A/N: Dearest readers: I'm sorry for the delay of this chapter. I've actually had about half of it done for two weeks now, but I put it off so I could study for my finals. On another note in regards to my beta reader: I love her work, she's great with fine-tuning my less-than-perfect work, but she takes a great amount of time to do her perfecting. Because I am afraid that you will stop reading if I take forever, I'm putting this chapter out now. Forgive the errors--it will be replaced when the actual edited chapter gets back to me. Thanks for your understanding.

Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha or any of the characters there in. I do not own American Hi-Fi. All I own is my soul.

Chapter 16: The Arrow

"I wanna turn you on again,

Turn you around and maybe then tune you out."

"Kagome!" Before she had even fully closed the front door, Kagome was assaulted by two small, warm bodies. Shrieking, half laughing and half screaming, Kagome and her brothers fell backwards on to the floor.

"Souta, Shippou!" she laughed. "Let me get my coat off before you maul me."

"But you have to see what Momma got us for Christmas--"

"And you have to see what we have for you--"

"And then you have to see the tree--"

"And don't forget the gingerbread house--"

"Boys," a soft but firm voice called from the kitchen. "Why don't you go get Kagome's bags from the car while she takes off her coat?"

"Yes ma'am," they both chimed. Climbing up, Souta attempted to trip Shippou as they ran out the door. Shippou jumped on to Souta's back and they both ended up rolling around in the snow-covered front yard.

Kagome smiled, shook her head, and removed her coat. When she turned, she saw Sayaka standing in the doorway between the kitchen and the living room. She was no longer wearing white robes, or any kind of robes for that matter. This morning, she was dressed in sweat pants and a Christmas sweater--with snowmen and trees woven on with colorful red and green wool. Kagome was struck by the sight--something so normal. It was unlike her mother to act anything less than perfectly like a miko. She was formality if nothing else, yet here she looked like any other mother.

"Welcome home Kagome," Sayaka said with the ghost of a smile. Her eyes looked almost sad.

"Hello Mother," Kagome responded with a deep nod.

"Come," her mother offered, motioning with her arm toward the kitchen. "There is hot coco to be drunk, and things to be discussed before the boys attack you with season's wishes and demand gifts." Kagome smiled slightly, nodding, as she followed her mother into the kitchen.

The teen had to admit that their normally immaculate home was cluttered and laden with holiday cheer. Everything from holly and garlands were strewn about doorways and arches, giving it a true look of Christmas. And here Kagome had expected it to look rather barren without her there to decorate. In fact, it always had been her who went into the attic every year, dragging out box after box of decorations, and spent hours getting everything just right.

Seeing her decorations put up with love without her made a small, dark part of Kagome's heart wither in self-doubt. Was she really needed anywhere? If her family could get along so well without her, why had she struggled for so many years to make everything perfect for them?

Sayaka placed a steaming cup of coco in her hands before those thoughts could progress further. It was then that Kagome's mind shifted from the huge Christmas tree in the corner of the living room--a living one that made the entire house smell delightfully like pine--to her mother. Her mother looked different than she had when in the city for Kagome's birthday. She looked older than her thirty-six years, exponentially older. There were circles under her eyes as if she hadn't slept in days, and there was a tiredness in the way she walked. Kagome felt her instincts stir and hurried forward to pull out a chair at the table for her mother to sit in.

For her part, Sayaka smiled in gratitude as she settled into her seat, motioning for Kagome to join her. Looking over her shoulder, Kagome saw Souta and Shippou grab her bags from Rin's car and scurry up the stairs with them. There would be time to give them presents later. For the moment, she wanted desperately to speak with her mother. That in itself was enough for Kagome to take the offered seat. She held the coco in her hands as if it was the Holy Grail, letting the heat of the mug sink into her icy hands.

"How are you Kagome?" her mother asked, bringing Kagome's attentions back into focus.

"I am...well, Mother," Kagome said with a little hesitation. Sayaka fixed her with a level gaze. Her deep mahogany eyes seeing right through Kagome.

"How are you Kagome?" she asked again. There was no mark of impatience or anger, no sign of disappointment or ulterior motives. She was patiently waiting for her daughter to answer a simple question.

