Long time no see, you guys deserve this.

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Losing Grace

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Kagome didn't know how far they traveled, but she didn't quite care either. Right then, there were no thoughts, only the wind rushing past her face and the warmth of Sesshoumaru's back.

One small initiative did run through her head. Never had she been so far from the ground. Not even with Inu-Yasha.

No matter how high he jumped, Sesshoumaru always landed softly. He was only on the ground a second more before they were soaring through the air. It'd been a while since she could relax and just enjoy the moment. She smiled softly against his back.

Suddenly the air wasn't moving. Swiftly Kagome lifted her head to peek around the demon lord's silver hair.

It was beautiful.

She watched the small valley in a sort of awe as flowers moved lazily in the wind. The sound of running water reached her. In the distance was a small river glittering under the afternoon sun.

Kagome didn't notice until she was done observing that she'd left the safety of Sesshoumaru's back.

" It's, it's-" She couldn't finish. Grinning she looked into Sesshoumaru's golden eyes. He only stared back, but she swore his face softened, just the slightest.

Without another word she took off into the field of greens, yellows, pinks, purples, and blues. After some time spent in the flowers twirling around like a crazed dancer, and making brightly colored reefs, she braved the shallow creek.

Hesitantly she tested the knee-deep water, and then waded through. She let her fingers glide across the water's surface.

When the ripples faded away, she looked into her reflection.

No.

Not hers.

Kikyo's reflection.

Her pupils grew as she stared back into the last face she wanted to see. She didn't understand what it was at first, but something icy shot through her veins. Something that made her body shake and her bottom lip tremble.

It was that woman.

"Sesshou-"

He was there before she could breathe the rest of his name. The demon lord stood tall and ready at the stream's bank, but he wasn't prepared for what came next.

A teenage girl bawling her eyes out against his chest.

"Stop crying." He stated firmly. To his irritation there wasn't a response. Human emotions weren't his forte. "Control yourself wench."

She burrowed her face deeper into his kimono as if to block out his voice. He growled in warning.

Nothing.

Sesshoumaru ran a clawed hand through his silvery tresses. He was the epitome of self-control, yet he'd give anything for her to stop crying at that moment.

So he lifted her quivering chin enough that he could look into her eyes. "Kagome, stop crying."

She couldn't stop herself. The softness of his words only made her cry harder. Sesshoumaru sighed in exasperation.

It seemed like an eternity before he tried something else. "I'm listening."

He could have cringed at the words, but they had the effect he'd wanted. The tears had stopped and the girl was only sniffling.

Kagome shook her head, "You don't want to talk about my problems."

"Your right."

"Hey!" Hurt, she jumped back.

He could have laughed at the girl's reaction. Instead he crouched down. "Let's return."

She nodded solemnly and climbed onto his back.

The two traveled in silence amongst the trees until the forest around them became more and more familiar to Kagome. She sniffled and relaxed a little more. She was always comforted by the fact that Inu-Yasha was there in his forest and he would risk anything for her. But the truth was, he wasn't. Not right now, and she couldn't be sure when.

She took a deep breath of the clean oxygen she'd come to love so much.

They landed by the Bone eaters well. Carefully she slid off of Sesshoumaru's back. After a few steps she was in front of the wooden landmark.

Kagome sat down, stretched out her legs, and, after covering herself as completely as possible with her sailor-skirt, patted the spot next to her invitingly. Almost reluctant Sesshoumaru sat, arms crossed, on the lip of the well next to the young woman.

Kagome turned her head to stare up at the lord of the western lands. She couldn't help it; her teenage girl's urge 'to know' would not be nourished by the simple fact that it was rude to ask.

" Why did you come here in the first place?"

Sesshoumaru seemed liked he'd been waiting for her to speak." You should ask yourself that."

Kagome turned away, embarrassed. " I don't belong so I really don't know or understand."

He examined her for a long moment and wondered if she really meant that, then nearly sighed, still unsure when he came to care.

" Kagome," she looked at him quickly and he realized it was the first time he used her name, " eventually you, not fate, will decide where you belong."

Her eyes widened for a moment, and then a simple smile played across her lips. Before the lord of the western lands could see the pools gathering in the corners of her eyes, Kagome leaned her head against his clothed leg.

Somehow, Sesshoumaru stayed motionless.

" Thank you."

The words were so simple; nevertheless they hit him like he often did Jaken. The only other person to ever thank him was Rin. There was a time when he'd never get involved with humans. Now he spent more time with them then he did defending his domain.

The realization made his stomach turn in a strange way, but it wasn't disgust or even sickness. Sesshoumaru wondered what was happening to him, but at the same time he examined a raven lock of Kagome's hair with his fingers.

Besides, he determined logically, something that felt so natural couldn't be wrong.

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