kagome’s tiny hands began to stroke his tail. To have one’s tail stroked was a very pleasurable way to heighten arousal and he gnashed his teeth together in an effort to stop himself from leaping onto the miko and taking her for his mate.

Quickly unwinding his tail, Ginta took in a deep breath and watched as Kagome turned and faced him.

“Are you alright?” She asked, her eyes shining with concern. Taking in another deep breath, Ginta slowly exhaled, and said, “Yeah, I’m fine. For canine youkai, having our tail stroked is the equivalent to foreplay for humans.”

Kagome blushed a very pretty red and he laughed. He could tell that she was embarrassed, and he shook his head. “I did enjoy it though.” He said. He watched as a smile broke out onto her face and she laughed.

“Well, I aim to please.” She said. After a few more minutes in bed, Ginta groaned and got up, his hand reaching for his armor. It was time to lead his pack.

Following his lead, Kagome got out of the bed and went to her backpack. She opened it and reached for her hairbrush. She quickly brushed her hair and then glanced over at her companion. His hair had come loose and she quickly went to his side.

Ginta had watched as Kagome groomed herself, and then saw her look over at him. She approached him and then pushed him so that he fell down onto the bed. Climbing behind him, he felt her take a handful of his hair and then felt the most wonderful thing in the world.

Kagome smiled as Ginta relaxed in her grasp. She ran her brush through his long locks and listened as he began to purr. She loved the softness of his hair and silently cursed him for having such pretty hair. When she was finally done, she pulled his hair back and tied it back for him. Stepping away, she critically surveyed his work and nodded in satisfaction.

Ginta smiled at the young woman and then stood up. He watched as she placed the brush back into her backpack and then lifted the pack over her shoulder.

“I really hate to do it, but Sango and I have to get back to our group. Inu Yasha is going to want to push forward today and I really don’t want to have to listen to his loud mouth for any longer than what I have to.” Kagome said, her voice soft.

Stepping close to her, Ginta allowed his claw to rest underneath her chin and he gently lifted his finger until he met her eyes.

“You have a home with us. Remember that. No matter what that mutt says, you don’t have to take his abuse and I want to know if he begins to take that abuse beyond what it is now.” He said, his tone leaving no room for arguments.

Nodding, Kagome smiled up at the handsome wolf before her. Finally, Hakkaku yelled into the den that breakfast was served and Ginta sighed. Taking Kagome’s hand in his, he led her out of the den and over to where his brother and Sango were sitting.

Once breakfast was done, Kagome and Sango agreed that it was time to head back, but did promise both males that they would return soon. Ginta quickly brought Kagome into his arms for a hug and held her for several minutes as Hakkaku did the same with Sango. But, this time, Hakkaku pulled back and looked down into Sango’s pretty face. Without a word, he allowed his lips to fall upon hers and smirked when he heard her gasp.

He fought the urge to allow his tongue to enter her mouth, and instead, settled for a simple, unrushed kiss. When they broke apart, Hakkaku watched as Sango lifted her hand to her lips and blushed. It was a good sign.

After the females had departed, Hakkaku walked over to where Ginta stood, and placed his hand upon his brother’s shoulder.

“I really enjoyed that visit.” He said, his lips still tingling after tasting his future woman. He watched as his brother nodded. Finally, Ginta turned and squared his shoulders.

“Come on. We have a tribe to lead.” He said, and began to bark orders at the men. Soon, the tribe was involved in their daily duties, and the two leaders were hard at work planning for the next winter.

Kouga growled loudly and snapped his fangs in aggravation. When Ayame had found him the night before, he could smell the scent of another wolf on her, meaning that she had decided to take it upon herself and take a lover on the side. Normally, that was acceptable, but when it came to the mate-to-be of a leader, it was not acceptable, simply due to the fact that the leader was the strongest male and deserved total respect and devotion, especially from his woman, even if he did not really want her.

When he had called her on it, she did not bother to lie. She simply said that she was tired of waiting for him to take her and that she had decided to take a lover until he could get it up and keep it up.

He had snapped, “Well, if I had a woman who was worth keeping it up for, we would not be having this discussion.”

Ayame’s green eyes began to bleed red and she growled, “And I suppose that the woman you want is a certain human bitch who needs someone to hold her hand each time she takes a piss.”

Shrugging, Kouga turned away from the angered female and replied, “Actually, any woman would do, as long as that woman was not you.”

