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Now and Forever by Reflection of a Broken Dream

Chapter 1

Now and Forever

 

Sess-Kag Week 2k18

 

Canon take-off. Sequel to Written In The Stars.

 

(Wow this is longer than I'd meant it to be! This story had a mind of its own... 0.0 I hope you all enjoy! ^,^ )


***SMUT ALERT***

There are some dirty parts below. Read at your own disgression.

 

Prompt:

Day 3 - Sudden, steal, soft, breeze

 

Dark clouds loomed overhead, the brisk breeze warning Kagome that the storm was coming. Her white and blue traditional garb whipped around her as she struggled to pick a few more herbs that hadn't been completely roasted by the harsh summer sun. "Just a little more," Kagome pleaded with the sky as she plucked a green root from beneath the soil. She had no such luck. Lightning streaked across the sky, thunder cracking right along behind it. As if it was a signal, a sudden heavy downpour began. She was drenched before she had even gotten to her feet. "Great!" Kagome groaned as she pulled her woven basket to her chest and darted under trees. They provided minor protection from the driving rain, but it was something, at least. However...she had wandered too far away from Edo to simply sprint back to the dry comfort of her hut. Vision blurred and feet slipping along slickening mud, she decided to search for shelter elsewhere. There were caves around there somewhere...she just had to find them.

 

Visibility really was terrible. She stumbled into numerous trees and thickets in her search for a safe place to crash. Twigs and leaves caught in her long tresses; limbs and thorns scratched and tore into her tender skin. And she was pretty sure she pulled something in her left ankle in one of her mud slides... Gasping for breath, ribs burning, Kagome slipped and grasped for what looked like a tree...but it was a dense thicket. She fell right through. "Shhhiii-uhhnn!" The basket went flying as she fell through...onto a hard, flat, rock. The pain registered first, a burning-stinging sensation in her limbs, her knees scraped up right along with her forearms. Kagome scrambled to get on all fours, searching out the basket and some of the fallen herbs. It was about that point that she'd found four escaped herbs that it dawned on her. She crashed onto a rough, rocky surface...ergo, she was very close to a cave. Grabbing one more herb, Kagome crawled her way back to the rocks, following the trail into the mouth of the cave. Kagome was finally given reprieve from the onslaught of water...

 

Sliding the basket farther in, she just laid out on the dry, sandy floor for a long moment, panting and trying to tune out the burning in her body from running and the stinging of her scratches and scrapes. She expanded her reiki, searching the cave for possible youkai threats or signs of life anywhere within. It was empty, thank the gods! Kagome slowly hefted herself up into a sitting position, wincing and hissing as she did. Man she was sore! And getting chilled. The weather was cooling off rapidly. While it wasn't cold by any definition, Kagome was soaked to the bone and the whipping wind did nothing to ease the coolness from her flesh. Goosebumps raised and she cursed as she began to tremble. She had to take off her sopping wet clothes. Peering outside, she could only see hints of green and brown amid the storm. Lightning lit the sky as thunder rumbled behind it, but the visibility wasn't any better. If she couldn't see out, no one could probably see in, either. She hoped. With reluctance, Kagome untied the ties of her hakama and shimmied out of them. Her left ankle hit the rocky ground and pain flooded in.

 

"Oowwww...geeeeeeez," she groaned, freeing her legs from the fabric. Parting her white kimono and nagajuban, Kagome slid her hands along her smooth left leg to her very obviously swollen ankle. "Great...that's all I needed...," She sighed. But there wasn't much she could do for it. The herbs she'd managed to pick weren't anything she could use for swelling. Untying her kimono, Kagome shed both it and the nagajuban. She used the tie, still soaked and cool, to wrap around her ankle. Maybe the coolness would help reduce the swelling before she was able to get out. Spreading her clothes out on the floor to dry, she wrung out her waist-length locks before crawling around on hands and knees in the dark- carefully keeping her ankle off the ground. She felt out the floor as she went, finding a nook in the side of the cave. It wasn't very big...maybe with enough room for two people to squeeze in. But it was out of the way of the chilling wind. Kagome shuffled in and situated herself with her back to the wall, legs drawn to her chest. The storm had only just begun...and it looked like it might rage on for a while. With another sigh, she laid her head down on top of her knees and erected a small barrier that encompassed the cave. And now...the wait...

 

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"Lord Sesshoumaru...you're soaked," Sango greeted the daiyoukai at the door of her hut and ushered him in, handing him a length of cloth to dry off with all the while. He inclined his head in thanks.

 

"Where is the miko?" He asked instead of greeting them, merely holding the cloth in hand as the water-logged Inu stood near to the door. He was entirely uncomfortable being as wet as he was, dressed. The clothes stuck to his skin right along with his silver strands of hair. But he did nothing to convey his discomfort. Sango and Miroku's very much dry kids were playing cheerily by the fire.

