Side note: So…I'm finally editing this story as well as Blom. I'm not sure if I'll add more chapters or not. This ending was sort of summary-ish and there are a few more loose ends to tie up, but that'll be in the sequel! (insert fanfare) Look for that in the upcoming weeks (I'm editing and combining chapters of this first though).

It was utterly gorgeous out. The sun was high in the sky surrounded by a lazily passing cloud cover. The baby blue firmament was bright and yet still calming to the woman watching from below. There were splashes of darker blue painted throughout the sea of marshmallow, fluffy white. The wind was cool and dipped down every now and then to play with Kagome's long hair.

Kagome's choppy bangs framed her face and clawed gently at the top rim of her glasses controlled by this natural puppeteer. The long, inky tendrils cascaded silkily in soft, shining rivulets to the curve of her hips. The wide brimmed, straw-weaved hat on Kagome's head cast shadows over her dark sunglasses and cheeks. The sheer black and white wrap hung low on her thin, round hips. The brilliant sea green one piece complimented her deep cerulean eyes and sun dappled skin.

Kagome finished applying the second coat of sun tan lotion. She'd only been out here, surrounded by the sandy oasis, for an hour, but she burned easily. She rubbed her hands together then on the towel at her side. She breathed in a lungful of the muted, briny air. Kagome sighed and brushed aside a wayward strand of hair trailing across her neck. A small, content smile crossed her lips.

The sight in front of her was too sweet.

Rin was hopping through the waves, splashing up a storm, most of which happened to get in poor Shippou's face. Rin wasn't left untouched either though. Shippou made sure to get her back in full. Standing a few feet away was a, no doubt, awkward Sesshoumaru.

He didn't seem to know what to do. He tried to smooth it over by folding his arms across his chest and act like his entire focus was way out on the horizon. Kagome knew better. His eyes swiveled back and forth between what he was pretending to watch and the children.

Kagome laughed behind her hand. Rin was now hiding behind his legs dodging the sporadic surges of salt water Shippou sent her way. Sesshoumaru was now quite unsettled because he was the victim caught in the middle of the water fight.

Kagome rose from her beach chair and placed her hat on her seat making sure to toss the towel over top so the light weight chapeau wouldn't blow away. She jogged over, very Baywatch like, to rescue her unwilling Romeo from the duel. Kagome, not really minding the factor of getting drenched by the playing children, ran right into the fray. She laughed lifting one hand to block the water from her face.

She didn't bother to wipe the water from her face as she wrapped her arms around Sesshoumaru from behind. The man obviously heard her coming because he didn't even miss a beat. His right arm raised and fell back down to rest comfortably around her shoulders. Kagome smiled up at him for a moment as Sesshoumaru just peered back down at her. He raised an eyebrow making Kagome's grin widen.

He was silently asking for a reprieve from the water battle and Kagome untangled herself to be able to do that. Normally she might have protested being so blatantly asked to do something, but he had made breakfast this morning. Kagome's stomach grumbled happily. She was still contentedly full and the meal was three hours ago.

"Shippou, Rin!" Kagome called, cupping her hands around her mouth.

The two runts didn't stop their playing only redirected their chase towards Kagome. Kagome's smile faltered for a second.

This wouldn't be good.

Getting soaked was the only possible outcome if she didn't do something, anything quick to make the children halt. Kagome sighed. Sesshoumaru's amused smirk was practically burning into her back. She came into help and became the focus herself. This wasn't her plan, but it was obviously part of his.

Kagome wracked her brain as her eyes dashed back and forth searching for a distraction. Finally a thought snapped into her mind making Kagome give a short cry. She stretched an arm out and pointed a figure at the now startled, but motionless kids. Kagome cleared her throat and stood up straight awkwardly. Then there was a stifled giggle from Rin.

Kagome looked down and saw Shippou holding a hand tightly over his mouth, but it was all too obvious he was laughing at her. Kagome almost wanted to tear after him into the surf, but then that wasn't the point of her coming over here either. Besides the terror the two could be when working together was very well ingrained in her memory. Kagome never forgot that fact which is rare in itself considering her errant memory, but the play dough incident did quick work of that. Kagome would always remember how clever the two children were. The clay-like stuff never did come out fully from her carpet.

