AN: Here's the last chapter – sorry to kind of just fling it at you without warning, but nevermind. Slightly longer than usual to make up for it ^_^

And to whoever gave me that review about spamming (your penname escapes me) I don't know if you realise it, but I found that review rather condescending and offensive. I felt as though you were speaking to me in third person like I wasn't there and I don't see myself as having a false sense of security. I especially liked the part where you said 'The author checks his/her account to find that she has 700 reviews' that was obviously talking about me and this story, so why did you put the generic his/her part?

You seem to be getting at reviewers who leave comments that have nothing to do with the story, but may I add that your review had nothing to do with my story?

And as far as I know there is no spam reviewing here. Most people have signed in to review and those who haven't have left their email addresses so I know that they're not the same people. You would have realised that if you looked through them. I'm sorry if it upsets you that you can't find your review because there are too many others, it just means that other people beside yourself read the story and reviewed. Not something to get bothered about. And why did you want to find your review anyway? Did you forget what you wrote?

Next time if you want to leave that kind of opinion find a message board, and don't aim your annoyance at me or other reviewers.

Father Figure

What happened to Grandpa? (you all want to know, right?)

The swelling had gone down completely by morning, thanks to a few cold bunches of cloth that Kaede had tended her with. But it had done nothing to help the bruising… if anything, it all looked a lot worse now. It had changed from black and purple, to purple and yellow… blotchy and very painful looking.

What better way to greet her mother?

"I'm home!" she called after gathering her courage and opening the front door. At once she heard a flurry of movement in the living room as her mother apparently dropped the magazine she was reading and stormed into the hall. "And where have you been all night? I shudder to ask! We were worried sick about…"

Her mother trailed off as Kagome slowly turned to face her, trying to calm her rattled nerves. For a few moments her mother stared at her in shock. "What… what happened to your face?"

"Denji hit me." Kagome pointed to the standing lamp beside the door. "With that."

Her mother's brow furrowed slightly. But Kagome couldn't tell whether the woman believe her or not.

"Come on." Her mother steered her into the kitchen and gestured for her to sit down in one of the chairs. "I think I have some arnica in the first aid box…"

Kagome watched her mother's back reproachfully as she went fishing through the drawers for the white box that all the medical stuff was kept in. "Denji? Could you come here a minute?" Mrs Higurashi called suddenly as she found what she was looking for and turned back to Kagome to apply the cream.

Denji put on a good show of looking surprised and concerned when he saw Kagome's face. "What happened?"

"She says you hit her." Kagome's mother responded without looking across at him, she seemed tight-lipped and pale suddenly.

He snorted in response. "Oh not this again… I thought we'd passed this little Denji bashing stage, Kagome-chan."

"Don't call me that." Kagome said with only a slight waver in her voice. She couldn't bring her eyes up to meet his.

"This is ridiculous… you were fine when I sent you to bed. Are you mad at me because I sent you to bed earlier than your mother would? Did you deliberately do it to yourself so you could point the finger at me?"

"You did this to me!" Kagome snapped back.

"Where were you all night though?" he asked. "You were down the well again, weren't you? You got the injury there in a fight, either that or Inuyasha did it. We all know what a violent cretin that boy is."

Kagome opened her mouth furiously to correct him when her mother broke in angrily. "Denji – stop baiting her!" Kagome blinked in surprise at her mother… that was the first time she'd protested against him… but… "And you… stop being such an easy target, Kagome."

Kagome swallowed hard and looked down. Yes… that was all she was… an easy picking to be targeted by a brute like Denji.

Mrs Higurashi finished applying the cream to Kagome's bruise and straightened. "Either way… I think we all need to have a talk." She said curtly and walked out of the kitchen. "Follow me."


"I see… and so you're a Hanyou… from five hundred years ago… you came through a bone eater's well to talk to me, and when you're not eating and sleeping you're searching for Shikon shards and battling demons – one in particular called Naraku – a half demon like you."

"Right." Inuyasha nodded in confirmation.

"Does he look like you too?"

Inuyasha pulled a face. "God no! He's full of tentacles and spiders and all kinds of butt ugly stuff that he sheds now and then and calls 'off spring'."

"He's asexual."


"How is that possible?" Mr Higurashi's pad lay on his lap, forgotten as he stared at Inuyasha in disbelief. Inuyasha just shrugged. Kagome's father ran a hand through his short hair and shook his head. "And you drag my daughter off into danger like this as often as possible?!"

