A1969: yay! Sequel! Bet you all didn't see that one coming now, did you?
Inuyasha: dammit...and I thought we were finally rid of you!
Kagome: ignore Inuyasha.
A1969: I was about to. Anyway, Inuyasha—disclaimer.
Inuyasha: I thought you were ignoring me?
A1969: disclaimer.
Inuyasha: keh! The idiot doesn't own anything except for the OC's and the damn plot.
A1969: oh, and thank you all so much for the reviews on the last chapter of Strings of Fate! Note: I tried to make this one funny, but be warned—sometimes, I really have a corny sense of humor.

Summary:

It's been a year since Helen left, but she unwillingly returns to Japan just as a new threat surfaces. Sesshoumaru goes to the Modern Era to protect her and tries to win her back. But he ultimately discovers two things—one, she hates his guts, and two—he's got competition. Again.

Chapter One: The Job and The Introspection

XoXoXo

The moon was beautifully full in the sky, with a ring slowly forming around it. In three or four days, the ring around the moon would be complete. The silvery light bathed a woman standing near the lake of her garden, her violet eyes fixed warily on the moon, at the ring that slowly formed around it. This ring had a subtle silver glow to it that only demonic eyes could see. She sighed, worried.

"You've noticed it too, Shinsuke?" a voice asked.

Lady Shinsuke glanced over her shoulder. A woman was making her way towards her, a woman with silver hair, beautiful golden eyes, a jagged striped marking on each side of her cheek, and a crescent moon on her forehead.

"Ah, Takeida," Lady Shinsuke said as her friend stood beside her. "Of course, I've noticed."

"It's nearly time, isn't it?" Lady Takeida asked. For once, both dog demonesses were serious.

"Indeed."

Lady Takeida sighed. "Has it really been five hundred years already?" She sighed again. "Five hundred years...the years have gone by so fast." They were both silent again.

"It can't be helped," Lady Takeida muttered. "In three or four days, the ring will be complete—and she will be free."

"And vengeful," Lady Shinsuke pointed out.

There was silence again. "Ah, well," Lady Takeida said, turning on her heel. "Come on, Shinsuke, we have much to discuss."

Lady Shinsuke took one last glance up at the moon and, sighing, turned and followed Lady Takeida.

XoXoXo

Sesshoumaru was aggravated.

He glanced at Rin and Jaken, who were both up to their knees in the stream, trying to catch fish. "Master Jaken, over there!" Rin screamed, pointing to a fish that darted between Jaken's skinny knees.

"Where? Oh, there! Wait, you stupid fish! I got—!" Jaken slipped on the smooth, slimy pebbles and vanished beneath the waters.

"Master Jaken, where are you?!" Rin called out, looking at a spot where bubbles broke the surface of the water. "Master Jaken!"

"I'm alive!" Jaken gasped as his head broke the surface. He took deep lungfuls of air and coughed.

"Master Jaken, look!" Rin pointed to his head, at his hat.

Jaken felt something squirming there. He tugged his hat off, and a fish fell into his other open hand. "Ha!" the toad demon screeched triumphantly. "I told you I'd get it!"

"Good for you, Master Jaken!"

Normally, Sesshoumaru would be amused, but not today. He was sitting underneath the tree, watching them. Aggravation. Why did he feel so aggravated all the time? Was it because there had been no sign of Naraku for nearly a year now? Was it because Jaken seemed to be complaining all the time? Was it because he had received a summons from his honorable mother two days ago, which he ignored? Or, was it because he missed...?

No, of course not. He didn't miss her. He didn't need her—he needed no one. But then, why was he so aggravated all the time? It must be Jaken, he decided.

"Lord Sesshoumaru, look!" Rin crowed as she and Jaken climbed out of the stream. Rin was holding a string of several large fish in her little fist. "Master Jaken and I got sooo much fish!"

Sesshoumaru didn't answer. At that moment, the wind picked up speed. He stood up as a familiar scent permeated the air.

"Don't tell me she's back?!" Jaken said, as he and Rin stopped in front of Sesshoumaru.

