Leon: What was with the extra part of the chapter?

Chris: Yeah, it was weird.

Yoruko: … Do you mean with Kagome's mom?

Leon: Well, yeah.

Yoruko: It was inspired by an Inuyasha/Devil May Cry x-over.

Kagome: The sad part is that it isn't as farfetched as I'd like. -.-'

Shippo: I think it's kind of funny.

Pon-chan: No, I think it's cute!

Disclaimer: Yoruko Rhapsodos doesn't own Inuyasha, Petshop of Horrors, or anything else in her story which can be recognized from somewhere else.

Chapter Nine

Cats, Ballerinas, and

Matchmaking Mothers

It had been close to a month since Chris Orcot arrived in LA and Leon, Kagome, and D's life. Most of the time, he spent his days in the pet shop. His nights, too, if it got particularly late when Kagome was ready to leave or he fell asleep. When that happened, Kagome tended to stay in yet another spare room in the shop. She was sure that D did a better job at taking care of Chris than said boy's actual brother in some aspects. However, taking care of a child almost full time required a woman's touch. Besides, D had been unusually happy when she got to the shop the one morning she went to her apartment without Chris.

Because of the fact that the one woman of the human (or supposedly human) part of the group lived right next door, Chris had yet to even step foot in Leon's apartment. However, it was bound to happen sometime. The detective had also mentioned once that he did, indeed, have a twin bed in his apartment's second bedroom just in case. He had even been promised that he would have a day off soon. So that led to where Kagome, D, and Chris were now. As the caretaker of his little brother that Leon trusted more, Kagome had the spare key to Leon's apartment kept in a safe place in her own apartment. So on an almost subtle tip from Jill, Leon's coworker, the trio had decided to do some spring cleaning for the blonde man. Even Q-chan seemed stunned and disgusted at how messy it turned out to be.

"... I... didn't think there was anyone real that actually lived like this." Kagome finally said, "Not anyone that was supposedly an adult at any rate."

"I agree, Kagome-chan. I have seen many disturbing things in my life..." D started, then, erupting into a rage, "But even I have never seen anything so terrifying... as this apartment!"

"This is pretty creepy. Leon's apartment makes my brother Souta's bedroom look clean in comparison." Kagome added.

And thus the cleaning spring began. Starting with tossing out old magazines, dirty magazines, and posters no child should see. In the back of her mind, Kagome did think that it was gross and disturbing, she was starting to sympathize more with D's opinion of Leon. However, in the back of her mind she sadly couldn't bring herself to be surprised. Leon Orcot was a man, and a bachelor living on his own to boot. D, however, was raised in a more traditional manner and spent most of his time around animals and thus gained more disdain for the adult Orcot's ways than ever. The two adults were also surprised because Chris couldn't have possibly made it any messier.

The 'spring cleaning' was brought to an early halt. Not by Leon's early arrival either, though he did arrive at the shop at the same time as they got back. Around an hour and a half earlier than he usually managed when he was able to take off early thanks to Jill. Rather, the argument was instigated by D having broken one of his surprisingly long finger nails. (Kagome still wondered why a non human had nails long enough to be dangerous instead of claws.) Why Kagome was almost surprised at D being childish enough to start it by blaming the sort-of injury on the detective was beyond her. One would think that after all that time, she would be used to how the two men appeared unable to get along. She was, at least, used to Leon's foul mouth, against all odds.

She still glared daggers for him for swearing around Chris, though. Children were easily impressionable after all, and Kagome would rather that the quiet boy didn't pick up any of his older brother's worse habits. In other situations, she would have scolded the blonde, possibly accompanied by a bonk on the head. Kagome decided, though, that she would rather not add fuel to the fire by getting involved in the shouting match. So, with the help of one of the younger Orcot's friends, a young female European badger called Pon-chan, the blue eyed woman began to usher Chris out of the room. Before they'd done more than stand up, the argument was stopped by D. The Chinese man proved yet again that one, he was more mature than the blonde American he'd befriended against all odds and two, that Leon needed to learn not to mess with D or invoke his temper.

Kagome agreed with D about Leon's posters, so for once she ignored the probable injury D gave the detective when he threw a cup at him. Instead, she excused herself to go check on the animals that were currently in the shop's infirmary. Later, a monkey mentioned something very amusing to Kagome. Leon had told Chris about his suspicions concerning the unique pet shop, and that he was counting on the boy to relate anything suspicious that he noticed. It sounded adorable, from her point of view; she also thought that it was incredibly crafty of Leon, though it also fit him to a T to do something like that. Choosing not to mention it to D took little thought on the former sort-of miko's part.

