They came out in ningenkai beside each other, a heavy awkwardness pulling at their souls as they looked everywhere but at each

They came out in ningenkai beside each other, a heavy awkwardness pulling at their souls as they looked everywhere but at each other.

They were both at fault.

And they were both blaming themselves.

And they both knew that, even though they had pulled away there was still that understanding between them—the unexplainable bond that made them two parts of one whole team. It was why they had worked together so well and had been such good friends. There was no time to continue feeling guilty when it would only lead to another argument and more time spent away from the Higurashi, hurting them.

Kurama coughed and cleared his throat, the first to turn to his friend because it had been so long since he'd felt that warm soul light up and engulf his. Kuwabara sighed and turned to him, sheepish and pained in his expression. Kurama breathed in deeply before speaking cautiously, "We're both a couple of idiots."

Kuwabara's lips twitched until a broad smile revealed his teeth, and then he threw back his head and laughed.

Kurama tilted his head and remained outwardly composed; but his heart was rising and beating furiously in his chest to hear such a happy sound. He'd missed it.

"I never thought I'd ever hear you say that you'd been an idiot."

Kurama snorted and finally let himself smile, his tension easing because this was his best friend. Not the dour melancholy man who was so hard on himself but a man ready to fight for what he believed in and very careful to reign in his powers lest he hurt someone. "It remains true."

Kuwabara stopped chuckled and sighed, his great shoulders rising and then falling. His tall friend glanced around them in distraction for a moment. "We're near that little park Shippou likes," he said softly.

Kurama sighed and looked away.

Kuwabara snorted. "We really are two dumbfucks aren't we?"

Kurama choked and then started laughing. "The wolf had a point. Instead of acting like adults we pulled away; fearful little children because we'd been burned before." By the time he'd finished his observation his gaiety had fallen away.

Kuwabara licked his lips as he thought; his eyes hard on the ground. "She was so happy that we got along with Shippou—in the scrolls," he hesitated and then ploughed on, "she was always protecting him from the fighting and the yelling, trying to keep him happy. I don't think she's ever stopped worrying that somehow he's going to fall away from her."

Kurama drew in a sharp breath.

"That's why I thought you'd be better—you're a kitsune and you could help her keep him as innocent as he still somehow is after all of that."

Kurama chuckled mirthlessly. "And he'd taken so well to you, Kuwabara. It's natural for male kitsune and kits to rankle each other. I'm more surprised that he actually took a liking to me." It was one of their possessive qualities—the older male presented a threat to the attention the kitling got from his mother. He could even be a threat to the child's life if he was irritating enough. But Kurama actually liked the little kit.

"Shippou loves his mother just as much as she loves him."

Kurama pulled his gaze away. Yes, Shippou did his best to look out for his mother, his entire soul loved hers like he'd never seen before—even in blood related families.

"And you made her happy," Kuwabara said heavily. "That's why he opened up to you. You see? It was better all around that way."

Kurama scoffed good-naturedly, a niggling kitsune thought building in the back of his mind. "She loved you first."

"She fell in love with me…but she fell in love with you when you finally opened up."

Kurama pursed his lips and looked away, his eyes closing. "I tried to stay away, because you two were so perfect together. Your souls made such a warm match."

Kuwabara looked away with a blush. "I had thought the same for your souls."

Kurama swallowed, "I was…scared that I would hurt them. My soul is based off youki, and they are so pure. And you had the perfect soul to immediately mesh with them. Your soul shines so brightly when you're with the family—I like it." Kurama smiled and tilted his head. "And yet the Higurashi have developed such a welcoming aura that I couldn't find it in myself to stay away any longer."

Kuwabara's expression became sober. "Do you think she'll take us back?"

Kurama hesitated.

"In the scrolls," Kuwabara started but had to swallow a large lump that had taken residence in his throat, "it was not hard for her to forgive. But she has been hurt so much in the past. I don't think I could do it." He looked up with deep solemn eyes. "But I hope she still can."

Kurama breathed in slowly to get his raging emotions under control. He had this hope: "Maybe that's why we love her so much. Her past didn't affect her like ours did to us, because she's stronger. She loves so easily."

"Do you think that means she could still accept us?"

