InuYasha Fan Fiction ❯ Waiting on a Wish ❯ Chapter 5 ( Chapter 5 )

[ X - Adult: No readers under 18. Contains Graphic Adult Themes/Extreme violence. ]

Chapter 5

Kagome asked herself for the millionth time what she was doing, and still came up with the same answer: she had no idea. Another silky raven strand came loose from her clip, and she tucked it behind her ear, sighing.

She picked at the knit material of her jade pullover, tugging the bottom closer over the top her long skirt, then glanced at InuYasha as he pulled off the main road and onto a small side road and wondered where they were going. They were already long past the city limits--which had been a bit of a surprise. She’d half-expected him to take her straight to his home after last night. She wasn’t at all sure that she could resist him if he did. Especially dressed as he was.

She didn’t know what it was about him in regular clothes--maybe it was seeing him in traditional dress first, or maybe it was just the fact that he wore them so well. He was in jeans again--nicer ones this time, with a long-sleeved shirt instead of a tee. His hair was loose too, and she wondered if he ever tied it back, as so many men with long hair did. She rather liked it loose. It suited him, just hinted at the wildness that she suspected ran deep in him.

He’d stolen her sensible thoughts when she’d walked out of the clinic earlier in the evening. He was waiting for her in the same place, with the same pose as the day before, and his slight, irritating smirk had told her he’d noticed her reaction. He’d quickly whisked her into his sleek black sports car -- a model she recognized only vaguely -- and onto the highway leading out of the city.

To her surprise, their conversation had been quite pleasant. She’d asked him where he was taking her, but he'd narrowed his eyes and asked her about her shift. They’d chatted amiably about her day, then fallen into that strange, comfortable silence--the one that bespoke of years of intimate knowledge rather than just days of acquaintance. It baffled her that she could be so at ease in his presence, especially when she knew what he wanted from her.

The sun hung low when they finally stopped in a dirt parking lot. In front of them sat a large, comfortable-looking wooden building clinging to the edge of a cliff. With a start, Kagome realized how close to the ocean they were. They must have driven straight down the coast. She looked over at InuYasha, who sat staring pensively at the building for a long moment, his claws tapping against the steering wheel. He sighed.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been here.”

Kagome was surprised. “You used to come here a lot?”

“Some. When I was younger.” He glanced at her, this time with a troubled frown, as if he were undergoing some serious reconsideration. “It might not be the best place for you.”

Her hand had reached out before any clear intention had passed through her mind. Her fingers grazed his sleeve, drawing a sharp, startled turn of his head. Under the expectant probe of his eyes, she inhaled, and let the words tumble out without premeditation. “I want to see. We came here for a reason, and it would be wrong to leave without seeing it through.” Her heart seemed a bit frightened by her words, because it tripped over itself trying to get out of her chest.

She caught a subtle widening of his eyes, but didn't know what to make of it. When he grunted and glanced away from her, she drew a deep breath and only then realized that she'd been holding it.

“So lets go.”

Kagome nodded and, irritated, tried to shake off the electric thrill that rippled down her back. His voice sometimes had the ability to do that--to rake over her skin with a near-physical caress. She didn’t know what to make of the fact that he had brought her to a place so unexpected, but fascination kept her from discouraging it. The prospect of seeing something connected to him, something that might let her know him a little better, was too tempting to pass up.

To her surprise, InuYasha led her around the side of the building to the back, where several tables were situated on a large wooden deck. The set-up wasn't fancy, but rough-hewn and efficient, the wood unpolished, the furniture unadorned, and yet is somehow still managed to be charming. The deck itself was built right on the edge of the cliff, and the simple, sturdy railing allowed for an unhindered view of the steep drop beyond.

She sucked in a gasp and hurried to the railing to look down over the water stretching out so far below. The sun had just started to set, coloring the watery horizon with the fiery oranges and pinks of the sky above, and faint shades of violet and dark blue had already begun encroaching as day ceded dominion to night. Straight down, the merging hues reflected faintly off the white-foamed waves as they crashed over the submerged rocks guarding the bottom of the cliff.