That in itself was daunting to Kagome. Finally, she let the exhaustion overwhelm her as she stared at her mother. Tired tears pushed their way to her eyes and she shook her head. "I don't know how I am," she said, choking back a sob and trying to compose herself. "I can't tell which way is up."

Sayaka reached across the table and took on her Kagome's hands in her own, holding it gently in a warm gesture that made her daughter's throat tighten. "You will find your feet, just like you always do, Kagome. You're a Higurashi."

That sounded like her mother, and Kagome felt a little more at ease. She nodded, using her free hand to brush the few stray tears from her cheeks. "I know."

"I heard about how you helped Aiko," Sayaka said conversationally, sipping on her coco as she patted Kagome's hand and withdrew her hold. "You did a good job."

Kagome smiled, eyes shining. All she had ever wanted was her mother's approval. She never stopped to wonder why her mother was giving it, why her mother was acting so different than she usually did. It never registered in Kagome's mind that when her mother got up to get some more coco, and her back was turned, a small silver scar at the back of her neck seemed to shine against the contrast of her skin. It was probably just a piece of tree tinsel, a trick of the light, because when Sayaka turned back, it was as if nothing had ever been there.

"Do you think I handled it well enough?" Kagome asked quietly.

"Of course. I have taken you on dozens of exorcisms, routine and extreme. You hold yourself with power, Kagome. You are the High Miko, and that alone will give you strength enough to face even the most difficult of challenges."

Kagome smiled brightly. She was about to continue their conversation, but Souta and Shippou barreled into the room and promptly ended the conversation. Sayaka shooed the three of them off into the living room to open gifts, play with toys, and act as they had acted so many times before on so many other Christmas days.

"I don't know how to make it real,

What ever you want it's no big deal"

Kagome was blissfully happy the rest of the day. Thoughts of Inuyasha, of the life of lies and guilt, all the doubts and sadness that had dragged her down for so long, were miles and miles away. All that was in focus was her family.

Souta and Shippou both fought for her attention, telling her all about what their mother had gotten them or what they had done on Christmas or who they had seen. Then, they made Kagome tell them all about Christmas in the city, about what Kaede had been up to, and all the presents Kagome had received.

That was when, as if on cue, she drew out a bag of brightly wrapped boxes and set them down before the two boys. Like starving wolves being handed a steak, they torn into the bag. Kagome retracted her hands quickly, for fear of losing them in the frenzy, but she was laughing good-heartedly. Once both boys had pulled out the various presents marked with their names on it, they left that bag in tatters, and the other present laying in the bag.

Kagome pulled it out and walked into the kitchen, handing the small green-wrapped gift to her mother with all the uncertainty that a small child has when giving a macaroni picture to their mother after their first day of kindergarten. Kagome had never given her mother a macaroni picture.

Sayaka, who had been watching the display from behind the counter, received the gift with a semi-surprised smile. She opened it slowly, meticulously. Each passing second making Kagome more and more nervous about whether or not her mother would appreciate the gift that her daughter had found.

When the paper fell away, Sayaka held in her hands a small pewter statue carved in the likeness of a young woman and a panther. Expecting such nonsense as one of those mugs with the pictures of children on it reading '#1 Mom' or such other wastes of money, she was delighted to find such a touchingly symbolic gesture.

"It's lovely Kagome," Sayaka said sincerely as she ran her fingers over the figure of the young woman, her dress long and elegant, small strokes of silver paint adorning her hair and clothes. The panther, outfitted with blue jewels for eyes, was accented with gold paint.

Kagome let out the breath she hadn't known she had been holding. "I'm glad you like it Mother. When I saw it, I thought of you and Daddy."

Sayaka nodded, getting up from her chair and moving over to a small cabinet in the living room. It held Rei's trophies and ribbons, all the awards he had fought for and received while he was alive. She opened the cabinet and placed the small statue in the center of the top shelf. Kagome felt a swell of pride in herself, that her gift was now on display for the world--or any part of said world that set foot into their living room--to see.

"Thank you Kagome," her mother said, placing a kiss on her daughter's cheek just as both boys bounded up to them with toys in hand. They claimed their sister's attention once more, long enough for them to present her with the gifts that had been left under the tree for her.

