A/N: Hahah yeah I'm releasing another alternate ending. This is the Windsor Kagome one that actually hatched in my brain before the twins Kagome ending. I have to admit I was mildly surprised with the amount of sadness Windsor's "death" in the last alternate chapter brought everyone.
The guilt of killing him off may or may not have prompted me to release this ending, hahahah.
Kagome and Windsor
"Good bye Shippo," Kagome said, taking the crying Shippo from Sango. She cuddled his small body against hers. "I'll miss you. Grow up into a good youkai, okay?"
"I-I-I will," the kitsune sobbed.
"Good bye Sango, Kirara. You two have been great friends to me. I'll miss you so much," Kagome said, embracing the youkai slayer. Kirara, back in her miniature form, rubbed against Kagome's wet cheek.
"You'll come visit us if you can, right?" Sango asked, crying.
"Of course," Kagome smiled before she turned to Miroku. "Thanks Miroku, thanks for helping Amarante and for being there for me," she said before hugging the purple clothed monk.
"The pleasure is all mine Lady Kagome, although I do wish you would reconsider," he gravely said.
"I can't," Kagome laughed. "I think I've been tortured enough."
"I'll tell that mangy wolf you said good bye," Inu Yasha gruffly said, looking off into the trees, avoiding meeting Kagome's gaze.
"Thank you Inu Yasha," Kagome said before reaching out and hugging the hanyou. He was unresponsive for a moment until his arms curled around her in a rib breaking hug.
"I'm sorry Kagome. I didn't think Sesshoumaru would do that to you," he whispered.
"It's fine," Kagome said before pulling back. "I don't regret my time in the Western Lands. It was fun," Kagome said with a peaceful smile. "Well, this is it," she said, sitting on the rim of the well.
"We'll miss you Kagome."
"Farwell Lady Kagome."
"I love you guys," Kagome said before jumping down into the well.
Blue lights flared up around her, and Kagome disappeared from the Warring Era.
What felt like only seconds later, but was actually centuries after, Kagome found herself standing in the bottom of the well in her ancestral home. She stared up at the ceiling of the well house and allowed herself to cry.
She sobbed and sobbed until she was so cried out that tears no longer leaked from her eyes. The storm of emotions robbed Kagome of all her strength, and she was barely able to climb up the ladder.
She flopped over the lip of the well and stumbled out of the well house, veering through the doorway on unsteady legs. Kagome blinked in the abrupt and blinding sunlight before crashing to her knees.
She was vaguely aware that a group of tourists were clucking around the family shrine, and a few elderly Japanese, who Kagome recognized as regular visitors, were waiting for them to leave.
After that the world went black.
Kagome awoke at dusk and found herself feeling refreshed, although still somber. She was in her room, cocooned in the careful shelter of her blankets and pillows on her bed. Her body was still heavy with sleep, but Kagome sleepily reflected on her location. She did not remember crawling into bed, much less entering the house.
Slightly dazed, Kagome slipped out of her warm sheets and shivered lightly in the cooler temperature of the house before fetching a clean hoodie and pulling it on. She entered the hallway, allowing her nose to lead her downstairs.
A delicious aroma permeated the air, coming from the kitchen. Kagome quietly shuffled into the cooking area, smiling at the back of her mother's petite figure.
"Hi mom," Kagome quietly greeted.
Kagome's mother turned around, her smile brilliant with love. "Kagome, you're up!" she said, reaching out to embrace her daughter. "You look famished. Go sit at the table and I'll get you some something to eat. I just finished boiling some miso soup. Do you want some onigiri?
"The soup will be fine," Kagome called over her shoulder as she followed her mother's instructions.
Moment's later Kagome's mother bustled into the dining room, kneeling at the traditional Japanese styled table with her daughter. "Here you go. Grandpa, Souta, and I already ate, so eat up!"
"Thanks mom," Kagome said, carefully blowing on a spoonful of the hot liquid before swallowing. (It was delightful!) "So…," Kagome said, stirring her soup to help it cool down. "Where's Grandpa and Souta?"
"Souta went to a friend's house for a sleepover. I figured you could use the peace tonight, although he is very eager and anxious to see you. You do realize it's been well over a month since you last came home?"
"Yeah, sorry about that," Kagome said, staring down at her soup.
"We were worried sick," Kagome's mother added before gently continuing. "But I'm glad to see that you are doing alright."
"Thanks. I have some good news—We completed the Shikon no Tama. I can stay here now," Kagome said with a smile—but neither her heart nor her eyes was in it.
"Oh Kagome, that's great to hear!" her mother gushed. There was a moment of silence, and Kagome sipped at her soup. "Are… are you okay with that?"
"Hm? Yeah. This past month has clearly demonstrated to me that I don't belong in that time. I need to move on. Concentrate on making up my missed school work. That kind of thing."
"Are you sure?"
Kagome lifted her gaze from her soup and stared into her mother's concerned gaze. "Yes. I'll miss it, but I know I wasn't supposed to stay there," Kagome said. She didn't tell her mother that she was still going to see if the well worked for her—she suspected it would not.
"So…," Kagome said before taking a few more sips of her soup. "How did I get into bed?"
