Disclaimer: I haven't owned for the past twenty-five chapters, don't own this either.

The Beginning

"In other news, it's been a week since the police were notified of the disturbance that wrought an upheaval that extended to all of Japan's coasts. What started out as a routine homicide investigation when the incinerated remains of Yamamoto Naraku were found on the grounds of his compound gave rise to a situation much more complicated. Although the only solid leads to the perpetrator are strands of white hair, faint traces of miko energy, and a blood stained strip of clothing, investigators have found a number of motives from questionable and illegal activities upon searching the premise.

Not only did the police find evidence of extortion, racketeering, the siphoning of funds from charities, and income tax evasion, but countless material witnesses have surfaced who can attest to a number of felonies and covered up homicides that up until now have remained mysteries. One of the more serious offenses involves stolen prototypes from the recently merged Higurashi-Takeda Corp. where one of Yamamoto's employees, who chose to remain anonymous, was framed in an effort to topple the corporate empire. Officials are administering the redistribution of the stolen products back to their company, in addition to the products of several other businesses who were also victims of fraud.

Investigators are in the process of considering an offer in the form of a substantial amount of money to those responsible for the termination of Yamamoto. If you have any knowledge as to the whereabouts of the persons responsible, please contact your local police department. We recently interviewed Takeda Inutaisho for his thoughts on-"

"Damn it Megumi," Inutaisho glowered at his mate's back as she switched off the large, flat-screen television hanging on the wall of the empty conference room, "they were getting to the best part."

She didn't answer, her stiff back remaining to his face, her shoulders hunching forward with an invisible burden. All joviality and attempts at normalcy leaving with a sigh, the taiyoukai rose from the recliner and went to the small woman. "Megumi," Inutaisho spoke softly into her ear and wrapped strong arms around her tiny waist, "stop worrying. Everything will turn out for the best, that I can assure you."

Megumi twisted out of his loose hold and whipped around so fast her hair slapped his face in the process. The righteous anger burning in her brown depths quelled the mental string of curses before they could spill from his mouth. "Everything is not alright! And I for one refuse to carry on with this ridiculous charade!"

Wincing, Inutaisho rubbed the tender spot on his face where her hair had lashed him. "Sweetheart-"

"Don't sweetheart me." She began pacing, her forehead creasing with worry lines as the circles under her eyes became more prominent. "I don't care about the investigation or about this stupid company anymore." Her tone held a note of misery. "I just want them back."

He could smell the salt of forthcoming tears before they welled in her eyes. "Megumi," his voice full of compassion and equal despondency, Inutaisho took his mate by the arm and turned her to face him. "They are just lying low until things calm down around here. After all," his lips quirked into a wry smile, "murder is a capitol felony. And they probably don't know of the reward that the police are offering. Give them a few more days and I'm sure they'll come out of hiding."

Megumi looked at him unimpressed. "If you think that provides me with any consolation, you're sadly mistaken," she said flatly, but regretted her words when she saw the rare appearance of hurt flicker in his golden depths. "I'm sorry love," she sighed and cupped the side of his face with an open palm. "I've been out of my mind with worry for the past week. I've been trying to keep a positive outlook, but it's not easy when there hasn't been any type of indication that they're alive."

"They haven't found their bodies," he offered.

She withdrew her hand frowning. "That's not the point. Don't you think if they were alive they'd at least give us a sign that they're all right?"

He shrugged. "Perhaps they're still recovering from injuries they've received while going head to head with Naraku and don't have the energy to do so."

"Forgive me if I don't possess your uncanny flair for optimism, but I prefer to stick to the facts." Megumi closed her eyes and brought a hand to her heart, the burden weighing down the organ gradually increasing with the passing of each day. It hurt to the point of physical pain that she was part of the reason the children were missing, that if it hadn't been for their greed and selfishness for wanting to stay on top at any cost, her son and daughter-in-law would still be alive. If only there were a way to turn back the hands of time.