Sesshoumaru narrowed his eyes as fallen leaves swirled in front of him. The wind picked up speed, and the leaves swirled even faster than before. The wind died down and as the leaves fell to the ground, a woman materialized amidst the haze of falling leaves. Her green hair whipped around her face, and her wise eyes.

"Lord Sesshoumaru," she said, bowing to him, and then straightening.

"Chihiro," he said, narrowing his eyes at Lady Shinsuke's most trusted head-maid.

"My Lady and your honorable Mother request your presence immediately, Lord Sesshoumaru," Chihiro announced, her tone hiding the most subtle trace of urgency.

Sesshoumaru looked coldly at her. In the last two days, she had come and said the same thing, and in the last two days, he had ignored her requests, mainly because Lady Shinsuke also wanted to see him, and Lady Shinsuke meant only one thing...But now, it was the third time that Chihiro had come, and he knew that it would be disrespectful and improper of him to refuse his Mother, even though he was the Lord of the Western Lands.

"Very well," he conceded.

XoXoXo

"Kagome, you're going to be late!" She felt not-so-gentle hands shaking her furiously awake.

Kagome Higurashi's brown eyes flew open, and she looked up to see her mother's eyes looking down at her. "Mama?" she asked groggily.

"You're going to be late, dear," her mother repeated.

Kagome's mind immediately sharpened, throwing off the grogginess of sleep. "What?!" she shrieked, grabbing her pink alarm clock from the bedside table. Her eyes widened when she saw the time. "No!" Quick as a flash, she threw the blankets off her and darted to her closet, yanking out her school uniform.

"I'll go heat your breakfast," Mrs. Higurashi said, as she left the room.

"No, Mama!" Kagome called, as she pulled off her pyjamas. "I'll just have a piece of toast!" She hurriedly put on her school uniform, not even bothering to fold her pyjamas which fell to the floor in a messy heap. She hastily pulled on her socks, not even bothering to sit down. She wobbled as she hopped on one foot, pulling the sock frantically onto the other, and nearly losing her balance. She pulled on the other sock, hurriedly brushed her hair, and ran out the door, nearly tripping on her pyjamas on the floor.

She dashed down the stairs and slid the door to the kitchen open, frantic. "Hey," a familiar voice greeted, the moment she opened the doors.

Kagome fell down, anime-style. "Inuyasha?!" she exclaimed, as she stood up, glaring at the young man who sat down at the table, Buyo, her fat cat, in his lap.

The young man named Inuyasha raised his eyebrows at her hectic expression. He had long silver hair that fell past his waist, and two dog ears sticking out the top of his head, his trademark as a half dog demon. He wore a red haori and red hakama. There was a sheathed sword strapped to his waist. He held Buyo's two palms in each of his clawed hands, making the poor cat try to dance.

"What are you doing here?!" Kagome exclaimed. "And put my cat down!"

"Yeesh, never a morning person, are you?" Inuyasha said, not letting Buyo go. "I've come to take you back, of course."

"I can't go back now!" Kagome screeched. "Are you crazy?!"

"No," Inuyasha said. Then he did something that made Kagome realize that something was wrong. He let go of Buyo. The cat fell to the floor with a muffled thud, and Inuyasha's became intense. "We have to go back, Kagome."

"Why?" she asked, pushing school from her mind. There were other more important things right now.

"There's something funny going on," Inuyasha announced, as he pushed his chair back, and stood up. "Something's not right."

"Naraku?" It had been nearly a year since they had last seen him.

"No," Inuyasha said, shaking his head. "Something else. I don't know what it is, but Miroku thinks it's something dangerous, obviously."

"Where are the others?"

"At Kaede's, where else?"

Kagome sighed. And all her morning rush for nothing! She turned to her mother, who was bustling around with the toast. "Mama, I won't need those," she said, sighing. "I'm going back to the Feudal Era..."

Her Mother smiled and pushed a stack of toast into her hands. "Eat them on the way," she said. "It's blueberry jam—your favorite. And don't worry, I'll call the school." She smiled again.

