Disclaimer: Inu Yasha is the property of Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, and Viz Media. No profit is earned from this simple work of fan fiction.

C+C is welcome at hawker(underscore)748(at)hotmail(dot)com.

Full version of this story is posted at Mediaminer(dot)org

"X" Spoken words

'X' Thoughts

Inu Yasha:

Sanctuary

The Sendou Jikai was sometimes a collection of strange contradictions to Kagome Higurashi. While some people called it a simpler, easier time, when she was there, she spent a lot of time wishing she could bring more modern conveniences along with her, especially indoor plumbing. And while she and the rest of the 'Inu-tachi,' Inu Yasha, Sango, Miroku, and Shippo wouldn't have their rest time at Kaede's village disturbed by cars, loud noises, or cell phones, squabbles between the hanyou and the kitsune was just as effective at breaking the silence.

"You idiot!" Inu Yasha snarled, displaying his usual flair for debating, punctuating his rebuttal with a blow to the top of Shippo's head.

Shippo reacted normally, bawling his eyes out, but smiling on the inside, as he knew what would happen next.

"Sit boy!"

WHAM!

"What was that for?!" Inu Yasha shrieked indignantly, getting back to his feet and spitting out the blades of grass that had gotten into his mouth after Kagome had make him take yet another header.

"You were being mean to Shippo again," Kagome explained, acting as if it should be obvious.

With titanic effort, Inu Yasha bit back the retort that sprung to his lips. He'd had enough experience to realize that trying to defend himself would probably just get him sat again. Settling for merely glaring at Kagome, Inu Yasha wondered once again if he would ever understand his feelings for the girl from the time that had yet to come.

He knew that he was fiercely protective of her, and while he'd sputter denials about having romantic feelings for her, deep down, he cared for her and being with her was time that he treasured. On the other hand, they were constantly bickering with each other, and when he considered his ability to say absolutely the wrong thing at the wrong time, and her ability to 'sit' him at will, it was a wonder that they hadn't strangled each other by now…

"Why are we still here anyway?" Inu Yasha wondered out loud. "We should be going after more jewel fragments, and tracking down Naraku."

"Sango had a close call our last battle, she should rest for another day or so," Kagome reminded him. "That's what the healers said."

Inu Yasha looked over at the demon exterminator. "Looks well enough to me. And I'd say Miroku agrees…" Sango was dividing her attention between her Hiraikotsu and the monk sitting next to her. She'd scowl at Miroku from time to time, and he'd sheepishly smile back, a clear red outline of a handprint on his face, yet another stinging reminder that she didn't enjoy getting felt up by the perverted monk.

"Let her rest Inu Yasha, it'll be better for all of us that way."

"If we can't do anything, why are you still here?" Inu Yasha asked. "Why not go home and work on your exams?"

"It-it's not a good time at home," Kagome murmured quietly, before another thought occurred to her. "Hey… You trying to tell me to leave?"

"No, but you always whine about your exams, I figured you'd want to go back to get ready for them!"

"So why are you trying to get me to leave?" Kagome asked. 'Are you planning on seeing Kikyo again?' she added silently.

"Don't they ever get tired of that?" Miroku mused to Sango, as the two of them watched yet another argument. "Oofff!"

"Don't you ever get tired of THAT?" Sango replied without looking up, removing her elbow from Miroku's ribs, as his hands had been stealthily approaching her butt. "We both know where this is going…"

"Sit boy!"

WHAM!

"Yes.." Miroku remarked, nodding his head sagely, in spite of his aching ribs.

"That's it!" screeched Inu Yasha. "You don't want to go through the well and sulk? FINE! You stay here and sulk, and I'll go through the well. I'll visit Souta for a while."

"Wha-?" Kagome stammered. This was a first. "You shouldn't go through alone Inu Yasha, and Souta isn't there…" She found herself talking to empty air, as Inu Yasha had bolted towards the Bone Eater's Well, leaving her behind in a daze. "That idiot… SIT BOY!" she shouted, taking some satisfaction at the faint 'THUD!' and the slightly less faint cursing that followed. She debated following him, but she decided against it. In spite of her doubts, she knew that Inu Yasha wasn't likely to do anything stupid in the future. 'He'll just sulk in some tree, that's all…'

