London, 1597

This is a work of fanfiction, based on the anime and manga series Inuyasha by Rumiko Takahashi, which still belongs to her, not to me, of course.

This is a short story inspired by RosieB's Beside You in Time Inuyasha fanfiction. You can assume it all happens between chapter 2 and 3 of her story. It's a kind of fanfiction to a fanfiction if you like. RosieB's characters remain her own, of course. You hear? I did not invent them! It was all her!

Sorry to all Shakespeare-philes for liberties I took with him, his sexual orientation, the things he says and the way he behaves and looks. I tried to be as gentle as possible. I happen to like him myself, although he's the one who wrote the ending to Taming of the Shrew.

Words, expressions and characters used here were stolen from: William Shakespeare, Terry Pratchett, Rumiko Takahashi, many others. Also much thanks to Wikipedia and many other sites for their articles about: The Admiral's men, The Chamberlain's men, Ben Jonson, William Shakespeare, Shakespeare Sonnets (especially 144 and 149), tomatoes, Shakespeare plays, Earl of Southampton, Rubens, Rembrandt, Brueghel, Elizabeth I Regina, The Great Plague and The Fire of London, the Stuarts, Cromwell, the Glorious Revolution, the French Revolution, and many more. Also: Fairs of Elizabethan England by Margaret T. Hodgen. Certain character inspiration comes from a dialogue Romeo and Juliet, but it's very obscure, I dare you to find it.

I realised that writing historical fiction forces a writer to do a lot of research (I know, for instance, that I should've done more for this one): hat off to you RosieB, for wanting to write a long historical fic.

Warning: This story plays in Elizabethan London. Expect sex, cannibalism, alcohol, bestiality, bad dress sense, racism, violence, feces, diseases, bad Shakespeare quotes, bad use of 2nd person singular pronouns and verb conjugation. And Yaoi. If you don't find any of the above then read again. If you find them all, go see Freud.

And finally, sorry about the long author's note.

London, 1597

She threaded her way through the crowd and tried to keep her expression neutral under the bonnet she was wearing to conceal her foreign face from inquisitive eyes. By now, she spoke English quite well, understood what people spoke, but still looked as always. Potentially, she knew, she would look the way she looked now for centuries.

The way from the house she lived in now to the city was rather lengthy, mostly undertaken by boat on the Thames, but today she had walked here. She wasn't on an errand, just wanted to pass some time and go shopping for a while. Leaning on a house, she spotted a book stall, to which she turned, avoiding a large woman with a live hen in her basket and her teenaged daughter, who fiddled with the long skirts of her dress. Now that she had the time to read more, she liked to look for books and little pamphlets that were printed in London.

She looked through the quartos and the occasional folio, printed on dirty whitish paper, fingered a Holy Bible. She knew that buying and preserving a few of those for three or four hundred years could potentially make her very rich in the long run, but mostly she bought and read the books whenever she could afford them, for fun and education, trying to understand the way renaissance people thought and lived. Next to the book stall a Dutch painter offered his services with a few paintings leaning on the house wall. She looked through a stack of paintings there; saw some rather good Holbein reproductions, a portrait of Henry VIII and some of his wives Anne and Jane. If she really wanted to get rich, she supposed, she should go to the Netherlands in a few years, and wait for Rembrandt to be born, or go now to seduce Rubens into painting her. She looked down on her own skinny body… no, Rubens would most probably not be tempted. But perhaps a Brueghel painting could be located in Brussels and bought for an affordable price... a girl needed to plan for a long future, after all.

A light tap on her shoulder brought her back to reality. The painter smiled at her in a kind of self-assured way good-looking men tend to have, and said:

"I've never seen a face like yours, Mistress…?"

Kagome smiled faintly, taking a step back. He was blond and blue-eyed, tall and well-built, and dressed in a way that almost certainly broke the Sumptuary Laws in some way. He looked like he still had all his teeth. Inwardly, she grinned. How the criteria changed with times.