 

"She went out hours ago to gather herbs...," Sango informed with a worried nibble to her lip. "The storm started in, and there's been no trace of her..."

 

"How long has it been since the storm began?" His eyes narrowed perceptibly. 

 

"A couple of hours, maybe...Miroku went out to see if he could find her," Sango replied, her every pore dripping with worry. And she was right to be. Any human in this weather would not be well-off...not to mention the possibility of illness or incident of either the youkai sort or that of nature. Sesshoumaru was not happy. "We hoped maybe she had found-!" She was interrupted by a huff and a gasp as Miroku staggered in and fell to his knees as he panted softly. "Miroku!" Sango was at his side in the blink of an eye, hand on his shoulder. Sesshoumaru blinked at the monk. The rain was so droning that he hadn't even heard the ningen coming... All of his senses were dulled by that damned water falling from the heavens. This was exactly why he hated rain...

 

"I'm...alright," Miroku panted, water quickly pooling around him as he looked up at Sango with a tired but loving smile.

 

"You didn't find the miko," Sesshoumaru spoke with his usual stoic mask, only his tone betraying his disappointment.

 

"It's not...that I didn't...," Miroku shook his head, gazing up at the daiyoukai as his amber eyes narrowed just a bit more. Miroku's black hair clung to his face, water droplets streaming down like tears. His face was etched with regret. "I couldn't...reach her. She was too far out...and with the weather as it is...the paths are hazardous. Too much for humans...I know my limitations... But, she's holed up in the North-West somewhere... There's some small mountains there, and I hope...she found shelter in them... I followed the feel of her reiki for a while- that's how I found...out which direction she went. Kagome is staying stationary somewhere in that general direction...and that is all I can say for certain."

 

"...You did well," Sesshoumaru praised, dropping the cloth Sango had given him onto the drenched monk. Miroku looked up at him in wide-eyed shock. Sesshoumaru wasn't one to give compliments very often. Only when they were well-deserved. And this was one of the rare few times. Because the monk had useful information to go on. If Sesshoumaru had been searching for Kagome in this weather with his youki and she wasn't using her reiki...it was similar to trying to find a star behind dense clouds. Murky at best with unfavorable results. But she was using her reiki...so her light would penetrate said metaphorical clouds. He could find her. The terrain was a bother, but it wasn't as much of a problem for him as it was for humans. Without a word, Sesshoumaru turned and began walking out of the hut.

 

"W-wait!" Sango called after him. Sesshoumaru paused. "Where are you going?!"

 

"To retrieve the miko," he replied simply. Before more could be said or asked, Sesshoumaru was speeding out of the hut and into the downpour. Instead of using his other senses...which were completely useless to him at the moment, he opened up his youki and spread it out as he started North-West. At first he couldn't feel her reiki. And he was partially distracted by the rain. Going at his normal speed- which far exceeded Inuyasha's- in the driving rain and harsh winds gave him wind burn. Nasty red splotches that burned and stung his flesh enough to make his fingers curl. It would be gone within moments of stopping somewhere, but it was an unneeded annoyance nonetheless. It almost kept him from recognizing the weak pulse of Kagome's reiki. He did stop then, after about half an hour of relentless searching. The rain was an annoyance in so many ways...but he closed his eyes and focused passed the cold water to the weakening reiki. His youki poured out like a tidal wave, searching out what should have been a conflicting energy, and it washed over the reiki...an aura so pure and refreshing that it could only be the miko's. Her power was ebbing away...she was weakening. Was she being attacked? Was she wounded? Knocked unconscious? In some sort of predicament? He couldn't tell. The only thing he knew for sure, besides her far-off location, was that there were no youkai within several meters of her. Strange, but he wasn't complaining. His golden eyes opened, flaming with ambition and purpose. "I am coming....Kagome." With an urgency he felt down deep in his bones, Sesshoumaru began sprinting in her direction.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Kagome started as her head touched the rock of the wall beside her. Bleary blues blinked sluggishly as she struggled to stay awake. "If I fall asleep...the barrier will weaken...," she mumbled to herself. "Can't...can't have that..." Despite her self-motivating words, she was still dipping in and out of reality....and in and out of that sweet, peaceful, dark place she really wanted to be. "Mmmppphhh..." She groaned irritatedly at her own lack of will to stay awake and aware. Leaning against the rock more fully, Kagome's eyes drifted shut once more. Her consciousness was waning...when she felt it. A ripple across her senses, a disorienting feeling that wasn't bad...just odd. Almost tingly. She shifted with a soft moan, a familiar voice echoing in her mind. But...whose was it...? What did they want..? She was too tired...