Kagome nodded and pecked her mother lightly on the cheek. "Thank you, Mama!"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

"Kagome, you're back!" Sango greeted as Kagome and Inuyasha traipsed into Kaede's hut. Everyone was gathered there. Miroku was sitting next to Sango, as always. Sango sat next to Kohaku, with Shippou sitting on her shoulder. Kirara was lying on Sango's lap, letting her mistress stroke her cream colored fur. Kaede was sitting opposite them, across the cold fire pit in the center of the hut.

"Hey, guys!" Kagome said as she sat next to Kaede. Inuyasha sat behind her, against the wall, folding his arms across his chest. She nibbled a piece of toast from the stack she carried, and politely offered some to the others.

Miroku rolled his eyes. "Just eat, Kagome," he said. "We have a lot to talk about."

"Can I have some, Kagome?" Shippou asked, bounding over to her. She gladly gave him the remaining pieces of toast, and turned to the others just as Shippou seated himself on her lap.

"So, what's this all about?" Kagome asked.

"For the past three days, there's been a high concentration of energy forming at the moon," Miroku went on.

"The moon?" Kagome said. "Do you think that Kaguya...?"

"She's long gone," Sango said. "This has to be something else."

"Naraku...?"

Inuyasha shook his head. "It's far too powerful to be Naraku," he pointed out. "I think I told you that earlier."

"But, if it's not Naraku," Kagome said. "Then what...?"

"We don't know," Miroku said. "But...maybe it has something to do with the ring that's forming around the moon?" He sounded unsure. "In any case, this is something we can't ignore."

They were all silent for a moment, and then Inuyasha spoke up. "Dammit," he growled. "We're going to have to act like heroes again, aren't we?"

XoXoXo

He could hear them talking.

Sesshoumaru stopped just outside the doors to the reception hall, where Lady Shinsuke received her imperious guests. He quickly sealed his scent and aura. A little eavesdropping never hurt now, did it?

"...will he agree, though?" Lady Shinsuke was saying. Agree...speculations ran throughout his mind, each guess more wild and unlikely than the next.

"He will," Lady Takeida said. "I'm sure of it. Of course, he might need a little persuading..."

"So, you are not entirely sure about his acquiescing?" Lady Shinsuke asked.

Acquiescing to what?

"Why don't we ask him ourselves?" Lady Takeida said dryly. "Sesshoumaru, stop lingering there, and come in!"

He never really could fool her with hiding his scent and aura. She was his mother after all. Maintaining his dignity, Sesshoumaru unsealed his scent and aura with a mere shift of his will, slid open the door and entered the room. Lady Takeida was sitting across from Lady Shinsuke, a tray of tea in between them. The shutters were open to the garden, letting the warm sunlight permeate the room. A tiny breeze blew softly from the west.

"Did you actually think I wouldn't know you were there, my son?" Lady Takeida asked, amused.

Sesshoumaru said nothing as he entered the room and sat gracefully next to his mother. "To what do I owe the summons?" he asked indifferently.

"I have a job for you, my son," his mother said, smiling sweetly at him.

"I've no desire to waste my time."

"You're doing nothing."

"I am tracking Naraku."

"Well, now you won't," Lady Takeida said firmly. "As I've said, I've a job for you—one that you will do."

"And if I don't?"

"Are you talking back to your mother, young man?" Lady Takeida snapped.

Lady Shinsuke cleared her throat. "Sesshoumaru," she said, taking matters into her own hands. "Have you gazed up at the moon for the past few days?"

He narrowed his eyes at her, a subtle hint for her to go on. "Well, I'm sure you do," Lady Shinsuke went on. "There is a ring forming around the moon—a silver ring."

"That is none of my concern."

"On the contraire," Lady Shinsuke said, smiling. "It should be very much your concern."

"What do you mean?"

"Five hundred years ago," this time, it was Lady Takeida who spoke. "Just after you were born, Sesshoumaru, there was a powerful demoness who descended from the heavens—a celestial demoness, if you will. Very powerful, very beautiful, and virtually deadly. She descended from the heavens, and came here. Your Father would not have her here, for she causes havoc and chaos. Unfortunately, this demoness was far, far more powerful than your father...

