Disclaimer - I don't own them . . . but thank god I have my zippo with InuYasha on it, and I'm getting the DVD's, or else I'd go insane. (Looks up at a cough from her muse) Okay . . . so I'm already insane @.@

Review Responses -

inulover - *tries to shake the ringing in her ears* Okay, okay . . . here's the update! *looks at Seph, who's holding his head in his hands* Dude . . . I think he's gonna murder you. *hides the Masamune* There, that should give you a running chance . . . I think.

Mystical-Maiden - Thank you, thank you, and thank you again *grin*. If you start a story, email me with a link to it . . . I will happily read it. I still browse through the fanfiction both here and on Adultfanfiction.net on a mostly daily basis for stuff that catches my interest. Oh, and I'm never bored reading my reviews . . . they're the fuel that stokes the creative fire.

Inuyasha Mistress - yeah, I'm usually a cheerful person when it comes to writing . . . get me outside of that, and I'm a very dark, demented individual. But I'm also a romantic at heart, and I guess that does show *smiles ruefully* Some things you just can't hide. Thank you for the vote of confidence . . . so far, the sequel is proving to be a really stubborn piece of work, mainly because I AM trying to live up to the expectations of my reviewers (and fans) and because the actual line of the story keeps swirving a lot atm . . . my mind just can't decide where I want to take it. I have a general overview of it in my head, but the specifics are being real *cough* pains, to put it nicely. But I'm working on it : )

Custos - Yeah, some of us adults don't become total a**holes when we get older and have to start dealing with all the adult shiznit. Don't ever lose your love of anime . . . you will find, as you get older, that you discover whole new depths of storyline in your favorite anime's, simply because now you can understand them, where as before they were vague. Keep reading, writing, watching, and loving, and you'll find life isn't all that bad.

WildKat25 - *bows deeply, ignoring Sephiroth's grin in the background* Thank you very much for the HUGE compliment. An IDOL Inu story, eh? Damn . . . I'm gonna have to post that one on my writing wall. *turns around* Oh, for the love of the gods, Seph, stop grinning. You'll spook the readers. *turns back to the comp.* Yeah, he has to get credit too. Being my muse and all . . . you know, that Masamune makes a wonderful motivational tool . . . especially when it's being held over your head. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the rest of my stories as much as you've enjoyed this one. Ja ne!

LuckySpirit - Present Day Sesshoumaru is still there . . . since he is in the future, he knows that Kagome is safe and returned back to Feudal Japan . . . so he's probably good and peaceful . . . he'll probably make an appearance in the sequel. As for your other question . . . nope, I haven't seen all the InuYasha episodes. I'm stuck with Cartoon Network as my InuYasha source, and of course they show a new series of episodes once in a blue moon . . . I swear it's a curse. So, no, I haven't seen em all . . . why you ask? *curiosity kills this author a lot*

etoile noir - hehehe, let me tell you, it's not easy. Most of the time I have to plug in my cdwalkman and drown all the outworld stuff OUT! (Oh, for those of you who wonder . . . I have a tendency to listen to Linkin Park, Delirium, Enigma, and Enya when I write) Yeah, I read just about every Inu fic out there before I started writing this. That of course, was before I had a job and had a TON of time on my hands, but I wanted to make sure I was writing something original. Funny what determination and a carton of cigarrettes can let you get through (although I don't suggest picking up smoking, nasty habit, but it helps my creative juices) Of course, the bottle of Tylenol was nice too.

CheesieCake - hehehe, certain addictions can be healthy. My addiction to reviews is what made this story so good and so long, after all : 0 As for Kagome's new bow . . . I'm not sure, but considering some of the stuff I've seen for sale on line, I'd be willing to stake my writing ability that something like that can be found and bought. As for the arrows . . . as long as she doesn't lose them in the battles, she'll be fine. Because they are metal, they will no longer disintegrate when she charges them.

