Well Epilogue

I opened my eyes to sunlight streaming through on my face, and squinted, rolling over in my bed to escape the beam. I ran into another warm body and it took me a minute to remember exactly everything that had happened and another minute or so for me to realize that it hadn't been a dream, but reality. Kei groaned and rolled over, wrapping an arm around my bare waist and pulled me close.

"Good morning," he whispered slowly, his eyes still closed and I kissed his eyelids.

"Good morning," I replied, stretching out beneath his hand with a purr. He laughed and cracked one eye open.

"I don't think I've had such a good night's sleep in a long time," he said lovingly.

I grinned mischievously. "Well, when we did get to sleep," I put in and saw his face light up.

"Whose fault was that?" he tried for a stern look, but I laughed.

"Don't even try to put that on me," I teased and saw the sexy smile slide over his lips as he pulled me closer. "You're the one who spent half the night giving me a complete history!"

"I didn't want to waste a single minute in sleep when I could spend it with you," He purred, "Besides, I made it up to you, didn't I? Can you blame me?"

I laughed, "No, not really." I glanced down at this watch and frowned.

"What time do you have to leave?" I whispered and saw his eyes drift down to his wrist as well.

"I should probably start getting ready," he said with a sigh and I gripped his arm tightly.

"Promise me Kei, that you'll come back soon!" My eyes looked at his intensely.

He nodded, "I promise, and when I return, I won't leave ever again."

He had his driver drop me off at my apartment, and we parted with a long and passionate kiss that had a few people on my street talking, a couple of women sighing wistfully, and naturally a few children giggling, and as I watched his car drive away, I felt the familiar ache of his distance. But this time, it was quickly replaced with a soft warm feeling that spread through my body, and I knew that our bond was stronger than before and he was never really far from me.

As soon as I entered the apartment and looked around, a sudden urge washed over me and I hurried to my room.

I had picked up the receiver and put it to my ears before I had actually formed the command in my mind, and my fingers flew over the keypad from memory. As the rings slowly chimed in my ears, I listened with my breath held and apprehension in my veins.

"Hello?" came a very soft, sleepy voice on the other end and I slowly exhaled.

"Mamma," I said, equally as soft and heard her voice rise in pitch in worry as a million, no doubt morbid, reasons for such a late night call ran through her head. I could almost feel it through the receiver.

"Mamma, I'm fine!" I said quickly, trying to reassure her. "I just.I just wanted to hear your voice."

"Francesca," she sighed and the irritation rose to the surface, "Do you know what time it is here?"

"I know Mamma, and I'm sorry! It's just that I have something wonderful to tell you," I said, my voice dropping into a sigh as the smile crept along my lips. There was a long pregnant pause over the phone before I felt the warmth slide along my body.

"Tell me about him," she said softly.

"Oh, mamma, he's amazing, and I love him so much," I began. Her laughter echoed across the miles to my ears and made me smile.

By the time I put the phone back in its cradle, a few hours had passed. I knew my phone bill would be outrageous but at that point I didn't care. It was probably the nicest conversation I had had with my mother in a very long time. She sounded excited about Kei, and I had already begun formulating a plan in my head for my next visit. I wanted my family to meet him; I wanted to show him my home, the lands where I grew up as a child, and the people that shared my blood. I felt that after all he had given me, I owed him that much. After all, Italy was part of who I was.and I wanted him to know all of me.

I missed Kei desperately while he was gone, but the rest of the family made sure that I was not alone long enough to dwell on it too much. Kohana took me shopping, Inuyasha took over my training with the staff and complimented me on keeping up my skills, and on the weekends, I spent time with Sesshoumaru, learning more about the role to which I was now placed. Most of the business that he had built and Kei controlled was run by his sons, three overly energetic and highly suave young men that shared their father's tall stature and their mother's colorings. Only the youngest had Sesshomaru's long silver locks and blue markings. Of the three, he seemed the warmest, and was in control of the lighter aspects of their business.