 

"...gome......Kagome....? Awaken!" A male voice commanded, the feeling of something warm encompassing her face and shoulders...and something cold and wet sliding over and sticking to the skin of her back. She shivered, awareness immediately coming back as she opened her eyes, goosebumps breaking out all across her flesh.

 

"Nnggghhhh," Kagome groaned as she came to, bleary eyes blinking as she curled into whatever it was that was nice and warm...although slightly slick. Darkness was the first sight that greeted her, and warm air on her face. Blinking a few times, Kagome upturned drowsy blues to the source of the air. She was met with glowing gold. Eyes. She startled, pushing away from...whatever had ahold of her. Her hands met resistance against soft on hard. Whatever it was wasn't budging, and she was tight in its grasp.

"Miko," the familiar voice gave her pause. It took a moment for her mind to catch up.

 

"S-Sess-shoumaru?" Kagome asked softly, blinking up at the gold warily.

 

"Indeed," he rumbled, chest vibrating against her. "You were caught in the storm?" His voice was questioning, and, again, it took Kagome's mind a moment to start whirring again. She idly noted the sound of wind whistling in the background...the storm was still very much alive and kicking.

 

"Mmm...yeah," she replied softly, her muscles relaxing. He pulled her closer to him, Kagome shivering and curling into his warmth. "I was too far away from Edo...so I looked for a cave to tuck into until the storm passed..."

 

"But you aren't without injury," he spoke pointedly, the very small hint of worry in his tone making her lips lift into a lazy smile.

 

"Low branches and thickets," Kagome replied simply, as though that answered everything. "And I slipped...and hurt my ankle." As she slowly began to awaken, a startling thought came to mind. "Wait...can you see in the dark?" She peered up at the daunting glowing eyes to find them staring back at her.

 

"Fairly well, yes," he revealed...and she had the distinct feeling that he was raising an eyebrow at her. Well...that set her cheeks aflame. She was next to naked...curled up in his arms. Againsthim. Kagome curled into herself a little more, an arm rising to rest against her bound chest. She was hoping to block his view a little, her hand resting against his chest...but that's when she noticed...

 

"...Where's your kimono and nagajuban?"

 

"They were drenched in the rain. I had to remove them," Sesshoumaru answered bluntly.

 

"Oh," came Kagome's smart response as she tried desperately- and horribly failed- not to think about her nearly nude body being against his. Her cheeks burned a dark crimson as she looked away, refusing to look him in the eyes now. The heat of his skin against hers was more noticible to her now, Kagome acutely aware of each and every place their bodies touched- along her side and where his arms wound. "Uh...should we, er, seperate a little bit?"

 

"Your body temperature has dropped below what it should be- that course of action would be unwise," Sesshoumaru informed in a matter-of-fact tone. Right. He probably didn't even view her body as attractive or anything. He was just doing what he felt necessary to keep her alive and well. Still...it stung her womanly pride a bit.

 

"Alright," Kagome started and stopped, clearing her voice. She was searching for something, anything to talk about to ease the awkwardness that she now felt... After a few long minutes, it came to her. It wasn't easy to broach, considering the way he'd left her when they'd had the conversation, but she was curious... "Hey...you remember when you visited last- a month ago? You...you said...you had truths to share...that I had to respond to. Erm...since we're, ah, well out of earshot...I'm all ears?" Peering up at contiplative gold with a rosy blush still on her cheeks, she anxiously awaited his response. Which came after a surprisingly hesitant pause.

 

"I do not think now is a good time," Sesshoumaru finally responded, his voice dark and husky with a guttural growl that reverberated in his chest. The look he pinned her with was burning with an emotion she couldn't quite place, but it (and his voice) made her heart skip a beat and heated her cheeks back up along with her nether regions. She squeezed her thighs together and licked her lips nervously. His eyes strayed downwards a brief moment before meeting her azures head-on again.

 

"Why not?" Kagome asked, her question coming out smaller and breathier than she'd meant it to. It hardly even sounded like her voice to her...

 

"...Because it is not."

 

"But...," Kagome paused, pouting lightly. She was highly dissappointed by his answer. She'd waited excitedly all this time...it was disheartening. "Just...can I at least have...one solid reason why not?" Something shot through his eyes that made her regret asking, his cold mask going back up.