"Ye – no." The Hanyou stared at him uneasily. "Only little bits of danger! I protect her from serious harm!"

"You can't always protect her!" Mr Higurashi shouted back.

"Yes I can!" Inuyasha snapped irritably. "I'll always be there for her – and when I'm not… she can usually take care of herself! She's as good as any miko when she has a bow in her hands!"

"I don't believe this-"

"You keep saying that-"

"And I'll keep saying it until I accept it!" Mr Higurashi yelled. "You've been lying to me – going by the name of Yoko to fool me – Why?!"

"Because… Kagome didn't want you to know about the well or me. She didn't want you to start worrying, so I played along." Inuyasha folded his arms angrily. "I would have told you straight out, but she'd sit me if I did that."

"Sit you?"

Inuyasha yanked his rosary. "She yells sit, I sit… well… actually I kinda make Inuyasha shaped imprints on the ground."

"How is that possible?"

"A spell?" Inuyasha shrugged again. What was so hard to believe about demons and spells?

"I don't believe in spells."

"I noticed."

"There has to be some kind of logical explanation." Mr Higurashi shook his head and stood to begin pacing. Inuyasha watched him move back and forth. "Demons… perhaps five hundred years ago there were many species of animals… maybe something happened between now and then that caused them to be wiped out, and so they no longer exist."

"No. Some still exist. I slaughtered a Noh mask not long ago in some metal construction area." Inuyasha told him. "That demon had been hanging around in some woman's home apparently."

"Spells… spells don't exist, it's all fairy tale and make believe." Mr Higurashi went on.

"Well if spells don't exist, how come I sit when she tells me to?"

"There's a theory in my line of work. Your subconscious conforms to a word command you may have received through hypnotism or something – and your subconscious obeys the command, even though your consciousness protests it."


"Isn't that right? Kagome hypnotised you?"

Inuyasha sighed and ran his hands over his face. "Does Kagome know how to hypnotise? No. Why? Because she's a fifteen year old girl – not a brain person like you! All I know is that when this thing got locked around my neck, I have had to obey her sit commands since day one."

"Why would she be so cruel to you?"

"Because she's a sadist!"

"Tell me another!"

"She's a masochist"

"Inuyasha!" Mr Higurashi said warningly.

"Ok, ok… maybe it had something to do with the fact that I tried to kill her when we first met… she kinda got spooked by that…" he muttered, seeing the icy glare that shot his way. "But that's all in the past now!"

"I should hand you over to the police right now!"

"Why bother? I don't belong here – I'll be gone before any law enforcement of this time come and apprehend me." Inuyasha smirked in a cocky way. "Anyway, I came because I have a problem with Kagome and I need you to help me with a plan."

"What problem with Kagome?" Mr Higurashi stopped and narrowed his eyes.

"You know that step dad her mother is marrying?" Inuyasha said slowly, raising his brow in a hint.

"Yes…" Mr Higurashi answered just as slowly.

Inuyasha sighed, the guy wasn't catching the subtle hint. "He's a weirdo. At first we all thought she was imagining it – she said he kept staring at her and making rude comments. And then he felt her up in a dark room."

"What?!" Kagome's father stiffened in shock.

"Disgusting. He's about as old as you are too." Inuyasha clenched his fists as he looked back in anger. "Not only that, but last night he hit her so hard she has bruises all over her face and body."

"This…" Mr Higurashi stared at Inuyasha in shock. "How come no one has noticed before?"

"Her mother won't believe her. Denji keeps blaming me." Inuyasha shrugged. "Kagome's too frightened and crushed to do anything more now that her mother's shot her warnings down. I tried beating the crap out of the bastard but that didn't seem to help matters. So now I'm telling you."

"I don't believe this!" Mr Higurashi bore an expression uncannily similar to Inuyasha's upon hearing Denji's little deeds. "If he thinks he's going to get away with this, he has another thing coming!"

Inuyasha grinned. That's what he liked to hear. "But no calling the police."


"If the police drag that loony away then it'll tear the family apart. Souta will hate Kagome and me and her mother will be all mopey and heartbroken. Not that I care, but Kagome does." Inuyasha folded his arms. "I have a plan."


"Get back together with Kagome's mother."

This was greeted by total silence.

"I mean," Inuyasha went on, "Kagome's mother wouldn't be so heartbroken then would she? And Souta wouldn't be lacking in a father figure and Kagome would then be living a parent that she trusts again."