"Change my tone, I gotta disappear,

Don't wanna hear that sound on the radio"

The rest of her visit passed along those lines. Twice Kagome was called away because there had been need of the High Miko. Another, lesser, exorcism was performed and a ritual cleansing had to be performed for the marriage of Kagome's third of fourth cousin. She couldn't remember because she had only met the woman once.

Other than that, all of Kagome's time was spent in the company of her family. Her brothers had missed her sourly around the house, of that she was certain. They also kept hinting at the possibility of her coming home to stay again. Once or twice, Kagome caught herself thinking the same thing, but she shook her head firmly. She had to face things back in the city before she ran back home with her tail between her legs. First she'd settle things with Inuyasha, then she'd run away.

The day before she was set to return to the dojo, Kagome was feeling jittery and nervous. She was, at the same time, looking forward to returning and dreaded leaving this safe haven. It felt as though, in the company of her brothers and her mother, nothing bad from the outside could harm them. They were held in this little bubble of safety that would neither damn nor save them. It was just there to protect, keep all the bad things in Kagome's life from coming back in.

After she had tucked the boy into bed that night, she retreated to her room. Kagome through herself across her bed and stared at the poster of her father on the ceiling. The autographed one with the little hearts--the same one that hung on Inuyasha's door.

"Daddy," Kagome said to the poster. She did that sometimes, spoke to the poster as if her were real, flesh and blood, there to watch over and listen to her. "I wish you were here. I know that you could tell me what to do." She imagined her father cocking his head to one side as he did often when they had their little talks. His ears would swivel to give her his full attention and he would listen to her talk. So Kagome, enveloped in that feeling of safety that came from laying in her room and staring at her father's picture, told him everything that happened.

"So you see Daddy," Kagome said conversationally when she was done. "I'm scared of what I should do. I know that you'd tell me that I shouldn't think with my head, that I should go with my gut and my heart because those are what really matter, but I'm still scared." She sighed, hands folded over her stomach. "I know what I want to do, I'm more afraid of what I have to do."

There was a knock on her door, causing Kagome to jump and sit up as her mother entered. "Kagome," Sayaka said with a nod. "Would you come downstairs? I would like to talk to you about something."

"Sure," Kagome said with a nod. The corners of Sayaka's mouth lifted slightly as she closed the door and left. Kagome looked up at the poster with a lopsided smile. "You work fast, don't you?"

Then she got to her feet and followed her mother downstairs, into the kitchen. This was Kagome's moment of truth because she knew what her mother would ask. She had been avoiding the subject all week, but now it was time to come clean and tell her mother everything. Tell her that she would not be fulfilling her promise, that the Inutoya's would not meet their end at the hands of a Higurashi. It was only right, only fair. Her mother deserved the truth as much as Inuyasha, and only Kagome herself knew all sides of it.

Sayaka had her back to Kagome, busying herself with something or other in the sink. "You're leaving early tomorrow?" she asked.

"Yes," Kagome replied, nodding even though no one saw it.

"I want you to be straight with me Kagome," Sayaka said suddenly, her voice serious. "Do you intend to fulfill the promise you made to me?"

The moment of truth and Kagome found that her voice was caught in her throat. Every sense of Higurashi pride, every shred of love she had for her mother, was screaming that she say "Yes"! She shouldn't break her promise. Her loyalty lay with her mother, with her family, and no one else.

But then Kagome thought about how on her birthday, it was not her mother who held her when she cried, soaking wet and scared beyond thought. That had been Hime, an enemy. And it was not Sayaka Higurashi who made Rin's eyes light up, and make the shy girl strive to be the best that she could be the way no one else could. That was Sesshomaru, an enemy. Most of all, it was not Sayaka who bickered with her, and watched kung fu movies with her, and made her feel as though she was special just by being herself. That was Inuyasha, her enemy, her lover.

And as certain as she had been about to answer her mother's question with a yes, Kagome was now more certain than anything in her life that the answer was, "No." It came out as a whisper, a scared and weak whisper.

"What?" Sayaka asked, turning to face her daughter.

"No," Kagome said more firmly. Louder, with her heart. "I will not harm that family, and would have no other harm them for all the power in my veins."

"So you would break a vow made to your High Miko?" her mother asked, her voice turning icy. A tone Sayaka had never before used.

"You are no longer my High Miko," Kagome said, feeling the spike in her blood. Her powers were singing, some kind of sense that told her only ill would come of this.

