As the sun set on the end of the second day Kagome took in the sight of the battle field. They had all fought with everything they had. Sesshomaru had come to fight by his brother's side. Even the young Kitsune had helped by tending to the wounded. By far the worst losses were suffered by Kouga's wolf tribe, unable to be much more than a distraction to Naraku. Though the battle could not have been won without them.
Kagome looked in her hand at the Shikon no Tama, now whole as it was meant to be. She couldn't help but wonder what would happen with Inuyasha now that their task was complete. Would he use the jewel to become a full demon and forget about her? She knew she should seek out the others and make sure they were all right, but she was almost certain her ankle was broken and a few of her ribs were bruised at the very least. Each breath caused a sharp pain in her side.
Kagome raised her head. Sango was standing a few yards away, one arm hanging lifelessly at her side, and the other holding what was left of her Hiraikotsu. She seemed to be leaning on it for support. There was no sign of Miroku or Inuyasha. She could see Sango's eyes scanning for some trace of their friends.
"I found him." Shippou yelled.
Please let it be Inuyasha, Kagome thought. She also wanted Miroku to be found, but she knew Inuyasha was likely to have suffered the most serious injuries. Several times he had knocked her out of range of what surely would have been a killing blow, only to take Naraku's attack himself. He had even taken a few attacks meant for Sesshomaru. He had protected them all fiercely as if his own life had depended on their safety, but especially her.
"Who Shippou?" Sango yelled back.
"Miroku. He's alive, but unconscious." Shippou replied.
Kagome watched as Sango, limping as she ran, made her way to the injured monk. She fell to her knees beside him. "Miroku, can you hear me? Oh Kami, please be all right." Sango cried. She stroked his face softly with her good arm.
Miroku slowly fought his way to consciousness. He closed his hand and felt that his beads were missing. "Sango back away, my wind tunnel. I don't have my beads."
"Shhh. It's all right. Your wind tunnel is gone, as is Naraku." Sango said softly.
Miroku looked at his hand and found that the void that had so long been threatening to end his life had disappeared. He was free. He looked at Shippou and Sango's smiling faces. He took Sango's hand in his. "Now you can bear my children." he told her. Shippou tried not to watch as they kissed.
Kagome smiled. She was happy for her friends. A stiff wind blew and as it passed, she thought she heard it whisper her name. She looked out across the field and for an instant saw a trace of silver and red. Kagome knew she had to go to him. He was calling for her. She crawled wincing, and made her way to Inuyasha.
Inuyasha was laying before her covered in blood and still tightly clutching the Tetsusiaga. His breathing was labored and irregular. Kagome started to cry. She couldn't lose him now, especially after Kikyou had appeared just as all hope looked lost and sacrificed herself to save them. They had all watched as she used all of her spiritual power and in the process released the souls that had been keeping her alive. Kagome had even felt the rest of her soul return to her when it was done.
"What are you crying for now?" came Inuyahsa's hoarse and quite voice.
Kagome felt a claw gently wipe away a tear. "Inuyasha, you're alive." Kagome said happily.
"Of course I am baka. You think someone like Naraku could kill me?" Inuyasha replied.
"Can you get up?" Kagome asked.
"I don't think so. Is everyone all right?" Inuyasha asked. Kagome nodded. "Is he dead?" Kagome nodded again. "Then it's done." He held up his hand to her face briefly then let it fall as he lost consciousness. Inuyasha let the darkness sweep over him. He had protected his friends and defeated Naraku. He could let himself rest in peace now. Before the battle he had resigned himself to his own death and promised the spirits that he would be content to die, if only his friends were spared. If only he could have told Kagome, but he knew it would be easier for her, to live, to move on if she never knew.
"No." Kagome cried. "No, you can't do this. I need you. Please hold on Inuyasha. Shippou, Sango, Miroku, I need your help, please." Kagome yelled through her newly fallen tears. From somewhere far away Inuyasha heard Kagome's cries. I can't leave her if she needs me a part of him cried out. I have to try harder to stay.
They looked up and saw Kagome sitting next to what had to be Inuyasha. As quickly as they could, they went to answer Kagome's call. In the final minutes of the battle it had been Kagome and Inuyasha who had dealt the finishing blows. They owed them their lives.
Sango put a hand over her mouth when she saw Inuyasha. "Is he..." her words trailed off. She was afraid to speak them aloud, lest they come true.
"No, He's alive, but barely. I need to bandage his wounds, until I can get him to Kaede." Kagome told them. When it was done Kagome turned to Sango. "Can I borrow Kirara?"