"I suppose we should start preparing for funeral arrangements," she said hoarsely, her voice strained and eyes tired as she sank into a chair.

"That's it, I've had just about enough of your pessimistic shit!" Megumi jumped at Inutaisho's sudden, angry proclamation, the almost feral glint of his darkened, tawny colored eyes making her reflexively press further into the chair. "Do you have so little faith in our son that you would write him off as dead before even considering the possibility that he might be alive somewhere? You should be praying for his safety and his ability to care for his mate instead of arranging a funeral!"

Megumi's last thread of patience snapped. "Forgive me for not wanting to divulge in one of your half-baked theories!" she yelled jumping out of the seat in her defense. "You say to hope and pray for the best today, then you'll say again tomorrow, and the day after and so on and so forth. I can't do that Taisho. My heart won't be able to take holding on forever and you know it!"

The veins in his neck bulged and throbbed angrily. "Damnit Megumi! I'm not asking for the rest of your life, I'm asking you to wait at least a month until you pronounce them dead. You can't even wait a fucking week!" His fists balling on either side, Inutaisho took in a deep lungful of air and forced himself to calm down. "What are you so afraid of?" he asked quietly when he finally regained his composure, golden eyes cool and calculated as he regarded her.

Megumi jaw tensed. "I only fear for their safety and well-being." She refrained from flinching as he appeared in front of her faster than the blink of an eye.

"Bulllshit. There's more to it than that." The harsh planes of his face softening, Inutaisho grabbed her chin and gently tilted her face upwards, her frightened, doe brown eyes confirming his beliefs. "Talk to me," he murmured stroking her cheek with his thumb.

Megumi felt the riotous emotions racing beneath her skin pacify at his soothing touch. "Oh Taisho," she sighed leaning into his hand, "I don't know what to do, to think. I want to believe that they're alive, that they're recuperating, but…" She pushed the tight lump attached to the inner walls of her throat down and fought the salty liquid flooding her vision. "I'm afraid that even if they did survive, they'll never speak to us again. Look at what we did to them." Megumi thrust a shaky hand through her hair and blinked back the tears that had begun streaming down her face. "We ignored their wants and placed them in a position where they had no choice but to comply with our demands. We put their lives in jeopardy, their dreams on hold, and practically forced them on each other. Maybe this is why they choose not to contact us. They're not afraid of being caught by the police, but want nothing more to do with us."

"Stop it," he scolded her lightly but evenly, "we helped them rediscover a love that was thought to have been lost a long time ago. Even if we brought them together for all the wrong reasons, in the end, they were happy and in love. That's all that matters. And I'm sure that when, not if, they come back, all will be forgiven and we will start anew. They aren't the type to hold grudges, you know this."

"One can only hope," Megumi murmured faintly winding her arms around his neck and pulling him into a hug. "What would I do without you?"

He buried himself in her warmth and basked in her soft scent. "I don't know," he replied for once choosing not to respond with cynicism because in truth, he really didn't know what he would do with her and vice versa. His corner of his mouth started to curl but stopped short of a full smile when a whiff of salt coming their way drifted into his nose.

Noticing the diversion of his attention, she lifted her head to look up at him in confusion. "What's wrong?"

Inutaisho didn't have time to answer as Hitomi threw open the double redwood doors, her face swollen and streaked with free running mascara. Megumi stomach dropped at the sight of her normally immaculate partner. She doubled over and if Inutaisho hadn't been holding her in his arms she would've collapsed to the floor. "They're dead aren't they?" she whispered, the pain in her heart near breaking point.

Too overcome with emotion to put her feelings into coherent sentences, Hitomi lifted a crumpled paper in her hand.

His heart racing, Inutaisho set his afflicted mate in one of the chairs and went to a shell shocked Hitomi whose mouth was moving but no words coming out. He gently pried the crinkled paper, or rather card, from her death grip and skimmed its contents. The color drained from his face. "Fuck me."