Noticing her silence, he continued: "Your face! The stuff dreams are made on! How I would like to paint you! Will you allow me to do it? Your eyes are irresistible."

She shook her head, unwilling to leave a trace of her existence in these times, but tempted, and flattered, too.

The bookseller from the nearby stall, a good-looking dark haired fellow with green eyes, strolled over to them, and made a complicated bow to Kagome.

"You certainly should not waste time with this scoundrel, Mistress," he said. "He is known to flatter all the pretty ladies that come to his stall."

"What, sir, thou standest in mine sun!" the painter exclaimed and stepped between the newcomer and Kagome, who made an effort not to giggle. Those two seemed to have lots of fun even without her; the whole scene looked like an old game to both of them. When she turned to go, both men pleaded with her not to, not before she at least bought something, and told them her name, and promised her hand in marriage.

"I am Reinecke the Painter," the painter said "the spawn of the devil over there is Reynard the Bookseller."

"Do not concern yourself with the knave, Mistress," the Bookseller said. "Do tell us your name."

"Kagome," she said. "I should leave, I'm afraid."

"You cannot leave us now, Mistress Kagome," Reynard said and turned her in direction of his books, away from Reinecke. "Look here, I see you are an interested reader, how about this little volume of tragedies? I went to see the Admiral's Men several days ago, and wrote down all the words as I heard them myself! Young Ben Jonson wrote most of them, I'm told."

"You're a rogue, that's what you are!" the painter said, pushing Kagome gently back to his paintings. "Look here, dearest Mistress Kagome, a painting of our beloved Queen's sainted Mother, by the great Holbein himself."

"By the great Reinecke, you mean," the bookseller said. "You're painting those by the dozen, one worse than the other."

"Gentle sirs," Kagome started. "I should…"

"We should catch a play in Shoreditch?" Reinecke said, without missing a beat. "Only you and I," he added. "Your virtue couldn't be safer than in a large crowd in the theatre? Lord Chamberlain's Men are playing A Midsommer Nights Dreame tonight. We should go, and perhaps you will allow me to, uh, buy you some gingerbread and treat you to a pint of ale afterwards?"

"What could be more proper than two gentlemen escorting a young lady?" Reynard said. "I shall treat you to a baked apple, my lady, and sweet Spanish wine."

"Spanish wine?" Reinecke said suspiciously. "Art thou in league with the Spaniards now, knave?"

"Art thou not from the Spanish province of Netherlands, knave?" Reynard answered, to which Reinecke grinned and offered his hand.

"Peace, neighbour!" he said.

And so, although Kagome knew very well that she should not go forth with two men she did not know, she did. They were a funny pair, and she felt like she had outgrown most of the dangers that could befall a young woman of her age – her age! Somehow, too, she felt safe with these two good-looking young men.

The two put away their merchandise in a storeroom they, as she found out, rented together, and then walked with her up to Shoreditch, not a short way from the river where they stood. Westminster in their back, they walked slowly through the smelly city. For a short while they were not quite sure whether the play was staged at The Theatre or at The Curtain, until Reynard finally remembered that The Theatre had closed a year ago. Soon they arrived at the venue, where a large crowd was waiting to enter. It was midsummer's night, and the play was accurately chosen, and Kagome almost died for disappointment, because she thought they wouldn't get tickets, and she wouldn't get to see a genuine Shakespeare play with Shakespeare on stage. Especially since Midsummer Night's Dream hadn't been on the program since last summer, and she hadn't thought she would get to see it at all.

Reynard produced one of his complicated bows again and disappeared in the crowd with a reassured smile on his face. Kagome saw the back of his dark head, and then it vanished from sight.

"No worries, Mistress Kagome," Reinecke said. "He will get us into the house tonight. May I get you something to drink, meanwhile?"

"Do you think Mr. Shakespeare will be on the stage tonight?" Kagome asked.

Reinecke laughed.

"Not quite!" he said. "Perhaps he'll sit in the audience with young Henry Wriothesley and his new favourite, the Lord Spenser."

