Author's Note: I have NO excuse to why this is a year late. Inuyasha doesn't belong to me.

The room was filled with the uniform sound of rain pounding on the ground outside. Kagome stood by the window with a white towel wrapped around her shoulders, collecting the stray drops of water that occasionally fell from her wet hair. It had taken an hour of convincing but she had finally managed to persuade Sesshoumaru to allow her to go and take a bath. He had wandered off somewhere, probably to go see his father about a letter that Jaken had been talking about, and when she returned the room was dim and empty. Kagome was feeling much better, all things considered. Her throat was still a little sore, but that was more likely from arguing with her master than from any lingering effects of the poison.

The view from the window was gray. The sky was gray, the ground was gray, the grass and the trees were gray, and the gray halo of sun behind the gray clouds was fading away into the gray horizon. Kagome inhaled a deep breath of the humid air and let it out in a heavy sigh. She felt like she should've been more frightened than she was. Unconsciously, she forced herself to imagine Yura's figure dropping into the frame of the window. But, it was to no use, as her mind was undoubtedly too sleep-heavy and waterlogged to react to anything, although the heaviness in her chest told her that she would feel very differently once she worked up the courage to actually take what had happened seriously.

Just as she was thinking that there was a knock at the door, to which she reacted to surprisingly calmly. With a tired look, as if she was not quite sure if what she heard was real, she watched patiently. Again, there was a loud wooden 'thump.'

"Sesshoumaru, open the door!" Kagome let out another humid sigh. It was Inuyasha. She floated slowly across the floor like a solid, wet apparition, and placed her hand onto the doorknob, opening it ever so slightly.

Before Kagome had the chance to inform him that no, Sesshoumaru wasn't here right now, but yes, he could be back any second and it'd be best if he left, Inuyasha shoved the door open with his whole body, as if he had been planning just seconds before to barge in uninvited. Kagome managed to maintain her balance, but she did quietly curse a few times, surprised by the sudden pain of the heavy wood of the door slamming her shoulder that contrasted so drastically with the thick mellowness of her mind. "Inuyasha…" She growled.

"Raven!" Inuyasha looked surprised, but relieved. He looked like he was about to say something else, but immediately softened his expression and scanned the room. "Where's Sesshoumaru?"

Kagome continued to rub her arm, stepping behind Inuyasha and sticking her head out into the hallway, looking this way and that. "He's not here right now, but he'll be furious if he finds you here…"

"I don't care! I wanted to see you!" Immediately after the words left his mouth the hanyou's face flushed a bright red color, Kagome's embarrassment not far behind. "I…I mean…"

"I'm sorry…" The human girl replied, trying to brush off the awkwardness, turning her back to the door. "I just…don't want to cause any more trouble…"

"You idiot. That's not important." Kagome looked up at Inuyasha, somewhat surprised. "The one who had us all worried was you! When you collapsed earlier, I really thought…"

InuyashaShe couldn't help but smile at the unexpected compassion he was showing towards her. "I'm all right. Really. And, I wanted to thank you…for all you had done for me. If it hadn't been for you…"

He grinned down at her, basking in the implied compliment. "We all know you'd be lost without me." His face darkened considerably after that, something else concerning him. "But, more importantly…Are you really all right? Especially with the news…"

"News…?" Kagome echoed. "What news?"

"What do you mean 'what news'? I mean about you and Sesshoumaru going to meet Kouga."

Kagome was genuinely shocked to hear that, feeling as if she had just been struck in the face. "…Going to meet Kouga…when…?"

Inuyasha rubbed the back of his neck, raising an eyebrow at the human. "He really didn't tell you? I overheard one of my father's conversations earlier…just before the Yura incident, actually…Kouga is waiting for Sesshoumaru in Fudai right now. Apparently he found whatever it was that Sesshoumaru wanted."

Kagome swallowed a thick lump in her throat. "…He is? He did?"

