Hello everyone! Sorry for another one shot, but that's how it goes. Not much time for writing, and this was already over half done, so meh. But it's not a tragedy! Can you believe it? I can't!

Disclaimer: Yes, I'm Rumiko Takahashi. I own them. Really. -shows (fake) ID- The song in here is called My Own True Love, and is sung by Mary Chaplin Carpenter.

A/N – Ok, I'm reposting this. I decided the song title was too corny and was driving off readers, so it has been renamed. The title is now one of my favorite lines in the song. This used to be My Own True Love! And hopefully this time some of the text stuff will work properly... And I fixed up some mistakes as well.

The Seas May Burn

By Koneko-chan

Blood spurted, the ground quaked, and the battle to end it all raged on. A final alliance between Sessho-maru, Koga, and Inu-yasha and his friends stood against the bloodthirsty mobs of yokai that were assembled before Naraku. The Tetsuseiga flashed and killed countless amounts of demons, but Naraku, who now possessed the nearly full jewel, had attracted thousands of demons. It was a battle they were quickly losing, despite the force of their allies, for with all his power, Naraku made Kagura control the demons even after they were cut down, and Kanna controlled the living, forcing their bloodlust. Kagome fired arrow after arrow, but to no avail. Her target was Naraku, but she just couldn't reach him.

Suddenly, in an incredible flash of light, a single arrow flew through the demons and right past Naraku, clearing a trail towards him. All the action ceased as Naraku's surprise rubbed off on Kanna, and all the demons in turn looked on in confusion. Seeing his chance, Inu-yasha moved to use the Kaze no kizu and finish the battle, when a lone figure stepped into the path – a lone figure in red and white miko robes.

Naraku smirked.

"What do you want here, Kikyo? Come to give me the rest of the jewel?"

Inu-yasha growled at the comment, but Kikyo merely smirked back at him.

Kikyo's soul skimmers swirled away from her, wrapping themselves around Kagome as they pulled her off the ground. Inu-yasha and Koga tried to stop them, but Kikyo gave them a sharp look, and them desisted. However, both remained hovering cautiously and ready to jump in if Kagome faced any real danger. Kikyo's face hardened, but she said nothing. Kagome merely accepted her plight defiantly, for she had no hope of escaping the soul bugs.

As the little soul bugs brought Kagome to their master, they wrapped her tightly while one snatched the shards that she had in a small bottle on a chain on her neck. Kikyo accepted the small bottle from the creature and emptied the shards into her hands.

"Hey!" yelled Kagome. "What do you think you're doing!?!"

Kikyo merely ignored her reincarnation and turned back to Naraku as she pulled a cloth containing several more shards from a hidden pocket inside her sleeve. She handed it to a soul skimmer, then answered Naraku's taunt.

"Exactly. Here are your jewels, Onigumo."

Even as the shining creature left, Kikyo fired arrows at the recovering yokai, and several hundred went down, completely purified. The soul bugs dropped Kagome and Inu-yasha and Koga rushed to her side while watching Kikyo and Naraku intently.

"Inu-yasha! She-"

"I know. But we'll have to trust her..."

"How can you say that?!? Isn't it obvious by now?! She's -"

"Shut up, wolf! You just don't get it!"

"You're a fool, puppy. If this causes any harm to come to Kagome, I swear-"

"Will you shut up?!"

All attention centered again as Kikyo's voice broke through. Looking up, they saw that the shards had reached Naraku.

"Now, Onigumo...."

But Naraku wasn't listening. He was laughing. His eyes shone red, and in a giant sweep, his already incredible aura increased tenfold.

"You foolish woman! You just sealed your own fate, and your beloved Inu-yasha's as well!"

Kanna and Kagura were instantly absorbed back into him, as well as many other demons that were too close. His body grew, until he was triple the size of any of them, a giant spider yokai with power that was greater than any they'd ever felt.

But Kikyo smiled.

