When inspiration hits, just go with the flow... This idea came to me while I was reading "Antigone" in English Class (a looong time ago), and I came across an excerpt describing love that totally stuck to me.

Ah, Greek drama…(starry eyes) So pretty! Except everyone usually dies in the end.

This is a Sess/Kag one-shot, taking place after the defeat of Naraku. Most of it will be in Sesshomaru's POV. Not an AU fic! Genre is Romance/Angst, and you I shall warn you now, there are character deaths (yes, as in more than one person) in this fanfic. BTW, this will be a very loooong one-shot.

Leave chocolate turtles (and reviews) when you're all done! Kap-king!

Disclaimer: Please don't make me cry…

Love, unconquerable

Waster of rich men, keeper

Of warm lights and all-night vigil

In the face of a girl:

Sea wanderer, forest visitor!

Even the pure immortals cannot escape you,

And mortal man, in his one day's dusk,

Trembles before your glory

Surely you swerve upon ruin

The just man's consenting heart,

As here you have made bright anger

Strike between father and son—

And none has conquered but Love!

A girl's glance working the will of heaven:

Pleasure to her alone who mocks us,

Merciless Aphrodite

— Sophacles

Even Immortals Fall

By: Youkai Yume

There was nothing left…

I could feel nothing but the soft caress of a gentle touch. I could see nothing but the infinite darkness. My acute youkai senses seemed to fail me, and yet nothing seemed clearer to my conscious, than the sweet scent of sakura blossoms and jasmine that wrapped around my senses…my being.

Slowly, I found myself opening my tired eyes to the world around me; the dark haze lifting from my vision as everything cleared. As soon as I blinked awake, the searing pain that engulfed my body also became clear.

Every part of me ached…from my weary muscles spreading to my immovable limbs. I had begun to wonder how someone such as myself had gotten into such a condition. The musty scent of earth and fresh rain filled my nostrils, and I realized that I was lying in a damp cave.

The sound of dripping water could be heard as it leaked through the cracks of stone and splashed onto the cold ground. But I found myself forgetting about my surroundings and even the cause of my current state as my mind focused on something else.

The scent that plagued me in my dark slumber still lingered, if had not grown stronger, for it was more apparent to me than the scent of wet earth. It was soft and sweet, yet not overly so as if to seem sickening. It calmed me in a sense, and yet all the while it was so very familiar to me…

It hurt to move, but I could not help but see…I turned my head in the direction of the scent, my eyes catching the figure of a girl (human, judging from her frail appearance and vague scent) sitting not far from where I lay.

She was staring blankly outside; watching as soft rains fell from the gray sky. Her aura radiated a strong sadness that reflected the weather outside, so much so that I almost found it suffocating. She was completely still, her back facing me.

I parted my lips to speak—to demand her attention, (no human has ever had their back turned to this demon lord) but when I tried to form words, I could emanate nothing but a strangled sound that came out almost as a choke. My throat was completely parched and dry.

It was now that I truly felt the searing pain in my body. As I struggled to sit up, a burning sensation tore at my insides.

Hearing my movements and gasps for breath, the girl turned around to see me. My mind was still a bit hazy, but never in a million years could I forget those sapphire orbs. My half-brother's wench…Kagome…

At once she hurried to me, kneeling by my side. If it had not been for my parched throat, I would've growled a warning at her to stay away, and yet I think she knew of my animosity towards her by just the mere look in my eyes, the restlessness in my aura.

Perhaps I was giving her too much credit…she ignored me all the same and proceeded to quickly pour water into a miniature cup. I could feel her small hand slip behind my head, her fingers burying into my hair as she lifted me slightly from the ground, bringing the cup to my lips and tilting it so that I could drink.

I know I should be angry with her for daring to even touch me, to care for me as she did. But I let my thirst override my judgement, letting the much-welcomed liquid pour down my dehydrated throat as I drank deeply to the very last drop.

She cradled my head gently, my hand went up instinctively to grasp the cup that she was holding to my lips and for one moment, our eyes locked in the dark cave. Soft sapphire to mine cold orbs of gold. And yet none other emotion shone more than sadness and regret…it was more suffocating than her human scent and aura.

I pulled the comforting cup away from my lips, setting a stern and calculating gaze on my brother's wench. She did nothing but stare back.

"Human, what do you think you are doing?" I bit out coldly, finding my voice again. Despite what had just transpired, I could not find myself giving gratitude, especially to her.

"Helping you," She said, to my mild surprise, in a quietly calm voice. I narrowed my gaze as she set me back down. I at once felt a slight surge of anger through me, though my face did not give sign of it.

Here I was in some dim, cold cave with a human girl…who had at one time fought with her arrows pointed at me. And now she was here…helping me as if I was a vulnerable child. And I hated it. I hated it because of the mere fact that I, at the moment, cannot do anything to stop her. After all, I can barely move…

I hated feeling weak.

"Mind your own business, wench. I need help from no one, and especially not the likes of you."

The miko said nothing, shifting slightly to where she sat before and continued to stare off into the rain with what I assumed to be the same sad look. It surprised me. I had half expected her to burst out in anger, as she had so often done around my brother.

Her temperament was not exactly one of a level head.

The rain continued to fall outside, the light pitter-patter giving a soothing rhythm that would lull even the most restless of children to sleep. But I found myself unable to fall back into the realm of dreams…even though my eyelids drooped with the longing of sleep, and my body ached for numbing darkness.

I still did not remember how I had gotten in such a state. Only vague flashes of blood and cries could be seen and heard in my head. Not enough to jog my memory. I turned my head to gaze at the miko once more in the intentions of demanding an answer.

It was then that I noticed it, and I narrowed my eyes at wondering why I had not before. Perhaps my senses were still a bit dull from waking. Perhaps it was the overwhelming scent of sakura, rain, and the earth, mixed that deterred me.

But I could smell it so very clearly now: the scent of blood. Not mine, but hers. My golden eyes trailed once more to her frail body. Scratches, deep gashes and cuts were engraved in her pale skin. Her strange green and white attire was ripped and torn in various places, making it more indecent than it already was.

The blood was still pouring from some of her wounds profusely, staining her clothes, and again, I wondered how on earth I could've missed it. Yet the stupid girl did nothing tend to them.

"What happened?" I found myself asking her, though my voice gave the impression that I couldn't care less. It started. I could see her tense visibly, and her aura flared such a melancholy scent that it overwhelmed me. The salty scent of her tears came to me, and I could tell that whatever I had asked, it had triggered it all.

"They're all gone…" She whispered, "In the end I couldn't save them…" Her voice was a trembling quiver, and she drew her knees up to her chin, burying her face and whimpering slightly.

Her words were simple, but that was all it took for me to remember completely. Naraku…the final battle…the bloody battlefield…the scent of poison and tears as the deafening cries of dying comrades and mourning friends assaulted my ears.

The memories came flooding back to me with every tear that rolled down her cheek. That's right, I had joined in their cause to destroy Naraku…his forces were great, and he had managed to poison me—slowed me down enough to land blows upon my body…

At the thought I struggled to sit up once more, my golden eyes searching my own body for damage. I looked down my bare chest, surprised to find that I had none. All of my wounds had been carefully bandaged and cared for.

My gaze fell upon the human miko again, who did not look at me still. She had done this, I realized. She tended to my wounds, and neglected her well being to see to my own. I, Sesshomaru, will never admit this…but I was confused, and somewhat intrigued by this. My golden eyes trailed up and down her battered body.

"Try not to move around too much," She said softly to me. "You might reopen your wounds."

Deciding not to resist her at the moment, for admittedly I was surely tired, I lay back against my tail, which spread out behind me like a pillow. All the while, I kept my eyes on her, studying her trembling frame as she drew her knees even closer to herself.

That was when I saw her to be no extraordinary miko…but a normal human girl. She seemed so weak and vulnerable in this one moment, like a frightened child that ran to a dark corner of a room to hide from a raging thunderstorm outside; like Rin so often did when she was scared.

But at the same time, I knew her to be anything but weak. After all, just before the darkness had consumed, the vision of her standing like a fearless warrior, letting her arrow fly and purifying the hanyou in a bright and pure light will forever remain with me until the day I perish.

Despite this, even I knew that for a human girl—one so young such as her at that—should not have seen what she had. Should not have witnessed the death of her friends in one moment of bloodshed.

I pitied the girl.

"You mourn for them," I simply stated. She let the tears stream silently down her cheek, turning to me.

"I mourn because I cannot join them."

"You mourn for him." She had fallen silent once more, her sapphire eyes reflecting all that needed to be said. Such a tortured look when I gazed upon her irises…I don't think I saw anyone with more grief than her. I almost regretted saying that. Almost.

She said nothing, staring once more out at the pouring rain as if there as nothing left.

"Why do you not tend to your wounds?" I asked her impassively.

"It doesn't hurt…" Was her reply. I found myself scoffing at her.

"You lie."

"I don't care anymore…" The girl buried her face into her knees, her ebony locks cascading over her shoulder, creating a curtain to shield her tear-stained face. I could tell from her voice…that she truly meant it. "The pain of losing them is greater than any physical pain."

Studying her still, I could not help but say what was on my mind, seeing as it was the most plausible solution to me.

"If it pains you so much, why not just leave this world as well?" I asked. "You wanted to join them did you not?"

Somehow my words turned out harsher than I had intended, but I had asked what I wanted. She had but to answer, and currently, the miko only lifted to meet my gaze once more. Her sapphire irises were unwavering. She was on the brink of tears, yet she did not let a single one drop.

"You are the only thing that is keeping me here," She said in barely a whisper, and I stared at her in a rather bemused state at her answer. Her eyes fell down to my body, and I understood what she was implying. The bandaged wounds on my body…the drink of water she urged me with…her very presence in the midst of the dreary rain.

"I do not ask that you stay for me. I would've healed on my own without your assistance," I bit out coldly. "Your sentiment is wasted."

I, Lord Sesshomaru, needed no human mortal feeling as if I needed to be tended to like a helpless child. But somehow, upon locking my golden depths to her blue ones, I could see that perhaps that was not how she saw me.

She shook her head.

"Even so, I couldn't leave you there in that bloody battlefield. Not when you were the only one left alive…" Her voice began to tremble slightly, and she bit her quivering lip. "Besides, you still have to take care of Rin."

Rin, the young ningen child that I had taken in as my ward. At the mention of her I felt a sense of relief that I had left her back at my Western domain with Jaken. Otherwise, she would've surely ended up in a condition far worse than mine.