Kagome bleached, but Reinecke went on:

"If I know Reynard at all, he'll probably get us seats where you'll sit right next to Mr. Shakespeare. How would you like that?"

"Oglhr-g-reat," Kagome mumbled in the cup of ale he'd given her.

Perhaps this Lord Spenser was not her Lord Spenser. Who was she kidding? Of course it would be Sesshoumaru. He was a veritable Shakespeare fanboy these days, spending time with him and hoarding the man's plays and sonnets. Sometimes she thought Sesshoumaru did not need her to point out things and people which would become important in the future, because he seemed to know anyway. On the other hand, Reinecke was probably making fun when he said that Reynard would find them seats right next to the Burbage seats. They would be lucky to get in at all! And even if they did, they would probably be so far from the stage that Sesshoumaru would never see her. Not that she feared him seeing her, but she felt it would be awkward.

She looked up and noticed that Reinecke was sniffing her hair. When he saw himself caught, he grinned unselfconsciously and shrugged. For the briefest of moments, he reminded her of someone, a face, a memory she hadn't thought of in a long time, and yet was always on her mind.

"Shall we get you a fan, milady?" he asked, and offered her his arm. Together they strolled here and there between the stalls and the hawkers. The place was rather crowded, and Kagome could hear scraps of conversations around her.

"My boy Johnny says Burbage's almost done with The Globe… moving in next year…"

"I bet the man is shaking his spear at Southampton, heh, heh…"

"Honeyed dates! Oh, you shouldn't have!"

"I've gotten three right next to the Burbage seats, is that alright for you, Mistress Kagome?"

Kagome found herself looking into Reynard's smiling face, and sighed.

"You really are something, Master Reynard," she said, inwardly groaning.

How did this man manage to get them the best seats in the house? She should be welcoming her good luck, but her good luck was somewhat dampened by the prospect of sitting way too close for comfort to Lord Spenser on her free day!

They made their way to the entrance. Kagome kept close to Reinecke and kept her eyes on her pockets where she hid some of her allowance and a knife. Once they were stuck in the crowd, waiting for entry, she found herself wedged firmly between the two men. Reynard bowed down to her ear and pointed out to her some interesting people; a man missing half his nose, and two youngish women, whose affections were negotiable, and between smiling and nodding, Kagome noticed that he, too, tried to catch her smell. Now she felt somewhat creeped out.

"Please, stop that," she said, and he indeed stood upright again.

"I must apologise, Mistress Kagome, but…"

"You have something about you, something that appeals…" Reinecke fell in.

"… to us." finished Reynard. "I cannot say whether it is your smell. Be not worried, though, no harm will come to you from us."

"Your virtue is safe, as is your life," Reinecke said. "Look, it's going forward!"

They went forward, and Kagome followed, quietly looking at their faces. The one was fair, the other dark, but still they looked alike, not like brothers, but now, in the half-darkness of the entrance, their faces were pointy and fierce, with black holes for eyes, alive with spirit and roguishness. They looked, Kagome conceded, like they belonged to the same… species… which was odd, because, presumably, they belonged to the same species as she.

They entered the theatre and were ushered to their places, and as promised, the both of them, now looking less pointy to Kagome in the increased light of the torches and candles around the stage, sat her right next to the seat where Shakespeare might sit as soon as he came in. Kagome tensed in her seat, but smiled a strained smile, thinking that, once again, her curiosity and lack of prudence had brought her into an awkward situation.

Soon, the house filled, the audience loud and bawdy. Kagome saw people carrying what looked like a picnic to enjoy during the show. She was so caught up in looking around that she did not notice that the seats to her left had occupants, until she turned around again and came face to back with her own Lord Spenser – and stilled.

He did not look at her, although she knew that he was aware of her – how could he not be? He saw everything. His attention was on his companions, a balding man in his early thirties perhaps and a somewhat younger man with reddish blond hair and the face of an angel.