"Now, Naraku – you're finished."

As everyone looked on, she fired one arrow, with all her strength, energy, and power, at the massive creature, nearly collapsing in exhaustion as soon as it left her bow.

It hit with a sickening squelch, and continued to burn through him slowly, a white light burning through intense darkness of the rearing body of the spider. It appeared again on the other side of him, devoid of any power. A gasp went up from all the defenders, and they all watched with hope and fear in their eyes and hardly daring to breathe, with the exception of Kikyo, who wore a satisfied smirk from her place on the ground.

However, her smirk quickly disappeared, just like the hole she had blown through Naraku's middle. She quickly put another arrow to her bow, but she knew it was pointless.

"Kukuku... Fool. You gave me the ultimate weapon of demonic evil. You increased my power so much that even you are no match for it. Did you not see that fatal flaw in your plan? You don't have the power to defeat me! You were powerful once, but now you are nothing!"

Hope faded from everyone, including Kikyo. They'd lost. All returned to their battle stances, but with darkness in their eyes.

Kagome, however, would not accept defeat, and stood up and started walking forward.

"Don't even dream that you have the power, girl. If Kikyo did not in her strongest arrow, then you have no chance. You don't even possess a full soul! You're a mere reincarnation."

But Kagome turned from Naraku, walking instead towards Kikyo.

"Of course I can't defeat you. But you WILL die, you can be sure of that, bastard!"

With that, she came up behind the dead miko and wrapped her arms around Kikyo's waist while resting her forehead on her cold back. Then, she concentrated on Kikyo.

"Well, isn't this an interesting development? The girl thinks she can comfort the miko into more strength...." He lashed out suddenly, faster than the eye could see, and beat a sneaking Sessho-maru way, leaving a deep bloody gash on the Tai-yokai's front. The usually blank demon hissed in pain as poison sizzled. Koga quickly suffered a similar fate.

But Kagome didn't flinch. As a matter of fact, she didn't even know what was happening. Kikyo, however, realized what was happening as she felt her strength rising. Power like she hadn't known before surged through her entire body. Kagome was giving her the energy and power of their shared soul. It was their last chance. For this one time, Kikyo would unify with the girl. As she accepted this, she came nearly to life again as the bits of soul she possessed joined with that of Kagome's, and Kagome's pure, untrained power.

Their bodies glowed with an unearthly purple light, then a pure force burst from their bow. The energy was so pure that the arrow couldn't even be seen, and even the demons that were allies had to move as fast and as far away as they could to avoid being purified. Naraku never stood a chance. With a deafening screech, he was destroyed in a colossal blast of purity. Nothing remained of him. The poison in the air lessened, and the land that had been scarred by his poisons now looked as healthy as they were before he lived, with flowers and green grass.

Everybody stood in shock. All the remaining demons who hadn't been purified fled the scene, although their numbers were greatly reduced. Sango dropped to her knees in shock, then stood and ran over to Miroku who was staring at his unbound, healed hand dumbly. She hugged him ferociously around the neck, and he held her loosely, still in shock. Sessho-maru and Koga walked, or in Koga's case, limped over to where Inu-yasha was standing, all three staring doubtfully at the spot Naraku had been standing. Kikyo was panting from the effort of the arrow, but looked pleased about something that only she knew as their exhausted soul returned to Kagome.

However, Kagome was totally drained of energy, for she had given it all to Kikyo. She gasped, still holding tight to Kikyo's waist for support as the world spun around her. Her body shuddered as it recovered the soul that it had lent to Kikyo, which only added to her distress.

She never saw it coming.

-Fare thee well

My own true love

Farewell for a while-

A quick jerk from Kikyo, and an arrow was suddenly thrust deep into her gut, tearing through skin and vital organs. Crimson blood bubbled around the area, staining her already dirty school uniform before rolling down her body in drips and falling to the ground. Kagome gasped. As fast as the arrow came, it was torn out, causing more pain and damage as it went. Kagome staggered away from Kikyo, hands on the wound, her mouth opening and closing soundlessly, a tiny bit of blood trickling out. She shuddered, then fell backwards into Inu-yasha's stunned grasp. Dimly, she could feel Inu-yasha holding her and hear him alternately calling her name and yelling at Kikyo.