"I am still your mother."

"But I am not a little girl," the daughter replied. "I am a woman, with my own power and my own mind."

Sayaka's eyes darkened; her expression still blank. "You made a promise to your mother. Does that mean nothing to you?"

"It means a lot to me, Mother," Kagome said calmly. She was surprised by just how utterly calm she felt. "But not enough to change my heart."

"What has heart to do with obligation?"

"What has vengeance to do with honor?"

"You will watch your tone when you speak to me," Sayaka snapped angrily. "I may not be High Miko, but I am still your mother and I deserve that respect."

They lapsed into silence for a few long moments. Kagome looked down at the tile on the counter, running her fingers over the pattern. When she spoke, it was quietly and thoughtfully. "Why did you bring Shippou home to us?"

"What?" Sayaka asked, taken aback and clearly confused.

Kagome looked up at her with a guarded expression. "Why did you bring Shippou here? There are hundreds of places you could have taken him, a place where an orphaned young demon could have grown up with his own kind. Why did you bring him to us, adopt him as your own son?"

Sayaka looked at her with a level expression. In many ways, both Higurashi women were exactly the same. From their pensive expression to the way they stood when facing off against something they perceived as a threat. Subtle gestures, expressions and mannerisms were the same as well as physical features. Still, for all the ways they were alike, neither of them could read the other.

"He reminded me of your father," Sayaka said at last, sounding defeated. "He has the same eyes...big and green and lost in a world so strange to him. It was the same when I met your father, when I was just a little girl. When I saw Shippou, alone and scared, I just...I needed that. I needed that reminder of Rei, and I found that in Shippou."

"But you love him...don't you?" Kagome was unsure of the answer, and Sayaka gazed at her sadly when she understood her daughter's uncertainty.

"I love him as if he were mine. I had hoped that was clear, at least."

"What if...one day...Shippou's aunt or uncle came looking for him, and took him away. What more, what if they hurt Souta or me because you took him. What would you do?"

Sayaka looked away. "That's not the same thing."

Kagome walked to her, taking her mother's hands in her own. Sayaka looked as if she would have liked to pull away, but Kagome's grip was firm. "I love you Mother," Kagome said quietly. "You will always be my only mother, and you will always have my love." Kagome shook her head, eyes sad. "But I will not take innocent lives in your name. They are good people. They can't suffer for the mistake made by a man who is gone."

Sayaka did pull back then. "You'd betray your father?"

"Momma," Kagome said, tears welling her eyes at another rejection. "You killed the man who killed Dad. He's gone. Dad was avenged. It's over." Sayaka shook her eyes, eyes glassy. "His family suffers the same as we do. They lost a father and a husband, too. You can't punish them for that!"

"Enough!" Sayaka said. It wasn't a scream, or a yell, or even overly commanding. It was simply spoken with such venom that Kagome's righteous indignation withered into nothingness. "I will not have you under my roof dictating moral beliefs to me. You have betrayed me, and betrayed your father's memory."

"I have done no such thing!" Kagome yelled in response.

Sayaka only gave her a level glare. "You protect your enemies. You choice them over your own flesh and blood." She paused to shake her head and Kagome was once more struck by how tired her mother appeared. It was as if she used up all her energy just yelling at her daughter. Quietly, steadily, she continued. "Tomorrow, after you leave, you will no longer be welcome in this house."

All the blood drained from Kagome's face. "Mother--"

"This is not up for discussion." Sayaka turned and walked from the room. "I no longer have a daughter."

Kagome watched her go. Watched her walk up the stairs, head held high with the same regal display she always wore when she was the High Miko. But now Kagome was the High Miko. Kagome was the one with the power. So why was she the one left standing in the dark, trembling while trying to hold in her sobs?

"You want me gone?" Kagome whispered into the dark. "I'll save you the trouble of seeing me off tomorrow!" Without thinking about how sad her brothers would be in the morning. Without thinking about what her grandmother would say when she walked into the dojo in the middle of the night. Without much thought of anything at all except the hurt in her heart that only her mother could inflict, Kagome stuffed her duffle bag with her clothes, slung it over her shoulder and walked out the door. A door she was never allowed to enter again.

