Author's Note: I know that epilogues are supposed to be a short wrap-up of the plot but I couldn't help it---I mean Inu-Yasha and Kagome both had been through so much and came so close to actually parting that I had to load up on the fluff and give it a taste of citrus. That was also why I had Inu-Yasha become so open to tell (and show) Kagome how he felt. And the paragraph describing "Voices of a Distant Star" is a very brief and barebones synopsis of the anime---a very bittersweet story that is exquisite and I felt related well to my plot. So enjoy.


It was evening in 21st century Tokyo, the sky clear yet due to the combination of air pollutants and neon glare of the center of the city, the many stars were invisible. The moon was in its last quarter, hanging like a large crescent over the metropolis as life went on below. However, several kilometers from the center of the city the buildings that made up the Higurashi Shrine were shrouded in the blanket of night and the stars and moon were lending their light to the shadows of the shrine ground. At the main house, which was also dark a figure clad in red with long silver hair and a baseball cap was leaning against the door frame, his arms folded casually as he stared at the sky.

The hanyou Inu-Yasha was deep in reverie. Sure is a quiet night even with all the sounds and smells here in Kagome's era he observed as the occasional rumble of a passing vehicle sounded below the steep staircase leading to the shrine. He yawned widely as he continued to ponder over the last couple of days and the extraordinary events that had taken place…

Kagome's revival was received by the group at Kaede's hut like a precious gift given by a benevolent and loving Kami who saw what her near death had wrought. As soon as they all saw she was alive, they all flew to the pallet where she had lain, led by the overjoyed kitsune, who pushed himself between Kagome and Inu-Yasha, who in turn was annoyed yet understood the little one's eagerness to hug the one that had become like a mother to him. And he was angered when the yorozoku Kouga insisted to be at Kagome's side, embracing her as he pushed the hanyou completely over.

"Why you mangy bastard," Inu-Yasha snarled as he was crowded out by the ookami and the others that clustered around his beloved. He growled in frustration at the circumstance as Sesshoumaru, the only one in the chamber who had not rushed to Kagome, turned and walked out. Noticing his brother's exodus, Inu-Yasha leapt up to follow.

"Hey Sesshoumaru, wait. I want to talk to you."

Ignoring his hanyou brother, Sesshounaru walked through the front portal just as Aun landed at the hut bearing his companions Jaken and Rin. The toad vassal dismounted and took hold of the dragon's reins as the little girl jumped down from the two-headed dragon and scampered over to the taiyoukai

"Sesshoumaru-sama! Sesshoumaru-sama!" In the breathless abandon of a child Rin addressed her master, "Did you save Kagome-sama's life with your healing sword? The same one you used to save me"

Inu-Yasha stood in the doorway of the hut and watched in astonishment as Sesshoumaru responded. The aristocratic taiyoukai's own golden orbs had softened as they gazed down into the earnest button eyes of the small, mortal girl and his head inclined slightly in the affirmative. At his gesture, Rin's joy was evident as she squealed happily.

"Arigatou, Sesshoumaru-sama!" Rin's head bobbed in a bow and Sesshoumaru further amazed Inu-Yasha as he gave a brief twitch of his lips, the semblance of a smile. The hanyou then came forward to address his kin.


The taiyoukai raised an eyebrow in question. "Nani?"

Inu-Yasha turned his head to avert his brother's direct stare. "I uh, want to say arigatou too. For saving Kagome."

"Humph." Sesshoumaru turned and made to leave as he tossed out, "'Twas Tenseiga's choice, not mine." He then addressed his vassal, "Jaken, let's be off."

The toad, still holding Aun's reins nodded in obedience. "Hai, Sesshomaru-sama." He called brusquely to the little girl," Come along and don't dawdle, Rin."

"Hai Jaken-sama," Rin said and she scampered up as Aun lowered one of his necks to assists her on his back. She turned and waved at the hanyou as the trio disappeared into the woods.

"So Tenseiga was the one that decided to save Kagome, huh?" Inu-Yasha scoffed, "Keh, figures. Sesshoumaru would never lower himself to save the life of a human who is important to me." He turned and headed back toward the hut as his name was called from within.


Afraid by the summons that Kagome was needing him, he rushed through the door, causing the flap to become unhinged…


The hanyou continued musing as his name was called again, this time snapping him back to the here and now.


He turned around and saw Kagome's mother, with the man who had been the doctor that treated Kagome when she had been brought to the hospital, Dr. Ayase Takeshi. Since the hanyou had brought Kagome back, the doctor had come to visit to examine her, and had been initially shocked to see her in such good health, inquiring how she had recovered so completely. And as he heard the explanation, he seemed strangely unfazed by the unusual circumstance, prompting Kagome herself to ask her mother why. After Mrs. Higurashi's own explanation it appeared that he had been told something fabricated about Kagome's absence and by his familiarity with the family that he had stayed in touch with Kagome's mother as she had been languishing in the Sengoku-jidai. That was a few days ago. However, this night noticing that Mrs. Higurashi was wearing a rather decorative dress that differed from her usual attire he cast an impassive glance at the modern man who, in spite of the advances of his era when he had treated Kagome had been helpless and so certain she would die. In light of that Inu-Yasha could not help feeling somewhat smug and superior to have proven him wrong.

