"We've got to get her out of there!"
A portion of reality became audible to her unconscious ears as the purple glow jolted from hanyou to human, throwing both bodies into convulsions. She could see Midoriko fading into the image of her ranting friends outside the barrier. Before letting her sight fail completely, Midoriko ran her hand down the young girl's hair.
"Just as I thought..."
That was the last thing Kagome heard as her eyes squeezed shut, catapulting her into a world of darkness. Her mind continued to register the sounds and shuffles outside her closed lids, somewhat letting her hold on to consciousness. Her body felt weak and yet, exuberating at the same time.
"Ow..." She sat up as the shield began to diminish, rubbing fiercely at her sore eyes. Kouga was instantly at her side, searching her for wounds.
"Kagome, what the hell happened back there?"
Kagome looked around at her old surroundings, her eyes falling on the still unmoving body. "Nothing...it was a silly wish, that's all." She crawled over to where he lay, this time leaving him to rest on the ground.
"Kagome, wha...what did you wish for?" Sango stepped up, Miroku by her side. Kagome looked between the two at their entangled hands.
"I wished for everyone to be happy." 'I guess that doesn't include me...' She looked on lovingly at the hanyou, stroking the side of his face. Allowing one last tear to fall onto his skin, she pressed her lips ever so gently to his forehead. "Goodbye, InuYasha."
2 Weeks Later
"Sango! Hey, Sango! Watch this!" The young boy threw his weapon, slicing through the apple on Shippo's sweat beading head before retracting back to him. "Pretty good, huh, sis?" Kohaku had appeared, unscathed, shortly after their return to the village. Kagome's wish had proved to be worth it...
"That's great, Kohaku! Keep practicing!" The proud smile Sango held for her sibling faded as she caught a glimpse of Kagome.
"She'll be alright, Sango." Miroku approached quietly, laying down the wood he had been working with. "She just needs time, as do we all."
"Maybe things will get better when the village is finished and everyone can get back to their lives." Sango's eyes were teased with tears as Kagome leaned across the mound of dirt to lay flowers at the headstone. "She's lost everything, Miroku. She can't get back to her family. The man she so obviously loved is gone. What does she have?"
"She has us." Miroku pointed out, snaking an arm around the exterminator. "Speaking of us..." He leaned in smoothly to steal her lips, but was pushed back.
"Not now, Miroku. We can't let her see."
"You'll have to tell her sooner or later, Sango!"
"Marriage is the last thing on that poor girl's mind!"
"Huh?" Monk and slayer twisted their heads toward the miko's gentle face.
"I said, congratulations. It's about time."
"Kagome, we didn't..."
Kagome held out a hand to silence the exterminator, keeping her smile intact. "It's okay. I'm fine, now. Really." She grazed past them, all eyes following her weary retreat into the forest. Sango looked to Miroku, flames blazing in her dark eyes.
"Idiot!" Miroku cowered into the nearest hut, hiding from the rabid slayer on his heels.
Kouga waited patiently until everyone was out of sight before moving quietly to the decorated mound. "Stupid dog! How could you do this to her! All she ever wanted to do was love you, but...but you wouldn't let her." Tossing a single flower on the dirt, he turned away, feeling a touch of remorse. Twisting to look somewhat softly over his shoulder, he sighed. "Anyways, I guess, I'm gonna miss you, dog face." The ground shook behind him. The wind blew against him like a whip. His footsteps halted. He didn't allow himself to breathe as he turned back, light exploding over his face. "It...it can't be..."
'What does my life mean now?' Her pace was dramatically slow as she allowed her thoughts to antagonize her for the hundredth time in only a few hours. 'He loved me. Kikyo knew that he loved...me. It's because of me that he's...gone.' Approaching her recurrent destination, she slid down the side of the well, drawing her knees to her chest. 'I wanted everyone to be happy. Kohaku's back, we all have each other, and everyone seems to be doing fine, except...InuYasha, I hope you're happy...' She sat lost in her thoughts, the wind blowing defiantly around her. '...wherever you are.' Fighting back another set of tears, she hugged herself tightly against the new onset of drastic winds. She closed her eyes, letting her mind drag her back to that haunting night...when InuYasha's life slipped away right in her arms. "Why...why can't I let go?"
It was like a whisper in the wind, sending a shiver down her spine. It echoed throughout the area in a loud whisper, startling her from her contemplations. Searching about the empty space, she raised to her knees, still trying to shield herself from the now seemingly dangerous winds. No more sound. Only the wind could be heard now.
"Get it together, girl! He's not here!" She shook her head in disgust on how easily she thought he was near. Standing sharply, she walked as best she could against the invisible force that seemingly wanted her to stay there. "What's going on?" Her arm covering her eyes, she fought hard to take steps, her gaze following the ground. The grass in front of her began to light up, causing her out of curiosity to unshield her face. She scanned the ground, following the light, until she locked onto a pair of feet...bare feet...red...silver...gold. "No, no, no, no...it's not...it can't..." She took a couple of steps back as a shy smile plastered itself to the hanyou's face, his transparent body beginning to fill in. Kagome suddenly felt the urge to faint as he stepped toward her. The wind whipped around him, the light moving with him in every step that he took.
Her heart went into overdrive, screaming to her brain that it was a hallucination...until he touched her. His claw traced gently down her face, leaving his hand to rest on her cheek.
"Yeah, it's me."
"Am...uh...am I dreaming?"
The hanyou shook his head.