"Yeah we could all hum along cause it's the same old song,

I don't know how to make it stop"

As a matter of fact, Kaede had nothing to say when Kagome came home in the wee hours of the morning. She was already asleep. When she came down for breakfast, she was startled to find her granddaughter sitting at the table, still wearing her leather jacket, downing tea faster than the kettle could boil water.

"Kagome, what's wrong?" her grandmother asked, pulling out the chair beside her.

"Everything," Kagome replied in a muffled voice, head buried in her arms and out of view.

"Kagome, look at me," Kaede commanded. Kagome's head came up and she fixed her grandmother with a sad stare. Her two-toned eyes were red and her face was blotchy. She looked to be wallowing in utter misery. "What happened?"

"Mom disowned me," Kagome said with a straight face, two second before bursting into tears again. Kaede held her and rocked her, telling her that everything would be alright and that she didn't need to cry. "It's all because I won't hurt Inuyasha or his family. How am I supposed to kill my boyfriend!?" she sobbed against her grandmother.

"Your mother is not herself anymore, Kagome," Kaede explained to her. "She doesn't understand."

"It's just unfair," Kagome cried.

"I know," Kaede told her with a heavy sigh. "I know."

"Go left to the dial to really rock,

But I'm not sure yeah, I'll kick it over anyway"

Kagome went to sleep that morning and didn't wake up for a long time. When she did get up, it was late afternoon, the day before she was to start school again. She wasn't particularly happy about that. She wasn't particularly happy about anything that day. Figuring it was better to get all the bad things over with at once, stew in it for a few months then die a happy death, she summoned her energy and called Inuyasha.

That was the reason why she was sitting in the gazebo at the park as the sun was setting. She was waiting for her boyfriend so she could tell him all the lies she had told. Kagome Higurashi: about to start the new year off with a bang.

She heard his car long before she saw it--or him for that matter. When it pulled up, he got slowly and purposefully. He didn't want to appear to eager--even though he was--or seem like her cared too much--which he did. His gait was the same as always, controlled and powerful, but there was an edge to it as well.

He was angry, and Kagome could tell that the moment he looked her way. It made her instinctively more afraid to tell him much of anything, but she deserved his anger. She deserved everything she was about to get.

"Hello," she said lamely when he walked to the entrance of the gazebo. He looked at her, golden eyes level and contained. Her heart fell.

"Hello," he responded tonelessly.

There was a moment of silence in which Kagome fought the first wave of tears. She had been crying a lot lately, and it was driving her crazy. Tears helped no one and did nothing but make her look weak. So she bit her bottom lip and ignored the urge. "I didn't think you'd come," she said quietly, sitting down again.

"For a moment there, I didn't think I should," he admitted, taking a seat across from her. He didn't think he should get too close, though he wanted to.

Kagome nodded and looked down. "I'm sorry I took off like I did. It was just...it was all too much."

"What was too much?" Inuyasha asked defensively.

Kagome looked up and met his eyes for the first time. "I didn't think you'd love me," she said honestly.

That took him back and he looked at her with shock and confusion. "I'm sorry...?"

"No, don't be sorry," she said, almost laughing or almost crying--he couldn't tell which. "It's my fault really. I encouraged it so much because you were the only person who ever...I don't know...made me feel like I could be loved. I was safe around you, and I fell in love with that, with you. So I stayed near you, wanted to be near you. It...made things so wrong."

"Kagome, what are you talking about?" Inuyasha asked, moving closer to her now. Half of him was feeling elated because she just admitted to loving him, but the other half of him was worried because he could sense something was very wrong here.

She was looking down again, at her hands. They were shaking. "I've lied to you," she said with pain in her voice. "I lied to all of you so many times that it makes me sick to my stomach."

Inuyasha perked at this and narrowed his eyes and looked at her thoughtfully. "Tell me," he said slowly. "Whatever it is you lied about, tell me, and I'll understand."

Kagome shook her head fiercely. "You won't forgive me, and I don't want you to. I just have to tell you the truth or I'll burst. Have to tell you the truth because you deserve it, deserve so much more than I gave you."

"I'm listening," he said quietly, laying a hand on her shoulder. Kagome brought one of her shaking hands up to cover his for a moment of contact, but then she pulled his hand off of her shoulder and got to her feet. She stalked to the other side of the gazebo, as far away from him as she could get while staying inside the structure.