"Are you-…" Inuyasha began, looking concerned with the human's ignorance, but pausing when his white ears swiveled on his head. "Damn!" He suddenly cursed, brushing past Kagome and towards the door. "I'll talk to you later!" And with that he bolted out of sight, leaving a confused Kagome alone with a tender, sore arm.

Only a few seconds later, when it was finally dawning on Kagome why Inuyasha would leave in such a rush, Sesshoumaru appeared in the doorway. Fortunately for her, and even more fortunately for Inuyasha, the youkai was concentrating on a document in his hands and simply strode by his maid without even moving his head to recognize her presence. As relieved as she was that she didn't have to give an excuse to why she was standing there stupidly with the door wide open, she found his total lack of acknowledgement a little unsettling. She silently watched as he paced over to his desk, threw the papers onto the wooden surface, and then slid down into his chair, lost deep in thought.


Sesshoumaru distractedly looked up from the empty section of desk he had been staring at, meeting his maid with a calm gaze. "You're back?"

She was a little taken aback with the indifference, especially considering the concern he had been showing her for the past few hours. "Yeah…"

He examined her up and down for a while before turning his back towards her once more, looking down at the seemingly meaningless jumble of papers in front of him. "In that case, you should probably get some rest."

Kagome furrowed her eyebrows together. "I'm…feeling much better, now."

Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprisingly considering Sesshoumaru's personality, he didn't respond. As insulted as she was, Kagome said nothing more and instead walked back to the window. She watched the rain splatter and disperse on the glass in angry contemplation, her sharp brown eyes piercing out into the wilderness and searching through the wet air for an explanation for Sesshoumaru's strange behavior.

Kouga is waiting for Sesshoumaru in Fudai right now.

Kagome pursed her lips. He was lying, right? If Sesshoumaru knew…he wouldn't…He would tell me…right?

"Sesshoumaru…" She had said his name without even thinking, and when she realized that she was too mad to talk to him it was already said and he had already turned to bore suspiciously down at her from across the room.

She opened her mouth to ask him if it was true, to ask him if Inuyasha was just lying, to ask him if he had anything at all that he wanted to tell her, but hesitated in which question to choose and ended up just snapping her mouth closed again.

When he saw that she had nothing to say he looked to the letter in his hand again, brushing off the awkwardness without even the slightest effort to make her feel unnecessarily uncomfortable. Kagome narrowed her eyes, hurt. But she didn't want to believe what Inuyasha said; she wouldn't believe it, because there was no way it was true. Sesshoumaru would tell her, if only to rub it in her face, to gloat that he would never have to deal with her human idiocy again. But…why would Inuyasha lie about something like that?

She glanced over to Sesshoumaru again, who was focusing singularly on the letter he held tensely in his one hand, the other running a finger loosely along the corner of the desk. She then looked out the window again, watching the water pound even harder against the stone sill on the other side of the glass. Why would Inuyasha lie? Why would he lie? Kagome raised her hands to her head, running her fingers into her damp hair and beginning to pace back and forth across the rug. She wandered over to one side of the room, studied the wall there for a moment, and then paced back to where she started, turning to the window and letting her arms go loose to her sides. As she did, the towel that had been sitting on her shoulders slid down her back a little before flopping to the ground with a heavy 'sump'. Kagome looked down at the floor in surprise, then immediately up at Sesshoumaru. He hadn't moved. She bit her lip in exasperation and raised her hands once again to her head, recommencing her nervous pacing.

Sesshoumaru ignored the human girl behind him, choosing to disregard her nervous actions, recognizing them by his instincts but not taking time to consider them. He was far too concerned with the letter he had just fetched from his father's room, a simply written paragraph on a single piece of paper that was ended with a messily scratched out 'Kouga'. The bulk of the packet that was sitting on his desk consisted of maps he had borrowed from his father's office.

