Disclaimer: Don't own…don't sue. Tormenting them purely for my own sadistic pleasure. All characters and most situations owned by Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan Publishing, and VIZ is in the dog-pile somewhere, too.

A/N: The first chapter of 'Time Lapse' was posted on June 27, 2005, and so the fic comes to an end on its third anniversary.

Thanks to everyone who has read, reviewed, growled at and supported this story, but particularly the fabulous 'Covers My Ass' (CMA) team of Forthright, Nokomarie the Snake, Ranuel and Susanne TJ. They did absolutely stellar bunny-wrangling work, provided authorial motivation (including boots to the arse when appropriate), and helped me to 'keep it real'.

Couldn't have done it without all of you. It's been a helluva ride; thanks for your company.

Warning: Rampant fluff. Keep a toothbrush handy.

The Phoenix Blade: Time Lapse



Three Years Later

Graduation Day

Sunlight streamed into their bedroom, tickling Kagome's eyelashes until she roused slightly. Damn. Forgot to close the blinds last night... again. Squinting against the golden beams, she looked at the clock across the room. 0500. Urk. Too damn early… but not for my bladder, apparently. Sighing, she began manoeuvring over to the side of the mattress while trying to not awaken the bed's other sleeping occupant. Finally planting her feet on the floor, she levered herself onto her feet and adjusted her rumpled nightgown so that it hung modestly as she made her way to the toilet.

Several minutes later, she returned to the bedroom and stretched carefully, mindful of her compromised balance. Not ready to go back to sleep, she drifted over to the sunlit window and leaned against the frame. Carefully extending her foot, she tickled the belly of a cream-coloured cat with striking black markings asleep on its back in the sunbeam. The neko-youkai cracked a red eye and then gave a tongue-curling yawn as he stretched, impressive claws protruding from his black paws before rolling up onto his feet and affectionately rubbing against her bare legs, his twin tails curling around her ankles.

"I agree… it's too early to be up," Kagome said to the cat, who mewed before proceeding to thoroughly wash himself. "At least you can still see your toes to clean them," she muttered before turning her attention elsewhere. Smiling as she caressed her belly, she gazed with unfocussed eyes over the morning cityscape. Where have the last three years gone? Back at the beginning, I wasn't sure if this end of time would ever feel like 'home', but I can't imagine being anywhere else now… even though sometimes I wish Sango and Miroku could see my baby… their many-times-great grandchild, and know that Inuyasha and I successfully made a life for ourselves together.

Footsteps padded across the floor and strong arms slid around her. "Good morning, aisai," purred a deep voice as her earlobe was lightly nibbled by a sharp fang.

"Good morning, anata… did I wake you?" she asked, cuddling into his embrace while reaching up to rub a velvety ear.

"Not really; it's pretty damn bright in here." Yashita mouthed the crook of her neck, a rumble emanating from his chest as he fitted himself more snugly against her back while pulling her close. "Mmm… you smell so good," he murmured, swaying both of them in a gentle rhythm.

"You say that every morning," she pointed out.

"It's true…" He nuzzled her cheek until she turned her mouth to his. Kissing her softly, he first cupped her swollen belly before slowly running his hand around the curve to rest on top. "Lively this morning, isn't she?" he commented.

Kagome giggled as they began their daily game. "Yes, he is, isn't he?"

"It's gonna be a girl… I can feel it," he insisted, gently pressing his palm against tiny drumming feet.

"Is that your youkai sense of smell's verdict?"

"That's my gut feeling's verdict."

"Mom had the girl, so I figure we'll have the boy," Kagome said, resting her hand on top of his.

He rolled his eyes. "Keh. That's highly logical reasoning, koishii. Does that mean Yukihime is gonna have a girl next winter?"

"Ayame certainly hopes so! She's already stockpiling pink baby clothes."

"After all those obnoxious brats she raised, I'll bet she's wishing for a girl," Yashita snorted.

