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I Found A Reason

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I Found A Reason
By: The Hatter Theory

Disclaimer: I didn't create any of the characters contained except Naishin. The rest are property of Rumiko Takahashi. I'm just playing and taking liberties with her story to try and entertain others. Hope it works. I also do not own 'I Found A Reason' by Cat Power, but I do love her voice.
A/N: A simple one shot written at the behest of my fiance and my muses, who thought that I Found a Reason by Cat Power was the perfect song to listen to for three hours straight. It'll be rusty, this is the first try in a long time at anything fanfic related, and especially around my favorite couple.

Addendum: This was initially posted on FFNet last May.

~*~

She fought through the battlefield, determined to make it to the other side, knowing what awaited her. Time seemed slowed down, as if in slow motion in a movie. Her aura swelling around her and receding, only to swell again, mimicking her heartbeat. Howls and screams and grunts of pain echoed loudly through the valley of this final, bloody battle in what had become a war against Naraku.

Sesshoumaru's long white hair, matted with gore flew around him as he battled multiple youkai, Bakusaiga singing through the air, cleaving bone and flesh alike. She saw him entering the field of her vision and tried to think. Afraid of harming him, she pulled the field of her power more tightly around her. He looked over his shoulder and snarled at her, his eyes masked in red.

"It won't harm me miko, don't stop," He commanded, his voice echoing through the noise.

In the past few months that he had traveled with the rag tag group of friends, she had learned one thing above all. To trust him when he said he could handle something.

Her aura flared out, a precursor to the energy. She pushed it out further, determined to help him as he had helped her so many times. He had felt her release her energy, had withstood it. But this was different. Stronger. More powerful. Deadly.

Youkai and hanyou turned to ash in the wake of her aura as it spread out. But Sesshoumaru, true to his word, remained. Like any sudden absence of water in the ocean, the sea of youkai around them surged in to fill in the void. She pushed her aura out again, Sesshoumaru pushed to her by the fighting wave of lesser youkai.

Bodies fell, cleaved in half, decapitated or maimed while she mustered another wave of purifying energy. The pulse went out, ash seemed to follow in it's wake. In the moments where she summoned energy, he was there, protecting her even though any youkai touching her would turn to ash. But she was grateful, able to focus more on her task.

It was slow going, pushing through to the other side of the battlefield. But determined as they were, they made headway. Any attackers fell in their wake. If it had not been for her goal, she would have been horrified by the path they cut through the valley. Would have been terrified of the daiyoukai at her side with his feral red eyes and ability to dispatch so many with such ease. Only snarls of a purely bestial nature and his eyes betrayed the true depth of his rage.

Oni fell or turned to ash. Kagome felt the blood of a strike splash onto her face. Bile rose in her throat, and she felt her energy falter as it's acidic saliva began to burn her skin. Sesshoumaru felt the energy surrounding her stumble and dim, and energy whipped from his fingertips, effectively keeping them in a circle of protection.

"Let it loose!" He commanded. Kagome was numbed with shock, and obeyed as he took her into his arms. Distress forced more power to the surface, the light exploding like the atom bombs of her time, enclosing them in the bright light.

Something wet on her cheek, slightly rough. She opened her eyes, almost blinded by the surge of her own power, but just able to see his red eyes right in front of her own. His breath on her face, hot.

He was licking her.

The burning gone, he pulled away.

"Hold on," He commanded, turning his back to her. Her own surge of energy was dimming, and she jumped on his offered back. And something began to happen.

She'd never forget the sensation as long as she lived.

Energy, so different than her own, whipped a storm around them, like deadly blades cutting down any enemy surrounding them. His form shifted, changed, and as she felt the energy expand, the back between her thighs grew hot, stretched. Fur was suddenly just there, and she held to it as she was suddenly above the field, almost level with the top of the valley.

Dusk was beginning to turn to night as his howl pierced the air, triumphant and challenging.

She was riding Sesshoumaru. In his true form.

A mind touched against hers, not even hesitant, and she saw the image. Her power consuming the field after getting their own troops out. Knew he was transmitting it to his general, her friends, even his half brother.

And it seemed as if a retreat was sounded before she could refuse. Their side began to fall back, running as fast as they could, leaving the miko and the daiyoukai in the center of the field, surrounded by the enemy as darkness fell, cloaking them. Kagome could feel each oppressive aura bearing down on her, could feel the hunger and the rage and the burning need to possess that which she held half of, and also of her. A priestess. To destroy every last vestige of purity she possessed.

His mind touched against hers again, calming in it's authority, soothing in it's tone, if minds could have a tone. The image flashed again. She shook her head, a quiet refusal. She'd kill him as well as everything else on the field.

A tree withstanding time penetrated her refusal. It withstood the ash rain of a volcano, and still stood, strong in the face of disaster and time.

She prayed, hoping he was right. If not, she would lose one of the few people, if not the only one, with complete faith in her abilities.

And then she called to the energy deep within herself, in the land, and of the half completed shikon jewel on her necklace.

If her energy had been like an atom bomb before, this was a hydrogen bomb, bigger and brighter and even more frightening, most of all to the miko losing herself within the maelstrom of power that was pulling her down into herself while into the cutting winds, tossing her about like a ragdoll.

"Hang on!" A voice shouted into the winds. She could barely register the urgency in his voice as a clawed hand took her wrist, almost breaking it in his grip. Yanked hard into his body, cognizant of his cracked and broken armor enough to note pieces missing from it, the power pulsing from her seemed to batter at him, refusing to accept his embrace.

"Hold on to everything Kagome, don't lose yourself in this!"

Had he just called her by name? He had never done that before.

The youkai arguing for her presence at the battle flashed in her eyes.

Sesshoumaru putting a calm, reassuring hand on her shoulder, saying nothing, but nodding gently.

Protecting her as she gathered energy to send out wave after wave, enduring the pain that must have accompanied it without complaint.

His body growing, his triumphant call ringing throughout the valley.

His chest beneath her cheek now, his arms tight around her, an almost bone breaking grip as he told her not to lose herself, to hold on over and over, his voice louder than she had ever heard it, forcing itself to be heard above the winds around them.

Night felt like day as her energy peaked and she screamed, muscles feeling stretched too tightly beneath the skin, expanding and every atom of her being flying apart.

Faith he would help keep the pieces together with just his hold on her was all she knew.

And as suddenly as it had peaked, it was over, and the ground rushed up to meet them. Barely catching himself and her, they landed gently, stumbling as solid ground became water beneath them.

Exhaustion claimed the both of them, but his hold on her never lessened as she fell, pillowed by his body into the ground.

~*~

"He took it all. Everyone with even a drop of youkai blood felt mortal terror, even a mile away, and he took it," A voice said in awe. Kagome's eyes opened heavily. Her head felt like it had been filled with rocks and then shaken in a hundred different ways. Even the light of the stars and the moon above them felt too bright.

"Guys?" Kagome asked. Sango and Miroku knelt by them, staring at her incredulously.

"Kagome, you're awake!" Sango practically screamed, throwing herself on her friend, ignoring that she was starting a makeshift dog pile on top of the daiyoukai. A low rumbling beneath Kagome warned her of her companion's waking.

"Sesshoumaru-sama, I'm so sorry," Sango stuttered, moving away from the prone forms on the ground.