I continued to stare at her out of the corner of my eye, while she chose to look elsewhere. Almost idly to herself, she began to play with the now complete Shikon no Tama that hung around her neck. The jewel of four souls said to grant immense powers with but one shard, and can grant any wish if complete.

But was such a thing worth all the death and destruction that was left in its' wake in a mortal's pursuit of it? I personally could never see the gain in wanting such a thing, and I could see the girl felt the same way. It brought no happiness as so many had rumored it to promise. Only pain.

After all, just looking at the frail human proved it all. She had lost everything in that fateful battle.

I know I shouldn't feel this way, but in that one moment…I realized that she and I…we were alike in one way. We were both alone. And in this revelation, I suddenly felt a need to soothe her restless soul as she was somehow soothing mine in a way. That she stayed with me even after all had fallen, to join me in my loneliness as well.

Immediately I shook these absurd notions out of my head. It was the rain. It's making me sentimental. My vision began to fade into black as sleep once more overcame my weary eyes. Before I closed off to the world, I could see that the human miko had fallen asleep as well. Her breathing was soft and a bit weak. Her form huddled for meager warmth.

Looking closely, I could see that she still had tearstains on her pale cheeks, with just a few remaining droplets of her sadness streaming down ever so lightly from her closed irises. And for the first time in my existence as a demon lord…I felt compassion.

The scent of rain still lingered, and the brisk air of morning was light on my skin, warm rays of the sun that peeked through remaining gray clouds burned at my eyelids…ushering me to awaken. Finding myself unable to resist, I slowly opened my eyes to the world around me.

It was morning. The seemingly endless and cold night was all but a memory. I sat up, feeling a bit of a sharp pain on my chest as I did so, but it was an improvement from last night. It no longer ached as much to move, but it ached nonetheless. Yet it mattered not to me. I was youkai, and these were but flesh wounds. I would heal soon enough.

Peering around the cave, I found that I was the only one present. My brother's wench was no where in sight, and the only sign that she was ever there was her lingering scent of sakura blossoms and blood from her wounds.

My eyes narrowed, staring outside the cave, where streaming sunlight poured into the dark shelter. I touched my bandaged chest, feeling the slight prickling from my wound.

"You are the only thing that is keeping me here."

Her words came to me from the previous stormy night, and although I had understood what she meant, I still am unable to comprehend why. It was almost like when I had first met Rin, and the child had attempted to nurse me back to health.

But it was different. Rin was a child; she knew no real fear. She was innocent, young, with no real reason to hate or fear me. The miko, however…she had been on the receiving end of my claws far more than once. She had been caught in the line of fire in her stupidity amongst our brotherly feud.

I scorned and ridiculed her race, her very being with my presence. Yet, the memory of her gentleness when she brought water to my parched lips, the honesty that shined within her eyes when she told me that she could not bring herself to leave me… Whether I was the only connection she had left to her sanity or not…she had stayed with me in the rain.

Something stirred in me for a moment—just a moment, but I scoffed it aside and grabbed my hoari that was neatly folded beside me (no doubt by her) and stood to leave, ignoring the pain from my wounds. A low growl emanated from my throat as I limped to the opening of the cave.

It hurt to even walk; I had more wounds than I had originally anticipated. Still, I stood out in the morning sunlight, almost enjoying the scent of lingering rain and brisk air. But a feeling still nagged at me, and that was the missing presence of the girl—Kagome.

Vaguely, I wondered to myself where had she gone. Not far, I presume, judging from the state that I saw her in last. Did the wench even have the common sense to tend to herself before leaving? I scoffed again. That girl was truly stupid.

As my eyes dropped to the ground, I found to my displeasure that small droplets of blood were stained on the grass. Glancing ahead, I saw more of the barely noticeable marks leading into the forest. I knew immediately whom they belonged to.

'Foolish girl, wandering off with fresh blood on her body…' Surely she would know, that even in the brightest of day that youkai would be drawn to her. Not to mention, in her condition she probably would not be able to defend herself. The miko could get herself eaten if she didn't take care of herself.

Then I found myself wondering why I began to have these thoughts in the first place, as if I cared for the girl's well being. Of course that wasn't it. Still, for some unknown reason that escaped this demon lord at the moment, I was unable to understand why the thought of her wandering carelessly in the forest bothered me.

With liquid grace, I put on my hoari that I had been clutching in my hands, neatly covering my bandaged chest with the silken cloth. I contemplated leaving this place before the guilt tore at me. Youkai honor, I suppose…but I was unable to let the stupid wench wander alone in the woods unguarded. Somewhat hesitantly, I began to make my way into the forest, following her trail of blood.

I shall do this to repay her for her hospitality if nothing else.

The forest was surprisingly quiet and peaceful. The birds chirped merrily and new blossoms bloomed from in the trees from last night's rainfall. Just looking at the scenery now, no one would ever suspect that there had been a massacre just the day prior. Not a soul would've suspected the amount of blood that was spilled, the lives that were ruined, the dreams that were shattered.

Not one person would know of the darkness that had threatened to consume all, that if it Naraku had succeeded, this peaceful and beautiful day would not be here. Everyone was blissfully unaware of what had been sacrificed for his or her safety.

It is the brutal reality. Time did not slow, it waited for no one. We would all move on, leaving behind our nightmares as if it were nothing more than a mere unpleasant memory.

For a brief moment, the image of the girl, Kagome, holding herself as she sobbed her grief in the darkened cave flashed through my mind. A frown set on my lips. I knew that she would never leave these nightmares behind, that it would plague her for the rest of her days.

As I wandered further into the forest, her scent grew stronger, and I knew she was near. I came across a clearing, my golden eyes narrowing as they fell upon it. It was not lush with flowers or green vegetation like its surroundings. Not even the smallest blade of grass was visible.

Instead, before me lay a barren patch of earth, devoid of life. The aura that surrounded it was heavy with melancholy sadness, a gloomy gray that hung thick in the air. I surmised that this clearing would probably remain so for a very long time.

As I moved to walk through it, the scent of lingering blood wafted through my nostrils. I recognized it immediately as that of my brothers and his comrades, and that of Naraku's. This had been the battlefield; this had been the spot that their judgement had taken place.

The rain had washed away almost all of the blood, but it would never truly disappear. Walking through it, I felt an almost twisting feeling in my chest, like a knife slowly tearing my insides. And through the cut, the saddening aura tried to seep into fresh wounds, and I grimaced at the sensation.

Being here made this Sesshomaru uncomfortable, so I thought it best not to linger. Leaving the site of Naraku's death, my eye caught a small flicker of white. Pausing on the edge of the clearing, I turned my head back to take a closer look.

A small bouquet of white flowers, that's what they were. It was not growing out of the ground, for surely it would be impossible for anything in this place to grow now, but someone had laid it there. Raising my nose to the air, I sniffed again, and sure enough, sakura blossoms and jasmine was present.

Kagome had been here. I suspect she had passed through here as well, placing them in the clearing as a sort of remembrance. Taking one last glance, I declined my head slightly in a gesture of respect as well before turning to leave with a swish of my silk kimono.

I noted that the bodies were not there, and I know for a fact that the girl probably would not have had the strength to bury her fallen friends as well as carry me to the cave if she had been badly injured. In addition, the earth in the clearing did not seem to be disturbed or dug up, a sign that they weren't buried there.

My thoughts seemed to fade as I realized my feet had led me to the very person I had been searching for. In the back of my mind, I was somewhat relieved that she didn't get herself into any trouble. She was kneeled in front of a cherry blossom tree, completely still as she looked solemnly at the ground before her. I followed her gaze and knew the source of her distress.

Graves; newly made graves lined side by side in front of her. Each one was marked with a small tombstone, along with a different flower for each separate one. She did not turn to face me, but I knew right away that she was crying. Sympathy washed over me as I stared thoughtfully at the graves, suddenly feeling a aching feeling when my eyes settled on a particular tombstone—my brother's.

"Kaede and the villagers buried them earlier this morning," She began to speak so suddenly and calmly that it sort of surprised me. The miko had been so deathly quiet that I had almost forgotten she was there altogether. "This had had been Inuyasha's favorite tree to perch on, and Kaede thought it would be the perfect place for them to rest."

I did not answer her, but instead listened quietly, my eyes boring into her back as she spoke in a voice of pure sadness. The girl looked up at the tree wonderingly; her sapphire eyes almost glimmering like it used to as she gazed at the sakura covered branches.

"You know, before, this tree would always be bare. Even when spring or summertime came, it would always stay as if it were stuck in winter," Kagome said slowly, as if reminiscing. "And now…it's just full of beautiful cherry blossoms…" I noted that her voice was laced in that of wonderment and small joy, though it quickly faded away as her eyes dropped once more upon the graves. "I only wish that Inuyasha were here to see them with me."

The sakura blossoms fell one by one, and I watched as if in a trance as they fluttered gracefully onto the ground. It was silent for a moment, with only she and I basking in the warmth of the day, the scent of the blossoms, laced with grief.

"One could spend his entire life searching for the perfect blossom, and it would not be a wasted life," I finally said, my voice indifferent but at the same time soft, like a passing whisper. She nodded slowly, glancing backwards at my towering form.

My eyes locked with hers, and I could see all of the pain and quiet suffering that shined through those sapphire depths. The unshed tears that were waiting to fall. Sighing, she turned once more to the graves.

"Sakura blossoms were always Inuyasha's favorite type of flower. I found out one night when he let it slip by accident that he liked the way I smell," Kagome said wistfully, and I surmised that this was anther reason why she picked this tree to have them buried. I also noted that a twig of the sakura tree had been broken off and placed on top of his grave, no doubt she had done that.

"Chrysanthemums were Sango's favorite," she continued, pointing to the grave adjacent to my brother's, and I saw that she had placed a chrysanthemum on the taijya's grave. "Violets for Miroku, and Kirara loved tulips. At least to eat them…and Daisies…for Shippo…" Her voice began to crack when she mentioned the pup's name.

I knew that the little kitsune had been somewhat of an adopted son to her, and that she was his surrogate mother. I knew that she mourned for him in a way that a mother would mourn for her lost child. Once again, I found myself flooded with the emotion called compassion.

I kneeled down beside the miko, not moving to touch or soothe her, but simply to be near her. In a way, I could relate to her. The responsibility that came with caring for a child, to have that child look up to you, trust you with its' entire life. The simple contentment and fulfillment that you feel when that child embraced or gazed at you with complete adoration.

