“Kagome!” he yelled, running like a red and silver streak through the brush and trees, winter bare and stark.
He could smell the smoke in the air, and with it the smell of horses and strange men. A haze of it hung heavy in the chill air. He had been in the village, talking with Kaede and Miroku when the alarm had sounded. A group of raiders, all mounted and well armed, had ridden into town, screaming and burning as they rode. The villagers had fought the group that attacked them valiantly. The group of bandits with their swords and lances and horses, was not expecting fighters who were experienced and unafraid and who had youkai strength and power, and either died or scattered.
The fight finished quickly. Then suddenly InuYasha realized that neither Kagome nor Rin was in the village when the attack began - they had been out gathering herbs.
His blood pounded in his ears. “Kami-sama, please,” he whispered.
He passed a hut not far from where Miroku lived, outside of the center of town and the safety in numbers it gave, or what was left of it, smouldering in the hazy sunlight. The roof had collapsed from the fire the bandits had set. The yard had been trashed, there were no bodies in sight, nor did he smell any blood. He had seen the farmer who lived there down in the village talking with Miroku and Sango. The children of the village, including Sango’s girls, were all safely with Kaede, being entertained by Shippou. If he hadn’t agreed to carry that load from their last market trip when Miroku had asked this morning, his friends might have all been home when the bandits rode by, caught unaware. But he shook his head at the thought that followed - if he hadn’t left, then Kagome wouldn’t be out there somewhere, unprotected.
“Damn their sorry asses to hell,” he said, as he bent over to pick up a spent arrow. It wasn’t one of Kagome’s.
The field where Kaede had sent Kagome was empty, although there were signs of horses passing through. His heart began to hammer in his chest. He turned and headed to his house. As he neared the old well, he heard the garbled sounds of a man screaming, and could smell the scent of spilled blood long before he passed the Goshinboku.
“Kagome!” he yelled again as he burst through the clearing their home was in.
It was not a sight he expected. Across the trampled garden lay three men, two with arrows in their back. Suddenly, a blur in white and red bounded out of the door and into his arms.
“InuYasha! I was so worried!” Kagome said as she wrapped herself around him. “How are the others?”
He wound his arms around her, snugging her into a protective hold. “You’re safe,” he breathed, looking into her stormy gray eyes, looking at him anxiously, both frightened and relieved. He brushed a stray bit of hair off of her face. “You’re safe,” he repeated. “When I found out you weren’t in the village, I almost died.”
His mouth found hers as they reassured each other of their safety. After a moment, he broke the kiss, and moved back enough to really look at her. She had a smudge on one cheek, but otherwise, looked like no one got near enough to touch her. He gently rested his hand on her swollen abdomen.
“The baby’s okay, InuYasha. I’m okay. Rin’s okay,” she said, giving him a soft smile as she reached up and cupped his face. “None of the bandits got near enough to touch me.”
InuYasha kissed her again. “I don’t know what I would have done if anything happened to you,” he breathed.
She sighed, and relaxed into his hold. “The village?” she asked.
“Everybody’s fine. The bastards managed to burn down a couple of buildings, but everybody’s all right.” He looked around him. “What happened here? Where’s Rin?”
“We were in the meadow gathering herbs when we saw the riders go by. I decided to come here instead of trying to make it back to the village, cause I was hoping it was far enough off the road that we’d get by without being discovered.” She looked up at him InuYasha began to growl. “Someone must have seen us, though, because three or four of them rode up here. Or maybe they were running away from the village. I shot a couple of them, but one of them managed to grab Rin.”
InuYasha’s growl got deeper and he tensed. “Where is she?”
Kagome gave his chin a small kiss.“It’s all right, InuYasha. She’s in the hut, laying down. But for a moment, I didn’t know what to do. I could have shot the bandit, but I was scared I’d hit Rin.”
“So what happened?” He ran his fingers through her hair.
“This Sesshoumaru is what happened, Little Brother.” The tall, white-clad youkai stepped out of the hut. “Rin is sleeping. Guard them well, InuYasha.” He inclined his head ever so slightly towards Kagome, and disappeared into the woods.
For a moment, InuYasha said nothing, staring in the direction where his brother had disappeared. “He . . . he just showed up and took out the last of the bandits?”
“I KNEW the bastard’s been hanging around,” he said, making a dark face. “He still doesn’t trust me to keep an eye on Rin.”
“Well this was one time I was glad he was.” Kagome replied.
“Yeah,” InuYasha said, sighing a little. “Yeah. Me, too.” Gratefully, he led his wife back into the house.