Since she was going to have some peace and quiet for a while, Kagome decided to work on the essay for her English class. She started rummaging through her book bag, grimacing as she considered her task. 'Tess of the D'Ubervilles…' Stupid book… Why couldn't it have been 'Anne of Green Gables?' I liked that one, but no-oooo, it had to be that paperback sleep aid…' Kagome allowed herself a thin smile as she took hold of what she'd been after. 'Least I won't have to write it out…'

Since Kagome's grades were perpetually on the verge of going on a nose dive, her time traveling doing nothing to help her scholastic efforts, even her history class, go figure, her grandfather had bought her something to try to help. The laptop was a rugged model, the manufacturer claimed it would stop a 9mm round, so Kagome hoped it could put up with the stresses she faced. She had a half dozen fully charged batteries, since she doubted she'd be able to plug it in anywhere. And five miles of extension cord would have been too heavy. Turning it on, she opened the word processor and began to type.

"What IS that Kagome?" Miroku breathed, staring in wide eyed wonder at the amazing device. "More magic?"

"It's a scroll from my time," she replied. In the Sendou Jikai, that's all it was really. It had a wireless internet connection, but it would be a few centuries before it would be of any use. 'Good thing too,' Kagome realized. 'If Miroku ever discovered internet porn…' The thought made Kagome shudder.

A sensation almost like flying, and then…

Arrival.

Inu Yasha leapt out of the well, and exited the building it was in. The future. Inu Yasha would never get used to how different things were here; horseless carts, large metal birds that carried people, story tellers and town criers in a box, people talking to each other through little trinkets… It was all mind boggling, and if he hadn't had Kagome to guide him when he'd first come here, he might have been driven mad.

Fortunately, the Higurashi Shrine and their ancestral home were here, and these were islands of safety, where Inu Yasha could more or less go without worry, since all there knew about him, and indeed, had opened their home to him on many occasions.

'Think I'll say 'hello' to Souta first,' he decided, jumping up to his window and sliding it open. "Hey Souta! It's Inu Yasha!" he called out, before he noticed that the room was empty. 'Maybe he's out somewhere…'

Entering Kagome's younger brother's room, closing the window behind him, Inu Yasha walked into the hallway. "Hello? Is anyone here?"

"Inu Yasha!" Kagome's mother yelped, placing a hand over her heart. "You-you scared me!"

"S-sorry," he replied, looking down at his feet.

"Where's Kagome?"

"I left her back… in…" Inu Yasha's reply died away when it dawned on him how it sounded to Kagome's mother. 'Not good…'

"You left her? Back there? ALONE?" Kagome's mother's voice was a combination of numb disbelief and barely repressed fury.

Her tone reminded Inu Yasha that of all the creatures in the world, none was to be feared more than a mother protecting her children. Looking Kagome's mother in the eyes, and flinching at the look she was giving him, he stammered, "She-she's not alone, she's with Miroku and Sango at Kaede's village! She's safe, really, I-I'd never have left her if I thought she was in danger, but I'll just go back now and make sure-"

"It's all right Inu Yasha, I believe you…" she replied, shaking her head slowly. "Had another fight?"

"…yeah…"

"You can stay then… Why didn't she come back?"

"She-she didn't say…"

"I guess she didn't want to tell you," Mrs. Higurashi replied, more to herself than to Inu Yasha.

"I'm sorry?"

"Never mind Inu Yasha…" Kagome's mom replied. "Never mind."

"Where's Souta? And grandpa?"

"Souta's sleeping over with a friend tonight," Mrs. Higurashi told him. "And father… father's visiting with some old friends of his from the war. He'll be gone for a week."

"You're alone?"

"Yes. Don't worry," she assured him. "I'll be fine. You could say I've gotten used to it by now, what with Kagome going off for days at a time…"

"I see…" Inu Yasha wasn't sure, but he thought that Kogome's mom sounded almost… wistful.

"Are you hungry?"

"Hmmm?"

"Are you hungry Inu Yasha? I was just going to make dinner…"

At the mention of food, Inu Yasha's stomach growled audibly, embarrassing him. "I-I guess I am… But you shouldn't take the trouble-"

"It's all right, there would have been too much for me to eat alone anyway. I insist."

"If it's not a bother-"

"It won't be."

"Okay then… Thank you Mrs. Higurashi…"

"Sakiko."

"Excuse me?"

