Disclaimer: It's my last chance to try and claim him and yet...just out of my reach. Shucks.
A/N *wistful tear* Here we are at the end! Gotta say, I wrote this epilogue to a nonstop, looped soundtrack of Lindsey Stirling's violin rendition of My Immortal by Evanescence. Somehow fitting that a song I listened to so much in my teenage years came back to me full circle for this. Some things are timeless though, and this rendition is so achingly beautiful. So yeah...if you need mood music for this ending, I recommend that song, hahaha.
Otherwise, just revel in the fact that this story is now complete! Woohoo! *dances* Enjoy the wrap up, guys!
TWO MONTHS LATER
Inuyasha lay the flowers down at the base of the tombstone and stepped back. The ache in his leg was still a reminder of the night on the bridge, and he had a lingering limp as he healed. Thankfully, the bullet had missed his shin bone and he was expected to have a full recovery.
Kagome stepped up beside him and linked her arm in his. Her other arm was supported by a sling as she likewise recovered from her shoulder wound. The two of them gazed down at the grave before them.
In loving memory
Inutaisho and Izayoi
Beloved Father and Mother
May 14th, 1999 R.I.P.
"Now they really can rest in peace," Inuyasha said, his mouth set in a firm line. "That bastard will never haunt our family again."
He looked around at the cemetery, fresh green grass growing and budding blossoms unfurling on the surrounding trees. The area was reveling in the spring air on this day, the anniversary of his parents' death.
They hadn't had a chance to come here since that night. Once the police and ambulance had come, they were all rushed away to the hospital. Their wounds had not been fatal, but were still quite serious. They had needed a lot of recovery time, both inside the hospital and out.
Sesshoumaru had had the most serious injury and was in surgery for a long time before they deemed him out of the woods. Even then, it had been a touchy road to recovery, making sure the wound didn't get infected and he remained stable. The doctors had been astonished to hear how he'd fallen down to the frozen river, only to grab the fallen pistol and find strength to climb back up again. They were equally astounded to see the rapidity to which he recovered from his injury. They accredited the demon blood that ran through his veins though even for most demons, such quick healing would be unthinkable.
When the trio were not healing from their wounds, they were giving statements to the police about how everything had accumulated to that fateful night on the bridge. Circumstances being what they were, no charges were filed against Sesshoumaru for Naraku's death. The district attorney's office declared they acted in self-defense. Sesshoumaru had scoffed that they were embarrassed they had continued to let Naraku roam the streets free all these years.
Inuyasha and Kagome hadn't been back to school. Miroku, Sango and Souta had all come to visit them regularly in the hospital, and again at Sesshoumaru's house when they were discharged.
Despite Sesshoumaru's quick recovery, he hadn't yet been discharged. Myoga, Inutaisho's old friend, was looking after Rin in his absence. He was also the one Inuyasha had trusted with the footage from his hidden camera. He had helped Inuyasha navigate the company and locate something he could use for his purposes. Inuyasha hadn't informed him what exactly it was for, but begged he be discrete and do exactly as he promised. If he didn't show up to collect the memory disk with the recorded video by the next day, he had asked him to take it to a certain address.
When Myoga saw on TV what had happened, he immediately checked the tape and the address, which turned out to be a police station. He rushed over and handed everything over, wishing Inuyasha had told him the truth and he could have talked him out of the whole affair.
"I can't believe it's all over," Kagome said softly.
"Me neither. And all things considered, it turned out better than we thought," Inuyasha said ruefully. "All because you didn't give up on me, Kagome. Even after I pushed you away…you came to save me."
Kagome's gripped tightened on his arm. "I couldn't lose you. The world couldn't lose you, Inuyasha. If I'm going to be honest… I came to this city hoping to save the boy in my dreams. But it was entirely selfish. I didn't know the boy. Know you. I just knew him dying was going to hurt me again. I needed to stop it. I was only doing it out of self-preservation. It wasn't about saving you. It was about saving me."
Inuyasha thought back to how fragile she'd been when they first met. "I can understand that…"
"But somewhere along the way, it stopped being about me. Saving you didn't save me. You yourself did. For a long time now, I've felt the safest I ever have, and known what happiness is again. And it's all because of you." She laid her head on his shoulder. "You're amazing, you know that? After everything you've been through, you're still the brightest light I can see. You help me out of the darkness of my dreams and visions. You have so much to offer the world. When I came to save you that night, it had nothing to do with me anymore. I would have gladly died just so you could go on living. You are worth more to this world than I will ever be."
Inuyasha choked back tears. "Kagome…you don't understand. That's not true. I could never have gotten through this past year without you. I—"
"It's okay, Inuyasha," she said, smiling up at him. "You think I don't know my own worth. But I'm starting to learn, thanks to you. I'm even starting to appreciate these accursed visions. They've now helped me to save two people I dearly care about. I know now that I really do have the power to change things. I won't run from them anymore. If I have anymore, I will always do what I can to save that person from a senseless death. I won't let anyone else die while I stand idly by."