It seemed as though every reservoir within the heavens had been deposited upon them within the short span of five days. The dark, overcast clouds forced the sun to remain hidden behind the obscurity, waiting impatiently for a chance to shine again. A weighty sigh escaped Ayame's parted lips, lackluster emerald eyes following the many rivulets of water teeming in branches down the pane. The gloomy atmosphere had not only extended to the farthest reaches of the horizon, but also to the hearts and minds of everyone in the house. What had once been a sanctuary for the light-hearted, albeit occasionally rowdy, group of friends, had turned into a bleak prison of misery, its halls filled with memories of good times and serving as a blatant reminder of that which would never be again.

Vaguely noticing the lack of feeling in her legs, the wolf girl numbly pulled her legs from the cross-legged position on the suede couch and dropped them over the side. It had been seven days, twelve hours, and twenty two minutes since the fateful visit of two uniformed officers with news that would break the spirits of all living in the mansion. It had been a week and yet Ayame still couldn't come to terms with what had happened. A part of her mind believed that this was all some kind of elaborate hoax; that any minute her best friend would jump from behind her and ask if she had sensed her, like when they were children.

A wry, bitter half-smile quirked at the corner's of her mouth. Kagome had always been fascinated at the exceptional hearing of youkai, even as a child. Yeas ago when innocence was plentiful and corruption unheard of, hide and seek used to be their favorite pastime. Of course, whenever Ayame was 'it,' the game never lasted more than a few minutes, for all she had to do was sniff out the whereabouts of her friends and end the game at any given time. But then there were those few occasions when Kagome had confused her by planting decoys, such as shirts and shoes, in odd places and lightly spraying herself with another scent to throw her off, the little cheat.

A strangled chuckle rumbled in the back of Ayame's throat at her friend's cleverness, but the light in her eyes died as quickly as it sparked. 'Kagome. It's bad enough I have to live out my extended lifetime without you or Sango because of your human blood, but I never counted on you leaving so soon.' More water streamed down the window pain, blurring out the depressing scenery outside entirely. 'I'd give anything to have you back. I'd even tolerate the presence of that stupid hanyou of yours. Gods, I never thought I'd see the day when I'd actually miss that idiot.' She laughed, the harsh, bark-like sound lacking in joviality, but sobered quickly. 'Inuyasha, Kagome.'

Ayame jumped when a hand landed on her shoulder, and looked up to connect gazes with cobalt-colored eyes. Kouga withdrew his hand from her shoulder and presented her with a handkerchief. Confused by the gesture, she lifted a tentative hand to her cheeks and was moderately surprised when wet skin met her fingertips. Funny, she hadn't even noticed she'd been crying. "Thanks," she said taking the cloth from his open palm and offered him a watery smile in return.

He remained silent as she wiped her face of tears new and fresh. When finished with the task, Ayame handed him back the damp cloth, her head turning to stare listlessly out of the window.

"Keep it." Ayame blinked as she felt the couch sink slightly with the added weight of the other youkai. Ignoring the familiar outpouring of butterflies within her stomach, she oddly felt no inclination to make conversation with her longtime crush. 'It's so strange. A couple of weeks ago I would've felt ecstatic at the object of Kouga's attention.' But Kouga would live as long as she did, if not more. She had a lifetime to get to know him. Her jaw clenched. If only she could have that time with all of her friends. Why did fate have to be so cruel? Did taking away the lives of mortals appease the higher beings dwelling in their safe-havens in the heavens? Was this all some kind of game, to do away with people who were only pawns in something bigger than the rest of them?

"I'm leaving."

Ayame continued to stare out of the window and didn't give any physical indicator that she had heard him. But inwardly was another thing. His words, ringing incessantly in her mind, left her hollow and empty. "For good?" she asked, concentrating on keeping her voice neutrally steady.

"Yeah." The answer reaffirmed his earlier remark.

She bit her lip and braced herself against the flood of emotion beating down upon her in a manner none too gentle. She had just lost two of her best friends and now another one was walking out of her life. It was almost too much to bear under the circumstances. "Why?" The lone question hovered in the air separating them and was followed by a silence that was so thick it seemed palpable.