The companies that they or, perhaps it was better now to say we, owned had their fingers in everything. Computers, cars, oil, steel, shipping, commerce, retail, entertainment; almost every industry owed some of their success to our family and its contributions. Mamoru, almost fitting for his name, managed funds that were given to research on alternate forms of energy: solar power, geo-thermal, hydrothermal, and etc. He was an environmentalist, set on trying to find a way to keep the world supplied with power, without contributing more to the destruction of its lands, air and sea. The other two, the twins , ran the darker and more bloodthirsty parts of the business. Given their strong resemblance to their mother, I was not surprised in the least. Our first meeting was one that made my stomach turn violently, it was like being forced to sit face to face with two wolves that were eyeing you and trying to decide whether you were prey, or simply a chew toy to enjoy. If it hadn't been for Sesshoumaru sitting beside me the entire time, I would have bolted within a minute. Their very nature made the air thick and almost unbreathable, and it took all of my control, still relatively weak from my bout with the Sorrow, to keep much of what they were from overwhelming me.

The older twin, Shinei, had his father's expressionless face and cool demeanor and was in charge of the more economic aspects of the business. He handled all the monetary affairs and was quite versatile amongst the world's stock markets. He had a sense of economics that seemed a part of his blood, and traveled constantly. I only met him once, and very briefly.

His younger twin brother, Shinzou however was passion filled where his brother was a statue of ice. His eyes revealed his hunger easily and it was he who made me the most uncomfortable. He studied me as if I were something that could be purchased or even conquered, and I made sure that I was never in his presence alone. It was this constant desire for what he didn't already own that made his specialty in the business all the more exemplary. He ran the bloodier aspects of the business, which included what was lovingly termed the 'hack and slash' portion of the business. In other words, he was in charge of buying out companies and usually selling them off in little bitty pieces. He was, needless to say, quite adept at it. Once he set his eyes on a goal, nothing could stop him, and if a competitor got in his way, he had no qualms about making sure that they were soon bankrupt or out of business. I made sure that he understood, by the end of our first meeting, that I was NOT someone that he could treat like an acquisition, and backed up my words with a small demonstration of my empathetic powers, the little that I had at my disposal.

There was one more to the family, a daughter. Her name was Kyoko and she could have been her mother reborn. Her facial features, her markings, and her colorings were all those of her mother. The only difference was that Kyoko's eyes held more kindness than Megahna's had. I had yet to meet her face to face, for she resided in the ancestral palace and had little to do with the world around her since the death of her mother.

Kei was true to his word and within a few weeks, he had finished his business in America and returned to my arms, just in time for Christmas. We greeted the new year together, curled up in a warm blanket on my balcony as fireworks rang throughout the night.

My small apartment became too small for the both of us, and so we moved into a luxurious penthouse apartment, in one of the tallest buildings in town. It reminded me somewhat of the times that Kei used to sleep in the trees. Perhaps living on such heights gave him a stronger sense of surrounding, and a better angle to view danger, if it approached. Yuki moved with us, and Kohana took over my old apartment. Kei conducted his business from the center of town, though once in a while he did have to make trips to the ancestral palace that still stood in the midst of mist and mountains far to the west.

When the cherry blossoms once again graced the branches of the trees outside my classroom, and spring filled the air with the fragrance of returning warmth, Kei told me that it was time to return to the castle. Annually, the remaining youkai lords and their families gathered to reflect upon the events of the past year, and to plan for the year to come. It was a way to keep old ties alive, since most of the lords had gone deep into hiding, or had become so reclusive from their human surroundings that they never saw another youkai, save for these meetings. I took leave of work and joined him, curiosity urging me to see how much of the past had truly survived till now.

And, finally, as soon as I arrived, I met Kyoko. She was a soft spoken woman, despite her physical features, and I was relieved our first meeting was much more pleasant than the one I had shared with her mother. We spent the time walking in the very same gardens I had admired in the past, speaking of things outside the walls of the palace. I felt myself warm to her, and knew that she felt the same for me. On some level, I think she rejoiced that she had another woman to speak to, one who could also share in some of her memories of her mother.

