Disclaimer: Inuyasha is sooo not mine.

Sesshoumaru's ending

oooooooooooooooooooooooooo

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

"Kagome! What are you doing?" Yuki yelled as she raised the gun and aimed it in his direction.

But her eyes never left the shadowy figure inside the darkened apartment. Her entire body shook as he began to emerge, the long, deadly-looking knife in his hand. She knew he would try to kill Yuki out here, even though she was plain sight. Knowing what she knew about him, she knew he felt as though he had nothing to lose by killing Yuki. The hatred running off of him was overwhelming and it was beginning to suffocate her.

With her free hand, she motioned for him to move away from the door. Yuki frowned but did as she wanted. When he began limping away from his front door, he saw Kagome's body stiffen. A set look crossed her face. No matter what Yuki had done to her, he didn't deserve to die. Not now when he and his parents finally came together.

Taking a deep breath, she fired. The bullet whizzed past Yuki and he whirled around in time to see a strange man stagger out of his apartment, a hand to his shoulder. Blood was seeping into his shirt from the area under his palm.

Seeing the man's blood stain the front of his shirt, Kagome slid the floor in a dead faint.

"Kagome!" Kouga appeared out of nowhere and tackled the wounded man to the ground. His right arm cocked back and his fist plowed into the intruder's face. "You son-of-a-bitch!" he roared as his arm went back up again, but then he remembered Kagome and just barely managed to keep from pounding the man's face into a bloody mess. He whipped around to see Kagome, who was still lying in a crumpled heap on the floor. "Baby!" he cried and rushed to her, holding her to him and rocking her. "Sweetheart? Please wake up."

Yuki watched with a heavy heart as Kouga picked her up carefully and took her away. Would he ever see Kagome again?

The heaviness in his chest felt like lead now as Yuki went into his apartment, leaving the beaten and bloody man outside in the hallway and in the hands of Naraku, who'd shown up at that moment. Going outside for a smoke, Yuki paced the length of his balcony. There was no way he was going to let that fool Kouga take his woman away. He couldn't allow that to happen, there was just no way. Not after all he'd been through.

Kagome was his.... and he would do whatever it took to get her back.

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

When Kagome came to herself, she was in the passenger seat next to Kouga. He glanced over at her when she stirred.

"Oh, you're awake. Hi, baby," he told her with a smile. Taking her hand in his free one, he interlaced his fingers with hers. "I thought I would make you happy and take you for a visit to see Sesshoumaru. Would you like that?"

She nodded and he pulled her hand up to his lips, but her thoughts were far from the man at her side. Relief flooded her for a moment. She had saved Yuki from death yet again. Thank heaven she'd made it in time!

That man...

He was the distraught father of the woman mentioned in her dream. Early that morning while Kouga and the other men were asleep, Kagome had crept downstairs and logged onto Kouga's computer, where looked up the name Tsubaki. Sure enough, a young woman by that name had committed suicide a few weeks before she had married Yuki, at the same time their engagement was made public. The young woman had left a note to her father, telling him that she had no any desire to live, seeing the love of her life marry another woman.

According the article, the ill-fated Haruko Tsubaki had met playboy Yamadera Yuki several years ago and after spending only two days with him, fell blindly in love with him. Her affections had not been returned, however, and she discovered that she was merely one in a long line of women he had used and thrown away when he rather unceremoniously told her to "get the hell out of his sight".

Tsubaki's grieving father had said that his little girl's soul seemed to "just wither away and die right before his eyes". She had even been persuaded to see a therapist and put on anti-depressants, but that did not appear to help much.

She had even given into harassing him, then stalking him, but she remained ignored. Then one day, she read of his engagement to Higurashi Kagome, one of the heirs to the Morikawa fortune. On that day, her father said that what little life she had left, vanished. She had had lunch with him at his home that afternoon, then she went home and he never heard from her again. It wasn't until after he had been informed of her death that he remembered she had been reading the newspaper in his living room while waiting for their food to be ready, and from there, he put two and two together. Later on, when he went through her personal items, he discovered her journals, which told the whole lurid tale from the very beginning when she first laid eyes on that "golden-haired Adonis who captured her heart at one glance".

Kagome sighed inwardly and shook her head, wondering if Tsubaki's father would receive help. Haruko Hideaki was a prominent banker and highly respected, but losing his only child the way he did, it was not surprising that it caused him to lose his sanity.

She sincerely hoped that he received the treatment he so desperately needed.

ooo

Her brothers all rejoiced at the sight of her; Inuyasha and Souta even made a sandwich out of her with Sesshoumaru and Kouga looking on.

When they were finished squishing her, Sesshoumaru called out, "Kagome, come into my office for a minute, please." She followed him obediantly, leaving Kouga and Inuyasha to glare hatefully at each other.

Kagome embraced Sesshoumaru once he closed the door. Sesshoumaru held her tightly, whispering to her how much he loved her and missed her, and how he wished that such a terrible thing had never happened to her. He regretted not saving her from that monster, he told her sadly. Perhaps if he'd followed his intuition and refused to allow her to marry such an unsavory character...

But Kagome shook her head and standing on tiptoe, kissed his cheek. Pulling her notepad from her back pocket, Kagome quickly scribbled down, 'Everything happens for a reason, Sess. I don't regret going through all that to save him.'

Amazed, Sesshoumaru shook his head. "But Kagome! He hurt you! I want him to pay for what he's done to you!"

Again she shook her head and wrote in her notepad. 'I don't want to press charges against him. Please.' She paused, then wrote, 'I forgave him already. It's over now.'

"I don't like it, beloved. He's getting off too easily for committing a crime against you. He needs to be taught a lesson."

She hung her head and wiped her eyes. 'I already did that,' she wrote with a shaky hand. 'I've already written him a letter, telling him I would always be his friend. I just need the courage to send it to him.' Her hand shook too hard to write anything else and she lay her writing things down on Sesshoumaru's desk.

Sesshoumaru held her as she cried, but inside he was overjoyed. She'd told him she'd always be his friend, huh? That was just a nice way of saying she didn't want to be with him. "Thank god," Sesshoumaru murmured into her hair. "Thank god for that." He waited a moment then asked if she would stay with him for a few days. "I've missed you so much, my darling. I didn't like not knowing where you were, although I must say that it relieved my mind knowing you were with Kouga. I know that you were completely safe in his care."

Nodding, Kagome smiled up at her guardian and once more taking up her pen and paper, she wrote, 'Sess, there's something I want to ask you.'

"Okay, little one. I'll grant you anything," he replied indulgently.

Once again, Kagome took up her little writing pad. 'I want to remain here and be with my family for awhile. I missed all of you so much. May I stay for a few days?' she wrote and handed him the paper. Sesshoumaru could not help but feel incredibly smug, yet ecstatic that she had chosen to stay with him.

"You know," he said, brushing her hair back over her shoulder, "you don't need to ask something like that of me. You should already know that we would love it if you stayed with us. This is your home, too."

Turning her head up to his, she gave him a sweet, misty-eyed smile. She leaned over to give him a hug, squeezing his waist gently. He returned the embrace, kissing the top of her head and smiling to himself. Perhaps now he would get his chance to get her to see things his way, to finally realize just how much he loved her and wanted to be with her.

ooooo

Kouga stayed for lunch and towards the end of the meal, Sesshoumaru told his guest that Kagome would not returning home with him. It was all he could do not to appear smug.

"It is her wish to remain here with her family," Sesshoumaru said quite casually, setting down his cup of tea. "Sorry, Matsuno. I know you had your heart set on her returning with you."

Kouga reached over and took one of her hands in his. "If that's what you really want to do, baby, then I'll respect your wishes. Just allow me to stay near you, Kagome. I don't want to be cut out of your life."

She shook her head and cupped his face in her hands for a moment. Then taking the notepad in hand, she wrote down, 'I want you to be in my life. But right now, I want to spend time with my family.'

He read what Kagome had to say and nodded eagerly. "Yes, and I want you to spend time with your family. Oh, wait!" His eyes opened very wide. "You left some stuff at my house. Do you want to come with me to get it or--" He looked askance at Sesshoumaru. "That is, unless Sesshoumaru would rather you stay here and I'll just go back by myself..."

Sesshoumaru cursed himself. He'd forgotten her belongings were still at Matsuno's house. "If she wishes to retrieve her things herself, then she may do as she wishes. I have no objections."

However, the second those words crossed his lips, he instantly regretted saying them. He did have objections and now he hated himself for saying otherwise. Once Kouga got Kagome alone with him, he would try to seduce her, he just knew it! Now that Yuki was no longer a threat, the competition for her would be just between the two of them. He could not allow Kouga the chance to take her from him. But since his darling wished it, then who was he to deny her what she wanted?

Even so, Sesshoumaru could not help but feel rage against the man who had treated Kagome with the utmost kindness. For a long moment, he could only watch as Kouga continued to hold her hand as he smiled lovingly into her face... and all the while, a dark, ugly rage swept through Sesshoumaru. The flames licked at his soul as he saw her return Kouga's smile and seeing that made Sesshoumaru want nothing more than to be rid of Kouga once and for all.

Kagome was his, damn it! She had always been his. From the first moment he had laid eyes on her as she ran about her family's shrine as a little girl, he knew that there was something about her that brought out an unusually strong feeling of possessiveness in him. The desire to cuddle her to him, to keep her safe from the entire world had been enough to keep him up nights when he was a young man. It disturbed him to such an extent that for a time he'd wondered if he was crazy. For a pre-teen boy to feel so strongly about a young girl several years his junior, even though the feelings were purely innocent... he often wondered if that had would be considered normal. For him, however, it was.

He'd watched her grow out of her adorable, childish ways and into a lovely woman. It wasn't until after their parents married that his feelings for her had underwent a drastic change. His interest in her had bloomed seemingly overnight and it had taken a long time for him to adjust to the new emotions he'd felt for her. He had waited a long time, a very long time, for this woman and he would not be denied what was rightfully his.

As usual, Souta was quick to notice the change in tension in the atmosphere. Sesshoumaru was radiating jealousy-fueled anger in waves so strong that even the normally dimwitted Inuyasha realized that something was amiss. For once, Inuyasha's eyes were not gazing with utter adoration at his step-sister. Instead, his gaze jumped from Sesshoumaru, to Kagome, to Kouga, then back to Sesshoumaru, apprehensive curiosity written all over his face.