"Inuyasha. That is the most stupid plan I have heard in a long time." Mr Higurashi grated out. "Not only am I happily engaged to another woman, but Ayame doesn't love me the way she used to and I don't love her the way I used to. That wouldn't work."

"I knew I probably should have thought that one through more…"

(AN: see? Wasn't a very good plan anyway, it is Inuyasha we're talking about here)


"But you told me before that you were lying." Mrs Higurashi frowned at her daughter sitting in the arm chair.

"Because he threatened to hurt me if I didn't say that." Kagome sent Denji a small triumphant look. She was taking a leaf out of his book, and whilst what she had just said wasn't the truth, it still reinforced her argument. "But then he hit me anyway, so I decided to tell you again."

"You don't understand, Kagome." Her mother was shaking her head with a troubled look. "These things only happen in broken families. I know Denji. I've known him for months before I brought him into the house. He's nothing but a gentlemen and he's been a good teacher for many years. I have never seen him raise his hand to a child or even raise his voice? What makes you so different that he would want to harm you?"

Kagome looked at the carpet before her. "I don't know. Maybe he's jealous."

"This is ridiculous." Denji muttered. He muttered that a lot.

"Jealous of what?" Her mother wanted to know.

"I don't know!" Kagome burst out. "You think I know how he thinks? You think I understand why he only does these things to me and no one else! You think it doesn't tear me up inside wondering and doubting about what's wrong with me? What makes me so different? What it is about me that he hates?"

"Kagome!" Her mother cut her off abruptly. "We need to stay calm here!"

"Why do you do these things?!" she demanded directly of Denji now. She didn't know for sure, but she reckoned it was being in her mother's presence that gave her the courage she needed. He couldn't do anything to her with her mother present, so she could say what she wanted without suffering any consequences. "Why do you hate me so much?!"

"Why do you hate me so much, Kagome?" he shot right back. "Why do you accuse me of all these disgusting things that I wouldn't dream of doing? Is it because I replaced your real father is that it?!"

"That isn't it! If that was it – I would hate Mari too! But I don't!" Kagome yelled back.

"Shut up! Both of you!" Mrs Higurashi broke in and they both fell silent, glaring at each other.

Eventually it was Kagome who broke the silence, turning to her mother angrily. "Who are you going to believe this time? Your new lover, who you've only known for three months? Or your daughter who you've known for fifteen years and has been beaten so hard she's bruised?"

A good question. One Mrs Higurashi wasn't certain how to answer. She didn't understand why all the accusations were flying. Ever since Kagome had seen Denji she'd been rude to him and avoided him at all costs. And now her daughter was saying terrible things about him… She'd only ever known Denji to smile and be kind and thoughtful. He'd offered to tutor Kagome in Maths and had brought nothing but joy to Souta. So why was Kagome refusing to acknowledge him as a family member.

But while Mrs Higurashi had seen or heard any real evidence to suggest that Denji was doing these things… she couldn't just ignore Kagome's pleas. Something was going on…

And while Kagome had been acting strange lately… she'd been acting that way ever since she'd come back from her holiday with her father… when she'd first discovered Denji…

All the evidence and reason pointed to Kagome as the liar… but she just couldn't quite believe that…

"I think this family… all of us… need to sit down and talk." That was the only solution she could come up with right then. "But… where's Dad?"

"He left a note on the fridge, remember?" Denji pointed out. "He said he was going to be out of the district for a while, at some kind of school reunion."

"Oh." Mrs Higurashi frowned and walked out into the hall, shutting the door behind her.

This left Kagome with Denji. Kagome looked up at him warily, her whole body tensed and waiting for his next move. He just gave a disparaging sigh and left the room by way of the kitchen.

Kagome's mother moved away from the door with a light frown. Nothing suspicious had just happened when she'd left them alone… but that didn't mean that nothing was going on.


And now what happened?

Kagome found her herself wondering after her mother had left. Did she believe her or not? Well anyhow, her mother wanted proof? Kagome was going to give her proof. Denji was too clever to make the mistake of attacking her verbally or physically as soon as her mother had left the room. He probably thought she could be listening in the hall for all he knew.

But Kagome hadn't missed the all-too-casual way he'd explained away her Grandpa's absence. No way was he at a school reunion. He would have left more than a note. He would have sat the family down, told them about it, before going into a lengthy history of the school and its pupils along with all the little adventures he got up to in the 'good old days'. He wouldn't have just left without a goodbye and a note on the fridge.

But then where was he?

