Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha, the song 'When she's Gone" or the phrase 'More to Life' *deep sigh* I hate being poor…
More to Life
It looked exactly the same as she remembered it to be.
Kagome looked around the clearing by the Bone-Eater's Well, her heart brimming and her mind wondering. It seemed like something should have changed in four years. As her eyes adjusted to the light, she picked out tiny differences. Here, the grass was a little longer, there was a new clump of wildflowers. But in all essentials, nothing had changed. Kagome wasn't sure how that made her feel. For four endless, endless years she had been away, at University on the other side of Tokyo. She had changed so much – she was taller, and wiser, with a degree in teaching and a position in a high school nearby. Even her clothes were different. Gone forever was the school-girl uniform and the knee high socks, and it seemed wrong somehow to be here in normal clothes. It seemed wrong for her to be so different, inside and outside, and for this clearing not to have changed at all.
The woods were filled with the warm, living silence of a thousand things growing happily in the spring. Birds chirped into the tranquil air, singing a song of love and cheerfulness.
There was one thing that the clearing was missing, the one thing that she had yearned to see for so long now, the thing that she had assured herself would still be there, waiting for her as faithfully as ever.
A flash of red in a tree high above made her breath catch in her throat and her heart begin to pound painfully, but it was only a bird, flying home to its nest.
Where was he?
Her last memory of Inuyasha was burned into her mind, the stubborn, sulky look on his face that she knew so well, his arms folded defiantly, that tiny trace of desperation lingering in his eyes.
Inuyasha glared at her, yellow eyes blazing. "Keh. You don't understand yet, do you? There is more to life than stupid school work!"
"No, YOU don't understand!" she'd shouted back at him. "This is important to me, I have to go! Why cant you think about anything but yourself for once?"
He had turned around on her in fury. "Go ahead and leave, then, if you think that your te-su-to's," he pronounced the word like it left something bitter in his mouth, "are more important than me. I don't need you anyway!"
"Baka!" she screamed. "That's not what it's about at all!"
He turned his back on her, rage practically vibrating off him. "Don't think I'll come and get you back again when you're sick of it." He drew a deep breath and spat out his ultimatum. "If you leave now, you might as well never come back."
Tears blurred her eyes, burned in her throat. "I don't want you to come and get me. I don't want to come back. I don't want to ever see you again!"
Even as she had said the words, she knew that they weren't true. He had just made her so mad, and she was already upset about having to leave them all. She should have known that he would react like that to her leaving, and she should have recognised that fear of losing her in his voice, but when he had said those words to her she couldn't control her temper. All her frustration and grief was let out on him, and she had jumped through the Well without another word, tears blurring her eyes, and her chest hurting from the pain. The technique she had learnt off Inuyasha himself was being played back on him. Don't get sad, get angry! And she had. As soon as she reached the top of the Well, she had sealed it tighter than her grandfather ever could, with all of her power.
Afterwards of course, she had calmed down, and two hours later she was half way to the Well house to unseal the Well and apologise, when she stopped herself mid stride with a thought.
No matter how painful, she had said goodbye.
Kagome knew that if she opened the Well again, she would not be able to hold to her resolution of staying at university for the whole four years. Inuyasha would be through the Well in just a few days, and he would drag her back to the feudal era with him.
And she would go.
Kagome knew from experience that she couldn't ever refuse him anything, save when she was angry. And with that her whole future would be ruined. She wouldn't attend her classes, and all of her mother's money would go to waste. She would never get a degree or the job that she wanted so badly.
If the Well remained closed for those four years, that would be long enough for her to complete her degree and assure her future. Then she could go back with a clear conscience.
And that's exactly what she had done. Four years of university flew by, her dedication all the greater by the reminder of what she had given up. All through those long, long years, she never forgot her promise to herself. Going back to her friends at the end of the four years became her reward, the golden prize that she worked for. Always, the image of Inuyasha hung before her eyes, urging her to work harder, longer, all so she could return to him. Even when he wasn't there beside her, he was still that something more in her life that made it all worth fighting for.
And now that she had finally come back, he was nowhere to be seen.
Tears began to prickle in the back of her throat, and she swallowed hastily, chiding herself. Of course he wasn't here. Had she really expected him to wait at the Well for four whole years, on the off chance that she might come back someday? Or had she thought that he would just sense her presence through some sort of psychic bond, and be waiting for her with his arms wide open.
