CHAPTER ONE

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"She's late again!"

A streak of red and white shot from the trees and landed on the ground. Without stopping, the half-demon sprang forward and began running as fast as he could in such crowded ground.

It always annoyed Inuyasha when Kagome went back to her own time. Ever since they had first met, she had skittered back to her home for tests and classes and other things like that. Inuyasha didn't see the point -- from what he could tell, those tests had nothing to do with real life.

At least she had stopped spending so much time there since they had found out about Naraku. She had hardly spent more than a few days back in her own time since Miroku had told them about Naraku. Well... except for that one time. Inuyasha winced as he remembered. It was when he and Kagome had had a particularly nasty fight about Koga, and she had gone back to her own time for awhile. Eventually, they had somehow patched up their differences.

Although I still want to wring Koga's scrawny neck, Inuyasha thought. Not to mention turn him inside out and make him eat his own tail.

Kagome was always taking these mysterious quizzes and tests. And she insisted that this latest test was really important, although Inuyasha still didn't understand why. "Why'd'ya need to learn a language for someplace you've never been?" he had demanded the morning she left.

"Because I need to take a foreign language to graduate later," Kagome had retorted, shouldering her bookbag.

"What for?"

"I don't know," Kagome had said, frustrated.

Inuyasha had scowled. "How come you're taking a language when you don't know why you're taking it?" he had demanded.

"Now you're just confusing me!" she had said as she left.

Inuyasha leapt onto a high tree bough and scanned the forest, for any sign of a girl in a short green and white dress. I wish she'd just leave that school, at least until Naraku's dead, he thought. Isn't that more important to her? It ain't like it'll hurt her to leave it. I can make sure nothing happens to her.

Inuyasha stopped for a moment, and sniffed the air.

Kagome's scent. She had been here some hours before. Not to the village, though -- he had been waiting on a rooftop for her all day. The scent wasn't fresh, which probably meant she had been and gone quite awhile ago.

Inuyasha frowned. What the hell was she doing coming here and then leaving again? he thought.

Finally he landed in the clearing where the Bone-Eater's Well crouched. It looked like a hundred other little wooden wells, ugly little things overgrown with weeds. It didn't have any water -- as far as anyone could remember, it never had. Yet it allowed Inuyasha and Kagome to travel through time.

"She's late," Inuyasha repeated.

Then he noticed the note. There was a little folded piece of paper wedged in one of the well frame's cracks. Frowning, Inuyasha unfolded the paper. Maybe Kagome left one of her school assignments behind? he thought. The handwriting was hers, although it was a bit blurred as if she had dashed it off in a hurry.

Inuyasha's eyes widened as he looked at the note itself.

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INUYASHA --
I'm sorry I have to tell you this way. I don't want to be with you anymore, and I've decided to stay in my own time from now on. Good luck.
KAGOME

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For a moment, Inuyasha was too shocked to speak. He reread the note a few times, to make sure he wasn't imagining what it said. But it was true. And he recognized Kagome's writing... and smelled her scent on the paper. His shaking hand clenched into a fist, crushing the note inside his fingers.

As he crumpled the paper, something small fell out of it and bounced against his foot. Inuyasha picked it up, and felt sick. It was the little jar of Shikon shards.

TO BE CONTINUED