"Oh. One of our regular visitors carried you inside and up to your room. To be honest Grandpa and I didn't even know you had returned. Souta was gone to school, I was busy with the housework, and Grandpa was writing more sutras to sell. The visitor saw you collapse and alerted us before offering to carry you inside. I accepted, there was no way grandpa or I could carry you," Kagome's mother smiled.
Kagome thoughtfully frowned. As far as she knew the only regular visitors the shrine received were old people who were even more ancient than her own grandfather! None of them were in any kind of condition to carry her inside, much less up a flight of stairs. "A regular? Are you sure?" Kagome asked.
Kagome's mother nodded. "He's been coming here since… well… around your fifteenth birthday."
Kagome blinked. "Wow. And he's not as old as dirt?"
"Kagome!" Kagome's mother cried, a little outraged.
"What? Come on mom, you know all our visitors are either tourists or old people," Kagome protested.
"Well, he is not," Kagome's mother sniffed.
"Ah," Kagome said, finishing up her soup. "Must be a senior and about to face his college entrance exams."
"No, I would have to estimate that he's probably in his mid or late twenties," Kagome's mother mused before snapping out of it. "But enough about him. How are you doing, honey?"
"I don't think I could cry anymore, even if I wanted to," she admitted before she felt a stinging sensation in her eyes. "Oh… wait, I think I was wrong," she whispered as a few tears slipped down her cheeks.
"Oh Kagome," Kagome's mother sighed, reaching out to hug her daughter. "My poor, poor baby."
The shrine bells were jangled three times exactly at 12:00 the following day.
Kagome heard the bell chimes very clearly from her position in the well house. She was leaning up against the well, peering into the depths. The bell tolls dragged her interest out of the well, and she stared at the wooden wall while the clangs rang through the air. She pressed her lips together, wondering if it was another noisy tourist group, but shrugged when silence followed the bell tolls. She returned her gaze to the dark well, a rock firmly anchored in her stomach.
She knew, from personal experience, that if she into the well she would fall deep in and practically twist an ankle when she landed. No blue lights would embrace her, time would not swirl around her.
The well was officially not working.
Kagome had initially cried, but at the same moment a part of her sagged with relief. She needed the clean cut. She would desperately miss her friends (more than even she would guess.) but she needed to be away from the epic adventures, away from the fairy tales of ancient Japan, away from Sesshoumaru.
And while it still hurt to think that she might never again get to laugh at Miroku when he fondled Sango's finer parts, or be able to give Shippo another piece of candy—because he hadn't shown up in her modern era yet which meant he was most likely dead—and she wouldn't ever "sit" Inuyasha or pet his ears again.
The loss rang keenly in Kagome's mind, but she still was comforted. If Shippo hadn't made it that meant Sesshoumaru wouldn't make it. He would not be around to coldly glare at her with his brilliant eyes, the twins (whom she had thought to be her dearest friends) ignoring her just as well.
Kagome sighed and leaned against the well house, over come with emotion.
"I have to get over this," she said, coaching herself. "I have to move on."
Kagome looked up from her book at exactly noon when she heard the familiar noon tolls of the shrine bell. Having been home for a month, Kagome was used to the noon chimes, which, Kagome's mother insisted, were rung by the not-ancient-regular-visitor.
Kagome sighed and glanced down at the book, which she really was reading only with token effort. Returning to school had proven to be more difficult than Kagome had dreamed. To begin with she was too far behind on her studies, not to mention the years of "illnesses" and absences had kept her from her class, which had changed over the years. She no longer had any familiar faces in her class, which was a hard thing to swallow.
Wherever she walked people stared and whispered. Kagome's old friends, Yuka, Eri and Ayumi had welcomed her back with open arms, but a part of Kagome found their company tiresome.
After saving the world and restoring the Shikon no tama chatting about the latest boy band or ransacking the mall for bargains was… tedious. It had been a welcome distraction in the beginning, but her trio of old friends seemed so ignorant, so naive.
In the end Kagome had to accept that she had changed. After seeing the blatant evil of the world, returning to daily life just wasn't possible.
Kagome sighed again. "What am I doing," she murmured. It was a school day, she shouldn't be at home reading… but she didn't know what else to do. It was a month after her permanent return to the modern era, and everything just seemed so hopeless.
Sesshoumaru's face flickered through the inner workings of Kagome's mind. She frowned. "No," she decided, tossing her book aside. "I will prove him wrong. I am worth something," she grimly decided.
The ever familiar jingle of the shrine bells at noon tore Kagome from her studies. Kagome looked up from her notebook and blinked before scowling at the open door of her room. After growing up in a shrine you would think she would no longer notice the familiar jangle. Usually she could ignore it, but it seemed like the predictable noon tolls were gifted at breaking into her mind.
"Well, I should probably break for lunch anyway," Kagome said, stretching her lean body as she stood. "I've got my homework finished for tonight."
Following with her vow to re-coop her life and show that she was worth something, Kagome had started attending gakushu juku, Japanese cram school, in the evening along with English school. She knew without finishing high school no college would accept her, but while she figured out a way to snag her diploma she needed all the help she could get. Plus, learning English would open up opportunities for Kagome, if her school life didn't jump start soon she could perhaps go to Europe, or America.
Kagome meandered into the hallway, trooping down stairs as she rubbed her right hand. Her archery gear was getting old, she would need a replacement soon. The leather was cracking and rubbing some kind of dusty substance onto her finger pads.