Besides that Kagome knew the dual-eyed man probably expected such a thing anyway, she knew that it had been useless. To Chris, the only animal in the shop was Q-chan. All of the animals in the shop looked human to the nine year old. Some incredibly odd looking, but still humanoid nonetheless. (Pon-chan, for example, had curly blonde hair, and wore a frilly pink dress.) Kagome was giving Leon's brother some lessons in controlling his psychic and spiritual abilities. A couple of subtle related lessons mixed in as well, too, of course. In spite of this, though, Christopher Orcot was still a special case. She was sure that until the final recovery step of regaining his voice occurred, the animal forms of the shop's nonhuman residents would elude the child's grasp.

Kagome almost couldn't hold in a giggle when she pictured Leon's reaction if he were to find out how Chris saw things. The boy was already proving to be better at using his head than his big brother, who was over twice his age. Chris had witnessed entire transactions between D and customers of his where the pet in question was young, therefore looked like a fellow child to the blonde boy. He knew that human trafficking was illegal. Yet, he knew that it wasn't the sort of thing Leon warned him about because they were all orphans who were happy to have a new home. Also, D and Kagome could be very picky about which customers they accepted, especially when the animal in question was a younger one. Unsavory people always left empty handed or with a pet that even Chris knew would at best do nothing but bring misfortune. So in the end, Chris dismissed and all but forgot the request since each and every one of them could hear him in spite of his lack of speech, even D and Kagome.

As these thoughts were going through Chris' mind, D talked Kagome into bringing Chris along on an errand. "I guess it's all right. I don't see what harm it can do." she said.

Both being in agreement, D called the blonde boy over. "Chris!"

"I know that it's raining right now, Chris-kun..." Kagome said when the boy reached them, "But would you mind keeping me company on an errand? I'm headed to Tokyo to get some mille-fueille for D."

"Oooo, fried mille-fueille!"Clearly, Chris was excited; it seemed he liked sweet things more than his older brother did.

"Thanks for coming with me, Chris-kun." Kagome said when they were on their way, "I'm expecting a package from my mother and I was planning on bringing her latest baking for a tea time snack at the shop, but she said it would be a little late."

"No problem, Kagome." Chris assured the woman, "You and the count make such delicious snacks! You both have the best tea too."

"Why thank you." Kagome said with a giggle, "By the way, if you're not going to use your umbrella please put up your hood."

Getting what they needed from Little Tokyo didn't take long. Of course, that could have been because Kagome had been to Little Tokyo enough to know her way around it fairly well, as she may have been living in America for a while, but she was Japanese. So, the pair and Q-chan were soon on their way back. Their progress was halted by a sound that was clearly someone crying. Something that Kagome and Chris had in common was that despite whatever past customers might say about the Japanese woman, both were very compassionate. Which meant that neither gave investigating the source of the pitiful sound a single thought.

They went down the alley next to them. It was obviously where the sound was coming from. Kagome supposed, in hindsight after the fact, that it was ironic what they found. At the moment, such thoughts were the furthest from her mind. It was, to the eyes of Kagome and, apparently, Chris, a well dressed girl close to Chris' age. Unlike Chris, it was also obvious to Kagome that the girl was a cat; something proved by the girl's aura and the fact that before they saw the girl herself they saw the shadow of a feline.

'Her eyes...' Chris noticed with a blush, 'They're like jewels... like emeralds...' "What's the matter?"Chris asked her, "Are you lost?"

"..." at first, she didn't reply, giving Chris the wrong idea.

"Crap. All this time with Kagome and the count has made me forget that people can't hear me." Chris complained.

'Hm? I didn't realize that Chris could see her real form.' Kagome noted, 'Maybe his abilities are stronger than I thought.'

"I am not lost." the cat claimed, "I simply stepped out to get a little fresh air."

"What? You can hear me?" Chris exclaimed in surprise, then said, "I... I'm Christopher, and this is Kagome. What's your name?"

"Hmph. I don't share my name with commoners like you." she claimed.

"Now, now. Don't you know that calling people commoners is rude here? You don't want to offend anyone." Kagome reprimanded gently.

Chris, however, reacted much differently. "Huh! O-okay..."

