The End and a New Beginning

"Momma, watch me!" a little girl yelled, standing on a ledge in the cliff a good ten feet over the crashing surf.

"Izumi, get down!" a little boy yelled, "Momma, tell Izumi to get down from the cliff!" Kagome looked over the top of her book with a blank look, staring between the two kids.

"'Nagi, shut up!" the girl called down at her twin, sticking her tongue out.

"No, you shut up!" Subconsciously, the boy started climbing to where his sister stood.

"Shippou, do you mind?" Kagome asked, watching the two just about at each others' throats.

"Yes, Momma." Unfolding himself from underneath the tree that he had grown to shade the rest of the beachgoers, he jogged up to the twins on the cliff and climbed up to stand between them. Prying the two apart, he first chucked Izumi into the bay water, then her younger twin, Izanagi. "Cool down, you two!"

"Shippou-ani!" the twins yelled, coming up from their unexpected dive. The redhead grinned, looking down at the two with a mischievous grin. Realizing what that grin meant, the two screamed, swimming towards shore and the 'safety' that their mother provided. Diving, Shippou easily caught up, tugging on frantically kicking feet playfully. Once they reached shore, it turned into a race with Kagome as the finishing line. They didn't even notice that Shippou had stayed in the water, casually swimming along the shoreline.



Kagome grinned, able to put her book away before two soaking wet bodies slammed into her. "Aww, did the big, bad fox chase you?" she cooed, suppressing laughter.


"And he threw us into the water!" Izumi whined, pushing sodden white locks out of her eyes. Sitting back, she eyed the two; as different as night and day. Izumi (her first by five minutes, the girl was proud to point out every chance she got) had her father's coloring, with white/silver and her own deep blue eyes. Izanagi was as dark as his sister was white, with raven's wing black hair and eyes so bright gold they seemed yellow at times. Strangely, though, he had one spot over his right eye that was naturally white, and had been so since his hair had grown out enough to be seen. Where Izumi was adventurous to the point of almost being reckless (Kagome blamed Yusuke's influence in that), she was tempered by her brother's caution, sometimes needing that push to do something more than his lessons.

Both were smart, much to Kagome's delight, able to understand things that even she had difficulties with at times. "Well, what do you want me to do about it then?" Kagome asked and the twins shared a silent look, fidgeting, unsure what to do.

"Tell him to stop?" Izumi suggested, grabbing her brother's hand.


"Ok," Kagome nodded, looking over to where Shippou still swam casually, "Shippou, can you go up to the house and check if everything's ready?"

"Ok Momma," Shippou grinned, standing up from the shallow water and walking back to where he had tossed his beach shirt and towel. Shrinking back to the form that most knew as Kurama: tall, long red hair and an almost feminine features. Toweling off, he pulled his yellow beach shirt back on, Smirking, he feinted an attack at the twins, which earned him an excited squeal and a light smack from their mother.

"Go already." Grinning openly, Kurama gave his adoptive mother a graceful bow and walked off, up the path and through the tunnel back to the house.

"Almost ready for the party?" Kagome asked cheerily, an arm around each twin. They nodded, bouncing from excitement. "Good, then go get toweled off and dressed, then we can go!"

"Yay!" they cheered, racing across the beach to the changing rack and their towels.

By the time Kagome gathered her beach bag and towel, the twins were ready, sandy shoes and dripping shirts included. Shaking her head, Kagome turned them both around with a pat to the shoulder each. "Try again, and this time dry off before getting dressed."

"Yes Momma." 'Nagi murmured, dragging his sister off for round two with the towels, this time to let the fluffy (and now sandy) cloth win.

Up at the house, Kurama found Inuyasha at the top of a ladder, fighting some helium balloons into submission. "Old man! We about ready for the guests of honor to show up?" He called, holding the base of the ladder steady.

"What do you think, pup?" Inuyasha called back down, holding some balloon ribbons in his mouth as he tried to pin more to the wall. The parlor was a mess: rolls of streamers were half-unwound, lying across the couch. Deflated helium balloons remained where they landed as they were either popped by careless claws or slipped out of clumsy fingers. The buffet table was bare, except for the cake that was still receiving some last-minute decorations, meaning there was frosting where it was not meant to be (mainly the lace tablecloth under the cake).