Screaming in anger, Ayame launched herself at Kouga and began to claw and bite him. It had taken a few minutes, but he finally subdued her and called for a couple of the men. When they arrived, Kouga shoved the irate female into their arms and growled, “That woman just attacked me. I want her held for trial.”

The two guards nodded and had to carry Ayame away. She was hissing and screaming that she would get even with him if it were the last thing she did. When he was alone, he had gone to bed and had actually gotten a decent night’s sleep.

Now, as he stood beside Kovu, he said, “You know what to do, so get to it. I will watch after your mate while you are gone. Kovu, I want you to know that I appreciate this.”

Kovu shrugged. “Don’t worry about it. Just do me a favor and stay away from Ayame. That bitch has lost her mind.” He muttered as he began to leave the den. It would take him nearly a week before he would get to the eastern den, but it would be well worth it. He, too, was curious to find out how the other tribe had faired. He would also do his leader another favor. He would find out about that miko, Kagome. His leader was still very much in love with her and it would do him some good to hear that she was in good condition. Yeah, that is exactly what he would do.

His mind made up, Kovu broke out into a run and headed east. He could not wait to get to his destination.

Chapter Six

A week had passed and once again, Kagome and Sango found themselves back at the den. This time, however, they did not return with good moods. Inu Yasha had called them both ‘lazy bitches’ and then informed them that they were not to see the wolf brothers anymore.

Sango had to be held back by Miroku. She was so angry and had begun to scream curses at the hanyou. Kagome, on the other hand, did not do anything. She calmly stood up and looked at Kikyo, who was watching the scene with narrowed eyes.

“I think that it might be best if Sango and I stay away from Inu Yasha for a while. Would it bother you if we left the group for a while, at least until Inu Yasha decides to stop being an ass?” She asked, ignoring the angry mutters that were coming from the hanyou.

Kikyo sighed. She had just known that this was going to happen. Inu Yasha was driving the females away and she was not going to stand in their way from finding happiness. Nodding at Kagome, she smiled. “Perhaps you can take Miroku and Shippo along with you? Inu Yasha, I am afraid, needs some obedience training.” She said, glaring over at the silver-haired male.

Kagome grinned. Nodding, she told Sango to get ready and called for both Miroku and Shippo. Soon they were gone and Kikyo slowly turned to Inu Yasha.

“Well, now. You have finally gotten your wish. We are alone. So, let’s see if it is everything that you imagined that it would be.” She said, her tone dry.

Inu Yasha watched as his love came closer to him and gulped. He could not help but feel a bit uneasy at the smirk that had crossed her lips. Clearly, he was in deep shit.

After arriving, Ginta and Hakkaku quickly explained the rules of the den to Miroku. The brothers had been warned by the unmated females that should the monk return and approached them with behavior that was anything less than respectful; they would not hesitate to put him in his place.

Once they were satisfied that he understood, Ginta quickly grabbed Kagome’s bag and led her into the den. He knew that he should give her an empty den, but he simply could not get a decent night’s sleep without her near and he had finally admitted to himself that he wanted her for his own.

Kagome blushed as she and Ginta walked to his private den. They had shared a bed the last time she was there and now, it looked as though they were going to share a bed again. The thought of waking up in his arms made Kagome’s body heat and she could not help but look forward to nightfall.

Hakkaku and Sango had decided to go off together and did not return for a couple of hours. When they did return, Kagome noticed that Sango’s lips were slightly bruised and her hair was messed up in the back. Grinning, she caught Sango’s eye and made a kissy-face at her.

Sango blushed and quickly looked down. She and Hakkaku had decided on taking a walk and after a while, they had come to a small meadow. They had sat down and started to talk, but soon, Hakkaku began to nuzzle her cheek with his nose and had also started to rub her shoulders. At first, his attention felt weird, but after he had kissed her, all of her questions and doubts flew out of the window. They had spent quite a bit of time making out in the meadow and when they noticed that it was getting late, neither was anxious to leave. But, Sango’s stomach growled and Hakkaku had laughed and promised that they could return to their activities later.

Dinner was a very pleasant affair, and Miroku managed to keep his hands to himself. It turned out that among the female wolf youkai, there is one who is also known for being a hentai, and when they were introduced, she and Miroku got along quite well.

