Paradox

"You are aware of what will happen if you do something foolish," Sesshomaru said, drumming his fingers on the armrest of the door. Inuyasha didn't show any visible reaction. He had sat back for years and let history, pre-ordained history, run its course, the knowledge eating his insides like his brother's own poison claws, and not done anything. This was the last chance he had, and he knew if he didn't take it, he'd hate himself for the rest of his unnaturally long life.

"You are aware we've discussed this kami knows how many times in the last few months, right?" Inuyasha replied, staring out at the Tokyo skyline running across the reflection of his own face in the window.

"This would be the thirty-second time, now," Sesshomaru said. Inuyasha turned to him. He and his brother had had five centuries to patch up their differences after Naraku's death, but as far as he was concerned there would always be a rift between them. They had been enemies too long to have a true brotherly bond now, but as time went on and the youkai dwindled, they had no choice but to bond together. Youkai were an endangered species now, and in numbers came strength. Sesshomaru was one of less than a thousand pure-blood inu-youkai left in the world.

"I have to do this, and if you try and stop me, I'll personally make it my goal to make the rest of your life a living hell," Inuyasha warned. Sesshomaru didn't respond. He knew the hanyou's plight perfectly. Rin's life had been extended generously using his youkai blood when they had mated, but she was still human and had died about a century ago. Ignoring all he knew about the Tenseiga, he had furiously slashed the sword over Rin's body over and over, snarling each time the blade refused to revive her. He had only stopped when Inuyasha had ripped the blade from his hand and punched him hard enough to dent the wall behind him when he hit it.

"Just be quick about it. You cannot afford to dally," Sesshomaru reminded as the limousine slowed to a stop. Inuyasha nodded and clicked open his door, slamming it shut behind him. He looked up the long steps to the shrine and walked towards them. His shoes filled with led and he walked up them. He had been there countless times before. Sometimes with a camera, sometimes to sneak into her room and breath her scent like a dying man. Sometimes to just watch her sleep until the sun peaked over the rooftops.

He crested the top of the stairs and stared over the grounds of the shrine. Against the far end lay the well-house, and any number of ideas flashed through his mind. Seal it, destroy it, warn her, take her away. And none of them could be done. Sesshomaru had made sure he was perfectly clear on what a paradox such as that could do. No altering the past, bottom-line. That was the main reason he had stayed away from the shrine over the years. It hurt him like a thousand purity arrows through the chest to do so, but it hurt him just the same to come closer and see her.

He walked around the back of the house and bounded up to her window, open to let in the breeze. Italian wing-tips gently padded on the soft carpeting of the bedroom as he slipped inside. He looked around and took a deep sniff. He had been here countless times before to indulge in it, but never while she was here.

He knelt by the bed and stared at the young girl sleeping peacefully under the covers. Five centuries and his memories of her were as accurate as ever, yet still failed to do her justice. He remembered every detail about her, perfect in his eyes, even in her imperfections. He lifted a hand to brush a stray lock of hair from her forehead, and she turned slightly.

"Kagome…" he murmured, licking suddenly dry lips. Kagome murmured something in her sleep, and long lashes slowly fluttered open. Inuyasha gulped heavily. This hadn't been part of the plan.

"Inu…yasha…?" she whispered, starring at him through half-lidded eyes. Inuyasha though quickly. There was no way he could leave her like this, she could wake up and there was no telling what she would do.

"Yes," he replied. Kagome's hand slipped out from under the blanket to grasp his shoulder. Her brow furrowed slightly at the designer suit that met her fingertips.

"Am I dreaming?" she asked. Inuyasha nodded.

"Yes," he replied. The truth was entirely out of the question. By all accounts, he shouldn't even be talking to her.

"What are you doing here?" she asked. Inuyasha reached up to run a finger along his collar, letting air in. The room suddenly seemed much too small and humid for him.

"It's your dream, you tell me," he said. Noncommital. A lot like he had been once.

"Huh? Inuyasha," Kagome began to say something else, but a clawed finger to her lips silenced her.

"Kagome…" he choked. Talking to her was getting harder by the second. Every word she spoke was another strike against the dam and he had to stop her before he blurted out the things he knew he couldn't possibly say.

Kagome, don't leave me.

Kagome, I love you.

Kagome, be my mate.

Kagome, let me take you.

Kagome, don't go down the well tomorrow.

Kagome, don't try and find Naraku this time.

Kagome, in three weeks, I won't be able to save you.

"Don't speak," he begged. Kagome's lips moved slightly, and he leaned forward. "Close your eyes," he whispered. Kagome sleepily obeyed, and he moved his hand to cup her cheek, closing the distance between them.

Soft pink lips pressed up against dry chapped ones, and he felt the dam splinter. Tears began to slide down his cheeks as the hand on his shoulder moved up to his cheek. He had entertained fantasies of this, and more, for centuries ever since Naraku's death. Fantasies of ignoring all warnings and knowledge of paradoxes and spiriting her away to a place where even time itself wouldn't take her from him. And inevitably, the fantasies ended with him waking up to cold, horrid reality.

He allowed his tongue to slide along her lips, and she opened to him. The two appendages met, hers hesitant and shy, and he took control, surging into her cavern and tasting all she had to offer him. She mewed softly at his ministrations, and he knew if he didn't stop now, he never could. He pulled back and gently put a hand over her eyes.

"What are you…"

"Go back to sleep," Inuyasha interrupted. Kagome mumbled something even his hearing couldn't decipher, and he waited until her breathing evened out. Confident that she was asleep, and neither of them was disappearing because of some time-changing event Sesshomaru had speculated on, he stood and took a final look down at her. He had dozens upon dozens of pictures in a drawer in his home office of her from nearly every period of her life, but especially when she had turned fifteen and older.

Still, pictures were no comparison to the real thing, nor any comfort to its fate…

He jumped down to the shrine grounds and clenched his eyes shut, willing away the tears even as he rose and marched to the steps. Every ounce of willpower he possessed was focused on getting him down the stairs and into the limo, away from her before he did something more stupid than he already had. He took the steps as quickly as he could and nearly ripped the door of the limo off its hinges as he climbed in. Sesshomaru was a lot of things, but if he tried anything he knew his brother would stop him. He leaned back in the seat, letting the tears fall free again, and felt golden eyes staring at him.

"You smell of her, more than you should," Sesshomaru accused. Inuyasha ignored him. "If you gave her any indication of what is going to happen, you know what will-."

"Sesshomaru," Inuyasha muttered, keeping his eyes closed. The next words came slowly and in between soft sobs. "Now would be an excellent time, for you to not…talk," the hanyou finished. Sesshomaru stared at him for a moment before leaning back against the seat and lifting his hand to the driver.

The limousine started down the Tokyo streets once again, carrying the tai-youkai and the hanyou within as far from the shrine behind them as it could, the yellow and orange bands of color on the horizon betraying the coming sunrise.