Epilogue

                As soon as Little Inu felt his feet hit the soft, slightly damp earth on his side of the Bone-Eater's Well, the boy was out like a shot, bounding over the grass and through the shrubbery—places that he had stood only moments ago with his parents, or at least his parents twelve years prior.

                He rushed through his father's forest, swinging around the trees. He stopped by the Goshinboku for a moment, saying a prayer to the gods as he touched the one spot on the god-tree that was worn away in an elliptical shape. Then, he was off again, running as fast as his seven-year-old hanyou-body was capable of.

                The jar with its stopper bounced against his chest, wrapped protectively up in a bolt of cloth; it thudded in rhythm with the pounding of his gait and his beating heart.

                The scent of nearby demons touched his nose, but Little Inu didn't care about the minor, stupid ones, even when a few carrion crows came swooping down, he only leapt in the air and used his claws to rip them apart before he landed again.

He zipped by Kaede's village, knowing that the old priestess was with his mother at the castle, and the younger mikos-in-training were attending to the minor ailments of the residents.

The sunlight that shone in from the gaps of the leafy canopy warmed his backside as he sprinted at full gallop, arms positioned rearwards for more speed. When the western side of the famous forest became too difficult to maneuver, and for the safety of the prepared medicine, Little Inu hopped into the boughs of the large trees and recoiled from limb to limb.

His breath came in short and fast gasps, yet he didn't care; he was not going to let his father die or make his mother suffer heartache because he couldn't take the pressure! Little Inu hastened, the wind streamlining his silver-white hair like a long, moonlit river after him. Scarlet robes flapping as he abruptly rose into the sky; he spotted the outer wall of the large, gray stone castle he called home.

The young hanyou sprung off it and landed in the courtyard beside his mother's garden. Dashing to the side of the castle, Little Inu leapt in through an unsealed window into the kitchen. Some of the servants fell backwards in surprise like Hachi the tanuki did, or screamed in surprise. Cries of "Young Master Inu-Yasha!" and "Are you insane!" as well as the sounds of kitchen instruments clattering to the floor all flooded into his ears at once as he dodged around the kitchen staff.

"Sorry!" was all he bellowed in response as he rounded the corner into the dining room. He bumped into a few more of the servants; only muttering half-assed apologies as he bobbed and weaved around furniture and the few servants he could avoid or who got out of the way in time.

                Little Inu felt incredibly lightheaded, but he knew the way to the sick room was not far.

                Finally, he skidded to a stop fore the rice paper screen that depicted the story of his noble grandfather Inutaisho. Pushing it aside, he flew into the bedchamber where his wide, youthful eyes lighted upon his mother and the old lady priestess kneeling at the futon-side of his sleeping father. His siblings sat at various places around the room, as did his extended family of his aunt and uncle's two children, and Shippo. All eyes went to him, but it was only the bottomless cerulean gaze of his mother's that he cared about.

                "Little Inu," she half exclaimed half whispered. Her obsidian waves cascaded over her back and she wore a simple dressing kimono. She shifted so the child could see three-fourths of her face, as well as the face of his father.

                He stood, unmoving for a time, with an indecipherable expression. "Momma…" he huffed, bringing out the taupe clay jar. He swallowed as he regained his breath. "I have the antidote." He walked forward, handing it to her.

                His mother stared at it, bottom lip quavering slightly. There seemed to be a lot of things she wanted to say, yet they were all trapped by her elation. She pulled Little Inu into her chest and hugged him tightly. "My son…I am proud of you, Inu…thank you…."

                He wrapped his arms around her neck and buried his face in her clothes. Finally, the tears he'd held back for so long spilled from his honey-gold eyes. He breathed in her soft scent of lavender in deep inhalations, and her hair tickled his nose in the familiar way as it always had.

He was home….

                A quiet, forced voice asked, "Little Inu…? Is that…you…?"

                Gently tearing himself away from his mother, the boy went to his father's side. "It's me…. I got the medicine." He swiped at the new trails of tears in addition to the old ones with his sleeve. "Please take it."

                Softly, a half-smirk crossed his lips. "Don't…worry…" he breathed tightly, wincing slightly as he sat up a bit, the blanket falling into his lap, "I will…. You're a…worrier…like your mother…."

                "Inu-Yasha," the woman chided, tearful also, as she removed the cork, "this is not the time for you to try and be tough."

                "…K-keh…"

                "Now," she said, "Soto, hand me that bottle of water."

                Nodding, the eldest child brought the pint of spring water to her, the cap already off. "Here, Mother." He grimaced at his little brother before sitting next to Shippo once more.

