Feet trudged up wood steps, weary and heavy. With each set passed, he wondered yet again why they had to live on the fifth floor. He grumbled all the way to the end of the small hall, reaching in his jeans for the house key and shifting past the bike lock key.

Just as he found it, the deadbolt suddenly clacked and a western-style wood door swung in, a vision meeting him.

"Thought I sensed you. Stop standing out in this chill and get in here. You're letting in the cold." Hand gripped wrist and pulled him in. "Don't forget your shoes and don't think about leaving your book bag on in the hallway. I'm tired of always cleaning after you."

He grimaced, not in the mood for a lecture and gave in without a fight. It'd been another long day, as it had for the last three years. Thankfully, this was his final year and then he could start doing more to earn his keep. Living off her teaching salary was sufficient for the two of them, but he felt worthless as a man for only having a low-scale, part-time job right now.

She took his jacket and hung it in a small closet nearby, wordlessly kneeling and untying his shoes, helping him slip out of them. She lined those against the wall, making him wonder why she said anything since she did everything for him. He smiled when she stood and their eyes met.

She fit into the 'woman's role' almost naturally as soon as she adjusted. Using Kagome's memories, it didn't take long to get acquainted...much to his misfortune. She took immediate charge of the apartment and nothing escaped her notice. The place was cleaned and kept the way people around here had their homes with furniture and arrangement. He marveled at that, given the amount of homework she had those first two years and the dedication still given in thought to whoever might visit.

She went back to school to get a teaching degree to high schoolers, specialty being different languages, and he got a full-time job. It was a pretty hectic beginning and had yet to smooth out.

He embraced her, tucking face in shoulder and smelling her scent. Their positions were switched; she was the one supporting them and he was working on building his future and cementing himself. He respected her even more for her responsibility and seeing things through twice. Now he knew why he gave up the first time in the states. Then he was only doing for himself - this time he had reasons.

He wanted to be the one to take care of finances so she didn't have to worry over earning money, since she took care of the household bills and grocery things already. He had a dream of opening a grocery store as a way to be closer to his family, selling half Japanese and American goods.

"How was college? Another long day?"

"I don't want to think of that until I start homework." Hands started to wander in sudden playfulness, feeling his mood lighten. "I like where I'm at right now."

"You...we're not alone you know!" She hissed, trying to keep her body from reacting.

He paused and looked to the end of the short engawa barely hiding them. "Oh yea...I forgot." He mumbled, grinning and returning to his task. It was so easy to slip with all the knowledge he needed to memorize.

She meekly struggled, blushing at the thought of someone walking over and seeing him pressed against her with his hands on her ass. She pushed him back and ruffled short hair, knowing he disliked it. "How could you forget?? They've been here the past two days." As expected, he detached and hands went to straighten the damage.

He was allowed to keep it waist-length at work, since he braided it and stuck it under his shirt. College didn't let him get away with it due to the dress code and made him keep it a little shorter than shoulder length. It was almost as short as it was the time he dyed it those many years ago.

Entrance exams put him at a mid-level college, which was okay... it was a mild blow to know he got into a less prestigious school, considering she got into Tokyo U. That was a given due to her previous experience and near A record prepared to his high school rank. College was a little more lax than the younger years with uniforms, but some still kept a code and this was one of them.

"Not the hair damn it! It's harder to keep now that it's so short."

"Quit whining ototo - you're too old for that."

The pair straightened and looked to the voice. No one was there, but the place was small enough their low voices could be heard.

He snorted and picked up the bag he dropped, striding past the small kitchen into equally short living / dining room. "So says the onna that just thoughtlessly ordered me in my own home." He retorted, leaving against a naked wood beam with a smirk.

Jayden's eyes rolled as she met his gaze with a smile. "I'll tell you if you're being dumb on little things as I want - it's my privilege as your nee-chan."

She walked in, taking in everyone's supplies. She deftly swooped around her extended family and kneeled at the chabudai, picking up the teapot. "Ah, we're out of tea again? I'm sorry, I haven't been paying attention. Please give me a minute and I'll have a new batch ready."

Jayden waved her words away with a free hand, the other supporting her sleeping three-year-old's head. "Daijoubu K-chan - we're taking up your much needed time from grading papers. We should be apologizing."