"Kagome! Kagome, don't you dare.... Kikyo! What the hell did you do to her?! Why, dammit!?"

"Because now, there is nothing keeping you here. Naraku is dead, the Shikon no tama is purified, and my foolish reincarnation is dying. Your ties to this world are severed. Now you can journey with me to Hell with no excuses."

"NO!!!"

-I'm going away

But I'll be back

Though I go 10,000 miles-

Kikyo stepped back, and surprise registered on her face as Inu-yasha shot to his feet in anger, still holding Kagome carefully, like a fragile treasure. Kikyo's cold voice didn't change, although she now sounded angry, betrayed. But something else clouded her face.

"I did this for you – for us! Your life is mine, Inu-yasha. She was taking you from me. Now we can go, as we should have all those years ago. It's over – come to Hell with me."

"Sessho-maru! Heal her, dammit! She can't die!"

Sessho-maru regarded Inu-yasha coldly while he worked to cover his own wound.

"It would seem you have a promise to fulfill, Inu-yasha. I will not interrupt this business of yours."

Inu-yasha growled murderously.

"You owe her your life, bastard. Or has the great Sessho-maru lost sight of his honor?"

Sessho-maru's eyes flashed in anger, and his normally calm voice was wracked with suppressed rage.

"Do not lecture me on honor, whelp! You can't even fulfill your own long-made promises!"

"And what of it? I will not see Kagome die! She's mine, and death will not have her!"

--Kikyo's POV—

I reenter the conversation.

"What do you mean? You loved me, and I followed you into death. I died for you, with you! You owe me your life! You even declared in Naraku's trap that you would follow me one day – I heard you. Your life belongs to me and no other."

"I'm not going with you – Kikyo would never have done something like this. I won't follow you now, it's not you. Can't you accept this? Dammit, understand!" He's frustrated, trying to staunch the blood flow from the girl, but I think I see some... desperation? Deep in his eyes...

I watch, keeping my features blank and my voice cold so I don't give away the turmoil inside me, but holding a blank face has grown harder than it was before. Frustration rises in me. I haven't felt frustration for awhile, but I retained part of my soul when the girl aided me, I didn't let her steal it all back, and I'm feeling things I'd forgotten. And now, all I can think is 'he won't come?' and let that fuel my anger. But something doesn't feel right....

Yet he doesn't wait to see if I understand. He turns and returns to his assault on Sessho-maru. Damn him, I'm not letting him go that easy. Not after what he did to me!

-10,000 miles

My own true love

10,000 miles or more-

"Sessho-maru! Heal her! You owe it to her!"

Kagome's cry of intense pain added to Inu-yasha's argument. Sessho-maru sighed, then pulled the Tenseiga out.

"I do not like interfering here. However, loath though I am to admit it, I owe the girl a life debt. And with the miko's permission, I will pay it now, or I may not get another chance."

As Inu-yasha splutters in anger, Sessho-maru looks to me with just a hint of a threat in his eyes. I carefully keep my face smooth, in an expression of calm control. This would be a deadly enemy to make at a time when my strength is low. He could, and likely will kill me to avoid such courtesies if I choose to refuse.

"Do as you wish. It matters not to me. Inu-yasha has refused my gift to him, wishes to betray me again. Now, I am too weak to bring him with me, but I will yet. I will return for his life."

-The rocks may melt

And the seas may burn

If I should not return-

Sessho-maru watches me carefully with his sharp amber eyes, then nods slightly. A flash of light, and Kagome is resting peacefully in Inu-yasha's arms, free of wounds. However, her energy is still very low, so she merely breathes and shakes, like the weak, pathetic creature she is, all the while clinging to Inu-yasha. However, she manages to whisper out two words before slipping into the depths of slumber.

