I do not own Inuyasha or its characters.


Watching Her: Understanding


There were things in life Inuyasha wasn't prepared for—Kagome and Shippo's tears were at the top of said list.

He waited, unsure whether he should intrude upon the moment, afraid that his appearance would start their dreaded tears anew, and unprepared for the renewed heartache that tore through his soul. He'd done this – his decision had broken their hearts, destroyed the very people he'd sworn to protect. And he'd failed- he hadn't protected them from himself!

Standing under Kagome's window, Inuyasha ignored the knowing gaze blinking at him from the courtyard. Turning to leave, Inuyasha was caught by the words that filtered through the window, his heart stopping as Shippo's tortured voice ripped through his soul.

"He tried, Kagome."

Inuyasha curled his hand into a fist, the urge to strike the wall nearly unstoppable. Shippo, the boy who'd followed them, accepted them, wanted them to be his parents, had lost so much more than he'd realized. He could hear Kagome's shaky intake of breath, could almost feel her anguish.

Raising his gaze, he held Sesshomaru's. His brother had done so much more than he'd ever realized, so much more than Inuyasha had ever thought he might. He'd been protector, and adoptive father. He'd been there...

"Inuyasha made me swear not to tell. And I kept that promise, even after seeing how hard it was for him. Inuyasha questioned everyone he could think of, trying to find a way to stay with us... and you."

How could he fix it? He couldn't kill emotion, though he desperately wished he could.

"But no one could help him. The night Kikyo came to him, he cornered me… asked me to tell you that he loved you. I was supposed to take care of you… for him..."

"I didn't tell you. I wanted to… and I tried, but you wouldn't leave Inuyasha's grave. And I was so sad, and it hurt to see you cry… he was like a father to me…"

His grave... The image those words created broke his heart: Kagome... Shippo... his friends, standing over his grave site. It was all so very wrong, no matter how good his intentions might have been.

"Shippo…"

Kagome's voice cracked as she called their son's name... Their son, their grown son...

"I missed him so much. I thought that if I waited long enough that he'd come back! Inuyasha always came back… but he didn't. I couldn't tell you what I was supposed to… I couldn't make you cry again! And when I finally got the courage to tell you, I went to find you… but you were gone! You left me… and Inuyasha never came back either."

It should have been easy to turn away... should have been right to leave them in each others' comfort. But it wasn't... it was impossible!

Inuyasha always came back…

And he had- he was there, albeit five hundred years later. And all thanks to the brother who hadn't been one at all... until now.

"I'm so sorry, Shippo! I'm so, so sorry..."

He was too...

"He loved you, Kagome… Inuyasha loved you."

His voice cracked when he spoke, and Inuyasha wondered if they could ever forgive him... if she could ever forgive him...

And then he heard it, a shuttering whisper filled with hope, with the unwavering certainty. "He loved us both, Shippo. He loved us both."

Jumping into the windowsill, Inuyasha found himself the object of Kagome's beautiful gaze. He watched the surprise register briefly across her tear stained face before the demon in her arms caught his attention. It was rare to see the kit so emotional. The tears that had rained from his eyes as a child usually disappeared as quickly as they'd come, and were more often than not the product of mischief, their chief purpose to get him into trouble with Kagome… or to steal her attention from him.

But this… this was real heartbreak. Despite his older body, Shippo was still the child his pack had adopted, still every bit the boy he'd been proud to call his son.

Inuyasha watched as Shippo reached to brush the tears from his face as he stood before taking the kit into his embrace and muttering the words he should have centuries ago, "I am proud to call you my son, proud of the man you've grown to be. I am sorry I hurt you, and one day, I hope you can forgive me."

Inuyasha closed his eyes as Shippo returned his embrace and willed his tears away when the fox demon pulled from his embrace. Inuyasha opened his eyes, surprised to see a toothy smile on the man who stood proud before him. "There was never anything to forgive, Inuyasha. You came back… I always knew you would. Just don't take so long next time, okay?"

Kagome's watery laugh pulled their gazes toward her. Sitting at the edge of the bed, she smiled, fingers raised to cover her lips shaking with emotion, tears falling softly from her eyes.