NamelessMoonshine - *hands out a bottle of eye drops* here you go hun : )

Leomae - You love me, you really love me! *grin* sorry, couldn't resist. I may do a lemon in the interim until the sequel unknots itself . . . unknown at this time. I'll let you know if I do X)

And thanks go out to - Aika Ishtar, Moonfairy2000, ForeverGoddessPeorth, Dark and Deluted Child, code-wyze, Corran Nackatori, FoxDemoness, chibi stumbler, psycho king, surfbratt, sHaMaN qUeEn NaTaKu, Mikki-inu-luva, inuficcrzy, Kaida-Little Dragon, Mystical-Grace, myinuyasha04, k, mvdiva, HMPrune, Ariane Adora, X-with stars, AleGnA, Anandria, paws34125, Hanyou-Girl25, Aithril the Elf-Maiden, shayshay-sama, liz liz, inu-lover . . . THANKS! All reviews are great, and I'm glad you all enjoyed reading.

Author's Notes - *sigh* Well, here it is . . . the final chapter. *sniffles* It's hard to believe I've been writing this for a whole year now! What a ride it's been! *reflects back for a moment in silence* So much has happened . . . so many wonderful reviews and reviewers, a few flames, a copy-cat . . . the list goes on and on. You know . . . when I started this, I was nervous as hell and twice as scared as to how it would be recieved. If not for the urging of my friends and some of the GREAT fanfics I've read, it never would have been posted. *shakes her head* Wow.

But, all good things must come to an end . . . or a pause, as the case may be. The sequel is already in it's beginning stages . . . rough around the edges and nowhere near as smooth as this one yet, but it's shaping itself out. I'm not sure what the title will be yet . . . I may name it *Shades of Grey*, but I haven't decided yet. There will probably also be some smaller stories in between . . . I have songfics running rampant in my head *points a finger to Linkin Park* blame them, not me.

A warning on the sequel . . . I know many people don't like OC's, but there will be one in the sequel. She will NOT be a Mary-Sue . . . far from it, she will come with her own load of problems and issues, and she certainly WON'T be there to fix everyone else's problems. I could never do that to this character . . . she is near and dear to my heart, and I have a WHOLE storyline behind her alone, although that will not be brought in. She is, in a word, unique and wholly a force unto herself. Her true name is *cough* Catherine DracOnyx (yep, my writing namesake) but that won't be her name in the sequel . . . it just didn't fit in. But, you'll have to read and see, and hopefully you will all give her a chance. If she seems like enough, I may do an original fiction *shiver* with her in it to explain her somewhat to you . . . but we'll see how she's recieved first.

Well, this chapter is a bit short, but it ties up some of the loose ends, which was really what it was all about. Enjoy, and I hope everyone had a happy and safe holidays.

Chapter 31 - Happy Reunions

Kaede was waiting for them outside of her hut as they returned, Sango and Miroku walking ahead of InuYasha, shielding his burden until such time as they got to surprise the elderly miko. While she had been supportive and calm this whole time, the group had known that she too nursed a sorrowful heart at the sudden loss of Kagome. The young miko had come to be the daughter Kaede had never been able to have, and her loss had been hard on Kaede, although she had tried to hide it.

"What has occurred?" Kaede asked as they neared her position. "I felt a flash of miko energy the likes of which could not have been possible . . ." Her voice faltered as Sango and Miroku, with gentle smiles, parted for her to see just exactly who InuYasha had in his arms.

"Can it be?" Kaede murmured, her eyes lighting as she spied the young miko cradled against the worn and battle tattered hanyou she had come to look upon as a son. "Kagome has returned to us?"

"Feh," InuYasha snorted. "Of course she has, old woman. You didn't think she would be kept away forever did you?" Now that his mate was back in his arms, he was more than happy to resume the role of being the irritating, completely frustrating hanyou he had been. He walked by her slowly, retreating into the recess' of the hut as Kaede shook her head at his sudden change in demeanor.

"I must say it is good to see things coming back to normal," she murmured with a sigh as she followed Miroku and Sango into her hut to attend their injuries and get the whole story.


Kagome awoke the next morning slowly, afraid to open her eyes for fear she would discover it had all been a dream. She nearly jumped out of her skin when a voice nearby spoke.