"What do you know about Sayaka Higurashi?"

That had him dumbfounded. Of all the things running through his head about what her great secret could be, this totally threw him for a loop. For a few moments he openly stared at her before shaking his head. "She killed my father," he said, not comprehending the meaning, the connection, between his father's murderer and Kagome.

She simply nodded to herself glumly. "I know her," she said slowly. It was a beginning at least. It might be a little too much for him to say all at once, 'My mother killed your father and now she wanted me to kill you.'

Inuyasha was frozen for a long moment before he narrowed his eyes. "You know her?"

Kagome nodded. "Very well."

"You know she killed my father." It wasn't a question.

"Yes," Kagome said, no emotion in her voice. It was too tiring. She just wanted to get this over with so she could go home and cry some more. Maybe that would make her feel better about herself--once the truth was out. Somehow she doubted it.

"And you didn't tell me?"

"I was never going to. I was never supposed to care," Kagome breathed. "I was only supposed to come here, get close enough to know the routine, complete my mission, and then go home. Back to where I came from. I wasn't supposed to make friends, or fit in, or fall in love. This wasn't supposed to be my life."

"Where is she?" Inuyasha asked. When Kagome looked up at him, his eyes were harder than she had ever seen. A cold chill crept down her spine and she began to fear for her mother.

"I can't tell you that," Kagome said while shaking her head. "She is still under my protection."

"You'd protect that murder!" Inuyasha openly gaped. "Kagome, she killed my father."

"I am aware of that," she said seriously. "But revenge won't bring him back. It will only make you into someone like her."

"I don't care!" Inuyasha growled, pushing himself to his feet. "I was only fourteen when my father died. Fourteen. He was a great man and he didn't deserve what that bitch did to him!"

"He got what he deserved too!" Kagome yelled, her fragile state snapped beyond the breaking point.

"How can you say that?! You didn't even know him!"

"I didn't know him, but he still killed my father!" A silence fell over them. Inuyasha took a few steps back, eyes wide and head shaking.

"You're lying," he said in a whisper.

"I wish to God that I was," Kagome replied. "But I remember that day. My eighth birthday party...Mom and Dad leaving because a demon was loose in the neighborhood destroying things. Hours going by and Mom coming home, screaming that 'Tai killed Rei'." She paused, shaking her head. "Revenge destroyed what was left of my mother, and I almost let it destroy me."

"This can't be happening," Inuyasha prayed aloud, looking up at her. His face had gone pale and too many emotions to read passed through his eyes. Fear, sorrow, confusion, anger, disbelief, and then a cold understanding.

"I came here to get revenge in the name of my parents," Kagome said in a small voice. "I lied about who I was so that I could get close enough without getting too close. But I got too close and I couldn't do it. I couldn't hurt Rin or Kaede, or any of you that way." Kagome shook her head as if all her fears were slowly rising up and chasing after her. "I don't want to become my mother."

Inuyasha was slowly shaking his head, looking at her in a new way. Wary. Like he couldn't trust her. That hurt Kagome worse than if he'd been angry. "How could you not tell me this?"

Kagome shook her head. "I couldn't at first...but then, then I didn't want to." She paused to take a few deep breathes. "Now I figured I had nothing left to lose. My mother disowned me because I couldn't kill you. You'll hate me because I was supposed to kill you. Everyone will hate me because I lied. I can't see my brothers." She covered her face with her hands, half laughing and half sobbing. "I might as well kill myself."

Inuyasha, still adjusting to his new emotional turmoil, looked up at her with sympathy. Still, despite everything. Despite the pain and the anger and the disbelief, he couldn't deny that he was still in love with her...a little bit. So he got to his feet and walked toward her. With careful patience he would not have believed in himself, he pulled her hands from her face and tilted up her face. Pulling the sleeve of his jacket over his hand, he wiped her face dry of tears.

"I can't stand seeing women cry," he said, as if that was the reason for his behavior. Kagome looked at him with wide two-toned eyes, half hoping and half fearing what was going to happen next.

However, the next move was taken out of the hands of both teenagers. Out of the corner of her eye, Kagome saw something glinting in the darkness. Inuyasha was too intent upon her to see it, and it was partially behind him. Narrowing her eyes, Kagome saw the rough shape of a human in the bushes near the lake.