"Inu-Yasha-kun, Dr.Ayase and I are going out for the evening," Mrs. Higurashi said with a smile.

"Going out?" Although he had spent over a year being with Kagome Inu-Yasha was still trying to assimilate into the manner of 21st century speech and he gave her mother a quizzical look.

She had chuckled as Ayase explained, "We are attending a performance of kabuki down at the Center of the Arts downtown. Then we'll have a late supper."

Inu-Yasha saw the man's demeanor and was slightly put on edge as he sensed a proprietory air toward Mrs. Higurashi, not unlike his own where Kagome was concerned. He met the steady gaze of the man and folded his arms across his chest.

"Is that so?"

Mrs. Higurashi nodded and gave the hanyou a reassuring pat on the shoulder. "Don't worry, Inu-Yasha-kun. I won't be out too late." As the doctor assisted her with her wrap she added, "Jiya has retired for the night and Souta is staying at his friend Satoru's so you and Kagome may have some time alone."

Inu-Yasha blushed as the news caused his heart to pound and he stammered, "U-uh, s-sure. So where is she?"

"She's still in the bathroom, finishing her bath. She'll be down soon."

That statement brought to mind a picture that served as further stimulus to raise his emotions and the heat of his blood so embarrassed he nodded as he averted the woman's steady and kind gaze. "G-good."

"Well then, konban wa. We'll see you later." Kagome's mother waved as she and the doctor turned and left.

Dr. Ayase asked dubiously as they walked out the door, "Are you sure that it's wise to leave them alone? After all, they are---," but Mrs. Higurashi cut him off with a smile.

"Believe me, they'll be fine. I trust my daughter as a young woman with a level head and Inu-Yasha-kun is and always has been a perfect gentleman."

"If you say so," Ayase said as he glanced over his shoulder at the hanyou's sullen face, which was glaring at him…

After Kagome's mother and the doctor left, Inu-Yasha stepped over to the foot of the staircase and leaned against the wall to wait for her to come down. His keen ears could hear from the bathroom the splashing of the water in the tub where Kagome and her family cleansed themselves. He yawned as he silently groused about how he thought it was silly that Kagome insisted on bathing herself as often as possible, and every single day when she was here in her own era. It puzzled him as he wondered why the people of the future deemed it necessary to bathe daily in a vat of steaming water, torturing themselves when they never did anything that was overly dirty and weekly baths would suffice. As for himself, he avoided the room completely as he remembered all too well that the last time he had gone in there was when Souta had made scalding water come from the wall into the tub and when he had felt that his skin was being boiled right off him.

But all things considered, Inu-Yasha admitted that being in Kagome's time he truly experienced something that was elusive in his own time; peace of mind and soul. Here there was no Naraku to pursue, no burning vengeance to seek for the past and only ease and unconditional acceptance, things of which the hanyou had grown to yearn. He had also felt a part of her family for some time now and keeping his promise to return her to them when she was well had been a sacred duty to him. Rest from the tumult of his life was always available at the Higurashi Shrine, it had become his harbor as had she. This was why he was so anxious when she was late and came to get her, for if there was one thing that the hanyou feared it was that she would choose to stay and he would never see her again.

Inu-Yasha sighed as he then remembered the night Kagome had told him of her resolve, to return with him through the time slip for one last time and then come back for good. And he recalled how the news had sat inside him, like a cold lump of ice that caused his soul to shiver. But as always he had hid that, like he had hid the deep chasms of pain and loneliness that had marked its landscape…

Until he had met Kagome…then the chasms closed, and filled up with her warmth, cheeriness and beauty, making living without her…unthinkable.

Becoming somewhat impatient to have her join him Inu-Yasha sighed again just what the hell is taking her so damn long to finish anyway? Keh, when she bathes in a hot spring, she doesn't take half as long as this.

He was about to bellow for her to hurry up when his ears twitched as he heard the bathroom door open and dainty footsteps heading to the top of the stairs. Inu-Yasha's keen sense of smell then picked up on the sweet fragrance of vanilla orchid that wafted down as Kagome descended, heralding her arrival as she joined him.

"Sorry I took so long in the tub Inu-Yasha, but I haven't had a bath in so long that I felt absolutely disgusting. Geez, I couldn't wash my hair for a whole month and it was a huge grease pit. I had to lather it twice and wash it three times to get it clean," she said with a smile. Then her smile faded as she asked, "Inu-Yasha? "

The hanyou was struck silent as he could only stare at the vision before him. Although he was admittedly rough around the edges and lacked the most fundamental knowledge of male/female relations and basic skills of courtship, Inu-Yasha was still very much a man and his body responded to the entire package as his keen olfactory and visual senses feasted on Kagome. She was clad in a clingy short-sleeved pale yellow dress that ruffled about her gently. The hem came to mid-thigh and décolletage was a wide scoop that came to her slender shoulders. Her hair, now completely clean shone like a midnight sky with deep blue highlights and hung in a silky fall that went down her back. To add a finish to the picture of perfection, she had applied a subtle makeup that enhanced her high cheekbones, full mouth and fathomless mahogany eyes. She was breathtaking as he found himself dazzled.