Inuyasha smiled and kissed her forehead. "And I will be there to help you."
The crunch of footsteps on gravel made them start and turn round. Sesshoumaru was making his way up the walk, his slow and ginger gait the only indication of his injury.
"Sesshoumaru! I thought you weren't going to be able to make it," Inuyasha said as he came alongside them.
"The doctors weren't happy to let me go, but even they couldn't complain about my recovery thus far. I am practically all well again and it confuses them that I do not fit into preconceived notions of how the body heals. But they don't understand the purity and strength of Father's blood. He was one of the strongest demons still living. Even your leg is healing quickly, is it not?"
Inuyasha looked down at his leg, frowning. "I guess it is. They said I'd need the cane for up to six months, but I ditched it last week."
"Such was the might of Inutaisho. We are his legacy, Inuyasha. He lives on in us."
Inuyasha raised his chin proudly. Kagome squeezed his arm before quietly retreating back to where Miroku, Souta and Sango were waiting. She could see this was a time the brothers needed to be alone to talk.
"Let's take a walk down to the pond," she suggested to the others. "They might be a while."
As they picked their way down the path, Souta skipped ahead, looking for rocks to collect. The others advanced more slowly, taking in the scenery and beauty of the day.
"I still can't believe everything that's happened," Sango said. "To think you guys were almost killed."
"I really thought we were going to lose Sesshoumaru for a while there," Miroku admitted. "I mean, that stomach wound… But look at him now. That man's a tank. He hardly looks fazed."
Kagome looked back at the brothers before continuing on. "He may act like it didn't affect him, but it was really serious. The doctors had to actually repair some of his organs that were damaged from the bullet. They were saying that if the ambulance hadn't come when it did, he might not have made it. Thank god he had the presence of mind to call them ahead of time."
Miroku and Sango shared a look. "Actually…" Sango ventured. "Sesshoumaru wasn't the one who called the cops. We were."
Kagome cocked her head in confusion. "I don't understand. You guys called the police? How could you have even known what was happening? You were sound asleep when I left, Sango!"
Sango fidgeted and down towards the pond where Souta was skipping stones. "Yeah, I was… But then your brother came in and woke me up. He was in a huge panic. It reminded me of…of how you sometimes get after a bad dream. He said he'd had some sort of vision…and that you were in great danger."
Kagome swallowed hard and she looked down at the figure of her brother. It couldn't be…
"It sounded so crazy…but he was so convinced. And knowing how you guys had been trying to find the killer, and you missing in the middle of the night… We tried calling all your numbers, but there was no answer. We just…took a chance that he was right. But I still don't know how he could have known," Sango finished, baffled.
"Hmm, I wonder," Miroku said, flashing Kagome a mysterious smile. "It's a funny thing, you know. We've gotten so used to the idea of demons in our everyday lives. We think nothing of their spry agility or their enhanced healing. But many people forget how much more powerful they used to be, hundreds of years ago. There are tales of poisoned claws, mind-control, all manner of things. And as surprising as that is, there used to be many other kinds of people in the world who also had powers, not just demons. Apparently there were certain priestesses who guarded sacred shrines in the feudal era. They were said to be so holy, they were sent divine visions from the gods. It kind of makes you think…where are their descendants?"
Sango gaped at him. "Surely you can't mean that Souta…"
Miroku put a figure to his chin thoughtfully. "I mean, visions that save lives... Sounds a bit familiar, don't you think? Tell me again, Kagome, how you managed to save Sango from drowning in the school pool?"
Sango looked at him for a moment, registering what he said, before abruptly turning to Kagome with a stunned look.
"Ah…ha…" Kagome scratched the back of her head awkwardly as they continued down the path. "I may have a bit of a story to tell you guys…"
"Do you think they're watching over us?" Inuyasha asked sadly, looking down at the headstone. "Do you think they know we avenged them?"
"They wouldn't care about that," Sesshoumaru said quietly. "They would only care that we were safe. Vengeance was our own greedy desire, since we were the ones left behind."
"I'm not sorry he's dead. I'm glad you killed him. And…you saved me. Both you and Kagome. I expected to die that night," Inuyasha admitted softly.
"Foolish brother. I was never going to let that happen. I can't believe you thought it a good idea to rush out on your own and confront him like that. How could you be so selfish?"
"S-selfish?" Inuyasha sputtered. "He was going to kill me anyways! It was only a matter of time. And you said yourself that me just remembering wasn't going to be enough to lock Naraku up. I had to get some solid evidence. I needed to get his confession. And I knew he would be cocky enough to give it to me. I just had to stall him, keep him from killing me long enough to get him to admit to everything. I didn't mind dying if I finally got to nail his ass to the wall."
