Disclaimer: Feh, I am in no way even CLOSE to owning Inuyasha!

Author's Note: This fic occurs sometime after Kouga's tribe is slaughtered (the episode number is somewhere in the 30's, I think) yet BEFORE Episode 48. In fact, you could even sort of think of Chapter 1 as Episode 48 gone bad...

Bittersweet Rhapsody

By Lady Aegis

Summary: After Inuyasha rejects Kagome for Kikyo, Kagome leaves the Feudal Era for good, sealing up the well behind her. Three years later, however, through unexpected circumstance she finds herself back in the past, again having to fight and destroy Naraku, who has become an even greater threat during her absence. But there are many questions that she needs to have answered… Why is she back in the Feudal Era? What has happened to Kikyo, who at one time seemed forever bonded to Inuyasha? And what of Inuyasha himself? These questions are slowly answered amidst her struggles with Inuyasha, her conflicting yet lingering feelings for him, and of the machinations of Naraku in the background… Inuyasha/Kagome? Established Miroku/Sango.

Category: I classified this fic as romance/drama, because it's, well...romance/drama. There will also be some funny bits here and there, and even a few very angsty ones.

Rating: PG-13 for choice words, ample sexual tension, innuendo, and a little violence. I guarantee you that this is only temporary. Somewhere along the line I will bump this up to an R, and if there is popular agreement I might even include a lemon (though I will likely just link you to mediaminer and let you read it there when the time comes).

Characters: Inuyasha and Kagome, obviously... I can't tell you what the pairing will be, since the whole point of this fic is to see if they'll finally get together. Miroku, Sango, Shippo, Kouga, Naraku, Kaede, and even Sesshomaru will also be major players. Anyway, if you like what you see, read on:

Although her hair had been meticulously groomed to the point of silkiness, eighteen year old Kagome Hirugashi still managed to let forth an irritated curse as she stared into the mirror, watching herself with critical brown eyes as she ran the brush through haphazardly. "Dammit, why won't this hair of mine EVER stay?! And especially when it NEEDS to!!"

She leaned over sideways to peer anxiously out of her bedroom window, praying to every higher being ever thought of that the car she was currently thinking of was NOT turning onto her street. It was a perfect, brand-new car, of course, a shiny red Toyota with every feature thought of by man. A car that most girls her age would have killed to even have a ride around the block in.

What she was more worried about, however, was not the car but the young man driving it. Again, he was something that most girls would have killed to have. He was handsome, he was intelligent, he was funny...he had a heart of gold and that spot of tenderness that most males did not possess. He was the absolute perfect catch...but this was all lost upon Kagome as she continued to stare anxiously down at the street.

(Ohhhhh...Yuka, Eri, Ayumi...) Her teeth bared involuntarily as she thought of her three excitable friends. (WHY on EARTH did you do this to me?! I honestly don't want to go out with him! I honestly DON'T! Why did you EVER tell him that I would go to a movie with him today?!)

She should have expected it eventually, though. It HAD, after all, only been a matter of time before Hojo caught up to her and she ran out of excuses to dodge another outing with him. Three years was a long time to avoid anyone, especially someone who was quite smitten with you, and double especially when one's friends had given an ample amount of encouragement to him. (Too bad I've run out of sicknesses and can't run off to Feudal Japan anymore.) She bared her teeth again as she yet again recalled the reason of her three year absence from the Warring States Era. But perhaps recall wasn't the word, as it was, after all, constantly hovering on the back of her mind...

Dropping the brush, she stepped back and surveyed herself in the full-length mirror, going over every inch of her feminine form. Her normally unruly hair glided amply down past her shoulders, and her face had been made up so that every blemish, every flaw had disappeared. The conservatively colored floral top with dark pewter skirt seemed to flatter her curves, matched with small-heeled beige pumps that at least would not kill her as she walked. She was by no means a beauty, she concluded, but she was sure it would be enough to please Hojo, since he was the one chasing her in the first place. Although why she was trying to look nice for him in the first place was anyone's guess, especially beyond hers.

