Disclaimer: No— just… No.

"…" – speech

'…' – thoughts

--- - change in scenery or time


-- Previously, on The Sealed Garden:

-Inuyasha grinned as he noticed the slight spike in her scent.

And then he moved back. "Good."

Kagome turned her head up, pouting at him as she realised he'd been teasing her. "Jerk."

Her only response from the smug hanyou was a smirk.-



Coming Back


"What's taking them so long?" Sango was pacing between two trees. "Why aren't they back yet?"

From his spot next to one of the aforementioned trees, her boyfriend watched with a sort of resigned amusement glued on his face. He silently debated on whether to annoy her or to leave her be, and quickly decided on the former. "You're assuming, of course, that she's found him."

The minutes had crawled by slowly, and Sango's anxiety had grown with every second that passed by since Kagome's departure. The first minutes had been okay, but once they'd accumulated into quarter-hours, and then a half-hour, the exterminator had found the silence quite perturbing. Miroku's attempts to calm her down had failed, and instead, resulted in several small spats.

Spats, such as the one that was developing right now.

She shot him a brief glare. "Of course I am. How hard could it be to find one person?" She raised an eyebrow. "And Inuyasha, of all people."

But as soon as the words had left her mouth, the woman regretted saying them. A sudden, all-knowing expression floated over Miroku's face, as he developed his 'I-know-more-than-you-do' voice. "While it is impossible to actually measure the extent of that land," he began sagely, "I can safely assume that-"

"Oh, shut it." Sango delivered a gentle kick to his backside. "You just love talking about the wrong things at the wrong times, in the wrong places, don't you?"

"What did I say wrong?"

"You got all… monk-y." She made a face.

The man cocked an eyebrow. "If now isn't the time nor the place, then, pray tell, when and where would be?" He stretched his legs out. "Somebody has died, and I was just… enlightening you a little. So when else should I talk about death, eh?"

She pretended to consider the notion, placing an index finger at the corner of her mouth. "Ahhh… Never." She grinned and crouched in front of him, knocking foreheads with her boyfriend.

Miroku swatted her away gently. "You imp."

Laughing, Sango tapped his head with an index finger. "That's the best you can come up with?"

He made a wry face and abruptly lunged forward, pinning her against the ground. "Is it?"

She laughed.

A notable distance away, where the demon lord was standing, a muscle located just under Sesshoumaru's cheek twitched. His eyes were closed, and his fists were notably clenched. He ran a thumb roughly over each knuckle, hearing, as well as feeling, the satisfying 'pop' as each of them cracked. Despite all this, the dead give-away feature of the dog-demon's annoyance was the steadily tightening jaw-line.

In the past, he'd thought that the only things potent enough to irritate him were Inuyasha, Jaken-his retainer, incompetence, and Inuyasha.

It seemed that he'd been proved wrong.

Sesshoumaru glanced at his watch and felt that same blasted muscle twitch again; it'd been well over an hour since that girl- Kagome- had left to find his brother and bring him back. How long did they intend on keeping them waiting?

His gaze strayed to the left, brushing over the figures of the monk and the exterminator. The demon had had to deal with over an hour of the couple's constant bickering. And although it had been somewhat… minutely amusing in the beginning, their antics had quickly grown to become no more entertaining than watching a mouldy sock.

If he'd thought enduring them had been tiring in the car, then it was near unbearable here. At least he'd been driving the car, but here, there was almost nothing that could distract his attention from the humans. For one thing, if they weren't fighting, then they were being far too cute and loving for his tastes. They were far too affectionate, and in his opinion, really needed to 'Get. A. Room'.

Briefly, Sesshoumaru wondered on whether their actions were to be blamed on the female's obvious conception, but quickly dismissed the thought before it got too out of hand.

Just then, the loud smack of flesh connecting with flesh echoed through the space, causing Sesshoumaru's eyes to flicker towards the humans again. As the situation registered in his brain, the dog-demon closed his eyes in an almost pained grimace. A short, barely audible sigh escaped his lips.

"Stop doing that!" Sango was holding her hand up, her other arm positioned protectively over her chest. "Gods, you are such a pervert!" Her face was a deep, dark shade of magenta.

Of course, the man's hands had been wandering again. One would think that after all this time, she'd be used to her 'special treatment'.

Miroku stared, wide-eyed, at the perpetrating hand. "But I didn't do it!" A red mark on his face testified to where Sango's palm had met his cheek just seconds ago. He rubbed it with his other hand. "I don't know what happened."

The woman's expression turned dangerously dark. "Don't lie to me. I saw you."

