Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha.

Rain hammered down on the small battered car in sheets so heavy that, though windscreen wipers parted it like curtains, their efforts were in vain. The road was lost to the lonely driver travelling back to her city apartment, so dense was the rain that the Japanese woman may as well have been driving underwater.

Inside the car the heat was turned up so that her feet didn't numb anymore than they already had on her hasty jog across to get into her car in the first place, and condensation fogged the windows and made her achingly aware of how damp her tights really were.

Taking one hand from the steering wheel the woman fluffed her hair in a fruitless attempt to look less like a drowned rat than she knew she would be and flipped down the sun visor to peer into the little mirror and inspect her half-drowned appearance.

Growling as she confirmed her suspicion that she did indeed look like drowned vermin, she slammed the sun visor shut and tried to focus on the road, though she could barely see two feet in front of her car.

She knew she had to be close to her apartment by now and from what little she could see of the road she knew where she was – just about. Luckily she lived on the outskirts of Tokyo city, the traffic was slightly less impossible.

Smiling at the thought of being nearly home, Kagome gave a little cheer as the rain let up slightly, allowing her to see what street she was on, turning abruptly as she almost missed the turning into her street, she sighed in relief as the shadowy shape of her apartment building came into view.

Her somewhat cheerful mood was ruined, however, when something thudded onto the roof of her car, leaving a decent sized dent in the roof.

Pushing the car door open, she poked her head out into the down pour to peer at the roof-crimper. Two intelligent green eyes frowned haughtily back at her as rain plastered her hair over her face and made her eyelids stick together in clumps.

"Fox," she uttered as the creature flicked its tail side to side in a hypnotic fashion, "where did you come from?" she asked as it strolled across the roof of her car to but her forehead with its nose and snuffle around her temple erratically, as if searching for something.


Pulling her head back, she tilted it to the side in a considering manner and held out her arms for the red fox. Part of her mind, the part that retained its sanity, reminded her that this was a stray fox that could have fleas or rabies or any manner of malignant diseases, but another part clamoured to keep the fox. The part of her that still mourned for the friends that she had lost when the well had sealed.

The fox gave a little gruff growl and slinked into her outstretched arms curling his furry face into the crook between her neck and shoulder with a contented little huff.

Resisting the urge to coo at the cub, Kagome tucked herself back inside the car and rested the animal in the passenger seat, the fox curled its tail around himself and watched her through half-lidded eyes as she wrung out her hair.

Her brief stint out of the car had soaked her through and she shuddered as the water dripped down her back, cold against the warmer skin.

"Home then," she muttered, parking her car in the dry of her apartment's lot. The fox proved surprisingly obedient when she held her arms open to carry him into the apartment.

Shoes squelched against the asphalt, leaving footprints behind as she made her way into the small lift that would deliver her to the apartment.

Fumbling with her keys, she unlocked the door to her apartment and stepped inside the little genkan. Flicking her soggy shoes into the getabako, she exchanged them for fluffy-bunny slippers which earned a hiss from her foxy companion. The apartment rattled as she switched on lights and turned up the heat, her somewhat threadbare furniture dwarfed by the white apartment. She'd only just moved in two weeks ago, packing boxes still contained assorted stuff that she hadn't had the heart to put out on display. It seemed the more she dressed the empty apartment the more empty it felt, until she began to wonder whether she had made the right decision in leaving homes after all.

Shaking her head wryly, she conceded that regardless of how empty the apartment became, it was better than living at the shrine. Because the shrine housed the well and the well had betrayed her and trapped her here.

She tried not to think like that anymore, after all, everything happens for a reason, but sometimes the bitter thoughts welled up and overflowed.

Plopping the fox down on the kitchen table, she ransacked the cupboard for something suitable to feed it, finding an old tin of Buyo's food, she decided it was the best she could do and made up a dish for the critter.

When the dish clanked onto the wood at the fox's feet, it looked at her like it was insulted and she folded her arms at it.

