Chapter One: The Death of Time

Perhaps it would have been a good idea to listen to the man when he said that he was important to the area's political structure. Had Kagome really bothered she might have found him in her history books, listed among other noted political figures of the time. It never would have given away what exactly he had done for the future, but just seeing his name in there could have sent warning bells off for her.

Instead, they were standing over his dead body. He was rather old, really, there wasn't a whole lot they could have done she supposed. The shock of the attack from the youkai had sent him into cardiac arrest and there he lay, cold and unmoving; a heart attack. Miroku sighed from his work next to InuYasha, they were digging another grave. He had lost count of how many they had dug in the past; it never seemed to end anymore.

Sango looked to her miko friend with a worried expression; this particular death had seemed to bother her quite a bit. "Kagome? Perhaps you should go home. You look very tired and we haven't had any luck with jewel shards for the past three days, getting a little rest might help in more ways than one."

Everyone was surprised when InuYasha agreed. "Yeah, you look beat. When we've finished burying this guy I'll take you home. No arguing. But I'll come back for you in three days; we can't laze around all week." Kagome beamed at him, he was being so sweet! How unusual.

Two hours later she was riding upon his back, his silvery hair whipping into her face, on her way home. Home, it would be so nice to be back. She could almost taste her mother's oden or hear her grandfather's stories. Absently she wondered what day it was. It had been weeks since she had gone home; she hadn't even read the calendar to see if it were a Monday or a Tuesday.

She smiled and snuggled further into InuYasha's back. It didn't really matter, did it? She couldn't have been gone from home that long. Besides, everything was always the same when she returned, no matter how far apart. That was one of the greatest things about home.

InuYasha set down outside the well and helped her to stand. "Kagome, I know it's been a while since you went back and I'm sorry if you've been angry with us for that. We kind of forgot time and then when we realized when it was we decided to send you home as soon as possible. So, anyway, tell your family that we're sorry." She was already climbing into the well as he was speaking and she turned to smile at him, telling him that it was okay.

Then, as she fell down into the blue magic she heard him say the last bit of information that she expected to hear. "Have a happy birthday, Kagome!" What! Had it been that long already? Was that possible? Before she could question him her backside crushed against the ground and she groaned, standing within the dark well-house.

"Home again, home again." Her fingers searched, grasping around for the familiar rungs of the ladder she knew was there. No. Not there. Hmm, not there either. Where was it? Her hands were running around the walls of the well, searching for anything. But then she noticed something. Standing still she listened. Water, the faint echo of a dripping noise surrounded her and she shakily reached down. It wasn't a lot of water, only damp, barely enough to make it muddy but it was there without a doubt. The well was not dry anymore and her ladder was missing.

"What's going on here?" Her voice echoed through the well-house until she heard a sound, scraping, then the slide of a latch and a creaky door opening. Dusty light streamed into the area and somebody entered the building.

"Kagome? How did you get in here?" Sota, it was her little brother, he had come for her! She lifted her pack onto her shoulders and smiled.

Raising a hand to wave at him she laughed. "Sota! Lower the ladder! This wasn't a very funny joke, you know!" He gave her an odd look and walked away, coming back a few minutes later with the ladder and lowering it for her.

She jumped out and grasped him, pulling him into a hug that he fought to get out of. "Kagome! You're dirty!" Laughing again she let him go and smiled, it must be his age, most boys got conscious of that stuff around his age, right? Turning to him she smiled down at him and followed him out of the well house, noticing that he went to lock the door again.

"Have you guys taken to locking the door while I'm away now?" She asked with a worried tone, why were they locking the well-house while she was on the inside? Sota looked at her with a confused expression and shook his head at her.

"I don't know what you mean, Kagome, we've always locked it. You weren't even supposed to be in there." He walked off, towards the back entry of the house, but she didn't follow. She stood, still and shocked. What happened?

Running up to the house she noticed small changes in her home. Nothing extremely unusual but just, changes; a piece of furniture moved, a plant in full bloom, one of her mother's crocheted blankets that she couldn't remember her mother making. Little things that sent a chill down her spine. Her mother came into view and she ran up to hug her. "Momma! I missed you!"