"Thank you..."

It seems to be addressed to everyone. It disgusts me. Sessho-maru puts away his blade, while the priest and exterminator manage to thank him awkwardly, sincerely, and formally, all at once. The wolf demon that has been pursuing that stupid girl seems merely lost. I believe he realizes that the girl will never be his. He'll still have his chance if- when I have my way. But it is Inu-yasha that I watch closely. He doesn't notice any of us, so lost in his own world. With her.

He looks down at the girl in his arms, and his expression softens from its anger at his brother. The fact that he nearly lost her seems to set in, and I watch him start taking deeper, faster breaths as he pulls her closer to him and tucks her head under his chin, like he'll never let her go. He's so vulnerable right now, showing so much weakness, in front of his greatest rivals no less, his brother and the wolf. It's like he doesn't care that he's so weak. It's like he doesn't know they're there. That used to be so important to him, his strength....

Something twinges inside me, something familiar that, but I haven't felt it in so long.... What is it? I haven't felt it since I was alive... what has this extra soul done to me?

In her sleep, the girl responds to his possessive hold with a small whimper as she cuddles closer, and he sighs in relief – must be normal for her. Then....he smiles. Inu-yasha. Inu-yasha is sitting there, wearing a tiny smile of joy and relief. And it's in his eyes, too – those gorgeous amber pools are shimmering with relief. That twinge in me grows, and seems to itch deep in my chest. That smile, it's so gentle, honest.... It's not a smirk, not a sarcastic grin.... I can't help but stare at him, sitting and ignoring the world, only aware of the existence of himself and the girl, that fragile, stupid girl in his arms.

-Oh don't you see

That lonesome dove

Sitting on an ivy tree-

He gets up and leaps into the air, bearing her carefully, gently, lovingly, towards the home of my sister. He doesn't spare anyone another glance, never mind an explanation. He doesn't even look at me. He doesn't meet my eyes or promise he'll come back, or even seem threatened by me. He seems to have..... have forgotten me. And then....

...I know I've lost him.

I know what that feeling, that twinge is now. Hurt. Pain. Despair. All those emotions I haven't felt since I was alive. Since I loved him. Now that I've taken some soul back from Kagome, I feel it again. He's leaving me again. And it hurts again. Oh, it more than hurts, it's tearing me up, swallowing me. That twinge seems to be sunk deep in my very soul (or what I possess of it), and it's shaken me to my core. The core I'd forgotten.

I told Naraku once that, in existing in this makeshift flesh, I felt freer than ever before. I told him that I could love and I could hate, and my soul was freer than in its mortality. And I spoke true – it was free of these small, painful emotions. Love and hate were all that I was capable of, nothing more. I could love Inu-yasha, and I could hate him for betraying me. So simple, it allowed me to calculate and fight better, to work against Naraku better. With a soul, even just a piece, it comes back to me.... The emotions that make mortals weak, that make Inu-yasha weak. My passion is back. It fueled my anger not long ago. And I've already killed it again. He's killed it.

And yet, I'm not angry. I would have been, before I recovered more soul. I would have been furious. I would have felt hate, I would have blasted him and taken him with me by force. Now I feel fear and pain and... and guilt, even shame, wrenching in my heart and bit of soul. A tear slides down my face, a lone drop of salty sorrow.

-She's weeping for

Her own true love

As I shall weep for mine-

But even amongst that, this new bit of soul has new memories that belong to its rightful body. And these emotions, this hurt and betrayal, are triggering them – her memories of pain. I feel her hurt at watching me kiss Inu-yasha, her pain and despair when he'd run off to find me, her pain at seeing him with me, and on and on. Her pain when he wouldn't look her in the eyes because he'd just seen me, when he'd compare her to me and make her feel bad.... Before, seeing that memory would have made me happy, knowing that Inu-yasha did that. But now.... It hurts. I'm... ashamed...