This Sesshomaru would not know what would become of me if I lost Rin. She was like a daughter to me, and though I did not say it, I think the little girl knew. If I could not protect her, I would've failed her, and that would've been unacceptable.

As Kagome sobbed over the little Kitsune's gave, I knew that she felt that way now. Like she had failed as a parent—a mother. But I also felt that she was taking it too hard on herself. Humans always had a tendency to overreact.

"You did all you could for the kitsune. He would not want you to grieve over him and be unhappy," I said calmly, looking intently at her. She stared back at me with tears in her eyes, her face flushed.

"But I didn't do enough! I could've saved him! He's so young…he didn't even get to experience life yet. This is so unfair…"

"Life is unfair, miko," was my cold reply. "Not everything ever goes as planned. To live is to suffer. We must all learn to accept that, and move on. If not, we shall be forever imprisoned in our darkness, and it would surely destroy us."

I was met with nothing but silence as she stared blankly at me with mournful eyes. For a second, I wondered if I had been too harsh on her. After a while, she lowered her head so that her eyes were shadowed by her bangs.

"I know," She responded softly, "But it still hurts."

Idly to myself, I began to admire her will to stay strong through this. Perhaps I had miscalculated her before. Kagome quickly dried up her tears, sniffling before she looked at me again. She froze for a moment, her eyes widening as if she had just realized something and she lifted her gaze to meet mine.

"You shouldn't have come out here," She started, her voice laced to my surprise with concern. "Your wounds aren't completely healed yet, and you could've reopened them by now."

I scoffed at her foolishness. How dare one such as her chide me for being careless when she had not even seen to her own well being? She really was a stupid ningen, though I was still somewhat awed by the fact that she was so selfless as to show worry and concern for me.

"Speak for yourself, miko. Your wounds are far worse cared for than mine," I pointed out to her, my cold eyes sweeping her battered form. The blood on her strange attire was dry now, giving it a darkish brown color. Her deep gashes and scars on her body were partly scabbed, some blood still oozing slightly from the cut while other parts were completely dry, caking off of her skin.

I scrunched my nose slightly in disapproval. She glanced down at herself, as if she was just made aware of her state.

"Oh…yeah…" She responded dumbly, and I refrained from rolling my eyes at her slow reaction. The miko slowly ran her fingers over the wounds, wincing slightly when her fingertips brushed the open flesh. But she quickly shook the feeling off. "I told you before, it doesn't hurt all that much."

As soon as she finished saying so, my hand quickly went up to touch the gash on her arm. It was not a hard painful jab, but more of a gentle pressure that my fingers applied onto the wound. Kagome let out a hiss of pain that I could tell she desperately wanted to hide. Looking up, I saw that her face was wrenched in discomfort and she quickly jerked her arm away from my hand.

Narrowing my eyes at her, I drew back my hand, her blood staining my claws slightly. Bringing them to my lips, I let my tongue lick the coppery taste of her blood. To say that I was disturbed by it was an understatement, for I was not sure that it was the fact that she was wounded and hurting that bothered me, or it was the fact that I found the taste to be completely intoxicating.

I shook these thoughts out of my head and set a firm gaze on her. My lips thinned.

"You lie, woman," I stated simply. She looked down at her arm ruefully; a weak smile graced her sad features.

"So? It's not like you care, Lord Sesshomaru," she replied, her voice empty. "Just go and leave me here…"

A low growl escaped my throat. Taking her roughly by the wrist, I hauled her up along with myself as I stood, my eyes flashing dangerously. Still, she stared back with defiance in her eyes that spoke of the fire that once glowed brightly in her now almost dark depths.

"Do no presume to tell this Sesshomaru what to do, human," I warned her in a low voice. "You shall bathe and clean your wounds before tending to them. I shall make sure of it," my tone held a finality that I knew she had caught, for she did not struggle or fight against me. She merely stared up into my own golden irises with confusion, surprise, and something else that was undefined to both she and I.

"Why are you doing this, Sesshomaru-sama?" She asked in a calm rather than fearful voice. I at first did not know how to answer her, for I was unsure of the answer myself. Also, I felt that I did not have to describe my actions to a human girl. Still…I felt compelled to reply to her if not to break the powerful hold she seemed to have on me as she continued to gaze into my eyes.

"Make no mistake, miko. This is not an act of kindness, but rather an obligation. You cared for this Sesshomaru when I was wounded, so therefore I owe you. A Taiyoukai is not without honor, and no matter how much I dislike you, you still were a valuable ally in bringing Naraku's downfall. For that, you have my respect," I said coldly. "I shall not have your death upon my conscience."

Kagome remained silent throughout my little speech, and she looked down her feet in silent apology. I loosened my grip on her arm, but she did not move away from my grasp.

"Thank you," She barely whispered, and the two simple words stirred something strange within me. I was not used to hearing them, but it weren't the words themselves that affected me, but the way she said them. My ears told me that she was not bitter in her self-admittance that she was wrong and needed help, but rather she was truly, and genuinely grateful to me.

And some small part of me that I never knew existed, reveled in that fact.

My eyes were closed in deep thought, almost as if in meditation upon my perch on the boulder. Though seemingly relaxed, my youkai senses were alert, listening even to the tiniest rustle of the leaves. I let myself focus mainly on the sound of the moving water, making sure that the miko was doing what I had told her to.

I sat not far from the lake, keeping a close distance should she do something stupid. And yet, I was far enough to give Kagome the privacy she needed (I, Sesshomaru, do not spy on females when they bathe, unlike my brother).

The girl still knew I was there, however, and I suppose out of some extra precaution or her overzealous human modesty, she wanted me to have my back turned just in case. I had rolled my eyes at her then, but complied nonetheless.

"Itai…" I heard her moan slightly in a strained manner, and I turned my head slightly to see if she was in any pain. Out of the corner of my golden eye, I saw her stand in the water; her back turned to me. The droplets of water ran down her back in a strangely sensuous manner, as it gleamed in the afternoon son.

For a brief moment, I caught a glimpse of her naked body, slightly bared to me. Her dark, raven hair clung onto her wet form and I was filled for a moment, a curiosity to know how it felt in between my fingers. I felt a sense of disgust and at the same time fascination as I examined her curves carefully, almost admiring the way she looked like a river nymph amongst the sparkling water.

I growled mentally to myself at these thoughts that seemed to manifest themselves. I quickly turn away from the scene (though somewhat hesitantly) and glared at the patch of grass in front of me. It was almost as if I had been lusting after the miko, and I knew it could not be so, for I, Sesshomaru, had never lusted after any female before, let alone that one. So why in the seven hells would I start now?

All of my uncomfortable thoughts were dashed away, however, when I heard her cry out in a small voice once more in pain. Against my will, I found myself once more glancing at her from the corner of my eye. Except this time, I did not pay heed to her naked body.

No, I was more entranced by her hands…her hands were running with the uttermost care over one of the scars on her bare hip. My golden eyes followed her delicate fingers as she traced the wound, noting that she was trembling as she did so. Even bathing must hurt for her.

"Are you in pain?" I suddenly asked before I could stop myself, though my voice remained impassive. I quickly turned my head the other way, so she would not know that I was momentarily staring at her. A splash of water told me that she had sunk her body further in the lake in surprise at hearing my voice. No doubt trying to hide herself.

"U-Um…n-no…" She stumbled, as if embarrassed. I scoffed.

"Human, you know it is no use lying to this Sesshomaru."

"…Okay, so maybe it hurts a little," She whispered. After a few moments, I heard the sound of moving water again, followed by soft footsteps onto the bank. She had gotten out of the lake.

Closing my eyes, I listened intently as she rustled through her yellow bag, obviously searching for clean clothes. As she did so, I began to notice the scent of salt in the air, and sniffling could be heard. I sighed. She was crying again, resuming to mourn for her lost friends.

"Again, there was nothing you could've done," I said sternly, knowing that she knew what I spoke of.

"But I am still sad that they're gone," Kagome answered in a cracked voice. "I'm still allowed to mourn for them. Haven't you ever been saddened because someone close to you passed away? Haven't you ever mourned for someone?"

I stayed silent for a while, mulling over her words. My father…I had never mourned over his passing, for the last memory I had of him was filled with contempt because he fell in love with a human, a race I despised. I had deep respect for him as my superior and lord; of course I did, but nothing deeper than that. And my mother…I could not have mourned for her death, for I had never known the woman. She died giving birth to me, so I grew up without her. There were at times in my childhood that I wished for her, to have a mother to turn to, but longing for someone was different than mourning for them.

"No," I had decided upon my answer. "I have never grieved for anyone."

"What about Inuyasha?" She asked softly, as if afraid to touch the topic.

"He was my enemy…"

"But he was also your brother," Kagome pressed, causing me to pause for a moment. I knew I could not give her a reply right away, for it would be a lie to say that when Inuyasha died, I didn't feel anything. It was not deep remorse, for indeed I meant what I had said. He was my enemy, and had been a constant rival throughout my life from the day that he was born.

That is to say that when he passed, I did not feel joy over his death either. I disliked him, yes, but I had never really wished for the hanyou's death. Despite my cold words and ruthlessness in our sibling spats, I had never forgotten that he was born of the same blood as I.

There had been a time, before we looked at each other with ridicule and contempt, we had looked at each other as real brothers. A time when a little hanyou child followed his elder youkai brother, clutching onto his tail as he trailed steadily behind. When he looked up with innocent amber eyes and his demon brother knew…that he wanted to be every bit just like him.

Kagome was right. He had been my brother. And upon recalling the memory of a happier childhood, I felt the beginning of remorse that I did know I harbored in my soul. I turned around to look at the miko, now fully dressed and was staring intently at me. I suspected that she had not taken her eyes off of me the entire time. A silent amazement filled me, at the fact that she could make me realize that I still cared for Inuyasha.

After all, he had been my last blood relative, my only family. I would never admit this to her aloud, but I had a feeling that the girl knew. She did not have that triumphant look of smugness as I had expected her to, but instead she gazed back at me with complete understanding. Her sapphire eyes spoke to me in a way that I had never experienced before, as if we had connected upon the single revelation.

She nodded simply, her eyes averting from mine as she kneeled down beside her bag. I stood from the bolder, watching her as she took out a small metal tin box with decorated with a red cross. Opening, I saw her pull out a roll of bandages—the same kind she used on me.

Kagome hurriedly unwrapped it, fumbling a bit with the gauze as she tried her best to stay calm under my supervision. I was mildly amused at her embarrassment, for surely she had nothing to be embarrassed about. But I also noticed that my gaze was not the only reason why her movements seemed so rigid, but because her mind was occupied with something else. The look of sadness seemed to never leave her.

