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Painter in the woods by Hairann

Painter in the woods

Disclaimer: Inuyasha and all of it's characters are property of the brilliant Takahashi-sama and I claim no ownership of them. Only the story belongs to me.

This is an advanced reading, kind of like advanced screening for movies. For the next two weeks this is the only site I will be posting this story on. Enjoy.

Special thanks to my betas PockyThief , TheMikoShivae and Kiyota .

The sky was quickly becoming a dark gray, rain threatening to fall to the earth at any moment. Overhead, thunder could already be heard roaring in the distance, a promise of what was soon to come.

The bitter wind blew, rustling the leaves on the trees overhead and threatening to uproot them. All of this, however, the young woman, making her way through the forest, took no notice of.

She had but one thing on her mind at that moment in time: find Souta. Her little brother had disappeared about an hour ago, not long after they had arrived at the cabin, in search of something to keep himself occupied since their mother had refused to allow him to bring his Gameboy with him on the trip.

And so it was left up to Kagome, the young woman currently trekking through the woods and hoping to be within the safety of the cabin before the storm broke, to go and find him. Truthfully she didn't mind too much. She had missed being in the untouched wild in the three years since she had stopped traveling back and forth between the present and 500 years in the past.

And though she was sure she wouldn't have to deal with most of the worries she would have had to face in the past - random demons attacking, bandits attacking out of nowhere, humans, demons and hanyou alike trying to take the jewel shards from her - she still did not feel as safe as she did when she was surrounded by her friends. In the safety that Inuyasha had provided.

Stopping in her tracks, Kagome turned her face to the heavens and allowed a pleasant smile to grace her lips. It was the same smile she had worn for the last three years. It was a true smile, but it wasn't anything like the ones she had worn before. It wasn't the carefree, never having anything to fear smiles she'd shown when she was 15 and first pulled down the well into a time long forgotten.

It wasn't the 'I believe you could do anything and feel safe in your arms' smile she bestowed only to her best friend Inuyasha. The sisterly smile she graced Miroku and Sango with. Even the cheerful one she gave to Shippo whenever the kit did something she saw as adorable. Not the radiant one that shone on the day the evil hanyou had been destroyed, ridding the world of his taint. Or the one promising to always remember and love them, the one she had graced them with the last time she saw them.

No, it was her new smile. The 'that chapter of my life is closed, but I will forever remember the lessons they taught, the friendships they shared and the family they had become' smile. Her mother told her the smile made her look older, wiser. That she was proud of the woman her daughter had become, but still wished for her little girl. Just for her, Kagome would smile her innocent 15-year-old smile.

Sighing softly, Kagome lowered her head and continued her trek through the dense foliage that littered the forest floor. As every new day passed, she was even more grateful that she could look back on the last six years without regret. Of course she still missed the family she left in the past, but she had completed her purpose, her destiny.

She saw the end of the evil hanyou, the completion of the Shikon no Tama, Sango's wedding with Miroku, the end of his curse. She had witnessed Inuyasha telling her he loved her, not as a lover but as a friend, as family, something she knew he sorely lacked. She had heard his promise to move on from the once again dead priestess and to find love again.

His promise to protect Shippo and to teach him to become a demon Kagome could be proud of. Heard the whispered words, before she jumped into the well the last time, Inuyasha calling Shippo his son and the light that shone in the young kit's eyes. She had even been there to celebrate the mating of Kouga and Ayame.

When she first crossed back over into her own time, she had searched and waited everyday hoping to see some sign of her friends still living in this time, those with demon blood at least. Weeks had turned into months and still there had been no sign and she began to fear that none of them had lived to this point.

That night had been the first time she had smiled her new signature smile. She had cried until her eyes were red and puffy and her sobs became more of a whimper. An innocent comment from Souta had changed everything and the way Kagome looked out on her new life. She couldn't remember his exact words, but the meaning still held firm in her mind, every moment of every day.

Their destinies had been too intertwined for them to never cross paths again. Kagome believed in reincarnation and karma, as did the rest of her family, and she knew that even if she never saw them in the lives she knew them as, she would one day meet them again. Kagome believe this unconditionally.

Kagome knew she might have to deal with Kikyou's karma, seeing as she was her past life, but she was sure with everything she had done for the good of everyone in the past, that she had wiped out the bad karma, if not tipped it to the side of good. Kagome wasn't self-centered, far from it in fact, but she knew that saving the world from death and destruction had to amount to a large sum of good karma.

