AN: We have finally reached the end of this tale and I hope, aside from the fact that I am an error queen and need a beta, that you have enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed writing it. I feel like I'm going to miss writing this and may write a couple of little one shots in this universe from various points in the story.

I appreciate all of the feedback and support. I've appreciated every one of them and everyone that has read this story.

Warm-Amber92; I hope that you like this ending. I cried when I finished writing this.

ninjamidori; MAYBEEEE Haha. Your reviews ALWAYS ALWAYS make me smile.

trueinuyashalovergirl; she's one of my favorite characters and I love her. I'm glad that you've enjoyed having her around, too!

Amarelle; That meant so much to me. That was such a compliment and I hope that you aren't disappointed with this ending, either. I live a little bit away from the ocean, and I can't help but feel emotional when I go there. I'm glad that it makes you feel something and that you can identify with the surroundings. I appreciated reading that more than you could ever know.

and to correct my name failure, because I read it wrong;

CityofFallenAshes (IDK where the angels came from XF) I'm so happy you've enjoyed this! :D

And so, as the months turned dark and became bright with the fire which adorned the treelines and ground with warmth, Kagome stared down at the bottom of the shrine steps. There was something that made her feel the hole growing larger in her heart.

She was tucked deep beneath scarves and her winter uniform, off set by the blackness in the stitiching. Her small hands knit together as she tried to force herself to walk down the flight of cement steps.

Never uttering a word to her mother, she had cried on her way to and from, not caring if anyone saw her dishelved form slumping to her high school. A few of her friends, the ones she held at an arm's length, commented on her weary eyes and the frizz fluffing her bangs.

The only time she was ever really along long enough to try and stuff away her feelings were so few and far between. There was a line that she dared herself not to cross and let most of her woes consume her. Every night before bed, Kagome would hold her cellular to her chest and frown at the number that refused to be dialed.

How hard was it for her to call him? She didn't have pride, or self pity for what had happened. He was a grown man and could handle a summer fling much easier than she could. If he wanted to, he would have called her, but he didn't.

Every day since she left, she waited impatiently for her phone to ring and for him to declare his love for her. Holding on was beginning to become harder to bear, and as she rolled over in her plush bed with stuffed animals keeping her company, she felt lost and as new as the first day she was born.

Her knees curled to her chest and she stared through the darkness at the flickering light backing on her phone. Why? Why could she not do this simple thing? She asked herself, pulling the phone across her pillow and letting it fall beside her head as she draped her arm over her eyes.

When he had chased her, didn't he want to keep her close to his heart? A stifled cry ripped through her throat as her lungs tried to prevent her breath from escaping. It felt so strange being back in the city, sitting with her mother and brother as she toyed around with her fantasy world.

Sango had yet to call her, either. That was something she knew would happen and she probably had found herself eloped and happily being taken on a secretive honeymoon. Being jaded was the last thing that Kagome had ever believed she would be.

InuYasha had been given something precious and his connection to her was waning like the moon. The childish part of her still believed that he would come and take her away from the stoned city of neons and skyward buildings.

Feeling tears burn her cheeks, the woman threw back her covers and grabbed a coat from her closet. She was smothering and could no long submit to this emptiness. It was so late, that even if she had slept, she would never have roused for her classes. She didn't really care if she missed a day. She'd had perfect attendance and was making excellent marks.

She had to get out of the stuffy house and breathe, even if for just a moment. She pulled out a pair of winter boots and slipped on some jeans as she slid carefully down the carpeted stairs. Sota was still sound asleep, and her mother was obviously not waking up any time soon. Cautiously, Kagome hit the wooden floor with a start, almost screaming at the speed she slid, gripping to the corner of a wall for stability.

Wincing in through her tears, she reached for a window above their sofa and slid it open. She pulled on her boots and nimbly climbed on a coffee table to the crevice, slipping out without much trouble. She dangled for a moment before letting her feet fall a foot to safety.

Luckily, she'd thought to climb on one of her mother's old flower pots and wiggle the window shut, as not to be noticed. Gripping to her arms, she shuddered as she traipsed around the simple shrubry, looking like monsters in the night.