I watched as she pushed up the sleeve of her new clothes, similar to the outfit she wore before. Somehow, I was disconcerted when I saw how many cuts were on her arm. With much difficulty, she began to wrap the wounds, her work not very careful seeing as how she only had one arm to wrap them.

Mentally sighing, I slowly walked over to where she was, and kneeled down beside her. She looked up at me with a look of surprise, seemingly frozen as I took the gauze from her hands.

Taking her wrist in one hand, I began to fix her haphazard wrap with the other. Yes, I had two hands now, silently grateful to the miko before me for that simple fact. I remembered, the night before the final battle, when I had made an alliance with Inuyasha and his group, she came up to me and offered to restore my arm.

A pact, she had called it, between allies. While she placed her delicate hands upon my stub of an arm, she said softly to me, that it was the least she could do in return for the help I offered. But she had also added that she preferred that it was a gift between friends. I thought her completely foolish then…but now, as I wrapped the bandage around her arm thoroughly, yet not too tight as to hurt her, I began to wonder if she felt the same way now.

Kagome stared numbly as she watched me; her sapphire orbs an empty blue.

Usually I welcomed silence and solitude, but to experience so with one usually so cheerful and outspoken was unnerving. When gazing upon her melancholy form I began to just realize that now that she was alone in the world, what would become of her?

"What will you do now?" I asked suddenly, and she blinked back to reality upon my voice.


"The Shikon has been completed. Naraku gone. With all of your duties done, what do you plan to do?"

"Oh…" She mulled over my question, nibbling her lower lip in thought. I noticed her scent became laced with her sorrow once more as the seconds wore on. No doubt, she had avoided having to deal with this question for a while now.

"I'm…not sure to tell you the truth, Sesshomaru-sama. Everything was different than from what had I imagined it to be," was her cryptic answer.


Kagome nodded.

"I had always known that Naraku would be a formidable foe, and that one day we would defeat him. I just never imagined that I would be alone when the dust settled," She said mournfully. "So, when I thought about what could be when it was all over before, I had always thought of the possibility of staying here in the Feudal Era with all of my friends…"

"With Inuyasha," I said bluntly, knowing that it was what she was mainly trying to say. She did not even bother to deny my insinuation, and simply nodded in agreement, a look of wistful sadness forever etched into her sapphire irises. I wound the bandage around her arm tighter, and she winced momentarily, yet did not complain.

"If I could…I would've wished to be with them…with him forever. But…" With her other hand, Kagome fingered the Shikon jewel around her neck, her fingers running over the pink orb with gentle longing. "It seems that I have no choice but to be alone."

"You could wish for them back," My cold voice told her the obvious, and her expression showed that she knew it as well. Her eyes were a dull glimmer, instead of a brilliant sparkle which I had thought they would be, showing no sign of rejoice over the matter.

It seems that the young miko has already thought of this path, for her mouth was set in a deep yet firm frown, as if she already made her choice.

"I know, but if I make a wish on the jewel, what good would it do? The jewel wouldn't disappear unless a pure, unselfish wish were to be made, and even if I had wished them back, I know they wouldn't be too happy," She said softly. "Sure, we would be together again, but how long would we all be happy until someone else tries to steal the Shikon? How long until some new evil—maybe even worse than Naraku comes after it?

"I'm not willing to bring that sort of danger unto my friends again. Look at how much is already lost in our search for the shards? And it was my entire fault in the first place…" She blinked back several tears, which were beginning to blur her vision.

"Besides…I know that they will be able to rest in peace…they will be happier where they are now…"

"What makes you say that?" I inquired. Surely, I was not very indulgent with the human belief of heaven and hell, and I did not seek to question or delve deeply into it. But something compelled me to know what it was that made this girl so sure that death suited my brother and his comrades. Kagome smiled weakly…a hauntingly sad smile as she peered to the heavens, ignoring the pain of her limbs.

"Since the Shikon no Tama is complete, that means that Sango's little brother, Kohaku, who had to rely on the jewel shard to stay alive, is now also dead."

"I am familiar with him…" I growled almost to myself, remembering the time when the boy kidnapped Rin under Naraku's orders. I had only spared him because Rin asked me to, and I suspected it was because she had grown a liking to her captor…this Kohaku. I decided not to tell Rin of his death. She would be saddened if she knew; though I know not why.

"Sango is happy, I think, because she is finally able to be with her little brother. Away from demon slaying…away from all the memories of her slain kin."

I listened carefully, finishing my work on her arm and now moving to tend to one of her ankles, which was bruised a nasty shade of purple. She did not protest when I laid my hand to on it to tend to the wound. As I did so, I could not help but marvel how small her feet were, almost delicate and fragile in my hands.

Blocking these thoughts from my head, I nodded to her in agreement. The taijya indeed must have had a hard life. I had not known that the boy was her brother…though, now that I thought about it, they did look alike.

"And Miroku…" Kagome continued. "He never said anything, but I'm sure he loved her. He would be happy no matter where he is as long as Sango is there. Shippo…he's been through enough as a child." She whispered. I knew it was hard for her to say, for she missed the kitsune dearly.

"And Inuyasha…" Kagome looked away from me upon the mention of his name, her eyes cast in dark shadows under her raven mane. "He has finally fulfilled his promise to Kikyo…they can both rest in peace…together…as it should be…" She finished in a surprisingly calm voice.

My movements in bandaging her ankle were painstakingly slow, as I let thoughts run through my head. I couldn't see her expression, but judging from the way she said that last part, the pain in her words as well as soft endearment when ushering my brother's name…she had loved him.

Normally I would've scoffed at such a human emotion, towards that baka no less. But not her…not Kagome…there was something so pure, so completely unselfish and all consuming in her love for Inuyasha that I was amazed she accepted the fact that her love would always remain unrequited. That she knew eventually he would end up in the arms of another, casting her aside like a forgotten toy. And she accepted it. She loved him still, and even now.

It baffled me to no ends.

"Will you…return to your home?" My voice to my surprise was hinted with uncertainty. She sat for a long time; not sure what to say as various emotions flickered across her fair face, lighting her features with a grim expression.

"What about you, Lord Sesshomaru?" She questioned, trying to hide her pain by changing the subject. "What will you do now?" I was a bit agitated that she had dodged my question and avoided giving me a proper answer. But seeing her strained aura, I guessed she must have good reasons to do so, and I respected her decision and did not press the matter further.

"I shall return to my domain, and continue to rule over the Western Lands. All will be as before, and everything will not have changed," I said dispassionately. "Though, now with my brother no longer alive, I suppose I will not be traveling around any longer in my pursuit of Tetsusaiga."

Kagome's eyes seemed to have widened for a second with panic.

"Please, Sesshomaru-sama! Please try not to um…well…"

"Steal Tetsusaiga from my brother's grave?" I finished her struggling sentence, my voice hinted with amusement as she looked at the grass. "I assure you, that I will not. I have finally accepted the fact that Inuyasha was meant to have the sword, and I shall by no means try to acquire it any longer. I am satisfied with Tenseiga, and will respect my brother and my father by leaving him be."

Kagome seemed to sigh in relief, and from the corner of my eye, I saw her give me a knowing smile, as if my words gave her a sense of deep respect and gratitude, and something akin to wonderment. I don't know why, but it pleased me, in a way. To know that she was almost proud of the fact that I could—dare I say it? Be a decent brother to Inuyasha. I mentally laughed at the idea myself.

When I was done with her ankle, I asked her if there were any more wounds.

"Oh, um…no…" She said lamely. I glared at her.

"No? I smell more blood, there," I pointed at her hip. I could tell her that I knew she had more wounds from memory, for if I admitted that, she would know that I had seen her momentarily during her bath. Kagome blushed and tried to pull her shirt down, hiding it.

I scoffed at her foolishness and batted her hands away, grasping the shirt in my hands and pulling it slightly up, just enough to expose the wound.

"No! Don't look!" she pleaded, almost mortified that I had laid eyes on it. And it was a rather nasty cut indeed. It was probably an inch deep, running from a part of her back to her waist. She looked away from me, obviously ashamed about it. For some reason, I found myself curious about the gash. It wasn't as if I had never seen a mortal wound before, but my fingers moved of its' own accord, and before I knew it, I was touching the wound with an almost feather-like touch.

Kagome winced visibly; biting her lower lip as my finger caressed it, tracing the cut like she had earlier in the lake. I was shocked to find that when I lifted my gaze, she had a single tear rolling down her cheek. I moved my hand away from the wound, bowing apologetically to her.

"I did not realize how much it hurt you…" I whispered offhandedly. She looked down at it ruefully.

"It's going to leave a scar, isn't it?"

"…Yes." There was no doubt about it; although the cut itself would heal just fine, she would have that scar with her for the rest of her life. It was a shame that her fair skin would be permanently damaged, I thought to myself. Not to mention, I could only imagine the flood of painful memories that she would get whenever she looked at herself in the mirror…she would never be able to forget.

"As if I'm not ugly enough…" She muttered to herself in a sad tone. I did not look up at her comment, but I had registered it in my mind. While my nimble fingers began to tend to the wound, my thoughts were on what she said. She considered herself ugly.

It was something I knew I shouldn't be concerned with, but for some reason, it made me uneasy knowing that she felt that way about herself. Although she was not the most beautiful of females, I never thought of her as displeasing to the eye.

She was rather pretty for a human in fact, and although she was ordinary, she was not plain. No, Kagome shown with a certain beauty all her own, and unlike the human women and even demonesses that require make-up to become attractive, she wore none. And yet, she was still completely fine without it.

In fact, in all honesty I never did like all that paint that females would put on themselves. It was unnatural, and the scent that it emitted was not pleasing to the nose.

But I had always noticed a unique beauty to her when we had first met. Something that shown within her eyes that caught my attention. Though I did not pay much attention to it in the past, I could see it clearly now. Her kindness, compassion, and innocence…Kagome shown with an inner beauty that not many possessed. It was a quality that drew others to her without her knowing it.

Was I one of the ones who were drawn to her as well? I am…not sure…

"What gave you the notion that you are unappealing?" I asked blandly. Kagome laughed in a weak tone.

"Inuyasha used to say that to me all the time…I always knew he never meant it, but the way he used to run to Kikyo sometimes…I don't know. I guess it did make me feel ugly in a sense…like I was unwanted."

Actions always spoke louder than words. I wondered if my brother ever knew that she felt this way.

