AN: Here it is. The final chapter. Thank you to everyone who has kept up with the story and supported me. To the reviewer who was number 300, congrats and thanks. Wow. I really am more pleased than you can imagine that my story could gain such a wide acceptance. Again thank you. I would like to give special thanks to my mom who, even if she doesn't find it the most interesting thing in the world, has supported my writing and even helped me write some of the chapters for this story. Thanks mom.

I'm glad to see that one person figured out the Naraku thing! My plans do work!

Oh, yeah, please don't kill me. Flame me all you want. And you will want to.

Disclaimer: You know how much I hate these things, but for old times' sake, do you really think that a person that writes like me could own Inuyasha? I didn't think so. So on to the last chapter!!!

A TWIST OF FATE*~CHAPTER 20

"How do you know they won't come tomorrow! And how do you know that I'll even let you near me!!!" Kagome yelled, he face twisting, on the verge of tears.

A twisted smile pulled at Naraku's lips, making him more malicious-looking than Kagome had ever witnessed him.

"I didn't say that Sesshoumaru-sama or Inu Yasha would not come for you. I said they would not retrieve you. And as for your willingness to cooperate, I can be very convincing. Tomorrow, Kagome. Tomorrow." With that, Naraku had rose and left her chained and broken on the floor.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Needless to say, Kagome had not slept. She had laid against the wall, her hands and feet in chains, her hope in tatters, having been shred by Naraku's last words.

Any way she looked at it, any outcome at all, was not a good one for her. They were as follows:

Sesshoumaru shows up. He keeps her until he gets the tetsusaiga back from Naraku, or hopefully until she has collected the rest of the shards. There was no way he would keep her in tow, was there?

Inu Yasha shows up. Revenge was almost certain. Without the sword to subdue him, in a fit of anger he would probably shred her to pieces.

Third possible outcome, which she didn't even want to consider, neither of them come to get her and she is Naraku's slave for the rest of her life or until he kills her. No. She would never be Naraku's slave. But, she had to say, all possible outcomes were bleak, and it was taking a toll on her. Her energy felt drained just from being…wherever she was and even her fear of what awaited her could not drain out the amount of pain she was in. Naraku had evidently broken her wrist last night after coming back from whatever blasphemous thing he had done this time. He had told her the options and, when she had tried to kick him, broken her wrist "in case she got any little ideas tomorrow" . It was now deep shades of blue and purple and was throbbing consistently.

How had this happened? She had been going about in her own merry little fantasy where she was in love with Inu Yasha and he had loved her back. Everything was perfect. then reality had hit. Inu Yasha had abandoned her for Kikyo. She had run away, filled with grief, been saved by Inu Yasha's murdering half brother, made a pact against Inu Yasha with him, saving herself, and then had gone off with the half brother, not to mention kissed him numerous times. Well, he had kissed her. And now, now she was a prisoner, battered and hopeless, bound and bleeding, lying on the stone floor in Naraku's mansion. The very Naraku that was the mortal enemy of her and all of her friends. Man, fate was twisted. Twisted and wrong.

"Ah. You're awake."

Speaking of the devil.

"Are you ready, Kagome dearest, for they who will decided your fate?" he smirked wickedly, pulling her to her feet, insuring that he pulled on her wrist a bit in the process. "Oh, don't look so dispassionate. Think of it as a new adventure. It they do not come, I will be sure to make it the time of your life. We may have as many of our own little adventures as we like."

"You sick bastard!" Kagome snarled between clenched teeth as he gripped her wrist more firmly. Naraku laughed his smooth, deep laugh, sending stabbing chills down her spine.

"Come Kagome, we have an appointment…do try to be on your best behavior."

"You are a twisted, perverted, psycho!!!" she screamed, wriggling in his grasp. Kagome could feel a jolt of energy return to her and, focusing her powers into her hand, let a blast go. Naraku pulled back with a hiss.

"Have it your way then. Although, I do believe you should…calm down…" he said smoothly, holding something in his hand. Is that a sedating herb? Kagome wondered for merely a second. "Sleep." Naraku said as if suggesting it nicely.

Suddenly, Kagome felt extremely exhausted. She felt her eyelids droop closed and saw the darkness come upon her.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Inu Yasha was running and jumping as fast as his body would allow him to. He skimmed through the forest, trees and bushes nonexistent as they blurred past him.

