Eeeek! Sorry for the rather late update, everybody! However, a little over a week ago when I went to post this chapter, my laptop died! I mean DIED! So, before I could do anything else, I had to order a new laptop. Thank GOODNESS I was able to salvage all my stuff off of my old laptop's hard-drive. Otherwise, this story (and all my other stories) would have been doomed. T_T *coughs* Anyhoo… moving on. Now, let's have a HUGE thank you and brownies for my most AWESOME and recent THIRTY-SEVEN reviewers: Nightwing's Gal, Nicola-beat, LadyEllesmere, karlachan18, Neeky-chan, Zuta-chan, Audrey, NekoxRose, Guest, kmimzy, Enlightened Tenshi, AnimeGmr101, Dontgotaclue88, Guest, xoxoSoCal619Sweetheartxoxo, bur bur, , LittleDarling13, Nadia Pendragon, SarahBloomSakura, rukoitalian65, AnimeFan001, funnylittlestory, AmyRoseAlice, Alykat120, Audrey, Forevermore21, Avril087, Evilgoddess7676, Rin155, MugiwaraNoHitomi, Anime hotty lover.18, Audrey, bonitalito, animelover56348, kia himatari, and Guest! I LOVE YOU ALL SOOOO MUCH! *gomp hugs you all* Also, another HUGE thanks to all the AMAZING readers who have already favorited and/or followed this story! I LOVE YOU ALL! I hope you all enjoy chapter thirty-nine! :D

Disclaimer: I do NOT own Inuyasha, the Inuyasha plot, NOR the Inuyasha characters. I only own my own OCs Kaze Hijikata, Riko Hijikata, Ryosuke Hijikata, Toga Akatsuki and any other OCs created along the way, and any part of the plot NOT a part of the Inuyasha anime or manga. This fanfic, however, is MINE and I'd like to keep it that way.


Chapter 39-Now and Forever

Sesshomaru's Pack/In the Woods, Alongside a River…
Walking alongside Sesshomaru a few feet on up ahead of the pack, Kaze's gaze again drifted downwards ever so briefly to glance at the smooth, clawed hand that was still firmly holding her own hand in its un-relinquishing grasp.

Warm.

The small contact brought about a sort of soothing feeling that the young spiritualist could feel warming and soothing her entire being, causing a small, almost amused smile to twitch at her lips. Honestly, she hadn't quite known what to expect from the Daiyoukai when she had voluntarily strode up and took his hand in her own. Many would probably consider the act to be quite daring, while others (*cough* Inuyasha *cough*) would consider it downright suicide. However, if anyone knew Kaze well enough, they would already know that she was just the kind of person to pull off something like that.

In the end, the Western Lord has simply seemed surprised, and the girl dare day a tad pleased at the action. After all, he had quite quickly secured her hand in his a good deal more firmly and wasn't it him who was still holding on to it?

To be honest, the young woman had expected him to let go of her hand once they returned to the others. Yet, that hadn't been the case in the least as the Inu hadn't even relinquished his grip when the raven-haired girl had placed her courting gift on the back of A-Un.

A small chuckle left Kaze's lips as she remembered the look on Jaken's face when she and the kappa's master had returned back to the group. The little Youkai's eyes had nearly popped out of his head when he'd seen the two alphas of the pack holding hands. Rin, on the other hand, had simply broken out into a silent but utterly delighted little grin, and hadn't stopped grinning since.

In the meantime, Sesshomaru's golden gaze almost instantly flickered down to his intended as he heard the soft but unmistakable chuckle escape her lips, her dark red eyes warm with amusement as a small smile laid splayed across her face. The Daiyoukai could easily smell the scent of her amusement brushing against his sensitive nostrils, causing him to raise a delicate eyebrow in question, "Something amuses you?"

The tiniest of blushes quickly dusted the girl's face as she snapped out of her thoughts and met the Inu's silently questioning gaze. "Perhaps," she stated evasively all the while grinning in a lazy manner, the mirth still dancing in her eyes as her gaze returned to the road up ahead. "It's nothing really. I suppose I'm just in a good mood."

"Hn?" the single syllable still held a slightly inquisitive tone as the Inu's raised eyebrow heightened a fraction more, a small smirk tugging at his lips.