Then her eyes snapped wide. The person was holding a bow with an arrow notched in the string. The head, glinting and sharp and deadly, was looming right at Inuyasha. With only a second to react, Kagome did the only thing she could think of doing. She shrieked, pushing Inuyasha away from her with all her strength and jumping in front of him as a human shield.

Too bad human shields bleed.

The arrow, slicing through the air with a howling sound struck her in the stomach, embedding itself into her flesh. The shaft, sticking straight out of her abdomen, made Kagome almost laugh at how much she looked like one of those butterflies in museums, pinned to a board by a tack through their stomachs.

That was when the pain hit her. Like a tidal wave it enveloped her even as the front of her clothes became stained in red and she felt herself falling backward. Looking around wildly, Kagome caught sight of the shooter as they ran from the scene.

Inuyasha had gained his bearing just in time to see the arrow slam into Kagome. His horror manifested itself in an angry howl as he grabbed her before she hit the ground. She was already covered in blood. Looking up, Inuyasha saw the person who had shot the arrow scurry out from behind some thick bushes, but he couldn't give chase and take care of Kagome. Her life came first. With all the anger already in him breaking the boiling point, Inuyasha snarled angrily and yelled, "If she dies, I will track you down and rip you to pieces!" Whether they heard him or not, he didn't know.

"This...is...going...to...leave...a...mark," she said, breathing in between each word due to pain. Inuyasha gave her a forced smile as he looked her over.

"Oh God," he breathed, paling.

"That...bad?" she asked. She took a few gulping breaths and grabbed his arm. "So...sorry..." she whined, trying to make him understand.

"I know, I know," he said. Kagome nodded, then passed out. "Oh God," he swore again. There was no time. Quickly, Inuyasha scooped her into his arms and took off running. Please don't let her die.

"It's cool but you're starting to decay,

It's in your face,

You could watch me come undone"

Naraku sat in his dark room and smiled to himself. Sitting before him was a small wooden doll, almost like a puppet. Currently it was almost severed in half, only a small piece of wood held the two ends of the puppet together. He was smiling broadly as he took the puppet in his hands.

Standing beside him was Kanna, with a large mirror in her hands. In it, he watched Kagome being rushed to aid, an arrow in her body causing her life's blood to spill all over the hanyou who carried her. It was amusing, like a soap opera being played out in front of him.

Kagura burst into the room, her annoyance making the air crackle. "Okay you bastard, enough is enough!"

Naraku sighed, turning to look at her. "Sometimes I wonder why I put up with you," he commented aloud.

"My sparkling conversation," she snapped. She received two deadpan looks and rolled her ruby eyes. "Everyone's a critic."

"Do you have something relevant to say?"

Kagura bristled. "Can I get the girl now? You've had your fun, you've played with her mind enough."

"Not quite," he said with a smile. "There is still a little more to do."

Kagura sighed loudly, disapprovingly. "It has to be soon!" Kagura reminded him. "I can feel the Jewel's pulsing the same as you can."

Naraku growled. "Kagura, you'd do wise to watch your tongue."

The wind demon scowled. "You'd do well to stop playing your head games and finish this."

Naraku turned to Kanna with a sigh. "Would you take your sister and wait for me in your rooms? We'll be starting within the next day or so."

Kanna bowed and walked to Kagura, taking her hand in her own and steering them both to the hallway. "You'd better start soon!" Kagura threatened.

Naraku rubbed his temples. "Such an impetuous demon, but good help is hard to come by." He reached a hand into the collar of his shirt and pulled out the violet jewel that hung around his neck. It was pulsing slightly, tied to the fate of the woman struck by the arrow. "Soon, my wait will be over," he said to the jewel before tucking it back into his shirt. It pulsated near his heart, making him feel heady with power. "But that doesn't mean I can't enjoy the meantime."

He held up the small puppet and broke it in half. There was a flash of silver light and it dissolved into dust in his palms. Naraku grinned happily, sadistically. "Well, I've cut the puppet's strings, let's see how long she can dance without them."

"You could hum along,

I wanna turn you on again,

Turn you around and maybe then"

A/N: Well, here is the end of the chapter. It was with use of the American Hi-Fi song Hi-Fi Killer. No responses this chapter, but there will be next one. Please remember to review!