Reinecke, from behind her back, whispered: "That's Earl of Southampton, Henry Wriothesley."

Kagome looked at the man who sat directly next to Sesshoumaru and had his hand on Sesshoumaru's knee and kept putting it there despite Lord Spenser's best efforts to remove it. To see the great demon lord so brought a smile to her lips. She wondered whether Sesshoumaru was holding back from killing him because it would mean killing one of the most famous authors of all time or because he actually liked Shakespeare.

Then Sesshoumaru turned his head to look at her. Kagome knew this yellow look that, on bad days, managed to reduce her to nothing. He was not angry at all, just slightly surprised and annoyed at seeing her sitting right next to him in a theatre, in a seat she probably could not afford. His gaze briefly went to her companions, and his lids twitched almost imperceptibly in irritation – Kagome only saw it because she was so intensely focused on him.

"Good evening, Lord Spenser," she croaked. He nodded. From behind his shoulder, his seating neighbour demanded that he introduce her.

"This is a servant of my house," Sesshoumaru said arrogantly. Kagome, gnashing her teeth, nodded in their general direction. "Her name is Kagome, I think."

"Your servant, My Lord? I'd remember her name if she were my servant," Wriothesley pitched in with a laugh. Kagome could not read his pretty face, but despite his not quite respectable joke he seemed friendly. Behind her, her fair and dark escorts leaned closer.

"Who are you talking to, Mistress Kagome?" Reynard asked.

"Shakespeare," said Shakespeare and nodded to them.

"Reynard the Bookseller. If you ever feel like publishing your plays, I have a printing press."

Shakespeare sighed. "Everyone wants me to print something these days. Why don't you just write everything down and print it under your own name, just like every other fly-bitten scut in this town."

"No need to be a churl tonight, Will," Wriothesley said, and Shakespeare smiled a little wearily.

"No, I wouldn't. And my apologies to you, Mistress, for my lapse."

Kagome sputtered, but he had turned away his attention to Sesshoumaru, who was still intently looking at Reinecke and Reynard. His companion asked something and pulled his sleeve, and he turned slowly, not without baring his pointy teeth at both of them first.

As soon as it could be assumed that everyone in the audience had taken their seats, some of the lights in the auditorium were extinguished, and Theseus, Hippolyta, Philostrate and some other people entered the stage.

The performance proved to be fascinating and repulsive to Kagome at the same time. Theseus was a large man with a booming voice, while Hippolyta was a thin, very young man who spoke in a high falsetto voice. More people came on the stage, left again. All the women's roles were played by men. The audience did not get much quieter, so to be heard, the actors on the stage had to speak very loudly. In Kagome's view, the acting was terrible. The men on the stage were overacting and making the audience laugh with bawdy impromptu jokes. A look to the right showed her that her Dynamic Duo was immensely entertained by the play. A look to the left showed her that Sesshoumaru's attention was firmly focused on her Dynamic Duo.

She nudged him very slightly, as not to receive a punishing punch or something alike from him. He paid her no attention.

She sighed and tried to watch Shakespeare instead. He was concentrating deeply on the happenings on the stage, sometimes moving his mouth with the lines the actors spoke on the stage. Wriothesley next to him stroked his moustache and when he saw that Kagome was looking around; he caught her eye and winked at her. She felt herself turning red, just like one of those new Love Apples that had been brought from the Americas and Gerard's Herbal claimed were poisonous.

Sesshoumaru instantly turned his head to the young man and gave him a look, then resumed his observation of Reinecke and Reynard, who were laughing with the rest of the audience, shouting out to the actors and decimating the honeyed dates one of them had bought. Wriothesley immediately turned to the stage, as if under compulsion. Had Sesshoumaru just intimidated the Earl of Southampton into not flirting with her? Why ever would he do that? And why was he looking at her friends with such animosity?