Her head shook, eyes trained on the filling water heater. "Iie, I'm happy you could come help us celebrate our anniversary. Ne?" She met the eyes of her husband of five years, lips tilting.

He nodded and looked over his family, minus hisofusan who joined his hisobosan two years earlier. "Aa. Hisashiburi."

Kristine smiled from her place by Omo. "Still, we're probably overstaying our welcome. I guess a week was too much after all. We should've taken into account your schedules and planned during a vacation."

She kneeled to the table, setting the steaming pot on its holder. "Nonsense okaasan, it's our fault for leaving you to roam the city all day while we're busy. We should've tried harder to get time off to see to your needs." She stood and met his gaze before giving his clothes a once-over. "So change out of that uniform and spend some time with your shinseki while I go out shopping for tonight's dinner."

Jayden squelched a laugh as he righted and turned. "You have become very adept at taking charge of your husband K-chan."

He ignored his sister's sly look and made to shut sliding doors mapping out the bedroom. "Keh." He retorted.

Hand covered mouth to smother a giggle. "Well I do try...he is a full-time job after all."

"I can still HEAR you!" Everyone laughed as he reappeared in regular clothes and plopped on his zabuton she pulled out.

She stood with a bow and headed for shoes and coat. Spring was just beginning and winter was lagging, but as long as the porch door wasn't open and the front door kept most of the wind out, it stayed warm enough and they didn't need the kotatsu. "Then I'll leave everyone to you Inaki and try to hurry back."

Jayden handed her daughter to Chad and stood. "I'll go with you K-chan."

She startled, hands waving. "Eh? Iie Jayden-gishi! You had some of the afternoon with me - you should spend time with Inaki."

Jayden snorted and slipped into sneakers. "I'll spend more time with him than I want. I like your company better."

"Love you too nee-chan." He sardonically retorted.

"Seriously, let him talk to the others and you can show me around."

She finally nodded. "Hai. Atashi o taskete kudasai." She turned to the living room and bowed. "Ittekimasu."

Inaki nodded and reached for some of the snacks in the middle of the table. "Itterashai."

- - - - -

It was so nice to have the family over. It was a pleasant surprise when Inaki made mention in the letters he regularly exchanged, but sad because Inaki couldn't stop college or work and she couldn't really take a week off from classes.

They saw the family off in the mornings to different places that took a while to roam and money for the train back. She hurried home everyday after classes to accommodate them and try to salvage her job as hostess. It was little comparison of crunching time to everything they did since she arrived.

She could never forget them accepting her into the family when Inaki told her he wanted to marry her. Her thumb went over the simple band on her ring finger. She was truly apart of their family and it was nice to use the names Inaki did. She readily accepted the Yamoi myouji and everything the Buddhist priest said when they were married.

"Nee K-chan, is the store far?"

She startled to attention and took in the area. "Ah, it's a few more blocks. I forgot to tell you where it is. Gomen."

"Iie, I didn't ask. Let's simply continue and forget that."

She nodded, feeling content as they waited for a walk light. It was so nostalgic to dwell on the move, getting her teaching degree, marriage, Inaki working on a business degree, becoming an aunt to Miranda - partially named after Mira, and now their anniversary. Sure it was only five years, but so much happened in that time! She knew things would level out soon, but until then they weren't bored at all.

It was amazing and a feeling of pride to know Inaki was almost done with school. She knew how hard a four-year degree was and thankful she only needed two years to do the job she wanted.

It was mildly easy to get into the university with her g.p.a. and hired at a near high school. They looked at this city's university and her language capabilities as main reasons, even if some were skeptical of her managing their customs. Soon as she proved she wasn't that much of a gaijin - new students kept asking those kinds of questions though - the rest was easy.

They entered past a pair of sliding doors and she returned a few welcomes of those she knew in her many stops over the years.

"It seems you are quite popular here K-chan." Jayden mused, picking up a handcart in mimic.

She smiled and headed for the fruit / vegetable aisle. "Any suggestions or something you'd like tonight Jayden-gishi?"

The woman's face scrunched in thought as she looked around. "I need to see the place before I know for sure. Do you mind?"

She left her sister-in-law to wander and browsed the fruits. They were getting low on a few things and she'd be a bad wife if she couldn't even keep snacks in the apartment.