Kagome came closer as Inu-Yasha's uncustomary silence had her concerned. She called softly to him, "Inu-Yasha? Are you okay?"

He shook himself mentally as the sound of her voice reached through the haze of his heightened senses and realizing how he had become aroused, the suddenly embarrassed hanyou slid into the comfort zone of his typical surliness. "Keh, what took you so long?" he asked irritably.

Kagome sighed as she replied, "I just told you, it took me a long time to wash my hair, it was filthy." She tossed the inky mane and thrust her face in his as she asked, "Didn't you hear me?"

Her action served to make him even more stimulated as the tantalizing scent of her was becoming heady and his heart began to pound. "S-sure I heard you," he retorted.

"Then why are you hassling me? Geez, can't we ever not argue about something stupid Inu-Yasha, huh?" Kagome turned away annoyed as she sighed, "After everything we've been through lately, I thought we could have a quiet time together but I guess that's too much to ask for."

Nervously Inu-Yasha rushed forward and got in front of her, causing her brows to shoot up in surprise. "Kagome, why are you so mad at me?" Not waiting for her answer he pressed on, further surprising her by taking hold of her by the shoulders. "I know I failed to protect you against Naraku again and you almost died but I promise I won't ever let him lay his filthy hands on you again."

His earnest demeanor, replete with intense golden sincerity from his eyes was unnerving to Kagome yet she was touched by the hanyou's personal brand of openness. Her own manner softened as she responded, "Oh Inu-Yasha, I'm not mad at you. I'm grateful that you did all you could to bring me back." She rested her hands on his chest, their touch electrifying as he was drawn into her deep and unguarded sable orbs.

There was a pregnant moment where time stood still between the two, their hearts beating separately yet in unison. Inu-Yasha felt everything else fading into a blur as Kagome became the only thing in the world to him. "Uhh, it was Sesshoumaru and the Tenseiga that brought you back actually," he murmured.

"That may be true but you brought me back and did everything you could to break the spell on me. Kaede told me how you tried to bring back a special flower to save me," Kagome rejoined softly.

"But I failed at that too," Inu-Yasha admitted, lowering his head. "That bastard Naraku killed the lunahana before we could bring them back to the hut to save you."

She nodded. "Inu-Yasha, Kaede told me how you stayed with me alone and held me thinking I was dead." Kagome's eyes began to glisten as she continued, "Kaede said how upset you were…I'm sorry I worried you so."

So Kaede told you everything, huh? Was the old hag spying on me the whole time? "Uhhh…," he stuttered as he became bemused by the emotions raging inside because of the combination of Kagome's apology and nearness. "Y-you don't have anything to apologize for. It was all my fault."

At his confession her mood changed like quicksilver as Kagome smiled and then stepped back taking hold of his hand. "C'mon Inu-Yasha. Let's go into the living room to relax, okay?"

He just nodded and followed as she led him into the room where the strange big box with moving pictures was. The box, called television fascinated Inu-Yasha every time he saw it, especially when Kagome's brother Souta engaged warriors in battle using two little boxes to make them move. The hanyou had tried his hand at the combat the other day but had gotten so frustrated by the need to press buttons to fight while his claws got in the way that he leapt up to draw out the Tetsusaiga to gain victory in the battle. But his action was thwarted by another one of Kagome's "osuwaris", causing the inevitable face plant into the tatani. As usual, he growled in response but Kagome's mother smoothed things over by offering him some ohagi, a sweet that he had never tasted before that quickly became a favorite. He was placated as he devoured the treat, immediately forgetting his anger.

"C'mon Inu-Yasha. Have a seat over there." Kagome gestured to the wall opposite the television, where two cushions were set up behind the table.

His reverie shattered, he did as he was bidden and noticed that there was a plate of ohagi, along with tea set up, something he surmised that Mrs. Higurashi had done before she went out with the doctor. Suddenly hungry the hanyou helped himself to one of the sticky sweets.

I wonder why we're in here Inu-Yasha queried silently. He watched the actions of his beloved and more questions arose Are we gonna watch some pictures on the television box?

Kagome had gone over to the television and knelt down to take a flat disk out of a case and leaned toward another box that was flat, with a small door that opened. Inu-Yasha watched in curiosity as she put the round disk in the box and then turned on the television. A bright blue screen came on and then a picture of a girl using what Kagome called a "cell phone" was frozen.

His mouth full of ohagi, the hanyou asked, "So what's this, Kagome? What are we going to do, watch moving pictures? He licked the bean paste from his fingers as she rose and came over, taking a seat on the cushion beside him.