Reinecke then put an arm around Kagome's shoulder. She didn't mind, and laughed when he whispered silly things about Titania's manly attitude into her ear and fed her dates in irregular intervals. She felt Sesshoumaru next to her become tense, but she decided that she didn't care, and concentrated on the glory and horror of Elizabethan theatre, until Puck delivered his apology to the audience.

Kagome was still completely in awe and horror from her first taste of theatre when Reinecke pulled her to her feet. Holding both her hands in his, he said:

"You ought to go dancing with us, Mistress Kagome. Next week, at the fair down in Greenwich? Say you'll come."

Reynard came to her other side. "Let's go find somewhere to sit and drink and chat. The night is still young."

Kagome looked at Sesshoumaru and found that he was also leaving his seat, the back of his dark blue doublet turned to her. Since she had probably just kissed her reputation goodbye anyway, by attending a theatre play, she might as well go have some more fun. She had no idea why she'd thought that Sesshoumaru might object, or even care where she was going. She turned away briskly and let herself be escorted to the exit. They dodged a fight that had broken out between some men in the audience, and Kagome saw how Reynard, pretending innocence, pushed a not very nice smelling man who seemed aggressively to want to discuss things with him face-forward into a heap of horse droppings. A small laugh escaped her, and they ran the other way, finding themselves at the edge of the slowly dissolving crowd.

"That was very entertaining, you two," Kagome laughed. "The evening, not the brawl."

"Are you coming with us to the Bear and the Boar Tavern?" Reynard asked, and she nodded. She was certainly old enough to drink. Even while she was nodding, she sensed a wave of cold disapproval, something she had gotten used to by now.

"What ho, Mistress, I do hope you are planning on taking us with you," young Henry Wriothesley said, coming closer. Right after him came Shakespeare, Sesshoumaru bringing up the rear. His gaze went over Kagome, pausing very shortly on her, to rest firmly and coldly on the blonde and dark heads next to Kagome.

"The first time Spenser here has allowed to drag him along to a tavern, can you imagine? This man is dry as a desert," the playwright said with a surprisingly captivating little smirk. "And then we find you again, dear Mistress Kagome, in this large crowd. A happy coincidence we went this way, Spenser, as you suggested."

As one, they moved to Bear and the Boar which was just around the corner. Reynard walked right next to Sesshoumaru.

"Do you believe in coincidences, milord?" he asked quietly.

"Firmly," Sesshoumaru said. Reynard laughed.

In the dark night of the streets that was only poorly illuminated by the occasional torch, Kagome noticed that both her friends had this pointy look to them again. While Sesshoumaru seemed unimpressed, Shakespeare and his patron Wriothesley unconsciously walked a little faster in front of them, talking and not looking back.

She was relieved when they reached the tavern that had a sign over the door showing a bear and a boar, although the sign somehow reminded her somewhat of a giant duck eating a piece of bread rather than what it proposed to be.

Just before she entered, she saw people outside warming their hands with their breath and heard a man say that it was a chill summer night. She realised it had been a long time since she had felt real cold or heat – or rather, she did feel it, but neither bothered her in the way it had before.

Inside, she saw banks and rough-hewn tables, straw mats on the floor to soak up ale spills and worse, dogs who stood to attention when Sesshoumaru ducked his head to fit under the door. Reynard came in right behind him and winked at Kagome.

"He'll be right in," he said, meaning his friend, the painter. "Just getting rid of something outside." Shakespeare laughed at that.

The smell was terrible, and got worse when they all sat down. Kagome found herself between the Earl of Southampton and the playwright, ale in front of her. Thrilled to sit right next to one of the greatest authors in history – at least one who became famous enough to get carried on by generations of an aggressive, dominant, conquering culture to every corner of the world – she set out to question him about his life and work. She was horrified when she found out that he hadn't yet written a play about murder and madness in Denmark, nor the one about murder, madness and witchcraft in Scotland, just when she had been about to discuss it with him at length. At least she could remember that an unauthorised quarto edition of Romeo and Juliet had come out earlier that year, much to Shakespeare's anger. She suspected that the source of this poorly written edition might be sitting in the same room as they, and flirting with the serving wench, who obviously liked his dark hair, green eyes and the complicated bow he performed for her when she brought more ale.