Hair stood taut on the back of her neck. Looking behind her, she sniveled and blinked into the darkness. She found nothing but the wind tousling the last of the thorny stems of the plants as the flood light flickered on.

Bracing herself, Kagome watched the shadow connected at her feet and stood, like she did many times, upon the apex of the grandoise stairs. Above, her eyes could barely see the stars that had shown so clearly on the beach and she felt her heart cave in on itself.

Gravity pulled her downwards, making her body disappear amongst the wispy ground and passing leaves crying bitterly as they brushed by her feet. Morning wasn't absurdly far away, but if she left now and returned before dawn, she may very well be able to just make out the edges of the celestial sea in all of its glory.

The trains had stopped running and the streets were nearly bare, save for a few drunken college students, griping about missing the shinkansen. Her hands were numb in her coat pockets, and the wind burned her ears with its breathing. She wanted to feel the lingering heat of the sun, boiling her blood as it had when she was with him.

Closing her eyes, the 18 year old drifted until she passed the dimly lit shops and open cafe at the intersection. Stopping, she thawed and purchased a steaming cup of black coffee and opted for it to be stout enough to cringe her tastebuds.

Flipping through her wallet, she found money still intact from her job on the beach. Since she had returned, the girl hadn't indulged in any of the things she used to; no movies, no clothes, no late night snacks from the delivery service.

It was all she had and her bloodshot eyes stared at an ad on the pinboard. Getting up from a polished round table, she plucked the pink sheet of paper and pulled out her phone. It was crazy that she hadn't even thought long enough to realize what she was doing.

Before she knew it, she was tucked deeply within the back seat of a taxi, speeding off into the unknown, coiling within her coat for warmth as the defrosting heat blistered her face with gusto.

The entire ride, she was silent, anxiously staring out of the window with her fingers cupped against the rubbery lining. She picked at it and held her breath, waiting for something familiar to catch her eye. The wintry weather was beginning to dampen the streets with a flurry or two, licking clean the crinkled foliage.

The driver peered back at her and smirked to himself, chewing on a piece of gum. He was surprised to have been called out of his garage so late, but he was happy for the pay. As they zipped past the famous Tsukiji-mura, Kagome's heart leapt into her throat; pulsating with a vigorous drumming.

The older man, rubbed the wrinkles from his eyes and looked back at the pretty little thing being illuminated by the street signs. "This is gonna cost you an awful lot, is there a reason that you're running off this late?" He asked raspily, clearing his throat.

Kagome sniffed and snapped her eyes up to his, ignoring the rush of dread that clung to the back of her mind. "Um, I don't really know why I'm going." She admitted, brushing a hand through her wavy hair. Her arms crossed over her chest as the man came to a fork in the road and pointed a finger at each side.

"Right or left, Miss?" He asked, smiling a little as he began to hear the call of the ocean permeating through his frostbitten windshield.

Kagome pulled on the back of his headrest, eyes alive with ferocity. Furrowing her brows, she'd remember the direction that lead her there as the left path, less congested than the one on the right had been. "Left. It's left." She exhaled, voice wavering as her nerves began to dance beneath her skin. She yearned to see her the home that had changed her, and the ugly house that was riddled with warped floors and holes.

Nodding, the driver took the left exit and slowed his pace to enjoy the lulling sound of the water rushing over the sandbar. It had flooded during a recent storm, overtaking half of the shoreline below the new expanse of sea.

When the stars flickered like diamonds, stringing themselves in a necklaced pattern, Kagome rolled down her window, letting all of her warmth billow into the cold. She breathed in the salty air and found her body stilled and calm as she saw the small boats rocking on the docks in the distance.

The moon was partial and hanging like a decoration, barely emitting enough light to make this ghost town shine with the lusterous wildness it held in the summer. A few lights glowed like lanterns, few and sparce as the man pulled the car to a halt at her command. As she got out, she handed her everything in her wallet, which was a little more than the trip had cost, and at the risk he had taken speeding.

The door slammed and the driver rolled down his window, watching the girl begin to rush on her sore legs to the sandy knoll, leading down to the few shops and the diner. Before she touched the familiar ground, his voice rang out and she paused, "I'll wait for you, if you want." He said.