"Hey, Kagome? Why don't you stay here tonight? You know, so we can catch up. I've missed you a lot," Souta piped up, a hopeful look on his face. "Then tomorrow, you can go get your stuff."

To everyone's surprise, and especially Sesshoumaru's, Kouga remarked with a nod, "Yes, we can go tomorrow. I've got to go get my bike from Yuki's place anyway. This has been a crazy day and I'd like to rest for a bit." He cast a glance over at Sesshoumaru, who nodded.

"Of course. Inuyasha will help you retrieve your motorcycle."

A spoonful of ice cream was half way the younger Morikawa's mouth when Sesshoumaru volunteered his services to Kouga. He frowned at his big brother. "I will?"

"You will."

Seeing Sesshoumaru's eyes narrow into the look of death, Inuyasha sighed with resignation. "Fine. I guess I'm helping you, Kouga. But this better not take too long. I've got things to do, you know," he said, shoveling the ice cream into his mouth.

oooooooooooooooooooooo

The next day, Sesshoumaru watched bitterly as Kouga and his buddies picked Kagome up and drove away with her. She had decided to return with Kouga to get her things, much to Sesshoumaru's disappointment. He did not want her to leave.

He went to work feeling as if his world was beginning to slip away from him. When he returned home after a very long, tiring day, Sesshoumaru changed and went downstairs to his study, where he locked himself away and poured himself a double shot of whiskey. He went online and surfed a bit, but after awhile, he sighed heavily and opened the top right drawer of his desk, withdrawing a folded piece of paper. Unfolding it, he laid it down in front him and stared at it for a long moment, before returning it to its resting place in the drawer and leaned back in his chair.

His gaze fell onto his drink, one long finger running down the side of the sweating glass, pushing the condensation downwards.

This precious piece of paper... would he ever have need of it? In the back of his alcohol-fuzzed brain, he hoped to the gods he would, for it represented something that he wanted more than anything else in this world.

Unbidden, he recalled the day before, when Kouga and Kagome were staring adoringly into each other's eyes. He'd felt great anger, yes, but also a small part of him had begun to lose hope.

Would Kagome return to him? Would she come back home, her heart still free and her body still untouched?

Squeezing his eyes shut against the tears that threatened to fall, Sesshoumaru down the rest of his drink and slumped over onto his desk, laying his head on his arms.

He couldn't lose her. He just couldn't.

ooo

Later that night, after he rinsed his mouth once he had brushed his teeth, Sesshoumaru felt slightly nauseous and a bit of pain in his chest caused him to wince. All day long he hadn't felt like his usual healthy self and he prayed that he wasn't getting sick. He couldn't get sick now and be left at the mercy of his illness while Kagome was in Kouga's clutches. That would just kill him.

He was still bent over the sink waiting for the queasiness to pass when Jaken came in.

"Sesshoumaru-sama? Are you ill?" He hurried to Sesshoumaru's side, worry on his face.

Forcing his nausea back, Sesshoumaru shook his head. "I'm fine, Jaken. It's nothing; I only feel a bit unwell. It was probably something I ate for lunch. I went to a restaurant I've never been to before. One of my associates likes to frequent these hole-in-the-wall kinds of places," he chuckled softly, but he ended up coughing until he was red in the face. When he had recovered himself, he smiled ruefully at the little butler. "I think I might have picked up some kind of bug from there. Just wait. I'll be covered with purple and orange spots by the time the sun comes up." He grinned sunnily at Jaken.

Frowning, Jaken tut-tutted at his employer. "That is not amusing, Sesshoumaru-sama. Please don't joke about things like that. Shall I make you an appointment to see your doctor in the morning?"

"No, that won't be necessary. It's probably nothing more than a stomach virus. It will pass soon enough."

"You are working too hard, Sesshoumaru-sama. I know my opinion means little when you are determined to do something, but please, at least for Miss Kagome's sake, go to the doctor. She would be upset if you fell ill."

"I know." Bowing his head, he shut his eyes. "I can't worry my girl like that. Jaken," he muttered, turning to his butler, "don't call the doctor until I can't work anymore. If I can still work, I'm not that sick."

"But Sesshoumaru-sama...!"

Sesshoumaru cut him off with a wave of his hand. "I refuse to be put into the hospital, Jaken. You know how I feel about such places." He switched off the light and exited the bathroom as Jaken scuttled out right behind him.

"Yes sir, but--"

"No buts! Do as I say, Jaken, and don't give me any lip about it. I'm just feeling a bit unwell right now. No harm done. I'll be fine in a couple of days."

Jaken sighed and shrugged helplessly. "Whatever you say, Sesshoumaru-sama. Well, let's put you to bed." He moved forward to take Sesshoumaru's arm, but Sesshoumaru shook his head. "Sir? What's wrong?"

"I'm not sleepy, Jaken. I think I'll sit up for awhile, alright?"

With an irritated squawk, the butler straightened his little frame to its fullest height. "I'm afraid that I don't agree with that, sir. You need your sleep, especially since you're ill!"

Sesshoumaru cast the little man a dark look. "I didn't say I was sick, Jaken. I said I felt a little unwell. That doesn't necessarily mean the same thing, you know."

"Well, to me it does!" He grabbed his boss by the arms and dragged him to his bed where he gave him a shove backwards onto the mattress. "You will lie down and sleep if I have to call Dr. Yamadera to come by and give you a shot in your backside, young man!" he told his master sternly.

Staring up at Jaken, Sesshoumaru lay sprawled on his back across his bed, yellow eyes round with disbelief. His silver hair pooled behind him on the bed as he propped himself up on his elbows. "I can't believe this," he murmured, a tinge of amazement in his voice as Jaken grabbed hold of his legs and situated them beneath the covers. "I'm being manhandled by my butler. Will wonders never cease?"

"I have been watching over you since you were born, Sesshoumaru-sama," Jaken announced with an imperious sniff, viciously tucking in his master with the utmost efficiency. "I'll not have you die on me simply because you are being stubborn. Your dear father would never forgive me."

"But Jaken, I can't move my legs..."

"Good! That's just the way I want it. Now you'll have to stay in bed, won't you?" When Sesshoumaru began to complain, Jaken silenced the younger man with an imposing look. "Think about it this way, my lovesick young lord. Do you want Kouga to win Kagome's heart?"

"You know I don't want that," Sesshoumaru pouted childishly, turning his head away.

"Well then! That should give you an incentive to get better, right? You need your rest." Jaken reached over to the nightstand and picked up a teacup. "Here, drink this."

Whipping his head around, Sesshoumaru glared up at his butler/dictator. "I don't think so, pal. Last time you told me to drink something, it was drugged."

"This time I promise you that it is not."

"You know I don't believe you, Jaken."

Jaken shrugged and took a sip of the tea before handing it to Sesshoumaru, who took the cup with some hesitation. "You see? Would I have drunk it so readily if it had been drugged?"

Sesshoumaru glanced from the cup and back at Jaken, his eyes narrowed suspiciously. "I don't know. You're pretty damn sneaky for an old man, Jaken."

"I had to learn how to outsmart you when you were younger, Sesshoumaru-sama. You and young master Inuyasha. The two of you were such troublemakers when you were children, and I remember getting the pair of you out of trouble many times. I worshipped your father, but I didn't want either of you being punished for your childish pranks. He warned me not to be such a pushover and to coddle you, but I never could resist your sweet little faces." He patted Sesshoumaru's arm. "Whatever I've done, it's only ever been for your benefit, Sesshoumaru-sama."

Watching the little man speak, Sesshoumaru felt nothing but love for him. Jaken had been the first person he'd run to when he and Inuyasha had done something foolish to anger their father. The two of them knew that Jaken would always find a way out of the bind they had gotten themselves into and while he and his brother had looked up to Jaken as some kind of benevolent god, Sesshoumaru suspected that the little butler had thoroughly enjoyed his elevated status.

"I know, Jaken, and I thank you for everything you've ever done for me and my family." He bowed his head and began drinking his tea obediantly. "I should be ashamed of myself... for not trusting in you. Forgive me."

Jaken waved his hand airily. "Think nothing of it, sir. All I ask is that you try to get to some sleep." He sat down beside his master and brushed the hair back from his face. Jaken did not like the flushed look on Sesshoumaru's normally pale cheeks. Nor did he like the unusually warm feeling on that exquisite, youthful face. The boy was coming down with something, he would swear to it and whether he liked it or not, Jaken would call Dr. Yamadera in the morning to voice his concerns.

Sliding down further into his sheets to lie on his back, Sesshoumaru closed his eyes and allowed Jaken to stroke his hair. It was something that he remembered his mother doing to him when he was sick as a child, and later, after his mother's death, he had asked Jaken to do it for him since his mother no longer could. "Where's Kagome?" he asked softly, enjoying the sensation of having a human hand brush against his cheeks. He just wished it was his beloved's hand on his brow and in his hair.

"She's with Matsuno-san, Sesshoumaru-sama."

"Yes, of course. How foolish of me to have forgotten."

The stroking stopped for a moment, then began again. "Miss Kagome loves you, Sesshoumaru-sama." Jaken's voice was quiet and tender. "I'd be willing to bet my life that she will end up as your wife."

"I wish I could be as confident as you, Jaken." Sesshoumaru frowned, then opened his eyes, and Jaken could see the drowsiness in them. "I'm... so sleepy," he muttered, his eyes struggling to stay open.

"Don't fight it, Sesshoumaru-sama," the butler urged gently, his hand still stroking the silken, silver locks. He watched tenderly as his young master's golden eyes closed, his head shiftng to one side. Jaken smiled and got up carefully from the bed. He continued to watch Sesshoumaru sleep for a few minutes before clearing up the teacup and saucer and leaving the room in silence.

oooooooooooooooooooooo

The next day, Sesshoumaru did not feel better. In fact, he felt much worse. Not only had he come wide awake around one in the morning, but his breathing had been labored and he felt hot and cold at the same time. His chest hurt like crazy. Everything in him was screaming at him to go to the hospital, but he just could not bring himself to do that. There was just too much to do today. He couldn't take a day off for what was, in all probability, just a little cold. That would be ridiculous. He could work through a cold. He'd done it before and he could easily do it again.

oooooooo

Kagome returned to the Morikawa home in the afternoon after retrieving her belongings from Kouga's home in the country. No one was home when she arrived, which, at first, she thought was out of the ordinary. Normally, Jaken or the maids would be bustling about, doing something. But then she recalled that today was the maids' day off. It was also the day Jaken went shopping for household items. Usually, Jaken ordered things in, but like herself, at times he preferred to go out and buy them himself.

