To Protect the One I Love
Higurashi Kagome stared up at the starry sky of feudal Japan. She couldn't remember the last time she'd seen so many dotting the night's blanket of midnight blues and blacks so abundantly. Each star struggled to stand out against the others but what they created was a medley of sparkles that all shared the reign in the heavens and gave one girl a whimsical smile on her face.
Her friends were very much like the night sky. They were all different, all fighting for their own cause, but together they made something much more beautiful. Her friends, Miroku, Sango, and the little kitsune cub, Shippo, had rallied that strength together and had come to rescue Kagome from their most recent threat.
Princess Kaguya, ruler over the moon and its hidden dark powers, had kidnapped Kagome in hopes of taking her body as her own.
Sango, Miroku, and Shippo had all been worried about her safety. But only one hanyou had truly been able to save her.
His father had been the greatest dog demon of his time. His mother was a simple yet elegant and beautiful human.
And Inuyasha? He was something in of himself.
For most of his life, Inuyasha has known nothing but loneliness and hatred. Those around him could not accept who he was – a hanyou, a half-breed. Always belittled by the demons and hated or feared by the humans. It was because of this, he never felt he truly belonged to either side.
So…he felt alone.
And only one hope, one wish and desire kept him shriving forward: the belief that one day he would find a way to become a full demon, strong and unequalled.
Princess Kaguya had offered him his wish, encasing his human blood in the void of her mirror forever. But the cost of such a sacrifice was unknown to all of them.
Inuyasha, his mind a swirling nexus of emotions, attacked his friends-slashing Miroku across the chest in a fit of untapped rage.
Not being able to decipher friend from foe.
Not only that but during her attempt to bring him back to her, Inuyasha had attacked Kagome, digging his sharp claws into her frail skin.
Kagome gently touched her arms and winced. They were bandaged now, but the fear that ran through her still reverberated in her mind. In his demon form, Inuyasha didn't recognize-wouldn't know her enough to stop himself from killing her.
So, having no other options come to mind, Kagome had bent up and gently kissed his lips. She still remembered the thought that ran through her heart and soul at that moment. "Inuyasha…we want to always be together, don't we?"
The pain in her arms hurt, but she wouldn't let that stop her. She liked, no loved the hanyou Inuyasha. Not the human, not the demon-just him, as he always had been.
She had been unaware of the shattering glass behind her, Princess Kaguya's spell wearing off, but what she did remember was the loosening grip on her arms and the gentle return of the kiss.
Inuyasha had kissed her back, then embraced her and called out her name in a choked voice.
He had returned! Her Inuyasha!
Then, still embracing her, he told her something-something she would never forget. "I'll stay a hanyou a little longer, just for you."
A promise she would keep forever in her heart.
But then her heart skipped a beat. How much longer? Was he still planning on becoming a full demon? Vouching for power over friendship?
Naraku was weakened from their battle before, but he still possessed most of the Shikon no Tama. Once they had that, what would she do? What would they do?
The chilly midnight air caressed Kagome's exposed arms and legs and she shivered-finally realizing how cold it was. The answer to all of her questions would have to wait. She got up and decided to return back to camp.
* * *
Our beloved hanyou sat in his perch high upon a tree. He was so wrapped up in his own thoughts he hadn't noticed Kagome's absence- otherwise he'd be with her, keeping a close eye out for her safety.
The human girl had done more for him than he would ever allow himself to admit. Just recently he had gone up against a princess with the power of the moon at her fingertips. He had been overcome and restrained to a tree-an all too familiar feeling for him.
Kagome had attempted to save him, using her improving miko abilities to protect him. The feeling was a strange one- being protected by another. His actions to oversee her safety came by instinct. His heart refused to see her hurt.
But when the princess had fired Kagome's arrow back at him, she did something he never expected.
She jumped in front of him and received the arrow straight through her heart. He thought her dead when she stayed there limp- eyes closed as if sleeping- very much like he had once been.
A coldness crept into his veins and into his heart at the scene. He never wanted to see her hurt and now she was probably on the brink of death and it was all his fault.