"Of course." Sango replied. "Kirara, take Kagome and Inuyasha to Lady Kaede's."
Kirara landed them directly in front of Kaede's hut. "Kaede, I need your help." Kagome called. "Please."
Kaede heard Kagome's familiar voice coming from out side. It was filled with desperation. They had been gone for nearly two weeks. She hurried outside. "What is it ye need Kagome?" Kaede asked.
"It's Inuyasha. He is badly wounded. I can't help bring him in. I think my ankle is broken." Kagome was almost in tears.
"Don't cry child. I will help ye both." Kaede said. She called some men from the village to bring Inuyasha inside.
Kagome sat with his head in her lap, refusing to leave him, despite Kaede's insistence that it wasn't appropriate for her to be in there while he was undressed. Kagome just closed her eyes and shook her head. Kaede went about treating his injuries as best she could, though she didn't think it would do any good. Even a full demon probably could not survive injuries this severe.
When Kaede was finished and Inuyasha covered, Kagome looked at the old Miko expectantly. She could read the pity and despair in the old woman's eyes. "I do not know child, but he has a strong will. I will pray for ye both." Kaede told her. "Let me tend to ye now."
Kaede began to examine Kagome's ankle and looked up at the girl in surprise. She had not made a sound though it should have been quite painful. Kagome was in some sort of trance. Her entire body was surrounded by a golden aura. She radiated with power. Then without warning the glow moved from her and enveloped Inuyasha, as it did Kagome slumped, her forehead resting on his.
As long as she had lived, Kaede had never seen anything close to the power and sacrifice Kagome had just made. Inuyasha's breathing had returned to normal and his superficial wounds began to heal. Kaede finished with Kagome's ankle and laid her down beside Inuyasha. Both without stirring found the others hand and clasped it tightly.
When the others arrived Kaede was standing outside waiting. "Lady Kaede, how are Kagome and Inuyasha?" Miroku asked.
"That is a bit of a story I am afraid." Kaede said. She told Miroku and Sango what she had witnessed.
Sango didn't fully understand, but Miroku's eyes opened wide. "Are you positive about what happened?" Miroku asked.
"I wouldn't believe it if I had not seen it with my own eyes. I am sure." Kaede replied.
"What is it Miroku?' Sango asked.
"Apparently Kagome used her spiritual powers to transfer some of her own life's energy into Inuyasha." Miroku said. "I have only ever heard of one other person being able to accomplish such a feat and her soul now resides in the sacred jewel. Kagome could have died if she had given too much of herself."
"Will she be all right?" Sango asked.
"I believe she will. Ye may go and see them if ye like." Kaede said.
They went in and checked on Kagome and Inuyasha. Once they were back outside Miroku spoke. "Well I certainly could sense a change in Inuyasha's aura. Also, how did they come to be holding hands?" he asked.
"I thought that odd as well, but it has been the only time they have moved of their own will." Kaede told them.
For the next several days the only time Kagome or Inuyasha moved was when others were caring for them. The only times they showed any life at all was when they were sat up to be given water. Through everything they never let go of each others hands.
A few hours before the dawn of the seventh day Kagome opened her eyes. She hadn't wanted to wake. She had been having such wonderful dreams. In all of them Inuyasha was at her side holding her hand. Kagome looked over and realized that he had been holding her hand.
She sat up and watched him sleep. She wondered how long they had been in Kaede's hut. From the looks of it all but the most severe wound Inuyasha had received were healed. It must have been several days, she thought. As she tried to remove her hand from Inuyahsa's he opened his eyes.
"Kagome." he said softly.
"Yes, Inuyasha." she replied.
He turned his head and looked at her. "What did you do?" he asked. "Something feels different. I should have died." He looked between them and saw she was holding his hand. "You wouldn't let me go."
"I don't know but I'm glad you're still here." she told him. "I should go find the others and make sure they got here all right."
"Don't go. You can wait until morning." Inuyasha said.
She looked at him. He wasn't telling her, he was asking. He wanted her to stay with him. He so seldom asked for anything, that she couldn't refuse. "All right. I'll wait." Kagome replied.
She went to lay beside him, and was surprised when he pulled her to rest her head on his chest, but didn't object. He was comfortable and warm. In no time she had fallen back to sleep.
Once he was sure she was asleep he brushed the hair off her face and wrapped his arm around her. She had done something to save his life. The worthless life of a hanyou. Kikyou is finally at rest, he realized, maybe now things can be different between me and Kagome. He fell asleep thinking about her.