"Ah, we found this, there isn't a youkai or hanyou that's able to get even close to this area, so it was safe," Miroku told Kagome, offering her the other half of the jewel. She took it, the dark taint shifting to glowing pink at her touch. She held it in her fist, bringing it to the piece on the necklace.

And they joined, a perfect orb.

"Kagome would you like to get up?" Sango began, her voice uncharacteristically unsure.

A low rumbling beneath Kagome's chest warned her against any such movements.

"How long?" She croaked, her voice foreign to her, ignoring that Sesshoumaru refused to slacken his hold on her.

"An hour or so. It happened right as true night fell. It was, Kagome, I've never seen anything like that," Miroku said, his voice filled with awe once more. "The power alone, you could have been lost, or worse, broken. It was beautiful though, like the sun coming from the earth."

Kagome didn't answer him, knowing she would have been, had it not been for the youkai willing the brave the eye of the storm and keep the pieces of her, physically and mentally, held to him with a determination that rivaled anything she had ever known.

"Shippou and Rin are both worried. Do you need help-" Sango was cut off as the daiyoukai stood, his eyes impassive and imperious, holding her in his arms carefully. Where it not for the broken pauldron on his shoulder, she would have thought he still had an abundance of energy. But as the armor refused to heal, she knew the toll his actions had taken on him.

Taking that as their sign to leave, her two friends stood and walked ahead of the miko and youkai, looking back from time to time as if to make sure they were real. Incredulity apparent in their eyes, Kagome turned back into Sesshoumaru's chest, but not before seeing the monk and slayer take the other's hand.

She glanced up into the youkai's ever cool expression and smiled.

He didn't look down at her, but she felt herself squeezed just a little more tightly to his chest. Still too dazed by the events of the night, and the growing realization that it was over, it didn't occur to her that the reassuring squeeze had also been completely out of character.

~*~

By the next morning,most of the wolf tribes and a majority of Sesshoumaru's army were departing, carrying their dead and wounded on clouds much like Sesshoumaru's. The nearby village was filled with celebrating humans and youkai alike, those that elected to stay behind at least. Many had fled upon seeing the daiyoukai's army, and those that stayed had been kind enough to open their homes to Kagome and her companions, especially after finding out that the miko had been responsible for the wave of holy power that had washed through their village, an aftershock that had affected them in the opposite manner of the youkai.

Sesshoumaru had barely left Kagome's side the entire time. Inu Yasha seemed cowed by her, almost afraid to come near her. Shippou hadn't cared if his adoptive mother had been the source of the power. He was just happy to see her alive. He had felt them approaching and drug the crying Rin behind him, determined to see his mother and help his friend stop crying. Seeing the miko in the daiyoukai's arms hadn't phased him in the least. She was alive. And he and Rin both had refused to leave the woman's side until told to play.

Other youkai did arrive. Some wanted to know what had caused the shockwave of power felt miles away. Others knew of the mission and had heard of it's success, and wanted to see the results for themselves.

None of them were prepared to see the daiyoukai guarding the priestess. Coolly, informally, but still there. A lord acting the bodyguard. For a ningen.

"This is the Lady Kagome I have heard so much about," A voice stated, rather than asked. Kagome looked up, her exhaustion evident, nodded, and bowed politely.

"This is Lord Naishin, the daiyoukai of the eastern lands," Sesshoumaru supplied.

"It is an honor to meet Midoriko's heir. I think perhaps, that you have surpassed her. She was a good woman, few like her. Seems her blood bred true," Naishin said, smiling enough that his eyes crinkled in the corners. A genuine smile.

"You knew her?" Kagome gasped.

"I did. And I can tell you have the same power as she. This area, it's saturated with your aura, your power. I wish to know how you survived the backlash. The last time power on this scale was released by a miko, Midoriko created the jewel, and she didn't survive."

Kagome wanted to blush and looked down, afraid he would read the truth screaming from her mind. She chose her next words as carefully as she could, knowing how easily her trust could be misconstrued.

"Lord Sesshoumaru protected me while I gathered the energy, and kept me from getting lost in the maelstrom."

"He grounded you?" The older youkai asked in disbelief. "A youkai grounded a miko's powers? But, the strength that requires, and for you to let him," He sputtered, turning his face back to Kagome after looking at Sesshoumaru as if he'd lost his mind.

"I had faith in Sesshoumaru-sama's strength," She said in a small voice, hoping she wasn't overstepping any boundaries. "He was able to pass through the barrier at Hakurei."

"Hakurei was to you as a puddle to the ocean," Naishin rebutted.

"That is enough, Naishin. It is over, and the miko needs to rest before the festivities begin tonight." His voice brooked no argument. Kagome felt herself blush as he began walking.

"I think you should follow little miko. If it is as you say, there is much to know. The council still needs to hear of Naraku's defeat, and there is something to consider, Sesshoumaru's ability to ground such a powerful attack, and keep you safe in it. It takes more than faith on your part for him to be able to do such a thing. The elders will be very interested to know how that feat was accomplished."

"What do you mean?" Kagome asked, startled by the elder's words.

"Even with his strength, his pride, his endurance, his will would have to have been considerable. Purpose requires drive, and in a place where intent is everything, his will is all that he had to help you."

"Miko," Sesshoumaru called, barely raising his voice, but she heard the warning in it. She bowed quickly and began to follow the daiyoukai.

"That was really rude," She admonished when she aught up with him.

"The children are worried. You've been busy for the past several hours, and they haven't been able to see you."

It was enough to distract her from the youkai's words as she rushed to the childrens favorite spot to play.

When she found them, being hovered over by Jaken, she almost laughed. Shippou was learning to make flower wreaths. And failing miserably.

"Momma, Rin and I are making you a crown for tonight!" Shippou smiled, his eyes wide with delight. The preparations in the village for the occasion were keeping everyone busy it seemed, as Kagome had spoken to the representatives of various youkai clans.

"Thank you both so much," Kagome sighed as she sat down next to them. Sesshoumaru took his place farther away from them, leaning against a tree, legs crossed. He seemed so peaceful, but Kagome knew in a moment all of that could change. His prowess on the field of battle had only been reinforced. A chuckle escaped. She wondered if this unshakable faith was the same that Rin held in the lord.

"Kagome, what is that?" Rin asked as she began to set the crown on Kagome's head. The little girl's hand touched her face and Kagome traced the small line there, curious. It ran across, a ridged bump of a line, thin, but there all the same, along the line of her cheekbone.

Suddenly she remembered Sesshoumaru's red eyes staring straight into her own, almost swallowing her in his rage as she felt him licking her face.

"This Sesshoumaru was not able to heal all of it, this Sesshoumaru apologizes," He mumbled quietly. Kagome hadn't even been aware he had moved, but he was looking at the scar as if angry with himself.

"Heal it?"

"On the battlefield, the oni blood was poison, this Sesshoumaru was not able to heal it entirely." Strange, he seemed to regret it. Why should it matter? They lived.

"Your mind was on other, more important things at the moment," Kagome laughed, waving it away. "Everything worked out, and that's important. But thank you for saving my face from being messed up. It was very kind, especially considering the situation," She told him, smiling brightly. Her eyes closed as she did, and she didn't notice him start, as if struck.

"You are welcome," He responded, finding his place at the base of the tree once more.