Kagome didn't exactly know how to go about finding out, but she'd seen the movies and got a hint that. By now she knew that all clues to convict the guilty suspect were found in the bin. So she went straight to the waste paper basket in the corner of the living room and tipped out the contents.

And guess what she found? Among various pieces of Souta's homework that had been chewed up by the new dog, and a mouldy old banana skin… was a leaflet for Tokyo Old Aged Pensioner's Home, located in Tama. Kagome stared at the leaflet, the ink smudged slightly from being pressed against the moist banana. She opened it slowly and glanced over a few details.

The home had no phone… so residents could not call out to families.

"He sent Grandpa to an old people's home…" Kagome breathed. Actually, she didn't like the term Old Aged Pensioner… it was like telling them the same thing three times.

But this was it! This was the evidence she could show her mother and make her realise that Denji was not as squeaky clean as she thought!

She got up, clenching the leaflet tightly as she ran out of the living room, intent of finding her mother. She wasn't in the kitchen so she ran up the stairs to the bedroom where she hoped her mother would be clearing up. She didn't find her mother. She found Denji instead. She attempted to run out of her mother's bedroom but he was too fast for her. He'd seen the leaflet in her hand and had slammed the door shut so fast it sent a gust of air billowing through her hair.

"And what is that?" Denji asked calmly, pointing to her hand.

Kagome didn't answer. She looked around for some escape route, listened intently for sounds of her mother nearby… but she found and heard nothing. "I was hoping you could tell me." She said quietly in her timid mouse voice she acquired around Denji.

"Give it to me." Denji held his hand out.

"Even if I give it to you, you can't stop me telling her about this." Kagome gained some defiance as she looked up at him. "I already memorised the address. As soon as she finds out what you've done – that you've lied to her then she'll-"

"Then she'll do nothing, because I'll tell her to do nothing!" Denji snapped, "You are nothing to me, Kagome. I could just as easily have her send you to a boarding school. Then it would just be me, Ayame and Souta."

"You can't possibly think you'll get away with this?" Kagome backed into the wardrobe as he took a threatening step forward. But it was true. Denji couldn't overcome all these little problems. All she had to do was tell her father and she was sure that he would bring an end to this problem… maybe she should have told him about this sooner… "Even if you send me away to boarding school – Inuyasha will come for me! Even though you've sent Grandpa to an old people's home – all we have to do is go find him and he'll tell us what you did to him! You thought you could just shut him away from the world forever?! You thought you could shut me up?!"

"Shut up!" he backhanded her, hard, right against her bruised cheek. She yelped in pain and started to fall back as stars burst before her eyes, but his hand fisted in her shirt and dragged her back to her feet, pushing her hard against the shuddering wardrobe behind her. She gasped and desperately tried to push against his hands.

"Let go!" she grimaced.

"Give me the leaflet!" he demanded.

"I won't let you…" she struggled against his grip before sucking in another breath. "I won't let you rule me! She'll find out what you're really like! You can't hide something that ugly forever you pathetic little creep!"

It had taken all her courage to shout that, and it had earned her an even harder slap to her bruised cheek, but she felt better for saying it. The pain was nothing compared to the satisfaction of seeing his face twist in anger at her words.

"You'll pay for that!" he hissed angrily.

He really must have been dangerously insane if he thought he could get away with beating her in her own home. Because he didn't get away with it…

Kagome heard footsteps and muffled voices on the porch below, while at the same time heard footsteps in the hall outside the bedroom. She almost obediently went limp as Denji threw her to the floor, too far gone with anger to hear what she heard.

As his boot clad foot came down to crush her ribs, three things happened. The window shattered to their left and a blur of red and white streaked through it. The door to the hall opened and Kagome's mother stood frozen in the doorway. And as if in slow motion, Kagome heard someone knock heavily on the door downstairs.

In milliseconds Inuyasha had saved her – thrown Denji across the room and had a fully transformed Tessaiga poised against his neck. Mrs Higurashi cried out for him to stop as Kagome slowly sat up and looked towards the stairs through the open door as the knocking continued on the door. "Open up! It's the police!"

It seemed a frozen moment, only disturbed by the insistent knocking downstairs. Inuyasha didn't pull back from his threatening hold on Denji, but he didn't move to complete the beheading either. Mrs Higurashi hovered by the door for a few moments before crouching down to help Kagome sit up.

"Let me do it." Inuyasha hissed angrily, not taking his eyes off Denji who was still too winded to speak, let alone breathe with the grip Inuyasha had across his torso.