"Inari I hope so," whispered Kurama. That kitsune thought itching at him—he knew Kuwabara wasn't thinking anything beyond friendship…couldn't possibly want to wreck whatever they were to salvage…

The two men regarded each other painfully, their eyes dark but their bond re-established. It had been so hard for his soul to pull away from Kuwabara's; for so long they'd been friend of the highest calibre and their spirits and powers had meshed. Losing that connection had been like Kurama was losing an integral part of himself; and then the hurt had made their souls clash and then reach just to clash again.

He was glad their souls had settled back into each other.

Now it was time to retrieve their Higurashi piece.

—Time to re-establish their friendship, and, hopefully, something more.

Kuwabara took in a deep rasping breath as he looked at the door to the Higurashi house. His eyes glowered at the 'Welcome' sign because he wasn't so sure he was just that—welcome. A part of his soul flexed and shook with the very thought, but now Kurama's soul was happy to grab his and stabilize his emotions.

He sighed. He had missed that.

Kurama smiled at him, hopeful and reassuring in the same moment. Kuwabara wondered how the old fox could do both at the same time, but he took the smile at face value. They were in this together.

A fluid hand knocked lightly on the door, and Kurama quickly straightened and shuttered his expression.

Kuwabara nudged his shoulder easily, once last reassurance between them.

It was time to face their mistakes, and hopefully right them.

"Coming!" called a muffled voice from behind the wood—Kagome. Kuwabara gasped as she opened the door, his eyes quickly taking in the slouch to her shoulders and the cautious light in her eyes.

Immediately upon spotting them her eyes veiled and she straightened. She cleared her throat after a moment of awkward silence. "Gentlemen," she said carefully.

Kurama cleared his throat and stepped forward. "May we come in?"

Kuwabara felt his throat close, having to rapidly blink his eyes because he hurt and they were watering. Kagome should never have to look like that…she should never have to look at them like they were somehow there to hurt her more. His heart clenched and froze in his chest.

Kagome cleared her throat and looked about in some uncertainty, finally taking a step back so they could enter the foyer. "Come in. We just finished supper so I have to clean up," this was said crisply; as if she wanted to make sure they were aware that they weren't quite welcome. But Kagome was too polite to make a big fuss—instead she'd dismissed their presence and held back her tea and hospitality.

Kuwabara swallowed, they'd hurt her too much. He was sure they'd never get to tell her why.

In the kitchen, as they settled into the worn table, well loved from warm meals and grubby child's hands, the two old friends sat quietly and regarded the bustling woman as she carefully didn't look at them.

"The garden is looking wonderful," Kurama smoothly started.

Kagome looked at them briefly, her eyes flicking away quickly even as her soul flared.

They heard a thump from upstairs—the direction of Shippou's room—followed by a flare of young kitsune magic.

"It always does," Kuwabara added his two bits in with a quiet voice, his soul heavy and waiting.

Kagome took in a sharp breath and leaned heavily against the counter with her rag. Finally she turned to them, a few dishes left in the sink where she tossed her rag. "What do you really want? You cannot have come for idle chatter."

The two men floundered and looked at each other.

"We want to say we're sorry," Kuwabara choked out, his eyes tearing because her soul was so carefully guarded from them.

Kagome's breath caught and she pursed her lips. Her shoulders shook for one brief moment before she controlled herself and turned bright eyes up to them.

Her soul roiled and churned; lashing out and then reaching desperately.

Kurama and Kuwabara leaned forward with solemn faces, their souls reaching in amongst the chaos of her own to try to convince her they wanted that perfect weave again.

They wouldn't abandon her.

The tense desperate air was broken as Shippou thumped into the room, his simple presence made Kagome calm down and smile. Kuwabara swallowed at the pretty sight, he had really missed it.

"Are you all ready Shippou? Hiro should be here soon."

The smallest redhead cautiously nodded his head, his eyes flicking to the two men before they hardened and he scowled childishly. He quickly darted to his mother's legs, clinging to the cloth of her pants until she bent down and gave him a hug.

Her eyes carefully rose to them—"Shippou is going away for the night. He's sleeping over at his friend's house and then attending a soccer tournament tomorrow."