"You are not ugly," I stated to her as if I was just making an unimportant comment, yet at the same time it was laced with a tone of finality, so she knew not to argue against my word. It was not a big deal, for I did not tell her that she was beautiful, just clarified that she was not completely unattractive. Still, it meant something to her. She let out a small gasp at my words and relaxed when I finished bandaging her. When I looked up at her, she had a light blush on her cheeks.

Nothing more was said on the matter.

What spiritual or unearthly force drew me to this human mortal? That keeps me here even in the darkest of nights, under the most dimly lit of moons to watch over her with guilty intrigue while she slept in a fitful slumber? And I almost dreaded in a way, that it was not some outward force that compelled me to feel these strange stirrings which I was so unaccustomed to, but it was the girl's own power that drew me to her.

What human mortal could hold such a power over this Sesshomaru? None, I reminded myself. I am a demon lord, and I am drawn, nor controlled by no one. I was here under my own volition, here in the same cave as I had been in the night prior with once again the miko named Kagome Higurashi.

Though she lay still in sleep, her brow was creased in that of discomfort, and now and then small moans of despair would leave her pink lips. From where I sat, feigning sleep as it were, I watched with an almost avid curiosity for the creature before me.

When the sun had set over the horizon, I had assumed that the girl would gather her things and either head back to the village or go straight home. I was quite surprised to learn that she wasn't ready to return to either place, and had opted to stay in the cave in which we had resided before. Too many painful memories, I surmised.

I had been tempted to leave her then and there, thus ending the strange chapter in my life in which I had spent with her, however short it was. Again, I cursed whatever force that led me to do otherwise, as I now sit across from where she lay. The thing that irked me so was the fact that she had not asked me to stay. She had neither pleaded nor suggested that she wanted my company, and was in fact surprised when I had offered to remain with her a little while longer.

However, that wasn't to say that she had wanted me gone or was ungrateful to me. Her sapphire eyes upon mine told me that she was deeply appreciative, and although she had not said anything to me when I made my decision, I could see the beginnings of a small smile tug on her lips.

I…am not sure what made me stay… Perhaps I felt pity for the girl, for in one day, she was all alone in the vast, and unmerciful world. Or…perhaps it was because I could relate to her, that I knew what it meant to be truly and utterly alone. Her human soul sought comfort, and for some unknown reason that escapes this demon lord, I found myself being the one to give her it to her.

Before I could muse further on the matter, my attention was drawn to Kagome, whose soft moans were now frightful murmurs. She was shifting restlessly in her sleep, her head thrashing from side to side as she was caught in some sort of nightmare. I could vaguely make out words like:

"Inuyasha…No…Don't leave me…All Alone…So…Much…Blood…"

I frowned upon hearing the muttered cries, not doubting that she was probably dreaming of the last battle. Inuyasha's death haunts her. Her movements in sleep became more violent, and I feared that if she did not stop, her wounds would be reopened. In a moment, I was by her side, laying my hand upon her shoulder and shaking her lightly in an attempt to wake her.

My efforts were futile as she remained asleep, sweat forming on her skin.

"Inu…Ya…" She groaned in what seemed to be in pain, and I began to call out to her in hopes that she would leave the nightmare behind.

"Miko," I bit out, "Wake up. This is but a nightmare," still, nothing. I was beginning to get aggravated. "Higurashi!" I raised my voice a bit, my tone cold. Several moments passed in which I repeated the process, and still she remained in her fitful sleep, her face wrenched in what seemed to be agonizing torment. Somewhere in the pit of my stomach, I began to worry.

Bending down, I placed my hands on her shoulders, holding her still so that she might not hurt herself. My head lowered down next to her ear and my lips parted.

"Kagome, wake up," I said, this time in a softer, gentler tone, almost whispering in her ear so that only she heard.

That had apparently done the trick. Her eyes snapped open, sapphire orbs darting wildly around the dark cavern before resting on my face. Her breathing was erratic; her body seemed to tremble as her hand flew up to grasp my arm, her fingers clenching tightly around the silk of my kimono.

I held her firm as she began to grasp onto reality. The unmistakable feeling of relief as well as complete and utter sorrow fell over her face, and I had to admit that I was caught off guard when she launched herself into my arms. I froze as she clung onto myself in an almost desperate manner, muttering unrecognizable words into my chest.

After a while, I eased and put my arm around her, placing my hand hesitantly on her back. Being a demon lord, I was not very used to giving comfort to anyone, so I was unsure of what to do in a situation like this. I recalled memories of when Rin had woken from a nightmare to the surface, and basically just going with what I felt was natural, I began to run my hand up and down her back in a soothing manner.

Several minutes passed, in which I felt her relax in my arms, her trembling frame had stopped and I could only hear a few sniffles. Even when she stopped, Kagome did not draw away from me, instead leaning against my chest comfortably. I felt the tight grip that she had on my arms loosen, and soon her arms had snaked around my torso.

No, she had not drawn away from me, but instead, sought to draw me closer. To say that this Sesshomaru was shocked was an understatement. I had never…been embraced before like this even when I was a child. On rare occasions my father would, but even then it was different than the embrace that I was enveloped in at the moment. The miko held me like a tender lover; not showing signs of discomfort or disgust in the least as I had assumed a human would feel when touched by a demon.

Strangely…I did not feel disgusted either. I mentally shook myself at these strange thoughts. A tender lover…I scoffed at the notion. She had just awoken from a frightening nightmare, she sought comfort and seeing as I had been conveniently there, she drew comfort from me.

A sigh passed my lips as I continued to ponder over my situation. I know I should be annoyed with her for giving me reason to comfort her in the first place, and strangely at the moment, I completely did not mind. In a way…being in her presence…calms me…I had not been this relaxed nor at peace in a long time.

I couldn't explain it, but I felt a rising warmth in knowing that she felt safe in my arms. Another thought came to my head as I recalled how she had arisen when I had called her by her name, and in a soft, almost whispering tone rather than my urgent calls to her instead.

Why? Why was she having this affect on me? And why was I not fighting these alien emotions? I was relieved when she finally drew away from me, for I feared that had I stayed in her embrace any longer, I might've grown accustomed—almost fond of it. But at the same time, I felt a something akin to disappointment at the loss of warmth when she parted from me.

She lifted her gaze to meet mine; her face flushed from both her tears and embarrassment. Her sapphire eyes were still misty, giving it the impression of a calm ocean. Her cheeks were tear-stained and she wiped furiously to rid herself of them.

"G-Gomenasai," Kagome whispered, her voice shaking. "I didn't mean to break down like that…" She sniffled a bit, drawing herself away from my circle of arms completely. My hands went immediately to my side, my mask of indifference firmly in place.

"Hn," the sound escaped my throat in recognition, nodding to emphasize the point that I was in no way offended. The miko crawled to the other side of the cave, wrapping her warm blanket around her petite frame. She then proceeded to look outside the cave to the moonlit stars, as if to avoid my gaze. A deeply troubled expression flickered across her sorrow-filled eyes.

"Did you dream of him?" I found myself asking gently. Kagome did not turn to me, but nodded solemnly.

"Probably the first of many nights that I'll dream of him."

My lips thinned at this.

"It is still, only a dream," My unfeeling voice pointed out to her, a poor attempt; I had to admit, at trying to comfort her. An empty, melancholy smile graced her lips. She shook her head slowly.

"No, It wasn't a dream. It was…a memory…" Her voice came out in a barely audible whisper, but I understood. She had replayed the moment Inuyasha died right before her eyes, as he lay bleeding in her arms. His amber eyes once a brilliant flame, now a dull glimmer as it stared up to her with regret and lost love, pleading with her not to follow him in death as the light faded from his eyes into a lifeless shadow.

Such a memory that she would have to live with forever more…would surely destroy her.

"Thank you," She croaked out so suddenly that it rather startled me.

"For what, miko?" I asked, unsure of what she thanked me for. "If you were referring to earlier, it is of no importance. Such things are vaguely familiar to me when I am with Rin."

Kagome blushed scarlet, looking with a shy innocence at her feet.

"Not just that…" She began meekly. "But for being there…when I awoke…"

"I'm not sure I understand."

"I never told anyone, but I'm afraid of being alone more than anything else," Kagome said softly, as if afraid anyone else would hear her secret. "And in a sense…I really am alone now. But…" Her eyes met mine with a look of pure honesty that I had never seen before, "Knowing that you were there…it made me feel just a little bit better. Because…as long as one person is with me…I don't feel so alone."

A silent shock fell over me as she spoke her words, and I remained speechless throughout the entire time, as if she was confessing to me some dark, forbidden secret. A was brought out of my daze when the sound of her soft chuckle was heard.

"I know you it might not mean anything to you, Lord Sesshomaru, and you probably think I'm even stupider than before. But I meant what I said. I really am grateful."

I didn't doubt her for a second. Her eyes told me no lies. To this day…I am still unable to respond to what she said. It was the first time I had ever known that such a simple act of kindness could affect this girl so, or how that simple act that meant nothing to me before, now meant almost everything to me. The deep gratitude so ingrained in her words foreign to me. Such an intriguing miko…

I couldn't turn away from her. I couldn't help but continue to watch her as she reflected on her thoughts, bathed beneath the moon's rays that filtered through the cavern's mouth. For a wild, irrational second, she almost looked like a forlorn angel, forever lost on earth to find her way back to heaven's grace. Of course, it was only for a fleeting second. A realization came to me, that I was probably the only thing left that kept this girl sane…remembering when she held onto me as if her life depended on it, making sure that I was real and not one of the pieces of her fragmented torture.

We stayed like that for several moments, before Kagome began to inevitably drift back into a deep slumber, hopefully this time without the haunting visions that already ate at her soul. I, however, was unable to let sleep claim me just yet, and instead spent hours listening to the lulling sound of her even breathing. Her sakura blossom and jasmine scent wrapped around my senses, soothing my restless soul as well before I too, fell asleep.

The sound of rustling clothes and movements resonated in my ear, awaking me from my light sleep. Yet I did not open my eyes, feigning unconsciousness as the miko roused from her slumber. My youkai senses were sharp as I listened to her every move, and judging from her careful, almost soundless actions, she probably did not want me to know that she was awake.

It was early, the scent of morning mist on my nose indicated as such, and the cool air chilled my skin. I wondered idly to myself why she wanted to wake so early. Rin, my young ward, would usually sleep well unto noon, and even if the child ever did wake early, she would simply close her eyes and fall back into her dreams.