Kagome fidgeted and tried to construe a thought, or anything that would have remotely made sense. "I-I, if I'm not back in half an hour, you can leave me." She said with a smile. Her steamy breath kissed the night as she swallowed and bolted off towards the shore.

She'd nearly fallen, losing her balance on the rocky descent. When her boot clad feet hit the slick planks of the boardwalk, her heart nearly stopped. Her body found itself right infront of the old diner. Kagome looked at her crisply bitten face and not longer felt any part of her exposed skin. The wind was cutting through her like knives, burying each blow deeper into the holes in the stitching of her coat.

She felt that sinister twinge of nostaligia slip along her body and end at her throat in a shiver. She closed her eyes imagining what the world was like when she saw it for the first time. This one place was the furthest she'd traveled, and she longed to feel it become real again.

There was something magical about this place and the way people integrated into living here. As she began to walk away, her hand touched the glass window pane and dragged the pads of her fingers along, feeling like she had left a mark there.

Her eyes couldn't look at the rickety old lifeguard stand, standing in the barren white reflection of the sand. She wanted to remember it full and robust with the boy she still loved manning the captain's seat as though he were sailing above her.

If she hadn't been so tired and so ultimately vulnerable, it probably would have been like a gravestone to remember him by. For a moment, she fought herself and lost the battle with the urge to go to the forest of houses.

They seemed so tiny and so unloved in the darkness and empty due to the disappearance of their owners. A frown clung to her paling lips. She brushed her fingers over the slimy edges, lapped at by the deteriorating salt and held her breath as she found the one house hazily standing brighter than the rest.

Her eyes caught the light beaming from the window, clouded by the condensation. She was envious of the person in that house and it made her stomach churn just as unrelenting as the high tide; scooping up the remains of castles and shells to whisk them away.

Rubbing her hands together, Kagome felt guilty for wanting to peek in the window. And when she did, she was disappointed all over again. There, sitting on the couch that Sango had lounged on, sat a woman with hair as fiery and as fake as a tube of lipstick. She was a pretty little thing, though. Kagome couldn't help the jealously that she felt towards her, comfortably curled in a quilt, watching the same tv in the dark.

Lowering her head, Kagome peeked around the corner to see Koga, of all people, laying his legs across her lap. Part of her desperately wanted to knock on the door and protest their occupancy. She wanted to be in her room. The one she and InuYasha had made love in and the places where she and Miroku had baked cakes and late night snacks.

Slinking against the sand, she folded her knees up to her chest. She seemed like a crazy person, just trespassing on a property that wasn't hers. She was no peeping Tom, but this was the part of her life that she needed to let go of.

Fairy tales weren't real, now were they? She smiled sarcastically. There was nothing but time that could erase the way she had felt, or the way she still wandered around her real home like a drone, slipping in and out of her reality.

As she pressed herself to her feet, Kagome fought the urge to cry as she felt the wind begin to howl. Surely, the driver had long been gone and she made the slow trek up the hill to find him still sitting there with his hat pulled over his head.

When she arrived, she tapped on the door, allowing him time to unlock it and let her get in the backseat. She didn't pay attention to the look he gave her, or the sound of the engine turning over as he pulled the car out of park.

Kagome leaned her head against the window, watching the foaming water cleanse the memories from her head. Passing the backsides of the old buildings, she finally stared down at the lifeguard stand, and squinted as hard as she could.

"Stop the car!" She panicked, slapping her hands on either side of his headrest, heart screaming against her ribcage so loudly it bled into her ears. A swell of emotion choked her and she fumbled to unlock the car door before he had a chance to stop, barely registering what to say as she flung the door open. She fell, rolling down the ledge and lost a shoe somewhere in the mess.

The smell of smoke hit her nose and she began to tremble to her toes and her lip quivered violently. For, as she tripped and fell those numerous times, the man she loved sat upon his perch, buried in his coat and toboggan.

When he saw her he threw his cigarette away and fell down the last few rungs before sloshing in the edges of the water. He threw himself on her, picking her up with shaking hands and fingers digging into her back like nails. She sobbed, truly erupted with every ounce of herself she had suppressed. "InuYasha, why didn't you come for me?" She choked, almost hyperventalating as she inhaled his scent.