Kagome put her index finger on her bottom lip, folding the other arm across her chest, in a stance of mock pensiveness.

"You know…they say that, on sandbars, there are plenty of conch shells."

Kagome looked down and saw the shiny quality to Rin's eyes. Kagome, nonchalantly, waved an arm out and pointed.

"I think there's a sandbar…over there, right Sesshoumaru?"

Rin turned her large, doe eyes to him and he always shrunk back under their strong gaze.

"It is all right, Sesshou-san?" She asked, as if he could say no to that look.

Kagome smiled behind her hand. Sesshoumaru looked over at her frowning slightly, but nodded silently to the little child.

Rin took off, but immediately skidded to a halt.

"Coming Shippou-kun?" She inquired her eyes excited.

Rin still refused to use a familiar suffix to his name unless it was only the two of them. Sometimes when Kagome was there, but that was only in the quiet interior of Sesshoumaru's apartment.

Shippou hadn't ever heard 'Sesshou-chan' fall from the girl's lips. When Shippou discovered that Rin did sometimes called her step-father that it became his mission to hear it. The boy was stubborn about some of the stupidest things.

Kagome shook her head lightly and ran a hand through her now damp hair. However, it came to mind that she was still being watched.

Shippou stood there playing the string to his swimming trunks. Kagome smiled. Shippou was smack in the middle of a transitional period. Where Rin was still young and carefree, Shippou was waking up. With Sesshoumaru more prominently in his life as a male role model, Shippou was increasingly becoming more mature. Kagome was almost sad to see him change, but it was inevitable. Besides, it could be worse.

Shippou could have taken after Inuyasha as he had attempted to do before when Kagome was dating him. Even then though, Shippou despised how indecisive and 'around the bush' Inuyasha was. Sesshoumaru's succinct manner seemed to appeal to him. Kagome had no qualms with him idolizing Sesshoumaru either because there was no way Shippou would ever be so arrogant. There wasn't an arrogant bone in his little, but steadily growing body.

Shippou was now taller than Rin by at least four or five inches. He'd had a huge spurt in the last spring. It was Sesshoumaru that told her how tall Shippou would most likely be. It was a trend that boys who grew more slowly in the beginning would end up taller in the end, but Kagome wanted more than a guess.

Kagome had had Shippou evaluated because he was so much shorter than all other boys his age. The doctor had been quite congenial with her. Shippou's height right now would, apparently, not remain so for very long. It was hard to put up with Sesshoumaru after that because the man had been right.

Sesshoumaru had said that Shippou would be shorter than himself by three inches. Shippou was to be 5'11-6 feet tall. Of course this was also speculation, but what annoyed Kagome the most was Sesshoumaru had said Shippou would be that tall, he hadn't been unsure or even guessing at all. He was always that way.

This fact became intolerable after awhile so Kagome got into the habit of looking up random facts to see if she could catch him in the falsehood. It was silly, but it became a recurring game between the two.

Kagome turned her full attention back to Shippou, but found him gone. She sighed and turned around. There he was next to Sesshoumaru. The young boy was speaking with his role model quietly. However Shippou was soon off running after Rin before Kagome could take one step. Kagome frowned and marched over to Sesshoumaru. She looked up questioningly, but Sesshoumaru just ignored her look for the horizon once again.

Kagome rolled her eyes, "What did you tell him?" She asked curiously.

Sesshoumaru remained silent for a moment and when Kagome thought he wasn't going to answer, he did, "On sandbars, it is a fact that sharks will roam the waters searching for crabs and lobsters."

Kagome's jaw dropped, "You told him that?"

Kagome was about to turn and chase after the two kids, but an arm snaked around her waist and pulled her back against a slippery, cool chest. Kagome turned her head and peered up through her bangs to meet a steady golden gaze.

"There are sharks, sand sharks or the like."

Kagome relaxed, "Oh."

Sesshoumaru nodded once to assure Kagome of this piece of knowledge before swiveling them back around so he could see out over the expanse of the water. Sharks that patrolled sand bars didn't usually have actual teeth, but rather thick bone plates that allowed them to grind. Their main meal was lobsters and crabs so these hard bone plates could crush the shells.

