Her passion for the unexplainable, Where else but here can she be found? Loved in the deepest manners By those who have even breaths of a day, Any day any year of that life, In her company.

She is the magic that pulses in our veins, She can give to you all that are needed To know clarity, happiness, calm. You cannot help to love her, This being of divine grace and majestic old age style.

The pleats of material cloak her body, Highlight all the features, That man and woman alike dream. You will see her in the dramas of sleep. You will hear her melody as it sings to the mind, The placid hope that is held in our futures.

To touch her is to see all that you know and remember, To learn, To communicate for those who are near. They hear your thoughts, Commands, An ability that she teaches with even brief contact.

Luckiest is he that tastes her, For he will be able to forever guide his self And those surrounding him. Into the boundless open, fearlessly.

Her love will not be won easily, Yet the trust that she holds for all, Known to her or not, Is a gift to you. Do not hurt that which brings so much joy and peace to this world.

We once destroyed her kind, let us not do so again.

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


Chapter 1

He watched her from afar.

~~*~~*~~*~~

Kagome ran to the well, unbelieving at the sight she had just taken in. InuYasha and Kikyou together, holding one another like lovers. Even after all the trouble the undead miko had given him, InuYasha was with her. Kagome had heard him promise to protect her, to repay her death with his life, to be there for her needs. It was a pact meant to be made without Kagome knowing and that hurt the most.

She gazed down into the well, unable to focus on the bottom and feeling wave after wave of nausea flow through her. She wanted to retch, to purge her body of the growing knot in her chest and then to escape somewhere he could never hurt her again. If only such a place existed.

~~*~~*~~*~~

He was able to get within striking distance of the girl and she still showed no sign of awareness. Her smell reminded him of cherry blossoms in full bloom, very unique for any being especially humans. A soft breeze combed through her hair as he moved up behind her. The shoulders of this woman-child shook with her grief and he could sense the sorrow in her. He could cure that affliction for her if she would but ask. First she would have to know he was there to offer.

SesshouMaru reached through her hair to grasp the slender column of her neck lightly from behind. She jumped at first, every muscle in her snapping to attention at the sudden realization that she was in danger, but he meant her no harm. Quite the opposite in fact. A defeated sob broke from her throat, and his brother's woman-child relaxed. She looked down into the well again then drew the Shikon-no-Tama from beneath her shirt.

She unclasped the Jewel and set it on the well's rim. Together they stood in silence, just looking at the fragments of something so powerful that no being, human or youkai, would be able to fully posses it. Daylight poured over them when a cloud shifted to reveal the sun, and he had to wonder why she didn't call for help. His bother was within hearing distance. SesshouMaru speculated that were the hanyou not dallying with a walking corpse, he would be here, defending this woman-child. The boy was truly foolish to choose the dead over a living being.

~~*~~*~~*~~

Kagome could barely see the Jewel anymore through the tears that clouded her vision. The youkai behind her was taking its time deciding how to kill her, and she only wished it would get it over with. The pain would end then and she would be at peace. She wondered if death was an eternal void of nothingness, or if there really was another level that conscious spirits went to. She would find out soon enough.

The warm sunlight that had bathed them for the moment again passed behind a cloud. She shivered in the slight change of temperature and felt the youkai respond in kind. It stepped closer to her, the hand at her throat sliding over to her shoulder and pulling her back.

It took only one step and she found herself within its embrace. A second arm circled her waist completely and Kagome wanted suddenly to lose herself in the creature's warmth. Her eyes drifted shut, the image of a calm afternoon in the forest still vibrant in her mind as she waited for her final moment to come.

It hesitated only a second more then tightened its hold, cupping her chin now and tilting her face up towards the sky. She didn't want to know if it would snap her neck in one swift twist or if it planned to tear open her throat and leave her in a heap next to the well. Either way would be a release.

Warm breath at her ear was a surprise, though. It meant the youkai's head was right beside hers. Kagome almost turned towards it, as though the creature's caress wasn't deadly, but its hand at her throat prevented such.

She swallowed once when it drifted down her neck, images of her own blood pooling around her flashing into her mind. She didn't want to die that way, for it to be so long and drawn-out; she wanted quick and easy. The sudden end.

~~*~~*~~*~~

She smelt divine, beyond the cherry blossoms he had thought of before there was subtle jasmine and a simple sweetness that was all woman. She was pure heaven.

He nuzzled her skin, the surprisingly calm beat of her heart pulsing in the vein there in her neck, and resisted the urge to pull her around and kiss her. The woman-child had offered no resistance, no attempt to either escape or call for help. It was so much easier than he had expected. The way she stood so pliant and calm in his arms defied his intentions, the battle he had imagined having to fight to attain her. This powerful and beautiful miko, his brother's most deadly tool, was his.

