Disclaimer: Inuyasha is not my mine.

Chapter 10

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That night, as promised, Hermes tucked Niobe into bed and told her a story. When he had given her a kiss goodnight on the forehead and departed, Thanos at last entered the darkened room. He did not like that the messenger god at all and avoided him whenever possible. Fortunately, Hermes seemed to reciprocate his feelings for Thanos, so that was alright. Just as long as he kept it that way, Thanos supposed he could stomach his existence.

Upon shutting the door to the bedroom he and his sister shared together, Thanos glanced over at the bed. His twin lay on her side facing away from him, her slight form an adorable lump under the thin sheet.

"Niobe?" he asked, curious to see if she was still awake.

No response.

Thanos' dark brows drew together. So, he thought irritably, Hermes put her to sleep, no doubt with one of his lame stories. On another day, he would have simply shrugged and got into bed beside her, but an unsettling thought drew him up short. Hermes had put Niobe to sleep. Therefore, his face had been the last one she had seen before she fell into slumber.

A wave of jealousy, hot and heavy, coursed through Thanos' veins and he knew. He knew that Hermes wanted her for his own and would do anything to steal her away from him. Like hell he would let that happen!

He slid into their bed beside her, moved his body directly behind hers with her back to his front and being careful of her hair that was spread out behind her head, he propped himself up on his elbow so he could look down at her sleeping face.

"My darling," he whispered and pressed his lips on the tip of her delicate little ear. With his free hand, he moved her hair so that it lay on the pillow over her head. She sighed in her sleep but nothing more. Something inside him wanted to leave her alone and let her sleep, but he did not want that. He wanted her to look at him, see him, before she closed her eyes again.

He slid his arm over her waist and tucked his hand beneath her. Thanos always marveled about how tiny she was in comparison to him. Even though they were twins, she still retained the softness of a child's body while his was already growing into that of a man.

Thanos kissed her again, this time on her petal-soft cheek. "My love," he murmured, his lips lightly brushing her skin.

To his delight she smiled, though her eyes remained closed.

"You are tickling me, Brother," she whispered, her voice thick with sleep.

His smile shone down on her, his eyes blazing with love. "I am not," he protested softly. "I am merely kissing you." He proceeded to do so.

She giggled and turned her head to look up at him. Half of her face was cast in shadow. The other half was illuminated by the light of the moon that streamed in through their balcony window. "You missed Hermes, Thanos," she told him, her eyes twinkling. "The story he told was wonderful."

A small frown darkened Thanos' face at the mention of the older god. "Let's not speak of unpleasant matters. You know how I feel about him."

Niobe sighed. "I wish you would learn to get along with him, Brother. He is not as bad as all that. In fact," she said with a dreamy look in her eyes, "he is rather marvelous."

Thanos had to look away. He did not like the look in her eyes when she spoke of Hermes. "Marvelous," grunted her twin grimly. "There is nothing I find marvelous about him. On the contrary, I loathe him."

In his embrace, Niobe twisted her body so that she was lying on her back. "But why, Thanos? Why do you have such animosity towards him? He's done nothing to you."

"Nothing?" Thanos spat the word out. "Nothing?! What he has done, dear Sister, is have the audacity to cast his lecherous eyes at the one thing in this world that I desire most." He seemed startled by his outburst and shifted his gaze guiltily from her face.

She stared up at him, confused. "What are you talking about? What does he want that you desire?"

After a moment's pause, Thanos shifted his body until he lay on top of her. His black eyes stared intently down at her as his hands moved up to bury themselves in her silken coolness of her ebony hair.

"You," he said simply and bent his head down to kiss her forehead. His gaze raked over her face and he felt love for her rush through him. He adored her sweet little face, her large luminous eyes, her pert little nose, and her rosebud lips. Even the way her hair grew back from her forehead was beautiful. His fingers sought a lock of her curling black hair and brought it to his lips, where he kissed it gently. Her hair, he thought drowsily, was simply magnificent. It was like black silk that wound around his finger of its own volition. She was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. That bitch— Father's filthy whore— Aphrodite had nothing on her.

Those rosebud lips he worshipped moved to speak. "Me?" she asked a little wondrously.

He nodded.

"But," she replied after a moment of thoughtful silence, "that's ridiculous, Thanos. Hermes sees me only as a child; nothing more. After all, he is so much older than us."

Thanos kissed her again, only this time it was on the tip of her adorable little nose where he pressed his lips. "You are mistaken, my love. I have seen him look at you in ways that would make you tremble with fear. Trust me, it is not a sight for an innocent maiden like you to witness."

She laughed softly. Thanos was stunned by her reaction. He had hoped to turn her against Hermes, but here she was, laughing at his seriousness.

"You think me a joke?" he growled deep in his throat.

"No, my dear Brother," she replied in a weak attempt to stifle her mirth. Her lips clamped together but her giggles refused to cease

"Then why do you laugh?" he demanded, his hands gripping her hair a little too tightly. But he released her as soon as he realized what he was doing. Thankfully, she did not seem to notice or care.

When she at last managed to cease laughing, Niobe lifted her hands to her brother's handsome face and cupped her hands on his cheeks. "We have grown up here on Olympus together, you and me. Have we not?" He nodded and she continued. "We have also seen the worst sorts of orgies take place here. On more than one occasion have I been playing in the gardens while Aphrodite and our Father copulated for hours in the shrubbery." She smiled up at Thanos. "You see? I am not completely innocent to the ways of men and women, Brother."

"But Hermes!" he sputtered furiously. "I know what I saw, Niobe! The look in his eyes whenever he sees you…"

"He is as a brother to me, Thanos. Nothing more."

"Is that true?" he asked cautiously. "You have no romantic feelings for him?" He paused as anger and anxiety threatened to overwhelm him. "Are you lying to me, Niobe?" he asked her quietly. His heart ached in his chest. Already he could feel tears well up in his eyes. Dear heavens, if she lied to him… If it were anyone else, he could handle their lies. But not from her. Never from her.

Niobe shook her head. "No," she whispered, her lovely, gentle smile trembling on her lips. Thanos felt his heart squeeze with want. How he wished to kiss those lips forever!

"You know I love you, Brother. I would not lie to you." Her hands slid down to his shoulders, which began to tremble beneath her small fingers.

With a passion that would have made the goddess of love herself weep, Thanos kissed her, his most beloved one. She was his. He knew that. The bond between them was so strong that nothing would pull them apart, not even Hermes, try as he might.

The thought of Hermes on top of her, tasting her lips as he was doing now, enraged Thanos to a fever pitch. How dare Hermes want what was his! How dare he cast his loathsome gaze at one who was perfection itself! He did not deserve Niobe. He would not ever have her.

The taste of her mouth sent his senses reeling. His hands, which were entangled in her hair, clenched suddenly and he gripped her head hard. Without realizing what he was doing, Thanos deepened the kiss, pressing his mouth harder against her like one possessed. He could not get enough of her. It took him a long to realize that she was pushing against his body, trying to shake her head free from his brutal mouth.

When he finally raised his head, he saw in horror what he had done to her. Her beautiful lips were swollen and bloodied; her eyes stared up at him, concern and fear in their dark depths.

"Thanos!" she exclaimed softly. "What is the matter? Have I angered you?"

He shook his head vehemently. "No! No my love, you did not anger me." Hermes did that, he thought morosely to himself. The thought of that man touching you drives me insane…

"But you hurt me. Why did you do that?"

Hearing the pain in her voice, Thanos began to weep. His tongue flicked out to lick the blood from her bruised lips. "Forgive me! There is no excuse for what I did. I love you," he wept against her mouth. "I love you, Niobe." His body shuddered as her arms went around him and held him close.