Kagome wondered what Sesshoumaru was looking at. He was often looking up into the sky, out his office building window, or something like that. He rarely told her what he was thinking about and Kagome sort of liked the mystery. Her innate curiosity bit at her of course, but she did her best to quell it. Sesshoumaru was a private person. If he wanted to let her in, he would. Kagome was close enough right now, just being with him. She didn't have to know everything or else even an enigma like Takarashi Sesshoumaru would lose his draw.

Well, not exactly, Kagome wasn't sure if she'd ever lose interest or get sick of him, but she hoped not. Then again, she couldn't say she'd never lose interest. Never say never.

Kagome leaned her head back against the plane of Sesshoumaru's chest. Her time with Sesshoumaru always seemed to be in constant motion and often in drama, but that wasn't true. Right now it was the middle of July and she was enjoying the hot lull that the dusty season brought.

She was a little surprised she'd been invited along on this trip with him. Every year Sesshoumaru went away for two weeks, which Rin had let slip to her sometime in May. They had been at the play ground. Sango and Kagome were on the benches watching Rin and Kohaku play in the sandbox.

"So how was the wedding?" Sango asked, referring to Inuyasha and Kikyo.

Sango hadn't been invited and wouldn't have gone.

"Went off without a hitch."

Sango had gotten over what Inuyasha had unconsciously done to Kagome. Sango was overprotective, but Kagome was finished with that part of her life and it was time to stop pussy footing around it. Kagome sighed and took a deep breath of spring air. She tipped her head all the way back and let her mouth fall open naturally. Sango just rolled her eyes.

"You're so weird."

Kagome laughed, "I know."

"The wedding was beautiful though wasn't it?"

"Getting anxious? Or are you jealous?" Kagome asked smiling.

Sango shrugged and rubbed her hands together. She crossed and uncrossed her legs. Kagome waited patiently. Sango wanted to talk about it, but had this thing about not wanting to burden other people. Kagome had gotten used to it. She would simply sit back and wait instead of prying. It was faster this way and Sango wouldn't get irritated with her if she came out about her problems on her own.

"I think it might be a mistake."

Kagome blinked, "What…?"

"I think-"

"I heard you the first time, but I meant…" Kagome paused, "What do you mean?"

"Miroku is…wonderful, but you know how he is. I'm not sure he's, you know, the one."

Kagome sat back against the bench, "Huh."

Kagome licked her lips lightly.

Sango frowned, "'Huh' what?"

"I just didn't expect you to be so paranoid."

"I'm not," Sango replied defensively.

"You're just afraid."


"Of the future."


"And that he might leave you."

"Yes!" Sango whispered harshly.

"Is that not an example of paranoia?"

"Wait…" Sango's face scrunched up in confusion.

"Yes, I think it is," Kagome smiled victoriously.

She'd cornered Sango.

Kagome jumped off the bench and did a quick spin around. She bent over slightly leaning in towards her friend with her hands clasped behind her back.

"You know what, Sango-chan? Don't even think about it because when you over think things, you begin to doubt and second guess. Trust your first reaction and your instincts. Believe in them and follow through. Besides, you can always divorce the pervert."

Kagome winked and walked off towards the sandbox. She left Sango with her thoughts and could only hope for the best. It was all still new to Sango. Miroku had asked her a month ago for her hand. Sango had rationalized her innate, positive, response down to the fact that she had had her period at that particular time and was thusly too emotional to make such a life changing decision. The more time that went by, the more she began to doubt.

Kagome waved to the kids as she approached. Shippou seemed to be ecstatic about something. He'd been on cloud nine ever since he met his 'secret' benefactor. It was ironic that this person was Takarashi Inutaisho himself.

Shippou had come back from their 'chat' quieter and with an almost sophisticated air. It was hard to remember that the boy was only seven years old, soon to be eight. The name had fallen from his lips and Kagome thought he was kidding at first. Mainly because he'd only said Takarashi and so Kagome's mind immediately went to Sesshoumaru. The man was secretive, but she didn't think he would have kept something like this for so long.