"I know you're awake, Kagome . . . I can sense the change in your breathing and heart-rate. It's not a dream . . . you've come back to us." The futon sank under added weight before she found herself wrapped in strong, comforting arms. She opened her eyes to stare into the beloved golden orbs of her mate, and smiled.

"How did you know?" she whispered. He smirked slightly before a more serious expression crossed his features.

"Because it's how I woke up this morning . . ." he sighed, tucking her head under his chin as he cradled her closer to him. "I didn't want to awaken, afraid that you would not be here and it was all a dream. I've had so many mornings like that . . ." She squeezed him tightly, hearing the underlying anguish in his voice that told her just how much hell he had been through while she was trapped in her time. If she could go back and erase all the pain he had been through . . . but that was a job for a god, and she was merely a mortal woman with priestess powers. She set it 0.firmly in her mind however that just because she couldn't go back and erase it, that didn't mean she couldn't make sure he never suffered like that again.

"Anyway . . ." he sighed after a few moments of silence, "the brat has been trying to break in here all morning and wake you up. We've been holding him off, but I'm ready to strangle him. Would you mind?" Kagome giggled slightly at the total lack of expression in his voice, which told her he had been keeping a very firm leash on his temper for once. InuYasha pulled back to look into her face at this, a slight mock-frown on his lips before he grinned at her. Leaning forward, he brushed his lips lightly across hers and then stayed there, his forehead resting against her own. "Gods, I have missed you," he whispered.

"And I you, my mate . . ." she murmured in reply. They were leaning back in for another, more fulfilling kiss, when a ruckus broke out at the doorway and they were suddenly buried under a small whirlwind of fur.

"Kagome!" Shippo shrieked, burrowing his way in between the embracing couple to press himself firmly to Kagome's chest. InuYasha growled minutely, but stopped at a stern look from Kagome as the sounds of Shippo's muffled weeping reached their slightly deafened ears.

"Oh, Kagome, I thought you were never coming back and that I'd lost my second mother and InuYasha's been so mopey, and even Sango and Miroku haven't been the same and OH KAGOME I MISSED YOU!" Shippo wailed, burying his face into her shirt and crying his heart out as if would break. Not knowing what else to do, Kagome ran a soothing hand over his back, rubbing in small circles as the little kit cried.

Finally, Shippo's wails reduced to slight sobs and hiccups to the point where Kagome, after having gathered her thoughts, could reassure him.

"I missed you too, Shippo," she murmured. "I didn't want to leave, but I'm back now, and I'm never going away again." She waved her free hand at the inquisitive look InuYasha sent her way. "Later," she mouthed to him over the small kitsune. "I'll explain later." He flicked an ear at her in response before turning his attention to the kit. He hadn't realized just how sorely affected Shippo had been by Kagome's absence . . . then again, he had been drowning in his own sorrows the whole time. He felt a stab of guilt at that thought. Shippo had needed him, and he'd been too wrapped up in himself to notice. He made a move to leave, only to be stopped by Kagome as she clenched a fist into his fire rat clothing. He looked back at her, puzzled.

Kagome shook her head at him, nodding at the futon to tell him silently to return to his former position. She knew what was going on in his head, and she wasn't going to allow him to add that to his already over-heavy burden of guilt.

They sat that way together in silence for a long time before Kagome pulled Shippo back so she could look into his eyes.

"Shippo . . . I promise, I'm not going anywhere. Neither is InuYasha. We're your family now." Shippo looked up at her hopefully, then turned to look at InuYasha. The hanyou coughed slightly, but nodded at the hope shining in the kit's eyes. He knew what it had been like to grow up without a family or a home . . . he wouldn't wish that on anyone, and as annoying as the young kitsune was, he was tolerable enough that InuYasha wouldn't mind him sticking around until he was grown.

He was somewhat startled when Shippo jumped onto his lap, hugging him energetically enough to make the recalcitrant hanyou uncomfortable . . . but the smile Kagome sent his way made it all worth while.