"That'll make grandpa happy. It'll be another sign that I'm growing up enough to take over the shrine," she snickered.
Following her 're-coop the loses' plan, Kagome became the grandchild of her grandfather's dreams. (Or perhaps even his nightmares.) When Kagome rose (at dawn. She still ran on Inuyasha time.) she would meditate outside if the weather was good enough. She practiced her archery every day, and refined her miko skills to an art. In fact, the only thing that kept her from being the perfect shrine maiden was her absolute, out right refusal to wear the miko garb. (She couldn't even look at the uniform anymore. She was Kagome. Not Kikyo.)
The shrine grounds were now officially demon, ghost, and spirit free. Grandpa liked to claim it was his sutras that did the job, but it was Kagome who would give whatever wandering spirit that stumbled across the shrine a zap. (At least she would lightly zap it if it was benign, encouraging to move on. If it was malicious she eliminated it. End of story.)
Kagome hopped down the last two steps before swinging into the kitchen, the sole occupant of the house for the hour. "Hmmm what to eat, what to eat, ah-hah!" Kagome said, spotting a microwaveable container filled with curry.
Kagome tossed the food into the microwave and itched her left calf, her jeans bunching up with the motion.
Kagome glanced outside through a window and peered at the trees. "Hmm, fall is coming," she said. "I can smell it."
One unusually warm fall afternoon Kagome, again alone in the house, decided to take her lunch (a packed obento compliments of her mother) outside and eat under the colorful branches of the god tree.
Kagome was tempted to bring a blanket and spread it under the tree, but decided against it and sat on the dying grass, clothed in her jeans and a warm sweatshirt. She was quite satisfied with her chosen location. She was hiding behind the trunk of the god tree, but by veering around the truck she could have a clear view of the well house, the shrine grounds (and the shrine itself) and her house if she chose to.
Kagome flexed her arms before attacked her obento, greedily eating her seasoned egg rolls first. (They were her favorite!) There was a brisk breeze, but the sun was warm and the trees were colored scarlet red, burnished gold, and crimson orange.
Kagome was starting to work on her rice when the ever precise daily visitor rang his noon chimes. Kagome's forehead wrinkled for a moment, and her curiosity was peaked.
"Let's take a look-see at this mysterious visitor, hmm?" she decided, setting her chopsticks aside. She leaned onto her knees and steadied herself on the tree trunk before peering around it.
For a moment Kagome thought the noon visitor was really a female, and not at all a he. Closer inspection proved her quite wrong.
Although Kagome could only see his backside, she suspected he was quite handsome. His hair, the object of his persona that had thrown her gender estimation of him, was creamy white. It was beautifully kept, a white river of silk that was pulled up into a precise ponytail on the back of his skull. It reminded her of the way the anime shows always portray members of the Shinsengumi: pristine hair with careful and elegant ponytails that drifted down to their mid back.
His clothes were unremarkable. He wore black slacks and a white dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. His frame was long but lean, and he held himself the way a warrior would. Most likely he was trained in kendo or judo.
Kagome couldn't help the low whistle that blew out of her. "Now he is a looker," she off handedly remarked.
The man was clapping his hands together, bowing slightly before the shrine. Kagome stared, her eyes narrowing.
Her increasingly improving miko senses were whining about this visitor. He absolutely wasn't radiating youki or murderous intent, and as far as Kagome could tell he wasn't possessed.
After exploring the feeling Kagome concluded the pretty boy must be the descendant of a youkai. Probably five or six generations removed by the weak feeling of the blood. It would certainly explain his gorgeous, envy-worthy hair.
Kagome considered calling out to him to see if his face was pretty enough to belong to a youkai too, but she thought better of it. It wouldn't do to aggravate the shrine's visitors. They had so few the way it was anyways.
Plus, Kagome was relaxed. She knew he wasn't Sesshoumaru, (His hair was too creamy white and didn't have enough silver.) after spotting him she hadn't even entertained the idea he was the great daiyoukai in a somehow completely human form. The fact that he wasn't Sesshoumaru was enough to allow Kagome to leave him alone.
Kagome reluctantly settled back into her hiding spot behind the tree and dug into her obento again. She paused, and glared at a spirit that had popped up while her attention was districted.
"You," she growled, eyeing the spirit. To all appearances it looked like a black puffball with eyes. Kagome wasn't sure exactly what it was, but she had gently zapped it at least four times in hoping of making it move on. It hadn't changed it's mind and seemed more determined to stay at the shrine because of it.
Kagome hadn't minded horribly because it didn't cause trouble. But then two days ago she found it plastered to her window when she was in the process of changing clothes.
In her anger Kagome had nearly purified the thing to death before throwing it out of the house with the strength of a major league baseball player.
Without hesitation Kagome rocketed forward, zapping the puffball with purity.
The creature nimbly dodged left before rolling right when Kagome tried zapping it again. It cackled and hopped backwards.
Kagome moved into a standing position. "You little beast, I'm going to take care of you if you don't get out of here!" she warned. She shut her eyes and took up the position she used when shooting a bow. A pink shaft of light appeared in her left palm, and she extended her right hand, gripping a string of the light like the string of a bow and pulled back. A spirit arrow formed, and Kagome's eyes snapped open before she released it, the powered up miko-skill struck a tree trunk, shaving off a few centimeters of the black puffball's hair.