~*~
The party, for it could have been nothing else, had been amazing. Years worth of weight had been lifted from several people, including Sango and Miroku, who had announced their engagement. No one had cheered for them more than Kagome. Inu Yasha seemed to be avoiding her, Shippou and Rin danced merrily around a central fire as drums beat out a happy tune. Human and Youkai alike celebrated. Naraku had been defeated, the jewel was whole. Youkai and humans both had cause to celebrate. Everyone felt safe.

Kagome only accepted a few cups of sake, and drank those so slowly she didn't feel anything from them at all. Everyone sang and danced, and even though she was one of the guests of honor, she felt separate from it. Both species seemed to give her a wide berth, and already she could feel the gap between her and others growing.

She wandered off, intent on some time from the hazy smoke of the fire and noise. She didn't notice Inu Yasha follow, and neither of them noticed Sesshoumaru following at an even more discreet distance.

"Kagome," Inu Yasha called, his voice strange. Kagome was between two huts, their only light the full moon and the stars.

"Yes?"

"Was that really you?"

"Yeah."

He paused, as if trying to pick the right words. Kagome knew he was serious then, because the hanyou almost never thought before speaking.

"Are you still angry?"

"No. It's been two years since all that happened Yasha. Kikyo was your mate. Your mate, even if you never had the chance to go through with it. It's okay. I promise I'm not going to go crazy and purify you," She joked, but she saw the flash of fear. For the first time, the hanyou was scared of her, and it hurt.

"Friends?" She asked. He nodded, but didn't move to touch her.

"Did he really save you?"

"He did."

"Okay."

With that puzzling little acceptance, he was moving back towards the fire, and Kagome walked towards the forest, intent on some peace and quiet. She was still tired, and knew there was only more to come, if Naishin had been right. Did she really have to go in front of the council? Of youkai? What if they tried to kill her? And what about Sesshoumaru, with his ability to ground her power? What did that even mean anyway?

Plopping down unceremoniously on the grass just short of the treeline, she let herself fall back and stare at the stars. So many, so visible in this time. In her time she'd be lucky to see a quarter of them, and even then only half as bright.

"You can come out," She called, feeling the familiar aura. It had been there all day, and made no move to hide itself from her. Soundlessly he sat next to her, his eyes also to the sky.

"What did Naishin mean, that you grounded me?"

"What did you feel in the backlash of your power?" He answered. She thought for several moments, remembering how she felt like she was going to shatter in the center of the storm.

"Like I was going to be ripped apart, all the little pieces of me just got caught up, and wanted to be everywhere."

"And when this Sesshoumaru pushed through to the center?"

"You kept all of me together, centered."

"That is what he meant."

"So, was it hard?"

"For others? It would be impossible. For this Sesshoumaru? Yes, it was difficult."

She had expected him to say for others impossible, for him, a breeze. The admission caught her off guard, and she sat up, forgetting the stars and studying his profile. The moon provided adequate light, reflecting off of his skin and hair, making him seem like a star that had fallen to earth.

"Why is it supposed to be impossible?"

"You must want to save the other person. And you must be able to withstand their energy. They must have faith in you to do it. Otherwise, if one could even make it past the storm and into the eye, they would be as shattered as the one they tried to save."

Out of everything he could have said, that made the least sense of all to her.

"Why?"

"The energy-" He began.

"No, why would you try to save me instead of getting away?" She demanded.

Several minutes of uncomfortable silence passed as he stared at her, then swung his gaze back to the stars.

"You are - unique," He answered just as Kagome began to suspect she was going crazy and had imagined their conversation.

"Unique?" Not what she had expected. Powerful. An ally even. Not unique.

"This Sesshoumaru respects you."

Oh. Respect. That was only slightly less strange than unique.

"And Rin cares for you, as well as the kitsune child."

Well wasn't he being unusually forthcoming? And what did Shippou have to do with it anyway?

"Thank you. For everything. For arguing my case with the others so I could go. For saving me from my own attack. For my face." The last was almost a whisper. That made the least sense of all to her. In the middle of a raging battle, he had licked her face. She could have been burned, she knew that. Scarred, of course. But it wouldn't have impaired her abilities once she had gotten over the shock and found some way to nullify or ignore it.

"This Sesshoumaru apologizes for seeming uncouth at the time. My saliva has properties similar to my blood. I am immune to poisons. But this Sesshoumaru does regret not being able to prevent the scar."

"Hell, everyone else has battle scars. Might as well have one of my own. Maybe when I go back to my own time I won't feel crazy now that I have proof it happened," She laughed. He stiffened.

"You plan to go back to your time?"

"Yeah. At least for awhile. I don't know about forever. I don't think I'd fit in there anymore," She sighed heavily, suddenly feeling weary

"Your family?"

"They've gotten used to me being gone. I'm like a ghost that comes back every once in awhile. There again, gone again, and the world goes on without me. This one will too I guess, but there I'm just a high school dropout, no future, not even much of a past to speak of. Here, I have Shippou, and the jewel to protect. And people need my help here."

"You are very brave."

Another thing she didn't expect him to say. Wondering how far she could push this new and friendly Sesshoumaru, she leaned against his arm, staring into the sky. After he tensed, as if to spring away from her, she felt the muscles relax, accepting her closeness. How strange. Very. Very strange.

"So is the council scary?" She asked, referring to the youkai she and Sesshoumaru would both have to speak to.

"This Sesshoumaru finds it difficult to understand why you would be afraid of them after last night."

"I don't think it would be a good idea to purify the council."

"It would be in bad form, especially since this Sesshoumaru is one of said members."

"You're a council elder?" She sniggered, trying to hold the laughter in. He hardly looked elderly, even with his silver hair.

"No, I am a part of the council. The elders are different."

"How?"

"They watch all, and record it for the future, should a past crisis arise again. And they also choose to keep a true record of what has been, instead of what most know of as history."

"History is told by the victor," Kagome commented. "I wonder what they think of Naraku."

"There is not much to think. The hanyou was a devious, dishonorable being."

Sighing, Kagome let herself fully relax, shivering in the cool air of the night. Mokomoko seemed to wrap around her, and ignoring the absurdity of being wrapped in what she had always thought was a boa, but felt suspiciously like a tail, fell asleep.

~*~
The council had been easy. Naishin and Sesshoumaru both knew what happened, and the other youkai seemed to defer to Sesshoumaru. Although, upon hearing Kagome's tale, of the jewel, of her travels and finally the epicenter of the storm she had been saved from, a grudging respect became apparent. Out of deference to Sesshoumaru, she did not tell them why he had saved her, or how she felt during it, only that he had. For the council, it had been enough.

The elders were different. Naishin was among them, once again, but the only one. Briefly, she wondered if he was on the council merely to accumulate knowledge for the records of the elders. In this setting, he changed from a friendly, wise, but absentminded old youkai into a feline that pursued answers with little or no care to the people providing them.

Which was the cause of their current predicament.

"Sesshoumaru," One snapped, speaking down to the daiyoukai. "It takes a great will to even find one in such a storm. It has never been done with a power on such scale. And even then, you found a way to ground her. Why risk yourself in the storm?" The woman demanded. A shrewd intelligence shone there, one Kagome did not want to rest gaze on herself, but they were hounding Sesshoumaru, picking at him for each little detail, and this detail the most, although it hardly seemed important to her.

