Disclaimer: I don't own them… I'm sorry to disappoint all of the… (okay, right) one person who'd like me to own them; namely, me.

Thank you to my wonderful betas, Wendy and Deborah, who have stuck with me through all of my procrastination (that I refuse to tell them about! Heh)

And thank you to all the reviewers and fans who have also stuck with me through that HUGE writer's block that just fell out of nowhere… It was HUGE! And thanks to those who just liked my story and reviewed and generally told me to HURRY UP!

A/N: This has not finished being beta-d, so please excuse any typos. I just figured it would be a nice Christmas gift to all of you from me! MERRY CHRISTMAS/HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE!

Well, here it is; the final chapter…

No one told me I was going to find you
Unexpected, what you did to my heart
When I lost hope, you were there to remind me
This is the start
At the Beginning by Donna Lewis and Richard Marx

Chapter 30: At The Beginning

"Goodbye Kagome…"

Kagome slowly faded back into view after she'd been traveling for a while and knew she was too far away to be seen or smelled by anyone she didn't want to be seen or smelled by. She had no idea she could pull that trick of fading out of sight. All she knew is that she'd felt as if she'd give anything to be able to disappear and then she had. She just put it down to her mysterious new powers.

She walked quietly, head bowed, as she headed towards her destination: home.

Kagome hated lying to InuYasha the way she just had, but she really had no idea if she would come back to the Feudal Era. She wasn't sure if her heart could take coming back, it was hard enough leaving.

She would have liked to say goodbye to Sango, who was as close to her as a sister could get without being blood related, and to Miroku. She would miss the lecherous monk and she hated to know she'd never see her two friends get married. Then there was Shippou… She sniffed and wiped at her eyes as they began to water again. She hoped the little kitsune would come to forgive her one day.

While part of her hoped she wasn't saying goodbye to them forever, a larger part knew she was.

Kagome needed to think about how she was going to get her mind to forget about Sesshoumaru… and her heart. And she needed to figure out how to make sure what happened back with the Bakemono never happened again.

She didn't like the reaction it brought out in her. And no matter how much she wanted to blame it on her powers or on the sword, Tokijin, at the end of the day she knew the truth. It was her who had taunted and played with the Obake, and it was her who had enjoyed, even relished, the power she felt when she saw his fear… and it was her… who killed him. True, she'd given that life backed to him, but it didn't assuage her guilt that she had killed him. And no matter how pretty her words to Kanna may have sounded, she knew the real reason she'd given the Bake his life back was just that; her guilt.

She rubbed the back of her hand along her chin to catch the tears that had made it down her face without her notice or consent as she trudged on through the forest. Suddenly she stilled when she heard a sound in the distance… It sounded peculiarly like children. She listened a little more, eyes narrowed in concentration, than she grinned as she heard loud laughter reach her attentive ears.

It was children… children playing.

She realized this was just proof that Life went on whether you were enjoying it or not. The world stopped for no one. Kagome took a good look around her then. This part of the forest looked oddly familiar to her… She knew this place, she just knew she did. She walked a bit more then stopped and grinned when she recognized the large tree to her right. "Go-shinbuku…" she breathed aloud.

She was in InuYasha's Forest.

The tears began to roll faster as Kagome placed a hand to her chest, she realized that just a few paces in front of her would be the Bone Eater's well. If, she squinted she imagined she could even see the brown wood of its edges through the dense foliage. She was almost home. With just a few steps she would be home, back on her side of the well, and she could begin to put all of this behind her. She should be happy… so, why were the tears streaming down her face faster then they had been before? And why was she having so much trouble catching her breath?

Kagome heaved as she bent over at the waist trying to pull air into her starved chest. Her face was hot and wet with the tears she couldn't seem to stop and her chest felt as if someone had taken all their weight and sat on her with it. She was suffocating and she didn't know why.

"Sesshoumaru…" she wheezed out as she fell shakily to her knees, her backpack weighing heavily on her.

Was this what it felt like to love and lose? Her mother had told her that to lose the one you loved was almost unbearable, but she'd never imagined anything like this. Never, in a million years, could she have imagined these feelings coursing through her. Every ounce of her being was screaming for her to run back to him and bury herself in his arms. To bury herself in the one place she knew she would always be safe. She wanted desperately to go to him and never move again… never again.

But, he wasn't anywhere a round for her to do that and even if he was she didn't think he'd welcome her touch.

She'd truly and completely lost the one person she knew she'd ever really loved. And she had no idea why. All of a sudden he'd just turned completely cold to her, like he'd been when they'd first met. It was as if he didn't want her anymore. Her heart broke as that final realization surged through her mind and she bent over and cried like a baby, like she'd never cried in her life.

Kagome was to deep in her own despair to feel the strong arm wrapping around her shoulders or the reassuring voice telling her everything was going to be fine. No, all she could do was see the face of the demon she loved more than her own life in her mind's eye as she blindly followed the guiding arms of her rescuer.


InuYasha watched quietly as his brother came into his line of vision. They were still a short distance away from where he was perched, but they were close enough for him to both see and smell them.

He stared fixedly at the figure in white as he resisted the urge to roll his eyes at the Taiyoukai's obvious arrogance. While Sesshoumaru was, indeed, walking with Miroku and Sango, he was walking far enough ahead of them that to anyone looking they wouldn't think he knew them at all. InuYasha had to give him credit though, it was more then he had expected the prideful demon to do. He had been sure his brother was going to leave the other two behind and speed off after Kagome; but he didn't.

And InuYasha was going to find out why.

He was the last person who would ever understand what Kagome saw in Sesshoumaru, but he did see what attracted Sesshoumaru to Kagome. InuYasha knew he'd blown his own chances with her and there was a part of him that would always regret the decisions he made when it came to her and Kikyou, but Kagome was still his friend, closer to him than anyone, and if he could help her be happy he would. And what would make her happy was Sesshoumaru.

InuYasha also had his own selfish reasons for wanting to get the two of them back together. He knew that Kagome was going home soon, if she wasn't already on the other side of the well, and he was uneasy about that. He suspected that if they allowed her to leave the way things were between her and Sesshoumaru right now they'd never see her again. No matter what she may have promised him earlier, he knew his friend and he trusted his instincts and his instincts told him they were deadly close to never seeing Kagome again.


Sesshoumaru could smell the hanyou up ahead and figured InuYasha was waiting for them. He'd been angry at InuYasha when the fool had run off after Kagome like he did. He hadn't commented on it though, because his anger wasn't so much towards Inu Yasha as it was toward himself for not going after her like some part of him was telling him he should have.

A loud part.

He refused to give in rather then adhere to his better judgment.Why should he care what happened to her? He'd done that once at had been ready to make her his… she was his! He'd ignored his better judgment thinking that maybe his father hadn't found the only female ningen worthy enough to be with a demon of their stature and what did she do to repay him for his kindness? Proved him wrong. He'd been mistaken. If she wanted to be with the hanyou then she could have him! He would not allow a lowly human to make him feel inadequate. 'He would not!'

Sesshoumaru held stonily to his convictions as he stared straight ahead. He ignored the ache in his chest as he marched on seemingly oblivious, but very aware of two pair of eyes boring into his back.

He could feel the monk's and the female taijiya's eyes on him. They had witnessed his humiliation at the hands of InuYasha and the miko and he did not like it. The two ningens had, both, earned his grudging respect and though he would never admit it aloud he was some what impressed with their fighting skills. The taijiya was very skilled with that large weapon of hers and she was light and quick on her feet. She thought fast in battle and apparently knew a lot about youkai and there strengths and weaknesses. Despite being a human, she was an asset in battle.

The priest was another matter, yet not all that different. He too was an asset, but whiles the taijiya's skill he could understand, being what she was, the monk's he could not.

To put it plainly, the priest puzzled him. Sesshoumaru did not care for puzzles. The monk was too fast in speed and too swift with his hands to be ordinary. No monk he knew of could hold a barrier against a youkai who's youki was as strong as Noridomo's, but Sesshoumaru could not smell anything unusual or different in the ningen's blood. To all intents and purposes the monk was an ordinary ningen with a great fondness for fondling women, but he was obviously not as ordinary as he appeared. Then there was the connection between the houshi and The Takashi Line. Lord Takashi Sano was Lord of the Eastern Lands, than his son Tomoe assumed the title. The monk was the last living relative of the East Dynasty? Sesshoumaru knew that that revelation was going to prove to be a problem once made known… especially, for the other two Dynasties and the Tribunal.

He decided he'd think on that later. Being Lord of the Western Lands, the largest of the four Lands, he was sure he'd be contacted just as soon as the others got wind of the unexpected news. He'd deal with it then. What was foremost in his mind was his treatment by the hanyou and miko. While, he did not care for the monk and taijiya being a witness to it, he chose not to dispose of them for the infraction, but instead, not address it at all. And they would do well to follow his lead; since he had no doubt that it was playing on their minds like it was on his.

The miko, he refused to address the betrayer by name even in his mind, had proven to be no different then all the other ningens. She was a liar and not worth his time, he thought with disgust. If he had only listened to what he knew to be right… But, somehow she slipped in through his defenses, made him believe things that he had left behind him long ago. He was prepared to bind himself to her without question… and she threw it back in his face.

It was happening again. Once more, someone he cared about had chosen InuYasha over him. What was wrong with him that, for once, he couldn't be the one chosen? Sesshoumaru refused to acknowledge that he wanted her to choose him.

He could still hear her voice as she screamed out InuYasha's name. She refused to let the hanyou die. She'd never shown that kind of concern for him. That blow had been meant for him, but did she even bother to address that? No. For a moment, he'd taken her silence as her acknowledging his superior skills in combat, but as she'd continued crying over InuYasha and he'd seen the devastated look in her eyes, he'd known she cared for the hanyou much more then she cared about him.

He may have been the one to have her body, but it was Inu Yasha who had her heart. And he didn't delude himself as to which meant more.

Sesshoumaru wondered, idly, if it had been him to be struck by the Obake as was meant, would her reaction have been the same? Somehow, he doubted it. Why InuYasha had gotten in the way and taken that blow for him, he didn't understand.

Aniki… He could still see Inu Yasha's face as he'd turned to see that his nose hadn't been lying and he truly smelled the scent of his brother's blood. Why InuYasha had turned to his left, towards the blade, instead of to his right he didn't understand? Sesshoumaru had sensed the oncoming attack and had been prepared for it. The hanyou's actions confused him. He'd fought Inu Yasha plenty of times to know that he did not usually make mistakes like that, so why?

Aniki. InuYasha had called him that… He could barely remember the last time the hanyou had addressed him in such a manner. He was well aware that when InuYasha was younger he'd looked up to Sesshoumaru, almost idolized him. It had been annoying and had taken some getting use to. Sesshoumaru remembered one time whe- no. He refused to go down that road. Maybe the voice of his father had been telling the truth when he said he hadn't chosen InuYasha and his mother over his first son, but it did not change the events from earlier. It did not change the fact that Kagome had not chosen him.