Kagome soothingly petted his ear because his purr had changed to a growl. "If the doctors are correct about my due date, we'll find out who has bragging rights in a week."

"Luckily you handed off your Celestial Bodyguard duties to Akagane before today's ceremony." He turned her in his arms. "Either boy or girl, it doesn't matter, because they'll be loved, cherished and spoiled absolutely rotten." Taking her hand, he tugged her back towards the bed. "C'mere, koishii… I missed my morning snuggle."

"You might need a winch to haul me back out," she sighed, following his lead.

"Keh. You're as light as a feather."

"Good answer, koibito."

Yashita sat on the side of the mattress, pulled her between his knees and began working the gauzy nightgown up over her belly. "Take it off, please," he urged, his gaze intent. Kagome complied, pulling the garment up over her head and letting it fall to the floor. His slow grin as he took in her generous curves only grew more appreciative as he followed his gaze with his hands. Growling lightly, he pressed tender kisses across her taut skin while she ran her fingers through his bangs.

"If the baby's first word is a growl instead of 'mama', I'm holding you responsible," Kagome teased.

His amber eyes twinkled. "Her first word with be 'dada'," he insisted, smirking. "Then I'm gonna teach her to say 'Wind Scar'."

"As long as it isn't 'keh' or 'wench'… or worse," she retorted, tweaking his nose.

He snorted as he slid backwards across the sheets and pulled her into bed after him. "This is from the woman who is renowned for her lurid profanity?"

"I've reformed," Kagome sniffed as she carefully arranged herself on her side facing him.

"Right. So that wasn't you colourfully telling off Kogashu's youngest brat the other day at Ayame's garden party?"

"He deserved it, the rotten little shit… er… the 'ridiculously rude young man'."

Chortling gleefully, Yashita buried his face in Kagome's impressive cleavage and inhaled deeply while she giggled at the way his ears went from crisply upright to softly drooping. When he lifted his head, the laughter died in her throat at the smokiness of his gaze. "Gods, you smell so fucking fantastic," he growled before kissing her heatedly.

"Apparently," she smiled, squirming as his claws tickled over her hips. "Since this is the second time in ten minutes you've brought it up."

He kissed her again, this time more gently. "Can't help it; I'm so incredibly happy, Kagome." Wrapping his arms around her and pulling her as close against him as their unborn child would allow, he whispered, "Everything I've ever wanted is here with me right now… everything." Feathering her hair though his fingers, he continued, his voice cracking, "I'm the luckiest hanyou alive."

Kagome kissed him, sweetly expressing her love for him and for his heartfelt declaration. They lay quietly together, kissing and cuddling until they fell back asleep twined in each other's arms.

The alarm roused them two hours later; Yashita was reluctant to leave their warm nest, but did simply to turn off the shrill sound. Letting the cat out of the room before he transformed to battle size and clawed the door open, the hanyou slid back into bed and tenderly kissed her awake. "Rise and shine, koishii… again," he grumbled, but was struck speechless by the misted quality of her grey eyes. "So beautiful…" he whispered, kissing her again and again until he had to forcibly remind himself that they both had obligations to fulfill. "You have a shower; I'll start the rice," he offered.

"Thanks… um, help?"

Chuckling, Yashita lifted her in his arms and carefully set her on her feet, steadying her until she found her balance, then walked her to the bathroom door. "We're due at the Imperial Palace for Suzume to truss you up in your formal robes by 0900, so you have an hour and a half until the car arrives."

"Yessir," Kagome said, saluting cheekily.

"Not enough room for the three of us in the shower, anyways." Yashita stuck out his tongue and scampered out the door to avoid easy retaliation. She contemplated the attractive potential of watching her buck-naked husband flexing in the kitchen and was strongly tempted to take a seat at the table and enjoy the show, but instead regretfully took herself into the shower.

The warm water soothed as it poured over her body and Kagome took a moment to contemplate the future. I've missed teaching the cadets; I'm glad Rin made Sessaki promise that I can return to the Academy once my maternity leave is over… if Yash doesn't freak too much over leaving the baby with Kogane, since Mom's busy with Takara-chan. Sessaki's too traditional and Yash's too paranoid; I'll more than likely be a house-goddess for a few decades.