I had feared that I would be the only human there, that I would be the kitten amongst jungle cats, but it was not the case. Some of the lords had taken human wives and so I spent some time with them, speaking to them of the difficulties they too shared in attempting to manage this double life away from the eyes of many. It had been difficult for me to keep both my ordinary life teaching and my important life and duties as Lady of the Western Lands at a sane balance, and it was of comfort to me to know that I was not alone.

We did take that trip to see my family, shortly after classes ended for the summer. Kei was everything a mother could want for her daughter, impressing my mother both with his gentleness, and with his ability to hold a truthful conversation without lying to flatter her. My father's easy nature was not lost on my husband either and they spent an entire evening discussing the mechanics of motocross, a hobby my father had picked up. Even my brother took to Kei. Of my birth family, he was the only one who knew the truth of Kei's origins, though it took a rather long and heated argument to convince him not to run to either my parents or the tabloids. I think Kei found it amusing, especially after seeing the look on my brother's face, as I stood my ground, rose up to as much height as I could manage, and told him on no uncertain terms that if he dared to think of doing either, I would make his life a living hell. I don't think my brother ever heard me raise my voice before, and after my threats, he simply turned to glance at Kei, and grinned.

"Well, if you can bring my sister out of her little cocoon like this, then I suppose you're still alright, no matter what you are. Of course, you're going to have to explain a lot."

And so we did, and after several hours of my brother's completely shocked and amazed looks, he just grinned and nodded his head.

"Well Ches," he said, using a nickname he gave me as a child, "You always wanted to live in a world of fantasy, I think you got your wish. I'm going to have to come visit you in Japan, just so I can meet the rest of this family."

I hugged him tightly, grateful for his understanding. I was nervous that none of my family could ever except him as easily as I had been accepted, but my fears were quickly quelled.

Before I knew it, the seasons flew by and it was almost the start of a whole new year. I rejoiced in the memories that I had acquired and as the first snow fell outside our window, I sat curled with my husband watching it quietly. Everyday that I spent with him, was filled with joy and laughter, and wonder at how incredibly lucky we all were, simply to be together.

We had many more adventures as the weeks turned into months and those into years, but this would perhaps be the best place to end our story, for as they say, every story must have a beginning, and an end. Sometimes I would sit down to look at my mementos from the past and I'd cry for those who were gone from my life, and I'd wonder if perhaps this was a life that was not meant for me. During those times, Kei would hold me and remind me that the path that we take in life is always ours, and ours alone. And I would come to realize that he was right. No matter what else happened or what other moments our lives took us through, I was home...here in his arms, knowing his heart was beating close to mine and that would never change, ever again.

~~*~~

The woman sighed, looking down at the screen before her. Without another moment's hesitation, she hit the send key, and watched as the computer responded with the message that her document had been posted.

She leaned back in her chair, watching as the computer began its many steps to turn off, and waited till the screen went from a bright blue to a black, the glow fading into the darkness around her.

It had taken her several months, but it was finally finished, her story.their story.

She knew that perhaps no one would believe the words that she had written, and perhaps it was better that way. Still, even if no one ever believed the truth of the words, written, it had been a story that she had to tell, a story that would, whether they believed the particular circumstances or not, apply to all, as a message of hope. She realized that she had to spread that hope, to remind the world that anything is possible, so long as you believe.

With a soft smile, her hands drifted down over the round mound of her stomach, a tender look crossing her face in the dark as she touched the firm skin there, and imagined the growing child within. This story was his legacy, too, and someday she would tell it to him. Someday, she would tell him the story of his roots, and of the extraordinary people who cleared the way for his entrance into the world.

She would teach him to honor his past, and respect his present, but most importantly, she would teach him to look forward into his future with courage; just as his father and his mother had.just as his grandparents before them had, and generations of his family had.