If she didn't know any better Kagome might have thought it was because she was embarrassed at being called rude. As it was, she could tell when the cat introduced herself as Pandora that something about Chris had struck a cord in the feline. She barely suppressed a giggle at how adorable it was when Pandora acted ridiculously embarrassed when her stomach growled in hunger. If Kagome hadn't realized that Pandora had lived a pampered- and probably sheltered- life, she would have been surprised. Chris, to the younger Orcot's credit, didn't react beyond inviting Pandora to come back with them to the pet shop after he recovered from the surprise of the cute 'girl's' strange words. Kagome mentally sweat-dropped when Pandora lightened up at the mention of a 'count'. It made the blue eyed woman almost need to bite her tongue from mentioning around the feline that it was actually D's grandfather who was the count.

At the time and during the walk to the shop, Kagome thought nothing of Chris' and her latest so-called charity case. After all, her travels in the past combined with her time with D meant that if she had one hundred yen- or since she was in the United States now, one dollar- for every time she ended up delayed or in a troublesome situation because she was unable to resist stopping to help someone, she would be one rich woman. That all changed the instant the three entered the shop. Kagome had a feeling, judging by the Chinese man's reaction, that D recognized Pandora or had an idea of who she was. Though she also realized that they probably hadn't met before. She did think it was cute, though, when Pon-chan proved to be jealous. (She thought it very foolish of T-chan to call the young European badger out on it.)

Meanwhile, as Leon was at the station, the chief was giving the blonde man and his coworkers a very unusual case.

"Whatever you do, don't speak to the press. This is all very hush hush." the chief ordered, "

Leon Orcot was not a happy man when he found out that the case was searching for a missing- presumed kidnapped... cat, of all things. A cat wearing, apparently, a very expensive necklace. Leon's vocal complaint at being removed from the case he had been on offended a boy that was only a little older than Chris. The boy turned out to be Saleem, the crowned prince of Femen, the country whose American embassy the cat disappeared from. According to Femen's ambassador to the United States, the cat was very important. Dire consequences could result from anything bad happening to the cat. Every police officer present was hard pressed to no react to how strange the man was sounding. When the ambassador showed them a picture of the cat, he seemed to think the feline would be easy to recognize.

Meanwhile, back in the pet shop Kagome had just helped Pandora clean up. She proved to be even more beautiful when not soaking wet, and Chris couldn't help but blush. Of course, Kagome glared at D when he bonked the boy on the head to snap him out of it. D almost gulped, knowing that if he wasn't careful Kagome would make him go a day without tea time, therefore going short on sweets. Trouble brewed in paradise when upon D offering to take her home, Pandora refused and said that she had run away.

Naturally, Chris could empathize since he'd run away from home himself, so... "Hey, Kagome, Count... We have room for one more, don't we? We can squeeze her in no prob'."

Kagome raised an eyebrow, but merely shrugged. "Ask D... I don't mind."

It was D's decision and not hers after all. Her days playing hero were behind her, and it wasn't her place to decide. However, she would sit back and watch the proceedings with glee. She just needed to remember to drill D for information about what was going on later. She was sure this would be amusing. If she was lucky, it would be as good for one of her fantasy and supernatural stories as the formerly blind girl with the guard dog.

"Uh... Chris?" D tried to protest.

However, he wasn't given a chance. The 'girl' in question accepted before D could finish voicing his thoughts. As Pandora took off her necklace, talking about a change of clothes, a haircut, and not wanting to be called by a title, Kagome mentally shook her head. It seemed that this time, D was stuck between a rock and a hard place.

'A haircut, huh... I'd better find some clothes... and the scissors.' Kagome thought with a chuckle.

To her surprise, D followed her. As a result, she found out something interesting about Pandora. At the same time as Leon found out just why the MIA cat was so important, in fact. Pandora's necklace was the property of the heir to Femen's throne. The 'Eye of Persia' as the emerald was called, was a very old heirloom. The king had sixteen sons who all wanted the throne, so Pandora had been raised specifically to decide his successor. She had already decided, which was why Saleem had been introduced to the police force as the crowned prince.

"Pandora took immediately to Saleem, refusing to leave his side day or night." the ambassador told the Americans.

Then said ambassador proceeded to explain that the disappearance of Pandora last night was the doing of one of Saleem's brothers in an attempt to usurp the throne. Leon and Jill were walking down a street as they talked about the case afterwards. Her having to correct Leon about Pandora being a Maine Coon rather than a Persian as he thought led to Jill's insisting that he pay D a visit.