She was kicking herself for not making a list and so deep in thought of trying to picture inside the cupboards that she didn't sense anything out of the ordinary until something moved in her peripheral vision, what seemed to want her attention. She looked up and the feeling of being watched tickled her senses. Brown widened at spotting red hair and green eyes. Her brow furrowed, knowing he was familiar somehow.

She hesitantly stopped in front of him, rapidly searching her mind of when they met, a smile on her face. "Sumimasen," She bowed, "have I...met you before?" She was suddenly swept in a hug, the handcart clacking to the ground. She blushed, memories rushing back, and almost violently struggling to free herself. "Oi!" She grit, trying not to cause a scene. "Hanaso! You think I'm that easy? If my husband were here, you'd be in trouble."

Whether that non-subtle hint worked, she was released. She picked up the basket off the floor and leveled this man with a glare.

He gave a grin, almost sarcastically. "I knew you two would get married, I just never knew it would take so many years." The man sighed, head shaking. "Didn't even get me an invitation. Ah well, I was there, that's good enough."

Foreboding rang bells in her head. Her heart increased, fearing this man might be following her. "Who are you?"

"I suppose you'd not recognize me...you only knew me as a child. I guess I should finally let you know who I am, since I DID seek you out to tell you something."

She was about to ask over that when the man smiled and a lash of power hit hers. It was like someone pulling back a curtain and exposing everything. Her miko senses quickly flared in defense, but she calmed and tried to figure WHY she some of this youkai aura. She separated the layers and concentrated on the face. Eyes gradually slitted into near cat eyes and normal human teeth turned into animal canines.

This was an illusion spell and she wondered why she never felt this earlier. She knew of two illusionists from Kagome's time - Miroku's tanuki servant and one kitsune.

She blinked, heart fluttering, eyes tearing. She inched forward, heart hopeful. "You're...Shippou-chan?"

Arms swung wide, a floor-length tail wagging. "Kagome."

She quickly embraced him, squeezing and feeling his warmth. "Kami-sama! It IS you! You're alive! Shinjanai yo!" She stepped back and he twirled. She looked to his developed youkai features, quickly looking around to see if anyone was watching. "Shippou-chan...your tail..."

Shippou smiled, the bundle of fur twitching. A paw waved her off. "You're the only one who can really see me Kagome. Humans can't see youkai imagery and I've definitely improved since you lived last. No tail in my transformations."

She nodded and went back to shopping, lest Jayden come back and wonder why she hadn't picked ANYTHING out. "Amazing too. I didn't feel anything from you - I thought you were human." She gave a proud look, beaming at his slightly taller stature. "I'm impressed Shippou-chan."

Shippou smiled, face heating. "Eh, hehe...sou ka? It HAS been many hundreds of years after all." Green turned serious, boring into brown. "I missed you Kagome. Though I can't believe you were reborn AGAIN."

She grinned. "This was all Inuyasha's wish with the shikon, but I hope it's the last."

Auburn brows furrowed. "Where IS that annoyance anyway?"

She handed the basket over and checked out some apples. "It's sitting in a hollow place in Inaki's family's kitchen floor. It will probably continue to remain there now that it has no use for anything except a bizarre reminder of his childhood." She set the catch in the holder and met green. "There has been so much that happened in the months before you and I first met. Inuyasha and Kagome are no more - we now go by Inaki and Kalie."

"Another K name?"

"I guess." She dragged them down the line of wooden stands. "You said you came to tell me something." Bangs shadowed brown as she held a few bananas. "It must be pretty important if you unveiled yourself to me."

There was silence as she finally set the bunch next to everything. A paw snaked out and grabbed hers, squeezing. "I wouldn't have taken such a big step and brought back issues from your other life, even told you I was still alive, if there wasn't the need." Shippou sighed and released her. "There are still a handful of youkai in Japan, though some left to see other countries. If you have any of Kagome's memories, you should know youkai fear all miko, houshi, and taiji-ya. They can feel your power since you don't know or don't bother to hide it. Many wonder why you're here and a lot became concerned when you first visited years ago." A paw rested on her shoulder. "Your being here scares some youkai...they think you're here to finish them off."

Brown widened, annoyance filling her. "That's stupid! Why would I do such a thing...I'm not Kagome and I honestly don't care about youkai! This is an entirely different time!"

"I know that, but they don't. We exist in secrecy and if someone can see past our illusions, panic WILL ensue. Those who dread exposure and know how it used to be think they'll be massacred out of fear."

