Author's Note: This is my very first Inuyasha fanfic. I've only seen what they've shown on Cartoon Network, so I obviously won't know as much as you who've seen more episodes. Anyway, please cut me some slack, but if I do make some huge mistake feel free to let me know. Otherwise, I burn easy, so please don't flame me. But like I said, constructive criticism is welcome. Praise is welcome too, hint hint!

Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha or anything pertaining to the show, yada yada. I am but a humble fan.

Summary: Naraku is defeated and the Shikon Jewel is complete. It's time for Inuyasha to fulfill his promise to Kikyo, but can Kagome and his friends convince him otherwise?

The village was quiet and very run down. It was obvious there had been an attack there of some sort, and no one had been around to repair the damaged homes and other structures for quite some time. It was just sitting there now, empty at most times. This was not one of those times. A small albeit unique group of travelers had arrived there not long ago, but their business there was not to repair, but rather to lay a friend to rest.

Kohaku deserved to be buried with his family. Neither Sango nor her friends would have had it any other way.

The young demon exterminator and her friends listened solemnly as Miroku, their monk companion, performed a ceremony for the fallen boy. Tears stung at Sango's eyes, but she was determined not to break down in front of the others. Kagome, the girl from the future, squeezed the shoulders of her dear friend in a sideways hug of sorts. The two youkai in their presence, Shippo the young fox demon, and Kirara, the fire cat stood quietly at the ladies' feet. Shippo was holding back tears of his own.

The hanyou which led this group, Inuyasha, wasn't anywhere to be seen during the makeshift funeral. Rather, he was tucked away in a hut, not yet having woken up from the final battle with the troupe's ultimate enemy, a half demon named Naraku. Inuyasha had suffered the brunt of Naraku's attack during the fight. When it was all over, Kagome was amazed (and relieved) that he was even alive.

But Sango's younger brother Kohaku was not as fortunate. Used as a tool by Naraku, the boy was forced to fight his last living relative. Sango could only stand to fight the boy half-heartedly, and in the end, had suffered many serious blows from his weapon. Sango thought for sure that she was going to die by his hand, but then, she had already resigned herself to the fact that she was going to follow him into death anyway, so if she was to be killed by her younger brother, even if it meant keeping her friends safe from him for just a little while, then she would gladly do so.

In the end, however, it was Kohaku who died for his sister. Having finally come to his own senses, the boy pushed his sister out of the way of an attack she didn't see coming, and ended up taking the strike himself. With his last words he told Sango that he knew about everything she had done for him, and his last wish was that she continue on and live as happy a life as possible. Right now, Sango didn't know how that would be possible, but maybe with time she would find a way.

Miroku finished his prayer and walked over to the ladies. He motioned for Kagome and the youkai to follow him so they could leave Sango alone with her brother for a while. Knowing she needed time to herself, they all nodded and followed the monk into the hut where Inuyasha lay unconscious. Kagome heaved a sigh and took up post next to the half demon she loved, wondering why her friends had to suffer so much for such a small jewel, the Shikon no tama. Currently the completed jewel hung around her neck, but angered by all the pain it had caused, she took it off and put it away in her bag. She couldn't bear to look at it then, to be reminded of how she had broken it into so many pieces, how really it was her own fault everything had happened. She looked down at the pained expression on Inuyasha's face and began to silently cry.

'If I hadn't been so stupid and broke the Shikon jewel,' she thought, 'we never would have had to fight Naraku for the shards and Inuyasha wouldn't be laying here hurt.'

Shippo, having smelled her tears, crawled into her lap to comfort her. Miroku also noticed that she was crying.

"If you'd like," he offered, "I could make dinner for us all."

"Thanks, Miroku, but I'm not hungry right now. But I'm sure Shippo would like to eat something." Just as she said the words, the little fox demon's stomach began to rumble wildly, bringing forth a faint smile on Kagome's lips.

"Inuyasha's going to be alright, isn't he Kagome?" the boy asked.

"I don't know." Kagome choked the words out.

"Come on Shippo," piped in Miroku. "Let's go outside and start a fire for dinner."

Kagome gave Miroku a thankful look for taking Shippo off her hands, even if it was for only a little while. Not that the kitsune was bothering her, Kagome just needed some time to herself. Almost immediately after Naraku was killed they had begun their journey to the demon exterminator's village to lay Kohaku to rest before it was too late. She hadn't had time to be by herself with her emotions. She hadn't even really taken a good look at Inuyasha's wounds.