As dinner was about to end, one of the guards shouted that a stranger was approaching. Standing up, Ginta and Hakkaku looked over at where the guard was pointing and saw that a wolf had appeared. They kept watch as the strange wolf approached and when he was close enough, Ginta said, “I am Ginta, leader of the eastern wolf pack. Who are you and what business do you have here?”

Kovu studied the leader with curious eyes. This male was not what he had expected. Kouga’s description of Ginta was that he was a coward and trembled when spoken to, but this male was anything but cowardly, and it was very clear that he was dominant.

“My name is Kovu and I come from the northern mountains. The elders have sent me to check upon your tribe and to see if you and you people need anything.” Kovu said, his eyes wandering down to the little female that was sitting at the new leader’s feet.

His eyes widening, Kovu wondered if the female was the miko that Kouga had told him about. She wore strange clothes and was staring up at Ginta. It was clear to Kovu that the female admired the new leader, and if she was Kagome, he knew that it would break Kouga’s heart.

Ginta narrowed his eyes as he watched Kovu stare at Kagome. Without thinking, Ginta reached down and pulled Kagome up and into his protective embrace. He growled, letting the other wolf know that Kagome was off limits. The wolf seemed stunned, but quickly recovered.

“So, is there anything that you need?” Kovu asked, his eyes once more darting over to Kagome.

“Yeah, there is something that you can do. Tell Kouga that it was a nice try, but we don’t want a damn thing from him.” Ginta sneered. Just who in the hell did this wolf think he was? Did he honestly think that he would not know that it was Kouga who had sent him?

Kovu sighed. “Listen, what happened was not Kouga’s fault. I believe that Ayame drugged him. She has been training with a healer for quite some time and I am pretty sure that she used the knowledge that she received from the healer to create something that helped her. Kouga feels guilty over what has happened, and still cares for this tribe.” He said, his tone desperate.

Hakkaku snorted and came to stand beside his brother. “Really? He didn’t seem so concerned when he and that bitch took off for the northern mountains, leaving us and our people with no food, furs, or protection. We lost quite a few men during invasions and now, he feels guilty? You have got to be kidding me.” He snapped, his tail swishing around angrily.

“As I said, this is Ayame’s doing. I must also ask a question. I was asked to speak to a human female named Kagome. Can you tell me where she is?” Kovu asked, already knowing the answer, but he had to see if his suspicions were correct.

Ginta snarled and pulled Kagome closer to him. “She is right here, and if you want to speak with her, do it in my presence.” He said, his tone low and dangerous.

Kovu nodded. He looked at Kagome, who had wrapped her arms around the angered wolf’s waist. He gave her a soft smile and said, “Please know that Kouga is not angry with you. He knows that you have never promised yourself to him and he regrets telling Master Ginta to tell you to never come near him again. He has asked me to tell you that you have nothing to fear from him and hopes that your friendship is still intact.”

Kagome heard Ginta’s low growl. She glanced over at Kovu and whispered, “Thank you for telling me.”

“Ok, you have spoken with her. Now, you can return to the north.” Ginta said as he released Kagome from his grasp and walked back into his den alone.

Kagome stared after Ginta, and then looked at Sango and Hakkaku. Sango shook her head and shrugged. Hakkaku glared at Kovu and snapped, “Well…aren’t you going to leave? We don’t like northerners around here.”

Nodding, Kovu turned and quickly ran from the den. His suspicions confirmed, he needed to get back and tell Kouga about what he had seen. He had no doubt in his mind that his friend would become angry to know that his former underling had taken the woman he had wanted away from him. It was not going to be pretty.

Kagome looked over at Hakkaku, who was staring at the ground. Finally, she asked, “Umm, Hakkaku, did I do something wrong?”

Sighing, Hakkaku asked, “Why didn’t you tell Kovu to tell Kouga to go to hell? You know the kind of pain that we have went through, and yet, you were kind. Why?”

“I suppose that part of me wants to believe that Kouga was not responsible for his behavior. Another part of me is so angry with him for betraying you, and all I want to do is throw subduing beads around his neck and sit him for the next year. However, it is not my place to be nasty to Kovu. He was simply the messenger.” She explained. She glanced over at the den and began walking towards it, knowing that Ginta was probably going to let her have it.

When she walked into the den, she heard Ginta snap, “I never would have figured you for a traitor, Kagome.”

Kagome felt as though she had been kicked in her stomach. However, she squared her shoulders and quietly said, “I did not betray you, Ginta.”