"Be that way!" she huffed, throwing her hands into the air, "I didn't have to take you in you know!" she ranted, shuffling over to the cupboard and grabbing some instant ramen; she couldn't find the urge to cook tonight and the faint tinge of nostalgia was comforting.

Red ears twitched when she added the water and a nose snuffled as she walked past her companion on the way to the sofa. Tucking herself up into a ball on the sofa, she giggled when the fox jumped onto her leg and began curling up against her.

"You like ramen?" she asked in a considering manner, shrieking as the fox stuck its entire head into her cup. Blinking bemusedly, she watched as the hungry fox devoured her meal and shrugged, "guess I'll make some more."

By the time she had returned with some more food, the fox had finished off the first batch and was making itself at home as it snuggled into her favourite cushion that her mother had made once upon a time, sniffing appreciatively.

"Hey Kitsune-chan," she cooed, scratching under his chin dotingly and discovering something that was startlingly similar to a collar. The little silver tag proclaimed the fox to be property of Watanabe-san, and held a number to be called in case the animal was lost. "Someone owns you?" she asked in surprise, grinning as the fox butted her hand with his head, miffed that she had stopped showering him with her affections.

Resuming her petting, she checked the clock that sat beside her television and frowned. "Well, its nearly eleven now, no sense in waking anyone at this time of night," she rationalised, though she was harbouring a rather irrational urge to keep the bundle of orange fur all to herself, "shall we go to bed?"

Taking his purr as a yes, Kagome scooped him up and wandered into the bedroom, burying her face in his fur, uncaring over fleas. The fox was comforting, and though the reminder of Shippo made her heart ache somewhat, the fox's presence made her apartment seem a little more like a home.


Opening heavy eyes, Kagome was confronted with the pressure she felt on her chest and smiled blearily at the ball of fur nestled on her chest, snoozing contentedly in the sun that leaked through her drapes.

Luckily for Kagome, as it was already ten o'clock, it was Sunday and hence it was her day off and even if it hadn't been she was pretty sure Hojo wouldn't have minded if she'd missed a day at the office. Working under Hojo in a doctor's clinic was hardly her ideal job, but it was something and it paid the bills, even if it did come with the addition of Dr Hojo who mooned over her from afar.

Frowning at the furry chest-compressor, she scrunched up her nose reluctantly, realising that she'd have to call Watanabe-san and inform them that she'd found their fox.

Taking her time getting ready, using up all the hot water with an overly luxurious shower, blow drying her hair meticulously until it lay straight and sleek, taking time to ensure that the fox was fed – Ramen again peculiarly enough, Kagome attempted to stretch out her time with the fox but eventually she had to call and tell the owner that their fox was at her apartment.

Luckily for her, the call went straight to voicemail and after leaving a message, she settled in for a day of lounging around with her very affectionate house guest, who seemed quite content to simply sit on her and sniff at all of her worldly possessions in a curious manner.

When they watched an action movie together he growled at the villain and watched amusedly when people jumped impossible distances, if he could have, Kagome suspected he would've scoffed at such.

But at around sundown, there was a knock at her door and Kagome's elation keeled over and died in her chest, ruefully gathering the fox into her arms, she prepared herself to give him back to his rightful owner.

Yet, as she approached the door, the fox wriggled free of her grasp and went to hide under her sofa, looking abashed for some reason. Shrugging, she peeled the door open anyway to reveal a stony face.

"I do not own a fox," Watanabe-san corrected her earlier telephoned assumptions before he even glanced up at the strange woman who had called his telephone number earlier.

"No way," Kagome gasped, backing away from the man... no, not a man.

Watanabe-san looked at the woman and narrowed his eyes as she backed away from him like she'd seen the devil standing on her doorstop. Eyes crinkled at the edges as he recognised the tilt of her chin and the set of her eyes and the calluses on her fingers, breathing deeply he confirmed it.

"Miko," he spoke, shifting his silver plait over his shoulder and eyeing her somewhat distrustfully, "you are still alive?"

"Sesshoumaru," she breathed.