"As I love you," she managed to say before the breath was squeezed out of her. In his frenzy, Thanos had pressed his body hard down on hers and to Niobe, it seemed that he was afraid she might try to escape him. His next words confirmed that.

"Promise that you will never leave me," he pleaded. His lips were on one cheek, then the other, on her forehead, down to the tip of her nose until they rested again on her bruised lips. "Do not ever leave me." He kissed his way down her jaw to her warm throat.

"Never?"

"Never."

She chuckled. "You know that is impossible, Brother. We would have to part eventually." Her voice dropped to a whisper as she breathed in his ear: "You may not think it, but there have been times when I must relieve myself."

Against her warm skin, Thanos smiled broadly. When said like that it did sound ridiculous, but he liked to amuse his sister and he continued on. "Well… Even then I would not allow it. No matter what, I would have you with me. Have I not sworn to you to protect you always?"

It took much for Niobe not to laugh aloud. She could sense his amusement and judged it safe to laugh at him. "Of course you have, dear Brother, but honestly, who would I need protection during such a time? Someone bound and determined to accost me whenever nature calls?"

Against her skin, he grunted. "Do not argue with me, my love. Just know that everything I do is in your best interest."

Niobe let out a delicate snort. "Well, I think you are being ridiculous."

"No I am not. I am being vigilant in protecting what is mine by right."

"Oh, I see. So you are obsessed with me, is that it?"

His head nodded against her shoulder. "Mmm. Very. Beyond reason, I think."

"More than Apollo is of Artemis?"

"Far more, I should think. But then, he does not love her the way I love you."

As his soft lips began moving against her shoulder and up to her neck, Niobe smiled to herself then with her tongue, she very delicately explored the inside of her mouth. Thanks to her brother's bruising kiss, she now had a tiny cut on the inside of her bottom lip. With a sigh, she raised a hand and ran her fingers lightly through his black hair. Her smile trembled and a look of puzzlement crossed her face. For a moment she did not want to ask but she knew that her curiosity would get the better of her in the end. "What would happen if I did, Brother? Leave you, that is." It could not hurt to ask, right? He was so vehement and she was genuinely curious.

His entire body stilled and Niobe was suddenly filled with a cold, creeping fear. For once, she did not want to gaze upon her brother's handsome countenance. She knew it would frighten her.

Thanos seemed to know her fear and did not remove his mouth from her neck.

"I would go mad," he said simply. Though he spoke softly, there was an edge to his voice which she had never heard before. It terrified her. "After I finally manage to compose myself, I would hunt you down. Afterwards, I shall take us to where Uncle Hades resides and fling us both into the Underworld where you would be mine forever. You would never see our Mother or Grandfather again. Or Hermes. Especially Hermes."

For a long, long moment, neither one moved. Niobe could only gape helplessly up at the vaulted ceiling above them. "Surely you would not…" she began but her voice gave out.

He sighed and his breath was hot and moist against her skin. "I do not want to hurt you, Niobe," he told her gently. "But if I lost you, I would go mad with grief. I cannot be without you, not even for a moment."

When he lifted his head to look down at her, Niobe was relieved to find that his face was just as it had been before. The fearfulness she felt was gone and all she could feel now was his love and the pounding of his heart against her chest. It beat in exact time to that of her own heart, a fact that she had come to love greatly.

"When we are grown, will you be mine forever?" he asked her, hopefulness in his dark eyes.

"But… surely you will want another woman one day? Or other women?" she asked him, remembering the numerous trysts her grandfather Zeus had, though he was wed to Hera. "This love for me may change in time, Brother. Perhaps one day you will find another more suited to you."

As she spoke, the face hovering over her changed. The black curling hair of her brother was suddenly long and pulled up in a ponytail at the back of his head. Instead of dark eyes staring down at her, they became eyes that glowed fiercely blue in the darkness. The anxious look on his face smoothed out and he smiled down at her, a wolfish grin curving his lips upward.

"Yo, Kagome," he said and winked rakishly at her.

"Wha-?" Startled, she gasped and pushed up against him.

The black hair streamed down like black silk over one tanned and muscular shoulder, but soon the lovely ebony color seemed to drain out of it. In its place was hair that looked like snow spun into long silver threads.

She gasped, this time in wonder, and let her eyes travel up the long, silvery-white hair to the face of its owner. Beautiful eyes gazed down at her, their long dark lashes framing eyes the color of honey. On top of his head of white hair was a pair of silken ears.

"Who are you?" she whispered. As she stared up at him, she realized that she felt the urge to weep. Not out of joy or because he was so lovely to look at, but out of longing and heart-wrenching agony. She knew he was not real but she wanted him to be real, to be there with her, to comfort her. For some reason she did not comprehend, she missed him even though she knew she had never seen him before. Just as she knew he would, he began to fade. Desperately, she reached up and cupped his face in her hands as though that would stop him from going. Each second that passed she could feel him growing more insubstantial beneath her fingers.

"Please don't go," she begged. "Please." Tears flowed hotly from her eyes, down the side of her face to run behind her ears. "Will I see you again?" she pleaded.

He said nothing, but instead smiled and vanished.

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Kagome awoke with a strangled cry. Her body shot off of her mattress and she landed hard on the floor beside her bed. For several minutes she lay where she had fallen, her breath coming out in harsh pants. When she managed to move again, she noted that her lips ached terribly. With great effort she drew herself up from the floor and looked in her dresser mirror which she shared with Sango. At first she could not believe what she was seeing. Surely that was a trick of the light? Her heart froze when she realized that what she was seeing was no trick. Her lips were red and swollen; there was a trickle of blood from the right side of her mouth and across her cheek in a horizontal line towards her right ear. One glance at her pillow told her she had begun to bleed while she was in bed for there was a small pool of blood staining the otherwise pristine white pillowcase.

"But it was just a dream," she said aloud and in the silence of her room, she could hear her voice shake. With the back of one trembling hand, she attempted to wipe the blood away but it had dried already. "It was just a dream."

She sat down on her bed and stared blankly into space. That had been a very vibrant dream; too much so. She could still recall nearly everything in great detail, almost as if she had just now experienced it. And it had been disturbingly real. The end of the dream was vague; the white-haired man was little more than a memory. He had been really odd. Where had she come up with him?

Her fingers lifted to tenderly brush across her bottom lip and she pulled her hand back with a gasp. The pain was very real, she thought with some disquiet. How had she hurt her mouth? Had she bitten herself in her sleep?

Cautiously, Kagome ran her tongue along the interior of her mouth in an exploratory fashion. There, on the inside of her bottom lip, was a small cut.

ooooooo

Nearly two weeks had passed since Kagome had discovered that she had been abandoned at her school. By now, she was down to less than a quarter of a bag of Sango's trail mix. The other bag she had finished just the day before. She had been very careful to ration what little food she had left but with each day that passed, she knew she had to find food – more substantial food— and fast.

She was in panic mode—or perhaps it was simply the hunger pains talking. At this point, she could not differentiate between the two.

A couple of days previous she had made an attempt to break into the office, but with no success. She did the same with doors to the kitchen, with the same sad result. The doors seemed to Kagome to be able to withstand anything, even a starving teenage girl. The first two days during this past week, Kagome had done something which, in all of her seventeen years, she would never have dreamt of doing: she had gone out and begged. Whether it was for food or money, she did not care. All she knew was that she would not be able to subsist on trail mix and water much longer. Water, thankfully, she had no fear of it running out. The same could not be said for the trail mix, which was disappearing rapidly day by day. Soon she would be staring at an empty bag and no amount of water would be able to silence the growling of her belly.