"No…" Kagome said with a hesitant look between her mother and Denji. "Don't kill him…"

"Get… off me… freak…!" Denji gasped out.

Inuyasha pressed him harder against the wall and pushed Tessaiga against his neck, biting the flesh and drawing a slither of blood against the blade edge.

"Stop it!" Mrs Higurashi shouted. Inuyasha stopped, but he didn't pull back in the slightest. Kagome had never seen him this livid with a human before…

"Mom…" she glanced up at her mother, waiting for the final decision. If anyone was going to decide, it would be her.

Mrs Higurashi looked down at her daughter with deepest regret before pulling Kagome up with her to stand. "Go let the police in… tell them… tell them he's up here."

Kagome stared at her mother for a moment before shooting Denji and Inuyasha a concerned look. She followed the sound of the knocking to the front door and opened it slowly.

"We're here for a Mr-"

"He's upstairs." Kagome said without hesitation and stepped back to allow the three officers into the house. There was a fourth man, and only until she looked up did she realise it was her father. He'd been the one to call the police.

Wordlessly he opened his arms to her and she fell into them, unable to hold the floodgates together anymore and broke down crying. She was still crying as they escorted Denji out of the house and down the steps to the police van waiting below. She tried to ignore the hissed insults and barbs he threw at her as he was dragged away… but it would be the last time she had to deal with them…

It felt like an enormous burden had been lifted off her shoulders.

Inuyasha was gone when she entered the house again. He was probably still around, but just keeping out of the way. She didn't particularly want to deal with him right then… she didn't really want to deal with anyone at all, but she was forced to speak with her mother and her father… and later on… things would have to be explained to her brother.

Mrs Higurashi kept apologising for doubting her, but the woman was rattled at the transformation she'd witnessed. The man she'd loved and trusted had turned into a monster the moment her back was turned… it was enough to shake the strongest of them to the core.

Kagome didn't accept her apologies.

The same way Souta didn't accept Kagome's reasons and excuses for Denji's removal from the house. They chose not to tell him the full story… he was young and he didn't need to be shaken as much as Mrs Higurashi… but the result was that he blamed Kagome now.

Grandpa was brought back from the home, but he wouldn't forgive anyone. He'd been gone nearly a week, and it had taken seven days for them to realise he was missing. He wasn't pleased either with any of them, especially not his daughter whom he blamed above all others for getting engaged to a bastard like Denji.

They hadn't been a broken family before… but now they were all in ruins.


Inuyasha sat leaning against the well, absently scratching the rust off his sword with a handy rock. He wasn't sure if it was such a good idea… since rust was all the sword seemed to be made of. He could probably do with making an appointment with Toutousai some time to have the blade repaired whilst in this untransformed state…

He heard a thud in the well behind him and his heart gave an answering thump against his ribs. He internally told himself to calm down… it was only Kagome returning from her time, no need to go getting weak at the knees.

But this wasn't just Kagome returning on after an average short break in her world. This was Kagome returning after two weeks of alone time with her family. He'd taken the hint and left after making sure Denji got taken away by the men in black.

He hadn't seen Kagome since.

Almost hesitantly, he set down the rock he'd been holding and turned in a crouch to lean over the side of the well. At long last he found himself looking at a normal scene below him. She'd stopped wearing the baggy, figure concealing clothes and was back in her school uniform. The bruising had gone completely from her face and she looked up with a smile when she saw him. "You gonna help me out or what?"

He jerked out of his thoughts and reached down to grip the bag on her back and lift her out of the well with it. When he'd set her down on the ground beside him she gave him that sour look she usually gave him and echoed something she often said in the past. "You just can't bare the thought of taking my hand, can you?" she said it with humour though as she brushed down her clothes and started moving slowly in the direction of the village. "Any rumours of shards?"


"Oh good!" she smiled back at him with relief. "Does this mean I can take some time off in the hot springs?"


"I mean the future is good for indoor plumbing and all, but nothing beats a hot spring." He watched as she ran her hands through her hair, in an effort to straighten the tresses out after her trip down the well.


"You're doing that thing again."


"Giving me one word answers."


He looked away from her slightly. She cleared her throat and shook herself as if dispelling a bad feeling that had just settled over them. It was a moment before he looked back at her as she spoke again in a quiet voice. "Are you coming back to the village?"

The Denji voice, he decided it was to be called. All this cheerfulness was forced… the effort to make everything seem normal and natural was all an act. He didn't move towards the path to the village, and so neither did she. "How is… everything back in your time?" he ventured uncertainly.