He was her protector.
Not the other way around.
He would gladly die for her, but this?
He remembered called out to her and without getting a response, screamed her name out to the heavens- trying to call her soul back to its body so she could remain with him.
He never wanted her to leave.
To make things worse, later when granted his one desire- the chance to become a full demon- he hesitated. He always thought when the time came he would be ready. But there seemed to be so many more things he wanted to do first.
Like finally admitting his feelings to a certain human girl.
While in his demonic form, Kagome had freed herself and clung to him like there was no tomorrow. She was afraid for him and for herself and because of that, she had put herself in danger.
Foreign tears threatened to fall from his golden eyes at the memory. He could still smell her blood on his nails. It was a sweet, pungent smell that sickened him because he knew it was his fault.
In all the chaos his mind and body was going through, he couldn't stop himself. Afterwards, she had tried to cover it up, saying that nothing was wrong, but his nose knew better. When he finally succeeded in pulling up her sleeves, he was shocked and disgusted to see puncture wounds inflicted by none other than himself.
Inuyasha didn't remember his legs going out from underneath him, but before he knew it his arms were wrapped around her waist and he was begging for forgiveness. To hell with pride- he had done something unspeakable and he'd never forgive himself for it.
Even after he had hurt her, she had kissed him, believing in him with all her heart to pull himself out.
Why had he kissed back?
He didn't know. It's just that after his world ceased to spin, Kagome had been the first person he had seen and it gave him more relief than ever. Wrapping his arms around her had been the only way he could convince himself it wasn't a dream.
But why had he made her that promise?
Didn't he want to become a demon as soon as possible?
He was sure if he became a demon at the right time, he would be able to control himself instead of forcing the transformation like it had been.
His thoughts were interrupted when a soul catcher caught his eyes. Its thin illuminated body was unmistakable against the forest's blacknessKikyou…
She was near.
Jumping over the trees, Inuyasha rushed to meet her. Landing in a small forest clearing, he saw her. She stood next to a tree, her back to him.
Kagome was making her way back to the camp when Inuyasha's voice faltered her step. She ducked behind a tree and hid from the couple she saw just beyond the foliage. A tingling sense of fear crept up her spine at the thought of the two. Part of her wanted to run, for the exchanges between Kikyou and Inuyasha never turned out well for her, but a small voice told her to stay.
"Inuyasha." The dead priestess said, turning around. Her eyes held the same coldness as her voice and the young demon finally realized the woman standing before him now was only a shadow of her former self.
There was a pause before she continued. "The hands of fate wrap the red silk of destiny around two people only one time. Once it is broken it can never be remade." She walked up to Inuyasha and caressed his face very much like the first time he'd seen her after fifty years, reincarnated in a new body. "You have been given another chance." She said, confusing him a little. "You love her."
Inuyasha couldn't keep the blush from his cheeks.
Turning her back to him once more, Kikyou continued. "Naraku is weak. You're combined strength is stronger than either of you know." She turned to him and Inuyasha gasped as her body became see-through. "I trust you to take care of him…for both of us."
Understanding finally dawned upon him and he smiled. Moving forward he gently wrapped her in his arms. It wasn't a hug of lust, possession, or passion, but of friendship. For he knew this was goodbye.
"Kikyou…you were the first person who took the time to get to know me. I still feel regret inside because had I been there to protect you, Onigumo would never have been able to…" He stopped. He didn't have to go on because they both knew the Kikyou he truly cared for had died that day. "But I promise…I will destroy Naraku. I'm just glad you'll be able to rest in peace now."
Kikyou pulled back and finally smiled one of her rare smiles for him. "Arigatou." The soul catchers came down and lifted her up into the sky. "Sayounara Inuyasha."
"Kikyou…" The hanyou watched her slowly fade from the sky and knew she wasn't coming back. "Goodbye…"
Kagome knew Inuyasha probably wanted to be alone, so she crept silently away and sighed. It almost seemed like this was the end of one chapter and the beginning of another for her. But a small part of her felt sad for Kikyou. She was just another of Naraku's victims. When they went up against him in the final battle, she would get revenge for Kikyou too. At least now, another soul would be laid to rest peacefully.