Fists clenched. "Why...why are you telling me this? After five years... If you knew my whereabouts since I came back, maybe even kept track of me, why not let me know back then??" Misty brown met green. "Wouldn't I have been better not knowing at all?"

She was suddenly met with an irony over those same words asked years ago to herself over Kagome's return. She asked herself that in a time of indecision and overwhelmed being. When standing over the threshold of change, she hesitated to take steps she found were not that big a deal and made her life better in the long run.

Her head shook, shoulders slumping. "No...I'm not Kagome, but I must assume responsibility for her as the only physical representative. I have no need for miko powers, but I didn't need any of this. I suppose none of us ever choose some things in our lives." Eyes staring at empty hands looked around at the grocery store. "What do I need to do? I love this place and don't want to leave, but I won't endanger Inaki and myself."

"I wanted to warn you. If you can, think of a way to concentrate and suppress your powers; that is best. Spells may or may not help, since your power is quite developed with your age. It might be too much to conceal entirely. You can't fool a magician with magic after all."

"What do I do?" Hand clasped paw. "Tell me Shippou-chan, please! Help me hide my abilities - there is no one better I know of than you!"

Shippou patted her hand before slowly retracting it. "As I said, I wouldn't have shown myself if it wasn't important, so I can't remain by your side. Yes I watched you from afar since you returned, but it was all I could do. I want to protect you for all the times Kagome saved me, though I'll never repay that much kindness. If others knew I told you their thoughts, they might just hunt you down in paranoia. I don't want that to happen."

She blinked back tears. "Shippou-chan..."

Shippou blushed as deep as his hair. "I loved Kagome for so many of her qualities and you look exactly like her. I see so much of her in you and it's hard not to make you her. This is the only thing I can do. I'm sorry to put you in this position, but I felt it was better you were aware. I don't want you in unknown danger, but a mini-war will break out if I stay."

She smiled and hugged the kitsune. "I understand Shippou-chan. It's enough to know you're alive and grown to such a handsome youkai."

Shippou blushed, but pulled back enough to move her face with a paw. "You've also become more beautiful than I imagined as an adult."

Warning bells went off. "I'm married Shippou-chan."

Shippou snorted. "And that bastard is damn lucky. But I deserve at least one kiss after the treatment he put me through."

She gave a dry look. "I'm not a prize and you two were both immature to get along." He seemed persistent, so she gave in. "One. But you do it the way Kagome used to kiss you."

The youkai pouted before nodding. His lips descended to her forehead and lingered as long as possible. "You always did hold a favor for him."

"I chose neither of you; I love you both equally. Now let me go - we've caused enough of a scene." The pair separated and tried to be as normal as possible, though she knew the workers would be talking for a while. She took the basket and went to looking at fruit again, wondering how many were watching. "Thank you for coming to me Shippou-chan. I'll try to be more conscious of my power from now on. I don't know how, but I'll look through Kagome and Kikyou's memories for anything." There was no answer and she looked up, finding herself alone. She turned full circle, scanning the area. "Shippou-chan??"

He was gone. She didn't see one tuft of red anywhere.

Brown sadly trailed to the floor, misting a little. "Sayonara...Shippou-chan..."

She moved on to the end of the row, contemplating the abrupt change in her life. She wouldn't take his appearance for granted. She wouldn't try to see how many youkai - or even hanyou for that matter - were out there; it would be better to feign mild ignorance. She would just be aware they existed and adjust a little to it.

Midoriko did what she could to put them out of harm's way in the future, but the powerful woman couldn't predict they would survive so many hundreds of years. She wasn't angry her dream of a regular, dull life was not there anymore - she could still be that way with a few modifications and soon it would be natural to act that way as well.

"Mou K-chan, you haven't done much shopping while I was away."

She whirled around, brown lighting on brown. "Jayden-gishi!" She kind of forgot about her sister-in-law roaming the place.

The woman gave a sheepish smile. "Ah...sorry I took so long. I ended up in a discussion over grocery stores with a manager who asked if I needed help."

She smiled. "Daijoubu. We should get done and hurry back. I know what to cook now."

Jayden blinked, head tilting. "What would that be?"

Brown looked far away to a time when someone looking just like her was on a picnic with a group of friends, giving oyaku donburi to an adorable little redhead... "Something I haven't had in a long time."

