Author's Note: I made it! 50 drabble-chapters! This is wonderful. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for the reviewers who dragged these chapters out from me.

Now... for the final three-word chapter introduction. Endings are always hard to write in a believable fashion, but I hope you enjoyed the story.

A Distant Promise – Mini-Chapter # 50

"I love you."

The words were barely mumbled against the back of her neck, and Kagome was barely awake, but she still heard it. The breath caught in her throat. Such words did not come often from Sesshoumaru.

In fact, both inu-youkai brothers had always seemed reserved, when it came to expressing affection. Once on a mountaintop, she had screamed her love for Inuyasha into the cold night air. As he burst down the door to rescue her from Akago and Kagura, he had heard her statement. But he had never replied. Not then, not now.

So, when these three words emerged from the lips of someone like Sesshoumaru, it meant the world. Through her association with the dog-brothers, she had learned that such a declaration was a precious keepsake, to be stored in a glass box on a mantelpiece, not carelessly thrown around to satisfy a desire. Whether he believed she could hear him or not, he meant it absolutely.

Had he truly appreciated receiving a birthday gift, so much? This was sad, and wonderful, and sweet all at once. Earlier that day, Shippo, Satoshi, and the others had participated in throwing him a party. Even Inuyasha had written him a card, although he seemed embarrassed about being present for such an event.

Simple but elegant, they had dragged the taiyoukai to a nice restaurant, followed by an interlude of reminiscing in a stylized garden that had been around since the Edo period. Quiet straightforward service, artful gardens, she had chosen their activities based on the dates that he had originally assembled for her, since she guessed that these showed his preferences.

But earlier in the day, Sesshoumaru had acted as though the entire experience was an imposition. If they forced such ridiculousness onto him, his attitude seemed to imply, then he would bear it. Still, she had not known for certain, whether the celebration met with his approval or not. The most they could get him to admit was that he thought it was silly to have a party about getting older.

Evidently, he did not mind too much. And it was deeply rooted in Kagome's heart to show others that she cared for them, in every way possible, all the time. If she had to invent birthdays for her favorite man, just to give him a special day meant only for him, then she would.

Probably, he had thought she would not hear him. Probably, it did not matter whether she answered. But those three words made her feel very cherished and appreciated, so she hoped to return the favor.

Closing her eyes, she cuddled the arm that lay across her waist and smiled into the dark.

"I love you too," she whispered in reply.