Alarmed, Sesshoumaru Watanabe watched as her eyes rolled back into her skull and she collapsed backwards, keeling over onto the hardwood floor. Moving with speed he very rarely attempted nowadays, he caught her fragile human body before her skull could collide with the floor and, shutting the door with a booted foot, he entered her apartment to lay her out on the sofa.

Gazing down at the woman, he calculated her to be around seven years older than when he had seen her last, clinging to his half-brother's arm. Not much else had changed except her age, she still smelt the same, still carried the same vulnerability about her and still needed rescuing, even if it had only been from a hardwood floor this time.

Suddenly warning bells flared to life in his mind as he recalled the message she had left on his phone earlier.

"A fox?" he muttered, sniffing deeply and growling at what he found, "whelp, why did you see it fit to call me here?"

The fox that Kagome had been housing trotted up to the belligerent Sesshoumaru rather sheepishly and morphed neatly back into a seventeen year old looking Kitsune demon, who was also rather naked.

Shippo rubbed the back of his head shamefacedly and shrugged abashedly. "I live with you Sesshoumaru, I know how lonely you are, and I figured that Mama was the only other person on this planet who would understand you, someone you could talk to who isn't an 'annoying Kitsune brat'. She is someone who understands!"

A brow quirked incredulously. "This is your attempt at matchmaking?" he needled.

The Kitsune coughed awkwardly. "Well, Oba-sama might have had something to do with it," he hedged, toeing the ground awkwardly.

"Hn," Sesshoumaru grouched, he might've known his insufferable mother was still meddling with his life, even when she lived in China.

Kagome grumbled under her breath and Sesshoumaru glanced down at her, gently tucking her hair behind her ear as he had done to Rin many times before.

"Why are you not in China? Is Rin well?" Sesshoumaru interrogated the Kitsune dubiously.

"Rin is fine, and I'm not in China because we're all worried about the world's biggest recluse," Shippo prodded.

Shaking his head in chagrin, Sesshoumaru lifted the Miko to his chest and stood again, watching as she snuggled into his chest.

"Give her time and she'll get under your skin and into your heart," Shippo confided, "and you won't be so alone."

"I am always alone." It is better that way, a part of him argued, whilst another part, the part that had adored company as a child, cried out for some companionship.

"Well, maybe you don't have to be."


When Kagome woke up next, she had no idea where she had gotten to and sat up with a start, gathering the heavy blanket to her chest as if it was a shield of some sort.

The room she was in was huge, with warm soft carpeting, a bed with a golden canopy that matched the golden window drapes and had an antique looking komode and a beautiful hand crafted byōbu that had been intricately painted with the form of a white dog demon.

She'd never been in such an expensive looking room in all her life and she quickly tucked her knees to her chest as if she could break something.

The screen door slid open and she nearly fell out of the huge bed – not an easy feat considering she was nowhere near an edge – in shock.

"Conscious?" the silver haired demon asked, his hair falling around his shoulders in a somewhat crimped fashion due to being tied in a plait for most of the day.

Blinking bemused blue eyes at the demon lord who looked relaxed and – even stranger – even tempered, she nodded hesitantly. The rest of his body appeared from behind the door and he held up a tea pot.

"Want tea?"

In a movement that Sesshoumaru didn't even catch and before Kagome even realised what she was doing, she pitched herself from the bed and threw herself headlong at the Inu, arms locking around his neck like a koala as she clung to him and began to sob.

Somehow, Sesshoumaru had managed to put the teapot down before she'd reached him, and he petted the crying woman awkwardly as she saturated the material of his shirt, supporting her at the waist when her knees began to knock uncontrollably.

Some had accused Sesshoumaru of having no emotions, which was far from the truth. He simply refused to wear his emotions on his sleeve; his venerable sire had taught him that to allow your opponent to see your emotions on your face was foolhardy, so he had crafted a mask to wear. And he had worn it always. But this woman who clung to him was no stranger to emotions, he wondered what it must be like to allow oneself the release of tears.