No. Of course not. He was probably at the village somewhere, hanging around, tormenting Shippo. She should just go there and look for him instead of standing around crying about something so stupid.
Kagome was roused from her thoughts by a sweet treble voice floating though the trees. A young voice, sounding happy and bright in the silence of the woods. Kagome began pushing though the undergrowth towards the sound, listening to the words as they floated by on the light breeze.
"…and tell me
If you knew where she was now
What would you do to make it right?
Broke her heart but how do you unbreak it?
Tell me how to make it right
When she's gone…"
Kagome pushed though the last branches between her and the singer, and came across a young boy, no more than four or five years old. He was crawling around at the base of a tree with his back to her, gathering what looked like different herbs, and singing at the top of his childish lungs.
"When she's gone, when she's gone…" he sang.
Kagome smiled to herself and took a step closer. Her foot landed on a fallen branch that snapped with a barely audible crack.
Instantly the boy was on his feet, a tiny but sharp-looking spear in his hands, looking straight at her with a determined expression on his small face.
"Who are you, and what are you doing here," he demanded in his childish treble. Kagome didn't answer, the reason being her heart had almost stopped at the sight of the boy's face.
Wide violet eyes were set in a small, open face. Dark hair was pulled back into a tiny tail at the back of his head, with a few strands falling over his forehead in a way that was achingly familiar. The expression on his face wasn't aggressive, or threatening, nor did he sound in the least bit frightened of her, even though she was a stranger twice as tall as him, dressed in bizarre clothes. Instead, the little boy looked merely wary. It was an expression she had seem a million times before on a face that was just a bit bigger, a bit wiser, a bit more familiar.
"Miroku," she breathed, hardly aware that she was speaking.
The little boy relaxed his grip on the spear, but his face still looked serious. "I'm not Miroku," he with surprise. "How do you know that name?"
Kagome blinked, and looked down at he boy. "I used to know someone called Miroku," she said. "You look just like him."
"Miroku is my dad's name. I'm Tatsu," he said. "Who are you?"
Miroku's son! It was undeniable. The little boy looked exactly like Miroku would have when he was tiny. There were differences, of course. This boy's eyes were a lighter shade of violet, almost blue. His face was rounder than the one she remembered, childish curves softening the look and a few light freckles scattered over his cute little nose. But he was unquestionably Miroku's son.
His son! She felt a thrill of joy. Finally, Miroku had the son he had wanted for so long Suddenly she realised that she had been staring at the boy for way too long. He was looking a bit puzzled now, waiting for her to reply. "My name is Kagome," she said.
The boy's face lighted up, his violet eyes shining. "Kagome? Really?"
She nodded, still marvelling at the resemblance.
The boy laughed, a silver, carefree sound like chimes on a sunny day. He dropped the spear and came forward to help her the rest of the way out of the bushes. "I know a song about someone called Kagome," he said excitedly. "I was practicing it when you came. How weird is that? To be singing about something and then have it happen just like that."
Kagome couldn't help smiling at the little boy's attitude. He was as wide-eyed and friendly and full of questions as Souta used to be, like Shippo had been, like Yuka's children were-
…Hang on, what song?
"What song?" she said.
He looked at her as if she were stupid. "The song I was singing before, of course."
Kagome wrinkled her brow. "That song was about me?"
The dark-haired boy beamed up at her. "Yep! That is, I guess it is. My dad told me that it is about someone called Kagome, and since your name is Kagome it kinda makes sense, doesn't it?"
"I…I guess so," said Kagome, lost. "How did it go again?"
Tatsu brightened. "I'll sing it to you, kay? Then you can say if it is about you or not."
Kagome nodded, still baffled. Tatsu straightened and put his hands behind his back, as if he were about to recite at school. He opened his mouth …. then snapped it shut again.
"What's wrong?" asked Kagome.
Tatsu looked grave. "It sounds much better when my dad plays his koto along with me. Maybe we should go and get him to play along with us."
Kagome wavered briefly, but shook her head, her curiosity too strong to bide any delay. "Just sing it to me how you remember it," she said.
Tatsu nodded, and prepared to sing.