"Oh…" Kagome smiled as if a little embarrassed and turned her gaze to the forest floor. "You know how I said the family wouldn't survive in one piece if the police came and dragged Denji away?"


"Well. We didn't." She gave another one of those smiles and started down the path to the village. He had no choice but to follow.

"I told him not to call them." Inuyasha said as he traipsed after her. "Your father I mean. But we decided eventually it was the only way…"

"It's ok." Kagome chirped. "You were both right. And if you hadn't arrived when you had… then my mother would have witnessed Denji stamping on me… I don't think she would have taken that very well. She'd probably be more traumatised than she is already."


"Souta's holding a grudge against me." She still smiled. "But it's just a grudge… I'm sure it'll fade eventually."

"Kagome, stop it." He hooked a finger in the waistband of her skirt, bringing her to a sudden halt. She turned to face him, twisting out of his reach.

"Stop what?" the smiling continued.

"Stop smiling. You're obviously faking it." He said with a frown. "You don't have to pretend everything is alright you know."

She gazed at him a moment more before her face seemed to change before his eyes… she suddenly looked weary and troubled. "I'm sorry… it's just…" she sighed and gave up, turning to follow the path again.

He caught up to walk alongside her, a difficult task since the path through the trees was really only for people walking in single-file. "Denji hasn't troubled you has he?"

"No." She sighed again. "But he's left us all in tatters, just as I expected. I won't talk to my mother. My brother won't talk to me. And Grandpa won't talk to any of us."

"It'll pass."

"In time… I suppose…" he saw her chew her lip. "But… it'll be a while to heal all these wounds… but I'm not ready to forgive Mom for being so… untrusting…"

"Give it time then." He was just full of good advice today wasn't he.

"I know." She inhaled deeply. "Dad referred us to a family psychiatrist. He couldn't do it himself since he had to go back home last week… he wouldn't have done it anyway… having our real father give us therapy would be too personal I suppose."

He watched her face intently. "You ok?"

"No." she frowned lightly. "But I will be." She added with a hint of hope in her voice. "We'll put it behind us eventually I guess. I found out his motives by the way."

"Oh yeah?"

"It somehow escaped notice that Denji has been married before." She told him. "He had a wife and a ten year old son. He had a bad break up with his wife after his son was killed in a car accident. So three years later he gets engaged to my mother who has a ten year old son as well. I guess he was trying to remake his old family… he shipped Grandpa out of the house and intended to either make me run away or send me to a boarding school. Then it was just supposed to be him, Mom and Souta. That's why he was always so nice to Souta."

"What's happened to him now?"

"Denji? He's in prison for assault, child molesting since I'm still underage, and some other offences that I can't tell you."

"Can't tell me?" he narrowed his eyes. He wanted to know everything, being kept in the dark was not an option.

"Oh – I can't say because I can't remember how they were worded. But basically he's been done for home wrecking I suppose. And for sending Grandpa to an old people's home against his will and telling everyone he was senile, so they'd ignore him when he asked for a phone call."

"It's a real mess than."

"Yep." She smiled genuinely. "But like I said. We just need time and we'll all heal eventually."

She jumped when his hand closed around hers. She looked down briefly in amazement before looking up at him. He didn't seem to be making a big deal of it, even though his heart was beating just that little bit faster than normal. "And in the mean time," he told her casually. "You can have your ultimate form of escapism five hundred years in the past where your problems don't even exist yet."

She smiled shyly and curled her fingers around his. "I guess."

"And no one's angry at you here. They all miss you. And I don't think Shippo holds any grudges against you… unless you forgot to bring those crayons."

"Oops." Her eyes widened as she remembered what she'd forgotten.

"Nevermind." He shrugged as he pushed aside some stray branches with his free hand. "He's a pretty simple-minded creature. If you distract him with chocolate long enough he'll forget to ask about them."

"Thanks." She smiled again and cast her eyes downwards with a flush as she leaned against him and slipped her free hand across to grasp his arm closest to her lightly.

"For what?" His heart squeezed slightly as if she'd grasped that instead of his arm. Stupid organ… who needed it anyway?

"For just…" she struggled for the words to describe how grateful she was. "For just understanding."

He smiled ever so slightly in response, feeling that warm feeling he got every time he received her gratitude. "You're welcome."

The end.

AN: I suppose now I can dedicate more time to my other current fics. But now I can start a few new stories as well (just to slow everything down again ^_^) Bye!