 

"One solid reason," Sesshoumaru responded, voice clipped and almost a snarl. He began to shift, the unsteadiness making Kagome throw her arms around his neck. She was half-afraid he would drop her back on the ground just to make a point. But he didn't. And he didn't rise with her, either. Instead, he tugged her down until she was resting side-saddle on what she could only guess was his lap. His bare lap. His hand gripped Kagome's hip and slid her towards his warm body, something hard jabbing her in her the side of her soft belly and...pulsing? Was that...his... Her face flushed dark, and she moved to look away, but Sesshoumaru's free hand angled her face so she could not look away. His forefinger and thumb were like clamps on either side of her jaw; and his eyes seared into her, the edges tingeing red. "Because this is not how this conversation was meant to begin. ...Not like this." The last sentence was punctuated with a self-depriciating tone with the slightest hint of shame.

 

"S-Sesshoumaru...," Kagome spoke in a gentle voice, her hand moving to rest against the arm holding her face in place. She relaxed her neck and leaned into his touch. A flicker of something softer flashed through his eyes before it was gone...but it definitely had been there. "It's okay." Her right hand moved to lay flat against his rumbling chest as she nestled into his loosening hand, her neck unknowingly bared to the calming daiyoukai. The red drew back and only stayed at the very edges of his eyes. Uncharacteristically, he sighed. Sesshoumaru's fingers gently massaged Kagome's cheeks, and she gave a hum of pleasure as her eyes shut in sheer bliss. The atmosphere loosened and became more serene for a brief few minutes.

 

"You can feel my desire," Sesshoumaru finally spoke, his voice a husky timbre again. Kagome's cheeks warmed as she opened her eyes a bit lazily and nodded shyly. It was still sinking in that he felt a bit of lust towards her at the moment. She was ashamed to say that knowing it stoked the fires of her own body a little hotter. His golden orbs were unreadable, but there were emotions running high behind the mask and cogs clearly grinding. "But how this Sesshoumaru...feels for this miko goes beyond simple lust." Azure eyes widened as the shock of what he was saying set in. Her breath hitched in her throat. The pad of his thumb traced her cheekbone up to just under her eye and back repeatedly, and he maintained eye contact. "Desire this strong is merely a byproduct of everything past that has built up to this. ...It began when first we met."

 

The images recalled to her mind along with their little rendezvous the month before. "You stood your ground before me- something very few have ever done with such conviction, Inuyasha aside. There was a grudging respect for both your actions and your latent power. And your words almost always struck a chord." He brushed a strand of drying hair from Kagome's face. "As time passed, I was able to carefully observe you...and through my observations, I was able to see you as you truly are." Kagome felt the edges of her eyes burning. "A woman of integrity and loyalty that knows no bounds. You suffered for the sake of your friends and strangers you came to know...and even through Inuyasha. For him...because of him." Kagome's eyes squeezed shut and the tears seeped down her cheeks. He was quick to wipe them away, a soft rumbling emitting from his chest. "You showed signs of a higher understanding...and the gift of a divine forgiveness likely seen but once a millennia... And I have highly enjoyed our conversations in the past year. You are decent at arguing." At that, Kagome laughed softly, her teary azures full of warmth opening and upturning to Sesshoumaru's again. There was a certain fondness to them that drew her in. "This miko has taught this Sesshoumaru many things over the last few years...compassion...forgiveness...peace...the value of life...love." Kagome's eyes widened again as her already warm cheeks flamed. She swallowed hard and her eyes burned a little bit more. "Although what this Sesshoumaru feels for you, Kagome, cannot simply be left at the word 'love'...words alone arenot sufficient...but I cannot court you in the manner in which demons pursue their mates. I wanted to court you properly, as humans court...if you would have me...but everything I have seen and heard is insufficient." Kagome could hear the frown in his voice at the end, and laughter bubbled up from her chest. He had laid his feelings bare to her...and he had even worried over how best to court her. She couldn't help it. It was so unexpected and downright adorable! "I do not see how this is a laughing matter." Tears streamed down her face as she heard the indignance in his voice.

 

"N-No, no! I-I'm happy," Kagome shook her head, her hands wiping at her face as she beamed up at him. "I-I just...sometimes humans h-have a hard time processing s-so many emotions at once...and, and the wrong reaction comes out..." They had gone over that fact a time or two already... She wiped her tears as the last bubbly giggles made their way out of her throat. She felt his hand, that had briefly stiffened, begin to gently wipe her face and eyes again. "And I find it-" she paused, searching for a word that wouldn't dent his male pride,"- endearing that you would go to such lengths to try and court me." It probably explained his hasty leave the month prior, and his slightly late return.

 

"You are worth the effort," he responded earnestly, making more tears burn her eyes. Her breaths trembled as she leaned into his hand, her hands finding his arm and keeping close. Hugging it, more or less. He had no idea how much that meant to her... "...you have not answered me."

 

"Hm? What do you mean?" Kagome asked softly as she peered up into uncertain gold.

 

"May I court you?" He asked directly.

 

"Yes," came Kagome's unhesitant answer. Joy was pouring from her every pore. His molten golden orbs softened.