The woman carefully rose to her feet, steadying her center of gravity carefully before walking silently from one room into the adjacent, the light of the glowing full moon that came through the window guiding her steps. From the bed, she could hear the soft breathing of her husband and she carefully shed her robe, sliding beneath the covers beside him, and tried not to wake him.

"Is it finished?" came his melodious voice as he rolled over to face her, his golden eyes shimmering in the dark.

"I should have known you were still awake," she laughed softly and heard his head move on the pillow.

"I need to get you a new keyboard, that one makes too much noise," he whispered as she moved closer to him, his hand reaching out and wrapping around her growing waist. "Is it done?"

"Yes," she spoke, unable to hide the pride from her voice. "It's finally finished," she said on a soft yawn.

"They won't believe you, you know that right?"

She smiled, and he felt the warmth of it on his face. She was the only woman in the world that he knew could light up a dark room with a simple smile. "I know. They don't have to believe, but just think about what I'm trying to tell them, that's all I want."

"What are you trying to tell them?" he whispered as she curled up against his warm bare chest, the feeling of his heart beginning to lull her to sleep.

"That if you truly believe in your own strength, then you can make your own happy endings," she said, her voice growing softer with each breath, "And to always keep hope." He could hear the sleep claiming her in the breathy tone to her voice. "A very wise woman once told me that love is hope, the hope that lives within each of us, the hope for something better."

Her husband smiled as she drifted off into a deep sleep, his hand traveling down to her stomach where the warmth of his hand felt the fluttering motion of his son deep within.

"Yes, Mother," he whispered into the dark. "You were right," he smiled as he felt the slightest movement underneath his fingertips and listened to the heartbeats of mother and child for a few moments before finally joining them in sleep.

AN: *wipes the tear from her eye* It's so hard to believe that its finally over! I have to thank all of my readers from the beginning to the end for all your wonderful support and reviews. I am so very happy to say I have yet to be flamed in any of my stories!

I hope you all have enjoyed this tale, as much as I enjoyed writing it. I have learned a lot over the past months. I hope my writing skills have improved (though my grammar skills leave much to be desired, right Em?)

To all my readers again, thank you very much. And while this story is finished, and I have no inspirations for any kind of sequel, there is a story that is in the works, one that I promised a friend months ago, and now I think I should write. My inspiration for Megahna came from a classmate of mine, who I have introduced to the wonders of Inuyasha. One day, she asked me if Sesshomaru was married. I told her that the manga/anime never hinted to such, and a wicked look crossed her face.

"Oh, I could think of the perfect wife for him. She's gotta be so cold, she makes him look like a puppy dog."

"Nah," I told her, "I think Sesshoumaru is the confirmed bachelor, he'll never marry."

"But, what if he had to?" she said slyly, and thus was born Megahna, who yes, is named after my friend Meghan. Megahna's thoughts and actions were of my creation, but her inspiration was given to me. And towards of the end of the year, Meghan approached me once again.

"I had an idea for a story," she said and I sighed.

"Hun, I've got so much on my plate right now. I still have to finish Cry, I'm working on a sequel for Summertime, Well isn't anywhere near finished, and now I've started working out a new story with Emania. And finals are around the corner, I have no time to think of anything else new."

"Oh, but hear me out! I've been doing a lot of thinking about Megahna, and well yeah I know she's like the uber-bitch (her words), but there should be a good reason for it. And come on, she's married to Sesshoumaru, she's gotta crack at some point."

"What are you talking about?" I said, and she gave me her idea for a side story about Megahna, breathing a little more personality and information into this villainess that everyone loved to hate. The more she talked, the more I liked it, and the wheels in my head began turning.

So, as a promise to Meghan, I am writing the story of Megahna, after Francesca has returned to her own time. I hinted a little at what happened to her within the final chapters of this story, but the full and complete tale will be coming soon. It will not be the length of most of my other stories, probably only a handful of chapters at the most, but I think you will all like what Meghan and I have thought up.

Okay, I think you're all anxious to get on with your lives so I will close up my author's notes here with another thank you, and the hope that I will see many of your reviews again in my other works!