The downpour outside continued to rage on, pellets of rain smashing against the house with a fury like no other.

"It's just time for me to go." His voice was rough and heavy with undercurrents of sentiments that would never be voiced aloud. "There's no point in staying here now that…"

The lump in Ayame's throat swelled and tightened. He didn't need to finish. She already knew what he was going to say. He wasn't going to stay; not for her anyway. More tears spilled down her cheeks with the realization, but were quickly wiped away with the handkerchief. After making sure her face was free from wetness, she halfheartedly turned to look at him, her heart clenching painfully at the broken youkai by her side. Gone was the wolf she had fallen for. With a face looking as though it hadn't seen a razor in weeks, dark bags hanging beneath muted cobalt-colored eyes, and hair strewn in a messy, low ponytail, he was a shell of the youkai he used to be. Stripped of his pride and arrogance, Kouga looked as vulnerable and lost as a newborn pup.

And that was what spurred a reaction that not even she was aware of until she found herself buried in his chest, her arms wrapping around his neck and pulling him closer. There was nothing sexual about the embrace and she paid no heed to the fact that this was the closest she was ever going to get to him. They were simply friends comforting each other in their grief.

Her breathing hitched when she felt arms snake around her waist and his face burrow itself in her neck. The security and warmth of the embrace kept them in one another's arms for a couple of minutes. Sighing, Ayame reluctantly withdrew from the hug first before it became too hard to let go and sat back dejectedly against the tan and red striped cushion, her gaze downcast. "I wish you well on your journey," she said quietly.

"Ayame…I want you to come with me."

She froze, her ears hearing but mind unbelieving. "W-hat?"

A strong, calloused hand grasped her chin and forcibly directed her attention back to him. "I want you to come with me," he repeated. "I know we haven't been on the best of terms as of late and I want to spend this time getting to know you. I'm not guaranteeing that we'll become a couple, but if that should happen," lips broadened to a grim smile, eyes sparkling with dulled mischief, "I would be more than honored to be yours."

"R-really?" she choked out, "because if you're playing with my emotions, which I really don't appreciated in light of the recent, horrific events, I won't be too kind with my retribution-" A clawed finger silenced the long-winded tangent.

"I'm one hundred percent serious," he said quietly, cobalt eyes speaking the truth. "So will you come with me?"

A nod was all Ayame could provide him seeing as though her ability to speak was somehow hindered by the thousands of jubilant emotions raging through her being. But her happiness was short-lived, the reverberations of a feminine scream bouncing off the walls. Wasting not a second more, both wolf youkai shot out of their seats and raced to the foyer. Literally taking seconds to arrive at their destination, both stopped in their tracks, apprehension and fear scrawled on their faces at the sight that unfolding before them.

Sango, who had up until now been their pillar of strength in the midst of despair, who had kept their hopes barely above the surface of the darkness that each wanted to succumb to, who had made it her duty to take care of their every need, had fallen. Panic flared within Ayame's chest as she watched the warrior woman fling herself into the arms of a tear-streaked Miroku, a crumpled paper in hand.

"Oh god," the female wolf gasped clasping her hands to her mouth, her head shaking in denial, "it's about them isn't it?"

Either not hearing her whispered words or too busy consoling his girlfriend, the monk dropped the card and used the recently freed hand to cup her face, leaving the paper out in the open for all to see.

With an eerie calmness, Kouga stooped down and picked it up. Her ears twitching at his sharp intake of air, Ayame leaned over his shoulder.

Ryo stared at the wrinkled post card in his hands. Two puppies sat facing each other in the middle of Time Square with heads cocked towards each other, completely oblivious to the hustle and bustle of the crowded city and having eyes only for one another. There was nothing written on the back and no return address, but it was a clue, the first and only. And that was all he needed.