It's near. I can smell it. Kagome, I'll get you back. I'll save you. He would explain everything to her then. He would get her back, and, hopefully, she would forgive him. She would have to forgive him. She's Kagome and that's what Kagome does. That was one of the reasons he loved her. She was the most accepting and forgiving person that he had encountered. But, even so, the fact that she may not be able to forgive him this time ate at the back of his mind, slowly minimizing the hope that was planted there.

Inu Yasha bounded towards the clearing, skidding to a halt. What the hell was HE doing here?

"As always, the punctual Inu Yasha."

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

He had, damn the girl, come. That despicable human had found her way into his life, and he was not about to let her just go off, leaving the spot where she had been, empty and meaningless.

He had come earlier than the appointed time, He was not sure of how he would defeat Naraku and take Kagome back. He hadn't thought about it. He just knew what to do. Defeat Naraku and take Kagome back. Even though Naraku was an amiable foe, he was still under Sesshoumaru. It could be very easily accomplished, or it could end up with a very bad outlook considering Naraku now held the famed tetsusaiga. Not that he could necessarily use it.

He held in tow, a bow and a quiver of arrows for Kagome. They might prove useful if the worst case scenario were to come true. This was obviously a trap, but that was of no importance. He was merely doing what must be done. Traps were only traps if you did not know what you were facing. Traps were for fools like his half brother. His half brother who had just come bursting through the forest. Really, the hanyou had no tact whatsoever.

"As always, the punctual Inu Yasha." Sesshoumaru said coldly.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

"What the hell are you doing here!!" Inu Yasha growled.

"I might ask you the same question." Sesshoumaru replied calmly.

"You have nothing to do with this!!" Inu Yasha flexed his claws.

"I might say the same for you." Sesshoumaru stood, calmly, observing his little brother.

"I'm here to get Kagome back!"

"Then out goal is the same." Sesshoumaru said quietly, menace only too evident in his voice. Why did his little brother's dim-witted statement set him off so easily?

Inu Yasha was shocked to say the least.

"You sick bastard. You've hurt her enough already!"

"I did nothing of the sort, though your statement is true on your behalf. Haven't you done enough to her already?" Sesshoumaru's voice was getting calmer, a sure bad sign.

"YOU-"

"As much as I do enjoy this, one of you has a deal to make with me." a cold voice rang out and the white form of a baboon pelt came slowly into view, carrying a dark shape draped across its arms."

"Naraku." Sesshoumaru snarled. This was not one of Naraku's fowl puppets, this was the despised Naraku himself. Sesshoumaru could feel it.

"Kagome!" Inu Yasha gasped at the limp form in his enemy's arms. "What'd you do to her, you bastard." Inu Yasha growled, his fangs showing.

"Oh, nothing much, dear Inu Yasha. She is merely getting a well-deserved sleep." he chuckled as Inu Yasha made to lunge at him, but his elder brother held him back.

Inu Yasha stopped his attack, shocked, when Sesshoumaru restrained him.

"Have you no tact? She is alive." Sesshoumaru whispered coolly. "I will attempt to settle this intelligently, whether you whish to bungle it, or not. You may help, or you may leave." Sesshoumaru hissed. Inu Yasha growled, yanking his arm from Sesshoumaru's grasp.

"Fine. But if he tries anything with Kagome-"

"I will kill him."

Inu Yasha was again shocked. Why was Sesshoumaru there in the first place? What was in it for the big, bad Sesshoumaru anyways? And why the hell did he want Kagome?!!

"Ah, intelligent as always, Sesshoumaru-sama." Naraku stepped out of the line of trees, carrying Kagome. "Now, if we may-"

"Nobody is doing anything until I figure out what the hell is going on here!!" Inu Yasha growled. He turned around to Sesshoumaru. "Why the hell are you here! You've already kidnapped her once, isn't that below the all-powerful Sesshoumaru to do something like that again!! Who the hell do you think you are?!!"

"Oh, did you not know, Inu Yasha?" Naraku broke in. "But she was not only kidnapped by him, she traveled with him everywhere. She stayed, kept, at his home. She watched the young girl Rin, and did whatever he desired." Naraku put influence on the last sentence, watching, entertained, as Inu Yasha's eyes grew darker, taking on a red tint.

"You, Inu Yasha, truly are a fool, if you believe every word that Naraku says. The girl was not, nor ever, kidnapped by myself. I met her by chance after, what I would guess, was a less than good, encounter with you and your dead whore. She was more than grieved. So if you wish to place blame, do so unto yourself. I was not the cause of her grief."

Inu Yasha was slightly taken aback, giving Sesshoumaru the sign that the hanyou was aware that the claim could very well be true.

