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Sometimes it struck her as weird to say the least. She was fifteen, round it up to sixteen if you will, which still doesn't really make the feelings sit any easier inside her. Logically, even girls in her own era have children at this age. Not like it was socially accepted though. Those teenage mothers were still stigmatized terribly and it wasn't unheard of for them to be disowned by their family.

On the rare occasions she had to join her three school friends on a shopping trip, Kagome would find herself lingering outside children stores while the girls gushed over music idol merch. She'd wonder if the little kitsune under her care would like that toy, or if youkai children actually wore material clothing versus them just being a glamour. She would want to get him mittens for when the weather gets chilly but then a voice in her head that sounded suspiciously like a certain hanyou would mutter 'demons don't get cold!'. If her friends noticed anything different about the shift in her shopping patterns, they didn't bring it up.

Once, she did cave and brought back a wide length of hair ribbon. A deep blue with a repeating pattern of acorns in bronze-gold thread. That night, in the glow of the fire, she'd sat an excited Shippou down, gently brushing out his copper hair and re-tied it with his new gift. His gaze twinkled with happiness at her when he turned around, little paws patting at the crown of his head carefully, a suspicious sheen creeping over his emerald eyes. He'd then declared in a slightly mischievous voice that now he had something of Kagome's to wear too, just like Inuyasha did. That had the half-demon stuttering and flushing, but it didn't prevent Kagome from seeing how his clawed hand flew subconsciously to the nenju.

It wasn't until a few nights later, in the privacy of a hot bath, did Sango explaining the ways of youkai claiming ownership of their own. And how, that was exactly what Shippou and perhaps Inuyasha too, thought of the things she'd given them––however unwittingly in the hanyou's case––to wear on their persons.

Shippou was a friend, yet more. He was almost like Souta, but not quite like a sibling either. Kagome felt a certain protectiveness, a certain responsibility that felt somehow different. He was also attached to her in a way that ran deeper than with Sango or Miroku. And though they fought to hell and high heaven, the young fox also treated Inuyasha in much the same manner as herself, however subtle it was. Perhaps it was because the two of them had found him first, before the others came along.

Kagome definitely noticed but haven't ever brought attention to it for fear of Inuyasha's reaction. She opted to secretly watch it grow, nurture it if she could, and let it warm her soul. There would be days, if it rained especially hard, he'd sweep her up to shelter her and then discreetly would also drape a long red sleeve over a certain shivering ball of fur. There would be nights, when she awoke to no kitsune in her sleeping bag, she'd feel not one, but two shades of youki perched up high, one bigger, flared strong and one tiny one tucked up in it.

Not so long ago, she thought youkai were make-belief nonsense from her grandpa's stories, but then they became an intrinsic part of her life. Kagome watched the two of them now, as she peeped over the edge of the textbook that hid her fond, knowing smile. The latest toy that'd captured her eye was a daruma otoshi, a game that encouraged playing with others. Souta and herself had a set of their own that had occupied their attention for many afternoons. Crouched under a nearby tree, two endearingly identical expressions peered at the stack of wooden blocks, pink tongues peeking out of fanged mouths in concentration. It was Shippou's turn with the hammer.

Kagome had worried the game would be too easy for demon reflexes but apparently not so. It warmed her heart to see Inuyasha play too, knowing how he must have had a childhood largely stolen from him.

Kagome pondered what it was again, this strange growing feeling towards Shippou, that would creep up when she watched him like this. When she asked Mama about it, she only got a knowing smile in return, a ruffle of her bangs and that she shouldn't fuss over it, to just let it evolve on its own.

Sometimes you are just given certain things in life. No need to label it. Whatever it is, this that was between her, Shippou and Inuyasha, was gifted to her. It was difficult to admit, but delusional to not acknowledge how much constant danger they were in-–with Naraku only getting stronger–-a tomorrow isn't a guarantee.

Shaking her head to dispel the gloom, she resumed observing the two most beloved youkai in the world. She would treasure this moment–them, her entire life, however long she was blessed with.







Nenju - the rosary beads Inuyasha wears. The 'kotodama' bit denotes the incantation/spell on the beads. The full term used is 'kotodama no nenju'

Daruma otoshi - traditional Japanese toy. Imagine a stack of cylindrical blocks/disks with the top most one having a drawn face (the daruma). The objective is to take turns hitting out the bottom disks with a hammer but having the entire stack fall down intact and upright.

A/N: I'm on a mushy, emotional roll with these. I almost made myself cry writing this.

I'm of the camp that Kagome and Shippou are not quite parent-child but not quite sibling or friend. And irl relationships are of all kinds anyways, doesn't matter so much what to call it if there's love right?

Also, this marks the last chapter I have that was previously written and edited before uploading on AO3. From now on updates will likely be a bit more sporadic for this fic.

Any ideas for 'Firsts', send my way please :)