"Call me Sakiko," she told him. "Mrs. Higurashi makes me sound ancient…"

"Kaede's ancient, you're not… Sakiko…" Inu Yasha found it a little odd to call Kagome's mother by her given name.

"Thank you Inu Yasha, you're like family now," Sakiko explained. "Family doesn't have to be formal." She lead him to the kitchen, and Inu Yasha noticed that the table was set with two place settings. He was about to take a seat when Sakiko saw what he was doing and gasped. "STOP!"

Inu Yasha froze. "What? What is it, what's wrong?" he looked around, wondering if one of his enemies had somehow followed him through the well.

Sakiko let out a heavy sigh. "I'm sorry Inu Yasha, that's my husband's chair…"

"Your husband? But I thought he-" Inu Yasha slapped both of his hands over his mouth to keep from finishing the rest of the thought aloud. 'I thought he was dead…'

Sakiko finished his thought for him. "You thought he was dead?" Inu Yasha could only nod shamefully. "He is, he's been gone over five years. It's just… Tonight would have been our anniversary. We always had dinner at home for that, he said he wanted to spend the time with only me, and not share me with the rest of the world."

"I see…"

"Since he died, I've always eaten alone on this day, but I've never been able to use only one setting…"

"Do-do you want me to leave?" Inu Yasha asked quietly.

Sakiko shook her head. "You don't have to, everyone says I shouldn't be alone on this day, and I suppose now's a good time to start. Go ahead and sit down, and I'll make dinner."

Almost solemnly, Inu Yasha slowly took his seat, not being able to completely shake the feeling that he was intruding. Not trusting himself to speak, he settled on watching Sakiko prepare the meal. He did offer to help a few times, but she waved him off, reminding him that this wasn't like cooking over a fire.

Soon, the aroma of delicious food filled the kitchen, and Inu Yasha felt his mouth start to water in anticipation. With a smile and a flourish, Sakiko set a plate before him. "Here you go. Broiled steak, with baked potato, and a Caesar salad."

Inu Yasha blinked. "What is this?"

"It's foreign food," Sakiko explained. Her smile faltered a little. "It was also Yosho's favorite meal."

"It looks good," Inu Yasha reassured her. "I've just never seen it before…"

"Neither had I," Sakiko admitted. "You wouldn't believe how long it took me to find a good Caesar dressing recipe." She went to a cupboard and took out a bottle of red liquid. "Would you like a drink?"

"What is it?"

"Red wine."

"Is it like sake?"

Sakiko considered that for a moment. "A little. It's made with fruit, not rice."

"I'll try it." Inu Yasha waited for Sakiko to fill a glass with a long stem, accepting it with a thanks and sniffing it before taking a tentative sip. "It's good…"

The two of them ate in silence, Inu Yasha enjoying the meal, but not knowing whether or not he should say anything. Eventually the quiet was too much for the hanyou to take, so he asked what he hoped would be an innocent question. "Your husband liked this?"

"Yes."

"So do I," he told her. "It's good."

Sakiko smiled faintly. "Glad you liked it."

"Really, it's great."

"Thank you…"

"He musta been a great guy," Inu Yasha remarked.

"Why do you say that?"

'Why did I say that?' Inu Yasha asked himself. 'I never met the guy, Kagome never talked about him… Kagome…'"Kagome's a great person, Souta too… Wouldn't that reflect on him?"

"Really…" Sakiko replied evenly.

"Ummm…uhh…" Inu Yasha stammered, desperately trying to think of something to say. "He… he married you right? He wasn't stupid…"

For a second, Sakiko just stared at Inu Yasha, before she started laughing out loud.

"What'd I say?"

Sakiko only laughed harder at that, tears coming from her eyes, before she finally regained her composure. "I'm sorry Inu Yasha, but that's the sweetest thing anyone's said to me in years."

"You're welcome, I think…" Inu Yasha replied awkwardly.

Sakiko giggled at that. "In your own way, you're very charming."

Trying to change the subject a little, Inu Yasha asked her, "All the two of you did on your anniversary was eat at home?" He'd heard Kagome talking about relationships in this time, and he remembered enough of it to know that anniversaries were supposed to be important, and woe to the man who neglected them.

"We both enjoyed it," Sakiko replied. "After dinner, we'd dance in the living room."

"Dance? Like in a festival?"

Sakiko shook her head. "No, we'd dance slow, listening to jazz."

"Jazz?" Inu Yasha'd never heard that word before.