"So you met an out-of-it Kagome and decided you'd talk her into doing your 'whishes' so that you could get to me!!!! You bastard!!!!" Inu Yasha's eyes were changing again slowly as Sesshoumaru became aware again that Inu Yasha was not in possession of the tetsusaiga.

"H-uh?" a muffled sound came from the form still held in Naraku's arms, woken by the loud snarls and growls.

"Ah, the main attraction is awake." Naraku said in a silky tone that the girl knew only too well.

"Kagome?!" Inu Yasha prompted the sleepy girl, but he was restrained again by his brother. His focus on Kagome, Inu Yasha pushed aside the thought of Sesshoumaru.

Kagome looked about her, then up at the face staring down at hers, and her heart stopped beating for a moment. Naraku smirked and set her on her feet in front of him, hands clasped tightly on her shoulders, allowing her little movement.

Sesshoumaru could smell the blood on Kagome. There were the small cuts he had made, and then there were completely new ones which marked her skin along with black and blue bruises. Sesshoumaru gazed at the girl, taking in her injuries and her beauty once again.

"Inu Yasha. You don't understand." Kagome called to him. " I heard you and Sesshoumaru. Sesshoumaru was telling the truth. I-I was mad and I was going to go to my time, but I was attacked and Sesshoumaru saved me. Then, well, I kinda made a deal with him. I thought you had left me forever, so I said that I would get Sesshoumaru the tetsusaiga if, in return, he would help me collect the rest of the jewel shards."

Inu Yasha stood, shock evident on his face. "You-you mean-"

"I went willingly with Sesshoumaru, Inu Yasha."

Inu Yasha stood still, rooted to the spot. "Inu Yasha, Sesshoumaru was telling the truth. I'm sorry."

As if suddenly understanding, a wave seemed to wash over Inu Yasha's face. Anger, and sadness, or maybe disbelief grew in his eyes. Maybe she had been under a spell. That bastard Sesshoumaru had done something to her. He'd talk sense into her later. His Kagome. His Kagome had betrayed him. It was true. Anger took over.

"What the hell did you think you were doing, making a deal with Sesshoumaru! What the hell's wrong with you, Kagome! WH-"

"Inu Yasha. Do you have the payment for our deal?" Naraku's cold voice cut in, stopping Inu Yasha short.

"Y-yeah." He'd get her back. Inu Yasha brought out a small pouch and Kagome could sense four shards radiating from within it.

"W-what deal?!" Kagome screeched. "What's he talking about, Inu Yasha?!!!"

"Oh, dear. You didn't explain to her, Inu Yasha."

Inu Yasha looked at Naraku in horror.

"You see, dear Kagome…" Naraku gripped her shoulders, nails cutting into her skin. "you're not the only one who has been making deals lately..our dear friend, Inu Yasha, made a deal with me to get you back. In exchange for you, I get the rest of the shards in Inu Yasha's possession. It's quite simple really, wouldn't you agree, Inu Yasha?" Naraku smirked widely, his gaze sparkling red.

Kagome went pale. "Y-you made a deal with Naraku..?" she whispered.

Inu Yasha's head dropped and a small "yes" escaped his lips. Kagome blinked in shock. "But I was only trying to get you back, Kagome!!" Kagome stared at the hanyou blankly. Inu Yasha, panicking, turned to Sesshoumaru. "This," he growled. "is all your fault." What the hell did you put in her head?!"

"Whatever it is," Sesshoumaru replied, talking for the first time in a while, "you have put there yourself, do not place blame on me." golden eyes narrowed.

"HOLD IT!!" Kagome yelled at the top of her lungs. "I don't care what any of us has done! Can't you see?! Naraku's turning you against each other!!" Kagome struggled against Naraku's grasp, nearly breaking it, but was rewarded with a painful nail dragging across the old gash on her cheek.

"You will hold your tongue, miko." Naraku whispered in her ear. Kagome looked to Sesshoumaru who nodded once in understanding.

"I'm surprised you don't know me that well after all of the stalking you've done." Kagome's eyes sparkled dangerously. "Otherwise you would know, that I am not a girl who would ever think of holding her tongue, especially around things like you!!" with that, Kagome ducked as Sesshoumaru lunged forward, attacking Naraku with his poison claws. Naraku easily dodged it, but lost his grip on Kagome who ran as fast as she could away from her captor.