"That was a warning shot," Kagome informed the shrieking thing. "Next time I won't miss," she said, the bow made entirely of purity power crackled in her hands. (Yes, in the months after returning to the modern era Kagome's practice had significantly helped her powers.)
The puffball cried like a child, but Kagome stiffened and whirled around, pulling back on her spirit-fed bow.
While she was dealing with the little rebellious… thing, a youkai had released its powers. A big one. A powerful one. It was old and ancient, probably one of the strongest Kagome had ever felt. The enormity of its power literally made the earth and trees tremble.
When Kagome spun, prepared to fight to the death with whatever angry demon had wandered to the shrine, she was stoic. When her eyes rested on the sight before her, she nearly lost it.
Standing in the center of the shrine grounds was the noon-bell-ringer/visitor. And Kagome could finally see his face. It wasn't that his tan face with his deep, soulful eyes were so beautiful that they took her breath away (although they very nearly did) it was that Kagome had seen those soulful eyes before. Come to think of it, she had felt this powerful youki before, although back then it hadn't been nearly this strong or potent.
"Windsor," Kagome whispered, dropping her arms. Her spirit bow and arrow disappeared.
Standing before her, in black slacks and a white dress shirt with rolled up sleeves, was Windsor. His perfect ponytail was spraying behind him like silk strands in a windstorm as his youkai ruffled his clothes and hair.
The horse youkai almost immediately reined in his youki, locking it up so tightly inside of him that Kagome could detect only the barest hint—which was exactly why she had thought he was a mere descendant.
Kagome stared at Windsor with a cross of horror and hope. She wanted so badly to run to him and throw her arms around him, to tease him that he was a pretty pony and she had missed him.
But he was Sesshoumaru's general.
He had scorned her, along with everyone else.
He wasn't her friend.
"Kagome," Windsor said in his musical voice. The sound alone was almost enough to make Kagome burst into tears. His face flashed through a serious of emotions: happiness, devotedness, fear, and finally a somewhat apathetic look.
He started walking towards her, his long legs carrying him across the courtyard faster than Kagome would have guessed.
Kagome did not move to meet him, but she did not turn to flee either.
"It's been a long time," Kagome acknowledged.
"I—It's… It's great to see you," Windsor said.
"Mmm," Kagome replied, trying to read into his answer. What did he mean? He wasn't supposed to see her at all!
"It's been so long, you look great, I—," Windsor broke off with a disgusted look. "This wasn't what I had planned at all."
"Excuse me?" Kagome blinked.
"Our reunion. I didn't mean for it to be this… awkward."
Kagome laughed. "Sorry Windsor, but with the way we parted—you know, me being exiled and all—I don't think the awkwardness is avoidable. Look, just please tell me you aren't here to kill me or something under Sesshoumaru's orders."
A tiny voice in Kagome's brain added "Or worse yet, bring me back to him."
"No. Sesshoumaru's gone to America. He hasn't lived in Japan since the economic boom after WII," Windsor dismissed, tossing his head like the equine he was, like it didn't matter. He hesitated and there was a moment of silence before he plunged on. "I wanted to let you get used to life again before I came back."
"…What? I'm sorry, I'm not following. First of all, how did you know I would show up here?" Kagome said, squinting at the beautiful man as though he were a dream.
"Inuyasha told me that you are a time traveler. Well, that's not really right. Inuyasha told Amarante, who told me. We knew because you never returned it meant that you were stuck in this era. Together, using the random dates and facts your friends remembered as well as Amarante's visions, Amarante and I managed to pinpoint your location and the approximate year you were born. I found you when you were but two years old."
Kagome couldn't get over the fact that Windsor sounded strangely proud of the whole thing.
"Uh-huh, and how did Sesshoumaru take that?"
Windsor blinked. "I have not worked with Sesshoumaru for nearly five hundred years."
Kagome froze. "I'm sorry, could you repeat that?" she asked, deciding she had a hearing problem. Windsor was Sesshoumaru's commander. His top general. Windsor's loyalty to Sesshoumaru was undying. He made the twins look like mere Sesshoumaru-enthusiasts, not diehards. Out of everyone in Sesshoumaru's castle (With maybe the exception of Saku) Kagome had pitted Windsor as missing her the least. (After all she had braided flowers into his mane. Flowers.)
"I left him a decade after you returned to this time," Windsor said, appearing to be completely comfortable with the whole thing.
"Why?" Kagome asked, staring at him as though he had lost his mind. (Indeed she was beginning to think he might have.)
"It bothered me that he abandoned you. Amarante insisted he was merely trying to protect himself and went about it in a very stupid way… but I was never able to look at him the same way," Windsor stared at her with his fathomless eyes. "You should have been honored. You were the one who saved us all, you should have lived in luxury for the rest of your life. Instead he scorned you and exiled you," Windsor shook his head, making his white ponytail swish. "That is not the way a man of honor acts."
Kagome studied the horse youkai with a thoughtful expression. She could see how Windsor—who ruled his life by honor, duty, and loyalty—would feel uneasy with Sesshoumaru's shotty treatment of her. The fact that her act of saving Japan had never been acknowledged would have tugged on Windsor's mind for years… but still… to abandon Sesshoumaru for it?
"How did Sesshoumaru take it? Your resignation?" Kagome asked.