"OK, running interference then!" Kurama chirped, leaving the room and shutting the doors behind him.

"And get back to help when you're done!" Inuyasha yelled through the door.

At the Back door, Kurama waved from where he sat on the porch railing. Jumping down when the trio got closer, "Hey you two," he smiled, pinching a sodden shirt. "Why don't you head upstairs and take a bath to get all that sand off. I would hope that you'd both want to look nice when Grandma Gin comes, right?"

"Gran-Gin's coming?" Izumi squealed, running into the house and thundering up the stairs, pulling her poor brother along behind her.

"How's it looking?" Kagome asked, watching the two disappear into the house.

"At the moment?" Kurama gave his adopted mother a sideways look, "Inuyasha's trying to hang balloons, the boys are in the middle of a streamer fight, and Miroku managed to get frosting everywhere but the cake." Kagome nodded, it sounded about right, what with the twins' birthday turning into the unofficial yearly reunion between anyone that was there, or related to them. Surprisingly, it was Inuyasha that insisted on going all-out for parties. If it was Kagome's choice, the entire party would be family and the twins' friend with a few activities and cake. She shrugged it off as growing up differently. Her with the close-knit group of family and friends, and him growing up in a castle. Inuyasha may have ended up living in the forests, but while his mother still lived he was a prince, as she was a princess, and attended the appropriate celebrations.

"Off you go then, you were swimming too." Kagome gave Kurama a small push. "Take a shower and then help your father with decorating. I'll go check on the twins and make sure they haven't flooded the bathroom again." With that, they headed off to separate wings, Kagome to the third floor suite and Kurama off to the room he kept his extra clothes and overnight bag in.

It was amazing, six years ago the journey ended, the well sealed up and Naraku was defeated. Six years ago, Kagome thought that she would never see her mate again. She never thought that the quest for the jewel would end, that the close kinship would last beyond the defeat of the re-born hanyou. Her wildest dreams never even dreamed that the jewel would practically grant her friends immortality, that it would split the world, granting Humans and Demons their own territories. If she were to be honest, she didn't know what would happen when the quest finished, if the quest ever finished.

Mentally going over the guest list, she realized that the line between family and friends tended to blur over time if one looked too closely. Shiori, the little bat hanyou that they had saved once, had matured into a beautiful woman in the past 500 years, learning a spell around 25 year ago to turn her fully human when she fell in love with a human male. Together they had a son with red hair and intelligent green eyes. Interestingly enough, neither had either trait anywhere in their bloodlines. They named the boy Suiichi.

Around that time, a Kitsune with a silver coloring allowed himself to be killed while mourning the loss of his closest friend—a bat hanyou. All Kagome could think was that he was attracted by the available empty container and the sealed demon blood that could hold his until he was ready.

It was sometime before last year's reunion when he told her, though not really by choice. As she was told, Shiori always thought that something was different with her son, especially since he was fourteen or so. She thought that it was a long-term girlfriend until the first time he disappeared for several weeks at a time. Then there were the scars and old injuries she saw on his torso one morning when she came in to wake him up. He seemed almost stoic as a child, but she couldn't really peg him as a fighter.

One day, she asked if he could introduce his girlfriend to her, and the boy had the strangest expression on his face. "Suiichi, do you have a… boyfriend? Is that why you haven't introduced us? You know I don't care if you're gay, as long as-"

"Mother!" Kurama covered his eyes, willing his blush away. "I'm not in any relationship, male or female. I… have a part-time job." Shiori didn't quite believe him, at least not about the part-time job part. A part-time job wouldn't consume his whole being as whatever this was had. A part-time job wouldn't keep him away for days, weeks, at a time with no chance for even a phone call. Shiori shook her head.

I wouldn't call working with Yomi-sama a part-time job, Suiichi." If Kurama was drinking anything, he would have spit it out, but as it was, his bum suddenly became intimate with the carpet.