If risking your life everyday, trying to correct a mistake you made when you could have easily walked away, giving up on your education, which had been the most important thing in her life, taking responsibility for the things that were only your fault indirectly, spending the majority of three years away from your family, doing whatever it took to stop evil from becoming even more powerful and turning the world into something as dark and tainted as he was, was not enough to fix any bad karma she might have had, Kagome didn't think anything would.

She would see them again, one way or another; it was only a matter of time. This thought brought another smile to her lips as she glanced around and noticed she had found herself in a clearing with a small, rundown hut directly in the middle. She doubted anyone lived there, but it was just the place to keep her brother occupied.

Deciding to at least check it out before turning back to see if Souta had returned to the cabin where their mother waited, Kagome began heading toward the small hut. Overhead another clap of thunder sounded, causing her to jump slightly, as the first rain drop hit her nose. 'Hopefully this will hold up through the storm,' Kagome thought after deciding to wait out the storm in the hut.

It had to at least be slightly dryer and warmer then it was becoming out here in the open. Glancing up at the hut once again, Kagome took in its aged appearance. Half dead vines climbed its walls, warped and rotten boards covered the windows and the door seemed to only be held on by one hinge. A few feet from the door, Kagome could smell the stale air coming from inside, slightly stronger than that of the rain.

Wiping another raindrop off of her face, Kagome reached up, pushing the door in before entering the dwelling. Turning around, she lifted and pushed the door back into place, praying it will hold at least until the storm had passed. Blowing air at her bangs that were slightly matted to her forehead from the rain, she turned around to take in the interior of the hut.

It wasn't in any better shape than the outside. Paint was chipped and peeling off of the walls, the wood underneath had clearly begun rotting. A thick layer of dust covered everything, not that there was much in the room. A disused fireplace, an upturned, half-broken table, a chair whose four legs were broken off and a carpet so worn and dirty that Kagome was unable to tell what the original design had been.

Glancing back at the floor, Kagome noticed that some of the dust had been disturbed, meaning Souta or perhaps someone else had been here lately, but from the looks of it they had already left. Deciding to use some of the dry wood that was still sitting in the fireplace to help her see all of the corners in the room and to warm her up, Kagome pulled the lighter she still carried out of her backpack.

It wasn't long before she had a roaring fire going and leaned over to warm her hands, careful not to put them too close to the fire. Once she had warmed up considerably, Kagome turned to glance around the room again to see if she had missed anything on her first inspection. Which turned out to be a few things by the looks of it.

On the far back wall was another door, though in much better condition than the front door, so Kagome figured it led to a back room rather than outside. As she went to check the room, in case the hut wasn't as empty as she had thought, her attention was caught by something off in the corner of the room. Walking over to it, Kagome noticed it was a painting easel.

Placed upon it was a partially completed painting, oil based by the looks of it. The background depicted a large, green field covered in wild flowers. The dark sky was filled with bright stars and in the center of the back was a large full moon, the kind she had only ever see in the past. The only part incomplete, was the figure standing front and center in the painting.

Moving closer, Kagome made sure not to touch the painting as she got a better look at the figure. It was a girl. Long raven hair flowing over her shoulders and pale ivory skin were the only characteristics that had been completed leaving Kagome unable to discover the eye color and what she was wearing. Though by the looks of it, it was probably a dress or even a kimono.

'Add brown eyes and my old school uniform and that could almost be me back in the Feudal Era a few years ago,' Kagome thought to herself with a smirk before noticing something she had missed on the girl. She had almost dismissed it, thought perhaps it was a reflection of the light or even supposed to be because of the wind. But it wasn't, the girl had a small ponytail on the side of her head.

"Rin. That looks like Rin," Kagome decided, having to stop herself from running her fingers across the painting. It had been over four years since she had seen the little girl that followed after the demon lord. Their paths hadn't crossed since before the death of Naraku and she knew Inuyasha would never agree to letting her look for his half-brother so she could say goodbye to the girl, but she had left a note with him in case their paths did cross again.

"Strange, add a couple of years since the last time I saw her and that could easily be Rin," Kagome mumbled to herself before standing back up and stretching her back.

"What are you doing?" a voice demanded from behind her, causing her to jump and hold her hand over her heart. Bending over slightly, Kagome tried to get her breathing back under control.

"I'm sorry I didn't know anyone was here. I was just trying to get out of the storm. Did you paint that? It's very lovely. Reminds me of someone I used to know., Kagome explained in a rush as she bowed politely.

"You couldn't possibly have known her, she died over 400 years ago," the man, if the deep, rich voice was anything to go by, spat back at her as he turned and started to go back through the door he had come from.