Shakespeare joked from behind his tankard and called Kagome "dark lady" and a naughty girl and promised he'd send over a sonnet to her. She decided to keep this evening in her mind when she went back to being Sesshoumaru's "servant" again. Reinecke, who had come inside a bit later, played a counting game with her and tried to sniff her fingers until Lord Spenser accidentaly spilled his beer over his trouser leg.

Eventually, the mood wound down to a drowsy sleepiness. Kagome did not feel drunk, just a little tired when she decided that she would like to walk back home. She got on her feet. Wriothesley blinked at her, Shakespeare leaning against him and snoring softly.

"Guess we should ask if there's a room here for us to sleep," he murmured.

"I'm going home," Kagome decreed. Sesshoumaru got up immediately, startling her with his swiftness. Reinecke and Reynard decided that they wanted to go, too, and would come with her to protect her on her way.

They made sure Wriothesley and Shakespeare had a safe bed for the night, then turned to go. She was surprised when Sesshoumaru made clear that he would join them instead of staying with his friends, but she did not argue. He had been odd the whole evening.

"We'll call on your next week, Spenser," Wriothesley said.

"Wher' you all going?" Shakespeare asked drowsily.

"The dark lady is taking the fair youth away, Will," Wriothesley joked.

"I'll write a sonnet about it," Shakespeare said. Kagome laughed and, encouraged by the playwright's helpless state, she spontaneously bowed down and gave him a kiss on the cheek before they left the inn.

Outside, the night's darkest hour was full of stars, despite the fog that gathered in narrow corners on the ground. Kagome was leading the way, the other three coming after her. No one spoke. She gradually became aware of the tension behind her back. If she had eyes in the back of her head, she was sure that all of the three males walking behind her would look pointy again, perhaps even hairy, with black holes for eyes and predator teeth in their mouths.

She slowed down slightly, so that Reinecke was at the same height as her. He caught her arm to walk with her and bowed his head down to her hair, forgetting where he was. He inhaled, frowned a little.

"It's not the smell," he murmured to himself.

A pale arm with extended claws and stripes landed on his shoulder before the nails buried themselves into his skin, right through his clothes.

Kagome saw Sesshoumaru's camouflage spell slip when he turned Reinecke to him. Before he could do or say anything, Reynard jumped between them and slapped Sesshoumaru's hand away.

"Stand back, cur," he snarled. "He's done nothing to you."

Sesshoumaru snarled, allowing his mask to slip completely. "What are you?" he asked.

Reynard put an arm around Kagome and put his nose right under her ear. "It really isn't the smell," he agreed. Still not feeling in the least imperilled, she had to suppress a giggle, because his nose was tickling her.

"Shall we feel insulted, cousin?" Reinecke asked Reynard. "He's our own kin, and does not recognise us in the least."

Reynard laughed. "Ah, but he is a lesser fox, cousin, only a dog."

Sesshoumaru relaxed slightly, especially when he saw that Kagome's instincts still refused to find the young men dangerous. She looked from one to the other.

"Tricksters!" she said and nudged Reinecke away from her. "I should have known!"

Reynard shifted a little, then some more, shrinking down to a much smaller size.

"Kitsune!" Sesshoumaru stated, in Kagome's opinion quite needlessly.

"Vos," Reinecke supplied, in Dutch. "The red fox. The humans have started hunting us for sport, with dogs, so we thought, why not hide and wait? I like London."

Kagome crouched down to bring her face down to the fox and stroke his luxurious fur. Reynard, in his four-legged form, almost began salivating in bliss. Reinecke quickly morphed into his animal shape and circled her.

"I should have known you have a penchant for tricksters," Sesshoumaru said in resignation.

"Now I know why I've felt so good with the two of you today," Kagome said. "You remind me of someone."