"I swear it!" Miroku waved his hands desperately in front of her face. "I really didn't mean it this time! It's like it had a mind of its own…"

Her eyes rolled. "That's your excuse every time. If I didn't believe it before, why would I now?" Sango sighed, rubbing her temples. "And to think… you're a monk." She threw her hands up.

"It's true!" He protested vehemently. "I really didn't… didn't… tell it to do that… this time." The man stumbled over his words, trying to find the right ones. "I didn't… want it to move."

"Right. Like your hand just suddenly developed a will of its own and wanted to grope me." She glared at him. "More like you did it from habit."

"But-" The man's eyes grew wider, as his left hand began to lift all by itself. "Look! It's doing it again!"

Sango rolled her eyes again, crossing her arms. "Just drop the act. No matter what you do, I still won't believe y— what are you doing?" Miroku's hand had suddenly flown forwards, almost dragging the man himself across the grass. Fingers outstretched, it reached out for her chest again. The woman leaned back, her expression still disbelieving and slightly disgusted now. "Stop it!"

"I-- I'm trying!" Despite his cries, however, Miroku's hand continued to grope for her chest. "I can't…" His face twisted from the effort of controlling the unresponsive hand. "Wait…" He leaned back forcefully, trying to pull the appendage away from his girlfriend. "…Whoa!" The hand had abruptly stopped moving, and the man was left to careen backwards and to land ungracefully onto his posterior.

A muttered string of expletives spilled from his mouth as he sat up, rubbing the injured area.

Concern having been roused, Sango moved to his side. She placed a hand on his shoulder. "Are you okay?"

He turned his face to her. "Just peachy." His expression was flat to mach his tone. "Thanks for asking." Although he really couldn't blame the girl for not believing her, Miroku just wished she had a little more faith in him.

The exterminator frowned at him again. "Don't take that tone with me. It's your fault you landed like that."

"My fault?" Miroku's mouth dropped open. "It was my fault my hand started moving on its own?"

"It's your fault you overdid the acting." She corrected him and shook her head. "And it's your fault you won't admit it."

The monk sighed. "I wasn't acting." He lifted his left hand, studying it. "I really couldn't control it." He stared at it with the utmost concentration. "Something…" Holding it limply, he flicked it with his right hand. "Something was wrong…"

Sango's lips thinned; maybe he really was telling the truth? She leaned forward to examine the hand. "If you're telling the truth- and I'm not saying you are," she looked at it curiously, "then what happ-" Her body stiffened as she broke off mid-sentence. The woman's eyes narrowed ominously. "What is your hand doing?"

Miroku blinked in confusion, wriggling his fingers. "It's not doing anything." He cocked his head to the side, still staring at the appendage. "Why?"

"Not that one… Your other hand." Her voice sounded oddly forced, for some reason.

"Hmm?" He flexed his right hand and realised, with some confusion, that there was something in it. Something that was soft and warm, and that felt rather familiar, to be more precise. "Wha…?" The man turned his head, and his mouth opened in surprise. "Oh… oh…" He caught a look of Sango's face, and gulped. "Oh… shit…" Miroku slowly and carefully removed the guilty appendage from where it had been resting on the girl's backside. "Ahh…" He cringed as her eyes narrowed further. "Sorry?"

"And I suppose it was moving on its own again?" Sango's voice was low and venomous, almost trembling with her ire.

The man backed away slowly. "I don't quite know what happened…" She turned her face to look at him, and he flinched. "I won't do it again?"

She rose to her feet. The background seemed to darken, and the woman's form towered considerably over the shrinking Miroku. "Run, little piggy. Run."

He bolted.

Sesshoumaru eyed the scene lazily, watching as the exterminator leapt up and gave chase.

"Come back here, you pervert!"

"Promise you won't hurt me first!"

The demon let out a slow breath at the situation. At first, he'd thought that the monk had been acting at his own perverted discretion, but now something strange was prompting him to think otherwise.

His eyes narrowed as he sensed something approaching. It seemed to be edging closer from in front, even though there appeared to be nothing there. Sesshoumaru brought his hand, almost casually, to rest on Tenseiga's hilt. He gazed forward with a stoic expression, trusting his sense of smell to combat this invisible entity.

After another moment's hesitation, he drew his sword in a sudden whirl, and positioned it with the tip pointed at something in front of him. "Touch me, and I ensure you that you will cease to exist, Inuyasha"

And just as suddenly, his brother's form flashed to visibility. "How the hell did you know?"