"Kagome." Sesshoumaru called, landing behind Naraku. "By the tree." Resting against a tree was a bow and a quiver of arrows. Kagome ran over and snatched them, knowing exactly what she had to do. She notched an arrow, aiming it at Naraku at the same time as Sesshoumaru attacked. Naraku dodged Sesshoumaru's attack, sending out poisonous vapors, but Kagome's arrow skimmed his left arm, purifying a portion of Naraku's shoulder. Kagome notched another arrow, watching as again, Sesshoumaru attacked, this time drawing toukijin. He swung the sword, sending its force at Naraku, the energy of toukijin colliding with a barrier that Naraku set up just in time, deflecting the attack.

"Inu Yasha!" Kagome called, stringing yet another arrow onto the bow. Inu Yasha understood, rushing past her to attack Naraku, but stopped midway.

Kagome caught something red out of the corner of her eye, turning just in time to see the Kikyo, poised and ready to shoot, arrow pointed straight towards her. Kagome's eyes opened wide as an arrow flew towards her. There were two flashes of bright light and Kagome gasped as a shudder of pain escaped lips.

Kagome stood, rooted to the ground, looking at the spot where the dead priestess had just been standing. Inu Yasha stood over a pile of bones and dirt, clutching his stomach.

Kagome watched as he turned to her slowly.

"Kagome…" Inu Yasha collapsed to the ground, two arrows protruding from his stomach.

"Inu Yasha!" Kagome ran over to the spot where he lay. Behind her, the sounds of battle fell and Sesshoumaru landed on his feet, not more than ten feet away from Kagome as she heard the malevolent laugh of Naraku. Kagome turned, fire in her eyes.

"NARAKU-"

"Not quite the outcome I could have wished for, but sweet nonetheless, isn't it? Kikyo has been killed for me, Inu Yasha will die in a matter of minutes, if not seconds, and I have the jewel shards that the famous miko Kagome was holding. How pleasing." Naraku again laughed, the steely coldness reverberating through the forest as Kagome watched his body vanish slowly.

"Inu Yasha! Are you ok?! Kikyo's…dead." Kagome knelt down next to him. His breathing was labored and his eyes were shut tight in what Kagome could only imagine was a horrible pain. "What's wrong?!"

"Maybe it's the two arrows going through my stomach, idiot. And I know Kikyo's dead." he winced.

"B-but you've been shot before.." then Kagome remembered that that shot had 'killed him' for fifty years.

"That doesn't matter…Kagome…" Inu Yasha's faced twisted with pain.

"Don't say anything Inu Yasha. I'll go get help!"

"No, it's not worth it. I-I-"

Don't say it Inu Yasha! You're not going to die! I know you won't! Kagome looked at him with pleading eyes, hoping that he would understand. Thankfully, Inu Yasha was stopped from saying anything, contorting his face with pain yet again.

"Kagome, I wanted you to know. Even if you didn't forgive me, I wanted you to know." He coughed, blood dribbling down his chin, but continued slowly. "I realized after I lost you that I had lost something very important to me. Something I couldn't live without. I'm sorry that I made a deal with Naraku and now he has your shards, but I only did it to get you back. Only to have you back…"

Kagome didn't want to hear him say it. She'd cry if he did. She'd break down on that very spot, she was sure of it.

"You were never Kikyo's replacement. Maybe at first you looked like her… but now I know that you're Kagome…. You're completely different…and I..I.."

Don't say it, Inu Yasha…please…don't. She could feel the tears coming now. Feel them stinging her eyes. A knot rose in her throat and she was unable to say anything.

Inu Yasha grimaced, his eyes closing slightly.

.No Inu Yasha. You don't have to say it. You don't have to die. It'll all work out!!! Just wait a little longer!!

"I love you for being Kagome. You're perfect how you are. I love you…how…you are."

Inu Yasha's form collapsed in Kagome's lap.

Tears were coming now, sliding silently down her cheeks. She wiped the blood from his slowly and whispered "I know. Thank you, Inu Yasha."

Kagome felt a hand on her shoulder.

"Just one minute, Sesshoumaru. I just… need a minute." her head was bowed over Inu Yasha's fallen form, eyes shut tightly, face twisted with the effort of holding back tears She felt Sesshoumaru kneel next to her.

"Kagome…"

"Please don't Sesshoumaru. Don't say anything."

Sesshoumaru nodded. He didn't know what to do. For the first time since he could remember, he was at a complete loss for words. Kagome's tears brought him the greatest grief he had ever experienced.

Suddenly Kagome flung herself against Sesshoumaru, sobbing into his shoulder, unable to hold back any longer. The tears came freely now, along with her shaking body and silent sobs. It tore at his heart. He tears stained his white clothing, her face pressed against his shoulder, hiding her from the world. Sesshoumaru, with nothing else to say, wrapped her in his arms and held her against his chest.