"Seems like yesterday that she ran away
She didn't even say goodbye
And now all that's left behind are the memories
Of all the nights you made her cry"
Tatsu's childish treble floated out over the clearing, sounding small and sweet in the silence of the woods.
Kagome was speechless. Was this song really about her? About how she left four years ago? Inuyasha was instantly at the forefront of her mind. Was this what happened?
"So many times you should have
Apologised and tell me
If you knew where she was now,"
Kagome had a little choked sound somewhere between a squeak and a sob. Tatsu glanced at her as he launched himself into the chorus.
"What would you do to make it right?
Broke her heart but how do you unbreak it?
Tell him how to make it right
When she's gone…"
Tatsu's voice faded away, and he cleared his throat. "I've forgotten the rest," he said.
Kagome stared at the little boy in wonder, a thousand emotions running though her head too quickly for her to comprehend. "Where did you learn that song?" she asked.
The dark haired boy smiled a brilliant smile that tugged on the corners of her memory with an almost painful jerk. His violet eyes crinkled in the same friendly lines that she had almost forgotten.
"My father made it up," he said. "He taught it to all the kids here."
"Did he?" Kagome said, an idea forming in her head. "Why did he do that?"
Tatsu swelled up with visible pride. "My dad teaches all the kids in the village to read and write and spell big words and sing songs and steal cookies and make wards an-"
"Hang on," interrupted Kagome. "He teaches you to steal cookies?"
"Oh," the little boy looked guilty. "We're not supposed to tell anyone about that. My mother gets really mad when she finds out that he's been teaching us stuff like that." He brightened. "But my dad is the best at stealing cookies. No one ever catches him at it, 'cept my mum sometimes, cause she's a youkai hunter, and she's knows what my dad's like."
"I imagine she does," said Kagome, a smile tugging at her mouth.
"Yeah, then she hits him over the head. But he always gets up again. My dad's tough." He finished proudly. "I can steal cookies almost as good as him too," he added.
Kagome laughed. "I bet you are, with your dad teaching you," she said. She hesitated, then asked quickly. "So your mum – she's a taiji-ya, right?"
The little boy nodded. "She helps protect the village from bad youkai. Some people think that she shouldn't still do that now that she's my mum, but she says its her duty."
"And what does your dad have to say about that?"
"He says that my mum is right. Plus that it would take a braver man than him to tell her what to do."
Getting down on one knee so as to be level with the boy, she took a deep breath and asked the all-important question. "Tatsu?"
"What is your mothers name?"
He looked confused. "Sango, why?"
Kagome squealed, a huge smile on her face. Grabbing the boy's hands, she danced a few impromptu steps of delight. Tatsu looked at her as if she was mad, but she didn't care. Miroku and Sango! She thought she would burst with joy.
Suddenly she stopped and looked serious, though Tatsu could see the happiness that danced in her eyes.
"Tatsu," she said. "I think I might know your parents already."
"How could you?" asked the little boy, puzzled. "I've never seen you here before."
"It was a long while ago, before you were born."
"Ah," Tatsu nodded his dark head wisely. "That would explain it then. I don't remember things from before I was born."
Kagome smiled down at the small son of two of her closest friends, feeling like he was her own to love already, due to the connection. "Would you take me to see them?"
"She still fills the room like a flower in bloom
You move her pillow to your side of the bed
Looking at the door, like she's coming home
It finally dawns she meant what she said"
Kagome drew aside the curtain almost timidly. It had been four years, and she had changed so much. What if they didn't recognise her?
Bending over the fire in the centre of the room was a tall woman in a unfamiliar kimono. The dark brown sheen of her hair made her heart jump into her throat. In the corner a man in a purple robe was concentrating on a work sheet of some kind. Kagome gave a muffled squeak, unable to speak. Its them. Its really them!
The woman in the centre of the room looked up quickly from her stew. Her eyes widened at the sight of the stranger in her doorway, and an unbelieving smile flashed across her face.
Ten joyful minutes later, the three friends were reunited. Kagome just couldn't get enough. Her two friends looked exactly the same as she remembered them, and yet so much had happened! The loving glances that the two shared were proof of the difference four years can make, yet the occasional thwack from Sango, or mischievous look from Miroku assured her that it really was them, two of the most important people in her life, with whom she had gone through so much together.