Lord Sesshoumaru,

As I had informed you earlier, I have secured the Tetsusaiga and am now waiting for you in the city of Fudai to end our transaction, and hopefully, the animosity that has existed between us for far too long. I apologize for my inability to bring it directly to you, but it has become a danger to travel with and the protection that my clan has here insures that it will remain safe until the time that you come. I will be awaiting you at Kobe Palace on the 22nd, and please tell the girl that I am looking forward to seeing her again.


Sesshoumaru finally let the letter drop down to the desk from his tense grasp, having memorized every single word of it and finding no further excuse to keep on staring at it. The animosity…what nonsense is this. With a deep sigh that could be easily confused with a growl, he began shuffling through the different scattered pieces of map. Niiwa, Tanabe, Kiriyama…Fudai. Having found what he was looking for he shoved everything else to the side, allowing the old parchments to slide from the desk and scatter noisily onto the ground.

Having been occupying herself with folding the towel she had dropped, Kagome was startled by the sudden fluttering noise. She turned to Sesshoumaru to see if he had finished, if he had calmed down and was perhaps ready to go back to focusing on her…

Kagome paused at her own thoughts, her face flushing over with embarrassment. What am I talking about…?

However, the youkai was, if anything else, even more absorbed in the map in front of him than he had been with the letter and had not shown the least bit of interest in the human girl's actions behind him. Kagome raised a hand to her forehead and quickly checked herself for a temperature. Maybe he was right? Maybe she was still sick…

Thunder suddenly crashed outside, and a second of light flashed a box of white across the room before it once again fell to shadow, seemingly darker than it had been just a few moments before. Kagome's whole body shook with the unexpected noise, and she instinctually turned to Sesshoumaru for protection from something that she couldn't quite explain.

SesshoumaruShe frowned, her shoulders still tense but her face unusually sad. He hadn't even looked up. He, who was usually so perceptive to even her slightest mood swings, hadn't even noticed her obvious fear. With another characteristic sigh, she tilted her head towards the window, then back to Sesshoumaru, and then sighed again, and then looked down to the old pieces of paper that were still lying scattered on the ground. Well…She thought dully. He probably won't mind…

Deciding that it was the least that she could do, Kagome quietly made her way around the desk, her usually shuffling footsteps hidden by the hissing of the rain outside. When she had made it to the other side of his desk, only a few feet away from where he was sitting, she squatted down and began picking up the papers one by one. HmShe had quickly realized that they were maps, but of what, she wasn't sure. The paper was so old that any land features were hard to distinguish and the writing was in such old, complicated kanji that she couldn't make it out. Curiously, she turned one of the pieces over, examining the back for any hints to what it was.

"What are you doing?"

Kagome looked up, surprised more by her master's voice than by the earlier thunder. Her eyes met with his, and she found herself temporarily unable to pull her thoughts together. She just remained there, crouched for a few moments, before she realized that she had in fact been doing something just a second earlier.

"I'm picking these up for you."

An angry look suddenly flashed through Sesshoumaru's gold eyes, one that brinked on the edge of violent. He abruptly swung his fist down and snatched the papers from Kagome's unsuspecting grasp, pulling them towards him protectively. "I do not remember giving you permission to look through my belongings."

Kagome's mouth dropped agape in indignant amazement. "Ex-excuse me!"

"Do not speak to me again. You are nothing but a distraction."

"A dis-…"

"Do not speak to me again."

Kagome furrowed her brows together, unable to do anything but stare up at the youkai in disbelief. The moment that Sesshoumaru looked away, opening one of his drawers to stuff the papers inside and then shut it with a loud, abrupt 'snap', Kagome dropped her eyes to the floor.

Another clap of thunder and a flash of lightning electrified the air around them, and Kagome once again looked up, the sudden sound shaking away the tears that had been gathering in her eyes. She pulled her lower lip into her mouth, chewing on the skin pensively, and pushed herself weakly onto her feet. Sesshoumaru was, as before, leaning protectively over the remaining few papers in front of him, once again ignoring the human's presence.