The first day of begging, she had gone out in her school uniform— which had begun to hang more loosely on her already slim figure—and hoped to drum up sympathy. That plan had completely backfired when she attempted to beg in an area filled with islanders instead of tourists. She had been laughed at and sneered at. Kagome had not understood until a kindly older woman pulled her aside and chided her for playing such a nasty prank on the hardworking people of the island. When Kagome asked why she thought everyone thought she was pulling a prank, the woman shook her head.

"Because we all know what kind of school you go to, young lady," the woman told her with a sigh. "Only the wealthiest people send their daughters there. The same goes with Okalani; only boys from rich families can afford to attend. So to have a girl wearing a uniform from one of the most exclusive schools asking for money from people who have to work hard for every penny… well, you can see why no one wants anything to do with you." With that, the woman walked away, leaving Kagome staring down at her uniform jacket with its fancy crest on her left breast.

Knowing that it would be trail mix yet again for dinner that night, Kagome went home as soon as fast as she could manage. After going for so long without a decent meal, she was beginning to move slower and her stamina was markedly reduced. This was alarming to Kagome, being a dancer, because she knew she was physically in great shape. Food would need to be obtained and quickly.

Suddenly, she hated Pualani and her desire to leave intensified. Knowing that she still had one more school year left to go weighed heavily on her heart. Could she do it? Could she make it yet another year? As she reached the ladder and began to climb it to go over the garden wall, she smiled bitterly. Did she even have a choice in the matter?

"No, of course not," she muttered dismally as she reached the top. She sat astride the wall and began pulling the ladder back over so she could climb back into the school's garden. With the ache in her arms and shoulders, she realized that it was getting harder to lift the ladder. That was not good.

The second day had not been much better. She had dressed in street clothes and made sure to go to where all the tourists were. But she still looked well and the tourists were not inclined to part with their cash to a girl who looked well-groomed. However, she made herself stick it out until just after the sun had set which she discovered was not a good idea. She asked one drunken male tourist who looked to be in his twenties if he had any spare change. The man turned to her and said he would give her a twenty dollar bill if she would have sex with him. Kagome had been horrified, which seemed to amuse the man greatly. He changed his mind about her having sex with him and instead, would she give him a blow job? To add insult to injury, he waved the twenty dollar bill in her face.

It was all she could do not to deliver a slap to his face that would send his insolence packing. Instead, she turned and ran away back to the safety of the school.

Now she sat on her bed and stared vacantly off into space. She had not left the school since that day. Her stomach still growled but she barely paid attention. Each day that passed her belief that Yuki-sama would come to get her faded. He would not be coming for her; she knew that for certain now. In the beginning she had had hope that there had been some oversight or that something had happened to him to delay him. If he cared for her as much as he professed, he surely would have sent word by now. But no message had been sent, no word on if he would be coming.

Letting out a sigh, Kagome leaned back against the wall and stared out through the open window. It was yet another beautiful day on the island. With another sigh, she shut her eyes against the brightness of the day. She wanted with all her might that she were some place, any place, other than here.

She opened her eyes and turned her listless gaze to the opposite side of the room. Sango's bed was the first thing she saw and she smiled wanly. How she missed Sango! She would give anything to hear Sango's voice, to have Sango here so she would not be alone.

Alone. On an island full of people, she was alone. The rational part of her knew she ought to seek out assistance or go to the police… something, for she knew this had gone on long enough. But if she did that, Yuki-sama would get into trouble for abandoning her and she could not let that happen. He would be furious with her and he was her only means of support; the only family she had. She did not want to lose that.

If only she had Sango's phone number! Hell, if she only had a phone! But it would not matter if she had a phone. There was no one she could call anyway. Besides, this was Sango's holiday and she was spending time with her family. Sango spent all her time with Kagome when they were together here. Kagome could not expect her friend to come rushing back to her when she could damn well take care of herself. Sango deserved to be with her family now.

The thought of family sent tears welling in Kagome's eyes. "All I ever wanted was to have a family," she muttered to herself bitterly and wiped the tears that had begun to trickle down her face. "But no. All I have is a guardian who appears when it suits him and runs my life to suit him and…" She broke off, her voice choked with sobs. "Why did you leave me, Yuri? Why didn't you take me with you?"

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A few hours later, Kagome lay motionless on her bed, eyes staring blindly up at the ceiling. Somewhere, through the numbness of her brain, Kagome knew she should get up and find something to eat. The lack of food was getting to her, she thought dully. She blinked slowly. Why did it feel so warm in here?

Through great effort, Kagome got up and made her way out of her room and outside to the teachers' garden. She went right to the ladder and began to climb it to the top of the wall. Food was first and foremost in her mind. She had to have food, real food; not trail mix, for pity's sake. How she would accomplish her goal, she had no idea. Perhaps if she begged a kind-hearted tourist who had no idea she was boarding at a wealthy school…

When she reached the top of the wall, she sat astride it as she normally did. Also, as normal, she grabbed hold of the top of the ladder and began to pull it over. But this time the ladder did not come when she pulled it. Her hands lost their weakened grip on it and she lost her balance, which sent her toppling over onto the other side of the wall. She landed hard on her side on the ground, leaving her breathless for what seemed an eternity.

After regaining her breath, Kagome weakly tried to sit up but found that her side hurt worse than she originally thought. "Screw it," she breathed and decided that it could not hurt to close her eyes for a second or two. "I'll just rest here for a bit," she told herself and made herself breathe as slowly and shallowly as possible. Why did it hurt to breathe so much? She shut her eyes and tried to let her mind go so as to blot out the pain…

"Someone… please help me…" were the last words she uttered as blessed darkness overcame her.

oooo

The moment she began to drift out of unconsciousness, Kagome was aware of one glaring fact: She was no longer in pain. The last thing she had been aware of before darkness had swallowed her up was that she had been in pain. Yes, that was it. Her side had hurt. She had fallen off the garden wall and landed hard on the ground.

One thing she knew for certain—other than not being in pain any longer—was that the ground did not feel as hard as it had when she landed on it. In fact, it felt rather soft and cushiony. She sighed and tried to concentrate on opening her eyes but there was something else she discovered. There was something quite close to her that emitted an enormous energy. It was a dark energy; nothing like Yuki-sama's aura which was light and pure. Dark this energy might be, it was not menacing. In fact, it seemed quite friendly… just like it had been with Yuri.

"Don't force it. Let yourself wake up normally. There's a good girl."

Kagome's eyes flew open. She was in her room, she thought vaguely. But all her attention was immediately arrested by the source of the energy which sat beside her on her bed. It was a white-haired giant. It was a white-haired giant with golden yellow eyes. And it was also staring at her.

"Draco?" she whispered and stared up at him with a mixture of shock and wonder. But as soon as the name passed her lips, she knew that something was different about the man before her. He looked older and larger than Draco. Heavens, this guy was enormous. How had he managed to get in the doorway?

The giant's silver brows went up, giving him a surprised look. "Draco? You think I'm Draco?" The look of surprise was instantly replaced by a bright, amused grin that exposed very white fangs. His eyes crinkled at the corners as he smiled. "Get a load of that, Ty, she thinks I'm Draco. How cute is that?" He had turned his head to flash his toothy grin at someone across the room.

Slowly, Kagome turned her attention from the pale giant to another man who sat motionless on Sango's bed. This other man regarded the giant with the blandest expression Kagome had ever seen. But when he turned his uninterested blue eyes on her, Kagome felt as if someone had slapped her in the face. The intensity with which he looked at her was like nothing she had ever felt. Those blue eyes were like lasers, she thought with much disquiet. It was all she could do not to openly cringe from him and she would have, had the white-haired monolith beside her not turned his open, friendly grin back on her.