On this day, Souta would accompany him on his errands. He usually went with Jaken because he enjoyed pestering the little man about getting several different flavors of ice cream. Souta always managed to get Jaken to buy him whatever he wanted.

Shaking her head and smiling, Kagome unpacked her things. As she was putting her empty suitcase away, Kagome heard a thump come from somewhere in the supposedly empty house. It wasn't a natural sounding noise in an empty house and she became concerned. Perhaps there were burglars trying to get in?

Going slowly down the main staircase, Kagome heard some movement coming from the direction of Sesshoumaru's study. She frowned. It must be a burglar, then, for Sesshoumaru was never home this time of day!

As she moved closer to the study, there was a stumbling sound, followed by a thud. It sounded like a heavy object hitting the ground, the sound muffled in the thick carpet.

Unwisely, Kagome ran the rest of the way to the study and when she burst through the door, she found Sesshoumaru sprawled, facedown, on the carpet.

With her heart already pounding, Kagome rushed over to him and quickly turned him over on his back. His face was flushed a bright red, but it was his breathing that had her terribly worried. It came in short, choppy pants; his lungs sounded as though they were filled with liquid.

Her first thought was to call for Jaken, but then she remembered he wasn't at home. She raced for the phone on Sesshoumaru's desk and as she grabbed the receiver to dial the emergency number, she remembered that she couldn't speak. The dispatcher's voice came on the line as hot tears of frustration ran down Kagome's face. How would she be able to get help?

On the other end, the dispatcher began to sound concerned when no one answered her queries. "Whoever this is, I am sending a police car to your location to find out what the trouble is. If this is a prank, I suggest you speak up now if you do not wish to find yourself in any trouble."

Of course, Kagome could not speak up and the dispatcher informed her that a police unit was being sent to her location at that very moment and hung up. At least help was coming, she thought, trying to stay positive.

At that moment, Sesshoumaru began to cough and when Kagome turned to see, she found that he had coughed up something yellow, mixed in with blood. She began to feel faint as she saw it trickling out of the side of his mouth, but she kept it together long enough to drop down beside him and turn him over onto his side so that he wouldn't choke.

But this seemed to make his breathing sound worse and she began to cry helplessly. When would help arrive? Would it be soon?

Without thinking, Kagome reached down and picked up the phone again, automatically dialing Akira's number, hoping against hope that she could make him realize who it was calling him.

It rang once, twice, three times. On the fourth ring, Akira finally picked up. There was a noise, as if he was fumbling with the phone before his voice came on the line.

"Yeah?" His voice was heavy with sleep.

Fighting back her panic, Kagome pressed one of the buttons.

That seemed to wake him up a bit. "Huh? Hello? Who is this?"

Again she pressed a button, but that only served to annoy the doctor. "Who the hell is this? Yuki? If this is your sorry ass playing some stupid prank on me, goddamn it, I'll fucking kill you!"

'Please, Akira! Help me!' her mind screamed, fresh tears spilling down her face. She pressed a couple more buttons, squeezing her eyes shut. 'Please help me...'

"Who is this, damn it! Yuki, you asshole! You know I've just worked for three days straight!"

In front of her, Sesshoumaru began to cough again, and the sound his lungs made her feel weak with fright. She just had to make Akira understand! She had to try!

"Ah..."

Akira's string of curses and damning Yuki to hell ceased abruptly. "Hello? Who is this, already?"

Please work! "Ah... ah..."

"I'm hanging up now," Akira informed her coldly. "I'm sick of your shit, Yuki."

No, please wait! "Ah... ah...A-kira..." Kagome's eyes flew open. She had spoken! Hope burst inside of her and she felt completely reassured. Everything would be okay now.

"Huh? Wait... who is this?"

Again Sesshoumaru began coughing helplessly and Kagome burst out, "Akira! Help me!"

"Kagome?!" Akira's anger vanished and she could just hear him getting out of bed. "What's wrong, honey? Where are you?"

"Home... Sess-houmaru..." Her voice cracked and nothing else came out, although she tried. Please come! her mind cried. Please come!

The sounds on the other end finally ceased and Akira back on the line. "Okay, okay, I'm coming. Do you need an ambulance?"

But she could only press the buttons frantically. Sesshoumaru was panting now, his breathing even more labored than before.

"Kagome! Here's what I want you to do. Press once for yes and twice for no. Got it?"

She pressed once.

"Good girl. Do you need an ambulance?"

One beep.

"Are you at Sesshoumaru's house?"

One beep.

"Okay. Is it for you?"

Two beeps.

The sound of keys rattling could be heard and Akira asked, "Is it for Sesshoumaru?"

One beep.

"Okay. Here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to hang up and call an ambulance for you, then I'll call you right back. Got it?"

She pressed the button once and heard him hang up. The next few minutes were torment as she waited for Akira to call back. Sesshoumaru was burning up and she knew she should get some ice for his head, but she was too scared to leave him by himself.

Just as she was beginning to think that Akira had forgotten her, the phone rang. "Sorry!" Akira apologized after she had come on the line. "I had to tell the dispatcher I didn't know what was wrong with him, that I was calling for someone else. They're on their way, honey. Is he sick?"

Kagome punched the button one time and Akira sighed. "Thought so. I've been worried about him. Jaken called me this morning and told me that Sesshoumaru hadn't been looking too well lately. Apparently, he hasn't been sleeping again, either. No wonder he's sick. Lack of sleep weakens the immune system, and it leaves the body susceptible to diseases." He paused and Kagome heard his car engine rev. "Sorry, Kagome. I'm trying to get there as quick as I can. How are you feeling? Do you feel sick, too?"

She hit the number pad twice and he sighed again. "Thank heaven. I should probably check to see if your brothers, Jaken and the maids are okay as well. It might be contagious. Oh, crap, my phone battery's on low! I didn't give it enough time to recharge. Listen, when the paramedics get there, let them know to send Sesshoumaru to my hospital. It's the closest one to your house. I'm going to head over there right now, so I'll be there when you arrive. See you in a bit, Kagome." Again he hung up, leaving Kagome alone with Sesshoumaru.

It wasn't too long before she heard the wailing sirens. Jumping up, she ran over to a piece of wall by the door where she quickly located the master control panel and typed in the code to open the gates to the driveway. Then she ran to the front door and threw it open to step outside in order to wait for the ambulance to arrive.

oooooo

"Well," said Akira to Kagome, after examining Sesshoumaru just over an hour later. "It appears to be pneumonia."

Kagome gripped onto Sesshoumaru's hand a little tighter. His breathing wasn't as labored as before, but the sound of it still frightened her, even though at the moment, he was undergoing a nebulizer treatment to help him breath easier. At least his temperature had gone down considerably, for now his skin felt cool to the touch. Not too long ago, his life hung in the balance, his lungs very nearly shutting down on him.

"He'll be alright, you know," the doctor reassured her, gripping her shoulder firmly. "He's still young and relatively healthy. With proper treatment, he'll be right as rain in no time."

Nodding, Kagome gave Akira a watery smile. 'Thank you,' she mouthed at him.

"You're quite welcome. By the way," he said, turning her to face him. "I'm sorry for yelling at you earlier. I really thought that Yuki was trying to be funny. He's done that to me before, so I thought--"

Shaking her head vehemently, Kagome waved her hand dismissively as if to say 'It's no big deal'.

Akira smiled, his face brightening. "That's a relief. I was afraid I'd offended you. But enough of that. Kagome, you spoke! I was thoroughly shocked when I heard your voice again." His smile faltered and he touched her face. "But I see it's gone again. I guess it worked only when you truly needed it. Well, don't force it, okay? It'll return when it's ready."

Bowing her head, she nodded. When she turned her attention back to Sesshoumaru, she felt Akira move away from her and leave the room. Hearing the sound of the door closing behind the doctor, Kagome sank to her knees beside the bed. She had been terrified for her step-brother today. If she hadn't come home when she did, there was a good chance Sesshoumaru would have easily succumbed to a treatable illness. The thought that he could have died, left her feeling incredibly solemn.

She shook her head. 'Silly, hard-headed man,' she thought fondly, running a thumb over his knuckles. Just because he hated hospitals, he had allowed himself to get so sick that he very nearly expired.

What would happen to her if that had happened? She was so used to Sesshoumaru taking care of her. Could she survive without him watching over her? But worst of all, how could she have lived with herself for taking him for granted, thinking... no, expecting, that he would always be there for her? For that surely was what she had done. She had begun to take him for granted without even realizing that she was doing so.

Getting to her feet and leaning over him, she kissed his forehead gently. "I... love you, Sess," she whispered. A moment later, she started, her eyes flying open. She'd spoken again! With a gentle smile, she kissed him again, feeling so grateful that he was still here. "I promise to never take you for granted again," she murmured against his smooth brow.

Sesshoumaru shifted in his sleep and when Kagome pulled away from him, his smile appeared from behind the mask of his nebulizer treatment. Even though his mouth and nose were covered, his face looked sweet and childlike. His helplessness touched her, but it also brought out the protectiveness in her. For once, she wanted to be the one to watch over him and take care of him, as he had done for her for so long.

Today, she had just had a taste of what he went through when she nearly passed away six years ago; the terror and agony he must have felt when he saw with his own eyes that the person who was so very dear to him was a mere breath away from death.

Kagome remembered with horror the moment when Sesshoumaru had stopped breathing while in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. In that moment she knew... she knew without a doubt... that she could not live without him.

After staring down at him for several moments, a thought struck her. Well, it was more of an idea. Should she go through with it? It would take some time to work out and she would need to get the timing just right. It was the right thing to do, she felt, and very bold; it would also be completely out of character for her. But then, she knew Sesshoumaru would never object. He loved her. She knew that with every fiber of her being. Sesshoumaru loved her... and she would show him just how much she loved him in return.

ooooooooo

ooooooooooooooo

"How are you feeling, aniue?" Souta asked Sesshoumaru as Inuyasha pulled up to the house and parked the car. It had been nearly a month since Sesshoumaru had been admittted to the hospital and now he was finally back home.

