Disclaimer: I do not own either Inuyasha or Rurouni Kenshin.

Chapter 20.

"What we NEED is an army." Hiko said irately as he looked over the illusion that Alanor had created of the island. "Not to mention a navy to get it there. This is what we in the business call an 'impregnable fortress'."

"Be that as it may, that's where the gateway is. We need to get in there. If I can get close enough, Kagome and I may be able to close the gate. It's the only hope for getting the time stream corrected." Alanor said seriously.

Alanor, Hiko, and Sesshomaru looked over the area hovering in front of them. Everyone else sat around the campfire eating or talking. "You could always get Kenshin's new buddy to help." Saitoh said happily. It was interesting that Saitoh had apparently come to grips with not being able to kill Kenshin by seeing to it the man never forgot how the shogunate owed him its existence.

For his part, Kenshin looked ready to break his oath at any moment. He might not wish to kill, but Kagome had already healed three black eyes, which never seemed to deter Saitoh.

"What about Kouga?" Kagome asked the three men.

None of the men appeared to recognize the name despite Sesshomaru knowing of him. Inuyasha however was fit to be tied. "There's no way I'm going to ask that mangy wolf for help. I don't care if he IS the head of the wolf clan."

"I would not be so quick to dismiss the idea Inuyasha. The wolves have been allies of father's in the past. Cat demons have no great love for either of our clans." Sesshomaru said quietly. "Having destroyed Naraku, you have brought peace to their lands. This can only help to strengthen your alliance."

"I'd rather die." Inuyasha said bluntly.

"He was only kidding." Kagome said quickly as Sesshomaru started to reach for his sword. "Inuyasha…" Kagome said as Inuyasha jumped up in expectation of the eventual face plant. "Shut up."

"I have a few retainers, but nowhere near the army we would need for this type of battle. These are no ordinary demons. I am curious as to who is directing them." Sesshomaru said looking at Alanor.

"I'm not entirely certain. It could be any number of demon lords, possibly more than one. From the size of the force guarding the gate, I'd say that it isn't one of the lesser ones either." Alanor said in exasperation. "We simply haven't the manpower, or demon-power for this kind of offensive."

Kagome looked down and wished she could sink into the ground. If it hadn't been for Sesshomaru and Tensaiga, people would have died and it would have been entirely her fault. Not for the first time, she wished she could take it all back. Then something Alanor said sparked an idea.

"Alanor-sensei, what do you mean it would 'correct the time stream'?" Kagome asked seriously.

"Well, everything that would have happened as a result of the gate being open from this time forward would be negated. The demons would not have remained and they wouldn't have been there to attack you in the future." Alanor said.

"What if it isn't a matter of 'how' we attack the gate, but 'when'?" Kagome said earnestly. "If we go through the well, then we can go back to before this happened and then the island might not be as heavily guarded."

"It's possible, but the closest we could come to this time would be several decades in the past." Alanor said.

"So if we closed the gate not long after Kikyo burned the jewel with her body, then the demons might not go through the trouble of reopening it because they wouldn't know that I would one day show up with it again." Kagome said hopefully.

Alanor appeared to think about it for a moment. "True. Then you would be able to carry out everything as it occurred in your past without interference. You would have the same journey to reassemble the jewel, and then once it was complete I could still seek you out. The demons wouldn't attack the dojo and everyone would revert to the way things would have gone without your interference."

"Would we remember any of this?" Hiko asked seriously.

"Probably not, why?" Alanor asked. Kagome followed Hiko's gaze to where Tae was cooking something over the fire.

"Because so much has changed for us since coming here. I'm not sure that I would like forgetting all of it." Hiko said solemnly.

"There's no reason you could not repeat what you did here." Alanor said with sympathy.

"I'm not sure. If things had not happened as they did here, I'm not entirely certain we could." Hiko said looking around at everyone. "Still it can't be helped. We have to stop our time from getting invaded and if it means personal sacrifice, then so be it. We've had to do so before."

Alanor nodded and then turned to Kagome. "Very well, we'll leave tomorrow morning. We'll determine who needs to go then."

Kagome watched as everyone got up and headed for their homes. It was hard to believe that she had actually come to think of all of them as a great big family, and that this was like having a village of her own here in the past.

Kamatari lit the lamp as Aoshi started getting undressed. She didn't like what she had heard outside. If everything was made to go back to the way it had been before coming here…

Kamatari couldn't stop crying. She had finally gotten everything she had ever dreamed of or hoped for and now it was going to be erased. She felt Aoshi reach around her waist and pull her into his chest.