"You chose quite an…ah, interesting story to persuade him to talk," Sesshoumaru said with a quirked eyebrow.
"You mean overthrowing you for the company?" Inuyasha smirked. "Well, it had to be at least passably believable. I didn't have a total death wish. Part of me hoped he'd actually buy it and let me go unscathed. Guess we can't always get what we wish for."
Sesshoumaru's face remained impassive as he raised a hand and smacked Inuyasha upside the head.
"Ow! What was that for?"
"For being an idiot. You almost died that night, Inuyasha. I didn't watch over for you for five years just to lose you to the same madman who put you in the coma in the first place."
Inuyasha frowned as he tried to sort through warring emotions. "You know…the deal may have been fake, but some of the things I said weren't. I did hate you when I woke up. You did make my life a living hell. You were constantly hounding me, making me feel like I was a failure for surviving that night and not remembering anything."
Sesshoumaru remained quiet for a moment before speaking. "I may have pushed you to remember things like walking and talking, and to catch up on your missed education…but I'll remind you that I never asked you to remember that night."
Inuyasha frowned. "No, but you were trying to make me remember everything so fast, I just assumed it was so I'd remember that night too."
Sesshoumaru's gaze swept across the cemetery as he passed a hand over his face. "As always, we misunderstand one another." After a pause, he continued, "I wanted you to remember everything so fast so you could go back to living, Inuyasha. So you could assume a normal life once more and get back into school as quickly as possible. You were in a coma for some of the most important years of your life and I wanted you to regain as much lost time as you could."
"You're telling me you never hated me for not remembering what happened that night?" Inuyasha asked with marked skepticism.
"I won't lie, I was disappointed when you woke up after all that time and you still couldn't put an end to the mystery of our parents' murder. The question of who killed them hung over my head every day. I didn't think I would ever have a peaceful day in my life until that person was caught, or I at least knew who did it and why. Even if I surrounded myself with normalcy, with my job or bringing together a mismatched family, it haunted me every day."
Inuyasha was silent, rapt in his brother's words.
"I was hoping that you would live and wake up," Sesshoumaru continued. "And then you would finally be able to name the killer. But mostly I was just hoping you would live."
"Just...live?" Inuyasha echoed.
"I was away at university when it happened. I had been home the weekend before and everything had been normal. Mom was happy and full of advice, Dad was in his own world, but still wanting to impart knowledge about the company and hear about my studies… You and I were still at odds, you being a twelve year old brat—"
"Hey!" Inuyasha protested.
"—and I an overconfident immature prick."
"Perfectly true," Inuyasha nodded in satisfaction at this assessment.
"You've spoken of how when you woke up, your last memory was going to bed the night before the tragedy. So it felt you went to sleep one night, woke up the next day and the world was suddenly completely different. Believe it or not, it was a very similar experience for me. I was home for a weekend and everything was normal. And then suddenly I got a phone call informing me my parents were dead and my younger brother was shot and in intensive care. No guarantee of survival or even regaining consciousness. How do you even reconcile that in your head? Can you imagine what hearing that news is like?"
"I never really thought about it…"
"I couldn't understand what I was hearing. And then I couldn't understand why it happened. Which proceeded to me wondering why it happened when I wasn't there. How could I have not been there? Maybe there was something I could have done if I were. Maybe I could have saved them somehow. Or at least died with them so I wasn't the only one left behind. It could have just as easily happened on a weekend I was there too. My being away, my survival was so meaningless.
"But then you stabilized. You remained in your coma, but you were still living. You had a chance of waking up, no matter how slim it was. Maybe I could make my survival mean something after all, if only I could bring you back and give you a home and life again. We could reform our family and show the world Reijiros were not so easily broken."
"Reform our family?" Inuyasha asked with a clenched jaw. "You're joking, right? With the way you treated me when I woke up?"
"When you woke up...you were so disoriented, so confused. You learned the worst possible news and the only person you knew and recognized was me. And I was the last person you wanted. Everything was strange and nothing made sense to you. You were so angry about what happened, but you didn't know where to direct it. I guess I just wanted to restore some familiarity and give you someone to blame. So I treated you as I had done in the past. I could see you hated me for it, but you also relaxed and started to recover. I don't know if what I did was right or not, but it was a decision I made to try and help you."
Inuyasha looked away, trying to reconcile this new information. He remembered that half of why he tried so hard to regain his life was just to prove his disbelieving brother wrong. That all of Sesshoumaru's barbs served to push him to try harder every step of the way. If he hadn't treated him that way, would he have tried to recover at all?
"I guess so…" he said grudgingly. "You're not going to keep treating me like that though, are you?"