And then I understand something else. She is me. Not just because we look alike or because she stole.... Shares my soul. No, we have more in common than that. We share the same fate, and the same pain and burden. The same love. She's like I was, long before Inu-yasha came, before I had the jewel, before anything. When I'd go pick flowers and love life, love my life.

I feel her guilt, too. She feels guilty because she feels she has no claim to Inu-yasha, no right to love him. And I realize.... No matter how much I love him, he's hers now. I can't have him. That spurs the old anger, the old hatred, but.... But something in this piece of soul suppresses it before it can even take effect. I feel guilty for having caused so many problems.

No! He's mine, his life is mine! This is her soul taking effect on me, but I won't let it! The little witch!

I sigh. No, no that's not right. We are the same soul, the same pain - heh, even the same Inu-yasha. And yet such different people. She's so happy, innocent, full of life. Like I was when I was young. I was much more reserved, sorrowful – I had a burden that she has never had to care for before. Keeping village safe while guarding the Shikon no tama is no easy task. And yet, I don't begrudge her it. Not anymore. And Inu-yasha loves....loved.... us both in different ways. He loves Kagome as he could never love me. Between he and I, we found comfort in each other, protection, a friend. A much needed friend.

I need that friend again right now. For the first time since I've 'returned' from death, I need to be comforted. And now, I have no right to him at all...

Oh come ye back

My own true love

And stay a while with me

Suddenly, I am aware that I have been walking. I have entered the old village. The people cower in fear. They know what I am – the living dead. They are right to fear it.

I stand in front of the hut of my sister, the home I used to have, but I do not go forward. Inu-yasha is wary of my presence, and another step might mean death. Even to me, if the claw marks on the ground are to be considered. And the footprints that lead away in a hurry. The villagers probably rushed forward to see what was wrong with her. Fools...

As I expected, Inu-yasha steps out, eying me carefully. He's ready to jump into action at any moment. It hurts me to see this, but I deserve it and am not angry. But still...

"You would hurt me?"

"To protect her, yes," he answers carefully, still suspicious. And yet, I can see it in his eyes: he doesn't want to, and it's hurting him to threaten me.

"I haven't come to harm her, or take you to hell, I promise. I.... I owe you an apology. I owe her an apology. I've been so wrong...."

He remains silent, and continues to watch with suspicion that has been doubled.

"I know, this doesn't sound like me. But I'm not trying to trick you or enchant you anymore. I kept part of her soul when she shared it with me, and it all became clear. I understand." I look at him, pleading with my eyes for him to understand. He just has to, or I'll never forgive myself.

I approach him and place my hands on his chest. It's a bold move, but necessary. I stare him straight in the eyes, so he can see mine. And I see his eyes widen. Even I can feel the change in my eyes – they're not so cold anymore. But the rest of me still is, and it's emphasized by the warmth of his body. A reminder of what I am, and what I am not.

"You were there for me through everything. In a way, you saved me, despite Naraku. I wasn't alone. I'm sorry that I wanted to change you. I'm sorry for everything. And I'm glad that Kagome isn't so alone and weak as I was. She'll love you selflessly. She always has. Don't ever forget that."

Inu-yasha is in shock. I don't blame him in the least. He stares into my eyes.

-If I had a friend

All on this earth-

"But... Kikyo, you didn't... you weren't...."

"I was weak. I was so afraid of being alone, I was willing to change you to be rid of my burden and be normal, to be happy. And I'm sorry. But thank you, for always being there for me." I smile a little, and his eyes soften. How long has it been since I smiled a real smile? I can't even remember. "I've always loved you, and I always will." He tenses slightly here, ready to back away. I pretend not to notice. "Kagome herself is proof enough of that."

Inu-yasha looks at me in stunned disbelief.

"Kikyo...."