Inevitably the subject came round to Tatsu, and Kagome expressed her delight in the small boy.
Miroku looked immensely proud. "He is wonderful, isn't he? Did you notice how well he talks? And he has an excellent singing voice for a five year old - not a note out of tune."
Kagome paused, then looked down at her hands, a light flush covering her cheeks. "Actually, Miroku, when I met your son, he was just teaching me a new song. He said that you had written it."
Kagome didn't dare look up, afraid that her face would betray her, but she could feel Miroku's warm, interested gaze on her instantly. "Indeed," he said. "Well, I do teach the children of this town. Its good to know that they remember something I say."
Kagome looked up at that, trying to read his face, but the houshi's expression was as smooth and calm as ever, and Kagome bit back what she had been going to say.
She desperately wanted to get onto the subject of the one person who had dominated her thoughts for the last five years, but didn't want to appear shallow and uninterested in Sango and Miroku, whom, after all she hadn't seen for just as long. It would be exceedingly tactless of her just to butt in on their reunion with silly questions about someone else. No. She could wait.
"So where is Inuyasha?" she burst out.
Sango and Miroku exchanged a glance full of meaning.
"Inuyasha is-" began Sango.
"We don't know where Inuyasha is," finished Miroku smoothly.
Sango looked at Miroku in surprise, but caught the almost imperceptible flicker of mischief in his violet eyes. Her own eyes widened in understanding, and she smothered a smile before composing her face in an appropriate expression, ready to follow his lead.
Luckily Kagome hadn't seen the exchange, and was looking at Miroku in confusion.
"What do you mean, you don't know where he is?" said Kagome. "Isn't he here in the village somewhere?"
Miroku's face turned sombre. "I told you, we don't know where he is."
"I don't understand," said Kagome, looking from one to the other, her heart beginning to beat faster. "Why not?"
"He disappeared not long after you left," said Sango, looking at the raven haired girl compassionately.
"What do you mean, disappeared?" asked Kagome, the faintest trace of panic beginning to show in her voice.
Miroku stared out the window, as if trying to remember something that happened a long time ago. "Let me see," he mused. "In the first few days after you left, Inuyasha hung around the village, sulking, like he would when you used to go back through the Well to do your Te-su-to's" He pronounced the foreign word carefully, his violet eyes going distant. "Nothing was different. He didn't believe that you wouldn't come back. As the days turned into weeks, he started hanging over the Well, waiting for you to unseal it and return."
Kagome felt her heart twist at his words. My poor Inuyasha. Those damn tears were prickling in her eyes again.
Sango picked up the story. "It took months for him to realise that you really weren't coming back. He used to just sit slumped over the Well, staring down into it, as if he expected you to come out at any moment. He probably would still be there if it wasn't for Shippo."
"Shippo?" said Kagome, confused. "What did Shippo do?"
"Shippo told him that it was his fault that you had gone, that you weren't ever going to come back now because of him. He told Inuyasha that you must hate him, and that he should go and apologise immediately or nothing would be right ever again."
Miroku joined in. "Of course, by then he had realised that you had placed a seal on the Well that not even his rosary could break through. He took that as confirmation that what Shippo said was true. You had never stayed away from him for that long before, and Inuyasha was going mad from missing you so much. He surmised that he had broken your heart for good, and that there was nothing he could do about it.
He left then. That was three years ago. He could be anywhere right now."
Kagome felt like the world had come crashing down around her. Her pulse was pounding in her ears, and it was getting harder and harder to breathe. He was gone, and it was all her fault. If only she had come back that day, if only she had been less selfish. Suddenly her achievements tasted like ashes in her mouth. Without Inuyasha, they didn't mean anything at all.
"He's still so fresh in your mind
If only you could rewind
You know that you'd take your time"
Sango was touching her arm, asking her if she was okay. Kagome felt like shaking her off, telling her that nothing would be okay ever again. Inuyasha was gone, she had lost her chance. She had wasted four years of her life on nothing and it was all her own fault. But instead she mumbled out a 'fine, thanks' and stumbled to her feet. Miroku seemed to sense what she was feeling, and suggested that she take a walk outside.