Delicately she pulled away his outer garment to find his under garment soaked through with blood, and she silently hoped that not all of the blood was his, for if it was, he was surely in trouble. Careful not to cause him further pain, she pulled away the under garment as well, revealing many deep wounds. She sighed as more tears threatened to fall from her eyes. She had never seen wounds on Inuyasha this bad before. Even the time the Wind Scar had been reflected back to him off Kanna's mirror, he hadn't suffered quite this much injury. How she wished she could take him back to her own time for medical attention, but seeing as how people in her time had never seen men with dog ears and long silver hair, it just wasn't a good idea. The best she could do was treat him with the supplies she had brought back with her.

"I hope this doesn't hurt," she whispered to him, knowing full well the he couldn't hear her. As carefully as she could she removed his shirts in order to treat the wounds. They had been bandaged before their journey, but they needed to be treated again now.

She set aside the bloody clothes and picked up a bowl of water lying not too far from her legs. Pulling a piece off her tattered school uniform, she soaked it in the warm liquid and used it to wash his wounds. He winced when the wet cloth made contact with his skin, causing Kagome to jump back a little.

"Inuyasha? Can you hear me?" she asked him sweetly.

"Kagome?" he managed to say between haggard breaths. "Is Naraku…."?

"Yes. He's gone now. You did it, Inuyasha. You destroyed him."

Kagome could have sworn she saw a smile grace his lips before he fell back into his state of unconsciousness.

She continued to clean his wounds, and when satisfied she had done a good enough job, she bandaged him up again with the extra bandages in her bag. She noted that she would need to get more soon, especially if he kept on bleeding like he was.

The raven-haired girl picked up the bloody clothes and empty washing bowl and took them outside the hut, leaving her hanyou alone to rest for a while. The rest of her companions were seated around a fire, which had something boiling in a pot in the middle of it.

"How is he?" Sango and Miroku asked in unison, causing both to look at each other and then blush slightly.

"It's not good," she replied honestly. "I can't remember the last time I saw him hurt this bad." Sighing, she sat down next to Sango, who put her arm around her friend much like Kagome had done for her earlier.

"He'll pull through. He's very tough," Sango offered.

"I know he is. He just doesn't deserve to be suffering like that, not after all he's been through. None of you deserve to have suffered the way you have. I'm so sorry. If I hadn't broke the jewel…" She couldn't finish her statement for the lump that developed in her throat.

"None of us blame you Kagome," Sango explained.

"Of course not," added Miroku. "Naraku was the cause of everyone's pain, not you. Naraku would have found a way to make as many people as he could suffer despite whether or not he had any jewel shards. It was his malice which caused all this, not you."

"If not for you, Kagome, probably none of us would have met each other, and if we hadn't joined forces, who knows if Naraku would have been defeated or not," said Sango.

Kagome nodded in agreement, although her conscience still wasn't free of guilt.

"Is it ready yet?" piped in Shippo, effectively breaking the heavy silence. Miroku glanced into the kettle.

"I believe it is," he smiled and began to dish out everyone some of the stew he had prepared. It wasn't as good as the food Kagome brought back from her time, but it filled their bellies just as well.

Soon everyone decided to retire for the night and try and sleep as best they could. Kagome, however, took up her post by Inuyasha's side again. She knew she wouldn't be able to sleep until she knew he was going to be all right. She made herself as comfortable as she could in the small hut and resigned herself to a long night.

"Have you been up all night, Kagome?" asked Miroku as he and the others began to congregate around the breakfast that Kagome had obviously prepared.

"Yes," she admitted. "I just haven't been able to sleep since our fight with Naraku."

"Did Inuyasha wake up?" Shippo asked as he took a seat beside Kagome in order to wait for his breakfast, which she was dishing up.

"No, not yet," she practically whispered, handing the young demon his bowl.

"I can speak for myself," stated an agitated voice. The group all turned in unison to see Inuyasha standing in the doorway of the hut he had been in. He seemed to be holding himself up with the doorframe. Kagome immediately stood and rushed to his aid. Positioning her shoulder underneath his arm, she allowed him to put some of his weight onto her, making it easier for him to walk to the fire where the others were gathered. They both grunted a little as Kagome helped the hanyou to sit.