Sesshoumaru, still pale and weak, turned to look at Souta and gave the young man a wan smile. "I feel fine, thank you." He unbuckled himself and got slowly out of the car with Inuyasha's assistance. "I just wish Kagome had come with you. I haven't seen her in over a week." He sighed heavily. "I'll bet she's with Kouga, huh? Man, I miss her so much."

Behind his back, Inuyasha and Souta gave each other a secretive look. Kagome had been with Kouga, but not in the way Sesshoumaru had thought.

The three were met at the front door by a very stately looking Jaken. "Sesshoumaru-sama, welcome home! If you would, come this way, please." He took Sesshoumaru's arm and led him up the stairs.

"I don't need to lie down," Sesshoumaru complained. "I've done plenty of that for the past few weeks."

"Oh no, sir. You won't be lying down just yet. We need to get you into a different set of clothes right now. You have an appointment."

"Huh?" Sesshoumaru threw a questioning glance back at his younger brothers, but they'd disappeared. "Jaken! What's going on?"

Jaken said nothing, but merely dragged the protesting young master to his bedroom and proceeded to undress him. When it was all said and done, Sesshoumaru was staring at himself in the mirror, thinking that it was far too early in the day to be wearing a tuxedo. While Jaken brushed his hair, Sesshoumaru watched the little man in the mirror. "What's going on, Jaken?" he ventured to ask again, his head jerking back slightly as Jaken tried brushing through a small tangle.

But the small butler only shook his head. "I can't say, Sesshoumaru-sama. Well, there you go. Shall we leave now?"

"Leave? Where are we going?"

Taking Sesshoumaru's arm once again, Jaken tugged his master along behind him. "Come along, sir. You'll find out soon enough."

By the time they reached the last step, Sesshoumaru found Inuyasha and Souta both waiting for him, each of them dressed up in their own tuxedos as well. Now he was really suspicious.

"What is this? Is there a party somewhere?" he asked, but got no response.

He was led through the foyer and down a hallway that ended up in another wing of the house that housed the ballroom. This wing was perfectly silent; not a sound could be heard save the echoes of their footsteps in the hallway.

Inuyusha and Souta went to the double doors and each took a door, pushing it open. Sesshoumaru walked in and suddenly the lights were flipped on and a chorus of "Welcome home!" and loud applause rang throughout the massive room.

Sesshoumaru saw all of his closest friends and colleagues, his employees, as well as Hiro, Akira, Kouga, Ginta and Hakkaku, Sango and Miroku... and Kagome. Her body was clad in that emerald green gown he'd found so appealing on her the year before. The silky fabric clung to her slim figure, moulding itself to every curve she possessed, while her shiny black hair flowed loosely down her back. It was all he could do not to drool all over himself.

His heart skipped a beat as Kagome came forward and handed him a piece of paper that read, 'Welcome home, Sess'. She then reached up on tiptoe to press a kiss on his cheek. He leaned into the kiss, closing his eyes, relief washing over him. So this was why she hadn't been to visit him! He'd believed that she was spending her time with Kouga, but his sneaky little girl had only been busy putting together this party for him. But while she'd been doing that, he'd missed her so much that every single day he'd wanted to cry from sheer loneliness. Sure, his brothers and Jaken came to visit and so did some of his colleagues, but he had wanted Kagome there more than anything.

"I hope you like this little party," Kouga said, walking up to them. "Kagome worked really hard to put all this together, boss man. She did it pretty much all on her own." He winked at Kagome, who bowed her head and blushed furiously.

Taking his beloved's hand in his, Sesshoumaru gave it a squeeze. "I know I will," he said softly, sending a heated gaze her way.

ooo

Later, while Sesshoumaru was chatting amicably with a few of his managers, Souta gathered everyone's attention, saying that there was an important announcement that needed to be made. Silence fell over the crowd and Sesshoumaru turned to see what was going on. Souta pulled Kagome out from the midst of the guests and Sesshoumaru frowned. What was he doing?

When Kagome opened her mouth and began to speak, Sesshoumaru was stunned. When had she regained her voice?

"Thank you all for coming today to welcome Sesshoumaru back home. I know all of you were as worried as we, his family, were. I'm just glad and so thankful that I was here when he collapsed and was able to get the help he so desperately needed." She paused a moment, then said, "But I don't want to draw attention to that. Nothing I did was heroic or spectacular... I just wanted to keep my step-brother alive because I love him.

"When I was with him at the hospital, I realized that I had begun to take Sesshoumaru for granted. I had come to expect that he would always be there for me, to take care of me, to support me. As some of you know, there was a time when my own life was nearly ended, when I had to depend on others to take care of my most basic needs. Well, Sesshoumaru was always there to care for me, but I never realized just what an impact the reality of my impending death had had on him. I now know what that was like, to see that person... to see..."

Her voice shook, but she went on steadily, her head held high. "... to see the person I loved most in this world hanging onto life by a mere thread. This time, our roles had been reversed and I was the one hoping and praying for a positive outcome. I was the one who waited with baited breath by the bedside, wanting more than anything that he would wake up and tell me..." She stopped and lowered her head to wipe the tears from her eyes. "To tell me... that he loved me. All I wanted was to hear him to tell me that one more time."

Raising her head once again, she looked directly at Sesshoumaru, her heart pounding. "I never meant to take you for granted, Sesshoumaru. I was just so caught up in everything and everyone else... except you. You... needed me and I completely ignored you. I apologize for not taking better care of you, knowing how you get when you worry about me."

Her words brought back those horrible days when she was in the hospital and reminded him of exactly how he felt when he realized that it all could have been prevented if he had only paid more attention to her. Sesshoumaru opened his mouth to speak, but she cut him off with a wave of her hand.

"No, please let me finish. If I had lost you, I don't know what I would have done. I never realized how truly lost and helpless I am without you, Sesshoumaru. You are everything to me. Everything."

Sesshoumaru was blown away by her words. "Kagome...?" Did he dare to hope that she would finally return his feelings?

"You have asked me several times this past year to marry you, Sess. I would like to give you an answer now, if you don't mind."

Around him, Sesshoumaru could hear the crowd buzz with excitement. "No," he said, the blood roaring in his ears. He felt his face grow warm as his heart tried to beat its way out of his chest. "No, I don't mind at all."

Tears falling down her cheeks, Kagome went up to him and took his hands in hers. "I would be... honored to be your wife, Sesshoumaru."

A round of applause went up from the crowd, but Sesshoumaru did not hear it, for he had grabbed Kagome and kissed her as though his life depended on it. Not in a million years would he have expected this from his darling little girl. She was so shy in front of large groups of people and for her to gather the courage to say what she did in front of this crowd made him so very proud of her.

His thoughts did not stay on that very long, for he could think of nothing else than the words she had spoken. She would be honored to be his wife.

ooo

Later, he managed to get her away from the now-dwindling party and got her alone in his study. Once they were behind closed doors, he sat down on one of his couches and pulled her onto his lap. After an intense make out session, he rubbed his nose against her cheek and sighed contentedly. "Oh, my little darling! I love you so much. Thank you for everything today. This has been the second best day of my life."

"Second best?" Kagome chuckled as he nibbled on her earlobe. "What was the best day of your life?"

"Mmm. It hasn't happened yet, but it will." He claimed her swollen lips in yet another scorching kiss. "The day you become my wife will be the best day of my life, hands down." His eyes burned into hers, leaving her a quivering mass in his arms. "I want to get married right now, Kagome. I don't want to wait. You've made me wait for you long enough."

"Well, you know," Kagome whispered, pressing soft kisses along her beloved's jaw, "Judge Hadori is here. Perhaps you could ask him to marry us one day soon."

Sesshoumaru's body tensed. "Yes... he is, isn't he?" He looked thoughtful for a moment, then a sly look crossed his face. Setting her on the sofa beside him, he got hurriedly to his feet. "I'll be right back, my love. Don't move a muscle." He strode from the room in search of Jaken.

When he returned, he was not alone. Inuyasha, Souta and Jaken were with him, as well as Judge Hadori Myoga. Sesshoumaru walked over to his desk and opening the top drawer, he pulled out a piece of paper, which he handed to the judge.

Judge Hadori glanced down at the paper and nodded. "It's all in order, Sesshoumaru. Now all we need is the bride." He looked over at Kagome and winked.

"Sess? What's all this?" Kagome asked, confused when he came over to her and pulled her to her feet.

"I meant what I said about us getting married right now, Kagome." He laughed at her stunned expression and kissed the tip of her nose. "What can I say? I'm an impatient man."

"But the license! Don't we need to get a license first?"

The judge held up the paper Sesshoumaru had given him. "It's right here, young lady. Sesshoumaru's a very perceptive and optimistic young man, not to mention patient... at least when it counts. This license is dated a few days after I annulled your marriage to Mr. Yamadera." He smiled at Sesshoumaru, but that particular gentleman only had eyes for his bride-to-be.

"It was hard staying positive, Kagome, but I kept on believing that I would be the one to marry you. There were times I felt like all hope was lost, but something inside me kept telling me to believe that it would come true." He slipped arm around her and forced her to stand in front of the judge.

"Do you have the rings?" Judge Hadori asked with a smile.

Jaken came forward, his hand rummaging about in his inner breast coat pocket. "Here they are, your honor."

"Sesshoumaru?" Kagome looked up at her soon-to-be husband with confusion. "I had no idea about any of this! When did you get the rings? And I thought I was the only one being secretive."

Sesshoumaru only smiled at her and requested the judge to start the ceremony.

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

It was January. The sky above was a bright, brilliant blue and warm, gentle ocean breezes stirred Sesshoumaru's hair. Something moved swiftly in his peripheral vision and he looked up from his book. After marking the page, he closed his book and lay it down across his abdomen in time to see Kagome and Souta race over the white sands towards the clear blue of the Caribbean Ocean. He smiled as they dove into the water together and swam out a little ways from the beach. Following slowly behind them on the beach was the ever-watchful Kouga, who sported khaki cargo shorts, a white wifebeater, sunglasses, running shoes and a spectacular golden tan.

