"Good morning, Sesshomaru. Have you come back with Rin?" Kagome asked the imposing figure behind her as she continued to pick herbs.

His only answer was to hum his dissent. Honestly, she didn't expect much of an answer from the reserved demon lord. In the 10 years she had known him he wasn't much for conversation. Always short answers and non-committal sounds. She learnt that his preferred method of communication was largely non-verbal; a side effect of being so closely tied to his animalistic side along with some childhood hang-ups, as she referred to it from their few discussions of it. Yet there were exceptions to the rule. She was luckily one of them.

Over her time in the feudal era hunting for shards and battling Naraku, she developed something resembling a friendship with him that persevered even after the evil hanyou's death roughly 9 years ago. They first bonded over the children they had seemingly adopted, but not knowing exactly how to care for the opposite species (although she shared more of a sibling relationship with Shippo ). Then his hidden love for art and her hidden musical prowess. She had even spent time at his palace in the West and she knew something most hadn't.

"Ichiro has asked to see you."

She knew about his heir. A younger almost carbon copy of the stoic youkai called Ichiro.

"You could have brought him here, you know. Inuyasha left this morning to help at a village two days away with Miroku. Even if he was here you still should have brought Ichiro. It's about time Inuyasha learnt about his nephew." She continued to move about her garden on the outskirts of the village and pick herbs. She could have had her garden next to her hut which was next to Miroku's, but she preferred the privacy the spaced afforded her and the ability to wander through the trees at ease.

Here's the thing, while it had been a decade of growing close to the demon as possible and seeing the soft side in him, some things never changed. There was still tension between Inuyasha and Sesshomaru. While Sesshomaru did not seek his brother's death he had changed his animosity to become uninterested in the hanyou on the whole. This resulted in Inuyasha becoming even more enraged with his brother and was worsened by the fact he had taken interest in her. Inuyasha wasn't too keen with Sesshomaru being a constant in her life. He said that Sesshomaru was more annoying than the mangy wolf.

"Well, tell my little moonbeam he'll see me by the end of the week. I have to come up with an excuse to give Inuyasha as to why I'm going to your castle after all."

Neither of them wanted Inuyasha to charge up to the Western Palace, Tessaiga swinging. She couldn't imagine how much damage and commotion he would cause. He would most likely yell that she was kidnapped or something equally or more erroneous along those lines.

"Miko, you are your own person, are you not?"

She finally stood up from her task and looked at the taiyokai. His face had not aged since she first met him. A blue crescent moon on his forehead, amber eyes, two maroon stripes on each of his cheeks, pointed ears and long silvery-white hair. But something was different. His already pale skin had taken on an ashen pallor. Almost imperceptibly there were the beginning of dark circles beneath his eyes showing a tiredness she had never seen in him. And strange enough, she could easily make out the breath passing through his lungs when usually she had to stare for a long time to see movement. What was going on?

"Are you okay?" She inquired, concern lacing through her voice.

"Worry not, Miko"

"I have to worry. You are going to be my brother after all."

His eyebrow quirking was his only question.

After years of being with Inuyasha, he finally proposed a mating. It had been a long time since she'd been in love with him. There had been some... hiccups on Inuyasha's end. He saw too much and not enough of Kikyo in her. Sesshomaru has advised her previous years ago that it was something that was a problem, but she told him he was being overly cautious with her heart.

"It appears someone has to do so, " was his only response.

She believed that this was meant to happen: her being with Inuyasha, protecting the jewel. Why else would the well close and leave her permanently on this side of the well 7 years ago? Why else would the Shikon still exist, with no power but more of a storage for her extra reiki, and not merge back with her body?

Her home in the future had no demons or anyone with powers. Technically it would be safer to have it there. No one would be able to sense it and no one believed that such an item still exists. Demons, Mikos and magic were nothing but myths and fairy tales. Thus, her being in the past must mean more.

Sango believed that the Kami was rewarding her for her efforts and letting her be with her love, Inuyasha. Miroku believed that she still had work to do and a destiny to fulfil, maybe to right some wrong that has affected the future (although she thought he chose to believe that over her getting with Inuyasha). Kaede, on the morose side, thought that kami left her in the past to die with the magic.

She felt drawn more towards Sango's ideology. No, she desperately clung to it, especially after what happened a few days prior.

"Just the other day, when he came back from helping another neighbouring village, he asked me. Swept me up in his arms and asked me to be his mate."

It was unexpected, she had to admit. After being together for 7 years since her return, waiting for him to ask, she began to suspect it would never happen. She wondered repeatedly if it might be time to move on from the hanyou. Not too long ago, she had begun to think she was simply settling for Inuyasha, somebody who she already knew and was nice enough so that she wouldn't feel lonely or unhappy. The majority of her friends had already married or mated. Miroku married Sango some months after the defeat of Naraku, and then they had their first child together the next year, followed 2 years after that with twins. Koga mated Ayame 4 years ago, joining the clans and becoming the unrivalled heir to the Eastern Lands. Even tiny Rin was now being courted by Kohaku at 17. And here she was Higurashi Kagome, 25 years old, playing "Will he or Won't he" with Inuyasha roughly 9 years after his love confession.