Moments later, I heard her soft footsteps tiptoeing out the cave, a rustle of cloth swished behind her. As soon as she left, I opened my golden eyes curiously, watching the young girl as she walked numbly into the forest. She had her blanket wrapped around her, no doubt the morning air cold to her skin. Standing as well, I began to follow her into the mist, wanting to know where she would be off to so early in the day.

I was pleased to find that my body did not ache as much as before, my wounds were mere scratches on my skin that would fade eventually by the day was over. My footfalls were unearthly silent, for I was careful to not let Kagome know that I was following. One, because it was obvious she wanted to go alone if she tried to sneak out on her own; two, because I was intrigued at where she wanted to go that it had to be in secret.

The mist was strangely thick; her form was fading further and further until it was but a mere shadow in the fog. I relied on my keen sense of smell to follow her sakura blossom scent, which alone stood out more than anything else, making her easy to track.

My gaze turned upwards, towards the tree's rooftops. Past the swaying leaves, I could still see the moon, shrouded in its' own shadow as it prepared to set for the sun to take its' place. It will be sunrise in a couple of hours.

Kagome's footsteps stopped suddenly, presumably she had reached her destination. I halted a few yards away from her, not ready to reveal myself just yet. 'Here?' I wondered. I hadn't expected here to come to this place…Initially, I thought that she would go visit her friend's graves again.

Instead, she now stood in front of a tall, majestic tree, it's long many branches and it's thick trunk told me that it had been here for many centuries. There was a strong, mystic aura around it, and somehow, it seemed vaguely familiar to me.

My attention turned from the large oak to Kagome, who drew the blanked closer to herself and she began to step over the trunks. She stumbled over a large vine, with her bad ankle no less, and began to groan softly in pain. I resisted the urge to go over to see if she was all right, but restrained. The miko bit her lower lip, trying to ignore the searing feeling in her ankle as she continued her climb.

After a while, Kagome approached the base of the tree, her fingers coming to touch a strange mark that was engraved into it. Ah…Now I remember. That was the very spot where my brother had been imprisoned in a fifty year sleep by the priestess Kikyo. This…was the Goshinboku….The God Tree.

The smell of salt and tears were fresh in the air, as Kagome continued to trace the mark, her fingers running slowly over the dent where the arrow had been struck. Though covered in the warm blanket, she was shivering as if she had been completely exposed to the cool air, and her sobs began grow louder as the seconds passed. I imagined just touching the mere tree brought more pain than any kind of poison or mortal wound.

She then leaned in, her forehead touching the bark of the tree as her tears streamed silently down her face in an endless waterfall of sorrow.

"F-Forgive me, Inuyasha…" She whimpered, her voice cracked. "It should've been me…Why did you have to die for me, you baka? I'm not worth it!" The evident pain in her voice was so clear that it seemed to have seeped into myself, and for a moment, it was if I could feel her every emotion. "I'm so sorry…I know I promised to stay strong…but I can't…Inu-chan…It hurts too much. I want to be where you are…"

I felt that I could no longer conceal myself, to allow myself to stand by and watch her tear her own soul apart. Gracefully, I stepped out from the trees, the rustling of the leaves startled her attention to me. Kagome gasped, twirling around as her eyes laid upon my silver form in surprise.

"Sesshomaru-sama…" She whispered, my name coming to me in a soft caress of breath. This time, the girl did not even bother to wipe away her tears from her flushed face as I approached her soundlessly. No, she just looked at me with the same, empty expression as she did the night before, and I was beginning to wonder if she would ever regain that sparkle that I remembered her to possess.

"It does not do well to dwell on wishes," I said to her impassively, yet not harshly. "To live is to suffer," I repeated the words that I had said to her the other day, "All of our heart's most deepest desires, will always, and forever more lie just beyond our reach."

"Like trying to touch star…" Kagome ushered, her sapphire irises, locked with my own…drawing me in without me noticing it until I was standing directly in front of her. All the while our gaze had not broken, gently probing one another, trying to read the other's soul. "You'll know you'll never reach it…but you can't help…but keep trying…"

"Hai," The simple word passed my lips in a low whisper. She smiled, a fond memory passing her mind.

"Before the confrontation with Naraku…Inuyasha and I stood under this Goshinboku tree. On that day, he brought my hand up to his chest, just like this…" Kagome took my hand from my side, her soft, warm fingers wrapping around mine, and held it lightly against her bosom to demonstrate. I looked at her with a look of confusion as a strange feeling lurched through my stomach; I waited for her to continue. "And he told me…that even though Kikyo held his soul…It was me who would always hold his heart."

My eyes widened as she finished, seeing the many emotions of love and regret flicker across her features, and yet she did not let a single tear drop upon the memory. I began to understand how completely lost and alone she felt…to lose your love a hair's breath away before getting a chance to be with them. A strange, clenching feeling scratched at my chest…this went far beyond compassion…was it…empathy? Understanding? Or was it more?

It was then that I realized that she had not let go of my hand, and was mildly surprised that when I tried to pull it away, she held onto it tighter, lifting it upwards. My breath became hitched in my throat as my fingertips brushed against her clothing, past her shoulder blades as she continued to draw my hand upwards to feel her soft skin…I was not sure where she was going with this, but I felt a sudden dread as she continued.

Then…she stopped, placing my hand promptly at her pale neck. My gaze implored hers with a questioning look, only to be met with a stony gaze.

"Kill me," Kagome said in a pleading voice, "Onegai…"

I froze completely on the spot, shocked to the point where I could do nothing but stare back at her, her words resonating over and over again in my head in a desperate echo. 'Kill me, Onegai…' I searched her eyes, not quite believing my ears. Yet, there was nothing but sincerity. Nothing but determined resolution and deep desperation as her eyes pleaded with mine.

Kagome was asking me to take her life…no…begged me to.

"Why?" I asked, for the first time, my voice held genuine confusion and shock. Her hands tightened upon mine, pressing it closer to her neck.

"I had promised Inuyasha that I would always stay by his side, no matter what. I intend to keep that promise…even in death." Her tone was firm. She had made her decision and would not go back on it. Her stormy blue eyes slid shut, her demeanor surprisingly calm, and her chin held high. "Please, Lord Sesshomaru. Kill me."

How easy and simple it would've been to just grant her wish then and there…to wrap my claws around her delicate neck and take her life. But my hand remained still, refusing to bend to her desire even though I could feel her pulse beating strongly beneath my fingertips. A realization hit me at just exactly why she wanted this done.

A low growl emanated from my throat, and I instantly drew my hand away from her grasp as if her skin had been burning hot. Her eyes snapped open in surprise and loss, a whimper escaping her lips.

"No," I replied coldly.

"But why?" Kagome cried, her expression seemed crushed at being denied the one last resort in her life. I did not pity her, even when her hands grasped the silk of my sleeves.

"Do not forget that you also made a promise to my brother that you would stay strong. To lose the will to live, to give up all that he has sacrificed for you, simply because you can't bear to be without him, is to run away. Only cowards run away from the difficult challenges of life. Only the weak run away. Would you let Inuyasha's death be in vain?" My voice was harsh, emotionless, and cut through her like a sharp knife. Yet I could not bring myself to do otherwise. It had to be said.

"Over the last few days that I have studied you, I had begun to see things in you, Kagome Higurashi, that I had never expected to see in a human before. I saw immeasurable strength. And now, you mean to prove this Sesshomaru wrong?"

She glared up at me with a look of complete defiance, her fiery temper flaring.

"You're such a hypocrite! You were the one who told me that I should join my friends if it hurts so much!" Kagome threw back bitterly, refusing to look at me as she turned away. Tears began to well up in her eyes—eyes, which were full of hurt and anger.

My expression softened at this. Yes, it was true that I had said these words to her, as I remembered the rainy night of our fated meeting. It was true that I had suggested the notion, for it had been to me, at the time, the most logical of paths to take. Why live in torment, when the comforting arms of death awaited you?

So why did I feel differently now? Why does the thought of Kagome succumbing to the darkest of sleep disturb me so much? Why can't I answer her? Looking into her empty sapphire depths, why in the seven hells can't I answer her? Perhaps…that was it…Perhaps I longed to see that spark of life, that brilliance that shone in such purity to return to her eyes once more. Such beauty was rare in this bloodstained world. Though god help me why I began to desire such a petty thing.

I licked my lips, placing a hooked finger under her chin and lifter her gaze so that she had no choice but to look at me.

"That was before I knew what it truly meant to live. To cherish every waking moment of life for surely it is too fleeting. Each breath is far too precious to throw away. You, more than anyone should know of this, Kagome." I was surprised at the words that came out of my mouth. Since when did I begin to regard life as precious? Especially hers?

I felt her shudder slightly, her features showed signs that she was struggling with herself as she chewed her bottom lip.

"But…I…" She choked, "the promise…I…"

"Forget the promise," I interjected. "Do not live or die for Inuyasha. Do not live for me, because I told you to for that matter. Do not live for anyone else but yourself, and if you still cannot find it within yourself to do so, then I shall gladly kill you."

Kagome stayed silent for several moments, her frame trembling as she stared back at me with such intensity, I felt like I would burn under her gaze. It wasn't until I saw a single tear streak down her cheek that I knew she made her decision. She whispered my name like a sacred prayer and leaned onto my shoulder, her tears leaking through the silk of my hoari and scorching my skin like liquid fire.

All the while, she wrapped her arms around me in a gentle embrace that was unlike the way she held me last night, which held a deep desperation compared to this warmth.

"I'll try," She ushered quietly so that only I could hear, her breath tickling the skin of my neck.

The sun finally peeked over the horizon, giving off the warmth of day as its' rays of light touched the land. The blades of grass were slightly wet from the dew, despite it almost being noon. On the outskirts of the village, the townspeople were already hard at work in the fields and the children were playing nearby.

I observed the peasant folk from my perch in the nearby forest, waiting for Kagome to return from whatever business she needed to tend to. I knew what her main reason for being here without having her tell me though. She was here to say her last good-byes, I suspected to the old miko that resided in this village.

Kagome would be leaving soon to return to her own time, as it should be. Yet a part of me had been expecting her to stay in this era. But of course, that was an impossible conclusion, for why would she want to stay here? It brought too many painful memories, and her duty to complete the shikon had been fulfilled. Yes, this was as it should be.

It wasn't long before I saw her figure approaching me as she walked up the path. Her footsteps were heavy and slow, as if she hesitated to leave behind this place that she had learned to call a second home. Looking back one last time at the village, and the old miko that stared after her, she sighed and turned her heel to leave for good.