"Her name is Sokoro. Long story short, Sesshoumaru, the four lords and ladies of the lands had to combine their power in order to seal her away. We bound her to the moon, but even then, we cannot be free of her. The seal we placed on her was not enough, and, after five hundred years, it would weaken, and Sokoro would break free, and seek revenge..." Her voice trailed off again, and she sighed. "Tomorrow, the ring around the moon will be complete, and Sokoro will break free..."

"You want me to kill her?" Sesshoumaru asked.

Lady Takeida's eyes widened. "Heavens, no, you arrogant fool!" she said, shocked. "You are no match for her"—he glared—"and she can easily kill you. Don't give me that look, Sesshoumaru! You're not always the most powerful thing out there, you know."

"Then why are you wasting my time?"

To his surprise, both Lady Takeida and Lady Shinsuke threw each other unsure glances. They both looked at him. "That is because..." his mother began.

He raised an eyebrow at her.

"You tell him, Shinsuke," Lady Takeida said.

Lady Shinsuke sighed. "The moment Sokoro breaks free, she will seek her revenge," she said. "However, that woman knows how to strike, and—"

"Obviously, she will destroy you both," Sesshoumaru pointed out.

His mother rolled his eyes. "I can see you're concerned if that should happen," she said sarcastically.

"If?" Sesshoumaru asked, ignoring his mother.

"As I've said," Lady Shinsuke went on. "She knows how to strike. She will not go for the lives of the ones who sealed her, no. She will take the lives of those who are dear to us."

"Then I should start hiding my azaleas," Lady Takeida muttered, getting back at Sesshoumaru.

Sesshoumaru ignored his mother. Those who were dear to them? He didn't like where this was going. "So, she will kill me," he said calmly.

Lady Shinsuke looked at him. "Not just you," she said softly. "I've never told anyone except Takeida...The real reason I sent Helen away in the first place, the real reason why I sealed her in a human body was so I could hide her from Sokoro."

Strange enough, his aggravation only increased at the mention of that one name. "And?" Sesshoumaru asked nonchalantly. "Helen is gone"—the aggravation increased tenfold—"and presumably safe in the Modern Era."

Lady Shinsuke sighed. "It's not that simple," she said. "Sokoro will look for her—for both of you. And then she will probably go after Lord Toshimaru and Lord Ragetsu's son, Lord Susanoo. And if you are about to ask why the both of you first...it was because of Takeida and I that Sokoro was immobilized long enough for the others to seal her away." She smiled wryly at him.

"And?" He had a sneaking suspicion of what would happen next.

"Your job, Sesshoumaru," his mother said, smiling an amused smile at him. "Is to go to the Modern Era and protect Helen. Of course, in the Modern Era, you'll probably be safe as well."

He glared at her. One—did she actually think that he, of all people, would rather be safe than in danger? And two—protecting Helen...that wasn't exactly what he wanted to do. In the year since he had last seen her, his aggravating feelings for her hadn't ebbed. They seemed to have gotten stronger, a classic case of absence that made the heart grow fonder. His answer was not unexpected.

"No."

Lady Shinsuke and Lady Takeida raised their eyebrows at him in unison. They had a strategy for this that they had prepared especially for the stubborn Sesshoumaru.

"And why not, my son?" Lady Takeida asked.

"She is none of my concern."

"Then you will let Sokoro kill her? Sokoro tends to go after those who are weakest, you see. No offense, Shinsuke."

"Perhaps."

"And what has Helen done to you, my son?"

"..."

"Do you have any good reason for not protecting her?"

"..."

"It can't be helped," Lady Takeida said, sighing. "I suppose Lord Toshimaru will have to do that, then."

Sesshoumaru stiffened.

The bastard Toshimaru...It had been a year since he had last seen his cousin, and he still felt like wringing his neck.

"You may leave, then Sesshoumaru," Lady Takeida said dismissively. "And call Chihiro on your way out, won't you? I'll have to get a message sent to Lord Toshimaru."

Sesshoumaru was painfully aware of the reverse psychology that they were using against him. He knew it would be petty to fall for it, but the thought of Helen with Toshimaru in the Modern Era—he didn't like it. He didn't like it at all.

"Not necessary," he said.