"Don't be scared, honey. He won't hurt you." He winked at her. "My name, by the way, isn't Draco. Draco happens to be our baby brother. I am Dante—" he said, holding out his hand for her to shake, which she did, feebly, "—and the creepy guy over there is Tiberius." He jerked his head in the direction of the silent man who sat on Sango's bed.

"Ty," corrected the man on the other bed. He remained where he was, one leg crossed over the other at the knee, his arms crossed over his chest.

Dante rolled his eyes good-naturedly. "Yeah, Ty. Whatever." Lowering his voice conspiratorially he whispered to Kagome. "He's so sensitive about his name." Aloud he said, "At least Mom and Dad didn't name you Caligula." Dante sent another wink Kagome's way and she could not help but smile.

"My name is Kagome," she said and Dante acknowledged her with a nod and a smile.

But Ty's stoic face did not change and Kagome wondered if he smiled at all. Maybe he had a condition where his facial muscles did not work? She pushed that thought aside as quickly as it had come and struggled to sit up. Dante helped her reach a sitting position.

"No. Dante is just not that funny to me."

Kagome started violently and shot a wide-eyed glance over at Ty. He had uncrossed his arms and legs and leaned forward, his elbows resting on his knees. His gaze was piercing and she felt suddenly afraid.

"H-how did you…?" she began timidly, but her voice faltered and she looked quickly away from those laser-like eyes.

Dante made a clicking noise with his tongue. "Stop it, Ty! Don't terrify her," he said reproachfully. "She's still not one hundred percent." He turned to look at Kagome, who had shrunk away from him. "Hey, it's okay," he said, taking her small hand in his enormous one. "We won't hurt you."

But her gaze darted furtively in Ty's direction and Dante, who took note of the look, smiled at her tenderly. "He may look scary, but he's really not. That's his usual self. I know; creepy, right? Besides," he said, turning to shoot a quick glance at his brother, "if he does try something, I can deal with him. I won't let anything happen to you."

Ty's cool gaze slid over to Dante. His eyelids narrowed. "I am not a monster, Dante," he muttered.

"But you're scaring her, man," Dante pointed out reasonably. "You're looking at her as though you could skin her alive with your eyeballs. Hell, it's starting to freak me out. Don't be weird, dude."

For a second, Ty stared uncomprehendingly at his older brother but at last he acquiesced and sat up, his eyes losing their piercing stare. "Sure. Sorry." He looked at Kagome and gave her a ghost of a smile, which transformed his hard face into something soft and sweet. She was blown away by how much his features changed when he smiled but she still felt a little afraid of him. That was very strange, as his aura did not strike her as menacing.

"What did you mean when you said I was not one hundred percent?" she asked when she was able to wrench her gaze away from Ty's youthful—and much less serious—façade.

Dante, whose hand still clutched hers, smiled tenderly at her. Kagome smiled back, not because he smiled at her so kindly, but because Draco also had a habit of holding onto her hand. "You were ill," he said simply. "We found you outside that garden wall. You were just lying there, unconscious. Ty looked you over and found you had a couple of bruised ribs and a slight fever." With his free hand, he brushed the hair back from her face. "Poor child. It was heartbreaking to see you lying there so helpless."

"You are undernourished as well." It was Ty, who was still leaning forward on his elbows. The serious look had returned to his face but the look in his eyes was not quite as fierce as it had been before. Instead, it reminded Kagome of the last time she had seen a doctor. His steady gaze, his forthright manner and the neutral way in which he spoke to her – those were all the same qualities a physician would present to their patient. "When was the last time you ate a real meal?" He glanced down at his side then back over at her. Kagome saw, resting beside his thigh on Sango's comforter, were the empty plastic bag that had held the dried fruit and the very nearly empty bag of trail mix.

Feeling two sets of eyes that bored holes into her, Kagome swallowed hard. The longer she kept silent, the worse for her it would be, she thought with consternation. One was a demon and as Draco liked to remind her, they could smell a lie on a human with no problem. "Almost two weeks," she admitted quietly, head bowed.

"Why so long?"

Kagome glanced up and looked over at Ty, who was the one who had spoken. His head was cocked to the side and he looked genuinely curious, but showed no other emotion. Dante, on the other hand, had gotten to his feet, his body tense. His face was flushed and his yellow eyes blazed beneath his silver eyebrows.

"My guardian was supposed to take me home for summer vacation, but he never showed up. By the time I began to realize he wasn't coming—" She made a helpless gesture with her hands.

Before she could answer, Dante tilted his head up and shut his eyes. "I hear nothing moving in this building," he said and Kagome could hear the anger building in his voice. When his eyes flew open, he turned his burning gaze back on Kagome, who this time flinched from him. "You are here at this school all by yourself, aren't you?" he demanded angrily.

By this time, Kagome had backed up against the wall, her eyes wide with fright. Dante was so tall, so powerfully built and massive, that she felt utterly dwarfed by his sheer size. With his anger thrown into the mix, she began to wonder if she would come out of this alive.

A polite clearing of a throat was enough to distract Kagome and she looked sharply over at Ty, who had resumed his former sitting position with his arms and legs crossed. Unlike her, Ty seemed completely unfazed by the much larger man's temper.

"Dante," he began in a very calm voice, "go upstairs to the roof and take a breather. When you have composed yourself, we will take this young lady out for dinner." He paused and added with a glance at Kagome, "That is, if you would like to go. Naturally, we would not make you do anything you do not want to do." He looked at her as if daring her to say otherwise.

The ensuing change in Dante's mood was quite dramatic, which left Kagome very impressed with the younger man. Evidently, Ty knew exactly how to handle his big brother—which was a good thing, since Dante looked as if he could take down an elephant single-handed.

The engaging smile returned to Dante's face and his entire body relaxed. "Of course, Ty, you're right. I'll be right back, Kagome. Please think about having dinner with us." With a wave of his hand, he was gone. Just as she thought, he had to duck down in order to pass through the doorway.

The silence that followed Dante's departure was long. All she could do was stare at the empty doorway and wonder what the hell had just happened. When she was about to say something to break the silence, Ty spoke.

"You must forgive my brother," he said in the same calming tone he has just spoken to his brother, "but he can get very protective at times."

Kagome looked at Ty, startled. Could this guy read her thoughts? But that was impossible. Of course it was. They were brothers and brothers would know how the other reacted in certain situations. That's all.

Ty's head was cocked to the side again. He regarded her steadily. "We have two younger sisters, you see," he explained. "Dante has always been overprotective where they are concerned. If they had been put in the situation you've been left in, he would probably kill the one responsible."

This blunt explanation brought a gasp to her lips. Her hands flew to her mouth before she could stop them. Why would he tell her such terrible things, especially about his own brother?

Ty blinked. "Because they are true," he said, as though she had spoken aloud. "Don't worry. Dante would never hurt you. I think he has gotten rather attached to you." He unfolded his arms and legs and got to his feet. "I will wait for you outside." He headed for the door.

"Wait!" she cried and began to scramble out of bed. But her legs were tangled in the sheets and that caused her to fall forward. At that moment, Ty was in front of her to catch her before she hit the ground. Funny thing was, she could have sworn he was just about to walk out of the room. How could he have moved so fast?

"Yes?" He set her on her feet and stared down at her. His blue gaze was cool, without emotion, beneath a halo of golden blond hair. He was quite intimidating despite the fact he was not nearly the size of either Dante or Draco. Ty was shorter than both of them—but still taller than she—and he had a slighter build which seemed to possess a wiry strength. At least, that is what she thought when she gripped his forearms when he caught her and set her on her feet. His arms felt firm beneath her fingers.