Kurama sucked in a harsh breath—Kagome was warning them that her son would be out of their reach. She thought they were there for something Kurama was certain he and Kuwabara could never find it in themselves to do.

Despite reikai paranoia he'd never separate the kitsune from his miko mother.

"Mom," Shippou whined. "It's not a sleepover."

"Right, I'm sorry, you go hang out with your friend then." She smiled and winked as Shippou grinned.

There was an echoing honk from the street, Shippou pulled away from his mother to dart to the window. "That's Hiro's mum," he said quietly.

He hesitated as he moved to the door, grabbing his bag and throwing it over his shoulder as he took time slipping on his shoes.

Kagome sighed. "You have a great time okay? And you can call if you have any problems."

Shippou looked up at her carefully before he beamed and threw himself into her arms. "I'm getting better at holding the illusion!"

She kissed his brow and whispered something sweet into his ear.

Kurama swallowed.

Shippou gave her one last exuberant wave, darting out of the house only after he'd bared his fangs and his other very demonic features at the two men in warning.

Kagome cleared her throat and turned to face the two of them—she had gathered herself together and regarded them as if they were perfect polite strangers.

Kurama felt his heart tug, and his soul raged and then reached out. It engulfed hers in a column of emotion, her gasp loud in the otherwise silent hall. Kuwabara reached out gently to tug her into reality, sending a look at the stiff Kurama.

The fox blinked, bewildered and shaken. That very kitsune niggling at the back of his head became a bigger thought that grew and solidified. His soul had turned against his very will, His, Youko Kurama's will, in order to comfort the small miko.

He swallowed.

Kuwabara shushed Kagome, still keeping himself that painful distance away so they wouldn't alarm her or lose their control. What they really wanted to do was pull her to them and hug her, brush away the furrow in her brow and ease the tension in her shoulders.

Kurama looked away and squeezed his eyes shut.

This distance, though they were so close, hurt more than it had before.

The fox turned to her with a deep breath, his eyes wide because his soul had finally understood. Kagome, sweet lovable Kagome, was isolated—they had become her lifeline, her very adult connection to the supernatural and people who wouldn't harm her should her story come out.

They would have understood.

And instead they had pushed and pulled. They had shattered her heart when she had been reaching out for them to share theirs.

"Kagome," he broke into the silence. When she turned to him with her wide eyes he smiled softly and took a step closer. He needed that. And on some level he thought she needed it too—this reassurance of their presence. "I need to tell you that kitsune usually don't adopt foreign youkai or males; it was wrong of me to pull away but I thought it was best since Kuwabara was trying to pull us together."

Her eyes briefly flickered in hurt, but he didn't have time to reflect on what could have caused it as Kuwabara broke in sheepishly.

"I thought that Kurama could take care of Shippou better. He's a kitsune as well…I don't know much about demons." Kuwabara admitted this with a rueful face, because he knew he knew nothing important about demons. He hadn't even understood Yukina and she'd been the focus of his world. He shook his head—that was in the past. In respect for Kagome he should follow her lead and look forward with his head high.

Kurama cleared his throat. "I believed that Kuwabara would make you laugh. As an avatar I might put you in danger, I might have days where my youki reacts and my behaviour changes. I didn't want to hurt you."

Kagome laughed bitterly, a sob catching in her throat and breaking off the sour sound. "Don't worry about that," her sentence came out sharp.

Kuwabara clenched his teeth. He knew that—and he hurt for it. But he couldn't tell her that because she'd been entirely innocent and she'd been hurt as well. He wouldn't give her excuses.

"We did worry." Kurama's voice was heavy and dark, his eyes flashing. Kuwabara sighed and looked away. They were still worried, still hurting each other.

"Oh right. You were so worried. You were just waiting for the right time to break it off! Don't think I don't know you wanted nothing to do with me! And Shippou!—you broke his heart!" She took in a large breath as her chest heaved and her anger raged. "I can deal with you not wanting to hang around or know anything more about us, but you didn't have to use us and go about it in such a way."

"What are you talking about?" They'd pulled away, and it hadn't been planned, so there was nothing that should have set her off about them keeping themselves away willingly. It had been a struggle with their souls.