Sometimes, when she was great in her melancholy over her lacklustre romance, the idle thought floated through her mind that maybe he was seeing other women when he insisted on travelling by himself to help villages. It would make sense, he never took out his sexual urges on her, leaving her still a virgin at her age. Those were the times she would confide in Miroku her doubts and he would urge her to stop making herself available for him. Move on.

"He has?" He confirmed.

She nodded.

A strange far off look clouded his golden eyes and he inhaled a shaky breath. "When?"

"He promised it will happen after he builds our dream but. Whatever that is." She didn't really have a dream hut in mind, but it seemed like something important to Inuyasha's demon half so she left it alone.

He opened his mouth to say something, paused and seemingly chose something else, "May you find all the happiness you deserve."

With those words, Seshomaru's presence seemed... smaller. He turned towards the forest facing West. Kagome received an unadulterated of his long silver hair and took note of its missing shine.

"Are you sure nothing is wrong, Sesshomaru?" Her voice was soaked in concern for the demon lord before her.

"I must leave." Is what he answered before streaking away to his castle.

Something was wrong with him and he refused to acknowledge it. Males and their pride.

She shook her head in disbelief as her eyes followed a petal on the wind. She stretched out her hand and fell perfectly in her palm. It was midnight blue- almost black in hue and came from nowhere around there. There was a small blood spot on it that was still fresh. Absently, she tucked it in her blue hakama pocket, before turning towards the village.

She spent the remaining hours of sunlight performing her duties as a Miko within the village, packing her bags for her trip to the castle, practising with her powers and plotting on how to find out Sesshomaru's ailment- if he truly was sick that is. Now, as the sun began to set, she was walking to Sango's hut to join her for dinner as they were wont to do when it was only them and the children. With the men away, they could easily have their girl talk-

She stepped into the hut and her eyebrows shot into her bangs. Miroku was there, in the hut, furiously whisper-arguing with his wife. He wasn't supposed to be there. If he was here, that meant Inuyasha should be as well. But he hadn't come to see her. She stretched out her aura to search for him within the village and in the forest where he usually hung around finding nothing. He hadn't returned, why would that be if Miroku was standing right there.

"...Hi," she said finally, "Where's Inuyasha?"

The couple tensed at her greeting and slowly turned around to watch her in the doorway. At the utterance of the hanyou's name, Sango turned red and excused herself from the room with a threat to her husband that he had better explain something to Kagome. Kagome swore she saw something resembling shame in the slayer's eyes before she left.

He took a deep breath before looking into her eyes. "I think- no. I know it's not in your best interest to mate Inuyasha. You cannot!" There were no preamble or pleasantries. No sugarcoating. Matter of fact. The way he always spoke to her about her relationship with Inuyasha.

Maybe this was why Sango was angry. Her husband was speaking nonsense, "What? Why not?" She rolled her eyes at him. Miroku was once again trying to dissuade her from mating the hanyou.

"Kagome, you know what my feelings are on this. And I'm sorry Kagome I was right. I saw it with my own two eyes"

He stepped closer to her and wrapped her petite form into his tight embrace. And with his softest voice, he brought to reality her melancholic musings. It was like a terrible hurricane she had been expecting, yet had not prepared herself for. All the signs were there.

And strangely, she felt nothing for his wrongdoing. Just disappointment in herself for believing him to be better. What a shame.

Before she could fully immerse herself into discontent, a familiar yokai signature popped into her senses at a rapid speed. The path it took was winding and lead directly to her. Familiar though it was, it should not be in Edo, a territory in the east. He would never be allowed to travel alone especially to here; his father would never allow it, even to see her.

He appeared in the doorway of the hut. His near carbon copy. His amber eyes darted along her body as if to confirm that it truly was her. He was panicked.

She pried herself from Miroku's grip to hug the little boy before her. He was no older than 7, but the fright in his eyes aged him ever so slightly. She soothingly rubbed at his unmarked cheeks.

"Ichiro, does your father know you're here.

"No... But we need your help. Something is wrong with father" he said with a tremble in his voice.

"What happened to Sesshomaru?"

"He came home and collapsed. The healers don't know what's wrong. I came here because father always said that you're the best healer in the land. Can you help me 'gome?"

The statement sent tendrils of ice down her spine. She feared the worst fo Sesshomaru. What type of sickness could take down such a strong yokai? She had to help him, she should have never let him go earlier. She had to go to him.

She scooped the toddler into her arms, "Miroku, lend me Kirara I'm heading to the heart of the West."

He whistled for the firecat and she appeared at once outside the hut, already in her battle form. She slipped the toddler into his hands and ran next door. She was lucky she had the foresight to pack her bag early. She grabbed everything she needed and returned to Miroku to take Ichiro. She climbed onto Kirara's back before turning to Miroku.

"I'll be back when he's cured. Wish me luck." She was about to take off when she remembered something, "Don't tell Inuyasha where I'm going. Also, tell him that the mating is off."