Ginta whirled around and glared at her, hate written all over his face. “Oh, yes…you did. You should have stood up for us, but instead, you are ready to restart your friendship with him as if nothing happened. Well, go ahead. Take your shit and leave.” He snarled, throwing her backpack at her feet.

For a moment, Kagome was stunned. She could feel her tears well up in her eyes and she shook her head. She bent down and picked up her pack. Once she had it secured onto her back, she turned and said, “I am sorry that you feel that way, Ginta. I simply listened to what the messenger had to say, and thanked him for his trouble. I won’t bother you anymore and I will leave the den tonight. Tell Sango that I will send Kirara back as soon as she has dropped me off at the well, please.”

The scent of salt hit his senses. Closing his eyes, Ginta took in deep breaths and allowed her words to absorb. When he thought that he had a firm grip on his anger, he turned and was about to reply to her, but found that she was gone. Shaking his head, he quickly walked from his den and headed outside.

He looked around and saw one of the females sitting near him. He walked up to her and asked, “How long ago did Kagome leave with the neko?”

The female cocked her head and replied, “She did not leave with the neko. The slayer and Hakkaku are with the neko, so she decided to walk.”

Ginta felt his face pale. It was so close to nightfall and Kagome was now walking in the forest all alone. Racing towards the woods, Ginta quickly picked up Kagome’s scent and followed it. Guilt gripping at his heart, he began to call out her name, but was not answered. He once had said that he knew what true fear was, but he had been lying. Now, he was truly scared.

Kagome sniffled and silently cursed her luck with men. She knew that she had hurt Ginta, but she simply could not bring herself to be rude to Kovu. She understood that Ginta had a right to be angry with Kouga, but he did not need to take his anger out on those from the northern tribe nor did he have to accuse her of betraying him when she did not.

She looked around and blinked. She had left the den and followed a trail that led into the woods, but now, she was no longer on the trail. She took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. Ok, now was not the time to panic.

Stepping forward, Kagome listened for any sounds that were out of the ordinary. She was cautious as she moved forward, but suddenly tripped and found herself sprawled on the ground, her skirt now bunched up at her waist.

Red-faced, Kagome tugged the skirt down and snuck a glance around, embarrassed that someone, something might have seen her pale blue panties. As she started to get up, a voice said, “Awww, you ruined my view. Whatever shall I do to punish you?”

Kagome’s eyes went wide and she gulped. Turning her head, she saw a large bear youkai leaning up against the trunk of a tree and glaring at her. Taking in a deep breath, she said, “This is wolf territory.”

The bear grinned and nodded. “Yes, it is. However, you are not a wolf, so that makes you fair game. Come here, little girl. I won’t hurt you. Much.” He said, his claws now flexing with each word.

Kagome quickly stood up and slowly backed away. With each step, the bear growled and then began to chase after her. Not giving a damn about her backpack, Kagome threw it at her attacker and prayed that it would slow him down.

She ran for several minutes, hoping to find a place to hide in, but she was suddenly grabbed and thrown down to the ground, her head hitting the hard Earth. As she struggled to keep from loosing consciousness, she could hear the sounds of cloth tearing and knew that she was about to be violated. Darkness set in, leaving Kagome totally defenseless.

The bear youkai watched in satisfaction as the human girl under him had passed out. He had grabbed up a rock and hit her in the back of the head as he slammed into her. Now, she was all his and before he killed her, he would sample the treasures that lay beneath her clothing. He tore away the strange material and was about to rip off the breast binding, when a low growl was heard.

Slowly, the bear youkai turned its head and saw a wolf youkai slowly approach him. At first, the bear did not know what to think. He had heard that the former leader, Kouga, had left for the northern mountains, and that another wolf had taken his place. From the stories, the new leader was vicious in battle and never left an opponent alive. He glanced down at the human, but was shocked at what the wolf said.

“You are in my territory with a female who is under mine and my tribe’s protection. Tell me, how loudly can you scream?” Ginta asked, his eyes beginning to bleed red as he stared at the bear. The damn fleabag had dared to touch Kagome and had harmed her. His death would be painful and drawn out.

The bear gulped and quickly stood up. “I did not know that she was under your protection. I will never cross her path again. I was just hungry.” He whined.

Ginta shrugged. “Well, why didn’t you say so? Here, let me help ease your hunger for you.” He said, stepping closer to the bear.