"I-I don't know what you're talking about." Kurama, a master of deception, had always had issues when it came to lying to this woman that gave birth to his human form. Looking away, he asked what all she knew, how she knew. She smiled, telling him about the little fox boy that was with the hanyou that saved her from her grandfather. About the stories she heard in the safe house she would visit the next few hundred years, about the fox child grown up and learning to steal and trick those around him. She told him of how the master of the safe house mourned when he heard that the fox boy had died. And finally, she told him of his own birth, how small he was, and how strange that the baby's head sported red peach fuzz and its eyes were an intelligent green that so reminded her of a little fox she once knew many, many years ago.

Kurama grew quiet, not knowing what to say, what to do. Should he apologize for possessing her son's body, should he ask permission now that he knew she knew about his activities? Should he leave, never to make contact with her again. "I'm sor-"

"I know what you're going to say, and don't." Shiori raised her hand to cease his protests. "You're just as much my son as you're anyone else's. Just," she cupped his cheek, wiping away tears with her other hand, "Just don't forget me and come home, to this home, some time, ok? I love you, son, whether you're a 500 year old fox or a 21-year-old boy. And nothing will change that, ever."

Kurama bowed his head. "Th-thank you… Mother."

"Just one question though," Shiori gave a wry smile. "What should I call you?"

"Suiichi's fine, Mother, but most people call me Kurama now."

"Kurama," She nodded, tasting how the name sounded to her lips, "that helps. It was confusing, calling one of you boys when you both had the same name."

Someone knocked on the front door, startling her out of her reverie. With as many hanyou and others coming and going at all times of the day and night, most didn't even bother knocking, just coming in and signing themselves into a room. Around dawn and dusk someone would watch from a chair, just in case, but this system worked mostly without incident. "Ah, Shiori, you're here!" Kagome smiled at the older woman holding a pair of small boxes. "You're the first one to show, so the room's still a bit messy."

"That's alright." Shiori gave the younger hanyou a hug, a box in each hand. "Where's Kurama? And the twins?" she asked, handing Kagome the boxes.

"Kurama is taking a shower and then will help Inuyasha with the banner or something. And the twins," Kagome gave something between a smile and a grimace, "should be taking a bath. We were all down at the beach earlier and the kids went swimming." Even though Kurama was technically older, he would always be 'one of the kids.'

"Ah, should I go in and help then?" They peeked into the room, not really believing that it would be clean by the time the next hour rolled around.

"If you want." Kagome shrugged, putting Shiori's presents on the table piled with other gifts. Nodding at her hostess, Shiori rolled up her sleeves, revealing ancient scars, and grabbed a washcloth. Starting at one end of the buffet tables, she zeroed in on the frosting-being formally known as Miroku.

"Miroku-sama, are you getting anything on the cake?" she asked, swiping at his frosting-encrusted cheek while dodging a pink streamer someone had badly aimed.

"I'm getting there." Miroku shrugged, stepping away to refill his piping bag. Despite the surrounding area being a disaster area, the cake itself was gorgeous. Various scenes wound around the tiers, while sugar-sculpted cartoon characters danced on a fondant path. Off to the side, six green and six yellow candles waited to be placed at the last possible moment.

"If I may ask, where's your wife?" Miroku grinned, using a toothpick to fix a stray piece of frosting.

"Last time I checked, she was in the dojo with Souta-kun, setting up games for later." Shiori nodded, rinsing out her towel and returning shortly.

"I would have thought the boys would be doing that." Miroku shook his head and grimaced as a purple streamer clocked him in the back of the head. Looking around, he saw his youngest's guilty face, quickly hiding the roll in his hand behind his back.

"They were going to," Miroku had softly put down his piping bag and slowly picked up the thrown roll, pretending to be old and haggard, "but decorating," throwing the roll, Miroku managed to bean Inuyasha in the back of the head, causing him to lose grip on the balloon he was filling. The projectile spun wildly out of control and managed to land right on Sesshoumaru's head as he entered the double doors. "Seems more their speed." Miroku tried not to snicker at the death glare Sesshoumaru sent Inuyasha's way, plucking the pink balloon out of his hair.

"Nice shot." Shiori giggled, as the glare was reflected over to the boys.

"I try." Miroku smirked, his clean hand resting between Shiori's shoulders. "Now, let's go see how my dear wife is doing before things start getting messy."