After a while, her crying slowed and Sesshoumaru had made a decision.

Kagome cried into him, clutching at his clothes. Sesshoumaru ran his fingers through her hair, his own mind stunned into a trance. What was I wishing? Why was I hoping that? It was never possible. There is nothing I can do. But there was something. He could do it for her even if she would never be his and his brother held her heart. He could do this one thing for her.

He picked up Kagome, moving her away from Inu Yasha and setting her down again. He walked over to the body of his dead half brother, fingering the handle of a sword. In one movement he removed tenseiga from its holding place.

Kagome watched, her huge eyes reflecting the scene before her as Sesshoumaru made one quick slash at the air over Inu Yasha. He replaced tenseiga into its sheath and stepped away.

"S-Sesshoumaru, it's Inu Yasha, He-" Kagome ran over to Inu Yasha, shock, alarm, happiness flooding through her.

"He will be unconscious for a while. Take care with him." Sesshoumaru stated quietly to her. She probably hadn't even noticed that he had said anything.

Kagome knelt by Inu Yasha, reveling in the rise in his chest that hinted at life. She watched his chest rise and fall, then gloriously as his lips parted, taking in air. Kagome let out a long-held breath, her body shaking, pulling Inu Yasha into her lap. She bent over him, moving his silver hair away from his face and hugging him to her, rocking back and forth.

After making sure that it wasn't a dream, that Inu Yasha was still breathing and that she was holding him there in her lap, she placed him gently on the ground and turned around.

"Sesshoumaru…thank you."

But he was already gone.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

To think that he had taken the pact the girl had offered him. That he had traveled with her east, west, and south. That he had taken her into his home. That Rin had grown attached to her, that he had grown to enjoy her company. That he had been wounded for her. That he had unintentionally made her part of his life. That he had fallen in love with her. But most of all, that he had believed she could love him.

He was walking slowly, away from what had happened. He would not notice his absence, and he didn't expect her to.

She had joined his company because of his brother. Her eyes flowing with tears, her body sobbing and shaking into his, in the end, all for his brother. He couldn't erase that picture of her, kneeling there, crying into her hands over his dead half brother's body. A shock to his system, he had finally had to admit to himself that she still loved his brother, she always would, and while she loved Inu Yasha, she could never love him. It was obvious and logical. So why had he expected anything different?

He left her there, rejoicing in the revival of Inu Yasha. It was the only thing he was able to do for her. He didn't regret it, but there was a harsh reality that fate had concealed from him, only to let loose on him later, in his action of returning Inu Yasha into the world. He wouldn't have done it, if not for Kagome, he realized.

Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad. He could take Rin to see her some time or he could return home and hope that Rin would forget the woman, that he would forget the woman. It wouldn't be a simple thing, but they would manage. They woman was no longer his responsibility, now that Inu Yasha would be watching over her. He needn't be bothered be her any longer. He should look at it as a relief. So why did his mind jump when he heard the unmistakable pounding of footsteps, the panting of one who had just ran half a mile, and the determined, but soft voice call out to him?

"Sesshoumaru…"

He didn't turn around.

"Sesshoumaru…I…"

"What do you want, girl?" his tone was more harsh than he had intended. She would also be mad at him for calling her girl. But, she didn't yell at him or cry at the harshness.

"I wanted to talk to you."

Sesshoumaru was going to state the obvious, but decided against it.

"What you did back there, I could never thank you properly or enough."

"Then don't and leave me in peace." He didn't want to turn around and see her huge watery eyes, whether they were full of sorrow or thankfulness. It was for his brother.

"Sesshoumaru," Kagome walked up to him slowly and placed a hand on his arm. He shuddered at the touch. "what you did was the most selfless, noble thing I have ever seen anyone do, youkai or human." Sesshoumaru winced slightly and Kagome removed her hand from his arm. She stepped back and turned to leave.

Sesshoumaru thought about what she had said. Great. So now he was a martyr. He growled, spinning around. He would find the girl and tell him to leave all notions and memories of their time together out of her mind. She was a walking catastrophe for him. But he didn't have to go far. She hadn't gone anywhere. In fact, she had turned back around to face him. What did she want now? To tell him he should become a monk or do charity work? He was going to tell her off, but the words stopped short.

She stood there, looking at him with her big blue eyes. Such unique eyes. But there was not the usual jumble of feelings in them, there was meaning.

"Should you not be tending to my half brother?"

