A1969: it's been ages, I know
Inuyasha: I thought you really were dead this time.
A1969: did I disappoint you?
Inuyasha: very.
A1969: I'm very sorry for the late update, but things are at their busiest right now. We're finally starting duty at the hospital!
Kagome: it's alright. Though, I also thought you were dead.
A1969: anyway, thanks to those who read and reviewed the previous chapter! Hope you enjoy this one!

Chapter Seven: The Wife and the Acceptance

XoXoXo

The silence seemed to stretch on and on.

Helen looked down at the sheets that were covering her. She could feel Sesshoumaru's ice-cold stare on her, and it was making her nervous. She didn't dare look up to meet his eyes. What would she see in them if she did? She clenched her fists. Ever since she had arrived, she—no, they both knew that it would come to this. She knew they both had had enough of their fruitless tap dancing around each other.

It was the time to finally end it.

It was time for closure.

The silence was broken by the rustling of silk as Sesshoumaru stood up. He looked down at her, and she avoided his eyes. Yes—enough was enough. It was time he pulled himself together, forgot about his feelings for her, and do what he was supposed to do. He didn't say another word as he left the room.

As soon as the doors slid shut behind him, Helen let out a sigh. She clutched the sheets tighter to her, her brows furrowed. The moment she had made her choice—no, the moment they had made their choice, doubt began to creep in on her, like with all people who are forced to decide on a heavy matter. She shook her head. She was sure that the doubt would soon leave.

Sighing, she lay back down on the futon, her eyes fixed on the mahogany wood of the ceiling. It's for the best, she thought. How many times have Sesshoumaru and I been pulled together, then parted again? How many times have we danced around each other for so long? How many times have I thought of wanting him near me, only to find out that, no matter how far I'd reach out, he was always out of reach? He's like the moon...Cold, distant and unreachable...

She closed her eyes and let out another frustrated sigh. She admitted that in the past, whenever both of them decided that enough was enough, they would only end up being drawn to each other—again. And being hurt in the process—again. But this time, their parting had a note of finality to it, something that their previous partings never had.

This time, she was sure that enough was enough.

The soft patter of feet on the veranda snapped her out of her stupor. "My Lady?" a maid's voice called out.

"Come in," Helen said, immediately sitting up.

Once again, the door slid open to reveal a maid kneeling in the doorway. "Your mother wishes to know if you're feeling better," the maid announced, keeping her head bowed.

"I'm feeling fine," Helen said. She smiled and, simultaneously, she felt a small, twisting sensation in her chest.

The maid nodded. "That is good, my Lady," she said. "Lady Shinsuke hopes that, if you are feeling better, you would come and greet Lord Toshimaru, who has been asking about you."

Helen's eyes widened in surprise, and she smiled to herself as she felt fondness welling up inside her. When she had first met Toshimaru, she'd had a crush on him—heck, they nearly kissed—but as time had gone by, her crush became nothing more than friendship.

Helen smiled, ignoring the persisting pain in her bosom. "Sure, I'll see him. I just have to get dressed first."

"Does my Lady require assistance?"

Helen shook her head. "No, I can manage." She never would get used to needing assistance just to change.

The maid bowed, her forehead touching the wooden floor, before she left, sliding the door closed behind her. Helen stood up, letting the sheets fall off her. She paused. Was it really so wise to go out and see Toshimaru? The last time she had seen him, it had been a year ago, during their almost-wedding. Just as she and Toshimaru were about to be married, Sesshoumaru—overcoming that damnable pride of his—had showed up and stopped the wedding in the nick of time. Just as he did, Naraku had shown up and kidnapped her. Both Toshimaru and Sesshoumaru had rushed to her rescue, but it was the latter who had ended up saving her.

If I recall correctly, I haven't said a single word to him since that day, she thought. When she had left for the Modern Era, she had forgotten him when she was saying her goodbyes.

She blushed. What if Toshimaru had thought badly of her after that? But then, why would he want to see her, if he did? Maybe she should just pretend that she was still feeling weak...

Sighing, she shook her head began to change.

The pain in her chest persisted.

XoXoXo

"Where is Lord Sesshoumaru?" Lady Shinsuke asked when Helen had entered the tearoom in the garden.