The occasional seagull floated along on the brisk, salt-tinged wind, treading the line of cliff and sea. Thick trees surrounded the building and lined every inch of the coast in view, a stark reminder of how far from the city--and deep into the wilder domains of the forest--they must be. “It’s beautiful. What a wonderful atmosphere. Why haven’t I ever heard of this place before?”

He shook his head, warily eyeing her stance by the rail. “It’s not a place that very many humans would know about. They serve mostly youkai here. Get away from there, will you? If you fall, I'll have to go after you, and I don’t really like to swim.”

“Mostly youkai?” Kagome frowned slightly. His warm hand wrapped around her elbow and he tugged, a sensory distraction that kept her fazed long enough that he could steer her to the nearest table. “They won’t mind serving a human, will they?”

InuYasha placed her in a wooden chair and settled into the seat across from her. His eyes focused behind her, and his mouth turned up slightly. “Trust me. They won’t care.”

“InuYasha! You have returned, and so suddenly. It is a good thing, to see you so healthy.”

Kagome turned to see the source of the heavily accented, feminine voice. A small, very beautiful woman headed for their table, a smile on her face and a lighter in her hand. Obviously, she had just finished lighting the lanterns spaced evenly along the deck. An apron covered a loose skirt and a sleeveless blouse, and her bright red hair sat in a loose bun on top of her head.

Kagome was surprised to realize that she was human--and a foreigner no less. She stopped beside their table, her vivid green eyes looking reproachfully at InuYasha. “To have so many years pass since your last visit. Have you forgotten your old friends now that you’re famous, little one?”

He gave a snort and a scowl, but didn't look serious about either. “I’m not famous, Fina, and you know it. I wouldn’t care if I was.”

Fina smiled fondly. “You’re famous among our clientèle, as you know very well. And you never cared about many of the things you should have cared about. Just certain things, yes?” Her eyes warmed as she turned to Kagome. “I see you’ve brought a friend. And--” For a moment, her face went soft and sad. “Ah, yes. You are very lovely. Tell me, has he kidnapped you or are you here by your own free will?”

Kagome’s first thought had been to wonder about the nature of relationship the beautiful woman had once had with InuYasha. But a closer look revealed that she was much older than she originally appeared. Fine lines limned her eyes and touched her forehead, and her gaze held the same look of wise acceptance about life that Kagome often recognized in her mother’s face. More importantly, her smile and manner immediately relaxed Kagome, freeing her from any awkwardness she might have felt. She smiled back, liking the woman immediately. “I’m here by will, although I’m not quite sure how much of it was mine.”

A spark of appreciation lit the brilliant color in Fina’s eyes, and she laughed. “Good words. I am Fina, one of the proprietors of this establishment. It is quite the treat to see a full-blood human for a change.”

Kagome glanced at InuYasha, but he just watched her impassively, allowing her to choose what to do. “Ummm.” Fina hadn’t used a last name, and InuYasha wasn't going to introduce her. How nice of him, she thought, irritated again. “Kagome. It’s nice to meet you. It’s very beautiful here, but I’m afraid I’ve never heard of this place. Does it even have a name? I didn’t see a sign.”

“Oh, no. This place doesn’t really have a name. And you wouldn’t have heard of it--not even from most of your youkai friends. Only certain types come in here,” she confided. “Humans almost never do, and even most youkai wouldn’t be comfortable.”

Kagome frowned. “You seem to be just fine.”

Fina’s laughter tinkled across the deck, and she shook her head. “I have nothing to fear in this place. Bunzo would never let harm come to me. Besides,” a tiny dimple appeared in her chin, “without my cooking, all that most of these tough youkai hunters would eat is Bunzo’s burnt rice. It is like in war, yes? The cooks and the medics are always the last ones to die.” She glanced intently at InuYasha. “And I have done both in my time.” Her head tilted slightly, and her smile gentled. “Fina will see to your food personally, little one.” He grunted at the name, rolling his eyes, but she ignored him, placing several long, slim fingers on his shoulder. “Welcome back, great Alliance hunter. He’ll be very pleased to see you looking so well--and so would they.”