"Yes, that's right," Kaze hummed, before turning her head to give her companion a wry grin. "Although, it's probably cause for the first time in what has seemed like forever, I'm not ransacking my brain to figure out a certain, previously extremely confusing Mr. Lord of the Western Lands that I know."

Said Mr. Lord of the Western Lands simply lifted his head up slightly in a haughty manner as he replied, "This one thought he was making his intentions perfectly obvious."

"Okay, so, in some ways maybe you were," the raven-haired spiritualist admitted with a huff, rolling her eyes. "But still… Over all, it was still pretty hard to comprehend."

"Hn."

The young woman twitched. "Not to mention that someone wasn't exactly being straightforward in answering my questions," she accused the man beside her irritably.

"Hn," the Daiyoukai again replied with his typical, stoic answer. Although, his golden eyes may have betrayed the tiniest glimmer of amusement as he continued, "Very well, Kaze, if you still have questions you wish to pose then this one gives you his word that he shall answer them without reserve."

Well, that certainly caught her attention.

"Huh?"

A delicate eyebrow raised in slight mockery, the Western Lord gave his surprised future mate a graciously patient look, "If you do not have any questions you wish to ask, then cease your complaints of this one's method of response."

"Who said I didn't have anything to ask!?" Kaze fumed right back at her friend, her whole body twitching in a comically irritable fashion.

Golden eyes gleamed challengingly, "Then ask."

"Oh, you bet I will! Watch me!" the little firecracker snapped, silently cursing her temper as she wracked her seemingly suddenly empty brain for a decent inquiry. "Erm…" she trailed off lamely, her gaze falling again falling down to the hand that was still holding on to her. "You have… markings on your hand."

"That was a statement," Sesshomaru was quick to point out, now even his voice holding the tiniest amount of amusement to its tone in contrast to his usual frigid demeanor.

"Yes, I know that! You didn't let me finish!" the spiritualist huffed, her cheeks dusting red with embarrassment. Although, she couldn't deny that she was thoroughly enjoying being able to talk with him again just as they did in past, except now, it seemed to be even more natural. "As I was saying…" she sent the male beside her a small glare which was apathetically ignored, "you have markings on your hand. So, do they go up the rest of your arm?"

"Hn," the Western Lord confirmed with a small smirk, silently amused with the question his intended had come up with during her momentary desperate scramble for an inquiry. "They also decorate this one's legs," he continued, deciding to elaborate as he carefully gauged his intended's reaction, "and travel up to his mid-back, circling around to the side of the ribcage. Others in the front halt their accent at the lower abdomen."

"O-Oh," Kaze replied simply, a bit surprised that the Inu had spoken so much about himself. Mostly, however, the young woman was stubbornly pushing back the image that Sesshomaru's description had just painted, "What the hell!? Shut up brain, SHUT UP!"

Too bad for Kaze that she didn't catch the small, smug little smirk that flitted across Sesshomaru's face, otherwise she would have realized that the Daiyoukai had known full well what image his description would create.

"Hmm…" the Inu's beast rumbled in a suggestive tone from within. "We could always show them to her."

Now that the young spiritualist was officially his intended, even the more logical side of Sesshomaru had to admit that the idea was tempting. However, judging by how clearly innocent his intended was when dealing with the opposite gender, not that that bothered him any, the Western Lord had the inclination that such a bold advance this early in the stage may very well turn out to be… catastrophic.

"Anyhoo…" the young woman finally spoke out again, ignoring her companion's questioning look at her language as she determined to move forward from this awkward little spot that he'd set her in. "Those markings, they're a sign of your heritage as a Inu Daiyoukai, right? Same goes for the crescent moon on your forehead."

"Indeed," the Daiyoukai replied as he refocused his mind, feeling pleased with the interest his future mate seemed to be showing in his proud heritage as an Inu Daiyoukai.

"I'm gonna have to warn ya," Kaze chuckled a bit, grinning up at her companion. "Since, to my knowledge, there are no Youkai in Kagome and I's era, my expertise and dealings have mostly been with spirits. So, just saying, even if I have a little knowledge, my experience level when being around Youkai and erm… identifying their behavior is next to zero."

A small smirk formed on the Western Lord's face at this information, "Then this Sesshomaru shall be the one to teach you."