                The woman dumped the thin paste into the water. She replaced the lid securely and shook it rapidly, making the water swirl in various shades of green. She handed it to the old woman. "I'll prop him up a little higher for you."

                "Aye, Kagome." Lady Kaede waited as the dog-demon's wife slid behind him and supported his neck and head on her breasts. Then, the elder priestess undid the cap, and brought it to his lips. "Take it gently, Inu-Yasha. Do not be in a hurry."

                Little Inu observed his father drink for a time, until it was taken away so he could breathe. "Yeah, I'm only skirting with death again," he managed to sarcastically chuckle.

                "It's never stopped you before," Little Inu's uncle pointed out.

                He made a face in response.

                Leaning over, the youngest hanyou hugged his dad for a moment. He felt his father's hand pat him gently on the head. Then, Little Inu moved away and was lead upstairs by his aunt, who insisted that he also rest up a bit from his long and arduous journey.

~*~*~*~*

                The next morning, Little Inu awoke to the sounds of birds chirping outside and warm baths of sunshine on his tummy. He lazily sat upright, dog-ears twitching lightly for the house noises. The normal murmur of the family members that were awake echoed in.

                He stretched, yawning widely. Went his aunt had taken him upstairs and had him remove his outer cloak at least, he'd fallen asleep the near instant she left. After all, he had not been able to sleep very well on the return trip, always tossing and turning when he did drift off, as he was harassed by terrible night-terrors.

                The toys in his room had been picked up since he'd last been there, two weeks ago, give or take a few days. Little Inu crawled off his mattress to peer out the square window at the courtyard below. Making a silent gasp at what he saw near the fountain, at the garden, the dog-child flew out of his room, allowing the bamboo screen to flap open for him. He jumped down most of the steps, and thankfully no unfortunate servants were in his way this time, and he went out the rear door.

                "Poppa!" he cried, almost tackling the man when Little Inu jumped onto his back.

                Father laughed, tossing the boy into the air and catching him. "Hey, Inu. Sleep well?"

                Little Inu nodded vigorously, a large grin on his face. His eyes scanned to the upturned soil. Squinting for a moment, the young hanyou looked to his father. "What're you doing?"

                He patted the dirt. "I'm planting the rest of those herbs your Aunt Sango found when you took off your haori."

                "Oh." He observed as his dad stooped over and dug a hole and placed the roots of one of the Hakushinmu herbs into it, burying it deeply, and doing the same process over and over again.

                "You're mother is going to be the only one who can care for 'em though," he chuckled. He started on making another gap, before turning to look at his son. "Did you use the powder she and Kaede told you to use?"

                Little Inu nodded. "Yeah. I sprinkled some over Kouga's lair, too. And the rest of the villagers and…" he gnawed his lip somewhat, "you and Mom."

"Good…." He tucked in another herb. "You know, Inu, your mother and I remember your quest the moment you were gone didn't you?"

He shook his head. "No…."

"Well, we did. The only thing was, we didn't know if you made it back here in time." He turned his head to flash a smirk at his child. "Guess we do now."

"Uh-huh." Little Inu tugged on his father's ear gently. "Dad?"

"What?"

Whispering, "I'm glad you're ok."

Inu-Yasha turned away from his gardening to kneel fore his son. Placing a hand on Little Inu's shoulder, he said, "And I have you to thank for that. You're going to be a good man, Inu. A much better one than I ever was."

"I still think you're the best," the boy insisted.

He laughed. "Just make me proud. Today, Inu, you're my hero."

"Dad? You'll always be my hero."

~*~*~*~*

A/N: I my goodness! It's actually over! Well, I will write a sequel but not right now. It'll probably be in a year or so. Sorry guys! I really appreciate all the support and love I've received as I've written this; one day, I'll go back and edit the first seven or eight chapters.

My biggest thanks, first off, goes to my loving mother, who encouraged me all the way and read every draft of every chapter.

The next goes to Edward Tivrusky (Erin), fluffyduck (Amanda), and tetsaiga-girl (Elissa), for all their listening to my debating and plotting. Ed, for listening and helping me bring Little Inu to life, even before I ever penned him. Ducky, for the hugs. Creepy, for creeping along and letting me know your opinions. Quack!

To Bachan, who was also nice enough to debut me on her site, and for also reading this story as she edited and letting me know that my writing had improved—which spurred me to want to go back and make it better since my style changed.

And finally, to all my fans who have loved this story; if not for you, this wouldn't be around.

My e-mail: hanyou_miko_dreamer@hotmail.com I'd like to know favorite parts if you had any.

Ja ne till the next story (check out my others),

~Moonlight Shadow

P.S. Thank you, Luke, for making my day when I was down. You cheesy, little beagle-lover you.