Inuyasha's ears twitched. There was someone nearby. He opened his eyes to find Miroku, Sango, and Shippou staring at them with irritating smiles on their faces. "What are you looking at?" he asked.
"Nothing." Miroku said. "We are just happy to see that you are both well."
"Well quit your staring and get out of here before you wake Kagome." Inuyasha growled.
"Inuyasha." Kagome said softly. She opened her eyes and sat up. Shippou jumped into her arms. Inwardly Inuyasha groaned. He had wanted to be close to her a little longer.
"Kagome you're awake. We were so worried. Miroku said you could have died." Shippou said.
"Well I'm fine now, but I could use a bath." Kagome said.
"I'll go with you." Sango offered. The two girls left the hut and headed toward the springs.
"What did you mean she could have died?" Inuyasha asked when Kagome and Sango were gone.
"Kagome gave you some of her life's energy to keep you alive long enough for your demon blood to heal your wounds. She sacrificed nearly a week of her own life to save yours." Miroku said. "By all accounts she should not have been able to do it. The only other person to have enough power was Midoriko."
"That stupid bitch. What was she thinking? I'm not worth that." Inuyasha said.
"She was thinking about you. Whether you want to believe it or not Kagome has strong feelings for you. Even when you would chase off after Kikyou she stayed by your side. To her your happiness is more important than her own." Miroku said. "Perhaps we all should have know how powerful she was sooner. Courage, wisdom, friendship, and love are Kagome's most valuable strengths and in the Shinto philosophy, when they all unite in one person it forms a powerful balance in the soul that can be used for great good."
"She still shouldn't have done it to save me." Inuyasha grumbled.
"I don't think she did it consciously. To be untrained as a Miko and still preform such and act speaks of great desire from both her heart and her soul." Miroku told him. "You should consider yourself lucky that she cares so much."
"Keh." Inuyasha mumbled. "What do you know monk?"
"More than you it would seem, Inuyasha." Miroku said.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Inuyasha yelled.
"Nothing, just there is no point in talking to you." Miroku replied. "Oh, you should know that Sango and I are going to be married this spring." With that Miroku turned and left the hut.
"Stupid monk." Inuyasha grumbled. "He really doesn't know anything." Why would Kagome want to be with someone like me, especially after the way I hurt her because of Kikyou. She's probably going to go back to her own time now and seal the well, happy to be moving on with her life. Then why did she save you, a small part of him asked.
Inuyasha closed the door on the voices in his head. He used Tetsusiaga to push himself to his feet. He should be outside making sure Kagome was safe, not in this stupid hut. He threw on his fire rat haori and stepped out into the sun. He walked until he was close enough to the springs to hear Sango and Kagome before sitting under a tree. He would have like to jump up and sit in the tree, but he didn't want to risk reopening his wound.
"Kagome." Sango said.
"What is it Sango?" Kagome asked.
"What are you going to do now, that Naraku is dead and we have the jewel?" Sango asked. She could see the question had made Kagome uncomfortable. "I only ask because I really want you to be here when Miroku and I are married this spring."
"Oh Sango that's wonderful." Kagome cried. "I promise I will be at your wedding, if Inuyasha will let me keep the jewel that long before he uses it to become a full demon."
"Do you think he still wants to?" Sango asked.
"I don't know, but I want him to be happy." Kagome said.
"Now that Kikyou is really dead, maybe he could be happy with you." Sango offered. "I don't think he wants to become a full demon anymore."
"I wish that was true. I don't want to get my hopes up though. I always thought that there must have been a reason that I was brought through the well to Inuyasha. After all the jewel was safe in my time and in my body. If I didn't come here for him, then why?" Kagome asked. "But now I don't know. He doesn't seem to have room in his heart for me."
"He cares about you Kagome." Sango said.
"Sometimes I think the only thing he cares about is the jewel." Kagome replied. "I have to go home for a while."
"How long?" Sango asked.
"I don't know, but I promise I'll come back for your wedding." Kagome told her.
"Are you going to tell Inuyasha that you are leaving?" Sango asked.
"No. He may try and stop me or take the jewel and then I could never come back. Plus I couldn't bear to see his face, if he didn't care that I was leaving. Could you tell Shippou and Miroku?" Kagome said.
"Of course. Do you want me to tell Inuyasha anything?" Sango asked.
