Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha or any of its characters, etc, etc. No Killing.
To See You Again
"Are you sure about this, Kagome?" He looked so deflated as he asked that question and she felt the breath catch in her throat, but forced herself to nod. If it was possible, his expression only fell more, those furry white ears flattening themselves completely against his head.
"It's best this way, we both know that, Inuyasha. If there was any other way..." She looked from his face down to the small pink-white ball in her hand, desperately searching for that alternate path she spoke of.
"But there isn't, is there?" He sighed. "I understand..."
They locked gazes, bright amber meeting brown, and she couldn't help the sob that tore from her lips in that moment. Without thinking she raced forward and into his arms, acutely aware as he attempted to wrap himself around her like a blanket. She felt warm there in his embrace, but for the first time she knew that it was a feeling she could not hold on to. It was not for them to be together. Time was not meant to clash with itself, and they were breaking that rule simply by existing beside each other.
"'Tis time that ye say goodbye, Kagome." Kaede's voice was a harsh reminder to that reality, and Kagome dutifully nodded in acknowledgement and squeezed Inuyasha to her one last time.
"I'll miss you. I'll never forget this, any of it. I..."
"Keh, you'd best be going, wench." She drew back, knowing it was simply his way of trying to hide his own pain. Her heart hurt as she turned her back on him, directing her gaze to the dread well that was waiting to swallow her up and send her home to her own time. Why did it have to be this way?
Slowly, and with purpose, she strode towards the well and began to climb in, glancing back just once to take one last look at everything she had come to love for three years.
Sango and Miroku stood back a ways, the taijiya crying softly into the robes of the quiet, solemn monk as he held her. She had fought so long beside them that Kagome could not imagine a place where they were not beside her as friends and allies. Kouga stood slightly to the side of the couple, his own ears drooping much like Inuyasha's. The wolf demon had been content to say his goodbyes to the miko when she had decided upon her course of action, and it had been strangely heart-wrenching when the hanyou had let Kouga hug her in farewell. It was truly the end of an era. Kaede stood near the well, Shippou and Kirara beside her with the kit perched on the back of the enlarged demon. The kitsune had not stopped crying from the moment they had approached Kagome's final destination, and even now she found herself wanting to run and embrace him; to quell his sorrows and tell him she would stay forever. But that was impossible.
And then there was Inuyasha, watching her silently. He looked strangely majestic, one hand resting lightly on the hilt of Tetsusaiga while the other rested limply at his side. His face was solemn, his ears still plastered down to his long silver hair as though they would never rise again. The prayer beads hung handsomely around his neck, and she could only laugh softly with bitter memory. She had offered to remove them, but he had only pushed her hands away, telling her that it would remind him that she wasn't far away. No, five hundred years was not so far away.
Desperately trying to hold back tears, she turned away one final time and stared down into the well. When she spoke, her voice trembled and cracked, but sounded strong and sweet. "I'll never forget you. Goodbye." And then she practically threw herself into the wall, clutching the Shikon no Tama to her breast and making her first and only wish upon the sacred jewel that had run her life for three years.
Higurashi Kagome sighed as she gazed out the window of the bus carrying her into Japan. It had been years since she had been back to see the shrine, and now that she was done with school she could only be relieved to finally be seeing her home again. Four years has gone by and all of them bitterly happy. Four years since she had seen their smiling faces and heard their joyous voices. Four years since she had made the wish that had changed her life forever.
The bus pulled to a stop at the station and she distantly heard the driver announce that they had reached their destination, all the while mechanically moving to retrieve her bags from the overheard compartment.
She moved in a daze as she exited the bus, retrieving her luggage with a muttered 'thank you' and starting off down the street to where the shrine sat waiting for her. It was not a long walk, but long enough for her to think about the past and what had happened all those years ago.Inuyasha...
They had finally completed the jewel, defeated Naraku with the help of Sesshoumaru and Kouga. And then the time had come to make a decision. At first she had wanted to simply leave the jewel unpurified, but that option had been taken away when a pack of demons had mistakenly followed her through the well, thinking her easy prey. Though she had gotten away with her life- thanks to Inuyasha- afterwards there had been no question to what conclusion she had to draw. The well had to be sealed, if only to protect the people of both worlds. And that was what she had done, leaving them all behind to return to her world of cars and hospitals and machines.
At first she had been depressed, finishing high school with a blank expression and moving on to college without realizing what was happening. She had left Japan just to get away from the shrine and the well, knowing both would always remind her of the things she had left behind, of the people she could never see again. But, slowly, she had come to return to a world of life and happiness, moving on with her life to become a physical therapist. Now she was twenty-two. She was no longer the little girl who had been pulled through the well, but a woman with a career and a future.
