It had been a day like any other: they had woken up early and set off through the countryside, after a while they had stumbled upon a village that needed their help with a demon that was more annoying than menacing. While it had been a weak one, it had taken them a bit longer to get rid of it, because it moved faster than anticipated. Still, it had caused no real damage to the village and no one had gotten hurt, which had been a relief to everyone involved; besides, villagers usually gave them more food to express their gratitude when the village remained unharmed.
The problem, though, started when Miroku had asked the headman of the village for a place to stay for the night since it had been fairly windy out, and the thought of having to sleep another night in the cold filled them all with dread. Even Inuyasha, who didn’t normally complain about such things, had to admit to himself that staying inside with a nice fire and plenty of food (that he didn’t need to catch himself) sounded extremely nice.
“I’m very grateful for your help in freeing us from that demon, we’ve been having trouble with him stealing our food for a while. If there’s any way we can repay you, do let me know.”
Miroku found it strange that the headman had kept his eyes focused on him, only occasionally glancing at Sango and Kagome as he was speaking, given the fact that they had barely even fought the demon--having only cornered him--and it had been, in fact, Inuyasha who had done most if not all of the work.
“Why thank you, we are very happy to know we could be of help. As for repaying, we would be very grateful if you would let us stay the night and provide some food for us so we can recover our energy before we resume our travels tomorrow.”
However, the headman wasn’t too keen on letting a group with two full demons and a hanyo stay in his village despite the fact they had just saved said village from disaster. The rest of the villagers seemed to agree as they were quick to throw barely audible snide remarks everytime they so much as caught Inuyasha’s eyes.
“I’m grateful to you three for saving the village, and I will allow YOU to stay, however the demons must find another place.” He said, addressing Miroku, Sango and Kagome.
Miroku sighed, but tried to reason with him as he was set on getting them a place to stay. “I understand your distrust for demons, as you’ve probably only met ones that wanted nothing but to destroy your village, but I can assure you that my friends are harmless. If anything, we just proved that they mean well by ridding the village of that horrible creature.”
“I do not care if they aren’t dangerous as you say.” The headman interrupted without a second hesitation, making Miroku question if he had been truly listening to what he was saying, or if he had just been thinking what to answer next.
“A demon is still a demon, and I will have no such FILTH sleeping in my village and risk the lives of my people. And don’t get me started on what an abomination the existence of a half breed like that entails for the world!” he spat with disgust, making Miroku and Sango flinch.
Sango stepped forward, feeling herself get mad at the accusations thrown towards her friends.
“As a demon exterminator I can assure you, SIR,” she spat with all the venom she had in her, “That what we say is true, we would not allow any harm to your village, and we most certainly would not travel with anyone we deemed dangerous.”
Sango’s words seemed to get lost on their way to the villagers' ears, for they all scoffed and started murmuring amongst themselves about how disgusting they thought they all were for keeping such company, regardless of what Miroku and Sango had just said.
“Excuse me if I don’t trust your words, no one worthy of my trust would display affection for a half demon like that.” He threw a death glare at Inuyasha. “Everyone knows half demons are the lowest form of life, even more so than demon’s themselves. Half breeds are scum and unworthy of breathing, if you ask me.”
At hearing his words, a sudden wave of rage ran through Kagome unlike any she had felt before. This man had just suggested Inuyasha wasn’t worthy of being alive because of who he was!
Now, Kagome wasn’t stupid--she knew this was not the first time he had been called that, and although she had never heard anyone directly call him anything particularly bad, she had witnessed people being afraid of him and keeping their distance. She even recalled the time he had lost himself to his demon side and slaughtering those bandits, and how the villagers had started expressing their concerns over him. At the time, she had been too stunned to say anything or react, other than search for his face and feel her heart break at the expression he held.
However this time would be different. No one would ever insult him in front of her if she could help it, for she would give everyone a piece of her mind-and with that thought in mind, she walked up right to the headman, pushing Miroku aside.
“EXCUSE ME?” She yelled. “Now I know you’re stupid, because anyone with half a braincell would realize that the one who defeated the demon that was terrorizing YOUR village, was Inuyasha. But I didn’t know you were stupid enough to insult him and think that he won’t GUT you like he did that demon!”
Kagome’s face displayed such rage unlike any of her companions had ever seen--it was both scary and inspiring to watch such a small girl have so much nerve against a man that was more than twice her age and size.
“NO, I’m not finished. Inuyasha is brave and selfless and kind. He would make this village 100 times safer if he stayed the night, but you’re so wrapped up in your prejudice you can’t even take the time to see he’s a good man.”
At Kagome’s words, Inuyasha could feel his heart skip a beat and begin to pound at twice the normal speed.
“Not only that, but he was born out of love, something you will NEVER know. His very existence is proof of something beautiful and is beyond anything that you will ever experience, because no one will ever care for you the way I care about him.” Kagome held her ground and stared directly at the headman’s eyes in defiance.