Windsor tipped his head. "He was not surprised. He had been fighting with the snow leopard clan since the day you left—it was a cold war strictly speaking, no blood was ever shed—and he knew Amarante and I had been sharing messages. When I left I lived with Spiro for some time. Haruko and Hiroshi were split up as the twin generals and were each assigned their own army. It seemed like a natural process of things."
"He didn't try to have you killed?" Kagome squeaked.
Windsor smiled. "He tried, with a minimum effort. I was a decorated war hero, and most of the assassins he sent after me I had taught. He wasn't very serious about killing me."
Kagome wondered how the horse could so calmly talk about plots against his life. "I see. So. What now?"
Windsor hesitated. "I would like to offer you my services, Lady Kagome."
"What do you mean?"
"I would like to replace Haruko and Hiroshi and become your guard. I have been watching you from the shadows for a very long time already," he said, motioning over his shoulder at the well.
"I don't understand, why would you want to be my guard?" Kagome asked, her forehead wrinkling.
"Because I believe all of Japan has a debt of honor to you which can never be repaid. Besides… I have missed you, Lady Kagome," the horse ruefully added.
Kagome blinked twice and Windsor added, "You will not notice my presence. I can guard you without being noticed, even by you."
Kagome snorted. "You've got to be kidding, there's no way I would let you be so near to me without hanging with you. If you want to be my guard that's okay, but I would much rather have us be friends."
Windsor nodded. "That is an agreeable term," he decided.
Kagome nodded back at him. "Right… so do you want some lunch or something?" Truthfully her old habits made her want to hug him… but it still didn't feel quite right yet. He had hurt her, there was no denying that. It would take a little while before she could fall back into her familiar pattern with him.
Windsor seemed to sense her peace offering and smiled. "I have already ate. But would you like to join me for a cup of coffee or green tea?"
"That sounds great," Kagome agreed.
Kagome's family quickly grew used to the new, handsome presence that followed Kagome around like a second shadow.
"Windsor, would you mind bringing the oden pot into the dining room?" Kagome's mother requested.
"He already is," Kagome shouted, plopping down at the rectangle table. (The square one was replaced in order to make room for Windsor.) Kagome nosily leaned over Windsor's arms, practically salivating into the pot as he kneeled next to her.
"Lady, if you drool in the food your family will be most displeased," Windsor lectured, carefully setting the steaming pot on the table.
"Yeah Kagome, keep your spit in your mouth this time," Souta complained, seating himself across from her.
"Windsor, lad, I want to try out another sutra on you. Hold still," Kagome's grandfather instructed before pasted a piece of paper on the top of Windsor's head.
Windsor ignored the minor irritant and instead started pouring cups of green tea for everyone.
Kagome's grandpa looked crestfallen. "That's another one that doesn't work," he complained.
"I told you gramps, it's Kagome's powers that are keeping spirits at bay. Your stupid pieces of paper never worked," Souta informed his elder, earning himself a light smack upside the head.
"Impudent rascal," Kagome's grandfather rumbled, even though his eyes twinkled good naturedly at his grandson.
"Boys, we're about to eat," Kagome's mother lightly chastised, joining her family at the table.
"I want a fish cake, give me some fish cakes, and a boiled egg," Kagome begged Windsor. "And some suiji, give me a beef tendon Windsor, please?"
The edge of Windsor's mouth quirked. "Patience lady," he ordered.
Kagome pouted and waited for everyone to settle in their places. She turned to study the horse after several moments of silence.
It was now the beginning of winter, and Windsor had adjusted rather nicely into Kagome's life. She saw him at least every other day—if not more often, and he usually ate several meals a week with her and her family.
Over the weeks Kagome had discovered that Windsor was employed as an Industrial Engineer. He owned his own consulting firm, a small business with five other engineers, but he had gone into partial retirement when Kagome first fell through the well at age 15.
The job seemed to fit Windsor. Ordering people about and finding ways to make factories run efficiently matched her image of the orderly general. Kagome had also discovered that Windsor had previously worked as a military consultant for countries around the world, was also an architect, and had even worked for Amarante a few times on whatever dreamy venture the snow leopard had thought up. (She was still around, Kagome had talked to her on the phone several times before meeting her in person at the end of fall. It was great to see the snow leopard again. The devious cat still reluctantly ruled her clan with the help of her cousins—who were now married and had children of their own.)
However, even with the return of familiarity Kagome still couldn't completely offer him everything. She still had yet to hop on him and coo in his ear like she used to. It still didn't feel right quit yet.
"Is this enough for your first helping, Lady?" Windsor asked, drawing Kagome's attention to him.
It hadn't escaped Kagome's notice that Windsor referred to her as Lady and wouldn't call her just Kagome. "Hmm… well, for my first serving I suppose it will have to do," she said with an exaggerated sigh after inspecting her bowl.
"Pig," Souta offered from across the table.
"Undersized runt," Kagome bit back.
"Lady," Windsor warned.
Kagome scowled but dug into her oden as her mother smiled brilliantly at Windsor.
"You know, Windsor, I don't think my house has been this well run since I've had children," she remarked.
"It is a pleasure to hear that, Higurashi-san," Windsor said before starting in on his food.
Kagome briefly smiled at her food. It was nice to have the horse youkai around. He added something to the family.