"I'm so sorry, for everything. You'll tell her I'm sorry, won't you?"

Inu-yasha nods dumbly.

"I'll return her soul to her now. All of it. And again.... Thank you."

I lean up and place a lingering kiss on his warm cheek. Oh, so wonderfully warm.... One last, warm touch. As I pull away.... It happens. I let go. I let the barriers down that hold the souls in, hold my body together in an imitation of life. Before my frail, dead body perishes back to complete death, my mind recognizes a shining piece of soul swirl away, circle around Inu-yasha's head, and flee into the hut. Other, less vibrant souls appeared after, and then everything ends....

-You've been a friend to me-

--Inu's POV--

In a flash of light, she crumples into my arms. Bits and pieces of soul circle us, but one bit, shining above the other circles my head, before skimming into the hut. Kagome's soul.... Their soul.....

Kikyo's motionless body lies in my arms. She is finally at peace, finally ready to become her reincarnation. I smile a little, then pull the cold body close. I lift her bridal style, and take her into the hut.

Kaede-baba gasps when I bring her in. She has the wrong idea, so I ignore her. I lay Kikyo's body down, then gently shut her blank, emotionless eyes. No more anger, hate, or betrayal in those eyes.... Just the death she so deserved. I smile again. There is no sorrow. She wasn't the Kikyo I knew and loved – Kagome took that place in her own, special way. Kikyo found herself.... And surrendered. At the very end, she was the real Kikyo again, because she had more of the shared soul, more of her self.

Kagome probably would have done the same thing, had things been the other way around. Given up the soul, given Kikyo to me. When they're all of themselves, they've got a lot more in common than they realize.

Kaede seems to understand. She approaches us carefully, then bows before her sister's body. A few moments later, she rises from paying her respects and turns to me.

"Did you speak with her?"

I do not answer at first, then I meet her eyes and nod. She gives me a questioning look, so I sigh and then speak.

"At the very end... just now, at the door, she came... The real Kikyo. And she... she let go."

Kaede's eye returns to her sister for a moment, a look of surprise, then wonder taking her face. Then, with a meaningful glance at Kagome, she returns to me.

"Inu-yasha.... What do you plan to do?"

I look at her, for once considering her words. What do I plan to do? I take a deep breath..... then look at Kagome. Sweet, gentle Kagome. She's sleeping so peacefully on her mat that she uses when she stays here. She has a blanket covering her softly, seeming to hover close to her instead of wrapping around her or resting on top of her. Kagome, from the future. Kagome, with more fire than anyone in any world. Kagome, who has loved and taught me so much. Kami-sama, don't ever let anything happen to her.

Kaede has been watching me and awaiting my reply. For my part, I sit in silence and indecision, letting my eyes rest on Kagome. So of course, I'm very startled when Kaede speaks.

"I see. You choose wisely, Inu-yasha." I look up at her, bewildered. What is the old witch babbling about now?

She smiles kindly at me. I hate it when she does that – it makes me feel so evil. Keh.

"I must go see to the others. They should be arriving soon upon Kirara, unless I am mistaken. But as you have spoken no news, good or ill, I shall assume it went well."

I watch her hobble out of the hut. Damn she confuses me. I shrug it off as her being a strange old woman.

When I turn my eyes back to Kagome, I see that she is starting to wake. Small twitches in her face give her away. Then suddenly she starts taking deep, exaggerated breaths, as though it's difficult to breathe. Even from where I sit, I can hear her heartbeat pounding. Her eyes shoot open and show fear and pain – I race to her side in fear. What's happening?

She's breathing in deep gasps, and coughing in between as I haul her into a sitting position against my body. As I do so, her breathing slows again and her heart beat slowly regulates itself. A shiver runs down her body, and she shuts her eyes and moans.

"K-Kagome? What's wrong?"

"What happened?"

"He's dead, Kagome, don't worry," I assure her in fear.