Meanwhile, D was ready to give Pandora her haircut. "Are you sure about this?"

"Absolutely. Get chopping." Pandora insisted.

'Well, if we do this not only will she be happy, there's no way Leon would recognize her if he gets involved.' Kagome realized, then took the scissors from D.

"... Kagome...?" he questioned.

"You're hesitant, and a man." she said, "You normally have steady hands, but she's liable to end up with bald spots or a strange looking haircut."

"As you wish." he said, deferring to her opinion.

"Now, how short do you want it?" Kagome asked the feline.

"Cut it all off!" Pandora demanded.

When the makeover was complete, Pandora was satisfied with how she looked. Plus, Chris apparently thought she looked even cuter... When D tried asking the runaway feline about her necklace, she didn't care. Rather, she pretty much gave them free reign where it was concerned. Right after she walked away from D and Kagome came a knock on the door. Along with a very familiar aura and scent. (for those with a heightened sense of smell). Leon had once again visited the shop during his work hours. D clearly wasn't happy.

"Detective Orcot, to what do I owe this pleasure?" D said, not even trying to hide his annoyance.

"Work! I'm on a case." Leon said.

"Hi Kagome, hi Count! It's been a while." Jill greeted.

"... If your coworker wasn't here this time, Leon-kun, I'd accuse you of using your job as simply an excuse to get away with being her while you're on duty." Kagome stated drily.

Somehow, Leon managed to ignore the comment. Instead, he went straight to business. He showed the pair who ran the shop a picture of the 'missing' cat. The detective did, however, mention the bare details of the case briefly. All the time spent dealing with and occasionally simply spending time with the oriental duo he studiously avoided labeling his friends had taught him that being frank or at least honest meant they were more likely to cooperate. Naturally, this was one of the times when it failed to work.

Animals would almost always come first to D, though there was little he wouldn't do either for or to protect the few non-animals he came to genuinely care about. On the flip side, Kagome's days playing heroine or do-gooder may have ended years ago, but she had never been able to turn away anyone in need. So they denied having seen Pandora. She no longer looked the same as in the photo, so without hesitation the now annoyed pet shop owner allowed Leon to see all of the cats in the shop to prove his lack of involvement. The hair cut had been just what the doctor ordered, because Leon hadn't had a clue that Pandora was right under his nose. Not even asking Chris for confirmation of D's honesty did any good. D and Kagome were, indeed, lying, but Chris had no idea that Pandora was really a cat so he really thought he was telling the truth when he confirmed his sort-of babysitters' supposed honesty.

With that done, Jill and Leon left the shop- but not before Jill revealed the importance of the emerald from Pandora's necklace. (Much to her male coworker's annoyance.) Once they were gone Kagome and D exchanged a glance. Then D brought out the necklace, a contemplative look on his face. Kagome rose an eyebrow for a moment, but then she smiled to herself. Clearly, D had another of his plans to bring happiness to a pet and, possibly, their owner.

"Wow! He didn't recognize me at all! Not even at a second look!" Pandora exclaimed in surprise.

"Or, felines really aren't Leon's forte and he's not just giving excuses when he claims he's more of a dog person." Kagome commented.

"Indeed... indeed..." D responded, "But then, my dear detective's not the brightest bulb in the bunch."

Pandora then proceeded to express just how grateful she was, and how happy she was to be free. Afterward, they all went out to a park. As they enjoyed a picnic style snack, they asked the feline what exactly she wanted to do. She decided she wanted to visit what she called 'common folk'. This led to yet another visit to Leon's apartment... which was still dirty. All the fuss instigated by D breaking his nail had distracted the trio from their original goal when they previously visited. Or rather, D, Chris, and Pandora did. The original destination had been Kagome's apartment, but she'd decided to check her mail since she was there for once.

Kagome returned to the ridiculously dirty apartment to find an interesting site. More obscene posters had been torn down, and the three were crowded around a picture. A picture, to be specific, of Leon with his and Chris' mother. It made Kagome smile. For the often loud and laid back blonde detective to have a photo like that, he must have truly cared for his mother. Then Chris pointed out that she looked like Madame Sultana, the mynah bird who had died the very same day Leon got shot. The revelation didn't surprise either adult, but instead made things make even more sense.