"If she lived that long ago, how could you have known her?" Kagome questioned without thinking, stopping the man in his tracks. Lightning flashed across the sky, lighting up the room through the cracks in the roof and Kagome could see the man had turned back to her. Her breath caught in her throat and her blood ran cold as she took in his features.

Long, white hair pulled back into a ponytail and sun-kissed golden eyes, she would have jumped for joy if not from one small problem, there were no fluffy, dog ears on the top of his head. 'White hair, golden eyes, pointed ears and a painting that looks remarkably like Rin...' Kagome went over mentally as her mind seem to catch up to what her eyes were seeing.

"Sesshoumaru..." Kagome breathed barely audible as she began to panic. His golden eyes widened slightly at the mention of his name and he took a step toward her, but Kagome didn't wait to see what he was going to do. She turned and fled out of the hut, forgetting the backpack she had set next to the fire, and ignoring the fact that it was now a downpour outside.

Forcefully opening the door, almost ripping out the last hinge, Kagome rushed out into the storm. In seconds she was soaked through but paid it no mind. She should have known not to run from the demon, not that she really had any chance of escaping if he came after her, but considering she had been standing in front of a long-time enemy, her actions weren't too surprising.

Ignoring her hair that began matting to her face, making it hard to see, the numbness that was settling over her as the cold wind blasted against her and the panic that was making it hard to think, Kagome just ran. She hadn't gotten far before another crash of lightning lit up the sky once again and she saw the demon looming a few feet from her, glaring at her, a menacing growl echoing around the clearing.

Skidding to a halt, Kagome slid on the mud, losing her balance and ending up landing on her backside. Staring up at the demon lord in front of her, she tried to get her breathing down to a not so erratic pace. "I know you," Sesshoumaru commented coldly as he began to stalk toward her. Kagome squeezed her eyes shut as he leaned over her and tried to fight the panic that was coming back to the surface.

Above her she could hear him inhale deeply, but refused to open her eyes. Seconds passed with the only sounds in the clearing being from the storm raging around them and the beating of Kagome's heart. "You traveled with my half-brother, did you not?" Sesshoumaru inquired, breaking the silence.

"Yes I did," Kagome replied, still refusing to open her eyes. After a moment, she felt his clawed hand on her chin, tilting her head so she would be looking into his eyes had hers been open. She could feel his hot breath cascading down on her face and against her better judgment she opened her eyes. Immediately she found herself staring into his golden eyes, his face mere inches from her own.

"How is it you still live girl? You should be over 400 years dead and buried," Sesshoumaru insisted, never taking his hand off her chin or adverting his eyes.

"I guess there's no harm in telling you now, it's not like you can use it against me anymore," Kagome decided, more to herself than the demon in front of her. "I'm a time traveler. I was born in this era and traveled back to your time. While it's been about 500 years for you, it's only been three since I was last in the past."

Sesshoumaru breathed in deeply through his nose and Kagome figured he was trying to find out if she was lying or not, Inuyasha used to do the same thing. "Why are you here?" he questioned after a few moments, seemingly deciding that she had been telling the truth.

"I told you, I was trying to get out of the storm before it hit. I was looking for my little brother, he took off not long after we arrived at the cabin we're going to be staying at," Kagome explained, still unable to advert her eyes or move since he still had her in his grasp.

"You knew who I am and what I am, why did you run? Did you really think you could out run me?" he inquired glaring down at her, like Kagome, ignoring the rain that continued to pelt against them.

"Why did I run? I don't know could it possibly be because I was standing in front of an enemy I hadn't seen in three years and no longer have my friends around to help protect me? I may be stronger than I was when I first went to the past, but I am not stupid enough to believe that I could defeat you. Not to mention I don't even have my bow and arrows with me.

"Sesshoumaru, you are the first demon I have seen in this time, with the exception of the Noh mask, I was stuck in a tiny hut with you and you have tried to kill me many times before. Is it really that surprising that I ran, whether I knew it was pointless if you decided to chase or not," Kagome replied stubbornly as the rain caused her to shiver.

"Come back inside," Sesshoumaru more demanded than asked as he released her and headed back into the hut. Kagome sat there confused for a moment, unsure if she should follow him or not, and decided to just listen to him for now. Better for him to be in a good mood because she was obeying than to find out if he would have forced her back inside. Besides if he was going to kill her, he would have done it already, right?