"No, not that. I know that! Kikyo! What...."

Suddenly her hand shoots to her stomach. She doesn't seem to be finding what she's looking for – the wound.

"Sessho-maru healed you – remember?"

She sits with blank features for a moment before nodding. I wonder what has her so empty for a moment, before I realize she's look past me, at something over my shoulder.

Kikyo.

"What....is.... Is she...?"

I follow her gaze briefly, and notice how Kikyo does look as though she's merely sleeping. She looks so peaceful...

I smile as I turn back to Kagome. Kagome's eyes are filled with tears. I guess she's assumed the worst. I can feel confusion on my face as I look at her, and she lowers her face, so her bangs are covering her eyes. She looks so sad...

Gently I grab her chin and make her look me in the face.

"Kagome, it's ok. It's ok."

But she's still crying, even sobbing a little, and she won't look at me.

"No, no it's not..."

I can't seem to talk sense into her. After several failed attempts, I grab her chin again, a little more forcefully. Not enough to hurt her, but enough to get her attention.

"Oi, wench! Will you listen? She's gone! She let go! Kagome, she let go – she gave your soul back," Kagome looks at me, still with tears trailing from her eyes, but with a dawning disbelief. "She came here, and she apologized. She wanted you to know."

Suddenly Kagome pulls away. Her eyes go unfocused, and one pale hand raises to her mouth. She lowers it as she begins to speak, but her eyes stay out of focuse, as though she's remembering something.

"Inu-yasha... I can see it... she took part of my soul... I can see her last moments, what she saw... her memories... everything since she was brought back..."

More tears yet come from Kagome's eyes. Then, before I can blink, she's in my arms. She clings to me tightly, and I hold her closely in response. I can feel her sobbing into my neck, although for what reason I can't even begin to guess.

I run a hand through her hair in what I hope is a comforting fashion. I ask her what's wrong, but she's sobbing too much to talk. I'm worried, but I just hold her tight and let her cry it out.

Less than ten minutes later, she's asleep in my arms, though I have yet to find out what set her off so badly. I'm reluctant to put her down. Her warmth feels so good, so natural, as she sleeps on my shoulder. I take a deep breath, and slowly release it. I feel more relaxed now than ever before. I'm still worried for Kagome, but... but she's here with me. In my arms. Kikyo is at peace, Naraku is gone at last, we've all survived our quest, the jewel is whole... I sigh in contentment and bury my face in her hair, taking in her wonderful scent...

I wake as sunlight reaches my face. I hadn't realized I was asleep... I don't open my eyes – could it have really all been a dream? What will I see? I clench my eyes shut. I don't want to know. Then I feel something fluttering at my neck. I notice the weight across my body, the soothing scent in my nose, the warm, gentle breaths against my neck.

Slowly, afraid to make it disappear, I open my eyes and glance down. She's there, in my arms, already awake. I can feel her blinking, her eyelashes brushing my skin. Can this be real? Is it real? I pull her a little closer, so she won't vanish if I blink.

"Inu-yasha...?" she speaks in a gentle whisper, almost mistakable for a breeze. Here it comes – the communication. I pull her closer again, wishing that waking moment would never end...

"Yes?"

"...thank you..."

I let it sit at that. There's nothing to be said beyond that. I nod, just to show I heard her. I can almost feel her smile a little as she curls up closer to me and falls asleep again.

I would love to go back to sleep, forever maybe. I would be so content to just drift off here and now, with Kagome in my arms and nothing in the world to fear...

But alas, the sun. So I sit and stroke Kagome's hair while I gaze about the room and it's occupants. In one corner, Kaede's best blanket lies covering Kikyo, and some incense is lit. I am rather skeptical – Kikyo's soul requires no guidance to the next world, for it still exists in this one. But then, it is showing proper respect for the dead, and for that I'm glad.

