Inuyasha's forest is oddly silent.

The usual murmur of nightly noises, nocturnal beasts and the sounds of ever encroaching humanity, were strangely subdued and solemn.

Thick branches, burdened with lush leaves, arched over the mournful wood. Scattering pale moonlight and casting ethereal shadows over the mossy earth.

Buried within this majestic place, fed by the river of time, is an ancient tree. Its roots stretch forever and its branches reach eternity. Time is the ichor flowing within its boughs.

Only a single scar mars its rough bark, serving as eulogy for a false betrayal. Proudly beautiful, the tree stands in god-like vigil over a tiny grave at its base.

An old man with the appearance of a boy, leads a tiny girl by the hand. Although, she is not his child, she is of his blood, and like the boy, far older that her appearance would suggest.

Together they stand in the shadow of the tree, that some would proclaim a god. Curious, the child pulls away and kneels against the tree's gnarled roots. Digging her tiny claws through soft moss and brushing aside clinging vines from the grave.

The old boy watches in feigned disinterest, as she carefully traces rough, but lovingly carved script on the worn marker. Listening as she whispers-reads, her childish tongue stumbling over unfamiliar syllables.

"Ka-go-me," she enunciates. The waxing crescent on her brow waning as her brows knit together in concentration as she peers at the boy. "What's a Kagome?"

Her question is innocent, pure, and honestly curious. The old boy smiles faintly, his dog-like ears twitching slightly. "Kagome was…"

Countless explanations spring into his mind. All of them true, but none of them adequate.

Kagome was an old woman, withered and gray, who never once stopped smiling.

Kagome was friend and family, loved and beloved. She was home.

Kagome was temperamental and brave. Miko-ensouled, warrior-hearted, her compassion changed the world.

Kagome was…

"Uncle Inuyasha?" his little niece pipes, tugging insistently at his long, crimson sleeve.

Inuyasha wraps an arm around his niece and peers into her trusting, love-filled eyes. Wondering how such warmth could have ever sprung from his brother. "Ming Yue," he begins, almost absentmindedly, as he lifts her up to his shoulders.

She giggles as she buries face in the crook of his neck, prompting a strange bubble of warmth within his chest.

"Uncle," she pesters, almost insistently, poking his muscled shoulder with her pale fingers.

Ming Yue has her father's markings and her mother's curls, but it is her eyes that are the most striking. They are amber, clear, impossibly beautiful, and decidedly youkai.

Yet, within those tawny depths there is compassion, understanding, and infinite acceptance. Eyes that were echoes of what Kagome's had been.

An absurdity, an impossibility, and undoubtedly a great besmirch on her impressive pureblood heritage.

But it was a simplistic truth, more accurate than any other.

"Kagome was Kagome, " Inuyasha explained, at last.

And nothing more needed to be said.