Helen stopped, blushed, then shrugged. "I don't know," she mumbled, keeping her eyes on the floor. "He left, and I don't know where he went." She could feel the heat of both Lady Shinsuke and Lady Takeida's eyes on her, and it made her blush even more.

"Helen?"

Helen looked up. The voice was rich and deep and made her eyes widen in surprise. It belonged to a silver-haired, amber-eyed young man who was regarding her with a smile.

"Toshimaru!" Helen said, surprised.

He grinned at her. She couldn't pinpoint it, but there was something different about him, something she couldn't quite lay a finger on. She pushed the thought out of her head as she sat down and greeted him.

"You've been well?" Toshimaru asked.

Helen nodded, then blushed as she remembered their disastrous almost-wedding last year. "Um...I haven't really apologized for..."

He chuckled. "You needn't bother yourself with all that happened in the past," the young lord reassured. "Besides...I came to accept that I could never make you happy the way my cousin could." Helen blushed again, feeling uncomfortable, the pain in her chest only becoming more prominent. "Speaking of which, where is Lord Sesshoumaru?"

"I don't know," she said hesitantly. "I haven't seen him."

He nodded then his look became serious. He was about to ask a question—probably about Sesshoumaru—but, seeing Helen's discomfort, he kept quiet and a silence seemed to fill the room.

"So, Lord Toshimaru," Lady Takeida said, breaking the monotony. "It has been over a year since we heard from you last."

Toshimaru nodded, smiling. "Indeed." He paused. "I am most apologetic for failing to keep in touch with the other Lords, but I was rather busy." Helen noted that his smile softened, as though he was remembering something pleasant. "But enough about me...How have you been, Lady Helen?"

Helen raised her eyebrows. "Since when have you ever called me 'Lady'?" she asked, grinning. "I've been doing fine, thanks for as—"

The sound of polished wood sliding on polished wood stopped Helen. Everyone's eyes turned to the door just as the scent of jasmine filled the room, emanating from the woman standing at the doorway. A woman dressed in an opulent kimono with long dark hair, luminous skin, ruby lips and disturbingly blood-red eyes...

"Kagura?" Helen exclaimed.

Quick as a flash, Lady Shinsuke was standing beside the wind witch, a dagger held to her throat. "Very bold of you, coming in here in such a fashion," the dog demoness commented, her tone ice-cold and deadly. She pressed the dagger to her throat. One flick, and the witch would bleed.

Kagura's eyes widened in surprise and shock as they settled on Toshimaru, who only smiled. "Lady Shinsuke, I understand your concern," the demon lord said, a small and amused smile on his lips. "But is it really necessary to hold your blade to my wife's throat?"

Helen, Lady Shinsuke and Lady Takeida stared at Toshimaru with wide, popping eyes. "WIFE?"

XoXoXo

How did I get myself into this mess?

Helen could think of nothing else as she sat on the stone bench in the palace garden. She wasn't alone—Kagura was sitting an arm's length away from her, and the silence between them was strong and oppressive. After the initial shock that Toshimaru had dealt them, Lady Shinsuke had suggested that Helen and Kagura take a stroll in the garden while Toshimaru explained things to them.

"However, I want you both to walk in sight of the tearoom, so I can see you," Lady Shinsuke had said, not trusting Kagura, despite the fact that she was Toshimaru's wife now.

And thus...this.

Helen sighed. Neither she nor Kagura had done anything to break the silence. She discreetly glanced at the wind witch from the corner of her eye. Kagura was indeed different now. Aside from her appearance, which was greatly enhanced due to her long hair and opulent kimono, there was something different about her, something the demoness couldn't quite put her finger on...what was it?

In a snap, Helen knew. Kagura no longer felt malevolent. In the past, whenever they encountered one another, she could always feel Kagura's hatred and jealousy towards her. Now, there was nothing in her manner to suggest the slightest ounce of hostility. If anything else, the wind witch seemed placid and serene.

Though that did absolutely nothing to stifle the oppressive silence.

Helen let out a breath. It was like a TV drama, sitting in the garden with the woman who once tried to steal away the man you love...wait, love? She shook her head. She didn't love him anymore. She let out another breath. Time to break the quiet.

"So, er..." she began, feeling herself blush. Kagura glanced at her. "Erm...You and Toshimaru..."