She rolled her eyes and spun to one side—"Don't think I don't know you were sending reikai information to fill in their files."

Kuwabara choked in a breath. "I did use them for my research paper."

Kagome sniffed and turned completely around. "Then you ignored my history?—my past?" Her voice was soft and pained.

Kuwabara took in a deep breath. "I read every single one of those scrolls," he said forcefully.

Kagome took in a sharp breath and looked over her shoulder. Kuwabara felt a heavy weight settle into him—she had thought he'd ignored her past to get what he wanted. She had thought he hadn't wanted to know her, to understand her like she'd tried so hard to understand him.

"He did," Kurama's quiet voice intoned. "When he gave them to me his soul was still trying to cling to them."

Kagome sobbed and covered her mouth, her eyes watery. "You sent them back…I'd thought you didn't read them." She blushed and looked down to one side.

"Why wouldn't I have read them?"

Kagome swallowed and stared straight into his eyes, longingly, and Kuwabara felt, despite his greater height, that she could have felled him with that look. He'd be hers.

"You didn't come to ask about the jewel."

Kurama twitched with shock, his wide eyes turning to the vulnerable and somehow so much smaller miko. She was that priestess?

His friend breathed out heavily, solemnly regarding their female friend (and hopefully so much more). "I don't care about the jewel. I cared that a woman felt burdened by it—I didn't want to add to her burdens."

"Oh Kazuma-kun. You'd never be a burden." Her eyes misted up but her lips pulled into a slight smile. "None of my past was a mistake; I was taught so many things and got a chance to see what the world could have been. The jewel gave me that—it gave me Shippou. There is nothing I regret."

"Even though the hanyou…"

Kagome closed her mouth and swallowed. "Inuyasha didn't want to love me. If he did then that would mean his whole life would have been a lie—he could have grown up in a loving family." She smiled wetly. "I was a reminder that he got nothing of everything that was possible for him. And that hurt him as much as it hurt me."

She shook her head with a long sigh.

"I didn't want to be like him Kagome-chan." Kuwabara said heavily, his shoulders slouching.

Kagome smiled widely and laughed. "Kazuma-kun; you're a wonderful young man with a very soft heart—letting go of your past, confessing it, makes you so much different than him already. And I don't think you could ever hurt me on purpose. Besides," she stepped closer to him, "I'm much tougher now." She grinned impishly.

Kuwabara couldn't find it in him to smile back, his throat was blocked and his eyes were blurry. There was something so delicate about her right now, something hiding and hesitant behind her strong front. She was scared—maybe it wasn't scared of her being hurt…but something was making her weary.

"We did come to apologize," he finally managed to choke out. "But you need an explanation." Though his voice was soft she heard it, he could tell with the way she tensed and tried not to make it obvious that she was scared.

"We realized that we loved you." Kurama carefully whispered, as if anything louder would break the delicate woman sitting in front of them.

Her startled gaze flew to them, and Kuwabara was a little glad that Shippou was at his friend's house—he didn't want him to see his mother with tears in her eyes.

"Right," she spoke a little bitterly, her eyes narrowed upon the table and her fingers clenched white around each other.

She went back to the kitchen sink, fumbling with the dishes and her angry tears as she tried desperately not to look at them and showcase her flushed face. When she finally turned, she faced them with a grave pained expression. Her lips parted to speak but no words escaped.

She was so obviously hurt that a small part of him curled up and died—the other part, strong and loud, rose up and wailed while trying to reach out for her.

Kuwabara felt his breath catch and his heart curl into his spine. "Kagome…I—we didn't mean to make you feel like this."

She blinked and nodded as she gathered her tray to her hip, biting her lips and tightening her face against tears. "It's okay, I understand."

"No, you don't." Kurama spoke up firmly, stepping forward and reaching out to clasp her arm with his hand. "Kuwabara loves you, and I love you. There is nothing you did wrong."

Her mouth opened and closed, her head shaking once before she sighed. "I've already caused enough troubles." She gave them imploring eyes. "Just look at how the two of you were so angry at each other—I don't want to make you that bitter. You have such a beautiful friendship and I don't want to come between the two of you."