Sesshoumaru had been surprised when Kouga asked to accompany them on vacation as bodyguard. Well... not for them per se, but for her. He was only there for Kagome and no one else, Kouga had told Sesshoumaru, who had been amused and in a way, touched that Kouga still had eyes for no other woman except Kagome, despite the fact that she was married to another man.

When he had asked Kouga why he continued to torment himself, knowing she would never be his, Kouga answered that he had sworn to Kagome that he would always be there for her, no matter what.

"But surely you'll want to find a nice woman and get married someday, right?" Sesshoumaru had asked, now a bit concerned for the black-haired man whom he had come to trust with his life. Was Kouga perhaps a bit too obsessed with Kagome? The thought uneased him slightly but he pushed it back. He did not want to think like that about the man he had come to call friend.

Kouga shook his head firmly, his blue eyes fixed intently on Sesshoumaru's face. "She owns me," he had replied quietly, emotion vibrating from every syllable. "She is my world. You may have taken her from me, Sesshoumaru, but that doesn't mean I have to stop loving her or protecting her. Besides, Yuki didn't take her marriage to you lightly. There are rumors..." He trailed off, azure gaze sliding away.

Sesshoumaru tried coaxing more information from him, but with no success. Kouga refused to say anymore on the subject and left.

Looking away from Kouga, Sesshoumaru's eyes were drawn to Kagome, who was emerging from the water. His wife looked amazing in her bikini; her body was nicely filled out and her curves were soft and rounded. Even her skin was radiant, and it was not just because she'd been out in the sun for the last few days. Just seeing at her walking back through hip-deep water, bikini clinging to her frame like a second skin, turned him on like crazy.

Since their marriage, their health had both greatly improved. He was finally sleeping peacefully every night with her beside him and she was actually eating better. He had even managed to incorporate food into their lovemaking like fruit, ice cream and chocolate sauce. That way, she'd have no choice but to eat, although usually, it was he who had more. Regardless, it had worked better than he could have ever imagined. About two months after their wedding, Kagome had put on ten pounds, much to her dismay and his delight. Now that they had been married for several months, she looked healthier than ever.

But now, there was another reason why Kagome looked so healthy, so glowing with life.

The night before while he was brushing his hair in the bathroom after his shower, he heard Kagome's cell phone go off. When she answered it, he edged a bit closer to the door, so as to eavesdrop in on her conversation.

She went out onto the balcony and to his disappointment, the sound of the ocean drowned out her words. Frowning, he continued with his task. Who in the world had the nerve to be calling his wife so late at night... while they were on vacation? If it was a man, so help him, he'd--

He could take no more. Putting down his brush, Sesshoumaru stalked out of the bathroom, fully intent on demanding to know who was calling her, but stopped short when he saw her slowly lower her phone and close it softly. She was staring out over the ocean, completely still.

"Kagome? Who was that?"

Startled, she turned around to look at him. The expression on her face was one of stunned joy, but it was the tears in her eyes that caused concern to fly through him. He rushed over to her, wanting to know what had happened, but she shook her head and reaching up, gently tugged his head down to hers.

"Darling? What's wrong? What hap--" His words were cut short when she pressed her lips to his.

His arms went around her and he held her to him for a long moment, allowing himself to savor her sweet kiss, then swept her up into his arms and carried her to their bed. Laying her down, he got on his knees before her and asked her once more what had happened.

"Sesshoumaru," she began, her cheeks turning a delightful shade of pink, "you are going to be a father."

Nothing in the world had prepared him for that statement. Even though he'd waited and prayed for months after their marriage for Kagome to conceive, hearing that his wish to be a father was now an reality, was a shock to his system.

"So, that person on the phone..."

She nodded, brown eyes studying him. "Dr. Yamadera."

"I see." His gaze dropped down to her belly, which was still flat, and he reached out tentatively for it. Splaying his hand across her abdomen, he swallowed hard, a small, tremulous smile curving his lips. "Really?" he asked, voice hopeful and a little strained.

Her hand moved to cover his. "Yes, really." She sounded amused and he looked up into her eyes. They twinkled back at him. "Last week I went to Akira because I wasn't feeling well and he had a blood test done, I suppose, because he suspected it. He said that the test was positive."

His eyes traveled down to her breasts and rested there for a minute. Lately, he'd noticed that they had changed; the nipples were darker and more sensitive than usual. "How far along are you?" he asked in a breathy whisper, leaning forward to kiss her neck. When she moaned softly, he gave a little growl and pushed her gently backwards onto the mattress, where he settled down beside her and continued kissing her throat.

"Akira says... about a month and a half," she murmured when she could speak again. She slid her fingers into his hair as his lips traveled slowly up her neck to just beneath her jaw.

Sesshoumaru smiled against her skin and inhaled deeply, savoring her scent. "I guess this is my chance to show you I can change those dirty nappies, huh?"

She chuckled softly. "You'd better believe it. Just because you're the all-powerful Sesshoumaru doesn't exclude you from diaper duty."

Raising his head, he laughed joyfully. "I'm not all-powerful, darling. I'm just a man who's desperately in love with his wife. So you can believe me when I say that I don't plan on missing out on a thing, no matter how distasteful it is." His eyes twinkled merrily down at her. "I want to be there for every milestone, even if I have to stay home from work for a year or so to do it. What do you think?"

"Well, you're the boss, honey. Perhaps this would be a good thing."

"Really?" Sesshoumaru couldn't believe that she would agree to having him underfoot at all times for the space of a year, or perhaps longer. "Why do you think so?"

Kagome ran a finger over his lips. "Well, doubtless this would leave Inuyasha in charge of everything. It would give him experience on running the company by himself and this would be a great chance for you to bond with your child, not to mention leaving me free to find time to be by myself and--"

Her husband frowned, and snagged her finger gently with his teeth for a moment. "Now wait a minute, little lady. I never said you could go gallivanting off whenever you pleased. I want to be with you and our child every minute of every day."

"Oh, Sess, you know I'll need to have some time to myself and besides, I'm certain you'll be tired of always being with the baby and me within a week. But with you watching the baby, Sango and I can go out for lunch and afterwards and we could go to a spa and get a massage. Of course, Miroku would have to take care of their child. Oh! You know Sango's due next month, right?"

"I'll give you as many massages as you want, Kagome," he informed her grimly, ignoring the subject of Sango and her impending childbirth. His brow furrowed in consternation. "I refuse to allow some big, muscle-bound freak of nature named Armando to put his hands on my wife's body."

"A manicure and a pedicure would be nice, too--"

"I can do that. Or rather... I can try to do it. Just tell me how. I'll learn to do it if it pleases you, Kagome."

Hiding her amusement, Kagome rolled her eyes, and continued. "Ooh! Or I can go buy a steamy romance novel, some candles, champagne, chocolates and bubble bath. Then I would come home, draw a bath and sit in the tub for hours eating chocolates, sipping champagne and reading my book. Mmm, that's sounds lovely, doesn't it?"

Now he knew his little minx was teasing him. "Only if I can join you, sans romance novel." Sesshoumaru looked at her with hungry, passion-filled eyes. "Sweetheart, you don't need a bloody book to show you how hot sex can be. I'm more than willing to show you even if I have to buy every book in existance on the Kama Sutra and study every position and move religiously. But if you start getting the need to read those sappy romance novels, I'll get jealous. I don't want you reading about how other men make love to their women. That would just tell me that I'm boring you or that I'm doing something wrong."

But Kagome shook her head firmly. "That isn't so, Sesshoumaru. I love the way you make love to me and you're definitely not boring. Every day is an adventure with you, my love." She smiled up at him. "I was actually thinking that perhaps I could learn something from those books on how better to please you. As you know, I came to you with no bedroom experience at all."

With a groan, Sesshoumaru kissed her hard. "And I thank kami for that! I couldn't bear it if some other man had had you first. Then I would feel the need to surpass him at everything and I'd always be wondering if you were comparing me to him," he said, thinking of Kouga and not liking it one bit. He remembered the time when he'd found Kagome pinned beneath a half-naked Kouga, the two of them making out with a desperation that shook him to the bone. He hadn't realized just how attracted she was to Kouga, until he'd seen her offering her body like that to him. Or at least, that was what it felt like. Kagome had wanted Kouga to make love to her, that much had been clear. She had clung tightly to him, not wanting to let go of him.

That had not been a particularily pleasant thing to witness. Seeing Kouga on top of her had made him want to rip the man apart with his bare hands.

"Well," she said, "you've been with other women before. Do you ever compare me to them?"

"Kagome," he grumbled warningly, "I have never compared you to them, and even if I were to do such a thing, undoubtedly you would come out on top, my sweet. Besides, all that happened back when I was in my last year of high school and at the university, but that was only because you were too young for me then." He lay down beside her and kissed her deeply. "As much as I regret being with those other women, I had to do something to work out my frustrations the only way I knew how. It was really difficult for me during that time because I loved you so much and yet, I couldn't bring myself to touch you for fear that you didn't want to have anything to do with me. And of course, I didn't want you to think I was some sort of pervert, either. Hey, do you remember when we would all have dinner together after our parents got married?"

She nodded and he gave her a rueful smile. "Don't laugh, but I don't know how many times I had to run upstairs and take a cold shower after dinner. It was torture sitting there across the table from you, watching you, thinking how beautiful you were and how badly I wanted you... and praying to kami that you'd hurry and grow up so I could be with you. It was a strange feeling, because I'd known you since you were just a little girl. As you can probably imagine, it was a bit of a shock to me when I discovered I had more than just a brotherly interest in you."

Her eyes widened in astonishment for a moment, then smiled up at him. "I see. So that's why you always stared at me. I'd always wondered if you thought I was some sort of freak or something, or if I'd had done something wrong. It took me a long time to get used to living in such a fancy house. I felt as though I had to be perfect, so as to not make any mistakes." She grimaced.

He laughed at her expression. "My poor darling! I never realized that you'd felt like that. If I had, I would have done my best to make you feel more comfortable. Alas, I was completely caught up in myself and my desires." He reached up and slid his fingertip across her cheek. "I was a selfish bastard for a long time, Kagome, even after your mother died. You had to knock on death's door in order for me to see what was most important in life."

Kagome pressed her fingers to his lips and shook her head. "Shh. Let's not talk about that, okay? It hurts me to see you talk about it. You always look so sad and I feel to blame for making you feel that way."