It had only taken mere seconds, but as Ginta watched the bear’s life blood ooze out of the gaping wound, he was satisfied that the bear would never go hungry again. Turning his attention to Kagome, Ginta rushed to her side and gently lifted her up and into his lap. He examined the wound that lay on the side of her head, and nodded in satisfaction that it was not that bad of a cut. He grabbed the cloth that the bear had ripped away from her and gently wrapped it around her, covering her from prying eyes.

As he walked back to the den, he could not help but feel mostly responsible for her condition. He could only imagine how scared she must have been and that if he had not pushed her away, she would be safe and sound in his den and in his arms.

As his grip upon Kagome tightened, Ginta wondered if he were any better than Kouga. After all, he dismissed Kagome just as Kouga had dismissed him and the others. He decided that he would stay by her side until she awoke and then he would apologize to her. He would not force his anger upon her ever again. No, he would simply allow her to speak to whomever she wished, and if she chose to speak to Kouga, then he would not say anything. He would simply sit back and ignore the cur.

Satisfied that he came to the right decision, Ginta hurried to the den. It was going to be a long night.

Chapter Seven

Kagome stirred and struggled to open her eyes. However, a sharp pain ripped through her head and she cried out. She reached up and tried to hold her head in her hands, but a claw covered her hands and she heard Ginta’s soft voice telling her that her pain would soon pass.

“Hurts.” She whispered as a tear made its way down her cheek. She felt his gentle claw wipe away the stray tear and heard him say, “I know. Here, drink this and you will feel better. You won’t be able to get up for a couple of days, but don’t worry. I will make sure that you are well taken care of.”

He gently lifted her head up and brought a cup to her mouth. The healer had made a very strong pain tonic and had assured him that after she rested and healed, she would be fine. He watched as she grimaced at the bitterness of the tonic, but then sighed with in relief when she finished the concoction.

Kagome wanted to ask him some questions, but she could feel the effects of the tonic already working and she heard him whisper that she needed to get some rest. He laid her back down and covered her up with the furs.

As he watched Kagome drift back into her dreams, he wiped an arm across his tired eyes and he turned to glare at his brother when Hakkaku came into the den.

“You know, you have already slept with her, so why don’t you climb in beside her and get some sleep? You aren’t doing her any favors by exhausting yourself.” Hakkaku said, his arms crossed over his chest.

Sighing, Ginta stood up. “It’s my fault that she is hurt. I don’t think that she would want to share a bed with a male who attacked her the way that I did.” He said quietly.

Hakkaku stared at his brother for a moment and then said, “Look, she cares for you. I see it. Sango sees it. Hell, everyone in this tribe sees it. Get over yourself and get into that bed and hold her. She needs you now more than ever and if you feel you need to apologize, start with offering her your warmth and comfort. But, don’t make yourself so exhausted that you can’t help her when she awakens. You won’t be doing either of you any favors. Besides, you are the male, so damn it, start acting like it.”

Ginta watched as his brother turned and stormed out of his den. Hakkaku was right. Ok, he was the male and he would not let Kagome down. Not anymore. Decision made, he quickly took off his armor and climbed into the bed with her. When he was settled, he wrapped his arm around her waist and allowed his tail to wind around her thigh. He gave a sigh and readied himself for a well-deserved nap.

Sango looked up and saw Hakkaku walking back into the den. She sighed and waited for him to sit down. When he finally did, she asked, “How is Kagome?”

“Unconscious. But, from what the healer has said, she will recover. She took a nasty hit, but she will be fine. Now, if I can only get Ginta’s head out of his backside, then things will be perfect.” Hakkaku grumbled, his tail swishing angrily behind him.

Sango giggled. “Not everyone is like us, Hakkaku. You can’t just snap your fingers and expect your brother and Kagome to leap into each other’s arms. But, there are things that we can to do to speed up the process.” She said.

Hakkaku lifted an eyebrow and purred, “Oh, do tell. And make sure that you go into great detail. I love it when you are being sneaky and from the sound of your voice, you plan on being just that.”

Sango blushed, and began to whisper to the wolf, who was now grinning. Yes, this plan would work. He was sure of it. After Sango finished telling him her idea, he quickly pulled her into his lap and whispered, “I can’t believe that I have managed to find a woman who is as devious as she is beautiful. You can’t be real. You have to be a dream.”