"It was necessary," He answered again.

"Necessary? I don't see how. You've never felt it was necessary to save one at such great cost to yourself before. And a human no less. And even with your strength, necessity could not have gotten you through that storm, much less allowed you to ground her. Now be truthful, you know the consequences otherwise."

"Just leave him alone already!" Kagome shouted, finally angry as she noticed the daiyoukai beginning to fray at the edges. Clearly he wanted to kill everyone in the room that stared down at the both of them.

"You will wait-" The old woman began.

"I will not. Sesshoumaru is an honorable person, and he did what he felt was right. Stop nagging at him, he told you it was necessary. He was probably thinking ahead, about the jewel. He's seen firsthand what it does to most people, and probably didn't want to deal with another Naraku a few years down the road," She snapped hotly at the elders. All of them stared down at her in shocked silence.

"Is that so, Sesshoumaru?" Naishin asked quietly. Kagome barely heard it, but knew the daiyoukai's hearing would easily pick it up.

Instead of answering, the pale youkai stood and turned smartly on his heels, and left, the whole room staring at his retreating form as a servant began to close the doors.

Kagome hurried after him, afraid she had done something wrong.

"Is she really that simple?" The old woman asked, her claws running through her hair.

"No, but this is a difficult situation, and forcing him to try and tell us was foolish, especially with her in the room. The pup is more stubborn than his father."

"Kami help us, but he is. And Inu no Taisho was awful. Think it'll work out?"

"If there is any justice in the world, it will."

"Hard to think a miko of that caliber can accept youkai. And that she hasn't picked up on his actions yet."

"She is still human, and we are not much wiser than they," Naishin sighed, leaning forward, elbows on his knees and head balanced on his hands, barely hearing the others conceded his point.

~*~
"Sesshoumaru, Sesshoumaru wait up!" Kagome called, trying to catch the daiyoukai that seemed to be moving faster and faster away from her. The ridiculous outfit she had been talked into wearing tripped her up and her clumsiness finally got the better of her. Gasping as she fell, she cried out, unhurt but horrified. The delicate silk of the furisode was ripped, and the damage was such that repair would be impossible.

But her gasp and tears brought the daiyoukai back to her, quicker than she could follow as he looked her over for injuries. His nostrils flared gently, as if checking her. Kagome wondered if he was trying to smell blood.

"I've ruined it, I'm so sorry," She began. He looked so angry. The kimono was on loan from his own home, and she prayed it had not been an heirloom as so many often were. His eyes were bleeding red, and she wondered how he could get so angry over a kimono.

"You are unhurt, it is fine," He snapped.

"Obviously it's not, because you look like someone just peed on your leg," She snapped right back, trying to hold back tears.

"This Sesshoumaru is not angry because of the kimono."

He was walking away again, leaving her behind, a mess on the wooden walkway that led from the building. Refusing defeat, especially after he had done so much to help her, she gathered the trailing hems up around her knees, wrinkling the already ruined silk, and took after him, grateful she had forgone putting the geta back on.

"Damn it Sesshoumaru, wait up, or so help me I'll tell everyone you're the biggest coward I've ever met!" She shouted at his back. He paused, turning to stare at her blankly, giving her just enough time to catch up.

She knew she probably looked ridiculous to the immaculate youkai. Her hair was coming undone from it's bun, the kimono was falling off of one shoulder, and she was panting from the exertion, the hems still held up over her knees.

"What's" -pant- "wrong?" She demanded, staring up at him evenly.

"Nothing."

"Apparently it's something. Did I do something wrong?" She demanded, beginning to wonder if she had, by speaking for him in front of the elders. Had she compromised his honor in some way? Would they be punished? Would he be punished?

"You did nothing wrong. Their questions-" He began, then stopped.

"I know, it's okay. Just, don't do that again, okay? I'd like to think were becoming friends, if we aren't already. Friends don't just walk away like that," She chided gently.

"You look like a harridan," he finally said, breaking the silence.

"I know."

His brow quirked, as if amused.

"Now, I know they were being persistent, actually, it was pretty annoying, but are we going to get in trouble if we just leave?"

"There is not much they could do to this Sesshoumaru."

"What about me?"

"Even less."

"But I can't purify them," She began.

"This Sesshoumaru will protect you."

Her laugh sounded like a bell chiming through the tall grass they now stood in, mixing with the wind blowing through the trees. The noise was quite pleasing to the daiyoukai. And to the elders watching with interest from the windows of the second story.

~*~
"Kami, a year!" Kagome laughed, her voice carrying over the noise of the preparations.

A year of rebuilding with Sango and Miroku and Shippou. Inu Yasha had been in evidence only every so often, but the village itself was thriving with the influx of youkai and hanyou that agreed to live peacefully with humans, and vice versa.

An unknown factor was the funding they received from Sesshoumaru, who appeared now and again to discuss the need for supplies they couldn't yet make or afford themselves. The village was, after all, on his lands. And while he was generous, all paid the tithe of labor owed to him, though it was never much. A distant lord, his visits to them were rare, but the people took time to acknowledge their lord without knowing how much he did to make their lives comfortable.

His visits to Kagome however, were not so rare, although no one would have known. Rin was always with him, a playmate for Shippou. Both found friends among others orphaned like them, from wars, human and youkai both. The children were a source of joy to all of the village, especially when Rin's cheer and Shippou's mischief joined to do something more beautiful than mischievous, like the display of fireworks made purely of his own youki after Kagome had told them stories about celebrations in her time.

"Who would have thought all of this could happen in a year?" Sango laughed, rubbing her swollen stomach happily. Several months along, Kagome knew her friend couldn't wait to give birth. Neither could Miroku. Sango's temper was more volatile than it had been on their travels together.

"Is Sesshoumaru coming?" Sango asked as they dropped baskets full of fragrant herbs to burn next to the huge fire pit.

"Yeah, Rin really wanted to be here to celebrate, and I'm not sure he can actually bow out since he's a guest of honor in all of this," Kagome giggled.

The year had been an amazing one. Her life in her own time had not been so hard to give up. Her family had even understood, although they still assumed she had come back for Inu Yasha. Not wanting to worry them, she hadn't mentioned that the hanyou, while a friend, had begun to hold back from her, creating a gap she knew would be impossible to cross.

But everything else, it had changed for the better, and it had changed her. She was able to help people, to help build the village, to teach Rin and Shippou and the orphans that came to her. She was useful. And she had friends still, despite the distance she felt from so many others. A new found confidence blossomed and joy followed easily in it's wake. It was enough.

"I don't think he's coming just because Rin wants to," Sango teased. Kagome flushed, sighing impatiently.

"Sango, your hormones must be driving you crazy, because you keep saying some of the strangest things I've ever heard!"

"Uh huh. You know, Miroku told me that Sesshoumaru couldn't have kept you together if he didn't feel for you," Sango told her, her voice gaining a more serious tone.

"And Miroku is a lecherous pervert who thinks any feelings must be lust or love. Sesshoumaru said he respects me. Isn't that enough?" Kagome snapped, finally losing patience with her friends antics.

"Whoa, hold on, sorry Kagome. I didn't mean to offend you," Sango said, holding her hands in a placating gesture. "It's just teasing."