The scruffy man buried his nose into her collar and tried to breathe. He couldn't let go of her, or make any sort of coherent thought. He pulled back long enough to see her broken face and deathly pale skin. "I'm sorry." InuYasha breathed, taking her down to the shoals. Water licked the ends of his long hair as the wind carried his hat off for some unknown destination.

Kagome wrapped her legs around him, trying her best to fuse his warmth with hers. She lowered her forehead against his, hot tears burning his cheeks as they tumbled from hers. "I love you, InuYasha. I can't do this. I want to be with you so bad." She strangled, sucking in a hiccup.

InuYasha's unevenly toned eyes showed regret and he pressed on a smile, collecting himself the best he could. "I was coming to see you. Sango is getting married next week and she wanted you to come." He rasped, brushing a calloused finger over her lashes.

Kagome shook her head in his chest, feeling his heart pound against her ear. "Is that all you have to say? You just wanted me to come to a wedding when no one called or had anything to do with me at all?" She screamed. She had lost all control of herself as she pulled against the crass fabric of his coat.

He placed a strong hand over her back and lolled his head back against the damp ground. "Kagome," He breathed softly, bringing his other hand to brush against her face. "I came to see Koga and Ayame and then I was coming to see you. My father passed away shortly after I came home, and he left me with a lot of money."

Kagome's upset withdrew and she furrowed her brows sympathetically. "I'm sorry." She swallowed, finding her fingers moving his bangs away from his eyes. "I would have been there for you." She whispered, feeling him shrug beneath her.

"Kagome," InuYasha muttered, feeling her name roll off of his tongue like silk. "I was coming to tell you that since Miroku and Sango are getting married that I spent my money on buying that house." He held his breath for a moment, feeling her eyes widend with a myriad of emotion. "I wanted to show you that I'll be there for you, right around the corner if you want me. I've never felt like this." The man winced as though it pained him to admit it.

"Before you say anything, I want you to listen and not get upset." InuYasha said cautiously, licking his lips to fight away the chaffing cold."I tried to date when I went back to Osaka, and I was never satisfied. I don't think I'll ever be. I don't know if you'll still want to be with me days, weeks, months, or years from now, but I need you."

Kagome's hands gripped at her face and she hid behind her flowing hair. "I-I just came here because I needed to let go." She stifled a cry. "I never could forget you, or this place. I want this place to be mine. I'm still a kid as much as I'd like to think I'm not. That's the part that hurts the most. I'm 18. I am a child."

InuYasha shook his head at her and sniveled, "No. You're not a child. Yuo have no idea what you've done for yourself just by leaving in the middle of the night, and chancing on me. I would have been wandering around Tokyo like an idiot trying to find you. I never called because what was I supposed to say?" He paused to look at her with a realistic glare. "That I was so pathetic I cried the day you left. I'm a man, I'm not supposed to mourn a relationship like that. How was I supposed to know that I would be so fucking in love with you that I would give up my whole damn life for a chance?" His voice broke as he raised up, gripping the back of her head.

Kagome was speechless. Nothing she could say would take away the venomous sting his words held. Instead, she took a deep breath and forced her mouth upon his and dragged her hands down his shoulders.

He returned the kiss with hunger, feeding himself on her energy and ravaged her soul from that one gesture. Trembling, they both fought against one another before InuYasha finally pulled away, drunk off of her sweetness. "What do we do now?" He asked lightly, seeing a smile creep along the corners of her lips. It was the first real smile she had had since she left.

"Try." Was all she said, placing a soft kiss upon his nose. "I have to go back to Tokyo." She whispered remorsefully. InuYasha nodded and helped her up, arm pulling her close as he helped her climb up the incline. They reveled in the presence of the other and waited as long as they could before she had to get back in the car.

Before he shut the door, he knelt down and kissed her; this time more honest than he ever had. "I love you, Kagome." He said smiling for a moment before the door slammed in her face. She watched him disappear again, and clenched her chest as she was stolen away again. Licking her lips, she tasted his flavor on her tongue and rolled her eyes closed.

That one moment was worth the months of waiting, and she crossed her fingers that he would be loyal to his words. A while after the car zigzagged through the early morning traffic, Kagome peeked at the sleepless driver and his dark eyes held a knowing sparkle.