Her eyes blinked back tears and a strained little smile took over her plump lips. "I never wanted to hurt the two of you," she said softly, wringing her hands as her gaze eventually fell away. "I'm sorry I made you feel inadequate, and I'm sorry you felt you had to pull away." She took a deep breath.

Kurama softly cleared his throat, and Kuwabara floundered at the sudden implications and product of all that had been going on.

Kagome licked her lips, "I'll just finish those dishes." She looked down to the floor as she turned away from them.

Kuwabara looked over to Kurama and he stared at his red-haired counterpart as they both felt the tightening in their chests. They hadn't meant to make her feel so lost, hadn't meant to hurt her.

—Hadn't meant to make her feel guilty when all of this was their fault.

"I hadn't thought…" Kuwabara started, his face clearly pained at the turmoil they'd raised in the kind woman who'd invited them into her life with her son.

Instead of finishing he swallowed, his eyes glassy as he shook his head. Hanging his shoulders in distress as he thought over what the best course of action could be.

Kurama hastily spoke—"What about a triad?" He cursed his pulling soul for making him blurt out his very kitsune idea; they would think it deviant and disgusting. Humans didn't understand demon ways.

Kurama closed his eyes briefly in self recrimination.

But might as well bite the buller: "It's a tradition for kitsune soul matches." Kuwabara furrowed his brow and slouched—his habit to show he was paying attention, trying to hear you and understand better from a less intimidating stance. Kurama smiled. "If two males believe the other is more worthy…it becomes a trifocal match."

Kuwabara blushed and looked away again, straightening and shuffling his feet as his hands remained curiously still.

Kurama cleared his throat, closing his eyes again, "This way it is ensured the female is cared for…and truthfully I wouldn't find it hard."

When he opened his eyes Kagome was shaking her head in disbelief, her lips parted as words formed but weren't voiced. He swallowed—that wasn't so bad. Kurama looked to his friend; Kuwabara was a stickler for morals and traditions.

But Kuwabara only blushed; he didn't get angry or start shouting.

Kagome turned redder the longer she stayed silent, and then she let out a little squeak (an adorable little squeak) as she raised her hands to cover her cheeks.

Kurama cleared his throat awkwardly, "It's possible for souls like ours, the ones who match and accept each other so warmly, to be in triads so that they can be together. There is no jealousy because it is a perfect match. Especially when the males believe the other is more worthy—the trifocal match becomes perfect in the fact that everyone is looking out for the interests of the other."

"I don't think…I wasn't…" Kagome stammered. She blinked her large eyes, and pursed her lips.

Kuwabara shuffled, "Kagome," the woman looked at him in confusion, her bright eyes curious and her lips plumped. He blushed; unable to continue trying to convince her of this idea when other thoughts were occupying his mind. Then he growled and said, "To hell with it."

He wasn't very good with words anyway.

Kagome's bewilderment swung to shock as he pulled her to him, her small hands pressing into his shoulders as he crowded her and bent to give her a kiss. Her shoulders rose as she startled, but then her eyes fluttered closed and Kuwabara gently pressed his hand to the small of her back.

He too closed his eyes, falling into the delicate sound of her sigh and the warmth of her body. When it ended, softly as all things seemed to be with her, he could only smile and brush her hair behind her ears—delighting in the pink blush that rose on her cheeks and the shy yet womanly sparkle in her eye.

Kurama chuckled from where he'd previously stood silent, his green eyes tender upon the woman they both found they couldn't live without. Kuwabara grinned at him quickly before turning to her, tightening his arms around her to help her understand he wouldn't let her go. Ever. It wasn't something he thought was physically possible anymore.

"Kazuma-kun…" She trailed off uncertainly as she leaned back against the bracing splay of his fingers. Her large eyes looked up to him, that beautiful slant of knowledge entrancing him once more and almost making him miss her very significant question. "I—how would this work? I don't want to hurt you. I don't want to make this all…wrong."

Truth, he had no clue how this would work.

And as long as he spent the rest of his life able to ensure she was happy he could continue living this truth. Kagome was everything he wanted; everything he knew could be his future.

He didn't want to miss out on it.

He hesitated, hunching his shoulders and staring down at the woman he still held.