"Yesterday I went to the store," Kagome said, carefully pronouncing the English words as she walked down the icy sidewalk. She reached up and pulled her hat further over her ears.
"What did you buy?" Windsor patiently asked, his breath turning into frozen mist as he exhaled.
"Um…eggs," Kagome offered, fumbling in her brain for an English vocabulary term.
"Eggs?" Windsor scoffed. "You couldn't have bought eggs, you went to a department store."
"I'm sorry, it's hard!" Kagome stated, switching back to Japanese. "And what does couldn't have mean anyway?"
"You were not able to, it wasn't possible," Windsor clarified. "You are doing better. Your pronunciation is growing clearer."
"Thanks," Kagome said, glowing from the praise.
The pair was out, buying a few groceries for Kagome's mother for that evening's dinner.
"You were pretty terrible when you started, Lady," Windsor mused.
"I was not!" Kagome objected, scampering around a happy couple, nearly banging into a giant heart decoration that was set up for Valentine's Day. "AGH! I hate this junk! Valentines Day is such an American holiday," Kagome complained, carefully edging around the giant, plastic heart before returning to Windsor's side.
"Which is appropriate because we are practicing English," Windsor pointed out before adjusting his sky blue scarf around his neck. (His Christmas gift from Kagome—also, ironically, another American holiday.)
"How did you get to be so good at English anyway?" Kagome asked. She had discovered the horse's talent for the foreign language a few weeks before Christmas when he found her seething over her English homework.
"One of the countries I worked for as a military consultant was America. When you have to speak in English military terms, the rest seems to fall in line," Windsor shrugged, an elegant shift of his shoulders as he steered Kagome aside so they could move out of the way of another couple that seemed to believe they were the only two people in the world.
"This is nuts," Kagome announced when they resumed walking down the sidewalk. "This is the last time we go grocery shopping on a holiday."
"Shall we practice more English, Lady?" Windsor suggested.
Kagome groaned at him.
"It was your idea to enroll in English school," Windsor pointed out as they nearly were ran over by a group of high school girls emerging from the candy shop. (The girls stopped to oogle Windsor as he passed.)
"I really hate this holiday," Kagome grumbled.
"What, afraid you won't be getting any White Day gifts?" Windsor teased.
Kagome rolled her eyes. "No. Oh! But before I forget," she snapped her fingers and stopped walking before she dug into her purse. After several moments she pulled out a small, red, square box that was tied together with cream ribbon. "Happy Valentines Day Windsor," Kagome said with a brilliant smile.
Windsor found it suddenly hard to swallow as he took the little box. "Thank you. I thought you said you didn't like Valentines day?" he said, debating if it would be bad manners to open the box and peer inside.
"I hate how commercialized it is," Kagome clarified, waving her hand. "The stupid red hearts, stores trying to get the most money for their chocolates. I still think it's important to show people that you love them and care about them," Kagome smiled, a motion that added warmth to her blue eyes. "You can open it now. I made honey candy and white chocolate candies since I know you aren't that fond of dark or milk chocolate," she added.
Windsor couldn't help his curiosity and slipped off the white ribbon, finding the promised, homemade candy neatly nestled in the little box. He shut the box and stared at Kagome with his bottomless eyes. "Kagome," he hesitated and reached out to brush a gloved finger across her right cheek. "Thank you."
Kagome's cheeks soon glowed red with more than just cold. "That has been the first time you've called me plain old Kagome in…" Kagome was unable to fathom the time.
Windsor abruptly jerked his hand away and smiled. "Yes. Well…,"
The pair was jostled by other couples.
"Come on, we should go. If we don't get the food and head back in time there will be no dinner!" Kagome said, making the switch into English.
"Oh how terrible. Do you think you could survive?" Windsor grinned, carefully slipping the red box into the deep boxes of his white jacket.
"Perhaps. I have a bag of candy in my room. The bag is from Halloween," Kagome said.
"That is disgusting," Windsor remarked before he began schooling her again. "To make the sentences flow better you could say 'I have a bag of Halloween candy in my room' or 'I have a bag of candy from Halloween in my room'."
"Ahh, I understand!"
Kagome uneasily paced back and forth under the branches of the god tree. Windsor leaned against the trunk, his eyes following her unceasing path.
They were alone at the shrine. The rest of Kagome's family was at the hospital. Souta, the goof, had been climbing a tree when the branch broke beneath him. He plummeted through the air, his bones audibly cracking when he hit the ground.
Windsor had offered to rush the boy to the hospital in a whirlwind of youki, but Kagome's mother refused and instead drove the boy there herself, Kagome's grandpa going with.
The younger boy was being x-rayed at the moment to discern the extent of his injuries.
"Lady, he'll be fine," Windsor said. "When I set him in the car he complained that your mother wouldn't allow him to bring his Nintendo DS with. I told you I suspect he has a broken arm and perhaps a broken bone in one of his legs, but he will live."
Windsor paused when Kagome did not acknowledge his words. "If anything I would be more worried about you killing him during his recovery. He is going to need a lot of help, you know."
Kagome stopped pacing and sighed. "Oh, I know he'll be okay. I am worried about him, but," she paused.
"But?" Windsor prodded.
Kagome shuddered. "He looked so much like Van, falling out of the sky like that?" Kagome grimaced, remembering the terrible scene of Van—the beautiful dragon—plummeting out of the sky, covered in a swarm of enemies.