Apparently Inutaisho had grand hopes for Shippou. He funded several promising kids and it was the Shippou's near genius status that brought about the old billionaire's interest.

"Hey you guys…uh…what are you doing?" Kagome asked quizzically as she approached.

There were a few lines drawn out and on top of a few seemed to what looked like letters. There was another set of lines off to one side and letters around the top, but everything was drawn into the sand so Kagome really couldn't be sure.

"Playing hangman!" Rin answered cheerily, "And Kohaku's losing."

Kagome was sure Kohaku had almost stuck his tongue out at Rin, which was surprising to see such an immature reaction from the boy. However, there was also resounding sigh from the boy.

"Well Kohaku, you can't be master at everything," Kagome replied with a small smile, tilting her head to one side.

Then there was that awkward silence where Kagome knew the kids had been talking about something before she came over, but didn't wish to continue on in her presence. Perhaps it was a secret or maybe they thought it too frivolous a conversation to repeat, but whatever the reason Kagome proceeded to think of another subject on which to speak.

Sango needed time to herself so Kagome would willingly give it to her. Marriage wasn't a whim to act upon. There was always divorce should things go awry, but it would be a shame for two people who cared so much about each other to not make it. Miroku had become a good friend and Kagome knew he felt closer to Sango than to any other woman.

Kagome had become a sort of go between. She'd helped to pick out the ring, but she left it up to Miroku to smooth over his errors in his relationship with Sango. Kagome didn't want to intrude after all. She wouldn't be able to be there every time to sort out his mess. Besides, the idiot should know that staring at another woman's ass in his girlfriend's presence is a 'no no.'

Anyways, if Miroku didn't care why would he stay with her all this time? Granted something like six months, or however long they were together isn't a great amount of time to the normal person, but this is Miroku. Six months is a record, practically a marathon for that guy.

Kagome's face flushed for a second. She couldn't remember exactly how long Sango had been seeing Miroku. That was pretty bad- Sango's her best friend! Kagome sighed though because her friend really wouldn't mind. Only Miroku had to remember.

Lately time seemed to be flying by and she was losing track of it. May was already nearing its end and school was coming to a close. Kagome wouldn't need the summer session; she was graduating with extra credits as it is. Kagome sighed and hunched over her knees. This summer would be a witch hunt as Kagome searched for a job, one where she would probably be getting coffee or making copies.

Kagome's bottom lip poked out as she slid her hand through the cool sand. She didn't look up until a hand grazed her elbow. Blue eyes lifted with a hint of surprise in Rin's direction. The girl had moved to her side sometime in the last five minutes. She'd been zoning out once again. Rin smiled and pointed at the sand.

"I won!"

Kagome smiled. The word was 'apothecary'. An easy word in Rin's mind, but Kohaku had no idea what it meant. Kagome was about to indulge him, but Rin beat her to it.

"Didn't you pay attention in English?"

At his head shake 'no,' Rin sighed, "Remember? Romeo and Juliet?"

Another negative shake of his head.

Rin nearly growled, "Romeo went to an apothecary for the poison he killed himself with! An apothecary is a medieval pharmacist basically…"

Kagome giggled behind her hand. Rin was red in face and breathing so hard her shoulders were moving up and down.

Kagome laughed from her beach chair. After the kids had raced over to the sand bar, Kagome and Sesshoumaru had moved their site over closer to them. Now they had been sitting and relaxing. Sesshoumaru was reading a random mystery book, but still glanced up every five minutes or so to check on the two kids.

The book he had picked up yesterday during a souvenir shopping escapade. The kids and Kagome had been excited about shopping, checking out these little beach boutiques, but he was completely out of his habitat. A fish out of water, as Rin had commented and Kagome had to agree. He meandered away from the group in the direction of a book store without gaining the children's notice and Kagome let him slip away. The three found him later immersed in the novel half an hour later perched on a short stool, which would have been used to reach the top book shelf.

He glanced over at her. Sesshoumaru raised an eyebrow, but his eyes didn't turn from his current page. He pursed his lips, but when Kagome didn't mention what she was thinking about he went on reading, undisturbed by her outbursts.