 

"How do humans court?"

 

"Well...," Kagome actually had to stop and think about it. "There's actually a big difference in courting in this era as opposed to the future... Here, it's supervised meetings between the intended...but their parents ultimately decide if they marry or not. Mate, in demon terms." His eyes bobbed up and down in the dark, letting her know he was listening and understood. "In the future, we go out on what we call 'dates'. Basically, it's meeting at places we both enjoy to get to know one another more. And, while parents have some sway in the say of a marriage, the couple has the final say in whether or not they get married." There was a long pause, something definitely ticking and swirling around in Sesshoumaru's golden eyes.

 

"Meetings to better know one another," Sesshoumaru repeated. "We have been doing this for the past year. By what you have said, we have already been courting." At that, Kagome blinked her wide doe eyes up Sesshoumaru, her cheeks burning hot.

 

"...I-I never realized...," Kagome started and stopped, flustered. "But...you're kinda right..." A flicker of amusement glimmered in his orbs, a spark of the heat from before returning.

 

"What, then, comes after becoming more acquainted?"

 

"Well...uh...it depends on the couple, I guess?" Kagome stumbled over her words. "I mean...some of them are comfortable with doing more...intimate things...or going on and getting married,...or living together, or whatever if it all works out between them." His face drew nearer- she could feel his hot breath tingling on her lips as his heat-filled eyes got bigger.

 

"Permission to begin intimacy," Sesshoumaru rumbled out, his nose sliding against hers and his lips so close they ghosted against hers. Kagome's lips parted, unbidden, her breaths uneven. She was shocked by how much she wanted this...him. He valued her as a person. A unique individual that was completely herself. And he...he actually loved her. And she...had some surprisingly strong feelings for him rising to the surface. It wasn't like when she'd been with Inuyasha...it was stronger. Firmer. More concrete. Feasible. She was wasn't quite sure when this had happened...but her joy was overwhelming.

 

"Granted," Kagome breathed out as she launched her lips into his, eyes sliding shut. She was eager and passionate, but inexperienced- she learned that quickly; Sesshoumaru's hand went to the back of her neck, angling her head as he dominated the lip lock, stealing her breath away. And then he was teaching her...and trying her. Before long, Kagome was the one dominating the kiss with more confidence than before. He lead her into intimacy after intimacy, all the while asking her permission before trying anything. They each learned every inch of the other's body by touch alone. After a time, they were bare, hot, slick, and wanting- bodies entangled and revelling in any friction created. His youki mixed with her reiki, the two sparking and creating a force that was feared for several meters around. She faced him in his lap, knees on either side of his hips.

 

"Kagome....," Sesshoumaru's voice was strained as he spoke her name, his lips leading a hot, wet trail of kisses back up to her lips before pulling away just a little. They were both panting, eyes locking once more.

 

"Yes?" She breathed out, barely resisting the urge to press her swollen lips to his again. She restrained herself because there was a serious gleam to his reddened eyes.

 

"More than anything...I want...," he shut his eyes and Kagome could hear him swallow. "But it is your decision, as well." He opened his glowing eyes again, gaze intense. "If we finish this...if we become one, I will not be able to stop myself from finishing the mating rites and binding our souls. This is permanent. Eternal. But know that this Sesshoumaru will marry you as per human customs, and you will be my Mate. My equal in the West, and the future mother of the heirs of the West. That said, I will not force this on you. It is...a heavy decision to make that, no doubt, requires thought. I will not fault you if you say no. There are other ways to achieve an end."

 

Kagome nodded, floored by his sudden honest forthcoming. She sat back in his lap, and his hands loosened around her to allow it, so she could think. Every past encounter with Sesshoumaru before the Shikon was finished flashed in her mind, one after the other. Every meeting there was something different...a growth, a realization, a maturation, wise words or actions... Inuyasha was there in most, but he was in the background. Sesshoumaru was her forethought. The one she was fully focused on. And then came the memories of after...and how, in his own way, he helped her rebuild herself after the end with Inuyasha. He was always there, caring...his eyes solely on her. With every conversation, she got to know him more and more...and was so comfortable around him. Her feelings bloomed, but she didn't even see. So blinded by the past... And he waited for her. All this time. Patiently. Not saying a word of his own desires, even though it had probably hurt...not that he'd ever admit it. And then a new image burst forth. A future with Sesshoumaru...a silver-haired, dog-eared toddler in Kagome's arms and an older dark-haired, elfin-eared boy practicing sword swings with Sesshoumaru's instruction. A private meal with the oldest male child trying to look dignified...whilest a bit of his food had slipped from his utensil, his younger silver-haired sister giggling at him while an even younger sibling with black hair was attempting to sneak food from the eldest child's plate from the side. Kagome and Sesshoumaru are both amused. The next image flashes, Kagome tucking in the kids with a warm, motherly smile. Sesshoumaru comes in and bids them goodnight, as well, giving each a pet on the head with the makings of a smile curling at his lips. The whole feel was warm and happy...it was a future Kagome could look forward to with excitement instead of the chaotic aimlessness she'd had for the past year. She wasn't sure when she had closed her eyes and folded her hands against her steadily-beating heart, but Kagome's azure eyes fluttered open and she broke out into a wide smile as her hands moved to cup the startled inu's face.