Eventually the wailing sobs gave way to fitful sniffling and strife sounding hiccups, and he pried her hands from the material of his shirt as he ushered her to sit at the kotatsu.

She fell onto the zabuton gratefully and leant an elbow on the kotatsu, trying her best to dry her eyes with her shirt sleeve only to be firmly reprimanded by Sesshoumaru who tossed a handkerchief at her head in a stern manner.

Returning with the teapot, he took up a zabuton opposite Kagome and poured her a cup, watching in satisfaction as she moulded her hands around the warm cup and clutched it to her chest.

"So," Sesshoumaru said, watching her over the rim of his teacup, "how have you been?"

Watery blue eyes blinked at him in amusement and he watched in cantankerous confusion as she dissolved into a small pile of giggles on her zabuton, putting her teacup down so that she didn't spill her tea.

Sesshoumaru did not much appreciate people laughing at him and, had it been anyone but her, he would have reprimanded them, but the woman had been crying herself dry a few moments ago so he put it down to hormones and took the haughty high ground.

Finally, when she found herself able to look him in the eye without breaking into a fresh round of giggles all over again, she breathed deeply and offered an apologetic shrug. "It's your fault," she told him seriously.

He offered her a disbelieving, somewhat offended look. "I fail to see how," he retorted.

"The Sesshoumaru I knew was not one for small talk, and yet you just gave me tea and asked me how I'd been," she insisted, pointing at him accusingly.

A silver brow was quirked at her. "To live this long the practicalities of human interaction had to be mastered," he huffed, looking – if Kagome had to pick an emotion – sulky.

A small sad smile quirked the corners of her lips. "Are you the only one who..."

"Your Kitsune is still alive," he said, shifting somewhat uncomfortably, unsure as to whether she'd begin crying again, "he was your house guest recently."

"So that fox was Shippo-chan?" she demanded incredulously, "why didn't he just come and see me, why pretend to be a fox?"

"Hn," Sesshoumaru's lips turned down in distaste, "he wished for us to meet. The kit is as crafty as Hahaue."

"Shippo knows your mother?" Kagome asked, completely bewildered by this latest development.

"Indeed. Rin was insistent that we keep him once you were gone, so I acquired yet another stray," Sesshoumaru acknowledged, taking a sip of his tea.

"So Rin is..." Kagome stumbled over the last word and gazed at her lap uncomfortably.

"She is married and mated to the insufferable Kitsune who claims you as mother," Sesshoumaru finished for her, nodding as she lifted hopeful eyes to him, "but Inuyasha is dead."

She shuddered slightly at his tone when he admitted that to her, there was no trace of sadness or loss but then, what had she expected? He was Sesshoumaru after all, modern clothes and small talk did not a caring brother make.

"He kept his promise to you... or rather to the Miko who was you," Sesshoumaru elaborated uncharacteristically, the kit had been right; he did not want to drive the Miko away, "and died happy."

"He did?" she asked in a small voice, shifting uncomfortably in her seat, "you are sure?"

"Quite," Sesshoumaru reassured her, "if not then you would not be alive right now. Your previous incarnation and Inuyasha live inside your soul now, Miko."

Pressing a hand over her heart, tears sprang to her eyes once again. "Really?"

"Hn," he eyed her tear streaked cheeks and pressed another handkerchief upon her. He never had been able to handle a crying woman and he never would be able to. She took the handkerchief – blue this time – and mopped up her face sheepishly.

"Thanks," she muttered, cocking her head to one side as something occurred to her, "what about your lands?"

His brows drew together minutely and she almost flinched as he stood in a movement too fast to register and paced to the window in the room. "My lands are here, but the human laws deny my claim over them, now all I have is my home."

It must be limiting for him, she thought sadly, for the demon who dreamt of supreme conquest to have lost his rights to his lands in an attempt to stay alive for all these years. As the world had changed Sesshoumaru had been forced to adapt, but Kagome got the feeling that he'd rather have fought it all tooth and nail, that he wanted it all back.