"You're in love, aren't you girl?" He asked as he popped a mint in his mouth. He offered one to Kagome and she refused to expunge the smoky taste from her mouth.

"Very much." She replied, grimacing at the surreal feeling of returning to this wasteland of suits and ties and technology.

Silence ate the cab for a few moments before he responded, as if he were thinking deeply about his choice of words. "You may be just starting out, but I'll tell you this..." He sucked on his mint as the car stopped in traffic. "Don't hold your feelings in and let something good go because you're unsure. I met my wide when I was fourteen and we fought for it. There are enough people for you to choose and be happy, but there's only one person that'll put up with you and vice versa."

Kagome played with her hands and shed a groggy smile. Raising her glassy eyes to the man's wrinkly face, she hoped that he was right.

A little ways down, the torii shown brightly in the very faintest glow of the sun. Climbing out of the car, she could barely believe any of last night had been real. The taxi driver stopped her before she shut the door, smiling brightly at her. "Here," He pushed the money she had given him back in her palm. "You don't have to pay me for helping you find someone. I'm a hopeless romantic. My wife will love to hear about you."

Looking down, she quirked her brows and shook her head. "No, keep it. I don't need it." She said honestly, "Thank you for all of your trouble." She bowed, "Take your wife on a nice date and take care of yourself." The girl said softly, shutting the door as the stung her eyes as she slowly climbed up the steps.

Her right foot was sore and she looked down, noticing her shoe was still missing. It was the only pair of warm boots she had and she grimaced. Wriggling her frigid toe, she began to rush when she realized her mother would soon be up.

Panicking, Kagome scrambled to the window and climbed back in. She bolted up to her room and tore off her clothes, replacing them with her daunting uniform. It wasn't long before Ume crept into her room, watching her lacing scarves around her neck.

"You're up already?" She asked warmly, holding a cup of coffee in her hands.

Wait. Kagome stared at the mug and hesitantly nodded. "Um, yeah. I've had trouble sleeping lately," She said, carefully watching the woman's features fall.

"Is that why the neighbor's son called me and told me he saw you getting out of a taxi?" She sighed, placing an unimpressed hand on her robe-covered hip.

Kagome lolled her head back and sighed. She kept her mouth shut until Sota peeked his head in to see what was going on. "What's going on?" He rubbed his weary eyes and stretched his tired muscles as he slumped against the doorframe.

Mrs. Higurashi pressed her lips in a tightline. "Kagome, I'm going to let you finish getting ready for school and when Sota leaves, we'll finish this conversation." She said stoicly and shooed her son down stairs to eat a bit of breakfast.

Kagome screwed her eyes closed and rubbed her face with her palms. She was dead. Dead, dead, dead and dead. Holding her breath, the young woman grabbed her phone from her coat pocket and skimmed over prices to Osaka. She wasn't missing that damn wedding, even if she had school. She only needed one more credit and she was done, anyway, right?

Grabbing a notepad from her dresser, she scribbled down a few numbers and tucked into her pocket. Her mother rapped on her door a little while later as she brushed out the kinks in her long hair. She wasn't ready for all of this. She knew her mother only wanted her to be the top of her class and make the remainder of her family proud.

She had worked and worked and worked to where she was. It came as no surprise Higurashi-san was so overcome by disappointment. Her only daughter was sneaking out of the house, making people question her credibility as a parent.

Glowering, Kagome closed her eyes as her mother's figure came into her small bedroom. Her thoughts lingered with InuYasha and the triumph of seeing him and knowing how he felt about her. For a moment, she waited for her mother's voice to crack and raise in her ire.

Instead, her mother handed her a letter, which took her by surprise. As she opened the white envelope, she found her invitation to Sango and Miroku's wedding and held it close to her chest; whereas her face plainly showed her anguish over the matter.

Ume didn't say anything, she just waited until her daughter decided to speak up. "I miss her." Kagome pouted, running her thumb over the edge of the paper. "I'm sorry I left. I couldn't sleep. I just went to the coffee shop and down to the bay."

"You went down to the bay?" Ume blanched, furrowing her brows in surprise. "Why on earth would you go there in the middle of the night, Kagome? You could have been kidnapped." She sighed, pinching the bridge of her thin nose.