Once again, Lady Takeida and Lady Shinsuke raised their eyebrows at him in unison. "Why not, my son? We cannot leave Helen defenseless now, can we? And I am sure Lord Toshimaru would be more than happy to—"

"I will protect her," he said coldly.

Lady Takeida smiled at him, satisfied. If there was one thing she loved about being mother to one of the most powerful demons around, it was the fact that she knew how to push his buttons.

XoXoXo

The locker door slammed shut with a loud bang that made several heads turn in her direction. She grinned sheepishly at them. The students shrugged and went back to their own business—clearing out their lockers for the summer.

Helen sighed and leaned her forehead against the cold metal of her locker. All around her, she heard the bustling and roughhousing of students as they ran in the hallways, ramming into each other, some in their haste to get out and begin their summer, others in their haste to outrun the vengeful victims of their pre-summer pranks. Other students were more placid, walking along the hallway at a leisurely pace, and chatting happily with their friends. In other words, a normal school day that would be their last.

Helen sighed again. Was it her fault that she was upset because of the changes in her mother's wedding plans? No, it wasn't her fault. She frowned to herself as last week's conversation came back to mind...

"Helen, I've got wonderful news!" her mother had said. They were having dinner in the kitchen. Her mother's fiancée, Robert Blake, was not around, which was a first.

"News?" Helen had asked, looking up from her plate of rice. She beamed. "The bridesmaid's dresses are done?" Truth be told, she had been excited to try her dress out.

"No, silly!" Hsia had said, shaking her head. "Kagome's going to be a bridesmaid!"

"That's wonderful!" Helen exclaimed. But she had frowned, puzzled. "But...Kagome still has school, and I don't think she can come here at all—she needs to catch up on her studies, you know."

Hsia had only smiled mysteriously, waiting for Helen to figure it out. "She's coming here?" Helen asked, feeling the euphoria building.

"No, silly!" Hsia said, giggling. "Don't you get it yet? The wedding will be in Japan! It's still a Western style wedding, but it will be in Japan!"

Helen dropped her spoon with a loud clatter. "Japan?" she repeated. Japan only meant one thing (demon) and she didn't want to think about it. Because every time she did, she felt both hurt and angry, and she knew that she shouldn't, because it would be so unfair.

"Yes, Japan!"

"Mom," Helen said slowly. Her mother didn't know about what happened between her and...him. "You're wedding is in three months...you have so many preparations to make, so many details to take care of...I don't think you have that much time."

"Robert took care of everything!" Hsia gushed. "The certificates, everything! He even said your friends could come, if you want them to! And he's willing to pay for their tickets, too, isn't that nice?"

Ah Robert, good old, CEO Robert. Nothing against him, but, at times like these, why couldn't her mother just marry someone who didn't have a big pocket, and lots and lots of connections?

"Japan?" Helen repeated, wishing that this was just a dream.

"You'll get to see Kagome again, isn't that lovely?" Hsia said, her eyes glowing.

Helen faked a smile. "Yeah...it's lovely..."

Not.

Helen sighed and pressed her forehead even closer to her locker. Japan. Wow. That conversation had taken place last week and, tonight, she was to start packing her things. She didn't want to go, she honestly didn't. But it couldn't be helped. She knew it was selfish of her to put her personal problems ahead of her mother's happiness, and she decided to set that aside. After all, it wasn't like she was going to see him again, right? Though, of course, once in Japan, running into the 'bipolar bastard', as Kagome once called him, was inevitable.

She sighed and straightened up. Her hand clasped the necklace she wore, the Hitoku Ishi, which hid her demonic form under an illusion. She felt a pang of nostalgia as she felt her fingers brush against the cold blue stone. Her demoness mother, Lady Shinsuke, had given it to her so she could come back to the Modern Era...She actually missed Lady Shinsuke...

"Helen!" several squealed, catching her off guard.

Helen jumped, and dropped the books she had been carrying. She spun around, unknowingly flexing her claws, to come face to face with her four best friends, Andrea, Alicia, Terri and Emily.

"Guys!" Helen snapped, her heart throbbing. "Don't do that!"

Here was something rather pitiful—a dog demoness who couldn't even sense four human girls coming. This was all Japan's fault, she decided.