"What is troubling you?" He said in a soft tone that she had only recently found him capable of.

"If we succeed you'll forget about me, you'll forget about what we've become." Kamatari said between sobs.

"Then we can start fresh." Aoshi said simply.

Kamatari grappled with what she was about to do. She couldn't go on deceiving him any longer. He had to know the truth, even if it meant he would hate her. It might make the prospect of forgetting what he had come to mean to her more bearable.

"Aoshi there's something you don't know." Kamatari said quietly. "If we go back to the future without our memories and with everything that has happened erased, I won't be able to be with you."

"Why?" Aoshi said with a somewhat puzzled look.

"Aoshi, I'm not what you think I am. I've not always been a woman. When I worked for Shishio, and even when we first came here, I was half woman and half man. Kagome managed to use her magic to change me. I wanted to be with you so badly, but I knew you wouldn't want a freak of nature like me." Kamatari said as she turned to face Aoshi. She couldn't bring herself to look him in the face so she put her head against his chest and waited for his reaction.

His calloused hand cupped her chin and lifted her eyes to his. His eyes had always seemed so cold, but now seemed warm. "I have learned through harsh experience not to dwell in the past. If I dwelled on my past, I would go mad. All that matters to me is what is here and now. What you were makes no difference to me; all I see is the person you are now. Tomorrow we may have all memories erased, and tomorrow we might also die."

Kamatari looked up at him as he slid her kimono off her shoulders. It fell to the floor softly as he picked her up and carried her towards their futon.

"I have no regrets of our time here, and if tomorrow I must loose you then I will spend my time tonight cherishing what time we have left." Aoshi said as he laid her down and pulled the blanket over the two of them. Kamatari didn't know whether to laugh or cry, but in the end she decided to just cherish that moment and let the perils of the coming day wait until then.

Tae busied herself around the cook fire until everyone had gone to bed. Hiko was the only one still awake. She wandered over to him and sat down next to him. She handed him some food as he sat staring into the fire.

"You look distracted, I understand that can be fatal for swordsmen." Tae said as she sipped on some tea.

"I'm just thinking." Hiko said without looking at her. "Tae, have you ever been in love?"

Tae was taken back by the question but tried to regain her composure. "Not really. I've had crushes on a couple of men before, but nothing very serious. I've always kept busy tending my restaurant."

"I've always been busy fighting and teaching." Hiko agreed. "Alanor says that if we succeed in closing the gate that we won't remember anything that happened while we were here."

Tae nodded. She's heard some of the women saying something about it. Then she looked at Hiko sharply, was he trying to say…

Hiko looked at her for the first time and had a serious look on his face. "Do you think things would have been the same between us if we hadn't come to the past like this?"

"I don't know." Tae confessed. "Do I mean that much to you?"

"I'm starting to think so. I've never let myself care too much about anyone. It wasn't until I met you that I thought it might have been a mistake. It felt good to have someone who cared for me enough to take the sake out of my hands." Hiko said looking back at the fire. "It felt good to have something else that helped me sleep."

Tae had never admitted it to herself, but she had enjoyed having Hiko. Even their arguments brought a smile to her face. Tae got up and walked in front of Hiko, she reached down and pulled him up. The man towered over her but allowed himself to be led.

Tae led him silently to the hut they had been staying in. She left him outside as she darted in and returned with a lantern. "You and I are going to the hot spring. Maybe once this is over, you might happen by a restaurant and decide to have a meal. Maybe while I'm visiting my sister, I'll want to buy some pottery. Who knows?" Tae said trying to convince herself more than anyone else.

"Tae." Hiko said causing Tae to turn and look at him. "If I never get the chance to say this again, I love you."

Tae felt a couple of tears forming in her eyes that she was trying desperately not to let fall. "I know, and I couldn't have asked for a more decent man to fall in love with either. I love you too, Hiko."

The two of them headed of for the hot spring arm in arm.

"The fewer people we have the better." Alanor said over breakfast. "The demons know we're here now, so if you make a stand here at the village they'll probably attack it. If they don't realize that Kagome and I aren't here it will give us time to get to the gate and close it."

Everyone was nodding. Kagome felt badly for all of them. Some of the women looked like they had spent the night crying. The men had determined looks on their faces.

"I recommend that Kagome and I go alone." Alanor said finally.