Sesshoumaru gave a low chuckle, shocking Inuyasha. "The facade doesn't matter now. You've recovered far beyond what I could have hoped. You've caught up in school, and you've made remarkable friends, including Kagome. You have found yourself in the strange new world you woke up in, and I'm proud of you, Inuyasha."
Inuyasha couldn't believe his ears. "P-proud?"
Sesshoumaru wrapped an arm around his shoulders. "We're going to be a family again, Inuyasha. A real family. Like Mom and Dad would have wanted for us."
Inuyasha looked up at his brother's profile, seeing a more relaxed expression on his face than he'd ever seen before. A darkness had lifted from his visage and his brow was smooth. Inuyasha gulped and looked down at the grave before them. This new side of his brother was going to take some getting used to.
After a moment, Sesshoumaru let his arm fall and he reached into his jacket. "I met with Kagura's lawyer this morning."
Inuyasha turned to him in interest. "What did he have to say?"
He pulled out an envelope. "He wanted to talk about her will. And this letter she left me. According to the lawyer, she bequeathed every dollar she embezzled back to the company. She must have saved up after university to be able to pay it all back. But of course she didn't know how to give it back without raising red flags. So she just…sat on it all this time. The detectives Barazawa and Takeda likewise mentioned she had been living a very spartan lifestyle."
"She felt too guilty to live off what she stole?" Inuyasha asked.
"Maybe she wouldn't have if our parents hadn't been killed. It must have seemed like blood money then. There's a huge difference between theft and murder, after all."
Inuyasha was silent for a moment. "Even now, I don't know how to feel about her. What she did was wrong…but she really did try to save me. She lived in fear of that psycho for six years and all the while, tried to keep him away from me. And she died trying to finally do the right thing… I-I don't know how to remember her."
"Then you understand how I must feel," Sesshoumaru remarked, flipping the letter over in his hand. "I haven't yet had the heart to open it. I'm afraid of what's inside. There's still anger inside me. I still feel betrayed. I want to hate her, at least for a while longer. She cannot be so easily forgiven for what she helped do to us. And yet…I know I can't keep this anger burning forever. It's too fragile. I…did love her. And if I read the letter now, I'm afraid it will blow all that anger away, sooner than it should. One day, I will indulge in my weakness. But just…not yet." He tucked the envelope back into his inner jacket pocket.
Inuyasha nodded, unable to trust himself to speak. Maybe someday, they could make sense of everything that had happened. Maybe someday, they could accept it. But for now, they at least had this new spring to revel in, this new chance at life unhaunted by secrets of the past. The wind blew through the cemetery, ruffling their long silver hair as they basked in the promise of tomorrow.
A/N Wow…what do I even say? It's been quite a ride. An 11 year ride, if you can believe it. This was quite the labour of love. Definitely labour since it took me so long. But love also because I kept coming back. I promised I would finish it, but I bet those several year gaps gave you pause, lol. But this was one story that I just couldn't let go of. I really wanted to tell it. Especially since all the best stuff is in the second half!
Seriously, this story changed a lot as it went along. It started out about Kagome and I wanted it to be this eerie, dark supernatural thriller. But as I developed the mystery that she had to unravel to save Inuyasha, the focus shifted more to him and his tragic past. It became a story more about his fractured family and how he and Sesshoumaru could somehow learn to be true brothers to one another and rebuild their family even though they were the only two left.
It's very interesting writing fanfiction and posting it chapter by chapter. It means that whatever you've already posted is permanent and final. You have to work around what's already been established, instead of retconning to suit your needs. Sometimes that can be a pain, but it can also inspire new creativity. If I could go back, I would clean up a lot of the beginning. I started the story at the end of high school, but I know my writing style has matured a lot over the years. However, this story is near and dear to me so one day I may adapt it for an original story and fix it up then. If I can ever figure out how to weed out the demon aspect of the storyline, lol.
I did leave it a bit open-ended as to Kagome's visions…and now Souta's! But I do like to leave that mysterious air to it. If I were to go back, I may flesh it out more. The thing is, trying to balance two main characters with HEAVY stories is a bit of chore and not easily done. Kagome's tragedy dominated the first half of the story, but there wasn't too much room for it in the second half. That was Inuyasha's time. A lesson well learned for me in storytelling.
I actually learned a lot while writing this story, and all my fanfiction in fact. I will endeavour to carry all these lessons into my original writing and here's hoping you'll be able to pick up a book of mine one day! Wish me luck!
Thanks for reading, everyone. I don't like it when authors say they're never ever coming back – it seems too final and sad. I will still be around, kinda. :P It's unlikely that I will write more fanfiction, but never say never, you know. Feel free to keep reviewing my stories if you like, or send me a private message. I'm not swearing off my account or anything like that!
So for now, I will just say that I love you all and wish you the very best!