Without so much as a sigh, Kagome made her way back to the window in silence, the pressure she was putting on her lip the only thing that distracted her from her sudden urge to cry. She stood there, kicking her bare foot idly into the rug, the towel still held tightly in one arm. Why would Inuyasha lie…?

The air in the room seemed to rumble with the heavy rain outside, and Kagome once again found herself gazing longingly out into the dark gray woods, her mind wandering onto the small shrine at which she once lived. It seemed like forever to her, and she silently wondered to herself if she would even recognize her brother if she saw him. And if he would recognize her…

The rumbling in the air that Kagome had just assumed was her own artistic perception suddenly became much stronger, enough so that the glass of the window began to rattle slightly in the wall. She took a step back, instinctually clutching one hand to her chest, looking around the room curiously. Even Sesshoumaru in his detached state had noticed the sudden disturbance and had pushed back in his chair slightly, glancing around the room as well. Kagome turned suddenly to Sesshoumaru, her eyes wide with confusion. He met her gaze, and for that moment the earth beneath them seemed to calm down once again until the sky outside abruptly exploded with light, and with a loud crack the glass window burst inward to the room and shattered into a thousand, sparkling pieces, showering Kagome with glass shards and the pouring rain blowing in from outside.

Sesshoumaru was on his feet in a second, just in time to catch Kagome's collapsing figure.


The heavy thumping of footsteps could be heard inside Inutaisho's chambers, as well as the shattering of glass. Inutaisho had returned to his room earlier to find his door ajar and the wall that separated his office from the hidden shrine where he housed items of importance in rubble on the ground. He sensed Naraku's presence the moment he stepped inside, although he was surprised to see that not Naraku, but a beautiful young human was standing over the case that held the Shikon no Tama, the glass that had once enclosed it now lying in jagged pieces around her.

The woman looked surprised to see him and hesitated with the Shikon no Tama held tightly in her pale hands, an unnatural look of fear shining in her wide eyes. She paused only briefly before turning and disappearing out a second opening that was at some point opened in the castle's outer wall, allowing the pouring rain to blow into the dimly lit shrine and soak the tatami mats that adorned the floor there. Inutaisho bounded after her with unbelievable speed for a creature his size, leaping down the one floor to the wet forest ground and then in front of the woman, who seemed to be running away unenthusiastically, as if she wanted to be caught. The large youkai's claw was digging into the woman's neck in an instant, about to tear the whole head off when the jewel in her hands began to glow with a hazy, green light. The ground shook with the force of the power being emitted from both Inutaisho and the now active Shikon no Tama, the vibrations increasing until, in a moment of tranquility, the green light swelled and exploded around them, engulfing the whole forest and temporarily halting the rain in the air.

When the light cleared, Inutaisho fell to his knees, the Shikon no Tama clinking down into the wet earth next to him. The woman was nowhere to be seen.

The next thing Kagome knew she was on her knees, a sharp pain piercing behind her eyes causing her to shut her eyelids tight and press her hand to her forehead, overwhelmed by the blinding light and the images she had seen in the midst of it. It took her a few moments to gather her scattered senses, and when she did she became acutely aware of the white warmth that was surrounding her. She looked up in surprise, her eyes meeting the face of a dazed looking Sesshoumaru, one arm up as if to block his sight and the other held protectively around his maid. He temporarily held his eyes shut, then opened them quickly again, letting his arm hang down loosely beside him and looking down at the human girl with an almost suspicious expression.

For a few moments the only sound that could be heard was the rain pounding not only outside but also in onto Sesshoumaru's rug, that same rain falling onto his back as he hovered closely over his maid's crouched figure, the ground under and surrounding them covered in shards of silver glass.

Kagome abruptly rose from the ground, turning away from Sesshoumaru and the cold, wet wind blowing in from the vacant window, her eyes wide in realization. "The Shikon no Tama…!"