"Uh-huh," she answered as she took a small, flat box and pressed a button. The pictures on the television box began to move and talk. "Ayumi lent me this DVD, called 'Voices of a Distant Star' and she said it was really good. With everything that happened in the last month, I forgot I hadn't watched it so I figured we could watch it while everybody was out."

Still somewhat perplexed by the extraordinary objects of 21st century Japanese life Inu-Yasha asked, "What's a DVD?"

Kagome replied, "It's a disk that has movies on it."


"Stories told with moving pictures," she explained. "This movie is called 'animation' and is told in drawn pictures instead of live action ones."


The hanyou was not any more informed as he did not really understand the entire concept but he was fascinated by the pictures on the TV anyway. So he watched as the tale unfolded. Kagome provided explanations of the more confounding elements for him as they watched, explaning that it took place in the future of her time.

It started with a girl, about Kagome's age, trying to contact her boyfriend by sending messages on her cell phone. Then it showed the two walking home from school, talking about a war with some life forms from Mars called Tarsians and a battle being waged to wipe out mankind by them that ended up in the star system of Sirius. The girl, Mikako is recruited by the United Nations Army and joined the cause to fight in a mechanical suit called a tracer. The boy, Noboru was left back on earth and as the girl went further and further into space, their messages took longer and longer to get to each other. The story finished with the girl Mikako far out in space sending a message to Noboru that took eight years to get to him as he had matured into manhood. He had in the same time gone on with his life, vowing to "harden his heart and become stronger" as he decided to not check his cell for any more messages from Mikako. The final scene had Noboru finally receiving the message from Mikako with her declaring her love for him. So he tosses his vow aside and types a message back…"I am here."

Inu-Yasha watched the story that Kagome said took place in the far future and found many things about it to be even more incredible then the time in which she lived. But as the relationship between the young couple became the prominent point in the story, the hanyou found himself relating to the characters, especially Noboru, who had grudgingly accepted that his love was far away.

Keh, I guess he had no choice, letting her go so far away. Just like me, I had no choice, when Kagome decided that she was going to come back here and never return to my own era. As much as that hurt me I could not and would never change her mind, if it was what she wanted…

He continued watching as the two in the story lived their separate lives, yet still constantly thought about each other and the haunting sadness of the couple's yearnings while they were apart touched his heart as he made comparisons with his own feelings about Kagome.

Yet living with the idea that I would never see Kagome again was pure torture…and even more when she was close to dying, I felt like my insides were cold and empty with nothing there but pain and loneliness…

But…the hanyou continued musing I don't ever want to be without her by my side. She's the most important person in the world; in my world whether it be back in my time or here. And if having her with me always means being here, in the future, so be it. Inu-Yasha became resolved as he saw the end of the story but then sniffed the air as he caught a scent he dreaded and then heard a sound he despised. Glancing over to his right, his eyes confirmed what his other senses had detected...

Kagome was crying…

It was quiet and almost imperceptible but to the hanyou's better than keen senses her tiny sobs echoed in his ears and caused his heart to shudder. He gazed at her and saw how she had closed herself off, drawing her knees up to her chin and burying her face as she wrapped her arms about her legs, looking the very picture of abject misery.

Not knowing what had caused her tears and deeply worried, Inu-Yasha came closer to her and and just watched as Kagome's shoulders shook as she tried to keep her crying a secret. However the sight of her in pain was enough for him as he wordlessly reached his arm around her and pulled her into his embrace.

"Don't cry, Kagome," Inu-Yasha said softly as he caressed her head, cradling it as he held her.

Surprised by his gentle gesture, Kagome pulled back to meet his steady gaze. "Inu-Yasha, I'm not really crying," she said.

"What are you talking about?" he asked, perplexed. "I saw you."

"Yeah, I know but I wasn't really crying," Kagome explained with a giggle.

"You were," he insisted.

"I was not," she retorted.

The hanyou was even more bemused by her denial of what was obvious. Had he not smelled the scent of her tears and heard her sobs? "You think I made it up?" he demanded, getting somewhat miffed as he released her.

"Of course not. But it wasn't really crying." She laid her hand on him and her eyes were soft.

Embarrassed by his lack of understanding he turned away with his arms folded and a blush on his face. "Then what the hell else do you call it?"

Kagome sighed as she replied, "I was crying but not because I was sad, Inu-Yasha. What happened in the movie was sad so I began to cry. I always cry when I see sad movies." She looked into his eyes and smiled. "I'm not sad at all, see?"

Her face was radiantly lovely with her eyes sparkling and Inu-Yasha found himself drowning in the dark chocolate depths. His mind went back to when she lay in Kaede's hut, on the brink of death and how if Kagome came back he had determined to show her his heart, not holding anything back anymore. He had displayed that resolve when she had come back to him, enfolding her in his arms even though there was a roomful…and now they were completely alone…no Sango, no Miroku, no Shippou, no mangy Kouga to butt in… The time had come to finally claim her as his.