Kagome sunk back into her thoughts.

That day, she had picked the next word, asphyxia. They'd gotten it pretty quickly, but she'd gotten applause for thinking of a word with creative letters. They had gotten the 'y' which apparently made the solution of the hangman puzzle easy to find. The way to stump Kohaku was with words from literature or language and not science or math. They played for quite some time, in which Rin happened to mention something shocking.

Sesshoumaru had asked Rin if she would mind Kagome going along with them on their yearly vacation. Apparently he went every year to a different location to snap pictures, which he would develop himself, for his personal collection. Sesshoumaru had quite an artistic eye it would seem. He would leave early or later at night, often drifting away during lazy hours in the afternoon with his camera strapped around his neck. Kagome spent those hours with the kids, tanning, sketching, or sightseeing.

She wasn't sure she'd go, but Kagome waited until he asked without saying anything. He knew she knew too, but he didn't bring it up until he had meant to. He watched as she grew anxious. She wanted to talk about it, but was insistent that he brought it up first. Sometime she nearly had to bite her tongue to keep the questions from leaving her mouth.

Kagome wasn't sure she should go because it was a time where Rin and Sesshoumaru could spend quality time together- as a family. However, Rin was the one who said she had to go. She wanted Kagome to and she'd miss her if she didn't. Kagome was so touched at Rin's visible affection. It was a big step for the little girl and Kagome wasn't going to hold back anymore.

For several months, Kagome had wanted to fill Rin with the loving warmth she deserved, but held back because she didn't want to overwhelm the girl. Rin hadn't been used to such open care and Kagome didn't want to scare her away.

Now though, Kagome was glad she came. It was at the perfect time too.

They left the day after Kikyo and Inuyasha got married. Kikyo and Inuyasha still squabbled and had some issues, but they were minor now. Like who left the milk out, Inuyasha, and who didn't take the dog out, Kikyo. The dog was an early wedding present from the kids. It was Sesshoumaru idea, surprisingly. Apparently it was the kind Inuyasha had wanted since he was a little kid. Inutaisho's second wife, Inuyasha's mother was allergic to dogs so he was never allowed to have one.

The pup was an albino Husky, one that had the potential to be the size of a German shepherd. Kikyo wasn't too pleased at the thought of all the hair, but she broke when she saw the big, golden puppy dog eyes from a certain someone.

Inuyasha looked pathetic, pathetically adorable and it worked in his favor. As long as it stayed out of their bedroom, got baths every week or two, and didn't go on their honeymoon, Kikyo was fine with it. Inuyasha named his puppy Hashi, meaning chopsticks. He found this hilarious. Of course he was just kidding, the dog's real name was Nemui, meaning sleepy.

The first thing the dog was doing when Inuyasha got him was napping. The puppy was only a few months old, so this would make sense, but this was Inuyasha. There could be worse names.

Jakotsu was more than happy to be a temporary baby sitter for it while the happy couple went away. Kagome would have offered, but she wasn't going to free, obviously.

Kagome reached down beside her chair and grabbed her saddle bag. She pulled out her sketch book and flipped through to a blank page. She'd been sketching more and more lately. Some were simple four-block comic strips others were full detailed sketches of people in her mind, ones she created.

Kagome leaned forward, hunching slightly over the book. She grabbed a pencil from her bag, moving the unsharpened end to rest between her lips. Kagome ran her mind back to her statue for a moment. The jade figure was a portrait of herself. On one side, the purest happiness she'd ever felt and on the other, the strongest grief. It was all based around one person.

A face came to mind and Kagome's eyes turned serene, giving her expression an air of contemplation. The woman's sat so that her long hair fell over her shoulders and settled around the pad. It was still a little damp, so Kagome kept a close watch on it. She didn't want her sketch book to get ruined by it, but if the tendrils stayed around the far edges, it wouldn't matter too much.

She always started with the eyes. They were a thin, almond shape whose irises would become a dark blue like that of the sea right before the sun dips before the rise. The eyebrows were thick, but were nicely shaped in a pleasing arc over the eye. Long choppy bangs fall over the forehead, leaving shadows on high cheek bones and the hollows of the eyes. A long, sloping nose, not quite straight, but slightly beak-like. One Kagome often ran her finger down before squeezing the nostrils.