Kagura shrugged. "What about it?"

Get a grip, Helen! the young woman thought. "How did you two...after the fight with Naraku last year?"

Kagura raised an eyebrow. "Why don't you ask me properly?" she suggested. Was that mockery and amusement in her voice, or was Helen imaging it? "You're going to ask how I ended up marrying Toshimaru when he sorely hated me last year, aren't you?"

"You're a mind-reader," Helen said quietly. "Yeah—I'm curious."

Kagura smirked, then, much to Helen's surprise, she let out a long sigh. "After that fight with Naraku, I was as battered as a rag doll..." she began.

XoXoXo

"It's you."

Kagura glanced up at Toshimaru, feeling both dread and fear grip her. Toshimaru gave her a cold look as he glanced down at her with narrowed eyes. Kagura felt the hard wood of the tree trunk behind her and felt panicked when she realized that she had no weapon, and nowhere to run.

Toshimaru took in her appearance. A bruise was forming on her right cheek. Her left eye appeared swollen and a jagged cut ran down her left temple. There was a cut on her lip, and, as he watched, a drop of blood dripped from the cut and on to her kimono, which was torn in some places. A pitiful sight.

"Kagura," Toshimaru said quietly.

She glared at him. "What do you want?"

He shook his head as he turned and walked away, towards the forest. Kagura felt relief fill her. He had left her alone.

"Thank kami," she muttered, looking up at the tree's leaves. She narrowed her eyes. Soon, she would have to get up and leave to find a more suitable shelter while she recuperated. She closed her eyes and fell asleep.

Several hours later, Kagura's eyes flew open. But it wasn't the rising sun's light that bothered her—it was the incessant sound of buzzing in her ears. Her eyes widened in surprise and fear. She was surrounded by a hoard of Saimyoshou.

Her mouth went dry as she stood up on shaky legs. Naraku's Saimyoshou had her completely surrounded. Why? Had they come for her? But why? She had her heart, she was free...

Then realization hit her, and it hit her hard. Naraku wanted her dead. He knew that it was she who had told Sesshoumaru the whereabouts of Helen, and he wanted to get even.

Blind fear gripped her. Not only had she lost her fan, she was still too weak to fight them off. She was even more panicked when she realized that, with her heart finally returned to her, she had lost the ability regenerate herself.

Run.

As soon as the thought hit her, she charged through the crowd of Saimyoshou, her arm covering her head. She heard their incessant buzzing as she ran, her heart thundering in her chest. She shouted as she felt several stingers pierce her arms.

"Leave me alone!" she shrieked.

Her eyes widened when she suddenly lost her footing and stumbled towards the ground. She looked up just as the hoard of Saimyoshou sped towards her.

"NO!" she shrieked, her eyes wide.

Her vision was suddenly clouded with blue. "What?" she said. She realized a barrier had been erected around her. The Saimyoshou rammed against the barrier and as they did, they burned and fell to the ground. The remaining Saimyoshou suddenly stopped and the barrier around Kagura expanded so it came into contact with the remaining Saimyoshou. There was a hiss as the insects fell to the ground, dead.

The barrier around Kagura suddenly vanished, and acrid stench of burning insects filled her nostrils. She glanced behind her. Someone was leaning against the tree, his arms crossed, his eyes looking down at her. She couldn't make out his face, which was shadowed.

"Who...are—" She was cut off when she felt a piercing pain in her arm. She looked at it, and felt horror settling in her stomach. Five orange stingers were embedded deep in her skin. Fear gripped her as she immediately began to pluck them out, but the stingers only burrowed deeper into her flesh.

She gasped as they vanished into her arm. No, she thought. The poison...will...

She suddenly heard steps behind her. She glanced behind from over her shoulder, and found herself looking at a pair of black boots...? Her eyes blurred as the poison spread through her. She felt herself falling to the ground as cold sweat broke out on her forehead. Black slowly started to crawl through the edges of her vision...

She looked up. A face was leaning over her. It was silhouetted against the sunlight, but she could make out a pair of startling amber eyes.

"Ses...Sesshoumaru?" she mumbled before everything turned black.

As she carefully became aware of her surroundings, Kagura's eyes slowly began to open. She decided to keep her eyes shut. She was dead, she knew that...but wait. Something was not right. Naraku's incarnations did not possess souls, including her. She shouldn't be aware of an afterlife. Besides, if she was granted such a thing, she had a feeling she wouldn't be going anywhere pleasant.