No longer afraid to act on his feelings Inu-Yasha came forward, and his hands cupped Kagome's face drawing her amazement. Leaning down, he captured her mouth as it opened in a soft yet slow kiss, something he had often fantasized doing. And although her eyes flew open wide when he made his initial advance, they closed in bliss as she reciprocated, kissing him back with eagerness, her slender arms wrapped around his torso. Now fully aroused his own body pressed into hers as the kiss deepened and he relished the taste and feel of Kagome. Her mouth was sweeter than anything he had ever tasted and as his tongue probed deeper, his heart pounded with the intensifying desire to take full possession of her, body and soul.

After several breathless moments the two drew apart, both gasping as the intensity of the feelings displayed lent to their individual awe. Neither had expected each other to ever act on the deeply buried and covert passionate emotions they had bottled up over the past year and each was stunned by the flood that had burst through the carefully built dams in them. Gold met sable as Inu-Yasha's eyes locked with Kagome's

She was the first to speak. "Wow."

Inu-Yasha was still a bit dazed and responded dumbly, "Huh?"

Kagome replied, "T-that was…amazing."

Her words brought pleasure to warm his heart. Blushing and bashful, he lowered his head and asked like a little boy, "Really?"

Kagome's eyes glowed as she nodded. "Uh-huh. I never dreamed any kiss could be like that."

"B-but I kissed you before," the hanyou pointed out. "Remember when we were at the lake?"

"Mmm-hmm, I remember," she said. Her face became shadowed as she continued, "But back then we were both in a different mood because of my decision…to come home after a month…and stay for good."

Inu-Yasha nodded, "Aa." His own face became veiled as he asked, "And what about that now, it's been a month hasn't it? A whole lunar cycle has passed. Are you still planning to stay here and never come back with me again?" His eyes pinned hers as he held his breath for her answer.

Kagome met his gaze then turned away, clutching her shoulders as if shivering and by nature of her body language Inu-Yasha felt his heart drop as he prepared himself for the worst. Kuso, she's going to go through with her plan. I'm gonna say good-bye to her when I leave and never see her again. But what he heard next was startling to say the least… and his heart leapt when she had finished.

"Inu-Yasha, we've been together for about a year now, chasing after Naraku," she began as she turned to face him. "And he's still around, causing pain and grief to everyone. I... just can't accept that."

"He won't be for long," the hanyou said with a scowl. "'Cause I'm gonna kill him."

"And we've been through so much together, things that I know I could never have experienced in a regular lifetime," she went on. "Both of us nearly dying so many times, and in the beginning you even tried to send me back here to protect me from the many dangers. But I came back to continue fighting by your side, remember?" She looked away as she added, "Even after Kikyou returned from the dead and you decided you owed it to protect her. And I told you that day we intended to say good-bye at the honekui-ito that we didn't meet by accident. I still believe that, now more than ever especially since we've been able to defeat enemies with our powers combining. It's awesome."

"Aa," Inu-Yasha said with a nod.

"But I was born here, in this era and my life is to be lived in the here and now," Kagome stated. "To finish school, find a career, marry and have a family…,"


"Yet I am the one who brought the Shikon no Tama back to the Sengoku-jidai after Kikyou died to banish it," she said resignedly. "It came from my body and was shattered by me, into hundreds of shards, almost all being in Naraku's filthy hands."

"So," she said with finality. "It's up to me to do everything I can to see to it that the Shikon no Tama is not only put back together, but restored to full purity so it can be used to defeat Naraku once and for all." She came within inches of the hanyou as she finished. "And so I will continue to stay with you, Inu-Yasha, to remain by your side and destroy Naraku together because that is my destiny."

Inu-Yasha blinked as he stared down at the earnest porcelain face before him. Kagome was magnificent in her strength, and in his mind she became even more beautiful to him as she made her declaration to remain by his side. At that moment he knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt that his place in the world was etched in stone; being by her side as being by him was hers. It had always been that way since the first day at the goshinboku when she released him from a fifty year sleep. Afraid of rejection he never told her and now was the time to let her know.

"Kagome," he said softly, resting his hands on her shoulders. "Remember when I told you that I was accepted by neither the humans nor the youkai and so I had to make my own place in the world, alone?"

Her eyes were glued to his. "Uh-huh."

"That's no longer true," Inu-Yasha declared. "Because my place in the world…is with you. Whether it is here or back in my era, it doesn't matter."

Kagome smiled and lowered her head with a small chuckle. Not understanding her odd response to his candor the hanyou demanded, "What's so funny?

She shook her head and replied, "I'm not laughing at you, Inu-Yasha. I was just remembering what your mother said to me."

"My mother?" The hanyou was incredulous.

"Uh-huh. When I was in the place between life and death, your mother, Izayoi-hime met with me and guided me by saying almost the same thing." Kagome sighed as she continued, "She told me all about how she met and fell in love with your father and had you."

"Really?" Amazed and curious Inu-Yasha asked, "What else did she say?"

"Oh, a lot of things," Kagome answered vaguely, not wanting to reveal all. "But mostly she convinced me that my destiny had not played out and it didn't include heading to the Afterlife yet. So I fought to come back."