She suddenly jumped as she heard a horn honk sharply somewhere below her. "Oh, no, that's HIM!" she muttered desperately, almost tripping over her own feet as she hastily clattered down the stairs and into the kitchen.

Once down she immediately caught sight of her twelve year old brother Sota grinning at her rather wickedly from his spot at the table. "Going on a date with goody-two-shoes Hojo?" he taunted mockingly, his Game Boy forgotten in favor of torturing his older sister as he made some loud, slurping kissing noises at her. "I didn't know that he was your BOY-FRIEND!"

"I told you," Kagome replied fiercely, "He's NOT my boyfriend, and I don't appreciate it when you call him that!"

Sota rolled his eyes. "Whatever you say, sister. He sure fits the description of a boyfriend to me, anyway. Just remember what I said later on, though-" -here he made even more disgusting kissing sounds- "-there's no way that you're gonna get me into a suit in you guys' wedding!"

Kagome, however, didn't even hear him, as the screen door had already slammed behind her and she was currently approaching the Toyota, feeling her stomach give a rather nervous lurch as she caught sight of Hojo, who was beaming at her.

He got up, and, ever the gentlemen, helped her into the car, then going back and getting into the driver's seat himself. "Nice evening, isn't it?" he asked her politely as he shifted gears and accelerated out into the street, somehow managing to give her a warm smile and keeping his eyes on the road at the same time.

"Um...yeah," Kagome replied quietly, smoothing her skirt out in a lady-like manner. An embarrassed silence followed; she sighed as she seemed to absorb all of the nervous tension oozing out from an unknown source. If it was one thing she hated, it was tension. She'd definitely had enough of that, her trips to the past had given her enough for three lifetimes.

She sighed again as she faintly heard Hojo asking her something about the seat warmers. (Damn him...he's so - so - COMPLIANT. He's TOO perfect. I wish he'd at least argue with me for once or something---then I can at least determine that he's HUMAN.) For the THIRD time that day, she again bared her teeth. (Oh, WHAT am I complaining about anyway?! Hojo's the perfect guy for me---he's not - he's not - he's not like Inuyasha, for chrissakes! Geez...) By now she gripping the leather armrest of Hojo's perfect car rather tightly...

They had decided to go to a romantic comedy at a large cinema in Tokyo that night. It was to no one's surprise that Hojo had readily agreed to a chick flick such as this one; he obviously wanted to be depicted as the tender, caring man who thought gory movies that reeked of blood and violence as completely tasteless. Kagome somehow managed to crawl through the tense, three hour marathon with a grim smile on her face, although she hated the movie itself with a passion and she hated Hojo's warm, lithe arm around her shoulders even more. She managed to suppress a shudder every time his hand purposely brushed hers as she reached for a handful of popcorn, every time he smiled at her and looked at her with those unfathomable, sparkling blue eyes...

Why did she dislike him so much? Why did it not seem right? Why did she feel like her heart still belonged to someone else? Hojo was the nicest, most caring guy that she had ever come across---and even here in the dark theater legions of girls were gazing at her jealously. Her heart sank deeply down as she realized that her heart already held the answer...

"That was a great movie, wasn't it?" Hojo asked her pleasantly as he turned into the busy freeway after the eternal movie had finally grinded to a clumsy halt. "Really, I NEVER expected her to go for the other guy like that! Why on earth would she choose such an uncouth ruffian over a handsome rich doctor?!"

(It's more common than you might think,) Kagome thought sadly as she sat next to him, hands folded on her lap, staring out the window at the bright skyline. (But it's not your fault, Hojo, it's not your fault.)

"So I hear from Eri that you've been accepted into Tokyo University," Hojo went on. "What a place---I've decided to go there too. I was very lucky---it only accepts the best," he added with relish.