"You weren't to blame," he told her firmly. He smiled at her and moved his hand down to her belly. "You have no idea how happy I am right now. I can't wait to be a daddy to this little one." He paused and moved on top of her. "Kagome?"

"Yes, Sesshoumaru?"

"Is it okay if we have sex? I mean, I don't want to hurt you, but right now, I'm feeling very..." He lowered his head and lightly bit her lower lip. "Very turned on."

With a laugh, Kagome gripped her husband's head and gave him a deep, passionate kiss. "I think I would be very disappointed if you didn't have your way with me. Yes, darling, it's safe."

"That's all I need to hear," Sesshoumaru said with a big grin and proceeded to undress his wife...

"I can't believe you actually allowed Souta and me to tag along on," Inuyasha said from his reclining beach chair, snapping Sesshoumaru out of his happy reverie. His little brother lay stretched out on his abdomen, draped over the chair like a big, lazy cat. His arms hung over the edges with his hands half-buried in the soft sand. "Man, this sun feels awesome."

Turning his head, Sesshoumaru glared at his brother through his sunglasses. "Just so you know, I didn't want you and Souta to tag along. It was Kagome's wish that we all take a vacation together. If it had been up to me, you both would be fending for yourselves back home... and completely at the mercy of Jaken."

"Oh." Inuyasha flipped over on his back and grinned up at the sky. "Then I'll have to thank Kagome for her kindness." He shifted his sunglasses more comfortably on his nose.

"If you plan on doing that, then you will thank her in front of me and keep your hands to yourself if you please."

"Sess, I'm wounded. What kind of person do you think I am?" Inuyasha grinned, the bright sunshine reflecting off of his white teeth.

"Do I need to answer that?"

"Keh."

"By the way," Sesshoumaru asked, reaching for the bottle of sunblock that lay beside his chair. "When do you plan on finding a woman and getting married?" He poured a healthy amount of the lotion onto his palm and began rubbing it all over his arms and chest.

"Are you trying to get rid of me, aniue?"

"Do I need to answer that?"

Inuyasha chuckled. "Well, I do have a woman in mind, but I can't marry her until you divorce her."

When he finished using the sunblock, Sesshoumaru chucked the bottle at Inuyasha's bare stomach, causing a small "oof!" to erupt from his younger sibling.

Picking up the sunblock, Inuyasha set down on the sand beside his chair. "Well, it's either that, or I just wait until you die. Either way, you'll be out of the way and she'll be free."

"You're disgusting, Inuyasha. Find your own woman and leave mine in peace."

Heaving a sigh, Inuyasha sat up and threw his legs over the side of the chair so that he faced his brother. "You don't plan on getting her pregnant, do you? Because that would really suck for me. Try not to ruin my plans, okay?"

"Whatever, Inu. We want to start decorating the nursery soon."

"It certainly sounded as though you were really trying to get her knocked up last night," groaned Inuyasha, flopping back down on his chair. "I don't know about Souta, but you two kept me up for most of the night. I didn't know she could scream like that. At one point, I thought about calling the cops, 'cuz it sounded like you were murdering her. Damn it, she turns me on," he finished with a groan.

Sesshoumaru just had to laugh at his brother's expression. Inuyasha looked disgusted and yet so jealous that he wasn't able to speak for a few minutes. "Don't laugh at me, baka," the younger man snapped peevishly. "It was a horrible thing to be subjected to."

"Then you shouldn't be eavesdropping," Sesshoumaru pointed out placidly.

"It wasn't as if I could help it! Your bedroom is right next to mine! You probably assigned me that room on purpose to rub it in, you sick bastard!" Inuyasha snapped. "Why don't you keep it down next time?"

"As if. Go to a hotel if you don't like it."

"What?! And leave her at your mercy? Not a chance, pal."

The elder Morikawa only sighed and lay back against his chair. Inuyasha, he thought with a great deal of smug satisfaction, would be really upset when he learned that Kagome was pregnant.

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

After their little sprint over the sand and subsequent dip in the ocean, Kagome and Souta swam back to the beach and they were now sitting on the sand side by side, looking out over the brilliant, crystal clear waters of the Caribbean Ocean.

"Kagome?"

"Yes, Souta?"

"You aren't going to tell Sesshoumaru about the letters Yuki's been sending you, are you?"

Kagome shook her head and stared vacantly out over the clear blue water. "I don't want him to worry about me. He's got enough on his mind right now without me adding more problems. Besides, I made him worry enough last year. I should let him be, I think." She smiled sadly to herself.

"But Yuki... and those letters. He threatened you, Kagome." Souta hung his head, but his eyes glared down at the sand between his long, bare legs. "He's too obsessed with you. I don't like it."

Taking her brother's hand in hers, Kagome pulled him close to her so that their arms were touching. "I'll be fine, Souta, so please don't worry. He won't do anything to harm me." She lay back against him, her head resting on his chest.

Propping his head on the top of his sister's head, Souta closed his eyes. "And how do you think he'll react once he finds out that you're pregnant? He was furious enough when he learned of your marriage to Sesshoumaru. Akira told me that when he found out, he snapped and nearly attacked Hiro. He said that he recommended Yuki be put on some medications for awhile, possibly even sent for a short stay at a psychiatric hospital." He lifted his head and turned back to look at Kouga, who was standing nearby and appearing to glance casually around. He turned his back on them and they could see the outline of his gun underneath the back of his shirt, just above the waistband of his khakis. "It was serious enough to keep Kouga by your side, aneue. I've never seen him look so grim before."

Kagome nodded in agreement. Ever since Akira had told them of Yuki's mental state, Kouga morphed into a ferociously aggressive protector who made sure he had a hand in everything she did. Once, when a box of expensive chocolates arrived for her with no name from the sender, Kouga snatched it away and had it thoroughly examined. He'd even tasted a few of the chocolates first, just to be certain they contained no poison.

Sesshoumaru had been worried for Kouga at first, but relented when Kouga asked if he could be Kagome's personal bodyguard. He figured that it was Kouga's way of being near Kagome as much as he wanted, which was why he didn't question his motives.

"He's going to take you away, aneue," Souta said firmly. "I just know he's plotting something. Tell Sesshoumaru about what he's doing, please? If you don't, then I will. Or if not Sesshoumaru, then tell Kouga."

Kouga's head whipped around at the mention of his name. "Yes?" he called out, walking over towards brother and sister.

Souta and Kagome jumped and turned around. "Oh, Kouga! Sorry! We were just..." Kagome trailed off, her eyes sliding guiltily away.

"You were just...?" prompted Kouga suspiciously, one jet-black eyebrow sliding upwards over the rim of his sunglasses.

"Talking of old times," Souta added quickly, giving their watchdog an innocent smile. "You know? When Kagome had you and Sesshoumaru and Yuki all after her? That was a really crazy time. Remember when Kagome ran away and nobody knew for nearly a week? Oh man, I thought aniue was going to have a heart attack!" He burst into laughter.

After watching Souta intently with a fierce countenance, Kouga's face softened and he smiled back at the young man. "Yeah, I remember. I was gone then, but by the time Sess found out, I'd come back into town. I'd never seen him so upset before." His smile faltered and pushing his sunglasses up to the top of his head, he went over to Kagome and knelt down beside her. "Sweetheart, you look... different. Are you okay?" He wanted to take her hands in his but he could sense Sesshoumaru's eyes on him, so he didn't dare.

Kagome nodded and took a hold of his hands, smiling up at him. "I'm fine, Kouga, although I suppose I should tell you that you're about to have an increase in your workload."

"What do you mean?"

A charming flush spread over Kagome's cheeks. "I'm pregnant."

Those bright blue eyes were all at once filled with surprise, then sadness. "Oh, I see." His lips struggled to curve upwards, but they managed it somehow. "Congratulations, Kagome. I'm... happy for you."

His anguish flooded her senses and her eyes filled with tears. "Are you really?" she whispered, touching his face.

Pulling his sunglasses back down onto his nose, Kouga's face hardened, but his gaze was directed behind her to Sesshoumaru. "For you, yes. But I'm afraid I don't feel the same for him. Please excuse me." He got up stiffly and walked away, leaving Souta to comfort his sister.

"Don't blame him, Kagome," Souta said, holding her to him. "He's still in love with you."

"I know. I don't blame him. I just wish... that everyone had ended up as happy as Sess and me."

oooo

Later, as the sun was about to sink below the horizon, they all went to dinner at a restaurant on the beach. Inuyasha was still in a hopeful, positive mood and casting longing glances at the object of his affections; Kouga was in a dark mood, but lightened up whenever Kagome sent a gentle, comforting smile his way. Sesshoumaru was secretly gloating over his impending fatherhood, while making certain the mother of his child was eating enough. Souta sat back and watched the whole thing in silence.

Ever since the sun had begun to set earlier that afternoon, he'd had a feeling of doom that he just couldn't shake. He wondered if Kagome could feel it too, and now, taking a look at his sister, he knew instantly that she could. Her face, though smiling, held a hint of unease, as did her eyes.

Sensing her brother's gaze on her, Kagome looked across the table at him and she knew that Souta was feeling as discomfited as she did.

"Excuse me," she announced, rising, "but I need to go to the bathroom. I'll be back."

"Are you okay?" Sesshoumaru asked as he and the others rose to their feet.

"You bet, honey! I'll be right back." She bestowed a smile on everyone and left the table.

"You know what? I really need to go too," Souta said, jumping to his feet before the others could say a word. "Excuse me."

He followed behind Kagome in the direction of the bathrooms, but they did not go in. Instead, they both cast a nervous glance over their shoulders and snuck out to the outdoor dining area and from there, they headed towards beach.

"You've felt it, too, haven't you?" Kagome asked breathlessly when they were well away from the restaurant.

"Yes. I've felt it for the past few hours now." Souta grabbed hold of Kagome's arm and forced her to face him. "It's him, Kagome. I know it is."

Wrapping her arms around herself, Kagome shook her head. "We don't know that for certain."

"Well, I do!"

Kagome looked up, startled. Souta had never shouted at her before.

It appeared that Souta, too, was startled, for he shot her a guilty look, then covered his face with his hands. "I'm sorry, aneue! It's just that I'm scared for you. I'm scared of what he'll do to you." Dropping his hands, he turned to her. "Like I said before, if you won't tell Sesshoumaru, then at least tell Kouga. He'll take care of it."