The girl raised a curious eyebrow at the male beside her, "You're gonna teach me, huh?"

"Hn."

A wry smile flickered across the spiritualist's face while her eyes glistened with humor as she sighed, "Why do I get the feeling that I've gotten myself into a lot more trouble than I bargained for?"

"You consider this one to be trouble?" golden eyes narrowed slightly in question.

"You bet I do," Kaze laughed lightly, looking up and shooting the Inu a grin, "and come on, you can't honestly tell me that you don't think I'm trouble as well."

A small smirk twitched at the Daiyoukai's lips. "Indeed," he hummed his agreement, "for you are as temperamental and uncontrollable as fire and as proud and free as the wind. A troublesome combination," he raised a slightly accusing eyebrow at his intended, "windswept fire."

"A troublesome combination, hmm?" Kaze's eyes were thoughtful as she silently mulled over the terms the Western Lord has used to describe her. "Am I really worth it?"

"Yes," came the immediate and unwavering reply.

The young spiritualist's head snapped up so that she could meet Sesshomaru's serious gaze. Yet, as much as she wanted to press and ask why, she knew she'd already decided to let time tell and reveal to her the truth. After all, actions were something that always spoke louder than words.

Sesshomaru was a prime example of that.

"Lord Sesshomaru?" it was Rin's sweet little voice that finally forced the two to break eye contact with one another.

Turning his head slightly so as to look over his shoulder, the white-haired male calmly addressed his ward, "What is it, Rin?"

"Rin is really hungry," the small child elaborated from the back of A-Un. "May she go get something to eat?"

"Hn," the Inu answered in his usual stoic demeanor. Yet, he watched with careful, protective eyes as his more-or-less adopted pup clambered off of A-Un and began heading down to the riverbank.

"Why don't we all stop for a bit?" it was Kaze's voice that halted the small child briefly and instantly caught the Western Lord's attention. "After all, it's already late afternoon and rustling up some proper dinner would probably be a good idea."

Sesshomaru's eyes narrowed slightly as his intended's proposal. Personally, he would like to continue moving on. However, just by following his future mate's gaze, it was easy to tell that her mind was resting solely on making sure that Rin was properly cared for.

"We should do as our intended suggests," the Inu's beast instantly supplied, and the Daiyoukai could feel that it was very close to the surface. "Or have you forgotten that she is our alpha female? It is her job to look after the pups, just as it is our duty to provide for the both of them."

"Indeed," the Western Lord silently agreed. "We shall remain here for now," he stated in his usual stoic tone before turning around a stalking away. "This one shall provide for the meal."

"Huh?" Kaze's eyes widened in surprise as she realized that Sesshomaru was actually going to go hunting for them. "That's okay, Sesshomaru," the young woman quickly called out after him, successfully causing him to pause in his step. "I'll just help Rin catch some fish. There's no reason for you to have to-"

"Enough," the Western Lord's tone held a hint of a warning growl. "There shall be no argument." And with that said, he took to the skies. Honestly, why was it so hard for his future mate to accept help from others? Of course, he already knew the answer to that, but this was his future mate. Therefore, it was only natural that he would be the one providing for her. During this hunt, it was something the Daiyoukai would be proving he was fully capable of doing, for the spiritualist would need to learn that relying on him for some things was something she could now do.

In the meantime, the raven-haired young woman simply now stood there with the rest of her companions, an irritable look on her face. "So, the little twat's gonna be snappy, huh?" she snorted wryly.

Fine.

If he was so determined to bring back dinner, then he could just have at it.

Her red eyes turned thoughtful. Perhaps that was it though… this was technically a pack. Therefore, as the alpha male, wouldn't it by every right be Sesshomaru's job to do the hunting?

Whoops.

Shaking herself for not realizing it earlier, Kaze could now easily see why her suggestion had irritated him. For by refusing his offer, it was basically the same as refusing his position as the one providing for her, since he was technically now courting her.

Although, she most certainly hadn't meant it that way.

Again, whoops.

"Well, whatever," Kaze shook away her irritation, now that she understood the reason for his. Besides, she could smell sulphur on the air, meaning that there was a nice, lovely hot springs nearby. "Rin," the young woman called out to the small child who was currently playing in the river.