So...why did she feel so...good?

She felt well. Every single injury on her body was gone. She felt refreshed, energized. She also felt the soft feel of silken sheets on her body.

Wait...silken sheets?

Surely, she was dead? But why would there be silken sheets...?

Her eyes flew open, and she found herself staring at the intricately carved beams of a ceiling. She blinked. This was not right. The last thing she remembered was the Saimyoshou's poison slowly spreading through her, veiling her vision with black and shutting her body down...she also remembered looking into a pair of imperious amber eyes before she had passed out.

Amber eyes...Sesshoumaru.

She shook her head. Now was not the time to think of Sesshoumaru. She took in her surroundings. The room, though sparsely furnished, was opulent. The paper screens of the shutters were decorated with paintings of birds and trees. In a corner was a polished mahogany table, in another was a brazier where a small flame burned cheerfully.

The wind witch glanced at the shutters. The lack of light coming from beyond them told her that it was night. How long had she been unconscious? Why wasn't she dead yet? She knew how potent the Saimyoshou's poison was...

She was snapped out of her musings when she heard footsteps just outside her door. She glanced at it. A figure was outlined against the door. Sesshoumaru...? The door to the room slid open and Kagura's eyebrows shot up in surprise.

"I see you're awake," Toshimaru commented as he entered and quietly slid the door behind him.

"You!" Kagura said.

He raised an eyebrow at her. "Me."

"What happened? Why am I here?" Kagura demanded.

Toshimaru regarded her for a moment. "After I saved you, the Saimyoshou's poison nearly killed you," he said blandly. "I brought you here to my palace, so my physician could treat you."

She stared at him. "Treat me?" she said indignantly. "Why the hell would you even help me out?"

"Would you rather you were dead right now?"

She glared. "Don't answer my question with one of your own!" she huffed.

He tilted his head at her. "You're right," he said quietly. "I should have just let you die, rather than waste my time bringing you here and ensuring that you survived." The irony in his voice made her seethe even more.

"You...!"

He shook his head. "The reason I brought you here is simple. You helped Sesshoumaru and I find Naraku, thus finding Helen."

She stared at him. "You saved me because of the girl?"

He nodded. "Indeed," he said. "There is no other reason. I merely repaid a debt to you."

Kagura lifted an eyebrow almost mockingly at him and, much to his surprise, she chuckled. "Unbelievable," Kagura muttered, shaking her head. "Helen obviously chooses Sesshoumaru yet you regard her enough to save me?"

Toshimaru narrowed his eyes dangerously at Kagura before he turned and left the room, slamming the door with a loud bang.

"Heh," Kagura muttered to herself. "Both he and Sesshoumaru are idiots."

She lay back down and closed her eyes. "Might as well enjoy myself before I leave."

XoXoXo

"Did you leave?" Helen, who was hanging onto Kagura's every word, asked.

Kagura shrugged. "I tried to," she said. "But the next morning, Toshimaru refused to let me go. Why? Because, according to him, I insulted him. I told him that I was being frank, not insulting. In retaliation, he prevented me from leaving."

"He locked you up?" Helen's eyes were wide as saucers.

"You can say that," Kagura said. "Though, he didn't lock me up in the dungeon. He let me have my first room, but I couldn't leave the palace. Every time I tried, either he or the guards would stop me...and I was powerless to fight back."

"And then...?"

"You've got brains, don't you?" Kagura said, sighing. "Use your imagination. He kept me locked up, occasionally visiting me. One thing led to another and we ended up marrying."

Helen smiled. "I love a good ending," she said, looking back up at the sky. "And I'm happy for Toshimaru."

"Really?"

Helen looked at her and nodded, her smile widening. "I really do think Toshimaru deserved someone better than me." She paused. "Someone who could love him for who he was, not because he was a means of forgetting someone else."

Kagura was quiet. "Truth be told, when I was starting to have feelings for Toshimaru, I hated you with a passion."

"Eh?" Helen said, surprised. She looked down at her lap. "Of course you did."

"You wanna know why?" Kagura folded both hands on her lap and looked Helen in the eye. "Because I realized how much you had meant to Toshimaru. But you only ended up hurting him, all because of Sesshoumaru."