She waited for his small nod, and turned her glowing smile back on Kagome. “I am very pleased to meet you, Kagome. I hope to see you both again soon.” She disappeared back into the building, humming to herself quietly.

Kagome couldn’t keep the smile from blooming across her face as she studied him for a few moments from across the table. Was it her imagination, or had a bit of red stained his nose and cheeks? “Little one?” She teased, voice gentle.

He shifted in his chair uncomfortably. “Feh. It's just something she used to call me, a long time ago.”

“How long has she known you?”

His gaze focused off in the distance, and he pushed out a sigh that carried hints of irritation. “Since I left my parents’ home.”

Kagome remembered Sango’s comment about his leaving home young. “How old were you?”

“Eleven.”

Kagome’s eyes widened. He said it so matter-of-factly, without a blink--as if it wasn't an astonishing fact. “Why so young?”

He shrugged, lounging back comfortably and resting his head against his knuckles. “I was even younger when my parents died. I would have left sooner, but,” he hesitated just slightly, “there was something I had to get first. As soon as I had it, I left.”

Kagome shook her head, unable to understand why he had felt the need to leave the only home he’d ever known at such a young age. “What about your brother? Surely he objected?” Even if they hated each other, his brother was still obligated to look after him, right?

InuYasha looked surprised. “Sesshomaru? How did you…? Keh!” His lip curled, revealing a fang in a sneer of disdain. “You’ve got to be kidding. That pretty bastard has wanted me dead from the second I was born. He was almost as glad to see me leave as I was to go.”

She frowned. “But he’s your brother--”

“Half-brother.”

“Yes, but….”

He shook his head. “Believe me. It was definitely time to go.”

She softened, staring at him with plaintive eyes. “But that’s so--”

“I see that Fina wasn’t lying! You finally remembered that you have friends here.” The loud, grim tone completely overwhelmed her words.

Across from her, InuYasha straightened, tensing slightly. He exhaled noisily, muttering to himself. Kagome had to strain to catch the bad-tempered words. “Great. Just fucking great.”

She blinked.

Unexpectedly, a huge figure loomed at their side. He was just under seven feet tall, and thick as a great oak, with layers upon layers of muscle. Brown hair--as dark as brown could be without reaching black--hung in a thick braid down his back. Lighter shaded eyes of the same color considered them both astutely. His face was narrow, almost incongruously so compared to his body, and his ears were sharply pointed. A youkai. Not handsome by any stretch--rather, strangely compelling. His shirt was a simple cream button-up with rolled up sleeves, and hanging from his shoulders was a dark-furred animal pelt.

In his hands, he held a tray loaded with food. The aroma drifting from the plates was different--foreign food--but smelled delicious. The tray landed in front of them with a sharp crack, and the table rattled.

He bent over to stare at InuYasha, his eyes narrowing. “Pup.” His voice was as deep as his body was large. “It’s been a while. Your look is reminiscent of your father’s. Your mother would be proud.”

Kagome blinked again. Pup? She saw InuYasha’s jaw clench as he gritted his teeth and glared up at the giant of a youkai. “I’m not a kid anymore, old man.”

“Hn.” The large head turned and focused on a wide-eyed Kagome, studying her critically. “A beautiful woman, undeserving of such company. Are you going to introduce me, pup, or am I going to have to guess?”

Amber eyes narrowed, smoldering slightly. “Kagome, old man. Old man, Kagome.”

InuYasha didn’t see it, but Kagome did--the slight smile that flickered across the granite mouth. The small spark that lit the dark eyes as the strange youkai bowed in greeting, moving with startling ease for one so large. “Kagome. I am called Bunzo. This place is the home of my mate and I.”