Sango sighed as his lips stroked her neck. “I am real, and Hakkaku, I am all yours.” She said. Her eyes widened as she realized what she had just said. She was shocked that she had made such a statement, but he seemed to thrill at her words.

Hakkaku chuckled and gently laid her down upon the furs of the bed. It would be a while before they would be seen again.

The next few days went by in a hurry. Kikyo had made a surprise visit and checked on Kagome’s wounds. She assured Ginta that Kagome did not hold him responsible for her injuries and that he should not blame himself for something that he did not cause. She also had explained that Kagome’s feelings for Kouga were of friendship and nothing more.

Feeling better after his talk with the dead miko, Ginta made his way back into his den and could hear Kagome and Sango arguing. Kagome continued to argue that she was feeling much better and that she wanted to get up and go outside. Sango kept threatening that if Kagome set foot out of the bed, she would tie the young miko up and sit on her until she was satisfied that Kagome would stay put.

Grinning, Ginta walked into the den and looked at his new sister-in-law. Yes, Hakkaku had made good on his promise and had claimed the young slayer as his mate. Both could be heard nightly arguing about one thing or another and then settling the argument by a good round of aggressive mating. There was a bet going around that the slayer would be with pup by the next full moon. Hopefully, he would be right.

Sango looked up at Ginta and shook her head. “You explain to her why she can’t get up. She won’t listen to me.” She grumbled, her hands waving about in the air.

Nodding, Ginta excused Sango and sat down next to a pouting Kagome. He reached over and took her hand, his thumb brushing over the smooth skin.

“You really should rest some more, Kagome. You took quite a hit and need to recover your strength.” Ginta said, his tone soft.

Kagome shrugged. “I keep telling everyone that my head doesn’t hurt anymore. Why doesn’t anyone believe me? I am not a weakling and I am getting sick and tired of people treating me like I am.” She hissed.

Ginta was shocked at the force of her words. It suddenly occurred to him that perhaps he could take her outside for a while and keep an eye on her. With him nearby, he could tend to the needs of his people and to the needs of his woman. Yes, Kagome was his. He had come to the conclusion that because they already shared a bed, she was his by that fact alone. Now, all he had to do was make his move and claim her fully.

Without saying a word, he pulled back the furs and gently lifted Kagome into his arms. He reached over and pulled a robe that Kikyo had brought for Kagome and placed it around her shoulders. Kagome’s eyes were questioning, but she remained silent. When she was covered, he stood up with her in his arms and began walking towards the entrance to the den.

Soon, they were outside and Kagome was sitting with Sango and the other females. Sango was learning how to make clothing out of doeskin and Kagome happily joined in. Soon, both women were hard at work, sewing for the men of the tribe.

As Ginta listened to the males and their concerns, his eyes continued to stray over to Kagome. He watched as she kept huffing at a stray piece of hair that kept falling down into her eyes and he grinned. She was the most precious thing in his life and he could not believe that he had nearly thrown her away over his anger at Kouga.

After he had settled a couple of the disputes, Hakkaku had come over and together they finished their plans for the upcoming winter. They called the males together and announced that they were to start hunting twice as much. They would store as much food as they could and the women would be told to start making the winter clothing.

Hakkaku grinned as he watched his brother gaze over at the young miko. It warmed his heart to see Ginta in love with the woman and he knew that his brother had found his true soul mate. Both Kagome and Ginta needed each other. They enjoyed a certain peace that came with being around the one that gave them the most happiness. Kagome did not seem to hold any grudges against Ginta for his foolish words and Ginta had seemed to let go of his guilt. He glanced over at his lovely Sango and watched as she cursed the needle that she had been holding. Looks like someone managed to prick her finger. Again.

Kagome giggled as she listened to Sango curse out the needle and thread that she had been holding. Sango had once again stuck herself and blamed the needle for hating her. She looked down at her own piece of doeskin and silently thanked her mother for teaching her how to sew all those years ago. Back then, after daddy had passed on, times had been hard and her mother had learned how to sew to save money. Apparently, her lessons had not been forgotten and the vest that she was working on was now taking shape. Hopefully, Ginta would like it.

She glanced up and saw that Ginta and Hakkaku were in deep conversation. She watched as Ginta motioned with his hands and had a serious expression on his face. She loved watching his face as he talked about something important. When he looked over at her, she felt her cheeks burn and she quickly adverted her gaze, her hands quickly threading her needle so that she could continue her work.

