Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha or its characters. I am not making money out of this.

Kagome had believed the sun and its warmth would bring her out of the woods in her heart, sow hope once again - give her strength to keep diving in the dry, cold well expecting more than a sprained ankle.

But the days had long since become sunny, and if at all possible, she felt worse. Mocked. Abandoned.

Practicality dampened her resolve to defy the mysterious rules of the old well. Daily attempts became weekly and then monthly, only to become sparser still. Crying felt more draining than she was ready to deal with, and letting go was impossible.

As she walked home one late afternoon, the weight of her backpack and the stuffiness of her clothes seemed to have caught up with her just as she passed by a small park; the cool stone bench under a tree beckoned and she gratefully walked towards it, getting her small bottle of water from her bag as she sat. The welcome breeze moved her hair out of the way, cooling off her scalp, and Kagome decided to indulge in not caring, not doing the mechanic things she had engaged in since finding herself alone and lonely in her own world. Listlessness was a tiny and rare pleasure she intended to take advantage of.

Her eyes closed, Kagome never noticed the pair of bright blue eyes that watched her almost too intensely from across the sandboxes.

A young man moved along the trees surrounding the playing children, vaguely concealed by their sturdy trunks. His eyes unnervingly fixed on the oblivious girl on the stone bench, he stealthily moved towards her without crossing the open area between them. Quietly, he approached the bench and stood in front of its occupant, a faint crease appearing between his brilliant eyes.

She opened her eyes and screamed.

Flinching, he stepped back and allowed her to collect herself. His expression still intense, he hesitantly turned to look at her once again. Her wide eyes examined him warily.

"What are you doing? Do you always sneak up on strangers like that?" At his lack of response, she continued dubiously. "Can I help you?"

He took a few moments to answer. "...Kagome?"

Her heart pounded faster. "D-do I know you?"

The stranger suddenly grinned and gathered his long hair into a high ponytail, holding it up with a hand. Her heart sank. "Kouga-kun?"

Burying his nose in her neck, he gathered her up and held her fiercely.

"Did you never look for me?"

"No. I didn't know when you lived, where you lived...if you lived. Besides, I could fuck up everything in the past, who knows."

"...That's more thoughtful than I would expect from you, actually."

A playful scowl. "I had a lot of time to think about it."

A long pause as she sipped her soda. "Where are Ginta and Hakkaku?"

She was about to repeat the question when he finally answered. "They died."

"Oh. I'm...sorry." She wandered at the cause, the circumstances, but decided not to inquire any further. "Do you know any other youkai? How come I've never seen them...?"

He smiled kindly and almost condescendingly at her. "Only I survived. For you."

She threw a napkin at his shameless face.

Each day after that, he picked her up from school and walked her home, an insistent companion that she nevertheless appreciated. His link to her past was undeniably what made his company so welcome and kept her as physically close to him as possible; he was more reserved than his past self, seemingly never quite embracing her new entrance in his life, but it didn't matter. She hadn't tried the well once since meeting him again.

One day, she decided her future was open and her past was lost.

At the bottom of the steps that led to the shrine, she quickly looked around before pulling his face towards hers by the hair he now wore loose. The next day she ended up in his arms, in his apartment, in between his sheets. She clung to him even more shamelessly when he brought her home from his apartment every day after that. While he carried her on his back, she noticed the tiny smell of wood and wolves emanating from his hair and body in spite of the soaps and fabric softeners of her tainted time, and sighed.

"You lived all these years."


Hesitation. "You know what happened to them." A pause. "My...friends?"

He was silent, his eyes uncomfortable.

"Tell me." Her eyes were pleading. "I need to know."

He ignored her question that evening, and every subsequent evening.

During the weeks that preceded the third anniversary of the well closing, he was cold and distant most of the time they were together. Despite their closeness, she was hesitant to confront him about it. She wasn't sure if she feared him or losing him, or yet the great unknown that was his entire existence in the twenty-first century.

One evening, as they approached the bottom of the shrine steps (coming directly from her school this time, and with little contact beyond casual brushing of arms), he turned and faced her, eyes intense and dark. She held his gaze.

"They all died. Of old age. With a bunch of kids. The slayer and the monk had nine; you and mutt-face had four." Then he turned and walked off.

It took her a few trembling moments to fully comprehend him, sitting on the dirty steps that led to her home. When the butterflies subsided, she ran.

The blue light was cleansing; the catch in her belly sublime. And there he was.

To Inuyasha, she was as good as new, and her life began again.