He continued walking in the hanyou's direction as his mind whirledand his emotions flared as anger and another emotion far more basic and yet, much more deeply felt, fought for dominance within him. The last time he'd felt this way, he'd just learned of his father's death…

…"Lord Sesshoumaru, sir?" a small, squeaky voice spoke from somewhere behind Sesshoumaru.

He'd just finished another session of training and was heading out of the castle when the servant had addressed him from behind. He, reluctantly, looked over his shoulder to see the youkai's bowed head and refrained from sighing out loud. "Yes?"

"It's your father sir," answered the female servant quietly.

Sesshoumaru could hear a trembling in her voice and smelled the distinct odor of tears. That's when he'd began to get an uneasy feeling and as he suspected he wasn't going to like whatever the demon said next.

"Your father was struck down in battle, sir," she continued.

Sesshoumaru froze as he waited quietly for her to continue.

"Lord InuTaisho died along with his opponent," her voiced hitched. "I was told to inform you that your step-mother is still alive and well, if a little bruised. We have deposited her in her rooms and attended to her needs."

He had not heard the rest of the servants words because a ringing had started in Sesshoumaru's ears as his heart had begun to beat at a dangerous pace in his chest. His lungs had begun to burn and Sesshoumaru was sure he was in danger of passing out before he remembered to breathe. His father was dead. And for the first time in many years Sesshoumaru had no idea what to say or do. His whole world had just come crashing down around his ears as Sesshoumaru gritted his teeth, his hands fisted at his sides, as he tried desperately to process the information…

…It had taken him a long time to get over the death of his father, but his anger over the knowledge his father had chosen his mate and Inu Yasha over him, had helped to get him through. His father had been fighting a foe that'd been bent on having Lady Izayoi, InuYasha's mother, for himself, and his father had gone to protect his mate and an infant InuYasha while he was still wounded from a previous battle.

Sesshoumaru stopped suddenly and came out of his musings as the familiar scent of his brother became stronger. Tilting his head back, gold met gold as his eyes fell on a familiar figure.

"It's about damn time!"

Sesshoumaru just blinked at the irritating hanyou before redirecting his gaze to somewhere in front of him then continued walking.

"Where the hell do you think you're going!" began InuYasha as he jumped down from the branch he'd been waiting on.

Sesshoumaru stopped. Slowly he turned half way back around and looked at Inu Yasha through the corner of his eyes. The hanyou was the last person he wanted to see right now… and the miko. "Where I go is none of your concern hanyou."

"None of my…" he trailed off in disbelief and stared at his brother for a moment before his anger set in. "It damn well is my concern if you're not going after Kagome!"

Sesshoumaru just arched a brow as he turned fully towards InuYasha. He kept silent as he continued to tell himself he didn't care where the miko was at.

InuYasha returned his brother's look with a disbelieving look of his own. If he didn't know any better he would think Sesshoumaru didn't care about Kagome at all. The fact that his brother was still standing there was proof that, indeed, he cared.

"She's leaving you know," he informed him quietly. InuYasha heard the gasps coming from behind him, but didn't turn to look at either Miroku or Sango. He kept his gaze on Sesshoumaru and continued. "She's going home… and I don't think she's coming back."



Kagome groaned as she flipped onto her side. She was lying on a stiff, yet warm, surface she realized and lazily wondered where she was. She looked around for the demon she'd called out for before a feeling inside her told her he wasn't there. She closed her eyes tight and pressed a hand to her chest as the pain of his absence surged through her. Kagome wasn't sure how she arrived where ever it was she was currently at. The last thing she remembered she was in InuYasha's Forest heading for the well. She remembered breaking down and she had a vague recollection of an arm… someone or… something… leading her away.

She had no idea where she was.

Slowly opening her eyes, she blinked once, then twice, to bring her surroundings into focus. She was inside a hut. And from what she could tell, she was lying on a cushion on the floor against the far wall of the room. The doorway was straight in front of her, in the opposite wall, with a set of blinds blocking her view of the other room.

Though small, the room was cozy and decorated in soft browns and greens. There was a chest at the end of the futon she was lying on and a large tapestry on the wall above her head to her right that had a beautiful depiction of a large meadow.

Kagome's eyes fell on the doorway again when she felt a familiar aura coming from that direction. There was something familiar about the place she was in. She was sure she'd never been in the room she was now lying in, but she had a feeling she'd been in the person's hut before.

Her eyes widened in recognition when the owner of the small home came through the doorway.

"I see ye are awake," smiled Kaede as she made her way slowly to her patient. "Are ye hungry, child? How are ye feeling?"

"Kaede-baba…" she blinked up at the wrinkled old face of her mentor. Kagome was so happy to see the older woman. She should have known it had been Kaede who found her, but for some reason the possibility never crossed her mind.

Kagome smiled as she sat up and accepted the tray of food the older miko had brought in with her.

Kaede returned the smile with one of her own. Silently she studied the younger woman as she waited patiently for Kagome to finish eating. She was curious about where Kagome and the others had been and where the others were. It was nearly seven weeks ago when they had set out to find Kagura, the wind witch, and her sister after they'd stolen the Shikon jewel. Now, seven weeks later, she comes across the young miko crying in the forest not too far from the well and her appearance changed. Kaede knew she wasn't the strongest miko around, nor was she even one of the more powerful ones, but it didn't take much for her to sense the heightened power within the young woman sitting across from her. She'd noticed the fully restored Shikon no Tama around Kagome's neck and wondered about it. Did Kagome not make a wish? It seemed she hadn't, but if so, why was the jewel still around? There was much she wanted to ask.

But, before she asked about that she wanted to know what, or who, had put the tears in her eyes. If she had to guess… going by where she had found Kagome and the state she'd found her in, she would guess that it had something to do with InuYasha. She wondered what the hanyou had done now. Kaede would soon learn that the answers to all her questions lie in one story.

Kagome could feel Kaede's eyes on her and she knew the other woman had questions for her and she wanted to answer them, if only to tell the story to someone, but where did she begin? Was she to tell her all that happened and all that had learned? What about the things she didn't know and only suspected? More importantly, did she have time to tell it and say her goodbyes before InuYasha… and probably the rest… caught up with her? Using her new-found abilities she knew she'd put a good day between them, but then she had no idea how long she'd been asleep and therefore how much time had been wasted.

Gingerly she put the tray down to the side before lifting tear-stained eyes to Kaede's brown ones.

Kaede watched in bewilderment as her young friend's bright blue eyes filled with tears before they were quickly wiped away. She was amazed the younger woman had any tears left to shed.

"What happened to ye, child?" she asked as she reached out a gnarled hand and placed it on top of one of Kagome's own.

"What happened to me?" repeated Kagome with a short laugh and a huff, "Well, where do I start?"

"Ye begin where it begins."

"Right," nodded Kagome as she thought about it some more. "Well, I guess it all began when I made a decision about my feelings for InuYasha…"


"Not coming back…" whispered Sango as she looked from the back of InuYasha's head to Miroku and back again. That couldn't be right. Kagome would never leave her without saying goodbye… would she? "What are you saying InuYasha?"

InuYasha didn't reply as he kept his eyes on his brother. He wondered if now was a good time to tell Sesshoumaru just exactly where Kagome came from. The question was; would Sesshoumaru believe him?

"She's running away," he said to him as he crossed his arms, gearing up for confrontation. He spoke in answer of Sango's question as well as to explain things to his stupid brother. "She running away from you and whatever it is that's going on… or rather not going on… between you two."

Sesshoumaru kept an impassive look on his face. So what, she was going home. If he wanted to find her, he'd go to her home and get her, he decided before it dawned on him that he had no idea where the miko lived. Not that it mattered, since he had no intentions of going after her… or so, he kept telling himself.

Inu Yasha stalked closer to the silent youkai as he narrowed his eyes at him. "What the hell is wrong with you? Don't you care that she's leaving? Back there," he through and arm out with his finger pointed back in the direction they'd just come from, "you were ready to kill me and anyone else who so much as looked at her the wrong way and now you stand here looking as if you couldn't give a shit one way or the other that she's leaving!"

Sesshoumaru felt something jump in his chest at the word never, but he used all his will not to react to it. Was he really ready to never see her again? Yes. Of course he was. She made the choice, not him.

InuYasha, despite how Sesshoumaru tried to prevent it, saw something flash in his brother's eyes. He'd watched the taiyoukai enough in his current lifetime to know when something has affected that icy exterior of his. Though it was gone too fast for him to identify it, Inu Yasha decided that the fact it had been there was enough of a reason for him to push the bastard a little further towards the edge. In his mind, Kagome was worth a few broken bones, besides… he healed fast.

"I don't know what it is she sees in you, but I do know what it is you pretend you don't see in her. If I thought she'd give me another chance, I damn sure wouldn't be standing here talking to you, but I know she won't. For some odd, and unknown, reason she loves you not me."

He watched as his brother lifted a brow at his words. He rolled his eyes.

"Yea, she loves me, but not how she loves you." He looked away then. An image of the one person who had ever promised to stay with him (and kept that promise) in his mind, smiling at him with the bright smile she always gave to cheer someone up. "Kagome's very loyal," he began as he turned back to his brother, "but she'd rather risk breaking her promise then stay here and not be able to be with you."

He lowered his head then as he felt a burning sensation behind his eyes.

Sesshoumaru's nose twitched as he smelled a salty moisture permeate the hanyou's scent. It had been a long time since he smelled his brother's tears. It was just as annoying now, as it was then.

"I know you love her Sesshoumaru," he decided to try one last time. "I don't know what has you so mad at her to want to hurt her like this, but you'd better think about what you're doing. You're making the same mistake I did, I hope you know."

Sesshoumaru nearly frowned at the comparison. "You are wasting my time InuYasha."

InuYasha ignored the dig as he blinked the moisture out of his eyes. Sesshoumaru would never allow someone to waste his time; if he wanted to leave he'd haveleft by now, that much he knew.

"You don't get it, do you?" he said as he lifted his head to regard his brother. Gold and gold locked. "Where she's going you can't follow Sesshoumaru."

Sesshoumaru's eyes hardened. He didn't care for someone telling him he can't do something. He was Sesshoumaru, Lord of the Western Lands, and he could go and do whatever and wherever he wished.

InuYasha saw the defiant look. "She's not from here, you big idiot!" he yelled in frustration. "She's from another time! Can't you see that? If you let her go down that well you won't be able to follow her. Five hundred years! That's how long you'll have to wait to see her again… provided you live until then. Because, I tell you, when I was there I sure as hell didn't sense any youkai!"

InuYasha huffed in anger when he stopped yelling. He hadn't really lied; he didn't smell any youkai in Kagome's time, but with all the smog, ningens, and strange smells he oubted he'd been able to smell a youkai who wasn't within ten yards of his nose, so there very well could have been youkai in the future. Sesshoumaru didn't need to know that right now though.

Sesshoumaru stared as he tried to see if InuYasha was lying. Truthfully, he couldn't recall the hanyou ever lying… InuYasha didn't take kindly to not being trusted. So, if what he was saying was true… Kagome was from another time. An image of the miko in her strange kimono came to his mind and her other odd ways of dressing and her scent that was nothing like any ningen he'd come across, besides the female taijiya, and he nodded to himself as he thought the fact Kagome was from the future made a strange kind of sense, really. He wasn't surprised to see evidence that his father was right; ningens did know how to survive.