 

"I want to be your Mate," Kagome spoke in a hushed voice as she carefully moved close enough to touch her forehead to his, their noses brushing against one another again.

 

"...You are sure about this, Kagome? You are not rushing for my sake?" He asked with cautious optimism and a dubious tone at the last. Gods she loved the way her name rolled off of his lips...

 

"I'm sure," Kagome chuckled, moving one hand to his chest, over his erratically beating heart. Her eyes carefully caught his in a meaningful gaze. Her other hand moved one of his hands to cover her own thumping heart. "I was so blind to the past and stuck in it I didn't realize I'd stopped carving out my own path. I stopped looking around...but you were there. You were there this whole time...and even some before. I'm rewriting my story because this is what I want. Because...thinking of a future with you is filled with happiness and hope...and love. From my heart to yours, I promise to love you with everything that I am and to be the best Mate that I can be." Sesshoumaru's eyes showed that he was completely taken aback, seemingly even in shock for a long moment, but soon they reflected a tender gaze filled to the brim with warmth.

 

"I am glad," his words were filled with such emotion it brought tears to Kagome's eyes. "From my heart to yours, this Sesshoumaru promises to love you with everything that I am, to protect you always, and to be the best Mate I can be...now and forever."

 

"Now and forever," Kagome managed to mumble out before his lips claimed hers once more in a heated, lingering kiss. When they broke away, she kept him from continuing. "Can I ask one thing of you before we..."

 

"Anything," his response came immediately.

 

"I want at least three kids," Kagome blurted out, then stopped abashedly. Her face flamed again. And the sound of Sesshoumaru chuckling, his eyes filled with mirth, gave her pause. She flushed a shade darker as she peered at him...but she decidedly liked the sound.

 

"That, I believe we can manage in due time," he replied, his voice a seductive purr. "Is there a specific reason for this? Or is this a race against the monk and taijiya?" Kagome scowled at the last question, eliciting another adoring chuckle that eased her scowl away.

 

"I just...had this picture in my mind," Kagome admitted. "I know it won't be exactly like it...but...there was an elder boy you were teaching swordsmanship...a little girl...and a younger boy. Maybe a little older than a toddler. Different little pictures came to mind...different times, everyday life. And we were all happy together." She gave a warm and sheepish little smile.

 

"And we will be," Sesshoumaru rumbled, molten golden orbs alight. "But we must get there first, koichi." He rubbed his nose against hers affectionately as her heart thudded hard in her chest. Koichi. Beloved. He called her his beloved! With excitement, hope for a bright future, and much love, Sesshoumaru helped Kagome mount him from their nook in the cavern. His back blocked most of the wind, but soon neither of them noticed. They were burning bodies entwined in the oldest known dance, azure locked in crimson as the rude sound of bodies slapping together and the sounds of moans, groans, grunts, and growls filled the cave. Their experience was enhanced by the flirting battle of reiki and youki that eventually collided together into a force half of Japan could feel in the moment of their joining. Kagome's scream carried in the storm's winds, frightening the locals of both the human sort and the youkai sort. Those seeking cover gave the area a very wide berth. They continued on into the night, right along with the storm...very few were able to sleep that night.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Epilogue

 

"Welcome back," Miroku grinned as he met them at the entrance to Edo. "I take it you both had a pleasant night?" His tone was just a little too cheerful for a man with bags under his eyes, his brow wiggling in lewd suggestion.

 

"Thanks, Miroku. Shut up, Miroku," Kagome groused, face red from her perch in Sesshoumaru's arms. She had on his outer kimono because her garb hadn't dried as quickly as his had. It had to do with some difference in the way humans and demons make clothing... Either way, Kagome was rather comfortable where she was, what with her injured ankle and some soreness between her legs...and she knew Sesshoumaru wasn't going to be letting her go anytime soon. Not that she minded that, either. Sesshoumaru side-stepped the cheeky monk.

 

"I could feel you guys going at it from here," he teased softly. Scowling, Kagome found a hard root from the basket of herbs in her lap, and chunked it at his head when they passed. She could feel the rumble of amusement Sesshoumaru fought to keep in. It made a proud little smile cross her face. "Ow! That was completely unwarranted, Lady Kagome!"