"You had to fight to come back? Why?"

Kagome replied, "Because Naraku had lured me into believing that I had nothing to return for. And because of my state of mind with deciding to leave and go home for good it seemed like he was right."

"Naraku? He was there with you?" Inu-Yasha's grip on Kagome's shoulders tightened at the sound of the name of the one he loathed and she cried out in pain causing him to ease up. "Tell me what else that beast did to you!"

"He didn't do anything. He didn't have the chance," she informed him. "Because both me and Izayoi-hime fought and defeated him."

"You and my mother?"

"Aa. He was taunting me after I scattered his fake light. Izayoi-hime had enough of his crap and she let him have it. So she blew him away with her spirit energy." Her face was darkened by the memory. "Still it gave me the creeps that he could enter a spiritual place like that, right in my soul."

Her words were sobering as the hanyou digested the news. Naraku, that filthy slime-ridden bastard! Inu-Yasha seethed in fury Figures he'd do something so low as to invade Kagome's soul while she was under his diabolical spell. I swear by the kami above he'll pay! "I'm not surprised that he would pull something like that. He sent that brat Akago to do the same to you before and he was the one who sent the youkai rats that attacked and you got bitten." He then said, "Kikyou told me that a special flower with spiritual powers that only bloomed during the full moon could draw the poison from the bite but it was found only at a place called the Tsuki Shrine."

Kagome nodded as he went on. "We went all the way to the Tsuki Shrine to get the damned lunahana flowers and he met us there with all his minions. They battled us as he killed the flowers so we couldn't save you." His handsome face twisted in disgust he added, "The bastard probably sent a spectre image to torment you in the spirit realm and hoped that would finish you off."

"Even after we destroyed his spectre I felt myself slipping away from life and closer to death," Kagome recounted. "The reapers of the underworld were there hovering above me and I was losing my awareness. Then Izayoi-hime came to me and spoke words that made me choose life."

Feeling a surge of gratitude to his mother Inu-Yasha asked quietly, "What did she say?"

Kagome smiled as she replied, "She told me to listen with my heart. And when I did, I heard…you. So I came back…to you."

At her sweet confession Inu-Yasha's hands slid up and cupped her face as he said in a voice filled with emotion, "I'm glad…you came back to me." He then pulled her into the circle of his arms as he reiterated, "I'm so glad!"

Kagome sighed as the hanyou wrapped her in the cocoon of his fire rat raiment and his love, something he had always wanted to do but due to his constant fear of being shun he kept his feelings fiercely guarded. Fifty years ago, he had wanted to speak his heart to Kikyou but she refused to allow him to say the words, wanting to wait until they used the Shikon no Tama to make him fully human. But the thief Onegumo, who lusted after the miko who tended his scorched body in a cave invoked youkai hordes to invade his soul and so the abomination named Naraku was born. And Naraku, who hungered for the power of the jewel contrived to pit him against the woman he loved and her against him. So he was bound for fifty years to the goshinboku until the girl in his arms released him, the first of many things she would do to heal his lonely heart and wounded soul. She had done far more to honor him by remaining loyal and by his side, no matter the cost to herself then anybody in his entire life and through that won his heart for all eternity. And now, after having come as close to losing Kagome as he ever had before, Inu-Yasha was resolved to let her know his true feelings.

Pulling back from their clutch, Inu-Yasha fixed his golden orbs on Kagome's lovely face. "Kagome, I have something to say, something very important. And I want you to listen."

Somewhat alarmed by the hanyou's unconventional manner, she asked, "Inu-Yasha?"

Not paying any mind to her he pushed on. "All this time while you were near death, I realized a few things. And I made a decision." He took a deep breath and continued, "Since my mother died I always kept myself strong, not needing or trusting anyone so I could survive." His face became faraway as he added, "I wasn't accepted in either youkai or human worlds so I made my own place in the world, all alone."

"I know, Inu-Yasha," Kagome said gently. "You told me before."

"Let me finish, okay?" he said brusquely. Inu-Yasha heaved a sigh as he went on, visibly uncomfortable as baring his soul was a rarity for him. "Then I met Kikyou and I saw how lonely she was, just like me. And I always wanted to be by her side; wherever she went I was right there with her."

His behavior was baffling in the way he seemed to ramble on so Kagome stifled a sigh as she waited for him to get to the point. He stared off in space as he went on nostalgically.

"One day we had taken a boat ride on the lake, the same place I took you. And when we got to the deck and I had secured it, she stepped up to join me, then tripped and fell into my arms. I then held her and kissed her, wanting to tell her that I was in love with her and wanted her to be mine." His face darkened as he added, "But she didn't want to hear me say the words and promised to bring the Shikon no Tama the next morning to make me human. Then everything went to hell, so when I went to take the jewel she shot her arrow and sealed me to the tree, betraying me. But even so, I still loved her."