"You can Da-ance, you can Ji-ive, having the Time of your Li-i-ife!" Sango's voice was heard before they even got to the dojo doors, singing along with some old American music that she had never quite gotten over as the decades rolled by. She didn't hear the door slide open, nor the startled gasp that Shiori gave as she saw the room.

Practically finished setting up the stations, Sango was dancing around with the limbo pole, her tank top riding up and revealing skintight daisy dukes with an upside-down hand print over one butt cheek. On the other pocket it said 'Property of Miroku' in glittery fabric paint. Grinning, Miroku smoothly replaced the pole with his body with the ease of decades of practice. Singing the next line intentionally off-key, Miroku spun his wife and finished by planting a wet one on her lips. By the end of the song, they had greeted each other as if they had been separated by years, not mere minutes. "Almost done in here?" he asked, still holding her close.

"Yeah, what about you?" Sango asked, trying to bite down her laughter as Miroku spun her again just for the heck of it.

"Hot food's in the oven, cold food's in the fridge and the cake's decorated." Miroku bent down and planted another slow kiss. "And the guests are starting to arrive."

Waving meekly, Shiori caught Sango's attention and she immediately pulled out of her mate's embrace."Miroku!" she hissed, pulling down her tank top as far as it would go. "Shiori! I'm so glad you could make it!" Hugging the bat, Sango hid her flush of embarrassment. "Are you looking forward to seeing everyone again?" Stepping back, Sango gave the… well, she couldn't exactly call her a girl anymore… Woman a fond look. "Well, since everyone's starting to show up. I guess I should go get dressed. I hope you have fun tonight, ok?" Putting the limbo pole away, Sango pulled her husband along with her. "C'mon monk, you have frosting all over your shirt too."

Watching the couple leave with a fond look, Shiori sighed and went back to the chaos that was the parlor. In all the time that she had known the couple, one thing was for certain: they were two halves of a whole and wouldn't be able to leave each other even if they tried. But after this long, even that was unlikely.

"Urameshi, over here!" as soon as the shorter boy turned his head, Kuwabara threw his streamer as hard as possible, trying to bean him. Quick reflexes returned the fire, but where Kuwabara missed, Yusuke hid dead center. Laughing, Yusuke threw a peace sign and ducked behind a couch to avoid a spray of silly string.

Giving the boys a look, Inuyasha finally pinned the last balloon in place and moved his ladder to start pinning the criss-cross of streamers on the floor to the ceiling and walls. Now, if only the boys could do this themselves, everything would be ready on time. As if hearing his thoughts, Kurama came in, damp hair from his shower, adjusting the cuffs on his teal cheongsam with green leaves and matching green shirt and pants underneath. Without saying a word, he nodded to Sesshoumaru and picked up a streamer, handing it to Inuyasha.

"Do you think you can do something about the monkeys?" Inuyasha asked, taking the streamer Kurama handed him gratefully.

Kurama shrugged, catching another flyaway roll of streamers in mid-air. "I'll think of something." The Past couple of years, the boys had gone their separate ways for the most part, but at least trying to meet up every couple of months. Yusuke continued to somewhat-rule his father's territory. Kurama continued helping in Yomi's territory and Hiei continued to patrol the now-nonexistent barrier territory. Kuwabara, despite everyone's concern, competed in a few of the demon tournaments. After being defeated his first time around, he was steadily moving up the ranks and gaining a reputation at the same time. Kurama still snickered about the first time he had heard a certain rumor, saying that Kuwabara was a demon in disguise; that no normal human could do some of the things that he did.

He did agree with at east part of the rumor—that he was definitely not a normal human. But then again, neither were his parents, with a demon-slyer for a mother and a monk for a father, and growing up competing with demons, it was surprising that more of their children didn't hit the power jackpot.

"Kazuma, could you please help here?" Kurama asked, holding up a streamer with a pointed look.

"Oh, yeah, right." Kuwabara blushed, picking up some criss-crossed streamers and threaded them onto a tack. Then, using his spirit sword, he pushed the tack into the ceiling tile until it stuck. "Guess we should start getting ready, huh?" Looking around, he noticed that a few early guests had started drifting in and helping with the finishing details. Including setting food onto the buffet table according to Kagome's instructions when she popped in briefly to see how much longer she should delay the twins.