She was grown up.
"Kagome!" Glancing up, she saw a young man with stark black hair running towards her, grinning happily as he came to stand in front of her, grabbing at her bags to relieve her of her burden. "You're finally home!"
"Souta!" She laughed and threw her arms around her little brother as she recognized him. He had grown over the time she was gone, and she realized with sudden fascination that he was now a young man, soon to be going off to college himself. Still, she noticed that he retained his strangely boyish features, and adding to that the fact that he was taller than her now, she concluded that he was certainly cute enough for any girl to want to hug- even if he was not necessarily attractive in the way some girls fantasized.
The two siblings laughed and hugged each other happily as they turned to enter their house, luggage-filled arms trying their best to stay hooked around each other's back and shoulders. If anything, Kagome could feel her brother practically carrying her through the doorway as they burst through the doors and into the kitchen.
"Mama! Grandpa! I'm home!"
They were still laughing when her mother and grandfather finally entered the kitchen, the older woman rushing to embrace both her children as if they might disappear the next moment. "Kagome, you're home! I'm so glad!" That only made them laugh harder, and Kagome happily included her mother and, soon after, her grandfather in the group hug they were enjoying. It was truly a happy moment for the family.
Finally they untangled themselves from each other and she excused herself in order to start unpacking her luggage in her room. With the help of her brother she managed to drag her bags and suitcases into her room before closing the door and all but passing out on her bed, her eyes taking in the sights around her.
The room was exactly as she remembered it, girlish and tidy with her window looking out upon the shrine grounds. Night was falling quickly by the time she had managed to get everything settled into the small room, but she was strangely relieved to simply by laying there on her bed again, looking upon the place where she had grown up. Even her desk was still sitting there, unused but cheerful with the array of accessories: pencils and pens she had left behind, notebook paper, old cram books she had bought for herself, gifts from friends, and a few pictures here and there.
Standing, she approached the desk in order to examine the pictures and stopped short, staring at one in particular. Even from across the room she knew exactly how everyone looked.
It was a picture of the two of them a few weeks before the well had been sealed and right after their defeat of Naraku. They had all been so happy then, and she had brought her camera in order to capture the memories. This particular one had been taken without her knowledge- by Shippou nevertheless- but she had always considered it her most precious memory.
Inuyasha had just landed outside the village, carrying her bridal-style after a battle with a bear youkai. She had found herself staring at him, reluctant to climb down, and he had stared back, reluctant to put her down. He had looked so thoughtful and content in that moment, simply gazing down at her, and she had felt the edges of her lips rise in a gentle smile as she watched him watch her. And then a camera flash had gone off and all hell had broken loose as Inuyasha had attempted to rend the kitsune to shreds, ending only when Kagome had yelled "it" until the hanyou's ears rang. It really had been funny, though.
She sighed and moved to pick up the picture, running her fingers over the glass of the frame it sat within. How she missed those moments, few and hurried as they'd been. How she missed him...
"Kagome! Dinner!" Her head turned and she was forced to put the picture aside while rushing out of her room.
The next day she found herself walking down the street, groceries in hand, headed back towards the shrine with a smile on her face. It felt relaxing to be at home again- to be the child again. She suddenly realized she liked the feeling of being someone's daughter instead of another adult trying to make it in life. She liked being Higurashi Kagome.
Bounding up the shrine steps, she could see Goshinboku looming before her and she smiled gently, bypassing the house in order to make her way to the towering God tree.
Through it all, the tree had been something constant in her life- both in her time and in the Sengoku Jidai. Though the sight brought back bitter, sad memories, it also made her happy to know that her friends could be looking upon the same tree, no matter what time they lived in. Goshinboku would be standing for as long as she lived, and that meant that she could at least share something with her companions, even if it was not their company.
At least, if only for a moment, she could be part of them once more.
She watched as the tree grew closer, her eyes observing the branches as they swayed with the gentle afternoon breeze, and only stopped at the last moment as she realized there was someone else beside the tree. Her eyes slowly widened as she watched the stranger: a young man. A young man with long, silver hair, clawed hands, amber eyes...
Without realizing it, her fingers jerked and then went limp, her mouth falling open as the groceries tumbled to the ground from her nerveless hands. Choking back a sob, she stepped forward, eyes opening until they threatened to jump from her skull. "I-Inuyasha...?" And then he turned, and she saw the trick of her mind begin to fade.
