Epilogue

They walked together up the shrine steps and down to where the Goshinboku stood. Kagome looked about her. "So we're back where we started from." He brought her body against his, kissing her briefly but leaning back to examine her also. "Inuyasha, we have not had a honeymoon yet."

"You mean a week in the country?"

She smiled and shook he head, "No, we've had too many of those. Just some time alone. If you could choose, where would you go?" She looked at him expectantly as he looked down and fidgeted with her hands.

"Now that I have you, I would like to go to the north. My mother's family is from there originally and I feel a great interest in seeing it. And then, after that we could do Tokyo in your time."

"But you don't like my time."

"Well, This time I won't be dying of jealousy. Will I, Kagome?"

"Ooh, but I like you jealous." She laughed at his expression and relented. "No, I don't think you need to worry. Were would we live? I can't camp out in the forest forever. And I need to see to my future."

Inuyasha blinked, his golden eyes wide and his face smoothing to an almost slack-jawed look. The only other times she had seen his face so relaxed he had been deeply asleep. It made him seem very young.

"Well, I do have a home you know. A house," he paused a moment as if thinking, "with a garden."

It was her turn to gaze wide-eyed. "You certainly never mentioned it."

He had the grace to redden a bit. "I don't go there very often. I couldn't take you there before and I really prefer to be out in the open."

"Why couldn't we go there before?"

"You weren't mine then. And shared no physical part of me. There are rules about these things you know." He ticked them of on his clawed digits: "Blood relative with invitation, possession or pet, prey or mate." He smiled at her so beautifully that her breath caught. "That would be you."

He stood, drawing her to her feet beside him. "Want to see?"

"Huh?"

He smirked, grabbed her hand and removed what appeared to be a small, flat rock from the front of his suikan and held it before his eyes, studying it a moment.

Kagome leaned forward for a better look. It was a small flat rock.

He glanced at her sidelong. "It's been in contact with me long enough."

He casually flipped the rock to land on the ground and stepped on it. There was the faint sound of a bubble popping and the air around them changed.

Kagome found herself standing on a narrow stone path in a twilit spring garden. She was facing a small but exquisite house with paper shutters lit with the mellow glow of oil lamps within. Off to her left she could hear the trickle of water underscored by a bamboo tapper and smell the scent of lilies.

"Keh, it never changes. Come on, I'll show you inside." He shifted his grip to pull Kagome by her wrist up the short path to the house. The door slid back smartly and he stepped inside—barely pausing to let Kagome step out of her shoes.

A hallway floored in dully gleaming wood met her gaze. Shoji screens stood partially open to reveal rooms to either side. She paused in the doorway of one to see pristine tatami mats, an elegant standing screen at the far end depicting a storm at sea. There were shelves and drawers built into one wall and a freestanding chest baring a few, very tasteful ornaments.

Kagome stared at Inuyasha who seemed rather self-conscious. "My father had it done up when my mother was alive. I never bothered to change it." He shrugged, "Hell, I usually just run in to get a fresh suit of clothes on and leave."

"You've been changing into new clothes?"

"What the fuck did you think I was doing? Did you think my clothes just repaired themselves overnight? Jeez!" He rolled his eyes.

"You mean that you could have gone to this beautiful house at any time?"

Inuyasha seemed pleased and a little surprised. "Do you like it? Is it good enough? I think there's food here somewhere. Not as good as ramen. But hey—the spirits here are really old and my father had trouble just getting the house up to date."

Kagome, who had just been about to exclaim over how the house was like an exhibit in a museum she had once seen bit her tongue and settled for "It's just perfect!"

There was food, in the room that was beyond the panel screen. There, the shutters were drawn back on two sides, leaving it open to the twilit veranda and the small garden beyond. Innumerable little lanterns hung among the flowering trees lighting a particularly graceful branch here, creating a lush and mysterious shadow there.

A large futon was in the center of the room with two small black lacquer tables and a hibachi lit before it. They ate and Kagome asked a lot of questions while Inuyasha alternately teased and carefully replied. No, the house did not rely on the rock: there only needed to be some natural object that had been consecrated to the purpose and kept in constant contact with him from one dawn to the next. Yes, there was a nice place to bathe. He felt confident that the house worked just as well in her time as this one. Yes, most human-appearing youkai had some version of the same thing depending on their power. Yes he thought Sesshoumaru probably had a palace. No, he did not want to wangle an invitation to it.

He finally wound an arm around her waist, pulling her against him. "You know, I think we talk too damn much."

"What?"

"I keep getting distracted from what I want to say." He then proceeded to tell her what he needed so badly to say without any words at all.

It took a long time

The Next Beginning:
Dogs in Tokyo