Pulling herself up to stand on her almost completely numb legs, Kagome turned and started back inside after him. Soon as she was inside, he placed the door back in place and dropped a board over it to keep it there. Walking over to the still roaring fire, Kagome began rubbing her hands together to try and get them to warm up.

"I assume you have a change of clothing?" he questioned and Kagome nodded in affirmative. "Then get dressed, I don't want some sick human on my hands," Sesshoumaru insisted and before Kagome could turn around to tell him she wasn't going to change with him in the room, he had already gone back through the door, leaving her alone.

Staring at the door for a moment to make sure he wasn't coming back out, not that she really thought he would want to peek just more used to having to deal with Miroku, Kagome reached down and started going through her backpack. Pulling out a gray sweat suit, Kagome quickly pulled off her wet clothes and changed in record time, for her at least.

Once finished, she hung her sopping wet ones above the fireplace and went back to warming her hands. A moment later the back door opened to reveal Sesshoumaru, having changed himself, standing there in a dark hakama and haori. He glanced over at her for a moment before walking over to sit down, leaning against the wall. Kagome wondered briefly why he wasn't worried about getting dirty with all the dust, but figured he didn't care, either that or the dust was too afraid to get on his person.

"Can I ask you a question?" Kagome inquired after a few moments of silence that was quickly getting on her nerves. Taking his silence as a yes, she continued, "Why are you here? I half-expected you to be some rich CEO or something living in a mansion. Not out in the woods in a run-down, dirty hut."

"I live here," was all he replied for a moment, but the look Kagome gave him clearly stated she wished for him to continue and with a barely audible sigh he did. "I have no desire to live near, let alone with humans. They began to overpopulate and rather than co-existing with them, or being hunted with their

weapons advancements, I came here."

"No, I don't suppose you would," Kagome replied, more to herself than to the demon across from her. "What happened to your lands? Does anyone else live here with you? A wife or kid maybe?"

"You asked your question already," he reminded her coolly as he stared across the room at her before turning his gaze to the fireplace beside her.

"Yeah I guess I did," Kagome replied with a soft laugh. "Just thinking we could talk to help pass the time, but if not, oh well," Kagome told him with a shrug as she settled back to lean against the wall, not caring about the dust that was sticking to her still wet hair.

After a few minutes of silence, Sesshoumaru seemingly got bored with the quiet since he began answering her questions. "I still own the West. Where do you think you are at the moment? But a big

home would attract unwanted people. I live alone, I have neither a mate or a pup."

"I suppose that makes sense. Why don't you have a mate? None meet your standards?"

"I began looking for one, however, none would accept Rin and her roll in my life. After her death, I no longer had need for company. Though Jaken does show up occasionally."

"Wow, Jaken's still around? Bet he's just as annoying as ever. If you don't mind me asking, what was Rin's role in your life? We could never really figure it out. I mean, it was strange to see the 'human-hating' demon lord walking around with a little, and very human, girl following him."

"Yes he is. first she was an experiment with Tenseiga. Then my ward, something to protect and be loyal to me. But in the end she was my daughter. I watched her grow, marry a human lord in my land, age and die. She had three children and lived to be around 80-years-old. On her deathbed she thanked me for allowing her to follow me."

"That sounds like Rin," Kagome replied with a smile as she thought back on the young girl she had met in the Feudal Era. She added another name to the list of friends she was able to think back on without regret. "What do you mean an experiment with Tenseiga though? Wouldn't she had to be dead for the fang to work on her?"

"Yes she was. After Inuyasha attacked me with the 'Wind Scar' for the first time, I met Rin while healing. The day I left, wolves attacked her village killing everyone, including her. It seems she was running back to where I had been when she was killed. I tested the fang on her and she followed me."

"After the first 'Wind Scar'?" Kagome questioned, more to herself, out loud. "That was right around the time we first met Kouga-kun."

"The wolf prince? It was his wolves that killed her."

"I didn't know that. I'm sorry." Kagome replied so softly that if he didn't have demon hearing he wouldn't have heard her, before averting her eyes away from him.

"What do you have to be sorry about?"

"Kouga-kun told me, after he kidnapped me, that he was in that village chasing a guy who had stolen one of his jewel shards. Since I shattered the jewel, it's indirectly my fault that Rin was killed," Kagome explained, still refusing to meet his gaze.

"Don't be sorry. Had Rin not died, I never would have used the fang on her and she wouldn't have become part of my pack. It turned out for the best," Sesshoumaru assured her, in what Kagome thought was a very uncharacteristic thing to do.