- - - - -

"Sorry I took so long K-chan."

She let Jayden pass outside first, adjusting her grip on the bags. "Please don't worry yourself Jayden-gishi. I was the one dragging us everywhere."

The pair fell instep as they started back home. "I DID slow us down by checking everything on the shelves." Jayden grinned. "When you work in a grocery store, you tend to notice little things and apply them to other places."

"I know what you mean; I tend to get annoyed if my kitchen isn't clean from my time at the hotel." She looked to her right, eyeing the woman. Raven brows furrowed. "Jayden-gishi? What's wrong?" Jayden was a little pale, eyes somewhat wide. She looked ahead and easily spotted what changed her friend.

Sitting barely in the shadow of an alley was a fox. It was larger than any she saw, its head coming nearly to the sill of a near window. Hands clutched the bags in trepidation until it blinked one eye. Her brow furrowed, a smile forming as she spotted green eyes.

Slowly, hoping she was right, she sidled closer. "K-chan, matte!" Jayden hissed, looking for someone. She feared to move, lest they be attacked. "Abunai - don't go any closer!"

"Daijoubu Jayden-gishi. Kitsune-san won't harm us." She kneeled and met the fox eye to eye. "Ne Shippou-chan?" She whispered. The fox's tongue lolled from its mouth, giving an almost happy expression. She dug in a bag and pulled out an apple. "Arigatou Shippou-chan."

Sayonara janai Kalie. Gently taking the fruit with his fangs, green met brown one last time in silent communication before the youkai dashed into the alley, swallowed in darkness.

She stood and grabbed plastic before turning to her wide-eyed relative. "We should hurry back before Inaki goes searching for me."

Jayden fell in step, looking back to the alleyway. "What just happened K-chan?! That fox was huge! How can they exist in such a city??"

She looked to the sky, the quiet tenor still ringing in her head. "I'm sure he'll find a way..."

The second Jayden put her bags down on the kitchen counter; she started recalling their 'freak encounter'. She left the woman to describe beginning to end, secure in knowing none of them would truly understand. She set about getting vegetables cut and things to boil for dinner, letting Kristine help upon insistence.

He listened to his sister ramble on, recognition tickling his senses. Brown watched his wife work, brow furrowing.

"And K-chan was so brave! She walked right up to it and kneeled in its face! She even gave it an apple from her hand and it didn't bite her. It was so amazing!"

She looked to the living room sheepishly. "You're exaggerating Jayden-gishi. I wasn't THAT great."

"You don't take into consideration its size. I bet it would've stood to your waist."

He cut off the complimenting and stood, serious brown meeting brown. Without a word, he strode around everyone and clasped her wrist, stopping her cutting. "Okaasan, I need to speak with my wife. May I leave dinner to you for a few minutes?"

She knew this was serious by the way his eyes never left hers. She turned to Kristine with a polite smile. "Would you please finish chopping the vegetables and put them to boil? I'll be back soon to help. I apologize for being taken away."

"Atashi ni makasete. It sounds like you've had quite the time."

Shippou's grown face popped into her mind. "Yea..."

He dragged her outside and all the way to the roof. They were given a good view eight stories up and she took a second to admire it.

He stopped near the ledge and kneeled to sit on a small sill. Brown absently watched clothes drying of one of the tenants. "Jayden will never be able to tell me everything. I want to know what really happened."

Wistful brown looked to the start of the setting sun. "It sounds like you already know."

"I want to hear it from you." He stood and walked to her, spinning her around with a grip on her chin to read her eyes. "A fox...with green eyes. Sounds an awful lot like that gaki."

"You two never got along." Brown rolled as she made to step away, but he wasn't letting go. "Yes it was Shippou."

His grip tightened on her chin. "What did he say to you?"

A brow rose. "What makes you think I didn't just find him? My miko skills are better than that you know. You think the worst of him...how do you know he didn't try to reconcile after so long?"

"Because he's not that stupid. If Shippou was that excited to see you, he would've made his presence known years ago. Youkai have always been safe by hiding from humans. It's too curious that he came into the light. What. Did. He. Say?"

She sighed. "I didn't plan on telling you this because this is my problem. Apparently there are still some youkai out there and Shippou feels I'm in danger."