"It must be overwhelming to be here again. Why don't you go into the forest and get used to it all again. Sango and I will stay here and make up some dinner for when you get back. "
Kagome leapt at the chance, grateful for the excuse to be gone. As much as she loved her friends dearly, she just wanted to be alone now.
"I'll fetch some firewood, okay?" she said, pausing at the door.
Sango smiled at her, her warm brown eyes liquid with sympathy and understanding. "That would be great, Kagome-chan."
What would you do to make it right?
Broke his heart but how do you unbreak it?
Tell me how to make it right
When he's gone…
As the curtain swung closed behind Kagome, Sango turned to Miroku with a determined look in her eye.
"Now what was all that about?" she asked. "Why did you just put her through all that? You know as well as I do where Inuyasha is."
Miroku smiled at Sango, the mischief in his eyes plain to see before he arranged an innocent look on his face. "I told her nothing that wasn't perfectly true, Sango. I don't know exactly where Inuyasha is right now." Sango opened her mouth to argue with him again, but he waved her into silence. "I admit that if I were to take an educated guess, I would say that he is about halfway home by now, but I don't know exactly, of course."
Sango hit him on the side of his head. "Baka! Even I know where he is. He only left about two hours ago to do a perimeter check on the village. So the point is, why didn't you tell Kagome so, instead of making her believe that he was gone forever, maybe even dead."
Miroku opened his violet eyes wide. "You mean, she thinks that he is dead? But I didn't say that."
Sango glared daggers at her husband. "You manipulated the conversation in order to make her believe that."
Miroku spread his hands innocently. " I have no control over what other people believe. I can only speak the simple truth as I know it." He cocked his head at her, the smile dancing in his eyes again. "Besides, I didn't hear you saying anything to clear it up. If you were so sure that our dear Kagome was suffering under a misapprehension than you should have said something."
Sango looked narrowly at the monk, then relaxed, an answering smile springing to life in her own eyes. "Well, I could see that you had a plan of some sort up your sleeve, and I wanted to know what you were doing before I said anything."
Miroku grinned. "That's my girl," he said, pulling Sango to his side and planting a kiss on the top of her head. She stiffened in surprise at his unexpected show of affection, then relaxed against him, curling in his embrace, her head on his chest. She closed her eyes, delighting in the sun-warm feel of his robe, and the steady beat of his heart in his chest. Her own heart fluttered, even after four years of marriage, when he caressed her cheek with warm fingers, lifting her chin up towards his face. With her eyes still closed she smiled up at him, and moved confidently forward to touch his lips with her own.
"So what is your plan, anyway?" she asked, some time later.
Miroku grinned at her, his eyes alight with mischief. "Think about it," he said. "Inuyasha will be here shortly. Thanks to a bit of misdirection on my behalf, which I am sure Kagome will forgive me for later, our futuristic friend is wandering around in the forest, probably crying her eyes out, judging by the emotional edge she was on when she left. Inuyasha will find her there. It will come as such a shock to both of them, that the peak of emotion will lead them to say things that they would never say normally. Our friends will lose their broken hearts and return to the village as the deliriously happy couple they were meant to be at last."
"But that would have happened anyway," objected Sango. "Inuyasha would have found her when he came to the village tonight."
Miroku stood, pulling Sango to her feet. "Ah, but you are missing the pinnacle of my Plan, my princess. If I had just let things be, who knows when or where the meeting would have happened. The outcome will be the same no matter what, I give you that, but now that we have control of the situation, we have just won ourselves front-row seats to our two closest friends undying confession of love." He grinned that boyish smile that made her fall in love with him all over again. "This way, we can make sure that it finally goes right for them."
"So you have a lot of stuff to try and make you happy
But nothing fills the space where you know he should be
Could fill up all the room and you would still be empty
Its only stuff…That's all it is when he's gone…"
Inuyasha jumped from tree to tree, intent on reaching home as soon as possible. There wasn't a dangerous youkai for miles around. Word had gotten out that the Inuyasha that defeated Naraku defended this tiny village, and it was rare that anyone with malicious intent came within a ten mile radius of the place. A scant few blundered into his territory by accident, or sought him out to kill him, wanting the glory that would come from defeating him. Inuyasha slaughtered both kinds with frightening efficiency.
They didn't matter to him. Nothing mattered.
