It was the first beautiful day in what seemed like years that didn't seem like a taunt to Kagome. She sat back on the riverbank and splashed her feet in the river, while minnows flitted around her toes. The sun was warm on her face.

Everything's finally back to normal, she thought, smiling. Inuyasha's back with us, and soon we'll be going after the jewel shards. No wait -- not everything is normal. The Tetsusaiga is still gone. And when we're ready, we'll be going off to try to find it before continuing the battle against Naraku.

She sighed. "Things are getting so complicated. As if they weren't before. I wonder where Sesshoumaru's gone..."

Her thoughts were interrupted as a blur of red and white landed behind her. Inuyasha sat on the bank beside her, staring down at his rippling reflection. "Almost ready to go. You comin'?"

Kagome sighed. He looked even closer to normal again, now that he was dressed in his usual red clothing, and strong enough to leap over the trees again. The sight of him staring intently at the minnows, looking as healthy and alert as he ever had, was driving the memories of her nightmares from her mind. It was kind of hard to believe that those horrors had ever been real, that he had been poisoned and blinded by Naraku.

Her talk with Kaede had eased the doubts in her heart. But Kagome had still tried to stay out of sight as the villagers saw Inuyasha. They stared, they gaped, they whispered and inched back as the half-demon walked past them, half-clothed and followed by Sango and a teary-eyed Shippo. He bristled a little at being stared at, but settled down grudgingly as Kagome whispered to him that they were just shocked.

Eventually they had decided, apparently, that Kagome had somehow brought him back from the dead with some kind of magic. Kagome didn't feel like correcting them with what actually had happened.

Inuyasha had spent the next few days bounding to the tops of trees, running at full speed through the woods, determined to get his strength back. He seemed determined to prove that nothing -- not even death -- could keep him down for long. Kagome had followed him at a distance, content just to watch him bouncing around.


Inuyasha's voice broke through her thoughts. He was looking mildly annoyed. "Didja hear me?" he asked tersely.

"Sorry, I was thinking. What was it?"

Inuyasha ducked his head and mumbled something.

"Inuyasha, I can't answer if you mumble," Kagome said.

"I said," Inuyasha replied loudly, "did you really mean what you said to me?"

"I didn't say anything."

"I didn't mean NOW." Inuyasha's face flushed slightly. "I meant when we were in that room, when I first came back."

Kagome frowned, racking her brain for what she had said when Inuyasha was brought back to life. "You mean when I said I wouldn't leave you ever again?" she asked.

Inuyasha muttered something incoherent.

"Well, I didn't mean I'll never go to my time again," Kagome said slowly. "I just meant... not just that I want to stay with you, but that I won't -- I won't go for long. And I'll always come back to you."

Inuyasha was still staring at the fishes in the water. He leaned forward and flicked his fingers at them, causing them to dart under rocks. He had been alone for a long time, Kagome knew, and had gotten hurt by Kikyo, through Naraku's betrayal, just when he thought he had found somewhere to belong. It must have made him feel even more lonely, she thought. He'd never admit it in the open; his tough-guy image was what he used as armor. But Kagome knew that he was only just starting to soften up.

At least he knows for sure that he isn't alone, she thought. She rested her cheek on his shoulder, just glad to be beside him. He stiffened, then gradually relaxed enough to rest his head on hers.

"I'm glad you're here," he said quietly. "And I was glad you were right there when I woke up, even if what came next was pretty nasty."

Kagome slipped her hand into Inuyasha's and squeezed his fingers. After a moment, he squeezed back. With their hands clasped, they set off down the riverbank to join their friends.


NOTE: I wanted to thank everyone who has read this fic. Yes, obviously there will be a sequel, although not immediately. "Lost" is primarily about Inuyasha's return, and that's done with; a further story would have a different, though connected, focus.

At present there is another story that demands my attention, and it needs to be out of my system before I can put up anything more from this story.