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The Road to Paradise

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Chapter 1:

With Kouga's scent heavy in the air and his howls echoing throughout the area, InuYasha knew he had to get Kagome to safety and quick, and for once the girl wasn't arguing.

He knew she was only cooperating because she was terrified.

You could look at her and tell that.

The girl was holding tightly to him, fingers embedded deeply into the red fabric of his haori as she stared over his shoulder every now and then with wide, glistening brown orbs that reflected every bit of her terror.

He couldn't say he blamed her for being scared, either.

Mating Season had finally hit, and though it sounded like a happy occasion (and it was for many), it could also be very scary and very, very dangerous—especially if you just so happen to find yourself running away from a male, who's hot on your trail, with his potential mate cradled in your arms.

That was exactly the scenario they were in and also the reason for why they were rushing towards the Bone Eater's well as if their very lives depended on it.

Kagome's world was the only place in existence that was truly safe, and only because it was beyond Kouga's reach. Any other place would not have worked.

With the Mating Season bearing down upon him, Kouga had been reduced to his most primitive state of being—to a creature not unlike the very wolves he ruled over, and without any trace of rationality to hold him back, the wolf Prince was fully capable of doing absolutely anything if it meant getting a hold of Kagome. That included destroying the village and killing everyone in it who happened to get in his way.

No one would've been safe—not even Shippo, and that was why they were seeking shelter in Kagome's time and not in the village amongst their friends. Though, that's not to say that the old priestess and the villagers weren't being protected.

Sango, Miroku, and Kirara had stayed behind just in case.

When they reached the well, the human girl clambered quickly up onto the well's side as the Half-Demon ushered her forward, knowing that time was of the essence.

Casting one last fright filled glance in the direction of the village, Kagome could almost feel a pair of eyes watching her from the shadows of the trees. Knowing that someone was possibly watching her was enough to send goose bumps down her spine. Though it was nothing new, she still didn't like it one bit.

"Just, go already," InuYasha barked, instantly drawing her back from her thoughts and reminding her that they didn't have a moment to waste. "I'll be right behind you."

Kagome eyed him uneasily before glancing once more in the direction of the trees. After a brief second, she reluctantly turned back around and cast herself off without a second's delay, allowing the well's magic to transport her to the safety of her own world and out of harm's way.

When she landed safely on the other side, she glanced about looking for InuYasha, excepting him to be right behind her as he'd promised. To her surprise, he wasn't.

Frowning, she thought about going back, thinking something must've happened, but thought better of it for once.

She wanted to help him, and after so many years of running head first into battle alongside him and the others—against Demons far stronger than them all put to together, she would've gone to InuYasha's aid without a second thought. Thing was, Kagome knew that now was not the time to act recklessly.

This was not some random Demon or even Naraku they were against.

This was Kouga.

He was a close friend and loyal to a fault. To go against him after everything they had been through, Kagome didn't think she'd even be able to let an arrow loose against him, and that was why she was refraining from going back, because she would only get in the way and possibly end up causing InuYasha to get hurt, or worse… killed.

To think of Kouga doing such a thing was a hard thing to digest. It just didn't seem like something he would do, especially when you consider all the times he had rescued InuYasha and vice versa, but then he wasn't exactly in his right mind either at the moment-if that howling was anything to go by.

She was just glad that he couldn't pass through the well like she and InuYasha could. At least he couldn't come after her.

With that last train of thought in mind, she came to a stop before the door that led outside as something else suddenly occurred to her, something troubling.

If Mating Season was affecting Kouga this badly, then what of InuYasha? He was a male too, so did that mean he would eventually loose control?

It was a troubling thought indeed. Not only because of the potential threat he would be to her, but because he could pass through the well.

There would be no safe place to escape from him, and just the thought of him charging into her home and attacking and ripping her family to shreds with blood red eyes and extended claws and fangs was enough to make her sick. She couldn't bare the idea, and yet if she went back she would run smack dab into both of them, and that was definitely a no go.

She couldn't raise a weapon against InuYasha anymore than she could Kouga. If anything, it would be far harder in his case.

Running wouldn't do any good either because both could easily out run her. She would never make it to the village or to Sango and Miroku before one of them caught her.

And so the only option left to her was to continue on into the house and hope for the best, but that doesn't mean she's going to be a sitting duck though.

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Back in the Feudal Era, perched up on top of the well, InuYasha stared back in the direction of the trees, his golden eyes searching for any sign of the stupid wolf.

Kouga was there. He knew he was.

He could feel the mongrel's eyes on him, watching his every move.

