Epilogue: Home Forever

            The pain of death tore through me.  The demon's claw shattered my bones and eviscerated my most vital organs.  Spasms of pain rocked me from severed nerves, and blood flowed free inside of me.  As the last of my vitality faded out of existence, I knew I had failed.

            I'm sorry, Grandpa…

            I'm sorry, Mother…

            I'm sorry, Father…

            I'm sorry…Kagome…I was never worthy of your love…

            My soul detaches from its body and begins its trek into the darkness.  It hovers above the scene of carnage for a moment, long enough to see the bloody ruins of my physical body, and then begins to rise.

            Up through the clouds, and away from the land.  Up through the atmosphere, and away from the Earth.  Up through space, and away from the Sun.

            The cold of the universe surrounds me as I wonder.  Is this what death is like?  To be banished from your home to an exile among the stars?  Am I being punished for my failure?  Surely in Heaven, failing to save the life of an angel is a dire sin.  And that is what I have done.  Kagome will never know life again, and neither will I.  Yet I accept my fate.  I deserve to die, and I deserve the most hellish punishment that can be given by whoever rules Other World.

            My lonely spirit continues on into the outer edge of the solar system, and I watch disinterested as Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and finally Pluto streak by.  I pass through the Oort Cloud, and hundreds of angry comets surge through my form.  I pass on further, higher, my eyes seeing galaxies in the throes of birth, and the throes of death.  I see planets, and alien civilizations, and alien moons.  I see more galaxies, and then they too fade from view.  The surreal blackness becomes complete.

            But now, like the threshold between end of night and coming of dawn, the light changes.  The blackness changes to a light blue, then to gray with pink around the edges.  I can see the horizon, and in one spectacular moment…the Sun rises.

            I am completely in awe of its beauty, as it is unlike any Earthly sunrise.  It shines brighter, and with colors more true, but I am not blinded.  I feel my eyes growing stronger…and I feel the pain of life and death slip away.  I am covered now in golds and reds and oranges…and I can feel my very soul come back to life.

            Finally, I am able to see this place, and what a place it is!  Flowers…they dominate everything.  Flowers of every size and shape and color and hue.  Every species that has existed or will exist is here, waving gently in a sweet breeze under a divine sun.  I see trees as well, carrying all the fruits of the world.  Everything stretches on into eternity.  I see the sky above, a beautiful rich blue that promises never to rain.  I see rivers, and hills, and cascading waterfalls.  I see…Paradise?  Nirvana?  Heaven?  This place…it simply cannot be real!  I am not worthy of it!  Not at all…

            I sink to my knees, overcome with beauty, but also with anger.  This place is deserted.  Why should I be here if Kagome is not?  Has she gone to a better place than I?  If that is so, then this place is truly hell.  Nothing is sacred without her touch.

            "…Hojo-kun…"  An ethereal voice fills the skies and ripples though creation.  It is everywhere and resounding, yet naught is harmed.  It is voice that…reminds me.

            "…Hojo-kun…Welcome home…" the voice is still omnipresent, but is somehow closer.  And then…it is there…behind me.  I turn, and my soul is shaken by the appeared form.

            The form of ideal beauty…

            The form of peace…

            The form of the Holiest Angel…

            "Ka..gome..?"

            "Welcome, Hojo-kun.  Let your spirit be at rest…The time for war is over…"

            And then, the light consumes me, and our spirits are brought together by her hands.  She is so close to me; never could I have dreamed of this!  Her arms close and draw me tight into her pure white kimono.  Oh kami…I want this, I need this…After everything, to be able to have her is greater than the greatest dream, than the greatest miracle.

            But still I break her hold.  Still I push her away.  Still I turn away and shield my eyes from her light.

            "…What is the matter?  You fought for my soul, yet though you have it now, you reject it?"

            "Have ...your soul?  My love, I am not worthy.  I am a failure, and I have no right to interfere."

            "You have not failed.  No being can defeat Fate.  That was your opponent, not Naraku.  You lost for that reason, yet you did not fail.  You did what no one else would; many loved me, but you gave up everything.  And now you would even forfeit my hand, which is now yours forever."

            "Kagome…!  You cannot!  What of Inuyasha?  Is he not still your love?"

            "Inuyasha?  Hojo, come with me."

            Then, heaven fades away, stars and planets pass in the blink of an eye, and we are back in the forests and fields of Feudal Japan.  It is night, and I catch sight of Kagome walking away from me into a small grove of trees.  I walk forward down a trail.  All is silent.  Kagome continues to walk forward, and I rush to keep up with her.  I walk briskly until I am stopped by something off to the side of the trail.  It is clothing.  One blood-red kimono with matching pants and a white shirt, lying next to a white kimono and a red hakama.  Male's and female's clothing.  I continue on down the trail.  I see Kagome, standing in front of a tree with her back to me.  I trot up next to her and ask what is going on.  She motions toward the tree.  I look, and immediately flush with acute embarrassment. 

            At the base of the tree are a man and woman.  They are wearing nothing and are locked deeply into the throes of passion.  I quickly turn around…this is extremely improper, yet I can still hear their moans of pleasure. 

            "…Kagome?  Why have you brought me here?"

            "Look again, Hojo.  Don't you recognize them?"

            I do as I am told, and peek at the lustful couple, oblivious to our presence.  I stare hard.  I don't recognize the man, yet I notice that he has unnaturally white hair and…dog ears?  Hmmm…  Confused, I look next at the woman as she rolls the male onto his back and takes control of their passionate rite.  I see her long hair slicked with sweat, watch her arching body…and eventually recognize her.  It is Kikyo!  Dear Kami!

            "Kagome!  Kikyo is still alive?  And with Inuyasha?!"

            "Yes.  After all this time Inuyasha has made peace with his heart, and will stay with her until his final days."

            "Kagome…I'm so sorry…your heart must ache…"

            "No, it does not, for I too have made peace with myself.  He cared for me, yes, and even now keeps me in a small recess of his heart.  Yet he does not love me, nor I him.  We both have found the truth inside our own hearts, and know true love." 

            As she speaks, our spirits leap from the ground and streak back to the verdant fields of heaven, leaving the lovers to themselves.  Kagome stands with her back to me, and her head is bowed, mere feet away.  The she turns to me, and the full glory of her gaze is brought to bear upon my vision.

            "Kagome…"  I can only gasp as I sink to my knees in overwhelmed reverence of her beauty.

            "Hojo…I know now what only death could teach me…"  She draws close to me, her eyes level with mine, only inches away.  "I know now the truth…"

           

            "I know now…that I love you." 

            And finally, the time for words passes away forever.  Silence encompasses our spirits and we are linked for eternity.  We do not emulate the actions of the Earthbound lover, for the spirit knows no lustful hunger.  All that exists is pure love, the desire of spirit, the bond that can never be broken.

            I have fought for my love, and now she is mine.  Death's shadow has already passed over us, and never again can we be separated.

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Finally!  My first fic completed!  All that's left is to read and review. 

For those that may be wondering, the idea for this fic was partially inspired by the movie 12 Monkeys, though that wasn't really a romantic film.  Both my story and the film have the same theme and somewhat plotline: You can't change fate.  Pretty boring theme, but it's the truth.  In terms of plotline, those of you who have seen the movie will understand the similarities.