"I know," The miko sighed. "But you've been doing it for the better part of a year now, and he's my friend, and every time I see him I remember you guys saying that, it's just weird."

"Do you like him?" Sango asked quietly, glancing sideways at her friend, knowing the answer.

"It doesn't matter. He's my friend."

"Uh huh. Kagome, remember what you told me about Miroku, you know, when we were traveling and I wanted to kiss him and hammer him into the ground at the same time?"

"What?"

"Take a chance. It might be worth it."

"Sango, he's my friend, that's all. Now come on, we've got to get dressed, it's getting close to dusk."

The taijiya gave in and went to her home to change.

~*~
She was about to join the others, dressed in her normal miko robes when a voice stopped her, clearing it's throat gently.

"Sesshoumaru, you came!" Kagome squealed, throwing herself at him in an embrace. His arms went up, letting her hug his midsection as he held a box safely in the air over her head. A year ago she wouldn't have dared this, but time and persistence had eroded his defenses. He was still quiet, cold, concise. But he accepted her gestures of affection as he did Rin's, though never making any of his own.

"It is a celebration. I thought perhaps you would wish to wear something besides those," He said, glancing at the priestess garb she had become accustomed to.

"Oh it's no problem," Kagome began.

"Others have decided to wear their best, have they not?" He gently chided.

"But I'm not-"

"You are a woman, accept it gracefully. Rin will help you." The box was in her hands, and Rin was chatting animatedly, dragging Shippou with her into Kagome's hut.

Hut might had been an understatement. As the local healer, her home was big enough to accommodate several others, and plenty of space for herself and Shippou and the oddments of her craft, as well as a strong fire. Not to mention it was the most soundly built home on the village, excepting maybe the orphans house, which Sesshoumaru had a personal hand in building.

"Kagome, hurry, the others are arriving!" Rin said, practically pulling Kagome's kimono from her as she removed it.

She gave into hurricane Rin, and Shippou even deigned to create a beautiful set of combs from seemingly nothing to keep her hair from her face. The yukata was simple, but beautiful, and in the ten minutes it took to get redressed, she felt different.

Miko garb gone, she left the hut, walking sedately behind the two children.

Drums were already beating a rhythm, and Kagome was happy to see children and adults dancing around the fire, giving thanks for their new home.

"None of this would have happened without you," Kagome said to the youkai seated beside her. He nodded once, then smiled, just the corner of his lips tilting up, but enough for Kagome to recognize he was pleased.

"Nor without you."

"I'm just a healer. You gave so much-"

"More than a healer. A light. You draw them here, let them see that life can be good," He told her. Stunned by the compliment, Kagome lapsed into silence as they watched

As the night wore on, Kagome was pulled into a dance by the orphans and her own child. Then again by Miroku and Kouga, who had come to celebrate. After whirling around the fire with her friends, many she hadn't seen in a year, she landed next to Sesshoumaru, her laugh lighthearted and breathless.

"Do you dance?" She asked.

"This Sesshoumaru does not."

"Too bad, you would be amazing at it."

"Why would you presume such?" He asked, brow quirked. She knew it was his sign of amusement.

"Because you're amazing at everything else," She laughed.

"I am," He admitted, nodding assent. Kagome was still amazed at how such a bold and arrogant statement seemed understated when he said it. Not a boast, just a fact.

Impossible male.

"I dare you to dance with me," She challenged.

"I do not dance."

"Are you scared?"

"I will not let you goad me."

"I bet you're scared."

Perhaps delight had caused her to take one step too far, because his eyes narrowed at her, his expression suddenly unreadable.

"If you don't dance with me, I'll never let you forget it." The gauntlet was thrown.

He took her hand, and the drummers seemed to stumble for a moment as they watched their lord, the daiyoukai Sesshoumaru, get pulled into the circle of dancers around the giant bonfire. Rin and Shippou joined them, all of them whirling together, although in moments the children separated, ignorant of the steps as the adults carried on, sure in their movements. Long silver hair flew into the air, sometimes tangling with the long black locks of his partner.

If anyone noticed how strange it was, they didn't show it. Everyone seemed caught up in drink and song and joy, and the daiyoukai and the miko were just as caught up, eyes bright in the light of the fire, his face intent, hers radiant. In fact, the only thing that was noted was how good a dancer the lord was, and what a beautiful pair they made.

"Told you!' Kagome gloated as they stumbled from the circle of dancers, Kagome breathless, Sesshoumaru silent, his eyes bright and seeming to glow in the fire. "Come on, it's too hot here!" She said, pulling him from the fire, from the noise and the people and the drinking and the children to the outskirts of the village, into the cool night.

"This Sesshoumaru seems to remember this happening last year," Sesshoumaru told her. Kagome laughed as she plopped onto the grass, her heart still beating heavily.

"You are an amazing dancer. Thank you. I do believe that was my best all evening."

"This Sesshoumaru is delighted to be better than a lecherous monk, an oafish wolf, and the myriad other clumsy men and children you danced with," He told her, his tone just hinting at the sarcasm his words conveyed.

"Oh come on, you're just amazing at everything. You can't hold them up to your standards," Kagome teased to him as he arranged himself beside her.

"On the contrary, I do not. I find it strange that you do," He answered.

Struck by that comment, Kagome stared at the sky. The night sky was probably one of her favorite things of this time, if not her most favorite, barring her friends. Stars seemed scattered like diamond dust, twinkling brightly around the moon.

"I don't," She finally answered. "I don't think I could ever meet anyone like you, who could do things you've done, that you do. You are," She paused. "Unique." She chuckled at her word choice.

"Unique?" He remembered telling her the same, in another youkai's lands, a year ago. And wondered why she would use that word.

"I respect you."

"Hnn."

"You're more kind than you let on. If anyone knew half of the things you'd done for this village, they'd die of shock. And you're the strongest warrior I've ever met, the most honorable being I know. And you've finally loosened up, which makes you a lot easier to be around," She joked, poking his side. "See, a year ago you probably would have cut me in half with Bakusaiga just for doing that."

"Others perhaps, not you."

"And why is that Lord Sesshoumaru?"

"Do not call this Sesshoumaru that, this is not an official function."

"Then tell me why," She laughed, poking him again.

Instead of answering, he unfolding his sitting form and lay in the tall grass beside her, arms pillowing his head as he stared at the sky.

"This Sesshoumaru respects you, and you intrigued me then. And it is nice to have a friend." The last was said reluctantly, as if forced from him.

"But we weren't friends then. And I intrigued you?"

"I felt the power beneath the surface. And despite having the power to destroy almost every living thing in your path, and dominate the rest, you chose not to, and fought those that did for peace."

Knowing he was relaxed at once by his tone and the use of first person referring to himself, she moved closer to him.

"I think you're my closest friend now. Sango and Miroku and the children, they don't care what I can do, what I guard, my power, it doesn't matter to them. But they have their lives, and the children don't understand. You do. Sometimes it feels like I'm on the other side of a ravine, staring at everyone else," She admitted.

"Power is difficult to hold, to wield."

"Sometimes I wish I didn't have it. But it's done so much good, I feel selfish for feeling that way."

"You are this Sesshoumaru's only friend," He admitted finally. "If you feel selfish for not wanting that power, should this Sesshoumaru feel selfish for being glad there is one who understands?"