But, a world without youkai? A world where inferior humans dominated? Could it be possible? Could what InuYasha said be true?

Then there was Kagome… Was he really prepared to never see her again he asked himself as he stared in the distance. Could he wait five hundred years to see her? Granted, that wasn't a long time for a youkai, but that was longer then one human lifespan, but then with it being her real time wouldn't she still be around? He wasn't sure. Sesshoumaru didn't know anything about time travel. He'd only just discovered it was possible.

Did Kagome really choose him? Did she love him like she had said she did and like InuYasha was saying? If so, then what was that promise she said to Inu Yasha all about? The fact that she was no where around was probably proof she was leaving, but how far away was she? Were he to try, could he catch her in time? And what was this well Inu Yasha mentioned?

"You've been there. How?"

InuYasha had been talking while Sesshoumaru was in his own head, so he continued, not really hearing Sesshoumaru's question. "I've followed her down the well before, but I don't know if I can now. That was before the shikon jewel was whole, but with her having all the pieces I don't know if the Bone Eater's well will continue to let me through like before," he ranted.

"INUYASHA!" screamed Sango; she'd had enough of being ignored. The hanyou was skating dangerous ground. When InuYasha turned to look at her she asked her question, "Shouldn't we be going after Kagome?"

"Well, I was hoping," he began in irritation as Sango's question brought him back to his task, "someone else would be going after her, seeing as he's the one making her run! But, of course, he's be-"

He was cut off when something hard knocked him in the top of the head.

"OW! Miroku!" he growled as he glared at the monk. One of these days, he promised, he was going to break the priest's staff. 'Holy my ass!' "What the hell you do that for!"

"He's left," replied Miroku, unconcernedly, as he gestured to the spot behind InuYasha.

InuYasha turned.

"Wha- Where'd he go?" He'd never even heard the taiyoukai leave.

"I imagine your plan worked and he's gone after Kagome," said Miroku as InuYasha turned back to them. "Well done, InuYasha. I taught you well."

"You tau-" once again he was cut off, but this time by his own hand as he slapped himself in the side of the neck and face with a loud crack.

InuYasha pulled his hand away and gave a narrowed eyed glare at the tiny familiar figure flattened to his fingers.


"Now we know the dangers over," Sango commented dryly.

"Master InuYasha," wheezed the old flea demon as he popped himself to his natural round form. "It is so good to find you safe, young master."

"Really? And why's that?"

"There's a rumor traveling that you, your friends, and the young lord Sesshoumaru had found yourselves into a lot of trouble in the Eastern Lands. A young miko who claims he village was saved by Lady Kagome said so."

"And, of course, you show up after the danger has passed, you old coward," he growled, the fingers of his left hand posed and ready to flick the flea far away.

Both Sango and Miroku gave the flea a reproachful look.

"You wound me, master InuYasha," pouted the old flea as he sweat dropped. "I would have come much sooner had I known of your peril, young master."

"Feh! Whatever," muttered Inu Yasha as the others rolled there eyes in unsurprised acceptance of the flea's obvious lie.

They all prayed Sesshoumaru would catch their friend in time… he was the only one who could stop her.

"Hey, what do you imagine happened to Kagura?" asked Miroku thoughtfully.


They sat in silence, one regarding the other.

Kaede had listened attentively as Kagome had told her story. Suffice to say, she was surprised but proud of her when she heard Kagome had finally decided to move on and let go of Inu Yasha. In her opinion, Inu Yasha needed time to heal from Kikyou before he could love again and therefore wasn't ready for Kagome and the fact that the other miko looked so much like her deceased sister wasn't healthy for the stubborn hanyou. So, she'd inwardly congratulated the other woman.

She'd nearly fallen over in shock when she'd heard of the developments between Kagome and the Lord of the Western Lands.

Kaede still remembered, to this day, when she'd met the beautiful youkai as a child. She'd been completely awe struck by the demon and after meeting him, Kaede had known that despite the deaths of her sister and Inu Yasha, and being stuck with her grandmother, she was going to be all right. Then the Lady Keiko had shown up at the village and taken over her miko training… Apart of her had always wondered if the taiyoukai had had anything to do with that, but Keiko-sama had never said one way or the other.

She knew she should say something to the younger miko to ease her mind, but for the life of her she had no idea what to say. She didn't know Lord Sesshoumaru well enough to ease the child's mind and she could not tell Kagome whether she'd made the right decision regarding the Four Souls and the jewel.

"Oh child, ye have had a difficult time. I wish I could tell ye all will work out, but I do not know the way of things," she said with a heavy sigh as she heave herself to her feet then moved to gather the tray. What was left had grown cold and had no hope of being eaten. "Ye must trust ye heart."

Kaede moved through the doorway to dispose of the food as she thought of what Kagome had told her. From Kagome's point of view she could not see anything that could have caused the taiyoukai to make such a drastic change in emotion towards the miko. The demon didn't strike her as one who played games, especially with humans, so she didn't imagine he would lay with thechild and not mean to keep her. So, it could only mean something must have happened that Kagome either hadn't told her or wasn't aware of herself.

"Are ye sure there is nothing ye have left out Kagome?" she asked with her slow drawl as she moved back inside the small room she used to sleep in.

"I've told you everything. One moment he was fine… well as fine as Sesshoumaru can be, then the battle was over and he was… different. He barely looked at me. I don't understand it," she shook her head in dejection.

'He doesn't want me anymore.' Kagome's face fell as her mind supplied her with the answer her heart didn't want to hear. Was there something wrong with her that everyone she gave her heart to found a need to throw it back in her face? She knew she had her faults, but she didn't think she was that bad.

"Ye need to talk to him, child. If ye run now, ye will never know. Lord Sesshoumaru is not a demon that trusts easily. He is not the type to play a false hood. If ye want to know the answer, ye must first ask the question."

Kagome began to nod her head in agreement, but stopped mid nod as a thought occurred to her. Why was she the one who had to make things right between them? He was the one who pushed her away, not the other way around! If he had an issue with her, shouldn't he be the one to have to come to her! She slowly worked herself into a fine temper.

"Why do I have to do it?" she huffed as she crossed her arms over her chest. Her eyes glowed, displaying her irritation at the situation. "If he's so mad about something I've done or sad then he should say something!"

"He may be a youkai Kagome, but he is still a male. Sometimes ye, as the woman, must put aside ye own pride first." She shuffled over to stand before the younger woman then gingerly bent down to help Kagome stand. "Do ye love him child?" She waited for the other woman's nod before continuing, "Ye chose to live a different life for him. Will ye not honor that decision and do what ye must to live the life ye want?"

Kagome blinked. How did Kaede know she'd made the choice she did for Sesshoumaru? "I won't force myself on him, Kaede. I love him," her eyes started to water, but she blinked them away as she tried to make the older woman understand, "I love him with everything I am, and I always will, but I can't stay if he doesn't want me. I want him happy, but I'd rather die then watch him go to someone else."

"Ye made a choice Kagome, now ye must live with it," said Kaede with a sad smile. There was a double meaning in her words. "Ye must let him chose now. Tis' his right. Ye can not make the choice for him."

"I'm not trying to choose for him, Kaede," she shook her head in denial.

"If ye meaning to run, ye are."

"I… I… Oh, Kaede," she breathed as she lowered her head to the other woman's shoulder. Kaede and InuYasha were right, she knew, she was running… and it wasn't fare to Sesshoumaru. "Why is it so hard," she breathed quietly to the old woman, not really expecting an answer, just needing to voice the question. "Loving someone shouldn't be this hard."

"Ne, child. Tis' not the loving that is the hard part. Tis' easy to love, but tis not so easy to accept love."

"I want my mom," pouted Kagome.

"Then go to her. Let ye okaa-san heal what hurts, and then ye can return and do what thy must. But, be warned child, tis not as easy to return as it is to leave."

Kagome nodded as she buried her face in the older woman's neck. She wasn't ready to let go, but after a few more moments she lifted her head and took a step away from other woman.

"Thank you, Kaede." She gave her a shaky smile. "I must go."

"Good bye, Kagome," replied Kaede with a pat on Kagome's hand. "And thank you."

Kagome gave her a questioning look.

"Ye helped Kikyou when ye had no cause to. Now my sister can find her peace." At the wide eyed look Kagome gave her she explained. "Ye have ye soul back Kagome. Did ye think I would not notice?"

Kagome gave a sheepish smile and a little of her old spark shined through her eyes. "I didn't want to cause you any pain, Kaede-baba. I figured you'd notice, but I hoped you would not ask because I had nothing good to tell you. Kikyou has gone back, but I don't think she'll be resting for a while."

"Aye, Kagome. My sister must answer for her actions," a grave look came over her face for a moment, than with a deep sigh it was gone. "It's time ye left. The hour grows late and ye have aways to walk still."

"I'll be fine," Kagome assured her with a twinkle in her eyes. She stepped forward for one last hug, "Arigato, again Kaede-baba."

Kaede released the young miko and turned to walk her towards the doorway. She watched as Kagome disappeared around the bend and out of sight. She turned to go back inside when she felt a tingle on the edge of her senses and paused in the doorway. Kaede tried to focus on the aura, but it was gone before she could make heads or tails of it. Obviously the youkai had cloaked their youki before she could detect them sufficiently, but not quickly enough for her not to discern that whoever they were, they were very powerful.

Kaede thought about her guest that had just left and possibly going after her, but after a moment she thought better of it as she had a feeling she knew who the youkai was.

With a grin to herself she continued inside and shut the door behind her. Kaede had a suspicion that the young shikon miko would not be returning home as soon as she hoped.


Kagome trudged forward through the forest, oblivious to her surroundings, as she made her way closer to the well. Her mind was still centered on her talk with Kaede as she wondered if she was doing the right thing or not.

She knew that Kaede had a valid point, that Sesshoumaru had a right to a choice in the matter, but what if he told her no? Kagome didn't know if she could handle that. She was sure she'd rather live her life never knowing then to hear that. Maybe that made her a coward in others eyes, but Kagome could live with that.

And, seriously, why was she the one who had to go after him? She wasn't the one who'd changed their mind. What was wrong with her that everyone who professed to love her didn't want to be with her? Sure, she wasn't a great beauty like Kikyou and yeah she had a bit of a temper, but she didn't think she was that bad. Kagome crossed her arms with a frown as she huffed in annoyance. She kicked a small rock out of her way in a depressing show of temper.

Alright, granted, Sesshoumaru had never actually said he loved her or anything, but he had promised to protect her and she'd figured that meant something. She'd even entertained the thought that it was just his way of not-saying saying what he felt.

'Oh Kami, that even sounded weird in my head,' she criticized with a snort of self disgust.

Kagome knew that he didn't trust easily and she, of all people, was well aware of what he thought about ningens in general, but he'd called her his friend. True, she had no idea what he meant when he said the word 'friend' but, she'd been willing to find out. Besides, friends didn't have… uh… do what they'd done by the lake that night.