The hanyou's face was openly bitter, his eyes narrowed as the memories of what had happened to his hopes for a bright future had been destroyed. His expression then softened as he turned his gaze back to Kagome.

"Fifty years passed and one day you came to my time," Inu-Yasha said calmly. "You released me from Kikyou's spell and I lived again. I was filled with rage at being betrayed so I lied and said I hated you because you were her mirror image. Then the promised Shikon no Tama came out of you and I saw my chance to become stronger and never again let my heart become ensnared by a woman by becoming full youkai. But the jewel got shattered and we began our journey to get back all the shards and I saw that even though you looked exactly like Kikyou, you were so different from her. You had no sadness or loneliness, only joy…nothing fazed you as we continued our mission and I saw how strong you were, never running from battles, constantly fighting by my side."

Kagome was silent as her eyes were glued to Inu-Yasha's his orbs of gold molten like the midsummer sun. He then placed his hands on her shoulders as he spoke the next words. "Then there was the time I saw you shed tears for me, thinking I was dead. It was something I never thought possible after my mother died, that anyone would cry at my dying. It made me feel warm to know that you…cared. Then when I saw how you never hesitated to stand up on my behalf against Sesshoumaru or to bring me back from the edge of my youkai transformations I knew that I could trust you with my life. And so when you…,"

Inu-Yasha swallowed hard as emotion overcame him. "…were close to dyng I had to do ANYTHING to save you. All the while I headed to the Tsuki Shine I thought of nothing but that and what would happen if I was too late, I had nightmares about it. And when we all got to the shrine and Naraku killed the lunahana flowers before we could get them back to you, I rushed back to the village and saw you like in my nightmares. That's when for the first time in my life I knew real terror. So I picked you up and tried to will you to come back to me."

Kagome nodded, her eyes welling up. "I heard you, Inu-Yasha."

He nodded as he said, "When Sesshoumaru came and used the Tenseiga to bring you back to life, I called out to you hoping you would hear me." His hands reached up and cradled her face as he continued, "And when your eyes opened and you spoke my name, it was the happiest day of my life. That's when I realized...I'm really in love with you."

"Oh Inu-Yasha," Kagome breathed. She blinked her eyes as the crystal drops of pure happiness flowed and her countenance glowed with the realization of a dream come true. "I love you, too…so much."

Seeing her tears again Inu-Yasha crushed her to him as he spoke in her hair, "I love you with all my heart, Kagome. That's why when the battle is over and the beast Naraku is destroyed no matter where you choose to be, I'll be with you. Because my place in the world…is with you, protecting you always."

With those words he scooped Kagome up into his arms and said firmly, "And another thing, I'm through battling with those who would try to take you from me. So tonight you are gonna be mine with no question. And then that will be the last we hear from that mangy pest Kouga or anyone else."

Struck silent by the hanyou's bold stand Kagome was amazed by his next move which was to carry her up stairs and into her room. But he was not finished as he gently lay her down on her bed, then stretched out on top of her, covering her amazed mouth with his…


Several hours later, Kagome was startled awake as she shifted in her sleep and discovered that the bed had narrowed considerably and a lean but sinewy arm was wrapped around her waist with a clawed hand resting on her bare belly. Surprise, then as she realized what had taken place warmth flooded her as she glanced over her shoulder and saw Inu-Yasha sleeping peacefully spooned against her, his silver head resting on her back. She blushed as she also realized they were both naked and then her heart pounded as she saw the telltale bloodstains on the sheets that confirmed her suspicions of what had transpired earlier. Memories came flowing back as she reached full consciousness…

After he had laid her down on the bed and joined her, Inu-Yasha began a tender assault on her, kissing her like a man that was starved and seeing his first meal in ages. Kagome found herself hardly able to breathe at first as his behavior had her flabbergasted to say the least. Never in her wildest dreams had she imagined the hanyou to be anything but what she knew he was as far as his feelings, secretive and surly. But now he was displaying a side to him that she never believed could have ever existed. He was insistent yet gentle, loving her with restraint as he caressed her with his hands exploring as his claws brushed against her skin. However, for all his delicacy he did manage to accidently draw blood on the nape of her neck, scratching her as the passion in him built up, causing her to cry out in pain.

At Kagome's cry Inu-Yasha halted, apologizing with soft words of love for causing her pain as he treated the injury by sucking away the blood, then he kissed the wound and continued loving her. The sensations of his ministrations combined with his lovemaking sent her into the stratospheric heights of pleasure as she reciprocated his love by giving her own in return. She kissed him, matching his ardor with her own as their bodies merged, with him burying himself deep inside her, breaking the barrier of her innocence and loving her over the threshold into womanhood. She cried again as the pain of his entrance shot through her and once more as they climaxed, with him murmuring comfort to her as they both pulled apart. Then Inu-Yasha sank his fangs into her shoulder as the final act of staking his claim on her as his.