"Sorry," Terri said, giggling and not sounding repentant at all. "But we couldn't resist! You were so spaced out!"

"Can you blame her?" Alicia said, nudging Terri in the ribs. "After all, school is officially out for the summer, and tomorrow we're all going to Japan! Isn't Robert the best?"

"Yeah, you're all going to Japan," Terri said sourly as Emily nodded her head in agreement with Terri.

"Aw, come on, Ems, Ter...Can't you guys persuade your parents?" Andrea asked. The two sighed, and shook their heads.

Helen stiffened at the mention of Japan. Truth be told, she had honestly forgotten that they were leaving tomorrow. How strange. She could have sworn that she had remembered this morning, which was why she had felt so put off.

"Yeah, Robert's the best," Helen muttered as she bent down to pick up her books. Huh? Her books were gone. Instead, she found herself looking at a pair of dark brown shoes. She looked up to see Todd Clarke grinning down at her, her books stacked neatly in his arms.

"Hey," he said, as she straightened up. He handed her the books and grinned at her. "So, you guys are off to Japan, huh?"

"Yup," Andrea enthused.

"Definitely," Alicia quipped.

"Hm..." was all Helen could say.

"Too bad you're not going, Todd," Alicia said, sighing.

"Riiight," Todd said, rolling his eyes. "Anyway, you girls enjoy yourselves!" He ruffled Helen's dark tresses, and waved as he ran down the hallway, vanishing amidst a sea of students.

"So, Helen," Alicia said, turning to Helen, her eyes bright with enthusiasm. "You ready to take us around Japan? See the sights, and all? Aw, come on, Emily—at least you're going to Disneyland!"

"Hahaha, what joy," Emily said, rolling her eyes.

"Yeah, sure," Helen said, inwardly sighing. Why Japan? Why couldn't her mother get married someplace else nice? Let's say...Hawaii—that would be nice. She'd always wanted to go to Hawaii for the summer, anyway. But nooo. Fate had to taunt her, and fill her mother's head with Japan...She shook her head. Now was not the time to think about it. The least she could do was to help make her mother's wedding a success, in the very least. She would do that, she decided. After all, weddings meant being busy. And being busy meant having no time for anything else...especially the Feudal Era.

"Helen, did you hear me?" Andrea asked, gently shaking her friend's arm.

"What?" Helen asked.

"You're spacing out again!" Alicia said, giggling. "You all excited to take us around Japan? Oh, and I think it's best if you taught us Japanese while we're on the plane—"

"SCHOOL'S OUT!" several boys screamed, as they rushed down the hallway and towards the double doors and out to freedom.

"SUMMER, SUMMER, SUMMER, SUMMER, SUMMER!" boys cheered as they rushed out the doors.

Alicia, Andrea, Terri and Emily all laughed. "I like it when they do this every time," Terri said, giggling. "Makes it seem more official, you know."

Alicia and Andrea were squealing. "Excitement major!" they said, as the five of them traipsed out the school doors.

"Helen, what time should we be at your place tomorrow?" Andrea asked.

"Um...around six, I should think," Helen said, finally remembering the unwanted details of the trip. "Plane leaves at eight."

"Six?!" Alicia groaned. "Well, Japan better be worth it!"

Helen sighed and looked up at the afternoon sunlight, her thoughts wandering...

XoXoXo

Why on earth had he fallen for it again?

Sesshoumaru could think of nothing else as he returned to Rin and Jaken later that night. It was quite late, and both Rin and Jaken had fallen asleep against Ah-Un, who remained vigilant and alert. The shadows from the flickering campfire danced around the two inert forms sleeping against the dragon. At the sound of his master's approach, Ah-Un lifted both his heads and growled softly. Sesshoumaru glanced at him and the dragon lowered both his heads to get some sleep.

He sighed as he made his way towards a tree and sat underneath it. He stared up at the moon. The ring around it would be complete tomorrow, and then...

Was he really going to do this, though? Was he really going to risk his sanity and pride all for Helen's sake? It couldn't be helped. He had given his dear manipulative mother his word, and he was not going to break it. Though...he could have so easily refused. So why did he agree? It was one question he wanted answered. It was time for a little introspection. Something told him he was not going to be pleased with what he would discover. Nonetheless, it was necessary.