She was working shampoo through her hair when the first contraction struck; the powerful tightening sensation just above her pubis coupled with a creeping pain in her lower back gave her pause. It lasted several long seconds before receding. That was far stronger… and more painful… than the Braxton-Hick's contractions I had the other night. I'd better find a clock!

Rinsing out the shampoo, she hesitated over using conditioner for the extra time it would take, but then reasoned if Baby Nishiyori was seriously considering making his or her grand entrance, this might be her last chance to do so for a few days, depending on how things went. She'd just finished applying the product when a second contraction took her breath away, and made it plainly obvious that the baby was definitely serious. Was that five minutes apart? Slightly panicky and excited all at once, she moved to finish washing her hair and ran a soapy cloth over her body.

The third contraction drove her to her knees and left her gasping on the tiled floor of the shower. The pain's overwhelming intensity took her breath away, but Yashita was there, turning off the water and wrapping his arms around her while their fire-cat butted his head against her arm and yowled in distress. When she could talk again, she gave her husband a wry smile. "I think the baby dislikes pomp and circumstance as much as I do… better tell your brother there'll be one less guest at the graduation ceremony…" she said, petting the cat with shaking hands.

Yashita pressed his forehead against hers. "Two less… I'm not leaving your side."

"Are you sure? Sessaki told you how difficult it was for him to watch Rin's pain, but not be able to do anything about it. Attacking the doctor to relieve your stress isn't a good idea!"

"We created this baby together… we'll greet him or her together," he said firmly as he lifted her to her feet and draped a towel around her shoulders. "Ready for this? To become parents?"

"Bit late for that question, koibito… help me dress before the next contraction knocks me sideways?"


Five hours, one ear-splitting scream (from the expectant mother), two threats of bodily harm (from the expectant father), and one request for sedation (from those restraining the expectant father) later, a new life entered the world… bellowing loudly at the ill-treatment.

"Definitely has your vocal cords," said the exhausted, glowing mother to the sagging, trembling father as the wailing infant was whisked across the room to record the weights and measures of birth.

Yashita gathered his scattered wits, still completely stunned by what he had just witnessed, and pressed fervent kisses to Kagome's damp forehead. "I love you so much," he whispered fiercely, clasping her hands in his.

"Love you, too," she replied, and the tender, intense kiss that followed seemed to seal a pact. "Go see our baby." He left her side to join the small crowd gathered around the fussing child on the warming table while the nurses made Kagome comfortable.

"How are you feeling, Mrs. Nishiyori?" one of the nurses asked as she solicitously tucked a fresh blanket into place.

"Much better than a few minutes ago!" she managed to joke, then caught sight of Yashita. He slowly came towards her, his entire attention focussed on the tiny bundle in his arms, with such an awestruck expression on his face that she couldn't help but smile.

Her hanyou carefully laid their baby in Kagome's arms. "Say hello to your mother, squirt," he choked out, amber eyes glistening. Kagome briefly nuzzled his jaw before taking her first look at peach-fuzz dark hair, chubby cheeks and long eyelashes. A tiny fist clenched, then opened; she slid her pinkie finger into the baby's grip while admiring dainty shell-like human ears. Eyes slitted open and quickly closed as a small nose wrinkled in an unmistakeable grimace.

"Blue eyes?" Kagome asked in surprise after this brief glimpse.

"All puppies have blue eyes," the nurse quipped, with a straight face; Yashita was too lost in adoration of his wife and son to retort. "Do you have names picked out?" she asked.

With a mischievous grin, Kagome glanced up at her doting husband before she replied, "Kanemaru… or maybe… Fenikkusuken."

His response was swift, loud and gleefully anticipated. "Fenik…? No way is our kid having a lame-ass name like that!"


The Phoenix Blade: Time Lapse