"All right people. I need results and I need them now!" He slammed his palm on the table for emphasis, the resounding crash doing nothing to impinge upon the focused people working hard to track down the origins of the postcard. It wouldn't be long now. Finding two teenagers amongst the millions of people living in the five boroughs would be a difficult feat for the average man. But Higurashi Ryo was not your average man. With endless connections spanning all over the globe, high profile detectives already working on the case, and a superior staff networking their way to the answer, it was only a matter of time before they found them.

"I just can't believe it," Hitomi smiled beside her husband and dabbed at her eyes with a Kleenex. "They're alive."

"And it won't be long until their location is found." Ryo abandoned the chaotic scene of room in favor of his wife. "Didn't I tell you that they would be ok, that they would give us a sign?" he asked, twirling a strand of her black locks between his forefinger and thumb.

Tired eyes that hadn't had a full night's sleep in a week stared back at him, relief evident within their depths. "I suppose you were right…for once."

"We've got them!" a man with sleeves rolled to his forearms yelled with a goofy grin. "The postcard was deposited in the lobby of the Embassy Suites in Manhattan off of North End Ave. We've also got confirmed sighting of five eye witnesses who saw them around the hotel."

Hitomi watched as her husband raced to the man and snatched a piece of paper from his hand. "Well I'll be damned. Good work people. Kanzaki, inform the Takedas that we've found the kids and prepare the jet immediately. Everyone else, you're all dismissed for the remainder of the week."

Grin broadening at the volume of cheers from the overworked employees, Ryo jogged over to his less than enthusiastic wife and grabbed her hand excitedly. "Let us be off then, dear."

She shrugged out of his hold. "No Ryo, we will not be off," she told him calmly.

He faltered in his step. "Come again?"

Eyes sharpening, she boldly stepped to him and crossed her arms. "We will not be going."

"And why the hell not?" he rejoined with steadily rising annoyance. "Isn't this what you wanted? To see your daughter again and hold her in your arms?"

"Yes. But for the time being, knowing that she is safe and alive with her husband will do for now considering the stress and trauma that we've put them through over the course of the summer. And-" she cut him off before he could begin again, "we will leave them alone for the time being given that they haven't had a decent honeymoon yet. And, if you or Inutaisho so much as step foot in that country, I, along with Megumi, will make it our duty to make sure you both sleep outside for the next several months. Now is that understood?" Her voice was hard and left no room for argument.

Conceding to his wife's wishes, the man hung his head in defeat. "Yes Hitomi."

"Good." She turned and walked toward the exit. "Now come along, there's work to be done."

Sango waved as the Mustang carrying two of her beloved friends sped down the driveway and onto the main road before driving out of sight. "It was a long time in coming, but they're finally together," she admitted grinning to her companion.

"Ah yes, I must concur. But I can't help but wonder the things that shall transpire now that we've got this grand estate to ourselves." Miroku waggled his eyebrows suggestively, causing a healthy glow to spill upon the cheeks of his beloved.

"Really, is sex all you think about you lecherous monk," she turned up her nose away from him in mock objection.

"That amongst other things." In one swift movement, Miroku wound his arms around the object of his affection and strategically inserted his hands into the back of her jean pockets. "Would you like a brief demonstration of what is to come, my sweet?" he cooed next to her ear.

Sango placed her hands on his chest and what was meant to keep him at arm's length soon became a leverage against the myriad of heady emotions causing her breath to hitch as he placed soft kissed along her jaw line. An ill-concealed outburst of giggles momentarily pierced the happy fog that had invaded her head. Glancing down, she caught Shippou making smooching faces at them.

Unfazed by the sudden appearance of the child, Miroku continued with his ministrations and even went so far as to tweak her breast for good measure. "Houshi-sama!" Sango simultaneously slapped his cheek and managed to squirm out of his constrictive hold. "Not in front of Shippou," she hissed.

"Yeah, not in front of me, lech," the kitsune taunted dancing around the older man. "I'm very impressionable at this age ya know."

Ignoring the handprint burning a hole in his face, Miroku pinned the kit with an icy glare. "Indeed," he said tightly. "Why don't you run along then. We wouldn't want your questionable innocence to be tainted by our actions."