When a customer came to the shop seeking a specific or semi specific pet, the animals of the shop could sense the human's desire. Most of the time, the pet the special customer would be leaving with would take on a form that would grant that wish. Even if it was a late relative, a body guard, or even a lover. That prompted D to ask the runaway feline which form her owner saw. That prompted Pandora to admit that she'd chosen Saleem because he'd been the weakest, and therefore most needed Pandora herself instead of just the necklace. Or, so she'd thought; she'd run away because he seemed to be like his brothers- after the throne.

She had broken down in tears at that point. As D and Kagome consoled her, Chris told her that he understood why she'd left and thought that she should stay with them. Kagome could tell by the look on D's face as they watched the scene that he thought that when Chris regained human speech he would leave and forget them entirely. She shook her head and put her hand on his shoulder. He turned his head to look at her.

"You're wrong, you know. He's taking my lessons on energies, auras, and psychic abilities like a fish to water." she told him, "You know that when someone steps into our world who potentially has powers learns to grasp their abilities there's no turning back. Besides, these are some of the most important years in his childhood. Even if he returns to his relatives he's in to deep to be able to forget this or leave it behind, reiki or no."

"... We'll see." he said, knowing that she was speaking from personal experience.

After that, D's musings turned into a full blown plan. Kagome stayed out of it, though. She never participated in things that could give Leon Orcot grounds on which he could actually arrest them and get away with it. Multiple letters were sent out the next day... letters which pretended that Pandora had really been kidnapped. Before the weekend had arrived, the day finally came. Every single member of the royal family had been invited to the pet shop. First, he shocked them by claiming that Pandora, rather than being there, had fled the city and might have a lover. Then he rose the royals' hopes by revealing that he had the Eye of Persia with him.

After that was what Kagome was sure was D's favorite part of the plot: when Leon tried to arrest D, he freaked out Leon and everyone else present by calling the blonde a 'filthy commoner' and claiming that his possession of the jewel made him the crowned prince of Femen. Though, D soon quieted the outraged cries by saying that it was a joke, but he needed to figure out which royal to give it to first. With that, came numerous bribes and even a couple of marriage proposals from both genders. Only Saleem didn't participate in the madness. Instead he ignored the ambassador's pleas to capture the Chinese man's attention. He wandered away from the crowd, disappointed because Pandora wasn't there. Then... he spotted Pandora, sitting with other cats, and recognized her. He went over to her immediately. Seeing the young prince's joy, D gave him the jewel, knowing that it really did belong in the hands of the young man Pandora had grown attached to. In the end, he turned it down and the prince and the pampered feline were reunited.

Of course, Chris was disappointed and upset.

"Give it up, Chris. It's not going to happen." Pon-chan said, "You're from totally different worlds."

"She's outta your league." T-chan added.

"Aw, cheer up Chris-kun." Kagome comforted, "You'll meet the girl for you eventually."

"But until then, expect to be dumped a lot." D informed the boy, "After all, you are an Orcot."

Luckily, as Kagome thought at the time, before Leon could cause a scene in front of the quickly dispersing royals, yet another person entered the scene.

"Special delivery for a Kagome Higurashi!" a postal worker shouted.

'… Strange.' D thought, 'Kagome's mother has never sent one of her packages here before.'

"That would be me." Kagome said.

"Why would Kagome get a package here at the shop?" Leon asked.

"I don't know, big bro... but she said that she was expecting a package from her mom." Chris replied.

"... Still doesn't answer my question." Leon complained.

"Kagome-chan's mother often sends treats for the shop." D mentioned, "But that she would send a package here instead of Kagome's apartment is rather odd."

A few minutes later, everyone was settled as Kagome prepared to open the package. Once the box was opened, a strange thing happened. Kagome was looking into the box in surprise. Then she gave a sound of surprise and embarrassment. Neither man was sure they'd ever seen her quite so incredulous. Soon enough however, she seemed to recall something because to their increased confusion, Kagome seemed resigned, as if she'd remembered that whatever had startled her actually wasn't surprising in the slightest, and hit her forehead with her palm in exasperation. At first, the three males just waited for the woman to say or do something. Then, Chris moved towards Kagome and the box that was currently situated in her lap.

"It's official... my mother has followed in Jii-chan's footsteps and gone insane." Kagome declared as the boy came in front of her.

"Kagome, what's wrong?" the boy asked in concern, "What's in the box?"

She merely gestured to the inside of the box. "See for yourself."