Not since she had gone.
Inuyasha shook his head irritably mid-air. He had promised himself not to think about her anymore. He had blown it, lost his chance at happiness twice in a row now, the second time being all the more devastating for the deeper feelings that he had harboured, though he had tried to prevent it. With her gone there was an ache deep down all the time now, as if something precious had been ripped from him, and the wound refused to heal.
"It seems like yesterday…
So much time has gone by, but I just don't know why
I cant get over you"
He landed on a branch and jumped off again, the spring from his muscles and the buoyancy of the branch combining to lift him high above the forest.
He was approaching that part of the forest he hated now, and he gathered himself to move through it as quickly as possible. One more jump, and he was in a tree high above the Bone-Eater's Well. Once over this clearing, he would be past the Well for another day, glad to stay clear of a place that held nothing but painful memories now. He gathered himself to spring, glancing down at the Well out of habit-
And nearly fell off the branch.
There was a dark haired girl crying her eyes out beside the Well.
Suddenly his world had become very simple. There was the dark-haired girl in the clearing by the Well, and then there was everything else.
Inuyasha froze on his branch, tracking the way the girl's shoulders rose and fell with her sobs, his eyes taking in the details of her long black hair. His heart began to pound, even as he told himself that it wasn't her, it couldn't be her, that it was just some wench from the village. Still, he didn't take his eyes off her, as he jumped down into the clearing.
Inuyasha landed with a soft thump on the grass, his eyes never moving off the girl. The sound of his landing alerted her, and she stood up quickly. The graceful movement was achingly familiar and his heart constricted in his throat as she swung round to look for what had startled her.
She was taller, fuller, no longer a slight girl in a school uniform, but a slender young woman. Her hair still hung down her back, thick and slightly unruly, curling at the ends. and her face was as smooth and perfect as before, the only difference being in that it was a little fuller, a little older, less the girl and more the woman. In essentials however, she was much the same as she had ever been.
Not that it mattered. Inuyasha would still have recognised her had she been fifty years old, with wrinkles and grey hair, the moment she lifted her eyes to look into his own. He felt himself drowning in her eyes, those warm, open eyes that belonged only to her. His heartbeat thundered in his ears, and it was suddenly very hard to breathe.
What would you do to make it right?
Broke her heart but how do you unbreak it?
Tell me how to make it right
When she's gone…
He just stood there, his golden eyes wide, just staring at her.
Kagome felt a lump come to her throat. He was here. After all her fears, after all her tears and grief and self-loathing, he was here. He looked just the same as he had before. There was a sharpness, a wariness in his eyes that she hadn't seen since those very first days with him, before they had learnt to trust each other. Still, it was him, without a shadow of a doubt. He was here. Standing only ten feet away from her,
She watched helplessly, seemingly unable to move or speak as he raised one hand uncertainly, as if to reach out to her.
"Kagome?" he breathed, as if he couldn't believe it was really her.
Something within her broke at the sound of his voice, and she was across the clearing and in his embrace without even being aware of moving. She wrapped her arms around his neck and buried her face in his shoulder, her hot tears soaking his haori.
"I missed you," she murmured almost incomprehensibly into his neck, her warm lips brushing his skin. He felt her words rather than heard them, like a vibration on his throat. Her nearness was making him tremble with pent up feelings. Questions flashed though his head. How did she get here, why did she come back and what had she been doing all this time; but he couldn't find the words to voice them.
Kagome suddenly drew back, and wiped her eyes with her sleeve, embarrassed. Four years of not seeing him, and all she could do was cry into his shirt like a baby. She must look terrible, red eyes and red nose from crying, her hair messed up and her clothes dirty. Suddenly she wanted desperately to go home and change, wash her face and brush her hair. Then she could come back and show Inuyasha how much she had grown. This wasn't the way it was meant to have been. She flushed, lowering her eyes, suddenly wanting very much to be anywhere but here.
Her misery was cut short when she felt gentle hands on her face, forcing her to look up. Inuyasha was in front of her, looking too full of emotion to speak. Instead he cupped her face with his hand, locking his eyes with her own, as if he was trying to make all the feelings that were welling around inside him flow out though that connection.
Finally he spoke, though it was little more than a whisper. "I'm sorry."