Sesshoumaru remained silent and motionless where he had been, the only change being that his expression had melted back into one of apathy, his eyes narrowed towards the ground in concentration. The human girl turned back to her master, anxious. "Sesshoumaru…"

He continued to stare at the ground, as if trying to focus on something. SesshoumaruKagome frowned in concern. Has the Shikon no Tama's light blinded him…?

The youkai prince suddenly stood, swiveling his body to Kagome and bringing his eyes to bore down into her. Although relieved, the human felt vulnerable under his strict glare, as if she had done something wrong. The memories of his angry words only a little while earlier, of the warmth of his arm around her, of the way he protectively hovered over her, of what she saw for that instant in the light of the Shikon no Tama…The Shikon no Tama! Kagome managed to pull her gaze away, looking to make a move to the door. How did I forget…!

However, Sesshoumaru was much quicker than the fragile human girl, and with seemingly unimpeded vision he slipped by her, heading for the hallway. Kagome excitedly prepared to follow after him, but with only one step she almost fell to her knees again, the glass shards from the window cutting into the tender skin of her feet and immediately causing blood to begin spilling out onto the rug. She let out a yelp of surprise rather than pain, as the cuts were so smooth they were nearly unnoticeable, and as a result of momentum she took another step forward, her other foot being gouged out by a few larger jagged shards of glass. She was about to topple over when she felt an arm come under her knees and catch her behind her back, pulling her up into the air.

Sesshoumaru didn't even look at her as he carried her effortlessly out into the hallway, and he didn't even seem phased by the blood that dripped down his sleeve and onto the ground. Kagome, on the other hand, was stunned, and couldn't help but stare up at Sesshoumaru in shock and even admiration. For a moment she wasn't sure if she was going to start laughing or crying, but in the end she just stared, her earlier discovery suddenly becoming inconsequential. As long as he was here right now, she didn't have to think about what it meant. She didn't need to think about anything, because it didn't matter.

Sesshoumaru will protect me…Sesshoumaru will…

"Raven-chan!" Rin nearly leaped up into Kagome's lap when she saw her, her eyes gleaming with happiness. Next to Kagome were Miroku and Sango, Miroku looking no more concerned than usual while Sango was holding some kitchen napkins up to Kagome's bleeding feet. After the incident most of the residents of the castle had gathered together, the maids in the kitchen and their lords and masters in the grand dining room; not for any particular reason but because it was more casual for the two groups to be separated. The only man in the room was Miroku, who was of course quite pleased about it, with his eyes trailing around the room with lecherous delight.

"Rin!" Kagome smiled back at the girl, pulling her up onto the counter she was sitting on. "Are you okay?"

The little girl ignored her question, instead barraging Kagome with a wave of her own. "Oh Raven-chan are you okay? I was so worried about you and I'm…" Her eyebrows suddenly furrowed together, a look of sadness crossing the girl's usually bright face. "I'm so sorry Raven-chan, I didn't know, I didn't know that there was anything wrong with the cake, oh please forgive me, I didn't mean to hurt you or make Sesshoumaru-sama sad, please forgive Rin!"

"Oh Rin-chan!" Kagome wrapped her arms around the little girl, hugging her tightly. "It wasn't your fault! Of course I'm not mad!"

Rin quickly returned the hug before abruptly pushing out of her arms and hopping back down onto the ground. "Where's Sesshoumaru-sama?"

With somewhat of a surprised look, Kagome tried to explain. "Sesshoumaru is-…"

"Sesshoumaru-sama." Rin corrected.

"Yes, Sesshoumaru-sama is in the dining hall right now, with all of the other youkai…"

A disappointed look overtook the young girl's face and she looked to the ground, kicking her foot across it sadly. "Oh…" She then looked up, as if just remembering something, and she turned to Kagome once again, a smile once again lightening her face. "I'm going to go find Jaken-sama! Bye-bye!" And with that she disappeared into the crowds of maids.