She didn't know if his question was rhetorical or not, and she was afraid to answer, even though his admission stunned her to her core. She wasn't angry, not in the least. But to be called his only friend?

"It's not selfish to want a friend, and to be understood. So I guess we just got really lucky," She said with a smile, snuggling in closer to him. She felt his mokomoko moving under her, helping pillow her head and wrapping around her to keep her warm.

"What is that?" She demanded, her curiosity finally getting the better of her. "Your tail?"

For the first time in her life, she heard the daiyoukai give a derisive snort.

"It is mokomoko, a parasitic youkai, to weak to defend itself without a host. But given energy, it bonds with the host and gives it own abilities, most of which are beneficial. After a period of time, it becomes completely loyal and protects the host and obeys in all things."

"So, it's sentient?"

"In a way, yes. Not as you and I are, but yes, in it's way."

"So, it it cuddling me on it's own? I really don't want to smack it like I would Miroku, it's just too fluffy and cute."

"It knows that you are this Sesshoumaru's friend, and that you are cold."

"That doesn't answer my question."

She never got an answer, instead, he gazed into the cloudless night with her, both of them staying up, silent, watching the sunrise of a what felt like a new year.

~*~
It had been five years since the defeat of Naraku, and once again the annual festival was coming together. It was the only time of the year Kagome saw most of her old friends anymore, and many of them brought children and new family. The village had grown as well, and every year it seemed to get bigger as they celebrated new life in the wake of the destruction. For some it was fading quickly from memory, the scars healing easily as life pushed on forward, taking them with it.

Night descended, and Kagome, as she had every year, gave in to Sesshoumaru's wish for her to wear one of the yukata he provided. But this year, as Rin helped her, Shippou had waited outside politely, and Rin had seemed almost shy around the boy she had been playing with since early childhood.

"Kagome?" Rin asked, her voice serious as she watched Kagome don the yukata.

"What is it sweetie?" Kagome asked, kneeling in front of the little girl.

"I think Shippou doesn't like me anymore."

"Oh sweetie," Kagome sighed and giggled at once. "He likes you, but he's a couple of years older than you-"

"So? He didn't care before." Her lower lip quivered ominously.

"But now he's changing. And you're changing. He's just feeling shy because of those changes, but you'll both still be friends, so don't worry. Maybe soon you'll understand. It will be fine," Kagome assured, hugging the girl tightly. She hoped she was right.

Rin had been visiting more and more often, sometimes with Sesshoumaru, sometimes not, always on Ah Un. The youkai court that gathered around him did not seem to understand Rin's presence, and she used the village as an escape from the pressure. If Shippou, also a youkai, pulled back from her, even if it was just from the onset of puberty, it would seem like rejection to Rin.

"Now go get him, I need help with my hair," Kagome said, pulling back and standing again, wishing for a mirror. The closest she had was still water or hammered bronze, and one only worked in full light (not the kind of light you got in a hut) and the other was hideously expensive. When Shippou came in and the children fell back into their normal chatter as they debated on Kagome's hair, she smiled and forgot about seeing herself at all. They thought she was beautiful, and she wanted that to be enough for her.

But still, she just wanted a man to find her beautiful, and though the thought nagged at her, she managed to force it down and smile at her son and Rin.

~*~
For once, Kagome indulged in the sake brewed especially for this occasion, eyes glittering and hands clapping in time to the beat as everyone danced around the fire. She noticed that even Sesshoumaru drank with her, quiet as ever, but more intense than she remembered him being. The fire had grown, as the crowd had over the years. She had no doubt the kami themselves could see their fire in the heavens. Light filled the center of the village, now almost big enough to qualify as a town in this time's standards, and heat chased the cool spring air of the night away.

"Dance with me," She goaded, as she did every year.

"No."

"Come on friend," She begged, eyes wide in an imitation of her son's.

"Not tonight."

They bickered over it as they did every year.

"Fine, I'll just find someone else," She threatened, making her way to the circle of dancers around the fire. Usually, he let her dance with all of the friends she had missed through the year, and then villagers. But this time when someone took her arm, pulling her into a spin, it was his.

"There is no one else," He told her, his voice barely audible over the roar of the fire as he danced her around the fire, spinning and whirling with her, the heat licking their skin and the strobe effect of the flames making their vision swim. His eyes reflected the light strangely, and for the first time she noticed his pupils reflected light much like an actual dog's would.

'Like a demon,' She thought, and shivered, though fear was not the predominant emotion. Briefly, his red eyes from the battle flashed through her mind, but still fear didn't enter her mind. After all, he was her best friend, what did she have to be afraid of?

Tiring before him, as she always did, he acquiesced to being pulled from the dancers. She accepted two mugs of sake from the brewer and walked from the fire and the people. The noise was harder to escape this year, they had to move further into the fields surrounding her home, but once the crowd had become a slight buzz, she sat down, careful of her mug and giggled.

"Shippou has a crush on Rin," She informed the daiyoukai after he had sat down beside her.

"A crush?"

"You know, he likes her. Puppy lo-oh, probably not the best term," She chuckled, taking another sip of her brew.

"Probably not. But I understand. She seems to feel that way too. It's," He paused, searching for the word. "Endearing."

"It's cute. Come on, you can admit something's cute, just once. I promise, I won't tell anyone," She poked him in his ribs while prodding him verbally.

"What is this?" Sesshoumaru asked, gesturing to his mug and changing the topic. "It tastes like something my father's brewer used to make, a youkai drink."

"It is. Our brewer is a youkai, so he can make stuff strong enough for youkai. But he's also really good with normal brewing techniques, so we poor humans don't get knocked on our asses," She giggled.

"Seems nothing had to knock you," Sesshoumaru observed. Her cheeks were still bright, despite the cool air, and her eyes twinkled.

"Did you just make a joke?"

"I possess no sense of humor, remember?"

"Uh huh, yeah. Remember who you're talking to Sesshoumaru."

"I could not forget. I speak to no other this way."

"Man, five years. I mean, two didn't feel like such a big deal, or even three or four. I wonder why five feels so important."

"Time passes differently for youkai, but for humans, five is a long time."

He found her sudden silence strange, especially since he could practically hear unspoken questions buzzing in her throat, eager to escape.

"Sesshoumaru?"

"Hnn?"

"I don't think I'm aging."

He jerked violently, staring at her, eyes wide in surprise. If she hadn't been tipsy and so focused on what to say next, she would have felt a triumph at his reaction, probably the strongest she had seen since the battle.

"I haven't changed. Sango and Miroku look more mature. I still look like I'm eighteen. I haven't changed physically since the battle. The first couple of years I didn't notice, but the last couple, I've compared Sango and I. And she's really strong and active, but even she's showing signs of maturing, getting a little older. I haven't. I think it might be the jewel."

Her tone held a definite note of sadness. He watched her as she took a long gulp of her sake, and for once, at a loss of what to say, he mimicked her movement and took an even longer swig of his.

"You will be able to see your child mate and have his own children," He finally offered, hoping to find some way to console her. Knowing the importance of her child. Once, she had asked him if Shippou would outlive her and still be a child. He had explained how youkai grow and plateau in stages, and that the kitsune would plateau as a teen, a self defense mechanism enabling his own survival. Then it would be a steady trickle of growth through the centuries.