No, this man was not Inuyasha... Short, black hair and brown eyes that stared at her with puzzlement. No, this was most certainly not her Inuyasha. It was then that she noticed the other man beside him, perhaps her brother's age, with a long red ponytail and bright green eyes. Most likely they were simply tourists, coming to see the shrine. With a sigh, she rubbed her eyes and looked around, crouching down to begin to pick up the groceries with mutter curses towards her naiveté.
She stopped once again when she saw a hand reach other to help her.
Looking up, Kagome found the black-haired man staring intently into her eyes, holding out a can for her to place back in her bag. Blushing, she gratefully took it and tucked it away, then stood to greet the two men who now stood before her.
"I've very sorry. I'm a bit of klutz," she said, smiling sheepishly as the pink dusting her cheeks deepened into a fine scarlet. The younger man smiled widely at her, seemingly happy about something she could only guess at. The other man, however, simply continued to look at her as though she were a foreign object, neither smiling nor blinking. This unnerved her, but she continued to talk, brushing past them in order to gesture to Goshinboku. "I see you were admiring the sacred tree. I can tell you a bit about it, if you would like."
"Oh, that would be-!"
"No, that's okay." Kagome was startled when she heard the dark-haired man interrupt the younger, the boy's face falling into a precious pout that would normally be found on a child. "We can't stay. Maybe another time..."
"Oh... Well, thank you for coming. My name is Kagome, by the way. Feel free to stop by again any time." Even as she spoke she saw the man begin to walk off, the redhead following dejectedly. She blinked, but did not attempt to stop them, simply turning with a rueful shake of her head to retreat into the house and put away her day's shopping.
The two men continued walking away from the shrine, the redhead glancing back constantly as he practically jogged to keep up with his companion. All the while, he was becoming more and more irritated.
"Why did you leave? We could have talked to her! There's nothing wrong with doing that."
"Keh, don't be naïve. What good would that do?"
The younger man stumbled at the question, obviously caught in his anger, but he quickly regained his footing. "It's not about whether it helps or harms or does nothing! I just wanted to talk to her!" The statement earned him a glare.
"Then go talk to her!"
The younger man came to surprised halt. "You... you don't want to see her? Inuyasha?"
With a speed that normal men did not possess, the dark-haired man turned and grabbed his companion, slamming his back harshly up against a nearby wall. "NO, I don't want to see her! We only came to make sure she had made it back safely. Now we're leaving, and we're never coming back!" And with that he released the boy with a growl, turning away to continue walking. "And what did I tell you about calling me that name?" In his haste he could not see the tears that began to form in the eyes of his young companion.
"I... I hate you! After all this time, you don't even want to SEE her!" He turned abruptly just in time to see the boy run off in the opposite direction, brown eyes wide with surprise. Had... had he upset him that much?
Frowning, he turned back with a scoff and went on his way, shoving his hands into his pockets. What did he care anyways? Five hundred years was nothing to a demon, just like four years was nothing to a human. What did it matter anymore? As long as she was safe. As long as she was alive...
With a sigh he effortlessly jumped onto the roof of the nearest building and began to look for the fleeing kitsune, sharp eyes watching the movement on the streets until- there! A flash of red streaked through the crowd, and the smell of fox wafted up from the pavement. With the slightest flex of his legs and muscles, he was in place to stop the kit in his tracks, and he did so with ease and even a little bit of grace he had gained over the years, holding the struggling boy until he calmed himself and stopped cursing the hanyou to hell and back. Finally, he lost all patience.
"Shut UP already, damnit! We'll go see her tomorrow if you want to so bad!" That was enough to shut the kitsune's mouth, and Inuyasha watched in satisfaction as the boy went almost limp where he stood.
"Keh, yes, but don't expect me to be happy about it!" He turned his head to the side and removed his hands from the kit's shoulders in order to cross them stubbornly over his chest, but he did not miss the light that had suddenly returned to those green eyes. It was not the first time that he realized the boy acted almost exactly like her at times...
"Oh, thank you!" He was startled out of his stance when he felt the full weight of the redhead being thrown at him, and was even forced to stumble backwards to catch himself, scowling.
"Alright, already. C'mon, I want to eat sometime today," he grumbled, detaching the excited "teenager" from his clothing before stalking off, the kitsune taking off at what could only be described as a skip. He shook his head in exasperation at the boy's antics. Still, he couldn't help but smile ever so subtly.Tomorrow...
AN: New story! At first I wanted this to be a one-shot, but as I was writing it I realized more and more that I just wasn't writing it out to be that way, so here we go again. . Enjoy! Comments and suggestions are very welcome!