"Wow…" Sango watched Rin as she hopped off. "What a kid."

"Mm…" Kagome nodded in agreement, still staring off in the direction that the little girl had just disappeared off into. "I'm going to miss her…"

Sango blinked in surprise at the comment, leaning closer to Kagome, a suspicious look on her face. "What do you mean by that?"

"Raven-san, I must ask you something…" Miroku suddenly, and unexpectedly, interrupted the two, having somehow managed to pull his eyes away from the countless giggling maids to turn to Sango and Kagome. "What is it between you and Sesshoumaru? It seems that everyone is talking about you…"

And, as he said, many of the girls were huddled together in whispering groups, occasionally laughing and pointing or looking in Kagome's direction. They were no doubt gossiping about Kagome's entrance an hour or so earlier when Sesshoumaru had carried her in in his arms, holding her much like a groom does for his new bride. It didn't help that she was dressed in a rather nice white nightgown, one that was far from standard apparel for the maids, causing her to drastically stick out from the black dresses that every single other girl was wearing. The raven-haired girl looked insulted by the insinuation but at the same time could not hide the blush on her face. "What are you talking about, Miroku? There isn't anything! I just cut my feet, is all, and I couldn't walk. He couldn't just leave me alone on the floor, could he?"

Sango seemed to have forgotten about Kagome's earlier comment and joined Miroku in her suspicious interrogations. "Well, he is Sesshoumaru…I know I've heard of him doing more heartless things…"

"Come on, Sango-chan!" Kagome waved her hands frantically in her defense, the blush on her face darkening. "You don't really think…"

Miroku and Sango both looked the girl up and down closely for a few silent minutes, before turning to each other and smiling comfortably, as if they too had realized the impossibility of what they were saying. "Yeah. It couldn't be. Sesshoumaru's not capable of anything like that."

Kagome laughed along with them, although in her mind she felt somewhat insulted. What did Sango or Miroku know about Sesshoumaru? They didn't have any right to say things like that!

"Oh, by the way Raven-chan." Sango bunched up the now blood-soaked napkins onto the counter next to her, adding to an already large pile. "Inuyasha has been really worried about you lately. You should see him to assure him that you're all right."

"I saw him this morning…" Kagome bent her leg up to rest on her other knee, touching the bottom of her foot tenderly. The bleeding had slowed significantly, although the cuts were deep and starting to sting.

Miroku grinned devilishly, nudging Sango with his elbow. "Yeah, a little too worried, perhaps?"

"Inuyasha and Raven-chan, huh…?" Sango paused a moment to consider the idea. Kagome looked nothing but horrified.

"What are you talking about?" She fumed. "Can't you leave me alone for just a few minutes! You're the two who have been getting a little too comfy!"

It was Sango's turn to be embarrassed, although Miroku nodded his head in agreement. "Yes, me and Sango have crossed a new bridge in our relationship."

Sango smacked his hand away as he tried to slide it around her shoulder, hissing angrily at him. "In your dreams, pervert!"

Kagome laughed at the two, happy to have distracted them from their ideas on her imagined love life, and browsed the room with her eyes. Just as I expected…She thought to herself, the smile slowly fading from her face. Kagura and Kanna aren't here…Something must have happened with Naraku.

It was then that something caught her eye; a white piece of paper pinned on the wall behind some older looking maids that were entering in and out of the kitchen closet. She remembered seeing it earlier when searching for the flowers for Sesshoumaru's room. It was a calendar.

"Hey, Sango-chan…" Kagome tenderly lowered herself down off the counter. "I'll be right back, okay?"

Sango was surprised by her sudden movement, moving to put an arm around her and support her friend. "Wait, are you sure you're okay?"

Kagome waved her off, nodding. "I'm fine, I'm fine. It hardly even hurts anymore. I'll be right back, I promise. Okay?"