Shippou gulped and shrunk back at the promise of death glinting within the monk's violet depths. "Eh, I'm going to uh, draw Kagome some more pictures." He pursed his lips wistfully, briefly forgetting the man's warning. "Do you think she and Inuyasha will be home soon?"

Sango bent down and ruffled the child's hair. "I'm positive. They'll be back before you know it."

Shippou beamed. "Okay. And then when they get back, we can be one big family, right?"

Her eyes softened. "Right. Now go and play with Kirara. Kaede will be serving dinner in a few so try not to get too dirty."

"Okay." She smiled as the kitsune bounded up the stairs that led back into the mansion.

"You're going to make a wonderful mother someday," Miroku admitted drawing her into a loose hug and reinserting his hands into the comfy confines of her back pockets.

Sango eyed him warily. "I hope you're not proposing having kids any time soon."

"Of course not," he answered with pseudo dismay. "I figured we were at least going to wait a year or two until conceiving the first child. I haven't really thought about when the other five will come into play, but I was thinking somewhere between three or four years-"

"Wait a minute," she began removing all of his components from her body, "if you think that I'm going to sit back and start popping out babies while you're away doing god-knows-what, you're sadly mistaken. I happen to enjoy my lifestyle as it is now and I don't want it or my freedom to be cut short because you want to have kids early on in life. But if that's something you really want to do then maybe," her chest heaved with an invisible burden, her eyes averting to escape his penetrating gaze, "maybe I'm not the right woman for you."

"Oh Sango," Miroku sighed and tucking a stray brown hair behind her ear, "haven't you realized by now that you're the only one for me. Always have been, always will be."

She opened her mouth, but the bothersome presence of something pressing against her left butt cheek threw her off. At first she pegged it to be one of the monk's wandering hands, but that was immediately ruled out upon seeing that both his hands were behind his back, his oddly blank expression all the more baffling. Frowning, she slid a hand into the tight space of her pocket, her heart all but stopping when her fingers enclosed around a circular object.

Apprehension blooming, Sango removed the item. The muscles holding her jaw in place went lax, allowing the air that had been forced up with the failure of her lungs to pass by unobstructed. So distracted was Sango that she failed to notice the man on one knee in front of her until he took her hand, ending her stint of paralysis.

"Sango, I know I've been a complete jerk to you for many a year and that I've hurt you beyond comparison with my foolish antics and ah, less than admirable tendencies," he began, earnest eyes filled with love and hint of nervousness, "but you'd make me the happiest man on earth if you would give me this one chance to prove that I'm worthy of being your husband and I promise that I will treat you with all the dignity and respect that you deserve, and so much more."

Tears poured in branching streams from her eyes, welling emotion clinching the walls of her throat. Sango tried to squeeze out her answer but it ended up coming out as a squeak and since speaking wasn't a viable possibility at this point, she settled for nodding. Letting out breath he hadn't known he'd been holding, Miroku's grin spanned from ear to ear and when he jumped up and swept his speechless fiancée in his arms.

"Thank you Sango, for making me the happiest man alive," he breathed into her hair and closed his eyes to hold back the torrent of jubilance that had him wanting to scream to the world that this woman had chosen him for now and ever. "I won't let you down."

"I know," she smiled into his shoulder, her lungs filling with his woodsy scent.

"Now," he pulled back to look into the brown eyes that he'd fallen in love with, a roguish smirk accentuating his handsome features, "about those babies…"

Shafts of light filtered through the sheer, golden curtains. The glowing emissions splayed playfully along the posh settings, stressing the rich reds and golds of the exclusive quarters by adding a spirited appeal. Skirting the lavish furniture and various articles of clothing strewn haphazardly on the carpeted floor, stray beams found a different target.