 

"It was completely warranted. But I threw that specific root at you for a reason- it's for pain. I knew you'd need it," Kagome shot back at him as Sesshoumaru steadily moved away.

 

"Well-played, milady," Miroku admitted as Kagome nestled cheerfully into her Mate. Sesshoumaru made a purr-like sound in his chest, his mokomoko-sama curling into her lap. She pet his tail on the way through. They would come across Sango and Miroku's hut before they got to the village miko's hut...which mostly belonged to Rin now. Kagome just pitched in when Rin wasn't sure about what she was doing...which wasn't very often anymore. Her own hut wasn't far from the miko's hut.

 

"Kagome!" Sango came at them at a run from her hut after cautioning the older two children to stay, the two youngest tightly held in her arms. For her, Sesshoumaru stopped. "S-Sesshoumaru! Are the two of you alright?" She came to a steady stop before them, her eyes roving over them both. The little girl- Sanyu- in Sango's arms was a little older, and she peered at them curiously while the one-year-old boy- Masaru- just gurgled happily.

 

"We're fine," Kagome started, but a little interrupting growl from Sesshoumaru had her looking up at him. He was levelling her with an almost stern look. "Okay, I'm not as alright as he is." Kagome pointed up at Sesshoumaru as she looked back at a worried Sango. "But my swollen ankle is the worst of it." The Taijiya didn't miss the new familiarity of their interactions. Kagome lifted said ankle in show- it wasn't as bad as it had been the night before.

 

"I am glad that it isn't serious," Sango nodded in approval as she gave it a once-over with her dark eyes. "But..." She shifted Sanyu on her hip and Masaru in her arm. "Miroku...said something odd last night...but I would rather hear it from you, directly. Are the two of you-"

 

"You Bastard!" Inuyasha broke in, skidding to a halt on the other side of Sesshoumaru. He turned to face the angry hanyou, Kagome sighing and holding her head in hand. This was not going to be pretty... On the upside, he made it through the night of no moon. "What the hell have you done to Kagome?!" Kagome's eyes flashed and a rumbling growl came from her mate.

 

"Nothing she did not consent to," Sesshoumaru's response only fueled Inuyasha's fury, the inu hanyou baring his teeth.

 

"And why would she ever be with you?" Inuyasha snipped back. Kagome could feel Sesshoumaru's agitation building. "It's bullshit! I bet you found her and forced yourself on her in that storm. There wasn't any other place to get to, so she went with it! Sacrificed herself like she always does- for everyone else's sake. You arrogant, selfish- OW!" Kagome pegged him right between the eyes.

 

"I'm right here," Kagome grit out, azure eyes ablaze at the bewildered hanyou. "Don't talk about me or my decisions like I'm not here or as though they weren't my own." Inuyasha's ears folded down as he stared at her in shock. "I chose Sesshoumaru. He gave me every opportunity not to, asked before every little thing...because he gives a damn!" At that, Inuyasha's ears disappeared into his white-silver hair. "But I don't owe you any explanations as to why I chose Sesshoumaru, and you don't get to act jealous now. We were done ages ago, Inuyasha, so just let me go and let me be happy with the one I love. I want you to find someone you can love and be happy with, so, please, give me that same respect." At some point Miroku had caught up, pushing Sango and the kids back towards the hut a bit as they watched on. A few bystanders were watching warily, and even Rin had realized they were there, the young miko watching on cautiously. Kohaku wasn't far from her side. Inuyasha's mouth opened and closed a few times, a deep frown etched into his face.

 

"Fine...," he relented reluctantly. "But...I just want to be sure...you didn't do this because...." He trailed off, his forefinger pointing from himself to Sesshoumaru. Kagome realized what he was saying, and her anger blazed like a wildfire. Sesshoumaru didn't appreciate it either, if the deep growl was anything to go by.

 

"I can't believe you...," Kagome snarled. "I didn't choose him because he looks like you. News flash- you're nothing alike! Your builds are completely different, your faces are completely different, your hair is completely different, and your personalities are completely different! I would never mistake him for you or the other way around, and I certainly wouldn't compare him to you, either. Because I'm not like you!" At some point...and Kagome wasn't sure when, tears welled and began to pour down her face. Sesshoumaru's rumbling growl seemed to be torn between comfort and rage.

 

"I believe you have done and said quite enough, Inuyasha," Sesshoumaru spoke in a dark, rumbling tone that had the hanyou's ears ducking back into his hair.

 

"I just...," Inuyasha started, his voice thick as he gazed from Sesshoumaru to Kagome. There was still a kindling of anger in his eyes, but it had diminished greatly. "This is really what you want?"