Kagome's face flushed as she thought of that night. It seemed like years had passed since that night by the lake, but she remembered it vividly. If she closed her eyes she could still feel the weight of his body on top of hers, the feel of his hand as it roamed her skin, and the glide of his skin against her own. At times, when the memory would come back to her, she imagined she could taste his mouth on hers…

Kagome could feel the heat in her cheeks rising in reaction as she lifted her palms to either side of her face to hide the evidence of her thoughts. She was supremely glad that she was alone at the moment, she could only imagine what InuYasha would say if he'd caught a glimpse of her now.

"Wench, what's wrong with you? Why are you all flushed like that?" Kagome grinned as the hanyou's voice flowed through her mind. She nearly laughed out loud as she imagined his golden eyes narrowed at her in suspicion.

She shook her head to clear her mind then froze in mid-motion when something tickled the edges of her awareness.

She was no longer alone in the forest.

Kagome turned around slowly and looked down the path from which she was walking, but could see nothing out of the ordinary. She looked to either side of her into the surrounding trees, still nothing seemed to stand out or catch her notice.

Yet, something was there, she knew it.

Taking a deep breath Kagome shut her eyes and called on her miko powers. There! A youkai. Just at the edge of her aura she could feel the youkai's youki, but they were to well cloaked for her to pinpoint, much less identify them. Whoever they were they had a very strong youki to be able to hide from her even at such close range.

Kagome sighed to herself and opened her eyes; she gave the forest around her one last curious glance before turning around in the direction she'd been walking.


She'd nearly run into him, he was standing so close! Kagome stared wide eyed at the familiar figure dressed in white. She pressed one trembling hand to her racing heart while the other lay fisted at her side.

"Don't… do that!" she sputtered out in a mixture of shock, fear, and frustration as she raised her other hand and hit him in the armor covering his chest.

Blue eyes stared into gold.

Sesshoumaru watched quietly as he listened to her heartbeat slowly settle into it's normal rhythm. He'd been watching her for awhile and had steadily grown irritated that she wasn't paying attention to where she was at. He could have been anyone!

He'd left InuYasha ranting at the monk and taijiya when he'd set out after the miko. He hadn't planned to go after her, but once he'd started he couldn't turn back. Her trail had been difficult to find and he'd traveled for the first nine hours blindly. A flash of pride had gone through him when he'd recognized how well she'd learned to not only hide her trail, but also her aura. If it wasn't for her scent he'd probably not have caught up to her, then again she'd spent a long time with the old woman back at the village.

She'd completely thrown him off when her scent, heavy with the smell of her tears, had stopped cold in the forest not too far from the well. He'd even moved closer to the well to see if perhaps he'd jut missed it, but he hadn't. From what the scent of her trail was telling him, she hadn't made it to the well. For a moment a sense of dread had gone through him and he'd found himself worrying before he'd caught himself and stopped. He refused to believe something had happened to her, despite the tears he smelled.

When he'd moved back in the direction of where he'd last smelled her scent he'd realized that the smell was overlapping itself before veering off to the right in the direction of the village. That's when he'd noticed another smell mixed in with the soft vanilla and lilac smell of the miko. The other one was more what he was use to smelling from a ningen so he figured she'd run into someone she knew from the village. He'd followed the smell, but kept some distance away so as not to cause any undue panic.

He'd stood in a tall oak tree as he waited for her to come out of the hunt he knew she was in. As he'd waited he'd tried to think of what he'd say when he finally got his hands on her, but all he could think of was strangling the miko for daring to try and leave him.

All his mind kept thinking about was that she'd been crying and he didn't like it. Sesshoumaru still couldn't believe or understand why her feelings and well-being mattered so much to him, but he couldn't deny that they did. For a moment, when his mind had taken him back to what InuYasha had said, he'd wondered if he'd been tricked. Why hadn't the miko left down the well if that was what she'd gone there to do? He'd followed her trail, so he knew she'd come close to the well, but she'd turned away. Why? He could only guess that something had happened to make her turn away from her escape and he thanked whatever Kami that was watching for that small favor. InuYasha had said he wouldn't be able to follow her through the well, and if that were so, he was glad she hadn't left… and now stood in front of him.

Sesshoumaru thoughts came back to her as he focused on her face once more. Slowly he took in her features as his gaze roamed down her face. He took in the bright blue eyes that always gave away what she was feeling and thinking, the small pert nose, the full mouth with their rosy lips that had no problem yelling at him, and the lightly tanned skin that was so smooth to the touch. He remembered the feel of her flesh against his hand and against his own flesh and there was no way he was allowing anyone else, but him, to feel that.

He lifted his eyes back to hers and away from her mouth then. He watched with slight amusement as her cheeks reddened and he could read the slight curiosity behind the embarrassment in her eyes before she lowered her lashes in a small attempt to hide from him. Before realizing its intent, his hand came up to rest lightly against the heated flesh of her cheek.

Kagome had watched him study her and when his eyes had rested on her mouth and stayed she'd felt a tiny jolt run through her and down her spine. She had to fight not to sigh out loud. Why was he there? She was curious to know and was just thinking of asking when his eyes lifted to hers again and she'd lost herself in his gaze. Kagome could feel her face heating up, again, because of that look and when she remembered his earlier study of her face it heated up more. She saw the bit of amusement in his gaze then she lowered her lashes to try and hide her embarrassment.

Kagome jumped from the warmth of his unexpected touch, when his hand landed on her face. Gently she pressed her cheek into hishand before turning to press her lips against the skin of his palm in automatic reaction. Belatedly she realized what she was doing then a wave of shocked embarrassment washed through her. Kagome's faced reddened.

'Kami, I just kissed his hand!' She bent her head as that shocking thought sobered her up. She'd been so happy to feel his touch again, that she'd temporarily forgotten where they were and why they were there… except she didn't know why he was there. Should she dare hope he'd come to stop her from leaving?

Sesshoumaru's eyes roamed to her head. She was so small the top of her head didn't even reach his shoulders. In so many ways she was as fragile to him as his Rin was, yet she had a strength about her that could rival his own. It was what first caught his interest. His fingers rubbed lightly against her flesh as he shifted to grasp her chin. He raised her gaze to his then.


Kagome blinked in confusion at the one word question. "Why what?" before remembering she had a question of her own, "What are you doing here?"

Sesshoumaru's eyes hardened. He saw no reason to waste his time giving obvious answers.

Kagome's fists tighten in annoyance where they rested against her chest when she saw the look in his eyes. Sometimes she just wanted to hit him, he was so frustrating! She'd bet he could make a mother of six pull her hair out. Kagome crossed her arms as she jerked her face out of his grasp, looking away from him to the forest on her left. He made her so mad sometimes; even worse then InuYasha! If he wasn't going to cooperate, neither was she.

"Go away Sesshoumaru. I'm going home," she muttered between her teeth.

Wrong answer. Sesshoumaru saw red.

Later, in hind-sight, she'll realize that it would have been easier to cooperate.

Next thing Kagome knew, she had her back pressed up against the large trunk of a tree, her feet dangling, and Sesshoumaru's hand around her neck. Her eyes widened as she released and audible gasp, before they connected with his.

Kagome blinked. Now her eyes were on a level with his. She could see the anger clouding his eyes as they hid something else. She marveled at his speed and strength.

He couldn't believe she had the audacity to tell him to his face that she was leaving him and for him to just go away! Sesshoumaru didn't care for the painful feeling in his chest that her words had brought on. He lashed out in anger. Did she have no sense of self preservation at all? If she wanted to leave him, she would damn sure tell him why first!

Her hand flew up to wrap gently around the wrist connected to the hand around her neck. Amazingly, she wasn't hurting at all. From the speed with which he moved and the anger he wasn't bothering to hide you would think that her back would be hurting from being slammed against a tree. Truthfully, she'd never been slammed against the tree, but more like placed there. Even the hand around her neck wasn't hurting her and his thumb was rubbing gently back and forth over her pulse point.

She marveled at his control. Even as angry as he was at her he didn't physically hurt her when he very well could have.

"You're hurting me," she lied.

No he wasn't and theyboth knew it. Sesshoumaru had observed her a lot since he started traveling with her and the others. While she had pretty good control or her powers, it wasn't complete control. And she had very little control over the new powers she received recently. He'd long figured out her powers were, mostly, governed by her emotions and if she was in any pain because of him he was quite sure he wouldn't have to be told.

"You lie. Do not." His voice was silky smooth as he regarded her. He watched as her eyes narrowed and he knew what she was going to ask, so he spoke first. "Your powers are connected to your emotions shikon miko. They are your greatest assets."

"What do you mean, my 'greatest assets'?" she asked in confusion.

"Like most, your emotions cloud your judgment," he gave her a meaningful look that he was sure she ignored. "Unlike most though, your emotions also give you courage to do what you would not ordinarily do. Recent events should have shown you this."

She knew that his last words were a hit at her fighting the Obake like she had. Had she to do it all over again, she couldn't say she would have made a different decision. The bakemono had tried to kill him and she knew she wouldn't ever just stand by and let that happen. Understanding that, she still didn't like what he was saying.

"Are you implying I lack common sense?" she asked indignantly.

"No," he replied evenly. "I'm saying you lack common sense."

Kagome gasped. "I do not!"

He lifted a brow as he gave her a skeptical look.

She took offense. "Bastard!" she breathed insultingly.

"No. I know who my father was, as do you. You met his bones."

Eww. She frowned at him then. "That's not what I meant, and you know it!"

He liked watching her. She was so open! He would have laughed if he knew how.

"Besides," she began after a moment, coming back to their original topic, "you would have done the same thing in my place. Don't deny it."

Sesshoumaru released her as he drew back. Would he have reacted the way she did if Inu Yasha were killed before him? A week ago he would not even have asked the question, but now… he wasn't sure. The fact he didn't know annoyed him more. 'Aniki…' he frowned inwardly as Inu Yasha's whisper floated through his head.

Kagome stared at him as he stepped away from her. Was he trying to say he wouldn't have retaliated if someone had tried to stab her in the back? The possibility that he would have done nothing hurt.

"You mean…" she swallowed as tears sprang to her eyes. Kami, she was tired of crying, she thought as she continued, "you wouldn't have… wouldn't have done anything? You wouldn't have cared if someone tried to stab me in the back?"

Now he was confused. His eyes hardened at the smell of her tears. What did she mean try? InuYasha was stabbed, but the only reason the hanyou was stabbed in the back was because of the way he turned in a foolish move to protect him. Sesshoumaru still didn't know why he did that nor did he like thinking about it.

He waited quietly for her to explain.

Kagome stared at him, waiting patiently (or what she assumed was patiently) for him to tell her she was wrong. As the silence grew between them the pressure in her chest grew to an overwhelming degree. For a moment she couldn't speak, she could barely breathe, as she tried to come to terms what his silence was telling her. He really didn't care…

She couldn't believe what she was hearing… well seeing! How could he… Why would he do this… after they'd… and she'd… How dare he! Kagome eyes narrowed as the tears streamed down her face. She'd never been so angry in her life.