Kagome felt her eyes widen even further. This was Bunzo? Somehow, she had expected someone…smaller. She thought back to the tiny woman who had just greeted them, and gasped. “Fina is your mate?”

He surprised her by smiling warmly. “She is. And the best cook this place has ever seen.” He met InuYasha, glare for glare. “She insists that the meal for you and your…guest be compliments of an old friend.” He cut InuYasha’s protest off before it left his throat, his eyes tightening menacingly. “You would insult the generosity of my mate, whelp?”

“Tch!” InuYasha glowered steadily at the giant for a moment before glancing away. “Why would I do something stupid like upset the cook?”

“Hn.” Bunzo’s large body relaxed slightly. “I've been hearing things, pup. You seem to have done well for yourself, despite your idiocy. Not even Tetsusaiga is a problem, or so I hear about the infamous hanyou hunter. I suppose Totosai should never have doubted that you would figure it out.”

InuYasha stilled abruptly, his ears perking up, his face shuttering. His amber gaze flicked up to return Bunzo’s stare steadily, almost warningly. “It was never a question of how to use it, old man.” His voice was quiet, even.

Bunzo’s eyes darted swiftly towards a baffled, fascinated Kagome, studying her once again with great interest. “Interesting. So Fina is right. You've found what you were seeking.”

To Kagome’s shock, a tiny growl issued from the hanyou’s throat. “What I have or haven’t found is none of your business.”

Bunzo’s eyes confronted InuYasha’s with a knowing look. “Then why have you come back here, pup?”

InuYasha scowled, but kept silent. After a long moment, Bunzo let the corner of his mouth turn upward. “Hn. Have you grown a bit of wisdom? It's just a small bit, but some is better than none. There is hope for you.” He turned to Kagome. “And how did you meet this worthless one?”

InuYasha sat up, growling again. “I told you that was none of your business, old man.” His glare turned to her, warning her to stay silent.

Not at all intimidated, Kagome easily decided to ignore him. She was tired of being left out of the conversation. Her eyes twinkled conspiratorially as she looked up at the large demon from InuYasha’s past. “Nothing special, really. I just patched up a big gaping hole in his chest before it killed him.”

Great, dark eyes widened slightly, lighting briefly with an answering spark. “Saved his life, did you? It's an auspicious beginning. He’s always been luckier than he deserved.” He eyed the sullen hanyou. “Very well.” From out of nowhere, he produced a bottle of wine and two glasses. “From Fina as well. It has been an honor to meet such an intriguing female, Kagome. You are welcome in my place anytime.”

Kagome inclined her head, touched. “Thank you.”

Abruptly, he turned his heavy bulk from the table and moved towards the doors. “My mate wishes you to have a pleasant meal, so for tonight, the deck is yours. You should enjoy this generosity while you can. I won’t do this again.”

He paused once on the doors, not looking back. “InuYasha. Well done. Your father would have been very proud.” The doors slid closed behind him with a snap.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

K agome watched InuYasha stare in shock at the closed doors. So, InuYasha had been on his own since he was eleven, his ties with his brother were pretty well cut, and Bunzo and Fina had obviously known him for some time--the details of which he didn’t want to discuss it in front of her. This night was turning into one great revelation after another. “They seem very fond of you.” She ventured.

InuYasha shook himself, then let out a tolerant sigh. “Maybe,” he said gruffly.

She watched him with a gentle curve to her mouth. “Did you spend a lot of time here?”

The black of his brows lowered into a frown, not an angry one, and he shifted uncomfortably in his chair. “No, not really.” He looked at Kagome, then rolled his eyes. “Bunzo’s an old family acquaintance. He knew my father, fought beside him many times. I guess you could say they were friends. He was a great hunter at one time, before he met Fina.”

Bunzo, a hunter? She wasn't at all surprised. “What happened when he met Fina?”