Two figures shifted beneath crème-colored silk sheets, one snuggling deeper into the warmth of her companion, the other wincing as a sunbeam burned holes through his eyelids mercilessly. Growling at the sudden invasion, Inuyasha cracked his eyes and winced again as the light hit his retinas directly. 'Fuck. I knew I should've drawn the shades last night.' He moved, ready roll out of bed and yank them shut so he could get more shut eye, when he noticed a soft, warm weight pressed against his body.

Full lips drew into a gentle smile at the angel sleeping half-sprawled on top of him with one arm casually draped over his waist and her face partially buried within his chest, a thin trail of drool trickling down her chin. Inuyasha chuckled before carefully brushing the saliva away with the pad of his thumb.

"Inu…yasha," she murmured faintly in her sleep.

The hanyou's heart tripped over itself, his name on her lips causing something primitive to stir within him, and for once, it wasn't his loins. There wasn't a word to describe how he felt for her. It ran deeper than any ocean, overshot the heavens on a bad day, and was so overpowering, so consuming that he feared that there would be no way to disentangle himself from the convoluted mesh that bound him completely and exclusively to this small, slip of a woman. But then again, he wouldn't have it any other way.

His mouth grew dry as he beheld the beautiful goddess. A shock of obsidian waves that intermingled with his own silver tresses veiled the top portion of their bodies. With skin as soft and warm as the silk sheets they lay between and subtle curves that would drive men and youkai alike crazy with want (he let out a low growl at that), her beauty knew no bounds. No girl or woman he had come across during the course of his lifetime could hold a torch to her. She was everything to him. And there wasn't anything he wasn't willing to do to make her happy and safe.

The extent of his love for her far surpassed everything, everyone he'd come to know during his few decades of existing. It had dawned on him when he'd been at the mercy of Naraku that life wasn't worth living if she wasn't by his side. The pain of that particular loss was a feeling he didn't wish to revisit anytime in the near or distant future. It had been a miracle that they had been able to get away more or less unscathed. He had no idea how she had been able to invoke her miko powers, use them to eradicate the vile hanyou, and then heal him of his own injuries. There definitely had been higher forces at work, their only price being her state of unconsciousness for five days straight, a small sacrifice to pay for being granted a second chance at love.

Inuyasha gently pushed back the curtain of ebony hair, a smile gracing his cupid bow lips as he ran a finger down the sweep of her neck only to stop when coming to the symbol of his eternal love for her. The blue crescent moon stood out in a bright contrast to her ivory coloring. She was finally his and his alone. It had taken them years of fighting and heart-wrenching pain to overcome the obstacles that impeded their union, but in the end it had been worth it. Because in the end, he had gotten what he'd wanted, what he craved, what he ached for. And she would be his forevermore.

"Inuyasha?" Heavy lids raised to half-mast, revealing hazy blue arcs.

Said hanyou felt the air knocked from his lungs like he'd been punched in the gut. 'Gods, she's beautiful.'

Although she was only semi-conscious, Kagome could feel her pulse quickening at the multitude of inexpressible emotions reflected through the golden windows to his soul. A blush inched its way up from her neck to settle on her cheeks at his quiet intensity. Was this always how he was going to be after they made love? Indolence flying out the window with the mental admission, her eyes snapped open, memories of what had transpired the night before inviting a flood of heat to swallow her face.

The hanyou cocked a silver brow at his red-faced mate and smirked at her embarrassment. "Were my love making skills not up to par?" he teased jabbing her shoulder.

Suppressing the inclination to burrow beneath the covers to escape her mortification, Kagome stuck it out and glared at him, the spark of amusement in her eyes undermining the gesture. "Not at all," she sniffed indignantly, "one would've thought with your flings with half the female population you would have had at least gained considerable experience. I was sorely disappointed in last night's borderline catastrophe."

"You wound me, my lady." He grimaced and placed a hand over his chest. "Have you no mercy for this humble hanyou, whose only desire in life is to please your person?"

"My person would be better off not having to fake orgasms to boost your self-esteem."