Encouraged by the way the woman who took care of him had responded, Chris did exactly that. After he saw he asked Kagome why she reacted like that to those things. This led to a now frustrated Leon asking what exactly was in the box. D was curious too. The blonde boy looked up at Kagome, hesitant, but at her nod carefully set on the table. When he was done there were two small boxes which were probably heirlooms if the apparent ages were anything to go by three kimonos, and one set of traditional men's clothing. (D, of course, recognized one kimono as being for a man and another for a young boy.)

Leon looked at the items which had been the box's contents. The expression on his face spoke clearly of confusion and the opinion that he thought Kagome was being ridiculous. "... What's so weird or embarrassing about all of this?"

Kagome sighed, obviously mentally worn out. 'This... just might give me a headache.'

"For one thing, my dear detective, one of those kimonos is for a man... and so is the set of clothing which isn't. The smaller kimono is for a boy. Most of these gifts are clearly for us as friends of Higurashi-san's daughter." D informed the blonde American, then turning to Kagome asked, "I take it that something about that would be why you were startled?"

Kagome nodded. "There was reason and one reason that everyone who interacted regularly with my mother whether they were a friend or even just an acquaintance, they like her quite a bit. Even the exceptions silently tolerate her no matter what most of the time. This is because if they are close enough to warrant her getting them a gift, it is always a snack or treat of some sort." she admitted.

"Clearly, this isn't the case." D noted.

"I still don't see any reason why you freaked out." Leon commented.

"Kagome... if this is an exception, does it mean something?" Chris asked, showing that he was unusually perceptive for his age.

All present were surprised when Kagome... blushed, of all things. "The thing is... the closer you are to the family, the more likely you are to receive more than just food as a gift from my mom. But, there is one thing where exceptions just don't exist when it comes to her giving gifts."

"Which would be?" D prompted.

"..." Kagome was silent for a minute, gathering courage, then, face redder than they'd ever seen it, took the plunge, "My mother... only gives clothes as gifts to those close enough to almost be family. Add in that these are more traditional, and it means that in her mind all three of you are family, as close as Souta and I are... not to mention my late father and grandfather."

Leon blinked. "I think you lost me somewhere."

"..." D, on the other hand, got the implications, and was blushing slightly now himself.

"What about the boxes?" Chris asked.

Kagome looked away now. "... They... are the boxes my father's and paternal grandfather's wedding rings are kept in."

"WHAT?" Leon shouted, now that he understood.

"... I still don't get it." Chris cut in, "Why would your mom send you something like that?"

Kagome knelt down to look Chris in the eyes. "Basically, the traditional Japanese clothing and the rings mean that my mother decided that she either sees D and your big brother as son-in-laws or wants them to be son-in-laws." she explained, "Which means that however odd it may be, my conversations and e-mails that mentioned you gained you a grandmother."

Now that Chris understood as well, his eyes turned swirly. "But... I don't think anyone can be married to two people at the same time, can you?"

Kagome chuckled. "Let's just say... that my teenage years proved my mother to be oddly accepting... and that she's just as odd as my grandpa was in her own way."

In the end, little more was said about the latest oddity in their lives. Kagome and Chris each knew that there wasn't anything they could do about it. D, on the other hand, had decided to ignore it at the moment and cross that bridge when it came. In the meanwhile, it gave him more to think about when he let himself ponder over his confusion where Kagome was concerned. Leon, on the other hand, had apparently adopted the 'hear no evil see no evil' approach and seemed to either try or pretend to forget about it entirely. Though, in the privacy of Kagome's own apartment- the few times she actually when there these days- was a completely different story entirely for Kagome herself.

It had been years since the former time traveler came to terms with the fact that she just hadn't been the sort of heroine or 'leading lady' in her Feudal Fairy Tale to get a 'happily ever after' of her own after barely managing to ensure that the happy ending killing Naraku and completing the jewel was supposed to ensure stayed that way. Not that she had the full works to get over. When the fight that killed Naraku once and for all came around, Kagome had long since given up on the mess the adventures she'd once looked forward to eventually became including romance. Perhaps in had been her destiny that the romance most teenage girls got eluded her. Maybe, she'd realized after the fact, it had been her own doing.