InuYasha shook his head in disgust. “More like what happened after it. From what I’ve heard, Bunzo used to travel across the world as a private hunter, exterminating rogues for other countries, as well as Japan. He was the pride of the biggest badger tribe in the West.” He paused. “Until he came home with Fina.”

“They didn’t accept her?”

InuYasha snorted. “Are you smoking something? A foreign female--human--with a barely working knowledge of Japanese, much less of their culture? They refused her, gave him an ultimatum--them or her. Stupid of them, because he left them without a second thought.”

Kagome’s eyes softened. “How romantic.”

InuYasha looked down at his plate, hiding the expression in his eyes. “Yeah…maybe. But it wasn’t the end. His tribal leader didn’t agree with his choice, and he didn’t want to lose the prestige or the gene pool of one of the greatest hunters of the time. So he contracted with some two-bit hunter wanna-be to get rid of Fina. He was supposed to make it look like an accident so that Bunzo would come back.”

Kagome gasped. “Obviously, it didn’t work.”

InuYasha scowled, picking at his food. “Obviously. But it came close. Fina almost died from poisoning. If it hadn’t been for my mother, she would have. Bunzo was furious, and he hunted down the hunter who had almost taken his mate’s life.” His expression became pensive.

“He confronted the tribal leader, who admitted everything, and Bunzo killed him, too. That would have gotten him sentenced to death if any of his people would’ve had the ability to take him out. Instead, he made a deal. He would cut all ties with the tribe and stop hunting altogether if they promised to leave him and his mate alone.” He shrugged. “The new tribal leader thought it was a good solution. They got rid of a vengeful hunter, and the human wouldn’t corrupt their bloodlines. So the two of them moved out here and opened this place.”

“And he's never gone back?”

“No, he's never gone back.”

Kagome wondered at the neutrality of InuYasha’s tone when he spoke of the demons’ arrogance about their purity. He was a hanyou, after all. It was as if this was how it was supposed to be. She shook her head, anger burning in her gut at the unfairness of it all. “How could he just let them bully him like that? Doesn’t he miss his family, his home? If he was such a great hunter, doesn’t he miss that?”

InuYasha looked out across the sky at the partial moon, his expression enigmatic. “He did it for Fina. It was the simplest solution for her, and for them to be together in peace.” He shook his head. “I don’t think he’s ever regretted it, though.” He paused, darting a swift glance at her out of the corner of his eye. “Besides…no youkai worth anything would betray his mate.” He returned to his study of the sky. “Fina makes him happy. And he still has connections among the hunters. This place is one of them. He may not hunt anymore, but he’s still got his hands in almost everything to do with hunting in Japan.”

Kagome’s stared at him for a moment. She was sure he was unaware of the slight admiration in his tone every time he spoke of Bunzo. A thought struck, and her eyes widened. “He’s the one who got you started, isn’t he?”

His attention returned, amber eyes settling on her, staring impassively. He blinked, then gave a dismissive snort. “What the hell are you talking about?” He got up from his chair, and walked over to the railing, staring out beyond the cliffside. The whitecaps rolled with soft crashing sounds as they hit the rocks, the only things breaking the black monotony of the water below.

She followed him, pressing her advantage. “He taught you about hunting, maybe got you your first job. I’m right, aren’t I?” She pulled her woolen wrap around her shoulders, grateful she’d thought to bring it along. The thin sleeves of her pullover didn’t do much against the cool ocean breeze.

She brushed at the escaped hair that swayed around her face as she leaned on the rail and stared up at him. “What else did he do? Did he feed you? Did you live with them? Fina seems very fond of you. Why haven’t you seen either of them for so long?”

He didn’t answer, his face turned out to the sea, hands resting lightly on the railing in front of them. The deck lanterns glowed from behind them, throwing his face into shadow, while the moonlight was only partially successful at providing relief. He stood silent, the light wind tousling his silvery-white locks. She could see the frown on his brows, but she couldn’t see the expression in his eyes.