Leaping from my perch, I landed right in front of her. Kagome stopped and nodded to me, her grip on her yellow bag tightened.

"I'm ready now," She said firmly, her eyes reflecting nothing but sadness before she proceeded to lead me deeper into the forest. I knew at this point I did not have to be with her any longer, yet here I remained still, following her as she walked numbly towards the well.

The bone eater's well. At first glance just like any other, but there was much more to it. It was the link to the future, and I had not understood this at first until I had seen Kagome jump through the portal, disappeared, then came back a few days later unscathed.

My golden eyes bore into her back as she continued her solemn approach towards the well. Her home would be on the other side, five hundred years into the future, and only she was able to go through it. I vaguely wondered what it was that awaited her on the other side. What the future would hold, centuries from now, and all answers lay in a single leap into the dark abyss.

Kagome took off her backpack, and laid it by her feet before turning to face me, a weak smile on her lips.

"So…This is it," She started, in the most calm and controlled voice she could muster.

"Hai," My voice was still emotionless as ever, not giving away anything as she began towards me. A small part of me felt the strange, clenching feeling again as I stared down at her…from her raven hair to her sapphire orbs. Though frail and small at first glance, I knew better. This body harbored a pure soul untainted by darkness, stronger than any youkai or miko I had ever met.

Golden eyes softened when she stopped in front of me, looking up at me with eyes that would forever haunt me until the day I die. It was then that I could truly see for the first time, that she looked at me with neither fear nor loathing, neither as her superior or inferior. No…she looked past all of that, past my cold, impassive exterior, and it was as if the barrier between humans and demons collapsed in that single moment. She just simple saw…me…not Lord Sesshomaru, Taiyoukai of the Western Lands, but simply Sesshomaru.

It Like she was looking straight into my soul, and for a moment, I felt bare and exposed to her, vulnerable almost to her sapphire gaze, yet strangely I did not mind nor felt the need to protect myself against her. For I could see her too. She was bearing her soul to me right then and there, and I could see…I could feel everything that was Kagome. And then…she smiled at me…a true and genuine smile that I thought was long lost with the passing of Inuyasha.

"Arigato, Sesshomaru-sama…for everything. I'll…never forget you," Kagome whispered to me in a sincere voice filled with sorrow.

I was suddenly overwhelmed with an unknown emotion. I found myself unable to answer her, saying nothing but taking in every feature of her face and of this moment into my mind. I do not know what led me to do what I did on that day, as I found myself leaning down towards the miko, closer and closer until we were only mere inches apart. I wasn't in any sort of trance, for I was acutely aware of what I was about to do.

What surprised me even more was that Kagome knew it too, her breathing shuddered as it caressed my skin. I closed the distance between us.

It was a chaste kiss, hardly passionate in any way. My lips barely brushed hers, a mere whisper of skin. Her eyes remained open with silent shock the entire time, and as if she had just registered into her mind what was going on, she drew back, peering up at me with innocent sapphire depths filled with confusion. I could do nothing but look back at her with the same expression.

Even though I had intended it to be a kiss of respect, I couldn't help but feel as if it had been a forbidden act, no matter how simple it may have been. Regaining my composure, I placed a cool hand to her cheek, as if to reassure her that everything would be alright.

Her skin was burning from her blush beneath my fingers, my expression softened as I felt the beginnings of affection brew within me.

"And I shall never forget you," The words escaped me at last, and as soon as I finished, tears welled up in her eyes, and slipped from her irises. She was…crying…crying for me…For the first time in my life, as I felt her warm tears drop onto my palm still cupped against her face, I knew that I would be missed. I would forever live in Kagome's memory.

I gently wiped a tear away with my thumb, marveling at how she still looked beautiful despite the veil of sadness. Yes, I, Sesshomaru, admit to seeing now, that she was not plain or ordinary in the least. She was, in every sense of the word…beautiful.

All of these feelings and thoughts were beginning to become more frequent when I am with her, and I growled at myself mentally—I don't know how it could be happening, but I am starting to grow…attached to this girl. And attachment, affection, fondness…was not a good thing, especially for a demon lord. Once she leaves, she will take these feelings with her. So the sooner she leaves the better.

Stiffly, I removed my hand from her cheek, returning it to my side and my mask was firmly back on. I saw a look of disappointment and morbid confusion flicker across her face before she seemed to have come to her senses as well. She turned away from me, blushing furiously but trying her best to conceal it. Picking up her bag, she hoisted it over her shoulder and walked over the well, sitting on the rim.

She said not a word about the moment we just shared, and it's almost as if it hadn't happened at all. I myself refused to say anything more on the matter.

As if my feet had a mind of its' own, I followed her so that I was standing directly behind the miko. Kagome threw her feet over the well's lip, wiping her eyes as she did so. She gave me one last backwards glance, and smiled at me.

I…wished I could smile back, had I known how. But instead I nodded.

"Goodbye, Lord Sesshomaru," She said, her voice tried to sound as cheerful as possible. For some reason, I couldn't find myself to say to say the same thing to her, so I simply said nothing at all. Kagome's smile disappeared from her lips at my lack of response, and averted her gaze to the dark pit of the well. For a moment, I thought she was angry with me, but her scent held no sign of resentment. She sighed.

"You promise?" She asked softly. I blinked up at her, unsure of what she meant. "That you really won't forget me?" Her eyes were shadowed by her bangs; her voice shy as the question escaped her lips. Some of my tension eased. The silly human…she would doubt this Sesshomaru's word.

"You need not worry," was my answer, and it must have satisfied her, for the smile returned almost at once.

"That makes me…glad…" Kagome admitted. And before I could even blink, she jumped down the well. In the one second that she disappeared into the darkness, fading into the blue light, I realized…that I would probably never see her again. And it was then, that I had felt what I could only describe as an aching feeling inside of my chest.

It would fade soon enough…right? As I continued to stare down the well, I began to doubt it more and more. Little did I know that I would not be at peace once she was gone, that she would still haunt me despite the fact that she was had crossed over to her world. But at the moment, none of this ever came to my mind. Because all I could do was continue to stare down the endless pit of the well, the very spot where Kagome had just been, and the only sign that the miko had ever been here at all, was her lingering sakura blossom scent.

Even if I had not promised her that day that I would remember her always, I would still have never been able to forget her. For every night after that, I dreamt of her. In every waking moment of my life, she would come, unbidden into my thoughts. How could it be that she haunted me, when I knew she was somewhere in the future, alive and well?

I know that my attachment to the miko should have been severed when she jumped through the well, and yet it was not. Because of the mere fact that at times, as I sat in my lonely castle, even when I was accompanied with Rin and Jaken, that I still felt lonely. Never in my life had I ever cared before, for I had been alone my entire life. But…I had not been alone…when I was with Kagome.

These constant reminders of the girl frustrated me to no ends, and I found myself wishing nothing but escape from her sapphire eyes that would not leave my mind.

It was not uncommon for me to deny such a thing, but I suppose, unconsciously I tried to numb myself from the strange feeling by burying myself in my work, tending to my lands and such and busying myself with lordly duties. Until, by the end of the day, I had worked myself into a migraine, and was even more frosty than usual to my servants and even to Rin.

Then, as if out of old habit, I would patrol my lands—an excuse to get some fresh air, to cool myself and ease my mind of matters. I would spend hours, just walking in the Western forests, taking my time as I began to notice with each passing day the simple beauty—like she liked to observe on her walks. I would never be in a hurry to return to my domain, and as I continued to stroll through the woods, my feet always seemed to lead me to a place that was anything but helping me forget about her.

Often, I would find myself at my brother's gravesite, and I suppose out of respect for Kagome, every time I visited, I would replace the flowers on the graves with new ones. Mindful of each different flower that was supposed to go on each grave. As I placed the various floral decorations, I would sometimes wonder what Kagome's favorite flower was, out of pure curiosity. It was a shame that I never got to ask her before she left.

When I came to my brother's marked stone, there would be the familiar feeling of regret…regret that I was not a better brother to him when he was alive. Now, I only wish that he did not die hating me. This Sesshomaru has nothing but the deepest respect for his younger brother. He died for her…for Kagome. At first, I would have called him foolish for such a thing, to die for a mortal female was shameful.

But now I understood, what it was that drew him to her…made him love her. I understood it, yes, but did I feel the same way? To say that I would deny it would be a lie…for I am not sure of anything myself anymore.

Kagome's Goshinboku tree…I would never fail to remember how she defiantly held my hand around her neck, and asked me to kill her. I shuddered at the possibility of what would have happened had I complied with her. I couldn't do it then, and I believe I shall never be able to do it. Not her…not Kagome.

On many occasional nights I would stay under this tree's swaying branches. It was a place I often came to reflect, to meditate, and to remember…

But the one true place that brought the strongest memories of her was the bone eater's well. How many times have I been here, staring down at the spot where she disappeared? Far too many to count, I realize. It…hurt…to be here sometimes, though I do not understand why. And yet, even if it did pain me, I continued to come here, to let myself reminisce of the moment we stood ever so close to each other…and I had claimed her lips in an innocent kiss.

It was not love, for I, Sesshomaru, have never been in love before. But in that one moment that our lips touched, it was probably the closest feeling I will ever get to love. I had never felt something so strong before until then. It unnerved me greatly. It still does, for to this day; I can still feel the warmth of her lips, see the look of surprise on her face clearly as if it had just happened yesterday. The tingling sensation had in fact, never left me, and I often find myself touching my fingertips to my lips, as if to recall it as a dream.

How could it be that the strange stirrings of emotions that I had felt for her would not fade, but instead grew as the days wore on? Years passed, and still I couldn't forget. Rin was no longer a child, but a young woman, acutely aware of her surroundings and of me. She noticed that my demeanor had changed—for a long while in fact; ever since 'Kagome-neechan' left.

She had always been a smart child. I could fool the whole world, but never Rin. She would always ask me the same question of if I missed her, and my question would always be the same. And that was I respected and was grateful to her. Rin would always giggle and give me a knowing look. Her eyes would always twinkle with something akin to wisdom far beyond her years, as if she knew what I was trying to say before I did myself. It annoyed me.

Rin reminded me vaguely of Kagome in a way, innocent, yet wise. 'Twas a shame, however, that children do not remain children. Humans age, and Rin was no exception. She grew up, and took a mate—though very hesitant because she was afraid of leaving me all alone. Wasted concern, I had always been alone…

Still, she stayed nearby, becoming a fine young woman and mother. Of course, I would visit her occasionally, and she, upon my arrival, she would always ask me the same question. My answer never changed. And of course, she'd just smile her knowing smile…up until she grew old, and upon her deathbed, she had asked me one last time.