"I love you," he whispered close to her ear.

Kagome sobbed from behind an open smile, her eyes closing as she leaned into him—"I love you too."

Kurama cleared his throat and stepped forward, close enough that Kagome moved to better regard them both at the same time. "And I love you."

She sniffled and straightened, tossing her long her back and trying to wipe away her tears as she smiled. "I love you both."

Kuwabara stepped back and shuffled, one hand going to his red hair as he tried to figure out how this would work—it was a very good question. He firmed and nodded his head: "One of us would have to marry you."

She startled, as if ignorant of the fact that this bond meant forever—as if disbelieving of the fact that they loved her that much.

And Kuwabara wasn't going to deprive her of every woman's dream wedding, make her live life with rumours and questions. No one would ever question their bond or belittle her. He sighed—"It will have to be Kurama."

Kagome twitched and gave him an affronted look. "Why can't it be you?"

Kurama chuckled good-naturedly and smiled while a happy sigh lifted his shoulders. "I think he's insinuating that's what the populace would expect."

Kagome pulled away from him and crossed her arms. "That's stupid, their stupid," she huffed out and blew her bangs away from her forehead.

Kuwabara smiled. In defending him she had accepted the idea—she wanted to be with them. And in defending him a small part of him that still doubted shattered away and the very real love he felt for this woman surged up on his soul.

And that was a good feeling.

He couldn't stop the goofy smile from spreading on his face.


Kurama smiled and took a step forward, pulling Kagome into him and nuzzling his nose into her hair. She sighed contently against his neck and her fingers clenched in his shirt. He was very aware of the fact that neither of his friends had come to disagree with the trifocal relationship.

And it made him very happy.

As a kitsune, presenting a very kitsune tradition, he'd been wary and sad. Many people discounted his species' traditions as disgusting and vile—but they were a treasure of subtle touches and reassurances to the kitsune themselves.

And his friends had accepted that.

Maybe they hadn't consciously known that a triad would feed his soul and light his spirit….but they'd agreed to the course that would nurture his powers in the most agreeable of environments.

He found he loved them more than he thought could be possible.

Kagome cleared her throat and blushed. "Not that I like you any less Kurama-kun."

He laughed an actual throw-your-head-back-and-let-loose kind of laugh. "I understand Kagome-chan," he purred out into her ear, kissing her cheek.

Now he had the right to touch her—he would make the most of it.

Kuwabara chortled and then covered his mouth, delicately pushing some of Kagome's hair away from her face with his other hand.

"This…doesn't make you guys uncomfortable?" she inquired.

Kuwabara sobered. "Truthfully Kurama is the only man I'd ever think of having a relationship with." Kurama smiled. "But if this makes you uncomfortable…"

"No!" Kagome shouted. She cleared her throat and calmed herself down, but a flagging blush stayed on her face. "I just, most of the men I know won't even think about…with each other."

She blushed some more and the men chuckled.

"You're very much worth it, Kagome."

She smiled up to them. "I think this will work." Then her eyes darted up to them firmly, "as long as we talk things out instead of being stupid…okay?" As she trailed off hesitantly Kuwabara nodded sheepishly and Kurama hugged her tighter.

"It will be so. I think we've had enough of staying away to last a life time."

Kagome laughed and snuggled into him—as if he hadn't been missing from her life for weeks and they'd simply stepped right back into the comfortable relationship they'd enjoyed before.

But Kurama supposed she was like that—Kagome couldn't possibly hold a grudge.

All the better for them then, they'd make sure they could stay by her side forever.

The trio settled into the cushions of the couch, Kuwabara on the floor with one arm wrapped around Kagome's leg. Kurama held his arm up until she'd settled firmly against his side.

Laying like that, and entwined as they were, seemed somehow natural.

Kurama grinned and let his head fall back on the cushion behind him.

Kuwabara's voice came out groggy from around their knees, Kurama looked from the corner of his eyes to see Kagome's slender fingers massaging his scalp absently (a kitsune habit that made him grin), "That wolf leader…is the red one his mate?"

Kagome giggled, "Kouga-kun? You bet Ayame-chan is his mate. Took him long enough to realize it too!"