She peered at him, her curiosity getting the better of her common sense. She could feel the warmth of his body, knew that he could feel hers. The tingling along her senses and the clutching in her stomach told her getting so close was risky; but she knew she was right, and the prospect of finding out more about him kept her at his side. The glimpses she'd caught of him tonight--the big things he’d stated, and the little ones she’d deduced by inference--only fueled her insatiable curiosity. She couldn’t help herself.

“InuYasha?”

Finally, he grimaced and turned to face her. “It’s the past. It doesn’t matter.”

“If you didn’t want to talk about it, then why did you bring me here? Why did you show me this place?” She knew her voice betrayed her anger and frustration, her disappointment that he wouldn’t share more with her, but she couldn't help it. Anxiety, an enemy she had yet to master, twisted uncomfortably in her gut.

Abruptly, his eyes connected with hers, darkening slightly with indecipherable emotion. She blinked, feeling the subtle altering of the mood surrounding them. The thought of retreat crossed her mind, but she found her arms and legs unwilling to carry her back to the table.

He shifted to face her, and suddenly his body was right in front of hers, a breath away from physical contact. “Damn.” From nowhere, his fingers brushed over her cheek, the calloused skin leaving burning trails as they dragged away an errant strand of silk with his thumb. Sparklers went off in her belly. “I just needed you to see it. That’s all.”

His husky rasp, the solemnity in his words, washed over her. Kagome was motionless. Her hand found the railing gripped until the roughness of the wood bit into her fingers as she silently railed at the unfairness of what he could do to her. Her eyes drifted over his shadowed features as his head bent closer. “But you needed me to see it.” She repeated his words back to him, her voice a soft, whispered version of his. “Doesn’t that mean it does matter?”

Instead of answering, he kissed her; his mouth settled lightly over hers, his nose rubbing gently against her cheek. Her eyes slid shut, and she sighed into him in silent, helpless surrender.

This time was different. His manner was so much more subtle. He absorbed her taste, almost tentatively, dancing lightly with her lips rather than overwhelming them. This kiss was soft, exploratory in nature. He sipped and tasted, using tender little nips to learn contour and texture before shaping his mouth to hers. He coaxed at her lips, so tempting that she couldn’t resist his unspoken request, and slipped them apart, allowing him entry. The intensity was still there, somewhere underneath the gentleness, it was just held in check by the unhurried pace of his actions, the careful restraint in the caress of his mouth.

Two distinct kisses, the same mind-blowing effect. Her thoughts blanked out, slipped away from her, leaving only a swirling, hazy mix of sensations. Her mind was no longer hers; he’d stolen it, and demanded her body as ransom--a price she seemed willing, even eager, to pay. His tongue invaded her mouth, foreign, yet strangely soothing. She found his taste subtly addicting, the contrasting flavors of wildness and tenderness mixing pleasantly on her tongue. Her mouth opened wider, seeking more.

One of his hands took hold of hers, wrapping it up around his back so that her hand clasped at his shoulder. The other raked lightly down the material of her sleeve, landing at her waist. His long fingers encircled, pulling her close, then his arm snaked along her lower back, securing her against him.

Her wrap drifted to the deck as her free arm went around his neck, holding him near as she sank further into the kiss. Her fingers twisted into his hair, holding tight to the feeling of belonging, of contentment, of slowly emerging excitement. Her mouth pressed harder to his, enjoying the sensation of full-body contact, the thrilling security in the strength of the arm draping heavily across the small of her back.

His hand covered the juncture of her neck and jaw, the warmth of his palm cupping her chin and angling her head slightly. His index finger traced the delicate lines of her ear with lightest tip of his claw. A fine thread of electricity wove itself around her spine and lashed into her lower belly, and her muscles tightened. Pressed shoulder-to-thigh as they were, she could feel the bulge of his arousal against her hip, and a tiny part of her brain started in awe at the realization that her effect on him was just as strong as his was on her.