Kagome rolled her eyes and sat upright, "I took a taxi with the money I saved from my job. I just wanted to go back there and think." She bit the inside of her jaw, hoping that her mother would leave it at that.

"I let you go during the summer because Sango was going to be there with you. You're just a child." She said darkly, trying to wrap her head around her daughter's impulsively idiotic decision. "What were you thinking going all the way down there and then risking your merit."

"Mama, I'm ahead of all of my courses. I'm going to graduate early and then I can go to whatever college wants to take me." Kagome quipped, finding her patience beginning to wear thin.

"You will go to the University of Tokyo." Ume said urgently, clasping her hands as though praying would help her daughter see the error of her ways.

Kagome looked out her window at the naked trees and the edges of the old well house. "I don't want those things." She said boldy, never letting her eyes leave the sunlight that blinded her to the rest of the world. She wanted to be unware of what her mother's expression looked like and what it felt like to see it.

"What do you mean, you don't want those things?"

"I want something simple for now." She replied, shivering at the memory of InuYasha embracing her for that fleeting moment.

Kagome grabbed her bookbag from the back of her chair as she stood and began to head down the stairs for school. Ume followed her, brushing a hand through her short hair. "You cannot be serious, Kagome. You are nowhere near grown, you need to think about the rest of your life and take of this now so you don't have to struggle."

The girl knew that. She didn't say that she wasn't going to a good school after she graduated. She just made it sound like she was going to drop off the face of the earth and rot in a hole somewhere, or something. "I never told you I wasn't taking care of my courses." Kagome glowered, fixing to open the door when there was a soft tap a little above the peephole.

Ume shot a curious glance at the girl as she took the liberity of opening the door for her. What she saw surprised her, and she stepped back a little. "Oh, good morning. Did you come for the tour?" She asked, immediately following in her family's footsteps of taking care of the old place.

The girl smiles warmly, and looked at Kagome with the best intentions at heart. Kagome, herself was surprised to see Kikyo standing there, buttoned to the collar in a designer coat and jeans. She looked as beautiful as she remembered and her hands were evenly tucked behind her back.

"Oh no, Kagome-chan left this by mistake." She bowed, handing Kagome the shoe she had lost on the beach. Cradling it, the young woman wanted to cry and shot Kikyo an odd look.

Ume looked between the girls and sighed in resolve. "Fine, Kagome. Go on to school. It was nice to meet you and thank you for bringing back her shoe. She's in a bit of trouble for that stunt."

"Oh, I don't blame you. My parents were the same way until I moved out and got a job, moving half way across the country to make myself happy." Kikyo said a bit crass. It was unintentional, but she came off that way sometimes. InuYasha had made a point to tell her that on many occasions when they were together.

Ume widened her eyes and let out a little laugh, secretly wondering where in hell this woman came from. "I suppose you two met on her vacation?"

"Yes, ma'am." Kikyo replied, "She was a good friend."

"That's good that you had a nice friend, besides that ruffian, Sango." Ume said with relief.

Kagome smiled secretly to herself and sat the shoe down on a the rack nearest the door. "I'm going to go say goodbye to Kikyo and thank her for bringing me my shoe. I love you, Mama." She placed a kiss on her cheek and didn't look back as Kikyo bid her farewell.

When the door closed and the two women were out of sight from the window, Kagome's arms flung around her slender frame, "Where did you come from?" She squealed, raising those tempestuous eyes to the older woman.

"I'm here on business and like always, when InuYasha has a problem, he calls me to fix it. I was up anyway. I've got all sorts of crazy cravings and stuff." Kikyo snorted, wrapping her arms around herself as they carefully ended their descent onto the sidewalk.

"You're pregnant?" Kagome blinked, looking down at her flat stomach.

"I just found out a week ago. InuYasha's not too keen that I decided to marry his brother, but what can you do? I didn't expect it." She laughed.

"That's great, though. I hope that you stay as happy as you are now. It's really good to see you, Kikyo." Kagome said as she turned a corner, not really caring if she made it on time or not. "How did you find me, anyway?"

Kikyo scrunched her nose and adjusted her hat. "Sango told me where to go. InuYasha said that when he saw you he pretty much turned into a girl."