"Sango and Miroku showed up. They took him back to Kaede's village. They're taking care of him right now. Sesshoumaru, when I spent that time with Naraku, he told me that you…that you…"

"What." his glare was cool and steely.

"Well, not exactly told me, but he said that you…you have… feelings for me." she stepped forward, out of the shadow of a large tree she had been standing under and into the sunlight. He hair shone and her eyes sparkled with the remnants of tears. How could anyone not have feelings for her at that moment? It was like a trap, he thought to himself.

"I do not know where Naraku received that information." he stared at her building beauty, her features haunting him. "I wish you a happy life with Inu Yasha." Sesshoumaru turned away, but Kagome spoke yet again.

"I don't want to spend my whole life with Inu Yasha." she stated quietly. Sesshoumaru stopped. What did she mean? "I-I love Inu Yasha."

There they were, the famous words that had been playing in his head since the very moment he had watched her cry over his brother. The words that he had waited to hear, that he knew would come.

"But, I'm not in love with Inu Yasha. He's a great guy, I mean, I traveled with him for a long time, and at one point, I think I did fall in love with Inu Yasha. But now, I love him as a friend would love a dear friend."

What was meant by that statement? She was wasting his time, setting him up for something, he could sense it.

"Well, Mama used to tell me that you can't be in love with more than one person, that's how you know it it's true."

She took another step towards him and he stared down at her, not knowing what she would say, and not knowing if he would like it. Whatever she was trying to say, it was draining her. All her emotion had evidently gone into it. He looked at her suspiciously.

"You see, I can't love Inu Yasha because I'm already in love with someone else. I…" she took the final step separating them and placed her head on his chest, placing her arms around his waist. He didn't stop her. He should have, but he didn't. His mind was too busy. She actually meant that..no..she couldn't be saying that. She wouldn't.

"I'm in love with you…" she whispered quietly into his chest, but she knew he could hear her. She hugged him then pulled her head back to read his reaction. To her relief, he didn't push her away or glare at her. There was no contempt on his face at all. Something had flitted across his eyes, but she was sure it wasn't hate or ill will.

He looked down at her for a few minutes, not saying a word or even moving for that matter. Kagome was scared. What if he thought she was just some stupid human girl who didn't have a chance or that she was a threat to him?

Sesshoumaru stared at her for a long time then blinked. He pulled her away from him, unwrapping her arms.

Oh gods! What have I done?!! She cried to herself. What do I do now?! I can't stand here like an idiot! Kagome, you fool! Naraku was right. Why did you ever think he could love you, a human!

But Sesshoumaru's hand traveled to her chin, lifting her eyes to look into his.

"A while ago you sang a song. Why did you just want someone to know who you were?"

Kagome looked confused for a second, but then it dawned on her.

"Well-I-"

"I know perfectly well who you are. You are Kagome, and you are exactly who you're supposed to be, and everyone loves you for it." He thumb traced her cheek.

"Naraku, he-" Kagome looked at Sesshoumaru, the question evident.

"Naraku, for his many lies, has finally managed to find a truth." Sesshoumaru bent down, kissing Kagome with a freedom which he had never felt before. And he smiled inwardly when she reached up and kissed him back.

"It really is too bad. Inu Yasha never had a chance." a voice echoed from around the two, chilling Kagome to the bone.

"Not you again." she growled.

"Haven't you done enough damage with your pathetic schemes today?" Sesshoumaru stated coldly to an area of trees to their left.

" One down, two to go. Tell me Kagome, Inu Yasha looked like death earlier. Did the corpse improve any?" the voice chuckled menacingly.

"Show yourself, bastard." Sesshoumaru stated and the white-clad figure appeared out of the trees. He hadn't been there for more than a second before a cloud of noxious vapors was shot at them.

"Kagome, stay away. I will handle this." Kagome nodded dumbly and stood back as Sesshoumaru drew toukijin. He locked his glare on Naraku, lunging at the white form. He made a slash sending blades of yellow at the target, but Naraku dodged it, his baboon pelt shredded, falling to the ground. Sesshoumaru decided to use another tactic and attacked from the side, cutting off a piece of black wavy hair.

From the sidelines, Kagome strung a bow and aimed it at Naraku, only to have her opponent vanish rapidly and appear behind her.

Sesshoumaru whirled around, shouting a warning, but Naraku hit her in the head, using the handle of the tetsusaiga. Kagome collapsed to the ground in a heap.

"I'll save you for last." Naraku chuckled, only to be attacked by Sesshoumaru who successfully knocked the tetsusaiga from Naraku's hands.