"They are not to be trusted," Sesshoumaru decreed. "You will not pick up every stray in this city if you want our association to continue."

Reynard turned back into his human form and picked Kagome up, holding her in his arms like a princess who had tripped over something, possibly a fox. Reinecke joined him a second later in his human form, looking fiercely at Sesshoumaru.

"Not a problem," he said. "We're going to take care of Mistress Kagome."

She struggled to stand on her own feet, feeling quite ridiculous.

"Really," she said, smoothing down her skirts when she stood on the ground between the silly canines. "You need not fear for me. Lord Se… Spenser needs me too much to let me go just like that. And I'll be staying in London for a while so you needn't fear not seeing me," she added. "I'll be around for a long time."

"But he just said… and there is this thing in you…"

Kagome smiled.

"When I left the country of my birth, my child gave me a present. He…"

"You left your child?" Reinecke asked, appalled.

"He was grown up. It was time," she said with hurt in her voice.

"How old could he be?" Reynard asked. "You're a child yourself."

Kagome laughed. "I'm older than you'd think. Ask Lord Spenser."

"I'm not asking the dog anything!" Reynard said. "He's not to threaten you."

"My child left me with a special present: the love of foxes. He was a little fox demon when we found each other, and now he is grown up, perhaps on his way to found a family of his own. You have no choice but to love me. Now that you know, you're free to leave." And she turned towards Sesshoumaru who was standing in the half-dark of a building, his face in the shadows.

"Mistress Kagome!"

"Yes?" she said, without turning.

"It's not only the love of foxes, but also the love you have for foxes, right? We're going to the fair together next week?"

She smiled in relief. "If my lord grants me a day off," she said, and continued walking. She did not look back, but she felt how they shape-shifted once again, and ran down to the river, where they, presumably, had their lodgings.

She came to stand in front of Sesshoumaru and looked up at his face with the crescent moon.

"I will collect as many strays as I like, Lord Sesshoumaru," she said. "The love of foxes and anyone else who might come my way. You'll see it's not only nice for me, but also useful for you. It's good to have friends, people who will tell you the news, and give you a present from time to time, maybe come around on your birthday and throw you in the air until you get hiccups from laughing. Get you out of jail, feed you and hide you and teach you, slap you when you need it and perhaps even hug you. You'll see," she said when he did not attempt to answer.

She took his hand in hers experimentally and saw him flinch. She let it fall again and started to walk, nodding contentedly when he turned to walk with her. It was to be a long hike to his home outside town.

She talked to keep herself awake, and because she did not like silence. Sesshoumaru was big on silence.

"… and perhaps you should start studying German when you've learned French... I'll read up on anatomy, maybe learn Latin?… I'm interested in medicine… probably should not claim to see germs until they've been discovered by, uh, someone… but I'm interested in herbal medicines… did you know that they're burning witches here? I wouldn't like that… if we live to the 19th century, I swear I'll take you to Vienna to see Freud… who Freud is?... let me tell you one thing… you need that man… yeah, I like Chinese noodles… I wish I could make some… actually, do we have wheat flour? I could cook some Japanese food, perhaps… where do we get soy sauce at this time of the millennium?... maybe we should move to Paris soon… I'd like that eventually… "

They didn't read books together, and they did not discuss them at breakfast either. But they both loved books. And if she cooked ramen, maybe he'd eat them, even if he did not sit down at the table with her. Kagome looked toward the east, where the fog was getting lighter. Sometimes she did not know whether she even wanted to make a companion of Sesshoumaru. On the other hand, she knew that everyone else would die away or change, and that he probably was the only constant left in her life, that they had to hang on to each other, like it or not.

The next day, it was a Sunday, Kagome received a sheet of paper, folded and sealed, with a sonnet numbered 144, and laughed while she read it. Meanwhile, Sesshoumaru unfolded a sheet of paper from the same sender. On it, he read two lines. The poet spoke his own words:

Canst thou, O cruel! say I love thee not,
When I against myself with thee partake?