"Foreign music," Sakiko explained. "Here, I'll show you." She headed for the living room, gesturing for Inu Yasha to follow her. Once there, she went to the black box that made music, put in what Kagome had called a 'CD,' and pushed a button.

Soft, strange melodies filled the air, and Inu Yasha marveled yet again how they were able to get the sounds to fit on that shiny disk. "Nice…"

"Isn't it?" Sakiko remarked. "We both liked it. Sometimes after Yosho died, I'd listen to it, and remember the time we had together."

To Inu Yasha, the music was completely alien, but it had a strange, soulful quality to it, that inspired feelings of happiness, as well as melancholy. He found it far more stirring then the brief snatches of music, both from his time and this time, that he'd heard before.

"Inu Yasha?"

"Yes Sakiko?"

Sakiko closed her eyes and took a deep breath, as if she was marshalling her courage. "Would… would…" She let out another deep breath before she could continue. "Would you mind if… if you… if I asked you to dance?"

Inu Yasha blinked. "D-dance? W-with you…?"

"Yes…" Sakiko replied timidly. "It's been so long… and-and I've missed being able to do that…"

"I-I don't know how," Inu Yasha whispered nervously, the evening having suddenly taken a turn for the surreal.

"I'll show you Inu Yasha. Please…" The pleading look in her eyes was perfectly complimented by the near desperation in her voice.

"O-okay…" Inu Yasha wouldn't have been able to live with himself if he turned Sakiko down. She seemed so lost and needy, that he couldn't make himself refuse her. "What-what do I do?"

Sakiko walked up to him. "Give me your hands," she instructed. She placed his left hand on her waist, not noticing how he stiffened at this sudden closeness, before she put her own right hand on his waist and took his right hand in her left. "Now rock slowly on your feet."

"R-rock?" a now suddenly dry mouthed Inu Yasha croaked.

"Like this." Sakiko began taking small steps, slowly moving in a circle.

After a few false starts when Inu Yasha twice stepped on her toes, for which he stammered an apology and very nearly bolted, he was able to fall into a slow rhythm, moving in circles through the living room with Sakiko.

"See, this isn't so hard, is it?"

"No…" Inu Yasha squeaked, still keeping vigilant to prevent himself from stepping on Sakiko's toes again.

By the third song, Inu Yasha felt comfortable enough with his footwork to let himself relax a little, and try to let the music take him. The soft smile Sakiko was wearing was contagious, and he found himself smiling back down at her. When she moved her left hand so their fingers intertwined, he scarcely noticed.

Inu Yasha found that dancing with Sakiko was pleasant, and he could feel the tension that had been created start to slip away, as the gentle melody of jazz filled the air. 'This is nice… no wonder her husband enjoyed this… I could get used to this. I wonder if Kagome would ever like to do this?' He was jolted out of these thoughts when Sakiko let go of his hand…

…before she rested her head on his chest, slipping her arms around him and placing her hands on his shoulders.

Startled by the increased closeness, Inu Yasha realized that his own arms had automatically wrapped around Sakiko's waist. 'What-what's she doing? Should we be doing this?' he wondered nervously. The thought of letting go of Sakiko never entered his mind.

The music continued to play, its calm rhythm a counterpoint to the frenzied swirl of emotions that was now going through Inu Yasha's mind. Images of Kagome, both pleasant and unpleasant, flashed through his head, even as he realized just how nice it felt to hold her mother in his arms, and just how good her hair smelled inches from his nose. When Sakiko let out a contented hum and tightened her embrace, he found himself squeezing her in reply.

Belatedly, the two of them realized that the music has stopped several minutes earlier, but neither made any move to let go of the other. Finally, Sakiko lifted her head from Inu Yasha's chest and looked up at him, his reflection visible in her eyes. Wordlessly, she lifted her right hand and softly caressed his cheek, sending an involuntary shudder through his body.

Inu Yasha could only stare down at Sakiko as he felt her hand glide through his hair to gently clasp the back of his head. He was far stronger than any normal man, but he was powerless to stop her from slowly pulling his head down until her lips gently pressed against his own. His eyes went wide at the gentle, tentative contact, but he made no effort to break it off. He could taste traces of the meal they'd shared, as well as the wine, and a strange flavor he suspected was the adornment she was wearing on her lips.