Sesshoumaru gazed at him cooly. The half-demon looked the same as ever, although his outfit was rather questionable for this era. He edged the sword closer to the half-demon's neck and almost smirked as Inuyasha flinched at the touch of cold steel.

The younger brother wore an expression of confusion tinged with a little disappointment. He'd wanted so badly to embarrass the demon, but once again, Sesshoumaru had been one step ahead of him. One of his ears fidgeted. He flicked the blade that was pointed threateningly at his neck. "And why can I touch this thing?"

Pulling Tenseiga away, Sesshoumaru stared solidly at the half-demon. "Your stench is powerful, even as a spirit." He sheathed the magical blade. "And Tenseiga is not a sword of the physical world. Satisfied?"

Inuyasha shrugged.

A silence stretched between them.

The dog-demon regarded his brother emotionlessly. "Are you ready?"

"Ready for what?"

"To be revived."

Hopping into the air, the hanyou floated lazily. "I don't know… being like this is actually kind of fun…" He secretly relished the look of annoyance on his brother's face, and decided to egg him on some more. "I might stay a little longer…" Flicking his wrist, Inuyasha sent a breeze of wind at the demon lord.

Narrowing his eyes against the gust, Sesshoumaru stiffened. "You would make I, Sesshoumaru, wait for you?" The demon scowled ever so slightly as his irritation rose. Nerves already having been strained by Sango and Miroku, he was not in an even remotely negotiable mood at the moment. "And I suggest you think carefully before answering."

"Yes, in fact, I would." Inuyasha smirked. "I don't have to go back if I don't have to. And you can't do anything about it." He sniggered as he noticed the twitching muscle in the demon's cheek.

Anger fully roused, the dog-demon half-drew Tenseiga threateningly. "Say that again, little brother." His voice was soft. Dangerous.

"What?" He cocked an eyebrow, seeming not to notice Sesshoumaru's ire. "You mean, 'And you can't do anything abou—'"


The hanyou suddenly recoiled. "Damn."

Behind him, a wrathful looking girl appeared. Feeling her presence, Inuyasha faltered and dropped back to the ground. "You promised me!" Kagome grabbed and tugged non-too-gently on a dog-ear. "You played your prank on Miroku, now stop harassing your brother!"

From somewhere in the distance, Miroku cried out triumphantly. "Hah! I told you it wasn't me!"

"I am not harassing him." Inuyasha tilted his head back and shouted back, "The first couple of times was me, but that last grope you had…" He drifted off and grinned evilly as the monk gave a yelp.


The hanyou's smile widened.

Kagome sighed. "Come on. Let's go." She gave another tug, this one gentler than the others. "Time to live."

The half-demon turned and pouted. "But why? Why now?"

The miko crossed her arms. "Because you promised me." She paused for consideration. "And besides, you don't want your body to rot, do you?"

Glowering, Inuyasha mimicked her pose, edging his ear from her grasp. "So what if it rots? Tenseiga can always revive it."

"Inu-yash-a." Kagome drew his name out. "May I remind you that I know more about my powers than you do?" She held up a curled hand threateningly. "I can still purify you."

He backed away. "Fine. Meanie."

She stuck her tongue out at him.

By this time, Sango had grown tired of chasing the perverted monk, and the both of them had gathered next to the bickering couple. They watched the exchange with considerable interest before she broke in. "So… what took you two so long?" The exterminator peered that them curiously.

"Yeah." Miroku was nursing his cheek, although it probably wasn't the only injured body part. "What did take you so long?" He gave the both of them a suggestive wink. The man smiled widely as Kagome's cheeks flamed, and as the hanyou's expression darkened considerably.

"Sango, if you would?" The woman complied with Inuyasha's request, smacking the monk over the head. "Thanks. We weren't doing anything. And is there ever a time when you're not perverted?"

He grinned sheepishly. "We still have to find out." His expression grew somewhat serious. "So, how's it like?" Miroku leaned against a young oak, attempting and failing to mask a wince.

"How's what like?" The hanyou's eyes narrowed at the possibility of another lewd question.


Sango frowned. "Don't be so insensitive."

Inuayasha hopped into the air again, flaunting his skills to the others. "It was sort of a big nothing." He shrugged. "There was pain and all that stuff, but then… nothing. I guess that's when I died. When I woke up, I was dressed in this," the half-demon tugged at his red haori, "and I was in a forest. After a while of waiting, she finally showed up." He glanced at Kagome from the corner of his eye. "What took you so long, anyway?"