"Who'll take care of what?"

The siblings whirled around to find Yuki, sans cane, striding confidently towards them. Souta, fearful of the look on the man's face, pulled Kagome back behind him. "Stay away from my sister," he said warningly.

Yuki sneered at Souta and shoved him out of the way. "Oh, please, as if you could stop me." Turning to Kagome, he smiled gently and reached for her. "Darling," he said lovingly, as though admonishing a naughty child, "I've missed you."

But Kagome backed away from him, keeping herself out of his grasp. "Hello, Yuki. How... nice to see you again."

He caught her easily in his arms and kissed her. "Oh, my sweet little angel! I've been looking everywhere for you. You are a very slippery young woman, you know that?" He kissed her again, sweeping her up into his arms. "I hope you've noticed that I don't use my cane anymore. I've been doing alot of exercising lately to build up the strength in my leg. I did it all for you, darling, because when I'm standing at the altar, waiting for you to come down the aisle, I won't have to use a cane to hold myself upright."

Kagome's eyes darted to Souta, who looked as though he was about ready to tackle Yuki to the ground. "But... Yuki, I'm... already married." In the near dark, Yuki's face no longer looked cheerful. It looked like a terrifying mask of insanity to Kagome and she was suddenly very afraid of what he would say and do. "Please understand."

"Understand what?" The mask hardened and Yuki's arms had begun to squeeze her. "Understand that you married another man? Understand that you want to spend the rest of your life with him and not me? Understand that you're now expecting his child?"

"How did you find that out?" Souta demanded angrily, but his face was full of worry for his sister, who was trying with all her might to push herself away from Yuki.

"Quite simple, little boy. I have my ways, none of which I plan on sharing with you. So, come Kagome! We have an appointment." He began walking away from the restaurant and Souta, carrying the squirming Kagome.

When she opened her mouth to scream, he silenced her with a look. "Don't you dare. I don't want to have to render you unconscious, my love. That would kill me."

"Where are you taking me?" she asked, her body trembling with fear. She began to cry, her mind calling out to Sesshoumaru to help her.

Yuki grinned. "To get rid of this thing you are carrying. I can't have you giving birth to Morikawa's offspring, now can I?"

That was when Kagome began to scream. She kicked and flailed at him, and all the while, Yuki was laughing at her ineffectual attempts to get away. While she fought him, Kagome wondered why nobody was coming to her aid. Couldn't anybody see that she was being kidnapped?

By the time they reached Yuki's car, Yuki had ceased laughing. "Be quiet and stop struggling! No one will help you, so just accept the fact that you're coming with me." When she did not comply, he growled and setting her down on her feet, he used his body to pin her body against his car with his own. Deftly, he reached into his trouser pocket and pulled out a pair of gloves, then dipping into the pocket again, he drew out a small plastic bag containing a rag. Opening the bag, he extracted the rag and held it to her face. "Fine, be stubborn! But you can't win, my love." As her eyes began to flutter closed, the smile returned to Yuki's lips. "There we go. Just go to sleep and when you wake up, we'll be far away from here."

Her body relaxed and her head lolled against his shoulder. Kissing her head, Yuki opened the car door and lay her gently inside. With a smile, he buckled her to the seat and stepped back, shutting the door and removing his gloves.

There was a click and something hard and cold was pressed against the back of his head. With a sigh, Yuki grinned. "Hello again, Kouga. I knew you'd find me eventually, you clever old wolf." He turned around slowly and found himself on the business end of Kouga's glock. "Playing watchdog to the wife of another man, I see. Pathetic. Why satisfy yourself with merely watching her when you could so easily take her as your own?" he asked, his voice low and suggestive. He narrowed his eyes, his gaze intent on his captor's face.

Though his face remained impassive, on the inside, Kouga felt nothing but revulsion for his former employer. "Shut your mouth, Yuki," he hissed, barely able to keep a firm grip on his control of his trigger finger. He knew what Yuki would say next, for it had filled his mind the days following Kagome's announcement at the party that she would marry Sesshoumaru. How easy it would have been for him to kidnap her and run off, but effectively hiding her from Sesshoumaru's eagle eyes would have been another matter. The man had eyes everywhere and if he'd had the misfortune to get caught, their friendship would not save him from the consequences.

"Isn't it difficult to stand by watching her, and never being able to touch her, Kouga? Sort of like forbidden fruit, eh? It's the sweetest." Yuki went on in a hushed, soothing voice. He very nearly smiled. Kouga's hand had begun to shake, betraying his emotions. "Don't you want to touch her? Hmm? Kiss her? Make love to her? I know you do; I can see it in your eyes. You still want her, so why don't you give in to what you truly want?"

"Because Kouga would never do anything to upset Kagome."

Yuki's body stiffened and he looked behind Kouga to find Sesshoumaru coming towards him. Morikawa looked exactly like he had the first time Yuki had laid eyes on him: tall, imposing, and confident in the knowledge that he was completely in control of the situation. Beside him stood Inuyasha, looking far less in control than his brother and ready to rumble if the need arose. "Well, well, if it isn't Sesshoumaru and his baby brother! I trust you both are well?" He gave them a mocking bow.

Sesshoumaru's face was an emotionless mask. "Did you think that I wouldn't know about those filthy letters you've been sending my wife, Yamadera? Did you think I could be kept unawares of your pitiful attempts to steal Kagome from me?" Raising his arm, he snapped his fingers. Ginta and Hakkaku appeared out of nowhere, guns aimed straight at Yuki's head. "I've known about them from the beginning. There's nothing that concerns my wife that I'm not aware of."

The blond man's grin began to fade. "So... you don't allow her to have a private life, Morikawa. Isn't that a bit too controlling? I thought you loved her." He took a step back and ended up against the car door. "I'm going to take her away from all that and you, so if you'll just excuse me..."

Sesshoumaru nodded at Kouga, who moved closer to Yuki, his gun still trained at the man's head. "Don't get me wrong, Yamadera. I worship my wife and she knows absolutely that she is the love of my life. Kagome doesn't mind my need to be in control of everything around me because that's just who I am; that's who I was raised to be. The only reason Kagome would feel the need to hide anything from me, is because it was something that she felt would upset me." He slid his hands into his front trouser pockets. "She loves me. She loves you too, but it was me she chose. There's no need to take your bitterness and anger out on her. So if you don't mind, please move away from the car so that we can retrieve her."

"Nope, that's just not gonna happen," Yuki muttered, shaking his head. "I'm not letting her go."

A heavy sigh came from Sesshoumaru. "Guys, if you would."

Snicking sounds of the Kawase brothers' guns caught Yuki's attention and in doing so, allowed Kouga to body slam him into the side of his car before throwing him onto the ground and pinning his arms behind his back. The cold steel of handcuffs were swiftly applied to his wrists. Hakkaku grabbed his legs and held them down. Yuki yelled at the two men to get off of him, but he was completely ignored. From behind him, he could hear Ginta open the car door and ask Kagome if she could hear him.

"No! She's mine! Damn it, Ginta! Leave her alone, you asshole!" he yelled as he struggled against his captors.

"Ginta, take her to my car, please." Sesshoumaru moved forward so that Yuki got a good, close look at his expensive leather shoes. "As for you, Yamadera, I'll be sending you back to Japan, where your cousin will be waiting for you at the airport to escort you to a psychiatric hospital. Don't worry; it won't be that bad. You'll have a private room and the best care possible. I'll even foot the bill."

Yuki squirmed mightily beneath his captors. "What the hell are you saying? That I'm crazy?"

"Well, in a word, yes."

"Fuck you, Morikawa."

Kouga's hands gripped Yuki's arms tighter. "Shut up, Yuki."

When Sesshoumaru spoke again, this time his polite, casual tone was gone. Yuki was hauled up onto his knees so he could face the silver-haired man. "No, the one who'll be getting fucked around here will be you if you don't do as I say," he said in the softest, most menacing voice Yuki had ever heard. He dropped down on his haunches to eye Yuki squarely and Yuki felt a tremor of fear shoot through him. Shit, it was Sesshoumaru's infamous killing stare...

This was the ruthless side of Morikawa Sesshoumaru he'd heard of in his business circles; the one that made a crooked man go straight and a straight man go-- Wait, what?

"Are you paying attention to me, Yamadera?" snapped the steel-like voice, bringing Yuki's attention immediately back on him.

Gathering his courage, Yuki did his best to remain defiant. He wasn't gonna be anybody's little wimpy ass bitch, especially not Sesshoumaru's. "I don't have to do a goddamn thing, you fuckin' prick. You don't fuckin' own me."

Sesshoumaru studied him silently for a moment, straighted, grabbed his phone from his pocket, and dialed a number. After another moment, he began speaking to someone on the other line in a low voice. Then he turned around and returned to his squatting position in front of Yuki.

Pulling the phone down from his ear, he gave Yuki a frosty smile. "I don't own you, huh? Well, give me about a day and we'll see about that."

"What do mean?" This did not bode well, Yuki thought, inwardly cringing.

Fiddling with his phone, Morikawa's smile grew even more sinister. "I've just begun proceedings for a take over... of your company, Yamadera. Nothing and no one will stop this, unless you agree to get help and stay away from my wife and family."

"I'm not crazy!" Yuki roared, feeling his heart beat wildly in chest. Stay away from Kagome? Was he serious? There was no way he'd stay away from her... he just couldn't comply with that!

Intense golden eyes shot to his face with such a furious glare that Yuki could practically feel the heat. "Not... crazy? I've read every single letter you sent to Kagome, Yamadera. Not one of those left me with the impression that you're in your right mind."

"Shows what you know, you control freak. Why don't you let Kagome be with a man who doesn't control every breath she takes? I can treat her far better than you, Morikawa. I can love her more than you can."

"Sesshoumaru!" Kouga's eyes went to Morikawa's face, worried of what the man might do.

Morikawa's face tightened. "You nearly killed her, you goddamn bastard! You don't even deserve her contempt." Composing himself, he asked, "What will it be, Yamadera? Keep all that you've worked for, get help and stay far away from my woman and brothers, or allow me to strip you of everything you own? What's it gonna be?"