Sesshoumaru stood fascinated as listened to the erratic beat of her heart. He could sense both her pain and anger as he watched her eyes begin to water and streak down her face. For the third time in his life he didn't know what to do. He didn't like being at a loss and he was well aware that two of the three times he felt this way had to do with the miko in front of him.

Sesshoumaru blinked when her leaking eyes began to glow bright with a fuscia light as she stalked towards him.


She stopped in huff, chest heaving and her cheeks flushed. Her eyes were wide as they stared into his. Emotions flitted across her face, like that of a picture show before she averted her eyes and looked away as she whispered, "I can't just stop loving you like that."

Silence fell between them.

Kagome crossed her arms over her chest in a small attempt to protect herself the only way she could think of. A chill ran down her spine as she stared at the forest floor beneath her feet. Her nerves were shot as she fought not to look at him. She knew if she did her tears would start again and she didn't want that. She didn't want him to think her weak, but it wasn't easy. His silence was killing her better then any of the Fours Souls could have.

He'd showed no reaction to her confession. Nothing. She knew because she'd looked for one before she'd lost her nerve and looked away. Kagome had never felt as alone as she did at that moment. It hurt to have the one thing you wanted most in the world right in arm's reach and know you can't have it. She would have given anything for him to wrap his arms around her like he'd done so many times before.

She loved him. He'd kept a blank look on his face as she'd hit and screamed at him. It had taken all of his will power to remain that way when he'd realized what she was saying. Sesshoumaru wasn't going to deny that he'd doubted her. He'd seen her with InuYasha and he'd heard what she said and it had torn at something inside him that he hadn't known was there. He cared for her, that was true, but he wasn't prepared to admit just how much he cared. Did he love her? Honestly, he knew he did, but he also knew he didn't want to. Loving someone was giving them power over you. His father and InuYasha were proof of that. He'd always worked hard at making sure it didn't happen to him. Could he live knowing she had that kind of power over him? He wouldn't allow it.

And she was a ningen. His father had fallen for a ningen and it had killed him. InuYasha had loved a ningen and it nearly killed him as well. Part of the reason he kept away from the inferior creatures was because of his family history with them. Sesshoumaru knew his appeal and every demon he'd ever heard of who cared more then necessary about a human and tried to place them where they didn't belong ended up paying for it. He didn't want that for Kagome.

Sesshoumaru wasn't afraid and he knew they were both more then able to take care of themselves, but he was Lord of the Western Lands. He was Taiyoukai over the largest of the four lands. Placing a ningen, even the shikon miko, by his side would cause ramifications that he had never faced before. If he mated her… and that's what he would do if he kept her… she would have to prove herself worthy of the title; and not to him.

He wanted her. He wouldn't have come after her if he didn't. She belonged to him and he had no intentions of letting her go, but before he could tell her she was staying there was something he needed to know first.

"Why couldn't you just let me go home?" she asked quietly, refusing to look at him.

Sesshoumaru's eyes hardened. He didn't like her talking about leaving. "You are mine," he said in answer.

She looked up at him then, eyes dull yet steady. "Am I?"

He didn't like the look in her eyes. He really didn't like knowing he had put it there. "You know you are."

She released a self-deprecating laugh. "I once thought so… but now…" she shook her head and looked away.

It was as if she had no will left. He moved towards her and stopped a few paces away. "You promised."

Confusion shined in her eyes for a moment as she looked up, but it was gone a moment later as she shook her head and looked back down.

"I promised you nothing." 'But, he'd promised me.' He'd promised to protect her, but instead he was hurting her the most.

"No. InuYasha," he tried to keep his voice neutral.

Kagome blinked. She turned backed towards him. He was not about to use her promise to InuYasha against her!

"Yes," a spark of irritation showed in her blue depths.

He saw the reaction and had to admit to himself he was glad to see it. "What?"

"What?" she asked in confusion. Couldn't he string together more then three words, just once! "I don't understand."

Sesshoumaru didn't like having to repeat himself, but indulged her this time with a regal lift of his brow. "What did you promise?"

"What does it matter?" she asked in annoyance, she just wanted to go home. At the hardening of his eyes she knew he wasn't going to let it go. She rolled her eyes.

"To stay with him," she said as she pressed two fingers against her temples, "I promised to stay with him by his side. People always left him." She looked directly into his eyes then, "You did. I promised I wouldn't no matter what."

"A team…" he breathed quietly, understanding finally. "Yet, you are."

She knew what he was getting at and she wouldn't allow him to make her feel anymore guilty then she already did. "I told him I'd be back."

"So, you did," his voice was flat. He didn't know that; the hanyou hadn't said. Still, he doubted she would be back if she left. Not that she was leaving.

She eyed him, but said nothing. Kagome just remained quiet as she waited for the interrogation to end so she could go.

"Good thing you are not going anywhere."

"Excuse me?" she narrowed her eyes.

He lifted a brow as if to inquire about her hearing. She could almost hear the scathing words being delivered in a refined way.

"Right. And next you'll say you love me," she said derisively. Her eyes hardened as a little life came back to them. "I'll go where I please."

"No, you won't," he replied, moving closer.

"You can't stop me!" she challenged, stepping closer and closing the distance between them.

Sesshoumaru stared hard at her upturned face, trying hard to smoother her will beneath his own. When he realized that wasn't working he decided to rely on brute force. In a swift move he grabbed her beneath her arms and had her back pressed tight against the trunk of the tree, feet dangling again, but this time instead of his hand wrapped around her neck he had the length oh her body pressed snug against his own to hold her in place.

Kagome gasped. She'd fallen for it again!

Sesshoumaru studied her face before his eyes fell to her mouth. He almost groaned aloud when the tip of her tongue darted out to swipe across her bottom lip. Narrowing his eyes, he darted his head down and claimed her mouth.

Following her lead, he licked his tongue across her lower lip then immediately darted inside when she gasped. He swept his tongue firmly across her own as he explored the cavern of her mouth. He leaned in further as he devoured her.

Kagome's knees watered as shock waves ran through her and down her spine. Her fingers tightened spasmodically around the fabric of his clothing covering his shoulders. She sighed as she gave herself up to the intoxicating feel of his mouth on hers.

He sucked earnestly on her bottom lip then taking one last sweep around her mouth he pulled back. He loved the taste of her mouth.

Kagome's eyes darted back and forth as she took in every aspect of his face. He really was the most beautiful creature she'd ever seen, she admitted to herself. Finally, she looked into his eyes as she tried to figure out why he just did that. For a moment she thought she'd seen something, but it was gone too fast.

"Sesshoumaru?" she finally asked with a confused look.

Sesshoumaru's eyes softened as he allowed her to see what she was looking for. He hoped he wouldn't come to regret the decision.

Kagome stared into his eyes and gasped as the golden orbs seemed to melt like molten lava. She could see the pain in his depths along with his concern. Kagome blinked as the tenderness she longed to see shined into her eyes. She sucked in a breath as her search showed her something she never thought she'd see in his eyes.

Her eyes watered against her will as she pressed a shaking palm to the smooth skin of his cheek. "Sesshoumaru…" she breathed as the tears flowed. He loved her… It was right there in his eyes.

He answered her the only way he knew how.

Slowly, with her hand pressed against his face, he moved in to catch her tears with his lips. He gently dragged his lips up her left cheek along the tear track then moved to the right. After he had cleaned her tears he dragged his lips to press softly against her swollen ones. He nipped gently at her flesh as he slowly slid his tongue along her top lip. When her mouth opened for him he gently and slowly slid inside as he slanted his mouth over hers. He kissed her thoroughly as his tongue left no part of her mouth untouched.

Kagome had never felt anything better. Kami, he was a good kisser! She shuddered involuntarily when he sucked gently on her tongue as she ventured into his mouth. Her stomach fluttered in reaction. Kagome's heart sighed as she melted against him. She wrapped her arms around his neck as she buried her fingers into his silky hair.

Her lungs were beginning to burn after a few more minutes when, with a gentle nip of his teeth to the corner of her mouth, he pulled back.

Her breathing was heavy as she stared at him. Her eyes were glowing bright with happiness. "You do love me…" she breathed.

Sesshoumaru said nothing as he regarded her; his mask back in place.

She wanted desperately to hear him say it, but she saw that his mask was back on and she knew she wouldn't be getting her way. Something in his eyes told her all she needed to know as the light faded to a soft hum in her eyes.

Kagome knew him well. She knew that to a youkai like Sesshoumaru pride and power were very important. She also knew that Sesshoumaru thought emotions were a weakness… and love the weakest of them all. While he understood that love could also be an asset, a youkai like him would view the saying of such words as 'I love you' as a sign of power. A way of handing over power; which he would never do.

Kagome knew then that to be with him was to know what you had, but never expect to hear it. Still, she hoped that maybe one day she'd get to hear the words from him just once.

"Ask me to stay," she said quietly; she'd settle for that.

Sesshoumaru looked at her for a moment. He could read the hope in her eyes. "You'll stay."

'Close enough,' she thought with a grimace. She'd take it as a request.

"I'll stay," she grinned then pulled his face to hers by his hair.

Heatedly, she kissed him. Swiping her tongue over his mouth, she tentatively moved inside when he allowed her in. Slowly she kissed him as he did her; thoroughly and with skill.

Sesshoumaru was impressed how quickly she learned and decided to allow her to keep the lead a bit longer. When she sucked on his tongue inside his mouth and gently drew him into hers, he gave a feral growl and quickly changed his mind. He immediately took over the lead as he wrapped his arms tightly around her, causing her front to arch up against him.

Kagome hissed and jerked back in pain, breaking the kiss, when her chest came into contact with his. She looked down in curiosity. The spikes of his armor had dug firmly into the soft flesh of her breast she realized and hit the armor in retaliation.

"Ow!" she exclaimed. She looked back up at him, "Take it of-" She was cut off by his mouth as he swooped back in.

Kagome sighed and pulled him in as she arched towards him, trying to get closer to him. Kagome jumped when the armor pierced her again. She tried to pull away from the kiss again.

"Sesshou-" Once again, she was cut off as she heard him growl and deepen the kiss. A jolt went down her spine following the slide of his hand as she tried half heartedly to get away from his armor. She trembled as his hand cupped her backside and pulled her closer. On a subconscious level she realized there was nothing hindering her getting closer, but as her mind turned to mush she willingly placed herself in his capable hands.


(Scene censored for site and rating purposes. For NC-17 version refer to MM . org or my livejournal. You can find livejournal link on my bio)

Kagome shuddered as she felt him suck sharply on the pulse point on the left side of her neck, before firmly drawing the pad of his tongue across the sensitive spot. Somewhere in her mind she was aware of herself being lowered on to a cushioned surface, but the thought was pushed out of her mind as his lips moved further down her neck.

She arched upwards when his tongue slowly explored the hollow of her throat sending sparks up and down her body. Kagome's pulse quickened as he placed an open mouth kiss on her collarbone. Kagome sighed in pleasure as her skin tingled with every touch.