"You… you answered a question that I did not ask out loud."

"Yes?" he asked again. He still looked blandly at her.

"Can you…? Is it possible that…?"

He stared at her, his features remaining as impassive as ever. "Are you asking if I can read your thoughts?" he asked.

"Well, yes."

"The answer is yes," he replied without hesitation.

Her eyes widened. So it was true! "How is that possible?" she breathed, awestruck that this man could read people's minds.

Ty shrugged. "My mother has the same gift," he said nonchalantly. "It is an inherited trait although I cannot clearly read everyone's mind, although humans are much simpler to read than either youkai or elves." When she looked at him questioningly, he said: "Your brains are not nearly as complicated as ours, if you pardon my bluntness."

"Oh, I see." Kagome felt a little disappointed. She had hoped there was more to it than that but she got the sense he did not wish to speak further on the subject. Since it appeared there were no more questions regarding his mind reading ability, Ty turned to leave again. "Wait! Where are you going?" she cried, a little panicked. After all this time being alone, she did not want to lose the company.

He turned to look at her. "I did not suppose you wanted me in here while you changed." When he saw that she looked blankly at him, he sighed. "Would you like to have dinner with us? Although I probably should order that you do." His laser-like gaze returned and this time it swept up and down her body; not in a lustful way, but in the same way a doctor looks at his patient to see if there is anything amiss.

"Why is that?"

"Because I am the one who healed you, that is why. It would be nice to know that my handiwork will not be undone so quickly," he replied and left her to get dressed for dinner.

ooooo

The steak and fries she was served that night was the best food she had ever eaten. Dante had ordered for all three of them and when the food arrived, Kagome was astounded by the amount of food he had ordered for himself. Before him were six rib-eye steaks cooked medium rare, three huge helpings of roasted garlic mashed potatoes, a loaf of freshly baked bread with at least a pound of butter on the side, and — as though to appease a reproachful-looking Ty— a solitary helping of broccoli.

Kagome could only stare as the demon tore through his food with a zeal that would have made any chef worth his salt sob with appreciation. Although she could hardly say anything against his gigantic appetite; she was hard-pressed not to devour her own food at nearly the same rate as Dante. It was only the occasional gentle clearing of the throat by Ty that kept her from eating too fast. Each time she would look at him and her face would flush slightly under his watchful gaze and she would force herself to chew more slowly.

Dante, however, was under no such compunction despite the glares that his brother sent in his direction. When he finished the last bite of food, Dante set down his fork and knife and sat back with a sigh of satisfaction.

"Now that was delicious," he declared and rubbed his stomach. He smiled and glanced around the table at his brother and Kagome. "Who's ready for dessert?"

Kagome, who looked down at her own empty plate, timidly raised her hand. "I would like some, please," she said quietly. "If that's okay." When Ty glanced over at her, she flinched and pinched her lips shut. He raised his eyebrows.

"Don't you say a word, Ty," commanded Dante when he saw that his brother was about to open his mouth to speak. He leaned over and rubbed the top of Kagome's head. "Now what would you like, honey? Anything you want, it's yours."

Ty shrugged. "She can have whatever she wants, of course," he replied quietly. "I just don't want her eating too much. The past couple of weeks she's hardly eaten at all. Too much food too soon could make her sick." He picked up his glass and sipped slowly at his water.

Dante and Kagome looked at each other and Dante rolled his eyes. Kagome giggled and Dante hailed their waiter to order dessert.

ooooooooooooooo

oooooooooooooooo

Hiro was taking a stroll in the palace gardens one exceptionally warm and breezy afternoon when he came across a silent and thoughtful-looking Inuyasha sitting under a large oak tree. The spot he had chosen overlooked a small but lush green valley below. When the hanyou did not turn or even acknowledge him, an amused Hiro sat down beside Inuyasha and leaned back against the trunk.

"I think there must be some bald sheep somewhere," remarked the elf lightly.

Startled, Inuyasha whipped around and stared wide-eyed at the emperor. "What?" he choked out. "What bald sheep? Where?"

Hiro struggled to keep a straight face but his resolve did not last. He began to laugh and shook his head. "You were wool-gathering," he explained.

There was a blank look on the hanyou's face for an instant, but it soon cleared and he began to laugh too. "I get it. Bald sheep… wool-gathering. Yes, that's funny." The laughter soon faded and he turned back around to stare out over the landscape again. "Bald sheep," he repeated softly, this time he seemed distracted.

"Is there something the matter?" Hiro inquired curiously. He had noticed that for a short while now, Inuyasha had not been himself. Although to be honest, Inuyasha had never really been himself since Kagome died. It was as though she had taken a large part of him with her when she passed away and he had not been whole since. There had been a light in his eyes when Kagome had agreed to marry him, but that light had been extinguished the day she died. It had been heartbreaking to see such a vibrant person wither away so swiftly before Hiro's eyes.

"We found her," Inuyasha said in the same soft voice.

Her. That single word started the elf king's heart racing madly. The moment that word fell from Inuyasha's lips, it did not take Hiro long to figure out who her was. "Where is she? When did you see her?" He sounded calm even though his heart was racing with excitement.

Dark brows knitted together over molten eyes. "Draco came to see his father one day. He had a sealed letter with him which he gave to Sess. He said it was from a girl he attended school with. We found out she was from the Ohayashi clan."

"Ohayashi," Hiro murmured softly. The name rang a bell, albeit a distant one. "It sounds vaguely familiar," he admitted finally.

"It should. The Ohayashi clan is directly descended from Sango, the demon slayer and Miroku, the monk. If you recall, she and her brother were the only ones to survive after Naraku slaughtered their entire village."

The emperor nodded slowly, his memory returning. "Of course, I remember now. Her brother's name was Kohaku, I believe. Poor boy, he had a Shikon shard in his back."

"To keep him alive, yes," Inuyasha said. "It had to be removed so the jewel could be made whole again, so he had to die in the end."

"Poor boy," Hiro repeated sadly.

"Yes. It was hard to hear of his passing. I felt terrible for Sango." A shadow passed over Inuyasha's face. Sango, he recalled, had been inconsolable upon hearing of his death. Not even Miroku had been able to make her tears cease for a long time.

"But at least her family did not die out completely," Hiro remarked after a moment of heavy silence. "She and the monk had children, did they not?"

The hanyou smiled. "Oh yes, they did. They lived out their days in peace for the most part." His smile trembled and faded. "I had to watch them grow old and die," he said, his voice straining with emotion. "With each year that came and went, they grew older as I remained young. After Kagome, Miroku was my best friend," he choked out. "When we all fought together, side by side, I never once dreamed that that lecherous yet powerful monk would one day be an old man who would end up breathing his last breath in my… in my arms." Inuyasha quickly turned his head away so Hiro could not see the tears that spilled down his face.

"I can only imagine how hard that would be," the emperor said tenderly.

After a long moment, Inuyasha managed to compose himself and he turned back to look at Hiro. "So, they had children," he went on as though nothing had broken his train of thought, "several children, in fact. All of them were trained as Sango had been by her father. One, however, chose to follow in his father's footsteps."

Hiro nodded. "One became a monk," he said and stretched out his legs in front of him. A sweetly scented breeze rustled his robes as the warm sun bathed the land in its gentle rays. He loved this world.

"Yes. After Kaede passed away, there was no one to look after the shrine. Miroku was the obvious choice and he was put in charge after the villagers requested that he take Kaede's place. So naturally, when Miroku grew older, they wanted someone to replace him when the time came."