"How are you feeling?" Sango asked him.

"I'm fine."

"We were all worried about you," Shippo added.

"Why? You should all know by now that I heal fast," he replied as he tucked his arms into his sleeves.

"It was really bad this time," Kagome said softly.

"It couldn't have been that bad if I'm still alive."

Kagome wanted desperately to throw her arms around him, to tell him that she loved him and had been terrified that she had lost him forever. She restrained herself though, as she usually did. Terrified that he'd reject her, Kagome always ended up keeping her feelings locked inside, where they threatened to eat her alive. She wanted him to know, but never felt that she could let him. But now that the jewel was complete and the threat of Naraku gone, maybe she could tell him after all. And if he did reject her, she could always go home to her own time and never return.

"Are you listening to me wench?" Inuyasha questioned as he waved his hand in front of Kagome's face.

Snapped out of her thoughts she asked, "What is it?"

"I asked you what was for breakfast?"

"Oh. Just some soup," she answered.

"Is there any ramen in your bag?"

"Yes. I was saving it until you were awake."

"Well I'm awake now. Make me some." It didn't quite come off as a command, more like a suggestion.

"Why not? You deserve it after all," stated Kagome, a cheery tone masking her irritation at having to cook a whole new meal. But ramen was easy at least, and Inuyasha really did deserve it. Inwardly she sighed as she began digging through her large yellow bag in search of her kettle.

Sango and Miroku sat silently next to each other, both wanting to ask the same question, but both too afraid of the answer to ask it. Shippo, on the other hand, had no problems bringing up the delicate subject.

"What are you going to wish for on the jewel, Inuyasha?"

Kagome stopped in her tracks.

"Maybe it's none of our business Shippo," she said. Kagome was also afraid of the answer Inuyasha would give. Her heart would surely be broken if he still wanted to become a full demon.

"It is too our business," Shippo retorted. "We all helped him gather the sacred jewel shards, so we should know what he plans to do with it." He made a good point, but not good enough for the hanyou.

"It is none of your business runt," he replied with a scowl in the kitsune's direction. Had he the strength to walk away, he surely would have. Instead he settled on whacking the poor boy on the head. "Is my ramen ready?" he demanded.

"The water isn't boiling yet," Kagome informed him. She was mad at Inuyasha for hitting Shippo once again, but at the same time she was glad he avoided answering his question. She was terrified of his answer.

In a matter of minutes, Inuyasha had his ramen and was eating it as fast as his weakened state would let him. Seeing that the hanyou was no longer in danger of slipping into death, Kagome finally let herself relax some, fatigue almost instantly taking over when she did so.

"If none of you need me for anything, I'd like to go to the hot springs. I haven't had a chance to clean myself up in days," Kagome stated.

"I think I'll go with you if you don't mind," said Sango. "I even think there might be some kimono's left in my old house for us to wear so we can wash our clothes as well."

Kagome smiled and nodded at the idea. The prospect of fresh clothing really appealed to her.

Soon the women were off with Kilala at their heels, leaving the males still sitting around the fading fire. No one said anything for several minutes, and Shippo was getting anxious to do something.

"You two are boring. Let's play a game or something!" he suggested.

"Why don't you look in Kagome's bag for some drawing materials? I'd like to speak with Inuyasha alone for a while," Miroku told the boy.

Shippo sighed and did as he was told. As soon as the boy was in the hut Inuyasha had previously occupied, Miroku decided it was safe enough to talk about some adult matters.

"So you wanna talk, do ya?" Inuyasha began, setting his now empty bowl aside.

"Inuyasha, what is it you intend to do with the Shikon Jewel? Shippo was correct when he said we have a right to know. Do you still intend to become full demon?"

"So what if I do?"

"I'm serious Inuyasha. The wish you make can have serious consequences." Miroku didn't feel as though Inuyasha really intended to become a demon, not since his transformations at least. Still, Miroku felt he needed to know what the hanyou intended to do so he could plan for whatever consequences Inuyasha's wish may have.

"I not going to become a full-fledged demon. I haven't decided what I'm going to do yet," he replied honestly.

"You do realize that once a wish has been made and the jewel is no more, that Kagome more than likely won't be able to pass through the well anymore. We would never see her again."