Kurama scoffed a laugh—"If the legends are true didn't he chase after you?"

Kagome grumbled and shifted, her finger poking into his side. "I was trying to forget that."

Kuwabara coughed and laughed.

"Wolves are entirely too forceful for my mate tastes, but Kouga's pack took a liking to me even though I refused his suite."

"Hmm, is that why they were so lenient?"

Kagome blushed; Kurama could feel the heat of it against his neck. She cleared her throat and shifted again, "Actually that's because Ayame has a soft spot for me."

"Come again?"

She laughed, "Ayame's trying to play matchmaker…" then she paused, "I think it worked though."

"Gods I'm glad it did," Kuwabara exclaimed fervently, kissing her hand from where he'd pulled it towards his face.

Kagome smiled gently and tilted her head.

"We're sorry that someone had to play matchmaker though, we should have talked in the first place."

"It's alright," Kagome said casually.

Kuwabara shifted so he could eye them over his shoulder, his weight resting comfortingly against their legs and his arm splayed across their laps. "I really did think I couldn't love you as much as you deserved."

Kagome reached forward and caressed his face, her eyes sparkling and gentle. "Just love me. That's enough."

Kurama sighed, "I'd thought I wasn't pure enough for either of you—surprisingly for a kitsune Shippou has such a pure soul…"

Kagome snorted and raised one eyebrow at him. "I met Shippou because he tried to steal from me."

Kuwabara laughed.

Kurama felt a lopsided grin take over his face, "I guess I shouldn't be scared to tell you I was a very good thief then."

Kagome pouted at him. "I already know who you are—the legendary Youko Kurama. I live in a shrine and went to the past; do you take me for an idiot?" She ducked her head. Kurama startled and moved to reassure her, but Kuwabara, still situated as he was with a better view to boot, started smiling.

Kurama twisted his head to see her impish smile, her eyes twinkling and mischievous as she reached out and somehow slid into Kuwabara's lap.

The large man blinked down at her before settling his arms around her, her sigh audible as she cuddled into him.

"I missed you guys," she said quietly.

They remained quietly comfortable for a large amount of time—nothing needed to be said. Kurama smiled and reclined to the side on the couch, so that his head was next to both of theirs.

It was nice.

The silence held longer, and the settling of their bodies only ended up so they were more entwined, more together.

It became more than nice—it became perfect.

A sleepy Kuwabara shifted, Kagome ended up more in his lap, curled there and quite content as the conversation picked up: random little things like the feel of the couch's fabric under their fingers and the way the light shone through the gauzy drapes.

That light gradually became gold and reds, a sure sign of time passing too quickly for them to take any notice. It meant nothing to them now, here, together.

It was when the room had become shadowed and silvery, the moon shining and reflecting while the streetlights flickered on, Kagome yawned from where she lay splayed across Kuwabara's lap and Kurama's feet.

They watched her squint her eyes at the clock, "Is it ten already?"

Kuwabara smiled lazily and lowered his whole body to the floor. "Conversation is a good way to waste time."

"No," she murmured absently, "never wasted." She sat up and scratched her head. "Can you pass me the phone?"

Kurama blinked but acquiesced; handing her the phone and trying to hold in his yawn.

They'd all had a long day.

Kagome simply held the phone in her hand loosely, her head falling back against Kuwabara's thigh as she sighed and closed her eyes.

"Err, the phone?" the man asked in confusion.

Kagome 'hmm'ed and then chuckled. "I'm waiting for Shippou to call."

Kurama twisted so he was half hanging off the couch, closer to her face so he could look into her eyes as Kuwabara combed his fingers through her hair.

(Another kitsune habit that made him grin—maybe they were already acting like a kitsune family would.)

"He's going to call?"

She 'hmm'ed again: "Just to make sure everything's okay."

Kuwabara spoke and his voice was heavy with drowsiness and curiosity, "You really are his world, aren't you?"

Kagome looked down at the floor. "I'm all he has in this era, and it was so hard to get his illusions going." She sighed and tried to smile, "I think that's what made him so clingy—but we've been working on it. He's on the community soccer team you know. He gets that from his uncle, Souta is my little brother but he travels too much now to be around often."