Helen blushed and looked down at her feet. "I know," she said quietly. "I'm...ashamed of what I did to Toshimaru. At that time, I only chose to marry him because I hoped that he would make me forget Sesshoumaru, but..." She shook her head. "I really am sorry for hurting him. But...I'm happy now."

"Oh?"

Helen nodded and grinned. "Because he found someone to make him happy again."

Kagura's eyes widened in surprise and a small smile curved her lips. Her voice was guarded, but her words were sincere enough. "Thank you."

XoXoXo

"This is rather unexpected," Lady Shinsuke remarked as soon as Toshimaru and Kagura had left.

Helen sighed as she sipped her tea. "How many times have you said it?" she muttered. "Five? Ten?"

Lady Takeida nodded in agreement. "Of all the women in the lands to wed—he had to go and pick someone of no class, no connections and, furthermore, someone who happens to be an incarnate of Naraku." She grimaced as though the words left a bad taste in her mouth.

"Kagura's not an incarnate of Naraku anymore," Helen pointed out, feeling defensive for the couple. "Besides...Toshimaru wants her, and she makes him happy."

Lady Takeida rolled her eyes. "Still...once this gets out, he'll be the laughing stock of all the nobles."

Helen pursed her lips. "Just leave them alone."

"Enough of them," Lady Shinsuke said imperiously. "Anyway, Helen...will you be returning to the Modern Era?"

Helen blinked. "Yes," she said quietly. "I promised my human mother that I'd be there for her wedding, and I'm going to keep that promise."

Lady Shinsuke frowned. "I would rather you stayed here and didn't return"—Helen opened her mouth, about to protest—"but, I can see that you're too stubborn to listen. Of course, I can't blame you—the pigheadedness comes from me." She grinned but then her expression turned serious. "Sokoro is dangerous, Helen. If you confront her face-to-face, I doubt even Sesshoumaru can defeat her."

"But," Helen said. "I promised my human mother that I—"

"I know, I know," Lady Shinsuke interjected. She bit her lower lip and was quiet for a moment, a thoughtful look in her violet eyes. "Helen...you do know that it would give me peace of mind if Sesshoumaru were to accompany you."

Helen nodded. "I know." She didn't like the thought of him accompanying her again...especially since their little talk not too long ago.

"It will also give me additional piece of mind if I came with you to the Modern Era."

"I know—wait, WHAT?" Helen exclaimed, her eyes bugging out.

Lady Shinsuke tilted her head at her, a small, amused smile on her lips. "You...you want to come with me?" Helen said, her eyebrows rising.

The demoness smirked. "Of course."

"But, but..." Helen stammered. A brief mental image flashed through her mind of her demoness mother in the Modern Era. She shuddered. It wasn't a comforting picture. She shuddered as she thought of the words Lady Shinsuke and technology at the same time. Her eyebrow twitched. She could easily think of a thousand things—all ranging from moderate to disaster—that could happen while Lady Shinsuke was in the Modern Era.

Lady Takeida looked amused at Helen's befuddled expression. "If you intend to go, Shinsuke, I shall come with you!" she declared, grinning.

"WHAT?" Helen exclaimed. With Lady Shinsuke and Lady Takeida...no. She didn't want to think about it. If she did, she was going to get a migraine.

Both demonesses were smirking at her and she inwardly cringed. Was it her, or were those smirks filled with malicious intent? She closed her eyes and let out a troubled breath. What to do...?

"Are you sure you can leave the palace?" Helen asked, opening her eyes and raising an eyebrow at Lady Shinsuke.

Her mother shrugged. "Why not? I own the palace—I can leave any time I wish." Her smirk turned into a smile. "I can leave the running of the lands to Lord Hirosaki. His family is one of our vassals, and I trust him with my life."

It was then that Lady Takeida's smirk vanished. "You actually trust your vassals?" she said, incredulous. "I am amazed. Sesshoumaru, however, does not have your trusting nature, Shinsuke. In his absence, I rule the West...and I doubt that he would be very pleased if I left it unprotected." She shook her head. "I am afraid I cannot join you on your little adventure."

Helen's spirit lifted a little. "I agree with Lady Takeida," Helen said. "You can't be too trusting, you know."