"Oh, ah, Mother, You're here!" Kurama exclaimed, spotting Shiori with a dishtowel, helping Miroku de-frost the table under the cake. He smiled, gently trying to take the towel away. "Why don't you go around and say hi to everyone?"

Holding on to the towel with a surprisingly subtle (strong) grip, Shiori smiled at her son. "Kurama-kun, I have more than enough time for that during the party, but for now let me help so that everything will be ready when the rest of the guests arrive." Blinking, he gave in with a sigh. If nothing else, he learned when to fight and when to say 'yes Momma' and give in. This was one of those times.

As everyone started to drift in, preparations were finally finished and the hosts changed into nicer clothes. Those that had traditional clothes from their time in the feudal era wore them, while the younger generation (including Kagome) wore something a little more modern. Kagome wore a sundress while Inuyasha wore his firerat robe. Miroku, surprisingly, felt more comfortable in black slacks and a purple collared top than his traditional monks' robe. He actually hadn't really played the role of a holy man for the past three-hundred years, but more of an exorcist and psychic.

Sango also went the non-traditional route with a pseudo-kimono top and skinny jeans. In their travels around the world, Sango had tried many different careers, including a stint as a fashion designer and actress back in the 1970's.

Their kids were modern in almost every sense, with Shizuru in Jeans and a flannel shirt (Sango put her foot down on her smoking—a least at the refugee) and Kuwabara in his white trench. He was bare-chested except for a torso wrap, showing the corner of a tattoo that he had gotten after his first demon tournament. It had started as a simple tree of life, but seemed to grow after every tournament, with vines starting to crawl across his shoulder and down his pecs. Then again, the thing could be alive since the artist lived in the demon world. The best trait, however, was that it would lighten or darken at will, nearly disappearing if he wished it to.

Kurama and Hiei didn't really change much, especially Hiei. He wore the same black robe and pants as always. And if not for Kurama and his promise (bribe) of Sweet Snow (ice cream), he wouldn't have even thought to come. As it was, he was standing in the darkest corner he could find, arms crossed, glaring at anyone who even dared to look his way.

Sesshoumaru (In Armani) was standing next to Koga (he might as well be the cover model for biker clothes) and his family. Poor Hojo, he was Koga's youngest descendant, but he still carried a torch for his longtime classmate. Coming to the yearly meet-n-greets could be likened to torture if he was any other person.

Souta, on the other hand, relished these meetings. He had grown into an observant young man, but no less excitable if the conversation turned to a subject he agreed with. At the moment though, he was nursing a root beer float, sitting in one of the huge bay windows. Wearing his high school uniform, he had the black jacked piled beside him with his white undershirt undone, revealing a red tee with a hand painted collar that looked suspiciously like Inuyasha's old necklace. Tucked into his belt was a chain-sickle eerily similar to what Kohaku used to use. His eyes searched the room passively, waiting for a particular guest to arrive.

Finally, the double doors opened, revealing the twins - holding hands- and their mother. The rumble in the room slowly died down until they held everyone's attention. Kagome slipped around to stand next to her husband as the twins took two steps forward and bowed. "Thank you for coming." They intoned in unison, sending shivers up some of the guests' spines. "We hope that you enjoy your visit." Bowing again, they broke the tension by grabbing their friends and pulling them to the game room.

"I hate when you do that." A small blonde shivered.

"Yeah, wa-ay too creepy." A taller boy agreed, letting himself be dragged to the game room with the others. No way had they wanted to stay in the room full of creepy adults. The twins gave each other a sidelong look and grinned. That was exactly why they did it.

The adults had finally gotten back to visiting when a teenage form peered around the open double doors. Slipping inside, Koenma slid around the perimeter of the room until he was sure that he wouldn't be called on for being late. "Koenma." A deep rumble behind him stopped his heart. "Wish to tell me why you are late?"