SesshouMaru kissed the junction of her shoulder and neck once, then bit into her. Tiny hands came up to grasp at him as her body instinctively reacted, but then she calmed again. The pounding of her now rapid heartbeat was so thrilling. It tempted him to draw more blood from her than was already flowing from the piercing wounds left by his fangs. He could drink her dry in a matter of minutes, but what then of later?

Finding out who she was had only mildly prompted his interest, but knowing what possessing her love and loyalty could mean had brought him here. Killing her would be a mistake beyond forgiveness, even by himself, for she was the final key to his survival; to his ultimate domination of the Western Lands.

No minor youkai would stand a chance against them. With her power linked to his youkai prowess, there would be nothing to stop him from ruling any domain he wanted. Granted, keeping control of just his inheritance was task enough, and SesshouMaru had no desire to attain more. He was satisfied with all fate had given him but would stop at nothing to secure it completely. That was where the woman-child came in.

He had thought her a worthless human, not worthy of his hanyou brother's company even, but he'd come to see differently. She was written in the ancient legends of his kin, a human miko whose powers would save them all from extinction. It was a story so buried in the past, that SesshouMaru had only remembered it of recent when Rin demanded a tale to pass the time. He'd told her without realizing whom he spoke of until the child had offhandedly made the comparison to InuYasha's woman.

"A miko like Kagome-chan," she'd said with an innocent light of awe and fantasy twinkling in her child's eyes. He'd left them soon after to seek out more information and the girl herself.

She slumped in his arms, her head lolling back on his shoulder, and SesshouMaru turned her face towards him. Half-open eyes regarded him in confusion, as though she was waiting for something, and then finally she lost consciousness completely.

He gathered her close, the lightness of her body a pleasant surprise to him, and turned to leave. There was a moment when the Jewel caught his eye and SesshouMaru realized he could not just leave so powerful a trinket laying around.

Jaken and Rin had been told to return to the domain and await him at the castle. He would be going there directly, and had actually planned to be making his escape through a space void, but this pleasant change of events, the ease with which he'd obtained the miko negated the need for such risky travel. He could call to his brother, maybe even taunt the brat a bit for leaving something precious unprotected, and then leave, or just be on his way. He doubted InuYasha would know he'd taken the girl if they were already gone when the hanyou got to the well.

~~*~~*~~*~~

Kikyou drew back from him slightly, the embrace too intimate and too much like forgiveness. They were still enemies but she would let him die in her place if that was what he really wanted. It mattered little, she couldn't feel anything beyond the pain and hatred, and she suspected that once InuYasha was dead she would still ache inside.

He too moved away, only for far separate reasons. Kagome had seen them; he knew that because he could still smell her on the breeze. She'd no doubt go through the well, back to her own time until he came for her again. InuYasha wondered if this time she'd actually tell him 'no'.

From the direction of the well they heard a faint bark. It could easily have been a dog from the village, but InuYasha knew the animals no longer ventured into the forest because of the strong demon presence here. No wolf packs roamed so close to humanity, aside from the occasional visit from Kouga, so his interest was immediately perked. He could feel the foreign youkai at the very limits of his senses and froze to the spot, wondering if it was maybe just Shippou come looking for Kagome.

Kikyou too gazed off into the forest. She could feel the souls out there, as easily as she could taste her own dirt and bone body in every breath she took, but there was also that girl's presence. She was still linked to her reincarnation, a tiny piece of that soul residing in her being, and the undead miko sneered with disgust. She called to her soul catchers, letting their feather touch reassure her and carry her away. There would be plenty of time later for InuYasha.

He knew she was leaving behind him but still did not shift his gaze. The sound came again, more pronounced and obvious, and InuYasha focused his eyes and ears in that direction, drawing the Tetsusaiga just in case. When he searched again for the youkai's presence, it was gone.

He had to know.

Creeping through the forest he quickly picked up Kagome's trail. Following it, he soon began to feel the Shikon-no-Tama the closer he got to the well, which told him it had been Shippou's aura he'd sensed. Maybe the little cub had delayed Kagome from leaving, inadvertently giving InuYasha a chance to explain about Kikyou. If it took being sat, then so be it.

The well clearing was empty and for a moment of complete confusion he thought about just turning back to the village. A reflected spark of light caught his eye though.

A look of sheer horror crossed his face as he rushed up to the Jewel. The wench had left it there on the rim of the well, where any youkai or human could have stolen it. She had never been so careless before or maybe it was she had never been so upset. InuYasha peered into the well, wondering if by leaving the Jewel, she had sealed herself in the future.

It didn't make sense to him why she would do something so foolish. Clasping the Jewel in his fist, he turned from the well and bounded easily into the forest canopy. Maybe after a few days he'd go to her and ask her to come back and help him find the rest of the Shikon-no-Tama. Perhaps he'd even apologize, though really there was nothing to apologize for. Only the truth to explain.

Kagome will understand, he thought, she always does.