Of course, he told himself, he would do a better job of protecting Helen than Toshimaru. But why? Why did he agree to protect her? His mother's manipulation wasn't really that infallible, and he knew better than to fall for it.

You want to protect her. It had been so long since he had heard that annoying little voice in his head. It was no coincidence that the pesky voice returned now, of all times.

Why should I? Why should I protect someone who would only make me weak?

Why?

He wanted an answer. Now.

He sighed and inwardly growled. Tomorrow, he would go see Kagome and ask her to call Helen on those telephone things again. He wasn't really looking forward to seeing Kagome again. The last time he had talked to her, which had been a year ago, she had threatened to have Inuyasha lop off his head. She had been angry at him for hurting Helen, and who knows what that capricious miko would do now?

A year ago...

The moment he thought of his last meeting with Kagome, his last meeting with Helen came to mind. And how could it not? They both happened on the same day.

He remembered that day all too clearly. Helen, under the guise of a human, sitting at the well's edge, looking at him with a nonchalant look that barely concealed the sadness in her eyes...

She had asked him to tell Rin sorry for her. He had duly done so, and the little girl accepted, with good grace, that Helen had to leave for her own good, but Rin had still been saddened, nonetheless...

He suddenly felt aggravated as he remembered. Every time he thought of her, he was always aggravated, and now he wanted to know why. Why he felt aggravated, why he had agreed to protect her. Unbidden and unwanted, their last conversation came into mind.

"Will you do something for me?" he had asked.

"Sure." She had tried to sound nonchalant, but he easily saw through her.

"Watch out for yourself."

"I'll try," she had promised.

"That will suffice."

And then, she had jumped into the well. He had been torn then, about jumping in and going after her, but, somehow, he had restrained himself and walked away. But ever since that day, his thoughts would mysteriously divert to her, and aggravation would consume him. But was it just aggravation, or was there something else entirely?

With a sickening jolt, he realized that he had been right all along. He wouldn't like the results of his little introspection, because now, of all times, he realized one thing that didn't please him at all.

He missed her.

XoXoXo

Helen slammed her suitcase shut and sat on the edge of the bed. Outside her bedroom window, it was dark, and she could easily make out the stars that glimmered in the sky. She was all set, and she wished that this wasn't really happening. How could fate mock her right now? Why did the gods love making fun of her? Japan, of all places!

She shook her head. No, she had promised herself that she wouldn't complain about it, even to herself. She would be happy, for her mother's sake. Besides, it wasn't like she was going to run into him now, was she? No, she shouldn't think of him—it was so unfair. But then, how could she not think of him when she would be staying at Kagome's house along with Alicia and Andrea so as to give her mother and Robert privacy in their hotel room?

Sure, she would run into Inuyasha (and she was looking forward to seeing him again), but would she run into...Sesshoumaru? There. She had thought of his name after all those months. Wasn't that proof that she was over him?

She sighed as she stood up, and made her way towards the window to look out at the moon. There was a ring around the moon, but that wasn't so extraordinary now, was it? But no, with her demonic eyes, she could see something else. A hint of silver iridescence that illuminated the ring around the moon.

Silver.

That was the real color of her eyes, and—admittedly—Sesshoumaru's hair. She shook her head as nostalgia started taking hold of her. She shut the window and made her way to bed. She set the alarm clock for five in the morning, and plopped down on the bed, pulling the blanket over her. She needed a good night's rest if she was to be 'bubbly' around her friends, mother and soon-to-be-human-father.

Tomorrow, she would be off to Japan.

XoXoXo

A1969: that's the first chapter.
Inuyasha: and I thought we were finally rid of you.
A1969: I think you've said that before...
Kagome: Inuyasha be nice!
Inuyasha: keh! I don't think you're the real A1969. She's usually sloppy, you see. Especially when it comes to updating.
A1969: paranoia—that's what you get when you have adorable dog ears and an entire legion of hyper fan girls.
Inuyasha: what?!
A1969:
anyway...Don't forget to review please!