Sakiko eventually broke it off and began laying feathery kisses on the side of his neck that made Inu Yasha take in a sharp breath before she asked him, in a voice so low he could barely hear, "Inu Yasha, will… will you stay with me tonight? Please?"

Inu Yasha gazed down at Sakiko, feeling himself get lost in the depths of her eyes. An image of Kagome's face flashed before his eyes, but when Sakiko caressed his cheek again, he turned his head and began kissing the palm of her hand, before she pulled his head back down and kissed him again. They stayed in an embrace for some time, Sakiko running her hands through Inu Yasha's hair, as he gently rubbed her back, before he felt her hands slide down to the tie that held the fire rat coat closed.

Sakiko took a few moments to undo the knot, but when she succeeded, she gently eased it open, and Inu Yasha let her go just long enough to let the protective garment slide off of his shoulders to fall on the floor in a heap. "Can you take me to my room?" she whispered.

Now unclothed from the waist up, Inu Yasha bent down and swept Sakiko up in his arms, kissing her even as he began to carry her to her bedroom, her hands tracing warm trails on his bare back. He felt her tongue pushing against his lips, and he opened his mouth, feeling it slide over his fangs.

Reaching Sakiko's room, Inu Yasha pushed the door open with his foot, stepping into the darkened room and gently setting Sakiko on the bed. She reached over and turned on the small lamp on the end table, throwing a soft glow over the room, before she slipped under the blankets, holding them up, wordlessly inviting Inu Yasha to join her under them. Swallowing, as a huge wave of nervousness came over him, Inu Yasha slowly sat down and joined Sakiko, excited, but also more afraid than he'd ever been in his life.

Sakiko seemed to be able to read his mind. "You've never done this, have you?"

Not trusting his voice, Inu Yasha merely shook his head.

"Don't worry," Sakiko cooed softly. "It won't be difficult." She traced a finger down his face, starting at his forehead, sliding it down his nose and resting it on his lips. As she promised, inu Yasha found that it wasn't as difficult as he feared, and afterwards, she gripped him around the shoulders and pulled him close to her, resting his head on her chest. She continued to run her fingers through his white hair, playing with his ears, and kissed the top of his head, while Inu Yasha listened to her heartbeat, his head moving with the rise and fall of her chest, as he pulled the blankets back up to cover them.

Inu Yasha was still listening to Sakiko's heart when sleep finally claimed him.

Inu Yasha awoke the next morning before sunrise, disoriented and confused, in an unfamiliar location. 'Where-where am I? I don't-' He broke off this thought as memories of the night before filled his mind. 'We-we mated, didn't we…' A scent hung in the air, and Inu Yasha knew where it'd come from, and it was clinging to him as well. During the night he'd rolled out of Sakiko's arms, and she was still sleeping peacefully, a gentle smile on her face. Inu Yasha didn't want to wake her, but she looked so angelic when she slept, that he couldn't stop himself from giving her a soft kiss on the forehead before he got out of the bed.

'Where are my clothes?' Inu Yasha wondered, as he unknowingly performed a ritual males had done since time immemorial, and crept out of the bedroom. He padded almost noiselessly through the halls, idly knotting his pants back up, and retrieving the fire rat coat from the living room, before making his way to the bathroom. Inu Yasha needed to clean himself up, and he'd been taught how to use the indoor waterfall, what Kagome had called a 'shower.'

In the bathroom he stripped down and saw his reflection in the mirror. He didn't look any different, but he knew that he wasn't the same hanyou that had awakened the previous day, and that things had changed, especially his relationship with Kagome. Images of Sakiko's daughter filled his mind, but while he felt a little guilt about what had happened, he found that he didn't have any regrets. Inu Yasha decided it was too early in the morning to think about such things, so he entered the shower and turned it on, the hot water washing over him, sluicing off the sweat and evidence of the previous night's experience.

Inu Yasha marveled at the fact that in his own time, even the Emperor could not experience such luxury, but it was in almost every home here. He took some soap, finding only one that wasn't floral or 'girly' smelling, and guessing (correctly as it turned out) that it was the soap Souta and his grandfather used. He lathered up his hands and began to wash the obvious area first, wanting to remove the stickiness and odor that clung to him. He scrubbed himself thoroughly, and when he was satisfied that he'd gotten it clean, he rinsed off, reaching for the shampoo, when he heard the bathroom door open.