"You two should make up already," Shippo murmured before leaning down to place a tender kiss on Kagome's wet cheek. "That way we can start being a real family again." Making his way to the door, Shippo glanced over his shoulder before adding, "Miroku and Sango are asleep. Mind keeping it that way?" With a Miroku-like wiggle to his eyebrows, he turned and left, the door clicking softly behind him.

Inuyasha stood where he was, wary that if he moved, she'd run away like she had only hours before. Opening his mouth to speak, he was surprised to find her in front of him, the slender digits of her hand pressed gently against his mouth.

"I owe you an apology," she whispered. He nearly groaned when her finger traced the edge of his lower lip before she reached to cup his cheek. "I was so angry and hurt that I didn't give you a chance to explain. I didn't want to hear what you had to say. I just walled myself in to keep you out."

Inuyasha opened his mouth to tell her she had reason to be angry, that he understood that he'd hurt her, and that he regretted it with every fiber of his being. He wanted to beg her forgiveness, but she shushed him before he could even speak.

"I wrapped myself in my pain, didn't recognize the hurt Shippo had lived with, that you were living with. I became everything I never wanted to be: cold and heartless…"

"It's-" Kagome silenced him again, this time with a quick kiss to the lips leaving him stammering idiotically and fumbling for the words that had conveniently flown the proverbial coop.

"There's more…"

Trailing her hand down his chest, Kagome watched as Inuyasha's eyes closed, then shot open when she poked him in the chest with her finger, walking him backward as she spoke. "You should know that I have not ever, nor do I now, have a thing for Sesshomaru."

Inuyasha growled, the sound coming to an abrupt halt when his back collided with the wall behind him.

"You smell like him, Kagome. What else am I supposed to think?" Inuyasha replied.

"When you died, I blackmailed Sesshomaru into re-opening my side so that the jewel could be hidden where it was found. I'm sure you've been told all of this, right?"

"Yeah… but why do you have to smell like him?" Inuyasha grumbled.

"That isn't the only change that's happened, Inuyasha." Inuyasha's eyes narrowed and Kagome rushed on before he could make any other assumptions. "Sesshomaru's poison merged with something in me. At first I thought I was delirious, that it was my imagination working over time. But then I realized it wasn't."

At Inuyasha confused stare, Kagome continued, "I can feel Sesshomaru, Inuyasha." He bared his teeth, his heart pounding as each word left Kagome's lips. "If I concentrate hard enough I can feel his heart beat. I think we share our emotions, though I am not certain how that can be. He hides his emotions well, but he isn't emotionless."

"So you're telling me that you can feel his emotions, and that you think he can feel yours?" Inuyasha grumbled. It wasn't so bad, he supposed. Maybe it could be a good thing… Kagome could read Sesshomaru like a book if she decided to.

Inuyasha smiled. Raising his finger, Inuyasha traced the line of her chin, pleased by the small shiver that rippled through her body at his touch. "I suppose that's something I can live with. I just wish we could do something about your scent…"

Kagome's eyes narrowed and her heart accelerated when Inuyasha's eyes dropped to her mouth.

Struggling to find her tongue, Kagome tried… and failed to sound stern. "Are you saying I stink?"

Her skin tingled where his hand had been, her head tipping back as said hand cradled the back of her neck. She watched, speechless as his head tipped forward, his gaze focused on her mouth, her heart beat gaining speed even as his words touched her soul.

"Never… I just want it to be my scent covering you, not his…"

"So what do we do about it?"

"This." His lips brushed hers, her breath escaping in heated gasps that fanned over his face. He forgot the hardness at his back, instead focusing on the pressure of her body holding him prisoner against her bedroom wall.

He growled when she pulled away, bending his head forward to catch her retreating lips. She smiled, he could feel her lips stretch beneath his own, and only then did he pull away. It had been so long since he'd seen her smile… and regardless of the desire to kiss her again, her happiness was foremost on his priorities list.

He nearly went cross eyed as her hand raised, her finger falling softly on the bridge of his nose, the tickle searing across his flesh as the action was followed by her tender caress at his cheek.