* * *
It was just about dawn when Inuyasha returned to the camp and found everyone, including Kagome, asleep right where he had left him. He'd let them sleep a few more hours before setting off. If what Kikyou said was right, they might be able to find Naraku and his minions nearby. Until then, Inuyasha ran off into the forest once more to hunt for breakfast.
After breakfast, everyone sat around the dying fire and began to discuss what they were going to do first. Miroku's wounds had finally healed, so they didn't want to waste anymore time.
"Naraku couldn't have gotten far." Inuyasha said. "His scent is so faint it'll be hard to track him down."
"Ever since he abandoned his castle, he could've gone anywhere." Sango added.
"But I'm sure I'd be able to pinpoint where he was if I could get close enough." Kagome tried to raise everyone's spirits.
"How so?" Miroku wondered.
"Well," Kagome paused. She was still a little uncomfortable with all of her rapidly growing abilities. Not that she wasn't happy to have them, but she didn't carry a whole lot of faith in them all the time. "Do you remember when we went up against Naraku at his castle the first time? The one that ended up being an illusion?" Everyone nodded. "At that time, I was able to find Naraku through the swirling jyaki because of the shards. Naraku has almost the entire jewel except for the two that Kouga has and the five that we've been able to collect. I should be able to pick up the jewel no problem."
"That's true. It's settled then." Inuyasha stood up and brushed off his haori.
"Huh?" Everyone was at a loss. What was settled?
Kagome stood up with her backpack and brought it around her shoulders, wincing slightly at the movement, but she tried her best to hide it. "Where to then?"
Inuyasha saw through it though and took her backpack, putting it back down on the ground. "You and I will scout ahead and try to see if we can pick up which direction Naraku went." He stated, bending down with his back to Kagome. "Hop on."
She hesitated a moment, but couldn't find anything wrong with the plan and climbed on.
"Do you think that's safe? What if he sends Kagura against you guys? Will you be all right?" Sango asked. Kagome was like her sister and she didn't want her to get hurt, although she knew that Inuyasha would never let anything bad happen to her if he could help it.
"Don't worry." Kagome jumped to Inuyasha's defense. "If we pick up anything, we'll just come back here and all go together."
"Just stay here until we get back." Inuyasha said and jumped up into the foliage before the others could protest further.
"Is it me or does something seem different about those two?" Miroku asked out loud, getting a nod from both Sango and Shippo.
* * *
Inuyasha jumped from tree to tree, his arms securely under Kagome's legs to make sure she didn't fall. Even so, Kagome gripped tightly to his shoulders. "Kagome…"
"Kikyou…came to me last night." Without waiting for an answer he continued. "But, you already knew that didn't you?"
Kagome gasped. "I…no…what I meant to say is…" She hadn't meant to spy, it just happened to turn out like that.
Inuyasha let out a small laugh. "Don't worry. It's okay. She's moved on with her life and she can be at peace now."
Kagome smiled at the gentleness of his voice. "Hai, now all that's left is Naraku…"
* * *
Deep inside his hiding place, Naraku opened two beady eyes and focused his vision in the darkness that surrounded him. "Kagura…"
Red eyes seemed to materialize in the black curtain of his layer. "Hai, Naraku?" The wind user Kagura answered.
"Take the boy and go to Inuyasha. He is near, but I am not yet prepared. Slow them down."
"As you wish." Kagura didn't like doing Naraku's dirty work, but as long as he lived, he also held her heart, so disobedience meant a certain death for her. She had no choice.
Moments later, both Kagura and Sango's little brother Kohaku rode on a large white feather towards the camp. Looking down at the boy besides her she said, "Naraku will only keep you alive as long as you do as he says, so you better not disobey him this time."
He didn't answer. He never answered. His eyes were as much of a void as his heart and soul were. Only one face filled the void and gave him a weird sense of hope and dread: Aneue…