With an apprehensive look Sango unhappily agreed, telling her to be careful. Kagome's earlier claim that 'it hardly even hurt' wasn't exactly the truth, but as long as she walked awkwardly on the sides of her feet she knew she could manage.

After pushing through nearly fifty girls, receiving strange and suspicious looks from at least forty-five of them in the process, Kagome made her way to the calendar. Behind her she could vaguely hear Sango's voice calling after her with relative urgency, but she hardly heard her. The world around her became swamped with haziness the moment her eyes fell on the messily scratched number on the calendar in front of her.

"Raven-chan!" Sango quickly made her way over to Kagome, placing her hand on her shoulder the moment she got there, trying to shake her out of her trance. "Raven-chan, Sesshoumaru is…"

Kagome turned slowly to look up at Sango, her expression suddenly serious and melancholy. The 17th…? How could it already be…?

Sango pointed to the door, leaning in and whispering carefully into her friend's ear. "Sesshoumaru is out in the hall."

"Huh…?" Kagome glanced towards the doorway, unable to see him.

"I think he's waiting for you." Sango continued. Kagome looked back to Sango, then to the ground, seeming as if she were thinking hard on something.

"Raven-chan…?" Sango blinked, a little surprised by her friend's sudden strange behavior. "Are you all right."

Kagome looked up at her, suddenly on the brink of tears, and leaped forward suddenly and wrapped her arms tightly around Sango's neck. "Sango-chan! Thank you for everything!"

Sango stumbled back a little, unable to respond from the sudden shock of the hug. "Raven-chan…?"

"I'll see you later, okay!" Kagome nearly yelled at her, nodding. "Okay? I promise! I'll definitely see you again!"

And with that she headed towards the door, ignoring the pain in her once again bleeding feet to hurry away as quickly as possible, leaving Sango to stare dumbly after her and some of the attentive maids to increase their excited gossiping as she disappeared out into the darkness of the halls.

An intense light filled the room, momentarily blinding Kagome. She squinted her eyes to avoid whatever it was that she thought may be coming, but relaxed again when she realized that the world around her had gone quiet. The air was alive with a bright green warmth, and when she looked to the window she could see the glass swelling and warping from some sort of pressure outside.

She wasn't sure why, but she felt tired suddenly, as if she had just exerted some sort of great effort. Even if she had wanted to move she had the idea that she wouldn't be able to, as if there wasn't enough time to do it, and all she could do was think. Somehow, for a reason she didn't quite understand, she turned her head very, very slowly to the side, to see Sesshoumaru seemingly suspended in the air in the process of leaping up from his chair. And, on the desk in front of him, her eyes were automatically drawn to the map that he had been so ferociously protecting earlier.

Kagome's mouth opened a little as she realized what it was written on the corner of the sheet.

'Sesshoumaru-sama…' She dully thought, her eyes glued to the word 'Fudai' that seemed to be glowing from it's place on the paper. 'Why don't you just tell me…?'

Just after that thought a shot of electricity pierced through the air like a bullet, shattering the warped glass and piercing through Kagome's forehead. She fell to the ground, unconscious.

Sesshoumaru was waiting for his maid outside the door, an upset, stoic look in his narrowed eyes. He watched her stumble out towards him and grabbed onto her arm as soon as she was close enough, supporting most of her weight. "Sesshoumaru-sama…" She said quietly, looking up at him. "The Shikon no Tama, is it…?"

The youkai prince took his time in answering her, his eyes narrowed down at the drops of blood that were oozing out from under her feet. This stupid human…The corners of his mouth turned downward in disapproval, as he was at a loss of what he was supposed to do with the girl in her current state. He couldn't carry her again, at risk of intensifying the rumors that he knew were already circulating over the compassion and concern he had been showing towards the human maid, and yet at the same time he couldn't very well allow her to walk on her own. She was in obvious pain, not to mention her blood was already becoming smeared across the floors.