In an act of intimidation, the headman took a couple steps forward and looked down on Kagome as he towered over her tiny frame
“Now listen here little girl, I do not know what kind of spell he has placed over you to make you say such words, as if those things would ever describe the monstrosity that is the result of a demon and human. But his very existence disgusts me, as he is nothing but vermin who should have never been born. Whatever woman brought him into this life should’ve done all of us a favor and drowned him when she had the chance.”
At this Kagome raised her hand and was about to throw the hardest punch she would ever deliver in her life, but was stopped by two strong hands grabbing her by the legs and hoisting her up upon a very strong shoulder, sending her shoes flying as she kicked her feet in a startle.
“Enough already, let’s go, this isn’t worth anyone's time.” Inuyasha said as he started walking away from the village in a quick but steady pace.
“Hey, I wasn’t done with him! LET ME DOWN!” But as much as Kagome kicked and thrashed, she was powerless against Inuyasha’s strong hold until she eventually gave up and allowed him to carry her wherever it was he was going.
The others followed after them, and she silently thanked Shippo for picking up her shoes and bringing them with him, as she had lost her other pair in battle a couple weeks prior, and to be frank she really didn’t want to go barefoot or borrow Sango’s spare sandals since they always flew off during battle and she ended up barefoot either way.
After what seemed like hours--although it was probably more like 20 minutes--they reached a nice clearing in the forest and Inuyasha set Kagome down gently on her feet.
“We’ll set camp right here, there’s enough trees for cover so the wind won’t be too bad.”
Miroku and Sango exchanged glances with each other, but decided to remain silent so as to not upset their friend any further than he already was.
Kagome could tell by Inuyasha’s eyes that he was feeling down and mentally smacked herself for not thinking how what just happened must be affecting him. If she were to guess he was blaming himself for them not having a proper place to sleep tonight.
Shippo returned Kagome’s shoes to her, and as Miroku and Sango started gathering wood to set up the campfire, she walked over to where Inuyasha was sitting, motioning with her head for him to follow.
They didn’t go too far, as it was important to keep close in case trouble arised, but far enough that they wouldn’t be overheard. Kagome knew what they were about to discuss was a delicate subject for Inuyasha, and he wouldn’t open up if he knew anyone else was listening in.
“I’m sorry,” they both said at the same time.
“Whatever are you sorry for?” Kagome asked him incredulously.
“It’s my fault we weren’t able to stay at the village this time, and any other time for that matter, I’m not stupid.” His eyes didn’t have the sparkle they usually held in them, and he was looking down as he spoke almost afraid to look at her after admitting this.
Kagome stepped closer to him and put her hand against his cheek, making him look at her in shock.
“Inuyasha, I meant every word I said back there. You are beyond anything any of those people can imagine. You make sure we always have food, a safe place to sleep. I don’t care that we can’t stay in a hut. As long as you’re with me I’d sleep in a pile of shit - okay maybe not a pile of shit but you get my point”
At this Inuyasha chuckled and leaned into the hand that was cupping his left cheek, closing his eyes and relishing in her scent and close proximity.
“Thank you - for having my back, for saying all those things to him. No one…
no one has ever done that for me before” he opened his eyes and looked at her in a way that let her know how grateful he was.
It was rare that Inuyasha would open up to her like this, that he would express gratitude over what she had done, but it wasn’t that rare was it? When she thought about it and thought about everything they had been through together. Perhaps in the beginning he would’ve scoffed and called her an idiot for thinking that way about him, but now he knew he was worth more than people in the past let him think. She made sure every single day in any way she could to remind him of it, and assure him he was loved.
“We always have each other’s backs, you are worthy of every single breath you take, and you’re perfect just the way you are, there’s not a single hair in your body that I would change… you know that, right? I meant it when I said you were born out of love, I can feel it when you take care of me.”
Inuyasha’s face was burning red, but despite his embarrassment at not being used to such words directed at him, he nodded as a small smile formed in his mouth. For how could his heart not swell at Kagome’s words? Despite past experiences telling him she was probably lying, He knew she meant every word, and most importantly, he believed her with everything he had.
Kagome dropped her hand from his cheek and dragged it downward, touching his arm all the way until she grabbed his hand, interlacing her fingers with his. “Let’s go before the others get worried about where we went.”
Inuyasha began wondering what he had done to deserve such a beautifully mad woman like Kagome. In all his years he never thought anyone would come to love and accept him the way Kagome did. If only he would get over himself and express his feelings towards her, but it wasn’t the right moment yet; he knew in his soul the perfect time would come to let her know how he felt. For now he would have to show it in other ways. He squeezed her hand and gave her the most loving smile he could muster.
“Yeah, let’s go.”
And so they started making their way back to their friends hand in hand.