What would've happened if he went right?

Dark eyes looked to the thatched roof of a simple home - his own for once - without a tinge of drowsiness. It had to be the middle of the night, but he simply couldn't sleep. With a small sigh, knowing he would regret this in the morning, he quietly slid from his own bed and left the room. He passed the short hall and slipped into his sandals, leaving his shakujou resting against the wall next to the door. A single hand reached out and pushed the shoji aside, bringing cool night air inside.

He stepped out enough to close the front door, as the nights were getting rather cool lately for fall. Winter would be here soon. His eyes went to a rather large, tall tree across the front walk and looked into the patches of falling leaves.

Through the five years he'd harassed and been harassed, his good friend still refused to stop sleeping in trees. He only slept in the house during his human night, or if it was too cold to bear. With the quarter moon - if he squinted enough - he could still make out the blazing red color...now dyed blood red in the dark. He couldn't tell if Inuyasha was sleeping or not...but just like when Kirara slept, his canine friend could wake at a moment's notice.

He smiled and sat on the small engawa. It was unsure whether or not the hanyou would join him in wonder of why he was up with the moon high in the sky. If those sharp ears were paying attention, that was a possibility.

He let a leg dangle off the side and leaned against a pillar. Right now, he preferred a moment of quiet, solo introspection...so he hoped not.

It still seemed like a dream sometimes...a waking dream. This peaceful, almost boring life he held was opposite of the adventuring houshi he used to be. Sometimes he wondered what he would be doing if divine intervention hadn't saved him.

What would've happened if he went right?

That day was one of fate. The shakujou fell to the right. He SHOULD'VE gone right. Then those travelers passed in his contemplation. He smirked. It was probably the one time being a lecher was not only a good thing, but IMPORTANT.

Hands went into his sleeves as he squelched a chuckle. What would the others say to that one? Amused eyes closed. They'd give him a look of disbelief and that they weren't buying it.

Five years. Looking back now, that simple act seemed like the biggest metaphor of his life. Reaching a fork in the road and using his staff - a holy symbol - to dictate his next path. It showed his humanity both in when he intended on following no real sense of direction and also thinking with his body in taking the intervention. That simple, everyday occurrence a normal person wouldn't think twice over. But with the pressures and goals weighing on his shoulders, forcing him to action on many key points, the differences were astounding.

Where would he be at his current age of twenty-three - given that the curse allowed it - if he followed a nonsense pattern of travel? The most important - if no one defeated Naraku during his search, he could very well be dead right now. He was eighteen at that time and the hole was the size of the shikon no tama. But if he was lucky enough to still be this old, it probably wouldn't be worth it. He could - and probably WOULD - be heirless, unmarried, friendless, landless, still a drifter, and as big a hentai as reported by the others.

A frown marred his face as solemn eyes speared the ground. How his life changed! He had everything now it seemed. All that - save for not owning the land - and the full use of his right hand.

Dark eyes unconsciously stared as he pulled it from the sleeve of his black robes. It was so strange not to see the matching purple and black clothes with white beads up to his elbow at times. With so many years of using his unobstructed hand more, he sometimes caught himself turning from right to left...when it was easier to grab with right.

In looking at his physical appearance, one would still wonder if he managed to do all that. The same color and style of clothes, minus the glove; the same style of hair, now longer and in a ponytail to his shoulder blades; and the same profession, though he had no need for the fancy house 'blessings' unless they were actually needed.

The others had degrees of changes as well. Inuyasha was one of the least physically changed - as was common for anyone holding youkai blood - but most emotionally changed...even though he still tried to hide some of it. Growing up a warrior would forever stick with him even a little.

Shippou was another contradiction. Being full youkai slowed his physical age past human glimpsing. He grew maybe a finger's length, but being so short belayed everything else about him. He still bickered with Inuyasha and considered himself son to Kagome-sama, but being around them all helped him emotionally and with his powers. Inuyasha had mildly taken the kitstune under his wing to teach him, though when kidded and asked why, he defended that he was tired of Shippou being useless in a fight. That didn't help the social development between the two, but at least Shippou sort of looked forward to making himself stronger.

Sango...ah Sango. Her beauty - in his opinion - surpassed every young woman's in the area...and probably some of the hime of nearby towns. If he had issues keeping hands to himself when she was seventeen, it was near TORTURE now! To his dismay, she still wore kimonos and an extra sarong for modesty. She still did some taij-ya work, but like him, only when needed. No longer did she seek it out like her tribe used to...with Naraku gone, the youkai weren't as multiple because many were killed when all was done.

Kagome-sama, being the youngest human, was the one who gained the most looks of admiration and wonder. She was the biggest controversy of Kaede's village and it was spreading to neighboring. Her beauty gained many admirers in those towns, which was a mild problem for a certain white-haired demon.

Inuyasha was so obvious in his affections! Everyone but the party involved knew it, even when the entire group was together. He pegged Inuyasha correctly the first time he groped Kagome-sama and got such a defiant response. He smiled and darted eyes to the occupied tree. That was STILL highly amusing whenever he thought about it.

At least they both stopped lying about it and to each other. It was one of the most annoying things to try and talk some sense into a stubborn, pride-filled hanyou. The times he gave in to violence probably didn't help him...but Kami-sama, it sure felt good!

With admitting all but vocally - as he did during the quest - Inuyasha had no more real worries about Kouga. The wolf had either seen or heard the rumors about Kagome-sama, but being together with Inuyasha for so long helped ease his insecurity...even though he still got jealous. Old habits die hard, but Kagome-sama's growing outward affection and more forcefully denying Kouga finally showed her loyalty.