The miko shrugged, feeling her face heat up with indignation at the critical voice. "You're not supposed to be able to meet up with other people there. You should be grateful I even found my way." She glowered at him. "Finding you wasn't easy."

Scowling, the demon was about to fire back what promised to be a sharp rebuttal, but his brother interrupted him. "That is all very fascinating," Sesshoumaru's voice dripped with sarcasm. "But you can continue your discussion after the halfling is living again." He stalked off towards his brother's physical body, patience obviously having worn out.

Exchanging glances at the eruption, in Sesshoumaru-standards, Sango and Miroku followed after the demon. Inuyasha hung back for a while, until he felt Kagome's finger drilling into his back. "Move."

He turned around and flashed her a pout. But her expression was resolute, and he sighed. The half-demon let his gaze wander skyward, and noted idly that sunrise was only a few minutes away. Then, he allowed himself to be pushed forward. "Can't we do this later?" Inuyasha whined quietly. "It's cool like this." He heard her sigh. "And besides, don't you like it better?"

Kagome reached around and gently clasped his hand. "There are things more important than what I like or not. We still have to figure out what to do with Naraku and the Jewel." She squeezed and smiled as he squeezed back. "And I promise, that we'll work things out after. Okay?" She cocked her head to the side, and her nose wrinkled. "Didn't we talk about this before?"

The hanyou grunted his assent. "Maybe you'd changed your mind?"

"Nope." The girl released her hold on him and pushed forward to join the others, but a tug on the back of her shirt made her pause. Kagome sighed. "What is it now?" She turned back.

"Just one more thing…" Inuyasha frowned, as if thinking hard. His gaze travelled behind Kagome, to study the curtain of trees that blocked them from where the others were standing. After a while, he seemed to have made his decision, and lightly pulled her to him. "Before it's too late…" He dipped his head down, and gently pressed his lips against hers in a spontaneous kiss.

Kagome felt her breath catch and her eyes widen at the unexpected caress. Her hands pressed instinctively against his chest, about to push him away. However, a funny, tingling warmth spread out through her body, and she smiled slightly before allowing herself to relax. Her eyes slowly drifted shut and she allowed herself to enjoy the embrace. The half-demon didn't seem to plan on letting go of her any time soon, so the miko just sighed and lightly grasped at the material that covered his chest.

After a few more seconds, the two separated. The corners of Inuyasha's mouth quirked upwards at the slight blush that warmed her cheeks. "Still want me to go back?"

"Oh, Inuyasha." Kagome gave him a weak glare before turning around, tugging on his hand. "Don't do that. Come on." She tried to make herself sound cheerful, but couldn't keep the slight edge of disappointment from tinting her tone. She would miss him and being able to be with him, instead of just around him.

But she had to think practical, and having Inuyasha alive was the best choice. Besides, her priestess training had always taught her to make sacrifices for the general good of others. She would never be able to alleviate the guilt if Inuyasha stayed a spirit just for her.

She squared her shoulders determinedly and walked forward.

As the coupled emerged from behind their covering, they were met with the confused, curious, and annoyed looks that belonged to Miroku, Sango, and Sesshoumaru, respectively.

"What took so long?" The monk scratched his head.

The hanyou smirked, though it lacked its usual edge. "Do you really think we're going to tell you?"

Miroku gaped at them silently, and slowly, a lewd grin began making its way up his face. Sango stared at them silently, noting the expression on her friends' faces, and absently whacked her boyfriend over the head.

He started. "What?"

"Bad thoughts." She turned and glared at him pointedly. "What they do doesn't concern you."

Sesshoumaru gave a barely distinguishable snarl of impatience and without a word of warning, drew Tenseiga. He shot a glance of annoyance at his brother, and turned to the body. Before Inuyasha could even respond to the action, the elder brother had swept the sword over the half-demon's body, effectively eliminating the impish creatures that were waiting for a soul to take.

And suddenly the spirit, Inuyasha vanished into thin air.

The humans stared at where he had stood just moments earlier for a while, before moving their gazes to rest onto the hanyou's body. Slowly, but perceptively, small changes began to break out over the body. The blood gradually faded away until Inuyasha's skin and hair was left clean again. The bruises that spotted his chest and cheek also vanished.

Gradually, the half-demon's body healed, until the only injury left was the fatal one in his abdomen. Soon enough, that too disappeared, and Inuyasha's human body was left clean and whole again.

It was then, that the sun chose to rise, and as the first rays of light caressed the landscape, Inuyasha began another transformation. The black hair whitened until it gleamed with a silvery sheen. As the half-demon began to stir with life, his nails grew longer and sharpened to claws. He groaned, and his opened mouth revealed sharp and gleaming canines.

