Kagome sat, watching the sun rise on the 365th day of her adventure in the Sengoku Jidai. Probably not the actual number of days in the past, she reflected; she certainly got to go home a healthy amount (though she'd never admit that to InuYasha), but still, the day held no small significance.

One year.

A year of enough blood and bandages to put three small third-world countries to shame. Learning to hunt, learning to kill, and watching others become more powerful as she slowly felt weaker and weaker in comparison to their growing strength. School never taught her to cure snake youkai poison. School never taught her the proper way to care for a feudal-style longbow.

A year of love and heartbreak – and love and heartbreak and love and heartbreak like some sort of vicious merry-go-round of torture. And even now with Kikyou out of the picture… well, Kagome couldn't help but wonder in the privacy of her mind with a muffled sob if she was any closer to InuYasha's heart than before.

A year of cat and mouse with the world's most infuriating enemy while putting together the world's most damnable puzzle, collecting and losing pieces until the only one that remained in their control remained in the boy Kagome couldn't save… or purify, apparently. How could, in the span of a year, they go from having nearly half the jewel at one point to suddenly only having one shard; ironically mirroring the start of their journey.

A year in which she traveled across nearly all of Honshu – by foot, by bike, by fire-neko-youkai and on the back of the inu-hanyou she loved… and still, for all her "worldly travels" felt like she felt like she hadn't gotten anywhere.

Kagome hitched her knees higher, resting her arms on them and her chin on her arms, staring at the changing colors pensively. "What's the point?"

"The point of what?"

The miko jumped, startled – lost in the fading stars, she'd missed the gentle touch of Miroku's houriki; she hadn't heard the musical jangle of the rings on his shakujou as he came up behind her. She stared, suddenly wondering if anybody else was nearby to hear.

"Kagome-sama?" Miroku gently prodded. "The point of what?"

"Oh!" Kagome blushed, burying her face in her arms as she muttered, "It doesn't matter."

"Kagome-sama," he chided, taking a seat next to the girl. "It does matter if it has put such a downtrodden look upon your lovely face this early in the day."

Kagome shook her head and sighed. "Really, it doesn't. I was just wondering…" she trailed off for a moment before he met her eye and nodded, encouraging her to continue. "Why was I brought here?"

"Because you're Kikyou's reincarnation, wench," InuYasha pointed out as he plopped down on her other side, giving Kagome her second near-heart attack of the morning. At this rate, she'd be dead before sundown. If not from heart failure, then from the fact that she just hadn't been paying enough attention to her surroundings! "And you had the jewel in ya'. So Mistress Centipede grabbed ya' and pulled you here."

She shot him a flat look. "Duh. But… I mean… I just wonder if there's some other reason. If there' something…" she trailed off until she was almost whispering, "something I did wrong. Or am doing wrong. Why is this taking so long? Why am I here? I'm not the strongest; I'm not the fastest… I'm just me. Just Kagome," she sighed.

Miroku and InuYasha shared a look over her again-buried head. It wasn't often Kagome got into a depressed or frustrated mood… she was usually the one bringing them out of it. Miroku almost chuckled at the look of near terror in InuYasha's eyes – he obviously had no idea what to say to perk up their friend.

After a moment of contemplation, Miroku turned to Kagome. "Buddha had a plan for you. You were needed. I doubt it is often that one is plucked from their timeline and brought into another. You move freely across the two because you have to."

Kagome opened her mouth to question his comment- when InuYasha butted in.

"What's it matter?" He blushed lightly as both his comrades turned to look at him with confusion. He looked aside with a "keh."

Silence fell, and InuYasha realized suddenly they were waiting for him to expound on his question. After much restless shifting and eye-darting, he growled and said, "Would ya' have stopped it if you could have?"

Kagome blinked. 'Well, no… but-'

She was wrenched from her thoughts as he continued, apparently just getting started. "You stupid wench! What's it matter? You're too kind-hearted to just leave the dumb cat in the well house." She heard the unspoken 'and me on that damned tree.' "And you ain't weak or scared enough to give up just 'cause things ain't workin' out so well."

He pinned her with a serious look. "You can't expect answers for everything. And what the fuck are they good for, anyway? Even if ya' know, it's not gonna do a damned thing. Whatcha gonna do with the answer? So suddenly you know. Big fuckin' deal. You gonna have a stupid test on it at that school of yours?" He suddenly fell silent, cocking his head as his ears twitched. "…you don't, do you? They can't expect you to know-"

"No, no, that's not it!" Kagome exclaimed, waving her hands back and forth. "It's just… I just wonder, you know?"

"No, I don't know!"

Miroku interrupted what promised to be another knock-down (well, drag-down –literally- on InuYasha's end) fight between the two as he pointed out, "As… unexpected… as it is, InuYasha has a valid point."

"I do?" InuYasha gaped for a moment before turning back to the miko. "Yeah, I fuckin' do, so there!"

"You don't even know what your point was!" Kagome accused, before turning to Miroku. "But he does…"

Miroku nodded, looking more serene than a man sitting less than a few feet away from a seething hanyou should. "It is as InuYasha said, Kagome-sama. Seeking knowledge is commendable, but what use have you of this knowledge? It is not man's nature or destiny to know for the knowing." Kagome blinked, a little befuddled. He sought to clarify.

"You live on a shrine, yes?" Kagome nodded. "And that shrine has a long stair-case, yes?" She nodded again as InuYasha snorted. "Do you approach those stairs every time expecting to fall?" Kagome shook her head mutely.

InuYasha snorted again. "You should; you're a clumsy wench."

Kagome turned and slugged him in the shoulder before motioning for Miroku to continue, noticing how the corners of his lips twitched.

"Now, say you fall down those stairs. You land at the bottom and break your wrist." InuYasha let out a low growl at the imagery of her being injured. Kagome clutched her wrist instinctively, caught up in Miroku's nearly hypnotic voice. "So you've fallen. You've hurt yourself. You didn't expect to, but you did."

Kagome's eyes shone with understanding. "But it wouldn't matter why. I would know I fell down the stairs, but that wouldn't do anything about my wrist. It would still be broken. Knowing why wouldn't matter as much as getting it fixed."

Miroku smiled and nodded, standing. "You cannot continue to look to the past." He grinned, adding, "Even if you continue to travel to it. You can only learn from it… and look to the future. And may you have many more years left. Happy birthday, Kagome."

InuYasha turned wide eyes on the girl as she sat, staring at the horizon where the sun had risen during their discussion. "It's your birthday?"

She nodded shyly. "Sixteen."

He remembered how anxious she'd been about getting Souta just the right gift on his birthday a few months ago. Apparently it was a big deal in the future. He shifted. "I… I didn't get ya' nothing."

She turned a brilliant smile on him. "It's okay," she reassured. 'Just being here… knowing I'm here… it's good enough for me.'


Disclaimer: I do not own InuYasha or any other characters from the anime/manga. They all belong to Rumiko Takahashi. I just play with them