The half demon sat silently, not making eye contact with the monk, but rather looking off to the side as though not wanting to acknowledge that possibility.

"She never once left your side while you were unconscious. She hasn't even slept since the final battle for fear that something would happen to you during the night."

Still Inuyasha sat silently. Miroku was getting frustrated. Inuyasha needed to come to terms with his feelings for Kagome before she left forever. He knew one thing that would get the silver-haired boy's attention.

"What do you intend to do about Kikyo?" Inuyasha snapped to attention. "Do you still intend to follow her into hell?"

Inuyasha opened his mouth to speak but was cut off by a shriek from Shippo.

"Inuyasha!" the boy shouted as he bounded up to him. "Look what I drew!" Shippo proudly held up his artwork, a drawing of himself in-between Inuyasha and Kagome. They looked like a family.

Sighing, Inuyasha got to his feet and, using a sheathed Tetsusaiga to support himself, began to walk away.

"I'm going for a walk," he grunted. "Don't follow me."

Inuyasha found a fallen tree on which to sit on. It wasn't very far from the village, but far enough that that meddlesome monk wouldn't bother him anymore. What business was it of his what Inuyasha did with the jewel? What did Miroku care about what happened with Kikyo?

Kikyo. Of course he intended to follow her into hell. He owed her his life, couldn't they see that? But still, Inuyasha wasn't sure he was ready to leave Kagome behind. He had grown very attached to her. But why would she want to stay with him now that the jewel was complete and they didn't need each other to find the shards? And besides, he needed to stay loyal to Kikyo, didn't he?

Soon, feminine voices drifted into the half dog demon's ears. It was Kagome and Sango, and they were coming his way. Too exhausted to move, Inuyasha decided to stay where he was and let them come to him. He wanted to see Kagome again anyway.

The girls were laughing about something. Curious, he decided to pay attention to their conversation.

"You look fine Kagome. Plus you blend in better in this era in a kimono than you do in your usual clothes." It was Sango speaking.

"I'm sure I do, it's just a little uncomfortable is all. I almost never wear a kimono anymore," Kagome replied. Now Inuyasha was really curious. He had never seen Kagome in a kimono before.

Sango sighed. "I've decided to rebuild my village," she stated. "I'm going to ask Miroku if he'll stay with me here. Do you think it's wrong for me to ask? Should I wait for him to say something first?"

"I don't think it's wrong at all," replied Kagome. "You need to find out where your relationship is going. Trust me, you don't want to drive yourself crazy by sitting around waiting on him."

"Maybe you need to follow your own advice?"

"That's different. Miroku's not in love with another woman."

"He cares about you more than you know he does," Sango said referring to the hanyou who was eavesdropping on them.

The women continued on in silence before finally coming upon Inuyasha sitting on a fallen tree.

"Inuyasha!" Kagome exclaimed as she blushed slightly. "Have you been listening to us?"

"How could I not? The whole forest can hear you two." He didn't mean for it to come out as harsh as it did, but he didn't want them to see how taken aback he was at the sight of Kagome in a red kimono. She was breathtaking.

"I'm going on ahead," announced Sango. "You should stay here and help Inuyasha get back to the village when he's ready."

Kagome nodded and took a seat next to the object of her affection.

"So," started Inuyasha, "Miroku and Sango huh?"

"Haven't you noticed before?" she asked. Surely he had to have seen the glances, the blushes, Miroku's shameless flirting at least!

"I thought she hated him. She's always smacking him and calling him a pervert."

"Just because you get mad at somebody sometimes, it doesn't mean you don't care about them," she replied. He nodded in understanding.

"I've wanted to talk to you, Inuyasha, about how things are going to be now. I need to tell you something, something important." But as she tried to look him in the eye, she noticed that his attention was now focused elsewhere, to the one thing that always took his attention away from her.

Cautiously, one of Kikyo's soul-stealers flew overhead. Inuyasha followed it with his eyes in order to see the direction it took. He then looked to Kagome.

"I have to go," he said apologetically.

"I know," she said softly.

Painfully, Inuyasha stood up and began to walk away. His image became blurred in her eyes as tears threatened to fall down Kagome's face. She stood and walked away in the opposite direction, letting the tears fall freely.

Inuyasha cursed inwardly when he smelled the salty fragrance of fresh tears. He hated it when she cried over him. But he had to go. He had to see Kikyo.