"Sakiko?" through the frosted glass of the shower stall, Inu Yasha could see someone standing in the bathroom, but he couldn't make out who it was. Any uncertainty about the identity of his guest was eliminated when Sakiko casually opened the shower door and stepped inside, as naked as he was. "Wh-what are you doing?"

"Good morning Inu Yasha," Sakiko greeted him warmly. "You weren't planning on just leaving this morning were you? I was… disappointed when you weren't there when I woke up."

"D-didn't want to wake you," Inu Yasha stammered. "Needed to clean up too…"

"That's okay Inu Yasha, I understand," Sakiko reassured him. "It's good you're already here, now I can wash your back and hair."

"Wash… my…"

"It's only right of me," Sakiko explained. "You have so much hair, you probably need some help to do it properly." Without giving Inu Yasha a chance to argue, she took hold of the shampoo bottle, squeezed a sizeable glob of it onto her hand and immediately began to work it into his hair.

Realizing that there was no way that he'd be able to dissuade her, Inu Yasha lowered his head and let Sakiko work the lather into his hair. He'd intended to accept it stoically, but as it progressed, Inu Yasha soon discovered that the feeling of Sakiko's fingers working through his hair, gently scraping his scalp, and carefully working around his ears was sensual. He started humming contentedly, closing his eyes and luxuriating in the indulgent experience, absently allowing her to turn him so she could wash the hair at his back.

When Sakiko finished washing his hair, and then began to lather up his back, running her hands over his shoulders, Inu Yasha actually moaned out loud. The feeling of her long, slender fingers scrubbing his wet skin was heavenly, and he found himself not wanting it to end. Sakiko turned him again, moving him under the showerhead, so the hot water washed over him, rinsing away the soap and shampoo. She continued to run her hands through his hair and over his back, helping clear away even the last of the lather, until there was no trace left.

"It's your turn Inu Yasha…"

"Hmmm?" Sakiko's nearly whispered statement had broken him out of a sensuous state of mind, and he was aware that he was stirring.

"Your turn to wash me," she repeated gently.

"R-right…" Inu Yasha couldn't explain why he was feeling what felt like nervousness. Trying to stay focused, he squirted some shampoo onto his palm, and then he carefully began to massage it into Sakiko's short hair, taking great pains to not accidentally scratch her or scrub too hard. After a few moments, Sakiko's head was completely lathered up, and Inu Yasha tried to massage her scalp with his fingers, just as she had done to him. When Sakiko moaned throatily, and looked at him adoringly, he figured that he had to be doing something right.

"That's nice…" Sakiko murmured.

"What…?"

"Your claws."

"I'm sorry, I'll-"

Sakiko cut him off. "No, I-I like them…"

When he was satisfied that he'd done all that he could, Inu Yasha rinsed the last of the shampoo from his hands, before picking up one of the floral scented bars of soap and working that into a lather as well. Gently turning Sakiko around by her shoulders, he started to wash her back with long, slow strokes, letting his fingertips gently play over her wet skin. He didn't touch her anywhere she hadn't touched him, but he made sure that he ran his hands softly over every inch of skin in those boundaries.

Once finished, he helped her rinse off, but her shorter hair meant it only took a fraction of the time that he had needed. By now, the entire bathroom was filled with steam, and it made Sakiko look almost ethereal to Inu Yasha, like she'd just walked out of the mists. She looked almost unearthly in this setting, and he found that he was having a hard time keeping himself from openly staring at her. Deciding that finishing his shower would be good idea, Inu Yasha reached for his bar of soap, but found that Sakiko was once again building up lather in her hands.

Without warning, Sakiko reached over and took hold of Inu Yasha, causing him to yelp in surprise. She lathered him up with slow strokes, and this had the expected reaction. Embarrassed by his body's response, Inu Yasha tried to pull away. "I-I already washed that…"

Sakiko paid no mind to him, moving Inu Yasha so she could rinse him off, until she looked up at him, a mischievous twinkle in her eye. "I know…" She then reached up and took hold of his head, pulling it towards her until their lips touched.

When it was over, long after the hot water tank had run dry, the two of them stayed locked in a tight embrace, even as Inu Yasha's legs buckled, and they ended up huddled together on the floor of the shower, Inu Yasha having sat down before he would have fallen.