"Then I am glad my mistake did more than just ruin lives. Kami knows it did more than enough of that," Kagome replied before resting her head back against the wall supporting her and closed her eyes. "Do you have any idea what happened to Inuyasha?" Kagome inquired after a few moments of silence.

"I haven't heard from my brother in over 200 years. He took a human wife, she died birthing their first child. It did not survive either. After her death, he disappeared. I have heard nothing of him since," Sesshoumaru replied in a tone that showed no emotion. Whether the pain his brother went through had any affect on him or not, Kagome couldn't tell.

"Do you know of the others?" Kagome wondered after getting up the nerve to question the demon lord more. There was no telling when he might get annoyed or what he might do if he did, so she had to be careful not to set him off with too many questions.

"I know nothing of your human companions, they were beneath my notice. I saw the kit only once in passing roughly 300 years ago. I can tell you no more than he grew into an adult. I know not what happened to any others from the past."

"If demons still exist in this time, how come I can never sense any? I don't even feel any youki coming from you. Some kind of concealment?" Kagome questioned finally reopening her eyes and glancing over at him.

"There are very few pure breeds left, 100 by my last count. The reason you can not sense us is simple, if you do not use your youki it becomes dormant and practically undetectable."

"Wait, only a 100? But there were thousands of you 500 years ago." Kagome whispered as she stared at him in shock and disbelief.

"Human wars and weaponry mostly. As the humans became more advanced, more of my kind died. Others that were left mated with humans, diluting their bloodlines. A large amount of humans alive today have some demon blood coursing through their veins, but it's just not enough to do more than extend their life slightly."

"That's so sad. Sometimes I wish I could live in the past again. Things were so much simpler back then. Don't get me wrong, I love modern conveniences, but they fail in comparison to the beauty and grandeur that was the past. I would much rather deal with demons and bandits than nuclear warfare any day."

"Come with me. I can show you the past, if only for tonight." Sesshoumaru told her as he stood and began making his way into the back room. Shrugging, Kagome stood and followed after him. He opened the door and walked inside leaving Kagome standing in the doorway, the only light from the fireplace, barely illuminating the entryway.

After a moment, Sesshoumaru had lit a lantern, lighting the whole room. Kagome gasped as she took in her surroundings. Covering all of the walls were paintings of the past. Most depicted Rin, Jaken and the two-headed dragon that traveled with them. Others were of Inuyasha and her group.

Some were of battles while others were in a more relaxing setting. Though most were done in the oil based paint, some were done in charcoal and even still some were in pencil. Kagome was quick to pick her favorite. It was a charcoal of her and Inuyasha at the God Tree. He was reclining in the branches as she leaned against the trunk.

"It's beautiful. They all are. I never would have pegged you for having an artistic side," Kagome whispered as she remained transfixed on the paintings around her.

"There are many sides to each of us Kagome," Sesshoumaru whispered back, standing so close to her that his hot breath cascaded on her neck. "Let me live in the past, relive it with me."

"What do you mean?" Kagome questioned as she turned around to face him, the look in his eyes clearly explaining his meaning. "We weren't together in the past, in fact we were on opposite sides."

"But we were both there, close to the only ones left that were. Even if we fought against one another, we have history. Had you not been human, there might have been more to us then."

"I am still human Sesshoumaru, and that will never change."

"Yes, but it no longer matters. Live in the past with me tonight. Experience with me what might have been," Sesshoumaru whispered before quickly descending his lips onto hers, cutting off any answer she may have been about to give. Pulling back after a moment, Sesshoumaru searched her eyes with his own for her answer, but they betrayed nothing.

As he was about to give up, figuring she had decided against it, she softly nodded her head before kicking the door closed with her foot. Appreciation flashed within his amber orbs a moment before his lips crashed down upon hers again and he began pulling her toward the bed.

With a soft yawn, Kagome was pulled from her peaceful slumber. Stretching, she laid her arm across the bed next to her only to find the spot Sesshoumaru had slept in the night before was empty. Rolling over, she rubbed the sleep from her eyes and glanced around the room.

She found him off in a corner working on the painting she had seen in the other room. He had finished it and was writing the kanji for his name at the bottom. Slowly, she rose from the bed, wrapping the sheet she was covered in around her naked body and began making her way over toward him.

"It's beautiful," she whispered behind him as she took in the completed painting. He finished his signature before setting his brush down and glancing over his shoulder at her. "What time is it?" Kagome wondered as she glanced around remembering there were no windows in this room.

"Dawn will be soon," he told her as he stood and placed the painting off to the side to dry and placed a new canvas on the easel.