Brown slowly closed as realization hit. "Because you have the necessary skills to defeat them."

She looked at him and bit her lip, trying to stare past bangs shadowing eyes. "As long as I find a way to keep my power hidden I should be okay. Shippou uses a spell that masks his looks and whatnot to humans. Only other youkai, miko, and houshi will see through it. If I practice and search my memories, I'm sure I can find a way too."

He crushed her to him, burying face against shoulder. He was silent for a while, digesting everything and comprehending the meaning of this. "Did he say anything else?" He mumbled.

A hand ran through his hair, trying to calm him. "He won't make himself known again because he felt that would make me a target by telling me. He knew who I was from meeting us on the trip years ago and will continue keeping watch over us."

He reared back, eyes wide. "THAT guy?!"

She grinned. "I figured the red hair and green eyes would've gave him away."

He tried not to glare. "This is no time for jokes. We have to figure out a way to get out of this mess."

"There is little to do. I was born like this, as were Kagome and Kikyou. I'll look into suppressing it, but that's all I can do. I won't leave a place I call home."

He mouth closed, intending on suggesting that. "Whatever needs to be done, we'll do it together. No more of this 'I' stuff."

A sly grin formed. "Well then Mr. Yamoi...how about you let me get back to cooking dinner and give your okaasan a break by helping?"

He stepped back, disbelieving he set himself up like that. "Y - you know my cooking doesn't compare to yours. I'd rather feed our family your genius and buy time until dinner."

She snorted and grabbed shirt, practically dragging him to the stairs and unimpressed by his flattery. "Give me the easy job, ne?" She paused at the door, not letting go. "I understand what you mean. I'll probably be leaning on you over this until it's over, so I hope you can handle it."

He took her hand and kissed knuckles. "You're my wife - I'll always be there when you need me...no matter what I've got going on."

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

She snuggled a little closer to him in the futon, tucking her chin against the back of his head. Very low light filtered through curtains over the porch door, spilling shadows everywhere. She watched them, idly looking around the living room, though she had to be up in six hours to make breakfast and get to school.

Sometime soon, she would find a few free minutes and meditate to look back in her past lives and search for any spells she might be able to use. Youkai and miko could use the same things, but get different results and she knew there was something in Kikyou's life at least. There was a time when the woman went into hiding from Naraku to keep safe and she would study that. If a kekkai was what she needed, she'd do what was necessary.

Brown stared at pitch inches away, watching her breath blow a few strands. She wouldn't endanger herself, her husband, or her precious family. Youkai would go to full lengths to destroy any menace that would hurt them. She needed to think of every possibility until the end, but it was just a matter of recalling everything. Not all of them were low-level or evil - many of those would've been killed years ago from starting trouble and lashing out in the first place. It was just a precautionary measure they had against the natural fear from humans.

All she had to do was convince everyone she wasn't a threat. When put into feral animal terms, once something more powerful than the other showed a base level of trust, it was seen differently. If she constructed a kekkai or whatever and allowed some time, youkai would slowly lose interest.

The blanket suddenly shifted and nearly made her cry out in surprise. She was so stuck in her mind, she hadn't registered Inaki at all - even though they were back to front - until he shifted to face her. "Nani kangaete?" He breathed, trying not to wake everyone. The bedroom doors were gone to create a large sleeping area for everyone. His grandparents and parents got the bedroom, while the young ones took the living area. It was only polite to do so, since there was more light here than there. Jayden, Chad, and Miranda were only a foot away with their own futon and he didn't want to wake Miranda and essentially the whole floor with her cries.

She tried to meet his eyes in the darkness. "How did you know I was still asleep?" She whispered back.

He grinned. "I'm a light sleeper and your heart rate didn't slow in the past hour. Nani kangaete?"

"About this afternoon. I was just taking a free minute to get my thoughts in order and ponder all this."

He frowned. "You've got a lot to do - you should be getting your sleep. I know this is detrimental, but you'll suffer if you don't get some shut-eye."

She smiled, the hand at his waist rising to run through his hair. "Arigatou. I know you're worried for my health, but I'll be fine." Brown softened as she watched the bliss of her action chase over his face. "It'll be simple once I figure out the correct spell. I have a small inkling of how things need to go, so we'll be okay. I'm not that worried now that I know."