"You know, I hadn't thought of that. Thank you," Kagome answered, smiling into her drink.

They both drank in silence before Kagome sat her empty mug on the ground and leaned back. His own quickly finished, he fell back beside her, his head cradled in his arms.

"You know, it also means we can always be friends," She said as she moved closer to him. It was their ritual, one he had come to enjoy despite his initial misgivings. And her admission resolved an unknown fear he had barely acknowledged, had refused to even look at over the past five years.

She wouldn't wither and leave him.

"Perhaps I am selfish again, for being thankful."

"Maybe we just got really lucky," She parroted her words from years ago, from a similar conversation.

~*~
Kagome bounced her goddaughter on her knee and laughed and cheered as the crowd of people danced. Most people had forgotten what the festival was even about anymore. It had been ten years and now it was just a day of the year where friends and loved ones from far away came to dance and celebrate their lives.

Shippou danced Rin around the fire. Pubescent shyness had become something more, and knowing what she did of youkai and human matings, she knew that soon Shippou would ask her to be his mate. Inseparable as the loves were, Kagome wondered what Sesshoumaru would say when her son asked for permission to take his ward as wife.

"I'll take her back now," Miroku offered, holding his hands out for the little girl. Kagome gave her up graciously and was surprised by the mug of sake her best friend offered.

"Were you waiting to give me this?" She asked, eyes dancing.

"Perhaps."

She drank the potent brew, one made especially for this occasion every year, quickly, once again caught in the feel of the celebration. In the past few years, they had turned their drinks into a contest, both trying to best the other at drinking the first mug of the evening. Kagome never imbibed during the year, and she knew the demon didn't either. But this night was special, and both felt free to be normal, as other people were, instead of a daiyoukai and an ageless miko.

"I win," She announced, laughing, a throaty laugh as she stood while he sat down his own mug. "Dance with me."

"No."

"Coward."

"No woman."

"I'll find someone else," She threatened. An empty threat. She always danced earlier with the others each year, saving the peak of the celebratory dancing for him.

"There are no others," He conceded, standing and accepting her hand as she drug him into the dance.

They had both resisted all signs of aging. The only thing to mark the passing of time for them both was their hair, longer than ever before. The silver and black whirled fantastically as they lost themselves in the thrumming beat of the music around them. He kept them clear of the fire itself, but the warmth on their skin penetrated, only adding to the heat of the sake in their systems.

Kagome loved the celebration. Once a year she was free to be like anyone else, and more importantly, so did he. And even if he never voiced it, she felt the normalcy was a welcome freedom for him. Their power did set them apart, as well as their seeming agelessness. But this night, they were normal, just another youkai and ningen among a crowd.

Something seemed wilder about their movements this year. Perhaps the brewer had made the alcohol more potent, or perhaps something was different about the crowd. Kagome didn't know what it was, but she felt it, as she knew Sesshoumaru did as well.

"Come on," She urged, as she always did. But she was not winded this time, as every year past. They grabbed their customary mugs, but she stared t him, a challenge before they even left the brewer's stand, and he acknowledged it as they slammed the mugs back. In her eagerness to win, Kagome spilled some down her chin and felt it trickle down the column of her neck as she guzzled as fast as she could.

He won, and she bowed her defeat and grabbed two full mugs, one of the youkai brew and another of the one for human tolerances and laughed as they moved from the center of the festivities.

"A new tradition?" He asked as they made their way surely into the night, guided by another cloudless, perfect night.

"Doesn't seem like a bad idea. You know, it never rains, or even gets cloudy during the celebration," She remarked, giggling and warm as she looped her arm in his. He accepted it, though didn't comment. A new gesture of her affection and comfort with him, and after ten years of other such small concessions, this one went without comment.

"Perhaps your powers prevent it."

"Or maybe the kami are scared of ruining your day," She joked.

"It would be regrettable for it to rain on such an occasion. It is possible the kami allow us this day for all that was sacrificed."

"Maybe," Kagome agreed.

Each year the celebration had grown, and they had to move farther away from the village to escape the noise. Once she was satisfied with the distance, she sat, and realized her drink was half finished.

"Shippou is going to ask to mate Rin soon."

"She is too young."

"She'll always be too young. But they love each other."

"Puppy love?" He asked, quirking his brow at her.

"No, deeper. They understand one another. Both know the loss of their parents, and the pain of the battles they witnessed. It laid a stronger foundation than we thought. Although I don't know when he'll get the courage to ask you," Kagome teased.

"When he does, then I will consider him a man, and good enough for Rin," Sesshoumaru said, finishing his brew and leaning back into the tall grass.

"What about you? I thought a Lord's first duty to his lands was an heir," Kagome told him, broaching a topic she never had before.

"I am powerful, and my race long lived. It is not an urgent matter."

"But don't you get lonely?"

Several more moments of silence, and Kagome realized that the alcohol had affected her more than she thought. Despite their friendship, there were things they didn't discuss, as if by some mutual, silent agreement. Crickets made a song that blended with the distant noise from the festival, and wind blew through the nearby trees and the grass to complete a song of sorts.

"No. I have you."

The moment was too serious for her, just beyond tipsy, and she poked him in his side. When he didn't move, she did it again. Then dared something she had often wondered about.

"Are you ticklish?"

"No."

"Are you sure?"

"I am not ticklish woman."

Her hands danced along his side, trying to find a ticklish spot. When he didn't budge, she huffed and leaned up, crawling to his feet.

"What are you doing?" He demanded as she tried to remove his boot.

"Seeing if you're being honest with me," She said, poking out her tongue in a moment of childishness.

"Woman, stop this non-" He stopped when she got his boot off and her fingers danced along the bottom of one perfectly formed foot, trying to find a spot that would make him squirm. As she did, she watched his face, determined to catch any irregularity in his expression. When nothing changed, she let out an exasperated sigh and stared him down.

"Are you finished?"

She looked at his foot, suddenly noting the claws in place of normal toenails.

And the strange color on his ankle. Before he knew what she was doing, she had pushed his pant leg up and was exclaiming over the stripe that tapered to his ankle. Determined to see the rest, she pushed the leg further up and saw the wide beginning on his calf.

"So not just your face."

"You are a strange woman," He huffed, pulling his foot from her grasp.

"You knew that. Where else?"

"I don't know what you mean," He feigned, suddenly uncomfortable. He acknowledged the effect of the sake and the heat beneath his skin, and the sudden strangeness he felt as her eyes perused him, as if trying to guess what lay beneath the clothing.

He had entertained the idea of laying with her, but refrained, not wanting to destroy the one friendship he had ever had in his life. But something was changing, and her determination to see his marks felt like a pivotal point.

Could things be different without being destroyed?

"Come on, we've shared just about everything. They're just your family markings, right? Come on, please?" She wheedled, doing her best impression of Rin's puppy dog eyes.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes!' She smiled, giggling and excited to learn something new of the daiyoukai. But when he began removing his kimono, Kagome felt her cheeks grow hot. She hadn't really thought of what she was asking. Suddenly her skin felt too tight as he removed his outer kimono, then the shirt beneath it, baring his chest to her.