There was a flash of memory in her head. Kagome remembered the white linen dress that came to her knees with the yellow daisies. The white socks pulled up over her ankles with flower embroidery around the top edge. There was a ribbon in her hair that pulled back the top of her shoulder length hair into a half pony tail. She ran around to the front of the house with a tall glass of water in both hands. The glass was slippery from the fat drops of condensation rolling down the sweating surface.

The June heat was nearly unbearable, but to young Kagome it didn't matter because it was pool season. If she got hot, she could jump into her bathing suit and dump herself into her blow up baby pool. It was only hers, so she could stay there all afternoon if she felt like it.

She rounded the last corner, past the garden where the carrots were springing up like mosquitoes in the air. In front of her, a strong, tall figure sprang into view. Kagome's face broke into a smile as the figure turned around. Kagome sped up as the person leaned down, resting one knee on the dry grass of the front yard. Kagome handed him the glass silently and he took a slip, releasing a pleased sigh. He smiled at his little girl. She scrunched her hands into the hem of her dress with a curious expression in the large, round eyes peering up at him. She lifted a finger and ran it down his nose.

"Got your nose!"

Kagome pinched the end, giggled and ran off. Amused blue eyes watch her loping movements back around the back to the kitchen. Where he knew she'd tell her mother in a triumphant voice that she pulled one over on her father.

Kagome sat back, staring sadly down at the paper. She shaded the eyes lights and created the lids. Then she lowered her pencil down to below the nose. She began the upward lip with the slight dip in the center then went downward to the corner of the mouth. She closed her eyes and traced the lower lip from memory, as she last saw him slipping away on the hospital bed. Kagome sketched the strong chin and the smooth curve up to his ears. His hair was cut short and slightly spiky on top. It was always so soft too, the wind would bend its gentle strands, but the stubborn tendrils would always stick up in all directions.

Kagome took a deep breath and drew the neck line. She paused and gazed down at the beautiful face of her father. There were tears at the corners of her eyes waiting to tip over her lower lid, but Kagome smiled. She closed her eyes, soaked up the sun, and sat back to remember.

Her whole childhood passing by, every loving caress, every smile, and everything he'd ever given her. Kagome remembered. She wished she had more time with him. She wished he could walk her down the aisle (should that ever come to pass) and play with Shippou, but more than anything she was happy to have known him at all. He lived through her and he was hers. Her father would never be forgotten, he would never be replaced either. He was the very first love of her life and he was the most important. He had a special place in her heart, like a father always does with his little girl.

The purest happiness was on her third birthday when her father had flown home just for her. He had been in America on business. Then the saddest moment was when he was whispering his last words to her in all white room.

He was magnificent, he was her inspiration.

No one had yet to see the statue, except a certain pale faced male. Sesshoumaru hadn't said he'd seen it either, but he hooked her up with an agent from her college. A woman came to her and said an anonymous tip had come in that she was hidden talent. Of course this was completely obvious and when she went to him, he'd been all high and mighty. He was his usual self, but even he couldn't hide his smile when she'd put her hands on her hips and growled at him. Her statue was to be on show at her college's yearly art exhibition, even though she wasn't an art student.

Kagome eventually forgave him because she wasn't all that mad to begin with. It was just a shock and sort of embarrassing.

Kagome shook her head and pulled her sunglasses down from on top of her head. It was getting brighter out as the day went on. She closed her eyes and thought she'd fall asleep in the hot heat of the afternoon. You could see the heat waves rising off the sand.

This summer seemed to be a rebirth cycle for most of the people she knew. Even for the unlikely pair, Yura and Kagura. They bonded or something and were getting together in business. They bought a dying perfume company. They resurrected the remains adding cosmetics and other feminine body care. Their company, labeled Amai, meaning sweet, and was on the rise. It had the potential to become one of top brands in Japan. They were also planning sites in Italy and America to begin their international status.