Lazily, Sesshoumaru moved down her body as he sucked, nipped and gently grazed her skin. Gently he rubbed his palm across the peak of her breast as he pressed his face within the valley between her soft mounds. Kagome groaned as she arched up towards him. He inhaled her scent as he sensed her arousal rising.

Shemelted in the heat of his love as she succombed to the feelings he awoke within her. Kagome imagined herself drowning as she reached her completion within his embrace.

Her body tensed as she went over the edge. Just as she crested over the first wave he sank his fangs partially into her neck, using the poison in his teeth he etched his mark into flesh and blood, then lapped up the small amount of blood and soothed the pain with his tongue.

Kagome winced involuntarily from the pain she wasn't cosciously aware of.

"Mine," he growled.

With the taste of her blood in his mouth and the feel of her body clenching around him, he slammed into her one last time as he found his own release within her.

Kagome panted hard as her body slowly came down from its high. She gave a slight moan of protest when he withdrew from her and slid sideways, but only snuggled closer when he pulled her onto her side.

As he settled onto his back she rested her head on his chest and lifted a tentative hand to her neck. She winced as her finger grazed over the new cuts.

"What did you do?" she asked as she settled more fully against him.

"Mark," he growled. His blood was still raging, "Mine now."

"Yours," she yawned, her eyes growing heavy as she tried to get even closer to his heat, "Cold." She smiled when a moment later something warm and heavy was placed over her.

"Where are we?" she asked with another yawn.

Sesshoumaru looked down at the sleepy woman snuggled closely against him, then wrapped a arm around her and held her to him. "Home."

Kagome smiled as her dreams finally won the battle and her eyes shut. "Home…"

Sesshoumaru heard her whisper as he stared out the window at the full moon.


Sesshoumaru lay calmly as he eyed the woman draped across his chest and stomach. He watched as she continued to sleep peacefully, unbeknowst of the close study she was under. The sun had risen nearly two hours ago, and he, not long after it. She lay on her front with her head over his heart and her faced turned towards him still deep in slumber and, apparently, very comfortable. He couldn't deny that he liked having her close against him. Her skin was smooth and warm and she was soft and round in all the right places.

Her hair was draped over both of them, hiding the flesh of her back from his gaze. Her skin had a light golden hue to it, as if it had been dusted with sunlight. She wasn't tan, but she was not pale either. Sesshoumaru had enjoyed exploring her body and looked forward to doing it again… many times.

She had been so responsive to his touch; he'd reveled in the feeling of power it had given him. For a moment, he'd started doing things to her just to see how loud of a moan he could get out of her. When he'd had her back up against that tree he'd been shocked at her eagerness. He'd thought she'd have been too shy to allow him to do what he was doing to her out in the open like they were, but it seemed the only thing that had bothered her was his armor.

Sesshoumaru had firmly pulled her against his arousal then and she'd melted against him like lava. He'd quickly called on his energy orb and after surrounding them both in it, he'd removed his chest armor and flew them to his home.

He was completely positive Kagome had been oblivious to the ride.

He'd entered his home through his bedroom window and had immediately continued what he'd begun back in the forest. Once Seshoumaru had removed Kagome's clothes he'd been able to feast his eyes on her bare flesh. She was beautiful. Sesshoumaru had never believed he would ever utter, much less think, such a thing about a ningen, but her beauty was undeniable.

Immediately, he'd proceeded to thoroughly touch, taste and smell every inch of her. He'd gently (and sometimes not so gently) rubbed, squeezed, licked, nibbled, and grazed his way across her body as she'd whimpered and moaned in reaction.

When she had wrapped her swollen lips around his nipple, mimicking what he'd done to her, he'd nearly lost control at the feel of her mouth against his skin. It had taken nearly all of his control not to let the beast in him take over. Sesshoumaru hadn't imagined she would affect him that way. Their first time had been too much of a new experience for him to loose control. Mistakenly, he'd believed this next time wasn't going to be any different.

He'd never been so happy when he'd gritted his teeth and sank slowly into her. She'd moaned deeply as she'd arched her back and took him willingly. If he didn't know he loved her already he surely would have given up the fight then. There was no way he would let go of the sheer intoxication he'd felt being joined with her.

And he wasn't going to allow anyone else to experience it either.

Next thing he knew he was sinking the tips of his fangs into her neck and using the acid that was only meant for marking (in his humanoid form) on her; physically claiming her as his alone.

Sesshoumaru knew once she realized what the marking was all about she was going to be pissed. While he was sure Kagome wanted to be his mate, he had a feeling she wasn't going to like how he'd gone about doing it.

He slowly moved some of her hair aside, baring her right shoulder and part of her neck, gently he swept a fingertip across the wounded flesh. He watched intently as she flinched and dug her nails into the firm flesh of his side, yet still remaining asleep. She would be sore to the touch for a few days more, which is why he'd licked over the scars after making them; the healing attributes native to his kind would protect her from most of the pain and any infections. Shortly the markings would change color and come to look just like the two slashes on his face.

Speaking of markings…

Pushing the hair from her forehead, Sesshoumaru almost grinned when he saw the marking on her forehead; a miniature of his blue crescent moon. Apparently, his blood found something within her worthy of being the Lady of the Western Lands; the moon would not have appeared otherwise. It would seem the miko had cleared one problem and she wasn't even awake to appreciate it.

Sesshoumaru gracefully slid from beneath her and got out of bed. He moved across the room to his wardrobe. He took out his clothing then moved towards his bathing room. He quickly washed and dressed then, after taking one last look at the woman in his bed, he exited the room. He needed to check over his lands, he'd been gone quite awhile, and there were other things he had to see to and he figured from the sound of her breathing that Kagome would be sleep for at least a couple more hours.


Once again, Kagome woke to find herself lying on a cushion, but unsure of where she was beyond the bed she was in. Slowly memories of the night before came to her as she realized she was lying in bed naked. She blushed in embarrassment as she pulled the blanket closer around her.

Kagome rolled on to her back as she blinked open her eyes. She rubbed the sleep out of them as she reached out a arm to her side. She looked around when she realized she was alone.

Where was Sesshoumaru? Did he just leave her there?

And where was there? Sitting up she looked around herself more thoroughly. She was in a bedroom. A very large and richly furnished bedroom. There was a large wardrobe situated against the wall opposite the bed. It was made out of a light colored a wood and what looked to be white marble to her, but she couldn't be sure. Beside the bed to her right sat a small nightstand with one drawer made of the same wood as the wardrobe. There was a large bay window in the right wall that had a large enough ledge for someone to stand on comfortably, she noted. In the corner, where the right and rear walls connected, stood a large shoji screen decorated with red, green and gold threading in the shape of trees on the top of Mt. Fuji. To the left there was another nightstand, same as the other; and on the wall hung a large tapestry with a large white dog staring up at a huge yellow moon stitched into it.

Gingerly she wrapped the thick blanket around her as she scooted to the right side of the bed and threw her legs over the side. She realized that the large bed sat nearly four feet off the floor by a large block of wood that the large cushions rested on.

Kagome pushed herself off the bed, taking the covers with her, and after shifting the blanket so that she was covered sufficiently she moved towards the door. Stopping at the wardrobe she took a peak inside to see that it was full of men's kimonos… mostly in the same style as she always saw Sesshoumaru wear; white with the red flowers along the collar and shoulder.

She didn't bother looking further, if she didn't know where she was by now, the closet was a dead a give away.

Kagome proceeded towards the door. She shifted the blanket around herself then cautiously slid the door open. She had only taken three steps when she sensed a presence behind her. Spinning around, her eyes fell on the one she was meaning to go look for.

Sesshoumaru calmly took in the state she was in, then bringing his eyes back to hers, lifted a brow. He knew she had no idea what she looked like with her hair tousled and hanging loose to her waist and obviously wearing nothing but the blanket. There was no way he was allowing anyone else to see her like that.

"I couldn't find my clothes," replied Kagome with a deep blush.

He watched her blush. It amazed him she could still be embarrassed and seem so innocent after what they did last night. When her blush deepened he felt the urge to smirk in a self-satisfied manner.

Instead he nodded and gestured for her to follow him.

Kagome walked awkwardly, trying to hold onto the cumbersome blanket, as he lead her down the hall in the opposite direction she'd been headed. She followed him quietly into a room not to far away on the right.

Her eyes widened as she realized it was a small, but elegant bathing room. She looked around and immediately fell in love. It was decorated in a lovely shade of lilac and cream. Kagome smiled from ear to ear as her eyes fell on the heating pool in the middle of the floor.

"You will use this room to bathe and change," he informed her.

Kagome nodded distractedly. Not really listening to him.

"There is clothing laid out on the bench for you to wear," he said watching her closely. When she gave him another absent nod he knew she wasn't paying him any attention.

He moved over to her and, grabbing her chin, tilted her face to his. Sesshoumaru lowered his mouth to hers, leisurely he deepened the kiss. When she sighed and melted against him he pulled back.

Now he had her attention.

"Bathe and change," he told her quietly.

He watched as her eyes focused and waited for her to get control of herself. When she nodded he released her and left.

"Where will you be?" she asked as he walked away.

"I shall return shortly. There is something I must do," he replied as he exited.

Kagome stood watching after him for a moment then, turning back to the water, grinned and dropped the blanket.


They had guests.

Sesshoumaru had to admit they'd gotten there sooner then he thought they would. He could tell the others had been yelling at the hanyou from the way InuYasha stood with his arms crossed; obviously frustrated.

They all wanted to know what had happened and whether Kagome had gone home. He figured it would have been nicer of him to at least tell them she hadn't left, but really they should know that he would not have allowed that. Sesshoumaru had found the looks on their faces amusing when he'd only told them that he'd be right back and left Jaken to show them in. The taijiya looked ready to rip his head off… and everyone else's.

Sesshoumaru figured he'd leave Kagome's friends to her. He was now on his way to see if she was finished dressing so he could show her around the castle and bring her to her friends.

He'd left her over a half an hour ago in her bathing room. He figured that was plenty of time for her to have finished bathing and dressed, but when he walked into their bedroom he had to stop and stare at the sight before him.

She sat on the end of the bed, wrapped in the blanket, and the kimono from the bathroom lying beside her.

"I was debating if I should go find you," she said in greeting.

"You are not dressed."

"I know. That was the problem. I gathered from earlier you wouldn't want me walking around like this," she blushed but didn't look away.

Sesshoumaru eyed the kimono then looked back at her. The question was obvious as he waited.

Kagome looked down at the kimono. It was very beautiful. The rich fabric was ice blue with large white roses stitched on the right shoulder and along the bottom left side. She guessed it was made of silk, the fabric was so soft.

Too bad she didn't much like wearing kimonos.

"It's very beautiful," she said, rubbing a hand across the clothing. "But, I don't wear kimonos."

He arched a brow. What did she wear, if not kimonos? He would not have his mate wearing that too short kimono that showed too much of her skin like she usually did. Besides, what was wrong with the kimono?

She saw the look on his face and sighed. She knew what he wanted to know. "I can't walk in them," she tried not to feel embarrassed by the admission.

After a moment he nodded. Moving over towards the wardrobe, he pulled out one of his own kimonos then, and shut the doors once more. He went back to the doorway and made a gesture with his hand, a moment later a servant appeared.

