She was not surprised when it began to rain. Thick and heavy sheets of cold water pounded down from the dark night sky, beating the earth into submission. Pulling the sodden silk kimono tightly about her body before wrapping her arms about her chest to keep in what little body heat she could, Kagome stared blankly at the ground as she placed one little foot in front of the other. She deserved no better than this. She deserved to be freezing and alone, soaking wet in the woods in the middle of nowhere. The Kami's knew what she had done and they were treating her exactly as she would have done if she were in their position.

A heavy gust of wind blew towards her, making the fat drops of rain smack against her naked flesh like little teeth and she grimaced in the dark. Her bare feet were beginning to sink into the soft earth with each step and were filthy beyond measure. The night sky was so dark, the rain so thick, that she could barely she where she was going two steps before she got there. And yet she forced herself to carry on.

"Because this is what you deserve Kagome. This is what happens when you act like a whore. Now you have to suck it up and go back and apologize. Then you can just go back to your own time and try to forget any of this ever happened."

Because that was the best thing really. She knew that even if InuYasha could somehow forgive her, Sesshomaru never would. More importantly, how would she ever be able to forgive herself? So going back to her time, permanently, was best for everyone in the long run. As for the future Sesshomaru? Well, things could always change. Who was to say he'd even be there this time, right? And if he was? Well, she just wasn't going to think about that right now.

"Because," she said out loud, glaring at the way in front of her with a determined expression on her face, "I have to figure out a way to apologize for what I did. Somehow, just saying 'I'm sorry, INUYASHA!'"

Lightening struck, and she was cut off with a final shriek.

InuYasha violently shook his head, trying in vain to get the rainwater out of his fuzzy ears. No matter what he did, when it rained, water always found a way into his ears. It was one of the more annoying thing about them when he thought about it. Normally he would have sought shelter at the first hint of storm on the air- the fresh scent of sparking ozone that meant wet ears and muted hearing- but tonight he had a mission. Giving his head one last shake, he pinned the troublesome appendages back in frustration. They nestled down into his thick white locks, which were soaked through in their own right, where they would no doubt be water logged again in a matter of minutes.

Resuming his flight from branch to branch he absentmindedly damned his luck. The storm was washing away all scent traces of Kagome or Sesshomaru and there was no way he was going to be able to pick out any small sounds above the thunder and pounding of the rain with his sodden ears. He was pretty much running on pure luck and hope; and a little desperation thrown in.

He loved her. Kami help him, filthy hanyou that he was, he loved the pretty little miko with strange blue eyes and the fiery temper who had been a part of his pack for so many years. So many times he had wanted to tell her, but he never did. She deserved better than spending a life as an outcast with a hanyou. He knew that she had feelings for him, but he had waited for them to pass, thinking that it was a passing childhood crush. Years later, and still he would catch her deep blue eyes, dancing with the light of the fire, as they watched him from the ground while he perched in the trees. As everyone else slept, hanyou and miko would look longingly at one another across the darkness, neither daring to act upon the years long yearnings.

And so he was tortured, year in and year out, by the thoughts that she may one day find another and conversely, that she never would. There was no way he could win. Either he would be tormented by the sight of her happy with someone better, or by the sight of her growing old with no one. All because of him. Maybe he would have been able to handle someone better; maybe he would have been able to accept that guy and still find a way to be around her, because he knew he would never be able to live without her anymore.

"But GODDAMMIT! Sesshomaru isn't better! He's fucking WORSE!" InuYasha swore out loud, landing on a tree branch so hard it snapped as he jumped to the next.

Jumping lithely to the ground, he paused to search for some sort of scent, some trail or hint that they had passed through here. But the storm was still raging and had already washed any clues clean. His chest was heaving and he was soaked through to the bone. His ears were so full of water they were sore and he was beyond freezing.

He loved her, Kami help him, he did, but for now, he had nowhere to go. No clues to follow, no scents to guide him. He was completely lost. For the first time since his mother had died, InuYasha felt utterly alone and helpless.

He stood there, staring up at the cloud night sky, watching the lighting strikes, his tears mixing with the rain on his cheeks, for what seemed like an eternity.

One fuzzy ear shot up to attention amid the thunder and despite the rain, and suddenly, InuYasha was off again, this time with a clear direction.

The storm had yet to reach the taiyoukai's resting place, but his sleeping mind was quickly coming to and it realized that something was drastically wrong. Citrine eyes shot open and in one fluid movement Sesshomaru was on his feet, surveying his surroundings.

Sniffing lightly, his first assessment was that she had been gone for an extended amount of time. Her scent was stale and placing one palm on the place where her body had rested, he found the ground to be cold. Raising his eyes slightly, he saw before him, written in small but simple letters scratched into the earth, a letter addressed to himself.

Reading it slowly, his eyes narrowed. Reading it again, he stood and studied the sky.

He understood what she had said. After much thought, he decided that he would have done the same, had he been in her position.

But now was not the time for her to be running around the country on her own. Sniffing the air lightly, he could smell what he already saw on the horizon; a violent storm was coming. He would have to find her quickly, or he would risk losing all traces of her in the ensuing rain.

He ran for the depths of the forest at top speed, following the trail of the bewitching little miko with the unbreakable spirit.

No, I'm not telling you what she wrote. I think that's going to stay between them. Well, two (maybe three if things get out of hand in the next chapter) chapters to go, and then we get to put this baby down. I hope you're all looking forward to the ending too. After a year of work, I know I am! I'm ready for new pastures.