"I'm sorry," she tried, but the words tasted wrong in her mouth, "even though that really doesn't help and probably doesn't make things any better for you," she mumbled into her handkerchief morosely, then she perked up somewhat, "is Jaken still around?"

Sesshoumaru snorted once and turned wry eyes onto the sitting Miko. "I have not been able to rid myself of him yet, Miko."

"But," Kagome's eyebrows creased a little 'v' in the centre of her forehead, "how does he live his life when he can't go out around humans?"

"As a chef who never leaves my home," Sesshoumaru muttered darkly, exasperated by her stifled giggle at the look of pure murder on his face – as long as it wasn't directed at her it was quite amusing.

"Is he any good?" she asked, tilting her head, her facing lighting with an innocent smile that didn't fool Sesshoumaru for a second.

"Hn," golden eyes calculating, he took in her appearance and nodded, "you will stay for dinner, and find out for yourself."

She blinked, baffled by his proclamation and, under the weight of his golden eyes, couldn't find it in her to refuse him. Nodding whilst glaring a hole in the kotatsu, she hesitantly looked up when he moved over to the wardrobe.

"Wear this," he instructed, pulling a neatly folded furisode from the bottom drawer of the wardrobe.

"Wait, why do I have to wear formal wear?" she demanded as she took the eggshell blue ensemble from him.

"Jaken is very particular and if you do not abide by his rules he may do something unspeakable to you food," Sesshoumaru threatened passively, waving a hand in a blasé manner that made Kagome grit her teeth.

"Fine!" she huffed, she really didn't want Jaken to do anything unspeakable to her dinner. Of course, she could have said no to the entire thing and returned to her apartment but all that was waiting for her there was emptiness and being with Sesshoumaru was pleasant – regardless of the many times he had attempted to annihilate her in the past.

As she stood he tucked her under his arm and led her efficiently through the manor house, pointing out things she could recognise from the past and showing her the pond that Rin had instructed be installed fifty years ago. The koi in the pond looked at them in a rather bored manner that made Kagome giggle. They ornery fish reminded her of Sesshoumaru.

The last stint of their tour took them to the stables and Kagome was enchanted to become reacquainted with the two headed dragon that Rin had often rode on in times gone by. Ah and Un for their part were thrilled to have someone come and see them, as Sesshoumaru explained that he was the only one who could visit the demon steed.

Kagome soon found herself coiled in long necks and stroking manes as she cooed gently at the beast who sniffed and snorted and played with her hair in an endearing manner.

Sesshoumaru's work called him away and Kagome was left to catch up with Shippo who was to leave to return to China soon. He regaled her with stories of his life since he had seen her last and she cooed and fussed over the Kitsune that she had known so well.

But, as Shippo left and Kagome decided to go and prepare herself for dinner, she was confronted by a conundrum; how was she supposed to wear the furisode? It was much more complicated than the ones she had previously worn to shrine festivals and she really didn't want to hurt the fabric that looked so delicate and expensive.

Surrounded by layers of kimono that gathered around her knees as she knelt in the small nest was how Sesshoumaru found her later. He was already dressed in his old ensemble, minus that pointy armour and swords, but the minute lip quirk when he set sights on her was all she needed to begin to beam back at him.


"Hn," Sesshoumaru waded in and dressed her with deft sure hands and she tried to ignore the embarrassment of having to ask him to help dress her.

If Inuyasha could see me now he'd blow a gasket, she mused wryly, trying to ignore the hands that ghosted over her as Sesshoumaru diligently dressed her like she was a life sized doll. But she couldn't deny that the closeness here with Sesshoumaru was nice and the lack of need to keep up a false pretence was a balm to her soul.

I bet I look like a fool, she mourned as deft claws tugged at ties and her obi was neatly arranged at her back.

"Thanks," she muttered, cheeks pinking and he quirked a brow at her.

"Come," he ordered, capturing her arm and leading her through into a traditional dining room.

The food laid out for them was exquisite and the udon was the best Kagome could ever remember tasting, when mentioning her exultations to Sesshoumaru he pursed his lips slightly.