The phone rang in her hand, interrupting her rambling. She smiled and laughed at herself as she answered. "Hello?" She threaded her free hand through her hair, playing with the ebony strands. "Everything is just fine here Shippou—Kazuma-kun and Kurama-kun explained everything and I think you'll be happy to see them more often ne?"

She laughed.

Then her breath caught and her eyes went dewy, "Oh Shippou-kun. You don't have to worry about that."

Her smile was watery as it came back to her face. "Yes, I'll be sure to warn them."

She stood and paced the room quietly, both of her hands cradling the cordless phone. "Yes, I'll do that too. No I'm sure the men won't mind…Shippou darling that's entirely not true."

Kurama cleared his throat and held out his hand.

Kagome blinked and slowly gave him the phone.


There was a pause.


"Yeah it's me. Is everything okay?"

He heard some shuffling, "Is mum okay? She doesn't like to tell me when she isn't."

"Your mum is just fine, everything is fine now"

"And you guys are friends again?"

Kurama smiled and chuckled lightly, "Even better friends. Your mother is allowing us to court her."

The kit gasped on the other line.

"We can't wait to see you tomorrow," Kurama tried in the silence.

Kagome shifted beside him, her eyes large and curious with that mothering quality she held for Shippou.

He heard soft laughter from the other end. "Great! I can't wait! And it will be just after I win the game too!"

Kurama smirked and chuckled. "We'll see about that."

"Oh you will! Night Kurama—give my mum a kiss goodnight for me!" The kit abruptly hung up on him.

Kurama blinked and took the phone away from his ear to stare at it, Kagome looking at him in consternation.

"He hung up."

She shook her head and an exasperated smile spread across her face. "The little devil. He should have said goodnight."

Kurama cleared his throat, handing her the phone as he pulled her to him. "He did, told me to give you a goodnight kiss for him."

Kagome blushed and smiled. "Well then by all means do so."

Kurama laughed and did just that.

They broke apart as Kuwabara chortled from his relaxed position on the floor, the large man gazing up at them easily with a smile. "He's quite the charmer, the sneaky thing."

Kagome beamed at him.

Kurama sat down beside Kuwabara, pulling Kagome until she lay across their laps. She grumbled and shifted until she was sitting on Kurama but leaning against Kuwabara.

"He's really close to you."

"He's my darling—always wants what's best for me. I thought it was my job to do the parenting."

Kurama grinned—"It's nice to see; makes you two all the more special."

"It means you've been through a lot together."

"We have. He was practically there through everything in the past."

"And you somehow managed to get him here?"

Kurama furrowed his brow—she was so sensitive about the jewel but he couldn't picture her limiting herself to anything when it came to her son. She just might have done that: "Did you wish on the jewel?"

Kagome shook her head and shifted. "We never wished on the jewel—the power was used in the last battle when we destroyed Naraku's essence. It's actually an empty marble now, hidden away in my jewellery box under the false bottom—just in case." She smiled sheepishly to them before turning back around and getting comfortable.

Kuwabara and Kurama looked at each other.

"We won, just like it says in the legends and the scrolls. But…I think we somehow lost, even beyond the jewel's magic disappearing. After Naraku was defeated and the jewel shards were gathered there was nothing left holding us together—all the teamwork between the races and beliefs just fell apart. And I couldn't stay in the past where I wasn't needed."

Both men knew the word she had tried not to use was 'loved'.

She cleared her throat. "But at least I got Shippou." She smiled and stretched out, placing the phone closer to the cradle on the side table. "Somehow, my soul must have pulled at his as I fell back through the portal to this time. He's been with me ever since."

She took in a deep breath through her nose and settled her head back onto Kuwabara's shoulder.

The gentle giant smiled and kissed her temple, wrapping his arms around her. "Now he'll have all of us."

She grinned and closed her eyes.

Kurama chuckled and kissed her cheek, slipping to the floor beside the pair to lean against his friend.

They'd all have each other, actually.

Now they just had to wait for Shippou to get home.

The story is finished, this is where I leave you readers to your own imaginations. I hope you enjoyed the story!

Special thanks to madmiko for prereading and granting me her marvelous opinion while I worked out the mistakes.