"Oh, shoot," Kagome gasped as she ran back toward the bed and began putting on her clothes from the night before. Sesshoumaru glanced back over his shoulder at her in question. "My mother's going to be worried. And I still got to make sure Souta made it back to the cabin last night. I'll come back as soon as I check in," Kagome assured as she placed the sheet back on the bed and walked over to him.

"Thank you for letting me live in the past last night," she whispered as she leaned down and pressed her lips against his temple. He gave her a slight nod but did not take his attention off of the painting he was now working on.

Kagome smiled softly before she headed back into the other room and grabbed her bag before heading back outside. The storm had stopped some time during the night, but the ground was still soaked through. Making sure not to slip on the mud, Kagome began running back in the direction she had come the night before.

It wasn't long before she arrived back at their cabin, the forest having past by her unnoticed. Opening the small wooden door, Kagome walked in to find her mother sitting down at the kitchen counter, a glass of tea in front of her. "There you are Kagome," she greeted as she stood and after giving her daughter a once over to make sure she was unharmed, she gave her a quick embrace.

"I'm sorry if I worried you mom, I got caught out in the storm and took shelter in an old abandoned hut. Did Souta make it back alright?" Kagome questioned, deciding there was no reason to tell her mother about Sesshoumaru and worrying her any more, as she sat down in the seat her mother offered and watched as she poured some tea for her, before placing it in front of her and retaking her seat next to her.

"Yes, Souta came home soon as the first drop hit. And I wasn't too worried Kagome. I think if I can handle you going into the past with demons and fighting for your life, then I can handle a night with you away. I know you can keep yourself safe. Besides it's good that I don't have to worry about you too much, now I can concentrate on your brother. And Kami knows he needs it."

"Well, glad I didn't worry you then," Kagome replied with a smile before taking a sip of her tea. "I remembered about half way back that I forgot the clothes I hung up last night to dry so I got to go back for them. I'll wait 'til I finish my tea though." Kagome told her with a smile as she raised the glass to her lips again.

"Take your time. Souta won't be up for a few hours still and I don't have anything planned until he's up. I'll see you when you get back," she told her with a smile as she stood, gave her another hug and began making her way into the back to take a shower.

Kagome finished off her tea and after rinsing out the two glasses, she threw a sweater on to ward off the cool morning air and began making her way back outside. It wasn't long before she found the path she had taken here and could easily follow her shoe prints in the mud back to the hut.

"Sesshoumaru?" Kagome called out as she pushed open the worn front door. "You still working on that painting?" she wondered out loud as she began making her way toward the door to the back room.

Pushing it open she found the room to be dark and quiet.

Grabbing a flashlight out of her bag, she quickly turned it on and shown it around the room. She found nothing. Absolutely nothing. No paintings covering the walls, no painting leaning against the wall to dry, no easel with a partially completed painting. The only thing in the room at all was a dusty old bed.

"What the?" Kagome wondered out loud as she shook her head and started back out of the room. "Did I go to the wrong hut?" Just as she wondered this, she glanced up to the fireplace and noticed the clothes she had hung to dry the night before were still there.

"No, this is the right hut, but where's Sesshoumaru? Where's all his paintings?" she questioned the empty hut around her as she walked over and began placing her clothes into her backpack. "I didn't imagine everything, did I? No, that's not possible. My imagination is not that good and even if it was, why would I imagine Sesshoumaru? No, there has to be another explanation." Kagome decided as she turned and started making her way back out of the hut.

Just as she got to the doorway, she stopped in her tracks. On the ground, leaning against the wall just to the right of the door, was a painting. Confused, Kagome reached down and picked it up. Unable to make out what was on it in the dim light of the hut, Kagome walked outside into the bright light of dawn.

Glancing back down at the painting, what she saw made Kagome's heart stop for a moment. She was the subject of the painting. Shown to be more beautiful than she could ever hope to be in life. It depicted her lying on the bed sleeping. Her naked back exposed by the sheets pulled just to above her backside. Eyes closed with her dark lashes fanning over her cheeks. A soft smile on her lips.

Kagome smiled as a single tear began to make a fiery trail down her cheek. Taking a deep breath, she glanced out to the horizon to watch the rising sun for a moment. Nodding her head once, Kagome whispered over her shoulder, "Thank you Sesshoumaru." Giving one last smile to the painting in her arms, she began walking back toward the cabin where her mother and brother were waiting for her.

Please R&R, good and bad reviews are welcome, however, I will ignore flames.


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