Yuki, seeing a life without Kagome stretching bleakly before him, spat in Sesshoumaru's face. "Fuck you. If you think you can threaten me, then you're sadly mistaken."

He said no more, however, as the butt of Kouga's gun made contact with the back of his head. Yuki slumped forward with a groan, falling on his face down on the ground.

Kouga straightened, his hands shaking. He looked up at Sesshoumaru, who was calmly wiping his face with a silk handkerchief. "Sorry, boss man."

Sesshoumaru shook his head, rising to his full height. "It's fine, Kouga. He was beginning to push my buttons, as well. I'm glad you did what I wanted to do, although I'm afraid that had it been up to me, I would have killed him outright."

"I wanted to. Damn, I wanted to," muttered Kouga dismally, eyeing the unconscious figure on the ground.

"Well, it's over now," put in Inuyasha, who came forward to help Hakkaku lift Yuki up. "We'll never have to see him again."

They tossed him in the back seat of Kouga's rental car and with Ginta driving, him, Kouga, Hakkaku and Inuyasha drove away to the airport where the Kawase brothers would escort Yuki back to Japan under lock and key.

Going to his car, Sesshoumaru got in and shut the door, but his eyes were only for his wife, who lay, still unconscious where Ginta had left her in the passenger seat.

"Sesshoumaru?"

Sesshoumaru turned to see Souta sitting in the back, legs pulled up to his chest. "Yeah, big guy?"

"Will we ever see him again?"

"No," Sesshoumaru reassured the young man. "I promise you we'll never see him again. Thank you for coming back to get us, Souta. It would have ended even worse for Yuki if we hadn't caught him when we did."

"Okay. You're welcome, Sess."

For a long time Sesshoumaru sat there, listening to his wife and brother sleeping, with Kagome's limp hand clasped in his. He had wanted to strike that fool in the face for refusing to stay away from Kagome. No, he'd wanted to fucking kill him. He wanted to take his fist and plow it into that pretty face and watch blood come spurting out of that perfect nose.

As he started his car's engine, he tried very hard to keep his temper at bay. His wife was safe and that was all that mattered.

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Epilogue

"Push, Kagome!"

Kagome's screams rang out and Sesshoumaru winced as her grip tightened on his hand. He didn't mind, however. His beautiful, sweat-soaked wife was giving birth to his child, the heir to the Morikawa name and fortune. Soon, very soon, he would hold his son in his arms.

Kagome screamed again, her body nearly shooting off of the bed in her agony. Sesshoumaru held her tightly, trying to keep her still. She had gone into labor a few days earlier than expected. After having a light supper with her husband and brothers, she went upstairs to her bedroom to take a shower and go to bed early, when her water broke in the hallway just outside her door. She had cried out, pitching forward on her knees to the floor.

Below, still in the dining room, Sesshoumaru, Inuyasha and Souta heard Kagome cry out and all three dashed out and up the stairs. With his heart in his throat, Sesshoumaru called for Jaken to call an ambulance, but by sheer luck, Akira arrived at that moment to do his daily check-up on Kagome. Sesshoumaru carried her into their bedroom where Akira began preparations for the impending birth.

"Hold her still, Sesshoumaru! The baby's almost out!" Akira cried, his face covered in sweat.

Sesshoumaru did as best he could, whispering words of encouragement in her ear, all the while his gaze was fixed on Akira's arms with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows. For a split second, he wanted to tell Akira to keep his hands away from his wife's nether regions, but he had to remind himself that it was necessary, so he held his tongue.

"Push, Kagome!" commanded Akira, his green eyes intense. "Push!"

"I'm trying!" she shrieked, eyes squeezed shut against the pain.

Sesshoumaru didn't think he could take hearing her screams of anguish anymore. It was far too much for him. He couldn't bear listening to his wife be in such pain. Why couldn't he take the pain for her? If only he could!

"You're almost there, Kagome! One more push, baby! Come on!"

Another scream as she pushed hard back against her husband's body. Sesshoumaru held her tightly, and near tears himself, he was suddenly assaulted by another sound. A different sound.

The sound of an infant crying.

His head came up in time to see a small, slimy, grey thing emerge from between his wife's thighs and his eyes flew open. His son!

Akira quickly grabbed the infant and held it to him, his face turning up to Sesshoumaru's. Jaken, who had been standing nearby, held out a pair of scissors to Sesshoumaru. "Cut the cord, Sesshoumaru," Akira told him with a grin. "You've got a beautiful baby girl."

"What? A... girl? I have a girl?" Dazedly, he accepted the scissors and cut the cord binding his daughter to Kagome. "But... I thought..."

The doctor busied himself with examining the tiny, screaming girl. "Ultrasounds aren't foolproof, Sesshoumaru. Sometimes infants cleverly hide their sex organs with a stray leg or foot. It happens." He handed the baby to Kagome so he could check on her. "Kagome? How are you feeling?" he asked, removing the afterbirth and cleaning her up as best he could.

Kagome, still laying back against her husband, shook her head slowly. "Like a herd of rogue buffalo has just had a stampede all over my body." Her eyes, however, were fixed upon the infant in her arms. "She's so beautiful," she breathed, her lips curving into a watery smile. "Sesshoumaru, isn't she beautiful?"

Her husband kissed the top of his wife's head, closing his eyes for a brief moment. He had been so terrified seeing Kagome lying on the ground earlier, clutching her swollen belly and groaning in pain. The first thought that had crossed his mind was, 'Is she dying?' He'd never dealt with childbirth before and seeing it happen right before his eyes was an unforgettable experience, but seeing his own child being born... that was something else all together. It was extra special to him.

"She's perfect," he told her, his arms tightening around her. "Just like her mother."

His wife laughed and immediately yawned. Sesshoumaru smiled. His number one girl was exhausted. "Sleep, my love," he whispered. "Your work is over. Let me take care of you." He shifted her up on the bed to lay beside him. His arms wrapped around her once more, feeling her body beginning to go limp.

Kagome's arms trembled slightly and she nodded wearily, handing the child over to Akira, who immediately took her away to get her cleaned up. Jaken accompanied him to the bathroom.

Inuyasha and Souta, both white-faced and nervous-looking, peeked around the bedroom door. "Kagome?" Souta called out softly.

Putting a finger to his lips, Sesshoumaru waved them both in. They crept in when they noticed that Kagome was fast asleep in Sesshoumaru's arms.

"Where's my niece?" whispered Souta, casting a glance at the bathroom.

"What? How did you know that?" Sesshoumaru demanded, his head shooting up off the pillow.

Souta only gave him a sly, knowing look before turning to see Akira and Jaken emerge from the bathroom. Kagome's little brother went over to them and took the baby from Akira. He smiled down at the tiny girl and made soft, cooing sounds at her.

Inuyasha went over to where Souta, the doctor and the butler stood gazing in wonder at the latest addition to the Morikawa clan. He no longer despised Sesshoumaru for getting Kagome pregnant, although he still admitted to being jealous of his big brother. But at that moment, all his pettiness vanished, leaving behind an uncle smitten by his infant niece.

Several minutes had passed before Akira took the baby away from her uncles, who had began to argue about just whom would get to hold her next and lay her down between her parents. Kagome hadn't stirred an inch, while Sesshoumaru contented himself with watching her sleep.

"You're not going to fall asleep are you?" Akira asked, wondering if he should take the baby until her mother woke up.

Sesshoumaru shook his head. "No, I'm wide awake. I'd like sometime alone with my wife and child, if you guys don't mind," he requested, his gaze dropping down to his swaddled daughter, who let loose a mighty yawn.

"Certainly," the doctor agreed with a smile. "Call me if you need me." He turned and left the room, the others

reluctantly at his heels.

After the door closed, Sesshoumaru looked down at the bed and found a pair of bright, honey-colored eyes staring with fascination up at him. Bringing his hand up, he touched the tip of his daughter's nose. "Hey you," he whispered, allowing her miniscule hand to reach up out of her blanket to grab his finger. Her hand was so small, her fingers couldn't wrap around his index finger.

He grinned suddenly and leaned down to kiss her forehead. She smelt delightful, exactly the way a baby should smell, and his insides did an odd, happy little flip. He thought only Kagome could make him feel all weird inside... but then, he'd never been a father before.

His eyes strayed up to her head and lifting up her skullcap, he saw whisps of silvery-white hair. How strange it was, seeing his face and features on another person besides his brother. He wondered if he'd ever get used to it.

A soft, contented gurgling bubbled up from his little girl and he chuckled. He supposed they should start thinking of a name for her soon. It had been a shock to discover that his highly anticipated son had turned out being a girl; he'd even had a name picked out and everything. A few months earlier, he would have had the nursery done in shades of blue, but Kagome had nixed that idea. She kept telling him not to be too hasty, but Sesshoumaru had only teased her, telling her that ultrasound hadn't lied, that their child was a boy. But she remained firm that the ultrasound had been mistaken and in the interest of peace, Sesshoumaru allowed her to decorate the nursery in soft hues of blue, green, pink and purple.

Sesshoumaru sighed as his little girl popped the tip of his finger into her mouth. "You're going to be a stubborn one, aren't you?" he asked her, watching her suck contentedly on his fingertip. "You've done something very few people have ever done. You, short stuff, have managed to fool me. I think I might have trouble with you later on."

Her eyes began to flutter closed and soon, she was fast asleep. As for her mother, Kagome continued to sleep peacefully and deeply while her husband alternated his attention from her to their daughter and back again. His world, his entire world, lay in the circle of his arms, he thought, his eyes misting.

He thought about how things could have happened; how they could have ended. But they hadn't ended another way and she hadn't ended up with another man. Kagome was his, the way she should have been from the very beginning. The way she had always been.

Despite all that had happened, Kagome had ended up with him, completing his life, and given him a beautiful daughter to boot. What a long, exhausting struggle it had been

Sesshoumaru smiled again. The two females that lay in his arms had been worth every ounce of pain life had thrown at him.

And he wouldn't have had it any other way.

The End.

oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

A/N: Okay then! That's it! I hope this ending was satisfying. If it wasn't, I do apologize, but my steam on this fic has finally run out. I loved writing it, but it was time for it to be over.

Thanks to everyone who read it and a double thanks to everyone who took the time to send me a review. You guys are all so awesome!

Peace!

Raven Skye Blackhawk