Again Hiro nodded but said nothing and Inuyasha continued. "It was Miroku's youngest son who took his place and as time went on he took a wife as well and had children. One of his sons took his place and so it went on down through time. The family name changed to Higurashi about a century before Kagome and Souta were born."

There was another long silence but it was Hiro who broke it. He had been staring hard at Inuyasha, who seemed utterly lost in his own world and did not seem to even notice that emperor of the elves was sitting right beside him.

"Was the shrine ever moved?" asked Hiro. His voice was low and even and it concealed his excitement. This was something he had never realized before and it interested him greatly.

Still staring blindly out into space, Inuyasha shook his head. The shrine, he informed Hiro, was in the same exact spot it had been over five centuries earlier.

"So," began Hiro cautiously, "what you are saying is that the Higurashi shrine is the same one Kaede had been in charge of?"

"Yes."

"I see." It was Hiro's turn to stare off into space. His mind was swirling with this new information. "Then that means Kagome and her brother Souta were descendents of Miroku and Sango."

Inuyasha nodded. "Yes. I did not come to know this until she was born." He frowned again. "It was surreal, watching her grow from an infant to the teenage girl who was pulled into the well. Of course, as soon as that happened, I had to stay away from the shrine so my past self and my present self would never meet."

Hiro nodded and continued to stare at the hanyou. They had gone completely off topic but that was alright since he learned a couple of things within the past few minutes. He decided to steer the topic of conversation back to where they had been before Inuyasha had led them both down a bunny trail.

"So where is she?" Hiro asked, his gaze never leaving Inuyasha's solemn face.

The hanyou sighed, as though he really had no desire to answer the question. "She's in Hawaii, on the island of Oahu. It seems she is attending a private school there."

"She goes to school with the girl from the Ohayashi clan?"

Nodding, Inuyasha sighed again, a heavy resigned sigh. "Yes. The girl's name is Sango, by the way."

Hiro stared at the hanyou with surprise. He recalled that the name of the taijiya who had traveled with Inuyasha and Kagome was named Sango as well. "Are you serious?"

"Completely."

The elf chuckled softly. "Well, I'll be damned. What are the odds of that?"

Inuyasha did not answer so Hiro continued to study him. After a moment he said: "If you will pardon my saying so, it seemed to me that you did not want to tell me where you found her."

The silver head nodded once. "You're right, Hiro. I did not."

"Would you mind telling me why?"

Before Inuyasha could answer, a strong breeze came out of nowhere, shaking the branches of the oak tree. Several leaves floated down around them, one of which landed directly on top of Inuyasha's head. The hanyou frowned, his ears twitched and he reached up to pluck the offending leaf from his head.

"It's very simple, your highness," murmured Inuyasha, who made of show of studying the leaf closely. "Your brother is her guardian who, in his great wisdom, deemed it fit to spirit her away from all of us who love her and would die to protect her." With an impatient flick of his wrist, Inuyasha tossed the leaf away as he leveled a yellow gaze on Hiro. "I have this feeling you would go running back to Yuki and tell him she had been found. You would do that, wouldn't you?"

Hiro shook his head. "No, I would not."

With a disbelieving snort, Inuyasha shook his head. "You expect me to believe that? He's your brother—"

"What a difference does that make?" Hiro asked, a frown furrowing his brow. "Do you think I approve of the way he has handled this situation, the way he feels he must run her life? I have never liked how he spirited that little girl away or what he did to Yuri."

"So you've known all along where she has been?" Inuyasha's voice was sharp, accusing. The wind began to blow harder around them.

Knowing it would do either of them no good at all to get angry— especially since he could feel himself calling the winds – Hiro said in a quiet voice: "I have had no idea where she was, this I swear to you. If I did, believe me, Yuri would not have gone all these years with not knowing where Kagome was or if she was alright."

That was the right thing to say to Inuyasha. At the mention of the hanyou's stepdaughter, his anger evaporated. He simply stared at Hiro for a minute before turning away, his gaze going back to the valley before them.

"You do realize that I can't, in good conscience, keep the knowledge of her whereabouts to myself." The hanyou glanced back at Hiro. "Kagome has family; a family who loves her and misses her. Her family wants her back."

Knowing it would be best not to say anything. Hiro nodded. Just because he was ruler of this world and the head of the elven race, he had no say about the welfare of one human girl. As Inuyasha had rightly pointed out, Kagome had family.

"Yuki does realize that he could lose her, right? She is not an elf and she does not have to marry him if she chooses not to. Yes, I know what your brother plans to do with her, Hiro, and it sickens me." He glanced away, a small smile on his face. "My guess is that once she is reunited with Yuri, he won't have a snowball's chance on an open flame." The smile widened, revealing sharp white teeth, letting Hiro know that Inuyasha could not wait for that eventuality.

At that moment, Inuyasha got to his feet and stretched. "You promise to keep this conversation to yourself?" he asked casually, but the sideways glance he cast at Hiro was clearly a warning.

The emperor, who remained seated, nodded solemnly. "You have my word, Inuyasha. It will be as though this conversation never happened."

"On behalf of Miroku and Yuri, I thank you," Inuyasha said, bowing to Hiro.

oooooooooooooooo

After a very wonderful and filling dinner with Draco's elder brothers, Kagome fully expected to be taken back to school and dropped off. As she indulged on an exquisite and delicious ice cream dessert, she created an elaborate speech on how grateful she was for the kindness shown to her. But their taxi did not end up at the school. When they pulled up in front of the Hilton on Waikiki Beach, Kagome glanced at the brothers in alarm.

"What are we doing here?" she asked Ty. Even though she knew she should have addressed Dante, who was the elder brother, she felt as though it was Ty who was in charge.

Ty exited the cab before turning to help Kagome out. Dante remained in the car and for some inexplicable reason Kagome felt a spark of panic. She did not want to be left alone with Ty. Dante, bless him, seemed to sense her distress and rolled down the window. With a reassuring smile he said: "Don't worry, honey, you'll be fine. I'll join you guys shortly."

"But where are you going? Why did you bring me here?" She grabbed onto the car door through the open back seat window.

The pale giant youkai covered her small hand with his. "Do you really think we would return you to that empty school? I'd never forgive myself if something were to happen to you. So," he glanced up at the hotel behind Kagome and Ty. "We thought it would be best to bring you here where you can be looked after." He lifted his hand and gently touched her face. "Go with Ty, honey. He'll see you settled in while I go get some of your things."

With a nod, Kagome pulled away from the cab. Dante retreated from the window and shot her a wink just as the cab drove away. She watched him drive away until she felt a hand on her arm. Startled, she turned to find Ty watching her with his blue, emotionless eyes. As they walked into the luxurious hotel together, she wondered if he could tell that being around him made her nervous.

But as soon as the thought crossed her mind, she froze and her eyes went instantly to him. She stopped in her tracks.

The man beside her also stopped. He sighed. "There is no need to be nervous in my presence. As I said before, I am not a monster." Those cool, impassive eyes turned on her.

"I am so sorry," she breathed. Kagome could feel her face turn a bright red. "I forgot you could…you… I'm sorry."

"It is fine," he said dismissively and continued to the front desk where he requested a room for her.

ooo

By the time Dante arrived with her belongings, Kagome was nearly mad with panic. For some reason, she was simply unable to relax in his younger brother's presence. Prior to Dante's arrival, Ty had been seated placidly in the seating area and watching a show on the large flat screen television that hung on one wall. Kagome, on the other hand, sat outside on the balcony where she stared out over the beach and those famous blue Waikiki waters now black under the night sky.

When she began to feel as though Dante would never arrive, there was a slight noise on the darkened end of the balcony and Dante emerged from the darkness. His massive frame moved silently towards her. Clutched in one large hand was her suitcase.