Her mother laughed and hugged her back. "Why Kagome, you only went out ten minutes ago! Why aren't you at school today?" Now Kagome knew something was really wrong. What had happened to her home? Had her family simply forgot?

She looked up at her mother curiously and the elder woman frowned, placing the back of her hand on her child's forehead. "No fever. Are you sure you're feeling well, Kagome?" The girl shook her head, slowly, no. She was not sure of anything, anymore.

The elder woman sighed and led her upstairs. "Well, set you pack down and I'll take you somewhere. I purchased this as a surprise for tonight but since you'll probably not be well enough later we might as well go now. It could even help take care of you!"

Kagome nodded, as if she understood what the woman who looked like her mother meant, and set the pack down in her room. It looked like her room, sort of. Again with the small changes; what had happened on this side?

Confused, Kagome followed her mother to the car and sat, watching the familiar but strange scenery go by. Instead of being bothered by it she chose to sleep, sleep would help clear her mind and maybe this would all have been a bad dream. Thirty minutes and they came to a stop at a red light.

Kagome woke slightly and saw that her mother was positively beaming. "I saved up so much money for this, Kagome. Something told me that this was the perfect gift for you. You're turning 17, nearly a woman now, and you needed something like this to help with that transition. After all, I'm not going to be around forever, you know. But this, this will, for you and your children and theirs and so you will never be alone."

Rubbing her eyes with her fingertips Kagome couldn't help but groan a little. Sleeping in the car was bad enough but waking to this woman's ramblings was horrible. She had no idea what was going on or what she was talking about. Her throat felt dry and she sighed, swallowing before speaking. "Are we almost there yet?"

Her mother nodded in an excited fashion and a few moments later they pulled into a parking space. Kagome followed her mother inside, not even bothering to look around, this place was way too confusing. They walked up to a desk and Kagome's mother smiled at the clerk. "Higurashi. We have a reservation for today."

The woman nodded and she came around the desk, in her hand was a set of color coded keys. "Miss. Higurashi? Will you or your daughter be choosing?" Her mother held out her hand to indicate that Kagome would choose and the clerk smiled. "All right, Kagome, is it?"

Kagome nodded to the woman, unsure what was going on. What was she choosing? She smiled at the woman, hoping she could give her answers. Instead the woman opened a door with one of the keys and held it open for them to enter. What she would see inside would break her heart.

It looked like a pound or a low-level security prison, Kagome wasn't sure which one described it more accurately. As she followed her mother and the woman she looked inside the cells. Several of the first ones were empty, however when she came to the first she stopped, gaped and inhaled sharply.

"Youkai?" Kagome's mother went up to her and smiled, nodding in excitement. The woman then looked in towards the little neko youkai inside and frowned, shaking her head. This one wouldn't do, apparently. The little creature reminded Kagome so much of Kirara.

Kagome felt her hand being grasped and looked up to her mother, only to be lead away and through another set of doors. Out of her side vision Kagome could see varying levels of youkai, growing from small household pet sizes to large gargantuan elephant size. Some showed a medium of intelligence but most were your average beasts. Inside her mind she could hear herself screaming for answers, but no words escaped her lips.

They had gone through two more hallways and the woman was on the last key. "This is our premium ward. Many of these youkai have superior intelligence, speed, strength, and endurance. Since you've already made a maximum down-payment you can choose any one you'd like but I would highly recommend looking through this ward first. Our best are in here."

Kagome's mother nodded and led her through the doorway, they walked down the halls and the girl would stop, gasping as she saw the figures in the rooms. This one looked like Ayame or Koga. Maybe both, a wolf, most definitely and female but she looked broken and without the pride that the wolf clan held so dearly. Moving on; she saw a toad, it looked to be similar to Jaken but more advanced in evolution. The last set of cells, this one was empty. Kagome sighed and turned to look in the one across only to find her world go black.

"Oh my! Kagome!" Her mother's voice rang out as she felt her body hit the concrete floor. She had fainted.

A few moments later Kagome woke to the face of her mother. Oh thank God. It was all a dream! Then she sat up, rubbing her head slowly to try and release the pain. "So have you made your choice, yet?" A voice came to her, someone she didn't know. Choice? No, that was a dream.

Kagome looked up into the cell across from her. Into the amber eyes that glared at her. This was no dream. "Sesshomaru."