The school girl fantasy the now older and wiser Kagome knew her puppy love for the headstrong and unthinking Inuyasha as hadn't even lasted a year. If anyone could give the formerly naive not quite child she had been one compliment concerning her actions, it was that she'd managed to get over or give up on Inuyasha all on her own, without any form of help or acknowledgeable encouragement. Never let it be said that Kagome had ever been stupid, at the very least. There had also been no alternative romantic prospects. Kouga had turned out to be a nice enough guy, but he just hadn't been right for Kagome and he'd had Ayame anyway. As for Sesshomaru... she hadn't outright ignored Inuyasha's semi ridiculous hatred of his own half brother soon enough for things to take that alternative typical shoujo manga turn. No one who could think of such a thing would ever know if a relationship between the young youkai lord and the girl who probably could have become a miko had things been different would have worked out.

Thanks to her mother, and the boredom that often left Kagome with nothing better to do than read, watch people, or think the young woman eventually realized that just maybe, if the complete 'happily ever after' she'd wanted at least her friends to get had never been meant to be things had turned out for the best. All other roads that had been possible when the end came would have only led to loose ends or tragedy. Kagome was just grateful that destiny had at least been kind enough to let her survive... or simply not punish her for foiling its plan by not dying. If Kagome ended up alone, so be it. Just maybe, karma would reward her eventually if she endured. So, when things were too tough or stressful for her taste the young woman simply grinned and bore it most of the time.

Things had changed, though, after Kagome moved to LA and met the man known as Count D to most but to her was simply D, because unlike most of the others she listened when D stated that 'Count D' was his grandfather and not him. The world befriending the mysterious Chinese shop manager had opened to her had been a breath of fresh air. The man himself had been like the next piece of an incomplete puzzle that represented Kagome. Then Leon and later on his adorable little brother, Chris, entered the picture. A part of Kagome she had tried to ignore at first realized something that she had never even considered before. That just maybe, Kagome had a soul mate that could not be found in the past that had come to enthrall her so.

She'd spent the past couple of years since she left Japan spending little time outside of the company D and the animals found within the shop he cared for in his grandfather's absence avoiding thinking about the possibility. A part of her just hadn't been ready to consider such a thing. But, now Kagome was forced to deal with what was right in front of her eyes all because of her mother's gift. She was in just as murky a gray area as ever, though. The way D and Leon got along at that moment, thinking about such things would do no good.

A couple of weeks later, Kagome and D were traveling through a park popular among locals who cared for or simply tended to know of such things as one whose pond had a flock of swans that could often be found there. To Kagome's hidden surprise, they found among the swans a blonde woman who was dancing passionately. She wasn't even disturbing the swans by doing so. The dance was beautiful, and both Asians could tell she had skill. But there was something bittersweet about the dance. It was a fact among some people that those whose professions or hobbies were along the lines of art, music, or writing tended to reveal, whether intentional or not, their feelings. Some of which they themselves weren't always aware of. And this dance was tinged with sorrow. Kagome, and perhaps D as well could sense something dark lurking beneath the surface, and it suddenly occurred to her that the woman might be... weary, perhaps, or without hope. After they apologized for startling away the graceful birds, they discovered that the woman was, indeed, a professional dancer. D recognized her as a famous ballerina named Jeanne La Croix. She was known as 'Europe's Queen of Movement'.

"... Is that so?" Kagome commented, "With grace like yours... it's no surprise the swans were undisturbed by your presence as if you were simply one of them."

"Swans fly, while all I can do is dance and flap my broken wings." the now identified Jeanne dismissed, but with a passion and longing in her eyes, "But I've tried to fly. Oh god, how hard I've tried."

'This... I feel like I've seen a look like that before.' Kagome thought.

Then her mind briefly flashed to a moment at the end of her time traveling days. To the look in a dear friend's eyes the moment when things had fallen to pieces almost irreparably, and he discovered that the one to claim his heart hadn't completely been who he thought she was. The reason why memories of Feudal Japan had been what drove the almost miko away from Japan more than any other reason she'd had to leave. D saw the look on her face, and placed a hand on hers discreetly in comfort. In reply she squeezed his hand and looked at him out of the corner of her eye, saying she'd talk later if it proved necessary.

"Ms. La Croix, I think you should visit my shop." D invited, knowing he may have found his next special customer, "I have a collection of rare birds I think you'd appreciate."

As they entered the shop, even D and Kagome were in for a surprise. Leon was there to greet them for once. Only, he was completely drunk, and seemed to be able to see the animals' more human forms when his inhibitions were lowered, decreasing the problems his stubbornness tended to cause. This was obvious because on one arm as he relaxed on a couch was a hare and the other arm was occupied by a jungle cat. Only one of which was the 'woman' they appeared to be, it seemed. Annoyed, D gave Tetsu permission to eat the detective then ushered his guest from the room.