His rich, throaty laughter met her comment, causing Kagome to smile. It was such a rarity to hear such a carefree laugh, his usual gruff front thwarting his ability to cut loose sometimes. Sighing contentedly, she used her finger to inscribe small, imaginary circles around his nipple and smothered a giggle as his pectoral muscles jumped in response. "So do you think everybody got the postcards yet?"

"Umm," Inuyasha trailed off and desperately tried to focus on the question at hand instead of what her finger was doing to him down below, "yeah. I did the…uh…overnight express thing so they should've gotten it this morning."

"Do you think our parents are on their way?" she inquired innocently and passing slowly over the nipple itself.

His mind went blank as every muscle in his body tightened. Did she know what she was doing to him? Amber eyes narrowed suspiciously when he felt her form discreetly quaking. "Oi wench." Reversing their positions with the grace of a feline, Inuyasha easily slid from beneath her and rolled on all fours above her tiny frame, his suspicions confirmed as he caught her unsuccessfully curbing her laughter. "You're a slick bitch, you know that?" he growled playfully nuzzling her ear.

Giggling and blushing as his tongue flicked out and caressed the ridge of her ear, Kagome locked arms around his neck and kissed his cheek. "Sorry, I couldn't help myself."

He dragged his fangs lightly down the expanse of her neck, each nip begetting a ripple of pleasurable shockwaves that were sent from head to toe. "Inuyasha," she breathed, reflexively holding him tighter against her.

The scent of her arousal, the taste of her skin, still sweet with sweat from their last joining nearly sent him over the brink. Groaning, Inuyasha moved down to pay homage to her full breasts. "Ready for round three babe?" he murmured taking one of her taut nipples with his mouth while nudging her legs apart with his knee.

She hissed in pain with the action, a dull ache that had yet to peter out overnight oscillating throughout her lower regions. Inuyasha jumped off of her like she was on fire, his face weighted with worry and fear that he had hurt her. "What's wrong? Are you okay?"

"I'm fine, I'm fine. Just a little sore, that's all."

"Are you sure?" Concern creased the lines of his forehead as he tentatively ran a hand over the lower expanse of her pelvis.

Reflexively flushing with the intimate contact, Kagome raised her arms to smooth out the weariness from his face. "Inuyasha, give me an hour in the hot tub and I'll be as good as new," she said softly.

He immediately relaxed and settled down on his left side so that he was facing her. "You're more trouble than you're worth bitch," he groused tugging a strand of her hair.

"I could say the same for you, asshole," she shot back sticking out her tongue.

Inuyasha leaned over, his face painfully close to her own. "You know you wouldn't have me any other way," he whispered in a soft, husky tone that had tiny shivers raising the hairs on her body and her lips aching for a kiss that was long overdue.

A familiar warmth pooling in her stomach, Kagome stared into the smoldering pools of passion that stole the very air from her lungs, knowing in her heart, body, mind, and soul that this was the man she was destined to be with for all of eternity. "I love you Inuyasha."

Her heartfelt words yanking at his heartstrings and causing his body to go awry with desire, Inuyasha gathered her in his arms and pulled her as close to him as physically possible without causing her pain. "I love you Kagome," he spoke in a voice thick with emotion. Delaying the inevitable no longer, he pressed his mouth against hers in a kiss that was both chaste and subtly overwhelming. And after several elongated minutes had passed them by when breath was sparse and eyes laden with feelings indescribable, they knew that nothing would come between them ever again as long as they should live.


AN: And there it is, the final chapter of this shit story that you all seemed to be so enamored with. It even won 2nd place in the Inuyasha Fanfiction Guild. Kudos to me for writing and kudos to you all for reviewing and loving this story. Thanks so much to everyone that gave me the motivation and encouragement to go on, especially those have been with me since day one, i.e. iNiGmA, Hououza, Cattykit, to name a few . An even bigger thanks to Kimmie and FrameofMind for editing my crap, because heaven knows I had my rough days.

No there won't be a sequel because this is perfect as is. Thank you all so much for making this fic a huge success and if I wasn't so busy I would personally thank you all for all of your support. Lots of love and kisses as I bid this story adieu.