Five years. It was amazing that Kagome-sama was still able to come through the well. No one knew why it still worked, but none were complaining! They asked if she made a wish on the tama to keep the well open, but she still had it in possession. She had made a wild decision, and had Kaede and the villager doctor put it back in her side using the tools she brought. She instructed them in her futuristic medicine and now it was back in her left side. She argued that if it was out of sight, no one would be after it. And if she had direct skin contact with it at all times, she could help Midoriko win the battle.

Her biggest opposition to that was Inuyasha. He argued about how stupid she was being, but no one missed the concern in his eyes when he said that. It wasn't about the jewel anymore, it was about Kagome-sama.

If that didn't all but proclaim his feelings, nothing would.

He wondered how long it would take for those two to openly be together. Everyone knew about it, so they weren't hiding it. Part of it was their childish hesitation, but a lot of it dealt with that mysterious future. With the jewel complete and 'safely' tucked away, the only thing keeping Kagome-sama here were the people she cared about. She finished the school that she always talked about, though she said she had higher levels yet to attain. Of course Inuyasha pulled his usual fit of saying her school was worthless. After a few 'sits' - and a LOT of arguing - Kagome-sama finally explained her next schooling years. With her history experience in this era, she intended on doing that with the rest of her life. She said she intended on being a fairytale writer and use the Sengoku as inspiration. She had quite the plan laid out.

Her grandfather apparently got away with using all kinds of deadly-sounding illnesses for the one school during the quest and because of that, she was now allowed to take her studies at home. That was some of the best news heard of, if only because it meant Inuyasha wouldn't overreact so much. The girl would still leave for a week or so to show her progress and pick new things up, but she was here more than before.

Sometimes he still pinched himself. When he woke up in the morning to his loyal, understanding wife and greeted the others good morning, it seemed like a tanuki's trick. One of these days he was going to stop wondering when the magic let up and accept that this peaceful, routine, boring...utterly GLORIOUS life was finally his.

What would've happened if he went right?

There was the whisper of shoji sliding open and he startled a little. "What're you doing up? This is the fourth time you've done that this MONTH. Keep it up and you're going to get insomnia."

An instant, tender smile reached his face. Dark eyes glanced to his wife before looking back to the sky. "I apologize for waking you koi." He quietly responded. Arms went to his sleeves.

There was a brief amount of silence before a feminine sigh sounded and footsteps stopped directly behind him. After a second, he was presented with timid hands on his shoulders. He wasted no time in finding that hidden comfort in that gentle touch and leaned against the kneeling figure. The hands became bold at his initiation and wrapped around his neck, soft skin touching his cheek as their heads touched.

It always touched his heart when she displayed her love for him. It was audacious to show affection in public, but he was okay with her not being as open as he was. It only made times like these more special. She never failed to calm him, to excite him, make him happy, or be his rock. Many times all she had to do was smile, but her words were wise and he took them to heart as he always did.

It was no surprise he was so in love with her. She had his heart since they first locked eyes.

"Come back to bed Miroku."

If it wasn't the middle of the night and sleep finally catching up, he would've taken her words a different way. As it was, the hands sliding over his shoulders as she stood were sensual enough to make him shiver. "Aa." He agreed. Standing, he suddenly noticed a flash of yellow in the nearby tree and wondered how long Inuyasha had been watching. He gave a small nod of acknowledgement to his good friend and the animalistic glow disappeared.

He followed as far as the other bedroom and stopped, squeezing her hand. She turned and sent dark eyes his way. "Miroku?"

"I'll just be a minute koi." He quietly reassured. A hand was already sliding the shoji open. "I just want a quick peek before heading in."

A wry smile appeared. "You used to tell me that right before you groped me."

He thought to take the innocent act, but discarded the thought. His hand rose and kissed the back of hers. "And look where it got us...Sango."

Said woman blushed a little and pulled her hand away. "Charmer." She muttered. "I'll be in bed. Don't take too long."

His eyes gravitated to her hips, now wishing he hadn't paused. A quick shake of his head and he quietly entered.

There slept the most beautiful creature - aside from Sango - on the face of Japan. A loving smile appeared as a hand rose and gently rested against the rise and fall of the child's back.

Hikari was her name, and for good reason. She was both their light, and most definitely his. He didn't know what he would do without her now and as with Sango, he would do anything to make her happy.

Even at the young age of two, Hikari held Sango's beauty. He knew in another decade he would have his work cut out in choosing suitors - or keeping them off her. But that's where Inuyasha came into play. In his own way, the antisocial demon took to Hikari, though he never admitted it. He watched and protected her - as with Shippou - as fiercely as he did them all. If male demons guarded her at such a young age, it was scary - and amusing - to see how badly they'd be.

'My little Hikari...' There was always hope for a son to grace their line, but until then, he was more than satisfied. He bent and kissed her brow, brushing soft hair aside. After a long pause of just watching his daughter sleep, he regrettably stood.

It was time to head to bed.

The second he settled, an arm wound around his waist and his hand clasped hers. Warm breath tickled the back of his neck and he shivered, but leaned against her. The best feeling in the world was right here. All the beginning embarrassment, the grope-and-slap routine, the hentai attitude...it eventually led to this. The most complete, deepest love he ever felt in his life and happiness beyond his dreams.

It always begged the question then...

...What would've happened if he went right?