Kagome watched curiously as he spoke quietly to the servant and then shut the door.

Sesshoumaru moved over to her and handed her his kimono.

Quietly she took the item from him and stood. She dropped the blanket back on the bed then pulled her arms through the kimono, putting it on and pulling it closed.

Kagome looked down at her self then.

She giggled. The sleeves were at least five inches too long and the hem fell well past her knees. She was still smiling a moment later when there was a scratching at the door.

Sesshoumaru moved to the door and took the item from the servant waiting there. He said a few words then closed the door and returned to stand in front of Kagome.

Kagome took the item he handed her with one hand as she used the other to hold the shirt closed. She discovered the items were a pair of white hakamas and an obi; similar to the type that mikos wore.

"Where are my clothes?" she asked as she sat to put the hakamas on.

"Being cleaned."

She nodded then stood to pull the pants up. She was surprised to see that they weren't too large and fit her perfectly. She pulled the shirt tighter then wrapped the obi around her. She turned around, showing him her back, silently asking for his assistance.

Sesshoumaru eyed the back of her for a moment. He gave a small frown at the task then reached forward to brush her hair aside to do as she silently asked.

After a few moments, when he released her, she turned and tilting her head back, smiled.

"Thank you."

He nodded.

Kagome stared up at him as she gathered her courage to ask him what she'd wanted to ask since last night. Taking a deep breath, she squared her shoulders. "Are you going to marry me?"

Sesshoumaru gave her a look as he thought about what she was asking. The word was familiar to him, but he wasn't sure he understood its meaning. He figured he would just have to ask.

"Marry you?"

"Yes," she answered with a tilt of her head. "You know if I'm staying with you you'll have to marry me." When he still looked confused she tried again. "You know; a wedding?" She tried to think what her text books called it in the past. "A binding ceremony?"

Oh. Now, he understood. He'd seen ningens perform such ceremonies when a man claimed a woman as his own. Youkai did not, traditionally, have such ceremonies, but they did bind themselves with mating rituals. The rituals were time consuming and unnecessary in his opinion. The only important part was the beginning when the two involved stated their intentions and the end when the male marked the female as his. The marking was not only a mark of possession but it also mixed the males scent with the females, so that any male youkai wanting to claim her would know they were too late.

And Sesshoumaru had marked Kagome as his last night.

Calmly he took her hand and pulled her with him behind the shoji screen in the corner.

Kagome was surprised to see the screen hid an opening in the wall. She didn't realize it was there the first time she looked around the room. She was even more surprised to see that beyond the doorway was another bathing room. This one was much larger then the other, having two watering holes, and done in white and navy blue.

One pool held cold water and the other held hot, she guessed since only one of them had huge amounts of steam coming from it. There were two benches along the back walls covered in cushions and another shoji screen covering part of the left wall.

Despite its size the room was very warm. Kagome wondered why she wasn't brought here to bathe. She put the question to him.

"Do you swim?" he asked her in response.

"A little," she frowned and turned to look at the water again. Could the pools be that deep?

He gave her skeptical look. There was no such thing as a little; either you can or you can't. "You will only bathe here in my presence. Other times, you use your bath room."

"My…" she turned disbelieving eyes on him, "that other room is mine?"

"Yes. You are the Lady of the Western Lands Kagome," he said, as if that explained everything. And actually it did.

Her eyes widened as he pulled her over to the pool with the cold water and indicated for her to look down. Kagome stared down at her reflection, searchingly, as she tried to see what he was getting at.

Sesshoumaru quietly swept her hair out of the way, baring the right side of her neck. He pulled the collar of his kimono down as she tilted her to the left to help him.

Kagome blinked at the two maroon slashes, very much like the ones on Sesshoumaru's face, on the junction of her neck and shoulder. So, that's what he meant by "mark" last night.

"We are… married," he decided to use her word.

Kagome's head swiveled to look at him when something in her reflection made her look back. She stared at herself for a moment as she blew her hair out of her face. Then she saw it.

There was a small blue moon sitting low in the middle of her forehead.

Kagome rubbed her fingers over the moon as she blinked at herself in the pool. She turned to him then.

"We're married? Just like that? No ceremony?" she asked, fingers still on her forehead.

"Yes," he replied. He pulled her hand away from her forehead, "just like that."

Sesshoumaru saw no reason to tell her about the rituals he left out.

"What if I didn't want to marry you?" she asked in annoyance. She frowned when his eyes hardened. "I'm not saying I didn't want to. I'm just saying you didn't even ask me!"

"Ask you?"

"Yes, ask me."

He didn't see any reason why he should have asked her anything. She was his. It was only right that he mark her. In fact, he had honored her by doing so. He could have not done it and let her deal with the consequences of being unclaimed, yet not untouched.

Sesshoumaru turned to walk away from her. He would not have this argument. She should be thanking him, not gearing up to fight him like she was now.

"I want a ceremony, Sesshoumaru!" she called after him as she followed. "And I want a priest or someone to perform it!"

He continued walking.

This wasn't fair! She'd dreamed of her wedding since she was a little girl. She'd be marrying a man who loved her and have her family and friends there to see it. A priest would give them their vows and Kagome would be decked out in a beautiful dress. It was bad enough her family wasn't there and it wouldn't be anything like her dreams, but now her stupid brute of a… husband wouldn't let her have her ceremony!

Kagome felt like stomping her feet childishly. Tears sprang to her eyes as she stopped near the bed. Subconsciously she noted the bed had been made, the comforter covering it and the blue and white kimono missing, while they had been in the bathing area.

"Sesshoumaru please," she pleaded, tears in her voice.

Sesshoumaru paused in the doorway when she echoed the words she said to him last night. He turned to see the tears in her bright blue orbs as he regarded her.

Kagome stared back at him for a moment then quietly move over to him, burying her face in his chest. "Please," she whispered.

It obviously meant a lot to her to have her ceremony. He'd have to think of something, but there was no way he was going through the rituals that were custom to youkai.

There were three different mating rituals for youkai, and while they were not required, they were preferred. You only had to perform one of the rituals, but you chose which ritual by the strength of the female youkai's (since traditionally the female was considered the weaker half) youki. If the female was of a low grade then the mating only consisted of a dance, consummation, and an exchange of blood. A mark would appear on the female within two weeks. If the female was of an average to high grade, then the ritual consisted of blood given, consummation, and then a poison marking like he'd done to Kagome, but without the aide of the male's healing. Lastly, if the female was of a high grade or more she was naturally mating a male who was also of a very high grade and coveted by other female youkai. First, she would have to fight, in battle, at least three of the rival females for her right to the male, then, provided she won her battles, she would have to go through a blood exhange, next a consummation and a blood oath, and last a poison marking. This ritual usually took three days. And while Kagome wasn't a youkai she would still have been subject to go through one of the rituals, and from what he witnessed between her and the Obake, Sesshoumaru had no doubt Kagome would have to go through the last ritual. Sesshoumaru was also positive she'd probably have to fight more then three females, and while he knew she would win (his chosen mate would not lose), he did not want to wait three or more days to have her.

Not an option.

He would look into the ningen… wedding later. Right now they needed to get back to the others. He was surprised InuYasha hadn't come looking for him.

Sesshoumaru lifted a hand to her chin and tilted her face up. "Come."

She saw the resignation in his eyes and figured he'd decided to handle the ceremony thing. "Where?" she asked.

"InuYasha and the others are here."

Kagome eyes widened as a big smile crossed her face. Her friends had come after her! She nodded happily at him and followed him out the room.


"InuYasha? Where's Kagome?" asked Shippou. He and Rin had been told that InuYasha and the others were there by Jaken a few minutes ago and he and Rin had gone running.

Rin hadn't been as excited as he was though. She'd continued to ask Jaken whether 'Sesshoumaru-sama' had returned, but the little toad hadn't bothered to answer her questions.

They had both been worried ever since Sesshoumaru had sent them back to the castle with Ah-un and Jaken. Rin hadn't seemed as concerned as he was in the beginning, saying that her Sesshoumaru-sama always left her with Jaken, but the taiyoukai always came back for her. Shippou hadn't been that confident. As days had passed and there'd been no sign of them coming back, Rin had begun to worry.

So, they were both relieved when they'd come running into the sitting room to see Miroku, Sango, InuYasha and Myouga there waiting.

Shippou and Rin had both noticed the absence of the miko and the taiyoukai.

Everybody's eyes turned to InuYasha when Shippou had asked his question.

InuYasha eyed the pup and sighed. His eyes fell on the little girl sitting on the floor by Sango's feet and could almost smell the sadness coming off the child in waves. What was he supposed to say to them? He had no idea what happened between Sesshoumaru and Kagome. How was he supposed to know whether she'd gone home or not? He wouldn't have thought Sesshoumaru would have let her leave after he'd gone through the trouble of going after her, but while they had seen Sesshoumaru, even talked to him, they hadn't seen any signs of their friend.

"Feh!" the whole damn thing was irritating him.

Shippou jumped onto Inu Yasha's lap then, blue eyes huge and worried. "InuYasha?"

He sighed. "I'm not sure Shippou," he replied as he patted the kitsune's head.

"Oh." Shippou lowered his head as he curled up on InuYasha; sticking his face against the hanyou's stomach.

"Is Kagome-chan with Sesshoumaru-sama?" asked Rin quietly. Liquid brown eyes stared into identical ones.

Sango looked confusedly at the little girl before exchanging curious looks with the others. "Rin-chan…" she began tentatively, "haven't you seen Sesshoumaru-sama already?"

Rin shook her head.

"Oh…" she said curiously. "Well, he should be joining us soon."

"Sesshoumaru-sama's home?" she asked, hope shining in her eyes.

"Yes, he's home Rin."

Rin gave a hugely bright smile then. "Oh. That's good! Sesshoumaru-sama will know where Kagome-chan is! Where is he?"

Sango opened her mouth to answer, but nothing came out. She had no idea where Sesshoumaru had gone. All he said is that he'd be back shortly, but that was almost an hour ago.

Sango shook her head to let the child know she didn't know where the taiyoukai was, but was interrupted.

"I'm here Rin."

Rin eyes widened as they fell on Sesshoumaru standing in the door. Kagome stood beside him smiling.

"SESSHOUMARU-SAMA!" screamed Rin as she shot over to him. She immediately wrapped herself around his leg. "Oh, how I've missed you, Sesshoumaru-sama!"

"Rin," he placed a hand on her head. He'd thought of her while he was gone.

"Kagome…" a tentative voice spoke up then.

"Hello, Shippou-chan," smiled Kagome.

Shippou bounded off of InuYasha and across the room. "KAGOME!" He buried his face against her chest as he jumped into her arms. "I thought you were dead, Kagome."

"No, I'm not dead," she smiled softly as she hugged the kitsune to her.

"You smell different," he said as he looked up at her then. His eyes were watery. "You look different, too. I like it."

"Thank you, Shippou-chan." She felt a small tugging on her pants leg and looked down into huge brown eyes. "Hello Rin-chan. How are you?"