"Yeah, only the best," Kagome agreed half-heartedly, shooting him a sidelong glance.

"I hope to see a lot of you there, Kagome," Hojo continued solemnly. "I've liked you for four years now. It's just that fate never seemed to agree very well with the two of us." She felt a pang of guilt as he, she supposed, was referring to her countless excuses and "sicknesses." Good thing he never seemed to suspect...

The rest of the car ride was uneventful, with a lot of painful small talk about the weather and the classes they were taking at the U. Kagome shifted restlessly in her nicely warmed seat as the excruciating forty-five minutes wore on; it appeared that Hojo was not only painfully agreeable, but rather boring as well.

She almost felt relieved when he the car finally pulled to a halt in front of the ramshackle house that she shared with her mom, grandpa, and brother. Almost relieved meaning that she suspected that something worse was coming up next. And, not surprisingly...

"Well, it was a great night, Kagome," Hojo started nervously, his eyes locked upon hers nervously. "I hope we'll do this again sometime, and - and -" Suddenly he just decided to give up all pretense and dove for her, wrapping his arms tightly around her and kissing her lips firmly.

Kagome reluctantly responded, tilting her head and slowly massaging his shoulders as well as the kiss deepened, his tongue slowly working its way further into her mouth and causing her heart to almost fall down into her digestive tract. He was good - a surprisingly good kisser, although she couldn't quite be a good judge, as this was her first one herself. She almost desperately pulled him closer, closing her eyes and allowing her to dream about far, far away places. That she was in a grassy meadow near a well instead. That her kisser was a tall, lithe boy with silver hair and strange doggy ea-

She quickly pulled away from Hojo, staring at him confusedly, regretting that last thought. No, she could NOT do this, she couldn't live in the past, she couldn't blame herself about circumstances that she had been unable to control... She pulled him against her again, allowing him to kiss her again...and again...and again...

Suddenly she pulled away again, unable to bear it any longer. She stared miserably at Hojo for a moment; he stared back at her with a confused look on his handsome features. "Kagome? What's wro-"

"This is wrong! This is just WRONG!" she burst out plaintively, tears started to run down her made-up face. "I don't know why, I just can't do this!"

"Kagome, what are you saying? I thought you had fun with me tonight!"

"Hojo," she started miserably, taking in the hurt look on his face, "It's not your fault, don't go blaming yourself for this. It's my problem...it's not you. Remember that." Patting him forlornly on the shoulder, she then proceeded to exit the car, sobbing uncontrollably as she ran towards the house.

She stared out her bedroom window as she watched him slowly drive off, feeling thoroughly miserable to the bone. His date with her had triggered old memories---memories that she rather would have forgotten.

Kagome tossed and turned restlessly in bed, not quite awake yet not quite asleep. She was still in that hazy netherworld, where dreams were reality and where reality was also dreamt. And reality was definitely being dreamt that night... She drove her tear-stained face into the pillow, quietly grinding her teeth as she relived it, relived what had happened back when she was fifteen...

The bush she was hiding in was prickly and uncomfortable, but she paid it no mind, straining to see what was going on by the small waterfall. She shifted her balance down to her knees as she crouched down, her eyes almost rolling out in shock as she witnessed the scene going on nearby. It had been something she had feared almost the entire time that they had journeyed together...

Their bodies were intertwined sensuously together, already kissing and touching each other intimately. They seemed to weave a single dance as the waterfall tinkled in time to their rhythm. Inuyasha and Kikyo...the tragic pair that had pursued each other for so long, were together again at last.

Kagome, as much as she wanted to run away immediately, could not take her eyes off them. Inuyasha had such a peaceful look on his normally fierce features, his long silver hair cascaded down his shoulders and mingled with the priestess's well-kept locks as he roughly nibbled on her delicate ear. Kikyo lightly massaged his back, leaning onto his lap as a knowing smile crept onto her feminine features. Kagome's heart sank as she realized that this was the happiest she had ever seen Inuyasha in the whole time she had known him; the look of pure bliss on his face was enough to prove that Kikyo, and not she, was going to be the one that would make him happy.