Inuyasha jumped up ready to scream his defiance. Kagome got between the half demon and the wizard before things could get out of hand and laid her hands on his chest. Inuyasha looked ready to murder Alanor despite the restraint. "And what makes you think I'm going to trust Kagome to you alone?"

"Because if you do not, you will never see her again." Alanor said coldly.

Kagome turned to look at the wizard. He was looking at Inuyasha in annoyance. "When we close the gate, it will create a backlash. Any demon near it will be drawn into the vortex and sucked into the netherworld."

"I'll risk it. I'm not going to let Kagome get hurt." Inuyasha said defiantly.

"Fine, suit yourself. The rest of you need to hide the fact that Kagome and I are not here. If the demons figure out what we're doing, it could jeopardize everything." Alanor said as he packed his things.

Everyone nodded and Kagome got what few things she had ready. The village bid the three of them farewell as Alanor created the bubble that sent them flying over the landscape at high speed. He kept it low to the ground, and he kept his eyes open for anything that might spot them.

Inuyasha settled down to rest and Kagome sat down watching the forest and fields slipping by. "So what do I need to do once we get there?" Kagome asked her mentor.

"The spell is too complex for you to cast. All I will need you to do is open yourself to the power. Once I focus the spell, it will require all the power that you and I both possess to close the portal." Alanor said before glancing up. "Ah, here we are."

The three of them stepped out of the bubble next to the well. Kagome looked down into the depths before looking to the two men with her. "Here goes."

The three hopped down the well and Alanor began focusing his mind. Kagome felt a short lurch and then she looked around. Nothing seemed to have changed much.

Inuyasha grabbed Kagome and leaped out of the well as Alanor levitated. The three stood there for a moment before Inuyasha noticed something. "That's me there isn't it?"

"Yes, so don't go over and touch. I'm not even going to tell you what happens when two bodies occupy the same space in time." Alanor said looking at the past version of Inuyasha hanging in the tree by an arrow.

The three crept away until they were far enough from the village to keep from attracting notice. Suddenly, Inuyasha perked up. "I smell Naraku."

"No Inuyasha. I know that it is tempting to destroy him, but you can't disturb the timeline. You must let everything run its course." Alanor said firmly.

This didn't seem to convince Inuyasha until Alanor said something else that stopped him in his tracks. "You could be hurting Kagome."

"What?" Inuyasha said bewildered.

"If you disrupt the timeline, you could change the past. You might never meet Miroku or Sango. You might never get down off that tree. How many times have you saved Kagome? You might change the future so that Kagome dies." Alanor said gravely.

Inuyasha nodded his head and settled back. The globe once again surrounded them and they shot off towards the island with the demon gate. Kagome watched everything racing by, it reminded her of the train back home. "Alanor-sama, do you really think that if Inuyasha had killed Naraku I would have been killed?"

"Of course not. Don't be ridiculous." Alanor said as he watched the horizon.

Inuyasha was on his feet in a moment ready to take the mage's head off. "What do you mean? You mean I could have just saved us a lot of heartache?"

"No. I mean you couldn't have hurt Kagome by doing it. She has had her destiny erased by the council. Nothing you do to her past can change her as she is now, but that doesn't mean that you couldn't have royally messed up yourself, Miroku, or Sango." Alanor said gravely.

"Then why did you…" Inuyasha started.

"Because you wouldn't have listened to any other reason." Alanor said shortly. "Now be quiet. We'll be getting close to the island soon and I don't want you announcing our presence."

The three flew until they reached the shore of the ocean. There, Alanor dropped his sphere and slowly began to transform into a massive sea turtle. He looked at Inuyasha and Kagome until they climbed onto his back and he began to swim for the island. It took a long time, and Kagome began to feel the demonic aura, as they got closer. It was nearly powering by the time they got there.

"I don't think I've ever sensed anything this powerful." Kagome said in awe.

"Just think what it would be like in the future." Alanor said seriously. "Now let's go."

The three of them crept toward the interior of the island. Everything there seemed to have darkened. There was still the light of day, but everything seemed to be cast into a darker hue as if the whole world was in shadow. No one spoke as they closed in on a clearing where Inuyasha could feel the demonic aura coming in waves.

"It's here." Alanor said looking around.

"I don't see anything." Kagome said uneasily.

"The portal isn't currently active. It only fully opens when a demon enters this world. It is a mercifully rare occurrence." Alanor said as he turned to Inuyasha. "This is where you must leave us. Get back, so that you won't be drawn into the vortex."