"My father…" Sesshoumaru began, moving his eyes back up to his maid's face. "My father wishes to speak with you."

Kagome's eyes widened in alarm. "Your father? Why does he…? Wait, Sesshoumaru-sama, what are you…" She hadn't even finished her sentence when Sesshoumaru suddenly grabbed her around her waist and hoisted her up horizontally under his arm as if she were some sort of package or animal, swiftly heading down the hall towards the dining room.

"Sesshoumaru-sama!" Kagome squealed, her hair falling over her face. "What are you doing!"

Without even looking down at her, Sesshoumaru quickened his pace, anxious to get out of the halls where everyone could see the childish commotion she was making. "My father has demanded to see you."

Kagome ceased her kicking and flailing, noticing the unnatural apprehension in her master's voice. "Why…?"

Sesshoumaru stopped in front of the large, extravagant dining room doors, pausing before he raised his hand to open them. With a deep look of disapproval he moved his eyes down to her, his lips curled up in an angry frown.

"He suspects you of attempting to steal the Shikon no Tama."

Author's Note: I HAVE NOTHING TO SAY OTHER THAN THE NEXT CHAPTER IS ON THE FREAKING WAY. No, I'm not going to go into Naraku next, or about whatever the hell he's doing, I'm going straight to Sesshoumaru and Kagome meeting Kouga. Okay, I know this chapter is a huge disappointment, especially considering that you wonderful people waited A YEAR for it, but it is 8 pages and I'm working on the next chapter right now but here's something to tide you over until I get that done. If you're upset with that then just think that I could've waited another week or so, risking not getting it done in order to have them both ready for you. So at least you have this.

There's some stuff that I need to tell you guys. First and foremost, if one more person tells me that Lord Sesshoumaru-sama is redundant because Lord means sama, then I will explode. I know. The reason I went with that is because if Kagome just said Sesshoumaru, that seems way too casual for her, as a slave, talking to her master. But at the same time I wanted something that was glaringly more formal for when she felt dejected, so I added Lord for her and Jaken to use when they wanted to be extra humble. So stop e-mailing me/reviewing and telling me that. Kay? Kay.

Second off, in less than a month I am becoming an exchange student. Yes, I will be going to Japan for a year as a high school student. Which, as excited as I am, means that it's going to be impossible for me to even think about this. I mean, I know that it won't be any different for you guys because it's been 10 months since the last update anyway, but it is different because I did actually think about the story, and I actually rewrote it about three times, and then got it all done in three days, and either way I don't know where I'm going with this other than that the story will be pretty much dead-ish once I leave. So I am going to work my arse off to get this as done and wrapped up for you guys as possible in these next three weeks.

I want you to realize though that I have final exams to take and projects to complete and college recommendations to get and packing to do so there is a chance I could leave you all in a very random, very not completed spot. I'm going to try hard though. I know you probably all hate me for not updating for forever, but I am sorry, and believe it or not I really have been thinking about it and working on it for a while. After posting this on I am going to be working on the next chapter for the next two or so hours, so maybe you'll see the next chapter next week? Don't harass me people, I'm on the edge as it is!

And, to lighten the mood a little, you guys have been kind and supportive of me since the beginning. I've gotten a review a week, at least, since I stopped writing, and I never stopped feeling guilty about it. I really appreciate the kindness you've all shown to me, and all the e-mails you have sent and the nice reviews and everything. Please, all of you, continue to be awesome. I do this all for you. And, feel free to e-mail me suggestions or anything else at my e-mail address (it's new!) special. ! Thank you very much. Now off to work!

My little scene separators are not working, so I have no choice but to use these dots. If you're wondering why they're there, that's the reason. I'm sorry; I realize they're very ugly and tacky.

Edit #2: Ahahaha. I make myself laugh. I called Miroku a boushi. That means 'hat'. I amuse myself.