Kagome sighed softly in the pitch dark recesses of her bedroom as she took the hanyou's hand and extricated herself from his hold to get out of bed. Reaching to the bottom post, she retrieved a silk yukata that she used as a robe and donned it, standing up to pull it closed. As she fastened it, she fingered the twin punctures on her collar, making her feel as if she had been visited by Count Dracula as the blood had dried and the wounds had begun to scab over. After inflicting his mark on her Inu-Yasha had used the same remedy as when he had scratched her before, suckling the area gently then taking her mouth captive with his kisses. She smiled as she placed her fingers to her swollen lips

Wow, I can't believe it. Did Inu-Yasha and I actually make love together? Kagome gazed in wonder at the still slumbering hanyou and felt a soreness between her legs that was not there before her bath. She was amazed as she could feel a difference in her body, like it had altered to accommodate a man and become more receptive. It was something baffling yet at the same time there was a feeling of exhilaration, like she was embarking on a new path in her life's journey, something she would have missed out on if she had not made the choice to return.

Kagome then stepped to the open window and took a deep breath of the fresh night air, the perfume from the late season roses in her mother's garden having wafted up on a breeze. The scent was exquisite as all of her senses sang with intensity as never before and she wondered if it would always be like this after making love. Before tonight the only reference she had ever had was in hentai romance novels that she, Ayumi, Eri, and Yuka had read surrepticiously and speculated about, complete with girlish giggles as they imagined their first time. And she had never in her wildest fantasies thought her first time would be with a hanyou, of all things and considering their fluctuating relationship not with Inu-Yasha. But life is not always as you imagine, she said to herself the thought making her smile when she glanced at him, still sleeping. She then turned back to looking out her window when her eyes fell on the goshinboku, the place where she and Inu-Yasha met five hundred years in the past. Silouhetted black against the night sky, it towered above the shrine grounds.

Kagome sighed as she mused about that day; the fateful day she had been dragged down the old well by a giant centipede youkai and came face to face with her destiny in the form of a silver haired hanyou boy with dog ears, pinned to the goshinboku. Then she thought about the entire last year, when she shattered the Shikon no Tama and became obligated to see to it the jewel was restored. She also thought about the progression of her relationship with Inu-Yasha and how in the beginning she thought he was the most arrogant, selfish, pushy, ill-tempered, ill-mannered creep she had ever seen. Then as they traveled together she discovered that all the hanyou's bluster was but a smokescreen for a lonely and wounded heart and a splintered soul. Kagome witnessed first hand how Inu-Yasha's only kin, his brother loathed him and sought to kill him and how he and the woman he loved were duped into hating and betraying each other. Her compassion for him grew as she saw him fight to protect her and looked to her for support. She began to feel love for him as he began to show his own heart softening toward her and they both grew closer in spite of batlles, disagreements and romantic rivals. And as time passed the bond between the hanyou and the miko from the modern times strengthened and grew to the point of where their powers melded together in some recent battles, becoming a formidable if not unbeatable force.

At this reverie Kagome took a deep breath and sighed as she whispered, "Oh Inu-Yasha."

A gravelly tenor growled softly in her ear as two clawed hands encircled her waist from behind. "Kagome…," Inu-Yasha murmured as he pulled her to his hard, warm chest.

She turned and gazed up into his glowing golden orbs. "I'm sorry, did I wake you?"

He shook his head. "Iie, I woke up when I reached for you and you were gone." He nuzzled her neck and asked, "Why did you leave the bed?"

Kagome sighed as he was stirring the waves of pleasure to course through her again. "No reason. I just was restless and didn't want to wake you."

"Why were you restless?"

Kagome sighed again as she replied, "I was just thinking…how nothing like this has ever happened to me before." She turned and looked up into his eyes and added, "I'm sure you've had…experiences before."

The hanyou's face showed confusion for a moment then a blush spread on his fine features as the meaning of her statement sank in. Then in a mixture of irritation and embarrassment he retorted, "Are you daft?"

Offended by his abrupt response Kagome whirled around out of his arms and huffed, "Well, excuse me! I just figured that you and Kikyou…"

"W-what are you saying, Kagome?" Inu-Yasha demanded as he took hold of her shoulders and twirled her around to face him. "Kikyou and I never did…what we did tonight." At her slightly dubious expression he continued, "Our times together were never…uh, trysts where we…mated. We never got that far."

Kagome blushed as she turned her head aside. "Then how was it that you...knew what to do?"

The hanyou shrugged as he replied, "Dunno. I just wanted to have you close and it…happened." He admitted quietly, "It just felt right."

At his declaration Kagome felt her ire melt as she turned her head back and placed her hands up on his broad shoulders. "I feel the same way…being with you. It just feels right."

She then stood on tiptoe to place her mouth on Inu-Yasha's for a kiss to seal their words and he growled as he wrapped his arms around her, deepening the kiss as he responded eagerly, announcing the dawning of a new journey for them. And as time passed inside Kagome's window, outside the darkest part of night receded as the pink glow of dawn heralded a new day.


Final Note: Well I finished…and I want to thank all those who followed this saga from beginning to end and especially those who left a word in encouragement in a review and made it or me a favorite---my humble and heartfelt thanks.