Kagome thought that Inuyasha might argue but finally stomped of to find a place to get down. Once he was a safe distance away, Alanor turned to her.

"What we are about to attempt will require a great deal of power. Now here is your next lesson, channeling your power to someone else. Just like the well, you need to imagine the person. In this case however you have to imagine them as they are. Anything they do, you must also imagine in your mind. You have to concentrate, and focus your energy into your mind. Push your energy into the image of the person in your mind. The more accurate your mental image, the more power you can transfer." Alanor said as he instructed her in the use of her power.

After a few minutes, Kagome had managed to channel. Alanor nodded. "Not great, but it will do. Let's get started."

Kagome focused her energy and concentrated on Alanor. Alanor began to chant and she made her mental image of him chant as well. As his hands began to weave a complex pattern in the air, Kagome watched and tried to make her mental image do the same.

Kagome began to feel the power build as the air began to ripple. She was surrounded by a pale blue light, which she recognized as her aura of power. Alanor was surrounded by a deep green glow. Slowly, his aura began to merge with her own as her power began to pour into him for the energy that would be needed to complete the spell.

Inuyasha watched as Kagome and the jerk-mage began working. He snorted and got down a little closer to the ground as he felt the wind begin to pick up blowing into the clearing where Kagome and Alanor were casting their magic.

Suddenly the air rippled and a glowing disc opened into the center of the clearing. Alanor and Kagome looked up as two large tentacles whipped out of the portal wrapping themselves around the pair.

Inuyasha jumped up from his hiding place and raced towards the portal as he saw Kagome and Alanor pulled in. He jumped for the glowing disc trying to reach it before it closed. The last thing he remembered before everything going black was the familiar sounding laughter that made it to his ears.

Inuyasha didn't know how long he had been asleep. Slowly, he felt himself starting to stir.

"Inuyasha." A familiar voice said.

Inuyasha didn't know whom the voice belonged to, but he didn't want to move.

"Inuyasha. Get up." The voice insisted.

Inuyasha slowly opened his eyes to look at the figure in front of him. Naraku stood before him smiling. "I see you are finally awake."

Inuyasha looked around. He was hanging from the roof of some sort of cavern. Next to him, he could see Alanor already awake. Inuyasha looked around the area looking for Kagome.

"She's not here Inuyasha." Naraku said with satisfaction.

"What have you done with Kagome?" Inuyasha said haggardly.

"She is being… prepared." Naraku said still smiling.

"You're supposed to still be alive in this time." Alanor said accusingly.

Naraku laughed before turning his attention to the old man. "Did you think that you were the only being capable of traversing time? Once my plans went awry and Inuyasha killed me I was sent here to the underworld. Using what remained of my power, I came back to this time hoping to warn my past self of the dangers that Inuyasha and the others posed to me. Without the jewel however, I was too weak to affect the outside world. How strange that I should catch you three just outside the portal."

"You mean that you're…" Inuyasha said incredulously.

"Inuyasha! Say nothing." Alanor commanded.

"It makes little difference what brought you here Inuyasha. Just know that now I'm going to have my final revenge." Naraku whispered.

"What are you going to do?" Inuyasha said in apprehension.

"I need a new body to leave this place. I intend to take Kagome's. I think I may even find Kikyo and take her soul with me when I leave. Then I shall leave this place and seal the gateway behind me. I shall leave you as you left me. Imprisoned. Forever." Naraku said looking fiercely at the half demon. "Good-bye Inuyasha."

Inuyasha struggled to free himself as the demon left the two of them. Once he was gone Inuyasha turned on the mage. "Fat lot of good it did for me to be standing so far away! Kagome got captured because of you!"

"Oh, shut up Inuyasha. At least now we know who's responsible." Alanor groused. "He apparently has no further knowledge of the future. This is actually a lucky break. If we can free and seal the gate, we won't have to worry about him opening it again."

"Well, if you haven't noticed, neither of us is in any real shape to move right now!" Inuyasha shot back.

"Inuyasha?" A female voice said to him.

Inuyasha turned toward the sound and was staring directly into the face of Kikyo. His heart immediately began to ache as he looked at her.

"How could you Inuyasha?" Kikyo said accusingly. "You killed me."

"A friend of yours?" Alanor asked quietly.

Remembrance struck Inuyasha. This was just after Kikyo had died the first time. He looked at her with longing as his heart began trying to beat its way free of his chest.