Kikyo pulled away from him briefly, tweaking his ears as she quietly murmured to him in her soft voice, "You missed me, didn't you?"

The reply was perhaps out of character for him, but decidedly his. "Of course I did, Kikyo. Every day, every second---you were always right there within my mind." His scarred hand disentangled itself from hers as it slowly reached up to smooth her ebony tendrils.

Kagome's heart plunged as Kikyo reached for the tie of his outer robe. " As you were in mine..."

The whisper was soft upon Inuyasha's swollen lips. "Kikyo...it's all over now. You're mine now---forever. And I will protect you from harm always..." And that was when he began to push her downwards---

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!" Finding that she could stand this no longer, Kagome let out an anguished wail that surprised even her, tears suddenly flooding down her face. Her heart totally shattered into pieces, she turned tail and ran, not caring if they had seen her or not. She ran for the well, not bothering to look behind her. Inuyasha wasn't going to follow her anyway, she was nothing to him but a shard detector, a worthless liability who had lived out her usefulness. She was absolutely nothing to him, and never had been...

Miroku was sitting tranquilly against the well, probably thinking up some half-cocked scheme to get Sango to have his child. This, however, was all lost on Kagome as she without a second thought climbed up to the lip of the well, ripping the Shikon Jewel necklace from her neck and tossing it to him, sobbing, " Here, take the stupid thing! I - I can't help you anymore! Use Kikyo to find the shards---I'm sure you'll like her a lot better anyway!"

Miroku appeared to be dumbfounded. "Kagome, what on earth are you-"

"Goodbye, Miroku!" were her last words before she hopped into the well, crossing her arms over her chest in anticipation of the long descent back into the present.

Kagome's eyes snapped open, her heart pounding wildly and beads of sweat beginning to form on her smooth forehead. It had felt real - so real - as if she had relived it yet again. She often dreamed it these days, down to every last vivid detail...about the passionate way his lips had met hers, about the look of contentment on Inuyasha's face, happiness that only Kikyo, and not her, could bring him.

A large truck passed through the street nearby, shocking her eyes as they quickly adjusted to the sudden light. Kagome blinked, putting her hand over her chest and trying to calm down. "Come on, it was only a dream," she muttered to herself, trying to take deep breaths. "Well, technically it was real, but it didn't just HAPPEN..." She trailed off, shaking her head. She had not just been there, she was in twenty-first century Tokyo, lying in her big pink fluffy bed...The well was still sealed; Inuyasha and the others were unable to cross over into her time just as she was unable to cross into theirs without the Jewel. Even people of the cloth, such as Miroku and Kaede, were most likely unable to break her grandfather's wards; she had placed them everywhere thinkable around the well. Perhaps Kikyo herself might have been able to go through, but as Kikyo was the one who had caused her to depart in the first place, the thought of her wanting to cross over was laughable.

Kagome settled back down into her pillow, turning over on her side to stare at the bright green display on her alarm clock. 3:21 a.m... (Geez...he IS on my mind all the time, whether it's morning, noon, or night. I wish I could move on...I wish I could forget him. I wish I could forget it all. Then I could be a normal, happy, eighteen-year old girl who only has to worry about boyfriends and college entrance exams...)

She gave one final sigh as she closed her eyes and began the long road towards slumber. (Inuyasha...what have you DONE to me?!)

Author's Note: So...what did you think? I hope that the plot doesn't look too cookie-cutter so far. I'm open to any suggestions that you might have.

Next chapter: Kagome swore that never again would she go down the well...so what is she doing back in Feudal Japan? And what's this about Sango...she's now rather domestic? What has happened to the wild demonslayer since Kagome left?!