Finally, Inuyasha cracked his eyes open, and the group watched, as the pupils became slitted and lightened back to an amber colour. The hanyou blinked bemusedly at the fascinated faces that stared down at him, before the sight finally registered in his mind, and he barked out, "What the hell are you looking at?" He hopped to his feet, cracking his neck and knuckles.

The others scattered.

"You're all healed." Sango stared at him in wonder. "How do you feel?"

The hanyou shrugged, rubbing his bare stomach. "Sore." He paused, then added, "And kind of hungry." He stretched and grimaced as several joints cracked.

"That's amazing." Miroku stepped forward and poked the skin that covered his friend's abdomen. "Just a few minutes ago, there was nothing here."

Inuyasha swatted the man's finger away. "Don't touch me." He caught sight of his brother, and a frown swept over his face. For a moment, he was silent and appeared to be thinking seriously. "Yeah, uh, Sesshoumaru, I guess…" He closed his eyes with a pained expression. "I guess I owe you a-"

"You were an experiment I tested Tenseiga on." The demon cut in roughly. "There is nothing to thank." He sheathed his sword.

Taken back, the hanyou shot back, "Who said I was going to thank you?" But despite his coarse tone, Inuyasha knew that everything was perfectly even between himself and his brother. He swept his blood-stained shirt off the floor and pulled it on. Unfortunately, this didn't do much to cover his body on account of the rips, tears, and holes in it.

Noting the silence that still came from the one other person in the area, the half-demon turned to glance at Kagome. Her expression seemed slightly sad and far away, as if her mind was wandering somewhere else.


The girl started and focused onto his face. "Huh? Oh. Ah… It's nice to see you're back to normal." Silently, he continued to stare at her, causing her to squirm uncomfortably. "What?" She turned away.

Inuyasha glanced around, fixing a pointed look onto the other three. They stared back blankly, until Sango finally got the message and began pulling Miroku towards the exit. "We'll get some food and supplies from the house."

Her boyfriend cottoned on as well. "Yeah. It's probably not safe in there anymore, so it might take awhile." He thought about it for a moment. "And I'll call Higurashi-san too." He continued to babble, thus further annoying his friend. "And I think I'll put some spells around the house as well. It can't hurt to have some extra protection, right?"

The muscle just under the half-demon's eye twitched with annoyance. "Just go, will you?" Miroku gave him a bemused look, and then obediently trailed Sango out of the garden. He paused at the doorway and ripped off one of the ofuda spells, ensuring that Sesshoumaru would have no trouble getting out as well.

Said demon gazed silently at the two prone figures before giving a dismissing 'hmph'. The demon then turned around and followed the humans without a word. Inuyasha continued to glare at the door until it had closed shut.

Satisfied, the half-demon turned around… to catch Kagome trying to sneak into the forest.

"Where do you think you're going?" He jumped to his feet.

She stopped dead in her tracks. After a pause, the miko turned and gave him a nervous, unconvincing smile. "I thought you wanted to be alone," she paused, then added slowly, "so I'm leaving you alone."

Inuyasha scowled at her. "You have to stay."


"Because, we nee-… I want to talk."

Kagome stared at him. "You want to talk? About what?" She feigned confusion and continued to edge closer to the eaves of the forest. "Are you trying something new?"

He sighed and crooked a finger. "Come back here."

"I don't want to."

The half-demon felt a flare of impatience rise up within him. "Just get over here, wench!"

Kagome's own annoyance rose to the occasion. "Don't call me wench!"



Despite himself, a corner of Inuyasha's mouth lifted. "Woman."

"I am a woman." She raised an eyebrow.

"Annoying woman."

Kagome bowed. "Thank you." She smiled slightly, forgetting her exasperation.

He shook his head, taking a few steps closer to her. "Are you okay?"

"Okay? Why shouldn't I be?" The brief happiness brought by the short argument faded away.

"You don't seem that happy." Inuyasha crossed his arms. "Something's wrong, isn't it?"

The girl shrugged self-consciously. "No. I'm perfectly fine."

His eyes narrowed. "Spit it out."

She crossed her arms as well. "Spit what out?"

"Whatever you're hiding."

"I'm not hiding anything."

Inuyasha felt a growl growing at the back of his throat. "Why won't you tell me?"

"What is there to tell?" Kagome fired back.

The hanyou pulled out his last card. "You don't trust me, do you?" He pulled on the most pathetic face he could manage.