"I love you, Inuyasha. I have always loved you…"

There was nothing he could say; no action he could provide that would be worthy enough to show her his love. But she seemed to understand, her lips brushing away the solitary tear that slid from his shimmering gaze.

Turning her in his embrace, he caught her against him, her back resting against the wall where his had been only moments before. Catching her cheek in his hand, Inuyasha could only stare at the beauty who owned his heart. Bright brown eyes glistened back at him, her rose colored lips beckoned. With trembling claws, Inuyasha smoothed her bangs from her eyes before trailing said fingers over the satin softness of her cheek.

Leaning forward, he captured her lips, his eyes open to catch her response, burying the moment forever in his heart. Touching his head to hers, he told her, his lips moving softly over hers, his eyes burning his confession into her soul. "I love you, Kagome. I will always love you."

He caught her against him as she pushed into his embrace, her hushed sob echoing in his heart. This was the way he'd wanted to tell her. This was the response he had hoped for as she buried herself in his embrace, her breath warm against his neck, her lips pressed intimately against his skin.

"Stay with me?" he whispered, his eyes closing as her body tensed against his. It was an eternity before she answered, her brown-eyed gaze reflecting his amber ones. It was only a word… a single, solitary word, but his heart stopped when he heard it, even as her lips breathed life back into it when she kissed him with such tenderness that his eyes stung and his heart clenched almost painfully in his chest.

"Forever…"

Smiling against her mouth, Inuyasha picked her up, pulling her against his chest as his kiss deepened and her laughter faded beneath a breathless moan.

Neither saw the golden eyes watching from the courtyard, or the emerald ones beside them, the knowing smile shared between them.


"She's changing." Shippo's voice was soft, his gaze focused on the window his adopted parents lingered behind.

"I know," Sesshomaru replied.

"She smells a lot like you," Shippo answered.

"Hnn."

"Inuyasha won't like it. He's always hated when Kagome would come home missing his scent." When Sesshomaru didn't reply, Shippo scuffed his shoe across the dirt under his feet. "How did you know she was changing?"

Curiosity simmered in his gaze as Sesshomaru glanced down at the kit he'd helped to raise. It didn't escape his notice that Shippo was concerned, nor did he miss the question lingering unsaid behind his eyes.

"It seems that my poison has melded with Kagome's power. I feel her emotions quite clearly, as I suspect she senses mine. It is something she and I will have to cope with." Refraining from rolling his eyes at the impatience lining the younger demon's face, Sesshomaru continued. "I did not, nor do I intend to mate Inuyasha's wench. My brother has already claimed her."

"Oh. Okay then."

Silence stretched between them. Shippo's snort of laughter pulled Sesshomaru's gaze back to the fox demon still standing at his side.

Reaching to scratch the back of his head in the only nervous gesture Sesshomaru had noticed the kit to possess, Shippo spoke, his words suspiciously edged in laughter. "Does this mean I get to call you Uncle Sesshy?"

"Only if you wish to lose your tongue."


A/N:

This is the end. I do hope you enjoyed the ride. Maybe one day I will add an Epilogue to this... after all, Sesshomaru needs his happy ending, too.

Thank you to psycochick32 for editing this story and for encouraging me to finish it; the start of it had been sitting unread for a year or more in my hard drive, collecting virtual dust. It was her desire for a *snippet* of something to read that brought this out of the darkness, lol.

There are several more stories in there as well, but they'll have to wait until Deserted is updated a few more times before I pull them from the dark recesses of my computer, lol.

I am working on Deserted, but as always, my health (and life) seem to be vying for my undivided attention. I haven't been feeling well, the pain spiraling so far out of control most days that I have found it nearly impossible to focus enough to write anything. And then there's life... it seems that time is has become something I have even less of, lol. I foresee a few late nights though, devoted to the writing of Deserted; I am determined to get you all a chapter soon. I hope you all will still be there when it is posted, lol. Please forgive me for the long wait.

I appreciate every review sent, every kind word of encouragement, and everyone out there who has let me know of their desire for more on Deserted (and the other stories that I have posted here). I *will* finish it--- for everyone who has let me know of their desire for more.

Thank you again!

Neisha