The young miko looked around, trying to find the source of the familiar voice, only to suddenly find herself picked up and whirled around in a cloud of dust that only one youkai she knew could create.

"Hello Kouga," she replied as he set her down, holding her out at arms length to get a good look at her. Kagome sent a thoughtful glance towards InuYasha, who stood on the sidelines, his fists clenched, but otherwise calm in the face of his once rival. 'Hmmm . . . that's new,' she thought to herself, before turning her attention back to the wolf lord, who was making light growling noises under his breathe as he examined her.

"You've been ill," Kouga stated flatly. Kagome shook her head, a sad smile gracing her features.

"Only of a broken heart, Kouga . . . and that is now much mended," she murmured. Kouga snorted, but looked pleased at the answer. Letting her go, he stepped back out of the way . . . and Kagome nearly stumbled in shock when she suddenly found Sesshoumaru kneeling before her.

"Lady Kagome," the youkai lord murmured, his head bent so that his white hair, so alike her mate's, fell before his eyes in a curtain. Unsure for a moment of what to do - Sesshoumaru was still very much an enigma to the young woman, and she was never sure just how safe it was to be 'friendly' with him - she finally knelt in front of him, gently parting the curtain of hair before his eyes to get a glimpse into golden orbs that were astonishingly wet with unshed tears.

"Sesshoumaru . . ." she began, only to stop, unsure of how to continue. Finally, she went with what her heart told her to do . . . she hugged him. He seemed to freeze for a moment, stunned - but then, surprisingly, he was hugging her back with a careful reign on his strength, although Kagome could feel the shivering of his muscles, as if he wanted to crush her to him.

"This Sesshoumaru is relieved to see you back," the youkai lord murmured finally, instinctively falling back into the distancing language he had originally used. Kagome merely smiled as she leaned back from him, her own eyes wet at the touching familiarity Sesshoumaru had allowed her.

"It is good to be back, Lord Sesshoumaru. I have missed you . . . all of you, so very much." She stood, relieved when the proud youkai lord followed her onto his own feet. There was only so much emotion she could actually take seeing from him before she began to wonder if he was really Sesshoumaru, but as he stood, the mantle of arrogance and power that he wore so naturally came down once more. "You know," she murmured suddenly, as something dawned on her, " I don't feel like I've been gone from you at all, Sesshoumaru." The youkai lord quirked an inquisitive eyebrow at her, but she simply shrugged. There was no way she was going to explain to him what she suspected . . . but it still seemed strange to her that he felt terribly similar to the way Snow had in her mind, their aura's virtually the same. However, the last thing she wanted was to think of his reaction to that little bit of news.

Kagome sighed, and looked around at the gathered people, all of whom were smiling at her. 'I'm home,' she thought, and smiled.


Later that evening, as the village rejoiced at having their young miko returned to them, InuYasha and Kagome snuck off. Near the lake where they had first made their vows and become mates, they lay beneath a tree on the banks, staring up at the stars, content in each other's arms.

"Kagome?" InuYasha murmured into the night air. Kagome shifted to look at him.

"Yes InuYasha?"

"Why the hell did you kiss Naraku?"

The village paused in it's celebrations as a screech rent the night air, followed by what had to be the biggest splash in the history of their tiny existence.


Miroku, Sango, Sesshoumaru, and Kouga shared smirks over the fire as they made out the voice of Kagome, followed by the equally loud voice of her mate. Yes . . . things were definitely back to normal.


Final Author's Notes - *grabs a tissue* Welp . . . that's it folks. The end of this story. I couldn't resist ending it with Inu and Kagome getting into another fight . . . it's so NORMAL for them. Sequel is in the works, as are other short stories. OH . . . . before I forget (and Seph catches me) . . . any request / challenges can be sent to me at my email address, which is draconyx1 at hotmail.com. OR, you can go to my webpage and post it on my guest book. My webpage addy is in my profile : ) Be safe, be happy, and I'll be thinking of all of you as I write my sequel. A good author is nothing without good reviewers, and you have all been the best. *hugs all around* And in the immortal words of Arnold . . . "I'll be back!"