She was almost moved by the look, but the miko strengthened her stubbornness. "Of course I do." She frowned at him. "But that doesn't mean I have to tell you everything."

He brought a hand to his forehead from frustration. "Come on! You know one of my secrets; shouldn't I get to know one of yours?"

She frowned. "What secret?"

"I turn human on the night of the new moon."

Kagome scowled. "I found that out entirely by accident. It doesn't count"

Inuyasha mustered a look that was even more pitiful look than the last. "Please?"

Shifting uncomfortably, the woman tried not to be affected. But alas, it was a losing cause, and she felt her resolve shatter. Kagome bit her lip and tried to think of a way to phrase her words. "Remember when we talked back in that other place?" She avoided looking into his face.

"Yeah." He narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "Why?"

"Well, I might have…" She trailed off into a mumble.

The hanyou leaned in closer. "What?" His ears twitched.

Kagome glanced skyward. "I might not have told the whole truth."

He stiffened. "About what?"

She seemed to ignore him. "Well, actually, I might have promised you something that I… don't think is possible."

Inuyasha clenched his hands. "What?"

"I don't think…" She took in a deep breath. "I don't think I can be made alive again."

Surprised, he stared at her for a few moments. He felt uncertainty drop onto his shoulders, and tried to shrug it off with a scoff. "Of course you can." He coughed, trying to disguise his doubt. "Tenseiga can do it."

Kagome argued back, "But it there needs to be a body for it to heal! Do you see my body lying somewhere here?" For effect, she waved her arms around her. A short breeze seemed to respond to the action, swirling around her.

The half-demon closed his eyes, mastering himself and his feelings. When he next spoke, his tone was filled with determination. "We'll find it. Don't worry." He gave her a mildly curious look. "Have you ever actually looked for it?"

"…No." She sighed. "But I'm just warning you now. If reviving me doesn't work, don't get too down." The woman swallowed thickly. "And if anything goes wrong, I don't want you moping over me, okay?" She held up her hand when he opened his mouth. "Wait. Promise me, that if anything…. Anything happens, you won't do anything rash?"

Inuyasha's insides had chilled at her request. "Wh-what are you planning?"

Kagome faltered at the displeased look on his face. "Nothing." She spoke a little too quickly to put his fears to rest.

"Don't lie to me." He glared at her.

"I'm not." At his continued look of disbelief, she explained. "It's just that, Naraku's pretty powerful, and he might do… something. He's desperate, and… he'll probably do anything to get the Jewel." The miko hesitated. "I'm saying that if he does something to me, you should get out of there. Okay?" Kagome mustered a winning smile. "Please?"

The half-demon paused. After a while, his features set, and he took in a strengthening breath. Inuyasha squared his shoulders and looked directly into her face. "I can't."

Kagome cast her eyes downward. "Can't what?" She appeared to be bracing herself for the worst.

Inuyasha's answer was short. "I can't promise you that." He turned and began walking away.


"There is no way in hell I'm leaving if something happens." He fired his words over his shoulder in a way that ended the discussion. "You should know that by now." Before she could respond, Inuyasha yanked open one of the double doors. "Hey- whoa!" He'd been about to shout, but something unexpected cut the yell off sharply.

The half-demon leapt backwards, narrowly missing being crushed by his best friend and his mate, who'd come crashing to the floor. Regaining his composure, he glowered at them, now knowing full well that they'd probably been crouched at the door the whole time, eavesdropping on the conversation/argument. They shared identical, guilty expressions.

"What were you doing?" He gritted his teeth.

Miroku flashed an unconvincing grin at him. "We were going to come in, and you opened the door." He waited as Sango got off of him and wince as she pressed against a particularly tender area. "We pushed, you pulled, we fell down."

Inuyasha rubbed his forehead. "You expect me to believe that?"

"Well…" He drifted off.

Sango jumped to the man's aid. "We did bring supplies." She opened the door, revealing a large pile of things. Food, his backpack, and several other packages topped off the heap. "So, even if we heard anything…" The girl caught Miroku waving his hands and making slitting actions across his throat, and quickly added, "which we didn't, we wouldn't have heard much anyway."

The half-demon eyed her suspiciously, but let it drop. "Fine."

"What?" His friend snapped his fingers. "You'll believe her, but not me?"

"You shouldn't be surprised." Inuyasha half turned, caught Kagome's expression… and inwardly winced. The look she was sending to him was far from assuring. As the common phrase went, 'If looks could kill…' He turned hurriedly back to the others, all business once more. "So, where's Sesshoumaru?"