After a couple of hours of sewing, Zanasuki announced that she was tired of sewing and that it was time to begin fixing the evening meal. Kagome and Sango stood up, but were told to sit and relax. Actually, she had been told to relax, Sango had been told to calm down and stop cursing at her needle. After a moment of silence, Sango scowled and crossed her arms over her chest.

“Well, I can’t help it. I am a fighter, not a seamstress.” Sango fumed, her dark eyes narrowing in contempt as she stared at the item at the center of the controversy.

Kagome shook her head. “Well, then don’t sew. If you don’t like it, I am sure that there are other things that you can do that don’t require you to use a needle and thread. By the way, what exactly were you sewing?” She asked, her curiosity getting the better of her.

Sango lifted her piece of doeskin up and examined it. After a few moments, she sighed. “Well, I suppose it could be a hat. A very weird looking, oddly shaped hat.” Sango replied.

“And, what was it supposed to be?” Kagome prodded, a grin playing on her lips. “It was supposed to be a pair of pants, but somehow, I seriously doubt that Hakkaku would be caught dead in these. What about you?” Sango asked, peering over Kagome’s shoulder.

“I made a vest. What do you think?” Kagome asked, her nervousness obvious. She really wanted to make something nice for Ginta to show him that she was not angry at him about anything. She could understand how he felt, and that jealousy was a natural emotion.

Sango whistled and then glared at the mess that rested in her hands. “I will make you a deal. You do all the sewing, and I will do all of the doeskin hunting.” She said, her lips widening in a smile.

Kagome giggled. “Deal.” She said. Both women burst into laughter and then noticed that a pair of happy wolves was approaching them. They quickly subdued their giggles and looked up at the males.

Ginta saw a very pretty blush spread across Kagome’s cheeks and he preened. He was the cause for that. He was the one making her blush. A sense of pride blossomed in his gut and he quickly cleared his throat.

“Kagome, would you like to come and watch the sunset with me?” He asked, his dark eyes never leaving hers.

Kagome quickly nodded. Anytime she could get alone with Ginta, she would gladly take. She held up her hand for Ginta to take so that he could help her up, but instead, he reached down and lifted her up into his arms. He glanced at his brother.

“We will be back after the sun sets. Save us some dinner.” He said, already knowing that Hakkaku would, but he just wanted to reassure Kagome. Once he secured Hakkaku’s nod, he and Kagome left the den and he began walking towards the cliffs that overlooked the entire valley.

It took nearly an hour, but when they arrived, Kagome’s surprised gasp made the journey well worth it. He set Kagome upon her feet and allowed her to explore. He watched as she smiled and pointed towards the den.

“I can see the den from here. This place is beautiful.” She exclaimed, her eyes shining. He smiled and quickly approached her side. Without a word, he wrapped his arms around her tiny form and he brought her close to his chest.

“No, Kagome. Now that you are standing here with me, now this place is beautiful.” Ginta murmured, his tail swaying lazily behind its master.

Kagome’s breath caught in her throat. ‘Wow.’ She thought. No man, not even Kouga, had ever said anything so romantic to her. As the sun began to set, it cast the pair in its warm glow, as if it were embracing the pair. Kagome pulled back a bit and gazed up at Ginta. She was about to tell him thank you for bringing her to this place, but her words were lost when he bent his head and gently placed his lips against hers.

At first, she was stunned, but then relaxed. This is what she had been missing with Inu Yasha. This feeling of belonging, of being accepted.

Ginta’s hear soared. He felt Kagome’s arms twine around his neck and he did not hesitate to deepen the kiss. His tongue slipped into her mouth and gently stroked at hers, enticing her tongue to play with his. A soft whimper escaped from her throat and she timidly touched her tongue to his.

All he had done was kiss her. He did not move to take it further than that. He would not push her for more, at least, not yet. He knew that she was still hurt by Inu Yasha’s betrayal, but he would soon push that night out of her mind and replace the painful memory with memories of the first time that they made love. She was his. His woman, his mate, his Kagome.

Kagome felt his arms tighten around her and she sighed happily. So, this was what it felt like to be in love. Now she knew that what she felt for Inu Yasha had not been love, but rather lust. With Ginta, she wanted everything, and wanted to give him everything. Kikyo had been right. Inu Yasha had never really held her heart. It was Ginta that could claim that honor.

