"No, Inuyasha, I will not and you have no right to ask me to free you from your promise. You will leave with me, once Naraku is dead." With that Kikyou left him, kissing him coldly on the lips. How easily he could tell the difference between the lips of the two girls now, his past and present loves. No, he corrected himself, the real Kikyou had not been cold and although he had no experience of them, surely the kisses of the living girl would have been warm, not like those of her clay copy.

Lost in thought, Inuyasha sank to his knees, he would not succumb to the creeping despair he felt yet; the battle with Naraku was imminent. His own future was secure, death in one way or another was his lot, and he finally realised with utter certainty that his Kikyou of fifty years past was truly gone. She had just been a young innocent girl burdened with responsibilities far too great for her. Inuyasha smiled sadly as he remembered Kikyou and the modest and chaste love given to him, a filthy little hanyou. But he knew now, as he had not been willing to admit before, his love and hers had been born of loneliness and was superficial, unlike the true love he and Kagome shared.

Kagome had always treated him as an equal with as much right to live as anyone else, and not as the sub-standard life form most in his time treated hanyou. She had seen all of his personalities and combined them into one, accepting him as he was. Then remarkably she had fallen in love with him and despite his sometimes unstable blood, she was not afraid of him and his lethal abilities. It never ceased to amaze him that they could argue, literally face to face and all he could see in those stormy eyes would be anger, sadness, fun and love, but never hate, disgust or fear.

She would answer his persistent rudeness with the only weapons she had against him, the subjugation spell or her tears. Inuyasha hated the rosary but he hated her tears more, and the fact that most often he had caused them even unwittingly, was enough to make him feel awful guilt until she smiled again. However besides all of that, they had understanding of one another, a look or glance would be enough to convey a thought. Then most importantly they also had something else that was very precious to him especially; they had trust. It had been surprisingly easy for him to trust her; how, he did not know, as his trust was not given lightly. Inuyasha had been too often betrayed; although he was sensible of an even greater gift and that was her trust in him.

It would be so easy to kill her, creeping up on her from behind or when she slept; or he could shatter her by decimating her family, not that he ever would. Kagome was his friend and she had implicit trust in their friendship and that it was a two way thing; she had been warned about youkai and their bloodthirsty ways, but as a balanced girl, she was not prejudiced at all. Besides, as she often brought to the attention of those who spoke against their friendship, that there were many murderous humans as well, so she spoke and believed as she found and gave all a chance.

It was Kagome who treated him as normal and encouraged the others to do the same. His little group had all grown very close as they travelled together. Over the years they had all learned to rely on each other and he now had real friends; a precious, and before Kagome, an unknown gift. Now he was to lose it all because of a stupid misguided promise, but all he had to his name was his word and honour, and he would not go back on those. It meant therefore that he had to give up all of the good things that had come to him, purely because Kikyou would not let him go. Dropping his head to his knees he felt, once again, totally alone.

As Kikyou left Inuyasha and glided through the trees, the expression on her face never changed, the cold serene look was just the same as if she were a painted doll. There was no regret or remorse let alone pleasure that her love would be with her soon, she was without mercy. Kikyou had not gone very far when a deep and pleasant voice interrupted her thoughts;

"Does Inuyasha know that he will be left entirely on his own when he departs with you, has he realised that you cannot stay with him?" The question came from a being equally as serene as she, the Taiyoukai Sesshoumaru. Kikyou calmly turned to him, smirking a little.

"He does not; it has not crossed his mind that the rest of my soul will go to Kagome. Of course it cannot stay with Inuyasha with my copy already alive...but then he doesn't have the wit to recognise that."

"You now hate him enough, that you would commit this ultimate betrayal on him? You were to be his mate; have you no fond memory of him left to incite your pity?"

"My, you are very high and mighty Lord Sesshoumaru, you who could have been expected to make his life pleasant have betrayed him for all of that life, and I will his death. Inuyasha will hardly be surprised; he knows he is filth, an abomination that should not have been granted a life in the first place. I believe those are your own sentiments as well, are they not my Lord?"

"There is a great deal of difference between not having being born and suffering an eternity of loneliness. You must know that Inuyasha's ultimate fear is to be left alone?" Watching her beautiful but scornful face, even Sesshoumaru had to suppress a shudder at her cruel smile.

"Of course I know." Kikyou scoffed and then turned to walk away, effectively dismissing the great lord. But an angry Sesshoumaru appeared in front of her, Tenseiga drawn and pointed at her breast. Kikyou was very aware of the danger that that sword held for her and she stopped, however her gaze remained calm and met his own coolly.

"This Sesshoumaru is the only one entitled to take the life of the hanyou, my brother; his life is mine to claim and only I will decide when to do that. Should you make any further attempt to take him into death, know that I will stop you." Sesshoumaru's voice was smooth but icy, although Kikyou noticed that the cold, assessing amber gaze was now tinged with red around the edges and she took a step back.

"You can do nothing, his promise is given."

"I, as his Alpha and his older brother, am entitled to nullify any promise or vow that Inuyasha makes, and I do so now."

"He will not abide by your word Sesshoumaru; you have never given him reason to give you such allegiance."

"You prove that you do not know Inuyasha well Miko; one thing that is completely certain is that he will abide by inu-youkai laws, whether it pleases him or not. This Sesshoumaru invokes these laws in relation to my younger brother; it is my right and my duty to do this."

"He will hate you for your unwanted interference." Kikyou snapped angrily, her eyes flashing with a dark and despicable light. Lord Sesshoumaru's answering smile was just noticeable.

"Inuyasha hates me already; This Sesshoumaru is certain that I can survive any more hatred the hanyou can have for me." At these words of the youkai, Kikyou bowed her head and Sesshoumaru could not see the small smile of her own that she hid; but her reply, barely uttered, surprised him;

"Part of me is very glad to know that you are willing to do this and will try to save him from me." With that her Shinidamachuu circled around her and lifted her reverently, taking her away and she was lost to his sight and leaving him to ponder on what had transpired.