"Kikyo, no. It wasn't me. We were tricked." Inuyasha pleaded desperately.

"Tricked?" Kikyo said in disbelief.

"A demon named Naraku tricked us. He attacked you using my appearance and then attacked me using yours. Kikyo, I'm sorry." Inuyasha said nearly in tears.

Inuyasha looked up to only an empty cavern. Alanor was still hanging next to him. "Where did she go?"

"She was never really here." Alanor said seriously. "This is the underworld, or rather the afterlife. Here, the events of our life shape what we see."

"So this is hell." Inuyasha said looking at the place where Kikyo had stood.

"Or heaven." Alanor continued. "It is the reflection of that which is within your soul."

Inuyasha looked around and saw his sword discarded off to one side. The idea of dying and having to relive the pain of loosing Kikyo didn't exactly thrill him. "This can't be happening."

"What did you expect, physical danger? Some powerful individuals can move into someone else's realm, but for the most part this place is keyed to an individual's soul. Your power as a demon must be bringing up your own images here. Since we came here bodily, I imagine that we are inside Naraku's version. Does this cave look familiar?" Alanor asked.

"Yeah. It's the cave where he was wounded and Kikyo healed him." Inuyasha said wearily. "Any ideas about how we're going to get out of here and save Kagome?"

"None immediately come to mind." Alanor said sadly.

Inuyasha thought about loosing Kagome. It was then that he heard her voice. Inuyasha looked to see her standing there. She was dying and there was nothing he could do. "Inuyasha, why didn't you protect me?"

This image finally faded as well. Inuyasha felt a tear fall down his cheek. "Are these images real?"

"As real as you or I in this place." Alanor said looking around haunted.

"Why haven't you seen anything?" Inuyasha asked.

"I'm trying to keep my mind clear so that I don't conjure anything." Alanor said stiffly.

Inuyasha thought about his situation. If he didn't find a way out soon he wouldn't be able to stop Naraku. A thought then occurred to Inuyasha. He quickly concentrated on a particularly painful image.

The woman that stood before him looked sad. She was dressed regally and he remembered her face clearly. She looked at him and sighed.

"Mother. Help me." Inuyasha pleaded. "Bring me my sword."

The image of his mother looked up at him and wavered, then she moved to where the Tetsaiga lay and lifted it. The sword responded to her touch and grew in size.

Inuyasha focused on the pain of loosing his mother, willing her form to remain before him. He blocked out everything but the pain. "Mother. Please strike the ceiling and release me."

The figure of his mother walked over to him and looked at him sadly before striking the ceiling above him with the sword. The rock gave way and Inuyasha tumbled to the floor along with the Tetsaiga.

"A brilliant idea." Alanor complimented. "Now get me down and we'll see if we can find Kagome."

Inuyasha picked up his sword and struck the roof of the cave. Alanor dropped to the ground free of the stone as well.

"Let's go get Kagome." Inuyasha said with a growl.

Inuyasha and Alanor set off at a run out of the cavern. The two ran out into the dark forest beyond. Inuyasha immediately picked up Kagome's scent. She was close.

Inuyasha didn't have time to wait on Alanor so he threw him up onto his back and set off after Naraku. The whole experience still bothered him though. "Alanor, about all those images, is that all I have to look forward to when I die?"

"Right now perhaps." Alanor said seriously. "If you want to change what you see here you have to change what it is that generates what you see here. Namely, you."

"I've had a lot of pain to deal with in my life." Inuyasha said defensively.

"Then I would concentrate the rest of your life on healing that pain and finding something to make your afterlife more joyful." Alanor said sagely. "I think Kagome could help you in that."

Inuyasha bowed his head as he ran. He had always hated being alone. He had also always feared loosing Kagome. He resolved to make sure he never needed to fear loosing her again.

The two ran through the forest until they reached a clearing. There they saw the 'preparations'. Kagome was stretched out over a dome shaped rock with her chest arched into the air. She had been changed into a black and purple gown. Naraku was there as well holding the jewel over her. It was obvious that Naraku was not having any easy time of it.

"Give in to the evil girl." Naraku said through gritted teeth.

Kagome never had a chance to answer as Inuyasha dropped Alanor as he collided with Naraku. In that moment, Inuyasha forgot anything about sword style or fighting. He attacked like a feral dog.

Naraku fell back from the vicious assault before lashing back out at Inuyasha. Inuyasha ducked and with a slash from his claws severed the hand holding the jewel. Naraku dove for the jewel, but Inuyasha once again barreled into him carrying him away from Kagome.