Leaving was probably the wisest thing he could do. With Kouga in this primitive state, the last thing he needed was a confrontation with him. He was reluctant though, even in spite of this fact, but even so, he let himself slip reluctantly backwards into the well, the same magic as before flaring up around him as it transported him five hundred years into the future—to a world that was as alien to him as he was to it.

When he finally touched down in the modern world, he was momentarily surprised to find no Kagome waiting for him.

Figuring that the girl was simply waiting for him inside as she sometimes did, he went on around the outside of the main house and jumped up to the priestess's window and peaked inside.

The sight that met his eyes was totally unexpected.

'What's with the bow and arrow?' he wondered, his brows furrowing as he observed Kagome's tense state. The girl's spare bow lay across her lap, while an arrow lay resting between her fingertips.

He couldn't see her face so he had no way of knowing what she was thinking, but surely she wasn't thinking of heading back.

Kagome wasn't that stupid.

Deciding it was best to go on in and stop this now before things got out of hand, InuYasha shoved the window open with a wham.

Kagome's head whipped around at the sound. Weary brown eyes locked with concerned gold for a solid minute, her hands grasping her weapons tightly. When InuYasha made no move to do anything more than stare at her from his squatted position on the window seal, the girl seemed to sigh with relief, her body and hands relaxing simultaneously.

InuYasha however remained hesitant to move and unsure of what to make of this odd, startling behavior, a frown at his lips.

He wasn't nearly as stupid as what he made himself out to be. He knew Kagome had been eying him as a potential threat. That hurt, it really did, though he supposed he could understand the why.

Kagome was just trying to be safe rather than sorry. Smart really, but pointless when it came down to it. The girl didn't know that though.

"Sorry," Kagome apologized sheepishly, her voice sounding stressed and uneasy. She never moved to shove her weaponry off her lap, "I had a thought back in the well house that troubled me…"

"I kinda figured that," he snorted lowly as he finally crept from the window and began to move towards her, only to stop short when Kagome held out a hand to stop him, those weary brown eyes demanding that he keep his distance for the time being. For once he obeyed without argument, understanding the situation before Kagome had even begun to voice her worries.

"Myoga said all males are affected. So what's to keep you from loosing control? What's to keep you from coming after me too, InuYasha?"

Her question was not unexpected, but that didn't make it any easier to explain.

The only valid reason was one he couldn't just come out and explain. It would take sharing his darkest secret—one very few were aware of, and after two hundred years, he wasn't so sure he could.

But if he didn't tell the truth, then he would have to lie. That was problematic as well.

What could he possibly come up with? What could he possibly say that wouldn't contradict with anything Myoga had already explained to her?

Kagome was many things, but she wasn't stupid—naïve maybe but not stupid. He knew better than to hope that some random thing off the top of his head would appease her. At least not this time, not when she felt threatened.

But if he couldn't come up with a believable lie, then he was back at square one. He would have to tell the truth.

But could he really just come out and tell her?

Kagome had proven herself more than trustworthy by keeping his other secret safe. Trust wasn't the issue here. It was the consequences of telling her that he feared, and if not for them, he knew he would've told her and the others long ago.

He was afraid of loosing her.

Kagome hated being lied to more than anything. She was his closest companion—his dearest friend. For him to hide something so crucial from her, after everything they had been through, that was betraying her trust and their friendship. It also didn't help that she was in love with him.

Telling her now would only tear her to pieces, and like Kikyo, she'd probably end up hating him for betraying her.

Could he really just come out and tell her knowing that?

I don't know

"You don't know?" Kagome asked incredulously, startling him from his thoughts and bringing him to the realization that his last train of thought had been spoken out loud by accident.

"So what, you're just going to chance it?"

Apparently, she thought his whispered 'I don't know' was a response to her own question. It was definitely a misunderstanding, but it was also clearly not the answer Kagome had wanted either.

"That's pretty irresponsible, you know that, InuYasha? Did you even think about what could happen? In case you've forgotten, I'm not the only one you're endangering here by going on this little hunch of yours. What about my family? What about Souta and my Mom? What about my-"

"Will you just shut up?!" InuYasha suddenly snapped, shocking her into silence. He knew he shouldn't be yelling at her, but he was beyond fed up. It also did not help that he was moodier than normal due to the Mating Season and it's crummy side-effects. He was having a hard enough time controlling his emotions without having to deal with her and her accusations. Though he had to admit, deep down, it was not she he was mostly irritated with. It was himself and this stupid situation he had gotten himself into.

Nothing could change the fact that this mess was still his fault.

How could it not be?

If he had just told her in the beginning or at least before now, none of this would be happening. Everything about this Mating Season would've been so much easier, and he wouldn't currently be on the verge of loosing her as he feared, but as usual, he had screwed up royally.