Knee walking in the grass to kneel next to him, she looked to his face once, as if asking permission. His face unreadable, eyes reflecting the moonlight in the strange manner only his did, she looked back down to his chest and the porcelain expanse of skin. Magenta stripes started on his shoulders and dipped down, two on each side, smoothing over the lines of muscle and ending in tapered points under his collar bones. Her finger touched one point delicately, and her finger burned from the heat of his skin as she traced it to the shoulder nearest her.

He let her trace each one gently, her touch feather light and yet burning a trail in it's wake. To reach his other shoulder, she straddled his lap, her eyes fixated on the magenta marks that proclaimed his heritage as their breathing hitched. Then one hand down his arms at the single stripe on each wrist, her fingers dancing on his pulse.

He knew his eyes would reflect the moonlight, knew his pupils were dilated and practically glowed. Knew she felt him at the apex of her thighs, painfully hard. Claws were digging into the earth, afraid to let go, wanting to touch her so badly it almost broke him.

"Are them more?" She asked, her pulse hammering. He heard it in her chest, could see the pulse point in her neck thrumming wildly at the juncture of her throat, right where he wanted to bury his nose.

Instead of answering, afraid only a growl would escape, he leaned back into the grass, his claws still in the earth, his control tenuous and slipping.

She accepted the gesture, and moved down, her body sliding over him, ripping something between a groan and a snarl from him as he twitched violently.

Knees on either side of his legs, she looked at his stomach, saw the wide points of the stripes wrapping around his hips and beginning their sloped descent. The trail of almost fur like hair from his bellybutton down began to widen as she pulled his pants down slowly, almost teasingly. The edge caught on her maleness, and the tips of the stripes ended just above where his pants had caught, two on each side sloping more deeply than those on his chest had.

Her hands still on his pants, she kissed a trail along each stripe, barely aware of his harsh breathing over the thundering of her blood in her ears. But when she began to trail kisses along the third, her tongue darted out and she felt his hands move into her hair, tangling themselves in the dark mass of silk as he moaned, hips twitching beneath her lips.

"Kagome," He rasped as she finished on the last stripe, her tongue tracing the tipped edge. His hands tightened, tugging almost painfully at her hair as his hips surged.

"You've only called me that once, when you saved me," She recalled, dazed, still too lost in the heat of his skin, her whisper fanning across his stomach, hot and moist in the cool air. Giving in to the urge to nuzzle his stomach, she reveled in his scent, amazed anything could smell like he did. Cool and wild and unearthly. Briefly she was reminded of a mountaintop.

Before she could finish drinking in the scent of him, he was sitting up, pulling her further up his lap until she could feel the length of him pressing against the juncture of her thighs, hot even through the material of her yukata.

She received no answer, didn't care as he kissed her roughly, lips demanding submission as she opened herself to him while his hands pushed her hips down, grinding her into him. Her hands fisted in the long, silver mass of his hair, moved to his back, gripping and scratching as the muscles that moved sinuously beneath the flesh. When his hands yanked her yukata apart and away from her shoulders, she gasped at the cool night air that tightened sensitive flesh almost painfully. His hips bucked up, moving against her while one hand held her wrists behind her back and the other moved over her flesh almost desperately.

"No fair," She whined, trying to free herself. He let go, his now free hand roaming over his skin as freely as the first. Claws traced paths, raising goosebumps in their wake, and Kagome felt free reign to explore every inch of his skin visible.

Despite the cool night air, both slid against one another, skin slick with sweat as mouths explored and tasted skin, clashed in hungry breathless kisses and moaned into one another.

"Sesshoumaru, please," She gasped as his fangs brushed over highly sensitized skin. They hurriedly, awkwardly shifted, pulling her yukata away as he kicked his pants off, both bared completely to the other.

And for one frightening moment, she was scared he would stop. His eyes searching hers almost desperately, the red seeping in to them, staining gold. She remembered once again how he had licked her cheek in the battle, how the red should have frightened her before, and didn't. And now, like then, she was not afraid.

"Please," She whispered. "Sesshoumaru, don't stop. Love me."

She was slick and tight and hot as he pushed into her, his hands pulling her hips down forcefully. The pained gasp was lost as he guided her movements, his strength allowing him to practically pick her up, her knees all but useless as she was assaulted with sensations.

His grip tightened almost painfully as snarls erupted from his throat, unintelligible and dark, coming from deep within him. And the sounds only heightened her arousal as she rode him, her hands becoming claws in his back as she tried to hold on to something solid, something sane.

Her own noises mixed with his, crying out his name as that strange pleasure pain when he pushed fully into her, hitting the barrier of her cervix. The fullness and friction and heat broke away at her sanity and awareness until there was nothing but him beneath her, his skin and sweat and voice and mouth and body all combining to force her somewhere higher than she had been before.

And suddenly she felt as she had in the center of her own maelstrom, skin too tight and body aching as she peaked, then shattered. His answering howl mixed with her own scream at the fell over together, flying apart in one another's arms.

When she came back, her face was buried in his hair as he licked at the juncture of her neck and shoulder, tongue hot on her pulse. Arms formed an iron band around her waist, holding her tightly to his body, his manhood still pulsing inside of her.

"Mine," He growled into her neck, pausing only long enough to say that before lapping at her skin once more.

"Mine," She replied, nuzzling into his hair. A deep, contented rumble rose from his chest, tickling her throat as they held to one another, their own heat warding off any thought of the cold.

~*~
"About time," Miroku laughed from his place near the fire.

A flash of light, not unlike one ten years prior, and a howl of complete triumph, had broken the darkness beyond the village, and only those who had been present ten years before knew their meaning.

"I was beginning to wonder if they'd ever get around to it," Sango joked.

"Around to what?" Her eldest daughter asked innocently. Those who knew laughed joyously at the question.

"They finally admitted they loved one another," Shippou tried to explain, barely able to contain his own mirth.

"Hey, you think that'll happen every time when they-?" Kouga asked, waggling his eyebrows suggestively. His mate whopped him upside his head but chuckled with him none the less.

"Let's just hope it's because of pent up emotion. I don't know if we could handle having to explain that sort of display on a nightly basis," Miroku joked, and received an equally hard thump from his own wife.

"Silly male, knowing those two, it would be daily as well," Sango corrected, then gave into the laughter that had been trying to worm it's way out.

"Maybe Sesshoumaru'll relax enough for you to ask for Rin now," Kouga told the kitsune.

"You know, I don't think either of them ever gave a clear answer about why he chanced saving her that night," Miroku mused as their laughter quieted.

"His beast," Rin piped up. "I heard Naishin pushing him for an answer a few years ago, and he finally admitted the beast told him to."

"Beast?" Miroku asked, knowledgeable about youkai but ignorant of this.

"It's our purely instinctual side. Some hear it more than others. If it told him to save Kagome, it must have been interested in her before the battle," Ayame offered with a smile.

"It explains a lot," Sango choked through her laughter.

And everyone celebrated their lives, and their friend's love, and laughed uproariously when another light, not as intense, but just as attention getting, shot up from the field not ten minutes later.

~*~
A/N:This was my first published piece of fanfiction in at least two years. I haven't edited in the repost here, mostly because this wasn me getting back into the flow, and I'm content to leave it at that. I know that they both seem out of character, but this ignores that actual cannon and Kagome's travels ended when she was eighteen, and then there's a ten year space that the rest is stretched over. It's a fluff piece, I know that. But I do hope you enjoyed it.