Kagome smiled into her scarf, "I really missed him. I thought that you would be mad, or upset about it, but I'm glad you're not. I love him so much that I could burst. I thought I might have if I hadn't seen him last night."

"Ever since their dad passed, he and Sesshomaru have both been a bit off. They don't realize it, but that was one of the only things that held them together and now I kind of am. It's strange how things work out." Kikyo shrugged, eyes rolling over the bakery and the warmth it promised.

Grabbing Kagome's hand, she lead her across the street and begged her to come inside. When she complied, Kikyo bought her breakfast and they sat in a booth nearest the old plugged in heater; completely content with their bodies being charred.

"I don't mean to sound like a bitch, but your mom seemed like she wanted to strangle me." Kikyo said as she took a bite of her muffin. "I've seen that disapproving look before. I don't know why people don't like me. I'm nice."

Kagome picked apart her donut, holding her heavy head up with her hand. If she hadn't played hookey, she probably would have been drooling on her desk. "My mom has been overly protective of us since my dad died. It's been so long that I barely remember what he looks like without a picture to remind me. She doesn't realize that holding us so close is pushing us away. We love her, more than anything, but she doesn't want us to find a way without her, because she has no one else."

'That's understandable, but you can't blame her for being upset that you ran off in the middle of the night. Whenever this thing decides to do something I don't like, I'm probably going to be the I'm going to ground you and never let you have fun ever again mom." Kikyo chided. "Honestly, though," Her eyes fell slightly, "I think that you have a lot of potential that you shouldn't waste on rebeling. I did. It took me a while, but I got where I needed to be. InuYasha needed you to see what was wrong with our realtionship and for him to realize that he isn't a sorry person. He's so smitten by you, I think he might have evaporated if you hadn't come by."

Kikyo searched for something else to say, and squinted her eyes. "He's stupid though. InuYasha really should have called you or something. I'd be so pissed."

Kagome covered her mouth to suppress a laugh. She adored this woman and couldn't imagine why InuYasha had ever let her go. But, at the same time, she thanked her for giving him the chance to fall in love again and sprout some new roots.

The womn eventually became her mentor and her mother actually got over the sassiness and let her stay over a few days before Sango's wedding. Which, had turned out to be beautiful and overflowing with emotion from every party involved.

InuYasha had cleaned up, trimmed his hair and sent Kikyo money to buy Kagome something formal to wear. When he saw her, he attached himself to her like a second skin and didn't let Sango even get a chance to get at her. He made love to her and promised to wait, but as the seasons went on, Kagome wondered if he would still be there when her courses were over in early spring.

Kikyo was about to burst and had been in and out of doctors appointments and the like. She met Sesshomaru for the first time and was terrified of him. She'd never really known a businessman quite like him. He was savvy, intelligent, down right brutal.

Though, Kikyo brought out a tenderness, especially after she had Rin.

Kagome couldn't help but muse about the way her winter had crept by, achingly slow and obnoxious. When spring began to stir up the first hints of sakura and rebirth to the deadend life, she had told her mother she was taking a break and it hadn't gone over well.

Ume had finally accepted that Kagome was no longer the five year old, standing with her father in her summer dress and small sandals strapped over her feet. She was a filled out, tall and beautiful woman. She had done what she had set out to do and Ume had to give her away to her own charms.

Kagome had promised she wasn't leaving forever and found herself gravitating back to the shanty. Her small bag was packed with the barest of necessitites as she rounded the bend, like she had so many times before. Part of her was curious if InuYasha would still want her after all of this time.

They had seen each other here and there, hoping that it would last longer than it had. In the end, the girl found herself stepping off the train and walking the entire way to the town and stood tall on the sandbar. Her heart was home and her body was just the vessal to lead her there.

The evening was stretched out over the horizon and it made her smile as the breeze lifted her hair from her shoulders. There was nothing like this little place, so far from the world of excess. It really wasn't far from anything, but the fact that it was hers made it feel that way.

Heading down the familiar path, she saw Kagura smoking her cigarette, gabbing to someone on her phone. Totosai was sitting beside her on a bucket, smoking out of his pipe, sunglasses drapped on his forehead.