"InuYasha," Kagome started to say, her face darkening with frustration at his tone of voice, but he cut off her once again before she could say anything further than his own name. With his eyes to the floor and his arms folded against his chest, he ignored her scowl and huff of indignation and continued on as if she had never spoken.

"I don't know why it doesn't affect me. Maybe it's because I'm only half-Demon or maybe it's because I'm not what you think I am."

With that last part on his tongue, he let his actual voice slip past his lips, allowing Kagome to hear it for the first time. The reaction was near instantaneous.

The girl's body froze up instantly, the irritated frown giving way as her mouth dropped open comically. Those expressive brown eyes popped wide, blinking bewilderedly as she openly gaped at the Half-Demon, who was awaiting a response.

Though InuYasha had failed to witness any of this, for his eyes were still to the floor, he had heard her sharp intake and could sense her shock. He knew Kagome had been stunned shitless.

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For several awkward moments an awkward silence reigned until Kagome finally managed to pull herself back together, or at least enough to get the answers she now desperately needed.

To ask, "You're keeping secrets again, aren't you?" was stating the obvious, so she cut to the chase. Beating around the bush never solved anything, especially not with InuYasha, who had no more patience than the man in the moon. Not to mention, he had practically thrown a bone to her already, so what was the point?

"What exactly do you mean by that, InuYasha?" she demanded to know with a soft, yet firm voice, "What are you hiding now?"Her hands clenched upon her lap with unease as she bit her lip. She wanted to yell and demand an explanation, but her family was downstairs, and though they had witnessed she and InuYasha bickering time and time again, the anger she could feel circuiting through her system was not something she wanted them to see… or even to hear.

And speaking of hearing…

"And why does your voice sound so…"

So un-InuYasha

That was the only way Kagome could truly describe it, and that's why she asked.

It wasn't the deep, gruff voice she had grown to love. There was not only a softness to it, but it was definitely higher in pitch. Not as high as her own, but still definitely much higher than his usual speaking voice. It also held a more than definite feminine ring to it, and if she didn't know better, she'd say it belonged to a young woman and not a male Half-Demon, but that was impossible.

InuYasha was most definitely not female.

There was no way on Earth he was female.

There was nothing remotely feminine about him.

Sure he had those beautiful gold eyes, long lashes, and that ridiculously long, soft hair that could make any girl envious, but that didn't make him female.

But, then how else could she explain that voice?

It had not sounded anything like the InuYasha she knew.

What exactly was this secret of his?

She had her suspicions-she'd be stupid not to have them, but did she really want to know?

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The Half-Demon unfolded his arms and let them drop to his sides in exasperation.

Kagome was indeed putting two and two together. He knew she suspected, but apparently his hint wasn't good enough. Either that or she simply wanted confirmation.

That was more likely.

She probably wanted him to come out and say it, but damn it, why did she always have to make things so damn complicated? Couldn't she just take a hint and figure it out herself? Couldn't she make it easy on him for once?!

"Oh, come on, I'm female! Ain't that obvious, yet!" InuYasha snapped indignantly, throwing his—or well—her hands up, fed up with this whole charade. "Or was my hint not good enough for ya?!"

When the girl simply stared at her from her place on the bed, her expression unreadable with wide eyes, InuYasha found herself growing even more irritated, wishing Kagome would just say something—anything, already. She wanted her to hurry up and just get mad and take her anger out on her like usual. Even a SIT would've worked.

All she wanted was for this thing to get over and done with. If she was going to loose her as a friend, then what was the point in prolonging the inevitable?

"What more do I have to do, stupid? Show you?!" She shouted again, while simultaneously trying to fight back her tears and emotions at the same time.

Damn it! Damn it! Damn it!

Of all the times for Kagome to find out, why did it have to be now?

Why during the Mating Season?

Any other time would've been preferable. At least then she wouldn't have been a hormonal mess. She wouldn't have been in heat.

She was really beginning to question her luck.

Kagome's lips scrunched up and she prepared herself for the onslaught, knowing that her last outburst had no doubt angered the girl, but the yelling never came.

What met her ears was a voice so soft and quiet, that it left her doing a double take.

"No…no, I understand," Kagome whispered.

InuYasha could hear the tears in her voice, could see as her shoulders began to shake. Kagome was no longer staring at her. Her head was dipped low and her eyes were shielded behind a splay of ebony bangs—much like her had been moments before.

Though she couldn't see her expression, InuYasha could practically feel the misery and hurt wafting off the girl in waves, and she felt her anger and irritation deflate almost instantly, guilt taking over. Her tears however still fought to break free.

"You're a…a…woman. That's why you're not being affected…"