"Sesshomaru-sama, do you miss Kagome-neechan?" Her hoarse voice had whispered to me. "And please…this time…tell the truth." And for once, I did not give her the same answer as always. In fact, I didn't answer her at all, but there must've been something in my eyes that gave me away, for she smiled that knowing smile at me, a look of pure peace on her face. "I see. If you ever see Kagome-neechan again, make sure she knows it too."

Her words stayed with me, forever. I had thought of its' meaning everyday, just as I thought of the miko from the future. If I ever get to see Kagome again…I suppose it would not be such an impossibility, she only lived five hundred years into the future. And a hope rose within me, but just as quickly it was waved away. Do not give false hope, it only served to hurt you in the future, was that not why I closed myself from all mortal feeling? Besides, what were the chances?

Still, I found myself waiting for the day…why? Perhaps on that rainy night when Kagome had been at my side, a little humanity had grown in me as well. And now matter how small it had been then; it gradually grew with each passing day. Even now, it grew within me, and at times I cursed at letting myself allow any kind of humanity at all to reside in my soul.

I could have squashed the feeling away, but I found myself embracing it instead. The unmistakable aching that tightened in my chest whenever I thought of her, the longing I suddenly felt to once again be wrapped in her arms on cold nights that I awoke from my own nightmare. It soon became so strong that I could deny it no more.

I remembered something that I said to Kagome. That only the weak run from their fears. And then I realized that I was the one that had been running. I was running from this long, dormant feeling that she had awakened inside of me.

The truth was clear as day to me now, as I stand here, hidden in the shadows, watching and waiting, with anticipation and an unbearable aching feeling in my chest. Usually, five hundred years was but a blink of an eye to a demon, but not for me. Not when I was waiting to see her again…and now that she stood in the cool shade of the tree, the same Goshinboku tree that she stood under before, I knew my lifelong wait was over.

Five centuries and I had finally found her. I tracked down Kagome to this very shrine, not sure how I could've missed her before seeing as she had been just been under my nose this whole time. Kagome was slightly older now, twenty-one at the most. She was no longer a girl, but a young woman, whose beauty had blossomed to it's full height. Kagome's figure was certainly more filled out here and there, but overall, she was still the same.

Watching her, I felt an immense nervousness run through my body. For countless nights I had dreamed of this moment, and now that I was so close to it, I was unable to move. What would I say to her? Would she recognize me? Would she…remember me? This Sesshomaru was not used to being indecisive, and for the life of me, I couldn't understand why I was so fearful of what she would think of me.

My eyes widened suddenly, when I saw her tense for a moment, then looked suspiciously around her surroundings. I hid further in the shadows; she must've sensed my aura nearby…After a few moments, she decidedly shook the feeling off and turned her attention back to the Goshinboku, approaching it the same way that she did all those years ago, until her fingers were upon the tree's scar.

I watched with fascination, and longing, barely able to contain myself when the wind picked up, blowing her tresses into the spring air, and carrying her heavenly scent to where I hid. I inhaled deeply…too long have I gone without it, almost forgetting the scent of sakura blossom and jasmine. I had not realized how much I craved that scent until she leapt into the well, leaving me with a faint, lingering scent that faded as years passed.

I now understood how father felt all those years ago. At the time, I was young, ignorant, stubborn when Lord Inutaisho tried to explain to me why he had chosen that human princess to be his mate. No, she was not his mate…she was his love. I suppose Inuyasha considered her his love too…How could it be, I had always wondered, that a demon could find it in him to fall for a human?

No doubt, understanding was far beyond my reach then, and the most I could do was hate and smite them for something that was not under their control. Something that I could never possibly understand until I too, fell victim to that emotion—to fall in love with Kagome. Heh, I guess it runs in our family. And it only took me five hundred years to figure it out. And in that time, I had grown a sarcastic voice too.

Though, somewhere in the back of my mind…I still felt that it was wrong to be in love with Kagome Higurashi—Not because I was ashamed of her human blood. I had long stopped caring about that fact. No, it was because her heart still belonged to Inuyasha. Even in death, I could tell she still loved him deeply. Would it be wrong to want her now…would there be any possibility that she would look at the brother of her lost love? More importantly, if she ever did learn to love me…could she love me in a way that surpassed Inuyasha?

I shouldn't stand here and torture myself with such thoughts when I could find out the answer to it by simply revealing myself. Her aura radiated with melancholy sadness, and I felt the familiar feeling to comfort her. I had my human disguise on, and I truly wondered if she would recognize past the illusion.

Finally, I stepped out of the shadows, and as soon as I did, I knew I had condemned myself. There would be no turning back now. My footsteps were light, soundless with the grace that I had maintained throughout the centuries. But I knew my Kagome could sense me coming. She tensed again, staying absolutely still, her hand still firmly placed on the tree's scar.

I approached her, my demeanor cool and calm as always, yet inside me raged a battle.

"Kagome Higurashi," I called out to her in my velvety smooth voice. A shiver ran through her body as she slowly turned around. A small gasp escaped her delicate lips when she laid eyes upon me, first widening in momentary recognition before going back to deep confusion and disappointment. Her sapphire eyes locked with my (temporary) brown ones, and I found myself drowning in them, something that I had not let myself have the pleasure of doing all those years ago. "It…has been a while."

She tilted her head to the side, familiar with the sound of my voice but still greatly unsure of who I am.

"D-Do I know you?" She asked, her voice trembling. A smile graced my lips, and I took one step closer towards the girl, in which she took one nervous step back. To say that that one step hurt me was an understatement, but I did not show her my pain.

"Kagome," I prodded gently, "You once told me that you would never forget me. Was that a lie?"

Stormy blue eyes narrowed for a second before sparkling with revelation. Kagome gasped; her rosy cheeks turning a nice shade or pink, and her hand came up to cover her mouth slightly in shock.

"…Sesshomaru…?" She whispered, as if testing my name upon her lips. God, it felt so good to hear her speak it again…how I missed her voice. I only nodded, closing my eyes as I let the veils of my illusion fall. The disguise was lifted from my body, and I heard her gasp once more as my ebony black hair faded into a shining silver. My dull, human nails grew into sharp claws and demon markings appeared upon my face, the crescent moon clearly visible on my forehead.

The furry appendage of my tail manifested on my shoulder, and I slowly opened my now golden eyes to gaze upon a very stunned Kagome. I was no longer hiding from her; I bared myself completely for her eyes, not caring if the world around me saw. All that mattered that was it was just she and I in this one moment.

Kagome took me in completely, not quite believing what she saw. I waited with baited breath as she lifted a trembling hand to my face, almost hesitant to touch me; almost fearing that I was a dream that would disappear at first contact with her fingertips.

I was determined to assure her that I was as real as the Shikon jewel around her neck, and grabbed her hand gently in mine. She watched in complete fascination as I brought her hand up to my face, gently laying her palm against my cheek. Kagome let out a shuddering breath, frightened yet terribly excited as she began to explore my features without my guidance.

My eyes slid shut in complete contentment, marveling at how soft her touch was as her fingers traced my demon markings timidly. Her palm…so warm…I had almost forgotten… She brushed aside my silver bangs, letting the silky texture of my tresses to tickler her fingers before moving down. Her fingertips brushed past my eyelids gently, caressing my cheek with the most feather-like of touches.

Kagome traced my flawless skin so carefully, still not quite believing that I was there. The scent of tears was fresh, and without opening my eyes, I knew she was crying. But not tears of sadness, no, this time they were of joy. It made me revel in her touch even more. My heart began to race as I felt her fingertips upon my lips, caressing it shyly as if it were forbidden ground to pass.

Unconsciously, I parted them slightly, letting my warm breath on her fingers. Then, I did something quite bold. I kissed them. Kagome gasped at this, and drew back her hand immediately. My eyes snapped open, not allowing her to pull away as my own hand tightened around hers.

"Don't run," I said in a low voice, "I am…tired of running…" She searched my eyes desperately, then calmed, a light blush on her cheeks. She was truly beautiful. I licked my lips. "May I…kiss you?" I asked, suddenly feeling like an awkward schoolboy with his high school sweetheart. Her light blush turned into a deep crimson, but the faintest of smiles graced her features. How I have longed to see that smile for many a night.

"H-Hai," She whispered shakily, and I wasted no time in doing just that. I sealed her lips with mine, reveling in the feel of the kiss that was so unlike our first. This time, I held nothing back, as I let centuries of pent up emotion spill forth into this one kiss. I must have surprised Kagome with my sudden fervor, for she gasped when I ran my tongue boldly against her bottom lip, pleading for entrance.

She moaned into my mouth when I was finally allowed to taste her. My arms wrapped around her petite frame as I crushed her body to mine. Everything faded as I found myself almost in a drunken state from her intoxicating scent, and I feared for a moment that this was a dream.

When we finally parted, I allowed myself the simple pleasure of holding her, and she sighed in equal contentment as she rested her head on my shoulder. And for the first time in my entire existence…I was complete, content, and no longer alone.

Father…Inuyasha…I finally understand…that it was useless for me to run from this emotion that consumed you both. No living being can ever escape it, for it brings even the mightiest of men trembling at its' feet. Now I see…

Even immortals fall.



It took me forever, but there it is! My first one-shot. I apologize for the OOCness that Sesshomaru might have displayed towards the end of the fic, but if you think about it, wouldn't you change after five hundred years? I would! Also, I realize that it is rather lengthy for a one-shot, but I felt that if I broke it into chapters, I would destroy the flow.

Quote alert!

"It's the rain. It's making me Sentimental."

--Leila, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust

"One could spend his entire life searching for the perfect blossom, and it would not be a wasted life."

--Lord Katsumoto, The Last Samurai

Yume just had to use it for that scene!

Like trying to touch a star…You'll know you'll never reach it, but you can't help but keep trying."

--Steve Urkel (Believe it or not!), Family Matters

Ah, that is one wise nerd…

I neglected much schoolwork and my other stories to finish this one-shot (mainly because I told my friend that she could slap me if I didn't post something by the time the weekend was over) so, PLEASE READ AND REVIEW! No flames please.

I shall go back to updating her fics next week! Kap-king!

Oh! Special thanks to my old English Teacher, Mr. KirkPatrick for forcing me to read Greek poetry! (bows)