"This is the only pro to Jaken," he answered seriously, causing his poor vassal to prostrate himself at his master's feet, crying happily.

"And I think that is the highest compliment you've ever paid him," Kagome commented wryly as Sesshoumaru shook the tiny demon off his boot, distaste writ clearly upon his face.

"If this is what I receive," Sesshoumaru declared haughtily, "then I shall never do it again."

"Poor Jaken," she mumbled as Sesshoumaru deftly kicked him from the room – years of practise she supposed.

"Hn," he reclaimed his seat opposite her and pressed his fingers together in contemplation, "did you know that I am your boss?"

Startled by the sudden declaration, she bit out, "Are not."

"Hn, are so," his lips quirked in slight amusement at the whimsical childlike notions Kagome was prone to displaying. "I own the clinic you work in, even if Hojo-san does employ you," he expounded, chin tilting with some of his old arrogance.

"Ah," she nodded, "so you own the clinic, what else do you do?"

Motioning that they should adjourn to the gardens, Sesshoumaru took her arm and lead her back to the koi pond where they were promptly joined by Ah-Un. Sitting against the dragon steed, Sesshoumaru began to speak.

"I own several buildings and let them out to people, I also run a company that buys buildings at auction to fix up and sell on," he shrugged, "and then I own several clinics like the one you work at."

"How did you get into that?" she asked, twirling a strand of hair around one finger.

Lips quirking, he replied, "Rin," her name was said like an explanation, but at her creased brow he elaborated, "she was constantly insisting she had some sort of illness and I grew tired of not being able to stroll into the building and demand an appointment," he grumbled.

Giggling, she noticed that the strand of hair she held on to was surprisingly soft and silky, not as heavy as her own hair and her mouth popped open in shock as she realised she'd been playing with his hair. Yanking her hand away as if it had caught fire, she swiftly blushed to the roots of her hair, his snort of amusement doing nothing to quell her mortification.

"You may continue," he allowed, shifting his head so that his hair fanned across her knees like a silken blanket.

The physical closeness between them was equal parts comforting and confusing and she tentatively shifted her fingers through the soft masses of sleek hair. Patting his shoulder, she tentatively moved him until he was resting his head in her lap, triumphant when she encountered no resistance from the demon lord.

Ignoring the strange mix of nervous butterflies and precious contentment that she'd only experienced when with Inuyasha, she played with his hair. It felt good to be close to him like this, she could feel his warm breath, feel his heart beating inside his chest and she was struck by the fact that he was alive and so was she and that had never felt so good.

Sesshoumaru felt the contentment he hadn't felt since he'd been free to wander the lands that everyone knew belonged to him well up inside his chest once more. Perhaps Shippo had been right, maybe it would be healing to have someone around who understood.

"You should come and live here," he proposed, watching her through heavily lidded eyes as she traced the point of one of his ears with a finger tip.

Pausing in her ministrations long enough to earn a grunt from Sesshoumaru, she frowned at him. "What?"

"You heard," he grouched, ignoring her huff.

"I have an apartment, Sesshoumaru, I can't just abandon that to come and live with you because you like my hair care," she niggled, tugging on a forelock.

"No, you should live here because you make a house a home. Your apartment is an apartment and being inside it felt... cold. That is why you should live here."

"With you?" she questioned, "won't that be weird?"

"Hn," Sesshoumaru nudged her hand with his nose and she wryly continued petting him, "It would be... home."

"Home, huh?" she mused, dropping her forehead so it hit his gently, "sounds good to me."



Stepping from the car and pulling her suitcase with her, Kagome smoothed her skirt as she looked up at Sesshoumaru's home.

Her bags had been packed, her belongings already at the house, all that was left was to actually move in.

The door opened and golden eyes filled with illconealed mirth examined her as she walked closer.

"Tadaima," she greeted truthfully.


A/N: This was written for Skye's weekly challenge 'Warning' and amounts to 4,965 words.

Okaeri - Welcome home

Tadaima - I'm home