There was a new girl that peeked her head out the door, nervously waiting for approval before she did anything out of step. Kagome knew her and she knew what would become of her. By the end of the season, she would be completely different and home.

Koga saw her and ran up to her, bringing his girlfriend in tow. He waved around her hand and showed her the large diamond her had put on her finger and all Kagome would do was jump up and down crying for them. Ayame did a dance and latched on to her arms, completely oblivious to her other have sending Kagome the faintest of sadness. He loved that red head, though. She knew that.

When Koga had pulled her away to the dinner, Kagome made her escape to the conclave of houses and braced herself as she knocked on the door. She wasn't aware that the house had been renovated and she frowned slightly.

Sitting her bag down, she knocked on the door loudly; then again, and again to no answer. Sighing, she pushed the door open and found no one in the house. There were a few empty bottles of beer sitting on a newly replaced counter and a more open living room.

There was obviously a larger television, and it made her roll her eyes. Men were so picky about their electronics, especially when it wasn't really necessary. Heading upstairs, she called softly for InuYasha and was surprised to see the middle bedroom gone, and extended in the bedroom that they once shared.

She didn't dare open the door and leaned against it, feeling her heart flutter. She ran to Sango's old room to find it stuffed with colorful sheets and new drapery. There was a new bed and nicer furniture, obviously a sign that this was really a home instead of a getaway.

Conceeding to this failure, she walked down stairs and to the back door, while the evening darkend in the interior of the house. She realized the lights she strung were still there and she smiled at them, tracing her fingers lovingly over the bulbs as they glowed brightly in the dusk.

She wrapped her arms around herself and pulled at the cotton of her dress. It was then she saw Sango and Miroku dragging a folded table behind them as they laughed. She furrowed her brows at them until the other woman bolted forward and knocked her down.

Miroku was hopeful but it was extinguished when Kagome looked upset at the absence of that one person. The rest of the night they sat around a small fire, talking about their work and their new lives. Kagome had been so intrigued she had lost track of the time and realized how dark it had become.

Part of her died knowing that he wasn't there when she arrived. It was almost like being cut to pieces and having no help in finding them. As the wind picked up and blew out the fire into a smoking ember, Sango and Miroku crept inside the house to sit on that same old dirty couch, misplaced by all of the additions.

Kagome took in the cool night and began headed towards the beach. She found the lifeguard chair empty and finally decided to climb up and count the stars above her head, listening to the bittersweet tune the ocean played for her.

A while had passed when she heard panting from below and saw InuYasha, holding his chest. The woman leaned over, hair spilling over her shoulders to hang about her face. "InuYasha..." She muttered, watching his lanky body climb up the rungs until he stood high above her. Standing up, she wrapped her arms around him, feeling every inch of him press into her.

He held her there, still and quiet as he took her in.

"I'm sorry I can never be on time." The man rasped, laughing slightly as he brushed her hair with his fingers.

The woman raised her eyes lovingly and pulled him closer."I'm used to it by now. You just need to make sure you let me know you aren't leaving me." The moonlight hung overhead, bathing them in the ethereal hues it painted. His jacket fluttered against the zephyrs and her hair danced along with it. There was a moment of solace when he placed a ginger kiss upon her lips, not expecting anything more than that.

In the stillness, he leaned his nose against hers and smirked. "Well, I was picking this ring and I kind of missed the train." InuYasha said with a shrug, pulling out a small box from his pocket.

Kagome couldn't speak, or make any expression. She was just floored, for a lack of a better word. There, in the middle of the night, she was being handed a small silver ring with a sapphire heart in the center. She wasn't sure exactly what it meant, but she shook as he slid it on her finger.

"I didn't buy an engagement ring, or one of those dumbass promise rings." InuYasha chided, "But, I did buy you a we're going to try ring."

Kagome absently smacked him as she saw Miroku popping firecrackers at the base of the chair, screaming in some sort of pseudo victory dance. Sango lit some sparklers and started running along the shoals, reflecting the twinkling light in the glassy water.

InuYasha helped Kagome down the ladder and pulled her on his back as she lit her own. Wrapping an arm around his chest, she leaned into him as he ran off with her with her own trail of stardust.