Lady Shinsuke looked crestfallen. Helen blinked as her mother buried her face in her hands. "Oh, this is the sorrow of a mother!" the demoness said dramatically, her voice loud and tragic. "When our children all grow up, they wish to forsake those that brought them into this world! Oh, unhappy mother I am! My own daughter, whom I have not seen in a year, wishes to leave me again!" She sobbed theatrically into her hands.

Helen cringed. "Wait! Are you crying?" She failed to notice Lady Takeida, who had seen this act more than once, roll her eyes.

Lady Shinsuke only wailed louder. "Ah!" Helen exclaimed, raising her arms. "No! I didn't mean to offend you...mom. It's just that I thought—"

The demoness peeked through her fingers. "What does this 'mom' mean?" she sobbed.

Helen sweat-dropped. "It means 'mother'."

Lady Shinsuke nodded—then she wailed louder. "She calls me 'mom', but she does not wish to spend time with me, her own mother!"

"No! I want to spend time with you!" Helen exclaimed, seeing no other alternative. "Please! Come with me to the Modern Era! We'll have a lot of fun, I swear!" Fun here having the meaning of disaster, that is.

Lady Shinsuke automatically stopped sobbing and looked at Helen through splayed fingers. "You are not jesting?" she asked, pretending to be hesitant.

Helen shook her head and smiled genuinely at her. "No. I really do like spending time with you"—Though, I'd rather it wasn't in the Modern Era—"and I want to enjoy some time with you."

Lady Shinsuke smiled then she lowered her hands. Why am I not surprised to find that her eyes are dry? Helen thought drily.

"Wonderful!" the overly dramatic demoness exclaimed, clapping her hands together. She stood up. "I shall go make the necessary preparations immediately!" Without further ado, the demoness rushed out the door, her hair flying behind her.

Reality washed over Helen as she slapped a hand to her forehead. "What the heck have I done?" she muttered to herself.

Lady Takeida chuckled. "You don't know how happy that makes her feel," the demoness pointed out.

Helen stared at her. "Happy?"

The lady nodded. "Of course," she went on. "Imagine—Shinsuke had to send you away when you were a baby. She had to let go of you. How would that make a mother feel?" She paused. "Then you return to her. She was so overjoyed to see you, didn't you know? But then...you leave for a year again. But now you're back, but you want to spend your time in the Modern Era...with your human mother."

Helen looked down. "It's not that I don't want to spend time with her...it's just that..."

Lady Takeida smiled knowingly. "I know you're not quite used to her being your mother yet. And I can't say that I blame you. But...don't you think it would be fair if you just gave her a chance? She is, after all, your real mother."

Helen sighed then looked up at the demoness. "I know, it's just that I can't imagine what would happen if..." She shook her head. "The Modern Era is so different from this era...I'm afraid she might slip up..."

"Shinsuke does tend to be overly dramatic," Lady Takeida said, nodding. "But, if Sesshoumaru can handle it, so can she."

Helen inwardly cringed and her eyebrow twitched at the mention of Sesshoumaru. That idiot! He'd revealed what she...what they both were to Todd and the others. What would happen when she returned to the Modern Era? Would her friends still accept her? Would they tell anyone else about her? What would Todd think? Her heart suddenly sank. Would he...break up with her?

She sighed and closed her eyes. Sesshoumaru, you idiot, she thought angrily. For someone so cunning, how could you do something so stupid? But, of course, it was intentional, wasn't it? You wanted to ruin my life. She suddenly remembered the horridly cold look he'd given her when they had said their final goodbye earlier. She cringed again.

Helen was snapped out of her mental jargon when the door to the tearoom slid open with a bang and a woman stood in the doorway. She looked young, maybe in her late twenties. She had long dark hair that fell to her waist in a wavy cascade, and her eyes were a startling shade of sapphire.

Helen and Lady Takeida stared at her. "Shinsuke?" Lady Takeida exclaimed.

"Mother?" Helen gasped, her eyes wide.

The woman at the doorway smirked at Helen. "You're not the only one with a human disguise, you know."

XoXoXo

Sesshoumaru stepped into the sunlit clearing and felt the harsh glare of the light on his eyes. He narrowed his eyes slightly as they adjusted to the harsh glare. He found himself standing at the edge of the clearing of the Bone Eater's well.