"Tell him... Tell him I said goodbye." Kagome said. She got out of the spring and once she was dressed, she headed off for the well.
From his place under the tree Inuyasha had heard their entire conversation. He wanted to chase after Kagome and stop her from leaving, but he knew she didn't want to see him. Some of the things she had said worried him. She promised to come back, but there was something final about the way she had told Sango to tell him goodbye. He was furious with himself for ever giving her the impression that she was less important to him than the jewel. What am I going to do, he wondered.
Inuyasha made his way back to the village. Miroku was sitting outside Kaede's hut with Shippou. "Where have you been?" Miroku asked.
"Not that it is any of your business, but I was guarding the girls." Inuyasha said. "And no you hentai I wasn't watching them."
They saw Sango coming through the trees. "Where's Kagome?" Shippou asked.
"She went home." Inuyasha said.
"How did you know that?" Sango asked from behind him.
"I heard the two of you talking." Inuyasha said.
"And you didn't go after her?" Sango said.
"No. She didn't want to see me." Inuyasha replied.
"You really are clueless Inuyasha." Sango sighed.
"What are you talking about." he yelled.
"If you did hear us talking then you know what I am talking about." Sango said.
"Keh." was all the reply he made.
"Is she coming back?" Shippou asked.
"She promised that she would, but she didn't know when." Sango told him. "She needs some time to herself."
"This is all your fault isn't it Inuyasha." Shippou said. "She's only been awake a few hours and already you've driven her home."
"I didn't do anything." Inuyasha yelled.
"That's the point." Shippou yelled back. "First you let Kikyou come between you and now that your excuses are all gone you still do nothing."
Inuyasha smacked the little kitsune on the head. "Why did you do that?" Sango asked. "He was only telling you the truth. She said she would come back to be at the wedding, but what about after that. Are you really just going to let her walk out of our lives?"
"What do you know? What do any of you know? Just mind your own damn business." Inuyasha yelled. He left them all standing there staring at him and walked into the forest. He didn't have a set destination. He just needed to get away and think.
"What is his problem?" Shippou asked.
"I wish I knew." Miroku replied. "He's too stubborn for his own good."
"He has to know how much Kagome cares for him." Shippou said. "He's going to ruin everything." Shippou ran off in the opposite direction of Inuyasha.
Sango and Miroku looked at each other. They both knew that Shippou had gone off to cry and that he was right. "What can we do?" Sango asked.
"There is nothing we can do, except pray that Inuyasha starts being honest with her and with himself." Miroku said. He pulled Sango into a hug.
Kagome came home and found her mother in the kitchen, cooking dinner. "Hello mama." Kagome called.
Kagome's mother embraced her. "Welcome home dear." Mrs. Higurashi said. "How long are you staying."
"A while." Kagome replied. "Forever, I just don't know mama." Kagome hadn't planned on telling her mother she was upset, but as her tears started to fall, she had no choice.
Her mother came over to her and hugged her tightly. "What's the matter dear?" she asked.
"It's nothing...It's just that baka Inuyasha." Kagome cried. "Why did I have to get these feelings for someone who doesn't feel the same way about me. He probably doesn't care if I ever go back, as long as I return the jewel." It had all just poured out of her. She had to admit though, that it felt better to tell someone, instead of keeping it all inside.
"I think Inuyasha cares for you more than you know." Mrs. Higurashi told her daughter. "I bet he comes for you sooner than you think, and not just because you have the jewel."
"If only that were true." Kagome sighed, before heading up to her room.
Inuyasha found himself standing beside the well. Kagome's scent was still all around. It was nearly nightfall when he left his vigil of the well, and retreated to a more private place. It was where he always went when Kagome returned to her own time.
He started to think about all that Kagome had said to Sango. Why had she been brought here? She may have been Kikyou's reincarnation, but she was not the same person. The more he thought about it the more he realized how different Kikyou and Kagome really were. Kikyou wanted him to be someone else before she would freely give him her love. Kagome had never expected him to be other than who he was. If he was being honest he knew that when Kagome looked at him, she didn't see a worthless hanyou. She saw him, for all his faults, and accepted him. Kagome had taught him trust. She had given him new life. Could he really go back to his life without her?
It had been a week since Kagome left and Inuyasha had last been seen. Sango and Miroku were growing concerned. Shippou was having a hard time. He was afraid that he was going to lose both of his parents again. Even though Kagome and Inuyasha weren't his real parents he had adopted them as such. "I hope Inuyasha has gone to see her." Sango said.
"So do I." Miroku replied.