After a few minutes of soft kissing and hugging for warmth, they both slowly stood up, a little stiff from the cold, and washed up as best they could with cold water. Sakiko told Inu Yasha to get dressed while she went to make breakfast, and while he tried to decline, saying she didn't have to, she wouldn't hear of it. They turned off the water and dried off, shivering all the while, until Inu Yasha wrapped a towel around Sakiko and held her until she stopped.

Breakfast was a silent affair, as Inu Yasha wasn't sure what he wanted to say, and he didn't want to stick his foot in his mouth again. After tea, the two of them went outside to the shrine, and they sat on the steps together, watching the morning, and the building that held the Bone Eater's Well. Inu Yasha put his arms around Sakiko, feeling like the two of them were much closer now, and that it would be all right.

"You should go back."

Sakiko's quiet statement startled Inu Yasha. "But-but…"

"You need to go protect Kagome, keep her safe." Sakiko's voice brooked no argument.

Inu Yasha looked at her closely. While Kagome may have been the reincarnation of Kikyo, it was obvious that her mother possessed no small measure of Kikyo's steel. "But what about what happened…?"

"What happened between us should stay between us," Sakiko replied, making Inu Yasha recoil. "I would hope that if anything happens between you and my daughter, it stays between the two of you…" Sakiko took a deep breath and gathered all of her courage. "But I-I… would be very happy… if I could see you again, Inu Yasha…"

Inu Yasha stood up, ready to return to his own time, and wondering if he would ever be able to figure out the typhoon of emotions he was feeling, when Sakiko grasped him from behind and rested her head on his shoulder. Her softer voice took his breath away.

"I'm not trying to push you away," Sakiko whispered. "You need to focus on protecting Kagome, and yourself. I don't want to lose her… or you…"

"Y-you won't. I promise…"

"Then go back, protect her, keep her safe, finish your quest."

"I will."

"I know," Sakiko told him. She then hugged him tighter and nuzzled the side of his head. "If you ever need a break from your quest, my home will always be available for…" She paused, searching for the right word, "…sanctuary… You'll be able to forget it all for a while. I'd like it if you'd stay here again. I'd like it if you'd stay with ME again…"

"…so would I…"

Inu Yasha turned in Sakiko's arms and the two of them shared a long, passionate kiss, before Sakiko reluctantly broke it off. "Now go!" she ordered. "Take care of Kagome, and yourself!"

"Count on it," Inu Yasha replied with a smirk, before he turned around and bolted for the well, giving Sakiko a final wave before he entered the building and leapt into the well.

There was the normal sensation of flying, and then he was back in his own time. Inu Yasha crouched down and leapt from the well, giving a triumphant shout as he cleared it.

"Gah!"

"Ka-Kagome?" Inu Yasha stammered. "Wh-what are you doing here?" Looking up from where Kagome had fallen over in surprise, he belatedly noticed that the others were there as well, Shippo, Sango and Miroku on Kilala's back, watching the two of them with amused grins.

"I was coming to get you," Kagome replied, brushing herself off as she got back to her feet. "I'm sensing a large jewel shard nearby, I figured you'd want to know…" Her brow furrowed. "What happened to you?"

A vision of Kagome sitting him until he dug his way to Hell entered Inu Yasha's mind. "Said 'hi' to your mother, had something to eat and a good night's sleep," he replied, hoping that he wouldn't stammer. "Had a nice shower too…"

"I thought you looked cleaner," Kagome remarked dryly, before a look of concern came over her. "Is mother all right?"

"She's fine," Inu Yasha replied honestly. "Now, where's that shard?"

"Uhh, that way," Kagome pointed.

"Then let's get it!" Inu Yasha bellowed, leaping in the indicated direction.

Kagome watched him go for a few seconds, before walking over to Kilala and climbing back on.

"He seems especially eager today," Miroku commented as they followed the hanyou.

Kagome shrugged. "A good nights sleep can work wonders…"

Half a mile ahead, Inu Yasha wore not the intense gaze of imminent combat, but a contented smile and a glint in his golden eyes, thinking about Sakiko. He didn't realize it, and if asked he would have sputtered an indignant denial, but he was absently humming the same music that he and Sakiko had danced to the night before.

End of Sanctuary.

Special thanks go out to Rx7 and Fatuous One for pre-reading this. Rx7 for his attempts to heat this up, and Fatuous One because of his greater IY-fu…

That said…

All mistakes are my fault, not theirs.