He nipped away from her mouth, sucking on her bottom lip, the corner of her mouth, her jaw, laying a small trail of kisses down her throat. She let out a tiny whimper, and tilted her head against his hand. Her breath was suddenly shallow, hard to get, and her chest was starting to heave. His own breathing was ragged; she could feel his heated pants against the skin of her neck…and she found it very exciting.

Her face flushed hotly, and her lids fluttered, but stayed closed, her expression completely absorbed. The urgency from the other night rose, pushing its way to the surface; she didn’t notice and he didn’t care.

His tongue licked a small stroke against her ear. Its unexpected roughness jolted her whole system, and she started in reaction. He laughed softly, a low, brief rumble, and his tongue swiped again. This time she let out a full-blown moan, and her arms tightened around his body. Her hands flexed, and her nails scratched four long, hard lines into the skin of his nape.

Instinctively, she went up on tiptoe. Her breasts ached, crushed against his chest, longing for the feel of his mouth again. He responded with a growl, his arm tightening, pressing her hips into his. His mouth moved lower, his teeth nipping along her collarbone, his tongue tracing dampness along the line where her shirt met her skin.

Somehow, his hand found its way under her top, and his claws raked softly down her lower back before he pressed the soft pads of his fingertips into the skin. He dragged them forward, and the bare scrape of the tips left trails of sparkling heat around her waist. A fierce shiver ran over her body, and a thick ache pooled between her legs, throbbing. His nose twitched against her neck, and he paused for a breath. Another growl escaped, laced with animalistic need.

He finally found her breast, cupping her soft flesh underneath her shirt, his fingers merely pushing the material of her bra up out of his way. His palm felt hot, his long fingers encasing firmly, measuring her weight, his thumb grazing the peaked tip. She started making little sounds in her throat--she didn’t realize, but he did--and his ears twitched. His movements grew rougher, his control starting to slip in the face of her enthusiastic reaction.

His mouth once again captured hers, devouring this time, and she had never been more grateful for the pressure of a kiss. His fingers tensed against the back of her head, delving into her hair so he could ransack her mouth. Her hands grabbed at his face, fingers stroking, memorizing his jaw line. A low growl started deep in his chest, vibrating against her entire body, sounding almost like a purr. She moaned, a deep response that echoed in his throat.

Her head fell back so she could gasp for air, and his mouth moved to the underside of her jaw, teasing the incredibly soft, sensitive skin under her chin, tasting every inch of sweetness she offered him. Her leg came up slightly, wrapping around the back of his while her hands guided him lower.

Her clothes annoyed him, the need to be skin-to-skin suddenly paramount, and he ripped at her top, pulling it up to give him greater access.

The chill of the breeze was a bucket of ice water against her overheated senses. Her eyes snapped open.

He froze, immediately sensing her withdrawal. Her hands dropped to brace against his chest, and her head slowly dropped forward to stare at him. They stood together next to the railing, hearts pounding, both of them suddenly aware of where they were. Aware that they couldn’t continue.

This time frustration put the rumble in his throat. He lowered his head again, capturing her mouth in calming caress, releasing her breast reluctantly and tugging her top back into place. He eased her out of his arms, his hands gripping her shoulders while they recovered some of their senses.

In the half lantern-light, half moonlight, a passionate amber gaze captivated a dazed midnight one as Kagome found herself shaking, panting for breath. They both knew, had they been anywhere else, that she would already be flat on her back. Kagome knew he expected it to happen that way soon, and she wasn't sure, when it came to it, if she would have the willpower to stop him. Or if she even wanted to.

Rattled, Kagome wrenched herself from his fingers and stumbled over to her chair, sinking down on wobbly legs to stare at her feet. She trembled all over. Heat simmered underneath her skin, and every part of her ached to be back in his arms. She fought a losing battle with her own body--couldn’t even guarantee to herself that she wouldn’t invite him to stay when he took her home this very evening.

Three days. Three days, and he had already entangled her with infuriatingly little effort. She needed distance, a little clarity of thought that might help.