"Hi honey," he greeted her with a smile. But before she could reply, his smile faded and he frowned. "What's wrong? What are you worried about?" He glanced at the open balcony doors and stared hard at Ty, who remained seated as his big brother strode into the room. "Ty? What's going on?"

But Ty did not turn around. He continued to watch the television. "Perhaps I should have been the one to retrieve her belongings," he said quietly.

"Huh?" Dante stared at his brother for a moment before turning to glance sharply at Kagome, who had remained outside on the balcony. The look of confusion on Dante's face made Kagome turn away from him. When he looked back at his brother, Ty was on his feet, arms crossed over his chest.

"It appears that the young lady prefers your company to mine, Dante. My presence seems to make her uncomfortable."

"Are you kidding?" Dante's eyebrows shot up. He chuckled and moved to set the suitcase down on the king-size bed with its downy comforter and large, plump pillows. "How can she not like you? Your warm and sparkling personality makes you a hit with all the ladies!"

From behind him, Dante could hear a delightful little giggle which brought a broad smile to his face. When Ty did not reply, he shook his head and plopped down on the bed beside the suitcase. After a couple of exploratory bounces, Dante declared that the bed was extremely comfortable. "I predict that you will have a very restful night," he pronounced cheerfully. "You should try this out."

Cautiously, Kagome came into the room, shut the doors behind her and joined Dante on the bed. As soon as she sat down, Ty turned on his heel and left the room. The moment the door closed behind his brother, Dante sighed and looked at Kagome. She sat beside him her shoulders slumped with her gaze fixed firmly on the floor.

"He really is a nice guy," he told her gently. "Now I know he can be a little off-putting with his creepy, unblinking stares and the way he can read your mind. Oh yeah, he's done that to me too," he said with a shake of his head. "Of course, it's a lot harder for him to do since I'm youkai but he managed to pull it off. Let me tell you that totally freaked me out." His lips twisted up into a rueful grin. "The only other person I know who can do that is my mother. Some ability, huh?" He gently nudged Kagome with his elbow. She responded with a small smile and a timid nod but did not look at him.

When a few minutes of heavy silence passed without a word, Dante spoke again. "Did he do something to you to make you uncomfortable? Was it something he said?"

Kagome shook her head despondently. Frowning, Dante put his arm around her shoulders and gave her a small squeeze. "Then what's the matter? While my brother can be a bit on the strange side, he would never hurt anyone. Ty is one of the gentlest people I know. When you're with him, you can believe you are completely safe."

"Safe from what?"

The softly uttered question took Dante aback. Very slowly he lowered his arm from around her. "Did he do something?" he asked her warily.

Again, Kagome shook her head. "No, he didn't do anything to me. It's just…" She trailed off.

"It's just what? C'mon honey, you can tell me."

After a moment, Kagome shrugged. "I don't know. I think I'm more comfortable with you, that's all." She turned to look up at him. "You're nicer, Dante. You have a warm personality whereas Ty is a bit… well, he's a bit cold." Kagome's gaze went past Dante to the hotel room door. "Do you think he heard me? I would hate for him to hear what I just said."

Dante shook his head. "No, I heard him heading toward the elevators." He stared thoughtfully at the closed room door.

As he stared at the door, Kagome stared at Dante, who was so like Draco in appearance. But Draco was nowhere near as impressive as his eldest brother. While she studied him, Kagome began to laugh. The moment the first sound of laughter reached his ears, Dante turned back to look at her, one silver eyebrow cocked upwards.

"What's funny?" he asked, his voice rumbling in his chest. It sounded like a growl.

When Kagome was able to control her laughter, she wiped her eyes and shook her head. "Nothing. I was just thinking how comfortable I am with you as opposed to your brother… but then I remembered that I only met the both of you for the first time a few hours ago." She burst into laughter again. "How can I be comfortable with strangers?"

Dante got to his feet, an uneasy look on his face. "I don't see how that is funny."

By now, Kagome had covered her face with her hands. She was bent over double; her slender shoulders were shaking with emotion. He frowned but it quickly disappeared when a peculiar scent hit his sensitive nose. He was on his knees in an instant. His large hands went to her wrists and very gently pulled them away from her face. The scent of her tears was nearly overwhelming.

"Oh honey, please don't cry!" he pleaded softly. "I can't stand to see you like this. You should be smiling, not crying." He cupped her face in his hands and gently wiped the tears from her cheeks with his thumbs.

"You… you are so kind," she managed to say through her tears. "Why are you being so nice to me?" She squeezed her eyes shut which sent a rush of fresh tears cascading down her face. "You don't even know me." Her face crumpled and she burst out: "I've been alone for so long on this stupid island! I'm so tired of being alone!"

Kagome's eyes flew open and she stared helplessly at the large youkai who continued to kneel in front of her. With a shaking hand, she wiped the tears away from her face with vicious swipes. "He left me all alone! I had no money, no food, no passport and no way to leave this place! Do you know he won't let me use the internet? He has even denied me a cell phone! How did he think I was going to survive on my own the entire summer?"

When she began to sob again, Dante scooped her into his arms and embraced her. "I don't know who he is, but you don't have to worry about being alone for the summer. Me and Ty, we've got some time off the next few months so we'll be here with you." He kissed the top of her head. "We won't let you be alone. I promise."

His words seemed to have a calming effect on her. She wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her face against his neck. "Just so you know, he is my guardian," she murmured. Her body relaxed against him and rested her head on his shoulder.

Her guardian? Dante darkened with anger. "What's his name?" he asked as calmly as he could. At this moment, he would cheerfully snap this motherfucker's neck. Some guardian.

"Hmm?" Kagome lifted her head in order to look into Dante's face. "Yuki-sama," she replied obediently, albeit sleepily. She yawned mightily and once more rested her head against his shoulder.

Dante frowned. Yuki was a common enough name; at least, in Japan it was common and this girl was undoubtedly Japanese. This little bit of information was not much of a clue. Feeling her beginning to slip into sleep little by little, he very gently lay her down on the bed.

"Kagome?" Dante lightly brushed her hair from her face.

"Hm?" She was losing consciousness quickly.

"What is Yuki's family name?"

But Kagome did not reply. She was fast asleep.

"Damn it," he hissed and moved away from the bed and began to pace. At that moment, the door opened and Ty came back into the room. In one hand he carried a brown paper bag in one hand and in the other, a large lidded Styrofoam cup. His gaze rested on Kagome's sleeping form for the briefest of moments before turning his attention back to Dante.

"Calm down," Ty told his brother in hushed tones and thrust the bag and cup in Dante's direction. "Here, eat up."

With a grateful smile, Dante took the items and headed for the balcony. Ty followed him outside and closed the doors behind them. They sat down on wrought iron patio chairs; Dante set his meal down on the glass-topped circular table between them.

"What's the matter?" Ty asked quietly as his brother delved into the paper bag and retrieved a very delicious smelling hamburger. After a few bites, Dante replied.

"Nothing. I was trying to find out who her guardian is."

Across the table, Ty exhaled sharply through his nose. Dante glanced over at his brother, mouth full of food, his yellow eyes questioning. There was a tiny smirk on Ty's normally stoic face.

Dante swallowed the wad of meat and bread in his mouth. "What's so funny?"

"You are, big brother." Ty leaned back in his chair and stared up into the expanse of night sky. "You amuse me."

The youkai scowled. "Well? Aren't you going to tell me why I'm so bloody hilarious?"