He walked towards the well and looked down into its depths. Helen's scent was not here, which made him think that she was still in the Feudal Era. He glanced up at the sky. The moment they had decided that enough was enough, he had felt strangely at peace, as if he had finally made his decision that put his mind at ease. He was sure that he would no longer be troubled with inner emotional battles that caused turmoil in the deepest recesses of his mind. He was sure that his feelings for her would now gradually disappear.

They should.

After he had left Helen, he had immediately made his way back to the Bone Eater's well. He glanced again into the well. Soon, she would show up and they would return to the Modern. Hn...very interesting.

A movement among the trees caught his attention. Even from a distance, he could tell who it was, but what surprised him was the scent that accompanied hers.

"You look surprised, Lord Sesshoumaru," a familiar voice with an unfamiliar owner said, stepping out of the trees.

"Oh?" Sesshoumaru said coldly, staring at the unfamiliar Lady of the East. "What a surprise."

Lady Shinsuke smirked at him, her piercing blue human eyes narrowed almost mockingly. "I dare say, though you hide it well, is it safe to presume your surprise is genuine?"

He scoffed. He had never seen the lord or lady of one of the lands lower herself to...this—wearing the guise of a hum. And he was rather condescending about it. His eyes drifted from Lady Shinsuke to the younger girl standing behind her. They looked very much alike, he thought.

For a moment, Helen forced herself to hold his eyes—everything was fine. There was no need to shy away from him. He, likewise, returned her look. Helen inwardly cringed. When she'd look into those amber eyes before, she could always see conflict—a sign of his feelings for her. But now, all she could see was an iciness she had never seen before. She pulled her eyes away and looked down at the ground.

Lady Shinsuke observed and remained quiet. She turned her attention to the well. "So!" the cheery human-looking lady said, clapping her hands together. "What am I to expect from the Modern Era?" She smiled as she sat at the edge of the well, her blue eyes fixed on Sesshoumaru and Helen.

Helen felt grateful for the distraction. "Simple," she said, taking several steps towards her mother. She stood in front of the demon in disguise and crossed her arms. "You have to be discreet."

The lady lifted an eyebrow at her daughter. "Discreet? Is this human guise not discreet enough for you?"

"It is," Helen reassured. "But being discreet doesn't just mean your appearance. You also have to mind your actions. You can't use your powers and you can't do things a normal human can't do, say, for example...jumping from the top of a building to the ground..." She shook her head and sighed.

Lady Shinsuke's lips curved into a smile. "Ah..." she said. She turned her attention to Sesshoumaru. "Does she nag at you as well?"

"Who's nagging?" Helen snapped, glaring.

Sesshoumaru ignored her. "Most of the time."

Helen turned her glare to him. "Jerk," she muttered under her breath.

He ignored her.

Once again, Lady Shinsuke took this in silently. "So!" she said cheerfully. "Shall we get going?"

XoXoXo

Lady Shinsuke was the first out of the well, leaving Helen alone with Sesshoumaru for a second before the demon lord promptly followed after the Lady of the East. Helen sighed and leaned her back against the woody walls of the well. She didn't want to go out—she felt uneasy. No, more than uneasy...she felt afraid. Afraid not because of her erratic demoness mother, but because of...

She looked up and felt her heart race. Coming from the outside were several unmistakable voices...

"You!" the familiar, deep voice of Todd said.

"Sesshoumaru, you have a lot of explaining to do!" Andrea's voice chimed in. She sounded annoyed.

"Where is Helen?" Helen heard Alicia demand.

"Who is that?" Kagome's voice joined the ruckus.

Helen bit her lower lip. She toyed with a strand of her dark, human hair before jumping out of the well and stepping out of the Well Shrine.

The moment Helen stepped out of the Well Shrine and into the bright sunlight, the voices around her suddenly hushed. The bright sunlight hit her eyes, making her blink and close them. It took half a second for them to adjust. As she slowly opened her eyes, she saw everyone looking at her.

Andrea and Alicia both had hesitant and confused looks on their faces. Alicia was biting her lower lip, and Andrea's mouth was slightly parted, a trait of hers when she was in serious doubt. Kagome and Inuyasha were both looking cautious and curious—their curiousity directed towards the other dark-haired woman, whom Inuyasha realized was none other than the Demon Lady of the East. Lady Shinsuke was regarding Helen with a look akin to both encouragement and support, her arms crossed. Sesshoumaru...his eyes were unreadable.