Kagome drew back, looking at Inuyasha in astonishment. "You're sorry? I'm the one who left you for four whole years. I'm the one that should be saying sorry."
Inuyasha didn't look at her, staring at his feet with a shattered look on his face. "I'm sorry for making you leave. It was my fault." Lower, so that she could barely hear it. "I'm sorry for every time I hurt you. I'm sorry for making you cry." He reached out with a hand that shook despite his best efforts to keep it still and touched her face, gently, reverentially. His next words were scarcely audible, but the look in his eyes shouted louder than a trumpet. "Stay with me…please?"
Kagome slid her arms around his neck, her heart feeling like it was about to burst. "I promise," she said urgently. "From now on, no matter what, we'll be together."
Inuyasha swallowed once, his eyes prickling with what couldn't be tears. The great Inuyasha did not cry, especially not in front of people.
Kagome was back, and she had said that they would stay together forever. She had promised.
Maybe it was okay, just this once.
He held her tightly, the outside world gradually filtering back into his consciousness. With it came the sounds of to two people hiding in the bushes behind Kagome, trying to be as still as a battle trained monk and a youkai exterminator can be. It had worked so well that Inuyasha had completely overlooked them until now, and probably would have continued ignorant of their presence, had not one of them just hit the other over the head with a giant boomerang.
Inuyasha jumped back from Kagome like he had touched something hot. Glaring, he strode over to the bushes where the two people were hiding and jerked it aside angrily.
Sango and Miroku looked up at him innocently. Miroku was sporting a large bump on his forehead, and looked slightly dazed, Sango with that touch of fury in her eyes which meant she had just been felt up.
Inuyasha stared at them, too angry to speak. How dare they spy on him!
Luckily for the young couple, Kagome came up beside Inuyasha, and neatly maneuvered so that she was between the conspirators and him.
"Ah, Kagome-sama," said Miroku, completely at his ease. "I see you found our missing hanyou. Well done."
Kagome narrowed her eyes. "You knew that he was here all along, didn't you?"
Miroku looked innocent. "I don't know what you are talking about, Kagome-sama."
Inuyasha glared at the houshi from behind Kagome, but it was a half-hearted attempt, and only served to keep the silly grin off his face. Kagome was back! Forever!
Sango was looking at the couple with satisfaction. "Kagome-chan, does this mean that you will stay here with us?" she asked hopefully.
Kagome looked happy for a moment, then a cloud covered her face. "I can't promise that," she said. Behind her she felt Inuyasha go stiff, and she hurried to complete her thought. "That is, I need to go back to my time a lot – I have a teaching position at a school nearby, and I need to stay there in order to work. But I will keep the Well open." Kagome lowered her voice so that her friends couldn't hear, half turning to the hanyou beside her. "And you can come and get me, just like you used to. You can even stay with me there if you want."
Inuyasha stared at her, and for a moment Kagome was afraid he was going to reject her offer, but finally he nodded, a tiny curt nod. But Kagome could see the happiness in his eyes.
"We better get back," said Sango tactfully. "I believe I left something cooking." She turned to Kagome and Inuyasha. "You two will join us for a meal? Tatsu will be glad to see you both again."
Kagome nodded, too happy to speak. Sango smiled gently at her, and began to walk towards the village with Miroku
Kagome and Inuyasha followed them, walking apart, but with an intangible something connecting them together. She smiled to herself, enjoying the feeling that something precious had been returned to her at last.
Inuyasha glared at her, his yellow eyes blazing. "You don't understand, do you? There is more to life than stupid school work!"
"You're right," she said, half to herself.
Kagome smiled up at him, at his dear, very dear presence, finally beside her again. She could even see the warm glow that radiated in the air around him, his aura wrapping itself around hers protectively, lovingly…
"You were right," she repeated.
"Of course I was," he said automatically. Then his brow furrowed and he looked at her warily. "Right about what?"
"Just something you said to me. It's not important now."
Inuyasha scowled at her, his curiosity awakened "But what was it?" he demanded
Kagome took advantage of his confusion, and slipped her hand into his big warm one, locking her fingers around his. Inuyasha started in surprise.
Kagome just smiled up at him, and slowly, his fingers tightened around hers. Finally he smiled back, a tiny, shy smile.
There's gotta be more to life…