Ty turned his face to Dante's and smiled blindingly at him, an expression very few individuals had ever seen. All the battles with huge and numerous demons he had fought against and slain never made him flinch the way he flinched now from his own brother. He set down his hamburger and eyed Ty warily. Not even their own mother had ever been blessed with such a smile.

"What the hell is wrong with you? Damn it, Ty, don't look at me that way."

When Ty began to laugh, Dante actually got up and moved away from the table and his food. Nothing and no one had ever kept Dante from his food.

"Nothing is wrong," Ty replied in a soothing voice. "I assure you that I am fine."

Dante blinked. "But you laughed. You never laugh." His voice was accusatory, suspicious.

Another laugh from Ty filled the night air. "Calm down, Dante. Nothing is wrong with me, I promise."

"Then what's with the laughter? You're creeping me out, man." He resumed his seat slowly, keeping his eyes fixed on his brother with a wary expression. "You know I hate it when you switch emotions on me. It throws me completely off."

He frowned deeply when he saw Ty make an attempt to school his amusement-filled face into a stern façade. "Okay, now you're just mocking me," he grunted unhappily before returning to his half-eaten burger.

With his usual blank expression now firmly back in place, Ty settled comfortably back in his chair. "If you must know, it is your lack of memory is what amused me, brother."

Dante, who was in the middle of rummaging around in the greasy paper bag for his French fries, stopped and stared at Ty. "I forgot something?" He looked perplexed. "What did I forget?" His hand retrieved what he was looking for from the bag and he set the container of potato-y goodness on the table.

Ty shrugged nonchalantly. "The name of her guardian," he replied simply.

After he shoved a wad of French fries into his mouth, Dante muttered: "I didn't forget. It was Yuki- or whatever." He chewed thoughtfully for a moment then nodded as if in agreement with what he had been thinking. "Yeah, it was definitely Yuki."

"Not his given name. His family name."

Dante's chewing ceased. "Oh yeah, that's right." He frowned in deep thought. "But she never told me what it was, so how would you expect me to remember something she never told me?"

Ty chuckled softly and Dante's eyes shot him an apprehensive look. "What?" he demanded.

"We know Yuki's family name and furthermore, we know Yuki." Ty leveled a meaningful look at his brother, who had backed away from his meal yet again.

"Yuki." Dante stared for a long time at his brother. When the realization finally dawned on him, he got up from his chair and went to stand at the balcony railing. "Oh my god," he said, his breath coming out of him slowly. "Her guardian… is our cousin."

Watching Dante from his chair Ty sighed, relieved that his brother had remembered at last. "Yes," he murmured.

Without turning around Dante whispered, more to himself than to his brother, "He left this child all by herself. How could he? How could he do such a thing?" His hands gripped the railing so tightly his knuckles showed white.

"Hey, settle down," Ty told him sternly though calmly. "There is no need to go on a rampage. She is fine now."

"She's fine now." Dante snorted derisively. "She wasn't fine when we found her. That poor child was unconscious and injured, remember?" His entire body was rigid although his hands were shaking. Ty could feel his youkai brother's rage. He could almost taste it.

"But she is fine, brother. We found her, I healed her, we fed her and now she is sleeping peacefully in the room behind us." Ty's voice was low and comforting. "Go, look in on her."

Dante hesitated a moment but did as Ty commanded. Through the red-tinted haze he saw Kagome sleeping peacefully on her bed. So intent was his study of her that he did not detect when Ty came to stand beside him. When he did, he jumped slightly.

"You know not to sneak up on me," he growled irritably. "I might hurt you."

Ty put a reassuring hand on his shoulder. "I know you would not hurt me," he countered softly. "But you see? She is just fine. With us here, no harm can befall her."

With a grunt, Dante ran a hand through his fine, silver hair. He knew his brother was right; Ty always was.

"No, I am not." Ty dropped his hand from Dante's broad shoulder. "I am not perfect. No one is."

Baring his fangs, Dante turned on his brother. "Stop doing that!" he hissed. "Stay out of my head."

Anyone else would have taken several steps back when Dante decided to show his pointy white fangs, but Ty merely stood where he was and stared blandly up at him. "How can I do that when your brain was practically screaming it at me? It was loud and clear this time so I could not help hearing it."

"Whatever."

The two stood side by side in front of the glass doors and continued to stare into the room.

"If a helicopter were to fly by," Ty remarked suddenly, "we would look very strange just standing here like this."

Dante blinked at his brother then laughed. "Yeah, no kidding! I bet we look like a couple of boobs who locked themselves out their room and can't get back in."

Ty merely smiled but continued to stare in through the glass. More to the point, he continued to stare at the slumbering girl on the bed. Dante noticed this and stepped away back to the table where his after-dinner snack was still sitting. By now it was cold but his stomach growled and he picked up his hamburger once more.

"Did you tell her we would remain here with her for the remainder of the summer?" Ty asked. He spoke casually.

"I did," Dante replied, his mouth full of food.

"Okay. Good." Ty moved away from the glass doors at last and went to the balcony where he stared out over the darkened beach and black water. The night air felt wonderful. He tipped his head back and shut his eyes, enjoying the wind which was blowing in from the ocean. It rustled his fair hair. "That is good."

Dante finished off his cold burger with one last bite. "She calmed down when I told her. I think it was a relief to her to know that she wouldn't have to worry about anything anymore. Or worry about being alone." He crumpled the burger wrapper in his hand and stuffed it in the bag. "I still want to punch him in throat, you know," he said with glance at his hands. They curved into claws. "Or rip out his throat. I really haven't decided which."

"Let us not think of such things right now. I, for one, would like to get some sleep." Ty yawned and stretched, his hands reaching for the star-filled sky. "Are you ready to go?"

"Sure. I just need to leave Kagome a note telling her where we are." Dante scooped up his trash and balled it up. He picked his cup up and drained it in a few gulps. "You got us a room next door, right?"

"Of course." Ty glanced over to their left to the balcony within jumping distance from the one they were standing on.

"Hey, do you realize Kagome was the girl Draco took to our house? I can't believe it took me so long to put two and two together."

"I can believe it."

"Man, fuck you. Give me a minute and I'll join you."

Ty gave a short nod and leapt the distance to the other balcony. Dante watched his brother enter their room through the balcony doors before he entered the doors of Kagome's room. He moved quickly but silently through the room in search of a pen and some paper. He soon found both items and jotted down a few lines, telling her not to panic, that he and Ty were in the room next to hers and should she need them for her to call them. Dante put down his cell phone number then left the note beside her bed on the bedside table, just underneath the room phone. After assuring himself that she was indeed alright, he took one long look at her before locking her room door then exiting through the balcony doors.

ooooooooooooo

ooooooooooooo

In Kagome's empty room at school, a solitary figure stood silently among the trees outside the academy's walls. This person stared up at the top row of windows, patiently waiting for some sign of life within that room.

But after a long time of waiting, patience had run out. Where was she?

The figure dropped low on its haunches before leaping up, shooting upwards in complete defiance of gravity until it reached her window, which was wide open.

She was not there.

But where could she be? The figure shook his head, a movement which sent pale, shimmering locks tumbling around its back and shoulders.

Panic began to set in. What could have happened to her? Where could she be? Had something happened to her?

He came the rest of the way into the window and glanced almost instantly at the clock on her dresser. It was after 11pm. This was unlike her, to be out this late. She was always in at this time. Always…

A strange, unwelcome scent pervaded his nostrils and he sniffed the air. The panic was immediately replaced by seething rage. A demon had been in here. No scent of fear could be detected so that meant she had gone with this demon willingly.

In the dark, he stood quite still as the rage swept over him but he managed to remain calm. She was still on the island, he was certain of it.

All he had to do was find her.