"Alanor! Get Kagome and the Jewel out of here!" Inuyasha howled.

He did not look back to see if Alanor had heard him as he narrowly dodged a shot meant to decapitate him. Naraku hissed and swiped at his face before driving his newly reformed claw into his chest. "I will take YOUR body instead!" Naraku growled at him.

Inuyasha clawed at his opponent as their surroundings began to shift. The forest disappeared and they were standing on a cliff overlooking a sea of fire and magma. Inuyasha pulled free of Naraku and pushed him back.

Inuyasha looked around to see Alanor and Kagome on the other side of the gateway, once again reciting the spell. Inuyasha tried to run for the gate, but Naraku's weight crashed into his back.

"No. You will not escape from me." Naraku bellowed.

The wind began to howl around them, and Inuyasha looked up as the gateway started to close.

"Inuyasha, HURRY!" Kagome cried desperately.

Inuyasha struggled trying to break free of Naraku's grasp. He was slowly being blown back from the portal and Kagome. He dug his claws into the ground trying to fight his way towards her.

Suddenly, the weight was gone from Inuyasha's back and he barreled toward the gate. As he reached it, he looked back to see what had become of Naraku.

Inuyasha looked back to see Naraku writhing in the iron grip of a dog demon that looked remarkably like Sesshomaru. Inuyasha guessed that he himself probably looked a lot like him too.

Inuyasha was transfixed looking back at the figure of his father. His father looked at him and smiled. "Go son. Protect her."

Inuyasha turned and pushed his way through the gate. Once on the other side, he dug his claws into the ground to keep from being pulled back in. The world seemed to be being pulled in all around him until finally the wind ceased.

Inuyasha looked up to see if everyone was okay, when a weight fell on him again.

Kagome wrapped her arms around Inuyasha's neck and wept against his back.

"I was afraid I was going to loose you." Kagome sobbed.

"Never." Inuyasha replied.

Epilogue.

Hiko slowly opened his eyes. The world slowly came into focus and he sat up looking around. A few days ago he had attended a party at the home of his student, but now he was having trouble remembering the past few days.

All around him people were starting to stir. They were in the dojo. Kenshin lived here with Kaoru. That much he remembered at least. He finally felt steady enough to stand and looked around for Yahiko and Tsubame. He didn't know why, he just felt he needed to make sure they were safe for some reason.

"Man, does anyone remember what happened?" Sano asked looking around the room.

"The last thing I remember was throwing a party of Anji." Kenshin said shaking his head trying to clear the cobwebs.

"I guess we must have passed out drinking then." Sano said looking for the sake bottles.

"Not unless the party lasted several days." Saitoh said looking at the calendar on the wall.

Everyone looked around trying to figure out what was going on.

Hiko COULD remember something from the past few days. It was strange, but it was like he had two memories, one was almost like a dream. He remembered staying here to annoy his student for a while, but in his dream he had met a woman.

Hiko looked at Tae as she apparently looked back at him as if remembering something herself. Others were looking at each other uneasily as they tried to process what happened.

"Daddy!" The two young girls exclaimed as they awoke and immediately latched onto Sanosuke.

A lot of people were looking at each other in wonderment. Finally, someone spoke up. "I remember there being more people here." Kenshin said in confusion.

"A female ninja, no, a demon slayer." Misao said to herself.

"And another monk." Anji agreed.

Everyone grappled with the idea of having been living the past few days as normal and then ending up back together again like this.

Hiko looked at Tae. He remembered looking her in the eyes and telling her that he loved her, but it was as if it were all a dream. He remembered seeing her at the party, and they had talked briefly, but then she had left and he had remained here.

Soujiro and Misao were also looking at each other. They would blush and look away, only to return to staring at each other.

"Was it all just a dream?" Aoshi asked rhetorically.

"No." Kamatari said.

Everyone looked at her. The transvestite looked at the rest of them with a look of supreme happiness on her face. "It wasn't a dream." She said as she stood and wrapped her arms around Aoshi and laid her cheek against his chest. "It was all real."

The little ball hovered in front of the group sitting around the well. In it, they could see the people starting to look around and smile to each other. The former transvestite was crying as she clutched Aoshi as if afraid to let him go.

"Are you satisfied now?" Alanor groused.

"Yes." Kagome said watching her friends return to their old lives, with new hope. "For now."