"Are...are you a...a...ghost?"
"Hell no, I ain't no ghost!"
Kagome's teeth gleamed in an exhilarating smile as she threw herself into his chest, her arms squeezing tightly around his stomach.
He closed his eyes and widened his smile, encircling his arms around her, one on her back and the other on the back of her head. Kagome felt his chest rise against her, and she realized he was sniffing her hair. The sensation she received was enough to almost pull her down to her knees. He was alive. He was there. He was holding her. Subduing her fears with a single touch as he had so many times before. He remained mute, but his gently caresses on her back let her know that everything was going to be alright. No...it wasn't. She pulled back, a pang of guilt settling in the pit of her stomach.
"InuYasha, I'm sorry...that..."
"Don't even say it. Kikyo didn't deserve Hell, but she did deserve what she got. So, just forget about it."
Kagome nodded, laying her head back against his collar. 'It hurts him to talk about it. Maybe he does love me, but that...'
"Yeah?" She felt him shake a little as he took a step back.
"H...how do you feel about me?" She blinked silently, caught off guard by his straightforwardness. By the desperate quiver in his voice, she knew...he wanted her to lay her heart out in front of him. The retreating step he had taken only seconds ago contradicted itself as he stepped forward, leaning slightly to place mere centimeters between them. His breath reflected of her own, sucking the strength from her legs. Her composure wavered slightly, calling upon all the strength she had to remain upright. "Do you...love me?"
She found herself tongue tied and winded, having difficulty focusing on reality. His feelings for her had be exposed without his knowledge, now, he wanted to see into her heart. Her soul. 'I love you. Say it! Don't let this chance go!' Her mouth moved silently, unable to produce sound as her heart pounded the breath from her lungs. He tilted his head, those feverish, flaming, golden eyes sending waves of adrenaline throughout her being.
She shivered at the warm breath cascading across her lips, his whisper threatening her ability to answer. "InuYasha...I...I..." 'Say it!' "...I love you." She awaited his reaction, surprised when the only movement was the corners of his mouth lifting.
"Good." He closed the distance between them, his lips caressing aggressively over hers. Kagome felt the breath tear from her lungs, her mind dizzying as he bent her into him. It was beyond insane. Exhilarating. Exciting. There were no words. It was more than she had ever dreamed it would be. She went slack in his arms, feeling the urge to cry and laugh at the same time. In the blink of eye, she took fistfuls of his kimono, pulling him down closer as she began to match his intensity. Without breaking away, he pried her fingers from the fabric and placed her hand over his heart. Kagome smiled against his mouth, feeling his heart pound against her palm just as hers had. Throwing her other arm around his neck, she felt the burning desire to kiss him like this forever. To hold onto him without yielding. She felt herself getting stronger while InuYasha began to feel slightly weak. Black mixed with silver as their hair blew around their connected forms as a whirl of golden light broke from beneath them, lighting the entire area.
"Kagome...InuYasha..."The voice was heard, but not acknowledged as the two became lost in each other, an intense power flickering about between them. "Time shall not render what you have found. It shall be eternal. The hanyou life has been granted unto you, although leaving you human. This is the greatest gift I am able to give...in return for all the gifts you have bestowed upon others. Live long and happy, my friends..." The voice echoed through the night air as the lights around the two faded. Kagome pulled back, satisfying her body's urge to breathe. She brought a trembling hand to his lips as a the last flicker of power electrified through his eyes. Both stood, panting for breath, relishing the sight of one another.
"InuYasha, are you..."
"I'm fine. Kagome..." He pulled her into another embrace, resting his chin atop her head. Kagome eagerly returned the gesture, oblivious to InuYasha's grateful smile to the shadowed figure disappearing into the woods. 'Thank you, Midoriko...' He squeezed the girl tighter, fearing to let her go. Afraid she would again slip away from him. "Kagome...I have to...I mean, I want to..."
"It's okay, InuYasha. I know." She pulled back, looking deep into his troubled eyes.
"No, you don't understand...I ..."
"You don't have to say it."
"Yes, I do, damn it! It's gone unsaid for far too long! Kagome, I...I love you!" The young woman smiled, lunging back into his chest, nearly knocking the breath out of him. His face softened and his voice shook. "I've loved you for so long...I...I just didn't know how to handle it. Now, I know..." Kagome raised her head as he leaned down, his lips brushing against her own. "Kagome..." Her entire body trembled. "...I love you." He leaned in for another kiss, but...
"Yeah! Go for it, InuYasha!"
Kagome laughed loudly as InuYasha attacked the eavesdroppers in the bushes, all screaming at once how they only came in search of his roaming spirit. How they wanted to lay him to rest. Oh, they were so dead...
"Bullshit! Get back here!"
She watched her friends and her hanyou. Kouga had finally realized her heart belonged to someone else. Miroku and Sango had realized their feelings for one another. InuYasha was alive and obviously well.
"No, InuYasha, not Tetsusaiga!"
Midoriko's final words replayed in her mind. She had given Kagome the greatest gift. 'I will live as long as InuYasha. Sure, I could die, but he'll be by my side. I know that, now. I am still a human. He is still a hanyou. They are my friends. This is the way it's supposed to be.'
"Stop running! Get back here, you creeps!"
'I don't have to live forever. This is my life. This is my world. This is all the life I need...I guess, you could say that they are my immortal...'
There you have it. I want to thank everyone for the reviews, good and bad. Thanks, David.