Well, this was slightly easier to write, partially because I adore Sango. I'm not sure I did introspective Inuyasha right, though. It's not a natural state for him, after all. ;D This story is going to end up being longer than I thought, I have to say. Kagome and Inuyasha have so much to say to each other (if I can manage to get him to actually say anything instead of, "Where the hell have you been?"). PG-13 for language again, and for Sango losing her temper.

Update: I was trying to get the next part started when I realized the reason Inuyasha was refusing to head over to the well was because this part wasn't finished yet. So now it's finished. :)

Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha, or else there would be lots of episodes of Sango kicking major ass.

***

It's not a dream so much as a memory relived. I remember that I stood on the edge of the village, mist swirling around me. I'd been summoned for the final time, to keep my promise. Kikyo stood before me, holding a slim, imperious hand out. "It's time to go." Her eyes flickered past me and she frowned. I turned around to see Kagome standing there, hands clasped in front of her.

"What are you doing?" I hissed at her.

She lifted her chin. "I'm coming with you."

I can handle being beaten up. Throw me into a wall, drop something on me, hit me with a big fucking bolt of magic, hell, anything, I can take it. But of course it's only Kagome who can knock me breathless with four words. I gaped at her for a few seconds before blurting out, "What? Are you crazy? You're not coming."

Kagome frowned at me. "Yes, I am."

"There is absolutely no fucking way I'm letting you go to hell!"

"You already said I could."

"The hell I did!"

"You said I could stay with you."

Well, that shut me up. Because I had said that, hadn't I? "When I said you could stay with me, I didn't think you'd be stupid enough to follow me into hell."

Kagome actually laughed. "But I am that stupid, Inuyasha. I said I'd stay with you, and I meant it. I never said that there were limitations."

I sputtered. Kikyo laughed now, and if Kagome's laughter was a sun-warmed brook's song, Kikyo's laughter was the chill music of icicle chimes. "You foolish girl. You know there's no room for you in our embrace. We will protect each other from the darkness: who will save you? You're willing to suffer the torments of the damned for eternity just to keep a promise?"

"Yes." Kagome walked over to me and touched my cheek gently. "Because I love him."

My heart tore open, and I closed my eyes. My instincts were screaming at me to protect her. But how? I couldn't break my promise to Kikyo, and Kagome was just damned stubborn enough to follow me no matter what I said. "Don't, Kagome. Don't." Don't do this to yourself. Don't do this to me. "I can't let you do this."

"I'm coming with you, no matter what."

I leaned my forehead against hers. Even the biggest sit she had ever given me was a fucking picnic next to this. "You're killing me, you know that?" She sucked in her breath. "I can't let you come with, Kagome. I can't think of you suffering like that. I can stand it if I'm alone, but not if you're there. Because I'd always be trying to save you, and then I'd be breaking my promise to Kikyo. So... I don't know what to do." I sighed. "I always knew you'd be the death of me."

We stood quietly, resting against each other. Whatever she decided, we couldn't go back from. This was forever. I could hear her heart beating. I'd never hear it again. "I love you," she whispered. "I always will." Kagome leaned up to kiss me, and as her lips touched mine, I felt a tug on the rosary around my neck. Beads rained down at my feet.

"Hey--!" I could taste her tears in my mouth. She pulled away from me and nodded at Kikyo. "Forgive me. Goodbye." And she walked away, towards the well.

"Kagome!" I lunged after her.

"I see you're quite prepared to be with me for all eternity," Kikyo remarked dryly.

Shit! I wheeled around.

Kikyo watched Kagome until she was gone. "That girl," she mused. "What is it about her? How did she manage to twine herself with your heart and soul more deeply than ever I did?"

"What are you talking about?"

"Can't you tell?" Drifting closer, Kikyo tapped a finger to my chest. "Even now, she's in your head. I could hold you in my embrace, in the depths of hell, until the world died, and you'd still be thinking of her. Why is that?"

Well, that was a discussion I wasn't going to have. I looked down into that familiar face. I'd loved her so much. But my life hadn't started until I'd met Kagome. "I'll come with you, Kikyo, because I said I would. But I'm not the boy I was."

She smiled sadly. "You're not, are you? It's just like that girl to steal everything from me. My soul, my life, my title, you. And now, even my final satisfaction. Ah, well." She turned and began to walk deeper into the village.

"Wait! Where are you going?"

"To the graveyard. Alone."

"I thought--"

"I vowed to drag the Inuyasha I loved and hated to hell with me. You are not him. So I find that I will have to go alone." Kikyo looked over her shoulder. "Goodbye, Inuyasha."

And both of them were gone.

***

Inuyasha snapped awake. I fucking hate that dream! His claws gouged the tree branch beneath him as he sucked in a quick breath. He frowned and sniffed the air again. Miroku and Sango at the well... incense... only Sango went back to the village? What the hell? His eyes narrowed. Did he actually--

He'd never moved so fast in his life.

Sango couldn't say she was surprised when a furious hanyou burst through the door and woke the children. Annoyed, but not surprised. Inuyasha's voice rose over the sobs.

"Sango, what the hell are you and Miroku up to?"

She sighed and shoved him firmly out the door. "I'm going to put the children back to sleep. You are going to wait outside. We will then discuss this in a quiet tone of voice. If you come back inside, I will knock you unconscious and pin you to the God Tree myself. Got that?"

Inuyasha rubbed the back of his neck. "Um. Sorry."

Sango grinned at him before she ducked back inside. "It's good to see you."