"Fa-Father!" Koenma yelped, turning around and bowing to the imposing figure of Sesshoumaru. Who was known better as Enma these days. "I…" he had no excuse. "I was reviewing candidates for my new team of spirit detectives."

Nodding, Sesshoumaru looked around, seeing a certain teenager watching the two 'gods.' "Good. And how are the candidates looking?" Silently, he started moving toward that direction. "Anyone in particular standing out?"

"Not especially. There is one boy, yes, but two of his family has already served… and there is the matter of heritage… and temperament."

Sesshoumaru gave his son a mild look, "I would believe that after picking Urameshi off the streets, you would jump at the chance of another miscreant. You seem to be fond of potentially bad eggs." Cringing, Koenma nodded, remembering a few of his past choices. "Though, I have to admit that your last batch turned out… acceptable." Nearing Souta's window, Sesshoumaru turned to face his son. "And with your recent success, I would highly recommend a certain human, despite one already serving your detectives. Souta-kun, would you come here please?" Sesshoumaru raised his voice enough for the human to hear over the din.

Snapping his head around, Souta languidly unfolded, standing up and putting his jacket back on, giving himself time to calm his nerves. "Yes, brother-in-law?" Souta greeted, giving the much older demon a bow.

Putting a hand on Souta's shoulder, Sesshoumaru turned back to his son. "This is Souta Higurashi, brother to my Kagome and cousin to your Urameshi. I believe he wishes to speak with you about the new team you're forming."

"Yes Father." Koenma and Souta watched Sesshoumaru walk off before turning back to each other. Koenma gestured back to the window bench seat. "You know, most people, especially human, would do anything to not be selected for the spirit detectives."

"I'm not exactly most people, Koenma-sama." Souta smiled with a glint that reminded him of a certain fox.

"You're bored." That didn't even need a response. Despite the barrier being open, he wasn't allowed into the demon world without an escort and the demons that did make trouble in the human world were caught by their fellow demons before most humans could sense anything off. "That can be bad for a boy of your… pedigree."

"I've heard something like that, yes."

"You know that this isn't the safest job out there."


"And that your family would probably kill me if anything were to happen to you…"


"so… Why?"

"Why not?" came Souta's immediate response, then frowned, thinking it over. "I mean, I'm not exactly normal, so I can't completely fit in with most humans, but I don't have enough demon blood in me to even be considered welcome."

"But Kuwabara is—"

"An exception to the rule, I know. Heh, I've been trained in the Taijiya arts since I could walk. Trained in the holy arts since I can remember and nearly all my friends and/or relatives are at least quarter demon! I lost the chance to be normal when my sister was pulled down that well." He wasn't exactly upset, but more like stating a fact. "I just want to do more than protect a broken-down shrine with a decaying time-well and an ageless tree."

Koenma nodded, imagining just how dull it could be, what with the powerful barrier already in place and not many even knowing (or sensing) the powerful artifacts hidden within its doors. "So you want an adventure?"

Souta shrugged. "I want someplace where I'm not the weird one. I just want a place to belong." Souta looked contemplative, then snapped out of it, startling himself. "Of course I'd work hard, Koenma-sama. I don't want you to choose me just because of who I'm related to. I mean, I…"

Koenma held up a hand, trying to keep a straight face. "I was actually looking at your file before this. We don't usually like to take more than one person in a family, but this time will be an exception. You come with very high recommendations and your enthusiasm for the job is… refreshing, to say the least." Koenma just prayed that Souta's excitement wouldn't boil over until he was done speaking. "And with saying that, will you help me pick out the rest of your teammates?"

"So... That's a yes?" Souta was practically vibrating with excitement.

"Yes, Souta Higurashi, you are hereby a spirit detective." Spirits across Reikai probably heard him with how loud he hollered.

"Kagome! Mom!"

"Yes we, ack! Heard." Kagome laughed as she was picked up by the waist and spun. The boy was acting like he had won the Christmas jackpot with how he was carrying on. Then again, nearly everyone there knew what would happen anyway. Those that weren't downright happy for the boy at least had a tolerant smile. It was inevitable, that the boy would find something that fell under 'not normal' eventually. At least with being under the guardianship of Koenma, he had at least a slightly better chance at survival.