Except she didn’t really think anything could. He was a force she couldn't resist, a magnet of heat and contradictions and irresistible sensations. She knew she couldn’t, and more importantly he knew she couldn’t.

She could stop it. She could change her schedule, ignore him, and never see him again; it probably wouldn't be that difficult to get him to go away. But she knew she wouldn't.

He was silent for a long moment. Then, with a resigned sigh, he walked over and dropped her forgotten wrap into her lap. She stared at it in numbed surprise.

Without looking at her, he turned, and with a slight wince of discomfort, settled into the chair across from her. “When I first left, I had nowhere to go, but I was fine with that. I knew enough to live on my own, and I didn’t need much to survive.” She looked up at him, but his head was bent, staring at his folded hands as he talked. She couldn’t see his face, but his ears were drooping slightly, and she stared, enthralled.

“I wasn’t really looking for any place in particular, but I ended up in the forest around here. I didn’t know Bunzo and Fina because they’d moved away from Tokyo years before I was born…but they knew me.” He was quiet, and she sensed the struggle in him as he sought a way to tell her more. “I guess my mother and Fina kept in touch. Whatever the reason, when Bunzo found me, and he offered me a trade: room and board for work.” He shrugged. “It seemed fair enough to me, so I took him up on it. I spent a while here, helping them out, and practiced in my spare time.”

She blinked. “Practicing?”

He stilled for a moment, his eyes narrowed and tense while he stared at her. “Training. Learning how to hunt, how to defend myself, how to take down youkai. Bunzo helped some.”

Training to hunt. His parents died, his brother hated him, whatever home he’d had gone…and his only help was two strangers he’d never met. At eleven. “How long did you stay with them?” She asked it quietly.

He didn’t answer her for a long time. “Not long. A year or two. I had other things I needed to learn. But they were a safe place to come if I needed one.” He exhaled and looked up, his black brows lowered in a frown that had nothing to do with anger. “Just…don’t be afraid of me, okay? I might not do everything right, but you can trust me.”

Kagome nodded, feeling sad for him, but keeping it to herself because he didn’t want that, and wouldn’t appreciate it. And feeling just a little bit warmer because she believed him. Suddenly she was exhausted. She needed time to absorb everything, to accept what had happened in such a short amount of time.

And somehow, he knew.

He drove her back to her apartment in silence. To her amazement, regardless of everything they'd talked about, it happened again. That calm, contented, unbelievable silence. Even with what had just occurred between them and despite that mysterious, frustrating pull--still, that comfortable, gratifying quiet. There was something about it that she couldn't pinpoint, some word or idea that fit the natural way they fell into simply being with one another. For a moment, she struggled to name it, as if identifying it would take the uncertainty out of the whole situation; but in the end, all she knew was that it felt right to be with him.

Conversation optional.

Then she wanted to laugh. He would probably appreciate the conversation optional part.

He walked her up to her apartment, and waited for her to open the door. He insisted on walking in first, only allowing her inside when he was satisfied. She didn’t understand it, didn’t understand what he thought could possibly happen to her in her own apartment. But she allowed it, even appreciated it. No one--not even her own family--had ever made her feel this safe.

She was afraid again, afraid he would push, afraid he would get his way. Emotionally, she couldn’t fight him. Emotionally, she wasn’t sure she wanted to.

At the door, he paused, and her heart jumped to her throat. He studied her with wary golden eyes. Then, with a resigned sigh, he shook his head and pulled her close, kissing her like he’d kissed her earlier: sweetly, gently, tenderly.

He lingered over her and she let him, savoring the slow, lazy build of heat in her limbs. His hands waist felt warm and heavy with leashed strength, and their presence there put tiny flutters in her stomach.

He pulled away reluctantly, his thumb brushing once more over her cheekbone. “Get some sleep.”

Closing the door--locking him out without really wanting to--she slept, a restless sleep filled with fitful dreams and phantom longings.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Chapter 4
Chapter 6
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