He thought he'd done a decent job of being patient--he'd only snarled at a few villagers who were looking at him just a little too curiously--but Sango was still shaking her head at him as she came back out of the hut. "I see four years of moping in the forest have done nothing for your social graces."

"Hey, I said I was sorry. How was I supposed to know that you guys had kids?"

"Well, you could have come to see us in those four years. That would have helped."

Inuyasha opened his mouth and closed it again. Sango smiled at him sweetly. "I know, I know. You were too busy sulking over Kagome."

"I was not sulki-- hey, what the hell were you guys doing at the well, anyway? And where did Miroku go?"

Sango rubbed the worn rosary beads around her right wrist unconsciously. "If everything went all right, he should be in Kagome's time."

"How the hell did you manage that?"

"He got this idea that if we told the well that the person who was supposed to go get her wasn't going to do it, it might let one of us."

Inuyasha nodded thoughtfully. "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard."

Sango jabbed him sharply in the ribs, making him yelp. "Well, if you'd done it like you were supposed to, we wouldn't have had to, now would we?"

"Huh, what makes you think she would've come back?"

"I'm trying to decide if you're being willfully stupid or if you really think that," Sango said at last. "We're talking about Kagome, remember?"

Inuyasha flattened his ears. "Yeah, and?"

"Okay, I give up." Sango threw up her hands. "You know she'd follow you to the ends of the earth if you asked her. You finally had a chance to be happy together--or as happy as you two get--and you thought that after two years of putting up with your shit no matter what, you decided she probably wasn't interested? I'm going to go find my husband and tell him he just wasted his time and energy, and if Kagome is back, I'm telling her not to give you the time of day because you obviously don't appreciate her." She stormed off towards the well. Three, two, one...

Sango dodged just in time as the growling red blur shot over her head. "You can't do that!" Inuyasha snarled, dropping into a crouch.

"Oh?" Sango said.

"No one's ever taking Kagome away from me again. Not even you."

"You say that like she actually means something to you."

"I love her, damn it!"

Sango sighed happily as her punch left Inuyasha sprawled in the dirt. Sorry, Kagome-chan, but I've wanted to do that for you for years. She planted a sandal neatly in his solar plexus and exerted just enough pressure to make the rest of the breath in his lungs huff out, then leaned over to smile sunnily. "Next time, you might want to tell her that, idiot." And she kept walking, rolling her shoulders contemplatively. Hmmm. That punch was a little weak. I wonder if I can sneak out with the Hiraikotsu sometime soon.

Inuyasha blinked up at the sky. Miroku married her? He's braver than I thought. I can't believe he actually went through the well to get... Kagome.... Oh, SHIT. Kagome. Here. "Hey, Sango? Maybe you should tell Kagome not to bother with me. It'd probably be better for everybody." He meant it to come out sounding brash, but something clamped his throat shut so he merely sounded desperate. I don't know what to say, we always have fights when she comes back, I don't want to make her leave again, I'm not panicking, I'm not panicking, I'm panicking. Damn it!

Sango's sandals scuffed next to his head. "Okay, you were Inuyasha a minute ago. What happened?"

"What do you mean, what happened? Maybe I just don't want to see her."

"Uh huh."

Inuyasha banged his head against the ground. "Look, I had perfectly good reasons for not going back to get her, okay?"

"You don't say?" Sango sat down next to Inuyasha's head. This should be interesting.

"She got to go home, didn't she? Her family would take care of her, and she could do her school thing. She didn't have to be afraid anymore. She didn't have to worry about" me "us anymore. She didn't have to fight anymore. She'd get over" me "us, wouldn't she? And then she could get on with her life the way she was meant to."

Sango sighed. "I know you want what's best for her, but did it ever occur to you that Kagome might have her own reasons for wanting to come back?"

"She thinks I'm dead." He could feel Sango turning that over in her head.

At last, she said dryly, "So, of course, when you decided that Kagome would be happier in her own time, you took into account her complete indifference to questions of your life or death."

Inuyasha winced. "She thought I went with Kikyo."

"Oh, that's even better." Sango shifted her weight, considering "accidentally" kicking him in the head. "That really never upsets her."

"I was trying to do the right thing, damn it! I meant to go with Kikyo, but she wouldn't take me because... because..."

Because you love Kagome. She sighed. "And then when you realized Kikyo wouldn't take you with her, you decided that you'd let Kagome go on thinking you were dead so she could be happy in her own time?"

"Well, what was I going to do? Drag her back here and tell her I couldn't live without her?" Yes, said a small treacherous voice inside his head.

Sango shook her head. Inuyasha, I love you like a brother, but sometimes, you're dumber than a bag of rocks. "Well, I want to see Kagome, so I'm going to go wait for her. Miroku probably already told her you're alive. I don't have any advice for you. I just want to ask you this: is the injury to your pride you'll receive from telling Kagome you love her more painful than how you'll feel spending the rest of your life without her?" She tried to stand up, and swore. "Damn pregnancies."

Inuyasha lifted Sango to her feet and looked down at her. "I... I don't...."

He looked so puzzled and lost, Sango gave in and hugged him, ignoring his start of surprise. "I've missed you," she said, voice muffled by his kimono. "We all have. No matter what happens, don't stay away, all right? Shippo's running out of stories to tell Miho and Kohaku about Uncle Inuyasha."

"Uncle Inuyasha?"

Sango stepped back so she could look him in the eye. "You're family. Deal with it." She kissed him on the cheek and turned to go.

"Hey, Sango." She glanced over her shoulder. Inuyasha grinned at her. "Miroku's a lucky bastard."

Sango winked at him. "Hopefully it runs in the family."