"Now, your first assignment…" Koenma rolled his eyes at Souta's current-lack-of attention. "Your first assignment" Startled, he snapped to attention, hands clasped behind his back. Koenma tried and failed to hide a smirk. He liked this kid's reactions. "… Is to be social. It's more than likely you'll end up having to deal with one or more of these demons in the near future. And its better to be on their good side when you have to deliver some less-than-savory news." Koenma whispered with a wink, looking at some of the more temperamental guests that had sent his messengers back in pieces or not at all and prayed that Souta would last longer than they had.

"Right." Souta gave Koenma a look that screamed distaste, but nodded anyway. "See you around then." Waving, Souta gathered up Kilala and disappeared into the crowd, hopefully to schmooze and not find another corner to sulk in.

"Not exactly the life of adventure he was dreaming of." Yusuke sidled up to the Reikai prince, "Hey Koenma."

"Yusuke." Koenma shook his head. "He'll get to it soon enough. You didn't exactly jump straight into the dark tournament yourself. Then again," Koenma got a look in his eye, "the boy has had years more formal training than you every started with!"

Yusuke nodded in agreement, shocking Koenma. "He has the skill, and the potential, to thrive on the type of work you give people." Yusuke shrugged. "He could be one of the few that actually stay with you for more than a few years."

"We'll see. The boy does have his own plans, after all." A man walked up, scars visible on his hands and face. Alas, with every party guest invited, there had to be at least one crasher. Absently, he rubbed one scar on the side of his neck. "Just make sure he doesn't turn on you when he starts questioning his superiors."

"Uncle K." Yusuke gave Souta's father a curt nod.

"Mutt." He barely acknowledged his nephew before turning back to the demi-god. "The boy can, and will, try to destroy you if he is persuaded to. Watch your neck." Koenma gave a grim nod as the man walked away. The summer five years ago when Souta was to go with his father, he was given the opportunity to train with Sango. It turned into the final straw between the prejudiced Taijiya and those that fought for demon/human equality. It all came to a head at midsummer and during the battle, a surprising amount of Taijiya came out as pro-youkai. A leader without a following was only a menace to those around him. Luckily, he never attempted to speak to Souta in person since his neck healed.

A whistle pierced the din, drawing attention to Kagome by the tables. "In about five minutes, we're going to have cake and presents, so could we all find a seat to get this party started?" A smattering of applause and a shuffling toward couches and folding chairs was her response. Shortly, Kagome herded the kids into the parlor from the dojo, surrounding the cake table. The candles were lit, the song was sung and a round of applause and laughter when he twins smeared icing in each others' faces. Presents were opened and children played, and eventually, when the party wound down, promises were made to stay safe and at least come to next year's party.

At last, Kagome stood up and called for attention. "Thank you very much for coming with me on this journey of life. We had difficult times and wonderful times this past six years and I hope to see you all next year."

Standing up, Inuyasha stood next to his mate and took her hand. "More like five hundred years, love." He gently corrected her and kissed her knuckles. "But either way, thank you all for sticking with us this long. We've experienced each others' pain, pleasure, love and loss. Watching each other grow and grow wiser, gain new friends and lose some old ones." He paused briefly, remembering old Myoga, who had finally passed last year and Kagome's grandfather the year before.

"And as we part for another year," Kagome took another turn, "We thank you from the bottom of our hearts and wish you health and happiness

There we go, I think Inuyasha and Kagome said what I very nearly couldn't: Thank you so much for sticking with me for the past six years, and thank you for my newer fans, who decided to read these past 50 chapters in (mostly, from what I heard) one go. I was planning on naming every single reviewer that ever lifted my spirits these past 6 or so years, but A) you've waited long enough (Sorry about that, I have some… unexpected visitors this summer that seriously cut into my computer time) and B) Who in their right mind would actually read a page or two list of just names?

Good Night, Sweet Dreams and Never stop your Imagination from Running Wild!

Dark (mousy) Inu(yasha) Fan(girl)

Oh, and one more thing: I'm not going to write a sequel to this story, no matter how you beg or plead. Though... if you want to write something about Souta or the Twins, or anybody really, just please tell me and send me a link whenever you put it online!