Disclaimer: Don't own Inuyahsa. Do own a five year old bottle of bubbles. . .

Summary: Part of "falling over you" story arc. Takes place after "Falling over You" and "All he Needs". Pairings: Sesshomaru x Kuma, Inuyasha x Kagome.

Kagome and Kuma talk about what the future holds.

(Thanks to Jessica M. for reviewing! This is the start of the sequel, but, as you can see, I'm not really sure where to go with it. I'm happy someone likes Kuma! She's so damn stubborn.)

-----------

"After Love"

by : Banshee Puppet

----------

"Ne, Kagome? Do you.ever think about it?" Kuma asked, thumbs looped in her belt as the two girls walked side by side.

It was afternoon, springtime, almost half-a-year since Kuma had fallen into the well and made a home of the feudal era. Nearly half a year since the girl had come so close to death, fallen in love with Inuyasha's brother, of all people.nearly half-a-year since Kuma Ayame had been human.

Now, the cougar hanyou beside her walked casually, almost two heads taller than Kagome, looking peaceful, content, but also thoughtful and sadder than Kagome had ever seen her. So much had happened, Kagome realized. So much had changed. Kuma was a good friend, she figured, a thought that struck Kagome suddenly. They hadn't seen one another in far too long. Even if Kuma was very stubborn, she also had a very easy sort of kindness, and even if it was difficult for her to communicate what she was feeling, that didn't keep her from trying to. She almost wished Inuyasha would learn something from the girl, on that note at least.

"Think about what?" Kagome asked.

"You know.what comes after. What happens when you find all the shards? Will you go back home, stay here? If you go, will Inuyasha stay behind? You two love one another so much, anyone could see that, but.don't you ever wonder what comes next?"

"What comes next? Kuma, this isn't like you. What do you mean, what comes next? This isn't really about me and Inuyasha, I can tell."

Had Kagome thought about it? Of course. Too often, really. But thinking about it wasn't helping much, so she'd decided to try not to. What came after? What she was doing was too important. She didn't have time to be selfish. If she did, she wouldn't ever finish collecting the shards, because no matter how well things turned out, there would be something that she would lose.

"I just want to know," Kuma said, stopping her stride and staring up at the leaves billowing with the warm breeze that was on the air. "What comes after love?"

"After.love?" Kagome echoed, staring up at the deep longing in her friend's eyes. She sighed. "Is there something after love, Kuma?"

"God, I hope so."

"Has something happened between you and Sesshomaru?"

"No. Nothing at all. That's sort of the problem. Don't get me wrong, Kagome. We love each other very much, but.we've come to this sort of stasis. Loving each other, that's habit. Kissing goodnight, that's ritual. But it's like there's a wall there, something we can't get past. Why can't we get past it? What is it? What happens when he gets bored of hunting youkai. What happens when he gets bored of me? I hurt. There's no reason for it at all, you know. It's just stupid. I'm so happy, but, I hurt so much, and I don't know why."

There was a long silence before Kuma asked. "Don't you ever think about it, Kagome? At all?"

"I try not to," Kagome answered. "Do I stay? Do I go? That's something to decide at the end. For now though, I just want to be with the people I care about." Kagome frowned thoughtfully. "You already made the choice once, Kuma. And at that time, I thought, you made it look so easy. But as much as I want to, I know, I don't belong here. If I did, I wouldn't keep going back, wouldn't have any reason to. You taught me that."

"Did I? I don't remember."

"You taught me that when you stayed."

"Aah."

------------

alrighty then, there's another one of these lil' vignette thingies with Sess and Inu that I'll upload soon. . . but I'm not really sure right now where to take this arc after that. R&R. Give me some opinions. What do you want to see? What do you not want to see? I'm coming close to a writer's WALL on this arc. Seriously. I want to continue, but, I'm not sure what to do next. Ah well, TTFN.