 

"Yes," Kagome shuddered out, wiping at her eyes in frustration. "With all of my heart." Inuyasha slowly dipped his head in acknowledgement, turning his gaze to his very pissed-looking elder half-brother.

 

"Don't hurt her, or I'll hurt you," Inuyasha threatened somewhat weakly, Sesshoumaru raising a brow at the hanyou.

 

"If I ever did, it would be deserved," Sesshoumaru's answer stunned Inuyasha.

 

"...Right," the hanyou slowly answered, looking around with a light blush beginning to burn on his cheeks. "Well...I'll go get firewood..." It was his excuse to take his frustrations out on trees...but the village stayed stocked with firewood, so no one was complaining. He darted off into the woods without another word. Kagome bit back a sob as she finished wiping at her eyes.

 

"I think it just caught him off guard," she spoke softly, the village breathing a sigh of relief. "But he still knows how to get under my skin..." Sesshoumaru cradled Kagome closer, his chest vibrating in a soft growl meant to soothe as he laid his chin atop her head. "I don't know what I was expecting...I should have known that would be his reaction."

 

"Give him time...he will eventually come around," Sesshoumaru comforted, his tail giving her a little squeeze. Kagome smiled and ran her hand over his fur, eliciting another purr-like growl from him.

 

"Well...that was exciting," Miroku commented with a heavy sigh as he rubbed the back of his head. "But I am glad it did not escalate any farther than it did."

 

"You and me both," Kagome nodded in agreement, weary now after all of the happenings.

 

"Ka-go-me!" Rin approached, her voice sing-song as she grinned widely up at them. "I always knew you'd be my mother." At that, Kagome's cheeks flared red and Sesshoumaru's eyebrow rose high at the woman-child before them.

 

"Wh-what are you talking about, Rin?"

 

"You always helped take care of me," the young miko grinned. "Even before our groups came together to band against Naraku. And you've continued taking care of me and trained me where Kaede left off after she passed and when you returned. And...you and Lord Sesshoumaru have always sort of interacted in a more mature way...like parents. I'll always see Lord Sesshoumaru as my father...and now you're finally officially my mother. I am so happy! I know that you both will be very happy together, too!" The raven-haired miko managed to envelop them both in a hug. Sesshoumaru managed to free a hand and pet the girl's head while Kagome managed a half-hug from her position in Sesshoumaru's arms. Both felt a maternal love for the girl, but Kagome was still a little flustered by the time she pulled away. "I can't wait until Shippou returns in the fall...he will be excited, too!"

 

"So...the two of you really are Mates now?" Sango chimed in, wanting to confirm the news for definite. Rin was nodding excitedly.

 

"Yeah," Kagome beamed bashfully, positively glowing. Sango peered between them, her eyes resting on the daiyoukai.

 

"Be good to her or you'll regret it- I'll make you regret it," Sango warned, chest puffed out like the proud slayer she was.

 

"S-Sango," Kagome protested.

 

"I will treat her well," Sesshoumaru promised in a warm tone, Kagome looking up at him as he peered down at her. His golden eyes softened as Kagome smiled up at him embarrassedly. His lips descended on her forehead, leaving a chaste kiss that had Kagome turning crimson. He turned a lazy gaze back to the startled and embarrassed taijiya. "If I do not, please, by all means, show me the error of my ways."

 

"R-Right," she managed to get out, her husband chuckling and stepping forward.

 

"Tonight we feast in celebration!" Miroku announced, waving to Rin and Kohaku. The boy had been standing back and watching the turn of events with awe. "Spread the word." The two set off, Rin cheerfully and Kohaku dutifully. "Will there be a wedding in the future?"

 

"Yes," Sesshoumaru answered before Kagome could. "We will need to prepare for it....what all does a human wedding entail?"

 

Miroku and Sango welcomed the two into their hut and the wedding plans began to take shape. Excitement buzzed in the air all day. Kagome even attempted to bring Sesshoumaru through the well with her to meet her family. For whatever reason, he couldn't go through...so she went for an hour or two and got her grandpa's much-desired approval for the daiyoukai. He wrote a letter with the Higurashi seal and everything. Her mom and brother also wrote letters, to which Sesshoumaru enjoyed and promised to reply. He had hunted in the time Kagome had been gone, providing the meat for the celebration. By the end of the day, everyone was in good spirits and enjoying the feast...even Inuyasha. In the flickering light of the fire, standing beneath the twinkling stars above, Kagome and Sesshoumaru's first day together came to a close. It was but the first step towards a bright and happy future together. Locking eyes, hands sliding together, they knew they wouldn't have had it any other way. From now into forever, they wrote their own fates into the stars.

 

~~ End ~~

 

INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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