Kagome had been inside when her brother fell, watching him through a window. She had screamed with horror when she saw him fall.
Windsor grimaced at the obviously terrible memory. "Van recovered as well."
Kagome whipped around to face him. "Did he?" she asked, her face aglow.
Windsor nodded. "He and Sumiko eventually became Lady Rin's honor guard. Sumiko now works for Amarante, but I believe Van is still with Lord Sesshoumaru."
Kagome let a relieved sigh escape from her, her shoulders slumping. "I am glad," she whispered.
The pair was quiet for a minute before Kagome hesitantly spoke again. "Windsor, could you..?"
"Yes?" Windsor again prodded.
"Could you… would you… ?" Kagome said in a rush of words.
Windsor considered being cruel and making her repeat the words, but since the months of meeting last fall, this was the first time Kagome was requesting to see his youkai shape. "Of course, Lady," he agreed, moving some distance away.
Kagome covered her eyes against the light as Windsor shifted. A wind rippled through the air and nearly blew her off her feet. When everything calmed Windsor was standing several feet away from her in his horse body. He was bigger than before, but just as beautiful.
His mane and tail were still thick and luxurious, their creamy-ness a startling contrast to his golden fur. He nickered invitingly, pricking his ears in Kagome's direction.
Kagome couldn't help the tears that filled her eyes. "Oh Windsor," she said before throwing herself at him.
Carefully, the horse lowered himself to the grassy ground, allowing Kagome cuddle into his neck. He curled his head around her, jealous, for the first time in his life, of Hiroshi and Haruko and the mobility and flexibility their feline forms allowed them.
Kagome hugged Windsor's neck, his muscle warm and assuring. She buried her head in his soft mane and didn't try to muffle the sounds of her sobs.
When Kagome's family returned two hours later they were not completely surprised to find Kagome braiding the hair of a giant, palomino horse, tucking flowers in its mane.
"I don't want to study anymore," Kagome declared, spread out over the leather couch in Windsor's stylish apartment. Textbooks and mountains of notebooks were spread out on a coffee table in front of her, a colorful assortment of highlighters and pens rolling across them.
"So take a break, come have a snack," Windsor coaxed, leaning against the counter that divided the kitchen from the living room. "Do you want some coffee, green tea?"
"Do you have that caramel cappuccino mix?" Kagome asked, internally debating if she should continue her studies or not.
"Just got a new box of it since you announced you were coming over," Windsor confirmed.
Kagome rocketed out of her chair and started for Windsor. "That sounds divine," she groaned as Windsor placed a kettle of water on the oven.
"How are you holding up?" Windsor asked as Kagome joined him in the kitchen.
"I think I'm good for math and chem, which are the subjects I'm the most worried about," Kagome grinned, grimacing as she rubbed at a kink in her neck.
Windsor motioned for her to turn around, which she did, and he started massaging her shoulders.
"Haaa… heaven," Kagome pronounced, Windsor smiled at her back. "English shouldn't be a problem. I've been working on that with your help for weeks. Actually yesterday night my teacher complimented me and said I'm doing very good and she hasn't heard such accent-less English since she left the states to teach over here."
"Good job," Windsor complimented.
"Thanks. A part of me wonders if I'm gonna be able to pull it off. I have to graduate from high school. I need to get into college," Kagome said, lowering her head as Windsor worked up her neck.
"You don't need to," Windsor casually offered. "I have more than enough investments to serve us for the rest of our lives."
"Windsor, I am not going to be your granny you have to take care of. No. I'm still, technically, a teenager! I need to get out in the world and do something."
"You could work for my company," Windsor again offered.
"Windsor, what part about not wanting to be your granny do you not understand?"
"How about Amarante? Didn't she offer you a position?" Windsor challeneged.
"Yes, but Amarante is in the fashion industry. I don't think that's what I want to get into."
"Then what do you want to do?"
"I'm not sure," Kagome sighed as the kettle of water started to shriek. Windsor halted the massage and reached past her to turn the burner off. "I want to say that I have plans to be a teacher, a historian, a doctor, something… but inheriting the shrine is sounding better and better."
Windsor placed his hands on Kagome's shoulders and turned her so she face him. She was biting her lip, her blue eyes simmering with uncertainty.
"Kagome," Windsor quietly said, gently leaning forward until his forehead rest against hers. "Just do whatever you want. Your family will support your decision. I will support your decision," he promised.
Kagome swallowed, the spit lodging in her throat, and offered the horse a weak smile. "I know," she whispered before blinking twice.
It occurred to Kagome in that very moment that whatever semblance of a wall, whatever little parts of Kagome and Windsor that kept them from being as open and free in the warring era as they were now… were gone.
But something else had replaced it. Remembering the times before when Kagome would tackle hug Windsor and ride on his back like he was a horse, Kagome could only remember warmth and happiness. But now, with Windsor's forehead against her own… Kagome was distinctly attentive, staring at him like her world hinged on him.
"Kagome," Windsor said, hesitating for a moment. He very slowly tipped his head lower, and brushed his lips against Kagome's. It was the barest brush, but he pulled back and stared at Kagome, uncertainty swirling in his eyes.
He looked like a frightened colt.