As night fell on the couple, both knew that something between them had changed. Both looked forward to what the next day, and then the next, brought to them. As long as they were together, they could face anything. More than friends, and just on the verge of being lovers, Ginta and Kagome happily embraced this new change in their lives. It was certainly welcome.

As a tear slipped down her cheek, Kikyo sighed happily and turned to Kaede, who was smiling. Kikyo had just said the magic word and had sent Inu Yasha off to an early bedtime. Now, her elder sister sat before her and she was smiling through tears.

“What is it, sister?” Kaede asked, her voice soft. She did not want to do anything that would cause Inu Yasha to awaken.

“Kagome and that wolf, Ginta, have taken their relationship a step further. The wolf has kissed her and she was able to return his kiss without hesitation. She had truly moved on.” Kikyo sighed, happy that her reincarnation had found what she had desired.

Kaede nodded. “Good. She, and you, deserve to be happy. It is unfortunate that Inu Yasha failed to see the obvious truth, but at least it gave Kagome the chance to discover that she was loved unconditionally by another.” She said, a cup of tea warming her old hands.

Kikyo nodded and smiled fondly at her sister. Though she was the elder sister, the harsh realities of age had hit Kaede and she could tell that her younger sister was having pains in her hands. Arthritis, Kagome had once told her, causes such pains. It would be a sad day when she would have to bury the sister that she had once held in her arms as a tiny babe.

Inu Yasha did not say a word. He allowed them to think that he was asleep, but he had been awake for the entire conversation. He had done a lot of thinking and he was sorry for what he had done to Kagome. He never should have hurt her, but his pride had been harmed and he did the only thing he could do and hurt her with his words.

Now, as the women talked, all he could do was reflect on his past actions and made the decision to pull Kagome aside and apologize for his behavior. He would probably have to do it in front of that stupid wolf, but at least it would not be in front of that flaming idiot, Kouga.

Kouga had listened to Kovu and then watched as his friend walked away. He stared at the ground and tried to be happy that his former tribe was safe. However, hearing that Kagome had been at the den and that Ginta had acted territorial over her told him that if he did not act soon, he could lose Kagome to his underling.

Now that he knew that Ayame had drugged him, he was determined to reclaim his life. He would regain his tribe, his followers, his respect, and his mate-to-be, Kagome. Ginta would not deny him this. If he had to, he would kill Ginta off to teach the others and Kagome exactly who the dominant male was.

But, before he could do anything, he would have to get the eastern tribe up to the northern mountains for Ayame’s trial. She had admitted her crime, but claimed that she had a just cause. She claimed that Kagome had stolen Kouga from her and that she had every right to protect her interests. A trial would determine if she really did have a right or if she simply acted out of jealousy. Either way, Ayame would be banished from the tribe. Her actions were simply too much to handle, though she was not yet aware that she was being kicked out. Her fate sealed, Kouga decided that it was time to send out the summons.

Three wolves would be sent to the tribes and Kouga would make sure that Ginta would be told that he could not mate with Kagome until the matter regarding the rights of mating were determined. That meant that even if he already marked her, the mark would be void and she would be considered still up for mating. If she were with pup, the dominant male would be the one to decide if she would be allowed to keep the pup or if he would kill the pup to erase all traces of the other male.

Kouga could not see Kagome allowing her pup to die before her eyes, so to keep his mate-to-be happy, he would probably have to accept the pup. After all, he could raise the pup to be just like him and he would never need to tell the pup of its true father, if she were indeed pregnant. But, he would certainly make saying Ginta’s name a crime. He would need to erase the other wolf’s memory so that Kagome could focus solely on him and the family that she was going to give to him.

As Kouga brooded, a male wolf stepped up behind him and coughed. Kouga turned his head slightly and snapped, “What in the hell do you want?”

The male shook with fear, but managed to say, “Lady Ayame has requested that she be allowed to speak with you. She won’t stop screaming and she is giving us all a headache. She keeps growling at the pups and spitting at the other females. Kouga, I think that Ayame might be rabid.”

Kouga snorted. Of course she was rabid. The woman had always been insane and now it was showing. He got up and motioned for the male to lead the way. As they approached the holding pen, Kouga could hear Ayame screaming curses at anyone who would listen and he closed his eyes. This was not going to be very pretty.

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