Miroku jabbed his thumb towards the exit. "Outside."

And without another word, the half-demon quickly sailed out of the garden.

Sango turned to glance at the miko, and she too, noted her displeased expression. "Hey, Miroku."


"Can you go get my katana? I think I left it in the car."

The man scratched his head. "But I could have sworn you brought it…" She shot him a meaningful glare. "…Right. Car. I'll go look." He shot out of the garden as well, not willing to face another bout with the girl.

"Kagome-chan…" Sango moved over to stand beside the spirit. "What's wrong?"

Heaving a sigh, Kagome turned to face her. "He's being thick-headed again." She dropped to assume a cross-legged position over the grass. "Is it so hard to just listen to somebody once in a while?"

The exterminator joined her on the ground. "For Inuyasha? Of course it is. He's used to having his way, after how he was treated as a kid."

Kagome's interest rose. "He was? I though he had a horrible childhood."

"He did." Sango stretched her arms. "His mother died, and his father didn't pay much attention to him. Sesshoumaru couldn't stand him, so he was raised by the servants." She glanced at the miko from the corner of her eye. "I don't suppose he ever told you about Myouga?"

"No. He never told me anything about his childhood."

"Myouga was, well, he is this flea demon. I think he was the closest retainer to Mamoru-sama- his father." She paused and shook her head. "Doesn't matter. Anyway, he felt sorry for Inuyasha after both parents died, and was pretty much the one who brought him up. He was a bit of a pushover though, and that's part of why Inuyasha's used to getting his way, I guess."

Kagome nodded. "I see."

"The other servants used to be scared to death of him, because he had a bad temper; even as a child." Sango sighed. "They listened to everything he said, and if it was possible, stayed as far from him as possible."

The miko seemed to be getting more depressed.

Sango sighed. "Look, Kagome-chan, I know it's frustrating that he won't listen to you, but you have to understand that it's because he cares about you so much."

The woman turned her eyes to look at her. "How do you know?" She sounded desperate and accusing at the same time. "I want the best for him, but he won't even listen to what I have to say."

Sango smiled reassuringly. "You know you're the only person to have trusted him as soon as you saw him? He and Miroku met early in junior high, and couldn't stand each other. It was a long time before they learned to be friends." She paused for thought. "At least, that's what Miroku told me."

Kagome's looked at her curiously. "How about you?"

"I met him during college." She sighed, shaking her head. "It was the first time Miroku groped me, and he hit him. I remember trying to avoid the both of them for quite a while; I thought they were weird." The girl shrugged. "But he grew on me. Both, I mean."

For a while, the two sat there in silence. One, reminiscing about her past, and the other, thinking on the present.

"Tell me more?" Kagome's voice was questioning. "Can you tell me more about his past?"

Sango hesitated. "Shouldn't you ask him instead?"

Her friend sighed. "I don't think we're on talking terms right now."

The exterminator remained silent, thinking. Finally, she seemed to come to a decision, and smiled slightly. "I guess telling you what I know won't hurt." She winked. "Being with his best friend has its high points, even if he is a pervert." The somewhat weak joke worked, drawing a soft giggle from Kagome. "So, what would you like to know?"

"Has he ever had any…" The miko drifted off. "No, that's too personal. I can't…"

Sango appeared unperturbed. "Has he ever gone out with anyone else?" At her friend's blank look, she elaborated. "Had any other… lovers?"

She flushed scarlet.

"I think he only had one. During junior high, but that's all I know." She shrugged helplessly. "I don't even know her name. Sorry."

"It's okay." Kagome was just about to ask another question, when the doors opened, and all three men came in at once. She immediately cut herself off, and the two women tried to make themselves seem as innocent as possible.

She caught Inuyasha's gaze, and noticed the suddenly relieved expression that settled over his features. Kagome frowned. Had he been afraid of her? She gave him a questioning look, and he scowled, somewhat embarrassed. Thankfully, his preoccupation over worrying about her anger at their last discussion caused him to overlook the suspicious situation…

"So, what have you girls been talking about?" Miroku jiggled the staff he'd retrieved from the ground. The question made Inuyasha frown, and he stared curiously at the both of them.

…or not.

"Nothing." Sango answered brusquely. "We weren't talking about anything."

The half-demon eyed them skeptically, but one look at the miko's frowning disposition successfully made him swallow any remarks. He managed to mumble a weak, "Whatever."

Miroku seemed surprised that he dropped the topic so quickly. "Aren't you curious…?"

"No." Inuyasha gave him a pointed look.