"Yes, Miss Kaze?" the little girl replied brightly, running up towards the bank so as to stand in front of the other female.

"How would you like to come with me to the hot springs?" the spiritualist grinned.

The eight-year old's eyes lit up brilliantly at the suggestion, "Rin would love that!"

"Hold it!" Jaken squawked, having overheard the conversation as he stomped towards the duo. "Lord Sesshomaru specifically said that we were to wait here. Therefore-"

"Make sure to look after A-Un until we get back," Kaze called out as she hoisted the now giggling Rin onto her shoulders, completely ignoring the little kappa's furious outburst as she began walking away. "As for Sesshomaru, if he knows anything about me at all, then he should already expect something this. I'll deal with his little tantrum when we get back. That is, if he gets back before us."

OoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoOoO

A relaxed sigh left Kaze's lips as she sank deeper into the heated waters of the hot spring. "This is heavenly," she hummed in pleasure, her red eyes closing as her facial features seemed to completely relax. Although, that most certainly didn't mean that her guard was down, even if she did give the outward appearance of such.

From off to the spiritualist's side, Rin couldn't help but giggle, "You seem to really like hot springs, Miss Kaze."

"Yeah…" the young woman sighed with a blissful smile, cracking an amused eye open so as to look at the small child sitting next to her. "After the last few days I've had, this really hits the spot."

"Hits the spot?" Rin's eyes showed confusion as she tilted her head in question.

"Erm… feels good," the elder female elaborated with a chuckle.

The eight-year old giggled, "Miss Kaze often talks funny."

"I do, huh?" Kaze sported a lop-sided grin as she fondly ruffled Rin's dark hair. "I could say the same about you and Sesshomaru. Come to think of it, why do you two always talk in third person? Like when you always say your name instead of just saying 'I' or 'me'."

"Lord Sesshomaru told Rin that it is the proper way to speak," Rin informed the other female without missing a beat.

"I see," the spiritualist raised a slightly interested eyebrow at the girl before allowing her head to fall back and lean up against the rocks, her red eyes peering up at the darkening sky.

After several more seconds of comfortable silence had passed between them, it was once again Rin who spoke up, "Miss Kaze?"

"Hmm?" the young woman hummed her lazy response, not having the energy to open her eyes. Honestly, she really hoped there was no one around stupid enough to try attacking them, for it would really suck if she had to ruin her first bath in the last five days with a fight.

"Are you and Lord Sesshomaru going to get married?"

Dark red eyes flew open as they instantly fell on the innocently smiling child. "Wha- Where in the world did that question come from?" Kaze spluttered, her face flushing red. Although, she determined to blame it solely on the heat from the hot springs.

The child's head tilted in an innocently inquisitive manner, "Well, Lord Sesshomaru said that he was going to make you his wife, and earlier he and Miss Kaze were holding hands."

"Yeah, well… that doesn't necessarily mean we're going to get married," the spiritualist attempted to explain, for if was way too early to begin seriously looking down that route. Nope, definitely not going there yet.

"But why?" Rin pressed, not understanding the complications. "Doesn't Miss Kaze love Lord Sesshomaru?"

A brief silence fell over the duo after the child posed that question.

"Yes… I do," Kaze began carefully, giving the little girl a warm smile as she gently patted her on the head. "But relationships are a lot more complex than that. As for how the relationship between Sesshomaru and I will work out, we'll just have to wait and see."

"Oh," Rin said softly before looking up giving the young woman a pleading look. "But you will stay with us, right Miss Kaze?"

"You bet I will," the young woman pulled Rin into a gentle hug as she soothingly stroked the child's damp locks. "With you guys is my home, now and forever."


Daw... I must say, I really, REALLY loved this chapter! ^_^ We'll be having a couple more chapters similar to this chapter so Sesshy and Kaze can get settled together before the Inuyasha plot again raises its head. A little sneak peek into the near future, but Naraku now has quite a bone to pick with Kaze. Fufufufu.. XD. Anyways, pretty please drop me a review before ya leave. Seriously, you reader's reviews have been keeping me SOOO inspired! So, keep up the AWESOME work and I'll keep dishing out new chapters! Also, please follow and favorite this story as well. :) See you all in next chapter! :D

Rock Out!
Kira