Next my eyes fall on my friends. They're bruised and bloody, with bandages in many places. But they're alive, and judging by their steady heartbeats, they'll remain so. Kaede is missing, likely on some village call, or just out on a walk – she always did wake early. Shippo is curled up and using Kirara for a pillow. For her part, the small fire cat is awake and guarding the glittering, innocent-looking Shikon no Tama. I glare at the marble briefly, but Kagome mumbles something as my body tenses, so I relax. I then look to Miroku and Sango, who are both smiling in their sleep. Miroku is clutching his once-cursed hand, even in his sleep, and tear-marks are unmistakable on Sango's face. Beaten up as they seemed, I can think of no one who ever looked more victorious than they.

A few hours later, everyone is awake. Everyone is smiling. Crying. Laughing. Hugging. I limit myself at smiling. Kagome decides to go to her home to get better medical supplies and celebration food – there's going to be a huge feast tonight. The villagers were wondering what they would eat, as many crops have been destroyed this year. Kagome mentions something about 'three years of allowance that she never had time to spend...' and assures them that there'll be food.

I go with her on her way to the well. She's still weak. She may have been healed, but she was definitely in shock. On top of everything I dealt with last night, she also had her soul removed from her, and just doesn't have the energy or strength she needs. So, with Kagome on my back, I head for the well.

Before we enter the portal, I stop her.

"Kagome... can I ask you something? About last night?"

She freezes up a little. "Sure, go for it."

"Why were you crying? Weren't you happy? I thought... I thought you'd be happy that I could be with you..."

"I was – I am! But it was so much to take in... Naraku was dead, I was nearly dead, I'd had my soul stolen, I thought you'd still chosen her... those were some of the scariest moments of my life! And yet... somehow..." she looked up at me, and gave a small, honest smile, "...somehow, it all worked out."

I released a breath I hadn't known I was holding. She fishes for the necklace that now has the complete Shikon on it.

"Here. It's for you."

I can't pretend I haven't been expecting this. But as I look at the purple ball that she's offering me, I find...

"I don't want it..."

Kagome looks at me funny. "But... but you always said..."

"I always said you smelled bad, too. I lied, ok?"

She sighs.

"Inu-yasha, I can't protect this thing, and I don't know how to purify it. We need to make a wish..."

Her eyes suddenly light up. She grabs the jewel in her fist, and clenches her eyes tightly together in concentration. Her hand flashes, and she falls back. I catch her before she can fall, of course. She pants, surprised, then smiles as she shows me her empty hand.

"I wished for the village and it's people to be safe and have good harvests, so that this may always be a safe refuge for anyone." I smile down at her in approval. She has a big heart.

Suddenly, we both realize that I'm sitting on the wells edge with her in my lap, just like when I caught her. We both blush and look away, but neither of us moves. We stay that way for a few (rather awkward) moments. Then she sighs and stands. My body misses her warmth already...

"I guess we should go – we have a lot to do."

I watch her, closely. I have an idea, and I can't get it out of my head. This seems the perfect moment...

"Kagome...?"

She turns to face me, looking at me expectantly. She looks in my eyes, and suddenly I can see it in her eyes too – this same feeling, urge...

I stand up, walk over to her, pull her close... and give her a kiss. A small, chaste, lingering kiss... she tastes so sweet... As I pull away, I observe her face, her eyes fluttering open to reveal happy blue eyes. She smiles at me, then takes my hand, and together we jump into the well.

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I can't believe I finished this... I started it months ago. I saw it tonight, and I was like 'o yeah, I remember that...' I read it, and when I got to the part where I left off, I was furious at myself for not finishing. Then I realized, I wasn't some other author, and I actually could do something about it. smacks forehead So I did! What do you think? I was rather pleased with it myself. -

Also, what I was going for with the village thing is that it would later become Tokyo. But there was no easy way to do that, cuz I'd still have to explain how the safety and such only applies to the village area, and ended when the jewel was reborn within Kagome, to avoid time problems, y'know.

Let me know! Until next time!