Sesshoumaru landed next to Kagome's form, only to fly again towards Naraku, yet he was cut short by a loud yell and a blinding light which he was only too familiar with.

"KAZE NO KIZU!!" Inu Yasha yelled, tetsusaiga in hand, flying at Naraku from the side. The light enveloped the area, sending a dangerously palpable force directly at the enemy.

A look of shock crossed Naraku's face as he disappeared. How could Inu Yasha be wielding the tetsusaiga? How could he be alive? And Naraku vanished into the dark."

Inu Yasha dropped to the ground, clutching at his stomach. Sesshoumaru watched him with an indignant stare.

"You should not have come. Your wounds will not heal if you continue fighting."

Inu Yasha clutched at his stomach and stood up slowly. "Since when do you care, you bastard? Who made you my mom?" his hands left his stomach and his glared at Sesshoumaru.

"Why did you come, Inu Yasha."

"I came to get Kagome and kill Naraku, not that it's any of your damn business. Leave now before I slice open your belly."

"Indeed. Aren't you the one with the sliced up stomach at the moment. Fine. Have it your way." Sesshoumaru walked towards Kagome.

"What the hell do you think you're doing!!!" Inu Yasha yelled at him.

"I'm taking her back to my home."

"Damned if you are!! Over my dead body!!" Inu Yasha growled at Sesshoumaru.

"In that case, she is already mine to take home. You have been dead once today already. Do not make it a second."

"Who the hell do you think you are, bastard! Leave Kagome alone!!"

"Kagome has chosen, in as much words, to stay with me. She is mine. I will take her."

"You lying bastard!" Inu Yasha growled, his fang showing. With that, Inu Yasha lunged at Sesshoumaru, claws ready to make their fatal wound. Sesshoumaru was ready though, his claws seeping with poison, attacking with lightning speed.

"NOOO!!!"
Sesshoumaru realized his mistake only too late, attempting to stop, followed by Inu Yasha. There was a ripping sound and a gasp of pain.

Kagome awoke suddenly, he head pounding, only to be distracted immediately by what was happening in front of her. The brothers were going to kill each other. She had to stop them. Before she could think, she had ran in between them. Now, there was a searing pain across her back from her shoulder to the opposite hip and another from her front should to her stomach.

She looked up at the two, a shocked expression on her face. Sesshoumaru caught her before she fell, lying her on the ground.

Inu Yasha stood, a ghastly expression on his face, the shock swallowing him. He mouthed words silently and stepped back from Kagome.

Kagome's expression twisted in pain as she squinted her eyes shut.

"Inu Yasha. Leave. Get help if you can." Sesshoumaru said without looking at the hanyou.

Inu Yasha nodded dumbly. "Kagome…Sorry…I'm so sorry…Kagome.." Inu Yasha turned, the shock still covering his face as he leapt into the air, racing towards Kaede's village.

Sesshoumaru looked at her wounds. Horrible. He had made the attack in the front, only to by nearly perfectly matched by Inu Yasha's on her back. But it was the poison in his that would kill her quickly.

"Sesshoumaru.." Kagome looked up at him. His focus went immediately back to her face.

"I just wanted to say thank you."

What was she talking about.

"I have just wounded you and you are thanking me? Kagome, don't do this."

She coughed, blood trickling down her jaw line. Sesshoumaru pressed a hand to her wound in front, hoping to stop some of the blood.

"Kagome…be silent." Sesshoumaru placed a hand to her lips, drawing tenseiga. He made a cut, but nothing happened. Her wounds did not heal, she was not restored. He raised the sword again.

"No, Sesshoumaru."

What was she saying! What was she talking about!

"Tenseiga can't save me. I don't think it will work on a miko with power like mine and besides..I think tenseiga only helps when other-" Kagome stopped dead. He didn't need the guilt.

Sesshoumaru understood immediately. "When others have inflicted the injuries."

Kagome closed her eyes and smiled.

How ironic fate is. The one thing I wish to save, I cannot because I have injured it. Sesshoumaru sat, placing Kagome's head in his lap.

"Kagome, I'm sorry. I have failed you. I promised to protect you-"

"No, Sesshoumaru, you haven't failed me, you've saved me." She looked up at him, bringing a hand up to trace his jaw. "Sesshoumaru…will you promise me a couple of things?"

Sesshoumaru nodded once. "Anything."

Kagome smiled. "Will you take care of Rin and Shippo? You don't have to snuggle with them every night, but be there for them? I think Shippo will take this hard."