He nodded. "Get some sleep." He shifted to let her turn her back to him, holding her tight against his chest. There was enough room in the futon, theirs wide enough to hold two people, but he liked her close. The feel of her body in a nonsexual way gave him piece of mind and calmed him to know she was unscathed and totally healthy for another day.

This wasn't something he wanted brought up now that their lives were finally getting in order. He would finish school soon, get ideas about how he would run his future store, and soon make it happen. This issue easily put his plans on hold - though they were still a while away - and he would make sure she was safe before continuing.

He thought of something totally off topic earlier, though still related to this miko-power-youkai thing. He wanted children with this woman when they had the money to support one. Even though he was thirty-three and she thirty, there was no hurry. He was content to have her all to himself until a mix of them was created.

It was a sad thought to think of the chance their child having any kind of spiritual powers. There was the possibility if Kalie passed it down the line, but she wouldn't let their child come into the world without protection. Whatever spell she could use to help her would be passed to the next generation.

He wasn't a big lover of kids - Miranda was tolerated because she was family and adorable in her own way - but it was different for your own. Seeing a mix of his features with hers would spark something inside and he realized that. It gave him hope to have what his grandmother was goading him into the past two years and give her a grandchild from his side.

He grinned and pressed a kiss to her hair. It was braided to keep out of the way, as she let it continue to grow. It just touched the bottom of her rear, as long as Kikyou's was, but without bangs. They grew as well and were three times as long as in the past. She looked very beautiful with such long hair and Jayden loved playing with it whenever possible.

There weren't that many changes in his family's life compared to his. The death of his hisofusan was the largest thing, the birth of Miranda being the second. His grandparents fully owned the store and his parents did more managing of previous jobs without him and Jayden around. Of course she helped her family when they asked, but what time wasn't being taken up by Chad and her daughter was spent working in a beauty shop she soon intended on taking over.

He feared for the future of his family's business, since that was the only income and all they knew for work, but was reassured they could hire someone part-time to do the things he did or at least even out work a little more. He was comforted in the last option of getting a larger apartment and bringing the older generations to live with them. He didn't know how that would work out with the house and was loathe to let it go to anyone else and banished the thoughts.

'Things have come into play that K and I weren't ready for in the past and we got through. We managed every day since we came to this land and we'll continue to do so. Everything will work out somehow if we only believe they will and have faith in the unknown. If I worry and fret about something that hasn't even happened, I will only harm myself in the now.'

K's miko powers could be hidden, his college job would turn into a manager / owner position into his own store, his sister would continue to help their family, and the business wouldn't fizzle out anytime soon. Though in their thirty's, there was still time to have a child. They would both love it unconditionally and protect it to the fullest extent of their lives. That was all he needed to keep in mind at this moment - everything else could be pondered later.

A hand ran over his wife's arm, feeling cotton of her sleeping clothes and wished it were skin. He wanted to tell her so much of his love and its depth in this moment of epiphany, but settled for a deep kiss to the small, exposed part of her shoulder. Her hand rose and entwined with his, holding it next to her breast in silent communication of understanding.

I am a BEGINNER Japanese learner...so if these are not 100 correct...please let me know if you care to do so. I only have a web page to learn from, a dictionary, and a few months experience to work with.

Translations: Shinseki-Family/relatives Kotatsu-Table with heater -Gishi-Older sister-in-law Atashi o taskete kudasai-Please help me/Please give me help Shinjanai yo-I don't believe it

Oyaku donburi-Chicken and eggs on rice Sayonara janai Kalie-It's (this) isn't goodbye Kalie Atashi ni makasete-Leave this to me Nani kangaete-What are you thinking (of)

And so the story ends. Again thanks to everyone who enjoyed and reviewed after I finished this - they are all very appreciated and make my day. For those who wonder over Sesshoumaru's existence, like I put down in the story - if he's still alive, he'd be seriously getting up there in years. lol It seems crappy for Shippou to do another cameo, but I explained why...also that it's not over. He's not disappearing except to the shadows of invisibility. Bios will be up soon of Sam, Inaki, and Kalie, and all the terminology of both Spanish and Japanese back to chapter 1 on my site (I doubt ffnet will let me post them). I'll fix that in time when I redo this in the future.

Thanks for your thoughts, your time, and goodwill. It makes my day and I hope your road in life isn't as angsty as I put my characters through. ;) lol