But all that was on the peripheral of her vision.

The majority of her attention was focused on the boy standing in front of her, the shadows of the Sacred Tree dancing slowly across him.

Helen's eyes widened as Todd looked straight at her. His expression was guarded, his lips drawn in a tight line. His arms were crossed—never a good sign. She took a step towards him, her eyes begging him. He frowned, his eyebrows meeting in the middle—again, it was not a good sign.

Helen felt defeated. Todd's stance only told her all that she needed to know—that he didn't want her, that he couldn't forgive her for betraying him. She let out a sigh. She really did love him...

Todd's expression suddenly relaxed, and a small smile curled his lips. Helen's eyes widened in surprise as Todd spread his arms open...

Helen didn't waste a single second. She rushed to him and threw herself into his arms, which wrapped slowly around her shoulders. There was silence all around them, a silence that was broken only by the soft rustling of the wind.

Todd buried his head in Helen's hair. He smelled the faint scent of raspberries, and closed his eyes—she was still the same. He couldn't deny that he had been terribly shaken by the sight of Sesshoumaru carrying a blonde-haired demoness in his arms...a demoness who was Helen. But he was past that now. She obviously had a secret that she'd been hiding, and he doubted that it was without good reason.

He let out a sigh. It wasn't easy for him to accept this...this secret of hers, whatever the whole of it was. But he would listen to her. He would be fair and understanding. After all, wasn't that a boyfriend's job?

The others had been watching the pair in silence. Andrea and Alicia both looked relieved. They had sincerely thought that Todd would want to break up with Helen. They had no doubt that Helen would be greatly affected. After all, wasn't Todd the one Helen had loved from the start?

Kagome stared at the two, both their thoughts taking different turns. Kagome was both confused and guilty—she had once agreed to help Sesshoumaru break up the pair, but now that she saw Helen and Todd together, guilt racked her. Todd sincerely seemed to care about Helen, accepting her for what she was, forgiving her for the secret that she kept from him. In comparison, Sesshoumaru had been nothing but cold, distant, and hurtful towards Helen. It was only natural that Helen would eventually give him up...After all, wasn't all the hurt and pain he had put her through been enough?

Lady Shinsuke was visibly shocked and surprised—her daughter in the arms of a worthless human! Though said human had his appeal, he was still a human. He was just worthless fodder compared to her demoness daughter! What one earth was the world coming to? She looked incredulous. She glanced towards Sesshoumaru, expecting—and hoping—that one of his attacks of jealousy would surface, but to her surprise, the young lord only regarded the pair with an indifferent mien. Lady Shinsuke frowned. This was strange...Didn't Sesshoumaru love Helen, after all?

The demon lord himself regarded the pair with narrowed and indifferent eyes. Yes, he couldn't deny that he sorely longed to run Todd through his claws...He couldn't deny the rage that he felt brewing inside of him, a rage that, compared to before, he found that he easily tamed...He couldn't deny that he had been hoping that Todd would push Helen, which was supposed to be the result of his intentional exposure of her demon form in the first place. But it only seemed to have back fired...

You asked me...what I see in Todd…I see in him what I don't see in you.

Her words echoed through his thoughts. To think that a mortal of no consequent value would be more preferable to him, him who was the most sought-after demon in the whole of Feudal Japan (and possibly in the whole of Asia)! He inwardly scoffed.

Heh.

He turned on his and walked away. After all...both he and Helen knew that things would never be the same again.

XoXoXo

A1969: that's that for now.
Inuyasha: whatever.
A1969: shut up! Anyway, I'm really sorry for not being able to update frequently. A new anime obsession and school are really taking my time. But don't worry—with Christmas break coming up soon, I think I'll have more time to update!
Kagome: that sounds great! Y'know, you really had me on edge there as well.
Inuyasha: ha! Even Kagome agrees with me.
A1969: shut up.
Kagome: I'm not agreeing with you, Inuyasha.
Inuyasha: whaddya mean, you're not?
A1969: I sense a storm brewing. Anyway, I hope you guys continue to read and review!