Those two were certainly an interesting mix. Kagura was ferocious as far as business and finances went. Yura was always one step ahead of the competition and was, surprisingly, the creative one with advertisements and new products. Rumor has it that they were brewing a new formula that contained pheromones. Pheromones are a particular scent that attracts the opposite sex.

A male usually is covered with this scent after sex. Some people say that woman will know her man is cheating because of this scent on him. Females tend to be more attune to such things, but it's more of an unconscious thing. It's unsure if pheromones can actually be smelled. Now there are scams where perfumes contain it, but this was the real thing.

Kagome shivered. She'd hate to get in their way, again. Kagome smiled. She used to feel that way about Kouga too, but he really changed after he met Ayame. Or rather, after he decided that he could never rid himself of her, so it was better to try to like her. They get on famously too. Mostly it was Kouga trying to avoid her and Ayame being completely obsessed with him. It was rather amusing to watch and Kouga needed an excuse to be irritated about anyway.

Speaking of couples, Jakotsu and Bankotsu moved in together. They thought their relationship might cause problems at work, but Bankotsu returned to Taka Tech. and Jakotsu was promoted as Senior Director of Research. Now he was chief of his own department and there wasn't any conflict of interest, which was lucky for them. Kagome was happy they finally made it official.

Hojo and Koharu were still as bashful as ever, blushing every time their eyes met. It was adorable really, but they held hands and shared soda or ice cream. Kagome could see them getting married. They looked like they belonged in another time, like the 40's where people married their high school sweet hearts and didn't even think about divorce.

Then there was Mokuen and Renkotsu. They were a strange couple, but they shared a common passion. They used Kagome's insight and theories to create a vaccine. The cure was a process that would take several years, much like treatment for cancers like leukemia. Together they saved many lives along with their technical team.

Kanna had resumed her work for the police and helped in capturing Naraku's associates. Suikotsu was given a deal since he helped in Naraku's overall capture. Hakudoshi was sent to an asylum for in retrospect he was a victim practically brainwashed by Naraku since birth. There would be serious evaluations of the police task force, searching out corruption.

Kagome jumped and gave a short shriek. Shippou bent over laughing. He'd just dumped a bucket of cold water all over her legs. Kagome squinted and shook her head. Then a creeping smile grew on her lips. Shippou paled at her expression and took off across the hot sand. Kagome chased him with a beaming smile.

Shippou was really lucky. Inutaisho had chosen Shippou for his scholarship program. All of Shippou's schooling would be cared for and he would be given a job opportunity at Taka Tech. This was Inutaisho's way of beating the competition, receiving the best of best for his employees, and giving a helping hand to those who deserved it. He gave money to those who needed and would make the best of his contribution. Kagome had been so surprised. Shippou had come home, nearly crying as he handed her the letter of achievement he received from Inutaisho.

So many problems in her life had come to a close this year. She'd met so many people over the past year; many of them had grown up from the dust and grime of life to be successful, well-rounded people. Rin and Shippou were abandoned and orphaned, Sango and Kohaku lived through their parents' deaths and even Sesshoumaru survived the pain of his mother's suicide. Kagome had met them all in random situations and one by one each became close to her heart. Each had a dark past that haunted them with each dawn and dusk. Over time, Kagome had watched these people she respected so greatly, overcome the terrors of their memories.

Now she considered these people a part of her family, even the lecherous Miroku. Even Naraku was now only a speck on her past. She pitied him more than anything, which Kagome knew would infuriate him or he'd use it against her in some manipulative way. However, he was all in the days she left behind.

Kagome finally welcomed each sunrise with open arms and a sleepy smile. She still thought of the time when she'd cowered under the weight of her memories and hid her true emotions, for fear of hurting, disappointing, or in some way making the people she drew into her heart abandon her.

Kagome knew now, they would never have left her for they were kind of a family. All these people, some injured in the most obvious of ways and others in the subtlest, but they had all gathered around each other because of their common pain. This was a common ground and it bound them all together. Kagome knew that life wasn't always fantastic. She knew better than most that it wasn't always luck, kisses, and sunshine. Honestly, she didn't really want it to be like that anyway.

Finally, though, even the rain wouldn't be able erase her happiness. She was surrounded by warmth and she'd never let it go. Not for anything.

Feed me!