"Hello," she smiled. "I'm fine, Kagome-chan. I told them Sesshoumaru-sama would find you."

"Did you now," she smiled and looked up at the others finally. Three pair of eyes stared back at her, tears shining in all of them. "Hi, guys!"

Sango stood slowly then ran over to her friend. "Kagome-nee-chan," she hugged the other girl tightly. "I thought I'd never see you again."

Kagome hugged her friend back before smiling at the other two over Sango's shoulder.

InuYasha came forward and after waiting for Sango to release her took Kagome in his arms as well.

Sesshoumaru frowned, but kept quiet.

"Hi, InuYasha," she smiled at him as she hugged him back.

InuYasha could smell Sesshoumaru on her and could see the crescent moon on her forehead. He knew that meant they were mated and he was happy for her.

"It's good to see you, Lady Kagome," said Miroku, keeping his distance. He'd seen the look on Sesshoumaru's face when InuYasha had hugged her. No way, was he moving any closer.

Kagome saw the look on Miroku's face as the houshi had looked at Sesshoumaru. With the monk's liking for touching girls in places he shouldn't, she could imagine the look in her mate's eyes.

"Hi, Miroku," giggled Kagome as she pulled the monk into a hug.

"We're glad you stayed Kagome," smiled Miroku as he pulled back.

Everyone started talking then. Kagome hadn't left and everything was going to be alright.



It had been two weeks since she'd married, mated… whatever, her husband. With Kaede-baba's help they'd found a holy man to perform the ceremony.

Kagome had been so happy she'd cried before and after the ceremony. She'd worn a white kimono with large pink flowers stitched to the fabric. Kaede had sown it especially for her. The older miko had cut slits into the side of the kimono about six inches high so she was able to move in it without falling on her face. Kagome had learned to, some what, control her habit of turning any clothing she wore fuscia or black. It only lasted for a few hours before the fabric would end up changed, but she'd been able to get out of her wedding dress before it had been changed. For some reason only Sesshoumaru's clothing never changed on when she wore them.

The ceremony had been nice and had gone without a hitch. Sesshoumaru had stood quietly beside her and did what he was supposed to. When the priest had asked if Sesshoumaru promised to love her unconditionally, to cherish and protect her for the rest of her life Sesshoumaru had turned and looked at her and said, "You belong to this Sesshoumaru. I will protect you."

And that was that. He'd faced forward once more. If she didn't believe he loved her she would have cried.

But even with Sesshoumaru's… promise, such as it was, that was not the part of the day that she knew all the guests and the priest would remember most.

Kagome had had this need to call the holy man Father, even though Kaede had explained to her on two occasions that the holy man, while very similar to a priest, was not a priest and therefore, had no need to be called Father. And that is where the problem had started…

…"Now, Lady Kagome," began the holy man.

"Yes, Father?" said Kagome with a smile.

"Now, child, I'm not a Fa-"

"YES YOU ARE!" yelled Kagome, eyes beginning to water.

Startled, the holy man looked to Sesshoumaru, but after seeing he was getting no help there, he cleared his throat and continued, "Right, yes… Well um, let's continue shall we?"

"Of course, Father," she smiled.

"Lady Kagome, do you solemnly swear to respect, honor and obey your husband in all things? To love, cherish and protect him for the rest of your days? To support him in good times and in bad?"

Kagome frowned, "Yes." She had a lot to promise, she thought to herself.

Sesshoumaru slanted her a skeptical look, but said nothing.

All of a sudden Kagome heard laughter coming from behind them and turned to see who it was, though she had her suspicions. Honestly, she was surprised all he was doing was laughing.


At that moment Kagome would have given anything for the prayer beads to still be around the hanyou's neck.

InuYasha was laughing like a loon while Miroku sat beside him with a huge grin across his face. Sango, who was sitting beside the monk in a lovely kimono, had a very odd look on her face as she tried not to smile. Shippou was sitting in Sango's lap giving Kagome a comical look of disbelief. Even Rin, sitting next to Jaken, didn't look convinced.

Kaede, sitting on InuYasha's other side, cleared her throat loudly and gave Kagome a reproachful look.

Kagome turned back to the priest to tell him to continue when she saw the questioning look on his face.

"Is there, perhaps, something you'd like to say child?"

"Umm… well not rea-" she was cut-off by another snicker from her 'friends'. She frowned over her shoulder then turned back to the holy man. "Oh, all right! I promise to love him unconditionally father."

He waited a moment, but when she said no more, asked, "Is… that all?"

"Let's see… " she began, tapping her chin with her finger as she replayed his words in her head. "I will respect and honor him father for as long as he deserves it. I will obey him as long as he is saying something I agree with. Of course, I will cherish and protect him and I will support him, good and bad times, but I will let him know when I disagree."

"Is that all?" the holy man started to sweat drop.

Kagome thought about it for a moment then smiled at Sesshoumaru and the priest. "Yes, that's all."

"Well then," he wiped his brow, "you're married."…

… It had been so embarrassing! She couldn't believe they'd done that to her! And Sesshoumaru hadn't said a word! Protect her? HA!

Kagome entered Sesshoumaru's office and went over to her yellow bag. Kaede had brought it to her a couple of days after Inu Yasha and the rest had joined them at the castle. It was now high summer and she could hear Rin and Shippou, through the window, torturing Jaken in the garden.

She smiled gently to herself as she stared down at her backpack. She'd been putting this off since they'd returned and Kagome knew it was time for her to make a decision. She couldn't keep running from it. Whether she liked it or not, Kagome couldn't continue living two lives in two different times. She had to choose one or the other.

And that meant leaving one behind… and all that went with it.

Her heart was pounding in her chest. She knew who she was going to chose, but how did she say goodbye to the ones she was leaving? Her eyes began to burn, but she blinked the feeling away as she took a deep breath in acceptance.

Her heart was beating so loud she didn't hear InuYasha walk in the room or when he called her name.

Kagome picked up her bag, and after digging around for a while, pulled out her digital watch. Pressing one of the tiny buttons on the side, she watched the screen change from showing her the time to showing her the date. After calculating it out in her head she nodded and turned back to her yellow backpack. Digging through it again, she pulled out her school planner and turning to the first empty page and wrote the words, July 25, 2005. GO HOME!, in black ink then circled it three times with red.

Kagome had made her choice.

She smiled to herself as she wiped away the tears in her eyes. Sure, she would have to wait five hundred years, but at least for her mom, ji-chan, and Souta it would only be a few days.

She wouldn't be going through the well again. She had no idea what kind of damage she was causing to the timeline, if any, and should Sesshoumaru and she have kids… she blushed at that thought. She didn't want to have to try to make her children understand the concept of the well, she barely did, nor did she want to risk being stuck on the other side away from Sesshoumaru and them. So, she wasn't going to go through the well anymore. Hopefully, if the well worked like she thought, she'd see her mom and them again.

She wiped at her eyes again. She would miss them dearly, but it was better this way… Why go home to say 'goodbye' when she could wait and then go home to say 'hello'… and maybe even have grandchildren for her mom to spoil… She grinned through her tears at the image of her mom holding a silver haired and golden eyed little boy.

InuYasha tilted his head in curiosity as he watched her. He watched intently as she pulled out that funny contraption she wore on her wrist sometimes when she was planning to go back to her time for school. He remembered she'd told him it was called a 'watch' and that it watched time. How something could watch time and dothat without eyes, he had yet to figure out.

For a moment InuYasha was alarmed at seeing it, wondering if she was going to try to leave again and how Sesshoumaru would react to that, but when she only fiddled with something on the side of it and then put it back down after staring at it he stopped worrying.

InuYasha watched as she pulled something else out of her bag and wrote on it in that strange writing of hers that he didn't understand, before lifting his gaze to her face. He could read the sadness in her eyes and wondered at it. When he smelled the scent of her tears in the air he moved closer to her in concern.

"Kagome what's wrong?" He tried again when she didn't immediately answer him. "Kagome?"

He lifted a hand to her shoulder.

Kagome gave a slight start when she felt the touch on her shoulder and turned in question to the interruption. Her eyes fell on InuYasha then and she could read the concern in his eyes.

He saw the question in her gaze. He gestured with his eyes towards the object with her writing on it. "Are you all right, Kagome?"

Kagome looked to where he indicated. "Yes, I'm fine InuYasha. Why do you ask?"

"You were crying," he informed her. "What is that you wrote?"

"It's…" she thought about what to tell him as she turned her gaze to his, "just a reminder to myself, that's all."

He opened his mouth to ask what she was reminding herself, but stopped when he saw her gaze move passed him to something over his shoulder. That's when he sensed the presence behind him.

He turned to look at Sesshoumaru standing in the doorway, but his brother's eyes remained on his mate.

Sesshoumaru had been passing by on his way to his dojo when he'd smelled Kagome's tears and had immediately turned to go in the opposite direction.

Kagome gazed at her husband and could read the question in his eyes. She knew he wouldn't voice his concern in front of InuYasha. He would either stay or he'd walk away and ask her about it later, depending on what she did next.

Dropping her planner, Kagome quietly side-stepped InuYasha after giving him a small smile then moved over to Sesshoumaru. Calmly she wrapped her arms around his waist, pressed her face to his chest, and waited.

Sesshoumaru had watched her move over to him then he looked down at the top of her dark head. His heart warmed as his eyes softened at the feel of his mate wrapped around him. Obviously, she wanted comforting now. He would not deny her, but first…

He lifted his gaze to InuYasha's. "Leave."

InuYasha watched them for a moment. He'd seen the look in Sesshoumaru's eyes… actually the look was still there. He felt like grinning, but decided not too this time and instead do as his brother requested. His brother was hooked… and Kagome would be fine.

He nodded quietly and slid passed them through the opening.

Sesshoumaru silently closed the door before wrapping his arms around his mate and lowering his eyes to her.

Kagome tilted her head back when she sensed they were alone. She was surprised that InuYasha had left without making a comment, but was thankful all the same. She gazed up at her husband and smiled softly at him through her tears. When his face began moving closer to hers she decided that she could tell him her recent decision later.

Now, she was only thinking about kissing her husband back… and that's exactly what she did.

The End
By: Duchesscarml

We were strangers on a crazy adventure
Never dreaming, how our dreams would come true
Now here we stand, unafraid of the future
At the beginning with you

And life is a road that I wanna keep going
Love is a river, I wanna keep flowing
Life is a road, now and forever, wonderful journey
I'll be there when the world stops turning
I'll be there when the storm is through
In the end I wanna be standing
At the beginning with you.

Duchess: Well, there it is! Thank you to everyone who stuck with me through it all! I have fulfilled my promise to finish this story! I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it!


Kagome: We hoped you enjoyed the story and keep an eye out for the sequel, When the Last Tear Falls, for mystery behind the Takashis and Miroku, and to see how Sesshoumaru and I are adjusting to married life! lol I daresay, it's not pretty. (waves)

Duchess and Cast: Merry Christmas everyone!

Duchess: Wait! There are some who celebrate something else this time of year. (Kagome nods) So, Happy Kwanzaa and Happy Hanukah too!