Kagome couldn't help the laughter that bubbled up from her throat as she threw her arms around Windsor's neck and stood on her tip toes. The uncertainty in Windsor's eyes was replaced with delight when Kagome yanked his head down and kissed him herself.
Later that night at the shrine Kagome's family, after observing the star struck way Kagome stumbled up to her room after getting back from studying with Windsor, dug out the their chart.
Grandpa and Souta handed over yen to Kagome's triumphant mother. "I knew the exams would get to them," she grinned.
Ten years later a somewhat surprised Sesshoumaru ran into Windsor and Kagome at a private party.
"Sesshoumaru, it has been a long time, how are you?" Windsor asked.
"I am well. I am contemplating returning to Japan," Sesshoumaru said, his gaze flickering to Kagome.
Kagome was smiling, looking absolutely stunning in a blue, silk dress, her hand tucked in the crook of Windsor's arm.
"What brings you two to this event?" Sesshoumaru asked, feeling somewhat displeased. He had run into Windsor over the centuries, but he hadn't thought he would ever see the horse youkai with the blue eyed priestess. (Although it was just as well… Sesshoumaru remembered he knew Kagome was alive in this time. When he got around to it he was going to give Amarante a call to learn Kagome's contact information and perhaps drop in on the beautiful miko. He had missed her terribly when she first left, and as the centuries robbed him of companions he played with the idea of renewing his contact with her when he finally reached her century. It looked like Windsor had saved him the trouble of looking for her.)
"Amarante invited us," Windsor nodded. "It's not often the youkai of Japanese society get together," he said.
Sesshoumaru sipped at his crystal wine glance before acknowledging the comment. "True. I believe Shippo and Ryder returned for the occasion as well. Have you seen them yet, Kagome?"
"Yes, but tonight wasn't anything special," Kagome smiled, her white teeth flashing. I see them a lot."
"I see," Sesshoumaru said, staring at the beautiful human, he was mildly surprised when Windsor leaned closer to Kagome, his deep eyes growing darker. Sesshoumaru had to keep himself from chuckling: how amusing. His ex-general had appointed himself Kagome's babysitter.
Not that Sesshoumaru blamed him. Although Kagome's beauty wasn't as dazzling as, say, Amarante or any of the other female youkai's, her aura was soft and warm, inviting to anyone she set eyes upon. Many would fall under her spell.
"How are you?" Sesshoumaru further inquired, ignoring Windsor. "I find that I must apologize for my… less than gracious treatment of you."
Kagome shrugged, looking so much like she had centuries ago in spite of the finery she wore. "It's fine. I suppose I should almost thank you. It made me re-evaluate my friends," Kagome said, glancing at Windsor with a mischievous gleam in her eye.
Windsor returned the smile, and Sesshoumaru felt himself frowning. He didn't remember his general ever behaving so… open. The horse was usually stiff with duty and honor. But, if anyone could break him of his stiff personality, it would be Kagome.
Sesshoumaru resolved to re-connect with Kagome. He had missed her, and she didn't appear to scorn him. Perhaps it could still work out…
"Kagome," Sesshoumaru started, but was interrupted when Kagome's eyes bugged wide.
"Takeshi?" she uttered, her mouth dropping open. "Excuse me," she hurried said to Sesshoumaru before hiking up the skirts of her dress and rushing across the room, her heels tapping on the marble floor.
"What was that—," Sesshoumaru started to ask Windsor but halted when he saw Kagome's path.
She swooped bent over and swooped down to pick up a giggling toddler who had been shedding his clothes as he ran from his nanny. The boy, an adorable child with deep eyes, tan skin, and black hair, was wearing only his diaper and was shrieking with laughter.
Kagome scolded the little boy, even though her own grin kept threatening to break across her face. As she shifted the boy his black horse tail that protruded from his hind end fell across her arm.
Sesshoumaru returned his gaze to Windsor fast enough to give himself whiplash.
Windsor was innocently blinking, his eyes wide, a naive smile on his lips.
"She is your wife?" Sesshoumaru growled before draining his glass of whine.
"Yes," Windsor smiled.
Sesshoumaru was a little surprised, was he been that busy that he let eight years slip through his fingers before recalling the adorable miko?
"She doesn't look much older," Sesshoumaru said, frowning as he watched the mother and child, who were both giggling uncontrollably as the toddler's nanny began to lecture him.
"She's a miko. She's got the completed Shikon no Tama," Windsor shrugged, he hesitated a moment before speaking again. "If you'll excuse me," he said. He turned around and moved towards his wife and child, his cream horsetail sweeping behind him.
When he reached the pair he leaned out and Kagome kissed him on the lips before their son squealed and reached for the horse youkai.
Sesshoumaru mused how unlucky he was, and how he really had no one to blame but himself. He had loved Kagome, a part of him still loved her, and he doubted he would ever completely get over her, and his newfound loss. He also mulled on the fact that Kagome had kicked every inch of stiffness out of the horse.
Sesshoumaru's one time general hadn't even bothered to bow when leaving.
A/N: Annnnddd there we go!
That's probably the last alternate ending. I'm not sure I'll ever get around to a Saku Kagome pairing just because I have NO idea how that would blow down and… there's pretty much no one left besides Saku.
So I hoped you guys like it! Please review and let me know whose alternate ending you liked best! I personally like Windsor's the best… even better than Sesshoumaru's alternate ending, but I always did have a major soft spot for him.