He came to in a place that tasted of blood and pain. All he remembered is shining red eyes and a dull sword. “Kagome!” he screamed. Or at least he tried to. His voice came out hoarsely, more like a croak.
Instantly she was there, looking at him with concerned eyes. In the flickering light of the campfire, he could see that her eyes glittered, but there were no tears. “No, don’t move,” she said. She pressed down on his shoulders, trying to keep him from getting up. “Stay still. You’ll start bleeding again.”
He struggled to sit up, with no success. “Must protect . . . ”
“Not this time, InuYasha.” She bent over him, her dark hair falling on either side of her face like a curtain, and kissed him lightly on the forehead.
The dark-haired man collapsed beneath her firm touch, wincing as he did. He had no strength to fight with her, to do what his heart was screaming at him to do. The air was heavy with the smell of blood, his blood, even enough for his too human sense of smell to make it out. He reached out, found bandages wrapped across him instead of his fire rat.
“Where are we?” he asked. It was hard for him to breathe. Pain radiated from his middle.
“I wish it were a cave, but it’s just a rock shelter. At least nothing will sneak up on us from behind.” She brushed a piece of hair out of his forehead and tucked it behind his human ear. In the firelight, he could see the bloodstains on her chihaya.
“Are you hurt?” he asked, touching the blood with a shaking finger.
“No.” She took his hand between hers, brought the tips to her lips. “Not at all. But you are.” Laying his hand back down, she said, “Rest. We’ve got at least an hour until dawn.” She tossed another stick onto the fire, looking out into the darkness. “I purified the youkai that got you, and found this place. But there’s another one out there. I can feel his youki.”
“I love you, Kagome,” he said, swallowing hard. “Just in case. I want to make sure you know it.”
“Hush, Baka. Of course I know it.” She looked at him fondly. “Just don’t leave me. Dawn’s not that far away.” He nodded.
A dry branch cracked outside of the circle of light provided by their fire. She was immediately on her feet, arrow notched, bowstring taunt.
“Blood,” croaked a voice, deep and rumbling. “I can smell it.” The words were followed by a deep snarl, feral and threatening, made to put them on edge.
InuYasha looked wildly around, trying to find his sword. It was just out of fingertip reach. With a groan he tried to muffle, he rolled over and grabbed it and rolled back, collapsing from the exertion. Taking a deep breath, he turned back towards Kagome and the fire. Branches rustled and broke as whatever was tracking them neared.
“Lay still, InuYasha,” Kagome said.
He looked up at her. The air around her had begun to shimmer faintly pink as she firmed her stance. The ends of her hair had begun to drift in the wind that was created from her own aura. Suddenly, the tip of her arrow began to glow so brightly that he had to protect his eyes. The monster, cat-headed and human bodied, baring teeth and brandishing claws, stepped into the clearing. The light from the campfire reflected in its eyes, making them look huge and spectral, ghost eyes coming to carry them off.
“Move aside, miko. Do not stand between me and my prey,” the bake-neko hissed. “Maybe then I might let you live.”
“Go to hell, youkai!” she said, in a cold, calm, deadly voice. “There’s no way I’m going to let you have what is mine.” She let her arrow fly, and immediately took another from her quiver and notched it.
As the arrow struck home, there was a flash of pink light that lit the clearing like pink daylight. When the light receded, the bake-neko was no more.
“Damn, woman,” InuYasha said, “Remind me never to get you seriously angry with me.”
She turned around and looked at him, only slowly letting go of the tension on her bow. She slowly replaced her arrow back in her quiver, then plopped to the ground. Suddenly she began to giggle. “Remember that the next time you don’t want me to check your bandages.”
Smiling at him and the graying sky, she sat down, and put his head in her lap and waited for the sunrise.