As they had tea, Kagome's suspicions were proven correct. Jeanne herself admitted to being tired. (Though she also claimed that she would be fine and able to dance after a short rest, the lack of certainty made both D and Kagome hesitate to think the same.) Then at the woman's request, D and Kagome brought Jeanne further back to see the birds she had come to see. The setting was a masquerade or olden days theater. They made her sit down, and a selection of the birds of the shop danced to put on a show for her. They each captivated the ballerina, especially the swan which was the star.

After the star left the stage, Jeanne's reaction showed that she was stunned. Kagome almost worried about the woman's confidence. They learned that being famous and talented tended to be lonely even in the world of ballet. She had come to love her partner Nicholas, the man who had discovered her and nurtured her talent. But she was sure he only loved her dancing, and not her. Now that he'd apparently found untapped talent in a girl named Dominique, a diamond in the rough. She was sure that she'd lost her lover and her position among the troupe. Kagome left to check on Leon when D informed the woman the show wasn't done. She also decided to do a bit of research. There was no way she would stay for what was next. She'd seen the two roosters they had secretly rescued when called in by Leon's boss to help with animals from an illegal fighting ring.

While she'd come to terms with the fact that because of some low-lives the pair only knew battle, she still didn't had to like what it meant. Besides, if all went well the blade D would soon gift the starlet with would be unnecessary. Kagome really hoped so. The woman deserved some amount of real happiness, and if things went wrong she could be arrested if she targeted her apparent rival. That would do no one any good. Besides, D wouldn't need her help for the little magic which would make Jeanne almost think it was a dream. (The sword would prove it otherwise) The Japanese woman did wonder if the ballerina would find the man she loved helping the woman that might ruin things if it was more than paranoia, though.

Unfortunately, a couple of hours later leaving the shop to grab dinner or escape to the kitchen wasn't possible for Kagome, let alone an option, when it came to be that time. Leon had passed out then been dragged to where he'd be out of the way, and she knew D would need help. They at least had learned that Leon had been drunk because he'd been to a high school friend's engagement party then been invited to the man's apartment for more drinks. She wondered how long it had lasted, for Leon to have slept over half the day. Only to learn that apparently, he'd been jealous, which explained things slightly.

When it was the night of the production of Swan Lake for Jeanne's ballet company, D and Kagome dragged Leon. Kagome could tell that her dance was like a farewell. Jeanne did magnificently, however, and the crowd went wild. The Japanese woman snuck backstage and found the 'prince' of the story, Nicholas.

"You... would be the 'Nicholas' Ms. La Croix spoke of, I believe?" Kagome said.

"... Jeanne...?" she'd clearly caught the red-headed man's attention, "What about her?"

"If her love for you is returned, you need to find her fast." Kagome warned, "I met her briefly with a friend of mine, she thinks that Dominique is causing her life to fall to pieces... and that you don't care. In her current state she's bound to do something dangerous."

"... What...?" He obviously couldn't believe his ears.

"Surely you've noticed? Her feelings were easy enough to see. She's seen no sign though, that you care about more than her dancing. Your polishing of Dominique's possible potential makes her think she no longer even has that." Kagome informed the man, "Her dance had an aura that said 'Goodbye'. Tell me, what does whatever she believes in say about suicide?"

"... It can't be!" he said almost to himself, now understanding.

"... Heh, I always loved matchmaking." she said to herself as she walked away.

"Where have you been?" D asked her when she returned.

"Giving this story a chance for an ending that isn't a tragedy." she said.

"What're you two talkin' about?" Leon asked, unable to hear them.

"Oh, only if I should test a baking experiment on you." Kagome claimed.

Of course, at the time the non-dancers were talking of trying to calm the crowd. However, a bigger commotion started when the top dancers were both discovered missing. Leon immediately suspected D, but both he and Kagome had him for an alibi. It turned out to be unnecessary. They turned up the next day, both announcing an early retirement. After that, they disappeared out of the public's radar the very night papers announced a wedding.

Owari

Next time: When D ends up kidnapped by a Peruvian terrorist resistance group, he and Leon end up roped into a quest to find El Dorado. After that is Christmas time, and Chris needs to be convinced that he's not bad. Also, Leon and Chris' aunt and uncle show up...