He sighed. "Fine."

Sesshoumaru broke into the resulting silence. "Girl." He rested his gaze on Kagome. The others snapped sharply to attention, and the atmosphere suddenly became tense.

Her eyes widened when she realised he was talking to her. "Yes?"

"Tell me about the Shikon, and why Naraku would want it." At the mere mention of the shape-shifter's name, Inuyasha's demeanour darkened, and his fists tightened.

She frowned. "It will take a long time to get all the facts straight."

The dog-demon's lips seemed to thin. "Then you'd better be comfortable."

There was a terse silence.

"Hey, lighten up." The monk tried to brighten the heavy mood. "What is this- a council of war?" He was speared by four serious looks, and his cheerful expression faltered.

After an uncomfortable pause, Sango answered his rhetorical question. "It very well might be."

Review Responses:

Re: Wow, that was great.
Say, whatever happened to Kikyou?

Well, Kikyou's in the past, she's dead, and her existence isn't that important to the plot. I doubt you'll be reading too much more of her in this story…

-- Terrasina Dragonwagon
Re: Aw. Fluffiness. They're so cute.
...Would it not work for Sesshy to just use Tenseiga on Kagome? Or is the problem there simply that she doesn't know where her body is, and therefore Sesshy can't get at it either?
...Meh. Update soon! I'm very curious about this prank thing.

I'm assuming that Tenseiga needs a body (or at least ashes) in order to heal it, and since nobody knows where Kagome's body is, the option of reviving her through that method is non-existent. Basically, you got it right in your second sentence. -.-;; Another reason? Using Tenseiga would be too easy for my tastes… and besides, I want Inuyasha to bring her back, don't you? ;)
And the prank. I don't think I lived up to expectations for that one… -.-;;

Re: just came across this fanfic, and I have to say... it's marvelous. You've handle an AU with care- something that few people do, and you've also given many original ideas to a use and over used theme, making it look completely fresh. I love your characters- Miroku, Sango, Inuyasha .. they all sound like the characters from the manga. Kagome's slightly different- but you covered her difference so utterly that it's completely believable. Not only am I adding you to my favourites, but I'm also recommending this fic on the Green Tea forum. You deserve it, this fic is fantastic. Keep it up, and I hope to see an update soon.
PS: I loved the little scene between Inuyasha and Kagome. Of course, naughty little me would like something more (to quote VGCats "Have sex, damnit!" ...just kidding! Actually I was thinking of a kiss...) but it was very appropriately done. More than that would have been rushed for the couple- especially for Inuyasha.. even though when it really hits him that he won't be able to touch her for a good while... I don't see him behaving rationally.
I loved this fic. I'll be keeping a sharp eye out for it.

Oh, my goodness. I must thank you for the praise and the recommendation as well. However, I don't think I deserve all of it right now… I now find some of the content in the beginning chapters to be slightly tedious to read. As soon as I finish this story, I'm going to go back and edit, so that I can make this story as good as you make it sound! Just out of curiosity, what is the 'Green Tea forum'?
And the kiss? I added that in this chapter (You read VGCats too? Hilarious, isn't it?). A little hurried, but, hey, it might be their last moment to truly be 'together'… And I hope nobody takes that last bit too badly.


Many Thanks to:

Mini Nicka
ever free
silens letum
Elfin Kagome
Inu-chan's luver
ILOVEINU589 –('Coolio'. What scares me is that my English teacher says that. A lot.)
inu-n-kag fanatic527
ixchen –(Please refer to Terrasina Dragonwagon's answer. …I'm lazy.)
Chelley Angel
Ryous-Crystal –(Despite your best wishes, the writer's block still consumed me. -.-;;)
Sarcasm Girl8

--::Sigh:: Yes, I made all of you wait for a month, and for a boring transition chapter, too! I have my excuses, but I'm sure you all would rather I spend my time on writing instead of explaining them to you, no?
Hopefully, you'll forgive me, and not make my punishments too severe… -.-;;
I didn't realise many of you would have such expectations to what prank Inuyasha was going to pull, and I think that threw me off a bit… -.-;;
Oh, and I've decided that I'm going to respond to all reviews my email, from now on. It's just too wide a time-margin between chapters, and I'm sure that many of you forget your questions/comments. The review responses also take up quite a bit of space in the chapter, and sometimes add too many words to the work count. So, if you review anonymously, I'd appreciate it if you left your email address. But if you do have a question, and don't give me your email, I'll just put your answer at the end of each chapter. Like always.

Till next time… (And let's hope that's not too far away)