Sesshoumaru nodded slowly, watching her every move. Kagome coughed again, bringing her hand to her stomach, only to pull it away at the feel of torn flesh.

"Oh, and tell Jaken he can have all of my kimonos if he wants them." she smiled brightly, despite the pain and Sesshoumaru, despite himself, smiled weakly in return. "Please..this may be hard…but please try harder to get along with Inu Yasha. You both have great swords now. Do not hold any grudge over me. Please. And tell Inu Yasha thank you for me. He has done a lot for me…Sang and Miroku…tell them I love them…Kaede-bachan too if you can manage it."

She took in a wheezing breath and her whole body shook in his arms, and the red seeped through her clothes. She coughed yet again, the red flying from her mouth.

"But, most of all, thank you for everything, Sesshoumaru. You saved me when I thought I couldn't be saved." Tears threatened to spill out of her blue eyes now as she looked into his golden ones. "I'm glad that someone finally understood who I really am. It was all I wanted and you gave it to me. I have one last favor to ask, if you don't mind…"

Sesshoumaru looked at her, his eyes revealing to her, for the first time, their true emotion. Sadness.

How could this be happening? How could she be dying? And he was the one who had dealt the mortal blow. Fate. Fate was a bastard in disguise, but he had no control. He had finally admitted he loved her, only to have her taken away faster than he had thought possible. It couldn't be happening. She couldn't be dying. Not his Kagome. Not the woman he loved.

"Anything, Kagome." he said, his hand moving a strand of raven hair away from her face.

She smiled at him. Her hope-filled, beautiful smile. "No regrets, Sesshoumaru. Please, don't forget me, but don't let me hold you back." She squeezed his hand softly in hers. "The person I love most in the world once said "remember the past, but do not dwell on it. Instead, look to the future and live in the present". Will you follow his advice?" her grip on his hand weakened.

"Yes, Kagome."

Her hand squeezed his once. "I love you…No regrets… Thank you, Sesshoumaru, for everything…" Then it fell to the ground and her body relaxed in his arms.

Sesshoumaru leaned over her, an unseen force crushing and pulling at his chest, his eyes burning as they never had before. He felt something warm and wet slide down his face, burning a trail into his skin.

"I love you, Kagome. No regrets."

Sesshoumaru buried his face in her chest.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ *

It was minutes later that Inu Yasha came with the old woman, Kaede, riding on his back. When she saw Kagome, she turned away, a tear coming to her eye. She looked at Sesshoumaru, understandingly, and turned away.

"There is nothing I can do." With that, she left, back towards the village to tell Miroku and Sango.

Inu Yasha had stopped dead, staring at Kagome. Sesshoumaru could sense his tears coming. He wished to see no more tears.

"Inu Yasha. She wished me to tell you thank you for what you did for her." Inu Yasha looked up at Sesshoumaru, shocked. Sesshoumaru relayed the parting wishes of Kagome so that Inu Yasha could tell the demon exterminator and the monk, but left out those that were for himself.

Sesshoumaru kneeled down and picked up Kagome's body. He kissed her tenderly before turning to Inu Yasha. There was a small moment of understanding between them. They had, for the first time, shared something. They had both loved the amazing woman, Kagome.

"You know of her mother? I believe she was fond of her." Sesshoumaru asked slowly.

Inu Yasha nodded slowly, eyes on Kagome's loose form.

"Will you take her to her family?"

Inu Yasha nodded, and took Kagome into his own arms.

Sesshoumaru looked at her one last time, brushing her hair out of her face.

"Where are you going?" Inu Yasha asked.

"I have promises to fulfill." Sesshoumaru took off into the well, headed west.

Inu Yasha watched him go, then headed towards the well.

Sesshoumaru would leave the shards to Inu Yasha now. May he do what he would with them, but Sesshoumaru would avenge Kagome and see to the end of Naraku. Then he would go home and maybe he would take Rin and Shippo to a flower meadow he had seen with Kagome.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

AN: Well, there it is. The whole story. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!! I want to say a couple things now. First of all, thanks to my mom for all the ways she helped me throughout this story. Second, thank you thank you thank you to my absolutely wonderful reviewers! I've learned so much from you guys, and you've made everything really enjoyable!!

As for a sequel, no, I will not be writing one, but if one of you figures out something, email me and I'll talk to you about it. I would love to read it. BTW, I am planning on writing a new story very soon, so be on the look out. Thank you to everyone, feel free to tell me what you thought about this story or email me anytime.

Wow, I can't believe this story is finished! I'm almost crying right now, it's so sad, but hey, as Kagome said, "no regrets".